FFXIV: 3.X Story and Scions (Spoilers)

So, as the patch has been out over a week, it’s finally time for me to talk about the 3.5 story. There will be spoilers… for pretty much all of 3.0 as I want to think out loud about story things in general.

Since Heavensward launched and we started to gather the Scions again, I got the feeling that the story team was making some choices in the main characters they would keep going forward. What do I mean by this?

scionsWell, a number of main characters, including the Scions, were created back during the 1.0 era of the game. Probably by a different set of writers and character designers — I don’t know. I’m not sure how the writing and design team changed between 1.0 and 2.0. But suffice to say, any new writers coming into ARR were going to write about characters whom they didn’t create.

Maybe it was a bit like a fanfic in a way. I’m sure some of these writers were fans of the original characters, but they needed to take ownership of them for the characters to fully be theirs. I think as the team worked through 2.0, they were forming attachments, trying to walk a line between holding on to original canon and continuity for the 1.0 players, and figuring out who they wanted the Scions to be in the future.

So, part of the 2.0 ending that scattered the Scions was done for shock and story purpose. But I also wonder if it was a way they could begin to restructure these characters as their own.

Taking Ownership as a Writer

Many people joke about how Tataru is making new clothes for the Scions as they return to the story, but I see this as something very important as a writer. I sensed this was not just the writers giving established characters a new look for an expansion, but also a way of taking ownership over them.

Notice that when characters like Y’shtola and Thancred are reintroduced, it’s not just with new clothes, but slightly different skills and a deepened sense of individual internal turmoil. Or, the characters have grown into something completely new, such as Alisaie. We even got to see Urianger’s face, and a new look for him for a little while!


Culling the Ranks

It didn’t surprise me when they started removing some of the Scions, even the ones that got a slightly new look or station within the plot. They had to do it delicately, and make it seem like a big deal send off. Afterall, they are removing characters that the players have formed attachments to over many years.

The first character they removed from the picture was Minfilia. This makes sense because she’s sometimes viewed by the community as a rather do-nothing character. I mean, she is the leader, and I’m sure she does office stuff all day, but to players, she’s just the one calling them for fetch quests on their linkpearl.

In Heavensward, they “elevated” her station by fusing her with Hydaelyn, which was always a rather uncomfortable story point to me. But now that I’ve seen their Warrior of Darkness scenario play out, it sorta makes sense what they were setting up.


I do question, though, with the brevity of the WoD storyline, was it intended to be a plot device just to shed the story of Minfilia by making it a huge, dramatic exit for her? I guess we did get to know a bit more about the balance of the universe through it, but it all happened so fast, and felt a tad contrived.

Anyhow, the outcome of the story arc is that Minfilia goes to this alternate dimension with the WoD group in order to help them regain balance in their world. Of course, she won’t be able to return to Eorzea. So, she doesn’t die, but she’s effectively removed from the future story (unless we travel to that dimension, which is now a possibility).

Now, they’ve also exited Papalymo with patch 3.5 in a move that was already guessed by the lore-hounds the moment he got his hands on Tupsimati. Of course, they needed to make sure he went out with a bang, thus the whole re-creation of Louoisoix’s spell at the Wall and all that.


So what’s the reason behind removing Papalymo from the story?

Did he just not serve a higher purpose anymore? Was it for shock value, or the writers flexing their muscles showing that “no one is safe” (they better not pull another Nanamo)? Did he actually hold back Yda’s character development, especially with all the foreshadowing and guesswork being done about that right now? Did they just not know how to make his character their own through re-design?

Or maybe a little bit of all these things.

Character Balance

Now, despite me musing about this topic out loud, I’m in no way chiding the writers for their choice to kill off long-term characters. They’re the only ones who have the foresight as to where the story is going. And while some of this seems like drama for drama sake, a story has to have drama to be interesting.

If they felt like certain characters were no longer useful to keep around, maybe the best thing they can do is find a meaningful way to remove them from the story. It’s better than just leaving them on the sidelines forgotten by all but those most dedicated to the lore.

We’ve had no shortage of new characters introduced through the years. And writers have to be very careful not to let the number get too large and too scattered because someone always gets lost along the way.

I guess the biggest question now is whether the writers have culled all the characters needed on the approach to Stormblood. We all have a pretty good guess of what may be in store for Yda’s character transformation… perhaps the loss of Papalymo is a catalyst for this?

What do you think?

PS – Please quit re-using Nidhogg’s eyes as a plot crutch. We killed him already. That should be done and over with. 

It’s just…. Sloppeh.



  1. I did not like the Papalymo plot development at all. It wasn’t because they killed him off. It is because they keep reusing the whole noble sacrifice thing in ridiculous and absurd ways. Basically just killing characters to get the feels. It is starting to feel cheap and amateurish. Ysayle’s death was pointless and stupid as she still didn’t stop the Garleans. All she needed to do was distract them and escape. Moenbryda was also nonsensical.

    Back to Papalymo. His death was also pointless. It didn’t stop the primal manifestation and as we have seen from the 3.5 trailer, we will need to face it anyway. A better way: let the primal slowly grow while we go away to ponder options (they could have Nero appear here to introduce the omega idea). Or make up a weaker sealing spell which will only be temporary until you figure out how to stop it. Have Papalymo die by defending Yda from the first Griffin attack. I suppose in a similar way to Haurchefant. Not this “time to sacrifice for my ideals” theme. It is now overused, forced, contrived and annoying.

    There is even more of this nonsense in the Triad story. However, I am not sure if you have done Zhurvan yet so I will say no more. I also did not enjoy the Hildebrandt story. It has been mediocre for 3.0. The Beast tribe quest was far better.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! I agree that some of the previous deaths seem throw-away, especially in the thought that their death just stalled something in the plot, but didn’t actually stop something from happening. Anytime characters start spouting, “I must do this, it’s the only way! Don’t try to stop me!” there’s almost always other options we could have tried.

      That’s part of why I feel like Papalymo has been on the chopping block for a while. Just like Minfilia and Ysayle.

      I had a feeling that the writers just didn’t have anything else to do story-wise with Ysayle (she was missing from a pretty good chunk of the story for a while), so they tried to make her go out with a bang. Could they have done so much more with her than that – yes, yes I think so. There was a lot of potential for growth between her and the dragons and Estinien that would have been great to explore… but it would have taken the focus away from the story the writers obviously wanted to tell. This may be a case of writers getting very tunnel vision and not seeing all the potential around them.

      Ysayle ran her course and was no longer useful to the plot, so they sunsetted her in what they tried to make a meaningful and grandiose way. Whether it felt like that to the player is another question.

      As you noted, I’m seeing this as a pattern for a number of characters as we go along. The huge noble sacrifice thing is just a way for the writers to feel like killing off a character has some sort of meaning.

      1. I agree. Yes I see why they want to kill off some characters. You do not want the cast to get too bloated anyway. I just wonder why they just pursue the same route – noble sacrifice I mean. Sometimes death can be shit just happens lol.

  2. my question is two fold, or rather my reply is, With Papalymo “Gone” (personally i cant make a judgement call til 3.5 part 2.) but i have long thought of Papalymo as a Mentor figure for Yda, and as such in some stories the mentor is needed to fall. That said if he is gone for good i will miss him, he was and is my favorite scion.

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