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Console RPG Clichés 1 to 24
Back to The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Clichés

  1. Sleepyhead Rule: 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 girlfriend.
  2. "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.
  3. Thinking With The Wrong Head (Hiro Rule): No matter what they are accused of or how mysterious their origins, the hero will always be ready to fight to the death for any girl they met three seconds ago.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. (See also Most Writers Are Adults)
  6. 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.
  7. 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 story.
  8. Nominal Rule: Any character who actually has a name is important in some way and must be sought out. However, if you are referred to as a part of a possessive noun ("Crono's Mom") then you are superfluous. note 
  9. 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.
  10. 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.)
  11. Let's Start From The Very Beginning (Yuna 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 equipment.
  12. Poor Little Rich Hero (Meis Rule): If the hero comes from a rich and powerful family, it will have fallen on hard times and be broke and destitute by the time the game actually starts.
  13. The Higher The Hair, The Closer To God (Cloud Rule): The more outrageous his hairstyle, the more important a male character is to the story.
  14. 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 (or on fire) 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.
  15. Hey, I Know You! You will accumulate at least three of these obligatory party members:
  16. Hey, I Know You, Too! You will also confront/be confronted by at least three of these obligatory antagonists:
  17. Hey, I Know You, Three! Furthermore, expect to encounter most of the following obligatory non-player characters (NPCs):
  18. Crono's Complaint: The less the main character talks, the more words are put into his mouth, and therefore the more trouble he gets into through no fault of his own.
  19. "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. (See also Katanas Are Just Better)
  20. 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 possessions, and demands to know if they've seen a black-caped man. People can get used to anything, apparently.
  21. 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.
  22. 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?
  23. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Melfice Rule): If the male hero has an older sibling, the sibling will also be male and will turn out to be one of the major villains. If the hero has a younger sibling, the sibling will be female and will be kidnapped and held hostage by the villains. (A special version of the Theory of Narrative Causality; related to Luke, I Am Your Father and Long Lost Sibling)
  24. Capitalism Is A Harsh Mistress: Once you sell something to a shopkeeper, he instantly sells it to somebody else and you will never see the item again no matter what. (Not related to Adam Smith Hates Your Guts... but he does, and would like you to know that.)

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