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3647 / 50000 words. 7% done!

I was just reading [personal profile] owlmoose 's great little fanfic Elemental again -- I reread fanon that aligns with mine from time to time to help me maintain my mental lock on characters -- and something struck me in one of the comments, raising a question that I've had before. It's one of those game mechanics flaws.

How is it that Lulu managed to stumble halfway or all the way across the Calm Lands on two prior pilgrimages, with nothing more than the most basic and weak elemental spells? They're plenty strong enough to handle fiends as far as Djose, but unless she took a boat straight from the Moonflow to Bevelle, she and her summoners should've gotten clobbered on the Thunder Plans, or, if not there, in Macalania Forest. (I've just been having a nice quiet replay, and I find those are the first two places where the local fauna are formidable enough to require skilled tactics or level 2 spells to avoid catastrophe.)*

Two possibilities had occurred to me in the past:
-- Ginnem and Zuke had level 2 black magic and/or relied extensively on aeons. They were older than Yuna, and may have spent more time at temple strengthening their aeons.
-- Lulu was a stronger mage before losing Lady Ginnem, but losing her summoner shook her quite badly, and she's still getting her confidence back. She hides it well, but there are many hints that she doesn't have complete confidence in her abilities from the Calm Lands onwards because of her past failures. Problem: if Ginnem's death shook her that much, it's surprising that she was able to regroup (after losing Chappu, as well) and try again with Zuke.

The comments on Elemental raised another possibility: perhaps the fiends were WEAKER two years ago, even a year ago, and are now growing in strength commensurately with Sin? Jecht has been Sin for a while, but he's only now losing his self-identity completely. As his will wears down, Sin may grow worse. And it sheds sinspawn all over the place. Maybe the fiend population is in some what affected by it.

That might explain the incredibly long lags between High Summoners of the past: hundreds of years, in some cases. If fiends get worse over time, it would be harder and harder to survive the pilgrimage.

Then again, Auron remarks that there were fewer fiends on Braska's pilgrimage. It's a throwaway bit of combat dialogue, so I don't know if we should take it seriously, but it is a puzzle.

I know, I know, I'm overanalyzing. The real answer is that playable characters always starting out fairly weak so that they can be leveled up. The worldbuilding in this game is rich enough that I find myself pecking at the few bits that don't entirely work.

*(While the Highroad monsters can eventually be worn down with level 1 spells, some big bruisers might be too much for her, too, if Lulu did not have such an uncanny evasion stat. Either she's a dancer, or she hung out near the Aurochs' practices a lot and learned to dodge. )

"And that, as they say, is that." Every time I replay this game, I find myself falling more in love with Maechen the Scholar. blah blah blah...

This entry was originally posted at http://auronlu.dreamwidth.org/213829.html, where it has comment count unavailablecomments.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC)
Oh I like the theory about fiends getting stronger the longer Sin is around. I saw a theory (I think maybe on tvtropes?) that maybe Yuna and Rikku weren't actually scaled back at the beginning of X-2 . . . it's just that in a world without summoners, there is no one to send the souls of the dead anymore so the fiends have gotten stronger. (Which would kind of explain why there are iron giants clanking around on Besaid, although not why Yuna apparently forgot most of the spells she knew.) So maybe the older and more powerful Sin is, the more powerful the fiends are, making it harder for summoners to survive the pilgrimage, resulting in fewer summoners, resulting in even more powerful fiends. O.o

Hahaha I always wondered about why Lulu only has her starting spells despite having been on two pilgrimages halfway to Zanarkand too. (Not to be hugely spoilery about Guardian but) I went with option two, that she was more adept with magic before losing Lady Ginnem, but her confidence is so shattered by her failure to protect her that she doesn't use magic again for several years. But when Yuna announces that she's going to be a summoner, Lulu resolves to try to get to Sin before she does (thereby becoming Zuke's guardian) and has to pull herself together and start learning magic again.

Now how Zuke managed to make it to the Calm Lands with a rusty black mage and the captain of the World's Worst Blitzball Team in tow is another question. ;) Maybe he's originally from Bevelle, and so he started out with Bahamut? That'd make things easier. Or maybe they were super lazy and took a boat most of the way. Or maybe he could afford chocobos for everyone.

The (kind of unrelated) question I have about him is, how does he know Lulu and Wakka well enough to take them as his guardians, but he has apparently never met Yuna? When they come across him in the Calm Lands he seems to have never seen her before, but Lulu, Wakka, and Yuna have all been living together in a tiny community for the past ten years. I mean maybe they knew him as children from before Yuna got there, but that is kind of like your fifth grade teacher turning up out of the blue and being like "Hey, I'm going on a dangerous journey and need you to be my bodyguard. There is a strong possibility that we will all get killed." And even so, how did they join him without his meeting Yuna? Surely she would have wanted to be there to say goodbye. She was already training as a summoner at that point so she'd know what the pilgrimage meant, and that they might not come back.

Nov. 10th, 2012 12:48 am (UTC)
Well, Lulu has been to Bevelle at least once or twice (going and coming) on Ginnem's pilgrimage, and in my personal headcanon was there long enough to get a new wardrobe in the city's leather district. (You can't tell me she found those duds on Besaid. No way charlie, especially with the island being a haven for loom-woven fabrics like Okinawa on which it is loosely based.)

I get the impression that Father Zuke is stationed in Bevelle. Possibly Lulu bumped into him while attending on Ginnem. So he could've looked her up. Wakka's a bit more of a puzzle, although he evidently decided to become a guardian after Chappu died.

I like your idea that Zuke tried to safeguard them by using chocobos. Also, you're right, if he had a solid Bahamut at his beck and call, they may not have had to do much.

Hehehehe. Bag of Spilling. I was thinking of that when I wrote this post, but I couldn't remember if I was recalling the right tvtropes jargon. (I was typing on iPad in a cafe, and it's a little dodgy opening multiple tabs while composing a new post.)

Bah, I actually meant to do something with the iron giants on Besaid -- I had one show up at the very beginnig of LHAD -- but my story has spun off in so many directions. That did intrigue me in X-2.

And I can't wait for the next Guardian bit.

Edited at 2012-11-10 12:51 am (UTC)
Nov. 10th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
If Zuke got around a lot - IMO he would've more likely met Wakka in Luca, seeing him play blitzball there.

I do disagree about the level 2 magics not being needed before the Thunder Plains though. If Lulu doesn't have fira when the Chocobo Eater attacks, then it is -much- more difficult to kill him. Getting overkill is important - and if he's not on the cliff edge & made to plummet - then you don't get those level 2 key spheres [very, very important IMO].

.... erm, does it show that I have FFX committed to heart WAY too much?
Nov. 10th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
Heh, true.

But I was thinking only of survival, not optimal party performance. If Ginnem had some way to Haste Ifrit, so that he could heal himself and cast, that combined with Lulu would probably be enough. (Come to think of it, I never get the -ira spells until I start on Mushroom Rock Road; I just keep pounding on the CE with Auron and Lulu hasted until it's almost dead, then bring in a fully-charged Aeon and smack it with an overdrive. That is my uncreative method for dealing with most bosses.)

Braska and friends got pushed off the cliff, to judge by the landing spot of that Jecht sphere. So eithr Ginnem and Lulu got pushed off as well -- and boy HOWDY I'd hate to see Lulu's temper if that happened -- or it wasn't around when they passed by.

Edited at 2012-11-10 03:08 am (UTC)
Nov. 10th, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
Heh - Lulu would've been livid, I agree.

My own tactic for the chocobo eater [and most bosses] is that I keep my character with full
overdrive meters, waiting for Bosses, except for Tidus - who uses his to get the other overdrives. I can usually have Wakka with element reels by then* - I take Auron up Tidus's track to speed him up - so both usually have haste by then.

So I have Tidus attack with the blade Ooaka sells in Luca with slowtouch - and hit the Chocobo eater to slow it; Auron hastes himself - then everyone else as they come out to fight/get XP; Kimahri does his fire attack overdrive; Lulu does a overdrive fira, Auron is -usually- strong enough to drive it back with a standard attack using a fireblade with piercing, Yuna does something fast and gets offstage quickly - and this is usually able to drive the beast back and then - on the cliff edge I hope whatever attack hits last pushes it over.

Unfortunately, an aeon attack seems to kill it but not push it over the cliff for the overkill - even if it does enough damage that an overkill should have been recorded - although an Valefor overdrive seems to have more chance to so do than an Ifreet.

*I will play blitzball - and insist that the Aurochs win so that Tidus IS the blitzball ace he claims to be ... and my husband loves blitzball ^_^ - and will play my games if allowed**

** - he also will get most of my final weapons that I have problem with [lightning plane, the chocobo race if I do the other ones ... he HATES wobbly chocobo ^_^]
Nov. 10th, 2012 04:19 am (UTC)
i tnink I'm not getting the full goodies on the CE, then, as I overkill it before pushing it over the cliff. I don't think I've ever pulled that off. Always RIGHT on the edge, but never over! I'll have to try your way sometime.

This latest playthrough, I have done no level grinding at all, on the principle that I'll use more tactics. I've been a little more strategic with weapons than I used to be. Somehow, even though I swap for the XP, it seems like I had learned Lulu's and Auron's strengths so well that I just had them trade off with Wakka putting Dark or Sleep on things to back them up.

Also, I just discovered a fun new trick for mid-game. Lulu plasters sand wyrm or other large object with Bio at start of battle, then casts a few Reflexes to raise Auron's evasion stat up to her level. He guards. Zu or Sand Wyrm can't hit him, can't get past him, and dies of poison, overkilled because her Bio is doing 4500 points of damage every time her victim takes a nip at Auron. (It helps that I stopped to do Lightning Dodge and pick up all the prizes; Lulu boosted with a couple extra Magic spheres is even more formidable than usual..)

I confess that I tend to map battles with headcanon in mind. If anything ever drops Lulu, who is unsurprisingly my most constant character, Auron does Dragon Fang and blows up all remaining opponents even if I haven't had a chance to swap in everyone for the XP. Because, you know, he's pissed. I am very silly.

Augh the wobbly chocobo evil.

Oddly enough, I did the 200 lightning dodge Tuesday night to distract myself from election anticipation stress. I go into this quiet place in my mind of utter awareness, reflexes and concentration, the same part of the brain that's required for archery, and as long as I don't lose focus and have a monster battle to give me a break every 10 bolts or so, I can usually do it on thr first try. I found a little spot just north of the Bilghen Agency where the bolts come about every 3 seconds, long enough delay they won't overload you but often enough to make it pretty quick. Zap-dodge-step forward, zap-dodge-step forward. Best minigame in the world when I need to reboot my brain completely.

I adore blitzball (in fact, I even like it in X2, since Lucil kicks butt.) I hate the chocobo race and butterflies, which require actual coordination, not just an autonomic reflex.

Edited at 2012-11-10 04:22 am (UTC)
Nov. 10th, 2012 06:50 am (UTC)
I always end up super overpowered at the last fight with Seymour, which is disappointing because it looks like it's a fun tactical fight (does his element change? Is that what is going on with the wheels? I've never had the fight last long enough to see) and tailor-made for Lulu so I started doing a no level grinding, no extraneous questing, original weapons only, no armor run so I'd be at a less godly level by the time I got to him. (The first time I played it was over in two turns - not rounds. Rikku poked him in the eye, Lulu sneezed on him, and THE END.)

Well I got to the Calm Lands and, without any status-proof anything, got obliterated by every marlboro in the vicinity while trying to find a chocobo to ride so I could avoid the marlboros, haha.

But now I'm working on a sphere grid swap run and not planning to level them at all until I have enough key spheres to move them all into each others' grids and start them off there. I don't know if it's going to work but I dearly want to put Lulu in Auron's sphere grid. The idea of her taking down boss monsters with an armor-breaking plush army just fills me with joy. :D

I like to use Bio on the sand worms and zu too. Shooting Star also has hilarious results. But haha aww Auron going on a vengeance rampage after Lulu gets knocked down is cute. :)
Nov. 11th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
In all my games, I managed to dodge lightning once. I usually lose focus after about 120, then *blam*.

As for the chocobo eater overkill/over the cliff edge scene - it is pretty funny to watch, when you get it. At the last attack that pushes it over, it hovers there like Wile E. Coyote for a second, looks down in surprise for a second, then falls
Nov. 10th, 2012 06:13 am (UTC)
Heeheehee I wasn't planning to have a Chocobo Eater encounter in Guardian but now I may have to because that would be really funny.

I always forget to get the second-tier black magic spells in time for Operation Mi'ihen, and nothing on the top part of Mushroom Rock Road drops ability spheres so by the time I'm up there so I have to either go back down through about a million random encounters to find some basilisks or else just give up and go ahead. I don't think I've ever had Fira by the time of the Chocobo Eater but I've managed to push him off the cliff without it, it just takes a long time.
Nov. 10th, 2012 06:31 am (UTC)
That stupid bug larva thing in Operation Mi'ihen is SO much easier if Auron and Lulu can go SMASH KAPOW and take off its arms with one move apiece. I always make sure I've got at least one second tier spell by the time I get to that beastie, even if I do no level grinding otherwise.

Hate regenerating limbs. Hate.

(And yes, it would be very funny. I am laughing far much on this play through, rediscovering all the different ways to honk off party members. My favorite one is to turn around and try the doors of Macalania Temple immediately after fleeing Tromell and his Guado goons. Auron runs back to bark at Tidus. There is evidently too much Tidus in me, as I keep hunting for new "Kimahri/Lulu/Auron Get Annoyed" Easter Eggs.)
Nov. 10th, 2012 07:05 am (UTC)
Hahahaha I've done that and was really amused. I also like using the wrong party member on the early fiends and getting told to stop that.

I also love the conversations you get between different combinations of people on either side of battles. (I think my favorite is Yuna's terrible impression of Wakka and Lulu telling her to knock it off.) The little details like that make the game so great.
Nov. 10th, 2012 07:18 am (UTC)
Hee. I got that one yesterday. "Don't talk like that."

I see we have the same twisted sense of humor.

*heals water flan during the elemental magic tutorial*
Wakka: Whoa, Lu, what are you healin' it for?
*throws ice at it*

Ooo, there's something I've never tried-- what does Wakka say if you throw a spell at HIM during the tutorial, instead?

Somewhere, I'm afraid there's a Writer's Purgatory where I'll be pinned to a wall so my characters can take revenge for all the mean things I've done to them over the years.

Edited at 2012-11-10 07:18 am (UTC)
Nov. 10th, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Hahaha I hope not! I'd be in huge trouble too if that's true!

Heehee poor Wakka I will have to try that and see what happens.
Nov. 11th, 2012 04:41 am (UTC)
On the way to Djose, the basilisks hids in the sunbeams on the road. I tend to run straight line thru dark areas [talking to everyone - to get their prezzies for Yuna] - and do a circle inside each sunny patch. Like as not, a basilisk shows up. ... and by that point it's provoke time for Tidus & stealing for Kimarhri.

... as a side-note, anywhere that had marlboros as a possibility saw Tidus out of front-line duty. Rikki, Kimahri & Yua usually in front - or anyone else if they found a 1st strike weapon. That way, if there -was- a marlboro [or anything else I really disliked] Tidus could be immediately swapped in to flee - or provoke. A provoked chimera only ever lightning bolts Tidus. A provoked marlboro only ever spits at Tidus [which can kill him].
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