The Gendarme is the ultimate shield in the Zodiac versions of Final Fantasy XII, surpassing the Zodiac Escutcheon and Ensanguined Shield from the original PlayStation 2 version. It provides 90 to both physical and magickal evade and absorbs all elemental damage. The Gendarme is metallic for the purposes of the magnetize debuff present in the Vinuskar (though the shield is found after this boss) and Ultima boss battles.
Wearing multiple pieces of armor that all give the same elemental resistance does not stack, but certain different types do:
- Weakness + Absorb = Absorbs double
- Halve + Absorb = Absorbs half
Because Gendarme absorbs all elements, it couples with all equipment that have weak:element or half:element traits. If the Gendarme-wielder is also wearing equipment that gives immunity to an element, they remain immune (receive 0 damage from element).
The shield has no model, appearing invisible when the character equips it. It does not have a license on the License Board, and thus any character can wear it regardless of job. It is part of the new and secret invisible super equipment added to the Zodiac versions, alongside the Great Trango and Seitengrat weapons.
The treasure for the Gendarme is at the top of Great Crystal, at the Crystal Peak, the optional part of the dungeon where Ultima is fought. It has 1% chance to appear per entry to the room directly on top of the treasure that holds the Excalibur. There is a 20% chance the treasure is gil, and the item treasure has a 5% chance to be the Gendarme when looted with the Diamond Armlet equipped; otherwise, it has a meteorite. The chest respawns, and thus a patient player may get multiple Gendarmes from the same spot.
Because the chance of scoring the Gendarme from the treasure is so low even if the treasure does spawn, which itself is very rare, players dedicated to getting the Gendarme often use RNG manipulation. Otherwise, one can be expected to cycle in and out of the room for hours and hours even with the 4x speed in The Zodiac Age versions.
The Gendarme is the ultimate shield that blocks both physical and magickal attacks, and absorbs all elements. At this late point in the game two-handed weapons surpass one-handed ones, and most times it is not worthwhile to sacrifice the increased damage from a two-handed weapon to be able to equip a shield, but Gendarme offers excellent protection and can be used by any job, as it lacks a license.
The Gendarme is far better than any other shield in the game, to the point of potentially trivializing the game itself by taking away any challenge. It could be worn by spellcasters, like a dedicated healer or offensive caster, as magick-use doesn't need a weapon to be effective (though the affinity from some staves does help). The Kumbha, Mina and Vrscika are is also excellent weapons that can be used one-handedly. Pairing the Gendarme with Ribbon makes the character nigh unstoppable if not for instant kill attacks, which can also be halved with Shell. This character can then be used as a decoy to protect the rest of the party.
The Gendarme can be equipped by characters with one-handed weapons or no weapon in their available hand. It adds to the wearer's physical and magickal evasion. Shield Block augments also add +5% to both physical and magickal evasion per augment purchased. Magick evasion does not block status effect spells (the player needs to use Shell to halve their chance unless they can get immunity from equipment). Equipping a shield negates the Brawler augment, even if the character is still attacking bare-handed. Some enemies, especially all the toughest bosses and marks, have Ignore Evasion as a passive ability, which causes their attacks to ignore all blocking and parrying. However, no enemy ignores Magick Evasion, and although many of the most powerful magicks are set to always hit, Gendarme will absorb elemental damage.
The chance to block granted by gloves and shields and Shield Block licenses is checked separately to, and before, the evade from one-handed weapons. If the shield block fails, the game checks for the weapon block, and if that fails, the game checks for parry.
Behind the scenes
In the Zodiac versions, the treasure chest formation in Phon Coast includes items like Teleport Stones and Braid Wool not normally found in treasures, this being a clue that this set of treasures holds a secret. The player must take the first Japanese character/syllable of each treasure going from east to west, to form the portions of the Japanese names for Great Crystal, Pharos - First Ascent, and Skyferry, the locations of the three strongest invisible weapons and shield: Seitengrat at Skyferry, Great Trango at Pharos, and Gendarme at Great Crystal. The clue is missed in the English localization.
It is likely that the newly added invisible super equipment, Great Trango, Seitengrat and Gendarme, were originally testing tools for developers, which is why their stats are so game-breaking, and they are more of a novelty and a curiosity than something intended to play the game with, as they are so cumbersome to acquire without RNG manipulation, and end up trivializing any challenge for being so overpowered.
Gendarme is the French singular extracted from plural gendarmes, which arose as a re-spelling of gens d'armes ("people of arms", "armed people").
It may be named after the grip from Vagrant Story, as Final Fantasy XII already has other allusions to the game as well, both games initially being directed by Yasumi Matsuno, and Vagrant Story having some links to Ivalice.