The first Suikoden game on the PS2, Suikoden III revolves around several smaller groups of heroes long before the Stars of Destiny come into play. Set fifteen years after the events of Suikoden II, it begins with an uneasy cease-fire between the Grassland tribes and the mercantile nation of the Zexen Confederacy. Meanwhile, the Holy Kingdom of Harmonia is waiting for a secret truce with the Grasslanders to hurry up and expire so they can launch their own offensive. This simmering pot of tensions boils over with a single horrific act, and the chain of events is filtered through the eyes — and guided by the actions of — several protagonists:
Hugo, the young son of the Karayan chieftess Lucia
Chris Lightfellow, commander of the Zexen Knights
Geddoe, head of the 12th Unit of the Harmonian Southern Frontier Defense Force
Thomas, a meek and unassuming young man given charge of the crumbling and neglected Budehuc Castle
In this way, the game introduces many of the Stars of Destiny in smaller groups, resulting in more Character Development and allowing the player a much more extensive view into the motivations of every faction involved in the conflict, up to the point where the storylines merge and the heroes unite against a common enemy.Also, the manga adaptation is awesome incarnate, as this wiki itself will tell you.
Alas, Poor Villain: Luc's chapter is this in a nutshell. We learn that the real reason he was trying to destroy the True Wind Rune was to prevent the series' actual Big Bad from using all of the True Runes to create a dystopia. Then there's Sarah telling Luc that she's in love with him, minutes before they die together. Finally, there's Leknaat forgiving the spirit of her former student and telling him that he is allowed to rest.
And Now for Someone Completely Different: The Trinity Sight System, as outlined above, cast players in the role of several different heroes. Also factored into the Multiple Endings: gathering all 104 heroes before the final war battle unlocked the final scenario, replaying through the events of the game as viewed by the final four Stars — the villains.
Badass: The ducks tribe looks ridiculous, but Sgt. Joe will earn your respect.
Bare-Fisted Monk: A number of characters use fists to fight (except Kenji, he uses calisthenics). Juan and Emily are probably the most notable for being absolute GameBreakers at higher levels.
Badass Crew: Geddoe's 5 (later 6) men ensemble, which you can't swap around for a majority of the game. You don't really need to. There's also Duke's crew, which only consists of four people.
Bathtub Bonding: Going to the bath with certain parties renders some very funny dialogues.
Bishōnen: A staple in every Suikoden. This installment presents Hugo, Nash, Borus, Percival, Jacques, Caesar, Albert, the Flame Champion, Luc, Yuber, Sasarai, Fred, Futch, Tuta, Edge, Juan, and there's likely still more.
It's the norm for Suikoden games and this one is leaps and bounds over the previous two games, but there are still occasions where lines make absolutely no sense. Often happens when a line is supposed to be indirectly snarky.
The manga earns this for the English translation having moments of not only being inconsistent to the spellings/terms used in the games, but at times being inconsistent between volumes.
Eike is possibly more subdued case of this. He goes missing for long periods of time, even warranting search parties because he wants to read in a secret shelter. He's not entirely in the same world as the rest of his group to say the least.
Albert and most of the Harmonians (Nash, Dios and Sasarai) have these moments as well.
Defeat Means Friendship: Not always right away, but the game's setup results in plenty of matchups between future allies.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Chris for one. Staring off she's as rigid and cold as her armor, but mellows a bit by the end game. Yuiri.
Demonic Dummy: Branky, a nasty, foul-mouthed puppet carried by Genki Girl Mel, who insists she isn't a ventriloquist, and cheerfully bashes Branky's head against various surfaces to punish its arrogance.
Enemy Mine: First, the longtime enemies in both Zexen and the Grasslander tribes unite to defend themselves against the greater threat Harmonia poses. And towards the end, the Harmonian forces unite with them in order to stop Luc.
The Empire: Harmonia makes its first real move in the series here. It's apparently a very huge and powerful empire with a habit of adding other lands and cultures to its own, not unlike ancient Rome.
Toppo, Jacques, Eike, Watari and Ayame. While all of them are pretty silent, Toppo speaks the absolute least.
In Toppo's case, he believes that as an actor, he should save his voice for the stage. Put him in any single play, and he'll drop more lines than all of the above characters do throughout the entire game.
Geddoe is often a man of few words but becomes this trope when put on stage.
Hello, Insert Name Here: You get to name the Flame Champion, however... He's not a playable character; instead, one of the three leads takes up the True Fire Rune — and his name, if you so choose.
Interspecies Romance: It is hinted in this game that Nash married the 1000-year-old vampiress mistress Sierra, a playable character from Suikoden II, whom he met during the first of his gaiden games. Though, considering that she did suck his blood (and that he doesn't seem to have aged a day in the last 15 years), he may no longer be human.
Can be found at the end of most dungeons, guarded by a Mini-Boss... including in the middle of a canyon that the player passes through several times. With the chest mysteriously refilling every time, along with the Mini-Boss coming back.
Also, there are corpses littered around to serve the same purpose.
Jeanne d'Archétype: Chris inherits her position from her dead superior and feels uncomfortable in it but carries it out for the good of Zexen's people.
Fred Maxmillian is exceptionally hammy, especially when it comes to virtues of justice. Ironically this makes him a horrible actor in theater plays.
Other honorable mentions include Yuber, and any of the stars from the Lizard Clan.
There's also Leo and Wan Fu, who actually has a Combination Attack made pretty much entirely of ham and testosterone.
Lizard Folk: One of the major Grasslands tribes. Surprisingly, they're not evil. They live in a huge underground cave and their beds are "nice and chilly" because, being cold-blooded, they can only go to sleep when it's cold.
Multiple Endings: Taken a step further in that any of the three main leads can become the main lead by taking up the True Fire Rune, leading to special endings for each. Also, collecting all the Stars of Destiny adds a Playable Epilogue recapping the events of the game from the villain's point of view.
Chris is not particularly fond of how the Zexen council decides to use its knights, but still will follow the orders while grousing about it.
Sasarai is also an example of this, more in the manga than the game. He's not one for pointless violence but proceeds with his given mission to collect the true runes. It takes the possibility of someone using the runes to effectively nuking the continent to bring him around.
Mythology Gag: Luc will remark that Hugo had similar vibes with Tir and Riou from the previous game. Hugo is not the Tenkai star, but he pretty much held the 'main protagonist' spot, something that Luc wouldn't comment on Geddoe and Chris.
Lilly will get goosebumps if told to play/narrate at the Neclord stage play. Well who can blame her? She nearly got taken as his bride when she's just a kid... and take note that unlike Tengaar, she didn't have the upbringing or training of a warrior and was still far from reaching puberty.
Same play, Nash will always refer Sierra as 'Old Hag Sierra' and makes snide remarks about her.
Heartwrenchingly done in case of Viki or Futch, who still remembered that Luc used to be their ally and now they're practically fighting their ex-ally.
Non-Action Guy: Thomas is the Tenkai Star this time around, but generally lets more capable people do the fighting for him. Still plays an important role in events, however, and goes through some nice Character Development in the process without going all gung-ho for combat. Also, he won't loot bodies for treasure. Or climb ladders, for some reason. His stats are also arguably the worst out of the heroes... Or just the worst, period. It is possible to make him a decent fighter, however.
Older Than They Look: Geddoe (looks 35ish but is actually over 100}, Jimba (Looks like late 20s but is actually about 80), and the Twins (in their 30s and look like androgynous 16 year olds). ALL are justified by their True Runes.
Put Toppo and Shabon in your party. Should Shabon get knocked unconscious during battle, Toppo will go berserk, meaning he will get even stronger than before.
This occurs with a number of character combinations, but in keeping with the trope: Sergeant Joe is a more apparent in-story example to Hugo and Lulu, and berserks when either of the boys are heavily injured or knocked out.
The Quisling: Franz, a Mantor trainer trying to earn second class citizenship for his hometown, Le Buque. Unlike most examples, he's treated Sympathetically (Foolish, but sympathetic) — since everyone else in Le Buque just sit on their asses and complain about the conditions. Geddoe pointed that out in his CMOA.
Rose-Haired Sweetie: Estella inverts the trope by the opposite of the page description. She's an abusive mentor to her only student and lacks any kind of emotional warmth for anyone else.
Simultaneous Arcs: For much of the game, you alternate playing chapters between the three leads. (i.e. Hugo Chapter 1, then Chris Chapter 1, then Geddoe Chapter 1.) The three Chapter 1s cover roughly the same period of time, but from different perspectives.
Spin-Offspring: Emily (Ronnie Bell and Mose from Suikoden I), Sanae (Freed and Yoshino from Suikoden II) Sharon (Milia from game 1 yet again), Fred (Maximillian from the first 2 games' grandson) and his retainer Rico (the granddaughter of Maximillian's own retainer, Sancho), Ceasar and Albert (Silverberg decendants) compensate for the relatively few recurring characters this time around. Belle is implied to be Meg's (from the first two games) daughter.
There's also Goro, the son of Tetsu from Suikoden II, who has followed in his father's footsteps as a bathmaker.
Caesar, with an Older and Wiser Apple returning as his personal mentor. Also, Salome serves as this in the Zexen Knights.
Just about all of the major factions have one except for arguably Geddoe's party, who mostly work behind the scenes and never get into major battles until the routes join together. Albert is this for the antagonists and Dios for the Harmonians.
Stripperific: Unlike the other installments, this game gloriously averts this, as only Estelle is a major example. It is notable that this is the only game in the series where Jeanne averts this trope. She makes up for it later.
Take Your Time: You can actually leave the Very Definitely Final Dungeon at any time you want and spend as much time as you want riding horses, putting on plays, rearranging the furniture and so on. Your enemy will hold off on the whole ceremony to destroy the world thing. note Though it's fun to nab all the other runes first, effectively derailing his plan anyway...
Theme Naming: Geddoe's mercenaries are named: Joker, Queen, Ace and Jacques. Hint: think of a deck of cards. All of which, or at least in Joker's case which hints that the others may be as well, are pseudonyms.
Those Two Guys: Lilly's attendants Reed and Samus. They're Pallete Swaps of each other with notable personality distinction between them.