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The Red Mage

Started by old school, January 21, 2020, 09:06:21 pm

old school

January 21, 2020, 09:06:21 pm Last Edit: May 07, 2020, 05:29:05 pm by old school
Old School's Red Mage Schooling

I should start this thread with the following disclaimer:
"I love red mages, but they still suck"


Then, I have to follow that with an explanation:
Red Mages in many games of the series were unbalanced and in some cases served as utility classes.  Despite this, I actually really enjoyed the challenge of still running them end game.  Fun fact, FF1 for NES came out when I was very young, and the original description (direct from the original game book) was so appealing:
Quote from: Original NES BookThe Red Magician has the ability to learn some of both black and white magic spells and is a fairly good fighter.
To a small child, words like "some" and "fairly" hold no weight.  As such, I ran 4 Red Mages, and soon learned the error of my ways.

First and foremost, what is a Red Mage?
The Red Mage has been a Final Fantasy staple since the dawn of FFTime.  When it debuted in FF, it existed only to suck.  Most people would argue and say "you're wrong, old school!  They used white and black magics, a wide variety of weapons, and heavy armors!"  To this, I usually grunt or roll my eyes.  I like to think I'm an expert on the topic, having made a huge mistake my first go round at the age of 5 and playing 4 Red Mages.

End game Red Mages couldn't use any armor, plateaued in their stats, lacked the best white and black spells, and had a crappy selection of even mage gear.  Later games introduced cool stuff like spell proficiencies, dual-casting (the Red Mage trademark), enchanting weapons like the FFV Sorceror...  This did a lot for the Red Mage, and serves as the foundation for my Red Mage.

If you think I'm full of crap, you're not wrong.  My spouse's ex would absolutely agree with you.  I do rely heavily on my experience grinding Red Mage JP/XP, as well as the incredibly thorough stuff at https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Red_Mage.

I wanted to show my appreciation to Lijj & Cheetah as early in the post as possible, so it's worth noting that several Red Mage sprites exist (http://ffhacktics.com/sprites.php?search=red+mage) and in addition to my son who loves Red Mages, served as inspiration.  Thanks, Lijj, Cheetah, and Nightmare Child!

What do they wear?
Red Mages have seen a lot of changes over the years as games evolved.  Unfortunately, none of those changes made them great.  They just have cool hats.  Originally, Red Mages used knives, swords, rods, staves, and a few other miscellaneous items, and wore armor and light shields, but ended up just being a crappier version of its black and white counterparts as the black and white robes were exclusively for their respective mages.  In FFIII, however, they became slightly more versatile with the use of a few bows.  True to the Red Mage form, though, the best bows were reserved for real Light Warriors!

Does FFT support Red Mage Mechanics?
:|  It depends on your preferred flavor of Red Mage.  To Nyzer's point, the Red Mage doesn't have to suck, but the early releases in the FF series didn't know that.  Your Red Mage can be anything, but because I prefer the genuine vanilla experience, I prefer the early Red Mage, which I can then augment with other class magics (Time, White, Black...).  If you still want traditional Red Mage but want more power, that brings us to Dual Cast.  The general consensus at present is that the level of effort would most likely be astronomical due to the fact that FFT does not support multiple commands in a single turn.

FFXI was also kind enough to bring us skills from an actual awesome job (Sorceror), stealing them instead for your Red Mage.  FFT doesn't support the elementally charged strikes without heavier modding.  That brings us to enfeebling spells.

What Red Magics already exist?
All of them!  Red Magic was a mix of white and black magics.  It's really about how you want to make your Red Mage unique.  I personally try to avoid duplicating any skills across classes.  It's just... lazy.  Good news, there's an even crappier job than the Red Mage, and that's the Oracle!  If you pair up White Magic and your new Red Magic skillsets, you have a healing, enfeebling, useless in end-game, magical warrior.  Just an example.  You can save yourself something like 14 (fourteen!!) ability slots by getting rid of the most notoriously worst class in Final Fantasy history.  No, I'm not an advocate for the level down cheat.

This is not the only Red Mage flavor, but because it's mine, I'm going to pass it off as the best.
It's not.  I just can't stress enough how much I hate the Oracle and love vanilla.

Awesome, old school!  I'm going to jump in and make one!
Unlike my post about the Blue Mage, I really think this is a worthy addition, and I'm honestly disappointed in Square for not having done it initially.  Even better, the only thing you really may want to change is the PA multiplier.  Remember, like the Oracle, the Red Mage is supposed to suck.  Just up the multipliers, add a few weapons types, and you're good to go with your crappy, sorta versatile, new Warrior of Light!  But, for the love of God, please don't give them armor and knight swords!


I'd love to hear your Red Mage designs in the comments below.  This post is oozing with seeming disdain for Red Mages, but they are my favorite class, and how you'd make them not suck is interesting!

Suggested Red Mage Flavors
It is recommended that you explore your own creativity, but here are a few to get you started.  Feel free to mix and match to your heart's content, and if you have an idea that is worth sharing, add it in the comments below to have it featured.

If you feel your idea has been misrepresented, please contact me directly so we can collaborate and get your idea out here properly.

You got the wrong game, bruv.  Try this: https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Final_Fantasy_V

  • Rename all instances of Yin Yang Magic to Red Magic because Red Magic is a better, gluten-free option
  • Give the Red Mage Knives, Swords, Rods, Staves, Bows (introduced in FFIII, look it up), Shields
  • Give the Red Mage Hats, Robes, Clothes
  • As a front-line fighter, I'm toying with reducing spell CT
  • Boost HP growth/mult, Speed mult, PA mult (Oracle SUCKS), Move & ChEv% (to be on par with other versatile/mobile classes)

For a very basic change to keep the vanilla feel and limit the need for extensive modding, change the Oracle HP multiplier/growth, and PA and Speed multipliers.  Make sure to update equipment and possibly reaction abilities to support this better version of the Oracle.

  • Give it strong (but not the best) MA and PA, and slightly above average SP, but to give it low HP, MP, and Move, and merely average Ev%.
  • Update equipment selection to include your preference for weapons, as well as armor, robes, etc

@Nyzer's explanation:
Quote from: Nyzer on January 21, 2020, 10:07:58 pmThe low Move would fall in line with the Red Mage being a caster. This wouldn't cripple its usefulness because it has both ranged damage and support options. Yes, its lower spell levels would mean that this isn't going to be OMGWTF damage, but it's not nothing, and allowing the Red Mage to have high PA still allows it to be a useful damage dealer in melee range. Not as much as a Knight Sword wielder, but KS are stupidly OP anyway with all their buffs and the ability to dual wield them. Rebalancing Knight Swords just so that - for example - they can't be dual wielded, while regular swords still can; or so that they're forced 2H but swords can still be used with shields or the Doublehand support, would easily make the Red Mage a worthy melee fighter without giving it Knight Swords.

The low HP wouldn't cripple the Red Mage either. Giving them Protect, Shell, and Regen, in addition to their lower Move, easily allows them the opportunity to buff up before they hit the front line. A Red Mage with Protect & Regen could theoretically be tankier than a heavy armor job without it.

  • Give skills that control the flow of battle via MP restoration (ex: single target restore caster, AoE restore allies)
  • Give short range skills to force melee range combat

@Nyzer's explanation:
Quote from: Nyzer on January 21, 2020, 10:07:58 pmGive the Red Mage its own unique niche: the mana battery. FFT surprisingly really doesn't do much with the concept of MP restoration. Even the Dark Knight's Dark Sword/Duskblade/Infernal Strike skill is nearly useless as an MP restoration skill since it's exclusively put on jobs that have no-cost healing and attack moves. You could give the Red Mage a very unique role with just two skills: one ranged skill that costs MP, restores MP (whether AoE or single target is up to you), and cannot hit its caster, and then one sword-requirement weapon range skill that drains a target's MP. (You could even drop that last skill if you just wanted to move Duskblade here but I'm not much of a fan of that idea, especially since I think forcing the Red Mage to be in melee range if it wants to do a lot of casting is a good way to reinforce its mixed-role design.)

All of this would turn the Red Mage into a unit that perfectly straddles the line between caster and melee, encouraging the player to switch between both no matter what the Red Mage's current role in the team is. If you're using them as a melee attacker, you'll still want to toss out some Blizzaras before you can close the gap, and regularly top up its Protect/Regen. If you're using them as a supportive caster, you'll still want to dart in and top up your MP with a Manastrike (name pending trademark) since you don't have the MP pool that the focused caster jobs do.

Quote from: Nyzer on January 22, 2020, 10:14:42 amKicking some of their status effects to a physical job would free up space to get experimental with their niche and expand a bit on what they do. Removing beneficial effects in order to heal a unit, removing negative effects from allies at the cost of HP, MP restoration (if not using the Red Mage for it), etc. They can be status-focused without being so one-note.

Resources:

This post has been made possible by the members of this site.  Special thanks to:
Lijj
Cheetah
Nyzer
Nyzer
Nyzer
Nyzer
  • Modding version: PSX

Nyzer

January 21, 2020, 10:07:58 pm #1 Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 10:31:30 pm by Nyzer
Um... no, you *don't* share learned skills across jobs in FFT. If you have a Freelancer with Cure, a Red Mage with Cure and Cura, and a White Mage with Cure-Curaga, learning Cure on the Freelancer will not learn it on the other two jobs.

As for balancing the Red Mage, I really strongly disagree with the idea that "the Red Mage is supposed to suck". "Jack of all trades, master of none" is not necessarily synonymous with "useless in endgame". Especially when FFT does have a very comparable job already - the Monk. It deals damage, inflicts debuffs, heals damage, heals MP, cures debuffs, and has a rez.

A fairly balanced design that would make a Red Mage useful without being overpowered would be to give it strong (but not the best) MA and PA, and slightly above average SP (after all, it doesn't wear armor unlike the Knight, Samurai, or Dragoon), but to give it low HP, MP, and Move, and merely average Ev%.

The low Move would fall in line with the Red Mage being a caster. This wouldn't cripple its usefulness because it has both ranged damage and support options. Yes, its lower spell levels would mean that this isn't going to be OMGWTF damage, but it's not nothing, and allowing the Red Mage to have high PA still allows it to be a useful damage dealer in melee range. Not as much as a Knight Sword wielder, but KS are stupidly OP anyway with all their buffs and the ability to dual wield them. Rebalancing Knight Swords just so that - for example - they can't be dual wielded, while regular swords still can; or so that they're forced 2H but swords can still be used with shields or the Doublehand support, would easily make the Red Mage a worthy melee fighter without giving it Knight Swords.

The low HP wouldn't cripple the Red Mage either. Giving them Protect, Shell, and Regen, in addition to their lower Move, easily allows them the opportunity to buff up before they hit the front line. A Red Mage with Protect & Regen could theoretically be tankier than a heavy armor job without it.

The low MP is the only one that doesn't immediately give a Red Mage a tradeoff mixed playstyle rather than just being an outright nerf. Granted, yeah, this concept of a Red Mage is indeed meant to switch from casting spells on approach to swinging a sword on the front line, but if it runs out of MP entirely, it just becomes a weaker version of a generic Squire. Still, you could argue that this is part of the playstyle - the Red Mage's long-term usefulness decreases if you don't use it sparingly. Having the Red Mage just as a backup rezzer/buffer isn't that bad of a niche, after all.

But we can even do better. Give the Red Mage its own unique niche: the mana battery. FFT surprisingly really doesn't do much with the concept of MP restoration. Even the Dark Knight's Dark Sword/Duskblade/Infernal Strike skill is nearly useless as an MP restoration skill since it's exclusively put on jobs that have no-cost healing and attack moves. You could give the Red Mage a very unique role with just two skills: one ranged skill that costs MP, restores MP (whether AoE or single target is up to you), and cannot hit its caster, and then one sword-requirement weapon range skill that drains a target's MP. (You could even drop that last skill if you just wanted to move Duskblade here but I'm not much of a fan of that idea, especially since I think forcing the Red Mage to be in melee range if it wants to do a lot of casting is a good way to reinforce its mixed-role design.)

All of this would turn the Red Mage into a unit that perfectly straddles the line between caster and melee, encouraging the player to switch between both no matter what the Red Mage's current role in the team is. If you're using them as a melee attacker, you'll still want to toss out some Blizzaras before you can close the gap, and regularly top up its Protect/Regen. If you're using them as a supportive caster, you'll still want to dart in and top up your MP with a Manastrike (name pending trademark) since you don't have the MP pool that the focused caster jobs do.

Also, honestly, just the fact that the Red Mage gets Raise is enough to give it a skillset that's a thousand times more generally useful than half the jobs in the vanilla game.
  • Modding version: PSX & WotL
  • Discord username: Nyzer

old school

January 21, 2020, 11:28:57 pm #2 Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 11:50:16 pm by old school
Quote from: Nyzer on January 21, 2020, 10:07:58 pm
Um... no, you *don't* share learned skills across jobs in FFT. If you have a Freelancer with Cure, a Red Mage with Cure and Cura, and a White Mage with Cure-Curaga, learning Cure on the Freelancer will not learn it on the other two jobs.


That's actually good to know. I thought I had experimented before and had that issue, but could easily have been mistaken.  I'll update when I can get to a computer.

As for the rest of it, they definitely aren't made for late game. You either play them for Dual Cast or it's FFXI. Raise was a Red Wizard spell, which you can also argue that the White Wizard gets Holy and the Black Wizard gets Flare. My opinion is hardcore against the armor, though.  They, traditionally, aren't meant to wear it.

Of course it's all really RDM flavor and personal preference. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I hope this back and forth helps people make the Red Mage they always dreamed of, lol.

I should also add, and maybe I'll clarify up top, this is not what they can be, but rather what they have been in the series. A lot of your ideas are more geared toward a more FFXI approach of self-sustainability, and I like that. I was happy with the Sorceror/Red Mage they made. I'm not sure that's for me, though. The one thing I noticed you didn't argue with, however, is the Oracle. Can we take a second to reflect on that?
  • Modding version: PSX

Nyzer

QuoteYou either play them for Dual Cast or it's FFXI.


If there was a Dual Cast support skill in FFT, I would be far more amenable to the idea of generally leaving the Red Mage an all around weak unit, since Dual Cast is all kinds of powerful. Players would be able to Raise two units per turn, for example, or back-to-back Protect and Shell. Even just dual Cura is a great way to come close to matching what a White Mage can do without doing exactly the same thing.
Without it, there has to be another way to keep the Red Mage useful in the late game. Hence the idea of having it serve the dual purpose of being a comparatively strong melee unit with a few unique disadvantages that it's meant to mitigate by actively using its skills, or a comparatively strong caster unit with a few unique disadvantages that it's meant to mitigate by applying swords to heads once in a while.

You do have to take a grain of salt when looking at the way early FF games balanced jobs, because... well, they were hardly balanced. FFIII in particular - a lot of jobs are very specifically meant to be tossed aside at a certain point. At the same time you can't just look at FFXI/XIV in which the jobs (theoretically) have to be perfectly balanced in order to all be viable in raids, as this tends to either cause homogenization to a degree or just straight up fail.

QuoteRaise was a Red Wizard spell


Case in point. There wouldn't be a Red Wizard analogue in any FFT mod unless one was just scrapping all the melee classes entirely. Raise is a Red Mage skill in FFV, and given FFV's much better job balance and creativity overall than FFIII, I would definitely look to FFV first and foremost.

QuoteMy opinion is hardcore against the armor, though.  They, traditionally, aren't meant to wear it.


I also said they shouldn't wear armor. That this no-armor design is what justifies a slightly higher Speed.

  • Modding version: PSX & WotL
  • Discord username: Nyzer

old school

All great points. Sorry, phones don't do any favors for these forum posts. I'll keep this one short and just say "Yes." They started out crappy, then got several much needed reworks. 
  • Modding version: PSX

old school

Updated!  Thanks for catching my error!

To be honest, though, I don't know what you expected from a conversation with a guy named "old school".  Clearly, the earliest, blandest, most pixelated versions of the Red Mage were the best crappy job.  (jk, sarcasm, it doesn't translate well in text).

I actually really like your thoughts on the "mana battery" approach.  It does sound like a cool mix of melee and magic.
  • Modding version: PSX

Nyzer

January 22, 2020, 10:14:42 am #6 Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 12:47:02 pm by Nyzer
Yeah, the Oracle is really weak in FFT. To be fair, this isn't specifically about their skills, though there are a fair few problems there, but more about the fact that most status effects aren't useful in FFT because the damage scaling is too high.

As for their skills? Well, they're far too laser-focused on the one thing they do. Even after fixing status effectiveness the Oracle still doesn't have much of a useful niche; it's kind of like the vanilla Knight. Except the Black Mage with poison/toad/death does most of the same job anyway...

Kicking some of their status effects to a physical job would free up space to get experimental with their niche and expand a bit on what they do. Removing beneficial effects in order to heal a unit, removing negative effects from allies at the cost of HP, MP restoration (if not using the Red Mage for it), etc. They can be status-focused without being so one-note.
  • Modding version: PSX & WotL
  • Discord username: Nyzer

Vanya

A question and a thought come to mind.

Question: Has anyone ever come close to coding an actual Dual Cast ability?

Thought: I'm wondering if it would viable to ASM a special skill set that allows you to buy skills from two other specific sets? Basically, the skill set is empty normally but buying a skill from one of the source skill sets writes it to the appropriate SRAM location for that specific character. It would no doubt be complicated.
  • Modding version: Other/Unknown
¯\(°_0)/¯

Nyzer

Second time someone has asked about dualcast today. It's never been done so far.
  • Modding version: PSX & WotL
  • Discord username: Nyzer

old school

Oh man, I totally forgot to add a nod to the "Enhancer". Also this:

Quote from: Nyzer on January 22, 2020, 10:14:42 amRemoving beneficial effects in order to heal a unit, removing negative effects from allies at the cost of HP, MP restoration (if not using the Red Mage for it), etc. They can be status-focused without being so one-note.

That's pretty awesome, Nyzer. I like that idea!
  • Modding version: PSX