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Forsaken Lover
06-09-2010, 07:44 PM
From long before I started FFXII, i heard tale of how "morally ambiguous and almost good" Vayne Solidor was. Much to my dismay, this did not appear to be the case when I played the game. He seemed a very typical power-hungry villain.

On a second playthrough of the game, I've been looking at the story with fresh eyes. You understand so much more in certain scenes when you know what comes after. To this end, I'm trying to find the "good guys" and "bad guys" of FF12. It's very much a perspective thing which is why i like it so much. Final Fantasy is not usually so grey when it comes to this.

Let's delve into it then. I will examine all the major players we see in the game.

Note: I've read a few older topics on here about this which is where I'll be getting the hearsay I bring up a few times.

The Occuria

No group or character fascinates me more than these ambiguous entities. Now, like most, I was appalled by their attitude towards Ashe. They basically told her to commit mass murder because they say so. Yet it does come back to what I mentioned earlier. A second run through the game makes you examine things more instead of being ruled by gut reactions.

The fact of the matter is, the Occuria are gods. Like it or not, they are making peace in Ivalice.

Garif Great-Chief: In ages past, the Gods made a gift of Nethicite to my people. But the manner of its use eluded us. Displeased by our failure, the Gods took back their stones. They chose instead to give them to a Hume King. Called the Dynast-King, he used the Nethicite’s power to bring peace to a troubled time.

Occuria: In times that are long passed away, we thought to save this Ivalice…and chose Raithwall the Dynast-King.

Fact is, they're attempting to do the same thing now. They are trying to save Ivalice from a horrific war.

Now, are their methods right? Probably not. There are many good Imperial people and destroying the entire Empire would kill them. Speaking of Good and Evil, I would say Larsa is the most "good" character in the game. So killing him along with the madmen who rule Archadia wouldn't be fair.

So they're obviously not pure good. But nor are they pure bad.

Raithwall

I see a lot of speculation on the Dynast-King. However, we must consider what is actually stated in the game before our own ideas.

Ashe: Though he is called the Dynast-King… Upon establishing the Alliance, he showed compassion for his people, and disdain for war. A philosophy passed on to his successors. One that would bring peace and prosperity for hundreds of years to follow.

The common theory among fans as I've read is that Raithwall achieved this piece by nuking everyone until they joined up.

In fact, Nethicite is often compared to nuclear weapons which is an apt comparison. Tell me, why do you think half the world isn't radioactive ash? Because while nukes can cause great destruction, they have power in not being used as well.

Simply by existing, weapons like nuclear bombs and nethicite can do many things. Raithwall just having the Nethicite provides two powerful reasons to join up:
1. To not be destroyed.
2. To gain the protection of the strongest weapon in Ivalice.

So you can see now he did not have to blow up everyone who disagreed with him to gain their favor.

You also have to realize these were god-given items. If a man appeared today and said 'God has chosen me to rule" and presented evidence, don't you think people would follow him? Gods do definitely exist in FFXII and so if Raithwall showed up with proof the gods themselves have chosen him, I would say it's a fair reason some might have joined up with him.

Now Final Fantasy 12 has a lot of realism to it; at least compared to other FFs. So could the old adage "history is written by the victors' apply here? Absolutely. Ashe and her family could have totally romanticized Raithwall and what he did. But sadly you have to go with the evidence you're presented. Conjecture is all well and good and there's no harm in some speculation but I prefer to have some actual canon evidence to my ideas.

Dr. Cid

Reddas: A Judge Magister there was… (clashing blades) 2 years past, he took the Midlight Shard and used it not knowing what he did…and Nabudis was blown away. Cid ordered this of him to learn the Nethicite’s true power.

Cid: The reigns of history back in the hands of man!

Cid is probably the best example of a Well-Intentioned Extremist (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WellIntentionedExtremist) in FF history. There is no denying the Occuria are not the best rulers given their desire for unnecessary death and destruction. Cid sincerely thought, as far as I can see, humanity would best be served ruling itself. I can sympathize but I don't agree. Whatever my own beliefs on humanity in fiction or real life however, I recognize Cid's sincerity in his belief and that he really did want to help the world. He did this through some fairly destructive methods but that's why he's an extremist.

Overall, I'd say he's about even with the Occuria in terms of Good and Evil.

Vayne Solidor

The man who got me interested in deciding who was good and bad and why.
Now I had sort of interpreted his intent just as others have.
He was doing it all for Larsa.

Cid: That so sweet a child could be your brother is hard to believe.

Vayne: Larsa is as he should be.

He could perform the reprehensible acts Larsa should not be exposed to. That way Larsa could rule in peace.

Sadly, this idea was shot in the foot for good near the end.

Vayne: Gabranth, you will defend my brother. He will have much need in the hell to follow.

Venat: For your ascendance, Vayne, I offer prayer. May you attain all that which is your due.

[There was a brief pause as Vayne shows a slight grin on his face.]

Vayne: Attain it I shall.
For too long have my deeds gone unrewarded.

Vayne was just power-hungry. He wanted to leave a mark on history and become the new Dynast-King. While Cid committed the acts he did out of a belief in helping humanity, Vayne seemed motivated solely by personal ambition for glory.

As such, I rate him as the most evil character in the game. Well of the major characters.

Comparison Between Raithwall and Vayne

Many seem to like doing this. Using the speculation about Raithwall, people run with it and say he and Vayne are no different.

Except...they are. Whether Raithwall obliterated everyone who argued with him or not, he and Vayne still operated in very different times.

Cid: Bah, to hell with the Occuria and her stones! What good a power that cannot be harnessed? Baubles best-suited for study, no more.

Vayne: Heh! We conquered two kingdoms, that you might study these "baubles".

In contrast with Raithwall bringing peace with Nethicite, Vayne started two wars and was going to start a third with it.

Conclusion

Isn't it telling that the first thing humans do when they manufacture nethicite is to destroy, kill and maim?

A Kiltia asks after Mt. Bur-omice is attacked and before you battle Bergan "have the Empire no fear of the gods?!" Or something to that effect.

It's clear they don't. With no fear of the gods and the ability to make new and deadlier weapons on their own,humans perpetrate new horrific massacres.

So, is the Occuria rule better than that? I'd say yes myself.

When it's all said and done, I apply my Good and Evil Scale. I use it for all Final Fantasy's.

10 is pure good and -10 is pure evil.
Basch and Larsa score 9 or maybe even 10. They demonstrate complete selflessness and a desire to help preserve lives.

Gabranth is a 0 as he is so conflicted and wrought with repressed anger and self-loathing that he can't really be good or evil.

Cid, the Occuria and Raithwall are maybe -3s. They've committed horrific acts but for noble reasons.

Vayne is a -6. Thousands died because he wanted to be famous and nothing more.

If you're curious, The Emperor of FF2 is the only -10 on my scale. Vayne is less evil than him, Kuja, Exdeath etc. but he's more evil than FFIX Garland or Seymour.

So...those are my thoughts. What say you?

YTDN
06-09-2010, 08:24 PM
The Occuria are massive dicks. No question. They want to destroy an entire empire, most of whose citizens are okay guys, because of the ambitions of, at most, three people. Vayne may have wanted to conquer the world, but he didn't want to kill everyone in Dalmasca and Rozarria, only those who opposed him. Also, unlike the Occuria, he never emotionally manipulated anyone, and although that doesn't seem evil compared to his megalomania, on a personal level it puts him higher than the Occuria on my list. Sure, he wanted to take over the world, but at least he was polite about it.

Raithwall I'd put higher on the 'evil' list than you did, because you can't really scare people with magical nukes without actually showing them off. Also, judging from what the Occuria asked Ashe to do, I'd imagine they asked Raithwall something similar and he actually went through with it.

I guess if I were to put them in order of Evil, I'd put Cid up top at 'least evil', followed by Vayne, then Raithwall, then the Occuria. But that's jsut my opinion.

But yeah, Larsa probably was the most 'good' character in the game, the others either having their vices or being loyal to those with said vices.

Forsaken Lover
06-09-2010, 08:38 PM
Well yeah I understand it's perfectly possible they ordered Raithwall to nuke the opposition but you have to factor in the very different circumstances.

It's telling, to me at least, that the first thing the Occuria tell Ashe to do with the Nethicite is to "destroy Venat." Notice how they fly into a rage about Venat and the manufactured nethicite. Isn't it thus plausible that they only wanted the Empire completely destroyed in order to erase Venat's influence?

There would be no need for such extremes in Raithwall's time.

YTDN
06-09-2010, 09:03 PM
Well yeah I understand it's perfectly possible they ordered Raithwall to nuke the opposition but you have to factor in the very different circumstances.

It's telling, to me at least, that the first thing the Occuria tell Ashe to do with the Nethicite is to "destroy Venat." Notice how they fly into a rage about Venat and the manufactured nethicite. Isn't it thus plausible that they only wanted the Empire completely destroyed in order to erase Venat's influence?

There would be no need for such extremes in Raithwall's time.

Only? They try to manipulate a very screwed up young woman into committing genocide. That's not very 'only' to me.

And we don't know enough about Raithwalls time to make any judgements. Ashe's time could be described as 'troubled' as well, and considering how they seem to equate Ashe's revenge against the Empire with what they asked Raithwall to do, I'd make a fair bet that Raithwall did exactly what Ashe failed to do. Really, we don't have enough detail, so whether or not Raithwall and the Occuria were 'evil' depends entirely on your interpretation. Personally, I judge the Occuria as 'evil', because of their flippant disregard for human life and general holier-than-thou attitude.

Forsaken Lover
06-09-2010, 09:13 PM
Except that a disregard for human life and greater-than-thou attitude applies to Vayne as well. He wants to be a Dynast-King at the cost of thousands of lives in a war that is completely unnecessary.

All the death and suffering in the game is Vayne's and Venat's fault, that's make sure that's understood. Just visit Mt. Bur-Omisace. See how the people there are trying desperately to find some peace away from the Hell Vayne has unleashed.

Then Hell is brought to them by Vayne and Venat. Isn't it telling that Judge Bergan is Vayne's biggest fan?

YTDN
06-09-2010, 09:38 PM
Except that a disregard for human life and greater-than-thou attitude applies to Vayne as well. He wants to be a Dynast-King at the cost of thousands of lives in a war that is completely unnecessary.

All the death and suffering in the game is Vayne's and Venat's fault, that's make sure that's understood. Just visit Mt. Bur-Omisace. See how the people there are trying desperately to find some peace away from the Hell Vayne has unleashed.

Then Hell is brought to them by Vayne and Venat. Isn't it telling that Judge Bergan is Vayne's biggest fan?

Venat's fault maybe. It's established that Venat possessed Bergan and encouraged him to slaughter the population of Bur-Omisace becasue he really hates organised religion. As a rule, the Occuria all seem to be high-and-mighty gits.

Remember, at no point did I say that Vayne wasn't evil, because face it, he's an ambitious guy who doesn't really care about how many corpses he has to walk over to become Emperor. Keyword there, he doesn't care. Yes, he manipulated the Resistance and Rozarria into starting a war. Yes, he deliberately ignored the idea of compromise so he could wipe out the Resistance. And yes, if the party hadn't stopped him, Rabanastre would have got wrecked in the crossfire. But that's the thing. Vayne was never out to destroy Dalmasca. The only things he was out to destroy were those who opposed him, a, well, if some innocent bystanders get killed as well, that's a shame but it's nothing to cry about. The point is that those people only died because of negligence, not because Vayne was activelt out to kill them. the Occuria on the other hand want Ashe to destroy the entire Empire, including the innocent civilians.

Basically, both Vayne and the Occuria were dicks. But the Occuria were bigger dicks.

Forsaken Lover
06-09-2010, 09:54 PM
Well that's a fair enough point.

Though I bet the Occuria are a bit trigger happy because of their past. They ruled the world at one time it seems and created the Espers to help. Only the Espers were arrogant SOBs and tried to take over.

It's possible hey view the whole situation with humans as something similar.

But I think we've established we simply have differen tideas and that's a good thing. i made this topic to hear different ideas. I'm glad I got some nice responses from someone so soon. :) I was nervous this topic would die.

YTDN
06-09-2010, 10:06 PM
Well that's a fair enough point.

Though I bet the Occuria are a bit trigger happy because of their past. They ruled the world at one time it seems and created the Espers to help. Only the Espers were arrogant SOBs and tried to take over.

It's possible hey view the whole situation with humans as something similar.

But I think we've established we simply have differen tideas and that's a good thing. i made this topic to hear different ideas. I'm glad I got some nice responses from someone so soon. :) I was nervous this topic would die.

No problem. I personally like this sort of discussion, because the theme of 'good people doing bad things and bad people doing good things' was a strong theme in FFXII, although not strong enough. Personally, judging from previous Final Fantasies, the Occuria seem more like the big bad you'd fight at the end who either want to be God or want to kill everything (or both), while Vayne seems more like the 'Seymour' of FFXII. At least, that was the idea I got. Still, opinons are opinions are opinions, and it's better that this doesn't become one of those endless back-and-forth discussions that get nowhere.

PeneloRatsbane
06-10-2010, 12:33 AM
I think the ambiguity lies more heavily with Ashe, there were times when I genuinely thought she might go down a bad path. But Vayne is a tricky one as well

Shin Gouken
06-10-2010, 02:03 PM
Well that provided an interesting read. I'm like the concept of heroes doing bad things and villains doing good things. Right now i'm liking heroes because Peter is the superman-type heroe who would never do harm to anyone and wants to save the world - but in the first three seasons he is the one who nearly destroys the world, and Sylar is the villain but his motives are forever changing, all he wants is to aquire new powers because it's like a drug to him but by doing so, alot of the time he's actually killing dangerous people and such is making the world a safer place. Peter can easily be perceived as the villain despite his kind heart, and Sylar can easily be perceived as the heroe despite his cruelty.

I didn't at all question Vaynes motives, it seemed he was power hungry and would do anything to aquire power. His love for Larsa wasn't unusual, many villains are still able to love despite whatever motives or intentions they have. I didn't consider him on a Kefka scale (destroying things simply for fun) he justs wants to have ultimate power which isn't uncommon for villians.

The Occuria are willing to destroy thousands of lives to maintain their control over humans which is similar to vayne. Same agenda different motives.

Those were my thoughts when playing this game

YTDN
06-10-2010, 04:45 PM
I think the ambiguity lies more heavily with Ashe, there were times when I genuinely thought she might go down a bad path. But Vayne is a tricky one as well

Oh yeah. They leave you hanging right up until the top of the Pharos on whether Ashe is actually going use the Nethicite to destroy the Empire. I would have liked more conflict in the main party about it- Basch seems to disagree but will side with the Princess in the end, Balthier disagrees but is too polite to say much, Penelo and Vaan both can see where she's coming from but disagree, however neither is confident enough to say anything, and Fran... well, Fran disagrees absolutely and hammers the point home to Ashe from the second she realizes what Ashe wants to do. I really wanted to see more of this, since the main party of FFXII lacked conflict.

PeneloRatsbane
06-11-2010, 12:04 AM
It could have got really messy.
Basch would have stood by Ashe whatever she choose, Balthier and Fran would have challenged them and a fight would have broken out and Vaan and Penelo would be stuck in the middle and probably had to have calmed it down.
That would have been pretty awesome

Persephone Stephanie
06-16-2010, 06:11 AM
I find Vayne and Larsa's relationship very interesting and endearing. Even though Vayne was power hungry and apathetic to the woes of the general populace, I really do believe he wanted to pave a way for Larsa to rule in peace. That's his conflict - his own desire for power is opposed/balanced by his desire to see Larsa's hands kept free of blood. And though he succeeded in protecting Larsa's innocence, his own megalomania and ambition got the best of him in the end.

The moment when Larsa draws his sword at Vayne gave me chills...