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Evolving Weapon

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Just as characters can get stronger and change overtime, so too can some weapons. Absolutely no modifications are made to these weapons, they just get stronger over time. Typically justified with a Living Weapon or Empathic Weapon or a weapon born of its user's power. Occasionally the weapon has a sort of vampiric nature, and gets stronger by drinking the blood of its enemies.

Having an evolving weapon allows the hero to carry it throughout extended lengths of gameplay without the weapon becoming obsolete and underpowered, thus making it a bit of a trademark of the hero and highlighting how awesome it is. By unlocking its powers bit by bit, you also avoid having a weapon too good for early game.


Alternatively, there is a second way this works. Instead of the power gain being permanent, sometimes it is only temporary. Maybe it unlocks some of the weapon's hidden abilities, or there might have been something special about what was just killed. Subtrope of Empathic Weapon and Equipment Upgrade. Can serve as a Full Potential Upgrade or keep that trope from occurring in the first place.

Examples of permanently evolving weapons

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     Anime and Manga  

  • The Dragon Slayer from Berserk has become an anathema to Demons thanks to Guts relentlessly killing them with it for three years, to the point that even incorporeal beings can be hurt by the massive sword.
  • In Black Clover, every mage's grimoire begins with empty pages. As a mage trains and undergoes personal development, the grimoire grows alongside its mage, with new spells inscribed onto the blank pages.
  • In Bleach, Ichigo's zanpakuto Zangetsu keeps evolving since the Deicide arc. When he learns his ultimate attack, the form of his Bankai changed. Then, when Ichigo got his power back, Zangetsu's appearance changed completely in both, his Shikai and Bankai form. And in the current arc, when Ichigo knows the origin of his zanpakuto and gained his own asauchi, he got Zangetsu's true form, a pair of a short sword and a long sword. Notably, it's only in Ichigo's case because zanpakuto usually don't evolve at all, they just have two released forms, Shikai and Bankai.
  • Buso Renkin: While all buso renkin improve and change as their wielder grows in strength and experience, those wielded by warriors becoming a Victor do so to a far greater degree. In the second half of the series, this happens to Kazuki's Sunlight Heart shrinks in size and weight, internalises its energy and becomes able to produce a size-changing energy blade.
  • In D.Gray-Man, Allen Walker's anti-Akuma weapon (his left arm) evolves over the course of the series. At the beginning, it's a gnarly, deformed red arm and all he can transform it into is a giant unwieldy claw. Thanks to a healthy dose of rage and Heroic Resolve, it evolves and becomes capable of transforming into an Arm Cannon and a Laser Blade. After gaining a greater understanding of his weapon and achieving a higher synchronization rate, his arm becomes smoother and less disfigured, and his hand can transform into a much sleeker claw. He also gains body armor in the form of a cape, hood and mask. After breaking the critical point, Allen gains the ability to rip his entire arm off and transform it into a Big Fancy Sword.
  • High School D×D: Ddraig explains this is the case for Boosted Gear. Only its most fundamental property - doubling the user's power every ten seconds - is consistent for every wielder, its other abilities depend on the needs and personality of the one wearing it. In Issei's case, early examples are developing Boosted Gear Gift to transfer the power boost to more capable allies (compensating for the fact he starts the series woefully underpowered), and then a second gem on the gauntlet itself that glows when he has enough Boosts saved up to overpower his current enemy (allowing Ddraig to easily help Issei along when he's still no good at sensing magic).
  • Inuyasha:
    • Inuyasha's sword, Tessaiga, explicitly has the ability to get stronger by killing things and gaining related abilities. note 
    • Bankotsu, another InuYasha villain, had a weapon called Banryu that gained demonic power after killing 1000 humans and 1000 demons.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, if an Intelligent Device is damaged and its wielder defeated, expect the Device to invoke this during its repairs by requesting parts or upgrades that it didn't have before. Most notably, this is how Nanoha and Fate got their Mid Season Upgrades during A's.
  • This is basically the entire premise of Soul Eater.
    • Looking at what the Weapons can do to witches in the hands of meisters allied with Shibusen, one wonders what exactly Arachne was thinking. The 'Heretic' not only killed her fellow witches For Science (used the Book of Eibon to put into practice something that had never been done...for no clear reason), but gave one willing to wipe out almost her entire race for his own sense of justice (Shinigami might have fair reason, but his methods are questionable) a really effective way of doing so.
    • Probably because the weapons are just as effective on anyone, Witch or not. They just got hijacked by her enemy after she made the first few.
  • The ∀ Gundam has this going for it for several reasons, some being closer to this trope while others are a straight example of Mid-Season Upgrade. First, Loran uses the instructions manual to find out about all the Gundam's various systems. Two, the grit and grime that was inhibiting its power system gradually falls off, letting the Gundam use its full strength in battle. Three, weapons for it are found over the course of time, causing the machine to change from having a beam rifle that melts after one shot and antiquated maces to powerful beam sabers and a much more reliable beam cannon. And lastly, the revelation about the power of the Moonlight Butterfly and the Turn A's nanomachines.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth showcases this trope in its first season, in the form of the three main characters' Escudo weapons.


     Light Novels 

  • The Legendary Weapons in The Rising of the Shield Hero are capable of evolution. By feeding the gem of the weapon raw materials (stones, plants, bits of monsters, anything really), a new weapon form with new skills can be unlocked. By "mastering" each weapon form, the Heroes can use the various stats unlocked even while using other weapon forms. Naofumi the Shield Hero takes the time to max out every shield form he unlocks, including some more passive or supportive forms that make him an expert with potions and other items.


  • In The Zombie Knight, The various weapons that Hector summons up. They could be considered to be more of a representation of his increasing skills and powers as he gains the ability to more precisely summon metal and soul-strengthen it.
  • The Speculative Fiction novel The Practice Effect has a world where all tools follow this trope. The hero is from "the real world" and figures out that already well-made items from his world have a huge headstart.
    • Very unusually for this trope, devolution is in full effect; any man-made object is slowly shifting back into its near useless "ground state" while it remains unused. For the hero who arrived with goods intended for use on day one this is only a mild inconvenience but craftsmanship and production is at paleolithic levels on this planet.This means if a building remains unoccupied or a tool remains unused they'll both devolve into the worthless poorly secured mud, leaves and sticks they started out as. Well "Practiced" items do tend to become rather specialized; a farmer's pruning shears will over years or centuries become an ultra sharp indefatigable mono-crystal capable of slashing into granite without damage and the hero's robot buddy who never turns off and is thus in constant "use" tends to lose functionality not related to executing its instructions while quickly gaining any abilities that might be helpful in doing its job.
  • Harry Potter has the Sword of Gryffindor, which takes in what makes it stronger. After Harry uses it to slay a basilisk, it's permanently imbued with basilisk venom.

     Tabletop Games  

  • The Weapons of Legacy splat-book from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 is based around this. As you level up and take the appropriate Feats, your Legacy Weapon unlocks more and more abilities of scaling power.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Necromunda: The suits and equipment used by Spyrers on their hunts in the underhive are designed to increase in power and unlock more abilities as the wearer gains experience. In those editions of the game where Spyrers appear, this was handled in a manner similar to how normal gang fighters gained skills and characteristics, only improving the Spyrer's weapons and armour instead of the fighters themselves.
    • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: The Daemon Prince of Khorne, Mazarall The Butcher wields Harrow Meat, a mighty axe that hungers for the souls of its victims, permanently increasing its in-game characteristics for every enemy it kills during a game.
    • Warhammer 40,000: The Blade of the Relentless used by Kranon, Lord of the Crimson Slaughter, feeds upon the blood and souls of those it kills during battle, improving its in-game abilitiesnote  to make it far more deadly.
  • In Pugmire dogs can become "attuned" to a relic and unlock additional abilities as they level up. As a bonus, if the player decides to retire their character they can pass on the upgraded relic to their next character. Cats in Monarchies of Mau on the other hand can't upgrade relics but they can break them and absorb their powers, which they can then upgrade.
  • Each of the legendary magic items published in the Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting have an Awakened and Exalted State that can only be reached if a creature wielding the item overcomes an extreme personal challenge. This causes the offensive items to give a +2 bonus to attacks and damage when Awakened that increases to +3 when Exalted, while also increasing the size of any damage die the weapon adds to damage rolls and increasing the difficulty of any rolls enemies have to make resist the effects of the weapon. There are a host of other unique bonuses detailed in Critical Role proper or, for those items not featured in the stream, right here:
    • Agony, a torturer's flail, is unique is that it has a +2 bonus to attacks while Dormant and upgrades to a final bonus of +4. On top of that, the Awakened Agony allows it's wielder to make an additional attack when the weapon brings someone to 0 Hit points and gives any creature struck on it disadvantage on Strength rolls until the end of their next turn. When Exalted, it's so fearsome that a creature struck by a Critical Hit from it becomes frightened.
    • The Condemner only provides two Trick Arrow options until it is Awakened, when it can fire a paralysis arrow. Then, when it's Exalted, it can fire an arrow that contains a miniature blight inside of it.
    • When awakened, the Pyremaul can be used to cast the Area of Effect spell Burning Hands and can knock enemies on their back when it lands a Critical Hit. It does even more on a critical hit when it's exalted, dealing an additional 3d6 fire damage on top of the 6d6 fire and 2d10 bludgeoning damage it would normally do.
    • When the Wraps of Dyamak are awakened, a monk wearing them can teleport a short-distance once and can use that ability again if they score a Critical Hit. When exalted, the wraps allow their wearer to turn one of their punches into a Ravenous Strike that gives them a hit point for every point of damage they do.

     Video Games  

  • In Fable III, the first weapons you got are evolving weapons (It's not even a secret) that change depending on what you've done before upgrading the skill (Ranged changed your gun). So every player ends up with a unique weapon by the end of the game.
  • Wrath of the Lich King brought the joy of heirloom-type items to World of Warcraft. While the weapons and armor themselves don't grow because of their being used, they still count as Evolving Weapons because they scale to the character's level. This also means they can be recycled and can be used from 1 to 80 before being tossed onto another alt.
    • Go back one expansion, to The Burning Crusade, and you find a series of Blacksmith-crafted weapons, each of which can be upgraded twice to a more powerful version. Example: Lunar Crescent -> Mooncleaver -> Bloodmoon.
      • Come Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, you can reforge your equipment to alter its stats, and upgrade the power of your equipment gotten from heroic dungeons and raids. Further, recent patches now allow you to upgrade your heirlooms to scale to level 85. It's safe to say that World of Warcraft has gotten fond of this path to giving you legitimate gains in character power between running the gear treadmill each time a new raid releases.
    • The Legion expansion brought artifact weapons. Which you get right at the beginning and keep throughout the expansion, levelling them as you go via relics and artifact power. The weapons have their own talent tree attached to them which upgrades your character's power as you put more points into them. Unlike vanilla talent trees, however, you eventually get all the traits so you don't really have to pick and choose except for min-maxers that want to get certain traits before others to give them a power advantage early in the expansion.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The Chicken Knife in Final Fantasy V gains an attack point for every time the party has fled a battle. It can easily become the strongest weapon in the game.
      • The same game contains an inversion in the Brave Blade, which decreases in power every time the party flees a battle, essentially making it a devolving weapon.
    • The Atma Weapon/Ultima Weapon sword in Final Fantasy VI has an attack power that is a function of the Hit Points of the character wielding it. As they get stronger, so does the sword.
    • Vincent's Death Penalty gun in Final Fantasy VII does more damage with each enemy it kills. Kill about 65 thousand or so, and it'll glitch out and kill anything in one hit.
    • Conversely, the Tonberry's Knife/Grudge attacks in the Final Fantasy series have the enemy attack get stronger with each kill your characters make.
    • In Final Fantasy X, the sword Wakka gives to Tidus upgrades automatically when the party visits the Farplane, and Wakka is seen talking to the sword's former owner.
      • Also, all of the Ultimate weapons in Final Fantasy X are upgraded twice, once by finding a relatively easy key item to find, and again by finding a very difficult to obtain key item. They upgrade from Useless weapons which completely stop experience gain, to swords with an ability which also stops experience gain, finally to a weapon which breaks damage limit for both the character and Yuna's associated Aeon (summon) for them for no particular reason, increases experience gain and has several other abilities depending on the character (One MP cost for Lulu, Counterattack for Tidus etc.) In addition, the final form of each ultimate weapon has a hidden ability, which increases the attack power of the wielding character depending on a certain condition (it depends on the character). And just because all of that wasn't enough, they ignore the enemy's defense stat.
    • Final Fantasy XI added Trial weapons in the time between its 4th and 5th expansions. Weapons which began life as worthlessly weak lvl75 and through a series of quests could be evolved along a wide variety of paths. The vast majority of the quests required killing increasingly large numbers of specific types of enemies, including under specific weather conditions and also various rare-spawn Notorious Monsters. Depending which path you pursued it would result in a weapon with specific stat boosts, which boosted certain abilities types, offered multi-hits, defenses, or one of the top endgame weapons which provides a unique weaponskill. The Trial system was later expanded to be used to increase the level of Relic & Mythic weapons and Relic & Empyrean armor in increments of 5.
      • A lesser example is seen in the weapon provided to fledgling Dark Knights. Before becoming a Dark Knight the player is given a level 1 Greatsword which has maximum delay and an attack power of 1. The player must feed the weapon the blood of 100 enemies, by killing them with the weapon equipped, to become a Dark Knight. At which point they obtain a new stronger level 5 Greatsword. This new sword can be upgraded further by feeding the original sword an additional 100 souls, but few if any players ever bothered as it's still not useful past a very early level and is a waste of time.
    • Final Fantasy XIV adopted a similar system of mass grinding for upgrading the player's Relic weapons into Zodiac weapons, complete with customizable stats depending on how the player upgraded it during specific phases.
      • It continues on in Heavensward with the Anima weapons, Stormblood introducing the Eureka weapons and Shadowbringers introducing the Resistance weapons.
    • The Sequence in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance gets more powerful each time you get another copy of the sword. Come the sequel, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, and the sword returns once again, however now it powers up for every time the wielder has used an Opportunity command.
  • The Oni weapons in each Onimusha game, along with your armor and gauntlet, can be upgraded by absorbing enemy souls. There are three levels of evolution before they MAX out. The weapons, already covered in bling, get increasingly spiky and ornate with each evolution.
  • Pins that Neku uses in The World Ends with You will sometimes evolve if you kill enough Noise, or have on him while the DS is off or in mingle mode. You're never informed which needs which.
  • In both Dark Cloud and Dark Chronicle, weapons are leveled up by killing monsters with them. Many weapons can also literally evolve if you got their stats high enough.
  • The Muramasa in some Castlevania games will gain attack power as you kill enemies. Something about the sword being cursed and having to drink blood.
    • In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the Muramasa puts Alucard in permanent "Dark Metamorphosis" mode; meaning that he recovers health by touching the blood of enemies. The more blood he absorbs, the stronger the sword gets. As such, killing a skeleton won't do anything, but killing a merman will.
  • It occurs before the timeline of the games, but Soul Edge from the SoulCalibur series of games began as a normal sword, and eventually gained its demonic nature by being bathed in the blood of countless victims.
  • The Fell Arms in the Tales Series are recurring weapons that gain attack power for every enemy their wielder defeats and are by far the strongest weapons available once they're at maximum power (And usually well before that, too).
    • In the PSX version of Tales of Destiny, some of the characters have Swordians, special swords with personalities that can talk. They gain EXP along with their owner, and can level up to get stronger and learn new spells for their owners to use. While all the Swordian Masters of the party have other weapons that they can use, the spells and evolution of the Swordians tends to make them the weapon of choice.
    • The Sorcerer's Ring is this in Tales of Vesperia. Over the course of the game higher levels of aer(read magic) will make it shift and become stronger. The plot only requires it to get to level three but to complete the Fell Arms sidequest it has to get to level five.
    • Somas in Tales of Hearts. It's actually mentioned that they used to be tools for Journey to the Center of the Mind, but has been weaponized during Great Offscreen War and subsequently evolved to weapon forms. In gameplay they can be evolved to learn new skills and artes and become stronger. Moreover, Somas can change form and/or functions depending on its user. For example, The Hero's sword used to be an axe, when used by his grandfather, and The Lancer's crossbows can shoot paint when used by party's painter.
  • Every weapon used in the Ratchet & Clank series from Going Commando on, and in the Challenge Mode of the first game, if you've collected enough Gold Bolts.
  • Retro Mud has the Fellblade, which is essentially this.
  • Weapons in Front Mission: Gun Hazard work like this. So do the verniers. And the armor plates. And the Wanzers themselves (Wanzers and armor actually gain EXP by being hit).
  • Weapons in Cave Story can be leveled up by killing enemies, indirectly. The enemies drop little triangles, this game's stand-ins for EXP, which can be collected to level up your weapons. On the other hand, getting injured can de-level the weapon you're using. It's inverted for the Nemesis, one powerful end-game weapon which gets weaker when leveled up, so you have to avoid collecting energy triangles while wielding that weapon. Considering you've now got half a game of muscle memory telling you to grab the triangles, that's not so easy.
    • Averted with another end-game weapon, the Spur. It trades the evolving aspect that every other weapon in the game uses, for a Charged Attack mechanic instead. Considering that its weakest projectile is the exact same from the fully-evolved Polar Star, your starting gun, one can imagine how powerful it becomes once fully charged.
  • Fusion and Lumina from Brave Fencer Musashi. Each of them gradually gains strength whenever Musashi uses them to attack, and this is separate from his own strength stat. Fusion is also of the second type, as noted below.
  • Psyphers in Odin Sphere gain strength by absorbing Phozons, small bits of life force released whenever a living thing dies.
  • The Solar Gun Lenses in Boktai: The Sun Is In Your Hand inexplicably gain levels up to III by killing things with them equipped.
  • The eponymous Daikatana gains levels if you use it and becomes deadlier and faster. However your character doesn't gain any experience points this way and does not get to raise his stats.
  • Raidou Kuzunoha can visit affable Dr. Victor to reforge his swords: in the first game, he will fuse a demon into the sword, granting it powerups based on the demon's level and abilities, and in the second, a special crystal will be fused into the sword, changing its attributes depending on the used crystal.
  • The Sealed J-Sword in Phantasy Star Online. Normally a semi-decent weapon that inflicts serious status ailments on you, with enough kills with it equipped, and it will evolve into one of the most powerful weapons in the game.
  • Dak'kon's zerth blade from Planescape: Torment, which levels up at the same time he does, being a weapon made of karach, a material of pure chaos that mirrors the mind of its owner. It's referred to in dialogue as something that could become powerful enough to destroy the multiverse itself if fueled by enough will and determination, and while you never see it do anything quite that impressive, it can end up a pretty neat weapon if Dak'kon is in your party right up until the end game. It also can become weaker if you deliberately plunge Dak'kon into doubt and emotional disarray, or become even more powerful by strengthening his belief in the Unbroken Circle, the philosophy he follows.
    • Ingress' teeth can also evolve if you ask them nicely, eventually becoming magical of their own volition and adding weapon enchantments.
  • Rayne's Carpatian Dragons in Blood Rayne 2 are of vampiric nature, and level up through use, to an extent. Simply firing them improves their power and blood capacity, and they also acquire more powerful modes after defeating powerful vampires/dhampirs, even if they aren't used through the entire battle.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, the "Dream" weapons (such as the Dream Sword) used in the tutorial level are the only ones in the game that scale, with their ATK equal to Sora's level divided by 10. If Sora is at level 10 or 20, the Dream Sword's ATK is 1 or 2. But if Sora is at level 100, the sword has an ATK of 10, making it the most powerful weapon in the entire game, stronger than even Ultima Weapon. Unfortunately, you don't get to keep the Dream Sword past the tutorial so you'll never see it at its full potential without either an absurd amount of Level Grinding or hacking the game to get it back later.
  • In Chrono Trigger, one of the main characters, Frog, seeks to obtain the sword called the Masamune, prophesized to defeat the villainous Magus. Eventually, you get the weapon and proceed to fight Magus, only to find out his defeat did not save the world by any means, his castle was a Disc-One Final Dungeon and there is still half the game to go. Shortly afterwards, the legendary Masamune is overshadowed by generic weapons from shops. It would be a sad fate for a supposed ultimate weapon... but towards the finale, Frog gets a quest to "unlock its true form", which -is- the Infinity +1 Sword for him. Ironically, due to the sword's plot importance, Frog is the only character who doesn't retain his best weapon in New Game+.
    • Ayla's attack also evolves as she gets stronger. As she is an unarmed fist fighter, some form of Charles Atlas Superpower scaling is expected, but she goes beyond that: as she gains levels, her regular fist is eventually renamed "Bronze/Iron/Steel Fist" on the equipment screen, and each new type gives a new effect.
  • In the Brave Story video game, the main character's Traveler's Sword evolves and takes on new forms whenever he collects certain magical gems (after passing a test of strength and character).
  • Items from Disgaea are a borderline case. They can level up and improve, but only if the player ventures into Item World and subdues the inhabitants inside.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online introduced Legacy Weapons with the Mines of Moria expansion. Legacy weapons gain XP and level-up independently from their wielder, with some quests even granting Weapon XP as a specific reward. Each level-up grants points to spend on customising various benefits of the weapon, which can also be enhanced by adding special upgrade-items to it. At intervals of several levels, the weapon must be Reforged by a specialised NPC before it can continue to advance. Reforging allows further customisation of the weapon's abilities, increases its base power level, and allows the player to give it a unique name.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • The Ebony Blade, a Daedric artifact associated with Mephala, increases in power every time you kill someone who trusts you with it. At max power, it is one of the strongest weapons in the game.
    • The Dawnguard expansion adds the Dawnguard Rune Axe, which inflicts bonus damage proportional to the number of undead it has been used to kill since the last sunrise.
  • Enemies in Vagrant Story have specific types and affinites, and weapons and armor become more effective based on the types of enemies they're used against. Kill lots of dragons with a spear, and it'll gain dragon points that make it more effective against dragons in general. Kill lots of fire-type enemies and it'll become a water type weapon.
  • In Drakengard and its sequel, all weapons can level up. As they level up, all their stats go up (except weight) but their appearance changes and they also explain the history of the weapon with each level up. They can only be leveled up four times and visual change only occurs in the first Drakengard.
    • At least one weapon has good reason for this. Its blade is encased in stone, and as you kill enemies with it, it levels up like everything else. It does this by breaking some of the stone off.
  • Diablo II: Lord of Destruction introduced several magic item properties that scale by character level, including bonuses to armor value, damage, and accuracy. Unfortunately, they're rarely worth keeping for very long, as something better will usually drop.
  • Dragonfable has the Doom Knight equipment set, only available through a cash upgrade, which increases in power every ten levels. At level 60 (the level cap at the time of this edit), the Necrotic Sword of Doom is the best Darkness-based weapon in the game - and its special attack deals 12 hits of regular attack damage, which is easily enough to reduce anything with a weakness to it to a pile of smoking ash.
  • Super Robot Wars Advance has the protagonists' machines, Super Robot Wars Z has the Gunleon, and in Super Robot Wars L, the Rushbird gains new attacks and abilities as the game progresses.
  • Varric from Dragon Age II can never equip any other weapon than his beloved Automatic Crossbow Bianca. Fortunately it levels up with him so it never becomes obsolete. Even better, any rune attached to Bianca also becomes stronger.
    • Various downloads also feature "improve with level up" items, with 1 dedicated accessory per companion, and a few that can be given to anyone capable of equipping them, including weapons.
  • In the third Resistance game, all the weapons upgrade with use. Said game is also made by the creators of the Ratchet & Clank series.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic VI, playing online allows you to find Dynasty Weapons in the campaigns. If a hero wields said weapons, they gain experience along with the hero. Each weapon has several different abilities that can be unlocked with exponentially increasing amounts of experience, ranging from passive stat bonuses to enemy debuffs/ally buffs.
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, weapons with at least 50 kills gain the critical ability, with the chance of getting a critical increasing with each additional kill up to 100.
  • The Protoss Vindicator (also known as the Soul Hunter) in the Starcraft II beta had a weapon that leveled up as it killed enemies. It was cut due to a number of difficulties — it was hard to indicate when (and why) Vindicators leveled up, it was too random in large-scale battles, and it was basically impossible to balance; its reliance on kills made it much more powerful against the Zerg.
  • The Ivandis flail and blisterwood weapons on RuneScape , designed to kill vampires, gain stat boosts and max damage bonuses, respectively, as more vampires are defeated and cremated.
  • The Yearbook Club Camera from Kingdom of Loathing. It's an accesory that does nothing at first, but gets stronger with each assigned monster defeated and the picture returned to the Yearbook Club the next day.
  • The titular weapon of Xenoblade Chronicles, the Monado is all about this. As its wielder gets stronger (I.E. leveling up), the sword itself does as well. Moreover, in addition to the not-so-useless trait of allowing its wielder to see into the future, it gains a number of abilities such as shielding, granting speed boosts, and purging auras over the course of the story.
  • Path of Exile brings a twist to this trope. The weapons and armor stay the same over time (unless upgraded by other means, like the blacksmith's whetstone for weapons), but the gems inserted in their sockets level up after a sufficient number of monsters is killed while the weapons and armor are equipped (not just carried in the inventory, though), improving the skills granted by those gems.
    • The 2.3 Prophecy update adds the Fated Unique mechanic, allowing players to upgrade certain unique items and grant them new powers. For example, if a character has drawn the King's Path prophecy and kills Kaom while wearing the Kaom's Sign unique ring, it upgrades to Kaom's Way and grants extra life regeneration.
    • The unique sword Oni-Goroshi is normally acquired by farming the very first zone for hours. The weapon itself is designed to be used all the way from level 1 to as far as endgame. Its damage scales with your level, comes automatically six-linked so sockets won't be an issue, and it has a double-edged effect that can be optimized to boost your damage even further late game. It's even got several lines of dialogue across all acts.
  • Star Trek Online
    • Mark Infinity equipment improves in effectiveness as the Player Character levels up.
    • The Delta Rising expansion introduced Tier 5-Upgraded and Tier 6 starships, which have a Starship Mastery feature which enables the Player Character to grind skill points to unlock stat boosts on that ship, as well as a perk in T6 ships which is usable on any ship.
  • The White March expansion to Pillars of Eternity added Soulbound equipment (almost all weapons), that can be bound to a character and then is upgraded when specific requirements are fulfilled (most of them allowing for simple 'kill enough foes'/'trigger the special ability of the weapon enough times' as a fallback from more specific requirements). Some do vary the formula — one sword is cursed, automatically binds to whoever picks it up and can't be dropped until you upgrade it to its highest tier (which you do by interacting with various places throughout the game), while one dagger actually gets worse as it is levelled up (until the final tier, when it suddenly turns into the best dagger in the game).
  • In Touhou Genso Wanderer, equipment levels up alongside your character. Unlike your character's levels, which reset every run, equipment levels are kept throughout runs. Leveling up gear will grant that gear better stats and sometimes, better abilities and more seal slots. After a certain level, most weapons and armor will change form, granting even better stats, abilities, and more seal slots. Amusingly enough, for most gear there tends to be a form beyond the canon item that often goes Up to Eleven. For instance, Eiki's armor item goes from the plate on her hat, to the hat itself, to the head of a Humongous Mecha.

  • In The Order of the Stick, the "Weapon of Legacy" as noted above comes into play with The Leader and Badass Normal fighter Roy Greenhilt. Roy's surname comes from his ancestral family greatsword (made famous by his grandfather Horace), and it carries deep meaning to him. Early in the comic it is shattered and reforged with starmetal, making it especially effective against undead enemies, and he has begun learning the various Weapon of Legacy abilities, including summoning green ethereal flaming energy around the sword and being able to call it back to his hand at will. He has also been trying to get it to fire a Sword Beam, thus far without success.


Examples of weapons with temporary upgrades/changes

     Anime and Manga  

  • In Arata: The Legend, Hinohara's Hayagami, Tsukuyo, gains the ability to transform from its initial dagger form to a longsword. It reverts back to the dagger form when it's not in active use.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the legendary demon slayer who once made the originator of all demons quake in fear had a black blade like the protagonist Tanjiro does, but unlike all normal demon slayers who permanently enhance the color of their blades due their Breath affinity for the first time they touch it, Yoriichi could make his black blade turn red at will when he engaged in battle, showcasing his Breath of the Sun skills.


  • The Elric Saga: Elric's sword, Stormbringer, will get stronger after killing some poor sap and eating his soul.
    • Stormbringer not only gains strength from feeding on someone's soul, but makes Elric stronger as well (remember he's an albino who previously needed drugs to maintain his strength). Elric's dependence on Stormbringer is an addiction - he tries to kick the habit several times but always finds himself drawn back, until ultimately it destroys him. (However, the comic series Michael Moorcock's Multiverse gives him a second chance at salvation.)
  • In the light novel and manhua 1/2 Prince, the prince starts the series with a black dao that can level up with the user.

     Tabletop RPG  

  • The fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons features some magical items — most notably rings — with abilities that only become available once their would-be user has reached a 'milestone', i.e. has made it through two encounters without taking an extended rest in between. Similarly, the accessible powers of fourth edition artifacts as a form of Empathic Weapon wax and wane with how much in tune the current owner's actions are with the artifact's own goals. — Perhaps less directly applicable to this trope, the game also features a limit on how many magic item daily abilities a character can use per day, even if they were to carry a veritable grab-bag of such items with them. Each milestone reached extends this limit by one for the current day, thus potentially 'unlocking' item powers that the character could not have used otherwise.

     Video Games  

  • In The Shivering Isles, the expansion pack to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, there Dawnfang/Duskfang sword transforms between the two forms every dawn and dusk - but if you've killed 12 enemies with it during the preceeding period, it instead becomes the 'Dawnfang Superior' or 'Duskfang Superior', with additional, life-stealing powers.
  • The sword "Fusion" in Brave Fencer Musashi has the power to "assimilate" enemies, thereby gaining their abilities. It can only hold one ability at a time; gaining a new one overrides the old one. It is also of the first type, as noted above.
  • In Shinobi (2002), enemies you kill with Akujiki take a few seconds to actually fall over dead. During this time, Akujiki glows with power and does more damage, allowing to kill more enemies in rapid succession to further extend the time before they die. It is possible to one-hit kill every boss in the game if you kill their minions fast enough first.
  • In the Mega Man Battle Network games, there are two Battle Chips (a.k.a. weapons programs useable once per battle per chip) that you can gain, both swords, called the Custom Sword (CustSwrd) and the Muramasa, respectively, that gain power due to a special condition — in the Custom Sword's case, its power is determined by the 'custom gauge' at the top of the screen (it can get to around 200 maximum, but when the bar maxes out the power immediately drops to 0), but in the Muramasa's case, it will hit the two panels in front of Mega Man for an amount of damage equal to the HP HE'S LOST. Capped at 999, sure, but 999 in ONE ATTACK (when most Mooks will have phenomonally less, and most bosses hit will lose around or over half their HP) is kind of a big deal.
    • The manga explains this as the weapon feeding off of its user's pain and suffering, which its current user in the manga goes out and gets plenty of — though one of the more Genre-Savvy members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad (who were all not-so-coincidentally all bosses from the same game) decides to render it all moot by shooting the man in the hands with a Frickin Laser Beam so that he can't hold the Muramasa (what good is an Infinity Plus One Sword if you can't actually SWING it, after all).
  • In Half-Life 2 and Episode 1, there is a point where the Gravity Gun gets a temporary upgrade and has the ability to lift much larger objects and pick up the combine soldiers to fling them as projectile weapons! This upgrade happens in the end of Half-Life 2 and in the beginning of episode 1 where it's only for one area and then it downgrades.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Demoman has a sword called the Eyelander which he can use to decapitate enemies. Each head gives him extra health and boosts his speed — at least, until he dies.
    • The Engineer has his Sentry Gun, which starts with a simple turret. Upon leveling up via metal, it can "level up" to a double-barreled minigun, and again to add a 4-rocket rocket launcher.
  • Enserric, the vampiric sword in Neverwinter Nights expansion Hordes of the Underdark, gains the ability to drain its wielder's health to give itself a temporary boost.
  • The Marker in Qix++ can be upgraded in four features using points earned in the stages. Its appearance changes the more upgrades you get. Unfortunately, it's only good in the section you're playing. Start a new section, and you're back to the crappy Marker you started with.
  • In AdventureQuest, weapons and armor gain power the more you level up; weapons increase in base and random damage, and armor in defense and hits of attack.
  • Double Subverted with the Keyblade form the Kingdom Hearts series, while the weapon doesn't grow itself, you can attach various keychains (or gears in Days) to it in order to alter its form and properties such as strength and magic bonuses in (almost) all the games, extra abilities in II, Days, and Birth by Sleep, attack patterns in Days and Clock gauges in Re:coded. The double subversion in this example, is that the keychains used to modify the keyblade are essentially memories of people and locations used to modify the keyblade's form, the keyblade itself doesn't change, only its form.
    • In the first game and Chain of Memories, Sora's strongest keyblade, Ultima Weapon, has the same color scheme as both the Dream Sword (see above on this page) and the Kingdom Key he started with.
    • The individual Keyblades themselves will level up in Re:Coded.
    • Riku is a straight-up example. Because of his Keyblade choosing Sora over him when he chose to open himself to darkness, he's had to compensate with a dark sword he manifested, called the Soul Eater, an Evil Weapon with the blade shaped like a devil wing. However, towards the end of Kingdom Hearts II, it has evolved into a proper Keyblade called Way to the Dawn, straightening and lengthening the wing plus adding angel wings to the design. The next chronological entry, however, shows that he is still able to summon the Soul Eater form, though no longer uses it, signifying his turn from the dark for good.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 has the named Soul Reaver - remnants of a powerful magic sword, fused with the protagonist. It becomes stronger when Raziel hits with it. It becomes much stronger when it consumes the soul of a killed enemy. It starts to eat the wielder's life when it becomes overpowered. And it slowly returns to its normal state when combat is over.
    • In Legacy of Kain, it used 1 mana rune per swing, but basically 1-shotted whatever it hit and had a pretty wide hit box so you could wipe out several enemies per swing (without mana it was only as strong as the starting iron sword). Was 2hded and prevented spellcasting. In Soul reaver 1, it was simply 3 times as strong as claw attacks and could be used to finish enemies and maintained your life bar in the physical realm, but could only be manifested at full health or in always in the spectral realm. In Defiance it was just an attack and didn't evolve per say (though you could unlock other elements/abilities by collecting crest pieces (Blood Reaver) or elemental spirits (Soul Reaver)).
  • Skill Cracking in Devil Survivor works like this: you hunt down a demon who holds the skill you want with a specific character. If said demon successfully dies at the hands of that character, you wil gain the option of adding that skill to your set. Later, certain game mechanics allow you to teach cracked skills to your demons.
  • The player's default weapon in Binary Domain is an assault rifle. In early stages, it performs about as well as a standard assault rifle should against Mecha-Mooks. By the endgame, a fully upgraded assault rifle is practically a light machinegun tearing through hordes of mooks.
  • The new Pulsefire Ezreal skin in League of Legends.
  • Honedge from Pokémon X and Y. Being a Pokemon in itself, it gains stronger stats and learns new attacks when leveling up. Taken literally when it evolves into Doublade.
  • In Tower of Guns, getting blue orbs and crystals fills your weapon level bar up to 5 times, giving it increased stats, but taking damage drains a chunk of the bar.
  • In Low G Man, your special weapons get more powerful and their spread increases as you obtain more ammunition for them. Their levels are retained even if you die, but if you use a continue, they all reset to level 1.
  • A key mechanic of the Blaster Master games is that the Blaster Rifle changes based on the energy you acquire for it. The original game's pickups were mostly straight upgrades, but the Zero games changed it so that each distinct level of the weapon (which you could now select freely) had its own effect; while the higher-levels generally had greater damage compared to those of lower levels, enemies reacted to each weapon differently, which gave some sense of strategy (though the Wave Beam pretty much disregards that). To punish poor play, however, damage the player takes also reduces the weapon's effectiveness. The Energy Guard in the Zero games prevents this for one shot at a time, and recharges so long as the player isn't being hurt, so while the risk of losing weapon power can be mitigated, it can never be truly eliminated.
  • Super Metroid: Unlike many of the games, Samus's Arm Cannon retains each and every upgrade she gets. By the end of the game, the Charge Beam, Spazer, Wave Beam, Ice Beam, and Plasma Beam combine into one single, powerful weapon. The only exception is that the Spazer and Plasma beams cannot normally be combined, although they can be combined via a glitch.


  • Torg's sword, Chaz, from Sluggy Freelance will become powerful and able to talk once it has come into contact with the blood of an "innocent" person.


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