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Video Game / Suikoden

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The Main Protagonists of the franchise up to Suikoden V. Not depicted: their armies.

Suikoden is a series of games (released on various consoles, starting with the original Playstation) that are loosely based on a classical Chinese novel, The Water Margin (or Outlaws of the Marsh and All Men are Brothers). These games are notable in that they all take place in the same world, although at different periods and locations throughout its history. Some games are chronologically close enough to each other that they feature many of the same characters, although the main hero (or heroes) of the game are always new characters. They tend, as a rule, to be Kid Heroes, but not always...

Certain major themes which run throughout the series are:

  • A hero who finds himself running afoul of an evil force, be it a foreign empire, a dark conspiracy, or his own government turning against him. Said hero is usually then forced to go into exile.
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  • The main hero having to set up an army by locating and collecting 108 special people (known as "the Stars of Destiny") who are scattered throughout the world. Some of the "Stars of Destiny" are fighters who accompany the hero into random and plot-based war battles, whereas others are support characters who can aid with healing, navigation, etc.
  • Sometime during the course of the hero's adventures, he acquires a home base in which his highly specialized army live and work. This home base starts out small but grows and develops throughout the course of the game.
  • The game has a plot which centers heavily on politics, overcoming corruption through strategy and/or revolution, and dealing with the betrayal of a close friend or ally.
  • The plot of the game is heavily influenced by one or more of the True Runes, 27 at least semi-sentient elemental symbols which contain the power of the Universe and which grant their owners special abilities (immortality being chief among them). The ending battle of the game is usually fought against a villain carrying a True Rune themselves, their goals often intertwined with said True Rune's nature in some way.

Combat occurs in the game via Random Encounters, strategic war campaigns against enemy armies and one-on-one duels, each with its own graphics and battle system.

Suikoden III is a deviation from the other games. It is about a trio of heroes, each of whom has an equal chance of possessing the game's MacGuffin, the True Fire Rune. The player eventually must choose who acquires the Rune, which determines how the final battles play out.

The Suikoden universe is encompassed by 5 main console games, Suikoden, Suikoden II, Suikoden III, Suikoden IV, Suikoden V and a group of spinoffs: a Strategy RPG game Suikoden Tactics (Rhapsodia in Japan); two canon Visual Novel games called Genso Suikogaiden 1 and 2, featuring the adventures of Nash Latkje which provide background to Suikoden II and foreshadowing for III; a GBA adaptation of the card game shoehorned into a retelling of Suikoden II's plot; and a Nintendo DS spin-off called Suikoden Tierkreis, which is set in an alternate universe unconnected to the main Suikoden world, none of which save Tierkreis have seen an English language release. There's also a slot machine game released in 2010, which saw the fans basically thinking "so this is how it ends, huh?". Ultimately, a last spin-off game was released on the PSP in 2012, known as Suikoden: The Woven Web of A Century, but it was never localized.

Following Konami's decision to no longer make AAA games and focus on the mobile market (along with several other decisions which earned them the ire of players), the future of the series is looking bleak (if not outright nonexistent), leaving many fans disillusioned (despite the only pachinko installment of Suikoden listed below was made way before Konami became notorious for it).note  To some, however, even before Konami's infamous debacle, they have considered Suikoden dead since Tierkreis and Woven Web of a Century for doing away with the extensive world-building of the 27 True Runes that was established with the first 5 mainline games and going for an Alternate Universe, made worse with how they have lost the original writer of the saga since the second game, Yoshitaka Murayama.note  It was said he planned for scenes that would have all the owners of True Runes in order to progress with the story but, unfortunately, said plans don't seem to have a chance of being realized in the near future.

Murayama, however, unveiled that in 2020 he would start a project known as Eiyuden Chronicle Hundred Heroes, using Kickstarter funding with hopes that it would be Suikoden's Spiritual Successor, akin to what Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night did to Castlevania.

Series includes:

Main series:

Spinoffs:Minor titles that don't really count:

  • Suikoden Card Stories (2001)
  • Gensō Suikoden Pachisuro (2010)

The series provides examples of:

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    A — C 
  • The Ageless: The 27 True Runes of Suikoden grant this type of immortality, in addition to various abilities based on the aspect of existence that the True Rune governs.
  • All There in the Manual: Some of the games' plot points — like certain characters' true relationships to each other — are contained only in supplemental media, like text games or manga.
  • Anyone Can Die: Many characters not relied to the plot can die in major battle. And outside of that, plot related characters can (also will) die too.
    • Suikoden I Gremio, Pahn, Odessa, Ted, Mathiu. The first two can be reversed and prevented, respectively. The latter three cannot.
    • Suikoden II Nanami, Kiba, Ridley. Like the first game, Nanami and Ridley can survive if the player doesn't screw up. Kiba is certain to perish no matter what.
    • Suikoden III Jimba, Luc, Sarah, Yun.
    • Suikoden IV The hero himself.
    • Suikoden V Lyon, Roy, Sialeeds. The first two can survive, the latter will not.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
    • Viktor's last taunt to Neclord in II...
    "Heh, I'll make sure you never make that stupid grin again! I'll chop you up! Grind you up! Cut you into pieces! Dry you on the sun! Bury you to the ground! Piss on you! Then I'll dig you up! Pull you! Stretch you! Drag you around! And then... and then... in any case, I'll never forgive you!!"
    • Of course, he's just being a distraction while two other characters are tripping their cunning trap....
  • Ax-Crazy: Luca Blight from Suikoden II loves to slaughter and destroy — soldiers, villages, small children — and he does it with a very big smile. As well as his Expy in Suikoden V, Childerich.
  • Blessed with Suck: If anyone offers you a True Rune, run far, far away. Effectively should you choose to take it: You and your True Companions) just became Destiny's Chew Toy. You get powerful magics (which might be enough to fulfill your destiny) and stop aging (but Who Wants to Live Forever??) That said, there are some fantastically cruel drawbacks (all your closest friends dying, loss of sanity, etc. etc.).
  • Bodyguard Crush: There a number of notable examples:
    • The original gives you a possible Ho Yay between the Hero and Gremio .
    • Millay toward the hero in Suikoden IV
    • Lyon with the Prince in V; also, Lelei and Lucretia for the Les Yay version
    • Cecile to Thomas in the 3rd game.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: There's one for almost all the games — best examples include: Viktor, Ace, Lino En Kuldes, and Boz Wilde
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Knights of Maximillian. Starting with expys of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, all members of the order are quirky, cartoonishly over-the-top fantasy wandering knights with extremely idealistic views that clash pretty hard with the more realistic tone of the setting, leading to them being predictably treated as silly weirdos. They are also extremely competent and skilled warriors, with a good eye for seeing right from wrong and very hard to dupe. Turns out that the reason members of such an inconvenient, disorganized and orphaned group can survive on their own just to randomly smite non-specific evil is that they are incredibly good at it.
  • But Thou Must!: Only rarely do any of the speech choices a player is given have any effect the flow of the plot. Suikoden V has a few notable exceptions, as does one or two parts of II.
  • Cain and Abel: Suikoden II and III have this relationship with Separated at Birth twins Luc and Sasarai.
  • The Caligula: Luca Blight Ironically however, he never got around to taking the throne part of this trope before the heroes did away with him. Then Jowy fills in that blank by marrying the princess, killing the king, and taking over the country himself in a misguided attempt to stop the war. But he does manage to get around to murdering his father. As part of an elaborate plot, during Jowy and Jillia's wedding ceremony, Luca's father the king and Jowy drink from a ceremonial wine goblet. Knowing this, Luca has Jowy build up an immunity to a poison he places in the wine; the king isn't similarly immune, and ends up dying. Luca then becoms King, if only for a brief period. Actually Jowy's blood, not the wine, was poisoned. Luca had to taste the wine before his father would touch it, so the only way to poison the king is to poison Jowy's blood, which is put fresh into the cup just before the king drinks it.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: Played with in varying amounts in each game:
    • I has Tir in the party at all times, save for a single battle where you control Pahn against Teo, and in some editions, a controllable cutscene where you control Gremio.
    • II has Riou in the traveling party for the entire time. However, there is one instance where you're given control of three parties: one led by Riou, one led by Flik, and one led by Viktor.
    • III happily subverts this, given the Multiple PO Vs: at varying points, your main hero is either Chris, Geddoe, Hugo, Thomas, or Luc. Additionally, each chapter gives different opportunities to control Ace, Yuber, and Sarah.
    • IV returns to the format of not dropping the hero, save for the final dungeon, in which you control Eleanor on the field and battle with a party of whomever you want. Lino asks to be in said party, but does not need to be.
    • V turns the trope on its head: While Frey must be in the party in most cases, you are also given opportunities to have direct control over Lyon, Kyle, Zweig and Georg together, Roy and Zerase together, and optionally, Belcoot, Richard, or Zegai.
    • Tierkreis also subverts this with its invasion events, in which different VIPs of your army are given the reigns over a party in order to accomplish a certain task. While Sieg is the main character who does the bulk of the work, other characters such as Neira, Nimni, Zenoa, Manaril, Asad, Chrodechild, Diulf, Nova, Diadora, Sophia, and Vaslof are all given time to lead as well.
  • Captain Ersatz: Lucretia Merces may be just about as close to a female Zhuge Liang you're going to get, Shu from II is a more straight example however. Additionally, throughout the series, many characters are expies of characters from earlier games; this is possibly justified by the fact that your characters are represented by named 'stars', and frequently characters who join under the name of a particular star in different games share several characteristics — when it isn't the exact same character, of course. Richmond from II is also an obvious ersatz of Columbo and Stallion just might be a subtle one to Sonic the Hedgehog, since he has spiky blue hair and is considered the fastest creature on land. Maximilian & Sancho from Suikoden I are pretty much Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
  • Celibate Hero: Flik, after the death of his lover Odessa Silverberg.
  • Character Development:
    • Notably Flik, who starts out as a Clingy Jealous Boyfriend of Odessa, and got struck HARD with her death, but eventually matures up, accomplishes much more things and eventually becomes a fan favorite
    • Most major characters have some degree of this. This goes double for the large number of repeat characters in the first three games, some of whom come back Older and Wiser.
  • Chef of Iron: Many throughout the series, Hai Yo of Suikoden II being a more notable example.
  • & * Chekhov's Gun: The Fire Spears in I
  • Chick Magnet:
    • Flik
    • By extension, any of the men/boys who can unite for any variation of pretty boy group attack qualifies.s
    • Percival greatly enjoys his ability to invoke this trope.
  • Child by Rape: Jillia, the princess of Highland from Suikoden II.
  • Cold Sniper:
    • Clive in 1 and 2, subverted with Cathari in 5
    • Arguably Jacques in III.
  • Combination Attack: Certain characters can be paired with others to use special attacks against the enemy.
  • Contemptible Cover: Suikoden 1's American box art looks like the cover of a bad fantasy novel. To emphasize this, if you look up lists of the worst box art ever, Suikoden's makes frequent appearances alongside Mega Man for being laughably hideous.
  • Continuity Nod: Lots and lots
    • After the 3rd game this happens much less, with Suikoden Tierkreis having ZERO continuity nods to previous games.
    • To emphasize this, most of the games have carryover bonuses should you have a save file from the direct previous game. See Old Save Bonus below
  • Cool Big Sis: Almost every game has at least one.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Viki is so clumsy, she sneezes herself through time and space. It's a running gag that at the victory banquet at the end of each game, she sneezes herself straight into the middle of the next one, despite the games being centuries apart, and not in chronological order.) It's implied in the third game that she's a historian from the future doing this on purpose to document historical events first hand.
  • Cute Mute: Pilika, a little girl in Suikoden II whose guardianship jumps from Joey, to Nanami and the Hero, to Joey again. She didn't start out mute, though, and there was nothing cute about how she became so.

    D — G 
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Especially prominent in the first game, though it crops up in some of the others, too. Almost every game has one or two enemy generals who join you after you beat them militarily, and several other characters who will only join after a one-on-one duel.
  • Dirty Coward: Snowe from Suikoden 4 who among other things, abandons his subordinates in a battle that he instigated because he slightly injured his arm! Euram Barows in V, though he does get better.
  • The Ditz: Viki, who keeps teleporting through time and space merely by sneezing.
  • Duel Boss: Several of them at regular intervals for each entry in the series.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Carried out both in the story and in the gameplay. The characters will suffer through all the tragedies and losses of war and then some, but if you can recruit all 108 Stars of Destiny, the ending makes it all worthwhile.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Played straight, but also used sans elements during One-on-One Duels
  • Empathic Weapon: Although not weapons in the traditional sence, all 27 True Runes are sentient for the most part, one of them takes the form of the Zodiac/Star Dragon Sword. Interestingly, the sword is an absolute Jerkass to everyone. Even to its 'preferred' wielders.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Flik. It's hard to tell in the original, what with the low quality graphics, but he DOES get one character to join the group by drinking tea with her all night (at her request). It's far more prevailent in Suikoden 2, where women regularly hit on him, and is constantly being pestered by Nina. Most of the heroes are this as well, with the possible exception of Lazlo.
    • Lazlo might even qualify too, since he technically has 3 girls (Rita, Rene, and Noah) that are interested in him instead of the usual 1 that the rest of the characters get. There's just not that many scenes where you see it. Just an optional bath scene where they discuss getting him a gift (Rene even suggests "a girlfriend"), plus the three of them give him a wooden amulet as a good-luck charm on the night before the final battle, acting like schoolgirls the entire time (giggling and everything).
      • Four if you count Millay, his self-proclaimed bodyguard.
    • The heroes' tendency to be this is humorously lampshaded in the unlockable sidequest in 2. During Riou's conversation with Cleo, you can choose to hit on her, causing her to remark that "you're a lot like the Young Master in many ways."
    • Also, as noted above in Chick Magnet — any of those who can band together for the male variant of pretty girl/woman attack is effectively implied to be this.
  • The Evil Prince: Prince Luca Blight, though Bat Shit Insane Prince would be more appropriate.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Worn by Georg, arguably one of the most physically powerful human characters in the game series, and by Geddoe, the most bad-assed of the three main heroes in Suikoden III.
  • Fake Difficulty: Some of the easily lose-able one-on-one duels occur right after a long and involved tactical battle campaign, with no opportunity to save in between the two events — this seems to occur for no other reason than to heighten the player's tension.
  • False Flag Operation: Suikoden 2 opens with Riou and Jowy almost falling victim to one of these.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Literally. The Howling Voice Guild invented firearms, but the means to make one is a trade secret. Whatever they do to keep that secret must be damn effective, because no one else in the entire world has a gun.
  • Furo Scene: A series tradition. Taking the right people into the baths triggers Subtext-laden scenes, for all your Ho Yay / Les Yay / Hilarity Ensuing needs.
  • Gambit Index: Any character with the last name "Silverberg" is assumed to becapable of these tropes; Leon Silverberg is supposed to be the best, but this feels a little stretched at times, something which also applies to the earliest noted bearer of the name from IV. Lucretia Merces, The Strategist of Suikoden V, said to possess god-like insight and pre-cognition.
  • Gambit Roulette: The fifth installment. The villain's plotting almost caused Arshtat to go insane and destroy the entire country. The father of one bad guy even calls him on his plotting, as he leaves too much to chance and doesn't do anything to stop unintended effects of his plotting.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Having a teleporter who can instantly warp lone fighters, small groups, whole squads and even entire fleets at will would be immensely useful (And pretty game breaking) in any war, but in spite of this (Or rather, because of this), Viki's skills are completely ignored story-wise. The only explanation available is that your army acknowledges that Viki is a ditz, and using her skills that way would be an extremely risky gamble not worth taking.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The games' final bosses sometimes tend toward this.
  • God Job: The True Runes are effectively this, conferring both immortality and incredible magical power over the Rune's sphere of influence.
  • Go-to Alias: The entire series has the recurring alias of Scholtheim Reinbach III/IV. Made much funnier when one of the games actually features the real Scholtheim Reinback III.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All:
    • Have fun recruiting all the Stars of Destiny! Sadly, Suikoden II forces you to choose between characters a couple of times, and you don't have enough Listening Crystals to recruit all the available monsters.
    • In Suikoden V, you have to choose between a mysterious, powerful mage who has nothing to do with the plot (and has her own secret dungeon quest, IIRC) and a non-fighting NPC who is instead very involved with the plot (and a defrosting Jerkass).
  • Guide Dang It!: Many of the "Stars of Destiny" you must recruit can only be acquired through obscure or non-intuitive means, or during very narrow windows of opportunity between certain Event Flags.
  • Guns Are Worthless:
    • In a world of swords and magic, The Howling Voice Guild uses assault rifles. Lampshaded in Suikoden V when a member of the Guild explains that rifles are inferior to the bow-and-arrow because of the cost, difficulty to manufacture and reduced accuracy: however, they are useful as an intimidation tactic.
    • In game however the gun users are actually quite powerful. Both Cathari and Clive are some of the best damage dealers of the games they appear in and both rarely ever miss
    • Cathari also notes in that same scene that Guild members train extensively with their gun, until they know it better than they know themselves. This lets them understand the gun's drawbacks and adapt to cover them up. As Hazuki (the person who Cathari was explaining this to) comes to realize, Cathari talking about how guns were fundamentally weaker and less reliable ended up being pointless in Hazuki's eyes because she wanted to know how to best a gun-user. All she learned was that the Guild taught its members to work around the gun's weaknesses like any other weapon.
  • The Gunslinger: Elza
    • Technically, this extends to any member of the Howling Voice, including: Clive and Cathari

    H — K 
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You name the main character in each game except 3, but their "canon" names are given in supplementary material — Tir McDohl in Suikoden 1, Riou in Suikoden 2, Lazlo in Suikoden 4 and Freyjadour Falenas in Suikoden 5.
    • Actually, those names aren't canon either — Konami has explicitly noted this; those names were provided by novelizations and manga (not unlike the name given to the unnamed main character of Persona 3)
  • Heroic BSoD: Poor Pilika watches as Luca Blight stabs Pohl to death right before her eyes, and after recovering from her BSOD she and her current guardians discover she's been rendered mute — for the rest of the game. Talk about Unlucky Childhood Friend... Which, for the record, happens after her parents are brutally murdered while her home town is being completely razed. All things considered, it'll be a miracle if the poor girl isn't emotionally scarred for life.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Quite a few actually, Odessa, Gremio, Teo, Ted, and Mathiu in Suikoden 1 alone.
    • At one point, Gremio sacrifices himself in order to save the hero and the rest of the party from General Oppenheimer's flesh-eating spores trap. Can also be considered a You Shall Not Pass! as he prevents them from reaching the party. If you accomplish a certain unwritten goal, He gets better.
    • Also Odessa dies protecting a child, and begs the hero that her death remain a secret to keep the morale of the rebel army up.
    • There's potentially another Heroic Sacrifice after that when Teo and his Armoured Cavalry absolutely trounce the Liberation Army in battle. The hero, Mathiu, Pahn, and Cleo are fleeing when Teo catches up to them, along with his two lieutenants Alen and Grenseal. It looks hopeless until Pahn volunteers to try and hold Teo off while the hero and the rest of the group escapes. Pahn then duels Teo, and if he loses, he's executed as a traitor. However, this sacrifice can be avoided if you've trained Pahn up enough to the point where he can defeat Teo in the duel, who then allows Pahn to leave.
      • The secret to keeping Pahn alive is raise him to around level 40 or so, and during the duel with Teo, constantly defend and hope that Teo keeps using his special attack. If you keep defending, Teo's special attack will miss and Pahn will counterattack, so just keep this process up until Teo's health is gone.
    • Later on Ted does this to save the hero from Windy and to keep the hero's rune away from evil's hands.
    • And in the end Mathiu dies, after abandoning his desired life of pacifism and solitude to help the army save the kingdom.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Notably averted in most of the games, since its heroes tend to prefer weapons such as a staff, tonfas, or a three-sectioned staff. The third and fourth games are straight examples, though.
  • The High Queen: Queen Arshtat of the Queendom of Falena fits this trope rather well, at least while at court, and especially while being influenced by the Sun Rune.
  • Highly Visible Ninja:
    • Kasumi wears bright red and no pants in 1, and many of the others are just as bad. The only ninja that seems to avert this trope is Kage.
    • Suikoden 2's Mondo and Sasuke, as well as 3's Watari and Ayame, mostly avert it as well (only "mostly" because Mondo is wearing white and Ayame bright purple, but they're at least dressed like ninjas, color aside). The ninjas of 4 and 5 are also debatable, as they seem to make an effort to dress more like normal people. In fact, 5's duo of Shigure and Sagiri are never outright called ninjas at all, many just think of them as such because they're former assassins for Nether Gate and they wield ninja weapons (Shigure uses a ninja-to while Sagiri throws kunai).
    • But considering that historical ninjas actually dress like normal people...
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Played straight quite often.
    • However, there are quite a few battles that are so poorly balanced you might think they're this, but aren't. Notable cases include most fights with Yuber in III (most of which mercifully don't affect the plot), and the first game's duel between Pahn and Teo (which is necessary to win for 100% Completion).
  • I Call It "Vera": It's a tradition for the men from Warriors' Village to name their weapon after what is most important to them, a tradition followed by Flik, Hix, and Mathias
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Ted does this to Tir in 1, and the rest is history.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Euram Barrows in 5, until his optional Heel–Face Turn.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Jeane, Viki and Leknaat show up in every Suikoden game, even though they take place across different time periods. Leknaat is immortal, Viki has been implied to be doing a bit of accidental Time Travel, and the developers have joked that Jeane has a family like the Nurse Joys from Pokémon. All three are the subject of huge epileptic trees, which the creators lovingly cultivate. Jeane in particular gains three different Word of God explanations a game, just for chuckles.
  • In Name Only: The first game was only tangentially related to The Water Margin in the first place, but every sequel has basically no relation to it beyond the concept of 108 heroes.
  • Jerkass: This is Luc's entire personality for the first two games. He's one of the most powerful characters in the setting, and at least until the third game, he uses that power exclusively to be petty and irritating.
  • Karma Houdini: Windy and to a lesser extent Barbarossa, among others. They were originally supposed to have died in the ending of Suikoden I, but their status was later Ret-Conned to "Missing in action" in order to allow for the possibility of their return. Since their bodies are never shown, and the rune Windy bears remains missing, it's a believable retcon. The Muse-hired ruffians who raped Sara Blight and were therefore indirectly responsible for turning Luca into a villain may also fall under this trope, although Muse itself most assuredly does not.
  • Katanas Are Just Better:
    • The setting is a fantasy world where Eastern and Western weapons and armor exist side by side. Except for Suikodens III and IV, the main heroes in all the games have a tendency to favor Asian style weapons — like bo staffs, tonfa and nunchaku — over Western style swords.
    • It should be noted however that most of the best fighters use western swords ie. Sheena in 2, Pesmerga in 1 and 2, Belcoot and Richard in 5.
    • Many of the heroes are healers or magic users over warriors, so these less lethal weapons suit their nature. The Hero in Suikoden II's rune is the Bright Shield, and his weapons are tonfa; both are meant for defense and protection.
    • And then there's Georg, who seems to like both, using a western sword in 2, but wielding a katana (actually an Iai blade, which may or may not be the same thing, depending on who you ask) in 5.
    • It's actually even more confusing than that. Georg's sword in 2 is a two-handed sword with a side-grip where the hand guard would normally be. (Like the Cypher sword from Strider) His sword in 5 is a short, double-edged sword that resembles a Chinese jian, but he uses it iai/battoujutsu style.
    • Apparently Yuber's King Crimson wasn't good enough in 2, and apparently he split it into two Katana-like swords in 3.
  • Kick the Dog: Every single thing Luca Blight does.
    • And quite often Shu, the protagonist's strategist in Suikoden 2, albeit because it was the most effective or only proper way to achieve a goal. Chucking little Pilika across a room full of crossbowmen ( who are on the brink of firing ) as a distraction to prevent them executing his army's leader, then abandoning her there, for instance.
    • To be fair on Shu, however, Pilika prefers being with Jowy rather than Riou's army and it was because of that Pilika regains her voice, so there's something beneficial that came out of it.
  • Kid Hero:
    • However, in Suikoden, your Kid Hero is aided by a cabinet of highly capable adult strategists. He's sometimes almost an inspiring figurehead, or simply their strongest warrior.
    • Potentially averted in III if you so choose.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • In tactical battles when a unit is wiped out there is a chance the characters in that unit can be killed off permanently unless you have the appropriate skill user with that group. Also, in 2, Ridley can be killed, depending on the choices you make at one point, and Kiba dies during a mission
    • Roy in 5, if you stubbornly choose to defend your castle instead of abandoning it. This is not recommended, as unlike Ridley, Roy has no replacement in the 108 stars, preventing you from getting the best ending.
    • In the first game, it's possible to kill two of Barbarossa's generals rather than recruit them. Which is bad, since both of them are stars. It doesn't help that killing the second general is extremely tempting, since he killed Gremio.
      • Actually it's not that tempting considering that it was the rune that Windy gave him that forced him to become an unwilling pawn who had no idea what he was doing, or that he had killed Gremio.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Yuber, the series most frequently seen Psycho for Hire, burns a village every single time he first shows up in every single game he shows up in. In fact, his earliest chronological appearance in the series, a flashback to 300 years before Suikoden I shows him burning a village. Dude sure loves to play with fire.
    • In Suikoden II, Luca Blight practices a 'Scorched Earth' policy of his own: burning down two of the City-State's border villages. Viktor does something similar when he 'accidentally' leaves a bunch of the Fire Spears in the Mercenary Fort's forge. Oopsie!

     L — O 
  • Leave Him to Me:
    • Usually done in the heroic inversion, with the heroes insisting or agreeing to a one-on-one duel despite outnumbering the enemy, as an excuse to use the game's dueling system.
    • When you finally get to fight Childerich in Suikoden V, several people on your party (if you have them with you) can step forward and demand the right to duel him alone (since he beat or disqualified them in an earlier fight through trickery); if you have all of them, it results in a comical extended argument over who gets the duel.
    • Pesmerga and Yuber only join (in their respective games) because the other person is on the other side, and only to get a chance to fight their counterpart personally; in the first game, Pesmerga specifically demands that you Leave Him to Me as part of his condition for joining.
    • Played straight with the duel between Teo and Pahn in Suikoden I.
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Nanami. Her cooking makes Nash pass out in Suikogaiden Vol. 1
    • Riou is so used to eating it that he's developed an immunity to it. Seriously. When the only reason someone can eat your cooking is because they're immune to it, then you know something is wrong.
    • Also hilariously alluded to with certain food items. By adding salt to the cake and ice cream recipes, you get Nanami Ice and Nanami Cake. Both have a 60% chance of inflicting the Panic status ailment (though Poison would probably be more appropriate).
  • Load-Bearing Boss:
    • Happens without fail every time, usually attributed to a big discharge of energy during the battle. Even in Suikoden III, where the fight takes place in a fairly big open-air area that still manages to fall on the boss and kill it, while your characters flee to safety... through the underground tunnels.
    • Oddly subverted in Suikoden II, where the L'Renouille castle begins to rumble immediately after the battle prompting everyone to flee... until then the rumbling ceases and the castle appears to be just fine.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Demonstrated in three where Geddoe holds onto the True Lightening Rune even after a contemporary has given up theirs. Chris also holds onto the True Elemental Rune that she receives.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Just counting the 108 stars gives you over 500 characters in the main five games alone. While a few characters recur between games, the vast majority of the playable cast is new each time.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: About half the 108 playable characters in each game are optional, and the optional ones usually have some kind of sidequest that needs to be completed before joining. Everyone seems to think one has hours available to go cooking, fishing, exploring dungeons, backtracking, fetching things, taking them to see people... and even after you recruit them, a number of them still have minigames to play.
  • Lost Technology: All games reference the mysterious and ancient Sindar race, whose technology-filled ruins and artifacts litter the landscape.
  • Magic Antidote: Averted in Suikoden V. The Hero's Rune has the power to keep Lyon from dying when she gets poisoned, but she still has to spend a long time in bed recovering.
  • Modular Epilogue: After the ending cutscene you get a short text statement like this for each character you recruited: the text can change depending on who else you recruited and sometimes actions you took within the game.
  • The Mole: Pahn and Sanchez from the first game. Pahn was played somewhat sympathetically (he genuinely thought he was doing the right thing), and has a Heel Realization the next time you meet him. Sanchez isn't quite as easily forgiven, and gets off rather easily despite not only being indirectly responsible for Odessa's death, but also fatally wounding Mathiu.
  • Multiple Endings:
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Expect this is in pretty much every game.
    • In Suikoden, virtually all of the enemy generals are this, even stating their allegiance to the emperor even as they change sides.
    • Suikoden II sees this in the form of the general Kiba and tactician Klaus who love their country and pretty much takes a villain to the degree of Luca Blight to have them even consider.
      • Jowy's ambitions have some root in this trope, arguably pushing him into a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Differs slightly as he wanted to reform it from the inside rather than just take orders.
    • Suikoden III has its entire plot based on this trope. No country is right or wrong in its entirety, but several leaders (Chris and Sasarai) go along with orders despite their own misgivings.
    • Troy from Suikoden IV is this to such an extent that fans complained at the lack of a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Some of the Queen's Knights do not join the prince's rebellion against the Godwins not because of political allegiance but rather their loyalty to the Queen.
  • Mystical 108: 108 Stars of Destiny. 108 divided by four is 27, the number of True Runes.
  • Non-Action Guy:
    • Thomas in Suikoden III, despite being the Tenkai Star of the game, generally lets the others in Budehuc Castle do the fightng for him. He still manages to help out all three of the main characters by letting them use the castle as a base, though.
    • Hix from 1 and 2 also counts a little, as though he can fight he's mediocre at best, not to mention preferring not to fight whenever possible. Unfortunately the poor guy is engaged to Champion Tsundere Tengaar, who is determined to make him a man and forces him into your party on two different quests to prove his worth.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Can occur in many of the games if you make the "wrong" decision (e.g., decide to join up with a villain, or run off and desert your army, etc...)
  • Not Quite Dead: In Suikoden 2, Nanami is seemingly killed when she is hit by an arrow. However, if certain conditions are met by the end of the game, it's revealed that she merely faked her own death so she could go home, no longer able to bear the war her adoptive brother was fighting in, and particularly the fact that her adopted brother and their best friend are the leaders of the opposing armies. If said conditions are not met, however, she stays dead
  • Old Save Bonus:
    • Suikoden I's endgame save could be imported into Suikoden II, letting you get some extra goodies. (Some of the library books you collect will have your old character's names and exploits in them, for instance.) You can also recruit Tir this way. If you lived in Japan, the save chain can continue through Suikogaiden Vol. 1 and 2. Finally, the chain ends with a save import into Suikoden III.
    • Suikoden Tactics accepts a Suikoden IV save to recruit Lazlo and Snowe.
  • Official Couple:
    • According to Genso Suikogaiden 2, Kasumi and Tir hook up.
    • Also Kirkis and Sylvina, considering that after the first game they get married and start a family.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: appears rather frequently.
    • Valeria and Belcoot, both Falcon-style swordfighters, come with somewhat friendly rivals who join up with the player characters just to keep an eye on their competition.
    • Subverted with Luc in II, who reveals that he has had the True Wind Rune since he was introduced at the beginning of the first game, and uses it — for the only time it is used in the entire first two games — solely to annoy his counterpart... who doesn't even seem to know who he is, beyond 'that horrible guy who keeps coming after me.'
  • Our Kobolds Are Different: Kobolds are playable characters who are intelligent and just as capable as any human, and their profile pictures are adorable.

    P — Z 
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Every one of the Stars of Destiny save the plot-relevant main characters. If you fail to recruit even one of the Stars or allow one of them to die permanently in battle, you can kiss the Best Ending goodbye.
    • Subverted with nearly everything unique other than Stars of Destiny. Frequently, minor unique items like music or voice sets that you miss the first time around will appear in shops elsewhere as rare finds... this sort of thing does not (generally) happen with the far-more-important missable characters, for some reason, although there's a few exceptions.
  • Physical God: Anyone who bears a True Rune becomes immortal and gains incredible magical power over the Rune's sphere of influence. Unfortunately, they also usually gain a particularly tragic destiny linked to that same sphere.
  • Promotion to Parent: In a story about war, it's gonna happen to a few characters, most notably with Gremio, Pahn, and Cleo to Tir in I, Riou, Jowy, and Nanami to Pilika in II, and Sialeeds, Georg, and Frey to Lym in V.
  • Quickly-Demoted Woman: Odessa Silverberg, certainly. It also counts as an earlier Player Punch (Though not as hard as Gremio's later...). Also Apple in II, who demotes herself because she says outright that she's no good as a strategist because she's a woman, and has the player go find someone better. The strategists of IV and V are female, though, so it was likely more Apple's own lack of confidence than a statement by the authors. ...Except that IV&V have different writers compared to the first three games, which were all written by the same guy. Make of that what you will.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Egbert Aethlebald, who will always quickly descend to ranting about FILTHY GODWIN DEVILS!!!! in mere seconds
  • Rape as Backstory: the Blight family of Suikoden II. The queen sara Blight was raped by Jowston's thugs, Jillia was born out of this, and Luca uses this as a motive for revenge.
  • Rasputinian Death: Luca Blight. It takes tons of efforts to finally do him in.)
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: According to the series's mythology, the world and the True Runes came about when Sword (who could destroy anything) tried to destroy Shield (who could not be destroyed). Both shattered, and the pieces became the True Runes.
  • Rebellious Princess:
    • Odessa, with regards of her backstory with her first lover
    • Flare from IV and Lymsleia from V are fairly rebellious as well, though not against their parents, but rather against the enemy forces that invade their homelands. Considering who their fathers are, it's not that hard to believe.
  • Running Gag:
  • Shock and Awe: Flik always come with a Lightning Rune (and gets affiliated with lightning), and is even called 'Blue Lightning'
  • Shout-Out:
    • Word of God confirms that Yuber's eight-fold-rune is a reference to the "Melnibonean Saga" by Michael Moorcock, the eight pointed star of the Chaos God Arioch.
    • Suikoden 2 examples off the top of my head:
      • Genshu (Suikoden 2) has similarities to Tachibana Ukyo: they both fight using Iai techniques, their stances both don't face their enemy directly, and both have techniques related Swallows (Genshu's rune, Tachibana's Tsubame Gaeshi) and their most powerful techniques are a series of very fast sword draws.
      • Wakaba's Tiger Rune animation looks an awful lot like King's Double Strike. Sometimes the animation for that attack instead ends with a Hurricane Kick.
      • Oulan's attack animations look like Vanessa's.
      • There's at least 2 charactes with Shoryukens in the games.
      • In Suikoden 3, the martial-artist only rune, the Lion Rune, causes the wielder to shoot a beam out of their hands that looks suspiciously like a HADOKEN!
      • Suikoden 1 has Ronnie Bell firing off a ball of battle energy — by using the Hate Rune, which only she wields.
      • In Suikoden 1, look at Varkas and Sydonia's team attack and tell me it doesn't look familiar.
      • Suikoden 1 also has the character Grenseal, which is basically the name of the Kingdom in which you first start Shining Force 2
      • Shazam!! -Courtesy of Viki in Suikoden II
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
    • Mathiu Silverberg is a strategist who was formerly a pacifistic teacher, whereas his sister Odessa is a rebellious girl, leads the Liberation Army, and at one point calls out Mathiu as a coward.
    • This also gets carried over in a non-sibling relations on Mathiu's students: Shu is arrogant, doesn't have the sense of justice (at first, at least ), but brilliant, whereas Apple is more humble, willing to help people, but... not-quite-so-brilliant.
    • Luc is a Jerkass for 3 games spanning nearly 20 years. He is a haughty know it all at his best and at his worst veers toward the Well-Intentioned Extremist. His Separated at Birth identical twin brother, Sasarai is a powerful political figure and can be a bit of a Deadpan Snarker, particularly when on the antagonist side, but is a bit on the naive side and reasonably likable. They don't particularly see eye to eye.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Happens horribly often, because the games tend to have Loads and Loads of Characters, and they are frequently called away by the plot; on top of this, the best characters and most plot-critical characters (who you're likely to give much of your best swag to, partially because you're often forced to bring them along) are also often some of the ones who disappear the most often.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Some exceptions to this occasionally pop up on the overworld, with superpowered monsters at a much-higher-than-hero level turning up during Random Encounters.
  • The Stoic: Humphrey Mintz is an early example, but later on Suikoden 3 and 5, you get a bath scene with 3 Stoic characters just being silent almost all the time in bath
  • The Strategist: Each game has one whom you must find and recruit (and their last name is usually Silverberg.)
  • Stripperific:
    • Jeane, especially in V; but what she wore in all the other games wasn't exactly modest.
    • Nowhere as blatant as Jeane, but some female characters in IV dress quite liberally. This is a Justified Trope, seeing as the game takes place in the Island Nations.
    • Look at her evolution since her debut
  • Stuck Items: True Runes cannot be removed from their bearer except under very specific circumstances where they immediately get stuck to someone else. Furthermore, armor pieces of characters are occasionally equipped permanently if they relate to the character's profession or are otherwise meant to be iconic to them.
  • Subtext: This is one of those series that practically runs on it. Pick a character, it's practically guaranteed you will find subtext in their interactions with at least one other character. See also: Ho Yay / Les Yay, above.
  • Surprisingly Easy Mini-Quest: The castellan's bit in Suikoden 3. Also subverted later.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Type 1 examples are Hix and Tengaar, and Lepant and Eileen.
  • The Team: Every one of this franchise's games has it. 100% Completion requires having 108 characters on your team, a significant number of which are fighters, and using all their abilities to succeed in certain areas. Go ahead and try to divide them all up into classic character rolls.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Straight from Suikoden I, "You're the one person I can't forgive."
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: You're given the chance to execute the Empire's generals in Suikoden 1. Spare them, and they become Stars in your army. You're totally allowed to kill Kraze, though, as nothing is lost or gained either way with him.
  • Tsundere: Tengaar, whose tsun-tsun side would make Hix's life like hell to shape him up as a 'warrior', but her dere-dere side would always get her to depend on Hix's help, in an honest, sometimes gushy, way
  • Underrated and Overleveled: In fact any Role-Playing Games (like Suikoden) that emphasize a massive cast of recruitable teammates tend to be particularly guilty of this. The huge hosts of characters guarantee at least a few will be mundane people with little or no combat training, and the inability to focus much plot on each character means that the developers don't have time to give in story justification for everyone's combat capabilities.
  • Unidentified Items: You can pick up ?Pots, ?Paintings and ?Statues which you can take to an art appraiser to have valued and identified, and then either sell or use to decorate your home base. Alternatively, you can sell the items unidentified for a small amount. Anything useful never needs identifying, however.
  • War Is Hell: A constant theme in every game. While the tone is usually light, the games don't shy away from the horrors of war and other serious subjects, and include scenes of populations slaughtered, villages devastated, lives destroyed, orphans, betrayal, racism, resistance from oppression, post-traumatic stress disorder...
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Dealt with in III when a true rune bearer gave it, and its granted immortality, up so he could get old and die with the woman he loved.
  • Yin-Yang Clash: Shield can withstand anything. Sword can pierce anything.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: especially obvious in V, though almost every installment has a doomed battle or two before you recruit your strategist.
  • You Shall Not Pass!:
    • Gremio does this in the first game to prevent the others from being devoured by flesh-eating spores, and dies in the process.
    • Viktor and Flik do this at the end of the first game to allow Tir to escape the crumbling castle. They are claimed MIA. But they appear in Suikoden II.


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