Shaping Your Attacks

"One strike becomes three! A swift jab becomes two dolphins!"
Francisco Guerra, Paranatural

Ki Attacks and Elemental Powers are cool, but what if you want something more appealing than the usual Kamehame Hadoken wave or fireballs or lightnings? The answer is to give your attack a special form.

It can be anything, including weapons, objects and animals. Usually it's strictly done for Rule of Cool or for characterize the user of said powers, for example a bird-related character will make avian-shaped attacks. Dragons tend to be a popular choice too. It may overlap with Weapon of Choice in some cases of weapon-shaped attacks.

Don't confuse with Energy Weapon, which is usually perpetual while the "Shaped Attack" is only temporary. When used to create a weapon it becomes a form of Spontaneous Weapon Creation.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern, being equipped with, well, a Green Lantern Ring, use this superpower. On one occasion he used the ring to manifest sumo wrestlers and sic them at some mooks.
  • In X-Men, Jean Grey can unleash her "Phoenix Force" in the form of a phoenix made of fire and psychic energy. Another mutant, Psylocke, can create a literal psychic knife.
  • The Human Torch can do this. His most well known application being the Fantastic Four signal flare.

    Literature 
  • In the Harry Potter series the Expecto Patronum spell goes from a silvery mist to a shapeless mass of light but to, when mastered, the form of the character's animal spirit.
    • Fiendfyre is also described as taking the shape of raging animals — dragons, lions, serpents, anything dangerous. It does this in the film as well, and takes Voldemort's form when a horcrux is consumed.
  • In an early Wheel of Time book, the Amyrlin Seat demonstrates that it's possible to shape a sword out of Air, which is even fairly strong, but says it's less practical than just pushing things around.
  • Justified in Codex Alera. There are lots of animal-shaped attacks because Elemental Powers come from furies, and the most powerful ones typically have a preferred shape (for instance, Bernard's earth fury is a dog, Amara's wind fury is a horse, and Gram's fire fury is a hummingbird).

    Film 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons the player character is actually suggested to give his spells a distinctive form, like using a star-shaped fireball, but the spell has its limits. There's also the "animate breath" spell which can make a temporary mook out of a breath weapon.
    • In the Dragon Lance setting there's a spell that can create spears of lightning.
    • Elevated to actual mechanical relevance by the "shape spell" feat, which gives your spell's shape actual practical relevance instead of just a shiny new visual. In the star-shaped fireball example, you could make it a star oriented so that you allies fell between the points and weren't burned.
  • As suggested by the page image (Lightning Axe), Magic: The Gathering has its fair share of these sorts of spells. They often show up in red or black, the two colors most likely to produce a direct magical attack.
    • Lava Axe
    • Flame Javelin
    • Flame Fusillade
    • Tendrils of Corruption
    • Demonfire

    Video Games 
  • In The Legend of Dragoon Greham has an attack that makes spears of energy, while the White Silver Dragoon can make arrows out of light.
  • In Devil May Cry Dante with the Sparda Devil Trigger can toss a dragon made of crimson energy at his foes. Vergil and Nero both have Summoned Swords but with different designs - Vergil's Summoned Swords is shaped like Force Edge, whereas Nero's is more along the lines of a two-sided shuriken.
  • Masou Kishin bots in Super Robot Wars can use ultimate attacks that take energy and shape it into animal-like forms, like Cybuster's Akashic Buster.
  • Burn in Psychic Force can shape his flames to form pentagrams and fowls.
  • In the first title of Samurai Shodown, Amakusa can fire some ghost-shaped fireballs, Ukyo can send a swallow-shaped blast from his sword and the Warrior Monk Gaira can smash and stun his enemies summoning a shining Asura demon made of energy.
  • Oichi from Sengoku Basara 3 can shape her darkness in the form of two or more huge black arms. However in this case is unknown who controls who.
  • Kenshin Uesugi from Samurai Warriors can summon phoenixes and wolves made of energy, and in late games even a temporary, huge copy of himself made of transparent light.
  • The Ghost units in Wesnoth can send "wails" in the form of purple face-shaped attacks.
  • An attack similar to the above-mentioned wail happens in Splatterhouse 2 with one boss.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII there are Megagash and Gigagash, which consist in huge sword-shaped energy streams. The hero can also learn a Dragon-shaped energy attack similar to the Ryuuken attack.
  • Viewtiful Joe has several dragon-shaped attacks, including the "Red Hot Dragon Kick" (Red Hot Kick when Zoomed in).
  • Super Smash Bros. gives Captain Falcon the Falcon Punch, a powerful punch attack surrounded by a falcon-shaped flame.
  • As a general rule, any spell in the Tales series with "blade", "lance", or "sword" in the name will look like Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Certain melee attacks also qualify, and there are even a few shaped healing spells.
  • Shang Tsung of Mortal Kombat throws fireballs with skulls inside them. They might actually be souls, considering the character, but he definitely does it for the intimidation factor.
  • Path of Exile allows players to purchase and customize certain attacks to make them look different. A good example of this trope is allowing the standard low-level amorphous firebolt to turn into a pretty awesome looking dragon.

    Web Original 
  • In Phaeton we have:
    • Trayen's boomerang shaped "windblades" and rapid fire bubble "wavebeam".
    • Trayen's elemental orbs.
    • Jodie's psychic weapons.