Beginner's Guide - San d'Oria: Yesterday we gave you the review, today we give you the tools to begin working your way through Final Fantasy XI with the Final Fantasy XI Beginner's Guide ? San d'Oria.
Before you can walk, you must crawl. Never is this truer in game form than your first hours in the world of Vana'diel, the world of Final Fantasy XI. Square's first MMORPG is not big?it's enormous, and many dangers lie ahead for inexperienced players. Those who rush headfirst into tough tasks will find themselves dead in a hurry, frustrated at their lack of progress. Unfortunately, FFXI is not a game to rush into; many, many hours will be needed just to get your character prepared to begin actually digging into the game - you'll be doing fetch quests and whacking lots of weak enemies before you're ready to advance. However, with the right direction, even this can be a rewarding, entertaining game, training for eventual glory with other players in your home nation. Within this guide, part one of hopefully numerous, we'll cover the easiest and most interesting paths to success in the Elvaan kingdom of San d'Oria. Rome wasn't built in a day, and nor will your character - but this hopefully will make it a less frustrating trek.
Learn The City Quickly
- San d'Oria is a fairly straightforward city, but you'll definitely want to learn the locations of many things quickly. Nothing is more annoying than pulling up your map every 5 seconds to figure out where you're at. Find markers to designate where you're going, know the locations of the Residential Areas, and memorize the locations of the NPC's that let you repeat quests so you can turn in your fetches for gil and/or useful items. Memorizing locations will make your city wanderings much less frustrating when you know where you're going. Plus, it helps you later on when you're gathering other players for parties, so you aren't running all over the countryside looking for your assembled grouping. One small thing to note, is until you reach rank 2 (by doing missions for the San d'Orian government), don't bother going near the castle area, as the guards'll run you off. Once you hit rank 2 though, you can go in and access some pretty challenging quests that are quite rewading.
Know Your Limits - After you've made your character, you must tread carefully if you plan on spending dozens of hours leveling up. Getting too big for your britches usually means an unfortunate demise and loss of experience points or even a level. Thus, it's wise to not bite off more than you can chew, and stick to what you know will be easy and relaxing. At this point, you'll struggle to find a party, and really, you need to be alone at times to learn how the game works rather than bog down experienced players by being clueless (there is a difference between a smart new player and a ?n00btard' player, you know). In San d'Oria, that way is to stay in the general vicinity of the kingdom gates, not wandering off into the wilderness, where nasty, aggressive characters (as in, the ones who attack you without provocation, like Orcs and Goblins) can make your life hell without someone there to save your ass, especially if you're a black or white mage, with their low HP and defense.
As the first dozen levels you'll gain will most likely be on your own, you must be very cautious where you tread. Sticking near the gates and the surrounding areas nearby will let you whack Wild Rabbits, Ding Bats, and Tunnel Worms - unaggressive characters with pretty weak attacks and HP. You'll gain numerous things fighting these - modest experience, and items that can be turned into gil for easy money (we'll discuss excellent gil making introductory quests in just a bit). These enemies give experience until you reach level 7, so stick with them until you're at that level - then it's time to head deeper into the wilderness of Ronfaure. The experience earned gets smaller as you gain levels, but they're easy prey that can give out some important items, and that's the idea here - painless leveling, even if it takes a lot of time. This also is the best way to earn the respect of your peers, as your methodical play will cause them fewer headaches if you get in a jam and beg for help be it healing or revival if you get killed. So, when the time comes to join parties, you'll be better off - after all, if you get a bad rep, nobody will want to join up with you.
Join The Conquest! - There's no reason to not join your country's Conquest, where you fight enemies to control the land from Bastok and Windhurst, as well as the Beastmen. You earn points with each enemy that you kill (that still earns you experience points), which you can turn around and trade in for some good items. At each gate, a guard with a special designation at the end of his name will cast Signet on you if you request, which is what will begin the Conquest. At low levels, it lasts 2 hours (real-time, not Vana'diel time), but as you advance in rank (by doing missions, something you should avoid for the time being, until perhaps level 7, and mostly done in parties due to the difficult tasks requested), Signet will last longer. It costs nothing, it doesn't hurt you at all, and you won't even really notice you have it cast. So just do it! It also will allow you to find crystals off dead stuff, which you can use to synthesize items if you're in a Guild, or you can sell them in your Bazaar to those who need a few but don't want to waste time fighting, as they tend to sell pretty frequently if you lounge around town a while. Plus, you'll get people checking what you have numerous times, as they get to know your character and what they've bought before. Just another way of building a community in your world.
Finding Quests for Gil - Unlike a great many Final Fantasy games, you don't earn gil from enemies you kill out in the world (aside from Orcs and Goblins, but they're too tough for you now and don't give out a lot of cash). Thus, you actually have to work for your money, by doing quests and/or selling stuff you find or make in your Guild of choice (which we won't cover here, as at the outset, Guilds are a bit too advanced as most items needed to make things aren't out in the open, at least not yet). Thankfully, even for low-level characters, there's a good set of quests that will help you earn enough gil to get started and feel like you're making it in the world. Best off, these quests are repeatable, and as such you can earn gil over and over by bringing things to your NPC clients. It's hard work, but seeing as gil doesn't grow on trees, it's better than nothing.
Perhaps the easiest quest would be Starting a Flame, which is based out of the Lion Springs Tavern in Southern San d'Oria, near the Residential Area. Find Legata, who always stands by the fire inside. He needs flint stones to keep the fire going, and he requests your help in the matter. He will pay 100 gil for 4 flint stones. Accept his quest and head out into the open, fighting Tunnel Worms. These worms are probably the easiest enemies to fight, as long as they don't cast Stone on you, which can be painful. If you keep whacking them, eventually you'll earn four flint stones. Every time you have four (or an equivalent of 4, it doesn't matter, you can turn them all in at once), head back and ?trade' 4 of them at a time to Legata, for 100 gil for each set. It's not a lot of cash, but it's better than nothing.
Near the Tanner's Guild in Southern San d'Oria is Parvipon, who's looking for rabbit hides. He offers the Merchant's Bidding quest to you. For each 3 hides you bring him from Wild Rabbits, you'll get 120 gil. The process works just like the above, and you can bring him as many as you want at once, and trade them to Parvipon in sets of 3. Combining this with the flint stones quest can mean 220 gil each trip into town at least, if you find these items fast enough. It all depends on competition from other players and how many fiends are out and about the time you're hunting (night time has the most, from what I can see).
Finally, in Northern San d'Oria, overlooking Laborman's Way is Secodiand, and the Fear of the Dark quest. While you might think he's a bit loose in the brain matter, he asks you to bring him a pair of bat wings, which he'll pay 200 gil for each time. This quest is a bit trickier, as Ding Bats only come out between 17:00 hours and 7:00 hours, and don't hang around too frequently in the outskirts of town. They're there though, so watch for them and attack, until you earn 2 wings. Now, you're looking at making 420 gil per day possibly out whacking stuff, which is not a bad payday for a new player that can't buy or use much of the high-end stuff yet anyway.
If you want an easy one-time mission, try A Taste For Meat in Port San d'Oria. Find Antreneau in the Rusty Anchor Pub, and you'll enter a cutscene where he'll look for a good meal, but the cook doesn't have what's needed. Head out into the wild, kill yourself some Rabbits, and get 5 slices of Hare Meat. Bring it to the cook, and you'll earn 120 gil for your trouble. Then, speak to Antreneau again, and he'll give you some of his food, in the form of Grilled Hare Meat. Eating this will increase your strength for a good while, so eat up and take this advantage to go after some tougher enemies if you're at the right level.
Tackling a Mission - When you're not earning experience anymore for entry-level fiends, it's time to start moving on - so talk to one of the guards near an exit out of town and you'll trigger a mission if you request one. While most missions are not easily done without a party, the first mission can be done on your own. They'll request you to bring back an orcish axe, by killing Orcish Fodder out in the wild. At level 7, these will be tough, but can be done with proper strategy. Avoid Grapplers and Mesmerizers though, as they can hurt you bad at this stage. As these enemies are aggressive, stick close to the road if you possibly can, so you can make a run for it back into town if you have to. Killing Fodder will eventually give you the required item, but it will take many to deliver what you need. Bringing it back will complete the mission and raise your rank a bit. This mission also can be done with another person, making it a bit easier, but it's a good introductory mission to advance the FFXI storyline. When the time comes to tackle the second mission, be wise and find a party to help, as it can be a dangerous trek unprepared or at low levels. This mission is repeatable, so if you're at high levels, you can try to acquire another axe (which takes a lot of time, I've only been able to gather 2 thus far in all my hours playing). You'll earn more rank points, though you have to complete all three rank 1 missions to gain rank 2.
The other two rank one missions can be beaten alone, but you should be at level 10 (depending on your class and job) or so before doing either one. Even then, the Bat Hunt mission requires a bit of dungeon hopping (be sure to do the Exit The Gambler quest, which begins at the area near the entrance to Port San d'Oria and ends near the Residential Area in Southern Sandy, because you'll get a map of the dungone), and some maze-like hijinx, but it's doable as long as you don't get aggro from those damned Goblins, which can be in huge numbers and put you in a bad way. Thankfully, the dungeon you'll be visiting is usually pretty populated with other players, so if trouble arises, help isn't too far away. For the third mission, you're on your own - but be sure to visit the map seller near the fountain in Northern San d'Oria to buy a map of the area you'll be heading. I know from experience that navigating through that area without one is certain trouble. On the safe side though, you might want to gather another player, as a backup. It doesn't have to be a white mage to heal - just someone who can rip through enemies fast with minimal damage taken.
When To Move On - Once you reach level 7 (and unlike the formality of leveling in past FF games, this one feels like you earned the damn level up), and the enemies at the outset offer no more experience, it's time to move along. However, this is still not easy, as many enemies can surprise you and do damage. At first, Forest Hares, Carrion Worms, Forest Funguars, and Scarab Beetles are your best prey, as they're not particularly strong. Higher level Ding Bats and Mouse Bats will also come in handy, as they offer decent EXP and of course, you can acquire the bat wings for the quest regarding it. There will be Orcs of various classes running around (be wary of Mesmerizers as they can poison you, which isn't fun if you're low on HP), so be careful and stay out of their view unless you think you can take them (select them and choose ?check' to see what kind of battle you'll have). They have varying levels, so be cautious before engaging.
By the time you hit level 10, you'll be able to travel anywhere in the Ronfaure area, without too much trouble. Take this advantage to tackle some various quests in San d'Oria (talking to all the NPC's you find will trigger a great many quests) - a good one involves heading back to Rusty Anchor Pub and finding Gulemont. He'll ask your help to find a document that could be anywhere in West Ronfaure, but names three specific places - the Outpost, Knightwell, and the entrance to La Thiene Plateau. It's random where the document is placed, so you may have to hit multiple locations. This will net you 560 gil (a LOT of gil at this point), so even though it's a one-time only quest, it's worth the trouble, and relatively safe once you're in the double digits of levels.
From Here, You're On Your Own - Once you've hit this part of the game, you're pretty much free to do what you choose. You can start doing more difficult missions and quests, and start up at a Guild. You can fish in the streams and rivers nearby or in town, start selling excess stuff at the Bazaar (hint - sell stuff you get free at modest prices, as you'll still make money looting dead fiends, and don't worry, someone will buy if it cuts time for them - be a helper!), whatever. At this point, it's safe to start looking for parties to help out, so the game becomes the MMORPG that was intended. It'll take roughly 20-30 hours to get this far, but it's only a fraction of the time you'll probably spend in Vana'diel once you get to this point.