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Bad Luck Mitigation Mechanic

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"The game feels really sad for you.... The game's like, 'Okay, you've done enough. You've suffered enough. You'll get it in the next one, for sure.'"
ZealsAmbitions, speaking of Genshin Impact's pity system

Gods are capricious, and none more so than the Random Number God. This stubborn deity is at the core of a Scrappy Mechanic: when the Random Number Generator just outright refuses to produce the numbers you actually need. This can manifest in a variety of ways; one of the more common ones is the Rare Random Drop that simply won't, well, drop. This can be particularly obnoxious for games with Loot Boxes, where even shelling out cold, hard cash does not guarantee that you'll get something good. It's downright rage-inducing if the drop is required to accomplish your objective, or if it's optional but you aren't skilled enough to proceed without it.

Game developers who sympathize with players' frustration with a merciless Random Number God may include a mechanic which eventually guarantees (or at least increases the odds of) a certain result with enough persistence. For example, say that killing particular Mooks has a 5% chance of dropping a rare item. On average, you could expect the item to drop once with every 20 kills. However, there's no guarantee that it will drop, no matter how many mooks you kill. It's entirely possible to go quite a long time without it dropping at all. To combat this, a mechanic could be put in place so that if you kill a certain number of mooks without the rare item dropping, it will guarantee the drop for the next one.

Subtrope of Anti-Frustration Features. Random Drops and loot boxes in role-playing games are the most straightforward applications of this, but any instance in which the developers override the RNG in the player's favor as a reward for persistence counts; otherwise, it's not this trope. If a game unlocks a new, easier game mode in response to repeated player failure, that's Mercy Mode. If the game has a mechanic that allows you to directly influence the RNG at will rather than in response to it being stingy, that's Luck Manipulation Mechanic. If a game has a mechanic that helps players catch up after falling behind, that's Comeback Mechanic. Compare Do Well, But Not Perfect, where a player deliberately performs at less than their best to get a desired outcome. Also see Literal Wild Card, which statistically makes it more likely to get the resource you need. This trope is an aversion of the Gambler's Fallacy: the odds really do get better if you keep playing.


Gacha Games

  • This is a near-universal mechanic in the gacha games genre, to the point where it is referred to as a "pity timer" by players. The system is essentially a win-win for both players and developers; players are guaranteed to get what they want eventually, while for the developers, it causes Sunk Cost Fallacy to kick in after a certain point, greatly increasing the chances that players will spend money to get things. Variations exist, but they generally boil down to three distinct forms.
    • "Sparking", named after Cerulean Sparks in Granblue Fantasy. Each time you pull on a banner, you obtain some quantity of a special currency. When you have enough of this currency, you can trade it in at the shop for any unit/weapon of your choice (some restrictions apply). The ability to carry this over from banner to banner varies by game, and some games let you do alternative things with the currency rather than hoard it until you can buy units.
    • Guaranteed after X pulls. Rather than giving you a currency, you are explicitly guaranteed to get something good (be it the featured unit or something else high-rarity) after pulling a certain number of times. Most games with this feature do not let you carry the guarantee or any progress made towards it over between banners, but there are exceptions.
    • Rolling gacha, a comparatively rarer version. In this system, the chance to see something good rises each time you pull, then once you hit the jackpot, the rates reset and start over. This system is generally combined with one of the above two in games where it exists.
    • In addition to the above, a vast majority of games have a "bulk pull guarantee" where pulling multiple units at the same time (typically batches of 10) will guarantee at least one pull being of a minimum rarity.
    • Additionally, fairly often a maximum cost is set such that if you haven't got anything good after spending a certain amount of money on a given banner, the game will stop you from pulling on the banner, and just give you a voucher you can use to get anything you want out of the banner you were pulling on.
  • Cookie Run: Kingdom:
    • The standard cookie gacha guarantees two cookies every 10 draws — one Epic, one-or-less.
    • The featured cookie gacha guarantees one cookie (10% Epic, 90% Rare) every 10 draws, and one Epic cookie every 100 draws.
    • The Disney event gacha guarantees a cookie every 20 draws.
  • D4DJ Groovy Mix:
    • Event banners award a 3-star card as a bonus at 30 pulls, and the rate for 3-star cards will increase. At 100 pulls, you're guaranteed to get a 4-star card or 4-star SP card. At 300 pulls, the "Select" feature activates and you can claim any of the 4-star cards featured on the banner.
    • For character birthday banners, the threshold for a Select is 100 pulls.
    • For Navigation banners, 100 pulls will guarantee a 4*, SP, or Navigation card. The threshold for a Select is 150.
  • Disgaea RPG features two:
    • First, every five 10-rolls on a specific banner will increase the pull rate of a 4-star unit featured on said banner. This will increase with every 5 10-rolls thereafter, until the 20th pull guarantees a banner unit. For banners using paid summon currency, this is shortened to every 3 10-rolls, with a guarantee on the 12th.
    • Second, every 10-roll on that banner gives 10 tickets, which can be exchanged for either character crystals (for Nether Enhancement) or to guarantee obtaining a character in question (usually requiring 200 tickets, which is about 20 10-rolls). Leftover tickets will be converted into Prinny Coins, used at a separate shop for other goods.
  • Disney Mirrorverse gives you colored Stardust for every duplicate summon as well as shards for that summon; the shards rank up the character that was summoned, while the Stardust is this trope, allowing you to buy characters from the Stardust shop. (1000 for a 3-star, 4600 for a 4-star, and 5600 red Stardust for a 4-star Minnie Mouse which cannot be acquired in any other way.) The number of Stardust bits you get is equal to the number of shards from a dupe summon.
  • Dragalia Lost:
    • For every ten summons without a 5-star in a showcase, the chances of one appearing increases by one percent. If a 5-star doesn't appear by 100 summons in the showcase, the hundredth is guaranteed a 5-star.
    • Starting from the version 2.0 update, every time a summon is performed, one Wyrmsigil is awarded (or two if the summon was performed using Diamantium, which can only be bought with real money). You can trade 300 Wyrmsigils from the same summon showcase for one of the highlighted characters or dragons.
  • Fire Emblem Heroes being a gacha game, has some pity systems built into the summoning:
    • For every five heroes where a 5-star hero is not summoned, the chances of summoning one increases by 0.5%.
    • Some summoning events let players summon a featured unit of their choice after forty summons.
  • Goddess of Victory: NIKKE:
    • The Coupon system is a pretty typical pity, albeit split between two types: Silver Coupons and Gold Coupons. Silver Coupons are gained for every pull on the Standard Recruit Banner (permanent) and 200 can be traded for a Spare Body of a character in the shop. The selection of Spare Bodies in the shop changes daily and excludes certain characters; in addition, Spare Bodies don't do anything if you don't already own that character. Gold Coupons, on the other hand, are earned from pulling on Limited Recruit Banners and 200 Gold Coupons can be traded for the character on that banner. Gold Coupons don't expire as well, allowing you to retain them for future character releases.
    • The Standard Recruit Banner specifically has a Wishlist system. You can pick 15 characters (5 from each non-Pilgrim manufacturer) and if you pull an SSR from the Standard Recruit Banner, the odds of it being a character on your Wishlist will be drastically increased.
  • Granblue Fantasy gives players a Cerulean Spark for each summon they perform. Once 300 are accumulated, they're traded in for one specific weapon or summon.
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft: The developers have stated that on average they expect a player to receive one legendary card for every 20 card packs they open. However, a mechanic exists where every pack opened without a legendary card increases the odds of the next pack of the same type having one, and if the player opens 39 packs without finding a legendary, the 40th will be guaranteed to contain one. Additionally, when a new expansion is released, there is a guaranteed legendary somewhere in the first 10 packs the player opens.
  • miHoYo:
    • Honkai Impact 3rd: Banners have a guaranteed pull of a featured Valkyrie or equipment after certain number of pulls. On average, the ones featuring Valkyries is 100 pulls. As a bonus, the numbers for the Valkyries carry over to the next banner with no resets.
    • In Genshin Impact, Honkai: Star Rail, and Zenless Zone Zero, there are three intertwined pity mechanics for pulling characters, referred to by fans as "soft pity", "hard pity", and "50/50".
      • "Soft pity" is the rolling gacha mechanic. The base rate for a 5* starts a 0.6% but increases gradually for every given number of pulls in which you do not get a 5*, up to the 89th pull. In addition, the rate at which the 5* rates increase spikes considerably past the 70th pull, encouraging players to swap to single pulls to ensure they do not immediately run into hard pity.
      • "Hard pity" kicks in on the 90th pull on a limited banner in which you have not received a 5*, in which case you are guaranteed to get a 5*. As an aside, every 10th pull on a banner is guaranteed to be 4* rarity at minimum, be it a weapon or character.
      • "50/50" is a unique mechanic where in the event that you draw a 5* on a limited banner, there is an exactly 50% chance that the character/weapon you get will be the featured character/weapon, and an equal 50% chance that the character/weapon will be from the permanent pool. In the event that you lose the coin flip and do not get the limited character/weapon, the next 5* you pull on a limited banner is guaranteed to be the target character/weapon, at which point the guarantee resets. Notably, this effect does not reset across banners, causing players to treat both hard pity and 50/50 as a "resource" by saving up for a future character/weapon that they want in the event that they lose the coin flip on a different banner. In Honkai: Star Rail, the limited Light Cone banner instead has 75/25 odds, where you have a 75% chance to get the target Light Cone.
    • Genshin has a different mechanic for its weapon banner, where players can select a desired five-star weapon with Epitomized Path. When a player pulls a five-star weapon that isn't the one they want, they receive a "Fate Point." Receiving enough Fate Points guarantees their desired weapon on the next five-star pull.
  • Princess Connect! Re:Dive gives one Character Exchange Point each time you pull from the gacha. When you get 300 points, you can trade them in for one of the featured characters.
  • Project SEKAI notably uses multiple versions of pity at the same time.
    • The standard "sparking" version is Gacha Seals, which you get 1 of each time you pull. 300 Gacha Seals from a single banner can be exchanged for any featured card from that banner. Alternatively, you can buy Gacha Tickets instead, which allows you to "save" the pity (to an extent). Gacha Tickets are generic (unlike Gacha Seals) and up to 10 Gacha Tickets can be used toward the purchase of any card from the Gacha Seal shop, allowing you to bring down the cost of pity to just 200 pulls on a single banner.
    • Gacha Bonus is an alternative to pity that rewards paying players better. Each time you pull on a banner, you get Gacha Bonus points toward that banner; every Free Crystal pull rewards 0.5 points, while every Paid Crystal pull rewards 1 point. You can redeem points for guaranteed 4* cards on your next pull; 50 Gacha Bonus Points can be traded to guarantee a random 4*, while 100 Gacha Bonus Points can be exchanged for any 4* of your choice from that banner.
    • The Gacha Ticket Shop is an alternative method for using Gacha Tickets and rewards non-paying players better. Gacha Tickets can be exchanged directly for any card in the game at certain rates besides Colorful Festival and Birthday Cards; 20 Gacha Tickets for a 3*, and 30 Gacha Tickets for a 4*. The catch is that the shop updates rather slowly; new cards are only added in 6 months after their initial debut, while new Limited Cards must wait 1 year to be added.
  • Shadowverse implements a pack point system, which permits you to collect one legendary card from that pack after opening 400 of that pack. The selection also includes special versions of legendary cards that come with leader skins when you unlock them, and these cards are normally incredibly rare.
  • Skullgirls: The mobile version has a mechanic known as 'relic shards' which drop every time you open any fighter relic (save for the ones that give you a diamond fighter); opening bronze characters give you silver shards, opening silver characters gives you gold shards, and opening gold characters give you diamond shards. Whenever you have 1000 of any of these shards, you get a free relic that GUARATEES a fighter of the rarity that corresponds to the relic shard. In other words, even if you have the worst luck in the world you'll get a rare fighter card EVENTUALLY if you keep opening relics.
  • Tower of Fantasy uses similar kinds of pity and sparking systems with its Special Orders. Unlike most other pity models, your pity progress is not reset if you get a SSR by sheer luck, making for an easier time managing pity timers when they are preserved between limited banners.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel:
    • You are guaranteed at least one Rare card or higher in each booster pack. When pulling 10 booster packs, the final card of the 10th pack is guaranteed to be Super Rare or higher.
    • If you pull 10 booster packs and don't get any Ultra Rare cards, you are guaranteed at least one Ultra Rare on your next 10-pull from that same banner.

Other Games

  • City of Heroes: The "Streak Breaker" mechanic forces an attack to be a hit after a long enough streak of misses. The higher your hit chance, the shorter the allowed streak of misses.
    • A note though is that this mechanic is universal. Not only will you be guaranteed to hit a target eventually, an enemy is also guaranteed to hit you at some point. As well the inverse is applicable. Eventually you will miss at some point and an enemy will miss an attack on you if you constantly get hit. There is no 100% rate in the game.
  • Civilization V (and possibly other games in the series) will change the stated odds of victory to work more like how human expect probability to work. For instance, if you lose two battles with a stated 33% chance of victory, and then initiate a third, the game will ensure you win that one.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has several in this category:
    • The first is mount farming totems. In the incredibly unlucky chance where not only the mount drop has avoided you and/or you have not managed to win the loot bidding process that entails afterwards, every raid fight with a mount drop also drops a single totem; 100 of which can then be traded for the mount straight away to certain NPCs. Related to this are certain contents (such as Save the Queen content) where treasures are individualized and thus skips the loot bidding phase (any loot RNG is still in full force, however).
    • After Shadowbringers' Patch 5.3, all dungeons that are not within capstone levels of 50, 60, 70, etc., will now have a guaranteed drop system corresponding to the Job you entered the dungeon with. To sweeten the deal, the system will also not drop duplicates, meaning that if you are gunning for a specific type of item, keeping every single one belonging to your Role/Job will make it such that eventually, you will get what you want. Moreover, this is in addition to standard loot drops from dungeon treasure chests. Furthermore in the same patch, Paladin weapons, which includes a Main Hand and an Off Hand and previously drops separately, are now dropped simultaneously in the form of a openable gear coffer containing both. However, capstone dungeons have no such system.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Since the stat points gained on levelling up are random, most games have some mechanism to prevent your entire army repeatedly getting levels with no increases at all. The GBA games (Binding Blade, Blazing Blade, Sacred Stones) will re-roll empty levels twice. Path of Radiance has no actual luck control, but has noticeably higher growths overall than previous games. Radiant Dawn has no guarantee on organic level-ups, but levels gained with Bonus Experience will always boost exactly three stats. Awakening and Fates both re-roll empty levels until at least one stat is gained, unless most stats are capped. Three Houses flat-out guarantees at least two stats per level for Byleth and all students (including Ashen Wolves and Cyril). Fire Emblem Heroes avoids this completely: every unit has fixed stats at level 1 and 40, so no matter what happens in-between, everything evens out in the end.
    • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Fire Emblem: Three Houses have an additional buffer built into their promotion systems. Every class has certain minimum base stats, so as a unit promotes, they'll get caught up in any area they've been completely stat-screwed in.
  • Going Under: The "Bloodsucker" skill initially has a 5% chance to heal Jackie for every kill after the first 10 after a heal, but automatically triggers if it's been 35 kills after a heal.
  • League of Legends's Critical Hits on attacks (or, as it specifically calls it, critical strikes) occur based on the chance of it occurring but pseudorandomly so that failing to critical strike dynamically improves the chance of the next attack being a critical strike (and inversely, landing critical strikes reduces the chance of them happening for the next attack).
  • Monster Hunter: World has no luck control for drops as they happen (which is common to the series, leading to fandom jokes about a desire sensor messing with the player). However, World has the melding pot, which can be used to create a number of Rare Random Drops directly. The resources needed for this are rare but drop with much more certainty than the items themselves, making unsuccessful hunts still give meaningful progress.
  • Monster Sanctuary: The Tanuki is a rare Piñata Enemy that has a low chance of appearing in monster encounters anywhere in the game and increases the gold earned from the fight by 300%. If the player has not seen one for the past 49 encounters, it becomes guaranteed to appear in the 50th.
  • Overwatch: The loot boxes that offer random cosmetic rewards are guaranteed to provide one Legendary item for every 13 boxes or so. Additionally, during holiday events a second box cycle is added on top of the first, guaranteeing an event-exclusive Legendary, meaning a player will likely get two Legendaries within 13 boxes during special events.
  • Pokémon: The Shield Dust ability nullifies the secondary effects of incoming attacks that have only a chance of applying, while the Shell/Battle Armor abilities nullify incoming critical hits. Given that some of these effects have the potential to flip a battle on its head at random, preventing them is much appreciated.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: Animals randomly spawn in different "qualities" from one-star ("poor") to three-star ("perfect"). Perfect hides are naturally worth the most and are also the only ones that can be used in crafting. To make matters worse, certain animals like the panther and moose only spawn in a select few areas, are rare spawns at that, and even if they do spawn, may not be "perfect" quality. Enter the Buck Antler Trinket, acquired after hunting the Legendary Deer and crafted at a fence, which automatically allows some two-star animal pelts to upgrade to three-star "perfect" pelts upon skinning the animal. It's still not a guarantee, but the odds increase enough that most players swear by it, making sure to pick it up before seriously engaging in pelt hunting.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: At one point you're required to win three coin tosses in a row to obtain a plot-required item. The third attempt is rigged so you always win all three tosses.
  • Tetris:
    • Tetris: The Grand Master keeps track of the last 4 pieces dealt. Every time a new piece is drawn, if it is any of those last four pieces, the game will reroll until either a piece not in the 4-piece history is drawn or 4 attempts have been made. In Tetris: The Absolute - The Grand Master 2 onwards, it will try 6 times instead of 4.
    • Newer revisions are tweaked so it randomly picks one piece from the set and drops them, and only "resets" once one of each piece has fallen. It's still possible to get two in a row if the same piece was at the end of one set and the start of another, but now it's impossible to get three of the same piece in a row or get long "droughts" without a line piece.
  • Warframe:
    • Void Relics can be unlocked by playing special missions and contain parts that can be used to build powerful Prime weapons and Warframes. Each Relic has multiple items it can contain, with three tiers of rarity, so the odds of getting the specific item you need is rather low. However, at the end of the mission, you can choose to forgo what your Relic contained and instead receive a copy of what another player got from theirs, meaning that if multiple players choose the same Relic you did, your odds of getting what you want are multiplied (leading to the practice known as "radsharing", in which four players form a party and all run the same Relic, upgraded to its Radiant form in order to maximize the odds of getting the rarest and most valuable reward). And if you run out of Relics that can contain the item you need, nearly all Prime parts have some value (even if it is Better Off Sold for Orokin Ducats), meaning that you can likely trade for what you need after a few failed runs.
    • The game has a Nemesis system, where the player can encounter special enemies during certain missions: if a Finishing Move is performed on the enemy, they will come back to life as a persistent boss, culminating in a climactic face-off that can reward you with a copy of the Nemesis' special weapon, which is extremely powerful. Players seeking a specific weapon may need to run a mission several times before a candidate armed with the desired armament spawns, but the process is made less painful by one mechanic: if you ignore the candidate after defeating it and simply finish the mission, its weapon will be removed from the pool that future ones can spawn with, meaning that at most, the number of tries to get the desired weapon will be the number of possible weapons for that Nemesis type.
  • World of Tanks features a hard pity system in its annual Holiday boxes. While the boxes themselves contain goods more or less worth the price of the box, the real draw is the small (approximately 2%) chance of drawing a high tier premium tank. Due to complaints in previous years where some players opened boxes in the triple digits without seeing a premium, Wargaming explicitly stated that if 49 consecutive boxes did not produce a high tier premium tank, the 50th such box would definitely contain a tier 8 or higher tank. However, this clause only states you will get a tier 8 or higher tank. No guarantees you will get one that you want, or end up with a tank that is competitive.
  • World of Warcraft: Some drops, particularly rare dragon whelp pets or drops required for completion of a quest, will be forced after enough unsuccessful attempts.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown: On normal or lower difficulties, the game applies a +10% hit chance for each missed shot by a soldier until they hit. The reverse is applied to alien shots, applying a -10% chance for a hit for each successful hit until they miss.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a pity system for opening core crystals. The tier of core crystal opened adds points to a counter, which resets if a rare Blade is found. If the counter gets to a certain value, the next core is guaranteed to be a rare Blade. Which Blades can be handed out as pity Blades is very limited, so tracking this early on can let the player know which rarity table their save file has picked.
  • Zero Time Dilemma has a few points where the path forward is determined by random chance. One such point involves rolling three dice to determine one of two paths to continue down. One path is taken if all three dice show a one, the other is taken otherwise. Despite the ridiculously low chance of this specific outcome (1/216), both paths are required to finish the game. While it is possible to roll all ones by chance, the third attempt is rigged to always give this outcome, and a later discussion alludes to the third chance being successful. However, you actually have to let the full scene play out if you don't roll all ones for the game to count it as an attempt. If you just quit to the menu and restart as soon as you see the dice results to try and speed things up, you'll be stuck rolling on 1/216 odds until you actually get lucky.
  • Many modern slot machines will occasionally force a small payout in order to keep the player from rage quitting. Of course, the house still wins overall. Slots are also rigged so the odds of a jackpot go up along with how much money is in the machine, both to be this so every machine will eventually be a winner no matter how poorly people did on it prior, but also so people won't get jackpots on machines that only contain tiny amounts and quit in disgust.
  • Slay the Spire has just a 3% chance of a non-boss card reward offering being rare, but for every common card offered, this chance goes up by 1%, resetting back to 3% once a rare card is offerednote . This makes the Busted Crown's drawback more severe that it would be otherwise; because it limits card rewards to one choice instead of three, the rare card chance climbs up only a third as quickly.
  • Magic: The Gathering Arena's shuffler is, in theory, designed to minimize the chance you'll lose due to bad luck. In practice, players are not entirely convinced the shuffler is not forcing losses on them. Jury is still out on whether this is due to genuine concerns, player ineptitude, or a mix of both. To note:
    • The shuffler will deal your starting hand twice, and settle on the best of the two, land-to-spell ratio wise. This is made to make hands that you would be forced to mulligan (either for having no lands, or seven lands), nigh impossible to get. No promises on whether you would actually be able to cast anything in your hand given your mana base, or at all. Especially if your deck uses more than 3 colors, a good amount of expensive spells, or both.
    • The shuffler also forgoes true random shuffles in lieu of "land smoothing", which was implemented to avoid the dreaded "mana floods" (drawing only lands for several turns) and "mana droughts" (drawing absolutely no lands for several turns). Again, no promises on the actual type of lands you draw, so it's still up to you to have a good mana base to begin with.
    • The physical card game also has text on each type of booster pack which explains point-blank exactly what number of which rarities of card are inside, with the only variable being whether one "Rare" card is replaced with a "Mythic Rare", which has its percent chance disclosed. Also, every card within that set's rarity tier has an equal chance of appearing. This is all so the game can be distributed worldwide without falling afoul of any gambling laws: while the exact content are a surprise, you can be sure of the minimum value you'll receive, and the chance of something good is equalized. The game caters to the secondary collector market by creating ultra-scarce and valuable cards despite this equal distribution policy via some benign Loophole Abuse, printing much less common cosmetically different (but mechanically identical) versions of desirable cards.
  • In Zero Time Dilemma, C-Team are forced to roll 3 dice in order to avoid being brutally murdered by gatling gun fire. If all three dice show 1s, everyone lives, but if any of the dice show anything other than a 1, everyone dies. The odds are 1/216, and although it is possible to hit the triple 1s naturally, the odds are very much not in your favor. However, replaying the scene three times will cause the third attempt to immediately roll three 1s, thereby progressing the plot. The act of rerolling through repeating the scene is plot-relevant, as pointed out by Akane afterwards.