Reinforcements? I am the reinforcements.Ashley Riot
Ashley Riot is the protagonist and player character in Vagrant Story. He is one of the most powerful Riskbreakers of the Valendia Knights of the Peace (VKP). As a member of the Dangerous Criminal Task Force, Ashley is conditioned to be a man of strength, following the orders of the VKP unquestioningly. His curiosity is piqued when Sydney Losstarot mentions the cursed city of Leá Monde, and even without further orders from the VKP continues his hunt for the cult leader, gradually discovering the events that transpired there.
Ashley is a man in his late twenties with long, copper hair tied in a knot, leaving some of it to flail in the open with two locks appearing like antennae on his head. He wears a shirt and shorts, reinforced sandals, and gauntlets on his hands and forearms. He wears an Iocus Rood necklace, a memento once owned by his wife Tia.
Ashley is a calm and just soldier. A loyal agent with a strong sense of duty, he is a prized agent among the VKP. As he dislikes working with others, he initially comes off as taciturn and unfriendly. He is later revealed to be a caring type, showing concern for fellow soldiers and empathy for some of his enemies. He is emotionally fragile, shown by his reactions when betrayed or manipulated. According to Sydney, Ashley's defining trait is child-like faith.
Ashley is an outstanding warrior, in no way lacking his career's requisites of phenomenal martial skill and mental acuity on the field. Resurfacing memories and breaking free of his brainwashing after defeating enemies reveal that his strength is but a fraction of what was in the past, showing that he was highly trained and had mastered many powerful abilities prior to his mental reorganization.
As a Riskbreaker, Ashley is trained in the advanced maintenance of equipment, able to use a wide range of weapons, and to the knowledge of their inner and outer workings including their repair and assembly.
Inside the city of Leá Monde Ashley is affected by The Dark. He discovers Grimoires, tomes of magick, learning spells that fall into four categories: Warlock, offensive magic; Enchanter, elemental attribute magic; Sorcerer, status afflicting magic; and Shaman, curative magic.
Ashley was a Riskbreaker working with Jan Rosencrantz to undermine the enemies of Valendia. During a mission Rosencrantz and Riot were spotted by a civilian family out on a picnic. As the Riskbreakers' actions must remain secret, Ashley was forced to kill them. Disturbed at having killed the very people he was charged to protect, Rosencrantz was disgusted with Ashley's moral complication, and worked with the VKP to reprogram Ashley's memories.
Following the brainwashing, Ashley believes the people he killed were his family. He places himself in the role of the husband, while the wife and child become his wife and child whom he now believes were killed by anonymous bandits. Ashley thinks he transferred from the king's guards to the Riskbreakers to avenge his "family", not knowing that he would be working for the very organization that took their lives. According to the Vagrant Story Ultimania, Ashley has completed over 100 cases since having transferred to the Dangerous Criminal Taskforce division.
Assault on the duke's home
Ashley takes part in a meeting with the higher ups of the VKP over a recent attack by Müllenkamp, a religious cult believed to be behind recent disturbances in Valendia, the recent being an attempt on the king's life. Müllenkamp, led by the enigmatic Sydney Losstarot, invaded the home of Duke Bardorba, the very man thought to be funding the sect. VKP leader, Grand Steward LeSait, sends Agent Riot off to investigate.
Ashley meets his rookie partner, Callo Merlose, in position. Fighting breaks out in the duke's home when the church's Order of the Crimson Blades move in to crush Müllenkamp along with its leader. Ashley moves in alone and defeats several Müllenkamp members before reaching Sydney. Though Riot points a crossbow at him, the cult leader moves for his sword and allows himself to be shot. The wound seems fatal, but Sydney continues to move on as if it were just a scratch. Sydney summons a wyrm to fight the Riskbreaker, and while Ashley is distracted, the cultist escapes to his base in Leá Monde. Ashley and Callo follow behind the Crimson Blades who are unwilling to let Sydney escape from their clutches.
The ruined city of Leá Monde is cut off from the world except for a single underground path through the Wine Cellar. Leaving Merlose behind, Ashley moves in to investigate and runs into several Crimson Blades whom he kills with ease. Deep within the subterranean path, Ashley finds Sydney who has captured his partner Callo. Using his Dark powers, Sydney looks into Ashley's memories, uncovering the false truth implanted by the VKP. Sydney notes that Ashley's soul seems to be locked away. Though Ashley is shaken by these visions, he continues on his mission to save Merlose.
Inside Leá Monde, Ashley listens in on several important meetings of the Crimson Blades and learns their leader is Romeo Guildenstern. Ashley is spotted by Father Duane, a Blades captain, and fells him. Moving on, a mysterious man begins to follow him.
When approaching the Snowfly Forest Ashley discovers that he is gaining a strange new power to move into the mind of a Crimson Blade called Lady Samantha. His intrusion is not lost on Guildenstern who heartlessly beats his lover to knock Ashley out. Disturbed, Ashley is met by Rosencrantz, the man who has been following him. Though Rosencrantz claims to be a Riskbreaker sent to support Ashley, the latter does not believe a word of his claims. Rosencrantz begins to taunt Ashley on his ignorance and explains Ashley is gaining powers from Leá Monde, which is a wellspring of Dark power. Every major power in Valendia is after that power, even Ashley's own VKP and the Parliament it serves. Annoyed, Ashley enters the forest, telling Rosencrantz to flee if he values his life.
Ashley comes upon another one of his pursuers, Father Grissom, the brother of the fallen Father Duane. Grissom is confronting Sydney, and tries to summon a monster to defeat both his enemies. Though at first Grissom fails, he succeeds in summoning a beast to attack Sydney and Ashley. The two work together to kill the Crimson Blade and his creature. Sydney shows Ashley a vision of him killing his own wife and child. Horrified, Ashley refuses to believe it happened.
Moving to the city keep, Ashley again finds Rosencrantz, now working with the Crimson Blades. Guildenstern orders Rosencrantz to get rid of the dangerous Riskbreaker, but the battle ends in Ashley's victory. Rosencrantz refuses to accept defeat and uses psychological warfare by admitting to twisting Ashley's mind to believe in a false memory. As he leaves, Rosencrantz promises to kill his former partner next time they do battle.
Moving down into the Undercity, Ashley fights two Crimson Blades, Lady Neesa and Sir Tieger, forcing them to retreat. When Ashley meets them next, they are shocked to see Grissom moving around as a zombie. The crazed Grissom charges at his former comrades, allowing Ashley to move on.
Taking the Blood-Sin
Ashley comes to the Temple of Kiltia where Sydney has been caught by Rosencrantz who has discovered that Sydney plans to pass off the power of the Dark in Leá Monde through his Blood-Sin tattoo to Ashley. Believing that he is the true heir to the Dark, Rosencrantz beats Sydney to force him to name Rosencrantz as the heir. Sydney only names him "worm" and brings a statue to life to kill him. After Rosencrantz is destroyed, Ashley must defeat the creature.
Ashley reaches the Grand Cathedral where Guildenstern has taken the Blood-Sin for himself by skinning it off Sydney's back. He sacrifices his lover, Samantha, to activate the Dark. Riot cannot allow Guildenstern to rule Valendia with his evil ambition, and retreats into his subconscious where he is met by a vision of Tia and Marco, his wife and child. They tell him to believe what he knows is true in his heart regardless of actual events, then thank him for giving them happiness. Whether memory or fact, his love for his family was real and a core element of Ashley's inner strength. After this boost of confidence, Ashley destroys Guildenstern and Leá Monde collapses.
Ashley has taken the full powers of the Blood-Sin and become the new vessel for the souls lost to Lea Monde. Not wishing to allow its powers to fall into the hands of a greedy power, Ashley disappears from the world. He becomes known as "the Vagrant" who wanders the world, tasking himself with the duty of stabilizing the places where the Dark has collided with Reality.
Ashley is the only playable character. His Battle Abilities are a series of augmentative continuous offensive and defensive maneuvers. The menacing Break Arts are powerful weapon-dependent abilities that deal great damage at the expense of HP.
The battle system involves Ashley chaining attacks known as Chain Abilities by pressing buttons in timely succession. The player can target different areas of the enemy's body, and damage is done according to the part attacked and the affinity of the weapon used.
The longer Ashley fights, the more his Risk rises, making it harder for him to concentrate. High Risk lowers his accuracy but increases critical hits, but at a certain point it becomes virtually impossible to hit anything. Defense Abilities allow Ashley to reduce or reflect damage or to avoid status ailments. A variety of spells can be used to attack, heal, buff, and debuff. Lastly, the Break Arts—not unlike Limit Breaks in concept—are powerful attacks that drain Ashley's hit points.
In addition to fighting, Ashley can run, jump, and push crates and cubes to get around. He will run into a variety of block puzzles requiring the player to solve them to continue the story.
Vagrant Story has an in-depth weapon and armor customization system. The simplest customization can be done at any point, even in battle. Gems can be added or switched out of weapons and shields in this manner. In designated "workshop" areas players can customize and create weapons and armor that have different ranges, strengths, and statistics. Weapons can be broken down into components for storage and put back together in the same or different combinations. Most weapons have a hilt, weapon (or blade) component, and a slot for gems. All weapons fall into one of three main damage types: the familiar RPG classes of blunt, piercing, and edged.
Each gem, armor, and weapon piece has additional "affinities". There are six "creature type" affinities and eight "elemental" affinities. Weapons gain the affinities of the enemies they are most commonly used to attack; armor gains the affinities of attacks it receives. What a weapon or piece of armor gains in one area it will lose in another, though typically using a weapon will add more to its overall affinities than the weapon will lose, and item combination is usually favorable to the player. In this way, no single weapon or shield is equally powerful against all foes. However, powerful weapons and armor can be combined, merging their affinities (and possibly creating a new type of blade or armor in the process).
The key to defeating most foes is carrying a weapon of the right damage type. Inherent affinities add a considerable bonus, but are not as important as gems that improve affinities, and spells that imbue a weapon with an element are readily available. Fandango, Ashley's starting sword, is said to be his favorite although he finds better weapons during the game.