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Awesome, but Temporary

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Whoa! Look at that awesome new sword — it has twice the attack of your second best sword, so it must be the Infinity +1 Sword, right? Of course it — Hey! It just broke in the next cutscene! Apparently it was Awesome But Temporary.

You see, there are three requirements for a weapon (or armor or shield or spell or...) to be Awesome But Temporary:

By definition, there will be spoilers in this trope.

Compare Guest-Star Party Member, which refers to characters (not necessarily awesome).

If you start the game with it, but lose it in the first act, that's A Taste of Power.

It might be that the part where you get it is remembered as the Best Level Ever.

Not to be confused with Level-Locked Loot, which refers to these kinds of levels.


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  • Lone Wolf:
    • The Ironheart Broadsword in The Prisoners of Time. If you don't have the Sommerswerd, it gives you a fighting chance against the Chaos-master. After this combat, however, Lone Wolf is politely asked to return the sword to the tomb you've looted... ahem... where you found it.
    • The Deathstaff in The Legacy of Vashna. It gives an even bigger bonus than the Sommerswerd, but you won't keep it past the end of the book. In this case it's good riddance, however, because it's also an Artifact of Death and using it drains your Endurance like crazy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Most films in the franchise feature the main Rider getting early access to a powerup they won't have in the show for another month or two, or getting access to a powerup exclusive to the movie. These powerups almost always disappear after being used to beat the movie's villain, preventing them from trivializing the Rider's usual opponents.
    • Kamen Rider Geats centers around a deadly game where the players compete over access to belt buckles which grant a variety of superpowers. By far the strongest buckle that can be found is Boost. Its combination of Super-Speed, Playing with Fire, and serving as an Amplifier Artifact for every other power means that whoever uses it can easily beat any enemy in the game, but after its user performs a Finishing Move, it ejects violently from their belt and flies away, requiring them to collect it again in a later round.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the early module Castle Amber, the party has to acquire "The Enchanted Sword of Sylaire" as part of a set of items in order to escape the realm of Averoigne where they've been trapped. Said sword is a sword +3,+5 vs undead and automatically (no save) slays any undead enemy on a roll of 18 or better on the d20 attack die with additional powers which puts it on the level of a minor artifact. The adventure is designed for levels 3-6 who will typically be packing +1 or at best +2 weapons with no special bonuses at that point. Unfortunately the ritual to escape has the side effect of shattering all the components including the sword into thousands of shards...
    • In older editions, Drow equipment is enchanted using a special magical energy ("faerzress") that exists only in the Underdark. This stuff tends to give bonuses at least half again as good as a normal enchanted item of equivalent gp value... with the minor side effect that it will turn to dust the first time sunlight touches it. Hence it is this in spades for surface-based adventurers. Baldur's Gate II features such equipment in the third act.
    • In the 4th edition, this is true with all artifacts. Whenever a mortal uses one, it is always a temporary arrangement. If the mortal fails to fulfill the artifact's purpose, it will leave to find a user who can. If the mortal succeeds, it will leave to continue its mission. (Possibly granting some boon or inflicting some punishment to the mortal, depending on its nature.)
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • There are a number of powerful creatures who can be summoned initially for relatively low mana, but require some form of cumulative upkeep in order to keep them in play. A prominent example is Aboroth, a 9/9 creature for six mana but who gets a -1/-1 counter per turn AND requires you to pay an upkeep cost for each counter. Essentially, you pay more as it gets weaker.
    • Age Counters are another method of accomplishing this. Many creatures and artifacts can be summoned for less initial mana relative to their power, but have an age counter added each turn. You must pay upkeep equal to the amount of age counters on it (usually in mana, but sometimes in life) or else sacrifice it. Eventually, no matter how powerful the card, the upkeep cost no longer becomes worthwhile.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • You obtain the Black Sword/Deathbringer for Cecil just after Fabul in Final Fantasy IV. This sword has a chance to cause Instant Death on any of the normal enemies you encounter, until he changes class into a paladin. Then, it's gone forever if it was equipped to Cecil at the time, and even if you knew this was coming and de-equipped it, none of your characters can use it any more.
    • In the first of The Final Fantasy Legend's four worlds, you pick up a powerful sword that has ~50% chance of outright slaying any enemy with a weakness, a piece of armor that resists every element and has 2.5 times the power of the world's second best armor, and a shield that blocks every single attack when used. Naturally, you have to part with them to advance, and you don't find comparable equipment until at least the third world.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith's Great Gospel is a pain to get since the process involves massive amounts of backtracking, finding a random guy living in a cave whose existence isn't hinted anywhere and who you need to talk to after running away from a specific number of battles, but it's probably the best defensive/healing Limit Break in the game (restores everyone to full HP and MP, revives them if they're dead, cures all their status aliments and makes them temporarily invincible), and certainly can be obtained much sooner than the other Level 4 Limit Breaks. Her Princess Guard staff is also pretty sweet, being essentially an endgame level weapon obtained less than halfway through the game. And then she dies.
    • A variation in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The Crimson Blitz was shown during the opening cinematic, but was then broken by Lumina. What you get is a broken sword that's your starting gear. However, doing an optional sidequest in the last dungeon will award you the Ultima Weapon, which is the sword brought back to its full strength. The trope comes when the player goes for New Game Plus: They can carry every weapon from the first playthrough except the Ultima Weapon, and they have to do the final quest again to reobtain it if they so wish tonote .
    • Another variation shows up in Final Fantasy XIV's Shadowbringers side-story Sorrows of Werlyt. The Sorrows being a tribute to Super Robot Genre, you of course eventually get your very own Gundam... that is, G-Warrior. You only get to keep it for two solo duties, however, before it's damaged too badly to repair in time for the final fight (though its back does serve as your arena in the Trial).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind:
      • During the Tribunal Temple faction questline, a series of quests involves you retrieving some of the Temple's holy relics which have been lost. Most of these relics take the form of enchanted weapons and clothing, some of which are quite useful. (Especially the pre-patch Robe of St. Roris, which basically gives you a Game Breaking constant effect Healing Factor. A patch would Nerf it, however.) However, in order to complete the quest and advance in the questline, you need to turn these relics into your quest giver, preventing you from being able to use them.
      • Near the end of the main quest of the Tribunal expansion, you find yourself fighting through (supposed Big Bad) Sotha Sil's Clockwork City. It is populated by his semi-organic Mecha-Mooks, the Fabricants. Each variety, the Verminous and Hulking, drop "elixers" which share their names. Verminous Fabricants are a dime-a-dozen, and even spawn infinitely at one point if you intentionally keep screwing up a puzzle. They drop Verminous Elixers, which temporarily fortify your Speed. Not bad, but not especially useful. Hulking Fabricants, however, are much less common. Hulking Elixers temporarily fortify your Strength, which is considerably more useful. However, in the Clockwork City's Dome of Udok, you'll encounter a "rusted lever" which requires 100 Strength in order to move, allowing you to advance. If you haven't been building up your Strength attribute (a common issue for Mage-type characters especially), you'll need to use virtually all of your Hulking Fabricant Elixers to surpass that total. (Worse still, if you haven't been picking them up, you can end up stuck in the Dome of Udok.)
    • Oblivion:
      • During the tutorial quest, you can loot not one but two Akaviri Katanas from fallen allies, and they're about 50% stronger than the second best sword you can get at that point. Unfortunately, they get removed from your inventory near the end of the quest. (Even if you drop them on the ground, they still get removed from the game.)
      • During the Thieves' Guild questline, you acquire the Boots of Spring-Heeled Jack, which increase your Acrobatics skill by a whopping 50 points. However, in the very next quest in the questline, you need to lose the boots in order to advance (though there are some workarounds which will allow you to keep them).
      • The Clavicus Vile daedric quest requires you to retrieve Umbra, potentially the best sword in the entire game. Then they ask you to sacrifice it to get an enchanted mask that improves peoples' disposition to you - useful, but definitely a downgrade from the sword. At least the game gives you an option to tell Clavicus to sod it and keep the sword for yourself.
    • Skyrim:
      • Clavicus Vile asks you to retrieve a powerful axe and you are again forced to choose between said axe and his fancy mask. Subverted though since this time the axe isn't really that great (its damage is average, and it's a two-handed weapon so it's rather pointless to anyone not going with two-handed combat.)
      • The Thieves' Guild gives you the Skeleton Key, an unbreakable lockpick, upon beating the final boss of the questline. The very next quest has you get rid of it in exchange for one of three mediocre in comparison rewards, though you at least aren't forced to do this right away.
  • God of War II: during the attack on Rhodes, Zeus offers Kratos the Blade of Olympus, the literal Infinity +1 Sword of the Greek era games. Unsurprisingly, Kratos makes a quick work of the Colossus of Rhodes with it, but Zeus personally kills him immediately after this battle and takes back the sword. From there on, the sword remains unavailable throughout the game until the Final Battle and the (non-canon) Bonus Game. This is also referenced in-game by Gaia, who tells Kratos that "Zeus, Olympus, and the blade which holds all [his] power will forever more be out of reach".
  • You get a mighty bazooka for the first battle of Secret of Evermore which does around 200 or so damage per hit. Afterwards, you lose it and you're stuck using a bone and doing a mere 20 damage. Then about 3/4 of the way through the game, you get it another identical bazooka... and only one shell with no way to buy more. You finally get the ability to buy shells at the very last "town" area before the Final Boss though, quite awesomely, due to a bug, the other two kinds of shells never deplete...
  • In Sword of Vermilion, you find the stolen spellbook Sanguios, which heals you to full HP and costs only 2 MP. For reference, the only other healing spell available at that point, Sangua, heals 60 HP and costs 6 MP. Then you learn that the spellbook was stolen from a king. It does allow you a great opportunity to grind your level for a while, however. No one said you had to return the book in a hurry.
  • StarCraft II's single player campaign is packed with these. Giant drilling laser you can turn against your enemies? Nigh-unstoppable super robot? Gone after that mission is over.
  • In Warcraft III's campaign, this happens many times:
    • Arthas gains Frostmourne, a sword that deals devastating Chaos damage for the last mission of the human campaign. He never has this ability again, in the later campaigns or the Expansion Pack, even though it is an important plot point that he is still using the exact same sword.
    • During one mission in the orc campaign, your regular Orcs become the much more powerful Chaos Orcs (Grom Hellscream included) who also deal Chaos damage (neccesary to beat a boss immune to every other kind of damage). Not only you never get to control Chaos Orcs again, but you have to fight against them later
    • During the only mission you get Illidan, he'll get a permanent Demon Form which is DEVASTATING (regular demon form only last 60 seconds). Like the Orc campaign, chaos damage is needed to defeat a boss as well.
    • Apart from the campaign, several summons (and summoning items) exist, with a duration of anywhere from thirty seconds to three minutes.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Yet another Blizzard example are the weapons in the raid "Tempest Keep: The Eye", which has four weapons and shields which are way better than anything available at that level, but are not able to be used outside of that raid as they will disintegrate.
    • To a lesser extent, this also applies to all Legendary-quality equipment obtained in the game. They not only have higher stats than other gear, but they also generally have special powers attached to them, as well. Their usefulness only lasts as long as the expansion in which they were received, however.
      • A notible exception to this was the very first legendary, Thunderfury. Its AoE lightning proc proved to be so useful for tankingnote  that many Warriors kept using their Thunderfury at level 70 despite its otherwise much lower stats. Blizzard had to finally nerf its proc (along with many other classic items) to be ineffective against targets above level 60 before players finally retired it - a practice they have since maintained for all expansion items.
  • City of Heroes hands out quite a few Temporary Powers in its various arcs, all either limited in duration or in number of uses. How awesome they are varies widely according to the character that gets them, but some, like the powers that do "Special" type damage to particular enemies, are VERY useful as long as you're in the correct level range. A shining example is the Divining Rod, which does a truly absurd amount of damage to Ghosts, yet comes with only 20 charges and gets taken away after a single mission.
  • Dark Cloud: You get a sword that doesn't take damage until you fight a mini-boss, and has higher base stats than most other weapons you can find. However, it is a subversion, as you cannot upgrade it until said mini-boss is vanquished.
  • Tales of Vesperia gives us the mighty Dein Nomos, which allows Yuri to learn the Guardian Field Arte, as well as his Mystic Arte, and grants an excellent bonus to all stats except HP and TP. Duke takes it back not long after you borrow it.
  • If you sniff around the ruins of your Doomed Hometown in Tales of Phantasia you'll find the Knight's Sabre, a decent weapon for the time with a solid 15 attack that's fire-elemental to boot. As soon as you get captured though, it's confiscated before you're dropped in prison and you don't get it back. The Playstation remake averted this, giving it back to you during the escape.
  • In the first major dungeon in Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, it is possible to acquire a weapon that adds somewhere around +40 to your attack stat (for comparison's sake, most of the other weapons you have access to at that point in the game are in the range of +7 to +15 or so). At the end of the dungeon, you must give it to the reclusive oracle who makes his home there if you want to advance the plot. Much later in the game, you can find the same weapon available for sale in a blacksmith's shop for the ridiculous sum of 3,000 Crowns (about ten times more than what any other weapon in that area costs, and more than you're likely to have on hand at the time). By then, however, you will have picked up considerably stronger weapons along the way—plus, if you do buy it from him, he won't buy it back!
  • RuneScape: At the end of "While Guthix Sleeps", you get to use the Stone of Jas to boost all your stats to insane levels during a fight scene, but Lucien steals the Stone and the boost wears off as soon as the fight ends.
  • In Cobra Mission, you start out with a 44 Magnum with seemingly unlimited ammo. Unfortunately, it turns out that the ammo is only unlimited until you finish the numerous mooks attacking you in the first battle. After that fight, you run out of bullets and don't find any more that fit that gun until more than halfway through the game (and even then in limited supply), forcing you to find and use other weapons for most battles.
  • In Rayman 2: The Great Escape, Rayman at one point gains the ability to fly (rather than just glide down) with his Helicopter Hair, but he loses it again just before that level's Boss Fight.
  • In Lufia & The Fortress of Doom, you obtain the Dual Blade remarkably early in the game, and it outclasses every other weapon up to that point...but it ends up being stolen by Lufia and destroyed by the Sinistrals. Thankfully, it's restored right before you fight the Sinistrals.
  • Star Ocean:
    • In Star Ocean, you are tasked to rid a castle armory of a monster infestation. You can borrow the powerful weapons and armor in there, but have to give them back (one of your characters mentions her disappointment at not being able to keep them) once you leave. Item Crafting features heavily in the game, though, and the two swords you get there can be crafted into something even more powerful. If you do upgrade them while you have them, you don't have to return them; otherwise, they are Permanently Missable. This is, in fact, the only way to get the game's true Infinity +1 Sword — the other "best" sword that you can craft later actually heals the final boss because he absorbs at least one of the elements it uses.
    • In Star Ocean: The Second Story, protagonist Claude starts out with a powerful energy pistol that gives him access to a special attack that can casually one-shot pretty much every enemy you encounter at the start of the game. Come the first actual plot dungeon and it runs out of power, never to be recharged, mentioned or used again.
  • The "Saints Flow" energy drink in Saints Row: The Third embodies this trope. It basically turns you into Superman, but it's only available in a single DLC mission. Once you finish the mission and it's worn off, that's it.
  • The Ingram, Colt Commando and to a lesser extent the Jackhammer from the first Max Payne; not quite as extreme as some of these examples, but there's a significant interval between picking them up for the first time and your next opportunity to scrounge more ammunition for them from fallen enemies; the Jackhammer in particular has virtually none to be found lying around, though you have to be spamming it pretty hard to run out of it completely. Reloads for the M79 and Sniper Rifle are similarly rare, but they're situational enough that they don't really come under this trope.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! video game Yu-Gi-Oh: World Championship 2011: Over the Nexus, you get three really powerful cards during the Final Battle of the main storyline by a divine force: "Ally of Justice Decisive Armor", "Trident Dragion" and "Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier". The third of this is strong enough to have spent time on the banlist. But after you win the duel, you lose them. (You can make them permanent additions to your collection, however, by unlocking the appropriate packs in game store, but that is not possible until after the main storyline is completed.)
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has the Giant's Knife. It's laughably flimsy, although you do get the better, unbreakable version in the form of the Biggoron's Sword.
    • Majora's Mask has the Razor Sword, which breaks in exactly 100 swings, but has double the power of your standard sword. Even if you don't break it, you'll lose it when you go back in time. There's a complicated sidequest to upgrade it further into the Gilded Sword, which is even stronger, and permanent.
    • Twilight Princess has the Light Sword, a super-powered Master Sword that can One-Hit KO all Shadow Beasts, and do tremendous damage to Zant. However, it can only be used in the Twilight Realm. Justified, as the power that the Master Sword acquires comes from the Sol, which are used as the Twilight Realm's equivalent to the Sun, and are necessary to keep the realm functional. After restoring the Sol and overthrowing Zant, Link and Midna return to the Light World to face Ganondorf, where the Master Sword loses the power of the Sol and returns to its prior state.
  • Half-Life 2: The Dark Energy Gravity Gun. Easily the most useful weapon in the entire game, but you only get it while in the Citadel.
  • Borderlands 2: A number of missions have weapons that you receive only for the duration of the mission, and you lose them when you turn the mission in. Most of the time said weapons are at least as good, if not better, than whatever you'd usually have at that point in the game. Unfortunately, the only way to hang on to them is to never complete the mission, which prevents you from getting the reward or any further missions from that quest giver. A particularly well-known example is the Grog Nozzle from the Tiny Tina DLC: it heals you in proportion to the damage it does. Needless to say, a lot of players simply don't complete the mission in order to hang onto it.
  • Django starts Boktai 2 with the overpowered Gun Del Sol he had in the first game. It annihilates anything it touches in one shot but very promptly gets swiped and beaten to hell by a vampire. By the time you get it back it is still overpowered but with such terrible MP consumption it's only good for about three shots before it's empty.
  • Burnout 3: Takedown had "preview" races where the player and the competition have much faster cars than they would normally have at that point of the game.
  • Well worth mentioning playable characters example. In the beginning of Tales of the Abyss, right upon defeating the Cheagle Woods boss, Jade Curtiss joins the party, being level 40 at the time (with your party less than 10), having most of his high-level spells totally usable and wiping enemies off without a glimpse. But only until you try to exit said woods, when he has your party arrested and taken aboard the Tartarus. By the time he rejoins he is no higher a level than your current party and, sadly, has his skills taken away, due to being sealed. Which doesn't make him less badass though.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online has at least two quests in which one goal is to retrieve an impressive weapon. Once recovered, you can use it during the quest; but after exiting, the first thing you do is return it to its rightful owner.
  • The final level of Dogyuun has you pilot a Humongous Mecha that's completely damn invincible and can punch through most enemy mecha like nothing. However, don't expect to destroy the final boss with it- it disappears right before the fight.
  • In TaskMaker and The Tomb of the TaskMaker, magic wands are this. They deal massive damage to any enemy they are aimed at, whether used directly from the inventory or wielded as any other weapon. However, they will only last for one to four hits before they disappear.
  • In Fossil Fighters, at one point you get an invincible fire dinosaur. It has maxed-out stats against normal enemies, but it becomes much weaker in the boss fight against an opposing ice dinosaur. After winning that boss battle, both dinosaurs fade away. You can, however, cruise through the rest of the available game world as long as you avoid that one battle.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine: Several missions give you an infinite-fuel jetpack, unfortunately it runs out and falls off when the mission ends.
  • In MechWarrior 2 Mercenaries, one of the early missions gives you a Stalker battlemech to pilot. The Stalker is 85 tons and has more tonnage devoted to firepower than the total mass of most of the mechs you'll have available by then. You can purchase or salvage a Stalker later in the game, but by then you'll be facing much more powerful enemies so it's no longer an unstoppable monster.
  • In the story mode of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Dante has a duel against Jedah Dohma and Dante has an unlimited time on his Devil Trigger which gives him triple jump, regenerating health, more power, and flight. It's gone after this fight is over.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the entire playerbase passes around three unique glowing hats every day — The Gifting Man from Gifting Land, the Philateler, and the Dueler, each of which are given to the person who, the previous day, gave the most in-game gifts, supported map creators by buying the most Map Stamps, or won the most duels, respectively. Gifts, Stamps, and Duels are all bought with Microtransactions, but the hats are cool enough (and ostentatious enough) that they might be worth the cost... at least until you lose yours the next day.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II has Rean finally mastering his ogre power and get it under control and the players have unlimited access to it for two fights. After these fights are done however, he loses the unlimited turns part but still is able to use the power for three turns at the cost of 100 CP. Cold Steel III gives more opportunities to players to have the unlimited turns version of his Super Mode but after those opportunities are done, it's back to three turns before he reverts back to his base form.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has "Dark Blast", a Super Mode that allows players to transform into a Dark Falz. While in this state, players can inflict damage in the tens of thousands of HP per hit, in addition to enhanced abilities and mobility. The trade-off is that you can only maintain Dark Blast for sixty seconds, and you can only use it once per quest.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 has the Goomba's Shoe, an item that allows Mario to jump on enemies that would normally harm him, like Spinies, and safely move around on Munchers. However, the shoe can only be found in one level, and will disappear once Mario reaches the goal. Averted in Super Mario Maker, where the Goomba's Shoe (along with several new variants of it) can be placed in any level that uses the Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario Bros. 3 style.
  • SYNTHETIK has Self-Destructing Weapon Terminals that allow you to test a new weapon prototype, which just so happens to be a random legendary quality weapon with the "Timed" modifier that increases its stats but forces the player to automatically drop the weapon as it self-destructs shortly afterwards. There is a 2% (times luck) chances for it to spawn as a permanent "Timeless" variant with different stats.
  • In the early game of Shin Megami Tensei I, you can fuse your dog to a demon and create Kerberos, who is immensely powerful and roughly fourty levels above you, even though this would make him impossible to control. (Justified in that he's still your dog and thus loyal.) After a few random battles and one boss battle, he disappears and doesn't show up again until much later, when his power isn't so overwhelming anymore. Also, the Chaos Hero fuses himself with one of your demons for a power boost and sprite change. One boss battle later, he's gone too, since he finally has the power he craves, and weaklings like you would only hold him back.
  • Kerberos returns in Shin Megami Tensei II, when Madame lends him to you for a mission, and is again an overleveled power house compared to the hero. He's only obeying you out of loyalty to Madam. He also rejoins you later on.
  • In Thunder Force V, when you reach Stage 5 you gain access to the Brigandine module, an attachment to a new ship you also get at the same time, the Vambrace. The Brigandine has infinite-use superweapons that can easily shred any non-boss enemy. However, it also has a Life Meter, and once it runs out or you proceed to the next stage, it's gone and you have to go on in just the Vambrace.
  • Titanfall 2:
    • The Time Gauntlet you get in the mission "Effect and Cause". With it you can jump back and forth through time. By the end of the mission, however, the device gets fried and Cooper discards it.
    • In the campaign's final stage during your escape with BT's SERE core, you get to use the Smart Pistol, which basically give you aimhacking and lets you kill anything in your way with just 1-2 shots by pointing your gun in their general direction. The whole sequence lasts less than 10 minutes.