"What if those bandits had families? Wives and little children that they'd never be able to return home because they died by OUR hands? [...] Justice? Is it justice? What's justice? Just an opinion, really... I mean, those bandits... They could've been doing what they thought was right, what was 'just' in their eyes... It's just that their opinions conflicted with ours, so there's bloodshed... Is it ever necessary?"
The MARDEK series is a series of online Flash RPGs designed and created by Pseudolonewolf of Fig HunterGames. They revolve around a lad named Mardek, his childhood friend Deugan, their female colleague Emela, and the magical space ghost living inside Mardek's body called Rohoph. The games take place on the planet Belfan, where magic and all that nonsense are pretty commonplace. Part of what makes up MARDEK's charm is the game's sense of humour, as almost everyone on the planet seems totally aware that it's an RPG world, and are quick to point out that most of what happens make little to no sense whatsoever. Make no mistake, though; at the center of it all is a well-written story and well-constructed world that, as the quote above demonstrates, can be rather dark at times.The game is planned to be eight chapters long, although Pseudolonewolf has stated that he might reduce the amount of chapters to 5 or 6. The third chapter was released in the summer of 2010, along with some graphical and gameplay updates to the first two chapters. Savegames from earlier chapters can be imported into the following chapter.Chapter 1 is here, Chapter 2 is here, and Chapter 3 is here.Has a character sheet. Please put character-specific examples there.
All chapters provide examples of the following tropes:
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Lampshaded if you talk to Emela while you're in it in Chapter 2. She questions how it's so large when Goznor is only a few tiny houses in size, and how it even works if there was no plumbing. Deugan replies:
Action Commands: Prior to the release of Chapter 3 and it's updates, 3 different keys could be pressed in battle to activate up to 3 seperate additional effects to an action, but only one effect could be applied per action. Currently, a single key is pressed to activate as many additional effects as equipable at the same time - leading to an unfortunate bug of being able to inflict negative status effects on allies with healing spells when you're only trying to increase its potency.
All There in the Manual: Taken Up to Eleven with the in-game Encyclopaedia, which is extremely large and contains extensive information on pretty much every NPC of importance that you meet, as well as tons of other backstory information, such as the seven elemental crystals. You have to actually find the person/hear about the item in order for the full article to be added to the Encyclopaedia, though.
Lots of background information that is not automatically written into the in-game Encyclopaedia can be found in bookcases in-game (Which obviously includes the libraries), and on Pseudolonewolf's website.
The fate of the Governance de Magi. Due to the way Rohoph's sealing spell works, they don't get to go on to the afterlife, oh no. Their souls get turned into pretty jewelry that sits in Mardek's Hyperspace Arsenal for all eternity. Kind of makes you feel sorry for them.
In Chapter 3, one of the items required to recruit Legion is a Wretched Soul, which you can get by freeing an evil spellcaster from a Soul Cage that the Old Hermit had trapped him in. The Old Hermit, formerly the Shaman of the volcano, had actually gone mad with guilt over trapping the evil spellcaster in this state.
The Lost Monastery. The priests there were driven to insanity by an object that is eerily similar to the Violet Crystal, but that's not the worst of it. After they'd died, they weren't allowed to continue on to the afterlife, and were instead bound to the monastery as zombies. Even after their flesh rotted to nothing, their souls were still bound there as insane, disfigured globs of ectoplasm.
Anti-Villain: Most of the chapter 3 is Qualna giving Rohoph an extended lecture that balance is important, and in the end reveals that he doesn't want to kill Rohoph, and instead wants to bring him back to the Governance de Magi so that everything can return to normal. The only overtly evil thing he does is forcing you to kill King Gonoroth. Really, compared to Moric, Qualna's downright nice.
Gonoroth's death wasn't even part of his plan. He was hoping Rohoph would get the message before it came to a fight, but that turned out not to be the case.
Apocalypse How: A Class 2, or possibly Class 3, happened to the Manta, an ancient civilization, long before the game started.
Possibly the dark crystal too, although that one just contains power and doesn't try to corrupt/kill the holder. Not directly.
Ascended Fanboy: The first two chapters follow Mardek and Deugan, who have dreamed about being heroes their whole lives, following in the footsteps of their childhood idols. But when Deugan becomes a hero, he feels as if he doesn't deserve it.
Author Avatar: Both Deugan and Emela, to a certain extent. Pseudolonewolf says that they're based off of his personality, but he made sure to give them unique personality traits to avoid making them blatant self-inserts.
Any time a cliche or otherwise expected situation is predicted (which happens very often), the sentence tends to end with "perhaps?" or a similar qualifier. This shows up less in Chapter 3, but is still present in Pseudo's blog posts.
Balance Between Good and Evil: Or rather, between Light and Dark/ the elements in general. This is an overarching theme of Chapter 3, and Clavis/Qualna is a major advocate of it. Sure is much more reasonable than what Rohophis ranting about by the end of that chapter.
Came Back Wrong: Annunaki that perform soul transfers can become Class 2s if they aren't careful, though it's the mind that's damaged, not the soul.
Can't Drop The Hero: In the first two chapters, Mardek, Deugan, and Emela can't be dropped. In the third chapter, Mardek can't be dropped; this is less of a problem than it could be because Mardek is a support hero and would get less exp than other characters if the same party was used throughout the game.
Starts becoming a problem in Chapter 3 however; it's very possible to have Mardek at lv40 (Higher level than several bosses!) and the rest of your allies at around level 25 by the end of the game if you frequently switch them to divide exp between them. Cue the solo Bonus Boss fights.
Actually, some of the easiest strategies against the first half of the super-bonus boss in chapter 3 is soloing him with Mardek and a few special items. You can still manage to revive everyone at the end, and even let someone else make the killing blow for massive amounts of exp more than the shared kill-XP.
Chekhov's Gag: In the second chapter, you can read a bookcase in Gloria's house mentioning Sirens (and how hot they are, with Emela and Mardek's reactions.) In the third game, you can recruit Elwyen, whose character class is Siren, and who constantly tries to hit on Mardek with her charms.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Pressing the Escape key pauses the game, as one might expect. However, similarly to Cave Story, pressing it again will quit the game! You have to press Z to actually unpause.
Dark Is Evil: Played straight. Darkness is the elemental epitome of evil. But...
Dark Is Not Evil: The game states that darkness is the element associated most with progress and drive. A book in Goznor even mentions that dark-elemental heroes have existed in the past.
Bernard fits this. He's not evil, and is part of a group that competes with your own to save the world. Although he actually admits he's only joined them because it amuses him.
Death Is Cheap: Happens in both gameplay and story. In battle, phoenix downs revive fallen characters. In the story, two mysterious characters appear at the front and back of Chapter 3. The first is dark-elemental and uses martial arts. The other is apparently a knock-off of Social Fox who wields a greatblade. If you played chapter 2, it's kind of obvious. See also Not Quite Dead.
Dirty Business: The entire series is about Rohoph destroying his former friends. Chapter 3 shows that Moric's death has caused a lot of social unrest on their homeworld due to the Governance de Magi's loss of their zombie army and sees Rohoph blatantly lie to Qualna about letting his soul go free once defeated. Upon complaining about this, Mardek promptly gets cut off from the control of his own body to silence him. It's pretty evident by then that Rohoph wasn't quite as unaffected by the violet crystal as he himself believes.
By the end of chapter 3, Rohoph actively sabotages Mardek's friendship with Elwyen to prevent him from growing attached to anybody which could distract him from "their" goal.
Dwindling Party: A villainous version, strangely enough. There are only seven members of the Governance de Magi, and with every death, their homeworld suffers more and more, as does their group. It's explicitly stated that they're all friends (although they don't always agree with each others methods), too, which makes their deaths even harder on the rest of them.
Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Completely averted, or possibly even inverted; Earth is in a completely different galaxy, and therefore doesn't even exist as far as everyone is concerned.
Elemental Powers: There's even one Governance de Magi member for each element! (Well, except for Fig, since Fig-elemental people are exceptionally rare) This is pretty much justified by in-universe reasoning. It's just how their governmental system works.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Fire consumes Air, Air erodes Earth, Earth absorbs Water, and Water douses Fire. Light banishes Darkness, but at the same time, Darkness consumes and extinguishes Light. (Fig and Ether form a similar duality, though why souls are weak to Psychic Powers and figments of imagination are weak to Soul Power is not explained)
In Chapter 2 you can drop axes and staves from certain enemies, which none of the characters can use. If you carry them over to the next chapter, you'll find out they're actually starting weapons for Sslen'ck and Gloria.
In Chapter 3 you can buy a weapon usable only by a character that's considered missing-in-action as of second chapter's ending. It sprouted fan speculations about the character returning in a future installment.
Et Tu, Brute?: Turned around from its usual form; Rohoph betrays the Governance de Magi, his former friends and allies, time and time again.
Evil Is Not Well Lit: The Governance de Magi keep close to many classic villain tropes and clichés, and this is no exception. Their meeting room is somewhat dark except for the Violet Crystal in the center.
Evil Overlord: Baron von Doomkill, who can be read about in a library, was one of these.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: Deconstructed, surprisingly. The elemental crystals are not just meaningless MacGuffins of vague power like in most RPGs that use them. The planet is established to be alive, and the crystals are, in a sense, its organs. They control extremely important parts of life and nature, so if they are tampered with, bad things happen to the planet. "Tampering" includes removing them from their temples.
Which you gotta do anyway to prevent actually evil people from getting their hands on them.
Moric was mistaken for Galaris. Admittedly, he's pretty much a look-alike.
He Knows About Timed Hits: "Mardek, I'm going to remind you of the controls!" To be fair, much of the dialogue in the game is in the same vein.
In the beginning of Chapter 3, Mardek even lists this as one of the things he'll miss about Deugan.
Mardek: But who will remind me of the menus and controls and I'll get all confused and not know what he's talking about? Who will tell me that Enter opens the menu and you have to use Rusty Keys on reactions in battle and stuff?
Human Aliens: Not just on Belfan; according to Fig Hunter's encyclopedia, they're one of the most common species in the galaxy.
Humanoid Aliens: Both averted and played straight. Some of the species described in the encyclopedia are truly bizarre. The ones we've seen so far are all humanoids, however.
Improbable Power Discrepancy: An amateur human necromancer can create undead more powerful and high-levelled than an super-powerful alien that has devoted most of his life to perfecting his magic. Said super-powerful alien necromancer is also weaker than some regular enemies in Bonus Dungeons. Gameplay and Story Segregation at its finest, considering how the Bonus Bosses of Chapter 3 have destoryed entire civilizations.
Jacques: A good Knight knows when to use 'is surroundings to aid 'im. Since we leeve in a world where apparently unopened chests full of loot scatter zee landscape, zee land truly can provide. And it 'as provided you well, it seems.
Informed Equipment: Averted with weapons, played straight with everything else. This issue has sparked a surprising amount of criticism from some of the fans, despite the developer repeatedly stating that it's a stylistic choice and he won't change it.
It Amused Me: If you talk to Bernard in the Fire Temple, he outright says that he's only along to see the look on Bartholio's face when Mardek gets through first.
In fact, he pretty much goes mad with ideas for inventions if you speak to him within the volcano.
It turns out that this is what the Goznor villagers actually saw him as, which is what got him shunned.
Magic Versus Science: Completely averted, or possibly inverted; in many advanced planets, magic and technology coexist without a second glance from anyone.
Magikarp Power: Elwyen and Meraeador look useless at first, but if you take the time to get sheet music and build inventions, they become invaluable.
Solaar, too. Xe has abysmal Vitality, turning xim into a Glass Cannon with too much emphasis on the "glass" part to be very useful. However, if you give xim equipment that boosts Vitality (the Green Stole + 6, in particular), xyr HP is raised enough to make xim and xyr amazing skills usable.
Magitek: Used by advanced races such as the Annunaki and Lingons.
Non-Elemental: Subverted; physical attacks do have their own element that can be resisted, despite it being referred to as "non-elemental". Played straight with the Divine element, although no attacks or creatures with that element have been revealed thus far, only items and/providing passive skills.
Prior to the chapter 3 updates, attacks that would be physical wereNon-Elemental, and the element of a physical attack would depend on the element of the equipped weapon. Because the Physical element didn't exist yet, Non-Elemental attacks would do neutral damage to everything.
One-Gender Race: Of a sort. Solaar and all Aruan are genderless and use the gender-neutral pronoun "xe." Also, Reptoids and Annunaki are hermaphroditic and don't have single sexes or gender, but are usually referred to as "he."
Only Sane Man: Rohoph and, according to Qualna, ALL members of the Governance de Magi, thinks of himself as this compared to the rest of the Governance de Magi. Subverted in that, in fact, Rohoph is just as insane in his own way as the rest of the GdM. Played straight with Qualna, thus far.
Opening the Sandbox: Happens every chapter, usually just before the final dungeon. There are usually some sidequests you can complete before then, though.
Quirky Miniboss Squad: The World's Saviours. Actually more of a Goldfish Poop Gang. Or not, since many players have problems with them. They're particularly troublesome after defeating the fire guardian. Most people wouldn't expect another boss fight, so are still low on hp/mp, and still fully equipped to deal specifically with a fire element boss. They bring quite the pain if you don't immediately heal up and change your skill set-up.
Random Encounters: Justified, amazingly. In one of the library sections in the game, the book that explains about miasma (see Made of Evil, above) explains that monsters really do literally form out of nowhere randomly, since miasma can condense anywhere as long as there are sufficient negative emotions to act as catalysts. This doesn't really explain the zombies or bandits that materialize out of nowhere, though.
Randomly Drops: Most enemies have an item or two to drop, mostly potions and status healing items, but some will drop weapons and armor on occasion.
Organ Drops: As of the Chapter 3 update, almost every enemy will drop a vendor trash/item crafting item. Most if not all of these seem to be harvested from the enemy (Fish scales, Goblin earwax, Zombie hand, etc.)
Revive Kills Zombie: Though Phoenix Downs don't 'kill' Undead, per se, they do deal significant amounts of damage. Healing spells and the Regen status effect also inflict damage, and using Solaar's Resurrection skill halves life.
Known to have been nerfed since the Chapter 3 update; previously, Phoenix Downs inflicted Massive Damage (it was possible to easily defeat the Zombie Dragon in Chapter 2 by solely lobbing Phoenix Downs, which inflicted at least 5000 damage), but now Phoenix Downs inflict relatively meagre damage.
Science Fantasy: Okay, so it's got knights, dragons, magic, elemental crystals...spaceships, aliens, and other planets.
Serial Escalation: The first chapter had three small dungeons and a couple very short boss fights. The second had several mandatory dungeons, multiple bonus dungeons, and much longer and more difficult bosses. The third was much, much longer than either of them and had several sidequests, Item Crafting, and Loads and Loads of Characters.
"I bet it's worse than ever, since it's surely descended into a hive of miserable scum and villainy, where nothing works right and the evil people rule and all that. It makes me depressed just thinking about it."
If, as implied by one bit of dialogue, the Mysterious Man is actually saying "[PROFANITY]ing", not actually swearing, it's either a Shout-Out to Discworld's Mr. Tulip or a case of great minds thinking alike.
Soul Power: All ether-elemental characters, though Annunaki all have this to a certain extent — they can perform "soul transfers" upon dying that will allow their soul to inhabit another body.
Spoony Bard: Completely averted with Elwyen, who is one of the most useful characters.
Straw Feminist: The Canonian adventuress, though she's a rather specific type (the arrogant kind that becomes exactly what they try to fight against).
Squishy Wizard: Emela. Sharla and Donovan, too, though their STR is just high enough for them to deal decent physical damage. Gloria also has low strength, but is significantly tougher than the other mages (though this could be due to her starting equipment, as the Emerald Bangle is a great HP booster).
Standard Status Effects: It's a Final Fantasy parody, of course it's going to have these. Poison, Silence, Sleep, Paralyze (Stun), Berserk, Confuse, and Instant Death are all present in their normal roles. There's also Bleed (basically the more potent poison), two varieties of Blindness (Blind lowers physical attack accuracy, while Numbness disables them altogether), a mix of Charm and Petrification in Zombify (your characters are basically in a Confuse state that cannot wear off without being cured, and causes a Game Over if all characters are zombified), and Curse (disables all spells, but not basic attacks).
Status Buff: Naturally. However, some of these are not as common as the Status Effects above. There are the typical Heal, Cure/Clear (one boss even has spells that named this, though they heal instead), Haste, Regen, stat boosters, and damage reducers (Shield, M Shield). Then there are the more unusual status buffs, such as Barkskin (basically a DEF raiser), Aero and Pyro Shell (which are Reflect, but only for one specific element), the Nulls (completely blocks one attack of its element), and Astral Form, which increases and decreases resistances to various elements. With all of the unusual status buffs, only one character has access to them. It should be noted that Berserk counts as a "Status Buff", even though enemies can inflict it themselves.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: All over the place. Emela does it a lot in Chapter 2 ("This is totally new to me and not something I've done hundreds of times before!"), and Chapter 3 has such gems as Rohoph saying, "My eyes certainly aren't glowing white!"
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Rather egregious, since you can click on an enemy's lifebar at any time to see a detailed description of their stats, equipment, etc., and only a few enemies will actually drop said equipment as a random drop. It's also subverted, however, as a lot of the enemy equipment is actual equipment that you can buy or find in treasure chests.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Sidestepped; it's explicitly stated multiple times that monsters aren't sapient, therefore killing them is okay. There's even a pacifist in your party who uses this as justification for why he fights! Enemies that are actual humans, however, deeplydisturb the characters, who view it as a form of Shoot the Dog.
White and Gray Morality: A surprisingly cynical version; though the main characters are unambiguously good, the fact that the villains are of gray morality is stressed many times, and emphasizes the fact that fighting the villains is not necessarily a good thing.
Slides toward Grey and Gray Morality in Chapter 3, as Rohoph's Knight Templar tendencies start to become more pronounced. By the end of the chapter, he's Jumping Off the Slippery Slope so much. Additionally, the story dwells a good bit on the fact that even actions taken fighting an indisputably evil villain (namely, Steele) can have wider negative repercussions.
There was thise one tyme where he totally Slew this Mighty Dragonne! It was a Foule, Evile, Darke Beaste who had Capturede a Princesse - one of the Fineste in all the Landse - and only the Heroisme of Social Fox could Save her!
You ALL Look Familiar: Heavily, heavily lampshaded; for instance the inn patrons in Canonia comprise the same "Bloke" half a dozen times, and another house contains a dozen of the same "Chap". And that's not the only time you see either of them...
Fat Bastard: The final boss of this chapter is A fat, ugly kid named Mugbert, who likes to bully Mardek and Deugan.
If I Wanted You Dead...: Rohoph uses a form of this to reassure Mardek and Deugan when he performs a soul transfer into Mardek, saying that he could simply expel Mardek's soul from his body if he wanted to, but decided not to as a gesture of goodwill.
Bittersweet Ending: Hooray! You saved your world and became a hero! But, in the process of doing so, you lost your closest friend, your love interest left for vague reasons, the other two allies you may have made ditched you for weak reasons, and you were forced to fight the reanimated corpse of your childhood hero. Ouch.
Brick Joke: Early on, one of your party members ask Vehrn, headstrong paladin, just how he expects YALORT to assist him in battle. She jokingly asks if he expects YALORT to send down "green lightning". The paladin is offended, considering the statement blasphemy, and says that he'll simply send him support. After driving out the zombies from Goznor, the priest rewards you with an amulet that teaches Vehrn the ability to do just that. It's even titled 'Green Lightning'.
When you first enter the zombie-infested town, the priest will give you the key into the catacombs under the town. Deugan, in his role as designated lampshade-hanger, asks how the zombies got out to terrorize the town if the door is still locked, and is promptly told to shut up. Halfway through the catacombs, you fight a zombie locksmith.
Hopeless Boss Fight: Not one you face, mind you. Bartholio assumes that your party is one of these to his, thinking that, should you fight again, they will surely win. And, if you're successful in the hidden arena, you prove him wrong on that, as well.
Lost Forever: The Trilobite Key IV, although it's very hard to miss, and if you do, you deserve it. Luckily, in Chapter 3, there's an obscure shop in Acropolis that sells all the Trilobite keys if you missed any of them.
Talking Is a Free Action: Lampshaded by Vehrn when he wonders why when the heroes argue over what to do about a certain monster, it just sits idly waiting for them to finish their conversation.
Title Drop: Kinda. Mardek and Deugan try to become this, to replace Social Fox. Both succeed, especially Deugan, who actually becomes the next Grand Adventurer.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Discussed after the first mission, in one of the game's darker scenes. Also subverted in the case of Gope.
Videogame Cruelty Punishment: If you don't kill a bandit named Gope at the beginning, he'll later give you the Trilobite Key IV, which is essential for completing a sidequest. But if you killed him, too bad, it's Lost Forever...Until Chapter 3. See Lost Forever above.
Artifact of Doom: That purple plot item you handed to the Yalortian monk in Aeropolis? It quite fits the description of The Violet Crystal, which kicked off the plot by making Rohoph's companions evil.
Speaking to Rohoph within the Lost Monastery confirms that it is exactly that. He recognizes the corrupting energy as being the same as the one that the Violet Crystal gave off.
Granted, it is by far the hardest battle in the entire series so far. (including the security demon, which is hard for completely different reasons)
Bittersweet Ending: Where to begin? Well, first you have to fight your own king. Who afterwards promptly dies. Oops. And did we mention that he's actually the father of one of your party members? Then it turns out Qualna wasn't even trying to get you to kill the king, and this is exactly the example he was trying to create to show Rohoph that he's gone off the deep end, and to get him to rejoin the Governance de Magi peacefully. (Although most of the Magi have gone off that end too.) Rohoph promptly kills Qualna too and seals his soul so he can no longer escape after telling her that he wouldn't. Mardek and Elwyen go to a play afterwards to lighten the mood, until Rohoph forces her away, to Mardek's disdain and anger. So now King Gonoroth and probably the most friendly of the Governance de Magi are dead, and Rohoph wants Mardek to have no more friends to become attached to. Yeah. At least Lone Wolf (Deugan) finally talks to Mardek's face, although he doesn't reveal who he is.
Approaches Downer Ending when you realize that Qualna was lying about wanting to use the Violet Crystal for good, but only because the other Governors were watching - he was trying to sneak Rohoph back to their planet in order to help him destroy the Crystal. And it turns out that Rohoph had been corrupted by the Crystal from the start into becoming a paranoid Knight Templar, and he no longer has qualms about forcibly taking over Mardek's body at times. Oh, and the world is slowly dying thanks to the crystals being removed from their temples, and Rohoph's presence might be slowly killing Mardek. Absolutely nothing you did in this chapter has accomplished anything good.
Downer status further solidified by a lot of things that seem minor in Chapter 3 but will surely come back to bite the good guys in the ass in subsequent chapters: Steele/"The Mysterious Man" still has the dark crystal; Blatantly Evil Chancellor had control of Xantusia while Ss'lenck was away; you gave a fragment or relative of the Violet Crystal to Vudu, the probably already evil high priest of YALORT; and oh yeah, there's this volcano which could wipe out most of the life on Belfan if it erupted, and the next Magus coming after you is the pyromancer of the group. Add in the fact that Word of God has said that there will be an important event separating chapters 1-4 and 5-8, and let the dread sink in. Really, the only good things that you did in this game were making your party members feel good about themselves by listening to them talk about their problems, and driving away Saul and Muriance (probably temporarily). Well, and destroying the Annihilator, if you did that.
Bonus Boss: Lots of them, but three come to mind as end game ones.
Red Dragon: Despite its enormous size, this proud, vicious variety of fire-elemental dragon can actually fit inside a small treasure chest. Which is an interesting fact.
Also addressed in the Bone Demon's description, the other Bonus Boss, which says that it was literally sealed in the chest to prevent it from causing mayhem by an ancient wizard because it could not be destroyed. However, its bones became brittle and vulnerable in the many years it's been sealed, so it is quite killable by the time you show up.
The two above are marked by a red-and-gold chest, so if you die to these (particularly the Bone Demon, who has a SAVE POINT right before it) without saving, it is your fault. However, one chest early on with a mini-bonus boss (a Griffon) is unmarked, except for the save crystal nearby and its obvious placement in the middle of the path. All others contain the local enemies. Most are worth looting, however.
Warding Stone Pedestal: You shouldn't have grown so attached to little 'Wardy McStone', you know. You KNEW from the moment that he came into your tender care that you'd have to one day say goodbye, so please, overcome your emotional difficulties now, say a good, long, teary farewell to the stone you wish was your lover and your son, and come back when you're good and ready.
Defeat Equals Friendship: Averted, sadly. People who played Chaper 2 might hope that defeating the Water Guardian would make her part of your party again. Well, they were wrong, because apparently there's some rule that the guardians have to guard the temple once the crystal is gone.
Played straight with Sslen'ck, whom you face in a boss fight before you can recruit him.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Subverted in that it isn't actually a god, but the most powerful Bonus Boss is a super-powerful alien monstrosity that wiped out an entire civilization. And not only can you defeat its body, but its soul as well.
The Dog Was the Mastermind: Subverted, as the mastermind is a major villain, but disguised as a "dog". Remember Clavis, that enigmatic but inconspicuous guy who just seemed to like talking about balance? He's Qualna in disguise.
It's even lampshaded so much that you probably go into Wrong Genre Savvy and think it's actually not the case.
Doomy Dooms of Doom: Mentioned within a novel in Xantusia is one Baron von Doomkill, a 'crystal tyrant' who had, in the past, seized control of an elemental crystal and attempted to conquer the world. He's one of the four souls summoned into Legion.
Melchior: I liked Qualna. He had one eye. I liked that about him because I have one eye too. So does everyone in this chamber. We're like one big happy family! He also solved his problems with words. Words which weren't things like "DIE!!" or "I have a small peanut and I'm not afraid to use it!"
Finding the trilobite warrior in the Dark Temple. A lot of bonus things, in fact.
If you don't get the first Miasmal Chalice before fighting the boss, you've got a long trek ahead of you since you'll be teleported back to town via cutscene.
Tell me you found out how to do that Trade Quest to get a Bonus Boss and Sslen'ck's best axe without a walkthrough. You didn't either, did you? (Well, the NPCs did tell you about this stuff, but how many of you remembered?)
Opening the Lost Monastery, which requires you to have two characters in your party, one of whom it isn't immediately obvious is connected to the place, and who requires you to recruit several other party members with their own semi-obscure requirements.
There's also the Water Temple, but not because its puzzle is all that difficult (it just requires a lot of walking), the official guide made by Psuedolonewolf, is wrong. There are a few steps that he completely left out of the guide.
The fact that there IS an official guide to begin with shows how much Guide Dang It this game has.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Qualna. Twice. First was the really obvious king, complete with Mind-Control Eyes. Then there was Clavis. He seems to know as much as Rohoph, yet seems to be a human mage. He can get anywhere he wants to, even the bottom of a lake. Often he seems to be directly in your path. He is Aether, and is against fighting and "removing Keystones" whenever possible. He is a powerful "Equilibriumancer" (Aether magic specialist). And he has the same robes and eye color as Qualna's ... eye-dot-sphere thing. Yet, most people who have not yet completed the game do not realize that he IS Qualna in a human disguise. Neither did Rohoph.
This is actually subverted, as it is possible to win, surprisingly. (And it's pretty easy, too! No reward except for a Gold Warport Pass though, so it's actually not worth it to fight it at all.)
It's not easy at all if you're not actively trying to defeat him. Accidentally pick a wrong answer and you'll probably Rage Quit. And he's actually worth fighting for the massive amount of experience he gives.
At one point, when complimented by his boss on a job well done, Mardek smilingly replies "I can only move at the will of my unseen master!"
Bostolm: EEEEHeeheeheee! I am difficult to WRITE DIALOGUE FOR!!!
Marathon Boss: All of the Bonus Bosses other than the Bone Demon, particularly the Annihilator. Both of its forms can spam a spell that nullifies all damage once, and YALORT help you if you used up your last Candiathrope before fighting Animus — since Gemsplosion: Candiathrope is the only attack in the entire game that it isn't resistant to. Karnos also has a whopping 65,000 hit points, though you can inflict Bleed on it, which will drain its health at record speed.
May-December Romance: If Elwyen is seriously right about Gloria and Mereador getting together. Consider that the Meraeador was an adult while Mardek was a kid, and Mardek grew up for a few years in between chapters 1 and 2 when he met Gloria, who was a child then. Sure, Gloria's a shaman, so age means nothing to her, but still...
Mereador actually comments on this on one of his backstory party talks. Unfortunately, Mardek also says that it's okay for a 10-year-old kid to love an old woman, so...
Mind-Control Eyes: Everyone notices that the king's eyes are pink. No one comments on Mardek because he's wearing a helmet.
Mood Whiplash: The final scenes are very serious and border on Wham Episode. Then, we get to see an ending cutscene with the Governance de Magi, where Gaspar and Melchior manage to make you laugh hysterically again.
Right in the middle of the end-game drama, after Rohoph runs off to settle things alone, we get this exchange:
Vehrn: Let's just wait for a while and they'll sort themselves out. Who's up for a game of Twister!?
Elwyen: Ooh! Me! Me!
Donovan:My father is lying dead on the floor here.
Vehrn: Well I guess he'll have to sit this one out, then.
Elwyen's Dreamstone suggests there may be another, not entirely unrelated reason. She thinks he became self-conscious after she pointed out the weird sores on his face and bags under his eyes.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Two examples. The first one, which makes up the two optional boss battles, involves a starfish alienEldritch Abomination that lands on Belfan and starts annihilating (thus its name) and begins wiping out the first civilization before humans came to power. In a desperate attempt to save themselves, they use their magic to seperate its spirit from its body, hoping it would just stop moving or something to that effect; all that did was made the monster even more destructive and prone to rampaging than before. Not only that, but you find out by reading the encyclopedia by defeating its soul next that had its trapped soul been left alone long enough, it could have eventually formed a new body anyways, repeating the process. Nice job breaking it, guys!
The other example is after defeating the final boss of the chapter turns out that Qualna was actually the least affected by the Violet Crystal, merely acting like it affected him like the others in order to not be run off just like Rohoph. Not only is he aware that the Violet Crystal has, slightly, affected him somewhat AND he wants to destroy it just like Rohoph wanted to, helping him no less, but he's aware that the Violet Crystal has greatly affected Rohoph just as much as the other Governance de Magi. While he wanted to help Moric in the last chapter, Rohoph is in his Knight Templar mode and simply wants to kill off Qualna because he's supposedly evil too. And, even after giving his word that he would let Qualna go to the afterlife afer his death, Rohoph still seals his soul in a crystal. You find out from the dreamstone he drops that he was genuine in his desire to help Rohoph and destroy the Violet Crystal, which means Rohoph just sealed a harmless, innocent person and the only member of his race that wanted to help him. Nice job sealing him, Jerkass.
This is amazingly subverted with Deugan, who decides not to return to the group for various reasons shown throughout his dreamstones. In his final one, he says that he is dead, but is reborn anew...as "Lone Wolf", the next Grand Adventurer.
Which, seeing how he all but abandons Emela, makes him sort of a Jerk Ass.
And it's parodied as well. After the boss fight against Sslen'ck, speaking to his fallen lizard guards reveals that they're still very much alive and somewhat irked to left lying there.
Obviously Evil: A few villains in this chapter act this way, but Saul is the best example, as his appearance, mannerisms, and profession make it as subtle as a brick to the head, boosting him up to cartoonish levels of villainy. Sslen'ck's chancellor also hilariously parodies obviously evil characters who are trusted nonetheless.
As my most trusted advisssor, Blatantly Evil Chancellor, I leave the care of our village in your capable handsss.
Also, the Mysterious Man AKA Steele. Mardek comments that he never knew anyone with an eyepatch, despite his facial features and personality completely giving his identity away. Heck, if you have Donovan in your party, he'll ask "why did he have to come back?"
Oddly enough, we see its inverse at the end of the game. When Lone Wolf starts talking with Mardek, Mardek appears to recognize who he actually is despite the fact that he's much more disguised than the other two.
Presumably, the fact that they grew up together would make it easier for Mardek to see through Deugan's new identity.
Percent Damage Attack: Spirit Nova, which halves the maximum HP of the target (provided their level isn't too high). Legion can learn it, which is incredibly useful against Mithril Golems.
And, as it turns out, Zach, pre-mercenary career, was once one of these. Actually, they were Mardek's exact words. Capitalised and everything.
Quote Mine: Elwyen is happy when she can quote Mardek telling her she's hot. Note that Mardek was telling her this in avolcano.
Redemption Demotion: Averted with Sslen'ck, who is just as powerful when you fight him as when he joins you.
Of course, since he's a Flunky Boss, he's actually of a reasonable power level for that point of the game.
Relationship Values: As you level up characters, new dialogue unlocks about themselves, current conditions, etc. that you can access by pressing a button while wandering around.
Required Party Member: Solaar immediately forces ximself unto the party when you meet xim. In the second version of this trope, certain party members are required for interaction with some important events, such as requiring Legion for entering the Lost Monastary and Elwyen for recruiting Gloria.
Secret Test of Character: Qualna, via the King attempts to do this to Mardek & Co. by obtaining the Elemental Crystals. Despite how poorly he portrays the King and that his disguise, Clavis explains about the balance of the world and lectures them when they obtain the Water Crystal, it fails.
Stepford Smiler: Most of the workers in the Warport. Considering they're demons, though, this is not really surprising.
Take That: Talking to an NPC in Goznor dressed as a zombie, Rohoph makes a jab at Sonny, a rival Flash RPG, by sarcastically remarking that the plot of someone waking up a zombie is thrilling. Note that in the same line of conversation, Mardek (who is normally regarded as fairly dim) likes the plot idea.
Tempting Fate: While the consequences haven't occurred yet, it nonetheless seems extremely likely that giving an extremely powerful crystal (which drove a monastery insane, and is specifically noted to seem disconcertingly similar to the Violet Crystal that kicked off the plot) to the Dark-aligned High Priest of YALORT will have negative consequences. Vehrn's take on it?
"Then we'll see that I was right and nothing bad will happen."
Saul: That would be I, answered Saul affirmatively. What of this?, he went on further to ask, the ivory protuberances of his gaunt visage lit eerily by the dim torchlight; the furry dark caterpillars of his brow dancing in antipode to suggest particular suspicion; wanting for an answer that does not test his patience and his undead...
Title Drop: Multiple times, whenever you talk to Clavis.
A Wizard Did It: Referred to by name in the in-game encyclopedia entry as the explanation for how the sand behaves in the Sandflow Caves.
Gloria says the same thing if you talk to her when inside the Tainted Grotto.
Deena, one of the souls within Legion, used to be married to the wizard responsible. She refers to him as The Wizard Who Did It, capitalized just like that, if you speak to Legion while inside the Grotto.