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The protagonists of the series, so far. From left to right: Lloyd Bannings, Kevin Graham, Estelle Bright, Nayuta Herschel, and Rean Schwarzer.
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The Trails series, known in Japan as the Kiseki series, is a series of turn-based JRPGs developed by Nihon Falcom. The series is the latest entry in their The Legend of Heroes franchise, and by far the most successful. Building on concepts developed earlier in the Gagharv Trilogy, the Trails series is a sprawling epic taking place on the continent of Zemuria. Despite being a sub-series in its own right, the series itself is actually divided into several arcs; each arc spans multiple games and takes place in a different country on the continent.

Thousands of years ago, Aidios, The Goddess of the Sky, gave humanity the Sept-Terrion, seven sacred treasures which granted dominion over the land, the sea and the skies. About twelve hundred years prior to Trails in the Sky, the cataclysm known as the Great Collapse brought about the end of the ancient Zemurian civilization. The Sept-Terrion were lost and a dark age descended upon the continent. Five hundred years later, the Septian Church brought back the worship of Aidios and restored peace to the continent. Then, just fifty years before Trails in the Sky, Professor C. Epstein made a breakthrough in his study of artifacts from the ancient Zemurian civilization, ushering in a rapid wave of industrialization known as the Orbal Revolution.

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The first arc of the series, Trails in the Sky, begins in the year 1202 of the Septian Calendar. It starts in the tiny Kingdom of Liberl, but later arcs take place in different countries across the continent, brilliantly weaving together purely internal concerns, international politics, military disputes, the legacy of the ancient civilizations, and those who seek out the relics of the past for their own purposes...

As the games all take place within the same general timeframe, characters from one arc will frequently appear as cameos and recurring characters in later arcs, and while each arc focuses on a new group of heroes, their storylines all connect to the same plot thread that runs throughout the series. This leads to a countless number of continuity nods and call-backs, and for later games in the series, they can be hard to get into if you aren't caught up. With music composed by Falcom Sound Team jdk, and an incredibly detailed narrative focusing on the characters and the world they live in, the series can truly be described as 'epic'. The series has also inspired a spin-off game and an inter-continuity crossover with Falcom's other Flagship Franchise, Ys.

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Every game in the series in Japan follows the [X] no Kiseki pattern, where Kiseki is a word meaning Trail(s), Track(s), Path(s), Trajectory, and/or Locus. It is also a homonym for 'Miracle', and thus every single title can (intentionally) be heard as "Miracle in/of [X]".

The series has also seen localizations in English thanks to XSEED Games, and later, (as of the localization of Cold Steel III), NIS America.


Here is a chronological list of all the games in the series.

The Legend of Heroes VI: The Liberl Arc (Sora no Kiseki/Trails in the Sky)

  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC note  (2004 in Japan, 2011 worldwide); PSP, PC, PS Vita (JP) and PS3 (JP).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC note (2006 in Japan, 2015 worldwide); PSP, PC, PS Vita (JP) and PS3 (JP).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd note  (2007 in Japan, 2017 worldwide); PSP (JP), PC, PS Vita (JP) and PS3 (JP).

The Legend of Heroes VII: The Crossbell Arc (Zero no Kiseki/Trails from Zero & Ao no Kiseki/Trails to Azure)

  • The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki note  (2010 in Japan); PSP, PC, PS Vita, PS4, and Switch. (Japan, Korea and China).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Ao no Kiseki note  (2012 in Japan); PSP, PC, PS Vita, PS4, and Switch. (Japan, Korea and China).

The Legend of Heroes VIII: The Erebonia Arc (Sen no Kiseki/Trails of Cold Steel & Hajimari no Kiseki)

  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel I note  (2013 in Japan, 2015 worldwide); PS Vita, PS3, PS4, PC, and Switch. (Asia).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II note  (2014 in Japan, 2016 worldwide); PS Vita, PS3, PS4, PC, and Switch (Asia).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III note  (2017 in Japan, 2019 worldwide); PS4, PC, and Switch.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV -The End of SAGA- note  (2018 in Japan, 2020 worldwide); PS4, PC, and Switch.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki (2020 in Japan, TBA worldwide); PS4, PC, and Switch.

The Legend of Heroes IX: The Calvard Arc

  • The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki (2021 in Japan, TBA worldwide);

Other games in the series:

  • Ys vs. Sora no Kiseki: Alternative Saga note  (2010; Japan-only fighting game crossover); PSP.
  • Nayuta no Kiseki note  (2012; Japan-only spin-off); Originally for PSP, later ported to PS4.
  • Akatsuki no Kiseki (2016; Japan-only browser-based gacha game); Originally for PC, later ported to the PS Vita and PS4.
  • Sora no Kiseki: Kizuna note  (Android and iOS, parts of Asia onlynote , shut down 31st October 2018).


Tropes applying to the series as a whole can be found on this page. Tropes involving the characters can be found in the story arcs where they first appear or are most prominent. Because of the degree to which the games are interconnected, spoilers abound so be careful which ones you highlight.

Not to be confused with the Tales of... Series.


Tropes common to the entire series include:

  • Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: Done sometimes to show that there is something very wrong with the speaker, usually conveyed in Japanese by means of random syllables being replaced with katakana. For example, some of the ghosts in the 3rd and people dying after using Red Gnosis talk like this.
  • Achievement System: From Zero onwards, the game will track what you do and give you these when you meet the requirements. You get Achievements for things like completing a Chapter, killing X number of enemies, maxing out your Detective/Academic Rank, opening all chests, finding all fish...
    • In Zero and Ao/Azure, every achievement earns points that can be used to unlock carryover bonuses in New Game+, as well as gallery modes, etc.
    • In the Cold Steel arc, it's just cosmetic.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: Intersects with Alien Geometries with the "Another Dimension" versions of the Tetracyclic Towers in SC, most of Phantasma in the 3rd, the eponymous Azure Tree in Ao/Azure, and the Realm of the Great Shadow in Cold Steel I.
  • Action Dad: Cassius Bright in the Sky arc, and Teo Schwarzer to a much lesser extent in the Cold Steel arc. Also applies to Giliath Osborne in Cold Steel IV as an "evil" example of this trope.
  • Action Girl: If she is a female character and is playable, chances are that they are this trope. And even if they aren't playable, there's a high likelihood that they are still a example. Considering the nature of the series, there are too many characters to have as examples, but some standouts are: Estelle Bright, Rixia Mao, Laura S. Arseid, Fie Claussell, and Angelica Rogner.
  • Action Girlfriend: Estelle Bright, from Zero onward. You can also do this in the Crossbell and Cold Steel arcs due to the bonding system.
  • Actually Four Mooks: Don't be fooled by the single monsters on the map. Once combat starts, its possible to face up to eight enemies at once. And not all of them might be the same type of enemy shown on the map. In fact, there are actually rare monsters that use this system to hide behind common enemies on the map, pissing off many players who want to complete the monster guide.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts:
    • Actually averted (though this is equally illogical at times) with items costing the same amount regardless of where you buy them or when in the game you do so. A Tear Balm purchased in Grancel in FC will cost exactly as much as one you bought in Rolent at the start of the game. Most of the time, the items you buy aren't manufactured locally and the ones that are are only sold in that location so there isn't much reason for the prices to be different. Why the unique items tend to go up in value with every new location on the other hand... although it at least some cases it makes perfect sense. If you're selling restored 1200+ year old relics incorporating Lost Technology, you'd probably charge more than for the gear your local blacksmith could make too.
    • It also averts Karl Marx Hates Your Guts; in Zero, for example, while you can't buy Honey Syrup in Armorica for cheap and sell it for a profit in Mainz (which you'd think would be logical since it's made in the former and the latter is a remote area that has to import everything and a sidequest actually makes a point of how profitable the stuff is when exported) you can derive a profit from your labor with certain cooking recipes that sell for more than the cost of the ingredients needed to make the items. You can also derive a profit from selling the fish you catch.
  • Adjective Noun Fred: It's common for cities in Liberl and Erebonia to be referred to in this fashion, such as 'Seaport City of Ruan' or 'Trading Town of Celdic'. Some places get multiple adjectives, such as 'Heimdallr, the Vermillion Imperial Capital'.
  • Adults Are Useless: Averted. It's true that the playable cast tends to be on the younger side (because they tend to be newcomers to their respective professions) but older characters are as effective or more, they just don't get as much time in the spotlight. Good examples include Cassius and Morgan in the Sky arc, Arios, Sergei, and Dudley in the Crossbell arc, and the entire Thors faculty in the Cold Steel arc, along with every named officer in the military in any game.
    • And even then, in the Liberl campaign, in SC and the 3rd more than half of the people who join your party are adults - the "teens and kids" are actually a minority of the playable cast. Even FC is "merely" an even split between the kids (Estelle/Joshua/Kloe/Titanote ) and adults (Scherazard/Olivier/Agate/Zin). It's only the Crossbell and Erebonia arcs that began to skew the cast younger - and even then, most of the "teens" in Crossbell, at least, are still at least of the age of majority and every party member is ostensibly a working professional. Yes, even Tio, to the initial surprise of the rest of the cast.
    • And then we have the original Class VII that starts their adventure as teens in Cold Steel I, but by Cold Steel III, almost all of them are adults and way more competent in their fields thanks to their experience. Rean, Alisa, Laura, Machias, Emma, Jusis, and Gaius are all 20 years old (the age of majority in Japan) in III (though Rean is 19 at chapter 1 of III and becomes 20 by chapter 2). Meanwhile, Elliot and Fie are getting there, being 19 and 18 respectively. Millium is the youngest of the group, with her being 15. Also, Crow is an adult as well, with him being 22 by Cold Steel III and IV.
    • This aversion is also somewhat deconstructed alongside the Kid Hero trope. Since most of the villains are very competent adults, the younger heroes are almost always outmatched by them in terms of combat and planning.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The Liber Ark, which managed to avoid the devastation of the Great Collapse by virtue of being sealed away in another dimension at the time. Said sealing was also partially the cause of the Great Collapse. When it's returned to normal reality, people are able to see firsthand what civilization looked like 1200 years ago, and it's pretty impressive.
  • Advanced Ancient Humans: The Ancient Zemurian Civilization that lived 1200 years prior to the game's timeline acts as this. The civilization is divided into seven factions, each of them given a powerful treasure from the Goddess called the Sept-Terrion. As a result, they possess more advanced technologies than recent Zemurians, though how they are "advanced" is different among one another due to the treasures possessing different powers. As example, the Aureole/the Shining Ring, the Sept-Terrion of Space, is capable of granting wishes, while Demiourgos/the Hollow Phantasm, the Sept-Terrion of Mirage, is capable of manipulating knowledge and perception, thus allowing to manipulate cause and effect extending into foreseeing future events around the world.
  • Adventure Guild: The Bracer Guild. The lore goes on to explain that they're a non-governmental organization that's allowed to operate among the nations who agree to host them. They do follow regulations, though: while they have legal authority to perform arrests, they are not allowed to arrest politicians, and they are not allowed to break any laws of the nation they're in while carrying out contracts. Due to the fact that they operate outside of the authority of the government, they're seen in a poor light by the military, as well as more influential figures.
  • Advertised Extra: In Hajimari, The Grandmaster is the main focus of the cover of the game. Trailers even show that she's weaving three different lights (supposedly representing the three protagonists of the game, Rean, Lloyd, and Rufus), and combining the three lights into one with her hand. In-game however, she only shows up once, in a special episode foreshadowing the future Calvard arc, talking with both McBurn, and the newly elected president of Calvard. Also those three lights? Turns out they represent the prequels for what is to come in the Calvard arc.
  • After the End: The first game, Trails in the Sky FC, starts 1202 years after the Great Collapse that ended the ancient civilization of Zemuria. The first five hundred or so years were pretty rough (and fittingly are remembered as the Dark Ages) but things have improved since then and the world has been in the midst of rapid technological progress for the past fifty or so years.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Glorious is large enough to contain launch bays for smaller gunships which are themselves capable of launching smaller manned craft. The Noble Alliance's flagship Pantagruel is all but stated to be the Glorious' sister ship and carries a full compliment of Panzer Soldat that can be deployed directly via a winch system.
  • Alien Geometries: Intersects with Acid-Trip Dimension with the "Another Dimension" versions of the Tetracyclic Towers in SC, most of Phantasma in the 3rd, the eponymous Azure Tree in Ao/Azure, and the Realm of the Great Shadow in Cold Steel I.
  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: Roughly 50 years prior to the events of the series, there was a history-defining technological breakthrough dubbed the "Orbal Revolution" brought up by Professor C. Epstein. Epstein managed to develop technology capable of employing a mysterious energy known as "orbal energy" to power mass-produced mechanical devices called "orbments". These contraptions could be used for just about everything: lighting, heating, communications, weaponry and transportation, just to name a few. As such, mankind never developed anything that could not be powered by orbments. This flaw was eventually exploited when an enemy created a weapon capable of disabling orbments, stopping everything on their tracks. Interestingly, it was then revealed that an old inventor had in his possession a prototype diesel engine that he thought could put to use during this crisis, thus demonstrating that there was some kind of progression paralleling real world developments before orbal technology rendered it obsolete.
  • All in a Row: How the party appears on the map in the first five games, before the shift to 3D in Cold Steel I.
  • All Swords Are the Same: Your weapons don't change appearance as you equip new ones, but since most characters have unique equipment, there isn't any crossover between Agate's large blades and Kloe's rapiers. Cold Steel I averts this and distinguishes between Elliot and Emma's Orbal Staves, providing some unique and some shared ones.
  • All There in the Manual: If the in-game universe wasn't complete enough, there are multiple Drama CDs, comics, game guides, and information books which expand on the universe further. This starts as early as the very first drama CD which retells events from FC. We have two conversations that weren't in the actual game but are pretty important, the first being a conversation between Joshua and Cassius after the end credits of FC, and then another conversation between Cassius and Loewe.
  • Alternate Character Reading: Played straight and played with, as kanji is used to explain the katakana rather than the other way around.
  • Alternative Calendar: The games measure time according to the Septian Calendar, which counts the number of years since the end of the Great Collapse.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Certain bosses and the Final Boss in each game are often fought in an entirely new plane.
  • Ambiguous Allegiance: One of the biggest mysteries of the series so far is finding out whose side Lechter Arundel is on. In public, he's the secretary of the Blood and Iron Chancellor, Giliath Osborne. However, he also has connections to Osborne's biggest rival, Prince Olivert Reise Arnor, as well as Princess Klaudia. Also, he has been shown working together in Crossbell with an known Calvardian agent. And then there's the mystery as to whether he is actually a member of Ouroboros, as he talks just like the 4th Anguis. His true allegiance is finally revealed in Cold Steel III, and it lies with Osborne to atone for the sins his father had caused, due to his father being responsible for the Tragedy of Hamel. And then Cold Steel IV reveals that he wanted to kill Osborne out of revenge for his father's death, as Osborne is the one who had him executed. However, the death of Millium broke him emotionally and made him decide to see Osborne's plans through to the end, thinking that he's come too far now and that Millium's sacrifice will have been for nothing otherwise.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: There are two names used more or less interchangeably in Japanese. Doll Weapon (in kanji) and Overmuppet (in katakana) which cover everything from small drones to machines the size of buildings. XSEED has translated this as Archaism in FC. Whether a new term will be coined for those machines that aren't 1200 years old remains to be seen. Cold Steel I introduces two new types, the Divine Knights (ancient machines whose nature is still mysterious) and the Panzer Soldats, which are reverse-engineered and mass-produced versions of Ordine, the Azure Knight.
  • Ancient Artifact: The ancient Zemurians left behind a lot of their technology and other relics and the survivors of the Great Collapse forgot what all those nice things could do in several centuries of chaos. All artifacts are thus Lost Technology by definition. Some can be extremely dangerous if misused, others are simply inherently dangerous, and a lot are simply black boxes. The official position of the Septian Church is that all Artifacts are theirs to keep hidden away for everyone's safety, although this is a fairly flexible rule as they allow people to study them. It was research into Artifacts that allowed Professor Epstein to reach the breakthroughs that led to the Orbal Revolution.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Ouroboros. It is heavily implied to have existed long before FC. Its true purpose has not been revealed completely yet, but the most obvious thing they do is collecting the seven Sept-Terrions, under their grand plan called the "Orpheus Final Plan", with Sky ending in them obtaining the Aureole, the Sept-Terrion of Space. Or, at least many players thought it was, until it's revealed that Fire, Earth, and Mirage Sept-Terrion are no longer obtainable by Cold Steel IV and yet the Grandmaster considers the Phantasmal Blaze Plan to be a success.
  • An Economy Is You: Generally averted, where every establishment you visit, from stores to street vendors, is a legitimate business that deals with customers besides you on a regular basis. There are many Bracers besides you who need to make use of the weapon shops, after all. Some sidequests have you testing new products before they go on the mass-market. Lampshaded when a shopkeeper in Zero explains that after he got a shipment of orbal staves from Tio's boss, he's stuck with them, and figures she'd better buy his stock.
    Gironde: Don't worry, though. I don't intend to sell these orbal staves to anyone but you, miss. Y'know, isn't selling them to me, only to sell to you sort of strange? I mean, I feel like there're better ways to go about that.
  • Animated Armor:
    • A large number of enemies encountered in the 3rd. Others are seen in Stargazer's Tower and Lohengrin Castle. All cases take place in spiritually active areas and their presence is explicitly supernatural.
    • Cold Steel I introduces several massive suits of armor that protect ancient sites. They're apparently mechanized rather than possessed but exactly what makes them work is a mystery to the characters.
  • Anti-Debuff: There are a series of accessories that prevent specific status effects. Some advanced ones can prevent multiple status effects, provide stat bonuses, or both. There are also some very rare accessories, generally received as an award for completing large numbers of quests (such as the Grail Locket), that grant immunity to all status effects.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: A few small, but persistent features across the series.
    • A subtle one many players don't even notice. With the Loads and Loads of Characters there are to talk to, it would be frustrating to constantly mash the confirm button like you'd expect in an RPG. Instead, holding down the button will instantly activate any prompts, even as you run through the overworld. This both streamlines NPC conversations and makes finding interactable objects much easier. In the Cold Steel games, the confirm skip is paused so you won't accidentally skip through dialogue, and is instead assigned to the cancel button specifically in conversations.
    • Notebooks aren't just used for flavor, they provide some surprisingly nuanced direction if you're lost. Not only are the current quests recorded, but many changes to the quest such as the next character to speak with, or what ingredient they asked for will more often than not be committed to text.
    • The series provides an option if a battle is lost to retry with decreased enemy stats for those who want to enjoy the story. The effect can be stacked multiple times per battle and enemies would only inflict minimal damage and have low defenses, though this doesn't apply to status ailments such as poison or petrification.
      • Speaking of dying, every battle will immediately start you back at the beginning if your party is wiped. While this can be a problem if the beginning state of the battle has you in an unwinnable situation, odds are there's a recent auto-save that won't push you back too far. The exceptions are specific boss battles, where winning under specific conditions awards bonus Points and dialogue, but losing will immediately drop you back in the succeeding cutscene. This marks the rare instance in a Trails game where you'll need to physically reset to try again.
    • At one point in FC, Estelle and Joshua have to reach a church without being caught by guards. If caught, the number of guards patrolling will decrease.
    • In the 3rd, while in the Hermit's Garden, the Orbment and Status menus grant you access to every party member currently available, meaning the usual rule of finding a character, letting them join, and swapping out Quartz/equipment is skipped.
  • Anti-Grinding: Monsters have levels, and the amount of experience gained from killing them is based on a formula derived from a monsters base EXP level and the difference in levels between the monster and the party. If you somehow manage to kill a monster ten levels above the party's, the party will gain an enormous amount of EXP that will allow the party to rapidly catch up to the level it should be at for that part of the game. Kill a monster ten levels below the party's and they'll get virtually nothing.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • The Great Collapse was a continent-wide (if not worldwide) one which ended the golden age brought about by the Sept-Terrion and set civilization back to bronze age tech levels.
    • Relatively more recently is the Salt Pale Incident which caused the near-total collapse of North Ambria which still hasn't recovered and probably never fully will.
    • By the end of Cold Steel IV, Zemuria escaped one, by Ishmelga presumably being destroyed. However, the Grandmaster of Ouroboros says that they simply delayed the inevitable, because another one is going to happen in 3 years.
  • Appropriated Title: Falcom's Dragon Slayer series went through it thee or four times. The second game in the series was called Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu. Then, Xanadu became a title for its own series, but "Dragon Slayer" series continued. Then, two series merged again, in a game titled Dragon Slayer VIII: The Legend of Xanadu, while its sequel, The Legend of Xanadu II, finally dropped the Dragon Slayer title for good.
    • The third time cames from Dragon Slayer VI, that had the subtitle The Legend of Heroes. The sequel, Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II, Stopped Numbering Sequels, and the Gagharv Trilogy stopped using "Dragon Slayer" altogether. The Trails Series still uses The Legend of Heroes title, but Nayuta no Kiseki dropped it, if only for one game.
  • A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: These are the protagonists of their respective arcs: Estelle Bright in the Liberl arc, Lloyd Bannings in the Crossbell arc, and Rean Schwarzer in the Erebonia arc. The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki later adds the masked individual 《C》, who is the leader of the New Imperial Liberation Front. It is later revealed that C is actually RUFUS ALBAREA!
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Oh Aidios, you can be disaster incarnate but the protagonists think only four active members are enough for the Final Boss while the others can go sit in the corner and Pass the Popcorn. As listed:
    • The Sky trilogy only allows four members at a time. By the time you are in their respective final dungeons you have access to 8 and 12 members respectively. In the 3rd, it subverts this by separating the 16 strong line-up by forcing Kevin and Ries to only pick two others with them in the final dungeon while the other 12 split into three groups of four. If one party loses, everyone else loses as well.
    • The Crossbell arc only has four active party members active at a time. However, they now have the option to bring two support members along. These members occasionally assist albeit with Support Crafts and you cannot switch with them during combat. However, in the climax of Ao/Azure, you have access to 8 members in total, meaning that you have to leave two party members behind. Looks like having that large box for the experience gauge backfired, didn't it?
    • Played with as of Cold Steel, thanks to the Combat Link system, you can switch freely with your two support members on top of your four active members. Or in rare occasions, three or four support members if the plot permits usually due to a second Required Party Member. However, you have access to over 10 party members, meaning that at least three and above members are benched constantly. However, some situations avert this by forcing you to use all members, only in different separate phases like the Vermillion Apocalypse in II, True Zoro-Agruga in III and Giliath Osborne in IV.
    • Hajimari gives players a whopping 40 playable characters in the main story with an additional 11 playable characters at the True Reverie Corridor. In battle however, players are only allowed four characters in the main party, four in support and two characters in the EXTRA slot if players have unlocked this option. This isn't an issue when the three routes (Rean, Lloyd, and 《C》) are split but becomes an issue when the three routes converge.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: Ancient Zemurian technology is more advanced than that of the present day so acquiring some is a priority for most major powers. The conspirators in FC want Aureole as a Sword of Damocles, the conspirators in Crossbell want Demiourgos to reclaim the power their ancestors once had, and the end of Cold Steel I suggests one of these is going to happen regarding the mysterious Divine Knights.
    • It turns out that every single time this happens, Ouroboros is pulling the strings because it wants to obtain the most powerful artifacts of all, the seven Sept-Terrions. We don't know why yet, aside from a single allusion to something called the Orpheus Final Plan.
    • The Septian Church has an order dedicated to preventing this from happening, by investigating ancient ruins and generally preventing the misuse of Artifacts. This is the source of their more recent conflicts with Ouroboros, as the Gralsritter, at this point, are doing everything short of pure open warfare to stop Ouroboros from gathering the Sept-Terrion - and if Ouroboros keeps succeeding, it may just come to open war.
  • Arc Number: Seven. The Septian Church, seven types of Septium (and Arts), seven official Bracer Ranks, seven Sept-Terrion, seven Anguis of Ouroboros, seven planes of Phantasma, Class VII, seven floors of the Old Schoolhouse, seven Divine Knights...
  • Arc Villain: While there does exist an Overarching Villain in the form of the Society of Ouroboros, each game has a different primary antagonist the heroes have to deal with:
    • Trails in the Sky FC: Col. Alan Richard, whose actions were influenced by "Professor Alba".
    • Trails in the Sky SC: The 3rd Anguis of Ouroboros, Georg Weissmann, who is the true identity of "Professor Alba", as revealed at the end of FC.
    • Trails in the Sky the 3rd: The Lord of Phantasma, Which actually is a manifestation of both Kevin's negative Stigma energy and his guilt over Rufina's death.
    • Zero no Kiseki/Trails from Zero: At first, it seems to be Revache and Co. The true villain is the current high priest of the D∴G Cult, Joachim Guenter.
    • Ao no Kiseki/Trails to Azure: Dieter Crois, of all people turns out to be one... initially. Then it turns into a Big Bad Triumvirate, consisting of Dieter's daughter Mariabell Crois, Ian Grimwood, and Arios MacLaine. And then there's Ouroboros working behind the scenes...
    • Trails of Cold Steel I: The Imperial Liberation Front led by a masked man calling himself C. His true identity is Crow Armbrust, who was one of the party members and a member of Class VII before The Reveal.
    • Trails of Cold Steel II: Duke Cayenne seems to be one at first, but it's shown that he's nowhere near as competent as he thinks he is. The true Big Bad is Vita Clotilde, the 2nd Anguis of Ouroboros (who interestingly enough, seems to be way more sympathetic than Cayenne by virtue of being an Affably Evil Graceful Loser). The final reveal consists of Chancellor Giliath Osborne, who seems to have survived his assassination attempt, though he's not an enemy quite yet...
    • Trails of Cold Steel III: After all the build-up, we get a Big Bad Duumvirate in form of Chancellor Giliath Osborne and Black Alberich, chief of the Gnomes and head of the Black Workshop.
    • Trails of Cold Steel IV -The End of Saga-: Ishmelga, Osborne's Divine Knight, who is the one behind the curse of Erebonia, and is the largest fragment of the Great One.
    • Hajimari no Kiseki: Ishmelga, resurrected as a simulation of Cold Steel IV's Normal Ending, through Project BABEL and Elysium.
  • Artifact Collection Agency: One of the Septian Church's duties involves collecting artifacts from the ancient Zemurians and keeping them from the hands of those who would misuse them (particularly Ouroboros.)
  • Attack Drone: The Alpha and Beta Drones Reverie can summon sort of work like this and the Forecep L and R units can separate and act like big drones (in fact, they're first seen operating independently). The Tactical Pod line of enemies also function like this on a personal level, starting with the prototypes used by Weissmann which then reappear in Cold Steel. Early designs of Tio were going to feature these as well as detachable parts of her armor. In the end, they were removed, though her Eidolon Gear does incorporate a pair.
  • Auto-Revive: The Puppet line of accessories, as well as the 'Angel' Master Quartz in Cold Steel, permit the character to revive after death with a percentage of HP, EP and CP restored. The accessories are single-use, the Master Quartz has a per-battle limit. This is also a power of Ao/Azure's final boss; its first form will revive if you haven't killed all its support units.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Lots of characters, starting with Leonhardt (but call him Loewe) whose awesome name is commented on by the characters... and once you move past the obviously meaningful names you get ones that are just plain cool like Arios MacLaine, Wazy Hemisphere, Rean Schwarzer, or Gaius Worzel.
  • Background Music Override: The series loves doing this, mostly in endgame areas.
    • In Sky FC, Recapture plays on a continuous loop at Erbe Royal Villa, during the attempt to rescue Princess Klaudia.
    • In Trails in the Sky SC, it happens again while Estelle escapes from the Glorious.
    • In Trails in the Sky the 3rd, it happens again in the Castle of Illusions, Phantasmagoria.
    • In Trails of Cold Steel I, it occurs during the In Medias Res opening sequence and later, much more extensively when you replay that sequence in much more detail in Chapter 5, as well as a lot of times in the last 3 chapters.
  • Badass Baritone: Chancellor Giliath Osborne has a very deep and commanding voice provided by both Joji Nakata in the Japanese version and Peter Beckman in the English version. Cold Steel IV shows off his badassery and players start crapping their pants and realize that he has enough power to end the series if he really wanted to.
  • Badass Preacher: All Gralsritter, by definition.
  • Bag of Spilling: All the gear, quartz, recipes and healing items you painstakingly earned? They will always disappear in the Immediate Sequel. Even Crafts and S-Crafts aren't safe from being wiped from older characters' libraries whenever they return in later arcs. This was even lampshaded in SC, in which the newer model of the battle orbment has an extra slot while also having no backwards compatibility for all the quartz you earned in FC, rendering them useless.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Happens extremely often. In fact, Cold Steel III has a song that mainly plays for these moments, Sword of Biting Gale.
  • Black Box: Exactly how Artifacts work is usually a complete mystery and several characters even call them Black Boxes. The most prominent example is the Sept-Terrion, which can explicitly cause 'miracles' but nobody understands how. Except maybe the Grandmaster, if you assume that she is Aidios. Ouroboros is better at figuring out Artifacts than anyone else, judging by the fact that they have managed to A) Copy and improve upon known Ancient Zemurian creations from non-functioning examples (Traumerei Dragion), B) Create copies of Artifacts known only through descriptions which are close enough to the original to fool the original (the Gospels) and C) Indirectly recreate a Sept-Terrion, granted, the person responsible of recreating and improving it finished the work before actually becoming a member of Ouroboros, but still.
  • Boss Bonanza: The series throws a bonanza of boss battles in each game for the Final Dungeon. As the group of heroes traverse through the final area, they'll fight against the various antagonists they fought, leading to the final fight.
  • Bowdlerise: It's noted that from Cold Steel I onwards, Crafts and especially S-Crafts in the remakes of older games along with newer installments will replace blood spilling with either sword flashes or explosions. Case in point when comparing Richard's Afterglow Smasher between FC and FC Evolution, along with Randy's Berserker in Ao/Azure and Cold Steel IV.
    • That being said, Ash's S-Craft, Belial Raid, is completely unambiguous about how bloody the attack is supposed to be, so this is inconsistent at best.
  • Calling Card: Phantom Thief B (aka Bleublanc, Enforcer No. X of Ouroboros) likes to leave these at the scene of his crimes, with similar cards left in a sequence for the protagonists to follow.
  • Calling Your Attacks: As the franchise goes on, people will start calling S-Crafts more often than not. This doesn't happen to casting orbal arts though.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: This sticks throughout all the games, only occasionally changing protagonists at certain chapters.
    • Estelle for FC and SC.
    • Kevin for the 3rd.
    • Lloyd for both Zero and Ao/Azure.
    • Rean for Cold Steel.
    • Lloyd, Rean, and 《C》 for Hajimari.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Ubiquitous in the series is a Craft which sacrifices HP in return for CP. Each arc has one character with this ability, coming in two levels. The first sacrifices 30% of maximum HP for 50-60 CP, the second (obtained in the second game) sacrifices a whopping 70% of max HP for 150 CP. This makes it very easy to accidentally kill yourself if you're not careful, in return for being able to spam Crafts like crazy. Later games nerfed the level two HP for CP Craft so that the character only got 90 CP, preventing players from defeating a boss by trading HP for CP, casting an S-Craft, and then having the rest of the party heal that one character so he can do it again and again until the boss dies.
  • Cats Are Magic: Well, not exactly but the Sunshine Agnes books in Ao/Azure feature one who definitely is. And which foreshadowed Celine in the very next game.
  • Changing of the Guard: It's practically franchise tradition for this to happen after every arc, or sometimes even within arcs. To elaborate:
    • The ending of Sky SC outright lampshades this in its Sequel Hook, with Cassius Bright stating that while the current crisis has been resolved, there will be more battles to come, which will be fought by other people.
    Cassius: No. Those battles are destined to be fought elsewhere, and by different people.
    • Sky the 3rd is the first game to feature a new protagonist in the form of Kevin Graham, originally introduced in a supporting role in SC. In a reversal of roles, Estelle Bright gets relegated to a supporting role for this title.
    • The Crossbell duology features an entirely new cast of characters, with Lloyd Bannings of the Crossbell Special Support Section becoming the new protagonist.
    • The Erebonia arc features Rean Schwarzer as the protagonist throughout, but there are still major changes in the main and supporting cast between Cold Steel I/II and Cold Steel III/IV.
      • Cold Steel I and II focus on the original Class VII of Thors Military Academy and Rean's student life and eventual involvement in the Erebonian Civil War. These titles run concurrently with the Crossbell duology until Cold Steel II overtakes it towards the end. Lloyd Bannings himself makes an appearance in the Divertissement of II.
      • Cold Steel III and IV focus on the new Class VII of Thors Military Academy's new Branch Campus, with Rean acting as their instructor and his eventual involvement in accidentally triggering the Great Twilight. Characters from virtually all preceding games return in various supporting roles, in contrast to the largely self-contained first two Cold Steel titles. Juna Crawford of the new Class VII even takes over as the protagonist briefly at the beginning of Cold Steel IV, when Rean has been captured.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki features a rotating cast of characters, with Rean and Lloyd returning as lead characters in their own scenarios. However, the true protagonist of the game overall is Rufus Albarea, as his Zero-Approval Gambit forms the central plot of the title.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: This has happened for several characters already and is likely to keep happening, particularly with Anelace's grandfather, since he's part of the backstory for so many characters.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Absolutely everywhere.
  • Chest Monster: Many chests are shown with a more foreboding design being marked as dark colored with trims. Opening one will start a battle with more monsters, defeating them all will grant a useful item.
  • Church Militant: The Gralsritter, an order within the Septian Church, tasked with collecting Ancient Zemurian artifacts. Despite its apparently simple task, a lot of its members' appearance involve them crossing paths with Ouroboros, thus requiring knowledge and experience in combat.
  • Cliffhanger: While every game ends on some form of a Sequel Hook, some games, particularly those early in an arc, end on a blatantly suspenseful note that practically begs you to buy the next title:
    • Trails in the Sky FC ends with Joshua abandoning Estelle to go off on his own after Professor Alba reveals his true colors as the 3rd Anguis of Ouroboros, Georg Weissmann, and that he'd been using Joshua as an unwitting spy all along.
    • Trails of Cold Steel I ends with Valimar fleeing to safety against Rean's wishes, while the rest of Class VII hold off the ILF contingent invading Thors Military Academy.
    • After Cold Steel II proved to be an aversion thanks to concluding the Erebonian Civil War arc, Cold Steel III ends in another cliffhanger as Rean succumbs to his ogre form and is captured by the Gnomes after unwittingly triggering the Great Twilight.
  • Color-Coded Elements: Goes hand in hand with the association between the seven families of Arts and the seven types of Septium. Earth is orange/brown (Amberl), Water is blue (Sapphirl), Fire is red (Carnelia), Wind is green (Esmelas), Time is black (unknown but possibly Obsidium), Space is yellow (Goldia) and Mirage is silver (Argem).
  • Combination Attack: Chain Crafts in SC and the 3rd, Combo Crafts in Zero and Ao/Azure and the entire Combat Link system in Cold Steel are made of this trope.
  • Conservation of Competence:
    • Very neatly averted with Ouroboros. Aside from one moment of Weissmann carrying the Idiot Ball and chronic Butt-Monkey Gilbert, everyone we see is consistently and extremely competent, which is one of the reasons they're able to be a convincing threat across the entire series.
    • This is also what cements Giliath Osborne's status as a Magnificent Bastard, as he completely blindsides Ouroboros despite their record of extreme competence.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Final bosses in the series are inevitably immune to Instant Death (as are most but not all bosses generally) and the nastier status effects like Petrify and Faint. However, you can frequently encounter other bosses vulnerable to non-OHKO effects such as Delay, which in one case, turns the penultimate boss fight of a game into a Curb-Stomp Battle; (Garcia in Zero), others can allow you to do things like confuse all enemies into killing each other; (Kanone in FC), or perpetually inflict Paralysis; (Scarlet in Cold Steel.) Also, many bosses are vulnerable to at least some stat-downs.
  • Convenient Decoy Cat: Done once in FC and again in Zero. In the first case, your characters are hiding in a crate and supposedly invisible to detection by orbal sensors... which pick up life signs in one of the crates. Turns out that it was a cat, specifically placed there to be detected and defuse both suspicion and tensions. In the second case, the cat was part of a Refuge in Audacity plan but filled the same role in distracting the attention of some thugs who otherwise might have looked too closely behind the curtains. It happens again in Cold Steel IV though the party ends up worrying that one of the soldiers who they personally know would have known about Celine and would sound the alarm.
  • Cool Airship: There's one for everyone. Liberl has the Arseille, Ouroboros has the Glorious, the Capua family has the Bobcat, the twelve Dominions of the Septian Church each have a Merkabah, the Red Constellation has the Beowulf, Erebonia has the Courageous and later, the Courageous II when the Courageous I gets blown up at the end of Cold Steel III, and the Noble Alliance separately has the Pantagruel.
    • Also applies to smaller craft. The Intelligence Division, Ouroboros and the Liberl Royal Army all have cool gunships and Erebonia and Calvard's largest corporations make their own models as well.
  • Criminal Mind Games: Bleublanc always leaves his Calling Card at the scene of his latest theft, with a clue leading to another card and so on until the last one leads to the stolen item. He seems to steal mostly for the enjoyment of it and because he likes watching people following his clues, rather than to actually possess what he steals. This is exemplified by Zero where he hid his acquisition in a place it was bound to be noticed eventually, then personally congratulated and rewarded the party for recovering the missing statue while still in disguise.
  • Critical Annoyance: Each game has a battle theme that will kick in when your total party HP drops below a certain threshold, except in certain cases of Background Music Override. It's usually a pretty good theme too, just not one you really want to be hearing.
  • Crossover Punchline: Cold Steel II had a pair of DLC costumes for Rean and Alisa that were part of a preorder bonus campaign. In Tokyo Xanadu, there is a popular entertainment program called Mahou Shoujo Magical Alisa based on her DLC from Cold Steel II and another appearing character is 'Prince of Hades Rean', based on his DLC costume.
  • Cross Through: While the series is divided into separate arcs which take place in different regions and with different main casts who deal with their own issues, as of the sixth game there are several characters who have appeared in most or all of the games and played a role in bringing things to a conclusion. Additionally, Ouroboros and its machinations lie in the background of most of the games even when they don't appear directly. Then there are the hundred or so shout-outs to past games in each new one.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Not really forbidden but functionally, using a Stigma works out this way as it is incredibly taxing on the body and the more the user tries to do, the worse it is. Death is presented as a very real consequence of overusing the power and even less serious uses have been seen to leave a person in a faint.
    • Also applies to Rean's power, as death was seen as a probable consequence of overusing it during an emergency. And that's before considering what it could do to the personality...
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In any given game, about a quarter of the playable cast will have one of these (and another quarter will have a moment or too but not a history of it). The Liberl arc gives us Joshua, Scherazard, Kevin, Renne and Loewe while the Crossbell arc has Tio, Randy and Rixia on the main cast side and Sully on the supporting cast side. The Erebonia arc has Fie and Sara for certain and quite a bit of speculation surrounding several other characters.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: At several points in the series, a character will pretend to be someone they know is dead. Lloyd briefly pretends to be his dead brother Guy (which doesn't fool anyone important) and Joshua pretends to be his dead sister Karin, which actually does fool the people it's intended to.
  • Dénouement Episode: Both the Liberl and Erebonia arcs have games that could qualify as such:
    • For the Liberl arc, Sky the 3rd serves as one as together, FC and SC tell a complete story with a proper conclusion. the 3rd instead focuses on the story of Kevin Graham, who was originally a supporting character in SC, and seeks to further flesh out the fates of the numerous characters and expand on the worldbuilding.
    • For the Erebonia arc, The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki explores the aftermath of the events of the Cold Steel tetralogy, especially the fate of Rufus Albarea, and serves to further expand on the motives of Ouroboros, revealing the Grandmaster's appearance for the very first time.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Done several times, always with ample in-universe justification.
    • In FC, Cassius being out of Liberl during the coup attempt happened specifically because Ouroboros feared his potential to be the Spanner in the Works, so they arranged an incident they knew would require him to leave the country during the crucial timeframe.
    • In SC, Cassius does it to himself, weaponizing his Memetic Badass status by ensuring Ouroboros remained focused on him. He still managed to set up the Batman Gambit that ultimately trapped Weissmann despite not directly intervening in any of Ouroboros' major operations in Liberl.
    • Olivert, Toval, Claire, and Sharon leaving in Cold Steel II deprives the party of the individuals any one of whom could probably have singlehandedly tackled the problems that the crew of the Courageous had to face. However, this was because their talents could be put to much better use in the more volatile western half of Erebonia, leaving the Courageous to keep an eye on the much more settled east.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Starting with Ao/Azure, various breakable objects appear on the map. Destroy them and they'll randomly drop Sepith, healing or cooking items and sometimes U-Materials.
  • Doomed Hometown: Thanks to the Salt Pale, North Ambria is this for Weissmann, Sully, and Sara. Meanwhile, Hamel is this for Joshua, Loewe, and Ash.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: This is actually encouraged in Ouroboros, where Enforcers and Anguis have their own separate agendas and only partake in an Evil Plan when their agendas overlap.
  • Eldritch Location: Any 'spiritual' area (where the three higher elements of Space, Time, and Mirage are active) is one of these. In these regions, things like ghosts, monsters unexplainable by science and distortions of time can all be found and these areas are explicitly treated as supernatural, whereas most other 'magical' things in the setting are otherwise explainable scientifically.
    • Just to make things creepier, anywhere that the Pleroma Flowers bloom will become one of these.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: An odd example: Strengths and weaknesses are enemy-specific and there isn't an automatic relationship between strength in one element and weakness to another. However, if the player equips one of the four Talismans in FC or SC their attacks will take on one attribute and they will take less damage from that element but more from another. Time, Space and Mirage aren't subject to this in any way. These accessories disappear from the series just in time for the three higher elements to become subject to the normal rules in the 3rd.
  • Elemental Tiers: Arts are divided into the 'Lower Four' and 'Higher Three' elements. The latter first become subject to the normal rules in the 3rd (which takes place in an Eldritch Location). From this point on, whenever you see enemies with resistances to those elements listed at all, it's significant to the plot.
  • Element #5: Aside from normal 'Lower Four' and 'Higher Three' elements, it was revealed that an even higher element tier can be achieved by combining 3 of 7 major elements, later manifested as "Lost Arts". As of Cold Steel II, current combination known include Holy (Time, Space, Mirage), Dragon (Earth, Water, Wind), Sun (Fire, Wind, Space), Moon (Water, Fire, Mirage) and Star (Earth, Fire, Time).
  • End of an Age: The Great Collapse, a catastrophic event occuring all over Zemuria marks the end of the ancient Zemurian civilization and Pre-Septian Calendar, the age with advanced technology and blessing from Aidios through the seven Sept-Terrion.
  • Enemy Scan: Recommended most of the time as doing so not just reveals the enemy's background information, but its status effect and (sometimes) elemental resistances, along with the Unbalance rating from Cold Steel onward. You also need to do this for 100% Completion, and around late-game from the Crossbell arc onward, a sufficiently completed monster guide can earn you powerful rewards that usually cannot be obtained anywhere else in the game.
    • For the Liberl arc, you can do this if at least one of your party members equipped a quartz with the "Information" ability. After combat, the revealed information is placed in the monster guide.
    • This is changed from the Crossbell arc onward. To reveal information, it is done by either hitting the enemy enough times, using the "Analyzer" art, the "Detection" craft that is only available on certain characters or the Battle Scope item. Around mid-game, you can obtain the "Dragon Vision" quartz, which will automatically log all information if the person who equipped it defeated the enemy.
  • Enemy Summoner: A lot of enemies throughout the series have an ability to summon additional enemies to fight you. Sometimes this involves the enemy itself splitting into two identical copies (including lost HP) but usually it involves summoning a fresh enemy of an entirely different type from the summoner.
  • Enhanced Archaic Weapon: Part of the ubiquity of melee weapons in the series stems from the fact that firearms are relatively new and partly that sufficiently trained characters in the setting (such as any Eight Leaves One Blade or Taito practitioner) can pull off impressive stunts that make melee weapons credible threats. Then there's the simple fact that orbal technology can enhance conventional weaponry in enough ways that a compound bow can actually be just as useful as a rifle in skilled hands.
  • Episodic Game: Each episode of the series can take a long time to finish and set up what happens in the sequel.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Ouroboros is willing to recruit people from any nation or profession, as long as they have enough darkness in them.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The end of FC is the biggest one for the series as a whole. In fifteen minutes, you learn that 'Professor Alba' is the Big Bad and Joshua was The Mole, you go from an enjoyable but relatively conventional (if insanely detailed) game to a world where you're not certain who you can trust or what you can take at face value. This in no way diminishes with later games.
  • Evidence Scavenger Hunt: Most games have at least one scene where the party investigates a crime or unusual incident and you have to gather clues and come up with conclusions based on what you've found. Finding all the evidence and reaching the right conclusions is necessary to get bonus points towards your respective Ranks. This happens most frequently in the Crossbell arc where the main characters are police officers.
  • Experience Booster: Starting in the Crossbell arc, it is possible to get bonus experience in fights by doing certain actions, like achieving surprise, winning really quickly, or winning without taking damage in return (among several others). Since these are in percentages and are stackable with each other (and in some cases with itself multiple times over), getting a high multiplier on a boss fight can net a lot of experience.
  • Eye Colour Change: There are two prominent examples in the series. The first is caused by the drug Gnosis and the color change is permanent. The second is only found in specific characters ( Rean and McBurn) and the color only changes in response to active use of their powers, with the former's eyes turning red and the latter's turning black.
  • Familiar: Related to the plot of Cold Steel, a certain clan in-universe called the "Hexen Clan" uses these. Notable examples include Emma with her cat familiar Celine and Vita with her bird familiar Grianos.
  • Fan Nickname: In-universe, fans call Ilya Platiere 'The Blazing Dancer' and Vita Clotilde 'The Azure Diva'. Out of universe, Randy's in-universe nicknames are fairly popular, as is his fan nickname Ranikinote 
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: The series has several of these. Zin follows the Taito (Great Authority) style which is noted to emphasize fighting without taking life. His fellow pupils were Walter and Kilika (who was also the daughter of their master). There's also the Eight Leaves One Blade style of swordsmanship used by many of the series' best sword-users or ex-sword masters. It is known to be divided into eight Forms and as of Cold Steel IV, all eight forms have been fully shown. Proving that Yun Ka-Fai is Crazy-Prepared, the Eight Leaves One Blade style of swordsmanship has an unarmed form, Weaponlessnote .
    • There's also Cassius's staff style, Mu ni shite Rasen (The Spiral that Reduces to Nought), the concept of which he passed on to his daughter. Later, Estelle and Joshua both learn some of its more advanced techniques.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: In terms of length and distance, Zemuria has an equivalent measurement system with real life; rege for centimeter, arge for meter, selge for 100 meters, curim for kilograms and torim for tons.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: A few of these. The most obvious is Leman, which is Zemurian Switzerland. The country is the origin of the famously neutral Bracers Guild and the birthplace of the Orbal Revolution.
    • There's also Zemurian Prussia in Erebonia, which has not only a ton of Germanic names but a major character is an Expy of Otto von Bismarck, right down to his nickname 'The Blood and Iron Chancellor'. Then there's Calvard, which has traits in common with the United States of America. It is a relatively young country with a democratic form of government and immigrant-heavy culture... it also has a heavy Japanese/Chinese influence courtesy of its biggest immigrant groups, so the currently nameless countries they came from are doubtless fantasy counterpart cultures themselves. Crossbell City is somewhere between New York and (per Word of God) Hong Kong.
  • Fictional Currency: Mira, which can be gained from trading sepith (and sepith mass as of Cold Steel I.
  • Fictional Field of Science: Orbal Science is the art of deriving new forms of technology from the refined form of seven naturally occurring types of crystals. The science was itself developed by studying Lost Technology from 1200+ years ago and reverse engineered from there. Tita and her grandfather will be happy to explain the subject in copious detail.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: The Carnelia books you collect in FC are revealed to be based on the adventures of real people. Ein Selnate first appears in the 3rd, Toval in the Ring of Judgment manga and Micht in Cold Steel I. Ein notes that the books make for great Plausible Deniability. In light of Trails of Cold Steel IV, which is the 9th installment, it's easier to list which in-universe fictional works that are actually fiction.
  • Final Boss: Currently;
    • Trails in the Sky FC: Reverie, the Archaism that defends the Aureole, the Sept-Terrion of Space.
    • Trails in the Sky SC: Angel Weissmann, the out-of-control Fusion Dance between Georg Weissmann and the Sept-Terrion of Space.
    • Trails in the Sky the 3rd: Anima Mundi, the Lord of Phantasma and AI of the Recluse Cube that's responding to Kevin's self-hatred.
    • Zero no Kiseki/Trails from Zero: Demon Joachim, which is the high priest of the D∴G cult demonized after overdosing on Red Gnosis.
    • Ao no Kiseki/Trails to Azure: Azure Demiourgos, a recreation of the Sept-Terrion of Mirage made by Mariabell Crois.
    • Trails of Cold Steel I: Loa Erebonius as the Climax Boss, and then Crow piloting Ordine, the Azure Knight as the final boss.
    • Trails of Cold Steel II: Vermillion Apocalypse, the corrupted form of the knight Testa-Rossa awakened by Duke Cayenne. Loa Luciferia serves as the Post-Final Boss, acting as the final opponent of the Reverie Corridor.
    • Trails of Cold Steel III: The Nameless One, the corrupted Holy Beast of Earth.
    • Trails of Cold Steel IV: Osborne with Ebon Knight, Ishmelga. Ishmelga-Loge serves as the True Final Boss.
    • Hajimari no Kiseki: Ishmelga-Rean with Zoa-Gilstein for the main game, with Genesic Demiourgos serving as the final boss of the True Reverie Corridor section.
  • First-Episode Twist: Because of the nature of the series, this is to be expected.
    • It's pretty much impossible to talk about any game after FC without revealing the existence of Ouroboros or the fact that 'Professor Alba' and Joshua have ties to the organization. Professor Alba, actually Georg Weissmann, is the Third Anguis, while Joshua is an amnesiac former assassin and Enforcer No. XIII.
    • It's pretty much impossible to talk about any game after SC without mentioning that Renne is also a member of Ouroboros, that the Liber Ark exists and that Kevin, Olivier and Campanella are all far more important than the people they initially present themselves as being.
    • It's also impossible to talk about any game after Ao/Azure without mentioning the existence of the D∴G Cult and Gnosis from Zero... and Ao/Azure itself is a First-Episode Twist for Cold Steel, making a large chunk of the plot (though not the specific details) a massive Foregone Conclusion that makes it hard to talk about the game with people not familiar with the earlier entries without spoiling things.
    • Then it's pretty much impossible to talk about any game after Cold Steel II without mentioning Crow is <C>, the ILF are agents of the Noble Faction, Sharon is a member of Ouroboros, and Vita and Misty are the same person and also a member of Ouroboros.
    • It's impossible to talk about any game after Cold Steel III without mentioning that the Reformist Faction wins and Osborne takes over Crossbell (though this was already spoiled by Ao/Azure), Osborne is not dead and has declared war against Ouroboros, Osborne is Rean's father, Crow is dead, Ouroboros loses for the first time, Emma is a witch, Rufus is The Mole for Osborne and is the Governor-General of Crossbell, Altina and Millium were obtained by Osborne from the Thirteen Factories, and Lloyd and Rean had a duel at the Geofront (alongside Rixia and Altina).
    • Then you can't even talk about any game after Cold Steel IV without finding out...well, pretty much everything. Most notably, Ash is the third survivor of Hamel and shot the Emperor, Alisa's dad is Black Alberich, Millium sacrificed herself and turned into a sword, Rean killed the (corrupted) Holy Beast of Earth with said sword and lost control of his powers, said act unleashed the curse onto Erebonia, Azure Siegfried was Crow all along, and Rutger, Arianrhod, and Osborne are all Awakeners.
    • So in short, Falcom loves this trope.
  • Fishing Minigame: In every game since SC, with locations scattered around the country you're currently inhabiting, multiple rods and types of bait (which usually needs to be farmed) and up to twenty different types of fish to catch. Some fish can themselves be used as bait to reel in even bigger fish, all can be sold for a reward and all fish give you items when caught. Finding the right location/bait combo is an easy way to accumulate lots of U-Material or all the Sepith you could ever want, along with some one of a kind items. Oh, and fishing is Serious Business as each country has a Fishing Guild, with Ao's story involving a competition between Crossbell's Guild and members of the neighboring Erebonia's Imperial Fishing Guild.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: The series has two so far:
    • Celeste D. Auslese is the founder of Liberl. Some of her writings are important to the plot of SC and the party meets a virtual ghost of her in the 3rd.
    • Dreichels Reise Arnor (known as the Lionheart Emperor) founded Erebonia as it's known today, reunifying the country in the wake of a succession crisis known as the War of the Lions two hundred and fifty years ago.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: Crossbell's East Street has a distinct Chinatown feel, as it's where most of the immigrants from eastern countries (by way of Calvard) have chosen to live. It's implied that there are lots of these throughout the Republic, with variations for the different immigrant groups.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Anelace proposes one to Estelle, who accepts. Given the minor Gameplay and Story Segregation in SC's rank system, it's not clear who's winning for real, though in the short term it's evidently Estelle, which just motivates Anelace to try harder. Word of God has them currently tied at the same rank.
    • Also, by the time of Ao, the Special Support Section and the First Division of the CSPD and the local branch of the Bracers Guild are all on these terms with each other. Before, it was a three-way case of Jurisdiction Friction.
  • Frontline General: Fairly common in the setting. In Liberl, General Morgan (leader of the Royal Army) and Lieutenant Schwarz (leader of the Royal Guard) tend to lead from the front and in Erebonia, Generals Vander and Craig fight alongside their troops.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The playable cast of the Sky trilogy starts as one though it ends up imbalanced by the 3rd. The core cast of Zero is one and the full (permanent) playable cast of Ao is also balanced. Class VII starts out with one more boy, though if you count Sara the number balances out. The series likes this trope.
  • Giant Spider: There are two Chapter bosses in the series that are this trope writ large. First is the Arachne Sisters (so, three giant spiders really) followed by an even bigger spider after you beat them in the 3rd and the second is Ginosha-Zanak, a spider-demon sealed away in an ancient quarry in Cold Steel.
  • Going Cosmic: Sky the 3rd brings religion to the forefront of the games, though it was always present before that. The game also delves more deeply into psychology and the nature of reality. It's also the game that opens up a thousand cans of worms for future exploration and turned out to be essential to understanding the meta-plot.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: This trope gets played with regarding the conflict between Erebonia and Calvard. This is because each set of games take place in a different country:
    • Played straight with the kingdom of Liberl. Ten years before the main plot, Liberl was involved in the Hundred Days War with the Erebonian empire, which is revealed to have only started because some Erebonian military officers hired a band of jaegers to burn down the village of Hamel in southern Erebonia and framed it on Liberl's army. In contrast, Calvard is treated as an ally nation to Liberl.
    • Averted in Crossbell State with the conflict between Erebonia and Calvard, which is treated more as an Evil vs. Evil conflict. Both countries are treated as expansionist, wanting to absorb Crossbell into their borders so they can take their resources and tax revenue for their own desires, with little regard for the citizens of Crossbell. Despite this, the main villains of the games aren't from Erebonia or Calvard, but are citizens of Crossbell who have gotten fed up with being caught in the tug-of-war between the two countries.
    • Despite the fact that Trails of Cold Steel takes place in Erebonia, not much emphasis is put on the country's relationship with Calvard. Instead, the games put more emphasis on the country's internal conflicts between the reformists and nobles in Erebonia. That is, until you get to the end of the third game...
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Monster Encyclopedia entries, fish, recipes, you name it. From Zero onwards, you get Records and/or PSN Trophies for doing this as well as unlocking nice items. Actually managing this is the source of a lot of Guide Dang It! since many requirements are extremely time-limited.
    • Even before that, obtaining every volume of collectable novels is how you obtain the Infinity +1 Sword in all the games but the 3rd.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Cassius Bright serves as this for the series as a whole, though he's a more straightforward Big Good for the first two Sky games. He's a candidate for World's Strongest Man and a shining example to all, but his role in most games is limited to the background or the sidelines (in the first game, the villains explicitly lured him out of the country as part of their plan).
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Behind almost every Big Bad in the series, there is Ouroboros. However, there are some things that are beyond even them, such as Phantasma and (possibly) whatever was up with Lohengrin Castle, which may have been connected to Phantasma itself.
  • Great Offscreen War: Two of them in fact.
    • The first one is the Hundred Days War, which is a major part of Liberl's history and had a profound impact on the lives of many characters. As it took place ten years before the series begins, we only learn about it in flashbacks, conversations and books.
    • Erebonia has its own example of this in the War of the Lions, which was fought 250 years ago and had an even greater impact which is still felt in the present. Just ask Arianrhod. There's also the civil war that was this trope in Ao/Azure but is shown onscreen in Cold Steel II, with it getting started during the conclusion to Cold Steel I. Finally in Cold Steel III, there's also the Northern Campaign where Erebonia annexes North Ambria, led by Aurelia Le Guin and Rean inside Valimar participates in said war. No, players don't get to see those events, aside from flashbacks.
  • Grim Up North: Toyed with. The Salt Pale Incident turns a country in northern Zemuria into an example of this but it was a recent unnatural event and not associated with the north in general. Played straight to the extent that Weissmann is from there..
  • Guide Dang It!: All over the place, mainly hidden bonus conditions for quests, hidden sidequests, and collectibles that can only be found by talking to a specific NPC at a specific time.
  • Harder Than Hard: Most if not all titles in the series have a Nightmare mode option which is intended to be this, provided that the player isn't playing on New Game+ having carried over levels, etc.
  • Harmful to Minors: Part of the backstory of quite a few characters, chief among them Joshua, Renne, Tio and Fie.
    • To a lesser extent, everyone in Liberl in a certain age range was exposed to the horrors of war during the Hundred Days War. Tita was too young to remember it but Estelle and Kloe were not with the former watching her mother die while shielding her from falling debris. Anelace probably counts as well but we never hear of her own experiences from back then.
  • Health/Damage Asymmetry: Averted in most of the games, where bosses are capable of dishing out bigger numbers than the party while still having a mountain of HP. On higher difficulties, it's possible for bosses to deal more damage with their normal attacks than players can deal with their S-Crafts.
  • Here There Were Dragons: It is mentioned in one of Septian Church Testaments that mankinds upon their first creation dating even before pre-septian calendar were granted the ability to freely cast magic known in modern era as "Arts." They however lost the ability over time thus the need of orbal technology. Some people who still have this ability are called "Magicians." The Hexen clan are among the few that survive to the present day with this ability intact.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Averted by the protagonists of the first five games, it's not until Rean in the sixth game that we get a protagonist who really uses a sword. Played with in the case of Anelace, who wants to be a hero and uses a sword, but she's a supporting character, not one of the protagonists.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Comes in all three varieties.
  • High-Altitude Battle: A staple at least once per story arc. It also has a recurring David vs. Goliath theme due to the protagonist's airship being smaller and less armed then the antagonists'.
    • The Sky arc has the Arseille does this when going up against the Glorious in SC.
    • The Crossbell arc has Wazy's Merkabah being in danger of blown out of the sky by aerial mines(!) and being boarded by the Red Constellation on the way to the Azure Tree.
    • The Cold Steel arc has multiple instances of this due to the increased use of airships by the military.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: The Arseille does this when going up against the Glorious in SC, using its far greater maneuverability to great advantage. In Ao/Azure, Aion Type-Beta and Kevin's Merkabah trade off doing this with lasers.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: Whatever calendar system was used prior to the Great Collapse, nobody thought it was worth keeping afterwards.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Your characters have no limit to how much of the Power-Up Food they can eat overall while doing it instantly in their turns, even when the amount they ate is the equivalent of multiple meals.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every game in the series follows the '[X] no Kiseki' pattern, which usually translates to 'Trails in/of X', though some titles don't translate neatly while maintaining the scheme in English. Falcom also likes titles that don't necessarily make sense until after you have completed the arc. For example, Trails in the Sky really only makes sense after you finish SC and the meaning of Trails from Zero is only explained in Trails to Azure, which thankfully also explains its own title.
  • Improbable Accessory Effect: The series tries to avert this as much as possible. Some accessories just make sense (a lighter to keep you warm prevents Freeze and aromatic herbs prevent you from falling asleep) but in a number of cases, the explanation is rooted in the presence of Magic from Technology. The Grail Locket (prevents all status ailments) in particular is explained as being based on a piece of Lost Technology. There are also completely straight examples, such as the Lionheart Medals in Cold Steel.
  • In a Single Bound: Ouroboros members that don't teleport tend to do superhuman jumps whenever they need to escape.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Weapons constructed out of Zemurian Ore serve this role in every game except FC, where you trade directly for a weapon.
  • In-Game Novel: As of Cold Steel II there have been seven of these, six of which are part of game-spanning sidequests whose ultimate reward is an Infinity +1 Sword. The novels are collected in volumes (frequently the subject of much Guide Dang It!) and tend to be decently long once put together.
    • Numerous other books exist separately from the above novels and can be read in-universe as well, such as short stories, a dictionary of cat speech, guides on the functioning of Orbments and so on.
    • Also, these books aren't just fluff, they're frequently foreshadowing. See Carnelia and Toby, or as fans are more likely to know them, First Dominion Ein Selnate and Toval Randonneur This gets a deliberate nod later on when one of the things you can buy in Cold Steel is a paperback collection of Carnelia. This would be the first game where Toval and Micht appear directly.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Averted. In the first two arcs, the main characters are part of organizations whose members are being paid specifically to help citizens with their troubles as well as assisting the government. In FC, the original purpose of Estelle and Joshua journeying around Liberl was to help out at each of the Bracers Guild branches to show they have what it takes to be full members; they fell into the 'Save the Kingdom' job more or less by accident. In SC, the saving takes priority but that's no excuse to neglect the other aspects of the job. As police officers trying to assist the poor public image of the CSPD, the fact that you spend a lot of time in Zero and Ao helping people out also makes perfect sense. In Cold Steel, as you're students at a military academy performing a combination of assisting with Student Council duties (helping students and others at Thors and in Trista) and jobs assigned to you as part of your Field Exams. This is because Olivert is trying to make Class VII a shining example for Erebonians, so having Nobles and Commoners working together on jobs ranging from eliminating dangerous monsters to helping a store owner find a replacement record is all part of the process.
  • Item Amplifier: The recurring Master Quartz Moebius, which increases the HP/EP restored by items (but not CP), lets you use items at a distance and at max level grants items a minor area of effect.
  • Karma Houdini: As this series has a continuous narrative where plots are expected to be resolved over the long term, this applies to quite a few characters.
    • On the other hand there are some notable aversions with characters who have learned just what a bitch karma can be. Namely Georg Weissmann and Joachim Guenter whose well-deserved karmic payback was sweet. In the shorter-term there was Gideon, who gets Laser-Guided Karma within mere months of earning it.
  • Keep It Foreign: The series loves to sprinkle in names, terms, and concepts from European languages, especially German. The Gralsritter in particular are almost invariably referred to as such. The number of times they're called "Grail Knights" can be counted on one hand.
  • Kid Hero: Deconstructed, especially since this is a universe that mostly averts Adults Are Useless. No matter how much talent the younger heroes have, they don't fare well against the more experienced adult villains that even adult heroes have trouble with. As a result, each new cast of young heroes doesn't make a huge difference in stopping Ouroboros's plans and can only find small personal victories at best.
  • Large Ham: Estelle and Olivier/Olivert especially love to dramatically announce their arrivals in a scene. Estelle's enthusiasm is so great the Sky games give her an enlarged font just for her, and Olivier's entrances are always accompanied by a lute sound effect.
  • Last Episode Theme Reprise: A series staple, the final dungeon and/or final boss music in each game tends to include the main melody for the opening theme of that game. Sky the 3rd and Zero each have an additional and entirely separate arrangement that plays just before the final battle to pump the player up for the fight ahead.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Sky the 3rd lacks several staples of the series, compared to the games before or since. Towns, NPC side stories, sidequests, the Points system, and book collecting have been phased out. Instead, the game is one long series of interconnected dungeons with a robust warping mechanic that let you instantly travel to nearly any spot in the game, a support character function that provides unique stat and battle enhancements, a darker, more psychological story that's largely dedicated to exploring the two main characters, rather than a country-spanning adventure, and a series of loosely-connected doors that lead to several nonlinear stories unrelated to the main plot.
  • Lazy Backup: The Crossbell games onwards introduced support party members, allowing you to have six or seven party members in total. However, the number of members you can use at a time is still four. If your active party is defeated, it's game over. Cold Steel III onwards averts this by having your support members jump in after the active party is defeated. Note that party members need to be alive when defeating an enemy for experience points to avoid leeching.
  • Left Hanging: Pretty much every game wraps up its main plot but leaves you with more unanswered questions than you had going in. In some cases you get cliffhangers where you only think the main plot has been resolved, until the last twenty minutes. Sky the 3rd is pretty much 'Left Hanging: The Game' since one of its primary reasons for existing was to set up plot threads for future story arcs.
  • Left-Justified Fantasy Map:
    • Played straight with the map of Liberl, because that country is located at the far western end of the Zemurian Continent and Falcom has been keeping the details of the rest of the world outside its immediate surroundings hidden. Major locations are known to exist much farther north and east and no doubt we'll eventually get maps that avert this entirely.
    • The map for the Crossbell games more or less does this, being positioned to show Liberl in relation to Crossbell without revealing the Tethys Sea or how much further Erebonia might extend west. The map of Erebonia in Cold Steel I and II does the same thing, because the player doesn't get to see the western part of the Empire where it runs into the ocean. It is shown in Cold Steel III and onward, however.
  • Ley Line: Septium in the ground naturally releases energy which flows between concentrations of the crystal, the so-called 'Septium Veins'. These first become important in SC because one of the Gospels is able to manipulate these pulses to cause earthquakes, provided that it's stuck at an appropriate intersection of existing lines. It also becomes important in the Crossbell arc as the pulses are the medium through which 'will' was transferred between Gnosis test subjects and Demiourgos and the greatest intersection of these lines is the location of the final dungeon of Ao,the Azure Tree. In Cold Steel II they come up again as the 'Spirit Path', a method of teleporting through the pulses to specific locations. Also, the game reveals that Zemurian Ore is the condensed energy of the Septium Pulses, crystallized.
  • Limit Break: S-Crafts, which can also be used to interrupt the turn order and perform S-Breaks.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Played with throughout the series.
    • Played straight in the Sky trilogy. Outside of one or two melee characters who usually are Game Breakers and/or Required Party Members, late-game usually revolves around how fast you can cast arts and when you can time them to go off ensure control over the battle especially around Nightmare difficulty. The relatively low damage numbers for melee characters in general outside of S-Crafts aren't really helping.
    • Played straight in the Zero/Ao duology. Same case as Sky but now the melee characters with a proper setup can be dodge-tanks that draw the enemy into attacking them and receiving no damage due to a high evasion rate while the casters deal most of the damage.
    • Averted with extreme prejudice in the Cold Steel series as it progressed. Main source of damage are now from the melee characters due to the implementation of the Combat Link system which exponentially increased overall melee damage dealt. The introduction of the Break Meter as of III turned this Up to Eleven which reduced the main plan of attack to "Let's hit the enemy as many times as possible." Also, the dodge-tanks in question now deal so much damage that with enough patience, they can effectively take on multiple bosses at once.
  • Little Hero, Big War: Each arc is more about the heroes trying to make sure their homeland survives Ouroboros plan and claiming their own personal victories than stopping the organization once and for all, since the Society is simply too big for each individual party to take down.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Two justified examples. When Angel Weissmann and Azure Demiourgos are defeated, the locations they were found in begin to collapse almost immediately. In the former case Liber Ark's ability to remain aloft was entirely due to Aureole which Weissmann had merged with so when it vanished the Ark began to fall apart as the laws of physics reasserted themselves and in the latter case, the dungeon itself was an extension of the boss' power so when the boss vanished, the dungeon vanished with it.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: As a series with a continuous narrative and a focus on world-building, you can expect this. Falcom tries to make every NPC unique and everyone has their own little story going on in the background that you can see if you spend the time engaging NPCs.
    • To illustrate, the Special Collection Books provide a bit of information on every NPC in every town in the game and Crossbell Archive does the same for Zero and Ao, along with mentioning NPCs who aren't seen but are mentioned (including references to previous games) and that came out to twelve pages, at about twenty characters a page... and those are the tertiary characters.
    • Hajimari boasts the number of playable characters alone to be at least fifty.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: A series staple and justified in-universe as your characters doing their respective jobs. Sidequests can double or triple the completion time and are one of the best ways to earn money and items. Plus, they're needed to raise your Bracer/Detective/Academic Rank to any appreciable degree (just doing the main story quests won't get you very far) and the rewards for doing so tend to be pretty spectacular at high levels.
  • Long Dead Badass: The series has a couple of people near-universally held as standards of badass-dom who are dead by the time the games begin. In Crossbell, everyone agrees that Guy Bannings was awesome. He's been dead for three years by the time Zero begins. In Erebonia, Lianne Sandlot is the epitome of badass and she's been dead for 250 years, Though not actually, as she is Arianrhod. On the more spoiler-y side is Rufina Argent, hailed by Ein as the ideal Knight. Also, Baldur Orlando and the 'Jaeger King' were the two strongest Jaegers in western Zemuria and known for being badasses. Both have died at each other's hands by the time Zero begins though we don't learn that until Ao/Azure.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: Every arc has its own party. Some major characters from one arc show up in secondary roles in later arcs, but the only characters who come close to showing up in every game of the main series (i.e., not counting Nayuta) are Bleublanc (causer of problems in sidequests and occasional chapter boss), Anton and Ricky (background characters and occasional provider of sidequests), and in two of those games, Bleublanc only appears in disguise, so he still doesn't visibly appear in all of them. Out of party members, the person who comes closest to appearing in every game is Olivier/Olivert (who appears in every game up to Cold Steel IV except for Zero), though in several of them he's only an NPC.
  • Lost in Transmission: Happens twice in the series so far. In SC, the records made by the people who sealed Aureole away 1200 years ago have been corrupted due to age but in a subversion, the only piece of truly vital information is apparent to both the characters and the audience, though some of the missing content includes the bits that justified the creation of the 'transmission' in the first place and are thus important to the story.
    • In Zero, the writings of Joachim of the D∴G Cult are found in the Sun Fort, but the text is garbled. The missing pieces are filled in over the course of the sequel.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Since enemies can use the random turn bonuses, some bosses can become incredibly difficult if they grab the wrong bonuses - generally either a critical/strength up when launching a major attack, or a healing bonus that undoes a dozen or more turns worth of damage.
  • Mage Marksman: You can find characters in each arc who have good proficiency with orbal arts while wielding long-ranged weapons. Olivier/Olivert from Sky and Cold Steel, Elie from Zero and Ao, as well as Musse and Claire from Cold Steel use orbal guns (or in Musse's case, an orbal carbine) while Kevin from Sky and Alisa from Cold Steel are the Arcane Archer variation of it.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: Not Orbal Arts (which is explicitly Magic from Technology) but Fangshu, techniques originating in the east (and a separate body practiced by the Church) which can produce results similar to Orbal Arts without the need for an Orbment. Both techniques can be learned by anyone with time and training. On the other hand, what Emma and other Witches can do is called magic with no qualifiers.
  • Magic from Technology: Orbal arts. People who have orbments, will be able to cast arts provided they equip elemental quartz.
  • Magic Knight: Technically, every playable character with close-ranged weapon is capable of using an orbment, though their proficiency with melee and arts vary for the sake of Competitive Balance.
  • Magic Staff: The Orbal Staff functions like this, except using Magic from Technology to function. Tio tested the first model developed by the Epstein Foundation, which is a Morph Weapon that doubles as a cannon and energy sword. Elliot and Emma use Reinford-made versions with similar versatility (although with less transforming) and Joachim uses an elaborate Lost Technology version.
  • Mark of the Beast:
    • Zero reveals the origin of Renne and Tio's golden eyes: They're a permanent side effect of using an early version of Gnosis in large quantities. Users of the refined form of the drug exhibit red eyes after prolonged exposure.
    • The power possessed by Rean and McBurn has this effect when used, changing their appearance. The latter is particularly extreme with creepy black eyes and tattoos a part of the package. This power is specifically referred to as something 'from beyond' manifesting through the user.
  • Mascot: The theme park Mishelam Wonderland has Mishy, an Expy of Mickey Mouse. Mishy has in turn become a minor mascot for Falcom as a whole, showing up in Nayuta no Kiseki, Ys and Tokyo Xanadu as well.
  • Master Swordsman: Quite a few. The top five are (in no order) Ein Selnate, Arianrhod (technically a spearwoman, though she's trained swordmasters), Loewe, Victor S. Arseid (who has a pupil who eventually surpasses him) and Yun Ka-Fai (who has at least two students who qualify in their own right). Matteus Vander is seen as comparable to Victor S. Arseid but Victor specifically was noted to be the strongest swordsman in Erebonia.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Ouroboros-made Archaisms are pretty much entirely automated and range from small scouting machines to Humongous Mecha capable of fighting off small armies. They also create machines they sell or otherwise provide to various factions. Revache gets their hands on several sentinel-type units, as do several terrorist groups.
  • Morale Mechanic: Enemies may swarm you or try to run away from you on the map based on your level. If you're really high, they'll occasionally flee from battle on their turn. Various Quartz may also affect this, such as Scent overriding low morale by making enemies more likely to swarm you on the map and Haze making it less likely.
  • Narrative Filigree: Falcom absolutely adores this trope. While there are recycled NPC designs for more generic individuals, almost everyone has a name and everyone has evolving dialogue and their own little story going on in the background. Sometimes these become important to the main plot such as Grancel's Bishop in SC, if you talk to him at just the right time and other times they play a part in a later sidequest but mostly, they're just there for fun and world-building. Also, Falcom really loves foreshadowing many games in advance...
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Ouroboros are ever-present throughout the series working to fulfill an unclear overarching goal.
  • New Game+: Available in all the games. Some games also have the ability to carry over completion data from earlier games in their given arc. It usually isn't possible to get 100% completion in one playthrough.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: Ouroboros, full stop. The upper leadership of the organization consists of only eight individuals with a maximum of 22 top agents below that. They have military technology that puts the best that everyone else can offer to shame and they have their fingers in every pie. If something strange is happening in any country, flip a coin. If it comes up heads, it's probably Ouroboros. Tails, it's probably someone being manipulated by Ouroboros.
    • To illustrate, Ouroboros has the world's largest airship (the Glorious, which can launch smaller craft which can launch still-smaller craft) as a mobile base of operations, they have Humongous Mecha which can overpower conventional armies (Aion Type-Alpha alone flattened Garrelia Fortress, which was believed to be practically unassailable by conventional means) and they are making the largest country in western Zemuria dance to their strings because they're backing Osborne and the faction opposing him.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability:
    • The Aion machines are made of a super-strong alloy that makes them more or less impervious to harm from conventional means. On top of this, they also spend most of Ao/Azure empowered by Azure Demiourgos which allows them to operate at peak efficiency even in prolonged combat against opponents capable of employing distinctly unconventional means.
      • Also from Ao/Azure, Azure Demiourgos itself, by virtue of being a godlike fusion of the original Sept-Terrion with power over Time and Space added as well.
    • Before that, the Aureole's ability to absolutely control Space made it this as it could generate a barrier impervious to harm. Except for Loewe's sword, which by its nature is capable of ignoring the laws of physics.
  • Nominal Importance: Averted. Only a tiny handful of NPCs don't have names. Pretty much everyone else though? Names, running background story and the very real possibility that they'll be involved in a sidequest at some point. The corollaries do hold true though for the most part: If they have a portrait, they're more important to the plot than if they don't (exception: three-fourths of Kurt's team lacked portraits in the original release of FC but they still turned out important) and non-battle voice acting is limited to really important characters, with the exception of ''Zero no Kiseki Evolution'' and ''Ao no Kiseki Evolution'', which give everyone involved in the main plot a voice.
  • Non Standard Skill Learning: Most Crafts are learned via leveling up, even ones that you might expect to be story-based. Sky the 3rd subverts this with Kevin's second and third S-Crafts which are learned through plot events and Ao gave the player Lloyd's Raging Spin (an upgraded version of Axel Rush) as a reward for clearing a tough sidequest, while Combo Crafts in that arc are earned through a mixture of plot progression and sidequest rewards. Cold Steel decided to make all S-Crafts (with the exception of Laura and Fie) plot-significant while normal Crafts remain level-based. Cold Steel II, however, only makes few certain characters to learn S-Craft this way while the remaining learn via level-based.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources: Enemies generally have 0 CP cost for all of their crafts, allowing them to spam crafts as they please. Some enemy crafts, such as S-Crafts, do cost 100 CP, but they can build up to it easily with their 0 CP crafts. This is in contrast to players who have to worry about CP cost for all of their crafts.
  • Nuns Are Mikos: Played straight, averted and downplayed. Your average Sister averts this, acting pretty much like you would expect a real-world nun to act. The ones who don't do this (and thus play the trope straight) are members of the Gralsritter who swear an entirely different set of vows. An example of this trope downplayed comes from Rosine, a student at Thors who helps out at the local Church in her spare time, habit included, but doesn't act strictly like a real nun would be expected to. Then in Cold Steel II, Rosine also plays this trope since she's revealed to be a squire working for Thomas, one of the Gralsritter's Dominion.
  • Offscreen Inertia: Totally averted; advance the plot a little bit and the NPC who was talking to their neighbor about what to buy for dinner will be found in the store buying groceries, the NPC getting beaten in a sparring match will be taking a break and the girl standing in the rain will be inside warming up. Everyone is moving around as long as you are.
  • Old Master: Yun Ka-Fai. He is literally Anelace's grandfather and he's the man who invented the school of swordsmanship used by most of the series badass swordsmen.
  • Old Save Bonus: The franchise uses this feature extremely often. You have a choice to load a complete save data file from the previous part of a trilogy/duology on the next part (example being reloading FC clear save data when starting SC or reloading SC clear save data on the 3rd). Rewards for doing this such as carryover level and early item bonus usually helps you through the beginning of the game since you suddenly lose your hard-obtained quartz and items. Another more significant bonus is dialogue changes based on your previous decisions/performance in the previous game. An example is choosing your dance partner in Cold Steel I changes the reunion scene for said character in Cold Steel II. Most notably does not happen with Cold Steel II to III, as Cold Steel I/II were originally developed on Vita and PS3 and III/IV were originally developed for PS4.
  • One-Hit Point Wonder: Non-gameplay example: Anyone who has their soul taken by the Ring of Judgment will become this; even a minor injury will result in the person keeling over dead within seconds.
  • One-Man Industrial Revolution: Professor Epstein's research into ancient artifacts brought about the Orbal Revolution which has had a profound impact on Zemurian civilization in the fifty or so years since his first breakthrough. The Epstein Foundation based in Leman continues the work he started. Professor A. Russell, one of Epstein's three pupils, fills the same role on a smaller scale for the Kingdom of Liberl. Actually in-universe, people in Liberl call Professor Russell as the "Father of Orbal Revolution". Another pupil, Professor G. Schmidt, fills this role in Erebonia to a lesser extent. Both are certified Mad Scientists, as they are rather childish geezers in their own way. Russell is the one who keeps creating new toys and Schmidt shows no interest in almost everything other than his research and loses interest right when he finishes solving the problem.
  • One Steve Limit: Gleefully averted with Lloyd and Tio, who were NPCs in the Liberl arc... and two of the main characters in the Crossbell arc just happen to have the same names, which was all to set up a joke when the protagonists of the former arc meet the protagonists of the latter arc. This extends to shared names among NPCs as well. Though there is apparently only one Anton and Ricky - those two guys just turn up everywhere.
  • One-Time Dungeon: A frequent occurrence from SC onwards is to have at least one dungeon that can only be explored on your first visit, or if it can be revisited to make things like Monster Encyclopedia data only obtainable once. This includes the Lakeside Laboratory, the first part of the Glorious and the 'Another Dimension' versions of the four Towers in SC, Gehenna in the 3rd, St. Ursula Medical College Research Building in Zero, lots and lots of dungeons in Ao and everything in Cold Steel other than the Old Schoolhouse, since Trista is the only location you get to see in more than one Chapter. Despite having free travel for much of the game, most of Cold Steel II's dungeons are also single-visit because the situations that lead you to fight in them go away after the first time. Notable exceptions are the four Shrines and the Ancient Quarry.
  • Only Shop in Town: Averted in that each city tends to contain separate locations to buy weapons and armor, Quartz and Orbment modifications and a smattering of smaller shops, stalls and bars for healing items, cooking and miscellaneous goods. Particularly small locations like Ravennue play this straight but when you're a community of only a dozen or so, there's not much point in diversifying. Bose completely averts this with its massive Bose Market and Crossbell City has several areas of town which each contain multiple stores. Heimdallr in the Erebonia arc has multiple shopping districts, each containing multiple stores to visit.
  • On Screen Chapter Titles: Each game has this, beginning with Sky FC and its opening "Prologue: A Father's Love, A New Beginning." They are shown both at the beginning and end of each chapter, with the ones shown at the end generally accompanied by both an achievement/trophy and the option to the save the game before moving to the next, as cutscenes at both the end and beginning of chapters tend to be fairly lengthy.
  • Optional Character Scene: The game has dialogue variations for all possible party combinations, which can sometimes involve fairly major changes. On occasion, having one or more specific characters will trigger extra scenes beyond this. For example, near the end of SC if you bring particular characters to the fights against the Enforcers, you will see additional scenes. Also, the 3rd has a lot of these and Ao does something similar, also having some scenes that trigger later in the game if you bring the right person to the right place beforehand. Cold Steel has a major addition to the trip to Heimdallr to pick up the costumes for the concert if you're on New Game Plus and Emma is your partner, to say nothing of the entire Bond Event system where you can pick who to spend time with on your days off, always resulting in unique scenes.
  • Our Demons Are Different: There are three kinds of supernatural demonic creatures in the setting so far: Fiends, Demons, and the Seventy-Seven Devils. The latter two are stated to come directly from Gehenna.
  • Overworld Not to Scale: The games don't usually have an overworld per-se, with everything operating at the exact same scale. Of course, the time taken by the player to reach a given destination and the time that passes in-universe don't always correspond, such as the Crossbell-Armorica route explicitly taking two hours by car while the player can walk the route in about five minutes.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Owing to Realpolitik, any public interaction between Olivier and Osborne is saturated with this. The one time they're in private and able to drop the act, they lose all pretenses of civility and each effectively declares war upon the other. Which isn't to say that Olivier doesn't do it in a completely over the top fashion of course. This also seems to be a favorite pastime of Erebonian girls, with Alfin, Elise and Alisa all getting in on the act.
  • Phlebotinum Muncher: Monsters are naturally attracted to Septium and some of the more outlandish powers are explicitly stated to come from ingested Sepith of the appropriate elemental alignment. This also handily explains why enemies drop Sepith upon their death.
  • Photo Montage: The end credits of SC and Cold Steel II both include photographs showing what the core cast does after the conclusion of the game. This returns for Cold Steel IV with a montage of the cast members attending Prince Olivert Reise Arnor and Scherazard Harvey's wedding.
  • Player-Exclusive Mechanic: While enemies operate under essentially the same rules you do (cheap abilities like Sigmund's Ogre Cry notwithstanding) there is one thing the computer should be able to do but never will, even when it's controlling your characters during the friendly sparring matches in Cold Steel: S-Breaking. This is a mercy since having to worry about whether your enemy has the CP to simply steal a turn and get a bonus like Critical or Death with no warning would make some battles next to impossible.
    • This mechanic however is averted in Cold Steel III where some bosses will jump their Turn Order if they want to use their S-Breaks unless the enemies are inflicted with the "Break status".
    • In Cold Steel III, Brave Order is a party-exclusive mechanic that allows your characters to buff your party for several turns with effects such as heavily increasing Break Damage or greatly reducing your delay between turns. In Cold Steel IV, however, you encounter certain select bosses which can use "Anti-Orders," which both debuff your party and prevent you from using your own Orders until they wear off.
  • Poison Mushroom: Some recipes can lower your health. These usually come in the form of an either/or effect with a really good possible result to counterbalance the bad. In later games, with the right setup you can make either result work in your favor.
  • Power Copying: In Ao, Kevin performs Stigma Cannon Megiddels through his Merkabah. Crossbell Archive confirms that this was possible because Anima Mundi used it on him previously.
  • Power-Up Food: The cooking function with the Recipe Book is essentially a generator for these, provided you have the recipe and ingredients. The latter has several kinds which can only be obtained from monsters. In the Sky trilogy, to learn the recipes you have to buy/obtain the food and then eat it. For the games that take place afterwards, they have to be obtained from treasure chests, sidequests and talking to NPCs. On top of that, they would have variations that depend on who was the cook. Given how the food in question effectively Power Creep standard healing items outside of the Zeram itemsnote  by either offering multiple status aliment cures, CP and/or stat boosts along with standard healing, it's not a surprise that players can clear an entire game without using any standard healing items.
  • Private Military Contractors: Jaeger Corps are PMCs that typically show up as antagonists throughout the series. They range from hired squadrons of faceless goons to elite mercenary forces.
  • Prolonged Prologue:
    • FC and Zero both have Prologues that make up a decent chunk of the game, especially in FC's case as it makes up the entirety of your time spent in Rolent and consists of about 10-20% of the game. In both cases, done intentionally to set up the characters and the world. Other games have somewhat shorter prologues but still tend to throw in a dungeon or two to explore, several boss fights and lots of juicy character development. The only game to avert this is the 3rd.
    • In addition, one can consider the first game in a given arc to be one for the arc in question. The first game in an arc introduces most of the key cast members of that arc, and explains the region and what kind of troubles it has, with Ouroboros being a mostly or totally unknown force working in the background. They don't start openly moving until the finale of the first game, and the following game(s) concern how they tie into the local issues and how they can manipulate them to bring about the next stage of the Orpheus Final Plan, which will be a key factor in the rest of the arc.
  • Prophet Eyes: Anyone who has worn the Ring of Judgment for long enough develops these and will inevitably die.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Ancient Zemurian relics are at least 1200 years old by the beginning of the series. While some are broken and others obviously in the process of breaking down, others are still working as if they were made yesterday. Liber Ark had automated repair systems and was still being powered by the divine relic it was built around, in addition to spending the intervening 1200 years in another dimension, which probably accounts for why it is so relatively well preserved. Downplayed in the case of the Divine Knights which are still functional but need restoration before they can operate at peak effectiveness, and they were kept in locations designed to preserve them.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Zemuria is quite religious and most characters will mention their goddess Aidios at one point or another. This includes notable badasses like Cassius Bright and Victor S. Arseid. Also every single member of the Gralsritter who are badass by definition.
  • Red Baron: One of Falcom's favorite tropes in the Trails franchise. Most people, be it Bracers, Twelve Dominions of Gralsritter, core members of Ouroboros, or any other relatively famous figure in this game will at least have this, although most people also recognize the name. Due to the overwhelmingly large cast with perhaps half of them having this, it's rather impossible to list all of them. Most notable examples include:
    • Bracers:
      • Cassius Bright the "Divine Blade"note 
      • Arios MacLaine the "Divine Blade of Wind"note 
    • Ouroboros: See Tarot Motifs for the enforcers. [[spoiler: In one final door accessible after opening all doors in the 3rd, there's an Anguis meeting with the Grandmaster and Campanella to discuss their plan. During the talk, they sometimes use their title when referring to each other to prevent revealing their true identity too early, for members the player hasn't met properly yet.].
      • The Second Anguis: Vita Clotilde, the "Azure Abyss".
      • The Third Anguis: Georg Weissmann, the "Faceless" aka Professor Alba, later replaced by Mariabell Crois, the "Wellspring Alchemist".
      • The Fourth Anguis: The "Thousand Oathbreaker".
      • The Seventh Anguis: Arianrhod, the "Steel Maiden", believed by some to secretly be Saint Lianne Sandlot, the "Lance Maiden".
    • Gralsritter:
      • The First Dominion: Ein Selnate/Carnelia
      • The Second Dominion: Thomas Lysander, the Partitioner
      • The Fifth Dominion: Kevin Graham, the "Heretic Hunter/"Thousand-Hand Guardian"
      • The Eighth Dominion: Gaius Worzel, the "Soaring Phoenix"
      • The Ninth Dominion: Wazy Hemisphere, the "Azure Testament''
    • Others
      • Dreichels Reise Arnor, the "Lionheart Emperor"
      • Giliath Osborne, the "Blood and Iron Chancellor"
      • Baldur Orlando, the "War God"
      • Rutger Claussell, the "Jaeger King"
      • Claire Rieveldt, the "Icy Maiden"
      • Yun Ka-Fai, the "Sword Hermit"
      • Victor S. Arseid, the "Radiant Blademaster"
      • Aurelia Le Guin, the "Golden Rakshasa"
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Inverted, more or less with the secret society Ouroboros and its Enforcers. Thanks to the extraordinary amount of freedom granted them, they can go off and do their own thing for apparently as long as they want and still nominally be considered a member of the group without having to perform any duties. They can even fight other Enforcers and still be welcomed back with open arms. In the Cold Steel games, Sharon Kreuger is welcomed back at the end of Cold Steel III, despite having spent years serving the Reinford family.
  • Rotating Protagonist: For the first time in the franchise, Hajimari has three protagonists and players can switch at anytime with the three routes.
  • Saintly Church: The Septian Church. The organization is credited with bringing the continent out of the dark times following the Great Collapse and among other services they provide free education to everyone up to the age of sixteen. They actively help the player throughout the series and several major PCs are priests or nuns. The Church is also generally quite tolerant of other beliefs.
    • That said, they do have a few shades of gray, largely because they are a continent-spanning hierarchy with room for differences of opinion on how best to defend the faith and because they know things that most people do not. The general consensus is that most of the gray comes from higher authorities in the Church putting the long term ahead of the moment. The fact that Kevin, Ries and Wazy willingly work for the Church despite being privy to some of its more secretive elements is a pretty good indication that the organization as a whole is good.
      • And even still, it has to be admitted that the Church higher-ups taking a "greyer", long-term view is understandable in the face of the willingness of their usual opponents to routinely engage in the sorts of depravity and horror that would leave most good-hearted people as shell-shocked catatonics - and has for a while, in the cases of a couple playable characters.
  • Say It with Hearts: And various other symbols, but hearts are a fairly common sight in the dialogue of certain characters, mainly Olivier (played straight) and Randy (usually mockingly).
  • Secret Art:
    • Methodism (techniques that resemble Orbal Arts but don't involve the use of Orbments) isn't exactly secret but its practice is rare in western Zemuria. It's implied that countries to the east have a few of these.
    • Luciola's illusion-crafting abilities are explicitly refered to in these terms. So is the magical ability of Witches, as first seen in Cold Steel.
  • Sentient Phlebotinum: It's later revealed in the franchise that the Sept-Terrion possess a certain level of intelligence. In the Data Crystal reports in SC, the Aureole was at least aware enough to actively try to foil Celeste D Auslese's plan to seal it in another dimension, first through addictive pleasure that's as mentally stimulating as drugs, and when there were still enough people left to resist it, sent a Reverie to finish the job. Demiourgos, unique from the others (for now) also has conscience to the point that it self-terminated after knowing what it caused to the civilization who drew upon its power.
  • Sequential Boss: Every final boss battle is one of these, usually but not always with a One-Winged Angel sequence thrown in for good measure. Cold Steel's end of Chapter bosses consist of nothing but this trope.
  • Series Fauxnale: The franchise has had a few:
    • Trails in the Sky SC was the originally intended ending of the story, given that the first two Sky games were envisioned as a single title before Executive Meddling caused them to be split. However, there were Sequel Hooks set up to cover the possibility of expanding the series, something which was confirmed with the subsequent release of Trails in the Sky the 3rd, which set the stage for numerous follow-up arcs to follow.
    • Trails of Cold Steel II resolves the plotline of the original Class VII's stay at Thors, as well as other major events such as the Erebonian Civil War and the conflict with Crossbell. When the plot is carried forward in Cold Steel III, it happens after a sizeable Time Skip.
  • Series Mascot:
    • Poms, bouncing little puffballs with eyes that come in all different varieties. The standout example (and the one that represented the franchise in Alternative Saga) is the Shining Pom, which adds wings and a halo.
    • Mishy, the mascot of Crosbell's Mishelam Wonderland and also considered the mascot of Nihon Falcom overall. A plush Mishy was included as an extra in the Thors Academy Edition release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III.
  • Shaping Your Attacks: Certain powerful characters have been known to do this, most prominently Cassius with Phoenix Wave where he forms his aura into a firebird. In the Crossbell games Lloyd does something similar with his first two S-Crafts and one of his Combo Crafts does it as well.
  • Single-Use Shield: The Max Guard effect provides complete protection against one attack (including things like debuffing Arts) while allowing items and benefitial Art/Craft effects to reach the character. There are some S-Crafts that grant the effect and can grant double Max Guard at 200 CP. There's also enemy-only abilities that grant the double effect or even a triple effect.
    • In the Sky trilogy, a trio of Arts grant this effect but it was severely nerfed starting in the Crossbell arc because Falcom realized it was too powerful, splitting the effects between physical and magical single-use shields and leaving Max Guard for S-Crafts only, or removing it entirely in Cold Steel.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness: Ouroboros is firmly established at High, and borders on Infinite at times, to the point where the bracer guild considers it a major accomplishment just to get any info on them and live to tell the tale. In both the Liberl and Crossbell arcs, they end the games having gotten exactly what they wanted, despite everything the heroes do. This in spite of the fact that Weissmann's personal plan in SC was foiled. In Ao, Ouroboros even ends with a bonus catch of two new members to replace the ones lost during SC... Which makes their total outwitting by Osborne in Cold Steel II even more astounding.
  • Smoke Out: The Smoke Ball item appears from Zero onwards (when running became a percentage thing, not guaranteed) and allows your party to instantly escape from non-plot battles. Also employed by certain characters as distractions.
  • Socketed Equipment: Orbments, which can have various Quartz crystals inserted (And the number/quality of the slots can be enhanced over the course of the game). Depending on what is placed in the various slots, the characters stats, abilities, and/or arts selection can be upgraded.
  • Spin-Off: The series is part of Falcom's The Legend Of Heroes series, which was a spin off of the Dragon Slayer series.
  • Standard Status Effects: Enemies tend to be just as vulnerable to them as you are. Even bosses are often vulnerable to at least a couple debuffs.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: Eventually you'll start to run into enemies who can cancel all your status buffs with certain attacks.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: Falcom designated the Sky trilogy as Legend of Heroes VI (at the time FC came out, nobody outside Falcom knew they were planning to turn it into such a huge series) but they stopped numbering the games starting with Zero, which was originally announced as 'Legend of Heroes VII' but the numbering was dropped when the title was revealed and they haven't looked back since then. As of 2014, the Trails games outnumber the pre-Trails games. It's pretty much outgrown the need for numbers at this point. At least until Hajimari showed in the Grandmaster-Gramhardt episode where it says "To be continued in The Legend Of Heroes IX." So while the games no longer show it, the developers clearly count it as such.
  • Storm of Blades: The recurring spell Silver Thorn combines this with Pillar of Light.
  • Super Move Portrait Attack: Starting with Zero, special character portraits appear at the beginning of S-Craft animations. The Evolution ports have started retroactively adding these to the Sky games as well.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: There are areas in the games where the higher three elements are active. In these places, very weird things can happen which are explicitly supernatural in nature. Certain characters can sense when they've entered one of these areas: People specially trained by the Church, people with a Stigma, people who have used Gnosis and Witches.
  • Talk to Everyone: A staple of the series where players are encouraged and sometimes, required to talk to everyone to progress through the plot.
  • Take Your Time: A trope that is sometimes played straight but frequently averted. Since your characters are supposed to be doing the sidequests, it's usually not surprising that the game allows you to do them during the main quest. There is a certain element of time-taking at work when, for example, you're supposed to be investigating a recent incident but can spend hours fishing or helping random townspeople with their problems before getting around to the investigation. Generally handwavable and whenever the plot gets really serious, this tends to be averted entirely as you stop being able to do any sidequests until you take care of whatever seriously important event is happening.
  • Tarot Motifs: The Ouroboros Enforcers all have a number, which when matched with the Tarot Arcana, lines up nicely with their personalities. Known ones are:
    • 0, The Fool: Campanella the Fool
    • I, The Magician: McBurn the Almighty Conflagration
    • II, The High Priestess: Loewe the Bladelord
    • VI, The Lovers: Luciola the Bewitching Bell
    • VIII, Strength: Walter the Direwolf
    • IX, The Hermit: Sharon Kruger, the Severing Chains
    • X, The Wheel of Fortune: Bleublanc the Phantom Thief
    • XIII, Death: Joshua Astray/Bright, the Black Fang
    • XV, The Devil: Renne Hayworth/Bright, the Angel of Slaughter
    • XVII, The Star: Shirley Orlando, the Sanguine Ogre
    • XIX, The Tower: Cedric Reise Arnor
  • Team Switzerland: Leman State is one of these for the Zemurian continent, neutral towards all the other countries and the home of the neutral-by-law Bracers Guild and the Epstein Foundation.
  • Tell Me How You Fight: Characters familiar with swordsmanship can usually tell a lot about Eight Leaves One Blade practitioners from the fact that they use that style and which of its eight Forms they specialize in. This especially comes up in Cold Steel where several characters psychoanalyze Rean by studying his fighting style.
  • The Battle Didn't Count:
    • In post-battle cutscenes, most of the human bosses will show little visible fatigue (and possibly pull a Villain: Exit, Stage Left) or reveal that they had yet to reveal their true power.
    • There are a few instances where this trope works in favor of the protagonists, such as when Estelle is instantly defeated in a scripted fight with a brainwashed Joshua only to fight Weissmann afterwards, or the times when Rean manages to pilot Valimar immediately after Hopeless Boss Fights.
  • The Catfish: From SC onwards, there has been a fishing minigame which inevitably includes at least one legendary fish, the catching of which proves that your character is a true fisherman. Usually, catching this fish can only be done after catching every other kind of fish in the game and requires lots of trial and error or a guide to find in the first place. SC and Cold Steel I and II have one each, Zero has two lesser ones and a main one and Ao has five, the first four needing to be caught before you can attempt the fifth. Catching them tends to reward you with a one of a kind item.
  • The Faceless: In Ao/Azure, those Anguis whose identities hadn't been revealed yet were represented in artwork as cloaked figures.
  • The Famine: What happens in the nation of North Ambria, which was hit by the Salt Pale, a giant pillar of salt that turned anything it came into contact with to salt: it bled into the soil and spread throughout North Ambria, killing a third of its population and, while the Salt Pale eventually stopped and ran out of power, the soil was damaged beyond repair through salinization, making it difficult to grow anything, and making living conditions for the survivors terrible.
  • The Ghost: Yun Ka-Fai, who has been mentioned since the 3rd and has been a teacher and mentor to a number of characters. As of the end of Cold Steel, he still has never been seen. Perhaps to remind us of this, that game revealed that he is known in-universe as the Sword Hermit.
  • The Legend of Chekhov: Any of the short story books found by players in the game are all based on real events that had happened before and these characters are all alive. Confirmed characters who have shown up are: Toval (Toby), Ein, and Micht (from Carnelia), Roselia (from Red Moon Rose), Swin, Nadia and the Emperor (from Three & Nine).
  • The Legend of X: Any title in The Legend of Heroes series.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Averted. While the main characters resolve incidents that should be far beyond their position's capabilities, they still need the help of more powerful organizations and individuals, especially when it comes to dealing with Ouroboros. This is actually deconstructed in the very first game, where Alan Richard treats Cassius Bright as a hero who near-singlehandedly won the Hundred Days War, causing him to become desperate for forbidden power when his idol retires from the military.
  • The Voice: All the Anguis and the Grandmaster in the 3rd, who are visually represented by pillars and light but the only thing we have to distinguish them is their voices and speech patterns. Since then, several have been revealed to the player while others remain mysterious.
  • Those Two Guys: Anton and Ricky appear in every arc as minor NPCs who provide a sidequest or two and a disproportionate share of crowning moments of funny. Anton is the recurring Butt-Monkey of the franchise, second only to Gilbert Stein.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: This seems to be a general principle for the Bracer guild no matter what enemies they face, as shown by how Estelle chews out Joshua for almost blowing up the Glorious and killing the Ouroboros soldiers onboard.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: KeA rewriting history in Zero. Also, according to Kizuna, the appearance of the Azure Tree causes this to happen.
  • Translation Convention: Maybe. It's really unclear exactly what the hell the characters are supposed to be speaking; the setting is obviously Western European-inspired and the lettering that appears in-game is the Roman-derived modern alphabet. There is a substitution cipher in Zero that really only makes sense if you assume the characters are using that alphabet for real. Furthermore, a number of terms appear in kanji - like "orbment" and all related terms or the various ranks in Ouroboros - but then include furigana in katakana above the kanji indicating what "foreign" word the characters are speaking while retaining meaning for Japanese readers. Japanese does not appear in-game but obviously Japanese/Chinese derived words do appear in situations involving Calvard or immigrants from farther east. There are also heavy French, Swiss, and Germanic influences in Erebonia and some in Liberl.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Starting from SC, getting the Zemuria Ore and bringing it to a certain NPC will grant you Infinity +1 Sword depending on which games you play on, for example Prof. Russell will be one only in SC while George will be the one in both Cold Steel I and II.
  • Unobtanium: Zemurian Stone. It was rare 1200 years ago when the ancients used it and it's rarer still in the present. They're used to synthesize the strongest weapons in all games but ''FC''. Cold Steel II finally reveals the source of the material condensed and crystalized energy flowing through Septium Pulses, gathered by the use of special structures buried deep underground.
  • Unblockable Attack: Attacks that have the ability to cancel buffs include this as a secondary effect, since the buff cancelling happens before the damage is calculated. Hence, Max Guard and its lesser variants won't protect against them. Up until Cold Steel II these have always been enemy-exclusive abilities. Offensive Lost Arts in Cold Steel II have this feature, finally granting it to the player.
  • Vehicular Assault: On occasion you'll find yourself fighting vehicle bosses. SC has the massive Orgueil, Ao has the RAT-09 with anti-Arts armor and Cold Steel has the Gaspard-G. One battle in Cold Steel II even has an airship providing fire support for the enemy, but it can't be targeted by the player. When the vehicles in question are mobile, they can cause massive damage just by moving around the map and running you over.
  • Vendor Trash:
    • If you are short on mira, you can convert some of your unneeded sepith to pay for needed gear. Considering that they are capped at 9999 in the Liberl and Crossbell games, there is no harm in doing this every now and then. From Cold Steel onward, the cap is raised to 99999. It also introduces a more proper example in the form of sepith mass, a byproduct which is worth several times more than normal sepith when converted and cannot be used in any other way.
    • Any rarely used items which are going to breach the 99 item limit can be considered this, as any extras will just disappear into thin air. Sell 10 or 20 of them to gain space and mira.
  • Villain Teleportation: Some Ouroboros members are fond of this, ensuring they complete their mission whether or not they defeat the party.
  • Visual Initiative Queue: The AT Bar, which shows when you and the enemies will next act and what Turn Bonuses are coming up. Manipulating this system becomes critical to success in later games.
  • Walking Spoiler: Because this series has a continuous narrative and characters tend to remain relevant after their individual arcs, it's pretty much impossible to talk about later games without certain massive character spoilers. It's also pretty difficult to look at character profiles for certain individuals without realizing that Something Is Up owing to all the spoilers.
  • Walking the Earth: The entire franchise generally tries to be realistic about this; the action of the story has, in ten games, still not left western Zemurianote . Each series focuses on one particular nation and doesn't involve a lot of wide-range globe trotting simply because the time and resources involved would be enormous. SC even points out that a trip from Liberl to Leman (which is apparently not that much further away than, say, Crossbell) is a full 24-hour day by airship, one way. That's not even mentioning the Loads and Loads of Characters that would need to make the trip. And then, By the end of the fourth game in the Erebonia arc, we learn the characters genuinely can't leave said continent, because every time they try, some mysterious phenomenon causes them to end up back in Zemuria.
  • Wave-Motion Gun:
    • A signature of the Gordias series, all but one has one of these in each shoulder. Their power was nicely demonstrated by Aion Type-Gamma, which wiped out an entire tank division with a single shot.
    • Also, when using Mode-S, the Merkabah class of airship have the Stigma Cannon.
  • Weapons Kitchen Sink: Happens in every arc; weapons observed side by side range from swords of every type to whips to handguns and shotguns to various types of bows to spears to Orbal Staffs, and that's not even covering the really exotic weapons. Semi-justified since Orbal technology can make archaic weapons relevant and the protagonists tend to be part of organizations that encourage individuality. When we see regular armed forces, they tend to be pretty consistent about using guns.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Averted with extreme prejudice. It doesn't matter where the player is in the game; everytime they talk to the same NPC after an event has passed, there will always be a new dialogue.
  • Wham Episode: The series is known for its wham episodes but special mention goes to FC where its own wham episode defines how the rest of the series operates from then on.
  • When It All Began: A few events can be blamed for kickstarting all the craziness concerning the current protagonists of the Series:
    • The Hamel Incident, which is part of an ancient curse placed upon Erebonia. This incident sparked the Hundred Days War between Erebonia and Liberl, and is the source of the dark and troubled pasts of Estelle, Cassius,note , Joshua, Ash, Loewenote , Agatenote , Rean, Osborne,note  and Lechternote . This incident started Osborne's ascension to power, which set a lot of scheming in motion, culminating into the events in Cold Steel III.
    • The airship accident between the border of Calvard Republic and Erebonia Empire. This accident is caused by the espionage battle between the Empire and Republic and a lot of Crossbell State citizens were caught in in, including Lloyd's parents and Ian Grimwood's family. The desire for a stronger Crossbell State so they don't become future victims of such espionage efforts is what starts the conspiracy in Zero and Ao. Some citizens from the Empire and the Republic lost their lives too as Towa mentions that her parents died in that accident as well.
    • There's also of course the Salt Pale incident at North Ambria that changes the lives of Weissman, Sully, and Sara.
  • World Building: Pretty much any review of a game in the series will mention the world-building, which is very well known for. The series is a really big world where every character from the main characters all the way down to NPCs that players can interact have an ongoing story that's happening while the plot is moving forward. From every arc there's hundreds of hours of plot content plus side quests that help build up the lore of the franchise. And they're all interconnected as well.
  • Wutai: The currently unnamed country or countries from further east where Calvard gets a lot of its immigrants from. Calvard itself is more Fantasy United States of America with a much heavier Chinese/Japanese influence.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: In general, Ouroboros's plans are thoroughly laid out so that there's no way to keep them from accomplishing their bare minimum objectives even if a few Enforcers are beaten in boss battles. The only reason why the Enforcers even bother entertaining the party's challenges is because they have personal reasons for fighting the party, they need to stall for time, they're bored, or some combination of the previous reasons. Although Osborne managed to thwart stage two or at least change it a bit for Ouroboros.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Unusual hair colors aren't exactly a surprise for a JRPG but in the Trails Series, it's explicitly and repeatedly mentioned that the hair colors we see are the same ones the characters see. Nobody looks at Lloyd strangely when he asks if anyone has seen a green-haired girl walking around for example and Noel describing her own hair as 'pink-brown' doesn't raise eyebrows either.
  • Your Door Was Open: A common RPG trope in full effect here. All of the games in this franchise are full of apartments and private homes. Your characters can pretty much just walk freely into any of them and chat up the residents, none of whom seem even the slightest bit bothered or surprised by the sudden presence of these people in their homes.
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Can't We All Just Get Along?

In the "The Legend of Heroes: Trails..." games, Gilbert's pathetic Craft (S-Craft?) involves him bowing before one of your characters and asking "Can't we all just get along?"... only to pull out a grenade. He realizes too late that he's much too close and ends up taking the damage from his attack as well. Or, as seen here, is the only one who takes damage maybe, as it can be guarded against.

How well does it match the trope?

3.5 (2 votes)

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