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Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors
The three starters of Pokémon Red and Blue. (And your rival always picks the one that beats yours, and one of the Mons above isn't even pure Grass!)

"If there's one thing I know, it's water beats fire. But grass beats water, and fire beats grass. Good God, it's like a never-ending circle!"

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.

There are two primary systems:

Western (European). Usually diagrammed as a square or an equal-armed cross. Elements opposite each other are "hostile", and those adjacent are "friendly". The four elements, in sequence, are:

  • Earth
  • Water
  • Air
  • Fire

Some systems of Western magic, most notably Wicca, also include Spirit as an element, and use a pentagram (five-pointed star) instead of a square/cross diagram. This might also be called Aether if the work has a Greek flavour, or just "the fifth element" note  note  if the author is feeling lazy. The native Japanese system also uses these four plus Void, but elemental usage in Japanese media varies widely.

Eastern (Asian) has five elements, called "Wu Xing", which appear in Taoist philosophy, the I-Ching, and Asian alchemy, among other traditions. They are:

  • Earth
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Wood
  • Metal

Unlike the Western elements, the Eastern elements are not in a static arrangement of opposition and alliance, but define a process or cycle that runs along a five-pointed star (and may well have influenced those European systems that also employ five elements).

The name of this trope comes from the tendency for each element, regardless of originating magical system, to be strong against some of the other elements, and weak against others. Which is which greatly depends on the individual universe and the system(s) from which the alchemical symbolism was lifted. And often, the interpretation of an element either in or out of context can change its attributes or purposes. (As can the needs of the story!) For example, water is a real-life strong conductor of electricity; this can mean that water is "good for" the electricity (electricity naturally "fills up" the water and destroys the watery creature) or "bad for" it (the electricity doesn't want to be conducted by water, and the electrical creature is sapped or short-circuited). The complexity of the system gets really fun when you come up with a coexisting "antimatter" set of elements directly opposed to the normal ones.

Some elements may have attributes strong or weak against something not necessarily primal.

Common strengths/weaknesses often include (but are not limited to):
  • Fire — usually strong against wood, ice, or the undead. Weak to water. Sometimes weak to stone or earth (but just as often strong against the latter).
  • Ice — May be either strong or weak against fire, depending on whether it's classified with or separately from Water. If it's separate, then Water will be strong against Fire while Ice is weak to it; if they're combined, Fire and Ice will be equally strong against each other (similar to Light/Dark, mentioned below).
    • Ice is also often effective against reptiles and amphibians who naturally have a poor tolerance for extreme cold.
  • Earth — usually strong against electricity, and weak to fire, and utterly ineffective against air, although again this varies by the setting; sometimes Earth is strong to fire and weak to water and/or ice, and sometimes it is effective against Wind/Air (also similar to Light/Dark).
  • Electricity — usually strong against water, but otherwise equal against fire and ice. May be weak or strong against robots and machines.
    • Electricity can also be viewed as divine, and be effective against the undead for this reason (even if normal Light is not).
    • Can be pretty useless against grass elements, earth, rock, and every other related to mineral or with grounding capabilities.
    • Air and electricity can be the same element in some RPGs.
  • Water — usually strong against fire, weak to electricity and/or wood/grass. Sometimes strong against earth.
  • Air — usually strong against earth, weak to fire and electricity.
  • Nature — if it means plant life, then weak to fire and ice, and strong to water and earth. If it means 'what is natural or real', then usually particularly strong or weak to artificial, arcane, unreal, mechanical, or undead.
  • Time — weak against darkness, air, or gravity, strong against mostly everything. Makes sense versus earth, water, and undead.
  • Gravity — weak against water, electricity, or light in most cases, strong versus time and earth. Gravity and darkness are often on equal footing strangely enough.
  • Light and Dark are usually conflicting forces who are equally strong against each other, but weak as a defense. Light is usually effective against the undead and other evil beings such as demons, while Dark is effective against "good" beings such as angels. Light and Dark may be the same element if the MCs are True Neutral or often to equal on footing to be strong or weak vs. each other in some settings; other times they are portrayed as weak/strong to each other equally.

Elements are almost always immune or resistant to themselves; and can sometimes even heal the entity in question. Fighting fire with fire, for example, rarely works. (Except when it does.) Any Non-Elemental powers, as their name implies, will merely sit out in the corner of left field wondering why nobody else wants to interact with them. Sometimes they aren't the most important factors to have on mind, however; see Scissors Cuts Rock and Elemental Tiers for that.

The magic-specific subtrope of Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors. See Poor, Predictable Rock for when people totally fail to recognize the implications of this system. See also Field Power Effect for terrain and conditions that help one element and hinders others. May result in a Shapeshifter Showdown. Bypassed by wearing a Kryptonite-Proof Suit. Not to be confused with Fire, Ice, Lightning, which is only sometimes a case of Elemental RPS. Watch out for the Infinity+1 Element. Contrast Inverse Law of Complexity to Power, where this trope is applied between fundamental and abstract elements.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto has this in their elemental jutsus. It's a somewhat different cycle though (element points to one it beats) Fire—>Wind—>Lightning—>Earth—>Water—>Fire.) Also, this only appears to apply to the effect of jutsu on each other, not with regular materials.
    • To elaborate, each elemental jutsu has its own "theme"; for instance, Earth jutsu are mostly defensive (making walls, for example), and that plays into how they work. Fire attacks feast on Wind, so if you counter Fire with Wind you will simply make the Fire more powerful; Lightning disrupts and tears through Earth; Earth blocks Water; and Water obviously snuffs Fire out. Wind v Lightning is yet to be demonstrated, but presumably involves redirection. Other elemental clashes can still have bad effects — Lightning v Water, for instance, is usually bad for any ninja touching the water, except for the caster of the lightning jutsu.
  • In One Piece, a number of occasions show up that set two Devil Fruits against each other with surprising, yet still logical, outcomes. For a few examples, the abilities of 'Fire Fist' Ace and Commodore Smoker canceled each other out, the supposedly godlike abilities of God Eneru were completely canceled out by the allegedly weak powers of Luffy, and the previously unbeatable poison-based powers of Magellan were successfully blocked by the considerably weaker wax powers of Mr. 3.
    • At least until Magellan made an even stronger poison.
      • As of Chapter 573, we have learned of such an effect with Marine Admiral Akainu and his power to become magma: Magma has an advantage over regular fire. There is actual science behind this, as lava has both heat and mass (effectively smothering a weaker flame with its own) hotter than normal fire.
    • Furthermore, even non-elemental powers can be counteracted by others. Persona's Negative Hollow doesn't work on negative people, like Usopp. Hawkeye Mihawk's sword skills can't do a thing to Buggy's Chop-Chop powers.
  • Bleach: Hitsugaya points out that it doesn't matter how much water Harribel throws at him, his power is based on converting water to ice, so he can counter it every time. Harribel observes that logic works in reverse by using boiling water to melt Hitsugaya's ice into back into water she can exploit. Hitsugaya then clarifies he understands this and proceeds to demonstrate that he can control even her boiling water. However, since all they both have is ice and water, this doesn't change their stand-off.
  • Interestingly, the five Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Gundams were each given an elemental association in the design phase: Deathscythe is Wind, Heavyarms is Fire, Sandrock is Earth, and Shenlong is Water. Wing is unmentioned, but as the "unifying" aspect of the team as well as the only dedicated flyer, probably represents Void.
  • The original Mew Mews symbolise the four basic Western elements (Mint = Air, Lettuce/Retasu = Water, Pudding/Purin = Earth, and Zakuro = Fire), with Ichigo symbolising Light.
  • An episode of the Toei Yu-Gi-Oh! animé had Yami Yugi playing a magical game where he and his opponent controlled dragons that represented the five Eastern elements. A bit more complex than most examples, since the dragons not only had dominance against other elements; they could also be joined with complementary elements to gain more strength, like in the Chinese philosophy of the five elements.
  • Fairy Tail averts this trope for the most part. Fire mage Natsu Dragoneel and ice mage Gray Fullbuster often fight with Natsu having no apparent advantage due to his element. It's even outright stated at one point that Natsu can't melt magic ice nearly as easily as he can regular ice. It's worth noting that the one time it seems they're going to use this trope, it ends up being subverted. Gray is up against a woman who is literally made of water. Everyone thinks he'll just freeze her and score an easy win, but he ends up making her angry, which causes her to boil herself.
  • In Tokyo Underground, the elemental effectivity chart is actually based on conventional physics and common sense: thus, for example, a water mage was easily able to win against a lightning mage due to the fact that pure water is a poor conductor of electricity.
  • The first season of Saint Seiya Omega featured the following dynamic: Fire→Water→Earth→Lightning→Wind.

    Comic Books 
  • The Fantastic Four have often been compared to the four Western elements:
    • Mr. Fantastic: Water (powers of flexibility)
    • Invisible Woman: Air (powers of invisibility)
    • The Human Torch: Fire (powers of... well, obviously)
    • The Thing: Earth (He's essentially a man made out of rock).
    • In the Ultimate Universe, Dr. Doom gets in on this as well; his element is Metal. Which, considering that Ultimate Doom has actually transformed into a nigh-invulnerable creature of living steel and isn't just a guy in a suit of armor, is quite appropriate.
  • Various Marvel Comics heroes have used this trope at several points to defeat certain enemies, most often villains who either transform themselves into some giant elemental-type creature or otherwise use a certain type of energy in their powers.
    • Spider-Man villains Electro, Sandman, and Hydro-Man have all been defeated by being doused with water and/or some chemical compound that negatively affects them, like wet cement.
    • The X-Men hero Iceman once defeated the Human Torch despite the apparent weakness, using his ice powers to create steam and water vapors around Torch and extinguish his flames. Obviously, The Torch was struck dumb.
    • The Incredible Hulk has defeated some of his opponents this way, such as by spraying the villainess Vapor with oxygen when she had transformed herself into hydrogen, effectively turning her into water (which should have required burning it), or by beating X-Ray (a living field of radiation) with a lead pipe, which disrupts his radioactive body.
      • This is much more more fun if you realize that pure oxygen and pure hydrogen tend to explode when combined.
      • Vapor and X-Ray were both members of the U-Foes, a group of villains who tried to get superpowers by copying Reed Richards' flawed space flight. They ended up as direct analogues of the Fantastic Four (but evil, and therefore punchable), making them Elementals twice removed.
  • Meta Four was a New Age themed comic cut short by the bankruptcy of publisher First Comics and revived much later with Moonstone Books. The title characters were basically in the right place when the Harmonic Convergence struck. Like the Fantastic Four, the Not Wearing Tights members of the loose team had powers that roughly corresponded to the four elements.
    • A college environmental activist gained the ability to turn into massively strong living earth.
    • A goth girl became able to tap into the power of crystals. (Water, somehow)
    • A party girl harnessed "hot" energy. (Fire)
    • A drifter who wandered into the same diner as the others gained the ability to control machines. (Air, again kind of indirect)
  • The Golden Age Green Lantern has an inverted version of the East Asian elemental relationships. He used the element of fire, was strong against metals, but was weak against wood.
    • The modern Green Lantern comics have this with the emotional/color spectrum rather than elements. For instance, Willpower/Green rings are vulnerable to Fear/Yellow rings, which are vulnerable to Hope/Blue rings, which depend on the aid of Willpower/Green rings to actually do anything.

    Fan Works 
  • In With Strings Attached, during the Fourth Movement, the Raleka wizards plan to fight water-wielder John with fire and electricity. This might have worked if they hadn't been distracted into attacking a whole lot of other people first.

    Literature 
  • Magic in Kaze no Stigma is divided into the four element set, each with its area of expertise. Fire is good at raw power and purification. Wind is good at reconnaissance and concealment. Earth can detect people touching the ground and cause earthquakes. No one cares about water. Fire mages can't be harmed by fire and can even stand on lava.
  • In one of Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, a literal game of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors and different interpretations lead to the death of a person. In this case, according to the Dragon: Sand smothers fire, fire boils water, and water covers sand; while according to the merman: Fire melts sand, sand displaces water, water douses fire.
  • In Codex Alera, it's less rock paper scissors and more three pairs of opposing elements: Fire vs Water, Air vs Earth, and Wood vs Metal. Keeping a craftsman with only an Earth Fury suspended in mid-air saps their powers, burying an Aircrafter saps theirs, dunking a Firecrafter in water or surrounding a Watercrafter with fire will cancel them out, and putting a Woodcrafter in a metal box will cancel out theirs. It's never seen, but it can be assumed that stuffing a Metalcrafter into a wooden crate would drain their powers. An exceptional craftsman can have multiple elemental pet Furies of varying types, though, which makes keeping them prisoner or nullifying them much more difficult.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series has four elements: Air, Water, Fire, Earth. The opposing pairs are Water-Fire and Air-Earth. This was particularly grim in Phoenix and Ashes.
  • Sharon Shinn's Troubled Waters novel, though written by a Western author, uses the Eastern elements. Each person is governed by one element, giving them certain personality traits and sometimes superhuman abilities, and some elements pair very well with one another and some are always in opposition. For example, the main character is a coru, governed by the water element; she eventually marries a hunti man, governed by the element of wood. Occasionally this subverts itself—the heroine's mother was a coru and her father was a sweela (fire element).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the reality gameshow series Endurance the Temple of Fate showdown were resolved by pitting Wood, Water and Fire against each other. Water doused Fire, Fire burned Wood and Wood floated on Water

    Pinball 
  • In the final Wizard Mode of Plants vs. Zombies Pinball, Dr. Zomboss attacks by launching fireballs and ice balls; you defeat him by destroying each projectile with its opposite element.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ammo: When it comes to demons of elemental nature, Fire beats Water and Air beats Earth, but the opposite is also true.
  • The Time Travel-laden 'Verse shared by the Feng Shui Tabletop Games and Shadowfist card game also uses this variation. Coincidentally, the most significant "boss" NPC associated with the Shadow element also becomes a technological cyborg when travelling into eras that won't support her magic.
  • Downplayed in Yu-Gi-Oh!: Dungeon Dice Monsters (both the board game and Game Boy Advance adaptation). The order is Beast—>Warrior—>Dragon—>Spellcaster—>Undead—>Beast, but having a type advantage only means gaining 10 ATK or DEF during the battle.
    • Averted in the actual card game itself, but some of the earlier video game adaptations used two tiers of Elemental RPS based on eleven elements: The first one is, in advantageous order: Fire, Forest, Wind, Earth, Thunder, Water, and Fire. Then you have Shadow—>Light—>Evil—>Dreams—>Shadow. The eleventh element, Divine, had no type advantages or disadvantages. A monster with a superior Attribute will automatically win a battle regardless of actual stats.
  • Battle Beasts had a similar gimmick, though initially, there were only three elements: Fire, Water, and Wood, in order of weakness. A fourth element was introduced later called the Sunburst that trumped the other three, but was so incredibly rare to find it might as well have been nonexistent.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, there are four (or six, if one so likes) elements making up the Inner Planes (and as such apparently being the basic building blocks of the Multiverse). These are the four Western elements (plus Positive and Negative energy, representing life & dynamism contra (un)death & entropy). At its most extreme in the 2nd Edition of AD&D (most prominently in the setting Planescape) this was taken a step further to having the places where the various elemental planes met consist of para-elemental planes (where two elements touched) and positive or negative quasi-elemental planes (where an energy plane touched one of the four primary elemental planes).
    • The para-elemental planes were:
      • Ice (Air & Water)
      • Magma (Fire & Earth)
      • Ooze (Earth & Water, and about as pleasant as it sounds)
      • Smoke (Fire & Air)
    • The positive quasi-elemental planes were:
      • Lightning (charged Air)
      • Mineral (charged Earth)
      • Radiance (charged Fire, took the form of blinding light)
      • Steam (charged Water, counterintuitively it was cold and clammy rather than hot)
    • The negative quasi-elemental planes were:
      • Ash (entropic Fire)
      • Dust (entropic Earth)
      • Salt (entropic Water, took the form of salt water, not the salt you dine with)
      • Vacuum (entropic Air)
    • Several fansites have come up with quasi-para-elemental planes; the planar equivalent of Sailor Earth.
    • In D&D Minis, some attacks had an elemental damage type; resistance or immunity to that type would reduce or prevent said damage (e.g. Red Dragons being immune to fire-type damage). However, vulnerability would double the damage instead, such as casting a Fireball on a White Dragon.
    • Basic Dungeons & Dragons had "elemental dominance", as shown below. In conflicts between elemental beings, a creature whose element dominated its opponent's could inflict double damage and only took minimum damage in return.
      • Air has dominance over Water.
      • Water has dominance over Fire.
      • Fire has dominance over Earth.
      • Earth has dominance over Air.
  • Rolemaster (ICE) has an Elemental book with twenty-two elements. In alphabetical order: Aether, Air, Chaos, Cold, Dark, Earth, Electrical, Fire, Gravity, Heat, Ice, Inertia, Light, Nether, Nexus, Plasma, Spirit, Time, Vacid, Vibration, Water, Wind. Vacid appears to be some sort of mixture of ten other elements.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a stylized version of this trope: The game has five colors, and each color has two enemies, the colors across from them in the "Magic Color Wheel". In wheel order, the colors are: White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green. Thus, White's enemies are Black and Red, and so on. Neighboring allied colors tend to have similar play styles and share strengths (red and black are great at killing creatures, for example), while often having the direct opposite effects of their enemies (white likes to prevent damage, red likes causing it). Enemy colors can also share common ground, but in a much more limited manner. Likewise, characters in the multiverse can have allies of opposing colors, and differences in color aren't enough to totally break up Lorwyn's beauty-obsessed elves, whose race sports green and black members, or the white and red giants who oscillate between being extremely zen and extremely passionate. In game, some cards have no color (lands and artifacts) or multiple colors (fairly few). Colors are associated with specific types of cards and effects:
    • White (light, valor, order): White magic endears itself to game play that either revolves around numerous weak creatures all attacking at once or a few powerful champions which can be further augmented through various enchantments. White is also partial towards life restoring magic and spells which can prevent your opponent from doing damage to you or your creatures.
    • Blue (water, deception, intelligence): Blue magic tends to be centered around counter spells and complicated alterations that are designed to affect the flow of the game. Blue also has the highest average number of flying creatures, though they are generally not well suited for direct combat and instead usually employ abilities which can deal damage indirectly or affect the flow of the game.
    • Black (death, night, amorality): Black employs spells and abilities which are designed to degrade enemy creatures and whittle down enemy health points. This usually comes at a cost to your own health/creatures but is offset by a satisfactory payoff.
    • Red (fire, destruction, chaos): Red is the most offensive color, dealing with magic and creatures which focus on doing direct damage to players and creatures. Their magic also has a penchant for destroying enemy artifacts and lands.
    • Green (life, nature, raw power): Green likes focusing on big and powerful creatures to attack opponents and stomp out enemy creatures. Its magic leans towards buffing up creatures and altering/gathering resources.
      • Each color also has defining weaknesses. Blue can stop spells before they even happen, but afterwards they have limited options. Black struggles to deal with things that don't live - artifacts, enchantments, and other black creatures. Red can smash physical things, but can't deal with enchantments, and has to burn down creatures with damage, so they have trouble with big creatures. Green's only way of dealing with creatures (well, non-flying creatures, anyway) is creature-on-creature combat (and they don't get many flyers, which they make up for with more creatures that have trample and can just run over blockers instead). White can deal with almost any threat, but only partially; white removal either gives its opponent a way out, or makes an "equal" trade by destroying a broad class of things, including the White player's.
  • Master of Magic adapts the same colours as Magic: The Gathering with a similar differentiation of available spells.
  • Creative and destructive cycles are given to the elements of Exalted (and about twenty more are hinted at), but elemental attacks generally don't interact such (for instance, fire elementals aren't necessarily hurt by water), although a few Dragon Blooded powers have elementally based weaknesses.
  • Steve Jackson Games' Illuminati! has players (various illuminati-level Chessmaster factions) vying for control of various groups of varying levels of oddness such as the Postal Service, the FBI, The Klan and Goldfish Fanciers, making these attempts either directly or through other groups they control. Groups have zero to three alignments, except for one group which has five. Most alignments are opposed to one other alignment, such as "Liberal" and "Conservative", "Government" and "Communist". "Criminal" has no opposition, and "Fanatic" is opposed to itself. To make the system more complex, trying to Control or Neutralize a group means attacks get a bonus when alignments match (except Fanatic) and a penalty when they oppose; attempting to Destroy (permanently remove) a group reverses the penalties and bonuses from alignment. Thankfully, players' core Illuminati groups themselves have no alignments.
  • The HERO System is interesting in that it completely averts all aspects of this trope in the core mechanics. An attack, whether it's a laser beam, a fireball, or a freezing blast, all gets boiled down to a damage type (Normal or Killing) and a damage class (how many dice the attack rolls). This is all handled through a concept called "Special Effects," where all aspects of an attack aside from the mechanical core concepts are simple tertiary traits. The game still incorporates Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, though, in that being weak to attacks with certain elemental special effects is a trait of the subject of the attack, and it's not a hardwired rule; you're completely allowed to, for example, create an ice-based character who is able to resist fire attacks by virtue of being so cold that normal fire can't harm him.

    Toys 
  • Surprisingly averted in BIONICLE, besides light and shadow being equally weak to each other
  • in the 80s, Battle Beasts had a heat sensitive sticker on their chests which, when rubbed, would reveal their elemental strength. The symbols would represent either fire, wood, or water and could be used in a rock, paper, scissors game — fire burns wood, wood absorbs water, water extinguishes fire. Later a rare fourth emblem was added, the Sunburst, and it would beat all other types.
  • The semi-obscure "Fistful of Aliens" toy line from the early 21st century featured three monster races with incredibly subtle names - the muscular red Dredrocks, the insectoid green Gangreens, and the slimy blue Bluspews. Dredrocks beat Gangreens, Gangreens beat Bluspews, and Bluspews beat Dredrocks; clashes between creatures with the same colour were resolved by looking at the number on the critters' feet. There were also mutants that combined two races, automatically killed members of the third race, and would often have a high enough point value to crush anything that shared a colour; the Rare Alien Metallic Mutants, which would trample anything not a RAMM; and the Big Bad, Jangutz Khan, who was only available by special order, and not only murdered virtually everything else in the game, but let you bring a significantly more powerful lineup.

    Video Games 
  • AdventureQuest, Dragon Fable, and others from Artix Entertainment have various elements; while AQ has eight elements (fire, water, wind, earth, ice, energy, light, and darkness), DF has some which don't fit into the system; poison, metal, and bacon, for instance. There are also Non-elements; void and harm.
  • Angband has a slew of them, mostly based on the D&D one. You have the basic fire, ice, electricity, acid, and poision. Expanding on this is plasma, chaos, time, nether, nexus, inertia, gravity, force, sound, light, darkness, disenchantment, and shards. Some variants expand this with water, wind, and lava.
  • The combat for Arcana on the Super NES was centered on the idea of elemental strengths and weaknesses. Several spells either affected an element onto the target, changed the target to a given elemental alignment, or even combined several elements together to make spells that could affect multiple weaknesses; these were strangely given the name "Attribute X", with the X being the power level of the spell. The game based not only its gameplay but its world mythology around the interplay of the four elements. It also subverted some of the typical expectations of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, as each element was either strong or weak against the element next to it in the sequence, and was neither strong or weak against itself. Earth-elemental attacks, for example, were weak against Wind-elemental enemies but did a lot of damage against Water elementals, while being neither strong nor weak against Earth- and Fire-elemental enemies.
  • Azure Dreams is about as explicit as you can get: Fire beats Wind. Wind beats Water. Water beats Fire.
  • A few Castlevania games in the Metroid Vania genre have weapons that deal elemental damage and enemies variously affected by it. The one that takes the cake is Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, which had a whopping ten elements (Fire, Ice, Electricity, Poison, Plants, Ground, Stone, Wind, Light and Dark), one for each of the Battle Cards. However, except for the elemental Armors and Devils, the strengths and weaknesses of the monsters to the various elements were never explicitly spelled out, and this added to the Guide Dang It-ness and the Fake Difficulty of the game.
  • Child Of Light has Fire > Lightning > Water > Fire. Aurora's Light-elemental spells are also effective against undead and dark-aligned foes and aren't resisted by anything, making Light an Infinity+1 Element.
  • The console RPG Chrono Trigger uses a Fire → Lightning (divine form) → Water (including ice) → Shadow wheel. One quirk was that futuristic technology was always considered "Shadow" — including various laser attacks used by the robotic PC. Another was that combining different types of elemental damage always results in shadow damage. The DS remake clarifies things: Lightning is renamed to simply "Light", so the elements are Fire, Water, Light, and Shadow. This does make the lasers being Shadow even more confusing, however, given that lasers are, you know, made of light. The mixing of elements is also explained: Light element is purity, while Shadow element is the opposite. Mixing more than one element results in an "impure" mix, resulting in shadow damage.
    • It might be worth noting that in the original Japanese, the lightning element was always represented with the kanji for the heavens, hence why Crono got both the lightning-type Thunder spells and the light-based Shining (Luminaire).
    • "Thunder stun all dinosaur! You know?"
    • Interestingly, there are several in-game examples where Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors is replaced by "Fight Fire with Fire." The different-colored Scouts in the Ocean Palace absorb all elements besides the one they use. When you fight Magus, he also uses Elemental Shields which absorb all elements except the corresponding one.
    • The use of the Shadow element in futuristic (and Magus') attacks might be justified by the fact that both of the characters who use it come from a(n eventually) dead world.
    • The sequel, Chrono Cross, is a bit weirder about it. Its elements (called innates, while "elements" are spells) are white (holy/energy) versus black (shadow/gravity), red (fire/magma) versus blue (water/ice), and green (wind/plant) versus yellow (earth/lightning). All are strong against their opposite when attacking. What this usually meant was that rather than always using characters that were the opposite of the enemy's Innate, it was usually better to have one of the opposite, for damaging, and one of the same, who could easily survive if an enemy or boss suddenly let loose with a devastating attack.
      • Not to mention having two characters with the same innate is a bad idea when going up against bosses of the opposite, especially that bastard Miguel.
  • Dinosaur King is quite literally Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors; it has six elements which roughly correspond to a dinosaur type, and two which don't: Fire (mostly tyrannosaurids and some carnosaurs), Electric (ceratopsians), Grass (mostly hadrosaurs), Earth (ankylosaurs and stegosaurs), Water (sauropods and a few spinosaurs), Wind (a theropod grab bag), Secret and Unknown as the element types, but the way to determine a battle's outcome is a rock-paper-scissors affair.
  • All over the place in Epic Battle Fantasy, which has ten elemental damage types (fire, lightning, ice, earth, wind, water, holy, dark, poison, and bomb). Oftentimes an enemy is weak to its own attack element (robots are weak to lightning and bomb), and sometimes it resists both its element and its opposite (fire and water do little to water monsters). What complicates things is that multiple-target attacks are of a single element, and monsters are often composed of varied resistances, so an attack might do huge damage to one enemy while healing the other, and your next attack do the opposite.
    • One of the more annoying-to-kill enemies are Mage Dogs and Mage Birds, which are holy-aligned. Like most holy-type enemies, they absorb holy damage. Unlike most other holy monsters, they also absorb dark damage.
  • Eternal Darkness uses this for its main trio of Eldritch Abomination gods and the magic associated with them, color-coded complete with which color beats which other in the same way as the starter trios in Pokémon, only red represents matter/strength, blue represents magic, and green represents sanity. There is also a fourth god and color, purple and the rough equivalent of "nuke" in Elemental Rock Paper Scissors.
    • It's slightly more complex than that, though. Though for you, the powers are a simple RPS chain, for enemies they have actual gameplay effects. Red enemies regenerate and deal ludicrous physical damage, and take a lot of hits on top of that. Blue enemies tend to have odd special attacks- blue zombies explode if not decapitated, for instance- and deal magic damage in addition to physical damage. Green enemies are weak physically, but deal sanity damage and aren't really affected by the loss of limbs or heads- this only removes their ability to deal physical damage with the limb in quesiton. And your purple damage doesn't really deal extra damage, but it causes the metaphysical equivalent of poison, which grinds enemies, slowly but surely, to dust.
    • It makes a weird kind of sense: Xelotath's insanity is devastating against a powerful mind such as Ulyaoth, Ulyaoth's psychic attacks would overwhelm brawny Chattur'gha, and Chattur'gha would shrug off the subtleties of insanity and just rip apart poor Xel'lotath. Mantorok's purpose is to keep the other three in check, so it make sense that his power trumps theirs.
    • There is also an unusual yellow element that acts like Anti-Magic which is apparently the element of a fifth Ancient that is the equal and opposite of Mantorok.
  • EVE Online has kinetic, explosive, thermal and electromagnetic, which are roughly matched to the four races: Kinetic for Caldari, explosive for Minmatar, electromagnetic for Amarr and thermal for Gallente.
  • Final Fantasy is probably the most famous example, with its Fire, Ice, Lightning spells beating ice, fire, and water enemies. The most common arrangement is to have eight elements: Fire, Ice, Lightning, Air, Water, Earth, Holy, and Darkness; Fire melts Ice freezes Water puts out Fire; Lightning electrocutes Water; flying monsters, if not Air-elemental themselves, are untouched by Earth spells but battered by Air magic; undead are Shadow and hence weak to Holy (including most forms of healing magic - though not all monsters who are weak to Holy take damage from healing effects).
    • Despite the fact that most of these elements show up in every game, due to the Fire, Ice, Lightning nature of the Black Magic spell system, some of these elements are quite difficult to access. For example, Water, Earth, and Wind spells are often completely unavailable to most of your party, or only available in the form of one summon or the occasional elemental-based weapon, while Holy and Shadow damage spells are often unavailable until the end of the game.
    • Confusingly, in Final Fantasy X, Ice is weak versus Fire and Water is weak versus Lightning. Those were the only four elements in the game (except for Holy, but there is only one Holy damage spell, and monsters who are weak to it are so rare that Holy does not show up on the Weak/Resistant/Immune/Absorb grid that Scan and Sensor show you), so maybe it's understandable when they made each element weak versus its opposite. Even so, why is Lightning weak versus Water, again?
      • Water's being effective against electricity is also notable in earlier games, including Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, or Final Fantasy IX, where machines or other monsters that use electricity could be shorted out by water.
      • Note that in the Final Fantasy series, there are no actual elemental weaknesses or strengths, but instead weaknesses and strengths are determined by the enemy. This makes it easier to, for example, make an enemy with weaknesses to everything instead of giving it one particular element.
    • In Final Fantasy XI, there is an elemental wheel with NPCs that explain how it works: "Water quenches Fire, Fire melts Ice, Ice blocks Wind, Wind erodes Earth, Earth absorbs Thunder, and Thunder boils Water. Light and Dark are in perpetual opposition because nothing can be both Light and Dark at the same time." Sadly, despite this explanation, the actual effects of elemental weaknesses are so slim that they're easily overridden by the level a spell is obtained:
      • The first rule of being a Black Mage in Final Fantasy XI is to know this wheel. When preparing an attack, you then must observe the element of the day, the weather, the moon phase, know what skill chain is going to be used, and the elemental weakness and strengths of the mob that you are fighting; then nuke with your strongest Thunder-based spell.
    • In Final Fantasy XII, the elemental conflict is warped again with Fire and Water opposing each other by having each weak to the other and absorb/resist itself (no surprise, as this is common), but making Lightning and Ice oppose each other with the same effect as the Fire-Water conflict (which is practically unheard of elsewhere due to its lack of feasibility). This is explained in the Bestiary as Lightning symbolizing energy/movement, while Ice symbolizes stillness.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII, the enemies that are based on an element are weak to their opposing elements. For example, fire bombs are weak to ice magic and absorb fire magic.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, Water is weak to Lightning, Lightning is weak to Earth, and Earth is weak to Water. Fire is weak to Wind, Wind is weak to Ice, and Ice is weak to Fire. While there are weaknesses, resistances and absorption is non existent for enemies; you can attack a Lightning Sprite with a Thunder spell and they still take full damage, despite being a living element of lightning.
  • In addition to the weapons Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors, Fire Emblem has a magic triangle that tends to vary. Anima beats light, light beats dark, and dark beats anima is most familiar to recent players.
    • In FE 9 and 10, there are thunder, fire, and wind spells that form a triangle (these are all part of anima in the other games). FE 10 took the trope to a new level by having another triangle for light, dark, and anima, and within anima another triangle of fire, thunder and wind.
      • Never mind the fact that, in FE 10, there were maybe ten users of Dark magic. And Micaiah (light-wielding maiden who was also one of the main characters of the game) faced precisely zero of these.
      • The Thunder/Fire/Wind triangle from FE 9 was originally present in FE 4 and 5; the Anima/Light/Dark triangle replaced it in the GBA games.
  • In Fossil Fighters, water beats fire, air beats water, earth beats air, and fire beats earth. Neutral-type vivosaurs are unaffected by this.
  • Freedom Force is another game that uses binary opposition—fire and ice are each weak against each other, for instance. In practice, this means the lucky fellow in any elemental confrontation is the one who can get off the first shot.
    • Partially averted. The substance a character is made of (flesh, stone, ice etc.) sets their base resistances. But attacks and defences are all bought with points, meaning that you can have a character made of ice who throws fireballs and has a passive defence vs fire. Attack types and resistances/vulnerabilities are largely arbitrary. Aside: Characters made of flesh are vulnerable to radiation attacks making a character with radiation attacks scarily effective. The assigned heroes are all balanced for this, but a custom can hit well above their weight class...
  • LucasArts's turn-based-strategy Gladius had a size-based example of this: where Heavies had an advantage over Mediums, Mediums over Lights, and Lights over Heavies. There was also a fourth class, Animals, which did have an unlisted size but had to obey a second set of rules on top of that size. As well, each gladiator did, indeed, have earth, air, fire, or water-aspected powers, for a more traditional take on the trope.
    • Battles of Prince of Persia also had a size triangle. Large > Medium > Small > Large. It also featured triangles based on weapon types, much like Fire Emblem.
  • Golden Sun is an interesting case. It has only four elements (Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire) and each one is both strong and weak against its opposite. For example, a fire enemy is (usually) weak against water attacks, but a water enemy is also (usually) weak against fire attacks. This does not apply to the Player Characters, who are roughly-equally weak (+/- 2%, hence how earth adepts are "weak" against fire and vice versanote ) to the elements that they do not have affinity with, versus a (starting) 30% (relative) resistance to their base element.note 
  • Grim Grimoire - Glamour → Necromancy → Sorcery → Alchemy → Glamour. This overlaps with Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors somewhat.
  • In Guild Wars, the elementalist profession has the four classical elemental disciplines to draw its spells from. Typically, earth has strong defenses, air does heavy lightning damage to individuals and small groups, water slows and inhibits your enemies, and fire does widespread damage to large groups. Unlike some other models, there's not as much opposition between the elements though. For example, one water spell causes increased damage and blindness to an enemy set on fire, while an earth spell renders a character nearly immobile, but immune to all but lightning damage.
    • Some enemies do take more or less damage from some damage types, but overall the difference is minor. Rangers also have a bonus + 30 armor to elemental damage.
      • Destroyers are an exception, in that they're immune to the Burning condition.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic III, the magic system is like this. The castle of Conflux in the expansion is even based on this trope, with most of the units being elementals and a building that allows leveling up each of the elemental schools.
    • The Elementals provide a nice twist to the "rock-paper-scissors" aspect: Fire and Water are vulnerable to the opposite element's damage spells and immune to their own, while Earth and Air are vulnerable to their own damage spells and immune to the opposite's ones.
    • Heroesof Might And Magic V has the Dungeon Racial ability Elemental Chains, which lets Dungeon creatures and the elemental spells of the hero inflict additional damage if the target has the opposite element. Creatures change their element randomly when this happens.
    • From Might and Magic VI (which was developed in conjunction with Heroes III) onward, the technically main series used a related system, with the four western elements being the basis for the four Elemental or arcane/wizardly schools of magic. These Heroes-shared schools were supplemented by the three Clerical schools of Mind/Spirit/Body and the Mirrored Paths of Light and Dark.
  • Hoshigami Ruining Blue Earth has an eastern elements-inspired hexagon, in which elements both oppose and assist one another: Fire opposes Ice and assists Force; Ice opposes Wind and assists Earth; Wind opposes Force and assists Lightning; Force opposes Earth and assists Fire; and Earth opposes Fire and assists Ice. There's also the Light and Dark elements that oppose each other and assist Lighting and Fire respectively.
  • The many hundreds of Divine Beasts in Jade Cocoon 2 each belong to one of four elements; Fire, Wind, Water or Earth. Each element has its own specialties and attributes. Fire beasts generally have high Strength and Wisdom (measures of the strength of Skill and Magic attacks, respectively) and powerful Skill (melee) and Magic attacks, and are the strongest attackers. Wind beasts usually have high Speed (the beasts with the highest Speed value attack first) and a lot of special attacks (which induce status effects, like poison and sleep). Water beasts, as well as having some potent Magic attacks, also possess healing spells for restoring the HP and MP of your Divine Beasts and curing status effects, and are generally resistant to special attacks. Earth beasts specialise in defence, with high Vitality and Spirit (which dictate a Beast's Skill and Magic defence, respectively) and a variety of buffs (such as Defence and Speed increases), defensive spells (like damage-absorbing walls) and impressive attacks. As a rule of thumb, Fire's high attack power beats Water and Wind's low HP, Wind's high Speed and status effects beat Earth's general sluggishness and susceptibility to special attacks, Water's healing spells and resistance to special attacks beat Fire and Wind's primary abilities, and Earth's excellent defence beats the offensive power of Fire and Wind.
    • The original Jade Cocoon has a Fire—>Air—>Earth—>Water—>Fire sequence, plus a non-elemental foot stomp attack to which fliers are immune. Each spell in the game is tied to an element and, with the exception of the damage and elemental boost spells, unique to that element. You can combine your divine minions in such a way that they have two or more elements, but it reduces their elemental damage output accordingly and cuts them off from the boost spells.
  • In Jump Super Stars, power beats knowledge beats laughter beats power.
  • The game Kartia had a variant using the "qualities" of creatures you could summon, which were Common, Doll, and Shadow. Common beats Doll, et cetera. For those who couldn't keep the dynamic straight, these creatures also had a symbol by their name: rock, paper, or scissors.
  • Spoofed in the browser-based MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing, which features a set of five rather ridiculous elements: hot, cold, stench, sleaze, and spookiness. Each "element" is weak against two of the others, sometimes with little logic to those weaknesses (spooky-elemental monsters, for example, are weak against hot and stench attacks).
    • Well, the interesting thing is that "sleaze" seems to be defined as "oily" half the time. Bacon grease, motor oil, even a rotting fish (though that rather obviously also deals stench damage).
    • There are also a few minor elements like Bad Spelling that aren't part of the cycle, and it's possible to discover that the game supposedly has a sixth major element: Cuteness. Maybe.
    • The KoL element chart looks rather similar to that of Wu Xing, noted at the top of the page. Granted, some of the elements aren't in their strictly original positions, but the same general shape applies.
  • The Legend of Dragoon's cast of characters are all of a specific elemental alignment — Dart for Fire, Lavitz/Albert for Wind, Shana/Miranda for Light, Rose for Darkness, Haschel for Lightning, Meru for Water, and Kongol for Earth. Note that all elements except Lightning follow the Light/Darkness opposition scheme (Fire and Water being strong against one another and so forth), with Lightning's lack of an opposite mitigated by its lack of heavy-hitting skills.
    • There's also a neutral element, mostly possessed by enemies. Dart has this in his Divine Dragoon form.
  • The main character in Legend Of Fae uses spells based on the four Western elements, however their relationship with each other is cyclic: Water —> Fire —> Earth —> Wind —> Water (each element counters the one on its right). Casting a spell that counters an enemy's elemental alignment increases the damage output and, if it kills them, also increases the score multiplier at the end of the battle.
  • The old (Game Boy/SNES) series of Little Master SRPGs embodied this trope by featuring a three-element system, consisting of — wait for it — Rock, Paper, and Scissors. Yes, really.
  • Lords Of Magic has 8 elements representing 8 factions in an all-out war. They were:
    • Order: Knights, civilization.
    • Chaos: Barbarians, shamanism.
    • Fire: Giants, destruction.
    • Life: Elves, nature.
    • Air: Fairies, weather.
    • Death: Mercenaries, necromancy.
    • Earth: Dwarves, tradition.
    • Water: Merfolk, amazons?
  • Luigi's Mansion had the Poltergust 3000, which was able to suck up "elemental ghosts" after collecting a Fire, Water, or Ice medal (in that order). You suck up a certain elemental ghosts, and press L to expel that element. The mansion had candles, things that held water, and some iceboxes. Guess what did what.
  • Luminous Arc 2 has Fire, Water, Nature, Wind, Light, and Shadow Frostnote , the six of which are involved in a web of conflict (increased damage) and support (increased healing/buffs) links, though the difference is subtle enough to be ignored save for out-and-out immunity. The game also has non-elemental (neutral to everything) and silver magic, which resists any elemental attack and gain support boost from any elemental heal/buff.
  • Mabinogi is unusual in that it has only 3 elements — Ice, Fire, and Lightning. Only about half the monsters, and nothing else, possesses elemental attributes, although they cannot be added to equipment. Another unusual factor is that instead of using a strictly oppositional Rock-Paper-Scissors type system, interaction between the elements is uneven, and governed by a comparatively complex formula.
  • The Magical Vacation games have this:
    • Magical Vacation has fifteen elements, but it's overall a lot simpler than Pokémon: twelve of these elements are each weak to one other element and strong to one other element, so those can be diagrammed in a circle. Then there's Darkness which beats those other twelve, Light which specifically beats Darkness, and Love which is neutral to everything.
    • Magical Starsign has Wood beats Wind beats Earth beats Water beats Fire beats Wood.
  • MARDEK RPG actually had a sensible explanation for all four interactions: Water extinguishes Fire, Fire consumes Air, Air erodes away Earth, and Earth absorbs Water.
  • Capcom likes this. Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX have a triangle of Lightning beats Fire beats Ice beats Lightning — and of course, bosses usually come in fours, one of each and one of a neutral (sometimes earth or plant themed, but never affected by the cycle) variety. Mega Man Battle Network also has a Fire>Wood>Elec>Water cycle, supplemented (in the sixth game only) with a secondary Sword>Wind>Targeting>Breaking cycle. The primary cycle was held into Mega Man Star Force; the secondary cycle was never heard from again.
    • Oddly, Mega Man X: Command Mission has a triangle of Lightning beats Water beats Fire beats Lightning. What's odd is that this game treats ice as Water (in agreement with Mega Man 1 and Mega Man & Bass), and the Zero series treats water as Ice (in agreement with Mega Man 6 and most of the X series). So at some point between the X series and the Zero series, the triangle inexplicably double-reversed itself.
    • The second rotation (Mega Man 6, many X games, and Zero and ZX series) is generally more logical, except for its infamous side-effect: Despite boss battles entirely underwater, Fairy Leviathan is weak to fire and resistant to lightning.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes uses the Light-Dark dichotomy: the Light Beam slaughters Ing and other Darklings, and the Dark Beam is generally very effective against creatures on Light Aether. The first Prime game would have fallen squarely into this with its elemental beam weapons, but with the exception of a few fighting-fire-with-fire enemies and the Chozo Ghosts, the Plasma Beam kills everything dead, even the creatures in Magmoor Caverns.
  • Interactive Fiction game Mingsheng by Deane Saunders has an almost literal case of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: in the climactic battle, the opponent takes battle stances named after the five Eastern elements, and the player has to type in the right element to make the PC carry out the appropriate battle stance to defeat him.
  • The Monster Hunter series has this: Fire, Water, Ice, Lighting, and Dragon. Players can only have their weapons elementally attuned to one for the duration of a quest (different weapons have different elements), or bowgunners can fire whichever element they please, if their bowgun supports it. Your armor has elemental strengths and weaknesses too, according to what you killed to make it. However, the rock paper scissors aspect is kind of strange. You'd think it'd go lightning > water > fire > ice or some such, but in fact fire works great against both water and ice (and even others), water works great against fire, dragon works great against elder dragons (usually) and is a general jack-of-trades (does decentish damage against nearly everything big), lighting is generally just a poor man's dragon, and when it's not any of that, it's ice. Which is to say rarely.
  • The magic system in the MMORPG Perfect World is this to a T, except it uses the Taoist elements: Fire>Metal>Wood>Earth>Water>Fire. Then again, since the game is developed in China, this isn't all that surprising.
  • Pokémon has eighteen (formerly seventeen, even earlier fifteen) types (here's a chart), and many Pokémon have two types that can sometimes cover or amplify weaknesses. Most obvious in the three possible choices of "starter" Pokémon in each game, which are just the right types (Fire, Grass, and Water) that each Pokémon's type is strong against one of the others and is weak to the other one, just like Rock-Paper-Scissors. Naturally, the rival character will invariably pick the one strong against your starter.
    • Despite the series now having over 700 different Pokémon, some types are much rarer than others, even two types. In the initial generation, there were no single-type Ghost or Flying Pokémon, and the latter still only exists in two Legendary Pokémon, despite being among the most commonly found types overall.
    • This series in particular has some rather odd elements. There are more "classic" RPG elements like Fire, Ice, and Electric, some oddball-but-still-sensible elements like Fighting, Poison, and Psychic, and some that evoke "Does that really count as an element?", such as Ghost and Bug. There is no particular pattern to what resists what (each type's weaknesses and resistances is basically independent of every other type) and there is no specific number of resistances that every type should have (Ice has one resistance and four weaknesses, Steel has a whopping eleven resistances, three weaknesses, and one immunity), and 'mons are often assigned two types that may or may not cancel or increase each others' weaknesses or resistances, resulting in a very intricate Rock Paper Scissors sequence. In fact, different elements don't even consistently work against themselves, as Fire-type Pokémon are resistant to Fire-type attacks, but Dragon-type Pokémon are extra-vulnerable to Dragon-type attacks.
    • In FireRed and LeafGreen, this is parodied in the Teachy TV's tutorial on Pokémon types, when the Poké Dude interrupts his usual ending speech to say that he's a "cool-type", and compatible with "awesome-type" kids.
    • An interesting fact: If there were a hypothetical Pokémon of all 18 types, it would only be weak to Rock-type moves, because there are more Pokémon types weak to it than Pokémon types that resist it, and that no types are immune to it.
      • Specifically, it would have 8 immunities (Normal, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Ghost, Electric, Psychic, & Dragon), Take normal damage from Flying, Fire, Water, Ice & Fairy; resist Steel & Dark, and take 1/16 damage from Grass & Bug, and be weak to Rock (4 types are weak, 3 types are resistant, for a value of 2x). It would also be weak to the move Freeze Dry and immune to Flying Press (see below).
    • There are two monsters whose typing makes them have no weaknesses (until Gen VI): Sableye and Spiritomb, who are Ghost/Dark. If the ability "Wonder Guard" is hacked onto either of them, they become immune to all damage, save for weather effects, entry hazards, residual poison damage, and (through a programming oversight) the move Fire Fang, among other things. While Sableye has unimpressive stats, rendering its lack of a Type weakness basically a novelty if you don't cheat, Spiritomb has pretty good stats other than speed, especially its Defense and Special Defense.
      • The fifth generation adds three more, kicking the total of Pokémon without weaknesses up to five. Tynamo, Eelektrik, and Eelektross are all pure Electric-type Pokemon, which are only weak to Ground-type attacks. However, all three of them have the Levitate ability, which makes the user inherently immune to Ground-type attacks. Moves which negate abilities do work against them, however.
    • Pokémon X and Y introduced Fairy Types, making the total number of Types 18. Thusfar, the most prominent new species of this type is a new Eevee evolution called Sylveon, and Gardevoir, along with the Jigglypuff and Marill families, will be retconned into it. It's intended to be a counter to Dragon-types, much like what happened with Psychic-types and Dark-types; especially considering Fairy is ''immune to Dragon-type attacks. It is, however, weak to Poison and Steel-type attacks, two hardly-used offensive types.
    • The typing of a Pokémon itself counts only defensively whenever the type chart comes out. That is, a Water-type Pokémon's Electric- and Grass-type attacks aren't worn down. However, when a Pokémon uses a damaging move (barring moves with set damage) that matches its type, they are increased in power.
      • To make things more complex, some abilities effectively change the element of moves used, and two of the new moves introduced in Pokémon X and Y give the target a new type in addition to its normal ones, which can result in Pokémon with three types temporarily. And lastly, there's a move that is dual-typed (Flying Press, Fighting/Flying) and one that otherwise goes against the type chart (Freeze Dry, which is strong against Water while most Ice attacks are less effective).
  • In Pop'n Magic, all enemies belong to one of three elemental types. Fire is strong against earth, which is strong against water, which is strong against fire.
  • Quest 64 plays this one in a less typical faction. In fact, every element interacts with each other in various ways, and there's no immunities, just resistances.
    • Earth - Does double damage to Wind, regular damage to Water, 50% damage to itself, and 75% damage to Fire.
    • Wind - Does double damage to Earth, regular damage to Fire, 50% damage to itself, and 75% damage to Water.
    • Fire - Does double damage to Water, regular damage to Wind, 50% to itself, and 75% damage to Earth.
    • Water - Does double damage to Fire, regular damage to Earth, 50% to itself, and 75% damage to Wind.
    • Neutral/Universal/Nonphysical: Does regular damage to everything, and resists all elements.
  • In Quest for Glory II, you use fire to beat an earth elemental, earth to beat an air elemental, air to beat a water elemental, and water to beat a fire elemental.
  • A modern variation occurs in Scurge: Hive. Creatures are divided by Biological, Mechanical, and Energy, and are respectively weak to Fire, EMP, and Diffusion attacks.
  • In Seiken Densetsu 3, air is used as the same element as electriticy, where Carlie's "Thunder Saber" spell is cast by summoning Jinn, the game's air elemental/god.
  • Septerra Core. Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Air, Air beats Water, Water beats Fire.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei games have all featured the elemental Roshambeau concept. Individual demons may be weak, resistant, or some degree of immune to the 4 elements (8 in some games) and the 3 (or more) types of weapon damage; there's also the Almighty damage type, which almost nobody is strong or weak against.
    • In addition to extra damage, recent games in the series award extra combat actions to the player for exploiting enemy elemental weaknesses, and penalize actions for hitting monsters with elements they're immune to.
  • Skylanders' PvP mode has the following cycle: Life > Water > Fire > Air > Earth > Tech > Magic > Undead > Life. A Skylander deals more damage if their opponent is weak to their element.
  • In Spectrobes, Corona->Aurora->Flash->Corona. Also, in the Wii game Origins, Fire->Plant->Earth->Sky->Water->Fire.
  • Exemplified in the Suikoden series of games — where using two highest-rank spells of compatible element in the same round would result in them combining into a single ultra-powerful spell, and in Suikoden IV, where shipboard sea-battles are fought using Elemental Cannons. Countering an enemy attack with the appropriate element would result in the enemy's attack being absorbed into your own, thus dealing damage to the enemy ship equal to each ship's attack power combined.
    • In Suikoden Tactics (also called Rhapsodia), the elemental wheel is more strongly emphasized, with each character having an innate elemental alignment. Characters are healed (and their attack and defense go up) when standing on terrain whose alignment matches their own, and are harmed (and attack and defense go down) when on their "enemy" element. The chain goes: Fire < Water < Lightning < Earth < Wind < Fire. While some of the relationships make sense (Water/Fire/Lightning), some are more esoteric and seem to rely on science (earth being a ground for lightning/fire burning up oxygen).
  • The Tales Series often uses Fire, Ice, Wind, Earth, Lighting, and Water, in a cycle, then has Light and Dark, which were both strong against each other.
    • Tales of Legendia had Fire-Ice, Lightning-Earth, and Dark-Water/Holy, which each being strong and weak toward each other. Of course, certain enemies were strong to both in the pair...
    • Tales of Vesperia and Tales of the Abyss only uses Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Light and Dark. In Abyss, Lightning is lumped in with Wind while Ice is combined with Water. In Vesperia, Lightning attacks combine fire and wind, while Ice attacks often combine water and wind. Water and Earth create a not particularly impressive Wood spell, while Fire and Earth create a Gold spell.
    • Tales of Graces uses both physical and elemental ... elemtents. Enemies will carry many weaknesses and you get bonuses for hitting them, and more bonuses for hitting all of them. Most attacks have Two or Three elements, and spells can be charged up to add another 2 in the Updated Re-release. The elements are all represented somehow. Fire attacks hit the burn weakness. Ice hits Freeze. Wind hits poison (and aerial and/or bird sometimes). Earth hits petrify. Lightning hits Paralysis (and almost always hits Nova too). Water hits Slow (and sometimes aquatic). Light hits Nova (the evil element) and often blurs with Lightning. Darkness hits humans. The rest are just type of enemy (beast, reptile, etc) and how you hit them (slash, impact, etc).
    • Tales of Xillia uses a similar method to Vesperia. Fire and Wind create Lightning while Water and Earth create Ice. There is no Wood or Metal, though.
  • Tears to Tiara 2 has two sets. The European four (though Fire beats Wind, Wind beats Earth instead) in one. In the other, Holy beats Cosmic, Cosmic beats Darkness, and Darkness beats Holy.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the elements are Fire, Frost, Shock (the three most prominent and obvious ones), Poison (sort of), and normal Magicka.
    • Every magical effect is considered to be Magicka, even if it is also fire or frost. So being vulnerable or able to resist magicka allows one to resist most magical effects, even if they have their own elements.
    • The Elder Scrolls games haven't really employed Elemental Rock Paper Scissors that much, except with respective Daedra, atronaches (Daggerfall), and golems (Arena). All but two races experience at least one natural resistance but this is typically negligible during normal gameplay, unless it is the general resistance to magic type.
  • The Tone Rebellion includes a standard version of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors with a twist. The four realms are physical, supernatural, ethereal, and natural. The level of dominance is determined clockwise instead of across (i.e. while physical and ethereal are opposites, one does not dominate the other; instead, physical dominates supernatural, supernatural dominates ethereal, ethereal dominates natural, and natural dominates physical). The two realm scales change with tides. The players must use the proper tides for the right moment to attack in order to gain an advantage. Conveniently, each of the four playable Floater tribes is in tune with one of the four realms (Tarks - physical, Zygons - supernatural, Cepheans - ethereal, and Dyla - natural). The Leviathan creates structures and creatures depending on the dominant realm on a particular island and is capable of building creature-producing structures of every realm.
  • Warriors of Might and Magic follows this scheme: Fire burns Earth, which blocks Air, which bests Water which beat Fire. Furthermore, Light and Darkness are efficient against each other and other two elements (Light against Fire and Air and Darkness against Earth and Water).
  • World of Mana tends to have elements that oppose each other in pairs: light versus dark, [[Lunacy moon]] versus plant, fire versus ice, and earth versus air.
  • World of Warcraft has this in some places. Elemental creatures do exist, and will usually be immune to their own form of damage (Fire immune to fire; water immune to frost; air immune to lightning, etc.) Some elementals take extra damage from their opposite number and others do not; for example, the water elementals in Arathi Highlands are extremely vulnerable to fire damage, but Ragnaros the Firelord is not especially bothered by frost. The elements are Fire, Frost, Arcane, Nature, and Shadow. There's also Holy but players couldn't build resitance to it.
    • Well the original Ragnaros was totally immune to fire, so he has the strong against his own element aspect down pat.
    • The elementals in Arathi Highlands elaborate on this: they have all four types of elementals in different places around the zone, and each type will drop a special, one-use object that can be used to instantly kill one of the other types. For example, the water elementals drop "Crest of Water" which destroys a fire elemental, and so on.
    • Generally, World of Warcraft's Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors isn't much of one, since there are so few enemies that are weak to an element. The secondary benefits of elements (Fire burns for a while and can stun, Frost slows and freezes, poison (part of Nature) does damage over time, Shadow tends to cripple by lowering stats and defenses while doing damage over time) are far more important. Only elemental beings and some bosses (Notably Chromaggus, who changes his resistances and vulnerability at random) can take more damage from an elemental attack.
    • The Ascendant Council fight in the Bastion of Twilight raid instance has elements of this. You fight two sets of two elementals at the same time, and use the abilities of one elemental to negate some of the more damaging abilities of the other. Most notably, using an earth debuff from one elemental to prevent a one-shot kill from the wind elemental, and a wind debuff to prevent the one-shot kill from the earth elemental.
    • The idea of elements has been heavily downplayed. Aside from a few items that slipped through the cracks, elemental resistances are gone playerside.(And even if you get one of those items, they don't do anything and are no where near endgame level). Only a handful of monsters still have resistances (though exactly what ones do is hard to track). The reason being two fold: Stacking elemental resistance fell out of practice over time and was not fun, and it's not fun for say, a Fire Mage to run into something that resists fire. The elements are still in the game, and some spells do odd elements like "Shadowfire" or "Frostfire" which change depending on which is more effective.
  • On the higher difficulties of Ys VI, there are color-coded enemies that can only be defeated with the corresponding elemental sword. Ditto for the Final Boss's first phase. Conversely, Ernst's fairies can only be KO'ed with a different element than their own.
  • ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal has a total of twelve elements, complete with a complex relationship table: Nature, Air, Water, Light, Energy, Psi, Stone, Ice, Fire, Darkness, Chaos, and Metal.
  • The Denpa Men has eight elements: Fire, Water, Electricity, Earth, Wind, Ice, Light, and Darkness. As far as standard elemental advantages go, Fire > Ice > Wind > Earth > Electricity > Water > Fire. Light and Dark are more complicated: Light Denpa Men resist Dark but are weak to Light. Light enemies are often weak to both. Dark enemies are often only weak to Light, but Dark-aligned Denpa Men strongly resist both Light and Dark, while being slightly weak to all other elements.
    • Dual-type attacks were introduced in the third game. All of them are very hard to get, but really powerful if you manage to get them. The six normal elements can all form dual-type attacks with each other (for example, Electricity + Ice = Thunder Blizzard), but Light and Dark can only mutate with each other.

    Webcomics 
  • The mages in Whats Shakin have the powers of all elements, but excel in only one. In contrast to typical canon, ice and water elements are weak against fire as seen in the fight against Fred.
  • In the Triquetra Cats, the main characters have control over the elements of Earth Fire and Water, their mother has control over the element of Air, (as they are all on the same side it has never been resolved if one is weaker/stronger than the other save for minor sibling rivalry squabbling, in which they use their powers in possibly the weakest strength possible anyway)
  • Adventurers!!, in addition to the standard RPG elements, includes "Tastes Like Orange Tang", "Doesn't Taste Like Orange Tang", and even "Peanuts" (which Khrima apparently has an allergy to). The main quest has the party collect about a hundred elements from the periodic table.
  • Played with in this Slightly Damned comic.
  • In Bob and George, Ice Man's power to Fire Man.

    Web Original 
  • Taken Up to Eleven with RPS 101. Each 'element' is weak to 50 and strong against 50, and there are descriptions for why for each.
  • Demon Thesis has this to an extent, as elemental spells will affect each other differently. The creator of the game made a cheat sheet that lays out all the effects, as well as some other nuances. (For example, if a character standing on a grid that was frozen by an ice spell and you attempt to hit them with a fire spell, the ice and fie will cancel each other out, since the ice melts and the fire never get a proper chance to burn anything, and the character will be undamaged).

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender is based on the four among others, ancient Buddhist elements, represented by the four nations. Although in 'real life' no element is shown to be particularly stronger than the others, they do have their own literal Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, as in a game (earth beats fire apparently). It was also somewhat parodied in one of the chibi shorts, where they spent the episode arguing over "what beats what".
    • While the bending elements are all equal in terms of power they do have very different mental aspects that put them in opposition of eachother (Air vs. Earth, Water vs. Fire). For instance: Aang's easy going and adaptive nature works well for airbending, but does nothing for him when it comes to earthbending. Earthbenders need to be stubborn and direct to control their element, something Aang initially had trouble with. Avatar Roku, a Fire Nation native, went through the same thing when learning waterbending, which seems to indicate that this is a hurdle all avatars have to clear.
      • This is averted with Avatar Korra, though - she is a native Water Tribeswoman, but great at firebending. The element she has difficulty learning is air. This could possibly show that this hurdle is more of a case of opposing mentalities rather than a case of opposing elements.
    • Energybending, bending the very lifeforce within living beings, is the original and most powerful form of Bending. An Energybender can remove and return elemental Bending. It can even replace one element with another one, i.e. turning a Firebender into an Airbender. However, energybending is useless in the heat of battle since it requires extended physical contact with a prone target and comes with the risk of corrupting the Energybender's soul if the target's will is stronger.
  • In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Master Splinter defeats the Foot Mystics (who represent steel, fire, water, earth, and wind) with a powerful sword by making them use their elements against each other, while using the following quote:
    Master Splinter: Fire melts metal, water puts out fire, earth swallows water, wind scatters earth, and I shall quell the wind!
    • The turtles themselves' personalities are based around the four elements - Leonardo as Water, Raphael as Fire, Donatello as Earth and Michelangelo as Air.
      • And it should be mentioned that pizza, the turtles' food of choice, contains all four food groups.


Double JumpVideo Game Effects and SpellsElemental Tiers
Discard and DrawThese Tropes Are EqualEqual-Opportunity Evil
Drunk with PowerPower at a PriceEmpathic Healing
Death or Glory AttackFor Massive DamagePoor, Predictable Rock
Elemental RivalryElements of NatureElemental Shapeshifter
Bad with the BoneImageSource/Video GamesEvolution Power-Up

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