Suikoden (Japanese: 幻想水滸伝 Hepburn: Gensō Suikoden?) is a role-playing video game series originally created by Yoshitaka Murayama. The game series is loosely based on the classical Chinese novel, Shui Hu Zhuan by Shi Naian. Shui Hu Zhuan is rendered as 水滸伝 in Japanese, and read phonetically as Suikoden. Each individual game in the series centers around relative themes of politics, corruption, revolution, mystical crystals known as True Runes and the "108 Stars of Destiny"—the 108 protagonists who are loosely interpreted from the source material. 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.
Though the Suikoden games follow an irregular chronological sequence of events, the entire series (except for Tierkreis and Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki) takes place within the same world among continuing and overlapping histories. In some cases, several characters appear in multiple installations.
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.
- 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, while 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 lives and works. 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. Taken from Wikipedia and tvtropes
While the main series is numbered, each individual game takes place either before or after a consequent installation. The second and third Suikoden games were each direct sequels of their respective predecessors but with Suikoden IV, the series began to delve into prequels in which events take place earlier than any of the other games. The sequence according to in-universe chronology is as follows:
Suikoden IV (143 years before Suikoden V and 150 years before Suikoden) → Suikoden V (6 years before Suikoden) → Suikoden (3 years before Suikoden II) → Suikoden II (15 years before Suikoden III) → Suikoden III
Prequels and sequels:
The games Genso Suikogaiden Volumes 1 and 2, though not part of the main series takes place before, during, and after Suikoden II as well as Suikoden Tactics which takes place before and after Suikoden IV. Taken from Wikipedia
The Suikoden series is set in a world with many countries. The political geography has changed over the series chronology; while the most recent game in the setting is Suikoden V, chronologically, Suikoden IV is the earliest game while Suikoden III occurs latest within the time span of the series.
Suikoden, Suikoden II and Suikoden III are set on the Northern Continent, a land mass composed of several regions. Suikoden takes place in the Scarlet Moon Empire, which is located on southeastern coast of the Northern Continent, and is composed primarily of the Toran region, with Lake Toran at its centre. Notable locations in this area include Gregminister, the empire's capital situated in Arlus, the Warrior's Village in the Lorimar region, and the Great Forest. At the end of Suikoden, the empire is replaced by the Toran Republic.
Suikoden II is set in the Dunan region, directly north of the Toran Republic, and initially comprises the Highland Kingdom in the east and the Jowston City-States, a confederation of politically autonomous states, in the west. Significant locations in Jowston include the cities-states of South Window, Greenhill, Muse, and Two River, and the Knightdom of Matilda. Following the Dunan Unification War, the Highland Kingdom falls and it, along with the Jowston City-States unite to form the Dunan Republic. The Tinto region lying in the west, separated from Dunan by mountains, chooses to remain politically independent and becomes the Tinto Republic.
Sharing Dunan's western border and north of Tinto are the Grasslands, which stretch from the centre of the Northern Continent to a small portion of the continent's west coast. The area is composed of the six clans: the Lizard, Duck, Karaya, Chisha, Safir, and the Alma Kinan. Directly west of the Grasslands and bordered in the east by Tinto is the Zexen Confederacy, located on the west coast of the Northern Continent and historically an offshoot of the Grasslands. Important locations include the Zexen capital Vinay del Zexay and Budehuc Castle, which lies close to the Grasslands border in northwest Zexen. The primary conflict of Suikoden III occurs in these areas. The northwestern portion of the continent, due north of the Grasslands and Zexen, is the Knightdom of Camaro and the surrounding Nameless Lands.
The largest country in the north is the Holy Kingdom of Harmonia, located in the northeastern portion of the continent. Since its establishment, it has assimilated various neighbouring countries, such as Sanadia, as well as a portion of the Grasslands – the Kanaa clan of the Grasslands became Le Buque under Harmonian rule after the First Fire Bringer War. Notably, the Scarlet Moon Empire originally formed after obtaining political autonomy from Harmonia and taking Harmonia's old capital as its own, renaming it Gregminister, resulting in Harmonia establishing a new capital at the Crystal Valley. Harmonia is also home to the Tower, a location reserved for training and housing members of the Howling Voice Guild.
Other major areas on the Northern Continent include the Kooluk region and Kanakan. The Kooluk region was originally the Kooluk Empire during the course of Suikoden IV and eventually dissolved in Suikoden Tactics to be left as a group of independent settlements. It takes up most of the southern edge of the Northern continent and directly borders the Toran Republic in the east and the Dunan Republic in the north. Off the eastern coast of Toran is the island of Kanakan.
Lying directly south of the Northern Continent is the ocean and several islands, including Obel, Middleport, and Razril. At the end of Suikoden IV, most of these islands are unified to become the Island Nations Federation. The largest island in the area, the Dukedom of Gaien, remains independent. West of Gaien is the island nation of the Kingdom of Zelant.
Due south of the Island Nations is the Southern Continent, a landmass composed primarily of three countries: the Queendom of Falena, and its neighbours, the theocracy of Nagarea in the southwest and the New Armes Kingdom in the southeast. As the setting for Suikoden V, Falena has a large network of rivers and lakes throughout the country and the Ashtwal Mountains in its northern region. Key locations include the cities of Stormfist and Doraat in the west; Rainwall, Estrise, and Sable, located on the Armes border, in the east; Lelcar, Lordlake, and Sauronix in the south; and the Falenan capital, Sol-Falena, and the holy land of Lunas, governed by the Oracle, in the north. Falena has been protected from the militant theocracy Nagarea since the mountain pass between the nations was destroyed, though Armes continues to remain a threat throughout Suikoden V.
Northeast of Falena also appears portion of a landmass of considerable size. West of the Northern and Southern Continents and the Island Nations is a landmass referred to as the Western Continent, of which few details are known. Scattered across the world are mysterious ruins attributed to the lost Sindar race, which is a recurring theme throughout the Suikoden series. Taken from Wikipedia
The 27 True Runes
The 27 True Runes are powerful sources of all magic and primal forces in the world of Suikoden. Wholly sentient and possessing their own will, the True Runes holds immeasurable power, and are the equivalents of gods in the Suikoden world. Many wars have been fought over them in the past, some instigated by the will of the runes themselves. True Runes are often sought by the powerful and influential due to their shared property of granting immortality to those who will bear them. All bearers of True Runes stop aging and become immune to disease and all other natural causes of death, though they can still die from physical trauma such as accidents or murder.
The True Runes often attach themselves to living beings. Doing so gives the True Rune holder great power over the force the rune represents as well as immortality so long as they wield the rune. Wielding the runes can also have negative consequences, as in the case of one wielder being transformed into a vampire. A True Rune has also taken the shape of a sword, as is the case with the Star Dragon Sword. They can also manifest themselves unattached from a host, as the Beast Rune did during the Highland-Jowston conflict, self-activating and then feeding of its own will.
Known True Runes:
- Sovereign Rune (Suikoden, held by Emperor Barbarossa)
- Hachifusa Rune (never featured in a game, held by Yuber, and Yuber's Eight Devil Rune is assumed to be related to it)
- Circle Rune (never featured in a game, held by Harmonia's leader, Hikusaak)
- Rune of Change (never featured in a game, held by the Sindar's leader)
- Moon Rune (Suikoden, II, held by Neclord, and then Sierra Mikain)
- Night Rune (Suikoden, II, and III; its child, the Star Rune, held by Zerase, is present in V) as the Star Dragon Sword, which is wielded by Viktor during I and II, and Edge in III.
- Beast Rune (Suikoden II, formerly sealed in L'Renouille Palace, location: unknown after Suikoden II)
- Rune of Beginning (split into the Bright Shield Rune and Black Sword Rune, Suikoden II, held by the second Hero (Riou) and Jowy)
- Rune of Life and Death (Suikoden I, II, and IV, held by Ted, Ted's grandpa, and the first Hero (Tir McDohl)), also known as Soul Eater
- Rune of Punishment- was originally a tattoo scarred onto the arms of ancient Japanese executioners, developers used it in a well-known video game after adding a cooler tribal look. (Suikoden IV, held by the Queen of Obel, Graham Cray and his son, Rakgi's father, Steele, Brandeau, Glen Cott, and the fourth Hero (Lazlo))
- Dragon Rune (Suikoden I, held by Joshua Levenheit, and later Milia)
- True Fire Rune (Suikoden III, held by the Flame Champion, and either Hugo (canon), Chris, or Geddoe)
- True Water Rune (Suikoden III, held by Wyatt Lightfellow, and later, either Chris Lightfellow (canon) or Hugo)
- True Earth Rune (Suikoden III; present in Suikoden II, held by Sasarai)
- True Wind Rune (Suikoden III; present in Suikoden I and II, formerly held by Luc)
- True Lightning Rune (Suikoden III, held by Geddoe (canon) or Hugo)
- Sun Rune (Suikoden V; its children, the Twilight Rune and Dawn Rune, are also prominent; Sun Rune formerly held by Queen Arshtat Falenas, Dawn Rune held by Prince Freyjadour, Twilight Rune held by Alenia, Sialeeds, and Lyon)
- Gate Rune (split into the Front Gate Rune and Back Gate Rune; Suikoden I, II, III, IV, V, Front Gate Rune formerly held by Windy, Back Gate Rune held by Leknaat) Taken from Wikipedia
Supporters and Opponents of the Series: