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So you have a setting with Magic and Powers, and most of the cast (including villains) have some form of ancient magical artifact or high tech gadget that grant them abilities beyond the norm. The cast probably even has some form of speciation, Weapon of Choice and even Personality Powers based on their chosen trinket.

Eventually though, someones is going to ask the question of "Why can't we just give all our artifacts to The Hero/Villain and let them plow through the opposition?" and the result is glorious.

Turns out that having one character wield all these weapons, or just a whole lot of the same one, gives an exponential rather than an additive bonus to their fighting prowess, much like a Super Effective Invoked magical Conservation of Ninjutsu. Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness aside, this means a single character with all the artifacts can do a whole lot more than a team sharing them. They may even outperform a team using all of these in unison with All Your Colors Combined! Of course, most of the time there's a prophecy that explicitly says combining them all will empower the character far beyond the scope of individual artifacts, as can be the case of the Dismantled MacGuffin.

However, the flip side to the above is sometimes the weapons/artifacts are explicitly not meant to be united, since doing so may upset the cosmic balance and/or lead to the wielder getting Drunk on the Dark Side and suffering a Superpower Meltdown. This is especially true when characters are already willing to kill in their quest to Catch Em All, and doubly so if all the artifacts were once a single ruinous weapon or Artifact of Doom.

See Plot Coupon for when the end result is a MacGuffin. See also All Your Powers Combined and "With Our Swords" Scene.

See also: Fallacy of Division (when it is assumed that the parts of a set are proportionately equal to the full set) and Fallacy of Composition, which subverts this trope.

Examples of Full Set Bonus include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the (Nameless) Pharaoh, aka Yami Yugi, cannot move on to the afterlife without all seven Millennium Items AND knowledge of his true name.
    • In the card game you can summon Exodia. He's five level 1 cards, two arms, two legs and a head, on their own they're weak as Hell. Together? Instant win.


Comic Books

  • In the Marvel Comics Crisis Crossover, Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos combines the Infinity Gems (each one a self-contained Class 4 on the Super Weight scale) to from the nigh-omnipotent Infinity Gauntlet, which boosts him instantly up to Class 5 status.
  • In Green Lantern this is the case when anyone wears more than one lantern ring, the wielder gets to essentially dual wield (or multi wield) guns. Combining different colored rings can be even more spectacular since they have interesting synergies. Hal Jordan has done this twice with Green and Yellow rings.


Literature

  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, simply wearing one of the two Silver Slippers (Ruby in the movie) is enough to give the wearer near complete invulnerability to magical attack and physical harm. Having both gives the wearer wish granting abilities close to a 3 or 4 on the Super Weight scale.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry built a magical model of Chicago that allows scrying, spying, and lots of other fancy tricks. It required collecting a chip of brick from EVERY building, a sliver of bark from EVERY tree, etc...
  • Similarly, in the Codex Alera, crafting a magical map composed of samples of the entire nation not only allowed monitoring of the land, it also spawned a conscious embodiment of the land.


Live Action TV

  • The "objects" in The Lost Room can be lethal on their own, but when one person has more than one they tend to become obscenely powerful. One particular combination of objects can potentially create a localized rip in space-time.


Tabletop RPG

  • Some artifacts in early editions of Dungeons and Dragons had this quality. For example, the Cup and Talisman of Al'Akbar had useful powers on their own, but when used together they could use a tremendous power. The same was true of the Crown, Orb and Scepter of Might, the Rod of Seven Parts and the Teeth of Dahlver Nar.
  • A few cards in Magic: The Gathering have this as an added bonus to playing an entire set. From summoning up legendary warriors to giving you loads of mana.


Video Games

  • Item (particularly, armor) sets in Diablo II give you set bonuses if you wear some or all of them at once.
  • Ditto armor sets from Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II. There were also some non-armor item sets, such as paired rings.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy has a lot of these. Many equipment items have a property that, if you have three (or, in some cases, four) items with the same property equipped, you get a bonus effect.
  • Runescape uses this a lot. There are certain sets of clothing that boost the amount of experience you gain in skills. Wearing the entire set will raise the boost above just the sum of its parts. Additionally, certain armour sets will grant boosts to your combat stats, or grant access to special attacks, but only if every piece is worn.
  • The Seven Chaos Emeralds in nearly all Sonic the Hedgehog media.
  • The Fused Shadows in Twilight Princess. Individually, each fragment holds a dark power that can warp the mind of whoever comes in contact with them. However, it is only when the three are combined that their true power can be called forth.
    • The Zelda series in general has the three parts of the Triforce. They are three magical artifacts which were created by the 3 Goddesses themselves. Each fragment supposedly contains the essence of the goddess that created it: Power, Wisdom and Courage. When all three parts are combined, it forms a completed Triforce which will grant the wish of the first person to touch it. However, if that person has an unequal balance of Power, Wisdom or Courage, they will only receive the essence they value most (Ganondorf treasured Power, so that's all he got). The other two parts will then seek out champions which most exemplify the other two traits (Zelda--Wisdom & Link--Courage) to defend itself. It's only when all of the champions have been defeated (or willingly surrender their Triforce piece) that the complete Triforce will reappear and the wish can finally be granted.
  • Some items in Team Fortress 2 come in sets that grant additional abilities (typically with some sort of downside, as with the equipment) if you have all of them equipped (typically 2-3 weapons, some also have cosmetic items).
  • In Vindictus, each armor suit has a couple of stats that increase incrementally as you put on more pieces, on top of the bonus the pieces themselves give you. This is why you will rarely see a Vindictus player wearing mix-and-match armor.
  • Used to be played straight with World of Warcraft's item sets which grant increasing bonuses the more items from a given set are equipped. Downplayed nowadays so that people would actually have a choice of equipment; a typical set has 5 parts with bonuses awarded for 2 and 4 matching items, while before the Burning Crusade expansion sets had 8 parts and all were required to get the best bonus.
  • In The World Ends With You, many "Gatito" brand pins only function in battle if the player can collect all the pins in a set. The "Darklit Planets" set (comprising six pins) is an exception as each can be used individually, but they power up significantly if the player has all six. Which is no easy task, and involves beating the Bonus Boss on the highest difficulty.
  • zOMG: ring sets.
  • Played With in Monster Hunter: crafting full armor sets themed off specific monsters gets you a bonus, but some bonuses are completed when specific armor pieces from different sets are mixed together.
  • From the Heroes of Might and Magic III expansion Shadow of Death onwards, there are sets like these.
  • Kingdoms Of Camelot on Facebook has a full set bonus now that the last of the four Guardians has been released. Only one Guardian can be active at a time, but unlocking all four gives the player a bonus, likely either resources or items for use in-game.
  • This is the idea of set bonuses for the Invention Origin Enhancements in City of Heroes. A character can only have one of each part of the set in a single power and with each piece added another stat bonus is unlocked. These bonuses are special in that they affect all powers on that character and each bonus can be stacked up to five times as it is possible to use most sets in multiple powers. It is also possible to use more two or three partial sets in the same power in order to create all sorts of set bonus mixes (though usually the best bonuses require having most or all pieces of one set.)
  • A minor example, but in the second Neverwinter Nights Expansion, Hordes of the Underdark, if you can find and equip all of Lord Nasher's lost equipment, they each become far more powerful.

Web Comics

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


Western Animation

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