30 rules every RPG must follow

We wouldn’t expect any of you to have noticed, but there are recurring elements in many role-playing games. They're cleverly disguised from game to game; often, similar characters may wear different outfits or you'll use a gunblade instead of a sword, but once you learn to identify similarities, you can usually predict what’s going to happen in about any RPG you want.
Using our cutting-edge criticism, we’ve been able to find the most powerful of these trends and create an outline for the Ultimate RPG, which all future games will imitate. No need to thank us, just be warned: if you read the following article, no plot twist will ever surprise you and no revelation will seem important. After seeing the outline for the Ultimate RPG, your life may lose its sweet flavor. On the other hand, read it anyway.

You'll begin the game as a young boy, in the 16-18 range, and it seems you're just another average young man with awesome hair and no job, school, hobbies, responsibilities, life experience or changes of clothes to worry about. Then, one fateful day, you'll wake up and find that…

And today’s the day of the town's special holiday fair. Luckily, your grandfather woke you up before you missed it. Still, it's sad that your parents weren't around to help him raise you, but they were killed under non-specific circumstances in the Great War that ended once and for all a few years ago.

Above: Just another day at the Millennial Fair

Despite the rustic, medieval setting, your grandfather is seen as a source of wisdom and experience. Nobody’s noticed his lack of usefulness and apparent unemployment in a village where every other house has a specific purpose. The two of you have lived a quiet life in your one room cabin that is simply “your house.”

Gramps will tell you to go check out the village. You know, see what’s new with the 15 villagers you’ve spent every moment of the first 16 years of your life with. That’s when you find…

Damn, you can't say no to an old lady. We mean that literally. It will not be an option to decline this inane task.

The following tasks are the only possible errands she wants you to run:

a. Go search for her missing grandchild, he was last seen going off to look for something in the nearby dangerous area.
b. Find the last ingredient she needs to create the only medicine that can cure her sick relative. It's located in the nearby dangerous area.
c. Retrieve the special artifact needed for today's celebration. The villagers decided it would be smart to keep in outside of the village (in that nearby dangerous area).

Above: The old woman says, "Would you mind running up to the top of the tower? It should be no problem, Sonny"

In other words, you're going to fight monsters, but don't button-up your shirt and prance out the town gate before finishing up your business. Seeing as how you'll most-likely die helping out your elders, you might want to hang out for a bit longer and...

You two grew up in the same town, but your friend always had all the advantages in life. He or she was probably recently accepted to "The Academy" and is planning on attending soon. That's too bad for you because being poor and having a grandpa for your second-best friend means that, under normal circumstances, you would have no future.

Congratulations! You’ll end up discovering true love with her over the course of your adventures. Yes, this is only the first of many adventures, so don't count on The Academy working out for her.

Don’t get too attached. You've spent an entire childhood full of bonding moments with your buddy, but he’s going to betray you. It’s nothing personal. When it’s all over, he’ll swear it wasn’t him, “it was the evil magic, and now he’s totally in control.”

Above: “Evil magic”

Keep talking to villagers and…

It will probably be your grandpa.

It turns out that your grandfather was not always as useless as he is now. He was once a world-famous adventurer, but hasn't told you because he didn't want you stuck the same life of fortune and perpetual retirement.

The weapon has been handed down through generations of your family. Every other sword in the game will be better than grandpop’s tin kitchen knife, and you should sell it as soon as you find something better.

Above: Sword technology isn't cyclical

Finally, take a few moments to reflect on what your fellow villagers had to say when you were walking around saying hi. Sure, they tended to repeat the same simple sentences over and over until you eventually walked away, but maybe they were programmed that way for a reason.

If you hear that there “might” be a bandit camp to the east, whip out your automap and label everything east “unexplored bandit camp.”

If you hear a rumor from the dithering old lady who’s spent the last 50 years in the hut next to your grandfather’s house about how the king might have a terrible illness and be secretly nearing death, just take her uninformed, loony word for it.

And anyone who so much as whispers anything about a prophecy, even if they heard it while drunk, underwater and out the beak of a 1,000 year-old duck, take their word as fact, and expect it to be fulfilled in the next 20-some hours of gameplay.


  • skyguy343 - March 3, 2009 9:30 p.m.

    god i love this site, great article
  • Cyberninja - March 3, 2009 9:31 p.m.

    second great article
  • RonnyLive19881 - March 3, 2009 9:42 p.m.

    You just spoiled every RPG I have never played! HOW DARE YOU!
  • Fishow753 - March 3, 2009 9:44 p.m.

    Another Paul Ryan classic.
  • jamminontha1n2 - March 3, 2009 10:25 p.m.

    I'm just wondering how long it took him to come up with this list. It's spot on. Great article
  • Corsair89 - March 3, 2009 10:47 p.m.

    haha, yeah. I've played tons of RPGs and they all follow these rules, especially RPGs by Square Enix. You forgot something: sometime along the way, one of your most important allies WILL die. Whether an NPC or party member, someone important to you will die.
  • Thequestion 121 - March 3, 2009 10:50 p.m.

    Awesome. Now I know how to beat every RPG ever!! Thanks GR!!!
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - March 3, 2009 10:57 p.m.

    Oh Paul Ryan, when will you stop hating RPGs?
  • legory - March 3, 2009 10:58 p.m.

    Ahah, this is awesome. You rock Paul.
  • candyman - March 3, 2009 11:07 p.m.

    This sounds a lot like an old game I played once.
  • s3ct10n8 - March 3, 2009 11:14 p.m.

    I think that names that are impossible to pronounce should be on this list (for most new RPG's anyway) Like star wars, elder scrolls, mass effect, ect.
  • legory - March 3, 2009 11:17 p.m.

    @ candyman It sounds like Chrono Trigger, 'cause that's the one he's using as a reference.
  • Predator428 - March 3, 2009 11:22 p.m.

    Good thing Bioware doesn't follow this formula.
  • Unoriginal - March 3, 2009 11:33 p.m.

    Brilliant article. Probably one of the funniest/best things Ive read on this site. This should say JRPGs though since the American RPGs tend to stay a little fresher.
  • NelosAngelos - March 4, 2009 12:02 a.m.

    Lol, your arch enemy is actually your brother. Fear the evil Danny Devito Schwarzenegger!!! Man I love the movie twins
  • FadedLineVigil - March 4, 2009 12:25 a.m.

    Thank you for compiling things we've all known for years. Hack.
  • Mystery514 - March 4, 2009 12:49 a.m.

    Hilarious Article!
  • OldRustyDusty - March 4, 2009 2:53 a.m.

    Hahaha, these are all so, so true for so many JRPGS!
  • GoldenMe - March 4, 2009 5:22 a.m.

    You guys win. You always win. Every other website can suck it. Awesome article Paul! I would be honored to have baby-making time with you.
  • evilguy69 - March 4, 2009 5:32 a.m.

    most entertaining article i've read in a while

Showing 1-20 of 77 comments

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