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Becoming truly skilled at something takes a long time and a lot of hard work. Sometimes, you can handle this with a Training Montage, but the plot doesn't always have enough time for this. So, how DO you go about transforming your Unlucky Everydude into a Super Hero in less than an hour?

Why, you hand him an Upgrade Artifact, of course! No hassle, no trouble, just pick this thing up, and you'll instantly learn an important skill! Real heroes work smart, not hard, it seems...

If the object is a magical sword, expect instant Implausible Fencing Powers.

Obviously, a natural result of Powers as Programs. Compare Amplifier Artifact and, for video games, Heart Container. Contrast Exposition Beam, when this is done with memories.

If the object has a variety of effects depending on the demands of the plot, it's Green Rocks. Contrast Magic Feather, All That Glitters, and Worthless Treasure Twist where people assume the artifact will upgrade them, but it won't or was never supposed to.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • The Hougyoku does this to anyone it comes in contact with. Not only is it responsible for Aizen's many transformations in the Deicide Arc, but its presence in Karakura was also partly responsible (along with contact with Ichigo's overactive reiatsu) for Chad and Orihime unlocking powers in the first place.
    • The Sanrei Glove Uryuu uses to power up for the Soul Society Arc has the capacity to do this twice over: its primary effect is to make it harder for the user to gather spirit particles, so it's like training with wrist and ankle weights for added resistance. Removing the Glove after training with it, however, results in a huge temporary boost...that in turn causes complete power burnout. Uryuu ends up using the dangerous secondary effect against Mayuri to try and avenge his grandfather's death.
    • The anime-only Filler arc that follows this restores Uryuu's powers temporarily with a bracelet-like Upgrade Artifact that breaks at the end of the arc, just in time to rejoin the manga plotline where his father restores his powers permanently.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon V-Tamer 01: The Digimental is actually an amplifier artifact that pushes a digimon of the supposed highest level even higher — however, the Digimental of Miracles listed below also makes an appearance in a bonus chapter and plays this trope straight, as it turns an invalid meat shield into capable warrior.
    • Digimon Adventure 02: The Armor DigiEggs allow a user to enter a special Armor-level form when regular digivolution is unavailable.
      • Especially the Golden Eggs of Miracles and Destiny. Armor eggs of the normal crests transform their Rookie-equivalent users into forms that are somewhat weaker than their natural Champion-level forms. the gold ones elevate a basic Rookie into a form on par with legendary Megas.
    • Digimon Tamers: Cards. Specifically evolution cards, blue cards and eventually simply the digivice scanner itself. Most cards otherwise fall under amplifier artifact.
    • Digimon Next: The DigiMemories, they are one of the few things that make fighting NEO possible. Otherwise the only things that have a chance are the god of the digital world and illegal monsters running an arbitrator program designed to kill the god of the digital world.
  • Subverted/averted in Dragon Ball Z:
    • Master Korin tells Goku that the "Sacred Water" from a particular jar will make him stronger, but takes the jar away every time Goku wants to drink from it. In the end, the water has no effect: it's the exercise you have to do to get it that makes you stronger. Truth be told, Korin just fills the jar with ordinary water. When the assassin Tao Pai Pai scales the tower, Korin gives him the water straightaway, and even loans him an evil Flying Nimbus cloud to make the return trip down the tower, specifically to prevent him from exerting himself any more (and thus getting any stronger) before his rematch with Goku.
    • Though later, Master Korin sends Goku after "Ultra Sacred Water", which DOES have magical powers but tends to kill everyone who can't handle it.
    • The legendary sword which is supposed to make Gohan the strongest warrior in the universe is actually just very heavy. Gohan gets stronger because wielding it is like training with impossibly heavy barbells. Also because it's a Soul Jar containing an ancient Kai who enacts a power-unsealing ritual on Gohan. Admittedly it seems to be a few hours of him dancing around hooting and reading comic books, but it seems to have worked.
    • The Dragon Balls can be used for anything from resurrecting billions of people to obtaining panties... except leveling up. Unless you count the immortality the balls are capable of granting. Given that Saiyans get stronger every time they get badly beat up, this is all they'd need.
  • The Familiar of Zero presents this in the form of familiar runes. When a mage summons their familiar, the contract of servitude is manifested by a set of runes imprinted on the familiar. This can grant the familiar abilities or attributes they previously lacked, such as near-human intelligence, the ability to speak, or, in the case of the eponymous character, the ability to wield any weapon with ease.
  • In Guyver, the Gigantic upgrade takes the form of a large piece of Creator technology which can be swapped between the Guyvers. It actually began as an escape pod for a Creator ship which was physically and mentally tied into Sho while it crashed.
  • In Hellsing, Father Anderson, while otherwise an Implacable Man, simply cannot muster enough gumption to go against Alucard, so he decides it's The Last Dance for him. He tributes his humanity to God by stabbing himself with the Nail of Helena, turning him into a divine monster on par with Alucard and a Humanoid Abomination. Alucard himself loathes the use of the trope, as he thinks only a real human has the right to truly defeat monsters, otherwise you're just replacing a monster with a stronger one.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • The Stand Arrow. Normally, it's used to turn normal people into Stand users. However, someone who is already a Stand user will gain additional powers if shot by the arrow again (Yoshikage Kira gained the ability to create time loops near the end of Part 4 to try and escape the heroes), and when a Stand is shot by the arrow, it becomes a MUCH more powerful version of itself, as seen when Polnareff's Silver Chariot becomes Silver Chariot Requiem and gains "Freaky Friday" Flip abilities. Likewise, Giorno's Gold Experience becomes Gold Experience Requiem and goes from being able to transmute objects into being able to divide by zero, thereby thoroughly trouncing Diavolo and his timeskipping abilities.
    • And before it, the Stone Mask that turns humans into vampires. The Pillarman Kars originally created it to make his race stronger and immune to sunlight, but he discovered it would need to absorb a ridiculous amount of energy before it could upgrade beings as powerful as the Pillarmen. Dio Brando was the beneficiary of this and the aforementioned Arrow in his lifetime, making him one of the most powerful and persistent villains in the series.
    • In Part 7, Steel Ball Run, Johnny Joestar and others find Corpse Parts that allows them to awaken their Stands. The Corpse Parts are actually pieces of Jesus Christ.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Nanoha and Fate became the overpowered mages they are by training a lot. Hayate, who received the power and spells of the Book of Darkness after she became its Master, beats them both in raw magical strength (but her range of spells is "nuke" to "bigger nuke").
    • While training is responsible for much of Nanoha and Fate's crazy power level, a large portion of it is due to their Belkan Cartridge Systems, which fall somewhere in between Upgrade Artifacts and normal old Mid-Season Upgrades.
  • Pactio cards in Negima! Magister Negi Magi work like this, allowing the magister magi to buff the partner's physical abilities, summon them from a great distance, talk to them telepathically, transform and most importantly gain a new artifact. In most cases this artifact is a reflection of the partner's personality, often giving otherwise mundane girls an ability to fight on the same level as trained martial artists and demons (Asuna's BFS before her Training from Hell, though she already had a Chekhov's Armoury) or a new strength atop their fighting skills (Setsuna's floating Tanto knives). In some cases, the use of this artifact can be determined by the girl's inherent skills, (Haruna's drawing speed, Chisame's hacking-skills). Otherwise it usually serves as a tactical advantage as not to offset the earned talents of trained characters while making weak girls useful in combat (Nodoka's mind-reading book, Yue's Magitek Great Big Book of Everything). In exceptional cases, a girl will gain some tactical advantage while already being trained (Kaede's Ninja scarf).
  • In a twist, any previously-used object can work like that in the hands of a high-level Psychometrist in the Psychic Squad universe. Shiho (A Level 7 Psychometer) easily wins a fishing-competition despite having never fished before, simply by using her powers to 'read' the fishing-rod, instantly knowing how best to use it — and later gains Implausible Fencing Powers when handling a 5000-years old saber, since she can copy the abilities of all its previous users.
  • Right at the beginning of Tower of God, Bam receives the Black March from Yuri as to help him out a little. It works wonders, but even though the Needle takes a liking towards him, she is almost never used and at one point given back to Yuri, kind of subverting the whole matter again.

    Card Games 
  • Munchkin has any number of "gain a level" cards, with excuses like "pay for the pizza", "shut up about your character", and "convenient addition error". Though the often ignored rules state that you can't reach level 10 (and thus win) using one of those cards.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: Lord Sovereign needs a piece of the Sekmeht Stone to contain and focus his energy powers.
  • The DCU: Prometheus, a villain of the Justice League of America, can download the abilities of 30 of the world's best martial artists into his mind by inserting a small CD into his helmet. Batman eventually figures this out and foils him by replacing the abilities with those of Stephen Hawking.
  • Doctor Fate: The Helmet of Fate will grant anyone who it allows to wear it incredible magical power and knowledge.
  • Marvel Universe: The Eternity Mask, introduced (via retcon) in Marvel Comics #1000, grants its wearer whatever abilities they need to equal their current opponent, ranging from giving a peasant sword-fighting skills when fighting Sir Percy of Scandia all the way up to giving America Chavez cosmic powers when fighting a Galactus-level entity. However, the Mask explicitly doesn't guarantee that the wearer will beat their opponent; it only gives exactly enough of an upgrade to make the fight fair.
  • Spider-Man: Cosmic Spider-Man, as a result of the Enigma Force choosing Spider-Man as the next Captain Universe.

    Fan Works 
  • In Turnabout Storm, Phoenix's mystical Lie Detector, the Magatama, ended up working like this when Twilight made contact with it through her magic. It gave her the ability to see Psyche-Locksnote  without needing to hold the Magatama with her, albeit only temporarily.

    Films — Animation 
  • Subverted in Kung Fu Panda, where Po trains for most of the film to become the Dragon Warrior and be granted the Dragon Scroll, only to discover that the scroll is a mirror. It pulled double-duty as a Secret Test of Character: neither Shifu nor Tai Lung, nor even Po at first, could figure out why it was "empty", just apparently a blank but rather reflective scroll. It took learning there is no secret ingredient to the Secret Ingredient Soup for Po to realize that the scroll didn't MAKE you the Dragon Warrior, but made you realize you had it all inside of you already.
  • The magic orb from one of The Swan Princess movies that has power of granting perfect mastery of all three disciplines of mystic arts — Creation, Change and Destruction.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey comes in handy for our ape-man ancestors.
  • Used in Battlefield Earth, though when the humans need to learn how to fly Harrier Jets, they inconveniently forget about the Upgrade Artifact and learn how to fly Harriers thorough trial and error in a few days. There's a reason this movie was so critically panned. (If only it was just that; other movies survive nonsensical plot holes; Battlefield Earth doesn't for other reasons.)
  • The movie Dark City combines the Upgrade Artifact and the Training Montage. The psychic hero John has been captured and will be brainwashed, but the doctor in charge of the operation instead uses a different syringe containing the memories of a lifetime of training and use with his fledgling powers. Needless to say, much ass-kicking ensues.
  • Used in The Matrix, of course — rather than spend time actually learning Kung Fu, Neo just has it uploaded directly into his brain. Voila, I know kung fu! At various other points in the series, other characters also get instant uploads of useful skills, such as flying a helicopter, or hotwiring a motorbike. The second is gently spoofed when, before Trinity can be given the hotwiring skills, the Keymaker simply gives her the right key to turn on the bike.

  • Lone Wolf:
    • The Book of the Magnakai at the end of Shadow on the Sand, followed by the Lorestones in the Magnakai series. Each one Lone Wolf finds allow him to learn a new Magnakai skill by the next book.
    • In the World of Lone Wolf spin-off starring Grey Star, the Moonstone itself. In the fourth book, once the hero has completed his quest to find it, his Shianti magic is considerably boosted, gaining new advanced versions of his old powers, as well as a load of Willpower points.

  • Applied, sort of, in Michael Stackpole's Age of Discovery novel trilogy. Those who are supremely skilled in something can tap into magic through their skill, and they infuse their tools with magic in the process. Anyone who uses the tool thereafter will find his capability vastly increased... until the magic drains out through use. So an untrained peasant could pick up a master's sword, and fight like a master for a little while, slowly getting worse, until they're back to their own natural incompetence when all the magic "battery power" is used up.
  • The Apprentice Adept series has two: The Book of Magic and the Platinum Flute. The Book lets anyone who possesses it to cast magic spells at an Adept's power level (It let a troll with no inherent magic become the new Red Adept). The Flute enhances the innate magic of anyone who holds it (allowing Stile, the Blue Adept, to use his magic within the Anti-Magic influence of a unicorn circle). Anyone who can actually play the damn thing gains Adept-level magic. A master musician? Becomes stronger than all the other Adepts put together.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden was already a powerful wizard, but he'd usually run into bad luck using The Never-Never as a shortcut to get places. But when his daughter was kidnapped in Changes he needed to go from Chicago to South America in a hurry, which was when the Leanansidhe gave him the jewel from his mother's amulet, which contained secret knowledge of the paths through that realm.
  • The Helm is an unusually slow-acting example — much of the knowledge it imparts is not accessible by the wearer for months.
  • A few variants appear in the Heralds of Valdemar series
    • The magical sword Need will give her bearer magical defenses if a fighter, fighting skills if a mage, or both if the bearer is neither. The downside is that only women can wield her, and she forms a bond with them at the level of the soul which breaks only when she is ready to be passed on, giving her shades of Cursed Item and Clingy MacGuffin. Then she wakes up...
    • Companions (Bond Creatures resembling horses) enhance the inherent abilities of the people they Choose. In some cases they increase the person's abilities; in others whose powers are already 'on,' they provide a much-needed 'off' switch until their Chosen can get real training.
  • Both applied and lampshaded in the Inheritance Cycle.
    • First lampshaded when Eragon asks Oromis if there is no way to give him the skills he needs, and Oromis responds that, while there is, this would make Eragon startlingly unable to use these acquired skills.
    • Applied later, when Eragon's back is healed by the dragons, and he is given some upgrades to his abilities. Surprisingly few negative effects, despite Oromis' earlier statement.
    • Later applied when Murtagh is trained by Galbatorix, who himself has acquired this through the Eldunari.
    • Applied yet again when Eragon gets the remaining Eldunari in book 4. While this doesn't give him new abilities, it does make him far more able to use the abilities he already has.
  • Nightside: When John Taylor gets Excalibur his hand-to-hand combat skills, speed and efficiency all improve and he gains considerable fencing prowess. According to him it's more like Excalibur is making moves and just needs the wielder for the ride. Overlaps with Empathic Weapon.
  • Night Watch: The third book introduces a magical tome titled Fuaran, penned by a witch of the same name centuries ago. Supposedly, it includes a spell for turning Muggles into Others and increased an Other's power. The book is destroyed at the end of the novel when the person carrying it burns up on re-entry, but a witch named Arina (who was previously in posession of it) manages to partially restore the spell from memory. In the spin-off School Supervision, a rare genie-type Other manages to recreate the book and a so-called Anti-Fuaran using her manifestation powers. The latter is used to turn an Other into a Muggle, which is necessary in order to then upgrade them back into a "gray" Other (without an alignment).
  • Out of the Dark: The Shongairi test direct "neural education" on humanity and finds us surprisingly better at receiving it than most of the Hegemony's species. This in no way comes back to haunt them in the end. Although, to be fair, the "neural education" would've been useless if not for Dracula and his kind.
  • In Isaac Asimov's short story "Profession", schools have been replaced by teaching machines that implant the contents of education tapes into young people's minds. General knowledge, including the ability to read and write, is implanted at the age of eight. The knowledge and skills required for a specific profession are implanted at age eighteen, following a test of the individual's abilities, interests, and attitudes.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Debtor's Planet had a "learning helmet" that was widely used on the adult population of a low-technology planet during one phase of trying to turn it into a pirate base to trouble the Federation. It could, in a single session, implant advanced technical knowledge equivalent to several years of intense study, equivalent to, for example, attending Starfleet Academy. It also left many people with profound psychological problems, such as one character who frequently finds herself curled into a ball under her desk. One man who was deemed too crippled to bother with is glad he wasn't taught this way, and is glad that children are being taught in recognizable, traditional schools.
  • Used in Warcraft: The Last Guardian, when the wizard Medivh teaches his apprentice Khadgar how to ride a gryphon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Vampirism in the Buffyverse consists of losing your soul, needing to drink blood, getting reversibly ugly, and spontaneously becoming a hand-to-hand martial artist, even if you were the uncoordinated nerd who'd never even seen The Karate Kid, let alone received any actual training. Those who have had training in life get a serious boost as vampires.
    • Lampshaded in "Lessons" when Buffy is teaching Dawn to fight, and, referring to a vampire who's just crawling out of the grave, Dawn says: "He's new. He doesn't know his strength. He might not know all those fancy martial arts skills they inevitably seem to pick up."
    • Not quite a Lampshade Hanging, but it is explained in the series that a person who becomes a vampire loses his soul and has it replaced by a demon's; it's not a stretch to assume that all demons have combat ability already.
    • On the other hand, Harmony still had absolutely no idea how to fight when she first became a vampire. Also in one episode, Buffy fights a newborn vampire which she usually kills easily, but because he had martial arts training in life it takes her the whole episode to kill him. Also, Buffy went to high school with the vampire, which made it awkward. He was Affably Evil, and as psych student, he got Buffy to open up to him and discuss her feelings in between rounds.
    • Also lampshaded in another episode where a vampire, who used to be a gymnast in his human life, gives the heroes trouble. In some of the official books with original stories (especially the first ones), some vampires outright said things along the lines of "You can't beat me little girl, I was top of my Taekwando class for two years before I died." and so on.
  • Chuck: as of Season 3, having the new Intersect means you have a Great Big Book of Everything worth of feats at your disposal.
  • Imprinting can work this way in Dollhouse. In the Grand Finale, some of the former Actives have installed USB ports in their heads and carry flash drives containing a variety of skills which they can add and remove from their brains at will. When asked how they make room for the new memories, one (maybe jokingly) grins and shows off a drive labelled "Mercy".
  • Kamen Rider usually has putting on a Transformation Trinket also cause the user to instantly become a proficient martial artist while in their superhero form: depending on who's directing a given episode, they may also suddenly become martial artists in their civilian form. There are, however, some exceptions:
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga: Godai is already a man of many talents and thus a decent brawler, but several episodes focus on his needing to improve his combat skills out of suit so that he can defeat a Monster of the Week when his current skills aren't up to the task.
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Shinji Kido starts out with virtually no combat skills, but slowly develops his abilities as the series progresses, eventually becoming quite a proficient fighter. The other Riders similarly only show hand-to-hand combat skill if their background makes it plausible, such as Ren (bar room brawler), Sudou (hardened cop) and Asakura (psycho outlaw). The others frequently rely on their armor and special abilities to compensate: for example, Kitaoka is mainly a ranged combatant.
    • Kamen Rider Double: Normally the title character's Fusion Dance has Shotaro as the dominant half, who has martial arts skills as part of being a detective. The FangJoker form, however, puts Philip in the driver's seat, who has no such skills: in an effort to compensate, Fang itself turns Philip into The Berserker.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze: Gentarou has no real martial arts ability and usually just fights by the seat of his pants even after becoming a Rider, in contrast to Ryusei who fights with Jeet Kune Do both in and out of suit. Later on, Gentarou ends up taking some kickboxing lessons, which noticeably improve his fighting skills both in and out of suit going forward, and during two of the movies he's able to temporarily borrow Ryusei's skills alongside his powers in a pseudo-Fusion Dance.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim: The fact that this trope is not in play is how Micchy gets outed when he tries to pose as his recently-deceased brother by wearing his suit: other characters familiar with the original Zangetsu's peerless swordsmanship immediately recognize that the person wearing the suit now fights like an amateur, with Micchy normally hanging back and using a pistol in combat up to this point. Most of the other main characters are accomplished dancers and rely on base athleticism early in the show, before developing proper combat skills through practice.
    • Kamen Rider Saber: Touma is an instant natural with using the powers of the magical storybooks that make up half of Saber's abilities, owing to his background as a novelist, but his skills with the sword that make up the other half of said powers is initially amateurish. Other characters start to call him out on relying too much on the books near the end of the first quarter, and he makes an effort to address this weakness going forward, eventually working his way up to being an expert swordsman.
  • In Power Rangers, any Ranger will instinctively know how to use all of his or her gear and Humongous Mecha, and generally only needs to be taught an activation phrase or two. Fighting skills also seem to come with the suit. Billy, the very first Blue Ranger, used Ranger fighting skills while in Ranger form, but in human form, didn't have them and still had to be taught karate to use it out-of-suit. Later Rangers have kept their fight skills in civilian form. Justified in some seasons, where it shows the Rangers have been training for a while before ever getting a morpher. Subverted in Power Rangers RPM, where Ziggy's fighting abilities still merely approach competence even after Falling into the Cockpit.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1 has the Ancient library device, which can imprint itself into a human mind, resulting in major technological advances. The drawback is the human brain can't handle it and the Ancient knowledge must be removed before there's permanent damage.
    • Stargate Atlantis has a device that accelerates a human's evolution to that of an Ancient, granting him Psychic Powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, healing, and super-intelligence (even more if the human in question is already a genius). Unfortunaly, the goal of the device is to force Ascension. If the subject is not ready mentally to become an Energy Being, he will die in a matter of days. Fortunately, it is possible to reverse the process.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spock's Brain" has a Teacher which gives whoever uses it the ability to perform brain transplants and removal, perfectly. The downside is the knowledge is short-lived.
  • In WandaVision, the Mind Stone is retconned into one for Wanda Maximoff. Unlike what was previously believed, HYDRA experimenting with Loki's Scepter on Wanda wasn't a full Super-Empowering event, but instead amplified considerably her latent witch powers. At least according to Agatha, who surmises that a younger Wanda had prevented the Stark Industries bomb from blowing up with probability manipulation magic; Wanda stays dubious of the story.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • One of the most disturbing Upgrade Artifacts is a specific torture rack in a level of Hell in the 3rd Edition D&D cosmology. Each round a character remains in it, they must not only make a Fortitude save (to avoid passing out) and a Will save (to avoid screaming in agony). If they miss one, they get no benefit. The longer they stay in, the better the benefits, up to fifteen rounds (ninety seconds). However, the benefits must be renewed after 99 days.
    • 1st Edition AD&D included magical books and ioun stones that granted you a free experience level if you read or used them. These were dropped from later editions of the game, on the grounds that levels should be earned through actual play, not found lying around in dungeons. There remain certain artifacts in edition 3.5 (The Book of Vile Darkness, etc.) that grant this effect, though they can only be used by specific kinds of spellcasters, and then only once in a lifetime.
    • The Deck of Many things in 3rd Edition can still award enough XP to gain multiple levels. Or it can kill you, or worse. But, up through 3rd edition, the game also had magical Tomes and Manuals that gave the user permanent irreversible upgrades to their physical or mental stats. There are tons of items in the game that make you better at any given skill or task while you're wearing them.
    • One example is the Skillful melee weapon ability from Complete Arcane which allows one to competently operate a weapon without the necessary learning.
    • In 3.5, The Keen weapon enhancement has the same effect as the Improved Critical Feat (double the number of faces on a D20 attack roll that will threaten a critical hit) and they don't stack. So anyone wielding a Keen weapon effectively has Improved Critical while they use it.
  • Dungeons and Dragons 3.X edition spinoff d20 Modern has several. The most egregious is a cybernetic implant in the D20 Future splatbook that grants the patient with 1-4 Feats, depending how much was spent on it.
  • The only way to learn new proficiencies during a campaign in Hc Svnt Dracones is a device called a "Neuroplex", an ocular implant that flashes pages and images related to the subject while the user is asleep or otherwise not conscious of what they're reading. It gives you one point about every two weeks, up to three in a skill, though achieving four points requires a specific Quest anyways.
  • Mage: The Awakening features grimoires, books of magical knowledge that allow those who read them (and have the proper Arcana) to instantly learn spells. Somewhat justified in that a grimoire is created when one mage removes all knowledge of a spell from his mind and puts pen to paper, allowing for ease of instruction and duplication; in addition, the mage who created the grimoire can use it to relearn the spell, and having it around afterwards allows for easier casting of the spell, since you can use it to lighten the mental workload.
  • Pokémon Tabletop Adventures has T Ms and H Ms, however the "M" stands here for "Medicine" instead of machine and looks more like a syringe than a CD.
  • Shadowrun and other cyberpunk tabletop roleplaying games use "skill softs" and linguasofts, datachips containing memories and trained reflexes or foreign languages copied from a donor and uploaded into the recipient's brain via a datajack. For physical skills like combat or piano playing, it's necessary to install a skill wire cyber system into the body's nervous system and limbs which basically remote-controls the body and overwrites its reflexes with new ones while the skill chip is activated. In GURPS Cyberpunk, "slave chips" can be used to paralyze a subject (usually a prisoner) or overwrite his personality with a new subservient one, for example to turn someone into a sex slave.
    • Naturally, these were both invented by William Gibson, the latter in Neuromancer, the former in Mona Lisa Overdrive. The sex chip was usually implanted voluntarily (it makes earning money as a hooker less... icky) and the knowledge imparted by the memory chips vanished as soon as they were removed. His choice of name for memory chips, micro softs, dates the novel somewhat.
    • Also notable is the fact that a skillsoft cannot make you nearly as capable as normally-trained experts, represented as a cap of rank 4 on the skillsoft's rating as opposed to rank 6 in the skill (7 with natural talent) trained normally.

    Video Games 
  • The Assassin's Creed series centers around a device called the Animus, which allows a user to experience the lives of their ancestors stored in Genetic Memory via a virtual reality simulation. Prolonged use of the Animus causes something called a "bleeding effect", whereby the skills of one's ancestors imprint themselves upon the user. Thus, someone can learn to be a master Assassin through mental osmosis of a sort, with only a few potential side-effects... like insanity.
  • Played with in Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny. Equipping a new weapon, armor or accessory will grant a character a skill, but unless you spend some time grinding to master the skill, the skill will only remain available while said item is equipped.
  • Borderlands: Multiple:
    • Players literally find "artifacts" that they use to apply elemental effects to their action skill. In later games, Artifacts instead give you a random set of passive buffs.
    • The main storyline in the Claptrap's New Robot Revolution DLC offers a corner case — one of the quest rewards is a skill point, meaning your character suddenly improves a skill just for finishing that quest.
  • The relics in later Castlevania games are like this, often cube shaped things that give you magic powers. You can even turn them on and off at will!
  • Circuit's Edge, the cyberpunk murder-mystery adventure based on When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger, features a wide variety of mind-enhancing and skill-providing software directly installed in one's brain in a vein similar to fellow cyberpunk pioneer, Neuromancer.
  • In Dark Ball 2 you collect Blessings, most of them are acquired upon beating a boss.
  • The Pyromancy Flame from the original Dark Souls works this way. Unlike the implements used to cast Miracles and Sorcery (and incarnations of Pyromancy later in the franchise), the strength of your Pyromancies is determined entirely by the quality of your Pyromancy Flame and is not influenced by your stats.
    • Some rings also qualify, doing things like negating fall damage or healing the player upon slaying an enemy.
  • This is how you improve your ship in Darkstar One. By collecting enough artifacts, you can upgrade the Darkstar's wings, hull or engines, and unlock new abilities for the Plasma Cannon.
  • The Diablo Franchise has many Magic and Unique items which enable the use of abilities you haven't invested skill points into, or even abilities from a different class. However, take off that piece of gear or store that charm in your chest, and you can kiss that ability goodbye.
  • Dota 2 has Aghanim's Scepter, which upgrades a hero's ability in a certain way or grants them an additional ability. For example, Warlock summons two Golems with his ultimate, and Ogre Magi gains a second Fireblast with a much higher mana cost. Aghamin's Shard also upgrades or adds an ability, but it's cheaper and has a less powerful effect.
  • All of the weapons in Drakengard come with a magical spell the protagonist can use perfectly once he equips the weapon. He can also use a variety of weapons and weapon styles perfectly, but that's probably because he's a Badass Normal.
  • The Elder Scrolls
  • Some talismans in Elden Ring are low-level examples of this trope. They'll grant special abilities like healing the player after a kill or removing fall damage. The rest are either an Amplifier Artifact or a Lethal Joke Item.
  • Fallout
    • In Fallout 2 you can find a number of mysterious memory modules which claim to permanently boost base stats, if you figure out how to use them, they allow you to undergo powerful operations... that take weeks to recover from.
    • Fallout 3 has a better example, in the form of bobbleheads and books that raise a specific skill when grabbed.
    • Fallout: New Vegas brings back the implanted stat boosters, except this time you'll be back on your feet in a matter of hours. There are also some new, more situational implants in the Old World Blues DLC that do things like making you move faster while sneaking.
  • In Fate/stay night, Emiya Shirou's (and by extension, Emiya/Archer's) unique Tracing allows him to gain the abilities of his faked weapons' previous owners. Each of the three scenarios also has another Upgrade Artifact: In Fate, it was Avalon. Unlimited Blade Works, it was the eponymous Reality Marble. In Heaven's Feel, Shirou is Blessed with Suck as his left arm is lost in a fight and replaced by Archer's, which allows him to match up against Servants but quickly overwhelms his mind and body.
  • Frequently used in the Final Fantasy series of games.
    • The first one is possibly the most notable, in that the Upgrade Artifact in question is a rat's tail. As in the literal tail of a rat, which you give to Bahamut to upgrade all four of your characters. Note that the tail itself bestows nothing; it's just a stinky rat tail, but you going to fetch it proves to Bahamut that your party is worthy to receive the permanent class change he grants.
    • In both Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy V, the characters gains access to the skills of 'ancient warriors' by picking up the shards of the Crystals.
    • Has a small presence in Final Fantasy IV, as Rydia can gain several hidden summons from randomly dropped items.
      • In the DS remake, you can find or receive items called Augments that permanently grant the user new abilities.
    • Final Fantasy VI features Magicite, stones that contain the spirits of dead Espers, which can be used to learn spells and gain stat bonuses by carrying them in battle. Characters can also learn spells from certain weapons and armor found in the game.
    • Final Fantasy IX had a slow acting version, with gemstones and special weapons that contained special abilities that they "taught" to the character. Characters had to wear the item though enough battles to fully learn the ability. Afterward, they could throw away the mentor-item like so much used tissue paper.
      • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance did something similar. Characters had to go through a certain amount of battles with a particular weapon or armor equipped to get abilities.
    • In Final Fantasy X-2, Dress Spheres serves the same function, with the same explanation - they contain the abilities of legendary warriors. This became a plot point, as the memories fueling Yuna's Songstress Dress Sphere are connected to the Big Bad.
    • In Final Fantasy VII the characters had no skills (apart from unique limit breaks). EVERY skill that the player characters had was determined by what "Materia" was inserted into their weapons and armor. Some Materia could be "chained", having a Support materia enhance the active materia (making for some incredibly powerful combinations such as Final Blow + Phoenix, which revives the character equipped with it up to 5 times in the same battle).. One Materia (the Yellow Materia) would even let you use certain enemy skills against them - once the materia had "learned" the skill by being equipped AND having that character get hit by the skill in question. This of course was problematical for skills such as Death Sentence, which would kill the character after a timer runs out if it hits.
  • Fire Emblem: All base classes can promote at level 10 when using the right item. However, doing so also means missing out on the other 10 levels the character can gain in that class, so it's better to wait until the character has reached the level cap. Unlike a level, a promotion adds predefined stats to the character, and sometimes gives them a new ability and/or the ability to use new weapon types.
  • The augmentation canisters in Geneforge can instantly give your character new abilities or more points in a skill. Unfortunately, they tend to make you more arrogant, violent, and inhuman. Using more than a certain number of them will alter the ending you get.
  • The Golden Sun series of portable RPGs features items which teach specific psyenergy (the game's equivalent to magic) abilities to the character who equips them.
    • However, these items can be unequipped to be equipped by other characters, making this more a sort of Device Magic. A more fitting example is perhaps the Psyenergy-tablets in the elemental rocks in Golden Sun: The Lost Age.
  • Greedfall: Equipment can grant a level in a talent when worn. The only one that's sort of plausible is Charisma, if it makes the wearer more attractive. Intuition (knowing what to say in a given situation)? Science (making potions and explosives)? Lockpicking (Exactly What It Says on the Tin)? Not so much.
  • Inazuma Eleven features skill manuals, items that instantly teach a character the new skill, which becomes a plot device as the rookie Raimon team keep relying on getting new Game Breaking abilities every chapter to climb up the tournament. It doesn't work by the half of the game and the heroes are finally told they need to train properly instead of spending times looking for papers.
  • The Infamous games utilize this with the sewer-based Power Stations in the first game and Blast Cores in the second. Both unlock brand new abilities for Cole to use, although the Blast Cores do knock him out for several hours.
  • The Prothean beacons in Mass Effect were set up to be this, one has supposedly helped advance the humans to the galactic stage and another has been a part of the asari's advanced culture.
  • In Mega Man ZX you acquire new biometals.
  • In the Metroid series of games, not only does Samus acquire new powers and skills by collecting artifacts, she often loses these artifacts and has to collect them all over again.
  • In Nexus: The Jupiter Incident you manage to acquire a disabled mechanoid. Angel, the ship's AI advisor, subsequently integrates the mechanoid craft into the Angelwing at a molecular level, in spite of being told not to. The Cptn. Cromwell, while already having gotten several ship upgrades, takes a new level of awesome.
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams has the Persona masks, which enable NiGHTS to take on the appearance of a rocket, a dragon, or a dolphin and grant them special abilities.
  • In Overlord the eponymous Overlord has to track down and return Tower Objects to his ominous dark tower in order to upgrade his stats, gain/upgrade spells, and access better armour.
  • Applied without much explanation in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door — when picking up a new hammer or set of boots, Mario automatically learns a new skill, for no apparent reason. Granted, there is a brief tutorial session with Toadette; maybe Mario's just a quick learner.
  • Certification Points in PlanetSide 1 are used as justification for players becoming Do Anything Soldiers given enough time. Every Battle Rank, soldiers get one Certification Point to spend on unlocking equipment, which grants them knowledge on its usage and grants them access to buy the equipment from equipment or vehicle terminals. "Medical", for example, allows you to heal allies and yourself with the Medapp, but you don't learn its resurrection function until you certify "Advanced Medical". Certification points can be refunded every 6 hours, which causes you to lose knowledge on how to use the equipment and the ability to acquire it from equipment terminals.
  • Pokémon
    • The TMs and HMs ,CDs that you stick to your Pokémon's foreheads. Somehow Pokémon can download the data off the disc like that.
    • The various evolution items straddle the line between this an Transformation Trinket. They grant new stats and moves, but unlike 'Trinkets, they aren't reversible. Porygon evolves through an item named Upgrade.
    • The Rare Candy is a level up in a wrapper.
    • The later games introduce Mega Stones, which are required to activate Mega-Evolutions.
  • Secret of Mana had you collect eight orbs each for your eight weapons. Once hammered into place by a trusty dwarf, you could then proceed to ... wait a bit longer for your strongest charge attack (it also increases the base attack of the weapon).
    • The second/final class changes in Trials of Mana are sealed, requiring characters to not only reach level 38, but to have an item to break the seal. The item is different for each and every class, and must be "grown" from a seed that Randomly Drops from a few specific (though thankfully unlimited) monsters. That last part is never explained in-game. In the remake, a post-game questline involves the protagonists gaining yet another class change which requires going on a character-specific quest to obtain the artifact required for said upgrade.
  • Shining Force II has Upgrade Artifacts for certain characters that let them promote to different classes than they would under normal circumstances (Mages can upgrade to Wizards or Summon Magic-using Sorcerers, Priests [Healers] can become either Vicars or Monks, etc.)
  • The mysterious Monoliths in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, which not only repair damaged units, but somehow increases their fighting skills too.
  • Snailiad has the Devastator, which upgrades all three of your weapons.
  • The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games features radioactive object that grant you immunities to environmental hazards, the ability to mend your wounds, or extra weight capacity depending on the artifact.
  • One of the random bonuses equipment in Titan Quest can have is to improve a player character's existing skills, even beyond the cap allowed naturally. Rarely items can grant the player character new skills, either those from a different mastery than their current build or completely unique to the item.
  • World of Warcraft features this too: Sometimes it's an item which the player character can create themselves through their profession to give them a small bonus, while other times its an actual book item that the player uses once to learn a particular skill (Or more likely, upgrade to their profession), such as improved Fishing. A lot of items and weapons DO require the player to be a certain level before they can use it (Including an entire class of Armor).
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Comes in two flavours, both related to the Job System:
    • For each job, there is an equippable item which gives a 50% boost to job XP from battles.
    • There are also rare consumable items which will increase a job by one rank when used.

  • The ancient spirits in Circumstances of the Revenant Braves give an individual instant special powers as well as the skill to use them.
  • In Demon Fist, Pandora's Spear gives the wielder Super-Speed, Super-Strength and a Healing Factor. It may also grant knowledge of spear-fighting techniques, but it's unclear since the only observed wielder had been obsessed with it for years.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Dewitchery Diamond awakened Elliot's magical potential and created Ellen whose potential was awakened from the start.
  • In Evon, a good spellbook is this for magic users. Not only do the books give the user access to a wider range of spells, but by studying and meditating on the spells within, a caster's understanding of magic, and with it, his power, increases. Evon was a much stronger caster with just a couple of days with her father's book.
  • In Girls in Space, the Universal Upgrader instantly cures Fergus's gambling addiction and gives him enormous muscles. There are also Infobadges, which are Upgrade Artifacts used to teach the characters language and other skills.
  • In The Order of the Stick, while Redcloak is a formidable spellcaster in his own right, his Crimson Mantle artifact grants him longevity, resistance to disease, and the knowledge needed to alter the order of the cosmos (with the right tools, of course).
    • Given that he was a novice acolyte before he donned the cloak, and the first spell he cast after putting it on was Smite, and the universe quite explicitly runs on D&D 3E rules, he probably gained at least six character levels from it too.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted with the SCP Foundation's SCP-572, a katana which makes the wielder think they're an invincible badass. And not only does it give the wielder delusions of grandeur, it's badly balanced and its edge is blunter than a butter knife.
  • In the Whateley Universe, the sentient magic sword "Destiny's Wave" granted Alex Farshine qinggong agility, Taoist healing knowledge, peak physical fitness, superb martial-arts skills, Implausible Fencing Powers, and the ability to speak, read and write Chinese. Oh, and transformed him into a hot Chinese Girl.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "It's a Bird, It's Insane, It's Dale!", the eponymous Dale comes into possession of an alien rock that causes anyone who comes in contact with it to become stretchy and bouncy, and decides to become a superhero known as Rubber Bando. Naturally, the episode's villain also acquires a piece, and uses it to commit Carmen Sandiego-scale acts of theft.
  • Get Ed:
    • The series finale features an alien artifact simply known as "The Machine" which, when activated, will grant Ed superpowers (flight, energy blasts, etc). However, rather than turning Ed into a singular, superpowered teen hero, the artifact mistakenly splits the power between Ed and the Big Bad Bedlam, who has cloned Ed's DNA onto himself.
    • Half the episodes of this series involve various attempts of both Bedlam and Ed to get ahold of other Ed artifacts. Only two of those artifacts make lasting reappearances: Ed's Slammer, an extendable energy beam weapon that works like a sword or whip. And Ed's Optical upgrades that allow him to see in the dark.
  • An episode of Men in Black: The Series involves a dislodged part of an alien spaceship that is basically used to refine their fuel. When used on organic beings, it grants Personality Powers. Agent J becomes a cross between Spider-Man and Quicksilver while K becomes an implacable man of stone. The worms turn into living coffee and try to drink themselves and each other.
  • My Adventures with Superman: The mysterious alien tech operates as this, granting the users enhanced abilities immediately with no apparent need to familiarize oneself with how it works.
  • The Turtles receive these in the fifth season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), in the form of amulets which, along with the new weapons they're given, allow them to use ninja abilities reminiscent to those in Naruto.
  • Xiaolin Showdown had the collecting of magical artifacts as its whole MacGuffin, but still, the young monks would sometimes be presented with particularly powerful ones as a reward when they had officially reached a new level of skill. Certain Wu, however, took a fair bit of training to use correctly. The Tangleweb Comb comes to mind.