The Grand List Of Console Role Playing Game Clichés
Typically, the teenaged male lead will begin the first day of the game by oversleeping, being woken up by his mother, and being reminded that he's slept in so late he missed meeting his girlfriend.
"No! My beloved peasant village!"
The hero's home town, city, slum, or planet will usually be annihilated in a spectacular fashion before the end of the game, and often before the end of the opening scene.
Carl Macek's Revenge
The English voice acting is always embarrassingly bad, and the more VA there is in the game, the worse it gets.
Silent Movie Rule
Nobody ever talks during an full-motion-video sequence... thankfully, given Carl Macek's Revenge.
Thinking With The Wrong Head (Hiro Rule)
No matter what she's accused of doing or how mysterious her origins are, the hero will always be ready to fight to the death for any girl he met three seconds ago.
Cubic Zirconium Corollary
The aforementioned mysterious girl will be wearing a pendant that will ultimately prove to be the key to either saving the world or destroying it.
Logan's Run Rule
RPG characters are young. Very young. The average age seems to be 15, unless the character is a decorated and battle-hardened soldier, in which case he might even be as old as 18. Such teenagers often have skills with multiple weapons and magic, years of experience, and never ever worry about their parents telling them to come home from adventuring before bedtime. By contrast, characters more than twenty-two years old will cheerfully refer to themselves as washed-up old fogies and be eager to make room for the younger generation.
Single Parent Rule
RPG characters with two living parents are almost unheard of. As a general rule, male characters will only have a mother, and female characters will only have a father. The missing parent either vanished mysteriously and traumatically several years ago or is never referred to at all. Frequently the main character's surviving parent will also meet an awkward end just after the story begins, thus freeing him of inconvenient filial obligations.
* Single Parent Corollary
In extreme cases, the male and a few of the female characters will be lacking in both parents, except for the hero. He will have a father out there in the world who turns out to be someone almost expected (refer to the Luke, I Am Your Tedious, Overused Plot Device [Lynx's Rule] to get the idea).
Some Call Me... Tim?
Good guys will only have first names, and bad guys will only have last names. Any bad guy who only has a first name will become a good guy at some point in the game. Good guys' last names may be mentioned in the manual but they will never be referred to in the story.
There's always a fire dungeon, an ice dungeon, a sewer maze, a misty forest, a derelict ghost ship, a mine, a glowing crystal maze, an ancient temple full of traps, a magic floating castle, and a technological dungeon.
Luddite Rule (or, George Lucas Rule)
Speaking of which, technology is inherently evil and is the exclusive province of the Bad Guys. They're the ones with the robots, factories, cyberpunk megalopolises and floating battle stations, while the Good Guys live in small villages in peaceful harmony with nature. (Although somehow your guns and/or heavily armed airships are exempted from this.)
Let's Start From The Very Beginning (Megaman Rule)
Whenever there is a sequel to an RPG that features the same main character as the previous game, that character will always start with beginner skills. Everything that they learned in the previous game will be gone, as will all their ultra-powerful weapons and equipment.
* The 500 Years Later Rule (Breath of Fire Rule)
In other cases, when there is a sequel to an RPG, the main hero and heroine will have the exact same names as their decendants from five hundred years ago, who ironically were the main hero and heroine in the previous game.
Let's not mince words: you're a thief. You can walk into just about anybody's house like the door wasn't even locked. You just barge right in and start looking for stuff. Anything you can find that's not nailed down is yours to keep. You will often walk into perfect strangers' houses, lift their precious artifacts, and then chat with them like you were old neighbors as you head back out with their family heirlooms under your arm. Unfortunately, this never works in stores.
Hey, I Know You!
You will accumulate at least three of these obligatory party members:
The spunky princess who is rebelling against her (single) royal parent and is in love with the hero.
The demure, soft-spoken female mage and healing magic specialist who is not only in love with the hero, but is also the last survivor of an ancient race.
The tough-as-nails female warrior who is not in love with the hero (note that this is the only female character in the game who is not in love with the hero and will therefore be indicated as such by having a spectacular scar, a missing eye, cyborg limbs or some other physical deformity -- see The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Rule.)
The achingly beautiful gothy swordsman who is riven by inner tragedy.
The big, tough, angry guy who, deep down, is a total softy.
The grim, selfish mercenary who over the course of the game learns what it means to really care about other people.
The weird bonus character who requires a bizarre series of side quests to make them effective (with the ultimate result that no player ever uses this character if it can be avoided.)
The nauseatingly cute mascot who is useless in all battles.
Hey, I Know You, Too!
You will also confront/be confronted by at least three of these obligatory foes:
The amazingly good-looking and amazingly evil bishounen (Japanese for "long-haired prettyboy") who may or may not be the ultimate villain.
The villain's loyal right-hand man, who comes in two versions: humorously incompetent or annoyingly persistent.
The villain's attractive female henchman, who is the strongest and most competent soldier in the army but always lets the party escape because she's, yes, fallen in love with the hero.
The irritatingly honorable foe whom you never get to kill because, upon discovering the true nature of his superiors, he either nobly sacrifices himself or joins your party.
The mad scientist who likes creating mutated creatures and powerful weapons 'cause it's fun (and also handy if uninvited adventurers show up.)
The adorably cute li'l creature or six year old child who fights you and, inexplicably, kicks your butt time after time.
"Silly Squall, bringing a sword to a gunfight..."
No matter what timeframe the game is set in -- past, present, or future -- the main hero and his antagonist will both use a sword for a weapon. (Therefore, you can identify your antagonist pretty easily right from the start of the game just by looking for the other guy who uses a sword.) These swords will be far more powerful than any gun and often capable of distance attacks.
Just Nod Your Head And Smile
And no matter how big that big-ass sword is, you won't stand out in a crowd. Nobody ever crosses the street to avoid you or seems to be especially shocked or alarmed when a heavily armed gang bursts into their house during dinner, rummages through their posessions, and demands to know if they've seen a black-caped man. People can get used to anything, apparently.
Just as the main male character will always use a sword or a variant of a sword, the main female character will always use a rod or a staff of some sort.
Other than for the protagonists, your choice of weapons is not limited to the prosaic guns, clubs, or swords. Given appropriate skills, you can cut a bloody swath across the continent using gloves, combs, umbrellas, megaphones, dictionaries, sketching tablets -- you name it, you can kill with it. Even better, no matter how surreal your choice of armament, every store you pass will just happen to stock an even better model of it for a very reasonable price. Who else is running around the world killing people with an umbrella?
¿Quien Es Mas Macho? (Fargo Rule)
Every powerful character you attempt to seek aid from will first insist upon "testing your strength" in a battle to the death.
* Fargo Corollary
Even if you fail in this battle to the death, you'll obtain that character anyway.
Everyday Object Rule
When an everyday object is useful, it will be fantastically expensive and difficult to find. For instance, if vitamins are used to heal, they'll cost $500.00 each and never ever be in bottles of fifty at the drugstore.
We Had To Destroy The Village In Order To, Well, You Know The Rest (Selene Rule)
No matter what happens, never call on the government, the church, or any other massive controlling authority for help. They'll just send a brigade of soldiers to burn your entire village to the ground.
Zidane's Curse (or, Dirty Pair Rule)
An unlucky condition in which every major city in the game will coincidentally wind up being destroyed just after the hero arrives.
Local Control Principle
Although the boss monster terrorizing the first city in the game is less powerful than the non-boss monsters that are only casual nuisances to cities later in the game, nobody from the first city ever thinks of hiring a few mercenaries from the later cities to kill the monster.
The basic ammunition for any firearms your characters have is either unlimited or very, very easy to obtain. This will apply even if firearms are extremely rare.
Indestructible Weapon Rule
No matter how many times you use that sword to strike armored targets or fire that gun on full auto mode it will never break, jam or need any form of maintenance unless it is critical to the story that the weapon breaks, jams or needs maintenance.
Painted-On Equipment Rule
Enemy equipment doesn't exist. Even if your enemy is a knight in armor wielding a sword, chances are next to nothing that you'll get his armor or sword by the end of the battle. Instead, you'll get some object that (even if it is a gigantic weapon or accessory) was completely invisible during the fight.
Your characters must always keep both feet on the ground and will be unable to climb over low rock ledges, railings, chairs, cats, slightly differently-colored ground, or any other trivial objects which may happen to be in their way. Note that this condition will not prevent your characters from jumping from railroad car to railroad car later in the game.
* If You Get the American Copy, You're Screwed (Sephiroth Rule)
It's really cool when you find out that the main villian can join your party about halfway into the game by doing a really easy trick. It really sucks when you find out that you can only do this in the Japanese version, because they edited it out of the American version.
You Can't Kill Me, I Quit (Seifer Rule)
The good guys never seem to get the hang of actually arresting or killing the bad guys. Minor villains are always permitted to go free so they can rest up and menace you again later -- sometimes five minutes later. Knowing this rule, you can deduce that if you do manage to kill (or force the surrender of) a bad guy, you must be getting near the end of the game.
And Now You Die, Mr. Bond! (Beatrix Rule)
Fortunately for you, the previous rule also applies in reverse. Rather than kill you when they have you at their mercy, the villains will settle for merely blasting you down to 1 hit point and leaving you in a crumpled heap while they stroll off, laughing. (This is, of course, because they're already planning ahead how they'll manipulate you into doing their bidding later in the game -- see Way To Go, Serge.)
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose (Grahf Rule)
It doesn't matter that you won the fight with the boss monster; the evil task he was trying to carry out will still get accomplished somehow. Really, you might as well not have bothered.
There will be a sequence which pretends to be the end of the game but obviously isn't -- if for no other reason than because you're still on Disk 1 of 4.
You Die, And We All Move Up In Rank
During that fake ending, the true villain of the story will kill the guy you'd thought was the villain, just to demonstrate what a badass he (the true villain) really is. You never get to kill the fake villain yourself.
"What are we going to do tonight, Vinsfeld?"
The goal of every game (as revealed during the Fake Ending) is to Save the World from an evil figure who's trying to take it over or destroy it. There is no way to escape from this formidable task. No matter whether the protagonist's goal in life is to pay off a debt, to explore distant lands, or just to make time with that cute girl in the blue dress, it will be necessary for him to Save the World in order to accomplish it. Take heart, though -- once the world gets sorted out, everything else will fall into place almost immediately.
Whenever somebody tells you about "the five ancient talismans" or "the nine legendary crystals" or whatever, you can be quite confident that Saving the World will require you to go out and find every last one of them.
George W. Bush Geography Simplification Initiative
Every country in the world will have exactly one town in it, except for the country you start out in, which will have three.
Fodor's Guide Rule
In the course of your adventure you will visit one desert city, one port town, one mining town, one casino city, one magic city (usually flying), one medieval castle kingdom, one martial arts-based community, one thieves' slum, one lost city and one sci-fi utopia.
* Final Dungeon Rule
The final dungeon will be located at one of the following locations:
a.) In space.
b.) In the Ominous Ring of Land (see the Ominous Ring of Land Rule).
c.) A strange tower that mysteriously appeared overnight.
d.) In a hidden area of a dungeon conquered in the beginning of the game.
e.) In a strange place that just popped out of nowhere (see Time Compression).
The capital of the evil empire is always divided into two sections: a lower city slum filled with slaves and supporters of the rebellion, and an upper city filled with loyal fanatics and corrupt aristocrats.
Short Attention Span Principle
All bookshelves contain exactly one book, which only has enough text on it to fill up half a page.
Invisible Bureaucracy Rule
Other than the royal family, its shifty advisor, and the odd mad scientist, the only government employees you will ever encounter in the course of your adventure are either guards or kitchen staff.
The Miracle Of Automation
Similarily, any factory, power plant, or other facility that you visit during the course of the game will be devoid of any human life except for the occasional guards. There will not be a single line worker or maintenance person in sight.
Principle of Archaeological Convenience
Every ancient machine you find will work perfectly the first time you try to use it and every time thereafter. Even if its city got blasted into ruins and the machine was then sunk to the bottom of the sea and buried in mud for ten thousand years, it'll still work fine. The unfortunate corollary to this rule is that ancient guardian creatures will also turn out to be working perfectly when you try to filch their stuff.
* Principle of Modern Convenience
Every brand new machine that the scientist that helps you out ever now and then makes for you will either blow up in your face or crash on its flight test.
The loopiest guy in the game will become either your strongest character or your worst enemy.
I Don't Like Gears Or Fighting
There are always giant robots. Always.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Rule
a. Any male character who is ugly, malformed, or misshapen is either evil or so moral, spiritual, and/or wise that it's a wonder no one's proposed him for sainthood yet.
b. Any male character who has a physical disfiguration that doesn't seem to impede him (i.e. a prominent scar across the face or a bad eye) is evil, unless he is the male lead, since scars are cool and no other good guy can be as cool as the hero. An exception is made for characters who are clearly ancient, and therefore automatically not as cool as the young hero.
c. Any female character who is ugly, malformed, mishapen, or physically disfigured is evil, since all good female characters are there to be potentially seduced by the male lead -- see Know Your Audience.
Henchman Quota (Nana, Saki, and Mio Rule)
One of your antagonists will have three lovably incompetent stooges whom you fight over and over again. Although they're trusted with their boss's most important plans and equipment, they will screw up repeatedly, argue incessantly among themselves, blab secret information, and generally only come out victorious when their job was to be a diversion or a delaying tactic. A high point of the game will come when the True Villain reveals himself and you're able to convince the stooges you're all on the same side. They won't help you out any more successfully than they helped the antagonist, but at least you won't have to fight them any more.
Thousand Year Rule
The Ancient Evil returns to savage the land every thousand years on the dot, and the last time it showed up was just about 999.9875 years ago. Despite their best efforts, heroes of the past were never able to do more than seal the Evil away again for the future to deal with (which brings up the question of just how exactly does this "sealing away" work anyway, but never mind.) The good news is that this time, the Evil will get destroyed permanently. The bad news is that you're the one who's going to have to do it.
* The Sealing Away Rule
Anytime you attempt to seal away the Ancient Evil that returned in the same manner that the heroes of the past did, it fails miserably.
Ayn Rand's Revenge
Outside the major cities, there is no government whatsoever. Of course, perhaps that explains why it's so difficult and dangerous to get anywhere outside the major cities.
Law of Productive Gullibility (Ruby Rule)
Whenever anybody comes up to you with a patently ludicrous claim (such as, "I'm not a cat, I'm really an ancient Red Dragon") there's an at least two-thirds chance they're telling the truth. Therefore, it pays to humor everyone you meet; odds are you'll be glad you did later on.
If you're unsure about what to do next, ask all the townspeople nearby. They will either all strongly urge you to do something, in which case you must immediately go out and do that thing, or else they will all strongly warn you against doing something, in which case you must immediately go out and do that thing.
Mundane Medical Miracle Rule
In every populated area and several unpopulated ones, you will be able to buy items (usually potions) that instantly heal any wound. Despite their amazing, impossible power, these healing items are conveniently cheap and light, allowing you to purchase and carry at least 99 of them at one time. Note that there will be just as many hospitals and doctors as ever despite the obsolescence of their profession.
First Law of Travel
Anything can become a vehicle -- castles, cities, military academies, you name it -- so do not be alarmed when the stones of the ancient fortress you are visiting shake underfoot and the whole thing lifts off into the sky. As a corollary, anything is capable of flight if it would be cool, aeronautics or even basic physics be damned.
Second Law of Travel
There will be only one of any non-trivial type of vehicle in the entire world. Thus, only one ocean-capable steamboat, only one airship, and so forth. Massive facilities will have been constructed all over the world to service this one vehicle.
Third Law of Travel
The only way to travel by land between different areas of a continent will always be through a single narrow pass in a range of otherwise impenetrable mountains. Usually a palace or monastery will have been constructed in the pass, entirely filling it, so that all intracontinental traffic is apparently required to abandon their vehicles and go on foot up stairs and through the barracks, library and throne room to get to the other side. This may explain why most people just stay home. (In some cases a cave or underground tunnel may be substituted for the palace or monastery, but it will still be just as inconvenient with the added bonuses of cave-ins and nonsensical elevator puzzles.)
Fourth Law of Travel
Three out of every four vehicles you ride on will eventually sink, derail or crash in some spectacular manner.
Fifth Law of Travel (Big Joe Rule)
As has been described, you must endure great trials just to get from town to town: locating different vehicles, operating ancient transport mechanisms, evading military blockades, the list goes on. But that's just you. Every other character in the game seems to have no trouble getting to any place in the world on a moment's notice.
If You Meet The Buddha In A Random Encounter, Kill Him!
When you're out wandering around the world, you must kill everything you meet. People, animals, plants, insects, fire hydrants, small cottages, anything and everything is just plain out to get you. It may be because of your rampant kleptomania (see Garrett's Principle.)
Guy in the Street Rule
No matter how fast you travel, rumors of world events always travel faster. When you get to anywhere, the people on the street are already talking about where you've been.
Wherever You Go, There They Are
Wherever the characters go, the villains can always find them. Chances are they're asking the guy in the street (see above). But don't worry -- despite being able to find the characters with ease anytime they want to, the bad guys never get rid of them by simply blowing up the tent or hotel they're spending the night in. (Just think of it: the screen dims, the peaceful going-to-sleep-now music plays, then BOOM! Game Over!)
You Do Not Talk About Fight Club
Any fighting tournament or contest of skill you hear about, you will eventually be forced to enter and win.
Whenever someone asks you a question to decide what to do, it's just to be polite. He or she will ask the question again and again until you answer "correctly."
Puddin' Tame Rule
The average passer-by will always say the same thing no matter how many times you talk to them, and they certainly won't clarify any of the vaguely worded warnings or cryptic half-sentences they threw at you the previous time.
But They Don't Take American Express
Every merchant in the world -- even those living in far-off villages or hidden floating cities cut off from the outside world for centuries, even those who speak different languages or are of an entirely different species -- accepts the same currency.
All legends are 100% accurate. All rumors are entirely factual. All prophecies will come true, and not just someday but almost immediately.
* Nostradamus Corillary
All legends, rumors, and prophecies always predict something bad. However, they never predict the butt-load of trouble you have to go through just to make sure that the something bad doesn't destroy the world.
You Always Travel In The Right Circles
Whenever you meet a villager or other such incidental character who promises to give you some great piece of needed knowledge or a required object in exchange for a seemingly simple item, such as a bar of soap or a nice straw mat, be prepared to spend at least an hour chasing around the world exchanging useless innocuous item after item with bizarre strangers until you can get that elusive first item you were asked for.
Talk Is Cheap Rule
Nothing is ever solved by diplomacy or politics in the world of RPGs. Any declarations of peace, summits and treaty negotiations are traps to fool the ever so gullible Good Guys into thinking the war is over, or to brainwash the remaining leaders of the world.
Stop Your Life (Setzer Rule)
No matter what kind of exciting, dynamic life a character was leading before joining your party, once there they will be perfectly content to sit and wait on the airship until you choose to use them.
"You Couldn't Get To Sleep Either, Huh?"
If any character in the game ever meets any other character standing alone at night looking at the moon, those two will eventually fall in love.
Selective Invulnerability Principle
RPG characters are immune from such mundane hazards as intense heat, freezing cold, or poison gas... except when they're suddenly not. Surprise!
Law of Numbers
There will be several items or effects which depend on the numerical value of your hit points, level, etc., which makes no sense unless the characters can see all the numbers in their world and find it perfectly normal that a spell only works on a monster whose level is a multiple of 5.
I'm the NRA (Billy Lee Black Rule)
Opposition to gun control is probably the only thing you could get all RPG characters to agree upon. Even deep religious faith and heartfelt pacifism can't compete with the allure of guns.
First Law of Fashion
All characters wear a single costume which does not change over the course of the game. The only exception is when characters dress up in enemy uniforms to infiltrate their base.
Second Law of Fashion
Any female character's costume, no matter how outlandish, is always completely suitable to wear when climbing around in caves, hiking across the desert, and slogging through the sewers.
* Third Law of Fashion
Male characters are completely covered up, with the exception of the big angry guy who sometimes wears a no-sleaved shirt or a vest that exposes his chest. Female characters wear next to nothing or long dresses with slits down and/or up the middle.
Last Rule of Politics
Kingdoms are good. Empires are evil.
Franklin Covey Was Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
Sticking to the task at hand and going directly from place to place and goal to goal is always a bad idea, and may even prevent you from being able to finish the game. It's by dawdling around, completing side quests and giving money to derelicts that you come into your real power.
Wait! That Was A Load-Bearing Boss!
Defeating a dungeon's boss creature will frequently cause the dungeon to collapse, which is nonsensical but does make for thrilling escape scenes.
Magical Inequality Theorem
In the course of your travels you may find useful-sounding spells such as Petrify, Silence, and Instant Death. However, you will end up never using these spells in combat because a) all ordinary enemies can be killed with a few normal attacks, making fancy attacks unneccessary, b) all bosses and other stronger-than-average monsters are immune to those effects so there's no point in using them for long fights where they'd actually come in handy, and c) the spells usually don't work anyway.
Magical Inequality Corollary
When the enemy uses Petrify, Silence, Instant Death, et cetera spells on you, they will be effective 100% of the time.
The Ominous Ring of Land
The classic Ominous Ring of Land is a popular terrain feature that frequently doesn't show up on your world map. Just when you think things are going really well and you've got the Forces of Evil on the run, monsters, demons and mad gods will pour out of the center of the ring and the situation will get ten times worse. The main villain also usually hangs out in one of these after attaining godhood. If there are several Ominous Rings of Land or the entire world map is one big ring, you are just screwed.
Law of NPC Relativity (Magus Rule)
Characters can accomplish superhuman physical feats, defeat enemies with one hand tied behind their back and use incredible abilities -- until they join your party and you can control them. Then these wonderful powers all vanish, along with most of their hit points.
Guards! Guards! (or, Lindblum Full Employment Act)
Everything will be guarded and gated (elevators, docks, old rickety bridges, random stretches of roadway deep in the forest) except for the stuff that actually needs to be.
Thank You For Pressing The Self-Destruct Button
All enemy installations and city-sized military vehicles will be equipped with a conveniently located, easy-to-operate self-destruct mechanism.
Harmless Looking Monster Law (Tonberry Rule)
If you encounter a monster that looks odd, harmless, and cute, run away! It is insanely strong and will easily decimate your party.
* Harmless Looking Monster Law 2 (Cactuar Rule)
If you encounter plant life in a desert, this could be a very good or very bad thing. It could be a very good thing if you're lucky enough to kill one -- as they always seem to avoid everyone's attacks except for the hero's -- because they'll offer up an insane amount of experiance or ablility points or what have you. This could be a bad thing if the plant life is about 20 times taller than your characters and suddenly decides to take away 10,000 hit points from one of them.
An RPG character can fall any distance onto anything without suffering anything worse than brief unconsciousness. In fact, falling a huge distance is an excellent cure for otherwise fatal wounds -- anyone who you see shot, stabbed, or mangled and then tossed off a cliff is guaranteed to return later in the game with barely a scratch.
Materials Science 101
Gold, silver, and other precious metals make excellent weapons and armor even though in the real world they are too soft and heavy to use for that purpose. In fact, they work so well that nobody ever melts their solid gold suit of armor down into bullion, sells it, and retires to a tropical isle on the proceeds.
Materials Science 201
Everyone you meet will talk enthusiastically about how some fantastically rare metal (iron, say) would make the best possible armor and weapons. Oh, if only you could get your hands on some! However, once you actually obtain iron -- at great personal risk, of course -- everyone will dismiss it as yesterday's news and instead start talking about some even more fantastically rare metal, such as gold. Repeat until you get to the metal after "mythril" (see The Ultimate Rule.)
Gender Equality, Part 1
Your average female RPG character carries a variety of deadly weapons and can effortlessly hack or magic her way through armies of monsters, killer cyborgs, and mutated boss creatures without breaking a sweat. She may be an accomplished ninja, a superpowered secret agent, or the world's greatest adventurer. However, if one of the game's villains manages to sneak up and grab her by the Standard Female Character Grab Area (her upper arm) she will be rendered utterly helpless until rescued by the hero.
Gender Equality, Part 2 (Feena Rule)
If any female character, in a burst of anger or enthusiasm, decides to go off and accomplish something on her own without the hero, she will fail miserably and again have to be rescued.
Gender Equality, Part 3 (Luna Rule)
All of the effort you put into maxing out the female lead's statistics and special abilities will turn out to be for naught when she spends the final confrontation with the villain dead, ensorcelled, or held hostage.
* Gender Equality, Part 4 (Aeris Rule)
The female lead character is only useful when she's about to die.
Stealing The Spotlight (Edea Rule)
The characters who join your party only briefly tend to be much cooler than your regular party members.
"Mommy, why didn't they just use a Phoenix Down on Aeris?"
Don't expect battle mechanics to carry over into the "real world."
Sephiroth Memorial Escape Clause
Any misdeed up to and including multiple genocide is forgiveable if you're cool enough.
Party Guidance Rule
Somewhere in the last third of the story, the hero will make a stupid decision and the rest of the party must remind him of all that they have learned from being with him in order to return the hero to normal.
Bad Is Good, Baby!
The heroes can always count on the support of good-hearted vampires, dragons, thieves, demons, and chainsaw murderers in their quest to save the world from evil. And on the other hand...
Good Is Bad, Baby!
Watch out for generous priests, loyal military officers, and basically anyone in a position of authority who agrees to help you out, especially if they save your life and prove their sincerity innumerable times -- they're usually plotting your demise in secret (at least when they can fit it into their busy schedule of betraying their country, sponsoring international terrorism, and stealing candy from small children) and will stab you in the back at the most inconvenient moment, unless they fall under...
General Leo's Exception
Honorable and sympathetic people who work for the Other Side are always the genuine article. Of course they'll be busily stabbing you in the front, so either way you lose. Eventually though, they'll fall prey to...
The Ineffectual Ex-Villain Theorem (Col. Mullen Rule)
No matter how tough and bad-ass one of the Other Side's henchmen is, if he bails to the side of Good he'll turn out to be not quite tough and bad-ass enough. The main villain will defeat him easily. But don't weep -- usually he'll manage to escape just in time, leaving you to deal with the fate that was meant for him.
All The Time In The World (Rinoa Rule)
Unless there's a running countdown clock right there on the screen, you have as long as you want to complete any task -- such as, say, rescuing a friend who's hanging by one hand from a slippery cliff edge thousands of feet in the air -- no matter how incredibly urgent it is. Dawdle or hurry as you will, you'll always make it just in the nick of time.
Ladies First (Belleza Rule)
When things really start falling apart, the villain's attractive female henchman will be the first to jump ship and switch to the side of Good. Sadly, she still won't survive until the end credits, because later she will sacrifice her life out of unrequited love for the villain.
Trial By Fire (Cecil Rule)
Any dark and brooding main characters will ultimately be redeemed by a long, ardous, quasi-spiritual quest that seems difficult at the time, but in the great scheme of things just wasn't that big of a deal after all.
Way To Go, Serge
It will eventually turn out that, for a minimum of the first sixty percent of the game, you were actually being manipulated by the forces of evil into doing their sinister bidding for them. In extreme cases this may go as high as 90%.
They Never Learn
Nevertheless, no matter how in-your-face clear it becomes that the villain is playing the hero, and no matter how many times the hero gets burned, he will never realize that he's being suckered and decide to change his plans (or just abandon the quest and go get drunk, presumably foiling the villain's manipulative schemes that way.)
Any character who has amnesia will be cured before the end of the game. They usually won't like what they find out about themselves, though.
Luke, I Am Your Tedious, Overused Plot Device (Lynx Rule)
If there is any chance whatsoever that major villain X could be the male lead's father, then it will turn out that major villain X is the male lead's father.
Golden Chocobo Principle
There will be at least one supremely ultimate improvement for your weapon or some way to make your trusted steed capable of going anywhere and doing anything, requiring hours and hours of hard work to acquire. Once you do achieve this, you will use it once, and it will be completely useless for the rest of the game.
Golden Chocobo Corollary
The magic formula for acquiring this supreme upgrade will be only vaguely alluded to in the game itself. Ideally, you're supposed to shell out $19.95 for the strategy guide instead.
"Evil will always triumph, because Good is dumb!"
If the villain needs all ten legendary medallions to attain world domination and you have nine of them, everybody in your party still thinks it is neccessary to bring the nine to the villain's castle and get the final one, instead of hiding the ones they've already got and spoiling his plans that way. After you foolishly bring the legendary medallions to the villain's hideout, he will kidnap one of your companions (usually the main love interest) and you will trade the world away to rescue your friend.
It's Not My Department, Says Wernher Von Braun
All space stations, flying cities, floating continents and so forth will without exception either be blown up or crash violently to earth before the end of the game.
By the time you've gotten it in gear, dealt with your miscellaneous personal crises and are finally ready to go Save the World once and for all, nine-tenths of it will already have been destroyed. Still, you've got to give your all to save the remaining one-tenth.
Compression of Time
As you approach the final confrontation with the villain, events will become increasingly awkward, contrived and disconnected from one another -- almost as if some cosmic Author was running up against a deadline and had to slap together the ending at the last minute.
Adam Smith's Revenge
By the end of the game you are renowned everywhere as the Legendary Heroes, every surviving government and authority figure has rallied behind you, the fate of the world is obviously hanging in the balance, and out of nowhere random passers-by give you a pat on the back and heartfelt good luck wishes. However, shopkeepers won't even give you a discount, much less free supplies for the final battle with evil.
Adam Smith's Corollary
No matter how thoroughly devastated the continent/planet/universe is, there's always some shopkeeper who survived the end of the world and sits outside the gates of the villain's castle, selling the most powerful equipment in the game, like nothing ever happened.
* Adam Smith's Second Corollary
Any and all items that are sold by the last surviving shopkeeper will be outrageously priced and you'll have to go around for about five hours trying to get up enough money to buy them.