The Seventh Umbral Era was a cataclysmic event that happened in Final Fantasy XIV and caused mass destruction on the continent of Eorzea. The entire Seventh Umbral Era subplot was used by the development team to explain in-lore several updates that happened after Naoki Yoshida was appointed to game producer—such as enlarging monsters and other events. It culminated in the end of the original game and the release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, as the cataclysm reshaped Eorzea itself, justifying the new version's updated maps. The last Umbral Era happened 1,500 years ago.
This part of the game's history ended as of midnight (PST) of November 11th, 2012. A cinematic video of the destruction, called End of an Era, was launched just after the servers went down.
The Umbral ErasEdit
The Eorzeans believe the land is always shifting. Periods of abundance are followed by catastrophes that bring scarcity, and sometimes destroy entire civilizations. These periods are known as the Astral (abundance) and Umbral (scarcity) eras. Certain events that caused Umbral Eras were due to the indirect actions of the Ascians, who refer to these periods as the "Umbral Calamity". People who possess the Echo are born around the time of Umbral eras as part of Hydaelyn's will.
Information on periods prior to the Fifth Umbral Era is hard to come by, and little is known about the other eras beyond their elemental alignments and the destruction of the Allagan civilization on the Fourth Umbral Era. Because all the six previous Umbral eras are based on the six elements, the people of Eorzea had believed that there will be no more. However, since the discovery of the seventh verse of Mezaya's prophecy, they had come to believe in an impending seventh Umbral Era.
The elemental alignment of each Umbral Era is as follows:
- The First Umbral Era of Wind – The war between the five wandering tribes begins.
- The Second Umbral Era of Lightning.
- The Third Umbral Era of Fire.
- The Fourth Umbral Era of Earth – Caused by a power surge brought upon by Dalamud transferring amassed solar energy to the Crystal Tower. The Allagan civilization is destroyed by a massive earthquake.
- The Fifth Umbral Era of Ice – Known as the Age of Endless Frost, it marked an Ice-Age in Hydaelyn that created a land bridge for the ancestors of the Miqo'te along with an influx of foreign fauna.
- The Sixth Umbral Era of Water – Caused by the War of the Magi, the wanton abuse of the lands' aether by the city-states of Nym, Amdapor and Mhach provoked the anger of the Elementals as a manifestation of their collective wrath caused a catastrophic flooding of Eorzea to eliminate the city-states. This created the current version of Eorzea and its present-day city states.
The Seventh Umbral EraEdit
The first signs of the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era came in the form of a sudden change in monsters' behavior and size with Dalamud itself becoming considerably brighter in the night sky. A prophet by the name of Urianger spread the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era, becoming a wanted man by the Garlean Empire for his words of heresy. Despite the populace initially ignoring Urianger's prophecy, Dalamud drew closer with each passing day and strange weather patterns occurred. The Grand Companies, aided by the Garlond Ironworks and the adventurers, began to investigate the cause of the strange phenomena and learned that the empire had accumulated copious ceruleum, the substance needed for their magitek technology. After capturing Garlean spies, the companies obtained several magitek components to be analyzed by the Ironworks.
Putting all the pieces together, Cid nan Garlond concluded that the Empire was planning to cast the ancient magick of Meteor to purge Eorzea of its primals, a project he himself was part of before fleeing Garlemald. Further proof was obtained due to a Gridanian soldier who eavesdropped Nael van Darnus and Gaius van Baelsar discussing the use of such drastic measures.
Dalamud is a colossal machine created by the Allagans and not a natural moon. To activate it and cast Meteor, ancient stones, known as Allagan runestones, were required. After a brief period of respite, the Garleans started an offensive against the city-states with a new type of magitek weaponry, known as Magitek Vanguards. The offensives were held back with the help of the grand companies. All these seemingly random attacks from the empire were designed to distract the city-states and adventurers, while a massive base was being built in Mor Dhona, where the Garleans housed the lunar transmitter—the tool needed to control Dalamud.
The "Eorzean Alliance" readily launched an assault on Castrum Novum, backed up by several adventurers. One such team sneaked into the Lunar Transmitter and destroyed the equipment, but Nael van Darnus defeated the group powered up by Dalamud's light, claiming he has "no further need for towers". The companies tracked him down to Allagan ruins in Camp Glory, on Rivenroad, a patch of floating islands, where Nael beckoned meteorites from Dalamud to rain down on Eorzea.
The companies asked Cid for his personal airship, the Enterprise, sending a single group of adventurers to the floating islands for the final confrontation against the legatus. Even after seemingly defeated, Nael stood up and was bathed by Dalamud's light, losing what was left of his mind and becoming a being of pure hatred, known as Nael deus Darnus. After the party finally defeated the legatus, his body became pure energy and disappeared, absorbed by the moon, leaving only his gunhalberd behind.
The magic glyphs keeping the Rivenroad floating were deactivated, and the island fell apart, Cid rescuing everyone.
The grand companies celebrated victory with a reunion on Gridania, as Cid assured that Dalamud would no longer crash on Eorzea; however, the Warrior of Light wondered if that was true, and learned from Louisoix Leveilleur that Dalamud continued its descent. He asked the warrior to summon forth the Twelve themselves by seeking all twelve symbols over Eorzea and praying to awaken the gods.
The Warrior of Light encountered the members of the Circle of Knowing who posited that the act of summoning and sustaining even one god, let alone twelve, would put a great strain on the land. Thancred mentioned the irony of disrupting aetheric balance for this purpose after the Warrior of Light had taken pains to rectify it by destroying the primals.
In the middle of the pilgrimage, Gaius appeared and offered congratulations for the victory over Nael. Gaius claimed Nael's followers believe he's still alive and have entrenched themselves at the "heart of Eorzea", while sending a false report to Garlemald declaring Meteor a success, and that the VIIth legion now plans to attack the Eorzean Alliance. Before leaving, he asked the Warrior of Light to do his or her best to avoid Dalamud's fall, as Gaius wanted something "worth conquering".
Once the pilgrimage was complete, the Circle of Knowing gathered people all around Eorzea to pray, while the bulk of the Eorzean Alliance engaged the VIIth legion in a final battle to expel them from Mor Dhona and secure suitable grounds for the summoning. Once Dalamud entered Eorzea's atmosphere, it was revealed to be the prison of the elder primal Bahamut. Since the Third Astral Era, despite being summoned to fight them, Bahamut was captured by the Allagan Empire as a power source that was ultimately their downfall. Bahamut had remained bound to the physical world through captive dragons kept alive throughout the ages and forced to maintain the summon.
Once freed from his prison, Bahamut decimated both sides with the Garleans forced to flee. Bahamut rained destruction on the city-states and its armies before Louisoix protected the adventurers from the dragon while he and the remainder of the Circle of Knowing began the ritual to seal Bahamut back into his prison. The dragon broke free and Louisoix teleported the adventurers safely forward in time before while being consumed in the inferno created by Bahamut. Though it seemed the end, the true ending of the event is known only to a few. As the inferno consumed Louisoix, his prayers for Eorzea's rebirth infused him with the aether left over from the failed ritual, and he used that power to mortally damage Bahamut while restoring life to the razed land. Bahamut survived and forced Louisoix into his service while bound by Binding Coil of Bahamut to be recreated so that he could resume his rampage once fully restored.
By the events of A Realm Reborn, the Warrior of Light returns to a different Eorzea and aids the creation of the new Seventh Astral Era by defeating Gaius when he resumes his invasion of Eorzea. The Warrior joins Louisoix's granddaughter Alisaie in exploring the Binding Coils where, joined by her brother Alphinaud, they learn the truth of their grandfather's apparent demise. They decide to keep this information from the public and enable Bahamut and the captive dragons to rest in peace.
Rather than bide their time like before, the Ascians are now working to bring about an Eighth Umbral Era that will bring their goals to fruition.
Beginning with patch 1.17, each patch added an event related to the Seventh Umbral Era. Often, gamemasters controlled characters, such as Urianger, Nael van Darnus or journalists from the major newspapers of each city-state, logged on near camps or in towns to discuss current events with players. With each patch Dalamud grew bigger, and random Garlean invasions occurred on several camps—fighting them on these occasions granted unique lodestone history achievements.
A Wandering Minstrel appeared in La Noscea some time after version 2.0's announcement, giving players a Goobbue Horn. Like Urianger, he mentioned the prophecy, and was later arrested for causing unrest. In 1.23a he was replaced by a Yellowjacket (a Lominsan civil defense-man). The Yellowjacket incarcerated anyone, including adventurers, drawn in by the Minstrel's words. This was the only deliberate way to reach the Gaol beneath the Coral Tower in Limsa Lominsa (which is usually reserved for taking players who have broken the game's Terms of Service to "time-out"). The Minstrel himself awaited there (no longer able to give out Goobbue Horns), and teleported the adventurer to freedom after sharing a few thoughts on the situation. Due to the degree of anonymity adventurers have, this escape went unnoticed.
During patch 1.20, players could find Alfgar wandering near the adventurer guild in Gridania; he directed them to the airship landing, where a woman claimed her son has been taken by a group of cultists called the Lambs of Dalamud, who plan to sacrifice him. Following their trail via an aetherial gate leading to the Sil'dih Aqueducts or Mistbeard Cove, the player could disrupt their ritual, gaining a lodestone achievement and some potions as reward. In patch 1.21, Dalamud grew even bigger and could be seen any time of the day, and Aetherytes all around Eorzea randomly shifted hue to red.
Other changes were the removal of Thanalan's area theme on April 29, 2011, and the high occurrence of rain all over Eorzea—starting at the same time in the entire world and persisting even in towns (normally not affected by weather effects other than those from seasonal events). Sometimes, the rain would go on non-stop for several real life days, mostly in The Black Shroud.
Players also noticed that some bodies of water disappeared between patches, while other small lakes emerged in areas previously dry; this effect was most noticeable around Nophica's Wells, in Thanalan.
After patch 1.22, when logging on the private inn room after choosing to sleep in the bed, a random nightmare cutscene could play where the player character found many imperial soldiers, monsters, and major story NPCs lying dead in Mor Dhona. When the character kneeled to inspect the bodies, Nael van Darnus appeared and ended the nightmare.
After patch 1.23, Garlean airships could be spotted flying over several areas of the world at random, similarly to the transportation airships normally seen on the sky.
In Patch 1.23a, Atomos, depicted as a Cavernous Maw of the exact same design as in Final Fantasy XI, appeared in the sky at certain locations in Mor Dhona, Coerthas and Thanalan, and occasionally spawned powerful monsters (approximately level 60 or higher, judging by their strength). This seemingly randomized event made players think twice about idling in the middle of camp. A player only needed to defeat one monster of this sort for the quest "Monster of Maw Most Massive".
It was stated in Lodestone newsletters that Atomos may be the "Black Dooms" spoken of in the prophecy. It siphoned the energy from the Aetheryte crystals to draw itself into the material plane, turning the crystals orange and to no longer cost anima for teleporting. This made Atomos similar to the primals, but it did not have a worshiping beast tribe. At the now orange Aetherytes, its new physical presence made it vulnerable to attacks.
Killing it yielded rewards for anyone attentive enough to check the Voidstone that appeared in its wake. This could result in temporary space/time distortions for the player, such as movement speed changes or a slight shift in their placement. Every patch after its first appearance, Atomos changed spawning camps and the old ones' Aetherytes became orange.
New weather effects were added: an aurora accompanied by shooting stars, a spectacular byproduct of Dalamud's proximity. These effects were first seen in the Rivenroad battles for "To Kill a Raven" in 1.23, but later spread to all playable areas. The airships that first appeared over Mor Dhona and Coerthas spread to all playable areas as well. This was revealed to only be the VIIth legion; even these great numbers were just a fraction of the empire's forces.
In September, the VIIth Legion launched randomized attacks on the areas of Dragonhead, Broken Water, Crimson Bark, and Iron Lake. Players conscious of the game's lore pointed out these are the domains of the primals Garuda, Ifrit, Good King Moggle Mog XII, and the then-unreleased Titan, respectively. The invasions, spanning about four hours with no determined downtime in-between, included dense spawns of level 50 imperials and a boss group consisting of a Magitek Vanguard H-1, an Imperial Centurion, and a well-rounded party of Elite Soldiers. The area's music would change to one of the empire's themes for the duration.
In 1.23b, all weather effects were removed in place of overcast skies swirling around Dalamud as it breached the atmosphere. Even the time of day became barely discernible.
Some time after 1.23b Elementals around Level 78 appeared in Cedarwood, La Noscea, killing unwary travelers. High-level, non-aggressive Cactuars (Sabotenders) swarmed around certain Aetherytes, including the newer Atomos spawn points, but the exact significance behind this is unknown.
After the Final Save maintenance (no further progress saved for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn) on October 31st, 2012, a number of changes occurred. Atomos finished siphoning more Aetheryte crystals, and those he used to appear at had permanent Deepvoid monsters, including a variant of Batraal. A lightning effect was added to the Dalamud weather, and an ominously distorted variation of "Answers" replaced all outdoor field and battle music. Imperials spread to the regions of Halatali and Crooked Fork, possibly having discovered the Twelve symbols in those areas. The Cactuars that swarmed Thanalan were gone, replaced with occasional herds of Buffalo and Chimeras. In Mor Dhona, almost every monster disappeared, running away from the meteor impact.
All around the world high level monsters spawned at random, even within towns. These monsters included drakes, morbols, chimeras, buffalo, puddings, Atomos and copies of Nael van Darnus; some of these creatures were incredibly powerful, needing the work of dozens of players to be defeated.
During these final invasions, players could pray to the Twelve to receive aid in battle, such as the removal of weakness and reduction of skill cooldowns, while praying to an enemy resulted in Instant Death due to the wrath of the Twelve. Players could also randomly find Relic Weapons in their inn room (which were not actually saved for A Realm Reborn).
Every quest related to the Umbral Era became unavailable in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, due to the five-year time skip. All cutscenes related to the Seventh Umbral Era were removed from the game client.
The Twelve symbolsEdit
After patch 1.23, symbols related to one of the Twelve gods of Eorzea appeared in various regions of the world, used in the "Living in a Prayer" quest where a character prayed to the stones and recovered one anima for each. This quest was one of the reasons behind the monsters being redistributed in these areas.
Every character had to select a member of the Twelve as their Guardian. When that character reached the stone of their Guardian during the "Living on a Prayer" quest, they were given two extra anima and a Level 1 ring related to their guardian.
- Thaliak - Located in the aetheryte below Mor Dhona, entrance south of Castrum Novum, (6, 15).
- Menphina - Located in a stone formation at Coerthas, (43, 7).
- Azeyma - Located in a stone formation near the Sandgate, Thanalan, (50, 29).
- Llymlaen - Located on the bird monument on the Upper Decks of Limsa Lominsa, (4, 7).
- Althyk - Located in a stone formation near Lynxpelt Patch, The Black Shroud (45,22).
- Nophica - Located at the roof of the Conjurer guild, Gridania.
- Nald'thal - Located in a pillar inside the Thaumaturge guild, Ul'dah.
- Halone - Located in a stone formation near the Twinpools, Coerthas (11, 20).
- Nymeia - Located in a stone formation near Moraby Bay, La Noscea (29, 36).
- Rhalgr - Located in a stone formation inside Little Ala Mhigo, south of Camp Drybone, Thanalan.
- Oschon - Located in a mountain near Camp Iron Lake, La Noscea (20,3).
- Byregot - Located in a lake near Camp Crimson Bark, The Black Shroud (7,29).
Permanently missable items and achievementsEdit
Due to the exclusive nature of many of the Seventh Umbral Era events, anyone who failed to reactivate their account before the suspension of account creation/recovery (September 29th until the launch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn) missed out on any items or achievements linked to the Seventh Umbral Era.
Certain battle events that occurred between major updates usually rewarded the players with rare potions, such as Elixirs, and de-aspected crystals.
After October 31st, 2012, no further player progress was saved or carried over to the new game. Other content, for example all sidequests directly related to the Umbral Era plotline, were available for players to experience for fun, but their completion would not be reflected by the new game's data. Naoki Yoshida also stated that all characters active before said release would have something that will "visually distinguish" them from those that weren't—this took the form of a tattoo on the upper part of the player's back.
The cutscenes for all of 1.0, both the first Main Quest and then the Seventh Umbral Era line, were removed from the game in A Realm Reborn—players cannot even use the "Unending Journey" journal in their inn room to review the cutscenes. The reason given was that, because the entire graphics engine and all the assets were changed, attempting to recreate these scenes in the new game when they were linked to no quests would not be cost-effective. However, the new Collector's Edition contains a DVD recap of the Seventh Umbral Era, including full footage of all relevant cutscenes (utilizing the CG Midlander as a stand-in for the player character), and the opening scenes of the game provide relevant information for new players.
The permanently-missable items included:
- All Seventh Umbral Era event items (De-aspected Crystals, Over-Aspected Crystals and Over-Aspected Clusters).
- All achievement rewards from removed achievements, for example the Dalamud Horn.
- The White Ravens earrings (these were available later as a reward in the Rising 2018 seasonal event).
- Goobbue Horn
- Guild Marks - players would only be able to get refunds for skills removed from the game and bought with marks until 2.0 release, as well as exchanging marks for materia.
Due to the changes in questlines and the world map, several achievements are no longer obtainable, but still count towards achievement points for those who obtained them before they were removed:
- Battle - All Big Game Hunter achievements, all primal battle achievements, "Bane of the Tribes" and "Notorious Monster Hunting".
- Quests - all guildleve and behest related achievements, "Once in a Lifetime" achievement.
- Gathering - All spearfishing achievements.
- Seasonal Events - all previous seasonal event achievements.
- Dungeons - all achievements currently under that category.
- Exploration - all achievements currently under that category.
All Lodestone achievements are no longer obtainable.
- Seventh Moon Rising - Obtained by speaking with Alfgar whenever he appeared to warn about the Seventh Umbral Era prophecy.
- A Taste of Victory - fend off Garleans at Camp Horizon, Bloodshore or Tranquil.
- Rhapsody in White - Obtained by trading deaspected crystals with Ronan Kognan in Gridania.
- The Empire Strikes First - Obtained by speaking with Alfgar, Roysia or a Militia Outrider whenever there's a Garlean attack.
- Victory in the North - fend off Garleans at Camp Glory and defeat the boss at the end.
- Victory Beneath the Canopy - Fend of Garleans at Camp Emerald Moss.
- Cooperated with the Mythril Eye/Harbor Herald/Raven - Obtained by talking with the newspaper reporters that appear randomly at each city state and trading mole meats for magicked prisms, then using one; Magicked prisms can also be obtained via trade by roleplaying with a gamemaster-controlled reporter, or bought from other players.
- Escape from Mistbeard Cove/Sil'dih Aqueducts - Obtained by using the aetherial gates leading to the Lambs of Dalamud hideouts and defeating them.
- The Gathering Storm: Limsa Lominsa/Ul'dah/Gridania - Fend off Garlean attacks on the outskirts of the city states and defeat the boss at the end.
- Fragments of the Truth - Acquire a faded page from Garlean invasions and deliver it to Urianger.
- Had A Nightmare! - Obtained by watching the nightmare cutscene. The cutscene plays randomly when the player log in their private inn room after leaving the game by sleeping on the bed.
After the final save maintenance, a heavily distorted version of "Answers" replaced regular area themes. The song mixes in the lyrics of "Answers" and distorts the vocals, adding echo effects and the sound of a meteor closing in.
Umbral is derived from the Latin umbra, meaning "shadow".
- During the final days of the Sixth Astral Era, many players believed they could instantly kill some of the otherwise nearly invincible enemies that attacked the city states, or receive extremely powerful buffs using the /pray emote. However, these effects were happening thanks to gamemasters seeing the players pray and "answering" the prayers. Just two days after these rumors, the game was patched to include special effects to the /pray emote, such as reducing skill cooldowns and removing weakness; though if players /prayed for enemies, they would incur "the wrath of the Twelve" and would be smote.
- Due to the poor infrastructure of the original game, the order to converge on Mor Dhona for the final battle caused severe connectivity issues. Players were lucky to stay logged in at this location for longer than 10 minutes. Fortunately all they missed was an army of Level 55-100 Imperials accompanied by Magitek Vanguards and Juggernauts. It is theorized that the Chimera attacks on Ul'dah during this time were an attempt to split up the strain on the server.
- Minutes before the moment of reckoning, a message reached all players stating "Confound it! We' ve lost contact with the main host!"
- Flashbacks from Realm Reborn Beta indicate this message was stated by one of the leaders of the Grand Companies while they were observing the battle.
- Lasting only five years, the Seventh Umbral Era is the shortest known Era in Eorzea's history, with the defeat of the Ultima Weapon at the hands of the Warrior of Light giving way to the Seventh Astral Era.