A Brief History of Ivalice - Part Two

Last week, I made a concerted effort to wrap my head around the ever-changing geography of Ivalice. The conclusion was that, well, there wasn't really one. The maps are deliberately inconsistent and the information in the public domain is scarce. While many fans have tried to fit the maps of each Ivalice Alliance title together, only the FFXII, FFXII: Revenant Wings and overlaying Ivalice map fit together properly which is cause for much heated fan speculation as I found when researching forums for other people's theories.

Thankfully, the Ivalice timeline (barring some descrepancies) is a lot more consistent. Recurring characters are fairly common and references to particular deities (Occuria, Faram, Ajora etc) and historical events are either obviously thrust upon you or subtly referenced to throughout the series.

For me, the main point of interest is the Great Cataclysm which took place sometime between the Age of Technology (FFXII, Revenant Wings etc) and the Age of Ajora (about 1200 years before Final Fantasy Tactics and the War of the Lions). Bearing in mind that FFXII and FFTA: Grimoire of the Rift feature Moogles, Viera, Bangaa and numerous other minor races whereas Tactics does not, it's safe to assume that this Cataclysm was pretty darn cataclysmic, wiping at least the Moogles off the face of the planet and dispensing with numerous landmarks.

It could also explain the Ivalice peninsula which appears to border Ordallia (or Ordalia) in Final Fantasy Tactics but doesn't fit into any existing map of Ivalice seen previously in the timeline. It's not unlike a Final Fantasy game to throw in a new continent or dramatically alter a landscape to suit some kind of dramatic story arc as we saw in Final Fantasy VI and indeed Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings.

The extinction of whole races though, this suggests not only a massive geological disaster but also some kind of cull or disease. However, with Final Fantasy Tactics taking place on a peninsula, it's plausible that the other races simply migrated to other areas of the world. All that's for certain is that Moogles are definitely extinct and that could point to a severe case of Moogleitus. Kupo.

On the other hand there's the strong theological theme that runs through the entire series, and a genocidal crusade isn't out of the question but this is never referred to in any of the games. Lending weight perhaps to this theory though is the rise of Ajora (posessed by the Lucavi, Ultima in Final Fantasy Tactics) who is a Jesus-like relgious figure hung by Pharist priests (Pharism being the pre-existing theological condition) as he prophesised the coming of Paradise.

Upon his death an Earthquake wiped Ydora, the centre of the Pharist regime, off the map prompting speculation amongst the people that Ajora was indeed a child of the gods and the disaster was an act of their will. So rose a new religious force in Ivalice, the Church of Glabados who glorified 'Saint' Ajora Glabados as their Messiah. Of course, he was corrupt, as was the religion he spawned as we discover in Final Fantasy Tactics but if indeed Ultima and other Espers/Lucavi/Eidolons were involved in that disaster (Titan and Leviathan could serve up a tasty tremor/tsunami combo) then perhaps a joint effort from the whole Pantheon could have caused the bigger, more cataclysmic cataclysm referred to as the Great Cataclysm of which I speak.

The way the Cataclysm is described and how the time before is referred to as the Golden Age, it reminds me almost of a reverse RIFTS timeline from the old Palladium Games pen and paper RPG. The modern world in RIFTS was always described as the Golden Age and then came the Rifts drastically changing the world's landscape, bringing back lost continents like Atlantis and introducing numerous new races to Earth. Given the series' recurring references to the Grimoire of the Rift which allowed Balthier to time travel and Marche to visit a 'dreamworld', another theory could be magically induced tears in space-time which cut off parts of the world and drew a whole race into another dimension.

Wild speculation. The fact of the matter is, we just don't know and it's up to Square Enix to release a game which fills in these gaps for us. Potentially, it's an exciting premise for a new game. Exciting for me.

If you're into a bit of further reading, since this is supposed to be a brief history, each independent title in the series has had it's own Ultimania. By using these and in-game information there's a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the timeline over at Final Fantasy Wikia.

This was a bit longer than I was going for, so I'll leave the characters until next week I think. Check out the timeline those guys have pieced together though as it helps you to see where some of the real-world influences have been drawn from.

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