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Authority Equals Asskicking / Tabletop Games

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  • Dungeons & Dragons, being level-based, produces this given half an opportunity.
    • In the setting of Eberron is a religion named the Silver Flame whose leader, Jaela, is a 11-year-old girl note  Normally she is a 3rd level cleric, but as long as she stays within the walls of her holy city, she is granted the powers of an 18th level cleric.
    • Breland king and local pimp, Boranel, is a 3rd level aristocrat/8th level fighter, outpowering at least 95% of the population of his country. Karnath vampire king with the complex of "I am my grandpa", Kaius, outpowers 99% of the continent at CR 16, based on 11 levels of fighter, a lot of magic items, being a vampire with magic to remove the flaws, and action boost, a almost-exclusive PC trait. Heck, even Queen Aurala from Aundair is fairly tough compared to some people of the army. And she is a pure Aristocrat.
    • Quite apart from that, it was more or less a standard part of 2nd edition D&D to assume that any feudal lord was at least tenth level because the rule mechanics actually said that was the time to find some permanent holding — to become a feudal lord, head of a local church and so on. It was strangely meritocratic.
    • For that matter, it would be easier to cite Dungeons & Dragons authority figures that did not enact this trope. After all, Money is Power and high level anythings will have lots of money. This in turn buys them lots of shiny magic items, allowing them to kick the ass of those that will invariably challenge their authority thereby getting more loaded and stronger... By contrast, the lower level sorts just won't hold up above their station, because their right to rule only extends as far as their fist. Which means they'll either get into a Curb-Stomp Battle with the previous owner or some newcomer will fulfill that role.
    • The Planescape campaign setting occasionally surprised players from other settings when not every authority was extremely high level. Many of the factols were below tenth level, which may be far beyond most mortals but due to typical power creep, many players dismiss this as "low" level. Others, such as Factol Hashkar, are no more powerful than a commoner or two. Some, however, play it straight.
    • One place this is usually subverted is with yugoloths. In many cases, 'loths of lower rankings are actually much stronger than their superiors. Ultroloths are the leaders of the race, but nycoloths are in many ways, tougher than they are (despite being two ranks lower). In fact, the de-facto leader of the race, the Oinoloth, is a position that used to be held by Anthraxus, a unique yugoloth of godlike power, but he was tricked into relinquishing the title by an ultroloth named Mydianchlarus, who wasn't even close to being as powerful. (A 4th edition guidebook, however, claims that Anthraxus, now called Phraxas, challenged Mydianchlarus again for the title and killed him.) In short, among yugoloths, the most important trait for a leader is the ability to manipulate others, not raw power.
    • And Asskicking Equals Authority usually stands somewhere nearby. As one article of Bazaar of the Bizarre in April Dragon Magazine put it:
      Also available are collector's editions of Bargle's best-selling self-help books. Social Advancement Through the Selective Use of Charm and Disintegrate Spells, [...]
  • In GURPS Goblins, something like this is in place as a game mechanic: according to the rules which govern the late Georgian setting, differences in social status affect combat rolls, to reflect divine favoritism and the natural order of things.
  • In d20 Modern, a character's rank is usually tied to the character's level. Taken to bizarre extremes in some d20 products. In the Stargate SG-1 game, for example, Dr. Frasier can out-fight most of the base S Fs, because she is a high-level medic.
  • Legend of the Five Rings:
    • In the pseudo-Japanese fantasy setting of Rokugan, for over a thousand years the Imperial dynasty has ruled by divine mandate. And it was not the Emperor's job to be the greatest fighter, but instead to be the wise ruler and source of all honor and authority. And even changes in the ruling dynasty have been only by the will of and with the blessing of the gods, not by either war or combat or anything else. At least, not until now, where the game line has suddenly decided to choose the next Imperial dynasty by having the gods come down bodily just as the chief villain of the setting has finally won and utterly nullify his victory by declaring the Mortal Kombat tournament.
    • And then they subvert the entire point by declaring the winner to be an Empress who couldn't cut her way out of a balsa wood box with a masterwork katana, because she showed "proper spirit". Well goodness, if that was all it took, why hold a tournament in the first place?
  • Occasionally pops in Exalted.
    • In general, the setting follows the normal logic with leaders indeed focusing on leadership skills, not fighting and having soldiers and bodyguards for that (although still requiring some skills to survive the assassination attempts). In case of Exalted leading mortal societies, be it openly or covertly, they are vastly more powerful than people around them, but that is a consequence of being the one with superpowers, not of authority.
    • Played straight with the spiritual world: gods grown in power with the amount of worship they receive, and it also helps with growing in official station in the Celestial Bureaucracy (although political skills are also necessary). Played straight with the top of the hierarchy: the leader of all gods, the Unconquered Sun, is literally invincible, and his chosen weapon deals infinite damage to anyone in the world. His fellow Incarnae are leaders of their own domains and are similarly powerful. For other gods, they are unassailable both physically and politically.
    • Among the Exalted, the Solars were made to be the best at everything, and were given the right to rule the world, with the Lunars and Sidereals below them and the weaker but far more numerous Dragon-Blooded below them. Thus, Solars in general had both the asskicking and actual leadership skills, but individual ones have been specialising in their areas. In general among the Exalted, the older ones have both asskicking and other skills, honed across potentially millennia.
    • In the Scarlet Empire, the Empress packed both immense political acumen and the raw power of both herself as an Elder Exalt and the Sword of Creation. Now that she is vanished, the contenders for the throne realise that while straight military may land somebody on the throne, it is not enough to keep them there.
    • Mostly averted in Autochthonia. Although the world of Autochthon has it's own Exalted, who are champions of the people, their superiors and the leaders of any given city or nation are mortal. Still, the cities they live in, though subservient to these mortal leaders, are themselves giant Exalted capable of magically empowering the people inside them.
  • BattleTech uses this trope in a surprisingly restrained way. As the Inner Sphere is the feudal system IN SPACE!, most Great House leaders are accomplished Mech Warriors. Some aren't, being better at diplomacy and/or magnificent bastardry, but your average Prince, Archon or Coordinator is generally among the most effective MechWarriors out there. The restraint comes from the fact that 1) aforementioned leaders all get the best of training, equipment and backup, and 2) there are plenty of non-royalty Inner Sphere MechWarriors who would easily defeat anyone short of a Katrina Steiner, Ian Davion or Takashi Kurita in single combat. And that's not even considering the Clans.
  • The Blob Overlord card in Star Realms. When used, it not only activates the faction abilities of a card, but the Overlord helps add more damage.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000:
    • Built into the system in the both universes — higher-ranking units are always tougher than their basic counterparts, with the Emperor Karl Franz being one of the most nasty heroes in the Warhammer universe. With most armies in either game, this is justified with better training, magic or Applied Phlebotinum, but in other cases — like the regular-human Imperial Guard or Empire armies — it's really hard to justify why army officers are better shots than the armies' dedicated marksmen or special ops, and able to absorb more damage than Ork Nobs or Powered Armor-wearing Space Marines.
    • Possibly the Emperor of this trope is the God Emperor of Mankind, who may or may not be a Physical God and defeated the vessal of all FOUR of the Chaos Gods. Unfortunately, he was mortally wounded and put on a permanent life support system called the Golden Throne, but still literally keeps the Imperium together by maintaining the Astronomican with his own power (and many pskyer sacrifices), a psychic beacon which allows faster than lightspeed travel - without which, the Imperium's worlds would fall into confusion and be easy pickings by a tenacious enough invader (or many other invaders...) with no way to work together. Oh, and the Golden Throne produces a metabolism product which is used to make an Anti-Magic grenade called the Psyk-out grenade. Yes, you heard that right, The Emperor's shit kills psykers.
    • Entirely Justified with the Space Marines, as their entire background is that of Knights Templar in Space. Logistics are handled by Techmarines, Intelligence by Librarians, and Morale by Chaplains. The only thing Captains do is Leadership, and when you're an eight foot tall Super Soldier Space Marine asskicking is about the only form of authority you respect. Tactical and Strategic skill is secondary, but present in the most successful.
    • It could be just about justified by the fact that high-ranking Imperial officials do have access to advanced biological and technological upgrades (not of the same order as the Space Marines, but still) and they will have taken part in many campaigns to achieve their rank. Considering the extreme danger of the Warhammer 40,000 battlefields, a soldier who survives long enough to attain high rank probably accrues a lot of combat skills, and a sheer, stubborn tenacity to survive.
    • Orks:
      • Ork hierarchy is literally sorted by size, so it's completely sensible for Da Warboss to be the biggest murder machine on the battlefield for that army. Some relatively philosophical Orks (and the bar is very low here) have reflected on how unclear the human chain-of-command is, because we're "all 'bout da same size."
      • Works both ways for Orks: since their culture (for lack of a better word) and chain of command is based on liberal ass-kickings, the physically strongest Orks tend to lead the rest. For a given value of "lead", of course. More like prod them in a general direction. However, because Ork beliefs tend to kick the normal laws of physics in the jollies and reshape them in proper Orky ways, and the belief that "da boss is da strongest an' da meanest" is held by every single Ork in the warband (after all, if he wasn't, he wouldn't be da boss, QED), a high ranking Ork actually becomes taller and stronger over time because they is da boss.
      • This is actually built into the biology of the Orks: The more asskicking the Ork does, the more praise he gets from other Orks. The more praise he gets, the more he physically grows (akin to puberty, but happening every time he kicks ass), which in turn leads to more asskicking. So Orks gain Authority by Asskicking, and Asskicking by Authority. Go figure.
    • Skaven and Ogre hierarchy is determined solely by your ability to kill the former guy to have held the position. In the Skaven's case you have to be sneaky enough to do so, and you are respected (which means feared in Skaven tongue) for being sneaky. Ogres just bash the hell out of each other. And since food is an important resource in both societies, leaders (who have access to better food and more nourishment) are in better physical health than their underlings. In addition, the positions in the Council of 13 can only be attained by first touching a radioactive stone and survive, then defeat the current placeholder. None of the current Council of 13 has been defeated in 200 years (the average skaven lifespan is 20 years).
    • Similarly, a Dark Elf who holds any title of authority for long will have to be both cunning and strong, to fend off attempts at mutiny or assassination.
    • Chaos of all kinds plays this straight because of their patron gods; the more you do, the more the gods pay attention to you. The more attention you accrue, the more mutations (gifts) you get. These gifts are directly proportional to how much asskicking said champion is capable of. Daemons plays it straight in a different way; The Chaos Gods themselves are implied to be no different than their Daemon servants; they are simply the most powerful of their kind (and by a huge margin no less). Skarbrand's attempt at invoking Asskicking Equals Authority on Khorne (due to Tzeentchian trickery) is exactly why he's the only bloodthirster unable to fly.
    • There was a Slaneeshi cultist who thought rather highly of herself, to the tune of "I will summon a Greater Daemon, allow it to possess my body, and then drain it through sheer willpower". You don't need to be versed in the lore concerning relative power levels of humans and daemons to know this is a exactly as bad an idea as it sounds, but somehow she did it. Not content with that, she actually did it again, twice, until Slaanesh showed up in person and granted her daemonhood as the Thrice-Possessed. The three Greater Daemons were left where they were as punishment for being defeated by a human.
  • Dragon Dice:
    • The game relies on this trope in that the strongest standard infantry dice in a given race are the largest, have the most health, have more capability in melee/ranged combat/maneuvering/magic than lesser troops, and have special abilities not available to lesser troops - they are also the various leaders of their factions.
    • Somewhat averted in that the largest and generally most powerful dice in each faction represent monsters that are allied with that faction or under their control, rather than their leaders, though they are also not strictly members of the species that the race represents.
  • Justified for the upper management of Pentex in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Not only is it largely populated by supernaturals, but anyone — be they human, vampire, fomor, or Black Spiral Dancer — who can not only survive but thrive in a ruthless, physically and spiritually toxic environment where assassination by werewolves is a fact of life is going to be a bit more tough than your standard manager.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Gravekeeper's Visionary, the first leader of the Gravekeepers. He even powers up when his fellow Gravekeepers are in the Graveyard.
    • Also his successor, Gravekeeper's Oracle, who even taps into the power of the Egyptian God Cards, as indicated by his artwork and effects.
    • Caius the Shadow Monarch is implied to be the leader of the Monarchs (and he's based on Julius Caesar). Though his stats are equal to the other seven, he has probably the most powerful effect, being able to banish any card and deal damage if it was a Dark Monster.
    • Dark World plays with this. Brron, the Mad King, isn't the ace, but he is a pretty tough card with 1800 ATK (which is fitting, since he's implied to be a figurehead). Goldd and Sillva are warlords, and they're much stronger, and Reign-Beaux, the Overlord, is the second strongest Dark World card. (The strongest is Physical God Grapha, and even then, it's a close match.)
  • The board game Stratego carries this to an extreme. With combat results entirely dependent on the types of units involved, the Marshal, having rank 1, can and likely will cut a swath through almost any other type of piece it might encounter.