Suikoden V is set five years before the events of Suikoden I, and chronicles a period of great internal strife in the Queendom of Falena. Though technically a monarchy, the aristocracy holds so much power within Falena that their squabbles and power-plays threaten to de-stablise the whole country. Complicating matters is the presence of the Sun Rune, an royal artifact of apocalyptic power and one of the 27 True Runes in the world of Suikoden. Years ago, Queen Arshtat bound the Sun Rune to herself to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, but now she is slowly succumbing to its malevolent influence and threatening to unleash a great disaster upon the world.The Player Character is the Prince of Falena, an unimportant figurehead who is not in line to the throne. That is, until a coup d'état forces him out of Falena and into hiding. With his little sister forced to act as the head of a puppet government, it's up to the scrappy royal-in-exile to step out of the shadow of those who would manipulate him for their own ends and gather an army to take back his homeland.The game is filled with Continuity Nods and Shout Outs to Suikoden I and especially Suikoden II, in a deliberate attempt to get back to the series' roots.
Adaptation Expansion: The manga, due to not being as bound to the prince's POV, involves a lot more exploration of the characters. Amongst other things it follows the point of view of the Godwins during their coup d'etat, including Lord Godwin considering his uprising Dirty Business and especially employing his wife's murderers.
Affably Evil: Gizel Godwin. Bahram Luger and Dilber Novum could count if their "evilness" wasn't... debatable.
During the Second Battle of Doraat: Bahram Luger launches a suicide attack on the Dahak to prove that his respect for his mentor and enemy Raja is not holding him back. After Luger gets his ass kicked, Raja has a rather sad chat with her dying student where she tells him that he did well.
During the Battle of Stormfist: Dilber Novum dies defending a castle that now has little strategic significance. When the party asks him why he did it, he explains that he was defending the grave of Lady Godwin, Novum's best friend's wife.
During the Battle of Sol-Falena:
Sialeeds sacrifices herself to prevent the Godwins from using the Sun Rune from wiping out the party. She then lies to the Prince about her chances to recover so he isn't distracted by her death during the rest of the battle.
Gizel Godwin remains in Sol Falena even after it has become clear that the city is going to fall because he feels that it is his duty as Commander of the Queen's Knights. When the Prince confronts him, Gizel admits that all the Godwins have done is harm Falena. He then challenges the Prince to a duel, with the obvious intent of getting himself killed so he can join Sialeeds in death. As he dies, Gizel compliments Lym and says that his one regret is not being able to see what kind of Queen she will become.
All Love Is Unrequited: Roy is in love with Lyon, while Faylen pines over him, while Lyon has feelings for her charge the Prince. Whether or not any of it gets resolved is all up to the ending the player gets.
Gizel states outright he used to love Sialeeds before their marriage was broken up by the Succession Crisis. It's heavily implied he still does, given that he allows her to more or less pursue her own agenda after her 'defection'.
Badass: The beavers look ridiculous, cute and cuddly, which is probably the reason why the bad guys completely underestimate their importance in the river-covered Falena. Not only do the beavers have such good dam-building ability that they can transform the land through river-rerouting but they make terrifying naval shocktroopers, since they can swim out to enemy ships and bite holes in their hulls.
They're also quite good in normal battles. They're faster than hell, multi-hit a LOT, 3 out of 5 of them are great magicians, all but one have the HP-restoring Bath skill, and the 5 of them have a powerful Combination Attack that either instantly kills the target or just deals a crapload of damage.
To put their naval capabilities in perspective, the battle system has a rock-paper-scissors type of unit balancing, so one type of boat is stronger than one other type but weaker to the other. Beaver units are strong against all types. In fact, just keep a healing unit handy and you can pretty much solo any water-terrain encounters with them.
Badass Grandpa: Raja, the retired navy admiral, is still the best at her job and proves it by thoroughly crushing her ex-disciples in open combat.
He doesn't get to do much on screen, but Skald Egan certainly has a reputation for being exactly this. From what you can see of his descendants it's hereditary.
Big Eater: Nikea; she goes around entering tournaments just to support her appetite.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The members of the Falenan royal family you get to see are all very nice people. You don't get to see the others because they are all dead, thanks to struggle for power that gave the resident Murder, Inc. plenty of jobs from all sides. Several NPCs repeatedly note how remarkably morally upstanding Arshtat and Sialeeds are compared to her predecessors.
In an optional scene, Dinn assumes that Isato and Mathias feel the same way toward their charges. They gently correct him.
Mathias looks like a straight example at first, as he is from Warrior's Village, and the men of that village are famous for naming their signature weapon after the person they care about the most, and his weapon is named Isabel. Of course, that doesn't mean he loves her 'romantically', only that he has dedicated himself to her service above all else.
Oboro: "Lelei used to be a guard at Agate Prison, but she fell for Lucretia's pretty — I MEAN, she was concerned about Lucretia, as she came with her. Now she's kind of Lucretia's...assistant."
Boisterous Bruiser: Several. Ferid initially comes off as the type, but resident big guy Boz Wilde takes up the part for most of the game.
Boxed Crook: Several. One example is Roy, who is a dead ringer for Prince Freyjadour. He was hired by the oafish fop Euram Barrows to sully the Prince's name. Should the player choose to spare Roy's life, he will be recruited as a star of destiny. Later in the game, he serves as a body double wearing his "Prince" disguise.
Break the Cutie: Part of Richard's backstory. His father was an abusive son of a bitch, up until Mueller killed him and all but adopted the boy.
Incest Subtext: Miakis tells Lym that if the Prince wins, she'll have to marry him. Of course, Miakis just has a really wild sense of humor.
To the point that Lym attacks the Prince for winning his ceremonial match, out of fear that they'll have to marry. It doesn't help that Lym is ten years old.
Also, in the best ending, the prince becomes Commander of the Queen's Knights, a position normally reserved for the Queen's husband. Given the Ship Tease between the two earlier...
To be fair, there probably wasn't a better candidate. He was leader of the rebel army. Plus, with Lym being only ten, she is a little too young to be married anyway.
Bingo. It also sends a clear message that the system, which caused the problem in the first place, is changing.
Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Sisterhood, in this case. Nifsara and Linfa form a secret society dedicated to protecting pretty boys: the Secret Alliance for the Protection of Pretty Hunks in Real Endangerment (SAPPHIRE). Their motto is: "To observe! To protect! To observe some more!"
Can't Hold His Liquor: Belcoot, of all people. Lampshaded by Sialeeds and Georg that they wonder if the guy is REALLY from Kanakan, a place well known for its liquor. He's not. He's actually a native Falenan, who escaped slavery and then was trained to become a master swordsman in Kanakan.
Catch Phrase: Mathias usually finishes sentences about your enemies by describing how he will exact final retribution to said enemy and cast their loathsome corpse into nearby swamps, bogs, rivers, or other bodies of water. It's almost a Running Gag.
Shigure's is "what a pain...".
And who can forget Richard reciting Mueller's name as a full sentence?
Chivalrous Pervert: Gavaya, he isn't really all that much of a pervert either, though he comes off as creepy due to his borderline Gonk status.
More traditionally, Kyle displays interest on mostly everything resembling a female. Whether his chivalrous side depends entirely on his own conscience or is partly due to the fact that he's usually too busy/somewhere else when you get to meet women is up for debate.
Cool Boat/Base on Wheels: Raftfleet is basically a floating city formed from various individual ships that lash themselves together whenever they make port. It changes location several times throughout the game.
Crutch Character: Georg. He differs from the usual Crutch in that he remains a Game Breaker throughout the entire game (which is why he gets Put on a Bus until late in the game, whereupon he's still overpowered, but not ludicrously so). Physically, at least. His defense against magic is severely lacking.
Sialeeds – who starts out as a powerful long-ranged fighter and mage – also qualifies, with only one rune slot and an irremovable Wind Rune. Possibly a subtle way to discourage the player from being too dependent on her, so her Face-Heel Turn later in the game won't cripple your party.
Death Is Cheap: If Eresh gets killed in a war battle, Jeane sends the Prince a letter implying that she will eventually get better. The player will still be prevented from getting the best ending though.
Dude Looks Like a Lady: The Prince himself. He looks feminine no matter how he dresses, but the costume with no sleeves, long gloves, some kind of kilt and tights doesn't help. Oddly enough, someone compliments him on how masculine his new outfit makes him look. Falena must have different ideas of masculinity.
Emotionless Guy: Dolph. Subverted when it turns out that he is a Blood Knight whose cannot emote due to the drugs he uses to increase his power.
Evil Plan: The plot is set in motion by Marscal Godwin attempting to steal the Sun Rune and the civil war is set in motion by Gizel Godwin's bid for Lymsleia's hand in marriage. The Godwin goal is strengthening Falena through conquest of the neighboring lands.
Expy: Lucretica Merces is basically a hot female Karayan version of Zhuge Liang.
Expository Hairstyle Change: Lady Sialeeds hair turns white after her Face-Heel Turn, in the process. It's apparently her natural hair color, which makes sense given that all her blood relatives (save Lym) all have silver-white hair.
Fantastic Racism: The elves of Alseid hate "barbarous humans" and say "screw the world"; the Beavers of Beaver Lodge don't mind humans but are kind of "eeeeh..." about getting involved in the whole war thing; the Godwins want to engage in FantasticGenocide, which convinced the latter to take up arms.
The Chick: Lyon or Miakis (they're not in the group at the same time because of Lyon's critical injury at one point...but after Lyon recovers, Miakis would end up as the Sixth Ranger by default.
Foil: The Prince and Lyon are complementary to each other, representing "Dawn" (the Prince) and "Twilight" (Lyon). This ties in with the game's sun motif. It is also no coincidence that they become the bearers of the Dawn and Twilight Runes, respectively.
The Gadfly: Miakis, who, among many other things, tries to get the Prince to ruin Lym's wedding reception.
Gambit Pileup: Phew. Trying to explain this is already staggering. Though the ultimate winner is Sialeeds who bears EVERYTHING and kills the Barrows (not Euram of course). Need proof? Talk to Kyle in the graveyard at your castle, not Sun Palace, after you win the Sun Palace war. Also Gizel does tell you when you kill him in a duel that Sialeeds won.
It doesn't help that this is Gizel Godwin's preferred method of scheming: he sets multiple plans in motion and just sits back to see what takes root. At one point his father warns him about this kind of reckless behaviour, pointing out that his failed plans have only stoked dissent against him and advising him to be more conservative and careful in his machinations. Gizel ignores this advice even after seizing the queendom, which only helps the Prince find allies.
Gizel actually prefers this sort of plot, comparing it to throwing a bunch of seeds onto a field and seeing what bears fruit. It's lampshaded by his father, who tells him to intrigue decisively, if he's going to do so at all.
Worth noting that his machinations during the Sacred Games were indirectly responsible for allowing the Prince to escape during the Coup. It also sows the seeds to make him a Bad Ass.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: The potentially profound tactical advantage of having Viki, a character capable of teleporting people instantly to anywhere in the country, is never explored.
On the other hand, Sialeeds, a Wind Rune user, does make use of her power to make a boat fly over the water faster. Usually only when she's not in your party, though!
For Viki, she has stated that she can only teleport you to a location you have been to before, and only if there are no hostiles in the area (the latter seemingly a gameplay-based restriction, though). Teleporting large numbers of people en masse might also take a while (though based on Suikoden IV, Mass Teleportation is well within her power). Also, remember her sneezing habit? That would be an irregularity that would make mass teleportation techniques potentially quite dangerous, which is probably the main reason the heroes don't try it.
The Prince acquires the spell "First Light" as part of a side quest to heal Lyon. That spell can be used in battle.
Genki Girl: Nikea. There's also Lu, who can't seem to speak without using nicknames and sound effects.
Good Is Not Nice: Zerase is a bit of a bitch in the early parts of the game. She starts to get nicer once she realize you may actually be worthy of the Dawn Rune.
Guide Dang It: Oboro can be a big offender here, along with Sagiri and Nakula, among others.
Other big examples would be Cornelio, who has a VERY brief window of opportunity to be recruited (with no build-up to him at all, and no indication of when you're able to get him), and practically everyone in Lunas, as even getting back in requires one obscure support character that few people would ever use otherwise (who in fact might be considered a Guide Dang It himself).
And Josephine, who you can either recruit very early in the game or really, really late (by talking to her with either Sialeeds or Shula Valya in your party.)
Not to mention Egbert. You have to endure an extremely long speech from him at the lowest text scroll speed. If you press X even once during the speech (the button that would usually let you skip the text) then he will refuse to join until you leave the cave and try again. This is not even hinted at.
Guns Are Worthless: Lampshaded when a member of the Howling Voice Guild — and the game's only gun wielder — explains that rifles are inferior to the bow-and-arrow because of the cost, difficulty to manufacture and reduced accuracy: however, they are useful as an intimidation tactic. She then zizags this trope: in the very same scene where the rifle user explains the limitations of rifles, she then adds that those who are aware of their limitations can work around them, and everyone who are given rifles knows. Leaving one arrogant elf and a certain lady samurai very upset that they'd just been toyed with.
Heroic BSOD: Interestingly, the Prince has one (despite his Heroic Mime status). He goes through a large amount of trauma throughout the story, but he finally cracks after the events of The New Queen's Campaign: Sialeeds betrays him and Lyon nearly dies from a stab wound. In a scene after the above spoiler, Luserina tries to reach out and comfort him. After a moment, He simply turns around and walks off; the player is not even given the option to respond (which would normally happen). Pretty powerful response for a silent protagonist.
Heroic Mime: The Prince. There was one sequence where it seemed that this is averted, but it's Roy in disguise. As is usual with the Suikoden series, the hero does talk, but only when you're given dialogue options. Instead of a simple Yes/No option, the player is given choices of the actual lines the hero will be saying. Though unlike the other characters, the Prince doesn't have a voice actor speaking the lines. And given that those dialogue choices are usually only given at key moments, with Lyon (or, when she's incapacitated, Miakis) doing most of the speaking for him, it's clear that the Prince wouldn't be a very talkative guy even if we did hear him.
Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Nakula, Mathias may also count given his...hobby of killing enemies and throwing them into water.
Hope Spot: The entirety of the Sacred Games is full of these. Hey, the Godwins rescue you from certain death by shipwreck! They might not be plotting against the Queen after all! Well, actually, yes they are, as shown by a cutscene. But wait, they still have to win the Sacred Games to put their plan into action, and the Barrows family gladiator is a much better fighter than theirs! Nope, the Godwins frame said gladiator as being an Armes spy and get him disqualified. But wait, a Dark Horse foreigner comes out of nowhere and gets to the semifinals! He's also a better fighter than the Godwin's, to boot. Too bad the Godwins enact a plot to drug him so their gladiator wins the tournament, even after you thwart their first attempt to get him out of the way.
There's also Childerich's battle after he takes over your castle. It's probably one of the easiest campaign battles in the game.
Improbable Weapon User: Loads of 'em. Most notably Viki, whose staff is supposed to be her weapon, yet she attacks by... randomly teleporting and dropping stuff on the enemy.
A curious example is the Prince himself, who uses a slightly-too-thick but otherwise real three-section staff... except for the fact that its middle section is somehow split in two for easier carrying. The method of assembling displayed in the artbook makes one wonder just how skilled the prince is to be able to pull it out and piece it together in a single motion every battle. Not to mention his skills in turning it into a staff and back at a moment's notice. And somehow Roy is able to do the same with his copy of the Prince's weapon, despite lacking the Prince's years of practice.
Killed Off for Real: Roy can end up like this, if you stubbornly choose to defend your castle instead of abandoning it. This is not recommended, because his death bars you from getting the best ending.
Faylon and Faylen, too, if you wait too long to recruit them.
In the Leave Him to Me entry below, if the characters you choose lost the duel, they also end up like this.
Killer Rabbit: A type of Random Encounter enemies that have been in the series since the first game are literally called Killer Rabbits/Bunnies, which happen to be fluffy little black rabbits... wielding throwing-axes.
The beavers also qualify. They're half your size, furry, and wield an Improvised Weapon each, but get five of them together and they have an attack that can cause instant death. Oh, and their troops literally eat up enemy ships. As the official guide puts it, beaver troops turn the naval component of the usual rock/paper/scissors to "Beaver smashes rock, beaver shreds paper, and beaver breaks scissors." That's a pretty accurate description. The only thing keeping them from breaking the game wide open is that they can only use a limited number of "Gnaw" attacks on enemy ships.
Kill Sat: The Sun Rune's ultimate power, once unleashed, can burn an entire county with a column of light from the sky.
Knight in Sour Armor: Georg Prime, though he's pretty nice. He just prefers to dispense with formalities.
Large Ham: Barring Luserina, the Barows family are all deliciously hammy.
Leave Him to Me: Take the right people along when you finally face off with Childerich, you get to see what happens when several people try to claim this right all at once. Specifically, it's Belcoot, Zegai, and Richard — in this order of priority — who will make the offer; those who entered the Sacred Games.
Lima Syndrome: It's implied Lelei fell for Lucretia while guarding her cell. Cius also qualifies, as he was a hard-lined Rules Lawyer, and yet he broke the rules to keep Lucretia informed, and ultimately broke her out of prison.
Lolicon: Euram's slavish declarations of love for Crown Princess Lymsleia, who's all of ten... Sure, marrying her will net him the kingdom, but he goes a biiiiitover the top. Whether it's disturbing or funny is up to you.
Averted with Gizel, however, who barely gives a polite pretense of interest in her.
Lost Technology: Rune Cannons from Suikoden IV are now a lost art, and in fact you blow up the last of them for being "too powerful".
Magic Antidote: Averted — The Hero's Rune has the power to keep Lyon from dying, but she still has to spend a long time in bed recovering from the poison. In fact, it's possible for her to die from the wound you've supposedly taken care of if you didn't recruit all characters.
Magikarp Power: Roy isn't a joke character, per se, but he does get the skill Royal Paradise which boosts all stats (including combat and magic) considerably and raise it up to A. Also, with the availability of two Runes at later levels makes him rather powerful indeed. Note that the Royal Paradise skill has only one other character who can use it - The Prince. Heck, him being an almost perfect carbon-copy of the main character should tell you something.
Mama Bear: You don't want to insult or threaten Arshtat's family. You really don't. On a similar but less dangerous note, don't pull anything around Sialeeds either, because it will backfire on you.
Master Swordsman: Richard is called the Blade Master, and it's a justified moniker.
Multiple Endings: Aside from the 108 Stars endings (and yes, there's a few variations on that!), and the not-so-good endings where the player didn't track everyone down, there are several premature endings the player can stumble across.
Murder, Inc.: Nether Gate. Comes complete with four defectors who can join your party.
My Master, Right or Wrong: Galleon in a nutshell. He continues to work for the monarch that reduced his hometown to a desert. Dilber and Luger also suffer from this.
Mystical White Hair: The Prince. He is chosen by a rune (magical properties) and is a good commander despite his young age.
Mythology Gag: The alternate outfits worn by the Prince, Lyon, and Kyle during certain sections of the plot are meant to invoke the outfits worn by McDohl, Cleo, and Viktor in the original game. You also get to go to an Island Nations city and fight a battle there with a remix of Suikoden IV's battle soundtrack. Not to mention the recurring characters.
Non-Idle Rich: Luserina Barows, a girl born in a dynasty of Upper Class Twits who lacks any of her relatives' haughtiness and actually performs the majority of the administrative business of their house.
There's also Josephine, who's actually Shula's sister Yuma, who came to Haud in search of... culture. Despite her questionable tastes, though, she's surprisingly effective in battle and you'll probably get a lot of mileage out of her magic skills during the early war battles.
Not Blood Siblings: Lyon and the prince, who were brought up together as lord and bodyguard.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: The jovial and seemingly scatterbrained Salum Barrows is revealed to be the mastermind behind the theft of the Dawn Rune, and by extension, the Lordlake incident.
Lym is pretty sharp and has more political and people-smarts than you would expect from a ten-year-old girl.
The Prince himself falls under this as well. As noted above, not many really expected the Prince to be a major player in the game's storyline; or that he was a formidable warrior and capable leader. Most of it is due to princes being generally seen as royal deadweights in the Falenan tradition.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Nakula has this towards Sagiri, and all of Nether Gate actually. Inverted with Raven, who feels that Oboro is The Only One Allowed To Catch Me.
Only Sane Man: At times, Shigure openly questions the sanity of his coworkers in the Oboro Detective Agency. Said complaints are generally met with much amusement by said coworkers. What a pain...
Papa Wolf: More like "Brother Wolf"; Shigure may be lazy, and constantly complain about his adoptive family, but don't threaten them.
Could also be said about Georg towards the prince, Lym and Lyon.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Faylen and Faylon tried to pull this to impersonate Lyon and Georg, although it didn't work since Roy laughed off at Faylen's disguise, and Faylon ripped out the costume when he tried it on.
Relationship Values: Many of the scenes and choices the Prince can make don't have much of an effect on narrative, but it can build up relationships with other characters if they like your answers. Gameplay-wise, it can lead to unite attacks being more powerful. Story-wise, it can affect the ending and other scenes in the game. Having a high relationship with Lymsleia gives a few extra scenes, and it is needed in addition to having all 108 Stars for one ending, and a low relationship value with Lyon gives the worst ending.
Restraining Bolt: The Sun Rune, worn on the head, is meant to be worn along with the Dawn Rune and the Twilight rune (on either hand) in order to keep its power in check and prevent the wielder from going insane. Unfortunately, Arshtat has access to neither when she takes up the Sun Rune.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: The prince of the land is your main character, so yeah. This is of particular note as, being a male royal in a country where only females inherit the throne, nobody actually expected him to do anything at all.
Actually played for contrast with him and his father Ferid. The previous commanders, usually noble-born who simply hired someone to earn their position for them, were very rarely if ever trained as field commanders, much less fighters, usually delegating the job to someone else. Ferid, and later the prince, gain a lot of popularity precisely for being Royals Who Actually Do Something.
Silk Hiding Steel: Luserina Barows. She's sweet and graceful and apparently stays home while her dad and brother politic in the capital. However, if you talk around Rainwall, you'll find out that she is the one running the place. She also takes part in the coming battles as 'morale', in other words, encrouaging them to victory.
Spare To The Throne: A non-royal example with the House of Barows. After his older brother Hiram was assassinated during the bloody Succession Conflict, Euram was thrust into the role of his father's heir, as well as dealing with his mother's extended BSOD. This stress of this helps shape him into the irritating Epic FailingUpper-Class Twit everyone has to deal with during the events of the game, until Character Development enables him to grow out of it.
Stepford Smiler: A disturbing example can be found in Sagiri, a former Nether Gate assassin trained to smile while she killed her targets. It's her one and only expression. The people closest to her are actually waiting for the day she cries.
The Strategist: Lucretia Merces, particularly notable for being the first character to play this role in the series not related to the Silverbergs in any form.
Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Lyon reveals she was a former member of Nether Gate, an assassin's guild in service to Falena's royal family. They took her in while she was still a child and trained her. She was eventually rescued by the prince's father, Ferid, who gave her the name Lyon. She goes on to become the prince's bodyguard as her way of repaying Ferid's kindness.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: As usual for the series, both Duels and War Battles function through these. The latter gets a bit more complicated, though.
Team Mom: Fuyo to the Oboro Detectives. Oboro serves as a Team Dad. Together they're a kind of defacto husband and wife.
Tome of Eldritch Lore: The "miraculous book" your character receives in the inn at Yashuna Village by a stranger, who is later revealed to be Euram Barows, is a cursed tome that brings death to those who possess it.
Triang Relations: Type 4 — Alenia loves Gizel, who has a complicated history with Sialeeds; Gizel is aware of Alenia's feelings, but mainly uses them to keep her in line...
There's also Roy, Lyon, and Feylen. Roy has the hots for Lyon, Feylen has the hots for Roy, and Lyon only has eyes for the prince.
One could argue that the same is true for Lyon and the Prince. While nothing is directly mentioned about it, there's a lot of subtle subtext pointing towards that they indeed have more developed relationship that what is known. See for example certain dialogue-less scenes in Lunas.
Warrior Prince: The prince not only directly leads the army in combat, he fights as part of the infantry.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Godwins seek to empower Falena as a nation so that the losses suffered in the bloody civil war several years ago is not repeated. Unfortunately, they try to do this by overthrowing the royal family, reviving a defunct assassin's guild, and attempting to purge the nation of all nonhumans.
A fairly common fan theory is that they expected to lose, and that the newly empowered Falena at the end was their plan all along. This becomes a Gambit Roulette if looked at too closely, but that doesn't mean they didn't invent it as a Plan B when it was clear they were losing...
That was Sialeeds' plan. Gizel and Marscal just realized it around the time Sialeeds died. Gizel seems to have been okay with either result; it's explicitly stated that he likes to start conflicts just to see who'll win.
Wham Shot: The scene depicting how Arshtat was killed. It's an even bigger shock when you know that this is something that was referenced in one of Richmond's investigations in Suikoden II, a game that was released 7 years prior.
Wholesome Crossdresser: Rahal fills out his sister's clothes pretty well...it's also unclear why he has a spare of them with him...
The game makes it pretty clear. Rahal knows that he's exceptionally beautiful, so he'll make use of that fact in any way possible. And apparently, he and his sister have been trolling their friends like this for years.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Sun Rune is one of the strongest of the 27 True Runes, and can cause moments of extreme megalomania in its bearer, as they believe themselves to be a God. Even the kind and loving Arshtat fell victim to this, destroying Lordlake and almost doing the same to the entire country of Falena because of the rune's influence.
This is in fact what happened to empire that existed where Falena does long before the game takes place. The ruler who wielded the Sun Rune went mad and annihilated his entire nation overnight. Supposedly having possession of the Dawn and Twilight runes as well prevents this from happening to the wielder of the Sun Rune.
Xanatos Gambit: Lucretia wields one of these masterfully to beat the combined Armes/Godwin army, first feigning defeat to get the enemy armies to occupy the rebel headquarters, flooding the entire thing, then launching a full out assault on the weakened enemy forces. Truly worthy of being an Expy of Zhuge Liang.
She really did think of everything. Leaving the castle itself is a good move because they would be surrounded otherwise, and it denies the enemy desperately needed food. Even if the Armes/Godwin army didn't fall for the trap, they'd still be chasing a fully stocked army with empty bellies and grumbling mouths.
Yin-Yang Bomb: The Twilight Rune and the Dawn Rune have an incredibly powerful combination spell that heals the friendly party and damages all enemies at once.
Especially since the quality of the writing repeatedly forces blatant false hope on the player that serves only to underscore this trope.
You Fight Like a Cow: One-on-one duels are carried out by executing three possible commands that cancel each other by Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanics. How to tell what the enemy is going to do? By their pre-action taunts, of course. While this is a staple of the series, Suikoden V takes it further by adding a time limit to the input so you are in a bit more of a hurry. The catch? Certain characters with apparent Medium Awareness start taking advantage of this rush by making feint taunts that seem like they'll be one action and change to another by the end of their speech.
You're Insane!: Lyon says this to Dolph when she learns that he works for the Godwins just so he can continue to kill people.