I’ve been using the Internet for about twelve years now (That’s two years before it was officially cool) and it’s only in the last two years that I’ve been a Savage Worlds obsessed maniac. So let’s hop in our time machine and go back to the second time I had a real Internet-supported obsession; the glory days of a site called Final Fantasy: Worlds Apart.
(The site is still up, although I don’t think I know any of the people on those forums anymore and vice versa. It might acually be a civil place now, but I wouldn’t know. I think some of my old stuff is still there because someone emailed me about one of my other theories a couple days ago. http://www.ffwa.org/ )
Back in 1998-ish, Final Fantasy VII by Squaresoft was released for Windows and my world was never the same. You have to understand one thing first: this was the time when most everyone thought the computer RPG genre was dead. Ultima VIII was the last major RPG release a few years preveiously and while technically advanced over the Ultima VIIs was just not quite as good. Ultima IX was still a long way off, Wizardry and other non-Origin CRPGs were all in long development cycles or in slumps. The Final Fantasy VII came out for the PC.
It was different. Very different. But it clearly was an RPG. An RPG with a storyline and characters you could care about. No inventory management, tons of special abilities which were interchangable, awesome graphics (for the time) and a villain far more charismatic and evil than the Guardian himself. So what if you didn’t have the same freedom to do anything you wanted to like in traditional CRPGs? This story might have been on rails, but the scenery was nice.
Anyway, a little while before I finished it the first time, I got involved on the messageboards of the precursor to FFWA which I don’t recall the name of offhand. Many of the folks there had been banned from the forums of the then Nazi Germany-like (or so I heard) forums of Final Fantasy Online, a site completely unaffiliated with Squaresoft. We posted back and forth, and I got to know quite a few nice folks and I was actually a moderator for a while. A smart guy called Silmaril was one of the regulars. He originally opposed me on the J=L theory when I first posted it. What’s the J=L theory, you say? Well let me give a breif summary of the important parts.
J=L is a somewhat long-winded hypothesis based on circumstantial evidence, tons of circumstantial evidence, and it may be completely untrue, but it served as a rather satisfying mental exercise at the time (1999-ish after I played through FF7 the second time).
The gist of it is as follows: When Lucrecia collapsed in the Vincent Flashback (when Vicent talks to Lucrecia, see various game guides for how to do that if you haven’t done it yourself), her body was put into storage. It was the host for the “Jenova cells” and was thus called Jenova. This is why Jenova looks like a woman. This is the real reason why Sephiroth calls Jenova “Mother”. She literally is his mother. Later on (going chronologically, NOT how things are revealed in the game) Seph goes crazy, cuts off her head and falls into the Lifestream. (Jenova SYNTHESIS is made from Lucrecia’s head. Safer Sephiroth is Seph’ original body.)
Later, when Cloud & co. are in Shinra HQ, Sephiroth takes control of Jenova/Luicrecia’s body, turns it into a lookalike (“clone”) of himself, breaks out and kills a hole bunch of people. Throughout the first two disks, this body drops peices (the various Jenova bosses) and is the main means by which Sephiroth carries out his evil will. It’s been a while since I played, but as I recall one of the Jenova bosses uses up the last peice of this body, but Seph’s original body and the head are in the Lifestream until Cloud kills them.
That’s basically the J=L theory. Play the game with this in mind and you can see what I mean.
I had actually started a long document with lots of screenshots going through all of the evidence for this “hidden subplot” with the intention of finally posting a complete and comprehensive version of the theory but eventually I got sidetracked by other things. Among them, the release of D&D 3rd edition and a really good pirate translation of RPG Maker 2000 by an extremely wacky Russian teenage genius named Don Miguel. But those are tales for another time.
There’s one last twist in this tale, however:
A little over two years ago I went back to the FFWA forums and started a thread about how cool the forums were back when they started and how I had this content (the J=L theory) I was thinking of finishing up and posting to the site. My thread was blocked with no explanation. I thought it was a mistake (these thing happen) so I started a new one on the same subject. That was blocked as well.
According to the then-current moderator of the FF7 forum, starting a thread in a forum about a forum was suddenly considered off-topic, because it’s not the topic of the forum. Furthermore, my complaining about it “isn’t helping your case”. He apparently wasn’t interested in how long I had been at those boards, what the boards had been like in the past, the fact that I had a higher postcount than he probably ever would, what the J=L theory meant to me and other veterans of the forums… This was not just a misunderstanding. The guy was a little dictator who couldn’t understand the idea that a decision he made could be wrong since, after all, he had the power to make it and he could not possibly be rude to me because, by definition, (at the time) I was just a member of the site and he was a moderator. Or “Nazirator” as I called him before I left, my last shreds of civility finally used up.
So anyway, disgusted with how hostile the FFWA boards had become, I decided to surf around and look at some other sites I hadn’t been to in a while. I came across the Pinnacle site and started to read about this new RPG they were calling Savage Worlds…