Seth Tomko is a writer, college-level educator, and adventurer.
Knights and Knaves in Dalmasca
In the background of Final Fantasy Twelve’s main plot is a story of sibling conflict that actually drives some characters to push the story toward its climax.
Vaan is motivated for much of the game by his brother’s memory. Reks, Vaan’s older brother, dies early in the game but is portrayed to be a loyal and a valiant soldier. While Vaan is not a coward, he is directed toward a more larcenous life because of his love of adventure, desire to fly airships, and belonging to the repressed class after the war is lost.
As his own actions and association with Ashe bring him deeper into the primary conflict, though, Vaan is clearly motivated by a sense of revenge. He wants to punish the people who betray and killed his brother leading to Rabanaster’s conquest. In his own roguish way Vaan takes up his brother’s mantle as a defender of the true kingdom while remaining true to his own identity rather than taking on his brother's.
Vayne and Larsa make an interesting study in that they both want the same ends—peace and freedom—but take wildly divergent paths toward that goal. Vayne becomes one of the game’s primary antagonists, setting his minions loose against the player, and that comes after his manipulation of the shaky political scene in Rabanaster. He eventually institutes a purge of opposing factions and commits patricide to ensure he has supreme power in governance and the military. His actions show he believes freedom will only come through security and cutting away from the divine beings manipulating the character's actions.
Larsa, on the other hands, spends time as a guest with the player’s party, uses his cunning and political leverage to keep his friends safe, frequently attempts to establish a peace-process with Ashe, and even openly opposes his brother’s mania toward the end. As a younger, polite, and caring youth he clearly wins sympathy over Vayne’s ambition and ruthlessness even if ultimately they have the same goal of imperial stability and freedom from reliance on Nethicite.
Basch and Gabranth
Gabranth and Basch have the most complicated relationship. These nearly identical-looking brothers consistently find themselves on opposite sides of the battle-field. Gabranth, of course, played the traitor at the game’s opening, tricking everyone into believing the honorable Basch committed regicide and turned his country to the control of foreign masters. For his duplicity Gabranth becomes a Judge and is made to oversee and protect Larsa.
Though Basch is thought to be dead, he lives imprisoned and stained with the guilt of his brother’s crime. It takes great effort for anyone to trust him, but Basch stoically labors to prove to the party he is a good man who still believes in the rule of law and the rightness of Ashe’s claim to rule Rabanaster. Throughout the game these brothers fight with Basch trying to combat Gabranth’s hate with decency and justice.
The ironic twist in their relationship comes as Basch and Garbranth essentially trade places again. After fighting against one another for so long, Gabranth turns against Vayne in order to save the life of Larsa, the weaker and more lawful of the royal brothers. In this act Gabranth is mortally wounded but believes he has done one honorable deed in the end of his life. It is now Basch’s turn to engage in deception.
Since he is supposed to be dead and Larsa skill requires a loyal and honorable protector, Basch assumes Gabranth’s identity as a Judge. This twist is of course an absolute reversal of the game’s start. Basch not only is the wearer of a false identity but also is, in his dishonesty, healing the wounds brought by his brother’s earlier betrayal.
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© 2009 Seth Tomko
Seth Tomko (author) from Macon, GA on October 28, 2009:
I hear you, MistHaven. I just wish there was more time spent on setting up these relationships so the payoff would have felt more substantial.
MistHaven on October 27, 2009:
I never really took notice of just how many pairs of siblings there were in Final Fantasy XII. Then again, I only played through it once. I think I find Basch and Gabranth's relationship the most interesting. I always felt like Vaan was more of a supporting character than a hero.