This is a game series in which the player is a merchant in the Medieval Hanseatic League. It is notable for its wide variety of commodities which change prices in patterns that allow the player to memorize and take advantage of them. The player brings his ship(s) from port to port dealing with the real problems a shipping merchant has. As the player becomes increasingly-wealthy, he may order the construction of economic buildings, and even housing for ordinary people, in order to trade even more volume. There are also options for being involved in the political life of the Hanseatic League and the cities it is in contact with.
Parts III and IV of the series are now available on Steam, with III generally considered as the superior one by both critics and audience.
It spawned a spin-off series, Port Royale, set in the Caribbean following the Age of Discovery.
This game series provides examples of:
- A.I.-Generated Economy: In the 3, while town councils will not build additional houses and facilities, your AI competitors will.
- All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks: You can be in hock to them. You can also be one yourself. Someone who does not pay can foreclose and this is a way get free ships.
- An Entrepreneur Is You: You start with a small ship, a pocket change of money and a far-reaching economic goal that will take at least a decade in-game to fulfill.
- Ascended Glitch: A bug in Patrician II/III led to the Turkish Building Technique and a likewise admired bug in Patrician IV enables you to build plants outside the outermost city wall. Everything else is considered an exploit, period.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: The player can buy indulgences from the Catholic Church. This is also the key to being elected mayor: the inhabitants of cities do not remember how many feasts have been hosted for them or how much money has been donated to the poor, their opinion is based primarily on jobs - and you can employ them in your own production buildings.
- Command & Conquer Economy: All buildings, except for the city buildings in the central square, are owned by you or your competitors. Including the houses. Even the houses that poor people and beggars live in. Even the houses that rich people live in. On a broader scale, without any traders, no product will ever move, not even moving from Luebeck to Rostock by foot.
- DLC: Inland trade & politics, and then multiplayer.
- The Don: The only part of this the player cannot fulfill is dealing in illegal goods, because there are no illegal goods in the game. All other elements of this are played straight. The inland nobles also like to think they are this, complete with asking for shakedown money.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Even in the English version, terms like "ratskeller," "snaikka," etc. are left untranslated.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Naturally, in a game series about money and power. Some of the missions to appease the inland nobles are to worsen the prosperity of other cities just because.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: The political tactic of smear campaigning is in the game (although through a mercenary in the tavern who appears randomly).
- Intrepid Merchant: The player, naturally. You start out as a humble shopkeeper with a single merchant vessel which you used to trade goods back and forth among the various North Sea and Baltic cities.
- Kick the Dog: One of the tasks for appeasing nobles is to purposely cause famines.
- Mad Libs Dialogue: The dish of the day at the ratskeller.
- Market-Based Title: Kind of. Patrician III was the international title for what's been titled "Patrizier II Gold" at the German home market which was a slipstreamed version of Patrician II with its add-on whose subtitle "Aufschwung der Hanse" was fittingly translated into "Rise of the Hanse" and as such became the subtitle of Patrician III. This leads to the curiosity that the German home market never had a game called "Patrizier III" but skipped that number for the late 2010 sequel to directly get to Patrizier/Patrician IV in late 2010. The sequel also came out roughly the same time in any of its destinational languages while the gap at Patrician II/II+AO/III could be counted up to two years.
- Merchant City: Every port, and with some political influence and money, the cities can be steered even more towards this direction.
- Merchant Prince: Every city is governed by a Lord Mayor and a council elected from among the city's wealthiest merchants, and the Hanseatic League as a whole is led by an Alderman elected from among the most prominent mayors. With the right mix of luck, skill, and popularity, the player can join their ranks.
- Mythology Gag: One of the female portraits is of the "Girl with a Pearl Earring", a painting that was not made until 1665. This is a reference to the game Vermeer / The Great Art Race by the same publisher.
- Not-So-Safe Harbor: The type 2 version of this trope, with ports being rather seedy places, but at least pirate-free.
- Pet the Dog: You can be a horrible pirate, be ruthless to your competitors in the same league, etc., but in the same time donate to the Church and arrange big feasts for the poor.
- Pirates: Most are random events but it is possible for a player to sponsor some or become one. Patrician IV gives them well-guarded bases and lets them be hired by your competitors and the inland nobles as well.
- The Plague: Goes with the medieval times and is one of the worst thing that can happen if you only have one port to get specific good from.
- Plunder: What you get if you win a battle and capture the pirate ship. Also if you get into the piracy trade yourself.
- Politically Correct History: The player character can be a female, with little effect on gameplay.
- Proud Merchant Race: You are a member of the Hanseatic League, which is all about this.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender: The game is even hardcoded to use male pronouns (such as "him") for some parts of the interface, when referring to the player character.
- Rags to Riches: The point of the game.
- Relationship Values: For each city, for the Hansa as a whole, and for each of the inland rulers.
- Scenery Porn: Quite good graphics for its era, especially the city view.
- Sidequest: There are contracts available to carry goods for others. In Patrician IV this is expanded greatly.
- Translation Convention: The rivals speak with accents and other inflections that are supposed to be representative of their home areas.
- Treasure Map: Introduced in Patrician III, complete with X marking the spot.
- Vehicular Turnabout: During naval combat, you can board enemy vessels to capture them for your own fleet.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Employment puts a blinder over most of the people, indulgences do the rest. If that's not enough, then throw a feast.
- War for Fun and Profit: You can arrange blockades, get princes to declare war, etc., and then make a profit from goods which you have conveniently stored in your warehouses.
- You Require More Vespene Gas: Wood & brick especially tend to be in high demand for construction, both the one done by the city itself and for your own enterpraises.