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Video Game / Kartia: The Word of Fate

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Kartia: The Word Of Fate (alternatively titled Legend of Kartia) was an RPG for the PlayStation, released in 1998.

The main action of the storyline was split into two volumes. You could play as either the Free Knight, Toxa Classico; or the Shrine Warrior, Lacryma Christi. Toxa is a young man who is looking for someone to protect (hence the title "Free Knight"), whereas Lacryma is duty-bound to her role as a Shrine Warrior. Their paths will both intertwine as they go about their adventures...

Gameplay was fairly similar to most other Turn-Based Strategy games. What made it unique was that you used Kartia, a kind of blank card, to do everything: heal your characters, create new weapons and armor, and cast offensive magic, all determined by a grammar system where the effect is determined by what ideographs are placed on each card. Each character has their own weapon and armor levels ranging from E to A; this dictated what they could equip. Combat also heavily revolves around "Phantoms", various Mooks that your characters create to do your fighting for you.

Tropes present in this work:

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: In game, the elemental cannons are described by a nobleman as being extremely powerful. If it's your first time playing, it seems like he's wrong as the elemental cannons do good but not great damage, while yours and the enemies' weapons do damage that puts the cannons to shame. However if you play the game again with Level 20 characters, where the enemies do no damage to your party, the elemental cannons will completely go through their defenses and in 3 or 4 hits, one of your characters is dead.
  • Artificial Human: Lacryma, sort of. Her life was saved by an Original Kartia as a child, turning her into a sort of homunculus. She never gets sick, and has immense potential ability with Kartia.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The bad guys are a coalition of several powerful individuals who are meddling with seriously dangerous Kartia in search of Eden. The leaders are Cardinal Beltschumeltz, San Saradiart, Raguruzet, and Vandor. They work together for most of the game, but both Saradiart and Vandor are running their own games on the side.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Fynus phantoms that show up at the final stages of the game. Where before your characters were immune to the enemies and could wipe out even the toughest enemies in 3 or 4 hits, the Fynuses have defense ratings so high that if you don't the Pair rune equipment, top tier arena or Level 20 phantom equipment, they're immune to attacks from all but your strongest physical characters (Toxa, Kun, Lacryma and Alana) using the best non-Pair rune crafted weapons. Additionally, the Fynuses are strong enough to harm all but your most heavily, mundanely armoured characters. The final bosses in comparison are easy to take out.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Mona destroys almost all of Saradiart's clones and prevents him from using his natural Elf magic, which allows you to fight him as if he were "merely" a high-level Kartia user. Of course, Mona doesn't just whack him down because then there would be no boss battle.
  • The Church: The Shrines are an organization that imitates the role of the medieval Catholic Church, except that the main objects of their faith are the World Trees. They are generally a force for good, but they tend to be bogged down in obstructive regulations, their Internal Affairs are mavericks who don't answer to anyone, and one of the main villains is a Sinister Minister. There's also Druids, who tend to the aforementioned World Trees and are generally respected by the Shrines, but not a part of their organization.
  • Church Militant: The Shrine Warriors.
  • Crutch Character: In his A Taste of Power scenario, Rimzan will slaughter anything and everything. Later on, your Knight characters will have caught up, you'll have enchanted better weapons than his BFS, and he'll still only have the skill to use two Kartia (even Kun gets better than that).
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Shrines.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Karis is really good at this.
    Karis: "I don't think you can create God with a "Human" Kartia."
  • Deconstruction: Lacryma's story deconstructs the idea of summoning and conjuration magic. While everyone believes that all those weapons, spells and Phantoms are conjured up from nothing via the runes, when Lacryma is transported to the Elves' world she discovers that the Phantoms are the local wild-life there and their loss is affecting the world's ecology. Also creating something with Kartia removes an equal amount of material from that world and slowly the Elves' world is dying.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Fire Arm, the weapon you get from the first Arena battle, is one of the most powerful weapons in the game, if not the strongest.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: With Phantoms, Common-type beats Doll-type, Doll-type beats Shadow-type, and Shadow-type beats Common-type.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Unlimited License allows you to use the most powerful Kartia combinations in the game. Subverted in that you can use the combinations without the License if you hack the texts together yourself, you just don't see them on the menu (but if you have a guide, you can work around that).
  • Gambit Pileup: The Big Bad Ensemble are not working towards the same goal. Cardinal Beltschumeltz, Vandor and Raguruzet want to use the Original Kartia to create a new world; Beltschumeltz in particular initially states, in Toxa's route, he wants to see what God is like, but is later revealed to want to create God. Saradiart, meanwhile, is more of a Kill All Humans kind of guy. They're manipulating the bandits involved in the initial phases of the game into doing a lot of their dirty work.
  • Geo Effects: A character who has the high ground does more damage with an axe. Spears work better from below, while swords are best used on level terrain.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: Elves are too powerful to operate in Rebus, so it's up to the heroes.
  • Guide Damn It!: The mighty Pair rune. It's only mentioned in the Japanese guide to the game, but to create the mightiest Phantoms and spells - your party can only use silk runes at Stage 15 (including for item crafting and altering terrain) and you can only attack the dragons there with physical attacks or Phantoms. Only then can the Pair rune show up. This led to MANY players in NA and EU at their wits' end trying to create the Fynus phantom.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Druids in general, Mona and San Saradiart in particular, are half elves
  • Heel–Face Turn: Misty is the first enemy you face in Toxa's scenario. She later joins your party.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: To wield the power of the Original Kartia, the user must give up their life. In the backstory, Lacryma's mother used one to save her life; in game, Bachstail uses the Death Kartia in a failed attempt to destroy Saradiart, Lacryma uses the Nothingness Kartia to erase the "earth" of Eden that threatened to crush everyone, and Vandor uses the Human Kartia to bring Lacryma back after the aforementioned use of the Nothingness Kartia. That said, unlike what is believed, the Original Kartia doesn't actually kill its user. Instead, it transports them to Eden, which is a physical place.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Posha has serious self-esteem issues, which border on downright hating herself. It takes a while for her to overcome them and become a much better and capable person.
  • Hero Must Survive: ALL of your human characters. You lose any of them, it's game over.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Shrines' regulations often get in the way of getting stuff done, such as forbidding the creation of Phantoms. Lacryma is unwilling to use her full power for this reason.
  • Human Resources: Original Kartia are made from the blood and bones of half-elves
  • Important Haircut: Posha undergoes one.
    • She starts off with very long, beautiful blond hair. Unfortunately, she also starts off with crippling self-esteem issues, viewing herself as useless, worthless and helpless...and given what her stats look like, she has every reason to see herself this way. Earlygame!Posha is, by far, the weakest member of Lacryma's team, sporting terrible equipment options(E-rank in weapons and armor!) and absolutely catastrophic magical defenses, which combine to make her a liability in fights (if any human character dies, you get a Game Over), not helped by the fact that she can only use two Kartia at a time. Pretty terrible all around, and she doesn't start out any better when she moves to Toxa's route, either. However...
      • ...after venting a bit and getting a pep talk from Alana, Posha decides enough is enough, and, wanting to be able to hold her own like her idol(and, by her own admission, rival) Lacryma does, she asks Alana to cut the aforementioned long, beautiful blond hair and works her butt off to suck less as a fighter and as a person. The results speak for themselves, along with the Shrine Warrior promotion she gets at the end of Toxa's chapter 14: our girl now has access to much better equipment options (upgrading to D-rank weapons and C-rank armor), a boost in magic defense from 'garbage' to 'admirable'(higher than most other characters, but lower than the best ones such as Lacryma and Kun after their own class-changes), and making her able to use four Kartia at a time. Not bad at all!
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The best weapon in the game is the Excalibur, it gives you amazing attack power (enough to squish even those pesky Fynus) and will completely recover your health. But there's a catch: to get it, you need to finish the arena, which means you'll have likely already finished the game once before that happens. The other top end weapon is the Boink Hammer, and that one also has a catch: you get those by raising a Kyau, the weakest Phantoms in the game, to Level 20 and then converting said Kyau. Considering that the Kyau does scratch damage even at high level and have almost zero defense, good luck keeping one alive. But if you do manage it, the Boink Hammer has the highest damage output in the game.
  • Item Crafting: One of the most important elements in the game, the best equipment in the game is based on what you craft using Kartia or Level 20 Phantoms, with only the items won in the arena rivaling them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Troy complains about everything, picks fights with everyone, and generally acts obnoxious. He says he's only a member of the non-profit organization Vigilance because it's the easiest way to get an unlimited Kartia license. Yet he sticks with the group through thick and thin and, despite stating repeatedly that he's not too keen on dying, is prepared to put his life on the line for the people he cares about.
  • Knighting: Near the end of the game, Rimzan knights Kun in the field to deal with some knights that had been hazing him.
  • The Load: Troy accuses Posha of being this, and Posha agrees. Other characters tell her it's not quite as bad as that. In any case, she does take enough levels in badass that even Troy stops picking on her.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The spells work based on a combination of Grammar Text, which determines what element or class of Phantom or weapon you're creating, and Letter Text that specifies the exact spell, Phantom or weapon. The ability of a Kartia user is determined firstly by the number of Kartia they can use in one spell, secondly by what Letter Text they know how to use, and thirdly whether they have the power to create Phantoms (though even if they have the ability, certain classes are legally forbidden to create Phantoms, which becomes a plot point in Lacryma's quest).
  • Magic Knight: Theoretically all your characters, since any human can both fight and use magic. Some are better at one than the other, though.
  • Magikarp Power: Among the main characters, Lacryma has this going for her. In the early chapters, the Toxa route starts with a stronger team, courtesy of Toxa's physical power(he starts good and stays good) and Alana's ability as a Magic Knight, while Lacryma has units like Kun and Posha...see the Important Haircut header above and you'll see exactly how bad Posha is early on. Later on, though, Posha moves to the Toxa route, and while she eventually promotes and becomes a lot less bad, Lacryma ALSO promotes to become a powerhouse late-game, the aforementioned Kun does the same thing to becomes a Knight on par with Toxa(minus Toxa's Kartia-using skill), and you can't get all of the Text in Toxa's quest (in fact, even the basic Iron text can be Permanently Missable in Toxa's if you aren't careful).
  • Meaningful Name: Rebus, the name of the planet.
  • Our Elves Are Different: To the point of being so powerful that they can't speak without risking The End of the World as We Know It. Half-Elves are "merely" stronger than any human Kartia user and able to use magic without Kartia... which includes being able to Colony Drop a continent onto the surface of Rebus.
  • Patricide: Almost done by Lacryma. Were it not for all of her teamates telling her to stop, she probably would have offed him.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Any powerful Kartia user can reshape the world. Elves and half-elves are even stronger than that.
  • The Pollyanna: Alana is an interesting take on this. Outwardly, she is a cheery person that doubles as the Team Mom who tries to keep everyone's spirits up. Inwardly, she can reach The Eeyore's levels of depressive thoughts.
  • Reality Warper: All elves and, to a very slightly lesser extent, all half-elves.
  • Rebellious Princess: Ele starts out like this. The rest of the party rather wish she didn't.
  • Religious Bruiser: Lacryma is a very devout shrine warrior who never learned how to summon Phantoms because it goes against her religion. After her crisis of faith and promotion to Inquirer, she learns how to summon Phantoms.
  • The Resenter: At one point, after some drinking, Alana reveals that she feels this way towards Lacryma, because even though Alana is better at basically everything, Lacryma is the one everyone looks up to, simply because she's the daughter of a hero.
  • Secret Police: The Inquirers of the Shrines are above the laws that they enforce. In a subversion of the expected tropes, every one of them we meet is some type of heroic individuals. In fact, the Cowboy Cop Bachstail specifically chooses Lacryma as an Inquirer because she is unflinchingly law-abiding and disapproves of the Inquirers and their methods.
  • Sinister Minister: Cardinal Beltschumeltz is a high-ranking priest with an ego to match, and is one of the main villains of the game.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Alana is always putting on a cheerful face, but deep down she feels hurt by being in Lacryma's shadow. After she drunkenly reveals this to Kun, she makes him promise not to reveal this, for despite her resentment, she really does love Lacryma as if she were Alana's little sister and Lacryma's life hasn't exactly been the happiest existence to lead. Overall, in her inner thoughts, Alana is shown to be a very down and even outright depressed person. Duran sees right through her, but he doesn't mind since, as he puts it, "even if [her] cheery attitude is fake, the others are really encouraged by [her]".
    • In her attempt to become a better person, and to further style herself after Lacryma, who she idiolizes, Posha cuts her hair and forces herself to become more cheerful and self-assured, something that Alana thinks is just an illusion (it has been established that Posha has serious issues that she confided in her). It eventually culminates in Posha genuinely becoming stronger and cheerier.
  • Summon Magic: Creating Phantoms.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Toxa. Even in his own quest, he's not the commander; that role goes to Duran, and later to Posha. And the quest itself is Mona's quest to stop Saradiart.
  • Theme Naming: Lacryma Christi is a type of wine. Toxa's family name, Classico, is likely a reference to the Chianti Classico viticultural area. Duran Bouquet's last name might also be a wine reference, as could Misty Rouge's. Troy's last name is in some sources given as Wreatherling, which given the established theme is likely a mistranslation of リースリング - Riesling.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Everyone - halfway through the game, your weapon and armor levels increase, so each character is able to equip better stuff. Character-specific levelings include Posha (goes from wimpy Shrine Maiden to confident Shrine Warrior), Kun (becomes a Knight later on in Lacryma's tale) and Lacryma (becomes an Inquirer and is therefore able to create Phantoms, as well as use five-card spells).
  • Untouchable Until Tagged: In Kartia, earning experience does not improve your health. What it does is improve your attack and defense stats. With good armour and a strong character, it reaches a point where enemies keep having their attacks bounce off your party members for no damage. But whenever a human or Phantom is injured, its attack and defense attributes goes down. So previously invulnerable units may find themselves being hit by attacks they'd previously been immune to.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Troy and Ele start off as two abrasive people who don't really get along with anyone too well - least of all each other. As the story progresses, however, their bickering starts to sound more and more like playful banter and by the end they're pretty clearly good friends.