Top 10 RPG Cliches

Script Written by Saaed Afzal Whether it’s constant random battles, spiky-haired protagonists, or hunting for crystals that hold the fate of the world, we’ve come to expect certain things from our favourite role-playing games… and sometimes, dread them. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 RPG Cliches. For this Top 10, we’re looking at some of the most common themes, tropes, and game mechanics you’re likely to find in the majority of role-playing games, whether they be Western, Japanesse, Single player or Massively multiplayer. Special Thanks to our user "Sai.A" for suggesting this topic on our Suggestion Tool WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 RPG Cliches


Whether it’s constant random battles, spiky-haired protagonists, or hunting for crystals that hold the fate of the world, we’ve come to expect certain things from our favourite role-playing games… and sometimes, dread them. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 RPG Clichés.

For this Top 10, we’re looking at some of the most common themes, tropes, and game mechanics you’re likely to find in the majority of role-playing games, whether they be Western, Japanesse, Single player or Massively multiplayer.

Should clarify that we’re covering multiple forms of RPG’s be it JRPG’s, Western RPG’s and MMORPG’s

#10: Blackhole Backpack

Did you know that most RPG heroes are also obsessive hoarders? Just take a look inside any protagonist’s inventory: do you really need a dozen different swords, 99 healing potions, several full body sets of armor, furniture for your villa, dragon bones, and those flowers you picked? Luckily, a lot of RPGs offer a bottomless backpack that can be filled with all kinds of crap you find on your adventure – even if the hero is never visibly seen with a backpack, a bag of any sort, or heck, even pockets.

#9: Standard Archetypes

Sometimes you meet someone new and get the feeling you’ve met them before… and that’s because you probably have. On the surface, RPG characters aren’t totally original: you’ve got your fighters, your mages, your healers, your cute mascots, and so on. After a while, it seems like every game reuses this tried and true formula, but in a way, that’s sort of comforting to new players I guess.

#8: Heroes Get Away With Anything

Apparently being the future savior of the world comes with a few perks: everyone around you is willing to just look the other way while you steal, plunder, and murder your way to the top. Seriously, with only a few exceptions, most NPCs just plain don’t care if a stranger barges into their home during supper, rummages through their stuff, takes their money, smashes their furniture, and leaves. Oh, and those nameless guards you killed while infiltrating that castle? Eh, who cares? After all, It’s all for the greater good, right?

#7: Destroyed Hometown

Few things will get an RPG hero off their butts like a good ol’ quest for revenge. The first hour of gameplay will be sure to show you how peaceful and perfect the hero’s life is in his serene hometown… only for that to come crashing down – literally - at the hands of a villain. It’s an exciting, action-packed, and definitely dramatic way to kick off a story, and give our hero something to angst about for the entire game. And trust us, you will be hearing about it. A lot.

#6: Repetitive NPCs

Video game characters have come a long way, and are getting more and more sophisticated… but they still have their limits. NPCs, specifically those found meandering around villages or hubs, are not known for their conversation skills. Expect a lot of generic greetings, cryptic hints on how to advance the plot, or complaints about their cow going missing or something. The best part? They’ll repeat these lines to you again and again, because what else have they got to do with their time? Of course, the player character often has a go-to response on hand to dismiss the NPCs as well.

#5: Rats, Bats, Spiders and Skeletons

There’s no better way to prepare for a long, epic adventure than by pulling out your sword and whacking a few of these generic critters before setting off. Your rats, bats, spiders, skeletons, slimes, goblins, and so on, aren’t terribly dangerous – they’re just annoying. And icky. You’re bound to encounter at least one of these as you travel through that first cave or dungeon, but soon enough they’ll be one-hit-kills for you and your team of specially-trained war machines.

#4: Magic Macguffins

You know the drill: the world is out of balance, and you need the four crystals, or the seven magic stars, or 12 days of Christmas, whatever. RPG Plotlines love to follow a formula, and you’ll start to pick up on it by the time you’ve visited your third elemental temple and grabbed yet another ancient artifact; then it’s off to the next one. Of course, you could just chuck them into the ocean, but instead you’re going to march right up to the bad guy’s front door just so he can snatch them right out of your hands. Woops.

#3: Amnesiac Character

Ah, nothing says ‘mysterious and alluring’ like forgetting who you are, where you came from, what your name is, and what you were doing with your life. Whether it’s thanks to an ancient curse, a traumatic event, or some villain’s dastardly plot, amnesia builds up suspense by slowly revealing more and more of the hero’s epic past as the game goes on. This also allows you to better associate you’re your character, because everything is now new to both of you. And guess what – they’ll always, always have a backstory that ties directly into the main plot; you’ll never find a hero who just got black-out drunk one night and hit his head on the pavement.

#2: The Chosen One

If it’s not clear yet, RPG heroes have a burning need to be more special than anyone else. So if you happen to hear a prophecy, a myth, or a rumor of a fabled hero destined to rise up and save the world from the clutches of darkness, you can be sure that it’s definitely true and it’s definitely talking about one of your party members. I mean, if it wasn’t, why would you even be hearing it? You don’t have time for things that aren’t about you!

Before we reveal our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:

Oversized Weapons
Unrealistic Skimpy Armo
Magic Stomach Syndrome

#1: No One Else Can Do Anything

So… turns out there’s a downside to being the center of the universe. Sure, you get all the glory of saving the world, but you also get to play a glorified servant to everyone from that little kid looking for his dog to the old woman looking for five vials of fairy tears. Everyone else in the world will be happy to stand around, never lifting a finger, yelling about their problems until you walk by. Of course, most of these NPCs are willing to line your pockets with gold in exchange – but they just can’t be bothered to do it themselves. And you know you’re going to say ‘yes’ every time, because you’re a hero, dammit – or just greedy.

Do you agree with our list? What other clichés do you see way too much of in your favourite RPGs? For more insightful Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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