In-Universe explanation offered for why these items have to be together to produce the extra effects. It could be said that the enchantments need to 'overlap' or that the pieces when connected form the circuit of a system that then produces the effects. Most games with this mechanic will also have each item's description "kindly" inform the player of the potential benefits, without any proper explanation of just how the character could know about them. Maybe they were written somewhere on the items themselves. This trope is absurdly prevalent (though by no means universal) in MMORPGs but it turns up in other genres as well. It is often used to encourage trading among players but it has the side effect of making the more obsessed sink extra time and money into a game. If significant enough, this trope should hopefully cut down on Rainbow Pimp Gear. Outside of MMORPGs, stories may have magical accessories, weapons, or magic rings be created as part of a set by powerful mages with this intended effect. Related to Gotta Catch Them All.
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Anime & Manga
- In The Slayers, Lina has four magical amplifiers (that she bought off of Xellos) that work better in tandem then separately.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the (Nameless) Pharaoh, aka Yami Yugi, cannot move on to the afterlife without all seven Millennium Items AND knowledge of his true name.
- In the card game you can summon Exodia. He's five level 1 cards: two arms, two legs and a head. On their own they're weak as hell. Together? Instant win.
- In Transformers Armada, there are three sets of Mini-cons that fuse together to form the Star Saber, the Skyboom Shield, and the Requiem Blaster.
- Bleach: In the anime filler Gotei 13 Invasion arc, seven lieutenants and the filler heroine, Nozomi, are fighting one reigai captain but don't have enough power to defeat him. Nozomi uses her shikai to absorb all seven lieutenats zanpakutou powers to combine it with her own into a single attack. The captain is promptly one-shotted. The anime never offers any explanation for how this fusion magically turned "not enough power" into "more than enough power".
- In Toriko, each of the ingredients in Acacia's Full Course apparently has amazing effects. Eating all of them together also grants the power to use Gourmet Cells at peak efficiency.
- In the Marvel Comics Crisis Crossover, The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos combines the Infinity Gems, each one of which already grants considerable power, to form the nigh-omnipotent Infinity Gauntlet.
- In Green Lantern this is the case when anyone wears more than one lantern ring, the wielder gets to essentially dual wield (or multi wield) superpowers. Combining different colored rings can be even more spectacular since they have interesting synergies. Hal Jordan has done this◊ twice with Green and Yellow rings. In Brightest Day, Krona did this with rings of every color!
- Particularly notable here is the interaction between the Green and Blue rings, representing Will and Hope respectively, even when they're worn by separate wielders. The Blue rings are near-powerless on their own, but when Hope is bolstered by Will (the presence of a Green ring) it practically becomes capable of miracles. In turn, the power of Hope supercharges the Will of nearby Green rings.
- Kyle Rayner (pictured) learns the benefits and the downsides of using a ring of every color in the New 52. He later learns how to invoke this with a single ring, which leads to becoming a White Lantern.
- In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, simply wearing one of the two Silver Slippers (Ruby in the movie) is enough to give the wearer near complete invulnerability to magical attack and physical harm. Having both gives the wearer wish granting abilities close to a 3 or 4 on the Super Weight scale.
- The eponymous artifacts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were believed to make the owner of all three Master of Death, granting immortality. The true Master of Death is one who knows Death is inevitable despite the existence of magic and accepts it when it comes.
- In V. Panov's Secret City the protagonists are hired to gather a specific set of Faberge's eggs, each one containing a figurine associated with a continent. The full set of figurines combined with the original enchanted map becomes a treasure-locating artifact.
- This trope is in effect in works of the Literary RPG (litRPG) genre, as they are commonly set in MMORPG video games.
- In V. Ushakov's Manoratkha the protagonist found a dual-wield set of a legendary sword and dagger on two otherwise unrelated and convoluted quests. The NPC who hands him the reward for the second quest actually mentions that the Set Bonus exists and is very surprised to see the protagonist's character have the first weapon already.
- In R. Mikhaylov's Rule of the Sleepless Clan the protagonist happens to solve an already hidden quest in an extremely specific manner, thus triggering a second hidden quest to find a legendary scattered armor. The armor becomes more powerful with each new piece found and will supposedly reach full potential when complete.
Live Action TV
- The "objects" in The Lost Room can be lethal on their own, but when one person has more than one they tend to become obscenely powerful. One particular combination of objects can potentially create a localized rip in space-time.
- This shows up every so often in Heroes. Hiro's time-travelling is greatly helped by hints from Isaac's ability to predict the future. Samuel's ability to control earth (and ink) and Lydia's empath powers combine into a limited form of clairvoyance, which Samuel uses to find other people with abilities.
- In one episode of White Collar, a thief was collecting a set of jade elephants that became much more valuable when all of them were sold together. Neal tried to lure her in by offering to team up so they could sell the full set and split the profits.
- Kamen Rider OOO's Core Medals come in sets of three, and using a set of medals of the same type gives him increased powers and a new ability at the cost of leaving him exhausted when he powers down. The villains similarly gain increased powers the more Medals they have, along with a special Set Bonus of their own when they have all nine of their respective color. It's most notable with Gamel, whose bonus ability takes him from the least dangerous of the Greeed to a Person of Mass Destruction.
- In Monopoly, the player is only allowed to build houses and hotels on properties where they own the entire color block. Just owning the entire block doubles the basic rent.
- Railroads and Utilities have similar perks. Each Railroad the player owns doubles the rent. The two Utilities, the Electric Company and the Waterworks, normally charge rent equal to four times the number of the dice roll which landed the player on the Utility. If both Utilities are owned by one player, the multiplier is increased to ten.
- Risk provides additional troop bonuses when you occupy an entire continent.
- As well as when you trade in three cards with matching symbols.
- The Pokémon board game Master Trainer gives you a bonus if you collect pokemon from the same evolutionary line. If you have two of them, the highest evolution gets a +3 attack bonus and if you have 3, the highest gets a +5. The game leaves it up to house rules what to do if you get more of the eeveelutions than just Eevee and an evolved form, since it's the only set in the game with more than 3 members and no defined "highest" evolution.
- The most ubiquitous of this trope in Magic The Gathering is the "Urzatron": Urza's Mine, Urza's Tower, and Urza's Power Plant. They give one mana each normally, but if you control all three, you get seven mana from them.
- Speaking of Magic, Visions had Feral Shadow, Breathstealer, and Urborg Panther. Sacrifice all three of them to bring Spirit of the Night into play directly from your deck.
- Having Helm, Shield, and Sword of Kaldra all in play (each a strong card in their own right) and you can put a 4/4 legendary token creature (aptly named Kaldra) into play and attach all three of them to it for a much lower cost than attaching individually.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the five Exodia cards are worthless on their own. Get all five in your hand, and you automatically win the game.
- There are also dozens of archetypes that entire decks can be built around (Six Samurai, Laval, Ice Barrier, Evol, Archfiends...)
- If all five Exodia cards are in the graveyard, the player can use "Contract with Exodia" to special summon "Exodia Necross", an invincible zombie that gets stronger every turn. The only way to get rid of it is to remove one of the Exodia cards from the graveyard.
- Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons has the Adventurer's Vault 2, which offers a few item sets. Most are the typical matched armor and/or weapon sets that gain additional bonuses when a character has more pieces of the set equipped. There are also a few 'group' sets which have similar bonuses for each member of the adventuring party using them.
- 3.5 introduced non-artifact set items in the Magic Item Compendium, though the original D&D set items are probably the Regalia of Might, printed in Eldritch Wizardry in 1976. 3 alignment specific sets consisting each of a Rod, an Orb and a Crown. All three were powerful artifacts in their own right, and made stronger when brought together. The Hand and Eye of Vecna probably also count.
- Item (particularly, armor) sets in Diablo II and Diablo III give you set bonuses if you wear some or all of them at once.
- Armor in Dragon Age gives additional bonuses if it forms a matching set.
- Certain weapon combos do the same, such as Maric's Sword and Cailan's Shield. Most fall into that sword-and-board type, but the expansion Awakening offers up a sword and dagger set bonus for dual wielders.
- Certain rings also provide additional benefits when paired together.
- Ditto armor sets from Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II. There were also some non-armor item sets, such as paired rings.
- In fact Dragon Age II has an armor set for Hawke to be collected for every chapter of the game, and one in both DLC campaigns. The final act 3 set is Hawke's iconic Champion Armor.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy has a lot of these. Many equipment items have a property that, if you have three (or, in some cases, four) items with the same property equipped, you get a bonus effect.
- Magic Rampage: Using items with the same magic-type incur damage bonuses.
- RuneScape uses this a lot. There are certain sets of clothing that boost the amount of experience you gain in skills. Wearing the entire set will raise the boost above just the sum of its parts. Additionally, certain armour sets will grant boosts to your combat stats, or grant access to special attacks, but only if every piece is worn.
- The Seven Chaos Emeralds in nearly all Sonic the Hedgehog media; collecting them all allows access to Sonic's (and sometimes' another's) Super Mode. Individually, they rarely serve as anything more important than a Plot Coupon, maybe they might even allow for Cutscene Power to the Max, but in terms of functional gameplay, nada.
- The Fused Shadows in Twilight Princess. Individually, each fragment holds a dark power that can warp the mind of whoever comes in contact with them. However, it is only when the three are combined that their true power can be called forth.
- The Zelda series in general has the three parts of the Triforce. They are three magical artifacts which were created by the 3 Goddesses themselves. Each fragment supposedly contains the essence of the goddess that created it: Power, Wisdom and Courage. When all three parts are combined, it forms a completed Triforce which will grant the wish of the first person to touch it. However, if that person has an unequal balance of Power, Wisdom or Courage, they will only receive the essence they value most (Ganondorf treasured Power, so that's all he got). The other two parts will then seek out champions which most exemplify the other two traits (Zelda—Wisdom & Link—Courage) to defend itself. It's only when all of the champions have been defeated (or willingly surrender their Triforce piece) that the complete Triforce will reappear and the wish can finally be granted.
- In Vindictus, each armor suit has a couple of stats that increase incrementally as you put on more pieces, on top of the bonus the pieces themselves give you. This is why you will rarely see a Vindictus player wearing mix-and-match armor.
- In The World Ends with You, many "Gatito" brand pins only function in battle if the player can collect all the pins in a set. The "Darklit Planets" set (comprising six pins) is an exception as each can be used individually, but they power up significantly if the player has all six. Which is no easy task, and involves beating the Bonus Boss on the highest difficulty.
- zOMG: ring sets.
- Kingdoms Of Camelot on Facebook has a full set bonus now that the last of the four Guardians has been released. Only one Guardian can be active at a time, but unlocking all four gives the player a bonus, likely either resources or items for use in-game.
- This is the idea of set bonuses for the Invention Origin Enhancements in City of Heroes. A character can only have one of each part of the set in a single power and with each piece added another stat bonus is unlocked. These bonuses are special in that they affect all powers on that character and each bonus can be stacked up to five times as it is possible to use most sets in multiple powers. It is also possible to use more two or three partial sets in the same power in order to create all sorts of set bonus mixes (though usually the best bonuses require having most or all pieces of one set.)
- Further on in the game, as more and more sets became available, partial sets became the norm rather than the exception: using two or three sets which maximized as many stats as possible (and, preferably, gave the ever-coveted +Recharge Rate or +Defense) was referred to as 'Frankenslotting'.
- A minor example, but in the second Neverwinter Nights Expansion, Hordes of the Underdark, if you can find and equip all of Lord Nasher's lost equipment, they each become far more powerful.
- Terraria features multiple sets of armor made out of various different materials. If you wear a complete set of armor made out of a single type of material (all iron armor, all meteor armor, all mythril armor, etc.), then you get a set bonus. The mid-to-late game armors generally have some very nice set bonuses on them, such as extra melee power, more mana, or increased movement speed. Even in the early game, it's generally better to wear a complete set of armor made from one material (i.e. a full set of copper armor is better than if you had two pieces of copper armor and one piece of iron). With the introduction of hardmode and its new materials, each set of armor made from those materials has three different headpieces you can pick from, each of which will improve your skills with either melee combat, ranged weapons, or magic.
- In The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb, acquiring 3 out of 4 specific cat-related itemsnote in a single playthrough will transform Isaac into his deceased cat, Guppy. Not only it makes you look hilarious / adorable, but it grants you the abilities to fly and spawn blue flies whenever you hit enemies. Needless to say, it is an incredibly nifty bonus.
- In Titan Quest you can find certain items that, just like in Diablo, can form a set and give you bonuses if you wear more and more of them. They can be both blue (rare) and on Epic and Legendary, Purple (mythic). Plus, certain item sets works better on certain classes. Last but not least, thanks to the Caravans from the Expansion is possible to pass parts of these sets to other player. In short, is easier to collect all the sets and give them to the most suitable character.
- In Drakensang, as part of the plot you have to collect all the parts of the Fire Armor (which is, helm, gloves, boots, greaves, armor, shield and Infinity+1 Sword. The last one depends on the main character's Weapon of Choice).
- Certain armor in Torchlight does this. It actually tells you a) that it's in a set, b) the name of the set, and c) what bonuses you'll get for getting more pieces.
- Expansion packs to Heroes of Might and Magic III introduced these, as certain sets of items when equipped result in absurdly powerful bonuses. In fact, two of the campaigns in Shadow of Death revolve around gathering those... for the Big Bad. Another campaign revolves around splitting one. The campaign that ties all of the stories together revolves around the heroes' efforts to reunite the divided set to counter the ones owned by the Big Bad.
- The initial concept of the 'combination artifacts' was introduced in the expansion to Heroes II. The main difference — and why it counts as less this trope than the Heroes III ones — was that the combination was irreversible (in terms of gameplay, if not the story). Of course, storywise it is still a sword, an armor and a helmet, it just takes up a single inventory slot instead of three and grants the powers of all three artifacts (plus a minor additional boost, but the real set bonus was the single slot thing).
- World of Warcraft has an armor set for each class for each tier or season for both PVP and PVE. That's a lot of sets.
- There are also sets you can craft, and sets that can get dropped. There are also sets of 2 items, 3 items, 4 items, etc... including one set that's nothing but two one-handed weapons.
- Used to be played straight with World of Warcraft's item sets which grant increasing bonuses the more items from a given set are equipped. Downplayed nowadays so that people would actually have a choice of equipment; a typical set has 5 parts with bonuses awarded for 2 and 4 matching items, while before the Burning Crusade expansion sets had 8 parts and all were required to get the best bonus.
- Having three matching viviosaurs of a set on your team in Fossil Fighters is necessary for using their team attacks. What makes a set varies, but it can be things like similar styles, diets, or elements.
- In Animal Crossing, you get bonus points for your HRA score by collecting pieces of furniture sets, themes, and series.
- Tactics Ogre Also used the set equipment variant, usually giving the character a lesser weight penalty.
- In Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, depending on their version, the player gets an item that lets them capture either Kyogre or Groudon. Regardless of which one they caught, however, Oak's reaction is to state that he thinks of the pair as a set, and wonders if you can capture the other one. However, you can only capture one of the pair in each version — and the next event won't be triggered by any normal Groudon/Kyogre — you specifically need one who was lured in and caught by the exclusive HG/SS item.
- There's also Plusle and Minun (and in later games, a handful of other Electric-types), who get a stat boost when they're paired together in a Double Battle.
- Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters has armor pieces that can be discovered while playing through the levels. Collect and equip a matching set confers an additional bonus, such as adding acid or fire to your melee attacks.
- Chrono Cross - collecting a special set of equipment for Pierre turns him from Joke Character to Lethal Joke Character.
- Dragon Quest VII uses this during the Style Contests in Litorud. Matching certain weapons, armor and accessories together (like Bunny Ears, Bunny Suit, Bunny Tail and a Silver Tray) gives you bonus points for coordination.
- Final Fantasy XI has two different kinds of set bonuses. The first and by far the most common type requires that all pieces of a particular set be equipped in order to get the effect, which for the most part isn't worth it, though the Usukane Haramaki set is fantastically powerful for Monks and Puppetmasters, and the full Perle Hauberk set is good for Dragoons and Dark Knights. The second type, used only in Campaign armour, allows for a partial bonus if two or more pieces of the set are equipped. Unfortunately, Campaign armour is so underpowered that even this doesn't make it useful. Rainbow Pimp Gear still rules the day for the majority of jobs.
- The Lord of the Rings Online has sets of armor, sets of jewlery, and sets that are a mix of both. However, some class-specific armor sets have a bonus for all six pieces, such as a 10% chance of instantly cooling down an ability .
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam gives stat bonuses for equipping parts made by the same inventor, and special skills for equipping multiples of the same part type.
- You get a one-time bonus in Rise of Nations's Conquer-The-Entire-World campaign for controlling a complete continent.
- Outfits in Kingdom of Loathing often have extra effects. For example, the eXtreme Cold-Weather Gear gives you a big boost to cold resistance, while the Clockwork Apparatus causes you to gain a beneficial effect instead of taking damage if you fumble a basic attack. To get the outfit bonus, you must be wearing every piece of the outfit. This also brings with it a change in your avatar.
- In Billy Vs SNAKEMAN, some teams of allies have extra bonuses on top of individual ally bonuses.
- Wearing all three pieces of a cosplay set during BillyCon gives you that set's "combo", a fourth cosplay piece for all intents and purposes.
- Monster Hunter has every set of armor only provide bonus skills and resistances when the full 5-piece set is worn—or at least combined with equipment that gives similar skills.
- In AdventureQuest, mastercraft items have a set bonus—for example, the Golden set having you heal half the damage you deal on a special attack. These are usually synched with the abilities of the items in the set. For example, the Golden set was meant for durability, hence the healing, Another notable example would be the Awe set, which gives you the ability to stun your target on an attack, which when combined with it's other Stone Wall properties, would give you more chances to turn on Power Word Die which had a 1% chance. Most others just enhance one of the set's items with higher rates or an added effect.
- Flyff had the green items (which were not green, but had their name in green). Usually people would only wear green items because their bonuses and the amount of time you could use them was far greater than the normal items. Of course they were also really expensive.
- Team Fortress 2 uses these, with one for every class but The Engineer. They are quite blatantly Revenue Enhancing Devices, being difficult to craft in game and being offered in a bundle for a discount. However, the second wave of sets don't require the themed hat to get the bonus, so they are more feasible to collect without spending real money.
- This is parodied by the "Dual-Purpose Fruit" set, of which one component is actually a long existing item, as the effect is "Reduces the chance of hunger by 13%". 0 is in fact equal to 87% of 0.
- As of the July 10, 2013 Update, however, the original 8 sets no longer affect gameplay, changing this from Set Bonus to a Cosmetic Award which leave specialized markers whenever you get a kill while using them.
- An unusual version that's just barely not a Cosmetic Award: the promotional items from Alien: Isolation include a set of items for the Pyro which, together, make his primary weapon specifically more damaging to Scout's wearing the other item set (a Xenomorph costume) at the cost of taking more melee damage from them. This basically lets people with each set cosplay at Ripley and the Alien without affecting anyone else.
- Mega Man X's armor system in Mega Man X8 allows him to interchange parts between the two armors, Icarus and Hermes. However, if he instead equips a complete set, a special ability of that armor will be available for use: Icarus comes with the series' trademark Giga Attack, while Hermes has the X-Drive, increasing the capabilities of the Hermes armor further.
- The Junk Armor in Mega Man Zero 4 comes in three pieces: head, body and legs. Only when Zero equips all three parts should the armor's ability be in effect: doubling his attack power while halving his defense.
- In The Elder Scrolls franchise, Dwemer armor is supposed to work like this if the wearer has a complete set, lorewise. A quest-reward perk in Skyrim is meant to provide such a bonus in-game, but actually just gives you a permanent armor bonus whatever you're wearing.
- In Skyrim the right perks in Heavy or Light armor will increase your total armor rating if you are wearing a full set of heavy or light armor. In the Dragonborn DLC, the enchantments on each piece of the Deathbrand armor set become stronger if you wear the other pieces of the set. The enchantments on the scimitars Bloodscythe and Soulrender become stronger if they are wielded together. This also complements the Deathbrand set nicely, since the Deathbrand Gauntlets increase damage done by dual wielding weapons.
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance gave bonuses depending on who was in your party, usually if they were part of a team like The Avengers or the Fantastic Four. Or if you group up people with similar traits, like the "Please Stop Talking!" group.
- Itadaki Street is similar in nature to Monopoly. Collecting all of the same color command tiles results in a 50% increase in all of the tiles in that color's value. It also showed up in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep has a minigame called Command Board.
- Star Trek Online has a number of item sets that follow this trope. All but one consist of three items (from September 2012 onward. Before there had been a four-item set), with the exception consisting of two items. Generally one power is added when two items are combined, and a second when three are combined (some sets also grant an additional power at that point if used on the right ship).
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has the Alucart items (not to be confused with them Alucard items), the Alucart Sword, Shield, and Mail. On their own, they have pitiful stats and no special properties. Put them together and they grant you +30 LCK, greatly increasing the chances of critical hits and rare drops.
- Guild Wars 2 has runes, which gives set bonuses when you apply them to your current armor. They come as minor runes (two bonuses if two are applied to your armor), major runes (four bonuses if four are applied to your armor) and superior runes (six bonuses if six are applied to your armor). Unlike most Set Bonus examples however, you can just get one set bonus with only one rune. You will still need a full set to get all of the bonuses, however.
- In the Disgaea series, items have a specific "set" number, which determines if the item will be a common, a rare, or a legendary (lowest numbers=legendary). Equipping two or more items with the same number boosts the effectiveness of those items, with the boost getting progressively larger the more items match.
- In Elsword there are a few different types of sets. Upgraded equipment (with a purple name) and Secret Dungeon equipment (with a tan/"gold" name), most costumes (save for the earlier sets), and some accessories all receive set bonuses dependent on how many pieces you wear, usually a decent stat bonus but also some specialty effects, such as reduced damage from certain enemies or even an extra level to certain skills.
- The point of the Rusty and Co. arc with Prestige Perkins: Prestige suspects that the Illithid Mobs are gathering lesser magical trinkets to create a dangerous weapon, later revealed to be a literal Magic Missile.
- In Darken, the Regalia of Evil is comprised of a thorn crown, sword and gauntlet. By themselves, they have relatively minor effects. Get all three, and they fuse with the wielder, who gets exponentially more powerful.
- BIONICLE: the Golden Armor.
- The Makluan Rings in Iron Man: Armored Adventures that the Mandarin is after.
- In ThunderCats (2011), the Thundercats and their Arch-Enemy Mumm-Ra hunt for various Power Crystals, one of which is the Cats' own Amulet of Concentrated Awesome, the Eye of Thundera. If all are placed in a sword and gauntlet, the wielder will be rendered nigh omnipotent.
- The Shen Gong Wu in Xiaolin Showdown tend to have this effect. There's a subset of them that when combined will create the dreaded Mala-mala Jong.
- The Meta-Nanites from Generator Rex, one lets you control temperature, one lets you control energy, one lets you control Gravity, one lets you control Time, and the last one Imitates Rexs powerset. Each one is at least a class 3 on the super weight scale but linked through Rex they are at least a class 5 if not class 7.
- The Elements of Harmony from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, individually they are just jewelry but together they can perform feats such as world healing waves.
- In Gargoyles, the Eye of Odin, the Phoenix Gate, and the Grimoire Acanorum are also known as the Three Keys of Power. Each is already a powerful artifact. Bringing all three together unlocks vast magical power. The spell responsible for the Gargoyles' Magic Pants was cast by a mage who possessed the Three Keys of Power at the behest of Caesar Augustus since he found the nudity of awakening Gargoyles distasteful. In the actual animated series the Archmage's Evil Plan was to obtain the Eye of Odin and the Phoenix Gate (he already had the Grimoire) to gain ultimate power. By the end of the animated series all three are lost forever. The Grimoire (which the Archmage ate to absorb it) destroys itself and the Archmage from within after he could no control its power due to losing the Eye. Odin reclaims his missing Eye. Goliath hurls the Phoenix Gate into the timestream to prevent anyone from using it again. In the comics the Gate is broken and releases the actual Phoenix that was imprisoned inside it.