O mighty Ifrit, Lord of the Inferno and Champion of Sun! Thy humble servants have summoned Thee forth from the boundless aether, that Thou might cleanse these heathens' souls of their transgressions with Thine holy flames.
- —Amalj'aa Transfigurator
The Primals (蛮神, Banshin?, lit. Barbarian Gods), also known as "eikons," are magical beings in Final Fantasy XIV worshiped by the beast races of Eorzea. They are classic Final Fantasy summons, and may be related to both the Echo and the sudden new attacks from the Garlean Empire, who considers them a threat. Each beast race has its own primal and plans to use them to its own ends, either to harass the city-states, self protection or to fight against the Garleans.
Divine seeds were ever wont to quicken in Eorzea's fertile soil. We need only lead men to the field, and by their eager hands shall a new deity arise.
Primals can only be born by specific set of circumstances: during a moment of chaos, such as during one of Eorzea's Umbral Eras, when there is an abundance of aether and people are praying for aid, the prayers manifest the aether into a physical form. Due to the nature of their existence, a primal must consume aether in the form of crystals to maintain a presence in the physical world, becoming a threat to the world of Hydaelyn. While usually an embodiment of the summoner's desire, there are cases when the summoner transforms into a primal: Louisoix Leveilleur becoming Phoenix as a consequence of an aetheric overflow and the prayers of the people during the Seventh Umbral Era, Ysayle becoming what she later learned to be a facsimile of Saint Shiva from her faith, and Thordan VII using the power of Nidhogg's eye and his religion. There are also primals like Bahamut and Moggle Mog created in the image of their namesakes.
Ten years before the start of the original Final Fantasy XIV, the dragon Midgardsormr was killed in the Battle of Silvertear Skies and its seal on the aether beneath Silvertear Lake was broken. After this the primals were allowed to be summoned by the beast tribes. The summoning rituals require a massive amount of crystals and shards of the same type used by crafters, prompting some of the beast races to stop selling those shards to the city-states. When summoned, primals can "temper" those without the Echo, instilling fanatical loyalty to the primal. Usually this is an intentional process, but a few primals (such as Ramuh) have shown distaste for it, implying it is a natural byproduct of their existence.
Due to the presence of primals in Eorzea and the massive amount of energy needed to summon them, it is said that the flux of aether over Silvertear Falls has been disrupted and the land of Eorzea will slowly perish if this process isn't reversed. Thus, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn make it their goal to eliminate any primals that manifest. This may also be one of the reasons behind the Garlean Empire's campaign to destroy the primals, with Gaius Van Baelsar hoping to achieve a permanent means through the Ultima Weapon's ability to absorb them.
- Ifrit, Lord of the Inferno, Primal of the Amalj'aa.
- Garuda, Lady of the Vortex, Primal of the Ixal.
- Titan, Lord of Crags, Primal of the Kobolds.
- Good King Moggle Mog XII, Primal of the Moogles known as Moggleguard, who support him, and is modeled after their ancestors' savior.
- Bahamut, the Dreadwyrm, Elder Primal of the Dragons of Meracydia in the image of the Firstbrood of the same name. He was incarcerated inside Dalamud until the Seventh Umbral Era.
- Phoenix, a primal of rebirth created from Louisoix Leveilleur during the Seventh Umbral Era.
- Leviathan, Lord of the Whorl, Primal of the Sahagin.
- Ramuh, Lord of Levin, Primal of the Sylphs.
- Shiva, Lady of Frost, Primal of the Ishgardian heretics in the image of Saint Shiva.
- Ravana, Lord of the Hive, Primal of the Gnath.
- Bismarck, Lord of the Mists, Primal of the Vanu Vanu.
- King Thordan, a primal created by Archbishop Thordan VII using the Ishgardians' faith in their country's founding legend in conjunction with Nidhogg's eye. He is supported by his Knights Twelve, the Primal forms of the Heavens' Ward.
- Odin, the Dark Divinity, described as a roaming Elder Primal. The sword Zantetsuken is the primal, while Odin is an illusion.
- Belias, an Elder Primal from an unknown era. Only his Egi is encountered.
- Alexander, Primal of the Illuminati Goblins.
- Demon, Fiend and Goddess, also known as the Warring Triad, are Elder Primals captured and held together in duress within the Allagan land of Azys Lla. It is unknown who have summoned these Primals into existence.
The term "Elder Primal" indicates those worshiped/summoned in older eras (i.e. before the Sixth Astral Era), often from cultures that no longer exist. For example, Bahamut was originally summoned in the Third Astral Era, making him "Elder" to other primals such as Shiva, who is a recent "newborn" primal.
Enkidu, the companion of Gilgamesh, is also inadvertently summoned to Eorzea in the same manner as a primal when Gilgamesh prays to be reunited with his friend while in the vicinity of a large number of Fire Crystals. While Hildibrand refers to him as "the Primal Enkidu," it is likely he is not a true primal, and does not exhibit any of the innate abilities or behavior of one. He could be considered a powerful egi, based on the memory of the original Enkidu.
Egi are tiny versions of primals, made of concentrated elemental essence. Only Summoners can summon them, after binding their power with the aid of their Soul Crystal. These egi bear many characteristics of the respective primal, but lack the personality or aether draining properties of the full scale forms.
Some primal trials summon egi minions, such as Ramuh's Grey Arbiters and Titan's Granite Gaolers.
The adventurer was made aware of the primals by the Elezen mage Louisoix Leveilleur, leader of the Circle of Knowing, while investigating the activities of Garlean Legatus Nael Van Darnus. According to Louisoix, the primals' absorption of the realm's crystals threatened the land. The adventurer also learned that mysterious figures known as "Paragons" taught the beast tribes the means to summon the primals. As the adventurer took down the primals, Nael Van Darnus sought to destroy them by unleashing Meteor, a mechanism whereby the planet's lesser moon Dalamud would crash onto Eorzea.
As Dalamud approached, the primals' aether was absorbed into it, and the summoned primals lost their physical forms. Even after Van Darnus' death, Dalamud continued to fall until it broke apart, revealing the elder primal Bahamut. Although Louisoix tried to use the power of the Twelve, Eorzea's guardian deities, to reseal Bahamut, the attempt failed and Bahamut's rage was unleashed on the realm, triggering the Seventh Umbral Era. In the catastrophe's aftermath the beast tribes focus on rebuilding.
The adventurer is asked by Thancred to aid him in solving a mystery regarding mysterious disappearances in Camp Drybone. The mystery is solved when the Amalj'aa are found to be the culprits. They have been kidnapping people to be offered to their primal, Ifrit. During the operation to catch the Amalj'aa red-handed, the adventurer is betrayed and knocked unconscious. Upon awakening, the adventurer finds that s/he is to be turned into a follower of Ifrit. Through the protection of Hydaelyn, Ifrit's fire has no effect on the adventurer and s/he defeats him.
After some time, the Maelstrom, the grand company of Limsa Lominsa, requests the adventurer to slay Titan, who has been summoned by kobolds near the city. The adventurer is warned by Y'shtola that Titan is much stronger than Ifrit and that advice from the Company of Heroes, a brave band of men and women who have in the past killed Titan, would come in handy. After performing a series of tasks for the company members, the adventurer receives their blessing and enters Titan's lair, where his/her group defeats Titan.
Later on, the adventurer works with Cid and Alphinaud to reach Garuda where the Ixal have summoned her in Natalan. Garuda is revealed to be much more powerful than the previous two primals, able to retain her physical form even after seemingly being beaten. She proclaims to tear down each city-state and leave behind a world where she is revered. Before she can attack the adventurer again, Gaius Van Baelsar arrives and mocks her, slaying the Ixal whose prayers were powering her. Garuda rips Ifrit and Titan into existence from the followers of theirs her Ixal had captured and prepares to feed upon their aether, but the intervention of the Ultima Weapon, deployed by Van Baelsar, defeats Garuda and the other primals.
After the defeat of the Garlean Empire and the resurrected primals, the adventurer is asked by Alisaie Leveilleur to investigate a dungeon beneath Castrum Occidens called the "Binding Coil of Bahamut" to discover the mystery behind Bahamut's sudden disappearance. As they travel through the dungeon, they find fragments of Bahamut's body, and when they reach the center, they see its head held in place by technology from Dalamud. They see Louisoix and Nael Van Darnus alive watching over Bahamut. Unable to do any more, the two take their leave.
The Sahagin accumulate enough crystals to summon their primal, Leviathan. After being warned by the Scions of the Seventh Dawn of the impending crisis, Admiral Merlwyb Bloefhiswyn mobilizes the Maelstrom in launching a preemptive strike against the Sapsa Spawning Grounds. They find a Sahagin Priest calling forth Leviathan, who claims he will achieve eternal life through the Echo. He transfers his mind into the bodies of fellow Sahagin after being shot by the Admiral, but he is absorbed by the awakened Leviathan himself. To take out the Lord of the Whorl on the open seas before he can unleash a catastrophic tidal wave, a special barge called the Whorleater is created to enable the adventurer to approach and defeat the ocean primal.
The touched Sylphs call forth Ramuh, Lord of Levin. The sylphs of Little Solace had previously assured Ramuh was of minimal concern, being concerned only with the protection of the forest, and it was believed that an influx of refugees from the unrest in Ul'dah pushed the touched ones' hands into summoning their primal. When confronted by the Scions, the Lord of Levin condemns the actions of man. Questioning the adventurer's resolve to be Bearer of Light, Ramuh bids him/her to undertake his trial. Once defeated, he grants the adventurer his blessing and leaves the physical world.
The heretic Ysayle summons forth Saint Shiva as a primal. Being a user of the Echo, she can channel the primal into herself, becoming its avatar—a feat previously unknown. Shiva is defeated by the adventurer, and reverts to Ysayle. Frustrated, she condemns their involvement, insisting she's doing this for the sake of peace.
The Gnath, a tribe of arthropod-like beastmen native to Dravania, became increasingly belligerent to both dragons and hunters. The dragon Vidofnir reveals that they had summoned a primal, and this has put the dragons on edge and thus denied the adventurer, Ysayle, Alphinaud, and Estinien access to Hresvelgr for the time being. The adventurer and Ysayle let themselves be captured as offerings to the primal, Ravana. Realizing the primal is a wargod, Ysayle offers a trial by combat, asking the Gnath abandon their conquest if they defeat him. In the first round, Ysayle transforms into Shiva to duel Ravana, but is defeated. The adventurer is up next, and defeats the primal, who honors his word.
In the Sea of Clouds, the Vundu tribe of the Vanu Vanu had summoned Bismarck as a primal, an immense whale capable of devouring the floating islands, including the one that housed the key to Azys Lla. Cid concocts the idea of towing a floating island via airship as bait, and installing Ishgardian Dragonkillers as a means to harpoon the whale. This allows the adventurer to defeat the Lord of the Mists at the Limitless Blue.
It is revealed the Archbishop Thordan VII and his elite knights, the Heavens' Ward, used Ascian teachings to channel the legend of King Thordan and his Knights Twelve as a primal of the church. At the floating continent of Azys Lla, Thordan uses the power of Nidhogg's right eye to transform into King Thordan with the intent of eliminating all war and conflict in the world and ruling as a God-King. As his first act, the primal executes Lahabrea and absorbs the Ascian overlord's aetherial essence. The Knights of the Round are defeated by the adventurer in the Singularity Reactor. Soon after, Alexander is accidentally awoken.
Some of the Primals appear in Final Fantasy Trading Card Game.
The Garlean word "eikon" may derive from the Greek word eikon, translated in English as "image," which is the root word for the English work "icon" whose early definition was religious imagery.
- In the original opening CG of version 1.0, the shapes of Ifrit and Titan emerge from the aether pillar formed after the death of Midgardsormr. Unlike Ifrit, Titan did not actually appear in the game until A Realm Reborn.
- On the bonus disc included with the physical collector's edition of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Midgardsormr is referred to as an elder primal. However, the development team has confirmed this is an error.
- The terms for those enthralled by the primal matches with what element they are; Ifrit's Tempered, one would use fire to temper a blade, Leviathan's Drowned, to be drowned in water, and the last known one, is for the elder primal Odin, which is "sundered," due to how his blade that tears one "asunder."
- Nevertheless, "Tempered" seems to be the default term for a being brought under a primal's thrall, as violet sylphs have been referred to as "Tempered in the levin light of Ramuh."