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Video Game / Deception

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Being the hero is so dull. You know... it's always the same: Grab your sword, run to the castle of evil, fight against the boss, easily beat him, save the world, everybody loves you, right?

Well, perhaps it's time to play from another angle. After all, playing for the other team has its benefits, too.

In 1996, for the Sony PlayStation, Tecmo released Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness, which, while not a smash success by any stretch of the imagination, allowed the player to do something not often seen in video games: play as the bad guy. The goal of the story was to resurrect Satan, and instead of doing so with direct combat, you utilized a series of deadly traps that you placed throughout your castle. The game did well enough to spark a small series.

The series in general follows the same pattern, with you having to protect your castle for one reason or another, with Death Traps and gizmos. The biggest selling points in general is the same: play from an unusual point of view (the Trap Master) and kill your enemies in gruesome ways. In most of them you are plain evil, but some of them try to leave you in a more ambiguous position, where it's not clear which side is the good one. This actually makes the experience stronger, as one is not sure if what you are doing is right or wrong.


The Deception games consist of:

  1. Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness (Kokumeikan) — Released in July, 1996; rereleased as a PSOne Classic in 2015. As a nameless prince of Zemekia, the player has been framed for the murder of the king by his brother Yurias in a bid for the throne, and he is spirited away by a demoness named Astarte to make a Deal with the Devil to get his revenge.

  2. Kagero: Deception II (Kagero: Kokumeikan Shinsho) — Released in July, 1998. A girl named Millennia is caught up as a Meat Puppet in a power struggle between the Timenoids and the humans over whom they reign.

  3. Deception III: Dark Delusion (Soumatou) — Released in December, 1999. A girl named Reina has been abducted, along with her family, to be sold into slavery in a neighboring kingdom. She is freed by a rebel faction and must decide whose side she is on.

  4. Trapt (Kagero II: Dark Illusion) — Released in June, 2005; rereleased as a PS2 Classic in 2014. Princess Allura has been framed for the murder of her father and flees to a dark castle to escape execution, and while there, a demon offers her a chance for revenge.

  5. Deception IV: Blood Ties (Kagero: Darkside Princess) — Released in March, 2014. Centered around a girl named Laegrinna, an "animated fragment of the imprisoned Devil's soul", she operates under the guidance of three servants: Veruza, Caelea, and Lilia. Received an Updated Re-release in 2015 as Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (Kagero: Another Princess). This version introduces a new 100-level Quest Mode starring the titular Nightmare Princess, Velguirie. It's also a full-blown Crisis Crossover.

A Characters page is in the works.

Demonstrating how inviolate The Wiki Rule is, the series now has a wiki here.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: One of the stages in The Nightmare Princess. Technically, the hospital is occupied... by your character and her victims.
  • Action Girl: Curiously, female PCs outnumber the males five to one.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Or rather, the invaders are adventurers. Each game in the series has a different set of classes the invaders can be comprised of, each of whom have different attacks and react to traps in their own ways.
  • Adventures in Comaland: In The Nightmare Princess Velguirie is the result of this.
  • Aerith and Bob: While some characters have normal names, such as Gordon, the series also has some truly ridiculous names, such as Goatbone, Scuba, Loongear, and others, too numerous to list.
  • Alternate Self: In The Nightmare Princess, due to the weird setting there's basically two versions of each of the other trap mistresses running around. One version loses their soul, while the other goes home. Velguirie herself gets one in Kanata Fuyuno, the high-school girl who dreamed her up.
  • Amusing Injuries: You can be especially creative in The Nightmare Princess, rigging traps that might be more likable to cartoon characters than an evil sorceress. Want to shove a victim down a playground slide, off a trampoline, and then end by punting him through a basketball hoop? That's just one of many sadistic ways to do it.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes:
    • Allura can unlock costumes that let her dress as Millennia and Reina.
    • While not strictly clothes, per se, in Deception IV and Nightmare Princess, you can unlock the female leads of most of the previous Deception games... and Ayane.
    • Also in IV there are four unlockable costumes for Laegrinna: Millennia, Allura, Ayane and Totori.
  • Annoying Arrows: Arrows are a standard death trap but they can do Scratch Damage to armored foes.
  • Antiheroic Mime: The Zemekian prince and Millennia.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Evil series of traps will ignore the defense rating of an enemy's armor (though their immunities may still stop the damage) as does a few other traps like the Delta Horse. Besides your traps, there are environmental hazards that can cut through enemy armour, most of these involve flame or electricity.
  • Arrows on Fire: These can be a more potent trap than regular arrows, especially if enemies are doused in flammable oil first.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: It's possible to set up a series of traps that don't end strong. You can fling an enemy into the air, slice them with a bladed pendulum, impale them on spikes, shoot them with a fireball, grind them into moving gears... and then have them slip on a banana peel.
  • Asshole Victim: Most of the bosses you face tend to be evil and/or deranged psychos. All the people leading up to them, less so.
  • The Atoner: Possible for the player, if the correct Dialogue Trees and courses of action are so chosen throughout the games.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Red Dragon summoned monster. It does tremendous damage to multiple foes, but it's so large that it usually cannot fit into rooms in the castle, plus one of its components is rare.
  • The Backwards Я: The cover art spells the fourth game's title as TЯAPT.
  • Banana Peel: An actual trap offering; it performs just how you expect.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Inverted; these guys (generally) are your enemies.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Tecmo has never been known for their strong translation quality during the PlayStation era, so the first three games have pretty questionable dialogue and even character names. For example, ugh, Goatbone.
  • Black Comedy: Quite a bit. For instance, in Chapter 3 of Invitation to Darkness, you kill a family who are coming to collect a bounty on you for an operation to save their child.
  • Bloodless Carnage: There's no gore at all; spiked iron maidens don't cut victims who take damage from them, not does fire inflict lasting burns. (But then, it's not supposed to be a fighting game.)
  • Blue Blood: Both literally and figuratively in Kagero. The Timenoids are a race of beings with blue skin who rule over humans.
  • Bonus Boss: Pretty much any gaiden character in Trapt, but especially the final side-story bosses of each path: Millennia (trap-tripper) and Kendal (creates illusions), each more inexplicable than the last. (That last one is very "Congratulations"-y.)
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The vase traps. They're what will net you your highest combos early on, especially if you never repeat yourself in a combo.
    • Your starting traps. None of them are fancy, but they have the advantage of having faster cool-down times than the more damaging traps you get later. Also given that most of the rooms that you fight in are fairly cramped, starting traps like Pushwall and Springboard are far more precise at setting up a victim for combos and room traps than their high-end counterparts which will likely shoot the victim across the room to safety. Finally a surprising number of your starting traps have good hitting power like the Boulder or Swinging Blade. While some of your starting traps will go obsolete, a fair number of them are good to the end of the game.
    • However, at least in Blood Ties, none compare to the Lethal Lance. It's a wall trap that immediately shoots lances two spaces forward and pulls its target against the wall. Nothing special like the iron maiden or the many fan traps, but it is an incredibly useful tool in starting combos due to how easy it is to score a hit with it, or even continuing combos that otherwise would've been dead because the victim was flat against the floor!
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Hellknights from Deception III are this trope. These guys are almost indestructible - taking only 1 point of damage from anything that doesn't ignore protection, they're immune to the effects of the summon ring, they have a long distance rush attack where they practically fly at you and a single swipe from their scythe will rip out large chunks of your health. A last kicker is they can also teleport. Most bosses in the game aren't even close to matching the deadliness of a Hellknight.
  • Burn the Witch!: Invitation to Darkness starts with the prince being burned at the stake for murdering his father.
  • Call-Back: The Nightmare Princess has stages named "Trapt Academy", "Kagero Hospital" and "D. Seption Park".
  • Came Back Wrong: Fiana if Wizbone kills her and you accept Astarte's offer.
  • The Cameo:
    • Suezo from Monster Rancher appears in Kagero as an unlockable trap. Previously, Ardebaran from Invitation to Darkness appeared in a Monster Rancher game as a secret monster.
    • Trapt has Millennia and Reina as unlockable costumes. Millennia is also fought as a Bonus Boss.
    • One of the unlockable costumes in Deception IV is Ayane, referencing a cameo from the second game in that series. It also has costumes from the earlier games.
    • The Nightmare Princess goes straight into Crisis Crossover territory.
  • Cast from Lifespan: In Deception III, this is the price for using traps too much—you'll wind up killing yourself eventually. Unfortunately Reina doesn't have any choice because a whole lot of people keep trying to kill her.
  • Charge Meter: Traps in the sequels must recharge between uses, but can otherwise by used indefinitely.
  • Class and Level System: Blood Ties awards experience for Elaborate, Sadistic and Humiliating traps independently, to be used for unlocking more traps in that category. It's in your best interest to try and balance them, though.
  • Clothing Damage: Deception IV: Blood Ties has this feature where attacking armored enemies with the right kind of attack (different for each one) causes their armor to be blasted off, leaving them in their underwear (and vastly reducing their life gauge). Female armored enemies are usually wearing some kind of string bikini underneath.
  • Combos:
    • Introduced to the series in Kagero to fantastic effect. Chain together more traps and receive more points.
    • Heavily enhanced for Blood Ties, allowing you to activate a trap combo almost in any order, and with an increasing number of traps, removing the limit of the earlier games of only three traps per room.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: in Blood Ties, Elaborate traps are blue, Sadistic traps are red, and Humiliating traps are yellow. Even the patron Daemon of each method dresses appropriately!
  • Compelling Voice: You are given five masks in the first game. Each one produces a specific kind of scream — a maniacal laugh, a terrified cry, etc. Different invaders will either run towards or flee from you depending on the scream used.
  • Content Warnings: Invitation to Darkness only garnered a T rating from the ESRB, but it includes a separate blurb on the jewel case noting the satanic elements of the storyline.
  • Continuity Nod: Each game takes place in its own little universe. However, one of Kagero's endings implies that Millennia would go on to become Astarte. Also, Ardebaran's mask appears in Kagero as an unlockable trap. Some of the later games have vague references to previous ones. The Nightmare Princess directly references the previous games as part of it's Crisis Crossover status.
  • Costume Copycat: A lookalike of Fiana is brought in to try and reason with you, but it turns out to be a trap. Subverted in that you can check your map, see the trap ahead of time and disable it.
  • Crisis Crossover: The plot for Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess includes the new main character battling the old main characters from Deception II, Deception III, Trapt and Deception IV: Blood Ties. Rachel from Trapt also appears in a downloadable mini-campaign. The crossovers are facilitated via Dream Land and a version of each character goes back to their own world in the end.
  • Critical Existence Failure: It doesn't matter how much you crush, smash, or burn a victim; they'll survive until they lose all their health and collapse.
  • Damage Discrimination: Averted; you can get caught in your own traps or by environmental objects if you're not paying attention.
  • Death Trap: The entire point of the series is to destroy your enemies using traps.
  • Denser and Wackier: Deception IV and its re-release are this compared to the previous games. They include more Fanservice than previous titles, a Clothing Damage mechanic, and a cartoonish, anime-like art style. Many of the traps are ridiculous looking or have comedic effects, like the Merry-Go-Round stage trap.
  • De-Power: In Deception IV, the armour-breaking mechanic might be this. Enemies in armour, not only take less damage from any attacks that don't bypass defense, they also have total immunity to certain attack types such as boulder drops. If you manage to break the armour of an enemy, they lose all the benefits including the immunities.
  • Descending Ceiling: These can crush enemies. Sometimes these take the form of rising floor tiles.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Deception III: Dark Delusion was named Soumatou in Japan. The previous two games at least kept their connection outside of Japan by replacing Kokumeikan with Deception. Then this gets inverted with Trapt, which was titled Kagero 2: Dark illusion in Japan.
  • Downloadable Content: Nightmare Princess offers a few extra traps to purchase, as well as an extra bit of storyline centered on Trapt character Rachel.
  • Dream Land: The Nightmare Princess takes place in one of these, known as the Dark Side Heaven. Velguirie takes the souls of anyone she kills in the dream world, so anyone who dies in the dream never wakes up.
  • Droste Image: The mirror in Invitation to Darkness shows itself and the surrounding wall reflected endlessly in a field of stars.
  • Dub Name Change: The change from "Alicia" to "Allura" was strictly in the text. The voice acting still very obviously uses "Alicia".
  • Early-Bird Boss: The third chapter of Invitation to Darkness pits you against a Fatemaker, a Gem Guard, and a Hunter, all at once. These are three endgame-difficulty enemies, and the third chapter throws them all at you at once, well before you can create any monsters or develop any really effective traps.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Invitiation to Darkness is almost completely different from its successors, and it made use of gouraud-shaded, Super-Deformed polygons similar to Final Fantasy VII while the sequels would opt to go with straight texture-mapping and proportions. Two major gameplay features that were dropped was the ability to make your own layout of the castle, and creating monsters from the corpses of invaders which you could also send to damage enemies. It's also been referenced the least outside of Kagero's implication of Astarte being an older Millennia.
  • Easter Egg: Rename Millennia "Astarte" and you start with some extra Ark to spend.
  • Electric Torture: Water conducts electricity well for more potent traps.
  • Enemy Scan: Each game lets you check out the statistics of invaders before you enter into combat with them.
  • Energy Weapon: Some traps fire a coloured laser beam at enemies, they actually have some recoil and do moderate damage. However, they ignore defense so they're a worthwhile part of your arsenal.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: Invitation to Darkness has a leveling system whose only real purpose is to unlock new breeds of trap and monsters for you to research (the stats in that game mean very little overall). The sequels focus strictly on traps and forging new ones from old templates.
  • The Evil Prince: Yurias has the player character framed for regicide and burned at the stake just so he can have the throne. Technically, you also qualify, lording the Castle of the Damned and working (intentionally or not) to resurrect Satan.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Several, notably Zamur in Invitation to Darkness and Deadmoon in Kagero.
  • Experience Points: Only in the first game, both for yourself and for your monsters.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The fourth game allows you to capture weakened enemies in cages dangling in some of the rooms. Lilia's joy when you do this makes it clear this is not a mercy.
  • Fun with Acronyms: For whatever reason, "Timenoid" is shortened down to "TMD". "AUO" in Dark Delusion stands for Alendar Umbral Operations, although this is never mentioned in the game.
  • Fragile Speedster: The enemy can inflict truly devastating status ailments (often via guided projectiles too!!!) and after Deception 1, your own character is only a shade more enduring than the baseline grunts in the early levels. So it's a good thing that few enemies can keep up to your character when she starts running and you have the ability to roll away from an attack - the closest the enemy have are the agile characters like ninjas and thieves jumping away from a limited set of traps. Just be careful, some enemies have a rush attack that's more like low altitude flight and certain bosses can have ones that can almost reach the end of a room.
  • Friendly Fire Proof: Played straight with the enemy amongst each other; someone who accidentally gets an arrow from his buddy will take no damage from it. Averted by your own traps, they're just as dangerous to you as they are to your enemies. Especially amusing is watching your girl grab her crotch and crumple in a heap after getting dinged by the Delta Horse.
  • Gaiden Game: Judging by Deception IV, Trapt is officially this now in the overseas "canon". Ironically, Deception III is arguably this is the native Japanese canon. Its Japanese title Soumatou is the Odd Name Out.
  • Genre Shift:
    • First-person RPG for the first game to third-person action-RPG for the sequels.
    • The Nightmare Princess has a setting shift. The initial levels in Quest mode are in the same fantasy setting as Deception IV: Blood Ties. Then you get a stage where you fight Japanese students in their high school...
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: Big booted feet can be summoned to squish enemies.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: They can perform a variety of punching or crushing or pushing attacks depending on the context.
  • Gratuitous Princess: Princess Fiana and Princess Allura. Laegrinna might count as well, given how her daemons keep referring to her as hime-sama. In The Nightmare Princess every playable character is referred to as a Princess.
  • Green Lantern Ring: The magical stone which allows Reina to control traps in Dark Delusion.
  • Groin Attack: The Delta Horse trap. A steel-plated wooden horse that shoots out of the ground at rocket speed, agony and torture for both sexes. Extra points for cutting through the defense stat and no enemy having any immunity or resistance to it. Enemies killed by the Delta Horse have their deaths described as "...humiliated by the Delta Horse".
    • Deception IV added a whole slew of traps, both placeable and stage traps, targeting the victim's groin. They leave the enemies incapacitated and clutching their nether regions for a few seconds.
    • In The Nightmare Princess "Groin Kick" is one of the attacks Velguirie can perform. She seems to find it particularly amusing.
  • Heal Thyself: Special gem-like "loons" can restore the player-character's health to full once per chapter in the sequels. Invitation to Darkness uses more traditional medical herbs and antidotes. In Deception IV, Laegrinna can learn to heal herself up to 3 times per battle. Some bosses can do the same, which greatly increases the length of a fight.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Reina, who can be renamed (like every game's protagonist), is referred to exclusively in chapter summary screens as "the heroine". This is in text, mind you.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted. The Psychic class of invader is made up of young girls, and Reina's little brother is murdered by Miguel during a Fade to Black moment.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: If you're not careful, you might end up stumbling into your own traps.
  • "Home Alone" Antics: The series as a whole is a Bloodier and Gorier example of this.
  • Human Resources: Used in Invitation to Darkness either to collect gold, restore the Mana Meter, or to harvest the actual bodies to create monsters.
  • Humiliation Conga: All the games have traps that hurt the victim's pride more than their health. Blood Ties has Humiliating Demise as an entire trap category, and Lilia will love it if an invader whacks themselves with a garden rake, slips on a banana peel, gets a pumpkin mask dropped on their head, then stumbles into a cannon that shoots them circus-style into a dangling cage.
  • Identical Grandson: The Zemekian prince shares ancestry and the same name with one of the Legendary Braves.
  • An Interior Designer Is You:
    • You can add rooms to the Castle of the Damned in the first game, though you cannot subtract any that were there from the start.
    • Taken to extreme levels with Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess, where you can design everything.
  • Insistent Terminology: The third game always refers to TRAPs in all capitals, for some reason.
  • The Joys of Torturing Mooks: The primary purpose of the games is to create incredibly elaborate ways to kill your enemies.
  • Kick Chick: Velguirie is the first character in the series to have a personal melee attack, a swift kick to the face. It's far too weak to kill anybody without a hefty amount of Cherry Tapping, and its main purpose is to cause an invader to stagger and keep your trap combo going.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Velguirie can also do it to a victim literally, giving them a taste of her boot when they're on their last legs.
  • Kill It with Fire: It helps if you douse the invader with oil first.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Astarte wields evil spells and is fairly graceful in presence and conduct, and she's so powerful that if you choose to turn on her, you require a special trap, the Banisher. Word of God says she's actually an older Millennia...
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: Especially prevalent in Deception 4, where the holders of the twelve verses are all rather evil. They range from a corrupt mercenary, to a psychopathic nun.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Invitation to Darkness has incredibly long load times just to navigate between menus, which you'll be doing often to set your traps.
  • Made a Slave: Millennia; was supposed to happen to Reina and her family, but her mother and brother were murdered, and Reina herself was rescued from prison.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The big twist is that you are responsible for this instead of just the victim of it.
  • Market-Based Title: The original game was called Kokumeikan in Japan, which translates to "Engraved Fate Building". This became Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness in America and Devil's Deception in Europe. The second game was called Kagero: Kokumeikan Shinsho in Japan and Kagero: Deception II overseas. Essentially, they just replaced "Kokumeikan" with "Deception". The third game, Soumatou, was dolled up as Deception III: Dark Delusion. The fourth Kagero 2: Dark illusion was reversed dolled-up, as Trapt. Finally, Kagero: Darkside Princess and Kagero: Another Princess became Deception IV: Blood Ties and Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess. So basically, the series is called Kagero in Japan and Deception overseas... more or less.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Japan-exclusive "Venus Bust" from Deception IV. A sculpture which slides out of the wall and traps victim's head between its undulating breasts.
  • Medieval Morons: Villagers and other peasant-types show up to your lair for various reasons (such as being dragooned into it by mercenary thugs) even at some surprisingly late stages in the game. Mostly there as black comedy relief as you kill them with ease in some particularly choice method.
  • Monster Clown: One of these is responsible for kidnapping Millennia as a child and taking her to the Timenoids.
  • More Dakka: Chaos Needle and Gatling Arrow traps can fire 5 shots at a rapid pace. They don't do much damage, especially to enemies with high defense, but they do provide an easy multi-hit combo. Unfortunately for you, some enemies have this as well and can shoot a painful series of projectiles that are guaranteed to hit if you get pegged by the first one.
  • Most Definitely Not An Impostor: III and Trapt both include some schmo-ette pretending to be the evil queen, seeking your help. Fails the smell-test both times, not that that means you can't accept.
  • Multiple Endings: Never fewer than three, for all five games. However, The Nightmare Princess's Quest Mode only has two endings.
  • New Game+: Most games have some variation of this, where you can keep something (usually unlocked traps) between playthroughs.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: You can show mercy if you want, but it might come back to haunt you. For example, in first game, if you feel sorry for the parents trying to find a cure for their daughter and let them escape, they'll tell everyone about the demon in the mansion, and you'll wind up with stronger opposition quicker.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Trapt is the worst offender, but if it wasn't for the numbering in the first three, few people would know they were related at first glance. In Japan it's even worse.
  • Off-Model: Millennia on the US cover of the second game.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: You fight them in The Nightmare Princess. Although it's implied they might not be that ordinary since there's mention of them being members of a gang. Also, Velguirie is the dream self of a high-school student.
  • Pendulum of Death: A common breed of trap in later games.
  • Perspective Flip: The game takes the dungeon full of lethal traps that flips the roles; rather than play the adventurers trying to get through it to fight the villain, you play said villain building the traps and trying to eliminate the adventurers (or in this case, mercenaries) trying to get to you. (In as creative a way as possible.)
  • Perverse Puppet: Magic Dolls are a sort of small golem summoned by a wizard to try and defeat you.
  • Pit Trap: Sometimes they are bottomless, sometimes they hold fire or spikes, but there is usually some form of pit trap available to use.
  • Played for Laughs: Some of the traps cause comedic effects, such as a vase falling on someone's head or a rotating floor that throws off their balance.
  • Plot Coupon: The five six demonic artifacts needed to resurrect the Devil. The fourth game has the 12 Holy Verses that serve the same purpose.
  • Power Tattoo: Millennia was given an elaborate red tattoo on her back once she came into the Timenoids' service, and it seems to glow whenever you activate a trap.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Not all the people who step into your lair are bad. Some of them are just earning a living from a morally-dubious organization.
  • Puzzle Boss: Expert Mode in Dark Delusion tasks you with defeating invaders under specific limitations.
  • Repeat Cut: Brief instant replays of the moment a trap connects with an invader; they can be switched on or off.
  • Resting Recovery: Building a bedroom allows this in the first game, but you can still be attacked while using the bed.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: You can chain your traps in sequence to maximise lethality, and some enemies need to get hit multiple times, requiring you set them up for takedowns.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Some of the more cowardly enemies will try to escape from your lair if they lose over half their life bar. They'll even have a cut-scene saying something to this effect if they successfully leave.
  • Schizo Tech: In Deception IV, enemies range from girls carrying bows and arrows to enemies in armour out of Halo or Killzone who are carrying gas guns and energy rifles. One boss, a deranged nun even boasts of carrying a gun given by God and it sure hits like it too!
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: And you're the one working to break said seal.
  • Scratch Damage:
    • In Deception III later enemies have defense so high that a lot of low damage traps will do only a single point of damage. Arrow traps are especially hard hit by this since many of them only do damage rather than move an enemy around or hold them. Some enemies will actually take only one point of damage even from your hardest-hitting traps, so low-damage multi-hit traps become better than hitting with a single Spike Ball. Later games don't have enemies with such ridiculously high defense, this keeps your old traps from going obsolete and allows you to use a wider variety of traps.
    • Armored enemies in both versions of IV can have sky-high defense after the first few chapters, but there's a whole mechanic for getting past that.
  • Sequel: The Original Title: The first game with Kagero in the title follows this format, in both Japan and America.
  • Series Mascot: Millennia is the closest thing the franchise has to a recurring figure, being available as a costume in Dead or Alive, Fatal Frame II and Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, as well as being a playable character in Warriors All-Stars.
  • Squishy Wizard: With the exception of The Nightmare Princess, you can't attack a victim directly, and even in that game it's best not to let them get close.
  • Spike Balls of Doom: These are a flavor of trap as well as balls without spikes. These generally roll enemies over to crush them.
  • Spikes of Doom: Spike come in various types for traps including an iron maiden.
  • Spoiled by the Manual: Fiana coming back as a monster.
  • Standard RPG Items: Only in the first game. There's Herbs, Nectar and Restores to recover HP; MP Gains and Amulets to recover MP; Antidotes, Sanity and Cures to undo status effects; Skill Gems, Mantles, Armor Gems, Speed Gems, and Shoes to boost various stats; and a whole host of Shop Fodder to sell to merchants you lure to the castle.
  • Status Effects: The various protagonists can be poisoned, blinded, and slowed by invaders' weapons, but they'll wear off after a while.
  • Stripperific:
    • You'll be hard-pressed to find a female character who isn't dressed in something very skimpy.
    • By knowing the weak spot of armored enemies in Deception IV, you can make them into this trope.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Played straight with most invaders, but a few will realize what they're up against and make efforts to escape. Whether they succeed or not can possibly change the storyline.
  • Summon Magic: Only available in Invitation to Darkness, the player-character can call forth special monsters which damage invaders. What's scary is that one of them is possibly Princess Fiana depending on how you play.
  • Supernatural Elite: In the second game, humans are basically second-class to a nobility consisting of 'Timenoids' - blue-skinned immortals. As the player, you are initially a slave to the Timenoids, but eventually, you must decide whether to help them brutally suppress an emerging human uprising, help La Résistance destroy the Timenoid elite, or just Kill 'Em All.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Even when they're out for your blood, when an enemy invader finds you, time will gladly stop around you to give them a chance to say what they need to.
  • A Taste of Power:
    • The first game lets you utilize Volt Cages to capture Ardebaran and Idorigo (and optionally Doneal). You don't get access to such traps again until Chapter 11, and even then you have to spend gold to create new ones.
    • Laegrinna's tutorial stages in IV allow you to set up to five traps at a time to demonstrate some more advanced concepts properly. Once you get into the game proper you're limited to three until you buy upgrades a good hour or so later.
  • The Can Kicked Him: One of the newest traps is a toilet. Knock your unfortunate victim onto an otherwise normal looking toilet and then give her a bidet that would make a Yellowstone Park geyser envious.
  • Timed Mission: Several chapters throughout the series give you a limited time before an invader either escapes the castle or causes a Non Standard Game Over.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub:
    • "Kagero", which means "shadow dungeon".
    • The fifth fourth game, Deception IV, was called Kagero: Darkside Princess. Clearly, they learned their lesson.
  • Toplessness from the Back: The title screen of the second game.
  • Training Dummy: The hapless invader in Dark Delusion's Free Training Mode.
  • Trap Master: The player characters, and an occasional NPC. Nightmare Princess is the first game to subvert this, as your character can actually attack invaders directly.note 
  • Traveling Salesman: One of the invader classes you can summon in the first game is the Merchant, and they will happily talk to you and exchange wares and gold even after it's become apparent that they have wandered into a hellish death trap.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Typically, it turns out the main character is being manipulated. Often by various sources, to differing ends.
  • Useless Item: You win a "SavePoint" in chapter 2 of the original game, which claims to "create a save point", but all it ends up doing is sitting in your inventory.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: If an invader decides to retreat, you can be merciful and allow them to go. This is especially notable for civilians who either wandered into your lair by mistake, or were forced into coming by their ruthless superiors. You won't get anything out of it, though.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • The other entire point of the series.
    • Explicitly personified in Blood Ties. Laegrinna's three accomplices rate your kills in three terms — Sadistic Torment, Elaborate Death, and Humiliating Demise. Each of them offer optional objectives based on their respective virtues.
  • Villain Protagonist:
    • Each and every main character holds an explicitly evil power and spends most of their time ruthlessly slaughtering anybody unlucky enough to enter their homes. Later protagonists end up in a more morally gray area, but none of them are ever close to being heroes.
    • And right back to being totally evil with Deception IV, where the protagonist is literally the daughter of the devil himself and has no goal other than to kill people. III and Trapt's protagonists had the excuse of simply trying to survive using their weird powers. In IV however, if you choose to spare Celia, this leads to an ending where Laegrinna and Celia end up using the Devil's power to make the world a better place.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The games often go to some bother to make it clear that you're not killing anonymous mooks, but people, with actual names, backstories and personalities. The terrible acting keeps this from having the effect Tecmo was going for, however.
  • You Bastard!: Every person you kill in the fourth game will be accompanied by a cutscene where they utter some mournful last words. Combined with the above trope, it serves as a reminder that you're torturing and killing individuals.