Final Fantasy is the one video game series that I’ve been a fan off throughout. When I saw Final Fantasy XI Online, I was curious but reluctant. While I’d spent a lot of time playing a certain text-based MUD, I had never played an MMORPG before. I was living in Richmond, VA and had a fair bit of free time on my hands when I finally decided to purchase the game and see if it was any good. My friend Rick tried to take it from my hand and replace it with a copy of EverQuest, but in the end Final Fantasy XI prevailed.
I planned to recreate my MajorMud character, a ranger named Locrean Mode. I created an Elvaan Warrior, and picked my starting city to be San d’Oria, the Elvaan home city. Armed with the notorious BradyGames guide, I set out on my adventure, wandering into the surrounding forests to slay (and more often be slain by) rabbits.
What struck me the most was the atmosphere of the game. I’d never played anything as immersive before, and to this day I can still remember being in that forest with the Ronfaure music playing. It was a complex game and I was completely unsure if I would ever completely understand all the details of it.
I played the game pretty steadily for a month or two, learning not only the game, but the MMORPG culture as well. It would be a while before I could unlock the Ranger class, but I was pretty confident that I would level Ranger (and every other job) up to level 75. By the time I reached level 21-22 however, I quickly grew bored with it.
Unlike Western RPGs, most Japanese games are based on grinding experience and levels. Final Fantasy and even more so DragonQuest (aka Dragon Warrior) are examples of this. Final Fantasy XI was also not friendly to solo play, forcing players to join together in groups of 6 to grind out this experience. Depending on your job combination, it may or may not be easy to find one of these parties.
Warrior was not a popular primary job (it was mostly used as a sub-job), so I spent a lot of time sitting waiting for a party in Qufim Island, the level 20 area. When I did get a party, it would usually end up disbanding shortly after or be so dysfunctional that it ended with a LOSS of experience rather than a game. I got tired of sitting around being frustrated, and quit the game.
Several months later, my friend Hailey (whom had started around the time I did but continued to play after I quit) talked me into coming back. Based on the job mechanics I had learned, I decided to create a new character. I thought this new character would be more versatile than the warrior I had played before, and I was interested in tinkering with the magic system. I also decided against playing another Elvaan since I thought they were fairly ugly and poor magic users. I narrowed my decision down to a Hume, the game’s basic human race, or a Mithra which is a race of catgirl warriors, with similar stats to Hume.
Thus was born Ellenzar, the Mithra Red Mage.