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Initially, it looks like a standard Role Playing Game Verse -- but then the characters explicitly start referring to spot checks, hit points in Stat-O-Vision, roleplaying, Always Chaotic Evil monsters, and other Role Playing Game Terms. Is this an RPG in which the characters' players are weaving in and out of character and this is represented by the characters themselves speaking, or perhaps a video game which breaks the Fourth Wall more often than usual?
Nope - or at least it is not shown. The Verse this takes place in really does work exactly like a tabletop RPG.
Because of the Fourth Wall-breaking implications, this usually happens only in comedies.
- The anime Beet the Vandel Buster (started in 2002) which features experience levels printed on the characters' chest and money for killing monsters.
- The even older Mahoujin Guru Guru features characters who steal objects from random places in homes and badges on their chests which indicate their experience level.
- And even older than that is Dragon Pink, an OAV series from 1994 based on a manga from 1990.
- Mahou Sensei Negima contains numerous Shout Outs to video games, and includes two REAL LIFE massive-multiplayer role-playing games used to deal with the Mooks of both the Anti-Villain and the Big Bad without breaking The Masquerade. Eva even refers to herself as a "boss" character.
- On Yu-Gi-Oh!, whenever the "shadow realm" is mentioned? This is what's happening.
- Scott Pilgrim, kind of. For the most part it's the real world, if surreal and videogame-like, but Scott occasionally talks about his allocated skill proficiencies, gains experience points and levels up.
- It's based on the mechanics from River City Ransom specifically. So if it isn't a full RPG Mechanics Verse, it's at least an RPG Elements verse.
- In the movie, Scott earns points for defeating people or for solving things in his life (for instance, patching things up with Kim). It also seems that people in that universe have coins for blood, since Gideon coughs up a coin when injured and people burst into coins when defeated.
- Not a true example, but the 1984 thriller Cloak and Dagger briefly flirted with this in its opening sequence. It begins with superspy Jack Flack infiltrating an embassy and dispatching a bunch of colourful ethnic archetypes with an arsenal of James Bond gadgets, then escapes down the street when a gate closes in front of him. Suddenly, a pair of giant numbered dodecahedrons roll towards him. Cut to two kids playing a board game, the boy yelling triumphantly, "Jack Flack escapes!"
- Being an adaptation of the graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World also runs on video game logic.
- The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters (IUDC) is an entire novel (with two sequels) set in this type of world. The RPG in question is 1st and (later) 2nd Edition AD&D.
- Ulillillia's book The Legend of the 10 Elemental Masters pretty much pushes this trope to its limit.
- Not quite an RPG, but two of the universes from Riddle of the Seven Realms by Lyndon Hardy operate by rules reminiscent of geometry-related board games like Go or Checkers.
- The Fate/Zero Light Novel, being a prequel to Fate Stay Night, also makes use of the stat sheets found in the Visual Novel. Several of the passive skills and stats listed there also come into play in the plot.
- Mogworld is a novel ttold from the perspective of an NPC in an MMORPG, who has developed sapience.
- Dragon Road song apparently describes such an OOC-verse:
They all jumped upon us because we were lawful good.
- The lyrics to the Morlocks song "Hardcore" contains the line "What's bad for you is good for me, I've got less than five in Humanity", a reference to Vampire: The Masquerade.
- A university professor came up with a revolutionary new method for grading his students: couch grades in gaming terms, and he goes on to suggest that business managers do the same.
- Disgaea characters are fully aware that they're in a turn based-strategy RPG, and thus will occasionally make comments about character levels, critical hits, save points, and whether or not the final boss has an additional form that grants him stat bonuses.
Valvatorez: That wasn't his full power! We can expect at least three levels of transformations, with additional power multipliers every time!
- Subverted for laughs in Touhou 11: Subterranean Animism. If you play as Marisa with Alice's assist, they spend the entire storyline sassing each other and discussing the quest in terms of RPG tropes. They're also hilariously wrong, since SA is a Bullet Hell-style Shoot'Em Up like most Touhou games.
- Actually played completely serious in Fate/stay night. All Heroes get a viewable Character Sheet that explains their skills, stats and abilities, all in RPG Mechanics Verse, even how many turns an area spell lasts for,
- In-game as well, more than once the characters quantify mana, and then spend the rest of the scene treating it literally like MP.
- It should be noted, however, that Servants' abilities is something that every master views differently because their minds interpret the information given to them in different terms. The whole 'RPG Character Sheet' method is simply Shirou's mind's way of quantifying the information. Now, what does that tell us about Shirou?
- The most well-known example is, of course, The Order of the Stick, which operates more or less according to the Dungeons and Dragons rules. As a matter of fact, the very first strip takes place when the D&D rules change from 3rd to 3.5th Edition.
- Besides the page quote, it's also lampshaded in a dream/hallucination Belkar has about Lord Shojo telling him he needs to play "The Game" (basically that he needs to at least pretend to go along with people's rules) and Belkar briefly thought he meant the whole webcomic is a Deep-Immersion Gaming of some players' campaign.
- Goblins plays with this, with a "player character" cleric worshiping "the dungeon master" as a god. One character didn't die from an injury until they realized that Mage Armor didn't grant damage reduction. Word of God is that their world runs according to a heavily houseruled D&D ruleset, and that all combat results are legitimate under these altered rules.
- It's a Deconstruction of life as RPG fodder characters, so it (partially) breaks the rule about comedies.
- Erfworld has a main character recruited from the real world to become a general inside a world that looks like a fantasy themed Turn-Based Strategy game. Many of the various mechanical simplifications of a turn based strategy game are literally true in Erfworld (for instance, the two sides of the war take turns, and each side's units instantly recover hit points and movement when their turn begins). One of the few places where it is not played for laughs. Well, okay, where it's only sometimes played for laughs.
- Eight Bit Theater does this, although it's generally only Red Mage who thinks this way. For example he was once able to survive an otherwise fatal fall by "forgetting" to record the damage. However, it appears Red Mage is only right when it makes for a better joke.
- A one off joke horrifically subverts part of this concept. All Red Mages believed the world ran on RPG rules. Because they considered themselves scientists this had to be tested empirically. Sadly they began by trying to determine hit points and ended up slaughtering each other For Science!.
- At first, even Black Mage seemed to minorly operate on this (well, more Video Game mechanics than anything else, really), and had him reading a game guide to Final Fantasy I (the game upon which the comic is based). He got over this relatively fast, though, leaving RM as the only "metagamer" in the series.
- Though he apparently still has the thing on him.
- Thief likewise displayed such Medium Awareness early on, as seen by the line "Your GP or your HP."
- One example of the thing obeying the laws of the game it's based on is when they notice it only became night and then morning when one of them stayed at an inn.
- Red Mage has fun with it, telling Thief how interrogation is just emptying "pockets" of information from a victim's mind, and you can just remove a lock from a "pocket" in a door.
- Played for laughs in the late, lamented RPG World webcomic, which runs on console RPG rules. Cherry was the only character who consistently seemed bewildered by the characters not wondering why numbers appeared over their heads when they were injured in battle, etc.
- Adventurers is another webcomic that, like RPG World, takes place in a console RPG with characters that are well aware of the game mechanics, and one repeatedly complains about how ridiculous they are.
- Will Save World For Gold is set in 4th Edition D&D, and makes fun of many different RPG Tropes.
- Keychain of Creation uses the rules and setting for Exalted Second Edition, with some house rules thrown in, in a similar manner to The Order of the Stick.
- Now defunct webcomic Ledgermain also took place in one of these.
- Gold Coin Comics does this all the time. The most notable of which might possibly be when Lance first encountered an actual save point within his own universe.
- Captain SNES has a few of these, due to the fact that said universes are actual video games.
- It even goes further : some items allow characters to carry over their RPG mechanics to other worlds. For instance, when Crono, who can battle on the overworld thanks to a Reality Stabilization Belt and has a really fast ATB gauge, came to the Final Fantasy IV world, he became essentially a killing god.
- Yamara has AD&D mechanics (not surprising, as it was published in Dragon (magazine)):
Blag: Cause ya see, girlie, nobody cares if ya got an 18 Intelligence. Nobody'd care if you were one o' th' lucky broads with a 18 Wisdom! All that counts is a nice, round 18--
- The world of Homestuck, while otherwise being the Text-Based Adventure Game's equivalent to this trope, has a strife system that appears to be based on turn-based RPG combat. The Game Within a Game, Sburb, also features an "echeladder" that seems to parody an RPG's level system-- and since the lines between Sburb and reality are so blurry as to be nearly nonexistent, this could be said to apply to the story's "real world" as well.
- Its predecessor, Problem Sleuth is probably a straighter example with both Adventure games and RPG's. Most of the first part is dedicated to Lampshading Adventure game mainstays (especially Solve the Soup Cans puzzles and You Can't Get Ye Flask), but the fight with DMK borrows a lot more from RPG tropes like Turns Red, One-Winged Angel, Stat-O-Vision, Eleventh-Hour Superpower, Super Move Portrait Attacks, etc, etc.
- Hael me Plz!!11 happens inside a "non-official" Ragnarok Online server, and all the cast are very aware of it, even if one of the characters managed to bring with him a Flame spell from Lineage 2.
- Prepare to Die is entirely built around a D&D-esque world, complete with character sheets, NPCs, skill checks, and die rolls.
- Rumors of War uses an RPG Mechanics Verse according to Rule of Drama, of all things.
- A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe, though the protagonist is the only person aware of this.
- Alternatively, it could be argued that the RPG mechanics only apply to him: when he is hurt he loses hit points, but when other people are hurt they begin bleeding like normal people.
- Turn Signals on a Land Raider has elements of this, only with tabletop wargaming instead of tabletop RPG.
- Adventure Time features an adventurer going out on quests for the hell of it, dungeons, weird monsters, magic items, and mentions of levels and Character Alignment. It's obvious that someone involved was a Dungeons and Dragons fan.
- Code Monkeys has life bars and things like that, though they don't mean anything.
- College Saga is specifically a Final Fantasy-mechanics verse, and to a certain degree runs on Final Fantasy logic as well, played completely for laughs.