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The Lore Train: Cinematics And Primals

20 Nov 2012

Deep within the bowels of the localization forums lie the shiniest of gems. They are the elements that make up the the world of Hydaelyn. They are lore.

Have you ever wondered about the Hyur and his companions in the opening cinematic? What year it is? Why Limsa Lominsa doesn’t look like Limsa Lominsa?

What about the happenings of the battle of Silvertear Skies where the dragon Midgardsormr cuddles the Garlean flagship and then explodes into Primals?

Did you know that Ascians don’t have shadows? Now you do!

And finally, what’s the deal with Atomos?

All of these questions and more have been answered by Fernehalwes on the official forums!

Greetings all! Grab a cup of Windurstian tea and pull up your chairs, because the lore train has arrived and is mixing metaphors faster than I can put a notch on the torch in my belt.

I’d like to start off by apologizing. Once for taking this long to reply (a perfect storm of Alpha Version translation, having to wait for the End of an Era trailer to be released, and sitting with my thumbs tied behind my back while waiting for the Lorelord to return from his journey deep into vacationland, kept me off the forums longer than I would have liked), and a second time for probably missing some of the questions buried in the 200+ posts found in the thread. Finally, I’ll apologize a third time because some of your questions, I was not given the clearance to answer. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll never know the truth about these issues. It simply means, the answers are coming in 2.0, and Yoshi-P, the Lorelord, and his faithful minions don’t want to spill the beans before they can be properly planted in the oven.

Okay, but enough with what I didn’t/couldn’t/cannot do. Let’s get to what I can tell you. And I’m going to start at the beginning—the CG trailer for 1.0.

The Midlander male, Miqo’te female, and Elezen male you see in the 1.0 opening are a party simply looking to make some quick gil, so they do what most other parties (at the time of the original release) do—head to their local Adventurers’ Guild for some levequests. The three big questions here are:

1. When is this?
2. Where are they?
3. What on Ear—uh, Hydaelyn happens to the Midlander?

1. The answer to the first is, 1572 (close to Eorzean present day). This is backed by the fact that the three members have been blessed with the Echo (more on this further down). It was revealed in the main scenario that most adventurers with this gift received the power after witnessing a starshower—the same one you do at the game’s onset…which is defined as 1572.

Before I move onto question two, allow me to veer off onto a little tangent: there have been several threads about Hydaelyn’s timeline not matching up with Earth’s. If it has been two years since the release of the game, why is it still 1572 in Eorzea at the time of patch 1.23? This is a dilemma faced by a lot of MMOs. To allow everyone that joins the game, regardless of when they do, to experience the full story, there simply has to be a stoppage of time. Okay, not really a stoppage, but more of a time bubble in which a span of about a year is contained. This is why that for the duration of 1.0, Eorzea was in a perpetual 1572. Think of it as the same thing that’s happening in the Simpsons. 23 seasons gone and Lisa’s still 8, Maggie’s still a baby, and the gummy Venus still tastes oh, so sacrelicious. Pushing time along would also mean changing 1000s of lines of NPC dialogue, updating quests, webpages, etc. with every patch. Meaning it would take more than double the time to release updates, and I’m sure most people wouldn’t want to wait. In a book, movie, offline game, a strict timeline can be set without too many complications. In an online title, there are just too many variables, so we ask that you bear with our bending of space-time. It’s for the greater good!

Now back to business…

2. The answer to the second question is where we encounter our first main hiccup. Many have commented that the setting has to be Ishgard because no other Adventurers’ Guild has its own aetheryte. However, when looking closely at the guildleves that the Midlander brings back from the counter, we can see that the plates have Limsa Lominsa engraved in the frames, which can only mean that it was the thalassocracy that issued them. The reason behind the flub is fairly simple—the Visual Works team that designed the first opening movie began work on it far before the in-game layout of Limsa’s Adventurers’ Guild was finalized. By the time the map team had decided that the aetheryte was going in a separate plaza to help cut down on congestion of the Adventurers’ Guild, the CGI was too far along to change without setting the completion date back, and so they left it as-is. (This also explains the Miqo’te eye discrepancy. Nice catch, by the way!)

3. You guys hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head in your speculation regarding what happens with the Midlander. As was stated above, all three have the power of the Echo, allowing them to experience the past, interact with it, but ultimately not change the outcome of anything important (the wind created by a battleaxe swing will not start a hurricane in Garlemald). While sifting through guildleves, our well-groomed Midlander is flung back into another person’s memory about a simple job to kill a morbol. The job ultimately takes an unexpected twist that ends in the party witnessing one of the most spectacular battles of the Sixth Astral Era.

So, then we hit out next batch of important questions:

1. Where does the Echo take the Midlander?
2. How far back does it take him?
3. What in the Seven Hells is going on?

Here is the Widow’s Cliff Notes version:

The Midlander journeys back approximately 10 years and appears in a location near Mor Dhona. After helping a party (Lalafell female, Roegadyn male, Elezen female) finish their levequest objectives (slaying the morbol), an imperial juggernaut appears before they can access the aetherial node and collect their reward. The Midlander accidentally gets tossed onto the back of one of these machines, and gets carried up into the sky, where he witnesses the Garleans fight with the dragon Midgardsormr in the Battle of Silvertear Skies. Though the great dragon is able to destroy the Garlean flagship, he perishes in the process, and the seal which he protected (guarding the concentration of aether beneath Silvertear Lake) is broken, allowing the beast tribes access to this energy, which they use to freely summon their primals (as taught to them by the mysterious paragons). The Garleans, having lost their flagship and sensing the presence of something more powerful than their remaining forces can handle, retreat back to Ala Mhigo. Meanwhile, with the fall of the Keeper of the Lake, the aetherial balance in the area gets thrown out of whack, transforming the once lush area into a crystalline wasteland—Silvertear Falls now dried up.

Some have theorized that the Midlander takes over the body of a fourth party member, and witnesses what that person saw. While an interesting theory, this, unfortunately, is not how the Echo works. There may have been a fourth member around earlier, but he was gone by the time the Midlander arrived (probably returned to his home point after getting KO’d and accidentally dropping his bow). It is because the party of three keep watching the battle (from the ground) after defeating the morbol that the Midlander is able to experience it, albeit from a better vantage point. His experience ends when he gets knocked from the juggernaut and hits the ground (because you cannot die in an Echo-induced memory).

So that brings us back to 1572.
The Midlander is obviously intrigued by what he has experienced. Up until now, he’d never partied with anyone who could wield such powerful Blizzard magicks, and he’d sure as hells never partied with anyone who could hop up onto a morbol and whack it across the head. These animations simply do not exist! And so he decides right then and there that he will search out this party of three and add them to his linkshell, so that they may adventure together in the future.

Fast forward to the Battle of Carteneau. Several moons have passed since the Midlander located the party from the past. They have all pledged their allegiance to a Grand Company, learned of the Meteor project from Cid, heard the questionable prophecies of Urianger, collected colored eggs from thieving spriggans, unlocked new jobs in cleverly named quests, slain a trio of aether-hungry primals (okay, two aether-hungry primals and one super-cuddly primal), and bested a maniacal legatus. Along the way, they lose the services of one Elezen male, but this does not detract them from taking up their blades in one final battle to save the realm from Dalamud. They fight valiantly, but not even the prayers of a thousand thousand (that’s one million) souls can contain Bahamut’s rage, and so the Archon, Louisoix, sends the party into a timeless rift, where they wait until the realm is reborn.

So yes, the Midlander male, Miqo’te female, Roegadyn male, Elezen female, and Lalafell female in the recent trailers are in fact the same ones that appeared in the 1.0 trailer! (Yes, the black mage is the Elezen female from the morbol party, not the snooty male from the Midlander’s party. The robe & hat conceal some of her more distinguishing features, and we all know there was no bust size adjustment feature back in 1.0).

But that still leaves one question—was the party an actual party, or were they merely symbols meant to represent you, the players? Well, you can breathe easy knowing they are both. They all ventured into Eorzea at the same time as you did. They all did similar quests, and lived through similar adventures. They exist as your characters exist (in a virtual world-sort of existence). The fact that you haven’t come across them is probably the same reason you haven’t come across my character, Amanda Hugginkyss (or maybe you have? /wink). They’re just somewhere else. Though, maybe you’ll stumble across their party in the future. Or maybe you won’t. How’s that for committing to an answer?

Okay, so for the most part, you guys had pretty much figured out what was going on through discussion. However, like a salmon laying all her eggs in one basket, the thread spawned a roe-bust cornucopia of new queries (okay, I’ll stop now…really).

I’ll try to field some of the major ones:

1. The beast tribes have their primals, so what about the 5 races? Do they have their own? Is it Siren? It’s Siren, right? It doesn’t matter if you tell me it’s not Siren, I know it’s Siren. (Please tell me it’s Siren…)

This is a touchy subject. I can tell you that you’ve done a remarkable job of picking up a lot of the subtle hints that were dropped in the 1.0 story (the Ifrit diatribe being an excellent example), but the story was served to you incomplete (in addition to being served over a period of two years), and so you’ve been left to fill in the blanks yourselves. This has lead to a lot of unnecessary confusion, and fixing this for ARR has been one of the main things that Yoshi-P has been preaching to the new quest team. In other words, release more info, with fewer gaps in-between, so that players can better follow the story. So what we’ll see happen in ARR is an influx of quests that try to paint a better picture of what was going on in 1.0. That means, for info regarding this ‘another’ of which Ifrit speaks and the ‘paragons’ who supposedly taught the beast tribes how to summon the primals, you’ll have to wait until ARR begins.

What I have been allowed to say is, the Sanguine Sirens are different from the sirens which are mentioned in the blacksmith/armorer class quests, and both are different from Siren of Final Fantasies past (who has not been mentioned in-game). And then there’s the provisional artwork that was recently released…

So wait, does this mean there is no Siren primal? Well, that remains to be seen.

2. Is that Leviathan in Limsa Lominsa’s opening?

No, that is not Leviathan. It’s a sea serpent. This is explained (somewhat convolutedly) in the Limsa Lominsa storyline. The sahagins do still worship Leviathan, and he being their primal, it is only a matter of time before the fishbacks summon him to wreak some havoc on the thalassocracy.

But! But! In It Kills with Fire it is mentioned that the Company of Heroes slew Leviathan! Yes, the CoH did slay him, and have been doing primal raids ever since they started appearing. But as you all found out fighting Ifrit and Garuda, defeating a primal doesn’t mean the primal is dead. You’ve only caused the beast tribes to waste some of their precious crystal supplies in summoning the primal again.

3. What are the Ascians and what do they represent?

ARR will feature more on these guys, so for now you’ll have to be content with knowing there’s more to know… Anonymoose made a good point in bringing up that Ascian means ‘shadowless’. Perhaps you might find something interesting if you go back through the 1.0 cutscenes and look for people without shadows…

4. Do the Twelve exist? Are the Archons from the Circle of Knowing actually the Twelve? Are the primals and the Twelve one in the same (er, twelve in the same)?

More info on the gods of Eorzea and how both the Twelve and the primal fit into the whole celestial scheme of things will be revealed in ARR, but even then things will remain hazy. I mean, it’s religion. It’s hazy by design. In one age, a guy who single-handedly kills a microchu to save a girl is a good Samaritan. The story gets told by a thousand different people, each time changing just a little, but each time becoming more epic (the microchu becomes an ochu, the ochu becomes ten ochus, the girl becomes a princess, and so-on). In the next age, he’s a hero. In the next, he’s a saint. In the next, he’s a god, smiting ochus with levinbolts from high atop a snowy peak. And what of those people who possess magic or technology that is beyond the comprehension of the commonfolk? Would they not appear as gods? And what about those powerful entities who fancy themselves as gods, and use people gullible enough to follow them to obtain what they desire (power, gold, etc.)? And what of the actual gods, who normally don’t give a hoot about the ants crawling about their realms, but will intervene when it amuses them? Hopefully the story in ARR will help categorize who falls into what slot.

I can mention why primals are referred to as primals, though. It is not because they are underdeveloped, younger deities, but because the beast tribes tend to believe that they were the ones who created them, the world, and everything. They are the primal forms of existence.

5. What happened to Atmos?

Thanks to the havoc wreaked on the planet’s aetherial flow by good old Dalamud (Bahamut) the rift between Hydaelyn and the void (which up until now had been small, and reserved to places like Dzemael Darkhold) grew extremely large in that turbulent period of time leading up to the Battle of Carteneau. This allowed far more, far larger, and far more powerful enemies a free pass into Eorzea—a hotbed of aetherial energy, also known as a voidsent’s favorite snack. Atomos was one of these creatures. So, what happened to him? That remains to be seen in ARR.

6. Do the dragons of Dravania worship a primal? And if so, who? Is it Nidhogg? Midgardsormr? Someone else?

Yoshi-p dropped a few bombs last week revealing that both Midgardsormr and Nidhogg were not primals, but dragon ‘kings.’ However, he also revealed that the dragons are a beast tribe…and that beast tribes have their own gods (primals)… So…

7. When did Eorzeans start using the Garlean term of “beastmen” that allowed it to become a perfectly acceptable term attracting absolutely no backlash by the time we start playing the game? And if this term could be so well engrained, why aren’t we calling the primals “eikons” with equal willingness? It seems a bit of a contradiction.

It depends on who you ask. The people of Ul’dah, who have branded the beast tribes as an ultimate threat (as their presence infringes on profits) are more likely to side with the Empire’s take on the issue, and resort to racial epithets conveniently provided by the empire via propaganda (fliers from the sky, hired rabble rousers, etc). On the other hand, there are those (like Minfilia and others on the Path, or the Ashcrown Consortium) who seek peaceful relations with the tribes. These are more likely to use terms such as primal over eikon. And then there are those who float about in the middle, and simply haven’t given it much thought—kind of like my grandfather who probably wasn’t what I’d call a ‘racist,’ but ended up using terms (that we now deem racist) throughout his life just because that’s what the people around him used.

In conclusion (man, was this post a doozy!), remember that Eorzea is filled with misinformation. This can be expected in a semi-medieval world that lacks proper channels of communication. Most news is passed through a filter of individuals who mangle the original story, remembering only what pertains to them, and making up the rest. This is what makes searching for the truth fun. You have to sit back and sift through the dirt and rocks to find those nuggets of gold. Do you believe Urianger or the people who call him a liar? Do you believe that the Archons are avatars of the Twelve because a crazy girl with spriggan friends dreamt it was true? Battling the red herrings can be quite the challenge, but the reward for defeating them is always worth it.

Until next time!

PS: After looking at the ‘interesting’ lyrics posted by Anonymoose, I just realized that we have yet to release the official transcript of the song Answers. I’ve spoken with Yoshi-p, and given him the EN lyrics. Supposedly he’ll be posting both the EN and JP later today. Huzzah!