Final Fantasy V: Mastery

I’ve been devoting some effort to trying to “master” various jobs. Every job maxes out at some point: eventually you have access to all of the powers it grants. But that’s not all there is to it. A character who switches back to the “Bare” job — meaning no job at all, the state everyone starts the game in — gets the benefits of all the jobs they’ve mastered. This includes the greatest stat bonuses of any mastered jobs — so you can have the strength of a Knight and the magical power of a Summoner at the same time — and it also includes any passive effects of the job. I’ve turned Krile into a Master Thief; consequently, if I switch her to Bare, she keeps the Thief’s ability to see secret passages. And I kind of want to master the Thief job with all the other characters too, because it has the best Speed bonus.

In short, the one job without any special abilities of its own becomes the most powerful one by the end of the game. I assume that I’ll eventually want to switch everyone to Bare, although this would mean that I wouldn’t get any more job levels, which would deprive the game of its main way of rewarding the player. The “addictive” quality in RPGs in general comes from the way that players look at their character stats and see that they’re really close to advancing to the next level. It makes you say “Just a few more monsters, and then I’ll quit for the night,” often multiple times in succession. The more things you’re simultaneously leveling in, the closer, on average, you’ll be to a new level in the closest one at any given moment. RPGs where you control multiple characters have an obvious advantage here.

Still, there are a couple of classes that I don’t think I want to master. Like the Berserker. Most games in the Final Fantasy series have this status effect called “Berserk” — it’s one of the more interesting things in the series, because it can be either good or bad, depending on context. Berserk characters hit a lot harder than normal characters, but they can’t do anything else. They just take a swing at a randomly-chosen enemy whenever they’re up. So it can be a good thing to have on the party’s tanks, but it effectively disables spellcasters. Now, the Berserker is a job that makes the person doing it berserk all the time. I assume that this carries over to Bare if you master it. So mastering Berserker seems like a liability — you’re effectively declaring “I don’t expect to use this character as anything other than a tank in the endgame”.

The Monk has a similar but lesser problem: the Counter ability, which makes characters automatically counterattack after being hit. Normally, this is a good thing, as launching extra out-of-turn attacks means you kill things faster. It’s the “automatically” that gives me pause. There are situations where hitting an opponent is bad. For example, if you’re using a weapon that does fire damage, hitting a fire-based monster will heal it. As with the Berserker, the Monk deprives you of a certain amount of control: you can’t choose to not counterattack. On the other hand, it’s kind of an anomalous case there, so I don’t think this problem outweighs the Monk’s benefits, such as having the best Strength in the game.

5 Comments so far

  1. Mark on 23 Dec 2007

    As I recall, the Berserk ability has to be attached manually. I don’t remember if the same holds true for Counterattack, but I think so.

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 28 Dec 2007

    I suspect you’re remembering attaching the Berserk ability manually to a class other than Bare, or perhaps attaching it manually to a Bare who hadn’t mastered the Berserker job. But I could be wrong. All I really know is that the Berserker job itself has Berserk as an innate characteristic, and that other innate characteristics of jobs you’ve mastered get shared with Bare.

  3. Mark on 28 Dec 2007

    Well, I distinctly remember mastering every class in the GBA port, and when my characters were Freelancers (which is what “Bare” was retranslated to), they weren’t automatically attacking all the time. This is what leads me to conclude that certain passive abilities, including Berserk, still need to be explicitly equipped to the Bare class even after they’ve been mastered. It could be different in the SNES and PS1 versions, though.

  4. Carl Muckenhoupt on 16 Jan 2008

    It turns out that you’re right: mastering Berserker does not confer innate Berserk status on the Bare class. I guess they just had to put playability before consistency there. Mastering Monk does grant Counter, though.

  5. Moomoo on 5 Feb 2009

    You’re mostly correct. certain passives are granted. and certain stats are boosted once mastered (Ninja/thief/dancer for instance all grant a speed boost)
    Now you also should note that the mime class gains some similar advantages except instead of a strong physical stature, it has strong magic base stats. Putting together the three empty slots, you can put doublecast and then two other casting schools and the mime becomes the ‘caster’ version of freelancer.

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