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You Have Researched Breathing

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Guess which one he chooses...

"Milk is the one substance all mammals can consume immediately after birth. But some madman at Blizzard is either unfamiliar with the stuff or has confused "milk" with "Jack Daniels Old Time Tennessee Whiskey," because you have to be a seasoned adventurer before you're allowed a glass of it [...] Things only get more demented as you go up in level. You need a Ph.D. in Kicking Ass to slurp down a bowl of soup, and you'll need to be more than halfway to godhood before you're allowed to face the challenge and responsibility of eating pie."

A video game treats an ability that should logically be simple and effortless as a complex feat that needs to be explicitly mastered.

Suppose you're playing some Real-Time Strategy game such as Age of Dungcraft. Your Deadly Deathknights of Death can shoot fast-moving vehicles with their missiles, but attacking buildings or infantry with the things simply doesn't occur to them yet. Sigh. You totally thought you taught that ability.

Some building time and resources later, you have researched breathing.

It's bad enough when you have to upgrade weapons and acquire new tech rather than start with all of it (especially if you researched it already last week). But if You Have Researched Breathing, then you are using optional upgrades for things that shouldn't need to be researched, that shouldn't even be on the Tech Tree in the first place: it should be second nature to that sort of unit. And yet, somehow, it isn't.

Also prone to happen in any other type of game with character customization or unlockables, such as Role-Playing Games. Yes, you can't wear boots or drink potions until you grind enough XP to level up.

Can overlap with Ability Required to Proceed. Compare with Level-Locked Loot. The corollary is often Instant Expert, where Researching Breathing automatically allows those who Breathe to do so instantly and flawlessly. The character may also be subject to a Limited Move Arsenal, where they need to forget something in order to learn something else. If it's an actual skill, but something the character should know how to do already (like a veteran soldier learning how to use grenades), that's Overrated and Underleveled.


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    Action Adventure 
  • In Bunny Must Die, the main character Bunny starts the game facing left and can't turn around without a special item enabling her. Note the Exact Words there — she can walk right just fine, if she gets forced to face that direction, but then she loses the ability to turn around and face left, and due to typical platform Jump Physics she can still move right in the air without turning around. The existence of a distinction between turning and moving forward is odd enough in a platformer, and the finer points of controlling Bunny so dependent on it, that the "Gears of the Past" exist mostly to force people to notice it. That it enables players to try beating the game without the item, and also foreshadows a plot point, Bunny has been moving through time as much as space to get to this cave because she's being positioned to free the Big Bad, and so isn't facing in a purely "spatial" direction until the gears rectify this, are bonuses.
  • One of the complaints against Castlevania: Circle of the Moon was that you needed to find a power-up in order to run. On the plus side, said powerup was 5 minutes into the game. The minus side is the enemy guarding it is quite difficult because you can't run yet.
    • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, you need a relic to backdash and another to do a downward kick after a double jump. Sounds fine, but in pretty much every other Metroidvania Castlevania the backdash is had from the very beginning, and you can automatically kick after a double jump once you get the double jump. At least Soma isn't supposed to be a highly-trained vampire hunter, so it makes more sense than the Circle of the Moon example, but it's still quite aggravating. He retains the backdash and drop kick in the sequel Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, so he at least didn't suffer completely from the loss of his souls in the intermission.
    • In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Alucard has to find the Cube of Zoe relic in order to... find items from destroyed candles. That said, hearts, money and axes popping out of destroyed candles is highly implausible in Real Life, so perhaps all other characters had that relic with them already. Inverted by Alucard's spells; you can do those simply by getting the button combinations right, with no need to buy the scrolls that teach them to you.
    • Downplayed in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, where Johnathan and Charlotte need the Push Cube relic to push heavy items out of the way. Said relic is found about 12 inches away from the first object in the game that can be pushed (an empty stagecoach).
  • La-Mulana requires you to find 10 coins to purchase the ability to save the game. Even as a homage to Nintendo Hard retro games, that's pushing it. The remake removes this requirement.
    • Also unusual is that your archaeologist character can't read (not even signs written in his language) without buying a gadget for his laptop computer. It's not nearly as cheap as the game-saving item. The device that translates the glyphs costs even more money on top of that, and in this game you won't get far without it.
  • Ōkami gives the player character the option to buy an ability that lets her pee. For 20 times the price, she gets a more useful ability. Poop. Kinda makes sense, since it's exploding poop.
  • Lara Croft's skill tree in Tomb Raider (2013) includes the ability to use her climbing axe for stealth kills and melee attacks. Some of her abilities in this game are clearly meant to reflect her mental willingness to actually do things as opposed to the inability to do them. However, she's perfectly willing to garrote enemies with her bow much earlier in the game. This is more likely to break her limited equipment and it's also a much more difficult way to try and kill someone than using a sharp metal tool designed to stick into things anyway.
    • More blatant is the ability to retrieve arrows from corpses after you shoot them. You can't before you unlock the required skill, not even from deers.
  • Several useful abilities are granted to you in cutscenes in Sword of Mana. Once again, these include sitting.
    • Legend of Mana is kind enough to start you out with the ability to sit. The ability to slide, tackle, and taunt, however, require intense training to discover.note 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In most games, Link is more of an Instant Expert, but Twilight Princess gives him several secret sword techniques that can only be learned from the Hero's Shade. Some of them, like the Helm Splitter or Mortal Draw, are complex enough that it makes sense that he'd have to learn them from somewhere. On the other hand, there are techniques like "Stab an enemy when he's on the ground" or "smack the enemy with your shield", which you'd think he'd be capable of figuring out on his own. Skyward Sword goes ahead and gives Link access to these two attacks from the start.
    • In The Minish Cap you need to be taught by Swiftblade how to break pots and rocks with your sword. There's not even any special move or anything, it's just "Swing your sword at pots or rocks." Lampshaded by Swiftblade himself: normally, he explains each move he teaches you as a series of three steps, but, for this "technique," he describes Step 1 as "swing your sword at pots or rocks" and then says that that's "pretty much it."
    • In Tears of the Kingdom, the ability to raise and lower a Hylian Hood worn by Link must be unlocked by completing the mayoral election questline in Hateno Village, and even then, the two styles can only be switched by talking to Cece afterwards. A particularly silly case since Link is shown wearing a lowered Hylian Hood in the game's own prologue.

    Adventure Games 
  • DLC Quest deconstructs this within an inch of its life. You have to collect coins in-game to buy DLC. Literally everything other than the existence of a horse, planet, and people must be bought before it can be used. Want to spin the grindstone? Buy the ability from the shop. Want to cut down bushes in your way? Buy it from the shop. Want to move left and jump? Buy it from the shop. Want to have animation? Buy it from the shop. Want to PAUSE? BUY IT FROM THE SHOP.
  • In the freeware game Last Word, the protagonist, Whitty Gawship, needs to purchase levels in wine-tasting from a cat before she can try those fine wines for herself.
  • The Quest for Glory series of games, being a hybrid of an Adventure Game with RPG elements, had this on occasion. If your character started with zero points in a skill, such as climbing, then they could never get better at it no matter how many times you tried to climb that tree. Although sometimes you could learn a skill by reading a book. In the fifth game, your character has to read a book about swimming to get over his Super Drowning Skills.note 
    • However, this lead to an interesting exploit in the first version of Quest for Glory I, where you could add 5 points to a skill and then take back 4, allowing you to have a point in every skill and train up in everything.
    • Parodied in Quest for Glory IV, where the book that teaches fighters how to climb is said to use only small words, with lots of simple, brightly colored pictures.
  • In Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, the aliens have a device that causes temporary Laser-Guided Amnesia. In game terms, the player actually forgets how to do everyday things by disabling action verbs. Apparently, you can forget how to talk or pick up items but can remember later.
  • In Horse Tales Emerald Valley Ranch, the MC needs a blueprint to build a shapeless pile of hay. It's entirely possible to build a bridge before you get this blueprint.

    Action Games 
  • Brink! has the revive syringes, which medics can freely distribute to their squadmates but can't administer to themselves until you invest points into this at a higher level. In real life, the dosage of such drugs is notoriously difficult to control, and use by untrained personnel is likely to end badly.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you need the "Tactical Knife" addon in order to hold a knife in your left hand and a pistol in your right. If you drop a pistol with the addon and grab another without it, however, your highly trained commando character will forget how it works. Similarly, you need the Scavenger perk to know how to... Scavenge ammo off corpses, or the Commando perk to do a Deadly Lunge, etc.
    • This was addressed in Black Ops; you can pick up ammo from similar guns (MP5K feeds MP5K) without Scavenger. Instead, Scavenger allows you to convert ammo for one type of weapon to work in a different one — for example, you can take ammo from an AK-47 and make it into MP5K ammo.
  • Devil May Cry: Dante's Gunslinger Style has several of these; the otherwise basic feats or functions of the firearm(s) require him to level up said Style or unlock the related skills first before they can be used. For example, he can perform his Stinger and fire a shotgun, but doing both at the same time requires the separate "Gun Stinger" move. Other Gunslinger-dependent moves include firing the shotgun backwards, steadying the aim of the Spiral anti-tank rifle for massive damage, and firing the grappling hook attachment of the Kalina Ann rocket launcher. However, some of the most glaring examples are the moves Dante already performed in previous cutscenes, but had to be "unlocked" first in-game via the Gunslinger Style. These include firing his handguns in multiple directions (Twosome Time), or opening the Pandora's briefcase form to unleash a blinding light (PF666: Omen).
  • In the NES version of Double Dragon I, Billy Lee is a trained martial artist, yet he starts the game not knowing how to do some very basic moves, such as an uppercut, a roundhouse kick, or even the simply ability to punch downward at enemies lying on the ground. All these things have to be learned from experience points collected in-game.
  • In Deus Ex, JC Denton, the protagonist, is supposedly a highly trained, nanotechnology-enhanced super soldier, yet no matter how you distribute his starting skills, he's never more than barely competent at one thing. This can potentially lead to a highly-trained "super soldier" that's only marginally competent with a pistol, but barely understands how rifles, explosives, and even knives are used.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: your character needs to take a perk in order to bribe guards to look the other way when you commit a crime. You can bribe characters in general without the perk, just not the guards, so it's not quite as severe as a lot of other examples. Still, how much experience does a person really need to master the art of...handing money to a cop?
  • In Far Cry 3, you need the help of a magic tattoo to do such things as cook grenades (Hold them for a moment after pulling the pin), and slide after running. Everything else is understandable as the story focuses on Jason as a nobody with no combat experience who gains experience during his adventure. Presumably the tattoo gives him the courage to hold on to the grenade for a little bit longer and the agility to jump into a slide from a sprint without breaking a hip.
  • Freedom Wars puts a unique twist on this trope: as a prisoner, you have very little in the way of rights or privileges, and doing anything that's against the rules will extend your sentence, including walking more than five steps in your cell or lying down in your bed. To be able to do that much without getting in trouble, you have to earn the rights to do so.
  • In Fallout 3, you need to receive special training from the Brotherhood of Steel (or the simulation in the Operation: Anchorage DLC) before you can wear the Powered Armor. Fair enough, except that you didn't need any such training in Fallout or Fallout 2, your followers (like Charon and Jericho, who probably haven't received Brotherhood training) don't seem to, and the raiders who took over an Enclave outpost managed just fine without. You're apparently the only person in the entire wasteland who can't figure it out on their own.
    • The Lone Wanderer will happily chew on raw giant insects, mutated dogs, crabs and bears that you have just freshly killed with no chance of getting infected with various parasites (as well as stick their head into a toilet covered in 200 year old fecal bacteria to get a drink), but human meat isn't on the menu until you learn a perk to eat it/overcome revulsion from it. Even without the perk, you can eat "Human meat" dropped off Feral Ghouls, with no loss to your Karma (as opposed to regular cannibalism through the perk.) Seems like ghouls aren't equal to humans in more ways than one.
    • Fallout 4 does shed some light on the power armor training requirements, since now each suit is a walking tank that folds around and encapsulates the player. It looks like getting it wrong would result in losing a limb. Of course, this raises more questions, seeing as almost anyone else in the game can still use it. At least the Player has good reason to know how to use it, though; both characters are heavily implied or outright stated to be veterans of the Sino-American War in Alaska(with one theory being they actually met in said war), so they would logically know how to use the Americans' power armour, and it's not unbelievable that other variants wouldn't be more advanced. And actually encountering enemies with power armour(outside of groups like the Brotherhood who specialise in it) in the game is infrequent enough to be considered a minor boss battle in most cases and so it's not unbelievable that those rare individuals somehow learned how to use it, with the furthest belief stretch being that bandits can use it(though visually it appears they can't actually repair it properly, as most bandit suits are just metal plates haphazardly welded onto a powered exoskeleton.
  • The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues gives you a base which is controlled entirely by automated personalities, and you have to find holotapes containing their personalities and functions to make use of any of its features. This means that you have to find a holotape before you get a drink of water from the sink, and a second upgrade holotape before the sink will let you fill bottles with water to take on your journey.
    • Also, the automated sink is literally the only water source in the entire game where you can refill your bottles.
    • Cooking and crafting take on this aspect as well. It would make sense that a higher skill would represent know-how and experience to make a complicated weapon, explosive, ammo type, drug or meal. It just gets ridiculous that you'd need a fairly high Survival skill level of 50 just to know how cook a fucking Bighorner steak, despite the fact that other types of steaks are available at lower levels.
    • There are martial arts techniques that can only be unlocked by being trained by martial artists scattered across the Mojave. The Khan Trick is one such technique, and allows you to pick a handful of sand off the floor and blind your opponent with it.
  • What's the most expensive cosmetic items you can buy in Loadout? The ability to take off your underpants and have your censored man parts jiggle around in the battlefield.
  • In Just Cause 3, you play as Rico Rodriguez, a world-renowned mercenary/government agent who specializes in toppling dictatorships almost single-handedly. Despite this, he has to train at a shooting range to unlock the ability to aim down the sights on non sniper rifle guns.
  • Mass Effect let the various Player Character classes use all weapons, but they can't use a scope without training in that type of weapon. Shepard is a highly-trained special forces Marine who can't bend their head a few inches.
    • Mass Effect 2 has Shepard unable to use certain weapons at all without training. Most bizarrely, every class can use heavy weapons (which include everything from flamethrowers to nuke cannons) yet most require training to use assault rifles. And somehow everyone in the entire galaxy has forgotten about throwable grenades.
    • Mass Effect 3 brings back grenades and lets any class use any weapon effectively in both single-player and co-op, leading to players' joy at their CQC Infiltrator, Sniper Adept, or anything else they cared to use.
    • The first game allowed the player to switch out their armor and that of their squad. In ME2, the only way to do change the squad's was by gaining loyalty or DLC. Same in ME3, but without loyalty. While armour changes in ME2 are palette swaps only and don't affect gameplay, in ME3 each armour swap has a different passive effect.
    • Biotic abilities apparently vary wildly on the underlying level in the way unmatched by the Force. How else to explain Adepts/Sentinels/Vanguards capable of throwing people away from them in all installments, yet unable to pull them forward until the second game?
    • Try being an Adept. Right off the bat you can summon a black hole that lifts and disables every enemy in the area. But lifting a single target requires training. Several other classes can get the single target version but the black hole is Adept only.
    • Throwing grenades and switching to different kinds of ammo is an unlockable ability in ME2, even though you can figure that out on your own in both the original and the third game.
  • No More Heroes: One of the abilities Travis Touchdown can learn via being beaten up by a Russian drunkard in exchange for some plastic balls scattered throughout the city is how to run.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: Completing all the revenge missions unlocks a reward. That is, the ability to take off your jacket.
  • Returnal requires finding specific upgrades before Selene can use alternate fire modes of ranged weapons or attack in melee at all. Possibly justified since unlocking either requires alien technology, but both have buttons on the controller that simply don't work until you find them.
  • Space Invaders Infinity Gene: After a few levels, your ship "evolves" the ability to... move freely in all directions. Though being able to do so is unconventional in a Space Invaders game.
  • In System Shock 2, every weapon but the Wrench has skill requirements that must be met, or you can't use them at all. Your character goes through basic military training if he joins the Navy or Marines, which only makes you capable of using a pistol. A Marine spending a whole year in weapons training will let him use a shotgun as well. An assault rifle requires a skill level of 6, and thus it is impossible for even a guy who spent 3 years in the Marines to start with the ability to use. The crystal shard is an even more blatant example. You need high research skill AND a rank of exotic weapons in order to use it as a glorified club.
  • In Team Fortress 2 you can purchase the ability to point and laugh at your enemies.
    • As well, three of the game's rare hats are... The Scout, Sniper, and Engineer without their default hats. They need a collectable to figure out how to not wear a hat. The Spy can also unlock a misc item that is... his default suit jacket, unbuttoned.
    • Seeing Pyroland requires everyone to have certain items, including the Pyro — when this is supposed to be what the Pyro sees all the time. This is understandable, as being forced to have the Pyrovision active when playing as the Pyro would be quite annoying.
    • Parodied with the high-five taunt which includes a page where Saxton Hale claims high-fiving someone is his invention, is complicated enough that you need to pay him to learn how, and before people could only congratulate each other through punches to the face.
    • Similarly, the flavor text for the Gunboats boots, as seen on the Rocket Jump page quote, mentions that stairs were only invented centuries after second floors were (hence the need for rocket-jumping to reach them).
    • Equipping the Shortstop gives the Scout the ability to reach out and shove someone.

    Maze Games 
  • In Pac-Man Arrangement (2005), Pac-Man needs to collect a power-up in order to jump, even though this was an ability he had naturally in previous games like Pac-Mania.

  • City of Heroes and City of Villains. Every. Single. Powerset has at least a few places where you need thousands of Mook defeats and specialized training to learn things single-bullet fire for an assault rifle fully automatic by default — and sword-oriented powersets aren't much better. At least with the power-armored melee attacks the training might be needed to coax primitive interface into overhead smash.
    • And you need to get to level 2 to learn to "rest", which is exactly what it sounds like.
    • One of the most egregious examples is the Medicine power pool. The animations for each power in the pool involve pulling out this little green device, aiming it at a target, and pushing a button that makes this green laser and mist spray out. The first two powers in each pool are available at level 6, the third power is available at level 14. The first two powers of the Medicine pool target allies, and the third targets yourself. So if you take one of the powers at level 6, it takes 8 levels for your character to be able to go from pointing the device at allies to pointing the device at him/herself.
  • In Dofus you have exactly one emote starting off with. Sitting down. Waving, cheering, playing Rock–Paper–Scissors, lying down, even farting require quests or emote scrolls.
    • It's sequel, Wakfu, follows the same pattern, though you can't even sit down until you defeat your first monster.
  • EVE Online: The game has a large, complex skill tree, but many of the skills don't really make sense as something you'd need to learn. For instance, you need a skill to invite players from other races into your corporation. And even though you can buy things from distant stations from the beginning, you need to train a skill to do the same with selling things.
  • EverQuest requires players to grind several levels before they can learn how to dodge during combat, as in "simply move away from an attack."
    • Made even more egregious by the fact that a monk can hold a weapon in each hand at level 1, but a warrior, who is trained in the art of weapons of war, must wait until level 13 before they can even attempt to wield two weapons.
  • Final Fantasy XIV is usually reasonable enough with its actual combat abilities, but when the crafting classes get involved, things get weird. While "Orange Juice" is a simple level 6 recipe, not so for melon juice. To make melon juice, you need to have leveled to 90, acquired a very expensive recipe book, and picked up high-end equipment. Ingredients include the elemental residue of moon rocks. (To make melon juice IRL, you... juice a melon and add sugar water.)
  • Guild Wars 2 requires you to level up to eat certain foods. It's handwaved away as needing that level to take advantage of the magic that's baked into the food, but you'd think you'd be able to eat it anyway, just not gain any benefits, right?
  • Kingdom of Loathing starts you out with the ability to equip helmets/hats, pants, weapons, and shields (or other items you want to carry around in your off-hand, which can be anything from spellbooks to stuffed animals). If you want to wear a shirt, you need to learn Torso Awaregness (sic). It's taught by a gnome in a secret area only available after ascending. If you learn it in Bad Moon, the gnome who teaches you it is kinda baffled that you don't know about your torso. Without that skill, not only are you unable to figure out how to use shirts, defeated monsters won't even drop shirts. Certain foods and drinks have level requirements as well. Also, just about all gear has some sort of stat requirement, from headgear to accessories.
    • It took a kingdom-wide effort of back-breaking labor of quenching a massive brushfire, 9 years after the game was released, for adventurers to realize that they do indeed have backs and that you can wear equipment over it.
    • Special skills are required to make certain foods and drinks. Most are believable, but it's a little weird that you need Advanced Cocktailcrafting and a high-tech still to stick a paper umbrella in a drink.
    • A skill revamp added specialized training in the arts of smirking, arched eyebrows, and many other facial expressions.
  • La Tale has books which, when read, can teach your character to use a particular emote. These emotes include the ability to point at things, the ability to stick your hand out without pointing at things, and the ability to be sad. To make it worse, these books tend to have a low chance of even working, so most of the time, your character will be completely unable to comprehend how to look angry or whatever.
  • Mabinogi has the "Rest" skill, which has to be learned. That's right, the game doesn't even give you the ability to sit down until an NPC teaches you how (to get higher ranks in the skill, you have to learn from NPCs or books). Fortunately, it's one of the first skills that player characters learn.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, both Jedi Knights and Jedi Consulars assemble their first lightsabers in a cutscene. However you will be unable to make more lightsabers unless you take artifice as a crafting skill, get it to the required level and obtain a relevant schematic.
    • For Free-To-Play players, they must get to level 10 in order to sprint and level 25 in order to use speeders.
  • When starting Ragnarok Online every character first has to level in the novice class. This is partially because the novice classes skills include fundamental abilities, like sitting down.
  • In RuneScape, your character can, starting out, use bronze armor and weapons, but it's not until higher levels of Defense or Attack that he can wear iron, steel or any other weapons. The same goes for mining rocks — you can't mine, say, mithril at starting level, but you can mine copper and tin, even though the ore is right there either way.
    • Then, there is waiting ten levels to learn how to add a basic chocolate bar to a simple, already cooked cake. note  That's just the tip of the iceberg. The player character has to get an an absurdly high 68 Cooking just to know how to add tuna to a baked potato.
    • Or topping a pizza with anchovies.
  • In Star Trek Online, you need to reach level 30 before you learn to call your ship and ask them to beam down some Red Shirts to assist. And its only available for the Tactical class.
  • In World of Warcraft, it is possible to have a character that is too low level to drink a glass of milk. No, the milk isn't magical or from some exotic animal or anything. Just a regular glass of milk. This is just one food example of many.
    • You can drink plain old water from the start, but fancy water from an oasis in Uldum has to wait until you're a level 80 adventurer who's seen every part of the world and fights Physical Gods for a living. Too much fizzy power for you to handle.
      • Weirdly averted with most alcoholic items; there are plenty of "extremely potent" boozes that you can guzzle down immediately at level 1 and get hella smashed from — which only makes the milk and water examples above all the more ridiculous.
    • While most of the professions have some form of logic to their research, Herbalism has you capable of identifying all plants as soon as you get Apprentice, and spotting them from thirty paces, but before Mists of Pandaria, you couldn't PICK them, even though you could pick others. This became more reasonable after the revamp so that trying to pick plants you're unfamiliar with results in unusable bits of destroyed herb.
    • You also need to be level 20 as a worgen to learn how to run on four legs. On the bright side, you also automatically learn how to ride mounts at the same time.
    • Rogues require level 26 to sprint. To every other class, the very concept of running as hard as you can is completely alien.
    • Characters can equip hats, pauldrons and jewellery from the start, but with the exception of some vanity items, you're unlikely to find any you can wear until about level 20-25.
    • This trope is parodied by Griftah the Troll salesman who sells costly amulets that "grant" you abilities such as eating food to heal wounds and great swimming skills. All of these are "abilities" characters in the game have to begin with.
    • Hunters and Warlocks now don't know how to give their pets commands until a certain level. While this helps with learning the class, it can also be rather annoying when you can't tell your pet to stop attacking.
    • Even portals sometimes come with a level restriction, such as the Dark Portal leading to Outland. On the other hand, nothing is stopping you from getting a mage to open you a portal to Pandaria at any level.
    • A now-gone webcomic had a troll (in-game, not internet) mocking the idea that he was too low level to eat a loaf of bread. A mighty struggle ensued, and he...exploded. The bread flashed, and one of the other people in the party asked "Did...did the bread just level?"
    • Before Cataclysm removed them, weapon skills were this. They were slowly leveled by fighting with the weapon in question (reasonable), but if you never equipped a specific type of weapon before, you had to go to town and pay a trainer NPC to unlock the ability to even equip this kind of weapon, at which point you could begin the long and time-consuming process of actually training yourself to fight with this weapon. So a level 80 paladin who was one of the world's most proficient combatants with a mace still had to take courses in... holding a sword without dropping it, apparently.

    Platformer Games 
  • And Everything Started To Fall: Each stage of life gives you new abilities which seem very basic. Now, a baby not being able to jump is understandable, but it's odd how being a teenager is needed to crawl, an adult to swim, or an old man to push boxes.
  • Ayo the Clown: Ayo can't jump until he retrieves his shoes from the shoemaker in level 2.
  • Banjo and Kazooie don't gain new moves from new items, but they "learn" them from moles instead, never bothering to figure out or improvise new moves themselves. For example, after learning to aim and shoot eggs, Kazooie needs a separate move for the underwater version. It becomes outright silly when said moles need to teach them how to do stuff natural to their species, like telling Kazooie how to fly or glide.
  • In Distorted Travesty 3: Due to the machinations of a Reality Warper, you start the game without any abilities at all, including moving. Your friend manages to reverse-hack reality to get your ability to move back, but jumping is still out. Cue some platforming... Without jumping. You have to manage riding various platforms, collecting keys, unlocking doors, and avoiding enemies until you can get yourself some jump boots.
  • Donkey Kong 64 requires you to imbibe potions that allow you to, among other things, smash stuff with your skull, pull levers, handstand, throw haymakers, etc. Subverted because it's been suggested they actually give the Required Secondary Powers needed to do these (a hard enough skull to bash safely, strength to force rusty levers, strength and stamina to handstand as easily as standing, the type of Super-Strength needed to punch down metal gates, and so on).
  • Jables's Adventure gives this one a good skewering:
    Squiddy: I will now bestow on you the power to jump. Press [Z] to clear that gap!
    Jables: I could already do that.
    Squiddy: Oh. Good for you then.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid: Samus needs a power-up just to be able to crawl through small chasms and another to shoot her beam more than a few feet in front of her.
    • In Metroid Fusion, Samus starts out able to grab ledges and climb up. Strangely, Metroid: Zero Mission turned this into a necessary upgrade, the Power Grip.
      • Makes some sense in context: the Fusion Suit is lighter than the Power and Varia suits due to lacking the exoskeleton, so she can use her already inhuman strength to grab ledges, ladders and handlebars.
    • In fact, Samus has to re-learn many of her abilities in nearly every game.
  • Over the course of Ori and the Blind Forest, the titular forest spirit learns new maneuvers from the Ancestral Trees spawned by their deceased brethren, including a Wall Jump, Double Jump, Dash, Spring Jump, and Attack Reflector. By the time of the sequel, they have apparently forgotten all of these skills except for the Wall Jump, and have to relearn them.
  • An inversion in the short flash game Persist, where you gradually unlearn basic abilities along the way, courtesy of a spiteful goddess, who first removes the player character's arms (taking away his ability to swim), then his legs (you can still crawl, but like in the above example, you have to platform without jumping). You regain your ability to jump for the final level, at the cost of your ability to see your character, as his physical body itself is destroyed.
  • Rayman series:
    • In the first Rayman, being magically granted running makes Rayman forget the near-useless ability to grimace. Cue an important boss battle in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc years later, he relearns the grimace... through a god-powered artifact, the nature of which gives it a new plot-vital power this time.
    • Rayman Origins takes it a step further: you have to be granted the ability to use a basic attack!note 
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero:
    • The Crab Claw and Mouse Bite upgrades, which lets Shantae attacks enemies while in Crab and Mouse form, respectively. Apparently, Shantae doesn't know how to snip at things as a crab or bite people as a mouse without being taught beforehand.
    • In Pirate Queen's Quest, one of the movement tools is the Pirate's Hat, which can be used as a makeshift parachute to glide through the air. Even though Risky has been wearing her pirate hat from the start, she can't do it until you actually get this upgrade.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • In Tearaway, your Messenger doesn't know how to jump without the use of special drum platforms until two levels in, and will just display a confused thought bubble if you press the jump button before then.

    Puzzle Games 
  • The Talos Principle: Among the objects you have to unlock the ability to use are a box (though given the fancy moniker of "hexahedron") and a sort of platform that you can carry things around on.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Many things in Age of Empires are things you'd logically need to learn about before you can use them, like Gunpowder, but there are a few examples of this, like the Huns being able to research Atheism. Which would seem to imply that belief is the default state, if not for the fact that the other civilizations have to research Faith. Another example is how you need to reach the very final Age so that you can teach your ranged attackers to Lead the Target.
  • In Evil Genius 2 A considerable level of research is required to unlock such arcane secrets as using stairs to explore the third dimension of your lair, or arming your minions with handguns. And you get high-tech Lairbuilders5000 right at the start.
  • In Command & Conquer: Generals, the GLA workers ask for new shoes. In the expansion, you can research/"purchase" shoes to enhance their speed, for which they thank you and stop complaining. This basic thing requires a black market (high-tier research facility) too.
    • Also, your basic soldiers are equipped with assault rifles like everyone else. Angry Mobs only possess pistols from the start, but can gain assault rifles later, which also requires the involvement of black market. Don't even ask why these mobs can only be recruited late into the game when you get RPG users at the start, or why no-one else can get access to their petrol bombs.
    • You need to get an upgrade at your barracks to give your soldiers the ability to capture buildings. The only component of capturing buildings we see is your soldiers kneeling in front of whatever building they're capturing while holding your flag. What's so complicated about that?
    • USA apparently has to research "Composite Armor" for their supposedly advanced modern tanks, implying that until that point, the Crusader and Paladin "MBTs" are rolling around with World War II-era Rolled Homogeneous Armor.
  • Crusader Kings III has a downplayed example. Most cultures need to research Primogeniture, which is reasonable because of historical realism. But it's researched in the Cultural Tradition tree, next to things like "knowing how to build cities" and "being really good at navigating forests". All Cultural Traditions take decades if not centuries to implement. So decreeing "I want my oldest son to get everything" is as complicated and time-consuming as learning urban architecture.
  • Several of the traits in the Dawn of War II campaigns feature severe Gameplay and Story Segregation both from the 40K lore (commonplace for games) and from its own storyline. Tarkus (Tactical Marine) and Thaddeus (Assault Marine) need a trait to be able to equip Chainswords and Bolters respectively (in canon and preceding games, every Space Marine knows that). They also cannot use heavy weapons at all, even though all space marines start their service as heavy weapon specialists. It is even more bizarre for their captain, who can freely equip jump packs, but needs a trait for heavy weapons. Not only that, Cyrus is supposedly a master scout and infiltration specialist, but he starts at level 1 and has to be taught how to drop smoke bombs, use a shotgun, etc.
  • Halo Wars is full of this for just about every commander. From having to research calling down more than one shot from your orbital space gun (that can always fire 4 shots, but will only fire 1 until you research more) to researching an upgrade for your tanks that the commander (Forge) you're using invented to — best of all — having to research the ability for your repair units to repair things (as Forge, again).
    • Additionally, during Skirmish matches when playing as the Covenant, you have to teach Hunters and Jackals to equip the shield they're always shown wielding in any of the main series' campaign missions.
  • In Defense of the Ancients, upgrading a Hero's Ultimate Ability usually enables things like forcing debuffs not to count down while the enemy is near you, or making an ability global. Tiny's upgrade just means he picks up a tree to club people with.
  • League of Legends champions, despite being legendary heroes in their universe, need to research their basic attacks during the game. Ashe the Frost Archer starts out being unable to shoot frost arrows, mages start without spells, musician champion Sona cannot play any songs, Corki cannot launch the rockets on his plane, Orianna's ball doesn't do anything and Gangplank cannot shoot his pistol or eat oranges. Depending on your spell choices, these situations can last for a long time. This is handwaved as the League being a sanctioned and regulated competition used to solve political disputes, so senior summoners constantly tweak the amount of power Champions use with each skill and level to keep things fair.
  • Subverted with Outpost 2. The second mission in either faction you choose is to research basic sciences like biology, astronomy, etc. But the game started off with both sides having a pretty reasonable colony. The subversion comes in that you're not actually researching them, you're recovering the data from the storage drives that were yanked haphazardly from the servers because the colony needed to evacuate on a short notice.
  • In Rise of Legends, Vinci Musketeers need to research level 2 (Imperial Grenadiers) to Volley Fire, and level 3 (Imperial Fusiladiers) to use rifle stocks in melee. It also prohibits them from attacking at range.
  • Some scenarios in Rise of Nations may take place in the information age, yet have you re-research crop rotation, patriotism and religion.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire, your ships cannot phase jump between stars until you have researched how. Fridge Logic sets in when you realize that your faction must have jumped from another solar system to colonize your starting planet.
    • Especially when you consider that, for example, the TEC are a vast, multi-system trade alliance, which requires inter-system travel. Once again, Gameplay and Story Segregation.
  • The Zerg of StarCraft have to learn how to burrow. The only unit that doesn't have to learn it is the Lurker, probably because if they can't burrow, they can't attack; on the other hand, they are also the only unit that can burrow but takes a substantial amount of time to do so (there is some variation in the others, according to unit size, but nothing so marked).
    • Zerg Queens have an upgrade called "Gamete Meiosis" - if taken at face value, that means they have to research the ability to produce reproductive sex cells. note  Although, since the Zerg reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis (which one of their buildings does), this is actually quite the mutation.
    • Protoss High Templars in the first game have no weapon and start out with no psionic abilities, rendering them incapable of doing anything until their abilities are researched. The only thing these expensive units can do until you sink some minerals into training them is... sacrifice themselves to create an Archon that does have an attack. Keep in mind they are not trained on the field but gated in from their home planet like that.
    • A strange case happens with Swarm Hosts. In StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm's campaign, they need a special mutation to burrow whenever they attempt to root. Contrast it with literally every other grounded Zerg unit being able to burrow without requiring a specific mutation, and Swarm Hosts themselves being able to burrow without upgrades in multiplayer.
  • In StarCraft II, Raynor's Raiders, a 5-year old rebel group shown in the first game with full and competent arsenals of all Terran units, starts out able to build only marines and medics with no available upgrades. By the end of the game, you are able to build every unit from both the first and second games (minus Valkyries, but also several units that were scrapped for multiplayer) plus you have many upgrades that would be game breakers in multiplayer, all in an in-game timespan of a few weeks.
  • In the 20 Minutes into the Future strategy game War, Inc., you play the CEO of a multinational corporation expanding into professional military work. Despite the fact that your infantry come from cloning vats, you have to spend time and money researching vehicle designs other than a jeep and weapons other then the most basic of machine guns.
  • Warcraft 3
    • The night elves feature this with the entire faction researching night vision, for a group that is mostly active at night for biological reasons. Chimeras have to research using their other head to spit acid. Mountain Giants need research to make their skin, which is stone, resistant to normal attacks.
    • Trolls need to be taught how to regenerate, which is an innate ability to all members of their race (Years later it was explained that troll regeneration is tied to that individual troll's connection to a mystical loa that grants them their regenerative abilities. So researching regeneration apparently means instituting some kind of compulsory religious seminar). Orcish grunts and raiders need research to know how to pillage while Tauren need to learn how to smash the ground with their totems.
    • Footmen, who have a large shield from the beginning, need to be trained to put their shield in front of their face. Also, notably, the first weapon upgrade for the Footmen, who use iron swords from the beginning, is iron forged swords, as if until then they had been using bamboo weapons.
    • The apex upgrade for Druids of the Claw is learning how to roar as a bear. It's not that they have to research how to roar (they actually start with that as their first ability) — they need to learn how to do it while not in night elf form.
    • Apparently the Tauren Chieftains needs to master their ultimate skill in order to stomp on the ground. By far the most bizarre however, has to be the Blademaster. One of the Blademaster's basic abilities that he can learn from level 1 is a full-on magic spell called Mirror Image. His ultimate that he has to wait 6 levels for? Whirlwind, aka "Holding your sword out and spinning in a circle". Magic? Easy for any warrior. Twirling? Only the elitist of the elite can twirl.
    • A very late patch (as in, the last one before the Updated Re-release) sort-of fixed one problem- Tauren now automatically have Pulverize, the research instead improves the ability. But that same patch also shifted the Necromancer's spells so what was once their ultimate ability (Cripple, a debilitating single-target debuff) is now their first ability, and their iconic Raise Dead ability (which turns any corpse into a pair of skeletons) now needs one level of research.
  • None of the alien weapons in X-COM can be used before they are reverse-engineered by a team of scientists in your home base. The aliens are largely unintelligent, and most of the weapons look exactly like human guns. Even more absurdly, you also have to research the alien ammunition magazines separately from the weapons before you can use them.
    • Spiritual Successor UFO: After Blank provides two solid justifications: the aliens are far more alien (and intelligent), and when their weapons are researched, it's not just a matter of finding out how to use them, but also learning the basic principles that the weapons work on so that they can be reverse-engineered, and also so that they don't potentially explode in the face of your soldiers (like in, say, The Fifth Element with the little red button).
    • In Vladimir Vasilyev's novelization, alien weapons are biometrically-locked, meaning a soldier can pick up what looks like a gun but can't fire it. Scientists first have to figure out how to enter the soldier's DNA into the gun's database. Doesn't explain why different weapons would have different security measures.
    • In the 2012 reboot, not only are the alien guns biometrically locked, but they also explode if the alien carrying it dies, to avoid them being reverse-engineered. In order to steal alien guns, not only do you need to research them but also capture the aliens alive — but you can't put on new equipment in the field anyway. The technical readouts after doing such research also indicate that the humans aren't just using standard alien weapons; they have to be adjusted to fit human hands, and in some cases it takes a great deal of research to find ways to lighten the weapon enough for a human to even handle it.
      • The reboot requires research into alien Weapon Fragments before the engineers can build and distribute weapon scopes for their rifles. Admittedly, the S.C.O.P.E. is built from alien parts to create some sort of "advanced targeting system", so presumably it isn't just a standard telescopic sight.
      • The reboot also requires you to learn a specific skill in order for Heavies and Supports to lay down suppressive fire, something that real-world soldiers learn in basic training.
    • In The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Outsider weapons disintegrate along with alien bodies upon death. However, as soon as you manage to obtain an alien weapon that hasn't yet been activated, all the weapons of the same type carried by aliens suddenly stop disintegrating.
  • A common feature in Company of Heroes and its various expansions and sequels. Notably, the ability for American infantry to build sandbags must be unlocked by a specific commander (while their engineers otherwise are apparently always able to carry bags and shovels), while for certain units the ability to sprint requires veteran status.
  • If you play as the Empire in Total War: Warhammer, you will need to spend a skill point just to give your lords a horse to ride into battle with. This applies to all lords, including the faction leader. You would think horses would be standard issue for army field commanders, especially since they are in all the other Total War games.
  • The Road to 56 and Expanded Technology + Industry + Equipment mods for Hearts of Iron IVnote  require to manually research the first level of the Winter Clothing tech at the start date, despite said tech's flavour text describe it as simple wool clothes. Seems like, in the Thirties, nobody thought yet about outfitting with wool uniforms troops deployed in cold places. Even cold countries (Canada, USA, USSR, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Nepal...) must manually research this tech at the game's start. There's also a Desert & Jungle Clothing tech (cotton clothes for hot areas), which is somehow not available at start by countries living in those climates.
    • There are also nations which don't start off with Artillery, a type of weapon which has been in use since the 1400's, with breech loading rifled guns since the 1840s, finally to what was considered the first 'modern' artillery piece, the French 75 built in 1897.
  • In the Mental Omega mod for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Epsilon players can gain the ability to build Dybbuk-Seizers in the Aerodrome after infiltrating an opposing player's Epsilon Construction Yard and Pandora Hub. What is the Dybbuk-Seizer, you may ask? It's a Dybbuk plane (of which Epsilon has many buildable versions that don't require infiltration) with three Epsilon Adepts (which can be trained without infiltrating any building) on it. How they need infiltration to make this kind of combination is anyone's guess. This used to be lampshaded in the unit description in the mod's website, but it was modified for Patch 3.3.5, by stating that what really happened is that the original concept for a mind-controlling aircraft was actually going to involve using several complex Epsilon technologies, until someone realized that you can put three Adepts in a Dybbuk and achieve the same thing.
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction:
    • The Marines need to research the M41A Pulse Rifle, which, in the movie Aliens and all other Aliens-related games involving the USMC beforehand, was depicted as a standard-issue weapon (they start out with the M41 Pulse Rifle, which has a scope instead of a Grenade Launcher).
    • Predators have to upgrade to heat vision, which not only comes standard in their helmets in every other Predator work, but seems to be their biological mode of view (going by the POV shot in Predator when the yautja takes off his helmet)!
    • The xenomorphs require research to unlock aspects of their biology, such as the ability to have twins, spit acid, and have nematocystsnote  on their hands. Slightly less egregious than the other two, since a lot of these are never seen outside of this specific game (one egg = one facehugger = one chestburster everywhere else), but researching things they ought to be born with is the quintessence of this trope.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • As noted in this comic from VG Cats, in order to equip any given piece of equipment (often extremely similar ones), use abilities, or cast spells in Final Fantasy XII the character must first have the license for it. Made worse by the fact that the party, composed entirely of thieves, rebels, and sky pirates, isn't the law-abiding sort.
    Leo: We Dalmaskans are pretty stupid like that. Without the experience points it's a wonder we can wipe our own asses.
    Aeris: [with hat over face] Okay, I'm honestly ashamed of myself. Let's go kill cactuar until I learn how to stop being retarded.
    • Even more ridiculous with gambits: apparently, unless you find a card that tells character to, say, target an ally with a specific status ailment they are unable to figure out that it's possible to do so. Straining the limits of Acceptable Breaks from Reality is the least that can be said about this.
    • Not quite as bad but in the same neighborhood: in Final Fantasy Tactics, you have to learn how to use each item individually through the (Al)Chemist class.
    • And in Final Fantasy XIII, Sazh, Vanille, and Hope apparently forget how to do basic attacks after they become l'Cie, and of the three only Sazh gets the ability back automatically. Especially silly as they're all capable of using basic attacks before that point, and Vanille was already a l'Cie before then anyway.
  • One perk in Fallout is Empathy. It's just as impressive as it sounds in-game, color-coding dialogue options based on what reactions they'll give, something that can be easily be intuited naturally, as the dialogue choices are already rather straightforward.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, you need to spend feats in order to equip weapons and armor your class isn't proficient with. Not use, equip. That's right, unless you train for this specific purpose, a wizard (generally considered to be very smart people) lacks the understanding to hold a sword without immediately dropping it. (In the pen & paper game you only take penalties for non-proficiency.) This is a problem in one of the expansions, where the ui only lets you upgrade weapons you personally have equipped...and you're expected to provide gear for your companions.
  • Ditto Diablo, where everything including rings and necklaces have stat and level requirements to wear them. Also, your characters are apparently so paranoid about magical items that they refuse to wield anything until it's been identified. And while in Diablo, you could wear Unidentified items, but bear the risk of it being cursed, in the sequel you can not wear Unidentified items and there are no Cursed items.
    "Alas, poor adventurer - he accidentally put on the Necklace of Self-Decapitation."
    • Also in Diablo II, your druid may know how to summon a cluster of three tornadoes, but summoning one tornado is beyond his grasp until six levels later. This could be explained away as him not being capable of focusing/containing his power into one strong attack.
    • Your mage in Diablo starts out with a level two Firebolt and is incapable of casting Holy Bolt, which according to the lore was explicitly created to be easy to cast for anyone with no particular magical talent. It gets worse in the sequel, where the sorceress and necromancer start the game with zero magical or necromantic abilities whatsoever and rely on their staff or wand to cast anything at all.
  • The VG Cats parody of Pokémon used as the page image is not that far from the truth. Some Pokémon don't learn an attack move until double-digit levels (for the uninitiated, sample low-level attacks include "Tackle" and "Peck"), Poochyena's species' is "Bite" but it doesn't learn how to bite until level thirteen, and even more mind-boggling, Pidgey - a pigeon - never learns to Peck, and neither do several other evolutionary lines of bird Pokémon.
    • Drowzee, a Pokémon with a diet made up of dreams, can only learn Dream Eater by TM. And Gastly can't learn Poison Gas attack despite being poison gas that suffocates victims with its body.
    • Lickitung couldn't learn, you know, Lick until Gen II.
    • The overlap with Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training makes this even more awkward—a Mon can only remember 4 skills at a time, and often has only one opportunity to learn a particular skill. If your Lickitung has mastered licking, you may decide to permanently erase his ability to lick things so he can learn to stomp on things.
    • Even more offending is the HM moves. A Pokémon needs to be taught a special move, and a badge that somehow allows them to use it, to have a super powerful creature punch a rock.
      • Almost no Pokémon can learn Fly naturally, despite "Flying" being a very common element, and there are nine Pokemon that can't learn it even by HM note  even though their types include "Flying".
      • The same applies to Surf, especially when you actually catch some of them while they are swimming. And just to round out the HMs, Cut. In Gen I, you can start the game with a creature whose tail is literally on fire or one that's basically a living plant itself, but you're stymied by a single small tree. Even later when you have hundreds of vastly powerful creatures at your command, with attacks that can smash boulders, summon fiery tornadoes, and telekinetically lift and throw pokemon weighing metric tons, if none of them know Cut, you're going to be sitting there behind a small tree forever. A tree that, unlike a giant rock or a vast ocean, could easily be overcome with a sturdy pair of garden shears.
      • Fridge Brilliance in some instances in regards to HM usage outside of battle as some of these Pokémon are 1. too small to carry their Trainers and soar the skies or traverse bodies of water; and 2. for flying types, they are described in the Pokédex as simply gliding. But most of the time, it follows this trope. In some bizarre cases, however, even some Pokémon (such as Pidgey, a small Flying-type, and Doduo, a Flying-type without wings) who should be incapable of learning HM moves are able to learn and use them.
    • And in most games the player character is apparently incapable of running without special shoes. Maybe they are wearing sandals. Or are extremely Literal-Minded and assume that the existence of "running shoes" means that one is not allowed to run in any other kind of shoes.
    • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games have quite a few examples of this trope. Each character has certain IQ skills, which can be turned on and off in the menu screen and more can be gained by eating Gummies, and some only affect the partner Pokémon behaviors because they're what any human in their right mind would know what to do. While the game is at least smart enough to have some skills automatically available at the beginning (like not using a ranged attack if a wall is in the way), some IQ skills which seem essential for survival must be unlocked, like the ability to not use an attack which poisons when the foe is already poisoned, attacking the foe who is weak to your element first, and avoiding stepping on traps which are sitting out in the open. When later games got rid of IQ skills, they made the more common sense ones a part of the default AI.
    • Some Pokémon can learn the Bite and Crunch moves through breeding. In other words, some Pokémon have to inherit the ability to bite things with sharp teeth. And not a single 'mon in the Gible evolutionary line can learn Bite despite them all having mouths full of sharp teeth, not even Gabite (at least Garchomp gets Crunch).
    • Growlithe never learns the move Growl, even though, like the above case, it's in its name. But it does learn Roar. So, it can make a loud noise with its mouth, but not a quieter one.
    • Some fans give this whole concept the justification that the Pokémon are able to perform the actions behind the moves at all times, but aren't proficient in utilizing them for combat unless they learn the corresponding move (which merely represents this proficiency). This is supported by some of the moves' description giving them a specific flair, e.g. Growl is not just any growl, but specifically a growl that intimidates. So it's quite likely that Growlithe can produce a growl, it's just not all that impressive.
    • Pokémon GO has a number of purchaseable clothing items for your player character. One of these items is poses. You have to spend in-game currency to adjust your body to a different position.
  • Similar to the above, the Dark Souls games feature gestures you can make to communicate to fellow players (or just taunt your dead enemies for fun). You're limited to just a few at the start, and have to learn new ones from various characters.
  • In Tales of Legendia, you need to successfully make toast five times before learning to put jam and butter on it. Similarly, Raine Sage needs at least one star to learn that a sandwich consists of more than a slice of bread.
    • And in Tales of the Abyss, characters need to be at least level five and equip one passive skill for them to be able to run freely in battle; until then, you can only go back and forward.
    • In Talesof Arise, Certain functionalities like doing consecutive battles to get bonus multipliers, or the ability to equip 2 sets of Artes aren't accessible until it's brought up, leaving the game feeling clunky until you reach the midpoint.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, our two heroes can't walk backwards or sideways until they learn a technique from Merri. Then they can only do so if Luigi uses his Thunderhand to shock Mario. This overlaps with You Shouldn't Know This Already, because it is not enough to learn the Thunderhand: the heroes must meet Gigi and Merri before they can start walking backwards or sideways.
    • Notably, you CAN use the actions themselves before meeting Gigi and Merri, but it doesn't work; using the Thunderhand example before you properly learn to do it just results in Harmless Electrocution and a pissed-off Mario.
  • In Fable II, all your interpersonal interactions had to be learned by reading a book. This meant that it would take your character many in-game years before they learned how to do such things as fart, belch, or flip someone off due to not having found the correct book to teach you how. You also had to level up your gun skill several times before you could learn how to actually aim it.
  • Oliver in Ni no Kuni apparently went through his childhood without knowing how to jump, and is only able to master it in-game by spending one of his stamp-cards at Swift Solutions.
  • Punching things until you acquire a weapon is a standard Dink Smallwood move. In the mod Legend of the Duck Dink didn't know how to punch until he asked a wishing well for a weapon and was told "Use your fists, dummy!"
  • In the second Risen game, you need training and experience points just to learn how to kick people.
  • In Skyrim, you need a specific high-level perk in the Destruction tree in order for enemies to have a chance of panicking if you set them on fire. Otherwise they just stand there swinging their sword at you completely unfazed.
  • In Golden Sun, you begin with the ability to summon a giant hand to push things around. Later, you equip various items that let you: summon a giant hand to grab things from far away, summon a giant hand to dig up a handful of dirt, summon a giant hand to form into a fist and hammer things into the ground, summon a giant hand to form into a fist and hammer things from the side, and summon two giant hands to lift things up in the air. There's an entire school of giant-hand-based magic, and no explanation as to why one simple "Summon Giant Hand" spell couldn't cover all of these purposes.
  • In Attack the Light, some of the abilities you only unlock later on are ones that the show has established that they'd known for thousands of years. Sometimes it can be justified as representing Steven being able to convince them to do something they wouldn't normally do (like Fusion or retreating from battle) because Honor Before Reason.
  • Several characters in Girls' Frontline already have some variety of attachments on their weapons, like sights and suppressors, but unless they're used as part of the girl's skill, these attachments confer no benefits until you actually produce the equipment in question. This is particularly noticeable with exclusive gear, which tend to take the form of attachments that are unique to a gun, like the G36's carry handle with an integrated scope and red dot sight... but the girls in question also tend to already have those attachments on their guns in their artwork, yet still require you to extensively grind out night stages to acquire unique and exclusive pieces of gear that they already have. Exclusive equipment acquired by upgrading them to MOD 3 also fits to a lesser extent, since you do get the equipment just for that, but their art tends to depict them as always having it even though it's optional, like a longer barrel on SAA's revolver. Some crossover events do the same, such as the VA-11 HALL-A event, where the unique equipment options you can acquire for the girls include the armor Sei is already wearing and the various prostheses Dana, Alma and Stella are already using.
  • Book of Mario 64: When Mario rescues one of the Stellarvinden, he gains a rather useless ability.
    • Section 2: "The stone lets you sleep!"
    • Section 5: "Mario can now be used to measure things, like a star!"
    • Section 7: "Mario now has the stellar power to go away!"
  • Lampshaded in Deltarune. While a major part of the gameplay is the option to defeat enemies by ACTing instead of fighting, Kris is the only one who can act in the first chapter and for the start of the second. Then the party encounters a group of three minibosses who can only be defeated by using an ACT on all three at the same turnnote , which makes it seem like there's no way to actually win the battle... Until Susie questions why only Kris is allowed to ACT in the first place, at which point the rest of the party gains the ability to ACT independently.

    Sandbox Games 
  • The new assassination techniques in Assassin's Creed II. Even with his current experience, Ezio still has to train to successfully pull a guy off a ledge, or grab a guard and knife him when he walks past the hay bale you're hiding in?
    • And in Monterigioni, Mario teaches Ezio how to taunt guards. At least you can pull some of the basic moves off without needing an explicit tutorial, like pickpocketing, even though the game will still deign to inform you of it.
    • In the second game, during the execution of his parents in sequence 1 Ezio gets his sword knocked out of his hand by a brute. Only when Mario gives Ezio a sword during sequence 3 can he use swords again, completely unable to pick up others' swords before that point.
    • Brotherhood and Revelations did this much better: Ezio is already a skilled Assassin and a very quick learner, so instead of learning new techniques, he adapts his already-learned skills to new equipment he gets, like the poison dart (gun + poison blade), hookblade (hidden blade + hook), and crossbow (gun + arrow). He needs very little instruction, and soon begins teaching others in their use as the expert.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Unity, the player has to unlock a fairly high level skill before Arno can figure out how to stab enemies lying on the floor with his sword.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has skilled crimefighter Batman pick up a few new items and skills as the plot requires. Otherwise, he has to buy them with XP. From WayneTech. The company he owns.
  • Dead Island:
    • It's impossible to equip a wooden plank, oar or hammer or similar household items because of level requirements. Never mind the fact that absolutely identical weapons of a lower level can be used without any problem and that two identical pieces of two-by-four can do drastically different amounts of damage depending on the level.
    • This also makes leveling up mostly pointless, since it only makes the enemies harder and forces you to discard old weapons that suddenly become unable to kill anything.
    • The ability to simply stomp on zombies that are lying prone on the ground has to be learned, and cannot be learned until a fairly high level. Until then, if you want to kill prone zombies without degrading your weapons, you have to just kick them repeatedly, sometimes dozens of times.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], you can spend Evolution Points to buy the "Patsy" ability, which allows Alex to successfully accuse others of being him by pointing and saying "That's him!"
    • It also costs EP to learn how to do things like step on a guy's face in combat. Fortunately the sequel averts this and gives you your full compliment of unarmed moves at the beginning.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you can replenish your life bar by eating. However, you can't buy food until you've completed the "Ryder" mission. Fortunately, this is the second mission.
  • In Red Dead Redemption II, despite growing up in The Wild West on the fringes of civilization, protagonist Arthur Morgan is explicitly unable to recognize the tracks of such superabundant animals as deer and squirrels clearly printed in the snow, let alone find any other animals, until you follow the tracks at least once.
  • In the Saints Row series, the Player Character goes from being unable to dual-wield weapons at all in the first game, to being able to dual-wield pistols and SMGs right off the bat in the second just by finding a copy of the same one they already have, to the ability to dual-wield pistols and SMGs being two separate unlocks they have to buy in the third, and then losing all of the abilities they bought and having to buy them again in the fourth. Also, in the first and second games, they somehow learn the ability to run for longer and longer periods of time without getting tired (eventually being able to run infinitely) by painting over rival gang graffiti with Saints graffiti (in the third and fourth this is bought with money like every other ability).
  • The Simpsons Hit & Run: Homer's "Casual" outfit, which needs to be purchased to be unlocked, is him in his underwear. Unless Homer is spending the game Going Commando, this means that he has to spend money just to strip down to his briefs.

    Simulation Games 
  • One upgrade in AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity is a glove you can use to make obscene gestures or give a thumbs-up.
  • In Animal Crossing, you can unlock your character's emotions by making him/her listen to Dr. Shrunk's "jokes". In City Folk, the character can keep only up to four emotions at a time.
    • This is most glaring in New Horizons, where certain bits of baked-in dialogue have the player do reactions (its version of emotions) that they cannot do on their own without learning them from other villagers. On the plus side, at least you can keep all the reactions you learn, with up to eight kept on a ring similar to the tool ring, and all the others usable from the full list.
  • In Black & White, it takes a workshop, a large supply of lumber, and a dedicated professional to prepare the schematics for... a wheat field, which then needs to be constructed. You Have Engineered Farming! The sequel does away with this by letting you just designate any fertile area for planting.
  • In Factorio, the player is an Automation and Logistics Engineer on an alien planet trying to Launch a rocket into space. He or She must first research how to smelt steel.
  • In Game Dev Tycoon it takes eight and a half years of in-game time to pass before you can research sequels, despite the fact that after eight and a half years of making games most companies have several sequels out. This can lead to some silliness, as there's nothing stopping you from making games named something along the lines of "Kill Butt" and "Kill Butt 2", that are in the same genre and use the same theme, but are not considered sequels. Additionally, you have to research different settings for games that can often seem like this, such as researching how to create a game set in space or a fantasy world (an option that may not even be available for some time).
  • In Growing Up, you have to spend Knowledge Points in learning basic skills such as crawling, walking, and talking and master them by putting them in your schedule in the baby stage, which serves as the tutorial for the game.
  • Kerbal Space Program starts you out with manned rockets and simple other rocketry systems, but after that there's little rhyme or reason to the tech tree. Thermometers are pretty high up on the tree, while flat pieces of metal and octagonal scaffolding are apparently more advanced than nuclear rocket engines. You can unlock new technology by performing science experiences, such as by discovering that water is wet (though many player read a great deal of sarcasm in the low-return science replies).
  • Pocket Stables requires you to research horses to unlock, even if your rivals are already using said breed of horses.
  • Your RimWorld colony can start at one of two tech levels. If you choose the higher one, you start with a few techs pre-learned that are a few branches up the tech tree, naturally. However, more primitive techs are locked, and actually more difficult for you to "re-learn". So for example, you may know how to harness the powers of electricity, but you'll have to do some research if you want to brew beer. The justification is that these colonies are usually considered to be stranded survivors from some more advanced civilization where most people didn't need to know those sorts of things.
  • In the RollerCoaster Tycoon series, there are some attractions and rides in some scenarios that must be researched along the way (the speed at which they might be researched can be changed, depending on how much money you invest). The funny thing is that, while you may be able to build giant hanging roller coasters from the very start, you might be researching simple food stalls or gentle rides (such as spiral slides) along the way.
    • Even more ridiculous is that, in the third game, you can choose to have individual scenery items, as simple as a wooden fence, researched.
  • In Simcity 2013, you can build no buildings AT ALL until you have built some road. This makes sense on some maps, but not the ones which already have a road going through them.
  • The Sims:
    • The Cooking skill. The type of meals you can make goes up with your Cooking skill. That's the part that makes sense. The part that doesn't make sense is that your chance of starting a kitchen fire also decreases with your Cooking skill, and seems to have little relation to how simple your task actually is. So you need Cooking skill to avoid bungling things that real people with no cooking ability manage to do without starting fires, like toast a Pop-Tart. Then again, lack of a Common Sense skill is a series hallmark.
    • The very first console Sims game is probably the chief offender. There, almost every single aspect of mundane life — from hiring a maid to getting married to having sex, which, bizarrely, can only be done in a certain type of bed — requires some amount of legwork to unlock.
  • The Sims Medieval has an example with one of the Spy's abilities. A Spy has to be level 5 to steal money from the messenger post. However, they can send and receive secret messages in the box right away. If they can already open it, why do they need to wait 5 levels before they can actually take money out? Maybe it's in a hidden compartment.
  • In Starmancer, the title character's databanks have been damaged, so they need the help of colonists to restore abilities such as how to change the priority of jobs or how to build toilets.
  • Syndicate was set in the future, but you can't equip your agents with shotguns, Uzis or flamethrowers until you invent them.
    • In Syndicate Wars you have to invent many of the same weapons again, despite being the sequel and set even later.
  • In Tomodachi Life, the Miis that occupy your island can have five different Catch Phrases: Normal, Happy, Angry, Sad, and (Sexually) Worried. The Miis cannot be taught these initially unless (for normal catchphrases) they level up, or (for the emotional catchphrases) specifically ask you what they should say, which is determined by the Random Number God. If they already have an emotional catchphrase of one type and the RNG lands on it, they'll ask the player if they should keep the catch phrase, which is redundant as the player can edit a catchphrase at any time once they give one to a particular Mii (unless they're playing the Japan-only Tomodachi Collection, which only allows players to quick-edit the main catchphrase of a Mii), and thus giving the emotional catchphrase re-ask a purpose.
  • The story mode of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater: American Wasteland keeps you from doing more complicated tricks before you are trained by NPC characters. So you can grind around on rooftops and telephone wires all you want, but you can't do a manual.
  • Played for Laughs in Tropico 5. Technologies you'll have to research include Table Manners (which helps with diplomacy), The Wheel (during The Cold War), White Flag (which they apparently just steal from a French war museum), and Flexible Principles.

    Survival Horror 
  • The Evil Within has an upgrade system which speeds up reloading animations. In addition, our hero believes that being able to carry more items requires brain surgery, be they crossbow bolts, syringes, bullets, or matches.
    • In the sequel, inventory space upgrades are acquired by collecting ammo and item pouches instead of being goo upgrades. But then there's the Stealth Skills of Bottle Break and Ambush, and the Combat skill of Push Kick. Which grant you the ability to, respectively, hit someone in the face with a bottle when they try to grab you, deliver Stealth Kills from cover, and knock over a swaying enemy with a melee attack. None of which are exactly rocket science.
  • You can buy reload speed upgrades in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. For certain weapons (like the Red 9 or Bolt-Action Rifle in 4) this might make sense since these guns have somewhat complex reload mechanics but for others like your standard pistol or the Semi-Auto Rifle, all this amounts to is your character being able to slip a magazine into the gun a bit more hastily.
  • In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Harry can't use his cellphone, which serves as a HUD and options menu, until he's told to take it out and use it. It's Justified as he just survived a nasty car wreck and is so dazed he forgot he had the cellphone: it's not until it rings and Cybil asks if he's going to answer it that he even remembers he had it on him.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • The Civilization games require you to "research" various political and religious concepts, such as polytheism and monarchy. Civilization 5 (and 4, to a lesser extent) made a point of stripping most of these out and putting them under a different mechanic entirely, but even then, technology limits what civics/policies you can implement at any one time.
    • This phenomenon was probably at its worst in Civ 4, where even certain diplomatic options were locked behind specific technologies (and yet you can see the game map before you discover Map-making, you know what year it is before you research Calendar, and your per-turn income and expenses are quantified in gold pieces before you invent Currency).
    • Cities can be built right away but Agriculture must be researched, despite the fact that in the real world, agriculture is what led to the development of permanent settlements. In Civ V, every civilization starts with Agriculture already researched.
    • Other weirdness is being able to build units that can do the same thing, but require different techs. For example in Civ 5, you can build chariot archers without researching archery, and your cities attack enemies in the ancient era with arrows by default, but you can't build normal foot archers until you have archery.
      • As if that wasn't egregious enough, it is possible to invent gatling guns without researching gunpowder. The Brave New World expansion lets you invent the Internet without researching computers, or nine of the prerequisites leading up to it (going back to chemistry in the Renaissance era).
      • In a lesser example, you can also invent the Radio without half of the Renaissance techs and almost the entire Industrial Era. This becomes more extreme if you use it to get an ideology sooner than you should and use Democracy to get free Foreign Legion units... which have guns, despite not having researched Steel, Gunpowder, or Chemistry.
      • Civilization IV had multiple prerequisites for certain units: you wouldn't be able to build horse archers until you had discovered both horseback riding and archery. However, you could still build helicopter gunships without discovering gunpowder.
    • A popular mod for Civilization 4, Caveman 2 Cosmos, adds a primitive era. You have to research language, the ability to gather berries, and persistence hunting.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri suffers almost exactly the same problem as the example above. The explanation can be found in one of the game's fictional quotes:
    Col. Santiago: I have often been asked: if we have traveled between the stars, why can we not launch the simplest of orbital probes? These fools fail to understand the difficulty of finding the appropriate materials on this Planet, of developing adequate power supplies, and creating the infrastructure necessary to support such an effort. In short, we have struggled under the limitations of a colonial society on a virgin planet. Until now.
  • In most Fire Emblem games, any unit will attack twice if its attack speed exceeds the opponent's by four points. In Genealogy of the Holy War, only characters with the "Pursuit" skill or an item that grants it can do this, often making other units worthless. If the wrong character picks up that item, you have to sell it to the pawn shop at half-price and buy it back at full price, because units cannot transfer items.
  • Galactic Civilizations has an interesting variant in the form of the Thalans, who come from the far future. They brought back a few one-of-a-kind pieces of very nice advanced technology... but most of the engineering and production techniques they are used to depend on infrastructure that doesn't yet exist in this time, and would be impossible to build for millenia. So while they get a big head start on production at the beginning, they have to start at the very bottom of the tech tree to rediscover basic engineering principles, while other races often have a number of very early techs pre-researched.
  • In Midnight Suns, which has Relationship Values as an important mechanic, compliments are a finite resource that you must earn through various activities and give out carefully.
  • In Phantom Doctrine, your agent must be specially trained in a certain weapon before they can start using weapon mods like supressors or extended magazines.
  • In Sword of the Stars there are several techs that can be researched that open up new interface options and information screens. In several of these cases, the information is shown, but it is up to the player to organise and remember it.
    • You must also research the ability for your military forces to remember and report to you what technologies they have seen other races use in battle, and the ship types. However, as soon as you research the tech, it turns out to be already full of the stuff you've seen by that point, which means they have been recording the data but just didn't feel the need to let their commanding officer's know.
    • Probably the two most egregious examples are two techs in the command and control section of the tech tree. One just gives you the ability to look at sensor data and give orders at the same time. Its prerequisite is a tech that makes your ships send their sensor data to command vessels. Essentially, you have researched captains actually telling the ship in command what they see, and can now research the ability to multitask (or put buttons on the sensor display.)
  • Warhammer 40,000: Gladius
    • Your faction can't actually research anything outside of canon lore. It's more yelling at the Ministorum/Techmarines/Mekboyz/the Cryptek to let you use the good stuff. However, it's still expressed as expending a "science" resource.
    • More in line with the trope, on the tabletop, most soldiers can throw grenades already and vehicles always have at least one secondary weapon, but these are locked behind a paywall here.
    • It's at least justified with the tyranids, whose Hive Mind performs a running cost-vs-benefits analysis of the conflict and may or may not justify, for example, spawning the *good* fleshborers this time, or decide that poison glands are a waste of time when fighting necrons, and reinforced carapaces are a better investment.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown: Your supposedly elite soldiers need promotions just to acquire basic abilities that any real life soldier fresh out of basic training has, such as the ability to carry multiple grenades or use a first aid kit more than once in a mission. The use of suppressing fire to prevent an enemy from maneuvering or returning fire is one of the fundamentals of infantry tactics, but only your Support and Heavy soldiers are capable of doing this, and those classes must gain multiple promotions first.
    • In the Enemy Within expansion pack, one of the "superhuman" gene mods you can install into your soldiers is depth perception.
    • XCOM 2: You need to complete a lengthy research project if you want to make use of all those Gun Accessories you keep looting from dead enemies. While this may make some sense with ADVENT's literally alien magnetic and plasma weapons, your ballistic starting weapons sport several very obvious Picatinny-style hardpoints for Gun Accessories, something anyone who has ever handled a gun in their life should know how to utilize, but XCOM bootcamp training apparently doesn't include lessons in how to shove a bigger magazine into an assault rifle.
    • XCOM: Chimera Squad: Terminal and Patchwork both need to spend 3 days training to learn how to carry an extra utility item. Also, Torque's final tier ability is simply biting enemies with her fangs, and Axiom's is a simple smash attack.

    Miscellaneous & Other Games 
  • While you don't actually research anything, in Illbleed your characters need to buy deep breathing to calm them down.
  • Upgrade Complete is a flash game that asks you to buy the preloader before you can start. You also have to buy the main menu buttons if you want to actually play the game.
    • In the second game you need to buy the cursor before you can play. You need to buy the ending screen too. Also the graphics, music, logo...
  • A lack of this trope is the backstory for the game QWOP. You are QWOP, sole representative for your small fictional country in the Olympic games. Unfortunately, the training program was so underfunded, you don't even know how to work your legs properly.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and Halo 3, the Master Chief is incapable of sprinting, although he is already jogging at 18 km/h regardless. Then, in the prequel Halo: Reach, the player (another type of Spartan) gains sprinting as a pickup, next to the jetpack ability and active camo device. This is due to the armour not being synched sufficiently well with the wearer to run safely without breaking one's bones, which is fixed by the pick-up. From Halo 4 onward, the Chief can sprint whenever he wants, since Cortana "rewrote the [suit's] firmware".
    • The ability to dual-wield was introduced in Halo 2, and provided some balancing issues. It was explained, again, as updated software. It appeared in Halo 3, but was removed for Reach (a prequel), and quietly left out of the mainline games from Halo 4 onward.
  • Naegi in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc's original PSP release needed to spend time with resident Genki Girl Asahina before he could gain access to the run button. Since this mechanic slowed investigations to a crawl, it became a default ability in the Updated Re-release on the Vita.
  • The Doodle God games use Combinatorial Explosion as the core mechanic: you start out with the basic elements (earth, air, fire, water) and combine them to create things, then you combine those things to create other things, ad nauseum. The combination trees can lead to quite a bit of silliness, such as developing nuclear weapons before figuring out how to bake bread.
  • For whatever reason your character in Borderlands 3 cannot carry more than two weapons at the start of the game until they hit arbitrary moments when they realize they can hold another gun. There's not even a valid reason as to why, just suddenly you can do it as if they forgot how their holsters worked until that exact moment.
  • In Bloons Tower Defense, one of the Alchemist's upgrades is Acid Pool AKA throwing the acid flask on the ground. Making it egregious, it's one of the more expensive upgrades among tier 1 upgrades. Apparently it's easier for the Alchemist to learn how to make stronger acid than to just throw it on the floor.
  • In the Touhou Project side game Danmaku Amanojaku ~ Impossible Spell Card, the plot is Seija using various cheat items to dodge near impossible attacks from other Touhou characters. In the beginning she can only use one item per stage. It took her halfway through the game and Mamizou's advice for her to figure out that she can just use both of her hands to hold two items at once.
  • Recent editions of Madden NFL include Superstar abilities - special abilities reserved for the best players in the NFL. However, one group of those abilities is "Route Apprentice", which allows a receiver additional hot routes. The routes added are nothing special and any player can run them if the play is called in the huddle. Indeed, being able to understand hot route calls from a quarterback would be expected of any veteran player, not just the elite.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: Graceful Crane Stance gives you superhuman grace and balance, enabling you to automatically succeed on balance checks and dance around on a strand of human hair; however, if you don't want to fall out of the saddle, you'd better take Ride Charms.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition: Bear Lore.
    • Also in 4th edition, Rogues make a return to mastering very specialized weapon types instead of 3rd edition's "sneak attack with anything" paradigm. As a result, Rogues only start with proficiency in weapons they can sneak attack with, which doesn't include some of the simplest weapons in the game like a club or quarterstaff, which even the martially inept Squishy Wizard types get access to. Nor does the default rogue get the option to use a shortbow or do much at range in general, which had become a staple of the class in the previous edition. Later books contained options for the class that offered these styles of play, but only by giving up other class features in exchange.
    • The biggest cause of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards in D&D 3 is this trope applying to weapon feats, which essentially teach the warrior some new minor skill, while spellcasters keep receiving ever-growing reality-altering magical powers just for leveling up and use their feats to make those spells even better.
      • One of 3.5's most absurd feats was Research, which "expands the way you can use the Knowledge skills" to give you the ability to use a library. Note that most D&D 3.x characters are automatically literate.
    • While those who remember their ancient history will recall 2nd edition D&D where the separation of rules governing various class abilities lead to some significant logical flaws (not to mention the lack of flexibility and additional complexity). For example climbing was a thief skill. Therefore the implication was that the only way your character could have any chance at all of climbing anything harder than a ladder was to be a thief. Of course being a tabletop game your DM could work around that, but still. In 3rd edition they fixed this with the introduction of a universal skill system that all classes have access to...which unfortunately meant the thief (or rather rogue) no longer had his unique out of combat abilities to make up for his mediocre combat power.
    • Those first few editions also feature Weapon Proficiencies as slots which players spent to learn specific weapons. This meant a character could train and learn how to use weapons with mechanically identical functions, but because they have different names, the character can't (rules as written) use them correctly. For example, mace and club were different proficiencies. So were dagger, dirk, and knife. According to the Core Rules, you could be a fearsome master of the long sword and the two-handed sword, but none of that would translate to a faint clue about how the claymore or broad sword might be wielded.
      • A particularly silly example happened to any character who dual classed. The dual class character had to forgo everything they knew from their old class aside from their Hit Points until they exceeded their level in their original class with their level in the new class. Then everything came back at once. In theory, a character could become a legendary 18th level Paladin, dual class to cleric and then lose all their hard-won combat training, and have to fight as a first level cleric and use none of his Paladin powers. Once he becomes a 19th level cleric, he goes right back to having all his Paladin abilities again. He could then dual class again, this time to wizard, which would cost him all his warrior skills -and- all his cleric spells until he became a 20th level Wizard, at which point he could once again sling spells as a 19th level Cleric and fight as an 18th level Paladin. You could use your old abilities before surpassing your old level, but it cost you nearly all the XP of encounters.
      • Some editions take the stance that an adventuring class is an incredibly complex discipline and, in order to learn a different one, you have to set aside your previous training to adapt to a new paradigm. Using your old skills meant no XP simply because you basically failed at your new class, didn't learn anything, and fell back to your old way of thinking.
    • For many outsiders used to modern RPG video games, the fact that a powerful sorcerer able to cast a Polar Ray might not know the simple Ray of Frost that looks like a downgraded version of the same spell is absolutely baffling for the same reason to them as for many examples from he Civ series listed above. For players familiar with the spell system and how magic in general works in D20 RPGs, it all makes perfect sense.
  • F.A.T.A.L. has a Urination skill.
    • Worse, the game's creator has bragged that most player characters will be killed before they ever max out the urination stat. In the FATAL universe, you actually forget how to pee as you get older and have to relearn it, and most people never do.
    • It also has skills for Sitting, Spitting and Tasting.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: Because vampires are physically dead, their digestive systems don't work - they can't taste food and can't keep it down for more than a few seconds. It takes a two-point Merit, "Eat Food", for a vampire to be able to do this (and even then they have to vomit it back up at some point during the night). Vampire: The Requiem altered how vampire physiology works so that you don't need a special ability in order to pretend to eat (though you still have to empty your stomach at some point).

    Other Media 

Fan Fic

  • Lampshaded and mocked in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Ash's Charmeleon is in the middle of fighting a horde of Poison-types using an Ekans as a whip and when a Nidorino charges at him, he decides to "use Fling" with it. Snivy asks him if he can really use that move, to which Charmeleon just chuckles, since he doesn't need to research how to throw his enemies.


  • In ˝ Prince one of the earliest things that occurs is that the main character (a warrior with a sword) tries kicking and yelling at the mobs. Both turn out to be abilities that will level up with use. Later, a pet is hit with a stick and learns a pinball/chain lightning attack. The characters can also use any move at anytime and get some interesting effects.
  • In Caverns And Creatures, Cooper forgets how to read when he is transported into the titular tabletop game, all because he happened to have rolled a very low Intelligence score and chose to be a half-orc (which gives an additional -2 to his Intelligence score). Even after making it back to the real world, he's still a half-orc, so the game rules still apply. He can't even read the word "cat". The only exception is when he's reading character sheets, since those aren't really a part of the game world. At least, in the real world, signs for businesses and the like tend to have recognizable logos even without knowing how to read them. In the second book, he's trying to find a tavern that someone called "Horse Head". Naturally, he's looking for a drawing of a horse in lieu of being able to read the name. As it turns out, the name is actually "Whore's Head" (same pronunciation), and the drawing on the sign is that of a woman. Also, the way magic works in the game, any caster has to spend time each day re-learning his spells, all of which can be only used a limited number of times per day before he forgets them. The whole series is a jab at Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Spells, Swords, & Stealth: During Going Rogue Mitch's SS&S group of "murderhobos" uses poison, and poisoned rats, when going after wolves. They soon run out of rats, but there's a pack leader nearby. Glenn mentions that it would be useful if Terry could coat arrows in poison — turns out, not only do they have the wrong poison for this, poisoning ones own arrows is a higher level skill. They decide to take and poison a farmer's goats — as in take them by force — to deal with the pack leader.


  • The Trope Image both come from VG Cats. In one comic, Leo decides to forget how to breathe in order to learn "poop".
    Leo used "poop"! The attack was ineffective.
  • In Homestuck, we find out in Act 6 that the reason we always see the kids talking in instant-messenger chat windows, even when face to face, is that they can'tnote  actually talk directly to each othernote  until they unlock the "gift of gab" badge, earned by ascending to the second god tier. For reference, getting into the god tiers at all isn't a natural part of the game progression and are easily Permanently Missable.
    • We later learn what some later god tiers' badges do. Some of them are useful, but among the ones described, we have a badge that lets you carry items with your bare hands (as opposed to your overly complicated inventory system),note  and a badge which lets you have non-awkward personal relationships.
  • Deconstructed/parodied in this episode of Brawl in the Family, where Nidorina gives up "Bite" at a most inopportune time.