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.
—The Grand List of Console RPG Clichés, #101
Information's answer to Chekhov's Gun
When provided information in video games, you need not ever take it with a grain of salt. In fact, you can be absolutely confident that the information is entirely accurate. This holds true even if the information is based on nothing but a rumor, or said in passing
or in uncertain terms.
For example, if someone tells you "I think King Samuel's apprentice maybe keeps an Asagron Mythril in the desk of his workshop", you can be absolutely certain that when you travel to the apprentice's workshop and search inside his desk you will find an Asagron Mythril.
Nor do you ever need to consider the source; the delirious town drunk is just as trustworthy as a respected high-ranking government official (often more so
, in fact). The only exception seems to be gossip about your own adventures, and even then they usually get it right.
Commonplace in other media. Indeed, one reason why we are often presented with the true facts before the Malicious Slander
is because the audience will often take the slander as true otherwise, relying on this.
Often goes hand-in-hand with the principle of the Inevitable Tournament
. This often happens in the same kind of story where All Myths Are True
- Nearly every Role-Playing Game in existence.
- Any game in which an NPC promises to let you past somewhere if you pay them a certain amount of the in-game currency, especially obvious if they are enemies and would normally be sure to exploit you.
- Inverted in Final Fantasy VI, where the people of Zozo lie. Always lie, mind you. Nobody ever tells a normal rumor. This culminates with one person saying "Zozo? Never heard of it!"
- There is one guy in the town who tells the truth, but he's of no significance until the second half of the game.
- The boss of the area even goes so far to say that he dislikes fighting and that he'll let you pass by him unscathed. Of course, he immediately attacks you after saying that.
- To find the Chainsaw hidden in the town, you need to Talk to Everyone to find out what time it ISN'T, to set the clock appropriately and open the door.
- Similarly, on planet Dezo from Phantasy Star II, there are two kinds of Translator Microbes available. If you use the wrong one, everybody lies to you — but just like Zozo, it's absolute pathological lying.
- On the same planet in the original game, there's a town where everyone on the eastern side will lie to you.
- Averted in the magnificent RPG/adventure/combat thing that is Star Control II, where some rumors are true, others incomplete or false. The game is largely about figuring out (and fixing) what's been going on, and it's comfy with never giving the player a Cliff's Notes version.
- Note, however, that all of the information you pay for is both true and relevant, if not always useful; this is because the Knowledge Brokers are much better informed than everyone else.
- Inverted by Persona 2 where you have the ability to spread rumors and make them come true. Some of those affected are kinda confused... "I don't know what the mob is, but here's some of their stuff for sale."
- Slightly inverted in Castlevania II, Simon's Quest for the NES. The manual warns you that what the villagers say may not be the truth. Indeed, while some things the NPCs say are true, some are only partially correct, and others are completely wrong.
- This was originally believed to be the result of bad translation, but recently, it was found that the Japanese Script for the game was just as incomprehensible.
- Some of the townsfolk tell you things like what Dracula's rib does or where you can find some of the thirteen "scriptures" which explain what to do at the unpassable cliffs and lakes etc. One villager tells you how to get through the poison marsh, another that it's necessary to get the cross at Laruba's Mansion...Not everything is useless or lies, and the manual does warn you that some of it is. Talking to some of the townspeople is also necessary in order to find out which ones sell you items. The dialogue sets the tone for the atmosphere and type of people you encounter in each town, deepening the game, and some of the utterances are quite funny, adding to the entertainment value. Also you know you're getting nearer the end when the townsfolk are more scared in the towns you come across, which is a useful clue and adds to the ambiance as well.
- Of course, their lies are perfectly justified: you spend most of the game trying to resurrect Dracula, the townspeople don't want Dracula back (despite Simon only doing it so he can slay Drac again to lift a curse on himself), so they lie to you to slow you down.
- Subverted in Nethack, the granddaddy of computer gaming. There are fortune cookies throughout the game, which pull fortunes from two massive files of information: the "true rumors file" follows this trope to the letter, while the "false rumors file" is filled with irrelevant, useless, and even dangerous information ("A cockatrice corpse is guaranteed to be untainted!"). The game also includes an Oracle, who can be paid to tell facts from the true file only, and can even be paid a massive sum to tell you major true secrets, one of which is the answer to an obnoxious Mastermind puzzle in the mid-to-late game.
- Subverted in the ending of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. The Final Boss tells you that the whole "legend of the chosen one" was a rumour he started...and then you go on to make him dead anyway.
- In the Viva Piñata game, there's a character Leafos who guides you through the tutorial and gives you hints. This is subverted later, as 50% of what she tells you turns out to be totally false gossip. Making this a case of Guide Dang It.
- Played straight in Drakengard. The downside of this is that people, including members of your party, barely ever know anything about the important stuff, and it all comes in the form of speculation. The same beings can be referred to as either the Grotesqueries, the Watchers, the gods, as the characters don't know what they are and are just guessing. Anything people tell you that happens to be a concrete fact is almost completely unimportant or irrelevant.
- Ogre Battle subverts this with Sirius. You encounter Sirius at the beginning of the Lake Jannenia level, and he tells you that the local boss is great, he's thinking about joining your rebellion, and it's best to visit him at night. However, doing so is an incredibly bad idea: the local boss turns out to be Sirius, who is actually a werewolf. Played straight in that other people you talk to will mention odd things that hint at what's behind the spoiler (one hidden town will flat out tell you what's going on, but the rest merely hint at it).
- Also averted in the Valley of Kastro. There's a recruitable character there, and every town you visit has a different description of that character. Even the most accurate description doesn't describe that character properly (since the character is described as a member of one class, but is actually a member of another and just considered one of the first class in spirit).
- Amusingly enough, the Sirius example has a grain of truth - while fighting him in his Werewolf form is a great way to get your ass kicked, units killed off by Sirius can come back as Werewolves themselves, having contracted lycanthropy after being beaten down.
- Note that otherwise this trope is played straight: If a town you liberate tells you of a rumor or legend. It's 100% true.
- The RPG Cliche quote derives from the red dragon Ruby in Lunar Eternal Blue, who takes offense to being called a flying cat at every opportunity.
- Exception: Ultima III was notorious for having objects mentioned in one piece of dialog that never appear within the game.
- For that matter, most PC RPGs are immune to this trope. This is almost the exclusive province of console games.
- Yggdra Union. Very, very early in the game, when you're touring the lands of your allies who just so happen to be embroiled in civil wars, you always hear one NPC mention a "wandering magician" who made a small contribution to the chaos. During the game's final chapter, Nessiah says hello.
- Subverted in The Elder Scrolls. In the first game, NPC's would occasionally hint to you that certain political figures in the gameworld were cannibals or doppelgangers. They aren't.
- The Elder Scrolls game tend to avoid the trope, in fact, a good segment of Morrowind consist of finding the correct interpretation of a prophecy, as most of the commonly avoidable ones are inaccurate.
- Morrowind also has the character M'aiq the Liar, who tells the player a bunch of obviously and blatantly false rumours... though a couple of them do have some truth to them.
- Played straight in Fallout 2. Early on, you can take a job in the den to collect a loan from a local hobo. Not only is he unable to pay the full amount, but he also immediately wants to borrow some of the money he does give you back, with a promise to return it to you at some unspecified point in the future. Amazingly enough, he will fulfill that promise, and repay you with massive interest when you return later.
- Averted in GoldenEye. You're told that Xenia Onatopp might be on board the Frigate, so you expect to encounter her. It turns out there's no trace of her ever being there. It was a last minute change. The large helipad was originally going to be a boss fight area.
- The horror adventure Black Mirror 2 features the delirious town drunk, in Black Mirror 3 the gamer has the option to call a fortune teller, if you decide to do so she gives you some cryptic advice which turns out to be helpful in the next chapter.
- Completely, utterly subverted in the first Bioshock. You spend half the game being led around by Atlas, only to find out that he's been lying to you since the beginning about everything, up to and including his name.
- In the 6th Harry Potter book, Dumbledore openly states, that everything from this point on regarding Voldemort is unconfirmed theory and speculation. Despite this, nearly everything Dumbledore says is pretty much dead on. This isn't as farfetched as it sounds as they do have a decent amount of information to base these theories on (and hey, it's Dumbledore).
- Well really, Dumbledore was stretching the truth to breaking point when he said that everything was just speculation, since he later says that he considered his theory confirmed as early as the second book. And as book seven reveals, there are certain elements of his Batman Gambit that he never tells Harry, despite his promise. Though it's not that relevant to the plot, Dumbledore was wrong about the victims used to create the horcruxes: They were not all significant murders. They varied in importance from his biological father to a Muggle Tramp.
- He was also wrong about the victim used to create the Horcrux in Nagini. He speculated it was Frank Bryce, but Word Of God that it was actually Bertha Jorkins, earlier on.
- Harry's own babble is apparently infallible, as all of his ludicrously specific wild guesses about the Hallows turn out to be dead on. For instance, "I bet the Resurrection Stone was in the ring that Voldemort just happened to also turn into a horcrux! And I'm just positive it's inside the snitch Dumbledore gave me!"
- The cursed ring was a stretch, but there isn't much else the snitch could have been for, particularly since it was implied it would "open", and was therefore containing a plot gizmo. Looks like a case of Genre Savvy.
- The Deathly Hallows themselves are a bit of an inversion as well: the Invisibility Cloak is not completely impenetrable (Moody's magic eye was able to see through it, for example) and the Elder Wand is not unbeatable (Dumbledore managed to beat it, but only after what was later and universally dubbed the greatest wizarding duel in history). Nevertheless, both objects are much more powerful than any other in their class, which explains how their legend came about.
- And the Resurrection Stone is basically useless. Not only do the people brought back belong with the dead (as in the story), but you can't actually see them unless you're holding the stone, and they seem otherwise to be about one shade above ghosts. Really hammering home that no magic can raise the dead thing.
- Actually, it's implied that the Resurrection Stone has varied powers. For example, Dumbledore surmised that to Grindelwald would use it to create an army of Inferi. Harry probably subconsciously used it to call the spirits of his loved ones to bolster his courage. He could have probably raised them from the dead "enough" so that others could see them, but likewise, they still wouldn't "belong" in the world of the living, and bad things would happen.
- In earlier books, the fake "prophecies" that Ron and Harry whip up in Divination class have an ironic tendency to come true, despite having been deliberately concocted because they'd both failed to divine anything.
- Professer Trelawney's false predctions also have a tendency to come true.
- Aversion and Lampshading: Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time books have tons of rumors popping up, most of them false. But the series is stuffed with Poor Communication Kills, so the main characters can be very gullible, which is mocked very well in ISAM's parody summaries.
- Sort of comes up in Allegiance. Two Imperials have betrayed Mara Jade, and now they're trying to kill her. She recognizes a tactic they're using, in which one sneaks after her while the other gets talkative, distracting her and covering any noise the first makes. But, she thinks, you are not supposed to give out actual useful information while doing this, and in this case it means they're either stupid or very, very confident. The talking one mentions stormtroopers deserting, which happens to be plot-important.
- In Robert E. Howard's "Shadows In Zamboula", Conan the Barbarian is thoroughly warned about staying with Aram Baksh, where he hired a room.
- In The Hour Of The Dragon, the rumors that Conan is Not Quite Dead spread over the entire kingdom without getting mangled.
- In "The Phoenix On The Sword", Conan the Barbarian has heard the rumors on Epemitreus's ghost, down to his purpose being to aid Aquilonia; Epemitreus has only to explain that Conan's destiny is tied to the land.
- In most of H. P. Lovecraft's stories, especially The Shadow Over Innsmouth, in which, in the titular village, the insane ramblings of the town drunk all seem to be horrifically true.
- Tyrion in A Dance With Dragons treats his father's last words "wherever whores go" as this, considering them to be a crucial hint as to where his lost love Tysha disappeared to.
- Subverted in A Brother's Price. The newspapers make every rumor easily available to everyone, and very little of what they say that the characters notice is true.
- Panic At The Disco's "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" implies that the protagonist is going to leave his fiancee at the altar ("technically our marriage is saved") because he heard a waiter call her a whore.
- The Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay gave the GM several rumours that the players might encounter while talking to people. Some had a grain of truth, most were just rubbish.
- One held that the mayor of some town was a Chaos Cultist who was feeding his cat milk mixed with human blood. Several people swear they heard the mayor telling his cat to "drink your bloody milk!".
- The infamous Head of Vecna.
- An offshoot of this is subverted in Angel. Similar to rumors, Prophecies Are Always Right - except for one of the guiding prophecies of season 3, the one where Angel is supposed to kill his son, which turned out to be planted as a fake. Unfortunately for the person who planted the fake prophecy, not only does the original prophecy he was trying to subvert come true, but his fake prophecy comes true as well.
- Also except for at least one prophecy, which is correct, but horribly mistranslated. In a memorable event at the end of the first season, a prophecy declared that "the vampire with a soul" would "shanshu" - which could mean either "to live" or "to die". Being a bit pessimistic (and confused, since the prophecy amounted to "this guy is either going to live... or he's going to die"), the gang translates "shanshu" as "die", meaning that the prophecy stated that Angel was going to die. At the end of the episode, it turned out that "shanshu" meant both "to live" and "to die" - essentially, "to be mortal", meaning that he would be transformed into a human.
- Also subverted in Firefly, where characters bandy about various theories about the Reavers. Mal suggests they've been separated from civilization too long, and Kaylee suggests they reached the edge of space, saw nothing beyond, and went insane as a result. All of these turn out to be wrong in The Movie, where the Reavers were made via Government Drug Enforcement that all went horribly wrong.
- Played straight with River, whose seemingly random utterances often have a ring of truth to them. It is justified though, as she has psychic powers, allowing her to read minds and see the future. Unfortunately, the medical experimentation used to boost her abilities left her without proper control of them, and she often has trouble understanding what's going on.
- She understands, she just doesn't comprehend.
- Somewhat related: In far too many episodes of The X-Files, Mulder will randomly spout a random guess about the nature of the Monster of the Week. No matter how little information he has, whether that information is remotely reliable, or how many other explanation there could be for it, his random guesses are always right.
- Specifically inverted in the episode "War of the Coprophages", which mostly consists of Scully debunking Mulder's various (increasingly insane) theories about why people in a particular town are dying in cockroach-related ways.
- Inverted in Psych. Shawn regularly tells outlandish lies in an attempt to make himself sound more interesting. And he does this in addition to the gimmick where he claims to be a psychic. An inversion because Shawn knows they're lies and they end up being true in spite of this.
- One Doctor Who executive producer and writer complained at length in a episode commentary about the fact that anytime a sci-fi character starts giving exposition, the audience automatically believes him, despite the fact that he may be very well be wrong or confused.
- In The Doctor's Wife Idris aka the TARDIS in human form says a lot of things, very fast and with pretty much no context. You would be excused for thinking it's utter nonsense, but much of what she says foreshadows something either later in the episode or coming up in the next few episodes. Aside from random observations, like how much fun kissing and biting are, and wondering if fish have fingers.
- In Power Rangers RPM a guard remarks that a Venjix hardware detector has been giving him false positives all day when it goes off on Tenaya 7. In the two-part finale it turns out they weren't.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Giles' first line in "I've Got A Theory" (from "Once More With Feeling"): "I’ve got a theory that it’s a demon! A dancing demon? No something isn’t right there". Actually...
- Also done in "Earshot." When Buffy tells the Scoobies that someone in the cafeteria is planning to kill everyone, Xander quips that he told everyone the lunch lady would do them all in with her mulligan stew. Guess who it turns out to be, and how they were going to do it. Go on, just guess.
- Played with in 2012, in which absolutely everything the zany Conspiracy Theorist spouts turns out to be down-to-the-minute true... except for the arks being spaceships rather than big boats.