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Video Game / Rune Factory

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This page is for the series as a whole. For the first game in the series, go here.

Rune Factory is a game series developed by Neverland Co. It started as a Spin-Off of the Story of Seasons series, retaining the core farming and social aspects of its parent series and integrates it into a fantasy setting complete with an anime-inspired art style and some RPG-style elements, such as the ability to fight monsters.

The games in the series are:

This video-game series provides examples of:

  • A Master Makes Their Own Tools: You can buy equipment from vendors in any game, but if you want to have the truly powerful, game-breaking weapons you must craft them yourself.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Rune Factory 3 and Rune Factory 4 has some truly absurd level caps, enough to make some Nippon Ichi games proud. Rune Factory 3 level cap is 10,000 and Rune Factory 4 is 50,000.
  • The Ace: If you play well, YOU. Look at it from the other villagers' perspective: You sweep into town from nowhere, become a more successful farmer, warrior, and item crafter. You also build up a farm that they couldn't for years, become everyone's best friend, and steal away girls (or boys, starting from Oceans) that some of these characters had been going after since childhood. And this is all in your first year! No wonder some characters hate you so much...
  • Achievement System: Rune Factory 3 and Rune Factory 4 have rooms dedicated to showcase how well you did in festivals, if you've cleared certain challenges or dungeon and so on.
  • Action Mom: Rune Factory 3, Rune Factory 4 and Rune Factory 5 enables you to form parties with the townsfolk and among them are the mothers of bachelor(ettes). Your wife, or a female player character, will also become this after your have children.
  • Actionized Sequel: Rune Factory 1, 2 and Frontier had a somewhat slow real time combat, but Rune Factory 3 brought significant changes to its system turning ramping up the action making fights a lot faster compared to the first two games. Additionally Rune Factory 3 was the first one where the postgame content focused heavily on combat.
  • All-Natural Gem Polish: The gems in the series look sparkly when they're mined.
  • All There in the Manual: Rune Factory Official Memoirs (summarized here) has a lot of background information not found in the games.
  • And Your Reward Is Parenthood: You can have children in each game in the series after getting married. Rune Factory 2 has your child become the new hero. Rune Factory 3 lets you have up to three children. And Rune Factory 4 has your child become a potential party member.
  • Archetypal Character: The series has certain types of characters that all but guaranteed to make an appearance:
    • A Gonk de Sainte-Coquille member with daughters having blue or purple hairnote .
    • Non-human, usually elvish and dwarven, characters. Rune Factory 3 has half-monsters and a mermaid too. Rune Factory 5 adds a halfing, a succubus and were-animals to the mix.
    • At least one Big Eater, usually the de Saint-Coquille patron. The size of the other Big Eater usually does(n't) match the appetite.
    • A happy-go-lucky Cloudcuckoolander.
    • Dragons, more specifically Elder/Native/Holy/Divine Dragons. It's not until Rune Factory 4 you can interact with truly benevolent ones.
    • A character from an unidentified Eastern country with heavy Asian themes.
    • Starting from Rune Factory 3, at least one character that's extremely lazy, or just chronically sleepy.
    • Starting from Rune Factory 3 too at least two Guest Characters from previous entries.
  • Artifact Title: A "rune factory" is a strategic plot of grown crops in a long dungeon from which one can easily grab some rune orbs to recover RP. This was important to both the plot and gameplay in the first game, but changes to the farming and RP mechanics (for starters, rune orbs are generated on harvest rather than the moment the grown crop appears on-screen) have made this both less viable and less necessary in later installments. However "rune factories", although optional, are useful in 3, 4 and 5 in order to grow your skills since the requirement to level your skills up can get so high that even with a Heart Pendant to boost skill gain it could take forever to gain points in them.
  • Badass Family: Rune Factory 2 give us Kyle and his child. Kyle, while limited, can defeat dangerous monsters and goes to face Fiersome as part of his mission in Alvarna. Meanwhile Aaron/Aria become even stronger facing far more dangerous foes while searching for clues about their missing dad.
    • Another example is in Rune Factory 4 and Rune Factory 5. You can invite your spouse and child to adventure with you and they can be as much of a badass as you are.
  • Babies Ever After: Obviously, for a series inspired by Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons. Averted in Rune Factory 2 when the protagonist's kid eventually becomes a new hero/ine.
  • Bicolor Cows, Solid Color Bulls: There are Buffamoos, black and white cow monsters that give milk when tamed or drop it as loot when defeated, and Buffaloos, solid yellow bull monsters that only drop their horns.
  • Blue Blood: The De Sainte-Coquille family can be found all over Norad, living near farming communities to eat food that is made with the freshest ingredients. They can easily be picked out of a crowd, as the head of the family will be a Gonk and their daughter(s) will have blue/purple hair. There are exceptions to these criteria; such as Porcoline who runs his own restaurant and has taken an elf under his wing, Beatrix who is the mayor of an island town, and Palmo who works as an architect and has adopted Ryker as his son.
  • But Thou Must!: In the very start of Rune Factory 2, you can't decline Douglas's and Mana's offer to purchase the hoe and watering can. Similarly, you can't say no to Shara showing you around your new home in Rune Factory 3.
  • The Blacksmith: Every town has a blacksmith available, selling both farm tools and equipment.
  • Cast from Hit Points: If you're out of RP, actions will drain your HP instead. In the first game, the system for this was really bad, resulting in "RP management" consisting entirely of "carry around the Heal spell and eat a snack sometimes". The second game fixed the two most obvious problems (Magic costs decrease with practice like everything else, and your max RP increases with levels), but the system was still pretty ignorable. The third game made the HP drain much greater and added greater RP gain to more food, finally encouraging players to act the way the game wanted them to.
  • Challenge Run: After finishing the main storyline, Rune Factory 4 and Rune Factory 5 allows the player to disable EXP and Skill EXP gain which can be activated in a New Game file. So you can be permanently stuck in Level 1, severely limiting your HP and stat growth, or never learn any skills, which essentially disables the vast majority of item crafting. You can also enable both at the same time if you're feeling particularly masochist. You can re-activate both with no penalty if you're feeling like you bit more than you could chew.
  • Color-Coded Stones: The series has purple amethysts, red rubies, green emeralds, and white diamonds. However, it also has deep blue aquamarines, so the sapphires end up being pink instead of the usual blue.
  • Crapsaccharine World: While the tone of Rune Factory games have always been lighthearted, the story always involves greater forces that threaten the world. Be it the Native Dragons, or insane power hungry humans, or even a corrupting evil just waiting for a chance to slip into the world and wreak havoc. Any time the Sechs Empire gets involved the game always makes a point to remember the Kingdom of Norad is at constant threat of war with them.
    • Every now and then there's also some underlying political threats, things like assassination attempts, even gaslighting or outright murder happen in the games showing that Norad and Sechs has their fair share of nasty and dangerous people.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost every hero(ine) has dialogue options to answer or comment on something another character says and some of the options vary from sarcastic to outright mean.
  • Developers' Desired Date: The three first games offer the male Player Character a handful of marriage options, but the first potential wife he meets is always prominently featured in the game's animated opening and official art, including the picture on the game's box. A not-very-subtle hint as to who the creators intend to be the player character's final choice.
    • The first game's opening heavily features Mist, the young woman who first finds Raguna unconscious at the beginning of the game, while the other marriage candidates get a very brief cameo alongside the rivals. Mist also technically owns the farm that needs to be managed as part of the game, so Raguna ends up seeing a lot of her.
    • The first generation's opening for the second game heavily features Mana, who is the one who suggests Kyle take over the abandoned farm. While Kyle will have a child with all the marriage candidates, one of the requirements for moving to the second generation is to build a school. For Mana, who really, really wants to become a teacher. As a result, Kyle will be in the middle of making a grand gesture for Mana no matter who he's actually courting.
    • This is averted in the first opening for the third game, but the second one focuses greatly on Shara, the young woman who finds Micah injured at the beginning of the game. Her everyday headgear, which is her most visible piece of clothing in most shots of her, is an item made out of flower ornaments and semi-transparent white fabric that wouldn't be out of place as part of a wedding outfit.
    • Both of the playable characters in Rune Factory Oceans, Aden and Sonja, are heavily implied to be this. Both of them declare how much they care for each before they are enveloped in the light that serves as the plot catalyst, spend the entirety of the game forced to share Aden's body after Sonja's soul is separated from hers, and once they're finally separated, whoever doesn't become the playable character starts out with Love Points instead of Friendship Points.
    • While this is generally averted in the Rune Factory 5 there are some hints that favors Priscilla as the "canon" bachelorette since she's the only character that has a cutscene during the main story tied to the protagonist's backstory.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Most games have you fighting and beating the Elder/Native Dragons which are explicitly said to be what amounts to forces of nature and should've been unstoppable. If not that you always face beings with god-like powers as the Final Boss of each game.
  • Dub Name Change: The aristocratic family name was changed from 'Viviaaju' to 'de Sainte-Coquille'.
  • The Empire: The Sechs Empire. More so in the first, where it directly threatened to invade the kingdom where the village is located by the use of an ancient dragon. In the fourth game they return with full intent of taking over the world using powerful objects known as Rune Spheres with Emperor Ethelberd taking a much more active role in their plans.
  • Express Delivery: If not then the lead of the second game knew who you were going to have him marry and had an affair with her some time before, because your wife doesn't even take thirty days to pop a kid out after you tie the knot.
  • Fanservice: Bikini season! In every game but the first (where it's discussed but never done), the first of Summer is a big beach day where at least every marriageable candidate will don a swimsuit and... well, hang out next to the water, because there's no swimming animations.
  • Farm Life Sim: Rune Factory is a Story of Seasons spinoff that became so popular it became its own series. It features similar farming gameplay to the original series, except that it uses a fantasy setting instead of a modern Retro Universe one. There's also combat due to the added RPG elements.
  • Fishing for Sole: Occasionally when fishing, you can pull up old boots, cans, sticks, rocks, weeds, and other garbage. One of the "garbage" items it's possible to get is the Rare Can, which is actually extremely valuable, because it increases item drops when forged onto a weapon.
  • Fluffy Tamer: A staple of the series, as you can tame and rear pretty much every non-boss monster (and then some) in the games, including wolves, trolls, giants, golems, ghosts and so on.
  • Godhood Seeker: Every non-dragon main villain has had this going. The only exception is Ethelberd in his first appearance. After Raguna stops him he becomes more obsessed with obtaining ultimate power in his second appearance in the series.
  • Green Aesop: Inevitable given the setting. It is important to protect nature and not abuse the power of runes, because their balance holds the world together and brings prosperity to the land.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Due to the variety of races in Norad, it is possible for the player to have a hybrid child in every game. Though these lineages won't play a huge part in how the child turns out.
    • In the first game, Raguna can marry Tabatha and have a half-elf baby.
    • In the second, Kyle can marry Cecilia and have a quarter-elf baby. By default, Cecilia will marry another half-elf and have a half-elf child.
    • In Frontier, Raguna can marry Iris and have a baby that is half-"ancient race". Tabatha can also be married again.
    • The third game takes this up to eleven and makes the main character a half-human hybrid, meaning the kid you have will always be a quarter-monster. Four of the bachelorettes are also different races, which allows the player to pop out kids that are half-elf/mermaid/univir/phoenix.
    • Oceans allows Aden to marry Pandora and Maerwen, who will produce half-demon or half-dark elf kids.
    • The fourth game has four marriage candidates with monster traits, in addition to a dwarf and elf.
    • The fifth game has two were-animal candidates, resulting in half-were-animal children. Ares also has the option of having a quarter-elf child with the half-elf Scarlett, or a half-succubus child with Ludmilla. In addition, if Lucas really is a god, then his children with Alice would also count.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The main characters have default names, but can be renamed.
  • Inconsistent Dub: Between a notably sloppier localization of the very first game and occasional switching between Natsume and XSEED Games, there are some very visible name changes, particularly in Frontier. The "First Forest" was permanently renamed to the "Forest of Beginnings" and the Sechs Empire was temporarily renamed Zzyzx. Tori's name was changed to Tart, though as she hasn't appeared again it's uncertain whether this change stuck or not. The manual for Rune Factory 4 lampshade the reversion of the empire's name, stating that Zzyzx "may have been a practical joke, or perhaps the result of temporary delirium due to illness".
  • Informed Ability:
    • When you meet anyone who is "Tough" or "A warrior", you can almost invariably count on never, EVER seeing them fight anyone or anything, despite everyone else saying how tough they are or how well they fight. Due to Gameplay and Story Segregation, most likely, but even so, it's become a running joke for many fans.
      • Can be averted from Rune Factory 3 onwards for villagers to form up a party with you. You can train and give them equipment that will make them live up to their warrior reputation.
    • Most professionals whose skills can be practiced by the player's skills can seem like this too. Though they may be described as "experts" or "the best" by the local villagers and brag about their years of experience and skill, the quality of merchandise they provide is only average at best and the player character can usually produce better equipment than they sell in just a few seasons.
  • Interspecies Romance: Every game in the series (so far) has had at least one elf (or half-elf) marriage candidate. Rune Factory 3 throws in a mermaid, a horned humanoid and a half-monster (and the half-monster protagonist makes EVERY pairing this trope.) Rune Factory 4 includes several bachelors who were originally monsters, and retained several monster features since becoming human. Rune Factory 5 throws a halfling, were-animal people and even a succubus in the mix.
  • Item Crafting: A central part of the game, as the most powerful tools and weapons aside from the basic ones will be created from this process.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: A series staple. Aden and Sonja of Oceans are (so far) the only series protagonists not to get a dose of this.
  • Last-Minute Baby Naming: Like in the Story of Seasons games, you can only name any children you have on the day they're born.
  • Level Limiter: It's possible to unlock the ability to prevent enemies from giving EXP. This naturally allows for the player to do a Low-Level Run. While it's unlocked after beating the main story, it then becomes available in New Game Plus so the player can use it from the beginning of the game.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Everyone usually wears the same outfit at all times, with swimsuits and pajamas only being introduced into the series in Frontier and 4. Frontier lampshades it:
    Bianca: You're always wearing the same clothes. You smell.
    Raguna: Wh-what?! But aren't you always wearing the same thing, too?
    Bianca: I NEVER wear the same thing twice. I like the design of this outfit, so I had HUNDREDS of it made for me.
    Raguna: ... Oh.
  • Market-Based Title: The "A Fantasy Harvest Moon" subtitle was only used on the first game in Japan. Natsume added it to all the DS games in the US. It was dropped from Rune Factory Frontier onward.
  • Mascot Mook: Woolies and Chipsqueaks are often used as the series mascots.
  • Nerf Arm: In the first game, the most powerful weapon in the game is: your watering can. Likewise, Rune Factory Frontier has the fishing pole as the strongest weapon. The first example hasn't gone unnoticed, as Kross in Frontier comments about how someone destroyed a tank with a watering can.
  • Never Say "Die": Monsters, notably. They don't die; they return home to the Forest of Beginnings. Mainly because befriending monsters is how the player acquires livestock, and that would be a bit too grim.
    • Averted in Rune Factory 1. In the first game as soon as you gain access to Carmite Cave, the first dungeon, people will explicitly tell that you'll die if you lose all HP in these places.
  • Non-Idle Rich: The de Sainte-Coquille family. The family works for its wealth, and uses its wealth and connections to fund public spaces and organize most of the festivals. Also implied that they're responsible for shipping the player's crops and importing most products not produced locally.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Mentioned above in Never Say "Die": weapons are designed in the series to not actually harm monsters, but instead send them back to the Forest of Beginnings.
    • 1 and 2 averts this for the player. Get your HP depleted in a dungeon and it's Game Over for you and this is the same for one very special area in 4: the Forest of Beginnings. Faint there and Lest/Frey will be trapped there forever.
  • Official Couple: Raguna and Mist, Kyle and Mana, Micah and Shara, Aden and Sonja (to an extent). Considering the Dating Sim aspect of the games, this trope's presence has led many to complain about the "forced couples". Later games in the series, however, have moved away from thisLest and Frey have no clear Implied Love Interest, as do Ares and Alice.
  • Only One Name: Most of the characters in this series fall under this trope. The de Sainte-Coquilles avert it due to being aristocracy.
  • Only Sane Man: The main characters are often very down-to-earth people who have to deal with a quirky cast of people living in wherever they end up at and this does not go unoticed by them. Micah of Rune Factory 3 in particular seems the most confused by the largely strange townsfolk of Sharance.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons in Rune Factory universe are somewhat diverse. There are smaller ones that serve as regular, if high level, enemies. And there are the Native Dragons: Terrable, Fiersome, Aquaticus and Ventuswill; they are so powerful they're considered forces of nature capable of shaping and destroying the world if they wished so. All of them serves as the Final Boss from 1 to 4 respectively. Rune Factory 5 introduces Farm Dragons which are gigantic dragons that allow a few select people to grow crops in the terrain on their backs and you also interact with two more Elder Dragons: Lumenivia (Livia) and Umbradea (Radea), dragon gods of Light and Dark.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played so straight in the first game that the human who was trained by a dwarf matches every last cliche. In 3, however, when you actually see a couple dwarves, Gaius and Zaid, you'd almost assume they were elves at first. Only one is into mining and forging (Gaius), and the other gets offended by the short bearded man stereotype (Zaid).
  • Parental Abandonment: The villages in these games tend to be populated mostly by people who aren't even old enough to drink. Roughly a quarter of those youngsters have no visible parents, and most of the rest only have one. The fates of these parents are often only vaguely alluded to if it's ever brought up at all. Kinda makes you wonder how these places stay so darn cheery.
    • Kardia in particular has exactly zero couples, yet no shortage of children. Everyone is either single, widowed, separated or single-parent with no further elaboration.
    • To bring the point home even more, in the second half of Rune Factory 2 this becomes a plot point for your player character.
    • Trampoli is somewhat better about this. Every youngster has at least one related guardian and, shockingly, Eunice even has a mother AND father. Rosetta, Lara and Bianca live on their own but you know their fathers are back in Kardia (though the issue of their nonexistent mothers still apply). Danny has a family back in his hometown, Selphy is a runaway and Melody's orphan status is a plot point. Played straight with Erik though, and the less we talk about Mist the better.
    • Fenith Island is a pretty big offender as well. The need to include bachelors ate up some extra character slots, so there are only four characters over the rough teens of the marriage candidates. Only three are residents of the island and only two are related to anyone.
    • Selphia practically adopts this as a theme: literally the only character in the entire game whose parents are both intact and present is the player character's child. Everyone else is either raised in a single-parent household or Happily Adopted.
      • Subverted with a handful of characters, whose parents aren't seen in game but are still referenced. Xiao Pai's father, Yang Fan, is said to be travelling but they still have a relationship and he even turns up in a few town events (albeit as a faceless NPC), and Vishnal has family in another town. Clorica's marriage event also revolves around her relationship with her family.
    • Rigbarth keeps this old tradition well and alive. Martin and Cecil's parents are away and Cecil mentions they've been gone traveling ever since he was little. Lucy and Julian's dad is an archeologist and spends a lot of time away from home, something Simone dryly notes too. In Hina's case it's heavily implied her father passed away and she lives only with her mother, Misasagi. Priscilla and Elsje parents are nowhere to be seen either.
  • Running Gag:
    • The proliferation of Amnesiac Heroes in this series becomes one in later entries, with NPCs commenting on how oddly common it is.
    • Interacting with an NPC's bed gives you the option to sleep in it. If the owner is nearby, they'll get mad/amused at you, or at very least make a very sarcastic commentary. Even the own protagonist reacts in shock, if the bed owner isn't nearby, thinking to themselves "What the heck am I thinking?"
  • Shared Universe: Every game takes place in the same world, but most of them are in the territory of Norad Kingdom who's been at odds with the Sechs Empire. That is until Rune Factory 5 where the the Sechs Empire was turned into the Sechs Republic.
  • Slice of Life: Being a descendant of the Harvest Moon series, the games can be played as this. You can set your own pace for the plot and focus more on your crops and socializing with the villagers.
  • Talk to Everyone: A requirement, since you have to speak to everyone to get all the basic tools.
  • Too Awesome to Use: A borderline case with the flowers, most notoriously the Emery Flower. Not only does it require 26 000 gold in Frontier, it takes 120 days (which is a full year by the in-game calendar) to grow without aid. What saves this from the effects of this trope is that you get 9 of them in one seed packet.
  • Turns Red: Almost every boss will literally turn red when you've lowered its HP enough. Most of them also let out a vicious roar at this point, just in case you haven't figured out that they're about to get a lot more aggressive.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Quite a few examples, but the de Sainte-Coquille dads and their daughters come to mind.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: In the first two games, if you save deep in a dungeon while both poisoned and sealed, you can find yourself unable to get out before the poison kills you. Later games fix this both by allowing the Escape spell to work even while sealed, and by reducing the penalty for fainting in a dungeon from an instant Game Over to a massive hospital bill.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend:
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Despite the innocent personalities of the main characters, the game gives you many chances for them to assert their "main character" status on the villagers.
    • In the second game, Kyle can steal a bride on her wedding day if their LP is high enough with him.
    • Rune Factory Frontier allows you to back out of a marriage by not saying "I do", but will cause the girl's FP/LP to plummet to 0 (except Tabatha for some reason).
    • Rune Factory Frontier, Rune Factory 3, and Rune Factory 4 allow you to cheat on your significant other/spouse and take another marriage candidate out on a date. The spouse/significant other's response vary from hurt to anger. Though, in the case of 4, you can actually make a Harem by dating and confessing to the other marriage candidates. Making this more downplayed compared to the previous games.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Rune Factory is known for its light-hearted atmosphere and characters, but some of the games have truly despicable villains with Emperor Ethelberd being one of the bigger examples.
  • Warp Whistle:
    • In the original Rune Factory, it's two different books. "Escape", which lets you exit a dungeon, and "Teleport", which brings you to your house. Neither can be used if you're sealed.
    • Frontier allows you to do this with a simple menu command from the get-go. As a bonus, it also works while sealed. This means that you can fight however much you want without worry that you can always escape just in time.
    • In the second half of Rune Factory 2, one of the Magic Books allows you to warp back to the entrance of a dungeon. If you're not in a dungeon, it'll warp you back to your house.
    • In Rune Factory 3, the spell sends you to different places depending on where you are; for example if you're on your doorstep and cast it, it'll send you right next to your bed, whereas if you cast it while in your home it sends you to your doorstep.
    • In Rune Factory 4, besides being an usable spell it can be used at any time with a tap on the touch screen.
    • In Rune Factory 5, it can be used mostly freely to warp around not only home, but other known locations like dungeons.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: You can build up experience in mundane activities such as cooking, farming and even eating and chatting will eventually raise the character's combat-related stats.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The main characters often attracts the weirdest of things and people due to their adventurous nature.
  • Wutai: In the world of Rune Factory, there is a small island country to the east that is heavily based off of Japan's Sengoku and Edo period (with a dash of Chinese culture). If there is a character with an Asian name wearing Eastern style clothes, chances are they're from this country.


Video Example(s):


Hammer/Axe Link Attack

After filling their Link Meter, an axe- or hammer-wielding villager such as Beatrice can team up with Alice or Ares to wallop an enemy far into the distance.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / CombinationAttack

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