Created By: MeophistAugust 30, 2010 Last Edited By: MeophistJuly 11, 2011
Nuked

Rock Paper Scissors System

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs A Better Description, Needs More Examples, Up For Grabs.

Super Trope to Elemental Rock Paper Scissors and Tactical Rock Paper Scissors.

A Game Mechanic Trope.

At simplist, this is when one has three or more properties, things with property A beats those with property B, those with property B beats those with property C, and that with property C beats property A. Conversely, C loses to B, B to A, and A to C. When applied, it usually gets a a bit more complicated.

More generally, this is a system where characters, weapons, or techniques with certain properties do better against those with certain properties. Typically used in RPGs, this includes dealing more damage against those with the said properties and receiving less damage from those with the said properties.

In any case, this Trope is for media with Rock Paper Scissors Systems that either use both, neither, or a combination of Elemental Rock Paper Scissors and Tactical Rock Paper Scissors. Media that simply use one or the other goes into those pages.

Trope Namer and a straight example is Rock Paper Scissors.

Another example is Pokemon, which carries elements of both Elemental Rock Paper Scissors and Tactical Rock Paper Scissors mixed together into a single system.
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • July 17, 2010
    DProc
    This is with 4 possibilities, but in Rise Of Nations and many other RTS games, it goes like this: Light beats Cavalry, Cavalry beats Heavy, Heavy beats Archers, Archers beat Light. Some also add things like: Heavy and Cavalry beat Archers, and Archers and Heavy beat Light
  • July 17, 2010
    Meophist
    ^ That would go under Tactical Rock Paper Scissors.
  • July 20, 2010
    STUART
    What goes here that doesn't go into one or both of the subtropes?
  • July 20, 2010
    Meophist
    From what I can think so far, Rock Paper Scissors doesn't fit into either as well as Mega Man Battle Network 6's alternate cycle. I thinking those that fit into both can go here as well.
  • July 21, 2010
    Chabal2
    Fire Emblem calls this the Weapon Triangle: Lance beats Sword beats Axe beats Lance (with a few counter-current weapons like the Axereaver or Swordslayer).
    • Magic works similarly (Trinity of Magic), Dark Magic beats Anima (Elemental) Magic beats Light Magic beats Dark Magic.
      • And then Anima has its own triangle, Wind beats Thunder beats Fire beats Wind.
  • July 21, 2010
    Cidolfas
    There are very few examples that don't fit into either, and I think we can safely lump them into Tactical Rock Paper Scissors. The name is vague enough to allow expansion of the definition to things other than units (in fact, the Fire Emblem example is already there).
  • July 21, 2010
    Meophist
    They mostly fit into one or the other, but I think it's still useful to have a trope which is about the Rock Papr Scissors System in genera, as it's mechanically identical to the Elemental and Tacical versions. It's a single trope divided up into two types, but neither trope is about the overall idea.
  • July 21, 2010
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Where would these fit?

    Tabletop Games
    • Stratego is mostly about Authority Equals Asskicking but there are two exceptions:
      • The spy, otherwise the lowliest piece in the game, can take out the highest ranking piece. Thus spy > field martial > any other rank > spy.
      • The bomb. This will get anybody, except the lowly miner. Thus bomb > officer > miner > bomb.

    Film
    • Implied in Starship Troopers:
      Zim: The enemy can not press a button... if you have disabled his hand.
  • August 19, 2010
    Twilightdusk
    Neither of those fit. Stratego isn't rock paper scissors, lower numbers beat higher numbers, with the unnumbered spy beating 1 but losing to everything else. The Starship Troopers example isn't even vaguely related.
  • August 19, 2010
    Stratadrake
    Additionally, with Stratego, a Spy can only win against a Marshal when attacking. If a Marshal attacks a Spy, the Marshal still wins.
  • August 26, 2010
    Micah
    This can easily occur naturally in a Metagame, especially one that's not very well-balanced. If there's a strategy which can only be beaten if you plan for it specifically, you get:

    (strategy you need to plan for specifically) > (second-best strategy) > (planning specifically for the strategy you need to plan for specifically) > (strategy you need to plan for specifically).
  • August 27, 2010
    JackMackerel
    Mixes with Tactical Rock Paper Scissors - all combat in End War focuses on tanks beating APCs but not Gunships, APCs beating gunships. The only ones that don't fall under the system are garrisoned infantry/engineers and artillery.
  • September 7, 2010
    shimaspawn
    I'm not sure if this fits or not, but

  • September 7, 2010
    Meophist
    ^ I think that'll actually go under Rock Paper Scissors. Or rather, it's kinda already there.
  • March 4, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Video Games
    • Word Of God that Homeworld II was designed this way. Although there are a lot of exceptions, in general:
      bombers > capitol ship > torpedo frigate > corvette / flak frigate > interceptors > bombers
  • March 4, 2011
    Stratadrake
  • March 4, 2011
    DannyVElAcme
    • In Vandal Hearts, ground units beat archers, who beat flying units, who beat ground units. Mages are vulnerable to physical attacks but cause massive damage to everybody, and armored units hit hard and are strong against any physical damage, but vulnerable to magic.
    • In the Dead Or Alive series, physical attacks beat throws, which beat counters, which beat physical attacks. In Dead Or Alive 3, counters could beat everything, and so it was hideously unbalanced.
  • March 4, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ Ahem, Tactical Rock Paper Scissors....

    Note that the Rule Of Three is not a requirement for Rock Paper Scissors to begin with, it's just how everyone remembers the Trope Namer.
  • July 2, 2011
    MagBas
    Sounds a good idea. By the way, the weapons in the Megaman games are not referred as being "elemental" and many of the examples in Elemental Rock Paper Scissors are not implied as "elemental power" in any official material of their franchises. Example: the digimon types. I am sure they were not referred as elements one only time in the franchise.
  • July 3, 2011
    MiinU
    Video Games

    The RTS segments of the Suikoden games use this: archers > calvary, calvary > infantry, infantry > archers. Then expands on this with the special abilities alloted to each unit.
  • July 3, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ For the third time, that's Tactical Rock Paper Scissors....
  • July 3, 2011
    Aielyn
    I must agree, Tactical Rock Paper Scissors currently covers this entirely. "Works that use both Elemental and Tactical versions" is not a trope, it just uses both. If a work uses neither one, but still incorporated a Rock Paper Scissors type mechanic (that isn't just Rock Paper Scissors itself), then what would this mechanic entail?

    If you really think that the problem is a lack of a supertrope, then there's a simple solution - Tactical Rock Paper Scissors is the supertrope, because the elemental case is really applied for tactical purposes, anyway - it's just a magical variation on other cases.

    Otherwise, the other option would be to have a more general trope covering game mechanics based on children's games, or something. Make Rock Paper Scissors-based mechanics just one of the subtrope groups.
  • July 3, 2011
    MagBas
    If it is true, Elemental Rock Paper Scissors needs a TRS thread to move all their non-elemental examples to Tactical Rock Paper Scissors(including the Digimon atributes, but exist others, many in more than a page.)
  • July 4, 2011
    MorganWick
    Perhaps Elemental RPS could be expanded into Natural Rock Paper Scissors?
  • July 4, 2011
    Stratadrake
    But "natural" would be misleading in that context.
  • July 4, 2011
    Aielyn
    Personally, I think the examples from tactical games, like where Archers beat Flying Units, who beat Ground Units, who beat Archers, is actually a case of Elemental Rock Paper Scissors (although the name does make it sound otherwise).

    I think Tactical Rock Paper Scissors should be less about attack type vs target type, and more about choice of actions. So, for instance, suppose it's an RPG, and you and the foe each have three actions - attack, counter, or magic. If you choose attack and the foe chooses magic, you will beat the foe, because attack beats magic (magic requires a "charge" time). If you choose magic and the foe chooses counter, you will again beat the foe, because magic beats counter (they're preparing for an oncoming attack, leaving themselves wide open for being hit by magic). If you choose counter and the foe chooses attack, you win again (they attack, and you counter the attack). And vice versa, for each of the three pairings.

    THAT would be a Tactical Rock Paper Scissors. But that's now how they are defined at the moment. In my opinion, the current definitions are too vague, thus my suggestion for an alternate pair of definitions.
  • July 4, 2011
    MagBas
    Elemental Rock Paper Scissors, first paragraph: "Many video games (and anime set in a Role Playing Game Verse) use traditional magical "elements" to assign and define the powers of various characters. Energy for attacks or defense are based on these elements, and thus subject to the differing strengths and weaknesses".

    Archery, Flying and Ground generally are not portrayed as "elements" in more tactical games.
  • July 4, 2011
    Aielyn
    True, which is why I said that the current definitions do not agree with what I think they should be. I think the distinction between the current Elemental and Tactical RPS tropes is very fuzzy and vague. Is the Ice/Ground/Rock triangle in Pokemon a Tactical or Elemental RPS? What about Dark/Psychic/Fighting? Flying/Fighting/Ice? On the one hand, they are "elements" in the sense that they are similar to Fire/Water/Grass, but on the other, Ice/Ground/Rock is a physical, and not elemental, triangle.

    So, if I were to modify the distinction to clarify them, I'd make Elemental RPS cover all cases where the RPS involves the character's inherent type - and archer/flying/ground is just as much about inherent types as Fire/Water/Grass is. Tactical RPS would then cover cases where it is about choices made, and not target type - more like a traditional Rock Paper Scissors, where it's all about the choice of tactic.

    Let me put it another way, by creating an analogy with the traditional game. Elemental RPS would be like walking amongst a room of people, and holding either a piece of paper, a pair of scissors, or a rock. You then have to move from one person to another, and you match off with your current item. This would be an Elemental RPS, as you have a "type" assigned to you - it is your "element". A more complex version might allow each person to choose the "attack" type - so, if you had a pair of scissors and they had a rock, you would want to choose paper to beat their element of rock, while they would want to choose rock to beat your element of scissors.

    And then, tactical RPS would be precisely what the original does - you choose a move, they choose a move, and the RPS applies to the moves chosen.
  • July 4, 2011
    MagBas
    "Type" not means "element". Reading the Wikitionary, type means:

    1. A grouping based on shared characteristics; a class.

    This type of plane can handle rough weather more easily than that type of plane.

    2. An individual considered typical of its class.
    • 2002, Pat Conroy, The Great Santini, page 4:

    "I just peeked out toward the restaurant and there are a lot of Navy types in there. I'd hate for you to get in trouble on your last night in Europe."

    3. An individual that represents the ideal for its class; an embodiment.
    • 1872, Mary Rose Godfrey, Loyal, volume 3, page 116:

    Altogether he was the type of low ruffianism — as ill-conditioned a looking brute as ever ginned a hare.

    4. (printing) A letter or character used for printing, historically a cast or engraved block. 1. Such type collectively, or a set of type of one font or size. 2. Text printed with such type.

    The headline was set in bold type.

    5. (biology) An individual considered representative of members of its taxonomic group.

    the type of a genus, family, etc.

    6. (biology) A blood group. 7. (theology) An event or person that prefigures or foreshadows a later event - commonly an Old Testament event linked to Christian times. 8. (computing theory) A tag attached to variables and values used in determining what values may be assigned to what variables.

    Scissors is not referred as an "element" in any series i knows. And, if Elemental Rock Paper Scissors not refer to elements, their name have no sense.
  • July 4, 2011
    Aielyn
    Please, actually read what I say, rather than skimming and jumping to conclusions. I've emphasised this twice already - I think those tropes should be as I described, rather than as they are. Yes, "element" doesn't strictly apply to something like scissors, but in a metaphorical sense, it still works. If you have the property of scissors in a Rock Paper Scissors situation, then you could calls scissors your "element" in a metaphorical sense.

    Notice that I pointed out that I'd consider the archer/flying/ground triangle to be Elemental RPS "although the name does make it sound otherwise". In other words, it doesn't actually fit the term "elemental", but it does fit the intent of the trope. That it also fits Tactical RPS is what concerns me - there's no clear-cut distinction between the two.

    If I could make all the decisions myself, I'd rename Elemental RPS to be Inherent Rock Paper Scissors, covering all cases where the RPS applies to something that is inherent to the player/character involved in the match, rather than merely to their actions and choices. Then, Tactical Rock Paper Scissors would apply to choices and actions.
  • July 4, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Pokemon makes no distinction between magic and non-magic. Everything is assigned to one of seventeen "types", which effects every attack regardless of whether said attack manifests as a physical blow or a smiting of elemental energy.

    There's a reasonable split between elemental and tactical RPS because in many RP Gs, basic melee attacks, weapons, and party members are classed as Non Elemental, and only the magic system has any inherent strengths/weaknesses between its various attributes/elements.
  • July 6, 2011
    MagBas
    Bump.
  • July 8, 2011
    MagBas
    I concur. Based in my knowledge, the pokemon types were not referred as " elemental" in any official material about the series.
  • July 9, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Be careful about using double negatives in English.
  • July 9, 2011
    MagBas
    Sorry...
  • July 9, 2011
    Aminatep
    ^^ My momma won't let me use no double negative.
  • July 11, 2011
    MagBas
    Bump.

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