So, you're a hero of destiny, summoned before the mighty king of this pastiche Tolkienesque fantasy kingdom and charged with saving the world from the terrible evil that has befallen it before it's The End of the World as We Know It, we know you can pull it off. Because Destiny Says So.
Oh, did we mention that you've got five bucks and a butter knife to your name?
Strange though it may seem, the king has sent you on the most important quest the world has ever known, and he expects you to pay your own way. Oh, he might invite you to scrounge around the castle for any treasure chests you can get to (forget the ones with locks or behind locked doors), all probably containing enough loot to buy a pointy stick; but it wouldn't even occur to him that, what with the world hanging in the balance, it might be a good idea to give you every resource at his disposal.
Nor are you bringing much to the situation; Warriors of Destiny don't have trust funds. Or savings accounts. Or bus fare, for that matter. You'd think that just to qualify as a Warrior of Anything, you'd at least have a sword, maybe a suit of well-worn armor from all that warrioring you did to build up your reputation, but no. In fact, you're a Level 1 warrior, so you don't even have any experience to speak of — though the king is hardly going to suggest sending you off to boot camp with his personal guard for a week.
No, you're just going to have to do it the hard way, beating up local slime and mad wolves for the gold pieces they drop. (What the wolves are doing with gold pieces to begin with is anyone's guess).
Fairly standard setup for the classic fantasy Role-Playing Game and all sorts of Adventure Games.
Somewhat less noticeable these days, not because your kit is any better, but because the setup of being deliberately sent on a mission by a king is currently out of fashion, in favor of either being a penniless drifter who just happens upon the adventure, or being a kid who insists on taking on the challenge.
Survival Horror has a form of this trope, but there it tends to work a little better, as it's less about deliberately being shafted and more about not getting a chance to prepare (in the original Resident Evil, for example, the main characters have standard-issue gear for a police special unit — it just doesn't help much when faced with the walking dead). This still doesn't explain why shop keepers demand full price for products when there are zombies wandering around outside; mind you, nine times out of ten you won't be doing any shopping in a Survival Horror.
Frequently overlaps with No Hero Discount. Contrast with Bag of Spilling, in which equipment/power-ups don't carry over to sequels; and Giving the Sword to a Noob, where a powerful weapon ends up in the hands of an incompetent such as The Chosen Zero. An alternative to this trope is It May Help You on Your Quest, where useless looking equipment turn out to be unexpectedly vital later on.
Often the first step in a Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness. A Taste of Power subverts this trope... At first.
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Anime & Manga
Tower Of God - Baam takes the test given by Headon with just a cleaver. Thankfully, Yuri enters onto his face and she and Evan give him an A-grade pocket and the Black March, so this trope gets subverted. It's better that way, since the cleaver broke very quickly.
Lampshaded in the second episode (the RPG parody) of Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai when king-Papan charges Sasshi and Arumi with defeating the dark lord, Aki-nee gives them a bag of gold, then the court turns around and goes back into the castle again.
Lampshaded even more brutally in full-on RPG parody series Mahoujin Guru Guru when the king loudly disavows himself of all responsibility for the child heroes after giving them a small amount of gold.
Stanley And His Monster: Played with in the Phil Foglio mini-series. Ambrose Bierce tells Stanley to pack 'whatever he thinks he will need' for an expedition to Hell, while casting a spell that ensures that whatever he choooses will be exactly what he needs. Stanley packs a Halloween mask, a bottle of soda, a package of hot dogs, an umbrella, a bottle of barbeque sauce and a little red wagon. This turns out to be exactly what he needs to defeat the forces of Hell.
One issue of Hsu and Chan has Arnie as a parody of Master Chief from Halo save the world from the covenant with a plastic serated knife.
Films — Live-Action
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The Trope Namer: King Arthur and Sir Bedevere are forced to go and find a shrubbery by the deadly Knights Who Say Ni — "Those who hear them seldom live to tell the tale!". After recovering a shrubbery from Roger the Shrubber, the Knights Who Until Very Recently Said Ni ask them to find another shrubbery, and challenge them to cut down the mightiest tree in the forest, wiiiiiiith... A Herring! Arthur decides that this is silly and, upon learning that the word "it" hurts the Knights' ears, bypasses them entirely.
A few of the weapons randomly distributed at the beginning of Battle Royale (for which the point is to be the last one alive on the island) include a pot lid, binoculars, a paper fan, a megaphone and boxing gloves. Two end up useful, one ends up getting the owner killed, and the other two are used for one-off dark jokes.
Two of the characters facing down bloodthirsty aliens with future tech in Predators are armed with a scalpel and a knife. This is actually justified, however, as everyone grabbed by the Predators comes equipped with the weaponry they are most familiar with. Whether or not that weaponry is practical for combating Predators.
Twilight Sparkle:I've been thinking about that a while. That having a few soldiers along for a dangerous mission might be a good idea. At least since, you know, that one time you sent me and five other teenage mares up a mountain to evict a giant firebreathing dragon. Or when you sent us out alone to face Discord. Or that time—-
Celestia:You were in no danger from that dragon—
Twilight Sparkle: NO DANGER? That dragon nearly had hickory smoked pony for a bedtime snack!!
Done in the novel Heroes Adrift by Moira J. Moore. The hero and heroine are professional weather-tamers (organization known as the Triple S) and live on a continent where the weather frequently tries to kill you. All Triple S employees live off the largesse of the government and have free housing provided for them, and they never have to pay for food, clothing, etc—they just walk up with their professional identification and get what they want. The queen sends the two of them to another continent to do a secret job for her. On this continent, weather-tamers aren't needed and the Queen's dictates are pretty much ignored... leaving the hero and heroine stranded with no money and no job skills in order to make money.
Cord: Do you need transportation? Tools? Stuff? Erasmas: Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs. We have a protractor.
The two-man British improv show S&M did a skit once where the Yoda-like mentor (Mike McShane) was preparing the local Skywalker-surrogate (Tony Slattery) for battle against the Big Bad. As Tony prepares to leave: "Do I get a lightsaber?" "No, just one of these naff sticks," handing him the flimsy prop cane he's holding.
In Brimstone, Ezekiel Stone is charged with tracking down 113 damned souls who've escaped to Earth, some of whom have been in Hell since the beginning of time, and who thus have amassed fantastic powers. To accomplish this mission, he has a handgun and $36.27 (the money on him when he died and went to Hell). Mind you, he begins each day with it, giving him functionally unlimited funds. $36.27 at a time. No saving up.
Reaper: The Devil provides Sam with an object capable of retrieving the escaped souls, such as a dust buster or a tennis ball. Funnily enough these are sometimes quite effective. The bad ones are when he gets given seemingly useful ones like a spear — to fight a Mongol warrior with. Or a boxing glove when facing a champion prizefighter.
He also sometimes gets strange powers to catch a particular soul. Of course, these usually end up completely useless and only serve as obstacles. Try catching a soul when anything you try to eat (even toothpaste) turns into an insect.
MST3K - in "The Day the Earth Froze", the evil witch challenges the hero to plow a field of snakes - when he challenges her on this point she replies "Hey, I'm the curse boss here!"
Most Tabletop RPG setups avoid this: Dungeons & Dragons (depending on the campaign and generousness of your DM, of course) gives you at least enough starting gear to do your job — things like a decent set of armour and a good weapon for the fighter, or a mostly-stocked spellbook for a wizard, or the clothes on your back for a monk. That said, it usually takes leveling to about level 4-ish to grind enough gold to buy magic items (or be able to take on enemy encounters that would drop magic items), but that's less this trope and more the inflation brought about by every adventurer and their brother swimming in treasure.
d20 Modern, a game that uses D&D's basic system but in a modern-day setting, avoids this trope like the plague. It's perfectly reasonable and doable to set up a first level party decked out in the best non-magical equipment you can find. However, d20 modern is less reliant on your equipment than some tabletop games.
Spycraft breaks from the "gather loot and save" setup in favor of "get stuff from quartermaster depending on mission": a low-level mission will give you a mundane 9mm pistol, and as things get worse you can ask for Uzis, AK-47s, Browning Automatic Rifles, and if the world is really going to hell, an M2HB heavymachinegun.
Paranoia, of course, doesn't merely use this trope, it practically embodies it. Almost every piece of equipment given is not only useless for its intended purpose, but is guaranteed to be the cause of death of at least one player character. Thankfully, there's a reason for this.
Paranoia does something even worse: It's actually not that odd to get equipment assigned to you. Lots of equipment. Tons of it. Things you don't need, even. But one small detail: You're responsible for all the equipment given to you (including things like, say, grenades), and are expected to return it in the same condition you were given it. This being Paranoia, it hardly needs saying that a failure to do so is treason. Or bringing it back in perfect condition is treason, as you failed to use your resources appropriately. Or both: you get accused of treason for failing to bring one thing back in mint condition and for failing to use your resources appropriately. Even if, logically, you had no way of knowing that you could set things on fire by pouring the latest version of Bouncy Bubble Beverage on them—or that this was what Friend Computer (or your superiors, who probably do want you dead) wanted, instead of you using your zap-gun or, y'know, a grenade. Never underestimate the ways you can get killed and/or accused of treason in Paranoia.
And that's not even getting into the equipment you might get from R&D. Not only does it have to be returned in mint condition, you need to use it at least once during the mission and file a report on it afterwards. You don't have security clearance for the instructions. You might not have security clearance to know what it does. And it has a tendency to malfunction even more often than your regular equipment.
Exalted makes this potentially Crazy Awesome, however, in that there is a Charm (character power) that would potentially allow a character to block a thrown mountain, with a butter knife. And a combat-focused character can take this power at starting level. Needless to say, the butter knife would not survive. Also completely averted through purchasable backgrounds. High levels of Command and Arsenal allow you to start the game with an army of 10,000 men outfitted with the finest mundane equipment available. Pool points with the rest of the party and you can outfit a squadron of 20 foot tall Magitek robots.
GURPS is, as usual, flexible: you generally get a reasonable set of starting cash, you can use an equipment list to buy any items your DM agrees are available, and you can even have a regular income (assuming your character actually has a job and attends to it regularly...) But you can get better starting funds as an Advantage by spending character points, or get extra character points by taking poverty as a Disadvantage.
In Warhammer 40000 and Warhammer Fantasy all of your units come with only baseline equipment. Named characters avert this, usually with special powerful equipment exclusive to them or a combination of equipment that stock characters cannot take. It's still this trope though, because you can literally field a unit of elite vanguard units armed with stuff most bread and butter troops wouldn't be caught dead with (and in most cases, it works because the points are better allocated elsewhere).
Fate/stay night: On the 3rd day of the Holy Grail War, Lancer attacks Shirou for watching his and Archer´s fight and Shirou´s only protection until he accidently summons Saber is... a steel poster.
Gothic II plays it damn straight. You, the acclaimed hero who freed the Colony, defeated the Big Bad etc... etc... materialize inside the friendly necromancer's tower. There's scarily ominous evil afoot (not to mention earthquakes if you have the extension), and you are to enter a city and get the MacGuffin that'll help defeat the new Eeeevil. There's also an army of orcs to contend with. Hmmm? Oh no, the friendly necromancer won't even give you a dagger, armor or basic training. Nor help you enter the city. Nor give you a note telling people that the MacGuffin is vaguely important. Shoo, go save the world or something! Even the former convicts who owe their lives and freedom to you won't give you the time of day — what have you done for them lately?
Said necromancer doesn't have much useful stuff in his tower (and you are free to take what you find there), and can't help you enter the town because he is, well, a necromancer and doesn't have any good authority. Briefly averted in the beginning when a guy who wants you to clear a cave of bandits gives you a nice knife and some potions if you ask.
Perhaps referenced in pseudo-sequel Risen - one of the drowned bodies washed up on the beach at the beginning has a herring in his pocket. He didn't make it. You did, and you have even less.
The first game has this happen. However during the prologue, he gives you enough money to get the necessities and heals you (if for example you've been injured in the prologue quests) before the start of the next chapter.
Taken quite literally in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. One of Joachim's weapons is a frozen tuna. This is done again in the sequel, Shadow Hearts: From the New World. Joachim's spiritual successor Frank is more than happy to attach a badly rigor mortised swordfish to one of his numerous spare katana hilts. Only gets stranger when he gives you the back story for this decision.
Taken to its logical extreme in the games, with the player starting every single one of them in prison for an unspecified crime. Except the second one, in which the player was the victim of a shipwreck and starts out stranded in a cave. Not that this makes a significant difference. Needless to say, at least this explains their penniless state.
The first game, Arena, has the Emperor deposed and your only ally a ghost. Not a situation in which you'd expect much in the way of official backing.
The second game, Daggerfall, you were closely trusted by the Emperor after saving his life. Although you choose a reward in character creation, all options are slightly underwhelming.
The third game, Morrowind, you're in the employ of His Majesty's secret service (no not that Majesty's Secret Service). As a covert operation they don't have much equipment lying around, though the spymaster does pay well. Morrowind parodies this somewhat, by having a mad god make you kill a giant monster with the Fork of Horripilation, which, in spite of its name, is essentially a dinner fork. In the same game, the Imperial Legion faction would give you three different sets of armour, one piece at a time, as you advanced in ranks.
In the fourth game, Oblivion, you meet the Emperor just minutes before he dies. Before the assassination he does give his blessing, and this leads to some half-decent, if somewhat plain, equipment being provided later in the game.
The fifth game, Skyrim, breaks the trend somewhat, as the events of the opening quickly leave you with a selection of dead guards to grab gear off of - low tier stuff, yes, but comparable to any rank and file soldier. If you keep with the main quest line after you escape, the uncle/father of the guy you helped escape will offer hospitality and free stuff, and by the time your status as The Chosen One is revealed, you should have at least a full set of stuff.
Dead Frontier. "Hey there player, an infection has hit the city, and the place is crawling with deadly zombies! Here's a pocketknife and a handgun."
Final Fantasy I memorably starts the player's party at Lv.1 strength with no equipped weapons, armor, magic spells, or any items whatsoever, and just 400GP to buy your starting equipment with. Even the lowly Imps pose a significant threat should you choose to simply wander out and start hunting monsters unequipped.
In Final Fantasy IV. Your quest starts with two knights, each with the armor on his back, the weapon in his hand, sparse inventory and a very slender wallet. The justification comes from the strong implication that the king sending them on this quest would be very happy to see Cecil, at the very least, killed in action.
Subverted in Final Fantasy VI: A king joins your party; his subjects initially refuse to charge him at the shops. While he insists, being a good and noble monarch who doesn't want his subjects to go hungry, they continue to offer a sizable discount if you approach them with this character on point. However, for the rest it's still in full effect: Despite your party including a king of a fairly prosperous nation, one of the wealthiest men in the world, a renowned treasure hunter, and an imperial general among other persons you would expect to have some gainful employment or savings, your best bet for cash is still killing wolves and goblins.
Averted in Final Fantasy VIII where you get a regular paycheck from your employer and not one Gil from killing monsters.
Final Fantasy X, in which the party seems suspiciously ill-equipped for a pilgrimage they've been planning for years. Despite this, one has to admit the Brotherhood Sword and Staff of Wisdom are both damn fine weapons that do fairly well for a good 1/2 to 2/3 of the game, and the further you get in the game, more people will give the party free gear (though frequently just potions). The game also lampshaded the Adam Smith Hates Your Guts trope when Wakka complains that shopkeeper Rin is charging them for weapons and items right before an important Boss Battle where Rin and others will also die if they fail. Naturally, Rin coolly explains that he is certain of their success.
In Final Fantasy XI, for the quest to unlock the Dark Knight job, you are given a BFS and sent off to kill a hundred mobs with it... but it's the worst BFS in history, doing about as much damage per strike as a paper cut, and has a huge delay between strikes.
Final Fantasy XIII also justifies this as a result of the characters attending the Bodhum fireworks show... and then PSICOM gets involved the next day when it's discovered (by them, some characters knew beforehand) that Serah is a Pulse l'Cie. The result is that the entire show, sans military, is scheduled to be Purged, with any fancy equipment confiscated along with personal belongings.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance subverts this in a way. As you free different areas, you will get discounts due to saving them. However, considering that the palace wants you dead, well, you can't really expect much help from them.
Egregious in the first game, where the player is charged with his task, and given 120 G, enough to buy a wood club and a basic set of clothes. Times are tough, to be sure, but when you're given this task, there are two guards in the same room wearing full body armor and carrying spears.
In the later games in the series, this isn't so glaring; for example, one chapter in Dragon Quest IV has a soldier commissioned on a quest from a king, starting out with basic equipment — the explanation for this is that the king keeps the taxes on his people low, so there isn't enough to afford decent weapons and armor for their troops. Dragon Quest VIII has as its starting main characters a guard from a destroyed kingdom and a poor bandit, thus making their lack of resources a little more sensible.
If anything, the worst example in Dragon Quest comes from the third game in that series: in that game, you are the son of a legendary heroic figure, you are a known quantity in terms of badassitude, and the king of your country wants you to vanquish an arch-fiend. But he's pretty much like "Go kill that dude, OK? Pip pip cheerio." without giving you much help at all — certainly not what you'd expect a country to throw behind its favored son/daughter. Thanks a lot, jerk. Of course, since you're only 16, perhaps giving you keys to the castle treasure room isn't the best of ideas. However, you find a key to the castle treasure room later on, but the items in there aren't all that good anyway.
And then there's Dragon Quest II. The main character is crown prince of Midenhall, and is dispatched by his father to defeat the wizard responsible for single-handedly destroying their sister kingdom of Moonbrooke. What does the king, his father, give him to achieve this with? Fifty gold pieces and a copper sword. The other two playable characters, also a prince and a princess, aren't any better off, though one of them has the excuse that she'd been turned into a dog before the player uncursed her. The main characters of Dragon Quest II are directly descended from the protagonist of the first game. This trope is probably a family tradition by now. Especially given that the hero of the first game is in turn descended from the hero of the third.
Warhammer 40000 Space Marine does this to help establish how much of a badass Captain Titus is. Standard issue equipment for a Space Marine is a Chainsword and Bolter (basically a fully automatic rocket-propelled grenade launcher) and Space Marine Captains are very likely to carry a Power Sword or Power Axe instead of a Chainsword. You start the game using a Jump Pack (that you drop right after landing) to land on an Ork ship in mid flight with nothing more than a combat knife (which would be a broadsword to a normal human) and Bolt Pistol.
As more advanced weaponry is contained around the forge world the game takes place on (a world essentially designated entirely for industrial production and creating the best equipment the Imperium can offer, this one uniquely for creating Humongous Mecha) or dropped onto it with drop pods while the situation on the planet was in general implied to be very desperate and tense, and Titus' landing was made up on the spot by him completely while they were in orbit, it may be inferred their suppliers were unable to better equip them quickly enough and everyone was certain the Space Marines would be fine once they made it planet-side anyway - after all, who better to be expected to manage to equip themselves on a world teeming with weaponry than a veryextensively genetically-engineeredSuper Soldier that's been brutally trained for decades?
Subverted in one scenario from New Horizons, the sequel to Uncharted Waters: the player is sent on his mission with almost nothing to his name but a broken down boat, as some sort of character-building exercise — but before he can Get On The Boat, several characters discreetly slip him some extra money to get him off to a good start. Queen Hot Shounen Mom also sneaks him a brooch he can pawn off. In another New Horizons scenario, the main character is offered "all the gold he requires" by Henry VIII, but is shortchanged by a jealous court official. Also, the boat he commandeers is a Latin (not made for combat, oh so not made for combat) and the jealous court official named it "Simpleton". The king gives him a short sword and a leather armor. Your first mate (a drunken lout) is better equipped than this, but to be fair, Otto (the character in question) gets 10000 gold pieces and a Spanish Galleon very shortly after this thanks to aforementioned First Mate.
Also subverted in Romancing Sa Ga 3: if you start off as a settler, you don't get anything, while if you start off playing the Emperor...
Witchaven originally started the main character, big badass with Designated Hero credentials, invading the eponymous Witchaven... with a knife. After complaints with the demo, developers just gave the main character every weapon in the game at the start (weapons eventually break).
Good and noble king he may be, but Lord British never seems to have much to offer in the way of material resources when he summons you to his universe to save the day. Note that in Ultima IV, the continual poverty and starvation might be part of the Secret Test of Character necessary to become The Avatar.
In Ultima VI, he offers you free pick of whatever is available in his castle (which isn't all that much), but will attack and kill you if you take his dinner fork. Of course, every other NPC will attack you on sight if they see you stealing something. Including the blind NPC.
In Ultima VII, the Avatar has been gone from Britannia so long that some of his tools have become museum pieces, and the player must break into the museum under cover of night and steal them. Lord British, on the other hand, is happy to let you have the artifacts of yours that remain in his possession.
In Ultima 7 part 2, you start out with all the cool equipment from the last game, only to lose it in a magical teleportation storm. Mercifully, most of your gear (and crew) will be found in the strangest locations, due to that teleportation storm.
Averted in World Of Ultima 2: Martian Dreams, in which the rescue expedition to Mars includes a set of practical, useful supplies for starting out.
In Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, you're summoned to rescue a baron's daughter from the eponymous Huge Underground Dungeon. So naturally he just tosses you in there with jack-all to your name and locks the door. Well, he believes that you are responsible for his daughter's disappearance and are lying about being the Avatar. He really thinks he's giving you the death penalty by throwing you in there.
As Spoony points out that's not very logical either: doesn't the baron want his daughter to be rescued? Regardless if you had anything to do with the kidnapping, wouldn't it be in the baron's best interests to say "OK, here are the best weapons and equipment we have. Bring my daughter back from the Abyss and we let you go, no questions asked."? I mean, that's pretty much what he does only instead of giving you the best possible chance of bringing his daughter back alive, he just chucks you in the pit with nothing.
Metal Gear Solid and its 2-D predecessors start with the hero unarmed, and carrying nothing but a radio transceiver and a pack of cigarettes (which you had to smuggle along in your stomach... addiction is a nasty thing, huh?).
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater actually had an explanation for why Snake went into battle pretty much unarmed: He's a spy during the Cold War and being issued any weapons increases the risk of having the West implicated in espionage activities. Just the sight of the A-130 gunship in Soviet airspace as it was fleeing from the failed Virtuous Mission was enough to nearly trigger nuclear war. That's why Snake was codenamed "Naked Snake", as he was essentially going into battle naked — unarmed (except for two knives and a tranq. pistol). And while he found NATO weapons during Operation Snake Eater, he had no idea why or how they were there until EVA explained that the Soviets were smuggling them in.
Those are Handwaved as FOX/FOXHOUND standard operating procedures, at least until the events of MGS4, but by that time, they didn't do sneaking missions anymore and thus had no need to adhere to this trope.
Averted in Metal Gear Solid 4, where you get an AK-102 right after the first cutscene, and meeting up with Otacon later gets you your usual pistol and tranquilizer. Also, some cutscene interactions with some characters get you some free weapons, such as the M4, the Scorpion, the railgun, the MGL-40 and the DSR-1.
In Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, you don't suffer from this trope, seeing as you start off with a M-16, a tranq. gun, a stun rod and you'll find some grenades near your first drop, but some of the Extra Ops side-missions require you to take over an enemy base armed with nothing but a banana.
Hell, in the original Metal Gear, you parachuted into Outer Heaven with nothing but a pack of cigarettes.
The Enchanter series of classic Interactive Fiction games sent an apprentice wizard off to save the world from the Big Bad with nothing but a spellbook with a handful of low-powered spells (in Enchanter itself, this is purposefully done to avoid being noticed by the Big Bad). You don't even get food and water — you have to forage for that yourself. Beyond Zork (which is a fusion of the Zork and Enchanter games) plays on the series' experiences with the trope by explaining that this is Because Destiny Says So. It turns out that all the powerful archmages in the world have been secretly helping your progress, as NPCs, which does explain all the convenient shopkeepers with ridiculously powerful magic items hanging around.
The sequel to Enchanter does start you off with a reasonably-filled spellbook, as well as a potion to "obviate the need for food", as many players complained about having to waste time in the first quest to get a meal, rather than saving the world.
Justified in the third game, Spellbreaker, where magic becoming erratic has resulted in much of your spellbook being erased (and one spell added).
Knights Of Xentar: Cleverly subverted; the hero-out-to-save-the-world actually starts the game with a fortune worth of gems, a set of Genji Armor and the legendary Falcon Sword, along with enough heroic strength to easily defeat an entire gang of thugs barehanded. However, during the intro, he loses all his money and equipment to thieves due to being drunk off his head, and shortly afterwards, his strength is drained by a deceptive foe, reducing him back to level 1... still, at least now we know why we start out naked and powerless, right? In a brief nod to reality, just about everyone in town refuses to have a proper conversation with you until you put something on...
Also subverted in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Your character starts out as a level 1 character, but is wearing some of the best equipment available in the game... until Death steals it all from you and scatters it around the game map. One wonders why he doesn't bother to do so again when they re-encounter one another later in the game...
Alucard's starting level and general lack of abilities is explained as the result of his centuries of slumber. Much of the relics in the game are less for giving him brand new abilities but reawakening the old ones he should have by default. It would have helped if they actually explained it in-game...
An odd variant occurs in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. When main character Jonathan first arrives at the castle, he is wielding the legendary whip that can destroy Dracula. However, he can't use it correctly; the weapon that should be singlehandedly getting him through his quest is less useful than a short sword he finds mere moments later, and the reason for its weakness is a plot point. (This does not explain why he and Charlotte can defeat the various undead threats without ever using the legendary weapon. Death even mentions this at one point.)
Justified in Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, where Hector had abandoned all the implements of his previous life (including his weaponry) in order to settle down with his beloved. After the Big Bad Isaac arranges for her death, Hector chases after him in a rage, armed only with whatever was at hand. On their first encounter, Isaac taunts him for his lack of preparation and arranges for Hector to regain his lost powers, so that their final battle can be worth the effort.
InCastlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow. Soma having lost the souls after the events of Aria of Sorrow is Handwaved well enough, but come on, Soma, charging into a castle full of demons with a pocket knife while leaving your Claim Solais at home?
Aria itself is justified as Soma is just visiting the shrine when he gets transported into Dracula's castle in an eclipse.
At the beginning of the first sequence of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, glyph expert Shanoa is preparing to receive the Dominus glyph from her master. Things go awry. At the beginning of the second sequence, she learns her first glyph from scratch, having forgotten everything she had ever learned. You later learn that ritual to receive Dominus, not the accident that happened in the midst of it, was what wiped her memories in the first place. Barlowe being corrupted by Dominus itself through his research of it didn't help matters.
One of the sidequests in Portrait of Ruin demands that you kill Gergoth (a big, ugly, bipedal creature that shoots lasers from its mouth) using a Blank Book. Thankfully, all you have to do is score the killing blow with the book- using your other weapons and skills to soften it up will still let you clear the quest.
In a jarring case of Honor Before Reason, Leon Belmont from Lament of Innocence makes his way to Walter's castle completely unarmed since he had resigned from his position as a Crusader and felt he didn't have the right to wield the sword the Church granted to him. Leon tells Rinaldo that he planned to scavenge a weapon from the castle itself. Fortunately, Rinaldo gives the well-meaning idiot the Whip of Alchemy to give him a fighting chance.
Despite her reputed experience and fame, Samus Aran begins Metroid with thirty energy units and a beam weapon that only shoots a third of the way across the screen — and whatever upgrades she acquires in each game disappear in the next. Several of the later games (Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2) include an opening scene in which she has upgraded capabilities then loses them to a serious injury or whatever (though even her upgraded form lacks several of the abilities from the previous game). Metroid Fusion removes her abilities in the opening cutscene, then makes good use of them; the discarded parts of her suit become the Big Bad of the game, and she must occasionally flee in terror from the better-equipped SA-X. In a sense, Metroid Prime 3 retroactively sets up the trope for the much older game, The Return of Samus, as by the end of that game, Samus' existing suit has been severely corrupted (The Prime series is set between Metroid and Metroid 2.
Now in Metroid: Other M, Samus does start the game with all her abilities, but upon meeting up with Adam and his team, he has her disable most of her abilities, as they aren't sure what's happened or how many survivors there are. If she uses too much fire power, she could kill someone or blow a hole in the space station. As the game progresses, Adam authorizes your abilities as you need them. Okay, but why send Samus into the lava zone without her Varia suit?
One could say that Metroidvania games thrive on this, and getting stupidly strong later on. Shadow Complex is another example, justified in that the protagonist is meant to be going on a climbing trip, not infiltrating an underground base. There is A Taste of Power section at the start, but it is with a different character who is killed off after it.
Super Robot Wars toys with this all the time. While it has its moments where it holds true to the trope ("Sorry, all of our forces are busy elsewhere, so please take on that army with two Jegans and a ReGZ,") for the most part it gives some concrete excuse. For instance, in Original Generation, you regularly receive shipments of equipment and items, but you're just one squadron out of the entire army in the war, so you don't get special treatment aside from some nifty new toys every so often.
This makes less sense in Original Generation 2, where everyone and their mum hails your guys as "The heroes of the L5 Campaign". Then again, the politicians all hate you and you've collected enough superweapons by now that you could bring hell on Earth with ease, so it sort of works.
There's actually a conversation in Original Generation about you missing out on getting the original Huckebein—you know, the one that blew off Rai's arm—your people remark that you already have the stupidly powerful R-GUN (and by extension the SRX... and the Giganscudo... and the Huckebein 009... and possibly the original-model Gespenst... and, yeah, the list goes on) and that the top brass won't trust you with another superweapon.
Xenosaga avoids this for the most part; the characters never really get more powerful (as none of the major battles are really describably and definitively "more powerful" than any of the earlier ones, and for those that are, the raw combat ability of the main characters isn't what wins it; yay for cutscenes), and moreover, the second game doesn't use shops at all! Moreover, since the first and third games predominantly use internet-based shopping, and no one really has much reason to believe that anyone's trying to save the world, expected discounts don't really come into play either.
Discounts in the first game come about legitimately, as a possible result of Shion's online-mutual-fund-investment savvy.
Odin Sphere has a bizarre variation on the shopkeeper portion of this trope, as several shopkeepers say they'll give you a discount, but none actually do. A few greedier ones do actually charge a little extra, however.
In Knights of the Old Republic; the game begins with the main character waking up in bed when their ship is under surprise attack. So it's not surprising that you start the game in your underwear, with no weapons except for the standard issue junk in your footlocker. Also, the surprise attack works, so you don't have much of a chance to scrounge up heavier equipment before running to the escape pods.
Also Justified in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. The Exile begins the game waking up inside the medical bay of a now-derelict mining facility, thus explaining the lack of equipment. The Exile then goes on to wage a shadow war against the Sith, making it plausible that nobody would have heard of her mission (hence the lack of store discounts). And while the premise of the game explains your lack of starting force powers, it's still a little non-specific about why all the other abilities (combat skills, tactics, diplomacy etc). of a legendary hero of the Mandalorian Wars would have evaporated so absolutely. Hand waved a couple of times by Kreia.
The Exile was a legendary leader, due to the weird Force bond thing that makes people want to follow her. She was actually a rather mediocre Jedi, as noted several times during the game.
In Resident Evil 4, Leon Kennedy is sent to look for the president's daughter with little more than a knife and a simple 9mm handgun. Contrary to popular belief, he was only investigating, and didn't actually know Ashley was nearby. After he's forced to defend himself, he comes back outside to find his transport out of town blocked, and the cops who had been driving it killed by the villagers, preventing him from leaving. His Mission Control sends him a gunship as soon as possible, though it is soon shot down.
In Resident Evil 5, however, this is actually justified. One of the CEOs of the companies you work for is setting you up.
In the original Resident Evil 2, you can find a picture of the team in which one unidentified member is packing a mortar, suggesting that S.T.A.R.S. was over-supplied, if anything. But tragically, neither he nor the mortar appears in the game, and he is deleted from the photo in remakes.
Resident Evil 6 justifies or averts it depending on your character and campaign. Jake was just a mercenary trying to make a buck, Sherry was expecting a simple snatch and leave mission, and Leon was security detail, justifying why they have only handguns/melee weapons. Averted with Chris, Piers, Helena and Ada; they actually expected heavy combat, and come better equipped. Piers' starting loadout even includes an anti-tank sniper rifle.
Wolfenstein 3D. In most ports, it would seem that you are sent by no less than President Roosevelt himself into the bowels of Castle Germansomething to defeat Master D and his Badds. For this special mission, Franky equips you with... a knife. To be fair, the earliest versions say you're a POW breaking out of Castle Germansomething, and taking on Hitler of, apparently, your own damned volition. But you find out about 3 times that "Your Fuhrer is in another castle."
Episode 1 of the original Castle Wolfenstein starts with you getting a pistol that a fellow prisoner stole from a guard.
The first map of Return To Castle Wolfenstein has the player starting with a pistol he got from shanking a guard. No explanation for why B.J. infiltrates the five other castles in the game with nothing more than a knife and a Walther P-38, however; you'd think Uncle Sam could have at least given him his own country's sidearm.
Not really. Going behind enemy lines, it's better for him to carry a gun that uses German ammo and, if need be, German parts for servicing.
Averted in the 2009 Wolfenstein. The first weapon you get is an MP40, and it just keeps getting better from there.
Hand waved in the first couple of Doom games, where you initially do battle with the legions of Hell while carrying a single pistol. This is explained by the Excuse Plot saying that you were a sentry stationed outside the base while everyone else went in. Naturally, all those people with the huge guns got killed and you're the only one left. This does not come off as being particularly convincing.
Played painfully, unjustifiably straight in Doom 3's Expansion Pack, Resurrection of Evil. Aside from the unmitigated, Genre Blind stupidity required to head back to Mars after the events of Doom 3, the company still doesn't equip the marines tasked with exploring ancient ruins with anything deadlier than a pistol. At least they've taped a flashlight to the gun.
Played straight in Doom clone Fortress of Dr. Radiaki, in which you start as a top-notch agent sent to investigate mysterious island... with a pistol and a goddamn baseball bat (no, not that kind). Underfinancing, indeed.
In dozens of games spanning two decades, Mega Man blows up robots from here to eternity, absorbing their weaponry, gaining new armor, and yet at the start of each new game, you start out with the Mega Buster and your basic blue armor. However, this is explained at least in Mega Man Legends 2 when Roll tells you in the very beginning of the game, "I'm sorry Mega Man—I had to sell all your old equipment to pay for the new engine!!" including the Shining Finger!!! Laser, the weapon so powerful it scared the extremely short pants off of her.
In Mega Man Battle Network this problem shows up again, with each game taking place almost directly after the previous game, with the same characters, but the card library and program upgrades gone again at the beginning of each game.
Could be hand waved in this case by saying his old chips and upgrades aren't compatible with his new PET.
This is Lan we're talking about here. For all we know he was transferring data to a new PET, and just lost it all in his room. He's not the neatest guy you'll meet.
Lan actually notes he has no idea where he put his old chips in the 6th game. And, presumably, he lost them.
Unusually for the series, X starts off Mega Man X 5 with the full armor from the previous game. If you choose X for the initial level he keeps the armor the entire game, but if you choose Zero for the initial level, X gets his armor destroyed by Sigma at the end.
X6 pretends to start you off with an armor from X5, but all its useful functions are gone.
The X series justifies this by having X believe that absolute power corrupts absolutely, so at the end of each "war" he disposes of his weapons and armor. However, starting in X5, after disposing of his armor, the wars flare up again, and Alia manages to fix the armor up, though usually with the loss of some abilities. Given the fact that X is ridiculously powerful with all his weapons and armor, he's quite justified in fearing his own power.
By the end of Kings Quest I, the titular hero has collected an all-seeing mirror, chest of infinite gold, and shield of invulnerability. On none of his other dangerous journeys in the many sequels does he take this shield along, or is it even mentioned. The only treasure that is seen again is the mirror, used as a Plot Device a few times.
This gets a Hand Wave in the KQ1 SCI remake, where the old king mentions that the fate of Daventry is linked to the treasures remaining in Daventry Castle. Most of the adventures of Graham and his family are in different lands.
Justified for most of the KQ games by the fact that the adventurer in question usually doesn't have time to pick up supplies, or loses them en-route. In Kings Quest III, Alexander-Gwydion starts off as a slave, with the rags on his back and whatever he can steal from under his cruel master's nose. In Kings Quest VI, he's been shipwrecked due to a sudden storm. Rosella is transported to Tamir in Kings Quest IV and to the Troll Kingdom in Kings Quest VII rather abruptly. Graham has the whole palace stolen while out on a walk in Kings Quest V.
At the beginning of Far Cry the main character is an arms smuggler and former Navy special forces, who unfortunately has his boat blown to hell and back. Subverted in that the first equipment you get is a decently strong pistol, some grenades and a full set of body armor. The next firearm you obtain is the ever-trusty M4, which is a mainstay until better rifles are obtained quite a bit later.
Far Cry 2, averts this strangely. From how it looks, you came to a nondescript African country with no weapons (which is strange, since you were sent to kill someone), but after you get knocked out by a bout of malaria on your arrival, you wake up to a fire fight and you start off with a pistol and a machete that The Jackal leaves in your room, but you lose the gun when you're knocked out in your attempt to run away. When you wake up and get hired by whoever rescues you (the actual starting point of the game), you are given an assault rifle, a pistol and either an RPG or a flamethrower, as well as medical equipment and a car.
Crysis : Averted — the player does start with an assault rifle, a weapon accessory pack, and 200 rounds of ammunition. Despite having fallen out of an airplane. Oh, and not to mention, a friggin' super suit! Uncle Sam is not sending you in there naked, by any means. In the sequel, Alcatraz starts with a pistol that Prophet kills himself with, but gets an assault rifle about two minutes later after encountering the first CELL patrol.
You only have a limited supply of SCAR rounds in the first level of Crysis though, which will leave you relying on the weaker FY-71 rather quickly.
Quest For Glory IV begins with the hero being force-teleported from his last adventure to a dark cave far away, starting with literally nothing. Of course, he happens to find a money pouch on a nearby skeleton and a weapon on one in the very next screen...
Mass Effect 1 pretty much requires the elite agent of the Citadel Council to buy his/her own weapons and armor. However, the game strongly implies that Spectres not only fund themselves, but that they are expected to do so. No one bats an eye when its revealed that Saren has a controlling interest in a major weapons manufacturer and commands his own private armies and massive research facilities, and by late-game Shepard should be swimming in cash, guns and armor, or both.
Lampshaded when Mordin claims that while the Salarian Special Tasks Group is very similar to the Spectres they are "Better funded. Didn't have to buy own weapons".
Justified Trope if you talk to the quartermaster. Your starting equipment is standard issue. Which basically means the standard issue Alliance equipment is the absolute worst in the galaxy.
Of course, Shepard needs to furnish equipment for six unique badasses. The Alliance needs to furnish equipment for one of the five most powerful militaries in the galaxy. "Standard Issue" means good enough for everyone, not the best for you. And they did give you that fully-crewed state-of-the-art stealth frigate to cavort around the galaxy with as you please.
Mass Effect 2 is a glorious aversion. Cerberus, the human supremacists from the first game, essentially tell Shepard, "Humanity is in danger! Take this state-of-the-art ship, an armory's worth of weapons and armor (if you bought the Firepower Pack DLC), two of our best commandos to accompany you until you recruit more squadmates, and a pile of cash. We'll be in touch to give you intel and more money, and if you need something else, call us." Shepard still has to buy weapon modifications, but to tweak higher performance out of gear that's already top of the line. Other upgrades have to be researched in the ship's lab, putting the team at the very edge of weapons and armor tech in the galaxy.
And in Mass Effect 3, the Alliance finally starts paying their Spectre, possibly out of shame at how their refusal to do so for three years drove Shepard to ally with Cerberus. Despite the fact that humanity is essentially bankrupt due to the other races calling in all debts to support their own defenses. Since they spent the past three years with their heads in the sand, they're not ready for a war. By leaving Earth to burn, they can help themselves.
Tevos: The cruel and unfortunate truth is that while the Reapers focus on Earth, we can prepare and regroup.
Subverted if you pre-ordered the Collectors Edition. Right out of the tutorial, the Alliance hands Shepard and his team a bunch of N7 weaponry, including sniper rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, and pistols. It's some of the best equipment in the game, fitting for special forces gear.
Halo. Granted, you are a Super Soldier, but Keyes sends you on your mission with a pistol he claims he doesn't keep loaded. This is a strange subversion, as the pistol is very strong in this game. Really the whole Halo series averts the trope, as you start missions with some of the best weapons in the game, like battle rifles and even specialty weapons like the sniper rifle and spartan laser. Also, you can only ever carry two weapons at once anyways, so there's no loss-of-arsenal between games.
Jagged Alliance: all the mercs come with their own kit if you're willing to pay for it, but any IMP you make gets different weapons based on their stats. For the most part however, this equipment is really low end requiring proper equipment to be purchased separately.
In Jagged Alliance 2, only the top (and incredibly expensive) mercs start out with halfway decent gear (that you also have to pay extra for). Since starting funds are very limited, it's more likely your revolution will get kickstarted by half a dozen affordable grunts armed with .38s and Glocks (while even the initial, incompetent opposition sports M-14s and SMGs). Welcome to Arulco!
7.62mm High Caliber plays this straight in the main game, sending you off to Algeira with a Tokarev TT-33, two magazines, and a box of ammo. The mercs you can hire early on often don't have much better equipment, maybe having a grenade or knife with them.
The Blue Sun mod both justifies this and averts it; you begin with a Beretta 92, two magazines, and a box of ammo (and only if you search a car at your starting location for it) and the mod FAQ recommends that players take a short quest in Puerto Viejo to earn a Beretta Px4 Storm and some ammo, but you're told at the beginning that your guide, Paco, has disappeared with your luggage. After running around Algeira for about a day with Paco, you eventually find it in the police station in Sagrada and are given a longarm that matches your character class (like a SPAS-12 or a Thompson), grenades, medical supplies, and a helmet and ballistic armor.
If the player knows how to complete the missions already, in fact, it takes no effort or time at all: you run to Santa Maria, spend a minute on a non-violent solution to a mission that gets you Paco (who comes with a handgun and some explosives, including a land mine) and a car to speed up your travel time, then run to Sagrada before the night is even over and talk to the police chief to get the equipment. It takes 10 minutes, tops.
The classic Konami arcade game Rush'n Attack sends you against an army with nothing but a knife. For the entire game. On the other hand, the enemy is restricted to nearly the same limitation: Only about one-tenth of the entire enemy army has guns (some which you can steal), and all those nifty tanks and rockets in the scenery do nothing but stand there. Army-on-a-budget perhaps? Then again, if they merely touch you, YOU ARE DEAD.
Played outrageously straight in Neverwinter Nights. The first training area sets you up with equipment somewhat better then the D&D standard forming the underlying rule system. And in D&D a level 1 character is considered better then an average soldier (who have weaker NPC classes) all of which might make for an aversion of this trope. However your normal D&D 1st level quest does not place you in the middle of a major city crisis working directly for a high level paladin (second only to the city's lord) who also gives you an extremely high class teleportation item and have you being the only availible heroes to resolve a crisis that has already seen an intervention from one of the settings epic level archmages. With better equipment available mere yards away from the castle in shops.
The Hordes of the Underdark expansion for Neverwinter Nights justifies it by having your character wake up to see that the Drow has sent someone to steal your equipment. Even if you manage to kill the thief, the chest holding most of your gear teleports away. At least the owner of the inn lets you have access to his armory (since he was already paying you to do a job against the Drow).
Also if you are actually using a character from a previous game, the stuff that was stolen can be found late in a Drow camp later.
Partly justified in Neverwinter Nights 2. You start basically as a peasant in a backwater village, thus explaining the lack of equipment — and when, after a long journey to Neverwinter, you're finally enlisted by authorities, they do offer you some equipment. But not much. For example, if you join the City Watch, all you get is a cloak, while the NPC Watchmen have chainmail armor and shields, but ironically, no cloaks. When Lord Nasher gives you a ruined keep to command, he's generous enough to provide you with a sum that's one tenth of what it takes to rebuild it completely — he evidently expects you to earn the rest by taxing peasants and merchants, but the income is so minuscule that it actually benefits you to avoid putting any taxes and just pay the rest of the costs by selling loot. Even at the point when the fate of the land literally depends on you and the defenses of your keep, the Neverwinter Nine don't bother to fund rebuilding the tower to use as their own base of operations, and expect you to do this instead. (Thankfully, all keep expenses are optional, and the only downside of neglecting the keep is a slightly harder battle sequence.)
Hand waved early in the watch quest, where the captain claims that the war at the end of the last game nearly bankrupted the city.
Expansion PackMask of the Betrayer has an interesting take on this trope: the villiage of Mulsantir is a-ok with throwing you against the bear god Okku with little more than the clothes on your back and a single prisoner to fight alongside you because they really don't care if you lose. The god in question threatened to destroy the town specifically so he could get to you, and the villagers (which don't like you very much anyhow) figure that he'll go away once he gets what he wants — namely, your head on a silver platter. The only reason you get any help at all is because they didn't want you complaining about it.
Deus Ex plays with this. You start off with a couple of simple weapons and barely any ammunition, but within a minute or so you're told that you're being sent in alone, as a test. The PC balks and says that he's not against a test, but UNATCO (the employing organization) had better issue some hardware. You are then given a choice of one of three weapons; a rocket launcher, a sniper rifle, and a small crossbow with poison tranquilizer darts. Each weapon is just about the best of its type in the game.
Later in the game you are issued a silent pistol, various tools and ammunition, and a lot of bonus pay, but much of your equipment must be found, purchased, or taken from the cooling hands of dead men (or at least the slack hands of unconscious men).
And even later when you're escaping from the UNATCO base, if you visit the Armory, the general running it believes that you were set up, opens the door, and tells you to take whatever you can carry.
Deus Ex Invisible War partially justifies this in that you are a cadet with not much access to hardware and that your home city gets destroyed (presumably with all your stuff) just before the game starts. You also get given nanotech upgrades you would have received anyway if not for the base being invaded.
Also averted a bit — isn't there a black-market biomod available right in the first level if you know how to get it?
Deus Ex Human Revolution is a semi-offender: David Sarif issues Adam Jensen a combat rifle when he's still 100% organic, fits him with every augmentation they have when they rebuild him, and his choice of a revolver, stungun, combat rifle or tranquilizer rifle prior to his first combat mission as an augment. Afterwards, he never pays Adam another credit. If Adam gives Arie Van Bruggen a weapon when Belltower comes to kill him, he hangs a lampshade on this, and deposits two thousand credits in Adam's bank account.
Actually, that first (fully upgraded) assault rifle is Jensen's own personal weapon (Sarif never gives him anything there and Jensen is ex-SWAT), although it was lost after the attack. And in the later part? Go to Jensen's apartment, you'll find a small armoury which would explain why he never gripped about equipment needs to his boss. When you go to the LIMB clinics, you'll also find that Sarif made a substantial donation in Jensen's name so he could get easy access to their stuff, especially their Praxis Kits, which presumably cost much more than what you still have to pay for them.
This trope is rationalized in Legend of the Green Dragon. Once a player is powerful enough to slay the Dragon, they learn she's been protecting her clutch of eggs from the local dragon slayers (as hinted by the presence of a pamphlet wielding activist in the forest). The Dragon uses her last moments to erase the player's memory in an attempt to save her young, thus stripping the player of experience and skill. In their struggle to safety, the player loses their armour and weapons as they exit the cave.
The Contra series. The entire world is in danger from a massive alien invasion force? What do they do? Send one or two soldiers in with minimal weapons to take care of the whole thing!
Metal Slug plays this out as well, but at least they gave their special soldiers 10 grenades with their pistol.
Averted in Castle Of The Winds. The local Jarl won't even give you the time of day until you start proving yourself as a hero. The items aren't always the most impressive (although good for some cash—and cash itself is his gift at one point). Still, the shops are more than willing to charge full price for all your needs.
In Too Human you're a cybernetic god who can cut a swath through enemies like a hot knife through butter... and yet you start the game with weapons and armor so pathetic that you'll be replacing as soon as it's possible (Hand Waved by the notion that apparently, not long before the events of the game, you were dead). Furthermore, even as a god you'll still be paying for things in shops.
Potentially justified as you are buying weapons and armor from other "gods", or (in the case of blueprints) paying for the materials to construct the potentially powerful designs. The armor you got for pre-ordering the game though attempts to avert this.
In NetHack, you get a Mission from God to retrieve a talisman. You'd think the deity who sent you on the mission would, in the hopes of giving you the highest chance of success, give you the strongest equipment possible right off the bat, and would immediately come to your aid whenever you pray. Nope! Instead, you have to sacrifice corpses to them for a CHANCE that they'll decide to grant you a strong weapon, and if you ask them for help too often they punish you.
This can be considered a sensible approach by the gods. Literally thousands of idiots are sent on the same quest, the vast majority of them dying through sheer stupidity. There simply aren't enough fancy weapons to equip each of these lemmings.
Another slight aversion to the trope is that each class comes in with the tools they figure they'll need. Wizards come in with a smorgasbord of magical items; Knights arrive in full battle arms and armor with their steed; Rangers come in with a bow and enough ammo to pincushion at least 10 floors worth of creatures. Unless you're a tourist (and even they get darts), you're entering the dungeons with a pretty dependable starting kit.
Averted in ADOM: characters get whatever starting equipment is appropriate to their race and class. Monks begin the game virtually empty-handed, for instance, while paladins arrive already kitted out with weapons and armor of fairly good quality. Merchants get a sackful of items in one category, and necromancers (you guessed it) get one undead slave.
In Lennus II (the sequel to the game released as Paladin's Quest in the US), you start out worshipped as a god and still must pay for your equipment and items outside a few dinky little chests in the temple (of you). Later, the leader of another continent has his guards bring you into his office and asks you to save the entire world. They then take you back to where they got you. Problem: you lack citizenship papers for his empire at the time. Or travel documents, or a bus pass, all of which are very very hard for you to get (you don't get the full mobility to do what he asked you to do for quite a while), all of which are necessary for you to get about saving the world, and all of which are things that you'd expect a leader to be able to grant with a wave of his hand.
Subverted, sort of, in Mother 3 (the sequel to Earthbound). When the game opens, you live in a small backwoods town with no concept of currency; as a good friend when you're in need, the local shopkeeper will cheerfully give you what he has in stock for free (which isn't much, though they do replace it regularly).
Averted in Mother 2, a.k.a. Earthbound: since the enemies don't drop money, your primary source of income is your father, who pumps cash into your bank account. By coincidence, this happens after each battle you win.
Later on in Earthbound, this trope is justified when you take control of Jeff, after Ness and Paula get trapped. He starts out with just $2—but he can't get any more money since he doesn't have the ATM card!
In X-COM: UFO Defense, the titular alien-fighting organization is painfully under-funded by the Council of Funding Nations, each of which offer usually less than a million dollars a month.
Though initial resources (including first base with everything inside) are paltry but not that bad. On the other hand, for some reason you have to R&D things that don't need alien input (like laser weapons) on your own and cannot even sell absurdly advanced technologies you found... other than by building ready goods in workshop.
UFO components and alien weapons can be easily sold in large quantities, but only after researchers have determined just what the heck they are. Your soldiers can't even throw alien artifacts before they're researched.
This was lampshaded in the books based on the game where you found out that anything you sold was on the black market to compensate for the lack of funding and alien technology was DNA coded and it was a case of putting 'human' on the accepted user list.
The worst With This Herring abuse in the X-COM series is not your equipment, which is miserable, or your funding, which is miserly, but your soldiers. Rather than give you the elite special-ops Delta/SAS/Spetznaz/GSG-9 types you would expect, you get a bunch of folks who have inhumanly bad reflexes and apparently didn't even go through basic training; some of them would almost certainly have failed the physical to boot.
At least your starting weapons are pretty good by human standards... in Terror From The Deep though, they're quite pathetic. Justified in that current underwater firearms are relatively weak and little-used.
Especially ridiculous in Hinterland; the king is sending you off alone to colonize a hostile region of his kingdom, and depending on your chosen background, you might start with enough money to hire one farmer. But on the other hand, backgrounds with combat experience start with reasonably good (for the early game) combat equipment.
The first Crusader game attempts to justify it in two ways. First, the Resistance, underfunded and poorly equipped, apparently get all their equipment from the black market, and so don't have a quartermaster to requsition materials from; you have to buy direct from their supplier. Second, for most of the game, most of your cell really doesn't like you. However, if you explore the base, you can find weapons lockers with various munitions that you can get supplies from. (In the second game, they do away with the mercantile aspect entirely, forcing you to scrounge equipment, whether from dead guys or your base.)
Played a bit oddly in the first two games. In the first game, the character starts out with a pistol, knife, and a few medical items. It's not very much, but the Vault has limited supplies and is pretty clueless about the outside world. It is possible to return to the Vault to get more equipment, including a shotgun. In the second game, you start with a spear and a knife, which is pretty much the best weaponry your little tribal village can provide.
Lampshaded in the manual to the first game (which is, in universe, a standard vault-dweller's guide). There's a chapter on equipment for forays to the outside world, listing pretty decent equipment, including very good Combat Armor. However, a post-it is drawn over this section, there it is scribbled (presumably by the Overseer): "Yeah, right. What budget did these guys have?"
In Fallout 3 you start out with a small gun a friend gives you, the clothes on your back and whatever you can scrounge on the way out, but this is because you're a kid who's forced to run away from a vault that doesn't really have much. All the same, what you can get while on the way out is in pretty good condition and is reasonable for what you fight against early on.
Fallout New Vegas averts this, with Doc Mitchell giving you a pistol for safety's sake (and his old Vault Suit, for decency) after patching you up and guiding you through character creation, and recommending you to go talk to Sunny Smiles, who will give you a rifle, a good amount of 5.56mm rounds, some survival info and recommendation to loot Goodsprings' old school house. You could also help yourself to some of the stuff around Doc Mitchell's house (it's not owned loot) where you can get a laser pistol with some energy cells, a 9mm submachinegun and a good amount of medical supplies and rations.
No More Heroes: Played straight, justified and somewhat averted. Travis begins the game fairly broke money-wise. Why? To buy your trusty lightsaberbeam katana Blood Berry of course. While Blood Berry is a powerful weapon, it pales in comparison to the later weapons you can get (especially The Tsubaki Mk. 3). The shops DO charge you full price on everything and Sylvia explicitly tells you you gotta do part-time jobs ("as a third-rater", so the job guy said) to pay the entry fee to the next matches, beam katana upgrades, accessories, etc., etc. You're hardly saving the world though, just killing a bunch of guys for money.
Averted in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned. Since your Motorcycle gang's business is gun-running, the Sergeant-at-Arms will come when you call and provide guns at a discount over the standard underground gun stores in the city. In the last mission, your character flat out tells him that he's taking all the guns for free in order to raid the prison and kill the snitch.
Justified in the Exile/Avernum series, for the most part: your party has just been thrown in prison, or are right out of training but the only ones available, or the second group out, after the first one went missing (and had already been carrying the best equipment), etc.
In Monkey Island 2 Le Chucks Revenge, Guybrush starts with a whole pile of cash and treasure he got from his adventures since the first game. However, it's all stolen quite early on.
Both justified and averted in Tales Of Vesperia. You begin the game as a man running from the law and throughout the game very few people know of your role in saving the world so no one would actually offer you a discount. However as your friends bundle you out of your hometown ahead of the Imperial soldiers, they press on you all they can spare including food, a map and money. The protagonist was particularly upset about the last one as they all had little money to go around in the Lower Quarter.
Averted in a big way in Valkyria Chronicles where your entire squad has access to the best weapons R&D can design as soon as they are designed (technically you have to fund their research, but the cash comes easy especially if you do your missions well). What's more, shortly after rescuing the princess she starts giving you weapons from the Royal Armoury (for free!) which are almost always better than your R&D equivalents.
Played straight in the first Breath of Fire. Being the hero of your tribe sent out to rescue the village's original heroine (captured by the bad guys) and save the world from the evil Dark Dragons, you'd expect the village's shopkeepers would at least cut you some slack and let you have some useful stuff to start out with.
The entire village was practically destroyed at the start of the game save the Building the hero was in and the shrine, they sort of need the money, to you know... REBUILD everything else.
Neither of the two Captain Comic games give you a weapon at the start. In the first game, there's one right in front of you at the beginning, but you have to search for it in the sequel.
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link is summoned by the Deku Tree, but to even see him the kid needs to have a sword and shield. You have to buy the shield at full price, even though you're about to attempt to save the Deku Tree and your only source of income is from cutting grass and smashing rocks. Partly justified in that Mido is just a douche who doesn't think you're good enough to even meet the Deku Tree and thus sends you out to blow your entire savings on a shield (which isn't justified) and find a well hidden sword guarded by a perpetually rolling boulder. What the Deku Tree expected you to do about the giant spider-thing living in his bowels when you didn't have a sword is the real use of this trope.
Even more egregious is the original The Legend Of Zelda, where (according to the manual's backstory) Link is sent on his quest to reassemble the Triforce of Wisdom and rescue the princess after having saved her lady-in-waiting from monsters. Yet when he first enters the game, he's carrying nothing but a shield. He can acquire a free wooden sword◊ immediately, but given that the implication is that he's already been in at least one battle, what the heck was he using?
Parodied in this Dorkly video. Perhaps Link beat them to death with his "smashing board."
Justified in the Oracle games, though; Link's just been teleported to a new country by the Triforce, and left his equipment in Hyrule.
Justified in Link's Awakening as well; his belongings were lost in the shipwreck. Also, he's dreaming. Then again, couldn't the Wind Fish have given him some better imaginary tools?
Also justified in Phantom Hourglass: Link was just dozing off on the deck when Tetra suddenly decided to enter the ghostship (and get Taken for Granite), so Link had absolutely no time to hurry into his cabin and get his equipment from Wind Waker when he heard her screaming. And when he wakes up on the island, Oshus and the islanders don't equip him with weapons, since they actually want him to give up and quit his quest, since he's just a Kid and they're worried about his well-being. Once he's proven himself to be pretty strong and capable of taking on the Big Bad, Oshus starts providing him with such awesome stuff such as the eponymous hourglass.
The Faces of Evil tries to justify it, and the sentence suffers a Memetic Mutation like everything else in these games: "-Great! I'll grab my stuff! -There is no time, your sword is enough!"
Thankfully averted in Majora's Mask, where Link has both a sword and shield at the beginning. Unfortunately he ends up getting turned into a Deku, so he can't use them for a short time, but at least he actually has them this time.
Played relatively straight in Minish Cap. The Big Bad shows up, turns the princess to stone, and opens a literal Pandora's Box. So, the king gives you everything he apparently thinks you need to deal with all this by yourself: a broken sword, and permission to use the not-broken low-level sword you already had. Link also has a shield by this point, but only because Zelda won it for him in a carnival game.
This can easily happen in Dwarf Fortress, if you fail to properly prepare your seven-dwarf expedition with the needed skills and material before setting out for the selected fortress site. Some people deliberately take it on as a challenge, trying to build a fortress with a bunch of soapmakers and animal dissectors (you normally don't get those until later) instead of miners and woodcutters. In Adventure Mode, having the highest skill in swords, maces, hammers, axes, spears, or whips gives you a shield and a bunch of leather armor, having the highest in pikes, crossbows, or bows gives you leather armor, and wrestlers are lucky to get much more than some sandals and a loincloth. Good luck killing dozens of bandits and night creatures!
A commercial for the video game version of The Jungle Booklampshaded this trope. A guide tells the viewer (or an unseen listener) about the dangers of the jungle and then says, "But you ain't getting nothing; you're just getting bananas and underwear. Ever get to level 10 in your underwear, boy?!"
Averted quite throughly in Crackdown: the player starts off with an assault rifle with an adjustable scope, access to the best vehicles in the game, the ability to jump ten feet straight up while standing still, and the strength to rip a car door off its hinges... and everything goes up from there.
Inverted in Scribblenauts and its sequel, Super Scribblenauts. You start off being able to create everything — from shotguns and TNT to dialysis machines and coffee shops — not to mention Cthulhu. The first goal in the game is cutting down a tree. You can seewhere this is going. To the point where sooner or later you have to stop yourself from going over the top and get out some rope. To attach to a whale.
The money you start with in Arcanum Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura is barely sufficient to buy armor and a weapon during character generation. Admittedly, you just survived a blimp crash, but the majority of things you can salvage from the wreckage are quest items and junk resources. You can choose a perk that gives you a little more pocket change to start with, but it's not much. But no-one gives you any important quest. Protagonist is simply asked to deliver some information and the whole story slowly unravels in later part of games. This may qualify however, as somewhat later Gilbert Bates, probably the wealthiest industrialists in the game world sends you on the important mission without providing you with at least some equipment or decent expense money.
In both Icewind Dale games, your party starts their quest in one of the most inhospitable regions of the Forgotten Realms with nothing but their clothes and quarterstaves. This is particularly ridiculous in the second game, as your party just signed up to be mercernaries.
Hilariously referenced in a Let's Play of the game, where the female monk repeatedly comment on how she's freezing all the time, having apparently forgotten to bring pants on her journey to the frozen hellhole that is Icewind Dale. (Admittedly, she did start with low wisdom until someone else pointed out how important it is for monks, so it is in character for her...)
Ace Combat games usually (but not always; see the So Last Season article for a rundown of the Zig-Zagging Trope) start you off with a dinky outdated fighter. True, you start as a newcomer who only earns a fearsome reputation later, but surely they could stand to start you off with a 4th-gen plane. Perhaps most egregious in Zero, where Cipher is ostentatiously a mercenary, but clearly comes from some backwater outfit that doesn't have up-to-date birds.
Not really that egregious; the narrator makes it pretty clear that Cipher was a nobody before he was hired by Ustio- just because he's a mercenary doesn't mean he's wealthy, and Ustio was pretty desperate at the time. In contrast to Cipher's humble beginnings, Pixy is tooling around in an F-15C and already has a solid reputation.
Partially averted in free MMORPG Mabinogi. The starting armour, ordinary clothing, is practically worthless; but the starting weapon is more effective than nearly any of the others you can get (particularly since it compensates for your low stats, wheras all the good weapons require considerably higher stats or skills to be more useful than the beginner version).
Played with in Diablo and Diablo II. In both games, you don't start out with much, but your initial equipment isn't terrible. It'll do for a bit until you can get better stuff. Justified in both games because A) you're not really all that special of an adventurer and B) the areas you're in are typically going through hard times.
Averted almost completely in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. The reason none of the Hidden Village guard except Danette joins you is because there's few of them to begin with and they need to protect Layna (who is two centuries old by now and needs to sleep for days on end to live), you can't buy items from anybody for various reasons except from Gig (and it's unlikely anybody else even has the stuff you get from Gig anyway, since the Items in the game are really you just using Gig's powers through the use of "Gig Edicts"), nearly every bit of civilization you go to that isn't against you will offer you their best soldiers to join your party, and the monetary unit you use in the game are "Gig Points", rather than an actual currency, which explains why nobody funds you.
It's also worth noting that Danette and the main character both use Infinity+1 Swordsas their default weapons. The game doesn't feature any micromanagement of individual units beyond their experience level.
Justified in BioShock, which starts you off fresh from a plane crash in the middle of the ocean. Of course you have no equipment to speak of to defend yourself from the horrors in Rapture. What's the first thing you pick up? A wrench. You were of course kindly asked to "Find a crowbar or something."
Eventually justified in Cave Story. You begin the game with no weapons, no memories, and three hit points. And then you find out that you're a war robot, and your original mission was to invade the island (bristling with killer creatures) and destroy the Demon Crown that grants its wearer insane power. Ten years ago. You were able to defeat the Crown's bearer then, but failed to destroy the Crown, and you got the everloving crap beaten out of you in the process and went into standby mode. Hence why, ten years later, you have to start from scratch to finish the job.
Mostly averted in the Eye Of The Beholder series. You start the first game with pretty reasonable equipment for first-level characters. Even better, in EoB 2 and 3 you can import your party from previous games, turning the better part of the game into a cakewalk.
A typical feature of Silent Hill games is that the protagonist will usually start the game with only a wooden plank or an iron bar to fend off the nasties with. Tends to be justified in that most people don't go to resort towns expecting to be attacked by deformed, rotting dogs or abominations wrapped in their own skin.
The protagonists' arsenal, or lack thereof, are entirely justified in every game, considering the circumstances. Harry accidentally crashes into Silent Hill. James' already unbalanced enough to go looking for his dead wife. Heather is having an everyday lunch at the mall, and she's already packing a knife on her. Henry is just some bloke sitting around in his apartment. Travis is a trucker minding his business. Why would any of this average joes expect any of the ordeals the game has in store for them? If anything, this trope is justified.
Averted and subverted numerous times in Star Ocean The Second Story. The backwater town you start in supplies you what little it can before you go to save one of their number, the king of the first continent will give you 'travel money' intermittently (and to be fair, isn't fully aware just how dire your quest really is), and even the desolate, monster-ravished barely surviving colony you encounter later will reluctantly give all the equipment they own to what is essentially their last hopeless gambit (You.). Of course, shopkeepers are still greedy jerks and only give discounts if you use a powerful group-IC skill or prettyication medicines (seriously). Or if you blackmail them with forged documents. Priorities much?
In the first Star Ocean, two of your early party members are aliens from technologically advanced species (that is, humans) and are part of the Federation. However their decision to save Roak is technically against orders, so they can't bring any government backing. And the plan requires time travel through a blatant copy of The Guardian of Forever (Star Trek ripoffs abound in the beginning of this game), which demands that all artifacts of an advanced future has to be left behind. (Including, for some inexplicable reason, your sword.) When you arrive in the past, merely getting a weapon to fight with requires a quest.
Front Mission 5 sees your character start off as a lowly wanzer pilot who gets the cash to upgrade his (and his teams') gear between missions. You can get a bit more by various means, you never really have enough to make all of your wanzers top of the line. This does make sense at the start of the game given your rank, but even when you join a "best of the best" unit later on the restriction still applies.
Front Mission: Gun-Hazard starts you off in a wanzer intended for hard labor, and then has you trying your damnedest to protect the president from a barking mad general's coup.
La-Mulana's manualHand Waves Lemeza's lack of starting equipment as being the result of airport security; he was only able to keep his whip and MSX by insisting that they're "souvenirs."
Half-Life justifies the use of this trope, as the expendable peons (Gordon included) didn't know the experiment would not go as planned, thus most are reasonably unarmed. In Half-Life 2 however Barney sends Gordon in a vague direction to a distant La Résistance base with nothing but a crowbar, despite (perhaps because?) him becoming an almost messanic figure that has become a powerful rallying force.
Dragon Age: Origins does this, but by the time you're a full member of the Wardens and would expect to be equipped you're already as well kitted as everyone but the officers anyway (with variation depending on origin).
In Faxanadu, the king would provide you 1500 gold in order to help you start your quest to save the World Tree. 1500 gold was about enough to buy some basic equipment and a potion. Amusingly, because of how the game's logic worked, if you bought the right combination of items to use up all your cash, you could go back to the king and get another 1500 gold.
Urban Chaos Riot Response had a funny aversion of this. In response to the Ax Crazy Burners running around the city, you and the rest of your elite zero-tolerance unit are given pistols, which would suck in any other scenario, but this pistol is extremely accurate, packs a punch, has a lot of ammo and is a god when fully upgraded. Even when you're given newer toys or just loot some from the corpses of your enemies, you'll find that you'll be using the pistol a lot. And don't forget the riot shield and taser.
The first Dino Crisis begins with cutscenes and an introductory area featuring Regina (the player character) and her fellow soldiers. The others have large automatic rifles, Regina is carrying only a pistol. What the heck, did she forget all her gear? Some cheat codes actually allowed you to begin the game with different weapons, so you could give her a riot gun just so she'd look suitably badass in those scenes.
The cutscene before starting in Painkiller has an angel ask Daniel the protagonist point blank: "Do you need weapons?" Daniel responds angrily that he can take care of himself. To be fair, he does suspect that such generosity would come with a price he'd have to pay later. Following which, the game begins and immediately turns this trope on its ass. The eponymous Painkiller is a weapon and holy freaking God what a sign of things to come. It's essentially a handheld blender that can fire off its business end which can then anchor into any surface and act as a focus point for a vicious laser beam. It's one of the most devastatingly effective and creative weapons in a game that is basically all about devastatingly effective and creative weapons, and practically a Disc One Nuke compared to most other FPS that start you with a shitty pistol or melee weapon. It's one of the few FPS of its type in which you can go through the entire game using only this starting weapon without ever coming close to Self-Imposed Challenge territory.
Justified then averted in Metro 2033: initially you can only grab a revolver when your home station comes under attack, but once everything calms down you're sent to the quartermaster and fitted out with body armour, a gas mask, flashlight, a submachine gun and generous portions of ammunition. NPCs are similarly helpful later on in the game.
At the beginning of Aveyond 3 (either Lord Of Twilight or Gates of Night, depending on which you got first) the King of Thais subverts this slightly by giving Edward Excalibur, but Excalibur's power depends on what stone it has equipped and the one he gives you sucks, so. Besides, he doesn't give you any armour or any gold or any equipment at all for the other team members.
Played realistically straight twice in the original Call of Duty. First, as an American paratrooper, you land having lost your weapon in the jump. Second, as a Soviet infantryman, you get off the riverboat at the Stalingrad docks with nothing more than 5 rounds of ammunition and a cheerful suggestion of picking up a rifle if you see one of your better equipped comrades die.
Slightly justified in the first game, as Altair starts with A Taste of Power, but abuses his abilities and neglects his creed; being stripped of most of his equipment is his punishment, and he will gradually have it returned as the game progresses. What plays this straight is how Al Mualim then expects him to assassinate nine powerful and well protected men under these circumstances. Guess Altair is just that badass.
Justified in Assassins Creed II. At the start, Ezio is just an ordinary Italian youth and understandably does not have a reason to be packing real heat, so all he has are his fists.
Also justified in Assassins Creed Revelations. Ezio gets captured and disarmed in a cutscene before gameplay proper starts, and even when you get some weapons back one Hidden Blade is unavailable because it was broken in said cutscene.
Justified in Alpha Protocol: the reason you have to raise money yourself to buy weapons and equipment is to preserve the organization's secrecy and not have any funding trails linked to it. The process is actually what makes the organization so successful, as each agent is encouraged to develop their own bank accounts, safehouses, and contacts. Ultimately, this turns into Mike's greatest weapon when he is forced to go rogue.
Slime Forest Adventure: Well, you're not actually a hero, you're a potato farmer who accidentally stumbled into the plot (such as it is). So, it's perfectly natural that you start with a hoe and the clothes on your back.
Justified in Oni. Konoko's first mission starts off as an intelligence-gathering infiltration, so she's equipped only with a standard TCTF sidearm. She's too busy running from one crisis to another for the next few levels to visit an armory, and later she goes rogue and can't get better equipment. It still doesn't justify her losing them between levels, though.
Played straight in Golden Eye Wii. The player starts each level with only Bond's trademark Walther P99 and his do-everything Smartphone, and loses everything else between levels. This might make sense for some missions (Bond wouldn't be loaded for bear when visiting an informant in a nightclub), but becomes silly in others (such as infiltrating the secret base of a terrorist out to wipe out all the computers in London).
While this would be justified in Albion, seeing how Tom and Rainer are sent to explore a reputedly lifeless planet, and they have no idea what they're getting into, so it's understandable they would have nothing other then their clotes, the trope is completely averted, seeing how one of the game's most powerful weapons can be acquired in the prologue before any action would take place. One full set of rather decent equipment is also provided to the player in a shop in the very first town, for less than 10% of it's full price.
Subverted in Xenonauts. While human kinetics are still crap barely fit to kill starting aliens, unlike X-COM you will at least start with reasonably elite troops and the laughable idiots will only start showing up if you lose any of your original men.
Played with in Bunny Invasion, where the gun salesman justifies charging you outrageous prices becaue if you live, he gets money, and if you die... well, he's not in any danger. He has all the guns.
Dragon Slayer belongs with the most egregious cases. The player starts out totally unequipped amid hostile monsters which will descend in swarms. Good luck hunting for a sword to start Level Grinding with.
Averted in Sryth. You do have some basic equipment and as soon as you arrive in Hawklor (the starting village) you can visit Irzynn the Outfitter, who gives you quite a lot of free stuff (though all of it is low quality) before moving to Durnsig. If your character has been upgraded to AG status (i.e. if you have subscribed) you can visit him in Durnsig and get Goblindoom (which is the best weapon available to AG members for quite some time) and Adventurer's Ring (one of the best rings early in the game). Also, in some of the early adventures, such as the River Pirates and the Secret of Stoneback Hill, you are given free items you can take. Later in the game you’re on your own, but by that time you likely have better stuff than any NPC except Tallys (who is the man to go to if you have somehow managed to collect a substantial amount of Adventurer Tokens, or if you just donated a few hundred bucks and would like to buy some shiny new toys for your character).
Might And Magic 6, 7 and 8 all have the adventurers start off with substandard equipment, though only 8 lacks a justification for that: in 6, the party doesn't become the Famous Government-Backed Adventurers of Legend until later in the game, when they've very likely already had picked up nicer stuff, and 7 starts of with a treasure hunt contest run by a guy who underestimates the number of dragonflies in the area and thinks the locals' references to a dragon are just references to the dragonflies. In 8, your party starts off backed by an important trader and the local potentate for a mission important to the interests of the native culture and the trader, yet your characters still get the same rusty swords and cheap leather as in the earlier games.
Justified in the first game; Laharl has just woken from a two year nap, was not expecting to find his father the overlord dead and a fight for his title at hand, and most of his vassals have left and stolen his money in the mean time. So it makes sense that Laharl has to start from scratch if he wants to be king.
Played straight in part two. Adell is planning to have Overlord Zenon, a living god who once killed a thousand other overlords in a single day, summoned right to him to receive a beating. And he's been preparing for this day for the past fifteen years of his life. So why does he have no money, no weapons, and is level 1?
Justified in 3, as Mao is the Netherworld's greatest Honor Student, and for a demon that means never attending class; he just spends all day in his room playing video games and reading comic books as "research", and so is not only unequipped, but also ignorant of how the school works. Played somewhat straighter with Almaz, who expected to waltz into the Netherworld and save a princess from the Overlord with his pathetic level and gear.
Justified in 4, as Valvatorez has willingly given up all his once mighty powers by abstaining from human blood for centuries, and has a lowly job instructing prinnies.
The recent Sam & Max games play with this a bit... you retain some key items between chapters, and the boys always have their guns with infinite ammo... it's just the game has a serious case of Soup Cans, Rule of Funny, and Rule of Fun. It gets to a ridiculous extreme when Max literally becomes the freakin' President of the United States, but his authority is so caught up in beauracracy that he's pretty much in the same position he would be otherwise.
Nearly every Tomb Raider game has Lara Croft start her adventure with nothing but a pair of pistols and some small health kits, despite the fact that nearly every artifact she hunts down usually has bad things happen to her from various people and animals. Averted in Tomb Raider II where Lara learns her lesson from last year's grueling adventure and she carries a shotgun as well.
In the second Infinity Blade game, Siris starts out at level 1 but is decked out with awesome equipment and the Infinity Blade itself...and loses it all to the Dangerously Genre SavvyGod King's trap at the end of the prologue. Siris then has to make do with subpar equipment at the beginning of the game proper.
The infamously bad RPG Stargazer took this to ridiculous extremes, putting the heroes at level 0 (that's not a typo) and capable of only dealing 1 damage (if you're lucky.) All this from supposedly powerful psychics that are the world's last hope of stopping the villain.
You start off with poor equipment in both The Godfather games and weak allies in the second. In the first it's at least justifiable that Don Vito might not think Aldo important enough to issue top-end gear, but in the second Dominic is the Corleones' Dragon-in-Chief and thus Michael has no real reason to skimp.
In Abe's Oddysee, Abe must escape from the deadly meat-packing plant and rescue 99 fellow slaves before they're used for meat. He has a loincloth and the ability to fart at will. He does learn to possess the gun-toting guards who have orders to shoot him on sight, but this only works if he can see them while standing out of range, and possessed guards aren't useful for much, so it's hardly a solution to every problem.
Fresh spawns in DayZ start out with a flashlight, a bandage, a pack of painkillers, and a small (empty) backpack, with a town or city a short distance away. You are up against hordes of zombies, potentially well-armed players who may or may not have no problem with shooting you in the face for shits and giggles, and the threat of dehydration or starving to death. Not to mention broken bones, infection, shock, a complete inability to navigate outside of using the stars for finding north, or a way to see at night without revealing yourself to half the map. If you want to fix that, you need to risk all of this while scavenging for supplies.
Being based on the first Final Fantasy game, the webcomic justifies and parodies this by the king simply being a total jerkass and maniac who gives the party nothing to save his daughter and the only thing they get for saving her is a bridge built... that he was making anyway and named after himself. Also, directly referenced in this comic, where it's apparently irrelevant as the weapons in the town all sucks for some reason.
Speaking of, after Sarda depowered them and later imploded from Phlebotinum Overload, the gang has to face up to taking Chaos out. They have to do this in twenty-four hours to avert Chaos' plot to destroy the world (which likely involves a Time Crash); needless to say, they're having a bit of trouble getting their act together after faffing about and ruining civilization up to this point.
Averted in Tales of the Questor. Although the organization forcing Quentyn, the titular Questor, to go on his virtually impossible mission give him literally nothing at all, his fellow villagers (who he is going on his mission FOR) equip him to their level best ability — food, clothing, equipment, weapons, even an airship. Furthermore, a team of engineering students, sent by a school intrigued by Quentyn's expedition, come to make improvements to the airship and his other equipment.
Defied by Digger. Murai plans to travel with only a begging bowl, trusting her god to provide for her.
Digger: Yeah. Okay. See, what I think you're failing to grasp is that your god did provide, and what he did provide was me. So you're going to corner whatever passes for a quartermaster in this joint, and you're going to get a blanket, a first aid kit, and a couple of pounds of trail mix, got it? And a knife. And tinder and flint. And I suppose it's too much to ask that anybody's heard of crampons around here...
In Toonami: Endgame, TOM kills the pirate that destroyed the Absolution and kidnapped SARA, with a fork.
In The Fairly Oddparents "Wishology" trilogy, Timmy is told he has to fight The Darkness and sent on his way... with nothing, not even his fairies, to help him. He also loses everything at the beginning of the next two parts, forcing him to start over.
In Iraq, American troops have had to resort to "hillbilly armor". For the uninformed, that's putting sheet metal and other scraps on your Humvee as armour kits. These kinds of kludges are not uncommon in most militaries; the greatest problem affecting almost any armed force in history has been logistics and supplies. For example, Generation Kill points out that when the United States Marine Corps was invading Iraq in '03, they were issued MOPPs in forest green camouflage.
Justified in that Iraq is not all desert, it is Mesopotamia after all, and the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is green and verdant.
The British Army had similar problems, as most of their desert pattern equipment had been allocated to Afghanistan. A lot of troops ended up with jungle-pattern fatigues, which were slightly better than nothing as they were at least intended for a hot climate. Afghanistan happening while we were in the middle of trying to sort out the chronic reliability issues plaguing our standard-issue rifle didn't help either.
The Canadian Army had even more issues even before Iraq, but that's because before 9/11 the Canadian Army didn't have desert fatigues.
WWI was another example for Canada, since they were forced to use equipment, such as rifles that got easily jammed with mud, disassembled when fired, and also wore boots with such poor stitching that they fell apart with the slightest wear.
The US Military really had no excuses, given that the Middle East is and has been the likeliest place for them to be deployed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Of course, the military is infamously wasteful, and even more so since they outsourced a lot to contractors.
This was actually common up until the advent of standing armies. Many medieval or Roman era soldiers were expected to provide their own equipment, especially horses. In most cases it hardly fits the trope as knights were expected to pay all military expenses of themselves and their retainers, but it was the part of feudal contract. Not to mention that Roman equites and medieval knight were usually quite resourceful and more than often THEY were the authority responsible for adequate equipment, responsibility which was later transferred to centralized government.
The term "Black Knight" actually comes from the practice of unbound knights (i.e. no fief to support themselves) covering their armor with pitch to prevent rust and generally cut down on maintenance.
The Confederacy was plagued by logistics problems throughout the war. When it started they had no capability to manufacture artillery (and when they developed it the results were sub-standard and inaccurate), their rail system was badly placed to move troops through the interior of the country, and for some reason they had a chronic shoe shortage for basically the entire war.
Some Confederate re-enactors like to think this was planned, claiming that since the high (c.50%) import tariffs on manufactured goods - like machine parts - kept the South dependent on the North for building up its industry and supplying it with factory-produced consumer and other goods. This is true, insofar as it really was a side-effect of the US' longstanding protectionist economic policies.
Similar to the Iraq example, Sherman crews in WWII strapped just about anything they could find to their tanks to try and counter superior Axis armor and antitank weaponry. Sandbags were particularly common.
Infantry have a tendency to hop aboard passing Armored Fighting Vehicles that're going their way. Tank crews have upon occasion referred to such infantry as "applique armor".
In World War II, the United States built great numbers of the FP-45 Liberator, a pistol whose main building material was stamped cheapness. The idea was to parachute them in large quantities into cities where significant resistance presence could be amassed, so long as the resistance members could be given something to fight with besides sticks and stones. The FP-45 was a shoddy weapon: imprecise, low-powered and fiddly and time-consuming to reload, its sole purpose was to allow otherwise-unarmed groups of civilians-turned-guerrillas to acquire weapons - by ambushing squads of Axis troops, using 'Liberators' to shoot them from a couple of paces' range or less, and then stealing their (proper, actually useful in pitched combat) weapons.
The .45 ACP round it used made it effective enough in terms of stopping power. As weapons historian Ian Hogg pointed out, it had to be - if that one shot (which had to be made at arm's length or so because of the gun's inaccuracy) missed, you were twelve different kinds of screwed.
Its successor the Deer gun, a similarly crappy weapon chambered in 9mm, was to be used the same way in Vietnam.