[MUD-Dev] DGN: The Grand List Of Console Role Playing Game Clichés

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Thu Apr 11 19:56:35 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

This is amusing.


However, it also manages to almost single-handedly point out a
majority of the flaws in CRPG design -- a lot of the cliches have
very good design reasons for not working logically.  By logically, I
mean logical to the player.

I wish I could say RetroMUD has all of these beat.  We did manage to
address #17 at least.  I bet a game that addresses the majority of
these humorous jabs is probably a better game for it.

Very funny though.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
RetroMUD Administrator

<EdNote: Appended and many formatting errors fixed>

The Grand List Of Console Role Playing Game Clich	s


There are few people who love a good console RPG more than I. Games
like Final Fantasy, Grandia, and Skies of Arcadia set a standard of
majesty and wonder and immersion that American game designers
struggle, and usually fail, to match. And yet, as I play the latest
masterpiece to come out of Japan I sometimes can't help the feeling
that, somehow, I've seen it all before... WARNING! There are
spoilers in here for many popular CRPGs. I mean, duh.

Last updated July 2001.

-- Sleepyhead Rule

  Typically, the teenaged male lead will begin the first day of the
  game by oversleeping, being woken up by his mother, and being
  reminded that he's slept in so late he missed meeting his

-- "No! My beloved peasant village!"

  The hero's home town, city, slum, or planet will usually be
  annihilated in a spectacular fashion before the end of the game,
  and often before the end of the opening scene.

-- Carl Macek's Revenge

  The English voice acting is always embarrassingly bad, and the
  more VA there is in the game, the worse it gets.

-- Silent Movie Rule

  Nobody ever talks during an full-motion-video
  sequence... thankfully, given Carl Macek's Revenge.

-- Thinking With The Wrong Head (Hiro Rule)

  No matter what she's accused of doing or how mysterious her
  origins are, the hero will always be ready to fight to the death
  for any girl he met three seconds ago.

-- Cubic Zirconium Corollary

  The aforementioned mysterious girl will be wearing a pendant that
  will ultimately prove to be the key to either saving the world or
  destroying it.

-- Logan's Run Rule

  RPG characters are young. Very young. The average age seems to be
  15, unless the character is a decorated and battle-hardened
  soldier, in which case he might even be as old as 18. Such
  teenagers often have skills with multiple weapons and magic, years
  of experience, and never ever worry about their parents telling
  them to come home from adventuring before bedtime. By contrast,
  characters more than twenty-two years old will cheerfully refer to
  themselves as washed-up old fogies and be eager to make room for
  the younger generation.

-- Single Parent Rule

  RPG characters with two living parents are almost unheard of. As a
  general rule, male characters will only have a mother, and female
  characters will only have a father. The missing parent either
  vanished mysteriously and traumatically several years ago or is
  never referred to at all. Frequently the main character's
  surviving parent will also meet an awkward end just after the
  story begins, thus freeing him of inconvenient filial obligations.

-- Some Call Me... Tim?

  Good guys will only have first names, and bad guys will only have
  last names. Any bad guy who only has a first name will become a
  good guy at some point in the game. Good guys' last names may be
  mentioned in the manual but they will never be referred to in the

-- The Compulsories

  There's always a fire dungeon, an ice dungeon, a sewer maze, a
  misty forest, a derelict ghost ship, a mine, a glowing crystal
  maze, an ancient temple full of traps, a magic floating castle,
  and a technological dungeon.

-- Luddite Rule (or, George Lucas Rule)

  Speaking of which, technology is inherently evil and is the
  exclusive province of the Bad Guys. They're the ones with the
  robots, factories, cyberpunk megalopolises and floating battle
  stations, while the Good Guys live in small villages in peaceful
  harmony with nature. (Although somehow your guns and/or heavily
  armed airships are exempted from this.)

-- Let's Start From The Very Beginning (Megaman Rule)

  Whenever there is a sequel to an RPG that features the same main
  character as the previous game, that character will always start
  with beginner skills. Everything that they learned in the previous
  game will be gone, as will all their ultra-powerful weapons and

-- Garrett's Principle

  Let's not mince words: you're a thief. You can walk into just
  about anybody's house like the door wasn't even locked. You just
  barge right in and start looking for stuff. Anything you can find
  that's not nailed down is yours to keep. You will often walk into
  perfect strangers' houses, lift their precious artifacts, and then
  chat with them like you were old neighbors as you head back out
  with their family heirlooms under your arm. Unfortunately, this
  never works in stores.

-- Hey, I Know You!

  You will accumulate at least three of these obligatory party

    - The spunky princess who is rebelling against her (single)
    royal parent and is in love with the hero.

    - The demure, soft-spoken female mage and healing magic
    specialist who is not only in love with the hero, but is also
    the last survivor of an ancient race.

    - The tough-as-nails female warrior who is not in love with the
    hero (note that this is the only female character in the game
    who is not in love with the hero and will therefore be indicated
    as such by having a spectacular scar, a missing eye, cyborg
    limbs or some other physical deformity -- see The Good, The Bad,
    And The Ugly Rule.)

    - The achingly beautiful gothy swordsman who is riven by inner

    - The big, tough, angry guy who, deep down, is a total softy.

    - The grim, selfish mercenary who over the course of the game
    learns what it means to really care about other people.

    - The weird bonus character who requires a bizarre series of
    side quests to make them effective (with the ultimate result
    that no player ever uses this character if it can be avoided.)

    - The nauseatingly cute mascot who is useless in all battles.

-- Hey, I Know You, Too!

  You will also confront/be confronted by at least three of these
  obligatory foes:

    - The amazingly good-looking and amazingly evil bishounen
    (Japanese for "long-haired prettyboy") who may or may not be the
    ultimate villain.

    - The villain's loyal right-hand man, who comes in two versions:
    humorously incompetent or annoyingly persistent.

    - The villain's attractive female henchman, who is the strongest
    and most competent soldier in the army but always lets the party
    escape because she's, yes, fallen in love with the hero.

    - The irritatingly honorable foe whom you never get to kill
    because, upon discovering the true nature of his superiors, he
    either nobly sacrifices himself or joins your party.

    - The mad scientist who likes creating mutated creatures and
    powerful weapons 'cause it's fun (and also handy if uninvited
    adventurers show up.)

    - The adorably cute li'l creature or six year old child who
    fights you and, inexplicably, kicks your butt time after time.

-- "Silly Squall, bringing a sword to a gunfight..."

  No matter what timeframe the game is set in -- past, present, or
  future -- the main hero and his antagonist will both use a sword
  for a weapon. (Therefore, you can identify your antagonist pretty
  easily right from the start of the game just by looking for the
  other guy who uses a sword.) These swords will be far more
  powerful than any gun and often capable of distance attacks.

-- Just Nod Your Head And Smile

  And no matter how big that big-ass sword is, you won't stand out
  in a crowd. Nobody ever crosses the street to avoid you or seems
  to be especially shocked or alarmed when a heavily armed gang
  bursts into their house during dinner, rummages through their
  posessions, and demands to know if they've seen a black-caped
  man. People can get used to anything, apparently.

-- Aeris's Corollary

  Just as the main male character will always use a sword or a
  variant of a sword, the main female character will always use a
  rod or a staff of some sort.

-- MacGyver Rule

  Other than for the protagonists, your choice of weapons is not
  limited to the prosaic guns, clubs, or swords. Given appropriate
  skills, you can cut a bloody swath across the continent using
  gloves, combs, umbrellas, megaphones, dictionaries, sketching
  tablets -- you name it, you can kill with it. Even better, no
  matter how surreal your choice of armament, every store you pass
  will just happen to stock an even better model of it for a very
  reasonable price. Who else is running around the world killing
  people with an umbrella?

-- uien Es Mas Macho? (Fargo Rule)

  Every powerful character you attempt to seek aid from will first
  insist upon "testing your strength" in a battle to the death.

-- Everyday Object Rule

  When an everyday object is useful, it will be fantastically
  expensive and difficult to find. For instance, if vitamins are
  used to heal, they'll cost $500.00 each and never ever be in
  bottles of fifty at the drugstore.

-- We Had To Destroy The Village In Order To, Well, You Know The
Rest (Selene Rule)

  No matter what happens, never call on the government, the church,
  or any other massive controlling authority for help. They'll just
  send a brigade of soldiers to burn your entire village to the

-- Zidane's Curse (or, Dirty Pair Rule)

  An unlucky condition in which every major city in the game will
  coincidentally wind up being destroyed just after the hero

-- Local Control Principle

  Although the boss monster terrorizing the first city in the game
  is less powerful than the non-boss monsters that are only casual
  nuisances to cities later in the game, nobody from the first city
  ever thinks of hiring a few mercenaries from the later cities to
  kill the monster.


  The basic ammunition for any firearms your characters have is
  either unlimited or very, very easy to obtain. This will apply
  even if firearms are extremely rare.

-- Indestructible Weapon Rule

  No matter how many times you use that sword to strike armored
  targets or fire that gun on full auto mode it will never break,
  jam or need any form of maintenance unless it is critical to the
  story that the weapon breaks, jams or needs maintenance.

-- Painted-On Equipment Rule

  Enemy equipment doesn't exist. Even if your enemy is a knight in
  armor wielding a sword, chances are next to nothing that you'll
  get his armor or sword by the end of the battle. Instead, you'll
  get some object that (even if it is a gigantic weapon or
  accessory) was completely invisible during the fight.

-- Selective Paralysis

  Your characters must always keep both feet on the ground and will
  be unable to climb over low rock ledges, railings, chairs, cats,
  slightly differently-colored ground, or any other trivial objects
  which may happen to be in their way. Note that this condition will
  not prevent your characters from jumping from railroad car to
  railroad car later in the game.

-- You Can't Kill Me, I Quit (Seifer Rule)

  The good guys never seem to get the hang of actually arresting or
  killing the bad guys. Minor villains are always permitted to go
  free so they can rest up and menace you again later -- sometimes
  five minutes later. Knowing this rule, you can deduce that if you
  do manage to kill (or force the surrender of) a bad guy, you must
  be getting near the end of the game.

-- And Now You Die, Mr. Bond! (Beatrix Rule)

  Fortunately for you, the previous rule also applies in
  reverse. Rather than kill you when they have you at their mercy,
  the villains will settle for merely blasting you down to 1 hit
  point and leaving you in a crumpled heap while they stroll off,
  laughing. (This is, of course, because they're already planning
  ahead how they'll manipulate you into doing their bidding later in
  the game -- see Way To Go, Serge.)

-- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose (Grahf Rule)

  It doesn't matter that you won the fight with the boss monster;
  the evil task he was trying to carry out will still get
  accomplished somehow. Really, you might as well not have bothered.

-- Fake Ending

  There will be a sequence which pretends to be the end of the game
  but obviously isn't -- if for no other reason than because you're
  still on Disk 1 of 4.

-- You Die, And We All Move Up In Rank

  During that fake ending, the true villain of the story will kill
  the guy you'd thought was the villain, just to demonstrate what a
  badass he (the true villain) really is. You never get to kill the
  fake villain yourself.

-- "What are we going to do tonight, Vinsfeld?"

  The goal of every game (as revealed during the Fake Ending) is to
  Save the World from an evil figure who's trying to take it over or
  destroy it. There is no way to escape from this formidable
  task. No matter whether the protagonist's goal in life is to pay
  off a debt, to explore distant lands, or just to make time with
  that cute girl in the blue dress, it will be necessary for him to
  Save the World in order to accomplish it. Take heart, though --
  once the world gets sorted out, everything else will fall into
  place almost immediately.

-- Zelda's Axiom

  Whenever somebody tells you about "the five ancient talismans" or
  "the nine legendary crystals" or whatever, you can be quite
  confident that Saving the World will require you to go out and
  find every last one of them.

-- George W. Bush Geography Simplification Initiative

  Every country in the world will have exactly one town in it,
  except for the country you start out in, which will have three.

-- Fodor's Guide Rule

  In the course of your adventure you will visit one desert city,
  one port town, one mining town, one casino city, one magic city
  (usually flying), one medieval castle kingdom, one martial
  arts-based community, one thieves' slum, one lost city and one
  sci-fi utopia. Midgar Principle

  The capital of the evil empire is always divided into two
  sections: a lower city slum filled with slaves and supporters of
  the rebellion, and an upper city filled with loyal fanatics and
  corrupt aristocrats. Short Attention Span Principle

  All bookshelves contain exactly one book, which only has enough
  text on it to fill up half a page.

-- Invisible Bureaucracy Rule

  Other than the royal family, its shifty advisor, and the odd mad
  scientist, the only government employees you will ever encounter
  in the course of your adventure are either guards or kitchen

-- The Miracle Of Automation

  Similarily, any factory, power plant, or other facility that you
  visit during the course of the game will be devoid of any human
  life except for the occasional guards. There will not be a single
  line worker or maintenance person in sight.

-- Principle of Archaeological Convenience

  Every ancient machine you find will work perfectly the first time
  you try to use it and every time thereafter. Even if its city got
  blasted into ruins and the machine was then sunk to the bottom of
  the sea and buried in mud for ten thousand years, it'll still work
  fine. The unfortunate corollary to this rule is that ancient
  guardian creatures will also turn out to be working perfectly when
  you try to filch their stuff.

-- Kefka's Conclusion

  The loopiest guy in the game will become either your strongest
  character or your worst enemy.

-- I Don't Like Gears Or Fighting

  There are always giant robots. Always.

-- The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Rule

  Any male character who is ugly, malformed, or misshapen is either
  evil or so moral, spiritual, and/or wise that it's a wonder no
  one's proposed him for sainthood yet.

  Any male character who has a physical disfiguration that doesn't
  seem to impede him (i.e. a prominent scar across the face or a bad
  eye) is evil, unless he is the male lead, since scars are cool and
  no other good guy can be as cool as the hero. An exception is made
  for characters who are clearly ancient, and therefore
  automatically not as cool as the young hero.

  Any female character who is ugly, malformed, mishapen, or
  physically disfigured is evil, since all good female characters
  are there to be potentially seduced by the male lead -- see Know
  Your Audience.

-- Henchman Quota (Nana, Saki, and Mio Rule)

  One of your antagonists will have three lovably incompetent
  stooges whom you fight over and over again. Although they're
  trusted with their boss's most important plans and equipment, they
  will screw up repeatedly, argue incessantly among themselves, blab
  secret information, and generally only come out victorious when
  their job was to be a diversion or a delaying tactic. A high point
  of the game will come when the True Villain reveals himself and
  you're able to convince the stooges you're all on the same
  side. They won't help you out any more successfully than they
  helped the antagonist, but at least you won't have to fight them
  any more.

-- Thousand Year Rule

  The Ancient Evil returns to savage the land every thousand years
  on the dot, and the last time it showed up was just about 999.9875
  years ago. Despite their best efforts, heroes of the past were
  never able to do more than seal the Evil away again for the future
  to deal with (which brings up the question of just how exactly
  does this "sealing away" work anyway, but never mind.) The good
  news is that this time, the Evil will get destroyed
  permanently. The bad news is that you're the one who's going to
  have to do it.

-- Ayn Rand's Revenge

  Outside the major cities, there is no government whatsoever. Of
  course, perhaps that explains why it's so difficult and dangerous
  to get anywhere outside the major cities.

-- Law of Productive Gullibility (Ruby Rule)

  Whenever anybody comes up to you with a patently ludicrous claim
  (such as, "I'm not a cat, I'm really an ancient Red Dragon")
  there's an at least two-thirds chance they're telling the
  truth. Therefore, it pays to humor everyone you meet; odds are
  you'll be glad you did later on.

-- Perversity Principle

  If you're unsure about what to do next, ask all the townspeople
  nearby. They will either all strongly urge you to do something, in
  which case you must immediately go out and do that thing, or else
  they will all strongly warn you against doing something, in which
  case you must immediately go out and do that thing.

-- Mundane Medical Miracle Rule

  In every populated area and several unpopulated ones, you will be
  able to buy items (usually potions) that instantly heal any
  wound. Despite their amazing, impossible power, these healing
  items are conveniently cheap and light, allowing you to purchase
  and carry at least 99 of them at one time. Note that there will be
  just as many hospitals and doctors as ever despite the
  obsolescence of their profession.

-- First Law of Travel

  Anything can become a vehicle -- castles, cities, military
  academies, you name it -- so do not be alarmed when the stones of
  the ancient fortress you are visiting shake underfoot and the
  whole thing lifts off into the sky. As a corollary, anything is
  capable of flight if it would be cool, aeronautics or even basic
  physics be damned.

-- Second Law of Travel

  There will be only one of any non-trivial type of vehicle in the
  entire world. Thus, only one ocean-capable steamboat, only one
  airship, and so forth. Massive facilities will have been
  constructed all over the world to service this one vehicle.

-- Third Law of Travel

  The only way to travel by land between different areas of a
  continent will always be through a single narrow pass in a range
  of otherwise impenetrable mountains. Usually a palace or monastery
  will have been constructed in the pass, entirely filling it, so
  that all intracontinental traffic is apparently required to
  abandon their vehicles and go on foot up stairs and through the
  barracks, library and throne room to get to the other side. This
  may explain why most people just stay home. (In some cases a cave
  or underground tunnel may be substituted for the palace or
  monastery, but it will still be just as inconvenient with the
  added bonuses of cave-ins and nonsensical elevator puzzles.)

-- Fourth Law of Travel

  Three out of every four vehicles you ride on will eventually sink,
  derail or crash in some spectacular manner.

-- Fifth Law of Travel (Big Joe Rule)

  As has been described, you must endure great trials just to get
  from town to town: locating different vehicles, operating ancient
  transport mechanisms, evading military blockades, the list goes
  on. But that's just you. Every other character in the game seems
  to have no trouble getting to any place in the world on a moment's

-- If You Meet The Buddha In A Random Encounter, Kill Him!

  When you're out wandering around the world, you must kill
  everything you meet. People, animals, plants, insects, fire
  hydrants, small cottages, anything and everything is just plain
  out to get you. It may be because of your rampant kleptomania (see
  Garrett's Principle.)

-- Guy in the Street Rule

  No matter how fast you travel, rumors of world events always
  travel faster. When you get to anywhere, the people on the street
  are already talking about where you've been.

-- Wherever You Go, There They Are

  Wherever the characters go, the villains can always find
  them. Chances are they're asking the guy in the street (see
  above). But don't worry -- despite being able to find the
  characters with ease anytime they want to, the bad guys never get
  rid of them by simply blowing up the tent or hotel they're
  spending the night in. (Just think of it: the screen dims, the
  peaceful going-to-sleep-now music plays, then BOOM! Game Over!)

-- You Do Not Talk About Fight Club

  Any fighting tournament or contest of skill you hear about, you
  will eventually be forced to enter and win.

-- Figurehead Rule

  Whenever someone asks you a question to decide what to do, it's
  just to be polite. He or she will ask the question again and again
  until you answer "correctly."

-- Puddin' Tame Rule

  The average passer-by will always say the same thing no matter how
  many times you talk to them, and they certainly won't clarify any
  of the vaguely worded warnings or cryptic half-sentences they
  threw at you the previous time.

-- But They Don't Take American Express

  Every merchant in the world -- even those living in far-off
  villages or hidden floating cities cut off from the outside world
  for centuries, even those who speak different languages or are of
  an entirely different species -- accepts the same currency.

-- Nostradamus Rule

  All legends are 100% accurate. All rumors are entirely
  factual. All prophecies will come true, and not just someday but
  almost immediately.

-- You Always Travel In The Right Circles

  Whenever you meet a villager or other such incidental character
  who promises to give you some great piece of needed knowledge or a
  required object in exchange for a seemingly simple item, such as a
  bar of soap or a nice straw mat, be prepared to spend at least an
  hour chasing around the world exchanging useless innocuous item
  after item with bizarre strangers until you can get that elusive
  first item you were asked for.

-- Talk Is Cheap Rule

  Nothing is ever solved by diplomacy or politics in the world of
  RPGs. Any declarations of peace, summits and treaty negotiations
  are traps to fool the ever so gullible Good Guys into thinking the
  war is over, or to brainwash the remaining leaders of the world.

-- Stop Your Life (Setzer Rule)

  No matter what kind of exciting, dynamic life a character was
  leading before joining your party, once there they will be
  perfectly content to sit and wait on the airship until you choose
  to use them.

-- "You Couldn't Get To Sleep Either, Huh?"

  If any character in the game ever meets any other character
  standing alone at night looking at the moon, those two will
  eventually fall in love. Selective Invulnerability Principle

  RPG characters are immune from such mundane hazards as intense
  heat, freezing cold, or poison gas... except when they're suddenly
  not. Surprise!

-- Law of Numbers

  There will be several items or effects which depend on the
  numerical value of your hit points, level, etc., which makes no
  sense unless the characters can see all the numbers in their world
  and find it perfectly normal that a spell only works on a monster
  whose level is a multiple of 5.

-- I'm the NRA (Billy Lee Black Rule)

  Opposition to gun control is probably the only thing you could get
  all RPG characters to agree upon. Even deep religious faith and
  heartfelt pacifism can't compete with the allure of guns.

-- First Law of Fashion

  All characters wear a single costume which does not change over
  the course of the game. The only exception is when characters
  dress up in enemy uniforms to infiltrate their base.

-- Second Law of Fashion

  Any female character's costume, no matter how outlandish, is
  always completely suitable to wear when climbing around in caves,
  hiking across the desert, and slogging through the sewers.

-- Last Rule of Politics

  Kingdoms are good. Empires are evil. Franklin Covey Was Wrong,
  Wrong, Wrong

  Sticking to the task at hand and going directly from place to
  place and goal to goal is always a bad idea, and may even prevent
  you from being able to finish the game. It's by dawdling around,
  completing side quests and giving money to derelicts that you come
  into your real power.

-- Wait! That Was A Load-Bearing Boss!

  Defeating a dungeon's boss creature will frequently cause the
  dungeon to collapse, which is nonsensical but does make for
  thrilling escape scenes.

-- Magical Inequality Theorem

  In the course of your travels you may find useful-sounding spells
  such as Petrify, Silence, and Instant Death. However, you will end
  up never using these spells in combat because a) all ordinary
  enemies can be killed with a few normal attacks, making fancy
  attacks unneccessary, b) all bosses and other
  stronger-than-average monsters are immune to those effects so
  there's no point in using them for long fights where they'd
  actually come in handy, and c) the spells usually don't work

-- Magical Inequality Corollary

  When the enemy uses Petrify, Silence, Instant Death, et cetera
  spells on you, they will be effective 100% of the time.

-- The Ominous Ring of Land

  The classic Ominous Ring of Land is a popular terrain feature that
  frequently doesn't show up on your world map. Just when you think
  things are going really well and you've got the Forces of Evil on
  the run, monsters, demons and mad gods will pour out of the center
  of the ring and the situation will get ten times worse. The main
  villain also usually hangs out in one of these after attaining
  godhood. If there are several Ominous Rings of Land or the entire
  world map is one big ring, you are just screwed.

-- Law of NPC Relativity (Magus Rule)

  Characters can accomplish superhuman physical feats, defeat
  enemies with one hand tied behind their back and use incredible
  abilities -- until they join your party and you can control
  them. Then these wonderful powers all vanish, along with most of
  their hit points.

-- Guards! Guards! (or, Lindblum Full Employment Act)

  Everything will be guarded and gated (elevators, docks, old
  rickety bridges, random stretches of roadway deep in the forest)
  except for the stuff that actually needs to be.

-- Thank You For Pressing The Self-Destruct Button

  All enemy installations and city-sized military vehicles will be
  equipped with a conveniently located, easy-to-operate
  self-destruct mechanism.

-- Harmless Looking Monster Law (Tonberry Rule)

  If you encounter a monster that looks odd, harmless, and cute, run
  away! It is insanely strong and will easily decimate your party.

-- Falling Rule

  An RPG character can fall any distance onto anything without
  suffering anything worse than brief unconsciousness. In fact,
  falling a huge distance is an excellent cure for otherwise fatal
  wounds -- anyone who you see shot, stabbed, or mangled and then
  tossed off a cliff is guaranteed to return later in the game with
  barely a scratch.

-- Materials Science 101

  Gold, silver, and other precious metals make excellent weapons and
  armor even though in the real world they are too soft and heavy to
  use for that purpose. In fact, they work so well that nobody ever
  melts their solid gold suit of armor down into bullion, sells it,
  and retires to a tropical isle on the proceeds.

-- Materials Science 201

  Everyone you meet will talk enthusiastically about how some
  fantastically rare metal (iron, say) would make the best possible
  armor and weapons. Oh, if only you could get your hands on some!
  However, once you actually obtain iron -- at great personal risk,
  of course -- everyone will dismiss it as yesterday's news and
  instead start talking about some even more fantastically rare
  metal, such as gold. Repeat until you get to the metal after
  "mythril" (see The Ultimate Rule.)

-- Gender Equality, Part 1

  Your average female RPG character carries a variety of deadly
  weapons and can effortlessly hack or magic her way through armies
  of monsters, killer cyborgs, and mutated boss creatures without
  breaking a sweat. She may be an accomplished ninja, a superpowered
  secret agent, or the world's greatest adventurer. However, if one
  of the game's villains manages to sneak up and grab her by the
  Standard Female Character Grab Area (her upper arm) she will be
  rendered utterly helpless until rescued by the hero.

-- Gender Equality, Part 2 (Feena Rule)

  If any female character, in a burst of anger or enthusiasm,
  decides to go off and accomplish something on her own without the
  hero, she will fail miserably and again have to be rescued.

-- Gender Equality, Part 3 (Luna Rule)

  All of the effort you put into maxing out the female lead's
  statistics and special abilities will turn out to be for naught
  when she spends the final confrontation with the villain dead,
  ensorcelled, or held hostage.

-- Stealing The Spotlight (Edea Rule)

  The characters who join your party only briefly tend to be much
  cooler than your regular party members.

-- "Mommy, why didn't they just use a Phoenix Down on Aeris?"

  Don't expect battle mechanics to carry over into the "real world."

-- Sephiroth Memorial Escape Clause

  Any misdeed up to and including multiple genocide is forgiveable
  if you're cool enough.

-- Party Guidance Rule

  Somewhere in the last third of the story, the hero will make a
  stupid decision and the rest of the party must remind him of all
  that they have learned from being with him in order to return the
  hero to normal.

-- Bad Is Good, Baby!

  The heroes can always count on the support of good-hearted
  vampires, dragons, thieves, demons, and chainsaw murderers in
  their quest to save the world from evil. And on the other hand...

-- Good Is Bad, Baby!

  Watch out for generous priests, loyal military officers, and
  basically anyone in a position of authority who agrees to help you
  out, especially if they save your life and prove their sincerity
  innumerable times -- they're usually plotting your demise in
  secret (at least when they can fit it into their busy schedule of
  betraying their country, sponsoring international terrorism, and
  stealing candy from small children) and will stab you in the back
  at the most inconvenient moment, unless they fall under...

-- General Leo's Exception

  Honorable and sympathetic people who work for the Other Side are
  always the genuine article. Of course they'll be busily stabbing
  you in the front, so either way you lose. Eventually though,
  they'll fall prey to...

-- The Ineffectual Ex-Villain Theorem (Col. Mullen Rule)

  No matter how tough and bad-ass one of the Other Side's henchmen
  is, if he bails to the side of Good he'll turn out to be not quite
  tough and bad-ass enough. The main villain will defeat him
  easily. But don't weep -- usually he'll manage to escape just in
  time, leaving you to deal with the fate that was meant for him.

-- All The Time In The World (Rinoa Rule)

  Unless there's a running countdown clock right there on the
  screen, you have as long as you want to complete any task -- such
  as, say, rescuing a friend who's hanging by one hand from a
  slippery cliff edge thousands of feet in the air -- no matter how
  incredibly urgent it is. Dawdle or hurry as you will, you'll
  always make it just in the nick of time.

-- Ladies First (Belleza Rule)

  When things really start falling apart, the villain's attractive
  female henchman will be the first to jump ship and switch to the
  side of Good. Sadly, she still won't survive until the end
  credits, because later she will sacrifice her life out of
  unrequited love for the villain.

-- Trial By Fire (Cecil Rule)

  Any dark and brooding main characters will ultimately be redeemed
  by a long, ardous, quasi-spiritual quest that seems difficult at
  the time, but in the great scheme of things just wasn't that big
  of a deal after all. Way To Go, Serge

  It will eventually turn out that, for a minimum of the first sixty
  percent of the game, you were actually being manipulated by the
  forces of evil into doing their sinister bidding for them. In
  extreme cases this may go as high as 90%.

-- They Never Learn

  Nevertheless, no matter how in-your-face clear it becomes that the
  villain is playing the hero, and no matter how many times the hero
  gets burned, he will never realize that he's being suckered and
  decide to change his plans (or just abandon the quest and go get
  drunk, presumably foiling the villain's manipulative schemes that

-- Gilligan's Prescription

  Any character who has amnesia will be cured before the end of the
  game. They usually won't like what they find out about themselves,

-- Luke, I Am Your Tedious, Overused Plot Device (Lynx Rule)

  If there is any chance whatsoever that major villain X could be
  the male lead's father, then it will turn out that major villain X
  is the male lead's father.

-- Golden Chocobo Principle

  There will be at least one supremely ultimate improvement for your
  weapon or some way to make your trusted steed capable of going
  anywhere and doing anything, requiring hours and hours of hard
  work to acquire. Once you do achieve this, you will use it once,
  and it will be completely useless for the rest of the game.

-- Golden Chocobo Corollary

  The magic formula for acquiring this supreme upgrade will be only
  vaguely alluded to in the game itself. Ideally, you're supposed to
  shell out $19.95 for the strategy guide instead.

-- "Evil will always triumph, because Good is dumb!"

  If the villain needs all ten legendary medallions to attain world
  domination and you have nine of them, everybody in your party
  still thinks it is neccessary to bring the nine to the villain's
  castle and get the final one, instead of hiding the ones they've
  already got and spoiling his plans that way. After you foolishly
  bring the legendary medallions to the villain's hideout, he will
  kidnap one of your companions (usually the main love interest) and
  you will trade the world away to rescue your friend.

-- It's Not My Department, Says Wernher Von Braun

  All space stations, flying cities, floating continents and so
  forth will without exception either be blown up or crash violently
  to earth before the end of the game.

-- Pyrrhic Victory

  By the time you've gotten it in gear, dealt with your
  miscellaneous personal crises and are finally ready to go Save the
  World once and for all, nine-tenths of it will already have been
  destroyed. Still, you've got to give your all to save the
  remaining one-tenth.

-- Compression of Time

  As you approach the final confrontation with the villain, events
  will become increasingly awkward, contrived and disconnected from
  one another -- almost as if some cosmic Author was running up
  against a deadline and had to slap together the ending at the last

-- Adam Smith's Revenge

  By the end of the game you are renowned everywhere as the
  Legendary Heroes, every surviving government and authority figure
  has rallied behind you, the fate of the world is obviously hanging
  in the balance, and out of nowhere random passers-by give you a
  pat on the back and heartfelt good luck wishes. However,
  shopkeepers won't even give you a discount, much less free
  supplies for the final battle with evil.

-- Adam Smith's Corollary

  No matter how thoroughly devastated the continent/planet/universe
  is, there's always some shopkeeper who survived the end of the
  world and sits outside the gates of the villain's castle, selling
  the most powerful equipment in the game, like nothing ever

-- "So, Andross, you reveal your true form!"

  You will have to kill the evil villain at least twice at the end
  of the game. First the villain will look like a person or some
  creature and be rather easy to kill. Then he will grow to about 50
  times the hero's size and be much harder to kill.

-- In Your Face, Jesus!

  Even if you manage to deal with him that time, you're not done --
  the villain will then transform into his final form, which is
  always an angelic winged figure with background music remixed for
  ecstatic chorus and pipe organ.

-- If I Cannot Rule The World, There Will Be No World To Rule

  During the last battle, the villain may destroy the world or even
  the entire solar system just to get you. Do not be alarmed: since
  the world is generally none the worse for wear afterwards, these
  attacks seem to be largely illusionary. They still hurt like the
  dickens, though.

-- The Moral Of The Story (Ghaleon Rule)

  Every problem in the universe can be solved by finding the right
  long-haired prettyboy and beating the crap out of him.

-- Weapon Rule

  There's always a hidden creature who is much harder to defeat than
  even the ultimate bad guy's final, world-annihilating form. It's
  lucky for all concerned that this hidden creature prefers to stay
  hidden rather than trying to take over the world himself, because
  he'd probably win. As a corollary, whatever reward you get for
  killing the hidden creature is basically worthless because by the
  time you're powerful enough to defeat him, you don't need it any

-- The Ultimate Rule

  Anything called "Ultima (whatever)" or "Ultimate (whatever)"
  isn't. There's always at least one thing somewhere in the world
  which is even more.

-- Know Your Audience (Vyse Rule)

  Every woman in the game will find the male lead incredibly

The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Cliches is a
collaborative effort. The next time I'm invading the North Cave, the
following people get to be in the primary party instead of cooling
their heels in the waiting room with Barrett and Cait Sith:

  * Jon Acheson
  * Alex
  * Rich Aldrich
  * Ken Arromdee
  * A. Cairns
  * Gail Canam
  * A E Ekermo
  * Aaron Ferguson
  * Tason Ferrick
  * Filrbnic
  * Neil Foster
  * Stephen Gatti
  * General Failure
  * JSOM
  * Paula Kuhl
  * Mike LoPrete
  * MissEmpath
  * Daniel Steven Polca
  * Eric Post
  * Spork Prophet
  * Psudo
  * Red Baron
  * Robert Rhoades
  * Mike Sarcone
  * Sarah Turi
  * Mike Varischetti
  * Dot Warner

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