Wisdom of Nym: The Warring Triad and what it means for Final Fantasy XIV

    
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Gambler.
The Warring Triad is a big deal in Final Fantasy VI. We don’t actually know if it’s a big deal in Final Fantasy XIV, but I’m tempted to believe it is because we haven’t been told about it much at all.

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

Yes, this seems like an ethically consistent and trustworthy organization.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.
The whole idea of funneling the power of the Triad does show up in the storyline in an oblique fashion, since the Archbishop is using the Triad’s power as part of his catalyst to become a new Primal along with the Heaven’s Ward. It’s sort of secondary to the power of Nidhogg’s heretofore lost eye and the energy of an Ascian, but the vague implication is there.

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.

I know why you don't want people here, I just can think of several reasons why you'd keep it hidden and they're not the stated reasons.

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.
For that matter, who is Elidibus courting right now? Who seems to be playing both sides of the field? And who is also our primary source of information about the Warring Triad? Urianger, all along.

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 eliot@massivelyop.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.

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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Flimflamberge
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Flimflamberge

Bereman99 SorriorDragneel My guess would be that Eikons are bound to physical objects and can keep coming back without prayer and summoning so long as their bound objects exist. For Odin, that object is Zantetsuken. For the Warring Triad, that’s probably their statues.

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

Bereman99 You are correct; I was tired and for some reason gave Nabriales the credit. Funny thing, since I do try to keep track of who’s still about these days…

Tenthyr
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Tenthyr

I’m pretty sure we done did done Nabriales. And gosh it was satisfying.

Khalith
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Khalith

I like the Triad being a lock for something greater theory.  But my theory had always been that the Azyz Lla factory, based on what we see in the fractal continuum, is that the entire place is a production plant on a massive scale where all kinds of experiments and artificial beings are created en masse.  As such, it made sense to me that they would need massive amounts of power to fuel/create/repair all the automated defenses and even more to continue the experiments for a long period of time after the facility was abandoned.

I mean the one NPC said it abandoned for what? Thousands of years or something? It makes sense that the Triad could keep it powered that long.  So my prediction isn’t that the Triad are keeping something else locked away (though it is possible I’ll give you that) but rather once they’re gone the entire Azys Lla facility will either break down or go haywire.  It could also result in the freedom of a certain trapped dragon on one of the islands.

Bereman99
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Bereman99

Just wanted to point out that you have the wrong Ascian listed – it’s Elidibus, not Nabriales.

Also, the possibility that the Warring Triad are a sort of lock on the prison of something even more powerful/threatening/world changing (it would be just like the Allagans to imprison something designed to fight them and use it to protect something else they have) is something I honestly hadn’t considered. We know that items that suck in aether, like the eyes of dragons, imprisoned Elder Primals like Bahamut, and the beings of the Warring Triad, generally have been shown to retain that aether until used up or destroyed, so I essentially took it at face value that they were wanted as a source of immense power. That they could be that AND part of a prison for something else? That is definitely possible and would be really interesting.

Bereman99
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Bereman99

SorriorDragneel There’s actually little information on Eikons, including their difference compared to primals in terms of power. We’ve been show that Odin is called an Eikon by Unukalhai (who I should point out is an in-game source, making him a potentially unreliable source), we know from an external source (the Sephirot Battle Preview page) that Sephirot was a deity worshiped by a particular group and then brought into being to combat the Allagan Empire (so they are brought into existence in a similar fashion as the primals we’ve encountered so far), and we know that Unukalhai says that the threat of the Eikons is different than that of the primal threat we’ve faced, but doesn’t really elaborate on his meaning…are they different in some major crucial way, or was our character’s response referencing what we’ve faced so far and he was simply pointing out that there are many other summoned creatures imprisoned that would be powerful and pissed should they awake? We don’t, right now, know which one was his intended meaning.

That being said, we can almost certainly assume they are more powerful than primals in general.

As for awakening, I believe the mention is about many being imprisoned and hidden and that should they awaken we’re screwed.

Also, I believe the Gods of Eld quest makes mention of the Warring Triad being Eikons, though the truth behind why they are Eikons and not Primals is not revealed.

SorriorDragneel
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SorriorDragneel

One more thing is that Eikon and Primal are different things power wise. Odin is an Eikon not just an elder primal.
And don’t they mention that Eikons are starting to awaken?
So what if the Warring Triad are either Eikons themselves or were being used to keep one sealed?

Shemhazazi
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Shemhazazi

I had assumed the Allagans needed that much power for (relatively) less sinister reasons. The Triad are located in The Flagship, and we already know that Allag had starships, so presumably their flagship would be every bit as capable of space flight, but perhaps needing a larger amount of power due to its size. This would also have made it a good candidate for holding up a flying continent when that was the more pressing need.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

Well if the Ascians are interested in the Triad and if the Triad is at all akin to FFVI’s version, it sounds like the Ascians want to use them for a similar purpose.  Even if they’re just primals instead of gods, Bahamut alone was enough to pretty much destroy the world.  So I’d guess the Ascians want to use them to either do what Bahamut failed to do or they want to do the FFVI route and absorb their powers.  Though it’d probably end up being into a device or something akin to Ultima Weapon.