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Following the Liberl and Crossbell arcs in Falcom's long-running Trails Series of Eastern RPGs, Trails of Cold Steel and its sequels are a game changer for two reasons: The story moves to the Empire of Erebonia, an expansionist superpower whose conflicts have simmered in the background since Trails in the Sky, and the game itself is in full 3D for the first time ever. The game stars Rean Schwarzer, a new student at the Thors Military Academy in the small suburban town of Trista, who finds himself placed into a special academic class, Class VII. There, he faces not only classes and tests but a student body fractured by the political divisions in Erebonia, a willful teacher with an unorthodox approach to education, and his own insecurity. And in the background, rumors of war with neighboring nations and from within simmer...

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Trails of Cold Steel is the third arc in the series begun by Trails in the Sky and takes place roughly about the same time frame as Zero no Kiseki and its sequel, Ao no Kiseki.

In December 2015, Falcom formally announced the development of a third game in the arc.

There are also two audio dramas associated with the series, one for Trails of Cold Steel and one for Trails of Cold Steel II. Transcriptions of both can now be found at the official website for the second game.

The third game was released in Japan on September 28, 2017.

An Updated Re-release of the first two games for the PS4 has also been released - Sen no Kiseki Kai: -Thors Military Academy 1204-, on March 8, 2018, and Sen no Kiseki II Kai: -The Erebonian Civil War-, on April 26, 2018. They become available outside of Japan in early 2019 (March 26th for I and June 4th for II).

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Trails of Cold Steel IV (with it's extremely Engrish-y subtitle The End of Saga), was released on September 27, 2018. A teaser can be found here (obviously spoilers ahead).

On December 2019, Falcom has teased a new game that is a sequel with Erebonia as part of the setting, together with Crossbell and other new locations, called Hajimari no Kiseki (Trails of Origins) that is set after the events of Cold Steel IV. Website can be found here (obviously, spoilers ahead).

The first game in the arc was released on December 22, 2015, courtesy of XSEED Games under the title Trails of Cold Steel. XSEED brought over the second game on September 6, 2016.

XSEED ported the first two titles to the PC on Steam (August 2, 2017 for the first game, February 14th, 2018 for North America and February 15th, 2018 for Europe and Asia for the second game, taking the International Date Line into consideration); the most notable upgrade being an approximately 50% increase in voiced dialogue over the original versions, or some-odd 5,000 lines each.

Trails of Cold Steel III came to the West in 2019 (22nd October for America/Europe and 29th October for Australia/New Zealand); however, rather than XSEED, the localization was handled by NIS America. NIS America has released a PC port (outsourced to PH3 GmbH, Durante's company) for a March 23rd release the next year. A Nintendo Switch port was planned for Spring 2020, but eventually finalised on June 30th, early summer, the same year.

Trails of Cold Steel IV is set to follow with the PlayStation 4 version releasing in the Fall of 2020, and the Switch and PC versions sometime in 2021.

As the third arc in a series with a continuous narrative, expect spoilers for previous games.
Please keep in mind also that this and associated subpages contain details for the original game, Trails of Cold Steel II, Trails of Cold Steel III and Trails of Cold Steel IV.


This game provides examples of:

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    A - D 
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: In the original Cold Steel, as well as Cold Steel III, level 99 is the maximum level for any character. Level 68 is generally the recommended level for fighting the final boss in Cold Steel I, and that's on Nightmare Mode. The are no optional bosses and therefore no practical need for anything close to level 99. Reaching Level 80 or higher with Rean in Cold Steel I will grant you some bonus items in Cold Steel II, but that's it. Furthermore, gained EXP is relative to your current level, so after a point, even fighting the toughest enemies will grant only a negligible amount of EXP. You can even things a bit by taking advantage of easy multipliers, but it's still a grind. The maximum level in Cold Steel II and Cold Steel IV is 200. While you'll probably get well into the 150s if you play New Game Plus and maybe the 160s, there's not much point in going higher than that. The one thing that helps are the DLC Shining Pom Bait/Droplet items (Bait for I and II, Droplet for III and IV.)
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The Thors student council (or, rather, Student Council President Towa Herschel) takes on many duties that should really be done by the teachers themselves.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Heimdallr is riddled with underground waterways dating back to the Middle Ages, including secret passages allowing one to cross between districts and occasionally pop up in unexpected locations.
  • Academy of Adventure: Thors Military Academy is designed to educate the future leaders of the Imperial Army. The Headmaster is an ex-Marshal, the school doctor was a field doctor, at least one instructor(for the military subjects) is on detached duty, classes include all the standard subjects you'd expect of a high school plus combat skills, strategic planning and tactics on the field and the use of Tactical Orbments, Class VII goes on Empire-wide field trips and one of the buildings on campus is constructed over ruins from the Middle Ages and is unsurprisingly haunted. The Old Schoolhouse in particular also serves as an Eldritch Location that Class VII ends up investigating several times and even serves as the final dungeon of the first and second games.
  • Ace Custom: Averted for the most part as any mechs aside from the Divine Knights are all mostly standardized and mass produced, even the ones piloted by the some of the main cast are just repainted versions of the standard Soldats aside from the weaponry that they use.
  • Action Girl: More or less the entire female cast, given how they're students or instructors at a military academy. The most standout examples are Laura S. Arseid, Fie Claussell, Angelica Rogner and Sara Valestein.
  • Action Prologue: Cold Steel I starts off with old Class VII driving the terrorists out of the greatest fortress of Erebonia. Ditto with Cold Steel III where the new Class VII has to blow up one of the Aions at the top of the Juno Naval Fortress. Both cases have the players at a high level to ease people with the controls and the battle system.note 
  • Actually Four Mooks: Boss fights at the end of the Old Schoolhouse in the original Cold Steel often manifest as a single enemy appearing before the party, but end up being more than that during the actual battle. For that matter, this is standard for field encounters as well.
  • Adults Are Useless: Completely averted. Most of the adults in the series that the main cast have to rely on are all quite competent at what they do. Especially seen with Sara, who despite being a drunk who likes to mooch off others and shove her workload onto Rean, is incredibly strong and is considered one of the top fighters of the series. Aside from Instructor Mary and the Vice-Principal Heinrich, the rest of the teaching staff at Thors are no slouches themselves either as seen during the finale of the first game where they all take on a squadron of Panzer Soldats on foot without hesitation. And Mary graduates from this in Cold Steel IV where she ends up fighting against Rean, and joins in the Crossbell concert to help distract the guards while Rean and his group climbs up the Orchis Tower.
  • Aerith and Bob: In a setting like Kiseki, this was bound to happen.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Sara likes doing this to Fie, who puts up with it but tells Sara how annoying she finds it. Laura's father also does this to her when they see each other again for the first time in months. Laura is more embarrassed that the gesture is seen by her classmates than by the gesture itself. Rean also has a tendency to do it to any girl he's close to (Alisa, Towa, and Elise are all on the receiving end, much to their collective frustration). In Cold Steel III, if you get Fie's bonding event, she specifically requests this of Rean, "So I can keep doing my best on this path." Of course, he obliges.
  • Aggressive Categorism: Machias and Jusis both display this at first, unable to see past their anti-Noble and anti-Commoner prejudices respectively. To be fair, in Erebonia this isn't an uncommon attitude and both have reasons for holding it. Some clever maneuvering by Sara and time spent with Rean (who straddles the line between the classes) and the other members of Class VII helps them get over it.
  • Air Vent Escape: Used several times starting in Cold Steel II as a way of bypassing security or just accessing hidden treasure chests. Nobody in the party is unable to fit in the vents, though some of them do complain about the cramped conditions.
  • All Guitars Are Stratocasters: The guitars Rean, Alisa, and the bass Gaius uses look like Strats.
  • All Myths Are True: The 'Myths and Legends of Erebonia' books you can find in Thors' library exist to hang a lampshade on this trope. When you see the final volume, it will mention several legends that the player knows to be true because they've recently fought and killed (for a given value of killed) those legends. Other myths the books mention serve as foreshadowing, playing the trope straight to one degree or another.
  • Always in Class One: A very obvious aversion, the protagonists were all specially placed in Class VII, which leaves a missing number between them and all the other classes. Class I and II are for the Nobles, III through V are for the Commoners. The lack of a Class VI just underscores how different the protagonists are meant to be. It also serves as a nice nod to the Arc Number for the franchise.
  • An Aesop: No one, no matter how powerful or intelligent, can do everything alone. It's something present since Trails in the Sky FC, the first game of the story, as well. The help of other people is necessary to reach a goal, be it for the main characters or antagonists, and it's also Rean's main lesson in his story arc. It's especially reinforced by his classmates, comrades and, later, his students, who try their best to make Rean recognize that he needs their support. The normal ending of Cold Steel IV happened because Rean still decided to take on everything alone, instead of getting the help of the Holy Beast and the other characters. The same goes for all the times of him trying to sacrifice himself for someone - those were times when he refused to burden someone else, thus doing everything alone. The scenes of the game, such as the confrontation with Rufus and a cursed Alan only reinforce this. This is also the main lesson Rean had to learn in order to pass the test to become a Divine Blade.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the post-credits stinger following the Golden Ending of Cold Steel IV, Rean is shown lovingly gazing at all his photographs with family and friends. And if he does do a final bonding event with a girl, he would then receives a message from the girl he picked for the final bonding event, before departing, presumably to continue to more adventures.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: During the Divertissement Chapter of Cold Steel II the player briefly ends up playing as Lloyd Bannings and Rixia Mao throughout the entire segment.
    • In Cold Steel IV, players don't get to play as Rean for quite some time until the Intermission stage starts and Class VII goes in to break Rean out of confinement. And just before Class VII steps into the final dungeon, the dungeon itself is encased in a barrier that must be broken down. Five pillars are scattered throughout the lands, funneling energy for the barrier so instead of Class VII dealing with them, players instead control five different teams with different party member compositions. Mercifully for the players, they don't have to edit their equipment, master quartz, or orbments especially since all five teams have to fight their respective boss fights sequentially.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Dress-up costumes are accessories are occasional rewards, findable treasures or purchasable items in both games. Much of the downloadable content is also costumes or accessories, including some that allow you to dress up in clothing of characters from previous installments in the franchise.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: If Alisa is the person whose dance event you saw, she'll start to give Rean one of these right before the ending.
  • Anti-Frustration Features
    • Cold Steel allows you to purchase missing volumes of Red Moon Rose from Micht's shop so if you missed finding an issue you can pay to make it up later and still get a Zemurian Ore at the end of the game. The Zemurian Ore Fragments also return from Ao, allowing you to get up to three ultimate weapons in your first playthrough and an infinite number once you're in New Game+, provided you're fine with lots of U-Material grinding.
    • Cold Steel II allows the same sort of thing. It also provides many more easy opportunities to grind U-Material items, which is useful, since there's a lot more things they're good for. Also, once you get Beryl on the Courageous, she'll tell you where things stand in terms of compatibility with fellow members, which is essential for the character ending Trophies, and the game also clarifies the exact event requirements for those endings.
    • III further extends that by having region-specific items that can be combined into nice accessories become available after leaving the region in question at certain shops (albeit at a cost penalty).
    • It is possible to become trapped between two NPC characters in certain cases, fortunately, if you're in a town, you can just use the quick travel to teleport out. Also, unlike many games, you can save at anytime you're not in battle or viewing a cutscene. The game also provides you with plenty of access to stuff like maps and help.
    • If you get knocked out during a boss battle, the game offers the option to weaken the boss and retry in addition to just retrying. The weaken and retry option goes away on Hard and Nightmare difficulty modes.
    • In I and II, if a member of Class VII isn't in the party, they can't be used to cook, which can be irritating if you want to make a unique dish and the only person capable of making it is out of the party for story reasons in that chapter. Starting in III, any party member designated as permanent (New Class VII, Old Class VII) can be used to cook once they've joined the party for the first time, whether they're still playable or not.
    • I and II had several battles that look like Hopeless Boss Fights, but actually awarded bonus AP if you managed to reduce the boss' HP to a certain percentage. You were never told this was the case. In Cold Steel III, you are explicitly told if a fight works like this, and the HP threshold you need to reach is even marked on the boss' health bar.
    • In Cold Steel III and IV, if players decided to Speed Run through the game, then the only character players need to worry for levels is Rean as the other soldat pilots will automatically level up to where they should be at the storynote 
    • Bonding trophies are much easier to get in III than in either I or II. In both of those, you had to reload and replay a scenario to get them and only if you had enough affinity with the character in question. In III, you're given a maximum of 9 festival tickets to spend with characters. At the end of the event you gain additional bonding level and if you've reached the max or were at it already, then you get the special event and the trophy. Afterwards, either way, you can move on to another event without having to reload until you've spent all the tickets, or, past a certain point, you have the option to manually forfeit the rest of your tickets if you decide you don't need them.
    • In Cold Steel IV, getting the Golden Ending requires you to beat the game once, then reload a save file to just before the final dungeon in order to unlock a hidden sidequest. Afterwards, the game mercifully lets you skip through the hours-long dungeon and five boss battles along the way and go straight to Osborne, after which you get to fight the True Final Boss.
    • All of the titles in the series will sometimes hit you with a lengthy series of cutscenes followed almost immediately by a battle. When this happens, though, you will be given a screen with the choice to either save or proceed. Of course, even if it didn't you can skip cutscenes anyway, but it's still appreciated.
  • Anti-Villain: If the story had started several years earlier and focused on Crow, the audience might well have been cheering for him and not Rean thanks to his backstory. He's also genuinely concerned for his subordinates and at one point or another comes to the rescue of all of them, even though doing so sometimes risks his cover. His friendship with Class VII is also genuine enough that his ARCUS resonates with the others before entering the Old Schoolhouse for the final time. Yet he's still The Dragon to the Big Bad of Cold Steel. By the end of Cold Steel II, Rean would agree.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In Cold Steel III, when the party visits Bryonia Island, Ash Carbide poo-poos the idea of occult stuff. The other characters point out that he already knows Celine, a talking cat.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: When orbal technology allows you to turn one arrow into a Spam Attack Wave-Motion Gun, you would use a bow too.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The rallying cry of Osborne's reformist movement. He's not entirely wrong either.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Mirage art "Albion Wolf" destroys any barrier or reflect and buffs before it applies any damage to all the enemies in the field. This is very useful in Cold Steel III at the Sanctuary of the Dark Dragon where there are enemies that look like mirrors and there are two kinds of them: one reflecting physical and one reflecting arts. While it won't deal any damage to the one reflecting arts, it still saves the players the hassle of the art getting reflected back to the player. Even moreso in Cold Steel IV with the True Final Boss fight since the other two flunkies will keep chucking out defense buffs and reflects on the main body over and over again even when the player is invoking a Brave Order which doesn't even cost a turn. It allows players to outright skip the two forms and just charge towards the main body.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Chairman Irina Reinford doesn't mind one of her directors taking her prisoner and stealing control of her company, or the fact that said director then used the company's resources to back a coup attempt. What she does object to is the fact that he moved into her penthouse while she was locked up.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Duke Albarea either doesn't know or doesn't care that the relationship between tax levels and tax revenues is not linear. So he keeps cranking up the tax rates on the merchant classes to the point where the tax burden impacts their ability to do business at all. The merchants try to point out that continuing at this level of taxation would ultimately reduce the amount of commerce done in his province, to the point where extracting more taxes from fewer people would result in lower tax revenue than what he started at, but he doesn't listen, and instead has the Provincial Guard make life difficult for the merchants in an effort to bully them into accepting the tax hikes.
  • Artistic License – Education: Overlaps with Mildly Military. It's mentioned that only forty percent of graduates from Thors' Military Academy end up joining the military, even though the purpose of a military academy is to produce junior officers. The behavior of the students also warrants discipline several times, yet the most anyone will get is a scolding for their actions. For instance, during one of the training exercises in the third game, Ash sneaks into the Hector one of the teachers was using during the exercise, and attacks Rean unprovoked, forcing Rean to fight back. Despite attacking a teacher, Ash only gets scolded for his actions.
  • Art Shift: The move to 3D allows for more dynamic cinematography than was possible with the sprites used in previous games.
  • Ascended Extra: Some of the students of Thors in the previous game are actively participating in the plot of Cold Steel III. To wit, Vivi is now a photography sidequest, Munk now runs the Trista Station at Leeves and is also another sidequest, Rosine's sidequest involve obtaining Black Records and shows off her prowess with a crossbow, which she defeats a beast with the help of Thomas and Roselia, Linde is a nurse at St. Ursula who then transfers to Leeves, Dorothy is the receptionist of Heimdallr museum, and Alan is now a soldier in the Imperial Army and pilots as Spiegel. And that's just to name a few.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: While there's no mention of that holiday being celebrated in Zemuria, Celdic is razed on December 24th, and Class VII goes after the responsible party on the 25th. The battle to liberate the capital takes place on the 31st.
  • A Taste of Power: An interesting take on this trope via In Medias Res. Instead of having abilities taken away, the prologue of the first game has you playing as the main party (and Instructor Sara) at around Level 50 during a late chapter of the story, letting you go crazy with their Crafts and S-Crafts until it ends. It then cuts to a level 3 Rean on his first day at Thors, but you know you'll have access to all those abilities later. A similar method is used with the new Class VII in the third game.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Don't underestimate the Thors school faculty. Or the top brass of the military. Or the best Bracers... Basically, if someone has a rank in this game, it's quite likely they earned it.
  • Authority in Name Only: Emma and Machias may be the Class VII President and Vice President, but whenever the class is in a situation where leadership is required, everyone looks to Rean.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Valimar's Spirit Path ability can take people anywhere in the country almost instantaneously, but after it's been used, Valimar is out of commission for the next day or so, making its utility limited. This is used to provide an in-universe explanation for why Rean can't use Valimar in the first half of Cold Steel II outside of a handful of boss battles - Valimar's recovering from the last Spirit Path usage. The second half of the game grants the team an alternative form of long-range transportation in the form of the Courageous, and as such Valimar is on call more often.
    • The Lost Arts are incredibly powerful (And give a 10% experience bonus for every use), but the extremely slow cast time and high EP cost (100% of the caster's max EP, whatever that may be) make them highly impractical outside of boss fights unless you either use Overdrive (instantaneous casting), a Master Quartz that returns a percentage of damage as EP (the offensive Lost Arts do so much damage that it essentially makes the casting free), or a 0 EP random turn bonus (instantaneous casting and no EP cost).
  • Background Music Override:
    • A portion of "Atrocious Raid" plays almost continuously throughout the sequence in Garrelia Fortress in Chapter 5 and doesn't stop until the final boss battle, save if you use one of the orbment charging stations to heal your party, and briefly before the first firing of the railway guns, which reveals that they start off with blanks.
    • In the final dungeon of the first game, the usual enemy battle music is forgone and, instead, "To Grasp Tomorrow" - the dungeon's BGM - continues to play straight up to the dungeon's end.
    • For Cold Steel IV, "Doomsday Trance" plays continuously at the Black Workshop where the three teams have to meet up.
  • Badass Crew: Class VII in general. You have Rean Schwarzer (An Eight Leaves, One Blade style practitioner), Alisa Reinford (Heiress to Zemuria's largest industrial group and quite capable with a bow), Elliot Craig (Whose father leads the Imperial Army's 4th Armored Division), Laura S. Arseid (Daughter of the Radiant Blademaster), Machias Regnitz (Son of Heimdallr's governor), Emma Millstein (A witch from the Hexen Clan), Jusis Albarea (A son of the Albarea family, one of the Four Great Houses), Fie Claussell (A former Jaeger), Gaius Worzel (A spearman from Nord recommended by Zechs Vander), Millium Orion (A member of the Imperial Army's Intelligence Division), Crow Armbrust (Leader of the Imperial Liberation Front) and finally Sara Valestein (A former Jaeger turned Bracer later turned Instructor at Thors).
    • To help deal with a quest that takes place late in Cold Steel III, Rean and Lechter call in the following characters help them out: two A-ranked bracers (Agate Crosner and Sara Valestein), someone from ZCF (Tita Russell), someone from Epstein (Tio Plato), the half-noble prince of Erebonia (Olivert Reise Arnor in his Olivier Lenheim costume), an Ouroboros maid (Sharon Kreuger), two Ironbloods (Claire Rieveldt and Lechter Arundel), and the Ashen Chevalier (Rean Schwarzer), with another member of one of the Four Great Houses as support (Patrick Hyarms). Then partway through, Ash decides to join the group, partly to chat with Lechter.
  • Badass Teacher: Thors is a military academy and most of the faculty are current or ex-military. It comes with the job.
  • Badass Longcoat: Quite a few characters wear one in Trails of Cold Steel II. Some notable examples include Rean, Elliot, Laura (sort of), Jusis, and Sara.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: At the end of Cold Steel II, Osborne comes out on top in the end more powerful than ever having outplayed the Imperial Liberation Front, the Noble Alliance and Ouroboros. He also ends up stringing along an unwilling Rean into his plans thanks to the latter's status as the Ashen Chevalier forcing him to accept. And all he did to achieve that was play dead for two months while events unfolded.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • Rean loses most of his stuff and about 30-60 levels between the first two games. Justified, as between games he ended up fleeing a losing battle and spent a month recovering from severe injuries taken during said battle. This, however, doesn't quite explain why the other characters join the party at about the same level as whatever Rean has at the time, even though they clearly haven't been idling. It also feels very odd that accomplished fighters such as Toval, Sara, etc., would be carrying around the same basic levels as your party. On the flipside, everybody retains their crafts from the original game, including S-Crafts, and they swiftly start gaining new abilities as well. Laura and Emma have even managed to gain new abilities prior to meeting back up the group.
    • In the second game, Valimar can no longer use Spirit without a subcontractor or use Qinggong to buff himself.
    • In the third game, Rean is leading a new team and is using an improved version of the ARCUS called ARCUS II and thus is incompatible with the old orbments that he has. However, Rean relearns Gale very quickly suggesting that he could always use his old crafts but just holds back enough for his students till they get better. Meanwhile for old Class VII, some of them still use their old crafts and improve upon them while also using different S-Crafts, suggesting that they trained really hard that they feel that their old crafts aren't worth using anymore, although their levels all drop to be comparable with the new Class VII's at the time of joining up.
    • By the fourth game, Juna, Kurt, and Altina lose a lot of levels at the start of the game due to them sleeping for two whole weeks (it's implied that old Class VII also lost some levels but they were able to wake up a week earlier and were able to get their old strength back). Juna, Kurt, and Altina also lose their quartz and equipment while escaping the Gral of Erebos plus the ARCUS II units were improved in the meantime so even if they had their old quartz and master quartz, it would have been incompatible anyway. After a week of training however, they mostly get their old strength back. Meanwhile, Ash was in a coma for two weeks while Musse was able to escape the Gral and thus is actually stronger when she comes back to the party. Interestingly enough, Rean's ARCUS II equipment is upgraded despite being captured for two whole weeks in chains and actually has the highest level when he first becomes playable at the Black Workshop at level 90 compared to everyone else who are hovering between 82-87.
  • Bash Brothers: Laura and Fie become this after sorting through their differences.
  • Battle Aura: One way to tell when someone's getting serious is if they put up a visible aura of power.
  • Battle Butler: Celestin, Patrick's servant, fights with martial arts. Sariffa, the Florald family maid, packs two guns with her.
  • Battleship Raid: Happens in Cold Steel IV where Rean, Alisa, Musse, Sara, Angelica (the four ladies are required for the section), and the rest of the members raid the battleship Gargantua, to disable the generator emitting a beam of light protecting one of the shrines that Rean needs to go for the Divine Knight duel while Crow piloting Ordine and the Courageous II distract the battleship from outside.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: In Chapter 6 of the first game, Rean is supposed to meet up with Towa in the computer lab and, when he comes in, he discovers that she has fallen asleep at one of the desks. You can choose to let her sleep or poke her cheeks to wake her up but, either way, Rean ultimately decides to let her sleep until she wakes up on her own. It happens again in Cold Steel II, but this time she wakes up almost right away, and laments that he always seems to find her this way.
  • Be Yourself: Valimar essentially tells Rean this in Cold Steel II, noting that there's little point in him trying to be someone or something that he's not.
  • The Big Bad Shuffle: In the first game, the main villain appears to be the masked terrorist C, aka Crow Armbrust. Then the second game's villains are Crow's benefactors, Vita Clotilde of Ouroboros and Duke Cayenne, leader of the Noble Alliance. Then both Vita and Cayenne get outplayed by Chancellor Gilliath Osborne, who finally becomes the Big Bad in the third game after years of plotting in the background. Finally, the fourth game reveals that behind all of this is Ishmelga, who serves as the True Final Boss of the saga.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rean's efforts to escape the Pantagruel with Princess Alfin falter when his Super Mode runs out while being cornered by Zephyr, Ouroboros and the ILF. Then the Courageous shows up, bearing Class VII, Sara, Toval, Claire, Sharon, Prince Olivert and Viscount Arseid. Olivert is quite thrilled with it all, expressing only that he wished their entrance could have been more dramatic by having an effect of flowing rose petals.
    • With the numerous amounts of this trope happening in both parts, the game might as well have renamed as Big Damn Heroes: The Series. At some points the trope seems to be invoked so often that it appears that the real job of the party is to buy time for an NPC to show up and save the day for them.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Crow gets these sometimes. Also, Machias and Elliot whenever they meet Vita Clotilde and try not to act like the fanboys they are. Millium also gets them on occasion. Patrick as well when trying to get Rean to come to the nobles' salon at the beginning of Chapter 2 in the first game.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending of Cold Steel II. The War is over, both Duke Albarea and Duke Cayenne have been brought to justice, and Elise and the Imperial Family are safe. But Crow is dead, Class VII is no more with its members all going their separate ways and Osborne is more powerful than ever. Cold Steel IVs normal ending has Rean complete the Great One and destroys it for good, saving the world from Erebonia's curse but in the process, he, Millium, and Crow all die as their lives are tied to the Great One.
    • The default bad ending of Cold Steel IV. Good grief. Rean, Crow and Millium sacrifice themselves to rid Erebonia off the curse once and for all. And a very sad song plays over the credits as shots of the entire cast crying are shown. However, everyone else who survived are now free to live their life in a land that is now free of a millenium old curse.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: There's little to like about the Noble Alliance, who base their morality on an inherently discriminatory class system and whose actions include heavily taxing the citizenry for the benefit of the nobles, destabilizing the country in areas where the reformists hold sway, starting a civil war, hiring terrorists, Jaegers, and Ouroboros to help further their schemes, kidnapping the royal family, and razing a town in order to punish them for not resisting the Imperial Army. However, while the Reformists seem to be the better bunch on the surface - particularly given how dedicated they are to equality for all (and the fact that they oppose the Noble Alliance's depredations) - they have plenty of skeletons in their own closet, especially given Chancellor Osborne's tendency to annex neighboring territories by force and intimidation, including Crossbell, Jurai, and a botched attempt to do the same to Liberl as well as his motivations to expand and centralize authority with little heed paid to those who are harmed by such actions.
  • Black Market: The Erebonian Empire has a relationship with its foreign neighbors, particularly Calvard, that can be described as... complex, at best. Naturally it has a black market, and in Cold Steel III you get to meet some of its leaders and even buy some of their merchandise.
  • Blade on a Stick: Gaius' spear is a conventional example while Vandyck's zanbatou is a BFS on a stick. However, Ordine takes the cake with a double-ended glaive-on-a-stick that's probably ten meters long.
  • Boarding School: The students live just off campus in three dormitories. The Nobles get a big fancy one with servants, the Commoners get a rather less fancy one and Class VII has the least fancy of them all, at least at first.
  • Body Backup Drive: Alberich and George were revealed to have prepared one for Millium so she may be brought back to life in the Golden Ending of Cold Steel IV. Conversely, Valimar's sword may also count as one for Millium as her soul spends the end of the third game and almost the whole of the fourth one trapped in the sword.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Cold Steel I ends with Celine forcing Valimar to retreat against Rean's wishes, rather than continue a hopeless fight against a fully powered Divine Knight and a pilot who knows how to use it. The remainder of Class VII engages Ordine from on foot to buy Rean time, despite having no hope of winning. Ordine draws its weapon back to strike and then the game ends...
  • Bonus Dungeon: A variation happens in Cold Steel IV with The Shrine of Sanctus. It can only be unlocked during the final chapter of the game and only if you have completed ALL sidequests and obtained ALL Lost Arts. Toval then calls Rean to explore the shrine that houses Algres' spirit except players are allowed to explore the shrine, get some Active Voice Events and obtain the treasure chests in the area. If players don't unlock the place and finish the game, then players have to backtrack to the entrance of the Tuatha Dé Danann to start the quest and immediately fight the boss without exploring the place. The upside however is that players do get to hear the voice of a person who tell Rean to do the quest, implied to be the Grandmaster.
  • Book-Ends: The first game begins with Class VII arriving in Trista by train. The second game ends with Class VII, sans Rean, heading into Trista station and departing to their disparate destinations, their time as a class now over.
    • The first time Rean and Crow team up is against a giant golem in Cold Steel I. The final time they team up in Cold Steel II is against Vermillion Apocalypse, the fusion between Zoro-Agruga and Testa-Rossa which is even bigger than the Divine Knights.
    • In Cold Steel IV, the third mandatory boss fight for players has Juna finishing off the magic knight by summoning her Drakkhen II. In the third last boss fight of the game (for the normal ending), Rean has to summon Valimar to defeat McBurn's demonic form.
  • Boss Subtitles: Many of the bosses come with these, for example, "Icy Beast Unsurtr" and "Heavily-Armored Soldat Hector." One of the most notable examples is "Enforcer No. 1 - McBurn The Blazing Demon" - notable because it appears only after you have seemingly defeated him in battle, only for him to then "turn up the heat."
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Osborne is trying to break the power of the Four Great Houses on the grounds that their leaders are primarily concerned with maintaining the power and privileges of the aristocracy and disregarding the responsibilities that are supposed to come with them. But on the other side of the equation, the Imperial Liberation Front, who are backed by the Four Great Houses, despise Osborne on the grounds that he doesn't care how many lives are ruined in the pursuit of his goals. Both sides are correct.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • The Medal of Dawn is the reward in Cold Steel I for maxing out your Academic Rank and it's fittingly the best accessory in the game, giving big stat boosts (+100 to STR, DEF, ATS, and ADF) and complete immunity to status conditions, stat debuffs and AT Delay. It's also only possible to earn the necessary Rank after the final dungeon so it's generally only useful if you plan to play New Game Plus with item carryover but not level carryover. It also provides Rean with a lesser but still impressive accessory if you load a save file with that medal (Or rather, the Academic Rank that provides that medal) when starting the second game.
      • The second game averts this, if you manage to track down every Last Lousy Point: if you manage a perfect run of Sidequests and secret conditions up to the Point of No Return in the Finale, you can get the Lion Heart, Cold Steel II's equivalent of the Medal of Dawn just before the chapter's final set of dungeons.
    • Outside of being able to view one extra optional bonding event (If one of the party members bonding is Rean) in the last chapter, the only reward for getting a level five link between any two party members in the first game is an upgraded version of the second link attack. Since it's impossible to get a level five link until shortly before the third (Far more powerful) link attack is gained automatically by story progression (In game 1. In the sequel, Burst is available the moment the party gains a fourth member, which is still well before level 5 links are available), most players won't use the Rush v2 attack very often.
    • In-Universe, the final boss of 2, Loa Luciferia tells Class VII and their supporters that defeating it won't give them any reward. They take it on anyway as a means to show they're True Companions who will rise to the challenge no matter what.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: If you get Sara's dance event in the original Trails of Cold Steel, Rean suggests that she isn't mature. Sara replies that she is mature. And reliable. And reliably mature.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: At the end of the first game, Crow and the Noble Alliance succeed in defeating Class VII and Rean is involuntarily whisked away from the battlefield by Celine and Valimar. He discovers afterwards that the rest of Class VII scattered across the country to evade the Noble Alliance and pursue their own goals. The first segment of the second game is, accordingly, is him working on Putting the Band Back Together.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Millium does this on a handful of occasions, most memorably this gem (which doubles as a Brick Joke):
    Millium: "Now THIS is a final dungeon!"
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Last we checked, ostriches don't have leafy growths on their heads and can't petrify other living creatures with their breaths.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Pretty much every character gets in on this, particularly during their S-Crafts.
  • Call-Back: Cold Steel III starts off the Class VII orientation with Schmidt pulling the lever to drop Rean's class down the pit, much like what they experienced in the first game. It also ends with Juna on top of Kurt, the same way with Rean and Alisa. This time however, Rean warns everyone and gets his balance right away.
  • The Cameo: Pikkard and Noi dolls are on sale in Celdic. A smaller PenPen doll can also be seen in Millium's room, doubling as a callback to both Ao no Kiseki and Zwei II. And that's just the out-of-universe examples. Cold Steel also features an inordinate amount of references to the Gagharv Trilogy, giving more fuel to the theory that the two series might occupy the same world.
  • Can You Hear Me Now?: There's a sidequest that is actually named this in the penultimate chapter. It has the party running around Roer finding places with poor orbal reception. While the quest is successful if you find three dead zones, you get a bonus if you find all five.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The plot relevant cast within the Cold Steel games is already big enough as the Loads and Loads of Characters entry can attest, but there is quite a hefty amount of colorful Non Player Characters as well, some people have little stories of their own in which Rean can get to follow by visiting them after certain Chapters if possible, Thors' students in particular have a greater amount of little backstory tied to them which is handily recorded in Rean’s Student Guide Book, much of their story is unveiled through side-quests, the given and the hidden ones.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: The biggest one happens after everyone saves Rean and Alfin at Pantagruel, only to find out that if the good guys fought against the bad guys, it would just end in a stalemate. Olivert suggests to just forego the fighting and have a party instead with Sharon and Bleublanc, two Ouroboros Enforcers, actually wanting it with Xeno offering the drinks. Duvalie and Altina aren't having any of it though.
  • The Catfish: The Guardian of Trista (in the first game) and the Guardian of Ymir (in the second).
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: At one point Cold Steel II, Rean is talking various bosses during a truce period, and some of them change from casual outfits to their combat outfits between cuts during the conversation. Most obvious with Duvalie, who is wearing a different dress at the end of the conversation than she was at the start of it.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: In the first game, the subjects everyone is cramming for during the special bond events at the beginning of Chapter 3 just so happens to be the subjects you're going to be asked about during the interactive portion of the Midterm Exam. The only way to view all the events in question on a single playthrough is in New Game+ mode with the "Max Bonding Points" perk chosen.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A more literal example than most occurs in the third game, as the Calvard-made gun that Ash picks up in the Chapter 4 dungeon is the same one he uses to shoot the emperor later, setting the events of the final chapter into motion.
    • In Cold Steel IV, the "Earth Cage" gift that Algres gives to Rean ends up saving his life (and inadvertently, Crow and Millium) by separating Ishmelga's curse away from him and traps Ishmelga in the physical realm, allowing the playable characters to finally defeat him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Literally, as the identity of the sniper who shot down the Imperial Liberation Front's ship in Chapter 6 is a major reveal during the Wham Episode at the end of the game. It's Crow, who also turns out to be the person who shot Osborne, as previously foreshadowed in Ao.
    • As of Cold Steel III, George Nome and Franz Reinford are both this, as they are revealed to be part of the gnome faction from the Black Workshop.
  • Chest Monster: It wouldn't be a JRPG without one. If you spot a dark red chest with silver trimmings and ornate markings, yeah, prepare to fight for whatever that's in it. In Cold Steel II, there's another type that can only be fought with certain characters in the party and result in those characters being able to use Overdrive with each other when you win. If the required characters aren't in the party, they produce a pun instead. It was absent in Cold Steel III but the trial chests are back in IV.
  • Chick Magnet: Rean.
  • Civil War: What Olivier and his third way faction were trying to prevent throughout Cold Steel I. They fail.
  • Clark Kenting: In a reversal of the normal application of this trope, Machias conceals his identity as the Imperial Governor's son in II by taking his glasses off. It works with the people he's trying to hide from, but everyone else sees through it in an instant but plays along because they don't like the Provincial Guard either. In III, Rean tries using a pair of fake spectacles on occasion to avoid being publicly recognized as the Ashen Chevalier. It doesn't work.
  • Class Representative: Emma and Machias.
  • Class Trip: What separates Class VII from the rest of the school: every month, they're sent on an educational trip to a different area of the Empire.
  • Cliffhanger: The first game opens up with one where Rean is screaming for the railway guns to stop their firing at Crossbell. Then it turns out in Chapter 5 that the guns were pre-loaded with blank charges to prevent accidents, and Class VII has ten more minutes to get to the guns while they're being reloaded with live ammunition.
    • The first game's ending, which arguably surpasses Trails in the Sky FC's. The ending of Cold Steel III takes it even further as we see Osborne delivering a Neck Lift to Rean in their Divine Knights and the game abruptly fades to black and the music stops right away. Then credits roll.
  • Climax Boss: "True Zoro-Agruga" in Cold Steel III, to the point of having a fight closer to the traditional "final boss fight" than the game's actual Final Boss.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: At Thors, Commoner students wear green uniforms and the Nobles wear white uniforms. Class VII has students from both groups and they all wear red uniforms.
  • Company Town: The Reinford Group owns a lot of the property in Roer as well as the largest stores. Since the town is technically also the seat of the Rogner family, they don't completely control the town but it's very obvious that Reinford dominates the landscape.
  • Compensating for Something: Fie thinks this is the reason Prince Olivert built the Courageous.
  • Concert Climax: The climax of the first game actually occurs in between final preparations for a concert (the one Class VII is putting on) and the concert itself. Of course, this being Cold Steel, it manages a Double Subversion. The subversion: The Concert technically follows the Climax. The subversion of the subversion: There's another 30 minutes left and the real climax is at Osborne's public address a week later.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • As with every other game in the series, these are all over the place, starting from the opening sequence making a nod to concurrent events in Ao plus a Call-Forward to events that will happen shortly afterwards. The calendar system makes it very easy to date events in the previous arc since there are nods to just about every major incident.
    • When entering the Reinford Building, the camera lingers on models of the Lusitania from The 3rd and a limousine of the same model used by Dieter in Zero.
    • When Olivert first appears to introduce himself to Class VII, it's to the fanfare that usually signaled his arrival in the Trails in the Sky games. He's even dressed up in his Olivier outfit before switching to his royal outfit.
    • The game also features a few purely musical examples. When watching maneuvers at Garrelia Fortress, Steel Roar -Verge of Death- plays, a sidequest in Heimdallr requires the player to find a record of Amber Amour and Emma's solo in the concert is the ending theme 'I Swear' from SC. Olivert is the first one to sing along. Makes sense as he's from that game.
  • Cool Airship: Olivier managed to convince the ZCF and the Epstein Foundation to help him build a second Arseille, which he then customized extensively. Dubbed the Courageous, it isn't as fast as the original model but it's larger, more heavily armed and armored and is still faster than anything else Erebonia has. It's Class VII's transport, eventually.
    • Also, the Pantagruel, which is the flagship of the Noble Faction. It's built on the exact same scale of the Glorious and has similar design.
    • In Cold Steel IV, the Courageous II is a better version of the previous ship as it's finally decked out with some of the best equipment which includes a main laser gun, homing lasers, and missile pods.
  • Cooldown Hug: Elise gives one to Rean in the second game after he goes berserk seeing the damage the jaegers hired by Duke Albarea did to Ymir and believing that their parents were killed.
  • Cool Old Guy: Headmaster Vandyck (two meters tall, wields a BFS) and Klaus (not even winded from fighting at four to one odds and able to diagnose problems with Rean's swordsmanship while doing it). Alisa's grandfather is also pretty cool, though not in a Badass way.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: In the original Cold Steel, if you have Rean totally bomb the exam in Chapter 3, Alisa will comment, "I was expecting a little better performance from a certain someone, though... *cough*Rean*cough*"
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable:
    • If you choose to do a study session with Crow in Chapter 3, he teaches Rean about CPR, and then suggests that CPR on a pretty girl is a gateway to "fireworks."
    Rean: Every time I think anything positive about you, you go and say something like that...
    • Later, at the start of Chapter 4, Instructor Sara talks with the class about CPR. She jokingly suggests that Rean and Alisa give the class a demonstration, then says that everyone there needs to know how to do CPR... whether it means locking lips with someone of the same sex or the opposite. This is accompanied by a heart emoticon.
  • Crapsack World: Erebonia has been presented as something like this since the first game. As with Crossbell, it's not quite as bad as it was made out to be (in both cases, our prior exposure has been through parties with reasons to accentuate the negative) but it's definitely one of the most troubled realms on the continent. For example:
    • The country still possesses a feudal power structure which is only slowly granting more power to the Commoners... and the person behind those changes is Osborne. And by "still", we mean that it's pretty clear that Erebonia is the only true autocratic monarchy left on Zemuria, with it being ringed by states that are more or less democratic, and all of them, including fellow major power Calvard, distrust Erebonia due to its autocratic nature.
    • Relatedly, tensions between the social classes have been simmering for years, decades really, and are just waiting for a spark to turn things into a very nasty civil war.
    • Lingering disputes with Calvard over the disposition of Crossbell, resentment from recently annexed territories (and relatedly, the underlying sting of having been humiliated on the field of battle by tiny, independent Liberl) and a new terrorist movement are only making things worse.
    • To cap things off, Ouroboros isn't just working behind the scenes, they're supporting both sides.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Alisa and Rean meet in the first game when Rean pauses in the middle of the street to take in the sights of Trista and Alisa walks into him.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The closing credits of Cold Steel II present a series of photographs giving hints into what the members of Class VII and certain other key characters are up to following the events of the game.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The fights against Sara and Victor will end with your character(s) defeated, at best you might annoy them slightly. Of course, one is your combat instructor (Who according to the Battle Notes is level 49 at a time when the party is roughly level 15) and the other is the best swordsman in the Empire (Level 80 when the party is roughly level 50) so the result was something of a foregone conclusion. The fight against <C> (Level 60 when the party is roughly level 40) in Heimdallr's catacombs will end after a few turns, though if it continued it would have become this.
    • Turned around at Legram when you have a match against the students, who don't even get the dignity of an actual battle before they're shown to be defeated by Class VII. Then Class VII has to fight their teacher, who puts up an actual fight.
    • The Panzer Soldats utterly and completely wreck the First Armored Division (the Imperial Guards no less), destroying even the most advanced of tanks with a single blow each.
    • Crow inflicts one of these on Rean while both are operating their respective Divine Knights, with Crow pointing out that he's had three years to learn how to pilot his machine while Rean has only had a few minutes.
    • If you carry over your levels and equipment on New Game Plus, you can easily devastate Sara, even in Nightmare mode, by flashing her with Rean, Machias and Jusis's S-Breaks before she can even get a turn. So the game cheats by making it so that you can only reduce her HP to 1 and then she flashes your party with own S-Break for 49,999 damage each to annihilate them. If any of them had any sort of guard status up to protect against it, she'll just do it again.
    • Similarly, you can have Rean hold his own against Victor for a while if you keep healing, but eventually he will hit him for 49,999 damage and it's over.
    • At the end of the first Act of Cold Steel II, all of the most major players of allied forces of the Noble Alliance descend upon Ymir. Obviously things do not go well for our intrepid heroes. It ends with Rean agreeing to come the Noble Alliance's flagship airship for a meeting with the Noble Alliance's leader, Duke Cayenne.
    • In the epilogue of Cold Steel II, the boys and girls compete in five swimming matches, but Laura and Fie are always sent out for the last four matches, resulting in the girls winning easily. Though the competition becomes a Curb Stomp Cushion if Rean manages to win the first match.
  • Curse: In Cold Steel III, this is the reason why so many terrible things have happened throughout Erebonia as Joshua's, Loewe's, Claire's, Lechter's, Olivier/Olivert's, Rean's, Osborne's and Ash's Dark And Troubled Pasts have shown.
  • Curse Cut Short: Rean's response to Rex's Go Look at the Distraction trick, when he catches himself and stops short of the final word.
    Rean: Sonofa...
  • Custom Uniform/Non-Uniform Uniform: Sort of. As noted, Class VII gets red uniforms that set them apart from the other students... except that these are basically just red-colored jackets or vests, and the actual design is pretty much the same as the standard Thors uniform. Everyone's outfit from the waist down is unique - while the girls all wear pleated skirts and the boys dark slacks, the color pattern on the skirts varies, as does the styling on the trousers. Footgear tends to be distinct from student to student as well.
    • Angelica also has a "custom uniform" in the sense that she doesn't actually bother wearing her Thors attire, instead going around in her biking suit. Nobody really complains because she's the daughter of one of the most powerful families in Erebonia.
    • George is another person who never wears his uniform, instead wearing a yellow jumpsuit that is far more practical when tinkering with orbal equipment. Since he appears to be the only orbal repairman in all of Trista, this may be justified. Similarly, in III, Tita always wears her work outfit rather than her school uniform.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The battle interface in Cold Steel III is totally different from the one used in every preceding game, in this arc and before, with every button being a distinct command rather than rotating through a wheel to find the command desired. In normal turn base mode this doesn't matter much, but the fact that the S-Break command (which is semi-real time) has been moved from the triangle button (which is now "Use Crafts when it is your turn") to the RB button (which used to be "Swap out party members when it is your turn") is likely to cause a few slip-ups.
  • Darker and Edgier: Cold Steel III is this compared to most of the previous series. While they had some dark moments as well, the mood is usually upbeat compared to Cold Steel III and its depressing ending. And Cold Steel IV is much darker.
  • Darkest Hour: There are usually one of these moments per game.
    • The first one ends with the assassination of Giliath Osborne by the terrorist C, who happens to be Crow, one of Class VII's members. The Noble Alliance take the opportunity by not only reveal their flagship, the Pantagruel, but also reveal their own mechs, the Panzer Soldats, who make mincemeat of the Imperial Army's tanks. When Trista is attacked by a few of these mechs, Class VII is only saved by Rean forging a contract with the Ashen Knight. Despite this, Crow shows up and reveal he has his own Divine Knight and casually slaps aside Rean who is only saved by his friends intervention while he is forced to leave them to theirs fates.
    • The third game ends with the emperor being shot by a curse-manipulated Ash who is framed by the government as a Calvardian spy. Afterwards, as Rean and both Class VII try to prevent Osborne and Ouroboros from unleashing the curse upon the land, the Courageous is blowed with Olivert, Victor and Toval still inside and Millium dies saving Rean from the corrupted holy beast holding the curse. Rean subsequent grief lead to him losing control of his ogre powers and slaying the beast unleashing the curse upon Erebonia and leaving its citizens craving for Calvard's destruction.
    • Finally during the Act 2 of the last game,the Pantagruel is ambushed by the Glorious and various members of Jormungand during negotiations about the Mille Mirage. As Ouroboros brings its 3 Aions alongside Zector and Testa-Rossa, the situation is dire enough for Musse and Aurelia to initiate their final plan which is to allow the most of people to escape, entrust the movement to Cassius and ram the Pantagruel into the Glorious destroying them both. They are thankfully prevented from doing this by the Courageous II's intervention led by Olivert.
  • Darth Vader Clone: <C>, the leader of the Imperial Liberation Front. Dressed in all black and complete with distorted voice via his mask.
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: When she moves to Leeves, Jingo decides to bring along an assistant - specifically the guard dog "Cerberus". Cerberus is, in fact, an adorable puppy with a cheery disposition.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: All bosses get this, and in the sequel Giant Mooks get this treatment as well.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Done twice. Millium first becomes playable after you defeat her in a fight and in the previous school year, Angelica essentially punched Crow into becoming her friend.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Narses (a minor noble who appears towards the end of Cold Steel II as part of the fishing sidequest) has these and uses "words" such as "impudential," "stylacefully" and "idiosynculiar."
  • Demoted to Extra: All of Class VII, save for Rean, are no longer on the cover for Cold Steel III. They're instead replaced by the new students of the new academy led by Rean.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: Everyone in the party is disappointed when Duke Cayenne reveals his real motives at the end of the sequel. His ancestor was the "False Emperor" dethroned by Dreichels in the War of the Lions, whose family now rules. Cayenne started a civil war just to settle a petty family feud that no one else except him cares about anymore.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: If you choose the nighttime bonding event with Emma in chapter 3, Rean spends some time studying with her. However, he doesn't get much done because he finds himself distracted by her... large breasts. He finally shakes himself out of it, makes an excuse, and they go back to studying.
    "However, because he suddenly found his mind...otherwise occupied, he wasn't able to retain much of what he learned."
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Your friendly upperclassman and honorary Class VII member Crow is <C>, the terrorist leader responsible for most of the events of Cold Steel. The popular radio idol Misty and the glamorous opera singer Vita are the same person and she's the mastermind who is pulling Crow's strings.
    • The third game then goes ahead and reveals that your helpful orbal mechanic George is a gnome who has been working with the Black Workshop since the very beginning, and his boss turns out to be...Alisa's supposedly-dead father, who has been a close supporter of Osborne for 20 years.
  • Domestic Appliance Disaster: Orbal appliances are still new technology to most people in Erebonia, and certainly to Laura, who grew up in the remote Legram. During a bonding event in Cold Steel II, she and Rean explore a store full of these appliances in Roer, but she gets a little too hands-on and ends up seemingly breaking an orbal washing machine and causing near-disaster with other appliances. Fortunately, the damage isn't as bad as it seems, and the owner is willing to be forgiving since they're classmates of Alisa, who is well-regarded in the town.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: The party has made their way through Lohengrin Castle, encountering many strange barriers and orbs and finally finding themselves in a room at the top with a large orb that Emma is sure is the source of the mysterious force that's trapped them in the castle and is generated the monsters and such. Seeing it, Millium summons her large combat mechanism, Airgetlam, to smash it, even though the others warn her not to and they don't know what could happen. Sure enough, when Airgetlam tries to smash it, it's blocked by a barrier and ends up toppling on top of Millium. It's the same sort of barrier that went up when she had tried to smash the main door open, and only after this happens does she remember what happened before. And then the boss monster appears...
  • Door of Doom: The enormous door found at the beginning of the fourth level of the old school building, with a strange red design engraved on it and no obvious means of opening it. It's later revealed to contain a 'test' in the form of an enormous suit of Animated Armor with a really big sword. There's an even bigger door on the hidden seventh level and a still-bigger door beyond that which serves as the final trial, before it opens up to reveal Valimar.
    • Another identical door is found in Lohengrin Castle. It's later revealed revealed that much like the Old Schoolhouse, Lohengrin Castle also housed a Divine Knight of its own.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect:
    • Defeat bosses too quickly and you'll miss out on their monster notebook entries, so if you're going for the Trophy for maxing it out, you need to stall a few fights (or make sure to fight them with a good supply of Battle Scope or a party member who has an analyze art or craft).
    • Landing a critical on an enemy automatically triggers a link attack, which is helpful for building your Bravery points to unleash either Rush or Burst. However, if the critical defeats the enemy (or all enemies for a multi-skill), then this won't activate.
  • Downer Beginning: The second game, as it picks up where the first one's Cliffhanger left off. The prologue is even titled "The Depths of Despair".
    • If the teaser is anything to come by, we can expect this for Cold Steel IV.
  • Downer Ending: Oh boy, the ending of Cold Steel III might be one of the darkest Trails endings ever, if not the darkest, even beating Cold Steel I's ending. It ends with the Courageous exploding with Olivert, Victor, and Toval inside it as shown in the animated opening, Millium dying and forging the Sword of Demise made from her soul, Rean giving in to his Superpowered Evil Side and kills the corrupted Divine Beast in his rage, only for its death to engulf all of Erebonia in darkness and cursed with Osborne bringing out his Divine Knight and delivering a Neck Lift to Rean who he snapped out of of his rage easily. And then there's this text that appears at the end of the game.
  • "Down Here!" Shot: After the prologue of Cold Steel III, Rean arrives in Leeves, where he's to become a new instructor at the Thors Branch Campus. After standing around for a bit, taking and thinking over the sights, he hears a familiar female voice saying his name, but can't place where it's coming from. The camera tilts left and right to show him looking in both directions before panning down to show Towa. This is one of many times the series makes fun of her petite stature.
  • Dracolich: Zoro-Agruga, important enough to make it into the opening movie and game trailers.
  • Dream Team: The guest star party members only team in Cold Steel III ends up becoming this as it has all of the characters from all 3 sagas banding together to capture one Calvard Jaeger hiding at the Heimdallr Catacombs.
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: When trying to track down non-Class VII members of Thors Academy in the second half of Cold Steel II, the player is aided by the fact that despite a month having passed since Thors fell and the common-born students all being hunted by the rebels, they are all still wearing their school uniforms, even if they're currently living in rebel-held territory.
  • Driven to Suicide: A suicide in the past is responsible for Machias' hatred of Nobles and his father starting to work for Osborne.
  • Dropping the Bombshell: Sharon revealing that Alisa is a member of the Reinford household during the first game.
  • Dual Wielding: At least four of the playable characters dual wield. First is Fie who wields two blade guns as her main weapons. Another is Crow who wields dual pistols which carries on into his Azure Siegfried persona in Cold Steel III.
    • From Cold Steel III are the new playable characters Juna and Kurt. The former dual wields tonfas much like her senpai Lloyd while the latter dual wields two swords instead.
  • Dwindling Party: Happens over the course of the final chapter in Cold Steel III, after gaining all of Class VII, new and old for the final dungeon of Chapter 4. First Ash, Millium, and Altina leave before it's even begun (Ash because he's comatose, and Millium and Altina because Osborne recalled them back as part of the Intelligence Division). Then every floor in the final dungeon has to you leave 3 people behind, first Laura, Emma and Gaius against Arianrhod the Steel Maiden and McBurn the Blazing Demon, Alisa, Fie, and Sara against Rutger Claussell, Sharon, Shirley, and Azure Siegfried, and Elliot, Machias, and Jusis against the Ironbloods, until only Rean, Juna, Kurt, and Musse are left for the first part of the final boss, then the latter 3 get their Soldats disabled, leaving Rean alone to finish it off.
    • Actually happens to Ouroboros by the end of Cold Steel IV. Their ranks are whittled down heavily after Arianrhod is killed, Sharon, Vita and the Stahlritter defect to the heroes, and numerous members like Renne, Loewe, and McBurn straight up desert. By the end of Cold Steel IV, the only active Ouroboros members that are in Erebonia during the Cold Steel arc are Campanella, Mariabell, Shirley, and the newly recruited Cedric. However, the Grandmaster isn't concerned since this doesn't affect her overall plans.
  • Due to the Dead: When Class VII runs into Duvalie and Shirley in the ruins of Hamel in III, the two Ouroboros agents are paying their respects at the grave of Joshua's sister Karin Astray. They then postpone the inevitable fight until after Class VII has also paid their respects, and move the duel to the outskirts of the ruins so that the grave won't be damaged.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Class VII doesn't have it as bad as the Trails in the Sky cast, but they definitely have some issues. Amongst their number are Rean, who suffers from a lack of self-confidence, has a lot of issues regarding the fact that he's adopted, and he has a Superpowered Evil Side that he cannot fully control; Alisa, the heiress to the Reinford family whose family broke up after the untimely death of her father and who is trying fruitlessly to distance herself from her workaholic mother; Machias, the son of the Imperial governor whose bitter hatred of nobles came from the fact that some of them drove his cousin - an older sister figure to him - to suicide over her relationship with one of their own; Emma, a Hexen clan witch whose job is to guide Rean from behind the scenes and who has to hide her true nature (at least initially) from her friends; Jusis, bastard son of one of the Four Great Houses, who is basically neglected and scorned by his father; and Fie, an ex-Jaeger whose earliest memories are wandering a battlefield alone and whose surrogate family effectively disbanded after the death of their leader. And that's not even touching on Crow and the baggage he eventually brings to the table.
    • The remaining three get off fairly lightly. Elliot has a dispute going on with his father over his future career (Elliot wants to be a musician like his mother, while his father the general wants his only son to follow in his footsteps), while Laura and Gaius have no major hangups.
    • The new Class VII also have their issues. Juna is from a recently annexed province and hates the Empire for stealing her homeland's autonomy. Kurt was raised with the expectation that he'd be serving as a royal bodyguard when he grew up just like every other Vander for the past 250+ years, only to have his family duty be suddenly taken away for reasons of politics, leaving him without a purpose. Altina has no real knowledge of emotions or what to do with herself outside of mission objectives. And Ash is a survivor of Hamel. And Musse is entangled in the politics of a family that lost its head in the Civil War.

    E - H 
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Most of Class VII appears in the background of the game's earliest cutscenes, well before the player learns that they're Rean's future party-mates. You can see a few of them onboard the train Rean is riding and in the Trista train station.
  • Early Game Hell: In the Cold Steel games, if players pick the Nightmare difficulty for their first playthrough, then players have a rough start due to limited resources and lack of powerful equipment, quartz, and Master Quartz available with boss stats inflated throughout the game. As the game progresses on however, more powerful resources are available to the player which then makes the game a lot easier than it was at the beginning of the game.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: At the end of the Golden Ending of IV, after years of struggles and heartbreaks, Rean and his friends end their story on a hopeful note. Rean finds a way to separate Ishmelga, the source of Erebonia's troubles, from Valimar, allowing him to safely destroy it for good without killing himself, makes his peace with his father Osborne, who passes on content that their beloved homeland is finally free of its accursed fate, and gets to bring back Crow and Millium to life through, respectively, the sacrifice of the Divine Knights and a backup body prepared by Franz (who also dies freed of Ishmelga's influence as Black Alberich, also making his peace with Alisa). In addition, Erebonia makes peace with both Liberl and Crossbell, as shown with most of the heroes from all three nations attending the wedding of Olivert and Schera, a symbolic step towards bridging the class divides which for generations tore Erebonia apart from within. Of course, there are still a few loose ends, such as Cedric joining Ouroboros and escaping with Shirley following the latest setback to the Phantasmal Blaze Plan, and McBurn hinting he has some unfinished business to take care of, as well as Erebonia's relations with the Calvard Republic remaining a little shaky (thus setting the scene for the next story arc in the franchise), but as far as Class VII is concerned, such loose ends would have to wait for another day.
  • Elaborate University High: Thors Military Academy. The elaborate angle probably can be explained by the fact that Zemuria doesn't really have higher education so Thors and similar schools are as advanced as it gets.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Loa Erebonius, the Ashen Power. It's an enormous, misshapen but vaguely humanoid clawed and winged monstrosity with parts of its body flickering in and out of existence. It's also described as being only a fragment of a greater power. In II, it's topped by Loa Luciferia who tells the party that killing him would mean nothing to Class VII. Finally in Cold Steel IV, Ishmelga-Loge tops all of the other series abominations as it is a gigantic monster of epic proportions, requiring three eight-man teams to actually defeat.
  • Eldritch Location: The ruins beneath the old schoolhouse change form as you progress through them. Quite a lot of the decorative elements seen in the ruins resemble designs from Phantasma. The entire structure appears to have been created to test anyone who would seek to awaken Valimar and there is an Eldritch Abomination lurking in the lowest level. In 'Cold Steel II, the entire interior at the end of the game transforms into the Reverie Corridor.
  • Elemental Powers: Because of the way Orbments work, all characters have two Slots restricted to one of the seven types of Quartz (and for the first time, a Slot restricted to a second element), giving them a natural inclination towards one element or another. Despite this, actual specialization is still largely a matter of player choice.
    • Earth Element: Machias, Towa, Lloyd, Estelle, George, Leonidas (Primary), Gaius, Millium, Juna, and Agate (Secondary)
    • Water Element: Laura, Musse, Elise, Claire, Vita, Tio, Ennea, Victor (Primary), Elliot, Crow, Kurt, Towa, Roselia, Leonidas, and Vita (Secondary)
    • Fire Element: Alisa, Ash, Alfin, Agate, Lechter, Randy, Roselia, Ines (Primary), Rean, Laura, Emma, Sara, Lloyd, and Tita (Secondary)
    • Wind Element: Gaius, Sara, Kurt, Toval, Elie (Primary), Jusis, Fie, Rixia, Joshua, Xeno, Ines, and Victor (Secondary)
    • Time Element: Rean, Crow, Fie, Sharon, Joshua, Duvalie (Primary), Angelica, Elise, Altina, Lechter, Randy, and George (Secondary)
    • Space Element: Elliot, Jusis, Angelica, Juna, Tita and Aurelia(Primary), Alisa, Musse, Claire, Toval, Olivert, Estelle, Renne, Elie, and Duvalie (Secondary)
    • Mirage Element: Emma, Millium, Rixia, Altina, Olivert, Renne, Xeno, Vita (Primary), Machias, Ash, Alfin, Sharon, Vita, Tio, Aurelia, and Ennea (Secondary)
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: In the True Ending route of Cold Steel IV, everyone who was playable for the five Salt Pale dungeons returns for the True Final Boss fight.
  • Enemy Civil War: While it doesn't come to open battle, various members of the rebel army spend a lot of time jockeying for relative position in their organization even while they're busy waging war against the empire.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Rean gets Machias and Jusis to agree to a truce by framing their field exam as a competition with the other half of Class VII, and telling them that their squabbling is the reason Group B performed so poorly last time.
    • Sharon is Enforcer IX of Ouroboros. She teams up with the faculty to fight off the Panzer Soldats sent by the Noble Faction, even though her organization is behind the Nobles and their ultimate goals coincide right now because even if she is an Enforcer, she's also Alisa's Ninja Maid and wants to keep her safe. Whether this cooperation will last once all the stops are pulled out on the Phantasmal Blaze plan is another matter... Spoiler Alert: It doesn't. It REALLY doesn't.
    • In Cold Steel II, the party learns that the Noble Alliance teamed up with the Calvard Republic to take over the watchtower in the Nord Highlands, even though Erebonia and the Republic are notorious for being mortal enemies.
    • When Duke Cayenne forces Prince Cedric to Awaken the Vermillion Knight (which promptly goes out of control), Vita and Crow help Class VII take it down.
  • Engagement Challenge: Inverted - one of the optional sidequests in the epilogue of Cold Steel II is to help a lady with a break the engagement challenge.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • When jaegers sent by the rebels to capture Princess Alfin set half of Ymir on fire and start harming civilians, the Azure Abyss apologizes for their conduct, hypnotizes them into going back to base with a report that there's nothing interesting there... and then kidnaps the princess herself using less destructive methods.
    • When Duke Albarea razes Celdic, the rest of the rebels wash their hands of him and tell Class VII that they won't intervene if they try taking him down. Duvalie meanwhile really wanted to gut Duke Albarea right there and then if it wasn't for the fact that she was ordered to be a witness to the fall of Aurochs Fort.
    • When visiting a gravesite in a certain burned-out husk of a town, the old Class VII sees two Enforcers from Ouroboros also paying their respects. It says something that two people who thought nothing of attacking students, some of whom had never seen combat, would know better than to make war in a place already ravaged by it.
    • When even the most Ax-Crazy members of Ouroboros think that blowing up the Courageous from the sky is such in poor taste, fans would know that things really went south.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: The Prologue of Cold Steel (after the flash-forward) is all about how the members of Class VII arrive at Thors on the first day of school and meet one another. This being Thors, their meeting involves literally being dropped into a dungeon and having to cooperate to make it out.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Despite it almost becoming expected, it never seems to fail to surprise the students of Class VII to learn that yet another respected and admired adult they meet attended Thors. Even the current Emperor of Erebonia himself, Eugent III, went to Thors as a young man where he reveals that it's part of tradition for men of the Arnor family to do so.
  • Evil Counterpart: All of the "Makoukihei" in Cold Steel IV are meant to be counterparts to the existing Panzer Soldat types:
    • Zolge to Drakken, being the most basic model used as the resident Mook machine.
    • Merkia to Spiegel, being an improved version of the Mook machine used primarily by commanders and aces. In a bit of an inversion, "Shining Edge," the union attack used by Spiegel piloted by Patrick, can be seen as the good counterpart to "Fear Strike," the Merkia's finishing move, as the latter appears first.
    • Mordred to Kestrel, being the model with the thinnest armor and greatest mobility. Compared to the previous models, the resemblance is even easier to see; it even uses a rifle that uses the same animation as Musse's orbal carbine, complete with her union attack, "Resonance Shot" being used as the finshing move.
    • Hannibal to Hector, being the slowest model with improved armor and power. And just like before, the resemblance is very uncanny, as it uses a poled-hammer that uses the same animation as Ash's Varia-Axe and Randy's Stun Halberd, complete with their union attack, "Riot Combo," as its finishing move.
    • Leviathan to Goliath, as the largest and most opposing model. Notably, in contrast to all the other models, the 2 are noted to look nothing alike, despite essentially fufilling the same purpose.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Chancellor Osborne vs the Imperial Liberation Front. Osborne is every bit the tyrant they claim he is, but they're willing to obliterate Crossbell just to kill him. Likewise, the Noble faction that the ILF supports aren't above imposing impossibly high taxes and creating hell for citizens under their reign.
  • Evolving Credits
    • In the original Cold Steel, when you first start up the game, it's just Rean and Alisa riding on the train, with more people added on once you go on the field studies. By Chapter 3, the train is now filled with everyone from Class VII until Chapter 5 where Crow and Millium join up and thus are added as well. In chapter 4, they all take their class jackets off because it's summer, which they put back on when summer is over in chapter 6. If you save the game and then reload in the brief period of time in the final chapter between clearing the old schoolhouse and performing the concert, the party will be shown wearing their concert outfits. The view through the windows of the train is the location that Rean's team is currently exploring in the current chapter's field exam. After Crow betrays the party near the end of the game, he disappears from the train.
    • This returns for Cold Steel II with Rean first alone in a snowy field, then with classmates/supporting adults on a balcony and Ymir, then eventually the wide group of classmates and supporters gathered in and around the footbath in Ymir. Later, when Rean is forced aboard the Alliance's flagship airship, the scene depicts Valimar and Ordine on the airship's deck. After that, the opener shifts to the party on the deck of the Courageous. From there, the view of the clouds from the deck varies depending on the time of the day of the story, generally either a blue sky or sunset clouds. During the segment after the party retakes Trista, however, it's a night sky. Then, following that, it's snowing. And when the party enters the final dungeon, Valimar is shown stationed outside it. Then, when you begin the Divertissement section, it shows Lloyd and Rixia from the center down standing outside a certain gate. Finally, following this segment, Class VII is gathered atop the rooftop of Thors on a sunny day. Finishing the game updates this version where everyone is viewed from the front instead of from behind. In it, Crow's silhouette is also featured briefly before fading.
    • This is played with in Cold Steel III with the images replaced with stills of various party members who happen to be relevant to the current part of the story being played through but played straight again in Cold Steel IV. When the game is first booted up, it features Rean all chained up with his eyes closed. When the game stars Juna in Act 1, it features Juna, Kurt, and Altina, and then Ash and finally Musse join in. During the Fragment Intermission, it features Rean's image all chained up again but this time his eyes are open and the image is zoomed in. After which, it then features old Class VII starting with Rean with Valimar and Crow with Ordine. During the Pantagruel sequence, it changes to Estelle, Lloyd, and Rean with their S-Craft portraits. In the Finale, it has all of new Class VII and Crow on the right side while all of old Class VII are on the left side with Rean in the middle, drawing his tachi. If players get the Golden Ending, the music changes to a happier melody and a photo image of the final image of the game.
  • Exact Words: When blatantly noble-hating Machias asks his classmates what their social rank is, Rean says that "there isn't a drop of noble blood in my veins". This is technically true, but glosses over the fact that while Rean is common-born, he's also the adopted son of a Baron, making him low-end nobility despite his lack of pedigree. Also, once Machias learns the full truth, he treats it essentially as if Rean had flat-out lied.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: In Cold Steel III, after Rean plays his first opponent at Vantage Masters, a young boy named Zach, he recognizes him as the Ashen Chevalier. Zach then says that he isn't what he expected and his companion Tom comments that he was picturing someone muscular and 3 arges tall.
  • Experienced Protagonist: By Cold Steel IV, Estelle, Lloyd, and Rean are very experienced in the way the series works that barely anything the enemy does fazes them, plus they know how to deal with the stuff thrown at them.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    • Claire is thinking aloud about motives of the terrorists who attacked Reinford's factory, then suddenly realizes that the provincial soldiers haven't arrived, then has this reaction when she concludes that the incident at the factory must have been a distraction. Five seconds later, she's proven correct.
    • At the end of the second game, Vita begins explaining about Ouroboros's ultimate objectives. When she arrives at the point in the conversation where she talks about how Crow helped her advance her plans, she (and the rest of the party) has a sudden realization that Crow has not yet disembarked Ordine. The conversation then comes to an abrupt halt as everyone realizes that Crow is far more seriously wounded than he had initially let on.
  • Exposed to the Elements: In Cold Steel II, all the girls in Class VII are wearing outfits that stop above the knees, in a game that takes place during December, and includes multiple visits to a town in the snow-covered mountains, and none of them complain about the cold. Laura and Emma are at least wearing open coats that go down to mid-calf over their skirts, but none of the others have anything below the bottom of their skirts/shorts other than their footgear. Fie is the worst example, wearing an open jacket, a midriff-baring top, and low-hanging short shorts. Rean and Gaius actually have a conversation about it if you view one of their bonding events. He says that he's used to dealing with the cold.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Compared to the first game where it covers six months, most of the second game covers only about a month and a few days. It then has a Time Skip three months later at March where the Epilogue Chapter takes place.
    • Cold Steel III's final chapter all happens in one day compared to the rest of the chapters.
    • Cold Steel IV's entire plot only happens for an entire month between August 1 to September 1. And the start of new Class VII's adventure starts on August 7, a week after new Class VII wakes up which means that Cold Steel IV's on-screen story happens for only three weeks; the shortest story telling in the series.
  • The Faceless: In the flashbacks in Cold Steel II and beyond, Dreichels' face is never shown onscreen but players and the cast who see it figure out that it's Dreichels The Lionheart. This is a plot point in Cold Steel IV as Osborne is the reincarnation of Dreichels and it's implied that Dreichels is the spitting image of Osborne, complete with his voice.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Downplayed - no one can tell the twins Linde and Vivi apart when one of them (usually Vivi) does her hair up like the other's typical style. However, there is a notable difference between the two - Linde has darker, brownish eyes, while Vivi's are bright yellow.
  • Failure Gambit: Overlapping with Let No Crisis Go to Waste. In the first Chapter of the third game, the Imperial Army is tied down and all but forbidden to take action in the Sutherland province(which happens to hold one of the largest Imperial Army bases) despite there being several aggressive monsters, rogue Archaisms, and active members of Ouroboros running rampant in the area, leaving the understaffed Provincial Army to handle it. Rean surmises that this is so the Provincial Army can try their hand and fail, allowing Osborne to further discredit the Provincial Armies and nobility while keeping his own hands clean.
    • The same thing occurs in Ordis mixed with Xanatos Gambit when the Railway Guns are stolen and open fire on the city: If the nobles fail, they lose some of their already dwindling power and one of their major powerbases. If they succeed, they still get rid of a major thorn in their side.
  • False Flag Operation: The Imperial Liberation Front pulls one of these by simultaneously attacking bases in Calvard and Erebonia in an attempt to start a war between the two powers while making it look like the other side was involved.
  • False Reassurance: During orientation, it becomes clear that Machias hates Nobles. When circumstances lead him to team up with Rean, Elliot and Gaius, he asks them if they're Commoners like himself. The latter two are. Not wanting to antagonize Machias, Rean claims that "I'm like them, I don't have a drop of noble blood in me". This is technically true but conveniently avoids having to answer the actual question, which would require explaining that he is the adopted son of Baron Schwarzer of Ymir.
    • Machias doesn't notice the dodge but Elliot does, though he doesn't say anything about it. Rean at least feels bad about the lie and it does come back to bite him later.
  • Faking the Dead
    • You didn't really think the Imperial Liberation Front would be defeated that anti-climactically, did you? Of course not, but making everyone in-universe think that they were dead was all part of The Plan.
    • Towards the end of Cold Steel II, you learn that the Imperial Liberation Front's nemesis, Chancellor Osborne, pulled the same stunt, having actually survived after Crow apparently shot him in the heart.
    • And of course, Alisa's dad, Black Alberich, turns out to be alive and well in Cold Steel III.
  • Famous Last Words: In Cold Steel III alone, we have:
    "I'm sorry, Schera." - Olivert
    "My bad, Ein." - Toval
    "Goddess, please watch over my daughter." - Victor
    "I'm glad I managed to protect you." - Millium
  • Fetch Quest: It wouldn't be a Kiseki game without lots of these, this time given to you as homework.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: In the epilogue of the second game, it's revealed that all of Class VII - save for Rean - have decided to go their separate ways and will not be returning to Thors for their second year. Alisa, Jusis, and Laura are following in their parents' footsteps, Elliot and Machias are transferring to different schools in Heimdallr, Gaius and Emma are returning to their home territories, Fie is headed off to find the remnants of Zephyr, and Millium and Sara are returning to their previous occupations. You get to play through their final days together as a class and go on one final adventure together. Upon completing the Bonus Dungeon, they declare Class VII officially disbanded. It's every bit the Tearjerker it sounds like.
  • Field of Blades: The boss fight for Loa Erebonius and Loa Luciferia in Cold Steel I and Cold Steel II respectively take place in a desolate scenery filled with a lot of swords. Cold Steel IV reveals that the swords represent a graveyard from all of the fallen Awakeners and their Divine Knights.
  • Fighting Your Friend: The once-a-month class tests start off as battles against robots but quickly turn into practice duels between members of Class VII.
    • Also happens in Cold Steel II when Rean is trying to convince Jusis that he doesn't have to shoulder the pain and guilt of Duke Albarea hiring jaegers to attack Ymir alone.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: In Cold Steel III, Rean tells Altina that she has to figure out what school club to join for herself after she asks him to simply assign her one, or else it won't mean anything. Later, if you do her bonding event, he relents somewhat by helping her to do some of the legwork, but tells her that the final decision still has to be hers.
  • Final Boss: Cold Steel I actually has two that can qualify. "Loa Erebonius" is fought at the end of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and is effectively the last time you can use the regular combat system. However, after all is said and done the real final boss of the game is "Ordine, the Azure Knight."
    • In a similar fashion, Cold Steel II has "Vermillion Apocalypse"note  for the main story, and "Loa Luciferia" for the Epilogue.
    • Cold Steel III has the "Nameless One."
    • Finally, for ''Cold Steel IV, "Ishmelga, the Black Knight," is this for the Normal Ending, whilst the True Ending continues on to the True Final Boss, "Ishmelga-Loge."
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Laura and Fie, as well as Jusis and Machias (not that either of them would ever admit it). The senior-students also suggest Angelica and Crow are this, as they did not get along well when they first met.
  • Flawed Prototype: Ol-Gadia, the magic armor that Rean and Crow took on to save Elise and for Rean to inadvertently clear the first part of the trial, is the first magic knight golem that influential families built back in the day.
  • Flying Seafood Special:
    • Thunder Roaches in the Nord Highlands of all places. Basically floating anglerfishes. One of the quest bosses, Thunder Quaker, is a giant flying loach.
    • The sharkodile in Heimdallr's sewers. They look more like sharks with spiny backs, and they float in the air.
  • Food Porn: All of Class VII's Field Studies will have at least one scene where the cast are treated to the local cuisine, with characters often going into lengthy opinions on their meal. And then there's the cooking minigame, where each recipe has four possible outcomes, each with their own description in the item menu.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The final chapter of Cold Steel III has Campanella using the bell at Stargaze Tower to start waking the beast below Heimdallr. In fact, the final chapter of Cold Steel III is called "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and it definitely has lots of events that end up dooming Erebonia, and possibly the rest of the world.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: Despite the purpose of the school being to train future officers, Thors accepts at least a few non-Erebonian students. Gaius is seen as one by most of the other students even though Nord is technically (a distant) part of the Empire. He sees himself as one too. Crow is another pseudo-foreign student, being from a region that had been annexed into the Empire less than a decade before, as is Juna in III.
  • Foreshadowing: Lots of course, but specific mention goes to a history lesson with Thomas. When Thomas asks Rean what the name of the band of knights of Lianne Sandlot, the correct answer would be the Eisenritter. The other two choices however, Stahlritter and Gralsritter, are also significant however because the second game reveals that you're going to fight the leader of the Stahlritter, Duvalie, and as for the latter, it's revealed that Thomas is part of the Gralsritter. These terms obviously have been around for quite some time, but the significance of it is another story. And if there was a fourth option, it would probably be Schwarzritter...
    • Any of the luck fortune telling in the first game foreshadows events that happen either later on in the first game or throughout the second game.
    • Likewise, Crow's master quartz is called Cypher. Most players would brush it off on first playthrough. But then, after the reveal and realizing how the name is often associated with The Mole, you'd end up wondering why you didn't see this coming in the first place.
    • The first game's intro shows Vita's familiar briefly turning into what looks suspiciously like a crow - before transitioning to showing C.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Rean and Alisa briefly met each other when the Reinfords took a family vacation to Ymir nearly a decade before the events of the first game. Alisa got lost in the mountains and Rean guided her back to town. They don't recognize each other as the other party in that story until an optional bonding event in the second game.
  • For Science!: The head of RIT does research purely for the engineering challenges involved, caring nothing for what his clients might do with the fruits of his labors. This is how the Noble Alliance ended up with weapons systems that allowed them to launch an all-out civil war, and how Valimar got upgraded to be able to stand up to Crow's Divine Knight so that Rean could end the war.
  • Frame-Up: After Ash shoots Emperor Eugent, the Ironbloods place the blame on Calvard as a way of advancing Osborne's agenda. From an outsider's perspective, it was even a reasonable accusation: Erebonia had quarrelled with Calvard off and on for generations, including a brief armed conflict a year previous, there had been nearly a hundred Calvardian agents infiltrating the city just a few days prior to the incident, the weapon used was of Calvardian make and clearly designed to be smuggled into secure areas, and the shooter had a mysterious background. Only Class VII's insider knowledge allowed them to realize that Osborne was twisting the incident to his own advantage to promote his personal goals.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the Courageous' maiden voyage over Heimdallr in Cold Steel I, one can briefly spot Vita (in her "Misty" disguise) sitting down at the tram station located in Alto street.
  • Friendly Enemy: Xeno and Leonidas can be quite friendly to Class VII when they cross paths outside of combat situations. As mercenaries, they've often ended up in situations where the enemy you fight in one war can be the ally you fight alongside in the next, and the guy you drink with at the bar when you're both between wars, so they try not to make the fact that they're on the other side of the current war anything personal.
  • Full-Name Basis: Machias and Jusis tend to refer to each other by their full names until they start defrosting.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The new ARCUS model Tactical Orbment. It's an acronym for All-Round Communication and Unison System.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Ao no Kiseki ends with a timeskip and a description of events taking place in neighboring Erebonia. Cold Steel starts months before that point. Thanks to what we saw in Ao we know that by the end of the game Garrelia Fortress will be destroyed, war will be declared with Crossbell and the Empire will fall into a nasty civil war. Guess what happens?
    • Even extends to Cold Steel II to an extent because Ao's ending also told us that Osborne's faction wins, even though Cold Steel ends with the Noble Faction appearing to have an unbeatable upper hand..
  • Game Changer: Acknowledged in universe is the introduction of the Panzer Soldat which is capable of curb stomping Erebonia's most advanced tanks, the backbone of the Imperial Army.
    • For a meta example, Falcom's president stated in a Dengeki interview shortly after Cold Steel was released that the sequel would be one of these for the franchise.
  • Game Gourmet: Continuing from Trails in the Sky, there are several dozen recipes that can be found throughout the game, each with four different variations with their own unique effects. Different characters are better suited for cooking different recipes than others and each game has different amounts of recipes that players need to fill up for some really good late game quartz and sometimes master quartz. Full list for game 1 on Neoseeker.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Instructor Sara is Famed in Story as a Badass Teacher and the youngest ever Bracer to achieve A Rank status. Fittingly, when she joins the party at Garrelia Fortress she's exactly as Purposefully Overpowered as you'd expect. This also applies to Sharon in the second game. Being an Enforcer of Ouroboros, her crafts are Purposefully Overpowered and she's considered the best of three temporary party members (the other two are Toval and Claire).
    • At one point, Machias and Jusis', and later Laura and Fie's, inability to get along leads to the Tactical Link system breaking. Rean and Alisa's dispute doesn't break the Link system because they get over their issues before they end up in the same party. Jusis and Millium's link also doesn't break (despite Jusis' apparent distrust over her) partly because Millium doesn't seem to be aware of the fact, as opposed to what happened with Jusis-Machias and Fie-Laura and Millium joins after Jusis had his major Character Development months prior. Straighter examples of this trope are shown in several instances below:
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • The story makes a huge deal about how important and battle-changing combat links are but they hardly even make a difference during actual gameplay battles, especially during early and mid game. Though this is actually a bit justified in that the true power of the ARCUS only comes to the fore when they are all able to work in sync. You see a flash of it at the beginning of the game with the first boss, but it doesn't really come into play until you get Burst, which allows everyone to rush all opponents on the field in succession. As Rean sometimes says after winning a battle with it...
    Rean: This is our real power!
    • The story also makes a big deal about how much more powerful Laura and Fie are compare the rest but in gameplay, (barring overpowered skills like Rean's Arc Slash) they aren't too different from any of the other physical-based characters. To ameliorate this, Laura and Fie have their S-Craft without advancing the storyline.
      • Another problem then comes during the battle where you play as Fie and Laura vs Rean and Machias, which is arguably one of the hardest, if not the hardest, battle in the game, especially on the higher difficulties. This can also be justified since both the fight comes after Fie and Laura finished their duel, but to add insult to injury, when the battle ends Machias and Rean are on their knees, and the girls don't even appear to be winded.
    • In New Game Plus, if you carry your levels and equipment, you can easily one-shot most regular enemies throughout a good portion of the game and get out of most boss battles with barely a scratch, even on Nightmare Mode. The characters, however, will still act in the cutscenes as if they had engaged in battles which had pushed them to their limits. Also, if you do enough damage to take down an enemy in any battle where some sort of "event" has to occur, such as the combat link between Jusis/Machias or Laura/Fie breaking, then the game will only allow the enemy's HP to go down to 1 and you can't actually land the killing blow until after the event occurs.
    • NPCs will always react to your field character is if it was Rean, and your field character's reactions are clearly meant to reflect Rean's. This is mostly notable when talking to Dorothee, where your field character Sweatdrops at her Yaoi obsession, even if it's Alfin, who is a fellow Yaoi Fangirl herself.
    • Characters in field studies often recognize that Class VII is from Thors Academy from their uniforms - even if the entire party is equipped with DLC or New Game + skins that bear no resemblance to the school uniforms (pajamas and bathing suits, for example). Another example would be accessories, i.e. in Cold Steel III, a kid named Ken comments regarding Machias "Who's this weird, old glasses guy?" even if you equipped him with the contact lenses accessory and he therefore isn't wearing glasses, or Juna lamenting that she's at the beach while having forgotten to pack a bathing suit - while wearing a swimsuit skin.
    • In New Game Plus, you can carry your link EXP for free, meaning that across multiple playthroughs (or even possibly your second playthrough if you really play a lot) you could have link level 5 between Jusis and Machias / Laura and Fie. Doesn't matter - Jusis and Machias will still behave early-on as if they can't stand the sight of each other and Laura and Fie will still have their tiffs. And their links will still break in the respective storyline battles, even if said link carries the power of link level 5. It's actually impossible to win those fights until after those links break, even though it's possible to get the boss to drop to 0 HP in one turn.
    • In Cold Steel III, one of the bonding events involves helping Altina to choose a school club for the Thors Branch Campus. If you do the event, then ultimately he is with her as she joins the Swimming Club. That evening, however, when he speaks with her in the town cafe, even if you did the event he will comment "Oh, I heard you picked a club. So you're in the Swimming Club with Leonora, huh," as if this information had come to him secondhand.
    • In Cold Steel III, a big issue in the early part of the game is that Rean is no longer able to freely use his Spirit Unification Super Mode ("ogre power") due to it having gone out of control before during the war in North Ambria. In a New Game Plus, you have free access to it in battle, but for story purposes the other characters will still act as if he isn't using it.
  • Get Out!: The girls dismiss Crow's idea of having them in bikinis for the School Festival with that statement.
  • Global Airship: The party ends up having access to the Courageous in Cold Steel II at the start of Act II. In Cold Steel IV, the party first uses Gaius' Merkabah 8 throughout all of Act II until it gets damaged at the climax of the chapter by the Aion Type Alpha II. And in Act III, the players get access to the Courageous II, an upgraded model compared to the previous ship as the previous one was destroyed at the climax of Cold Steel III.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser:
    • The idea of an A-rank Bracer and an Ouroboros Enforcer living together under one roof, with both perfectly aware of who the other is, sounds almost like the set-up to a piece of in-universe sketch comedy. But it happens and it produces no shortage of amusing moments.
    • A mandatory story event in Cold Steel III has you playing Vantage Masters against Rutger Claussell.
  • Go Look at the Distraction: In one of the sidequests which has Rean trying to bust Rex for selling candid photos, he corners him at the Old Schoolhouse. Rex then distracts Rean by asking what Alisa's doing in a swimsuit. Rean soon realizes he fell for the oldest trick in the book!
    • Another one happens at Raquel in Cold Steel III where the informant Rean, Sara, and Angelica were chasing distracts them that there's a "naked hot woman in the corner." Rean turns his head a little bit, Sara just glances at the side claiming that she's not falling for that, and Angelica does a full 180 turn to find the woman, making Rean and Sara have a sweat drop and the informant running away.
  • Good Witch Versus Bad Witch: Emma and Vita. Subverted from the third game onward, when Vita becomes an ally.
  • Graduate from the Story: Somewhat unexpectedly, actually, but at the end of CS 2 it's revealed that all of Class VII except Rean has decided to graduate a year early and are cramming their second year's worth of material into a few weeks in order to do so.
  • Grand Finale: Cold Steel IV serves as this for the Erebonia saga, and arguably the entire series up until this point.
  • Great Escape: In Cold Steel II, this is what Rean and Alfin do when they're at the Pantagruel, the main ship of the Noble Alliance.
  • The Great Offscreen War: Numerous mentions are made to the War of the Lions, a major civil war that was fought 250 years before the events of the game and was ended by Emperor Dreichels, the founder of Thors Academy. And then there's the Hundred Days War with Liberl from Erebonia's point of view. And in Cold Steel III, there was also another war that happened between the people of the fire and the people of the earth. As revealed in the Black Records of II and both Roselia and Thomas telling the story, both Arc Rouge and Lost Zem had a Mutual Kill with each other with one body flung at Bryonia Island while the other got flung all the way towards Nord with Osgiliath Basin being the center of impact.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Georg Weissman ends up becoming this in the Erebonian arc (he was a straight up Big Bad in the Liberl arc) as a lot of tragedies that had happened to the series can be attributed back to him. In short, he makes Lechter's dad pull off the Hamel Incident with Osborne trying to stop it, only for his house to get raided a few days before said incident which kills off Osborne's wife and nearly kills Rean. Not long afterwards the Hamel Incident itself happens and changes the lives of Joshua, Loewe, and Ash as the former two become Ouroboros Enforcers while the latter ends up carrying a curse in his eye where it keeps telling him to "kill the ones responsible" and is then taken to Raquel. Lechter ends up with the Ironbloods after his father was found guilty to atone for his father's sins, Osborne becomes an expansionist to prepare to kill the curse of Erebonia, and Crossbell is invaded at the end of Cold Steel II. In short, everything in the Cold Steel series and possibly the entire series happens is because Weissman pulls the metaphorical trigger. The Erebonian curse wasn't helping things but he made it a lot worse.
    • Ishmelga in Cold Steel IV. Though this comes so fast and sudden that it technically is more of a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, but it still fits the trope as it is revealed that this thing is the root of all the troubles in Erebonia. And oh, the curse you've been hearing about in rumors in the past 3 games? They're actually referring to this thing!
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Class VII's heroic efforts to stop the firing of the railway guns of Garrelia Fortress are never publicly acknowledged, as the ILF's attack on the fortress was classified. And they also become moot when the entire fortress is completely destroyed two months later.
    • There's also the War of the Lions, or rather the part where Divine Knights were used. And in Cold Steel III, when Rean is asked by one of his students as to whether Rean fought against Lianne Sandlot, Rean refuses to release the information to his class that he did fight against the Lance Maiden (who now calls herself the Steel Maiden) himself. Nor does he release the information that Dreichels used to be Valimar's Awakener.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Nord Highlands is a huge, sprawling field so large that you need a horse to traverse through it. It's the very first area in the entire arc you visit that is more open-ended than the other areas before it and since (which are just straight pathways with branching paths), and there are a lot of nooks which contain treasure chests for those who seek to explore the field.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: An entire quest ends up becoming this in Cold Steel III as Rean has to call up quite a lot of characters that aren't part of Class VII. With the exception of Sara who is permanent, Rean calls up Claire, Sharon, Agate, Tita, Olivert, and Tio, with Lechter taking charge as he's the one who requested this. And yes, all of them are in the party at the same time (though players can only have 4 in the field, 2 in support, and the rest as reserve).
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the books have extremely strict windows to obtain them. While often checking the book store as soon as possible each chapter and being sure to talk to every NPC will net you many of them, Chapter 4 pulls the zinger of having two issues of the Imperial Chronicle available at two different points in the chapter, when thus far you've had no reason to check back by book stores after you bought up their inventory.
  • Harder Than Hard: Nightmare difficulty is intended to be this if you choose it from the start. If you choose it on New Game+, however, you can carry all your levels and equipment, etc., from the first playthrough, which effectively makes it ridiculously easy throughout most of the game right up until around the end when your levels become comparable to those of the enemies again.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Emma and Machias both subvert this, particularly Emma who won a scholarship to Thors by acing a national exam, despite not having the advantages the Nobles get (access to extra tutoring, more leisure time and so on) and she manages to be the top performer on the Midterm Exam. Machias, who is equally dedicated but for different reasons, scores second on the entrance exam and ties Emma for first on the midterms.
  • Hate at First Sight: Given Erebonia's extremely strong class differences, it was practically inevitable that this should happen to Machias and Jusis when they met. One is the son of a champion of the faction that wants to overturn the current Noble-led political order, the other is a son of one of the Four Families and brother of the champion of the faction trying to maintain the status-quo.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Cold Steel III generated a lot of hate towards quite a lot of characters, and not necessarily the ones players were expecting. Special mention goes to George Nome/Georg of Copper, Cedric, Black Alberich, and of course Chancellor Osborne.
    • The "Provincial Army Officer" in the first game. You actually encounter three of them (two from the same Province), but they all share the same model, voice actor, and personality. They basically play the part of a whiny Obstructive Bureaucrat that will do everything in their power to get in Class VII's way and perform extremely questionable actions to uphold their ruling noble's will.
    • Duke Cayenne and Duke Alberea are this to some players in II for kidnapping Princess Alfin, torching Celdic, and attempting to torch Ymir, among many other atrocities.
  • Haunted Castle: Lohengrin Castle is popularly believed to be haunted by the ghost of Lianne Sandlot, who died under mysterious circumstances shortly after the end of the Lion War. When Class VII visits it, it is indeed apparently haunted by ghosts and animated suits of armor and weaponry. Not by Lianne though, which would have been difficult since she's not actually dead.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Lose the final battle of the first game and it's game over, of course. Win the final battle, against Crow and his Ordine and he just gets back up, informs Rean that he's been operating a Divine Knight for three years, compared with Rean who just started, and crushes him good, forcing the ending of the game in which Rean has to unwillingly abandon his classmates and flee in order to live.
  • Heal It with Water: All single-target healing arts are of the water element. Multi-target healing arts are air element, and the ultimate "revive/heal everyone and grant regeneration" spell is space element.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Everyone assigned to Group B for the Field Exams gets to be the hero of a story the player only hears about after the fact. They always seem to get sent to locations the player has heard about in previous games (Parm and Saint-Arkh) or which are probably going to be important later (Byronia Island).
    • Toval, a Bracer who does a lot of off-screen string-pulling to bail Class VII out of trouble several times, at Sara's request. And one of the main characters in 'Carnelia' is based on him. Actually, most major non-villainous characters outside Class VII fall into this.
    • Inverted with Bleublanc, who's a major antagonist in earlier games but doesn't play a big role in Cold Steel, making him a villain of another story. He is however, the primary antagonist of the audio drama "Returning Home" and is back in Cold Steel II as Ouroboros' Enforcer No. X.
    • And from a more literal use of this trope, Rean is this in the Divertissement Chapter.
    • In a low-key example, many of the other students at Thors Military Academy have their own lives and story arcs that you get glimpses of if you talk to them during Free Days.
  • Hidden Depths: He doesn't get much of a chance to show them off in Cold Steel but Patrick clearly does have some redeeming qualities buried beneath his jerkassery.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Micht's shop is the same one described in the Carnelia novels, just located in Trista instead of Heimdallr. Disguised as a curio shop, it's really a front for his business of selling information to Bracers and the like.
  • Home by Christmas: The surprise attack the rebels launch at the end of the first game gives them such an advantage that at the beginning of the second (which starts about a month later), they're certain the war will be over in another month or so. It is, but they aren't the ones who won.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight
    • You can't beat Sara in Chapter 2note , you can't beat <C> in Chapter 4 and you definitely can't beat Victor in Chapter 5. Then, because the game wouldn't be complete without one more you can't beat Scarlet's Spiegel while on foot. All of these are justified by the plot.
    • Fairly early on in Cold Steel II, you're tossed into a boss battle with two members of Fie's former jaeger corps, Zephyr. Both have around 90,000 HP and Fie says before the battle that the party has about a "20% chance" of victory. You're allowed to whittle around a quarter of that before both use their S-Crafts. The battle ends automatically a few turns later and it's revealed that they were holding back. Later on, a fight against Jusis' brother Rufus is so hopeless that on the first playthrough the only way to survive the first art is to use a Master Quartz with auto-reflect or auto-revive capabilities. And if he ever drops below 50% health (which has to be done if you want to max out AP over the course of the game), he'll spam S-Crafts until the party drops.
      • There's another hopeless fight in between those two where you fight Duvalie and McBurn. To get the bonus AP, you have to defeat Duvalie. Duvalie herself isn't too terribly hard to beat if you do everything possible to max out your damage output and blow 200 CP S-Crafts, but McBurn will effortlessly wipe you out in no time.
  • Hope Spot: In Cold Steel III, the Courageous manages to make a Big Damn Heroes moment with Toval, Olivert, and Victor inside the ship and help out. But before they can land the ship, Alberich pulls out a detonator and detonates the Courageous in the air.
    • Most of the 4th act is this really. Ouroboros seems to have been driven off, Cedric and the Thors Primary seem to have made their peace with the Branch school and there's a big ceremony where both students join hands, there's a big festival and all kinds of happy fun times and bonding events, and everything seems to be going fine. General Craig even tells Rean that as far as he knows Osborne is really a good guy deep down because he knew him as a young man and he really was a loving father and family man before his house was attacked. There's a big party where all the characters dance and everything seems great. Then Ash shoots the Emperor and Osborne uses it as an excuse to declare war with Calvard, before revealing that he and Ouroboros were in league, Cedric is still just as nasty as before and it was all part of their plan.
  • Hot Springs Episode: A number of events in Cold Steel IV happen where the cast takes a bath at the hot springs at Elin. Later on, they also have events that happen at the Courageous II ship since Olivert had specified the engineers to build one for the ship. It's also revealed in Cold Steel IV that Rean is a fanatic for hot springs in general (due to Ymir being a hot spring town).
  • How We Got Here: Most of the first game is a flashback before the events of the Garrelia Fortress. Ditto with Cold Steel III with the Naval Fortress.
  • HP to 1: The final boss of Cold Steel II, Loa Luciferia, has a move that can do this to everyone in the active battle party.
  • Humongous Mecha: A series tradition. There are returning Overmuppets like the export-model Tri-Attacker and enhanced versions of previous machines such as the Zephyranthes (a refined Liore Gun-EZ). Then you have two new types of machines. The centerpiece of the games are the Divine Knights, machines from Erebonia's distant past. Rean is chosen as the Awakener of Valimar the Ashen Knight at the end of Cold Steel while Crow is the Awakener of Ordine the Azure Knight. There are also the Panzer Soldat manufactured by Reinford's Fifth Division with help from Ouroboros, which are implied to be based on the Divine Knights using Ordine as a model. The biggest ones however are both Arc Rouge and Lost Zem. Lost Zem's remains are at Nord Highlands while Arc Rouge's remains are at Bryonia Island. Both are so big, a Divine Knight's size is a toothpick compared to them.
    • Cold Steel III reveals successor models to Ao's three Aions, whilst Cold Steel IV introduces the "Makoukihei," which can be described as the Black Workshop's attempt at taking the inner workings of Magic Knights and combining them with Panzer Soldat technology.

    I - M 
  • I Have Your Wife: Duke Albarea tries to use the family of his political and/or military opponents as hostages on multiple occasions.
  • Idea Bulb: An anime-style idea bulb will sometimes appear over a character's head when they get an idea, such as in Chapter 4 when Emma excuses her talking with her cat, Celine, as talking with a friend on her ARCUS unit. It also sometimes shows up when Rean answers a question in class.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Linde and Vivi are virtually indistinguishable aside from the fact that they have different hairstyles. The two occasionally adopt the same style in order to mess with people, like when Vivi takes advantage of this to pull a prank on Rean.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Emma doesn't realize she's holding it until the very end of the game but... if she had just listened to Abend Time once in the six months she was at Thors, she would have possessed absolutely vital information. The fact that she never saw Misty in that same period can be explained by the woman avoiding the one person who could identify her but never once listening to the radio program that everyone is talking about? In Emma's defense, Vita put a curse upon herself so that information about her wouldn't be leaked to Emma, possibly in addition to Celine (confirmed by Celine). Until Vita deliberately deactivated the curse, Emma wouldn't think of listening to Abend Time at all. Not only had Emma never heard of Abend Time, Celine had not met Vita at all. Vita's curse also prevented people from recognizing her as Misty; Rean could tell only because of his latent powers let him pick up more info than others.
    • Then there's Cold Steel II with Class VII leaving their VIP, Crown Prince Cedric, unattended and went towards Crow who has his heart pierced. Why nobody decided to carry him when they all went to Crow is anyone's guess. If it wasn't for Rufus' timely appearance, who knows what Duke Cayenne would have done with the crown prince. To make it worse, the whole reason Crow had gotten wounded in the first place was because two boss fight previous, everyone had been so busy talking to Crow that they failed to notice Cayenne taking Cedric and using him to revive Testa-Rossa, triggering another round of boss fights. Though by Cold Steel III, fans wished Class VII held the Idiot Ball a lot longer.
    • Cold Steel IV gives another one for Class VII where they didn't have an escape plan when they decided to break Rean out of the Black Workshop in case their mission was gonna fail (it wasn't, otherwise the plot wouldn't progress and Rean wouldn't be able to take up the protagonist mantle) or if they get cornered by the bad guys (which did happen). Rean, who just woke up from his berserk self, still tired from barely any sleep, all chained up, and probably malnourished, had to come up with an Indy Ploy to get out of there by signalling Gaius and Emma.
  • If You Can Read This: In Cold Steel III, the text on Crow's supposed grave is the same warning that appears on William Shakespeare's grave - "Good friend for Jesus sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones." Angelica makes a comment about going to Gehenna if she's wrong about what's in there before digging it up.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Elliot uses a variation on the Provincial Army when investigating a theft at the Celdic markets. Two merchants had their stalls robbed, Heinz who sold accessories and Marco who sold produce. Elliot asks the army if they had any leads on where Marco's stole bracelets were. The army corrects him that it was actually Heinz who had bracelets stolen... but if they were telling the truth about not having investigated, there's no way they could've know that...
  • In Medias Res: Cold Steel begins on 8/31/1204 as Class VII, Sara and Neithardt fight terrorists attacking Garrelia Fortress. The next five Chapters are spent explaining how they got there.
  • Internal Reveal: Lots of them (and extra lots if you include things the audience didn't explicitly know but could guess with high accuracy based on past games), including Alisa revealing what the 'R' in her last name is short for to the entire group and Emma revealing to Rean just how she's able to do some of the stunts she's performed over the course of the game. Some of these are limited to Bond Events while others occur during the normal plot.
  • Instant Expert:
    • Played straight and then almost immediately subverted. While being chosen by a Divine Knight grants an Awakener the knowledge of how to operate one, that doesn't mean you'll know how to operate it well, as Crow points out that his three year head start gives him an overwhelming advantage over Rean (including the knowledge of how to use Ordine's Super Mode), just before he kicks Rean's ass.
    • Played straight with Instructor Neithardt in the sequel, who's able to pilot a Spiegel very effectively despite having no experience with one before. His test fight against Rean is one of the tougher mech battles up to that point, to boot.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: In Cold Steel III, Randy is disappointed by the Erebonian Empire's orbal network. It's so boring - if he were in Crossbell, he "could bring up some swimsuit babes just like that."
  • Invisible Backup Band: Inverted. During the concert, the final song has five singers, three guitarists, a drummer and a keyboarder. All the music comes from one voice and a keyboard, with the guitars, percussion, or backup singers participating at all.
  • Irony: Cold Steel IV reveals that the general location of the Black Workshop was through a route that Class VII passed by to get to Alster. Had they went to the other route, they would have found the entrance to the Black Workshop. Getting in however is a different story.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: <C> drops his blade and appears to surrender after you fight him for the second time. Rean realizes very quickly that it's a ploy but <C> only needed that second's distraction to arrange his escape.
    • Weaponized (again) by Gilbert in Cold Steel IV, where he tries to surrender except its a ploy for him to hand you a grenade. Except he accidentally drops it, damaging you and him in the process.
  • I Think You Broke Her: Millium delivered this line when Elliot changed into his Drill Sergeant mode, stating nobody was allowed to get out of the old school building until their concert rehearsal was finished (Though Emma's reaction has more to do with the revealing concert dress she's going to have to wear while singing in front of the whole school in a few days than the rehearsal schedule).
    Emma: ...Fine... I suppose I'll just have to cast my shame to the wind and go through with it *grumble* *mumbles* It's not like I want to wear an outfit like this, but I might never get the chance to again. So, come on, Emma! Just grin and bear it! *blank stares*
    Rean: E-Emma?
    Millium: Oh no... I think we broke Emma!
    • Another variant happens on the following day. After rigorous training, Crow suddenly announced the class had to prepare for an encore. An already exhausted Emma gave up and fell down on her knees.
    Millium: Ah! You killed her!
  • It's All About Me: A common factor among the Noble Faction
    • Duke Cayenne is obsessed with rehabilitating the reputation of his ancestor who led one of the losing factions in the War of the Lions, to the point where he starts another civil war so that he can win it.
    • Duke Albarea is obsessed with ensuring the ascendancy of Nobles in general and House Albarea in particular. His relationship with Jusis centers entirely around how his second son's conduct reflects on (his perception of) the reputation of the House. He also sees absolutely nothing wrong with doing immoral or outright illegal things to bring about his goals, and even when those actions cause his allies and the rest of his family to abandon him in disgust, he still can't understand that he did anything wrong and rants about how they all betrayed him.
    • General Le Guin wants to be a famous warrior, so she goes to war in the hopes of making a name for herself by defeating the greatest warriors on the other side.
    • McBurn doesn't care about the war one way or the other, all he wants is the opportunity to find and fight someone good enough to force him to go all out.
  • It's Always Spring: Despite most of the second game taking place during December, the locations that were visited in both games don't look like they've changed seasons. For example, the flowers in the Thors Academy garden are still in bloom on December 30th.
  • Japanese School Club: It's a JRPG with a Military Academy setting, so of course, this is going to come up. Everyone in Class VII eventually joins one. Alisa (Lacrosse), Elliot (Music), Laura (Swimming), Machias (Chess), Jusis (Riding), Emma (Literature), Fie (Gardening) and Gaius (Art). Rean is volunteered into the 'help the Student Council President with her work' club, aka the Sidequest Club. Other clubs include Cooking, Fencing and Occult Studies. When Millium joins Class VII, she technically joins the Cooking Club, though mostly so she can eat the food. The fishing sidequest also more-or-less makes Rean an honorary member of the Fishing Club, which only has one other member anyway.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The regular and provincial armies tend to really resent it when the Railway Military Police use their authority to intervene 'to ensure the safety of the transportation system'. Claire couldn't care less, especially since the provincial forces are involved in the incidents that she's trying to resolve most of the time.
  • Just Smile and Nod: In Cold Steel II, when Sara suggests that the final free day is a good day for the students of Class VII to "get some ooh-la-la," the other students mock her as being as "shining counterexample" of this, given the time that she spends alone in her room drinking. Gaius eventually suggests that the polite thing to do would be to just smile and nod, but they continue anyway, Fie suggesting that Sara should just find some cats to snuggle up with if she keeps setting her sights on men like Laura's dad (a famed swordsman known as the Radiant Blademaster.)
  • Just Train Wrong: In chapter 4 of the first game, the party excuses themselves from a conversation with Lechter because they need to catch the train that just arrived. One problem: the announced train was a westbound train to Heimdallr, and they were waiting for the eastbound train to Bareahard.
  • King Mook: All the Trial Chest bosses in the sequel.
  • Knowledge Broker: Micht's real profession as revealed in the first game.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: As Cold Steel II is virtually an Immediate Sequel to a game that ended on a Cliffhanger, all of the gigantic twists at the end of the first game are the basic foundation of the plot. In particular Valimar, whose existence alone is a big spoiler for the first game, is all over the opening movie, is one of the first things you see on starting the game proper and is central to an entire game mechanic. Crow and Vita being villains and the Noble Alliance taking over most of Erebonia and starting a civil war are more examples of huge reveals from the first game that are common knowledge in the second.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Class VII members get red uniforms, while everyone else is divided by noble/commoner status into white and green respectively.
    • In Cold Steel IV, Alberich, using their designated colors, ranks the power of each Divine Knight as follows:
      • Ashen, Azure, and Palatinate (Valimar, Ordine, and Zektor) are at the bottom of the barrel.
      • Vermillion (Testa-Rossa) would normally be on the same level as the above, but retaining some of the Vermillion Apocalypse's power gives it a notable edge.
      • Silver and Gold (Argreion and El-Prado) are a grade above the previous four.
      • Finally, Black (Ishmelga) stands above all others as the strongest.
  • Leaked Experience: In II although you can switch in and out party members in a fight (there are 7 people you can bring in one party), you're only required to fight with four. Those who gets left behind in Courageous, however, don't gain one.
    • This also applies to the PC port of the first game. When you win a battle, everyone in your party- including characters in reserve who didn't participate in the fight- will receive experience. Those not in your party, however, do not gain any experience.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: The source of Erebonia's curse. The fused Earth/Fire Sept-Terrion of Steel, The Great One, was insane. To contain it, the Witches and Gnomes sealed it in the seven Divine Knights. That proved insufficient, and it created the Dark Dragon. After that much of its remaining power was sealed in the Divine Beast of Earth, but that still wasn't enough to keep the curse from leaking out on occasion and influencing people to make the worst possible decisions at the worst times to induce conflict. Osborne's ultimate plan was to free all the pieces of the Great One and reunite them so that it could be killed once and for all.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: If Millium is in your party when you complete the sixth floor, she'll complain that, "That can't be the end! That'd make this the worst-designed dungeon ever!" Also, the party in general comments about the wrongness of it being the final floor from go once you see on the elevator panel that it's the last location listed.
    • In II she'll comment "Now that's a final dungeon" when the final dungeon shows up. Funnily enough, it's not the actual final dungeon of the game either.
  • The Legend of X: The latest in a long line of the Legend of Heroes: Trails of/in/to/from series.
  • Lens Flare: Seems to be a common effect in any area where you can see the sun. It's particularly noticeable in the Nord Highlands.
  • Lethal Chef: Played with. Every member of the party has some recipes that they're good at and some that they're terrible at. For example, Jusis can make an incredible herb chowder but can't make edible tomato sandwiches. This is important because there are three unofficial sidequests connected with cooking: Instructor Thomas and one of the upper-class dorm maids are looking for unique dishes (the maid the highest quality examples and Thomas the lowest quality ones), and will pay in items for every five examples provided, and in the last chapter, Margarita (herself an oblivious Lethal Chef) will provide a Master or Rare (if the Master Quartz was received in a previous playthrough) Quartz if you can present her with a notebook that shows all eighty (Twenty recipes times four levels of quality) dishes in it. Similar unofficial sidequests occur in the second game.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Played straight when Crow tosses Rean a sword so he can fight at his best, even asking him to bear with the fact that the Spiegel's sword isn't the equal of Rean's own sword but he doesn't have a Humongous Mecha sized katana available. Then subverted after Rean appears to win, when Crow activates Ordine's Super Mode, which Rean doesn't know how to activate on his own machine.
    • Happens again in Cold Steel II with Angelica and her father Marquis Rogner with their Soldats. They go one-on-one while ordering their followers to not interfere. After a brief battle, Angelica wins and Marquis Rogner takes his loss surprisingly well and agrees to pull the Nortia Provincial Army out of the war.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: In the English dub, Machias will say this word-for-word if you choose him as a partner for cooking and the result is a peculiar dish.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The first game in the series to completely justify this is also the one to avert it. The members of Class VII obviously wear the same outfit because it's the uniform of Thors Military Academy. The leap to 3D also allowed Falcom to make alternate costumes so everyone has a few opportunities to change their clothes, more so with DLC casual clothing and New Game+ bonuses.
  • Little Hero, Big War: While Class VII's actions are critical to every campaign they participate in in the war, it's made quite clear that the Imperial Army is doing the lion's share of the fighting. In many cases, the only reason Class VII is free to act is because the Army is pinning down the bulk of the rebel forces somewhere else.
  • Living with the Villain: Surprisingly common in Cold Steel:
    • The super-maid Sharon is actually an Ouroboros Enforcer, which theoretically places her in conflict with many of Class VII's allies, like Sara and the Intelligence Division, although this is ultimately a subversion as no conflict ever arises from it. This elevates to Go-Karting with Bowser once everyone realizes who Sharon is.
    • Turns out that the terrorist "C" that Rean spends most of the game hunting down was actually living just across the hall from him.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: In the original Trails of Cold Steel, you have nine characters that are playable throughout most of the game (Rean, Elliot, Alisa, Laura, Fie, Jusis, Machias, Emma and Gaius), two that join temporarily in parts of the game that become playable in Chapter 5 (Millium and Crow) and two that are briefly playable (Sara and Angelica). Ten out of those eleven are playable in Cold Steel II and the game piles on a bevy of Promoted to Playable characters such that your playable team is larger than Final Fantasy VI, assuming you don't count that game's briefly playable moogles. At the end of the second game, there are 18 playable characters, with the number increasing to 23 if you count the Phantasmal Mirror items that let you transform your characters into other characters. Cold Steel III then shakes things up by giving you alternating segments where Rean is accompanied by members of the new Class VII and members of the old Class VII while giving out loads of Guest Star Party Members that accompany you periodically. Despite not having that specific amount when entering the final dungeon, the player would have cycled through no less than 26 characters.
    • The roster of characters returning from previous games for Cold Steel IV specifically also deserves mention. To list them off, we have Estelle, Joshua, Renne, Josette, Tita, Agate, Scherazard, Kloe, and Cassius representing the Sky trilogy and Lloyd, Elie, Tio, Randy, and KeA representing the Zero/Ao duology. That's six out of the original eight playable characters from the first Trails game plus some extra allies representing the Liberl games and all of the founding members of the Special Support Section representing the Crossbell games. Even without adding them to the likes of the old and new Class VII, that's an impressive roster.
    • By the final parts of the Cold Steel IV, players would have cycled through 39 playable characters with notable addition of several former villains like the Stahlritter, Xeno, Leonidas, Vita and George, Victor, and Celine in human form.
  • Loophole Abuse: Minors can't bet on horse races. But nothing's stopping certain schools hosting "sweepstakes" where students can "guess" which horse will win and receive prizes for guessing correctly. It's not technically underage gambling... Needless to say, Crow took part in these often.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Duke Cayenne is supporting the Imperial Liberation Front. In turn, Ouroboros is supporting everyone, as they've been aiding Osborne's Reformist Faction for some time and they're the real power behind the ILF. They also have at least one agent keeping an eye on both Class VII and the Reinford Group and they're providing resources and know-how to Reinford. The ultimate example would undoubtedly be Vita, who seems to be running this part of the Phantasmal Blaze Plan and who helped Crow obtain Ordine.
  • Marathon Boss: Typically, each Chapter will end with one of these. Chapter 6 is particularly sadistic since you have to fight Vulcan and <C> back to back. Hope you saved some items and CP.
  • Marathon Level: In Cold Steel III, the Sanctuary of the Dark Dragon is a long dungeon that splits all of Class VII, both old and new, into three teams and each section is a long section that has players constantly switching between the three teams and that there are three floors overall, each with a different gimmick. If that wasn't enough, there are also enemies where one can reflect physical attacks infinitely and the other can do the same, only with artsnote . After which, all 3 areas will have a boss fight at the end of their areas and when the three groups converge, they have to fight a boss who has to be damaged in certain phases, with Rean's group being the last. And then there's a Divine Knight battle afterwards with Rean and another member of new Class VII to take down the boss. And if you thought that was over, the final boss of that section is a Duel Boss between Rean and Azure Siegfried (though the battle takes place back beneath the Heimdallr catacombs). All this can take quite a long time to beat, even on a Very Easy difficulty. The final dungeon in comparison, Gral of Erebos, is just a short dungeon with no gimmicks but makes up for it with 3 boss gauntlets with each boss needing 3 specific party members that permanently leave the party after the boss fight is done, the final boss on foot, and two Divine Knight battles.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Poor Rean can't catch a break in the prologue. He gets a face full of Alisa's cleavage and gets slapped for it despite what happened being an accident. It takes them three weeks to properly make up. Kurt also gets this in Cold Steel III from Juna, although she forgives him after two weeks worth of waiting to apologize.
  • Meaningful Name: The Ironbloods are followers of the 'Chancellor of Blood and Iron'.
  • Mega-Corp: The Reinford Group makes almost all of Erebonia's military hardware and almost all orbment-related technology (such as luxury limousines and passenger airliners), aside from goods made by Epstein Foundation or the ZCF and imported. The primary check on their power is the fact that the Sachsen Mines that provide the bulk of their raw material are owned by the royal family rather than the company or the local nobility.
    • Their Fifth Division is revealed in the Final Chapter to be a supporter of the Noble Faction and its proxy the Imperial Liberation Front. By implication, it's also likely to be a satellite branch of Workshop Thirteen.
  • Merchant City: Well, Merchant Town at any rate. Celdic is famous for its open-air market which attacts merchants from across Kreuzen Province and customers from across the Empire.
  • Military Academy: Thors is historically meant to train soldiers, but recently many graduates have worked in civilian fields instead. In fact, the final chapter reveals that a full 60% of Thors graduates do not go into the military after graduation, and roughly a quarter of those who do seek a military career do so in the Provincial Armies rather than the Imperial Army, despite Thors being an Imperial institution. At one point in III it's mentioned that Osborne had just reorganized the Academy for the purpose of encouraging all students to enter some form of government service after graduating, whether it be in the military or not.
  • Mildly Military: None of the students at Thors really carry themselves as officers in training. The fact that, on average, three-fifths of their graduates don't actually become officers might have something to do with this. By Cold Steel III, the only ones who are officially part of the military from Thors who show up in-game are Rean, who is already a war veteran, teaching Thors II, Millium who was already from the Intelligence Division, and Alan who joins the 4th Armored Division. Mint and Linde later on join Thors II as a mechanic and nurse respectively.
  • Militaries Are Useless:
    • The Provincial Armies believe that their job is to help maintain their overlord's privileges rather than to help fulfill said overlord's responsibilities. As such, they see patrolling to clear monsters from the highways (Which is one of the few reasons why the Great Houses should need private military forces in areas which are in no danger of invasion) as busywork which they pass off to Class VII when they can, and ignore otherwise. The few times they bother to actually do anything, they deliberately make matters worse.
    • In the opening battle of the ILF's major offensive at the end of the first game, the defenders of Trista (Consisting of six teachers, ten students, and a maid) had a better showing for themselves than the entire 1st Armored Division of the Imperial Army.
    • Averted in the second game. Once the surprise of the initial assault wears off and the survivors get a feel for what the enemy's new weapon systems are capable of, the Imperial Army is far from incompetent.
    • The Army goes back to being useless in the third game, mainly because competent generals find themselves hamstrung by their civilian superiors, for reasons of politics and/or incompetence.
  • Minigame Zone: The Academy Festival during the final Chapter includes an equestrian obstacle course, a Blade tournament where you can challenge an otherwise unplayable opponent and whack-a-Mishy.
  • Moment Killer: Patrick develops a fairly obvious crush on Elise. Rean seems to enjoy ruining any chance Patrick might get to act on that crush.
  • Multiple Endings: Well, sort of. There will be a special scene with whoever's dance event you saw, just before the end of the game. It doesn't affect the ending in any significant way but it's a nice touch.
  • Mundane Utility: Alisa's father once took a grain of Zemurian Ore, the rarest and most valuable substance in the world... and used it as an oscillator to make the world's most accurate pocketwatch for his wife.
  • Mutual Kill: In the backstory of Erebonia as a whole 1200 years before the Erebonia arc started, both Arc Rouge (the Sept-Terrion of Fire) and Lost Zem (the Sept-Terrion of Earth) defeated each other and their empty shells were flung all the way towards Bryonia Island and Nord Highlands with the resulting left over power becoming the Great One. Realizing this is too powerful in the hands of one person, the two clans decided to split the power of the Great One into the seven Deus Excellion/Divine Knights.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: The Cryptids in the second game can use certain high-level Arts with no charge time. This mainly serves to make sure they quickly wipe you if you take them on too early.
  • Mysterious Backer: The Imperial Liberation Front is said to have one, which keeps it supplied with Mira and resources. It's heavily implied to be Duke Cayenne of the Noble Faction, which is more or less confirmed in the epilogue but ultimately Ouroboros is behind them both, to the surprise of precisely nobody. The Overmuppets were a bit of a giveaway.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A minor example in Cold Steel III has Juna telling a flirting Musse "Stop it, you!"note  on multiple occasions, just like Estelle did with Olivier throughout Trails in the Sky.
    • A seemingly affable science guy revealed to be evil and named Georg. Are we talking Professor Alba or Georg Nome?
    • In Cold Steel II, after being bailed out from an extended boss fight, the party can return to the boss arena, where there is no one is to be seen, yet the party can hear the sounds of fighting somewhere. The same thing happens in Ys Origin when the search party bails out Toal from an extended fight with Zava.

    N - P 
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: At the climax of Cold Steel III, the Courageous appears, ready to join the fight. But then Alberich detonates the Courageous while still in the sky, supposedly killing off Olivert, Toval, and Victor still inside. Even Duvalie, who was mildly worried about the prospect of fighting the Master Swordsman, thought it was a bit too much and Campanella thinking that it was very tasteless. Cold Steel IV reveals that they all survived but not without cost. Olivert lost an eye and had his participation reduced to a passive role due to being a marksmen while Victor lost his left arm and underwent inverse Heel–Face Brainwashing.
  • Nerf: In Cold Steel III, delay is "kind of nerfed" in the sense that crafts in general are expensive to cast, not to mention that Rean lost Arc Slash. Instead, his new line attack now inflicts a chance to burn.
    • Cold Steel IV nerfs the costs of Brave Orders and reduces its effectiveness compared to how powerful they were in Cold Steel III.
    • The CP cost of Rean's Gale craft in III is 80 CP, as opposed to what it was in I and II, 40 CP.
    • In an inter-arc example, the HP-for-CP craft in the Sky arc topped out at granting 150 CP per usage, while in this game it stops at 90 CP per usage, preventing players from using the "Wild Rage-S Break-Heal-Repeat" strategy from the first series, barring equipping CP restoring accessories and the Force/Brigid Master Quartz.
  • New Transfer Student: Wouldn't be a school story without one!
    • Specifically, two students transfer into Class VII over the course of the game. One is Crow, who is making up for missed work in his regular classes and the other is Millium, who isn't actually eligible to attend Thors (she's too young) and only gets in because someone is pulling strings. Also, both of their stints in Class VII are meant to be temporary and both were well known to the player and characters before they appeared. All in all, it's almost a subversion of the usual trope.
    • In Cold Steel III, Ash and Musse transfer from Class VIII and IX respectively, to Class VII.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Rean spends a subchapter of Cold Steel II aboard the rebel flagship, where he spends most of his time being treated to meals and socializing with people who had been bosses over the past game and a half.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Two thirds of the Academy Wind Orchestra don't play wind instruments.
  • Not So Different: Jusis and Rean, as quasi-outsiders in their own family, Jusis for being illegitimate and initially raised as a Commoner and Rean for being a Commoner adopted into a Noble family. On a similar note Jusis and Angelica, who both belong to one of the Four Families and call themselves the unworthy son/daugher of their respective fathers.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle
    • In Chapter 4, when everyone receives their field study assignments, Rean sees that he's been assigned to a group with Laura and Fie, who are currently conflicting, and suggests to Instructor Sara that he's being used again. Sara's only response is this.
    Rean: ...That innocent whistling isn't fooling anyone.
    • As Class VII is discussing what everyone is doing for the school festival, Jusis says that the horse-riding club is planning an event and although there's supposed to be no gambling, he's sure their "senior colleague" will find a way. At this, Crow gives one of these, and the text actually reads "*innocent whistle*".
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Considering how almost every member of the Noble Alliance has their own goals and ambitions and seem to spend almost all their time working at cross-purposes, it's actually kind of remarkable that they're able to be as big of a threat as they are. To whit:
    • Duke Cayenne wants to redeem his disgraced ancestor and become The Man Behind the Man to the Royal Family.
    • Duke Albarea is obsessed with usurping leadership of the Alliance at any cost.
    • Marquis Rogner isn't all that interested in what the Alliance is doing in the first place, and quickly withdraws his aid after a showdown with his daughter.
    • Xeno and Leo, while loyal, are Only in It for the Money. (And as learned later on, they were also trying to help revive Rutger.)
    • Rufus is The Mole.
    • Even among the Ouroboros members lent to the Alliance are there significantly different motivations:
      • Vita Clotilde just wants to set up her duel between the Ashen and Azure Awakeners and continue the Phantasmal Blaze plan, which leads her to alternately helping, testing, and hindering Class VII.
      • McBurn is hunting for a suitable combatant to test his flames against. In the final confrontation with him, he will comment that he doesn't care about the war, and doesn't even care about the plans of his organization's Anguis ("Who cares what Abyss and Steel have planned?").
      • Duvalie is there to fulfill the wishes of her master.
      • As usual, Bleublanc is only there for his endless pursuit of beauty.
  • Off Bridge, onto Vehicle: Just to prove how badasses the adults are in Cold Steel II, Victor, Sara, Claire, Toval, and Sharon jump from the Pantagruel onto the passing Courageous. And yes, both ships are flying in the sky. Later on, Class VII alongside Angelica jump from a bridge onto the Eisengraf train to rescue Alisa's mom who is held hostage, which started to move because the jaegers alerted everyone at the site that there are intruders.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Actually, a scene that made an implied one of these from a previous game even more awesome, while still leaving it offscreen: The battle between the Jaeger King and the War God lasted three whole days. It's revealed in Cold Steel IV that Rutger himself couldn't believe that he and Baldur actually fought for that long and wonders how they were even able to do it in the first place, implying that he knows that despite having some Charles Atlas Superpower, they're still humans who do need to stop to rest, eat, and sleep.
    • Another implied one: Sara holds the record for the youngest A-rank Bracer ever. Estelle reached B-rank before reaching seventeen by joining up at the earliest allowable age and playing a key role in resolving two national crises. Whatever Sara did to get promoted to A-rank, it must have been really impressive.
    • Another Bracer related one: Between II and III, Fie set the record for youngest person to ever make it to full Bracer rank. Which means that she beat Estelle, who joined up at the youngest possible age and then played a major role in thwarting a coup. If the guild branch leaders didn't give Fie extra credit for deeds she performed with Class VII, she must have worked really fast.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Averted. For those scratching their heads as to where the Noble Alliance get the steel needed for their Panzer Soldats, remembering that back in the Roer field trip, the provincial army blockaded the local iron mine from outside interference while secretly letting the Imperial Liberation Front operate in there. Class VII calculated that the steel that could be smuggled out as "waste" is enough to make hundreds of tanks. Guess where all that steel went to?
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In-universe, the gate of Lohengrin Castle slamming shut behind the party and a strange barrier appearing, preventing them from leaving, just as they realize that the castle is well and truly haunted. Out of universe, everything about the castle reminds one of Phantasma in The 3rd and the barriers are virtually identical in both form and function. Also, the bell.
    • Emma very visibly has this reaction on hearing Misty's voice over the radio for the first time.
    • Lloyd and Rixia have this expression when Rean starts bringing out the big guns: activating his Super Mode till it was interrupted by the sound of the device the former two were carrying, and Valimar.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: The final dungeon of Cold Steel IV, the Tuatha Dé Danann, takes place at the skies of Erebonia together with its own Salt Pales. The Five Salt Pales are the final dungeons for the guest characters so that Class VII can get towards the floating fortress.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: When you finally return to Garrelia Fortress and replay the section you play in the prologue, it's revealed that the railway guns' first shots are blanks to prevent firing accidents, giving Rean and the rest of Class VII a longer window to fight off the Imperial Liberation Front. Also, Millium is with you this time, and she provides exposition about who you're fighting that was missing in the prologue.
    • Ditto in Cold Steel III at the Juno Naval Fortress where players replay the section that the player plays during the prologue. It turns out that North Ambrian jaegers and Ouroboros have invaded the fortress and that the playable characters are present in order to recapture it. Also, Aurelia and Angelica join the cast during chapter three while they were absent during the prologue.
  • One-Gender School: St. Astraia, a prestigious school for rich girls. Rean's younger sister Elise attends and is good friends with Alfin.
  • One Last Field Trip: A more literal example than usual. At the end of Cold Steel II, with their time as a class together drawing to a close, Class VII gets one last free day to spend together and it goes like pretty much all of their other free days, starting with club activities and culminating with a final adventure into the Old Schoolhouse and a battle against Loa Luciferia.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All:
    • As with the other games in the series, SPD is by far the most important stat in the game, as it governs how many enemy attacks the character has to sit through before they get to go again. Fie takes this trope Up to Eleven, as her natural speed is already sky-high, and boosting it further will sometimes allow her to go multiple times in a row before her teammates or opponents get a chance to act.
    • EVA, with Fie, Sara, and Sharon. All three characters have a natural passive bonus to Evade, and it's quite easy to boost them all the way to 100% evade, in which case only Arts and a handful of special attacks in the game can hit them.
  • One-Woman Wail: Anytime there's a mysterious place in Cold Steel II, as well as Cold Steel III' and Cold Steel IV'', you can bet Aria of the Saint will be playing in the background.
  • The Order: The Eisenritter, a group of knights from the Legram region who supported Prince Dreichels during the Lion War 250 years ago. The Arseid family are the descendants of one of the leaders of the group and watch over Lohengrin Castle, which was the headquarters of the order and the seat of Lianne Sandlot.
    • Also, while we don't know much in the way of details yet, the Witches seem to be a more covert order. Emma describes them as 'the opposite of the Church' and she clearly knows much more about what's going on than anybody else.
  • Overranked Soldier: Wallace Bardias, Aurelia Le Guin, and Rufus Albarea all hold the respective ranks of Brigadier General, General, and Chief-of-Staff of the Noble Alliance despite all three barely appearing to have entered their thirties. While they are all far from incompetent, it's still jarring in comparison to Lt. Generals Craig and Vander (both of whom are middle-aged with adult children/nephews) who are both at more reasonable ages for their rank. Justified as all three are Nobles, with the latter being the heir to one of the alliance's leaders, serving an organization founded on the preservation and enforcement of noble privileges.
    • Also in the case with Claire and Lechter who are in their early-to-mid-twenties. Officially, they hold the ranks of captain (major come the third game) but seem the be the de-facto heads of their respective organizations. Justified by their ties to Osborne as his Ironbloods.
  • Palette Swap: A staple in Kiseki series, one notable instance in Cold Steel IV has Salt Pillars in the final chapter manifesting color-swapped copies of various bosses from this game and the previous game to fend off the guest parties:
    • Estelle, Joshua, Agate, Tita, and Renne fight against a black version of the normally blue Aion Type-Gamma II.
    • Lloyd, Elie, Tio, and Randy fight against a gray version of the normally black True Zoro-Agruga.
    • Angelica, George, Sharon, and Roselia fight against a gold version of the normally reddish Aion Type-Beta II.
    • Duvalie, Ennea, Innes, Xeno, and Leonidas fight against a black version of the normally gold Leviathan.
    • Aurelia, Victor, Vita, and Toval fight against red version of the normally white Aion-Type Alpha II.
  • Parental Issues: A significant portion of the main cast has some form of family trouble or another. Of Class VII, the only student with a completely normal family life is Gaius. Rean is mostly happy but has some issues stemming from his adoption and all the other characters are missing at least one parent, have a poor relationship with a parent or a combination of both:
    • Missing Mom: Elliot, Laura, Machias and Jusis all lost mothers, mostly to illness.
    • Disappeared Dad: Alisa's father died when she was young. Well, until Cold Steel III where we find out her dad is actually alive and aiding Osborne which managed to make it even worse.
    • Raised by Grandparents: Implied with Emma as she makes mentions about her grandmother (who is actually her clan elder, who she is not related to by blood) but never her actual parents. Crow admits to this in the second game as well. Millium sees herself as having siblings, but no parents, and looks to Osborne as a Parental Substitute, even affectionately calling him gramps. Musse was also raised by her grandparents.
    • Parental Abandonment: And Fie doesn't even have that much. She was orphaned, adopted, orphaned again, and then everyone she knew abandoned her at her adoptive father's request, as he wanted her to have a chance at a life as something more than just a mercenary.
  • Parodies for Dummies: Apparently, the in-universe equivalent is Tropes for Creepy Sheep, given that Machias and Rean finds a "Chess for Creepy Sheep" book during their bonding time in Chapter 6 of Cold Steel I.
  • Party in My Pocket: The series used to avert this, but this is played straight when the game took a leap in 3D where only one character shows up on screen to move around. Players however can swap around who is in the leading role however.
  • Party Scattering: Occurs between the first and second games. Accordingly, the first portion of the sequel involves Putting the Band Back Together.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Elise is a master of this, Alisa gets a few moments and every single time Olivert and Osborne are forced to interact with each other when other people are present, their conversations are riddled with this.
  • Permanently Missable Content: A recurring case in the whole Legend of Heroes series and Trails of Cold Steel is no different, there’s a mind-boggling amount of side-quests and items that can be missed, the games expects the player to really take their time talking to everyone again and again as much as possible in order to trigger hidden events, and these are all situational, meaning that if you didn’t talk to X character before to trigger an event with character Y later then you can kiss goodbye to that side-quest.
  • Pet the Dog: When Rean encounters some of Fie's ex-jaeger colleagues in a non-combat situation, they spend the time asking Rean how she's doing in school and doing a little Twerp Sweating (whether the player chose Fie for the optional dance scene in the previous game or not) on the side.
  • Playboy Bunny: The girls can look like this if you combine the swimsuit outfits with the Bunny Ear DLC accessory (Which comes with the tail).
  • Powder Keg Crowd: At the start of the game, tensions between the aristocracy and the commoners are at an all-time high and Prime Minister Osborne is fanning the flames. Celdic features a lesser version of this, as people are unhappy about the new tax measures and people are just waiting for an excuse to snap.
  • Point of No Return: The games usually give a warning to players that proceeding through the next event will make them lose whatever items a player can get during that time period though stepping into the final dungeon usually does that.
    • The first game's point of no return is completing the Realm of the Great Shadow especially if players didn't grind Rean to a specific level in the game before he solos the Final Boss with a brand new game mechanic.
    • The second game's point of no return is by talking to Towa just before rescuing the royal family at the Imperial Karel Villa. Talking with her to proceed locks the player permanently from anything in the world map and the only place they'll be explore much later in the game would be back at Trista and not be allowed to leave the place.
    • The third game's point of no return is entering Heimdallr cathedral where players talk to Thomas and Roselia.
    • Finally, the fourth game's point of no return is by talking to Olivert on September 1 onboard the Courageous II.
  • The Power of Friendship: The ARCUS system weaponizes this through the Tactical Link feature. Forging a strong link provides all sorts of benefits, such as the chance to automatically heal an ally when attacked, covering for another ally for reduced damage, or executing a finishing blow. However, characters that are feuding won't be able to form a link. It only works if they're friends, or at least are able to put aside their differences and find common ground.
  • Precursors: It is revealed in Cold Steel III that both the witch clan and the gnome clan were at war with each other back in the day. They've also created the gigantic forms of the Sept-Terrion found at Nord Highlands and Bryonia Island though both of the giants no longer have any power as both Fire and Earth Sept-Terrion have mixed together from the clash to form Steel.
  • Pretext for War: Because the Northern Jaegers ended up burning Celdic during the Civil War, Erebonian officials demand that Northern Jaegers compensate for their actions while the Northern Jaegers would deny that they've done the deed. As a result, the Northern Campaign ensues that ends with North Ambria annexed to Erebonia.
  • Prevent the War: A major part of Class VII's conception was to hopefully help bridge the gaps between the Empire's social classes and peacefully improve it from with in without having to result in bloody revolution. It fails as the first game ends with Erebonia devolving into a Civil War.
    • A major concern for the protagonists in the third game is trying to prevent an all out war between Erebonia and Calvard. Despite the best efforts of the new and Old Class VII, it went off anyway.
  • Private Military Contractors: As with all the past games, you have regular mercenaries and you have Jaegers. For the first time, the series really shows the difference between the two by introducing members of the mercenary group Bugbear, who are not particularly impressive when compared to Jaegers we've seen. The two most prominent Jaeger groups in this game are Zephyr and the Red Constellation, continuing to develop the plot from The 3rd through Ao. Fie's adoptive father-figure was the head of the former group before his death.
  • Product Placement: An amusing in-universe example: As Alisa pokes around with the engine of a damaged vehicle, the logo of the Reinford Group is clearly visible on the side. This reinforces her dialogue during the scene (naturally Alisa Reinford knows a thing or two about Reinford-made products) and to foreshadow the next my major plot development which is that the man staying at Lake Lacrima is her grandfather.
  • The Promise: Lloyd Bannings told Juna Crawford that "Crosbell has many trials awaiting it. But we WILL overcome them. Juna, I want you to fight and struggle to overcome your own trials as well. And if anything happens, I'll come running—I promise." Later, if you do one of her bonding events in Cold Steel III, Rean tells her "If you run into any problems, just let me know. I'll come running—I promise." This ticks her off that he's reminding her of Lloyd, because she isn't quite ready to accept him yet.
  • Promoted to Playable: Cold Steel IV has lots of characters that were either NPC or villains back then. The following characters that weren't playable from the previous series but are playable in this game include: Celine, Vitanote , George, Duvalie, Innes, Ennea, Xeno, and Leo.
  • Propaganda Machine: The rebels take over Erebonia's largest newspaper and start releasing press statements claiming that they are loyal subjects of the crown hard at work suppressing the rebellion, and that the loyalist troops resisting them are the real rebels. After the war is over, the paper starts publishing obvious propaganda on behalf of Osborne.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Discussed and defied by Crow in II when he explains his past and his motivations to Rean. He downplays his Freudian Excuse as "just another sob story" and makes it clear that despite the extremes he went to as <C>, he isn't trying to convince Rean that he was in the right, or even that Chancellor Osborne was necessarily an evil man. His insistence that Rean follow his own beliefs rather than just accept Cayenne's We Can Rule Together offer does work against him, as Rean escapes with Princess Alfin and ultimately undoes his, Vita's and Cayenne's plans, but he never seems to mind one bit.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The first act of Cold Steel II consists of reuniting Class VII (except for Crow) after they were scattered by the events in the finale of Cold Steel I. Gathering some of the other students from Thors is a sidequest that lasts for a sizable part of the second act.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • At the end of the second game, Class VII managed to put a stop to the Vermillion Apocalypse and rescued Prince Cedric. However, it comes at the cost of Crow's life as he dies in a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • The normal ending of Cold Steel IV features one as well. Rean and Class VII finally succeed in defeating Ishmelga, but it comes at the cost of Rean, Crow, and Millium sacrificing their lives to ensure that he's permanently defeated. The Golden Ending averts this however.

    Q - Z 
  • Quest Giver: Towa gives Rean all the non-hidden quests at Thors/in Trista as delegated Student Council work. Each Chapter also has one or two people filling this role while you're on field training.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Class VII starts off as this.
  • Rank Inflation: You accumulate AP within each chapter or part, and if you get the most, you get S rank. The lowest rank seems to be C because you're actually required to complete certain quests for AP in order to progress in the story. It seems that Game Over is actually the lowest rank because the theme that plays if you get a Game Over is called "Failing Marks..."
  • R-Rated Opening: The game opens with Class VII attempting to stop a group of terrorists from capturing the Railway Guns at Garrelia Fortress and using it to start a war. The base is full of the corpses of the soldiers on duty by the time the party arrives and one character remarks on the scent of blood and gunpowder. Players of the previous games know that while Class VII will succeed here, the cannon they're trying to protect will ultimately be fired later and help start the very war they were trying to prevent.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Two very prominent examples at the end of the first game: First, after Class VII manages to disable a Drakkhen, Scarlet reminds them that she is in an armored machine many times their size and they are not, as her Spiegel effortlessly defeats the party, deflecting any attempt at damaging it in the process. Shortly afterwards, Rean piloting Valimar manages to disable Crow's Ordine... for about ten seconds, at which point Ordine stands up, transforms and Crow asks if a complete amateur like Rean really thought he could beat someone who had three years to learn how to operate a Divine Knight. Then he kicks Rean's ass.
      • In Chapter 3, despite finding and defeating the terrorists trying to start a False Flag Operation, Class VII alone can't prevent war breaking out, it takes someone with much more authority and connections than them to do so.
    • In Cold Steel IV, Arianrhod tries to switch sides...only for Rufus to suddenly appear and stab her in the back for trying to to so. Unless there's no way for outsiders to intervene, there's no way your former team will just let you go over to the enemy side, even more so if you are very high up on their ranks if they have as much as a shred of common sense.
    • After beating the bosses in the Infernal Castle during the climax of Cold Steel II with the exception of Crow and Vita at the very end, all of them state that they were holding back and turn the tide against the protagonists until their adult supporters save them. The protagonists are first-year military students fighting against warriors who have fought for decades. This isn't a Shounen in where the Adults Are Useless. It's a surprise the game even lets you win at all.
  • Recycled Soundtrack:
    • The piece played during the military exercise at Garrelia Fortress with the tanks is "Steel Roar −Verge of Death−" ("Roar of Steel - Life-Or-Death Crisis -" on Spotify and iTunes) from Ao no Kiseki, while the song Emma performs for the Class VII concert is "I Swear..." from The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC. The Final Choice from The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky The Third makes an appearance between Aki No Tsubasa as Osborne's theme, and Cry For Me, Cry For You (also from The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky The Third) appears as the song Towa's class performed in the previous year's school festival (and later as Towa's Arcus' ringtone).
    • This is far more blatant in Cold Steel II. Despite having a large number of new songs in the soundtrack, this sequel recycled a lot of music from the first game as a cost-saving measure. Heck, if you dive into the game data, (almost?) all the songs from the first game are included, regardless of whether they're actually used. Additionally, Cold Steel II also included the track Get Over The Barrier! as the battle music and Geo-Front as the level music in the during the Divertissement chapter, both from Zero no Kiseki.
  • Red Baron: A series tradition, continued here.
    • Lianne Sandlot: The Lance Maiden aka Arianrhod the Steel Maiden
    • Dreichels Reise Arnor: The Lionheart Emperor
    • Yun Kafai the Sword Hermit.note 
    • Victor S Arseid: The Radiant Blademaster
    • Olaf Craig: Craig the Red
    • One-Eyed Zechs Vander.note 
    • Professor Beatrix: The Reviver.
    • Vita Clotilde: The Azure Abyss
    • Sara Valestein: Purple Lightningnote 
    • Millium Orion: White Rabbit
    • Altina Orion: Black Rabbit
    • Lechter Arundel: Scarecrow
    • Claire Rievelt: Icy Maiden
    • Fie Claussell: The Fairie of the West Wind; aka Sylphid
    • Sharon Krueger: The Severing Chains/Eclipsenote 
    • McBurn the Almighty Conflagration, aka the Blazing Demon
    • Duvalie the Swift
    • Rean Schwarzer: Ashen Chevalier
    • Crow Armbrust: Azure Chevalier
    • Thomas Lysander: The Partitioner
    • Gaius Worzel: The Soaring Phoenix
    • Emilynote : The Blazing Maiden
    • Rufus Albarea: Jade Rook
    • Giliath Osborne: The Blood and Iron Chancellor
    • Toval Randonneur: Zero Artisan
  • Red Herring: Lots of them, at least half of them aimed squarely at everyone who has played Zero/Ao and which would go over the heads of anyone who hasn't.
    • It's obvious once "Comrade G" introduces himself as Gideon that the ILF members' letter codenames are initials... and yet <C>'s identity still manages to be well-hidden because there just happens to be a ton of significant NPCs whose name start with C, most of whom would be plausible as villains. Never mind <C>'s true identity being a playable character at that.
  • Redemption Demotion: Ordine is briefly playable in Cold Steel II, but has far lower stats than his boss version, to the point of being a Glass Cannon compared to Valimar.
  • Relationship Values: You can choose to spend free time with party members and a few NPCs to gain their affection and trigger a special scene at the end of both games.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Awakeners for Divine Knights can come back from the dead as long as their Divine Knights are still intact. To balance this, the Divine Knights are synchronised to their respective Awakeners' senses meaning that whenever it takes damage, the Awakener feels pain in the corresponding areas. This means that the only way to kill an Awakener is to defeat the Divine Knight itself in combat. It's also revealed in the epilogue of Cold Steel IV that if an Awakener has died before and resurrected thanks to his Divine Knight, he will die alongside it when they vanish for good as his life is tied to it.
  • Retcon: In Cold Steel III, it's revealed that instead of it taking place during the Epilogue of Cold Steel II, Rean and Thomas had the Black Records conversation after the rest of Class VII had graduated and left the academy. This is kinda justified in a way in that this conversation only takes place in a New Game+ in Cold Steel II if you complete the Black Records sidequest.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The first game has a lot of this, either replaying it after having beat it, or replaying it having beaten the second game. Among things, knowing the true identity of "C", as well as certain comments and meetings seen between characters who you don't learn certain things about until Cold Steel II.
  • Rhythm Game: Swimming operates like this, with the player alternating the pressing of two buttons to make Rean swim faster, with the beats coming quicker as he speeds up.
  • Rich Bitch: Patrick Hyarms is a male example. He's cut down to size by the even richer but slighly less bitchy Jusis, as well as by the definitely not rich Gaius. Later in the original game, he starts displaying some redeeming qualities. He's a lot better by the second game and by Cold Steel III, he has for all intents and purposes completely reformed, to the point of issuing an official apology to Gaius for how out-of-line he acted in the first game.
  • Running Gag:
    • Rean being mistaken for Alisa's boyfriend by the people of Roer. Can implicitly turn into Everyone Can See It if the player chooses to focus on Alisa's bonding events.
    • Meeting one of Class VII's family members, only to find out they're a member of the Board of Directors for the Thors Military Academy. First Jusis's older brother, Rufus, then Alisa's mother, Irina. By the time you get to Machias's father, Imperial governor Karl Regnitz, it hardly comes as a shock, at least to the player, though the characters are still pretty stunned by it.
  • Say My Name: The opening of the Japanese version of Cold Steel II has the other characters saying Rean's name repeatedly. It was determined this wouldn't work well for the English-language version, so it was changed to a selection of important lines from the previous game.
  • Scenery Porn: Nord Highlands are gorgeous and are treated as such in-universe as well. The greenery and flowers around Trista are pretty nice also and are often commented on.
  • School Festival: Thors holds one every year. It's the setting for the final Chapter.
  • School Swimsuit: There is a swimming club and associated minigame so these appear.
  • Screw Destiny: Attempted in Cold Steel III where the Black Records states that someone will kill the corrupted Divine Beast using the sword of the end and unleash the curse of Erebonia to the entire world. Class VII's mission is to prevent that from happening in the final chapter. Unfortunately for them however, not only did they horribly fail, but Rean ends up doing the deed himself and kills the Divine Beast with Millium as the sword. Played straight however in Cold Steel IV's Golden Ending where Rean, Crow, and Millium were supposed to die but someone behind the scenes made sure that they live by letting Rean visit the remains of the Earth Divine Beast and give him the Earth Cage to separate Rean from Ishmelga.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: A game-within-a-game example. When playing Vantage Masters against Professor Schmidt in the 3rd game, he uses a unique Master card you never have access to: the Sorcerer. It also has the fairly broken ability to create Magic Crystal cards at will. Aurier, the Bonus Boss of Vantage Masters (who can only be challenged if you have all 22 cards), also has an exclusive Master: the Paladin. Frustratingly, the Vanish spell card, which you can use, tauntingly states that it does more damage if your Master is the Paladin, despite you never having access to this combo.
  • Sempai Kouhai: Class VII gets a lot of behind the scenes support and teasing from a group of second-year students, Towa and Crow in particular.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: The "Cold Steel" arc was already an easy to exploit series of games but "Cold Steel III" adds so many new features that alone would be fine but combined make the game so full of ways to snap the game's difficulty in two that you have to actively TRY to get a decent challenge.
  • Sequel Hook: Much like the Crossbell arc before it, the saga ends with several major teases for future installments. Calvard is stated to be going through major civil unrest, and all of East Zemuria is implied to be undergoing unnatural desertification. Most of the mysteries regarding the other worlds beyond Zemuria are left unknown. Cedric joins Ouroboros, who announces the end of the Phantasmal Blaze Plan and the beginning of the next phase of the Orpheus Final Plan - the Eternal Regression Plan, which will presumably be the focus of the next saga. Finally, the Grandmaster herself makes her first onscreen appearance in the series, and ominously declares that only three years remain before 'the nothingness of all'...
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Duke Cayenne's real motivation behind founding the Noble Alliance. His ancestor, Emperor Orthros, was disgraced and deemed "The False Emperor." Cayenne wants to avenge his ancestor's defeat at the hands of Emperor Dreichels and become the real power behind the throne.
  • The Seven Mysteries: Being a school in a JRPG, of course Thors has them. Beryl asks you to investigate them for her. All have disappointingly mundane explanations, like the 'hole in the field containing a corpse' is just the place where students buried failing exams. Afterwards, Rean asks why she doesn't count the definitely mysterious Old Schoolhouse as one of the seven mysteries. She implies that of course it's included... in the real seven mysteries of Thors... In Cold Steel II, when the Reverie Corridor appears in the Old Schoolhouse, she tells Rean that he's fortunate to be one of the lucky few that gets to see the truth behind the 'eighth' of the academy's seven mysteries.
  • Sequential Boss: Cold Steel is in love with this trope and it happens at least once per Chapter.
  • Serial Escalation: First game starts with the protagonist's first day at a military academy, making it feel like one of those Japanese fantasy school games. By the end of the third game several people close to the protagonist is presumed dead with one confirmed dead, a bunch of Face Heel Turns and betrayals has occurred and the Big Bad has practically won and is holding the protagonist by the neck...
  • Series Fauxnale: Trails of Cold Steel II resolves many of the major plot points that were introduced in the first game's Cliffhanger ending, such as Crow's betrayal, the Erebonian Civil War, and even the situation in Crossbell. After the main plot is resolved, Class VII is able to successfully graduate without any pressing problems to deal with, and Rean is implied to have peacefully spent his next and final year at Thors without incident. When III does continue the story, it opts to do so after a significant Time Skip of one and a half years, by which time Rean has long since finished his education and is now an instructor himself.
  • Shadow Archetype: Patrick to Jusis. Both are privileged sons of the Four Families, are proud, are skilled with a sword and look down on Commoners. The difference is that one is a Jerkass with very few redeeming qualities and the other becomes a valued companion.
  • Ship Tease: Rean and Alisa get lots of moments of this. Chapter 6 also includes quite a bit of Rean/Towa teasing and Laura/Fie teasing.
    • Rean gets it with much of the cast due to Relationship values even some teachers.
    • Jusis and Millium. Jusis is always willing to entertain and dragged around by Millium despite how much he grumbles about it. They shared a dance in Chapter 4 of Cold Steel III. Extremely Harsher in Hindsight given that Millium dies at the end of the third game.
  • Shoot the Rope: Sara is unimpressed with Fie's cunning attempt to avoid the mandatory orientation.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A trio of villains consisting of a short-haired male planner, a hulking man with a huge weapon and a stripperiffic female mage, Gideon, Vulcan and Scarlet or Guruda, Gadis and Bammy? For extra points, the Imperial Liberation Front's motto is written in Latin while Guruda and co were aligned with the Romun Empire.
    • Another shoutout to Ys happens in the Chapter 3 free day if you happen to choose to bond with Laura and help her shop- she finds a Dogi strap attractive.
    • In chapter 4 of the first game there is a quest named "Made for Walking" which involves walking around in a new pair of shoes, a reference to the Nancy Sinatra song "These Boots are made for Walking".
    • Loa Erebonius in Cold Steel I is a massive one to the Gagharv Trilogy and one fans have been wondering whether Falcom would make ever since FC regarding whether there was a connection between Erebonia as the name of the Empire and Erebonius, the Spirit of Darkness in Cagesong's summon magic system.
    • The Panzer Soldats bear a great resemblance to the Knightmare Frames of Code Geass. The resemblance is enhanced by the fact that C and Zero apparently use the same tailor.
    • Vulcan states before the party faces him in Chapter 6 of the original Cold Steel that "better to burn out than fade away," which is close to a line from the Neil Young song "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)." ("Rock and roll is here to stay / It's better to burn out than to fade away.")
    • One book that is prominently displayed in numerous bookshelves throughout the game is a mystery entitled "Who's gonna die first?" by someone named Christie.
    • In case you haven’t already notice, a number of the dating achievements in the English version of the first game were named after popular songs. This continues to some degree in Cold Steel II as well, although not simply with dating achievements. The one for using Burst 50 times this time around is titled "Smells Like Team Spirit."
    • There's also the final set of requests from Prince Olivert in Cold Steel II. One of them is "My Jormungand Don't Want None," a reference to the line "My anaconda don't want none" from "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot. (The Jormungand is a serpent boss.) There's also "Ymir, Far, Wherever You Are," which is almost certainly a reference to "Near, far, wherever you are" from "My Heart Will Go On" by Céline Dion. (Love theme from Titanic (1997)) Another is called "Nord by Nord-east," which would seem to be a nod to an annual Canadian music festival, North by Northeast.
    • In Emma's bonding event in Roer in Cold Steel II, she mentions reading a book about "sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic." Or, in other words, Clarke's Third Law.
    • The "Red Moon Rose" books you collect in Cold Steel feature vampires. The collective name of their most powerful members? True Ancestors.
    • In the second game there is a quest called "I'll Make a Mech Out of You", a reference to the Mulan song "I'll make a man out of you".
    • Two of Rean's students in Cold Steel III are named Stark and Wayne.
    • Emma's bonding Trophy in Cold Steel III is titled "Emma Enchanted," a reference to the film Ella Enchanted. The one for Sara is titled "My Funny Valestein."
    • In Cold Steel 3, the end of the "Present Whereabouts" quest has Chammy give Cerberus Meat on the Bone.
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: In Cold Steel I, the seventh floor of the Old Schoolhouse just happens to open up on the night before Class VII's concert performance during the Academy Festival. The concert and festival in general nearly gets cancelled as a result if not for Rean and the others volunteering to investigate it.
  • Sigil Spam:
    • The Imperial Liberation Front leaders have the organization's logo somewhere on them: <C> has it on his helmet, Gideon has it on an armband, Scarlet has it tattooed onto her left shoulder and Vulcan has it on his shoulder armor.
    • Duke Albarea has his family crest or tapestries bearing his family crest on the walls of his manor every ten feet or so.
  • Signature Team Transport:
    • While it doesn't see much action in Cold Steel, the Courageous is intended to serve this role for Class VII. It even shares their colors. Played straight in Cold Steel II.
    • Cold Steel III has the blue military train Derflinger for the New Class VII.
    • Cold Steel IV has the protagonists alternate between Merkabahs 2 and 8 before ending up with the Courageous II as the latter's predecessor was blown up in the previous game.
  • Skirts and Ladders: During a sequence in the first game in the Sachsen Iron Mine, Angelica displays awareness of this trope by ordering the boys of the party to climb a ladder first, followed by the girls, who are all wearing skirts (and then takes advantage of it herself by following along behind them).
  • Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship: Almost everyone who uses a sword or a bladed weapon in this game will slash targets but never use it to thrust them.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Zoro-Agruga, the undead dragon that serves as the final (beatable) boss of the fourth chapter, appears to be just a monster that G calls up with his magic flute, but the Black Records in Cold Steel II reveal that in life, that monster drove everyone out of Heimdallr for centuries, was only killed by a Divine Knight piloted by the then-Emperor, and that the corruption said Divine Knight was exposed to by fighting it turned Testa-Rossa into the Vermillion Apocalypse, which played a major part in the War of the Lions and served as the final boss of the main game in Cold Steel II. Cold Steel III reveals that the corruption didn't even stop there. The Holy Beast of Earth, Algrest fell to the curse in it's attempt to contain the corruption, becoming the Nameless One.
  • SNK Boss: A comparatively mild example, and it's a minigame at that, but Vantage Masters in the third games has three opponents whose decks are quite literally stacked against you, Rutger during the main story, and Schmidt and Aurier in optional duels. For the former, you're allowed to play with a copy of his deck if you don't feel confident (winning isn't required, but gives bonus AP), while the latter not only have the strongest decks in the game, but have unique cards you never get access to in the third game. (See Secret A.I. Moves)
  • Snow Means Love: In Cold Steel II, after each of the dormitory events with Rean's chosen partner towards the beginning of the Finale section, the view cuts to the outside of the dormitory to show it gently snowing. If your chosen partner was one of the female characters, then it certainly means love. If a male character, then, well, a strong friendship at leastnote .
  • So Much for Stealth: Rean betrays his presence to Emma and Celine during an optional scene by stepping on a twig. He does this again in Cold Steel III while overhearing Claire and Michael's conversation.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The ending song "I Miss You" is set to an upbeat tune which is totally at odds with the scenes that take place immediately beforehand. This is deliberate since the lyrics also don't match the tone either but are very appropriate to the situation and Falcom does all its music in-house so the song was 'made to order'.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": As always.
    • Rean can cause a little trouble; it can be tempting to read his name as "Re-ahn", but the actual kana pronunciation is more like "Riin"; it rhymes with "lean", basically. It's clear what Falcom was going for, but the unconventional nature of the name catches some people.
    • Fie runs into the problem more seriously; looking at the given English spelling, you might think it's pronounced as in "oh, fie!" (rhyming with "pie") or, if you know a little kana, you might go "aha, it's pronounced 'Fi-eh', isn't it"? Nope and nope; the actual pronunciation is closest to "Fee", as in the sort you pay. This one actually does lead to debate as to how to best spell it, since going with "Fie" leads to new or casual fans consistently mispronouncing her name.
    • Place names don't escape, either; after five solid games of consistent spelling as "Erebonia" and "Zemuria" (when they do come up in English characters in the Japanese versions), all of a sudden Cold Steel is very insistent about calling the two Elebonia and Zemlya, respectively. This one is likely to be ignored by any future Trails releases in English, as the place names were already established as the former in Sky FC's English release.
      • "Erebonia" was actually later corrected on Cold Steel's promotional webpage... except the page URLs still have the "Elebonia" spelling. "Zemlya" persists throughout.
      • What's even worse is that it's not impossible that Zemlya was always the intended spelling, but between a decade of "Zemuria" being previously used and Zemuria appearing prominently as a word in one official English release, it's likely the term won't be "corrected".
    • There's also a little debate as to whether the capital of Erebonia is Heimdall or Heimdallr, even in official sources. This gets bonus points for the fun of trying to stack three l/r sounds together in Japanese (which the kana doesn't even remotely do, leading to the debate).
    • A particularly funny one involved one of the organizations in the game, as its official badge graphic read "Train Militaly Police". This one was caught by even the Japanese fans the instant it went live on the website.
    • Another hilarious one involves the Steel Maiden's name, which was spelled as "Arianload" in Sen III website. Fans quickly noticed and it has been since then changed into its original spelling "Arianrhod."
    • An ice cream stand during the school festival misspells Gelato as "Jelato".
    • With the game remastered with higher quality visuals when released on Steam, this issue becomes much more pronounced as previously low-resolution textures are now replaced with high-resolution ones and their text are far more legible than before. A lot of these were fixed with a huge unannounced patch that was released on October 11, 2017.
      • The above Train Militaly Police mistake reappears in a short cutscene outside the meeting room at the start of Chapter 4's field study, as well as some less noticeable logos inside the room itself. Jelato reappears too at Dreichels Plaza. Though most of the "Train Militaly" ones got fixed, a partially obscured one found on the floor of the room was missed.
      • In Chapter 6, one of the signposts on the highway actually spells Ymir, Rean's hometown, as Yumir, and the same mistake appears on the map of the train lines - the line from Roer to Ymir is the Yumir branch line. In the same chapter, the signboard for Roer airport spells the town's name as Rour.note 
      • In the final chapter, the mallet used for the Mishy Panic minigame actually has Michy Panic written on it. The background in the room also spells Mishy with a c, as does all the posters around campus. While the texture patch fixes the posters and the background of the room, strangely enough Durante missed out the logo that's part of the texture of the mallet.
      • And to complicate things even more, the "Ride-along Mishy" accessory is listed on the Asian Playstation Store as "HUG-HUG MICHEY"(yes, in all-caps, and one letter away from a Disney lawsuit)
  • Sphere of Destruction: Aion Type-Alpha erases Garrelia Fortress and its Railway Cannons from existence using one of these. The remains of the Fortress are seen in Cold Steel II.
  • Spoiler Opening:
    • The first game's opening spoils a couple of the game's more significant plot threads, such as Emma's link to Celine and, more notably, the existence of Valimar and the Divine Knights.
    • The second game's opening spoils where each of the party members is located (the first third of the game is spend finding them all), and Towa becoming captain of The Courageous. It also makes no attempt to hide a major Face–Heel Turn from the first game.
    • The third game's opening doesn't even bother hiding the fact that Rean fights with Azure Siegfried who is actually Crow, the Courageous blowing up, and Osborne with the Nameless One.
    • The fourth game's opening spoils new Class VII's S-Craft finishing off with Rean's final S-Craft in the series although it's a shortened version of the entire thing.
  • Spot the Imposter: At one point in Cold Steel II, Phantom Thief B kidnaps and impersonates a member of Class VII purely to see if Rean can figure out who he replaced.
  • Starfish Language: Airgetlam speaks in monospaced Cyrillic letters.
  • Storming the Castle: In Cold Steel II, Class VII storms Valflame Palace, which has been transformed into the Infernal Castle, to free Cedric and face Crow.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: Playing the games on the easiest difficulty allows players to enjoy the story while stomping on boss fights more easily than on harder difficulties.
  • Succession Crisis: The War of the Lions was a five-way civil war that was set off when the heir apparent to the Erebonian Throne was assassinated shortly after the death of his father, resulting in all his half-siblings going to war over who had the best claim.
  • Suddenly Voiced:
    • Inverted, originally, as many characters who spoke with voiced lines in the first game (Patrick, Principal Vandyck, S and V) have their lines as unvoiced text in the second game and only speak during their battles. Played straight, however, with Lt. Generals Zechs Vander and Olaf Craig, as well as Elliot's sister Fiona who are voiced in Cold Steel 2.
    • The PC Steam version of the original game contains over 5,000 lines of voiced dialogue that was previously text-only, resulting in this for certain characters. Among others is a Provincial Army Officer at the end of Chapter 2 with a Scottish accent completed with heavily rolled Rs. Olaf Craig gains some voiced dialogue in this port as well, and Patrick Hyarms is another character that seems to have a lot more voiced dialogue. The same is also true with Cold Steel II, and in some cases inverts the inversion previously described.
    • Cold Steel III has certain Thors students, now graduated, suddenly have voice acting, including Munk and Vivi.
  • Super Mode: Rean has one that causes his hair to turn silver and his eyes to turn red. He's afraid of what it does to him but Victor helps him get over his fear and tap into the power more constructively. He tries to do this during the final battle (with everyone suspecting that doing so will kill him) but fortunately Valimar awakens and gives Rean a second option.
    • Then after their fight appears to end in a victory for Rean, Ordine stands up and Crow reveals that it possesses a Super Mode he wasn't using. It's implied that all the Divine Knights have one of these.
    • As of the second game, Rean is able to properly control it after a heart-to-heart with Princess Alfin, though he learns the hard way he can only maintain it for a limited amount of time. This manifests as a brand-new craft called Spirit Unification, allowing increased stats, ailment/debuff immunity, and powered-up crafts for 3 turns.
    • In the beginning of Cold Steel III, he is no longer able to control it properly, which he tells his former classmates of Class VII happened ever since the Northern War when they ask if he's holding back. Later, Emma and Celine show up and use their magic to get it under control, allowing you to again use it at will at certain times. Then, Emma provides him a pendant which allows him to use it in moderation, even when she's not there.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Estelle and Lloyd play as this to Rean in Cold Steel IV, doing their own thing off-screen while Rean deals with the on-screen threats.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That:
    • In Chapter 2, Emma uses her special brand of magic to heal a wound Rean got while jumping in to protect Jusis and Machias from a monster they thought they had all taken down. Later, Rean comments on how amazingly well his shoulder feels, asking Emma if she used some special sort of medicine. She starts to say that she didn't, then... "I-I mean, yes, I did! I used a special kind of medicine I brought with me from back home. My grandmother made it by combining a number of medicinal herbs together, I believe..."
    • In Chapter 6, she recognizes the barrier sealing the party inside Lohengrin Castle, saying that she's always had a sixth sense about these sorts of things. Jusis mentions that adherents of the Septian Church have often been said to have strange powers and asks if she's with the church. She at first says that it's kind of the opposite, but then backtracks and says "You've got me! I've always been a big supporter of the church."
    • At one point, Sara has to leave for a while to help Toval with some bracer work, leading the students of Class VII to quip about her having a hot date. When she returns, Rean discovers her muttering about all the work that Toval gave her and asks her how her "hot date" went. Sara is at first confused, but then seizes upon what Rean just gave her, saying that it was great, with plenty of action.
    Rean: Yeah, I want to believe it, but somehow I don't think so.
  • Sweat Drop: This is seen quite often, pretty much whenever the characters are embarrassed or confused by something.
  • Tagline
    • "Rank means nothing. Skill means everything." - The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
    • "Peace is but a memory." - The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
    • "The legend of Class VII begins anew." - The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
      • "The embers of war are about to ignite."
    • "In a world ablaze with war, heroes must unite." - The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
  • Take a Third Option: What Olivier is inspired to do after the events of the Liber Ark, to the point that he plays the Thors Board of Directors like a lute in order to form Class VII, builds the Courageous and draws its crew from both the Nobles and the Commoners.
  • Tempting Fate: Practically everyone in the Empire shrugs off Crossbell's declaration of independence, frequently pointing out that while the city-state has enormous financial influence, it also has no military so they aren't a threat. This contributes to the sense of impending doom if you've played Ao and eventually it comes to bite the Empire in the ass when Aion Type-Alpha shows up to erase Garrelia Fortress from existence, right on schedule.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: When Sara drops the students into the ruins during Class VII's special orientation, Rean leaps in front of Alisa to keep her from being hurt when she lands. He succeeds but in the process, Alisa lands on top of him with her chest right in his face. She is not amused.
  • There Can Only Be One: The true plan of the Phantasmal Blaze Plan is that two Divine Knights must duel and the winner will absorb the Divine Core of the loser. Crow nearly gets absorbed by Rean before Rean stops this while Rutger and Zektor is absorbed into Rean and Valimar.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In this game, an overkill requires you to land a killing blow that deals five times your opponent's remaining HP. It's only a 10% EXP bonus, but it can add up. Because of this, it sometimes makes sense to drag out the battle a bit to weaken the enemy enough to have a better chance of landing the overkill. Later on in the game, a great way to get overkills is to use the "Burst" link ability, which causes all of your characters to attack every target on the battlefield. What's great about it is that they will continue to strike even when the enemies are already K.O.ed, which counts as an automatic overkill. Applied correctly, you can easily land large multiple overkill bonuses, as well as other ones such as Vanquisher (40% EXP bonus for killing four or more enemies at once), Unscathed (20% bonus for taking no damage during the fight) and Swift and Sure (10% bonus for winning within three turns). The only catch is that you can only get a max of 9999 EXP per fight, though this restriction is abandoned in Cold Steel II and the Steam version.
  • There Is Only One Bed: During the first field exam, there are plenty of beds, but they're all in one room, which makes things awkward given that the party is of mixed genders (And Alisa is still getting over the whole Thanks for the Mammary incident).
  • This Is a Competition: The first game has a rare positive example. Part of Class VII's curriculum involves field studies in which the students explore separate locations in the greater world of Erebonia, split into two groups: Group A and Group B. From the beginning, Jusis Albarea (son of a high-ranking Duke) and Machias Regnitz (son of a commoner governor) are at each other's throats and during their first field study constantly dog Group B with their bickering. When the two are placed in Group A for the second field study, it looks like it's going to be more of the same. Then, on the train to the destination, Rean Schwarzer cuts through their sniping at each other, pointing out that in the previous field study, their group got an E, which is a low failing grade on a paper exam. He then points out that the structure of their field studies is such that it places them directly in competition with Group B and asks if they like idea of losing again. Both express surprise at the idea of him being a competitive type, but admit that he has a point and concede to at least trying to work together and seeing the other's point of view. Of course, it's not all smooth sailing, but by the end of the field study, Jusis actually joins the group in rescuing Machias, who has been illegally jailed by his father, and the two form their first successful combat link.
  • This Is Reality: "Cold, cruel reality." This is the first thing that Celine tells Rean when he awakens at the beginning of Cold Steel II, wondering if he's dreaming.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Class VII somehow manages to go through an entire war without killing anybody - even when going through multiple hostage situations where killing the enemy instead of smacking them and expecting them to surrender would be a much more sensible way of ensuring the safety of the hostages (the villain invariably doubles down, requiring a Big Damn Heroes moment from an NPC to save the day). Whenever they fight human opponents, the most they ever do is knock them out. Even in the Panzer Soldat battles, there's only one casualty, and that was because the Soldat in question self destructed with the pilot in it rather than just stop working. Monsters, archaisms and animals are slaughtered wholesale, however.
  • Time Skip: One in Cold Steel II where the Civil War ends on December 31. Rean is then forced to go to Crossbell in February and he gets to go back to Thors in March. Cold Steel III takes place one year and six months after Cold Steel II in Septian Calendar 1206, six months before Crossbell's independence.
  • Title Drop: One that adds context to the original title. The Finale of the second game is called "Forward, Relentlessly". (Which is also the name of the title screen theme) This turns out to be part of Crow's Famous Last Words.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Cold Steel III has the Dragon Incense item, which restores everyone's HP, revives anyone that might be KOed and restores your party's Brave Points which are used to issue orders that can grant powerful status boosts and other benefits. Sets of them can be purchased as DLC, but if you don't do this, there's only one or two available through treasures.
  • Too Slow:
    • In the original Cold Steel, Victor S. Arseid declares this after Rean activates his Spirit Unification power after losing to him and tries to come at him, but misses. Rean nevertheless manages to put up much more of a fight against him after this (in the previous battle, his attacks always did 0 damage), but still ultimately isn't able to beat him.
    • In Cold Steel II, when your party storms the Sachsen Iron Mine, the jaegers that confront them are confused by Angelica's nun disguise and her declaration that the mine is the property of the royal Arnor family and not that of the Rogner family. As they finally begin to figure things out, Rean declares "Too slow!" and the party comes at them. You begin the battle with Single Advantage status, meaning that all of your party members get at least one turn before they get to act.
    • Also in Cold Steel II, when you party battles Duvalie and Blueblanc in the Infernal Castle, after the battle is over, Duvalie gets a second wind, declaring "Too slow!" and barraging your party with a terrifyingly rapid-fire series of attacks that would require desperate measures to overcome if not for the timely arrival of Toval and Prince Olivert.
    • Additionally, "too slow" is a common comment from your characters in battle if they evade an enemy attack, allowing them to counter.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The first and probably biggest offender is the original JP trailer for the first game. Alisa's surname was meant to be a mystery until The Reveal in Chapter 3. In the trailer, she flat out introduces herself with her full name, effectively leaving first-time players wondering why would she go through all the trouble to hide her name In-Universe.
    • The announcement trailer for the localized version of the second game, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, totally spoils a couple of the most major plot points of the ending of the first Trails of Cold Steel. Definitely not something to watch if you have not completed the original game. Ditto with Cold Steel III as the first few seconds already spoil viewers right away.
    • The third game's trailer also straight-up spoils that Osborne declares war on Calvard. Downplayed slightly in that it doesn't reveal why this happens. And particularly eagle-eyed viewers will catch a glimpse of the Courageous exploding in the sky, something that doesn't happen until the last 30 minutes of the game.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: In a variant, whenever Rean summons Valimar, everyone waits for Valimar to wake up and travel the distance (usually measured in miles) from where it was last left to Rean's current location and for Rean to get in before the fight resumes, despite the fact that Rean only does this when the party is cornered by opponents that they don't stand a chance against on foot.
  • Trap Door: In Cold Steel I, Class VII's first day at Thors has them falling into one that starts off the first dungeon of the game. History repeats in Cold Steel III as the same thing happens to new Class VII. Both times also include a boy and girl falling into a compromising position that results in the girl slapping the boy.
  • Tron Lines: Ordine develops these when Crow releases the full power of the machine.
  • True Companions: Class VII steadily becomes this over the course of the first game and have solidly become so by the end of Cold Steel II.
  • TV Telephone Etiquette: Nobody seems to say "good-bye" talking on the ARCUS unit. For example, when Instructor Neithardt calls Rean in Chapter 4 to ask him to swing by the lounge, he simply repeats his request at the end of the conversation and then clicks off. Rean even lampshades it at one point when Sara makes the same request...
    Sara: I'll be waiting in the faculty lounge. Later!
    Rean: Didn't even wait to hear my response...
  • Twin Switch: Vivi loves doing this in order to prank people. Her twin sister Linde, usually the butt of Vivi's pranks, is much less supportive of the idea.
  • T-Word Euphemism: While the party is exploring Lohengrin Castle, Jusis comments on how they're finding many odd mechanisms and ghost-like monsters. Millium, who has already been scared by the monsters, tells him to not say "the g-word."
  • 20 Bear Asses: The quest An Offering to the Departed in Chapter 5 requires you to go massacre a number of specific monsters (Grass Pom and Rose Shroom respectively) on the Ebel Highway to get 5 hearty powder and 5 clear gelatin for the quest. Though given that those monsters aren't the only ones to drop those ingredients, just the only ones to do so at that point in the game, it's entirely possible that you already have enough in your inventory from random encounters in previous chapters.
  • Two-Timer Date: Averted in Cold Steel II. The final character events actually revolve around having Rean meet with a classmate (or Towa or Sara) in the Class VII dormitory once he's done with everything else he wants to do at Thors Academy and in Trista. You can have him agree to meet with any character with whom he has sufficient compatibility with and has shared a fateful moment with. If, however, you've already had him agree to meet with someone, he'll just say that he'll call to cancel to break his date with the person he already promised the meeting with. Doubles as an Anti-Frustration Feature, since the game allows to switch as many times as you want until you're satisfied with your choice, or even if you just want to see all the dialogue.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: What the Divertissment Chapter really is all about with the protagonists of the two series, Lloyd Bannings and Rean, fighting against each other.
  • Uncertain Doom: Cold Steel III ends with the fates of several characters left ambiguous, likely being saved for the fourth and final game. In short order: Angelica is last seen about to be shot by George before the scene cuts to black, and Toval, Olivert and Victor are presumed dead when the Courageous is blown up in the finale.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: In Cold Steel III, you have to bet on a horse race to progress the story at one point. One of the horses, named Lino Bloom, is old and is retiring after this race, but is said to have trained hard for it. It has 10:1 odds. Guess who wins?
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: While still using a turn-based format and the basic mechanics, the final battles of Cold Steel I and several battles in Cold Steel II with Rean piloting Valimar operate on a slightly different system where you'll find yourself needing to target specific parts of the opposing mech, you have no Arts and counterattacking is Craft-based.
  • Unexpected Successor: Emperor Dreichels, the winner of the War of the Lions, started the war with the weakest army and weakest claim to the throne. In fact, under Erebonian succession law, he actually had no claim to the throne at all, since he was an illegitimate child born to a common-born mother.
  • The Unfought: Vita in the first game. The second game features Aurelia Le Guin and Wallace Bardias, two prominent Erebonian officers fighting alongside the Noble Alliance and are considered to be among the best that Erebonia has to offer. The two are never fought at all fought by the members of Class VII. There's also Duke Cayenne, the primary antagonist of Cold Steel II.
  • Un-person: Lloyd and Rixia's objective in the Crossbell side-chapter is to wipe all records in the city's Orbal network about members of the foundling anti-Erebonian resistance so that their conquerors will have a harder time tracking them down. They achieve a partial success. They remove the records and secure a backup copy of the originals to restore the system later, but Rean's fallback orders have him use Valimar to cripple the entire network, denying it to both sides, which makes the deletions irrelevant in the short term.
  • The Un-Reveal: Cold Steel runs on this trope, starting with the fact that major elements in the Erebonia Arc were foreshadowed in the ending of Ao so going in, everyone expected Cold Steel to be a countdown to particular events. The game ended more or less exactly where Ao did so most of the unanswered questions from there remain unanswered. Does Osborne survive the assassination attempt? Uncertain. What does Ouroboros specifically want out of the Empire? Next game. How did Lianne Sandlot become the person we know today? Sorry, wait for the next game there too. There are also plenty of unreveals from Cold Steel's plot alone. Where does Rean's power come from? No answer. Emma promises to tell everyone what she knows about, well, everything. She doesn't get the chance to before the game ends, despite having about a week between promising to do so and everything going straight to hell. If you saw her dance scene, she'll apologize for this right before the game ends.
    • The sequel does answer several of these: Osborne's alive, Emma is a member of the Hexen Clan and Vita is a surrogate sister to her, and while we don't know exactly what Rean's power is, McBurn sheds some light on it. But in the end we still don't know what the Phantasmal Blaze Plan even is, despite Vita being defeated. Osbourne promises to "take it over" though...
  • Unreveal Angle:
    • In Chapter 6 of Cold Steel I, the camera is carefully positioned to not show who fires the shot that takes down the Imperial Liberation Front's airship because that becomes important later.
    • The first time we see Black Alberich, the camera very conspicuously never shows the top half of his face. When his full face is revealed later, we can see he has bright red eyes - the same as Alisa's.
    • The Sequel Hook finally reveals the Grandmaster...only for the camera to pull the same trick with Black Alberich and never reveal the top half of her face. However, sharp-eyed viewers can catch one or two frames of her eyes.
  • The Unseen: Marquis Hyarms, despite being the head of one of the four great houses and, thus, one of the most important figures in the Noble Alliance, is never seen and is only mentioned a handful of times (mostly in relation to his son, Patrick). Notable in that all three other heads of the four great houses all play major roles in the story.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Some of the Nobles qualify.
  • Urban Segregation: Enforced for gameplay reasons in Heimdallr, where you can only visit (parts of) less than half of the city's various Districts. However, there's very little in-universe that prevents anyone from catching a tram from Ost to Garnier and walking around, or vice versa. About the only thing you can't do in the areas you're able to access is loiter around the Imperial Palace. The guards don't like it when you try doing that.
  • Vendor Trash: Like the rest of the series, monsters do not drop money, they drop sepith crystals. But along with the elemental sepith that can either be traded for cash or used as currency directly to make quartz or upgrade orbments, there is now a new type called the sepith mass, which is only useful as a trade good that can be exchanged for money, which makes it possible to grind for money without complicating any efforts to upgrade orbments.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Territory of the Great Shadow, aka the seventh level of the Old Schoolhouse which houses Valimar. Despite being the final dungeon, it's not the end of the game, which continues for another two hours or so afterwards with several more boss battles.
    • Cold Steel II has the Infernal Palace. Again, it's technically not because the actual final dungeon is the Reverie Corridor, which the interior of the Old Schoolhouse transforms into. Even before this, there's still a side story and several additional scenes and quests before getting there.
    Millium: Okay, now THIS is a final dungeon...
    • Cold Steel III has the Gral of Erebos which is located below Karel Imperial Villa from Cold Steel II.
    • Cold Steel IV has the Tuatha Dé Danann, an aerial fortress that appeared from Osgiliath Basin, the site of the clash of the two Sept-Terrion which then formed the Great One, which then traveled above the skies of Heimdallr.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In Cold Steel II, if you choose to turn down the request for the final quest, helping Anton meet back up with Sharon, the choice to refuse is labelled, "See ya, sucker."
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Cold Steel is this for the franchise.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Between the party's first fight with <C> in Chapter 4 and the second in Chapter 6, the party has gone up about 20 levels while <C> has only gained one. Unusually for this trope, this doesn't make winning the fight easy, it just makes it possible.
  • Villainous Rescue: Well, for a given value of villain considering who we're talking about, but Arianrhod saving the party at Lohengrin Castle during Cold Steel I definitely counts.
  • Villain Team-Up: The heroes are caught off guard in Cold Steel III when they find out that Osborne's faction, the Black Workshop, AND Ouroboros, who would normally oppose each other, all team up to carry out the Crimson Twilight.
  • Violation of Common Sense: "Dodge-tanking", a special kind of strategy used against bosses and other enemies with high attack power. Instead of using high defense as with regular tanking, a character is buffed to 100% evasion by equipping orbments and accesories to 50% evasion, and then casting Insight (grants additional 50% evasion) on the character so, that way, whenever said character is attacked, they will automatically evade and counter. This is very often used with characters like Fie, which transforms her from a Fragile Speedster to a mob-control defender better than her Mighty Glacier counterpart Laura (and transforms the latter as well into another extremely powerful attacker).
  • Voice Grunting: The game has a lot of voice acting and there's plenty of Calling Your Attacks, but this doesn't stop this from being used a fair amount in battles, probably as a stylistic choice. Rean tends to do it a fair amount, particularly when using his Spirit Unification ("ogre power"). Angelica is another character that does it a fair bit.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Asked of Crow at the end of the game. He has to pause for a second before answering that yes, it was a lie. Rean still isn't buying it and believes that at least some of their friendship was genuine. One ass-kicking later and the game ends before anything more can come of this.
  • Warmup Boss: Iglude Gahmr, the gargoyle. Unusually for this trope, it has two phases.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: The railway guns are incredibly powerful and can strike just about any point in Crossbell from their location in Garrelia Fortress, but their sheer size makes it virtually impossible to move them anywhere else, which means that the only thing the guns can be used for is to threaten/strike at Crossbell, a minor power which poses no military threat to Erebonia. The implications of this caused the man who designed them to resign from the Reinford Corporation after they were installed.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: When Rean and Princess Alfin are escaping from the Pantagruel in Cold Steel II, Princess Alfin has no weapon, but access to a good complement of healing and offensive arts as well as your full item inventory. Despite this, if Rean falls, it's an immediate Game Over.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Cold Steel IV reveals that Osborne's ultimate goal was to break the curse of Erebonia, which in all is a noble cause. Unfortunately, his plan to do this involves starting wars with neighboring nations and disregards any casualties of the citizens of the Erebonian empire and the nations he is going to war with.
  • We Need a Distraction: In Cold Steel IV, Orchis Tower is emitting a giant pillar of light that the party needs to get rid of. Their plan is for the Liberl and Crossbell crew to host an event at Arc-En-Ciel while Rean and selected members of his team go through Orchis Tower and shut it down. Then Vita and Bleublanc join in the fun at Arc-En-Ciel while the show is going on.
  • Wham Episode: The entire ending of Cold Steel I is this. Crow is revealed to be "C", Chancellor Osborne is shot, civil war breaks out, Trista is invaded, and Rean is forced to flee for his life as his classmates buy time for him by holding off Crow and the Azure Knight. The finale of Cold Steel II doubles as another as Crow dies and its revealed that Rean's biological father is Giliath Osborne. And the less said about Cold Steel III's ending the better. While Cold Steel IV did end on a happy note, the Grandmaster has finally made an appearance in person and has declared that the Phantasmal Blaze Plan is finally finished and is authorizing the third phase of the plan. This despite the fact that they never managed to obtain the Fire, Mirage, and Earth Sept-Terrion (in fact all three have disappeared), suggesting that they have a different goal in mind other than collecting the Sept-Terrion.
  • Wham Line: The final chapter has a long string of them, starting with this one. (Though the player is likely to have figured it out just before this line is said.)
    Millium: It's part of my mission. The most important part, actually. If only I'd caught on a little sooner... But considering he managed to outwit Claire, Lechter and even Gramps... I suppose Crow's earned this victory.
    • In Cold Steel IV, in what is perhaps the first time it has happened in the franchise, after obtaining The Hero Dies ending, the game instructs the players to make a clear save and load the save file to do the hidden sidequest only available after beating the game once to change the outcome of the ending of the game. Needless to say, this has become a prime breeding ground for speculation for the next arc.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In the "Divertissement" chapter of Cold Steel II, the scene opens with Calvard Republic missile trucks and airships in a battle against Erebonia's Achtzehn heavy tanks, with the Erebonians losing. Then Panzer Soldats arrive and begin fighting alongside the Achtzehns. Considering that the Imperial Army kept control of all the tanks during the civil war (the Noble Alliance only used Soldats and armored cars), this shot immediately signifies that the civil war is definitely over. Then, out of nowhere, Valimar arrives on-scene and wipes out the remaining Republican forces with one attack.
    • A slightly meta example, but in the third game (provided you're playing on PlayStation 4), the "gameplay recording paused because you entered blocked scene" popup appears before a seemingly innocuous scene where Angelica visits a graveyard. This is your first clue that shit's about to hit the fan.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Class VII is given until midnight to complete their Old Schoolhouse investigation. Unless most other instances, however, this is just a given deadline because if they were in there much longer, they wouldn't get enough sleep to be able to reasonably perform for the school festival. In fact, they end up emerging from the final trial at 12:20, but this is allowed to slide.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The ending of Cold Steel IV has one long one.
  • Where It All Began:
    • The first game begins and ends in Trista and the first dungeon is also the final dungeon.
    • Played with in the series as a whole. Reclaiming Trista from the Noble Alliance isn't the final step in Class VII's quest to stop the war - that would be the capital Heimdallr - but it is the penultimate step, and what most of they and the Courageous's crew feel is their main goal in the conflict. In addition, the Bonus Dungeon in the Epilogue is in Trista (and it, too, is the first game's first dungeon, albeit with a rather significant makeover.
  • With Due Respect: After Sara outlines the basic details of Class VII at the start of the first game, Machias informs her...
    Machias: And with all due respect, instructor, it's ludicrous to intermix nobles and commoners like this!
  • With Us or Against Us: Duke Cayenne believes that all Nobles should be part of the Noble faction by default, despite the fact that many members of the lesser nobility (Including Rean and Laura's fathers) disapprove of the goals and conduct of the Four Great Houses that lead said faction. He isn't above issuing open threats to try to convince said lesser nobles to align themselves with the Great Houses over the Imperial Government either.
  • The Worf Effect: Happens at the end of Chapter 1 of the third game. To show how powerful Rutger's Divine Knight is, it effortlessly decapitates the Humongous Mecha boss you just beat (which Valimar needed backup to even barely win against), before impaling and obliterating the rest of its body for good measure.
  • World of Badass: Just note how many people are noted to be legendary warriors worthy of a badass nickname: the Radiant Blademaster, the Purple Lightning, Craig the Red, One-Eyed Zechs, Neidhardt the Mighty, Duvalie the Swift, the Phantom Thief, the Azure Chevalier...
  • Written by the Winners: Duke Cayenne's main motivation is his resentment over how one of his ancestors is remembered by history because of this trope.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Since Yaoi Genre's popularity is stated multiple times to grow amongst Erebonians, it's not surprising to see a bunch of them here. Particularly notable people are:
    • Dorothee, the president of the Literature Club. She immediately latches on to the idea of Jusis and Machias as a couple and her writing for the Festival plays on that. When Machias' neighbors stop by the club room, they have absolutely no idea how to react to that. In Cold Steel II, she pines away for her precious books, which she considers akin to treasure, and is on cloud nine when reunited with her library at Thors.
    • Alfin Reise Arnor, Cedric's twin sister of the Imperial Family. She has no hesitation on supporting the idea of Rean and Crow being together or teasing Rean particularly on on the whole Boys' Love subject. She refers to the genre as "...the sort that fills young maidens' hearts with joy and heads with dreams.".
    • Elise Schwarzer, Rean's adoptive sister, was influenced by Alfin as consequence.
  • You Are Not Alone: In Cold Steel II, Rean really starts to feel the burden of being the Ashen Awakener and is reminded more than once that he's not alone; that he has the support of Class VII and everyone else he's come to know and appreciate at Thors Academy.
  • You Are Not Ready: In Cold Steel III, after Rean and his new Class VII only barely manage to scrape by against the Steel Maiden Arianrhod, her Stahlritter, and their new Aion, the Azure Siegfried (who carries the appearance and voice of supposedly dead classmate/enemy Crow Armbrust) shows up and warns them that henceforth they're going to facing off against powerful enemies, legends, and those thought to be dead, and that as they are they don't stand a chance.
  • You Can Talk?: Rean's reaction after "meeting the conditions" before the battle against the Spiegel and being transported to an alternate dimension where he discovers that Emma's cat, Celine, can talk.
    Celine: Yes, yes, quite eloquently, too. But that's not important right now.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: As revealed in the Black Records of Cold Steel III, there exists a prophecy that will happen in Septian Calendar Year 1206 (the year Cold Steel III takes place in) where someone will slay the corrupted divine beast with the sword of the end and the Great Twilight will begin. In fact, the prophecy starts all the way back from the clash between the two giants revealed in Cold Steel II's Black Records, the creation of the seven divine knights, Heimdallr's formation with the church support, Zoro-Agruga's presence, recapturing Heimdallr and Testa-Rossa turning into Vermillion Apocalypse via corruption, the War of the Lions, Salt Pale and the rise of the "unwanted child"note , Hamel Incident, the Hundred Days War with Liberl and Erebonia, the Azure Tree, and finally the Infernal Castle with one more step to go. Unfortunately for Rean, he ends up fulfilling that prophecy by killing the corrupted divine beast in his rage.
  • You Monster!: In Cold Steel II, the members of Class VII refer to Duke Cayenne variously as "monster" and "scum," first for using the Crown Prince Cedric to awaken the Vermillion Apocalypse, and then, when it's defeated, holding a sword to Prince Cedric's neck and trying to use him as a shield hostage to get away.
  • You Remind Me of X: In Cold Steel III, Randy tells Rean that he didn't think he'd run into "another baby-faced playboy here." Rean asks if he knows someone else like that and Randy tells him that "Yeah, he looks real young, but he's crazy tough... Every beautiful woman he meets becomes his fan. He's got pretty nurses, even a star actress after him." Rean says that he thinks he might know who he's talking about. Although it's not stated directly, it's pretty obvious that Randy is referring to Lloyd Bannings.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: One of the annoying abilities possessed by the boss Nosferatu is its ability to steal the soul of a party member, taking them out of the battle and draining HP from them. You can force it to release the soul by beating the boss up for a bit. Loa Erebonius can also do this.
  • You Should Know This Already: It wouldn't be a Kiseki game if this wasn't in full force. The most obvious example is that 'Olivier' is really Prince Olivert, which Falcom hasn't even pretended should be a surprise to anyone for years.
    • Beyond that, the plot of the game basically runs on countdowns to events foreshadowed in Ao and major backstory events are very briefly alluded to on the assumption that the player already knows the details and their significance, like the significance of North Ambria and what it means when the three higher elements are activated in a region.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: Said word for word by Sharon at the end of Cold Steel I.
    Sharon: The pleasure of being bound, exposed and vulnerable, is a thrill like no other. Would you care for a little demonstration? I'd say you won't feel a thing, but...that would be lying. (heart emoticon)

 
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Alternative Title(s): Sen No Kiseki, Trails Of Cold Steel

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Demanding, As Always

In the "The Legend of Heroes" games, the characters use the ARCUS like a phone, and like a phone, nobody seems to say goodbye. In the case of Professor Schmidt from Cold Steel III (Sen No Kiseki III), he can't even be bothered to say "hello," but then again, he has always been rather demanding.

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Main / TVTelephoneEtiquette

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