There’s a wide-open space for storytelling in Final Fantasy XIV with the conclusion of the 5.0 MSQ, a lot of different ways that the next installments could go. And hey, I could speculate about where it will go pretty easily, but at the moment it feels very much like wild speculation not grounded in anything beyond what I personally think would be neat and fun.
So if I’m going to be going down that road anyhow, I may as well go a different route and talk about silly things that I’d like to see explored that are probably not meant to be explored any further.
What’s the deal with Ran’jit?
On some level, this is a question that doesn’t actually need to be asked, and I freely admit that. The deal with Ran’jit is explained in the story: He’s a general in the Eulmore army, he’s trained a very specific set of people, he’s incredibly powerful, and he really believes in Lord Vauthry’s overall ethos. But it’s that “incredibly powerful” part that seems like it’s sort of in need of some elaboration, even above and beyond the usual boss conceits.
See, Ran’jit doesn’t just fall into the header of being very skilled the way we see with lots of other antagonists we fight; in fact, he slots more into the realm of Zenos in that he fights with the implication that he does things human beings should not be capable of. (Yes, everyone does, but the game is pretty good at signaling the difference between someone displaying a human level of power and someone who is incomprehensibly strong.) And he’s also got that semi-draconic companion who seems to empower him along the way.
We get no explanation for any of this. By contrast, we learn that Zenos specifically has been given an artificial form of the Echo, granting him even greater ability than his existing abilities would imply, so we know full well why he’s so inhumanly strong. Ran’jit is just… a normal human, but he has some symbiotic bond with a dragon-thingy, can see through pixie magic, and can survive a fall that should have killed him to show up later apparently none the worse for wear.
Does any of this need an explanation, exactly? No, all of those things stated as fact could be all of the explanation we need. This is what a crazy advanced monk looks like; that’s valid. But it still feels to me like there’s more explanation there that we could get, even if we don’t need it.
What are the jobs in the First?
Fighting Ardbert in 3.4 contained a little hint of how different the First is from the Source; while the jobs might be familiar, their names at the very least are not. His party consisted of a Knight, a Ranger, a Magus, and a Devout alongside himself. In short, just because they may be the same jobs in mechanics, they’re not given the same names, and for that matter they don’t even quite seem to have the same roles.
To some extent, this is probably irrelevant. NPC jobs have never been exactly firm or ironclad in any way, and the reality is that it doesn’t matter what the First calls a Ninja if the job works exactly the same. It’s also partly an outgrowth of just wanting more lore and information; we by necessity have something a pinhole looking into the world of the First, and while there might be some curiosity about how seemingly identical jobs are visibly different on this world, it ultimately doesn’t dramatically alter the story.
Still, it’s a point of curiosity for me personally, and it’s one of those things that I’d love to know more about. It’s probably not even going to come up whenever we get to our equivalent of relic weapons, but it matters at least intellectually to me.
How does the aetheric imbalance work, exactly?
Finishing all of the role quests actually does provide more information on the whole mechanism regarding the Flood… to an extent. We find out exactly how the Ascians did intend to set the world up to be right on the boundary of the Flood, and that the Flood wasn’t exactly their intention along the way. But the whole point was that they wanted to bring things right to the boundary of the Flood without it actually happening, and that’s where things get a little more complicated.
Simply put, the explanation we get seems to imply that a handful of people being decent is enough to push things toward an imbalance of light, something that comes really close to tying morality in to the elements. Disregarding the fact that this runs counter to the rest of the expansion’s themes, it also doesn’t really align with what else we’ve been told about the Calamities. How do mortal actions lead to an imbalance of water aether, for example? How can you have a lightning morality tied to your behaviors? Was the Thirteenth just full of utter jerks and that’s why it was suffused with darkness?
The answer to that last question is almost certainly no. Obviously, we don’t need to know the mechanics here. The Ascians work over a long and steady path to unbalance worlds and force the Calamities to occur, and it’s enough to understand that Ardbert and his party wound up tipping the balance completely to Light; from a thematic standpoint there are more important elements.
Still, considering that we now understand how Calamities happen and the role of tipping the balance, it would help if we understood a bit more of how and why that balance gets tipped. What we do know seems to go back and forth between the idea that dark is not bad and light is not good… and then the idea that Ardbert and friends were so good they accidentally doomed the world.
Where are the remaining beast tribes?
We know the status of several of the beast tribes from the Source on the First. The Amalj’aa are the nomadic-but-de-facto-Lakeland occupants the Zun, the Kobolds are the mercantile Zun, and the Sahagin are far more reclusive in this world as the peaceful but standoffish Ondo. We also know full well where the Ixal and the Ananta are; they don’t exist, because both races are derived from Allagan bioweapons that never were made on the First. All well and good.
But what about the Qiqirn, the Gigas, the Mamool Ja, the Sylphs, the Kojin, the Vanu Vanu, the Gnath, and the Namazu? Heck, are we to assume that the Hobgoblins are the same as the Goblins? It seems rather unlikely; they don’t have the same features or quite the same gait…
Again, this is easily written off by just shrugging and saying that these tribes were occupants of lands destroyed by the Flood before our arrival or that they were more Allagan constructs we just didn’t know about yet. That’s fine. But I do wonder what happened to my idiot fish children, for example, and the fact that the beast tribes aren’t sectioned off from the rest of the people the same way means that there feels like more potential for storytelling there.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you feel I missed something egregious in the story with all of this, feel free to say that, too. Next week, let’s talk about where we’re at after the weekly tomestone patch in terms of balance and the state of play.