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Cosmic Keystone

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In a realm beyond sight
The sky shines gold, not blue
There, the Triforce's might
Makes mortal dreams come true.

"Who designed this campaign setting? Why would you include four points of such catastrophic weakness that tampering with any of them results in the destruction of the global ecosystem? It makes no sense! A kind and loving creator would never have done this, and a cruel one would simply have made the air out of acid. And it wouldn't have evolved on its own, as there's no advantage to living in a world poised on the brink of annihilation!"

Oh no! The world is in danger! Happiness, sunshine, puppies, and ice cream will cease to exist! Why, you ask? Well, it seems that the villains have stolen, corrupted, or destroyed the Four Orbs of Fate, the Pillars of Reality, the Tomes of Prophecy and Fate, or The Lifestream. The loss of even one of these is enough to make the world spiral into a hellscape of torment consumed by Inconceivable Horrors beyond the comprehension of All Logic and Reality. It seems that, for whatever reason, the Powers That Be who created the universe needed to make its continued healthy existence contingent on these poorly guarded, easily found, delicate, carry-on-luggage sized objects. Obviously they never heard of redundant systems and failsafes. The reasons for this vary.

Justified if the world/universe was once healthy and self sustaining but was broken due to some catastrophe, requiring the hasty creation of a Cosmic Keystone by benevolent precursors as a patch of sorts to hold the world together. The cosmic keystones could also be a side effect of creating the world in the first place.

If the villain ever gets the cosmic keystone, expect him to try and use it to destroy and/or remake the world in his own twisted image to rule over. If he even realizes the reality-central nature of the item. Sometimes the villain has a smaller goal in mind for its power; he just doesn't believe it'll destroy everything if something goes wrong, or else has an overinflated opinion on his ability to prevent that from happening. If he doesn't have it he'll tail the hero, let him do the hard work of finding it, and snatch it from the heroes' grasp at just the last second, only to fly away cackling. One would think they'd know better than to tamper with the underpinnings of reality, but villains have never been the sanest lot. When the changes can be easily reversed, there is obviously No Ontological Inertia in that cosmos.

A person who is one of these is a Barrier Maiden. Another form of this is the Axis Mundi. Settings where reality works via the Magical Underpinnings of Reality will probably have a lot of cosmic keystones.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: The Soul King is described at this. Without him, Hueco Mundo, Soul Society, and the human world would all collapse. Aizen believes letting this situation continue is the logic of losers and Yhwach doesn't care. The Soul King is eventually killed, but Yhwach's corpse is used as a replacement in time to save the worlds.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: The Digital World has seven Destiny Stones which maintain the barriers between realities. Each universe seems to have equivalents, our world's being Kyoto shrines. If all of any one universe's set of seven are destroyed, all dimensions will collide, destroying the multiverse. You'd think The Four Gods would have thought twice about leaving them all in plain sight and in the same city. Then again, they never counted on anyone wanting to destroy them, much less capable of doing so.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: The plot revolves around saving the kidnapped "Pillar of Cephiro", who supports the existence of the entire world with her prayers. The plot of Rayearth 2 revolves around finding a new Pillar.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: The Magical World has literal Keys that can rewrite reality. The villains already have a few of these Keys, and used them to erase several Magical World inhabitants from existence including Jack Rakan. Obtaining the most powerful Key of them all is the main goal of the villains and the heroes (who want to undo the damage already inflicted by the villains).
  • Pokémon 2000: Thee of the Legendary Birds maintain the balance of the world's climate. Capturing just one, the fiery bird Moltres, quickly throws the whole thing out of whack, turning a tropical area downright arctic. This is a massive change of theme from the Gotta Catch Them All mindset of the games; More like "Catch 'em All... Except These Three!" It's unknown whether this applies just to those specific three, or whether the capture of any Legendary Bird would have the same effect (or whether it would make a difference if the Bird went willingly).
    • When Ash meets one of the Frontier Brains, him and the others tell the Brain how impressive it is that he caught Articuno (although he didn't), showing that, at the very least, one can catch the birds as long as they aren't from the three islands. Either that, or Ash suffered from amnesia after that movie.
    • Considering the fact that later tournaments have competitors packing Full Legendaries i.e. Heatran, Latios, and Darkrai, and this isn't the first appearance of the lastnote , it seems that the former is the case. Granted, however, the events in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl mentioned in the Video Game section below also occurred in the Animenote  one, to an extent; making this a case of "depending on the Legendary."
  • Transformers: Cybertron revolves around the characters attempting to recover the Cyber Planet Keys and the Omega Lock. Optimus Prime needs them to save Cybertron, Starscream wants to become a god, and Megatron wants to destroy the universe and remake it in his image.
  • X1999: The world will essentially end if seven buildings in Tokyo are destroyed. Naturally, the Dragons of Earth tend to challenge the Dragons of Heaven to massive, destructive battles at these places.

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: The Crown of Horns is the balancing point of both the physical world and the dreaming-world. It's a vaguely crown-shaped rock, rather than an actual crown.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the Season 8 comics, the Seed of Wonder, the source of all magic in this reality, is introduced. It was in the custody of the resurrected Master until it was recovered and destroyed. Season 9 reveals that the Seed was the source of creativity as well. Unless it is somehow replaced, humanity will lose their stories, music, and art forever. In Season 9, the magic-draining character Severin makes a Heroic Sacrifice and generates a new Seed.
  • The DCU: Nowadays, the whole of the multiverse (fifty-one universes to be exact) rests on top of the main Universe-0 (the fifty-second), more specifically on Earth due to all of the massive Crisis Crossovers. Should Earth-0 ever be destroyed, all of the multiverse would be destroyed (this was the goal of the Anti-Monitor in the Sinestro Corps War arc).
    • Trinity (2008): The Big Three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) are cosmic keystones of the cosmic keystone Earth.
    • Blackest Night: The Entity is the source of all life in existence. In Brightest Day the Entity reveals to Boston Brand that it's dying and needs to be replaced before it takes all life in the universe with it.
    • Eclipso once tried to destroy Earth as part of its plan to kill God because Earth itself is vital to God. Earth was created by God to be the wellspring of belief that fuels His continued existence.
    • In one story, Wonder Woman's rejection of the truth caused her Lasso of Truth to break. Since it represented Truth itself, its unraveling leads to reality itself unraveling as the beliefs of the masses begin randomly changing reality.
  • Lucifer: God Himself is the Cosmic Keystone, and His abdication leads to reality beginning to unravel (Although He had a plan to address this).
  • Marvel Universe: The setting contains several objects capable of severely screwing up time and space, some of which bestow varying degrees of omnipotence on their wielders. These include the Infinity Gems (particularly when brought together and mounted in the Infinity Gauntlet), the Astral Regulator (which is said and later proven to supass the Infinity Gems), the M'Kraan Crystal, and the Ultimate Nullifier. One of the very first such artifacts was the Cosmic Cube, now made famous by the Avengers' film.
    • Most of the gods (and we mean Cosmic gods, not the local ones like Thor) are this as well, which is why they can't just kill Galactus or a Celestial. It's eventually shown exactly why killing Galactus would be a very bad thing, when somebody manages to actually do it: the Nigh Omnipotent Omnicidal Maniac Abraxas is unleashed. Galactus gets restored to life afterward.
    • The relationship between Cyclops and Jean Grey, of all things. Certain things with universe-affecting implications (such as stopping the M'Kraan Crystal, as mentioned above) don't happen if Scott and Jean never got together.
  • The Sandman (1989): Subverted in the spinoff Death: The High Cost of Living. Some of the characters, and likely also the reader, believe that the ankh that Death carries around holds some cosmic power. It doesn't. It's just an affectation. When the Eremite steals it, Death just... buys another one.

    Fan Works 
  • The Disney Chronicles: The Book of Disney is this. In Disney Chronicles III, Yen Sid explains to the heroes that Walt Disney created the book to place many stories inside it. Since the worlds and all their characters are alive, if someone or something were to destroy the book, everything within it will vanish, with no chance of ever returning. Yen Sid also warns that if someone evil gets their hands on the book, then unforetold disaster will occur.
  • Triptych Continuum: SUN and MOON are two unimaginably complex fabrials which regulate light and heat for the world of Menajeria. They are currently badly damaged from Discord's abuse and must be moved by magic, though they do appear to have some self-repair capabilities and are slowly recovering.

    Film — Animated 
  • Moana: The Heart of Te Fiti is one of these. Te Fiti is the Big Good of the world — a mother goddess who creates all life with her powers, which stem from the Heart in her chest. When Maui the demigod swipes it, he inadvertently creates a blight that slowly spreads out across the ocean and threatens to destroy all life in the sea and its islands. Moana's quest is to bring the Heart back. It's revealed at the end of the film that Te Fiti herself was corrupted by the loss of her Heart and transformed into the lava demon Te Ka, who is the source of the blight. When Moana puts the Heart back in place, Te Fiti is restored to her true self and immediately undoes the damage, bringing the islands back to their former glory.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas: When open, the Book of Peace maintains the weather (and the buildings) in Syracuse. When closed, the Sun doesn't rise and the city crumbles. Eris also implies she might be able to use it to remake the world in the style of Tartarus.
  • Suzume: The Eastern and Western Keystones are used to bind the Great Wyrm to prevent it reaching the living world. Suzume unknowingly releases the cat god Daijin who acts as one of the Keystones and has to catch him to set things right. Daijin tried to make Souta take his place, but eventually resumed his role willingly.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: Subverted. An Opening Monologue explains that the safety and balance of the Golden City depends on three golden balls perched on top of a minaret. News of an invading army comes just as King Nod discovers that the balls are gone, but the defeat of said army only seems to be incidental to the Thief finding and "returning" them.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Cool World: The Reality Spike. If removed the Toon Physics of Cool World will flow over into the real world, and vice versa.
  • Dogma: The cosmic keystone isn't an object, but a concept: God is Infallible. If God is ever proven wrong, existence would end. The movie's plot involves stopping two angels from doing that, by using Hollywood Catholic Dogma to end their banishment on earth.
  • The Fifth Element doesn't just have cosmic keystones, but a living "perfect" human, the titular Fifth Element, is the focus and trigger for the only weapon that can fend off the elemental, perfect evil that wants to destroy the world.
  • The Golden Child is a living cosmic keystone, keeping the forces of evil from devouring the world through his Incorruptible Pure Pureness alone.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: The six Infinity Stones, which are the Tesseract (Space), the Aether (Reality), the Orb (Power), the Eye of Agamotto (Time), Vision's Mind Stone, and the Soul Stone which is hidden on Vormir. Possession of all six bestows God-like power upon the wielder, which is used by Thanos to eradicate half of all life in the Universe.
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The original band's instruments protect the Sugar Bowl of Heartland USA. When they're stolen and scattered, the town decays into a sleazy shadow of its original self.

  • The Belgariad: The Orb of Aldur and the Sardion are stones which embody the conflicting destinies of the universe and bestow godlike power on anyone they allow to hold them.
  • The Apartment Complex Diana moved into in Chasing the Moon seems to act as this for Earth and other realities adjacent to it. Its landlord, West, is an Ambiguously Human man who's job is to fix all of its tiny problems (picking up packages, fixing the boiler, etc.) or else it has some existential effect on reality, from continents sinking to the ocean and the laws of physics rewriting itself, to Alternate Histories replacing the current one.
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: White gold is a cosmic keystone that is conveniently located outside of the cosmos it affects... until the start of the story anyway. The One Tree is another cosmic keystone, but with protections far surpassing the typical keystone. (Subverts the usual pattern further in that the Dark Lord never got his hands on them — they were used by the good guys instead.)
    • Well, not really. The Big Bad DOES get his hands on the white gold at the end of the Second trilogy. At that point, however, the hero has realized the true nature of the power of the white gold, and is able to trick the Big Bad into wasting his one shot at its use.
    • The white gold itself isn't precisely a Cosmic Keystone; it's just a way to draw power from the real Cosmic Keystone, the Arch of Time. If the white gold is destroyed, nothing happens. If the Arch of Time is destroyed, reality (if you can call it that) will crumble.
  • The Dark Tower in the series of the same name. It manifests in all worlds, but only in one does it appear as an actual tower — which is held up by six radiating Beams that span the sky in twelve directions from it. In most worlds, it takes the form of a rose, though it has also been known to appear as a tiger, a dog, or a talisman. Long and short of it is that all worlds are connected to the Tower, and the destruction of the tower is all it takes to bring everything down. In an interesting twist, two entire universes function as Cosmic Keystones for The Multiverse. One is the world in which the Tower exists as a real tower, and in which most of the characters' adventures take place. The other is (almost) our world, in which their adventures are described in a series of books by Stephen King — actually referred to as the "Keystone World", and the only one for which time travel is impossible. Destroying the Tower in either of these universes would lead to all of God's (er, "Gan's") creation being unraveled.
  • Dinotopia: The Ruby Sunstone is said to be something like this in First Flight; it maintains a balance as long as it stays in its place at Highnest, but trouble ensures if it's removed. However, it may have simply been a legend or First Flight may not completely fit into the other books' canon, as the Sunstone was lost, then stolen briefly by Lee Crabb, then dropped into the sea during the final battle where Arthur and Will, helped by the Skybax, Northies, and Giganotosaurs, managed to stop him.
  • The Flower That Bloomed Nowhere: The Tower of Asphodel is an Iron megastructure built by the Ironworkers of seemingly infinity length that can be seen from anywhere. It anchors all the planes that make up the Remaining World and contains the bodies of about 100,000 people that all the inhabitants of the remaining world are derived from.
  • Inheritance Trilogy: The Heart of Earth, hidden deep beneath the Decadent Court of Sky, anchors the power of the dead Old God Enefa. Without it, everything in the universe would die, which was what started to happen between Enefa's death and its creation. Yeine absorbs it at the end of the first book to become Enefa's successor.
  • Keys to the Kingdom: Arthur learns early on that the House is the foundation of existence, and, if it falls into Nothing, then the universe goes with it. Later, he learns that it's actually only a specific place in the House, the Elysium, that was created first and thus underpins everything. When it falls, only the New Architect survives.
  • The Last Adventure of Constance Verity: The Engine is a great machine that exists at the Exact Center of the universe that "makes everything run". No one knows who built it (or even if it had a builder and it didn't just build itself) and people who believe it exists can't seem to agree if the Engine running is what keeps the universe going or if it stifles its development, or whether or not either of those things are good or bad. Connie's destiny as The Chosen One is intrinsically linked to The Engine and she either exists to keep it running or to eventually destroy it. It's eventually revealed that it was created by an ancient race of aliens to instill order to a disorderly multiverse, and it thinks that it can accomplish that by purging all of the "variables", i.e. a Class X-5 apocalypse.
    Thelma: The Engine's influence exists throughout time and space. Even the Other Side of death itself. There is nothing beyond its reach, nothing it doesn't touch in one way or another.
  • Loyal Enemies: Downplayed. The Staff of Fertility (and oh boy, is there anybody in-story who doesn't snark at its name?) is an integral part of the elven half of Ash Keep, without which the giant plants constructing the elven town can't survive. Its theft is enough to put the dryad and elven halves of Ash Keep on the brink of war.
  • The Machineries of Empire: To keep the High Calendar — the Reality Warping effect that makes vast majority of Hexarchate's technological base, including FTL travel, function — working, nexus fortresses and wolf towers project areas of calendric stability. Destroying one would cause the calendric field in the area to begin to degrade, and the exotics to stop working.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen has the sleeping goddess Burn, who dreams life into existence. Burn's body being poisoned by the alien presence of the Crippled God is a very pressing issue once Quick Ben learns about it. All life is supposed to be destroyed when she awakens — nobody knows what will happen if she dies.
  • Realm Breaker: The Spindles, potential portals to other worlds, that, when opened, destabilize the realm and make it vulnerable to an evil entity that lurks beyond and has already destroyed at least another world.
  • The Riftwar Cycle, and most particularly A Darkness at Sethanon, has the Lifestone, which draws power from and could be used to end all life on the planet. Justified as the creators thereof didn't give a good goddamn if they sterilized the planet so long as they won their war. They didn't.
  • Sword of Truth: The Boxes of Orden: using them incorrectly can let the Keeper, the local equivalent of Satan, into the world of the living.
  • Villains by Necessity: The Spectrum Key, used to seal off the main Darkgate, then fragmented and each part hidden in a trial (just in case it's needed, however unlikely).
  • The Wheel of Time: The "invincible" cuendillar seals containing the Dark One are the key to his release and the apocalypse that would ensue as he rewrote the Pattern in his image.
    • Interestingly, Jordan plays with this trope as the seals are gradually weakening (and outright breaking in some cases) without any outside influence. This is generally put down to The Dark One breaking free of his prison, because the seals are the focus of the magic that's doing the actual imprisoning, so although they're invincible normally, as the magic gets damaged so do they.
    • At the end of the series, Rand realizes that the Dark One itself is also a keystone of sorts. It, and by extension evil itself, is vital to humanity's capacity for choice and change. People need to be able to make poor choices.
  • Young Wizards: The Book of Night with Moon, a book which describes the entirety of existence and which must be read from periodically by wizards in order to remind Reality what it's supposed to be like. It's indestructible and can't be used by the Big Bad, but simply keeping it out of the hands of the good guys for long enough will result in reality slowly unraveling.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 12 Monkeys reveals in Season 2 the existence of the Primaries, humans with a special connection to Time itself, whose existence keeps it linear. The 12 Monkeys intend to use time travel to kill them with paradoxes in order to cause a Time Crash.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Season 5, we get "the Key" (note the capital K), a device that can destroy the barrier between realities and turn southern California into Hell on Earth.
  • Dinotopia has a storyline about a ring of sunstones that kept the large carnivores in the Rainy Basin. When some of them go out, chaos ensues.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Season 16 revolved around the Doctor's needing to gather and assemble the pieces of "The Key to Time", scattered across space and time, before an evil power could get its hands on it. The villain had a particularly clever plot, too; his agent located the final piece of the Key and settled down nearby to wait for the Doctor to bring all the other pieces there along with him when he came for it. Downplayed in that the Key to Time is used to restore the universe's balance, which apparently gets upset all the time. This is partly because the opposing Black and White Guardians of Time are adversaries, and keeping the pieces of the key scattered is necessary to prevent the Black Guardian (Chaos) in particular from using it to spread entropy.
    • "Logopolis", the final Tom Baker episode, features the titular planet which was itself a universal keystone. The people were bringing energy into the universe as a way to fight off entropy. When the Master decides to stop activity there for a little while (admittedly, not really understanding what they were doing) large chunks of reality were destroyed before the problem could be fixed. Even then, there was no reset button.
    • Gallifrey itself may be full of these, not least of which are the Eye of Harmony and the Moment. It is taken quite seriously that the Time Lords could end the universe if they chose to do so, using technology they already possess.
    • "School Reunion" features an equation that can "solve" the universe, and somehow rewrite it to suit the solver's needs. The Doctor has to decide whether or not to use it to bring back the Time Lords and stop the Time War from happening. He doesn't.
  • Lost: The Heart of the Island, from which emanates "life, death, and rebirth". Conflict has existed for centuries between those that would protect it and those who would use it for their own purposes.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive has the five jewels of the Crown of the Gods, each of which has a complicated series of MacGuffins as clues to its whereabouts.
  • SeaQuest DSV: Done in a slightly harder SF context. A deforested future Earth depends on ten massive air processing plants to keep what's left of the planet livable. Then a race of genetically engineered Super Soldiers — with lower oxygen requirements — decide they wouldn't mind the place to themselves...

  • The Avengers (Stern): The Tesseract, which spells COSMIC (and enables the Super Jackpot) as it spins.
  • Pro Pinball: Timeshock! has Time Crystals, which are needed to generate a counter-shockwave of time to prevent the end of reality.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible: One interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve holds that the Forbidden Fruit of the tree of knowledge essentially acted as a Cosmic Keystone. The serpent, who is thought to represent Satan, tricks them into partaking of the forbidden fruit. The result, of course, is the fall of man and the ruin of God's perfect creation. Some believe that this is the reason why we have natural disasters, diseases, wars, famine, and death in the world today. Interestingly, Revelation 5-6 and 8:1 speak of a scroll that is believed by scholars to be the title deed to the Earth. Now to whom could it belong? It's Jesus.
  • Greek Mythology: Anyone who burns the entrails of the Ophiotaurus gains the power to defeat the gods.
  • Mesopotamian Mythology: The supreme god (which may be Enlil, Enki or Marduk, depending on the tribe) possesses Dup Shimati, the Tablet of Destinies, essentially a legal document that dictates the laws of the universe and the fates of those who live in it. The tablet is both the badge of office for the ruler of the universe and in no small part the source of his powers. This makes this trope Older Than Dirt.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Used very literally in the adventure module The Apocalypse Stone. The Stone of Corbinet (which must always be italicised) is the Cosmic Keystone used by the gods to create whichever world you choose to set the campaign in, and which connects it to the other planes. As long as it stays in Castle Pescheour, the Axis Mundi, everything's fine. The castle is watched over and kept secret by the Pescheour family and their servants. The Big Bad is an exiled prince of the family whose brother was chosen to rule the castle in his stead, and who doesn't even know what the Stone really does, but wants to steal it so he can play king himself. He sets the player characters to steal it in his stead with no idea what they're actually doing. As the world starts to fall apart gradually as a result and the heroes eventually find out what they've done, they must hurry to undo their mistake — the Big Bad certainly isn't going to that, being evil enough to let the world be reduced to nothing if he can't have his way with things.
  • Exalted has a few examples.
    • The Elemental Poles provide metaphysical stability to the world, "pin" it in place, and regulate the influence of the elements in the world, while the Loom of Fate keeps time linear and rational, ensuring that events happen as necessary and cause follows effect. This differs from most examples in that the Poles are incredibly durable and malleable (the four that exist at the edge of the world can adjust themselves to how far the edge happens to be), and the Loom is probably the best-defended thing in the world. The
    • The Yozi She Who Lives In Her Name has a physical form made of ten thousand crystal spheres orbiting each other. Each crystal is a keystone for a concept, idea, or notion that makes up Creation; as part of her Rage Quit when she was defeated, she smashed three of them in what was later called the Three Spheres Cataclysm, destroying nine-tenths of Creation along with them.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Astronomicon functions as this for humanity. It is a massive beacon of psychic energy powered by the dying God-Emperor, used by starship pilots to navigate the Warp. Theories on what could happen should the Emperor die range from inconveniencing (the Emperor reincarnates into a new body and returns to rebuild the Imperium) to very bad (the psychic backlash plunges Terra and a good portion of space into a second Eye of Terror, leading to the collapse of the Imperium and a win for Chaos).

  • BIONICLE: The Masks of Time, Life, and Creation (collectively known as the Legendary Masks) each regulate their titular concept within the isolated space of the Matoran Universe. If one of the Legendary Masks is destroyed, it takes its very concept with it (for example, destroying the Mask of Time will reduce the Matoran Universe to a chaotic sea of un-time).
  • Transformers: According to supplemental materials, Primus is a living version. Realities where he's been killed apparently tend to start falling apart at the seams (or at the very least, start getting very confusing).

    Video Games 
  • Baba is You has Text, which is every in-game word that can be pushed around to form rules that define the behaviors of certain objects (such as "Wall is Stop" or "Rock is Push"). Destroying Text, especially You, is one of many ways to render a level unplayable except in one specific case: if you create "Flag is End" in Level Finale and touch the flag, all the level's Text turns into flowers, but you still retain control over Baba so as to collect all of them and beat the game.
  • battle-girl has the Great Machine, a massive computer at the center of the universe which acts as "source of cosmic order and enforcer of natural law."
  • Champions Online: Valerian Scarlet's Arc has you collect a collection of artifacts that have the potential to jump start the apocalypse. You know, so she can seal them? You poor gullible fool...
  • Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross have a few of these — the Time Egg (the "Chrono Trigger"), the Frozen Flame and the Chrono Cross. In the fan-game Crimson Echoes, the Frozen Flame is the prominent Cosmic Keystone, while the Time Eggs have become more easily manufactured and used (with both Balthasar and Lucca constructing them), suffering Keystone Decay by virtue of this.
  • Darksiders: The Seven Seals are essentially a countdown to Armageddon. Breaking the Seventh is the signal for everybody to engage in the massive cosmic winner-take-all power struggle that is the End War, with the Horsemen ready to clean up the mess when everything is resolved. Abaddon starts the plot of the game by deciding to break all but the Seventh Seal in order to prematurely start the End War without getting the Horsemen involved in the hopes of wiping out Hell's generals in a first strike and finishing the War before it really starts in favor of Heaven, while also getting them repaired in order to claim Hell struck first and Heaven just punished them. Unfortunately for him, Hell anticipated this and launched a full invasion from the get-go rather than the probing attack he was expected, and the Charred Council knew about this all but let it happen because they wanted humanity wiped out and even engineered War to answer the call of the broken six seals alone so they could string him up as a scrapegoat and use him as a vengeance-seeking pawn to wipe out the loose ends.
  • Dark Souls has the Lord Souls, fragments of the First Flame. These flames created disparity in a once ordered and gray universe, and the Lords wielded the power of these Souls against the everlasting dragons. The dragons were defeated, and thus began the Age of Fire, the age of Lords. The premise of the game is that the First Flame is flickering, and the world is slowly dying as a result. The mission given to your character is to rekindle the First Flame to save the Age of Fire. But your true destiny according to Darkstalker Kaathe is to let the First Flame die so that the unique Lord Soul you inherited from your ancestor the Furtive Pygmy, the Dark Soul, can begin the Age of Dark, the age of humanity.
  • Demon's Souls has the Monumentals and the Archstones in the Nexus. The Monumentals, willingly transformed into half-living magical statues, sealed away the Old One the last time it went on a soul-devouring world tour, and created the six Archstones to bind together the remaining fragments of reality. If the Monumentals completely die out, or the Archstones get destroyed, cue The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Diablo:
    • Diablo II: The evil Baal tries to capture the Worldstone. He aims to corrupt it and turn the mortal world into a bastion of Hell. He pretty much succeeds. Tyrael is forced to destroy the Worldstone to keep Sanctuary from becoming part of Hell. Fortunately, destroying the Worldstone removes the seal on humanity's true potential as angel-demon hybrids (Sanctuary itself was created through an angel-demon union). Unfortunately, it also makes humanity a target for the fanatically anti-demon angels.
    • Diablo III has another, the Crystal Arch, which is the origin of all Angels and their power. If it is destroyed, Angeldom will cease to exist and both Sanctuary and the High Heavens will be cast into darkness forever. Diablo is just barely prevented from doing this.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Solas strongly disapproves of the Grey Wardens because their method of ending Blights involves destroying the Old Gods-turned-Archdemons that lead the Blights. He believes that the Old Gods are somehow vital to the existence of the world, and that destroying them permanently would ultimately lead to something worse than any Blight. Given his true identity, there may be some truth to this.
  • Drakengard: The four seals fill this role. Partially subverted in that the world was created far differently from how it appears, and the seals hold back the true world by replacing it with one that is user-friendly.
  • The Dungeon Revealed: The theft of the Orb of Carnos plunges The Good Kingdom into "blight, disease, confusion and senseless infighting."
  • Elden Ring: The titular Ring is a divine rune contained within Queen Marika's body, whose power allows control over the very laws of nature, the order of the world, and even, to a certain extent, the very cosmos. When it was shattered, parts of it called Great Runes spread throughout the land and were collected by the Demigods, most of them became drunk with power and warred with each other for more pieces. The main plot of the game revolves around collecting the pieces and repairing the Ring, and thus the world with it.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series has the concept of Towers, with their "stones" being these. Essentially, "Towers" are metaphysical structures built atop the "joint-points" of reality as it was constructed by the et'Ada who took part in creation. The Towers are said to "define reality in [their] Aurbic vicinity". The first, the Adamantine Tower, was built by these creator et'Ada (now known as the Aedra). It is powered by the "Zeroth-Stone", which is said to cultivate "creatia" indirectly to alter the "terrestrial domain" around the Tower. During the earliest days following creation, the ancient Aldmer (ancestors of all of the modern races of Mer/Elves) discovered a means to construct their own towers at these "joint-points." By building their own Tower, each group could create their own narrative, distinct but equal to those around it. In several games in the series, as noted below, the "stones" of these towers play a substantial part in the plot.
    • The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall has the Reality Warping Humongous Mecha known as Numidium, constructed ages ago by the Dwemer (as their "Tower" and designed to be a new god) and used by Tiber Septim to forge his empire. It was designed to be powered by the heart of the dead creator god, Lorkhan (see below), and was modified to use the Mantella, an unimaginably powerful soul gem containing the soul of the Underking, believed to be a "Shezzarine," a physical form taken by the soul of Lorkhan ("Shezzar" being the Imperial name for Lorkhan).
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind features the Heart of Lorkhan, the creator of Mundus, the "mortal plane" in which the series takes place. The other spirits who participated in creation lost a good portion of their divinity in the process and felt betrayed by Lorkhan, so they killed him, tore his heart from his body, and cast it down into the world he created where his soul is forced to wander. The Dwemer uncovered it and planned to use it to power the Numidium, but the entire race disappeared without a trace when they tried to tap into it. Using their tools, the three God-Kings of Morrowind (and their rival, Dagoth Ur), managed to tap into it to achieve divinity for themselves. The plot of the game involved severing their ties to the heart. (Which also severs it from its "Tower", Red Mountain itself.)
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
      • It's buried fairly deep in the lore, but the events of Oblivion were actually set in motion by the destruction of disguised cosmic keystones across Nirn, including the aforementioned Heart of Lorkhan and Numidium. With enough of them gone, Mundus becomes vulnerable. This also suggests that Azura's motivations in steering the hero towards destroying the heart in Morrowind may have been out of different motivations than she let on.
      • The main quest of Oblivion revolves around three other cosmic keystones: the Septim bloodline, the Amulet of Kings, and the Dragonfires. The Dragonfires maintain the barrier that separates Mundus from the (other?) Daedric Realms as long as they remain lit. They were created through a Bargain with Heaven between St. Alessia, founder of the First Empire, and the Top God of the Aedra, the draconic God of Time, Akatosh. Due to this, the fires only remain lit so long as the current Emperor is still alive; if the Emperor dies, another of the bloodline must relight the fires using the Amulet of Kings (which houses Alessia's soul and Akatosh's own blood). Otherwise, the barrier weakens and eventually vanishes. By the end of the main campaign all three keystones are lost. Mehrunes Dagon shatters the barrier and enters Mundus, rendering the Dragonfires useless. Martin Septim, the last member of the Emperor's bloodline, shatters the Amulet of Kings and sacrifices himself to become an avatar of Akatosh in order to fight off Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction. Dagon is banished back to Oblivion, but the dragon avatar is mortally wounded as well and turns into a statue that replaces the Dragonfires.
      • Inverted in regard to closing Oblivion Gates. Essentially, the player goes around entering small hellish dimensions of Oblivion stealing their cosmic keystones in order to collapse them and prevent the lesser Daedra within from attacking your world. Of course, the reason the Daedra are able to do open up the portals is because the Cosmic Keystone on your side (The Amulet of Kings) was stolen, and you need to get it back.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim features this as part of its backstory. According to ancient Aldmeri religious beliefs, Mundus (the mortal plane) is a prison for their souls. Several prominent landmarks in the series, the Crystal Tower, the White-Gold Tower, and Red Mountain, were part of a series of things holding it all together. The reason that the Thalmor (the fascist High Elf political group that rules the new Aldmeri Dominion) forced the Empire to ban Talos worship is because they believe that he is the only thing keeping humanity existent and Mundus from collapsing.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • King Arthur's spear Rhongomyniad, which serves as one of the "pillars" keeping the Layered World from falling apart, dictating that the scientific laws devised by humanity stay in place and preventing the magical creatures lying in a layer of reality below ours from rampaging around. When an alternate version of her known as the Lion King invades the Sixth Singularity, she's able to use the spear to anchor the timeline even after Chaldea gets the Holy Grail that originally created the Singularity and would have usually started the collapse, forcing them to confront her in order to resolve the timeline.
    • The Tree of Emptiness that grows in each Lostbelt is what keeps it on Earth, acting as a lynch-pin that slowly grows and pins the Texture of the Lostbelt onto the blank slate that the Earth has become. If destroyed, all life within it will be erased from existence, a process that doesn't have any adverse effect on Earth.
      • The sole true exception to this is Beryl's Lostbelt in Britain, which by the time Chaldea invades Atlantis has already had its tree destroyed through his and his Servant's own actions yet it still exists. It turns out this is because his Servant Morgan le Fay used the Tree of Emptiness to perform Mental Time Travel and ended up transforming the very nature of the Lostbelt to a Lostworld, a new parallel timeline that can survive without the Tree. Unfortunately, the world of the faeries is populated by short-sighted and bloodthirsty beings who would drive themselves to extinction from Blue-and-Orange Morality and the Point of Divergence that lead to the Lostbelt's original existence has fundamentally cursed the land into trying to destroy itself and the faeries for their well-deserved sins, and these Calamities can freely escape the Lostworld and avoid being erased from crossing over as well. Chaldea enters the Lostbelt in part to stop or at least mitigate a predicted cataclysmic event from destroying the whole world alongside the Lostbelt.
      • Several extremely powerful entities are able to take advantage of the Tree's properties by fusing with or outright devouring them. This not only gives them a power-boost, but in effect makes them the new Lostbelt lynch-pin, to the point they would be able to leave the Lostbelt, cross over the bleached Earth, and freely enter other Lostbelts, when otherwise they would only be able to once the borders expand enough to actually touch and if they were a Lostbelt native beforehand, even be able to avoid being erased from exiting said Lostbelt. Unfortunately for everyone, the ones who pull this off such as Surtr in the Scandinavian Lostbelt and ORT in the South American one have the power and intention to destroy everything in existence.
  • Final Fantasy has many of these.
    • Final Fantasy has the Four Crystals, one for each classical element. The loss of their light is what's slowly destroying the world. They were originally called "Orbs" in the NES translation because "Crystals" wouldn't fit in the space allotted.
    • Final Fantasy III (Famicom) had four elemental crystals, fairly standard stuff, which give the heroes jobs. Unusually, they are neither destroyed, stolen, nor tampered with. They are losing their light, though, which is why the Wind Crystal summons the Onion Kids (or Luneth in the remake.)
    • Final Fantasy IV has not just four crystals for the elements, but an additional four dark equivalents for the underworld. While these crystals are never threatened within the time-frame of the game (merely used as tools to reach villains' goals), it is strongly implied that they are just as vital to the world as similar crystals other installments in the series. There's also a second full set of eight on the Moon. Using both sets together is what enabled the Big Bad to send the Giant of Bab-il down to the world in order to raze it.
    • Final Fantasy V also has four crystals for the elements, the destruction of each in turn wreaking havoc with the given element.
    • Final Fantasy VI has the Statues of the Warring Triad, which merely moving out of alignment would cause the entire world to fall to pieces. According to the Esper legend, the Warring Triad came to realize the horror they had brought upon the world, and voluntarily sealed themselves away. However, the raw magic that emanates from them is so powerful that they need to be sealed in a precise alignment to nullify each other, and prevent their mere existence from causing further damage. They are, fortunately, not required for the world to continue existing, only for the existence of magic, and the game ends with the heroes destroying the Triad completely.
    • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has four Crystals very similar to the Orbs in the first Final Fantasy. Additionally, there's a Crystal of Light, but its significance to the world is never well-established.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, in something of a reversal, has the protagonist going around destroying Ivalice's Cosmic Keystone set to turn the world back to normal. This is subverted when, after all of the keystones are destroyed, nothing changes — the world is still held together by Mewt's desire to live there, and the only way to unravel it is to convince him to give it up.
    • Final Fantasy IX: The Crystal is indeed a very Cosmic Keystone, as all life, everywhere, comes from and is sustained by it.
    • Final Fantasy XI: The Mothercrystal is the basis for all of Vana'diel. It was also absurdly hard to get to, originally, but when the thing trying to destroy it is cosmic itself, that kinda doesn't matter.
    • Final Fantasy XIII: The Cocoon Fal'Cie Orphan is the keystone that holds Cocoon together. Without it, all of Cocoon's Fal'Cie will die and Cocoon along with them. The Fal'Cie want this to happen. They miss their creator and hate working for humans that much.
    • Final Fantasy XIV, in Shadowbringers, reveals that Zodiark is a keystone of a sort, dedicated to holding back the End of Days. This causes significantly problems when, in Endwalker, you're forced to destroy Zodiark, and thereby allow the End of Days to start once more.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia: The World of Respite where the heroes are meant to rest has two cosmic keystones that double as World Pillars, the crystal of light and the crystal of darkness. When the crystal of light is destroyed, the heroes have to go around the world to search for its shards and put it back together before the crystal of darkness is similarly threatened by the Big Bad.
  • Golden Sun features the Elemental Stars, which when removed from their hidden chamber cause a calamitous volcanic eruption. Placing these stars in their respective elemental lighthouses will destroy the world. But in Golden Sun: The Lost Age, this is inverted: If the Elemental Lighthouses are not lit, the world will definitely be destroyed, and the only danger otherwise comes from what humans might do with the power of the activated lighthouses. Oh, and just lighting a few of the Lighthouses will upset the climate. Case in point: the Mercury Lighthouse stopped the excessive snowing in the Imil region (and may have stopped the rain on the Osenia continent), the Venus Lighthouse caused a massive earthquake and tidal wave, and slammed Indra into Osenia and Gondowan, and the combination of both Mercury and Jupiter being lit with only Venus to counter them dropped the world's temperature. Things only stabilized after the Mars Lighthouse was lit.
  • Gruntz has Warpstone Pieces. They're 4 pieces of a big circular rock with a spiral in the center, and getting them together is the only way the Gruntz can go back home.
  • Guild Wars 2 reveals that the Elder Dragons play a vital part in moderating the flow of magic through Tyria. If too many are killed, the balance will collapse and Tyria will be destroyed as a result. A major part of the Myth Arc is preparing a replacement keystone, namely Aurene, a new Elder Dragon who will not fall into the same destructive cycle as the previous generation.
  • Inherit the Earth: Justified, in Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb, as the titular Orb of Storms was created by sufficiently advanced humans. It has been used for generations to judge the growing and planting seasons and its holders have a huge advantage in managing their food supply. It's apparently the core operating system for some weather control satellites.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Every world has a Keyhole, which leads to the heart of the world and can be opened or closed by Keyblades. Destroying the world's heart on the other side of the Keyhole shrouds the world in darkness and destroys it. The Keyholes are usually Hidden in Plain Sight; for example, Atlantica's is within Ariel's grotto among her treasures and Neverland's is on the face of Big Ben. Keyholes can also be used to outright alter a world. At the end of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Aqua uses the Keyhole at the Land of Departure to change it into Castle Oblivion.
    • Kingdom Hearts itself is the Keystone for all reality: the Heart of all worlds and of everything that is. The villains in the games invariably want control over it, since that would effectively grant them control over everything. Kingdom Hearts has a counterpart, the χ-blade, the original weapon that all other Keyblades are copies of. It was destroyed in the Keyblade War, but if it were remade, then there is a chance that Kingdom Hearts could fall under someone's control once again.
  • Legacy of Kain: The Pillars of Nosgoth, although there it's subverted because the Anti-Hero protagonist decides to destroy the pillars completely and rule as an evil vampire king. The Pillars are technically more of a representation of the state of Nosgoth as a whole, and they are maintained by their nine guardians, whose states of mind the pillars reflect. Alternatively, the player can choose to save the pillars by having Kain kill himself (him being, unknowingly, the last pillar guardian and his death necessary for a new set of guardians to be appointed), but canon says that he chose not to, condemning the pillars to eternal ruination. Later games reveal that Kain killing himself would have doomed Nosgoth anyway. As the last true vampire, Kain's existence is connected to the Pillars since they were originally created by the vampires prior to their corruption. This makes Kain himself a Cosmic Keystone.
  • Legend of Legaia: In Legaia II: Duel Saga, the three sacred stones — the Pyrolith, Aerolith, and Aqualith — are tied to the Source Forge, the beacon of the world's creation.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Triforce, which is said to grant any wish. The limitations of this are not known, but Ganondorf possessing a piece of it was enough to turn the world into Mordor. Said wish will also turn the Sacred Realm in which it usually resides into a reflection of the bearer's whim. The Triforce has canonically only been used directly a handful of times to grant wishes (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past, The Wind Waker, Skyward Sword, and A Link Between Worlds), and during the time skip of Ocarina of Time, Big Bad Ganondorf uses it to warp the Sacred Realm from a Golden Land into a Dark World.
    • In Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf makes a grab for the Triforce (whole) and it shatters: Power is given to Ganondorf, Wisdom goes to Zelda, and Courage goes to Link. The real Ganondorf has been with Power in almost every other game (A Link to the Past is a notable exception since the Triforce is actually all in one place for once), while Link is often on quests to retrieve Courage and Zelda almost always has Wisdom innately (with the original game being an exception for both). Which in turn explains his incessant desire to kill or otherwise "deal with" Link and Zelda, since the death of either will release their part of the Triforce, making it up for grabs — exactly what Ganondorf wants.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess changes up the mythos a bit: the Triforce is notably backgrounded, and new Light Spirits are added; without the Light Spirits, the Twilight Realm takes over the world. And the Twilight Realm has its own — small suns that return Dark creatures to their original, more peaceful forms.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: The endgame shows just how powerful the Triforce is: The people of the Alternate Universe of Lorule destroyed their Triforce to prevent abuse of its power, only to find that it literally acted as a keystone holding everything together and that without it the world was doomed to slow destruction. Link and Zelda then wish on the Hyrulean Triforce, and it creates a replacement Lorulean Triforce. However, the implication was that it didn't so much create a Triforce for Lorule as restore the one they destroyed.
  • Makai Kingdom has the Sacred Tome, which doubles as a valuable source of information as it knows everything about the Netherworld. Villain Protagonist Zetta sets it on fire out of spite after it said he'd end up destroying the Netherworld by being an idiot... which is precisely why it ends up being destroyed. He manages to preserve the tome by merging with it, however, leaving him as an angry-faced book for the entire story. This translates into the gameplay, as if he happens to get attacked by an enemy, all the manner of bizarre (And frequently harmful) things will happen.
  • Mother 3: The Seven Needles sealing away the Dark Dragon, although subverted somewhat by the fact that not just anyone can pull it — you have to have a certain special PSI power. It also helps that if a good-hearted person pulls the Needles, the Dragon wouldn't so much destroy the world as upgrade it.
  • NieR has The Shadowlord, the supposed Big Bad of the game. He's the reason that the Shades, AKA the unrelapsed souls of humanity haven't all gone insane and turned into monsters. Unfortunately, by killing him, Nier ends up dooming humanity to extinction.
  • Nox: The player must find the Halberd of Horrendous, the Heart of Nox, the Weirdling, and finally The Orb.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire/Pokémon Emerald are centered around this. Evil bad guy(s) steal(s) object(s) of power, world goes to hell.
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl/Pokémon Platinum are even more centered around the trope, if that's even possible. There are even separate levels of Cosmic Keystones here: the Lake Trio, when brought together, create the Red Chain. That in turn summons Dialga or Palkia, who are cosmic lynchpins that can literally destroy and reform the universe. Platinum takes it a step further, with the temporospatial chaos created by Dialga and Palkia's presence summoning Giratina, who can also destroy the world. Presumably with a bigger bang. And, wouldn't you know, Cyrus had the fantastic idea to make the Red Chain and (try to) pull this Trope, though it turned out to be pretty difficult.
    • Another D/P example is found in the postgame, when the removal of the Magma Stone from Stark Mountain almost causes said volcano to erupt. Not "cosmic" per se, but certainly destructive.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers: The Time Gears are initially believed to be responsible for maintaining the flow of time in the world, but in reality, are simply tools needed to repair the true keystone; the Temporal Tower.
  • The plot of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time revolves around the Great Clock, a massive space station built in the exact center of the universe (give or take fifty feet). Long ago, misuse of time travel almost caused a Reality-Breaking Paradox, so the Zoni built the Great Clock to maintain the universe's structure, akin to a cosmic pacemaker. The game's villains believe that by controlling the Great Clock, they can use it as a Time Machine and change history as they want.
  • Realms of the Haunting has the seven seals, whose breaking will plunge the world into eternal darkness, as envisioned by Florentine.
  • Romancing SaGa pulls something more out of this, The legendary Artifacts; Fatestones, if not collected will be used to power up the Final Boss, you can even power him up intentionally for a greater challenge if you wish after clearing the game one time.
  • The Secret World features the Gaia Engines, a network of giant cuboid Magitek devices hidden across the world, primarily used to keep the Dreaming Ones asleep and imprisoned, and to cleanse the Filth from the world before it builds to dangerous levels. Interfering with either function is a very good way to kick off The End of the World as We Know It — not that it stops the villains, who either want to harness the power within or just end the world on behalf of the Dreamers. However, later issues of the game reveal that the Engines also serve as a universal Reset Button: in the event that an apocalypse-level event does continue through to the final cataclysm, all the Gaia Engines activate in unison and temporarily harness the Dreamers' reality-warping power to rebuild the world. Unfortunately, this still leaves the world effectively restored to factory settings, and only a few rare individuals and artifacts remain from the previous era. Doubly unfortunately, the Engines have already rebooted three times — and they might not be capable of a fourth...
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Chaos Emeralds are seven crystals of potentially limitless energy. If you ever want to make something go horribly wrong, just gather them. Then you can drain them, and use them to power evil... or use them to power yourself to defeat evil as you wish.
    • Sonic Rush has a more explicit version in the Sol Emeralds, the counterparts of the Chaos Emeralds from an Alternate Universe, which are vital in maintaining that universe's balance. When Dr. Eggman steals them and brings them back to his own world, they begin to draw their native dimension into their current one, forcing their guardian Blaze to pursue Eggman and retrieve the Emeralds before both worlds are irreversibly damaged by the process.
    • The Master Emerald, which has the power to control or override the Chaos Emeralds. It's Knuckles' duty to guard it, but he doesn't do a particularly good job of it because it gets stolen by Eggman in Sonic 3 and Knuckles and broken in both Sonic Adventure games.
  • Spellbreaker has its protagonist traveling the world in search of its Cosmic Keystones, which in a borderline subversion manifest as featureless white cubes that are utterly indistinguishable from one another (but can be written on to differentiate them; this was considered a neat feature when the game first came out). It turns out that this is all The Plan of the protagonist's evil magical doppelganger: you've been playing MacGuffin Delivery Service for him all along, and once you unwittingly bring all the cubes to him, he magically paralyzes you and uses the cubes to build a tesseract — a hypercube — at the center of which is the Cube of Magic. Once he enters the hypercube, reality will reconfigure itself around him — essentially turning him into a god — but the protagonist can use his Heroic Resolve to shake off the doppelganger's spell just in time to replace the Cube of Magic with something nonmagical, erasing your evil twin from existence... as well as magic, unfortunately.
  • Star Fox Adventures: General Scales manages to snag the four SpellStones that keep the planet together. Its initial effect is to push four chunks of land away from the planet, but there are concerns that the planet could explode. You don't need to worry about that happening, however; you can Take Your Time.
  • Suikoden: The 27 True Runes are major parts of the world, and at least one is required for the continued existence of its domain (the Dragon Rune allows dragons to exist) and the destruction of the five True Elemental Runes is Not A Good Thing. In fact, it's implied (and the Big Bad of Suikoden III's plan is predicated on this premise) that the destruction of any one of the True Runes would destroy the world. However, the Runes are rarely in danger as they have wills of their own and generally control their bearer far more than their bearers control them. Even if the bearer has sufficient willpower to dominate the Rune, the Rune will never have sufficient power to destroy itself or any of the other Runes. To destroy a True Rune requires multiple other Runes' powers to be united, under very specific circumstances. And even then, it's not certain that the attempt to destroy the True Wind Rune would actually have worked even if it hadn't been interrupted.
  • Tales of Symphonia has the Mana Tree, which has already been dead for four thousand years or so due to a great Magitek-based war. Mithos made a Sadistic Choice and split the world in two, then set up a system to sustain both worlds with what little mana came from the Mana Tree seed; but then he started obsessing over reviving his sister, necessitating a Screw Destiny by the heroes. The Mana Tree's revived by the end of the game... only for it to die again in another Magitek war in the backstory to Tales of Phantasia. Derris-Kharlan's Mana Tree also died in the backstory, prompting Dhaos to come to Aselia to procure a Mana Tree seed to save his world. He gets his wish in the end, albeit posthumously.
  • Turok 2: Seeds of Evil: The destruction of the five Energy Totems will release Primagen from his prison and destroy our universe.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger: The first game has five talismans that need to be recovered so the Big Bad of the series can't unlock the power of the Dreamtime and wipe out all the mammals. Incidentally, the place the talismans are returned to serves as the conveniently-located hub of the game.
  • Vagrant Story: The city you fight in is the Cosmic Keystone. Yes, drawing on its power irrevocably damns your soul, and sometimes you can't even stop yourself from using it. Yes, it also unravels that pesky Laser-Guided Amnesia (OR DOES IT?). And yes, everyone and their grandmother has designs on the bloody place, including that Corrupt Church. All to the point where you don't know who might have the right idea up. Until the end, where it becomes a case of who's the last man standing. Said Cosmic Keystone, named "the Gran Grimoire", is the source of all magical energy in the world. And, in the Final Fantasy games that tie in with Vagrant Story, normally manifests as a book that created, and is holding together, the entire world.
  • Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria: The four worlds of the setting are each stabilized by one of the four treasures. Removing a treasure from its world causes that world to quickly become unstable and eventually cease existing.
  • Wild ARMs has the Tear Drop — a crystal with a link to the guardians and should not be in the wrong hands. There's also the Ray Line, a sort of underground conduit linking the guardians' powers. When the villains manage to damage it, the forces of nature go out of whack, wreaking havoc. And this makes more sense if you take into consideration "Blind Idiot" Translation: Ray Line = Leyline. Indeed, it was translated as Leyline in the remake.
  • Wizardry: The world of VI, VII & VIII is full of these. The Cosmic Forge is a pen and book in which anything written (or erased) affects reality accordingly.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Well of Eternity, a well created by the titans that poured magic out across Azeroth. When it was destroyed at the end of the War of the Ancients, it caused the sundering, which ripped the super-continent apart into the world as it's known in the games.
    • In the Cataclysm expansion, a second is revealed; the World Pillar in Deepholm, responsible for keeping Deepholm (one of the parts of the elemental plane) from collapsing into the world.
  • Xenogears and Xenosaga have the Zohar Modifier, an object that has existed since the beginning of the universe and is said to produce an infinite amount of energy. It also shows up in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, though they call it "the Conduit" there. Its power is what Klaus used in his universe-shattering experiment that created the Xenoblade game worlds.
  • Zork: Grand Inquisitor: The world will stay a world oppressed by the technological dictator The Grand Inquisitor if the player doesn't find three object with massive magical power: a Cube of Foundation, the Skull of Yoruk, and the Coconut of Quendor.

  • City of Reality: The Aura Stones appear to be this for the various Alternate Universes. Each world has a master stone which allows its particular "reality" to exist, and removing or destroying this stone may have catastrophic consequences.
  • Cucumber Quest has the Disaster Stones, which, if all gathered, can be used to resurrect the Nightmare Knight.
  • Emergency Exit: The main cast was assigned to collect "artifacts" in order to save someone's world from destruction, but it turns out to be a flat out lie and now nobody seems to know what they are for. It is shown that each artifact has a minor power, but implied that they do something far more spectacular when put together (hence an alternative collective name for them, "The Puzzle").
  • Kill Six Billion Demons has the Magus Keys, which are tuning forks for the 777,777 voices of YISUN when they told Creation into being. Each Magus Key allows its wielder to attune to one of YISUN's voices and control one of the 777,777 universes that make up Creation. Currently, each of the Demiurges hold 111,111 Keys each, and if one of them were to be misplaced or stolen it would do terrible things for the Balance of Power between them.
  • The Order of the Stick: The five Gates are somewhat more reasonably founded than most examples: they were placed over flaws in space-time in order to keep the Snarl, the local Sealed Evil in a Can canned. And the gods could indeed fix it and, in fact, have done so countless times, in the same way you can fix a horribly screwed-up computer by formatting and reinstalling... (which is to say, by starting over with a fresh world). The gods would do that if the Snarl is ever freed, so the protagonists are working to prevent it from being freed in the first place, for obvious reasons.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: The Resurrection canon has the Bloom, a sort of reality anchor located under the Yellowstone super volcano (making it the most stable location in reality, and the perfect place for SCP-2000, the Foundation's reset button). The "petals" of the Bloom is covered in inscriptions that function as an activation code. If the code is fulfilled, the Bloom can be used to reset reality to a more stable state. It's apparently destroyed by Able at the beginning of the canon, and replaced by the Thorn.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The spirits of the moon and ocean, bored with existence in the spirit world, came to live in the mortal world in the form of koi fish. If they are killed, the part of nature they represent (or the effect it has on other objects or something) will be gone forever.
    • Although one of them is smart enough to heal someone in exchange for them becoming a backup spirit. In essence, the spirits take mortal form as a way of maintaining the balance of the cycles of the world. The destruction of one puts the other out of balance, in a manner which would destroy the world's cycles disastrously.
    • The Legend of Korra: The Avatar Spirit is revealed to be not the spirit of the world, but rather a spirit of Light and Order named Raava. Raava dying in itself wouldn't have any horrible effects, light and order could still exist. It's just that, while she spends 10,000 years regenerating, her Evil Counterpart Vaatu, the spirit of Darkness and Chaos, would have free rein to wreck havoc.
  • Barbie & The Diamond Castle: The plot involves the heroines trying to keep the titular castle and the instruments in it out of the villain's hands, lest the world turn to "shadows and sorrow." The villain's actual goal in gaining the castle is to solidify her position as the only muse and rule all music, but those side effects will occur, apparently.
  • Code Lyoko: Entering "Code XANA" into a Way Tower will destroy the sector it is in. Furthermore, Lyoko can be deleted all at once by destroying the "Core of Lyoko" in Sector 5.
  • Futurama: "The Farnsworth Parabox" features a box containing the universenote . Played for laughs, as, even with warnings that it had to be treated as dearly as life itself, the box is shaken to listen for anything rattling inside (causing a small earthquake) and sat on (stretching out the picture horizontally).
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Orchid Bay City has three touchstones that protect the Veil, which the finale villain Auntie Roon can only destroy the stones with magic of the elders. She does so by corrupting the protagonist into a mindless monster.
  • Magi-Nation has the eleven Dream Stones. Actually, there's twelve; the Core has one, too. If they are brought together, they form the Core Glyph, which can seal Agram away for good. However, if Agram and the Shadow Magi get them, Agram can break free of the Core.
  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation: The planet Eternia was the first planet in the universe, given birth by magic and sustained and connected all other planets through that magic. Should Eternia die, all worlds will die with it. The Sword of Power is the Keystone for Eternia, as it is what links Eternia to the magic that sustains it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Tree of Harmony, which prevents the Everfree Forest from overtaking the rest of Equestria. Not to mention how it spawned the Elements of Harmony (and eventually "upgraded" them into the Rainbow Power), which are needed for a World-Healing Wave whenever some Eldritch Abomination or Physical God causes significant damage.
    • The Crystal Empire is said to be able to turn its ruler into a Fisher King over the rest of Equestria. Unfortunately for everypony, King Sombra nearly takes advantage of this twice, wanting to turn the world into a giant Mordor. Fortunately, after he's ultimately destroyed, Princess Cadance and Shining Armor take advantage of this to keep the world running normally. The Season 5 finale, which explores multiple "What if?" scenarios, goes into specifics about what would've happened if he wasn't destroyed: not only would Equestria be covered in his dark crystals, but he would even be willing to Mind Rape the Empire's inhabitants into becoming his soldiers. And Celestia and her own army would only be able to slow him down at best.
  • Pirates of Dark Water had thirteen treasures which kept the evil, omnivorous Dark Water from escaping. The show's central premise is recovering them before it's unsealable.
  • The Secret Saturdays: The eponymous pin in "The Atlas Pin", which was created by the Atlanteans to lock key tectonic plates in place. Tampering with it causes devastating worldwide earthquakes. Removing it will destroy the planet.
  • Sonic Prime: The Paradox Prism. Not only did Sonic smashing it create the Shatterspaces, it destroyed the original world in the process.
  • ThunderCats (1985) had scads of these. Most of the second season was taken up recovering the sacred treasures of Thundera in order to restore and stabilize said planet after it was originally destroyed.
  • Turtles Forever has an entire dimension and group of the eponymous Turtles as a Cosmic Keystone for the entire Multiverse. Called "Turtles Prime", it is, basically, issue #1 of the original Mirage comic book series and its native TMNT. Destroy it, and the Turtles Multiverse will literally be erased from reality in position.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series: People with Psychic Powers proved to be Cosmic Keystones when brought together, as killing them all at once would have allowed Apocalypse to remake the universe in his image. Albeit only if it was done in the Axis of Time, a kind of convergence of history existing outside of time. Plus, being in the Axis increases the psychics' powers, such that all of them gathered together collectively overpowered Apocalypse. So somewhat more stable than most Cosmic Keystones.


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Alternative Title(s): Cosmic Keystones


The Great Clock

The Great Clock was designed to maintain the space-time continuum after the Fongoids accidentally endangered it through their mishandling of time-travel. If the Great Clock were to be destroyed or misused, it could end the universe.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / CosmicKeystone

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