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Gestahl

The Gestahlian Empire is a governmental organization in Final Fantasy VI. In the original Super Nintendo release, it was simply called The Empire, but it is named the Gestahlian Empire in the Game Boy Advance and following releases. The Empire and its officers serve as the primary antagonists for the first part of the game. It has been suggested that the symbol depicted on the Imperial banner is the mouth of a Magitek Armor.

Story[]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)

Imperial soldiers concept art.

The Empire can trace its roots back to the Autonomous Military Organization, which was formed in the centuries following the War of the Magi. Together with other governments around the world, it participated in the World Peace Council some 735 years ago.[1] 50 years later, the Autonomous Military Organization became an unnamed Empire, and declared its intention of policing world peace.[2]

59 years ago, a coup d'etat took place in the Empire, in which Gestahl father was heavily involved. Gestahl was born nine years later as the heir to a military family.[3] The construction of the Imperial Palace in Vector was completed 38 years ago.[4]

Gestahl became Emperor at the age of 30,[5] and from then on, the Empire was known as the Gestahlian Empire.[6] Gestahl immediately pursued an aggressive foreign policy, although he signed a non-aggression pact with Narshe that same year.[7] Two years later, Gestahl launched his first war of conquest, the First Gesthahlian Campaign, on the southern continent. Around this time, Gestahl led an Imperial expedition through the Cave to the Sealed Gate, and they discovered the Esper World. Imperial soldiers stormed the realm to capture as many espers as possible. The Esper Elder sacrificed himself to expel the invaders, but by then the Empire has abducted a significant number of espers, as well as a human-esper hybrid infant named Terra Branford. The Magitek Research Facility was soon constructed to carry out experiments on the captive espers. Imperial chief scientist Cid Del Norte Marguez eventually discovered a way to extract magic from the espers, introducing Magitek to the world. This technology was tested on Kefka Palazzo, but the process was still in development and was rudimentary—it shattered Kefka's mind and left him a psychopath.

After four years, the military's command structure was restructured and the initial results of the research facility were published by the Empire.[8] Presumably during this time, Kefka also proceeded to place the human-esper hybrid, named Terra Branford, under control of the Slave Crown, as well as the massacre of over fifty Imperial troops at Kefka's orders.

The Magitek process was refined and the Empire began to mass-produce Magitek weapons. Magic was granted to the Empire's elite soldiers, who became known as Magitek Knights, including General Celes Chere. Four years after the initial results, the Gestahl launched the Second Gestahlian Campaign on the western parts of the Northern continent. The battles of this campaign included the obscure Raid on Kohlingen. Largely due to the deployment of the experimental Magitek Armors, the main Magitek weapon in use, the campaign resulted in a swift victory for the Empire.[9] Young King Edgar of the Kingdom of Figaro entered into a domestically unpopular alliance with the Empire that same year,[10] although the Empire was rumored to have poisoned his father two years prior.[11]

Gestahl now believed that they were the chosen people to rule over the world due to their rediscovery of magic. Magitek Armor is a large armored machine piloted by an Imperial soldier who can channel beams of magical energy. Various other Magitek machines were created, including the Imperial Air Force, and the Empire's strongest weapon, the Guardian.

After a year of skirmishes with Doma, Gestahl launched the Third Gestahlian Campaign.[12] With Magitek's unequaled power, the Empire began to conquer the entire world. The other nations on the southern continent where Vector is located — Tzen, Albrook and Maranda — were conquered one by one, and the Empire began pushing into the north. Meanwhile, a rebel army known as the Returners rose up against the Empire, with their base of operations in the Sabre Mountains.

CG render of Imperial Soldiers from Anthologies.

When a frozen esper was discovered in Narshe, Gestahl decided to violate his treaty with the town and seize the esper. The Empire dispatched Terra Branford with Biggs and Wedge to raid the town. The raid failed, and the slave crown controlling Terra was damaged, allowing her to regain her free will. With the help of Locke Cole she escaped to Figaro Castle, where King Edgar offered protection. Kefka burned the castle in retaliation, ending the alliance with Figaro. The Empire swiftly occupied South Figaro and Mt. Kolts to use as a staging ground for a march on Narshe. Around the same time, Doma Castle was is besieged by the Empire. The population of the castle was wiped out when Kefka poisons the castle's water supply, leaving Cyan Garamonde and a Doma sentry as the only survivors. Now in control of both Doma and South Figaro, this marked the territorial peak of the Empire.

Led by Kefka, the Imperial Army launched a full-scale assault on Narshe to seize the frozen esper and destroy the town. The Returners intervened, and together with the Narsheans they defeated the Empire in the Battle for the Frozen Esper. Now on the offensive, the Returners infiltrated Vector and destroyed the Magitek Research Facility, cutting off the Empire's supply of weaponry. This evened the playing field, enabling the Returners and their allies to plot a direct assault on Vector. However, the attack on the Magitek Research Facility taught the Empire about magicite, which can transfer magical energy to the holder at a much higher rate than the Empire's extraction from espers.

The Returners opened the Sealed Gate to the Esper World to negotiate a coordinated attack on Vector, but the espers went berserk and decimated Vector. Returners and Narshe guards moved in to occupy the city, encountering no resistance. The Empire called a truce and asked the Returners to cooperate in extending the ceasefire to the rogue espers, but this was a ruse to draw the espers out of hiding. In the Battle of Thamasa, Kefka reduced the espers to magicite, and with their newfound powers Gestahl and Kefka raised the Floating Continent and discovered the Warring Triad, the petrified statues of the three gods of magic.

The last Imperial soldier after the apocalypse.

At this point, the Empire as it was known was mostly gone. The Empire's forces in the conquered nations were withdrawn, and even Vector and the Imperial Palace were abandoned. The only sizeable force left was the Imperial Air Force, which was destroyed when the Returners attack the Floating Continent. Gestahl now counted on ruling the world from the Floating Continent, but Kefka killed him and altered the alignment of the Warring Triad, triggering the cataclysm. The Empire fell apart in the global catastrophe, and Vector was destroyed to make way for Kefka's Tower. Only a single Imperial soldier remained, wandering the lobby of Dragon's Neck Colosseum, and a lone suit of Magitek Armor remained in South Figaro's streets as a "souvenir of the Empire". Any other Imperial soldiers may have been press-ganged into Kefka's service, as modified Magitek machines were found in Kefka's Tower.

Spoilers end here.

Territories[]

World Map.

At the height of their rule the Empire commanded the entire southern continent along with Doma and South Figaro. For the most part their rule is unopposed since 18 years prior to Final Fantasy VI, although some people secretly support the Returners. The Imperial capital is Vector, located at the heart of the southern continent. Vector is a city dominated by the Imperial Palace and the Magitek Research Facility looming over it. Tzen and Maranda are occupied by Imperial soldiers, and Albrook is used as a port city for the Empire's ships. South Figaro is occupied for a springboard attack on Narshe, and Doma is destroyed for being Returner sympathizers. In addition to their control over various towns, the Empire maintains an Imperial Observation Post near the Cave to the Sealed Gate.

A few places have succeeded in remaining outside Imperial influence. Thamasa and Mobliz are neutral and likely avoided by the Empire as they are small villages isolated from the rest of civilization. Zozo may have been considered too uncivilized to target, and Jidoor was avoided for unknown reasons, though it is possible the country used its wealth to avoid attacks. The free city of Nikeah is also never targeted. Imperial troops briefly attacked Figaro Castle, but withdrew from the area when the castle submerged into the desert sand. The Empire also attacked Kohlingen in the past, though neither the scope nor the motivation of the attack are specified. Finally, Narshe resists attacks from the Empire, including a full-scale invasion, being the only city to do so; this is achieved partly with the help of the Returners.

Structure[]

The Empire is ruled by Emperor Gestahl and his two highest-ranking generals: Celes Chere and Leo Cristophe. Leo led the attack on Doma, and Celes may have led the attack on South Figaro, as this is where she is held prisoner when she rebels. It is mentioned Celes is the one who attacked Maranda. Kefka Palazzo is Gestahl's ambassador and court mage who acts as a free-lance agent, pursuing the Empire's interests that for whatever reason Leo is not dispatched on. Terra Branford was an elite Magitek Knight due to her part-esper heritage, but lower in rank than Celes, Leo, and Kefka. Due to her unique abilities, Terra was commanded directly by the Emperor himself, and was only sent out on the most important missions. Various lesser-ranked officers lead the Empire's field skirmishes.

Ground army[]

FF6 IOS Imperial Brown.png

Various armored soldiers make up the largest wing of the Empire's army. There are five known ranks of soldiers. Green-armored soldiers are the lowest rank in the Imperial army, they are cadets. Brown-armored soldiers comprise most of the Empire's forces, and come in several individual ranks of power, including Soldier, Imperial Soldier, Commander, Corporal, and Sergeant. Black-armored soldiers act as field commanders. As such, should the field commanders fall in battle, the present soldiers are forced to call a retreat, which is especially evident during the Siege of Doma. Orange-armored (Crimson-armored in the iOS version) soldiers are under the command of Kefka and they accompanies him in both the Magitek Research Facility and Thamasa while piloting Magitek Armor. When spoken to in Thamasa, they are labeled as Magitek soldier.

The fifth rank is Gestahl's personal guards, the Imperial Elite, only seen in the Imperial Palace wearing customized armor. Variation of them are the Templar, Officer, Captain, and General. These variants have the imperial symbol seen on the Imperial banner on their shields. Although they are weak in comparison to the Empire's mechanical forces, they are more numerous and often comprise the first wave of attacks in the Empire's sieges.

Imperial guard dogs[]

FFVI iOS Doberman Sprite.png

Vector Hound, Doberman, Hunting Hound, Belzecue and the heavy armored dog Fidor all serve as guard dogs for the Imperial army. These dogs often accompany the empire's ground force and fight alongside the soldiers. Don is a hound that was created as a test of Magitek power.

Magitek Armor[]

Mtek soldier front.PNG

The most powerful wing of the Empire's army is the Magitek Armor division. Consisting of various armored machines, three variations of Armor are known; Magitek Armor, Heavy Armor, and Mega Armor. Proto Armor appears in the Magitek Research Facility, but is never sent out to the field and is likely, as its name implies, a Magitek prototype kept in the factory. After the end of the world, Duel Armor and Fortis appear in Kefka's Tower and appear to be modified Magitek Armor.

Imperial maintenance troops[]

The bestiary entry for Unseelie and Valeor claims this on the PlayStation One Bestiary entry. Both of them are known for throwing wrenches. Due to the title, it is assumed that they keep maintenance on imperial machinery.

Scout droids[]

These machines are used as scout droids for the Empire. The bestiary entry for Dropper claims this on the PlayStation One Bestiary entry. Trappers are found in the Magitek Factory and later Junk inside Kefka's Tower.

Satellites[]

FF6 Satellite Field.png

Satellites will sound an alarm to summon allies during battle, they also have the ability to inflict various status ailments on their opponents. The Satellite is unique and can only be encountered once while Chaser appears outside the Magitek Research Facility after the Returners escape from it and InnoSent dwells inside Kefka's Tower.

Imperial Air Force[]

Spitfire.png

The Empire's relatively small and weak air power, the Air Force, consists of Sky Armor and Spitfire. Although the Final Fantasy Anthology release shows the Air Force patrolling Vector, they are only ever fought in the battle over the Floating Continent. Like the Duel Armor, enhanced flying machines called Death Machines are found in Kefka's Tower.

Other military assets[]

FFVI Magitek Armor Transport Ship.png

In addition to the above forces, several unique machines and soldiers are used by the Empire, as follows:

  • Tunnel Armor: A burrowing machine part of the South Figaro forces that was tunneling in the cave to Figaro Castle, possibly to find out where the castle has burrowed.
  • Hell's Rider: A soldier riding an unknown beast. It was Kefka's bodyguard during the battle for the Frozen Esper.
  • Number 024: A humanoid Magitek machine, it guards the Magitek Research Facility's deepest chamber where most of the active espers are kept and studied.
  • Number 128: Another Magitek facility guard. It guards the railroad tracks leading out of the facility.
  • Cranes: Two cranes atop the Imperial Palace. Kefka uses them to attack the Blackjack as it escapes.
  • Air Force: The commander of the Imperial Air Force. It battles the Returners as they attempt to land on the Floating Continent. It has two attachments, Missile Bay and Laser Gun, and can launch Bits to absorb magic.
Guardianfield.PNG
  • Guardian: The Empire's ultimate weapon used to protect the Imperial Palace and later Vector itself. The Guardian guards the tower summit in Kefka's Tower as the final Magitek enemy in the game. It mimics the battle styles of other bosses like Ultros and Dadaluma by running different battle programs.
  • Magitek Armor Transport Ship: As the name suggest, this ship transports Magitek armor. One was supplied to the Returners, along with General Leo, to go on a goodwill mission to Crescent Island in search for the espers. According to dummied texts bringing Gau onboard would have him ditch by the time the ship sets sail, with Locke speculating Gau dislikes being on ships.

As with the above mentioned Duel Armor and Death Machines, modified versions of the Magitek specialty forces are seen in Kefka's Tower—Inferno resembles Number 128, and Prometheus resembles Tunnel Armor. Number 024 resembles the Magic Master that guards the Cultists' Tower's highest chamber, but is is unknown if there is a connection as the Magic Master appears to be human, while Number 024 is a machine.

Allusions[]

The Empire contains many allusions to the Galactic Empire from the Star Wars universe.

  • In A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, Grand Moff Tarkin and Lieutenant Renz use the phrase "Rebel Scum". A common phrase Imperial soldiers use to refer to the Returners is "Returner Scum", or "Scum! You're Returners!".
  • The Imperial soldiers tend to act like the Imperial Stormtroopers due to their perceived incompetence. When Locke rescues Celes, if he is dressed in an Imperial soldier's uniform, Celes asks him, "Aren't you a little short for an Imperial soldier?" an allusion to the same line given by Leia Organa to Luke Skywalker.
  • Magitek Armor units are similar to All Terrain Personnel Transports.
  • In the English localization of the Super Nintendo version, Setzer says that "The Empire has made me a rich man" before joining the Returners. This is an allusion to The Empire Strikes Back, in which Lando Calrissian makes a deal with the Galactic Empire, though not for money, but to save his city. Lando later joined the Rebel Alliance. Setzer also ended up piloting the airship called the Falcon, the fastest airship in the world; this is likely a reference to the Millennium Falcon, an exceptionally fast space ship piloted at one point by Lando, and later by Han Solo.
  • Biggs and Wedge are named after Star Wars characters, although the original characters are members of the rebel alliance, not the Galactic Empire.
  • Kefka's betrayal and murder of Gestahl mirrored that of Darth Vader turning against Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi. Unlike Vader, however, Kefka's betrayal was out of his own evil desire for power.
  • The design of the Gestahl's personal guard resembles that of the Emperor's Royal Guard from Return of the Jedi.

Musical themes[]

The theme music for the Empire is "Troops March On" for the scenes with the soldiers, or "Empire Gestahl" for imperial territory.

Gallery[]

Etymology and symbolism[]

The name Gestahlian may derive from Gestalt psychology. Gestalt psychology or gestaltism (German: Gestalt "shape, form") is a theory of mind whose central principle is that the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies. This principle maintains that the human mind considers objects in their entirety before, or in parallel with, perception of their individual parts; suggesting the whole is other than the sum of its parts. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. In psychology, gestaltism is often opposed to structuralism. In-lore, the empire may be named after the ruling family, as its sovereign is the Emperor Gestahl, although which came first is unknown.

An empire is a dominion composed of a multitude of nations that's ruled by one sovereign leader, generally an emperor, although some empires were ruled by kings.

The game's end of the world event has elements significant to the interpretations of the "end of days" be it the Christian Book of Revelation or that of Mappo or Kali Yuga, the Latter Days of the Dharma. Much of the imagery of Revelations describes major disasters that would render the world nearly uninhabitable and wipe out great populations before its ultimate destruction and recreation. Revelations mentions an empire that would be a major catalyst for this event.

References[]

  1. Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p. 63
  2. Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p. 48
  3. Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p. 51
  4. Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p. 51
  5. Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p. 51
  6. Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario, p. 162
  7. Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p. 57
  8. Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p. 51
  9. Final Fantasy VI 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario, p. 162
  10. Final Fantasy VI 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario, p. 162
  11. While Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen states that this happened seven years ago, it is stated in-game and in subsequent releases that it happened ten years ago.
  12. Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p. 64
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