****Note: Credit to Eorzeapedia for the images and all the new information below***
EORZEA: "Such a marvel is proof not only that the gods exist, but that they love, and that profoundly."
- Explorer and Mapmaker, Orrick Ballard
FINAL FANTASY XIV takes the first intrepid steps into an unknown realm, and in doing so a new place for adventurers of all creeds to call home is born - Eorzea.
In the world of Hydaelyn, the term Eorzea denotes the geographical region comprised of the continent of Aldenard and its surrounding islands, as well as the civilization which spawned there.
Calling the area home are several independent city-states, the most notable being Limsa-Lominsa, bustling port and pirate hub; Ul'dah, a desert city rich in mineral wealth; Gridania, nested deep within an ageless wood; and Ishgard, bastion atop the mountains.
Throughout the realm can be found climates both harsh and mild, as diverse as the skies are vast. Bleak, desolate landscapes stretch to uncharted horizons, their uninviting expanses yet to be traversed. Colossal monstrosities stalk the land, as if mountains primeval had somehow stirred and risen. Of all the things Eorzea may be said to be, hospitable is not among them.
In the past, the city-states battled tirelessly, vying for domination and hegemony. Death-mongering beast tribes molested the land unchecked, leaving only destruction in their wake. Unseen enemies lurked beyond the borders, striking at the slightest provocation or show of weakness. The history of Eorzea is a tapestry woven of war and strife, stained with the blood of those gone before, and the tears and ash of fallen endeavor.
And yet the love the gods bear this unforgiving land endures, now as always. What is the allure of this seemingly forsaken place? With what hope and to what end do would-be inhabitants journey here to live out their days?
The answer lies with that which gives form to Hydaelyn and all myriad creation in it--crystals. The cornerstone of all things, it is these crystallized manifestations of the aether that beckon the people to come, risking all in the undertaking.
And so it is that adventurers too have hearkened the call--to bear witness to the epic set to unfold in this land.
The Age of Adventure
"Men are wont to suffer
And forget wherein they've sinned
Ne'er hearkening back on tragedies past
Lest the Twelve might humble them"
Countless moons have waxed and waned since wandering tribes from across Hydaelyn first arrived in Eorzea and settled its untamed lands. The benevolent deities who ruled the empty continent and its surrounding islands were impressed with the resilience of these primitive men and women , and in an act of mercy each saw fit to ensure their welfare.
These gods and goddesses soon came to be known as the Twelve, and the villages thrived in their light until the land was bespeckled with several independent city-states. Though, where man walks, strife follows, and for generations, these tiny nations carved out a history of blood and betrayal built upon broken oaths and the sun-bleached bones of the fallen.
However, the fate of the land would soon change. Not fifteen years past, a new threat appeared without warning from the east. Metal-clad warriors brandishing weapons that spewed streams of fire, fleets of behemoth airships belching oily smoke that would block out the sun for days at a time...
A resistance was amassed but to little avail, and it was not long before Ala Mhigo, once considered the most powerful of the remaining six Eorzean city-states, had fallen to the mighty Garlean Empire.
As the empire's dreadnaughts continued their march of terror across the blood-soaked fields of the north, the remaining nations put aside their differences and clandestinely joined hands to form a loose alliance to ensure they not meet the same fate, should the invaders turn their eyes southward.
Fortunately, the invasion never came, and just as quickly as it had arrived, the empire was gone again.
However, echoes of their grim message rang clear in the hearts of Eorzea's people - its effect on the, profound and irreversible. The realm would never be the same.
And it was thus that Eorzea slipped into the "Age of Calm", during which an uneasy peace prevailed.
To prepare for the coming storm, the first task of the newly-formed alliance was to fortify their defenses. In the previous era, few city-states maintained organized militaries, opting instead to hire the services of mercenaries and hedge knights to champion their causes. However, after the fall of Ala Mhigo, city guard units were restructured into legitimate standing armies which could be quickly called upon and mobilized if he need arose.
Unfortunately, this left a majority of the realm's hireswords with nowhere to pledge their fealty, and with their livelihood ripped out from under them, many of these men and women resorted to acts of villainy to survive. For fear of the situation worsening and the land falling into chaos, several respected leaders from around Eorzea gathered together and formed a network of guilds to provide these lost souls with the opportunity to redeem themselves by aiding others.
Through the foresight and resolve of these leaders a new industry known as "adventuring" emerged, its advent helping usher in the current era - an era of hope in a time when shadows of uncertainty loom ever closer.
"Every soul must needs have a code, a purpose, to guide them. Else chaos would consume us all." - The Determination of Being, Guillaurmand de Padellaint
In general, there is a fourfold classification of adventurers based on the disciplinary paths to which they devote themselves: Disciples of War, masters of arms who live for the call of combat; Disciples of Magic, erudite researchers of all things esoteric; Disciples of the Land, gatherers of material resources and students of the natural order; and Disciples of the Hand, crafters who invest their creative ingenuity in synthesis and industry.
Players may opt to specialize in one discipline, excelling in a single skill, or they may take a more general approach, making free use of the Armoury. The choice is yours. These are the four available so far:
Disciples of War, also currently called the fighters, are the close combat adventurers of Eorzea.
Disciples of Magic, also known as sorcerers, are the magic users of Eorzea
Disciples of the Land, also known as gatherers, use gathering tools such as axes and pick axes to harvest natural materials such as wood or ore.
Disciples of the Hand, also known as crafters, use crafting tools and materials to form new items. By equipping crafting tools you will automatically start your path of the Crafter. Classes included in this path are the Chef and the Blacksmith.
Aetheryte & the Aetheryte Crystal
Aetheryte is the name given to massive shards of crystallized aetheric mist, precisely cut and fused to arcane machinery. While it is not known when or by whom these devices were originally constructed, their teleportational qualities have become the backbone of everyday transportation throughout the realm, with most managed and operated by individual city-states. Their existence in Eorzea seems to be what drew scores of people to settle in the hostile land in the first place.
Though the exact mechanism behind teleportation via aetheryte is still largely a mystery, one theory states that when a sentient being approaches one of the portals, the aether that makes up its body resonates with the aether of the crystals, which in turn results in a complete breakdown of the being's mass, allowing it to temporarily return to the invisible aetheric streams that course throughout the planet.
The being's soul, which cannot be broken down, then guides the particles to a predetermined destination, and upon arrival, the corresponding aetheryte receptacle reconfigures the mist back into its original form. This whole process takes only a matter of moments, allowing for nearly instant transportation to faraway destinations.
However, being broken down to the aetheric level can take its toll on one's body, and rest is often required after several consecutive jumps, especially as the distance becomes greater. As a precaution, most city-states strongly discourage over-teleporting, as it can lead to irreversible damage...
"To discern the true nature of man, one need look no farther than the palm of his hand."
- from Treatise on the Principles of Self-Actualization, Rhylsygg Bhirlonsyn
The Armoury system is one of the foundations of the Final Fantasy XIV experience, simultaneously being both the impetus behind character development and a key factor determining individual gameplay.
By merely equipping any of a variety of weapons or tools, players can instantly change their active skills, thus enabling them to dramatically alter their style of play as well as their character's outward appearance. To take an example, let us follow a day in the life of Leeroy.
Leeroy recently chose to begin the journey down the path of the gladiator, trying his hand at the age-old art of swordplay for the first time. Even today, he woke at dawn to spend the daylight hours drilling relentlessly on the tiny wildlife just outside of town. Alas, opportunities often present themselves when least expected...
Without prior notice, some friends invite Leeroy to partake in an expedition in some nearby ruins. Upon joining their ranks, however, he observes that the other party members are seasoned warriors and accomplished mages all. Dismayed yet not given to despair, Leeroy sheathes his sword and takes up his well-worn staff, assuming the role of thaumaturge, his most advanced class. He bids farewell to the rodents and worms and races to meet his companions, basking in the confident light of his spellcasting abilities.
The party members go their separate ways following a successful outing, and while following the river back to town Leeroy is suddenly taken by the urge to fish. He secures his staff to his back in a deft, practiced motion, and on the recoil pulls out his beloved fishing rod. The gladiator and thaumaturge are gone now, and all that remains is Leeroy the fisherman. Three shining trout! Not a bad haul.
Upon arriving home, Leeroy puts aside his fishing rod and takes up his trusty hammer, blacksmithery having ever been one of his passions. He knows, as does any adventurer, that preparation is the key to any battle, and so sets to working the dents out of his armor and sharpening the edge of his blade. It's all in a day's work.
This is but a mere sample of what players can expect from the Armoury. With flexibility of gameplay and effective use of time at its core, the system is designed with emphasis on not only the in-game lifestyles of characters, but those of the players themselves as well. The Armoury awaits you!
"Whither doth a man walk if another taketh the road from under his feet?
- Pandelion Brontard at the 14th Meeting of the Allied Council of Eorzean Nations
Guildleves, also referred to as just "leves," are small, rectangular plates made of stained crystal set into a frame of precious metal, each depicting a virtuous deed of one of Eorzea's patron saints, also known as 'guardians.' When issuing tasks or quests, guilds will often provide adventurers with these plates, allowing their bearers 'leave' to take whatever steps necessary to complete the jobs, including entry into normally restricted areas, hunting or harvesting on private lands, the confiscation of goods, even negotiations with those considered enemies of the city-states. Guildleves also grant use of aetheryte portals, ensuring quick travel about the region.
Upon assessing an adventurer's skills, a guild master will provide a selection of several different leves, taken from the guild's stock. After weighing risks against rewards, fame against fortune, adventurers may then select the leves that they feel best suit their needs.
Of course, there are no regulations stating that tasks must be completed alone. Adventurers are free to call on their companions to join them, as only one leve is required to take advantage of the benefits and privileges provided to its bearer. By coordinating the leves of multiple party members, adventurers can even plan grand campaigns built around several different quests.
Whether you have an hour or a whole day, are alone or with friends, seeking battle or bounty, guildleves give you the ability to forge your own adventures. The possibilities are endless!
They are a traditionally nomadic people who in former times claimed sole domination over Eorzea, their presence predating that of other races. Believing this prominence to be ordained by the gods, they came to develop an esteemed sense of honor and pride.
Their characteristically tall, slim physiques and elongated limbs are part of a successful adaptation to the land's various environments. Indeed, it is said that their highly sensitive ears can discern the squeak of of a field mouse at a distance of several malms.
The Elezen perceived the immigration of the Hyur as tantamount to invasion, and as a result the two share a past plagued by warfare. At present, however, they can be seen coexisting peacefully, the exception being the reclusive Duskwight Elezen.
During the Age of Endless Frost, as the seas turned to ice and passage over them became possible, Eorzea saw an influx of foreign fauna to her shores. This in turn brought the hunting tribes which subsisted upon them, the modern descendants of whom are today known as the Miqo'te.
Since then, the Miqo'te have diverged into two physically distinguishable groups - the diurnal Seekers of the Sun and the nocturnal Keepers of the Moon. Both groups share a superb olfactory sense and powerful leg musculature, results of a long evolution geared toward hunting and predation.
Comparatively few in number, they maintain an insular group mentality, tending to avoid contact with the other races. Many individuals lead isolated lifestyles, even when residing in the more populous cities.
The Roegadyn are a maritime people whose largest concentrations are found in the northern seas, by way of which they came to Eorzea.
They possess enormous, muscular builds and are known for the cultural emphasis they place on competition and unflinching courage, though tender, introspective individuals can also be found.
Roegadyn in and around the Limsa Lominsa area are typically seamen putting in at port, but many have also settled permanently, becoming mercenaries, bodyguards, or even pirates by trade. Far away, deep in the mountains of Ul'dah, live mountain clans of reclusive Roegadyn known as the Hellsguard, said to have mastered the magical arts.
The Lalafell were originally a group of agriculturalists inhabiting the fertile islands of the south seas. With the introduction of transmarine commerce, they soon found their way to Eorzea via trade routes. They are now one of the more populous races and are well established throughout the region, though they remain averse to cold climates.
The short, rotund build of the Lalafell belie an incredible agility, and their seemingly feeble legs are capable of carrying them long distances over any terrain. Many among them are also known for possessing highly developed and cunning intellects.
The Lalafell place a great deal of significance on familial bonds, but are by no means unfriendly to outsiders. This is evidenced by the fact that they continue to share prosperous relations with all the other races of Eorzea
Boasting the largest population in Eorzea, the Hyur came from neighboring continents and islands in three great migratory waves. With them they brought a sophisticated technology and complex ethos tempered by the breadth of the outside world. They rapidly became a driving force behind cultural progress, and are now widely attributed with spearheading advances in Eorzean culture.
One of the Hyur's strengths is in the staggering variety of languages and social institutions they exhibit. This is said to account for their firm conviction in individual freedoms, though it also results in a relative lack of solidarity and group cohesion.
Two distinct groups now exist among the Hyur - Highlanders, denizens of mountainous areas, and Midlanders, who reside in lower elevations. (perhaps the Highlanders live in Ishgard???)
So far, SE have only given us the description for one of the three city-states shown above; and that's the one for Limsa Lominsa.
"No man may tread upon me, for I am the sea."
- 77th Admiral of Limsa Lominsa, N'bolata Tyata
On the southern coast of the island of Vylbrand, under the shadow of ancient cliffs worn by the relentless onslaught of the Rhotano Sea, lies the maritime city-state of Limsa Lominsa. Said to be blessed by the goddess of navigation, Llymlaen, the city is spread out over countless tiny islands, each connected by tiny ivory bridges. It is this that has earned her the name the "Navigator's Veil" from traveling bards who have witnessed the city's beauty from afar.
Legend holds that Limsa Lominsa was founded shortly after the remnants of a giant armada fled from its homeland following a crushing defeat. Llymlaen is said to have taken pity on the plight of these brave sailors, and guided them to the shallows of a rocky bay where their ships were grounded upon the sharp rocks. With no home to return to, the sailors chose to settle in this newly-found land, and use the remnants of their vessels to begin construction of a city.
However, the sailors never forget their nautical backgrounds, and once a new fleet was in order, they would take to the waters again. It was only a matter of time before their influence spread and they ruled the five seas of Eorzea. Thus, the Limsan thalassocracy was born.
Remnants of this legend live on even today in the nation's ruling party, whose members still address their leader as Admiral.
While fishing and shipbuilding are prominent, a majority of the city's wealth comes from the shipping industry, with over half of the city's population being employed in logistics. To maintain shipping routes, the thalassocracy employs a powerful navy known as the Knights of the Barracuda, who patrol the Eorzean seas, ensuring safe passage for all those who do business with the nation.
However, even in the waters nearby, pirate bands run rampant, reaving and pillaging, leading neighboring nations to suspect that the Knights of the Barracuda and local bandits are in some way working together to profit off of unwary traders.
Ul'Dah: A desert city-state located in Eorzea. Somewhere in the mountains of Ul'dah territory live reclusive clans of Roegadyn known as the Hellsguard. These clans are said to have mastered the magical arts.
Ala Migho: The northern city of Ala Mhigo was the most powerful of the six city-states in Eorzea 15 years before the events of the game. When the forces of the mighty Garlean Empire launched an attack on Eorzea, Ala Mhigo fell to their overwhelming firepower and behemoth airships.
Ishgard: A bastion city-state atop the mountains of Eorzea
Gridania: A forest city-state located in Eorzea.
Stunning... when WHEN will we learn more of Gridania??? I can't wait to set up my Elezen Warrior (or Gladiator?) in that awesome forest! Looks a hundred times better than San'd'Oria
Note: All content, information and images were taken from the Final Fantasy XIV official flash site