Wisdom of Nym: Everything you never needed to know about Final Fantasy XIV’s jobs and job stones

    
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Wisdom of Nym: Everything you never needed to know about Final Fantasy XIV’s jobs and job stones
Part of me wonders if there’s someone in the Blizzard Entertainment offices with a very close eye on Final Fantasy XIV. Is it a coincidence that after a couple of years during which FFXIV has been doing great and garnering a great deal of praise, World of Warcraft announces an expansion which ties very heavily into the idea that classes have a specific place in the world and in lore?

Yes. It is almost certainly coincidence. But it’s a coincidence that makes me very happy, so I suppose I’ll take it.

Final Fantasy XIV makes a big deal out of jobs, classes, and cultural underpinnings, but one of the things that I also see as being a source of great misunderstanding is how those jobs work in the lore of the setting. So today I want to talk a bit about the lore behind jobs, job stones, what these occupations mean, and where all of these jobs exist in the setting. It’ll be fun for the family.

What are jobs?

Technically ninja.In Final Fantasy XIV, a job is not the same as a class conceptually, even if they’re functionally identical past a certain point in gameplay. A class is simply a discipline associated with a specific tool, but a job is a specific art.

Let’s use one of the more common weapons as a point of reference: swords. A sword is the province of the Gladiator class, and there’s a guild dedicated to its study in Ul’dah. But players encounter numerous individuals all across Eorzea making use of a sword and shield. Ishgardian knight, Redbelly thieves, Serpent Reaver sailors, all manner of beast tribes, Garlean soldiers… the list goes on. Gladiators are just those using the sword and shield.

By contrast, most of these individuals are not Paladins. Paladins have a specific blend of divine magic and combat prowess which blends a few disciplines in with a very specific set of techniques. Paladins are found in one place, Ul’dah, and exist as part of one tradition: the Sultansworn. Haurchefant may be a paladin in the societal sense, but his job isn’t Paladin. The jobs are specific.

We also now have a handful of weapons that only exist alongside jobs: Machinist carbines, Dark Knight greatswords, and Astrologian star globes. These are weapons so unusual that they are found more or less in one place and one place only. Anyone using a star globe is trained as an Astrologian; there’s no general practice that has been refined. (Curiously, several members of the Heaven’s Ward wield greatswords, implying more to the matter… but we never see them in battle without external circumstances limiting what can be said about their classes.)

What is a job stone?

A shortcut. Consider the opening to Final Fantasy Tactics:

Ironically, none of that preamble about engraving techniques into the stone actually shows up in FFT at all. But it does show up in FFXIV. Job Stones are a shortcut that allows individuals to have the benefit of years of practice without actually getting years of practice, to shortcut the training that would otherwise be required.

Job Stones do, on occasion, impart some degree of additional power upon the user. But the stone itself is simply a way of imparting additional knowledge that would be necessary to take someone’s knowledge of a class to the next level. Every job that spins off of a class requires the character to have understanding of two other classes which can be integrated into new practices. Becoming a Dragoon requires understanding of the lance as well as the axe and the fist, along with a bunch of other specialized training that is more easily imparted by lobbing a job stone at someone.

How rare are job stones?

It depends a lot on the job itself, but the stones themselves aren’t rare. Or at the very least, they’re not so rare that a noble house of Ishgard can’t produce a bunch of them.

The Machinist job quests make it clear that job stones are at least reasonably common; certainly nothing implies that it is particularly difficult for Skysteel Manufactory to produce several stones for the use of whomever may want one. While there are jobs that have rarer stones, much of that comes not due to the stones but the simple rarity of the knowledge necessary to make use of the stones and attune with them. The Scholar and Summoner stones, for example, are rare because they center around largely forgotten techniques.

One can reasonably assume that by this point, most of the job stones that exist can be replicated with some reliability. They’re not being used to pave the streets, but neither are job stones pricelessly rare artifacts that no one dare use. Player characters are given them as a matter of course, after all.

So why are jobs rare?

Rowena's business model relies upon people wearing this stuff.To some extent, they aren’t. Paladins, for example, aren’t inherently rare so much as they’re limited; that’s like asking why Marines are rare. Those which are rare often have external reasons. Ninja are rare in Eorzea because their art originates in Doma and rarely spread beyond that region, with most of the practitioners subsequently eliminated. They’re quite a bit more common in Othard, presumably.

Beyond that, some rarity is simply due to the nature of what is required. In order to become a Paladin, an aspirant needs training that simply isn’t available in Ul’dah on a reliable basis, necessitating a great deal of travel which isn’t particularly common. It also requires the approval of the individuals who can distribute the necessary soul stones and training, which isn’t always easy to acquire either.

Adventurers like the player characters in the game are not usual. The fact is that there’s every reason in the world for adventurers to have access to these things, and that doesn’t make the items in question common or even reliable to locate. They are still rare, even if the majority of adventurers have access to them to some degree.

But what if I don’t want my character to have a job stone?

As it happens, that’s fine. There’s also every reason to have a character who, in-character, either has no job stone whatsoever (and is technically a member of a class) or is a member of the job due to long hours of practice. Your character could plausibly be pretty much any job without the benefit of a stone.

It’s important to note and understand that job stones aren’t simply objects that exist within the game mechanics;they’re also real things that exist in the world of Eorzea. In one sense, that is a bit limiting, because it means that you have to explain things that might otherwise be obvious. But there’s an assumption in the game’s community that job stones are inherently rare things, that your character’s getting one is the result of you being the Super Special Savior with something no one else has.

None of that is the case. In most cases, job stones are not actually half as rare as people seem to think. There’s plenty of space for your character to have one or not, whether or not your character happens to have a job in practice. And that’s part of what I like about the game, to be completely honest.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com; this column was a bit different than normal, so telling me whether or not you liked it lets me know whether I should or should not do more like it in the future. Next time around, assuming no major news that derails matters, I want to talk about the new jobs from Heavensward and how they’re integrating with player culture.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.

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Bereman99
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Bereman99

wolfyseyes  On the note of Dark Knighs…I’ve seen some interesting discussions on just how the job works and how it taps into its power…
And apparently it’s not entirely about just tapping into your “dark side” but about acknowledging all of you who you are, including everything that you repress (for some it’s the desire to lash out that is kept contained, for others it’s love that they don’t acknowledge)…

Without full acceptance of yourself, you risk becoming overwhelmed when tapping into that small part of the void inside that is the source of the power.

It’s a surprisingly fascinating job, certainly beyond what people thought it would be at first glance.

Dope_Danny
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Dope_Danny

But i guess in the longrun im just thinking that new jobs in future should seem ‘forgotten over time’ as opposed to just an exclusive rarity if that makes sense. Like how in the 90’s an english medieval cookbook was found that brought back tons of forgotten recipes that cooks use today its not rare to attain the skills, people just forgot and no longer documented what was once commonplace.

Dope_Danny
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Dope_Danny

I like the job stone system but i really hope they add more in future that arent simply “walk up to guy in town, pick up thing, now you are the guy”. In a world that offers me a lot of the rpg WoW truncated in the name of ‘wider market appeal’ i feel XIV could afford to take it a little further.

Imagine something like Puppet Master. Lets say you had ninja, black mage and goldsmith all at some arbitrary number like 45. Then each of the classes find something looted from random mobs and can be combined to give a clue to head somewhere to find a broken down old clockwork puppet in the middle of nowhere, you use your knowledge of magic, goldsmithing and the agile fingers of a ninja to repair it and it leads you to a soulstone and every 5 levels the puppet gives you quests rather than returning to a generic quest giver.

I doubt they would ever do it and i know the moment its added guides and wikis ‘spoil’ it but something i loved recently in Destiny of all games was finding an item that would lead me to a powerful exotic weapon and having absolutely no idea what it was and going on a adventure to solve the puzzle.

The longer the game goes on it stands to reason the more rare and uncommon job crystals would be -i mean why else wouldnt you have seen or heard of them already right?- and i just hope some get added in new ways that you find out in the world like ‘secret jobs’ rather than new guilds in new quest hubs in future.

Ninja and Dark Knight were a step in the right direction with this i think. At least until we get new classes jobs should feel at least like a feat of exploration, daring and adventure. Not reaching 18 and applying fro your drivers license.

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

xania Mass-manufacturing is unique to the MCH job stone, but the main reasons the others are old and worn is simply due to the fact that they’re not produced in great numbers, not that they cannot be. The exact text on them all reads as follows: “Upon the surface of this multi-aspected crystal are carved the myriad deeds of [JOB] from eras past.” Only MCH lacks this description, and that’s simply because Machinists are new; it’s being defined now as you go.

The problems of manufacturing them come down to how many people know the techniques and willingness to distribute the crystal. It’s like Latin – it’s not commonly spoken, but that’ just due to utility, not an inherent trait of the language.

xania
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xania

I’m not sure using the MCH job stone’s availability as a benchmark is a good idea. All job stones if you look at them say they’re beat up and worn with years of use and knowledge – but the MCH job stone is the only one that specifically says it’s new and shiny. It’s possible that it’s a new kind of job stone, one that’s more easily created, and making other job stones is indeed rare and/or tough. I wouldn’t be surprised if MCH’s is the only one that can be mass manufactured, possibly by machines, and the rest are hand made. I would guess jobs that are fairly isolated like DRK or maybe WAR are hard to get a hold of, and the knowledge of how to make some may be completely lost (SMN springs to mind.)

wolfyseyes
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wolfyseyes

I think the fact that the job narratives play to the Chosen One trope is why people conflate the job stones as being rare. Indeed, nothing in the Dragoon questline said the stone was rare, but it did say that your character is the Azure Dragoon–the penultimate version of the job.
Personally, I’ve always leaned on the aether crutch to explain my character’s power. My character has been using an axe and was trained in the arts that tapped to her Inner Beast for a while. It only recently became apparent that this same fount of physical power can manifest in to an aetheric form, letting her Inner Beast transform in to her Darkside. Thus her training as a Dark Knight began.
I like this write-up. Reminds me of the RP column you wrote for Massively of eld. Moar plz.

confectionally
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confectionally

Oh yes, not all job stones are rare!  Unless of course your character is a WHM.  Honestly, the general idea of jobs having lore behind them is great, but the actual execution is one of my major gripes with FFXIV.  For RP purposes it’s extremely limiting in terms of coming up with a character I actually like who’s a member of a job/class I actually like.  I would have much preferred if picking X job for your character didn’t, lore-wise, tie you to one specific organization no matter what, let alone the jobs that are actually rare and theer technically should only be one or a handful of ICly.  With my earlier example for instance, being a “Conjurer” is incredibly uninspiring for roleplay compared to getting to be an iconic White Mage.

TacoBellMan
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TacoBellMan

I like using the JOB stones. I tried it without it and it did not work for me lol.

Shienne
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Shienne

Getting your hands on a soul stone is easy as hell. There’s this chick on Tumblr or some shit that sells them for something like fifteen bucks a pop.