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Restricted Cast, who would you pick?

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When I posted the thread, I was thinking Terra, Locke, Celes, and Sabin. I'm glad that people are coming up with other stuff, though, especially what MysticLord suggested. I'm picturing that as a sort of homage to FF1, where you can pick four generic characters from a cast of six and work your way around the world trying to prevent the second War of the Magi. You'd fail, of course, but it would be a really interesting take on the game.

As for Terra and Locke being mandatory for the game... I wonder.
If the opening Narshe attack were completely cutscene, then you could skip Terra as a player completely (remove those fights as they march in, just use flashes and make the Narshian guards blink out). Then Locke would be your first playable character and Terra becomes more of an NPC, perhaps becoming an Esper option after Zozo.

Alternatively, perhaps LOCKE is an NPC and you use three sets of generic moogles to defend Terra... then the Moonlighter escorts her to Figaro but without being a combatant. That would require reworking the Figaro occupation to be from Celes's perspective, though, if the scenario split were preserved.

Very very happy with how this discussion has gone. Excited to read more.

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In what state are the event editing tools? Are they reasonably usable? IMO that will determine what you can do more than anything besides having a disassembly that uses labels instead of fixed addresses and as such allows you to delete what you don't need to make room for other things.

I would also put effort towards a few functions/methods/subroutines for building arbitrary combat menus with any number of skills contained therein. Being able to use the same function for magic, blitz, swordtech, rage, blue magic, and so on (with branches for subroutines that modify the menu as it's built to display MP or Rage data as appropriate) would be a boon to many hacks. I assume it would need a few parameters loaded into registers before it's called - the menu that's calling it (which is used in the branches), the data table for the skills, and probably info about that table (number of entries, entry length, offsets in each entry's for stuff like MP cost that's relevant to the menu, text for the data).

As for story, here are some ideas I've thought about.

1. Make it about the actual original war of the magi.

2. Children of Vector looked freaking cool as hell, I'd love to see something like that, where you go on a deep dive into esoteric lore of the Empire, Zozo (WTF is up with Zozo?), Fanatics Tower, or something else.

3. You could limit yourself to one continent and massively expand the continent by just not having an airship or boats. With careful management of saves, you might be able to make multiple patches, one for each continent, and have the player progress from one to the other.

4. What happened after the first war of the magi?

5. What are the origins of Strago and Relm's village?

6. What the hell is Umaro, and what's he doing there? Where are the other ones? Is there a village of them?

7. Were there multiple magi wars? Is history cyclical? If you're a spriter, you could give the older iterations different aesthetics.

8. You could make a story centered around the "Literally Who?"s of FF6, like that guy who challenged you to a swordfight on the Phantom Train and other nobodies (Ultros is another good candidate). This feels like a joke patch idea though.

9. What happens if randos get a hold of magicite? How would they behave when they have this incredible ability and no one else but the Empire does? How would that play into the story of FF6, given that there are probably more than like 20 espers?

10. How would a rando finding magicite play out in the long history between the end of the previous war of the magi and before the rise of the empire?

Unless you're changing around a ton of things, you could probably skip the Narshe opening.

11. Branching storylines would be cool but seems like a ton of work and not enough room. Especially if you're typing in opcodes in hex form instead of like a scripting language.

12. What if things had went differently during some part of the early game?

If the soldiers had ordered Terra to stand back while they rope the esper and dragged it back to a waiting expeditionary naval force somewhere to the south, and ordered her to follow at a distance, the early story would be totally different.

Locke would be ordered to trail them, Edgar would presumably try to delay them, and we have to deal with Kefka... assuming Kefka is sent instead of Celes or Leo. If he's not, then he's in Doma and poisons them sooner and maybe the game starts with Cyan, or he's in South Figaro torching it or frying randos for lulz.

From there the story splits - do we get the esper back or not, does the esper flip out at Kefka or Celes? What do we do with whoever is occupying South Figaro? Is Cyan eventually overpowered and captured by the empire, to be tortured and rescued by us or maybe used in an experiment to infuse him with magic (producing the sword magic I mentioned earlier)? Do we do the river scene and escape? What are Sabin and Vargas doing during this time (feels like it would be mostly the same)?

Something to consider: the 2 soldiers and Terra, all in magitek armor, were basically doing an armored patrol. We don't know what they were supposed to do once they found the esper, I'm just assuming they'd drag it off. Seems odd that the empire would send two dudes in very expensive tanks that run on esper juices with zero backup, so perhaps they were just supposed to verify it's there and send a message back for reinforcements.

Issue with Terra is you need someone that's part esper to react with Tritoch, get the espers to open the door to their world, and then leave their world (leaving it defenseless to the empire and getting them to gather near Strago's village) for an easy mop up operation by the empire. Without a half-esper, it's not happening.

Maybe Terra starts to react when one of the soldiers drags the esper out, and the other one body checks her with his magitech armor, knocking her senseless. He then follows a long ways behind the other soldier, carrying unconscious Terra on his armor and presumably tied up since it seems like that would break the slave crown. This seems like a setup for a dilemma later - as the empire approaches their landing ships, do we rescue Terra or the esper?

I just thought that if you put Celes in charge of Narshe esper retrieval, you have a chance for her to betray the empire and join you right then and there. Locke and Celes at game start. Assuming she was in charge of that, it's one of Kefka or Leo in South Figaro and the other in Doma.

If you put Kefka in Doma, you get Cyan captured by the empire, and you can't do crap in South Figaro with someone as competent as Leo in charge. Assuming the empire takes the esper, Terra, or both south, they'd take their entire force with them and wouldn't have a reason to attack Narshe again for quite a while. So you can maybe grab Edgar and dive to the other side of the mountains to get Setzer, or go to the Returners, recruit Sabin, and deal with the river and split party sequence. I'd avoid going through Mount Kolt, find a way to get Sabin out of the mountains, and have Leo destroy the returner hideout so it's not an option.

Okay, recap:
a. Intro is normal, just no battles and maybe NPC Terra.
b. Soldiers disable Terra before she flips out, they order her back, or they anticipate issues and prevent her from getting close to begin with.
c. Soldiers either get reinforcements from the Empire and occupy Narshe (or extract the soldiers and esper), or the soldiers fight their way out with the esper.
d. Soldiers, Terra, and esper rendezvous with a larger imperial force and make their way to a waiting ship, or South Figaro (I'm leaning a waiting ship since South Figaro wouldn't let imperial magitek armor through).
e. Leader of the force tasked with esper retrieval force is Celes, she betrays the empire and we have a battle somewhere south of Narshe, on the plains, in the forest, in the desert, or outside the cave passage to Figaro.
f. If they stole Terra from the Empire, they will be chased. If not, the Empire leaves and we have breathing room.
f1. Locke and Celes stole Terra. They have a choice: go to Figaro Castle, which is surrounded and disappears under the sand, leaving them stranded on the other side of the mountains; go through the cave and try to destroy its entrance, giving them time to warn South Figaro, meet Sabin in Mt Koltz, and meet Bannon and take the river ride (no point in heading to Narshe with no esper, they all leave for Doma); or get on a boat in South Figaro and bail for somewhere else. If they go through the cave, everyone in South Figaro should be in a panic about the impending invasion, and maybe you could have a cutscene where Emperor Gestahl gets a message somehow gets a message and assigns Leo to lead the troops to conquer South Figaro and crush the Returners and Narshe.
f2. Locke and Celes escaped alone. Basically the same as above, only with more options and no empire chasing them. Kinda boring, better to steal Terra IMO. This branch is closed.
g. While all this is happening, Kefka already poisoned everyone in Doma days or weeks ago. He threw dozens of soldiers at Cyan until he was exhausted, then captured him and proceeds to torture and mock him on the way back to Vector. Maybe he intercepts the message for Gestahl and takes charge of the returning esper to kiss up to Gestahl, and to send Leo away from the empire for a while so Cyan can be experimented with free of Leo's influence.
h1. On the other side of the mountains, Locke, Celes, and Terra are kinda stuck and need something to do here. No airship yet, no Setzer, and maybe no Shadow (unless he was hired by the empire and bailed with you). Though you have Celes, so you can go to the Opera house and maybe do that early. You could go to Zozo and meet Ramuh, didn't think of that. With Ramuh to tell you what's up with Terra, give you some magicite, and an airship from Setzer, you can open up more of the world.
h2. If you went through the cave with the empire chasing you, you have no reason to head back to Narshe. You proceed through the largely abandoned imperial camp, avoid Doma Castle, go through the haunted forest, dive off the falls, and basically go through the rest of Sabin's scenario, just with Locke, Celes, Sabin, and no Cyan yet. You can't go back to South Figaro though, so you are kinda stranded here. Makes a lot more sense to head to Figaro Castle instead of the cave, and it opens up more of the game and gives you magicite faster. This branch is closed.

Later on you meet Sword Mage Cyan in Vector, extract him from a vat of esper juice, and recruit him.

You'll need to meet Sabin at some point too, maybe you could do a party split after Zozo and have Sabin duel Vargas and his bears, then head down to see WTF is going on in South Figaro, only to be arrested for being threateningly huge by imperials and interrogated (without torture) by Leo. Maybe Leo carts him back to the Empire to be a hostage, to ensure that Edgar doesn't do anything stupid. Thus the party runs into him either in Vector, or somewhere in the southern continent after having escaped vector.

You could make the breakout from Vector part of the party split event, and rescue Cyan! Not sure how it could end, you could be wandering around in the wilderness outside Vector and see and airship in the sky, see Celes, and have Cyan instantly challenge her to a duel, and there's your entire party minus Blue Mage uber-Gau and whoever your 6th team member is.

All that from one thing changing at the start of the game.

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From a story experience standpoint, I'd caution heavily against removing Terra as a playable character. There is a connection you get to characters from having them in your team that doesn't happen by just having them in events, and that connection is crucial for making the characters care about the Espers, particularly Maduin.

I mean, as I've mentioned before, Sabin has pretty much zero impact on the overarching story. Once Vargas is defeated, his arc is over (and that's before he's even on your team). For every other scene where Sabin shows up, aside from the Figaro flashback sequence, his role could be filled by any other character. Even his scenario is more about Cyan than it is about him. However, Sabin SEEMS important to us, and that's for 2 reasons:
1. Blitz was a great ability that kept him in everyone's party.
2. If you're playing without a guide, he's likely the first character you recruit in the World of Ruin.
Because of that, players "wrote" a story in their heads in which Sabin was essential. That's the kind of connection people need to feel towards Terra.

Divergent Paths: The 3 Scenarios (Completed) - a redo of the 3 scenarios in the original game that gives equal time to each group. Meant to be a basis for future mods.
FFVI: Divergent Paths (In Progress) - a hack built off of the 3 scenarios that changes other events in the same, such as making Leo permanently recruitable, bringing Banon's story closure, and adding 1 more secret character.

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Fair point.

I doubt I'd actually set up a hack like this. I'm using it more as research for what I want to do with an FF1 plot. I want Sara of Corneria to be important but not playable, so my thought was that she'd be the only one who could USE crystals (thus being the character displayed whenever a summon is activated in combat). The principle seems like it would work with Terra as well, supposing you didn't want the Espers to be able to manifest once they'd perished (it'd be Terra releasing the power in the magicite instead).

In some ways, that puts her in EVERY party, but in others it marginalizes her role in the actual gameplay. I'm not sure how I'd feel about that, I have to think about it more.

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