Thanks to IkariLoona for the inspiration!
I don’t know much about Final Fantasy XI and XIV, but I know a little bit about Dissidia. Apparently, IkariLoona believes that Shantotto used World B to further her existence.
My pet theory on the (future) meta-narrative of XI involves Shantotto using her Dissidia appearance in-universe and on a meta level to survive the prospect of her game going offline, saving herself for posterity.
OK, that’s interesting. Already, this theory implies that, somehow, Shantotto is aware she exists in a video game. How is this possible? Don’t know. She just has a type of super sanity. Perhaps she has the same type of awareness that makes her laugh at destruction; if she knows she exists in a game, then perhaps she doesn’t believe her actions have real consequences.
However, she realizes her existence depends upon Final Fantasy XI’s existence.
She’s not actually that important in XI and its major stories, even if she’s fun and powerful, but the original Dissidia was short on women and mages, and a physically distinct silhouette always helps balance a cast, so she was perfect for that. What little story she has in Dissidia involves mentions of her researching an ultimate spell, although there are no explicit mentions of what that spell does.
In World B, Shantotto probably realizes the first taste of being a major player in a game. Shantotto was so popular she became the representative for Final Fantasy IX. Obviously, as she would say.
So what spell was she researching? In Final Fantasy XI: A Shantotto Ascension – The Legend Torn, Her Empire Born, she’s attempting to perfect a spell of interdimensional travel. This would explain how she arrived in World B.
After Dissidia, Shantotto was involved in multiple stories involving multiversal travel – that’s a major part of her own mini-expansion in XI, as well as her appearance in FFXIV and probably Dragon Quest X. You can even argue that what Shantotto reports upon returning home in her XI story could be a reference to her events in XIV.
With the crossing of dimensions being a considerable point of Dissidia’s story, it’s not unwarranted to think it would be a good environment for someone inclined toward magical research to use that environment to study and try to control voluntary dimensional travel.
And this is probably what most likely happened. While researching a spell of interdimensional travel, she arrives in World B, and stays to protect Cosmos.
What would make that the “ultimate spell”? If the life expectancy of a character from XI’s world is tied to the continued existence of that world, being able to exit it and exist elsewhere would equate with functional immortality.
In this sense, the characters of Final Fantasy XIV have done the same thing. After the fall of Meteor and the end of Legacy, characters were transported to a new Eorzea. In this sense, thy achieved immortality, as long as they don’t die in the new world. The same can be said for Shanotto.
The precarious nature of XI’s world as an online game is reflected in some of its major stories and their threats, primarily the Emptiness in Chains of Promathia (in particular, the Promyvion areas where it has taken hold look and feel like half-real half-remembered versions of known areas of the game, not to mention CoP’s release roughly aligns with the game’s original life expectancy of 5 years), and the Void in Rhapsodies of Vana’diel (which on the whole is even more symbolically aligned with the game’s precarious online existence) – notably, both stories also strongly feature Phoenix as a symbolic element of preservation and renewal of the world, relevant factors in keeping an online game around. Shantotto has very small roles in those stories, but enough that she’d be aware of the corresponding threats.
However, the Phoenix may as well be a formality or at least a symbolic hint that immortality is possible. Shantotto jumps through dimensions using a spell and doesn’t seem to extend her life through the Phoenix. In this sense, she may die in battle or of old age.
When the final chapter of Rhapsodies of Vana’diel (the stated last major story for XI) was released, along with it a new, special version of Shantotto, “Shantotto II”, was made available as a Trust NPC you can use in parties – this version, unlike practically all other Trust NPCs, has no direct equivalent in the rest of the game, it’s an entirely new model.
Notable about this version of Shantotto are a few distinguishing factors: she’s flying and floating all the time, her eyes are permanently red, and hair and clothes more a lot more from all the power and floating, she does a lot of damage with the weakest spell levels, but most notably, she has 6 elemental orbs floating around her all the time.
If you’re familiar enough with XI’s gameplay elements, you may be aware that just about everything in XI has an elemental affiliation: spells, weather, creatures (visible through the crystal types they drop), abilities, crafting, the works. Another underlying part of the XI mythos is that its world is sustained through the elemental celestial avatars sleeping in their respective protocrystals, and should they waken, the world as it is known would end.
One of the missions in Shantotto’s mini-expansion consists on placing seals in the elemental protocrystals – the woman is well familiarized with the importance of this elemental power in the world, and it seems fitting that she’d try to acquire more of it in some way.
I get the impression that this “Shantotto II” reflects the possibility of Shantotto trying to hoard as much power from her world before jumping ship to another, before XI’s Vana’diel is consumed by the Void/goes offline, going on to be a threat elsewhere.
This is a very interesting concept. While it won’t extend her life, or increase her chances at a success interdimensional jump, it does allow her to functionally become a god.
Having become XI’s most famous character thanks to Dissidia, she will likely survive it in fame and references for years to come, as long as SE defaults to using her as the game’s rep in crossovers (this has fortunately started to change a bit – the Japanese version of FF Mobius finally features XI elements, but of those which are character references Shantotto is notably absent, replaced with characters closer to being primary protagonists and antagonists, for once). That she would try to jump ship from her world with as much from her world as she can not be beyond her.
In the end, Shantotto found a way to survive, with the reboot of Final Fantasy XI! This is during the time in which Final Fantasy XIV still remains one of the most popular MMORPGs of all time. So then, how did Shantotto pull this off? Did she somehow break into our world, and make a compelling argument to the executives at Square Enix?
I don’t know if I believe everything here, but it sounds really interesting! This would be more evidence of a possible Final Fantasy multiverse, and that Gilgamesh isn’t the only traveler in the series.