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Ambiguous Name: Elemental Rock Paper Scissors

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WarJay77 Daily reminder to drink water. from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Daily reminder to drink water.
Sep 11th 2019 at 10:39:39 AM

I still say Pokemon is a lot more varied than it just being one big Rock-Paper-Scissors situation, which is why I'm uncomfortable with the very idea of a trope for a literal Rock-Paper-Scissors-esque combat system. Even if we try and lay it out like one massive cycle, it gets complicating and confusing when it comes to Normal and Dragon- Normal isn't strong against anything, Dragon is only strong against itself. They break the cycle, and so there is no cycle, just a bunch of smaller ones in a much more complicated cycle.

Female troper who likes Pokemon, ARGs, Writing, and more. / Links: Sandbox.Zero Context Example Thread - Sandbox.Roleplay Cleanup Thread
Sep 11th 2019 at 12:42:03 PM

Elements that break the rules of the game like Dragon are potentially a trope in of itself.

If we do keep them then this needs a rename and removal from being a subtrope of Tactical RPS because that is literally just RPS like mechanics and that is very much a trope in of itself. (having seen so much of that in gaming.)

EDIT: Non-Elemental is a thing, which is basically that.

Edited by Memers on Sep 11th 2019 at 12:45:58 PM

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Sep 11th 2019 at 1:34:19 PM

The question I have is if a cycle greater than 3 ala Naruto fits as the super trope to Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors, Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors does NOT cover it.

Wait, why would "Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors" not cover it? I don't think that a cycle need have exactly three elements to fit. That seems awfully limiting to me, for no particularly good reason that I perceive.

I still say Pokemon is a lot more varied than it just being one big Rock-Paper-Scissors situation, which is why I'm uncomfortable with the very idea of a trope for a literal Rock-Paper-Scissors-esque combat system.

I'm inclined to think that more-complex systems can fit happily enough under the current trope, as long as we allow some flexibility.

For example, I would say that the following would be covered by the current tropes (both "Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors", and, by extension, its super-trope "Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors":

Lightning beats Water; Water beats Fire; Fire beats Earth; Earth beats Lightning.

Earth beats Metal; Metal beats Gem; Gem beats Earth.
Magic beats Gem.

There we have two connected cycles, one with four elements, one with three, plus one "linked list"; that, to my mind, is an "Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors" game. As I see it, it's still "Rock-Paper-Scissors" because it features elements that have an "X beats Y" relationship.

That said, if people do find the specifics of "Rock-Paper-Scissors" compelling in thinking about what these tropes mean, then perhaps it would be a good idea to just rename "Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors" (and along with it, "Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors"). That way they can carry the concept without the baggage of a specific game.

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
WarJay77 Daily reminder to drink water. from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Daily reminder to drink water.
Sep 11th 2019 at 1:38:30 PM

Yes. I was mostly arguing that a literal "rock-paper-scissors" system is much too simple for what actually happens in these sort of games. The more inclusive the better.

Female troper who likes Pokemon, ARGs, Writing, and more. / Links: Sandbox.Zero Context Example Thread - Sandbox.Roleplay Cleanup Thread
Sep 11th 2019 at 2:47:39 PM

[up][up] Read Tactical RPS, it does NOT cover it. Even the examples are divided into RPS.

Reading the examples list and there are like 5 in the other section that are not a triangle.

And I agree that it shouldn't, a RPS is a simplistic balancing style that doesn't get as complex as Non Linear Balancing of games like Starcraft and such. They are keeping it simple and not confusing.

/tangent BTW that examples list needs some SERIOUS work. Those first 3 folders need some actual examples, I do agree that the Sword > Axe > Spear > Sword and Melee > Range > Magic > Melee are common enough to have their own sections though.

Edited by Memers on Sep 11th 2019 at 2:53:29 AM

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Sep 11th 2019 at 4:28:58 PM

[up] I did read it, and just went back for another look. While it uses some language that suggests that it's intended for specifically three parts, it also seems to leave things open for other numbers, and the description never explicitly restricts the tropes to three parts.

For example, the first sentence speaks of "several distinct classes" (emphasis mine). Furthermore, the paragraph after the "or in <genre>" lists describes situations in which combat units have variations that affect where they stand. For example, it gives a scenario in which tanks are strong against infantry in general, but weak against infantry with rockets, and in which tanks with machine-guns are be weak against tanks with rockets. To my mind, this strongly suggests that it's not intended to be strictly limited to something just like actual "Rock-Paper-Scissors".

The fact that the examples section seems to so limit it might be something to fix, not an indication that the trope is to be limited.

Edited by ArsThaumaturgis on Sep 11th 2019 at 1:29:59 PM

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
Sep 11th 2019 at 5:09:45 PM

But again its a very simplistic way of balancing things. As opposed to more complex balancing where you need spreadsheets and notes just to figure out what is what.

Its so simple that some games like Dynasty Warriors 8 put up a symbol over an enemy commander's head if they are using a weapon that is strong, weak or neutral and use a pattern of "Heaven (blue) > Earth (green) > Man (red) > Heaven" and you can switch between 1 of 2 weapons equipped at the start of the battle. That is literally it, thats all you need to memorize to play the game.

Some argue that just RPS is too simple of a system for a lot of game, 'The Weapon Triangle', as it is called in Fire Emblem, is a rather large criticism of said games. The big criticism of early RTS games like Age of Empires as well, which when one that did something more complex THAT game exploded and pushed all the others out of business... literally.

Edited by Memers on Sep 11th 2019 at 5:12:31 AM

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Sep 11th 2019 at 5:28:33 PM

Even if we take it as given that a "Rock-Paper-Scissors" mechanic is an overly-simplistic one—I'm not sure that I agree, but that's besides the point—that doesn't mean that it isn't a trope (regardless of the number of elements/parts). After all, we have an entire index dedicated to bad writing!

And as I think that someone else pointed out, a more-complex "Rock-Paper-Scissors" system—one with cycles connecting to other cycles, etc.—might well give a player enough to think about.

Indeed, I think that one of the trope pages even says something similar, noting that things like multiple conflicting cycles (e.g. a cycle for attack effectiveness and a different cycle for attack damage) can increase the complexity of such a system.

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
Sep 11th 2019 at 8:00:27 PM

Let's keep Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors out of this discussion for now. IMO that trope needs a TRS as well. Let's just focus on solely Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors right now. We can redefine the tropes' relationship to TRPS after all else is done.

So, to summarize, here are the points of the discussion:

  • Create an Elemental Strengths And Weaknesses supertrope. I think everyone agrees with this.
  • If necessary, create another trope for a system where a unit's elemental resistances is arbitrarily decided (Shin Megami Tensei style of elemental weaknesses, so to speak).
  • If necessary, rename Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors to something else. I suggest Elemental Interactions.
  • Should there be further subtropes of ERPS? I don't think so, but others may.
    • Cyclical Elements: All the interactions of the elements form a cycle e.g. Fire > Wood > Earth > Lightning > Water > Fire
    • Literal Elemental RPS: There are exactly three elements, and they behave in a circular manner e.g. Fire > Wood > Water > Fire
    • Opposite Elements: Elements are grouped in pairs of opposites e.g. Fire <> Water, Wind <> Earth, Light <> Darkness
    • Others?

Edited by TrueShadow1 on Sep 11th 2019 at 8:32:48 AM

Sep 12th 2019 at 3:45:16 AM

I'm thinking that we could repurpose this trope into the super trope, being about Elemental Powers being effective against something, not just other elements.

Edited by Kindle4Light on Sep 12th 2019 at 8:16:20 PM

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Sep 12th 2019 at 5:46:04 AM

Create an Elemental Strengths And Weaknesses supertrope. I think everyone agrees with this.
I do at least.

If necessary, create another trope for a system where a unit's elemental resistances is arbitrarily decided (Shin Megami Tensei style of elemental weaknesses, so to speak).

I dont know if we need that, that would be more of the super trope's kind of thing. That is more 'they exist and the work uses them excessively'.

Now natural/meaningful weaknesses that they stick too though, THAT is something I think needs a trope here. Fire monster is weak to Water and such.

If necessary, rename Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors to something else. I suggest Elemental Interactions.

I would be fine with this IF we want to lump all the patterns into 1 trope.

I personally thing the subtropes are a good idea as many works base their entire magic systems around one of those 3 ideas specifically and many times their entire world itself revolves around it. /shrug I am in the minority here though.


I'm thinking that we could repurpose this trope into the super trope, being about Elemental Powers being effective against something, not just other elements.
That is WAY overly broad and really outside the purpose of the trope. I could see a trope about Natural Weakness and/or Utility Magic though. It would be a supertrope to quite a few tropes, like Revive Kills Zombie, and opposite of Feed It with Fire. (would need a different name as Utility Magic is something entirely different.)

Divinity: Original Sin basically uses that as the basis for its entire combat system, the basic 'Rain' spell especially.

Edited by Memers on Sep 12th 2019 at 6:12:17 AM

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Sep 12th 2019 at 7:04:00 AM

Let's keep Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors out of this discussion for now. IMO that trope needs a TRS as well. Let's just focus on solely Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors right now. We can redefine the tropes' relationship to TRPS after all else is done.

Fair enough—my apologies if I derailed things a bit too much on my part! ^^;

So, to summarize, here are the points of the discussion:

Create an Elemental Strengths And Weaknesses supertrope. I think everyone agrees with this.

Yup, I'm in agreement here, I believe!

If necessary, create another trope for a system where a unit's elemental resistances is arbitrarily decided (Shin Megami Tensei style of elemental weaknesses, so to speak).

To my mind, such examples would go happily under the supertrope—I currently don't see a reason to create a separate sub-trope for them.

If necessary, rename Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors to something else. I suggest Elemental Interactions.

I'm happy with the current title—it seems like a good fit, to me—but as I said previously, if it's causing trouble, I'm not opposed to changing it.

Should there be further subtropes of ERPS?

I'm inclined to argue against it, myself. Such specific forms seem pretty much of the same fundamental nature as the main trope, to my mind. That is, I see them as The Same, but More Specific.

I'm thinking that we could repurpose this trope into the super trope, being about Elemental Powers being effective against something, not just other elements.

Hmm—that seems a bit too broad for this title, even for me. Plus it would leave this form (the "directed graph" form of elemental interactions), which to my mind is a quite distinct form, without a trope.

Now natural/meaningful weaknesses that they stick too though, THAT is something I think needs a trope here. Fire monster is weak to Water and such.

Hmm... I could see that, I think. I would imagine it as a sub-trope of the "elemental interactions" trope, but separate from "Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors": it's clearly about elemental interactions, but the "Rock-Paper-Scissors" form could theoretically use either natural/meaningful connections or arbitrary ones.

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
Sep 12th 2019 at 7:35:06 AM

[up] RPS is a balance thing. Natural weaknesses are things that make sense.

A work might use both sure but not all of them. Actually building a full system around weaknesses and sticking to it is really quite rare (if we go with that) and then making the players be part of that system is even rarer (which is an essential part of the trope).

Edited by Memers on Sep 12th 2019 at 7:42:39 AM

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Sep 12th 2019 at 8:50:16 AM

[up] RPS is a balance thing. Natural weaknesses are things that make sense.

I'm not sure of what you're arguing against here. Could you clarify, please?

... making the players be part of that system is even rarer (which is an essential part of the trope).

How are the players a part of the system? (Aside from in the sense that's generally true of video-game mechanics.)

Edited by ArsThaumaturgis on Sep 12th 2019 at 5:50:36 PM

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
Sep 12th 2019 at 9:45:40 AM

That they are very different tropes, and they come from very different angles of viewing a weaknesses.


And yeah the player should be part of any Elemental RPS, circle type effect. Thats one of the key parts of the trope you and your enemy are playing Rock Paper Scissors with your elements, go in with a water type and the enemy is using an electric type you are completely screwed and need to switch.

Without the player being involved in the cycle there isn't any cycle, you are just hitting a weakness with no risk.

Edited by Memers on Sep 12th 2019 at 9:48:17 AM

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Sep 12th 2019 at 9:56:26 AM

That they are very different tropes, and they come from very different angles of viewing a weaknesses.

That's... pretty much what I was saying. ^^;

Or rather, I'm saying that they're orthogonal: the presence or absence of one doesn't speak to the presence or absence of the other.

In short, I don't think that we actually significantly disagree on this.

And yeah the player should be part of any Elemental RPS, circle type effect. Thats one of the key parts of the trope you and your enemy are playing Rock Paper Scissors with your elements, go in with a water type and the enemy is using an electric type you are completely screwed and need to switch.

Without the player being involved in the cycle there isn't any cycle, you are just hitting a weakness with no risk.

But isn't that true of pretty much any gameplay mechanic? A mechanic that leaves the player with no place in the action isn't really a game-mechanic, arguably.

Or to put it another way, I'd argue that the player is similarly a part of a simple "elemental strengths and weaknesses" mechanic: after all, if they choose an attack that matches a weakness, then they do more damage, while an attack that matches an elemental strength does less.

In a simple "Rock-Paper-Scissors" system the choice is just as simple: the enemy is weak to X, so, absent other factors, it makes sense to choose X.

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
Sep 12th 2019 at 1:26:48 PM

Not really. There are plenty of examples in fiction where people are elemental specialists and such and get countered then countered by someone else and such.

Although I will say examples like

Spider-Man villains Electro, Sandman, and Hydro-Man have all been defeated by being doused with water and/or some chemical compound that negatively affects them, like wet cement.
that are currently on the page are NOT this trope and are actually Weaksauce Weakness.

Edited by Memers on Sep 12th 2019 at 1:31:26 AM

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Sep 12th 2019 at 3:42:44 PM

Not really. There are plenty of examples in fiction where people are elemental specialists and such and get countered then countered by someone else and such.

But you could just as easily have a "Rock-Paper-Scissors" system in a non-interactive work, I daresay. (Even aside from works that adapt interactive works, like the Pokemon anime.)

[edit] Indeed, see the example in the "Literature" section of the page, which describes ghosts with elemental affinities, and that are strong against those of one other element and weak against those of one other element. There's also a partial example under comic-books with the Lantern rings. [/edit]

... that are currently on the page are NOT this trope and are actually Weaksauce Weakness.

Looking at that example... I think that I agree. It doesn't look to me as though there's an elemental relationship there, as such. That is, they don't really seem to be using water as an element, but as a material substance.

Edited by ArsThaumaturgis on Sep 12th 2019 at 12:50:04 PM

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
Sep 13th 2019 at 3:54:40 AM

^ I've aleady made a tlp on it called Elemental Effectiveness here: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=1p66ltooh01s3ny789l8gemm

I was hoping that we could come to it after we've finally decided how to treat Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors, so I didn't bring it up to discussion.

However, I find your description satisfyingly short and sweet. I don't whether we could merge the two tlp together.

Edited by Kindle4Light on Sep 13th 2019 at 7:20:26 PM

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Berrenta MOD Holiday Mode from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
Sep 13th 2019 at 5:48:34 AM

Calling in favor of Path A: Not an RPS.

Since it involves a rename, let's gather up some possible new names.

Edited by Berrenta on Sep 13th 2019 at 7:50:23 AM

Sep 13th 2019 at 6:09:36 AM

[up][up] I think it's a little early to start workshopping new tropes that are likely to wind up being redundant with a renamed, broadened Elemental RPS. Let's deal with what's in front of us for the moment.

Sep 13th 2019 at 6:43:44 AM

Well if we are repurpusing this trope to be just 'this work uses elemental effectivness' we still will need one for balancing and structuring among other things... aka what this trope covers right now.

Also I find it extremely suspicious that the entire conversation that was going on was going against the winner, by every single poster and only 1 nay (me). Did people even read the threat before voting?

Edited by Memers on Sep 13th 2019 at 6:48:10 AM

Sep 13th 2019 at 6:44:44 AM

Created a new crowner here:https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/crowner.php/AlternativeTitles/ElementalRockPaperScissors?open=all#j4rfckq0 and requested linking it.

Originally, I've thought of calling it Elemental Effectiveness, thought that was when I though it's about a element being effective against something, not just another element. Maybe I can rebrand it as Effectiveness Among Elements? But I find it too long.

The second name I think up of is Elemental Chart, partially named after the Type Chart, a table used to illustrate all Pokémon type advantages as well as disadvantages.

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Page Action: Elemental Rock Paper Scissors Description
20th Oct '19 4:39:26 AM
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