Analysis GameBreakingBug GoddamnedBats GoodBadBugs LostForever Main VideoGameCrueltyPotential
This article refers chiefly to video games. See
Tabletop RPG for old-fashioned pen and paper games.
A type of
in which the player controls a character or
party of characters
in a statistically abstracted way. Most are based around
points, as characters
grow in power
Roleplaying games (commonly known as "
") have their origin not as video games but
with dice-based combat and character generation, descended from a combination of tabletop wargaming and collaborative theater.
Dungeons & Dragons
was the first such system to be sold, followed by other early systems such as
The Fantasy Trip
Tunnels & Trolls
. These type of roleplaying games are all
The early video game RPGs
focused mostly on simulating the combat aspects
of Tabletop games, with other aspects following after. Video game RPGs can be divided in a number of ways, which are elaborated below.
Western RPGs (WRPGs) often focus on greater Character Customization and free-roaming exploration. The main Player Characters in this genre tend to have little predefined personality, allowing the players to determine their characterization via interactive dialogue. Western RPGs traditionally bore a great resemblance to Tabletop RPGs, Turn-Based Strategy, and Tactical RPGs—thanks to their roots in War Gaming—but many modern examples go against said roots by emphasizing real-time combat, while de-emphasizing tactical control of the Player Party, which is often delegated to the AI. Western RPGs come in three main flavors:
Dungeon Crawlers focus on fighting, looting, and grinding, with little interest in the story or world exploration. The earliest Western RPGs belonged to this category, codified by the series and the earliest Wizardry installments, and are conceptually related to Ultima and Rogue its likes (see below). This subgenre has gone out of favor during The Nineties, with only the series and its many clones still going strong.
Diablo Sandbox RPGs were codified by the aforementioned Ultima series from part four onwards. This subgenre is all about free-roaming exploration, character customization, and environment interactivity. Its incumbent king is series, though the growing number of The Elder Scrolls Wide Open Sandbox games with RPG Elements threatens to erase the distinction between these two categories.
Narrative RPGs are the youngest subgenre codified in the late nineties by and the Planescape: Torment series. Such games put the spotlight on their storytelling aspects—a compelling character cast and an engaging storyline—and, in this, are often compared to contemporaneous Eastern RPGs. More recent examples of this category include Baldur's Gate , Mass Effect , and The Witcher series.
Dragon Age Hybrid games that don't fit neatly into any one subgenre above are also abundant. Their success depends largely on whether they manage to blend elements from different subgenres together into one fun experience or end up spoiling the soup with them.
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 , and Dragon Quest franchises.
Pokémon 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 However, what seperates the Tactical RPG subgenre from other RPGs is that they tend to greatly resemble note 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 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 to the Final Fantasy Tactics series. The former is a "Tactical RPG" and the latter is a "Strategy RPG". Fire Emblem .
note Roguelikes take their name from the early 1980s ASCII graphics game . They are defined by the combination of Rogue 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.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) can be any of the above genres, though they gravitate around a fusion of Action and Western RPGs (as the Trope Maker Ultima Online arose out of a Western RPG series). They also have their own distinct elements, mainly focusing around large boss battles known as "raids" and Player Versus Player interactions, as well as more tedious grinding such as fetching Twenty Bear Asses.
Whether any actual "Role Playing" is involved in many RPGs is often debatable. See also
How to Play a Console RPG
PC vs. Console
For the trope about assuming roles in order to practice something, see
Comic Role Play
This genre is home to many specific tropes.
Types of Role Playing Games:
Tropes that are commonly found in Role Playing Games:
Actually Four Mooks An enemy appears as a single sprite, but turns out to be a whole party of baddies in actual combat.
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts The farther you get in a game, the more expensive stuff will be.
Alliance Meter Getting the in-game factions to like or hate you.
All in a Row The party follows behind the leader like a lot of little ducklings.
An Adventurer Is You A description of the class-based systems common to many Role Playing Games.
A Homeowner Is You You get to buy a house, basically just because.
All Swords Are the Same All weapons of a specific type look and play exactly the same.
Arbitrary Gun Power Video game guns don't kill instantly, they do HP damage.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit Arbitrary requirement that stops you from having too many characters in a party or unit.
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.
Armor and Magic Don't Mix Mage characters don't wear armor.
Awesome but Temporary That weapon that looks like an Disc One Nuke? You lose it by the next cutscene.
Background Music Override Let's keep the Crowning Music of Awesome going through this sequence's battles instead of the Battle Theme Music.
Bag of Holding An object capable of holding other objects in hammerspace.
Bag of Sharing There are many characters but they share one inventory.
Bag of Spilling Said sharing most likely won't happen between sequels.
Battle Theme Music Feel those awesome riffs, man!
Beef Gate The game prevents you from going to places out of order by putting very tough enemies in the way.
Betting Mini-Game Let's pause our quest to play craps!
Black and White Magic Hmm, do I get to roast the bad guys or heal the good guys?
But Thou Must A dialogue tree where your choices are irrelevant, because the game will not proceed until you pick the 'intended' option (or ignore your decision altogether).
Character Alignment Your character's morality, usually on the good vs evil and lawful vs chaotic scales.
Character Level You level up as you gain Experience Points.
Class Change Level Reset Your level drops back to one when you swap jobs/classes.
Combatant Cooldown System A.k.a. Active Time Battle. A combat system where how soon combatants can act again is determined by their Speed stat and by the complexity of their respective previous actions.
Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth You can either fight, talk, or sneak your way to victory.
Combination Attack A special attack that occurs when two or more characters use certain attacks at the same time or in rapid succession.
Common Tactical Gameplay Elements Rules that add a tactical dimension to RPG combat.
Convenient Questing Your next destination will be the closest area that you haven't been able to get to before.
Critical Encumbrance Failure You're perfectly fine with 87 pounds of weight, but add one more item and you'll collapse in a heap.
Critical Hit An attack randomly does extra (often double) damage.
Damage-Increasing Debuff A negative status ailment which in some way increases the damage its subject takes.
Damage Over Time A unit receives a negative status that inflicts a small amount of damage at regular intervals.
Defend Command A command that lets you take less damage, but you don't get to do anything else in the meantime.
Diminishing Returns for Balance As you increase your stats, each increase has less effect, forcing you to balance your stats more.
Disc One Final Dungeon A dungeon that pretends to be the last one in the game, but is nowhere near it.
Disc One Nuke An exploit where a powerful item or technique is achieved early on in the game.
Dude, Where's My Respect? You've saved the world, but durnit, you're not too good to deliver my apples to the baker!
Dungeon Maintenance Game mechanics may be a given to the players, but they're a lot of work for the locals.
Easing Into the Adventure Before you start the adventure properly, you'll be shown cavorting around your tiny home town.
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.
Evolving Attack Your attacks and skills can level up on their own, if you use them enough.
Experience Points You get them by killing enemies (or possibly completing other tasks or objectives), and when you get enough your Character Level or abilities increase.
Exponential Potential As you level up, you get so many spells that gameplay starts getting confusing.
Fairy Battle Something that looks like a normal random encounter, but isn't.
Fake Longevity Things that pad out a game's length so they can brag about having "100 hours of gameplay!"
Fake Ultimate Mook A massive, terrifying monster that is surprisingly easy to defeat.
Fantasy Character Classes The most common character classes in a medieval fantasy setting.
Fetch Quest A subquest unimportant to the actual plot which must be completed to continue.
Fight Woosh Graphic effect that happens when you go into a Random Encounter.
First Town The biggest city in the game, the center of everything.
Flavor Equipment Functional gear that is useless to the player but distributed among NPCs and their dwellings to reinforce an illusion of a living world.
Follow the Plotted Line You somehow always end up where the plot says you should be, no matter how little sense it makes that you should be there.
Gaming Stat Tropes The numbers behind the game.
Gladiator Subquest At some point, you will have to fight in an arena in gladiatorial combat. Either as part of the main quest or as a subquest.
Get on the Boat In an RPG, at some point you will have to cross the ocean to reach another continent.
Global Airship A mode of transport that lets you reach any part of the world map easily.
Good Morning, Crono The main character starts the game in bed, as his mother or friend wakes him up.
Go Wait Outside You are asked to wait outside while something is finished; even if you come back in immediately, it's already done.
Guest Star Party Member Someone who joins your party temporarily as a "guest".
Guns Are Worthless In RPG systems, guns are generally weaker than swords.
Hard-Coded Hostility A faction which cannot be negotiated with and is perpetually at war with every other faction.
Healer Signs On Early One of your first party members will bring healing abilities with them.
Healing Potion An item that restores health.
Health/Damage Asymmetry Playable characters have low health, high damage output, while monsters have high health, low damage output.
Heroes Prefer Swords In an RPG, the main character always uses a sword.
Hit Points A number attributed to your health that indicates how close to death you are.
Impossible Item Drop Enemies drop weapons that they could not plausibly have.
Improbable Power Discrepancy Enemies are given statistics based on how powerful you are expected to be at that point, not how strong that enemy would be based on common sense.
Inevitable Tournament If there is a fighting tournament held somewhere in the game, chances are 99% that you will compete in it.
Inexplicable Treasure Chests Where did they come from? Who put them there? Why does nobody else but you ever open them?
Infinity+1 Sword The absolute most awesome weapon EVER! You must collect twenty thousand bear asses first.
Informed Equipment Characters' equipment won't show up visually on their character model; they may be wearing Diamond Armor, but it looks like the same old Stripperiffic costume to me...
Inn Security Whenever the plot requires a stay at the inn, you will always wake up in the middle of the night for a plot event.
Irrelevant Sidequest Everyone seems to constantly ask you to do sidequests that have absolutely nothing to do with your main objective.
Item Crafting Creating your own items and equipment out of handy-dandy ingredients.
Just Add Water Items can generally be created by just sticking two or three things together and hitting "MIX".
Job System Eastern RPG system whereby classes have distinct equipment and abilities but can be changed at any time.
Joined Your Party You now have 18 party members! Good luck figuring out which ones to use.
Karl Marx Hates Your Guts Where it's impossible to make money because everything always costs the same, so you can never sell at a profit.
Kleptomaniac Hero Looting is a very important aspect of RPG. Everything that's not nailed down is yours to take.
Last Disc Magic In Eastern RPGs, although magic is usually less efficient than melee attacks, a spell or set of spells later in the game will be much better than the rest.
Law of Cartographical Elegance Land masses will never extend across the edge of the (usually square) world map.
Leaked Experience Characters not in the active party will get some percentage of the experience that the active party gets.
Let's Split Up, Gang At some point your party will be split up into two or more independent groups.
Level Grinding You gain statistics and abilities by killing monsters over and over again.
Level Scaling As you level up, so do your enemies.
Level-Up at Intimacy 5 As you build an emotional (or sexual) relationship with an in-game NPC, your character gets physically stronger or gains skills because of it.
More Friends, More Benefits Games where the best result can be gotten by seducing or wooing every single person who seems even remotely interested in you.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards Melee classes are better at lower levels, while wizards are better at higher ones.
Low-Level Advantage Don't level up as much as possible for optimal advantage.
Mana Potion An item that restores spellcasting ability.
Manual Leader, AI Party The player controls one character and the rest of the Player Party are controlled by the game's AI.
Mass Monster Slaughter Sidequest Annoying quest to kill X number of a specific enemy, frequently randomly encountered enemies.
Match Maker Quest A Quest where the player helps an NPC win over their true love.
Mechanically Unusual Class A character class whose mechanics are unusual in comparison to its fellow classes.
Metal Slime A monster that appears and runs away very quickly, is hard to kill, but gives very good reward if you do kill it.
The Minion Master A player character whose role is to create many, many NPC minions.
Modern Day/Sci-Fi RPG Class Equivalents A collection of classes or class-equivalents for non-fantasy RPG-settings.
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.
Nintendo Hard Want to defeat that Bonus Boss? Get ready for a and long brutally hard battle.
No Hero Discount Even though you're out there saving the world and their lives, shopkeepers will still charge you full price.
Nominal Importance Only people that are relevant to the plot or a sidequest will be blessed with names. Everyone else will be nameless or be referred to with generic or descriptive titles.
No Experience Points for Medic Only killing nets a character rewards, healing and defending don't.
Nonstandard Skill Learning Certain skills/perks cannot be acquired by regular means within the game system—only by clearing certain story events.
No Stat Atrophy Once you raise a stat, it will never go down again.
Now, Where Was I Going Again? OK, I saved my game three months ago and I'm picking the game up again... so where was I supposed to go?
NPC Roadblock When NPCs stand in your way and prevent you from getting where you need to go.
One Man Party An RPG where one character can easily become far stronger than the rest of his party.
One Size Fits All Clothing and armour can be worn by anyone, regardless of its source or the wearer's size or gender.
One Stat to Rule Them All Put as many skill points into this stat as you can, because it's much more helpful than any of the others.
Only Shop in Town When a town you pass through only has one shop for buying and selling weapons and armour.
Opening the Sandbox The point in a game where you're finally able to do all the sidequests, go anywhere on the map, and so on.
Optional Party Member Someone who may not join your party, if you don't fulfil the requirements to get them.
Outside-the-Box Tactic Certain enemies are weak to tactics that are bizarre or otherwise not intuitive at first glance.
Overly Long Fighting Animation An animation attack in which the Rule of Cool is applied in excess, making it just too long.
Pamphlet Shelf Whenever you see a bookshelf, there will never be more than one book (and often one line) that you can read.
Parabolic Power Curve A situation where, as your character gains levels, they begin getting less effective in certain tasks.
Party in My Pocket Only the main character is shown walking around; other party members will appear when needed, or even walk out of his body.
Party of Representatives A party of characters that comprise of multiple races/species throughout the game's world.
Perpetually Static Rules in an MMORPG that prevents the game from being changed unduly by the players.
Player Party A set of characters whom you control together throughout the game.
Player Personality Quiz A quiz during character creation that determines your alignment or statistics.
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.
Power Equals Rarity The more powerful an item/Mon/etc. is in a game, the harder it is to find.
Preexisting Encounters Encounters with enemies which you can see coming (as opposed to Random Encounters).
Prestige Class A character can choose to advance from a basic starting class to a more powerful, but more specialised class.
Quest Giver An NPC designated somehow as someone who will give you a sidequest.
Rainbow Pimp Gear When players equip their characters with gear solely based on stat bonuses without consideration to how it will look on them.
Random Encounters Encounters with monsters that occur randomly as the player travels.
Randomly Drops You have a 1 in 128,983,234 chance of getting the Infinity+1 Sword from that Metal Slime. Happy grinding!
Rat Stomp Rats - the ultimate noob enemy.
Relationship Values A usually hidden meter that measures the depth of your relationship to other characters.
Required Party Member Someone who you have to have in your group, usually due to plot reasons.
Resting Recovery Put the characters into a dormant state for a certain time to rapidly recover their HP/MP/etc.
Romance Sidequest A sidequest which has the player character enter a romantic relationship with a party member or NPC.
RPG Elements Where a non-RPG is given some aspects of one (menu battles, equipment, levels).
RPGs Equal Combat The only way to get equipment, skills and levels is to fight things.
Resources Management Gameplay
Role-Playing Game Terms A glossary of common RPG terminology.
Save Point A specific spot where the player is allowed to save their game and restart it should they get a Game Over.
Scratch Damage All successful attacks must inflict some damage, no matter how little.
Sidequest Any part of a video game that is not required to complete the game.
Sidequest Sidestory A sequence of optional sidequests reference/join up to each other to create a seperate story.
The Six Stats The six attributes that help or hinder you in gameplay.
Skill Point Reset Optional reset of a Player Character's skill and ability scores, allowing you to redistribute them.
Skill Scores And Perks Abstract conventions of how playable characters' skills and abilities work in the game.
Sole Entertainment Option In the entire in-game world, there is only one kind of entertainment or only one city where you can find it.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear A party member leaves the party for some part of the game, taking whatever you equipped them with in the process. Hope it wasn't anything you needed!
Sorry I'm Late When you're separated from your party, they will join up with you in the course of one or more random encounters.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil Villains must appear in strictly ascending order by menace.
Spell Levels Each known spell is assigned to a category roughly reflecting its power.
Standard RPG Items We got potions, ethers, remedies, and revives, and dangit if they aren't all the same color!
Standard Status Effects If you're poisoned, blinded, mute, and confused... better take it easy on the magic mushrooms.
Starter Equipment The equipment you're given by default at the begining of the game.
Stat Death You can be killed if certain stats (other than HP) are brought down to zero.
Stat Grinding As you do specific actions, your statistics related to those actions will increase.
Statistically Speaking No matter how high your strength, speed, etc. goes, you still will not be able to, for example, just smash that Insurmountable Waist High Fence to pieces.
Surplus Damage Bonus Damage an enemy more than is strictly necessary to kill it, and you get a reward.
Take Your Time The only time you actually need to hurry is if there's an onscreen timer counting down.
Talk to Everyone It's the only way to get that sneaky clue about the dinosaurs!
A Taste of Power Where you are given a strong character or ability early on, but lose it quickly.
Teaser Equipment Shopkeepers in video games sell powerful equipment, but you won't be able to afford them until later.
There Are No Bedsheets When a character lies down on a bed, they will never get into sheets or blankets, but just lie on top of it.
There Are No Tents You can only rest the night at an inn; you can't just set up camp somewhere.
Thriving Ghost Town Cities and towns are much, much smaller than they should be for sustainability.
Tier System The Rank of your equipment or enemies dictates how powerful they are
Took a Shortcut You spent all that time going through the dungeon and beating all the puzzles, so how the heck did these guys get here first?
Trauma Inn Got killed in combat? Just spend a night at the inn, and you'll be healed up by morning!
Treacherous Quest Giver The person who sends you off to kill the Big Bad is actually manipulating you for their own unsavory ends.
Trespassing Hero Go everywhere you can in an RPG, even into private homes without an invitation!
Turn-Based Combat When the combat mode of the game is turn-based.
Twenty Bear Asses Annoying Fetch Quest where you have to collect a certain number of whatever item, usually dropped by randomly encountered enemies.
Twenty-Four-Hour Armor You wear your armor everywhere. You eat with it, you sleep with it, you take baths in it.
Unconventional Alignment For when the standard good/evil and law/chaos alignment scales just aren't flexible enough.
Underground Monkey Enemy types get recycled from one area to another, with stronger stats.
Universal Poison There is only one type of poison, and generally one type of antidote for it.
Unknown Item Identification Generic-labelled items that must be appraised/identified as a separate step before you can actually use them.
Vendor Trash An item that's useless for anything but selling for cash.
The Very Definitely Final Dungeon The Final Boss lives here; you'll know it when you see it.
Video Game Geography The world map is square and wraps around on both edges. How exactly does that work? Who cares?
Video Game Weapon Stats Common attributes for weapons.
Villain Forgot to Level Grind Where the villain is still at the same level he was at ten hours ago, but the heroes are ten levels higher and therefore beat him handily.
Wallet of Holding Where you can collect millions of gold coins and not have your pants fall down.
Warp Whistle Instantaneously teleport to any location you've been to before.
We Buy Anything Want to sell that rusty suit of armor at a grocery store? They'll take it, no questions asked!
We Cannot Go On Without You You get a Game Over when the main character is killed, regardless of how many of his companions are still alive or whether they can quickly revive him.
Welcome to Corneria NPCs keep saying the same thing over and over again.
You ALL Look Familiar There are only a few NPC models; you'll see it repeated over and over again.
Zip Mode A subtype known as Dash Mode is extremely popular: holding a button will make the party run. May increase the chance of Random Encounters