Now that Balias Swale is done, we move full-time into our second play-session, and thus our second batch of Journals. Journal entries from our second session span from the end of Balias Swale to the start of Chapter 4.
I should probably discuss our character-building plans at this point. On the combat Job side of things, we planned to bring three characters to the three major “end point” classes in the combat branch. To repeat: Ramza would become a Ninja, Arthur would become a Dragoon, and Meryell would become the female character-exclusive Dancer. Because these classes were dependent on every other combat class, we would get a tour of all the other Jobs in the process. Unfortunately, we made an oversight that had me laughing at… well, mostly myself for overlooking it: it turned out that Meryell was level 7, which was almost half the party average! Even Agrias’ two recruit knights were better off than her, and we hadn’t touched them since the prologue! Combined with Meryell’s crap Bravery, which I mentioned earlier, this meant that Meryell was basically terrible at everything we put her to, and after a while I think we had given up on her ever serving a critical role in the party, least of all as a Dancer.
As for the spellcasting side of things, we left Josephine to drill away at the Black Mage job, hoping to acquire first Flare and later Thundaja (indeed, she already had the 900 points she needed for Thundaja, but we held off getting Thundaja in favour of Flare at 1000), and we also hoped to get the passive skill Arcane Strength… though by the time we had it, we no longer wanted it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Meanwhile, we planned that our current Orator would eventually become a Bard, the male character-only caster class, which would require he travel the Black Magick side of the magick-user tree as well, but there would be some hiccups as we tried to make that work. We also eventually learned the poor guy’s name: “Wilhelm.” …Urm… pardon me, that should be: “Wilham,” and please continue to pardon us as we continue to call you “Wilhelm” for the rest of the game. Sorry buddy, we’re really trying here!
At the outset, we had no plans on unlocking the other magickal end-class, the Arithmatician. We also had basically no plans of unlocking Dark Knight, Mime or Onion Knight, the game’s “sort-of-hidden” classes, since they would require either near-perfect coverage of the combat classes (Dark Knight), a mixed set of combat and magick skills (Mime), or mastering nearly everything and gaining almost nothing, because this final classes’ equipment is only accessible via multiplayer and we can’t play that (Onion Knight)! Still, we kept using Dark Knight as a vague guideline for Ramza once he started to cap off certain jobs, since you never know…
As we approached the gallows, we were asked to split the party into two flanks, which I’m starting to learn is never a good sign. As a matter of fact, I later learned that the battle at Golgallada Gallows is considered among the hardest in the game! Personally, I didn’t see it, but I may have gotten quite lucky. During my first attempt, I lost rather quickly, but during my second attempt, we stomped the enemy so hard that we had time to laze around and wait for everyone to bleed out and give us skills – and remember, a third of the party were still trapped in terrible transitional jobs like Thief and Archer! Maybe we were overlevelled at this point, or maybe I lucked out. I’ll try to be thorough and allow you to decide for yourself.
Battle 20: Golgallada Gallows
“It’s a good thing we’re definitely not walking into a trap,” we imagined Ramza saying as he went to the gallows with no sense of irony. The plot begins with Ovelia on the gallows and Gaffgarion in a robe, pretending to be an executioner, his signature moustache still visible for all the world to see. He was taunting Ovelia, and I joked that he and she had been through this four or five times already, each time hoping that Ramza would finally show up during the middle of this fake execution, definitely this one. Finally Ramza showed, two party members at the gate and the remaining three somehow already inside the walls. Good for Ramza, but Gaffgarion was better: not only did he have more troops, but even the princess was a stand-in: an archer who used her high position to take shots at the party! Kyle notes that he was more impressed by the fact that they found an Archer that looked like the Princess. “Hey Agrias, the princess was a brunette, right?”
During the early battle, Gaffgarion identifies Ramza as a Beoulve in front of Agrias, though she doesn’t mind at this point. Fun fact about this that I learned from a walkthrough: from the start of Chapter 2 to right this moment, should you go to the game’s Chronicle section, Ramza will be identified as “Ramza Lugria,” his mother’s last name, instead of Ramza Beoulve. After this point, the chronicle reverts.
After that fun fact, Gaffgarion killed us in about three turns, ending my first attempt. I had left Josephine exposed to enemy Knights, so she died almost instantly. At that point, Gaffgarion just turned around and engaged my secondary flank rather than my main, and everything was shot.
By all rights, Kyle should have taken on the gallows at this point, but he was attacked by yet a random encounter back in Ballias Swale against a number of Mindflayer relatives. This turned into an interesting if somewhat comical fight for a small island in the middle of the river, since no one but the enemy Chocobos could cross the river, but it will suffice to say that Kyle won. Using the AP he won from the fight, Kyle bought Ramza the Archer’s Bane ability (which dodges incoming arrows) to replace his dusty Counter Tackle. That left me back in charge of the gallows, which went as follows.
Gaffgarion opened the battle by attacking Josephine, which I took for a horrible omen, only for things to turn straight around when Arthur won a 64% Steal Heart on the gallows Archer, Charming her to our side. Charmed characters act as CPU controlled guests, so she shot a Knight and went to reinforce our own flank without my permission, inadvertently forcing me to cover her because I didn’t want to lose her all at once. I even considered keeping her for a while before it proved more advantageous to electrocute her when we took out Gaffgarion with Thundaga. Gaffgarion teleported from the battle.
At this point, the battle revolved around two major strong points: the gallows, held primarily by Knights and contested by Arthur and Agrias, and the walls, guarded by Time Mages, which was about to be assailed by Ramza’s main force. The Time Mages had foolishly split up along the wall during the early action, so we were able to take them out one at a time, using our Orator and Black Mage to drop some pain on the gallows as we went across. At this point, all that was left was to take out the enemy survivors on the far side of the wall with a two-pronged assault, leaving one wounded Knight from the gallows battle to skulk in a corner while we drank out of his friends’ souls like coconuts. We’re the heroes.
Our post-game crystal bounty included the Hi-Potion skill for Wilham (who was still our primary Item user, so not bad), and Aim +7 from the Archer skill tree for Agrias (high nominal value, but useless on someone who would always be using a sword!). We lost the footage of the end of the battle (we forgot to plug the PSP into an outlet, meaning it went to sleep and the recording program lost its signal and stopped), but not to worry, it was just us picking up crystals, and the rest of the battle was thankfully preserved.
After the battle, Ramza was thankfully a Level 4 Archer, meeting the pre-requisite for Ninja, which meant we could finally abandon the useless job for the almost but not quite equally useless Thief job. We grabbed him Concentration just for kicks (it was a passive ability we would never dare equip over JP Boost) and then punted him over to the new job. Wilham, meanwhile, used carry-over points to pick up Move +1 from Squire, and Agrias finally learned JP Boost. Lastly, Josephine finally picked up Flare, and maybe just in time, too.
After the battle, we got another cutscene (also lost thanks to our power issues). This scene featured Ovelia still in prison at Lionel. It turned out that Jerkface was playing guard to her, seemingly loyal to the Cardinal. But not all loyal: he was about to blab some major secrets when suddenly the Cardinal made an inopportune appearance, along with a guest. The guest was the knight who had paid to have us killed at the start of Chapter 2, and we learned his name was Folmarv.
After some introductory conversation, Delacroix and Folmarv told Ovelia that she wasn’t actually the Princess Ovelia at all: she was a double, somehow planted in place of the original Ovelia after the original Ovelia died at an extremely young age. The particulars weren’t very clear. The conspirators seemed to have arranged this swap, always planning to somehow take control of Ovelia and make her queen to elevate their own power, a promise they present to her now. The chief threat to their plans is the fact that the Queen had somehow conceived the young Prince Orinus out of nowhere a few years ago. They added that Orinus probably wasn’t the son of the king (whether or not this is true is unclear), and in a simply… delightful touch, they insisted on acting like the Queen had only been able to find a new paramour because her brother, Duke Larg, had found one for her. You’re all just so such a charmer, you know that FFT? The conspirators asked for Ovelia’s cooperation in their attempted coup, but she did not answer. They left her to stew in it, and notably, Folmarv had to pry Jerkface away from Ovelia on the way out. Kyle and I joking that he was just too eager to spill more secrets. In hindsight, that was probably true!
(Ed. Weird fact here. Beyond incentivizing Ovelia to join the conspiracy, this revelation about Ovelia being a double, and the other about Orinus’ parentage? Completely. Irrelevant. It never comes up again for either of them.)
Meanwhile on the other side of the continent, our old friend Wiegraf was at the scene of his sister’s death, far to the north, mourning at a grave he had prepared for her. I later learned that this scene was new to the remake. Wiegraf swore revenge on Ramza. There, he was confronted by another, unnamed conspirator, whom I don’t believe we’ve seen since (at the time of writing), though he was wearing a hooded cloak to keep out of the rain, so it may be that he removed it later and I just didn’t recognize him (Ed. turns out that that’s what he wears all the time!). The conspirator announced that his conspiracy was trying to remove the Ivalician nobility just the same as Wiegraf was doing with the Corpse Brigade, and he offers to recruit Wiegraf, reminding him that he certainly can’t accomplish his goal alone.
I feel like the plot has really picked up since Ramza stopped being an idiot, and this conspiracy is a nice touch. On the flip-side, it’s hilarious to me how everyone else is in the conspiracy because of serious societal problems, whereas Wiegraf, who was suffering under the boot of those social problems more than anyone else in the conspiracy, only became a member because Ramza accidentally killed his sister instead of knocking her out a second time.
Battle 21: Lionel Castle Gate
At this point in the plot, we had no choice but to assail the Lionel Castle Gate, knowing we would be in to a fight. In an example of resource recycling, the southern postern gate was identical to the northern gate we had used to enter Lionel a few posts ago. The party did fairly well: Ramza had somehow scaled the wall or the hill to one side, and was aiming to open the gate, only for Gaffgarion to appear and reveal that he had been spotted. Gaffgarion appeared on the Lionel side of the gate to deal with Ramza solo, while the rest of his force surrounded our own on the outside. Most unfortunately of all, you might remember that Ramza… was a Thief.
Kyle dealt with this fight. I’ve got to say: it’s an incredibly unfair fight! And I’m not just talking about the difficulty and our poor choice of Job, I’m referring to the fact that you can actually unlock the gate just like Ramza was planning, but as far as I can tell, the game gives you no indication that this is possible, or even how to do it! Oh, sure, the switch is visible, but since when has the environment in FFT been interactive? Writing from the end of the session, we have yet to see it be interactive again, either! (Ed. Only one more map uses interactive elements in the entire game!) Thankfully Kyle knew about it already!
Gaffgarion’s force included a large number of Knights, including one Knight/Geomancer, and also a Summoner. Things went very poorly, forcing Kyle to sprint for the switch and then to dangle Wilham as human bait just to keep Ramza alive. This may not have been the ideal choice of bait, bearing in mind that Wilham is our only Item user, meaning we only had Arthur’s Monk skills to revive him. Wilham’s life put the battle on a timer, but Kyle seized the board so thoroughly that we got another chance to raid the enemy’s crystals after they had been wiped out, as the only survivor was a wounded Knight/Geomancer who had gone to hide in the moat, and pelted us with useless magick. Delightfully, after Gaffgarion died, he really did die, ending a long and obnoxious plot thread.
The crystals we raided from our enemies gave Arthur the Archer skill Aim +7, same as Agrias, and gave Agrias the Antidote skill as well, for all the good that will do. However, there was no chance to adjust our abilities outside of battle, as not only does this battle run directly into the next, but the WotL version added a brand new battle and story segment between the two!
Battle 21a: Zerichele Falls
We cut back to the Zerichele Falls, where we discovered that Jerkface and Ovelia had already left Lionel and were headed north! This was a fairly big reveal to move ahead to a bonus mission like this! They were headed to the city of Zeltennia, although the game didn’t explain why quite yet. As they attempted to cross the falls a second time, they were once again attacked by the Order of the Northern Sky. This battle left us in charge of Jerkface while Ovelia operated on her own AI. Our opponents: a mostly underwhelming trio of one Archer, a Knight and a Black Mage. The battle was mostly here for narrative purposes rather than challenge. I did the battle, if only to adhere to our rule of one battle per person, to help me keep track of who was playing at which point during the video.
Once we had returned to our regular party, Kyle warned me about the upcoming battle. As it happened, he had mis-remembered things, but a major battle was still coming, so it was probably for the best that we changed Ramza back to Monk for the duration, and even gave Ramza his Equip Heavy Armour ability to increase his defence and HP (armour is one of your major sources of HP in FFT). Kyle also gave him Aurablast from the Monk list and Rush from the Mettle list, just in case.