Dragonatrix blogged
Dec 22, 11 6:00pm

Final Fantasy With Four Black Mages... But No Magic Part 1

Final Fantasy is a very old RPG. It's so old, in fact, it's probably older than you. Yes you, reading this right now. It's also a very good game but the original version hasn't aged very well. It has mechanical issues that make it annoying to play and many, many unfun glitches. You can patch these out thanks to romhackers, sure, but that's not something I'd want to faff around with. We'll be going through the version released for the GBA as part of Dawn of Souls, the first entry in the bizarrely named "Finest Fantasy for Advance" project. The aforementioned issues are part of why but the largest crux of the matter is that I don't want to spend a year grinding. Why would that be needed? Well...

Why this is a hard as hell thing (the short version; the entire blog of the ordeal is the long version): Y'see, Black Mages have the worst set of weapons they can use in the game, out of all 6 base classes. There's a whole 7 of them to choose from, so you're not exactly spoiled for choice. Now the important thing there is that 3 of those of those are unique and one of them is only obtained in the final dungeon, so for most of the game we only have 6 weapons at our disposal and even then we can only buy three of those! Two of them are at Corneria even, and we start with the mechanically worse of the two (naturally). Out of the one we'll be getting the most mileage out of, we can only get 3 so we'll have to choose wisely who gets those and it's likely we'll be using two of them in the final dungeon too. Armour wise, BMs aren't much better off and they have a shitty natural Absorb so they get murdered in no time. Not to mention their average Strength at level 50 (the old level cap, but while we don't need to break it to finish this challenge we will almost definitely have done so by the second orb) is 32 with a good chance of getting a mere 14, our damage output is terrible. We'll be relying on criticals a lot of the time to deal any real damage and we'll need to grind to at least level 18 just to beat the second real boss since that's when BMs get their second hit with any weapon. For the first orb, we'll need to go to... level 45 for three hits. If this was the original NES version we wouldn't need to go quite that high but because this is the Dawn of Souls version, enemy HP has been at least doubled so we need to deal much more damage than normal. This IS possible, as the challenge has been beaten with a few contingencies. Hopefully, the Dawn of Souls will play in my favour and the level reqs are lower than they used to be but I'll be playing under the assumption they aren't just in case.

Now a few things that need mentioned:

- I will NOT be getting a class chance to Black Wizards until I absolutely need to. Black Wizards get access to a few weapons that BMs cannot use, Catclaws being the most apparent, that would make the challenge somewhat easier.
- I will only be saving at inns/on the world map after using sleeping bags/tents/cottages. The ability to save anywhere you want makes the game significantly easier and I'd rather not abuse that feature so I'm forcibly stopping myself from doing so.
- To prove I've not bought any magic and hidden that fact from you, I'll be recording boss fights but expect the later ones sped up because they'll take forever. I'll be showing the magic menu at the start of each fight as well.
- I will NOT be using magic items until I absolutely need to and even then I won't use them at will when I do.
- Defensive magic items will be the only ones I'm allowed to use at first. Defensive items are the Defender (casts RUSE when used as an item) and the White Robe (casts INV2).
- If Defensive magic items alone are not enough, I'm then allowed to use Offensive magic items. These are the Light Axe (HRM2), Mage Rod (FIR2), Thor Hammer (LIT2), Black Robe (ICE2), and Zeus Glove (LIT2).
- If Offensive magic items are not enough, then in an absolute dire situation which is unwinnable otherwise I'm allowed to use the Power Glove (SABR).
- Anything else not mentioned, such as magic items that heal HP or inflict powerful status ailments such as BANE or even fit the above rules but were added for Dawn of Souls, is not allowed to use under any circumstances. Names and spells may not be accurate for this version but you can tell what they are when we find them.
- I won't be buying any Phoenix Downs. Ever. They make the game way too easy and I think that even this challenge would be much simpler if I could revive whenever and wherever I want. If I find one in a chest, I will either sell it as soon as is reasonably possible or if I'm in the middle of a dungeon I will immediately discard it instead. This depends on the location and how far from a store I am at the time, but under no circumstance is a PD to ever be used.

Update 01: Like Imps To The Slaughter

The winds die... The seas rage... The earth decays... But the people believe in a prophecy and patiently await its fulfilment. "When darkness veils the world, four Warriors of Light shall come." After a long journey, four young travellers at last appear... and in the hand of each is clutched a crystal.

What the prophecy forgot to mention, however, was that the four warriors would live up to their name. The people didn't realise this and ended up attempting to mold these warriors out of a group of children...

You know what they say, beggers can't always be choosers.

The four only had the clothes on their back, a pocket knife each and a little bit of money by compiling their saved "fortunes." None of them had any strengths to speak of, and despite the rags they were wearing people mistook them for something they were not; great spellcasters. The truth is they couldn't even read a spellbook let alone cast the spell inscribed therein.

They stumbled across an unfortunate town rather quickly. Plagued by the tirades of a maniacal villain they would find themselves swept into a strange and fantastical world before too long.

Not knowing how to fight adequately, the four traded in their knives to each obtain a large pole made of wood. They would have preferred the bigger knifes labelled "Rapiers" but the store clerk wouldn't let them.

Hey, I'm just gonna interrupt real quick like to explain this decision. This is one of those things that seems counter-intuitive since the Staff has a 0 Accuracy, compared to the Knife's 10. The damage increase is minimal to borderline non-existent, and so that doesn't even explain it.

Let's just compare the two;

Knife: 5 Attack, 10 Accuracy, 1% Crit Chance
Staff: 6 Attack, 0 Accuracy, 1.5% Crit Chance

This doesn't seem like a lot, and in fact the whole reason for it is that increased chance of a critical, but this is also kind of important. Unless you feel like trying your luck, you'll be fighting the first boss at least at level 5 which is not even remotely close to high enough for a second hit with the Knife (we'll go into that when it becomes relevant many updates from now). Let's just look at the chance for a critical from either;

1.49%    2.96%    
Knife        1           2        
1             1.49%    2.94% 
2                         0.02%    
               BM  1     BM 18


1.99%    3.94%
Staff    1           2        
1         1.99%    3.90% 
2                     0.04%    
           BM  1    BM 28

This might be a bit hard to understand, so just know that for a single hit the there's essentially a 2% chance of that hit being a critical with the Staff vs 1.5% with the Knife. Conversely, if I did grind to a high enough level to get 2 hits with both (at which point I'll have a better weapon anyway) there's a 2.94% chance of 1 hit being critical with the Knife and 0.02% chance of being critical. Conversely, a 3.9% chance of 1 critical with the Staff and 0.04% of 2 criticals.

Tl;dr: In the long term, the Staff grants a much higher damage output potential so it's worth buying.

Upon speaking to locals, they learned of a strange sage who vanished and a missing monarch whom they were implored to somehow rescue.

"These days I hear it's turned into a pirates' den," the man from the foreign land told them. Thinking nothing of it, as the town of Provoka is a long way away, they stepped into the nearby building which turned out to be an item store. They used the rest of their money to buy several Potions...

And several Sleeping Bags. The journey would be a long one, so the ability to rest would come in use at some time.

They tried to leave the town but were stopped by an overly excited guard. He noticed what the boys were carrying and suddenly yelled, "Th-those crystals! You must see the king at once!"

The King was normally an imposing man but there was an air of sadness to his voice. It wasn't pity for the unfortunate souls thrust in front of him, but it was legitimate worry for someone else none the less. Perhaps the princess they were told about? At his request, the boys showed him their shiny glass shards and his face suddenly turned ghastly pail and he spoke in a tone that was now more worried and terrified than sad and distraught.

"It is just as Lukahn's prophecy foretold: When darkness veils the world, four Warriors of Light shall come." The King stated, as if reading from a book. The Chancellor, his oldest friend and the only one he has ever been able to confide in, tried his best to put the King's fears at rest but he was jusst as uncertain in what he said as the King was;

"That may be true... Yet they stand before us with the crystals. I cannot dismiss this as mere coincidence." He looked up at the boys and the four knew that what he had to say was deathly serious. "Crystal bearers, there is a task I would ask of you. Will you go forth and rescue my daughter, Sarah?"

"I ask for your aid in the name of His Majesty, the king of Cornelia. Garland has taken refuge in the Chaos Shrine, which lies to our north. Of course, we did attempt to save the princess ourselves. However, Garland is the finest swordsman in the kingdom! We have none who can match him."

The boys looked at each other for a moment and they realised that this was something far greater than they. They would have liked to help, but the ultimate swordsman in the land was far beyond their capabilities. The King tried to incentive them feeling their anxiety with the task.

"If you are truly the Warriors of Light, then I have heard that you wish to journey to the continent to our north. The bridge leading north was lost long ago, making passage impossible. If you can rescue Sarah, I will have the bridge rebuilt as a sign of my gratitude. Please, I beseech you... Go now, Warriors of Light, and do not fail me!"

They left the castle, with a heavy heart and a heavier conscience. As the four bickered abut what to do, they were set upon by an unruly gang of Goblins. Two snuck in a few attacks while the four weren't looking giving them a small but natural advantage. What they didn't count upon, however, was that the four knew how to both take a hit and deal one in kind.

Able to dispatch a mere Goblin in one hit, however, is not a challenge for even a child though dispatching a gang of them was enough to boost the boys confidence.

They kept at it for a short while and once they had taken what they felt to be about as much damage as they could handle, they ran back to Cornelia as fast as they could and headed to the inn to rest.

The Final Fantasy Four Black Mages No Magic Challenge will be a tough one, there's no denying that, but it has been finished before so it can be done again!

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