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Materia (マテリア?, from the Latin word for "matter") are small spheres of crystallized spiritual energy used in the magic system of Final Fantasy VII. These spheres allow their users to cast various magic and use special abilities. The energy from which they form originates in the Lifestream, a river of spiritual energy coursing through the planet. Aside from this energy's application in the creation of materia, it can also be drawn out of the earth to be harnessed as a source of electrical energy called mako.
In the game, materia is created when mako (spiritual energy from inside the Planet that rises to the surface and condenses into a liquid) crystallizes, forming an orb. Within materia reside the knowledge and memories of those who have lived and died in the past. Materia functions by acting as a conduit between its wielder and the Planet's Lifestream, allowing the memories associated with that materia to be manifested in a physical sense, as what is referred to as "magic." Years before Final Fantasy VII began, the Shinra discovered a means to manufacture materia within their Mako Reactors, and — recognizing its profitable potential — quickly monopolized its production and marketed it. They also outfitted their SOLDIER units with it as weaponry, quickly bringing an international war that had lasted for several years to an end.
In the postwar era to follow, the people's dependency on Shinra's mako reactors and materia would allow the company to control the world. Materia can form from crystallized mako both naturally and artificially, but finding a natural source of materia is extremely rare. One such "mako fountain" exists in the mountains above Nibelheim.
Final Fantasy VII
In Final Fantasy VII, materia is equipped to characters to create different effects. The 5 types are Magic Materia (Green), which allow the user to cast spells; Command Materia (Yellow), which allow the user to use special commands or abilities; Summon Materia (Red), which allow the user to summon monsters; Support Materia (Blue), which combine with green, yellow, and red materia to enhance their effects; and Independent Materia (Purple), which automatically take effect to affect the user (or entire party in some cases).
Compilation of Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
In the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, rather than wearing equipment with materia slots, three characters (Kadaj, Yazoo and Loz) absorb materia directly into their bodies prior to utilizing it. This, among other traits of the three characters, identifies them as something other than ordinary humans, as Professor Hojo had determined that materia could not be directly implanted into humans' bodies without specially designed prosthetics. Following the plot in the movie, these three characters revealed to be remnant spirits. Another game-to-film discrepancy is that Kadaj uses a green materia to summon Bahamut SIN. Green materia were originally used, in the game, for offensive and defensive spells such as Fire, Quake, and Cure. Summon materia were denominated by the color red in the game.
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII
In Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, it is revealed that an ancient materia is utilized in order to allow Vincent Valentine to control Chaos, a powerful creature he can transform into (which is also his ultimate Limit Break in the original Final Fantasy VII). Also, in Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, Fuhito of AVALANCHE plans to make use of a powerful summon called "Zirconiade" in a plan to kill all living things on the surface of the planet, and, in so doing, ensure the planet's survival and revitalization. Furthermore, the Turks make use of materia in their weaponry in Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII.
The size of materia has changed since its inception in the original game. Materia crystals at this time were roughly marble-sized (The exception being the Black Materia, being about the size of a baseball), and can be seen in several characters' weapons in the official artwork. However, in titles such as Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Materia have increased in size and are closer in size to the Black Materia. The materia in Before Crisis is similar in size to that used in the original game.
Within the game engine, materia would grow more powerful with constant usage which is gained through AP. When materia is mastered, it stops growing and eventually gives birth to a new materia of the same type.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, materia can be found as treasure on proposition missions accepted at various bars in Ivalice. However, the materia is not usable in the game. In addition, the Materia Blade - a sword that can be found at Bervenia Volcano - is the only weapon in the game that allows Cloud - appearing as an optional secret character - to use his Limit Break abilities.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, materia is the substance produced from materite. There are two pieces of equipment made from materia in this game: the Materia Blade (which teaches Ultima Sword to Gladiators and Ultima Charge to Mog Knights) and Materia Armor (which has one of the highest defensive stats in the game).
- In Final Fantasy VI, the substance known as "Magicite," the crystallized essence of a passed-on Esper which can be equipped and used to summon that Esper duiring battle, bears a marked similarity to Materia (or rather, Materia bears resemblance to it, as Magicite appeared earlier).
- In the Quest mode of Ehrgeiz, materia are the source of magical abilities. Also, in the game's backstory, the Ehrgeiz sword is said to have a materia set into its hilt.
Spell/Magic (Green) Materia
Materia that contains the regular Magic of Final Fantasy VII. This type of materia allows magic spells to be cast, divided into three groups: Attack Magic, Indirect Magic, and Curative/Restorative Magic. They are as follows:
- Fire: Fire, Fire 2, and Fire 3
- Ice: Ice, Ice 2, and Ice 3
- Lightning: Bolt, Bolt 2, and Bolt 3
- Earth: Quake, Quake 2, and Quake 3
- Poison: Bio, Bio 2, and Bio 3
- Gravity: Demi, Demi 2, and Demi 3
- Restore: Cure, Cure 2, Cure 3, and Regen
- Revive: Life and Life 2
- Heal: Poisona, Esuna, and Resist
- Barrier: Barrier, M Barrier, Reflect, and Wall
- Destruct: DeBarrier, DeSpell, and Death
- Mystify: Confuse and Berserk
- Seal: Sleep and Silence
- Transform: Mini and Toad
- Time: Haste, Slow, and Stop
- Exit: Escape and Remove
- Comet: Comet and Comet 2
- Contain: Freeze, Break, Tornado, and Flare
- Full-Cure: Full-Cure
- Shield: Shield
- Ultima: Ultima
- Master Magic: All Magic
Summon (Red) Materia
Materia that contains the Summons of Final Fantasy VII. They are as follows:
- Choco/Mog - (Deathblow/Fat Chocobo)
- Shiva - (Diamond Dust)
- Ifrit - (Hellfire)
- Ramuh - (Judgement Bolt)
- Titan - (Anger of the Land)
- Odin - (Gunge Lance/Steel-Bladed Sword)
- Kjata - (Tetra Disaster)
- Bahamut - (Mega Flare)
- Alexander - (Holy Judgement)
- Neo Bahamut - (Giga Flare)
- Leviathan - (Tidal Wave)
- Phoenix - (Rebirth Flame)
- Hades - (Black Cauldron)
- Bahamut ZERO - (Tera Flare)
- Typoon - (Disintegration)
- Knights of the Round - (Ultimate End)
- Master Summon: All Summons
Command (Yellow) Materia
Materia that has all the extra commands in Final Fantasy VII. They are as follows:
- Steal: Steal and Mug
- Sense: Sense
- Enemy Skill: Enemy Skill (See Blue Mage for list of spells.)
- Throw: Throw and Coin
- Manipulate: Manipulate
- Deathblow: Deathblow
- Morph: Morph
- Double Cut: 2x-Cut and 4x-Cut
- X Magic: X Magic
- X Summon: X Summon
- X Item: X Item
- Mime: Mime
- Slash All: Slash All and Flash
- Master Command: All Commands except Enemy Skills.
Support (Blue) Materia
Materia that contains the Support abilities of Final Fantasy VII. They are as follows:
- All: All effects on paired Green.
- Elemental: Adds Elemental Attacks and Defenses.
- Added Effect: Adds Status Attacks and Defenses.
- HP Absorb: Drains enemy's HP if attached orb damages.
- MP Absorb: Drains enemy's MP if attached orb damages.
- Added Cut: Attack when using attached orb.
- MP Turbo: Uses extra MP and increases power of paired Green/Red.
- Steal as Well: Steal simultaneously while using attached orb.
- Magic Counter: Counter with attached Green/Red.
- Final Attack: Cast attached when character dies.
- Quadra Magic: Attached orb will cast randomly 4 times.
- Sneak Attack: Cast attached orb at the beginning of battle.
- Counter: Counter with attached Yellow.
Independent (Purple) Materia
Materia that is totally independent on its own. It contains some support abilities, or abilities you'd find within certain accessories. They are as follows:
- Cover: Increase Defense and protect other characters.
- Chocobo Lure: Attract Chocobos more often (while on tracks)
- Long Range: Same attack strength in front/back row.
- Counter Attack: Counterattack when struck.
- Enemy Lure: Increases Enemy encounter rate.
- Enemy Away: Decreases Enemy encounter rate.
- Speed Plus: Increases Speed.
- Luck Plus: Increases Luck.
- Magic Plus: Increases Magic.
- HP Plus: Increases Max HP.
- MP Plus: Increases Max MP.
- Gil Plus: Increases Gil gained from battles.
- Exp. Plus: Increases EXP gained from battles.
- Pre-Emptive: Increases First Strike chances.
- HP<--->MP: Swaps Max HP and Max MP.
- Mega All: Commands/Spells target all.
- Underwater: Removes timer from Emerald WEAPON.
- Black Materia: It is utilized to cast Meteor, the Ultimate Destructive Magic in Final Fantasy VII, capable of destroying an entire planet. Much of the plot in the game revolves around the pursuit of the Black Materia, both by the game's heroes (in order to safeguard it from those who would misuse it) and by the game's villain, Sephiroth (as a vehicle for his plans). The party is able to obtain the materia at the Temple of the Ancients, but main character Cloud Strife is forced to relinquish it to Sephiroth, both there, and a second time later at the Northern Crater, allowing Sephiroth to cast Meteor. Like the White Materia, the Black Materia is a major plot device and does not exist as a materia in the strictest game terms (i.e., the player cannot equip it in any menus or use it in battle), though it does appear as a "Key Item" in the Key Item inventory for a short period of the game.
- White Materia: It can cast the spell called Holy, which will protect the Planet, and is the antithesis of the Black Materia (and, by the same token, Holy is the antithesis of Meteor). Where Meteor is the Ultimate Destructive Magic, Holy is the pinnacle of defensive magic, at least so far as regarding the Planet. It is for this reason that the party seeks out the White Materia during the latter part of the game, though it can only be used by one with an understanding of its purpose and only in the City of the Ancients. Like all materia, the White Materia links its wielder to the Planet, and if their request to the Planet to release Holy is granted, the White Materia will glow pale green as a symbol of this. When Aerith Gainsborough is killed by Sephiroth, the White Materia finds its final resting place at the bottom of a lake in the City of the Ancients. Being a major plot device, the White Materia cannot be equipped or used in battle, and technically does not exist as an item at all in the game engine.
- Huge Materia: It is highly refined and condensed mako, created in the heart of mako reactors. During the course of the game, Shinra intended to use the Huge Materia as a weapon to destroy the approaching Meteor spell cast by Sephiroth. A sizeable part of the storyline is dedicated to the retrieval of four pieces of Huge Materia, although it is not actually necessary to recover the items for the story's purposes. Failure to do so simply limits the amount of Master materia available to the player later in the game, and prevents the player from acquiring the Bahamut ZERO Summon materia.
Materia works in conjunction with "slots" in a weapon or armor, utilized to store materia for use in battle (be aware that all materia crystals are the same size and shape, except the Black and White Materia, which are not available to the player, and the Huge Materia crystals, which can not be carried around). Within the game engine, slots come in individual or linked-pair varieties; the latter allows the use of Support materia to enhance the functionality of a single linked materia orb of Summon, Magic, or Command materia.
Most materia lower one or more of the physical characteristics of the character they are equipped on (primarily HP, but also Defense). Therefore, a character stocked with many materia will have many abilities at their disposal but will suffer in other areas of performance, making the balanced application of materia an important ability to master.
Materia growth is the process through which materia orbs used in battle improve in potency. At the end of each successful battle, Ability Points (AP) are applied to all materia carried by characters who are conscious at the time the encounter ended. Each orb has levels which must be reached to allow the materia to grow and improve. Most Magic materia contain three different spells, which become available as the materia gains AP. For example, Fire materia enables the character to cast Fire on its first level. Evolving the materia to the second level enables Fira, a stronger version of the same spell, and its third level yields Firaga, the strongest spell available to that materia orb. Summon materia, when leveled up, will provide the user the ability to use the summon multiple times in battle. If the Summon materia is at level three, for example, the caster may summon that particular summon monster three times in any given battle. Command materia tend to have fewer abilities to learn, with the exception of the Enemy Skill orb which does not gain AP but rather "learns" attacks cast upon the wearer by monsters, much like the Blue Mage of various other Final Fantasy games. Independent and Support materia do not gain new abilities as they level, but their potency in battle does improve (for example, an HP Plus Independent materia levels up from +10% to +20% of the user's maximum HP).
When a materia has gained a certain amount of levels, it will become "mastered", after which it will no longer evolve, and at which time it will duplicate a new, fresh piece of the same type of materia. Some mastered materia sell for a large sum of gil (the currency used in the game); for example, a mastered All materia sells for 1.4 million gil. Speed of materia growth is linked to the weapon in which the materia is equipped - some weapons provide double or triple growth at the expense of having fewer slots to equip materia in, whilst the overwhelming majority of the character's "ultimate weapons" have zero materia growth but many linked slots.
Although the party uses materia to help them in their quest, it harms the planet by drawing a small amount of spirit energy each time it is used. In the original game Cloud says, "Since we're fighting for the life of the Planet, it goes against my beliefs carrying too much Materia." Two years later in Advent Children, Cloud keeps all of their materia hidden away in the church. They are only used by the enemies in the film, even after Yuffie recovers most of them.