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Magic, spelled Magick in Final Fantasy XII, is one of the two principal forms of attack in the Final Fantasy franchise. Its specific features vary significantly between games, although many of its concepts have remained consistent throughout the franchise.
Magic spells are divided into offensive, restorative and indirect categories. In games where the player can automatically sort their order of spells (such as Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy VIII) the three types of magic are labeled as "Attack," "Restore" and "Indirect." Offensive and restorative usually affect the HP and/or MP of the target based on their magic resistance, and possibly their resistance to a given element. Indirect spells (e.g. Confuse, Slow, Berserk) constitute the vague "other" category and contains spells that cause and cure status effects, affect speed of an opponent, modify a target's statistics, raise or dispel magical barriers and various other results depending on the game.
By default, offensive and negative indirect spells target enemies, while restorative and supportive indirect spells target party members, although in some games, it is possible to cast restorative spells against the enemy, or cast offensive spells against a party member. There are a number of reasons for casting spells at the non-default group. For example, casting cure (or life) on an undead enemy causes damage. Also, by casting an offensive spell against an ally with the reflect status, the spell bounces off the ally onto an enemy as a method of circumvent the enemy's own reflect status.
Within the boundaries of the series, offensive spells are generally classified as Black Magic, and restorative spells are generally classified as White Magic. The offensive / defensive distinctions between Black and White Magic are not always clear. For example, the White Magic spell Holy deals a large amount of Holy elemental damage to a target, and the White spell Cure (which is normally a restorative spell) inflicts damage on undead monsters. An elemental spell cast against an enemy that absorbs that element will actually cure the target rather than harm it. The indirect spells are divided into different categories depending on the individual game. For example, the indirect spell Haste would be a part of a Time Mage's spell compendium in one game, and in a different game it would be a White Magic spell.
Spells can also be divided into elemental spells and non-elemental spells. Elemental magic is associated with a particular element of nature, such as Fire, Ice, Lightning, Water, Wind, and Earth. The number and names of the elemental spells vary from game to game. For instance, Lightning is sometimes referred to as Thunder. Sometimes two other elements, Holy (aka Light) and Dark (aka Shadow) are added. Non-elemental spells are not associated with an element. Examples include spells that affect the status of the target, such as Sleep or Haste.
Some games have Summon Magic, in which the character calls another entity to perform the actual magic, which serves in either offensive or defensive capacity.
Each magic caster possesses a level of magic power, which affects the damage of a given spell. Characters with higher magic power will deal more damage than the same spell cast by someone with a lower magic power. Certain characters can have affinities to an element: for example, a Fire magic spell from a fire-based character will cause more damage than a wind-based character casting it. Each target possesses magic resistance, which lessens the effect of magic spells. In addition to the magic resistance of the target, certain targets have a different resistance (positive or negative) to certain elementals: they may receive more damage than usual from spells associated with that elemental (usually 200% damage) or less (usually 50%); they may nullify the damage (0%) or absorb it (usually 100% of the damage is converted to health gain). Non-elemental magic damage depends only on magic resistance.
Starting with Final Fantasy V, two new categories of magic were introduced, Blue Magic and Time Magic. Blue Magic is a special class of magic, since its spells are normally learned when receiving certain attacks from enemy monsters. Time Magic incorporates a number of status-inducing spells that were previously classified as offensive or defensive, such as Slow, Haste, and Stop. Prior to this, Stop was classified as Black Magic and Haste was classified as White Magic except in the original Final Fantasy, where it appeared as a Black Magic spell) while Slow has appeared inconsistently under either category, depending on the game. Some subsequent titles retained the Time Magic category, while others did not.
In many games, only certain job categories can cast certain spells. For example, a White Mage can cast white spells, while a Black Mage can cast black spells. In some games, there is also a Red Mage that can cast spells from the Black and White magic. Usually a Red Mage cannot learn the highest spells, and usually is not especially powerful at casting either.
In Final Fantasy XI, spells are also divided by magic skills. As a character uses spells from a certain magic skill, their skill in that category increases, making magic for that particular skill more accurate.
In Final Fantasy XII, Green Magick and Arcane Magick are introduced. Green Magick focuses on some of the major status effects such as Protect, Shell, Blind, and Silence. Arcane Magick contains obscure yet effective ones such as Gravity, Drain, Berserk, and the Bubble spell, which temporarily doubles the target's HP. Final Fantasy XII is also the first to have a full arsenal of Dark-elemental magics (Dark, Darkra, Darkga), but Earth-elemental magics are missing.
In some games the non-elemental spells Flare and Meteor are among the strongest spells available. Another major non-elemental spell is Ultima, a spell that first appeared in Final Fantasy II and in various capacities throughout the series. In most games in which it appears, Ultima is most powerful non-summon spell that can be learned.
In most Final Fantasy games, certain types of magic are divided into various power levels. As the player progresses through the game, successively more powerful versions of basic spells become available. The series has developed a naming convention to identify second, third, and fourth level magic spells, which appends a specific suffix to the name of the first level spell, with possible minor variations in the root word. The three suffixes are "ra", "ga", and "ja".
For example, the name of the second level version of Thunder is named Thundara and the third is Thundaga. Likewise, the second and third levels of Fire are Fira and Firaga respectively, and Blizzard becomes Blizzara and Blizzaga.
The fourth level suffix (-ja) is infrequently used; few games in the series feature magic spells with four power levels, Cure being the only example in more recent titles. Other examples are the Dia and Heal spells. In the few times they are used, elemental spells such as Thundaja are very powerful.
Spells can target individuals or groups. In some cases, targeting a group requires a higher level of a spell; in other cases, the target can be for an individual or an entire group. However, when targeting a group, the strength and/or duration of the spell is often less than when targeting an individual.
Final Fantasy II has a vastly different magic system from other games in the main series. Spell names are in katakana, and rather than appending one of the above suffixes to signify a more powerful version of a spell, a simple numerical modifier was added to the end of the name. Each spell could be raised to level 16. For example, if Thunder were leveled up to level 16, it would be called "Thunder 16". Enemy spells used Latin number suffixes, such as 'XVI' for level 16.
In early English localizations of the Final Fantasy series, those prior to Final Fantasy VIII, translators decided to use a simple numerical modifier instead. For example, Firaga is named "Fire 3" and Thundara is denoted as "Lit2" or "Bolt2".
In Final Fantasy Tactics, the fourth level Black and White Magic spells cover a considerably larger area where massive amounts of damage is dealt or large amounts of healing. Like the lower levels, fourth level magic is indiscriminate of who is in the target radius. Damage or healing can be accidentally or forcefully done to friends or foes respectively. Fourth level Black and White Magic cannot be Calculated.
In Final Fantasy XI, spells tiers are distinguished from each other by Roman numerals (e.g., Thunder, Thunder II, Cure, Cure II). Fourth level spells (such as Cure IV and Thunder IV) are equivalent to the -ja suffix found in previous Final Fantasy games. The suffixes 'ra' and 'ga' denote area-of-effect magic. Some spells reach a fifth tier, although with the exception of Cure V, Protectra V, and Shellra V, they are mostly unavailable to players and even enemies.
In Final Fantasy XII, the Espers use the -ja spells, which are renamed Concurrences.
In Kingdom Hearts II, accessories use the fourth level of Fire, Thunder and Blizzard with the suffix "ragun" (Firagun, Thundragun, Blizzagun, respectively).
Items, armor, and weapons
In most Final Fantasy games, a collection of items have effects similar to various magic spells. In some cases, items can have different levels that correspond to the level of the spell. For example, in Final Fantasy VII, Bolt Plume casts Bolt 2 against all enemies, while Swift Bolt casts Bolt 3 against all enemies. These items can be useful for those characters who are incapable of casting a given spell, as well as when a character is temporarily unable to cast spells, such as when afflicted with the Silence status or a lack of Magic Points. Most items may only be used once, and some may only be used in battle, while others can only be used from the field menu. Menu-restricted items often cast spells such as Warp, which teleports the player's party out of a dungeon or region.
Armor can have elemental properties, generally protecting the wearer from certain elemental attacks. Armor also may have three levels, with varying effects: for the first level, the armor will lessen the effect of an elemental attack (strong); for the second, the armor eliminates the effect of the attack (immune); for the third, the armor will absorb the attack, healing the wearer. Also, a character can wear a mixture of elemental armor, such as body armor that absorbs Fire, and a helmet that absorbs Thunder.
Some weapons can deal elemental attacks a certain percentage of the time, and/or inflict status effects. In early games in the series, weapons with elemental attack attributes could be accessed from the item list in battle and used to cast certain magic spells (such as the Judgment Staff casting Flare in Final Fantasy). Certain weapons, such as Healing Rod, can have restorative powers, although these same weapons would inflict damage on undead targets.
Types of magic
|White Magic||Final Fantasy||White Mage||These spells usually heal or assist party members in some other form. A few examples include Cure, Life, and Holy.|
|Black Magic||Final Fantasy||Black Mage||These spells are primarily offensive, and several make use of an elemental power, such as fire, ice, or lightning. Fire, Thunder, and Blizzard are a few common Black Magic spells. The most powerful one is either Ultima or Flare, depending on the game.|
|Summon Magic||Final Fantasy III||Summoner||Summons a powerful creature named a summon to fight for or defend the party, doing everything from setting enemies on fire to blocking for the party.|
|Time Magic||Final Fantasy V||Time Mage||These spells either affect the flow of time or warps matter. Common spells include Slow, Haste, Warp and Gravity.|
|Blue Magic||Final Fantasy V||Blue Mage||This incorporates spells and abilities learned from enemy characters and monsters.|
Not every game necessarily classifies spells in this manner, and the specific classification of a spell can vary from game to game. Final Fantasy Tactics, for instance, introduced a new subdivision of magic (Yin-Yang Magic) utilized by the Oracle job class, consisting of status-altering spells such as Confusion or Sleep. This category has not subsequently appeared in any other Final Fantasy title, but is classified as Green Magic in Final Fantasy XII, and is classified as Arcane Magic in Final Fantasy X-2 and is used primarily by the Dark Knight job class. Furthermore, both status and time-altering spells in Final Fantasy VI were called "effect magic" and given a "Gray" alignment to indicate that they were neither Black nor White.
Other types of magic
Spellblade is the ability used by Mystic Knights in Final Fantasy V to endow an equipped sword with an offensive magic spell (as such both Flare and Holy can be used, even though they are from different magic classes), or with status-harmful spells (such as Poison or Sleep). When they strike the enemy with the enchanted blade it engulfs the enemy with the selected spell as well as slicing them.
Effect Magic appears in Final Fantasy VI. Traditionally black magic spells which do not deal damage, such as Confuse and Sleep, and traditionally white magic spells which do not heal, such as Protect, Shell and Libra / Scan, are included in this category.
Dark Arts, appearing only in Final Fantasy V Advance, is magic utilized by the secret Necromancer job class. To learn this magic, a Necromancer must defeat an enemy that knows the spell. The Dark Arts are often expensive to use, but they are among the strongest spells within the game.
Arcane Magic (also named Arcana) was first introduced in Final Fantasy X-2 as the magic used by Dark Knights. It is also one of the five magic classes in Final Fantasy XII. This class of magic features unusual offensive and debilitating such as Confuse, Death, Dark and Gravity, as well as buffs such as Bubble and spells with both offensive and support uses such as Berserk, Drain and Syphon. Arcane Magic overlaps mainly with Black Magic, although it also includes. The first Arcane Mage appears in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift as a Nu Mou-specific job.
Green Magic was introduced in Final Fantasy XII, and was formerly known as Yin-Yang magic in Final Fantasy Tactics. Green magic consists of spells that affect a character's status, with positive or negative effects. Green magic includes spells such as Protect, Shell, Blind, Silence, and Poison. There's a first true Green Mage as a job class for the Viera in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift.
Mystic Arts was introduced in Final Fantasy Tactics: War of The Lions. Having all the spells of Green Magic, the Mystic Arts differs with Absorption Spells (invigoration and rejuvenate) which focus of transferring HP or MP from a target to the user.
Throughout the course of the series, there have been many magic-like abilities that are not strictly called magic. They usually do not require MP to use. In Final Fantasy III, many classes have a spell-like ability unique to that class. For example, Dark Knights can use Souleater/Darkness to attack all enemies at once at the cost of their own HP, and Warriors can Advance to increase their attack power while sacrificing defense. Magic-like abilities also include "special/skill" (Final Fantasy X) and "technicks" (Final Fantasy XII). Some examples are the command abilities Devour, Treatment, and Recover (Final Fantasy VIII) and certain abilities gained by equipping materia (Final Fantasy VII). Limit Breaks may also have effects similar to magic spells.
Ninjutsu, shown in both Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy XI, deals with ninja-related abilities. It is used by Edge in Final Fantasy IV and by adventurers sporting the Ninja class in Final Fantasy XI. It deals with both supportive and offensive magic, to assist the character in battle. Some of these abilities happen to be special abilities that are in the form of a spell. Ninjutsu has been seen in other games in the series, however in these cases it has usually referred to physical abilities rather than magic. This classification is also found in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance under the job class Ninja, although in the game itself, the naming is Ninja Skill.
Geomancy, used by the character class geomancer, comprises very different spells compared to the other classes. They can control the environment around them. Geomancers were first introduced in Final Fantasy III. In most of the games they appear in, the magic manifests itself as a single command (in Final Fantasy III the command was called Terrain) that uses the spell for the terrain the character is currently fighting in. Final Fantasy VI had a slightly different form of Geomancy with Mog's Dance command. Mog learned a dance for every terrain he fought in, and by performing that dance he could use the spells of that terrain. Geomancy also appeared in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance as a support ability that boosts a Black Mage's magical spells.
Songs are classified as magic in Final Fantasy V. Bards generally use magic for support, but Alluring Air confuses enemies, while Romeo's Ballad stops them, and Requiem damages undead. Bards are available in Final Fantasy XI and have MP regeneration songs and stat boosting songs. The job may not be as popular as some other advanced jobs, but Bards can be very powerful allies in large parties. The Songstress dressphere of Final Fantasy X-2 allows attribute-enhancing songs to be sung with the Sing command (such as the magic-boosting Esoteric Melody or the aid to evasion Matador's Song). Some of the status-inflicting dances can benefit the party as well.