RPG Mechanics Verse

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.


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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.
  • 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).
  • The Gamer has the main character develop the ability to treat life as an RPG.
  • An in-universe and less comedic Diegetic Interface appears on most items and individuals seen by adventurers in what was a normal MMORPG, now The Game Come to Life, in Log Horizon. Characters Calling Your Attacks and speaking of stats and game mechanics, despite the world no longer being a game, is common.

  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.
  • 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 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.

    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.

    Western Animation 
  • Code Monkeys has life bars and things like that, though they don't mean anything.