Op-Ed: The Difference Between Weapon Classes and Jobs.
Armoury: A Collection of Weapons and Tools in a single location.
One of the largest misconceptions flowing around the FFXIV fanbase, at least amongst the English and European Demographics, is that the Weapon Based Classes from the Armoury System in Final Fantasy XIV are interchangeable with the “Traditional Jobs” from previous Final Fantasy Job systems. The fact is this is not the case – and was not meant to be the case – and is worth a look at the Armoury System as it currently stands so that we can better understand and anticipate upcoming changes.
Traditional Jobs on the other hand are a collection of skills organized to allow for an individual to perform a specific role. Jobs, unlike Weapon Classes, are not (by standard definitions) limited to one particular class of weapons. A Warrior (damage dealing role), while possibly preferring Two-Handed Axes can (historically) be proficient with One-Hand Axes, Shields, Swords, Two-Handed Swords, Spears and Scythes, Knuckles, and even Clubs (they can also use Bows, Crossbows, Boomerangs, and other throwing weapons).
In Final Fantasy XIV each Weapon belongs to a collection of other weapons of its type to form a “Class”. When equipping a weapon from a class of weapons, you become a Weapon Specialist of that class. Training with a class of weapon allows you to learn skills associated with that class, but more fundamentally, determines a combat style. So weapon selection determines the style or type of damage you deal as well as a selection of smaller niche traits native only to certain classes of weapons. Axes, for example, use wide broad swings and you gain a bonus when you allow yourself to become balanced in place.
Weapon Classes, therefore, should not be confused with Jobs from previous Final Fantasy Job systems. Weapon Classes – on their own – does not define a role like Traditional Jobs from Previous Final Fantasy games. Instead, it is the grouping of skills which allows the recreation of most of the Traditional Jobs.
Why the confusion? Perhaps it is because of how the English Localization was done. The Japanese Nomenclature for Gladiator consisted of 士 which translates to “User” or “Specialist”, 術 which translates to “Art”, as well as the Weapon itself 剣 “Sword”. This became 剣術士 (ken-jutsu-shi) which literally means “Sword Art User” or “User of the Sword Arts.” But simply calling them “Sword User” would be too bland to most English speakers so they added flair. 剣 translates into Sword in English. Sword in Latin is Gladius. Add the latin -ātor, meaning “User of”, and we are left with Gladiator. Gladiator is certainly a more palatable name than Sword User.
Other classes follow the same pattern:
剣術士 → Sword User｜Sword User→Gladius (Latin: Sword)+ -ātor (Latin: Agent) → Gladiator
格闘士 → Hand-to-Hand User｜Fist User → Pugil (Latin: Fist) + -ist (Latin: Practitioner) → Pugilist
弓術士 → Bow User｜Bow User → Arcus (Latin: Bow) + -er (Defines a User from his Tool) → Archer
槍術士 → Lance User｜Lance User → Lancea (Latin: Lance) + er (Defines a User from his Tool) → Lancer
Marauder branches away from latin, instead seeming to draw on French (Maurader is a word of french origin) and the Franks with their menacing Francisca axes. So the “Axe User” gets rather loosely translated as “Marauder”.
(Admittedly, this does not translate as nicely with the Magic Disciplines – but for our purposes – this doesn’t really matter. Instead of being focused on weapons, the magic disciplines are tied to the magic distribution. Conjurer magic is distributed through large Circular Areas of Effect, while Thaumaturge magic is distributed through a Cone Area of Effect.)
So rather than talking about a Sword User – i.e. nothing more than one skilled with a sword, we are talking about a “Gladiator” with the “Job” connotations that term comes with and trying to pigeonhole the Gladiator into one of the classic jobs – but it doesn’t work because the Gladiator skills don’t correspond to a particular classic job.
Instead, we need to recreate the classic jobs with the existing skills, ignoring the weapon classes required to learn those skills. For Instance, to recreate a “Paladin” in its Classical Job sense, you will need White Magic, Defensive Abilities, and Enmity Control. The beauty of the current system is that once you acquire the proper skills, if you wanted to you could “Make a Paladin” who is skilled in any weapon. While some weapons might make you somewhat more effective, with Paladin skills set, you are a Paladin.
What does this mean?
It means a “Gladiator” (i.e. Sword Specialist) can be a Paladin, Warrior, Thief, Dark Knight, Ninja, Mystic Knight, Samurai, etc. Or, looking at it the other way, a Paladin can be a Sword Specialist (“Gladiator”), Lance Specialist (“Lancer), or even Circle Area Magic Specialist (“Conjurer”).
So the common belief that “Classes are Jobs” (as we knew them from Final Fantasy history) is incorrect and instead it should be “Any Job can specialize in any weapon” – and vice versa. We have a linear, game implemented system of weapon specialties, and a very non-lineral, open “class” system, where the player has to define (and verbalize) their class.
So how does this play into what we can expect to see in the future?
We know Yoshida wants to define roles and jobs. We know players want defined roles and jobs. We can do this without redoing everything (including moving around all the skills) – although the current terminology should change.
First, we just need a system layered on top of the Armoury System that provides bonuses for following the path of a Job (i.e. a collection of skills which defines a role). Add certain skills, such as White Magic, Defensive Abilities, and Enmity Control skills, and get the title of “Paladin” and certain Paladin-esq bonuses.
Next, get rid of the current names – and use the more literal translations from the original Japanese. It makes no sense to call someone a “Gladiator Paladin.” Go back to “Sword Master” (or Specialist), Axe Master, and Hand-to-Hand Master, etc. The current terms are loaded with too much baggage that is simply inapplicable to what is learned when equipping these weapons, or the role of these weapon masters in a party.
So what would we be left with? A player that equips Paladin skills gets Paladin bonuses, the title of “Paladin” – and can equip whatever weapon he/she desires. Some weapon classes might provide some bonuses, but provided they are relatively minor, the player is in control of his appearance and play style, while still playing a defined, and known, role. So the current system defines the weapon of choice and, notably, the learning of skills, but the job system layer would define the usage of the skills.
Other benefits? This would allow for Job-specific armor and weapon-specialty specific armor (in theory, if wanted). It would allow searching by job/roles. It removes weapon selection and specialization from choice of jobs.