It’s not hard to find the Triad in the game right now; you can fly past them in Azys Lla if you want. They’re referenced by the plot, even, and they form a major part of the conclusion to the expansion, but they’re not specifically called out as such. The game obliquely mentions what’s going on with them, and later confirms the connection between the final MSQ boss and the Triad, but it always leaves any crucial bits of joining to be drawn by the player.
I think this is a pretty big deal, bigger than it might seem at a glance. So for those of you who don’t have games from two decades ago stuck in your brain, let’s talk about what the Triad was and what its presence might imply for the future of Final Fantasy XIV. There will be spoilers, but I’ll do what can be done to hide them behind our fancy-pants spoiler tags as possible.
The Warring Triad in the past
In Final Fantasy VI, three deities descended from the heavens. They also hated each other, and thus they set to warring. After a little time, they realized that they were sort of destroying the world around them, so they came to a compromise: The three deities turned themselves to stone and had the magical beings created by their conflict hide them away from the rest of the world.
This does not make a whole lot of sense to me, but then, I’m not a deity. Maybe this is just what you do in that situation.
What’s important in all of this is that the three beings of the Warring Triad served as the root of all magic in the world. They were balanced in such a way that their powers were in alignment, none of them disrupting the others or unbalancing the delicate nature of the world around them. To control these corporeal forms was to have one hand on the throat of the world, which served as the goals of one of the game’s villains. The ultimate villain of the game as a whole, however, had other ideas, wishing to absorb all of the powers of the deities to become a literal nexus of magic himself.
Let me skip over a great deal of important plot stuff from Final Fantasy VI: The important takeaway is that the Warring Triad serves as more than just a set of three minibosses before the main event in that game. The power of the beings thus locked away is the source of the conflict in the game, something to be protected at all costs. If the wrong person were able to take control of the Triad, horrible things would happen to the world (and horrible things do indeed happen).
The Warring Triad in FFXIV
We aren’t formally introduced to the Warring Triad in the MSQ as such, although the final dungeon sees us running into the pits of the central floating fortress containing those three statues. After completing the MSQ and before starting in on the extreme primals, we learn that the Triad consists of the first three primals bound by the Allagan Empire.There are spoilers here for the conclusion of the MSQ if you still haven't cleared up through 3.0's story; otherwise, click for the spoiler-filled explanation.
It’s clear that the Warring Triad have an influence upon ambient magic and are powerful, but they’re not implied to be one of the main sources of power that the Allagans used – Dalamud was specifically made to serve as a power plant with a bound Bahamut, and it’s quite possible that the Warring Triad were simply powerful enough to keep Azys Lla running for ages. Certainly there’s no implication that these three Primals are particularly more or less powerful than the others which the players have encountered thus far.
So they’re just primals bound in an out-of-the-way place filled with various maintenance facilities and the like. Nothing all that dangerous, right? Certainly dangerous, but their relevance starts and stops with the fact that Primals are always dangerous and they’re tied into some rather dodgy Allagan machinery. That’s what we’re told.
That’s what gets me rather suspicious.
What you hide and why
Azys Lla is not just hidden. It’s that, too, but it’s also locked behind a barrier that required one-of-a-kind tools to pierce. Getting into the containment facility alone is extraordinarily difficult, even once you bypass Azys Lla’s existing defenses. And while it’s beyond the scope of the various nodes that you find in the area, the implication seems to be that this facility was not just shut down one day for the heck of it; this was still kept active for some purpose or another.
You don’t expend that much effort guarding something that’s simply powering itself. Oh, you could argue that it was partly a matter of making sure that no one else could use the technology… but why? At the time of Allag’s fall, there was no other civilization that could have any use for what had been developed there. It was protecting things from no one.
Unless, of course, the facility was holding something more than just its own power source, more than the various bio-engineered creations scattered across the floating bits of land. Unless Azys Lla was always more than just a testbed for technology that would later serve as a power source for the Crystal Tower.
This isn’t something the game has outright said, but it’s part of why I believe that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. The Ascians at the end of the MSQ wanted something other than anyone else’s stated agenda. They weren’t in Azys Lla to work with any of the powers that they had thus far been working with, sometimes pitting against one another. No, they wanted to reach Azys Lla for purposes that they never quite get around to advancing.Click here to reveal more spoilers about the end of the MSQ and through the end of 3.1's storyline.
I suspect that the Warring Triad as they exist within Eorzea are not simply there as just things to fight. They are things that will need to be fought, yes; the equilibrium between them has become disturbed. But defeating them is less of a salvation than it might seen because once they’re gone, that source of power is gone. If they’re being used as a lock on something, we might find that the net result when the lock is finally released is something less than positive.
And considering that there’s a major NPC set to return in 3.2, I suspect the shape of what’s to come may be revealed soon.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to email@example.com. Next time around, I want to talk a bit about elements of the game that could use a bit more expansion before the next expansion rolls around.