I’m Playing Final Fantasy XIV – Part One

I hate character creation. Tweaking cheekbones, pursing lips, finding the perfect eyebrow shade – I know people who absolutely eat this stuff up, but I can’t really bring myself to care about a mug I’m going to slap a hard-helm on and never look upon again anyway.

This is what I end up with:

Meet Dagda

So I go for a kinda fine looking green haired anime sword boy. I only identify with him insofar as I genuinely wish I could have and also pull off hair like that. I realize now that he is not entirely aesthetically different from shadow_560 hardmetal969, a creation of mine from 2004-era Runescape. I have a type I guess, what can I say. 

Another white boy with pointy hair and a sword, or a unique individual with his own wants, hopes, and desires inspired by eleven year old me? You decide.

I try to pick a moon sign that is vaguely around my real birthday (I…think?) because I want to have some sort of attachment to this dude. I then choose to make him a Gladiator, because again, anime sword boy. I would not find out until a few hours later that this meant I was a “Tank.” 

Call it laziness or lack of imagination, but I have a bad habit of playing RPGs as the most boring ass human person you can be. I don’t really know why. I guess I like the idea of bringing common old humanity into fantastic stories. The longevity of elves, dwarven beard superiority, the light-footedness of halflings (sorry, Lalafell) don’t appeal to me as much as the idea that I’m playing as a dude who was born with no skills or abilities whatsoever. He’s relatively meek, has no otherworldly fantastic traits, and will die like the rest of us by the age of 75 if he doesn’t meet some gruesome end sooner. This appeals to me.

So I start my game as this vanilla white anime sword boy that I kind of identify with on an existential level that has hair I’m genuinely jealous of and step out into Ul’Dah, the city that my starting class is predestined to begin with. 

The first thing the game does is have me introduce myself to a few ancillary NPCs. They are all impressed with my name, Dagda Tuatha, a mishmash of Celtic gods that I pray no one recognizes lest they sniff me out and recognize me as an even bigger nerd than someone who might have come up with the name “Dagda Tuatha” on his own.

I then get some introduction to the world, including an introduction to the various factions that make up Eorzea, along with some pretty interesting explanations about what happened to the world before it was “reborn.” Right away the game doesn’t hide the fact that it nuked itself in order to reboot itself and proceeds to tell me about the meteor that was drawn from the sky by some Sith-meets-Sauron-looking motherfucker. It turned out the meteor was a giant dragon’s egg and when it hatched, attempted to destroy everything. I can only assume this is the rad ending to the original Final Fantasy XIV game before A Realm Reborn. This is extremely my shit.

I can only pray I’ll be insane enough to try and find a way to play it for myself one day.

This is the first sign I am in danger of getting sucked into Final Fantasy XIV.

I ignore these warning signs and continue playing. 

So far, I don’t find anything particularly special about the game itself. The first few quests, as predicted, are mind numbingly dull. I kill some raccoons for monetary gain. I help a stuck up rich lady pick up some money off the floor. I deliver letters for people practically standing next to each other that are too lazy to do the damn work themselves (also postage can’t be more than the 400 gil they’re paying me to be an errand boy – can it?).

At some point, the game prompts me to start to learn how to work my class – a tank. I didn’t know how I felt about being designated this tank status. I’ve never played an MMO before. What if I wanted to be a DPS or a ranged character or a healer? Are those the same thing? What is a job? I began doing some research.

Tanking is Customer Service

Tanks take damage so others don’t. They draw the ire (er, enmity) of enemies so they won’t attack the squishy mages. They are in somewhat high demand. I figure I’d give it the ole college try.

I’ve worked in customer support for most of my adult life. This began in earnest when I worked for the Museum of Modern Art and sold movie tickets to people like Hattie from Extreme Cougar Wives.

a frequent client

Since I worked at the film desk, we often had recurring clientele who would stumble through the doors to buy their movie tickets in advance. I came across all sorts of strange characters, many of which were not the most pleasant to deal with (any many of which were very lovely in their own beautiful ways).

Over time, I began to look forward to the strange interactions. Hattie gave me less of a hard time because I was an irresistible catch. I could be blunt and efficient with the local creeper so my colleagues didn’t have to suffer his bizarre advances. I could catch the ear of the old man just looking to tell a few new jokes because he had no one else to tell them to and I could multitask while he droned on.

I seek out the tough and weird interactions so other people don’t have to. I can take and laugh off bizarre comments lobbed in my direction over something that’s not my fault. I don’t get flustered when someone comes to the desk already looking for a fight despite the fact that I can help them do what they want, no questions asked. I’m protecting my friends, but I am also somewhat selfishly looking for a story to tell. I’ll gladly be the tank if no one wants to. 

I’m fine with being a tank, I think. In fact, I believe I could be quite good at it. After all “Magic is Easy Mode” is the old Dark Souls adage and I’ll be damned if I can’t get up close and personal with the wonderful weird creatures of Final Fantasy XIV.

And up close I would be.


There I am, minding my own business, doing fetch quest after fetch quest, finally soaking in the story and settling in, when I go to trigger the next quest start point and…

I’m queuing.

I’m queuing to get into a damn party so I can do a dungeon with other people.

This is a dirty trick.

I’m not ready yet. I’m hardly level fifteen. I know how to kill raccoons and pick up coins, but I don’t know how to lead the party into a dungeon as my actual job.

Lucky for me, tanks are somewhat always in demand, so I didn’t suffer long before I was tossed into the proverbial deep end. All of my research poring over wiki articles and skimming the Discord channels came down to this. I lobbed my shield. I increased my enmity. I sword thrusted at any enemy that so much as looked at my healer funny. When facing down a boss, I provoked it and leveraged the power of positioning so it faced away from my teammates, letting me take the brunt of the AOE attacks (that stands for area of effect, dontcha know).

The trolls having been vanquished, the iconic Final Fantasy fanfare plays. We’re about to leave the dungeon when my DPS-mate turns to me before jumping through the portal and says:

“You glued yourself onto the troll’s nutsack, then chopped it off. I call that good tanking”

some dude I will never see again

It was Leader {TM} praising me after that one match all over again. It was a compliment from a teammate that I helped them handle a movie goer so they didn’t have to. It was the fleeting satisfaction that I did the right thing.

I beamed.