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A common situation in video game RPGs; there's a single inventory, but the inventory is shared by multiple characters. This greatly simplifies the work required to manage items (both for the player and the programmer), as there is no need to keep track of who picked up what, distributing items among the characters and so on. This makes the trope an Acceptable Break From Reality, because having to repeatedly pause to micromanage the inventory would likely be extremely annoying to the player.
Most of the time, this is easy to overlook. Since you don't know who is carrying that Mega Healing Potion, you may simply assume whoever ends up using it had it all along. On the other hand, some items may be used multiple times, by different characters who obviously had no opportunity to pass it over, especially if you're allowed to change the characters' equipment mid-battle.
It becomes silly when the party splits up and the inventory remains shared, allowing characters to use items that someone else picked up on the other end of the dungeon. In some extreme situations, the characters can be on different continents, believed dead, not even have met each other yet etc., but you can still use equipment from the single inventory on any of them, or even transfer equipped items between characters via the inventory or even directly. Apparently, the inventory is a series of tubes!
- The adventure game Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle has the characters in three separate time zones, but they can share items by putting them into the time-travelling port-a-johns that are central to the plot. One of the first puzzles for the girl trapped in the future is how to GET to the port-a-john.
- However, you can't pass every item (sometimes requiring a different method of getting them through time), and some of them change when you do this.
- You can't pass living things (requiring you to freeze them). For two other items, you actually need them to change, requiring the Slow Path (the sweater needs to be washed a hundred thousand times in order to fit a hamster and wine needs to spoil and turn into vinegar).
- In Secret of Evermore, the boy and his dog share an inventory no matter how far they are separated. This is most noticeable at the start of the second world when the boy and the dog are separated. The boy can buy a new collar for the dog, and when the game switches to the dog's location all the way across a vast desert, the dog can equip the collar.
- Not sure if it counts as an adventure game, it's more of a platformer but Banjo-Tooie has Banjo and Kazooie with access to the same items when separated... even though Banjo can't use them, he can still collect them for Kazooie.
- All characters sharing an account in La Tale can access the same banked items and items stored in the Astro Store.
- Guild Wars has the Xunlai Storage chests in every city, town, and mission outpost, that is accessable to any character on your account willing to pay the Xunlai Agent a one time 50gp fee (plus 50gp more if they want access to the crafting materials storage pane).
- In its 1st expansion, World of Warcraft added the Guild Bank, which anyone in your guild (with the proper permissions from the guild leader) has access to. It allows a common pool of resources, but can only be accessed when your character is at one of the few Guild Vault locations in the game (all of which are inside major cities, well secluded from the adventuring areas).
- They later added a spell which gives you access to the bank for a few minutes, no matter where you are.
- Mail sent to you can be pulled out of any mailbox in the game, regardless of what zone, continent, or planet you're on.
- Final Fantasy VI allowed characters to access the communal inventory before they'd joined (or even knew who the rest of the characters were, as with Cyan) and when the party has separated into groups. In fact, because one section of the game takes you through three parallel plot strands, it was possible for items collected at the end of Character A's adventure to travel back in time, much less across a continent, into Character B's start-of-adventure inventory.
- Final Fantasy VII allows the player to switch around materia regardless of whether the characters are together or not. One particularly interesting instance occurs early in the game: Cloud is about to fight a boss on top of a building, so the rest of the team goes down the building, fighting another boss on the way. After the battle, the game flashes back to show what Cloud was doing during that time. Of course, right before Cloud's battle begins, the game allows you to equip him with any materia. Including those that the rest of the team are currently using to fight another boss.
- Final Fantasy VIII allowed characters to switch Junctions when some of them were believed dead. Or when half the team is in space. Items are also shared from the present to seventeen years ago, and vice versa, as are GFs and stocks of magic?which doesn't go unnoticed by the seventeen-years-ago party, confirming that entire characters (or at least their consciousnesses) are being sent back in time here. The only thing that doesn't ship is money.
- In Skies of Arcadia, the party becomes separated at one point. The main character Vyse is carrying all the money and items (including massive ship parts -- don't ask), but the other characters can still use the Moon Stones to change the color of their weapons. In addition, one party can find Discoveries, and the other party can report them, even though neither knows where the other is.
- Knights of the Old Republic II does the same thing Final Fantasy VI does. At one point, three party members are dispatched on a mission, while the player and two other party members are dispatched on another mission. After completing the first mission, the player takes on the role of the second team, which has access to items collected by the first group, even though not only are the two teams on different planets, but the events are happening simultaneously from a chronological standpoint, allowing Team 2 to use items Team 1 hasn't even collected yet.
- Handwaved in Atelier Iris 2 The Azoth of Destiny; Felt and Viese spend the majority of the game isolated from each other in different worlds which have been sealed apart, but can still share all items and alchemy ingredients thanks to the very useful Share Rings that they equip just before being parted from each other. They're even able to communicate by sending letters to one another this way. Sealed away indeed.
- Stonekeep lampshades this by giving the protagonist a magical scroll that can shrink items into a picture on said scroll. Therefore you can pick up every single rock, bone and other pointless object in the game. You can pick up a huge stone blocking your path and later use it to press a floortile.
- Even though Mario and Luigi get separated a lot in the Mario and Luigi games, they still share an inventory, regardless of whether they separate to solve a puzzle or if they separate because they were dropped down separate shafts into completely divided sections of a cave.
- Most clearly seen in Partners in Time where Stuffwell, the inventory, always jumps out of Mario's pocket but the babies can still use him even clear across the level.
- Especially ridiculous in Wild Arms 3 - the four player characters can share items and money between each other in the prologue, up to fourteen days before they meet one another for the first time. Now think about this: The player can play the four prologues out of chronological order and it still works. Also appears in Wild Arms and Wild Arms 2, though not on such a ridiculous scale.
- When the party splits up in Tales of Symphonia, both groups can still access the same inventory even if they're on opposite ends of the dungeon.
- Special mention goes to Eternal Sonata where the characters already share inventory before they've even met for the first time. Obviously they never comment on how weird it is that money and items spontaneously appear and disappear in their bags.
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon gives you one treasure bag, which up to 4 pokemon can all take items from, even if they're on the other side of the floor.
- Justified in Pokémon, where the items are all owned by the player character, who gives them to the party as needed.
- In Anachronox, at one point Democratus, a planet that was shrunk to join your adventure party, suddenly becomes full size. Boots, El Pu?and whichever other party member you had with you are scattered across the planet's surface. You then follow Boots as he does the first half of his mission, then El Pu?then whoever else you brought, before returning to Boots and being rescued. Yet you all have access to the inventory, and can even use stuff that the previous person picked up in their scene.
- An extreme example in SaGa Frontier 2. The story is told as one giant split party section as you play as either Gustave or the Knights family and Gustave only teams up the the Knights once. This does not stop them from sharing items for no reason. The NPC that retrieves equipped items from other party members lampshades this: "don't ask me how I do it." The most Egregious case is when an old advisor has a flashback to his young adventuring days, before the start of the game and can still equip anything. To top it all off, once someone from either party has mastered a technique, everyone in both stories know it. People you have never met can show you how to perform ultimate killing moves.
- Final Fantasy XIII has it so you can use any item you've acquired, no matter how long ago it was the characters split up. There are exceptions, however: any equipped item is effectively locked (so a good piece of advice is to unequip accessories at the end of chapters), some key items are 'with' certain characters (Snow keeps Serah's Tear, Lightning/Hope keep the survival knife, Eidolon crystals stay with (and can only be used by) the summoner), and you can't manage the stat/ability growth of characters not with you (but they still earn CP, so grinding for CP is still a good idea). Also, TP are shared between all characters, so if you burn all your TP at the end of a chapter, you'll have no TP at the start of the next. Note that all this becomes a non-issue towards the end of chapter 9 (of 13), when you finally get all six characters together (that point is also when you can choose your own party makeup).
- Present to a point in Dragon Age. You can swap armor and equipment in and out on anyone who is currently with you. You can access everyone's gear in camp, but on your actual adventure, you can only see the gear of the people with you. This can get awkward, as it's possible to give a gift to someone mid-battle, have a nice little chat about it, and then get right back to murdering everything that's still moving.
- Dubloon. When you take control of Riley, he retains all the stuff Russel and Anne acquired. The game handwaves this with Anne "sending all the stuff to him", apparently in some sort of Hyperspace Invisible Bag.
- In Alter AILA Genesis you actually spend some time playing as characters who are working for the lead villain. But apparently being your mortal enemies doesn't stop them from sharing their items with you.
- Mass Effect 1 had this in spades, as you were not only carrying around a large number of guns with no visible carrying device, but also upgrades to those guns and various suits of armor as well that all of your party could take from as needed. Mass Effect 2 streamlined this, as now there is no armor, just attachments that Shepard (and Shepard alone) can put on his armor to give it various bonuses. Everyone else retains the outfit they wear on the ship except for helmets or breathing devices in areas lacking oxygen. Guns are also kept in the Normandy's armory and can be switched out either between missions or before you go out on them, during the prep phase.
- Forevers End has a lot of this. Your original party gets split over several continents, and Lee doesn't meet the rest of them at all in the first chapter, yet they can all use the same inventory. Heck: Alexander's quest takes place centuries before, and accessed through Epoch's dream sequence but that doesn't stop them using up your Extracts.
- Diablo III uses mechanics similar to Guild Wars' Xunlai Chests: anything one of your characters puts in a chest can be retrieved by your other characters.
- Super Mario RPG works like this, though the party doesn't split up much. Late in the game there is a boss battle in which a party member is swept away to fight separately, and has first pick of the bag before the other members get to use items.
- Sacred 2: Fallen Angel has special chests allowing player to exchange items between various characters.
- Non-RPG, non-character example: in Anno 1701 anything that has been stored in warehouse/market can be used by the whole empire, even if you got that resource from different island, when you have no boat...
First Person Shooter
- Firefight mode in Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach has lives (remaining respawns) as this. In Halo Reach, when playing Versus Firefight, there are settings that let the humans add more to the pool by killing the player-controlled Elites.
- Boxes of weapons in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 share between themselves and your own hands - pick up a weapon from a dead enemy for even half a second and there's immediately a copy of it in every box you come across.
Third Person Shooter
- Martian Gothic has item storage as quite LITERALLY a series of tubes.
- Non-RPG example: the Worms from Worms have a shared arsenal, allowing (for example) a Worm to use a weapon picked up by a team member on the other side of the battlefield.
- Later versions tended to feature optional modes where each worm would have its own inventory. In one instance, there was an option for a specialist mode where each worm could only use specific types of weapons.
- Suikoden V also has an interesting example... in the final dungeon, you temporarily split up into 3 groups, and yet continue to share the same inventory -- which comes in handy for putting together the pieces of the ultimate armor, which each group finds bits of...
- This trope was averted in the first game. Each character had an inventory space and could only use items from their own inventory. Armor takes up slots of this space so a character wearing full armor could not hold as many items as one without. When characters are separated from you, you can no longer access their inventories. In the second game, each character has a three slot inventory for items such as medicine or antidotes and separate slots for armor. Then there's a larger shared inventory but items from this could not be used in battle.
- Actually, Suikoden in general never employed the Bag of Sharing trick. The Suikoden V specific example, along with Suikoden IV are mere exceptions (that prove the rule).
- The SNES strategy RPG Ogre Battle has only one inventory across an entire army. The N64 sequel averts this by having each squad carry its own inventory.
- Final Fantasy Tactics has a variant: Your inventory is shared across your entire party, but only the characters who have learned the requisite abilities to use the items can do so.
Aversions and Subversions:
In many cases, even if normal items are not shared across inventories, money is. Justified in a modern or futuristic setting with credit cards, but strange in a medieval setting when gold is shared.
- In Wizard101, each character has their own backpack storage, but characters can put items in their houses' bank, where characters on the same account can access them from their own houses' banks. Presumably magic is involved.
- Mabinogi's use of this trope is complicated. Each player has their own personal inventory, as well as a bank inventory (banks are available in every city, village, and camp). Players with paid subscriptions can share bank inventories between all the characters on their accounts; while players with free accounts cannot. However, pets have individual inventories and are available to all characters on the account; so can be used to share items between all characters on the account, even for free accounts. Currency is shared between all characters on an account via the bank system, regardless of account type. This is further complicated by certain items; some of which cannot be shared through pets, but can be shared via the bank for those with paid subscriptions, and some of which cannot be shared at all.
- Vindictus averts this trope. Each character has an individual inventory; and there is no bank system. The only way to transfer items between characters, regardless of whether they are on the same or different player accounts, is via a fee-based postal system.
- World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, and many others have it straight when it comes to the Guild bank, but they played with it when it comes to your own characters. Each characters you have has their own personal bank account that are not shared with each other. You can send items to your other characters using the mail system with a small fee. Soulbound items may not be sent, but heirloom items may only be sent to your other characters, not to other players. In later patch in World of Warcraft, items sent to your other characters arrive instantly without delay. Player characters of different factions however, may not trade items directly as you cannot buy the items put in auction by your other player characters.
- Averted in the Exile/Avernum series. Every character has their own inventory, and trading items between characters in battle costs action points. And if a character is required to act alone without the rest of the party, that isn't even an option.
- Final Fantasy IX partially averts it. You can't equip or dequip items from characters not in the group, but any items in the inventory can still be accessed by any characters, even those on different continents.
- ...even if the new party in focus is dealing with events chronologically before the last party.
- ...to the point where it'll switch focus from your main party deep in a dungeon, to Dagger, who is co-incidentally right next to an item shop.
- This also includes Mognet letters. Moogle X gives you (say, Zidane) a letter for Moogle Y, the game switches attention to another character in another place (and perhaps even an earlier time, see above), you (Dagger) deliver the letter to Moogle Y who is standing right next to where you start this part of the game.
- Final Fantasy I had individual inventories, each character had 4 weapons and 4 pieces of armor and they could not be shared or swapped during battle. The party could all access the same potions, because they're easy to pass around.
- Final Fantasy the 4 Heroes of Light averts this partially, each character has their own inventory, and they can only trade items when they are together and out of battle. However, all the characters are still able to access the same stored items, money, and gems even if they aren't travelling together.
- Aversion: Lunar: The Silver Star and its sequel Lunar 2 Eternal Blue, as well as their remakes, have personal inventories as well as a group inventory; only the personal inventories can be used in battle.
- The Dragon Quest games are the same way.
- Sort of. Later installments have a universal, bottomless 'bag' for storage, shared between all characters (in addition to what they have on-hand in their limited personal inventory); retrieving an item from the bag takes a character's full turn in combat, so it's not that weird to think that they pass it around.
- In addition, the main character is always in the party in every Dragon Quest game, meaning that it's feasible and likely he just hangs on to the bag the whole game. No splitting up to worry about. The one exception (Dragon Quest IV) has all the characters with their own unique inventory bags, that then get combined when they join the main character later (which allows you to do nigh-Game Breaker things like buy a whole bunch of very expensive items just before the end of a chapter that can then be sold by the hero for truly ridiculous amounts of cash).
- The Dragon Quest games are the same way.
- Grandia averts this; every character has their own (limited-space) inventory. When the party splits up, the items carried by the others are not accessible. On the other hand, the "stash" seems to be some sort of pocket dimension that any character can access at specific locations.
- Grandia II, however, uses it straight.
- Aversion: In Dungeon Siege, each character not only has their own inventory, but to pass items between characters, the one doing the passing actually has to run over to the other.
- The Wizardry series is an example of Western RPGs using individual and limited inventories as early as 1981.
- Averted in Golden Sun: Each character has their own separate inventory, and they can only use items that they're carrying themselves.
- Almost averted in Neverwinter Nights 2. Each character has a separate inventory, but items can be freely and instantly moved mid-battle between characters at the opposite ends of the battlefield, even if one of them is dead... sorry, unconscious.
- Baldur's Gate averts this completely. The characters have separate inventories and while they can exchange items at will, it only works if they aren't too far apart.
- Gold is shared between characters though, if picked up from ground. Gold aquired through pick-pocketing appears only in the thief's inventory until manually added to the shared gold pool (by clicking on the gold in the inventory).
- Cheating in Baldur's Gate II will give you a literal Bag of Sharing. The Bag of Holding is supposed to be unique, but if you cheat and give yourself more than one, you will find that they all share the same inventory.
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II, semi-averts this; oddly, gold is shared but not items.
- The original Dark Alliance does indeed fully avert the trope: gold and items are not shared at all. Which created some problems when you needed to share gold (it was possible, but complicated).
- Averted in Earthbound, where each character has his own inventory of up to 14 items (and not 14* 99). When a party member is "unconscious", the text of the actions is also changed to reflect that the character can't access his inventory by himself.
- Mother 3, the sequel, also does this.
- Saga Frontier avoids this partially, each character has is own inventory, only the character wearing the backpack item can use the full inventory in battles.
- Betrayal at Krondor averts it with separate inventories, to the point where you spend most of the time on the inventory screen shuffling items between characters because one of them has a few free spaces and the others don't. You also have different party members for different chapters, so it's real easy to suddenly lose a dozen items because you left them on the guy you don't control any more.
- Eye of the Beholder has separate inventories, but avoids the above problem since a character who is dead still moves along with the party and is somehow able to carry stuff; and any character leaving will drop everything he's holding on the ground, in case you needed it.
- Completely averted in the PS 1 RPG Shadow Madness; When the characters are forced to split up at certain points in the story, the game makes the player divide the inventory AND money up between the groups.
- Averted in the Fallout games. Each party member has his own inventory, though the player character can use his own supply of healing items on them at any time and he is the only one to interact with shopkeepers.
- Averted, also, in the Might and Magic games. Each character has his or her own inventory, which has grid squares. Though shields are proportional to potions in the way that a large shield covers 4 by 4 and a potion bottle two by one, it's nonetheless a little less nonsensical.
- Averted in the Kingdom Hearts series, since Sora is ever-present, so he's the default item-carrier. Also, there are limited slots available for items during battle, with each character having their own "on-hand" inventory.
- Averted in Shadow Hearts 2. When playing as Anastasia, you have your own separate inventory and equipment, and can't access any of the normal cast's items (with the exception of still being able to see the Inventory option, which lets you view items but not use them).
- Averted in Live a Live. Each character has their own inventory in each chapter. In the final chapter, when all characters join together, you get to keep the equipped items for each character when you meet them and all items gained stay with the leader.
- Averted in Persona 3 where your party members all had an inventory of items that you couldn't see. One thing they never seemed to have however was revival beads, but revival beads don't work on your character anyway. For a very good reason.
- Persona 4 has a interesting example: if the AI is controlling your party members, they'll use their own inventory items (i.e. they won't deplete your resources), but if you're controlling them, they'll use your items. The AI is severely biased against using items, but it does happen on occasion.
- Persona 3 Portable, the PSP remake, adopted P4's approach by allowing you to control the other party members and making them use your inventory when so controlled.
- Sonic Chronicles subverts this - all of the characters can access the same inventory, even if they're on different sides of the map, but you can't take/give equipment from/to a character that isn't in the player's current party.
- Averted in Breath of Fire IV. Any items Fou-lu gets will not be available to Ryu's party.
- Averted in MARDEK. Each character has their own inventory. Weapons, armors, and accessories aren't stackable but everything else is.
- Averted in Skies of Arcadia. Vyse, the party leader, carries all the items and money. However, when he gets split up from Aika and Fina after evacuating from the Little Jack in lifeboats, Aika and Fina end up in a large city with no money, while Vyse finds himself on a deserted island where money does him no good.
Third Person Shooter
- Averted in Resident Evil 0, where the two characters have separate inventories and trading items between the two was a large part of the game.
- Played straight and subverted in Resident Evil: Outbreak. Though each player had their own inventory, if a player died any player could loot their corpse as long as they were standing in the same room. Even if that "room" happens to be a dock and the corpse is inside a zombie shark downriver.
- Also played straight in all the 'main' Resident Evil games before Resident Evil 4 - by the Magic Boxes that appeared in save rooms. Everything placed in any Magic Box was accessible from any other Magic Box in the game, even if it's the first time you've opened a particular box. (Admittedly, a post-game-clear option in the Game Cube remake of the first Resident Evil had each box only carry it's own contents - like normal boxes, in other words.) The peak of the Magic Box ridiculousness came in Resident Evil: Code Veronica right after Clare's game stops and Chris's begins. Chris can access anything Claire had in her Magic Boxes despite the fact that the two of them are on different continents.
Turn Based Strategy
- Averted in Fire Emblem: Every character has an individual inventory (in the GBA games, of only five items!). There is a supply caravan, but how, or if it can be accessed in a battle differs depending on which game in the series you're playing.
- And if you don't have it yet, you might be forced to toss away items to make room for new ones.
- One of the older games (Gaiden) and the most recent (Radiant Dawn) had separate parties with separate inventories (until they united). In Gaiden, however, holding Start and Select when beginning a new game would enable easy mode, which allowed free sharing of items between the two parties on opposite ends of the continent, allowing for Level Grinding with the Angel Ring in both parties.
- However, Radiant Dawn plays this straight when the parties team up, as they proceed to split again right afterwards and anything in the inventory is shared among the 3 parties, even though they're all far away of each other.
- Even worse, Fire Emblem 4 gave each character an individual bag of money with very limited options for transferring cash between characters. Also, items had to be transferred via a pawn shop with the customary markup. Combine with Breakable Weapons (including staves) requiring regular repairs and this game has some serious logistics issues for characters who can't use the Arena well.
- In Shining Force, each character can only hold four items.
Wide Open Sandbox
- In Animal Crossing, each player has his or her own storage... but said storage can be accessed from any storage-type item in your house, regardless of where it is, and it always goes to the same storage space. In City Folk, this gets even more absurd, as the Gyroid Lloid in the Auction House can also access the same storage space, even though you're miles and miles away from your house.
- This was originally averted in the first game in the series, in which each storage item held three other items and all the storages were separate.