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You Reap What You Sow: A Mythological Evaluation of Remaining Fantasy XIV’s Reaper


Warning: Spoilers for Remaining Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

Earlier than even beginning my Remaining Fantasy XIV: Endwalker MSQ expertise, I had to deal with some disappointments about patch 6.0. As a lot as I wished to, I couldn’t deliver myself to love the brand new adjustments to my foremost job, Monk. As you’ll be able to in all probability inform from the headline of this text, I’m not about to make use of the subsequent thousand phrases to complain about Monk, although: I’ve already made my peace with that (on the time of publishing, they’ve mounted a number of of my points with it). My character has put down the gloves and picked up a scythe.

Like many others, I selected to degree the brand new Reaper job earlier than finishing the Endwalker foremost situation quests, which undoubtedly framed my perspective on Endwalker as a complete. I might listing numerous facets of Endwalker’s foremost narrative that personally related with me or dissect the way in which it brings collectively its themes of looking for which means in a meaningless world splendidly. Nonetheless, once I determined to dedicate this piece to the sport, the factor I felt I might most passionately write about was what I’ve spent probably the most time with: the Reaper job. My ideas on Remaining Fantasy XIV’s Reaper really feel notably entangled with my understanding of Endwalker as a complete, anchoring my understanding of this sweeping conclusion to a decade-long saga to the Reaper. This determine in the end represents a variety of the identical concepts that Endwalker approaches: endings, searches for which means and the inevitability of change.

The Warrior of Light wearing Reaper attire.
That is one among my character’s three Reaper seems.

With the Reaper job, Remaining Fantasy XIV takes a broad swing at remodeling our understanding of a (Grim) Reaper right into a enjoyable class with a novel gameplay type. Trying carefully on the particulars that make up the Reaper, it’s additionally an fascinating case examine within the methods video games reinterpret mythology into aesthetic and gameplay options, which in flip contribute to the wealthy “mythology” of the title in query. In each gameplay and narrative, Remaining Fantasy XIV gives a dynamic and sometimes flawed reimagining of the Reaper, one which in the end resonated with me in sudden methods as I witnessed my Warrior of Mild stroll to the tip.

What Can the Harvest Hope For?

It’s acceptable that the Reaper could be launched as a job in Endwalker, an enlargement story that focuses each actually and thematically on endings and the way endings in the end form which means in our lives. 

The void-corrupted Orcus, the villain of the Reaper job quests in Final Fantasy XIV.
Orcus is a “grim” reminder that utilizing the powers of the void is a harmful recreation.

Throughout a broad spectrum of separate mythological beliefs, the “Reaper” or “Grim Reaper” — in any other case generally known as “Loss of life” — is an ethereal determine related to the ending of human lives. It’s a little bit unclear the place the Grim Reaper originated as an concept. The preferred rendering of Loss of life as we’d perceive him at present — as a skeletal determine in a black shroud and wielding a scythe — begins with art work based mostly on the biblical depiction discovered within the Ebook of Revelation. As one of many 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Loss of life was one among a number of figures that signified the biblical finish instances because the personification of one among life’s solely certainties. When contrasted together with his extra nebulously outlined companions — Battle, Pestilence and Famine — there’s little doubt Loss of life stands out as a very imposing determine. Their skeletal nature reminds us of our final destiny, and their scythe is an emblem of a “harvest that’s but to return.”

Many cultures have both individually fashioned or adopted a personification of loss of life that bears similarities to the singular overarching idea of the Grim Reaper. The Mexican people saint Santa Muerte (or as their full title loosely interprets, Our Girl of the Holy Loss of life) is a deity determine that ceaselessly seems as an iconic personification of loss of life in lots of areas of Mexican tradition, depicted principally as a protecting determine who guides souls safely to the afterlife and proven visually as a feminine skeletal determine sporting a shroud and holding a globe. Poland’s personification of loss of life, Śmierć, has so much in frequent with the concept of a Grim Reaper however eschews the black shroud that many variations normally go for in favour of a white garb. You’ll discover many variations of the Reaper all through the world with each small and huge variations.

As one among life’s solely certainties, contextualizing loss of life by mythology, tradition and representations in artwork is a necessity. For this reason the concept of the Grim Reaper has taken maintain in so many various cultural and inventive contexts and usually continues to reappear within the media we eat. When you’ve performed a online game within the final 10 years, you’ll probably have encountered some personification of loss of life, the Grim Reaper or one thing impressed by these concepts.  

In Remaining Fantasy XIV, we get much less the Reaper as a solitary personification of loss of life or omnipresent power, however extra a “reaper” as a darkish toolset of otherworldly powers that your Warrior of Mild can utilise to grow to be a form of reaper themselves. This energy is one thing that may be taught and discovered, democratizing the power to reap souls. While this idea shouldn’t be one thing that ceaselessly seems in cultural myths of loss of life or the Grim Reaper, it’s actually an concept that recurs in popular culture, which routinely presents depictions of the Grim Reaper as a form of mantle that’s handed on, or in some instances, a literal job (see: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld model of Loss of life).

The enshrouded form of the Reaper in Final Fantasy XIV.
They’ve come to reap a crimson harvest.

The foundational flavour textual content of XIV’s model of the Reaper additionally presents a place to begin rooted in labour, prodding at each the symbolism and literal perform of the device that’s typically used to conduct mentioned reaping: the scythe. The unique reapers of Remaining Fantasy XIV are farmers from Garlemald, who in protection in opposition to a menace select to take up arms and name upon a darkish energy:

“Compelled north into the frigid mountains, the survivors sought a way to faucet into the reservoir of aether in any other case closed to them. A daring few discovered their reply throughout the void, binding themselves to its creatures to achieve verboten energy ─ energy fed by the souls of the slain. As soon as extra they took up their scythes, this time to reap a crimson harvest.”

The ultimate sentence of this flavour textual content provided by the sport’s official media tells us so much about how the writers of Remaining Fantasy XIV understand the actual model of Reaper they’ve created. “As soon as extra they took up their scythes” conjures the picture of farmers remodeled by this otherworldly energy from the void, with the scythe appearing because the commonality between their previous lives and their new lives as Reapers who search “a crimson harvest.” 

In some ways, it makes for a humanizing element that regardless of gaining the ability of the voidsent, they’d proceed utilizing the scythe as a weapon out of a way of familiarity. There’s a cause that describing the Remaining Fantasy XIV Reapers as “edgy botanists” caught on in the neighborhood, and it’s not a very unhealthy description of how the Reapers of XIV are stylised. In making the Reaper right into a job that anybody’s Warrior of Mild can tackle, the Reaper has to shift from a lone mythic determine into a capability shared between many.

As “edgy botanists” or “demonic farmers,” the Remaining Fantasy XIV model of the Reaper varieties a novel if barely muddled id, however one which feels notably appropriate for the Endwalker enlargement. That is an id that’s steadily expanded upon by the job quests, present lore and even the mechanics of the category. 

Don’t Concern the Reaper

The Reaper job is unlocked and defined in a brief sequence of job quests from ranges 70 to 80. I might describe these quests as melodramatic, often humorous and surprisingly mild on the sorts of particulars that I initially anticipated from them. The Reaper job quests inform an abbreviated story centered on the themes of household, revenge and what it means to embrace a darkish energy for an excellent trigger. They don’t inform a very superb story, however they elucidate an fascinating understanding of Remaining Fantasy XIV’s model of the Reaper and the way it corresponds and contrasts with real-world Reaper mythology.

Having heard of your exploits as a legendary adventurer, the character Drusilla presents to provide you steering within the artwork of changing into a Reaper, lending you a scythe and instructing you the best way to awaken the powers of your very personal voidsent. What follows is a narrative of Drusilla’s private quest to take down Orcus, a voidsent being who has possessed the physique of Drusilla’s grandfather (who, notably, was as soon as an murderer who tried to tackle Emet-Selch). If there’s one factor these Reaper quests clarify, it’s that Orcus is a harmful being that have to be stopped, and the voidsent can’t be trusted. Moreover, it’s asserted that the voidsent powers that Drusilla and her band of Lemure Reapers use are a harmful device that exposes them to mortal danger. It’s made clear that Reapers solely existed as a way to defend their homeland in Garlemald, however have since taken on the broader accountability to guard the world from voidsent threats.

Drusilla, the leader of the Lemure Reapers, in Final Fantasy XIV.
The Lemure Reapers are greater than keen to lend their energy to the incorruptible Warrior Of Mild.

Regardless of their dangers, the powers of the void are each nebulously outlined and normalised amongst the Reapers we’re launched to within the questline. Some additional understanding is obtainable by the terminology that seems in different areas of Remaining Fantasy XIV lore. The void and the voidsent appear to correspond to a demonic underworld and the demons in it, respectively. The Lemure Reapers appear to embrace this energy willingly, even regardless of their repeated assertions that it’s harmful to take action.

There’s worry related to Orcus from all of the members of the Lemure clan. Orcus represents the last word hazard of creating a pact with a voidsent: shedding full management over one’s personal physique and changing into only a vessel for a demon. Why then does Drusilla so willingly lend this energy to you, the Warrior of Mild? Why do they use some type of it themselves if it is a potential consequence?

The Reaper quests don’t present fascinating solutions to those questions, however one distinction is clearly drawn: there may be seemingly little worry in “tapping into” the ability of the voidsent for what the Lemure Reapers consider is a righteous trigger. As Drusilla describes it, they use this energy to “kill people who want killing” and ask the Warrior of Mild to do the identical for the “betterment of the realm.” They converse of “worthy prey” and piercing the void to undo the “singular model of wickedness” it has unleashed upon the world.

Drusilla additionally has no reservations in regards to the Warrior of Mild utilizing this demonic energy, regardless of that the Warrior of Mild is a stranger to them initially. The opening quest makes it clear that Drusilla perceives a “killer intuition” throughout the Warrior of Mild that might enable them to wield the powers of the void, and that giving the Warrior of Mild entry to this energy is predicated on an unstated belief. Drusilla alludes to the truth that embracing such energy leaves no hope for the “sanctity” of 1’s soul. “You’ll dance with loss of life and return as its envoy,” she says with out hesitation, acknowledging the danger however giving the ability away with little precaution.

A Reaper named Drusilla describing the dark deeds of Orcus in Final Fantasy XIV.
Drusilla is insistent on the excellence between good killers and unhealthy killers.

Along with the concept of the Reaper as a transferable energy, the moralisation of embracing such energy might be probably the most vital distinction between the Reapers of Remaining Fantasy XIV and the Grim Reapers of traditional mythology. Conventional personifications of loss of life and the Grim Reaper don’t essentially place the determine as a power for evil, however reasonably a genuinely impartial entity — an inevitable arbiter of the tip that arrives for all folks, good or unhealthy. 

This isn’t precisely the case in Remaining Fantasy XIV. Even when the Lemure Reapers themselves seem barely morally doubtful, Reaper powers within the arms of the Warrior of Mild might be understood as nothing greater than a device to assist them obtain morally good acts, particularly after we take into account the narrative at giant. The Reaper questline ends with Orcus, the evil voidsent, defeated. The story’s foremost focus in the end leads the Warrior of Mild to save lots of actuality in unthinkably vital methods, and in the event that they’re a “Reaper” while doing that, it stands to cause to recommend that one can act out of ethical obligation as a Reaper in Remaining Fantasy XIV‘s world.

The Warrior of Light and Zenos, a Reaper, facing off at the end of Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker.
Two Reapers. Two functions.

Nonetheless, the powers of the voidsent may be taken on by any character on the earth of XIV. On this means, the Reaper as a “job” itself has a form of amoral high quality, which might be seen as much like the amoral nature of mythological personifications of loss of life. It’s not the death-dealing powers of the scythe or the void that matter on this context, however reasonably how these powers are used that dictates if the Reapers of XIV’s world are good or unhealthy on a person degree.

Within the narrative of Endwalker, the character of Zenos varieties the antithesis to the Warrior of Mild in quite a lot of methods, but when each wield a scythe and a voidsent avatar within the closing battle, they make for an fascinating level of comparability. This supposedly corrupting, harmful energy is being utilized by each events on this scene, but each are in the end “in management” of their actions and utilizing their scythes and void powers for his or her particular person agendas.

As soon as extra, Remaining Fantasy XIV’s Reaper asserts its personal id and posits an apparent departure from the supernatural power it’s based mostly on.

Reaping What You Sow 

Outdoors of narrative element, the id of the Reaper as an “unbiased power for change” is formed considerably in quite a lot of different methods, from the visible design to the gameplay. Even small issues just like the varieties of gear you’ll be able to equip and the animations of assaults really feel thoughtfully thought-about in establishing a transparent id for the job.

One of many best issues to latch onto is the design of this voidsent avatar that augments itself onto your Warrior of Mild. The creature itself is harking back to a distorted model of a Grim Reaper. It has components of a ragged black shroud, a pronounced skeletal type beneath it and a slicing assault that arcs just like the curve of a scythe’s blade. Once they seem, additionally they deliver with them an otherworldly aura. There’s one thing deeply unsettling in regards to the avatar’s look, nevertheless it’s notably acquainted in these Grim Reaper-esque traits. 

The spinning scythe attack of the Reaper in action in Final Fantasy XIV.
The colorful animations of the Reaper’s weapon expertise add to the sense of “piercing the void.”

The Reaper job’s burst assault, activated by the ability enshroud, additionally grants the Warrior of Mild signifiers of a extra conventional Grim Reaper look. This way is defined because the voidsent avatar assuming some type of direct management over the Warrior of Mild’s physique. Apparently, this possession is the sort that creates clothes out of nothing, giving your character a hood, some glowing eyes and that very same otherworldly aura that the voidsent avatar has.

Even within the job’s relative infancy, the gear and scythes obtainable for the Reaper do an excellent job of representing a few of these similar iconic components in distinctive methods. As somebody who spent a while a variety of art work of the Grim Reaper’s varied interpretations in preparation for this piece, it’s actually enjoyable to see the long-lasting components included into XIV gear.

If we predict laterally, the gameplay of the Reaper job itself additionally communicates some degree of textural element. As with all DPS jobs, it’s a swift dance of urgent the correct keys on the proper time. Optimise your injury by constructing meters and unleash a robust burst assault on the good alternative. It’s actually acquainted, however that familiarity permits it to embody the concept of “reaping.” 

The enshrouded mode of the Reaper in Final Fantasy XIV, giving off a red aura.
The Reaper job seems most like a Grim Reaper when in Enshrouded mode.

When you arrange your positions nicely, you’ll reap the outcomes. When you construct up your meter effectively, you reap the outcomes. As with all DPS lessons, your injury output gained’t be the identical in case you play inefficiently. Enjoying the Reaper job nicely is all about managing meters, timing and your place; in a figurative sense, what you “sow” with the Reaper will decide what you “reap” when it comes to injury output afterward in your rotation. This maybe looks like an odd place to make a connection, however some fascinating concepts spring up because of understanding the Reapers of XIV as reapers in probably the most literal sense of the phrase. 

Not like lots of the Grim Reapers of mythology, nonetheless, the Reapers of Hydaelyn shouldn’t have some inherent caretaker accountability for the souls of the world. As a substitute, the souls exist as a forex to replenish a meter, which is used to bolster the Reaper’s energy additional.

By way of translating the mythological idea of a Reaper, as with the narrative particulars surrounding the job, we return to the concept of people with Reaper powers and no inherent accountability to go together with them. Simply because the ideological battle between a Reaper Warrior of Mild and a Reaper Zenos reminds us that being a Reaper here’s a distinctly amoral endeavour, the gameplay reminds us that being a Reaper on this world is a task the place one is, maybe selfishly, enjoying with the powers of voidsent and loss of life with out being held accountable for it in the way in which {that a} extra conventional Grim Reaper would possibly. 

As a substitute, the sowing and reaping executed because the Reaper in a fight context are a way to an finish: a DPS regime carried out to get the enemy to zero HP. This in itself tells us so much about XIV’s Reaper, which regardless of eluding simple classification, might be as soon as once more described as a device for bringing about change.

The Finish and the Starting 

I used to be given a tarot studying once I was round 12 years previous. I’ve by no means been a very religious particular person, and I barely understood what tarot was on the time. It wasn’t a very notable expertise, apart from one card draw. Proper on the finish of the session, the cardboard drawn was Loss of life. It featured an illustration of the Grim Reaper. I used to be instantly shocked, pondering this meant I might die within the close to future, maybe horribly.

In fact, anybody skilled in divining tarot playing cards is aware of that Loss of life shouldn’t be essentially reflective of the recipient really dying. As a substitute, the Loss of life card is meant to point nice change, a shift in path for one’s life.

A Reaper Warrior of Light looking over the horizon of the moon in Final Fantasy XIV.
Onwards to new horizons.

I write the final part of this essay deep into an exhausting transfer to the opposite aspect of the world. I don’t know what awaits me sooner or later, and with that uncertainty comes a sure degree of tension. However in equal measure, there may be additionally consolation in going by such adjustments, realizing that there’s the potential for lots of happiness in these adjustments.

Endwalker clearly offers with the concept of endings. It’s the tip of a 10-year saga about an epic wrestle between mild and darkness. Nonetheless, it’s additionally about new beginnings. On this means, we’d recommend that the story of Endwalker is itself involved with change and transferring from one part to the subsequent, not not like the symbolic message of the Loss of life card.

To view the Grim Reaper as an emblem of such nice change is to grasp them as an immovable occasion sooner or later. In the identical means that all of us face the tip of life, we should face the inevitable forces that change our lives from one paradigm to the subsequent. Endwalker itself is stuffed with such paradigm shifts. It ceaselessly questions what the place of individuals is within the inevitable cycles that make up our lives and within the lifetime of the universe during which we dwell.

The Scions of The Seventh Dawn, including a Reaper, at the end of their journey in Final Fantasy XIV.
The top of the journey. The start of a brand new one.

Though there may be much more to say in regards to the thematic element of Endwalker‘s Reaper, it’s greatest to grasp the Reaper job as one other candid reminder from Endwalker to embrace endings with open arms. This doesn’t imply giving up, however reasonably acknowledging that with each seed sown, there’s a swing of the scythe to reap it.

The Reaper, in all its varieties, is a tacit acknowledgement of this premise. XIV‘s Reaper strays removed from the concept of a “skeletal arbiter of loss of life” to quietly embrace this extra encompassing and thematically related concept of the Reaper as a power for change. Each ending yields the bountiful potentialities of a brand new starting, so we shouldn’t be afraid to stroll the darkish, unknown paths that lie forward.


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