I said before that I wanted to discuss the party members in Dragon Quest XI, so I might as well do that now. DQ4 was the first in the series to flesh out the playable characters’ back stories and motivations, and while some entries have focused more on making the characters customizable, this one continues the trend of fleshing out these people. As might be expected, there are SPOILERS.
The Luminary – The main protagonist and playable character, he has no official name and is generally silent (although at one point he meets his past self, who DOES talk), as is generally the case with DQ heroes. He’s the reincarnation of Erdwin, the original Luminary, and also the rightful Prince of Dundrasil, son of King Irwin and Queen Eleanor. As the kingdom has been destroyed, however, this doesn’t give him any particular advantages. He was brought up in the village of Cobblestone in the Kingdom of Heliodor, raised by a woman named Amber and her late father Chalky, and best friends with the Mayor’s daughter Gemma.
Other characters comment on how he doesn’t look that strong, and on how nice his hair is.
His status as Luminary gives him special powers, some of which only work involuntarily. And he’s the first person to receive the name of Erdrick as a reward for his services.
Erik – He’s a thief with spiky blue hair, an orphan who grew up with his sister Mia serving the Vikings near Sniflheim.
When Mia accidentally turned herself into a golden statue, he went searching for the cure, eventually teaming up with the Luminary based on the advice of a mysterious seer. Many of his skills are based on speed, stealth, and finding treasure. He doesn’t have access to that much magic, but the spells that drop rocks on monsters on every turn (for a while) are pretty cool. I didn’t use him a whole lot after getting other characters, but he can be quite powerful. I’ve heard rumblings of a future DQ Monsters game featuring him and Mia.
Veronica – From the town of Arboria, she’s a tough, brash, bossy girl who’s really older than she looks. When monsters drained her magic powers, they also drained her age. She gets the magic back, but remains in the form of a child. Her specialty is offensive magic. At the end of Act 1, she dies protecting her friends, but she can be saved via time travel. She never grows back up again, though, except in one brief scene with the Seer.
So does she just live through her childhood again? It seems rather awkward. I’d have a caustic attitude too if I had to do that. A fun reference is that one of her voice samples is “Hey! Listen!”
Serena – The sage Serenica, companion and lover of Erdwin, was reincarnated as both Veronica and Serena.
They’re twins, and while Serena is technically the younger of the two, she retains her adult form. They both journey with the Luminary as per prophecy.
Serena is much shier than her sister, a bit unsure of herself, but quite powerful with her healing magic.
She becomes somewhat more confident when she obtains the late Veronica’s powers in Act 2, but that’s changed after the time travel, and she once again tends to rely on her sister. Although it doesn’t affect the story much, she’s the one I chose as the Luminary’s life partner, presumably not exactly the same as a spouse. Earlier versions of the game just had him marry Gemma, while the Definitive Edition lets you partner with any party member instead, including…well, I’ll get to that later.
Sylvando – Named Norberto by his father, Don Rodrigo of Puerto Valor, he took up the new name when he joined the circus. A flamboyant, acrobatic type, I’d say he’s the first openly gay character in the series, although I guess that’s never specifically stated. His mission in life is to make everyone happy. In battle, he’s a well-rounded character with a variety of skills, some based on showmanship. He can equip multiple sorts of weapons and use a few spells. His loyal companion Dave (pronounced with two syllables) was the head of the Royal Navy of Zwaardsrust, then became a pirate after the fall of that kingdom until he met Sylvando.
He usually stays with the ship, but he does help out in Sylvando’s brief solo adventure between the first two acts, as do several others who have a desire to perform.
I tended to use him pretty often, even though he’s not that hard-hitting toward the end of the game. His Sobering Slap ability, which removes confusion with one hit, is quite useful.
He reconciles with his father in Act 2, then again in Act 3 due to the time travel.
Jade – The Princess of Heliodor, who became a wanderer after her father was possessed by Mordegon. Earlier in life, she was largely raised by the Luminary’s mother Eleanor.
She’s a skilled martial artist, but also the game’s sex appeal character, able to use such abilities as Puff-Puff and Sexy Beam. She’s similar to Jessica in DQ8 in that respect, but seems more mature, which I suppose makes it somewhat less creepy. I mean, I think the sexy attacks are supposed to be funny, and they are, but did these characters WANT to be largely defined by their bodies? I guess when you’re up against monsters, you use whatever you have. It’s amusing that the monsters tend to be distracted by such things, though; how does a reptile or a robot know that breasts are supposed to be sexual?
She’s certainly attractive, and I like the way her purple ponytail moves. Jade is the only party member who has no magic spells at all, but some of her abilities certainly appear magical in nature.
Rab – Or Lord Robert, to use his full name and title. He’s the former King of Dundrasil, having abdicated in favor of his son-in-law Irwin. This also makes him the Luminary’s grandfather, yet he’s still a potential life partner, which is why I said it wasn’t quite the same as marriage. Or at least it isn’t with every option. While old, he can still hold his own in fights, having studied martial arts in Angri-La (a requirement for Princes of Dundrasil), and being versed in different types of magic. He has offensive, defensive, and buffing spells, but not the most powerful of any of these. He carries around a pornographic magazine, so I guess he kind of fits the horny old man stereotype that’s common in Japanese media.
But then, he’s embarrassed by it, and he has been a widower for a long time. It is hinted, however, that he purposely messed up on his training so Grand Master Pang would paddle him, which suggests a masochistic side.
When you first encounter Rab, he’s traveling with Jade, trying to find out what happened to her father, who used to be a good friend of his.
Sir Hendrik – One of the most famous and formidable knights in the world, he starts out the game as the Luminary’s opponent. He was born in Zwaardsrust, trained in Puerto Valor, and came to serve the King of Heliodor. Unfortunately, he was unaware of his monarch’s possession by Mordegon, and hence believed the Lord of Shadows’ lies about the Luminary being the evil Darkspawn. His best friend, who grew up with him, was a knight named Jasper, who was renowned as a brilliant tactician but never lived up to Hendrik’s swordsmanship.
His jealousy led him to intentionally side with Mordegon, while Hendrik just remained intensely loyal.
Even while still under the dark lord’s command, however, he was still essentially good, preventing the people of Cobblestone from being killed and aiding the survivors after the destruction of Yggdrasil. When King Carnelian is freed from Mordegon’s power, Hendrik joins the Luminary, and is a party member for most of Acts 2 and 3. He starts out with a lot of attack and defense power and a few spells. The knight is a strong-willed and serious character.
That’s probably all I’ll write on DQ11 for the time being, although I can’t say I won’t return to it later. Right now, I’m alternating between Paper Mario: The Origami King and Final Fantasy Legend 2.