The Lore Train: Inked

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Back at Fan Festival ’14 (Las Vegas), localization lead and world co-planner Michael Christopher Koji Fox hosted a lore panel that featured a fan-Q&A segment. One query focused on the origin of the tattoos sported by the Circle of Knowing going all the back back to the launch of 1.0. Koji neglected to answer at the time, telling fans to look forward to answers in Patch 2.4, but that installment seems to have come and gone without any new information. Or did it? It turns out that I was just looking in the wrong place – rather, I was not looking in enough places at once.

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Spoiler Warning for Patches 2.40 and 2.50.

The only mention of the tattoo (that I could find) occurred when Moenbryda first arrived in Mor Dhona. Y’shtola had an optional Small Talk that warned against letting Moen’s lack of tact delude you into believing she was anything but the best of the best – the tattoo being proof.

Only those with proven expertise receive the mark─as our newcomer has.
Pay no heed to her manner.

Y’shtola isn’t needlessly chatty in the English client; she says things precisely and concisely. Without the other Scions around to perform simplified expository banter (Yda & Papalymo) or make snarky observations (Thancred), she’s said all that she feels she needs to, and she has – unless you’re the type to go digging for information about tattoos apropos of little. Oh, but we are!

If you take a look at how every language chose to frame Y’shtola’s sentiments, the combination answers our age old question: What in the seven hells does that thing on their necks mean?

Translations are amateur; feel free to suggest a better phrasing.

シャーレアンでは、何らかの分野で秀でていないと、「賢人」の称号を名乗ることはできないわ。

そして、彼女もまた「賢人」の証を身に刻む者よ。

In Sharlayan, if you do not excel in a specific field, you cannot claim the title of “sage.” She has engraved the proof of “sage” into her flesh.

La “marque des sages” n’est attribuée qu’aux personnes dont les connaissances dans un domaine spécifique ont été rrreconnues par l’ensemble de la communauté scientifique sharlayanaise. La porter est un honneur qui n’appartient qu’à l’élite de nos savants.

The “mark of the sages” is attributed to persons whose knowledge in a given field has been recognized by the Sharlayan scientific community. To bear it is an honor that belongs to the most elite of our scholars.

Ich will nicht sagen, dass wir Exegeten besser wären als die übrigen Gelehrten Sharlayans, aber fest steht, dass wir uns nach Kräften um Exzellenz bemüht haben. Jeder von uns hat sein Spezialgebiet. Das erlaubt uns, große Wissensgebiete abzudecken und dennoch gründlich zu forschen.

I don’t want to say that we exegetes are better than the other Sharlayan scholars, but there is no doubt that we have done our best to achieve excellence. Every one of us has a specialty. This allows us to cover large areas of knowledge, yet still research them thoroughly.

As you can see, it’s clearer when you have four Y’shtola’s worth of Small Talk.

Here’s how it works:

Sharlayan is a nation built on scholarship, and when one has proven themselves as having achieved a certain degree of excellence in some field accepted by the scientific community, they are allowed to claim the title of “sage.” Those deemed worthy of claiming said title are then permitted to bear the mark as both proof and recognition. Imagine it as having your Ph.D inked on your neck.

The mark is not representative of the Circle of Knowing; they just also happened to be sages of Sharlayan. The field in which the group was recognized can be inferred from the German client, where Y’shtola compares other fields of research to her own: exegesis, the study and interpretation of texts (especially religious ones). Recall that, in the Rise of the Seventh Umbral Era storyline of 1.0, the Circle spent a great deal of time talking about the proper interpretation of the Divine Chronicles of Mezaya Thousand Eyes, which prophesied the cycle of the Astral and Umbral eras.

Who else has the tattoo – and what for?

  • Moenbryda was a sage of aetherial physics; she possessed an intimate knowledge of its properties and was overseeing research into white auracite. Though she was once a disciple of Louisoix alongside Urianger, the former saw that she was excluded from the Circle of Knowing in hopes that she would forge her own destiny unhindered by the harsh judgement to which the group would be subjected for casting aside Sharlayan principles of non-intervention.
  • Rammbroes, incidentally a former member of the Circle of Knowing himself, is a sage of anthropogeography, the study of knowledge’s diffusion through (and disappearance from) different areas of the world. Though he originally studied this broadly thoughout Eorzea, he has come to focus directly on Allagan knowledge, now leading the Sons of Saint Coinach dig site in Mor Dhona.
  • G’raha Tia is a member of the Students of Baldesion, who seemingly have their hands in everything historic, esoteric, forgotten, and arcane. The group assigned him to be a historian consultant to the dig at Saint Coinach’s find.

So what about this mark?

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This symbol appeared only after the Calamity, and has been borne exclusively by those who are affiliated with Minfilia’s organization, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. Some choose to wear it on their clothes, some choose to wear it on their skin. The Scions were first formed by consolidating the surviving remnants of two now-defunct groups: the Circle of Knowing (covered above), and the Path of the Twelve (created by Minfilia in 1569 to give those awakening to the Echo a safe place to explore the origin and meaning of their mysterious gift in an age where its connection to the Mothercrystal was unknown entirely). Since then, however, many others have joined who were never a part of either group, including members of the Students of Baldesion who’ve allied themselves with the Scion cause from afar.

As how for the design itself came to be, we’ve been unable to confirm anything concrete. However, I have a theory as to how the Scion mark might symbolize the combination of a rogue party of Sharlayan sages with a group of confused adventurers whose eyes had suddenly been opened to visions of the past. Please don your darksteelfoil hats and allow me to explain using the timeless magic of bad Paint editing. If one takes the sage tattoo and mirrors it (perhaps one for each side of the neck), and then pulls the vertical lines together while slightly rotating the remaining bit, and then adds an eye (perhaps for the Echo), et voilà! See any resemblance? Could it be coincidence? (Yes. Yes, it could.)

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Wait a moment.
Doesn’t the Scion brand also bear a slight resemblance the symbol of Zodi no, no, no.
Get this hat off.

One thought on “The Lore Train: Inked

  1. Holy heckie. HOLY HECKIE.

    And hey, I finished Before The Fall recently, and am making my way through Heavensward, and I’m… You had to do that, didn’t you? Right. Darksteel hat off. OFF, I SAY!
    I can’t get ideas like this, now! It’s 2:28 AM!

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