Western RPGs (WRPGs) often focus on greater character customization and free-roaming exploration. The main character in this genre tend to have little predefined personality, allowing the player to decide the personality and characterization of the main character via interactive dialogue. Western RPGs tend to bear a great resemblance to Tabletop RPGs. Examples of this genre include the Baldur's Gate series, Mass Effect, and The Elder Scrolls series.
Early Western RPGs bore much similarity to Turn Based Strategy and Tactical RPGs as their roots came from tabletop gaming, but the genre has since largely distanced itself from those days. Many modern Western RPGs seem to go against their roots by emphasizing real-time combat with the player having full control of only one PC at a time. If the RPG gives you other characters they are often fully or partially controlled by an AI, potentially allowing you to select special abilities for allies to use. The decreased lack of control of party members in this style of modern Western RPGs tends to remove some of the tactical qualities of the original western RPG's and can lead to the AI controlled allies proving far less useful then the player controlled main character due to Artificial Stupidity. However as of late Western RPGs are quickly blurring together with Wide Open Sandbox games, and may cease to be a truly separate genre.
Eastern RPGs (ERPGs) often focus on cinematic narratives and memorable characters, usually (but not always) with more linear gameplay and less direct customization than Western RPGs; Eastern RPGs typically feel like visual novels, movies or anime. Until recently, most such games came from Japan, and are thus nicknamed JRPGs. A good point of distinction is that WRPGs typically have some Character Customization, whereas an ERPG will more likely have a preformed Player Character, who might have some customization applied to their abilities but always looks the same. Eastern RPGs tend to use a turn based or pseudo turn based system where the player individually inputs actions for every character in the team each turn. Good examples of this genre are the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Pokemon franchises.
Action RPGs (ARPGs) use the combat interface of an Action Game (usually Fighting Game or Third Person Shooter combat), incorporating the experience and item systems of a traditional RPG. Action RPGs often overlap or are related to games with RPG Elements, as Action RPGs are essentially an in-between, or RPGs with Shooter Elements. As such, distinguishing between Action RPGs and games that simply have RPG Elements is hard, but typically Action RPGs have all skills be viable options for winning the game, whereas games with RPG Elements focus more extensively on action. The best example of this genre is the original Deus Ex.
Tactical RPGs are related to Eastern RPGs but with a high focus on moving around a gridlike system, often with abilities that take advantage of this to attack multiple people at once, or to fight from a distance note In Western RPGs this type of tactical combat is typical, due to their descent from Wargaming.
However, what seperates the Tactical RPG subgenre from other RPGs is that they tend to greatly resemble Strategy Games, but with RPG Elements. On TV Tropes, this type of game is thus lumped in with Turn Based Strategy, as the two genres are very close. More recent examples of Eastern Tactical RPGs, however, have also incorporated Real Time Strategy elements. note Tactical RPGs however can usually be distinguished easily from Strategy games, as Real Time Strategy and Turn Based Strategy games tend to be much more open ended, and about conquering territory, whereas Tactical RPGs usually have an overarching plot typical to an Eastern RPG.
A further subdivision is a Strategy RPG (SRPGs) which more closely resemble Real Time Strategy or TabletopRPGs. The distinction separates games that are on a grid system with standard Eastern RPG characters (with abilities, more attack options, and so on) and games that are on a grid system but characters are more properly units (they typically have only base attacks, may not have equipment, and so on). A good comparison would be Final Fantasy Tactics to the Fire Emblem series. The former is a "Tactical RPG" and the latter is a "Strategy RPG". note On this wiki they're grouped together under Strategy RPG out of convenience. Also of note is that though listed as a subdivision, Strategy RPGs were a viable genre before TRPGs.
The Growlanser series is an example of a real-time "Tactical RPG" that does not use a grid-based system. A character's movement range is represented by a circular area in which the character can move anywhere within its confines, avoiding obstacles along the way. The movement speed is based on the amount of MOV points each character has in the game.
Roguelikes take their name from the early 1980s ASCII graphics game Rogue. They are defined by the combination of randomly generated worlds and permanent death, meaning that every time time your character dies you have to start completely over in a different set of levels. The focus also tends to be much more on very complex Nintendo Hard gameplay than story.
The best known example is Nethack, an open source game widely held in high regard. Interestingly, these can be both Eastern or Western in origin, though the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier are both Western, and the genre is laced with Western influences.
Lazy Backup If you're only allowed to take three out of eighteen party members into battle, you get a Game Over if those three are killed, even if the other characters are nearby and could logically step in to finish the job.
An Economy Is You All stores in a city are centered around selling things you in particular will need.
Elemental Crafting The most important aspect of a piece of armor? What material it's made from!
Equipment Based Progression Occasionally an RPG will make characters more powerful by having them find better equipment, instead of leveling up with experience points (or by having them level up their equipment).
Equipment Spoiler Finding an unusable piece of equipment means that someone able to use it will join the party at some point.
Money Spider Even monsters need to carry money. (What do they spend it on?)
Monster Allies Where monsters fight alongside the party instead of against it.
Mutually Exclusive Party Members Certain characters will refuse to join you if other characters are already in the party, or will leave when someone else joins. Sometimes controlled by the plot, but other times it's just that the two simply can't be in the party together.
News Travels Fast As soon as something important happens in the plot, everyone in the world will know about it.
Plunder Frequently referred to as 'loot', and like Experience Points, it's rewards (but of a physical manner) from defeating your enemies, from money to useful equipment. Arguably, stuff you get from other people as a reward for completing tasks from them count as well (the tasks of which may involve collecting Twenty Bear Asses.).
Plot Tunnel Linear plot sequence that forces you to put your usual sidequests on hold while important plot events develop.
Point of No Return There is no turning back once you cross this line near the end of the game — you can only finish the game or die trying.