Thanks IkariLoona for the inspiration!
Shantotto’s “a character with the personality of a villain but who channels her powers for good.”
Her philosophy is basically “might makes right”. She is condescending towards everyone else and doesn’t care for anyone’s opinion. As an incredibly powerful black mage (possibly the most powerful in the world) she pretty much does what she pleases, including researching dangerous spells that have potentially devastating consequences and getting adventurers (i.e. the player) involved in all sorts of dangerous quests, and forces you to clean up her mess when something goes wrong. She also has no hesitation casting Flare on you when you anger her.
Shantotto has almost everything required to be a villain. She believes that power is the most important thing in the world, doesn’t obey anyone except when it befits her good favor and considers herself superior to those weaker than her (which would be almost everyone). She even has an (almost comically) tragic backstory that could lend itself to a whole Start of Darkness routine. She could easily become a major villain if it were not for the fact that she lacks one crucial element: motive.
According to what I described in these post (1, 2), I think Shantotto, especially her alternate reality self, would actually make an interesting villain. Of course, many people don’t see her as a villain:
Despite her shortcomings, Shantotto is loyal if she finds a cause she thinks is worth fighting for; if she finds it doesn’t benefit her on a personal level, or if said cause could have a negative effect on the overall populace, she will leave without a moment’s hesitation.
Shantotto has no reason to be evil. She’s genuinely loyal to her nation of Windurst, and considers its well-being as one of her top priorities. If Windurst were some sort of evil empire bent on world conquest (and if you study FFXI history, you’ll learn that it once was, sort of), then she’d be a true force of villainy. But thankfully Windurst’s current leader is very benevolent, so Shantotto too is also on the side of good.
Square Enix may even hesitate to jump her from good to bad ladders. Why not use her alternate reality self? And why pass up an opportunity to make an interesting villain? Many interesting villains have been good guys in their own world; Shantotto would be no different:
Shantotto views herself superior to all others and will not bow down to anyone.
She lives by the motto “The Ends Justify The Means,” meaning she will do whatever it takes to win even if an ally were to get hurt. Shantotto has a short fuse, easily losing her temper with anyone who would stand up to her or question her.
Her thirst for knowledge can bring out either the best or worst in her, depending on the situation.
For her as a villain, maybe always the worst.
Look at how sinister she can look:
Also, read this.
So looking back at her personality, what’s really so “good” about her? I think it would be interesting to see how they handle her character as a villain. Maybe in Final Fantasy XVI, with Agni as the “good” main protagonist.
“Why be led, when you can be leader? Why bow to lady luck when you can beat her? Why sit back and relax if you can pull your fill? Before you are taken, why not go in for the kill? #O-hohohohohoho!”
—Shantotto’s words of wisdom