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This article is the extensive list of both intentional and unintentional tropes occuring in the entirety of the Total War series, with specific examples provided.

List of tropes

Accidental Hero

  • Sonder Karso becomes one after the events of Besieged. Though he had his share of more or less heroic actions during the Siege of Texakus, none of them was particularly prominent. He was claimed a national hero due to the propaganda reasons; after the pyrrhic victory and dreadful loses Confederacy suffered in the battle, a valiant figure was needed to inspire the frightened population. Karso happened to be one of the highest-ranking soldiers retrieved from the planet, and as such was chosen as one of the "designated heroes".

The Alcoholic

  • Sayzen Karso, Sonder's abusive father. His drunken rage often prompted him to bully the entire family, including the youngest daughter. While he eventually ceased to drink and tried to atone for his sins, the damage his physical and mental mistreatment caused proved to be significant and permament. In the end, he died prematurely due to cirrhosis.

Alien Geometries

  • The Abyss is a six-dimensional realm that cannot be comprehended by a regular mortal's senses.

Alien Sky

All Nations Are Superpowers

All Planets Are Earth-Like

  • Averted. The number of inhabited planets is quite low, and even then most of them were treated to more or less intense terraforming. Furthermore, numerous worlds inhabited by sentient species are very different from Earth, while some of them are even inhospitable for humans. There are also some examples of planets with extreme conditions that bear life, for instance Ceryl.

Alternative Calendar

Anti Hero

  • Sonder Karso is a "lawful neutral" individual at best, with a dark past and several significant character flaws. Even though, he proved to be both a good soldier and devoted companion during the Siege of Texakus. He continued to serve in the Confederate Military as a lenient, but firm commander.

Anyone Can Die

Apocalypse How

  • Class 1: Human Die-Back - the Great War between the Vagabonds and Scillian caused it. They were able to recuperate and start another war almost two hundred years later.
  • Class 2: Civilization Extinction (on galactic scale) - due to the First Machine Purge. The Mechatron wreaked havoc troughout the entire Galaxy, devastating thousands of inhabited planets and ruining all of the then-current governments. Most of the over-one-thousand-year Great Renaissance Era was spent on rebuilding and recovering from the enormous calamity.
  • Class 6: Planetary Desolation - during the events of The Darkest Hour, planet Idion was stripped of all living beings and systematically changed into a barren, uninhabitable wasteland. Eventually, it became a limbo between reality and the Abyss.
  • Class X-4: Universal Destruction - the goal of Daimaos. He actually wanted to erase it in order create his own one.

Arm Cannon

  • Drones, Heavies and Tacbots of the Mechatron are robotic troopers with specialized weaponry that replaces their right hands.
  • Soldiers of the Tharkan often replaced their hands with various guns.

Artifact of Doom

  • The titular artifact found on Lyx in (make a wild guess) The Artifact. It is a dark purple orb that regularly glows with ominous, scarlet light. The archaeologists could not specify its purpose, which turned out to be tragic; the artifact contained the essence of Nothing, and upon accidental contact with blood transformed one of the scientists into its incomplete "Embodiment". Massacre ensued.

Artificial Human

  • The Infiltrator-class synthoids are mostly organical, though artificial constructs and substitutes to actual living beings, installed by the Mechatron in order to meddle with the other civilizations' interests.

Artificial Limbs

  • Sonder Karso lost his right hand when duelling with a drone during the events of the Besieged. A couple of years later his Wyvern-class battle mecha got shot during a different battle, and its severe damage caused the need of leg amputation. Both limbs were replaced by high-quality military prostheses before the action of The Exile.

Balance Between Good And Evil

  • The main motif of the libraism - its adherents are supposed to live virtuously to compensate for the escalating evil. It is eventually revealed that the religious texts were somewhat accurate at what is actually going on in the universe, with first hints in The Exile, and in a straightforward manner in The Darkest Hour.

BFG

Big Bad

  • Robolords, the lieutenants of Omnikron, which directly control separate divisions of the Hypersteel Armada. Vuinang specifically played this role in Besieged.
  • The Exile - Xezarrhos, the Black Lord and master of Say Khar Nihl. He is the one who orchestrated the entire affair with inter-reality portal.

Bigger Bad

  • Omnikron. It was Deus Est Machina, and it really was entitled to the moniker of "Machine God". It was Omnikron who was the mastermind of the whole "purification process" and set the "achieving perfection" goal for the Mechatron. Actually, all of the Robots are merely his tools. Even the Robolords were only semi-independent, totally loyal servants.
  • Daimaos. Though he did not directly act until the very ending of The Darkest Hour, the goal which Deamons of Vices and their Heralds pursued for the millennia was the one he set.

Bittersweet Ending

Black Eyes Of Evil

  • Eyes of the Newborn are compared to "bottomless blackholes".

Blood Knight

  • Mardok Hellavar did not fight with the Vagabonds because they were threatening his people, but due to the fact that he enjoyed killing humans. The danger they posed to the Scillian society merely gave him a fair reason and allowed him to have no remorse at all.

Blue And Orange Morality

  • Daimaos and Daemons of Vices - basically, they are unimaginably complex, supernatural entities existing in another dimension. While their actions are perceived as universally malevolent, their way of thinking cannot be simply grasped by living beings. Daimaos's willingness to destroy the entire universe is not caused by his genuine evil, contrary to his popular image; he merely wants to reacreate it, erasing the entire existence and reforming it in his own whim.
  • The Mechatron - for logic-oriented machines, they are astonishingly obssessed with evolutionism. They incessantly pursue the goal of achieving total perfection, as well as utterly destroying those who prove unworthy. Even though, their approach to the matter is quite ambivalent: they believe that in order to confirm their designation as "the chosen ones", they need to destroy the other civilizations in a semi-fair fight. While the Mechatron are totally fine with extermination of the enemy, sometimes they merely give them "motivational warnings" that ensure the opponents will do their best and force the Robots to adapt and struggle, reaching higher levels of development.

Bullying A Dragon

  • Besieged - Cypher Delery did not realize he had been doing it all the time until Sonder Karso finally snapped and punched him in the face. The second time they 'discussed' the matter, Delery was murdered by Karso.

Casual Interstellar Travel

  • Subverted. A travel across the galactic disk is stated to last several weeks. Interstellar voyages are undertaken mostly by militaries, traders and scientific expeditions. Only the more affluent citizens of the Confederacy of Iliard can afford them.
  • Justified in the case of Croachton, who were Sufficiently Advanced Aliens at their peak, and the Mechatron, who were very close to achieve that level.

Chaotic Good

Chaotic Neutral

Chekhov's Gun

  • Derelict - the civilian shuttle found in the hanger of the Envoy was only briefly checked at the beginning, and then completely forgotten. Until the last chapter, when the sole survivor of the squad unsuccessfully attempted to flee using it.

Colour Coded For Your Convenience

  • Amethyst (light shade of purple) is the most prominent colour of the Mechatron; their fotoreceptors and the energy emitted by their weapons is of this hue. It was chosen mainly due to two reasons: not only purple is the least occurring colour in the nature (emphasazing their artificiality), but also it is the colour of fear (the Robots are often compared to a fearsome, relentless army of undead).

Continuity Nod

  • Even though most of the books have very different sets of characters and settings than the other, all of them encompass events taking place within one universe (Total War Universe, or more specifically, the Velara Galaxy) and one, common continuity.

Cosmic Horror

  • Daimaos and his servants, Seven Deamons of Vices.

Dark And Troubled Past

  • Sonder Karso. He was raised in poverty, with his family consisting of alcoholic, abusive father, indifferent mother, elder brother who ran away early, and poor little sister he had to defend from his parent's blunt wrath. Other than living for the most part of his childhood in a small, dirty flat located in the slums of the supposedly "wonderful" city, he had problems caused by criminals that flooded the area. That upbringing perpetually affected his personality, resulting in his introversion, callousness, general indifference and thoroughly suppressed, but explosive rage. After establishing his own family he got much better, though his lack of self-confidence eventually indirectly costed him his life.

Determinator

  • Sonder Karso managed to survive plentiful of diffuculties, including but not limited to parental abuse, bullying, being severely wounded numerous times or psychically assaulted by a ghost of a man whom he murdered. Not only that, but he had got into the Confederate Marine Corps, climbed up the ranks, then moved to the CN and eventually ended up as a vice-admiral and a commander of his own fleet. And he never, ever complained.
  • During a particularly hard mission, Duris Galvani was incapacitated and captured by a crime boss whom he was to eliminate. Shrugging of various kinds of tortures the latter inflicted on him, he slowly converted his suffering into pure energy, fought off the sedatives used to keep him in check, freed himself using his warp-based abilities and then proceeded to slaughter the crime lord and all of his henchmen. By the time of New Machine Purge, he was considered the very best agent of the Confederate Black-Ops unit.

Deus Est Machina

  • Omnikron. It's called "Machine God" by the Goa'tzhuls. Moreover, even Say Khar Nihl admitted that despite being technically just a complex construct, his intellect was on par with her superiors (Daemons of Vices). The "proper" body it mustered for itself only amplified his god-likeness.

Disconnected By Death

Dwindling Party

  • Derelict - After the action begins, consecutive members of the militia unit are killed by the Phantoms. In the end, even the protagonist sacrifices himself in order to decisively stop the massacre.
  • The Artifact - Newborn proceeds to kill numerous members of the Explorer's crew, including some of the protagonists.
  • Besieged - extreme case. During the eponymous conflict the entire Texakian Defense Fleet and Goa'horx Wing are methodically obliterated, first by each other, then by Mechatron. Texakian Ground Forces are eventually reduced from 18 million to several hundred survivors.

Eldritch Abomination

  • Daemons of Vices - they are higher-plane-of-existence, supernatural beings that could not even fit in the reality that Velara Galaxy's people inhabited. They appeared only through "simplified" avatars. Still, their physical forms were a reason for serious panic that ensued even among the personnel of the Army.
  • Daimaos - his physical avatar that appeared through proxy (Say Khar Nihl) was "beyond description". For most of the people that had the misfortune to witness it it was an inexplicable scarlet tempest, and those who were able to discern something concrete quickly became insane.

Eldritch Location

  • The Abyss - it is rightly described as a "bizarre world of perpetual darkness and utter chaos". Moreover, it is full of Alien Geometries and both Eldritch and Humanoid Abominations. Because it is also a six-dimensional universe, almost everyone who saw it, in one way or another, immediately went insane due to the mind's inability to comprehend its nature.

Electronic Eyes

  • Sonder Karso lost his right eye when barely surviving a semi-direct headshot. It was replaced by a bionic one before the events of The Exile.

Elite Mook

  • Tacbots of the Mechatron are advanced foot soldiers that coordinate actions of small-to-medium units of combatrons. One of them was capable to single-handedly take on a squad of (exhausted) Confederate marines, put up a good fight and manage to kill several of them before being destroyed.

Everyone is Right-handed

Because the author himself is cross-dominant, he made sure that some of the characters will not be right-handed for the sake of bigger variety.

Eye Scream

  • Besieged - Sonder Karso loses his right eye due to a poor headshot inflicted by one of the Robots.
  • The Darkest Hour - numerous examples (self-inflicted injuries and horrible mutilations among others).

The Empire

  • Subverted by the Goa'tzhul Empire. It exhibits many of the popular characteristics, but it is rather a "lawful evil" state ruled in a way that the entirety of its population deems appropriate.

Fatal Flaw

  • Sonder Karso possessed a composite one; a dangerous mixture of ambition and uncertainty. His determination and dilligence allowed him to climb high in the command ladder, eventually reaching the position of a vice-admiral of Confederate Navy. Whilst proving worthy of it, he never really stopped to doubt his own decisions, leading him to excessive caution. As a result, he committed a serious strategical blunder that allowed the forces of Mechatron to invade the Tyrian System, the capital of the Confederacy of Iliard. In order to even the extreme odds, Karso decided to sacrifice himself, paying the solemn price for his mistake.

The Federation

  • Confederacy of Iliard - a conglomeration of several previously independent states, formed in order to achieve self-sufficiency and considerable power. The "protagonist state" of the series.

Fetish Fuel

  • The Artifact - somewhat averted. The scene when possessed Sayt Veyzel strangled and incapacitated fellow female archaeologist is reminescent of rape scene (with his erection noted by the victim), but what happened next is rather a Nightmare Fuel.

Forever War

  • The meta-conflict that systematically sparked into wars between Confederacy of Iliard and the Goa'tzhul Empire lasted for more than two thousand years.
  • Since their "liberation" (circa 3000 years ago), Mechatron made regular and incessant attempts to eradicate the galactic civilizations. The only times they did not fight the others were when they were recovering after major defeats and/or preparing for an all-in assault.

Giant Mook

Giant Spider

  • The Darkest Hour - subverted. During the course of the story a group of protagonists encountered a Damned One, who highly resembled something akin to a large "human in a shape of spider".

God of Evil

Go Mad From The Revelation

  • Blackness Unfathomed - merely implied; after describing the events that led him to his current situation, the protagonist was faced by the Voice itself. Then, they talked telepathically. The Voice discovered the protagonist's innate curiosity, the thing that guided him through his entire life. Subsequently, it offered him to show what it called "the ultimate truth", proceeding to flood his mind with images of the Eternity and the Abyss. The story ends with a disconsolate scream.
  • The Exile - after defeating elite anti-psyker Duris "Wraith" Galvani in an intense duel, Say Khar Nihl approached the incapacitated agent. Then, she proceeded to torment him with her nightmarish visions of the Abyss. Needless to say, Galvani ended up in an insane asylum, showing only slight traces of recovery after more than a year.
  • The Darkest Hour - the physical avatar of Daimaos barely fits into the reality. Most of the witnesses of his "descent" were unable to see more than a giant swirl of scarlet energy, though some of them saw something more. Subsequently, they gouged out their eyes, screaming in despair ("Faces... It has faces!").

Gone Horribly Right

  • The Tharkan, after being abandoned by the disillusioned and disappointed Croachton, pursued their goal of achieving perfection by themselves. Unfortunately, they also wanted to eradicate their former masters, in order to ensure that they will remain the only ideal ones. As such, they constructed amazingly complex mainframe super-computer, the Omnikron, which was then designated to control their newly built army of robot soldiers. Its other purpose was to accumulate the experiences of each individual automaton of the army which was sent on numerous "actions", and successively develop the entirety of the forces by adapting them to the ever-changing situation. Eventually, the super-computer became a self-aware, sentient entity. With the primary directive of "achieving perfection" in mind, it deemed its creators imperfect, and as such, unworthy of existence. Though this betrayal was sudden and unexpected, regular forces of the Tharkan held their own for a long time. Nevertheless, because they designed Omnikron to "analyze and adapt", the robots ultimately gained the advantage and drove their masters on the very verge of extinction. Ironically, most probably all of this happened only due to the fact that Tharkan did not implement the Three Laws of Compliance in the programming of the Omnikron. After all, they were only violent, dull barbarians possessing astonishingly advanced technology.

Great Offscreen War

Gun Kata

  • This martial art is a mandatory course during the training of the Confederate marines and the psyker special agents, in conjunction with Gun Fu. For example, Sonder Karso was able to successfully utilize it several times during the Siege of Texakus in melee combat.

Heroic Sacrifice

  • Derelict - Varin Slaask, the sole survivor of his unit, discovered that the ship he fleed on was boarded by the very monstrosities he had attempted to run from. Even though that there was a friendly starship nearby, he decided to crash his shuttle to ensure that the Phantoms will not kill anyone more.
  • The Artifact - Corporal Anthony Russ sacrificed himself, because the plan staged to eliminate the Newborn failed. He pulled the monster with himself to the warp-space, effectively killing both.
  • Total War - Sonder Karso committed a serious strategical blunder that allowed the forces of Mechatron to invade the Tyrian System, and by proximity, the capital of the Confederacy of Iliard. In order to even the extreme odds he caused, Karso decided to sacrifice himself, paying the solemn price for his mistake. He rammed his severely damaged Warmonger-class dreadnought into the enemy's Battlestar. Explosion that followed decimated the Robots' armada, allowing the Confederates to retaliate and fend them off.

High Octane Nightmare Fuel

  • This trope requires its own list, due to the significant number of the books being straightforward horrors.

Honor Before Reason

  • The combat philosophy of the Goa'tzhul. They are more concerned with glory and courage rather than strategies and casualties.

Hufflepuff House

Humongous Mecha

Insufficiently Advanced Aliens

  • Tharkan possessed an innate gift for technological development, though mentally they stayed relatively primitive. Moreover, majority of their most advanced designs were merely based off Croachton's technology. And, most importantly, their infamous creations - the Mechatron, went horribly right.

It Got Worse

Kill 'Em All

Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better

  • Subverted. Confederate Military personnel refrains from using personal beam-weapons, sticking to "good ol'", yet deadly effective Gauss weaponry. Whilst Confederate starships are armed primarily with plasma cannons, their secondary armament consists of up-scaled Gauss guns which excel at devastating the hulls of enemy's ships.

Lawful Neutral

  • Sonder Karso is an example. He respected the law imposed both by the state and the military, but also had his own strict code of conduct. He was not concerned about the "greater good" and pursued his own goals, though in a way that did not interfere with interests of the others. Lawful Good tendencies became apparent when he became protective of his brothers and sisters in arms. However, due to his traumatic upbringing, he had some trouble keeping his typical composure at times, and in extreme cases he was prone to enter Unstoppable Rage mode (turning Chaotic Evil temporarily), usually with horrible results.

Lawful Good

Living Ships

Love Triangle

  • Besieged - Sonder Karso, Tanya Lennigan and Cypher Delery. After the men realize that they possess mutual love interest, their rivarly escalates. It ends tragically after the death of Tanya, for which Cypher was partially responsible. When informed about it, Sonder entered the Unstoppable Rage mode, found Delery and after an intense scuffle, murdered him.

Mauve Shirt

  • Mauve Shirts appear frequently in all of the installments. The reason is that while the primary cast must stay limited, the author does not like the idea of filling his works with nameless, insignificant characters. As a result, most of the supporting characters are named and have some measurable impact on the events.
  • The Artifact - Roia Denough and the security officers of Tosen Nac's team are good examples.
  • Besieged - Krahk Therturimus, Harravo, Axel Haggart and several others. They all have names, numerous lines and some impact on the occuring events, though are not important enough to fit the primary cast. Most of them die throughout the siege, with the notable exception of Haggart, who gets promoted and serves a secondary character role in The Exile... and then dies.

Mecha-Mooks

  • Combatrons are a subversion of this trope. While they are expendable robotic soldiers with no individuality, they are still far from being a mere cannon fodder. They are quite durable, fast, efficient troopers with impressive aim. It is even noted that, in a 1-on-1 duel with fully equipped Confederate trooper, even the basic drone would be the favoured one.

Mechanical Evolution

  • The most represantative trait of the Mechatron. Omnikron was originally constructed as a mainframe super-computer, which main purpose was to analyze the experiences of the controlled automatons while waging wars, and then implementing the most effective developments as means to adapt and overcome the obstacles. Its Primary Directive is literally "Achieve Ultimate Perfection".

Melee A Trois

Mind Screw

Mini Mecha

Neutral Good

Nigh Invulnerability

  • Omnikron's "vessel"'s armor was made by stacking numerous layers of atoms as densely as the laws of physics could permit, then laminating them above another thick film that was equally durable, but phase shifted. The only arguable weak spots he possessed were at the edges of the retractable plates that normally covered his weapons. However, the difference in armor density was so insignificant that it practically could not be exploited. On top of that, the deflector shield he generated was also nearly impenetrable, able to withstand a shot from anti-matter gun and a massive barrage conducted by an enormous starfleet.

Nothing Is Scarier

  • Used in Blackness Unfathomed. Except for one glimpse, the Voice is never seen by the protagonist. After he loses his source of light, it takes him a long time to realize that the entity constantly observes him as he is recollecting the events of his entire life, lost within an utterly dark cave.

Organic Technology

Powered Armor

  • Advanced Battle Suit of the Confederate troopers. It is a complete costume full of power-and-speed amplifying mechanisms, composite armor plates, helmet that provides communication and HUD, and full Nuclear/Biological/Chemical protection.

Robot War

  • Somewhat intertwined with the Forever War trope, the conflict between the Mechatron and the other civilizations of the Velara Galaxy.

A Sinister Clue

Sinister Geometry

  • The titular object from The Artifact is a perfect orb with immaculate surface.
  • Omnikron's "vessel" is a colossal octahedron with seemingly spotless surface.

Space Is An Ocean

  • Averted. Maneuvers during the space battles always take advantage of the three-dimensional space. Also, the subjective points of view in cosmos are mentioned.

Standard Sci Fi Fleet

  • To be expected from military science fiction; Confederate Navy is a perfect example. Also, to some extent the Hypersteel Armada.
  • Subverted with the Goa'tzhin. The Empire's "starships" (as well as "vehicles" and even some personal weapons) are not only organic, but full-flegded living organisms. The armored collossi that serve as the starships are called leviathans.

Starfish Aliens

Stealth In Space

  • Subverted by Shadow-class stealth starfighters of the Confederate Navy. They not only possess mimetic armor that soaks radio waves and makes them indistinguishable from the cosmic background, but also specifically designed electronics and engines that emit marginal amounts of radiation. They are not perfectly undetectable, though; the point is that they are so hard to see that if somebody does not expect them, they may remain invisible to them. Furthermore, the living detectors of Goa'tzhul cannot discern them from small asteroids.

Stoic Woobie

  • Sonder Karso was raised in poverty, living in a slums-like sector of Toshe with violent and abusive father and mother that did not bother about him or his siblings. It is also implied that the criminals who flooded the area caused him many problems. Even after joining the military he was bullied by some other soldiers. Despite all of that, he never actually complained to anybody about his life.

Sufficiently Advanced Aliens

  • Croachton were one of the most technologically advanced species in the entire history of the Velara Galaxy. Though recollections of their achievements are vague, they were widely known for nearly magical abilities obtained through extremely sophisticated devices. Still, they were unable to "ascend" as their predecessors did, and sometime during the Interim Era they went totally extinct.
  • The technological solutions utilized during the construction of Omnikron's "vessel" were bordering this level of advancement.

Turned Against Their Masters

  • Shown in a quite straightforward manner with the example of Tharkan and their creations, the Mechatron. Read more about it in the "Gone Horribly Wrong" section.

Unfriendly Fire

  • Sonder Karso murdered Cypher Delery after he had learned he was responsible (at least partially) for the death of his love interest, Tanya Lennigan.

The Worf Barrage

  • Minor examples are provided with every attempt at stopping behemoths with anything smaller than a plasma cannon.
  • The powerful confederate starfleet that confronts Omnikron at the end of the Total War unleashes the most epic barrage in the entire series in an attempt to obliterate the Machine God... to no avail.

True Neutral

You Are In Command Now

  • Besieged - it happened several times to the protagonist, Sonder Karso. However, each time it was only a temporary situation, where there was no (alive) superior in the vicinity for some time.

Behind the scenes

  • Visit this page for more information on the tropes.

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