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Misused: Elemental Rock Paper Scissors

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Deadlock Clock: Sep 4th 2018 at 11:59:00 PM
Jun 7th 2018 at 12:58:20 PM

The trope name Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors suggests a group of elements that an advantage and disadvantage in such a way as it forms into a cycle (for example, three elements forming a rock-paper-scissors relationship).

However, many examples shown in the article do not show any form of cycle (see my wiki-checks below). The Laconic does not describe any Rock-Paper-Scissors relationship between a set of elements. Neither does the main description. Though it shows the eastern elemental system and describe it elemental relationship as cyclic, it also shows the western system before it and that their elemental relations are not in a cycle.

My proposal is to rename this trope to remove "Rock-Paper-Scissors" from the title. For now, I'm thinking the new name to be "Elemental Effectiveness", but I'm open for other suggestions.


Anime and Manga:

Tally: 11 examples, only 3 of them showing an elemental cycle.
  • Marvel Comics: generally describes an enemies having elemental power to be exploited
    • Spider-Man: describes elemental weaknesses
    • X-Men: describe an elemental effectiveness
    • Incredible Hulk: described a character exploring his opponents' elemental powers
  • Green Lantern: Described relationships between elements and ring colors, but no cycle present.
Tally: 5 examples. None of the show any elemental cycle.
Fan Works: Tally: 2 examples, none showing a cycle.
  • Kaze no Stigma: Only described the elements' quirks.
  • Xanth: Shows three elemental cycle.
  • Codex Alera: Shows one element opposing another.
  • Elemental Masters: Shows one element opposing another.
  • Troubled Waters: Described elements and their traits. Uses Wu Xing as the template, but weaknesses might only by metaphorical.
  • The Wheel of Time: Shows elements and how they work. No effectiveness shown.
  • The Girl from the Well: Based on Wu Xing, 5-elemental cycle is stated.
  • Journey to Chaos: Elemental effectiveness does not form into a cycle.
  • The Bear, The Fire, and The Snow: 4-elemental cycle present.
Tally: 9 examples, 4 of them have a cycle.
  • Endurance: Cycle of 3 elements is described.
Tally: 1 example which has a cycle.
  • Ammo: Shows 2 sets of Mutual Disadvantages
  • Feng Shui: Compares previous example
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Dungeon Dice Monsters: Shows few cases of cycles formed from elements, though two of them are not made up of Elemental Powers
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Shows 1 case of elemental cycle.
  • Rolemaster: Only lists elements
  • Magic: The Gathering: Only lists elements and what they do
  • ''Master of Magic: Compares previous example
  • Exalted: A cycle is present, but how they affect attacks is played with
  • Illuminati!: Not even correct use.
  • HERO System: No but yes in the form of special effects, but they do not form a cycle.
  • Scion: Shows elemental relations, but no cycle present.
Tally: 11 examples, 3 of them having cases of elemental cycles
  • BIONICLE: Barely any elemental relationships.
  • Battle Beasts: Has 3-elemental cycle.
  • Fistful of Aliens: Has 3-elemental cycle.
  • GoGo's Crazy Bones: Lists elements. No relationship between any of them explained.
  • Star Monsters: No elemental relations.
Tally: 5 examples, 2 of them have cycles.
Video Games: Tally: 83 examples, 39 of them showing cycles.
  • Whats Shakin: Only describes element's effectiveness against one.
  • Triquetra Cats: Only shows which characters use which elements
  • Adventurers!: Not even used correctly.
  • Slightly Damned: No context beyond a broken link.
  • Bob and George: Only shows one element about to be effective to another.
Tally: 5 examples, none showing any cycle.
Web Originals:
  • RPS 101: Described each element having an advantage against one and weak to another, but no cycle is present.
  • Demon Thesis: Described elemental effects only.
Tally: 2 examples, none showing any cycle.
Western Animation Tally: 3 examples, none showing any cycle.
Final Tally: 137 examples, 52 of them shown elemental cycles

edited 10th Jun '18 5:06:07 AM by Kindle4Light

crazysamaritan Could we just... not have Death anymore? from Lupin III
Could we just... not have Death anymore?
Jun 7th 2018 at 3:56:10 PM

Discussion from 2+ years ago.

I support a Super-Trope for Elemental Advantage (or whatever the name is for "certain elements/tactics have an advantage against other elements/tactics, but don't create a closed loop").

Link to TRS threads in project mode here.
Jun 7th 2018 at 6:49:32 PM

This has come up before and I fully support thing being soley about the Cycle of Elements that should Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors.

A super trope covering Elemental Strengths And Weaknesses would be great. Starting with the logical ones like Light > Dark or occasional Dark < Light, Fire > Nature.

Subtropes to that being

edited 7th Jun '18 7:06:28 PM by Memers

Jun 8th 2018 at 1:21:34 AM

I don't think we need any more tropes when the following can be applied with Elemental Powers:

edited 8th Jun '18 2:00:00 AM by Kindle4Light

Jun 8th 2018 at 5:21:32 AM

Mutual Disadvantage is light years too broad for something that is really specific like this. It would be a subtrope or both this and that.

I only used No-Sell cause we tend to use that here and that is what happens the element does 0 damage some games label them as ‘Immune’ but that comes into issues with status effects, Persona uses ‘Null’ or ‘Null Element’ FFX uses Null as well.

Achilles Heel Elemental Weakness would be a subtrope of this and OKO.

I don’t like putting Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors with tactical, they tend to get used differently especially in the same game. It gets really iffy when they try to combine the two like physical fire attacks are not effective vs magical ice stuff and such. Keep em separate imo and if they cross at points in some examples then explain it.

edited 8th Jun '18 5:27:44 AM by Memers

crazysamaritan Could we just... not have Death anymore? from Lupin III
Could we just... not have Death anymore?
Jun 8th 2018 at 7:09:38 AM

Both Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors and Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors say the two have a sub/super relationship.

If it isn't an example of Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, then it isn't an example of Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors. The definition must be changed to change that relationship.

Link to TRS threads in project mode here.
Jun 9th 2018 at 4:06:45 AM

They are more counterparts to each other. Some use one and not the other, IE most RP Gs typically don’t touch tactical but love Elemental and modern times or future strategy and FPS games don’t tend to use Elemental but love tactical. Some they are completely intertwined or contained in each other.

edited 9th Jun '18 4:10:47 AM by Memers

AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Jun 9th 2018 at 12:55:28 PM

"Tactical" does not exclude magical elements. It very much includes it, since it's not any different than the weapon types beating each other you seen in strategy games.

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Jun 9th 2018 at 1:56:05 PM

I always sort of felt this trope was a The Same But More Specific version of Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors. If anything, this should be a sub heading under that trope.

edited 9th Jun '18 2:58:29 PM by MegaJ

Jun 9th 2018 at 2:14:22 PM

Another problem with seperating Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors from Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: as I checked through the examples, there are some case elements that I question some of their set counts as Elemental Powers. For example, Mega Man Battle Network from the video games section has Sword>Wind>Targeting>Breaking. Wind is an elemental power, but sword, targeting and breaking sounds like the whole line should be put into tactical instead.

Maybe the three are Bizarro Elements, but what line do we draw before we have a game whole list of elements all contain something bizzare. There are already examples of those case like GrimGrimoire having Glamour → Necromancy → Sorcery → Alchemy → Glamour.

Jun 9th 2018 at 3:46:25 PM

IIRC in Japanese its called Kamaitachi aka Razor Wind, its not a magic element at all. Grim Grimoire is schools of magic not elements thus tactical.

Non Standard Elements like Pokemon's Steel, Dragon, Fairy or Persona 5's Nuke are still treated as elements in the games. Thats the big thing. The mechanics are wholly separated from Tactical and games can use both at the same time and very rarely do they intertwine, they are like a circle within a point of another circle.

In Pokemon every move is an element and either physical or special (magic) type, The elements are Elemental RPS the types would be Tactical RPS if they formed a complete circle.

edited 9th Jun '18 3:55:40 PM by Memers

Jun 9th 2018 at 4:07:09 PM

[up]So they (pokemon's types) don't need to form into a cycle to be elemental rps?

edited 9th Jun '18 4:07:32 PM by Kindle4Light

MagBas Mag Bas from In my house
Jun 9th 2018 at 7:35:50 PM

[up][up]Do the Pokemon games mention that each different type is considered an element?

edited 9th Jun '18 10:24:28 PM by MagBas

Jun 10th 2018 at 12:52:01 AM

[up][up] They do, The Pokemon attacks do do that in almost all cases, the unique ones are notable and they have added types to fill them out over time.

Fire > Water > Grass > Fire is the original famous one from Pokemon. They have since added the Dark element in Gen II to complete the missing circle that wasnt working in Gen I (Dark > Fighting > Psychic > Dark) and Fairy to close out other incomplete ones.

That is how they are used. Now if Pokemon divided its attack types as 'Physical Special Ranged' and made it to a loop instead of just Physical and Special with set defense stats for each then it would also be Tactical RPS.

Suikoden's large battle system is Tactical RPS, Bow counters casting Magic, Magic counters Attacking, Attacking counters Bows. When you choose magic you choose the spells. Dokapon Kingdom also does something similar.

edited 10th Jun '18 12:59:57 AM by Memers

Jun 10th 2018 at 11:03:19 AM

After going through the checks, I think there are enough examples for Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors to be in its own page, while I also supporting a super trope about Elemental Powers having effectiveness towards one another.

I have read through Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors and Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors and observe another difference: while the former influence the damage taken from one element to another, it's not always the case for the later. Sometimes it's higher damage, other times it's priority. I think saw an example in Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors where it's the mechanics of a class that makes it advantageous to another (see Team Fortress 2 in Other Video Game examples.) Are there any other differentiation between Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors and Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors.

Finally, I would like to rename Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors as Elemental Cycle as not all examples are in a cycle of 3, plus it sounds like a snowclone to its tactical counterpart. That said, it doesn't look like that the trope name is problematic in that people think it has to be exactly three.

Jun 11th 2018 at 6:22:15 AM

I’m up for renaming but not Elemental Cycle, it sounds like something seasonal. I honestly can’t thing of a better name than the current.

Fire attacks beat Plant/Grass/Life Elemental, Plant/Grass/Life attacks beat Water Elemental, Water attacks beat Fire Elemental... it is Rock Paper Scissors.

Where it gets complex is when say a Grass type has Fire element attacks or you start getting multiple elements in a single attack and/or defense like say Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII’s Elementa which is all 4 common elements in 1 attack. A complexity that Tactical RPS can’t have.

edited 11th Jun '18 7:43:35 AM by Memers

Jun 12th 2018 at 10:27:04 AM

[up]I see. For now, without anyone else's input, I'll put renaming Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors on hold for now and will start this thread again once it's necessary. Another alternative name I just thought up is Elemental Wheel. How does it sound btw?

Currently, what needs to be done is to create its Super-Trope dedicated to elements' affinity towards one another. Are there enough votes for it?

crazysamaritan Could we just... not have Death anymore? from Lupin III
Could we just... not have Death anymore?
Jun 12th 2018 at 1:57:20 PM

Fire attacks beat Plant/Grass/Life Elemental, Plant/Grass/Life attacks beat Water Elemental, Water attacks beat Fire Elemental... it is Rock Paper Scissors.
Not always. Steel beats Ice, Ice beats Flying, but Flying doesn't beat Steel. In fact, Flying isn't very effective against Steel Pokémon.

That's why a Super-Trope about elemental advantages is needed.

A complexity that Tactical RPS can’t have.
By definition, an example of Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors is also an example of Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors. For a non-elemental version of "character uses multiple attack types", see Combos.

Link to TRS threads in project mode here.
Jun 13th 2018 at 3:14:44 AM

[up] Agreed on the first point. While they have tried to get the RPS going on as many as they can there are some notable exceptions hence this whole thing.

And not really, those with combos like that are way different from what tactical RPS is.

For fighting games its tactical RPS is

Defending blocks attacks
Grappling cuts through defending
Attacking interrupts grappling
Thats all tactical RPS is for fighting games.

Stratgey games its typically

Ranged units defeat fast units
Fast units defeat siege units
Siege units defeat ranged unit

Class based RP Gs

Fighter beat Thieves
Thieves beat Mages
Mage beats Fighter

Thats all Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors is.

WaterBlap Blapper of Water Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Blapper of Water
Jun 15th 2018 at 9:02:15 AM

I'm not sure I follow the logic that says this trope needs to be three elements to a loop. Tropes Are Flexible, so shouldn't this include a loop of any size (so long as it's a loop)? The Pokemon example would then go more like this:

  • Steel beats Ice
  • Ice beats Flying
  • Flying beats Fighting
  • Fighting beats Steel

I'm only using Pokemon as a hypothetical, and I'm doing that just because the Normal type isn't strong against any other type, making it an imperfect loop (so it isn't a perfect example, is all I'm saying).

[witty saying]
Fighteer Geronimo! from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Jun 15th 2018 at 9:15:49 AM

Yes, any sort of looping or cyclical strength and weakness cycle would count as an example. The problem here is that, as noted, this isn't really distinct from Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors except that it involves Elemental Powers. This means it's a case of The Same But More Specific and only merits being a distinct trope if it serves a distinct narrative or gameplay purpose.

We have this sort of problem with a lot of the Competitive Balance tropes: people start getting into excruciating levels of detail over something that, in the end, is a game mechanic more often than it is a narrative concept.

edited 15th Jun '18 9:20:26 AM by Fighteer

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Jun 15th 2018 at 9:16:13 AM

You could do an Elemental Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock sure. Naruto for example has a 5 element circle 'Fire→Wind→Lightning→Earth→Water→Fire'

Most use 3 for simplicity's sake and do a lot of them.

[up] It very much is different and is a sister trope IMO, it is not just more specific. There are a lot of different qualities to elemental weaknesses in general and how they are used in weaknesses and cycles than what is covered by the scope tactical RPS. To include them it would monopolize the trope and most tactical RPS examples are dramatically different, not to mention how Tactical RPS and Elemental RPS interact or dont interact in various games and are treated as entirely different mechanics.

edited 15th Jun '18 9:39:44 AM by Memers

AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Jun 16th 2018 at 10:44:59 PM

Common variations that are clearly defined and distinct work well as subtropes.

In this case, what's "elemental" can be discussed, since sometimes things like weapon types are used interchangeably.

In my understanding it's also always a statistical advantage rather than a mechanical advantage (you get an attack power/defence bonus rather than some things just work mechanically better against some things).

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Jun 16th 2018 at 11:52:17 PM

There are some rare examples of hitting a weakness applying a status effect, but yes Elemental Weaknesses are almost always just 1.5x or 2.0x damage. The varying types of Tactical are more Move Counter Move for fighting games or a Strength Speed Ranged counter balance for RPG classes and strategy games.

... actually I would split Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors into 2 tropes and have them sister tropes to Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors.

  • Move Counter Move Rock Paper Scissors, mostly in fighting games where its more attack, defend, counter or punch < block < grab. Its more literal Rock–Paper–Scissors than the others.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, class and unit balances are based around Strength Speed Ranged and counter each other naturally strength guy overpowers speed but cant reach ranged and speed guy easily catches up to the ranged guy. Unit and Class Composition are important to be balanced in the circle of what has the advantage over what.

Jun 21st 2018 at 1:02:09 PM

So conclusively, do we fix this trope's misuse by giving it a super trope, or do we still wait for other people's opinions?

Total posts: 32

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