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The Wandering You

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Many of the RPGs that don't show enemies beforehand on screen have a random encounter rule which is activated when the player moves. Since there is a very good chance the player won't be running in circles (unless they do that on purpose) the best way to make sure the player has many fights is to make them walk. A lot.

Some games have huge expanses of land seemingly built for this reason, although the overworld is noticeably shrunken. This essentially pointless space helps make the world realistically big, but seems to coincide with the point where the player sets the character on 'run'. Luckily, the advance of technology has made such trekking prettier, graphically speaking.

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Naturally this becomes less of a hassle with the Global Airship. See also Fake Longevity.

The name of this trope comes from a non-Biblical Christian myth about a Jewish cobbler cursed with immortality by Jesus for mocking him on his way to his destiny. He's the wandering Jew. See also, The Flying Dutchman.

Examples

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  • Breath of Fire II has this in general, but the worst case happens when you reach Capitan and save the townspeople there. Ray wants to reward you with a blessing, so you have to go back to the hideout... at the other end of the continent. Once you have the blessing, you have to walk back to Capitan, where Sana the Fire Shaman drags the main character off for some private business involving "uniting". When you've finished setting the house on fire you get back to town and a man says your friends got bored and walked back to the hideout on their own. You're then (thankfully!) warped back home and told to get a carpenter... from Capitan. Once you get there for the third time and hire a carpenter, you're finally allowed to move on with the plot. Fortunately not too long after you'll start to gather transport methods that save a lot of frustration.
  • In Caves of Qud if you manage to get lost on the Qud's world map (and you will), you'll certainly feel like you're getting brutalized by this trope.
  • The bonus dungeon in the DS version of Chrono Trigger requires you to go back and forth through a single section, fighting the exact same enemies every time, because every time you bring back the fruit the questgiver asked about it's not the right one.
  • Diablo 2, very much so. To get anywhere requires very, very long stretches of doing nothing more than walking and chopping your way through hundreds of demons.
  • Dragon Quest VIII has an enormous world to explore filled with useful but ultimately nonessential treasures, which seem to be placed around only to get you to explore more.
  • While there is a fast travel feature in Skyrim, as well as the option to take carriages to all hold capitals, the game still largely requires the player to walk to most destinations. This is also the best way to trigger random events, which often come in the form of battles (such as a dragon attack, or a vampire ambush).
  • While linear the maps in Enchanted Arms are rather long. This serves to slowly drain your endurance with the frequent ecounters unless you are strong enough or skilled enough to finish every battle in a single round.
  • Appears in all of the games of the Fallout franchise. Aside from the many enemies you will find wandering the wasteland from quest location to quest location you will also find many new quests and other small events.
  • Some of the areas in Final Fantasy I seemed to be placed as far out of the way as possible, just to make travel take as long as possible and give plenty of time for random monsters to do their thing. It wasn't uncommon to arrive at a new area and find that one needed to grind a bit before one would be able to survive the trip to the dungeon of the region, to say nothing of actually making it to the bottom of that dungeon.
  • The Mi'ihen Highroad and the Calm Lands in Final Fantasy X fit this trope being rather large areas with nothing of interest within them. The trope is mitigated since you can rent chocobos and avoid any encounters.
  • In Final Fantasy XII all of the maps that are not dungeons, and even some of the dungeons are rather large open areas, filled with monsters. That a large number of the areas seem rather pointless is one of the complaints against the game.
  • In Legacy Of The Ancients you're going to spend most of this game wandering the landscape, fighting critters, and wandering from town to town. Museum coins aren't very common.
  • Phantasy Star II has sprawling dungeons with no scenery and few rewards, often little more than the Fetch Quest object/person you're there to find. The sprawl generally doesn't even involve branches or side rooms - it's all one crooked line you have to walk through, just fighting as you go. One rapidly gets the impression that the only reason these places are so large is to give the random encounters time to wear down the player.
  • Pokémon. You're traveling across the entire region, battling all Pokémon and trainers in your path (if you so choose).
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver (and their remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver) you're traveling across not only one entire region, but two. Luckily, you already have all the HMs and over-leveled Pokémon you need, so you don't have to trek all the way across the region after you've explored it once like you do before you get Fly.
  • Sailing the sky in Skies of Arcadia takes up much of your time. Between traveling from destination to destination and finding all of the uncharted islands you will be seeing a lot of clouds, and many, many more random encounters.
  • Both played straight and subverted in the Suikoden series.
    • In Suikoden the world map is rather large and it takes a bit of walking to get from one place to another. However the trope ends up subverted in that when the game detects that you are walking in a straight line in one direction it will decrease the encounter rate. If the player starts zig zagging or walking in circles then the encounter rate would go up.
    • Suikoden IV played this straight to an extent that annoyed many players. The world map this time is an open ocean that you sail about in your headquarters. The map is rather large, the islands are very far apart, and the ship is very slow. These facts are then exacerbated by the extremely high encounter rate while at sea.
  • A lot of time in Sunless Sea is spent just zailing around doing nothing else encountering various things in the zee.
  • Touhou Labyrinth: The dungeons have you control a chibified Reimu wandering around a seemingly empty area, with an encounter percentage rising for every step you take to let you know when the enemies will attack.
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