Summoned monsters (幻獣, Genjū?, lit. Phantom Beast) are a recurring element in the Final Fantasy series. They are powerful monsters that can be called into battle to fight by their Summoner. The exact nature of summoned monsters varies from game to game, but in some they are depicted as gods or demigods, and their role in the storyline has grown as the series has progressed.
In earlier titles summoned monsters merely appeared to perform a single attack before vanishing. Summoning them costs MP, often more than normal spells, but their attacks tend to be stronger or have effects normal spells cannot duplicate. Starting with Final Fantasy X summoned monsters have acted as temporary party members, able to be called into battle to fight alongside their summoner in place of the rest of the party for a period of time.
A recurring theme with summoned monsters is that, to earn their allegiance and the right to summon them, the summoner must best the summoned monster in battle. While this is not universal, and some summons are acquired in other ways, most often the player must adhere to this tradition.
Summoned monsters often live in another dimension separate from the human world, and travel between the realms is restricted or frowned upon. In other games, summons seem to possess the ability to transport their enemies into a pocket dimension to do battle in. This is difficult to perceive when the player summons a monster against enemies, but in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, the summons Genesis calls to attack Zack teleport Zack into another realm for the fight, Zack returning to the normal world when the summon is defeated.
There is no universal rule that governs how long summons can manifest in the normal world, varying from game to game to accommodate different gameplay mechanics. Typically, however, a summoning is only temporary and the summoner eventually dismisses the summoned monster back to its home realm.
The first specific name given to summoned monsters in an English game was Final Fantasy VI, where they were called "espers." Since then, various games have used different terms for summoned monsters—Esper and Eidolon are the most common with the latter being more popular, but there are others. Some games that lack specific English terms refer to them simply as summons or summoned monsters/beasts.
Summons don't appear in the world of the first Final Fantasy; Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy explains this by stating that prior to the game's events, Chaos sealed all the summons away in the interdimensional rift. Additionally, Bahamut, who would become a traditional summon, appears and debuts in this game, but in a significantly different role as a quest-giving NPC.
In the original NES release there are no summons, but in the 20th Anniversary addition the optional Arcane Labyrinth dungeon introduces Deumion, who has the power to summon monsters. Phrekyos is one such monster.
In their first appearances as proper summons, they can be called into battle by Sages, Evokers and Summoners. Summoned monsters have one of three effects when called, either a weaker offensive attack, a healing or beneficial status spell on the party, or their ultimate attack, a powerful offensive spell.
Lower-level summons can be purchased in shops, but higher level summons require the player to find and defeat the summon to earn their spell. There are only eight summoned monsters in this game, which would become the iconic recurring summons of the series—Chocobo, Shiva, Ramuh, Ifrit, Titan, Odin, Leviathan, and Bahamut.
Summoned monsters play a major element in the story. They were known as summoned monsters in the original version, Summons in the PlayStation and Advance versions. The Nintendo DS release coined the term "Eidolons," a naming convention carried into the The Complete Collection release of the game and its sequel Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.
Eidolons can only be summoned by the Summoners of the village Mist. At the beginning of the game, the King of Baron tricks Cecil and Kain into delivering a ring to the village that unleashes monsters to burn it to the ground. Rydia is the village's only survivor.
Summoned monsters live in an alternate world called the Feymarch, accessed by a cave deep underground. They are ruled over by Queen Asura and King Leviathan. The King of all monsters, Bahamut, lives on the Red Moon.
A few Eidolons from Final Fantasy IV return; these eidolons are Shiva, Ramuh, Ifrit, and Titan. The Goblin, Cockatrice, and Bomb summon can only be found as enemy drops. Once the appropriate boss of the first four floors of the Tower of Babil have been defeated, Rydia will be able to summon them again in battle.
Once Edge confirms she's an imposter, she battles the party and summons her four previous acquired Eidolons against the party. Once the party defeats these four, she tries to finish off the party with Bahamut, but the real Rydia appears and summons the Mist Dragon to knock some sense into Bahamut who after dismisses himself from battle.
Once the real Rydia participates in the final battle, she has all her Eidolons at her disposal minus Goblin, Cockatrice, Bomb, and Mindflayer. Once the imposter is defeated, she will inform the Creator that "the Eidolon project is complete".
All of the Eidolons from Final Fantasy IV return in the sequel, and are given even more importance in the storyline. Rydia and her summoner abilities return for this game, which she shares with the Mysterious Girl, an antagonist who uses Eidolons against the heroes.
Summoned monsters are called into battle by the Summon command learned by Summoners, the Summoners' Call command or via the Magic Lamp. Summons are purchased in shops and won by finding and defeating a summoned monster in battle. Final Fantasy V introduces additional series staples, such as Carbuncle, Phoenix and Golem.
For the first time, summoned monsters are given an official name and a full backstory. Known as espers, they were humans and animals caught in the magical crossfire of three feuding gods known as the Warring Triad. The espers eventually fled to another realm to avoid being hunted by humans and having their powers exploited. The Gestahlian Empire located the gate to the esper realm and captured several espers to imbue humans and machines with magical energy, creating Magitek.
Besides being able to be summoned into battle, espers are the basis of the game's magic system. When an esper dies its remains crystallize into magicite. Party members can equip magicite to learn magic spells and receive stat bonuses when they level up.
Summons play a minor role in the game, reverting to mere monsters that are called into battle, this time via Summon Materia. Final Fantasy VII is the only game in the Final Fantasy main series where none of the summons are fought as bosses.
How summons came to be is never explained within the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII releases or media, except for some dummied lines from the original Final Fantasy VII, explained by Sephiroth in the Temple of the Ancients after obtaining the Bahamut Materia. The majority of the lines were not translated for the English version of Final Fantasy VII and can only be found in the original Japanese version. Sephiroth explains that during the times of the Ancients there were beings created by the Planet that sealed their life energy in Materia. It is suggested the creatures that protect the Temple were created by the Planet, and it could indicate the Red Dragon turns itself into the Bahamut Materia upon defeat.
Summoned monsters again play an important role in gameplay and story. Known as Guardian Forces, or GFs, they are entities of energy that can bond with a human host's consciousness, a process known as junctioning. Junctioning a GF allows the user to channel magical energy using the Guardian Force as a medium.
In gameplay terms, the party member to whom a GF is junctioned can draw magic from enemies and the environment, then cast it in battle or junction it to a stat attribute, such as Strength, Speed, or elemental or status properties, enhancing the party member's stats, improving their elemental and status defenses, and adding elemental and status properties to their attacks. GFs can also learn support and command abilities that the equipped party member can equip.
Because the GF's presence in the human mind takes up space, prolonged usage of them results in the user developing amnesia. This serves to conceal a plot twist when four of the game's protagonists discover a connection between them and the game's up-to-then main antagonist, Sorceress Edea, that their usage of GFs has caused them to forget.
In this game, eidolons can only be called by the summoners of Madain Sari. However, eidolons can be "extracted" from a summoner and bound to gemstones, allowing anyone to call them. Kuja extracts Princess Garnet's eidolons to be used as weapons by Queen Brahne, and Garnet is able to re-acquire them over the course of the game. This game marks the first time that the ability to summon monsters has to be learned through Ability Points.
Aeons are physical manifestations of the dreams of the fayth conjured by a link between a summoner and the fayth. As part of a summoner's pilgrimage, they must travel across Spira and pray at various temples, earning the power to summon the temple's guardian aeon. The ultimate goal of the pilgrimage is to meet Yunalesca at Zanarkand, who bestows on the summoner the power to summon the Final Aeon, the only force that can defeat the monster Sin. This is the first game where summons act as temporary party members when summoned.
Avatars are beings of great power in Vana'diel, divided into two different classes, celestial avatars and terrestrial avatars. Creatures from either class may be summoned by the player. Celestial avatars are powerful entities sleeping in Protocrystals hidden around various parts of Vana'diel. These include beings such as Shiva, Ifrit, Garuda, Titan, Ramuh, Odin, and Alexander.
Terrestrial avatars (霊獣, Reijū?, lit. Spirit Beasts) serve Altana, and work to protect the Mothercrystals. Carbuncle, Diabolos, Fenrir, Bahamut and Phoenix all serve as terrestrial avatars, but of those, only Carbuncle, Diabolos and Fenrir may be summoned by the player. All avatars except for Carbuncle must be defeated in combat in order for the player to win the right to call on their power.
Espers are ancient and powerful beings created by the gods (likely the Occuria) long ago. For various reasons the Espers were cast down to earth, usually for attempting to betray the Occuria or otherwise being corrupted and turned evil. Each Esper is associated with a sign of the Zodiac and an elemental force, and many take cues in their design from the Lucavi of Final Fantasy Tactics or past Final Fantasy villains. Each Esper has a specific glyph represented within a crystal that is viewed upon the Esper's defeat in battle.
Defeating an Esper allows a party member to bond itself to the Esper, allowing them to summon it in battle.
In Revenant Wings the Espers, called Yarhi by the aegyl, are the summons in the game. There are 51 in total and they incorporate the six elements: Fire, Ice, Earth, Thunder, Holy, and Neutral. They can be classified as either a Flying unit, Ranged unit, or Melee unit. The Espers also come in three ranks with the weakest being rank 1 and strongest being rank 3. Higher ranked Espers also cost more to summon with rank 3 Espers limited to one at a time.
There are six playable Eidolons in the game, and several non-playable ones. It is said that Eidolons appear when a l'Cie's will to finish their Focus wavers, and the l'Cie must face their Eidolon in battle to gain their power. Eidolons also have the ability to transform into a machine for the l'Cie to ride on, a system called Gestalt Mode.
Alternate versions of the Final Fantasy XIII Eidolons appear, bearing different coloration than their original counterparts. The antagonist, Caius, transforms into Chaos Bahamut, and Noel and Serah fight a boss called Twilight Odin. A corrupted Shiva also appears, but assisting Lightning in fighting Caius, suggesting these "corrupted" Eidolons are not an entirely evil force.
Also, when a monster is acquired in a form of crystal and used in battle, it is considered a summon.
In Final Fantasy XIV's setting, Primals are godlike manifestations created from the world's "Aether", focused into being by the belief of living, sentient creatures. Each Primal tends to associate itself with a particular beast race, and is generally seen as a malevolent presence, as they require, and desire, ever-greater amounts of Aether and followers to maintain and grow their forms, and are willing to "temper" (effectively brainwash) mortals into being their followers.
Summoners in Final Fantasy XIV will summon "fragments" of a Primal's power to do battle with; these fragments, called "egi", are incomplete enough for a Summoner to bend them to the Summoner's will.
Archaeans are often colossal creatures said to represent the powers of the stars. Only Noctis can summon them once obtaining them after a battle or other means. Thus far, Leviathan and Titan have been seen in trailers while Ramuh has been introduced in the Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae demo. Size seems to play a role in how powerful an Archaean is.
Summons in this game were originally called summon monsters in the PlayStation translation, but were renamed to espers with the newer translation. They are powerful spells used by Summoners. They are learned by spending JP. Summons require large amounts of MP and have long charge times, especially for the higher tier summons such as Bahamut.
There are two kinds of summonable monsters. One is the five different Totemas, crystal guardians, which each represent one of the five different playable races and are able to be summoned by spending ten Judge Points in battle. The viera Summoner job class can summon eight different summons by spending MP.
Called Espers, summoned monsters in Tactics A2 are accessible through the viera job class Summoner. They do not differentiate between friend or foe and instead affect every unit within their target area.
Summons in Crystal Defenders work as a special type of ability outside of units that causes a special effect on the battlefield, depending on the summon used. Each summon costs crystals, the objects the player is trying to defend, so summons must be used sparingly or else the player will soon run out of crystals to protect.
"Eidolon" is used as the official translation for the original term "War God" (軍神, Gunshin?) in Japanese. Eidolons are created by the Dominion of Rubrum with the power of the Vermilion Bird Crystal as a part of their primary arsenal, and notably there are multiple variations of the same creature, who all belong to a certain Eidolon Class. Eidolons are normally summoned at the cost of the summoner's life, and only Special Eidolons can be summoned without endangering the summoner. The ability to summon these majestic creatures proved too much of a loss to its users. At one point, a summoner had to use the lives of an entire town to summon a Verboten Eidolon, thus resulting in a tragic situation which forced the magic to become sealed.
There are six summoned beasts in Bravely Default, each requires a certain level of the Summoning ability learned by Summoners: Girtablulu, Hresvelgr, Ziusudra's Sin, Promethean Fire, Deus Ex, and Susano-o. The conjurer job can also use them through the Invocation job command to boost stats.
In Final Fantasy Dimensions, the Summoner job has the ability to summon Eidolons to aid in battle.
Summons are not given a specific name in this game. Bound to summonstones, they can be received as map bonuses or found in certain storylines. A character can equip one summon at a time, and a summon can only be summoned between one or three times. After they are summoned the max number of times the summon is depleted, and the player must fight a number of battles to recharge it so it can be used again.
The player is able to set up to five reserve summonstones, where the next summonstone marked will replace the previous when depleted. Some summonstones come in two varieties—manual, where the player calls them at any time they wish, and automatic, where the summon is immediately used under specific circumstances.
The game also implies that the recurring summons seen across the series may somehow be the same beings.
Summonstones reappear and function the same as in the original Dissidia. Though the game again does not assign summons a specific term, the terms "Esper" and "Eidolon" are used interchangeably to refer to summons, but "Eidolon" is used most frequently.
The Museum specifically applies the term "Eidolon" in the context of Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VII, while Vaan makes mention of Yuna summoning Eidolons when neither of their original games used the term. On other occasions the museum uses the terms of the original games, for example referring to Ifrit as an Eidolon, Guardian Force and Aeon respectively for Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy X.
Summons appear as the reward for completing the Feature Drive sequence in any BMS. They boost the damage of successful hits. They are also guaranteed to deliver their special attack, even if one does poorly after they appear. This attack typically finishes off whatever monster is present, though some monsters in Expert or Ultimate difficulty prove more resilient than others.
There are five possible summons chosen at random: Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Odin, and Bahamut. Equipping the Magic Lamp will guarantee one of them will appear even if one completely fails the Feature Drive sequence. Equipping the Magicite of a specific summon, such as Shiva Magicite, will force that particular summon to appear if the Feature Drive sequence is performed successfully.
A trophy is awarded for witnessing all 5 summons. As Bahamut is extremely rare, it is usually faster to wait for a Bahamut Magicite to drop at the end of a Music Stage.
Summons are no longer chosen at random, as each character now has a specific summon they can use. However, characters can still use different summons by equipping their respective Magicite, excluding Chocobo.
The following is a list of summons along with whom they are summoned by:
- Chocobo - Anyone (must perform poorly during the Feature Drive)
- Ramuh - Warrior of Light, Firion, Barret, Prishe, Agrias, Cidolfus, Noel
- Shiva - Princess Sarah, Cid Haze, Edgar, Tifa, Squall, Seifer, Laguna, Shantotto, Lilisette, Snow, Benjamin, Paine, Ciaran
- Ifrit - Onion Knight, Edge, Bartz, Faris, Locke, Yuffie, Rinoa, Zidane, Auron, Auron #2, Jecht, Vaan, Balthier, Fran, Rikku #2, Cloud #2, Tifa #2, Zack, Machina
- Odin - Minwu, Cecil, Kain, Rosa, Lenna, Vincent, Aphmau, Lightning, Y'shtola, Cosmos, Rem, Lightning #2
- Bahamut - Rydia, Krile, Terra, Celes, Vivi, Garnet, Tidus, Yuna, Ashe, Hope, Vanille, Chaos, Ace, Serah
- Knights of the Round - Galuf, Cloud, Aerith, Eiko, Ramza
Esper is a word used to name summons in Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade. It is said that only Espers have the ability to restore light to a crystal that has lost its glow. Espers are usually contained within circular red gems, of which may be occasionally discovered by feeding a green chocobo or by defeating the Espers themselves in battle.
Rydia, Eiko, and Yuna attack with summoned monsters from their respective games: Rydia summons Mist Dragon, Eiko summons Madeen, and Yuna summons Valefor. Krile has the Summoner's Dualcast which makes her summon both Titan and Odin for her attack.
Espers make an appearance in Final Fantasy Record Keeper.
Etymology and symbolismEdit
Evocation is the act of calling upon or summoning a spirit, demon, god or other supernatural agent, in the Western mystery tradition. Comparable practices exist in many religions and magical traditions and may employ the use of mind-altering substances with and without uttered word formulas.
esper (stylized as ESPer) is an individual capable of telepathy and other similar paranormal abilities. The term was apparently coined in this sense by Alfred Bester in his 1950 short story "Oddy and Id" and is derived from the abbreviation ESP for extrasensory perception.In fiction, an
Eidolon is a Greek word for "unsubstantial image", "reflection" or "phantom", additionally meaning "ideal", from which the Latin word Idolum comes. Idol is "a representation or symbol of an object of worship".
aeon, also spelled eon, originally means "life" or "being", though it then tended to mean "age", "forever" or "for eternity". In Gnostic lore, it denotes the immaterial emanations of God.The word
avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to Earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being, and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation", but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation".In Hinduism, an
The concept of summons in the Final Fantasy series takes influence from kami, the spirits worshiped in the animism of Shinto. Though the word kami is translated in multiple ways into English (god, deity, divinity, or spirit) no one English word expresses its full meaning. Kami are elements in nature, animals, creationist forces in the universe, as well as various anthropomorphic spirits. In Shinto, kami are not separate from nature, but are of nature, possessing positive and negative, good and evil characteristics. They are manifestations of musubi (結び) the interconnecting energy of the universe. This link is most obviously seen in Final Fantasy IX where memories are the essence of souls and part of the universe-wide cycle of life with eidolons being manifestations of said memories, and in Final Fantasy X where the aeons are made of pyreflies.
Kami are believed to be hidden from this world, and inhabit a complementary existence in the world of the kami. Although kami are not visible to the human realm, they are said to inhabit sacred places, natural phenomena or people during rituals that ask for their blessing. They are mobile, visiting their places of worship but never staying permanently. In Final Fantasy games summons manifest only when summoned, and appear to reside in alternate dimensions: in Final Fantasy VI the espers live in the Land of Espers; in Final Fantasy XII the Espers are banished to a nether realm; and in Final Fantasy XIII series the Eidolons hail from Valhalla, the middle realm between the visible world and the unseen realm, momentarily entering the physical world via a glyph when called forth by their summoner. Kami have a different guardianship or duty to the people around them; just as the people have an obligation to keep the kami happy, the kami have to perform the specific function of the object, place, or idea they inhabit; in the Final Fantasy games, the summons must answer the call of their summoner once the "link" has been established.
Kami are of two minds: they can nurture and love when respected, or cause destruction and disharmony when disregarded. Kami must be appeased to gain their favor and avoid their wrath. In Final Fantasy games the summoner often must go through a "trial" to gain the summon, often in a way of a boss battle, but in Final Fantasy X summoners must pray for the aeons' fayth to form a bond. There are many different varieties of kami in the pantheon with varying functions, such as the kami of wind, kami of entryways, and kami of roads. In the Final Fantasy series this usually manifests as summons of different elemental affinities.