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 who are worshiped by the beast races of Eorzea. They all 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 powerful 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 a very specific set of circumstances: during a moment of chaos, such as during one of Eorzea's Umbral Eras, when there is a massive abundance of aether and people are praying for aid, their 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. It is possible that the original forms of the Primals were sentient tribes people, as Shiva possesses a female Elezen's body to manifest and Phoenix was born from someone who was in the midst of both an aetheric overflow and the prayers of the people during the Seventh Umbral Era.
Ten years before the start of the original Final Fantasy XIV, the dragon Midgardsormr is killed in the Battle of Silvertear Skies and its seal on the aether beneath Silvertear Lake is broken. After this event, the Primals are 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, a fact that prompted some of the beast races to stop selling those shards to the city-states. When summoned, Primals have the ability to "temper" those without the Echo, instilling fanatical loyalty to the Primal in question. Usually this is an intentional process, but a few Primals (such as Ramuh) have shown distaste for the process, 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 whole land of Eorzea will slowly perish if this process isn't reversed. For this reason, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn make it a 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 a Primal.
Known Primals are:
- 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.
- 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. Originally a mortal woman condemned for sleeping with a dragon, this act led to the heretics venerating her as Saint Shiva.
- Good King Moggle Mog XII, Primal of the Moogles.
- Odin, the Dark Divinity, described as a roaming Elder Primal, The sword Zantetsuken is the primal, while Odin is an illusion.
- Bahamut, Elder Primal of the Dragons of Meracydia, later incarcerated inside Dalamud.
- Phoenix, a primal of rebirth created from Louisoix Leveilleur during the Seventh Umbral Era.
- Belias, an Elder Primal from an unknown era. Only his Egi is encountered.
- Bismarck, Primal of the Vanu Vanu.
- Ravana, Primal of the Gnath.
- Alexander, Primal of the Goblins.
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 very 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 that 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.
The Adventurer is first 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 is threatening the land. S/he also learns that mysterious figures known as "Paragons" taught the beast tribes the means to summon the Primals. As the Adventurer takes down the Primals, Nael Van Darnus seeks to destroy the Primals by unleashing Meteor, a mechanism whereby the planet's lesser moon Dalamud would crash onto Eorzea.
As Dalamud approaches, the Primals' aether is absorbed into it, resulting in the summoned Primals losing their physical form. Even after Van Darnus' death, Dalamud continues to fall until it breaks apart, revealing the elder Primal Bahamut. Although Louisoix tries to use the power of the Twelve, Eorzea's guardian deities, to reseal Bahamut, the attempt fails and Bahamut's rage is unleashed on the realm, triggering the Seventh Umbral Era. In the aftermath of this, the beast tribes focus on rebuilding after the catastrophe.
In Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, 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. However, during the operation to catch the Amalj'aa red-handed, the adventurer is betrayed and knocked unconscious. When s/he wakes up, s/he finds that s/he is to be turned into a follower of Ifrit. Fortunately, through the protection of Hydaelyn, Ifrit's fire does not affect the adventurer and s/he is able to defeat Ifrit.
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. However, the adventurer is warned by Y'shtola that Titan is much stronger than Ifrit and s/he should seek advice from the Company of Heroes, a brave band of men and women who have in the past killed Titan. After performing a series of tasks for the members of the Company, the adventurer receives their blessing and goes to Titan's lair, where s/he and his/her group fights and defeats Titan.
Much later on, the Adventurer must work together with Cid and Alphinaud to reach Garuda where the Ixal have summoned her in Natalan. S/he succeeds in reaching and facing the primal, but Garuda is revealed to be much more powerful than the previous two Primals fought, able to retain her physical form even after seemingly being beaten. She proclaims that she will tear down each city-state and leave only 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 then proceeds to rip Ifrit and Titan into existence from the followers of theirs her Ixal had captured, and prepares to feed upon their aether. At this point it is only the intervention of the Ultima Weapon, deployed by Van Baelsar, that 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 also see Louisoix and Nael Van Darnus alive and watching over Bahamut. Unable to do anymore, the two take their leave of the dungeon.
In the events of the Through the Maelstrom scenario arc, 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 also claims he will achieve eternal life through the Echo. This is demonstrated when transfers to the bodies of fellow Sahagin after being shot by the Admiral, but in turn would be soon be absorbed by the awakened Leviathan himself. In order to take out the Lord of Whorls on the open seas before he could unleash a catastrophic tidal wave, a special barge called the Whorleater is created to enable the player to approach and defeat the ocean Primal.
In the Main Scenario events of Defenders of Eorzea, the touched Sylphs suddenly call forth Ramuh, Lord of Levin. The sylphs of Little Solace had previously assured that Ramuh was of minimal concern, being concerned only with defense of the forest. It was believed that an influx of refugees from the unrest in Ul'dah had pushed the touched ones hands into summoning their primal. When confronted by the Scions, the Lord of Levin condemned the actions of man. Questioning the player's resolve to be Bearer of Light, Ramuh bade them to undertake his trial. Once defeated, he grants the Adventurer his blessing and leaves the physical world.
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 full scale forms.
Some Primal trials summon egi minions, such as Ramuh's Grey Arbiters and Titan's Granite Gaolers.
- In the original opening CG of version 1.0, it is possible to see the shapes of Ifrit and Titan emerging from the aether pillar formed after the death of Midgardsormr. Unlike Ifrit, however, Titan did not actually appear in the game until A Realm Reborn.
- 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.
- 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 that are enthralled by the primal matches with what element they are; for example 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 tears one "asunder".
- Tempered seems to be the default term for a being brought under a primal's thrall, however, as violet sylphs have been referred to as "Tempered in the levin light of Ramuh."