An Idiot’s guide to FFXIV lore
Recently it came to my attention that I had not even really sat down with Final Fantasy like I have done with WoW and mapped out along a timeline all the various things which compose key events in the story, so I figured I’d put it together in one brief short of story here for you all!
Warning: The following contains spoilers for virtually all Final Fantasy XIV’s Lore and Main Scenario Quest, if you are not interested, please turn back now, and do not look back!
A brief history of everythingIn the beginning there were a group of incredibly powerful beings known as Ancients who lived on what can be referred to as “the Source”. Their civilization lived in peace, and they explored numerous facets of working with Aether and exploring the endless possibilities of art related to the manipulation of this substance.
Their society was ruled by something known as the Convocation of fourteen in which senior members of Ancient society would help in the overall management of instrumental matters. Members of this convocation were given titles to reflect their key job roles in the convocation. Titles included.
- Lahabrea (The Speaker)
- Elidibus (The Emissary)
- Azem (The Traveler)
Concerned at the threat that Zodiark could pose to the future of Ancient society, another group of Ancients decided it would be best to summon a second primal to keep him in check (Read: Keep him from eating more ancients EG Lock him up). This primal would come to be known as Hydaelyn. After this, at some point a fight broke out between Zodiark and Hydaelyn. The result was not only Zodiark’s defeat but also causing “The source” to be shattered across 14 different shards which act as reflections of the original.
The world which the game takes place in is referred to as “The source” with other shards being called things like “The First”.
There be dragons.In another part of space known as the dragonstar, a dragon known as Midgardsormr was being chased across the heaven by a devilish little superweapon known as Omega. This apparently occurred because of a war between the dragonstar and a yet unnamed opponent. Though Midgardsormr could keep Omega at bay, he was keenly aware this his opponent’s ability to regenerate would eventually result in defeat.
Fleeing the dragonstar with the last seven eggs he had, Midgardsormr would eventually come across the source (or as it was now being called “Hydaelyn”). Striking up a deal with Hydaelyn, he and his children would hide on this world and restart the dragon population there. This “First Brood” included
The Empire of AllagIt is important to note that there were “calamities” (we’ll get to those here in a second) prior to the Allagan empire; however, this is the first real ‘Empire’. During this time members of the Ascian convocation were attempting to restore the source after it had been shattered. To do so they needed to create some sort of event which would break down the walls between worlds. It is implied that prior to the Allagan empire they had been successful in this three times, managing to rejoin the Second, Fifth, and Twelfth shards
To attempt to better achieve their goals they began interfering in the empires that were building themselves on the source. One such empire was the empire of Allag under this influence had managed to spread across the whole of the source in terms of power. This empire also managed to master the art of binding and funneling energy from primals as well as bioweapons, the ability to traverse space, and more.
It is likely that a key source of the empire's technological advancement was in thanks to the discovery of the weapon "Omega" which had followed Midgardsormr to the world and crashed there in a not so graceful manner allowing reverse engineering.
Under a powerful emperor named “Xande” they were able to achieve great things; however, upon his death the empire stagnated somewhat and resulted in an Allagan scientest “Amon”, using Allag’s nearly endless pool of resources and knowledge to resurrect Xande.
Shortly after his resurrection, in a bid to finish his “plan” and perhaps in a streak of exestintial dread to conquer the whole of the source (and or wipe out most of existence), Xande began moving pieces into place so he could shatter the walls between reality and the “World of Darkness”. As best we can tell, the world of Darkness may be a failed ascian experiment upon the thirteenth to attempt a calamity.
The result was turning the worlds inhabitants into aether starved voidsent who craved that mineral. Xande wished to let this in as some kind of ultimate weapon. To sure up the power needed the Elder Primal Bahamut (Not to be confused with the actual dragon) was shoved into a giant power sucking pokeball known as Dalamud (yeah that comes up again) and placed above the Crystal Tower.
However, as they always do, things went south and the whole experiment backfired, and a series of earthquakes wiped out the Allagan’s and their empire.
Skipping ahead a bit – The war of the MagiFollowing the fall of the Allagan empire, three powerful city states would eventually rise from the ashes (also do not mind another calamity somewhere in between which resulted in the sixth shard rejoining the source). These city states Nym, Mhach, and Amdapor were relatively powerful empires, though not near the power achieved by the Allagans.
Well, they got to fighting as one was want to do, the mages of Mhach specializing in void magic first snuck a galley into the sea faring nation of Nym. The galley contained a voidsent who spread a plague amongst its people that would become known as the “Green Death”. This plague would transform the inhabitants into tonberries (real short end of the stick if you will).
To counteract Mhach’s nonsense the mages of Amdapor began developing powerful white magics to counteract the black magic of Mhach, the culmination of which was the containment of a particularly problematic voidsent summoned by Mhach (Diabolos). But as with all things this helps illustrate a story of “All things in moderation”. The inane amounts of white magic used to pull off this little trick apparently angered the elementals, namely Oha-Sok. Though it is entirely possible Oha-Sok simply took credit for this as a means of keeping the future residents in check
As a result, a massive flood came in to wipe out... well, everything. To save their civilization, the people of Mhach built a “void ark” to ferry them and their people to the floating city of Dun Scaith. Problematically when you attempt to power your escape boat on powerful void sent like Scathach you may run into problems when she gets free. So to keep her and a host of other voidsent from getting free the mages aboard the void arc sacrificed themselves.
Thus, the inhabitants of Mhach never made it to their intended destination. Of course, this being a calamity, also resulted in the Tenth shard rejoining the source.
A tale of… vore?So, after the mess that was the great flood, the beginnings of most of the major empires today would start. In the north a group of Elezen would settle in a land called Coerthas and begin the creation of an empire that would later be known as “Ishgard”. There they found some dragons and as the wont of everyone involved some fighting started.
Luckily for lovers of peace however when a Dragon and an Elezen love each other very much, sometimes the dragon eats the Elezen so their souls can fuse. Apparently, this delectable tale of love inspired a truce amongst the land.
Sadly, dragon’s eyes are filled with everyone’s favorite power source, aether, and a king of the elezen people named Thordan figured this out. So, they snuck up on one of the first brood, Ratatoskr, and ate her eyes. This in turn irritated one of Ratatoskr’s siblings, Nidhogg. And thus, a tale of fighting began that would become known as the Dragonsong War.
Do not ask the citizens of Ishgard about this though. See when the King and his men attacked Ratatoskr, not many of them lived to tell the tale. And so those that returned would go on to form the four great houses of Ishgard and gave a SLIGHTLY different retelling of how events unfolded.
Setting the stage.You remember Dalamud right? That pokeball that the Allagan empire jammed above the Crystal Tower to act as a power source to bring in the Void Cloud? Yes, well there is a new empire on the block, and they call themselves the Garleans. Unlike the average inhabitant of the world, the Garleans cannot use magic and so instead they have begun to make use of a combination of magic and technology handily referred to as “Magitek”.
The Garleans had been on a march across the lands under the influence of one Solus Zos Galvus, or as he is better known Emet-Selch’s newest vessel. They would go on to conquer the lands of Southern Othard and Ilsebard as well as Doma.
Meanwhile on the continent of Eorzea there were 5 primary city states in the ruins of Nym and Ampador which in turn had been sitting on the ruins of Allag themselves. These city states were
- Ala Mhigo
- Limsa Lominsa
Taking advantage of the unpopular king, the Garleans managed to incite a fair bit of unrest and captured the city state, though a primal apparently stopped them from going much further. Realizing that to take over the land they would need to hold the basic nexus of atherial energy, the Garleans attempted to assault Mor Dhona.
Problematically for the Garleans, no one tipped them off that this is where Midgarsormr happened to be snoozing at the time, and their massive fleet of airships quickly found itself embattled with the great Wrym. The resulting battle killed the great Wyrm and resulted in a permanent contamination of Mor Dhona.
Operation MeteorThe year is after colony 195… wait no, wrong script.
Now believing that Eorzea was too much of a pain to conquer the Garleans instead opted to simply drop what they thought was a moon on it (Dalamud). As one might imagine it was in fact no moon, but a shell around an elder primal who was none to happy when the shell cracked. Released from its thousands of years stuck serving as a battery it unleashed unholy hellfire upon the lands below in what would soon become known as the Seventh Calamity (Note: this caused the 7th shard to rejoin with the first, and for the Ascians there was much rejoicing).
The great primal was stopped thanks to the work of a Sharlayan fellow by the name of Louisoix who was able to make use of the cloud of aether and the prayers of the people in order to transform himself into Phoenix taking down Bahamut and plummeting the both of them into the core of the planet.
The damage caused by this was rather hard to grasp. Ishgard and all Coerthas were plunged into a near eternal winter and the Dravanian Horde (those angry dragons) began taking out outpost and colonies along the border. It also resulted in dredging up quite several sites that had previously been buried. This included the Crystal Tower of the Allagan empire, the Wanderer’s Palace from the City of Nym, and the Carteneau flats that served as the resting place for Omega.
And that is where we come in!5 Years after the fall of Dalamud, you, the player character step onto the scene. Possessing an ability called the echo, which is strongly tied to Hydalyn and seeing a meteor storm, the hero of the story quickly gets swept up in the world’s internal politics. Recruited by a group known as the Scions of the Seventh dawn, you will go on to unlock the mysteries of the world and use the echo to help take down some of the worlds more problematic opponents.
Your quest would go on to restore the relationship between the isolated Ishgard and the other city states. You help to quell their war with the dragons revealing to both sides what had really happened all those years ago. Then you go on to help cement rebellion in Doma and Ala Migho to force the empire to fight on two fronts, effectively turning the tide of the war in the favor of the various resistance groups.
At each turn (so far) this has been against the interference of the ascians who’s goal is to reunite the world (which would subsequently result in the death of anything NOT ascian).
Aether and you – how to sleep through church.Tl;dr edition – this is the source of magic / mana / whatever you want to call it. Much like the force it weaves its way through everything and if you find yourself completely drained of it you’ll probably die, but if you get too much of it, you’ll find yourself rather poisoned.
It comes in six primary flavors Ice, Water, Wind, Lightning, Fire, and Earth and finds itself drawn towards either “Astral” or “Umbral”. Aether tends to be released from the body upon death and the more violent the death the more Aether released. It will then drift along until it pools up into crystals.
This has interwoven itself into the religious beliefs of the peoples of Hydaelyn resulting in a set of deities being paired with each of the 6 aspects (EG Halone and Menphina are tied to ice). In addition, each of the cards drawn by astrologians also tie back to the elements and each represent a “heaven” created by the twelve gods. (EG “The Balance which is tied to Azeyma which is in turn tied to fire / the sun).
They are tied in the following.
- The Bole (Earth)
- The Balance (Fire)
- The Spire (Lightning)
- The Arrow (Wind)
- The Ewer (Water)
- The Spear (Ice)
According to legend the Twelve were the original residents of Eorzea and the moogles served as their servents until the various wandering tribes (The Elezen, Miqo’te, Lalafell, Roegadyn, and Hyur).
Primals, and how to summon them.
Primals, simply put, are the hopes and dreams of a group made manifest through massive amounts of Aether. When there is enough Aether in a given point and enough sapient beings putting their hopes, dreams, angers, or any variety of strong emotions into that point a Primal can be summoned. Throughout the first expansion this was demonstrated by the beast tribes, who when pressed, would summon their primals to defend themselves.
It was later expanded to show that virtually anyone who put enough thought into the matter could accomplish the same. Be it Ysayle taking on the role of Shiva or the knights of the Holy See taking on the role of Thordan and his knights.
Finally in the start of Stormblood we see someone purposely go out of their way to combine a huge amount of aether with a lot of amped up emotions to summon Shinryu. These beings are NOT the originals upon which they are based, but rather simply the summoners interpretation of those beings.
For example, Bahamut (the Primal) was Tiamat’s interpretation of Bahamut after the real Bahamut had been slain with the Allagan forces were pushing into the final unconquered land of Meracydia. Distraught by the loss Tiamat as tricked by the Asicans into summoning this interpretation.
To ensure the interpretation of Bahamut always remained fueled with that anger and wrath Dalamud was filled with dragons that were kept constantly tormented so their thoughts and prayers might fuel the primal further.
Who, what, when, where why?
- Aldenard (Eorzea) – The continent the player character is likely most familiar with. Based on all lore present there are not in fact any native species with anything living there having migrated to the land at some point.
- Technically Eorzea encompasses the islands surrounding Aldenard in addition to the continent itself.
- Othard – In the game it is simply referred to as “The far east” this is home to the city state of Doma and kingdom of Dalmasca as well as being the home to the Au Ra and Viera
- Broken up into a North and South, Northern Othard is where the majority of gameplay takes place while Southern Othard is said to be the location of Dalmasca, etc.
- Ilsabard – “The Near East” is home to the island of Thavnair as well as being the home of Garlemald, the home of the Garlean empire. This happens to be the home of the Lalafell, Garleans, and Hrothgar
- Meracydia – Little is known beyond the fact that this is where the Allagan empire ran into the likes of Bahamut and that to this day not many can get close without getting attacked. The game seems to suggest this MAY be the ancestral homeland of the Elezen.
- "The new world" - No seriously that's its name and we know virtually nothing about it, save that apparently it's the home of Blue Mages and to the west of Eorzia.
The Major Players
- The Garlean Empire – An empire suffering from a case of the facisms where there is a “Pureblood” line (Garleans). They are easy to spot with that weird third eye on their forehead and they cannot cast magic. They will often take others into their ranks to work as slaves of the empire or battlefield fodder.
- Dalmasca – A kingdom that little is known about. With a capital located in Rabanastre most of the citizens have abandoned the area after several failed revolts. Situated in the Southern Part of Othard
- Doma – The home of the ninja and geomancer, Doma was a city state born along the banks of a river in Yanxia known for fertile farmlands and artistic endeavours. Conquered by the Garleans it was one of the primary locations for Stormblood and is one of the kingdoms which the player character will inspire into rebellion.
- Limsa Lominsa – Someone plowed a ship into an island off the coast of Aldenard called Vylbrand by a group of Roegadyn refugees from a land called Aerslaent. Well known for piracy it is only recently that the act has died down in favor of trying to make peace with the other city states. The Miqo’te Seekers of the Sun and Midlander Hyur who came to dwell in the city state likely owe their ancestry to forced labor aboard pirate ships in years past.
- The Kobold beast tribes predate the city state by some margin and there is a second beast tribe, the Sahagin, who have claimed a place in western La Noscea.
- Home to the Grand Company “The Maelstrom”
- Gridania – After the royal screw up that was Amdapor, the elementals of the forest of the black shroud laid down some heavy ground rules for anyone looking to move in. Gridania’s history begins with a subterranean agreement between Hyur and Elezen who migrated from the caverns to what is today Gridania.
- The Ixal originally laid claim to the forest before the elementals sent them an eviction notice. As such they spend a fair amount of time trying to reclaim what is theirs
- Not every elezen wanted to leave the nice subterranean city state and so they are now known as the duskwight. There also appears to be clans of Miqo’te known as the Keeprs of the moon who simply lived the in the black shroud as well. Both face discrimination from the Wildwood Elezen (those who left the caves) and Hyur who went on to form Gridania.
- Home to the Grand Company “The Twin Adders”
- Ul’Dah – Originally starting as a nation called Belah’dia, there were two city states which composed the nation. They got into a bit of a tuff known as the War of the sisters. With a bit of alchemy one of the city states had its entire army turned into undead, the other (and victorious city state) was Ul’dah. The city state has a series of Sultinates and dynasties with a powerful mercantile guild known as the syndicate generally running the politics behind the scenes.
- Home to the Grand Company “The Immortal Flames”
- Also, home to a beast tribe known as the Amalj’aa despite the best efforts of said grand company.
- Population has shifted with a great many of Ala Mhigo’s refugees making their way there.
- Ishgard – A highly religious land which found itself embroiled in the Dragonsong war and trapped in a rather eternal winter thanks to the effects of the 7th Umbral Calamity. The population is almost entirely comprised of Ishgardian Elezen.
- Ala Mhigo – Never well known for its farming, the lands of Ala Mhigo were always fairly resource starved, leading to fairly constant fighting amongst the populace until the city state was united under one Anshelm Cotter. Most well-known for its attack on the other five city states under King Manfred and then subsequent poor time under king Theodoric.
- Home to the Ananta and Qiqirn beast tribes
- Population is primarily Highlander Hyur, with a small number of Seeker of the Sun Miqo’te and Hellsguard Roegadyn.
- Sharlayann – The nerds of the Final Fantasy world and adopting a prime directive even the Federation would be jealous of, the Sharlayan’s live in a chain of islands north of Eorzea. They also created a small city state in Dravania, though they abandoned it when Ala Mhigo fell. Notable inhabitants include basically everyone the player character is involved with.
- Hingashi – A city state which sits on an archipelago east of Othard, it has long since declared its neutrality in the war with the garleans and maintains a strict policy of isolation. Only a single port has remained open, Kugane, to allow for foreign trade.
- Odd in that apparently there aren’t many Allagan artifacts in the area.
- Radz-At-han – Another neutral city state on the island of Thavnair that is infamous for alchemy in the modern sense. It acts as a hub of trade between Eorzea, Garlemald, and Hingashi.
- Bozja – Home of the Hrothgar, Bozja has been around since the Allagan empire, and though the 4th umbral calamity most certainly put an end to the kingdom, the city state has largely stuck around as a peaceful neighbor. It would go on to be conquered by the Garlean Military.
- The city itself was vaporized in the lead up to operation meteor in which the garleans were experimenting with tampering with Dalamud which caused a massive energy release which destroyed the city.
The “Jobs”.Jobs in the game seem to be passed through little stones called “Job Crystals” which are basically aetherical collections of the memories of those who did the job before you. Some of these job crystals are easier to get a hold of then others. For instance, a Paladin’s job crystal would normally only be handed out to those who were sworn to protect the Sultana while a Bard’s job crystal would likely be handed out by the order of the twin adders to help with the somewhat lost art of “Battlesongs”
Some Jobs are even considered illegal including the white and black mages because of what happened with Amdapor and Mhach. Others likely simply do not exist anymore or if they do it is it is severely limited numbers. Most of the jobs, save perhaps machinist, are going to have member numbers in the low hundreds at absolute best and perhaps only 1 to 5 at worst.
The prerequisite to the jobs (Mauraders / etc) are likely common place however and so they would not be as odd to stumble across.