RPG-Mechanics Verse

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Weaponsmith: I estimate a 25% increase in attack accuracy, with a corresponding enhancement to damage.
Roy: It's OK, you can just say "+5 sword" here. We do stuff like that all the time.

Initially, it looks like a standard Role-Playing Game Verse — but then the characters explicitly start referring to spot checks, hit points in Stat-O-Vision, roleplaying, Always Chaotic Evil monsters, and other Role-Playing Game Terms. Is this an RPG in which the characters' players are weaving in and out of character and this is represented by the characters themselves speaking, or perhaps a video game which breaks the Fourth Wall more often than usual?

Nope or at least it is not shown. The Verse this takes place in really does work exactly like a tabletop RPG.

Because of the Fourth Wall-breaking implications, this usually happens only in comedies. Frequently takes place in a Purely Aesthetic Era, especially for Fantasy games.

Not to be confused with: Deep-Immersion Gaming, Campaign Comic.

Recently it also sprouted a new fiction genre, commonly known as Lit RPG. Lit RPG is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy which describes the hero's adventures within an online computer game. Lit RPG books merge traditional book-style narration with elements of a gaming experience, describing various quests, achievements and other events typical of a video game.

The defining feature that sets Lit RPG fiction apart is its use of interactive gaming language, such as the inclusion of various system messages, players' stats, items' characteristics, and other elements appreciated by gamers. The narration in a Lit RPG novel has to abide by the rules of a game while filling it with conflict and drama as the hero tries to survive in this new environment.

Lit RPG books are not the same as traditional game novelizations. Lit RPG books are set in fictional game worlds which are entirely their authors' invention, such as Andrey Livadny's Phantom Server or V. Mahanenko's Barliona. Also, their use of gaming mechanics and attributes sets them apart from traditionally penned game novelizations.

Especially in the last several years the genre saw a spike in popularity, partially gaining interest from the same audience that was interested in series like Sword Art Online, Ready Player One, and The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor. Since then, dozens of new game-set novels have been published worldwide, some of them national bestsellers such as The Way of the Shaman by V. Mahanenko and Mirror World by A. Osadchuk.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

  • The anime Beet the Vandel Buster (started in 2002) which features experience levels printed on the characters' chest and money for killing monsters.
    • In classic Dragon Quest tradition, keeping track of experience requires regularly visiting someone (an old crone in this case) who keeps track of your kills. Beet got tired of this, and so appeared horribly underleveled when he first reappeared after the prologue.
  • The even older Mahoujin Guru Guru features characters who steal objects from random places in homes and badges on their chests which indicate their experience level.
  • And even older than that is Dragon Pink, an OAV series from 1994 based on a manga from 1990 implied to be set in an H-Game fantasy RPG.
  • The Tower of Druaga has elements of this depending that fluctuate from episode to episode.
  • Fortune Quest (in the OAV at least) has levels which are visible to the characters (some of whom complain about not levelling).
  • Log Horizon, despite its numerous lighthearted elements, is very thorough and analytical in analyzing the implications of having The Game Come to Life. Players aren't normal folk: they possess Resurrective Immortality and the ability to summon a Diegetic Interface, causing the (now sentient) NPC characters to freak out and often distrust them. Stats, levels and mechanics become everyday language among everyone. Everyone has to learn how to use their class abilities from scratch (Calling Your Attacks is useful but not sufficient). Formerly meaningless Flavor Text becomes Language of Truth. Assorted Necessary Weasel RPG tropes like Inexplicable Treasure Chests turn out to have an in-world explanation, and eventually players discover the ability to alter the rules of the world and create Game Mods of sorts, as long as internal consistency is maintained.
  • Hunter Hunter has a story arc in which the protagonists get transported into an in-universe video game.
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is based on an universe that looks like an RPG than anything else. For starters, the character's stats can be seen by their respective god/goddess when they update their status, which can then be recorded on a piece of paper for the adventurer to see, as their blessing is imprinted on his/her back. Yes, characters have their stats literally etched on them.
  • Isekai De Kuro No Iyashi Te Tte Yobareteimasu lets the main character access many video game like screens, letting her see other people's levels and skills. She also has a radar to see friends and enemies around her.
  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!: Kazuma's new world runs on this principle, down to its denizens' abilities being gauged by certain parameters (such as Kazuma's ridiculously high Luck and Aqua's crippling deficiency thereof).
  • Overlord: A player of the fictional MMORPG Yggdrasil becomes trapped in the body of his Elder Lich avatar Momonga and transported to a new world, along with his guild's Elaborate Underground Base and its (now-sentient) NPC guardians. While Momonga and the guardians still follow Yggdrasil rules and speak of them frequently, things for the natives are a bit more loose: Their abilities can be broken down into Yggdrasil classes with sufficient examination, but they frequently exist in impossible combinations, and they have no awareness of game concepts like Character Level (at least not in a concrete sense). In addition, they are capable of learning "Martial Art" skills which exist outside the level progression, and which game characters like Momonga cannot learn regardless of effort. Momonga theorises that, while no one in the new world is as strong as a ''Yggdrasil'' character, they also do not possess a level cap. The magic system of the new world is the same as Yggdrasil's, but its inhabitants are capable of inventing new spells which players could not use. It's heavily implied that most of the similarities between the new world and Yggdrasil are the result of players who arrived in the new world centuries before Momonga and taught their magic to the locals, causing it to partially displace the world's native magic in the fabric of reality.
  • The world of The Rising Of The Shield Hero has character level, which the main character can see. When the weapon merchant upgrades his armor, he calls the upgrade +1.
  • Sword Art Online: While earlier storylines are simply The Game Come to Life, the Underworld arc blurs the line with RPG-Mechanics Verse: Kirito is trapped in a virtual world used as an incubator for true AIs, where they live and die as humans. However, this world was based on the Virtual Reality MMORPG engine "The Seed", and uses many RPG conceits for the sake of making things easier to simulate (including things shattering when they reach 0 Life) which its inhabitants grow up thinking of as normal. The programmers of this world even state that the only reason they included magic was so that they could Hand Wave odd physics with A Wizard Did It.
  • The setting of Hero Union BBS contains several worlds that run on different RPG mechanics, many of which (such as level grinding, overpowered bosses, and obnoxious party members) are discussed by several heroes in the titular forum.
  • Kumo Desu Ga, Nani Ka? has a Skill System that applies to humans, demons, and monsters alike. Skills are solely combat-focused or supplementary to combat; there are no skills for crafting, arts, etc. The system is so ubiquitous two separate religions have popped up around it. Later it's revealed that the system is a stop-gap magical matrix created by the Administrators after the world was nearly destroyed. It prevents additional loss of souls and energy while the world is being repaired. Experience is energy taken from souls of the defeated, spells are essentially programs that only work when interfacing with the system, and skills directly modify the souls of the user.

    Comics 
  • Scott Pilgrim, kind of. For the most part it's the real world, if surreal and videogame-like, but Scott occasionally talks about his allocated skill proficiencies, gains experience points and levels up.
    • It's based on the mechanics from River City Ransom specifically. So if it isn't a full RPG-Mechanics Verse, it's at least an RPG Elements verse.
    • In the movie, Scott earns points for defeating people or for solving things in his life (for instance, patching things up with Kim). It also seems that people in that universe have coins for blood, since Gideon coughs up a coin when injured and people burst into coins when defeated.

    Fan Works 
  • The Games We Play is a The Gamer × RWBY crossover in which the protagonist discovers that his Semblance allows him to affect both himself and his environment as if he were a RPG character.
  • In the Alternate Universe of Harry Potter And The Munchkins, all wizards are players and the schoolbooks are detailed enough that they can be used as RPG core books. As discussions of maximizing feats and stats are everywhere, Harry takes a correspondence course in Personal Optimization to get the most out of his growth. He also spends some semesters having teachers analyze the odd merits appearing on his Character Sheet - Potter Family Curse and a Mother's Love.
  • The main character in Harry Potter and the Natural 20 comes from one of these, and still works on Dungeons and Dragons rules logic while in the Harry Potter verse, causing confusion and occasional terror for everyone involved. He's also a Munchkin.
  • The Tabula Avatar Universe kicks off with the Scoobies being uploaded to Baldur's Gate 2 when the Trio find the unbroken memory crystal from 'Tabula Rasa'.
    • Xander's aware of how Dungeons & Dragons' magical weapons scale with pluses and minuses. When he proves it as a working model, it's named after him.
    • That certain enchantments work differently between the first story and Neverwinter Nights due to the edition change is Lampshaded by the characters.
  • Pony POV Series: In the Finale arc, Discord's endgame plan involves Rewriting Reality so that all stories and rumors printed on the Foal Free Press come true. It's more horrible than it sounds, since most of what was printed was horror stories. Fortunately, Havoc saw this coming and had Button Mash spread RPG rules. As a result, the world now runs on RPG rules as well as horror story rules, allowing the protagonists a chance to defeat the monsters spawned.
  • There are God knows how many Naruto fanfics where Naruto discovers his life is an RPG video game (usually Groundhog Peggy Sue stories, to allow him to repeatedly die and restart or load his save), to the point that they're practically a subgenre unto themselves. Naruto: Game of the Year Edition is probably the most prominent.
  • The Swarm of War contains a minor example, with the Zerg capable of absorbing the Life Energy of their kills to evolve into stronger forms. Later, the Overmind designs a device that can make an entire planet work according to StarCraft rules (conveniently placed resource points and spawn times in the seconds to minutes, that is)... very temporarily due to the steep cost.

    Film 
  • Not a true example, but the 1984 thriller Cloak & Dagger briefly flirted with this in its opening sequence. It begins with superspy Jack Flack infiltrating an embassy and dispatching a bunch of colourful ethnic archetypes with an arsenal of James Bond gadgets, then escapes down the street when a gate closes in front of him. Suddenly, a pair of giant numbered dodecahedrons roll towards him. Cut to two kids playing a board game, the boy yelling triumphantly, "Jack Flack escapes!"
  • Being an adaptation of the graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World also runs on video game logic.

    Literature 
  • The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters (IUDC) is an entire novel (with two sequels) set in this type of world. The RPG in question is 1st and (later) 2nd Edition AD&D.
  • Ulillillia's book The Legend of the 10 Elemental Masters pretty much pushes this trope to its limit.
  • Not quite an RPG, but two of the universes from Riddle of the Seven Realms by Lyndon Hardy operate by rules reminiscent of geometry-related board games like Go or Checkers.
  • The Fate/Zero Light Novel, being a prequel to Fate/stay night, also makes use of the stat sheets found in the Visual Novel. Several of the passive skills and stats listed there also come into play in the plot.
  • Mogworld is a novel told from the perspective of an NPC in an MMORPG, who has developed sapience.
  • Gamearth Trilogy is told from the point of view of tabletop RPG characters. The world _is_ a hexmap, with visible black borders between the hexes and laws of physics which prevent them from crossing more than so many hex-borders each day.
  • Kryształy Czasu: Saga O Katanie, a Polish fantasy saga-in-progress, is based on its author's tabletop RPG Kryształy Czasu. Aside from its other So Bad, It's Good qualities, it also refers to the game's mechanics, such as spell ranks and effects. Supposedly, the author wanted to show how the game mechanics actually played out in action, but the end result is completely inverted.

    Music 
  • Dragon Road song apparently describes such an OOC-verse:
    They all jumped upon us because we were lawful good.
  • The lyrics to the Morlocks song "Hardcore" contains the line "What's bad for you is good for me, I've got less than five in Humanity", a reference to Vampire: The Masquerade.

    Real Life 
  • A university professor came up with a revolutionary new method for grading his students: couch grades in gaming terms, and he goes on to suggest that business managers do the same.
    • This strategy is called Gamification and it can be used to motivate and teach all sorts of things such as learning instruments. See here for more information.

    Video Games 
  • Disgaea characters are fully aware that they're in a turn based-strategy RPG, and thus will occasionally make comments about character levels, critical hits, save points, and whether or not the final boss has an additional form that grants him stat bonuses.
    Valvatorez: That wasn't his full power! We can expect at least three levels of transformations, with additional power multipliers every time!
  • Fallout 2 invokes this from time to time, which is no surprise, given how flimsy the Fourth Wall is. Some party members even comment, "Hm. I feel that I've reach an arbitrary experience threshold and gained some new abilities," upon leveling up.
  • Subverted for laughs in Touhou 11: Subterranean Animism. If you play as Marisa with Alice's assist, they spend the entire storyline sassing each other and discussing the quest in terms of RPG tropes. They're also hilariously wrong, since SA is a Bullet Hell-style Shoot 'em Up like most Touhou games.
  • The Fargarthians of Sunset Overdrive believe they live in an RPG due to trauma caused by the mutant outbreak occuring during a LARP session. As such, they'll send you on quests (although quests were already a normal part of the game), talk about gaining levels (which act as social standing), and yell "I'm losing HP!" when they get hurt.
  • Undertale is both a parody and a rather chilling example of this. The game starts out pretending to be a rather normal RPG, but very quickly you find out that the completely normal ability to save your game is nothing less than the superpower to mess around with time and rewrite time lines. And that's only the tip of the iceberg; not only can certain characters either remember these time resets, or have learned to recognize them in people's behaviour, but it even turns out there has been in-universe scientific research into the power that allows you to do that.
    • Besides that, the game parodies and plays around with all RPG game mechanics. Apparently, in the Underground, it's perfectly normal to turn into a floating heart to fend off attacks.
    • The game also plays around with its user interface, both to diversify boss fights and simply for comedic effect. One very notable parody example is the date with Papyrus, in which the game tells the player to "Press the (C) key on your keyboard to open the dating HUD", which summons a completely nonsensical set of meters, statistics, minimaps and random items.

    Visual Novels 
  • Actually played completely serious in Fate/stay night. All Heroes get a viewable Character Sheet that explains their skills, stats and abilities, all in RPG-Mechanics Verse, even how many turns an area spell lasts for,
    • In-game as well, more than once the characters quantify mana, and then spend the rest of the scene treating it literally like MP.
    • It should be noted, however, that Servants' abilities is something that every master views differently because their minds interpret the information given to them in different terms. The whole 'RPG Character Sheet' method is simply Shirou's mind's way of quantifying the information. Now, what does that tell us about Shirou?
      • It's shown to be in full effect in the prequel, however, where everybody uses the same terms that Shirou does. That, or all the Masters there are One of Us.
      • Actually it's revealed that magic the Nasuverse as a whole is measure and quantify this way. So it's less of everyone uses the same terms that Shirou does and more that Shirou is using the terms that everyone else in the Nasuverse uses.

    Webcomics 
  • The Order of the Stick, which operates more or less according to the Dungeons & Dragons rules. As a matter of fact, the very first strip takes place when the D&D rules change from 3rd to 3.5th Edition.
    • Besides the page quote, it's also lampshaded in a dream/hallucination Belkar has about Lord Shojo telling him he needs to play "The Game" (basically that he needs to at least pretend to go along with people's rules) and Belkar briefly thought he meant the whole webcomic is a Deep-Immersion Gaming of some players' campaign.
    • They also sometimes measure time in "strips", and make direct references to "this comic". That's right — they're not just aware they're in an RPG, they're aware they're in a comic strip that's set in an RPG.
    • And neither last nor least, it is Medium Aware enough to permit one character (the thief) to steal the diamond off her cast page entry when they needed some cash.
  • Goblins plays with this, with a "player character" cleric worshiping "the dungeon master" as a god. One character didn't die from an injury until they realized that Mage Armor didn't grant damage reduction. Word of God is that their world runs according to a heavily houseruled D&D ruleset, and that all combat results are legitimate under these altered rules.
    • It's a Deconstruction of life as RPG fodder characters, so it (partially) breaks the rule about comedies.
  • Erfworld has a main character recruited from the real world to become a general inside a world that looks like a fantasy-themed Turn-Based Strategy game. Many of the various mechanical simplifications of a turn based strategy game are literally true in Erfworld (for instance, the two sides of the war take turns, and each side's units instantly recover hit points and movement when their turn begins). One of the few places where it is not played for laughs. Well, okay, where it's only sometimes played for laughs.
  • 8-Bit Theater does this, although it's generally only Red Mage who thinks this way. For example he was once able to survive an otherwise fatal fall by "forgetting" to record the damage. However, it appears Red Mage is only right when it makes for a better joke. He also accesses his items by speaking the menu options out loud.
    • A one off joke horrifically subverts part of this concept. All Red Mages believed the world ran on RPG rules. Because they considered themselves scientists this had to be tested empirically. Sadly they began by trying to determine hit points and ended up slaughtering each other For Science!.
    • At first, even Black Mage seemed to minorly operate on this (well, more Video Game mechanics than anything else, really), and had him reading a game guide to Final Fantasy I (the game upon which the comic is based). He got over this relatively fast, though, leaving RM as the only "metagamer" in the series.
      • Though he apparently still has the thing on him.
      • Thief likewise displayed such Medium Awareness early on, as seen by the line "Your GP or your HP."
    • One example of the thing obeying the laws of the game it's based on is when they notice it only became night and then morning when one of them stayed at an inn.
    • Red Mage has fun with it, telling Thief how interrogation is just emptying "pockets" of information from a victim's mind, and you can just remove a lock from a "pocket" in a door.
  • Played for laughs in the late, lamented RPG World webcomic, which runs on console RPG rules. Cherry was the only character who consistently seemed bewildered by the characters not wondering why numbers appeared over their heads when they were injured in battle, etc.
  • Adventurers! takes place in a console RPG with characters that are well aware of the game mechanics, and one repeatedly complains about how ridiculous they are.
  • Will Save World For Gold is set in 4th Edition D&D, and makes fun of many different RPG Tropes.
  • Keychain of Creation uses the rules and setting for Exalted Second Edition, with some house rules thrown in, in a similar manner to The Order of the Stick.
  • Now defunct webcomic Ledgermain also took place in one of these.
  • Gold Coin Comics does this all the time. The most notable of which might possibly be when Lance first encountered an actual save point within his own universe.
  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta has a few of these, due to the fact that said universes are actual video games.
  • Yamara has AD&D mechanics (not surprising, as it was published in Dragon Magazine):
    Blag: Cause ya see, girlie, nobody cares if ya got an 18 Intelligence. Nobody'd care if you were one o' th' lucky broads with a 18 Wisdom! All that counts is a nice, round 18—
  • The world of Homestuck, while otherwise being the Text-Based Adventure Game's equivalent to this trope, has a strife system that appears to be based on turn-based RPG combat. The Game Within a Game, Sburb, also features an "echeladder" that seems to parody an RPG's level system— and since the lines between Sburb and reality are so blurry as to be nearly non-existent, this could be said to apply to the story's "real world" as well.
    • Its predecessor, Problem Sleuth is probably a straighter example with both Adventure games and RPG's. Most of the first part is dedicated to Lampshading Adventure game mainstays (especially Solve the Soup Cans puzzles and You Can't Get Ye Flask), but the fight with DMK borrows a lot more from RPG tropes like Turns Red, One-Winged Angel, Stat-O-Vision, Eleventh Hour Superpower, Super Move Portrait Attacks, etc, etc.
    • Homestuck also has the Class and Aspect system, which parodies classes in RPGs. Every player has an Aspect - a fundamental aspect of reality - and a Class - how they make changes with or to their Aspect. Some get very useful powers, like Roxy's ability to conjure items from nonexistence, Terezi's ability to see the consequences of actions or Eridan channeling his hope in the form of deadly Black Magic. Other powers, however, have not proved as useful, which is where the parody comes into play, with some powers being so useless they harm their users. Then again, it's also implied that the job of this system is to invoke Character Development in its players, with both the Aspect and Class "choosing" its users instead of the other way around, so no ability is truly useless.
  • Hael me Plz!!11 happens inside a "non-official" Ragnarok Online server, and all the cast are very aware of it, even if one of the characters managed to bring with him a Flame spell from Lineage 2.
  • Prepare to Die is entirely built around a D&D-esque world, complete with character sheets, NPCs, skill checks, and die rolls.
  • Rumors of War uses an RPG-Mechanics Verse according to Rule of Drama, of all things.
  • A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe, though the protagonist is the only person aware of this.
    • Alternatively, it could be argued that the RPG mechanics only apply to him: when he is hurt he loses hit points, but when other people are hurt they begin bleeding like normal people.
  • Turn Signals on a Land Raider has elements of this, only with tabletop wargaming instead of tabletop RPG.
  • Rusty and Co. features three Monster Adventurers (who saw who had the better deal in the D&D world) working through levels. In the first level (story), Mimic tells Rusty to go ahead and eat the sword stuck in him — there being no rules about tetanus. Plus, of course, having Roxy consult the Monster Manual while Cube is working his way through the bears.
  • Sidequest Story uses elements of this trope, with characters having health bars, and damage and healing being shown with -/+ numbers, respectively.
  • In By the Book the main characters became adventurers simply by reading a copy of the "Adventurer's Handbook, v.3.5" and filling out character sheets.
  • The Gamer has an interesting example in that the setting as a whole apparently isn't RPG-Mechanics Verse; it's more that the main character's superpower is to interact with the world as if it were one.
  • Corgi Quest uses Pathfinder rules for everything, and the author keeps up-to-date character sheets for the main party available.
  • Uber Quest appears to work like an MMORPG.
  • Awful Hospital: The Inert Vessel turns out to be this, especially after Ms. Green teams up with Celia. Seems Ms. Green has gotten used to it, as even when she returns to the hospital she approaches combat this way.

    Web Original 
  • College Saga is specifically a Final Fantasy-mechanics verse, and to a certain degree runs on Final Fantasy logic as well, played completely for laughs.
  • The Adventures Of Ledo And Ix seems to take place inside an old-school RPG, with the titular pair being aware of things like their inventory, the existence of points, the difference between "people" and NPCs, and their extremely truncated and half-assed backstories. Given that the series' objective is to use "the visual vocabulary of retro video games to explore the human fear of both the unknown and the known," it may count as a Deconstruction of how creepy it would be to live in such a place.
  • RPG Parade is set in world with RPG style battles and leveling up, even if it is shot in a life lie world.
  • One of the gags in ASDF Movie is a guy leveling up after punching another guy in the face.

    Western Animation 
  • Code Monkeys has life bars and things like that, though they don't mean anything.
  • Adventure Time has occasional jokes along these lines, most specifically in "Ignition Point", where Finn and Flame King explicitly refer to the Dungeons & Dragons alignment system and experience mechanic when discussing the possibility of Finn bringing Flame Princess over to Good.

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