PlayStation Japanese cover art
It tells the story of the (player named) son of Teo McDohl, general of the Scarlet Moon Empire and his exile from the Empire and rise to leader of the Toran Liberation Army aiming to overthrow the government.
As the first game in the series, Suikoden established many "series standards" many of which are still in use today. The concept of the 108 Stars of Destiny, and the ability to recruit them, in order to increase your forces and grow your base, has been in use in every mainstream Suikoden game to date, missing from only Suikoden Tactics and Gensosuikogaiden Volume 1 and Gensosuikogaiden Volume 2.
Suikoden's six-person party, arranged in two rows (front and back), which each character having an optimal range (Short, Medium or Long) was retained through Suikoden II and Suikoden III, was restored for Suikoden V and appeared in truncated form in Suikoden Tierkreis.
The use of personalised weapons for each character, sharpened by blacksmiths, rather than the traditional purchasing of new weapons, made it through all main Suikoden games, as well as Suikoden Tactics, until Suikoden Tierkreis dropped the concept. Equipping runes to grant magical powers as well as the use of "spell levels", rather than traditional MP, also lasted throughout the series until Suikoden Tierkreis moved to the more traditional MP system.
The first Suikoden game also introduced to the series war battles, as well as one-on-one duels. Again, both these ideas would be used in every main game of the series until 2009's Suikoden Tierkreis removed these regular parts of the series.
The game told the story of the hero, the son of Teo McDohl, one of the Great Generals of the Scarlet Moon Empire. The hero, through his friend Ted, comes into possession of the Rune of Life and Death, one of 27 True Runes that governs various aspects of the world. The Rune, ruthlessly hunted for by corrupt officials within the Empire and their manipulators, forces the hero and his companions to flee the capital city of Gregminster.
Eventually, the hero finds his way to a rebel organisation where he is sheltered, although he is only convinced of the need to struggle against the Empire, when the hideout is attacked and sacked by Imperial forces. Recruiting the help of Mathiu Silverberg, a former Imperial strategist, McDohl's Liberation Army starts off as a small force working to unite rebel factions throughout Scarlet Moon before bringing down the Empire itself. Following the war, which was filled with much loss of life and many good people on both sides, the hero, still bearing the Rune of Life and Death, leaves the nation.