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CoN 20th Anniversary: 1997-2017
FF6 "Rules" for a Well-Rounded Replay

Posted: 15th December 2017 23:49
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When it comes to the strength of the narrative, FF6 IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion) is easily the greatest video game ever created and a work of fiction that stands up to the level of most of the stuff they make us read in high school. Why is Chrono Trigger then often albeit not always regarded (including by me) as the superior RPG overall? Lots of arguable reasons but I find that FF6's main flaws are:

1) The Esper system makes the game, for the most part, waaaaay too easy, especially as the game progresses, in the opposite direction of the proper learning curve.

2) As great a job as FF6 does on balancing the characters' different story arcs, it does a fairly lousy job at balancing their abilities and stats. Some characters are debatable but Terra and Celes > Cyan and Umaro. That's just a fact.

3) Bugs, glitches, overlooked loopholes. Most avoidable, some not.

It's a shame--you can pretty much blame all of the above on rushed production.

How to fix? Well, a lot of gamers naturally use a method we're not supposed to get specific about on the site because it's illegal and I have no intention of getting banned for my second post. Plus, playing plot-heavy high fantasy games the legit way with a console and a decent sized TV is just...nicer. More family friendly anyway. Which is also one reason of many the remakes don't work well for me either.

So, I thought up a set of rules, mostly made up of restricting the Espers and certain key items to be used exclusively by certain characters. Honestly, I'm not sure how well it will work, but I'm gonna try to convince the family to try a run.

I don't think it makes the game too hard but I don't want the late battles to turn into an Ultima-spam fest using like 5 or 6 characters for almost everything. Also, constantly thinking about who should get what esper to maximize spells learned and stats boosted when it's really not necessary is just sooooo tedious. I'd rather have characters with a few different choices and put the brain power into figuring out who to team up with whom and how to balance their more unique abilities in battle.

Before I post the details, feel free to sound off your level of interest, whether any of you have come up with your own home rules, or whatever...

This post has been edited by Locke Unlocked on 15th December 2017 23:51
Post #214194
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Posted: 16th December 2017 01:31

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You don't have to give out personal information but without knowing who you really are there's plenty of ways to make it challenging.

Players have beaten games without the assistance of the internet, codes, cheats, hacks and/or emulation. Also, they have beaten them at low levels and/or less abilities.

You sound new to gaming and since you'll use the internet you should find videos on youtube. The games difficulty ranges from super easy to extremely hard.

To answer your question I have yet come across an ideal game that's perfect for everyone. No matter what you do someone's going to hate it.

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Posted: 16th December 2017 14:39

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Quote (Eagle Caller @ 15th December 2017 19:31)
You sound new to gaming and since you'll use the internet you should find videos on youtube.  T

... what the heck.

ANYWAY, I'm not sure about rushed production being much of a cause of the issues you mention; in terms of character development, I feel like it was an intentional choice to leave specific characters behind a bit, and with regards to bugs, well, bugs happen. I'd hate for my job to be based on avoiding every bug, I wouldn't have made it very far. smile.gif

It sounds like you've already thought of some of the major restrictions I've heard players put on themselves for freshening up FF6 runs: locking espers to certain characters, applying artificial "job classes" to characters via equipment and abilities, things like that. Low-level games are always popular, and in FF6, some folks like doing the "natural magic" playthrough where characters only can use magic that they learn without the use of Espers. And, of course, you could always go the route of grinding Gau until he has a rage for every situation and making him your party lead.

This post has been edited by Rangers51 on 16th December 2017 14:39

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Posted: 17th December 2017 01:28
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Thanks for the thoughtful response, Rangers51. Low level runs never held much appeal to me for some reason, although I've done Zelda minimalist style. When I first did that I thought I was the only OCD nut who did that sort of thing! rolleyes-straight.gif

The thing is, I'm not really looking just to up the difficulty. I want there to be a point to everything (well, as much as possible): the character abilities, the spells, the items, etc. I've never liked having stuff in the inventory, or worse, characters, just taking up space.

Also, when it comes to a game like FF6, where the story is so resonant you can pretty much learn something new every time you play, I'd like to play in a way that complements the narrative experience.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and start posting my own way-too-thought-out "rules" in a moment or two...
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Posted: 17th December 2017 01:40
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General "Rules"

The Gist
Each of the 12 main characters get 3-5 Espers to "equip" (usually 5, less for characters that have other ways to use magic) and two special items (or, in some cases, item-related "abilities"). In the next post, I'll list all the espers and all the items/item-like things that I restrict to only 1-3 characters. I do try to follow a pattern. The starting four espers each get assigned to three characters; espers that teach mass defense-ignoring spells each get assigned to one character; and all other espers each get assigned to two characters.

Any items I don't list have no restrictions other than what the game naturally restricts. That's most of them, including a few powerful ones.

Which Version?
This is intended for the SNES version (or PSX, if you have an astounding tolerance for load times). The new espers kinda throw everything off.

The Rationale
I have done my best (read: spent far too much time) balancing the following factors in deciding which character gets assigned what:

1) Avoiding letting characters have espers or items that make their unique abilities or equipment pointless.

2) Giving each character reasonable playability, at least so that you won't always or never want the character on your team.

3) Making sure every character you have can equip an esper from meeting Ramuh onwards.

4) Avoiding espers/items that teach the same spell to one character (sometimes kinda unavoidable).

5) Having a reasonable plot-related justification for why each character gets each esper or thing and staying thematically reasonable. (Sometimes it's a stretch but hey, nothing's perfect.).

Other Random Rules
1. No taking advantage of any glitches. That would make this whole thing pointless. Most obviously, this means no fatal or gravity spells, lores, or dances on invisible enemies, but the Cyan tempest thing is also out of bounds, as is breaking the game, etc.

2. No Moogle Charm or Wall/Reflect Rings in the Tower of Fanatics. The place is kinda silly/pointless otherwise.

3. Gogo may not use any Item I restrict to any other player even though (s)he/it doesn't get anything either.

4. Umaro can use anything he wants with no restrictions other than the game's natural restrictions. Not that it matters much.

This post has been edited by Locke Unlocked on 17th December 2017 01:40
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Posted: 17th December 2017 02:01
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Esper "Assignments"
Here I try to justify who gets what, based on personality, history, mythology, and etymology, while in reality there's also a lot of logistical reasons...

Kirin/Qilin: Locke, Cyan, Gau
The Dance of the Kirin requires expert movement, strength, and balance. Kirin are also honored by those that show deference to a wise ruler. (Mog may be expert of his own dances, but he lacks the discipline and adaptability of the chosen three. Also, he’s not exactly respectful of a wise ruler, Ramuh in particular. Gau, on the other hand, for all his wildness, is adept at the movement of any beast and does ultimately act to serve and respect those he sees as wise, whether they deserve it or not. Locke and Cyan’s reasons for inclusion should be obvious enough.)

Stray/Cait Sith: Locke, Sabin, Setzer
A spirit of mischief and a bane to domestic existence, this feline esper can only be mastered by those that actively chose a nomadic or solitary life. (Note that Shadow is not in this group because he felt emotionally forced into such a life and Gau is out because he had no choice at all.)

Ramuh: Celes, Sabin, Setzer
An intimidating celestial god, master of weather and, to some degree, the fate of mortals, Ramuh’s aid and teachings are accessible to those who emotionally experienced (Sabin—coin toss), are uniquely capable of (Celes—surviving suicide if she attempts it, chance rescue from torture and death by the love of her life), or strive to embody (Setzer) divine fortune. (Note that Sabin’s coin toss may have been generously rigged, but he didn’t know that at the time and lived much of his life believing he was profoundly fortunate, which is true enough.)

Siren: Celes, Edgar, Gau
The source of the ultimate seductive voice can sap or enflame the wills of any mortal. Those who would ally with and learn such power must themselves have uniquely powerful voices. The capable trio here demonstrate exactly that, be it in passionate song, diplomacy (and maybe dating?), or the literal call of the wild.

Ifrit/Efreet: Edgar, Strago
The heat of a genie means more than physical flame. Ifrit will only call one master if that individual has consistently handled the emotions, especially the temper, of another mortal whose spirit aligns with the element of fire. “Handling” the emotions doesn’t necessarily mean controlling such a person but it does mean keeping one’s own patience and sanity.

Shiva: Sabin, Shadow
Creator and destroyer according to Hinduism, master of ice for some reason according to Final Fantasy lore. Contemplative warriors (generally, martial artists) that search for peace of mind (even if unsuccessfully) but fear neither life nor death can find comfort in Shiva’s grace, mastery of mind, and of course, subzero touch. (Note that Cyan may be spiritual and brave in battle, but death terrifies him, albeit perhaps not his own.)

Unicorn: Gau, Relm
As the legends tell, the unicorn is tamable only by an innocent virgin. Traditionally (and chauvinistically), this referred only to maidens, but exceptions could surely be made for a male virgin youth, especially one who learns from all creatures of the land. (Celes, Terra, and Sabin could logically be virgins as well, and in Terra’s case, we better hope so! But all three have, like the rest of the adults, been emotionally scarred and jaded by war or revenge to the point that innocence is too far of a stretch.)

Shoat/Catoblepas: Terra, Shadow
The legendary creature of the deadliest and darkest nature out of all the espers is accessible to those haunted by their own deadliness.

Bismark: Cyan, Relm
Okay, does anybody know where the heck in mythology a whale named “Bismark” fits in? Yeah, me neither. But given its elemental magic teachings and aquatic nature, it would make sense that it follows the lead of Maduin (a tri-elemental teacher in the game and sea voyager from old literature).

Maduin/Máel Dúin: Cyan, Relm
I know, story-wise, you might think Maduin fits best with Terra. But could you imagine exploiting (even with permission), the physical and spiritual remains of your own dead father? Well, Terra can’t. (Let’s just pretend that this has nothing to do with the way Maduin makes Terra’s independent Fire2 learning pretty meaningless…) Aside from the connection with his own daughter, Maduin would certainly be partial to an orphaned, magical girl and to a noble guardian grieving the loss of his wife and child.

Phantom: Locke, Setzer
Illusion and trickery are the hallmarks of the esper Phantom, especially if you take the magic it teaches into account. Do I really have to explain how the thief and the card sharp fit the picture? (Yes, Shadow was a thief at one point and is functionally a Final Fantasy ninja, but his current occupation is assassin. Stealthy, yes, but there is no evidence that he employs trickery, at least now, and he needs the use of skeans to employ illusion.)

Carbunkl/Carbuncle: Edgar, Sabin
The esper of deflection and protection is by definition made of material wealth (unless it’s a horrible cluster of boils, the etymology points to precious stones). The protective royalty of our story fit perfectly.

Sraphim/Seraph: Setzer, Strago
The mighty Seraph (Hebrew plural: Seraphim, go figure) is an angel of Judeo-Christian mythology and widely varying descriptions, none of which really match the appearance and abilities of this esper. Oh, well. So, treating the esper as the game does, i.e., a literal, beautiful, and feminine angel of basic, restorative white magic, it makes sense that it would have connections with: (1) the character originally most obsessed with physical female beauty but that rapidly learns to appreciate the greater good and (2) the character most utterly dedicated to one female throughout the game and whose unique magics are often of a celestial, self-sacrificing, or holy nature.

Golem: Mog, Shadow
Jewish legend tells of the danger of awakening this creature, in that it can easily go rogue without proper guidance. To control the Golem in the world of FF6, one must first at least have experience mastering more natural creatures of subhuman intelligence. (Fun question: Which character is more intelligent—Umaro or Interceptor? My money’s on the pooch.)

ZoneSeek/Zona Seek: Mog, Strago
Again, very little clue as to etymology here, but judging by the esper’s spells, clearly we’re dealing with meta-magic (magic that deals with magic) and judging by its name, we’re likely dealing with something inter-dimensional. Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the meta-magic esper to be used by meta-characters? That is, characters that transcend the plot and act as a plot catalyst/device for characters generally. Such characters could bond with and learn from the esper that transcends the essence of magic and acts as a catalyst for (or against) other magics. (It is from Strago’s book that we “read” the character highlights during the escape from Kefka’s Tower and if I have to explain how Mog is a meta-character, all I have to say is “Choose a scenario, Kupo!”)

Fenrir: Celes, Mog
Speaking of the inter-dimensional, Fenrir is mythologically a being that violently and viciously helps bring about the end of days and its spells collectively seek to bend the rules of the space-time continuum. Characters chosen by this esper are logically those that bend the game’s rules a bit and that most dramatically experience the apocalypse. (Mog’s role as “scenario” host magically transports items between characters across space and time. Also, on or soon after “Judgment Day” he becomes the sole survivor of the moogle genocide sad.gif. Celes unwittingly hijacks the role of protagonist from Terra for the World of Ruin, magically collecting all espers and items from the others, and wakes up to the thought of being the only woman in the world.)

Starlet/Lakshmi: Edgar, Relm
The goddess of beauty and fortune allies with the group’s chief creator of beauty and fortune (not to mention the one that had the most experience with her) and with the group’s most constant…um, connoisseur of beauty and fortune. Let’s just leave it at that. (Setzer’s aforementioned obsession with beauty was focused and relatively short-lived.)

Palidor/Quetzali: Terra, Mog
This one is pretty simple. A great lovely bird bonds with characters that can either naturally fly or at least appear to do so. (Mog’s bat wings and apparent ability to survive a fall off a high cliff certainly qualify!)

Tritoch/Valigarmanda: Setzer, Relm
Tritoch seems to logically indicate “Triple Touch” but Vlagimandaramadingdong or whatever the heck that name is supposed to be is a mystery to the Internet except for Final Fantasy games. Whatever it is, the bird-like, serpent-like esper is known for its colorful variety of powerful, basic spell types and fateful flashing (goodbye Vicks/Biggs and Wedge, we hardly knew ye…). There are no obvious choices for characters with which to bond (you could argue Terra but strange reactions ≠ summoning and learning; also, practically, it moots her natural Fire3). Still, I say it makes sense to be paired with the histrionically dramatic, flashy, and very colorful (literally and otherwise) characters of Setzer and Relm.

Phoenix: Locke, Celes
As Rachel demonstrates, in the FF6 world, the Phoenix grants its famous power of rebirth through the gift of love. And with that gift, Locke’s freedom to love Celes for who she really is constitutes a rebirth for both of them. Yeah, so I’m getting mushy. But I mean, come on, you can’t beat the most subtly yet powerfully delivered love story in video game history, so grab a box of Kleenex and let yourself feel that sappy story with every casting of Life3!

Ragnarok (esper or weapon): Edgar
Mythologically, Ragnarok is essentially the Norse religion’s end of days, but that’s a pretty common theme amongst the espers. More practically, in the Final Fantasy world, Ragnarok is typically a mighty and exclusive sword. And there’s no denying that Edgar is the single greatest master of classic weaponry in the game, including all European swords and spears as well as his own extraordinary machines. Wouldn’t it make sense that the truly most powerful sword the party has (unless traded for Illumina) belongs to the young king? Whether spiritually or physically, the sword is Edgar’s to use.

Alexander: Locke, Cyan
The name means “Defender/Protector of People/Warriors”. To underscore the point, Alexander’s magical teachings, chief power, appearance in Doma, and relationship to Cyan’s newfound peace of mind all speak of a righteous guardian. Alexander’s tendency to bond with Cyan is practically self-explanatory but for it to bond with Locke is also easy to understand given Locke’s nearly lifelong quest to be a selfless protector.

Terrato/Midgardsormr/Earth Serpent: Gau, Shadow
Another harbinger of the apocalypse (gee, a bit of a pattern! What happens in the middle of the game again…?), the Serpent’s unleashing of itself basically means all hell breaks loose in a very physical way. The magic the esper teaches aligns with this sense of physical and mental chaos. Gau’s and Shadow’s natures are clearly and uniquely chaotic, at times bouncing in and out of the party, and perhaps less likely to be phased by changes than any other character. They’ll need such traits to keep a handle on this earth-shattering horror.

Odin: Sabin
Mythically, the mighty Norse god accepts a terrible fate at the end of days and in the game he spiritually wakes from a terrible fate shortly before (typically) his identity transforms entirely. So who understands yet is the most un-phased by terrible fate, i.e., the mid-game apocalypse? How about the fellow that famously jokes, “Did you think a little thing like the end of the world would stop me?”

Raiden: Terra, Cyan
Yet another being with mythologically apocalyptic ramifications, Raiden the esper is the product of a tragic story of love between human and esper. Kind of on-the-nose for Terra. And then there’s Cyan, the defender of a kingdom and master of the thin blade (katanas and, uniquely, the almighty, dicing Scimitar). Such qualities are especially in line with Raiden’s more elevated noble purpose and abilities.

Bahamut: Terra, Mog
Mythologically, Bahamut is a gigantic fish or whale of Muslim legend. Clearly the identity is instead stol… er, adapted from Dungeons and Dragons, which has, since the late 70’s, used Bahamut as the wise “Platinum Dragon” god of good dragons. According to Final Fantasy IV/II, Bahamut is also the god of summoned monsters/phantom beasts/eidolons (corresponding to espers in FFVI/III). Here, it makes sense that Bahamut plays the role of mentor to the most dragon-like, creature-like, and esper-like characters.

Crusader/Jihad/War of the Spirit: Shadow
The name(s) of the esper and the name, graphics, and indiscriminate effect of the summon make it pretty clear that this esper embodies the essence of the War of the Magi. And we know the black-garbed antihero that got up close and personal with that very essence, plunging himself against the Warring Triad themselves. More than that, as demonstrated by that episode among other things, Shadow is irredeemably reckless and suicidal. The only question as to his self-destruction is when and how. Burn it all up, with no care for his own survival or the welfare of those he should care about? Sure! As long as it strikes a blow against the twisted legacy of the Empire known as Kefka. (Now have fun pondering the similarities and differences between the two characters…) What happens, you ask, if Shadow already “joined Baram” at the floating continent? Does this mean nobody gets the esper? Well, yes it does. Defeating the eight dragons still isn’t meaningless; there’s always the nifty items they leave behind. But if you’re doing a Shadow-less run, you’re not trying to get everything, anyway, are you?

Item "Assignments"
Again, I'm doing a lot of rationalization here...

Soul Edge: Locke
A blade for those who prefer to take something other than blood in battle.

Drainer: Celes
And a blade for those who are already a natural at taking another’s energy through a blade but are more trained for mortal combat.

Illumina: Edgar
If Edgar is the rightful wielder of the most powerful weapon in the game, surely that wouldn’t change from Ragnarok to this superlative masterpiece.

Combo of Black Belt, Genji Glove, or Offering/Master’s Scroll: Sabin, Cyan, Shadow
(The idea here is that anyone can use these relics, but only the above fellows can use two of these at a time. I.e., Black Belt and Genji Glove, Genji Glove and Offering/Master's Scroll, or Black Belt and Offering/Master's Scroll.)
These relics all have clear references to Japanese culture and martial arts (or at least a very specific fighting and spiritual discipline), like the karate-like moves of a Japanese-style monk, the bushido of a samurai, or the ninjutsu of a black-clad assassin. Everyone else has self-developed, Medieval Western, or very general fighting skills or experience with weaponry. It is possible for other characters to utilize one of these relics but to master two of them at once requires the intense, disciplined focus of these three. Yes, Mog, you have mastered the art of anime-style cuteness but that’s just not the same…ok yes, you can still have another hug… (I’m such a sucker…) (On a practical note, the martial artists of the game are also the ones to have the most underused weapons, due to their special abilities. This exclusivity encourages the player to give their weapons more meaning.)

Cursed Ring: Edgar
Leave it to a young king and master of weaponry to have the arrogant sense of omnipotence that looks right past the foreboding (or, for some characters, tempting) thought of mortality and straight into mastery over the space-time continuum. (Okay, that one’s a stretch, but practically, having the Cursed Ring is a benefit of picking the esper in the Ragnarok dilemma, something we’re leaving for Edgar out of balance.)

Gold Hairpin: Celes, Terra, Relm
I don’t mean to be sexist or anti-LGBT. There’s nothing wrong with guys wearing hair accessories. Heck, the team’s very masculine representatives of Doma and Figaro sport their ponytails with style. And I don’t restrict the use of Earrings, for that matter. But it does so happen that Gold Hairpins are typically assigned to FF females. And the legends from where Square might have gotten the idea all speak of the hairpins being worn by females, perhaps specifically magic-using females. (Plus, generally, I want to encourage the stronger magic-powered characters to use their gifts without always waiting for boss fights but I feel that Osmose or the Economizer/Celestriad is going too far, making MP restrictions meaningless.)

Imp Gear: Cyan, Setzer
To be an Imp, yet have the most impressive equipment, we must take the most seemingly dramatic and haughty characters and dress them up like the weakest creature in the Final Fantasy series. Isn’t irony fun? Of course, one could easily argue that Cyan, for all his self-righteousness, and Setzer, for all his opulence and initial ego-centrism are actually the most humble when it really counts. Cyan is downright embarrassed by his letters for the fallen soldier and Setzer uses his flashy personality to cover up the altruistic nature of his later actions.

Merit Award: Mog
I’m not sure what “merit” has to do with being able to use all sorts of equipment you couldn’t before but: (1) Mog is the most consistently altruistic character in the game (not always respectful but certainly selfless and with a positive attitude) and (2) As soul survivor of his clan, it makes a lot of sense that he be able to take up the arms of his fallen brothers, who, as we found in the early Save Terra sequence, had a very widely varying set of weapons. (The rule with the Merit Award here is that it enables Mog to use anything he normally couldn’t, even if it’s otherwise reserved for another player, as long as it doesn’t teach magic.)

Economizer/Celestriad: Sabin
Only in Sabin’s nature do we find a fighter’s focused spiritual energy that draws only upon one’s own strengths, not an artificial measurement of the spirit as a quantity. Each of his natural skills cost no more than the next. With other characters, the skills either require the use of some resource (time, money, items, MP) or depend on a random element for success or execution. The ultimate magic equalizer goes to the monk. (Practically, you may wonder why the guy that gets the worst magic, has the most powerful free skills, and already has Osmose gets the magic-is-virtually-free relic. It’s as if I’m trying to depower or minimize the impact of stuff that makes us take MP limits less seriously. And yeah, that’s exactly what I’m doing. But this MP-cheating relic is still very helpful—it basically turns Sabin into a rechargeable MP battery. True to his “let’s give others more energy and not worry about myself” nature (see Mantra/Chakra and Spiraler/Soul Spiral), he can use this relic to let other party-members with Osmose, and to some degree Celes, basically take his MP without major consequences; use the unpopular Spiraler/Soul Spiral Blitz with much less consequence; or at least use a ton of Cure spells outside battle.)

Gem Box/Soul of Thamasa: Relm
In whom else would one entrust Thamasa’s legacy? Yeah, I know she’s a brat, but it’s not like we really have a choice what with Strago’s age. Or, more simply, she’s the most powerful mage. And you’re not.

Flame Shield: Locke, Gau, Ice Shield: Terra, Strago, Thunder Shield: Gau, Strago
Locke’s physical and spiritual trial by fire (pun intended) in the Phoenix Cave certainly earns him increased mastery over that element. Gau’s chaotic but absorbent (fiery and like a lightning rod) learning ability lends to mastery of Fire and Lightning. Terra, too, has a fiery inner nature but it’s one which she has struggled to contain rather than amplify, making Ice the more appropriate element to seek. Strago has sought to be a stabilizing influence on his little ball of fire… er… granddaughter, making Ice a fitting power to pursue but his own nature belies a temper to go along with his arcane, randomized, and celestial magic—and thus Thunder completes the set. (Yeah, lots of rationalization there—just go with it.)

Force Shield: Mog, Shadow
Exactly the characters who might be capable of relying entirely on their agility and stamina to ward off physical danger while shielding their minds first and foremost, building barriers around their souls. Shadow is pretty explicit about cutting off his emotions but have you ever noticed that Mog is at least facially full of spunk and brightness even after the apparent genocide of his entire race?

Paladin Shield/Hero Shield: Setzer
When Setzer first joins in, he’s an antihero, not a hero. A shallow, self-centered jerk with no respect for any boundaries. Everyone in the group other than maybe Shadow seems more morally worthy. But then again, remember what FF4/2 requires of the Paladin/Hero of the story: full, genuine repentance from a dark beginning. And what sets Setzer apart is that, more than any other FF6 character, he utterly redeems himself. Every character that gets an esper is capable of some kind of inner growth, sometimes profoundly (that’s why we love this game). But who else starts out with motives that are 100% selfish (not to mention no reservations about kidnapping the woman he desires…yipes!), yet well before the time the Shield becomes available has dedicated literally everything he cares about, materially or sentimentally, to the greater good? And destiny has it that, were it not for him discovering his moral compass and rediscovering his courage, hope, and act of greatest love (albeit with Celes’s crucial help), air travel would be extinct and the world would be entirely doomed. Sprinkle some of that on your cereal and chew on it, eh? Then give the guy the super strong, element-defying, Ultima-teaching piece of godhood he earned. (Incidentally, anyone can wear the Cursed Shield as long as it is removed or on Setzer as soon as it is un-cursed.)

Still to come: a summary of each character's espers and exclusive items along with my rationale for orchestrating things in that direction...
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Posted: 17th December 2017 03:33
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Character Summary
Here I show an idea of how everything shakes down. But maybe I'm overlooking something important? Maybe this is all impractical? Maybe some characters work better than others? Maybe someone else would actually like to try this out?

Also, does anyone else have "Rules" (I guess "home rules" might be a better term) they want to share or compare?

Format:
Character
Espers assigned
Exclusive items assigned
Spells possible to learn as a result
(Esper stat bonuses possible as a result)

A bunch of stuff I feel like saying about how the character is likely to function.

Locke:
Kirin, Stray, Phantom, Alexander, Phoenix
Soul Edge, Flame Shield
Cure, Scan, Antidote, Regenerate, Cure2, Muddle, Imp, Float, Demi, Berserk, Vanish, Life, Fire2, Fire3, Cure3, Life2, Life3, Remedy, Dispel, Safe, Shell, Pearl
(Magic +1, MP +10%)

Locke’s character is largely shaped by his desire to be a defender and this magic set reflects that. He’s the only party member to get every Cure and Life spell. True to his thieving… er… treasure-hunting nature, he has some tricky and strategic spells in his bag as well, in addition to the nifty Soul Edge. His brute-force, offensive magic is limited to one spell type, however. Hopefully, this encourages a player to make more use of his strength and somewhat unique weaponry.

Celes:
Siren, Ramuh, Fenrir, Phoenix
Gold Hairpin, Drainer
Ice, Cure, Antidote, Imp, Scan, Sleep, Mute, Slow, Fire, Bolt, Poison, Bolt2, Safe, Ice2, Warp, X-Zone, Stop, Life, Fire3, Cure3, Life2, Life3, Haste, Muddle,
Level 40+: Berserk, Ice3, Vanish, Haste2, Pearl, Flare, Meteor
(Stamina +1, MP +30%)

Celes needs to be fairly well-rounded, as befits her young ex-general status, and considering her lonely role in the WOR. She gets a strong sampling of all three basic offensive magics and she’s got the natural stats and mild bonuses to MP (Gold Hairpin, Runic, and Fenrir level boost) to make very good use of them. On the physical attack side, her exclusive use of the Drainer makes her a prime candidate for the Atma Weapon. Her unique lack of Cure2 means she’s initially not much of a healer after her pre-apocalyptic return but that makes her reunion with Locke that much more special. Celes also gets a great strategy selection: Mute and Imp pair with her Runic ability to give her the best anti-magic options, Safe and eventually Vanish deal with physical attacks, and she gets every time-bending spell other than Slow2. Plus, if you go nuts investing XP in her, those high-powered spells make her all the more awesome without quite making her an auto-pick. Her drawbacks are a lack of good esper leveling stat-boosters and her natural flaw of an ability that’s not nearly as good as it sounds.

Edgar:
Siren, Ifrit, Carbunkl, Starlet, Ragnarok (esper or weapon)
Cursed Ring, Illumina
Sleep, Mute, Slow, Fire, Fire2, Drain, Reflect, Haste, Safe, Shell, Warp, Cure, Regenerate, Remedy, Cure2, Cure3, (Ultima, X-Zone)
(Vigor +1, Stamina +2)

It’s no secret that Edgar is overpowered in the beginning of the game and that his Tools are a lot less impressive later on. No Cure spells during the WOB is a fair handicap, while the might of Starlet and especially Ragnarok keep him very relevant in the endgame. And yes, the Ragnarok dilemma is still a pain in the rear, as it should be. He only gets one or the other (unless and until Locke steals from the penultimate bosses, in which case you better give him a Genji Glove if you went for the weapon option) so it still comes down to play style. Also, I can't even say this is totally on purpose, but how fitting is it to have our lady-chasing king with the most sexually forward female espers and the most treasure-like espers (um, and a genie, I guess)?

Sabin:
Stray, Ramuh, Shiva, Carbunkl, Odin
Economizer, Japanese Relic Combo
Muddle, Imp, Float, Bolt, Poison, Bolt2, Ice, Ice2, Osmose, Rasp, Cure, Reflect, Haste, Safe, Shell, Warp, Meteor
(Magic +1, Stamina +1, Agility +1)

Sabin’s natural, free abilities are pretty overpowered, especially after you find Duncan, so much so that his weapons and spells usually seem to make little difference. To combat these issues: 1) Osmose and the Economizer/Celestriad are there to tempt you into spell-casting far more often, 2) Being one of the three party members able to combo the martial artist relics hopefully makes his weapons relevant, and 3) His spells are designed to be useful enough as occasional alternatives to his Blitzes, but ultimately not as impressive as his friends’ spells, keeping enough balance to prevent him from being a no-brainer pick for every party. His uniquely easy MP acquisition also means Spiraler/Soul Spiral graduates to “maybe I’ll use it once in a blue moon” from “not in a million years”.

Cyan:
Kirin, Bismark, Maduin, Alexander, Raiden
Japanese Relic Combo, Imp Equipment
Cure, Scan, Antidote, Regenerate, Cure2, Bolt, Fire, Ice, Life, Bolt2, Fire2, Ice2, Remedy, Dispel, Safe, Shell, Pearl, Imp, Quick
(Vigor +2, Magic +1, Vigor +2)

Early on, a fairly well-rounded basic magic selection and being one of the three martial artist relic users hopefully helps make up for his famously annoying Bushido ability, while, later on, Imp Equipment can bide your time and save up MP for Pearl. In the endgame, Quick solves the Bushido charging problem entirely and makes the character so many of us complain about a juggernaut if you time things right. Some respect for the samurai knight!

Gau:
Kirin, Siren, Unicorn, Terrato
Thunder Shield, Flame Shield
Cure, Scan, Antidote, Regenerate, Cure2, Sleep, Mute, Slow, Fire, Remedy, Dispel, Safe, Shell, Fire2, Quake, Bolt2, Whirlwind, Quarter
(HP +30%)

Yes, if you invest enough time on the Veldt, Gau still becomes ridiculously overpowered. But because Esper learning is more limited with these rules, spending time on the Veldt just to pump up Gau is a much bigger sacrifice (whatcha gonna do with all them magic ability points?). Grinding for XP instead (especially for Terra and Celes) is just as justifiable if you’re gonna go that nuts. Meanwhile, Rage is still a powerful ability with these rules even with mediocre time investment, so his magic set, while useful, is intended to be a little on the meeker side (and inclusive of spells that are useful regardless of the Rages he gets).

Setzer:
Ramuh, Stray, Sraphim, Phantom, Tritoch
Paladin Shield, Imp Gear
Bolt, Poison, Bolt2, Muddle, Imp, Float, Cure, Regenerate, Cure2, Life, Remedy, Demi, Berserk, Vanish, Bolt3, Fire3, Ice3; Ultima
(Stamina +1, Magic +1, Stamina +2, MP +10%, Magic +2)

Slot is helpful and sometimes fun early on, but gets old very fast. A fairly well-rounded set of magic helps compensate a little for the mid-game but you’ll probably wind up under-using him at the end of the WOB. Which is fine, because he becomes a powerhouse in the endgame (Fixed Dice, Ultima, third tier attack spells), despite his mediocre support magic. One defensive esper is plenty for a guy that thrives on risk and flash.

Terra:
Shoat, Palidor, Raiden, Bahamut
Gold Hairpin, Ice Shield
Cure, Fire, Antidote, Drain, Life, Fire2, Bio, Break, Doom, Warp, Ice2, Haste, Slow, Float, Haste2, Slow2, Cure2, Quick, Dispel, Flare,
Level 40+: Fire3, Life2, Pearl, Break, Quarter, Meltdown, Ultima
(HP +10%, Vigor +2, HP +50%)

Terra’s abilities naturally get a big boost when she gets Morph and another big boost when she gets the WOR Morph upgrade. With these rules, she also gets a giant leap in the endgame when she gets Quick, practically giving her Morph double potency again. She doesn’t get too many huge spells to take major advantage of that though (Flare, Meltdown, and Ultima don’t benefit from the Morph boost), and her Gold Hairpin is the only thing staving off a lot of MP drain. Hopefully, this encourages more strategic use of middle-ranking spells unless and until you grind her up to superstar status.

Mog:
Golem, ZoneSeek, Fenrir, Palidor, Bahamut
Merit Award, Force Shield
Cure2, Safe, Stop, Rasp, Osmose, Shell, Warp, X-Zone, Haste, Slow, Float, Haste2, Slow2, Flare
(Stamina +2, Magic +2, MP +30%, HP +50%)

Keeping poor Mog away from the basic attack spell types is designed to encourage more use of his Dances, which give him more variety than most of the other characters although not a lot of punch in the endgame. Hopefully, Osmose, Flare, every space-time-manipulation spell, and being the only Spear user to get Palidor, not to mention the only Merit Award and of course Moogle Charm user, help make up for that.

Strago:
Ifrit, ZoneSeek, Sraphim
Ice Shield, Thunder Shield
Fire, Fire2, Drain, Osmose, Rasp, Shell, Cure, Regenerate, Cure2, Life, Remedy, Bolt2, Ice2, Imp
(Vigor +1, Magic +2)

Lore spells give a disproportionate amount of variety in an environment like this setup, at least used by players that know the game well. For balance, Strago thus gets a mostly shoddy esper list. However, Osmose is a very big deal for him, and the basic attack spells, along with his Lores, make for a very comprehensive set of spell types: He can take advantage of every weakness other than Poison (and even then, he could use the Poison Rod if a physical attack is realistic). Make the blue magic count!

Relm:
Bismark, Maduin, Unicorn, Starlet, Tritoch
Gem Box, Gold Hairpin
Fire, Ice, Bolt, Life, Fire2, Ice2, Bolt2, Cure2, Remedy, Dispel, Safe, Shell, Cure, Regenerate, Cure3, Bolt3, Ice3, Fire3
(Vigor +2, Magic +1, Stamina +2, Magic +2)

Everyone seems to hate Sketch (and I’m not a big fan either) but I think it’s a fun complement to the somewhat purposefully boring set of basic spells she gets for her brief time in the WOB (said boring spells still being very useful due to her supreme magic stat). By the time you get her back in the WOR, though, you’re well on your way to having such a strong user of basic magic, you’ll think twice about overusing Control. If you’re facing undead, frozen, hot, underwater, or mechanical foes, she’s your gal. Even if not, her sheer metaphysical power will often be hard to pass up. It's also satisfying to match her feistier-than-she-looks persona by having a little girl using spellcasting 101-type stuff to completely shred the baddies.

Shadow: Shiva, Shoat, Golem, Terrato, Crusader
Force Shield, Japanese Combo
Ice, Ice2, Osmose, Rasp, Cure, Bio, Break, Doom, Cure2, Safe, Stop, Quake, Quarter, Whirlwind, Shell, Meteor, Meltdown
(HP +10%, HP +30%, MP +50%)

Here, we purposefully deny Shadow basic magic that makes his skeans redundant, but he gets a pretty useful bunch of (of course) mostly-offensive espers. Osmose and the martial arts relic combos might even keep you from overusing Throw. Later on, the loner is going to have to cooperate with other key party members to make good use of the powerful, self-sacrificing spells he gets in the endgame. And yes, I deny him absolute Fire, Earth, and Wind protection on purpose. That would be too easy and overpowered. Also, this guy is definitely not about saving his own butt, to say the least.

Umaro:
So, um, yeah. He still sucks. He’s not as bad as normal because his teammates don’t have as many abilities as they do without these rules whereas he still gets just as many moves as he normally does… all four of them… Another plus is that without endless esper grinding it's more painless to use a character without magic learning ability. But yeah, he still sucks. Eh, just use him once or twice for kicks (maybe in the Tower of Fanatics/Magic?).

Gogo:
Hard to keep him from being overpowered in this environment, where his variety is even more extremely beyond what anyone else gets. He doesn’t get any exclusives, but that doesn’t handicap enough for his library of awesome. Still, since you get him so close to the endgame, is that really so bad? Also, if you really want to take full advantage of his variety, especially regarding magic, you have to weigh your choices for the other three in his party pretty carefully.

So what do y'all think? Recommendations? Stuff that works? Other ideas?
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Posted: 18th December 2017 05:10

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Chocobo Knight
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Throwing out a few random thoughts, it's not my place to tell people how to play their game though -

No spell grinding: Just work with the spell points you earn as you progress. Allocation won't be as daunting with fewer espers per character anyways. Also, any magic you're learning while picking up Rages, Dances, or Lores is OK under my interpretation.
I find even in a normal game, I won't buy consumables. Instead, I find ways to win only with what I find, steal, or win.
Dummo, consider not explicitly grinding battles to uncurse the Cursed Shield?

Limiting Ultima to people with no MP restoration or ways to lower the casting cost does help keep spamming it in check, good call.

I grinned a bit when I saw you gave Cyan the three espers he's restricted to in the "Brave New World" mod.

Sabin and Cyan are among the worst characters to use Offering + Genji Glove. I suppose this does keep the combo's power in check.

At first, I thought Mog has no practical use for the Merit Award; there's little reason not to use a Snow Muffler and be a tank. Then I realized he can utilize it to get perfect M. Block; Edgar being the only other character to be able to do so under your parameters. And hey, there's nothing wrong with being thematic.

Gogo being able to use Merit Award makes thematic sense. Balance, on the other hand...

Just stream of consciousness thoughts here.
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Posted: 18th December 2017 08:40

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Quote (Locke Unlocked @ 17th December 2017 01:28)
Thanks for the thoughtful response, Rangers51. Low level runs never held much appeal to me for some reason, although I've done Zelda minimalist style. When I first did that I thought I was the only OCD nut who did that sort of thing! rolleyes-straight.gif

The thing is, I'm not really looking just to up the difficulty. I want there to be a point to everything (well, as much as possible): the character abilities, the spells, the items, etc. I've never liked having stuff in the inventory, or worse, characters, just taking up space.

Also, when it comes to a game like FF6, where the story is so resonant you can pretty much learn something new every time you play, I'd like to play in a way that complements the narrative experience.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and start posting my own way-too-thought-out "rules" in a moment or two...

Congrats. You do have experience after all. cool.gif

The scenarios you mentioned wouldn't be challenging enough for some. I'm playing a slightly easier game than normal.

I play anything reasonable under level 19. I could do as you mention easily but if it doesn't make the play harder then it's kinda a waste of time.

The engine to the game is slow enough to where you could beat it at a reasonable level with 'Cure' learned on every character.

I might try it your way or another way if I get all the time in the world. biggrin.gif

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Posted: 18th December 2017 15:12

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Behemoth
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Quote (DragonKnight Zero)
Limiting Ultima to people with no MP restoration or ways to lower the casting cost does help keep spamming it in check, good call.


I usually never use Ultima. The last time I played, I forced myself to use, at most, Firaga/Blizzaga/Thundaga. That gives more challenge, because they're weaker, and the elemental damage might backfire.

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Post #214227
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Posted: 19th December 2017 04:17
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Remember that I'm not just going for making the game harder. There are a million and one ways to do that. My thing is that I want there to be motivation to actually use that which the game provides (but that we ignore in a normal game), which hopefully encourages a more holistic, diverse, balanced, and overall fun experience.

Responses to DKZ inline with *:

Quote (DragonKnight Zero @ 17th December 2017 21:10)
Throwing out a few random thoughts, it's not my place to tell people how to play their game though -

*Au contraire! It's totally your place! Kinda the point of the thread--I mean, I dumped tons of arrogant look-how-good-my-way-is instructions trying to look definitive and whatnot. I mean, as long as you don't tell someone, "You're playing the wrong way," right?

No spell grinding: Just work with the spell points you earn as you progress.  Allocation won't be as daunting with fewer espers per character anyways.  Also, any magic you're learning while picking up Rages, Dances, or Lores is OK under my interpretation.

*Oh, I wouldn't play any other way under what I laid out. I don't see the need to make that it's own rule.

I find even in a normal game, I won't buy consumables.  Instead, I find ways to win only with what I find, steal, or win.

*That's not a bad rule. Doesn't fit that well with my whole "let there be a purpose for everything" paradigm... Sometimes I've thought of "one of each item per store" for other FF scenarios and that might work here as well. I don't like the idea of making Locke (and the Thief Ring) that indispensable--he's already kinda mandatory for dungeons with bosses that have unique steals. Also, those Fenix Downs in the early game (and here for parties without Life) are kinda a big deal. Same thing goes for FF4 btw, everything other than Fenix Downs in that game doesn't need to be bought.

Dummo, consider not explicitly grinding battles to uncurse the Cursed Shield?

*Again, no rule necessary methinks. Limiting the Shield to one character also means there's no need to obsess about unlocking it early for Ultima-leaning purposes. So I wouldn't go grinding on Solitary Island. In fact, I don't think I've done so on normal runs. But some people actually like grinding.

*I guess the point I'm going for is that I'm not trying to dictate a strategy, I'm trying to erect boundaries within which fun, thematically resonant, and diverse strategies might thrive.

Limiting Ultima to people with no MP restoration or ways to lower the casting cost does help keep spamming it in check, good call.

*Thanks, I appreciate that perhaps more than you know. That was a very tough thing to balance with the other things I tried to keep consistent. Just making sure that the esper spells each mattered was hard enough.

I grinned a bit when I saw you gave Cyan the three espers he's restricted to in the "Brave New World" mod.

*No kidding...!O_o  biggrin.gif  I was initially very intrigued by BNW but I got turned off it when I saw that the spell learning was thematically counterintuitive. I didn't know how it would all shake out when I designed it, but I knew from the start there were certain pairings and non-pairings that just make too much sense from a thematic standpoint alone--Locke gets Phoenix, Relm gets Starlet, Shadow gets Shoat and nothing too cute, Cyan gets Kirin (Antidote) and Alexander, etc. But like most characters, I gave Cyan five--which are the three BNW uses? I'm guessing Raiden is one of them...

Sabin and Cyan are among the worst characters to use Offering + Genji Glove.  I suppose this does keep the combo's power in check.

*Yeah, I saw on another thread that Offering affects your physical damage output even for non-fight options. But the best Blitzes and some of the better Bushido's are magic-based, so it's still a viable option. The bigger question is why waste the combo on these guys in the first place, which is why I force it. So yeah, part of it is to keep the combo from being overused and the other is to make the martial artists' weapons matter.

At first, I thought Mog has no practical use for the Merit Award; there's little reason not to use a Snow Muffler and be a tank.  Then I realized he can utilize it to get perfect M. Block; Edgar being the only other character to be able to do so under your parameters.  And hey, there's nothing wrong with being thematic.

*Funny, I didn't even realize the M.Block possibility. Cool. Don't forget weapons though. There are tons of 'em with special bonuses that may be worth foregoing whatever spear he's carrying, even Aura Lance, and even more worth it if you've got Genji Gloves. Drainer, Valiant Knife, Thief Knife, Fixed Dice, Man-Eater to name but a few...

Gogo being able to use Merit Award makes thematic sense.  Balance, on the other hand...

*Heh, I suppose it would, if you ignore the actual name of the relic anyway. But yeah, no need to guild that lily! I wonder if there's a way of restricting Gogo further for balance without actually stripping him of a command the game gives him... Now, that you started my cogs going in that direction... Ideas for that, anyone?

Just stream of consciousness thoughts here.

*But very helpful!  thumbup.gif
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Posted: 19th December 2017 04:54

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Behemoth
Posts: 2,674

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Quote (Locke Unlocked)
Remember that I'm not just going for making the game harder. There are a million and one ways to do that. My thing is that I want there to be motivation to actually use that which the game provides (but that we ignore in a normal game), which hopefully encourages a more holistic, diverse, balanced, and overall fun experience.


... It's already one of the greatest games ever made. I used to think the same way, that it was only the story that made the game great. But it's not. I think the game already possesses all of those things you mentioned without tricks.

This post has been edited by BlitzSage on 19th December 2017 04:55

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Post #214249
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Posted: 19th December 2017 06:00
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I hear you BlitzSage. I did kinda make it seem like it was only the story for me. It's not. I agree with you on that point. There's a lot about the gameplay that works. But I think the things that work best do tie into the narrative. It's not always the story itself, but caring about the characters makes a big difference.

E.g.: Having Terra and Celes be the Ryu and Ken of the group is bleeping awesome. Ripping into a tough enemy with the Atma Weapon is just so rewarding both because they're well-balanced and the swords are generally well-designed AND because they're so easy to root for. Mog burying the enemies with a lucky series of moves in a dance--it's kinda hard not to smile like a dork because it's cute and hardcore at the same time, just like the character. Cyan, on the other hand... It's just so frustrating because he's got the old school morals and you see his big tragedy in real time off the bat--I want to feel his righteous anger as I pile on the hurt... and what we get is a slow moving bar that practically forces my eyes to roll. It's that kinda thing I most want to correct.
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Posted: 19th December 2017 19:54

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Behemoth
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I agree that they could've done something better with Cyan. But I usually do Cyan's dream, and then the Ancient Castle later, so Cyan can have the Offering. I treat it as if he's upgraded after putting his demons in the past. The image of him double-wielding katanas, and attacking eight times in a row in a mad rush, that's pretty awesome.

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Post #214257
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Posted: 20th December 2017 07:11
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Ahh... now that's the kind of sentiment I'm going for! flag-red.gif

So for your "rules" you basically restrict Offering to a post-Wrexsoul Cyan and to heck with the whole bushido thing? Not a bad idea...

"...And this one's for my son! And this one's for that stupid laugh! And this one's for using so many $#@&ing machines! And this one's for making me swear! And this one's for..."
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Posted: 21st December 2017 08:01

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Chocobo Knight
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Cyan gets Bismark, Kirin, and Alexander in Brave New World.

Gogo already has low offense and defense stats and equipment selection. Doesn't seem needed to restrict him farther. You could limit his command options to what his teammates have but that sounds unfun.

It kind of makes thematic sense to have Shadow dual wielding all the time because that's what ninjas do and stuff. Not so good for survivability; magic especially will destroy him.

Imp warrior Setzer with Fixed Dice and Offering looks fun and very difficult to hurt. Though that's always been available in an unmodded game; nice to see it's still an option.
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Posted: 21st December 2017 16:02

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Quote (Locke Unlocked @ 20th December 2017 03:11)
Ahh... now that's the kind of sentiment I'm going for! flag-red.gif

So for your "rules" you basically restrict Offering to a post-Wrexsoul Cyan and to heck with the whole bushido thing? Not a bad idea...

"...And this one's for my son! And this one's for that stupid laugh! And this one's for using so many $#@&ing machines! And this one's for making me swear! And this one's for..."

I think it's one of those situations that makes perfect gameplay and thematic sense. In terms of gameplay, he's meant to be a fighter. Offering allows him to be a steady source of offense. Thematically, Cyan through most of the game is distraught, and he's also worn down. Add to that his approach of patience in weathering the imperial attack, and the slow-moving sword techniques make thematic sense. They also make sense in a non-magic world, since a world without magic would make his techniques among the strongest skills there is.

Offering is his way of adapting to the new magic fighting landscape, and it also matches Cyan's transition from retainer to a soldier of vengeance. Genji Glove and Offering is his way of fighting with reckless abandon, disregarding defense.

Quote (DragonKnight Zero)
It kind of makes thematic sense to have Shadow dual wielding all the time because that's what ninjas do and stuff. Not so good for survivability; magic especially will destroy him.


I usually give the other two Genji Gloves to Shadow and Locke. Shadow because of what you said, and Locke to give him some offense while also stealing. I then pair them with mages that are capable of healing, or I put Cure Rings on them.


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Post #214271
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Posted: 31st December 2017 09:43

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I know this doesn't really fit in with the thread as I like to maxout. I give Locke the Gengi Glove because of double Wing Edge. It increases stats. The speed stat by 7 and 7 (14 total).

If you were to max out speed on every character I think Locke would be the highest. It makes him the most formidable and winning character. Because he can execute the first command and more of them. IE: The Relic Gem Box and the magic spell Quick spamming.

Edit-I'll try to contribute though. Has the magic from equipment been mentioned? How about using magic only from ways other than Espers. No equip Esper run?

This post has been edited by Eagle Caller on 31st December 2017 09:48

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