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Day-Old Legend

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So you've got Item Crafting. And you've got Flavor Text. And then you mix them together, and you get Blatant Lies.

Supposedly you first create so-and-so item, let's call it a Fire Sword, five minutes ago. Flavor text will tell of how the sword was used in an ancient battle between wizards 500 years ago. "What the heck? I made the darn thing TODAY!"

There are some possibilities here. Perhaps the item was made, then became Excalibur in the Rust; but Rusty Excalibur had its own name and legend. Maybe you've merely rediscovered an old formula. Maybe you're not actually crafting a new weapon, but using some sort of Summon Magic to call the item from wherever it's resting. Maybe it'll go back in time after you're done with it and have been used then. Maybe in this universe items can be reincarnated. Maybe An Entrepreneur Is You, and not a very honest one at that. Or maybe the flavor text is describing not this particular sword but another one of the same type and ability to give you an idea of what your new weapon is capable of.

...Then again, maybe we're overthinking it...? Justified, somewhat, in that eBay users tend to do the same thing, fluffing their sold items with an Informed Ability or two. Perhaps this is just a way to "add value" to a newly made item.


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    Action RPG 
  • NieR can be guilty of this: Take your weapons to be upgraded and you get some backstories claiming that the weapon once caused an ancient tragedy. There's a reason for this. Nier is a direct sequel to one of Drakengard's (most infuriating) endings. Most, if not all, of those weapons were Caim's. Not to mention that Nier and the blacksmith don't create any of the weapons. You find or buy them all, the blacksmith is just improving or restoring them.
  • Averted in Drakengard (where, in both games, weapons reveal their histories as they increase in level) in two ways: one, you don't craft weapons, but instead unlock them, so you're not just making ancient weapons from scratch; and two, the starting weapons of your characters in the second game... have the backstories of their wielders as their histories.
  • The Monster Hunter series abounds in this, justified in that hunting is a business that has been going on for hundreds of years, and as long as you have sufficient materials you can make endless duplicates, thus implying that all the backstoried weapons you use are simply replicas of the versions that made the legends.
  • Diablo III:
    • There's a blacksmith that can make various weapons and armor using plans you find in the world. Some of those items can also be found from monster drops, but quite a few cannot. That doesn't stop them from having descriptions like 'forged by demons' attached though. Maybe he's outsourcing his labor?
    • A later patch added Kanai's cube, which has several uses, among them the ability to upgrade a rare item into a legendary item of the same type. (for example, a rare helm into a legendary helm). This means that a legendary item obtained using the cube can have a flavor text describing an ancient, extremely powerful item, even though it was just a few minutes ago a plain, not really notable item.
  • Played straight and subverted in Dark Souls. Many weapons you upgrade get the normal treatment, but a few of the truly unique weapons require using the soul of their owner to forge them, implying that you are literally remaking that legend again.
    • Dark Souls III implies that some of the soul-transposed weapons are actually the originals, and the boss soul is simply a gameplay abstraction. For example, the Hollowslayer Greatsword and Arstor's Spear are described as being the actual weapons used by Lucatiel of Mirrah and Sir Arstor of Carim respectively, found within the body of the Curse-Rotted Greatwood, and transposing them is just a gameplay mechanic allowing you to pick one to take with you retroactively.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: Invoked; several of the challenges are simply to set up heroic deeds that the Wraith wants to apply to the legends of Talion's weapons as he reforges them.

    Eastern RPG 
  • The Star Ocean games do this a lot. It's possible you're just recreating the item for whatever planet you're on; and the Flavor Text is aimed at us, the audience; but still.
  • Infinite Undiscovery: Upgraded weapons have different backstories.
  • Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale: The fire bracelet I made caused the centuries-old desert? Really? As far as the customer is concerned, yes. It helps that the seller is a little girl with a big imagination.
    • However, the descriptions were true when they appeared in its predecessor, Chantelise.
  • Almost every weapon in Dark Cloud will do this upon building it up. Doubled in that they often have different, completely unrelated backstories for every upgrade. Somewhat justified, because you can find some of these weapons in high-level dungeons.
  • Certain Pokémon have Pokédex entries that state that they were formed from certain things such as the spirits of deceased people, or were originally inanimate objects that were brought to life through unknown methods. Yet they can be hatched from eggs just like almost any non-legendary Pokémon.
  • In Fantasy Life, there are two ways of getting an item depending on the way you play: buying it or making it yourself. The trope inevitably shows up in the latter case. It gets lampshaded by a scarecrow that can be obtained only by playing a carpenter and making it yourself: according to its Flavor Text, it somehow already has bite marks on it.
  • Final Fantasy XII averts this. It's implied that the materials you sell eventually end up in the hands of craftsmen that make the stuff you buy there, but the best weapons are usually replicas of legendary weapons that are themselves nowhere to be found.
  • Digimon games tend to have elaborate lore for every given Digimon, especially if they're Perfect/Ultimate or above. It often describes them as being part of a powerful organization or having a specific background. Despite this, you can usually get at least one Digimon to become one of them through good old-fashioned Digivolution, without needing to join any such organization.

    Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game 
  • Kingdom of Loathing
    • The game used to spoof this by giving each class a starting weapon that can be upgraded to an Epic Weapon, then Legendary Epic Weapon, then Ultimate Legendary Epic Weapon, but that was changed (now the Epic Weapon is actually a unique weapon found in the tomb of an ancient warrior, rather than being constructed by the player).
    • It also spoofs this by having the Accordion Thief's ULEW have a legend about something that hasn't happened yet. "It's even whispered that Shelia the Creeper used it to assassinate the villainous Pope Flaunchett VIII, though it'll be a while before that can be confirmed, since the current Pope of the Kingdom of Loathing is Flaunchett VI."
    • The pixel whip subverts it: "This legendary vampire-slaying whip has been in your family for generations. No, wait, I'm thinking of a different whip. This one was made out of brown pixels by a crazy guy in a shed in the woods."
    • There is a deconstruction with the description of Trusty., the only weapon you're allowed to equip when playing as the Avatar of Boris.
    Not every magical weapon is forged of meteorite iron under an unusual planetary conjunction, inscribed with gilded runes of ancient power, and imbued with supernatural strength and sharpness through mystical rites and sorcerous incantations. In truth, many of the most powerful weapons of lore are possessed of far humbler beginnings — common metal, torn from an enemy's grasp in a dire emergency. If the warrior survives the day, the weapon will likely be kept. Polished, sharpened, and re-sharpened, it will be carried from battle to battle, becoming as much a part of the man as his own arm, and as his name rises from warrior to hero to legend, so too will an aura of reverence and awe begin to surround the blade. Legend and belief are powerful forces, and it should be no surprise that a powerful artifact might have become powerful simply by dint of everyone believing it to be powerful. That is, after all, where the gods came from.
  • Zigzagged in Dawn of the Dragons.
    • Most Legendary craftable items do not have any past history, and are only assumed to be powered up and ready for use.
    • The Hauberk of Gold is crafted by combining a magical essence with a "championship belt" get a chestpiece that is said to have been worn by a hero many centuries before, and had divine gold used to fashion the overlaying chains.
  • Almost every piece of equipment in Dofus can be crafted, along with just about anything with a practical use. This doesn't prevent you from crafting an item with some long historical background. Nor does it prevent several of the item existing at once.
  • Several of the artifact weapons from the Legion expansion of World of Warcraft were never mentioned in the lore prior to said expansion, while others have been mentioned before, such as Talonclaw, the Scythe of Elune, the Kingslayers, or Ashbringer.
  • Averted in Final Fantasy XIV with Relic Weapons, depending on the expansion:
    • In A Realm Reborn, you specifically go out to find the legendary weapon, and it's in terrible shape. You then use a specific non-legendary weapon as a base to have a smith reforge the weapon, and then increase its power through various actions until it ceases to be the legendary weapon and instead becomes an even more powerful legendary weapon, specifically using the power of aether and magic to transcend.
    • In Heavensward, you're approached to create what the designer hopes will become a legendary weapon, by using a heretofore unknown and potentially dangerous technique to give your weapon sentience and sapience through sheer power and incredible craftsmanship.
    • In Shadowbringers, the legendary weapons were lost entirely and cannot be found or reforged. So instead the smiths work to create new weapons inspired by those legendary weapons, including using the same names, and end up making them even better using modern techniques.
    • In Endwalker, there's no talk about legendary weapons at all. Instead, you just have the Impossible Blacksmith team up with another Impossible Blacksmith, use techniques that make no sense ("Why am I being oiled by up a mythical concoction that includes sweat?"), and turn out some of the greatest weapons ever made through sheer ingenuity, craftsmanship, and rare materials. And also a lot of weirdly oiled up men.
    Multiplayer Online Battle Arena 
  • Dota 2: Applies to most of the items that can be crafted, especially those that cost at least 1,000 gold to obtain. Apparently, the Shadow Blade was used by a former king, and the Silver Edge that the Shadow Blade can be crafted into was used to assassinate a corrupt king, only for the kingdom to descend into civil war. This makes even less sense if multiple heroes in a game get a Shadow Blade or Silver Edge of their own.
    Rail Shooter 
  • Played straight in Kid Icarus: Uprising when fusing weapons to get new, hopefully better ones. This is justified, as all of Pit's weapons are replicas of the originals. Replicas that can be noticeably worse or far superior to the flavor text you read about the originals. Fusing is based on the "serial numbers" the replica's creator puts on each weapon.
  • Played with in CarnEvil. The Protagonist has been drawn to the grave by an old legend about an evil carnival, and Tökkentäkker's grave is dated 1898. Yet a lot of it seems to have been based on very modern carnivals, including things like a tilt-a-whirl, a Food Court, and a bumper car attraction that's designed as a nostalgic throwback to The '50s. This is likely due to previous victims from that era influencing what would be added as new attractions.
  • Dwarf Fortress will have engravers start depicting epic events on the walls and precious items of the fortress as soon as the event has happened. Maybe they're just vain. It's even possible, thanks to a particular bug involving sequestered items (ones dwarves can't get to, and don't necessarily realize they can't get to), to have an artifact contain decorations depicting the artifact itself (presumably including its decorations...) as well as the event of its completion.
    Western RPG 
  • Averted in Neverwinter Nights, where a weapon or piece of armor made by in-game will have the flavor text describe it being made by the specific blacksmith, in the current year and for the current campaign but in the same style as the "ancient" equipment so it feels like the player is crafting their legend for future adventurers as they play the game.
    • Played straight in the Expansion Pack Hordes of The Underdark. The game take place only a few months later and you find the über version of those same items, only they have new backstories.
  • A recurring feature of the Might and Magic games is the presence of ores of various qualities which can be brought to craftsmen and used to make equipment. With the best ores, you have a chance of making equipment which is not merely ancient, but unique and legendary. In the sixth game, one of the enchantments which can appear on equipment is the "antique" modifier which multiplies the item's value by ten. By using the Enchant Item on unenchanted items, you may randomly turn them into antiques.
  • In the Dragon Age series:
    • Played With in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, where you can have an Infinity +1 Sword crafted by the Ultimate Blacksmith from ancient dragonbone, which immediately gets a Codex entry and even a line in the epilogue—but not because of its past history, but because of its future history. In other words, you create a weapon so ridiculously overpowered that the game gives it its own legend as an advance payment.
    • In Dragon Age II, killing a nameless high dragon will let you loot her Fire Gland, which, in turn, can be crafted by a local enchanter into an amulet named Urzara's Tooth. This unlocked a Codex entry, which claims that Urzara's Tooth is a 200-year-old relic of a dragon-worshipping cult. The codex entry has since been patched out.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the various Daedric artifacts are a justified example, as the associated deity chooses how the artifact manifests in the physical realm. In some cases, this means the item comes into existence right before your eyes, and also justifies the changing appearance and properties of the items throughout the series. For example, in Skyrim, The Savior's Hide armor is made from the skin of a werewolf you just slew. Further, it looks nothing like it did in previous appearances in Battlespire, Morrowind, and Oblivion, and has a different enchantment in each game. (Resist Magic, but at varying strengths, while Skyrim adds Resist Poison as well.
  • Justified in Baldur's Gate II, as weapons like the Flail of Ages and Vorpal Blade are ancient artifacts that were broken and you're getting them repaired and returned to their original power. Other craftable items are stated to be either something newly created (like the Dragon Scale Armors, made from the hides of dragons you fight in the game) or old items that have attained new power beyond what they originally had thanks to upgrades you've given them.

    Non Video Game examples 
  • The Neverending Story explores this idea in-depth, as Bastian can create whole worlds from scratch, and they come with their own history and mythology, even if Bastian did not think this up himself.
  • Lampshaded by Lord Business to Vitruvius in The LEGO Movie:
"What an amazing, inspiring prophecy, that you just made up."
  • Happens to entire countries in the Ravenloft setting, where new realms that coalesce out of the Mists upon a new darklord's arrival come complete with their own "ancient" legends and histories.
  • A non-literary variant in The Warlords Of Nin, where the hero is told tales of the legendary sword Zahligkeer, which he will need to defeat the titular villain. When he asks where to find this sword, he is told that it doesn't yet exist and he needs to make it. Apparently, the legends were in fact prophecies that for some inexplicable reason refer to the sword in the past tense.
  • Garrett, P.I.: Garrett suspects this is true of Toetickler, a club he buys from a a passing dwarf when he's chasing someone and needs a weapon. The dwarf claims it's a Legendary Weapon to jack up the price.
  • In the MegaMan NT Warrior Manga, Bass Cross Mega Man is called the "Legendary Berserker". He first showed up, like, thirty seconds before his christening.
  • The Mighty Hercules: Even though the Mask kept having the Mask of Vulcan taken away from him, he could just craft another one. (In one case, he made one not only for himself, but for the Nemean Lion)
  • The Review Team, "Strife And Liberty": The Hyper Evolved Dragons. Only 4 have been known to ever exist. Basil even says they shaped landmasses!
  • Wreck-It Ralph plays with this with Calhoun's backstory, by merit of giving her a backstory at all. In it, she fell in love with a co-worker named Dr. Brad Scott years ago, who then proceeded to die to a Cybug just before they got married. Hero's Duty, the game Calhoun comes from, is implied to have only been brought in to the arcade very recently, making it impossible for this to have actually happened to the Calhoun we see in the movie. Also applies to most of the games in general, with Ralph and Felix having the origin story of Ralph's stump being moved over to a dump nearby the Nicelanders' apartment complex, with Felix having obtained his magic hammer from his father, who doesn't exist in the game itself, and the Sugar Rush racers having their memories altered by King Candy to believe that Vanellope was never a real racer, and was always a glitch.
  • The Last Continent sees a character question whether the ancient cave paintings that have been there for thousands of years had been there for thousands of years last week. The whole eponymous continent is called that because it was added much later, but it's also as old as the others.
    Scrappy: Thirty thousand years ago, they were made a million years ago.