Hey guys! Fernehalwes here. Long time no lore!
Thanks to everybody who stayed up late to watch the lore portion of the 14-hour PLL featuring Oda-san and myself. I apologize for not having real-time subtitles, but half of that presentation was ad-libbed, so it would’ve been tricky to make it work.
I do, however, want to chime in and give you guys a quick, official rundown of what we talked about. As the focus of the talk was on landmarks located in 2.0 areas, most of the information was supplementary to what had already been revealed in-game through quests, NPC dialogue, balloon text, etc.
Bear in mind, this is a loose summary based off of what I remember we talked about. It is not a transcript, and some things may be out of order, slightly embellished, or missing.
The Pugilists’ Guild
The design on the red flag in front of the guild is not of a sword, but of a flame─the same flame that appears on Ul’dah’s flag which features a scale balancing the gem of fortune and the flame of strength. The flag, however, did not exist until right before the ARR Alpha Test. During one of Yoshi-P’s runs through the game, he commented on how he thought there should be some sort of visual aid outside each guild to help players easily recognize which buildings were guilds, stores, and whatnot. He ordered the art and graphics teams to quickly come up with red flags to represent all of the guilds specializing in the martial disciplines.
We talked a little here about how there are two main ways we come up with lore─one is when we have an idea, and it gets transformed into a name or design. The second is how the team has an idea, and we are asked to make it fit in the world. This case with the red flag falls into the latter, as we had to scramble to make the lore work for something that the director had already decided to implement.
Finally, Mochizuki-san asked about who the Miqo’te carved into the shield hanging outside the guild was. According to Oda-san, she was a former guild member whose beauty caught the eye of the guildmaster. As a fighter, her skills were simply mediocre.
The Eighty Sins of Sasamo
We talked a little bit about how some place names originate in Japanese and are translated into English, while others originate in English and are translated into Japanese. The Eighty Sins of Sasamo is one of the latter─the Japanese name being actually simpler than the English: The Eighty Steps of Sasamo. If you count, there are currently only 77 steps, but I confirmed that there were originally 80, with 3 being lost to erosion, earthquakes, and etcetera. The back story to this place name is actually quite complex, but instead of explaining it here, I want to do a proper explanation in game. In fact, I have already written the plot line of a quest that explains the story, but the problem is finding the right timing to implement it, what with the focus of the game shifted to the north and the areas around Ishgard. However, if I can’t find a place to slip the quest into the game by the 3rd anniversary, I’ll just tell the story at that 14-hour stream (if we do one).
The Silent King
Oda-san talked a bit about how the ruins are from Belah’dia, and how Belah’dia was originally founded by the survivors of Mhach (a city of magic that thrived in the Yafaem Saltmoor─a currently inaccessible region to the northwest of Mor Dhona─during the Fifth Astral Era). He also mentioned how a lot more can be learned about the ruins and their past by playing the quest “The Greatest Story Never Told, ”and solving the riddles left by Winebaud. I added that this was one of the most difficult quests for the Localization team to translate, as many of the riddles in the quest were based on Japanese words and kanji characters. The English, French, and German versions of this quest were all localized in ways that would feel natural in the target languages, making no one language’s quest like another.
We talked a little about the similarities in the architecture found in ruins across Thanalan, and how those similarities are a result of the Mhachi influence on Belah’dian, and then from there Sil’dihn and Ul’dahn styles. Oda-san mentioned how he provides the art team with extensive background information on the histories of each area, so that they know what manner of styles that need to be incorporated into their designs to make sure things stay consistent with the lore.
I chimed in here about speculation on the NA Lore forums about similarities in the designs used in Azys Lla architecture and the Sunken Temple of Qarn, and if the Allagans actually created the temple. Oda-san denied this.
Oda-san talked quickly about the Traders, Nald’Thal, and how Nald and Thal are the two aspects of one god, the former representing profit in the current world, the latter representing profit in the afterlife. We were slightly behind schedule here, so we wrapped up quickly before teleporting to Limsa Lominsa.
The Japanese name of this bridge translates literally to “lost child bridge,” but can also mean simply “lost bridge.” This name was given because there was not supposed to be any water in the creek that the bridge spans (due to the craziness of the Calamity), making it seem that the bridge had quite literally “lost its way.” The problem was, after naming it, we went into the game and realized that the creek did have water flowing in it. When Oda-san went and asked the designer why water had been added, he was told that without water, the creek simply looked like a rocky road, and not much like a dried up riverbed, and so it was decided that water should be added back (strictly for aesthetic reasons). Instead of changing the name, Oda-san merely decided to retool the lore, changing it to that the bridge was named such to prevent overcurious children from crossing it─namely, suggesting that children who wandered that far from the city would get lost.
EXTRA FUN FACT: While I did not mention it on air, the EN was actually changed to Madman Bridge (with the blessing of Oda-san) after the water was added. The story here being that, not only did most people who crossed the bridge go missing…but those who managed to make it back would be so traumatized by what they saw and experienced on the other side, they would return mad. In retrospect, I probably should have waited on the naming until after learning the only things on the other side were level 9 dodos.
Directly across Madman Bridge we come to a cliff that drops off into the sea. In the distance, we can see a far-off lighthouse. Here I chime in to talk a little bit about how the lay of the land in this area has changed since 1.X. Before the Calamity, the southeastern coast of Vylbrand was shaped like an upside-down U called the Gods’ Grip with Moraby Bay in the middle. On the western tip of the upside-down U is one lighthouse called Oschon’s Torch (still accessible today), on the eastern tip is another lighthouse called Llymlaen’s Ring (no longer accessible by land, due to the Calamity, but still visible from the shore). I mention that while in the Japanese, the lighthouses are merely called Oschon’s Lighthouse and Llymlaen’s Lighthouse (灯台=TODAI), the EN continues with the hand/grip imagery by using the more abstract torch (held by Oschon during his wanderings) and ring (ever shining on the Navigator’s finger).
Mochizuki-san asked if there was some connection between Oschon and Llymlaen, Oda-san answering that in mythology there were several connections, Oschon being the god of mountains, Llymlaen being the goddess of the seas. He mentions that there are even stories that mention a curious Oschon sneaking a peek at a bathing Llymlaen, to which the goddess replies by throwing a knife at the peeping Wanderer. Mochizuki-san finds this absurd, but Oda-san mentions that similar types of stories exist even in Greek mythology.
We teleport to Aleport’s Aetheryte Plaza, and instead of leaving the hamlet, we do an about-face and view the statue of Llymlaen. Mochizuki-san asks if Llymlaen is truly a mermaid (how she’s depicted in the statue), and Oda-san talks about how the sculptor who carved the statue probably chose the mermaid design to make the statue resonate more with the sailors and fisherfolk who worship the goddess, and that most representations of the Twelve which exist in the world are merely based off of how the artist perceives the god and transforms abstract concepts like virtues into concrete images.
Here I mention that other artists’ renditions of the Twelve can be viewed in places like the aforementioned grotto in Thanalan which holds the statue of Thal, the six major arcana wielded by astrologians (Rhalgr, Halone, etc.), and my personal favorite, the old 1.X poster of the voluptuous Nophica, which can actually be seen plastered all about Gridania and even some of the Black Shroud hamlets.
Mochizuki-san asks about the giant set of bones and massive seashells half buried in the cliffs in upper La Noscea. Oda-san talks about how this area (geologically) was once located far under the sea, but that tectonic activity saw the land thrust up countless years ago, exposing the shells and bones. He then talks about how the name Thalaos is from an Eorzean creation myth. This myth speaks of how long ago, the world was dry. Llymlaen saw this and decided that the world needed water. She created the sea serpent Thalaos to do this. From the serpent’s mouths flowed forth a never-ending fount of water which, eventually created Hydaelyn’s seas. When Llymlaen was satisfied with the water level, she sealed the serpent in an island to prevent him from flooding the world. To ensure that no men could find the serpent and use him for evil, she enchanted the island, making it wander the seas. Players may recognize this as Swallowtail Roam from the 1.X storyline, or Seal Rock—which has recently appeared as the location of the new PvP campaign. The name ‘Seal Rock’ was actually a hint at this, meaning both seal the animal, and seal the…seal.
EXTRA FUN FACT: The Lominsa motto “Till Sea Swallows All” alludes to a time in the future when the serpents break free (or are released) from their prison, and fill the world with water, drowning all─or in other words the thalassocracy will endure until “the end of days.”
Oda-san here comments on the intersection of fact and fiction, and how behind a lot of the fantastical myths in Eorzea are merely misinterpretations of facts long forgotten. Here, we mention how the bones in 2.0 called Thalaos are not the real Thalaos, just people using established myth to help them understand something that they cannot comprehend, and that this actually happens a lot. In 1.X, there was a cavern in La Noscea which, if you looked at its map, you could see also contained a place name called Thalaos and Perykos. It is safe to assume that across Hydaelyn there are probably other places have also been named after the serpent.
Oda-san and I talk about how that it was not long ago that Poor Maid’s Mill was a fully-functional sawmill that would process lumber that was harvested higher up the slopes of O’Ghomorro, and then sent down the river. Right before reaching the mill, the lumber would topple off the falls into the pool below. Those foolish enough to be standing beneath the falls would be rewarded with a giant tree bashing in their heads.
Here, we run out of time, and are unable to talk about the Long Climb, but before we teleport to Gridania, we talk about the floating ruins of the Invisible City─remnants of the now destroyed city of Nym (which is covered heavily in the Scholar quest line), and how the city of Nym has ties with the cities of Amdapor and Mhach…and how we’ll be learning more about their little Fifth Astral Era spat in the very near future.
Black Tea Brook
Mochizuki-san mentions that the area bears a name that may bring back memories for FINAL FANTASY XI players. Oda-san confirms that the name is taken from Windurst in XI, but that it wasn’t him who gave the location its name, but his predecessor, Kenichi Iwao (original lore master on XI and XIV). I continue on by saying that there are actually several things in XIV whose names are borrowed from XI. One example is how Eorzea has popotoes instead of potatoes (just like Vana’diel)…but for some reason we have bananas instead of Vana’diel’s pamamas…to which Oda-san replied that maybe pamamas will still be introduced to Eorzea from somewhere far-off such as the western continent.
Mochizuki-san wonders why a [chocobo] ranch would fly a large balloon with a [moogle] on it. Oda-san mentions that in-game text talks about how the owner was rescued from danger by a moogle during the chaos of the Seventh Umbra Era, and to show his gratitude, not only used the word moogle in the name of his establishment─Moogle’s Gift Mounts (the “moogle’s gift” being the gift of his life)─but as its symbol as well.
Here, I step in to mention that this is another one of the cases where the design came before the lore (rather than vice versa), and that the true reason that the balloon had a moogle on it was completely different and had nothing to do with anything in game. Basically, when it was decided that Gridania would be the area that would be accessible to the media and public in the early testing phases, he wanted to make the area feel more like a FINAL FANTASY for people who would be playing the game for the first time. The P realized that some of the most recognizable images from the series were chocobos and moogles, so it was decided to bring them to the forefront. It wasn’t until after this decision was made that the lore team was informed and we had to scramble to create a story that would explain the seemingly awkward choice of design.
Mochizuki-san asks about a tree that looks different than the others in the forest. Oda-san tells him it is a Hedgetree, part of an invisible barrier (known as the Hedge) set up around the Twelveswood by the forest elementals to prevent evil from entering the forest and exploiting its resources. Back in 1.X it had already grown quite weak, and the Calamity has weakened it even further, rendering it almost incapable of fending off evil (which is why the forest is crawling with Ixal, Garleans, and other terrible foreign creatures). Hedgetrees can be found all across the Black Shroud if you know where to look and what to look for (the sacred rope tied around the trunk, etc.)
We are almost out of time here, so we have to rush through this one, despite it being one of the most interesting topics. Oda-san talks about how history states that during the reign of the Allagan Empire, a holy woman named Urth was slain by the evil Odin. However, Oda-san then goes on to talk about how history is written by the victors, and that the truth of the matter was quite different. Urth was an enemy of the Allagans, and Odin was a hero from the north who came south into Eorzea to save Urth. It was then that Odin came upon the forbidden sword Zantetsuken, and succumbed to its power, becoming the primal we all know and love/hate.
Here we talk a little bit about the word used to describe Odin in Japanese (闘神=TOSHIN=lit. god of fighting) and how it is similar to the Japanese term 三闘神 (SAN-TOSHIN=lit. three gods of fighting), or what is translated in the EN version as the Warring Triad. It’s here that we mention that toshin is actually just the term that the Allagans used for primals (primals being a relatively recent (in Eorzean history) term).
EXTRA FUN FACT: In the EN version, ‘primal’ is the term that the beast tribes give to the ‘summons’ (the beast tribes believing them to be the gods that created the world and their races). The term ‘eikon’ has also appeared in the story since 1.X, but this is used almost solely in a derogatory fashion by the Garleans who do not see the summons as deities, but as false gods (icons) who must be destroyed. It turns out that this term ‘eikon’ was, in fact, a term used long ago by the Allagans to describe the powerful summons. It can be assumed that this is where the Garleans got the term, along with other information about the true nature of the otherworldly creatures.
And that’s about it. Looking at the comments from the Japanese users who were commenting in real time, many people seemed to enjoy the show, meaning that we’ll probably do something similar again in the near future (possibly on 3.0 areas). Anyway, see you all again at PAX where we shall LIVE FOR THE METAL!