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"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."
— Attributed to Margaret Mead

In multi-player video games, particularly MMORPGs, it's common for there to be as many copies of a "quest item" as there are people taking the quest. This trope describes when these quest items should logically be unique within the world. The most extreme case is probably when this is a specific named individual's head (heart, liver, pancreas, left testicle; whatever); it's also common with bits of a unique magical beast or just items that should be impossible to reproduce, such as a specific lost piece of jewelry or an Artifact of Doom that canonically can't be made anymore.

This can get downright ridiculous when everyone in your party needs a MacGuffin to complete the quest, so in one instance, there turn out to be enough copies for each and every one of you. If Sir Bob and his four cohorts are on a mission to retrieve the head of Baron Evilpants, well, you're in luck! Turns out that while he looks like a normal human being during battle, Evilpants has five heads! There's Enough to Go Around! (Actually, most of the time looting someone's head won't actually change their model. One can only assume that Evilpants had five severed heads in his pockets, each of them identical to his own. So, six in total.)

And of course there are also enough Barons Evilpants to go around so all the following groups can also each kill one.

However, as logically absurd as this is, it's definitely an Acceptable Break From Reality. If you have hundreds of thousands or even millions of players, allowing only one person in the entire game world to complete a quest vital for advancement would be seen grossly unfair. Just check out this trope's opposite, Loot Drama, for proof that Tropes Are Not Bad.

This can be partially justified by portraying each player as functioning with his or her "own" timeline in the larger world (don't even expect a Hand Wave regarding how these people interact when they're outside of their quests), but it still doesn't explain how a single instance can yield as many copies of a necessary unique item as there are players going in together. Probably best not to ask.

See also: Acceptable Breaks from Reality, Rule of Fun.


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    Adventure Games 
  • In Carte Blanche protagonist Edgar needs to slap Luigi Strozzi with a herring to wake him up every time he wants to talk to him. Thankfully, there are infinite herrings in the Strozzi household kitchen.
  • In Uru: Ages Beyond Myst each age has a different instance for each player due to the difficulty of turning a Myst-type puzzle game into an MMORPG. An attempt was made to justify this with the Bahro. You can, however, invite other players into your own instance of the age, if you need some help or just to have some company while wandering around.

    Hack and Slash 
  • In online Diablo play, quests will yield as many MacGuffins as there are players completing them, even when said MacGuffins are one-of-a-kind items. As an exception, the scroll with the solution to the Cairn Stones, the Horadric Malus and the Hellforge Hammer only drop once.
  • Pirate Hunter have the player's titular character being accompanied in each level by a few AI-controlled redcoats. If the player managed to obtain power-ups (like the burning cutlass or freeze blade) within vicinity of any redcoats, the redcoat allies will gain the exact same power-ups as the player.

  • Very common in World of Warcraft, where one can imagine some unique enemies are not only "really" thousands of people, but that each of those people has lots of heads.
    • Possibly subverted in the same. For the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj event, only one player could actually complete the quest to open the gates. This player was thusly awarded a unique mount, the only one on the server. The mount was actually available for anyone turning in the quest during the duration of the World Event which occurred once the quest was first handed in (about 12 hours), but due to the low number of top end raiding guilds at the time (which were the players who made the scepter to open the gates) there was generally only 1 per server. The quest could still be completed up until the Cataclysm revamp, but did not reward the mount - only a choice of weapon.
    • Yet some raid bosses whose bodyparts can be turned in at the correct NPC only ever have one such bodypart. Kael'thas can carry up to 25 vial remnants (which are unique, story-wise), yet the player can only loot 1 verdant sphere (of which he has 3 visible in-game).
    • This extends beyond quest items, which are at least unique — you can possess multiple copies of the same weapon. For a few days after patch 3.3, players could dual-wield two copies of the supposedly unique sword Quel'Delar before it was made "unique-equipped" in a hotfix.
    • This also goes for the loot system in the Looking for Raid and Flexible formats. Instead of having the players argue who gets one of the few items that dropped, every player automatically gets something - usually a bag of gold.
  • City of Heroes:
    • The character can go through a whole story arc based around retrieving a MacGuffin, bring it to the mystic Azuria at the end, and be immediately followed by another character bringing the exact same unique MacGuffin. This, coupled with some of the storylines concerning Azura and stolen Plot Coupons, has led the community to the only logical conclusion/fanwank: Azuria is an idiot who shouldn't be trusted with combing her hair.
    • Before the game added cooperative victory as an option, where multiple players with the same mission could complete it just by running one teammate's copy of it, you would frequently have issues where a team of players would not only recover the same item or rescue the same person several times in a row, but from a different location each time!
  • In Final Fantasy XI, this is par for the course except for the "multiple heads" variation; fortunately, a lot of the "unique" objects are key items and thus invisible to other players. However, the quest to unlock the Dragoon job is an egregious example, as every single player is treated as though they are the first to revive the dead tradition of the Dragoon. Even several years after the job's addition to the game, with hundreds of level 75 Dragoons on each server. Huh?!
  • In the Pirate Outfit quest in Tibia, every player is set the task of assassinating a rival pirate captain and frame the results by retrieving his favourite pillow and presenting it as evidence. You'd think the contractor of the assassination would catch on around the time he'd knee deep in pillows.
  • Used and averted in Kingdom of Loathing. While everyone gets supposedly one-of-a-kind items (and in fact, due to ascension, you can have multiple unique items, like a belt made from the skull of the Bonerdagon and the skin of the Boss Bat), there are a few items, like the Rainbow Pearl and Strange Tiki Idol, of which only a few were implemented and which were obtained first-come first-serve. And there are now a few things which just become harder to acquire the more people have them (or possibly the more which have been found, which isn't the same thing), so that nobody's really sure if there's a hard cap or not.
  • Happens with a few quests in zOMG!, such as rescuing Farmer Bill's prize cow. Personal experience includes seeing a half-dozen cows labeled "Stoocie" gathered around Bill after a crew had just turned in the quest. Other supposedly unique items exist only in text, such as Mark's ring and Klaus's "clocken".
  • Averted in Mabinogi. When new storylines are added that result in whole new regions (towns, dungeons etc...) they are initially covered by Seal stones that have specific requirements to break. They can only be broken once ever giving the breaker a unique title. And a little signpost appears announcing who broke the stone. Additionally, when a party completes a quest that requires running a specific dungeon to get one specific item, the item will only drop once. Due to some glitches, it behooves the players to know who needs to pick up the item and if it can be traded or not.
  • In a variant, each player in Billy vs. SNAKEMAN has a separate instance of most NPCs, and most of those are a fresh instance each Season.
  • In MapleStory, quest items only exist for those who need them. Those players can see and obtain the items but for everyone else the items are nowhere in the gameworld.
  • In RuneScape, you can see multiple people walking around with one-of-a-kind weapons that are the rewards from different quest. Plus, any item you need in a quest that is given to you can be destroyed and reobtained, usually at no cost. For instance if you're given the only existing copy of an important diary, you can destroy it somewhere in the middle of nowhere or on an entirely separate plane of reality. When you go back to the person who gave you the item, they claim to have either had another copy all along, or even more improbably, claim that somebody else saw you drop it (In a deserted alternate universe?) and returned it to them. Perhaps this is just because they are Clingy MacGuffins.
  • Star Trek Online averts this in quest pickups by using Event Flags instead of inventory items for most things mission-critical. It then plays it entirely straight with certain items tagged as "Unique" — meaning every player gets to own exactly one of each.
  • Spiral Knights: crowns, heat, and tokens are duplicated for every party member when picked up. Recovery hearts are instanced for each player, so your teammates can't steal your health. After the introduction of missions, everybody plays a vital part in "discovering" the nature of the Clockworks and learning the fate of Alpha Squad. Crafting materials are given to a random party member when picked up.
  • Particularly odd in Rift, in which the player character suffered from this. The introduction/tutorial for the Defiant faction has the player in the far future at the end of the world. As the last survivor, they are gifted great power and sent back in time... where they immediately encounter hundreds of other "last survivors". To make matters worse, the first couple of NPCs you talk to actually comment on what an amazingly unique character you are, but after that no-one ever comments on how almost the entire faction consists of people all in exactly the same unique and unreproducible situation.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter Freedom Unite: It's possible to carve two tongues out of a popo (read: Wooly Mammoth).
    • Monster Hunter 3 Tri takes it to absurd lengths. If you kill a smaller monster, its corpse disappears like normal when you carve an item(s) from it, but it remains on your partners' screens until they carve from it also. It's justified with carving items from larger monsters, as their corpse doesn't disappear after you've carved all items from it... except that it raises the question of how your partners can carve more items while you can't when the corpse is still there.
  • Pokémon:
    • In multiplayer play, while a given Pokémon may be unique within the game world, it's easy for two players to stage a battle using the "same" unique Pokémon. Through trading, one player can even acquire multiple members of the one-per-game species.
    • On a more meta level, IVs were created to give each Pokemon a unique "personality", then Abilities and Natures were added for even more diversity. However, once players figured out how to pass on these traits through breeding, most competitive Pokemon of the same species will have the same IVs, moves, Nature, and Ability. So any two of a given Pokemon in the competitive scene will be practically identical.
    • In Pokémon GO, a large number of players can all work together to fight a single Pokemon in a Raid Battle. If they all win together, each individual is given a chance to catch it, with everyone getting their own copy to catch.
  • There were exactly five of the ring thingies that protected one from the radiation of the big bad in Phantasy Star IV. Thus conveniently explaining why only one of your previous party members could rejoin the main group for the final battle.
  • Realmz, an old Macintosh shareware RPG, had an especially evil version of this. While the game was single-player, it still had some exceptionally powerful items tagged as "Unique." Multiple copies of these items were present across various scenarios, but if you tried to pick another up when you were already carrying one, the game would note that you already have it, causing the item to retroactively vanish.
  • The first Knights of the Old Republic avoided this, mostly. Unless you exploited a few of the Good Bad Bugs, items like the Cassus Fett armor or the Circlet of Saresh were one of a kind. In the sequel, Obsidian took over and randomized the loot, which could lead to some accidental funny moments as you'd end up with a few dozen copies of something like Jolee's robes.
  • In Mass Effect 2, when you pick up a single firearm lying around, you suddenly have enough copies for all current and future squadmates who are proficient with a given weapon class. This is somewhat Justified by the Normandy SR-2 having an extensive tech lab and fabrication equipment that can assemble new guns as needed once you have the schematics or a sample gun to reverse engineer, though it still doesn't explain why you can use the new guns immediately other than to avoid the frustration of having to wait until you get back to the ship.

  • The first Noob novel has this happen with a Quest Giver. A quest consists in part of following a Non-Player Character to a certain location, but everyone is doing it a the same time. As a consequence, each Player Party quite visibly has its own copy of the same guy. In addition, if someone who has been so far working alone joins a group, the two copies fuse into one; a character observing this immediately thinks of the "boss has enough heads for everyone in the group to get one" phenomenon.