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Serial Escalation / Tabletop Games

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Note: have in mind these should refer to plot or theme elements. For Gameplay mechanics see Power Creep.

  • Warhammer 40,000 asks you a few simple questions: How much worse can we make this galaxy? How many atrocities can we get the Imperium to commit today? How many more Imperial Guardsman can we kill in this battle? How much more hopeless can the wars against the Tyranids and Necrons become? What further madness can spew from the Eye of Terror this week? And most importantly of all... how much Dakka can we fit into one vehicle?
    • Then there's Wazdakka Gutzmek, an Ork Big Mek whose lifelong ambition is to built the most awesomest bike in the 'ooniverse. How awesome? Well, he used it to ram into the cockpit of a Titan and kill the people inside. For his next trick he'll try fitting it with a fully functional warp-drive, so that he can ride from one side of the galaxy to the other (and shoot anything that gets in the way)!
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    • His bike has so many flashy gubbinz that it's one looted antigrav system from being a jetbike, has no less than three large guns that can all be fired at once (going by the wording in his entry), and the man himself has been depicted in art with a chainsaw claw.
    • How much bigger of a threat can Ciaphas Cain, Hero Of The Imperium defeat by accident? How uncertain can his heroism/dirty cowardice be? How many times can Jurgen save the day without making it into the histories? How much more Subtext can we pile in?
    • Even on the mundane note, a boltgun (standard small arms) weighs about 7.5 kilograms and fires .75 caliber rounds. That's right, it weighs twice as much as a modern M16, has three times the barrel diameter, and fires armor piercing high-explosive rockets, and manages to have a 50% larger standard magazine to boot. It is amazing what players take in stride.
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    • The swords in this universe run on combustion engines, the tanks (designed by superhuman werewolf space vikings) are powered by hydrocarbon-fission-fusion cells, and the space ships are powered by SLAVE LABOR.
  • When played right, Exalted is basically the Do It Yourself version of Serial Escalation.
  • Scion starts at 11 and the books actively encourage the players and Storyteller to see how far they can push the meter up.
  • Part of the Dungeons & Dragons community enjoys turning a Game-Breaker Up to Eleven. Some call us "Munchkins", but we prefer "theoretical optimisation". Notable exploits include turning Locate City into a tactical nuke (which sadly does not work RAW), implanting your mind into a bizarre creature with an impossible parentage in order to make over one million thrown knife attacks in a single round, and the infamous Pun-Pun, the level 1 Divine Kobold Paladin with arbitrarily high stats and all abilities in existence useable at will.
    • The /tg/ board on 4chan has been seen discussing how to properly min-max Surtr. As in, the Norse fire giant destroying the world. That Surtr. Min-Maxing him.
    • The 3rd Edition Epic Level Handbook explicitly encouraged the Dungeonmaster to do this to the players with ridiculous and unfair challenges on the grounds that the players will have the resources to deal with them. How far can the Dwarven Defender swim through lava?
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  • Paranoia does this for Black Comedy. The damage levels go up to "disintegrated," the fall chart goes up to "orbital," and the deaths go up to "six per player."
  • Spirit of the Century lets player characters pull off some ridiculous stunts to rise to the challenge, so long as you're willing to be creative and spend a fair number of Fate Points. Oh, and any game that is willing to include build-it-yourself gadgets and the potential to fight talking gorillas atop a Zeppelin is guaranteed to go Up to Eleven.
  • Don't Rest Your Head has the same mechanic that is slowly wearing you down and making you more powerful at the same time, pretty much guaranteeing you'll push a little further next time. By the late game (which can sneak up on you surprisingly quick) you're more powerful than the (possible) incarnation of Death. And, using the madness powers, by this point you have power that's so over the top you could call down the four Horsemen, or an army of ninjas, or make enough ants crawl out of your skin to consume the city. It gets pretty intense when you're creative.
  • FATAL. At any given point, you will be unable to believe it could possibly get any more complicated, poorly worded, and deeply broken in its attitude towards sexuality. And then you will turn the page and find a dildo that makes you give birth to another dildo. Brain Bleach may be necessary.
  • Mekton doesn't usually indulge in it (the system is somewhat inclined towards the Real Robot rather than Super Robot series), but it does have Excessive Scale. For when you need to build Unicron, Primus, the Death Star, or the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
  • Cards Against Humanity applies this to Black Is Bigger in Bed. The base game has "A big, black dick." The Red Box Expansion Pack has "A bigger, blacker dick." The Bigger, Blacker Box has the holofoil "The biggest, blackest dick." hidden in the lid and "A dick so big and black that it is a problematic stereotype." similarly hidden under the middle row of the redesigned BBB. Finally, the note  "Please do not buy this product." box comes with "The even biggest, blackerest dick".