There’s one question I keep getting from my viewers. “What was the difference between and ARR’s map?” It’s a valid question. One would presume Dalamud and Bahamut permanently damaged the landmass of Aldenard, causing the map to change drastically. In reality though – nothing changed. Here’s the map of Eorzea. And here’s the map used in ARR. It’s the same map! So Dalamud didn’t permanently change Aldenard at all, which is all well and good. This map would be used in FFXIV all the way up to Stormblood, when the map finally got a makeover. The change was made to accommodate Othard now being explorable, leading to the Three Great Continents map. So let’s look at the map today. To the east we now have Othard, where most of the focus lies in Stormblood.
Ilsabard is located to the far north, and southwest of Ilsabard, is our home continent, Aldenard. With our favourite city-states Ul’Dah, Limsa Lominsa, Gridania, Ishgard, Sharlayan, and Ala Mhigo. Let’s once again look back at what the original map looked like. So right of the bat you’ll notice Ala Mhigo looking quite different than what it would in SB. First of all, no flag. Some people have later questioned why this was the case. The obvious reason being that Ala Mhigo was never intended to play a major role in XIV originally. Ishgard would probably be the main focus in future patches or even expansion. It’s actually more evident by the city-state’s icon on the map as well.
It’s exactly the same as that of Sharlayan. I believe this was used as a “generic city-state” symbol, and Ala Mhigo and Sharlayan was meant to either remain small-scale city-states with little to no impact on the overall story, or have the settlement icons update as the main story progressed through expansions. Another detail is obviously the banner’s size compared to the 4 main city-states of Eorzea. This too was rectified in Stormblood. But the last, most interesting detail is the land around Ala Mhigo. In it was mostly green and mountainous, while in Stormblood, they just airbrushed some brown and yellow in there to make it look more desert-y.
Moving to Sharlayan, the same thing can be seen here. The icon and banner changes to reflect the actual appearance of the city-state. However note that there is no flag. We now know why, as Sharlayan was abandoned, and Old Sharlayan remains the sovereign nation, and thus the flag can be found there in the SB map. Another notable change in this region is the lack of the mountain “Sohm Al” which ironically, despite having it marked down on the map for SB, and clearly being the centerpiece in artwork of Dravania for Heavensward, it came out looking like this in-game. Not… Not quite as impressive.
Disappointing mountain aside, if we look back at the map, let’s focus our eyes here for a bit. This is the land connection to The Garlean Empire. Notice how the map has cracked just over where it says “The Garlean Empire”. The landmass leading in to Garlemald is also very visible, just slightly obscured by clouds and some birds. In the revised SB map, this connection is barely visible. The name removed. Crack repaired. The masses have also changed entirely. Now being more mountainous than before. The name of the Garlean Empire is no longer directly visible from the Eorzean Map, as the full map has the name printed in the middle of Ilsabard. The Garlean Empire was set out to be so important from the start of 1.0, it’s hard not to assume the Garlean Empire was considered as one of the first expansion areas in the game at the time of release. However that’s not what we’re here for. No. Not at all, cause to me the most interesting aspect of the map change are the map’s icons and markings. More specifically the icons that disappeared and the ones they kept.
One of the most visible things to have been removed is the map’s title. “Eorzea”. This ornate title contains a few mysteries of its own. The top seems to not really contain anything of interest – it just looks like decorations. However the lower half does seem to contain something symbolic. Two snakes or serpents facing what looks like a crest. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Lukile you’ve lost your mind. This is just obvious garbled mess meant for decoration.” And yes, you might be right. But there’s a lot of we just don’t know and probably never will know. What we DO know is that the lore team spent a lot of time creating the world, including stuff like the constellations above Hydaelyn, so for them to put lore in the map decorations makes sense. We’ll get back to that point in a little bit. For now though, let’s entertain the idea that this title contains some clues about 1.0’s Eorzea. The crest in the middle is curious. It’s obviously too small for us to discern any real details, but if we take the crest’s location into consideration, it’s possible this could be intended to represent the flag or crest of Eorzea.
So let’s say that this is an early prototype-crest of Eorzea. The next part implies something that would rewrite history completely. Floating above it – is a CROWN! Traditionally ,when a crown is placed above a crest or other symbols, it means it’s the property of the Crown, and thus is part of a Kingdom. If this was just made for decoration, it’s a very strange detail to add, seeing as it’s so visible. We already know that the map of Eorzea was made long before the game was done. We covered the Adventurer’s Guild That Never Was in the series’ first episode, and in it we could see the map – in different stages of completion.
It is possible the map was made even before a lot of the lore had been finalized. Maybe Eorzea was supposed to be a kingdom? With the city-states merely being cities within the Kingdom? Ok I’m pushing it now, but it’s interesting nonetheless. I initially thought this detail was lost forever, but lo and behold! In the Three Great Continents map, it returned! It’s literally the same title decoration, with Eorzea replaced by The Three Great Continents! But let’s stay at the prototype map of a bit longer. The map looks more or less complete here. But there are differences. First of all, the name “Eorzea” is located at the bottom right – with a more generic ornate border. Ilsabard seem to be way more connected to Aldenard, as there’s this MASSIVE portion off to the east. But I think the most intriguing detail here, is this one-winged symbol here.
It looks to have some sort of dragon in the center, and is located above Ishgard, which doesn’t even have an illustration of the city-state behind the banner. What all of this means no one knows. So let’s go back to the actual map, to the south east. Here’s a poem, called “In One Are Twelve”. The poem was made by Roddard Ironheart, who actually made the map: A map is as precise As the malms walked in her making, Yet I fear these feet Have but far too few between them May she serve faithfully Any who would employ her for good, And shun all who would fill Her borders with blood Twelve see the steps taken By those who heed her humble guidance Ensure her legacy endures. I will Roddard. I will. Anyways, that’s all well and good – the poem returned in The Three Great Continents map, but my sight is locked on this thing right here. Initially I figured it was part of the poem art, but… it’s cut off on the right, and is too far away from the poem to really belong there.
It also has this blank banner at the bottom, seemingly indicating that it was supposed to mark down a point of interest of some sort. However it is the only one of its kind, and it was completely removed in SB, so whatever it was meant to indicate we may never know. Okay, so let’s talk flags. At the bottom left of the map are the flags of the four major city-states. And curiously, this part of the map was kept in SB. Unchanged. “But wait!” I hear you shout! What about Ala Mhigo? Well again, as I pointed out in the beginning, Ala Mhigo was most likely never meant to be more than a small settlement, with little to no impact on the main scenario, and thus never got its own flag.
The map was also drawn up in 1506 of the Sixth Astral Era, so this means Eorzea was a different place at the time. Due to the Autumn War in 1468-1469, Ala Mhigo was no longer on good terms with the rest of Eorzea, and the Eorzean Alliance consisted of Ul’Dah, Limsa Lominsa, Gridania, and Ishgard. This explains why only their flags are present on the top of the map. When Roddard drew up this map, these were the only city-states that mattered to Eorzeans.
Having an Ala Mhigan flag there might have been very controversial. But then, directly below the Big Four, are 14 smaller flags. They are all unique in design. Some are very hard to read, others are clear as day. The flags seem to be divided into specific groups too. These four are one. Then there’s these three. These two outliers to the very right, these two, and these three. The asymmetric grouping of the flags suggests a sort of hierarchy, or maybe even alliances. But what do they mean? Early theories suggest that they are hamlet flags. But hamlets of Eorzea used their respective city-state’s flags, and none of these flags were ever seen in-game. These ships sailing from Limsa Lominsa are marked on the map specifically with one of the flags on them. Why? These are the only ships on the map with a discernable flag or crest! A second theory suggests the following: Because this map was made before the game came out, and before most of the world’s lore was finalized, these flags might have been meant to represent smaller settlements in Eorzea – including Ala Mhigo and Sharlayan.
This could explain why their city icons are so generic. There are two flags separate to the very right. These could be the flags for Ala Mhigo and Sharlayan. But a third theory exists. If we are to take the crown in the title thing literally, Eorzea might have been meant to be a kingdom, and these smaller flags could be noble houses of Eorzea. But there’s also the fourth theory – that they are all gibberish meant to decorate the map, and nothing else. Of course, that is also possible, but how boring is that. In addition to the strange ship crests, there’s another flag or symbol that’s always bothered me about the Eorzean map.
These red squares with the gibberish text next to them. They are red in colour and only appear twice on the whole map. One near Thanalan, possibly Vesper Bay, and one in the Dravanian Hinterlands. Is this supposed to indicate trade ports? If so, why does Limsa and Gridania not have them? Does it indicate an established trade route? Is it a trade company flag? I wish I had some good answers for you, but seeing as the text is garbled gibberish never meant to really be read, and the flag not really being a thing in XIV, I can’t give you any. We can only speculate! And yes, these red flags are still there in the revised map. We already know that had a completely different direction planned, but we’ll never know where it was meant to go. This map could hold some of the biggest hints about what was planned. Content and lore we’ll never see completed. I’m super interested in hearing what you think about all this in the comments, so do make sure to leave that for me before you leave! If you liked this video, remember to leave a like, and you can subscribe too, if you want.
Not forcing you though. Anyways, thanks for watching this episode of SoaR. I’ll be back next month, and in that one we’ll be looking at an unused Coerthan dungeon! May you ever walk in the light of the Crystal! .
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