The knowledge and wisdom of the Ancients is held in the materia. Anyone with this knowledge can freely use the powers of the Land and the Planet. That knowledge interacts between ourselves and the planet calling up magic... or so they say.
Materia (マテリア, Materia?) are items in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII that allow a character to cast spells, summon, and use new command abilities, boost stats and give support abilities. Materia form the basis of the skill and ability system for Final Fantasy VII, and play a prominent role in character skills in other games.
Materia is crystallized Mako. Metaphysically, Materia calls upon the wisdom of the Lifestream to manipulate nature manifesting as the phenomenon of magic for most Materia, although other Materia enhance the user's abilities. Unless one is descended from the Cetra, Materia is the only way humans can use magic. When explaining how Materia is created to Zack and Tifa on Mt. Nibel, Sephiroth mentions that he and Professor Hojo debated the nature of Materia. Hojo objected to the term "magic" being applied to powers from Materia, but could offer no better explanation.
In "Case of Yuffie" of On the Way to a Smile it is explained that to use a Materia's power, a shock triggered by the user's mind waves is required. As a result the user's mind is weakened and frequent use of Materia without rest taxes their stamina.
Materia occurs naturally at "Mako Springs", places where the Lifestream leaks to the surface of Gaia and condenses, such as on Mt. Nibel. This is a rare occurrence, taking centuries for the Mako to crystallize into Materia, and in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Shinra scientists mention that most Materia in use is artificially produced. It is never stated if natural Materia has any appreciable difference in usage and power from artificial Materia, but the White Materia, Black Materia, and the four Materia pieces found in the Materia Caves are much stronger than other Materia pieces.
Though the process varies from game to game, Materia can level up, increasing its powers further. In Final Fantasy VII Materia learns new abilities as it levels up and when mastered spawns a copy. In all other games in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Materia pieces are linked to a single ability that becomes more potent as the Materia gains power: in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Materia gives higher stat boosts as it levels up, while in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- Materia has a higher chance of affecting the user's weapon and/or armor as it increases in level. Exclusive to Crisis Core, different Materia shards can be combined via Materia Fusion, resulting in a stronger Materia often manifesting as a literal combination of the two individual Materia, such as Fire and Power Attack fusing to create Fire Blade.
The size of Materia is ambiguous throughout the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. In the original Final Fantasy VII and in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, most Materia, excluding the White, Black, and Huge Materia, are about the size of a marble. In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Materia appear to be slightly smaller than a tennis ball, about the size of the White Materia in Final Fantasy VII. As Materia is referred to in Final Fantasy VII as "growth" when leveling up, Materia may increase in size to denote its level of power, explaining the ambiguities.
Materia in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII typically come in different types, indicated by their color and function, which can be divided up even further in some games. These types are as follows.
|Summon Materia||Summons creatures to cause devastating effects to foes or positive effects to the user.|
|Magic Materia||Used to cast magic spells which can deal damage, heal or cause various effects.|
|Command Materia||Adds abilities beyond summons and magic to the user, to various effects.|
|Support Materia||Enhances the power of other Materia when paired with them.|
|Independent Materia||Provides support and auto-abilities and stat boosts to the user.|
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- expands on the colors of the original Final Fantasy VII, adding different shades of each color to further classify Materia types. For example, a lighter shade of green is used for curative Materia. Only Summon Materia have a single color and type and remain solely red.
Other entries in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII use separate classifications as described above, and in them color has little to do with a Materia's abilities. Kadaj uses a blue Materia in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children to use Enemy Skills and summon Bahamut SIN. Vincent's select Materia in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, being Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder, are respectively, red, blue, and yellow, and Shelke has an orange Materia which she claims is a Shield Materia. While these Materia would be hued accordingly to their corresponding color, it is likely that the color system is more for gameplay and classification than it is for actual world canon.
In addition to the above types, there are several unique types of Materia with unique colors that do not fit into one of the above categories. These types normally have a very different role, and are used solely in lore and story events, and cannot be equipped.
- The Black Materia is used to call the Ultimate Destructive Magic, Meteor, which can destroy the Planet.
- The White Materia is used to call Holy, the ultimate protective magic which cleanses the Planet.
- The Keystone, a Materia used to access the Temple of the Ancients.
- Huge Materia are special Materia formed from compressing Mako in a Mako Reactor. Four of them are found in Final Fantasy VII.
- Master Materia are available for Command, Magic, and Summon Materia, and contains all or most of the commands for that particular type.
- In Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- there is the Protomateria used by both Lucrecia Crescent and Shelke to help Vincent control his Chaos form.
- In Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- there is a Summon Materia which summons Zirconiade, the ultimate summon. It was split into many pieces to prevent Zirconiade from being called.
- In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, there is an enormous red Materia called "The Goddess Materia" which resides in the depths of the Banora Underground.
Materia can be used when slotted into a weapon or a piece of armor. Once slotted into an equipment piece the wearer can call upon the Materia's powers. Using Materia has both pros and cons. Depending on the type and strength of the Materia equipped, some stats may be lowered or enhanced. As an example, the Restore Materia picked up in Sector 1 Reactor at the beginning of the game reduces maximum HP by two percent and Strength by one, but raises maximum MP by two percent and Magic by one.
Winning battles earns Ability Points that is distributed to Materia currently equipped to a party member in an armor or weapon that has AP growth and Materia levels up when it gains enough AP. Some equipment affects Materia growth through AP; some have Materia slots but the Materia linked to gains no AP, while others double or triple the amount of AP. Other weapons and equipment have no Materia slots at all.
Some Materia allow access to new commands when leveled up, others allow the user to use the granted command more times, others give a bigger stat bonus. When Materia reached its highest level it is "mastered" and a second Materia with the same powers is born. Thus, with patience and enough leveling up, even one-of-a-kind Materia could be reproduced infinitely.
Materia can be slotted into a single slot or a connected equipment slot. When slotted into a connected slot, the Materia can be joined with a Support Materia to varying effects, including adding elemental properties to the slotted equipment or allowing the linked Materia to target multiple targets. For example, linking Added Effect to a Materia that contains a status effect to a character's weapon, makes the weapon gain the properties of the status and randomly inflict the status on targets with the Attack command. Linking Added Effect with a status Materia to a character's armor, however, makes the party member immune to said status.
If the player's Materia inventory is full when trying to pick up a Materia piece the game will notify the player and ask them to remove Materia first. The Kujata Materia is an exception, and will be lost forever if the player picks it up with full inventory.
Leveling up a Materia to its maximum level, and leveling up all Materia to their final levels, gain the player the Master Materia and Materia Overload achievements respectively, in the PC version re-release version of Final Fantasy VII.
|Red||Summon||Used to summon creatures to aid in battle.|
|Green||Magic||Used to cast spells, including damaging, healing, and status-inducing spells. Also affects Strength and Magic stats.|
|Yellow||Command||Allows the use of extra commands in battle like Throw and Steal.|
|Blue||Support||Can be linked to other Materia in order to enhance their effects.|
|Purple||Independent||Increasing stats and gives auto-abilities, such as Cover.|
Materia is used by Kadaj and his brothers to attack Cloud after stealing a case of Materia from him. Rather than equipping Materia to equipment slots Materia is inserted directly into the remnants' arms. In the Reunion Files it is mentioned that, as Materia is a by-product of Mako and Mako is no longer used, Materia has begun to fall out of use.
Vincent Valentine can equip Fire, Blizzard, or Thunder Materia to his weapon to enhance his attacks via a small Materia slot attached to his gun by a chain. Fire-elemental bullets create a wave of fire when they hit their target, hitting multiple enemies. Ice-elemental bullets home in on a target. Lightning-elemental bullets can hit multiple enemies with a "chain lightning" type effect but is only short range.
Unlike Materia in most other games, these Materia do not follow the canon green color scheme of Magic Materia: Fire is red, Blizzard is blue, and Thunder is yellow. While Materia is seen in use, Cloud states that magic usage is best left sparingly as the Planet is still healing from events prior, and requires "all the strength it can get."
Materia is produced in a unique fashion. Once they select the option to create Materia, the player takes a picture with their cellphone, and based on the predominant color in the picture, the game creates a Materia piece—a red picture would produce Fire Materia, for example. The player can only equip three Materia at a time—two in their armor, one in their weapon.
Materia levels up as it is used, to a maximum of Level 9, but higher levels do not award stronger spells—Fire and Fira, for example, are different Materia and Fire will not become Fira as it levels up. The Materia's level affects the chance of the equipment piece taking on the Materia's elemental attributes. For example, when Fire Materia is slotted into the weapon, there is a chance that the player's attack will be Fire-elemental, the higher level the Fire Materia, the more likely it is the attack will be elemental.
Materia works similarly to the way it is used in Final Fantasy VII, but with adjustments to be accommodated into Crisis Core's battle system. As weapon and armor cannot be adjusted in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, the number of Materia slots depend on Zack's SOLDIER rank. Zack begins the game with four Materia slots as a Second Class, then during the game is promoted to First Class and gains the ability to equip six Materia.
Stats boosts are regulated to a single kind assigned to its specific Materia, but can be further boosted to a maximum of +99 for raw stats or +999% for Point based stats; in addition, a new system feature called Materia Fusion allows for two Materia and (with the right requirements) items as stat components to be mixed and fused to the player's intentions.
Unlike Final Fantasy VII, Materia levels up on the Digital Mind Wave rather than requiring AP. When the player gets two or three matching numbers between one and six during a Modulating Phase, the Materia in the corresponding slot levels up: if the player gets two matching numbers, the Materia grows one level, and if all three numbers match the Materia grows two levels. The Moogle summon will level up all Materia at once. The maximum level for a Materia is five.
Additionally, the differing levels of the same spells are no longer contained within the same Materia (e.g. Fire and Fira are located on two separate Materia). The player's inventory can hold 256 Materia at once, and if the number exceeds that limit, all future Materia are discarded. In this case, surplus and excess materia can be converted into Soldier Points, essentially deconstructed back into Mako energy.
The battle system of Final Fantasy VII was used as the basis for the one in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- with action elements added to it; the Materia system was designed so that players could choose between "RPG-oriented enhancements" and "action-oriented enhancements," as well as to give the game balance.
|Dark Green||Magic||Offensive Magic||Used to cast offensive spells in battle.|
|Light Green||Magic||Curative Magic||Used to cast healing spells in battle.|
|Yellow-Green||Magic||Offensive Magic||Used to cast status spells in battle.|
|Dark Yellow||Command||Offensive Attacks||Used to perform attack commands in battle.|
|Pale Yellow||Command||Item Attacks||Used to perform item-related commands in battle.|
|Dark Purple||Independent||Stat-enhancing and modifying||Increases passive stats and grants different beneficial effects.|
|Light Purple||Independent||DMW||Increases probability of specified DMW attacks occurring.|
|Dark Blue||Support||SP||Are attached to various SP-related abilities.|
|Light Blue||Support||Status/Elemental||Are attached to elemental and status effects.|
|Red||Summon Materia||Summon||Adds associated Summon to DMW reels.|
The Materia system was decided upon, where any weapon and armor can be equipped with any Materia. It was decided the battles wouldn't be about characters with individual, innate skills, but that combat would change depending on the way Materia was used. 
There are several unused Materia dummied out the original Japanese release of Final Fantasy VII. They are the MBarrier, Reflect, and Refurbish Magic Materia, the Law, the Booster Support Materia, and the Underwater Independent Materia.
The dummied Magic Materia and Command Materia offer no commands that are not available off other Materia in the game, and the Support Materia has no effect on paired Materia. The Underwater Materia became available in later releases, serving the function during the battle with Emerald Weapon, however its name given in the Japanese International release was changed from すいちゅうこきゅう (Suichū Kokyū?, lit. Underwater Breathing) to せんすい (Sensui?, lit. Diving). All of these Materia appear in later revisions in all later releases in a capacity, though their names were not translated and various values were removed making them less functional.
These stones, developed by the ancient Saronians, are the result of experiments in storing knowledge within gems for later generations. They are said to enhance the abilities of the possessor.
In Dissidia and Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, one of Sephiroth's HP attacks is named "Black Materia," which calls forth a meteor to strike his opponent. This alludes to the Black Materia in Final Fantasy VII which is ultimately used to summon Meteor to destroy the world. As well, Cloud's crystal is a Materia piece, and resembles Aerith's White Materia. Furthermore, Materia is an item available through battlegen that is created by destroying stage elements in the Planet's Core.
In Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade, the Black Materia, Red Materia, Blue Materia, and Yellow Materia all appear as items.
Square Enix's cafe Artnia serves cocktails with a Materia theme. The cocktail contains gin and lime juice, and a frozen Materia orb: the blue one of blue curacao, and the red one of creme de cassis. For the 2014 Valentine's Day Square Enix introduced a set with five pieces of chocolate made to look like Materia orbs from Final Fantasy VII; one for each type of Materia.
In Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring, the great sword Ehrgeiz has a materia which radiates with an eerie glow. Its eternal power in the winner's hands can make the winner into anything, even a god.
In the fan-made series Dead Fantasy, Tifa uses Materia magic in combat. Such spells used so far include Fire, Ice, Lightning, Time, Gravity, Ultima, Barrier, Poison, All, and Blind. As of the fifth episode, Tifa has lost most, if not all, of her Materia to Hitomi.
In Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Zack Fair's D-Link ability icons are materia.
Materia is a Latin term meaning "matter" or "substance", probably from the phrase materia magica (materials for magical rituals). It is also the Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese for the word "subject" and "matter". Fitting as Materia hosts various kinds that have different effects.
Hironobu Sakaguchi suggested the Materia system, originally known as "spheres", a name Tetsuya Nomura proposed. Sakaguchi thought the name should be something to resonate easily even with elementary school kids, so the term Materia was chosen.
- The English script of the movie packaged with the "Limited Edition Collector's Set" of the movie reveals that Loz and Yazoo used "Comet, Flare, and Explosion" Materia in their suicide attack on Cloud near the end of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.