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"Collect all 4 Kings for All DPS x10,000"
King's Card description, Time Warpers

The whole is more than the sum of the parts.

Sometimes, several items put together deliver additional benefits more than if you just numerically or synergistically added up the power of all the items. It can apply both to powers and objects.

Most of the time there is no In-Universe explanation offered for why these items have to be together to produce the extra effects. It could be said that the enchantments need to 'overlap' or that the pieces when connected form the circuit of a system that then produces the effects. Most games with this mechanic will also have each item's description "kindly" inform the player of the potential benefits, without any proper explanation of just how the character could know about them. Maybe they were written somewhere on the items themselves.

This trope is absurdly prevalent (though by no means universal) in MMORPGs, but it turns up in other genres as well. It is often used to encourage trading among players, but it has the side effect of making the more obsessed sink extra time and money into a game. If significant enough, this trope should hopefully cut down on Rainbow Pimp Gear. Outside of MMORPGs, stories may have magical accessories, weapons, or magic rings be created as part of a set by powerful mages with this intended effect.

Related to Gotta Catch Them All. Compare Counterpart Artifacts and Signature Device.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: In the anime filler Gotei 13 Invasion arc, seven lieutenants and the filler heroine, Nozomi, are fighting one reigai captain, but don't have enough power to defeat him. Nozomi uses her shikai to absorb all seven lieutenants' zanpakutou powers to combine it with her own into a single attack. The captain is promptly one-shotted. The anime never offers any explanation for how this fusion magically turned "not enough power" into "more than enough power".
  • In Slayers, Lina has four magical amplifiers (that she bought off of Xellos) that work better in tandem than separately.
  • In Toriko, each of the ingredients in Acacia's Full Course apparently has amazing effects. Eating all of them together also grants the power to use Gourmet Cells at peak efficiency.
  • In Transformers: Armada, there are three sets of Mini-cons that fuse together to form the Star Saber, the Skyboom Shield, and the Requiem Blaster.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the (Nameless) Pharaoh, aka Yami Yugi, cannot move on to the afterlife without all seven Millennium Items and knowledge of his true name.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel Comics Crisis Crossover, The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos combines the Infinity Gems, each one of which already grants considerable power (except the Reality Gem, which has "issues" if used on its own), to form the nigh-omnipotent Infinity Gauntlet.
  • In Green Lantern this is the case when anyone wears more than one lantern ring, the wielder gets to essentially dual wield (or multi wield) superpowers. Combining different colored rings can be even more spectacular since they have interesting synergies. Hal Jordan has done this twice with Green and Yellow rings. In Brightest Day, Krona did this with rings of every color!
    • Particularly notable here is the interaction between the Green and Blue rings, representing Will and Hope respectively, even when they're worn by separate wielders. The Blue rings are near-powerless on their own, but when Hope is bolstered by Will (the presence of a Green ring) it practically becomes capable of miracles. In turn, the power of Hope supercharges the Will of nearby Green rings.
    • Kyle Rayner learns the benefits and the downsides of using a ring of every color in the New 52. He later learns how to invoke this with a single ring, which leads to becoming a White Lantern.

    Fan Works 
  • Fallout: Equestria: The Ministry Mare statuettes are based off the Vault Boy bobbleheads from Fallout. Littlepip finds herself stronger or smarter every time she collects one; the "level-up" notes at the end of each chapter put it in game terms, where she is gaining a boost to each stat with every statuette. When she gets the last one, their magic increases, and she immediately decides not to separate them again. The end of chapter note says she got a bonus to her Luck Stat for completing the set.
  • Skittering Thief: Taylor's Power Parasite ability means that when an Endbringer attacks, instead of many capes with one power each, they have one cape with dozens of powers. However, several of her powers turn out to be force multipliers for the others. Eg gaining power from ambient fear strengthens all other powers, as does Lung's escalation power, and they combine excellently with Fenja's strength-multiplying giant growth power. As a result, she's able to give Leviathan a harder fight than anyone ever has before, causing it to stop Throwing the Fight.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Lazer Team, the Champion Suit's full potential can only be realized when all the components (intelligence-boosting helmet, left shield-generating gauntlet, right blaster gauntlet, and Super-Speed boots) are working together.

  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, simply wearing one of the two Silver Slippers (Ruby in the movie) is enough to give the wearer near complete invulnerability to magical attack and physical harm. Having both gives the wearer wish granting abilities close to a 3 or 4 on the Super Weight scale.
  • The eponymous artifacts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were believed to make the owner of all three Master of Death, granting immortality. The true Master of Death is one who knows Death is inevitable despite the existence of magic and accepts it when it comes.
  • In V. Panov's Secret City the protagonists are hired to gather a specific set of Faberge's eggs, each one containing a figurine associated with a continent. The full set of figurines combined with the original enchanted map becomes a treasure-locating artifact.
  • This trope is in effect in works of the Literary RPG (litRPG) genre, as they are commonly set in MMORPG video games.
    • In V. Ushakov's Manoratkha the protagonist found a dual-wield set of a legendary sword and dagger on two otherwise unrelated and convoluted quests. The NPC who hands him the reward for the second quest actually mentions that the Set Bonus exists and is very surprised to see the protagonist's character have the first weapon already.
    • In R. Mikhaylov's Rule of the Sleepless Clan the protagonist happens to solve an already hidden quest in an extremely specific manner, thus triggering a second hidden quest to find a legendary scattered armor. The armor becomes more powerful with each new piece found and will supposedly reach full potential when complete.
  • The three Orbs in The Wizard, The Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey have their powers magnified when multiple Orbs are possessed by the same person. With two, the Twilight Queen has plunged the land into twilight; with all three she can create eternal night. The Chosen One can defeat her by claiming all three Orbs.
  • All The Skills - A Deckbuilding LitRPG: Cards are sometimes arranged into sets, and are often much more effective if someone can collect the whole set — to the point where the Crown discourages it, because it's too potent. Even without being in official sets, different cards can have powerful synergies together.
    • When Arthur obtains cards for extradimensional storage space, perfect memory, and the ability to review memories on a mental bookshelf, they combine into a new set — and the combination gives him the additional ability to mentally visit his storage space as an offshoot of the bookshelf, interacting with stored items and even training skills there, without time passing outside.
    • Master of Skills also turns out to have excellent synergy with Prince Marion's "Instant Tool and Weapon Competence" card. Master of Skills does nothing for weapons, but for tools, it adds an extra three levels on top of Instance Competence's ten, and makes all thirteen levels permanent even after Instant Competence is removed.

    Live Action TV 
  • This shows up every so often in Heroes. Hiro's time-travelling is greatly helped by hints from Isaac's ability to predict the future. Samuel's ability to control earth (and ink) and Lydia's empath powers combine into a limited form of clairvoyance, which Samuel uses to find other people with abilities.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider OOO's belt is powered by inserting Core Medals into three slots, corresponding to the Head, Body, and Legs of his transformed form. Using three Medals of the same color creates a "Combo" which gives him increased powers and a new ability at the cost of leaving him exhausted when he powers down. The Greeed villains similarly gain increased powers the more Medals they have, along with a special Set Bonus of their own when they have all nine of their respective color. It's most notable with Gamel, whose bonus ability is a Touch of Death that takes him from the least dangerous of the Greeed to a Person of Mass Destruction.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid inverts this with Drago Knight Hunter Z. This form grants one Rider a big suit of dragon-themed armor, or the Transformation Trinket can be invoked by all four Riders at the same time to hand out one piece to each Rider. The form is based on Co-Op Multiplayer games, so it's the individual pieces that get the power boost, making the complete set an example of Clipped-Wing Angel.
    • Kamen Rider Build gets in on the idea with the Full Bottles, which are divided into organic (like Rabbit, Hawk, Pirate, Ninja, etc) and inorganic (Tank, Gatling, Train, Comic, etc), and Build needs to use one of each to transform. Every Bottle has one specific "Best Match", a Bottle of the opposite type with which it has high compatibility (like Rabbit and Tank); transforming with a Best Match makes Build stronger than if he just used random combinations and sometimes gives him access to unique abilities and custom-themed weapons.
    • In Kamen Rider Saber, the Riders draw their power from magical storybooks. Any Rider can use any storybook, but they get a better effect if they use ones from the set that matches their Elemental Power.
    • In Kamen Rider Geats, any Rider can use any Raise Buckle, but certain Raise Buckles have better compatibility with certain Riders' Core IDs.
  • The "objects" in The Lost Room can be lethal on their own, but when one person has more than one they tend to become obscenely powerful. One particular combination of objects can potentially create a localized rip in space-time.
  • In one episode of White Collar, a thief was collecting a set of jade elephants that became much more valuable when all of them were sold together. Neal tried to lure her in by offering to team up so they could sell the full set and split the profits.

    Multiple Media 
    • The 36 Great Masks of Power that combine into the six Golden Masks with all the powers of the originals.
    • The six Great Kanoka Disks. On their own, they contain the power of the basic elements. Combined, they become the Disk of Time which gets carved into the Mask of Time. Merging different powered Kanoka disks is standard parctice for creating any type of powered Kanohi mask.
    • The Golden Armor. Wearing the full set not only destroys all nearby Kraata worms that power the villain's Rahkshi army, it also gains the abilities of the Rahkshi it killed, meaning a total of 42 wildly varied special powers.

  • The fossils in Jurassic Park (Stern) are grouped into four sets, and collecting an entire group awards an increasing amount of points and another reward (like an extra ball or an increased amber multiplier).
  • Guns N' Roses (Jersey Jack) allows the player to obtain patches for gameplay perks. Getting certain sets of them bestows further bonuses upon the player - for example, collecting the band's four primary albums doubles the level of every album mode for the rest of the game.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Quite a few games have a scoring mechanism where a value of a set of cards increases faster than the number of cards. For instance, the point value of a set of Palace Guards in Guillotine or a set of unique artifacts in Stone Age equals the square (1, 4, 9, etc) of the number collected.
  • Azul: During the game, you get bonus points for having set of tiles that connect horizontally or vertically. At the end of the game, you are rewarded for each complete horizontal line, each complete vertical line, and for each colour you have a full set of 5 tiles in.
  • In Citadels, having all five types of districts in your city will give you bonus points in the final count.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Fourth Edition has the Adventurer's Vault 2, which offers a few item sets. Most are the typical matched armor and/or weapon sets that gain additional bonuses when a character has more pieces of the set equipped. There are also a few 'group' sets which have similar bonuses for each member of the adventuring party using them.
    • 3.5 introduced non-artifact set items in the Magic Item Compendium, though the original D&D set items are probably the Regalia of Might, printed in Eldritch Wizardry in 1976. 3 alignment specific sets consisting each of a Rod, an Orb and a Crown. All three were powerful artifacts in their own right, and made stronger when brought together. The Hand and Eye of Vecna probably also count.
    • Also originating in Eldritch Wizardry, and possibly D&D's Ur-Example, is the Rod of Seven Parts. In its backstory, it was originally the Rod of Law, wielded by the Wind Dukes of Aaqa against the Queen of Chaos, and shattered in the climactic battle of the first war of Law vs Chaos, banishing the Queen's lover Mishka the Wolf-Spider, Prince of Demons and decimating both armies, forcing a stalemate. Each part had a separate power, groups of parts added more and greater powers, and nearly unparalleled abilities were available to a wielder who united all the parts. Since it was impossible to completely repair it, though, using the unified powers carried a chance of re-shattering the Rod and re-scattering its parts (with the side effect of Critical Existence Failure for the overly ambitious invoker). The words used to activate its parts were given as "Ruat," "Caelum," "Fiat," "Justitia," "Ecce," "Lex," and "Rex." The Easter Egg being that, as a Latin phrase, those words translate as "Though heaven fall, let justice be done. Behold! Law is king!"
  • The Hammer of Thunderbolts combined with the Gauntlets of Ogre Power and Belt of Giant Strength is another longtime set. The Hammer is, unsurprisingly, a powerful magic warhammer that's a blatant expy of Mjolnir from Norse mythology. It's good by itself, but if used by someone who also is wearing the gauntlets and belt, the hammer gains additional magic powers and the belt and gauntlets work together to grant the wielder an even higher bonus to strength when their effects would otherwise not stack. The set is a reference to how in Norse myth, Thor used a magic belt and magic gauntlets in order to be able to use Mjolnir to its full potential, since it was otherwise too powerful for even he, the strongest of the Norse gods, to wield properly.
  • In Jaipur, one of your actions is selling a number of matching goods. If you sell at least three goods at once, you gain a bonus token, with its value depending on how much you sold.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The most ubiquitous example is the "Urzatron" lands: Urza's Mine, Urza's Tower, and Urza's Power Plant. They give one mana each normally, but if you control all three, you get a total of seven mana from them.
    • Visions had Feral Shadow, Breathstealer, and Urborg Panther. Sacrifice all three of them to bring Spirit of the Night into play directly from your deck.
    • Having Helm, Shield, and Sword of Kaldra all in play (each a strong card in their own right) and you can put a 4/4 legendary token creature (aptly named Kaldra) into play and attach all three of them to it for a much lower cost than attaching individually.
    • A storyline example appears in the Weatherlight Saga. The Legacy was Urza's ultimate weapon against Yawgmoth. Described as thought given purpose, the Legacy was a collection of artifacts and beings that was constantly changing and evolving, even incorporating artifacts that Urza didn't intend into its design. In card form, the Legacy Weapon is a single artifact card that can remove any permanent from the game. One of the artwork variants displays all of the artifacts that made up the Legacy. Nearly all of the component artifacts have cards of their own, too.
  • Monopoly:
    • Owning an entire block of properties doubles the basic rent, and allows the owner to build houses and hotels to increase the rent further.
    • Railroads and Utilities have similar perks. Each Railroad the player owns doubles the rent. The two Utilities, the Electric Company and the Waterworks, normally charge rent equal to four times the number of the dice roll which landed the player on the Utility. If both Utilities are owned by one player, the multiplier is increased to ten.
  • The Pokémon board game Master Trainer gives you a bonus if you collect Pokémon from the same evolutionary line. If you have two of them, the highest evolution gets a +3 attack bonus, and if you have 3, the highest gets a +5. The game leaves it up to house rules what to do if you get more of the Eeveelutions than just Eevee and an evolved form, since it's the only set in the game with more than 3 members and no defined "highest" evolutionnote .
  • Risk provides additional troop bonuses when you occupy an entire continent, as well as when you trade in three cards with matching symbols.
  • 7 Wonders:
    • In the original game, the value of each scientific symbol increases if you gather several copies of one symbol (1/4/9/16/... points for 1/2/3/4... copies) or sets of three different ones (7 points per set).
    • In the Duel spin-off:
      • Scientific symbols are useless on their own, but getting a matching pair lets you take a Progress Token, and collecting 6 different ones is an Instant-Win Condition.
      • In Agora, each pair of 2 blue buildings gives you an additional Senate action whenever you take a Senator. This maxes out at 3 actions.
  • Sushi Go! and its Updated Re-release Sushi Go Party! are drafting games that rely heavily on collecting favourable sets of cards:
    • If you take a wasabi card, the value of your next nigiri will be tripled.
    • Tempura cards are scored in pairs, sashimi cards are scored in trios, and the green tea ice cream dessert is scored in groups of four. It's all or nothing — leftover cards have no value. Denying someone their third sashimi can be devastating.
    • A set of 1/2/3/4 different onigiri shapes is worth 1/4/9/16 points. The more onigiri shapes you have, the more valuable each card is on average.
    • A set of 1/2/3/4/5 dumplings is worth 1/3/6/10/15 points, so the value of each dumpling increases the more of them you take.
    • Exaggerated with the eel. One card is worth -3 points, but a set of 2 or more gives you 7 points.
    • Zig-zagged with the tofu. One tofu card is worth 2 points and a pair of them is worth 6, but if you gather 3 or more, they all become worth 0.
    • Invoked with the tea card, which is worth 1 point for each card in your largest set of cards with the same background colour.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The five Exodia cards are worthless on their own. Get all five in your hand, and you automatically win the game. note 
    • If all five Exodia cards are in the graveyard, the player can use "Contract with Exodia" to special summon "Exodia Necross", an invincible zombie that gets stronger every turn. The only way to get rid of it is to remove one of the Exodia cards from the graveyard.
    • There are dozens of archetypes that entire decks can be built around (Six Samurai, Laval, Ice Barrier, Evol, Archfiends...)
  • Digimon Card Game: While technically any Digimon can Digivolve from any other Digimon so long as the color requirements are met, certain Digivolution lines are specifically designed to work better together, whether it's from inherited effects that all have the same trigger, effects that only work if certain other cards are in their Digivolution cards, or outright searching for more cards of the same archetype. This extends to Tamers as well, as many have effects that either follow the same theme as their partners or explicitly mention them. A deck made from a random assortment of red digimon won't fare very well against a deck entirely devoted to the Greymon family.

  • In Darken, the Regalia of Evil is comprised of a thorn crown, sword and gauntlet. By themselves, they have relatively minor effects. Get all three, and they fuse with the wielder, who gets exponentially more powerful.
  • The point of the Rusty and Co. arc with Prestige Perkins: Prestige suspects that the Illithid Mobs are gathering lesser magical trinkets to create a dangerous weapon, later revealed to be a literal Magic Missile.

    Western Animation 
  • The Makluan Rings in Iron Man: Armored Adventures that the Mandarin is after.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), the Thundercats and their Arch-Enemy Mumm-Ra hunt for various Power Crystals, one of which is the Cats' own Amulet of Concentrated Awesome, the Eye of Thundera. If all are placed in a sword and gauntlet, the wielder will be rendered nigh omnipotent.
  • The Shen Gong Wu in Xiaolin Showdown tend to have this effect. There's a subset of them that when combined will create the dreaded Mala-Mala Jong.
  • The Meta-Nanites from Generator Rex, one lets you control temperature, one lets you control energy, one lets you control Gravity, one lets you control Time, and the last one imitates Rex's powerset. Each one is at least a class 3 on the super weight scale but linked through Rex they are at least a class 5 if not class 7.
  • The Elements of Harmony from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, individually they are just jewelry but together they can perform feats such as world healing waves.
  • In Gargoyles, the Eye of Odin, the Phoenix Gate, and the Grimoire Acanorum are also known as the Three Keys of Power. Each is already a powerful artifact. Bringing all three together unlocks vast magical power. The spell responsible for the Gargoyles' Magic Pants was cast by a mage who possessed the Three Keys of Power at the behest of Caesar Augustus since he found the nudity of awakening Gargoyles distasteful. In the actual animated series the Archmage's Evil Plan was to obtain the Eye of Odin and the Phoenix Gate (he already had the Grimoire) to gain ultimate power. By the end of the animated series all three are lost forever. The Grimoire (which the Archmage ate to absorb it) destroys itself and the Archmage from within after he could no control its power due to losing the Eye. Odin reclaims his missing Eye. Goliath hurls the Phoenix Gate into the timestream to prevent anyone from using it again. In the comics the Gate is broken and releases the actual Phoenix that was imprisoned inside it.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures season 1 has the bad guys looking for 12 magical talismans in order to release the demon Shendu from imprisonment. Each talisman has its own power, and several of them work well together:
    • Jade is fond of pointing out the Rooster's Levitation and the Rabbit's Super-Speed combine to create flight.
    • The Horse's Healing and the Dog's Immortality might seem redundant at first, but having only the latter doesn't stop you from feeling pain.

    Real Life 
  • This is essentially the theory behind vertical integration. For example, a mining company might set up a processing plant right next to a mine, so as to not have to pay to haul unprocessed ore very far, adjust the mine's output according to the demand for the finished product, and otherwise be more efficient than a mine and a plant run by unaffiliated organizations. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it does.
  • Fashion is in part an aesthetic version of this: finding combinations of clothing that look good when worn together.
  • In politics, many political parties claim that if enough of their members are elected to a certain political body, they will all vote much the same way and can proceed to get much more business done than if they have to negotiate each and every item. Opinions often vary on whether or not this would be a good thing (and whether a party's members would indeed unify to this degree).
  • Most useful and non-trivial machines are examples of this. A steering wheel, an engine, a transmission, and some wheels are not that useful separately, but put them together and you have a means of traveling fast.
  • Quite a lot of unrelated ideologies claim that once everybody in the world is a member of their ideology, the world will become a utopia. Even naming them will probably prompt essays on the merits or lack thereof of those claims.
  • Collectible items in a set sometimes sell for more than the items individually are worth.
  • Combined arms warfare is based on using different kinds of units (often of different specialization) to cover each other's weaknesses and better hit the enemy's.
    • One classic example is the Macedonian Army organized by Philip III and used by Alexander the Great in his conquests:
      composed of Thessalian and Companion heavy cavalry, prodromoi, Paeonian and Thracian light cavalry, the heavy infantry of the Foot Companions and the Hypaspists, Peltasts (light skirmisher infantry) and archers, plus allied and mercenary Greek and (later) Oriental units. The units were organized in a precise order of battle and acting on standardized tactics, the most basic being the use of the Foot Companions' phalanx to pin down the main enemy force and make it vulnerable to the charges of the cavalry, to overcome even numerically superior forces.
    • Its successors, the Hellenistic Armies, remained dominant in the Mediterranean until they abandoned the combined arms approach in favor of a more powerful phalanx of Foot Companions, becoming vulnerable when faced by the more versatile Parthians (who favored Horse Archers to weaken the enemy and heavy cavalry charges the moment the enemy became vulnerable) and the Ancient Roman Army (that became quite efficient in disassembling the phalanx).
  • Life itself. If you are a biological Earth-based lifeform reading this, then you are nothing more than cells. Cells are nothing more than proteins. Proteins aren't alive. Yet put a lot of proteins together in just the right way and you get a living cell that can just barely survive and multiply. Put a lot of cells together and you get everything from mice to shrubbery, to fungi, to blue whales, to you. Dead stuff becomes alive through its interactive complexity, despite none of it having the capacity for life on its own.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Full Set Bonus


Nin Nin Comic

When two Fullbottles that produce a Best Match are inserted into the Build Driver, not only does it give a stronger form than a mismatch would, but it enables the use of a unique weapon.

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