Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Tyranny

Go To
Sometimes, evil wins. note 

Tyranny is a Dark Fantasy Role-Playing Game, developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Paradox Interactive. It uses the same engine as Pillars of Eternity. It was released on November 10, 2016. It builds upon the mechanics used in Obsidian's previous title, and it also contains a number of options to adjust the difficulty of the game, in response to players' concerns. The game's most obvious twist lies in its premise - in a grand conflict between good and evil, evil has emerged victorious, and the player is placed in the shoes of an enforcer of the Evil Overlord.

The game is set in the world of Terratus, a High Fantasy world undergoing the very end of its Bronze Age and on the verge of ushering in an Iron Age. For 400 years, an enigmatic overlord, known as Kyros, has waged a campaign to put all of Terratus under their control, with the stated goal of imposing their peace and order upon the world. Three years ago, the legions of Kyros succeeded in the final leg of their conquest, when the small peninsula of the Tiers was finally brought to heel.


Yet the Overlord's victory is still not absolute, as rebellion rises in the former Tiersman kingdom of Apex. Normally, such a problem should be a minor issue for the might of Kyros' armies, but bickering and infighting in their ranks has allowed the rebellion not only to survive, but also putting up a surprising amount of successful resistance. Unhappy with their armies' performance, Kyros has a representative send out to the area to smooth over the reconquest process. This representative is the Player Character, an enforcer of the law and "justice" of Kyros' regime — a Fatebinder. It's up to players what they do with the power given to them.

On June 13, 2017, Tales from the Tiers, an event pack DLC was released alongside a free New Game Plus update. Tales from the Tiers adds over forty events that can occur randomly while traveling on the world map that can lead to new quests and treasures.


A more extensive expansion pack, Bastard's Wound was released on September 7, 2017. Bastard's Wound takes the player to the eponymous region of the Tiers, where they encounter an illegal refugee settlement. Bastard's Wound also contains additional quests for the companions Verse, Barik, and Lantry; Kills-In-Shadow, Eb and Sirin received opportunities to earn themselves an artifact each.

See the webpage for the game here.

This game provides examples of:

  • The Ageless: Archons can live for centuries, and there is no known case of an Archon dying of natural causes. The in-universe speculation is that Archons can only die if killed by another person, and there are very few non-Archons capable of such a feat.
  • Alien Sky: Though we don't get to see it, Terratus has two moons. The first is a large moon called Terratus Grave, which hangs in the sky as a static object (though it's usually described as tidally locked, this is actually a synchronous orbit, though it's entirely possible that Terratus Grave is both.) There's a closer and much smaller moon called the Interloper that orbits Terratus quickly and occasionally passes in front of Terratus Grave.
  • All There in the Manual: Averted. If important flavor text comes up in conversation, a mouseover links to the relevant information in the codex.
  • Alliance Meter: Factions play a significant role in the game; the two most prominent are the Disfavored and the Scarlet Chorus. Faction reputation is defined in terms of Favor and Wrath (with the former being positive and the latter negative, naturally), and you even get skills and/or talents depending on what they think of you. Faction allegiance also affects the world that players travel through; for example siding with the Chorus in the prologue will award them stewardship of a town which they'll be very grateful for. Other factions throughout the world also have Favor and Wrath meters, and earning a high amount of either (or both) with a given faction may confer unique bonuses.
  • Allowed Internal War: In Act II, the Scarlet Chorus and Disfavored are at war with one another, and possibly the Fatebinder's forces as a third side, and Kyros does nothing to stop it. In Act III, Kyros simply makes it official, declaring that the first Archon to kill or earn the loyalty of the others in the Tiers will become the Tiers' ruler.
  • Amazon Brigade: Of the six companions, four are women, easily allowing for an all-female party.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Kyros, the Overlord. The only people who have met them are the Archons, and they are tight-lipped about it.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: All magic practitioners must belong to sanctioned guilds that are heavily supervised by Archons. Unsanctioned magic practice is a capital offense, even if it is for something as trivial as lighting a candle.
  • Armor Is Useless: Heavy Armor at any rate. Heavy Armor carries significant penalties to Recovery Time, which affects how fast characters can do anything. For this reason, it's better for most builds to stick with leather or cloth armor.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: The Scarlet Chorus tend not to be specific on which backgrounds their recruits came from, resulting in the underclass and criminals making up the majority of the army.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Cairn, the Archon of Stone, is repeatedly stated to be supernaturally large. When you finally find him, he is Kaiju huge, with his head being three or four times as tall as the Fatebinder's entire body.
  • Author Appeal: You know you're in an Obsidian game when it features an ascendant evil empire, the chief generals of which can't get along thanks to their competing ideologies, the soul as something quantifiable and commodified, haunted ruins, masks, the colossal petrified remains of an extremely powerful being, past wars, past sins, a faction of slavers who dye their scavenged gear red and black and who rose to power by assimilating other tribes into themselves as they went, an unlikely party of lost souls thrust together seemingly by fate (including a fiery dual-wielding redhead, a walking suit of armor, and a scribe), mentor figures whose teachings were wrong, misguided, or evil, complex moral choices with no easy answers, and extensive dialogue trees which serve to turn the listener's entire worldview on its ear.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Crafting and Research in general. The Fatebinder has to pay rings (which can be carried over into New Game+) to construct improvements to the Spires (and for the improvements' maintenance), pay for hirelings and then hunt for resources. The kicker is that the Fatebinder can only carry over a limited number of artifacts for New Game+ (up to 9 for their ninth run), and there are plenty of good non-crafted artifacts.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • The game is set in the aftermath of an Evil Overlord successfully consolidating power and creating a world-wide draconian empire dedicated to their glory.
    • And in all but one, possibly two endings a bad guy will win the game.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: In the game, you are supposed to be an arbitrator of Kyros's laws. However, you will invariably find yourself interpreting them more flexibly. At the end of the game, you are summoned by the highest court to be held responsible for your actions throughout the game. Even though he is supposed to be the highest authority on Kyros's laws, you can still beat Tunon, the Archon of Justice himself, in his own court.
  • Beast Man: The Beasts, who are tribes of hulking humanoids scattered across the land. They are primarily matriarchal due to females being larger than males, and live to hunt and kill.
  • Big Head Mode: Available as a feature that can be toggled on and off among the basic setting options.
  • Bonus Boss: The Havoc in Oldwalls Breach, as a tough Flunky Boss which can be safely left alone while still otherwise completing the dungeon — unless you need the Steadfast Insignia which it guards.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Several areas are optional on certain runs, turning them into this. The Oldwalls probably come closest, as even when the Fatebinder is forced to enter them (forbidden under Kyros' Law), large sections may be avoided in favor of taking the most direct routes to your goal. Fatebinders on non-Disfavored runs can return to the Burning Library after sacrificing an artifact to take the place of the Silent Archive and lifting the Edict of Fire. New sections of the Library will then become available, complete with a Bonus Boss Havoc.
  • Brain Bleach: A number of conversations can trigger a character requesting some.
    • Verse responds this way when the Fatebinder asks Barik how he... enjoys himself while trapped in his armor.
    • Sirin has this reaction to Kills-In-Shadow's "Rut-Mate-Kill" game, declaring her intention to sing a song to give herself Laser-Guided Amnesia regarding the whole topic.
  • Brick Joke: When asked about his name, Lantry explains that unlike most Sages, he never got around to picking a more official-sounding name, such as "Dangling Participle" or "Apophasis"note . Later, when exploring the Burning Library, the former home of the Sages, one of the notes that can be found mentions a Sage Dangling Participle.
  • But Thou Must!: While the game offers many possible paths, it only allows choosing them at jarringly arbitrary times. For the most part, you can break off your current allegiance near the start of any quest line, but if you pass that point you're committed, and the game will flat out not offer any dialogue options that would disobey your current superior, even if it would be sensible or dramatically appropriate to do so.
    • For example, the Fatebinder cannot prevent the Voices of Nerat from gaining access to the forbidden Silent Archive once they get hold of it (which can cause some difficulties should they choose to fight Nerat in Act III), or stop the same Archon from taking a terrified mother and her infant into his "custody", even though the woman and possibly some of your party members outright beg you to intervene. If on a Chorus playthrough, the only way to stop Nerat from getting their targets is to kill said targets first, and the Edict of Storms cannot be lifted.
    • The game even rubs it in your face when Graven Ashe asks on your input on blighting the Stone Sea permanently; you're allowed to give a multitude of different options pro or con, some of whom will increase Ashe's favour due to soundness of arguments, but he'll always decide to go through with it anyway and you're not allowed to point out that it's illegal under Kyros' Law on Sharing and Quotas, as Tunon will agree with if you later decide to prosecute Ashe for it. Also, while allied with the Disfavored, the Fatebinder's options at the Burning Library will always collapse the Library, either by grabbing the Silent Archive and run, or by destroying the Archive. The option to use an artifact to replace the Archive is not available.
    • Fatebinders on non-Anarchy playthroughs will be forced into Act III after resolving the situation in three regions, leaving the fourth unresolved.
  • Character Class System: Not present, unlike many of Obsidian's games; you can focus on whatever skills you like.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe:
    • It's theorized by (among others) the oldest Fatebinder that Archons function this way. She knew Graven Ashe before he became an Archon, and he didn't have the power to keep his men from dying. But he was a great leader who could inspire confidence and bolster his troops morale, and they would in turn fight harder than they would despite the odds against them. As his legend grew with his victory, more and more people believed in Graven Ashe's powers until his leadership literally turned into the Aegis. It is clearly not the sole source of power for Archons — Sirin had at least some of her power before anyone outside her home village had heard of her — but there's still some hints that it is what makes Archons Archons.
    • Artifacts may also gain power this way. While some have innate power, they also gain power as their legend grows.
    • Lantry hypothesizes that Edicts work this way too. He points out that no Edict has ever ended on its own, only by the fulfillment of its terms. He also states that Edicts seem to add magic to the world rather than use it to fuel their existence. This leads him to conclude that Edicts function the same way as Archons, except that because of their destructive nature they feed off of fear instead of general belief.
    • It extends to The Fatebinder. The continuing resolution of Kyros' edicts, whether or not they're followed in the way the Overlord intended, has the effect of imbuing the Player Character with some magic, as well as people's continued belief that the Fatebinder is a person worth following or fearing, elevating them into the status of Archon of Edicts.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Disfavored are hailed under the banner of Purple Is Powerful. The Scarlet Chorus are enclosed in masses as Red and Black and Evil All Over.
  • Combination Attack: There are unlockable techniques where you work in tandem with companions to perform special attacks.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Archons and few other boss characters are immune to stuns for no other reason than you typically fight them alone and stunlocking them would be anticlimactic.
  • Cool Helmet: The Disfavored's uniform noticeably includes a cool skull-helmet.
  • Crapsack World: The war in which Kyros the Overlord rose to power certainly didn't do the world any favours. Some parts of it may have been like this even before; one region is described as having been "ruined and depopulated by constant war" between the four Younger Realms such that it has been largely abandoned for centuries.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Cairn, Archon of Stone, is said to be killed in the Conquest after rebelling against Kyros. In the second act of the game, he is revealed to be Not Quite Dead, though rendered comatose by Kyros' Edict of Stone. Deciding what to do with him is a major quest for the area.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The Scarlet Chorus like to mark their territory by impaling their enemies on spikes and leaving the bodies there. Done ridiculously so if you side with the Chorus many major characters will end up on a spike near The Voice of Nerat.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: A couple of the Archons were Kyros' foes before being made to serve them.
    • Graven Ashe, Archon of War and commander of the Disfavored, joined Kyros after Kyros defeated Ashe's homeland. Though this is Deconstructed on some points. After Ashe was defeated at a steep cost in terms of time, resources, and manpower (including the previous Archon of War), Ashe and his remaining men were captured and offered to join Kyros not as a formal or respectful invitation, but more in the form of "an offer you can't refuse." This leads to the Voices of Nerat, Archon of Secrets and leader of the Scarlet Chorus, to oppose Graven Ashe at every turn, one of the possible reasons being Nerat doesn't believe Ashe's conversion and loyalty to be genuine, and another being that Nerat never forgave Ashe for a humiliating defeat.
    • Bleden Mark once tried to assassinate Kyros because it seemed like a fun and challenging job. He obviously didn't succeed. Rather than have him slain, Kyros decided to recruit him to be their official headsman and executioner (and unofficial assassin).
    • The player recruits the party member Eb this way as well, provided you don't consign her to death — after the final and crushing defeat of the Vendrien Guard or the Fatebinder's defection to their ranks at the Spire, she pledges herself to your service for lack of an alternative. If she can't fight you directly, better to at least have your ear.
  • Delayed Narrator Introduction: The opening cutscene is narrated by what turns out to be Eb, a rebel Tidecaster, who can be made to swear herself into the Fatebinder's service after neutralizing her comrades. The final credits are narrated by her as well, lending some credence to the notion that her joining the Fatebinder and surviving — or perhaps being absorbed into the Voices of Nerat — is to some extent the more canonical route through the game.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • If you rest for 8 days before reading the Edict of Execution at the Disfavored Camp, then you'll have 363 days instead of 8 to quash the rebellion because Kyros' day of Swords is a specific date that comes once a year. Since the Edict doesn't specify a year, if you wait past that day to read the Edict (which triggers it), you then have a full year to fulfill it.
    • In-universe, naming a child after Kyros, directly or indirectly, is punishable by death for both the named and the namer. If the player tries to name their character "Kyros" or anything containing that name, the name will be declared invalid at the naming screen and they'll have to choose a new one. However, this does not extend to names which sound the same.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Rimespike spell, which is available in the very first level at a modest lore requirement, but does almost triple the damage of any other single-target spell and inflicts the very powerful Frozen status effect. A party of mages armed with this spell will flatten everything that looks at them wrong, until the actual nukes from the Chaotic Descent sigil come into play.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: This is the power of the Earthshakers, a school of mages in the service of the Disfavored. They learned everything from Cairn, the Archon of Stone, who was powerful enough to ravage countries and fortifications on his own.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: All statements made in Kyros's name must be factually correct on pain of death. This means that saying "By Kyros, that man is an idiot!" can get you executed if someone proves that man is not an idiot.
  • Divided We Fall: The rebellion of Vendrian's Well is so successful largely because the Disfavored and the Scarlet Chorus detest one another too much to effectively cooperate. Also, see Playing Both Sides below.
    • And during the Conquest itself, this is what led to the Tiers falling to Kyros' rule - each faction took a Let's You and Him Fight approach, figuring they could win out against the invading forces once their long-held enemies had already fallen.
  • Dying Speech: All the archons give one if they're killed, though in Bleden Mark's case it's more of a 'dying one-liner'.
  • Elite Army: The Disfavored are known for being among the better trained, disciplined and equipped of Kyros' forces while their Archon's power heals them to quickly recover from all but the worst of injuries, letting their experience persist and strengthening their loyalty. In contrast to the Scarlet Chorus, they are very selective with their recruiting methods and proud of their northern heritage, with the occasional Cultural Posturing that implies.
  • Elite Mook: Fatebinders like the player are Tunon's agents, making them high-ranking enforcers of Kyros.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Men and women are considered equal within Kyros' empire, whereas the Tiersmen believe that men should control the seas (i.e. hold authority in navies) whereas women should control the land (i.e. are the only ones allowed to be legal landowners).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: This is the entire purpose of Tunon and his Fatebinders, and by extension, the player - To embody and enforce the standards evil has. Aside from that, the Voices of Nerat and Graven Ashe cite this constantly in regards to each other and various NPCs will call out the player character if they do something especially sick, especially if it's pointless or counterproductive.
  • Everyone Is Bi: All of your party members are at least (except possibly Lantry, who no longer cares much about such things anyway). Kyros, if they even have a gender, seems to be this as well (having all genders in their Royal Harem) and may be promoting this across their Empire.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Averted for the rather scrawny Voices of Nerat, played straight for the other Archons. Tunon is rail thin but toweringly tall, Graven Ashe is a large man by any measure, and Cairn is the size of a Kaiju.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Archonsnote . It's as much a title as a magical concept in this setting, and individuals who have certain magical significance are agelessly immortal and take on unique powers as they age which followers can channel, but they become less humanlike over the centuries. Graven Ashe, who is one of the more recent Archons, has been commanding the Disfavored for at least three generations, still appears human beside the glowing eyes. Tunon and Nerat on the other hand appear to hardly be classified as human any more. Tunon appears to be just shadows wearing clothing, and Sirin describes him as having no presence. The Voices of Nerat on the other hand looks like a green, humanoid fire wearing red robes and a mask, and enjoys adding more voices to himself.
  • Evil Overlord: Kyros the Overlord, in whose armies the player character has risen to high rank. There may be a trace of Well-Intentioned Extremist to Kyros, who is said to have embarked on conquest after surveying various "warring factions" and deciding that "the world would be better" under a single system of law.
  • Evil Virtues:
    • As mentioned above, Kyros detests sexism, and aims to bring order, peace, civility, and unity to the world, and has laws to heavily regulate magic and certain forms of knowledge, both of which can be very dangerous if misused. The trouble is that "Kyros's Peace" can be oppressive and very punitive, and often enforced by threat of death. This is probably a case of Pragmatic Villainy: just because Kyros seeks to bring justice and order doesn't mean they aren't still an Evil Overlord.
    • Tunon seeks to enforce the laws fairly and objectively, enforcing order and serving justice to those under his purview, going so far as to compensate people who have lost property in Kyros's invasion. The problem is that while Tunon isn't strictly cruel, he isn't merciful, he doesn't quite share the same definition of "fair" as most people, and his slavish devotion to law and protocol means he sometimes edges towards Blue-and-Orange Morality.
    • Graven Ashe is honorable to a fault, always keeps his word, and treats his troops like family — but looks down on everybody else as inferior by blood. He and his men can be bloodthirsty and outright vindictive towards former foes.
    • A complicated example in the form of the Voices of Nerat, who at least claims to be uniting the peoples of the Tiers in service to Kyros's forces, as the empire has an obvious vested interest in leaving someone left alive to be part of the tax base and labor force, rather than, as Ashe would prefer, fighting them to the last, thus rooting out any potential traitors. Nerat's claim to good intentions is the most suspect of the Archons, as he only serves Nerat and himself, seeking to increase his own power and the fear he inspires at every turn, cultivating his reputation as the Empire's greatest monster even among his own troops... yet Nerat claims the Chorus's campaign of terror serves a pragmatic purpose: not to kill, conscript, enslave, or torture all of Kyros's enemies, but rather to create the fear that he might, to cow all the other villages in the Chorus's path. By creating such a horrific example, Nerat claims at one point, he saves the lives of everyone who chooses to surrender to the Empire, rather than risk the same fate.
  • Exact Words: Kyros' Edicts work entirely based on this. Tunon himself is heavily biased towards this. The player themselves can avail themselves to this in a few of their interactions.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Terratus represents a world having just reached the end of its Bronze Age, with iron weapons and armor as the new nuke. While we see little of the rest of the world, the Tiers seem to be patterned after the Greek peninsula at various points in its history, fertile valleys and plains littered with ruins and squabbling city-states, enclosed within rocky, defensible borders. Haven has the naval power of Athens, while the Vellum Citadel has its reputation for learning, and Stalwart has the martial tradition of Sparta. Apex's defining feature is its beloved queens, the way Thebes is known for its long line of kings. The Bastard Tier was a mercantile power like Corinth or Syracuse, and prior to Cairn's rampage and the subsequent declaration of the Edict of Stone, Azure is described in the most glowingly pastoral Arcadian terms. Kyros's Conquest also parallels various conflicts from throughout Antiquity, with events that mirror Persia's invasion of Greece, the Peloponnesian Wars, even raids by Vikings or the coming of the Huns.
    • Kyros's empire is an amalgam of various real-world empires, but their manner of adding the might of conquered armies to their own is decidedly Roman. Those who submit willingly even keep a measure of their power and may become citizens rather than slaves under Kyros's Peace. The name "Kyros' Peace" itself mirrors the concept of the Pax Romana, a period of relative stability following the expansion and peak of the Roman Empire.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Edicts are spells capable of widespread destruction and devastation across an entire land and are the reason that Kyros is so feared.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Disfavored consider being born in the North to be one of the essential components of their doctrine as a legion. They flatly refuse to recruit anyone who isn't a Northerner, regardless of skill. Barik, the Disfavored party member, repeatedly mentions that one of the Tiersmans' (Southerners') greatest weaknesses is their inferior breeding.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Kyros's armies who on paper are supposed to enforce the peace are both rife with corruption. The Disfavored are inflexible about rules, codes, and customs and violating any of these can be punishable by death. They are prone to Disproportionate Retribution often slaughtering their enemies to the last man for the crime of harming a few of their own. They are also racist, harassing anyone that isn't from the North, which is problematic when Kyros's Empire spans the whole continent. The Scarlet Chorus is much more receptive to equality, which means they rape, torture, and kill everyone equally including people from their own ranks. There is a critical lack of oversight in the Scarlet Chorus as their commander, the Voices of Nerat, only cares about military victories and absorbing souls for power. They also recruit their ranks by forcing civilians to fight to the death, which means losses that can't be taxed or be part of the labor force. Verse tells the Fatebinder that even if Kyros succeeds, they will simply find another reason to incite violence because they don't thrive in stability. To make matters worse, there is also the constant Interservice Rivalry between the Disfavored and the Chorus, which lead them to waste lots of time and resources on undermining each other rather than actually carrying out their assigned tasks.
  • Foreshadowing: For the first mission, you can actually sleep past 8 days to bypass the Edict's deadline, giving you a full year to fulfill the Edict's requirements. This tells you that the Edicts can be subjected to Loophole Abuse.
    • In Bastard's Wound, many main and side quests hint at the fact that neither Jaspos nor Wagstaff is the best leader to lead the Wound.
  • Friendly Fireproof: There is no friendly fire in this game, the idea being to allow the player to be more adventurous with their tactics.
  • Functional Magic: Magic in Terratus generally works by the caster signing the proper sigil. Sigils invoke the power of Archons, immensely powerful men and women whose mere existence both discovers/creates new forms of magic and empowers the type of magic over which they have jurisdiction. To use a given sigil requires conscious knowledge of both the Archon whose sigil it is and the meaning of the sigil (both the intent behind it and the effect it is meant to achieve). Objects can also be enchanted, or (in the case of particularly well-known items) gain power on their own to become Artifacts. Magic also runs on the power of belief, at least in part, meaning that individuals, groups, and objects can become more powerful through and are shaped by the collective belief and will of the world.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: People in the world of Tyranny become more powerful by acquiring specific reputations; this is how many Archons gain and increase their abilities. The reason why getting high reputations with the various factions in the Tiers gives you special abilities is because you are becoming an Archon.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • You may be one of Kyros's elite agents, but you start the game a level 1 sucker with basic gear, despite many characters having magical gear. This aspect becomes averted in New Game+.
    • Fatebinders are supposed to be bound by Kyros' law, and although they're given more leeway than most, Tunon will execute any who flagrantly break the law. At least, that's what he says. In actuality, you can break whatever laws you want, and everyone except Tunon will react to it, the one exception being the "Final Judgement" quest, where he may call you out on specific instances of breaking the law. While it makes some sense that Tunon either doesn't hear or doesn't care about petty bribes note , it's also possible to ask him about the Oldwalls – to which he responds that nobody under any circumstance may enter them – after coming straight from the Oldwalls, while wielding Artifacts only found in the Oldwalls.note 
    • The Conquest prologue and many lines of in-game dialogue stress the differences between Kyros' two armies: the Disfavored supposedly field smaller numbers of highly-trained and disciplined troops, fighting in phalanx formations and defeating foes in greater numbers thanks to their superior tactics and equipment. The Scarlet Chorus is almost the exact opposite, neglecting to train or even equip most troops and simply destroying enemies through weight of numbers, while occasionally deploying elite fighters who have become elite simply by virtue of surviving more than a few battles. In gameplay, there are no real formations and the two armies are roughly equal in terms of numbers and overall quality. The only difference is in how the individuals fight; Disfavored are more likely to field heavily-armored troops while the Scarlet Chorus will field archers, and the former's spellcasters will control earth while the latter's will control fire. note 
  • Gender Is No Object: All militaries in both the Empire and the Tiers are co-ed. While there are some gendered titles (First Brother of the Bronze Brotherhood and the Scarlet Furies of the Scarlet Chorus) they are open to both genders.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: This is how Kyros appears to outsiders. Of course, the player knows otherwise-they're just secretive.
  • Golden Ending: Played with, but largely averted. In non-Anarchist playthroughs, there will always be one region where the Fatebinder cannot visit, and the ending will reflect that. If the unvisited region is affected by an Edict, the region is noted to never recover from devastation, for obvious reasons. Barring that, the Rebel playthrough has the best ending for the Burning Library, as it is restored to the Sages, preserving knowledge for all. Contrast this to the hoarding of knowledge by the Fatebinder (Anarchist), plunder by the Chorus and destruction of knowledge under the Disfavored, as the Library physically collapses; the Silent Archive can be saved or destroyed.
    • Lethian's Crossing thrives under the Disfavored, as iron production continued. In the Rebel path, it endures some damage as the rebel factions attempt to settle their wartime rivalries and govern the place well. If left in the hands of the Bronze Brotherhood (the ending also happens if the Fatebinder never resolves the Crossing quest chain during a Disfavored/ Scarlet Chorus playthrough), the place descends into anarchy and chaos, while the Chorus governs the Crossing through terror. If the Fatebinder defeats the faction garrisoning the Crossing in the Anarchist path, a local merchant grabs the Crossing for himself, occupying the settlement but bringing modest prosperity to the area. All the above endings is dependant on the Fatebinder leaving the Magebane helmet with the Crossing. Otherwise, the Bane crushes the Crossing, forcing survivors to abandon the place.
    • Blade Grave recovers as long as the Edict of Storms is lifted, which cannot be done in a Chorus playthrough; the different paths mainly affect Amelia's fate. In the Rebel path, she helps with the region's reconstruction. In the Disfavored path, she remains with the Disfavored, but is distrusted by them. In the Anarchist path, she wanders the Tiers with her baby. In the Chorus path, she joins her brother as part of the Voices.
    • Whether or not the Edict of Stone is lifted, someone will be screwed. Lifting the Edict without blighting the region empowers the humans, forcing the Stonestalker Beastmen to retreat or otherwise become slaves. Blighting the region or not lifting the Edict ensures that humans never reclaim the region, empowering the Stonestalkers. The Disfavored path is noteworthy for screwing both the Stonestalkers and the humans, as the Stonestalkers are killed and the region is blighted.
    • As for the Archons, the Fatebinder can always convince Tunon to yield with high Favor, low Wrath, loyal companions and replies which satisfy Tunon at their trial, and let a loyal Verse take over the Voices at the end of her personal quest. Ashe will only submit in the Disfavored path and without Verse taking over the Voices. While Mark can submit in the Anarchist path, he turns out to be useless in the grand scheme of things, as Kyros (like Tunon) has the ability to subdue Mark.
    • There is a Golden Ending for Bastard's Wounds: Reef-Talon must be persuaded to return to the settlement as leader AND to resume using her powers. This requires the Fatebinder to interpret the Oldwall murals a la Cold Reading. In addition, during the townhall session to select the Wound's leader, the Fatebinder must praise Jaspos's and Wagstaff's efforts to resolve the Wound's water issues without revealing their dirty secrets; the ending then notes that the pair continues to use their water purifying methods discreetly, and later even develops a relationship cordial enough to have short conversations.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: As much of a standard as there in an Antiquity/Bronze Age world. The currency is rings instead of coins, which are made out of iron (gold), bronze (silver), and copper.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality:
    • Of a sort — the Scarlet Chorus and Disfavored are both the servants of an Evil Overlord, and so both very dark shades of grey. But within that context, neither is clearly and unambiguously A Lighter Shade of Black, with merciful decisions spread out between them. Internally, each group has Well Intentioned Extremists, total psychopaths, and everything in between.
    • The rebel factions are not really better either. Although their leaders pose as heroic freedom fighters, they only care about their own personal glory or to remain in power, regardless of how many of their own civilians die. When cornered, they often tend to run away, sacrificing their soldiers to shield their retreat. Also, before the conquest, the Tiers were certainly not a democratic utopia, and there was constant warfare between the regions, so the common people were suffering for centuries. Commoners living in already conquered regions under Kyros's Peace are at least safe from being invaded, looted, and pillaged every year by one neighboring lord or another. However, if the Fatebinder pursues the Rebel path, they knock some sense into the various rebel factions, allowing some regions to have good/best endings. Examples include Lethian's Crossing (which only fares better under the Disfavored, as iron production is uninterrupted in that path), Blade Grave (where Amelia helps with reconstruction), and the Burning Library (with the Edict of Fire lifted and the Sages returning to the Library).
    • For that matter, the only important character who can actually be described as evil is the Voices of Nerat, who freely admits to being a psychopath- and yet, in some of the most important disputes between the Chorus and the Disfavored, he's in the right! Nerat wants to assimilate the Tiersman into the Chorus, and thus into Kyros' realm, where Graven Ashe sees them all as vermin and would prefer to see them all dead or enslaved.
    • In Bastard's Wound, the eponymous refugee camp's two competing leaders, Jaspos and Wagstaff, are both working to improve the camp in their own ways, but they are also both very vain people willing to commit murder to advance their personal ambitions and are both willing to endanger the camp to gain an edge on the other. They are also both abusing the Wound's Beastmen to solve the area's water contamination issues, although this has the unintentional benefit of suppressing the stronger Beastmen, who were becoming restless, as their leader Reef-Talon is not around to keep them in line. Jaspos is the slightly more brutal of the two, but both of them are ruthless enough that neither of them can really be considered heroic.
  • Guide Dang It!: In Bastard's Wound:
    • Getting the "History of the Oldwalls" quest requires completing both Jaspos and Wagstaff's quests and declining to hunt Reef-Talon on either one of their behalves. Then, you have to talk to Mell, a very minor NPC, who gives you a third branch for the DLC. This route is the only one that allows you to give Reef-Talon the confidence she needs to be an effective leader of the Wound and to master her powers, but the game never tells you that it is possible. In addition, reading the Oldwalls murals before the game tells you to can break this quest, rendering the DLC uncompletable. The game was eventually patched so Jaspos and Wagstaff direct the player to Mell if the quest is available.
    • The DLC has secret small sidequests for Eb, Sirin, and Kills-In-Shadow that the game barely hints at:
      • Eb: Bring her to meet Wagstaff, complete his quest by recovering the tome he was really after, and ask for an incentive to hunt Reef-Talon for him (actually siding with Wagstaff is optional), and he'll give you an item to give to Eb, which she uses to create an Artifact version of her staff. Alternatively, bring Wagstaff the tools Jaspos wants and he'll give you the item as well.
      • Sirin: Examine the strange singing stones in Cairn's Passage with Sirin in the party. Then, find the ancient Oldwalls parchment in the Darkened Hollow, show it to Sirin, and give it to the NPC that runs the Spire Library. In Act 3, Sirin will use her new found knowledge to loosen the Restraining Bolt of her helmet, turning it into an artifact.
      • Kills-In-Shadow: Examine all of the Bastard Wound's Oldwalls murals with Kills-In-Shadow in the party. She will use the murals's knowledge to give herself bane powers, permanently equipping an artifact to her previously unusable armor slot.
  • Healing Factor: Graven Ashe's Aegis allows the Disfavored to recover from all but the most grievous of injuries.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: The Fatebinder can receive unique insights (and hilarious moments) by convincing Lantry to let them sample his inks, which have various psychedelic effects.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: Terratus uses Kyros's calendar, which is believed to have begun either when Kyros first proclaimed themself the Overlord or when Kyros declared the first Edict.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Seems to be the crux of Kyros' ruling philosophy, and given how quickly the squabbling Tiers fell to their conquering armies, there's plenty of room to argue they're on to something.
  • The Horde: The Scarlet Chorus are a loosely-organized rabble that are more akin to a massive bandit gang than a proper army due to the fact that they'll conscript and recruit just about anyone. Compared to the Disfavored's combined-arms formations, the Scarlet Chorus mostly just try to overwhelm the enemy under their numbers.
  • Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction: The School of Ink and Quill describes itself one of these, claiming to seek only the preservation and spread knowledge. In actuality, they've been manipulating the realms of the area into fighting each other.
  • Interface Spoiler: You will gain Loyalty and Fear in conversations with Eb when she is still your enemy, spoiling that she can be recruited as a party member later on, as early as Act 1 on the Rebel path.
    • In general, if a character's introductory dialogue has voice acting, they're either an Archon, a recruitable party member, or in Sirin's case, both.
    • Letting the Day of Swords pass without proclaiming the Edict is significant Foreshadowing...that you could clue in on if you've read the achievement list beforehand and wonder why there'd be an achievement just for trying to get what would usually be a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Conflicts and power struggles between Archons are common, most prominently Graven Ashe and his Disfavored and The Voices of Nerat and his Scarlet Chorus. One of your duties as Fatebinder is to settle disputes between the forces of Kyros.
  • Interspecies Romance: One of Kills-in-Shadows' hunting stories involves her chasing down a rumor of a man named Nerik... who ruts with Beastwomen. It turns out he's a book-dealer, and stranger still, friendly with a Beastwoman named Pad-Foot, the Bolverk of a small pack. She and her packmates help Nerik lift crates and cargo no human could. Pad-Foot, knowing she's no match for Kills-in-Shadow, pleads for her human mate's life... and most surprisingly of all, Kills-in-Shadow agrees to let him live, in one of the only unsuccessful hunts she tells you about.
  • Ironic Nickname: The blade that The Voices of Nerat uses to torture his enemies to death is named "Gentle Touch." However, the name isn't entirely ironic:
    This sword's name would suggest mercy and restraint, but it would be mercy to strike a victim down at once, and restraint would only prolong suffering at the tip of this blade. Better to deliver death quickly than with a gentle touch.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: The player character, as a Fatebinder in the armies of Kyros the Overlord, is supposed to take this role with regards the conquered population. It's up to players how to use it — although the job isn't completely oversight-free, being under the "watchful eye" of the Archon of Justice, Tunon the Adjudicator, who can execute the player if he deems that the player's actions violated Kyros's laws.
  • Kangaroo Court: Tunon will eventually bring the Fatebinder to one when they become too powerful. Delightfully, however, Tunon is so devoted to law that with the right Loophole Abuse and good character witnesses, the Fatebinder can be found innocent, "in defiance of all expectation and reason".
  • Landmark Sale: When Ed discusses the possibility of Kyros being a brother/sister tandem, she states that if the hero could find two siblings who work for two centuries together, then she has an ocean to sell.
  • Legendary Weapon: Artifacts, which are special pieces of weapon and armor that possess unique powers that can be unlocked by increasing it's reputation.
  • Loophole Abuse: A number of edicts can be resolved this way.
    • The Edict of Execution at the start of the game has two, not necessarily mutually exclusive, loopholes:
      • At the very beginning, before even reading the Edict, a loophole can be used. If the Fatebinder waits until after Kyros' Day of Swords to read the Edict, they get an entire year to try and resolve the Edict instead of eight days because the Edict does not specify a specific year.
      • Towards the end of Act I, the Fatebinder can join the Rebellion and end the Edict by not officially recanting their loyalty to Kyros, and getting the Rebellion to kneel before them as vassals... even with the intention of rebelling against Kyros' rule after the Edict is dealt with.
    • Kyros's Edict of Storms will not end until the line of Stalwart's Regents ends. This causes problems when you kill the last Regent only to learn that he has a newborn grandchild. While it appears as though the only way to end the Edict is to murder the baby, if you have enough lore or if you found a historical document in the Burning Library, you can have the baby's mother abdicate the regency on her baby's behalf, thus bringing the line of Regents to an end and breaking the Edict. According to Tunon, Kyros did not intend the Edict to be resolved in this manner.
    • The Edict of Fire, meant to burn the Vellum Citadel to cinders, will not end until no "forbidden lore" remains within the walls of what is now called the Burning Library. Even if the forbidden lore, instead of being destroyed as intended, is simply removed from the premises.
    • The citizens of Bastard's Wound tries to argue this when you encounter them, citing they haven't entered an Oldwall (which is against Kyros' laws on penalty of death with only one indicated exceptionnote ), they're beneath an Oldwall. It probably wouldn't stand if Tunon were to judge it, but it is entirely possible (and encouraged, since not doing so locks out most of the content of the eponymous DLC) for the Fatebringer to roll with it.
  • Lost Forever: Plenty of events and NPCs can be lost to the player if they don't play their cards right in their interactions. Saving before events and interactions in order to see all possible outcomes is a common advice given to new players.
  • The Magocracy: What the Empire essentially boils down to, although because of the nature of magic in the setting it ends up being Played With a bit. Kyros is the most powerful mage to ever exist, and appoints Archons as generals, rulers of territories, and deputies. However, not all Archons have typical magic abilities, and regular mages aren't granted any special importance not proportionate to their merit.
  • Malevolent Masked Men:
    • Tunon, The Archon of Justice, wears a shiny metal mask covering his whole face called the Mask of Judgment to prevent anyone from seeing his face and learning his true feelings about cases set before them. As Tunon has the authority to execute you for making a judgment that violates Kyros's laws and he is said to be so powerful that all of the other Archons fear him, upsetting this masked man in a bad idea.
    • The Voices of Nerat, Archon of Secrets, also wear a rather frightening mask, adorned with spikes and made to look like the face of a disapproving man.
      • Making both of these masked men ever more malevolent is that their masks can change. Voices of Nerat's mask twists around to reveal other faces when accessing the memories of those whose minds he has devoured, while Tunon has two different expressions that his mask subtly shifts between depending on the situation. One of Tunon's mask he has reportedly not worn in centuries. As an NPC puts it,
    "They switch without the Adjudicator or anyone so much as laying a hand on them. It's not something you can watch unfold. After a time, you merely realize it has already happened."
  • Meaningful Name: Kyros, the Evil Overlord, whose name might be from Greek. The word κύρος means power, authority, supremacy, or prestige, and Κῦρος (with a different diacritic) is the Greek form of Cyrus (as in the Persian empire-builder).
  • Mouth of Sauron: The Fatebinder's role is to act as Kyros' enforcer and representative.
  • Name Order Confusion: Discussed In-Universe — the Fatebinder can comment on the fact that nobles of the Tiers use their family/house names first and their given name second, while most non-nobles have Only One Name. The same may or may not hold true in the Northern Empire as well — based on the Fatebinder's comments, this isn't universal, but among the game's principal characters, most have Only One Name or single names with titles (such as "Graven" Ashe and "Bleden" Mark).
  • New Game+: The June 13, 2017 patch adds a new game plus mode. It allows you to carry over two Artifacts (or non-Artifact items dropped by slain Archons) per completed playthrough, two reputation abilities per playthrough, your stats (although you are allowed to reallocate your stat points), your rings, and your learned spell cores and accents.
  • Non-Combat EXP: Passing skill checks earns you XP for that skill. Also, if you end up talking your way out of a fight, you get a set amount of XP distributed to your highest skills.
  • No Ending: Infamously, the game abruptly ends just as your rebellion against Kyros gets off the ground.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you fail to quash the Oathbreaker rebellion within eight days after proclaiming Kyros's Edict, the Edict kills everyone in the valley, including you.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: A Vendrian-aligned Fatebinder can insist this is the case, though it rings a bit hollownote . This is the case for several of your companions on a Rebel playthrough, though; Verse, for instance, mostly doesn't care as long as you keep giving her enemies to kill.
  • Not Quite Dead: The purpose of the Edict of Stone was to kill the wayward Archon of Stone, Cairn. Even though the land has been ravaged to the point of being dubbed "the Stone Sea", Cairn still hangs by a thread, comatose but alive.
  • Off the Rails: Not as much as what one might expect from an Obsidian RPG. For starters, the Fatebinder cannot initiate combat outside of dialogue; thus, they cannot arbitrarily attack anyone. Next, map locations are mostly revealed during quests; exploration only applies to sub-sections of a location.
    • However, betraying either the Chorus or the Disfavored is the only way to have some flexibility in resolving the situation at the Stone Sea (for Disfavored) or the Burning Library. The Burning Library is noted to have the most restrictive resolution if the Fatebinder remains with either faction, as the Fatebinder is forced to either surrender the knowledge held within the Silent Archive to Nerat (Chorus), or collapse the Library. (Disfavored).
  • Oh My Gods!: Subverted, as Kyros' Law explicitly prohibits the use of their name in this manner, as they are aware that having people call upon them for every little thing would quickly diminish the prestige of their name — essentially, it is law in the empire that thou shalt not take Kyros' name in vain. Further enforcing this is the fact that if someone does swear by Kyros' name, then whatever oath they swore is considered binding on pain of death.
  • Omnicidal Neutral: The Anarchist path involves betraying every major power in the Tiers for the Fatebinder's own audacious ambition.
  • One-Man Army: Cairn, the Archon of Stone. When he rebels against Kyros, the player has to sacrifice Disfavored and/or Scarlet Chorus troops just to slow him down.
  • One Steve Limit: One of Kyros's laws is not to misuse their name, with "misuse" falling under a very specific understanding. "Progeny, product, location, or abstraction" may not be named Kyros under penalty of death, meaning Kyros allows only themself to be the one and only "Kyros", and it has caused some ignorant, albeit well meaning folks who named a kid after Kyros to cause themselves and their kid to vanish. The other half is a bit more arcane, such as invoking Kyros's name under most circumstances is acceptable (a hangover is sometimes called "Kyros's punishment", which appears to be fine), but specifically using Kyros's name with games of chance (calling a winning streak and losing streak "Kyros's blessing" and "Kyros's curse" respectively) is forbidden. Perhaps Kyros prefers to be associated with inevitability rather than chance and probability. This is why you are not allowed to name your character "Kyros" in Character Creation.
    • Of course, this restriction makes a lot more sense when you learn just how exploitable Kyros' Edicts actually are. Obviously, they would make sure that no one and nothing else could use their name to subvert an Edict or use it against them.
    • Played straight in that the character creator will also reject "Verse", "Barik", "The Voices of Nerat", or the name of any other major character.
  • One-Woman Wail: Whenever you resolve an Edict.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter:
    • If you were the Governor of Lethian's Crossing, than a brothel will be open in the town and you can hire the prostitutes.
    • Bastard's Wound allows you to have a fling with Verse or Barik.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The Disfavored are a rigid, disciplined legion of ruthless authoritarians. The Scarlet Chorus are a rabid mob of barely trained psychopaths and cutthroats who gain their leaders by means of Klingon Promotion. Naturally, the two do not get along, and their conflict forms the centerpiece of the most of the game.
  • Our Archons Are Different: Here, archons start as ordinary humans and eventually become the source of the series' Functional Magic through the power of belief.
  • Our Mages Are Different: Mages in Terratus have no inherent power of their own – they merely channel the power of Archons. Archons, beings of immense power and unique magical gifts, are the only ones who can discover/create new forms of magic which everyone else then tries to imitate. Magic can be utilized either by using Magical Gestures to create sigils which tap into the power of past Archons, or by harnessing the power of magical items called artifacts. In fact it's implied that anyone can learn magic (though of course not everyone is equally talented), very few people are born with magic, and those who are born with magic or other unusual abilities are often much more powerful than normal.
  • Player Headquarters: The Fatebinder can take over Spires, mysterious towers built by an ancient civilization, to serve as their headquarters. Each Spire can be customized and the Fatebinder can teleport between Spires.
  • Playing Both Sides: The Vendrien Guard was doing this with both the Disfavored and the Chorus. While they were receiving iron equipment from Nerat, they were also trading Disfavored prisoners with Ashe for lengthy ceasefires. That was how they survived long enough for Kyros to send in the Edict of Execution, and arguably more important than the cover story of the Chorus and the Disfavored not working together.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Kyros generally lets the empire's subjects live their lives as they please, provided that they obey all of the (often very harsh) laws.
  • Precursors: The "Older Realms", the ancient civilization that built the Spires and Oldwalls but vanished sometime before recorded history. Bastard's Wound implies that the Beastmen are the remnants of their civilization.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: The Fatebinder's party consists of a motley mix of lost souls. Verse is the closest to "normal" (she's a Scarlet Fury, but not especially atypical for her breed), Barik is wrapped in 24-Hour Armor and thus cannot fight in uniform Disfavored formations, Lantry is an ink-addled sage and former agent of the Voices of Nerat, Eb is the last Tidecaster on the continent, Kills-in-Shadow is the last remaining Shadowstalker and Ax-Crazy even compared to Verse, and Sirin is the fifteen-year-old Archon of Song and a Punch-Clock Villain. Depending on their background, the Fatebinder might be something of a misfit as well.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Almost every historically important or high-ranking (within Kyros' Empire) character. It's part and parcel of being an Archon. The Archons (with the exception of Sirin and eventually the PC) are all anywhere from several generations to several centuries old, and Kyros would be at least over 400. Non-Archons of sufficient power can also apparently live well past a normal human lifespan, though they aren't immortal; the oldest Fatebinder is old enough to remember Graven Ashe when he was a regular man, and is retired but still in good enough health to regularly communicate with the rest of the Court.
  • Recycled In Space: Word of God stated the game is Judge Dredd as Dark Fantasy!
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • The Voices of Nerat and Graven Ashe respectively. The Voices is the cruel and chaotically-minded leader of the Scarlet Chorus, which is composed of a vast Army of Thieves and Whores, where members rise in rank by killing their leaders. Meanwhile, Ashe is the more level-headed leader of the Disfavored, which is a smaller but much more disciplined army of elite soldiers, of whom he is very attached to. There is even a bit of Color-Coded for Your Convenience associated with this, as the Voice is dressed in a red cloak, while Ashe's body radiates with a blue glow.
    • Bleden Mark and Tunon the Adjudicator. Tunon is the Blue; the Archon of Justice and Kyros' judge, obsessed with the proper upholding of the law, loyal to Kyros but ultimately more loyal to Kyros' law, to the point where he won't give a guilty verdict even under Kyros' direct orders if evidence points toward innocence. Bleden Mark is the Red: He's the Archon of Shadows and Kyros' executioner, being a tricksterish assassin who joined Kyros after trying to assassinate them as a test of his skills, and not particularly loyal to Kyros if you impress him, but also not concerned with the law; he'll execute you even if you're proven innocent unless you're on the Anarchist path.
  • Relationship Values: Relationships with your companions are measured between Loyalty (positive) and Fear (negative), which are measured separately. Progressing in either of them can improve your companion's combat ability and even grant new abilities for you.
  • The Remnant: The rebel factions. The game starts in the closing stages of the conquest of the Tiers, though the closing of that war was complicated by Kyros's armies descending into a bitter civil war. Smelling weakness, the rebel factions took up arms in the hope of liberating their homes. Individually, they're too weak to win out in the long term (although they would argue that), and the second act deals with either eliminating them or whipping them together to form an army. They are:
    • The Vendrien Guard: The remainder of the standing forces of the kingdom of Apex. After being conquered and occupied, they rose up to free Apex for a time, knowing full well that this plan was doomed to failure, and to inspire their fellow Tiersmen to turn back Kyros's conquest.
    • The Bronze Brotherhood: A mercenary band hired by Kyros's forces during the conquest. Now without a home and without a war to fight, they're hardly more than glorified bandits scheming to take over the trade town of Lethian's Crossing.
    • The Unbroken: The part of the army of Stalwart that survived the Edict of Storms and reorganized into a guerilla force that continues to fight the Disfavored in the area for their independence. They also plan on fighting the Regent, when they get the chance, to end the Edict.
    • The Sages: Librarians, scholars, scribes, and historians by day. Spies, manipulators, and covetous thieves of knowledge by night. The Sages guild used to hire themselves out to the authorities in the Tiersnote  to take records, work out logistics, and act as the mail service, putting their own in well-placed positions to also act as an espionage force. They also collected information of all sorts, freely given or not, catalogued it, and preserved it; as a result they have the biggest library on Terratus. This also means that they violated the stipulation against forbidden knowledge. That, combined with their refusal of surrender, forced Kyros to issue the Edict of fire, scattering the surviving Sages to all corners of the Tiers.
    • The Stonestalker Tribe: The tribe of Beast Men native to the nation of Azure, now called the Stone Sea. With Cairn's rebellion and the resultant Edict of Stone, human society collapsed in the area, and earth magic-enhancing crystals started budding up in the area, both allowing the Stonestalkers the opportunity to strengthen and expand. Formerly a minor factor of the area, but now large enough to fend off both the Scarlet Chorus and Disfavored detachments stationed in the area.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: In general, Kyros's Peace seems to be fairly well-off and organized. Although trade is regulated seemingly by the Overlord's will, people do generally live under protection. There's an NPC in Tunon's Court who was a former aristocrat whose estate was swallowed up by Tunon's sinkholes, and then being given a stipend and told to start anew as a farmer when she sought recompense. The player can reply by noting that the laws generally try to benefit the masses over the individual, suggesting that Kyros may in fact practice a form of National Socialism—without the sexism, but with the genocide (of Beastmen in particular).
  • Replay Value: Obsidian says that their focus with Tyranny is reactivity and multiple paths rather than game length, and that a single playthrough will miss a lot of content.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: After sampling Lantry's Cerulean ink, the Fatebinder can explain to him that being an agent of Tunon means that, unless the Archon himself contradicts them, their word is law. The Fatebinder gets several moments when they can enforce —or not— Kyros' laws in a way that benefits them.
    Fatebinder: Rhogalus says the legal term for that is Proxy Decisis. Calio says the legal term is "fuck you, I'm the law".
  • Scunthorpe Problem: The game's expansion, Bastard's Wound only has in its title a word considered mildly offensive nowadays, but proved to be too extreme for the official Steam forums, where even in developers' posts it's rendered as ***'s Wound.
  • Sequence Breaking: Not recommended, as even in the final version, resolving quests in odd ways can lead to bugs.
    • For Lethian's Crossing, completing both the quests Lohara gives you at the same time is recommended, as completing the missing shipment quest first has been known to cause the other quest (returning Apprentice Garrick) to bug out, making it impossible to complete.
    • The biggest example is examining the murals in the Wound Oldwalls before the Fatebinder is given the quest to find and interpret them for Reef-Talon.
  • Sequel Hook: The epilogue notes that, while your Edict against the Northern Empire has delayed Kyros's attack against your new Empire, a war is inevitable and will come one day. And there is also the matter of Kyros's true nature being left as The Unreveal.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shutting Up Now: Lantry does this when he realizes he's about to second-guess Kills-In-Shadow's version of history.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: Harking back to Obsidian's days as Black Isle, advancement is classless and you can focus on whatever skills you like, with each skill gaining experience and increasing as you use it. Gain enough experience and you'll level up, at which point you can increase one of your stats by 1 and choose a new talent.
  • Skippable Boss:
    • In the end-game, the Fatebinder is pitted against all of the Archons in turn. But provided the player has made the right choices, it is actually possible to convince most of them to step down peacefully and serve the Fatebinder rather than Kyros.
      • Either Graven Ashe or Nerat can be skipped on the non-anarchist story paths if the Fatebinder convicts one of them of treason before Tunon and decides to let Bleden Mark carry out the execution.
      • Tunon can be skipped if he finds the Fatebinder innocent of treason. This can be done on any story path, but is more difficult on the rebel and anarchist paths.
      • Bleden Mark can be skipped on the Anarchist path if you obtain his fealty by killing Ashe and Nerat before confronting Tunon, or by winning Tunon's trial. If the player is not on the Anarchist path, Mark will try to kill the Fatebinder regardless of his approval level.
      • Ashe can be skipped on the Disfavored path if you kill Nerat and have at least 4 favor with the Disfavored.
      • Nerat can be skipped on the Scarlet Chorus path if you kill Ashe and trick Nerat into consuming a companion whose loyalty level is at least 4. In Bastard's Wound, completing Verse's personal quest allows her to seize control of Nerat regardless of which story path you are on.
    • The main boss of Bastard's Wound, Lullaby, the Wound Oldwalls' resident Havoc, can be skipped if you convince Lexeme that you have no intention of harming Reef-Talon, as Lexeme won't trick you into entering Lullaby's lair.
  • Stat Grinding: Progression is based on using skills, meaning you improve skills through repeated uses as well as passing stat checks.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: This twist shows up near the end of the Stalwart questline. Graven Ashe's daughter Amelia was treated with kindness by the Regent's son and fell in love with him. They had a child together before he perished in battle.
  • Story Branching: There are four main paths through the game, each of which results in a very different second and third act: side with the Disfavored, side with the Scarlet Chorus, side with the rebellion against Kyros, and betray everyone for your own personal gain. The 1.2 patch allowed any of the four paths to be combined with remaining loyal to Kyros by means of new dialogue and a new ending option — even the rebel path.
  • Stupid Evil: The developers have expressed a wish to avoid this, saying that while many villainy-focused games have you simply "being a psychotic person running around killing everybody", Tyranny aims to provide "more nuance to that". And indeed, very few characters act without weighing the consequences first or else by obvious motives.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: Due to technological limitations (the Tiers are still in the bronze age, and smithing said metal is a very rare skill) even the largest nations in the Tiers can only muster armies of around a hundred men. Part of the reason that Kyros conquered the world was that, instead of bronze, Kyros' army used iron, which isn't quite as good as bronze (as steel hasn't yet been invented), but is much easier to find and work with.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: During Act I, the Fatebinder can sum up having to deal with the squabbling of the Disfavored, the Scarlet Chorus, and their respective Archons this way. They can even give this as a reason for joining the rebellion: not for moral reasons, but simply because it seems better than suffering any more of the Archons' bickering and stupidity. You can similarly give this as a reason for going anarchist to Bleden Mark, who will approve.
  • Sword & Sandal: Set between the Bronze and Iron Ages (approximately when Rome was founded in our world).
  • Sword of Damocles: Kyros' Edicts serve as this, especially the ones who have a "do X or else the Edict kicks into gear" condition like the Edict of Execution in the game's intro. The threat of Kyros deciding to send in a Fatebinder with an Edict instead of the armies is often enough to curtail resistance.
  • Technology Marches On: In-universe example. One smith laments the newfound popularity of iron over bronze, since iron is more brittle. Bronze, he argues, is superior since it merely bends and can be hammered back into shape.
  • Timed Mission: You have eight in-game days to clear the first act by fulfilling Kyros's Edict. Failure to do so on time causes a Non Standard Game Over. Waiting until the day after the Day of Swords to read the Edict grants you 363 days to fulfill it, since Kyros didn't specify the year in the Edict. So your deadline is the next year's Day of Swords.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Bitter Quip, one of the Scarlet Chorus' Blood Chanters. The Fatebinder can try to force his cooperation by punching him, but he will just grin at them until they're told to stop. At which point Bitter Quip will say that he had no idea the Fatebinder was so much into foreplay.
  • Undying Loyalty: The only thing anybody knows for certain about the Voices of Nerat is that he is fanatically loyal to Kyros.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Non-combat skills are increased by using them, but you can only use them if you meet the prerequisites. Therefore, if you start with decent levels in them (around 30+), they'll rise easily and remain useful throughout the game, whereas if you start with them any lower than that you'll never be able to use them and, therefore, never be able to improve them.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Referenced in one of the Fatebinder's ink-high. Apparently, Rhogalus, Fatebinder of Lore, doesn't find the question enthralling.
    Rhogalus: Absurd. In such a case, either the force is resistible or the object is moved.
  • The Unreveal: You never meet Kyros or discover anything substantial about the Overlord beyond the probable source of Kyros's Edicts. Even their gender is left ambiguous, though they're referred to as she more often than he.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: Despite playing on the villain's side, there are plenty of moments for you to Pet the Dog.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Of course, you can just as easily Kick the Dog as pet it. Then again, many cruel acts are even turned into achievements.
  • Villain Protagonist: The player starts off as one of Kyros' Elite Mooks, and a pretty successful one at that (they were rewarded with the Fatebinder mantle after helping lead Kyros' forces to victory). However, the player can decide to subvert this, turning on the brutal regime...though possibly Double Subverted, if the Fatebinder really wants Kyros' power.
    • Taken Up to Eleven on an Anarchist run, where you basically murder your way through half of the Tiers in a bid for power.
  • Villain World: The world of Terratus is under the control of an Overlord called Kyros, who was victorious in a great war between good and evil (with Kyros being the latter).
  • Voice of the Legion: The Voices of Nerat, Archon of Secrets, speaks like this, due to being The Assimilator of souls to get at their knowledge.
  • Was Once a Man: The game implies that this is the fate that eventually awaits all Archons. Archons are shaped by their power, the domains they hold, and the belief of others; eventually they become what they represent. Tunon used to be human but is now essentially just smoke, little more than a vessel for Kyros' Law; Bleden Mark started out as a normal soldier, and is almost as immaterial as the shadows he draws power from; even the Voices of Nerat was (according to second-hand accounts) originally a disturbed but otherwise normal man.
    The Voices of Nerat: Our deeds defined us to the people, and the people knew us as a monster. Did you imagine we were always flames, voices and secrets?
  • We ARE Struggling Together: This is how the Disfavored and the Scarlet Chorus are acting at the start of the game, to the point that you're sent in to proclaim an edict that all-but says "Either work together or die together". See Divided We Fall for how that works out.
  • Weight and Switch: In order to obtain the Silent Archive without the entire Vellum Citadel crumbling down, you have to replace it with an Artifact of your own. This cannot be done on a Disfavored run.
  • World of Snark: As usual for Obsidian writing. Every party member, even Kills-in-Shadow, gets in a few good quips and gibes from time to time. One of the fastest ways to gain approval with Bleden Mark is to snark incessantly. The Fatebinder also has plenty of opportunities to put in their own witticisms about whatever foolishness those surrounding them are involved in, or to simply glare silently at it all.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Kyros is up to one of these... or possibly, they're pretending they're dong so to hide the fact that they're Not So Omniscient After All. At any rate, a lot of intelligent and educated characters suggests it's a good idea to assume one of these is in motion when Kyros is involved. Kyros sent two legions that hated each others' guts into combat, knowing that they would just fight each other as much as the enemy. Then Kyros told them to take a fort or die in the process, sending a Fatebinder to proclaim an Edict making sure that this was true. Either all resistance would be crushed, or two strong potential adversaries would wipe each other out and all resistance would be crushed. That doesn't even begin to scratch the ascendance of the Fatebinder to Archon.
  • You Have Failed Me: The game begins with Kyros becoming impatient with the Disfavored and Scarlet Chorus's failure to quell the uprising in the valley of Vendrian's well and issuing an Edict that will kill everyone in the valley, loyal soldiers and oathbreaking rebels alike, unless the uprising is quelled within eight days.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Several characters theorize this is how Kyros feels about Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat. It would explain both the Edict of Execution, and why the two are permitted to fight one another; no matter how it ends, at least one of them is no longer a potential internal threat.
    • If the theory is true, it totally backfires in the rebellious Anarchist path, as the Fatebinder lifts all Edicts in the Tiers, gains control over all the Spires and has Tunon, Bleden Mark, Sirin and the Voices (now under Verse) all pledging allegiance to them.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: