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[Rant] Suikoden 3 and Hikusaak's Jars

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My last thread went pretty well, and you'd think I'd learn from that.  But no, here we are, back with a rant format.

Because I can't sleep.  And I need to do a brain dump.

Heads up, the impending wall of text will contain significant spoilers for the Suikoden series.  If you haven't played these games, well... you should, but you should definitely exit this thread first.

Okay, so some setup.  I've been playing through the older games in my library, and so recently I blew the dust off the Suikoden series (of which I own its first four titles).  It's a peculiar RPG with the gimmick that each game has 108 recruitable characters, many of whom are battle-viable [though you should probably leave the chef at the castle].  It's an intriguing concept but it stretches character development paper-thin, to the point where handfuls of characters are just facets of the same concept.  I couldn't tell you the differences between the two fishermen, three pirates, or who-knows how many faux-french narcissists are present in these games.  I know the number 108 has significance, but perhaps sticking to a smaller cast of say 27 would have been more effective.

Anyway, circling around to that, the series has 27 "True Runes", each representing a concept and permitting a certain phenomenon to exist in the world.  For instance, dragons only exist because the Dragon Rune is borne on a human hand: were that human to perish, the dragons would all perish too.  Or would they?  There's a lot of inconsistency and contradiction with how the True Runes are explained in the games.  Since this topic is specifically about their representation in Suikoden 3, I'll go with what's used in that game.

* The bearer of a True Rune does not age.
* No one human being can bear more than a single True rune.
* True Runes can be inscribed onto objects, but only the Cyndar [lost civilization] know how
* True Runes can reject their owners.
* True Runes hold the memories of everyone who has owned them.
* No two runes hold power over the same thing.
* No True rune can overpower another, they are of equal strength.  Two, however...
* True Runes can create child runes that are less powerful.  Some True Runes fracture into unique, powerful, child forms that must be reunited [Suikoden 2]
* True Runes act as seals against the forces they control.  For example, the True Fire rune holds back terrible infernos that would otherwise engulf the world [this was a new addition in 3]

So there's this emperor of Harmonia, Hikusaak, who wishes to own all 27 True Runes.  He is in possession of the Circle Rune [which is tied to harmony and possibly music, judging by the addition of a new "Musical Poetry" child rune in 3], and at some time he was also in possession of the True Earth and True Wind runes.
How did he own all three at the same time, when the bearer of a True Rune can bear only one?

Well, Hikusaak's solution to that problem was quite brilliant.
He cloned himself.  Each time he acquired a new True Rune, he gathered one of his (I call it) Canopic Jars, filled with floating bits of himself grown by magical means, and affixed the rune to this grotesque trapping.  The result?  A child version of Hikusaak was created, bearing the new True Rune.  This is the origin of the characters Sasarai and Luc.

And herein lies my gripe.  That's a brilliant and disturbing bit of world-building.  Hikusaak basically hacked the world to get his way, allowing himself to hold more than one true rune at a time.  But his plan didn't work.  See, the clones have the double-whammy of Hikusaak's impulses (to gather True Runes) and the memories of the rune they received.  As such, they are not perfect clones.  Sasarai plays along because Hikusaak was likely the prior owner of the True Earth rune (so the two think alike), but Luc has a nihilistic tantrum because of the memories grafted onto him by the True Wind rune.

So what's wrong with that?  It's a really awesome concept, right?

Yes, yes it is.

But then they don't use it in reference to the other three True Element runes.

Luc uses Hikusaak's jars to steal the remaining three True Element runes (Water, Lightning, and Fire) during the course of the game.  But the jars don't turn into more clones of Hikusaak like they should have, they just become floating crystals of the runes.


It would have been brilliant and unexpected if--upon stealing the first of the three remaining runes (Water)--Luc were to be confronted by a new 'brother' clone of Hikusaak, one bearing Wyatt's memories and with personality appropriately colored by it.  The plot would have further wrinkled [in a good way] if Luc falsely believed he could control these new clones, only to have them unite against him and overpower him in the finale.

I was terribly frustrated by this missed opportunity in the writing of the game.  I suppose most people don't care about this stuff, but it's just good world-building to note the details established and remain consistent with them.  Luc was incredibly angsty about just being a 'bucket of parts', and having a trio of new characters with the same origins--but a different perspective on the matter--would have been so elegant.

One more point to nit-pick: Luc shouldn't have been killed by the collapsing ruins at the end of the game.  True Runes make their owners immortal and drive them to fight.  It is only logical that they do this because they must commute through battle: a True Rune requires its owner die in combat so that it might jump to a new owner.  The thought follows that their bearers CANNOT die of natural causes, and even being crushed or thrown from a cliff would leave them alive--albeit broken--until another entity comes along to be the new host.


That's been bothering me since I beat the game again in my recent play-through.  I wonder if it bothered any of you.

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I only played Suikoden 1, I got nothing.

Logic seems to make sense though.

Regarding the canopic jar thing: is this why Luc's head in Suikoden 1 is shaped like a fishbowl?

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