"Mumble, mumble... overworked... mumble... underpaid... no control over my life..."
—The Hero (talking to himself), Quest for Glory 1 (VGA remake)
So, you want to be a hero?Back in the 80s and throughout the 90s, Sierra was big in adventures. We had King's Quest, Police Quest, Space Quest and everything you could stick a "Quest" to (and a couple of other ones). What most of these have in common, though, was that they used variants on the same engine and thus had the same game play, first using the parser ("get item") then using a more "traditional" (for adventures) point and click interface.One series that differed a bit from this formula, however, was the Quest for Glory series, using a Mix And Match of Adventure and RPG. But that was not everything; the games also were a brilliant (and hilarious) Affectionate Parody of the adventure genre and had a very strong continuity despite being spread out over the course of nine years. Originally called Hero's Quest, before copyright issues with Milton Bradley resulted in them changing the name.Planned originally as a quartet of games, Quest for Glory follows the adventures of an unnamed hero, from his very first trials to the point where he finally becomes a true hero - and beyond. The series is well remembered by fans for its ability to seamlessly combine epic fantasy stories often of surprising complexities with unique and colorful locations and surreal humor worthy of a Lucasarts game into one strong package.The games are, in chronological order:
Quest for Glory was created and designed by husband-wife couple Lori Ann Cole and Corey Cole. They have tried to buy the rights to the series from Sierra (now owned by Activision), though to no avail. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign they are working on a Spiritual Successor of sorts calledHero-U: Rogue to Redemption set in the same world as Quest For Glory (In fact set on one of the islands that appear in Quest For Glory V).The entire series can be purchased at GOG.com. The second game has a VGA fan remake that is compatible with modern computers.
Anti-Hero: The Thief character can do some pretty dickish things in his sidequests. Despite all this, the Thief is ultimately a good person, as he will still save the realm in each game. It's sometimes funny when your friends introduce you to others as an acrobat or spy, mostly because they're too embarrassed to admit you're a criminal.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Hero's summon staff spell. In both the third and fourth installment, all spells you cast with the staff don't cost any mana points and do double damage. The downside is that none of your spells will improve in skill. Worse, the staff can't be used in close combat and walking will cause it to disappear.
Bag of Spilling: Played with; games 2, 3, and 5 partially avert it by letting you retain your money and some of your items (though your money is confiscated near the climax of 2, limiting you to the "prize money" you get for saving Raseir, which is still not that great: you only take 250 Dinars to Tarna, when the reward was well over 1000.). Game 4 plays it straight with the justification of a botched teleport spell, but in the long run there's a slight subversion as in game 5, Rakeesh will return something that you left behind when you teleported.
For thieves, this actually makes Dragon Fire a bit easier: A character transferred from Shadows of Darkness will retain the false Blackbird from the monastery, which you can then swap for the real one in order to steal it from Ferrari. If you don't transfer, the only way to get a false Blackbird is by showing the real one to Wolfie before you hand it over to Ferrari.
Battle Theme Music: In all the games, though how it is done varies. Some games simply have the same tune in all battles, or have one or two variants (ie. easy and hard combat). The fourth game has individual themes for every foe, some of which may qualify as Crowning Music of Awesome, due to the Power of Rock.
Belly Dancer: The profession of the slinky and seductive Nawar, one of the possible love interests for the Hero. The zaftig bar tender/former harem girl Budar also does this in the fifth game, as does the Hero himself (the comedic male version of the trope). In the second game, the Hero's Katta friend Shema dances in the inn owned by her and her husband.
Although Spielburg is supposed to be Germanic, not much German is actually used apart from the names of various characters; but the guildmaster does say "Ja" occasionally.
Many of the townsfolk of Shapeir speak Arabic, and the street names are also mostly Arabic (and untranslated except in the remake); also, Suleiman bin Daoud is Arabic for Solomon, son of David.
The residents of Tarna mostly speak Arabic, while the Simbani speak Swahili.
As with Spielburg, not much Russian is used in Mordavia, other than the occasional "Da" and various mythological creatures such as the Domovoi. Although "Chernovy" isn't actually a Russian word, it does sound a bit like the Russian word that means "dark" or "black." (cf. Chernobog.)
Most Silmarians speak Greek, a merchant from Punjabi in Inja speaks Hindi, and Shakra speaks Swahili.
Bloodier and Gorier: In Quest for Glory III, many death animations show the hero melting, (if poisoned,) impaled by a spear, or turning into a food product such as a hamburger or (in a famous easter egg) a pizza. (When eaten. And no, it is not as graphic as you think.) While it is not overly bloody, it is certainly more so than the first two games. This is surprisingly Inverted in the fourth and darkest game, in which some deaths just show (vegetarian!) food products if the hero is eaten, and most deaths just show the hero falling. Only few examples avert this.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: The series does this often to varying degrees, Sierra's wry brand of humor being part and parcel. This is done more often earlier in the series, but is present all the way through.
The second game certainly bends the fourth wall, at the very least: If you ask the guard directions to something in the desert, he gives you the distance in "skareens", which he defines, if you ask him, as "the distance from here to there", meaning the distance from any one point to the corresponding point on the next screen.
The VGA remake of the first game doesn't allow you to rob the sheriff's safe twice or you will be arrested for "blatant power-gaming."
You can literally do this by trying to attack Julanar in the second.
The fan-remake of the second game adds another one: if you request Katrina as your sponsor for the WIT exams, the wizards are so incensed that they teleport you to the Mordavian swamps, with your Have a Nice Death message informing you that you aren't strong enough to survive because you skipped a game.
Brick Joke: The QG3 documentation lists "Thermonuclear Blast" as a possible spell. It only appears at the end if the demon succeeds in opening the gate for the Bigger Bad to pass through. In QG5, someone finds a scroll enabling the player character to learn the spell, which could be used to defeat the dragon in the final battle.
Cap: Statistics are maxed out at 100, multiplied by instalment number. If you cheat and set it above the cap, it will reduce it back to the cap as soon as the skill is trained.
A couple of exceptions: In the second game, you get the opportunity to raise two stats of your choice by 50 each, giving you a potential maximum score of 250 in those two stats. And in the fifth game, certain stats (depending on your class) have a cap of 550 rather than 500. Wizards, for example, cap Intelligence and Magic at 550.
Chekhov's Skill: An odd example: Towards the middle of Quest for Glory III, fighters and paladins learn to throw javelins in order to be initiated into the warrior tribe. It is used at the end of the game to beat the Big Bad. However, at the end of Quest for Glory IV, a fighter or paladin defeats the villain by throwing a javelin at him.
Cherry Tapping: You can pick up an infinite number of rocks from the ground and throw them. Normally, the reason for this is either to knock down an item that's in a high place, or to build up the Throwing skill. They can also be thrown at enemies, but they do only a tiny sliver of damage. If you have enough time on your hands, you can avoid combat and defeat many enemies by throwing rocks at them. Lots and LOTS of rocks. Oh, and rocks have weight, so you'll have to keep picking them up as you run away. Have fun!
Compilation Re-release: All five official games, including both the original and enhanced versions of the QFG1.
Copy Protection: Conspicuously absent, considering Sierra's penchant for manual-based copy protection at the time. The only game with copy protection is the fourth game (both disc and CD versions). All five games have a lot of really useful information in the manualsnote for example, the first game's manual states that kobolds hate bright light, which is why they hide in caves, and is the only direct hint you get that suggests you should blind the kobold you fight with the Dazzle spell, but none of it is strictly necessary.
The VGA remake claims that the manual is necessary to complete the game, but there's nothing vital in there that you couldn't figure out on your own.
Critical Encumbrance Failure: You're totally fine until the narration says "You're carrying so much that you can hardly move", at which point (depending on the game), you're either slowed down significantly, or you start to lose stamina simply by walking. Or both.
Critical Existence Failure: As long as you have one health point remaining, you're fine. In an interesting variation, if you're in battle and run out of stamina, you'll be too exhausted to continue fighting and promptly killed. If you escape from battle and run out of stamina while running, however, you'll be fine (you'll lose health for running without stamina though, and you can run yourself to death).
Crossover Cosmology: Baba Yaga, Djinns and more exist within the same universe, depending on the place.
Defeating the Undefeatable: The Dragon of Doom in the fifth game is so powerful, it can only be sealed, never killed. The hero is powerful enough to kill the dragon.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Certain commands produce amusing results; the most famous is "pick nose", which has you use your lockpick on yourself, either killing you or opening your nose depending on how skilled you are. Trial by Fire has a few of its own, such as "put down lamp" making your character verbally abuse the item, "drop lamp" makes you break up with it, and "give Ferrari the bird" has... well... the obvious result.
The dev team clearly does not think of everything, considering how frequent (especially) the fourth game crashes with the error message "you tried something we didn't think of".
The "pick nose"-thing was taken even further in the remake of the second game. Not only could you pick your nose, but surrounding characters actually had a wide range of reactions to it... ranging from giving you a weird look, making fun of you, or throwing you out of their house.
The Dragon: Several, but Khaveen from Trial by Fire is probably the most archetypical.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Your character is rarely referred to by name. The first and fourth game, you're called "Hero", the second one "Effendi", and the third and fifth games "Prince of Shapeir." This is understandable in the last two games, as they are fully voiced.
The Fair Folk: The fairies of the first game are adorable pixies with a childish demeanour who will happily provide you with fairy dust if you dance with them... and screw with them, walk into their fairy circle at night, or even just not give them a straight answer, and they will dance you to death.
In Shadows of Darkness, the fair folk are portrayed as still somewhat capricious, but more elfin. Erana, one potential love interest, is part fairy, albeit not at all capricious.
Fan Sequel: QFG4.5 "So You Thought You Were a Hero?" is a parody sequel to the fourth game which disregards the fifth and largely takes place in Spielburg. Also various others in production that never seem to get anywhere (Hero6 being the most prominent example) and a bunch of parodies including Quest For Orgy, and Quest for Yrolg.
Fantastic Racism: The Liontaur-run city of Tarna is an example. A lot of liontaurs make no secret out of the fact that they consider humans an inferior species. Humans and most liontaurs live segregated in Tarna, with humans being forbidden to enter the liontaur section of the city. Liontaurs are the only ruling class and humans have to live on the lower plateaus of the city, so liontaurs literally look down on them.
Fast-Forward Mechanic: The games allow you to rest your Hero in intervals from 10-60 game minutes, or "sleep until morning". In some areas the latter may trigger Have a Nice Death on the assumption that some monster killed you while you slept.
Feelies: The DOS games came with "The Famous Adventurer's Correspondence School" books.
Fetch Quest: Naturally, some of the quests fall into this category. The adventure game/RPG hybrid nature helps here though, and lots of times you need to think on how to restore the soul of a woman turned into a tree, how to build a flying machine, or how to capture a baby antwerp, rather than simply ferrying raw materials to some guy who'll do the thinking for you.
Fictional Document: Included with the documentation for each game was a correspondence course from Famous Adventurer's Correspondence School. This course gave insight into the lore of Gloriana as well as also (sometimes hidden) tips that would prove useful later on during the actual gameplay.
Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three classes your character can be, and the page image. A fourth class, Paladin, can later be unlocked.
Flat Earth Atheist: A lot of the Scientists believe there is no such thing as magic... in spite of there being plenty of mages whose magic is easy to verify empirically that it does indeed work. In the last game, some went so far as to try and murder a few of them. It turns out that they consider all magic that does work to be "the crime of altering reality".
Flaming Sword: If you're a Paladin. It does a bit more damage than the non-flaming variety (affected by your Honor rating), and can defeat Earth Elementals to boot.
In the first game, you need to get past a bear without killing him, and the only way to do that is by giving him one of your food rations. You also have to barter with a Frost Giant, who specifically wants a couple of "handfuls" of fruit. And the first time you encounter Baba Yaga, you need to convince her not to eat you by offering her something "better" to eat instead.
In the second game, you need to pluck some hairs from a transformed creature, but first you need to placate it with some food and/or water.
In the third game, the only way to gain Harami's trust is by offering him food. (He won't accept money, because nobody will sell anything to him.)
In the fourth game, you meet Baba Yaga again, who sends you on another Fetch Quest for some more food, again with the threat of eating you if you don't deliver.
In the fifth game, the only way to gain the trust of the scientists Pretorius and Mobius is by offering them their respective favorite pizzas. Later, you can either fight your way past Cerberus to enter the Underworld, or bribe him with food.
Food Porn: Anything made by Shema, Sloree, Scoree, or Marrak. Subverted to the point of Nausea Fuel by Gnome Ann's cooks.
Foreign Queasine: The meals served at the Welcome Inn in Tarna are all described as looking strange, even though they smell delicious. (Even a simple plate of fruit and rice...)
Foreshadowing: The Blackbird statuette in the Brigand leader's office in Quest for Glory 1. If you're a thief, you spend the next four games hunting it down.
Though she does appreciate them anyway for the pollen/seeds to plant more flowers.
Furry Confusion: Katta and Liontaurs exist alongside housecats and lions. Of course, following the Word of God, the situation may be something similar to how humans view apes.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Averted at times, played straight at others. You can't accomplish certain actions without having a sufficiently high corresponding stat (the swamp in Mordavia comes to mind: if you have a high enough strength stat, you can slog through it slowly, otherwise you slog through it slowly and it sucks your stamina faster than anything else in the game). In other cases, your stats have no bearing on the outcome whatsoever, though these are mostly puzzles (there's no way to take into account the hero's intelligence score without screwing with the player).
Gargle Blaster: Dragon's Breath, which appears in the first game and is instantly fatal. It turns up again as a Drink of the Day in the fifth, and by that point you're strong enough to take it (though you still turn red and bounce around like a Looney Tunes character). Some of the other alcoholic drinks in the series, like Troll Sweat and Djinn Slings, could also qualify.
In the fifth game, you can give Dragon's Breath to the marmaids, who simply drink it without difficulty. Only the hero has trouble drinking it.
Notably, any time you can have an alcoholic drink, you're usually better served by declining (or choosing something else to drink). Alcohol is either a waste of money, or makes things harder in the short term.
Half-Human Hybrid: Erana and Zara, half human, half faerie folk. Yorick is also commented on seemingly "having Gnomish blood in him". Also, Goons are considered half-human, half-ogre.
Handshake Substitute: The Thief Sign, which is incredibly silly on purpose, so that non-Thieves will just write it off as a seizure or something.
To identify yourself as a Thief, you must make the proper 'Thief Sign'. This consists of placing your thumb upon your nose with the hand held perpendicular to the face and the fingers outspread. You then wiggle your fingers while focusing your eyes on your thumb and patting your belly with the other hand.
Heroic Mime: From the third game on, whenever you "speak", a dialogue box says something like: "you tell the people about your exploits". He has said a few things in the earlier games, mainly to Aziza and to himself, as well as have the narration box quote you.
Heroic RROD: The hero can deplete his stamina and overexert himself to death.
Heroic Sacrifice: Katrina in the fourth game. Gort, Toro, Erana, and possibly the protagonist when facing the Dragon. All of the above are intentional, and the first is perhaps the best example, as if the player is engaged to Erana, and tells her that he will sacrifice himself, after her protest (and, as I recall, declaration that she'd rather she die than the player), Gort instead offers to sacrifice himself so that the couple can be together. Points are awarded for averting this as it's considerably more difficult: the sacrifice cuts the dragon's health in half.
In QFG5, while in Hades when asked which love interest to choose, the Protagonist must give up part of his own life in order to bring one of them back from the dead. This means you lose half your Vitality score, which you can earn back by grinding on the treadmill at the Adventurers' Guild.
Erana in the backstory.
Toby also from the fourth game.
Rakeesh tried to do that, but it didn't work out so well.
Hopeless Boss Fight: One is present at the end of Quest for Glory III. As the Hero and his newly-arrived allies make their way into the Lost City in search of the World Gate allowing Demons access to the world of Glorianna, they must each fight an Evil Twin of themselves. It doesn't matter how high your character's stats are, what abilities or spells you have, or how good you are with the combat system, the player cannot defeat his doppelganger. As the fight drags on and the Hero is close to being defeated, Harami, who at first refused to fight, arrives and Backstabs the Hero's double, distracting it long enough for the Hero to escape the fight and head for the final confrontation with the Big Bad.
I'm a Humanitarian: Recurring villainess Baba Yaga is on the "sapients eating other sapients" corollary of this trope, as she is an Ogre, not a human.
Improv: In the fourth game, the voice actors of the three farmers in the inn actually abandoned their own scripts and improvised their lines based loosely on the actual ones, resulting in hilarious dialog that's only captured in the voice friendly version of the game.
It Only Works Once: The Ultimate Joke. Also, the thermonuclear blast spell, albeit for different reasons.
Jack-of-All-Trades: It is easy to make the Hero into one of these, especially if you start with the first game and import your character to the others - it's relatively cheap to buy new skills in the first game, and gets progressively more expensive in the later games. So yes, you can be a Fighter or Thief who can cast a few spells, or a Magic User who can throw rocks and climb trees like a pro.
It's even easier considering that stats are leveled by performing associated actions instead of with XP. As long as you have some points in a skill, you can increase it by using it. It's possible to start out with very low stats in just about everything and then eventually max them all out (although it makes the early game a lot harder.)
The game does use Experience Points, however, as a Cap. So no matter how hard you try in the first two games, you will eventually reach a plateau that requires more adventuring before your training can continue at a reasonable pace (you can grind it if you really want to). From the third game on, this cap is removed, presumably because repeating actions became slightly more time-consuming with the point-and-click interface.
Karma Meter: Honor, but only barely. It only matters if you want to be a Paladin, or already are (allowing you to unlock new skills). Wizards who want to marry Erana also need sufficiently high honor.
Keet: Wolfie and Kalb are a pair of energetic, excitable dog merchants from III and V, with a bit of a penchant for being Extreme Doormats (Wolfie is more impressed than he should be at getting pickpocketed, and Kalb can be haggled down to being given a single common for his wares without complaint.)
Knife Nut: Bruno in the first game and fifth game, as the ASSASSIN.
The Chief of The Thief Guild in the first game also qualifies. Any hostile action towards him or Bruno in the first game invariably results in a throwing dagger through the heart.
The player can become one as well (in gameplay terms at least), if you buy a ton of daggers and max out your Throwing skill. It's possible to hurl daggers at enemies and kill them before they can close to melee range.
Or if you don't want to spend money on daggers, you can do the same thing with rocks. They're free and do a surprising amount of damage.
Knight Errant: Let's face it, the capacity for evil of all classes of Hero are limited, but the Paladin is the exemplar of the Knight Errant. Rakeesh also meets the criteria for a Knight Errant. He's somewhat past his prime by the time he and the Hero meet, but that doesn't stop him from getting around.
Lost Forever: It is EASY to mess up becoming a Paladin in the second game, mainly by taking dishonorable actions like killing unarmed people or peeking at dressing slave girls (that being said, there's only one action that will ruin your chances to become a paladin on its own: killing the griffon. Everything else simply affects your chances). May, however, be subverted because you can choose to be a Paladin in the third and fourth game by using your old save.
You also get a second chance to legitimately become a Paladin in the third game, which is somewhat harder to screw up. Only as a fighter this time, though. It actually makes the Fighter Lost Forever instead. It's quite easy to accidentally complete all the requirements of becoming a Paladin, even if you didn't want to. And it doesn't give you a choice either.
If you choose to modify an imported character to have magic power starting in the third game that didn't have it before, you started the new game with every spell previously made available, just like a wizard... except the Zap spell, which could only be learned again in the fifth game.
Mad Scientist: Dr. Cranium in the fourth game, and Drs. Pretorius and Mobius in the fifth. Unifying themes with all of them include obsessive love of pizza and obstinate disbelief (even in the face of the obvious) in all magic.
Also, the Paladin. Or a Paladin with the Magic Skill.
A bug in the third and fourth games had the Paladin's "Heal" ability classified as a spell, even though it used stamina instead of magic power. However, because it showed up in the magic spell section, the game naturally assumed that you had some degree of magical power. If you didn't (Magic skill = zero), then it gave you magical power (magic skill = 5, the absolute minimum). You could then go around collecting a good number of the spells available in the game and building up your magic power.
Meaningful Name: There are tons of these in the series, from the baron's son Barnard (bear) in the first game, and the money changer Dinarzad ("Child of Gold Coins") in the second game all the way up to the final game's Kokeeno Pookameeso ("Red Shirt").
Rakeesh Sah Tarna is the most archetypical mentor and The Obi-Wan. He's an aged hero you come across in the second game, and he will be around for the third and fifth as well. While he is most directly a mentor for fighters and paladins, he will be there to dispense advice regardless of your class.
Erasmus can be considered the Eccentric Mentor, particularly for Wizards. He'll sponsor your entry into the Wizards' Institute of Technocery.
Other minor potential mentors include the spirit of Piotyr in the fourth game, and the Famous Adventurer in the fifth game, the latter of whom wrote all the Famous Adventurer's Correspondence School books.
Merlin and Nimue: Surprisingly averted in 2, as Aziza never really becomes a magic mentor. 4, on the other hand, has an evil version with Katrina and Ad Avis.
Mind over Matter: The Fetch spell. The Open spell could be considered a specialized form of this as well.
Minotaur: Traditional, except not quite as bloodthirsty as in mythology.
Although since we only see two in the entire series, and the second one (Minos' bodyguard) seems to be quite bloodthirsty, it's hard to say which one is the typical example.
Money for Nothing: Present in a few games. Thieves tend to run across this problem, although one might suggest that the journey and the collecting of cash is its own reward. Probably the most prominent in the fourth game, as you can buy everything you need for the entire game in the first visit to the General Store with the cash you picked up in the first room of the game.
III has the same problem as the fourth game, only you're given all the money you need right from the start. There are two factors to make it harder, though: items from the apothecary are prohibitively expensive compared to the previous game, and getting money after you start the game, is actually pretty hard, since there's nothing to collect reward money on, and only three enemies in the game drop money, and in pretty small amounts. If you manage to use up your initial stockpile of cash and need to buy more rations or healing items, you're going to be hurting for a while.
Money Spider: Subverted. Only sentient enemies (Goblins, Leopardmen, Mercenaries, etc.) carry money on their person. If you kill a wild Purple Saurus or a feral Necrotaur, you get bupkis. That said, certain monsters have parts that can be sold to local apothecaries, like the Cheetaur's claws or the Scorpion's tail.
Motifs: The series was intentionally designed with each game representing a cardinal direction, season, element, and specific mythos. Some of it is a bit arbitrary.
So You Want To Be A Hero: North, Spring, Earth, Germanic. Spielburg is north of the other places you journey. The game takes place in early spring, plus this is the beginning of the Hero's journey. Earth could be reflecting the mountain terrain. However, the protagonist is consistently called "hero from the east".
Trial By Fire: South, Summer, Fire, Middle Eastern. Shapeir, being an expy of the Middle East, is far to the south. Not only is it summer now, but the hero has proven himself and is surrounded by friends and admirers. While all four (five?) elements are present in the elementals, the scorching desert clearly represents fire.
Shadows of Darkness: East, Autumn, Air, Slavic. Mordavia, again, is situated in the east. Autumn is particularly appropriate here. Not only is it that time of year, but the land is losing itself, like the trees that lose their leaves. Similarly, the hero is stripped of his equipment, allies, and even his fame. Air relates to the big bad's plot to darken the sky.
Dragon Fire: West, Winter, Water, Greek. Oddly, despite being an expy of Greece, Silmaria is apparently to the west. Water is very appropriate, as your quests take you from one island to another. Winter reflects the hero, growing a bit weary of his long travels is looking for a place to rest. Silmaria itself has extremely mild winters, so it's not terribly obvious that it's winter at all, but from the graphics it would seem like this game is spring and the first one is winter.
Non Combat Exp: There are not experience levels, the skills are improved by performing them.
Non-Human Sidekick: Manu the monkey in the third game, for the Hero. Some NPC wizards also have familiars, most notably Fenrus (the rat familiar of Erasmus). Frequently misspelled as Fenris in the fifth game.
Our Centaurs Are Different: Centaurs which are perfectly civilized, but it also features cheetaurs, an all black feline with a humanoid torso topped with feline head, which are quite feral. They later added liontaur, which were much like the cheetaur but with lions, though they were actually civilized, ruling a very Egypt-inspired city.
Petting Zoo People: So very many... The setting favors these over the traditional Elves and Dwarves of Tolkien/D&D style fantasy.
Jackalmen, race of nocturnal bandits in the second game. Attack in groups.
After you rescue Elsa in the first game, you cannot visit the castle.
After you take the caravan to Raseir in the second game, you can't go back to Shapeir.
After the Peace Conference in the third game, you can't visit Tarna, the Simbani village, or the Leopardmen's village.
After exiting the Dark One's Cave at the beginning of the fourth game, you can't go back in. After getting geased by Katrina, you must find the rituals and come back to the castle within three days. And once you do that, you can't leave the Dark One's Cave again.
After Erasmus is drugged in the fifth game, you can't go back up to his house unless you're a Wizard, and only once if you are. After Shakra is drugged, you can't enter his shop or buy anything he sells.
In some instances it's referred to as being courtesy of the Recycled Prop Department of Sierra On-line.
In the manuals going back to the very first game, dragons are listed as a possible creature to fight, with the advice always being "run away" or some shade thereof. The culmination of the series? Killing a dragon. Finally.
At least most of the games have cameos by various comedians. The first had the Three Stooges as part of the Brigands, the second had Groucho Marx as a used saurus salesman and Harpo Marx as a random encounter in the Shapierian alleyways, the third had Sanford and Son as the Junk Dealers, and while there wasn't a direct cameo in the fourth game, the VA of one of the Mordavian townspeople is clearly doing a Rodney Dangerfield impression.
Science Is Wrong: Scientists tend not to be portrayed positively, being either obstinate, foolish, or even malicious, and they fanatically cling to their belief in a purely scientific reality in a world where people can literally shoot lightning from their hands. Meanwhile, homeopathy is a legitimate means of curing things (though most likely involves the judicious use of magic).
In fact, the roles of Mages and Scientists are the opposite of Real Life. Wizards are the ones who are actually studying the world, while scientists are deluded fools.
That's scientists. Science itself can actually be quite useful, particularly when your Hero crafts his own hot air balloon without a drop of magic needed in its construction.
Screw Destiny: In the fifth game, a prophecy says it will take a willing sacrifice to seal the dragon. Or you can just be powerful and badass enough to outright kill the thing!
This seems to happen in the second game as well, but Big Bad Ad Avis had the wrong version of the prophecy. Except He Who Waits Behind.
An example in the manual for QFG4 explains that a law that is not right can be ignored by a Paladin, because law and order mean little if they are used to oppress. The hero occasionally gets to indulge in this behavior as well.
The Poet Omar lampshades this in Quest for Glory II:
He won't always follow orders, for he dares to answer, "Why?"
And unless he likes the reason, he refuses to comply.
Sealed Evil in a Can: A bit of an archetype for the series is the Hero preventing the release of one of these, starting with the second game.
Dragon Fire has the Dragon of Doom, and the only one in which you fail to prevent its awakening. Fortunately, after five games, you're finally able to go toe to toe with one of these monstrosities.
Shout-Out: So very many. Just to begin with, each game features a nod to a famous comedian or comedy troupe, including the Three Stooges in QFG1, the Marx Brothers in QFG2, Sanford & Son and Laurel & Hardy in QFG3, and Rodney Dangerfield in QFG4 (sadly, Dragon Fire lacked such a reference).
The entire series has a running gag reference to The Maltese Falcon in the form of the Blackbird statue. For most classes it's just a Shout-Out, but to Thieves it becomes a running subplot that pays off in Dragon Fire.
The ending of QFG3 spoils QFG4. Ad Avis's return would be more shocking if you didn't see him summoning you at the end of the previous game..
To be fair, it's not exactly a big secret considering Aziza's recap at the start of the game explicitly mentions both that Ad Avis called out to his master before death and, more importantly, that they Never Found the Body.
On the other hand, Ad Avis's magic was supposed to have been released, and felt by mages the world over.
Well, he DID die. And he spent the next few months in a land saturated by dark magic, so he could have regained whatever he had lost (and then some).
Start X to Stop X: Quest for Glory II, III, and IV all have this. In IV, for example, the only way to drive the Dark One away from Mordavia is by completing the rituals to summon it TO Mordavia (in order to also free the spirit of Erana who was also trapped with the Dark One, so she could complete her spell of banishment).
Note that the hero actually considers this a really bad idea ( he had no idea if Erana was still alive and didn't know if he could defeat the Dark One), but he's forced into doing it. He would have been happy to leave well enough alone if the pass out of the valley was survivable.
The spell only made Elsa forget who she was. It didn't affect her fighting skills at all. She really is that good.
Talking Animal: Fenrus the rat, the familiar of Erasmus (also a Pungeon Master), a fox who gives you some advice in the first game, and Manu the monkey in the third.
The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Well, it sorta will. If you attack Julanar in the second game, the attack will rebound straight towards you (the player). Fortunately, the glass of your monitor stops it. Unfortunately, it's treated as a death as you have to go get a new monitor.
Thieves' Guild: A staple in the series for Thief characters. There are active guilds in the first and fifth games. The fourth has a guild that's mostly abandoned.
Tightrope Walking: The thief gets a chance to demonstrate his balance on numerous occasions: from the humble beginnings of shuffling over a tree branch, to creeping around on tightropes twenty feet above the head of a demon wizard.
Too Dumb to Live: A character can train his lockpicking skill by typing "Pick Nose". If your skill is too low, you jam the lockpick in your nose and kill yourself.
And if you succeed, you get the congratulatory message "Success! Your nose is now open." As mentioned, this trains your lockpicking skill, and is probably the safest way to do so once you can do it without dying.
Any fight that you're obviously losing and don't run away from. You idiot.
Asking the sheriff of Spielburg where you might find the Thieves Guild. You moron.
Every one of the games allow you to use the thieves' sign. If the person isn't a thief, they just think you're having a fit of some kind and get a little worried. This is why it's the preferred method to contact other thieves.
The sheer number of stupid ways for you to die in the first game is impressive. You can shoot yourself with your own spells, throw rocks and daggers into your own face, and you can decide to sleep in the middle of a hostile forest. You get better as time progresses and things that would kill you in the first game merely hurt later on (try out the Dragon's Breath in the fifth game, it's surprisingly non-fatal).
Unwinnable: Mostly averted. While there are instances of this (it is a Sierra series after all), most of the deaths are either the result of the hero not being strong enough, not being careful enough, or just a case of Violation of Common Sense like dropping your own sword before combat.
One particular case: Mages who qualify as Paladins for the third game (after being imported from the second one) MUST acquire the throwing skill, either by wishing for it from the Djinn at the end of the 2nd game or by buying it (at severe cost) at character creation. Winning a throwing event is necessary for the plot to advance in the third game (The leopardman prisoner only appears after you defeated Uhura at the targets), and if the new paladin starts the game without the skill, he will never get the chance to learn it, let alone win the needed challenge, making the game unwinnable from the start! The equivalent plot-advancement quest for mages (acquiring a staff, which causes the game to make the prisoner appear) is not available to Paladins, even if the paladin is a former mage, he cannot make the plot move forward at all.
Another instance is burning down the evil monastery before getting everything you need. Yes, this is possible, and no, you can't win the game if you do so.
Paw Dugan learned the hard way to not steal from the Healer in the first game, as she will refuse to deal with you once she notices the theft. If you steal from her before she's made the dispel potion, you're screwed.
Useless Useful Spell: Later in the series, particularly in Quest for Glory V, there is a gradual increase on the emphasis of combat magic, and many of the utility spells become much less important, if not outright useless.
The Paladin's danger sense really offers nothing of value to the player. Usually when it triggers the player is already aware they are in a dangerous situation without it (as being a Sierra game, this amounts to about 90% of the game screens), and the warning is only a vague or undefined sense of trouble. When there is something specific triggering it, it's blindingly obvious even without the danger sense. This is especially egregious with the Random Encounters in Quest for Glory III, when the player is told their Paladin senses are alerting them to danger after they have already been dropped from the map screen and the monster is bearing down on them.
Utility Magic: A significant portion of the Magic User's spells set consists of this, especially in early games. Fetch, Open, Detect Magic, Trigger, and even Levitate can all be considered spells with mundane uses. The trick comes when the more clever puzzles require the Hero to use these spells in unique ways. In later games, more flashy offense and defense spells get thrown on top of the heap, but these spells rarely lose their efficacy.
Vapor Wear: Uhura of the Simbani wears only a large tribal necklace as a top in the third game, and in the remake of the second. Justified as it's the standard garb of a Simbani warrior.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Despite the protagonist's supposedly noble demeanor, you can get away with a staggering amount of cold-blooded butchery without a game over: Killing a helpless talking fox, killing the baronet of Spielburg, and killing the Chief Thief in Mordavia, just to name a few.
The games do draw a line, though: if you break into Nikolai's house and kill him, for example, you get an immediate game over for being an asshole.
This may also be a matter of perspective in many cases. The Baronet has been turned into a bear and is trying to kill you, it takes extra work to rescue him). Killing the fox may be a newbie blunder. The Chief Thief is the chief thief, beyond the fact that he killed and possibly consumed the other thieves in his guild.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Despite the above, going out of your way to be a complete psychopath can get you killed off by the game for being an asshole. In one memorable event, attacking a helpless tree-girl will break your monitor.
Also, the Calm spell is very useful for avoiding combat. There are even a few bosses you can skip with it, like Toro the Minotaur in QFG1 and Khaveen in QFG2.
Of course, don't bother using Calm in combat. All it will do is make the monster/enemy calmly kill you. Whoops!
Using it right before combat begins (When the enemy is still approaching you) is quite effective, though.
Wizard Needs Food Badly: You die of starvation if you go too long without eating and can dehydrate without drinking in the second game.
Due to a design oversight, it's not possible to die of starvation in either version of the first game, as was found out when someone put together a series of videos showing the ways to die in the series.
Prolonged lack of sleep makes you lose stamina and health and may kill you. However sleeping from "It's not yet dawn" to morning is considered long enough. On the other hand, some nightmares you get near Erana's staff in game IV do not count as sleep.
Wandering the savannah in III for a while with no food may have the player encounter the Awful Waffle Walker, a giant sentient waffle that constantly chases them and won't leave until it's eaten.
Wizards Live Longer And Are Older than They Look: Erasmus is implied to be over 100 years old (having built his house on Zauberberg a century ago), while Ad Avis first met the Dark Master 70 years ago and was presumably already an adult at the time, making him roughly 90 years old. Most other wizards' ages are justifiedone wayor another.