O'er rotted Soil, under blighted sky, A dread Plague the Wicked hath wrought. In the Light of the Gods, Sword-Sworn at his Side 'Gainst the Dark the King's Battle is fought. From the Heavens high, to the Blessed below, Shines the Beam of a Peace long besought. 'Long live thy Line, and this Stone divine, For the Night when All comes to Naught.' 15:2 'Nadir'A verse in Cosmogony
The Starscourge (星の病, Hoshi no yamai?, lit. Disease of the Star) is a plague upon the world of Eos in Final Fantasy XV that lengthens the night. Its scientific definition is a mutant strain of Plasmodium malariae. It is a plague that has afflicted the denizens of Eos since antiquity. The plasmodia responsible for the contagion mutated from insect-borne malarial parasites that had incubated within human hosts.
More daemons have been appearing recently, which people attribute to the longer nights. Only the Oracle, the current one being Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, can keep the plague at bay and stop the world from plunging into perpetual darkness where daemons will take over. The Starscourge is a cloud of photosynthetic organisms that drink light before it reaches the ground. It is the ultimate source of daemons as commonly occurring parasitic protozoa. Those afflicted with advanced stages of Starscourge exude black mist called miasma from their bodies. The plague also affects wildlife, creating abnormally strong creatures that exhibit increasingly violent behavior.
The reports on the Starscourge the player can find in Chapters 13 and 14 are collected in the Datalog in the Windows and Royal Editions. In Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn the player can find Chief Besithia's journal entries that include some of Verstael Besithia's hypotheses on the plague.
Appellation of organisms infected by a mutant strain of Plasmodium malariae. Once introduced to a body, the photophobic parasites exert full control, rapidly distorting physiology and manipulating behavior so as to render their hosts' original forms virtually indiscernible while also dispersing a light-absorbing miasma.Loading screen description "Daemons"
Little if anything is known about the origins of the Starscourge. It appeared at some point in the distant past of Eos; in the German localization, Ardyn Izunia says the Starscourge originated from the Meteor of the Six, but it is not stated outright in other versions. The plague emerged millennia prior to the events of Final Fantasy XV, and massacred the populace by mutating humans and animals alike into daemons, creatures that thrive in darkness who prey on anyone not infected by the Starscourge. Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future- describes it as an incurable malady had spread among the people and those who became afflicted were plunged into despair, some seeing it as a curse or divine punishment.
Two thousand years ago the Astral god Bahamut put his plan to purge the Starscourge into motion. In Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future-, it is said he had wanted to purge the planet itself of life, but during the War of the Astrals the other deities absorbed his Teraflare, and thus the attempt was thwarted. Though this part of the war is unknown to man, Bahamut's next plan to purge the Scourge became the prophecy of the True King.
Bahamut hand-picked two bloodlines, one to become the Crystal's protectors, and the other the first Oracle. The Oracle has the power to counteract the Starscourge and hold it at bay, and her bloodline became the royalty of Tenebrae. The bloodline that protects the Crystal became the Lucian kings, who are granted power to combat daemons and be empowered by the Crystal, the soul of the star produced by the planet itself that exudes great magical power.
The plague came to inhabit the soul of Ardyn Lucis Caelum, a healer who was to be the first king of Lucis. He had tried to save the world as the Crystal's Chosen by absorbing the plague into himself, but though he could keep it contained within his body, he could not truly eradicate it. The taint led to the Crystal rejecting him, and Ardyn's younger brother, Somnus, took up the mantle of Eos's savior in Ardyn's stead. The darkness was subdued through Somnus's efforts, and the Cosmogony extols how was aided by the Oracle, the Astrals, and the Crystal, and conjured a collection of glaives whose light destroyed the Starscourge. The Final Fantasy XV Scenario Ultimania posits that the power of the royal arms, combined with the power of the Crystal, can destroy the Starscourge. However, Ardyn had become immortal, and as long he lingers, the darkness can return. Ostracized by everyone, Ardyn was locked away and forgotten, and a new era of peace began. Ardyn would eventually take the surname of "Izunia" and vow to have his revenge on the Caelum dynasty and the Crystal.
The Astrals' last gift before they fell into a deep sleep in wait for the Chosen King was the Ring of the Lucii, which would house the souls of the Lucian kings. The Lucian royalty can combine their powers across generations via the bonding of the souls, as the one who wears the ring can wield the powers of the kings of old. The final king will be crowned the True King who will purge the Starscourge at the cost of his own life. This became the prophecy: "When darkness veils the world, the King of Light shall come." With the plan to cleanse the world of the Starscourge in motion, Bahamut also disappeared from Eos, and the tales of the Astrals became but legend.
The True King is said to be even more powerful than the gods and to have the power to banish the darkness from the world. The Lucian kings are sworn to protect the Crystal until that day arrives. The Final Fantasy XV Scenario Ultimania describes the Crystal as having immense magical power, but that the kings of Lucis don't wield its full potential; rather, they have the responsibility of protecting it. The Crystal picks the "Chosen King" when disaster comes to the world.
In Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, Ardyn describes the Starscourge as: "It is from my body the daemon spawn begin. Thence they go and make daemons of men." Earlier, he described it as: "In an age long past, an incurable scourge ravaged mankind. A tiny menace that twisted men into monsters, the likes of which you've seen. In Lucis lived a savior that could cure the afflicted. His body would come to host myriad daemons, that countless lives be spared." In Episode Ardyn Prologue, Ardyn describes the Starscourge as "The Starscourge is a disease. We must not condemn our fellow man and exile them as if they were monsters."
After two millennia of captivity Ardyn was released by Verstael Besithia in M.E. 721, and established himself as chancellor to Iedolas Aldercapt, the emperor of Niflheim. He provided his knowledge to begin his plan for revenge, and with Ardyn's coaxing the empire began to harvest miasma for a magitek infantry. Verstael is an imperial scientist who studies daemons and the Starscourge, having identified its source as a mutant strain of plasmodia as early as M.E. 717. Verstael had learned that the Starscourge—and thus daemons—disappeared from the world long ago, but were slowly being re-introduced, hypothesizing that Niflheim's territorial expansion reactivating dormant plasmodia from the soil was to blame. A mysterious "vanishing disease" ravaged the imperial lands, and wildlife began to mutate at an expedited pace. In his scheme to exact vengeance upon the Lucis Caelum line and the Astrals, Ardyn even subjugated the Astral Ifrit with the Starscourge.
Although the Starscourge is not a new phenomenon, it is poorly understood. For a time the vanishing phenomenon that has people disappear into thin air was not considered to be a disease. In truth, the people who become afflicted disappear when they fully turn into miasma and become daemons. Lady Lunafreya tirelessly travels the world to heal the afflicted, but the plague spreads faster than she can keep up, and the nights grow longer. It is implied that the very planet itself is infected, as daemons manifest from the soil and melt back into it when defeated, and in Final Fantasy XV: Comrades the biologist Sania Yeagre uncovers that frogs and other wildlife are mutating due to the plasmodium festering in the earth itself.
After Ardyn murders Lunafreya, the effects of the Starscourge accelerate. With no heirs, the Oracles' bloodline is extinguished when both Lunafreya and her brother Ravus are killed. Ardyn lures Prince Noctis, the last of the Lucian lineage, to Gralea, the capital of Niflheim, where the Crystal is held imprisoned. The Crystal had always kept the Crown City of Insomnia safe from daemons, and Noctis believes he can save the world if he can salvage it. As Noctis touches the Crystal he is pulled inside it. In an otherworldly dimension that exists on the inside of the Crystal, Noctis meets Bahamut who explains that the former is the True King.
After Noctis disappears, the world is overtaken by darkness. Over the following decade the Starscourge overwhelms Eos, covering the world in an eternal night and plaguing it with daemons. After Noctis awakens ten years later, he returns to the ruins of Insomnia with his friends to stop Ardyn and end the Starscourge. Ardyn pits Noctis against various obstacles on his way to the Citadel, including the daemonified Ifrit, but Noctis overcomes them with the help of his friends and the other Astrals before encountering Ardyn in the Citadel's throne room.
Overpowered by Noctis, Ardyn's body fades away. Noctis summons the spirits of his ancestors to sacrifice himself so he can follow Ardyn's soul into "the beyond." The kings take up arms with the glaives of light that Noctis had brought into the beyond within his own body, and strike Ardyn to destroy the Starscourge corrupting his soul. The darkness is lifted, daemons disappear, and the sun rises. The prophecy fulfilled, the Ring of the Lucii disintegrates as the Lucian bloodline ends with Noctis's death.
Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future- puts forth a different ending where Ardyn accumulates power too great for the True King to purge with the Ring of the Lucii, and Bahamut decides to go forth with his original plan of wiping out all life with Teraflare, now wanting it energized by the darkness of the Scourge itself with a revived Lunafreya's help. Lunafreya is granted the same power Ardyn had 2,000 years ago to absorb the Scourge into her own body, and she uses it to defeat powerful daemons and to heal Aranea and Ifrit, restoring them to their former selves. This eventually turns Lunafreya into a daemon as well, but as Bahamut absorbs the darkness from her to empower his "final summoning", the attempt is thwarted by the other Astrals. Lunafreya, Noctis, Ardyn, the other Astrals and the kings of yore work together to defeat Bahamut once and for all. The Crystal absorbs the Scourge, cleansing the planet, and shatters as magic and Astrals vanish from Eos.
Behind the scenes
The Starscourge taking over and spelling the end of the world could be seen as allusion to various end times described in several world religions. It could also represent a manifested concept of "original sin". To bring "original sin" to absolution and repentance requires one to turn to Jesus Christ as their savior, who came to die for the sins of mankind in the New Testament. In Final Fantasy XV, Noctis can banish the darkness from the world at the cost of his own life. In The Dawn of the Future, Ardyn takes on this role.
Kegare is a prime concept in Shinto, Japan's national religion, describing the importance of cleanliness and the need to wash away impurity, which is believed to stem from disease, filth, and the result of death and bodily harm. Such states of impurity were believed to spawn demons and evil kami. One old belief of Japanese superstition was that sickness was the result of demons. With the Starscourge said to be comprised of that of photosynthetic microorganisms, and the original name for daemon being that of "corpses," (シガイ, Shigai?), the Starscourge works with the context of kegare as a malevolent disease that reanimates the corpses of the dead into unholy creatures of darkness.
Dualism of light and dark has been a theme in the Final Fantasy series since its inception, the crystals and their Warriors of Light representing light. Starscourge also has some resemblance to Chaos from the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy mythology as a corrupting force on the world. Final Fantasy XV was originally part of the subseries as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and several elements were retained. It also resembles Miasma from the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series (produced by a Meteor Parasite), Mist from Final Fantasy IX and games set in Ivalice, as well as Geostigma from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
The (星, Hoshi?) in the Japanese name can mean either "star" or "planet". In Final Fantasy VII it was localized as "Planet", whereas Final Fantasy XV uses "star". "Starscourge" thus means a scourge that infects the planet itself. Scourge is an English noun that refers to "a cause of affliction or calamity".
Its scientific name is Plasmodium malariae, which in the real world is a parasitic protozoa that causes malaria in humans. It is one of several species of Plasmodium parasites that infect humans.
- "Ancient history is marked by the prosperity of the civilization of Solheim. When this civilization was at its peak, the betrayal of one of the six Astral gods, Ifrit, led to a conflict known as the Great War of Old. This was fueled by the spreading of a mysterious parasite, causing the death of millions, and ultimately the fall of Solheim." The Complete Official Guide pg. 318
- Dawn of The Future excerpt: Ardyn and Somnus translated by Autumnstwilight (Accessed: June 10, 2019) at autumnstwilight @tumblr
- Final Fantasy XV Scenario Ultimania Translation Project — Kingdom of Lucis (Accessed: January 18, 2019) at Medium