Sword of Plot Advancement
The Sword of Plot Advancement is the offensive or defensive item that the central plot of the game revolves around, and whose collection by the player signifies that they are now capable of advancing to the end of the game. It thus marks the end of the Second Act
Alternatively, it may be gained at the beginning of the Second Act
, if it is important to game mechanics, and marks the beginning of the adventure proper.
Most of the time, since said sword acts as an Amplifier Artifact
, it is the only Achilles' Heel
of the immortal
or Nigh Invulnerable Big Bad
. It may also be an example of a Legendary Weapon
It isn't strictly a MacGuffin
(which is meaningless in and of itself), because after it is attained and the dramatic tension surrounding it dissipates, it is still useful within the game's combat mechanics.
It contrasts with the Infinity+1 Sword
, which is optional to the plot and is collected long after the protagonist ceases to require it. It is, however, somewhat of a headscratcher when said Infinity+1 Sword
(and even the Infinity–1 Sword
) is stronger; see Penultimate Weapon
A sub-trope of both Plot Coupon
and Plot Coupon That Does Something
. Contrast It Was a Gift
. See also Supernatural Aid
. Sister Trope
to Second Hour Superpower
and Villain-Beating Artifact
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Anime & Manga
- In an odd manga example, the Ten Commandments Sword from Groove Adventure RAVE, is not only obtained early and one of two driving forces behind the main character's powers and abilities, but powers up not once, not twice, but NINE separate times. The last of these power-ups results in Ravelt, a Sword of Plot Advancement in its own right.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena: Utena is able to draw the sword of Dios from the Rose Bride starting in episode two, marking the beginning of her journey as a duelist. For the first arc of the series, this fantastic element seems fairly self-contained to Anthy; starting the second Black Rose arc, everyone can pull swords out of other people's chests! This ultimately culminates in Anthy having to draw a sword from Utena's breast, since Utena can no longer draw the sword of Dios from Anthy: Anthy draws the sword of Dios. As a bonus, these "soul swords" not only represent plot advancement (even if Utena can't see it) but also reflect character development and dynamics.
Films — Live-Action
- The Sommerswerd in the second Lone Wolf gamebook Fire on the Water, which is also an Infinity+1 Sword that can be used in subsequent books in the series.
- In Un Lun Dun, the UnGun.
- Walt Disney's First Pen in The Kingdom Keepers
- The Sword of Shannara Trilogy has the sword mentioned in the title.
- Kosall in The Acts of Caine
- The Sword of the Lady in the Emberverse.
- The Sword of Truth has the title sword, which is magically-imbued and has no equal. Richard gets it in like, the third chapter. Of the first book. Of a series of eleven doorstops. In fact, it becomes so associated with him and he actually reflexively reaches for it even when he doesn't have it, and other characters associate it with him personally. He eventually doesn't need it to kick twelve kinds of ass, but still prefers it to regular swords.
- The orb of Aldur from The Belgariad seems like a MacGuffin until the hero picks it up near the end of the series and starts whomping all kinds of ass with it (and his signature BFS, of course, which is so heavy that the orb has to "carry" it for him). In the follow-up series, it becomes useful in all kinds of other ways throughout. Considering the sword was forged from two fallen stars, it was enormously heavy. The original creator was even advised to remember the weight, because if the orb were removed, and he were holding the sword, he'd likely break his wrist.
- In The Wheel of Time the one who can wield the crystal sword Callandor is the Dragon Reborn — the chosen one. The main character acquires it in the third book and then announces his station to the world. "The only one who can wield it" is not precisely true. He was the only one who could pick it up without dying, yes, but as soon as he did, the magic protecting it was gone. After he left Callandor behind at the Stone of Tear, Morgaine berated him for leaving the third most powerful magical object in existence lying around for his enemies to steal. It's also such a strong Amplifier Artifact that using it as a sword is a complete waste of its potential.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is focused on Harry, Ron and Hermione's trying to find/destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. The quest only takes off after they discover where Gryffindor's sword is hidden.
- The Mortal Instruments series has several, two of them literal.
- The Mortal Cup is the focus of the first few novels. It is part of a set with the Mortal Sword and the Mortal Mirror.
- "Glorious", the sword of Archangel Michael.
- Several Heisei Kamen Rider series have the main character gain his Super Mode via the acquisition of a unique and powerful sword, hence the Fan Nickname "SwordGrade" (sword + upgrade). Examples include Faiz's Faiz Blaster (doubles as a BFG!), Hibiki's Armed Saber, and Den-O's DenKamen Sword; Kabuto's Perfect Zecter and Kiva's Zanvat Sword are typically counted despite coming after the Rider got his Super Mode. The rest note have swords (or in OOO and Wizard's cases, axes) that are part of their powers, rather than the source of them. The stand-outs are Decade, who uses the same weapon in all his forms, and Gaim, whose penultimate form gets the unique weapon (though his final form can also use it due to being a Walking Armory).
Myths & Religion
- King Arthur getting the Sword in the Stone and Excalibur (which may or may not be the same — Arthurian canon can be confusing) are important steps in his rise to power, and Excalibur is his main weapon through pretty much the entirety of his life. Excalibur's sheath, arguably the more valuable artifact, provided magical protection that safeguarded Arthur and ensured Camelot's prosperity. The loss of the sheath kicks off Arthur's and Camelot's eventual downfall.
- Norse Mythology: In Völsunga saga, Sigmund can only accomplish his vengeance on Siggeir after his sister Signy gives him the sword of Odin. Much later, Sigmund's son Sigurd receives the shards of the same sword from his mother, which he has then reforged into Gram, the weapon with which he goes on to avenge his father and kill the dragon Fafnir.
- In early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, Artifacts were meant to be this. Rather than just supremely powerful magic items (which, admittedly, they were), every Artifact had a backstory and usually some kind of curse or other condition that made life... "interesting" for anyone who ended up with one in their possession. The Hand and Eye of Vecna, for example, slowly drove their bearers to recreate Vecna's fallen empire (with plenty of tyranny along the way). Or digging up pieces of the Rod of Seven Parts caught the attention of various powerful demons since it was used to bind the essence of their greatest lord. An Artifact was something that entire campaigns were meant to turn around, and were never meant to be treated as just another step up in power for a Player Character.
- The Legend of Zelda
- And the Zelda clone Alundra gives you your initial weapons in this fashion. You need them to solve puzzles just like the items in Zelda games.
- In Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, Darc picks up a nameless sword before the final boss fight of his first story unlike most exaples it is your only weapon throught the game and changes his fighting style to now include techniques and slashes
- Ancient Domains of Mystery has the five Chaos orbs which can be worn one at a time for a stat boost, or invoked to use their special powers (at the cost of advancing the PC's corruption).
- The Vampire Killer in /Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. An unusual case, since the Vampire Killer is A) a whip and B) the hero has it already. The real focus is the quest to unseal it and use it to defeat Dracula, but the hero is warned that if it's used too much it'll kill him the same way it killed his father. There's no ingame effect representing this, but it's hinted it takes longer than one would spend tramping around Castlevania for the effect to kick in.
- The Masamune from Chrono Trigger is an interesting case. It's required to advance the plot, but since it's just used at the halfway point, it gets overshadowed fairly quickly by other weapons Frog can just buy. However, one sidequest can empower it to its full potential, making it both this and an Infinity+1 Sword at different intervals.
- The eponymous Crystalis, though you acquire it right before the final boss battle, after entering the Point of No Return.
- The eponymous Daikatana, even though most people couldn't even find the sword for about three years, and it was less useful than a gun... although more useful than your sidekicks.
- In Doom 3, on your first journey through Hell, you find the "Praeleanthor", a.k.a. "The Soulcube". It was apparently being used as a portal between Hell and Mars, but it also functions as a weapon that can one-shot every non-boss enemy in the game, including the Vagaries and Hell Knights. It's also the only way to kill the Cyberdemon, the only creature you will find that can withstand multiple Soulcube hits (or any at all, besides Sabaoth).
- Dragon Quest
- Erdrick/Loto's Sword in Dragon Quest I and next two sequels. The Zenith Sword in IV through VI, though with a different name and color in the last.
- In Dragon Quest III, an astoundingly significant portion of the game is spent trying to get the Gaia Sword, just so that it can open a path to a MacGuffin. This sequence involves getting a ship, finding a place you can't go with the ship, finding a mirror that you can use to get a staff that you can trade to get a bone that you can use to get a locket that you can use to unlock the place you can't go with the ship. If you're following the manual, this will take you from level 20 all the way to level 34, in a game which recommends you be level 40 to fight the end boss. And that's just to get the Gaia Sword. The only purpose of the sword is to get you to the last of six orbs, five of which you picked up while trying to get the Gaia Sword. Ugh. You open up the path to the last orb by throwing the Gaia Sword into a volcano. There aren't even any bosses between getting it and getting rid of itnote . It ends up being a key by another name.
- And in Dragon Quest IV, there's an entire set to collect, with the Zenithian Armor, Helmet and Shield to match the inevitable Sword.
- In Dragon Quest V, you are required to do two long dungeons and marry a girl in order to get a plot-advancing shield...and you can't even use the damn thing until later in the game. In fact, you can't use it at all. For once in a DQ game, the main character is not The Chosen One.
- And again in Dragon Quest VII, with the Aquagon sword. But in a twist, you get this sword before getting any hint to its significance. Sure, the king of Coastal talked it up as their legendary treasure... but you also heard that same speech earlier in the game about a simple Bug knife. But the Aquagon comes back later, first proving to Sharkeye that the heroes are telling the truth, and then later being the key to reviving the Aqua Spirit and freeing the world from darkness.
- Despite not being a tangible object, the great power that Ness discovers in himself near the end of EarthBound fits this trope.
- Ecco the Dolphin receives the power to Advance the Plot from the Asterite in the penultimate sections of the first and second games. The fact that it eliminates the need to breathe is a small bonus.
- The Elder Scrolls
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has the hammer Sunder, the sword Keening and the gauntlet Wraithguard that you need to use together to defeat Dagoth Ur. Interesting thing is that they don't need to be used against him personally. You're supposed to strike the Heart of Lorkhan once with Sunder and then three times with Keening to kill him.
- Its expansion Tribunal not only asks you to find but to repair and relight (yes it is a flaming sword) the blade Trueflame. It's important to the plot. Really. It is important to Almalexia and getting her to reveal the fact that she's gone batshit crazy and thinks she needs to kill the Nerevarine, aka, you in order to maintain her god status. Getting the sword is probably meant to prove you're Nerevar's reincarnation. One of the people who help you restore the blade points out that the flames are pretty much for decoration, and have absolutely no effect on its performance as a weapon. Looks pretty, though.
It is still a pretty powerful weapon. It is the most powerful artifact sword in the game. This means that it lacks the massive enchantments that are possible with player enchanted weapons. It does only 30 fire damage as opposed to the 300 possible with a top level sword and soul gem, as well as having a slow swung. It is one handed though which allows one to use a shield, which is at the very least an additional enchantment slot. Having a weapon do 300 magic damage sure can suck when you meet high level enemies that reflect/absorb magic.
- An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire has the Moon Reiver, the only sword that can hurt the final boss, Mehrunes Dagon.
- The Sword of Aeons in Fable I if you're evil, or Avo's Tear if you're good, although Avo's Tear only appears in the expanded re-release of Fable. This should be in 'infinity + 1 section as you get it after you beat the game and no enemy demands it to be killed. It averts the Infinity+1 Sword territory in the expanded Lost Chapters version of the game, since you easily have 5-10 hours of remaining gameplay to go through after you acquire the swords. And since a quarter of the game was spent attempting to stop Jack from acquiring the blade, it is still plot relevant. Lost Chapters also nerfs the Sword Of Aeons (and introduces Avo's Tear as its counterpart).
- Also the music box from the beginning in Fable II sort-of becomes this trope, although its not really a sword, and you don't really get to use it in any battle, you just hold down A in a cut scene to use its magic on the big baddie of the game
- Scimitar of Baron slaying +3 anyone?
- Final Fantasy
- The Ultima spell in Final Fantasy II.
- Final Fantasy IV has Cecil receive the Legend sword (or Mythgraven sword, for the remake) when he becomes a paladin. Though it can eventually be reforged into the Excalibur, second (or third, depending on the version) best sword in the game.
- Also, the twelve legendary weapons in Final Fantasy V. For the last portion of the game, Ghido entrusts you to collect four tablets in order to unseal the weapons, three at a time. Almost averted, as the weapons are incredibly powerful and yield neat bonuses when you equip them. However, the final dungeon includes even more powerful weapons, so much that most of the legendary weapons are overshadowed. The ones that don't? Weapons you wont ever use, like bells and whips.
- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII has Zack obtain the almighty Buster Sword after he is forced to defeat his mentor, Angeal. It doesn't do anything to his stats, but its acquisition is mandatory. Interestingly, by the time of Final Fantasy VII, the Buster Sword is Cloud's weakest sword.
- Final Fantasy XII gives you two such swords, with opposite functions, and a major part of the plot is the heroine deciding which sword to use. They have the exact same stats in battle, and completely suck. In fact, the only reason you would ever use one of them is on a Self-Imposed Challenge, as they are the only weapons in the game that don't require licenses to use.
- Fire Emblem
- In the first game and it's remakes, a lot of the plot is involves Gharnef stealing the Falchion early on and Marth reclaiming it near the end of the game. Of course, due to the game mechanics, it's entirely possible to skip out in getting it and finish the game without it. Its advantages are infinite durability and either complete immunity from any non-dragon attacks (in the first game) or effectiveness against dragons (in the remakes), as well as being able to heal HP but in terms of power there are several weapons that overshadow it...which you get earlier on as well as the ability to forge ordinary weapons to give them more power in the DS remake.
- In the fourth game, Genealogy of the Holy War, there's the Tyrfing. You hear a couple passes at this legendary sword in the first generation, but nothing important, then early in Chapter 5, you're given it -- and it's quite powerful, but you don't have it long for certain reasons. Your entire army is killed following Chapter 5. Come Chapter 6, however, which starts with the main character's son, Seliph, Tyrfing has become this — an all important sword that will make him a Bad Ass that can kick The Empire in the nuts, once he gets it, that is. Unlike most other examples however, this IS Seliph's best weapon. (And like the Falchion, it's possible to miss Tyrfing both times).
- Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone has the silver sword of the Githyanki, which is needed to kill the Slaad Lord.
- The Spirit Sword of the original Grandia.
- Grandia II features locating the Granasaber, a sword that fell to earth during a battle between two Gods, as a major part of the game's second act. Subverted as it turns out to be a spacecraft, not a sword at all, and then played straight at the end of the game when the hero actually does acquire a sword called the Granasaber, capable of harming the evil God rampaging across the world.
- Lufia & The Fortress of Doom and Lufia: the Legend Returns have the Dual Blade, a sword wielded by the hero's ancestor, Maxim, which is the only weapon capable of harming the deity-like Sinistrals terrorizing the world. A substantial portion of both games revolve around mounting an expedition to recover this sword from the site of your ancestor's final battle.
- In the prequel Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, where you play as Maxim, he proves his worthiness to wield the Dual Blade by forcibly taking it from the Big Bad himself near the end of the game.
- World of Mana
- The Sword of Mana in many of the Mana series of games. It often has rusted or the like over the years, and requires repairs through the course of the plot. Sometimes these are incremental, and sometimes these happen all at once. The final repair inevitably turns it into the Infinity+1 Sword.
- Strangely, in some games (Sword of Mana, Legend of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3) in the series it can never be equipped.
- And Children Of Mana...come to think of it, is there any game other than Secret of Mana and the original Final Fantasy Adventure where it can be equipped?
- Even in Secret of Mana, while the sword you equip is the Sword of Mana, it does not become the Sword of mana until magically imbued by your teammates during the last battle, or through a glitch. Otherwise the best you can use is the next level below.
- Basically in games where you can wield it, you only get the sword literally 5 seconds from or already engaged in the end fight. In installments where you gain it earlier, nobody —including heroes who look tailor designed for the role— is smart enough to pick it up as a weapon. Not even in the game named after the sword. Which, according to the series's Japanese name, would be every game.
- In Secret of Mana, you have the Sword of Mana from start to finish. Even if its not at full power, it is still the Sword of Mana, no other sword can replace it.
- Neverwinter Nights
- The Sword of Gith in Neverwinter Nights 2.
- Regaining the now even better Sword of Gith in the Mask of the Betrayer expansion.
- About three-quarters through the Xbox Ninja Gaiden and the Xbox 360 Ninja Gaiden II, Ryu gets to combine the Dragon Sword with the Eye of the Dragon to form the True Dragon Sword that is supposedly needed to defeat the Big Bad.
- Phantasy Star
- Orakio's Sword in Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom.
- And Elsydeon in Phantasy Star IV: End of the Milennium; with the bonus multiplier against Evil-type creatures and a chance of getting the 'Holy Word' effect, this also makes it the Infinity+1 Sword.
- Two easier-to-miss ones, also from Phantasy Star IV, are the Eclipse Torch and the Psycho Wand. The former is used to burn away evil trees blocking your path, and the other was needed to break The Dragon's otherwise impenetrable barrier. The Torch can be used as a Holy attack item in battle, and the Wand can be used to break barriers on the few enemies that use them, throughout the entire game.
- The boxart-featured Mons (Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza for Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Palkia, Dialga, and Giratina Pokémon Diamond and Pearl) must be encountered to advance the plot (though Rayquaza doesn't have to be fought right away; it only needs to be approached), though this only applies to the one on the box of the game being played. Suicune from the second generation was like this as well (again, only for the game it appears on the box for, in this case, Crystal). The ones from the other second generation games (Lugia and Ho-Oh) become this in their fourth-generation remakes (which add a Suicune subplot as well), despite being optional except for 100% Completion in the original versions of the games (the one on the box of the game being played could merely be encountered earlier the original versions of the games, with the other game's mascot being available later).
- And in Pokémon Black and White, you are forced to catch (not defeat) your version legendary before you're allowed to battle N and his legendary.
- The above occurs again in Pokémon X and Y where you must capture your version legendary before you can battle Flare Boss Lysandre.
- In the scenario Assault on Giant Mountain, you must acquire the powerful greatsword Giant Slayer in order to proceed...but the reason it's necessary isn't so that you can wield it, but because the Big Bad's fortress is magically inaccessible until you destroy it on the Anvil of Pain. This is difficult to do since it's probably become your fighter's favorite weapon.
- This trope pops up in other scenarios too, like the obsidian scimitars from Destroy the Necronomicon and the Spear of Light from Griloch's Revenge.
- In Sa Ga 3, the Mystic Swords are the only weapons capable of damaging the Big Bad.
- Shadow Keep required you to find the Black Sword, the only weapon that could harm the evil overlord (and another item, the only thing that can keep him from killing you in one blow.)
- The Shining Series is very fond of this trope;
- The "Force weapons" in both Star Ocean 1 and its sequel, though their importance to the plot is only revealed just before you get them.
- Happens all the time in Super Robot Wars, and sometimes inverted when its a machine you have to destroy. Memorable examples include Ryukooh and Koryuoh, Getter Shin Dragon from SRW Destiny, the R-Series in Original Generation 1 and the enemy unit Judecca.
- Tales Series
- The Eternal Sword in Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia. In other games it becomes the Infinity+1 Sword.
- The Key of Lorelei in Tales of the Abyss.
- Dein Nomos in Tales of Vesperia is a slight subversion as you get it about 2/3 into the game, it's far from being Yuri's ultimate weapon (a replica of it is stronger) and you lose it after a few dungeons. In the PS3 version you get Brave Vesperia No. 2 (the device the party plans to use to destroy the Adephagos), as a weapon before the final dungeon. It allows Yuri to use his second Mystic Arte.
- Wahrheit in Tales of Hearts - after it's been converted to the Global Airship Lianheit. (It's the personal weapon of a nonplayable character.)
- Tomb Raider
- Excalibur in Tomb Raider: Legend. You only get to use it for a brief escape scene and a boss before the game abruptly ends though.
- In Underworld, you also get your hands on Thor's Hammer.
- The original Black Sword in Ultima VII. The Black Sword is only needed to complete the Forge of Virtue expansion, not the main game. Since the expansion is entirely optional, this may not count. In VII part 2 (The Serpent Isle), you start the game with the sword (implying the Avatar did complete the Forge expansion), promptly lose it, and need to recover it in order to get packed off to the world of Pagan.
- The Mystic Arms in Ultima IV. You don't need the Mystic Arms to complete Ultima IV. The game claims only Mystic Arms work in the Stygian Abyss but in fact any magic weapon will work.
- The Sword of Justice from Ultima Underworld probably counts, as it's one of the 8 items needed to complete the game and is a very good weapon (the only unbreakable one as well). Subverted in that completing the game requires you to destroy the sword (along with the other items). Trying to kill the Big Bad with it is pointless.
- In Unlimited Sa Ga you have at some point to collect the elemental gears in Laura's quest, some of the best equipment you'll ever get in the game. Too bad that you don't get to keep them for the end of the game.
- The title sword in the first Vandal Hearts; in the sequel, it is optional for the overall game, but necessary for the best ending.
- Broaste's teddy bear in Wandering Hamster. Yeah, it's THAT kind of RPG.
- The Runeblade Frostmourne from Warcraft III is vital to defeating Mal'Ganis, but also grants a combat boost when Arthas first gets it. Annoyingly, this boost goes away when you start the next campaign, and from the on its power is only shown in cutscenes, though it theoretically responsible for Arthas' death knight powers as well.
- First Diablo has Lazarus's Staff. It's not a weapon you can equip, but you need to give the staff to Cain so the portal to Lazarus' lair opens afterwards.
- Diablo II; One's an epic staff (Horadric Staff); the other is an epic mace (Khalim's Will). Your forced to give up both to foward the plot. The staff opens the true Tomb of Tal Rasha in Act 2 and Khalim's Will opens the stairwell to Mephisto's Durace of Hate in Act 3.
- Act 1 of Diablo III has you running around collecting the pieces of an angel's mighty sword.
- The Mavin Sword in the D.W. Bradley game Wizards And Warriors, acquired just before the third act of the game, and it's quite a powerful sword, in addition to supposedly being the only weapon capable of harming the Big Bad (there's actually a second weapon able to harm the Big Bad, not that you're ever told it can do so).
- Happens twice in Zeliard. The Knight's Sword is the first sword that's (at that point) only available as a 'quest' rather than simply buying as an upgrade, and you're told it's essential to beat that level's boss (apparently, overly keen players have showed that it's not). Near the end, you're supposed to find the Faery Flame Sword in a fairly similar manner.
- The Gears and Omnigears of Xenogears are required to fight many bosses and complete many dungeons. Citan's sword, cool as it is, is not all that plot-relevant.
- In the original Devil May Cry, after Dante defeats the Black Knight Nelo Angelo for the last time the knight drops an amulet, identical to Dante's own. It turns out that Nelo Angelo was really Vergil, Dante's Jerk Ass twin brother who was forced into Mundus's service after the events of DMC 3. Anyhoo, the amulet combines with Dante's into the Perfect Amulet, which is part of the way to open a Portal to Mundus's world as kick his ass. Additionally, exposure to the amulet unlocks the true power of the Force Edge, Dante's starting sword; it becomes much stronger as Sparda. The Sparda is the only weapon Dante can use against Mundus's first two forms anyways.
- Rogue Galaxy features an equippable weapon crafted from plot coupons in the penultimate dungeon, which goes away after the first two of ten final boss battles, a BFS Jaster automatically gains and equips for the VERY final battle, and the Desert Seeker Jaster gains at the beginning of the game (which can evolve into one of his strongest weapons).
- The eponymous Valis Sword.
- The Firestaff in The Nameless Mod. It's not really a sword (it sets things on fire instead), but it has administrative powers and thus is very important to the plot.
- In Black Sigil, Kairu is entrusted the Sword of Averay by his adopted father, Duke Averay. It eventually becomes critical to the plot involving the Sealed Evil in a Can.
- The first Gothic has the sword Urizel, which is one of the few things that can harm the last undead orc shaman. (Spellcasters can have it turned into the "Wave of Death" rune, which is the only other thing capable of harming said enemy.) Note that you find it well before the end of the game (and have to empower it in a spectacular fashion), so you get to enjoy its sheer killing power on many regular enemies as well. In a more strict interpretation, you have to obtain the shamans' five swords, which are too damaged to be of regular use, but are vital to defeating the Big Bad right at the end.
- Wild ARMs 2 has the Argetlahm, which subverts this trope before playing it straight. Its first appearance makes it obvious that you won't obtain it until the end of the game, but you're quickly forced into a situation where it's absorbed by the hero to turn a Demonic Possession into a mere Superpowered Evil Side. In the end, said demon takes over again, but the protagonist is able to draw the sword for real while trapped inside his own soul.
- The Silver/Cleria Sword in Ys I and II. In Book 1, you get it right before The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, and there is an Infinity+1 Sword in said dungeon, but that doesn't work against Dark Fact. In Book II, it is the Infinity+1 Sword, and you obtain it just before fighting the Big Bad Darm. In Ys Origin it's the same sword as in Book I, but you get it in a cutscene after defeating the penultimate boss and before facing the final boss in one route. In Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys, you start with the Cleria Equipment, but lose it shortly after, to regain it near the end of the game. Ys: The Ark of Napishtim, the sixth game in the series, has only three swords (which can be upgraded) and all of them are relevant to the plot. In Ys: Oath in Felghana this sword and the Infinity+1 Sword are the same: it's obtained automatically before the final dungeon, and is the only weapon capable of breaking the barrier spell used by the penultimate boss.
- Leo's Sword (that's the name of the sword itself) is this in Agarest Senki. Seemingly only used in cut scenes, when you finally get to the True Ending path, not only do you finally get to use it, but when you upgrade the sword itself, the stats are through the roof! It's definitely not the most powerful sword, but it's still up there. Makes you wonder why you could not use it in gameplay even though Leo has it in his hand and could have prevented his death all the way back from the start.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
- The Sol Blade, which is required to open the gate to the Apollo Lens's control room. It's also used to access certain dungeons.
- On the subject of the Apollo Sanctum, the pieces of the Umbra gear project a barrier of darkness to protect their wearer from the Sanctum's intense light. In order to enter, you need the full suit, as the protection provided by each individual piece is hardly sufficient to keep you from frying. Further historical information suggests that ancestral beastmen wore similar suits during the Sanctum's construction. Even if the powerful unleashes and the heightened elemental Resistance weren't incentive enough, you can't end the Grave Eclipse until Sveta's decked out entirely.
- The Ultragunner in Vanguard Bandits.
- The Dragon Slayer in Legacy Of The Wizard and Faxanadu.
- The Hawke's Key in the Dragon Age II "Legacy" DLC. You obtain it fairly early in the quest, and it is vital to progressing through the dungeon. Since it's leveled like most of the equipment in the game it will be powerful when you get it but it will be eventually obsolete.
- In Mantra, the main plot coupons (the eponymous five Mantras) are magic scrolls. Each one gives you the ability to perform a specific type of attack that has an elemental damage type. They're useful in combat with normal enemies and bosses, and they're also necessary to destroy barriers which are only vulnerable to specific elemental damage types, so that you must acquire the appropriate Mantra in order to advance to the next area.
- The Monado from Xenoblade. Almost everything in the game's plot is done in to, by, or in response to it. It's also the only weapon Shulk can use once he obtains it, and its strength scales with his level to keep it from ever becoming obsolete.
- The Magic Sword in Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 where it has been said that it can demolish the most powerful evil in existence. There's just one problem. You're gonna have to do the worst ending of that game to even obtain it in a New Game+.
- Splendor in Deadly Towers.
- The Lord of the Rings Online
- A system of Legendary Item advancement is introduced in its first expansion, Mines of Moria. Until the player receives his Legendary weapon and proves that he can operate with it (reforge, slot relics, apply titles etc) he cannot advance the Main Storyline and cannot pass the Doors of Moria.
- An example from the original book is Narsil / Andúril. Turns out a special mineral is required to reforge such an epic sword and the player is send on a quest to get a piece of it (which composes the longest non-epic quest chain in the game by the way). Until you finish it, Narsil cannot be reforged and the Fellowship cannot leave Rivendell.
- Fallout: New Vegas features this in the Old World Blues expansion — the Think Tank wants you to collect three items to defeat Dr. Mobius — a frequency to disable force fields, an antenna to amplify the frequency, and a stealth suit to sneak into Dr. Mobius's lair. It turns out that Dr. Mobius wanted you to bring all that stuff to him instead — to help you get your brain back in your skull. That said, even after the quest, all three items are quite useful when exploring the Mojave.
- One of the last things to do in Might and Magic VI before attacking the Kreegan Hive is to acquire blasters and the skill to use them. Unusual in that there are several blasters to be found in the associated dungeon, significantly more than the four characters you have, and in that there are upgraded versions deeper in the dungeon that count as blasters for all important purposes, but they can only be found in that dungeon, and getting at least one is absolutely necessary to finishing the game (for more than one reason if you want to finish the game without a Nonstandard Game Over)
- The Knight's equipment in Great Greed.
- In Lunar: The Silver Star, Alex becomes a Dragonmaster and becomes able to approach the Magic Emperor once he obtains the Althena Sword. The other Dragon Items also play a big part in advancing the plot, but this is the last of them.
- The second Golden Sun game has the Trident of Ankohl, which is only really needed to break Poseidon's forcefield. However, it's useful for the rest of the game because the equipment system treats it as a usable accessory rather than a weapon, giving the bearer 20 Mercury resistance and a Jupiter-aligned attack (based on the attack stat, rather than the Jupiter power stat) for free.
- The Keyblade from Kingdom Hearts, which changes its outward form and power throughout the game but has essentially the same plot-important abilities. It's also an Empathic Weapon .
- Raziel gaining the Soul Reaver following the second boss-battle of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.
- In Heavenly Sword, the eponymous Heavenly Sword.
- Prince of Persia
- Both Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones have the Prince gaining the Dagger of Time early on, allowing access to the time control gameplay that is the series selling point. In an interesting partial subversion, you generally get the weapon very early in these games (or start with it) and the idea is to get rid of it properly.
Another interesting point about The Sands of Time is that you actually get to use the Infinity+1 Sword for awhile (after Farah absconds with your main sword and the Dagger) that can shred enemies in a single blow without having to absorb them into sand (though you do lose your time flipping powers in the process so it waltzes between this Infinity–1 Sword status). However, the end of the game rewinds everything back to things right before the events of the game begin and you're stuck to using your original weapon (the one you started with) and the Sword Of Plot Advancement again for the final battle.
- In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within the Prince finds several of these: the Serpent sword which acts as a key granting him access to certain areas of the fortress, later the Scorpion sword, which can break through walls and will be used in something of a hail Mary plan, and finally the alternate-ending-providing Water Sword
- The sword in level 8 of Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame has a cutscene of its own. It replaces the clumsy dagger you've been stuck with ever since you lost your old sword a few levels back.
- The lightsabers in some Star Wars games, usually coupled with Force powers. Acquiring/building a lightsaber typically marks the transition from a mere Mook to a full-fledged Jedi, in other words, getting ten free levels in badass. This is when the real fun usually begins. Examples: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Knights of the Old Republic.
- The eponymous Sigil in Strife: Quest for the Sigil. It's the only weapon which can hurt bosses (well, a particular kind of boss). Not technically an Evolving Weapon — there is actually assembly involved. You just don't see it unless you're paying attention because pieces of the weapon automatically fly to you and self-attach when the enemy carrying them is defeated... even if you'd prefer they didn't.
- The Ultimate Legedary Epic Weapons in Kingdom of Loathing are upgraded from your Legendary Epic Weapons right before fighting the final, demonic form of your Nemesis.
- This is made literal each time the Nemesis is confronted; the player is informed that the plot will not advance unless their Epic Weapon is equipped.
- The Armageddon Blade in Darksiders. The last weapon you get — however arguably not the most powerful.
- The Blade of Olympus in God of War 2 drains all your power from the first game and you spend the whole game searching for a way to retrieve it from Zeus' grasp. When you finally do, it's your main weapon in the boss fight with him.
- Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis has Longicolnis. Being a spear, it has some useful range advantages, can hit multiple enemies at once, gives bonuses to Virtue and Bane resistance, and unlike other spears doesn't have any movement penalties. However, there are a few weapons, aquired both before and after it, that are more powerful, though you still need it because you won't be able to harm the final boss without it.
- The original Tactics Ogre has Brynhildr. It's a powerful holy sword, and is necessary for the villains to open the way into the final area. It's quite heavy, though, which means that anyone equipping it will probably have fewer turns.
- STALKER: Call of Pripyat has the Gauss Rifle. Dropped by a Monolith Preacher, it's unusable for the first hour or so you're carrying the damn thing, but fixing it is incredibly important to the plot, and the damn thing can one-hit-kill just about anything you point it at.
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has the Killstar. Once you start the mission to get it, you're locked into mission mode and can't go back to free-roam until the end of the story, but it's key to winning the game.
- The black sword acquired by Mary Christie halfway through Shikkoku No Sharnoth. It allows her to attempt reasoning with the Metacreatures, though that does not work. What it does let her do is cast it away to show that she intends to save Charlie and everyone else she cares about. Mind you, it would be a pretty potent weapon if she wanted it to be.
- Tucker's Plasma Sword in Red vs. Blue starts out as a cool sword that can only be used by the "Chosen One", who is also the most evil (and/or stupid) individual in the universe (leading to a Crowning Moment of Funny where Church names Caboose as The Antichrist). When it's taken to the frozen northlands, it can be used to unlock and power up a Cool Ship. It also gets a little philosophical when deciding wether it's really a key or a sword.
Church: So it is a sword. It just acts like a key in certain situations.
Caboose: Or, it's a key all the time, and when you stick it in people, it unlocks their death.
- The Sword of Xel Dum is a great example of this from the NSFW webcomic Locus has a curse that requires the central character to kill whoever tries to take it for her, including the original owner... that's some plot advancement.
- In Phaeton Trayen gains the Omnisword near the end of series 1, the sword is the only way to finish of a defeated elementian permanently.
- In Dept Heaven Apocrypha, Monica's legendary sword Joyeuse is technically her Call to Adventure proper (and thus signals the First Act); learning to use it will be another matter, and once it's mastered her plot will move to its second act.