strangest/coolest rpg mechanics

this is a thread for everything from neat exploits like Fortify Intelligence in Morrowind to the semi-deliberately designed weirdness in games like final fantasy 2 or, uh, pretty much the whole SaGa series i guess.

inspired by reading this today:

(this is even neater since that boss just cutscene-kills your party when it hits zero health anyway, so it’s not even out of place)


The condiments system of Earthbound comes to mind, although I never found it useful or intuitive. For reference, eating food with condiments in the inventory could improve their healing ability two-fold…if the flavor was good.

Baten Kaitos had cards that would change in “real time,” i.e. the time you had played the game minus time spent in menus. For instance, Bananas could be used repeatedly in battle but would expire fairly quickly, becoming less and less useful until they were actively harmful rotten food. Flaming swords would extinguish eventually, becoming normal swords. The longest item to change is the Shampoo, which takes 2 weeks to turn into “Splendid Hair.” This makes the world record for the Baten Kaitos 100% speedrun about 342 hours.

Dragon Quest Monsters had a system where, if you ran from battle a lot, your monsters would become afraid and weaker, and would also disobey you (iirc)

There are more but I’m having trouble thinking of any!


In the game Dragon Warrior, the initial stats, and stats gained with subsequent level gains, are all predetermined by the name you enter at the start of the game. Unfair as it is, this means that some names are destined to be stronger than others.

i always thought this was a really cool never-explained mechanic and it would also be interesting to see a game do something similar but integrate it into ~*~lore~*~ (e.g. some mythic “names have power” type stuff)

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Of course, there’s the Brave Blade/Chicken Knife from Final Fantasy V.

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Yeah, the infinite vastness of the 'net has made indie games small enough again that you can run mystery-through-obscurity loops again. Well, unless you get popular.

i still want to see the true ending to Ziggurat (the one that supposedly plays if you survive for eight hours straight) but i guess it’s a lot more compelling that probably no one will ever see it

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Okay, so the project then becomes seeding the 'net with these playground rumors. Tim’s a one-man BS parade and fully capable, but getting a distributed rumor campaign going, especially with the fake-news-topic du jour…

it’s cool conceptually but infuriating in practice


Star Ocean 2 is the best game about this for the sheer quantity of weird obscure mechanics linked to item creation

Breath of Fire 5 has the D-counter. Walk around and it goes up a little. Use an overpowered transformation in battle and it goes up a lot. It cannot go down ever. If you let it reach 100% you die and have to restart the whole game.

In Fallout you can pickpocket NPCs, and, instead of taking their item, discreetly plant explosives in their inventory. They explode after a short while.

Persona 1 has a very well-hidden event that triggers a different game that is about as long as the regular main game.


that describes my life pretty much, so i’m fine with that

select button
it’s cool conceptually but infuriating in practice


pokemon virus

bunch of weird shit in ffvi endgame

homesick? for sale sign? atm deposits? pizza delivery? almost every mechanic in earthbound is strange or cool

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The condiments generally matched the food. ex. if you eat a burger w/ a packet of ketchup, it will taste pretty good. If you eat it w/ a packet sugar, not so good.
The real cool thing about condiments is that if you arranged them so that they were last in your inventory and then used the item in battle, it was bugged to use up the condiment and not the item. ppl like to use this to jack up their stats w/ rock candy even though Earthbound is piss-easy

other cool EB mechanics:
-you had to order pizza exclusively by phone (?!) but it would then show up 3 minutes later in real time. despite the pizza chain being called Mach Pizza, this is much slower than the item storage chain, Escargo Express (which uses the same time-based mechanic)
-you can also acquire an item called the “For Sale sign” which uses the same timing mechanic. If you use it almost anywhere in the world, a random NPC will come running from out of nowhere and buy a single item from you
-there is a tiny chance a character will survive an otherwise fatal hit, based on their GUTS stat (which also affects their SMAAAASH %)
-Ness can randomly get homesick after battle. you probably knew this but DID YOU KNOW that it’s based on what level he’s at?? Before level 15 he has 0% chance. Between level 16 and level 30 he has the highest chance of getting homesick. Between 31 and 75 it is slightly lower, and after 75 it is 0 again. Consider how this roughly corresponds w/ what points in the story you’d be at (assuming you don’t grind), and reflect on how much Earthbound is the best fucking game ever

-the Pokerus from Pokemon is an extraordinarily rare (more rare than a shiny!) status condition that doubles the EVs of a Pokemon for a limited time, and can be spread to other Pokemon. This can last up to 4 real-world days.

-SO MANY cool fusion mechanics in SMT3: Nocturne. First of all, there are “elemental” fusions where combining two demons of the same race creates an elemental, and combining an elemental w/ a demon bumps you up or down one “level” (demons are basically arranged in tiers within each race). If you enter a Cathedral of Shadows/Jakyou Manor in SMT3: Nocturne while suffering from a “curse,” the music is different (and really fuckin cool) and it will reverse the result of these fusions. Also, all normal fusion demons will only result in “dark” demons like Tyrants and Yama.
-there are fusion accidents which can randomly occur when performing any fusion, though the chance increases if you are doing a “sacrifice” fusion (where you fuse 2 demons and kill a third to give the resulting fusion bonus stat points). This results in a totally random demon with totally random moves, which may be either way weaker or way stronger than the one you were expecting.
-“Fiend” type demons can only be fused if you have a Deathstone and fuse for a specific species of demon at certain phases of Kagutsuchi (the giant shining moon-god floating over the inside of the egg-world Tokyo (Nocturne is also the best fucking game ever)).
-My absolute favorite are “mythology” fusions, which are specific fusion/sacrifice combos of demons related to eachother in their particular mythos, which result in a unique demon you cannot otherwise find. (Ex.: Fusing Take-Mikazuchi w/ Yatagarasu and sacrificing Ame-no-Uzume results in Amaterasu)
-Finally, and unrelated to fusions: if you speak to demons during the “full Kagutsuchi/moon”, they will act like they’re drunk and have unique dialogue. This is the only way to get certain demons to talk to you (and subsequently join your crew)!!



Yes yes yes i was just coming back to post about VAGRANTS!! ive only ever seen one :o
Dark/Demon’s Souls are rife w/ these kinds of cool mechanics

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also fuck why haven’t i played any of the SMT games yet

Because despite being very very cool, they’re also terribly long, exhausting, difficult, and demand extreme amounts of patience for hardcore dungeon crawling


oh, right

in final fantasy tactics your character’s stats are partially determined by what classes they leveled up as. some classes gain stats very slowly, some relatively quickly. the best way to get True Ultimate Power is to only level up as certain jobs with good stat growth, then to switch to a job with poor stats and delevel yourself with one of a couple very obscure methods. doing this you keep most of your high stats, and you can relevel again as another class with high growth in a stat you missed. there is no reason to do any of this unless you are crazy.