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JRPG Rules: Time - Destructoid

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The following blog is set for One Fall! Introducing first, he is the Hylian Champion! Winner of the Seven-Year Slam, making the Hylian Ring safer, one Powerbomb of Courage at a time!


Started gaming on an Atari 2600, grew into the gamer I am now with Nintendo, playing on an NES and SNES. Became more aware of the wider scope of gaming through the Playstation and Xbox. Now I'm loving the PC gaming life.

My favorite games include A Link to the Past, Terranigma, Guilty Gear X2, Viewtiful Joe, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and DotA 2.

Huge comic book reader, and currently keeping up with Saga and Hawkeye.

My favorites are The Sandman Vol 4, Batman - Court of Owls, and V for Vendetta.

Lover of wrestling, although not so much of the infamous Attitude Era. Much of more a CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler kinda guy.

Life-long reader of books of the fictional and non-fictional variety. Love Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Wendig and Haruki Murakami.

My biggest dream is that one day Quintet returns and makes a current generation Terranigma.

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7:27 AM on 11.24.2013

Well met, traveler! You must be tired. If you wish to rest, it costs 500g to stay for the night No, don't worry. I won't charge each of you individually, all ten of you can sleep in these two beds for 500g, not a problem at all. Last time you were here, we talked about random encounters, and how an abstract idea like that could be implemented to improve this world.

Shortly after writing that, I realized that this is exactly what Shinra was doing that was sucking the life force out of the planet for cheap electricity. And here I was believing it was a cheap analogy to fossil fuel in a modern setting.

Typical Inn

But enough about the doom and gloom of the destruction of our planet, that's not what's important right now. What is important is that the world is ending in approximately "soonish" and you just decided to spend the night at the inn. I guess there's not much of a hurry in this whole saving the world business, is there?

We've all seen this happen countless of times. Peril. Imminent destruction. It's only a matter of time before the bad guy will go through with his evil plan.

I guess neither heroes are really in that much of a hurry.

So you train yourself, repeatedly fighting against those random encounters just outside of the various towns and cities. Then, using the gold you've just collected from these encounters, you head to the inn for a night's rest. The process is repeated until the day you finally confront the big bad guy to stop his evil schemes. Luckily, you are just in time. You're always just in time. As if time itself revolves around you.

It kind of does.

Time totally does stop and start at your convenience.

As if it's not weird enough that it only becomes night when you decide to go to sleep, the sun also has a habit of rising when it's time to set out again.

Days are literally as long as you want them to be. Heck, if you wanted, you could go from the start of your journey all the way to the end before lunch. Time is a thing that happens to other people, namely NPCs. If you look unique enough, or maybe even just have blue spiky hair, you're unstuck in time, able to do whatever the hell you want. Heck, you could spend an entire never-ending day at a casino for all you care. Money is in endless supply, you have no financial ties to anywhere, and you have free reign over time. You are the closest thing to a godlike entity to exist.

No wonder groups of NPCs often rise to rebel or rule in any given setting if they always have to deal with a jerkwad hero who is unstuck in every sense of the word, and yet still feels the need to rebel against the establishment.

It's not bad enough that the main character is unstuck in time, or is easily the richest person on the planet though. For a JRPG protagonist, every day is Groundhog Day. Every single day, the same NPCs are in the same places, saying the same things. The same shops sell the same items. The same dungeons spawn the same monsters. The only difference is that they wake up in a different inn from time to time.

Death is not permanent, characters can easily get revived in various ways. No physical marks are left behind from conflict. Nothing really lasts in the world, unless the effects are caused by someone else relatively unstuck in time.

Typical JRPG Hero with his ally on a typical Quest.

From the perspective of a hero, or even that of a villain, the journey from start to finish is one of months. For the villain, it took a long time to set up the plan, to gather the army and riches, to get to where they are before the protagonist even comes into the picture.

A hero still has to hone his skill, learn abilities, find items, understand his own conflicts, and face his inner demons. The reason a boy who can barely fight a rabit and come out alive at the start of a journey can rise up to defeat the terrors that destroyed entire armies is because time is not passing for them. The hero might be waking up the same day every day, but for him it's different each day. He can take as long as he likes to train, because nobody else can progress during this time.

From the perspective of an NPC, the hero's journey generally doesn't take long. Usually it just takes a day or two, which is why nobody tends to recognize the hero when he shows up in town. Whether it's the 1st or the 80th time, it's the first time any NPC will have seen him around. Unless time has gradually progressed since his arrival, they'll fail to recognize him subsequent times, or hold any significance to this one group that dresses differently than anyone else.

So why even bother trying to take over the world if people like this exist? Who's saying that isn't the case? When JRPG heroes don't have an evil empire to fight, they fight an evil oppressor. There's always a ruling party to overthrow, so who's to say that the hero of old isn't the new villain?

You might bring up the history books, or the lore of the world, but who wrote all of that? They're mostly accounts of events from the perspective of whoever won the last battle. Given the depth of the history in most JRPGs, it's safe to say that every victorious hero immediately burns the records from a second generation before him. The next hero will follow the story based on the records of the second one before him. That way the cycle of heroes and tyrants remains intact indefinitely.

When the records are being written and rewritten, everyone is free to add as many 0s to how many years have passed since things have happened because nobody has any real concept of how time passes anymore after having been outside of the loop for so long. It gets disorienting fast.

Chapter 8: My "promised land" stabbed in the back.

Turn-based battles, and the more modern active-time battle varients are effects of this disorientation. Time flows in an abstract form for everyone involved in these fights, so it's hard to understand for everyone how or when they can move in something as generally hectic and fast-paced as an all-out fight. So instead everyone stands around trying to figure out if the opponents are also stuck in time, and if not, if moving now would break their concept of reality if they'd just attack anyway.

Breaking people's concepts of reality isn't that big of a problem in itself, but there's always that possibility that if you break enough people's perception of reality, reality itself will actually break.

And trust me, you don't want reality to break.

The last famous incident where this occurred, a giant JRPG franchise was turned into an MMO. It never quite recovered from this. Although at least it wasn't as tragic as the time it happened to a young western RPG series. That series is still in suspended animation to this day because euthanasia isn't a known concept to game genres.

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