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Sword or Sorcery . . . or Both?

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Sword or Sorcery . . . or Both?

Post by Celestria on Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:20 pm

Note: This guide was originally posted on another Final Fantasy Role Playing Site, so some of the details are pertinent only to that site. The document as a whole, though, is very helpful to players in general, or so I believe.

Sword or Sorcery . . . or Both?
A Guide to Character Classes in Final Fantasy


Choosing the right classes for your character in Final Fantasy isn't the easiest thing in the world to do. Some would say that the Class choice determines only Class Ability and whether or not there is some tangible creation benefit (such as for Summoner or Beastmaster as a Main or any Magic-dominant class). Very few weapons are actually limited by class and really there is little enforcement of those limits in the name of creativity.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for creativity. I breathe the stuff. But let's have a little logic here. A Knight picking up the same sword that a Summoner does is going to have an advantage when using it. The Knight is going to strike harder, more accurately (sort of), and possibly more quickly.

The Summoner, on the other hand, is going to be exceptionally skilled with that sword when compared to, say, a Black Mage.

The point being that a character's initial strength values, also called Stats, are largely determined by a mix of Class and Race. I'll likely deal with Race in a later Guide. For now let's look at Class.

What exactly is Character Class anyway?

The origins of Character Classes in Final Fantasy goes all the way back to the very first Final Fantasy game, where there were a total of six classes. Warrior, Thief, Monk, White Mage, Black Mage, and Red Mage. After a certain point those six classes could evolve into a higher strength version of themselves, a process called "Prestige Classing", Knight, Ninja, Master, White Wizard, Black Wizard, and Red Wizard.

Warrior/Knight could wield the strongest weapons and wear the strongest armor. Thief/Ninja was the fastest and had good strength of arm, though did not get magic until he prestiged, and then it was a limited number of Black Magic spells. Monk was solid weaponry, but specific weaponry and in my use of his class he seemed to be, as we used to describe a certain class in another system, "made of papier-mache". White Mage had the healing and restorative spells along with a few beneficial status spells (called Buffs) as well as the highest HP values other than the Warrior (and I'm *not* kidding about that) and some solid melee damage capability, at least early on. The Black Mage had the Elemental Attack spells and some very nice Buffs but very nearly zero armor capability and the melee attack was painfully Fail. The Red Mage was an oddity in that she chose from both White and Black Magic (though neither had the same strength as the White and Black Mages) and had decent armor choices as well as the solid weaponry available to the Warrior.

But really, where did these conventions come from and why do they exist?

The answer lies in a game that not many of you have played, but whose influence you see in EVERY single Fantasy RPG known to man. (Never mind that it, itself, was influenced strongly by another source.) That game is Dungeons and Dragons.

The Character Classes from that first Final Fantasy have their matches in the Classes from D 'n' D.

Warrior is Fighter, a melee combatant first and foremost. The heaviest armor, the strongest weapons, and the adaptability to use them as needed.

Thief is the sneaky Rogue, known to use any tactic at hand that will get the job done. Lighter armor, slightly weaker weapons, but they aren't afraid to hit below the belt and they can, and will, aim to hit where it will hurt most.

Monk is . . . well, Monk. The Class of oriental Martial Artists is actually present in D 'n' D, but most of the time it's either misrepresented or badly handled because the fundamental philosophical basis of Balance is lost on most Westerners. That and it's one of the classes that wasn't in the original source material for D 'n' D.

White Mage is the Cleric, who does not use conventional "magic" but uses Divine blessing alongside martial strength. Clerics are Warrior-Priests, not as Melee intensive as the Fighter, but still solid.

The Black Mage is the Wizard, steeped in esoteric learning and long hours studying ancient texts to decipher the methods to control the very energies that hold the world together. In exchange for great magical prowess, they have sacrificed physical pursuits and usually can't run to the other side of a room without losing their breath.

The Red Mage is an oddity because the closest approximation is the Bard, who *also* appears later as a Final Fantasy Class. The Red Mage does not use music, but shares nature with the D 'n' D Bard in that she has access to both White and Black Magic and a solid combative base. The Red Mage uses both Sword and Sorcery and thus is highly adaptable.

Each of these Classes excels or specializes in one aspect of combat with the exception of the Red Mage who does a little bit of everything. They require different Stats in order to do their jobs. Trying to do the job of a Fighter with the stats of a Wizard is a lesson in Failure. A Red Mage can step in as any role, but she isn't going to excel at it like the other would.

There is a common misconception that the difference between White Mage, Black Mage, and Red Mage is the type of magic that they wield. That they share the same general Stats. This cannot be further from the truth. All Mages are not created equal.

Later versions of the game did that with White Mage and Black Mage, generally the same Stats but different functions. It was a mis-interpretation of what the Cleric was supposed to be, but oh well. The Red Mage, on the other hand, was then and is now the Jack-of-All-Trades of the Mage Classes. A little bit of everything.

So what does this mean for those of us creating characters for Final Fantasy?

It means that Character Class influences everything else through the determination of what the base Stats need to be in order to effectively do their job. A Melee Class is going to need high offensive capability. A Magic Class will need a high Magic score. Rogue classes will need high Evasion and Accuracy for those low blows.

What is Average for any given Class is *not* Average for the other Classes.

For a numerical example I turn again to Final Fantasy X, which runs closest to what the Site does for development because armor and weapons have no true combative or defensive value of their own. They can, but the process of adding that value to that of the character is rather twitchy. In other games the Stats were determined by a character's Weapon and Armor choices. On Site it is possible for a player to create their initial armor and their initial weapon and never upgrade either, and still pwn when that character reaches 1000 posts.

Assigning Classes to the Characters from Final Fantasy X is difficult in some cases because the most descriptive term is sometimes not a Class that we, as a Site, have available. In one case the Class is not available but there is no other way to describe that Subclass association.

Also, there is a note of oddity. Not all Characters are created equal.

This is oddly counter-intuitive, but not all characters have stats of equal total value. In fact, no two characters Stat Totals are the same. So yes, it is possible for a given character to have higher overall stats than another character, even at Character generation. However, I believe I understand something of why this is so for the characters. If Tidus is the general Base value (disregarding Luck which is an oddity of itself), then the others are adjusted up or down based on certain factors.

Tidus: Warrior (Knight)
It is implied that Tidus developed later along Auron's line of skills and abilities because a mirror of his ultimate weapon, Caladbolg, is used for Yuna's Dark Knight weapon in FF X2. However, I do not know that he had a Subclass at the start of the game.
Starting Stats:
Str: 15, Def: 10, Mdef: 5, Mag: 5, Agl: 10, Eva: 10, Acc: 10, Luck: 18 (65 pts)

Yuna: Summoner/ White Mage
Summoners are the Clerics of Spira, those who walk a path of Faith and Devotion. Many Summoners are drawn from the numbers of the Clergy (White Mages) though that is not the only path to becoming a Summoner. At least one Red Mage (by implication) became High Summoner and sacrificed her life for Spira.
Starting Stats:
Str: 5, Def: 5, Mdef: 20, Mag: 20, Agl: 10, Eva: 30, Acc: 3, Luck: 17 (93 pts)

Dual-Classed: She was a White Mage before she became a Summoner and thus her stats reflect the greater experience needed.

Auron: Samurai/ Dark Knight
He is the ultimate Guardian, a title he seems to resent as much as he bears it without complaint. He seems to have taken the Dark Knight subclass either near the time of Braska's sacrifice or shortly afterwards because there is always mental or emotional trauma involved in Dark Knight.
Starting Stats:
Str: 20, Def: 15, Mdef: 5, Mag: 5, Agl: 5, Eva: 5, Acc: 3, Luck: 17 (53 pts)

Unsent: Requires constant mental discipline to maintain physical form and not devolve into a fiend, so it creates a drain on his stats. Those points are directed into maintaining himself.

Wakka: Ninja/Warrior (Knight)
Technically he is a Blitzball Player, but as he inflicts Status Attacks and depends largely on Accuracy for his attacks, he could very well be an unconventional interpretation of the Ninja. He is likely Subclassed in Warrior (Knight) for his strength and Defense since Ninja is traditionally a Speed and Stealth class.
Starting Stats:
Str: 14, Def: 10, Mdef: 5, Mag: 10, Agl: 7, Eva: 5, Acc: 25, Luck: 19 (76 pts)

Combat Experience: Wakka undertook a pilgrimage as a Guardian previously, though he was unable to complete it due to a lack of closure with blitz, his favorite game.

Rikku: Thief/ Chemist
Aside from the obvious speed aspect of her stats that reflect her role as the quick and agile thief, there is the matter of her use of potions and other such items.
Starting Stats:
Str: 10, Def: 8, Mdef: 8, Mag: 10, Agl: 16, Eva: 5, Acc: 5, Luck: 18 (54 pts)

Still Growing: Rikku is only fifteen and has not fully reached maturity, so her stats reflect that lack of development.

Kimahri: Dragoon/Mimic (Blue Magic)
In Spira, only the Ronso have access to the mysterious Blue Magic, which technically doesn't exist on Site. The closest is the Mimic, but that does not function exactly like what the Ronso can do. As for the other, he uses a Spear and has the Jump ability. That is almost the definition of a dragoon.
Starting Stats:
Str: 16, Def: 15, Mdef: 5, Mag: 17, Agl: 6, Eva: 5, Acc: 5, Luck: 18 (69 pts)

Dying Man's Legacy: Kimahri has guarded Yuna even before she was a Summoner and his stats reflect that experience gained from accompanying her from Bevelle to Besaid when she was seven years old.

Lulu: Black Mage/ Puppeteer
Lulu's position as the group's Black Mage is made abundantly clear from the beginning and that is the only term used for her. However, the dolls which are her weapons are most certainly Puppets that she controls using her magic to attack and to aid her in the casting of her spells. In point of fact, her melee attack is setting the doll on the ground and letting the doll run up to strike the opponent.
Starting Stats:
Str: 5, Def: 8, Mdef: 30, Mag: 20, Agl: 5, Eva: 40, Acc: 3, Luck: 17 (111 pts)

Former Guardian: Lulu has attempted two other pilgrimages as a Guardian and so has greater experience than the others (excepting only Auron) and thus her stats are higher than average. In point of fact, they're the highest total of the whole group.

Generally speaking the average Stat Total for a beginning character is going to be 65-70 points, in that system, disregarding Luck. 70 points will allow for 10s in all seven stats. Nothing really high, but nothing really low, either. Luck is disregarded because it is the only stat of the whole group that does not rise in the same manner of the others. It takes a great deal of effort to gain points in Luck and Luck is a stat which influences everything else. My best guess is that a fraction of the stat is applied as a percentage bonus to every other stat and thus raising the objective value of that Stat requires either Administration Award, Event Items, or other extreme efforts.

As a side note: I could not find the beginning Stats in either Wiki or the Strategy Guide so I went searching through GameFAQs, the next best source for information from the games because most of the time it is information that is meticulously written down from what is on the screen while playing.

The point of all this being that how you choose your Classes affects a great deal more than whether you get more stuff to create or whether you can use that Uber Class Ability. Yes, in terms of Creation, the Beastmaster/Summoner combination pwns. Beastmaster as a Main allows for several Pets in addition to the two Party Members and Summoner allows for both more Summons more quickly *and* use of the Mage Spell Progression chart.

But if you aren't playing a character who likes to stand in the back of the fight and let those who have befriended you fight in front (this was originally supposed to be the character concept for Mairi-chan) then it's going to look like obvious Min-Maxing.

Character Class affects Base Stats and Base Stats affects how strong you are in one area or another in relation to other classes. Some classes are obviously weighted in one direction or another; others are more balanced between several factors. Both classes affect these Stats. Choose carefully, this is the foundation upon which the whole character is built.

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