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Vagrant Story, also known as The Phantom Pain, is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square Co., Ltd. (now Square Enix) for the Sony PlayStation video game console. The game features a focus on weapon modification and creation. ( ベイグラントストーリー ) ( Beiguranto Sutōrī ) was Japanese-developed. The game was released in 2000, and has been re-released through the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable consoles nine years later.[1] Vagrant Story was primarily developed by the team responsible for Final Fantasy Tactics, with Yasumi Matsuno serving as producer and director.

AkihikoYoshida-Ashley&Callo
Akihiko Yoshida's concept art picturing Ashley Riot, left, and Callo Melrose, right, that became the box art.

Although storytelling elements such as the animations and even the dialogue of the characters take place and reference much of the fictional kingdom of Valendia in the continent of Ivalice, the gameplay itself has a slightly narrower focus, never venturing out from the ghost town of Leá Monde, a city ruined by one great cataclysmic earthquake, and subsequent lesser but incessant earthquakes and flooding since, not to mention the usual ravages of time.

The story centers on Ashley Riot, an elite agent known as a Riskbreaker, who must travel to Leá Monde to investigate the link between an enemy of the state, the charismatic leader Sidney Losstarot, and a senior Valendian Parliament member, Duke Aldous Byron Bardorba. Throughout the story, the relationship in Ivalice between religion and politics is seen as inextricable; Sydney is both a leader of a cult, and a leader of somewhat revolutionary forces. In the prologue, the assembled VKP hierarchy blame Ashley for murdering the duke, and the game discloses the events that happen one week before the murder.

Vagrant Story is unique as a console action/adventure role-playing game because it features no shops and no player interaction with other characters; instead, the game focuses on weapon creation and modification, as well as elements of puzzle-solving and strategy.[2][3] Overall, the game received positive reviews from gaming magazines and websites.

Ashley Riot faces a Wyvern during the opening sequence. The game directly switches between event cutscenes and gameplay using the same character models, integrating weapons currently equipped on Ashley into the cutscenes.


Characters

See Main Article Ivalicians Past and Present in Vagrant Story for a more complete treatment of the list below

Vagrant Story contains a cadre of characters, but has only one playable character, Ashley Riot. Below is a list of the characters seen on screen during the course of the game:

  • Ashley Riot: The protagonist and player character, Ashley is a member of the Valendia Knights of the Peace (VKP)[4][5] He is the player character for the entirety of the game; he gains power as he remains in Leá Monde from the magic that the Ivalicians of the time know as The Dark. The VKP has tasked him with pursuing Müllenkamp's leader.
  • Sydney Losstarot: Slight and graceful of build and features, the enigmatic wielder of the power of Leá Monde. Leader also of another, earthly power, the revolutionary political force he leads and religious revival he has inspired, all in the name of the ancient religion that Iocus once exterminated, called after its hundred years dead high priestess Müllenkamp.
  • Romeo Guildenstern: Commander of the Order of the Crimson Blades, the knightly order of the Iocus priesthood. He has come to Leá Monde to hunt Sydney down, a mission undertaken without the approval of the VKP.[6] The Crimson Blades, under direct orders of Cardinal Batistum, are a group that is part of the Cardinal's Knights of the Cross, in charge of rooting out Heresy, punishing heretics and quelling cults.[7] Romeo Guildenstern, their leader, seems at first a pious man, deeply faithful to his belief and consequently immune to the Dark's powers. Under orders of the Cardinal, he pursues Sydney with a small army in his command and his captains: Samantha, Duane, Grissom, Tieger and Neesa.[8]
  • Callo Merlose: Ashley's partner in the Graylands incident and fellow member of the VKP. While Ashley is a VKP Riskbreaker, she is an agent of the VKP Inquisitors. Although Callo accompanies him, Ashley does not accept her as a combat partner due to her lack of combat experience.[9] Callo ends up being Sydney's hostage and discovers the truth of Müllenkamp's activities. Callo spends most of the game as a captive, but learns more of Sydney's true motives than Ashley would even care to know. She gains powers of discernment and sight, learning to see truth and what is hidden even from her captors themselves.
  • John Hardin: Sydney's second in command; a tireless, faithful servant, though he rightly comes to doubt Sydney's intentions. Sydney's plans, however necessary to end the curse of Leá Monde, are not the ones he has revealed to Hardin.
  • Jan Rosencrantz: Former Riskbreaker, red garbed amoral swashbuckler, aiding all sides and playing all sides against each other seemingly at a whim.
  • Duke Aldous Byron Bardorba: A hero of the Valendian Civil war and now an influential political figure. His past holds a secret and his future is the key to the fate of Valendia.
  • Müllenkamp is both, an ancient religion that split off from the Kiltian, or Kildean, religion, that was based in Leá Monde, and a revival of the religion mixed with political activism that Parliament, eager to stamp out this threat to its authority, has categorized as a cult.[10] The city suffered a catastrophe when the population was killed in an earthquake.[11]Corpses raised with the magic flowing through the city, make of it a powerful stronghold for the modern-day Müllenkamp, but one as doomed as the long-lost Müllenkamp city was in the face of the Iocan exterminators.


Plot

Setting

See Main Article Locations

Vagrant Story is set in the fictitious city of Leá Monde, while the kingdom of Valendia is engulfed in civil war. Leá Monde is an old town with a history spanning more than two millennia. Located on an island surrounded by reefs, the walls have been the "witness of many battles" and are "stronger than the mightiest forts of Valendia".[12]

Leá Monde was first the center of a new religion, one that split off from the Kiltian Light of Ivalice's Age of Magic that had brought hope to the people. The new religion, with its rites of music and dance, gave a more Bacchanalian spirit to the religion of hope and light, and a darker side to its magic.[13][14]

The priest Iocus later led yet another religious movement, but this one was not a movement in a different direction than or an alternative to the old, but against the old, with no alternatives given. The followers of Iocus crushed every last trace of Müllenkamp and Kiltian magic beneath their feet, and buried the Leá Monde of old beneath their towering Cathedral.

But the city was still filled with the magic deemed evil and heretical by the heritage of Iocus. The deeds done there by the Iocus religion had tainted it with the dark spirit of death and vengeance, but it lay dormant.

What followed was what the present age of Ivalice knows as the golden years of Leá Monde, the history of Müllenkamp having been supressed. In truth it was a thriving community, whose occupants gave no thought to what had occurred beneath their feet, until an earthquake struck the town 25 years before the present age, destroying the city and leaving the ground unstable.[15]

What the residents of Leá Monde also did not know was that the leaders of the state religion that followed Iocus had learned of Kildean and Müllenkamp's magical powers and wanted them for themselves. The power of the city was clear to those with the Sight to see it, but what was less clear was their vision of how to access it. Whether Iocus had warped the Müllenkamp and Kildean magic in the city with his massacres of their followers, or entropy had decayed it, or Müllenkamp had awakened something truly evil in their search for all things, or, what seems most likely of all, there was evil within the hearts of those who sought the city's power, it was decided that the way to reap the greatest power from the city was to sow it with the souls of the dead.[13][16]

The Great Cathedral and the Temple of Kiltia are at the center of the city. Beneath the ground is an abandoned mineshaft and limestone quarry, the darkened labyrinths of an "Undercity", and the dark Iron Maiden dungeon.[12] The maze-like Snowfly Forest, named for the Snowflies that can be found within, grows around the city. Other locations include the Graylands, the setting for the prologue event; and Valnain, the city where the Valendia Knights of Peace's Headquarters is located. While Valendia and Leá Monde are fictitious, the game's scenery is inspired by real-life landscapes of the southwest of France, including the city of Saint-Émilion.[15]

Story

The plot of Vagrant Story, titled "The Phantom Pain", is presented as the prelude to the "story of the wanderer".[17]

Most of the plot of Vagrant Story takes place in a single 24 hour period, with only the epilogue occurring one week later. The game takes place in the New Valendian Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy divided heavily by a recent civil war. The game takes place in the world of Ivalice, but well after Final Fantasy Tactics. Magic and monsters have largely disappeared from the land.

Now internal political rivalries between the Priesthood of St. Iocus represented by its militant arm, the Order of the Crimson Blades under Cardinal Batistum, Parliament, represented by its own force, the Valendia Knights of the Peace (VKP) are further strained by the appearance of a terrorist cult, the Müllenkamp sect. Lead by the enigmatic and mysterious Sydney Losstarot, Müllenkamp is suspected of attempting to assassinate the king that Yuletide past. Müllenkamp is protected and funded by the Duke Aldous Byron Bardorba, who also secretly controls the strings of Parliament, though his actions all stem from an unknown reason.

When the Müllenkamp cult attacks the Duke's home, they take the Duke's family hostage and make several demands. The Duke himself was not at his home during the attack. In a meeting at 0:24 A.M., VKP leader Steward LeSait sends in Riskbreaker, Ashley Riot to investigate this bizarre event. Callo Merlose was sent ahead by the VKP to Duke Bardorba's manor to investigate the Duke's involvement with Müllenkamp and the Cardinal's interest in Sydney Losstarot,[6][18]and has been watching the events in the Duke's Mansion from outside. Ashley meets her at 1:28 A.M. Upon seeing an assault by the Crimson Blades, one which was not cleared by the VKP, Ashley decides that the attack is a perfect distraction for him to infiltrate the manor.

At 2:32 A.M., the Crimson Blades have yet to find the Müllenkamp leader, Sydney. While they try to put out the flames that threaten the manor, Ashley Riot attempts to sneak past a group of Müllenkamp cultists. However, he is revealed by a falling block of wood, and is forced to kill both of them to move on. Ashley infiltrates the manor; after overhearing a conversation between Sydney and his second-in-command, the doubtful John Hardin, Ashley moves to capture the enemy leader. Pointing a bowgun at a lone Sydney, Riot threatens to fire if he does not cooperate. Instead of following commands, Sydney moves for his sword. Firing straight into Sydney's heart, Ashley believes to have killed his foe. Hardin distracts Ashley by running into the room with a young boy in his arms. Ashley witnesses the vaunted powers of Sydney first hand:[19] while he is looking away, a still-living Sydney knocks Ashley to the ground, pulls the crossbow bolt out of his chest, taunts Ashley, and summons a bloodied wyvern away from its battle with the Crimson Blades;[20] it comes crashing through the stained-glass ceiling, studded with the crossbow bolts of its enemies. The Müllenkamp members escape while the Riot puts the beast to death. Sydney escapes with his accomplice Hardin and the Duke's son Joshua, leaving Ashley with a clue to his whereabouts.[21] After the creature is slain, Ashley looks out onto a sunrise over the Greylands. This event was dubbed the "Graylands Incident" by the VKP.

At 5:38 A.M, Duke Bardorba hears of the events in his secondary residence in the Graylands. Upon this, he orders his men to burn down his home while pretending to be Blades to hide evidence of Sydney's magical powers. In this act, he is killing his family, to the shock of the Duke's courtiers. Bardorba also sends out a man of his employ dressed in red armor to Leá Monde to defeat all the forces that are gathering there. However, despite the Duke's coldness, he shows warmth to his captured son, Joshua Corrinne Bardorba, the boy whom Müllenkamp had captured during their attack.

Ashley and Callo make it to the only remaining entrance of the ruined city of Leá Monde at 11:42 A.M. After an earthquake, all overland routes to the town were blocked off, and the whirlpools make entering by sea also impossible. Now the once-flourishing town is completely abandoned by all except Müllenkamp, who use it as their base. The only way in is the old Wine Cellar. Once again leaving his companion behind, Ashley moves into Leá Monde alone. But as he walks in, Sydney appears behind a defenseless Callo Merlose. Ashley, not knowing his partner is in danger, continues forward on his mission while further earthquakes make the passage unstable.

While moving through the dark dungeon, Ashley follows two Crimson Blades who have fallen behind the rest of their group. They speak of the floating platforms known as Cloudstones and other forms of Magick held in the objects of power known as Grimoires and the city's power to spawn the undead and mythological creatures.[22]. While listening to the conversation between the knights, Ashley discovers that the Blades are not out just to defeat a band of heretics, but also to take the power of Leá Monde for themselves. While waiting behind the Blades, Ashley jumps at a ghost-like vision of a young boy, revealing his position to the knights. He then kills both. Sydney then appears in the guise of the Blades' leader to fool some soldiers into attacking the VKP agent. Ashley kills these as well, which catches Sydney's eyes. Using more dark powers, Sydney shows Ashley a vision of his late wife and son, Tia and Marco, killed by bandits while they were on a picnic on an idyllic hill. Fascinated by the Riskbreaker's cold efficiency in killing and complete lack of fear, Sydney appears to Riot, asking where his soul has gone. Sydney pries into Ashley's memories, then taunts that Ashley killed his own family. Revealing that he holds Merlose, Sydney commands Ashley to travel deeper into the Dark City, and to awaken power within him. Ashley recalls his hidden battle skills and experiences "clairvoyance", seeing the progress of the Crimson Blades, leading him closer and closer to the Great Cathedral.

After traveling through the Catacombs and fighting a horde of people brought back from the dead by The Dark filling Leá Monde, Ashley finally reaches sunlight again in the Town Center. Eavesdropping on the Blades' activities, it is clear that they have taken the entire top of the town, and are now simply wiping out what pockets of resistance remain, though all to heavy casualties. The Blades' leader, Romeo Guildenstern gathers a meeting between himself, Father Grissom, and his lover Lady Samantha. Guildenstern and Samantha both are revealed to not be mere lap-dogs of the Cardinal, but seem to share an ambition to steal immortality from Sydney so that they can live together forever. Ashley overhears Guildenstern and his lover Samantha, learning of the condition known as incomplete death and the Cardinal's true intention for his pursuit of Sydney: immortality.[23][24] While Ashley is listening, he is spotted by Father Duane, Grissom's brother. The Crimson Blades confront Ashley and reveal his presence to Guildenstern, but the river separates Guildenstern from the others, and he can only watch as Ashley kills Duane, and his guards. Guildenstern and Ashley glare at each other before turning on their separate ways.

While moving through the Abandoned Mines, Ashley suddenly sees Callo Merlose and the interplay between her captors. Hardin, using a power of clairvoyance[25], is able to spot the actions of the Crimson Blades, and sees that they are growing weaker. Yet the battle is clearly lost for Müllenkamp, and he wishes to flee. Sydney, unhappy with his subordinate's panic, uses his power of "compulsion" to control Hardin. Though Hardin remains loyal and follows Sydney's orders to look over the prisoners, he demands that Sydney never use his powers on him again. Ashley follows Sydney while the cult leader goes to confront Guildenstern and his faithful companion, Samantha who are hunting for the Gran Grimoire, a magical object of great power. Avoiding a direct battle, Sydney instead questions Samantha into how far she can trust her commander. Using Dark powers of his own, Guildenstern projects an illusion into Sydney's mind, that Guildenstern has suddenly appeared beside Sydney. Guildenstern warns Sydney that he is not alone in holding some sway over The Dark. Without a word, Sydney retreats.

Emerging at the entrance to the Snowfly Forest, Ashley suddenly sees through Samantha's eyes during another Crimson Blades meeting. Samantha talks with Lady Neesa over the heavy losses the Blades have taken during the attack. Samantha shows some worry over the deaths. Guildenstern marches in, and senses the Riskbreaker watching. He slaps Samantha, knocking away Ashley's connection. Back in the forest, Ashley is surprised to find that he has been followed by Jan Rosencrantz, the man sent by the Duke to Leá Monde. Though Rosencrantz claims to be a member of the Riskbreakers sent by Steward LeSait; Rosencrantz who intends to join him, though Ashley does not believe a word of it and declines.[26] Rosencrantz goes on to tell Riot that he is the person most ignorant of the situation in Leá Monde, claiming that every major power in Valendia knows of and covets The Dark, the evil power that permeates Leá Monde. Rosencrantz tells him of the VKP and the Parliaments' knowledge of the dark powers of Leá Monde, and that the hidden powers deep within a person can be unleashed with the help of the Dark. Ashley responds only by threatening to kill Rosencrantz if he remains in the city after sundown.

While Ashley ventures into the forest, Rosencrantz is met by a group of Blades following Riot. Father Grissom leads the force to get revenge for his fallen brother, Duane. Grissom is not happy to see Rosencrantz, thinking him to be a double-dealing traitor. So he ignores Rosencrantz's warning of danger in the forest. Grissom quickly loses his soldiers in the woods, but still continues onward and runs into his foe, Sydney. Ashley wanders into this confrontation just as Grissom begins to attempt to summon a monster. Sydney warns Grissom that he does not have the power, and summoning will kill him. At first it seems Sydney was right, for blood flows from Grissom's nose and he falls to the ground. Grissom exerts further effort, and pulls himself to his feet and continues the incantation; the object of his summoning slowly descends from a circular plane of light in midair.[27] Together Grissom and his monster attack a joined force of Sydney and Riot. Grissom falls in defeat, defeated in his own quest for vengeance. Moving on his temporary ally, Sydney then shows another vision to Ashley of Tia and Marco. This time, however, it is not bandits who kill them, but Ashley himself. Though Ashley believes this to be a deception, Sydney claims that it is Ashley's own memories that are the deception.[27] They are but implants created by the VKP.[28] Sydney wanders off, leaving a devastated Ashley in doubt over the truth.

Moving to the city keep, Ashley spies on Guildenstern and Samantha who are pondering why Leá Monde is covered in ancient writing. Guildenstern then discovers that the entire city is a circle of Magick. Rosencrantz walks in, expanding on the thought by saying that Leá Monde itself is the Gran Grimoire which the Blades seek. Furious at Rosencrantz for withholding information, Guildenstern draws his blade at Rosencrantz. Before blood is spilled, Samantha falls over, once again possessed by Ashley. Samantha, linked to Ashley, reveals his position. Guildenstern then sends Rosencrantz to deal with the meddlesome Riskbreaker. After a short battle, Ashley seems to have won. Rosencrantz, unfazed by defeat, then moves on to reveal Riot's past. Together they both worked for the VKP, killing people on Parliament's orders. Where Sydney had shown Ashley visions of his wife Tia and his son Marco killed first by rogues and then himself, Rosencrantz tells Ashley that they were not his family, but unfortunate witnesses targetted by the VKP hit squad they both served. Both Sydney and Rosencrantz agree, though, that guilt over the deaths was manipulated by the VKP to turn Ashley into a loyal Riskbreaker.[5][29] Ashley had become distraught by the killings, feeling that he has betrayed the very people he had sworn to protect. Rosencrantz is mildly disgusted with his partner's moral quibbles, and so helps the VKP implant false memories to allow Ashley to remain a perfect killing machine. Going on, Rosencrantz explains that he was kicked out of the Riskbreakers for knowing too much about Leá Monde. Now he manipulates all the powers for his own gain. After the speech, Rosencrantz leaves, promising to not yield in the next battle between the former partners.

At the foot of Leá Monde's center, the remnants of the Crimson Blade force charge at the last Müllenkamp stronghold, the Great Cathedral. While Guildenstern is distracted, Rosencrantz sneaks away to fulfill his own plans.

BackCoverArt
The jewel case rear cover image seen on the US edition of the game, and possibly others. The pictures are: background, priestess Müllenkamp dancing, Ashley on a Cloudstone over the river in the Sanctum area "Passage of the Refugees", Sydney, as he so often does, cajoling Ashley, and Ashley confronting a Giant Crab boss

Meanwhile, Callo Merlose, who Sydney had captured earlier, begins to speak with Hardin over what is going on in Leá Monde. Callo learns that Hardin was skeptical of Sydney's plans.[30] She begins to develop the powers of "heart-seeing", a form of telepathy, as they continue their escape deeper into Leá Monde.[25] Much as Ashley gains new powers, Callo too has gained powers from Leá Monde. Sydney left them to stop the others from advancing; taunting Guildenstern and Samantha, and provoking Ashley to follow him as he intends to bestow his powers upon Ashley.[31] Ashley was not interested in inheriting the powers of Darkness; seeing that Callo had been captured, his only intention is to rescue her.[32] Hardin tells Callo and his other captive, the frightened Joshua to move out.

Inside the Cathedral, Hardin and his two captives wait for Sydney. Merlose then uses her Heart-Seer powers once again to pry into Hardin's secrets; she learns of Sydney's intentions. While Hardin himself is quiet, Callo sees a "ghost" version of Hardin who tells her much. Müllenkamp's true intentions, which are the same as the Duke's, are to destroy Leá Monde. But first, they must create a successor to its powers, which may be the reason why they kidnapped Joshua.[33] She discovers that Hardin once had a sickly younger brother, but due to the betrayal of the government, the child died.[34][35] This explains his closeness to the child Joshua and his decision to join Müllenkamp, to make the government pay. Before Merlose can learn more, Hardin stabs himself in the leg, shutting off his mind to her new Heart-Seer powers. Hardin is furious to see his mind pried into, but is stopped short by the arrival of Guildenstern. His injuries leave him defenseless in the face of his enemy. Guildenstern cruelly interrogates Hardin, demanding to know where the key to Leá Monde's power is. Hardin tells nothing, resisting Guildenstern's attacks. Using another trick, Guildenstern hides himself as Sydney and fools Hardin into telling of the Blood-Sin, which Guildenstern remembers as the tattoo on Sydney's back. A sharp realization make that is in fact the key the Blades seek. With no further need for him, Guildenstern stabs Hardin in the chest. Seeing this, Joshua screams in protest as the scene ends.

While Ashley descends into the depths of the Undercity, he runs into two Crimson Blade captains, Neesa and Sir Tieger both furious over the sight of Father Grissom's corpse, which is curiously down in the dungeon. Together they try to defeat the Riskbreaker in a double-attack, but both are forced back into retreat. Ashley follows the two to find that Grissom has been given an "unfinished death" and has returned as a zombie. Grissom struggles with controlling his body while the two Blades look on stunned at the sight. Then voices fill Grissom's head, telling him that his living allies wish him dead. Driven insane by the voices coming from the walls of Leá Monde itself, he runs off. Neesa and Tieger give chase, allowing Ashley to move on into the Limestone Quarry.

While discussing the Gran Grimoire, a powerful source of magic, Guildenstern and Samantha discover ancient Kildean letterings carved throughout the city walls.[36] Rosencrantz reveals that the city is the Gran Grimoire and its power lies at the city center: the Great Cathedral. As Guildenstern leaves for the Great Cathedral, Rosencrantz searches for Ashley and Sydney.

Inside the Temple of Kiltia, Sydney looks back into his memories, when he was but a child with his father, the Duke Bardorba. His meditation is broken by the appearance of Rosencrantz, who inquires about Ashley's progress, revealing that he had been in league with Sydney and deluding Ashley with the "truth" of his past the entire time. Rosencrantz demands that Sydney surrender his powers to him;[37] he assaults Sydney, confident that his power over the Dark makes him invulnerable. Ashley wanders in, but is caught by surprise by Rosencrantz, who knocks him to the floor; Rosencrantz hopes besting Ashley in battle will prove that he is the more worthy candidate for the powers of Darkness.[38] For all his efforts, Sydney refuses to listen to Rosencrantz, and does not name him anything more than "worm"; Sydney does not wish the Darkness to fall into the hands of one who will use its powers for evil. Rosencrantz is not happy to learn that he will not succeed to the legacy of Leá Monde; in anger, Rosencrantz swings his sword and slices off Sydney's arm, and in retaliation, Sydney uses his power to confuse Rosencrantz, who claims deception. Rosencrantz's powers, while giving him immunity to the dark, fell short when he placed himself in the heart of Lea Monde. Sydney brings one of the Temple's statues to life. Its giant blade cleaves Rosencrantz in half, ending the traitor's ambition in a single blow. Sydney escapes while Ashley defeats the animated statue.

Guildenstern continues on to the Great Cathedral in the center of the city, leading him to Callo, Hardin and Joshua. Interrogating Hardin about a certain "key" known as the Blood-Sin,[39][40] Guildenstern reveals his intentions in acquiring the Dark's powers.[41] Guildenstern proudly declares that Sydney had been using Hardin and Müllenkamp the entire time to fulfill his own designs.

VSWraith
Wraiths are hard to hit, like most Phantoms

Ashley fights through a massive horde of enemies in search of Merlose. Meanwhile, Sydney appears to aid his friend Hardin in the Cathedral. Sydney and Guildenstern do battle with the Dark as their weapon. During the fight, Guildenstern declares that his true aim is revolution. He wants to save Valendia, which he considers sick with corruption born from class struggle, by burning away everything but justice enforced by fear of his power. Sydney calls Guildenstern's vision "tyranny" and reveals that all his actions were to avoid such an awful fate for the world. Samantha then appears, which gives Sydney time to distract Guildenstern by attacking her. While she is hit, Sydney teleports Hardin, Callo, and Joshua to safety. But just as they escape, Guildenstern thrusts his sword into the back of the Müllenkamp leader. Guildenstern then moved forward to slice the Blood-Sin off Sydney's back.

Upon finally reaching the atrium of the great Temple cum Cathedral, Ashley ascends the stairs to find Sydney on the floor, bleeding from his wounds. The Blood-Sin had been completely cut from his back. Ashley listens as Sydney reveals his true intentions.[42] After seeing Sydney's true intentions were nothing malevolent, he agrees to defeat Guildenstern before he can use his powers for evil. Before Ashley departs, Sydney means to apologize for misleading him on the subject of his family, for all of the illusions and lies, to which Ashley simply replies "I know."

With the "key" acquired, and moved to the roof of the Cathedral, Guildenstern then performs the final action needed to become the successor to the Dark. Guildenstern murders Samantha, calling it a sacrifice to the powers of darkness for a ritual of transformation. Shocked as she is by Guildenstern's betrayal, Samantha remains quite philosophical about it, considering. Guildenstern makes one final claim to loving her, and as she slips down the dome of the Temple, she whispers, "I too, once thought so".

Ashley moves up to confront Guildenstern in a climactic battle. The ornamental sword of Iocus mounted at the top of the cathedral reappears in Guildenstern's hand as the ascension warps him into a blackened, white-haired humanoid form. Guildenstern, fully-powered thanks to the Dark flowing through his body moves to defeat the Riskbreaker to show off his new strength. But Ashley does not fall. Riot defeats Guildenstern's human form, but then the Crimson Blade erupts into a surge of electricity. Ashley then falls into his own mind, seeing a vision of Tia and Marco before him on the day they were killed. Though Ashley is said to have killed them, Tia and Marco act as his family once again. They tell him to believe that which is in his heart, which is the truth. The scene muddles the truth about Ashley's past to the point that it is up to the player to interpret for themselves which is the real truth. Invigorated with the strength from his family, Ashley goes off to fight Guildenstern's final form, a monstrous angelic creature. Though this last battle is hard-fought, Ashley prevails and slays Guildenstern.

With Guildenstern's defeat, Leá Monde falls. The city erupts into a massive earthquake that tears it to pieces. All of the demons and fiends spawned within the evil city are killedby the cataclysmic destruction, and fade to dissipating shadows in a shower of Snowfly lights.

Hardin, Merlose, and Joshua escape out the Wine Cellar. Neesa and Tieger try to escape, but are followed by the undead Grissom. While the dungeon collapses around them, Tieger holds back Grissom so that Neesa may escape and tell the world what happened. When both are killed in the collapse, Lady Neesa is the only Crimson Blade to survive the attack on Leá Monde. Ashley, the new "Key"-bearer, fresh with the Blood-Sin on his back, carries Sydney out of the collapsing city. Outside, Hardin succumbs to the injuries given to him by Guildenstern. Despite Joshua's tearful demand to stay alive, Hardin dies, and even the lights rising from his body soon fade.

One week later, in the guise of Ashley, Sydney visits the Duke's secondary residence. As the servants leave the Duke's chamber, Sydney resumes his true form in his father's presence. Sydney tells the duke that he had found a suitable heir to the Darkness in Ashley, and that their plan to inherit the powers of Darkness was successful.[43] Together they know that they have succeeded in keeping the power of the Dark from falling into the wrong hands. The Duke regretfully apologizes to Sydney for leaving such a burden on him. Then he ends the Dark cultist's life by stabbing him with a dagger. The act kills the Duke as well. They die together, having completed their mission.

The report received by the VKP a week after the Graylands Incident, notes the duke's murder, and Ashley as the prime suspect.

Ashley Riot, the final holder of the Blood-Sin, then becomes a wanderer of the world. From then on, he takes the title of "the Vagrant". Vagrant Story ends just as the story of the Vagrant begins, leaving Ashley Riot's later fate open.


Gameplay

See Main Article Vagrant Story Gameplay

VSNightmare
Nightmares are the penultimate enemy of the game, appearing immediately before the final agent of the Dark is faced

The main character, Ashley, hacks and slashes his way through the caverns and catacombs of Vagrant Story, beneath the ruined city of Leá Monde. Combating the Crimson Blade knights who patrol the streets above Leá Monde, he hunts for Sydney (the antagonist), as well as the corridors below which are infested with foul beasts, goblins, phantoms, and the undead.

Vagrant Story, like many games, combines a solo dungeon crawl with above-ground maps. The player controls Ashley Riot from a third-person perspective (isometric projection) while exploring the crumbling surface of the city of Leá Monde and the catacombs beneath. The player may also switch into first-person perspective to allow for a 360° view using the L1 and R1 buttons on the Dual Analog game controller. Characters and sprites are proportionate with each other, and the player navigates Ashley on a Cartesian coordinate system / Three-dimensional coordinate system / three-dimensional field map. Navigation is with real-time computing (real-time).

Areas accessed by the player are stored as three dimensional wireframe models, accessible through the Map menu. The map identifies passages to other map areas. It identifies doors as Locked or Unlockable or One-way, and which Sigil or Key can currently be used or is yet to be obtained to unlock them. Each and every map area is given a redolent and evocative name.[44][45]

The 'camera' viewpoint relative to a selected room in the model can move around it in two ways which complement each other: to all points on a plane perpendicular to a line to the selected room with the left controller stick, and all points on a sphere around the room selected.

Ashley can run, jump, and push crates and cubes to navigate over obstacles and across gaps, adding both computer puzzle game and platform game elements to gameplay.[44] The developers struck a benevolent compromise between instant death for falling, and no penalty at all, by having Ashley return to a room entrance should he fail a jump and plunge into the inky blackness below.

During the game, the player must sometimes solve block puzzles to advance the story. When the player returns to a completed block puzzle room, a time-attack mode called "Evolve, or Die!!" begins. Players must reach the end of the room in the shortest time possible, after which they are ranked. This stage is optional and can be turned off from the menu.[2][45]

In the field map, players may engage the enemy as soon as they enter Battle Mode. In Battle Mode, when the player taps the attack button, a wire frame sphere appears around Ashley. Individual body parts within this sphere can be targeted. The battle system involves the player chaining different attacks known as Chain Abilities to achieve large combos and deal damage to the enemy. This is done by pressing buttons in timely succession, a similar game mechanic to Music Video games (rhythm games).[44] In addition to Chain Abilities, Defensive Abilities allow Ashley to reduce or reflect damage or avoid status ailments. Ashley also gains Break Arts, which exchange his Hit Points (HP) for increased damage.[3]

When Ashley attacks a Crimson Blade soldier, an exclamation mark is displayed, indicating the moment where the player can chain attacks; reflexes must be keen to inflict higher damage to the enemy.


Risk

See Main Article: Risk in Vagrant Story

Risk is an essential element in the battle system. A Risk bar is placed below the HP and MP bar, representing the Risk Points the player has accumulated. Risk Points affect Ashley's concentration; the longer Ashley attacks a target, the more his Risk Point accumulates — lowering his accuracy and defenses. Chain and Defensive Abilities increase Risk faster than regular attacks, while Break Arts do not increase Risk at all. Enemy attacks and spells deal more damage on Ashley, the more Risk he has; as do Ashley's, on enemies, and his healing spells increase in efficiency. A further advantage is the higher chances for the player to score critical hits.[45]


Chain Abilities, Defensive Abilities and Break Arts

See Main Article Combat

The battle system of the game involves the player chaining different attacks known as Chain Abilities to achieve large combos and deal damage to the enemy. This is done by pressing buttons in timely succession. In this way, combat almost resembles a rhythm game as not all attacks have the same timing. The player can target different areas of the body, and damage is done according to the part of body attacked and the affinity of the weapon used by Ashley. The longer Ashley fights, the more his Risk rises, making it harder for him to concentrate - lowering his accuracy but increasing critical hits, though at a certain point it can become virtually impossible to hit anything. Defense Abilities allow Ashley to reduce or reflect damage, or avoid status ailments. A variety of spells can be used to attack, heal, buff, and debuff. Lastly there are the Break Arts, powerful attacks that drain Ashley's hit points.


Magic

See Main Article: Magic in Vagrant Story

Magic in Vagrant Story utilizes the same wireframe targetting system. Magic is learned later in the game using Grimoires, items dropped by enemies. Once a Grimoire is used, the magic spell associated with the Grimoire will remain in the menu, and players only need to spend Magic Points (MP) to cast a learned spell. Magic spells can be used to attack, heal, create Status Effects, and manipulate Ashley's elemental and enemy affinities. Certain magic spells allow the player to affect multiple targets by using a small sphere positioned within the Battle Mode wire frame. Unlike physical attacks however, magic attacks cannot be chained.[44][45]


Setup

VSBloodLizard
Lizards are often well armed and armored; like most opponents in Vagrant Story, the exact same items they can drop are the ones they wear

Vagrant Story's crafting system allows the player to create and customize weapons and armor in designated "workshop" areas. The simplest of customization can be done in any place at any time, even during battle: Gems can be added or switched out of weapons and shields, and weapons can be dissassembled.


Combine

See Main Article: Combine in Vagrant Story

Vagrant Story has an in depth weapons and armor customization system. Equipment is influenced by its Class; when creatures of the Dark hurl their attacks against armor, or are cut by a blade, they impart a strength to that equipment against that enemy type, or class. This is the primary statistic of weapons and armor; it is the easiest to gain, and is the most powerful. Secondarily, equipment is affected by its elemental Affinities.[2] All weapons fall into one of three main damage types: the familiar RPG classes of blunt, piercing, and edged.

Most weapons have a hilt, blade component, and a slot for gems. In "Workshop" areas, players can assemble weapons, and combine pairs of blades and pairs of armor pieces. When weapons and armor are combined, their affinities are merged, and sometimes a new type of blade or armor is created in the process.[44]

Affinities influence the effectiveness of weapons and armor; however, equipment might lose one form of affinity when it gains another. Material type has only a tertiary effect, only seen in Defense Strength or Attack Strength and the starting Affinity statistics of weapons and armor, and the defense Type values of armor, against Blunt Piercing and Edged.


Connections to the Final Fantasy Series

See Main Articles Connections between Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy

Subsequent Final Fantasy XII releases added incrementally firmer links between Vagrant Story's Ivalice and Ivalice and other worlds in the Final Fantasy Universe.

The 2006 console role-playing game Final Fantasy XII contains several references to Vagrant Story. Terms such as Riskbreaker, Leámonde and Kildea (albeit with different spellings in the localizations), are commonly used in both games. Yasumi Matsuno, the creator of Final Fantasy XII, was interviewed by Joypad, a French gaming magazine, in 2004 on Final Fantasy XII and the game world he conceived, Ivalice, when he joined Square in 1995. He describes Ivalice as a complex world with a very long history and the stories of Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Final Fantasy XII are said to unfold quite close on the Ivalice map.[46]

The reason for this is the overlap of personnel, primarily Yasumi Matsuno. It was enabled by the enveloping umbrella of shared intellectual property rights, and likely inspired in part by the desire to create homages to co-workers and fellow staff, between the two games. It seems likely that developers share player's nostalgia for prior content, and note the fact that players like to see the return of elements they previously enjoyed, and the fact that old content is easy to add does not hurt either.

Although there are many connections to be shown, there is a short list of examples showing that the Ivalice of Vagrant Story is meant to be the same place exactly as that in the Final Fantasy series:

  • In FFXII, the Iocus Rood Sigil/Blood Sin (cross with an X instead of a cross bar) remains related to the summoning of magic and creatures: it is in the background when the player summons, it is signed by Gabranth in his first major appearance, and a Blood Sin mark identical to the infamous tattoo appears on the skull of the shamaness during Zalera's spell "Death Wail".
  • Vagrant Story is set in Valendia, one of the continents in Final Fantasy XII.
  • Kiltia is mentioned as a sect in Vagrant Story. In Final Fantasy XII there is a religion called the Light of Kiltia.
  • A short passage is quoted from A.J. Durai. 'Arazlam Durai' was the narrator of Final Fantasy Tactics.
  • In a dialogue with Samantha, Sydney mentions how the Priesthood of Iocus worships a 'dead' god who is really a demon. Since the name of the Church associated with the Priesthood is never given, this may be an allusion to Saint Ajora Glabados.
  • Agrias Balm: The Zodiac Brave Story in Final Fantasy Tactics contains multiple references to a knight Agrias, balm used by him, and a place by that name.
  • In one of its Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift/Side Stories has Montblanc requesting Hurdy a bottle of Prudence. Prudence is one of the wines found in Vagrant Story's Leá Monde.
  • The Gran Grimoire' plays a major role in Vagrant Storys plot. The term would later be used for other magical books in the Ivalice series, but a set of Gran Grimoires would become a recurring plot item in the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance series.
  • One of the clan ranks in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is Riskbreaker. Ashley Riot is a member of the Riskbreakers.


Development

See Main Article Vagrant Story Influences

Matsuno, the game's producer and director, preferred to create a new game title from scratch and use design ideas from staff collaborations, rather than reusing popular characters and designs. Vagrant Story is regarded as a mixture of genres, as it contains elements of role-playing in its battles and platform games when in the field map. Matsuno explained that the development team was not eager to place Vagrant Story into a specific genre, preferring to create the game with a genre of its own.[47] Link to WP photo of Saint-Emilion, where the design team travelled to perfect the architectural stylings of the game

During the design phase, Matsuno was shown photographs from France, particularly Saint-Émilion in the region of Bordeaux, by one of his colleagues. The design team went on location in France to adopt these styles into the game.[47][48] Matsuno was reportedly inspired by "everything from Shakespeare to Jet Li" for the plot of the game. Vagrant Story was conceived during a time when most games had made the transition into three-dimensional computer graphics. The modeling team each selected an aspect of each character upon which to focus their attention; painstaking details were given to each individual model, even to characters that only appear for a few seconds in the game, and character models used in event cutscenes are also used in actual gameplay.[47] A two-player mode was initially planned for the game, but ultimately scrapped.[49] Fans generally assume that Callo would have been the second playable character. Due to capacity and development time constraints, more than 50 percent of the game's story had to be cut from the final version,[50] and the graphics' polygon count also had to be reduced.


Citations

  1. Vagrant Story Dated For (PAL) PlayStation Store Release publisher=Kotaku
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 David Zdyrko, Vagrant Story
  3. 3.0 3.1 Brown, Jeff 2000 Vagrant Story: Review allrpg.com 2
  4. Rosencrantz: We were always the champions of justice, true, but a justice that served the state alone. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  5. 5.0 5.1 Vagrant Story part 10(of 21) Brainwashing
  6. 6.0 6.1 VKP Officer: Furthermore, we must find out why the Cardinal sent his blades to deal with this incident without our approval. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  7. Ashley: Are cults not the Templars' concern? Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  8. Guildenstern: Grissom, gather our remaining men. Join with Tieger's knights, and crush Müllenkamp. Go! / Grissom: By your command. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  9. Ashley: An agent with no combat experience would just be a liability. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  10. Rosencrantz: However, Leá Monde has strong ties to the Dark, for this is the Dark city of the ancient Kildean priestess Müllenkamp. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One Vagrant Story part 9(of 21) Rosencrantz Video 8:24
  11. Narrator:At its height, Leá Monde was a thriving community more than 5,000 people strong. Twenty-five years ago, a great earthquake brought that chapter in Leá Monde's history to a close. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  12. 12.0 12.1 Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  13. 13.0 13.1 Vagrant Story part 9(of 21) Rosencrantz
  14. YT Video 8:13 "To wit, there is no power without the Dark".
  15. 15.0 15.1 2000, Vagrant Story Ultimania PSX Game Guide Book, publisher: Studio BentStuff & DigiCube, language=Japanese, isbn=4-925075-75-6
  16. Video 7:53 "You know that Leá Monde is a Wellspring..." 8:13 "To wit, there is no power without the Dark". 8:23 "Thus Parliament raised a paling around the cities of man and set the Dark out to pasture." 8:40 "All that was needed is fodder, and They would come to feed." Ashley: "Fodder? No!" Rosencrantz: "Yes. The great quake 25 years past stocked the city's larders with corpses."
  17. Narrator: And so began the story of the wanderer, the vagrant./ Title Card: "The Phantom Pain". Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  18. VKP Officer: Our Inquisitors have found that Müllenkamp's coin comes from the captive duke himself. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  19. Ashley: What's going on? You were most certainly dead! Leave the back-from-the-grave stuff to faerie tales... Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  20. Duke Bardorba: The fool Sydney used his wyvern. We can't have witnesses telling the world, can we? Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  21. Sydney: I...I'm the one you want. Hardin...go quickly...go...to Leá Monde. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  22. Crimson Blade: ...with a Grimoire, your fattest sow could outfly my swiftest falcon - if ye believe the chroniclers. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  23. Guildenstern: Trapped in purgation, they yearn for life. Thus they seek bodies without souls...and the "corpses that walk" are born. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  24. Guildenstern: There is one who has found the true undeath. Immortality, my love. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  25. 25.0 25.1 Hardin: As I can scrye on distant locales, so the talent of the heart-seers has flowered in you. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  26. Ashley: You must know, Riskbreakers always work alone. And a change of plans mid-mission is unthinkable. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  27. 27.0 27.1 Vagrant Story part 10(of 21) Grissom Video 4:22
  28. Sydney: You were an assassin and a saboteur in an elite squad. Mistaking them for your target, you murdered an innocent family. For country and justice you would take any life without thinking, until you sent that family to their deaths. The VKP saw the opportunity to turn your guilt to patriotic zeal. They twisted your very soul, Ashley. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  29. Rosencrantz "If only you had not had such a keen sense of justice. The VKP was not about to lose one of their best without a fight"
  30. Hardin: Were the duke's betrayal, the cardinal's meddling...and a Riskbreaker strong as a bloody titan all part of your precious plan, too, Sydney? Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  31. Sydney: I give you the city, Riskbreaker! All its power - all to you! Make haste! Join me! Already, your powers are close to readiness! Come! Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  32. Ashley: Keep your accursed city! Where's Merlose!? Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  33. Hardin: The key-bearer, the duke, will soon die. If he dies without a successor, all is lost. The duke thinks he can cut off the cursed Müllenkamp bloodline, but that must not be allowed to happen. We will assume the legacy. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  34. Hardin: There was an investigation into an incident. I was part of a special team, entrusted with delivering blades to rebels in a neighboring kingdom. Apparently, some did not reach their destination. They claimed some of us were making coppers selling the steel on the black market. ...We were all guilty, I was not the only one. They presented me with an offer. Betray my friends, and I would walk free. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  35. Hardin: ...I had a brother, half my age. He was gravely ill, and we knew not when he would leave us. I wanted money...I wanted my freedom. I sold my friend, my brother. But they did not set me free. When I escaped from prison, my brother was dead. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  36. Samantha: The Gran Grimoire...the ultimate codex of sorcery. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  37. Rosencrantz: It is time. I will carry on the legacy in your name. Now, the rites! Name me your successor!! Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  38. Rosencrantz: This...This is your "successor"? Open your eyes, Sydney. I am the one! Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  39. Guildenstern: The Blood-Sin, you say? It has a familiar ring... Years past, during the Inquisition of the heretics, the "Rood Inverse" was carved on them, an abjuration of the flesh... Those who bore this tattoo called it the Blood-Sin. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  40. Guildenstern: Good God! Sydney held the key all along! The tattoo on his back, it is the Blood-Sin! He has the key! He has played you false! Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  41. Guildenstern: ...the nobility! They do nothing and blame others for their failure; they steal men's dreams and twist them to nightmares...We must cleanse this corruption. There must be strong, unwavering justice. And there must be fear to enforce that justice. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  42. Sydney: I wanted to help father, as he helped me when I was born. He wanted the city destroyed, even if it meant his own death. Then, he implored me. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  43. Duke Bardorba: So, it is done...You have suffered much. I, too, have played my part. Let us leave the rest to this Ashley. He is the one you have chosen.. Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 44.4 Bartholow,Peter PlayStation Vagrant Story Review GameSpot|publisher=CBS Interactive
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 45.3 Vagrant Story, Square, 2000, Playstation One Vagrant Story In-Game Manual
  46. 2004, Interview FFWorld.com language=French
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 From the Development Team
  48. Leamundis - Architecture language=French rpgsoluce.com
  49. Vandal Online
  50. 2000 Vagrant Story E3 Preview Edition Comic Book, publisher=Eruptor Entertainment & SquareSoft, isbn=4-925075-75-6 Yasumi Matsuno Interview

External links


Featured article

VSLogo

Ivalice is the grander setting of Vagrant Story, and cities and towns in it are mentioned in dialogue. The cursed city of Leá Monde and three locations outside of Leá Monde are seen in cutscenes. Gameplay, however, is restricted to mostly Leá Monde, with the exception of a beginning sequence in Duke Bardoba's Manor.

The sections from Leá Monde onwards are presented as in the individual area pages: in order of appearance as they become accessible ingame.

Thus, for example, Undercity West is presented in five sections, for the parts of it that can be visited coming from Town Center West, City Walls East, Abandoned Mines B2, and then opened with the Silver Key and Rood Inverse.

VSTempleCathedral
Whether any part of the city of the Müllenkamp religion other than the Temple of Kiltia still exist, or whether Iocus' followers razed it all, the Great Cathedral is same ground Mullenkamp's followers worshipped on

For more on the history of the Vagrant Story setting created by Yasumi Matsuno, including events that occurred in the past and future and in other games, see the article Ivalice.

Within Ivalice lies the country of Valendia; it is an early-stage constitutional monarchy, with nobility wielding a considerable degree of power in politics, despite official power being in the hands of a Parliament. Valendia may well have carved itself considerable new territory in recent years, even to the extent of annexing other nearby nations. Anecdotal evidence is given of attempts at regime change by the more covert branches of the Valendia Knights of the Peace, in Ashley's flashbacks and the testimony of Rosencrantz.

Factions:

  • Parliament
  • Kingsguard
  • Crimson Blades
  • Valendia Knights of the Peace (VKP) with Head Quarters in Valnain
  • Müllunkamp (revived religion and political faction)
  • Nobility of Valendia, the only representative member being Duke Bardoba
MullenkampHiRes
The priestess of Kiltia, Müllenkamp, who became an object of devotion in her own right, dancing the dance that became a sacred rite long before the story starts


Combine in Vagrant Story

Combine is the ultimate step to obtaining the most powerful armor and weapons in the game. It may seem at first as though it is one of the first steps, but found and dropped Damascus is so much more powerful than the other materials. That said, there will be occasions when combining bronze and iron to make Hagane will improve gear greatly, and armor or weapons not otherwise obtainable at that point can be manufactured. And most importantly, in a game where there is no experience points and no levels, gear is one of the four and possibly the most important way to progress, the other three being gaining Break Arts and other skills, physically making progress through the areas, and gaining Strength Intelligence and Agility points.

  • Design is the type of weapon; Axe or Great Axe.
  • Tier is how good a weapon of a given Design is; a Sage's Cane is superior to a Bishop's Crozier, and occupies the highest Tier of the Staves Design.
  • Progression: Same-Design combinations of consecutive Tiers that combine to make the next higher consecutive Tier of that same Design.
  • Morph: Design A + Design B = Design C. In weapon combinations, they are quite common and neither often useful nor always useless. In armor making, they are rarer, occurring only in combinations of the same tier, and where progression and armor supply are the propulsion of armor making, morphs are the steering, allowing armor pieces to change equipment type to receive bonuses of affinity, class, and most importantly Type, and then change back to another needed design based on current supplies of armor pieces.

These can be useful to turn unneeded weapon Designs into ones that can fill in gaps in Tier Progression. They occur most often near same-Tier combinations, and more with Designs with differing numbers of Tiers, because those have extra combinations above the same-Tier ones, which are often / combinations. These can come about because of some Designs of weapons having more tiers than others. So a combination of the fifth tier weapon of a Design that has six tiers with a sixth tier weapon of a Design with seven tiers yields a useful fifth tier product of another, third Design with six tiers. It is not a lower tier than both of them, but it is lower than one of them. The usefulness depends entirely on the availability of the product as a drop or chest item and the demand for it in the production chain of the third or other Designs.

  • Sometimes there are two different products of the same ingredients, depending on which order the ingredients are added. The first product listed is always the combination with the first ingredient from the left, vertical column of ingredients.
  • Mismatch; there tends to be a much heavier penalty on combinations that are close together but not consecutive, than there is for combining a very low weapon with a high one. This can be seen in the combination of the high Tier Bullova axe with Great Axes; the very lowest Great Axe combines to make a mid Tier Axe. As the Great Axes go up Tiers, the product drops in Tier. It goes up again at two Tiers below, and becomes a Morph at one Tier below.
  • Equal Combinations potentially improve the Class and Affinity of weapons without changing their Design or Tier; Daggers are a Design that sometimes produces Equal Combinations.


SnowflyForest
Ashley makes his way through the Snowfly Forest. Yasumi Matsuno created VS with its Snowflies, and the influence of this concept can be seen in Final Fantasy's Pyreflies


Rare combinations

See the article for individual examples of rare combinations; below are related principles that aid in exploiting them

There are no combinations which make Damascus shields out of lower materials. Silver shields can be made easily from any bronze shield placed in the first slot in combination with a Hagane shield placed in the second, but this is of limited use. Wood shields can be used to strengthen the damage Type resistances on Damascus shields without multiple playthroughs, as Damascus shields are very rare.

Precious metal weapons are hard to make: base materials can only be combined with Silver or Damascus to make Damascus blades, and no base materials will create Silver blades. At least no blade products will ever be of lower quality material than those of the first and second blade.

As with armor, the material of one Design is almost always retained over another. The exceptions can be a product with increased material quality. This is called Prevalence for the purpose of these guides.

Heavy Mace > Polearm > Great Axe > Great Sword > Crossbow > Axe and Mace > Sword > Staff > Dagger
The first and second positions of these combinations are as important as their Design and Materials

When combining different Body Locations of armor (called Equipments in these guides), the material of one Equipment will almost always prevail. E.g., Damascus Leg Armor plus Arm, Head or Body armor usually results in a Damascus armor piece.

Leg > Arm > Body > Head

With many individual instances of exceptions, though not adding up to a significant percentage:

  • Leg armor material type is retained when combining with any material of Arm, Body, or Head
  • Arm armor material type is retained when combining with any material of Body or Head
  • Body armor material type is retained when combining with any material of Head armor
  • Head armor combined with other armor types, consequently, is a good place to look for material conversions, as it is known to not retain its material

Leather itself is not retained when combining with other materials, let alone the Equipment type, so it does not follow the above rules.

Notably, Silver foot armor combines with Hagane foot armor to make Damascus foot armor, which because of the hierarchy noted above, will almost always convert other armor to Damascus.


Hand of Light

Hand of Light is a Heavy Mace dropped by Minotaurs and Minotaur Zombies that combines with no change to the other weapon other than Material, which becomes the same as the Hand of Light. An exception is other Heavy Maces, which usually become Hagane. Another exception is with the Hand of Light in the first Combine slot, from which third weapon Designs (Staves, Great Axes, Maces) can result

Holy Win

The Holy Win Great Sword is roughly in the same shape as the Rood Inverse; a long blade crossed by an X of a second and third double-pointed blades.
See it here at 4 minutes 30 seconds into the video It works on Axes, Crossbows, Daggers, Maces, Swords, and Staves to transmute them the same Material as the Holy Win (preferably Damascus) without changing their shape. With Great Axes, Heavy Maces or Polearms, there is no change; with other Great Swords, the material usually changes to Hagane.

Rhomphaia

Rhomphaia combines with Staves and Daggers to create blades of the same material as the Rhomphaia. Rhomphaia combined with other Designs do not change those blade's type or Material, other than Swords, which are usually transmuted to Hagane.


Featured media

VSLichLord
Lich Lords do not fit the standard definition of Liches as sorcerors who kept themselves alive through magic. Instead, the Dark and the magic that permeates Lea Monde has created them. A late-game enemy with excellent Damascus weapon drops

Vagrant Story was shipped in a 4-CD box, although it contained only 2 CDs: the main game, compressed onto a single CD, and a bonus preview CD.

First of a series of YouTube videos of all the cutscenes in Vagrant Story
If you have never seen them, this is the payoff that you always thought the world owed you, but you just could not prove it, much less get anyone to agree that it was so. If you have, well, maybe it is time to see them again.
Similar collection but with much better graphics (possibly Emulator)

UndercityWestWotML
A Skeleton Knight and Ghast in the twilight of the Way of the Mother Lode, Undercity West area


Vagrant Story Music
Vagrant Story Original Soundtrack is the video game music soundtrack from Vagrant Story. All the tracks of the soundtrack are composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, whose video game works included the soundtracks to the games Radiant Silvergun, Final Fantasy XII, Odin Sphere and GrimGrimoire, with additional arrangement by Takeharu Ishimoto for Track 2–30 and Hirosato Noda for Track 2–31. A Japanese orchestra ensemble, Shinozuka Group, performed for the orchestral piece of Track 2–29. All synthesizing operations are led by Takeharu Ishimoto with assistance from Hidenori Iwasaki for Track 1–1 and Hirosato Noda for Track 2–18.


VSWyvernKnight
Wyverns' serpentine bodies allow them to penetrate deep into the labyrinths of Lea Monde, despite their great size


New Game Plus

Like several Square titles, the New Game Plus option is made available to the player upon first completing the game. In Vagrant Story, selecting "New Game+" enables the player to replay the story using their end-game weapons, items, and statistics instead of the defaults and unlocks some new paths to new enemies, chests, and bosses.[1] This option allows players to access a hidden level, which features more intimidating enemies and more powerful equipment. The story does not change, and original enemy statistics will remain at default.


VSSkeletonKnight
Vagrant Story's skeletons combine what might seem an implausible combination of the usual undead awkwardness with great speed, that works surprisingly well. Just another reason VS is a fan favorite


Evolve or Die

In addition to fighting, Ashley can run, jump, and push a variety of crates and cubes to get around impassable obstacles, adding a minor puzzle and platforming element to gameplay. During the course of the game, the player will run into a variety of block puzzles requiring the player to solve them to continue the story. When the player returns to any room containing a completed block puzzle, a time-attack mode called "Evolve or Die" will begin, requiring the player to reach the end of the room, solving the puzzle, in the shortest time possible. A ranking will be given to assess the player's performance in solving puzzles.


Items

See Main Article: Grimoires, Sigils, Keys, and Other Inventory Items in Vagrant Story

Vagrant Story offers a severe limit on the numbers of items allowed in inventory, which adds the challenge of resource management to inventory, and location management as well, as the more copious Chests are a desirable resource and a base of operations. Finding a new chest can amount to an advance in the game as notable as finding a new save point.

Weapons, Blades, and Break Arts as well, are all classified by the same categories, which makes life a lot easier. Hafts, or Grips as they are called, are intuitively grouped into small clumps of weapon types.

Curative items and Grimoires are found in the Miscellaneous, or Misc, tab, and available for use in combat. Grimoires still require Magic Points when used, but the Area Effect spells' Grimoires only become redundant after the fourth, as each successive consumption of that Grimoire type makes the spell increase in power.


VSDarkEye

Equip

See Main Article: Vagrant Story Armor

  • All armor has a particular Body Location; a part of the body where a particular piece is equipped; for example, a Chain Sleeve or Gauntlet on each arm.
    • Shield • R. Arm • L. Arm • Head • Body • Legs • Accessory

Shields and Accessory Items are interchangeably treated as either Armor Items or not, depending on the needs of the guide they are in.

  • All weapons are designated a Design. A Spear and a Halberd, for example, are both Polearms; they both can be used for cutting and slashing or stabbing, with varying degrees of efficiency, but the one thing that is intrinsic to both is that all this is done at a distance; the long haft of the weapon gives the user more reach.
  • All equipment is divided up into Materials. Low quality armor is made of Leather, or Bronze; weapons of Bronze, and Shields of Wood. The highest level equipment is all made of Damascus, Silver, or Hagane. Iron is mid-level.
  • All equipment is divided up into Tiers.
    • A Close Helm is not only inferior in protection to a Burgonet, it Combines differently too. Because the two weapons are next to each other in Tiers, they will combine to make the next higher weapon of their Body Location, a Hoplite Helm. If they were two Tiers apart, eg a Close Helm with a Hoplite Helm, they would make a product that is inferior to the higher tier ingredient, in this case, a Burgonet. If they were more than two Tiers apart, eg a Close Helm with a Jazeraint Helm, they would create a much lower product still. This is called Mismatch in this guide.
    • A Hand Axe is not only inferior in damage to a Battle Axe, it Combines differently too, because the two weapons are next to each other in Tiers, and will combine to make the next higher weapon of their Design,
  • Weapons have Types, which distinguish the manner in which they are most effectively wielded to inflict damage. A Claymore slashes at its opponent with its sharp edge, therefore it is Edged. A Rapier is generally held at arms' length and used to stab through chinks in the opponent's armor or Pierce through the armor altogether. Heavy hammer weapons such as Footman's Mace or War Hammer are designed more to knock back, knock down, and bludgeon opponents, rather than cutting or stabbing; they are Blunt, and primarily inflict blunt force trauma.
  • Shields are represented only by their Tiers, there is no other differentiation


VSDullahan
Dullahans, and indeed all animated armors in VS are Evil. The Dark has taken control of a suit of armor and made it into a machine of malevolence


Weapons

See Main Articles: Vagrant Story Weapons

Weapons are limited to eight in inventory. They are the completed weapons, ready to use; eight is not enough to represent each of the ten weapon types. Blades, the working part of the weapon, are categorized the same.

Blades

See Blades and Grips
  • Axe • Crossbow • Dagger • Great Axe • Great Sword • Heavy Mace • Mace • Polearm • Staff • Sword

Axes and Maces are very similar in use; chopping and hammering are similar actions with different effects. They both have short handles. Their damage leapfrogs in early levels. This has lead other guides to group them together.

However, the real key, apart from their damage types, is that they do not combine the same. Every other two weapons of the same type but next to each other in power will make the next more powerful weapon; axes and maces do not, with rare exceptions. Every other two weapons of different types but of different power will 'devolve' the higher one into one of the same type but lower in power than either; this, axes and maces do, therefore they are different types.

Affinities, Class and Type

See Main Article Affinities, Class and Type

Each gem, armor, and weapon piece in the game has additional "affinities". There are six "creature type" affinities and eight "elemental" affinities. Weapons gain the affinities of the enemies they are most commonly used to attack; armor gains the affinities of attacks it receives. What a weapon or piece of armor gains in one area it will lose in another, though typically using a weapon will add more to its overall affinities than the weapon will lose and item combination is usually favorable to the player. In this way no single weapon or shield is equally powerful against all foes; however, powerful weapons and armor can be combined, merging their affinities (and possibly creating a new type of blade or armor in the process).

The key to defeating most foes in the game is carrying a weapon of the right damage type; inherent affinities add a considerable bonus but are not as important, as gems that improve affinities or spells that imbue a weapon with an element are readily available.


Grips

See Blades and Grips

The weapons are divided up differently when it comes to Grips, the hilt or haft of the weapon. Grips are a smaller selection of items, consolidated into groups of weapon types. This makes a deal of sense; two hafted weapons such as a Morning Star and a Hand Axe vary significantly with regard to their business end, but much less so with regard to what you hold onto.

  • Haft: Axes / Maces / Staves • Stock: Crossbow • Hilt: Daggers / Swords / Great Swords • Shaft: Polearms


Gems

See Gems

Basically, there are three or four tiers of gems, and the further into the game, the more powerful found gems become. They can provide either protection or attacking power, depending on whether they are placed in Shields or in weapon hilts and hafts (Grips).

They represent all of the Class (enemy species), Affinity (element) and damage Types used in the combat system, allowing weapons a head start and greater power as regards customization. However, the rate at which a weapon will acquire additional points in Class or Affinity is reduced by the gem bonus. This can be used to advantage, to slow the decay of desirable following Classes or opposing Affinities that accompanies gains.


Citations



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