"Would you like to go on an immortal journey?" ********************************************************************* _______ _________ _ _________ _ _______ ( ____ \|\ /|\__ __/( ( /|\__ __/( ( /|( ____ \ | ( \/| ) ( | ) ( | \ ( | ) ( | \ ( || ( \/ | (_____ | (___) | | | | \ | | | | | \ | || | (_____ )| ___ | | | | (\ \) | | | | (\ \) || | ____ ) || ( ) | | | | | \ | | | | | \ || | \_ ) /\____) || ) ( |___) (___| ) \ |___) (___| ) \ || (___) | \_______)|/ \|\_______/|/ )_)\_______/|/ )_)(_______) _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ ( ____ \( ___ )( ____ )( ____ \( ____ \ | ( \/| ( ) || ( )|| ( \/| ( \/ | (__ | | | || (____)|| | | (__ | __) | | | || __)| | | __) | ( | | | || (\ ( | | | ( | ) | (___) || ) \ \__| (____/\| (____/\ |/ (_______)|/ \__/(_______/(_______/ _______ _______ ( ____ \|\ /|( ___ ) | ( \/( \ / )| ( ) | | (__ \ (_) / | (___) | | __) ) _ ( | ___ | | ( / ( ) \ | ( ) | | (____/\( / \ )| ) ( | (_______/|/ \||/ \| ********************************************************************* ##################################################################### Supplemental Guide/Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Version 1.12 by Kamatari47 (guitarotoko@gmail.com) ##################################################################### DISCLAIMER: This guide is intended for private, personal use. Any unauthorized reproduction, publication, or distribution of this guide without my express written permission is strictly prohibited. At this time, this guide may be published with permission by gamefaqs.com only; any unauthorized publishers of this guide is committing a violation of copyright. Of course, I can't really do anything to stop you from ripping this thing off GameFAQs and putting it up wherever you please, but it'll be interesting to see if you take the time to delete this sentence first. All information found in this guide was derived from and/or verified through my personal gaming experience. I have endeavored to properly credit all contributions to the best of my knowledge. Table of Contents: I. Introduction II. Tips and Tricks III. Lists IV. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) V. Glitches VI. Save Files VII. Update History/Special Thanks ===================================================================== I. Introduction ===================================================================== This guide is intended to be a comprehensive repository of in-depth information for Sega's Shining Force EXA. It contains little-known information on gameplay principles and strategies derived through the simplest method possible: lots and lots of gameplay. I've spent well over 400 hours on this game, as can be verified through the save files I've contributed to GameFAQs (the latest of which is a Chapter 12 save that shows 300.2 hours of game time). I've made a thorough effort to verify all of my findings, though it's possible that you disagree with the relevance of some of them. You may also disagree with some of the conclusions I've drawn where game strategy is concerned. In both cases, I exhort you to write me -- I will endeavor to post all valid reader contributions in this guide and give proper credit where credit is due. To contribute your tips and tricks or to ask me questions (I will try to post all quality questions, as well as my answers to each question, in Section IV: Frequently Asked Questions), you may either email me at the address listed at the top (and bottom) of the guide or post to the Shining Force EXA board at GameFAQs. The five main sections of the guide are as follows: - Section II: Tips and Tricks is where I will offer strategy-related suggestions and make observations on key points of gameplay. This is also where I will talk about some of the more obscure Shining Force EXA gameplay principles. - Section III: Lists is where I will present a few lists of interest (Ancient Arena locations, Healing Water locations, a complete listing of Core Metal locations, etc.) which, so far, have not been covered in any of the existing guides found on GameFAQs. - Section IV: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) features popular and/or "good" (i.e. thought-provoking, intriguing, and/or worthy of detailed exploration) questions I've collected from emails and the Shining Force EXA message board here at GameFAQs, as well as my attempt to answer each question to the best of my ability. Feel free to ask me questions -- you just may see them answered in this section. - Section V: Glitches charts some of the most unusual (and most likely unintended) occurrences in Shining Force EXA. - Section VI: Save Files is simply a place for me to post more detailed descriptions of the game saves I've uploaded to GameFAQs. Please note that this is NOT meant to be a comprehensive walkthrough. Others have already written those and, for the most part, the walkthrough portions of their guides are functional and useful (many other points of gameplay advice they offer are less useful to erroneous, however, and will be addressed in this guide). This document is meant to be a "companion" text for those in need of further elaboration of points mentioned in the walkthroughs, as well as for those who simply wish to be better Shining Force EXA gamers. You're advised to use the CTRL + F search function to quickly scan this document for a particular topic of interest. ===================================================================== II. Tips and Tricks ===================================================================== GEO-FORTRESS BUILD ORDER * Energy Generator (Mandatory) 1. Training Ground 2. Radar 3(tie). Repair Function 3(tie). Robot Factory 5. Barrier 6. Cannon The above is my personal recommendation for the order in which you should seek to upgrade the Geo-Fortress. The Energy Generator must be upgraded before you can raise the levels of each individual function, so there isn't much to say there. The Training Ground is by far the most useful Geo-Fortress upgrade -- prior to beating the game, it is simply the most effective way to level up and find top-notch equipment corresponding to your current power level. With one notable exception (see the "Infinite Healing Water" sub-section), there is simply no need to "grind" anywhere out in the world (i.e. outside the Geo-Fortress) if you've been spending your Core Metals on the Training Ground. Radar is the second most useful Geo-Fortress upgrade -- aside from its ability to show you the locations of boss monsters, monster generators, and treasure chests, Radar is particularly valuable for its ability to pinpoint the locations of hidden treasures on any map within its effective radius. No matter how good you are at ferreting out hidden treasures, believe me when I say that Radar will show you many items that you'd never find without it. Even better, once you've upgraded this function to its maximum level, you do not even need to switch the Geo-Fortress into Search Mode in order to receive telemetry -- Radar will automatically be "on" regardless of which map you're currently exploring (it still doesn't work on most locations accessed solely from within the Geo-Fortress, however, so you can't scout the Training Ground, Dimension X Metal Tunnel, or Dungeon of Ordeal with it -- though Radar does work within Xeyon Castle) and regardless of which Geo-Fortress mode is currently active. If you've maxed out both the Training Ground and Radar, it's time to pay some attention to the defensive functions. If you've been actively acquiring and spending Core Metals, though, defense is not a problem for you -- the high level of your Energy Generator is enough to ensure that, outside of the last couple of chapters, few Defensive Battles will seriously threaten your Geo-Fortress. Since there isn't anything else to upgrade, however, we might as well invest our extra Cores in one of the three defensive functions (Repair, Robot Factory, Barrier). As you can see above, I favor the approach of upgrading Repair and Robot Factory in equal increments. A souped-up Repair function coupled with switching the Geo-Fortress into Recovery Mode will allow your Photon Converters to rapidly and continuously regenerate any HP they lose during Defensive Battles, and the Converters will also heal any allied units standing near them. Beside your main character and his/her NPC party, there is another group of potential beneficiaries of this healing effect -- robots purchased from the Robot Factory. Defensive-type robots will always hang around the Photon Converter and, as long as you've upgraded your robots to a decent level, they will serve as nigh-impregnable defense for your Photon Converter, leaving your party free to seek out the strategic targets you need to destroy to end the Defensive Battle. It does take a good bit of gold to upgrade the Robot Factory and all its robots, but gold should come easily from your Training Ground runs (selling equipment that you don't need is a particularly profitable endeavor), and with the Repair-and-Robots upgrade approach, you do not need to ever pay any repair fees for your army of robots (unless, of course, you activate the special S-Type robot, which I recommend against except in an emergency -- the firepower it adds is seldom necessary with the overall strength and healing ability of your Geo-Fortress setup, and it simply isn't worth the repair costs to activate the S-Type). An alternative to the Repair-and-Robots upgrade approach is to devote singular focus to upgrading the Barrier function. There are many gamers who swear by Barrier; I am not one of them. The Geo-Fortress Barrier serves as all-purpose damage reduction, and a high-level Barrier does indeed make it nearly impossible to damage your Photon Converters. If you diligently acquire and spend your Core Metals, though, you will seldom need Barrier to make your Photon Converters hard to damage -- the high HP value granted by a high level Energy Generator combined with steady healing from your Repair function once the Defensive Battle has concluded will almost certainly ensure that your Photon Converters all have full HP by the time the next Defensive Battle starts. The Barrier upgrade approach is inferior to the Repair-and-Robots approach in that you lose the robot army defending your Photon Converter (or, to be more exact, the robot army earning experience and gold for you while you go off destroying strategic targets) and that you also lose the healing aura around the Photon Converter, which can be a lifesaver in certain particularly nasty Defensive Battles. You're free to choose whichever approach you like, of course (or experiment with both and try to decide which one you like better), with one caveat: do NOT prioritize the Barrier above the Training Ground. That proposition is just crazy -- there is no way that some damage reduction on your Photon Converters offers equal value to all the character levels/quality equipment/gold/Mythril you stand to gain from making runs through the Training Ground. The Cannon function is useless. Do NOT spend any Core Metals on it whatsoever unless you've already maxed out every other function. Upgrading the Cannon only affects the blast radius of a Cannon shot (a higher-level Cannon has a larger blast radius), the recharge speed of the mechanism (a higher-level Cannon recharges faster), and how much damage it deals when you "call in" a shot -- contrary to what some believe, it does NOT extend the range of potential blasts. Cannon range can only be extended through storyline advancement. With adequately powered-up characters, you should never need to resort to your slow-firing, limited-area-of-effect Cannon to deal damage, and you certainly should not spend any Core Metals on it when there are far worthier functions to upgrade. THE EXPERIENCE SYSTEM Ever wondered how your newly-acquired NPC allies gain levels so quickly at first before dropping to the same leveling pace as your main characters? That phenomenon demonstrates one aspect of Shining Force EXA's experience (EXP) system. Every location in Shining Force EXA has a hidden statistic that I like to call its "area level". The amount of experience your characters receive from each monster kill is never fixed -- rather, the amount of EXP each character receives from a kill depends on two factors: the character's current level and the area level of the location. If the character's current level is lower than the area level, the amount of EXP you receive will be multiplied -- the larger the difference between the two, the higher the multiplier. This is how you receive EXP in the tens of thousands for a low-level NPC ally when you kill a monster, even though the typical "base EXP" (that is, the amount of experience a character receives when his/her level is only slightly lower than the area level) is almost always several hundred to a couple thousand EXP. This is the secret mechanism behind the "super-rapid leveling" phenomenon you experience when you take a low-level character into a high-level location and defeated the enemies populating that area. On the flip side of the token, once your character level equals the area level of a location, your EXP gains will grind to a halt -- you will receive one (1) EXP point for every kill in that area, regardless of the size and power level of the monsters you kill. In the deeper parts of the Training Ground, this can cause a twisted phenomenon where enemies can one-hit KO your characters (due to their inherently high power levels, your inadequate gear/Power Art/Secret Art setups, or both) but will yield only 1 EXP each when you kill them. Please note also that there seem to be a few glitches related to the EXP system -- I've personally noticed that, in the lowest levels of the Training Ground, NPC party members need to be within one character level of the main character in order to advance to the level "cap" of a floor. If they're not within one character level when the main character hits the area level of the floor, they will start earning the minimum of 1 EXP per kill just as if they have reached the level cap (even though they actually have not). For example, on Training Ground floor B49F (area level 184), any NPCs who have not reached level 183 when your main character reaches level 184 will only earn 1 exp per kill made on that floor (assuming that you keep using the same lead character and that he/she stays at level 184), even though they *should* be earning several hundred to a couple thousand EXP per kill (because they have yet to reach the level cap of the location). Perplexingly, any NPC allies who did manage to reach level 183 when your main character "hit the cap" will earn the normal amount of experience. I do not have a complete list of area levels for every location in the game (compiling such a list might consume the rest of my natural life), but here are a couple of tidbits: prior to the game-ending chapters, the highest character level you can reach through "normal" adventuring (i.e. journeying through locations out in the world that are easily accessible prior to the game-ending sequence of events) is level 111 (the area level of the Lake Bark Caverns), whereas the highest character level you can reach through specific training (i.e. through usage of the Training Ground) is level 187 (the level cap of the Training Ground Depths/B50F). After beating the game, you can advance your characters to the maximum level of 200 -- but only one location in the game has sufficiently high area level for you to do so: the Place Beyond Darkness located within the depths of Xeyon Castle. GETTING AHEAD OF THE POWER CURVE The "power curve" is a term I use to refer to the rate of increase in the power levels of the monsters you face at each point of storyline progression. "Getting ahead of the power curve", therefore, means to train your party so that they comfortably exceed the power levels of the threats they face at each storyline juncture. The simplest way to do this is to increase your character levels and collect powerful equipment drops by "grinding" the Training Ground. This method, however, requires that you obtain lots of Core Metals, and it largely neglects a key component of character strength in Shining Force EXA: Power Arts and Secret Arts. There is a simple but often-overlooked way to remedy both problems: explore the "optional" areas! In Chapter 3, you'll be allowed to access a number of locations that may prove initially challenging but will yield great rewards in the long run. These areas contain many Power Art tablets, Prison Rocks (each of which yields a Secret Art as a reward for defeating the imprisoned monster), and Ancient Arenas. If you clear them all, spend the Core Metals you obtain on the Training Ground, and make a few runs through the lowest block of floors you can access in the Training Ground, and you'll find that your characters are now powerful enough that the next few chapters, at least, will be a walk in the park. In other words, you'll have effectively gotten ahead of the power curve. Some of these areas are accompanied by a marked increase in the ferocity of the local fauna, however (your first trips to the Stone Arena, the Dragon Arena, the Lake Bark Caverns, and the Golem Arena located within the Lake Bark Caverns can be nasty surprises of the fatal variety), so you're advised to mix up your exploration with time devoted to strengthening your characters (leveling up, collecting equipment, acquiring Mythril for your Power Arts) at the lowest block of the Training Ground that you can access. The areas you should explore (and what's to be found at each location) are as follows: - North Paora Plains (Prison Rock, Critical Resist Lv2, Ancient Arena: Wolfling) - Northwest Paora Plains (Knockback Resist Lv3) - West Paora Plains (Lightning Resist Lv1, HP Boost Lv5, Ancient Arena: Giant, 3 bottles of Goddess Tears) - West Paora, Sewer (Critical Rate Lv3, leads to Prison Rock and Ancient Arena: Stalker) - Paoraburr Cavern (leads to Altar of Darkness and 5 Darkness Runes) - Paoraburr Trail (Ancient Arena: Lightning) - Ranburr's Tomb (Prison Rock, Critical Rate Lv1) - Ranburr's Tomb, Underpass (Master Guard Lv4, leads to Ancient Arena: Stone) - East Paora Plains (Ancient Arena: Lizard) - Ancient Runed Temple (Prison Rock, Flame Resist Lv1, Avalon's Torso) - Rune Mountain Path (just to see the place) - Clanup Island (ditto) - Paora Plains, East Coast (Prison Rock, Skill Boost Lv5, Ancient Arena: Dragon) - Lake Bark Cavern, North (Concentration Lv2) - Lake Bark Cavern, South (HP Boost Lv8, Ancient Arena: Golem) - Lake Bark, South Point (Petrify Resist Lv2, 5 Darkness Runes) Later in Chapter 10, don't forget to employ the same principle and explore the Sidora Snow Mountain, Canyon optional area, which leads to Ancient Arena: Demon and a crucial Power Art -- Darkness Resist Lv2. DEFENSIVE BATTLES There are two categories of Defensive Battles in Shining Force EXA: mandatory Defensive Battles (which occur when you reach a certain point in the storyline) and "timer" Defensive Battles (which occur after you spend a certain amount of time out in the world). I'm not here to teach you how to fight them; instead, I'm here to explain how you can use Defensive Battles as a primary resource for obtaining precious Core Metals. Up to a certain point in the story, Gilnay, the young Foxling who lives in the Geo-Fortress, will "stock" a Core Metal after every mandatory Defensive Battle you win (you get about 7 of these total -- Gilnay stops stocking Core Metals once all four exits of the Geo-Fortress have been unlocked). Gilnay will also stock a Core after every five "timer" Defensive Battles you win (there is an infinite number of these, of course, but Gilnay does have a "cap" on his stock: by my calculation, he'll stop selling you Core Metals this way after you complete your 12th set of five "timer" Defensive Battles, or 60 "timer" Defensive Battles in all). When you return to the Geo-Fortress after a Defensive Battle, you can buy each Core Metal in Gilnay's inventory for 10,000 gold (if you're crazy, you can also pay him 1,000,000 gold -- you would still get only one Core Metal in return). Early in the game, you can "farm" the timer-based variety of Defensive Battles in order to obtain a large number of Core Metals and use them to upgrade your Training Ground (thus gaining access to a facility where you can strengthen your characters to the point that you really out-distance your opposition in overall power level once you choose to resume the storyline). "Timer" Defensive Battles occur whenever a timer of fixed length (about 20 minutes of real time) counts down to zero (the indicator on the top-right corner of the screen will flash red). The timer will run as long as you're out in the world (i.e. not inside your Geo-Fortress or at one of the locations where no combat normally takes place -- Ruins of Yi'el Village, Cantore Village, and Emperor's Hall, just to name a few): you do not have to be running or fighting for the timer to run down. A little simple math tells us that you'll be allowed to purchase a Core Metal from Gilnay for every two hours of real time (an hour and 40 minutes of waiting around on the world map, about 20 minutes total to fight the five Defensive Battles); that might seem like a lot of time, but hey -- no one said you have to pay attention to your PS2 at all during the waiting! During every 20-minute waiting period, you're perfectly free to (and should) surf the internet, do homework, work on your house/lawn/garden, or even play another video game on a different console -- do whatever you feel like and just check in every 20 minutes to fight a quick Defensive Battle. 24 hours of this will mine Gilnay dry of his 12 Core Metals allocated to "timer" Defensive Battles, and you can easily combine these with the Cores you've found from other adventures to open up four to five new blocks of the Training Ground (strictly speaking, you only need 4-5 Cores for the Training Ground itself, but you'll also need a handful to upgrade your Energy Generator). This is how I managed to upgrade to Training Ground Level 7 before finishing Chapter 3: I found a good spot to grind at Lake Bark and ended up fighting 40 "timer" Defensive Battles there). You can do the same (or better, since I didn't actually milk Gilnay dry of all his "timer" Defensive Battle Cores until much later). NPC (NON-PLAYABLE CHARACTER) PARTY MEMBER RANKING 1. Avalon 2. Garyu 3. Faulklin 4. Duga 5. Maebelle 6. Amitaliri 7. Adam 8. Gadfort First, let's make something very clear: all your NPC party members stink compared to the main characters. Once you start carving Power Arts and finding good equipment, your main characters will outgrow their NPC buddies rapidly (it's a terrible pity that NPCs do not have access to Power Arts), so from the midpoint of the game on, you should not be depending on your NPC allies to deal damage. Instead, you should use them as "meat shields" who draw enemy fire, as support characters who can aid you with healing and status ailment-curing spells (this is why Faulklin is rated so highly), and, once in a while, as characters who can hurt a monster that has an elemental weakness to one of your NPCs' attacks. Also be cautioned that ALL of your NPC allies have terrible resistance ratings versus magic attacks (except attacks of any elemental types they may be immune to) -- against a high-level monster such as a Ghost Master, your NPCs may end up being hindrances which drain your of your Healing Water as you spend bottle upon bottle trying to save them from magic attacks that drain their HP precipitously with every hit. With that said, let's look at the rankings in a bit more detail. Avalon and Garyu are the Tier I NPC allies (and, incidentally, the two secret NPCs) in Shining Force EXA. They have the highest hit points of all the NPCs, and their physical defense values aren't bad, either. With his high-level Light spells, Avalon is probably the most offensively-gifted NPC of them all; Garyu, on the other hand, is the best "meat shield" in the game -- he can really soak up all kinds of damage -- well, unless it's magic damage -- and has the largest sprite among all your characters, making him a perfect candidate for Cyrille to hide behind. Do be advised, though, that neither character has any natural HP recovery -- if they take damage, they will never heal any of that damage if you do not expend a Healing Water or visit a Goddess Fountain (well, they'll get a little extra HP if they level up, but the effect of that is miniscule and whatever wounds they've taken will not go away as a result of the level-up). As the best healer of all the NPCs (though there isn't much competition -- Maebelle is the only other character with healing capabilities), Faulklin is in a tier by himself. His healing is always helpful (and don't overlook the power of his Defense Charm-like spell that reduces petrification time), and he's also capable of dealing a little damage once you've upgraded his equipment to Saint of Light or better. He's physically weak, though, and he does have a penchant for running straight at powerful monsters that can (and do) knock him out with one blow. Duga is the next best character. He moves fast, heals fast, and is particularly good versus enemies who petrify or are weak against Frost Magic. He is not, however, very sturdy at all versus either physical or magic attacks. Maebelle is listed next simply because she has the ability to heal (though her healing is vastly inferior to Faulklin's healing) and because she can do a little long-distance damage, particularly after she learns her Light Magic spells. Amitaliri is actually one of the best damage-dealing NPC allies due to her large variety of potent magic spells, but she just isn't sturdy enough to be ranked any higher. Adam and Gadfort are clearly the most inferior characters of the lot. Both of them take damage badly from physical or magic attacks (and especially from magic attacks), and neither offers enough of an offensive punch to counteract their defensive shortcomings. At least Adam heals fast; Gadfort is just a failure all around. THE PRIMER ON CHARACTER STRENGTH When RPG gamers talk to each other about a game, it's common for them to refer to their characters by character level ("hey, my Undead Warlock got to level 60! He's awesome now!"). You really can't do that with Shining Force EXA, however, because character level alone is a poor measuring statistic for character strength. This is because, relatively speaking, character stats rise very slowly if leveling up is your sole method of character advancement. In fact, leveling up probably ranks a distant third in terms of impact among the various factors that contribute to overall character strength: 1. Power Arts 2. Equipment 3. Character level 4. Secret Arts Power Arts are by far the speediest and most substantial way to "beef up" your playable characters, though it is highly expensive in terms of the Mythril required -- it costs a lot of Mythril just to max out one level of a given Power Art, and there are certain Power Arts that you absolutely want to keep maxed (i.e. fully carve every level of that Power Art that you've so far obtained) at all times. If you devote some time to Mythril collection and carve your Power Arts dutifully, however, you'll certainly like the results -- a well-carved set of Power Arts can easily make advancement through the storyline segments a breeze, and you're going to have to max a slew of Power Arts to stand even a chance of surviving the toughest monsters in the game (i.e. those found on the lower floors of the Training Ground and in Xeyon Castle). In the next sub-section, I will talk a little more about which Power Arts you should prioritize over others for each character. The next most important thing to do on your quest for stronger characters is to seek out better equipment for them. Finding "better" equipment is only a very small part of this endeavor: for the most part, you can find higher-class equipment in places with higher area level (there are a few "activated drops" which require a little work -- more on this later). You'll also spend a little time getting together the gold necessary for Gantetsu to temper your gear for maximum enhancement bonuses (especially if his forging level is high). However, by far the most time-consuming -- yet ultimately the most rewarding -- part of equipment hunting will be to find gear with a proper combination of useful enchantment mods (hereafter referred to as simply "mods"). More on all of this in a later sub-section. Character level ranks a distant third compared to the two factors discussed above. Yes, you do gain some HP, MP, STR, DEX, and INT (and, towards the end of your character level progression [i.e. from level 100 to 200], a few points of Absolute Defense as well), but the magnitude of these stat increases is pitifully small compared to the overall strength you gain from Power Arts and premium equipment mods. In fact, it could take upwards of 30-40 level-ups for you to match the stat gain from fully carving just one level of a Power Art. This is why you can't really say "my character is level xx" and expect that to mean much of anything -- it'd be much more productive if you list the Power Arts you've maxed and the general equipment setup you're using instead. A level 50 character with maxed Power Arts (insofar as the ones you can find at that stage of the game) and decent equipment can easily outfight, say, a level 100 character who hasn't been carving Power Arts or swapping for better gear. Secret Arts are fairly limited in scope -- you can only carve one per equipment type at a time -- and that translates into their generally low impact on gameplay. Aside from one notable exception (Goddess Blessing), Secret Arts are mostly used so that their special characteristics can help cover up some weaknesses in your characters' stats (e.g. carving Conceal Weakness on Toma's shield to protect yourself against high-critical rate monsters such as Arc Dragons), to add an extra dimension to your strategy (e.g. using Devil Spark to raise two-handed weapon attack speed up a class, using Darkness Awakened to add a HP Absorb effect to your melee attacks), or to simply get a minor boost for your stats (e.g. Oracle's Shield, Earth Talisman). "BEST" POWER ARTS The first rule of carving Power Arts is this: if the Power Art is of the "Killer" (increases attack power against an enemy race/type) or "Pursuit" (increases attack power against enemies of an elemental classification) type, max it. Yes, it'll cost an arm and a leg (or whatever the Mythril equivalent is for such limb loss), but it's worth it -- maxed Killer/Pursuit Power Arts can and often do make the difference between a long, grueling 30 minute fight (longer if you're only dealing 1 damage per hit and therefore trying to give a monster the death of a thousand paper cuts -- trust me, something like this will happen to you sooner or later) and an easy, breezy 10-second skirmish. You also have a far higher chance of surviving against hard-hitting monsters if you can deal enough damage to finish them off quickly, and that's exactly what Killer/Pursuit Power Arts are for. The next Power Art you should try to max is HP Boost. As I will explain in greater detail later on, HP is the most important stat when it comes to survival -- your characters simply have a lot more HP than DEF (physical defense), elemental resistance, and Absolute Defense, so any percentage gains you make in HP nets you a larger numerical increase compared to similar gains in any of the other defense-based stats. HP Boost is more effective for Toma than it is for Cyrille, because Toma has a far higher base HP and a higher HP increase multiplier (meaning he gets much more HP from leveling up than does Cyrille), but both characters should definitely prioritize this Power Art and keep it maxed. The next most important Power Art is Master Guard. This is also a Power Art that both characters should keep maxed at all times, because it boosts the DEF (physical defense) stat, and the majority of the enemies in the game attack with primarily physical attacks (as opposed to heavy usage of magic attacks, a strategy employed by a much smaller percentage of monsters). This Power Art isn't as effective as HP Boost, however, because there still are some tough enemies which primarily use magic, and 100% magic attacks (i.e. a pure magic spell as opposed to a physical attack boosted with some magic damage conferred by an elemental magic property like Lightning Attack) against your characters ignore the DEF stat when calculating how much damage will be inflicted. There's one more "vital" Power Art that you should try to keep maxed: Weapon Attack. This increases base attack power and is another Power Art better suited for Toma's game than Cyrille's. In fact, if you favor a magic-based approach for Cyrille, you do not NEED this Power Art at all; however, I would advise you to keep it maxed nonetheless, because Cyrille is physically fragile (a function of her relatively low HP) and you'll probably need to use some of her crossbow tricks to dispatch a few of the toughest monsters or to get yourself out of a tight spot. By maxing your Weapon Attack Power Art, you'll be able to deliver more damage with each crossbow bolt, and that could be a timesaver (and, occasionally, a lifesaver as well). After those "big four" Power Arts, what you carve is largely up to you. A melee-minded Toma should max Quick Swing and then start carving the various tech-effect Power Arts: Critical Attack, Critical Rate, Knockback Attack, Stun Attack, etc. An "archer" Cyrille should probably carve the same set of Power Arts -- except for Quick Swing (which has no effect on crossbows). A "mage" Cyrille should instead go for MP Boost, MP Regenerate, Concentration, and Magic Casting before moving on to the various magic attack-boosting Power Arts (i.e. Flame Magic, Frost Magic, Lightning Magic, Light Magic, Dark Magic). If you're having trouble dealing with enemy magic attacks in the latter chapters of the storyline or in the various dungeons (Training Ground, Dimension X Metal Tunnel, Dungeon of Ordeal, Xeyon Castle), prioritize the elemental magic resistance Power Arts (Flame Resist, Frost Resist, Lightning Resist, Light Resist, Darkness Resist) and Absolute Defense. If petrification is a problem, you could try to max Petrify Resist, though it's usually more effective to carry some Defense Charms, take Faulklin along to "thaw" you if you do get petrified, and collect equipment that increase your Recover Stone rating. EQUIPMENT HUNTING The quest to find quality equipment comprises a key component of the overall drive to bolster character strength, and there are a few things you should be aware of. First, don't pay any attention at all to Bornay -- the power level of the equipment he sells is tied to the advancement of the storyline, and if you get ahead of the power curve early on and use the Training Ground, the equipment drops you'll collect will generally be much, much better than anything Bornay has to offer. Secondly, be sure to limit your gear hunting to locations with a sufficiently high area level -- while area level does not affect your probability of getting a particular piece of gear as an item drop, you MUST grind places with high area level in order to get quality mods on an item. For example, you can find the Storm Shot -- a top-tier crossbow -- from the low-level mobs at Raska Snowfield, and it drops about equally as often as the lower-tier items the monsters there drop. If you want a Storm Shot with a high-end mod like Attack +100, however, Raska Snowfield is completely useless to you -- that mod is simply "too good" for that area, and you must grind locations with higher area level to acquire a Storm Shot with that mod. Chests and monsters in Xeyon Castle will yield the highest-tier gear in the game (including the best equipment in both the armor and headgear classes for each character) with the best selection of mods and highest enhancement numbers (though you can get gear drops with an equal range of possible mods and an equal "ceiling" for enhancement numbers -- +9 -- at Training Ground floors B46F to B49F), but that's not a practical spot for equipment hunting because you can't access it until after you beat the game. Those looking to jump way ahead of the power curve in the early chapters should grind Training Ground floors B34F to B49F (gear is only available on the non-boss floors, of course). "Elite" (large and glowing) monsters and treasure chests on those floors will yield the best possible equipment, in terms of both gear types and potential mods, that you can get prior to beating the game, and I personally recommend heavy usage of either B34F (the Legion swarms on that floor are far less threatening than the fauna found on B36F and later) or B36F-B39F (by repeatedly grinding this block of the Training Ground, you can rack up a ton of Mythril by exploiting the Hell Guardians on B40F before you warp back to the Geo-Fortress). Keep in mind that mods with higher Mythril values (this being how much you get from that particular mod when you go to the Power Arts/Secret Arts control panel and choose to extract Mythril from a piece of equipment) will drop less frequently than mods with lower equivalent values, so some patience is necessary during your equipment-hunting runs if you want to find gear with a set of two fantastic mods. If you ever run into a room containing three to six treasure chests on an equipment-hunting run at the Training Ground, it's a good idea to hit R3 and save your game at the Geo-Fortress before opening the chests -- that way, you can repeatedly load your game until the chests yield a quality piece of gear. Some of the best equipment in the game are what I call "activated drops" -- they will not drop even in areas with sufficiently high area level unless you've found your first specimen of that type of gear at a specific location. After you get your first item of that type, it will be "activated" and start dropping from the usual sources (chests, elite monsters) just about anywhere in the game (yes, you can get the likes of the Metal Pain and Evil Worship as drops from, say, the Monster Generator in Lakton Highlands -- as long as you've activated those items). After activating these drops, however, you should try to hunt for them in high-level areas -- since the quality of equipment mods is tied to area level, you'll get drops with much better mods in places with high area level. Here's a list of the items I'm aware of that are activated drops, as well as the locations that contain the first specimens of each of these items: - Stone Bracelet (Ancient Arena: Ice) - Quickness Ring (Ancient Arena: Succubus) - Necromancer (Ancient Arena: Skeleton) - Mephisto Brace (Ancient Arena: Steel) - Evil Ring (Ancient Arena: Impact) - Chaos Breaker (Ancient Arena: Stone) - Evil Worship (Ancient Arena: Demon) - Metal Pain (Ancient Arena: Sand Worm) - Berserk Ring (Ancient Arena: Dragon) - *Aurora Bow (Ancient Arena: Golem) - **Phoenix Clothes (Xeyon Castle) - **Phoenix Helm (Xeyon Castle) - **Noble White (Xeyon Castle) - **Blue Rose (Xeyon Castle) - ***Kill Bracelet (Ancient Arena: Legion) * You can also "activate" this item by talking to Maebelle after she reaches level 90. ** These are not exactly "activated drops" in the same way as the other items -- they're not found in specific spots like the Arena-based items, but will instead drop normally (i.e. from monsters and chests) in Xeyon Castle. You must, however, get your first pieces of these items in Xeyon before they will drop anywhere else, which means that they're strictly post-game equipment (and shouldn't be counted on to get you ahead of the power curve). *** This is the key reward from the 21st and final Ancient Arena. You will not be able to acquire this item before beating the game, though it does drop normally once you've "activated" it by clearing the Legion Arena. "BEST" EQUIPMENT The first thing you should be aware of is that the term "best" is far less dependent on the name of the gear than it is on what mods that piece of gear carries; you'll often find that great mods can and do make inferior base material better than higher-class gear with weak mods. You should also know that some statistically inferior items may have "keep value" because of the special properties unique to that item (the Pandemonium is a perfect example). Look below for summaries on what's generally considered to be the "best" items of each equipment class, as well as which mods are considered to be the most effective when found on those items. A. One-Handed Weapons The Oni Cleaver has the highest base attack rating, but it's disqualified from the conversation on account of being extremely slow and unreliable. The Aerial Saber and Chaos Breaker are basically tied as the second-best items in this class -- the Aerial Saber has faster attack speed and longer combos, whereas the Chaos Breaker has a higher base attack rating (second-best among all one-handed weapons, in fact). It is the Darkness Sword, however, that takes the prize as the hands-down best one-handed weapon and, indeed, the best weapon in the game. It has a base attack value of 62, good for only third among one-handed weapons, but nothing can compete with the Darkness Sword for the length of its combo -- a whopping 16 hits! Because you deliver more damage with each successive hit of a combo, it's possible to cobble together a setup which combine the Darkness Sword's obscenely-long combo with combo damage multipliers and the HP Absorb status effect to deliver unparalleled damage AND healing with every hit (more on this setup later). The Darkness Sword also has fast attack speed (on par with the Aerial Saber), MP Absorb (you absorb some MP from the enemy with every hit you land), and Stone Attack (this is particularly useful, as it petrifies enemies and allows for quick kills). The mods you're looking for on one-handed weapons are Attack +100 (which dramatically increases the attack power of the weapon) and Chain Attack+ (which increases attack power by 20% with each successive hit of a combo -- highly useful because the best one-handed weapons are known for long combos executed with blinding speed). Life Drain+ is also a mod of some interest, because the HP Absorb effect it offers is a key ingredient in the ultimate Darkness Sword setup, and you should certainly seek the mod for your Darkness Sword if you're unable to find an "ultimate" specimen with both Attack +100 and Chain Attack+ (and trust me, this exact combination of mods is very hard to find -- you can get one or the other without too much trouble, but these two mods just don't appear together very often). B. Two-Handed Weapons The best two-handed weapons are the Taros Sword and Metal Pain. Those two weapons have the highest base attack values among two-handed weapons (243 for Taros Sword, 263 for Metal Pain). With higher base attack, longer combos, a higher critical attack multiplier, and a higher Knockback Attack rating, the Metal Pain is generally superior -- do note, however, that the Taros Sword has a higher critical rate and slightly faster attack speed. It may behoove you to use the Taros Sword over the Metal Pain if, by some combination of Quick Swing and Secret Arts (Rough and Ready, Devil Spark), you can raise your Taros Sword to a higher attack speed class and can't quite do the same with a Metal Pain. Another two-handed weapon of interest is the Pandemonium. This weapon simply can't compare with the top two for attack power (its base attack value is only 181), but it has a slew of useful effects: HP Absorb, MP Absorb, Stone Attack, and a charge attack that confers temporary invincibility (Unrivaled Attack). The Pandemonium's ability to petrify enemies and critical-hit them to death while absorbing their HP makes it Toma's weapon of choice for the middle floors of the Training Ground, though you really want to switch to a Darkness Sword for the lowest three blocks of floors -- the number of monsters immune to either HP Absorb or Stone Attack will increase on those floors, and you'll be better served there by switching to a one-handed weapon to improve your physical defense, as well as allow your shield protect you from Float/Knockdown/Knockback/Stun and other unsavory/potentially fatal tech effects. Two-handed weapons specialize in sheer attack power, so the primary mod you're looking for is Attack +100. Just one of these mods will net you a major increase in attack power, and it'll be even better if you can find a Taros Sword or Metal Pain with Attack +100 & Attack +50 (rare) or two Attack +100 mods (two-handed weapons are the only weapon type capable of this amazing mod combination, but it's nearly impossible to find). A second mod of interest for two-handed weapons is Godspeed, which can combine with Devil Spark to elevate your weapon's attack speed rating to a higher class -- a highly useful combination to utilize if you don't yet have enough levels of the Quick Swing Power Art to really rev up the speed of your two-handed weapon swings. C. Crossbows Three crossbows share the highest base attack value of 32 for this weapon class: Lunar Shot, Aurora Bow, and Storm Shot. Since the primary strength of crossbows is their ability to get off a lot of shots in a short amount of time, the Lunar Shot is not going to be what you're looking for -- it has by far the slowest attack speed of the three. The Aurora Bow has an 8-hit combo to the Storm Shot's 4-hit combo (though the impact of this is limited by the fact that crossbows do not inflict more damage with each successive combo hit like the other three weapon types), a higher critical rate, and a higher critical damage multiplier; that said, I'm going to give the Storm Shot a slight edge as the "best" crossbow because, in addition to a better Stun Attack and Knockback rating, the Storm Shot has the best attack speed of any crossbow, and attack speed is everything for this weapon type. Note that the Storm Shot has an elemental attack attribute (in this case, Lightning Attack): this means that bolts from this crossbow will inflict extra damage on enemies vulnerable to Lightning magic (on the flip side, it will inflict less damage on enemies with high resistance against Lightning magic), which can be an extra boost if you find yourself trying to peck to death monsters with high physical constitution but a general weakness to elemental magic attacks. Like with Toma's weapons, the first mod you're looking for on a crossbow is Attack +100. Since you're not going to find a crossbow with two mods of the "Attack +" variety (that type of mod combination only appears on bracelets and Toma's two-handed weapons) or a combination of the Attack +100 mod with the Power +100 mod (the "Attack +" series of mods and "Power +" series of mods are mutually exclusive for crossbows), the secondary mod you should be looking for is Critical++, which raises your critical rate and critical damage multiplier -- a way to deliver even more damage to your enemies when you roll a critical hit with your crossbow bolts. D. Books There pretty much isn't a "best" book: there are six books that each offer something the others don't. The Volcanon Logs has the highest Flame Magic attack power and the most complete collection of Flame Magic spells; the Absolute Zero has the most complete collection of Frost Magic spells; the Book of Thor has the most complete collection of Lightning Magic spells and the highest melee attack power for books (for whatever that's worth); the Creation Book has the highest magic attack power for Frost Magic and Lightning Magic, as well as the second-highest attack power for Flame Magic, but does not have the most useful spells for any of the three elemental magic types (though it does give access to Hell Blast Lv.3); the Evil Worship has the highest attack power for both Light Magic and Dark Magic, as well as the best Dark Magic spells and some of the best Light Magic spells (i.e. Holy Lv.3, Avalon Nova); and you'll need the Gaia Codex (second-highest Light Magic attack power) to use Gaia Nova, a very powerful class of anti-unit Light Magic spells. Unlike the other three weapon classes, you are NOT looking for the Attack +100 mod for your books: slow attack speed and pitiful reach make books the most pathetic weapons in the game when used in melee situations (you also have to get very close to enemy mobs in order to use your books as melee weapons, and that could be a fatal disaster for Cyrille -- her HP is simply too low to risk going toe-to-toe with powerful monsters instead of picking them off from a safe distance). The mod of choice for books is Chaos Element, which raises the attack power of all elemental magic types by 30%. If you cannot find Chaos Element for your book, you can also try for the "Element" mod that best suits your book, where the specific element you're looking for is whatever elemental magic type your book specializes in. In other words, Flame Element is good for Volcanon Logs, Ice Element is good for Absolute Zero, Thunder Element is good for Book of Thor, Shining Element is good for Gaia Codex, so on and so forth. The secondary mod you're looking for here is Soul +50, which gives you quite a bit more MP to cast all those nifty spells with. E. Shields/Chains The Zenus Shield is hands-down the best shield in the game: it has the best stats all around (DEF, tech resistance, petrify resistance), and also confers a +15 boost to your resistance against all types of elementally-aligned (that is, non-neutral) magic attacks. Likewise, the Zhirra Chain offers the same caliber of bonuses for Cyrille: best stats for its equipment class, +15 boost to elemental magic resistance, as well as 20 extra points of Absolute Defense to boot. One thing to keep in mind is that at a high character strength rating (i.e. maxed Power Arts, character level 100 and above), top-tier shields and chains completely eliminate any possibility of a Float/Stun/Knockback/Knockdown attack succeeding on your character (even if your character is not using Secret Arts or equipment mods tailored to counter those tech effects). Have Toma switch to a two-handed weapon, however, and you'll find that you're once again susceptible to all such effects despite your maxed Power Arts. This is another reason why, against high-level monsters, it's far more productive for Toma to swap to a one-handed weapon (preferably a quality Darkness Sword) instead of sticking with a two-handed weapon. The developers of Shining Force EXA did something really annoying when it came to shield/chain mods: they made the top four mods for this equipment class -- Shield Guard+, Counterattack+, Medusa Guard, and Resist Critical +30 -- mutually exclusive. In other words, it is impossible to find a shield or chain that carries two of those four mods in any combination. The best mod of the four is probably Shield Guard+ (simply because every little bit of physical defense helps against the toughest monsters in the game, and that's what this mod provides), though you really should store backup shields and chains with the Counterattack+ mod (in situations where you find that you need to deal some extra damage) and ones with the Medusa Guard mod (to be used when venturing into areas populated by enemies with powerful Stone Attacks). In case you're wondering -- no, you cannot find two Shield Guard+ mods on the same shield or chain, and the same holds true for Counterattack+ and Medusa Guard. Resist Critical +30 is also useful, but it's not as useful as the three mods listed above, and you could always just carve the Conceal Weakness Secret Art on your shield/chain or the Third Eye Secret Art on your armor to compensate for not using a shield or chain enchanted with this mod. The best candidate for the second mod slot on your shields and chains is Technique +100. The Balance +50, Resist Knockback +30, and Resist Stun +30 mods may provide larger numerical stat boosts, but as I've mentioned, you're practically immune against those effects at a sufficiently high character strength rating (this characteristic is evident for Cyrille at all times and for Toma when he's using a one-handed weapon), so there's no point in further improving your defenses against them. Technique +100 will provide minor boosts to two of those three non-essential stats (Resist Knockback and Resist Stun), and it will also confer a bonus to your critical attack rating, which in turn grant you a higher chance of scoring a critical hit. Note that your critical attack rating only applies to melee attacks -- those who play "mage" Cyrille (who usually does not do any melee fighting at all) may want to grab the Balance +50 mod instead. F. Headgear The Phoenix Helm (for Toma) and the Blue Rose (for Cyrille) are widely held to be the best defensive headgear in the game. Problem is, they do not start dropping until after you've beaten the game and gained access to Xeyon Castle. Since you'll be doing the bulk of your training/grinding long before you gain access to Xeyon, you should cast your sights on the headgear you can acquire prior to finishing the game. The best among them are the Shining Guard for Toma and the Geo-Circlet for Cyrille. Both provide some of the highest magic resistance values you'll see for items of this classprior to Xeyon, and resistance against magic attacks is the strong suit of headgear in general. Toma's Blood Helm also deserves a mention, because while it does not offer as high of a DEF increase and tech stats boost as the Shining Guard, it does have superior magic resistance values against three of the five elements (Light, Flame, Lightning), and it also has a special property that grants a decent boost to attack power. I recommend keeping a decently-modded Blood Helm in storage and using it whenever you feel the need to use a setup dedicated to maximum offense. Also, please note that the Geo-Circlet increases attack power, whereas the Blue Rose does not. Even after gaining access to Xeyon, it may behoove you to equip a Geo-Circlet when using crossbows as Cyrille (and use the Blue Rose instead when you're using books). The best headgear in the game have a peculiar tendency of only showing up with one mod instead of two, and you'll be looking for different mods to fill that one slot for each character. Toma players and "archer" Cyrille players should seek the Resist Chaos+++ mod, which offers a marked increase in magic resistance against all five elemental magic types. "Mage" Cyrille players, on the other hand, should shoot for the Magic Power +50 mod, which will dramatically increase the potency of her magic attacks, thereby making them even more devastating. G. Armor Toma's Phoenix Clothes and Cyrille's Noble White are hands-down the best armor in the game; however, they're also not available until after you've beaten the game and reached Xeyon. In terms of base statistics, the second-best armor for each character are actually the Wild Vest 2 (for Toma) and the White Coat 2 (for Cyrille) acquired from the Magus Blacksmith sidequest -- since you cannot find them as normal item drops, however, you probably won't be using them much (the White Vest 2 and White Coat 2 you'll receive from the sidequest have terrible mods). For training and grinding purposes, the armor to keep an eye out for are Toma's Shining Armor and Cyrille's Saint Armor. These have the third-best base stats among all items of their class, and they do drop normally in places with sufficiently high area level. The mod combination to pursue on your armor drops is a set of two HP +100 mods. For damage calculation purposes, one point of HP is the equivalent of one point of Absolute Defense (and also the equivalent of one point of the DEF stat -- that is, physical defense -- if the source of the damage is a 100% physical attack). All other factors being equal (maxed Power Arts, sufficiently high character level), your characters have much more HP than they do DEF and Absolute Defense (the differential is especially marked with the latter, because your characters will never get more than about 1000 Absolute Defense each, even at level 200 and with all three levels of the Absolute Defense Power Art maxed). Therefore, you'll get much more "extra" HP from a HP +100 mod on your armor than you will DEF from a Guard +25 mod and Absolute Defense from an Absolute Defense +100 mod. Two HP +100 mods on your armor will go a longer way toward ensuring your survival than any other combination of armor mods, and that's why that mod set is absolutely the #1 mod combination you should look for. H. Rings There are no clear-cut "best" rings in Shining Force EXA. Outside of the special properties offered by each particular ring, all rings, with the exception of the Mythril Ring (which is clearly inferior to all other rings), grant similar bonuses to physical defense (the size of the bonus is contingent on the ring's enhancement level) -- in other words, there's no "tier" hierarchy for rings the way there is for other equipment types. Therefore, the main thing you should do is to look for rings with special properties that either compensate for your character's weaknesses or is a good fit for your character's fighting style. When using one-handed weapons as Toma, equip a good Chain Ring: its special property bolsters your combo damage multiplier and lets you deliver even more damage with each successive combo hit, an effect particularly useful for the Darkness Sword. When using two-handed weapons, Toma should equip a Berserk Ring: you're no longer as dependent on combo damage multipliers, and the Berserk Ring grants a healthy attack power bonus against all enemy types. An "archer" Cyrille should equip a quality Berserk Ring as well. A "mage" Cyrille should use a quality Quickness Ring (because this ring has built-in increases in attack power for all types of offensive magic spells) or a quality Evil Ring (because this ring increases Dark Magic attack power and can potentially match the benefits offered by the Quickness Ring -- as long as you use Dark Magic instead of magic attacks with any other elemental alignment). Most of the time, you should shoot for two HP +100 mods on your rings: what I said in the "Armor" sub-section above is just as valid for rings. You do, however, want to keep an eye out for a Chain Ring with the Life Drain+ mod -- the HP Absorb effect it confers is a key ingredient in Toma's devastating Darkness Sword setup. Keep in mind that rings cannot be enhanced at Gantetsu's forge; in order to find rings with high enhancement level numbers, you should grind high-area level locations. The highest enhancement level number you can find on a ring drop is +9, and +9 rings are found primarily on Training Ground floors B46F to B49F and in Xeyon Castle. Also be advised that accessories (rings and bracelets) drop less frequently than all other equipment types, so some extra patience is necessary during your hunt for a quality ring. I. Bracelets Except for the clearly inferior (plain) Bracelet, all bracelets in the game offer similar increases to elemental resistance ratios (as with rings, the size of the increase is contingent on the bracelet's enhancement level). Therefore, there aren't any clear-cut "best" bracelets either -- the Chaos Moebius, Mephisto Brace, Stone Bracelet, and Kill Bracelet are all useful in particular ways. Beware, though, that it takes a Herculean set of labors to acquire the Kill Bracelet, one of the best bracelets for melee fighters (because it adds to attack power against nearly all enemy races): you must beat the game, access Xeyon Castle, and then clear the Legion Arena (which is not accessible until after you clear all 20 other Ancient Arenas in the game). Of the bracelets you can find prior to beating the game, the Chaos Moebius is better suited for Toma and "archer" Cyrille (because it boosts attack power), whereas the Mephisto Brace is better suited for "mage" Cyrille (it offers a +10 boost to magic attack power for all five elemental magic types). You should also look to store a Stone Bracelet (which raises your Recover Stone stat) with good mods as a "backup" bracelet to equip when venturing into areas infested by monsters with potent Stone Attack capabilities. When using a Chaos Moebius, the mod set you want above all others is a set of two Attack +100 mods. This is, however, rare to the point of being impossible to find (the mod set is actually possible, but it has a most miniscule probability of appearing on any type of "eligible" equipment). You can, however, find a Chaos Moebius with one Attack +100 mod and one Attack +50 mod, and the attack power increase offered by this mod set will be only slightly less potent. You should also keep an eye out for the Chain Attack+ mod (increases attack power by 20% for each successive hit in a combo), which is a key ingredient of Toma's ultimate Darkness Sword setup. When searching for a quality Mephisto Brace for "mage" Cyrille, the mod set you want to see is two Magic Power +50 mods, though this is very rare (I've yet to see this mod set on a Mephisto Brace, though I have found it on a Chaos Moebius), so you'll likely have to settle for a single Magic Power +50 mod (or Magic Power +40/Magic Power +50 if you're lucky enough to get that mod set to appear on a Mephisto Brace) instead. In any case, utilizing the Magic Power + series of mods will bolster Cyrille's magic attack power and make her even more efficient at mob control, the pillar of "mage" Cyrille's game. When considering what to get for "mage" Cyrille's other bracelet mod slot (if you did not get two Magic + mods on your Mephisto Brace), you should give consideration to the Guard +25 mod (which boosts physical defense dramatically) and the Medusa Guard mod (which grants a significant increase to your Recover Stone stat). As for the Stone Bracelet you'll be using against monsters with high Stone Attack ratings, the mod set you want is a pair of Medusa Guard mods, a combination which elevates your Recover Stone stat dramatically and can combine with the Oracle's Shield Secret Art to help you shrug off petrification attempts from even the most fearsome "stoner" monsters. Bracelets also cannot be enhanced at Gantetsu's forge; in order to find bracelets with high enhancement level numbers, you must do your grinding at high-area level locations. The highest enhancement level number you can find on a bracelet drop is +9, and +9 bracelets are primarily found on Training Ground floors B46F-B49F and in Xeyon Castle. Also remember that accessories (rings and bracelets) drop less frequently than all other equipment types, so some extra patience is again necessary for the duration of your bracelet-minded equipment hunting. "BEST" SECRET ARTS Generally, the most useful Secret Art to carve on one-handed weapons, two-handed weapons, and crossbows is Hymn of Power, which grants a bonus to STR-based stats as well as attack power. You may also want to consider Devil Spark for those weapon classes: as a rule of thumb, carve Devil Spark instead of Hymn of Power if doing so will elevate your weapon attack speed to a higher letter class. Players utilizing Toma's Darkness Sword setup, however, should carve Darkness Awakened: this Secret Art simulates the Life Drain/Life Drain+ mod class's HP Absorb effect, and it essentially frees a mod slot on your ring that you could fill with a HP +100 mod (provided you find a ring enchanted with that mod, of course) to make a more durable character. Magic-casting Cyrille players should carve the "Nucleus" class of Secret Arts (which boosts magic power and resistance for each of the five elemental magic types) on their books; the specific Secret Art to carve on each book should correspond to the elemental magic type that that book specializes in. In other words, carve Fire Nucleus on Volcanon Logs, Ice Nucleus on Absolute Zero, Thunder Nucleus on Book of Thor, Light Nucleus on Gaia Codex, so on and so forth. Players using the Evil Worship, which is strong in both Light Magic and Dark Magic, should carve whichever Nucleus would give Cyrille a higher neutral magic attack power (your neutral magic attack power equals the highest elemental magic attack power found among all five elemental magic types, so this is really a question of whether your Light Magic or your Dark Magic is more potent at that point in time). If you keep your Light Magic and Dark Magic Power Arts maxed, then the answer here will most likely be Light Nucleus (because you can carve all six levels of the Light Magic Power Art before beating the game, whereas you can't do so for Dark Magic until you gain access to Xeyon Castle). Note that I have not addressed the Demonic Pact Secret Art -- it's potentially more useful than the Hymn of Power Secret Art for Toma (because it grants a massive HP increase at the cost of MP, which Toma doesn't use anyway), but the focus of this guide happens to be on equipment, Power Arts, Secret Arts, and mods that you can obtain prior to beating the game. By the time you acquire Demonic Pact, you've already effectively beaten the game -- at the very least, you will no longer be able to train or explore the world in a "normal" fashion and with your entire complement of playable and non-playable characters. You will also not be to acquire Demonic Pact if you're going for Cyrille's ending. The most useful Secret Art for shields and chains is Oracle's Shield, which raises magic resistance, resistance against stun attacks, and your Recover Stone stat. You'll also find it necessary to carve Conceal Weakness (raises resistance against critical hits by 100%) against certain boss-level enemies (*cough* Arc Dragon *cough*), and this Secret Art can be a real lifesaver when used properly. Toma and "archer" Cyrille should employ the Earth Talisman Secret Art on their headgear -- doing so will bolster resistance against magic attacks of all elemental alignments. "Mage" Cyrille, on the other hand, should carve Wizard's Lore, which will further supercharge her myriad of deadly magic attacks. The most powerful Secret Art for "mage" Cyrille is actually Magic of Insanity (greatly increases magic attack power at the cost of HP), but I decline to recommend it for much the same reasons as with the Demonic Pact Secret Art for weapons. It is simply not available for training and exploration prior to the sequences leading up to the end of the game, and you can't obtain it if you're trying to beat the game as Toma. Goddess Blessing, which grants a dramatic increase to physical defense, is hands-down the best armor-based Secret Art to use at all times. If you've advanced far enough in the game to have found this Secret Art, carve it and keep it carved. DAMAGE, DEFENSE, AND ABSOLUTE DEFENSE In Shining Force EXA, the basic equation for the relationship between attack, defense, and damage is as follows: Attack Power [of attacking entity] - Total Defense [of defending entity] = Damage Attack power comprises of your base attack value (the stat you see listed under "Attack Power" on your character's info screen), plus whatever bonuses apply to that particular attack (elemental and Killer Art-based attack bonuses, combo damage multiplier, critical hit multiplier [only applies if that particular hit is a critical hit], charge attack multipliers [only applies if that attack is a charge attack], etc.). Total defense is equal to the DEF stat (i.e. physical defense) plus elemental magic resistance (your elemental magic resistance values are represented as percentages, but they're actually stored and calculated as integers similar to the DEF stat -- otherwise, it would not be possible for a sufficiently high elemental resistance percentage to reduce the damage you take from a magic attack to the bare minimum of 1 damage) plus Absolute Defense. For 100% physical attacks, elemental magic resistance is ignored (your resistance values do not add anything to the Total Defense number regardless of how high they are); for 100% magic attacks, the physical defense stat is ignored (basically the reverse of the 100% physical attack scenario). Absolute Defense, the third component in damage reduction, is always "on" -- its value is always subtracted from the attack power value prior to the output of a damage sum for any particular attack. After all three components of damage reduction take effect (i.e. are subtracted from the attack power value), the difference is how much damage the defending entity takes from the attack -- this is the amount of HP the defending entity will lose from being the recipient of the attack, down to a minimum of 1. At a glance of that system, you might think that Absolute Defense is very good... after all, it's always active and reducing damage for you, right? The problem with that conclusion lies in the fact that you'll never get much Absolute Defense -- under 1000 even if your character reaches level 200 and max all three levels of the Absolute Defense Power Art. It's useful to max this Power Art, of course -- free damage reduction is free damage reduction, even if the size of the reduction won't be much help in offsetting damage from high-class monsters that deal 15000 or more damage with every hit. Some players, however, assert that an Absolute Defense +100 mod on your armor is better than a HP +100 mod, and that is just not true. With level 180-ish characters who enjoy a moderately high level of HP Boost (level 8) and a high level of Master Guard (maxed out up to level 10), swapping a HP +100 mod for an Absolute Defense +100 mod results in the gain of about 800 all-purpose damage reduction and the loss of around 6000 (for Toma)/3000 (for Cyrille) HP. Since the "attack-defense=damage" equation tells us that for physical attacks, one point of damage reduction is equivalent to one point of HP, the above trade in armor mods simply makes no mathematical sense: you're absorbing a net loss of about 5000 (Toma)/2000 (Cyrille) whenever you make the trade. The outlook is slightly better for magic attacks: there is the possibility that the extra little bit of damage reduction you gain helps you attain a sufficiently high elemental resistance value that reduces the damage you take from a particular magic attack to the minimum value of 1. This is not a practical possibility to count on, however -- magic attacks that weak aren't likely to deal that much more damage to you had you utilized a HP +100 mod instead, and you'll frequently find that the scenario simply does not materialize -- you're still receiving massive damage from magic attacks, at which point you'll probably really appreciate getting back that extra 5000/2000 HP you traded away via the mod swap. Also, high-level monsters tend to use powerful physical attacks far more often than they use magic (though there are a few that wield magic predominantly -- for example, Ghost Masters and Hell Queens), and you've already seen how bad a proposition it is to trade HP +100 for Absolute Defense +100 when dealing with physical attacks. Absolute Defense is a nice "bonus", but it's nothing more than a distant third among the stats you should increase when trying to improve your durability. HP is the main key to survival. STONE COLD: THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREVENT DEATH BY PETRIFICATION Petrification is one of the most pernicious sources of instant death in Shining Force EXA. This arises from the fact that once petrified, every hit you receive is automatically scored as a critical hit (critical hits ignore physical defense, so they will hurt -- A LOT). In order to construct more effective defenses against petrification, we had best take a look at the basic equation that governs the amount of time a character will be petrified after being hit by an attack bearing the "Stone Attack" special property: Inflict Stone - Recover Stone = Time Petrified Every character, enemy or ally, capable of using a Stone Attack possesses a hidden "Inflict Stone" (my word for it, not official or anything) stat. On the flip side, every character is also equipped with a "Recover Stone" stat (unlike the Inflict Stone stat, this is visible on your playable characters' info screens). When the Inflict Stone stat of the entity launching the Stone Attack is numerically larger than the Recover Stone stat of the entity receiving the attack, the difference between the two numbers will be used to determine the amount of time that the receiving entity will be petrified (and vulnerable to follow-up critical hits). When the receiving entity's Recover Stone stat is numerically larger than the Inflict Stone stat of the attacking entity, however, then the receiving entity will not be petrified at all. In other words, the best way to render enemy Stone Attacks totally ineffective is to boost your Recover Stone stat. Below is a list of mods, Arts, and accessories that improve your Recover Stone rating: - Petrify Resist (Power Art) - Oracle's Shield (Secret Art) - Stone Bracelet (accessory) - Cockatrice Guard/Basilisk Guard/Medusa Guard (equipment mods) I hope the above has sufficiently illustrated why I advised you to seek out a Stone Bracelet with two Medusa Guard mods in an earlier sub-section. In addition to doing that, maxing your Petrify Resist Power Arts, carving the Oracle's Shield Secret Art, and equipping a shield that also has the Medusa Guard mod, there are a couple of other things you could do when facing monsters with potent Stone Attacks. For one, you should always pack a couple of Defense Charms -- when used, these confer a temporary but dramatic boost to your Recover Stone stat, an increase that is usually enough to render you invulnerable to all Stone Attacks for the duration of the Charm's effect. You can also slot Faulklin as one of your NPC party members, as Faulklin is capable of casting a spell that cures petrified allies. Duga is also a useful party member against "stoner" monsters, because he typically casts magic that renders him immune to petrification before leaping into battle, and that makes him an effective "meat shield" who should be used to draw enemy Stone Attacks while you get busy hacking to pieces the monsters launching those attacks. INFINITE HEALING WATER Another thing you could do to ensure your survival is to, well, drink a bottle of Healing Water every time you get hurt. However, since you can only obtain 23 bottles of Healing Water for each main character via normal methods, that kind of approach is going to leave you dry of Healing Water in a hurry. Luckily, there's an inexhaustible source of Healing Water -- Diablo's Palm. Diablo's Palm is an area to the north of East Balcan Desert that you will not be able to access until Chapter 10 at the earliest. It's populated by Medusae, Blaze Golems, and Sand Worms of all shapes and sizes. Diablo's Palm is "quirky" in a number of ways -- the Medusae there will occasionally drop enchanted (i.e. equipped with mods) Chaos Shields and the Blaze Golems there will occasionally drop enchanted Laevateinns and Volcanon Logs, a highly unusual phenomenon since there are no "elite" (i.e. larger, fiercer specimens glowing with a reddish aura) or mini-boss (i.e. larger but not glowing like elites) versions of these monsters present in the area, and you almost never see non-elite, non-mini-boss enemies drop enchanted items anywhere else. It's the Sand Worms in the area, however, that are truly remarkable. The Worm Master of Diablo's Palm (large red-and-brown Sand Worm found inside a pit in the center of the area) will drop 2 bottles of Healing Water for each character when you defeat it the first time, and if you defeat it on any return trips to the areas, you will almost always score an enchanted accessory drop (that is, a ring or bracelet). However, the Worm Master is capable of occasionally dropping 2 bottles of Healing Water of either color instead of an accessory. Likewise, the Greater Worms (both the green ones and the blue-and-green "alpha" variants) in the area are capable of occasionally dropping 1 bottle of Healing Water of either color. In fact, it's more productive to "farm" Greater Worms rather than the Worm Master for Healing Water: since an "alpha" Greater Worm spawns a pack of normal Greater Worms half of the time (the other half of the time, they spawn the much less useful Lesser Worms), you give yourself more chances at a Healing Water drop by hunting packs of Greater Worms (as long as you try to kill all of the normal Greater Worms before killing the "alpha" Worm), and there are also many more Greater Worms in Diablo's Palm than Worm Masters (you'll only be able to fight one Worm Master each trip, after all). Please note, however, that there are three "alpha" Greater Worms which are rooted to specific spots at the corners of the map, and those do not spawn packs of other Sand Worms. Both types of drops are rare occurrences, so you shouldn't expect to rack up any appreciable sum of extra Healing Water in a short period of time. With that said, a good 20-30 hours invested in Diablo's Palm after I hit Chapter 11 left me with 50 bottles of Healing Water for each character, a tremendous boost in my late-game/post-game battles against the toughest monsters in the game. TOMA'S ULTIMATE DARKNESS SWORD SETUP I've talked about it in previous sub-sections, but here I will outline the exact details behind Toma's most potent Darkness Sword setup. The ingredients are as follows: - Darkness Sword with Attack +100 mod (strictly speaking, the mod is optional, but I strongly urge you to find it so that you can craft the most potent setup possible) - Zenus Shield with good mods (bolsters defense and eliminates any chance of being stricken by unsavory tech effects like Knockdown and Float) - Chain Attack+ mod (either on your Darkness Sword or on a bracelet) - HP Absorb status effect (either via the Life Drain/Life Drain+ mod on a ring or the Darkness Awakened Secret Art carved on your Darkness Sword) - Bracelet with at least one Attack +100 mod (again, this attack boost is optional, but I really recommend it) The star of this setup is Chain Attack+. The mod increases attack power by 20% for each successive hit of a combo, and since the Darkness Sword has the longest combo of any weapon at 16 hits and a natural combo damage multiplier to begin with, the amount of damage you can deliver with a Chain Attack+ Darkness Sword bloats to astronomical numbers once you get a few hits into your combo. By the back end of the combo, you'll be dealing upwards of ten million damage to many enemies (as long as you've kept your Power Arts maxed), and few monsters in the game can withstand that kind of onslaught. The HP Absorb effect is fantastic compensation for the one weakness of the setup -- the Darkness Sword's lack of reach. The need to melee enemies at close range to get a Darkness Sword combo going means that you'll be at higher risk of being swarmed by enemies in return, and that could easily result in a speedy and untimely death. HP Absorb nullifies that danger: you'll be gaining as health a percentage of the damage you dish out, and since you're dishing out humongous chunks of damage with your Chain Attack+ Darkness Sword (particularly as you approach the end of your 16-hit combo), every hit is pretty much guaranteed to replenish your entire life bar. As long as you're fighting enemies vulnerable to the HP Absorb status effect, you have enough defense that no monster in the area can knock you out in one hit, and you take care not to fight too many monsters at a time, your Toma literally cannot die. You do need to amend your tactics against enemies immune to HP Absorb (among others, several classes of demons and golems possess such immunity, and they're fairly common sights on the lower floors of the Training Ground and in Xeyon), but this Chain Attack+/Life Drain approach is amazingly effective against most of the toughest monsters in the game, including the quintet of powerful Arc Dragons that populate the 50th and final floor of the Training Ground. Visit the link below to see a video of how I utilized this setup to conquer the final floor of the Training Ground in Chapter 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJPLb-zC_54 You can attempt a two-handed weapon version of this setup with a Metal Pain (preferably one with the Godspeed mod), but it's not going to be quite as effective -- the length of a Metal Pain combo is only 7 hits, so the maximum damage of the setup (on the 7th hit of your combo) would fall far short of the maximum damage of the Darkness Sword setup (which comes on the 16th hit of its combo -- the Darkness Sword has 9 more hits to let the Chain Attack+ damage compound-multiply). Furthermore, the attack speed of the Metal Pain will almost certainly be slower, and you will also be vulnerable to the Knockback/Knockdown/Stun/Float series of tech effects because you're no longer equipping your Zenus Shield. On the plus side, you do enjoy greater reach and a higher damage value for each hit of your 7-hit combo, since the initial attack power of your Metal Pain will certainly be much higher than that of the Darkness Sword. CYRILLE'S CROSSBOW TRICKS Leveling Cyrille up to her level cap is a terrible chore -- while Toma eventually gains enough HP and total defense to survive just about all single-hit attacks in the game, Cyrille's HP will always be too low for her to be anywhere near as sturdy. This means that Cyrille will always be at risk of receiving a one-hit knockout from an enemy physical attack. You really can't try to duplicate Toma's Darkness Sword setup to improve her chances of survival -- you don't get an opportunity to constantly replenish your HP if you die from a single blow. Cyrille is capable, however, of exploiting certain "glitches" in monster behavior and use a couple of crossbow "tricks" to pick off monsters too powerful for her to fight in a normal manner. A. The Phasing Arrow Trick Cyrille's crossbow bolts can shoot through most unopened doors (this works just about anywhere inside Training Ground, for example) if you stand right behind the door, so you can kill a lot of monsters idling in the next room without fear of retaliation (most of the time). Beware, however, of monsters capable of opening doors and monsters which "phase" through walls (e.g. Ghost Masters). B. The Off-Screen Arrow Trick Against monsters with large enough sprites, you can also figure out where exactly they're standing relative to your position and stand just far enough that the monster is off screen and therefore does not detect your presence (thus preventing retaliation), but close enough that your crossbow bolts can hit the enemy as they fly off the screen. This is difficult to grasp the first couple of times you try it, but it can be a foolproof (if often time-consuming) way of killing boss-level monsters. As a matter of fact, this crossbow trick is how I was able to clear many high-difficulty areas (e.g. Ancient Arena: Dragon, Ancient Arena: Golem) when I first encountered them in Chapter 3 during my exploration of the areas outlined in the "getting ahead of the power curve" sub-section. This trick also works with some magic spells, though that variation is even more time-consuming, given the time you'll need to allocate to natural MP recovery (since you'll always have a very limited number of Goddess Tears to use for "instant" MP recovery). C. The Boar-Slaying Arrow This is not really a separate trick, but rather an extension of the Phasing Arrow tactic. It is possible to slay the giant mother boar at North Ilnad Forest with a very low-level character by luring the boar toward the exit to the southeast, trapping it behind the signposts, running back to the other side of the signposts (you should now be standing to the northwest of the trapped boar), and then using crossbow bolts or two-handed weapon swings (provided that you use a two-handed weapon with good reach) to give the boar the death of a thousand paper cuts. The boar's sprite is too large for it to navigate back out of the obstacles, and it can't reach you with its charging attacks if you position yourself carefully. Credit goes to _MasterQ_ for originally posting this on the Shining Force EXA board, and you can watch a clip of the trick in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoPB_tCxFmo Video courtesy of 4skwhyme. MYTHRIL FARMING As you no doubt know, it takes A LOT of Mythril to keep your Power Arts maxed (especially if you're trying to max out all your Killer Arts, the most prohibitively expensive Power Arts of the lot). Millions of Mythril will come easily once you gain access to Xeyon, but what are you to do before then? Well, the first thing you should know is that the Training Ground is a better source for Mythril than any location out in the world: comparatively speaking, you may not get much Mythril from breaking the crystal formations inside the Training Ground, but they're renewable, which you can't say for the crystal clumps found out in the world. The Training Ground will also provide a lot of equipment drops, and you can and should extract the unwanted drops for Mythril back at the Geo-Fortress. Be advised, however, that the amount of Mythril you receive from extraction is not at all dictated by how "good" the base material is; instead, the Mythril value of a piece of gear is equal to the combined Mythril value of its mods -- the better the mods, the more Mythril you get when choosing to extract from that piece of equipment. A Dark Edge with Attack +100, for example, will trade for 32400 Mythril, whereas a Darkness Sword with Anti-Lightning would only fetch 2000 Mythril, despite the fact that the Darkness Sword is generally a much better weapon. You can find out how much Mythril a piece of gear is worth by having Bornay identify the item -- the cost of identifying an item is equal to the combined Mythril value of its mods. A few locations you should visit frequently to gather a lot of Mythril in a short amount of time: - Training Ground B10F - Training Ground B15F - Ancient Arena: Steel - Training Ground B30F - Training Ground B40F All of these places feature heavy concentrations of certain mechanical enemies (specifically, Artillery and Hell Guardians) that always drop a piece of Mythril when defeated. Your strategy should be to ignore the boss monsters at these locations and concentrate on taking out every enemy capable of dropping Mythril. Note that the four Training Ground locations are "boss" floors -- unlike other Training Ground floors, these are not randomly generated, so any Mythril you leave on the ground at these locations will still be there on a future visit. Therefore, it's both possible and recommended for you to use these floors as "Mythril banks" where you can accumulate Mythril drops for future use, especially if you've already hit the maximum Mythril cap of 9,999,999. I'd like to note that Training Ground floor B40F is particularly good for Mythril farming -- as long as you refrain from engaging the Dragotts and Dragonian (the bosses of the area), you can trigger two spawns of reinforcement Hell Guardians (for a total of three sets of Hell Guardians) by killing all Hell Guardians on the map. Since each Hell Guardian will drop a crystal containing 15,000 to 19,000 Mythril, you'll be able to accumulate an incredible sum of Mythril with some repeat visits to this floor. I've personally "banked" 15-20 million Mythril on B40F as a result of repeat visits to the floor, as you can see in this screenshot: http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k253/Kamatari47/Shining%20Force%20Exa/ Mythril.jpg While the Change Mythril equipment mod and Reincarnation Secret Art are also capable of boosting your Mythril acquisition (by turning defeated enemies into Mythril), they're not really worth the effort. Change Mythril's conversion rate is simply too low at 10%, and the paltry amounts of Mythril it adds to your coffers just isn't enough to justify sacrificing a valuable mod slot for it. Quantitatively speaking, Reincarnation is better than Change Mythril, as its conversion rate is higher and it occupies a Secret Art slot rather than an equipment mod slot. The fact that you can't get it until after clearing Ancient Arena: Legion, however, renders it even more useless than Change Mythril: by the time you're finally able to acquire Reincarnation, you'll already be able to access areas where a 15-20 minute training run can get you millions of Mythril, thus eliminating the need for the meager gains made by using Reincarnation. WILD VEST 2 & WHITE COAT 2 In Chapter 13, careful exploration will lead you to a Magus blacksmith who's just chilling amid all the chaos and carnage at the Roof level of the Crimson Palace. Context clues gained from conversation throughout the game will tell you that this is the blacksmith who taught Gantetsu everything he knows, and he will demonstrate his skills for you if you bring him the right kind of ingredients for his armor alchemy. The ingredients he's looking for are your Wild Vest and White Coat: the armor-class equipment your two main characters were using at the very beginning of the game. Bring the Vest and Coat to the blacksmith to have him transform them into the Wild Vest 2 and White Coat 2 (you'll have to make two trips -- he'll only work on the Wild Vest if Toma is the one bringing it to him, and likewise with Cyrille and the White Coat), sturdy armor with probably the second-best base stats for all items of their class (surpassed only by the Phoenix Clothes and Noble White, respectively). You will not be able to obtain the Wild Vest 2 or White Coat 2 via any other method (you can't find them from treasure chests and monster drops), so you should certainly pay a visit to Fadrin, the Magus blacksmith, once you hit Chapter 13. The mods found on your Wild Vest 2 and White Coat 2, however, are substandard (Resist Darkness+ and HP +60), and I would not advise equipping them in place of a good HP +100/HP +100 Shining Armor or Saint Armor. A WORD ABOUT HIDDEN TREASURES There are secret treasures (i.e. treasures hidden in places other than inside treasure chests and locked chests) to be found on at least 75% of the non-Dungeon maps (that is to say, locations out in the world) in Shining Force EXA. The majority of these require very little work to procure -- simply position your character near the right patch of grass/cluster of rocks/storm drain and press Circle. Many of these secret treasures are VERY well-hidden, however, and the aforementioned Radar function of your Geo-Fortress will be a tremendous help in your effort to sniff them all out. There are, however, a few treasures which can be frustratingly hard to procure, and here I'll give a few pointers on how to get them: - West Il'Gonia Valley (treasure chest on a faraway cliff near Narda Checkpoint): 1 Goddess Tears - Cantore Snowfield (treasure chest on an unreachable island): 1 Healing Water (Green) Both of these treasures are contained within chests that you simply can't get to. Luckily, you don't need to make physical contact at all -- simply call in Cyrille, equip a crossbow, and let a crossbow bolt break the chest. The contents of the chest will home in on your location, thereby allowing easy pickup. - West Paora Plains (treasure chest on an island in the stream): 2 Goddess Tears Your first instinct might be to use the crossbow here as well, but that just doesn't work. Instead, try equipping Cyrille with a book capable of casting the "Dark Arrow" class of Dark Magic spells (the level of the spell doesn't matter, since all Dark Arrow spells behave similarly). Cast Dark Arrow toward the island and the energy wave will home in on the chest, and you'll be able to pick up the Goddess Tears after the energy wave breaks the treasure chest. - Raska Snowfield (treasure chest lodged inside a pillar of ice): 3 Light Charms This treasure has probably stymied more Shining Force EXA gamers than anything else in the game. The trick here is to have Cyrille equip a book capable of casting the Ice Spike Lv.2 spell, position her to the northwest of the pillar, highlight Ice Spike Lv.2, and then press AND hold down the Triangle button. Adjust the area-of-effect radius of the spell until the indicator circle is climbing up the northwest face of the pillar, and then release the Triangle button to cast the spell. If done correctly, your ice magic will break the chest and allow you to make off with your hard-earned Light Charms. - Great Bridge, Lower (hidden treasures located on top of lightposts): Gold There are four secret treasures hidden atop the light posts in this area. Only two magic spells are capable of reaching that high -- Hell Blast and Avalon Nova. Equip your character with a weapon that gives access to either spell, stand beneath the light post, and let loose with your spell. Collect the gold when it drops to ground level. ===================================================================== III. Lists ===================================================================== DARKNESS RUNE LOCATIONS Darkness Runes come in sets of 5. There are four sets in the game, which are respectively located at: 1. Ancient Arena: Birdling. 2. Paoraburr Cavern (defeat the Lesser Vampire mini-boss). 3. Gradium Mine (destroy the iron fence with the Geo-Fortress Cannon -- the effective radius of which will not reach this area until Chapter 10 -- and look within the circumference of the fence). 4. Lake Bark, South Point (defeat the Devil Mother mini-boss). Rune set #1 is found in Chapter 2. Sets #2 and #4 can be found as early as Chapter 3. You will not be able to get set #3 until Chapter 9. ANCIENT ARENA LOCATIONS These are sorted according to area level. The earliest chapter during which you can access each arena is parenthesized. *1. Birdling - Lakton Highlands (Chapter 2) 2. Orc - South Ilnad Forest (Chapter 3) 3. Ghost - Cantore Snowfield (Chapter 5) 4. Wolfling - North Paora Plains (Chapter 3) 5. Giant - West Paora Plains (Chapter 3) 6. Lightning - Paoraburr Trail (Chapter 3) 7. Stone - Ranburr's Tomb (Chapter 3) 8. Ice - Raska Snowfield (Chapter 7) 9. Lizard - East Paora Plains (Chapter 3) 10. Impact - West Balcan Desert (Chapter 9) 11. Stalker - West Paora Plains (Chapter 3) 12. Vampire - Gradium Mine (Chapter 10) 13. Succubus - Lake Sidora (Chapter 10) 14. Skeleton - Sidora Snow Mountain (Chapter 10) 15. Steel - Gundestor Cavern (Chapter 5) 16. Demon - Sidora Snow Mountain, Canyon (Chapter 10) 17. Sand Worm - East Balcan Desert (Chapter 10) 18. Flame - Magma Prison, B3F (Chapter 11) 19. Dragon - Paora Plains, East Coast (Chapter 3) 20. Golem - Lake Bark Cavern, South (Chapter 3) **21. Legion - Xeyon, Central 1F (post-game) * Does not have a Geo-Fortress warp gate entry ** Not accessible until after you clear all 20 of the other arenas; does not require a Darkness Rune to access AVALON'S BODY PART LOCATIONS This is a list of locations at which you can find altars containing body parts you need to collect and assemble before resurrecting Avalon as a NPC party member. The locations are generally well-known, but I've also included (in parentheses) information about the earliest chapter during which you can acquire each body part. 1. Sword - Lakton Village (Chapter 2) 2. Left Arm - Altar of Darkness (Chapter 3) 3. Right Arm - Goran-Goran Cave 1F (Chapter 5) 4. Left Leg - Gundestor Cavern (Chapter 5) 5. Right Foot - Old Noswald Castle, Yard (Chapter 5) 6. Torso - Ancient Runed Temple (Chapter 6)* 7. Right Leg - Gradium Mine (Chapter 10)** 8. Left Foot - Mt. Fyrgarum, Base (Chapter 11) * This body part isn't actually inside the Ancient Runed Temple itself; it's found on a mountain path to the south ** This body part is inside a small cabin beyond the iron fence that cannot be destroyed until Chapter 10 HEALING WATER LOCATIONS (GREEN) This is a list of locations where you'll find Healing Water for Toma, as well as how many bottles are found at each location. You can acquire 23 bottles in all without making use of the "infinite" source in Diablo's Palm. The list is sorted according to how early you can acquire each batch of Healing Water, though you may need to visit optional areas or employ the Radar function to find some of these. 1. Ruins of Yi'el Village - 3 (Chapter 1)* 2. Geo-Fortress, Control Room - 5 (Chapter 2) 3. Ancient Arena: Wolfling - 1 (Chapter 3) 4. Ancient Arena: Giant - 1 (Chapter 3) 5. Ancient Arena: Lizard - 1 (Chapter 3) 6. Goran-Goran Cave, 1F - 1 (Chapter 4) 7. Cantore Snowfield - 1 (Chapter 5)** 8. Ancient Arena: Ghost - 1 (Chapter 5) 9. East Il'Gonia Valley - 1 (Chapter 5)*** 10. Tsungura Ice Field - 1 (Chapter 5) 11. Dimension X Metal Tunnel - 2 (Chapter 8) 12. Gradium Mine - 1 (Chapter 10)**** 13. Geo-Fortress, Engineering Block - 1 (Chapter 11)***** 14. Diablo's Palm - 2 (Chapter 11)****** 15. Crimson Palace, 3F - 1 (Chapter 13) * Talk to Hikanay ** Treasure chest on an island in the frozen lake -- use a crossbow *** Hidden treasure located near the entrance to the Temple Ruins **** Access via Gradium Mine, North Quarry ***** Talk to Adam after he joins your party ****** Dropped by the Worm Master the first time you defeat it HEALING WATER LOCATIONS (RED) This is a list of locations where you'll find Healing Water for Cyrille, as well as how many bottles are found at each location. You can acquire 23 bottles in all without making use of the "infinite" source in Diablo's Palm. The list is sorted according to how early you can acquire each batch of Healing Water, though you may need to visit optional areas or employ the Radar function to find some of these. 1. West Il'Gonia Valley - 3 (Chapter 1) 2. Geo-Fortress, Control Room - 5 (Chapter 2) 3. Ancient Arena: Birdling - 1 (Chapter 2) 4. Ancient Arena: Orc - 1 (Chapter 3) 5. Paoraburr Cavern - 1 (Chapter 3) 6. Ancient Arena: Lightning - 1 (Chapter 3) 7. Ancient Arena: Stalker - 1 (Chapter 3) 8. Il'Gonia Valley, Lake Narda - 1 (Chapter 4) 9. Goran-Goran Cave, 1F - 1 (Chapter 5)* 10. Geo-Fortress, West Tower - 1 (Chapter 8)** 11. Ancient Arena: Vampire - 1 (Chapter 10) 12. Gradium Mine - 1 (Chapter 10)*** 13. Geo-Fortress, Engineering Block - 1 (Chapter 11)**** 14. Diablo's Palm - 2 (Chapter 11)***** 15. Ancient Arena: Flame - 1 (Chapter 11) 16. Crimson Palace, 3F - 1 (Chapter 13) * Use the alternate exit from Goran-Goran Cave, 2F that leads to an isolated section of Goran-Goran Cave, 1F ** Check Cyrille's dresser *** Access via Gradium Mine, North Quarry **** Talk to Adam after he's joined your party AND you've advanced him to at least level 60 ***** Dropped by the Worm Master the first time you defeat it GODDESS TEARS LOCATIONS This is a list of locations where you'll find Goddess Tears, as well as how many vials are found at each location. The list is sorted according to how early you can acquire each batch of Goddess Tears, though you may need to visit optional areas to do so. 1. East Il'Gonia Valley - 2 (Chapter 1) 2. Geo-Fortress, Engineering Block - 1 (Chapter 2) 3. West Il'Gonia Valley - 1 (Chapter 3)* 4. West Paora Plains - 2 (Chapter 3)** 5. Cantore Village - 1 (Chapter 5)*** 6. Geo-Fortress, Engineering Block - 3 (Chapter 11)**** * Located inside a chest perched on a distant cliff to the northeast of the entrance to Narda Checkpoint; use a crossbow to break the chest ** Inside a chest sitting on an island in the stream; use the Dark Arrow (any level) magic spell to break the chest *** Inside a chest found within Elder Yoseph's dwelling **** Talk to Adam after he's joined your party AND you've advanced him to at least level 80 LIGHT CHARM LOCATIONS This a list of locations where you'll find Light Charms, as well as how many Charms are found at each location. There are 9 Light Charms total that you can find as "treasures"; do note, however, that Bornay will occasionally put up Light Charms for sale at a price of 5 million gold each, so there is technically an unlimited number of Light Charms in the game (especially after you beat the game -- Bornay will always have Light Charms available for purchase once you have done so). This list is sorted according to how early you can acquire each set of Light Charms, and you may need to visit optional areas to obtain some of them. 1. Geo-Fortress, Engineering Block - 1 (Chapter 2) 2. Geo-Fortress, Residential Block - 1 (Chapter 2)* 3. Il'Gonia Valley, Lake Narda - 1 (Chapter 4) 4. Raska Snowfield - 3 (Chapter 7)** 5. Gradium Mine - 1 (Chapter 10)*** 6. Geo-Fortress, Engineering Block - 1 (Chapter 11)**** 7. Great Bridge, Front Gate - 1 (Chapter 12) * This Light Charm is lodged within one of the bookshelves in the library ** Found in the chest frozen inside a pillar of ice; use the Ice Spike Lv.2 magic spell to break the chest *** Investigate a bookshelf in the small cabin just beyond the iron fence **** Talk to Adam after he's joined your party AND you've advanced him to at least level 110 LEGION GENERATOR LOCATIONS This is a list of areas in Chapter 14 which contain a Legion Generator. You must use the Geo-Fortress Cannon to destroy a Legion Generator, and doing so will earn you a Core Metal. There are 13 Legion Generators in all, and destroying them all may or may not be related to the chest of gold which appears in Lakton Village after you beat the game. This list is sorted according to area level. 1. Lakton Village 2. Northwest Paora Plains 3. Old Noswald Castle, Yard 4. East Paora Plains 5. Ranburr's Tomb 6. Gradium Mine 7. Ancient Runed Temple 8. Clanup Island 9. Raska Snowfield, East Valley 10. Lake Sidora 11. Sidora Snow Mountain, Canyon 12. Mt. Fyrgarum, Base 13. Mt. Fyrgarum, Halfway NPC REWARDS Each of your eight NPC allies will give you items or Power Arts as gifts once you advance them to a sufficiently high level. This is a list of the rewards from each NPC ally, as well as the character level number that triggers each reward. To receive a reward, simply visit the NPC ally and converse with him/her. Some NPC allies will only give their rewards to a specific main character (for example, Gadfort gives his rewards to Toma, Maebelle gives hers to Cyrille, and Garyu gives his to whomever was the active character when you defeated him). The designated recipient for each NPC ally's rewards is listed in parentheses at the top of the sub-section; the word "active" means that the designated recipient is whichever character who was the active character when you recruited that ally. A. Gadfort (Toma) Curved Blade - Level 5 Fang Tienchi - Level 25 Dragon Slayer - Level 45 Ordeal - Level 85 B. Maebelle (Cyrille) Steel Crossbow - Level 10 Guard Crossbow - Level 30 Air Crossbow - Level 50 Aurora Bow - Level 90 C. Amitaliri (Cyrille) MP Boost Lv1 (Power Art) - Level 10 MP Boost Lv2 (Power Art) - Level 20 MP Boost Lv3 (Power Art) - Level 35 MP Boost Lv4 (Power Art) - Level 55 MP Boost Lv5 (Power Art) - Level 95 MP Boost Lv6 (Power Art) - Level 120 D. Faulklin (Cyrille) Light Magic Lv1 (Power Art) - Level 10 Light Magic Lv2 (Power Art) - Level 20 Light Magic Lv3 (Power Art) - Level 35 Light Magic Lv4 (Power Art) - Level 55 Light Magic Lv5 (Power Art) - Level 95 Light Magic Lv6 (Power Art) - Level 120 E. Duga (Toma) Critical Attack Lv1 (Power Art) - Level 30* Critical Attack Lv2 (Power Art) - Level 50 Critical Attack Lv3 (Power Art) - Level 75 Critical Attack Lv4 (Power Art) - Level 90 Critical Attack Lv5 (Power Art) - Level 110 F. Adam (Active) 1 Healing Water (Green) - Level 40* 1 Healing Water (Red) - Level 60 3 Goddess Tears - Level 80 1 Light Charm - Level 110 G. Garyu (Active) 1 Core Metal - Level 60* 1 Core Metal - Level 70 1 Core Metal - Level 80 1 Core Metal - Level 90 1 Core Metal - Level 100 1 Core Metal - Level 110 H. Avalon (Active) Absolute Defense Lv1 (Power Art) - Level 80 Absolute Defense Lv2 (Power Art) - Level 130 Absolute Defense Lv3 (Power Art) - Level 150 * Denotes a situation where the NPC ally joins your party with a character level equal to this level number; no leveling necessary to receive this reward -- simply converse with the NPC ally CORE METAL LOCATIONS This is the big one: my attempt to list the locations for all the Core Metals in the game, as well as how many Cores you can find at each location. For the most part, this list is sorted according to how early in the game you can access each location. The last 4 entries address Core Metals you can acquire via Defensive Battles, Ancient Arenas, Legion Generators, and conversations with Garyu. You need 117 Core Metals to max out every function in the Geo-Fortress, and there are 119 Core Metals to be found in the game, though you need to beat the game at least once to find all 119 Cores (you must beat the game once in order to access the Dungeon of Ordeal with both main characters). Since you can acquire 117 of the 119 Core Metals before beating the game, it is therefore possible to fully upgrade your Geo-Fortress before finishing the game. 1. Geo-Fortress, Control Room - 1 (Chapter 3)* 2. North Ilnad Forest - 1 (Chapter 3)** 3. North Paora Plains - 1 (Chapter 3) 4. Altar of Darkness - 1 (Chapter 3) 5. Lake Bark, South Point - 3 (Chapter 3) 6. Ilnad Forest, Cave - 2 (Chapter 3) 7. Narda Checkpoint - 1 (Chapter 4) 8. Il'Gonia Valley, Lake Narda - 1 (Chapter 4) 9. Goran-Goran Cave, 1F - 2 (Chapter 4) 10. North Il'Gonia Valley - 1 (Chapter 4) 11. Goran-Goran Cave, 2F - 1 (Chapter 5) 12. Goran-Goran Cave, 1F - 2 (Chapter 5)*** 13. Old Noswald Castle, Yard - 1 (Chapter 5) 14. Tsungura Ice Field - 1 (Chapter 5) 15. Ranburr's Tomb - 1 (Chapter 6)**** 16. Above Ranburr's Tomb - 2 (Chapter 6) 17. Gradium Mine, Inside - 3 (Chapter 7) 18. Ancient Runed Temple - 1 (Chapter 7) 19. Geo-Fortress, West Tower - 1 (Chapter 8) 20. Dimension X Metal Tunnel, B5F - 2 (Chapter 8) 21. Dimension X Metal Tunnel, B10F - 1 (Chapter 8) 22. West Balcan Desert - 1 (Chapter 9) 23. North Balcan, Underpass - 1 (Chapter 10)***** 24. Diablo's Palm - 1 (Chapter 10) 25. Northwest Paora, Falls - 1 (Chapter 10)****** 26. Ancient Ruins, B1F - 4 (Chapter 10) 27. Ancient Ruins, B2F - 1 (Chapter 10) 28. Magma Prison, B1F - 1 (Chapter 11) 29. Magma Prison, B2F - 1 (Chapter 11) 30. Magma Prison, B3F - 3 (Chapter 11) 31. Great Bridge, Lower - 2 (Chapter 12) 32. Great Bridge, Front Gate - 2 (Chapter 12) 33. Emperor's Hall - 2 (Chapter 12) 34. Magma Prison, B1F - 1 (Chapter 13)******* 35. Crimson Palace, Roof - 3 (Chapter 13) 36. Crimson Palace, 3F - 1 (Chapter 13) 37. Crimson Palace, 1F - 3 (Chapter 13) 38. Dungeon of Ordeal, Depths - 2 (Chapter 14)******** 39. Ancient Arenas - 21 (various)# 40. Mandatory Defensive Battles - 7 (various)## 41. "Timer" Defensive Battles - 12 (various)### 42. Garyu - 6 (Chapter 4)#### 43. Legion Generators - 13 (Chapter 14)##### * Acquired through conversation with Zenus ** Defeat the mother boar sleeping in the center of the area *** You have to descend back onto 1F from 2F to get these Cores **** Defeat the Life Drainer mini-boss ***** Inside the tunnel, there is a contraption with two lights (one red, one green) and a statue that glows either red or green; strike the "switch" in front of the light that corresponds to the color of the statue's glow and repeat this procedure until the statue breaks, granting access to the Core Metal ****** Use the Geo-Fortress Cannon to destroy the rocks blocking the entrance to a cave at West Paora Plains; pass through the cave to reach the entrance to a second cave containing this Core Metal ******* Use the alternate entrance at Mt. Fyrgarum, Base (near the exit to Mt. Fyrgarum, Halfway) ******** Both Toma and Cyrille can get a Core Metal here, but you must beat the game at least once in order to access the Dungeon of Ordeal with both characters and get both Cores # There is a Core Metal to be found in every Ancient Arena in the game; refer to the "Ancient Arena Locations" sub-section for location information and the earliest point in the storyline at which you can access each arena ## You can buy a Core Metal from Gilnay after each mandatory (i.e. occurs once you reach a certain point of storyline progression) Defensive Battle, up until the point that all four exits of the Geo-Fortress have been unlocked; there is, by my count, a total of 7 mandatory Defensive Battles that take place before then ### You can buy a Core Metal from Gilnay after every 5 "timer" (i.e. occurs because your Defensive Battle timer elapses, not because of storyline progression) Defensive Battles you win; the number given here is extrapolated from the fact that there are 19 total Defensive Battle Cores available and that 7 of those (by my count) are tied to mandatory Defensive Battles: 19 - 7 = 12 "timer" Defensive Battle Cores #### Obtained by speaking to Garyu after he reaches a specific character level number; refer to the sub-section above ("NPC Rewards") to find out the exact levels at which Garyu rewards you with Cores; the "chapter 4" in parentheses here refers to the earliest chapter during which you can recruit Garyu ##### Each Legion Generator you destroy in Chapter 14 yields a Core Metal, and there are 13 Legion Generators in all CURE METAL LOCATIONS Yeah, this is a bit of a "joke" of a list, because I think everyone knows by now that there's an infinite number of Cure Metals available in the game -- most Defensive Battle bosses drop one when they die, and upon reaching Chapter 8, you can farm an infinite number of these from the Dimension X Metal Tunnel floors B5F (yields 1 Cure Metal on every visit) and B10F (yields 2 Cure Metals on every visit). The other locations at which you can find Cure Metals, as well as how many Cure Metals you can find at each location, are listed below. These are sorted according to the earliest chapter during which you can access each location. 1. Geo-Fortress, Hallway - 4 (Chapter 2-6)* 2. Goran-Goran Cave, 1F - 1 (Chapter 4) 3. Dungeon of Ordeal, Depths - 2 (Chapter 14)** * There is a Cure Metal near each of the four teleport pads leading out of the Geo-Fortress; you will not be able to acquire the Cure Metal located near a currently-locked exit -- the Number 2 Gate opens in Chapter 2, the Number 4 Gate opens in Chapter 5, the Number 1 Gate opens in Chapter 5, and the Number 3 Gate opens in Chapter 6 ** You can obtain a Cure Metal at this location with both Toma and Cyrille, but you must beat the game at least once in order to access the Dungeon of Ordeal with both characters MYTHRIL VALUES FOR EQUIPMENT MODS As mentioned earlier, the rule of thumb for equipment mods is this: the higher the Mythril value, the more useful the mod. For gear enchanted with one mod only, the Mythril value of the mod is equal to the amount of Mythril you receive when you choose to extract from that piece of equipment (and also the amount of gold it costs to identify that piece of equipment). For equipment enchanted with two mods, the total Mythril value of the item is equal to the sum of the individual Mythril values of both its mods. Since the cost to identify an item is equal to its total Mythril value, you can generally expect gear with high identification costs to provide better mods than gear with low identification costs. The list below is an attempt to document the Mythril values of all equipment mods in the game, and it's a complete list as far as I know. Special thanks to SolidSnake X for filling in the necessary blanks for completion of the list! --------------------------------------------- Mod Name | Mythril Value ------------------------|-------------------- Balance +10 | 200 Knockback +10 | 200 Resist Critical +10 | 200 Resist Knockback +10 | 200 Resist Stun +10 | 200 Soul +10 | 200 Striker +10 | 200 HP +20 | 200 Technique +20 | 200 Quick Recover | 200 Resist Flame | 200 Resist Frost | 200 Resist Lightning | 200 Guard +5 | 300 Intellect +20 | 300 Power +20 | 300 Knockdown | 300 Resist Darkness | 300 Attack +10 | 400 Counterattack | 400 Shield Guard | 400 Beast's Weak Spot | 400 Harpy's Weak Spot | 400 Lizard's Weak Spot | 400 Orc's Weak Spot | 400 Snake's Weak Spot | 400 Healing Wisdom | 400 Magic Power +10 | 500 Critical | 500 Flame Seed | 500 Ice Seed | 500 Thunder Seed | 500 Life Drain | 500 Balance +20 | 600 Knockback +20 | 600 Resist Critical +20 | 600 Resist Knockback +20 | 600 Resist Stun +20 | 600 Soul +20 | 600 Striker +20 | 600 HP +40 | 600 Power +40 | 600 Technique +40 | 600 Quick Recover+ | 600 Resist Flame+ | 600 Resist Frost+ | 600 Resist Lightning+ | 600 Holy Lv.2 | 600 Dark Seed | 700 Shining Seed | 700 Chain Attack | 800 Float Attack | 800 Dragon's Weak Spot | 800 Giant's Weak Spot | 800 Blaze Lv.2 | 800 Blazing Feather | 800 Charged Shot | 800 Death Critical | 800 Gaia Quake | 800 Grand Uppercut | 800 Ice Arrow | 800 Rolling Buster | 800 Stun Smash | 800 Unrivaled Attack | 800 Vital Drain | 800 Guard +10 | 900 Intellect +40 | 900 Knockdown+ | 900 Resist Darkness+ | 900 Resist Chaos | 1000 Chaos Seed | 1000 Cockatrice Guard | 1000 Bone Drill | 1000 Counter Straight | 1000 Dark Arrow Lv.1 | 1000 Dark Arrow Lv.2 | 1000 Impact Crush | 1000 Power Press | 1000 Rush Blade | 1000 Spark Lv.2 | 1000 Spin Attack | 1000 Sky Slash | 1000 Wide Shot | 1000 Attack +20 | 1200 Absolute Defense +25 | 1200 Power +60 | 1200 Accelerate | 1200 Counterattack+ | 1200 Shield Guard+ | 1200 Demon's Weak Spot | 1200 Golem's Weak Spot | 1200 Robot's Weak Spot | 1200 Undead's Weak Spot | 1200 Assassin Needle | 1200 Ice Shell | 1200 Ice Spike Lv.1 | 1200 Shine Lv.2 | 1200 Stone Shell | 1400 Magic Power +20 | 1500 Critical+ | 1500 Life Drain+ | 1500 Flame Spirit | 1500 Ice Spirit | 1500 Thunder Spirit | 1500 Anti-Armor | 1600 Anti-Scale | 1600 Anti-Weapon | 1600 Anti-Wing | 1600 Avalon Nova | 1600 Gatling Arrow | 1600 Balance +30 | 1800 Knockback +30 | 1800 Resist Critical +30 | 1800 Resist Knockback +30 | 1800 Resist Stun +30 | 1800 Striker +30 | 1800 Soul +30 | 1800 HP +60 | 1800 Technique +60 | 1800 Quick Recover++ | 1800 Resist Flame++ | 1800 Resist Frost++ | 1800 Resist Lightning++ | 1800 Angel's Smile | 2000 Speed Up | 2000 Anti-Darkness | 2000 Anti-Flame | 2000 Anti-Frost | 2000 Anti-Light | 2000 Anti-Lightning | 2000 Anti-Multiple | 2000 Character Flaw | 2000 Crush | 2000 Dark Spirit | 2100 Shining Spirit | 2100 Power +100 | 2400 Chain Attack+ | 2400 Bless | 2400 Curse | 2400 Electric Charge | 2400 Freeze | 2400 Inflame | 2400 Fire Breath | 2400 Hell Blast Lv.1 | 2400 Ice Breath | 2400 Spark Lv.1 | 2400 Spark Breath | 2400 Guard +15 | 2700 Intellect +60 | 2700 Knockdown++ | 2700 Resist Darkness++ | 2700 Resist Chaos+ | 3000 Chaos Spirit | 3000 Basilisk Guard | 3000 Air Buster | 3200 Brutality | 3200 Attack +30 | 3600 Absolute Defense +50 | 3600 Ultrarapid | 3600 Chaos Gate Lv.1 | 3600 Stone Breath | 3600 Magic Power +30 | 4500 Critical++ | 4500 Flame Element | 4500 Ice Element | 4500 Thunder Element | 4500 MP Drain | 4500 Aura | 5000 Balance +40 | 5400 Soul +40 | 5400 HP +80 | 5400 Technique +100 | 5400 Resist Flame+++ | 5400 Resist Frost+++ | 5400 Resist Lightning+++ | 5400 Angel's Blessing | 6000 Speed Up+ | 6000 Dark Element | 6300 Shining Element | 6300 Guard +20 | 8100 Intellect +100 | 8100 Resist Darkness+++ | 8100 Resist Chaos++ | 9000 Chaos Element | 9000 Medusa Guard | 9000 Change Mythril | 10000 Attack +50 | 10800 Absolute Defense +75 | 10800 Godspeed | 10800 Magic Power +40 | 13500 MP Drain+ | 13500 Balance +50 | 16200 Soul +50 | 16200 HP +100 | 16200 Angel's Kiss | 18000 Guard +25 | 24300 Resist Chaos+++ | 27000 Absolute Defense +100 | 32400 Attack +100 | 32400 Magic Power +50 | 40500 Angel's Embrace | 54000 ===================================================================== IV. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) ===================================================================== Credit for the questions go to the people who asked them (mostly on the Shining Force EXA board at GameFAQs). Many of these questions have been paraphrased for brevity and precision. QUESTION>> Where is Gundestor Cavern? ANSWER>> Veterans of the Shining Force EXA board should recognize this one: it is by far the most frequently asked question in the history of the board. To answer the question, you can reach Gundestor Cavern by leaving the Geo-Fortress via the Number 4 Gate (which does not open until Chapter 5) and take the exit leading south from the Defensive Battle area. QUESTION>> Where is the Altar of Darkness? ANSWER>> Clear out the enemies inside Paoraburr Cavern and look for an exit on the northeastern side of the area. QUESTION>> How do I extend the range of the Geo-Fortress Cannon? ANSWER>> You don't. Cannon range is automatically extended as you advance the storyline -- nothing else affects Cannon range. QUESTION>> How do I reach Ancient Arena: Stalker? ANSWER>> Find the entrance to the Sewers at West Paora Plains, and make your way through the sewers. You will eventually emerge on an isolated plateau, and the entrance to the Stalker Arena is practically "next door." QUESTION>> I'm trying to train inside the Training Ground, but I keep getting killed when large numbers of monsters spawn after I open a treasure chest. What should I do? ANSWER>> "Chest spawns" is one of the more pernicious characteristics of the dungeons in Shining Force EXA. Large numbers of monsters can and will spawn from the opening of a treasure chest, and this can cause abrupt, premature death for your party. If Cyrille is your lead character, you should always try to break chests with crossbow bolts or a ranged magic attacks instead of opening them manually (of course, this is not going to work for locked chests). Doing so will put some distance between you and any potential monster spawns, thereby ensuring that they won't be able to surround you. Toma, however, will just have to brave it -- short of using weapons capable of ranged magic attacks (these weapons are seldom comparable in power level to the best weapons you possess), the most you can do is equip a two-handed weapon with a large radius of attack (i.e. a lot of "reach") and try to swing at the chests from as far away as possible. QUESTION>> I've picked up a lot of bottles of Healing Water, and they're really taking up space in my inventory. Is there any way to combine them into larger lots? ANSWER>> In Chapter 4, a "suspicious individual" will start hanging around the Geo-Fortress hallway just outside the door leading to the Number 1 Gate. He will bundle your Healing Water into lots of 9 bottles each in exchange for some gold. Note that the price for his services increases as you advance the story: since the cost of his services is equal to 2000 times X, where X is the Chapter number, it'll cost quite a bit more to bundle your Healing Water in, say, Chapter 12 than it does back in Chapter 5. QUESTION>> How do I transfer items between characters? ANSWER>> Access your storage bin and hit either L1 or R1 to change to the inventory of the currently inactive character. Select the item you wish to transfer and hit X to move it from one character to the other. QUESTION>> What am I supposed to do with the snake statue in the North Balcan, Underpass area? ANSWER>> Keep striking the switch in front of the light (red or green) that corresponds to the current color of the light glowing atop the large statue in the center. Make enough "correct" responses in a row (by my count, you need to make 9 straight correct responses) and the statue will break; you will earn a Core Metal for your efforts. QUESTION>> What is the difference between the Nullify Knockdown Secret Art and the Golem's Soul Secret Art? ANSWER>> As far as I know, there is no difference. QUESTION>> Why does the sign outside of Ancient Arena: Steel read "Ancient Arena: Legion"? ANSWER>> This is a careless mistake made by the localization team. Shining Force EXA recycles many of the maps from its predecessor, Shining Force NEO. The location of the Steel Arena in Shining Force EXA is the same as the location of the Legion Arena in Shining Force NEO. The programmers of EXA simply did not bother to change the text on the sign. As far as I know, this mistake did not make it into the Japanese version of EXA (one of the game testers probably caught it), but it is obviously present in the overseas release. QUESTION>> So, um, where exactly IS the Training Ground? ANSWER>> Provided that you've unlocked the function and upgraded it with a few Core Metals, you can find the entrance to the Training Ground by going south from the Geo-Fortress Control Room and keep heading south along the Engineering Block corridor. QUESTION>> Where is the Geo-Fortress Library and Armory? ANSWER>> Head toward the exit leading west out of the Control Room and take the stairs down into the Residential Block. Take the stairs up to the second level of the Residential Block and head north through either exit. You should now be in a hallway just outside your destination(s): the Library occupies the western half of this area, while the Armory occupies the eastern half. QUESTION>> Ancient Arena: Stone is sealed off from the rest of Ranburr's Tomb. How do I get to it? ANSWER>> Search the fenced plots of tombs for the entrance to an underpass. The underpass leads straight to the entrance of the Stone Arena. QUESTION>> Where exactly is the Fire Dragon party equipment? I've searched throughout Ranburr's Tomb, and I can't find it. ANSWER>> There is a mini-boss fight that starts after you investigate one of the graves in a fenced plot of tombs. Win the fight and the chest containing Fire Dragon will appear at the very top of Ranburr's Tomb (at the apex of the tomb structure itself). QUESTION>> What exactly does the "Heaven and Earth" Secret Art do? ANSWER>> Confuse you with description text that can be nothing but a terribly botched attempt at translation. To actually answer your question, the Secret Art increases attack power against floating enemies (Harpies, Ghosts, etc.). QUESTION>> Should Toma use a one-handed weapon or a two-handed weapon? ANSWER>> This depends mostly on your playing style. The most powerful weapon setup in the game features a one-handed weapon (the "ultimate" Darkness Sword setup), and one-handed weapons tend to have faster attack speed, as well as the ability to allow you to equip shields -- an invaluable bonus against higher-level enemies (since the shield completely nullifies most, if not all, of the most annoying tech effects -- Float, Knockback, Knockdown, Stun). Two-handed weapons are great once you've strengthened your characters and start journeying through "easy" areas -- your axes and hammers are much better at clearing large crowds of enemies with one swing. Two-handed weapons tend to deal much more damage in a single hit (rather than letting the damage build up via combo damage multipliers like one-handed weapons), and their attack speed deficiencies can be addressed with the Godspeed mod and the Devil Spark Secret Art. QUESTION>> Why doesn't my physical defense stat increase when I pay Gantetsu to enhance my shield or chain? ANSWER>> The stats of emphasis for shields and chains is not DEF but rather your DEX-based stats (Resist Knockback, Resist Knockdown, Movement Speed, etc.). These WILL increase when you enhance your shield or chain. QUESTION>> Which is better, Nullify Float or Nullify Knockdown? ANSWER>> Nullify Float is the better of the two, but you don't actually need either Secret Art. At a sufficiently high character strength rating, your characters are effectively immune to both Float and Knockdown as long as they're equipped with a shield or chain. QUESTION>> How many floors are there in the Training Ground? ANSWER>> 50, grouped into ten blocks of 5 floors each. Each block consists of 4 randomly-generated floors and 1 "boss" floor. Unlike the randomly-generated floors, the layout of the boss floor never changes, and any items/gold/Mythril you leave lying on the battlefield of a boss floor will still be available for retrieval the next time you visit that floor. QUESTION>> Does Bornay ever sell any decent gear? ANSWER>> Not really. You can always find far better gear via treasure chests and monster drops. QUESTION>> Where exactly is Ancient Arena: Legion located? ANSWER>> The entrance to the arena is a magic circle found in Xeyon Castle, Central 1F (look on the southeastern side of the map). The door leading to the magic circle will be locked unless you've already cleared all 20 of the other arenas in the game. QUESTION>> If I have the MP Drain+ mod on a book, do I gain the benefits of the status effect when I use the book's magic spells? ANSWER>> No. The effects of Life Drain/Life Drain+ and MP Drain/MP Drain+ only kick in if you hit an enemy with a melee attack. QUESTION>> Why is my weapon highlighted with a different color? ANSWER>> You hit L1 or R1 by accident while checking out that weapon in your Equip or Item menu. L1 and R1 allow you to change the highlighting color of your items for sorting purposes. QUESTION>> I've destroyed all 13 Legion Generators, but why is it still raining in the Ruins of Yi'el Village? ANSWER>> No one knows for sure. Some have suggested that it's because the Gusk is hovering over the area, and that's as valid a guess as any. QUESTION>> Those Ghost Masters are just murdering me. What should I do? ANSWER>> Find both levels of the Darkness Resist Power Art and fully carve both levels. That should raise your resistance against Dark Magic to a high enough level that Ghost Masters can't do anything that really hurts you. QUESTION>> Malxatra is kicking my butt. Are there any Power Arts that really help in the fight against him? ANSWER>> Beef up your character's defensive capabilities by maxing out HP Boost, Master Guard, and the aforementioned Darkness Resist (you should also carve the Goddess Blessing Secret Art on your armor). Offensively, max out Weapon Attack, Armor Killer, Robot Killer, and Darkness Pursuit. QUESTION>> What should I do to increase the power of Toma's magic attacks? ANSWER>> Don't bother. Magic is a lost cause for Toma -- he is simply incapable of ever doing much damage with magic attacks. QUESTION>> What's your favorite team of NPC allies for each character? ANSWER>> For Toma, Avalon and Faulklin. For Cyrille, Garyu and Faulklin. QUESTION>> Where do I find Fiend Horns and Black Wool Caps? ANSWER>> A poster said that Devil Fathers drop Fiend Horns, but I have yet to see them do so myself. Devil Daughters in the Lake Bark Caverns occasionally drop Black Wool Caps. Both of these items are among the class of inferior (compared to what you can find in the lower floors of the Training Ground) gear that aren't dropped in the dungeons; you'll most likely encounter these items only when looking through Bornay's inventory. Other examples of such items are Cyrille's Twin Ribbons and Mitra Tiara. QUESTION>> What are the most powerful magic spells in the game? ANSWER>> There are several magic spells which can lay claim to the title of "most powerful", and each of them is particularly effective when used in a certain capacity. For area-of-effect damage and crowd control, the best spell is Holy Lv.3 (Light elemental magic); for concentrated anti-unit damage, the best spell is Gaia Nova Lv.3 (Light elemental magic); for area-of-effect damage with status ailments, use Chaos Gate Lv.3 (Dark elemental magic); and for the highest damage output -- with a chance to petrify the enemy -- at the cost of massive MP expenditure, use Avalon Nova (Light elemental magic). QUESTION>> Which class of mods is better, Attack+ or Power+? ANSWER>> Attack+. The attack power boost from this class of mods is always much larger than the boost from comparable Power+ mods, even for Cyrille. The higher Stun Attack, Knockback Attack, and similar STR-related stat bonuses you get for a Power+ mod are never enough to offset the much higher boost in attack power you gain with an Attack+ mod. QUESTION>> Which status ailment is the best to use against enemies? And which status ailment is the worst to get hit with? ANSWER>> The answer to both questions is petrification. QUESTION>> Does changing the party equipment used by your NPC allies also effect any changes to those character's stats? Or does it simply change which attacks they use? ANSWER>> Generally, party equipment found in higher level areas have higher attack power, both for physical attacks and magic attacks. Garyu's Iron Dragon is particularly notable for also boosting physical defense. It's hard to tell if any other party equipment affects DEF or if any party equipment affects stats other than attack power and physical defense. QUESTION>> I've played through all of the storyline sequences thus far with the same character. Am I missing out on any of the story? ANSWER>> Well, the two main characters do have different lines of dialogue depending on which one is "active" for a particular storyline sequence, but you don't really miss anything of any real significance. QUESTION>> Which "Anti" class mod is better, Character Flaw or Anti-Multiple? ANSWER>> Anti-Multiple, but a simple Attack +50 (or, even better, Attack +100) mod is better than both of those mods and should be what you're looking for instead. QUESTION>> I'm trying to fight a monster that has an impenetrable barrier around it. How do I get the barrier to go away? ANSWER>> If a monster is surrounded by a magic barrier, simply kill all other enemies in the general vicinity and the barrier will disappear. QUESTION>> There are two Barrier system-like devices found on Block 2 of the Gusk. What is their significance? ANSWER>> Those are energy collectors used to siphon Malxatra's power. If you've already beaten the game at least once, you can hit Circle when standing near these devices and choose to turn them off. Turning off the energy collectors will make Malxatra much stronger in the final battle -- think of it as a way to "ramp up" the difficulty level of the battle if you find Malxatra to be not much of a challenge. QUESTION>> I'm having a hard time killing Mythril Golems, as I'm only dealing 1 damage per hit to them. Any suggestions? ANSWER>> Mythril Golems have a very high physical defense rating, so physical attacks don't work well against them unless you've maxed out Weapon Attack, Golem Killer, and Light Pursuit. You can also use high-class Dark Magic spells against them. The wisest thing to do against them, though, is to just ignore them and move on -- Mythril Golems are so sturdy and hit so hard that they're what I classify a dangerous waste of time. Devil Fathers are another type of enemy that qualifies for this category, because they combine incredibly high HP with powerful physical and magic attacks. You save a lot of time and effort if you just skip them (if you CAN skip them, anyway -- these enemies sometimes appear as mini-bosses you must fight) and move on. QUESTION>> What does the Aura mod do? ANSWER>> Aura grants you an extra attack (press the attack button after using a charge attack) that isn't really an attack at all: instead, it's a spell-like effect that heals a decent percentage of your HP (as well as the HP of your NPC allies if they're standing reasonably close to you). The strategic value of the Aura mod lies in the fact that it allows you to field a lineup consisting of two "brute force" NPC allies backed up by Cyrille's ranged attacks and group healing (the healing will be done via the Aura effect, of course). As a matter fact, usage of Aura means that you no longer have to worry about protecting a fragile NPC healer (i.e. Faulklin) or trying to survive while your NPC healer ...slowly... casts her healing magic (i.e. what happens when Maebelle is your designated healer). Aura is also extremely valuable in the early game (i.e. before Faulklin joins your party), because the availability of a healing effect in your arsenals allows you to challenge higher-level monsters while maintaining a fair chance of survival. QUESTION>> What is the highest level that a character can advance to in the game? ANSWER>> Prior to beating the game (and gaining access to Xeyon Castle), level 187. After gaining access to Xeyon, level 200 (be warned that only the Place Beyond Darkness has a sufficiently high area level to advance your characters past level 187). QUESTION>> Is there no way to improve the enhancement numbers on rings and bracelets? ANSWER>> Correct. Since Gantetsu doesn't do accessories, whatever enhancement number you get when you acquire the ring or bracelet is the number it'll keep for the rest of the game. QUESTION>> Is it possible to fully upgrade all Geo-Fortress functions in one playthrough of the game and without farming "timer" Defensive Battles? ANSWER>> It's possible, but not very likely. You need 117 Core Metals to fully upgrade all functions of the Geo-Fortress, and you can indeed acquire 117 before finishing the game. By my count, 12 of the 117 Cores are tied to "timer" Defensive Battles, meaning that you must trigger at least 60 such battles throughout the game. Most players trigger no more than 30 in one playthrough of the game, and some finish the game have triggered no more than 15 "timer" Defensive Battles. You'd need to be a mighty slow and... thorough... player to spend enough time out in the world that you trigger 60 "timer" Defensive Battles prior to beating the game without trying to "farm" that variety of Defensive Battle. QUESTION>> What is the best party equipment item for each NPC ally? ANSWER>> Party equipment generally get stronger the higher the area level of the location you find them at, though this is less a stone-cold fact than a rule of thumb: certain "less powerful" party equipment items offer useful effects and attacks that may prompt you to use them over higher-rated party equipment. A good example is Maebelle's Tender Archer, which you'd likely equip over more powerful "Archer" gear if your party is in dire need of healing. Overall, the list below indicate what are considered the most powerful party equipment items in the game. Aside from Avalon's Hero & Emperor -- which is a reward for clearing the lowest floor of the Training Ground -- all of these are found near the entrance of Xeyon Castle, Central 1F: Gadfort - Golden Knight Maebelle - Enraged Archer Amitaliri - Witch Teaching Faulklin - Noble Saint Garyu - Black Dragon Duga - Berserk Wolf Adam - Break Virus C Avalon - Hero & Emperor QUESTION>> I'm trying to do my equipment hunting on the lower floors of the Training Ground, but the monsters there are slaughtering me. How do you manage to do your training and equipment hunting with such ease? ANSWER>> I would never say that my grinding was done "with ease," as I died quite a lot my first few times through the bottom 15 floors of the Training Ground. The monsters there are fierce, and you will always be at risk of suffering a one-hit knockout (especially if you are unable to max out some of the key Power Arts). The keys to breezing through those floors is to prioritize HP first (pay special attention to finding and equipping armor and rings with two HP +100 mods each), address physical defense second (don't forget to carve the Goddess Blessing Secret Art on your armor), and then try to pump up your physical attack power (as "mage" Cyrille, your point of emphasis should instead be magic attack power) as much as you can without sacrificing HP and DEF. Always carve all the Power Arts you've found, and place special emphasis on Killer Arts and Power Arts which add to magic resistance (since some of the most insidious enemies on the lower floors of the Training Ground are the monsters which wield Dark Magic). Try to kill your enemies before they get an opportunity to try and hurt you: before you piece together Toma's deadly Darkness Sword setup, you should probably look for a Pandemonium with good mods and petrify your way through the more powerful mobs. As Cyrille, you should employ "meat shield" NPC allies and try to crossbow everything to death from a distance and through obstacles if necessary (by utilizing her crossbow tricks). To master the lower blocks of the Training Ground, it is essential to study your opposition (in order to learn the kind of behavior each monster is likely to exhibit) and to plan assiduously (to set up your equipment, carve the right Secret Arts, and implement more effective tactics). You should certainly expect to die every now and then, but eventually you will gain the necessary experience to employ more effective strategies against your enemies. You'll then find that you're having a much easier time. QUESTION>> I just found a weapon with the "Puppet" special ability. What does it do? ANSWER>> Puppet is a special status effect unique to the Soul Stealer (one-handed weapon), Scarecrow (two-handed weapon), Caster's Book (book), and Necromancer (book). To use Puppet, simply strike the corpse of an enemy with a Puppet-capable weapon (you must use a melee attack -- using magic from either of the two Puppet-capable books will not work), and the monster will be temporarily resurrected to fight as your ally. Puppet does not work against monsters that don't leave corpses behind when they die (e.g. ghosts), golems, boss-level monsters, mechanical monsters (i.e. those with the "robot" race type), and several species of undead. Puppet also does not work against monsters with character level equal to or higher than that of your active character. Most enemies in the lower blocks of the Training Ground and in Xeyon Castle are immune to Puppet, so it's a mostly useless effect once you move on to the tougher areas of the game. You shouldn't expect Puppet to do much of anything in any area with area level greater than 110 or so. QUESTION>> Must I use Toma as the active character to recruit Garyu? ANSWER>> No. You can recruit Garyu with either Toma or Cyrille as the active character. QUESTION>> Who is the better character, Toma or Cyrille? Which of the two should I use to tackle the toughest areas of the game? ANSWER>> As a rule of thumb, it's more practical to use Toma against high-level enemies which pose a credible threat to you -- Toma has much better durability than Cyrille due to his higher physical defense and his much higher HP. Toma also enjoys huge combo damage multipliers with a number of weapon setups (such as the ultimate Darkness Sword setup), which allow him to deliver much more damage in a given period of time than Cyrille is capable of. With her magic-related Power Arts maxed, Cyrille can probably deal as much or more damage than an one-handed weapon-wielding Toma on the scale of a single hit, provided that you're hitting a monster that's weak against Light Magic (many of the most menacing monsters are, though some -- Mythril Golems, for example -- are actually immune to Light Magic) and you use a powerful spell like Gaia Nova Lv.3. Over time, however, Toma's multiplier-enhanced combo damage quickly outdistances anything Cyrille can do, and he doesn't have to worry about his MP depleting from casting all those high-level spells. Cyrille is, however, much better against enemies that both characters can kill easily: a good area-of-effect spell (e.g. Holy Lv.3) can eliminate 15-20 monsters with one use, and thus achieve in 2 seconds a result that would take Toma 20 seconds of slashing to match. To summarize, use Toma in the lower blocks of the Training Ground, in the other optional dungeons, and in any other places where the indigenous fauna are credible threats to your prospects of survival. Use Cyrille in "storyline" areas and other low-area level locations where the monsters are no threat and where your primary goal is to get from point A to point B in a short amount of time. QUESTION>> What exactly do I get from technique boosts and agility boosts? ANSWER>> Anything that increases your "technique" is raising your DEX (Dexterity) stat. The stats that increase with higher DEX are the following: Stun Attack rating, Critical Attack ratio, Resist Stun ratio, and Resist Knockback ratio. Equipment with high DEX stats also tend to confer better Movement Speed, but the Movement Speed stat is not determined by Dexterity; rather, it's an independent stat that's also referred to as "agility" by the game. The Secret Arts Rough and Ready and Devil Spark, as well as the Speed Up and Speed Up+ family of equipment mods, are the most common ways for you to raise your character's agility, and when you do so, Movement Speed is the only stat being increased -- none of your DEX stats are affected. QUESTION>> You recommend the Earth Talisman Secret Art for headgear, but isn't the Modest Charm Secret Art better? You lose 4% to 6% of magic resistance per element, but you gain about 1000 more DEF. ANSWER>> By my count, you gain 990 points of DEF/physical defense, and that's just not enough of a boost to constitute a worthy trade-off. Since magic resistance values are displayed as percentages but are actually stored (and calculated) as integers, 4% of the total resistance value for all five elemental magic classes almost certainly computes as a larger integer sum than 990. High elemental magic resistance values help tremendously -- life is so much easier down on the lower floors of the Training Ground if you don't have to worry about taking any damage from magic attacks (especially the HP Absorbing attacks from those pesky Ghost Masters), and that's why I prefer to build toward impregnable defenses against magic attacks rather than getting another small boost to my physical defense stat. If your elemental magic resistance values are already high enough that you suffer no damage from any enemy magic attacks, however, you should certainly carve Modest Charm instead. QUESTION>> Since you preach that HP is more important than DEF/physical defense, then isn't the Source of Life Secret Art better than Goddess Blessing? I get about 2000 HP from Source of Life and about 2000 DEF from Goddess Blessing. ANSWER>> Yes, HP is generally more useful than DEF (because HP adds to your durability against both physical attacks and magic attacks, whereas DEF affects resilience against physical attacks only), but that doesn't mean that Source of Life is better than Goddess Blessing. Most of the time, Goddess Blessing is vastly superior, simply because you gain much more DEF from carving it than you'd gain HP from carving Source of Life (you do gain some MP from Source of Life as well, but MP is usually rather unimportant in Shining Force EXA). This is because both Secret Arts confer a percentage increase to the key stat in question (DEF for Goddess Blessing, HP for Source of Life), and Goddess Blessing simply increases its stat by a larger percentage value than does Source of Life. It's a quirk of your current character strength level that you happen to get approximately equal increases with both Secret Arts (your HP is probably much higher than your DEF at the moment -- a phenomenon possibly caused by having carved a higher level of the HP Boost Power Art than you've carved the Master Guard Power Art). With "maxed out" characters, both Toma and Cyrille would gain about 6000 DEF from Goddess Blessing. In contrast, Toma would gain about 4000 HP from Source of Life, and Cyrille would only gain about 2000 HP. It's fairly easy to see that you get a much larger boost from Goddess Blessing there, and that's why it's considered the "better" Secret Art. QUESTION>> Why am I getting less Mythril from the crystal formations on a floor of the Training Ground than I did on a previous visit to that floor? ANSWER>> The amount of Mythril you get from destroying the crystal formations on a floor (and from killing all the monsters on that floor) of the Training Ground (or a similar dungeon like the Dimension X Metal Tunnel) is determined by the total number of enemies found on that floor. Since non-boss floors are randomly generated, you'll get less Mythril from crystal formations (and from completely clearing that floor of monsters) if the luck of the draw happened to deal you a smaller floor populated by fewer enemies. QUESTION>> What is added to the game after you finish it? ANSWER>> After beating the game, you'll be given the opportunity to make a "cleared data" save in any slot you wish. When you load this save file, you'll be returned to the start of Chapter 14, and several significant things have changed: -- You can now access Xeyon, Castle of Mysteries (a tough yet most rewarding optional dungeon) via a new Warp Gate entry. -- The Geo-Fortress is now capable of Defense Mode. While the Geo-Fortress is in Defense Mode, no Defensive Battles will occur and your Cannon range is maximized (despite the fact that the Geo-Fortress is not in Cannon Mode). -- You can now fulfill all of Gantetsu's requests and raise his forging level to the maximum level of 18. At forging level 18, you can pay him to temper your equipment up to a maximum enhancement bonus of +18. -- Bornay will always have Light Charms in stock from now on. -- You can now warp straight to Lakton Village to fight the first "storyline" battle of Chapter 14 (instead of having to walk through Gundestor Cavern, Ancient Runed Temple, and Lakton Cave). There will be a large chest of gold in the center of Lakton Village -- another reward for having completed the game. ===================================================================== V. Glitches ===================================================================== Aside from Cyrille's crossbow tricks (particularly the Boar-Slaying Arrow), which exploit enemy patterns which may either be "glitches" or intended behavior (it's hard to say for sure), there have been several other ...interesting... occurrences reported by Shining Force EXA gamers which are definitely bugs or glitches with the programming code. EXP FREEZE As touched on earlier, some of your NPC party members will hit the level cap a few character levels earlier than the area level of the place you're grinding. This occurred to me on the lowest block of floors in the Training Ground, where I discovered that NPC allies must stay within one level of your main character when your main character hits the level cap of the area. Otherwise, your NPC allies will "hit the cap early" and only receive 1 EXP per kill, despite the fact that their own character levels have not yet hit the level cap of the area. AVALON'S VANISHING HP First reported by _MasterQ_ on the Shining Force EXA board, this is a phenomenon where a high-level Avalon (i.e. level 190-200) suffers sudden and massive HP loss without having engaged in battle. Those reporting the glitch say that it typically occurs near the staircases in Xeyon Castle where, upon entering/leaving an area through the staircases, Avalon will suddenly emerge with only 1 HP. Since Avalon has no natural HP recovery, this glitch has largely been a Healing Water-draining inconvenience to those who've experienced it. MALFUNCTIONING FENCE First reported on the Shining Force EXA Japanese Wiki, this is a phenomenon tied to a fence that goes up during a mini-boss battle in Xeyon Castle, Central 2F. For reasons unknown, this fence has, for some gamers, failed to lower even after the destruction of all enemies in the area (thereby forcing a game reset). CHARMED WORMS First reported by tera_majin on the Shining Force EXA board, this is a phenomenon where Sand Worm-class monsters will pop out of the ground but neither attack nor approach you if you're standing sufficiently far away from them (the proper distance is almost the full length of the screen). I've noticed this myself during my frequent trips to Diablo's Palm, and I believe this may simply be scripted behavior for this enemy type -- they're simply not programmed to either attack OR move unless there is a hostile within a reasonable distance, and it creates a "glitchy" look where the Worms appear to be doing absolutely nothing besides hanging out above the ground. DUPLICATE ALLIES This is an extremely rare occurrence: by my recollection, no more than than two gamers have reported having this happen to them. Those players report that, for reasons unknown, duplicates of their NPC party members appear following a normal attempt to switch party members. I have no idea what causes this glitch, and you can view a video of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh6x30T60ek Video courtesy of ChangeV. UNATTAINABLE TREASURE Put your Geo-Fortress in Search Mode (if you've already maxed out the Geo-Fortress's Radar function, any mode will do) and use the Number 3 Gate to access the Geo-Fortress Arena Stage. Go as far north as you can and press L2 to access the radar view of the area. You'll see a glowing red dot -- the radar view indicator for a secret treasure -- at a location off the northern edge of the map. Since this presumed secret treasure is located at a position outside of the boundaries of the Arena Stage map, you can't get to it, nor can you get anything to happen by launching crossbow bolts or ranged magic attacks toward that position. The majority of Shining Force EXA gamers believe that the glowing red dot is caused by a glitch in the programming code, but we may never know for sure. ===================================================================== VI. Save Files ===================================================================== This section is dedicated to offering more detailed (and, in some instances, more accurate) descriptions of the series of Shining Force EXA save game files I've uploaded to GameFAQs. In these save games, all available Power Arts have been maxed (insofar as the Power Arts you're capable of acquiring at that stage of the game), and I've acquired all Secret Arts and party equipment for NPC allies available at that point of the game. Except for Saves #1 and #2, gold and Mythril are maxed in each of these saved games. You may view and download these files using the URL below: http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/ps2/save/934417.html SAVE #1: Uploaded 5/14/07, occupies save slot 20. Saved in Chapter 2, just before the first battle against Philip. Both main characters at level 16 with better gear than the "starter" items following training at the Path of Carnage in the Lakton Highlands. Visit Ancient Arena: Birdling and collect the Red Metal to advance the storyline. SAVE #2: Uploaded 5/14/07, occupies save slot 19. Saved in Chapter 2, just before the encounter with Amitaliri and Faulklin in Ilnad Forest. Toma, Cyrille, Gadfort, and Maebelle are all at level 21 following training at Lakton Highlands. Head west from the Ruins of Yi'el Village to advance the storyline. SAVE #3: Uploaded 5/14/07, occupies save slot 17. Saved near the end of Chapter 3. Toma and Cyrille are at level 130, Amitaliri and Faulklin are at level 131, and Maebelle and Gadfort are at level 58 following training at the Training Ground and in Defensive Battles. 10 Ancient Arenas cleared (Birdling, Orc, Wolfling, Giant, Lightning, Stone, Lizard, Stalker, Dragon, Golem). The Energy Generator and Training Ground functions of the Geo-Fortress are both at level 7. Both main characters are outfitted with quality gear found from the Training Ground. Warp to the Wild Boar Cave to advance the storyline. SAVE #4: Uploaded 5/14/07, occupies save slot 16. Saved near the end of Chapter 4. Garyu has been recruited and is at level 153. Toma and Cyrille are at level 153 as well, whereas Gadfort, Maebelle, Amitaliri, and Faulklin are at level 150. 10 Ancient Arenas cleared (Birdling, Orc, Wolfling, Giant, Lightning, Stone, Lizard, Stalker, Dragon, Golem). Energy Generator and Training Ground both at level 8. Main characters have slightly better gear than in Save #3. Warp to the Noswald Encampment at North Il'Gonia Valley to advance the storyline. SAVE #5: Uploaded 5/14/07, occupies save slot 15. Saved near the end of Chapter 6. Toma, Cyrille, and Faulklin are at level 177, whereas Gadfort, Maebelle, Amitaliri, and Garyu are all at level 175 following training on the lowest floors of the Training Ground. Both main characters have high-quality equipment acquired from the lowest floors of the Training Ground. 12 Ancient Arenas cleared (Birdling, Orc, Wolfling, Giant, Lightning, Stone, Lizard, Stalker, Dragon, Golem, Ghost, Steel). Both the Energy Generator and Training Ground functions of the Geo-Fortress have been fully upgraded, and all 50 floors of the Training Ground have been cleared. Use the mini-teleport in the center of the Geo-Fortress Control Room to warp to Ranburr's Tomb and pick up the Blue Metal there to advance the storyline. SAVE #6: Uploaded 5/14/07, occupies save slot 14. Saved near the end of Chapter 7. Toma and Cyrille are at level 178, Faulklin is at level 180, Duga is at level 177, whereas Gadfort, Maebelle, Amitaliri, and Garyu are all at level 175. 13 Ancient Arenas cleared (Birdling, Orc, Wolfling, Giant, Lightning, Stone, Lizard, Stalker, Dragon, Golem, Ghost, Steel, Ice). As noted in Save #5, the Energy Generator and Training Ground functions have both been "maxed" and the Training Ground has been fully cleared. Main character have roughly the same gear as in Save #5. Use the "Gradium Mine, Inside" warp gate entry to proceed to the battle against the Zircon Lotus. SAVE #7: Uploaded 7/3/2007, occupies save slot 13. Saved near the end of Chapter 12. Toma, Cyrille, Gadfort, Maebelle, Amitaliri, Garyu, and Adam are all at level 187 (the level cap of Training Ground floor B50F/Depths), whereas Faulklin is at level 185, Duga is at level 185, and Avalon is at level 184 on account of the "EXP Freeze" glitch. All 20 non-Legion Ancient Arenas have been cleared. Four of the seven Geo-Fortress functions have been fully upgraded: Energy Generator, Training Ground, Radar, and Robot Factory. The Barrier function is at level 7, the Repair function is at level 5, and the Geo-Fortress Cannon is at level 2. Each main character owns 50 bottles of Healing Water following many trips to Diablo's Palm, each main character is equipped with gear of the highest quality obtainable prior to beating the game, and there is also quality "backup" (i.e. enchanted with mods that are particularly strong in certain specific situations) equipment in storage. All secret treasures on maps accessible thus far have been acquired through usage of the maxed Radar function. Use the "Emperor's Hall" warp gate entry and enter Ragnadaam III's throne room to advance the storyline. SAVE #8: Uploaded 1/15/2008, occupies save slot 12. Saved just before the Dungeon of Ordeal event in Chapter 14. All character levels are the same as in Save #7. All 20 non-Legion Ancient Arenas have been cleared. Character equipment is largely the same as in Save #7, and all secret treasures available have been obtained. Each main character now owns 54 bottles of Healing Water. All Geo-Fortress functions have been maxed except for Cannon, which is at level 9. Choose the main character you want and head to his/her Geo-Fortress quarters to tackle the Dungeon of Ordeal and embark on the sequence of events that ends the game. ===================================================================== VII. Update History/Special Thanks ===================================================================== January 21, 2008 -- Minor fixes and a new FAQ entry. January 15, 2008 -- Minor fixes here and there. January 14, 2008 -- Made some grammatical/stylistic corrections, added many entries to the Mythril Values list, and added another entry to the "Glitches" section. Fielded some more questions in the FAQ section. January 9, 2008 -- Version 1.0 completed (talk about some serious slacking, eh?). May 2007 -- Started work on this guide. Special thanks to Sega for producing and localizing this great game for us all to enjoy. Thanks to the contributors to the Japanese Shining Force EXA Wiki (http://sfx.gkwiki.com/) for providing a great deal of raw data used in many of the lists in Section III. Thanks to my fellow Shining Force EXA board denizens at GameFAQs for inspiring me to write this guide, for contributing to the content found in this guide, and for providing the kick in the pants that spurred me to finally finish it. Thanks to SolidSnake X for reminding me to talk about Demonic Pact and Magic of Insanity (and why I included neither in my recommendations for Secret Arts), and for providing some missing Mythril values. Thanks to Sherry Covert for letting me know that it's possible to access the East Balcan Desert locations as early as Chapter 10. Thanks also to GameFAQs for generously hosting this guide and for offering a great place for Shining Force EXA lovers to congregate and converse. ASCII art header courtesy of the ASCII Generator at http://www.network-science.de/ascii/. Questions? Comments? Corrections? Was there something I missed? Or do you think I'm just flat out wrong about something? Send email feedback to guitarotoko@gmail.com. (C) 2007-2008 Wei Chen