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Video Game / The Bard's Tale Trilogy

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The song I sing
Will tell the tale
of a cold and wintery day;
Of castle walls
And torchlit halls
And a price men had to pay.
When evil fled
And brave men bled
The Dark one came to stay,
'Til men of old
For blood and gold
Had rescued Skara Brae.
Introductory song

The Bard's Tale Trilogy is a series of games developed by Interplay Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. It was a first-person game in the style of the Wizardry series, but with more impressive sounds and graphics, especially the Apple IIGS and Commodore Amiga versions. As the title of this page suggests, there were three games in the series:

  • The Bard's Tale: Tales of the Unknown (1985). The mad wizard Mangar has cast a spell of eternal winter over the city of Skara Brae. The heroes, who just happen to be stuck in the city, must stop him.
  • The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight (1986). The evil wizard Lagoth Zanta has shattered the Destiny Wand into seven pieces and scattered them across seven cities. The heroes must reforge the Destiny Wand, and one amongst them must become the Destiny Knight.
  • The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate (1988). The mad god Tarjan has finally lost it, destroying Skara Brae and wreaking havoc across other dimensions. The heroes must stop him once and for all.

The first two games were principally designed and written by Michael Cranford for the Apple IIe, with additional content, art, and porting to different platforms by various others at Interplay. Cranford left after completing the second game; the third game was designed by Michael A. Stackpole, with principal programming by Rebecca Heineman.

The iOS, Steam, and versions of the 2004 game have an emulated version of either the Apple IIGS or Commodore Amiga ports of the original trilogy included as a bonus.

A remastered version of the trilogy by Krome Studios was released on August 14, 2018 for Steam and It introduced a load of quality of life improvements, such as updated graphics, automapping in all three games, easier spell access, faster leveling, better inventory management, and the ability to choose your created character's sex in all three games, instead of just in the third game. The Remaster had a staggered release: Tales of the Unknown is the first part released, with The Destiny Knight being added on October 23, 2018, and Thief of Fate on February 26, 2019. Alongside Thief of Fate, a Legacy Mode was added, which has various options that will make the games play more like the original '80s releases.

The Bard's Tale IV went to Kickstarter on June 2, 2015.

This series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: The Sewers of Skara Brae in Tales of the Unknown are a three-level labyrinth accessed via the wine cellar of the tavern on Rakhir Street. Given the altar you find down there, the local spider cult may be to blame. Until you get the Master Key, they're also the only way to get to Mangar's Tower—directly on the opposite side of town.
  • Achilles' Heel: The crystal sword for the crystal golem in Tales of the Unknown; the Nightspear for Tslotha Garnath in Thief of Fate.
  • Aerith and Bob: The first game has your standard array of monsters - ice giants, red dragons, golems - and then there's... Fred. Whose image is an old man.
  • After the End: The Skara Brae area in Thief of Fate is in this condition. Gelidia is no better off, and the Wasteland zone of Tarmitia is a nod to another Interplay game.
  • Anachronism Stew: Tarmitia's core. The previous sections each highlighted a major battle from Earth's history (well, the Earth in which Wasteland takes place, anyway), with enemy encounters being troops associated with that region. In the core, all the previous sections' goons are encounterable.
  • Anti-Magic: Anti-magic zones don't just prevent you from casting spells (except the most basic of light spells), they also turn off all persistent spells except light spells. They don't affect persistent spells cast from items, however. In The Destiny Knight, the entire Grey Crypt is a single massive anti-magic zone. Better bring a source of light which doesn't rely on spellcasting. Fortunately, they affect enemies as well as you.
  • Apocalyptic Log: In Thief of Fate the diaries of dead people, as well as old poems, can be found.
    • The official clue book for Tales of the Unknown is written as the journal kept by a previous party which attempted to solve the quest. Obviously, they failed; after being defeated and trapped on the final level, their mages cast a spell to save the journal so that some future adventurers could use it. A side effect of the spell was that everything their party did, save for the journal itself, was erased from history. The final page makes for rather creepy reading.
  • Artifact Title: The first game was initially Tales of the Unknown, Volume 1: The Bard's Tale, then The Bard's Tale took over as the primary title for the trilogy and the latter games in the trilogy, though the Bard is only of special importance in the first game.
  • Barbarian Hero: The portraits for some characters in some versions of the game are this.
  • The Bard: Unsurprisingly, it has a few with the Magic Music power.
  • Beef Gate: The gray dragon statue outside Harkyn's Castle in Tales of the Unknown can inflict a one-turn Total Party Kill on a tenth-level party with its breath weapon. Said party would probably be able to handle the Random Encounters inside, at least on the first level.
  • Berserk Button: Responding Burger to the monks at the Temple of the Mad God will result in a pretty bad turn of events. note 
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Werra was this down to a tee. He doesn't have any hard feelings at all after losing to both Hawkslayer and the party. In fact, he's thankful to all concerned for allowing him opportunities to engage in some fun fighting.
  • Booze-Based Buff: This is how the bard replenishes their music points.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The oft-acclaimed Spectre Snare in the first game (always lands a critical hit, can cast Baylor's Spell Bind) can only be gained at the very end of the game; in the 8-bit version, it's entirely possible to find it only after killing Mangar. The good news is that it can be transferred to The Destiny Knight, where it's downright mean for the first few dungeons. (Just remember to periodically sell it and buy it back so it doesn't disappear by losing its Spell Bind charges.)
    • At least in the PC version of the game, the Spectre Snare can be obtained immediately before the final battle, but you have to take a particular route, which you're unlikely to do unless you already know about it. (There is a hint about this much earlier in the gamenote , but it's so vaguely worded that even if you still remember it by that point, it's not likely to mean much to you.)
  • Broken Bridge: In Tales of the Unknown, the gate out of Skara Brae is permanently locked. Sinister Street, which appears to lead out of the town, is actually an infinitely-repeating corridor.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Lagoth Zanta, as the Sage, describes himself with a good deal of respect, though he's at least careful to not be too glowing in his description, making him sound like he's speaking of a Worthy Opponent rather than a person he actually likes.note 
  • Cap: There is no effective hard level cap on character levels, max HP, or max SP. The previous releases of each game had each character split their wealth and had an inventory limit of 8 items in the first game, 10 items in the second, and 16 items in the third. Stats cap out at 18 in the first game, 20 in the second, and 30 in the third.
  • Church Militant: The Paladin class is in the game series, although the only benefits they have is better saving throws and being able to use certain magic items.
  • Class and Level System: Of course. There's even a Prestige Class system of sorts. Sorcerers and wizards have always been this way; a sorcerer needs you to have at least three spell levels in either conjurer or magician, and a wizard needs that for at least two classes. The archmage of The Destiny Knight was hinted at in the first game's manual, and in that game, you need at least three spell levels in all four other mage classes; Thief of Fate changed this to requiring having all seven spell levels in three of the mage classes. In Thief of Fate, you have to turn an archmage otherwise-candidate into a chronomancer to get much of anywhere...which requires you to lose all your non-chronomancer spells in the bargain (the non-travel spells definitely make up for it though). A similar situation exists with the geomancer, except only a fighter class can promote to this, trading their special qualities (paladin saving throws, hunter critical hits, etc.) for the spell privilege. The 2018 remaster of Thief of Fate changes up the requirements for chronomancers - instead of requiring all seven spell levels from three different mage classes, you need to be an archmage with at least three spell levels before you can change.
  • Copy Protection: Tales of the Unknown and The Destiny Knight required the player to look up four-letter codes in the manual in order to cast spells, at least on the originally supported platforms. Thief of Fate supplied the codes in-game to help you remember which mages could cast what, but you still needed the manual to see what those codes would do. Additionally, The Destiny Knight required hints in the manual to win the game, and Thief of Fate had a code wheel for traveling between the dimensions. Tales of the Unknown required you to refer to the map and look up streets to level up - and many streets on the map are misspelled. You need to use the map's spelling, not the in-game spelling.
  • Critical Hit: Of the One-Hit Kill variety. The Hunter does this with normal attacks, the Rogue does this with sneak attacks, some monsters do it with their regular melee attack, and any player character wielding the Strifespear does it. This is required to be done by the Rogue to kill Sceadu and Tarjan.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Alliria suffers this when Tarjan subjects her to slow Cold-Blooded Torture non-stop until she finally expires from it.
  • Crossover: In the initial Apple IIe version of Tales Of The Unknown, you could import characters from Wizardry or Ultima III.
    • Not to mention the Ultima series has its own Skara Brae, and Hawkwind (or his alter-ego, the Time Lord) is in all three.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Ferofist makes one with Tarjan to gain the power to create mechanical servants for the Dwarves. It backfires spectacularly, since it allows Tarjan to escape from his imprisonment and also leads to the instance of Turned Against Their Masters noted below.
    • It is also revealed that Sceadu has allied with Tarjan, forcing the party to kill him.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Tarjan used to be mortal. Not anymore...
  • Driven to Madness: Cyanis from Thief of Fate encountered some recent difficulties, to say the least.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Between Destiny Knight and Thief of Fate, almost all of the NPCs of Skara Brae were killed by Tarjan. In-game, Hawkslayer from Thief of Fate is utterly crushed and pulverized by the time you get to Malefia.
  • Dungeon Bypass: In Tarmitia, you can bypass the dungeon circle and go straight to Werra's place if you already know the password.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The bread and butter of this series.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Cast Trap Zap all you like, you're not going to escape setting off those two tripwires in Oscon's Fortress that force you to rehearse Outrun the Fireball for a corridor.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Played With, there is a spell in Thief of Fate whose codename is "NUKE" but its full name is Goetterdammerung.
  • Flunky Boss: Many of the bosses are this. This is also an important part of the fights against Lagoth Zanta and Tarjan.
  • Game-Favored Gender: In the first two games, all characters are male. In some ports this has the incidental side-effect of meaning that only male characters in the third game can benefit from the Old Save Bonus class, which is only accessible by importing a character from an old game. This isn't reflected in the official guides, whose casts included female characters through all three games. With the 2018 remaster, you can make male and female characters from the get-go, although the original all-male preset "A-Team" is still present.
  • Game Maker: The trilogy was followed up with The Bard's Tale Construction Set - an extremely limited tool which couldn't even accurately reproduce the plot or mechanics of the first game, let alone the second or third.
  • Ghost Town: The vast majority of town buildings are either empty or populated by random encounters.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The Monk class is most-effective without any weapons at higher levels.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Numerous summonable creatures, many different ones in The Destiny Knight, and Hawkslayer in Thief of Fate.
  • Guide Dang It!: Almost literally, some puzzles can only be solved by following some esoteric instructions in the manual.
  • In-Game Banking Services: Beddar's Bank in The Destiny Knight. He doesn't pay interest on your depositsnote , but he does keep your money safe so you don't lose it after a Total Party Kill. Quite useful in saving up to pay for the numerous resurrections you'll need after failing to solve the Snares of Death.
  • Informed Ability: Hawkslayer during the third game is built up to be a total badass. His reputation is such that even Tarjan is supposed to be scared of him, and the residents of Gelidia thought they might have staved off the first invasion against them had he been present, the Rainbow Dragon thought him a legitimate threat, and Cyanis (who in fairness wasn't in the best state of mind at the time) was convinced he could have saved Alliria's life. He also defeated Werra the God of War in single combat before the party finally meets the deity in person. But when he's a joinable 'monster' during Arboria and Kinestia? He's a warrior with Armor Class that just can't keep up, at least during Kinestia. And he makes a single attack each round with underwhelming damage, again at least during Kinestia. He is found thoroughly crushed to death by the time the party catches up to him in Malefia.
  • Joke Item: The most distinctive one may be the Dork Ring.
  • Killer Robot: The dimension of Kinestia in The Thief of Fate is full of them.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The Mad God's name is Tarjan. This was a password in the original game, but is freely referenced in later games (and given to you directly by the Old Man in 3).
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Due to having a boatload of additional character advancement options, spellcasters take center stage after the early levels.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Depending on how you interpret his intentions, Lagoth Zanta may think he has manipulated the party to this effect, not realizing the true nature of the MacGuffin. A problem with this theory, however, is that he is supposedly the one who shattered the Destiny Wand into seven segments in the first place. A simpler explanation may be that he simply wants to send the party to their deaths, figuring one of the Snares will do the job without him jeopardizing his Villain with Good Publicity status.
  • Made of Iron: The Monk class naturally gets good armor class without needing to wear anything.
  • Mad God: One of Tarjan's titles is the Mad God.
  • Magic Music: This is what makes bards so important. If they have an instrument, they can sing a song that either lasts for the rest of combat, or lasts for a good chunk of city/dungeon exploration. As long as the song lasts, you get a particular boon (e.g. easier saving throws, regeneration, improved armor class, can always flee). The trick is that the bard's voice dries out after singing a number of songs equal to their character level. You can "recharge" this by getting them a drink.
  • Magic Knight: The Geomancer in Thief of Fate. Spells? Check. Archmage armor and weaponry? Check. Warrior armor and weaponry? Check. We have a winner!
  • Massive Race Selection: There's seven races available in character creation - human, elf, dwarf, hobbit, half-elf, half-orc, and gnome. About the only differences between them are the starting attribute ranges and class restrictions. Humans can be any class and are generally average stat-wise. Elves are barred from being hunters (for whatever reason) and are slightly more suited stat-wise for mage classes than humans, while being less hardy. Dwarves more favor fighter classes stat-wise, but can't be any mage class bar the geomancer in the third game. Hobbits have the highest possible starting luck and dexterity, favoring the rogue while being barred from being paladins and hunters. Half-elves are just slightly hardier than their full-blood elf brethren and share the same barred classes as hobbits. Half-orcs are about par martially as dwarves, can be mages but are absolute pants at it, and can't be paladins, monks, or bards. Gnomes are the best suited for being mages, but are also the squishiest race available and can't be paladins or bards.
  • Meaningful Name: Sinister Street is not an ordinary street, that's for sure. Not just because it survived Tarjan's attack in Thief of Fate.
    • The alternate dimensions to which you travel in Thief of Fate have names reflecting their natures (e.g. Arboria is a woodland, Lucencia is a land of light and colors, Tenebrosia is a place of shadows and illusions, Malefia is the dimension of evil).
    • Some of the Old Gods were examples of this as well. (e.g. Valarian 'Valor', Alliria 'Allure', Ferofist 'Iron', Werra 'War')
    • The four-letter code for the "Youth" spell (which removes the "old" status effect) is "OLAY".
    • The names for the trilogy mark out the classes needed to actually win. In The Bard's Tale, only a bard can activate the throne in Harkyn's Castle that lets you progress past the first floor. In The Destiny Knight, only an archmage can reforge the wand and properly help combat Lagoth Zanta. In Thief of Fate, a rogue's critical strike is the only way to kill Sceadu or Tarjan.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: The eponymous bard is the only class that uses singing ability with a variety of effects, and that needs to drink beer to recharge this ability.
  • Multi-Platform: All three games were originally written for the Apple IIe and then ported to various other platforms. Other 8-bit versions include the Commodore 64 and (for the first game) the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. 16-bit versions of each were subsequently released for platforms including the Commodore Amiga, MS-DOS, and (for the first two games) the Apple IIgs. The 8-bit and 16-bit versions both have their fans.
    • The 16-bit versions have greatly enhanced graphics, but their share of problems as well. Also, not all 16-bit versions provide the same experience: the Apple IIgs and Amiga versions have better graphics and sound than the MS-DOS version, which only supports EGA graphics and PC speaker audio.
    • The Amiga version of Tales of the Unknown was the very first 16-bit port, and is generally considered one of the buggiest. The MS-DOS port of Thief of Fate was also notoriously problematic, with a slow and awkward interface, broken magic items, non-functional special abilities, and a random encounter frequency raised to absurd levels.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Kylearan...WHY couldn't you have noticed the heroes before they reunited Tarjan's eye with his petrified form, thus restoring him? Sure, you thought he was slain by them shortly thereafter, but look at what happened after the Lagoth Zanta incident...
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: The Destiny Knight, of whom it is said "Of wounds this man can never die", cannot be killed by hit point damage. The remake tweaks this by making the Destiny Knight instead suffer damage to MP first, then go to HP once that runs out.
  • Nintendo Hard: It makes Ultima look like Half-Minute Hero.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: The Normal Mode for the 2018 remaster made the four groups of 99 berserkers encounter a single spawn, likely due to how the leveling system was rebalanced. You can still go ham with it in Legacy Mode though.
  • Old Save Bonus: Enforced fully, to the point of being able to carry over unique and powerful weapons such as the Spectre Snare.
    • Frustratingly, the Apple IIe version could not transfer from II to III, because III was only on the Apple II GS.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Tarjan's ultimate plan is to destroy all dimensions except Malefia.
  • One-Hit Kill: Critical hits and stoning attacks, and the Deathstrike and Far Death spells.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: In Thief of Fate, almost every single named supporting character dies, either in the backstory or during the game itself. The exceptions, depending on the party's actions, are Cyanis, who in the best case is left alone in the ruins of his home to mourn Alliria's death; and the machine-man Urmech, who remains locked in a bitter war with the dwarves of Kinestia.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: The most famous one in Tales of the Unknown is 99 berserkers, 99 berserkers, 99 berserkers, and 99 berserkers. You remembered to bring a sorcerer with Mangar's Mind Blade, right? RIGHT? Or you can take the sane option, and wear robes so they think you're part of the staff.
    • In The Destiny Knight, the Dream Mages who appear as random encounters in the Maze of Dread do nothing but raise illusory monsters. Three points cause this to be a Metal Menagerie-grade XP farm: Summons (including illusions) can't act until the turn after they appear, a high-level party will reliably disbelieve every single illusion the Dream Mages raise, and disbelieving an illusory monster counts as killing it for XP gain purposes. If you're playing the 8-bit version, just remember to kill off the mages after a while, as there's a cap on the XP and gold gain from each individual encounter (65280 per player character on the Commodore 64).
  • People Puppets: Anyone hit with possession will start going after you, until you dispossess them.
  • Plot Coupon: Numerous.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: In the first game, the crystal sword is a better weapon than you'd be able to find as a random drop at that point. In the second game, each segment of the Destiny Wand has a special power. In the third game, you have to collect the gods' personal equipment, and can then use it during your assault on Malefia (there's also the Nightspear, in Arboria, which performs much the same plot role as the crystal sword).
  • The Power of the Sun: Spellcasters slowly regenerate SP when outside during daytime. Outside nighttime, or inside anytime? Hope you have a Mage Staff...
    • The first game also has one particular location where sunlight has been focused and, essentially, weaponized into an impassable barrier.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Some of the tracks come from real Renaissance-era songs.
  • Purple Prose: In Thief of Fate, when you enter almost every level or major area, you get a wordy description of the surroundings, atmosphere, and mood, which is especially noticeable in comparison to the more tersely-worded earlier games. This is presumably attributable to having a different writer, Michael A. Stackpole, design the third game after Michael Cranford's departure; ironically, Stackpole is not generally known for this trope in his other writing.
    • The first game's official clue book is full of this kind of writing.
  • Random Encounters: It's a 1980s CRPG series.
  • Remake: The original 8-bit games were ported to several 16-bit platforms such as the Apple IIgs, Amiga and PC, with major upgrades to the look and feel (see Multi-Platform, above). As of 2018, they've been remade again in Unity and released for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • Sequence Breaking: Possible to an extent in the first two games; impossible (apart from skipping the two dungeons under Skara Brae) in the third, because the Old Man won't teach your chronomancer the travel spells for one dimension until you've recovered the artifacts from the previous dimension.
  • Shop Fodder: Tales of the Unknown has the Dork Ring, which does absolutely nothing but can still be sold to Garth's for a tidy sum.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several, especially to Monty Python and the Holy Grail
      • Sir Robin's Tune allows escape from any encounter or prevents monsters summoning new monsters.
      • One of the consumable items available is the Holy Hand Grenade.
      • In the Remaster of the first game, getting healed at a Temple is accompanied by a sound clip singing the second half of "Pie Jesu" (Dona eis requiem) from the film. No collective headsmacking, however.
    • The term 'Snare' pops up in several contexts in Bard's Tale I and II, probably as a nod to the first game's original working title (see Spiritual Successor, below).
    • All the spells have four-letter codes that you need to enter to cast them. The code for the protective spell called Ybarra's Mystical Coat of Armor is YMCA and the code for the spell to remove the "Old" condition is OLAY.
  • Siblings in Crime: In Oscon's Fortress in The Destiny Knight, one message refers to Mangar's brother now being your nemesis. It doesn't make clear whether it's referring to Oscon or Lagoth, though.
  • Single-Biome Planet: The different dimensions of Thief of Fate.
  • Snowed-In: In Tales of the Unknown, Skara Brae has been cut off from the rest of the world by an unnatural cold; going to the city gates reveals them to be covered in snow.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Maze Master, an obscure dungeon crawler for the Commodore 64 by the same author. When beaten it mentions Shadow Snare, the working title of the first Bard's Tale game before Cranford switched publishers.
    • Dragon Wars, a game Interplay developed after Thief of Fate, is considered by many to be an unofficial fourth installment. In fact, it originally was intended to be The Bard's Tale IV, but publisher Electronic Arts, which held the rights to the name, wasn't interested in extending the franchise.
  • Spoony Bard: Totally inverted, the Bard is the most important class in the first game and remains extremely useful thereafter ... in case the name of the game didn't clue you in.
  • Squishy Wizard: Downplayed. The spellcasting classes' armor options are highly restricted (robes and various magical accessories only, except for the Geomancer in Thief of Fate who wears armor like a warrior), but because of the way character advancement and class changes work, they will have much better saving throws and noticeably better hit points.
  • Taken for Granite: Several monsters can inflict this with their melee attacks. You can return the favour with the Stone Touch (in Tales of the Unknown) or Petrify (in Thief of Fate) spells, or with the Stoneblade weapon.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The Sword of Zar in The Destiny Knight can be thrown to a range of 80', and always returns after being thrown. Aram's Knife can go to 90', but can't do as much damage as a melee weapon (so you give it to the hunter because his One-Hit Kill ability makes melee weapon damage not matter much). Then there's the bard-only Song Axe, which is pitiful as a melee weapon but excellent as a thrown weapon with a 90' range. Finally, there's freaking Mjolnir, which not only can be thrown up to 70', but has a small HP regeneration effect on it that gradually heals it's wielder.
  • Timed Mission: In The Destiny Knight, each dungeon (except for the starter dungeon) contains a lethal puzzle area called a Snare of Death. As soon as you enter a Snare, you have a fixed amount of real (not game) time to solve the puzzle or the entire party dies. The game doesn't show you how much time you have left, either; when the game determines that your time has run out, you just suddenly die. As icing on the cake, you cannot save the game inside a Snare, and even pausing is disabled. Naturally, you cannot win the game without successfully completing every single Snare.
  • Time Travel: It is implied in Thief of Fate that each of the dimensions exists in a different time, thus Hawkslayer has a different age each time he is encountered. He also greets the party warmly as old comrades when you first meet him, but he has no clue who the party is when you meet up with him again later.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The main (shown-in-game, at least) religion of Skara Brae, worship of Tarjan, turns out to be rather malicious. This is hinted at in Tales of the Unknown (unlike the other temples, they want nothing to do with you unless you know Tarjan's name) and comes to fruition in Thief of Fate.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: Lagoth Zanta.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Ferofist created Urmech with the intention that he be the first of many mechanical slaves for the Dwarves. Urmech clearly was not ok with servitude, escaped, and created a whole army of mechanical creatures that became locked in an endless war with the Dwarves.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: In Tales of the Unknown, this can crop up in Kylearan's Tower. There's an unavoidable fight with the Crystal Golem, and you must have the Crystal Sword in your inventory, or else it will reassemble and start the fight anew. If for some reason you don't have the Sword (you didn't find it in Harkyn's Castle, or you decided to sell it), you'd likely just go back for it (items sold to Garth's don't disappear). Except... the entirety of the Tower is teleport-proof, and there's no path back to the stairs in the Golem's segment. At least when you get wiped out, you can just make a few new characters to drag your crew's corpses to the local temple.
  • Unwinnable by Design: In Tales of the Unknown there are two "Stasis Rooms" which, once entered, can't be escaped by normal means. The first one, found in the Catacombs, can still be escaped using the Apport Arcane spell. The second, however, is in Kylearan's Tower which is teleport-proof.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Sorry, but the first game's spells for inflicting withering, poison, and insanity have no effect on the enemy goons. Ditto any such brands on your weapons, such as the poison brand on Kael's Axe. The bad news is that the enemy have those spells, and when you're the target, they do work.
    • Spells that cause instant death and petrification, however, mostly avert this, as they generally do work most of the time (even against enemies that are already made of stone). However, by the time you get them, most of your fighters will be able to One-Hit Kill most mooks with attacks alone, making such spells unnecessary since they affect a single target only.
    • The Sorcerer's illusion summoning spells. These summon monsters that immediately disappear if the enemy realizes they are illusions. One of the base magic classes - that you have to level to at least 5 before choosing sorcerer - is conjurer and provides real monsters as summons instead of the illusions of the sorcerer. On the other hand, the sorcerer's summons are much more powerful than the conjurer's, as the Wind Dragon and Wind Giant spells summon endgame monsters that can deal a ton of damage to enemies even if they do get disbelieved at the end of the first round. There is also the wizard - requiring two magic classes at level 5, admittedly - which has monsters on par with the sorcerer's but which can't be disbelieved.
    • The 'Word of Fear' spell, which is supposed to reduce an enemy's effectiveness in combat, not only doesn't work properly in the first game; it was eventually discovered that, due to a bug in the game code, it actually boosts their effectiveness.
    • None of this applies in the 2018 remaster, however. Withering, poison, and insanity all work much more often, and brands on weapons are guaranteed to apply. Illusions are also much harder to get rid of, as they now require a Disbelieve or a Dispel Illusion spell to banish (but be aware this applies to enemy illusions as well!).
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Attack your allies and they'll turn on you.
  • Violation of Common Sense: in Tales of the Unknown, your first dungeon, other than the town itself, is likely to be the wine cellar that leads to the sewers. Successfully completing the sewers gets you a clue that lets you access the catacombs. The problem is that the sewers are also the way to access the final area, Madgar's tower, but you can't get in there until you've completed basically everything else in the game. The encounters also scale appropriately, so not going into the sewers first is dangerous even if you know the clue.
  • Walking Spoiler: If you've been looking into the spoiler tags, by now you should know that the Sage in The Destiny Knight is actually Lagoth Zanta himself.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: One of the Bard's poems in Lucencia explicitly says that Alliria was this not just in the entire world, but in the entire universe. Given the Cruel and Unusual Death she suffered at the hands of Tarjan, it also amounts to an extreme example of So Beautiful, It's a Curse. The other Gods died relatively quick deaths by comparison. It is heavily implied that Tarjan murdered Alliria the way that he did because of the perverse pleasure he got from it.
  • Ye Olde Butchered English: Shows up here and there, especially in Thief of Fate.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The theory behind the sorcerer's illusion spells. As long as the enemy believes that you conjured up a genuine red dragon or storm giant (they haven't read the manual, so they don't know that spells to call up said genuine red dragons and storm giants don't exist), they'll believe that they have indeed been mortally wounded by them, and will proceed to die. Of course, the reverse is true when they call up their own illusions. Hope you have your Disbelieve spell ready...

Alternative Title(s): The Bards Tale II The Destiny Knight, The Bards Tale Tales Of The Unknown