Amplifier Artifact

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What's crystalline, covered in ancient glowing runes, looks great when set in a necklace or staff, worthless to a Muggle?

Give up? It's this trope!

The Amplifier Artifact is one of the more useful, practical and powerful accouterments in Fantasy and Speculative Fiction. It doesn't grant new super powers like a Ring of Power, Super Serum, or other form of Applied Phlebotinum, what it does is give the owner or wearer (this distinction is not a light one) a small or titanic boost to whatever powers they already possess, at times even activating latent ones.

Likely candidates for Amplifier Artifact are ancient swords, pendants, jewels, sets of armor, staves, petrified body parts and rings among others. It's not unheard of for disembodied organs and appendages to become Amplifier Artifacts if part of the owner's power is sealed inside it. You can also expect these to be weak spots in One Winged Angels and thus exceedingly evil Artifacts of Doom. It doesn't help that for some reason prophecies love to wax apocalyptic about how once Dark Lord Zerogeddon gets The Eye of Sorrow, his full powers will be restored and he will be unstoppable. Not entirely unrelated is the tendency of heroes to eschew these, somehow equating ancient relics of forgotten power with Hard Work Hardly Works. Still, a respectable amount of heroes will rely on the Sword of Plot Advancement to complete their quest. Regardless of being a hero or villain, you can count on them losing the artifact when it comes time for the final showdown.

Compare Upgrade Artifact for weak characters becoming stronger through an item. Also see Super Empowering for people who have this effect. See Magic Feather for when someone thinks an object has this effect, but it doesn't. That can go the other way as well, though- sometimes characters will find they can use their powers without the artifact that supposedly grants them, eschew it as a Magic Feather, and then realize that they can do even better with their new-found self confidence AND the artifact.

A Sub-Trope of Magic Enhancement.

Not to be confused with "artifacts" (distortions) introduced by an audio amplifier, one of which led directly to metal.

Examples of Amplifier Artifact include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The "Shikon no Tama" or "Jewel of Four Souls" in Inuyasha is a jewel that increases a demon's strength.
    • It can also be used by evil humans, although the stronger you are naturally the more useful it is to you. Trying to use it for good deeds, whether you are human or yokai, inevitably turns out badly.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima's Library Island arc has the Baka Rangers searching for a magic book that supposedly makes the holder smarter, all for the purpose of passing their finals.
    • One of the effects of the Pactios is the partner getting a magical power boost.
    • There's also Negi's collection of magical artifacts like his fathers staff or Eva's ring.
    • Ako's artifact (an enormous syringe with a very large and sharp needle) can significantly boost all of her target's physical and magical abilities.
  • Subverted in Pokémon the First Movie. Giovanni offers Mewtwo some Powered Armour that would "focus" his psychic powers. What it actually does is suppress them as they are too powerful for Giovanni to handle.
  • The first story arc in Slayers revolves around Lina accidentally getting a hold of the Philosopher's Stone, which she describes as "a super magic amplifier." Naturally, the resident Big Bad needs it to complete his scheme.
    • The four talismans she bought from Xellos. The results of her amplified Dragon Slaves are rather impressive. In the novels, the "Demon Bloods" use the power of Ruby Eye and the Dark Lords of three other universes—one per gem. They allowed the previous owner (even though he was another container for a piece of Ruby Eye) to cast spells that normally require more power than any human mage can provide.
    • The Sword of Light is used to amplify and focus a spell. As is, it dices lesser monsters and weaker true Mazoku effortlessly, but more powerful Mazoku can just grab the glow and hurl the wielder like a toy. The same foe, but the sword absorbed Dragon Slave? Single Clean Cut, and no smoking crater. Kills anything up to Dark Lords and works even with the spells Man Was Not Meant to Know. In novels, it's also known as Gorunnova, and it's one of the five weapons of Dark Star, no less. As the source of Black Magic, the Dark Lord has no such problems, but Gaav mocked Lina claiming that mere human like her is harmless, only her sister could power up Gorunnova enough to hurt him.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, urban legend held that the State Alchemists' pocket watches, engraved with the Fuhrer's Seal, enhanced the power of the bearer's alchemy. They don't actually do anything, though—they're just watches.
  • The Relics, super-high energy crystals from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. The one implanted in Vivio in particular was mentioned in Japanese DVD inserts to not only boost her magic on its own, but to also allow her to connect to the Saint's Cradle and fuel herself with nigh-infinite power. And yes, as ViVid revealed, her Adult Form is inherent to her and not something given to her by the Relic.
    • Don't forget the Unison Devices: cute little foot-high flying Artificial Human girls who can synchronize with magic-users to boost their powers and add elemental effects. So far, we've only seen two, Reinforce Zwei and Agito.
  • It turns out that one of the reasons Brew was wanted so badly by both sides in Soul Eater was its ability to amplify soul wavelengths. Mosquito is not impressed when it turns out the real artifact was in the back pocket of Death the Kid.
  • The "Meteor Shard", a MacGuffin recovered from Hell's Gate that changes hands a few times in Darker than Black. Towards the end of the first series, Amber breaks it in pieces among her followers and uses the bulk of it to power the network of Dolls that guide Hei through the Gate, but later she spontaneously pulls the complete Shard out of her pocket due to the strange properties of the Gate. Then, Hei uses it to enhance his's power to Reality Warper levels, enabling him to alter matter on a quantum level. In backstory one such thing was used to make a good chunk of South America completely inaccessible.
  • In Pokémon Special, Yellow is a human example, as when she gets angry, her team of usually wimpy Pokemon has their levels jump up to the mid-80s in response.
  • Witch Hunter Robin's fragment of wisdom has this effect unintentionally, and tends to give the bearer Power Incontinence with it.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Averted in Marvel Comic's Doctor Strange, with the cloak of levitation. He is perfectly capable of flying without it, but wearing it allows him to free up his concentration for more powerful magic.
  • In BPRD, Liz uses an ancient Hyperborean thing that kinda looks like a light bulb with a spiky thing on top to amplify her pyrokinesis to the point where she can singlehandedly incinerate the mountain-sized Katha-Hem.
  • Although it's technological rather than magical, Cerebro fits this role in the X-Men. It boosts the range and, sometimes, the power level of Professor Xavier's telepathic abilities.
  • Wonder Woman has been shown from time to time using the Gauntlets of Atlas which multiply the wearer's strength and stamina tenfold. Given that Wonder Woman has Superman-class strength to begin with, she's devastating when she wears them. These were eventually passed on. She also used to have Sandals of Hermes that amplified her speed and gave her flight but her powers have been upgraded to include greater speed and flight.
  • Thor has the Belt of Strength, which doubles his strength and endurance, and Mjolnir, which focuses Thor's innate Elemental Powers.
    • The Belt is straight from the source material. If need be, Thor could increase the boosting effect by tightening the belt.
  • Its been shown multiple times in Green Lantern that wearing multiple rings can multiply the effective power of the wearer (as Hal Jordan did during Emerald Twilight.) The Alpha Lanterns use this to police the other lanterns by wearing two rings and internalizing their power batteries.
    • Blue Lanterns have a symbiotic relationship with Green Lanterns. The willpower of the Greens is necessary to allow Blue Lanterns to do more than just fly and project personal force fields but a Blue Lantern can also charge a Green Lantern's Ring to 200 percent capacity.

Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • In With Strings Attached, the Vasyn turns out to be capable of vastly amplifying spells cast through it.
    • So does Paul, for that matter.
  • Turns out the Moon Dial in Futari wa Pretty Cure Blue Moon does more than just erase people from existence and reset time. Kainatrol, after erasing Eiender, commandeers it late in the story and undergoes a huge usefulness boost. The only thing it won't work on is somebody with one of its pieces, though its effectiveness in general is in question considering the existence of echoes.
  • In I Am What I Am, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic by M. McGregor, the weapons that Xander and Cordelia craft for Giles and Jenny provide enhancement to their magical abilities.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The One Ring in The Lord of the Rings was said to act like this: it granted its wearer power based on the wearer's stature. The more powerful you were, the more powerful the Ring would make you. It was originally created by Sauron as a means to make his already formidable Mind Control powers strong enough to take over the other Rings of Power (and through them, their wearers). That it also served as a Soul Jar for Sauron was a nice little side-effect.
  • Several in the Star Trek Novel Verse. In Star Trek: The Lost Era there are the masks upon which Oralian recitation masks are based. The mask in Well of Souls is the best example. Useless to those who are not psi-sensitive, it enhances and focuses the talents of empaths and latent telepaths. It is designed to allow members of its planet's ruling family to enhance their psi talents to the degree that their mind can serve as a vessel for the spirit lifeform Uramtali. Without the mask, these talents would no longer be adequate, as the ruler's genes were diluted by centuries of inbreeding. In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Relaunch, there's the pagh'varam (Bajoran for "soul key") which also serves to boost latent telepathy. It's actually a fragment of a Bajoran Orb of the Prophets.
  • The Kaiburr Crystal in the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Splinter of the Minds Eye can greatly increase the Force ability of any Force user who touches it.
    • And, ironically enough, it only worked so long as the crystal remained near the temple of its origin.
  • The Wheel of Time: angreal and sa'angreal, magical Lost Technology that boosts the amount of power a channeler can draw upon. They usually have buffers to prevent the user from going too far, but not always. The latter are just a stronger variety of the former. The strongest are a male-female pair whose combined capacity could crack open the planet; when they finally get put into use, every channeler on the planet can sense it.
  • Aside from its other powers as a soul-eating, universe-annihilating supersword, Stormbringer boosted Elric's magical and physical strength, compensating for the Albino Emperor's own fragile health.
  • In World of Ptavvs by Larry Niven, Kzanol the Slaver attempts to retrieve his amplifier helmet, which will increase his natural ability to control the minds of a relatively few slaves to the point where he will be able to mentally control the entire solar system.
  • The Lens of Arisia, from E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series, fits this trope. Kim Kinnison has vast psychic powers on his own after being converted into a Second-Stage lensman, but his Lens gives him vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big psychic powers.
  • In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover stories, matrix crystals could greatly increase psionic abilities.
  • All wands (most notably the Elder Wand) in Harry Potter amplify the strength of a wizard.
  • Any jewel in the Inheritance Cycle can be turned into such an artifact. Just load them up with energy, and you can draw on that energy later to boost your power.
  • Jon-Tom's dual-necked, guitar-like duar in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series is sometimes this, sometimes not. In the first few novels, it's implied that duars are fairly common instruments in the series' Alternate Universe setting (in the first book, Jon-Tom picks his up from a sack of musical instruments dropped by by a fleeing merchant, and his companions act as if it's a common item), and it merely functions as a focal point for his latent magical powers. In later novels, however, it's indicated that the magic comes from the duar itself, which has been retconned into a rare and valuable item, and Jon-Tom's facility with it is more practice than anything else.
    • On the other hand, there are quite a few inconsistencies between the first books and the later ones, including a number of increasingly obvious and basic errors such as the names (and number) of Mudge & Weegee's kids changing from one book to the next, so it may just be that Foster didn't remember (or keep very good notes on) what he'd written in the previous volumes.
    • Alternately, considering some of the world-shaking effects Jon-Tom achieves with his duar in the first few books, it's conceivable that the instrument became magically-empowered as a result of these events. At least one of his feats, the summoning of M'nemaxa, can be performed only once in a wizard's lifetime, which would explain why he can't just repeat the process to enchant another duar.
  • The Young Wizards series has the Book of Night With Moon, a supernatural book which describes the entirety of existence. Rather than increasing the strength of the spells a wizard casts, it makes it so that even the most complex and difficult of spells are easy to cast. However, some spells did receive a power boost just from being cast near the book, such as the time shift spell working better than expected.
  • In the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, duralumin works like this for an Allomancer's powers.
    • Later books in the series introduce nicrosil, which can be used amplify another Allomancer's powers in the same way as duralumin is used for one's own.
  • This is what the shadowlight does in Duty Calls. Exposure to it awakens latent psyker abilities, but without proper containment it warps you to death.
  • The children's novel, The Hedge Wizard, was about a young boy who set out to become a wizard. He turns out to have no real talent for magic, but is revealed to function as one of these, greatly amplifying the magical power of any other wizard(s) he is in contact with or any spell he joins in casting (spells he tries to cast on his own are usually either weak or backfire-prone)

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Various versions of the Power Rangers Battlelizers.
    • On top of that are the Sentai SWAT Mode, the Megatector, Super Geki Claw, Lights of Orion, and the InrouMaru most recently.
  • Kamen Rider has had some fun with this recently. I'll list it below.
  • Paul Bearer's urn seemed to be this for The Undertaker.
  • Warehouse13 is full of these. Examples include Benjamin Franklin's ring (amplifies the human body's bioelectricity to turn a hand into a flashlight; also works to turn a laser cutter into a lightsaber) and lightning rod (amplifies the energy level of any attached device), a James Braid's chair (amplifies the innermost desires of anyone who sits on it), Spine of the Saracen (amplifies speed, strength, durability, and angel, also grants the ability to deliver lethal electric shocks), Alessandro Volta's lab coat (amplifies "biomagnetic attraction").

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • To avoid a list of 20 billion entries, let's just say: nearly all of them, and move on. Since any item that grants a bonus to anything (well, anything that's beneficial anyway) qualifies as one.
    • This is in fact one of the peculiarities of Tabletop RPGs, deriving especially from Dungeons & Dragons. In the fantasy fiction the original RPGs were based on, amplifier artifacts are the exception, not the rule, with most magical items and artifacts granting new abilities rather than enhancing existing ones, but in these games by far the most common magic item ability is "pluses". While useful for game balance, it's directly responsible for the style of gameplay that amounts to constantly questing for more items to give you better pluses, and many people feel it makes magic items rather bland. Video games inherited this style of magic items directly from Tabletop RPGs.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Wayne in Lost Planet had a attachment for his device to help him unleash the full potential of the mechs in the game. For no reason other than the plot he didn't put it on when he first received it and didn't use it until the final boss. Lucky too as it wiped his memory.
  • The Ray Sphere from In Famous, the device that started it all kills everyone in a six-block radius to accelerate the development of the user's powers.
  • Clive Barker's Undying features disposable items known as Amplifiers, which can be used to take one of your magic spells up one level. There's also the Gel'Ziabar Stone, which boosts all your spells one level if you use it in concert (though you effectively have no gun if you choose to do this).
  • The Yatgy Stone in Nocturne is an artifact that massively increases a vampire's power, while rendering him immune to normal vampiric weaknesses. The heroes set off on a mission to reclaim it from a vampire lord who's recently stolen it. They succeed, only to lose the stone to its original vampiric owner, who (unlike the vampire who took it from him) thankfully doesn't have any apocalyptic plans for it.
  • In The World Ends With You Kitanji gives his Reapers O Pins, which are supposed to make them stronger This is a subversion. All it does it let them be mind controlled.
  • Arguably, the entire world in Brutal Legend. As a roadie, Eddie was already an excellent guitar player, but in the age of metal his guitar playing can shock people and summon a giant flaming zeppelin, among other things. He also shows his proficiency with an ax, a result of his being half-demon.
  • In Gotcha Force, once G Red recovers his missing code that the Death Force stole from him, he goes from being the Jack of All Stats Took a Level in Badass being one step below Game Breaker.
  • Several held items in the Pokémon series, most notably the Light Ball, designed to give Pikachu a massive boost in Special Attack.
  • From System Shock 2 we have various implants that increase various stats and skills. The PSI-Amplifier from the same game is technically this.
  • According to the backstory, the Psi Emitters in StarCraft amplify the "signature" of a telepath, allowing them to be heard over huge distances, at least by the Zerg. Also, Protoss Khaydarin crystals amplify the user's psionic abilities in various ways, such as the Zealots' bracers, which allow them to form Psi Blades.
  • Chaos Emeralds in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. It's been commented by the writers of SEGA that they don't simply grant new powers, but amplify what one already had, as well as modify a few powers occasionally.
    • The Chaos Emeralds had the Amplifier Artifact treatment pulled on themselves by the master Emerald to form the Super Emeralds.
    • The series is almost built around them when you throw in almost every other collectible item. The World Rings, Sacred Swords, Sol Emeralds, etc, etc...
  • The Evokers from Persona 3 only work if someone has the "potential" to summon a Persona to begin with, even if that potential is artificially induced. The Evoker just makes things much easier.
  • Several throughout the Mortal Kombat franchise, most notably the Dragon Medallion and suit of ancestral armor the younger Sub-Zero picks up in Deadly Alliance and Deception.
  • Dragon Fable: You have multiple Elemental Orbs, Weapons of Doom, the Dragon Amulet, etc.
  • In Dominions, many magical artifacts are of this nature, doing such things as assisting casting or lessening magic resistance.
  • Seems to have been averted in the case of the above quote, for in Wand Of Gamelon, King Harkinian is captured in spite of his possession of the Triforce, as a result of being betrayed by the same person he set out to save from Ganon.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The Blinker Stones from Gunnerkrigg Court can amplify and focus their users' Psychic Powers. And some particularly talented psychics can learn to replicate these effects without the stones.
    • Fairies as magical creatures approve using a blinker as an instant campfire, but consider the use for mere look around out-of-body to be for mentally weak.
  • The Power Booster Rod of the Walkyverse is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. (Okay, no, it's not- it contains a preset amount of energy that can be tapped and used by its wielder. But the amount that can be tapped at one time is proportional to the starting power level of the wielder, so a super-powered character can cause more havoc than a normal one.) [1]
  • The aptly-named amplifier in Juathuur, and Soveshei's serum.
  • This is the effect that being Touched by Vorlons by the Sovereign of Sorrow in Captain SNES gives. A given's sprite's abilities will be greatly enhanced, at the cost of soul-crushing sorrow
  • The Magitek Implants in Elf Blood generally do not add new abilities to their host, but rather improve upon their existing natural talents. Examples include a Sympathetic Magic booster to improve the effects of spells, and enhanced strength.
  • Eerie Cuties had an artifact that stimulates succubus powers. Three guesses at how that looks?

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, the swords Dawn and Dusk have magical powers which are fully unleashed only when they are used by their chosen wielders.
  • The cybaspheres from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes both give the heroes new powers, as well as amplifying their old ones.
  • The self-ware black scythe from Trinton Chronicles can act as this to some people.
  • The SCP Foundation-914 acts this way on its "Fine" and "Very Fine" settings. Just pray that it doesn't manage to overshoot...
    • SCP-248 are stickers from a corporation that produces SCPs. These stickers have "110%" printed on them, and attaching them to anything will boost performance to, you guessed it, a 110% percent.
  • The Questport Chronicles has Gaudior's Horn, which powers spells up so much that a powerful sorcerer uses it to destroy Questport.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe verse, the seven Atlantean moonstones amplifies telepathic abilities, strengthening even the weakest of psychics to the point of being able to mind rape anyone on the planet. However, the user becomes more and more paranoid and detached from humanity the longer he uses the stone.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Arch Magus in Gargoyles uses three magic items to accomplish both amplify his powers and gain new ones. The Phoenix Gate to teleport and time travel, the Grimorum to give him many more spells, and the Eye of Odin to boost his natural magic power and let him handle the first two without having a Superpower Meltdown. Guess which one was the key to defeating him?
  • An episode of the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon had an Amplifier Artifact location, The Dragon's Graveyard, where the heroes' weapons were forged. When they were used there, they had greater effect, allowing the heroes to overpower the Big Bad they were normally forced to run from.
  • Transformers Cybertron: "Cyber Key Power!" A Transformers in this can gain temporary power boosts, in various forms, by using his or her Cyber Key. Additional or bolstered weapons, turbothrusters, and the like. However, their fuel consumption is typically increased. An interesting form of this trope. Cyber Keys should not be confused with their bigger MacGuffin - Applied Phlebotinum hybrid cousins, the Cyber Planet Keys. (Sadly the toymakers at Hasbro made this very mistake. Were they even allowed anywhere NEAR the episodes?)
    • Minicons did this as well, which was why they were so sought after. Most unlocked new abilities or weapons in robot mode, but in vehicle mode they were often said to increase speed as a bonus.
    • Powermasters did this in G1... except in most Japanese continuities, where the large robot body was non-sentient and controlled entirely by the Powermaster partner.
  • Starmetal in Conan the Adventurer amplifies magic-users power.
  • The Eliacube in Wakfu, a piece of Precursor tech which exponentially increases the power of magical abilities at the cost of Life Energy (not necessarily the user's)
  • The Elements of Harmony in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. As it turns out, there are reasons both simple and complex that it was Twilight Sparkle and no other pony who ended up on the quest for them.
    • We find out later that the Power of Friendship is quite strong without the Elements Of Harmony themselves, as it alone was able to incinerate three Windigos who had the power to freeze the world. It seems the Elements just amplify this power to the point it can One Hit KO gods.
  • In Thundercats 2011 the Eye of Thundera serves as an amplifier as well as a Power Crystal for the Sword of Omens. The Sword, though crafted from enchanted metal, is little more than a heavily-ornamented dagger either without the Eye, or in resting state. When a By the Power of Greyskull is uttered, the Eye activates, and the sword extends to longsword length. Other crystals also exist, that can transform simple gauntlets into full suits of Adaptive Armor.
  • Mystic Hearts in WITCH, most notably the Heart of Kandrakar which the Guardians use to power up (we see that the previous generation of Guardians, who no longer have the Heart, can still use their powers but only at a greatly reduced level). In the second season, Big Bad Nerissa steals and combines the Hearts of Meridian and Zambala in order to create a new Amplifier Artifact called the Seal of Nerissa, turning her and former Big Bad Phobos when he in turn steals it from her into one of the most powerful characters in the series.
  1. It's also less of a rod and more of a tree branch. So yeah, not really Exactly What it Says on the Tin