Beings of strange form and appearance made by the gods in ancient times. Favored with great strength and intellect, the Espers knew power far beyond that of men, but their power made them proud, and at length they sought to challenge the gods. Seeing this, the gods were angered and struck down their blessed children, and binding their souls and flesh with the Glyph of the Beast, they stole their freedom for all eternity. Now they are bound to live only when summoned by their Glyph, to serve whosoever called them forth.Espers, Sage Knowledge
Espers (召喚獣, Shōkanjū?, lit. Summoned Beasts) in Final Fantasy XII are powerful beings created by the Occuria. The Espers that join the player's side are those spurned by their creators; twelve for having rebelled, and a thirteenth for being too powerful. Most of the Espers are based on the Lucavi in Final Fantasy Tactics or other past bosses of previous Final Fantasy games.
Five Espers first appeared as Totema in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and all but two reappear in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings as Yarhi. Lastly, all Espers return in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift as Scions. Recruiting every Esper in Final Fantasy XII adds Belias's sprite in the Sky Pirate's Den and awards the "High Summoner" trophy/achievement in The Zodiac Age.
In vainglory they arose, shouting challenges at the Gods. But prevail they did not. Their doom it was to walk the Mist until time's end. A legend of the Nu Mou.
The scions that would become the Espers were created by the Occuria. While the exact number is never revealed, there are at least 24 scions, with each zodiac sign having a light and dark representative.
Proud of her power and status, and believing herself superior to her creators, the highest ranking Esper, Ultima, rose up against the gods. Rallying the scions of darkness, the Espers attacked their creators, but even with their combined force, the twelve Espers were defeated and banished to the darkest reaches of Ivalice. Sealed in the Mist, they could only walk among mortals if called by a summoner via their glyphs.
A thirteenth scion, Zodiark, was bound by the gods for fear of his power. Unlike the rest of his brethren, he is not known to have harbored rebellious desire. It is unknown how long the Espers have been sealed away, but since Dynast-King Raithwall possessed the glyph of Belias, it is thought they have been sealed away at least since the era of the Dynast King.
Ashe's party comes to the Tomb of Raithwall seeking the Dawn Shard to prove Ashe's royal lineage. She enlists the help of sky pirate Balthier with promises of the Dynast-King's treasure. Before the party reaches the Dawn Shard's chamber, they enter an area thick in Mist and Belias attacks the party. Defeated, the Esper yields and lends its power to the victors, but Balthier is disappointed in learning Raithwall's treasure was an Esper rather than something of monetary value.
The party gradually finds more Espers in places thick in Mist, such as the Zertinan Caverns, Garamsythe Waterway and Necrohol of Nabudis. Many Espers guard locations associated with the Occuria, such as Mateus in the Stilshrine of Miriam where the Occurian-forged Sword of Kings is hidden away, Shemhazai guarding the area within the Great Crystal where a waystone to the Occurian realm lies, and Hashmal in the Pharos, built by the Occuria to house the Sun-Cryst. On the party's way to Giruvegan, they must summon Belias to open the gate to the Occurian city.
List of Espers
There are thirteen available Espers. Five are obtained in the main story; the other eight, shown in italics in the table below, are found through sidequests. Each Esper requires a number of Mist Charges equal to their level to summon.
Scions of Light and Darkness
The following is a list of scions and their associated zodiac signs and element. It is never stated if Ultima and Zodiark are the Scions of Darkness or of Light, but in any case, the Scions of Light are only mentioned and never actually seen in-game.
|Scion of Darkness||Scion of Light||Zodiac sign||Element|
|Belias, the Gigas||Loghrif, the Transcendent||Aries, the Ram||Fire|
|Chaos, Walker of the Wheel||Mitron, the Chastiser||Taurus, the Bull||Wind|
|Zalera, the Death Seraph||Emet-Selch, Angel of Truth||Gemini, the Twins||Death|
|Zeromus, the Condemner||Pashtarot, Knight-Star||Cancer, the Crab||Gravity|
|Hashmal, Bringer of Order||Fandaniel, the Protector||Leo, the Lion||Earth|
|Ultima, the High Seraph||Virgo, the Virgin||Holy|
|Exodus, the Judge-Sal||Halmarut, the Arbiter||Libra, the Scales||Aether|
|Cúchulainn, the Impure||Nabriales, the Majestic||Scorpio, the Scorpion||Poison|
|Shemhazai, the Whisperer||Igeyorhm, the Martyr||Sagittarius, the Archer||Soul|
|Adrammelech, the Wroth||Deudalaphon, the Benevolent||Capricorn, the Goat||Thunder|
|Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud||Emmerololth, Holy Queen||Aquarius, the Water Bearer||Water|
|Mateus, the Corrupt||Lahabrea, Abyssal Celebrant||Pisces, the Fish||Ice|
|Zodiark, Keeper of Precepts||Ophiuchus, the Snake Bearer||Darkness|
Level One Espers
Level 1 Espers require a single Mist Gauge to summon.
Belias, the Gigas
Belias is a bestial Fire Esper who guards the Dawn Shard in the Tomb of Raithwall, and is the party's first Esper. Belias is the only Esper that must be summoned during the main storyline, to open the gate to the Ancient City of Giruvegan. He fries enemies with Painflare unless the foes absorb Fire. His ultimate attack is Hellfire, perishing enemies in a devastating fire.
Mateus, the Corrupt
Mateus is found in the Stilshrine of Miriam, guarding the Sword of Kings. Mateus is an aquatic creature with multiple limbs wielding a trident, with a goddess chained to his chest he uses as a living shield. He freezes enemies with Flash-Freeze unless they absorb ice, and can heal his summoner when they are low on health. His ultimate attack is Frostwave, hurling his trident toward his enemies that crystallizes before promptly shattering.
In the Zodiac releases, Flash-Freeze's power is boosted. Mateus can cast Blizzara and has the Ignore Vitality augment.
Adrammelech, the Wroth
Adrammelech is an optional Esper found in the depths of Zertinan Caverns, in Athroza Quicksands, closest from Ozmone Plain. He is a winged Lightning Esper with goat-like features. Adrammelech shocks his foes with Flash Arc unless they absorb Lightning, in which he will use Bio, and can heal his summoner when they are low on health. His ultimate attack is Judgment Bolt, where he releases bolts of electricity.
In the Zodiac releases, Flash Arc's power is boosted, and Adrammelech casts Cura instead of Bio and Curaga. He also gains the Ignore Vitality augment.
Zalera, the Death Seraph
Zalera is an optional Esper that resides in the deepest reaches of the Barheim Passage. He is a winged skeleton, imbued with the power of death, with a shamaness on his right arm to command impure souls under his doing. The party must obtain the Barheim Key in the Dalmasca Estersand to find him. Zalera destroys foes with the Kill ability, and casts Holy and Shock. His ultimate attack is Condemnation, whereupon the shamaness's cries summon dead souls with Zalera hurling them at the enemy. It instantly kills all enemies with fewer than 9,999 max HP (6,999 HP for those with the Damage Resist augment), and those with more are hit with non-elemental damage that can break the damage limit.
In the Zodiac releases, Zalera no longer casts Holy or Shock. Instead, he has Cura, Warp, and Death. He no longer absorbs Holy-elemental attacks and Condemnation's damage is randomly generated. He also has the Ignore Weather & Landscape augment instead of Half MP.
Level Two Espers
Level 2 Espers require two Mist Gauges to summon.
Shemhazai, the Whisperer
Shemhazai is found in the depths of the Ancient City of Giruvegan in the Gate of Fire area. She is described as a half-woman, half-horse entity that utilizes soul energy. She attacks foes with Devour Soul, a non-elemental attack whose damage is calculated the same as the item Knot of Rust. Shemhazai's ultimate attack is Soul Purge, where she shoots soul energy from her guns, creating an explosion. It deals damage by the same calculation as the item Dark Matter, meaning its damage cap is 60,000, making it the second most powerful single attack in Final Fantasy XII, only bested by Zeromus's Big Bang.
In the Zodiac releases, Shemhazai can cast Shock and Curaja and gains the Ignore Vitality and Ignore Reflect augments.
Hashmal, Bringer of Order
Hashmal is a leonine Earth Esper found in the Pharos at Ridorana. He shakes his enemies up with Roxxor unless they absorb Earth damage, and his ultimate attack is Gaia's Wrath, where he sends enemies into the depths of the earth before erupting like a volcano to deal massive damage.
In the Zodiac releases, Hashmal can cast Curaja and Graviga, and has the Ignore Vitality and Ignore Reflect augments.
Cúchulainn, the Impure
Cúchulainn is an optional Esper residing in the central area of the Garamsythe Waterway. He is a venomous and grotesque monster with an engorged body, draining life energy with his poison. Cúchulainn drains the HP of his enemies with Malaise unless they are undead, and his ultimate attack is Blight, using vines emerging from his spine to absorb life into a desert of poison. If there are no enemies around when he is summoned, Cúchulainn uses Curaja that ignores the party's Reflect status. When attacked, Cúchulainn counterattacks.
In the Zodiac releases, Cúchulainn gains Bio and the Ignore Vitality augment.
Zeromus, the Condemner
Zeromus is an optional Esper hiding away in a secret area of the Stilshrine of Miriam. He has the appearance of a crab due to his massive "claw", and wields power over gravity. He is the second largest Esper after a winged Zodiark, as his length is measured by his long tail. Zeromus attacks his foes with Gravity Well and his ultimate attack is Big Bang, where he uses his claw to charge up gravity power destroying his enemies. Both attacks' damage depends on Zeromus's HP, Big Bang having the potential to deal tens of thousands of damage.
In the Zodiac releases, Zeromus can cast Scourge and Curaja and gains the Ignore Reflect augment.
Exodus, the Judge-Sal
Exodus is an optional Esper making his abode at the highest reaches of the Mosphoran Highwaste. Exodus commands celestial bodies, attacking his foes with Comet and his ultimate attack Meteor, whereupon Exodus sends two comets from the ends of his scales to the sky summoning a giant meteor. Both deal random non-elemental damage.
In the Zodiac releases, Exodus can cast Curaja and Ardor, and gains the Ignore Vitality and Ignore Reflect augments.
Level Three Espers
Level 3 Espers require all three Mist Gauges to summon.
Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud
Famfrit is a Water Esper summoned by Dr. Cid at the summit of Pharos at Ridorana. He carries an ewer of water with which he creates giant waves. Famfrit splashes his enemies with Briny Cannonade unless they absorb Water. His ultimate attack is Tsunami, where he uses the ewer to douse his enemies.
In the Zodiac releases, Famfrit can cast Renew and has the Ignore Vitality and Ignore Reflect augments.
Chaos, Walker of the Wheel
Chaos is an optional Wind Esper sealed in the center of the Necrohol of Nabudis, in the Cloister of the Highborn. He has the appearance of a bull and sits atop a pedestal commanding four swords to do his bidding. Chaos halves the highest HP enemy's HP with Whirlwind and attacks foes with elemental weaknesses with elemental magick that ignore enemies' Reflect status. His ultimate attack is Tornado, where he uses his swords to send his foes into a whirlwind. The attack damages his foes for 90% of their max HP. Both attacks are capped at 9,999 damage.
In the Zodiac releases, Chaos only retains Aeroga from his previous abilities, but can now cast Renew; Whirlwind and Tornado no longer do percentage damage.
Ultima, the High Seraph
Ultima is an optional Holy Esper who makes her abode at the top of the Great Crystal. She is the Esper who rallied the other eleven to rise against their creators. She is adorned in gold and white robes with six wings. Her dress hides an all-powerful cannon that renders holy light. Her basic attack is Redemption, a powerful Holy-elemental attack. If a foe absorbs Holy, she will use Flare that ignores enemies' Reflect status. Her ultimate attack is Eschaton that blasts all enemies with a ray of Holy-elemental light.
In the Zodiac releases, Ultima casts Holy and Renew instead of Flare and gains the Ignore Vitality and Ignore Weather & Landscape augments.
Zodiark, Keeper of Precepts
Zodiark is an optional Dark Esper sealed in the deepest reaches of the Henne Mines. A serpentine monster able to sprout wings, he is both the strongest of the Espers and the only one not part of the rebellion against the gods. Zodiark punishes his foes with the Dark-elemental Banish Ray, uses Flare if his enemies absorb Dark attacks, and uses Scathe if there are multiple enemies. His spells ignore enemies' Reflect status and take no charge time to execute. His ultimate attack is Final Eclipse that ends in an explosion that deals fixed 50,000 damage, and unlike most other Esper attacks, is unaffected by Reverse.
In the Zodiac releases, Zodiark can no longer cast Flare, but can cast Renew and Hastega. Final Eclipse's damage is boosted to 60,000 and he gains the Ignore Vitality and Ignore Weather & Landscape augments.
Espers must be defeated in battle to obtain them. They will attack the party as soon as they arrive in the area they reside in, often preventing players from leaving until they are defeated. Espers are some of the toughest bosses, and some of the battles have handicaps that seal some of the party's abilities. As all Espers in the game are of the Dark scion, some are flanked by undead.
Once an Esper is obtained, they appear on the License Board, and any character can purchase its license; once one has bought the Esper's license, it disappears from everybody else's boards. In the Zodiac versions, Esper licenses can be used to reach otherwise inaccessible licenses on jobs' License Boards, thus giving more of an element of strategy as to whom to assign the Esper to. These licenses are isolated from the rest of the board, and if the Esper that unlocks them is assigned to another player, they are in some cases rendered permanently inaccessible. Some, however, can be unlocked by more than one Esper and, in some cases in The Zodiac Age, be unlocked by the License Board for the character's other job. The player can re-roll their accumulated LP, and Esper licenses are likewise refunded.
The party member who has an Esper's license can summon it by expending a number of Mist Gauges. Summoning an Esper is similar to using a Quickening; Lv1 Espers take one gauge to summon, whereas the Lv3 Espers take all three. The option to use Quickenings is not available while an Esper is summoned.
Summoning an Esper is instantaneous, and all other party members will temporarily disappear. The normal background music is replaced by the Esper's battle music as long as the Esper is present. An Esper's level is identical to its summoner's, though Espers have fixed Attack, Defense and Magick Resist stats, as if wearing their own equipment. Espers also cannot trigger traps.
Each summon lasts up to one minute and thirty seconds, ending when time runs out, when either the summoner or the Esper dies, when the Esper is dismissed, or when the Esper uses its ultimate attack. These ultimate attacks are area-effect attacks that target the nearest visible enemy. Espers have their own gambits, which the player cannot modify. In this sense, Espers work much like guests. In the Zodiac versions, summons last a maximum of four minutes and ten seconds, and the player can directly control them and toggle their gambits on and off, although they still cannot modify them. Summons can also now use items, but have no animation for it.
Espers never deal hit combos or critical hits, but they can hit flying targets. They are immune to almost all status ailments, which can give a strategic advantage against enemies that inflict that, as enemies also tend to focus their attacks on Espers. In the original version, Espers can cast magicks even without MP, meaning the player can syphon their MP freely.
The dead character glitch can be triggered if a character dies during an Esper's dismiss animation.
Espers share their level with their summoner, and thus their stats grow (see individual Esper articles for stat lists). Esper stats are improved in the International Zodiac Job System version, and in The Zodiac Age, the HP values of Lv1 Espers are doubled, while the HP values for Lv2 and Lv3 Espers are tripled.
Battles against Espers are accompanied with "Esper Battle" (召喚獣戦, Shōkan jūsen?), composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto. It is the second track in disc 3 of the original soundtrack. The Zodiac Age has a remastered version of it.
It plays immediately after the Esper approaches the party. The intro starts with a series of militaristic beats, accompanied by wind instruments, and later joined with a female choir. Intermittently, the choir goes louder, joined with voices of the male choir. The choir is switched occasionally with loud brass and strings, and reaches climax with all instruments beating together to the martial tune.
An arrangement of this theme appears in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy and Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, the latter also including the Dissidia 012 and original versions as battle music. The original theme is the sixth track of the Memories of FFXII album in Final Fantasy XV playable in the music player. The Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy arrangement is available on the Memories of Dissidia 012 FF album purchasable from Old Lestallum for 500 gil.
When summoning an Esper into battle, the track "Esper" (召喚, Shōkan?) plays. Composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, it is the second track in disc 4 of the original soundtrack. It is a variation of the "Esper Battle", with a higher tempo making it fast-paced and a bit chaotic. The choir also joins in with a higher note.
The Esper's glyph marks itself on the summoner's body as a sign of its servitude to them. Ashe's group enters the Tomb of Raithwall and to Belias's chamber and Basch, Vossler, Fran and Balthier battle Belias while Ashe, Vaan and Penelo try to enter the door the Esper was guarding to get the Dawn Shard.
Vaan wishes to assist in fighting Belias, but Ashe tells him their mission to retrieve the Dawn Shard takes priority. Vaan is displeased with Ashe's attitude towards power and her friends, and leaves her to retrieve the nethicite herself. Ashe returns to protect Vaan before Belias can strike him down, and the group defeats it, Belias's glyph marking the back of Ashe's hand.
The group is captured to Ghis's Dreadnought Leviathan where Ashe enters a trance-like state and summons Belias against Ghis. As the Dawn Shard's reaction causes a chain of system failures and explosions through the airship, Ashe awakens from her trance and sees her arm where Belias's glyph appeared has grown bulbous and deformed. She dismisses Belias, causing her arm to be cut to a stump below the elbow.
Most of the Espers return and the party must unlock them on the Ring of Pacts to summon them; most must be defeated as bosses before they appear on the ring, and grant Quickenings to the party members upon being defeated. The only Espers not to return are Adrammelech and Zeromus. The returning Espers are level 3 Espers, meaning only one can be summoned at a time, apart from the sole level 2 Cúchulainn.
Among the new summons added are Ultima and Zalera from Final Fantasy XII. Ultima's Eschaton grants Stage Bravery to the player after being struck by a EX Break or Assist Break for a short period of time, and she can be purchased at the special Moogle Shop at Cornelia for 150 KP as a limited offer after earning 1,800 KP total. Zalera is bought from a Moogle Shop in the northwestern continent for 120 KP. When equipped, his Condemnation will activate once the enemy has 9999 BRV and instantly inflicts Break status on them.
- Ability Cards
- Legend Cards
Some of the Espers appear as enemies.
Some of the Espers from Final Fantasy XII appear as enemies.
The Espers from Final Fantasy XII on cards.
Members of the Ascians in Final Fantasy XIV, who worship Zodiark, are named after the Scions of Light mentioned in the Espers' profile. Additionally, the sigils that appear when they channel magic resemble the inverted sigils of the respective Espers.
Behind the scenes
Final Fantasy X was the first game where the summons are more like playable party members than plain special attacks, and this trend continues in Final Fantasy XII. Whereas in previous Final Fantasy games summons are "good monsters" that fight alongside the player's party, the summons in Final Fantasy XII are the demons of Final Fantasy Tactics. Instead of the summons being automatically good, the developers wanted it to be ambiguous whether the Espers fight for the party or if the party fights for them. Instead of being characterized like pets, the Espers are depicted as entities with minds of their own.
The freely traversed environment set its own challenges for recreating that in Final Fantasy XII, and in the end the developers did not have enough time to perfect the system until the International version where Espers become fully controllable rather than following an AI.
There were two reasons why we couldn't implement that in the original. One was that we were afraid the graphics would suffer — imagine the Esper occupying the same space as the background or a character, or the Esper getting in the way so that you couldn't see around you. We didn't have enough time when making the original game to adjust the camera work to fix that. The other problem was that for the Espers to be controllable, we had to actually walk them around every map for debugging.Hiroyuki Itō, the director of Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System
esper (stylized as ESPer) is an individual capable of telepathy and other similar paranormal abilities. The term was apparently coined in this sense by Alfred Bester in his 1950 short story "Oddy and Id" and is derived from the abbreviation ESP for extrasensory perception. "Scion" is an uncommon English word that means "descendant or heir to a family" and "guardian".In fiction, an
Most of the names of the scions have something to do with angels in both Judaism and Christianity. For the etymology of the Scions of Darkness, see their corresponding articles.
A name with a hidden meaning is Emet-Selch, the scion of light. His title is "The Angel of Truth." "Emet-Selch" in Hebrew means "Your Truth."
Nabriales, another Scion of Light, is a name of an angel in Jewish mythology. It is pronounced in Hebrew as "Nabriel."
Fandaniel matches the basic template of angel names in Judaism, as the "-el" suffix in hebrew means "god" and is usually at the end of many angel names, to mark their superior connection to God.
Some of the Espers take their name after a main antagonist from the first five games in the series:
- Chaos - Chaos
- Mateus - Emperor Mateus
- Famfrit - Cloud of Darkness
- Zeromus - Zeromus
- Exodus - Exdeath
- E3 2006: Interview with the Final Fantasy XII Staff (Accessed: November 27, 2018) at IGN UK
- Hiroyuki Ito interview from the Final Fantasy XII International Ultimania (Translation)