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Playing With / Useless Useful Spell

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Basic Trope: A spell or power appears useful at first glance but isn't worth using and/or doesn't work when it's needed anyway.

  • Straight:
  • Exaggerated: There is only one enemy in the whole game who isn't immune to Instant Death, and there's easier ways to deal with it anyway.
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  • Downplayed: Instant Death only works and is cost-effective in some situations, but they come up often enough that it's worth getting/keeping in mind/your spellbook/whatever.
  • Justified: The Instant Death channels the power of the Big Bad, so the bosses, who are his lieutenants, are immune to it.
  • Inverted:
    • The Magic Missile spell seems useless at first glance but turns out to be a staple of the gameplay.
    • The normally Useless Useful Spell is the ONLY way to defeat a specific boss.
    • Instant Death is a Disc-One Nuke capable of obliterating 90% of the game's enemies with great ease.
    • The spell is seemingly way too specific to ever be useful... Except you just so happen to be in the one situation where being able to use the spell is commonplace.
  • Subverted: The Instant Death spell almost never hits... but there's a spell that guarantees the next spell to hit...
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  • Double Subverted: The Big Bad is immune to that one too.
  • Parodied: The character uses the spell against a known invulnerable enemy, for the fifth time.
  • Zig Zagged: The Instant Death spell has a 50% chance of doing nothing, a 10% chance of healing the enemy, a 10% chance of killing a member of your team, a 10% chance of conjuring a cloud of fluffy kittens, and a 20% chance of actually working. And that's just against normal enemies.
  • Averted:
    • The Instant Death spell has a flat chance to work on anything, making it a Game-Breaker.
    • There's no Instant Death spell, but lesser status effects work regularly on the majority of enemies and are actually useful.
  • Enforced: "We can't have the player one-shotting the Big Bad with Instant Death!"
  • Lampshaded: "Wouldn't it be nice if we'd meet something that Instant Death would be good against?"
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  • Invoked: The Big Bad invented that spell to exterminate non-casters, and made sure it could be blocked by the slightest magical protection.
  • Exploited: After many fights where reflecting enemy spells was the best way to defeat them the Big Bad specifically uses only spells he is immune to.
  • Defied:
  • Discussed: Someone suggests just using the Instant Death spell on the Big Bad, but another party member points out that it will never work.
  • Conversed: Two Gamers on a Couch are playing EverTropes. The guy playing the fighter makes fun of the guy playing the wizard because Instant Death doesn't work on any of the enemies. Wizard reminds his friend that it works on him.
  • Deconstructed: Protection against the Instant Death spell becomes so commonplace that the spell itself is forgotten, and in time, so are the countermeasures.
  • Reconstructed: The final boss is ancient enough to remember using it too.
  • Played For Laughs: These spells are the wizards' equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme, and have all the attached qualities... including spectacular failure.
  • Played For Drama: Instant Death almost never works, and so a character doesn't bother defending against it, then dies when it finally does work.
  • Plot Foundation: Instant Death working for the villains (but hardly ever for the heroes) is meant to help subtly underscore the Evil Is Easy theme in the game's story.

Back to Useless Useful Spell, except it doesn't work when you want it to.

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