RPG heroes are dumb, man.
When it comes to RPGs, there are 3 mainstays of equipment: Weapon, Armor, and Accessory. Sometimes a game will differentiate separate parts of armor (Dragon Age 1, for example, has equipment slots for boots and helmets in addition to the body armor), sometimes a game will have multiple hand slots for weapons or shields determined by the player (DA1 also does this), sometimes a game will differentiate different types of accessories (to continue the example, DA1 has separate slots for equipping necklaces and rings, allowing for 2 rings and 1 necklace on every character), but in the end, it almost always comes down to these mainstays. I mean, not always, I’ll grant you (AeternoBlade, for example, has 3 slots for accessories, but Freyja’s weapon and armor are set in stone for the game’s duration...not that you’d ever want her to stop using the most insanely deadly sword in RPG history), but still, this is the case like 90+% of the time.
Accessories tend to be the most interesting and useful of these mainstays. After all, the bonuses from weapons and armors tend to just be simple increases to attack and defense. Yes, there are many weapons and armors that have other effects, and those can be exceptionally useful, but generally, accessories are the pieces of equipment that provide varied effects that can change your playstyle or be manipulated to make your characters unstoppable in 1 fashion or another. Is the deadliest part of an upcoming boss fight the enemy’s Damage-Over-Time effects? Throw on a couple rings that prevent Poison or Bleed conditions. Want to attack 8 times, that’s 8 fucking times, in a row in Final Fantasy 6? Throw an Offering and Genji Glove on a character. Want to just be actually, honestly indestructible in Lufia 2? Equip the Egg Ring (although by the time you can get the damn thing, you clearly don’t need it anyway). Accessories can cause you to regenerate health every round, increase the damage of critical strikes or attacks to hit elemental weaknesses, activate bonus skills on characters that normally have to choose between them, give immunity to status ailments and instant death attacks, increase stats, confer extra experience and money at the end of battles, lower the cost of spells and abilities, give elemental resistances, increase the amount of actions you get per turn, make healing spells and items more effective, empower attack skills and magic, and do so much more. A wide and varied number of accessories in a game can allow for party customization in RPGs which otherwise have no such opportunities.
So, of course, this begs the question of why the hell RPG characters only ever equip, at most, a few of these things at a time.
I mean, think about it. Let’s take Final Fantasy 6 as an example. If, say, protagonist Terra decides to equip both a Gem Box and an Economizer (Soul of Thamasa and Celestriad in the later translation), she can cast magic twice per turn (4 times if you abuse the Quick spell), and all spells cost her only a single MP. Being able to throw Ultima around twice (or 4 times) with no worry of running out of magical ammo for it is pretty awesome! But that’s just 2 accessories working in tandem--an orb and a necklace, it seems. Well, there’s nothing about wearing an orb (however that works) and a necklace that should stop Terra from also tying a Ribbon around her neck or wrist or wherever the Ribbon item is kept--she could have all that magical attack power, AND be immune to status ailments! For that matter, there’s no reason any of these accessories would get in the way of her wearing a White Cape, increasing her defense and magical evasion. And underneath the cape could be the wings of some Cherub Down, to ensure that she’s immune to all Earth-based attacks. And why should any of these accessories prevent her from putting on a pair of Marvel Shoes, granting herself faster actions, health regeneration, and additional protection from magic and physical damage? None of these accessories get in the way of one another, so if Terra really wants to be an unstoppable force of nature, she could equip them all. Hell, even the ones that would get in each other’s way don’t always have to be exclusive. I mean, I think the Beads accessory is supposed to be worn around one’s neck, so you’d think Terra wouldn’t be able to wear it and the Economizer at the same time, but it’s not like it’s physically impossible to wear 2 necklaces/pendants/whatevers at the same time. She could totally wear both, no problem.
Why does my protagonist in Dragon Age 1 only wear 2 rings? There are 35 different rings in the game that give beneficial effects. Just 2? Fuck that, I want a ring on every damn finger! And toe! Hell, if it means more spell resistance and critical damage, go ahead and pierce my Grey Warden’s ears with a couple of those magical rings each, and her nose, and tongue! Deck her out like a punk rocker with a fetish for costume jewelry! I like it, so I wanna put 3 dozen rings on it!
There are 39 different amulets in the game? Pile’em on! By the time I’m done with her, people are gonna be mistaking her neck for a cluttered keychain!
How many stat-boosting, effect-giving magical belts are there in Dragon Age, again? 32? Bring’em on, who said that belts are for the waist only? Throw 5 around my city elf heroine’s waist and then start strapping’em around her legs, arms, wherever they’ll go! If it means extra Cunning stats (somehow) and better health regeneration, I’ll make her look like she just came straight outta one of Tetsuya Nomura’s wet dreams!
It’s just always seemed silly to me that RPG characters have some arbitrary accessory limit imposed on them. You can only really wear 1 set of armor (maybe 2, I guess, if you have separate armors for clothing-type and real-armor-type), you can only grip 2 weapons and there are actual pros and cons to the issue of whether to go with 2 weapons, a weapon and shield, or just a weapon gripped with both hands. But nearly every RPG character has got a neck, 2 wrists, 10 fingers, 10 toes, and so on. There’s no reason they can’t wear 20 different magical rings into battle, a couple of pendants, several bracelets or at least 2 gauntlets, and so on. They’ve got access to all these incredible ability-boosting baubles, but they only ever wear 1 - 5 of them at a time! C’mon, Wild Arms 2’s Ashley, you’re trying to save your world from terrorists, an ancient demon, and an actual living universe that’s trying to eat your reality! You need to get serious about this shit! Pin the Sheriff’s Star on your chest, AND wear a pair of attack-increasing gloves! At the same time, you idiot!
And yeah, I know the reason for this from the gameplay perspective. Obviously, if you want any sort of game balance, you can’t give a character the option to load themselves down with as many accessories as they’re actually able to wear. Well, that’s great and all for design mechanics, but that doesn’t mean that it makes sense from a narrative standpoint when Hero McSwordbutt decides to take off the ring he’s been wearing because he wants to try on a new cape. Just because you have to do something to maintain game balance, that doesn’t mean it needs no explanation whatsoever to justify it, if it goes beyond the laws of common sense (I’m looking at you, Adventuring Party Size Limits). You still should do or say something to make some sense of it.
I’m telling you, the day some RPG hero realizes that she’s got more than 2 fingers, and that her neck and hands occupy different places on her body, we’re gonna have the most overpowered game character of all time.