I've been meaning to write this for a while, but never really got around to it. FFXI takes a lot of its content from the previous FF games, since it's an online game catering to players of the series, many things, such as the avatars, the character names, the magic, the jobs, and sometimes even the NPC speech are references or reuses of past Final Fantasy content. It's part of the reason I play it, and why other people do - to be able not to say "my Terra really kicked ass using black magic," but to say "I kick ass as a Black Mage."
Talking in game and providing opinions on these forums often leads to discussions about the past games, of which many FFXI players have played. As I have played every game in the series, all but one (FFII) to completion, and own most of them, I decided I would provide a history of the jobs of FFXI, as they all undoubtedly come from earlier installments of the series.
There are a few things to note before reading this post, of course. Firstly, I have used the original numbering system. The two games originally released in the U.S. under different numbers were renamed for their PlayStation remakes, and FFII and V were also released here as part of those collections. The only game yet to be released officially in English is the original FFIII for the Famicom. Secondly, the list is in order of jobs primarily, and then games secondarily. This is to allow one to pick and choose individual job histories to read, and also to leave out any games which didn't directly include a certain job. Thirdly, below each list of games for a given job is a section of notes overviewing the job and listing its more minor appearances and relations to games not listed under their own heading. Fourth, the list is presented in the order in which the jobs are listed in the job level and job change menus, as well as the Vana'diel World Report, which means the standard jobs are first, and the extra jobs are later. Finally, it may contain spoilers for certain FF games.
I've worked hard on this, and I hope people enjoy reading it at least as much as I did writing it.
FF - Warrior (or "Fighter") was first introduced at the very beginning. As with most games in the series that include Warrior, it was the basic armor-wearing, any-weapon-wielding physical job. Powerful and versatile, setting the stage for future Warrior jobs. They upgraded into Knights (Paladins).
FFIII - Again, the basic physical job, which would wield various weapons and armor. Although this time it was not a starting job, as everyone started off as an Onion Kid.
FFX-2 - Warrior is Paine's default job in this game. Warriors deal damage with swords, and like everything else in X-2, don't wear any armor. They also have various "Swordplay" abilities for dealing damage in different ways and debilitating the enemy.
Notes - Although Warrior appears in few FF games formally, it is often spread out among other jobs in almost all of the series. In FFT, the basic physical job is a Sqire, and is very similar to Warrior in function, while the Knight job has the Warrior's "Break" abilities. In FFTA, there is a job called "Warrior," but it does not share the same Japanese name, and functions differently - instead, the Warrior's abilities are divided amongst things like Soldier, Fighter, and Defender. In FFIX, Steiner functions as half-Warrior, as does Tidus in FFX (or at least so he is set up to be).
FF - Monk was somewhat similar in use to Warrior in the original. Instead of armor and weapons however, the Monk had a gi and bare fists. The Monk was allowed to use staves and nunchaku, but they were almost always worse than having him pummel things bare-handed. Later on, Monks became Masters, who were just better Monks in every way.
FFIII - Monk was back again for the third game, and this time it was given a much-needed boost which has lasted all through FFXI - gobs of HP. Monk had the highest HP of any job if I remember correctly, and made it so they could measure up to Warriors a bit more evenly. FFIII had the same upgrade later on - simply a better Monk.
FFIV - Yang was FFIV's Monk, and with him he brought the almighty Kick ability. He tore things up with his fists, and if you were attacked by multiple enemies at once, he could do a flying kick and damage them all. He was also the first Monk to use claw-type weapons.
FFV - The Monk job of FFV was very similar to Yang in FFIV. They fought with their fists and could kick the entire battlefield for less damage. This time however, they got an ability called Chakra, which would restore HP and status effects. Several job abilities gave them more and more HP boots.
FFVI - While FFVI did not include job names in the U.S. releases, the original Japanese versions had them, and Sabin (Mash) was its Monk. He had the HP, and the fists, as well as the claw weapons, but also used the unique Blitz command. By entering moves as if you were playing some sort of 2-D fighting game, Sabin would do all sorts of neat tricks, including pure damage, an energy beam, and a self-sacrafice maneuver.
FFT - Because FFT basically gave every job a set of command abilities, this was the game where all of the Monk's assorted command-type abilities come from (save Kick of course). The FFT Monk had Chakra again, allowing the Monk to heal his own status ailments. It also had many other abilities, including spinning around and raising the dead.
FFTA - Well, okay, so it's called "White Monk," but whatever. All the same good stuff is here - they're very similar to the FFT Monk.
FFIX - This time, jobs weren't included in either the Japanese or overseas releases, but as the entire game was an homage to earlier FF titles, pretty much everyone has a job anyway. Amarant was clearly a Monk, with his Chakra abilities and a set of claws.
Notes - As Monk was in so many of the games, there isn't much else to talk about, and none of their abilities were really included in the games that didn't have jobs. FFVII's Tifa used her bare hands to fight though, as did FFVIII's Zell. Zell's Limit Break was also a fighting game-like input.
FF - The original White Mage was very similar to all the White Mages to come. She would heal your party of HP damage and status ailments as well as protecting them from physical and magical attacks. Several white magic spells from the first game were left behind however, such as Dia, which did damage to undead (Cure takes this function in future games). As with all mages from the original, their MP was instead spells-per-level, a la D&D (like the rest of the game).
FFIII - Pretty much the same again here - healing and more healing, as well as buffs. The white magic Libra was first added in this game, allowing the player to view the enemy's stats. When they upgrade later on, they wear a hood with cat ears - no joke.
FFIV - Rosa was the White Mage of FFIV. She had pretty much all the good spells as FFIII White Mages, and was the first to use a Pray abilitiy, which healed everyone for a small amount of HP at no MP cost. She also had Float, a new addition as far as I know.
FFV - White Mages in V were, again, pretty much the same. White Mages were mostly done right by FFIV - as with most magic in FF games, additions are not extremely common. Krile, or whatever her name is supposed to be, has the cat-eared robe from FFIII as a White Mage.
FFT - White Mages were back in FFT, along with most jobs, but unlike Monk received pretty much nothing in the way of additions. Not only that, their Raise spells could...miss.
FFIX - Again, while no one actually had any jobs stated, they all had jobs in IX. Both Dagger and Eiko had white magic, and Dagger even wears the traditional white robes with red triangles in one of the early CG sequences.
FFTA - TA had the same White Mages as previous games, white robes with red triangles and all. Cure spells, Raise spells, Protect and Shell...all back again for the eighth time or so.
FFX-2 - This kept generally the same spells from FFX, as well as its Pray ability (first in FFIV and used again in VI) which heals everyone for a small amount of HP at no MP cost.
Notes - Whew, White Mage is a great job, and that repetative list above just goes to show that they pretty much had the job right the first time, and perfected by the fourth. White magic is present in all FF games, regardless of whether it has any jobs or not. In additon, certain characters are set up to be healers, regardless of whether they have to by the rules of the game or not, such as FFVII's Aerith, and FFX's Yuna. Also, though FF2 is not mentioned as it had no jobs, white magic got a big boost from allowing for multiple targets for the same spell (rather than a separate spell).
FF - Black Mage was a little less powerful in the original than it became in the games to follow, but most of the original still came here first. Elemental spells in the only three elements included in all FF games (Fire, Ice, and Lightning) were available, as well as status infliction and instant death spells.
FFIII - Mostly the same as the first two's spells, the redundant death spells had been removed by this point, and one of the funniest FF spells was kept from the last game (FFII) - Frog/Toad (credit to RavagerOfWorlds).
FFIV - Palom was the only character listed as a Black Mage in IV, though he was an amature wielder of black magic compared to FuSoYa and Rydia. Additionally, they apparently thought there weren't enough silly transformation spells, so in FFIV, you can change enemies into frogs and pigs. Meteo(r) also starts right here, as a black magic spell.
FFV - Pretty much vanilla here, as with most jobs in FFV. Piggy was removed (and we'll never see it again), as was Meteo(r), except Meteo(r) was really just moved to time magic instead. Flare is once again the ultimate black magic spell as it was before. Exdeath (or X-Death), the big, bad guy you're trying to thwart is also a Black Mage.
FFT - This time black magic kills people, and it kills them dead. Extremely powerful, but also somewhat easy to cast on your own units, with much undesired results. And, along with the rest of the game, which appears to have been translated by a first-year Japanese student, units say ridiculously nonsensical things when they cast spells, like "Strip away the ground with glistening blades! Bolt!!"
FFIX - Hey, it may not have said it in the character screen, but at least they were mentioned by name in the story. Vivi is the Black Mage of FFIX; one of the most well-liked characters in a FF game from what I hear. The FFXI Black Mage is about the one thing in the game that still bothers me - if all Black Mages are manufactured, why are there normal people walking the streets as Red Mages? People have to be able to cast black magic without being manufactured, right? Then why don't you see any at all? They brought back the old-school look for the job for Vivi though (and the other Black Mages), and managed to fit it in nicely.
FFX - "Hey, but this time there were no jobs!" True, but unless you play the International version or play an extremely strange game of FFX, Lulu is a Black Mage, pure and simple. In addition, Wakka refers to her as such near the start of the game. In this game, black magic is divided into four elements, the classic FF three and water, which are divided into two nonsensically opposed sets.
FFTA - Black Mages casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down, once again. Although this time they can...miss. Like all other abilities, black magic in FFTA can completely miss its target, and it manages to do so while wasting your MP too. The main character's sidekick, Montblanc the moogle is a Black Mage by default, as well.
FFX-2 - Black Mages in FFX-2 are...sexy. Nothing is quite the same kind of attractive as skin-tight outfits with giganticly wide-brimmed steepled hats. But seriously, black magic itself suffers a little in this game compared to the last few. It's a little on the weak side, and anything beyond simple elemental spells (same elements as FFX) are painfully difficult to use in battle. They sure do look good though.
Notes - Black Mage is a Final Fantasy staple job, and as with white magic, no game in the series is without black magic. Not listed in the games above were important additions to the list of magic spells available to offensive casters. Ultima, the non-elemental ultimate black magic spell was first introduced in FFVI, and used in every FF game after (save XI), although it was a weird Ramza-only technique in FFT, and a Totema summon in FFTA. The "ancient magic" spells come from both FFVI and FFVII, as well as one from the original FF (Quake).
FF - Red Mage, like the rest of the standard jobs, started in the original FF. They could use black magic and white magic, as well as wield a sword, but were not as good at any of the three as Black Mages, White Mages, and Warriors, respectively. They were jacks of all trades, and masters of none. People would sometimes create parties consisting entirely of Red Mages in order to have balance throughout, or have them replace a White Mage in order to have access to healing, but still be able to beat things up when healing wasn't needed. They upgrade into better versions of themselves, like most mage jobs in FF.
FFIII - One of the first jobs you gain access to, Red Mage does what it did in the first game. They don't really have an upgrade though, and are much less useful than in the first game, due to the introduction of powerful summoning magic and sages, which could cast all magic with no penalty. People use them in the beginning, then make them into something else later.
FFV - Red Mages got a whole lot better again in the fifth installment. They had their low-level white and black magic, and their swords (including the traditional overpowered Red Mage-only ones), and, upon mastering their job, they had access to the ability that would later become Doublecast, which made them godly. The ability not only allowed any mage to cast two spells, it also gave access to all of the Red Mage spells. Every mage wanted to be a master Red Mage.
FFTA - I honestly have a bit of trouble with FFTA since I didn't really mess with most of the jobs, but they seemed to be the FFV version all over again - low-level black and white magic, and Doublecast.
Notes - Red Mage, while only present in four games as a job, was in the original, and is a favorite for many players. Its disclusion in all of the titles that didn't have jobs was obvious - anyone in FFII/VI/VII/VIII/X could learn whatever spells they wanted to, so there was no need to refer to everyone as a "red mage." In IV and IX, there were no characters designed as Red Mages, but in IX, you meet several NPCs named "Female/Male Red Mage." This was partially due to IX being an homage game, of course, and Red Mage being popular with players. In FFIV, Tellah was a Sage and FuSoYa was a Lunarian, but they could both cast black and white magic, so that's kind of like a Red Mage, I guess. Also, in FFV, the sword enchantments that they have in XI belonged to a job that did nothing but buff their own weapons with black magic - Sorcerer.
FF - Thief comes from the base job of the same name in the original. Thieves were kind of, well...crappy in FF, unable to deal much damage, or take any. They were used in order to have the very powerful Ninja later on, and to be able to flee from battle faster.
FFIII - In this game Thieves could steal things! About time really - what's a thief who can't...thieve? This was their only real ability though; the original three 8-bit games were a bit lacking in melee variety for abilities.
FFV - Ah yes, the game that gave everyone more than one special command to use on their turn. Thieves could do all sorts of new sneaky tricks, including running instantly from battle, being able to see hidden passageways, moving at twice the normal walking speed through towns and dungeons, and preventing their party from being surprised. They could still steal of course, and eventually obtained the ability to steal and attack at the same time - Mug. Because V was the second game (first was IV) to include speed instead of having everyone attack once per round, Thieves became one of the fastest jobs, with the most turns.
FFT - Thieves stole stuff. Oh, they stole lots of stuff. Thieves had multiple different commands under the Steal menu, in order to attempt to steal very specific things. They had a command for each type of equipment (weapon, shield, helmet, armor, accessory), as well as one for nabbing some gil. They could even steal experience points from others, as well as their hearts (Charm)! They had good movement and speed as well, naturally. Thieves are extremely useful, as certain equipment can only be obtained through stealing, as has been the case since FFV at least, but is very, very common in FFT.
FFTA - Pretty much the same as FFT, except no Charm and Counter instead. Charm is normally a Beastmaster/Trainer ability, and Counter is normally a Monk ability. Wonder what's with tactics games giving random things to Thief. They're also as useful as they were in the original FFT, with so many abilities at their disposal.
FFIX - No real jobs were present in IX, but the main character Zidane was at least part Thief, using daggers and stealing things. He was also part of a theatre troupe/band of thieves, and anytime the other members were in your party temporarily, they also had the Steal command. Again, stealing was very important in securing items not normally found in the game, although it was largely for things you would get later, but were super-powerful right now.
FFX - Again, no real jobs here, but Rikku was certainly made out to be a Thief. Her standard path in the original version of the game set her to be fast and steal things. She was also part Chemist though - a job from a couple other games.
FFX-2 - Rikku's automatic job was Thief, and of course anyone could switch into the job. They could Steal items, as well as "Pilfer" HP, gil, and MP. They also had party support abilities that made items drop more often, and put the battles initially in your favor. They could also inflict some status ailments like Stop and Berserk. Additionally, Thieves apparently like to wear as little clothing as possible.
Notes - Thieves are a FF staple, and their Steal ability, while not in the first game, is present in almost all of them. In FFVI, there is no Thief, even though the characters did have jobs; Locke could Steal, but he was an Adventurer, or a Treasure Hunter, never a Thief! Yuffie was also a bit of a thief, stealing your materia and all. Even in the games with no jobs, stealing was an important part of the game.
FF - As Paladins are called "Knights" in most of the Japanese games, it gets a little confusing here, as the translations have swapped the term around a bit. The Knights of FF were the upgraded Warriors, and could wear heavy armor, wield all kinds of weapons, and cast low-level white magic.
FFIII - Knights are back. They have the same name, the same look, and the same weapons, and...none of the magic? In FFIII, Knights were the Warrior upgrade, but could cast no magic. Later on, there was a Magic Knight, which functioned like the original Knight of FF. III had many three-tiered job progressions, so white magic didn't come in until the third one. Strangely, the Magic Knights, which could cast only white magic, look a lot like Dark Knights.
FFIV - People really liked FFIV, and its main character, Cecil, the Dark Knight-turned-Paladin, is one of the reasons. Cecil was a Dark Knight in the beginning of the game, working for his kingdom which has forced him to train as such. He soon learns of their evil nature however, and takes a pilgrimage to become a Paladin who can fight evil. He looks like the Knights from FF and FFIII, and casts some white magic. He also brings the almighty Cover ability into FF games, allowing him to throw himself in front of his fellow warriors in order to protect them.
FFV - Hmm...no magic here again, and they kind of stay like that. The magic knight later on was a weapon enchanter, not a paladin as well. It's possible that the Knight was actually a Warrior though, but I do not have access to the original Japanese game at the moment, so the job is included here. Heavy armor and lots of weapons here.
FFT - FFT had Knights without magic too! Again, these Knights were more like Warriors, and even have the Break abilities that Warriors have become known for. They were the only Knights to really function like real-life Knights though; they could mount chocobos and fight their enemies with brutal war tactics.
FFTA - The Paladin as a holy warrior returns again. This time, they don't have magic really, but can heal themselves and those around them and Cover allies. They are also fair and honorable, and attempt to Parley with the enemy, as well as subdue them with a blow from the butt of their sword. Additionally, they can deal massive Holy damage at the cost of some MP.
Notes - Kind of strange actually, as I expected there to be many games with the heavily-armored warriors who can cast low-level white magic. There are other characters from different games who seem somewhat like Knights. Steiner from FFIX certainly looks like a Knight, and he has those Break abilities, which seem to jump around between Knight and Warrior, but he's more of a Warrior probably. Beatrix, however, is a holy knight, using "Seiken" ("holy sword") techniques and some white magic. She also wields the Save the Queen, a traditional Knight/Paladin weapon. For similar reasons as Red Mage, Knight as a hybrid job does not exist at all in the games which didn't have a rigid job system.
FFIV - Wow, a job that didn't start until the fourth game. As previously stated, Cecil was a Dark Knight at the beginning of FFIV. He dealt lots of damage, and wore big, black armor. He also had an ability that dealt damage to all enemies at the cost of his own HP.
FFT - Well, okay, it wasn't really a playable job, but one character who was a guest and an enemy in FFT was a Dark Knight - Gafgarion. He wore the black armor, and he stole HP from long range, and he was mean. No ability to sacrifice his own though. He was also a mercenary, swearing allegience to whomever paid him the most.
FFX-2 - Most similar to the FFXI incarnation, Dark Knights could inflict more damage through sacrificing their own HP (two separate abilities for such), as well as use "dark" magic: Drain, Bio, Break, Confuse, Death, Doom, and Demi. They also had immunity to several status ailments - all the ones they could inflict themselves.
Notes - Not really in too many FF games I guess. They've mostly stayed the same in all of their incarnations though. The original FF Ninja functioned somewhat as a Dark Knight, as there was no ninjutsu yet. Also, the Magic Knight (Paladin, basically) of FFIII looked a lot like a Dark Knight, even though he could only cast white magic. Steiner from FFIX, who was mostly like a Warrior, could eventually use a Darkness ability which would sacrifice HP for damage (credit: Langolier). You also fight a "dark knight" named Garland in the first FF. Additionally, I've been told that a dark knight of sorts joins you in FFII (credit: njboy, YibTheGalka).
FFIII - First game to include the Bard, although many people view them to be utterly useless at this time. They could Scare the enemy, which would cause them to either miss attacks or run away, and they could Cheer for their party, which would cause them to attack more each round (Haste). They could also "Sing," but that really just meant "attack with a harp."
FFIV - Edward was the Bard of FFIV. He was kind of a little wussy. He was the first Bard who could actually sing songs in order to enhance his party though. He could also Hide from the battle, allowing him to avoid attacks and not do anything himself. He had fallen in love with Tellah's daughter, which Tellah hated.
FFV - The Bard of FFV was a support character who would sing your party songs in order to make them more effective. The songs were scattered around the world in all sorts of odd places, frequently in people's houses. One was gained by playing all the pianos in the world and becoming a master pianist (each song you play is better than the last).
FFT - In Tactics, the Bard was one of a very, very few units that had no range restrictions. A Bard could make your entire party better all at once, without all of them having to be right next to each other. They could restore HP or MP, make you faster, stronger, better at magic, or cause random status boosts for everyone. Only the HP and MP ones were garaunteed to hit everyone though. They could...fly, too. Yay for flying Bards. Definitely one of the best jobs in the game. Oh, and Bard was male ONRY.
FFX-2 - Well, as with several of the jobs, the name of Bard was changed, although it was partially due to its merging with the Dancer job for this installment. The Songstress (Pop Star) job could both buff allies and debuff enemies. Some abilities were instantaneos too, which was a slight departure from previous games which had the player continually sing to get the continued benefits of singing, although some song effects also used to last until the end of battle as well.
Notes - Except for the original FFIII Bard, they seem to have kept mostly the same. Bards are all support and nothing much else, buffing your party to make them more powerful, and sometimes crippling your enemies. Also, being support, Bards in all FF games benefit from having more people to work with. It's difficult to relegate one of your three or four characters to only support, but in the games with five- or six-character parties, Bards truly shine.
FFV - Translated as "Trainer" (their Japanese name roughly translates to "beast user"), FFV was the first game to feature Beastmasters. They would Tame beasts, and also Control them in order to have them attack the other enemies. Control would allow you to command the enemy as if they were your own character, but would not allow the Trainer him/herself to take turns. They could also Catch a monster when it was low on HP, and then Release it once later to have it use a powerful attack. They were also the only job (other than bare/no job) able to equip whips. Their Control ability was sometimes necessary to teach certain blue magic to Blue Mages.
FFTA - After a long absence due to games without jobs, Beastmaster returns in FFTA (which had a whole lot of jobs - possibly more than any other FF game). This time they used music to Control monsters, instead of whips. They had to learn a specific ability for each monster family, and then they could take control of that type for one turn. They could also become immune to all status ailments after some time. Again vital in learning certain beneficial blue magic that enemies normally won't cast on your party.
FFX-2 - This time, the "Trainer" name is back, but is different for each character. They also each have a different pet that is part of the job permanently. Yuna has Yojinbo's pet dog from FFX, Kodaigo, and can deal elemental damage with a chance of inflicting a corresponding status ailment, heal people of HP damage and status ailments, and cause instant death or death sentence (Doom). Rikku has a monkey named Ghiki which can steal things and cause status ailments, as well as heal allies. As a joke, the names for Ghiki's Blindness and Silence attacks are named after the -no-evil monkeys in Japanese. Paine has a hawk named Flurry, who causes status ailments on enemies, and does the most healing out of all three characters, as well as buffing. All three Trainers get abilities that halve MP consumption, and gain HP and MP while walking around. Unfortunately, the Control ability was removed from the game entirely, and blue magic had to be learned through the slow process of Charm/Confuse, neither of which were available to Trainer. They had their own pets, and did pretty much nothing with the surrounding wildlife.
Notes - A strange job to be sure, they act kind of awkwardly in traditional single-player FF games. They were only in a couple of games before FFXI was made, but their Control ability was around in VI and VII at least. In VI, Relm's Sketch ability can be changed to Control through the use of an accessory, and used for teaching Strago blue magic. Though they do not serve such a purpose in FFXI, Beastmasters traditionally compliment blue mages rather well.
FFIII - There was a Ranger-type job in FFIII first. They could equip bows, and, something somewhat unique to the FF series, ammunition. In this game they could also cast level 1-3 white magic (remember, at this point in time the games were still tied to D&D a little bit, where most everyone gained some low level magic in the end). They weren't extremely powerful though, not even as good as everyone else unless you used magic arrows, which were very expensive to maintain.
FFV - In FFV there was a Hunter again, continuing the tradition of expensive attacks. They could Aim this time around in order to raise their hit chance (first from FFIV), and they could eventually attack four times in one turn, with each attack dealing half damage. They also looked like your characters were wearing a Robin Hood costume.
FFT - Archers in FFT could equip both crossbows and bows, but guns were Chemist territory. Archers could Charge up their attacks, taking longer to use but hitting harder, and could also hit pretty much anyone anywhere if they were on a high enough hill. Also, they didn't require any ammunition in FFT, making them deadly from a distance at no great cost. There was also Mustadio, who was a mechanic or something, but used guns, and "Aim" abilities.
FFTA - There were three different ranged attackers in FFTA. There were Archers, Hunters (the real Ranger; same Japanese name), and Snipers. Assassins were also half-range, I believe. They were all very good, and could use bows as well as guns. The game was extremely easy to begin with, but throw in some of these jobs, and it becomes a complete joke most of the time. They also did not use ammunition.
FFX - There weren't really any jobs in X, again, but there was only one character who could hit from range normally, and that was Wakka. Instead of guns and bows he used a...sport ball. He could throw his blitzball extremely far distances and have it return to him. Also, his default path gave him abilities similar to other ranged jobs which would inflict status ailments and hit for regular damage.
FFX-2 - The ranged job from FFX-2 was Gunner, and it was Yuna's default job. They would deal damage with guns, and use one of the most fun abilities in the game - Trigger Happy, which would allow you a certain amount of time to hit as many times as you could press a trigger button.
Notes - Ranger (more commonly Hunter, and sometimes Archer) has been around in several games. They first started in FFII really, which had the first bows, though there were no jobs. Most of the job-based games feature them though, and they seem to be somewhat popular among players. FFIV's Rosa was also an archer, although her job was listed as White Mage. She also required ammunition to hit things, and was the first ranged attacker to have the Aim command.
FFV - The first game Samurai were in was the second game with a changable job system. They could smack the enemy upside the head with their katana and paralyze them, grab the enemy's weapon to evade attacks, and perform a single swift draw in an attempt to destroy all their foes. They could also throw gil at all enemies, dealing heavy damage. I assume this was a joke that certain Samurai could "throw money" at their problems and make them go away. They were very powerful defensively and offensively. They were also the first Samurai to sport the gold crescent helment and traditional Samurai brigandine.
FFVI - There was actually a Samurai in FFVI, and his name was Cyan. Or maybe Cayenne. Whatever. One of the more loved FF characters, Cyan was the retainer to a kingdom that was poisoned to death. He lost his liege and his family, and swore to fight against those responsible. Cyan had sword techniques rather than the ability to toss money around. Basically, he had eight (thanks to a few people for correcting my typo of "ten" here) different abilities, which would charge up in order from 1 to 8. You hit the confirm button once the gauge hit the number for the technique you wanted to use. He had all kinds of different abilities available to him through this command. He could deal high physical damage, go into an automatic counterattack mode, attack four times on random enemies, deal 50% of an enemy's HP and inflict Seizure, steal HP and MP, hit every enemy and inflict Stop, and hit all enemies with instant death. The charge times made some of the abilities pretty useless though, as he'd get your whole party killed while waiting for it.
FFT - Samurai in FFT were pretty interesting. They would equip katanas, and use an ability called Draw Out to, well, draw out the hidden abilities lying dormant within their weapon. Different Draw Out attacks would have different effects, usually magical in nature, affecting targets near the Samurai. They could also still equip the heaviest armor, and were still excellent tanks, as in the previous two titles they appeared in.
FFX-2 - Samurai are back in the direct sequel to FFX, with more abilities than ever. This time, they could throw gil again, instantly defeat one enemy or all of them, damage all enemies, delay an enemy's turn, deal MP damage, and become more powerful after dispatching enemies or taking damage. They could also heal and buff themselves. A very powerful and self-sufficient job.
Notes - The most interesting thing about Samurai seems to be that, excepting equipment, they can't decide on what a Samurai is supposed to be doing. The general theme is "cool tricks with a katana," and most of them mirror stereotypical Samurai stunts from legends and movies and such. Katanas have also existed in many of the games, as has the ability to throw gil for damage. Auron from FFX also seems a lot like a Samurai - he equips katanas at the least.
FF - Ninja, strangely enough, have been around since the very first game. They were the upgrade of the Thief job, and could equip better things and wield low-level black magic, as ninjutsu did not yet exist as its own set of abilities. They were one of the very few reasons to put up with having a Thief in the early game.
FFIII - Ninja were the ultimate, end-all, be-all physical job in FFIII. They could dual wield any weapon in the game, and wear all the armor too. They dealt ridiculous damage, and soaked up a fair amount as well. They were also the only job that could wield the almighty shuriken, a disposable weapon that did the most damage in the game. By the end of the game, most people would have two Sages (who could wield all magic) and two Ninja, because they just outclassed everything else at doing everything. No magic this time though - all physical.
FFIV - Edge was the Ninja of FFIV. He was one of your final party members, and was also the first Ninja to have his own set of Ninjutsu abilities. He could deal elemental damage to all enemies, Pin them down, run away using a smoke bomb, or use what would become a staple Ninja abilitiy - Utsusemi. He also stole things for some reason; probably because there was no Thief character.
FFV - Ninja had lost its Ninjutsu menu this time around, but still had various abilities to use. Utsusemi was still there, and didn't cost anything at all. Additionally, they could throw things by default, and also learn to throw smoke bombs, allow their party to get the jump on enemies, and of course wield two weapons at once for massive damage. The game also made buying throwing weapons a possibility for once.
FFVI - Shadow was actually listed as an "Assassin," I believe, but everyone knows he was a Ninja. He wore stereotypical Ninja clothing, and threw things. He also had a dog named Interceptor who would block attacks, and sometimes freak out and kill people when using Shadow's Attack command. He has a bad reputation, and he only works for money in the beginning of the game, but he's really a good guy at heart, and wants to help out.
FFT - Ninja were back in FFT, and they were freakishly powerful. They could dual wield powerful weapons, allowing them to take out most units in one or two turns. They were also fast, and could move far in one turn. If by some chance they couldn't reach anyone in time, they could throw things for pretty good damage as well, ensuring they could harm something almost every turn they got. No Utsusemi this time though, they were more about damage in this game.
FFTA - Ninja were similar to the Ninja from FFT in FFTA. They would dual wield and throw things. However, they got their Ninjutsu menu back, which contained elemental damage spells that would inflict status ailments. They could also dispel positive buffs on enemies, but didn't have Utsusemi.
Notes - Ninja is a more prevalent job in the FF universes than one might expect. For something originally based on D&D and largely western myhtologically based, Ninja don't logically fit in all that well, but they're important to the developers, and the players love them too. A physical job in all of the games they were in, they also often have other support abilites through Ninjutsu. Yuffie was also set up to be a Ninja in FFVII even though it had no real jobs - she had a gigantic shuriken weapon, and came with the Throw materia.
FFIII - Not the most well-known game really, but it sure was the basis for a lot of FF mainstays, including Dragoon. Being a fairly simple job in most games, they came with most of their toys in the first game they were in. Heavy armor, a spear, and a Jump so high it takes them until the next turn to land - it was all there in FFIII first.
FFIV - One of the most well-liked characters in the entire FF series, Kain was the Dragoon of FFIV. He was the main character Cecil's best friend, and though a good man at heart, was taken over by the enemy through his love for Rosa. He later returned to his senses to fight by your side to the end though. He had the spear, the heavy armor, and the Jump command of course, and although the color of his armor was disputed, the way he looked (not the look of the FFIII Dragoon) became the standard for all Dragoons to follow.
FFV - One of the physical jobs of FFV, called "Lancer" in the English version, Dragoon actually got one new ability! They got "Lance," which would later be called Lancet, and stole HP and MP from the target. Still had heavy armor, spears, and Jump, naturally.
FFT - Called "Lancer" in the English version at least again, Dragoon was one of the few jobs that was kind of cheated out of new abilities even with all the adding they did in FFT. They could learn abilities to extend the distance and height to which they could Jump, but most were redundant, as Jump8 abilities allowed for all of the distances 1-8 at once. No need for Jump2 or whatnot. However, they were very powerful, and didn't really need anymore abilities. They could attack from two panels away by using spears, which also dealt heavy damage, and were heavily armored. Always good to have a job skilled in both defense and offense.
FFIX - Freya, one of my favorite FF characters was a Dragon Knight (Dragoon) in the tradition of her country. She fell in love with another knight, who set off to train and fight evil. She chases after him for a long time, to eventually find that he has lost his memory. A strong character with a quick wit, she has skills to match. She can Jump of course, and wear heavy armor, as well as use Dragon magic. Dragon magic was learned from various spears, and did varied things, including giving Regen to all party members and damaging the enemy in different ways. When in Trance, Freya could Jump in the air and stay there, raining spears down on all enemies each round until the Trance effect wore off.
FFTA - Dragoons were back as Dragoons, and they had all the old stuff I've listed five times. They also had Lancet again, along with some dragon-based abilities. They could use three elemental breath attacks, persuade dragons to leave the battle, and also deal heavy damage to dragons.
Notes - Dragoon is a FF fan favorite. It's also pretty unique to the FF series. Other games may have bards, and healers, and warriors, but only FF games have dragon knights that jump onto their foes with spears. Other games did include the Jump command, such as FFVI's accessory which allowed its use, and FFVII's Cid was obviously made to be the Dragoon of the game if anyone was, as his Limit Breaks were Jump attacks and he used a spear. Khimari from FFX was somewhat set up to be a Dragoon - he wielded a spear and came with Jump, though it was really blue magic. He also had Lancet on his default path, which was used (only by him) for learning blue magic-like attacks. I have also been told there was a character in FFII named Richard who was responsible for keeping domesticated dragons, and came with spear and sword skills leveled - likely the first Dragoon (credit to NanashiOniisan, NeoForte).
FFIII - As with so many other jobs, Summoner first appeared in FFIII. Summoning magic was a little different back then, but a lot of it remains in the most current FF games. There was a lower level Summoner called a Caller or something similar, which could summon any of the summoned monsters for a random black or white magic effect. For instance, Shiva would either deal ice damage to one enemy, or put them all to sleep, Leviathan would either pertify all enemies or deal them all water damage, and Bahamut would either Haste all allies or instantly kill one enemy. Then, later on, you would get Summoner, which would never cast any of the black or white magic effects, and instead us a true summoning magic ability, like Diamond Dust or Megaflare. Also, since these were the 8-bit days, people would change to Summoner and somehow have a horn sticking right out of their forehead. Sages, who could cast all magic, could also use summoning magic, and it worked the same as a full Summoner. Also, summoning wasn't like simple black and white magic you could buy in the store; you had to earn the respect of a monster to summon it. The summoning list at this time was Chocobo, Shiva, Ramuh, Ifrit, Titan, Odin, and Leviathan.
FFIV - Rydia was a Summoner in FFIV, eventually, and one of my favorites in the game. She starts off knowing white and black magic, and refuses to learn Fire magic because her village was burned to the ground by Cecil's delivering of a package from his king. Eventually she learns to cast it in order for the team to progress on their quest. After a while, she is taken away by Leviathan, who takes her to the world summoned beasts come from. There she learns powerful summoning magic, forgets about the ways of white magic, and finally returns to you, much stronger than before. The weird apprentice Caller abilities didn't exist anymore after FFIII, just powerful summon abilities from here on out. The summons were Goblin, Cockatrice, Flayer, Bomb, Asura, Sylph, Chocobo, Mist, Titan, Shiva, Ramuh, Ifrit, Leviathan, Odin, and Bahamut. The first four of those were particularly strange, as they were merely normal enemies, which would very rarely drop an item that would teach you how to summon them. The rest were normal summons, in that they would be acquired from storyline or by battling them, not by gaining levels or fighting 50 billion of them for a rare drop. Oh, and Rydia didn't have a horn.
FFV - Summoner was a regular job in FFV, and they could obtain their first few summons from a store like other magic. The rest of them had to be earned by fighting the summon though. Strangely, some summons would grant you the ability to summon them, and some would drop an item (100% chance) that you would use from the item list in order to learn the summon. Also, two of them, Ramuh and Shoat, were random battles in specific locations. The list this time was Chocobo, Sylph, Remora, Shiva, Ifrit, Ramuh, Titan, Golem, Shoat, Carbuncle, Hydra, Leviathan, Odin, Bahamut, and Phoenix. Summoners once again had a horn sticking out of their forehead, even though they apparently didn't possess such a strange growth when being other jobs.
FFT - Another one of those games with "all the jobs," FFT had very powerful Summoners. Summoners were very slow at casting, but when they finally finished their spell, it worked in a wide area range, and if it was damaging, it only hit enemies in that range, unlike black magic. There were also healing summons and the stoneskin Golem, as had been in previous games. New additions included Cyclops and Lich. Summoners could actually be represented by more than a few pixels by this time, and games were becoming more "realistic," so Summoners were thusly given headbands with horns on them instead of actual horns.
FFIX - No real rigid job system in this game, as noted several times before, but summoning was restricted to two characters - Dagger and Eiko. Summoners in this game were part of a certain tribe or race of people born with horns growing out of their forehead. Dagger was taken in by the royal family of Alexandria and had her horn removed, but Eiko's is still in tact. Also, it seems that summoning is a closer bond in this game, as only one person can have the right to summon a monster at a time. Eiko had Fenrir, Phoenix, Madeen, and Carbuncle, while Dagger had Ark, Atomos, Bahamut, Ifrit, Leviathan, Odin, Ramuh, and Shiva. Unlike other games, summoning magic was generally learned the same way regular magic was, and was not obtained by fighting or talking to the summons; some were storyline-based though.
FFX - In FFX, Yuna is the only character who can summon, making her technically better than everyone else outside of Overdrive abilities, since anyone can learn anything else eventually. Summoning is an ancient art from the long-lost Zanarkand, taught as a religious function in the modern world of the game. Summoners are thought to be the saviors of the world, even though they are truly taught in order to give the enemy they are fighting a new body every once in a while. Spira was kind of corrupt, and stuff. Anyway, summoning was overly powerful in FFX, and worked differently than in previous games. Instead of summoning a monster to do massive damage, or protect or heal the party through way of a spell, summoning was free, and replaced your party with a summoned beast, who you would issue commands to instead of your party. The summons would learn magic, gain stats and levels, and had abilities unique to them as well. Their traditional massive magic attacks were Overdrives, which had to be obtained the same way a character would, except that Yuna's overdrive, Grand Summon, would also give one summon an Overdrive ability. Some of the normally more challenging parts of the game could be completed easily by waiting until all your summons had their Overdrive ability, and then using them all in one battle. At the end of the game, you basically remove summoning magic from the world. Also, as kind of an in-joke for fans of the series, the Ronso tribe vows to erect a grand statue of Yuna in honor of all she's done for them, which they plan to build with a horn on her forehead, since it's a sign of honor in their tribe.
FFTA - In this game, summoning magic is forbidden unless you're a bunny girl. No, really, only Viera can become Summoners in FFTA. They're also very powerful magic users, but like all magic in FFTA, it can miss completely. Excellent for taking out large groups of enemies as in FFT, but only if it actually works.
Notes - Summoners didn't make it into the series until the third game, but summoning magic has stuck around in every single game thereafter. In VI and VIII, which allow everyone to summon, the magic was important to the storyline. In FFVI, Espers were magical beings that were exploited for their power, and when they died, their power was transferred into magicite, which could be used to summon them and learn magic. In FFVIII, Guardian Forces were an integral part of the battle system, and also played a part in the characters' lives. In FFVII, it was mostly just extreme magic, with no real reason for existing, and no fighting of the monsters.
FFV - Yet another job that didn't make it until "the game that had them all." The blue mage first showed up as basically what it is now - an alternate red mage who learns spells that are really monster attacks. Some were magical (like Aero, Aera, Aeroga) while some were not (Goblin Punch). All the spells which would become blue magic staples were here too - Mighty Guard, 1000 Needles, White Wind, Missile, Frog Song, Death Sentence, Roulette, Self-Destruct, and the level multiple spells. These spells were things like "Level 5 Death" or "Level 3 Flare" which would cause that effect on any enemies with a level in a multiple of that number. It also had ????, which is used in many FF games, though not by that name or as blue magic; it dealt damage equal to the caster's max HP minus his or her current HP. In this game, blue magic was learned by having the Learning ability equipped (native to the blue mage job) and having that character be actually hit with the effect. One of the best ways to learn things (and sometimes the only way) was to have a Beastmaster Control a monster and force them to use an ability on your party.
FFVI - In FFVI, the blue mage was Strago(s). This old man was a descendent of the magic knights who fought in the war 1000 years past, and he has inherreted some of their abilities. In the NA version, this ability was called "Lore," but it was still blue magic. Pretty much all the spells in the last game were still here, though Aero was lacking its higher tiers, and ???? was renamed to Revenge. There was all kinds of other blue magic strangeness (as usual) with things like Reflect??? which inflicted status ailments on enemies that had Reflect up. As this was the first game to introduce malboros, it was also the first to let you use Bad Breath as a blue magic spell. It also had the first spell based on the number of steps taken in the game. Magic was learned the same way as in FFV, by getting Strago(s) hit with it. The little girl he takes care of, Relm, can gain the Control ability beastmasters had before, and it's useful if not necessary for learning some blue magic.
FFVIII - I wasn't sure whether this should be a note or have its own entry, but FFVIII was the first game (of two) to use blue magic as a "limit break" type ability. Quistis was the "blue mage" this time, though with the impracticality of the things and the low power of blue magic itself (it's normally just regular spells!) it was rarely seen and barely useful. She got all the classics, though the list was shorter, and she learned them from items dropped by the appropriate enemy, not from getting hit with the ability.
FFIX - FFIX brought back an actual blue mage, Quina. Quina was...different, but also very much the same as old blue mages. S/he had all the standard blue magic spells, but learned them in a different way. Like the "Morph" abilities from the last few games, Quina would have to use his/her Eat ability on a monster when it was at low health, and if it defeated it, s/he would learn the ability. ????/Revenge got a new name again, Pumpkin Head, and this time Reraise was a blue magic spell. Quina also had one of the strangest spells, Angel's Snack, which used a remedy on all members (and actually used that many remedies from the player's inventory).
FFTA - Blue mage was back yet again, and this is where they got their "near east" look, apparently, sporting a turban this time around. In addition to the standard Learning ability, blue mage also got Damage > MP, which could make them take MP damage instead of HP damage, and Immunity, which gave immunity to some status ailments. Weird spells this time include HasteBreak, which inflicsts Stop if the target has Haste (Slow if they're not), and Stare, which is a cone-shaped gaze attack that causes confusion. Spells are learned by being hit with them again, and Control is also useful again for learning things.
FFX - In FFX, they decided to bring in another useless "blue mage" in Kimahri. His Overdrive ability was to use monster abilities he had learned by using the Lancet command (which would also steal some HP and MP) on an appropriate target. He had all the standard ones, plus Jump, because he was also supposed to be like a dragoon. The thing is, blue magic and Jump are just not powerful enough to be a character's ultimate abilities. Some of them were good, but the other characters' (save perhaps Lulu's) Overdrives were just better.
FFX-2 - FFX-2's "gun mages" used "blue bullets" to cast blue magic. They only had 16 spells in all, and many of the old ones were missing, with many new spells added. The girls have to be hit with the ability while equipped with the gun mage dressphere in order to learn it, but need not survive. Though there were beastmasters in this game, they came with their own pets and did not have Control, so learning White Wind and Mighty Guard (the only two defensive spells) required some form of confusion and a little luck.
Notes - Blue mage came in late at FFV, but was used very often after that, even if it was for "limit break" abilities. It's another "fan favorite" job that may not always be terribly useful but has a lot of varied abilities and is often used by long-time fans of the series. FFVII had a materia for blue magic like it did for many older abilities, and all of the classic spells were there too. In FFXII, blue magic was mostly removed, but some spells are still found in strange places - Balance is a green magic spell that does the maxHP - currentHP effect, and 1000 Needles is a command characters can learn to use.
FFVI - Okay, so Corsair is unique, right? Never been any corsairs before? Well, that might be true, if it weren't for the fact that Corsair in FFXI is basically the gamblers of past games, and the first one was even a bit of a pirate. Setzer, from FFVI, was the first gambler, and so he kind of defined the abilities, though they don't get reused with any sort of consistency. His standart ability was Slots, which had three reels like a slot machine that the player would have to stop one by one. If they all lined up, they created an effect based off the icon (three airships was a carpet bombing by airships, three chocobos was a stampeding of the enemies, three diamonds was some...sort of damage, etc.). If they didn't line up, then he summoned a lagomorph that healed the party for marginal amounts. As weapons he would equip dice, darts, and throwing cards. Dice dealt damage based on what he would roll. He also got the Coin Toss ability that samurai had in the last game through an accessory, but it replaced his Slots command. By the way, he owned the world's only privately-owned airship, and went around trying to steal women. He was kind of a pirate.
FFX-2 - The only other game to include a gambler job specifically, though it was called "Lady Luck" here, was FFX-2. The girls had access to both reels and dice again, and the reels were greatly expanded. They had attack reels, magic reels, item reels, and random reels. They also could throw either two dice or four dice (four was on all enemies). They could also Bribe enemies into leaving battle, raise the Luck stat, and gain more gil and experience points from battle. As many people will point out, each girl sports one of the suits of cards, with the comic relief (or something) LeBlanc has the fourth suit. The job itself wasn't very pirate-like, but the girls did travel around the world on a ship hunting treasure!
Notes - All in all, Corsair really is pretty new. Even gamblers are somewhat rare, and their standard abilities are not appropriate or varied enough in use for an MMORPG, so their history is very different from FFXI. The abilities of "normal" gamblers did appear in several other games though. FFVII contained two characters with gambling-like limit breaks - Tifa used slots for her attacks, and Cait Sith used dice for his. In FFVIII, Selphie's limit break is Slot, and it would cast spells for free. Wakka, in FFX, also uses slot abilities for his Overdrives. In As many people pointed out, there was Bikke the pirate in the first FF, and one of the main characters in FFV, Faris, was a pirate captain. As zoogelio pointed out, in FFIX Quina's damage was almost entirely random, varying all the way from 1 to whatever his/her STR score would normally dictate.
FFTA - What's this? PUP was in another game? Why yes, in fact, the Japanese name for puppetmaster is "からくり士" ("karakuri-shi") or "gadgeteer." The same as the name of the job in FFTA. FFTA's gadgeteers had abilities that would basically buff or enfeeble your party or the enemy's party randomly (you choose the effect, it chooses the party). Their little boxes (Pandora's box) looks suspiciously like the equipment for automatons in FFXI. They wielded claw and knuckle weapons. Oh, and they were moogle-only.
Notes - This job really is new. Though it does come from another game, that game was made after FFXI (but before ToAU), so it's by no means an "old" job or mainstay. There are some similarities, but they seem to lie only in their weapons (which are a secondary function) and aesthetics (names of things and the box). When they introduced the PUP job to FFXI, I believe they made mention of a "red spring," which was an ability from FFTA. Other than those minor things, tis one is really new, and there's not much I can say about its history.
Edited, Wed May 25 18:01:44 2005 by Tsukinomahou
Edited, Wed Dec 21 05:37:52 2005 by Tsukinomahou
Edited, Jun 22nd 2006 at 6:02pm EDT by Tsukinomahou