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The Ascians are the puppeteers behind most of Final Fantasy XIV’s woes. These mysterious black-robed individuals lay the foundations for chaos across Eorzea.
If you ask the question “Why did (insert bad thing here) happen in Final Fantasy XIV?” the answer will usually be Ascians.
It might take a few twists and turns along the way. We might “go around the houses” a bit to get there, but eventually it’ll be Ascians.
It’s the Ascians who taught the Beast Tribes how to summon Primals – the bosses we spend most of A Realm Reborn taking down.
It’s Ascians who keep possessing all our friends left and right, constantly trying to plunge the world into darkness.
They’re a pain in the ass, to put it plainly.
Where Did The Ascians Come From?
The Ascians are the last survivors of an ancient race who lived long before the civilization we know today.
A battle between Hydaelyn and Zodiark shattered the world into thirteen parallel dimensions, an event which would come to be known as The Sundering.
Only three Ascians survived The Sundering.
Emet-Selch, who we get to know quite well in Shadowbringers (all-round troublemaker), plus Lahabrea and Elidibus.
Unlike certain other MMOs which tend to feature a villain of the week, these characters all have stories woven into the background of everything we’ve played through thus far.
The Ascians rebuilt their ranks by raising the shattered souls of their colleagues. But their numbers are still thin.
They’re even thinner once we get through with them – killing an Ascian properly isn’t exactly straightforward, but we manage it now and again.
The Ascians are also immortal, and have been shaping the history of Eorzea for a very, very long time.
They can possess the bodies of the living to interact with the material world. And they’ve used this ability to manipulate the people of Eorzea and beyond for as long as they’ve existed.
What Do Ascians Look Like?
With the exception of one, all Ascians wear the same black robes and masks, almost cultish in their appearance.
This lines up with how the Ancients appear when we delve into Amaurot later on in Shadowbringers – a uniform style that emphasizes community above the individual.
This is a style Square seems to have a bit of a thing for.
If you’ve played any of the Kingdom Hearts games, you’ll be familiar with Organization XIII – another group of moody & mysterious villains with a penchant for flowy black clothes.
Since Ascians can possess both living and dead bodies, it’s possible for them to appear as basically anyone.
This is how they’ve managed to bring so many of their evil schemes to fruition.
They do take some other shapes too: as skeletal, grim reaper-esque figures, or the domineering Ascian Prime.
What Is An Ascian Prime?
Two Ascians can form a Prime by fusing together.
We battle one of these in Heavensward’s Aetherochemical Research Facility, when Lahabrea and Igeyorhm join together in a desperate attempt to stop the Warrior of Light from undoing their plans.
They look cool – but they don’t amount to anything we can’t handle, and they don’t become a particularly common problem.
It’s just a cool nod to the Ascians’ true nature as aetherial beings.
Their mortal bodies are really just tools.
When their mortal bodies are slain, some Ascians can simply abandon them and return again in a new one. This makes killing them for good a challenge.
However, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn are nothing if not inventive, and discover that Ascians can be destroyed for good through aether-absorbing materials.
I won’t go into too much extraneous detail about that here. But it’s extremely satisfying when it happens!
Why Do The Ascians Want To Destroy Everything?
The Ascians want to restore their ancient civilization to its former glory, and they believe the only way they can do this is by “Rejoining” the parallel dimensions formed by The Sundering.
The Rejoining process totally annihilates the dimensions involved, cleansing it of all life.
So it’s not that they want to destroy the world entirely, they just want to make it what it was before The Sundering.
Obviously this is bad news for all the various people and forms of life now thriving on each of the shards of reality – but they don’t really care.
Ascians see other forms of life as inferior. Mere tools to be manipulated, or cattle to be exterminated.
No matter how charismatic or morally complex the Ascians may seem, they’re generally always plotting the loss of infinite innocent lives to serve their own ends.
Obviously, the Ascians have yet to succeed.
By the end of the Shadowbringers expansion, we’ve brought their plans to an apparent standstill.
They’re still out there, though.
Still trying to find a way to bring about calamities and further their dark intentions.