Magic is a significant element in the Final Fantasy series, and is important in both the gameplay and the plot. As a gameplay element, magic is the counterpart of physical attacks, and generally, those who are able to use magic are called mages. In the plot, magic has a major influence in the workings of the game's world, and can be used either to destroy or to save it.
Magic is, by definition, "the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques, that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature".
The Final Fantasy series feature many different methodologies and schools of magic, which is used in many different ways, manipulating the various forces and essences of nature through knowledge or various items, sometimes even bordering on scientific and technological methods similar to magic itself.
It should be noted however that use of Magic in the series is not exclusive to the respective Magic command available in each game. For example games like Final Fantasy IX or Final Fantasy X feature abilities that require MP to use, but that aren't considered on the usual Magic Schools like White or Black, but regardless cause effects that could be considered unnatural or superhuman such as poisoning an enemy, or debilitating him. Some games also feature Limit Break abilities that can range from healing and protective, to destructive blasts of energy or surpassing normal physical boundaries, by attacking an enemy multiple times on succession. These abilities are in most cases used without MP consumption and for gameplay purposes using a different condition or meter to be filled, while in comparison Quickenings do consume MP (albeit segmented in Mist Charges). Much on the same vein Technicks are another system of supernatural abilities that require no MP to be used and is seen as a contrast and parallel to Magick.
Therefore although Magic could be considered overall as any manipulation of energies to achieve feats beyond normal human capabilities, the many different abilities with similar workings, makes it impossible to have a true definition of what is Magic and what is not, with said delimitations being explained as in the case of Technicks and sometimes not truly defined, or just separated for gameplay purposes but not further defined. This in exchange makes the range of Magic incredibly vast but also vague.
Magic is one of the two principal forms of attack in the series; the other being physical attacks. Although the specific features of the magic system vary significantly from game to game, many concepts have remained consistent throughout the course of the series.
Magic spells have different types and effects. In the series' first game, Final Fantasy, magic is split between the distinction of "white magic" - healing and battle support spells, and "black magic" - offensive spells. As the series progressed and new spells were added, different types of spells have been introduced, each able to be used by different types of mages.
|White Magic||Final Fantasy||White Mage||Generally curative, enhancing or holy magic. Typical White Magic spells are: Cure; Raise and the ultimate white magic spell of Holy.|
|Black Magic||Final Fantasy||Black Mage||Mainly offensive, often harnessing elemental powers of Fire, Ice, Lightning, Wind, Earth, and Water. Black Magic spells often exist to inflict instant death as well. Typical Black Magic spells include: Fire, Thunder, Blizzard, Aero, Quake, Water and the ultimate black magic spell of Ultima, Meteor or Flare depending on the game.|
|Summon Magic||Final Fantasy III||Summoner||Involves summoning a powerful, and often supernatural being, to fight for or defend the party.|
|Time and Space Magic||Final Fantasy V||Time Mage||Alters the reality around a character. Typical Time and Space magic spells are: Slow, Haste, Warp and Gravity.|
|Blue Magic||Final Fantasy V||Blue Mage||Spells and abilities learned from enemy characters and monsters. Common examples include spells based on a target's level, White Wind, Aqua Breath, and Condemned.|
|Spellblade||Final Fantasy V||Mystic Knight||Involves casting Black Magic onto a weapon with which the magic is compatible. The spells are usually elemental and offensive magic spells.|
|Item Magic||Final Fantasy||Anyone||An alternative to the main types of magic, this type is associated with equipment and the spells are usually weaker than their counterparts. These spells can be used endlessly and cost zero MP to use.|
Final Fantasy VI marks a different type of categorization. The three categories are named based upon their effect. They are: Attack, Healing, and Effect. The list of magic spells gives each spell a corresponding sphere next to their names: white (Healing), black (Attack) and grey (Effect).
|Healing||Denoted by the white sphere seen next to the name of a spell. Most spells are related to healing magic.||Curaga, Reraise, Esuna|
|Attack||Denoted by the black sphere seen next to the name of a spell. Most spells are related to offensive and elemental magic.||Flare, Meltdown, Flood|
|Effect||Denoted by the gray sphere seen next to the name of a spell. Most spells are related to status effects and enhancements.||Rasp, Imp, Valor, Vanish|
Final Fantasy VII splits abilities into a classification system based on the five types of Materia. Green Materia is Magic Materia and having any of them equipped give the character the Magic command. Magic Materia gives access to generic magic, offensive, defensive or otherwise. Each Materia may contain up to four different Magic spells, while the better ones require AP before granting access to them. Examples of magic include Fire, Cure, Resist.
Final Fantasy VIII sorts magic types in several views:
Magic stock sorting typesEdit
|Attack||Includes offensive-oriented elemental and non-elemental spells.||Fire, Blizzard, Thunder, Water, Demi, Bio|
|Curative||Includes healing-oriented spells.||Cure, Esuna, Life|
|Indirect||Includes buffing and debuffing spells.||Blind, Silence, Dispel|
|Fire Magic||Fire type spells. Interestingly, Flare belongs in the category without being fire-elemental.||Fire, Flare||Ifrit|
|Ice Magic||Includes water and ice type spells.||Blizzard, Water||Shiva|
|Thunder Magic||Includes Thunder and Wind type spells.||Thunder, Aero, Tornado||Quezacotl|
|Life Magic||Includes holy-elemental spells as well as recovery and life-related spells.||Cure, Life, Zombie, Death, Holy, Regen||Siren|
|Time Magic||Includes time magic, gravity and earth spells.||Haste, Slow, Demi, Quake, Double||Diablos|
|Support Magic||Spells that protect or enhance a character with positive status.||Shell, Protect, Reflect, Esuna, Dispel, Drain, Aura||Leviathan|
|Status Magic||Spells that inflict negative status.||Blind, Bio, Sleep, Pain, Meltdown, Zombie||Diablos|
|Medium Magic||A variety of mid-ranked spells.||Fira, Blizzara, Cura||Quezacotl|
|High Magic||A variety of high-ranked spells.||Firaga, Blizzaga, Curaga, Tornado, Triple||Alexander|
|Forbidden Magic||Powerful non-elemental spells.||Meteor, Ultima||Bahamut|
Final Fantasy XI has a diverse and complex magic classification system spread over its 20 job classes. These sub categories are divided into magic sub-types of sort called "skill", spanning the generic types - sometimes in the same category. Example: Paralyze is a White Magic spell, and Poison is a Black Magic spell, yet both are considered Enfeebling Magic spells, affected by Enfeebling Magic skill level.
Black Magic includes all Elemental Magic, all Dark Magic, Enfeebling Magic and some Enhancing Magic. White Magic includes all Healing and Divine Magic, and Enfeebling and Enhancing Magic. There are no Enfeebling or Enhancing spells available to both schools.
Final Fantasy XI uses the -na, -ra, -ga, and -ja suffixes to broadly indicate the different effects and Area of Effects (AoE) of spells, while roman numerals describe a spell's power (I to VI). This allows for players to quickly ascertain a spell's general effect and power at a glance.
|Dark Magic||Self-serving, stat-manipulating, leeching spells.||Bio, Absorb-ACC, Drain, Dread Spikes, Stun||Black Mage, Dark Knight, Red Mage, Scholar|
|Elemental Magic||Generic offensive damage-dealing spells.||Fire, Water, Flare, Quake||Black Mage, Dark Knight, Red Mage, Scholar|
|Enfeebling Magic||Chip away at foe attributes with status ailments.||Dia, Slow, Blind, Sleep, Gravity, Dispel||Black Mage, Dark Knight, Red Mage, Scholar, White Mage|
|Enhancing Magic||Beneficially affect allies with stat buffs.||Enthunder, Haste, Regen, Shell, Erase, Ice Spikes||Black Mage, Paladin, Red Mage, Scholar, White Mage|
|Divine Magic||Light-based offensive spells to vanquish foes.||Banish, Holy, Flash, Repose||Paladin, White Mage|
|Healing Magic||Curative spells that mend wounds.||Cure, Curaga, Raise, Esuna||Paladin, Red Mage, Scholar, White Mage|
|Blue Magic||Spells garnered from monsters turned against them.||1000 Needles, Healing Breeze, Self-Destruct, Eyes On Me||Blue Mage|
|Summoning Magic||Elemental beasts evoked to aid combatants.||Ifrit, Fenrir, Carbuncle, Light Elemental||Summoner|
|Ninjutsu||Ancient ninja arts, to ail and inhibit foes.||Utsusemi: Ni, Suiton: San, Jubaku: Ichi||Ninja|
|Singing, String Inst., Wind Inst.||Intricate songs to aid allies and hinder foes.||Foe Requiem VI, Maiden's Virelai, Chocobo Mazurka||Bard|
Further in the series, Magic has been given a new spelling; Magick, in the Ivalice-related game series, starting with Final Fantasy XII and followed by subsequent games within the Ivalice Alliance. This also marks the appearance of new magic types:
|Black Magick||Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Black Mage, Red Mage||Spells that deal elemental and non-elemental damage.|
|White Magick||Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Tactics A2||White Mage, Time Mage, Red Mage||Spells that restore health and recover statuses.|
|Time Magick||Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Time Mage, Red Mage||Spells that bend time and space to create a wide array of effects.|
|Green Magick||Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Black Mage, White Mage, Time Mage, Red Mage, Green Mage||Spells that cast status effects to buff the party or weaken enemies.|
|Arcane Magick||Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Red Mage, Arcanist||Spells that deal damage or negative status effects, generally though the powers of darkness.|
|Red Magick||Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Red Mage||A selection of low-rank spells from the Black, White and Green Magick schools.|
|Blue Magick||Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Blue Mage||Spells learned from monsters with many different effects.|
|Summoning Magick||Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Summoner||Spells that consist of summoning Espers from the world of illusion.|
|Elemental Magick||Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Elementalist||Spells that control the elemental forces of nature to cause both damage and negative statuses or heal. Also known as "Spirit Magic".|
|High Magick||Final Fantasy Tactics A2||Seer||A selection of mid-rank spells from the Black and White Magick schools.|
Besides the typical White Magic and Black Magic spells that appears in the game, there is Lost Magic which contains more powerful spells than White Magic and Black Magic have. There's only three Lost Magic spells that can be bought in shops. Shar can create Lost Magic spells for the party by mixing two elemental stones, but these stone are limited. There is enough elemental stones in the game to precisely make one copy of each Lost Magic spells.
|Lost Magic||Lost Magic is a combination of damaging spells and non-damaging spells that are different from both White Magic and Black Magic. There are spells which heal, attack the enemy, and help the player get around obstacles.|
Alongside White Magic and Black Magic, Benjamin and his ally Phoebe can cast Wizard magic. This spell pool consists of powerful attack spells, mostly group spells, with a casting limit distinct from the White and Black.
- Main article: Magic (Term)/Tiers
In the Final Fantasy series, magical spells have a hierarchy of power, which is divided in tiers. These tiers are denoted by the suffixes -ra, -ga and -ja, normally corresponding to the second, third and fourth level of power of a spell, respectively (e.g. Cure evolves to Cura, which progresses to Curaga). There are various exceptions to this. In the localized versions of earlier installments, numbers were used instead of suffixes.
- Main article: Element (Term)
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, with fire, ice, and lightning often serving as the main elements, and water, wind, and earth more often than not serving as secondary elements. The elemental spells' number and names vary from game to game. Sometimes two other elements, holy and dark also exist. Non-elemental spells are not associated with an element. Examples include spells that affect the status of the target.
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 spell from a fire-based character will cause more damage than cast by a wind-based character. Each target possesses magic resistance, which lessens the effect of magic spells.
In addition to the target's magic resistance, certain targets have a different resistance (positive or negative) to certain elements: 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.
Summon magic takes a prominent role in Final Fantasy IV. The summoners' home, the village of Mist, is destroyed early in the game. Cagnazzo, under the disguise of the King of Baron, ordered the village burned because he feared the summoners' power. Rydia was the only survivor and her powers became pivotal to world safety, as she was able to use her Eidolons to save the party from Golbez.
The magic Meteor also takes a critical plot point as a powerful and sealed magic spell that Tellah seeks to avenge his daughter by using it to kill Golbez. At the end of the game, the villain Zemus battles Golbez and Fusoya, and the two cast Twin Meteor to dispatch him, only to see him rise again as Zeromus. As well, in the DS release, it is mentioned that the gift of magic was bestowed on humans by Kluya, and they could not access its power before his arrival.
1000 years prior to the game's beginning, the Warring Triad began the War of the Magi and many creatures and humans were transformed into magical demi-gods called espers while other humans began using magic extracted from them. The Warring Triad petrified themselves to stop the war, the espers fled to another dimension, and magic was forgotten. The few surviving humans rebuilt the world—those who still had magical powers founded the village of Thamasa, and although over time their powers dwindled, it remained innate and present.
Twenty years ago Emperor Gestahl found the Esper World. With a process developed by Cid Del Norte Marquez, he forcibly extracted raw magical power from the espers he captured. This led to the process known as Magitek, and many powerful machines were infused with magical energy, as well as people including Kefka Palazzo and Celes Chere making them Magitek Knights. With magic fueling their army, the Gestahlian Empire conquers much of the world.
The rebel faction Returners comes across a woman named Terra Branford, a former Imperial Soldier who lost her memories. It is discovered she is the child of the esper Maduin and a woman named Madeline, making her half-esper and one of the few humans to naturally know magic. The esper Ramuh reveals that Magitek is inefficient—the magic extracted is weak and kills the espers—, but when an esper expires they become magicite, which can teach magic at a higher potency and efficiency.
Kefka finds and takes control of the Warring Triad, draining their powers to become the God of Magic. Reshaping the world into the World of Ruin, Kefka rules unopposed with his new powers, until the Returners reassemble their ranks and assault his tower. The Warring Triad and Kefka are destroyed, and magic vanishes from the world. The party's innate magic fades, the magicite shards they had collected shatter, and the world reforms to its previous state. Due to her emotional attachments to the children of Mobliz, Terra becomes a full human and survives.
Magic in Final Fantasy VII can be used through the use of Materia, orbs of mystical energy created by condensed Mako from the Lifestream. As the Lifestream is the collective consciousness of all who have died, Materia allows the holder to access the knowledge of the Lifestream and tap into the powers of the Planet, manifesting as magic or other abilities. As such, magic is the materialization of Spiritual Energy. Ancients were said to have been able to use magic without the use of Materia.
Professor Hojo, a scientist for the Shinra Electric Power Company, studied Materia extensively, but was unable to grasp its secrets. Being a rational scientist, he objected to the use of the term "magic" to describe the powers of Materia. No better explanation is given, however. In addition to the powers granted by Materia, a limited number of characters can manifest magic-like powers in their Limit Breaks, although it is neither confirmed nor denied if Limit Breaks are related to magic in any way.
There are also ultimate spells, too powerful for the normal human to use and unusable by the player during the game. One is Meteor, the ultimate Black Magic with the power to destroy the Planet. Meteor summons a small planet from outer space and sends it hurtling straight down to the Planet's surface. In counter to Meteor's immense power, an ultimate White Magic has the power to stop it, Holy. Both of the great spells only work on special Materia, the Black Materia for Meteor, and the White Materia for Holy.
Sephiroth planned to use Meteor in a plot to become a God. Meteor would create a wound on the Planet so great that the Lifestream would be sent out to heal it. From there Sephiroth would take control of the Lifestream and take over the Planet. However, Aeris Gainsborough travels to the Forgotten Capital to summon Holy. Sephiroth kills her, but not before Holy is summoned. Using his power Sephiroth holds Holy back.
Cloud Strife and his party travel down into Sephiroth's lair in the Northern Cave and defeat him, releasing Holy and crushing his plot to become a God. Yet Holy was sent out too late, and Meteor manages to break through it and crash into the city of Midgar, destroying the world capital. Aeris then summons the Lifestream to force Meteor back and save the Planet.
Magic in Final Fantasy VIII is explained to be the manipulation of the planet's energy fields. Magic can be used by everyone through different means--the main ones being Sorceress Power (Embodiment) and Guardian Force junctioning (Para-Magic). Sorceress's power is attributed to the legend of the Great Hyne, supposedly the creator of the world and the first sorcerer. The legend goes that fragments of the Great Hyne's power are given to sorceresses. This passing of Sorceress Powers, called the Embodiment (actually called "The Succession of Witches" in the Japanese version), became a tradition where a person with the capacity to embody a sorceress's power is chosen as the candidate. As such, sorceresses are both respected and feared by ordinary humans.
Dr. Odine, who started out as a monster researcher and moved on to study Guardian Forces, cooperated with a sorceress and began studying sorceresses and magic. As a result, he developed what is called Para-Magic, which involved junctioning a Guardian Force to a person. It is unclear where a Guardian Force resides within the body, but observations show that those who rely on the Guardian's power suffer memory loss in turn. By junctioning Guardian Forces, people could use magic by drawing the energy from various sources such as items, draw points and even monsters.
Ultimecia, a powerful sorceress from the future, wishes to change the world by compressing time and taking power from all sorceresses ever to have existed. Time compression involves powerful time magic that causes various present states to appear at one time, which in turn causes all sorceresses to exist at one given time. This will give Ultimecia the opportunity to become the most powerful sorceress in existence and an all-powerful being able to control all of time and space. Time compression requires her to possess a sorceress from the past and draw their power. However, the SeeDs from a certain past managed to travel through the time compression ending her reign and restoring the flow of time.
There are many origins and different perspectives on how magic came into the hands of the Enlightened Races and Beastmen of Vana'diel, but one constant fact is how its origins always can be traced back to the nation of Windurst and the race of the Tarutaru.
One tale states of how a young Tarutaru girl, lost around the ruined towers in the wilderness of Sarutabaruta, came to meet the last known living remnant of the Kuluu race and was lead to the Full Moon Fountain, having gained the power of magic and becoming her race's first Star Sybil. Another states of how the Terrestrial Avatar Fenrir came to bestow the gift of magic upon the Tarutaru upon their discovery of the Full Moon Fountain.
Regardless of the correct tale, the power of magic was soon wielded by the Tarutaru with unmatched proficiency, and it would soon usher in the Age of Magic. But over time, as the powers they wielded soon became widespread and even fell into the hands of the dreaded beastmen, the Tarutaru would come to an age of complete isolationism, as the world came to find and use a new power that would change its shape completely.
- “You used magic! You used the power of a l'Cie! The fal'Cie cursed us! We're l'Cie now!”
- —Hope, scared after becoming l'Cie.
In the world of Final Fantasy XIII, the crystal is the source of magic. The fal'Cie, gigantic machines with a core made out of crystal, can use magic, while humans have their crystal power dormant, which can be unlocked by being branded as l'Cie by a fal'Cie. Although off-limits to regular citizens, PSICOM and Guardian Corps can cast magic by using AMP, and thus the magic Sanctum uses is called Manadrive.
- “'Magic' is the ability to draw on the crystal power residing within oneself and make possible all manner of incredible feats. This power was once only the province of l'Cie, but since the catastrophe and the migration to Pulse, some former citizens of Cocoon have suddenly developed the ability to wield magic. Serah is one of those people.
Many of those who now command magical energies are simple civilians, and have never had Serah's experience of once being a l'Cie. It is theorized that the move to Gran Pulse has awoken these abilities, and people are beginning to see magic as just another tool in their everyday lives. Noel is also capable of casting spells, but doesn't seem to think of himself as anything special.”
- —Datalog entry.
When Etro's Gate opened during the fall of Cocoon, chaos leaked from Valhalla into Gran Pulse, but the goddess Etro intervened and closed the gate, preventing a flood. It is said in a fragment entry that when the timeline was changed and history broken, fissures appeared in the wall that separates the spirit and the material and the crystal power that was once bestowed only upon the l'Cie was released, permeating deep into the soil. As such, after the Catastrophe, some of the people who settled the lowerworld developed the ability to use magic, including former l'Cie Serah Farron. Magic is used by channeling the crystal power within each magic-wielder.
- ↑ Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega