Authority Equals Asskicking
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Basic Information

Authority Equals Asskicking is an authority trope. It stands for the idea that authority in any kind of organization - which is a kind of power - also translates into an equal amount of combat power.

Typical Recipients of Authority Equals Asskicking

See Also


TV Tropes Wiki entry

Game and Story Use

  • While this is hardly realistic, it often makes sense from a story perspective. After all, when the player characters have fought their way to the big villain of the campaign, it's somewhat of a disappointment if he falls over at the first hit.
  • If the pc's quickly gain a lot of combat power, this can be useful to prevent them from making gross changes to the game world by killing or threatening important leaders. Realistically such leaders would have very effective security, but in rpg's a high-level pc group may be far too powerful for that to work. (If security that good were easy to come by, there would be much less need for the pcs to save the day in the first place.)
  • This may be justifiable in fantasy settings where skill in battle or raw arcane power explains how someone got ultimate authority in the first place.
    • In some cultures, advancement might only be possible by challenging and defeating one's superiors in a fight.
    • Doubly so in any culture (like, say, orcs) where the leader is more the alpha male than any kind of political figure.
    • Actually works pretty well for primitive human cultures where leadership requires at least some battlefield prowess - rule by a series of warrior kings appears not to have been that unusual. Also works well for sword and sorcery style games - Conan inspired games, for example, could well feature a lot of small city states that are routinely usurped by someone who defeats the previous ruler in battle, possibly up to and including single combat.
  • In settings where a powerful wizard can be akin to a one-man army, the law might forbid people without authority from learning and using the most powerful spells. Of course, enforcement may not always be worth the risk…
  • This is the logical conclusion of class and level system RPG campaign settings - those that are not run by superhumanly powerful high level characters rarely manage to explain why.
    • A possible explanation is the class constraints themselves: a character whose class is built to Kill Things can easily kill a king, and threaten the court into recognizing him as the new king, but is unlikely to have any skills or class features that make him any good at being a king. Before long, his kingdom collapses from mismanagement, and the remains get swept up by someone whose class is built to Rule Wisely. (This of course assumes that a Rule Wisely class exists, and the system handles organizations well enough for it to be mechanically supported.)
  • Another way to make this realistic is to have the leader receive some kind of support from the organization: the path of inspiration has nearly elevated its high priest to godhood; the corrupt politician was first in line for super-soldier treatments1, and got the leftover dose of Super Prototype instead of the mass-production stuff; the evil wizard is drawing the magical power of the entire mage's guild.
    • Or for a more mundane form: the generalissimo has the best equipment, an elite protective detail, and a palace designed specifically to suit his preferred fighting style. (Don't be afraid to let the PCs get their hands on high-end gear unless he's just the Disc One Final Boss; the entire campaign was building up to this fight, so it's not like there's much campaign left for them to use things that should be above their level.)
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