nailoftheheavens reblogged your photoset and added:
Hnnngh. I have so many feelings about the Lancer quests, and none of them are positive. But, like, in a good way?
Seriously, though, Gridania is screwed up. Marginalised people getting downtrodden by the establishment in Ul’dah? You can stand up for them and be a hero! Limsa doesn’t even really have any downtrodden people, just a few pirates who refuse to go legit. In Gridania, though, the oppressed are vilified and it always ends up in you having to kill them.
Gridania is way more screwed up in its subtext.
Back in the day I did a series of columns about the conflicts that each of the city-states has to deal with. Limsa has to deal with the fact that it’s a city of pirates being run by a former pirates that’s also trying to be a legit government with non-pirate citizens. Ul’dah has to deal with the split between its inherited nobility and the Syndicate, one of which comes from a tradition of service and the other of which comes from a tradition of screw you, got mine, fxxk Ala Mhigo get money. These are all baked right into the premise.
But Gridania? Gridania looks cool from the surface. Dig a little deeper, though, and you realize it’s a mess. The city has such an ingrained hatred of so many things - foreigners, Duskwight elezen, technology - that it literally has no idea to cope with the fact that it desperately needs help wherever it can be found. The security measures on the country’s borders were all dependent on the powerful magic protecting the Black Shroud, magic that has been utterly destroyed by the Calamity. It’s the only city that’s managed to make long-standing peace with one of its nearby beast tribes, and unlike Limsa Lominsa and the ever-acrimonious relationship with the Kobolds, the Sylphs genuinely like Gridania. But Gridania can’t see how that approach could be applied to the constant raiding parties of the Ixali, who are usually coming down from the Highlands simply for lumber and food, not as attackers.
And yes, the oppressed are the villains in Gridania. Both the Archer and Lander quests see you dealing with villains marginalized and ostracized by society who lash back with even greater savagery. You have to kill them. But you can’t kill the system of organized oppression that produced them. It’s telling that out of all the various jobs available in the game, the one plot that indisputably ties a class and a job with Gridania is White Mage - Dragoon heads up to Coerthas, Summoner just happens to be in the region, and Bard deals with someone no longer a part of Gridania’s structure.
Gridania is a nation trying to do better, but it still can’t get over its ingrained racism and separatism. It’s really sad, when you look at it deeply.
Gridania pretty much expects everyone to live like they’re Padjal without the social, physiological, educational and magical benefits of actually being a Padjal. And it’s not even their high standards that are the problem, it’s the absolute inflexibility.
Though at least there’s Buscarron. If there’s ever a movement to reform Gridania, it’ll start at the Druthers.
"Gridania pretty much expects everyone to live like they’re Padjal without the social, physiological, educational and magical benefits of actually being a Padjal."
Frames this shit and hangs it on my wall, because damn if it isn’t an astute summary of the problem with Gridania. Really, this whole conversation is.
I think what is really shocking about discussions about Gridania’s deep-seated social issues are the number of people who either think that the xenophobia in Gridania exists but the racism does not, or that the current system is operational and doesn’t need to be fixed, it just needs to have the bad eggs taken out. Neither of these things are the case. The persistent discrimination against Duskwights, Keepers, Highlanders, and even Lalafells (as discussed in Mother Miounne’s leg of the postmoogle quests) is very real and extends well beyond Gridanians distrusting foreigners, considering that the first two entries on that list are as native to the Shroud as any Midlander or Wildwood.
And as for the latter… the plain fact of the matter is that “bad eggs” are a massive part of the population of the region, depending on how you want to define a “bad egg”. The fact of the matter is that Gridania is clinging to the lifestyle of living in fear of the elementals and defining all elements of their lives around the idea that all-powerful, spiteful, capricious nature spirits have the right idea about how things should be done. And people, out-of-universe, support this failing system because it comes across as outwardly pacifistic and environmentalist. (Never mind that it’s a little hard to apply modern Earth environmentalism/ecology to a fantasy world that is not at our current tech level and does not have our history of pollution, environmental exploitation, natural disasters, or extinction events, and what is good or necessary for us is not necessarily such for them.) In the wake of the Calamity, many things about life in Eorzea are changing, and Gridania’s relative stability prior to such is falling apart without the omnipresent terror of offending the elementals. It makes the people cling harder to old beliefs and remaining stable elements, even though those are one of the biggest problems faced by the nation right now.
(One example of how clinging to the old ways has resulted in a massive injustice towards innocents, is, of course, Quarrymill. The town and its Hearer serve as gatekeepers for incoming immigrants or refugees- anybody who wants to stay in the Shroud must stay a night to see if the elementals will tolerate them. If they don’t, they are kicked out. Ignoring that this is the adult equivalent of children daring each other to spend a night in a haunted house, this is overseen by Charline, who is actively racist and xenophobic towards Duskwights and Highlanders, in a town with a high percentage of people who are more than happy to see any outsiders removed. Post-Calamity, the elementals are barely strong enough to defend the trees of the forest, let alone exert energy chasing out Ala Mhigan refugees, yet they are still used as a justification to turn away anybody Charline doesn’t like.)