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—Sandal, Dragon Age
A piece of Socketed Equipment comes with a number of empty "sockets," into which can be placed various "gems" (ie. Green Rocks) to add more qualities to said piece of equipment: a ruby might add Fire damage (or resistance to fire); a black diamond might add life-drain; so on and so forth.
In the original concept of the trope as presented by Diablo, once a gem was in a socket, the match was permanent and that was the end of the story. In combination with the randomly-generated equipment, this meant that every piece of EQ you encountered was completely unique, even before you socketed it out. It also meant you lived in fear of socketing a gem and then, on the very next dungeon crawl, uncovering an even better piece of gear that you would've rather saved the gem for.
Generally, you are not allowed to design the Green Rocks either; instead, you Gotta Catch Em All. The result is a modular customization scheme in which you can create weapons with any combination of pre-determined qualities you desire. In general, the containing game will play this up by allowing its Random Number God to design all equipment on the spot, so that you can't control an item's sockets, style (IE sword vs spear vs etc) or pre-existing enchantments, and instead have to spend a lot of time adventuring (or Save Scumming) in the hopes of finding that perfect piece of gear. This is more effective than it sounds as a time sink. Compare Gun Accessories.
- The Diablo series by Blizzard Entertainment, the Trope Namer, and many of its Follow the Leader clones, such as Torchlight and Fate. The latter two games allow you to destroy either the weapon to retrieve the gems, or smash the gems to re-open the slot, averting the problem of having the Random Number God award you better loot just after you made a gem/socket commitment. Torchlight also allowed you to combine two identical gems into one that's a level better.
- Diablo II allowed the upgrading of gems, either through the Horadric Cube or touching a gem shrine which would drop one of your gems on the ground as a higher level one (For example, touching a shrine while you have, for example, a chipped ruby would turn it into a flawed ruby). If you didn't have a gem, it would drop a random, chipped gem when activated.
- Far more forgiving in Diablo III. You can actually safely remove gems from armour (For a nominal fee), which is VERY helpful, because creating the higher-end gems becaomes hideously expensive later on.
- World of Warcraft, also by Blizzard introduced such items in the first Expansion pack. Sockets come in three different colours (Red, Yellow and Blue) (plus Meta Gems and Prismatic Slots), gems come in 3 primary and 3 secondary colours (Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Green and Purple, as well as Prismatic) and you get a bonus for matching up the colours. Gems can be either found or cut by Jewelcrafters. The best Gems can also only be used by Jewelcrafters. Uncut gems cannot be placed in sockets.
- Gems of secondary colors boost 2 stats, one from each of the primary colors that make it up, but by about half the amount as a primaries that make that color. They can also activate the sockets of either color that make it (Thus 2 Orange gems can give the same stat boost as a red gem and a yellow gem, but still counts towards the socket bonus if you have red slots.)
- Meta Gems are speical and only found on "Head" slot items. They require different combinations of gems in other sockets before they can be used but provide different kinds of stats. Also Prismatic Gems and Slots can fulfill/ be fulfilled by, any gem color.
- Depending on the cut, color and type of gem/quality, the stats will differ. All red gems have the same dozen cuts that other colors can't be cut into, but the better the gem, the higher the stats increase.
- Also, while gems cannot be removed from slots, they can be replaced by a different one, with the original one being destroyed.
- Blacksmiths can also add slots to gear, the most common one (and only one usable by non blacksmiths) is a belt buckle that adds 1 prismatic socket to any belt.
- Divine Divinity refers to them as "charms". The difference here that the amount of charms you can put on a piece of equipment is determined by your Charms skill, in addition to the "Charm Quality" of the item.
- Final Fantasy VII and Materia are basically this, except without the mated-for-life aspect (as befits the Powers as Programs nature of Materia).
- Final Fantasy X allowed you to modify weapons; its Green Rocks were generally consumable items (in varying quantities and rarities). While you couldn't unmodify a sword, you also didn't need to; there was no randomly-generated equipment in the game. Instead, there was basically just one flavor of weapon and armor for each character, which was completely blank and which you then modified to your heart's desire, and which you could buy basically anywhere. Any combination of qualities you found in one weapon, you could create in another (with a few exceptions in the game's Infinity Plus One Swords).
- Also interesting to note is that weapons with 4 blank slots (max.) cost more than ones with 3 blanks and a good attribute preinstalled in the first slot, which means the game considered those more valuable...
- The enchantment system in Dragon Age. Sandal can add or remove runes free of charge. The runes themselves come in different grades; the most powerful ones usually have to be bought (which is the case for most of the uber gear in this game).
- In Dragon Age II, the enchantment system is revised, runes can no longer be removed from equipment once they are set in, but can be replaced by other runes. Thanks to the revised crafting system, this method is actually more cost effective than the system that was in place in the first game.
- Geneforge implemented a simple version of this from the third game onwards, along with Item Crafting. Almost every item can take one and only one gem, with the exceptions taking no gems because they're so powerful anyway.
- Ratchet and Clank: Deadlocked uses this. Each weapon has several slots for Alpha mods, which upgrade mundane things like damage, firing rate, and accuracy, and one slot for an Omega mod, which adds an odd effect like napalm, electric shock, or Baleful Polymorphism.
- Pangya equipment (y'know, golf clubs and clothes) features these.
- The way that you enhance your superpowers in City of Heroes works in a similar fashion. On level-ups that don't give new powers you will instead get 2-3 slots that you can distribute among your powers for a total of 6 slots per power. Enhancements go into those slots and work to improve the stats of that power such as increasing accuracy and damage or reducing recharge time. There are also special types of enhancements that improve 2, 3 or even 4 stats at the same time.
- You can also mix and match enhancement types. Just because you slotted 1 piece from the Touch of Death set doesn't mean that you must use only that set for that power (although you need more pieces of it to get the set-bonuses for having X number of that set's pieces). It's common place to mix different enhancement types and sets to get certain desired stat boosts, which is referred to as "frankenslotting".
- Both Knights of the Old Republic games featured "upgradeable" equipment that could be fitted with better components. In the first, armor and non-lightsaber weapons had only one "gem" per socket; all guns used the same scope, for instance, although some had different bonuses from it. The second, however, featured a full range of different components for each slot; weapons had three slots apiece, armor had two, and lightsabers had five (although two were "crystal" slots and used the same items) not counting their color crystal. Any given slot had between about three and six different types of upgrade, each with multiple levels.
- Aion has sockets in all of the armors, weapons, and shields. The number of sockets usually depend on the item's rarity, but can vary in some exceptions. Players can slot manastones into these sockets to provide a direct boost to their stats, although putting more than one in an item may cause the socketing to fail, which destroys ALL the manastones already in that item! Some weapons also have a "godstone" slot that will accept one godstone that will give the weapon a chance to proc a specific effect, such as additional damage. And, on top of all of that, the players themselves can earn up to five stigma slots and three advanced stigma slots, which are used for slotting additional skills you can't obtain any other way.
- Eve Online has "rigs" - modules that can be fitted to space ships' "rig slots" but can never be removed except by destroying them. Basically sockets and gems In Space.
- However, many rigs in EVE actually impart a penalty to one aspect of your ship, as well as the bonus to another one (for instance, increasing armor hp at the cost of a reduction in max speed). The various rigging skills reduce this penalty though.
- Similar to Knights of the Old Republic 2, Mass Effect had weapon, armor, grenade and ammunition upgrades. While early weapons and armor only had one weapon and armor upgrade slot, it increased to two slots in more powerful versions. However, there was only one grenade launcher, which only had one grenade upgrade slot, and each weapon could only have one ammunition upgrade.
- Mass Effect 3 brought the system back, though only for weapons and each weapon has exactly two slots. Any upgrade or "mod" fits the basic five weapon types and can be put into any number of these weapons at once. Multiplayer also has three additional slots that affect the entire character, but the upgrades are used up after a mission. These include ammo mods (replacing ammo powers from singleplayer), damage boosts and armor boosts (ranging from faster shield recharge to faster power recovery or run speed).
- Referred to as "augments" in the Fable games. Ironically, most "Legendary" weapons come pre-slotted with enhancements, meaning the perfectly normal sword you found and slapped 6 enhancements on could theoretically (especially in the sequel) be more powerful than either of the Infinity Plus One Swords available. Taken to it's hilarious extreme with the most customizable and powerful weapon in the first game (provided you actually perform the sidequest necessary to find it) is a frying pan.
- Fable III scrapped the socketed equipment system from the previous games. Instead, each weapon gains specific enchantments if you fulfill a requirement (ie. Kill 100 Hollow-men to get spread-fire on your gun.)
- Grand Chase has cards for weapons. Only rare weapons/Armor and Higher can be equipped with them. They can be removed with a (cash) item.
- Cards seem to be popular for socketing in MMORPGs. Most gear in Iris Online has slots for up to 5 cards (which ones go in which slot is based on blood types), and Fly FF allows you to make sockets in weapons & suits of armour (up to 10 & 4, respectively) for extra stat cards, although you need a CS item to keep the gear from breaking (you can put static bonus run speed or base stat cards in weapons, or % bonus HP/MP/FP/ATK/DEF cards in suits).
- All armor and most weapons in Guild Wars have upgrade slots. The weapons that don't (and those with missing slots) have built-in bonuses that are, usually, equivalent to max upgrades for the missing slots.
- Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness lets you do this with Wonderfuls, making this your method of upgrading your tools.
- Ragnarok Online has slots in weapons and equipment for cards, which are rare drops from monsters.
- A free online text-based RPG called Majesty: Heroes of Ardania (a fan production based on the Cyberlore videogame Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim) plays this trope absolutely straight, wherein the player can take many pieces of equipment to a "socket carver" to have sockets carved into his equipment. He may then place magical artifacts called "Dwarvern beard rings" into those sockets.
- Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 has a supplement that introduced Augmentation Crystals, magical items that could be attached to your weapons or armor to provide bonuses. The advantage was that you could transfer the crystals to new items when you upgraded your equipment, so even if they weren't very powerful on their own, they never really became obsolete either.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, this is a special property of both the Scratch n' Sniff Sword/Crossbow (comes with the power to summon stickers to put on it) and the Fossilized Necklace (beat up skeletal enemies to get their teeth.)
- Disgaea has Specialists, essentially NPCs that live inside items. Once a Specialist is subdued (by going into the Item World of that particular item and beating them up), they can be moved around to other items and even combined with other Specialists of the same type to power them up. Every item also has a number of slots to hold Specialists, with 'rare' and 'legendary' items generally having more slots than normal items.
- City of Heroes' enhancement system for powers is effectively this, with the ability to add "sockets" (slots) to powers as a character levels up, and five to eight (depending on how you divide them up) degrees of enhancement available.
- Freedroid RPG has up to 4 sockets on equipment and if there aren't, you may add them. Compatible add-ons can also be produced and vary with socket and equipment type.
- Parodied in the webcomic Sluggy Freelance in its "Years of Yarncraft" parody of World of Warcraft. Items could have sockets for rather random items like blenders, and some headgear was headgear-socketable, meaning you could have your old hat socketed onto your new hat.
- Guns in Resonance of Fate all have various slots where you attach parts to increase their stats. The expansion parts themselves can have more slots to attach more parts and then those parts can have even more slots, leading to truly insane designs with multiple scopes, barrels and grips stacked on top of each other with no regard to what they're pointing at...in the end, only the size of the customizer's grid limits the amount of add-ons used.
- Much like Final Fantasy VII above, many artifacts in the role-playing game Exalted have slots for hearthstones, which can be used either to regain Essence (common trait for all hearthstones) or to utilize a power unique to the stone.
- Some equipment in Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning has sockets for gems that can be added at a Sagecrafting altar. Putting points into the Sagecrafting skill allows a player to craft the best possible gems in the game. Investing points into the Blacksmithing skill allows a player to use gems as forging materials, negating the need to find equipment with sockets.
- Xenoblade includes socketed items as well as items that come with unremovable enhancements.