Game Systems Breakdown

Final Fantasy II is in many ways a more complex game than the original Final Fantasy, and has also been researched on the internet quite a bit less. I can't say that I know every in and out of the system's mechanics (yet!), but I have done a bit of research of my own, and have put together as much of that information as I can in this document.

Once again, the purpose of this guide is not to be overly technical, but rather to arm you with as much knowledge as you need to play the game to its fullest. Fortunately, while there are many more mechanics in this game than its predecessor, the basic action resolution system uses true percentages, which makes the numbers much easier to understand.

Combat Mechanics

The core mechanic of Final Fantasy II, which is used both for physical attacks and spells, is quite simple. Almost every attack is made in the same way. The attacker "rolls" an attack and the defender "rolls" a defense, each totaling up a number of successes, and the outcome is determined by the difference in the number of successes. Basically, every attack or defense has the same structure: a count, and a percentage. For physical defense this is your evasion level and evasion rate, for example. Whenever that attack or defense is rolled, that percentage is checked once per count. So if you have an evasion of 3×50%, you have three 50% chances to gain an evasion success. Your average would be 1.5 evasion successes, but the actual range is anywhere from 0 to 3.

Once you understand the basic count/percent mechanic, the system is relatively simple. An attacker gets some number of attacks, and each has a success rate equal to its accuracy. The total is the maximum number of hits the attacker can make on that attack. The defender then rolls some number of evasion chances, each with a success rate equal to its evasion rate. This number is subtracted from the rolled hits to determine the actual number of hits. If this number is greater than zero, the attacker does damage based on his attack score. Spells work similarly, but the two systems differ enough that I will cover them separately.

Physical Attacks

When you choose the "attack" command, you are making a physical attack. The numbers used in this calculation are pretty straightforward, and are all accessible from the status screen. If you are carrying something in both hands, you will make the attack with the item in your main hand. While you can hold two weapons in Final Fantasy II, you will only attack with one of them. When attacking, there are three main numbers you need to worry about: your attack score, your number of attacks, and your accuracy. On the defensive side, the three stats you're concerned with are defense, evasion count, and evasion rate. Once you determine how many hits you landed as described above, each hit deals a random amount of damage between one and two times your attack score, minus the defender's defense score (with a minimum of 0). This is a physical attack at it's most basic level. However, there are a number of factors that also apply here.

  • Critical Hits: Sometimes one or more of your attacks will be a critical hit. Critical hits deal bonus damage equal to your attack score, and this bonus damage is not affected by defense. Thus, even with an attack of 20 you can deal damage to a 210-defense Green Slime enemy on a critical hit (and this damage will be exactly 20). Exactly what your critical hit rate is, and what determines it, is unknown. Critical hits are quite a bit rarer than they were in Final Fantasy, though. It is possible that the critical hit rate is a flat 1% for all characters, but this is mostly conjecture.
  • Family/Elemental Attack: Several weapons are noted to be strong against monsters of a particular family, or monsters weak against a particular element. If you use one of these weapons against the correct monster type, you get a +20 bonus to your attack score. Note that if your weapon exploits both the family and elemental weakness of an enemy, you still only get a single +20 bonus. Weapons with an elemental affinity are not affected by resistances or the ability to absorb that element. The Ice Brand does normal damage against monsters that resist Ice. If a monster is weak to an element and also resists or absorbs it, the +20 attack bonus still applies.
  • Status Effects: A few weapons inflict status ailments on the target, but you will most commonly find this effect on monsters' attacks. An attack can inflict one or more temporary status ailments or one or more permanent status ailments, but not a combination of both. If an attack connects, there is a chance that the target will be afflicted with the status ailment, regardless of whether the attack dealt any damage or what resistances the target has. I am not sure what this chance is, but it seems to be close to 50/50 per hit. If the attack causes any status ailment, it causes all of them.
  • Drain Effects: The Blood Sword and a few enemies have a draining effect as part of their attack. Most of these effects drain HP, but the Parasite can drain MP. All drain effects work the same way. For each hit, even if that hit deals no damage, the target loses 1/16 of their maximum HP or MP (rounded down) and the attacker gains a like amount. HP drain is added to the damage shown on-screen, but you only absorb the drained portion, not the normal attack damage. Note that you can drain more HP or MP than the target has left, and you can drain either even if your own totals are full. Draining attacks have the opposite effect against Undead, draining the attacker and healing the target.
  • Ripper Effect: There is a unique affect on the Ripper knife, but it is highly misleading. Each hit made reports as doing 20 more damage than the weapon actually deals. In fact, the Ripper has no bonus damage at all, and deals damage based solely on its attack score like all other weapons.
  • Healing: The Healing Staff is a special weapon that heals the target instead of harming them. For more information, see the Healing Staff entry.

Magical Attacks

Magic works similarly to physically attacking, but the net "hits," here referred to as "successes," have various effects depending on the spell. Sometimes the successes determine how much damage is dealt, and other times they determine what effect(s) a spell has. Individual spell entries detail the specific way successes are interpreted, but the way they are calculated is consistent for all spells.

Magic successes are calculated similarly to physical hits, but the numbers involved are a bit harder to find. Every spell makes a number of rolls equal to its level, with a success rate equal to the spell's adjusted accuracy. Magic accuracy's calculation is described below. Magic defense count and rate determine how many defensive successes the target achieves, much like evasion with physical attacks.

There are a lot more mitigating factors in using magic than there are with attacking. Here is a rundown:

  • Calculating Magic Accuracy: Magic accuracy is calculated differently for PCs and monsters. Every monster ability has a predetermined accuracy which is used in place of the normal formula. For your own spells, magic accuracy consists of three components. First is the base spell accuracy, which is specific to each spell. If the spell is white or black magic, you then add your spirit or intelligence, respectively, to that number. Special abilities that are not magic ignore this step. Note that items that use white or black magic do use the stats of the character using the item to determine accuracy and power. Finally, you subtract the sum of any magic penalties you have from gear. While items do use the character's intelligence or spirit stats, they are not subject to magic penalties from gear. If spell accuracy is less than zero, it is set to zero. Unlike other percentages, though, spell accuracy is not capped at 99%. (This is because of how targeting affects accuracy—it is possible that any given spell roll has a 1% chance of failure when it is finally made, but I have no way to easily tell.)
  • Calculating Spell Power: Like spell accuracy, every spell has an inherent spell power. Unlike accuracy, monsters use the normal power ratings for spells they cast. PCs add 1/4 of their spirit score to the power of white magic spells, or 1/4 of their intelligence score to the power of black magic spells they cast. (Monsters have no spirit or intelligence scores, so they always use base spell power). As with accuracy, this modifier applies to white and black magic spells cast using items. Special attacks have no power modifier.
  • Calculating Damage: Damage spells work a bit differently than other spells. Their effects are not strictly based on successes—damage spells get a number of "hits" equal to the level of the spell plus the successes rolled. For instance, Fire 8 can score anywhere from 8–16 "hits." Most damage spells have no inherent accuracy, so a high spirit or intelligence can greatly increase their damage by increasing not only their power, but the number of hits. Each hit deals a random amount of damage between one and two times the spell's power. Unlike physical attacks, this number is not reduced by any magical defense score (magic defense only prevents successes, it does not mitigate damage directly). This means that a damage spell's base damage ranges from its level times its adjusted power to four times that number. Elemental affinities have a significant affect on the power of damage spells, as noted below. Note also that healing spells and abilities use the same calculations as damaging spells to calculate the number of HP healed. Cure scores "hits" like any damage spell, and a high accuracy results in significantly more HP regained.
  • Single-Target vs. Multi-Target: When you opt to target all enemies or all allies with a single spell, the spell's power and accuracy are decreased greatly. The adjusted accuracy of multi-target spells is halved, making effects less likely to land and buffs less potent. The adjusted power is also adjusted, reduced to 1/4 of its original value, rounded down. This means that multi-targeted spells are best used against groups of at least 4 (though the lower accuracy still limits spell effects quite drastically). As a general rule, multi-targeted damage spells should only be used against creatures weak to the spell's element, to minimize the drawbacks.
  • Elemental Absorbtion: Some creatures absorb abilities of one or more elements. Any spell cast on a monster that absorbs its element will result in no effect except that the target gains HP. For damaging spells, the HP gain is equal to the damage that would have been dealt. For non-damaging spells, damage is calculated as if they dealt damage, using the spell's calculated power (most status effect spells have a power of 5). If a monster absorbs an element, any weakness or resistance they may have to that element is ignored. Monsters do not roll magic defense against spells they absorb, instead gaining the full HP of any successes rolled, as with the Cure spell.
  • Elemental Resistance: If a creature is hit with a spell of an element that it resists, the spell's effects are greatly reduced. All success-based properties of the spell automatically fail, making creatures immune to status ailments that would be caused by spells they resist. Damage spells still deal damage, but with the minimum number of successes, and the damage is halved after being calculated. If a creature both resists and is weak to the same element, spells of that element will fail due to the resistance, but the damage will not be halved (nor will it be doubled due to weakness). It is generally a waste of time to cast spells on monsters that resist their element.
  • Elemental Weaknesses: Spells of an element a creature is weak to will have a maximized effect against that creature. All spells achieve perfect success—any status ailments inflicted automatically succeed, and damage spells achieve successes equal to their level. Further, damage from these spells is doubled. As a result, even multi-targeted spells are quite powerful against groups of monsters weak to them.
  • Casting Outside of Battle: Only 5 spells can be cast outside of combat: Cure, Life, Esuna, Warp, and Teleport. Further, these spells may only be cast when they would have some effect. These spells are resolved differently than they are in combat, with no variation in the number of successes. Magic penalties and bonuses from spirit or intelligence do not apply. See the individual spells for details on their out-of-combat effects.
  • Spells That Are Not Resisted: Spells with a strictly positive effect are not subject to magic resistance rolls. This includes Cure and Life (except against Undead) and all buff spells, such as Blink, Berserk, and so on.

Monster Behavior

Each monster has 8 ability slots that determine what it can do in combat. It is unknown exactly how these slots translate to actions, though experimentation implies that each slot has a certain probability to be selected. The likely probability breakdown seems to be the same as that for treasure, 20%-20%-20%-10%-10%-10%-5%-5% from slots 1 to 8. Actions have been listed using this breakdown on the monster pages. While it is possible that the exact breakdown is different, the listed percentages should nonetheless be useful.

A monster will never choose an ability it can't use, so it won't for example choose a spell when afflicted with Amnesia or out of MP. However, a monster can cast any spell as long as it has any MP, even if it doesn't have enough to actually cast the spell. If a monster cannot perform any listed action, it will attack, even if "attack" does not appear in its ability table at all.

Rows

Both the player's party and the monsters they are facing are arranged into rows, and while the specific arrangements are different, the general purpose of these rows is the same. Spells and abilities are unaffected by row, but physical attacks can only target characters or monsters in the front row. Characters in the back row cannot make physical attacks at all, with the exception of PCs armed with a bow. For these reasons, both your party's row setup and the order in which you attack monsters can be very important.

To change which row your party members are in, press Select when outside of combat. Characters in the back row will never be targeted with physical attacks, so their defense and evasion scores are much less important than front-row members. The only time your back row can be attacked is if every character in the front row falls in combat. At that time, the back row will automatically move to the front. As such, it is a good idea to have heavily armored or otherwise well-defended characters in the front row, and mages safely in the back. Since the only weapon type capable of attacking from the back row, the bow, has massive magic penalties associated with it, this may mean that your mages cannot effectively attack. (They may still target monsters and level up their weapons, but such attacks will automatically be ineffective and miss.) Tactically, though, keeping your squishy mages out of danger is more important than adding their relatively weak melee attacks to the mix. Note that if a character is dead at the end of combat, he or she is automatically moved to the back row. Don't forget to check your rows after casting Life!

Monster rows are handled a little differently. Up to 8 monsters can appear at a time, arranged in four ranks of two monsters each. The frontmost rank and the one behind it are considered the "front row" for the purposes of physical attacks. Monsters in the third or fourth rank will not make physical attacks. Even if they have special abilities that can be used at range, they make no special effort to use them: if the game decides that a monster would attack, it simply skips its turn. If all the monsters in the front rank fall, the monsters in the front row will change accordingly.

Because of how monster rows work, there are a few strategic considerations when choosing targets. If the monsters in the back row are melee fighters, you can stall having to deal with them (perhaps having your mages soften them up while doing so) by attacking into the second rank first, then the first. Even if the second rank is empty, the monsters behind it are not moved to the front row. This is less useful when facing eight foes, since clearing out the first rank after the second will result in immediately being range of four new enemies. If on the other hand there are targets you want to kill quickly in the rear of the monster party, it is important to defeat the front ranks and get them into melee range as quickly as possible. Pay close attention to monster rows, and use them to your advantage whenever you can.

Other Combat Mechanics

There are a few other miscellaneous combat mechanics you should be aware of. These don't fit nicely into the categories above, but are no less important.

  • Ambushes and Turn Order: "Agility" plays a number of roles in combat, but the actual number the game uses is your evasion rate. (For the most part this makes sense, since evasion is based on agility minus armor weight—but it does mean that shields make you much faster, which is strange at best.) Firion's evasion rate is the determining factor for whether the party is ambushed, ambushes the enemy, or has a normal battle. Turn order is also heavily influenced by this stat, with faster (more evasive) characters generally going earlier in the round.
  • Running: If a character chooses to run and succeeds, the entire party will run. The chance of success (assuming running from the current encounter is possible at all) is equal to their evasion as a percentage. Any given enemy can also choose to run, which always succeeds but affects only that monster. The base chance that they will do so is the monster's fear score (which is often negative). This percentage is increased based on the difference in total HP between your party and all remaining enemies. Each 32 points the party leads by adds 1% to the run chance. Thus, if the player's party have a total of 620 HP and the enemies have a total of 300 HP, the chance of any given enemy running is increased by 10% (based on a difference of 320, divided by 32). If the enemies have more HP than the player's party, the base run chance is not modified.
  • Monster Targeting: Every monster ability has a target specified, either the full party or a single character. Single-target abilities, as well as physical attacks, are targeted entirely at random (though physical attacks never target those in the back row). However, the game's targeting algorithm has a distinct bias towards Guy and Maria. If exactly one of them is in the back row, the effects are even more pronounced. You can alleviate this issue somewhat by keeping two party members in the back row, but Guy's magic defense tends to level faster than anyone else's because he is the most common target of special abilities.
  • Temporary Status Ailments: All temporary status ailments have a chance of wearing off automatically at the end of any given round of combat, and the chance is quite high. Only one status ailment is displayed graphically or in the status box for your characters at a time, though, so it's hard to tell if any other ailments have worn off. Monsters give no indication at all whether they are afflicted with a given status ailment, so temporary status ailments are unreliable over the long term when used against them.
  • Toad/Mini/Stone on Monsters: While the Toad, Mini, and Stone status ailments can be cured when the afflict your party members, they simply KO monsters. For this reason, Toad acts as the most accurate instant KO spell in the game, a fact that can be abused fairly easily.
  • Unarmed vs. Shields: When you have nothing held in either hand, you gain the benefits of fighting unarmed. Unarmed attacks have a base accuracy of 80% and no Magic Penalty. The base damage of an unarmed attack is zero, but the user gains a +8 bonus to attack for each level gained (8 at level 2, 16 at level 3, etc.) However, you cannot equip a shield in one hand and expect to be considered unarmed. If you hold only a shield, you will attack with it as if it were a weapon. This is unwise, since shields have very low attack scores and no accuracy bonus. It may be useful at some points to equip two shields to double-up on the evasion bonus and create a super-tank, but don't expect to dish out much damage like this. Also, be careful not to equip a shield in Leila's or Leon's left hand, since both characters are left-handed.

Leveling Mechanics

There is no "leveling" in the traditional sense in Final Fantasy II. You will not earn basic experience points. Instead, you must level individual aspects of your character. In theory, you will become good at whatever you do most, but between some of the obscure restrictions and the way mechanics work, it doesn't always happen that way. I can tell you how to maximize your advancement with a minimum of cheating the system.

You have a number of stats that advance during the game, but they all come in one of two flavors: there are raw statistics, like strength, and skills, like weapon skills and evasion. Skill advancement is much better understood mechanically, though the general theory behind statistical advancement is simple enough.

Note that if you are subject of any permanent status ailment (Darkness, Poison, Curse, Amnesia, Toad, Stone, or KO) at the end of combat, you will not advance in any skill or statistic. Make sure to heal during combat whenever possible!

General Skill Advancement

There are three sets of skills you will want to advance: weapons (shields are included in this category), defenses, and magic. In all three cases, the mechanics are similar. After a battle, you may gain one or more points of skill progress in any given skill. When you gain 100 progress points, the skill increases by one level. Skill levels can get as high as 16, but from a practical standpoint you will rarely get a skill past 9 or 10 without going out of your way to do so. This is because of the rank system the game uses.

Every battle has a "rank" associated with it, which determines how quickly your skills increase. This rank is equal to the lowest rank of any monster involved in the combat. Rank acts as the baseline for skill advancement. Most advancement formulas have a starting point based on the rank of a battle minus the current level of the skill, plus some constant and one point for each use of the skill during the fight. What this usually means is that for any given rank, there is a soft cap on how far you can advance your skills. It is possible to skill up further, by taking more actions in combat, but it is difficult. Further, lower-level skills will increase more quickly than higher-level skills, especially at higher ranks.

The basic formula for skill advancement is simple: Rank + Uses + Modifier − Level. Rank is the rank of the battle, and Level is your current level in the appropriate skill. Uses means the number of times you attacked (for weapons and shields), the number of times you cast a spell (for magic), or the number of times you were targeted by a physical or magic attack (for evasion and magic defense, respectively). The modifier is a constant that is different for each type of skill. Specifics on the skills are as follows:

  • Weapons and Shields: At the end of combat, you gain skill independently for the items in each hand, based on the number of attacks you made during the fight. Note that the game doesn't check what you were using when you made the attack, but rather assigns the skill advancement to whatever you were holding at the end of combat. If you're holding two of the same type of weapon, both will add progress points, effectively doubling your rate of progress. The modifier for weapon advancement is +1, so the formula is Rank + Attacks − Level + 1. Attacking a rank 1 monster with a level 1 weapon will thus result in 2 points of progress for the first attack, and 1 additional point for each subsequent attack during the same combat. Note that weapons are subject to the target-canceling exploit mentioned below.
  • Magic: Each of your known spells levels independently during combat, and you can progress in multiple spells during the same fight. The modifier for spells is +3, making the formula Rank + Times Cast − Level + 3. Casting a level 1 spell during a rank 1 fight will earn you 4 progress points for the first cast, and 1 point for each additional cast. It is thus prudent to mix up your spells during combat, since the first casting of each spell is generally worth the most progress. Magic is also subject to the target-canceling exploit described below. Note that magic spells cast outside of combat always gain 2 progress points per casting, regardless of level. You cannot cast a spell outside of combat unless it would have some effect.
  • Evasion: Evasion is the toughest skill to level, and the game does not display your current progress (nor does it bring up a message when your evasion level increases). You have no direct control over how quickly evasion level increases, since it is based on the number of times you are targeted by a physical attack during a fight. Further, the progress modifier is −2, making the formula Rank + Times Attacked Physically − Level − 2. Being attacked once (at evasion level 1) or even twice in a rank 1 fight thus won't grant you any progress towards your evasion level—the third attack and each subsequent attack grant 1 point each. Obviously your evasion will level faster when you fight higher rank foes, but you can help level certain characters' evasion by putting other party members in the back row so they don't get attacked. Physically attacking your own party members does not count for the purposes of evasion progress, so there is no exploit to level this skill.
  • Magic Defense: Magic defense has the highest progress modifier of any skill at +5. The formula is Rank + Times Magically Targeted – Level + 5, meaning that a single magic attack targeting a character with level 1 magic defense in a rank 1 fight will grant a whopping 6 progress points. Further attacks grant 1 point each, as normal. Note, however, that the game mis-handles "target all" spells—instead of counting them as magical attacks for all four party members, they are counted as Firion using a white magic spell. This is why Firion will occasionally gain points of spirit despite not using any white magic. Because spells and abilities are not affected by row, there is no way (short of killing off characters) to influence who progresses in magic defense. Like evasion, there is no exploit for this skill, and the game does not display your progress anywhere.

I mentioned an exploit above, which is well-known to Final Fantasy 2 veterans. I do not believe it is necessary to play the game, and I do feel that its use is cheap and should be avoided, but as a quirk of the system it seems worth mentioning. Attacks and magic spell use are counted as soon as you confirm the target, even if you cancel your next party member's action and specify a new action for the first character. You can select attack (or a spell), target it, then cancel over and over to level these skills effortlessly. It does take a while and is incredibly boring, but there it is. Because you need to cancel the next character's action for this trick to work, you cannot use it on your last character. Too bad, Leon!

So, now that you understand how you gain progress, exactly how do you gain levels? Well that's simple enough—at the end of combat, after progress is added, if it totals 100 or more for any skill, the skill level is increased by 1 and the progress is reset to 0. Because it is reset, you lose any excess over 100. Note that there is a bug with evasion and magic defense where the game will not display your new level immediately after you've earned it. It will appear after the next combat, however.

Statistic Advancement

Your basic statistics do not use a 100-point progress model, but rather may increase after any given battle. In all cases except HP and MP, statistical gains are limited to a single point per combat. There are eight basic statistics that level in this way. Three of your stats have negative correlations, meaning that when you gain a point in one stat, there is a chance you will lose a point in another. The correlations are Strength→Intellect, Intellect→Stamina, and Spirit→Strength. The chance of losing a stat is fairly high, though it was apparently intended to be 1/6. In practice it can happen almost half the time.

  • Hit Points: In order to have any chance of gaining HP after a battle, your HP at the end of the battle must be at least 1/8 of its maximum value lower at the end of the battle than it was at the beginning. Thus if you have 800 maximum HP, you must lose at least 100 to have a chance to gain HP. This is true whether you began the fight at full HP or at 101 HP. The chance of gaining HP increases for each eighth of your maximum HP you lose. For this reason, counter-intuitive though it may be, it is often a good idea not to heal your characters during the fights in which they take damage. (Because you generally gain more skill progress in combat than outside of it, it's also prudent to wait until the next fight to Cure that character.) You always gain HP equal to your stamina when your HP increases. Note that if stamina and HP increase after the same fight, you gain the HP before your stamina increases. Also note that you will not recover any of the HP gained when it increases.
  • Magic Points: Maximum magic points are gained in a very similar fashion to maximum hit points, except that the statistic determining the number gained is magic rather than stamina. As with HP, you can gain MP after losing at least 1/8 of your total in one fight, and the amount gained is equal to your magic stat. MP can be difficult to level during short fights, since you can't use very much MP. You can use spells like Sap and Swap on your own party members to lower their MP pools quickly if you want to advance your MP faster, but this is a highly questionable activity. As with HP, try to avoid restoring your MP during a fight where you've used a lot of it.
  • Strength: Strength is a simple enough stat to increase—simply attack physically. Despite rumors, wearing heavy armor has no impact on strength increases. Strength is negatively corrolated with intelligence—sometimes whene you earn a strength increase, you will also be docked a point of intelligence. For this reason, your black mages should limit their offense to spells as much as possible. You can lose a point of strength when you gain a point of spirit.
  • Agility: Agility growth is based entirely on your evasion score. Since agility increases evasion, this is one stat that will actually grow faster as the game wears on. Shields, and even some weapons, can massively increase your evasion and lead to faster agility growth. However, a character with heavy armor and no shield can easily have 0 evasion, which results in no agility growth. Evasion (and therefore agility) is extremely important against late-game enemies that drain HP per hit, so it's a good idea to make sure everyone can always gain agility (which requires a minimum of 4 evasion).
  • Stamina: Stamina is tied directly to HP. In fact, its main purpose is determining how much HP you gain when you get an HP increase. Stamina is gained in the same fashion as HP, though the minimum you must lose is slightly lower (1/9 of your total). Stamina also factors into your magic defense. You can lose stamina when you gain a point of intelligence.
  • Intelligence: Intelligence is basically the black magic equivalent of strength. You gain intelligence by casting a lot of black magic—the game keeps a counter of how many black magic spells you cast in a single fight, so it is quite likely that casting multiple spells will help advance your intelligence. Intelligence is more likely to advance than strength based on the same number of actions taken. Intelligence has a negative impact on stamina, and your stamina will sometimes decrease when your intelligence increases. You can lose a point of intelligence when you gain a point of strength.
  • Spirit: Spirit is the white magic version of intelligence, though it is somewhat more likely to advance. Casting white magic is the best way to advance this stat, though due to a strange bug, magic attacks that target the whole party can help Firion gain spirit. When you gain spirit, you will sometimes lose a point of strength. This doesn't mean your white mage should refrain from attacking—just don't expect them to carry the load physically. You will never lose spirit when gaining a point in another stat.
  • Magic: The name may suggest some relevance to magic power, but in fact magic determines how much MP you gain when your MP increases. It also factors into magic defense. Magic increases under the same circumstances as MP, though with a lower minimum threshold equal to 1/9 your maximum MP.

Calculated Statistics

Not every statistic is directly increased—a number are calculated from other statistics and gear. The formulas to determine them are listed here. Note that the three percentage stats (accuracy, evasion, and magic defense) can never be lower than 0% or higher than 99%.

  • Defense: Defense is simply the sum of the defense values of your head, arm, and body armor.
  • Attack: If a character is holding something in each hand, attack is equal to the attack of the weapon or shield in his or her main hand plus one-quarter of their strength score. If the character is only holding one item, they instead add one-half their strength score to the attack of the item. When unarmed, you gain a +8 attack bonus for each level of bare hands skill after the first. (Bare handed attacks add half the character's strength score to their base attack, and have a base accuracy of 80%.)
  • Accuracy: A character's accuracy is equal to their strength plus the accuracy of the weapon they are holding in their main hand. If they have no main-hand weapon, use the accuracy of the weapon in their off hand instead.
  • Evasion: A number of factors go into calculating evasion. Each character has a base evasion percentage equal to their agility score. From there, you add the evasion bonus from the items held in each hand by the appropriate skill level for that hand plus one. So if you have a sword with an evasion bonus of 1 at level 2, you gain (2 + 1) × 1, or 3 evasion from it. Similarly, if you have a shield with an evasion bonus of 5 at level 3, you gain (3 + 1) × 5, or 20 evasion. Finally, subtract the weight of each piece of armor worn from your evasion.
  • Magic Defense: Base magic defense is 15% plus half the sum of the character's stamina and magic scores. It can be further increased by magic defense granted by armor.

General Mechanics

There are a number of important game mechanics that are not related to combat or skill advancement. Those are covered here.

Trap Rooms

There are many doorways in the dungeons of Final Fantasy II that lead to empty rooms. They look similar to treasure rooms, but there are no treasures, and they have an extremely high encounter rate. I refer to these as "trap rooms," as they tend to have the most dangerous encounters in a given area. Generally, trap rooms have the same encounter list as the bottom level of a particular dungeon. In cases where trap rooms have different encounters than the rest of the map, this has been indicated on the map page. Monsters that appear on a floor only in trap rooms have their names in green. You can avoid trap rooms by only entering doorways that are indicated as being map exits or containing treasure.

Monster Treasure

Final Fantasy II has a unique drop system for monsters that works a bit differently than in other games. With a small number of exceptions, every monster has a table of 8 potential drops, and will always drop exactly one of these after combat. The unique aspect of this system is that gil is listed along with items on these tables, and monsters don't drop a set amount of gil besides. (Which means that if you ever get 0 gil from a fight, you should get items instead.)

The exact probability of each item slot being chosen is unclear, though logically it seems that they are listed in ascending order of rarity. My experiements have shown that the first three item slots are the most common, the next three are less common, and the final two are relatively rare. The most logical breakdown that would make sense for the data I've compiled is 20%-20%-20%-10%-10%-10%-5%-5% from slots 1 to 8, in order. Treasure breakdowns are listed on the monster pages using these percentages as a basis.

Stat-Boosting Armor

A number of armor pieces give a bonus to a particular stat. This bonus is always exactly 10 points, but multiple bonuses to the same stat don't work. Even wearing both the Giant's Helm and Giant's Gloves, you'll only gain 10 points of strength. As such, it is useful to mix-and-match these bonuses to make the most of them. Note that these stat boosts can be used to exceed 99 in a given stat, though the stat will often be reset to 99 when it is increased. Simply re-equip the stat boosting armor to increase the number. (The A shown as the 10's digit means 10, so "A9" is actually 109.)

Inns and Sanctuaries

In Final Fantasy II, inns have no set cost. Instead, it costs an amount equal to 25% of the total HP the party has to regain, plus 100% of the total MP the party has to regain. Since Cure converts MP to HP at a ratio quite a bit more favorable than 1:4, it is always a good idea to heal the party with spells before staying at an inn. You'll not only save money, you'll help level your Cure spell!

In a nice change from Final Fantasy, sanctuaries will restore your characters from KO free of charge. Simply speak to the statue within, and you're done.

The World Map

As in Final Fantasy, you can push B and Select at the same time on the overworld to bring up the world map. While the game never actually mentions this feature, it is only available when you have the Ring received from Scott. The map is an interesting "globe" display that scrolls around incredibly slowly. I use quotes around "globe" because the world map is just as flat, square, and impossible as it is in every other RPG. The reason it's shown this way is because, unlike most maps, the land masses from FF2 wrap around the map edges, making a square map look pretty weird. The world map is nonetheless useful for finding the route to nearby locations.

The Bug List

Like its predecessor, Final Fantasy II has more than its fair share of bugs. At least this time most of the core combat mechanics work!

  • Party Magic Target Bug: The game generally denotes "target everyone" internally with the number 8. Apparently this number gets used when determining who gains magic defense progress, because instead of any character getting it, Firion's white magic counter (8 bytes away) is increased. As a result, all-party attack spells can lead to Firion's spirit increasing.
  • Target-Cancel Exploit: Both weapons and magic can be advanced easily by confirming the target of an action, then immediately cancelling and doing it again. It's boring and unnecessary, and you can't do it to your last party member, but it is one way to cheese past the tougher parts of this hard game.
  • No Weapon Memory: Not so much a bug as a coding shortcut, the game doesn't know or care exactly what weapons you attack with during a fight. All advancement is simply given to the weapons you have equipped at the end of combat.
  • Protect Bug: The Protect spell has no effect on any target except the caster. It's too bad since the caster is likely in the back row but hey, at least Blink still works.
  • Dispel Bug: No, this isn't a line I forgot to remove from the FF1 bug list. Once again, Dispel doesn't work. It's not even entirely clear what it was supposed to do, since monsters can absorb elements in addition to resisting them in this game. But it doesn't do it, in any case.
  • Ultima Bug: FF2 is the first game in the series to feature the Ultima spell, and they make quite a big deal out of it. It deals over 100 damage at level 1, so it may seem great—but it doesn't scale correctly. Even at level 16, it only deals around 500 damage to a single target. Presumably it was supposed to work like it does in remakes of the game, where your other skills contribute to Ultima's power, but even having every skill in the game at level 16 doesn't increase it's damage at all. It's too bad, really.
  • Aura/Barrier Level 8 Bugs: While this behavior may be intentional, it is at least strange that the Aura and Barrier spells never grant a level 8 bonus. If you want to hurt Undead or protect yourself from Ice, well too bad!
  • Wall Bug: The Wall spell automatically blocks black magic up to its own level, but when it does so, the spell animations are shown as if the spell hit. A side effect of this is that the spells Toad, Break, Death, and Warp will remove monsters from combat if they would otherwise be stopped by Wall. No monsters cast Wall on themselves, but you can cast it on them to take advantage of this bug.
  • Healing Item Target Bug: Items and monsters in FF2 don't actually use the spell system directly, but rather use a table of special abilities which includes the spell and certain specifics, such as target. All consumable items were given a target of "self." Unfortunately, that makes the Phoenix Down, Gold Needle, and Maiden's Kiss items pointless in combat, since no one with the status ailments they cure can actually use items!
  • Sap Bug: Sap is an interesting MP-damaging spell that reduces the target's MP to a fraction of its current amount. Unfortunately, whatever clever routine they came up with to calculate this fraction apparently only works on bytes and not full words. As a result, MP totals over 256 are hardly affected by Sap. Which is too bad, since that includes most late-game Spellcasters!
  • Stat Boost Bug: Some parts of the game imply that multiple armor stat boosts to the same stat should be cumulative, but they aren't. This does make armor choices a bit more interesting, though, so I'm fine with it.
  • Healing Staff Bug: The Healing Staff does a whole lot of damage to Undead, making it one of the best weapons in the game against them. However, it still heals them just like anyone else in addition to the damage.
  • Ripper Bug: The Ripper's damage totals display as 20 higher per hit. Which would make it a really awesome weapon ability, if that damage was actually inflicted! Of course, this may be some sort of mean joke by the programmers rather than a bug, for all I know.
  • Middle Character Target Bug: For some reason, the middle two characters tend to be attacked a lot more often than the other two character slots. And if you put one of them (perhaps Maria) in the back slot, Guy will take as many hits as everyone else combined. Which makes him a pretty good choice for tank, actually.
  • Dual-Wield Bug: Even though the game animates an attack with your second weapon, you actually still only attack with the first weapon. Not that dual-wielding is useless—it's a good way to level up another weapon at the cost of defense instead of offense. This may even have been intentional, but it's quite counterintuitive.