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Literature / Record of Lodoss War

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Clockwise from top; Deedlit, Slayn, Etoh, Parn, Ghim and Woodchuck

I will defend the peace of Lodoss... with my life!

It first began as a series of role-playing game sessions (with the 1983 Basic Set of Dungeons & Dragons, no less), recorded and transcribed into a series of Actual Play articles in Comptiq Magazine from 1986 to 1988 to commemorate D&D's first anniversary of publication in Japan, which were then adapted into a series of novels by game master Ryo Mizuno, published from 1988 to 1993. In 1990, it became an animated 13-part OVA series, and from then on it branched into movies, manga and TV series (some of which were alternate universe versions of the OVA, but which followed the story in the original novels more closely). It even returned to its roots as Lodoss RPG, an RPG supplement created in order to avoid copyright issues with TSR. The system developed for it would then be used to create Sword World RPG, the first addition of which featured a setting that shared some classes and world building elements, but was wholly separate until Lodoss Island was integrated into the setting in it's 1.5 update, bringing things full circle.

What is "it"? It is Record of Lodoss War, a sprawling epic which incorporates nearly every Tolkien-esque, and D&D, fantasy cliche in the book, but does so with style, panache and sincerity. The lovely art and character designs by Yutaka Izubuchi and Nobuteru Yuki make the OVA series a visual feast, in spite of its rather limited animation. The swelling orchestral score by Mitsuo Hagita makes it an aural feast as well.

As far as plot goes, it's standard RPG fare: Kid Hero Parn and his cleric buddy Etoh find themselves Walking the Earth, investigating evil after Parn gets himself thrown out of his hometown. Joining up with them are the wizard with the cool name, Slayn Starseeker, and his friend, the dwarf Ghim, who are on a quest to locate a missing White Mage named Laylia. They are soon joined by Deedlit, a wispy Elf who is Friend to All Living Things (and who falls for Parn like a cliff-diver in concrete shoes). At some point in the adventure, our heroes come upon the last member of their main party, the grungy, trouble-prone thief Woodchuck, whom they must rescue from prison (and who from there goes on to repeatedly demonstrate just why he was thrown into prison in the first place.) Our heroes must fight battles large and small — with insane but beautiful witches, mountain-sized dragons, creepy dark elves, badass Black Knights, evil armies, and the godlike forces which threaten to tear their world apart. When one of their number is eventually captured to power the Big Bad's End of The World as We Know It Machine, our heroes must snap into action to save their friend. Ultimately, Parn discovers that, to make everything right again, he must somehow restore the Balance Between Good and Evil, but just how does one do that, while the villains are hacking away at them and the world around them is crumbling into a pile of artfully drawn boulders? You'll have to watch to find out.

This OAV adaptation largely adapts the story that became the first volume of the novelization; "The Grey Witch". However, in its last five episodes, it attempts to cram in the story of the third and fourth novel volumes; a two-parter called "The Demon Dragon of Fire Dragon Mountain" — this leads to a looser adaptation and an OAV-unique ending.

The series was followed by a Spin-Off anime; Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight. Often mistaken for a sequel, this is actually an alternative Animated Adaptation, presenting a more faithful adaptation of the last three stories of the novelization series; "The Demon Dragon of Fire Dragon Mountain" two-parter, "The Kings' Holy War", and "The Holy Knights of Lodoss", a second two-parter and the finale of the original campaign.

The OVA production itself is played straight and with earnestness — which is probably one of its greatest strengths, since this approach makes the events all the more epic and edge-of-your-seat dramatic as the stories near its conclusion. In contrast, "Chronicles of the Heroic Knight" inserts humorous Omakes at the end of every episode, which were either enjoyable comic interludes, or which undermined the whole tone of the series, depending on how you looked at them. This series is actually more closely based on the plots of the original D&D-game-inspired novels than the beautiful OVA, and there are a number of different manga that also fill in the gaps to tell the full, true story. That said, regardless of what came after, the OVA version of the story stands out as one of the better examples of pure, Dungeons & Dragons-inspired high fantasy. It's often joked that Record of Lodoss War is the D&D campaign a DM would like to run, while Slayers is what most D&D campaigns are actually like.

See also Rune Soldier Louie, which is set in the same world as Lodoss, on the northern continent of Alecrast (Though it's more of a Sword World Spin-Off since Alecrast was introduced as the game's initial setting, so it's connection to Lodoss is retroactive), and Legend Of Crystania (a novel, film and OVA series that partly serve as a Distant Epilogue about Ashram and Pirotess). The same author later wrote Record of Grancrest War.

In 2019, a Distant Sequel by Mizuno titled Record of Lodoss War: The Crown of the Covenant was published as part of the 30th anniversary of the original book series. The next year it was adapted into a three-volume manga by Atsushi Suzumi.

In commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of Lodoss in animation, a metroidvania-style game titled Record of Lodoss War -Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth- was released to Steam Early Access on March 12, 2020, and made a full release on March 27, 2021, with a console release on December 16, 2021.

Also in 2021, a full set of the original Comptiq issues that serialized the original play sessions of Parn's party was finally assembled (their preservation having been something of a struggle in the Internet era), and a fan-created English translation of those articles was assembled by an individual named Trotti. You can find said translation preserved on here.

Not to be confused with Record of Agarest War, Record of Grancrest War, or Record of Wortenia War.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Naturally, almost anyone who was a player character in the play sessions will end up as this in the adaptations. Deedlit, Shiris, Ryna, and Leaf all get their turns at doing awesome stuff, with the former two perhaps being best-known for it thanks to starring in multiple adaptations. The only PC who doesn't get much of a turn at this is Young Neese, and that's mostly due to her following a different archetype.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: The opening of Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight features absolutely gorgeous animation (especially for the time, as the show was produced in 1998 and was still hand-animated) and an award-worthy song from a young 18-year-old Maaya Sakamoto. The show itself features far sparser action sequences, more still frames, and far more talking.
  • Actual Play: One of the earliest examples of the type (so early, in fact, that for much of this TVT entry's life, it was classified as an After-Action Report because that was the only frame of reference for it). The articles documenting the play sessions ran in Comptiq Magazine from September of 1986 to September of 1988, covering the adventures of Parn's party (September '86 to April '87), Orson's party (June '87 to July '88), and Spark's party (September '87 to Sep. '88); Orson and Spark ran in partial tandem because of how popular the AP series had gotten. GM Ryo Mizuno then adapted the play sessions into a series of novels, and the franchise grew from there.
  • Adaptational Badass: Give Shiris some credit. She might have fallen for the Faux Action Girl role a few times in the TV series, but she had some serious balls when she held off Orson WHILE IN HIS BERSERKER RAGE BY HERSELF.
  • After-Action Report: As noted, for a long time the origins of the franchise were classified as this, and in a lot of ways it straddles the line between this and Actual Play due to how ahead of its time it was; audio-visual distribution of play sessions wasn't even remotely on the table yet for a wide variety of reasons, so the sessions were recorded as serialized magazine articles, and are comparable in ways to the AARs found in similar, contemporary magazines of the time such as White Dwarf and the American Dragon. In content, however, they're much more recognizable today as AP sessions, and the articles follow a similar flow to modern AP content in recording what all the players are doing in "real-time" and how the GM is reacting to this.
  • The Alliance:
    • Fallis and Flaim, though in the anime, it's referred to as a federation.
    • An evil example would be Alania and Marmo.
  • Alternate Continuity: The TV series is not at all a sequel to the OVA, but a more faithful adaptation of the source material, as it follows up on Parn's campaign as it was told in the manga and the novels, adapting Orson's and Spark's campaigns in greater detail. Specifically, Parn's backstory in the TV series only involved the war against Beld and the campaign against Karla, which played out slightly differently than was shown in the OVA, and the Shooting Star and Kardis Resurrection arcs were redone as arcs in the TV series.
  • All There in the Manual / Truer to the Text:
    • The first OVA episode, the one featuring the trip through the Great Dwarf Tunnel, is meant to be a significant part of the party's journey to meet with Wort and discuss the matter of Karla and her allegiance. It was, in fact, a major chapter of the Actual Play series (which capped off the initial run of Parn's party up through April 1987), a bit of a fan-favorite, and was selected as a good "action chapter" to start off with. A viewer of the OVA is expected to be able to understand this with the help of either the AP or the novelization... which means, if you're an anglophone who watched the OVA decades before either of those resources were available in English, the structure of the OVA in this regard can be substantially more confusing. The history for this very entry demonstrates how much confusion there was in the anglophone community over where exactly in the show chronology this episode was meant to fall.
    • On a similar note, the relationship between the OVA and the Chronicles of the Heroic Knight TV series can be confusing. The main thing to note is that the OVA effectively tried to compress the major beats of the other two campaigns into its final five episodes — this is why they feel like they come a little out of nowhere and aren't as well-connected to the wider narrative, and why OVA episode 8 feels like it might make for a decent conclusion to the show, because it was the conclusion to Parn's campaign. Orson and Shiris, from campaign 2, join Team Parn, but their other party members and the entirety of Team Spark are completely adapted out. CotHK doesn't follow on straight from the OVA, because it is meant to replace the OVA after about episode 8 or so — it was the long-awaited adaptation of the Orson and especially the Spark campaigns. This, of course, was made about as clear as thick mud to international audiences coming into Lodoss for the first time through the animated adaptations exclusively, which were exported decades ahead of any other material, so just why the adaptations were structured the way they were wasn't clear at all to those viewers, and contributed to some of the criticism both shows faced.
      • And so, for reference, a good "proper" viewing order would be something like OVA 1-8 and then CotHK 1-26, treating OVA 9-13 as a "what if" story for if Team Parn had to handle all the crises that spun off of the War of Heroes. It still isn't precise (CotHK followed on more specifically from the manga adaptation of Parn's arc), but it provides a reasonably coherent viewing experience that roughly follows the arc of the Actual Play campaigns and the novels.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The monster races and the Dark Elves — although the latter are allowed to be a bit more morally ambiguous.
  • And the Adventure Continues: While the main cast's major quests appear to be over at the end of the anime, Ashram and Pirotess take the people of Marmo away from Lodoss to found a new kingdom somewhere that isn't a monster-infested wasteland. This tale would be continued in the standalone anime film Legend of Crystania (with Ashram making a Deal with the Devil to give his people a new homeland, turning evil due to being possessed, and receiving a Mercy Kill from Pirotess).
  • Angry Cheek Puff: In episode 5 of the OAV, Deedlit tries to get Parn to pay attention to the Pimped-Out Dress she's wearing for the party but he fails to notice it, causing her to get so upset she puffs both of her cheeks so hard her face starts to get red.
  • Animated Adaptation:
    • The OAV and Chronicles of the Heroic Knight are anime adaptation of the novelizations of the original Actual Play sessions.
    • Ironically, of the five storiesnote , the second has never received an Animated Adaptation, although it has gotten a manga adaptation. Translated as either "The Blazing Devil" or "The Burning Demon", this story is set in the desert kingdom of Flaime, and revolves around Parn and Deedlit trying to rescue Woodchuck after he was possessed by Karla at the end of the first story, "The Grey Witch", only for them to end up being caught in a civil war between the two peoples of Flaime; the Wind Tribe and the Fire Tribe.
  • The Anime of the Game: The history here is slightly twisty. The Actual Play sessions used Dungeons & Dragons rules (Parn's campaign used BECMI D&D, specifically, and helped advertise it), but by the time the OVA was released, TSR (then-owners of D&D) had declined to allow the creation of a formal Alecrast/Lodoss D&D supplement, so everyone involved made their own Tabletop RPG, Sword World, which has since served as the rules and setting for all Alecrast-based media (Lodoss, Crystania, and Rune Soldier). So, the OVA would have been the first-ever "D&D anime" (and as noted in other entries, the BECMI DNA still runs strong throughout), but by the time of release, it was effectively a "Sword World anime".
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Lodoss' most powerful rulers have a habit of being legends in their own time. This trope is probably most literal with Kashue, who becomes King of Flaim by forcibly uniting its people.
  • The Atoner: Leylia is desperate to atone for the chaos that she inflicted upon Lodoss during her time under the possession of Karla, the Grey Witch.
  • Badass Bookworm: Slayn's apprentice Cecil seems to turn into one after the Time Skip, no doubt thanks to Slayn's comment that he might have missed his true calling as a warrior.
  • Badass Cape: Ashram, Kashue, Parn, and Deedlit to name the big ones.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Not surprising, since this anime is based off of a Tabletop Games influenced by Dungeons & Dragons, in which said Balance is a central concept.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The spirits summoned up by Elven magic and the statuettes on top of the Rod of Domination.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: This is where the final showdown takes place in the TV series.
  • Berserk Button: DON'T hurt women in Orson's presence. Double if it's Shiris, his partner and Morality Pet. The TV series gives us the heartbreaking reason for that particular button: he became a berserker upon witnessing his older sister's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The Berserker: Orson. Literally. Holy SHIT, you don't want Orson to ever get pissed at you.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Shiris, as it was deconstructed by Orson when he got his emotions back. Shiris was bested by Parn in the first episode of the TV series, and after that, Shiris was quite adamant that she was in love with him. However, Orson pointed out that she was really resentful of Parn beating her and desperately wanted to replace that resentment with another emotion, namely "love", in order to regain her lost pride. Shiris didn't take this lecture very well.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Leylia, a priestess of the Marfa (the goddess of creation), is a kind-hearted girl who hates seeing people suffer more than anything. But don't over step that boundary, because she WILL send your soul to the other side if necessary.
  • Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: Happens to both Ghim and Garrack, though Garrack got better at the end.
  • Black-and-White Morality: At the end of the day in Lodoss, the epic battle is always between the forces of good and the forces of evil. However, there are some exceptions, such as with the Karla and Ashram who are more in the grey.
  • Black Knight: Ashram. He is aptly named "the Black Knight".
  • Black Magic: Wagnard, the Dark Wizard, majored in this — only he got kicked out of the magic school for doing so.
  • Blank White Eyes: When Orson gets these, you know he's about to go berserk in T-minus zero seconds.
  • Breast Plate: Deedlit's armor, which does little to cover anything below her shoulders and chest. (Note, however, that she is wearing something under said armor.)
  • Breather Episode: Episode twenty of the TV series has a big shift in atmosphere, with the teams relaxing at a banquet and Spark and Neese's relationship being the focus. All in all, the episode has lots of laughs and is much more light-hearted. Unfortunately, the episode doesn't end on the same note.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Groder, Ashram's new right-hand man after the time skip, lost his powers after performing magic that saved Ashram from committing suicide.
  • Captain Obvious: After the party has had fireballs thrown at them from unseen sources for around three minutes, Slayn shouts "Look out, that's a fire spell!"
  • Celibate Hero: There's no doubt that Spark and Little Neese are both attracted to each other, and they might very well think of each other as a lot more, but neither of them can do much due to certain circumstances with their quest.
  • Character Development: In the TV series, a lot of development happens with Orson in the first half and Spark in the second half.
  • Chaste Hero: Although Deedlit is attracted to Parn, he is often oblivious and/or doesn't know how to deal with it. Even so, she persists and he eventually returns her affection. By contrast, Etoh isn't so oblivious to Fianna's affections.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • In the beginning of the TV series, Spark and Little Neese are briefly introduced as children. Later, they become two of the most important people in the series. Lampshaded in one of the omake episodes.
    • Wagnard counts as well, as he and his plans are introduced in the first half of the series but he doesn't become a major villain until the time skip.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    Kashue to Parn: "If you hadn't stopped to think about the consequences, then you might have won."
    • Came in handy in episode eight, in the final showdown with the Black Knight in that story arc.
    • Similarly, in episode ten, Parn turns this around and becomes The Mentor to the new hero, Spark:
      Spark: "Yes sir! I will never abandon my duties like I did last night!"
      Parn: "Don't do that either. It's wrong to abandon yourself. Don't become a man who lives only for the duty that's given to him. You'll understand someday."
    • This comes into play in episode 18, when Spark has to decide whether to continue following his orders to return home if he failed, or to follow his heart and chase after the bad guys he failed to stop.
  • The Chessmaster: Karla, the Grey Witch, is pretty much responsible for the on-again-off-again peace and war in Lodoss for the last 500 years.
  • Co-Dragons: Ashram, who, ironically, fights a lot of real dragons himself, and Wagnard, who becomes the Big Bad of the OAV.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: When Parn saves Shiris from Orson's berserker-induced attacks, what does she say as thanks?
    Shiris: "Hey! Who said you could save me!?"
  • Compressed Adaptation: The OVA only adapts Parn's campaign, with characters and plot points from Orson's and Spark's mixed in. Chronicles of the Heroic Knight skips over Parn's part of the story altogether to focus on Orson and Spark instead.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Hobb has this with his duty as a priest of the Kingdom of Flaim and his duty (which is to find true heroism, even if it's on the opposing side) to his god, Myrii, the god of war.
  • Crapsack World: Hey, Lodoss ain't called "The Accursed Island" for nothing. It was created when the Gods of Light and Darkness fought a war that ended in a Mutual Kill and sundered the formerly whole continent, and ever since has been bedeviled by endless wars, egged on by a mad centuries-old body-snatching sorceress who keeps the island in a state of endless conflict because she believes that unity would only bring about an even greater calamity. To put things in perspective, at the time of the first story, the island is just recovering from being assaulted by Maou the Demon King thirty years earlier... and now a would-be emperor is trying to conquer the island. And that emperor was one of the heroes who slew the Demon King.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The religious pantheon of gods and system of clergy set up in the Lodoss world, many of whom, oddly enough, wear Christian-esque crosses.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Pirotess is every bit as beautiful as her Light Elf counterpart, Deedlit, while the male Dark Elves who are with her seem comparatively hideous. This race-wide ugliness apparently doesn't strike male High Elves, as one appears in a spin-off manga with a traditionally Bishōnen appearance.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: The horrible death of Orson's older sister in front of him is what unlocks his berserker side.
  • Deal with the Devil: Emperor Beld's alliance with the Witch Karla, which, like most of these, goes horribly wrong for the dealee.
  • Degraded Boss: The goblin chieftain from the second episode is reused as a Marmo soldier a few times.
  • The Determinator: Garrack, Parn, and Spark. Special mention goes to spark toward the end of the TV series.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Emperor Beld. Built up as the Big Bad, he goes down roughly 1/3 through the overall storyline.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • So, Wagnard crossed the line with the academy of magic by switching over to The Dark Arts and was therefore justifiably booted out. And this has driven his whole agenda of resurrecting the almighty evil black goddess Kardis and wanting to become the King of the Dead. Even Neese pointed out that this was a childish vendetta.
    • When Kashue's forces fail to slay Shooting Star, the dragon says that he would kill a hundred humans for every scale that was scratched. We can't do the math for that, but damn!
  • The Dragon: Ashram is this to King Beld.
  • Dragon Rider: One of Valis's allies, the Kingdom of Moss, has trained small wyvern-type dragons as mounts for their elite soldiers.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Orson taking the spirit of anger back to save Shiris, kills both the Dark Elf, the skeleton warriors, and the amazon that beat Shiris, receiving mortal wounds in the process.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Firstly, the various adaptations of Parn's arc are collectively one of the great preservers of a quirk of BECMI D&D compared to later versions — one might notice how prominently Ghim doesn't fight like Parn, and how different Deedlit's magic is compared to Slayn, Etoh and other human magic users. This is because Elf, Dwarf and Halfling were classes in BECMI - race/ancestry selection distinct from job class wasn't a feature of that edition, and classes were more like archetypes. The various adaptations thus played off the difference as Deedlit's magic being spirit magic to help represent the mechanical distinction between the three casters in the party in the BECMI rules, and Ghim uses a different fighting style than Parn for much the same reason, as he was a different archetype. In addition to this being an oddity of BECMI, later Lodoss works, most notably the 1998 TV series that adapted Spark's arc, would acknowledge the trend of separating heritage and fighting class (both in D&D and in, by then, Lodoss's new Sword World home system), and featured non-humans with obviously different classes than the BECMI standard.
    • More traditionally, the original Actual Play did not feature a Parn/Deedlit romance. That was one of the more obvious flourishes that Mizuno added when writing the novelizations — and which actually caused a little discontent among fans of the AP series when the novels were new. The more things change...
    • The OVA also made the rather controversial (in Japan) decision to effectively combine elements of all three Actual Play campaigns into a Parn-centric narrative; Wagnard was the villain for Spark's party, and it was Orson's party that hard to deal with Shooting Star. In the OVA, Team Parn basically has a hand in dealing with all three, albeit having Orson and Shiris tag in after Ghim dies and Wood Chuck is lost to Karla's circlet. The other members of Team Orson don't appear, and Spark's party is completely absent. This was in fact a major driver for Chronicles of the Heroic Knight existing, to give Spark, Neese and the gang a chance to exist in animation at all. All later franchise material has made sure to give the three parties more equal weight and make clear who did what. (The controversy, meanwhile, was completely lost on international viewers, who at the time of release likely didn't even know Spark's party existed.)
  • The Emperor: The initial central antagonist of the story is Emperor Beld of Marmo, who once saved Lodoss as part of a band of heroic adventurers who slew the Demon King thirty years ago, as mentioned in OVA 5, but in the present now seeks to conquer all of Lodoss.
  • The Empire: Marmo, which, being evil, is also a Mordor-type country. Ironically, the "empire" covers far less land than any of the other kingdoms (which might be why Beld is out to conquer them all).
  • Ending Theme: Notably, the OVA actually has an English version of the closing credits theme for the dub (as well as the opening theme) — and it fits remarkably well.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: What will happen if Wagnard succeeds in his plan of resurrecting the Destroyer.
  • Enemy Mine: It's a given that King Kashue and Lord Ashram aren't exactly buddies. But during the showdown at Fire Dragon Mountain, they each must put aside their differences and join their teams together in order to defeat Shooting Star, whom they both want dead for their own reasons.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ashram and Pirotess as befitting the evil counterparts of Parn and Deedlit. It culminates in an anti-villain sacrifice where Pirotess dies protecting Ashram.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Governer Rabido is so ludicrously villainous that the high council of Marmo dispatches Ashram to express their "disappointment" in him.
    • Ashram disapproves of Wagnard's resurrection scheme for different reasons. In the OVA, it is partially out of revenge for losing Pirotess and being manipulated. In the TV, he simply objects to Wagnard torturing Neese as a sacrifice (but he doesn't try to stop him there).
  • Evil Counterpart: Ashram is the evil counterpart to Parn, and Pirotess is the evil counterpart to Deedlit.
  • Evil Is Hammy: As he becomes the central villain, Wagnard chews huge bits of scenery with gleeful villainy, with a frighteningly scary laugh to boot. He especially gets Drunk on the Dark Side at the climax of the OVA when he blasts both Ashram and Parn with his scepter with lightning bolts. Even when Ashram kills him, he still gets to get in one final scene to chomp on as he screams, "All Lodoss is doomed! Hahahaha! Nothing will remain! NOTHING! Hahahahahahahaha!"
  • Evil Laugh: Once he becomes the main badguy, Wagnard does a lot of maniacal cackling, particularly in the latter half of the OVA.
  • Evil Counterpart: Deedlit and Pirotess resemble each other, and play similar back-up roles for the men they are in love with.
  • Eye Scream: Woodchuck flings his dagger at the dragon in the first episode of the OVA, and it his the beast square in the eye.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Ghim doesn't seem particularly fond of high elves, as he makes quite a few less than subtle comments toward Deedlit.
    • Deedlit, likewise, makes a derogatory comment about dwarves. She's also suspicious of dark elves.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Before setting out to battle Emperor Beld's army, Parn meets a soldier who carried a charm given to him by his son. He dies in battle.
  • Faux Action Girl: Deedlit in the OVA carries a sword and is takes part in battle but doesn't do as well as her companions. Shiris doesn't fare much better. They get better in the TV series
  • Floating in a Bubble: How Wagnard manages to capture Deedlit for his nefarious plan.
  • Friend to All Living Things: In her first episode, Deedlit scolds Parn for attacking a tree and harming it, along with the spirits living there.
  • Genius Bruiser: Aldonova the wizard, who's twice the size of most other characters and can haul around an armored dwarf like a sack of potatoes, but is really unaccustomed to conflict.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: When sacrificing a pretty female high elf to summon the goddess of darkness, it is absolutely vital that she be wearing a skimpy black dress. Poor Deedlit.
  • A God Am I: Said to be the reason behind the downfall of the Kingdom of Kastul. It was a kingdom of powerful sorcerers and magic users, but the people forgot their limits as human beings and were eventually ransacked by barbarian warriors.
  • God of Evil: The Dark Gods, led by Phalaris, the God of Darkness. Their only survivor was Kardis, the Goddess of Destruction.
  • God of Good: The Light Gods, led by Phalis, the God of Light. Their only survivor was Marfa, the Goddess of Creation.
  • The Good King: Basically, omit the evil rulers and you have a continent full of these.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The English dub of the OVA episodes remove all instances of profanity.
  • Grand Theft Me: Karla the Grey Witch, whose magical circlet allows her to take over anyone she wants. And we mean anyone. Poor Woodchuck!
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Kardis, Goddess of Destruction, whom the forces of Mormo worship and Wagnard plans to summon.
  • Helicopter Parents: Aldo, who is normally sensitive and quiet, takes on this role with Little Neese, constantly sheltering her from everything, and is always keeping a fierce eye on Spark.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The home of the elves is called the Forest of no Return and they're not too enthusiastic about intermingling with the worries of the outside world.
  • High Collar of Doom: All of the antagonistic characters have these.
  • High Fantasy: Played straight and with earnestness, much like the tone the franchise's inspiration had when Lodoss was conceived. This is a quite high-magic world with a wide variety of non-human peoples in it.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Forest of No Return. That sounds welcoming.
  • I Gave My Word: Spark began uttering this when he was being pummeled by Naneel's dark energy when she takes control over Neese's body since he earlier promised Neese that he would protect her with his life.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight:
    • Not a fight with the person in question, but in the TV series finale Spark is struggling and fighting against dark energy that is being spewed at him by Neese, who is being possessed by the dark priestess Naneel, in order to get through to her. She is able to free herself of Naneel's grip on her soul enough to allow Spark through to her subconscious right before she is absorbed into darkness. Once there, the real battle begins.
    • Happens in the OVA when Ghim tries to reach Leylia, who was, at the time, Karla's most recent host. He did not come out alive, though, and then Woodchuck was possessed afterward.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Episode 10: The Demon Dragon of Fire Dragon Mountain.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Inverted with Little Neese, in that she is the reincarnation of Naneel, the evil high priestess of the even more evil goddess Kardis. However, Neese herself is a priestess to Marfa, the goddess of light, but unfortunately is a candidate for being the vessel for Naneel's soul on account of her being a virgin. During the final showdown, Neese fully accepts Naneel into her... however, the girl is that damn devoted to Marfa that Naneel AND Kardis are pretty much vanquished on contact.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The Dark Elf in the TV series Omakes.
  • Inherent in the System: During the war of the gods, Kardis lay a curse on the continent of Alecrast as she was dying. Then, in an effort to counter that curse, Marfa performed a miracle and split the continent in two, one half being saved and the other half being cursed.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Long ago in Lodoss' backstory, the rulers of a unified Lodoss did some stupid things that got their nation destroyed. Karla, the sole "survivor", is dedicated to making sure that never happens again. But for some reason, she blames the destruction on the fact that Lodoss was unified rather than the mistakes its rulers made, and dedicates her life to keeping everyone at each other's throats so that they can never unite again instead of making sure that they are ruled intelligently.
  • Item Get!: When Parn is given a holy knight's shield by King Fahn in the sixth episode of the OVA, he holds it up and a short fanfare plays. Considering the origins of the series (being based on a game of Dungeons & Dragons played by the creators), it may even be a lampshading.
  • It's Personal: Parn develops a grudge against Ashram after...the fortress he'd been staying in is sacked and its Captain, who he'd just met that day, is killed. Nonetheless, Parn makes it into a personal grudge.
  • Knight Errant: Parn has the title of "Free Knight", meaning that he wanders the land helping people no matter their alliance or nationality.
  • La Résistance: The Free Army who oppose the Marmo.
  • Lady of War: Deedlit and Shiris grow into those. The second is a straighter example after she becomes queen of the dragon riders.
  • Large Ham: In the English dub, Wagnard's VA gets to chew the scenery as his character gets more and more deadly (which actually works in favor of his character).
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Happens in the Breather Episode of the TV series between Spark and Neese, as Ryna pulls Leaf away.
  • Left Hanging: Woodchuck's fate. He comes back briefly in the TV series, but then vanishes for good with no word on what ultimately happens to him.
    • Woodchuck is explained in the Demon of Flame manga, or at least why he isn't explained. Immediately after then end of the first story (which is slightly different than how it's told in the OVA, and fits into the TV continuity), Parn won't stop until he finds Woodchuck and destroys Karla. But when he's in the Desert with Deedlit in the manga that bridges the gap to the TV series, he comes to the conclusion that instead of relentlessly pursuing Karla in revenge, he should try to help fix the world and thus undermine the chaos Karla has created. He still regrets not saving Wood though, as pointed out in episode 2 of the TV series. And poor Wood probably was killed when Karla got her final form for the second part of the TV series.
    • Woodchuck's fate is reportedly revealed in the Record of Lodoss War Next Generation novel series.
  • Long Bus Trip: After the ten year Time Skip, all characters from the first arc make more than one appearance, though they are not the central characters anymore... all except for Cecil, that is. He is shown in one episode during the second arc and is never seen again.
  • Luke Nounverber: Slayn's full name, revealed in the novels and manga, is Slayn Starseeker.
  • MacGuffin: There are sacred and ancient artifacts everywhere in Lodoss, like the Soul Crystal Ball, the Staff of Life, and the Scepter of Domination. And they all have the potential of being artifacts of doom if they fall into the wrong hands.
  • Magic Skirt: Mostly Deedlit in the OVA, and to a lesser extent Shiris.
  • Maou the Demon King: It's mentioned during Parn's visit to the castle of King Fahn of Valis that Lodoss' last great threat, thirty years ago, was a monster lord called "The Demon King", which was defeated by an alliance of six heroes — ironically, including Emperor Beld of Marmo, who now threatens Lodoss himself.
  • Maybe Ever After: The end of the TV series presents us with three pairings and none really get resolved, but they all end on a positive enough note to imply that maybe good things will happen.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: In the grandest tradition of its inspiration. Knights in armor of shining silver and darkest obsidian, dragons of all shapes and sizes, elves, dwarves, sorcerors, a lad with a destiny, extremely fancy dresses, Lodoss has it all.
  • Mordor: The Empire of Marmo. In a twist, it's not the evil of its rulers that blighted the land, but rather that it was always a monster-infested shithole, and the leaders of the people stuck living there had to become ruthless and pragmatic just to survive.
  • Myth Prologue: The OVA opens with a recitation of the Divine Conflict in the backstory of the setting between the gods of light and darkness that split the continent of Lodoss away from the mainland. A compressed version of this myth is used as the Opening Narration before each episode.
  • Mutual Kill: The Divine Conflict that shaped Lodoss ended with the deaths of all of the Gods of Light and Darkness except two; the goddess Kardis and Marfa, who fell into a death-like state when they struck each other down, causing the apocalyptic surge of energy that sundered the continent and split off Lodoss.
  • Never Found the Body: Ashram falling into the lava pit.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Discussed between Priest Hobb and Ashram, as they have no trust in their other teammates.
  • Noble Demon: Ashram, while being the signature Black Knight of the series and one of the key leaders of the Marmo, isn't quite "traditionally" evil like some of the other villains are. He only does what he does because he wants his people to have a home of their own (in the TV series, he even saved a whole village condemned to death by recruiting them into Marmo's service) and doesn't agree at all with Wagnard's plan of destroying the entire world.
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • Parn may be good at the whole hero thing, but he is absolutely clueless when it comes to dealing with Deedlit's affections for him (he overcomes his shyness toward the end). Spark and Neese are also somewhat awkward about their feelings for each other, but not obliviously so.
    • Parn and Deed have a heartwarming moment when he finally clues in after the fight against Shooting Star. He's still tongue-tied around her, but manages to express his feelings via a white rose — and she understands the message perfectly.
  • Offered the Crown: Early in the anime, Kashue mentions to Parm that if he decided to place a claim on the throne of the rulerless kingdom of Alania (where Parm was introduced protecting the locals from overly ambitious nobles), most people would accept him as a worthy ruler, including the villages that had been declaring independence to get away from the infighting of the nobles. In the end, Parm decides not to do so.
  • Ojou Ringlets: On a two-meters-tall heavyweight prince!
  • Older and Wiser: The first band after the time skip in the TV series.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Okoreru Kyousenshi/An Angered Berseker.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Kardis, the Goddess of Destruction, no doubt. Of course, the kook of a black wizard who wants to reincarnate her also deserves mention. Parn even says that the world would be better off if Falaris, the God of Darkness who was supreme leader of the evil gods, was to be resurrected. That's saying something.
  • One We Prepared Earlier: A formal introduction of the characters and plot is not made until the second episode of the OVA. The first episode begins the story with the team en route to meet Wort to talk to him about Karla. We then see the result of that meeting in episode 7.
  • Our Kobolds Are Different: Kobolds are presented here as dwarf-sized humanoid wolves, cementing an identity over in Japan with the story's popularity — very early Dungeons & Dragons art presented kobolds more as vaguely anthropomorphic mixed-up creatures with features reminiscent of dogs, lizards and rats — it wouldn't be until Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition in the west that their now-iconic Western design as "stunted Draconic Humanoids" was born.
  • Our Wyverns Are Different: Wyverns are relatively small (read: elephant-sized), unintelligent, non-fiery, two-legged dragons that are domesticated and flown by knights.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Orson and Shiris. The two are extremely close friends, but not lovers.
  • Pirates: One of The Usual Adversaries in each story arc.
  • Pointy Ears: Non-human humanoids such as elves, dwarves, and grass-runners have them, but some humans such as Wagnard have them too for some reason or another...
  • The Pollyanna: Little Neese all the way. She may be the vessel for an ancient evil dark priestess and is pursued by an equally evil dark wizard, and is seen as The Load by some of her companions, but nothing gets her down.
  • Power at a Price: Wagnard is capable of some pretty strong Black Magic, but because he had turned to practicing The Dark Arts, a Curse was laid on him by the Master Wizard (as well as all black wizards), making Wagnard experience excruciating pain whenever he performs black magic.
  • Power of the Void: Kardis/Naneel don't just want to destroy the world — they want to engulf it into nothingness!
  • Private Military Contractors: Mercenaries make up at least twenty-percent of each team in the series, such as Shiris, Orson, Leaf, and even King Kashue is known as the Mercenary King. The most badass of them is Garrack, the "Blue Meteor". He's not a real mercenary, but a knight of the Kingdom of Flaim.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Orson unknowingly gave this to Shiris when he deconstructed what her "love" for Parn was really motivated by.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Good or evil, most of the rulers in this series are pretty darned sensible.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Shiris and Orson are a classic example and a classic example of the dynamic temporarily inverting when the Blue Oni of the relationship undergoes a massive personality shift due to external stimuli.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Though he lacks emotions which actually makes him a much more efficient fighter, Orson doesn't enjoy fighting and would much rather for his adversaries to run away.
  • Rescue Romance: The last arc of both the OVA and the TV series — Parn's gotta rescue Deed, and Spark's gotta rescue Neese.
  • Rhyming Wizardry: Spells are cast using an incantation that's essentially a rhyme describing the intended effects.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Kashue is a very competent king. He fights well. Despite his Mercenary King title, he is not just a Punch-Clock Hero. He actually cares for his subjects.
  • Say My Name: Constantlyin the OVA, to the point that you could make a Drinking Game of it. "PAHN! DEED-O! LEYLIA! BELDOOOOOO!"
  • Schmuck Bait: In the first episode of the OVA series, none other than Deedlit falls for this in an underground passage when she spots a pretty item on a pedestal. Ghim told her not to touch it, but unfortunately she does, which causes the item to lock her in a vice and the whole surrounding area to cave into an even deeper underground area below.
  • Scenery Censor: The end credits of the OVAs feature an image of Deedlit reclining against a dragon in the nude, in a pose that simultaneously makes it quite clear that she isn't wearing anything while blocking any view of her naughty bits.
  • Scenery Porn: The original OVA is absolutely filled with it.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Deedlit gets to wear a beautiful white Pimped-Out Dress in the OVA, during King Fahn's party. She complains about how tight it is, if only in the hopes of getting Parn to pay attention. Simiarly, Shiris gets to wear a nice red dress (befitting of her red hair and usual red outfit) in the TV series, when she dances with Parn at King Kashue's party. Both of these events are adaptations of the same moment in the novels and manga, which were condensed into one shorter and tighter story for the OVA.
  • Shipper on Deck: In the TV series, Leaf ships Spark/Neese hard.
  • Shoulders of Doom: A very common design element, especially in the OVA. If a character doesn't have naturally broad shoulders, they'll often wear an outfit that gives then absolutely enormous shoulderplates (Deedlit being the most iconic example, with Parn up there too). The idea of Shiris being light and nimble is sold in part by her not wearing such armor and looking far more svelte than the rest of the cast in comparison. And yes, even the initial sketch of the crew in 1986 had this going on to a certain degree!
  • Spell My Name With An S: Huboy. The leads are generally consistent as Parn, Deedlit, Spark and whatnot, but a lot of the secondary or worldbuilding characters can go all over the place:
    • Is the Goddess of Destruction Kardis, Kardiss, Cardiss, or Cardice? All of these spellings have cropped up at times.
    • Ashram's dark elven significant other: is she Pirotess or Piroutesse?
    • Similarly, is Orson's companion Shiris or Shirris?
    • Are the now-deceased supreme gods Phalaris and Pharis or Falaris and Faris?
  • Standard Japanese Fantasy Setting: One of the Trope Codifiers for Japanese media. Originally an Actual Play of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign and later adapted to every medium under the sun, it was the first introduction of many Japanese fans to D&D-style fantasy, and the AP series itself, the initial novel series, and the 1990 OVA were all colossally influential on later works.
  • The Stoic: Due to his status as a literal Berserker, Orson keeps his emotions reeled in to suppress his Unstoppable Rage.
  • Stripperiffic: Pirotess' outfit, a white leather dress with a very short skirt and a top that displays a Navel-Deep Neckline.
  • Summon Magic: This seems to be the specialty of practitioners or shamanic magic, especially Deedlit, who often summons elemental spirits like Undine and Djinn. The TV series features a duel between Deed and the dark elf shaman Astar, who summons an earth elemental named Behemoth to battle Djinn.
  • Super-Deformed: The TV series features an ending tag with the characters in SD style making jokes, sometimes vaguely related to the plot. The dub often tried to translate these jokes and puns.
  • Supporting Leader: King Kashue, and, later, arguably Parn and Deedlit.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Parn and Deedlit respectively.
  • Take Up My Sword: A villainous example. When Emperor Beld is slain, Ashram takes up his evil sword, the Soul Crusher, and vows to make Beld's dream of a united Lodoss under Marmo rule live.
  • Taking You with Me: Wagnard said this to Spark when he stabbed him, but it didn't work. Haha.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Incanting a spell usually takes at least ten seconds. Spark is the only person who ever thinks of attacking the spellcaster while they're doing this.
  • Team Dad: Greevus in the second half of the TV series, especially toward Spark.
  • This Cannot Be!: Uttered by Wagnard when Spark stabbed him.
  • Time Skip: After episode eight of the TV series and the end of the first story arc, there is a ten year time skip in which the second major story arc begins and we are introduced to new protagonists Spark and Little Neese, and ascended antagonist Wagnard.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Parn spends the entire OVA as a reckless wannabe knight with no training and little skill with a sword. Over time he gets better, and in the final episode, he's able to take on Ashram in a swordfight. The manga helps explain the transformation; Parn trained intensively with Kashue in the intervals (which could have been anything from several weeks to several months) between the hunt for Karla, the quest against Shooting Star, and the final attack on Marmo.
    • Both Deedlit and Shiris take quite the levels in the TV series. Specially Deedlit, who manages to kill a dragon with a little bit of help.
  • A True Hero: The ending narration of the original OVA states that learning that the balance of light and darkness must exist is what leads Parn on the path of becoming a true hero.
  • Unusual Ears: Deedlit and Pirotess, whose ears were far longer than what most Western fantasy fans of the time usually attributed to elves. The character designer was supposedly inspired by the antennae on Gundam robots. Thanks to the enormous influence that Lodoss had on fantasy media in Japan, this seems to have influenced the appearance of "elf ears" in all Japanese media afterwards and even bled back into Western productions like World of Warcraft.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: In order for the dark priestess Naneel to be reincarnated, it must be done so with the body of one who is of pure blood. The high priestess of Marfa Leyla was the first contender for this position, but after giving birth to a daughter, it was passed on to her. It makes you wonder why the good guys didn't just put Spark and Neese up in the honeymoon suite at one of the inns where they stayed during their quest and let them screw up Wagnard's plans for another generation. Garrack and Ryna were both pragmatic enough to come up with that solution, and Leaf was rooting for them to get together anyway. Aldonova wouldn't have liked it, but he was enough of a naif and a pushover, despite his size and magic, that the others could probably have either distracted him or just told him to shut up and mind his own business.
  • Walking the Earth: Parn's job requires him to do this. Though he is friends with many princes and kings, such as Kashue and Etoh, he is technically bound to no kingdom.
  • Weapon Tombstone:
    • Ghim's axe marks his grave.
    • In the TV series Orson's sword marks his.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: A not very big example, but in episode six of the TV series, Marr ditches Orson, Shiris, and Cecil on the pirate ship. He is soon intercepted by the rest of the team with Parn, Deedlit, and King Kashue and they all rejoin. Cecil says some words to Marr about him betraying them and Marr just says "sorry" pretty much. After that, they all team up and go along with their objective.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Karla the Grey Witch, whose atrocities were part of an effort to "balance power" in the world and keep it from being destroyed by any one faction. In practice, this just makes things get continually torn apart by the conflict between multiple factions.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Garrack and Ryna — and Leaf ships them from time to time.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • When the gold (Mycen) and black (Narse) dragons fight against each other, they telepathically call out for a green (Abram) and purple (Bramd) dragon, which awaken from their slumber. After they are shown rising from their sleep, the scene changes and they get never shown or mentioned again.
    • Additionally, Parn's trip to Wart's abode and the crew's meeting with Wart is seemingly glossed over, and only brief scenes from it are ever seen, and then only in flashback. (The trip in the Great Dwarf Tunnel is actually a significant leg of that journey and was the climax of the very first Actual Play series, before the three-month break in '87... which is only clear if you've read the AP or the novelization. Guess what anglophones didn't have access to for decades after the OVA's release?)
  • Who Dares?: In episode six of the TV series, the first thing that the sea dragon Abram says is ripped off from Aladdin's Cave of Wonders: "Who dares to disturb my slumber?"
  • Worthy Opponent: Parn and Ashram come to see each other this way in both versions once Parn levels up enough for Ashram to take him seriously; it's especially apparent in their final encounter of the TV series.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Ashram was in a bad form after trashing Wagnard gave him and this gives Parn an advantage.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: In the OVA, Parn is able to destroy the barrier around Kardis' altar and rescue Deedlit by attacking it with both the Holy Sword and Soul Crusher.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: In Chronicles of the Heroic Knight, Spark and his guys constantly try to get one step ahead of Wagnard by getting to the Soul Crystal Ball and to the Staff of Life first. All plans fail — including losing Neese to Wagnard, and the turmoil can only be settled right when Naneel has already been resurrected in Neese, with the world on the verge of impending doom.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Record Of Lodoss War


The War of the Gods

The first episode of the Record of Lodoss War OVA recounts the story of the war between the gods that resulted in almost all of them falling in battle and split the island of Lodoss away from the continent of Alacrast. A compressed version of this retelling is used as the opening narration in the rest of the series.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / MythPrologue

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