A piece of Socketed Equipment comes with a number of empty "sockets," into which can be placed various "gems" (ie. Green Rocks
) to add more qualities to said piece of equipment: a ruby might add Fire damage (or resistance to fire); a black diamond might add life-drain; so on and so forth.
In the original concept of the trope as presented by Diablo
, once a gem was in a socket, the match was permanent and that was the end of the story. When combined with Randomly Generated Loot
(which the game also featured), this meant that every piece of EQ you encountered was completely unique, even before
you socketed it out. It also
meant you lived in fear of socketing a gem and then, on the very next dungeon crawl, uncovering an even better piece of gear that you would've rather saved the gem for
In technical terms, this trope is a modular customization scheme in which you can create gear with any combination of pre-determined qualities you desire. In general, it's only seen in games with Randomly Generated Loot
, since this ups the possible combinations immensely; it also means you can't control an item's sockets, style (IE sword vs spear vs etc) or pre-existing enchantments, and instead have to spend a lot of time adventuring (or Save Scumming
) in the hopes of finding that perfect piece of gear. This is a very
effective time sink.
Compare Gun Accessories
. Contrast Item Crafting
, which this is the aftermarket equivalent of.
- The Diablo series by Blizzard Entertainment, the Trope Namer, and many of its Follow the Leader clones, such as Torchlight and FATE. The latter two games allow you to destroy either the weapon to retrieve the gems, or smash the gems to re-open the slot, averting the problem of having the Random Number God award you better loot just after you made a gem/socket commitment. Torchlight also allowed you to combine two identical gems into one that's a level better.
- Diablo II allowed the upgrading of gems, either through the Horadric Cube or touching a gem shrine which would drop one of your gems on the ground as a higher level one (For example, touching a shrine while you have, for example, a chipped ruby would turn it into a flawed ruby). If you didn't have a gem, it would drop a random, chipped gem when activated.
- Far more forgiving in Diablo III. Once you find your jeweler, Covetous Shen, you can both combine gems that drop from monsters and treasure hoards into higher-stat gems by using his Crucible, and you can have gems removed from weapons, armor and other items for a nominal fee, which is VERY helpful, because creating the higher-end gems becomes hideously expensive later on.
- FATE, by contrast, had NPCs who would give the option of either destroying a gem to free up a used socket, or destroying the item to reclaim the gem.
- World of Warcraft, also by Blizzard introduced such items in the first Expansion pack. Sockets come in three different colours (Red, Yellow and Blue) (plus Meta Gems and Prismatic Slots), gems come in 3 primary and 3 secondary colours (Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Green and Purple, as well as Prismatic) and you get a bonus for matching up the colours. Gems can be either found or cut by Jewelcrafters. The best Gems can also only be used by Jewelcrafters. Uncut gems cannot be placed in sockets (in a massive aversion of All-Natural Gem Polish).
- Gems of secondary colors boost 2 stats, one from each of the primary colors that make it up, but by about half the amount as a primaries that make that color. They can also activate the sockets of either color that make it (Thus 2 Orange gems can give the same stat boost as a red gem and a yellow gem, but still counts towards the socket bonus if you have red slots.)
- Meta Gems are special and only found on "Head" slot items. They require different combinations of gems in other sockets before they can be used but provide different kinds of stats. Also Prismatic Gems and Slots can fulfill/be fulfilled by any gem color.
- Depending on the cut, color and type of gem/quality, the stats will differ. All red gems have the same dozen cuts that other colors can't be cut into, but the better the gem, the higher the stats increase.
- Also, while gems cannot be removed from slots, they can be replaced by a different one, with the original one being destroyed.
- Blacksmiths can also add slots to gear, the most common one (and only one usable by non blacksmiths) is a belt buckle that adds 1 prismatic socket to any belt.
- There was originally no restriction on the item you could socket a gem into... and then after Wrath of the Lich King came out, twinks would socket Wrath-level gems onto Burning Crusade level gear (which had lower base stats but tons of gem sockets to promote the feature when it was introduced). Once Cataclysm was released, gems could only be socketed to equipment from the same expansion or later.
- Divine Divinity refers to them as "charms". The difference here that the amount of charms you can put on a piece of equipment is determined by your Charms skill, in addition to the "Charm Quality" of the item.
- Final Fantasy VII and Materia are basically this, except without the mated-for-life aspect (as befits the Powers as Programs nature of Materia).
- Final Fantasy X allows you to modify weapons; its Green Rocks were generally consumable items (in varying quantities and rarities). While you can't unmodify a sword, you also don't need to; there's no randomly-generated equipment in the game. Instead, there is basically just one flavor of weapon and armor for each character, which is completely blank and which you then modify to your heart's desire, and which you can buy basically anywhere. Any combination of qualities you find in one weapon, you can create in another (with a few exceptions in the game's Infinity Plus One Swords).
- Also interesting to note is that weapons with 4 blank slots (max.) cost more than ones with 3 blanks and a good attribute preinstalled in the first slot, which means the game considers those more valuable...
- The enchantment system in Dragon Age: Origins. Sandal can add or remove runes free of charge. The runes themselves come in different grades; the most powerful ones usually have to be bought (which is the case for most of the uber gear in this game). The Expansion Pack added armor runes, and a pyramid style (consuming weaker ones to make stronger ones) upgrade/crafting skill for them (that could be a Game Breaker if you had enough money). Many players gave their weak ones to the mages/templars to strengthen their forces and get xp in the original campaign, then played Awakening and incidentally missed out on a lot of crafting opportunities.
- In Dragon Age II, the enchantment system is revised, runes can no longer be removed from equipment once they are set in, but can be replaced by other runes. Thanks to the revised crafting system, this method is actually more cost effective than the system that was in place in the first game.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, component upgrading is introduced for armor and weapons. Armor typically has arm and leg slots, while one-handed weapons typically have a grip/haft slot. Two-handers have an additional pommel slot. Bows have a slot for the hand grip, and staves have a slot for the shaft and the blade on the other end, and all weapons have a Rune slot. Bianca, Varric's one-of-a-kind crossbow, has the most of all with four; a bow limb slot, a grip slot, an aiming module slot, and a rune slot.
- FFCC: Echoes of Time has a forgiving gem system that works well with character customization. All equipment has one or more slots. Using equipment in battle increases its level. When it's level 3 it can be destroyed to produce a "Jewel". Jewels can be added and removed for a small fee. Some Jewels increase the level cap of equipment, and equipment produce two and three Jewels at levels 10 and 20 respectively. After beating the game for the first time, the player will have several Jewels and Armors to specialize their characters.
- Geneforge implemented a simple version of this from the third game onwards, along with Item Crafting. Almost every item can take one and only one gem, with the exceptions taking no gems because they're so powerful anyway.
- Ratchet & Clank: Deadlocked uses this. Each weapon has several slots for Alpha mods, which upgrade mundane things like damage, firing rate, and accuracy, and one slot for an Omega mod, which adds an odd effect like napalm, electric shock, or Baleful Polymorphism.
- Pangya equipment (y'know, golf clubs and clothes) features these.
- The way that you enhance your superpowers in City of Heroes works in a similar fashion. On level-ups that don't give new powers you will instead get 2-3 slots that you can distribute among your powers for a total of 6 slots per power. Enhancements go into those slots and work to improve the stats of that power such as increasing accuracy and damage or reducing recharge time. There are also special types of enhancements that improve 2, 3 or even 4 stats at the same time.
- You can also mix and match enhancement types. Just because you slotted 1 piece from the Touch of Death set doesn't mean that you must use only that set for that power (although you need more pieces of it to get the set-bonuses for having X number of that set's pieces). It's common place to mix different enhancement types and sets to get certain desired stat boosts, which is referred to as "frankenslotting".
- Both Knights of the Old Republic games featured "upgradeable" equipment that could be fitted with better components. In the first, armor and non-lightsaber weapons had only one "gem" per socket; all guns used the same scope, for instance, although some had different bonuses from it. In contrast, lightsabers not only had a wide variety of stat crystals for two slots (and a color slot), but also had two special color crystals (Mantle of the Force, and Heart of the Guardian) that changed the effects of absolutely every upgrade crystal, in two separate ways.
- The second game featured a full range of different components for each slot; weapons had three slots apiece, armor had two, and lightsabers had five (although two were "crystal" slots that worked like in the first game) not counting their color crystal. Any given slot had between about three and six different types of upgrade, each with multiple levels. These can now be crafted, with a large variety of skill requirements, making your crew's skills more useful. The main character (only) can get a special crystal that changes effect with the player's alignment and level, but the specialness is reserved for that crystal alone this time.
- Aion has sockets in all of the armors, weapons, and shields. The number of sockets usually depend on the item's rarity, but can vary in some exceptions. Players can slot manastones into these sockets to provide a direct boost to their stats, although putting more than one in an item may cause the socketing to fail, which destroys ALL the manastones already in that item! Some weapons also have a "godstone" slot that will accept one godstone that will give the weapon a chance to proc a specific effect, such as additional damage. And, on top of all of that, the players themselves can earn up to five stigma slots and three advanced stigma slots, which are used for slotting additional skills you can't obtain any other way.
- EVE Online has "rigs" - modules that can be fitted to space ships' "rig slots" but can never be removed except by destroying them. Basically sockets and gems in space.
- However, many rigs in EVE actually impart a penalty to one aspect of your ship, as well as the bonus to another one (for instance, increasing armor hp at the cost of a reduction in max speed). The various rigging skills reduce this penalty though.
- Similar to Knights of the Old Republic 2 (except not creatable), Mass Effect 1 had weapon, armor, grenade and ammunition upgrades. While early weapons and armor only had one weapon and armor upgrade slot, it increased to two slots in more powerful versions. However, there was only one grenade launcher, which only had one grenade upgrade slot, and each weapon could only have one ammunition upgrade.
- Mass Effect 2 "streamlined" this into universal (for class of gun a la sniper rifles) upgrade system, and ammo in the form of skill point costing ammo powers that were annoying to have to activate every level.
- Mass Effect 3 brought the system back, though only for weapons and each weapon has exactly two slots. Any upgrade or "mod" fits the basic five weapon types and can be put into any number of these weapons at once. Multiplayer also has three additional slots that affect the entire character, but the upgrades are used up after a mission. These include ammo mods (replacing ammo powers from singleplayer), damage boosts and armor boosts (ranging from faster shield recharge to faster power recovery or run speed). More types were added over time, and there is now a fourth slot for non-expendable upgrades that do all kinds of things, like increasing grenade, consumable, and ammunition carrying capacity, and specific and combined damage bonuses for the whole range of character builds/equipment that got added in in patches.
- Referred to as "augments" in the Fable games. Ironically, most "Legendary" weapons come pre-slotted with enhancements, meaning the perfectly normal sword you found and slapped 6 enhancements on could theoretically (especially in the sequel) be more powerful than either of the Infinity Plus One Swords available. Taken to it's hilarious extreme with the most customizable and powerful weapon in the first game (provided you actually perform the sidequest necessary to find it) is a frying pan.
- Fable III scrapped the socketed equipment system from the previous games. Instead, each weapon gains specific enchantments if you fulfill a requirement (ie. Kill 100 Hollow-men to get spread-fire on your gun.)
- GrandChase has cards for weapons. Only rare weapons/Armor and Higher can be equipped with them. They can be removed with a (cash) item.
- Cards seem to be popular for socketing in MMORPGs. Most gear in Iris Online has slots for up to 5 cards (which ones go in which slot is based on blood types), and Flyff allows you to make sockets in weapons & suits of armour (up to 10 & 4, respectively) for extra stat cards, although you need a CS item to keep the gear from breaking (you can put static bonus run speed or base stat cards in weapons, or % bonus HP/MP/FP/ATK/DEF cards in suits).
- All armor and most weapons in Guild Wars have upgrade slots. The weapons that don't (and those with missing slots) have built-in bonuses that are, usually, equivalent to max upgrades for the missing slots.
- Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness lets you do this with Wonderfuls, making this your method of upgrading your tools.
- Ragnarok Online has slots in weapons and equipment for cards, which are rare drops from monsters.
- A free online text-based RPG called Majesty: Heroes of Ardania (a fan production based on the Cyberlore video game Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim) plays this trope absolutely straight, wherein the player can take many pieces of equipment to a "socket carver" to have sockets carved into his equipment. He may then place magical artifacts called "Dwarvern beard rings" into those sockets.
- Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 has a supplement that introduced Augmentation Crystals, magical items that could be attached to your weapons or armor to provide bonuses. The advantage was that you could transfer the crystals to new items when you upgraded your equipment, so even if they weren't very powerful on their own, they never really became obsolete either.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, this is a special property of the Scratch n' Sniff Sword/Crossbow (comes with the power to summon stickers to put on it), the Fossilized Necklace (beat up skeletal enemies to get their teeth), and the Over-the-shoulder Folder Holder (find and acquire special stat-boosting folders to put in it).
- Disgaea has Specialists, essentially NPCs that live inside items. Once a Specialist is subdued (by going into the Item World of that particular item and beating them up), they can be moved around to other items and even combined with other Specialists of the same type to power them up. Every item also has a number of slots to hold Specialists, with 'rare' and 'legendary' items generally having more slots than normal items.
- Freedroid RPG has up to 4 sockets on equipment and if there aren't, you may add them. Compatible add-ons can also be produced and vary with socket and equipment type.
- Parodied in Sluggy Freelance in its "Years of Yarncraft" parody of World of Warcraft. Items could have sockets for rather random items like blenders, and some headgear was headgear-socketable, meaning you could have your old hat socketed onto your new hat.
- Guns in Resonance of Fate all have various slots where you attach parts to increase their stats. The expansion parts themselves can have more slots to attach more parts and then those parts can have even more slots, leading to truly insane designs with multiple scopes, barrels and grips stacked on top of each other with no regard to what they're pointing at...in the end, only the size of the customizer's grid limits the amount of add-ons used.
- Much like Final Fantasy VII above, many artifacts in the role-playing game Exalted have slots for hearthstones, which can be used either to regain Essence (common trait for all hearthstones) or to utilize a power unique to the stone.
- In Kingdoms Of Amalur Reckoning, some equipment has sockets for gems that can be added at a Sagecrafting altar. Putting points into the Sagecrafting skill allows a player to craft the best possible gems in the game. Investing points into the Blacksmithing skill allows a player to use gems as forging materials, negating the need to find equipment with sockets.
- Xenoblade includes socketed items as well as items that come with unremovable enhancements.
- Alchemists in Tales of Maj'Eyal can insert gems into armor, granting the gem's special bonus to the armor. Each piece of armor can only take one gem, and adding a new gem removes the old one.
- MapleStory allows players to use a device bought with mesos to add a socket to their each of their armor that they can put a Nebulite in to increase their stats. Nebulites can either be obtained through world bosses or you can get them through an item Gachapon.
- Sacred allowed socketing of up to four rings/amulets/runes or blacksmith abilities. You could recover only one of these, so if you found something useful early on most players socket that and fill the rest with the blacksmith powers. Dwarves could socket anywhere and and had specialist blacksmith powers.
- Essentially everything (with a few exceptions) is socketed in Path of Exile. However, rather than the usual bonuses of making your equipment better, these determine what skills you can use and what skill enhancing gems you can link it to, making skill management some odd cousin of the Inventory Puzzle. The lack of equipment enhancement from socketing is compensated for by nearly everything being enchanted, and there being several ways to upgrade or add enchantments.
- Most types of weapons and armor in Star Wars: The Old Republic feature modification slots, which determine all of their stats (including how much damage weapons deal, how well armor protects, etc.). High-end gear contains more powerful mods, but all pieces of gear are just as effective when equipped with the same mods, and mods can be extracted from items for a nominal fee. Virtually all "special" items, including items sold through the in-game store, are empty modifiable gear, meaning players can use it with appropriate mods through the entire game.
- Dota2 uniquely has this only for cosmetic effects. Fitting, as the items themselves are strictly cosmetic.
- In Digimon World 4, weapons and armor found in the field or available in the shop randomly generate with a number of mod slots. The player can add chips to raise stats, apply elemental properties, or produce other unique effects.