Home FF1 Rando Stream Study
The Magitek Factory - A Resource for the Final Fantasy Randomizer
The Magitek Factory: A Final Fantasy Randomizer Resource for Beginners

Introduction

In 1987, hot on the heels of Dragon Quest, Hironobu Sakaguchi and a small team of developers convinced their employer Square to create an RPG of their own, styled in the tradition of Dungeons & Dragons, Ultima, and more. Contrary to popular belief, the name Final Fantasy was not a reflection of the company's dire straits or a last-ditch effort at solvency. Instead, Sakaguchi said he merely wanted the F-F alliteration and ultimately settled on the name that would be a dominant force in video game RPGs for the foreseeable future.

After release, Final Fantasy would become one of the best-selling and best-rated games on the NES/Famicom system. Its fantastical story and setting - crystals, magic, and even time travel - would influence an entire generation of games to come.


More than two decades later, the game has seen new life not just due to its many re-releases, but also through the development of the Final Fantasy Randomizer, an unofficial mod that takes the traditional RPG and makes it part puzzle box, part speedrun. It's an engrossing format for veterans and newbies alike, and presumably why you're bothering to read this in the first place.

On this website, you'll find a collection of resources for the total newcomer, both to speedrunning and randomizing Final Fantasy. It is heavily influenced by my own time as a "duckling," learning the ropes as best as possible, and I hope that you find it useful. If you're looking for a more in-depth strategy guide, there are tons of resources for you on the more intermediate-minded guide by Philes and Edgeworth, and even more numbers-heavy links down in the Study Material section.. I will not be diving into hard numbers and hyper-nuanced strategies as much as getting acquainted with the game's most basic mechanics, routing, and decision-making.

I began playing the randomizer in summer 2019, having beaten FF1 only once (and the mobile version, at that) and having never played another randomizer, or even attempted to speedrun anything. After several weeks of studying maps and charts, my first Chaos kill clocked in at nearly five hours (minus a few bathroom breaks). A few weeks and iterations (and many, many questions to veterans) later, I clocked in below two hours and was streaming on Twitch for the first time.

It's an addictive hobby, and one that - while it may look obtuse and difficult from the outside - is more than conquerable for newbies of all skill levels and backgrounds. Having said that, you will best serve yourself if you beat the base game (any version) at least once before tackling the Randomizer.

The official FFR website even has a mode for that called Improved Vanillish which provides you with the increased speed and bug fixes of the randomizer while still maintaining the core routing and mechanics of the base NES game. It's a great way to experience the original version, but more attuned to modern RPG sensibilities.

So now that you've beaten Final Fantasy, what are we waiting for? Let's get started.

The Game

To begin with, let's use this section to talk about the vanilla NES game. Setting expectations, as it were. Note that if you, like me, played one of the re-releases first (I beat this game on mobile before anywhere else) some names and numbers will be much different than you're used to. So get used to things like the Floater, not the Levistone, and many more.

Having beaten the game once, you more or less know the story at hand. Four warriors of light, each with orb in hand, have to save the world. Ultimately, they defeat the four fiends (twice!) and Chaos, and all is well. You no longer need an in-depth walkthrough to know these basic bits of the game world.

Instead, I want to use this space to highlight some things that will be important to your experience in the Randomizer: the foundational structure of the game, a review of the specifics of character classes and bosses, and a review of key items and spells you'll need. This is part refresher and part explainer.

One important piece I've intentionally left out of this section (but is featured in the Study Material section) is a walkthrough of the game's maps. Let it be known: you will need to memorize the map of every location in the game over time if you're going to be successful in the Randomizer. Fortunately, you don't need to do this all at once. Indeed, you'll gain a lot of this knowledge simply through your first few runs.

However, it's absolutely worth spending some time reviewing the World Map (for routing purposes) and the Dungeon maps. You're going to need to know the location of treasure chests, entrances, and exits like the back of your hand. The go-to resource in the FFR community for this is Mike's RPG Center, which has been invaluable to me. I suggest you familiarize yourself with it.

If you already have a deep understanding of the core Final Fantasy game, you may choose to skip ahead to The Randomizer.

Vanilla Structure

Before we can really begin to strategize for the Randomizer, we've got to have an extremely solid grasp of the basic structure of the game's plot and gates. I'll be going over the Key Items again in Spells & Items, so if you can't remember what something does that will be the place to double check.

In order to start conceptualizing the discrete tasks that will face us in the Randomizer, let's break the whole game down into 6 chunks. We'll identify in each section what progression items we need, and what challenges await us. By breaking it down in this way, we'll be better able to adapt when things are thrown at us.

There are two key questions the Randomizer forces us to ask ourselves at any given point:

  • Which goal(s) can I accomplish with what I currently have?
  • (Optional) Of those goals, which should I do first?
  • When we're looking at these six chunks, we want to pay special attention to the things that are required to complete the next step, whether they be items (like the CUBE and CHIME for killing Tiamat) or events (like killing the Lich to get the Canoe).

    If you need a succinct reminder of the course of events in the game, Mike's RPG Center has a great rundown.

    1) Inland Progression

    Suggested Levels: 0-10

    To begin the game, we're going to traverse the better part of the inland sea. The primary things to remember here are the important fetch quest (Crown -> Crystal -> Herb -> Key -> TNT), getting the Ship from Pravoka, and remembering to talk to both the Princess and the King after killing Garland.

    Having a firm grasp on the fetch quest chain and various important locations is key because when you run the Randomizer, you usually won't be clearing out this part of the map in quite the same way; indeed, you might end up leaving huge chunks out until much later.

    Location Requirements Rewards
    Temple of Fiends None Princess
    Coneria Castle Garland Killed Lute, Bridge
    Pravoka Bridge Ship
    Marsh Cave Ship Crown
    Northwest Castle Ship, Crown Crystal
    Matoya's Cave Bridge, Crystal Herb
    Elfland Castle Ship, Herb Mystic Key
    Coneria Castle (locked) Mystic Key TNT
    Dwarf Cave Ship, TNT Canal

    2) The Earth Cave

    Suggested Levels: 11-15

    Once the fetch quest chain has been taken care of, you get...another fetch quest. But at least this time it leads to the demise of the first Fiend! Since we got the Ship and the Canal already, I'll note it for Melmond but omit it for the other locations in this section.

    Location Requirements Rewards
    Melmond Ship, Canal None Yet
    Earth Cave None Ruby
    Titan's Tunnel Ruby Opening to Sarda
    Sarda's Cave Vampire Killed Rod
    Earth Cave (part 2) Rod Earth Orb

    3) Paddling to Volcano

    Suggested Levels: 15-19

    With the first Fiend defeated, we move on to the second. Sailing south then west, we reach the dock by Crescent Lake and get our second mode of transportation. Again, we will assume for all of these that you need at least the Ship to have gotten this far.

    Location Requirements Rewards
    Crescent Lake Lich Defeated Canoe
    Volcano Canoe Fire Orb
    Ice Cave Canoe Floater
    Castle of Ordeal Crown, Floater Tail
    Bahamut's Lair Floater, Tail Class Change

    4) Flying to Sunken Shrine

    Suggested Levels: 20-21

    Two Fiends down and one class change granted by the King of Dragons, we're making fantastic progress! Let's tackle the next Fiend.

    Location Requirements Rewards
    Caravan Floater Bottle
    Gaia Floater, Bottle Oxyale
    Sunken/Sea Shrine (Left Side) Oxyale Water Orb
    Sunken/Sea Shrine (Right Side, aka Mermaid) Oxyale Slab

    5) Climbing the Mirage Tower

    Suggested Levels: 22-25

    Onto the last Fiend, but first a quick pit stop to learn a new language.

    Location Requirements Rewards
    Melmond Slab Translated Slab
    Lefein Floater, Translated Slab Chime
    Waterfall Canoe Cube
    Mirage Tower -> Floating Castle Chime, Cube Wind Orb, Adamant
    Dwarf Cave Adamant Xcalber

    6) Defeating Chaos

    Suggested Levels: 25+

    At long last, we make our way back to the Temple of Fiends and travel back 2,000 years in the past. Note that these two required items are not obvious, but are very much required - even the Mystic Key. This is an easy thing to forget in the Randomizer.

    Location Requirements Rewards
    Temple of Fiends (Revisited) Lute, Mystic Key A Restored Time Loop, THE END

    Bosses

    Eventually, as you begin trying out harder and harder flagsets in the Randomizer, you'll come face to face with Imps with death touch, or Gr Wolfs with a party-wiping poison attack. You'll learn to fear everyone, not just the bosses. But to start with, Chaos and Friends will absolutely be your main challenge focus. They look a little bit different than their re-release counterparts (and occasionally have different names), so here's your refresher.

    The Four Elemental Fiends

    The enemies so nice you'll face them twice: the elemental fiends.

    Since the Randomizer will alter the Fiends' stats - health included - you'll want to acquaint yourself with some basic morsels of knowledge. You may not be able to know exactly how much health Kraken2 (in Randomizer parlance, the TOFR variants of each fiend just add a "2" to the end of their name) has, but you can adjust your strategy based on how much health you expect it to have.

    If you're looking for a deeper dive into specific spell weakness, DarkmoonEX has a great list of spells and success rates here.

    Sprite Name Base HP Location
    Lich 400 Earth Cave
    Lich2 500 Temple of Fiends Revisited
    Kary 600 Volcano
    Kary2 700 Temple of Fiends Revisited
    Kraken 800 Sea Shrine
    Kraken2 900 Temple of Fiends Revisited
    Tiamat 1,000 Floating Castle
    Tiamat2 1,100 Temple of Fiends Revisited

    Chaos

    Chaos, of course, is the big bad. You've already killed him once, so you know how much of a slog he can be. Imagine him now, adjusted up to 130% or 150% (or more!) of his regular health. Knowing what to expect will become vital to avoid wasting 10 or more minutes of your run for a reset.

    Vanilla Chaos has some incredibly nasty skills and spells:

    Spells
  • FAST, SLO2
  • ICE2, ICE3, FIR3, LIT3
  • CUR4
  • NUKE

    Skills

  • INFERNO
  • SWIRL
  • TORNADO
  • CRACK (KO)
  • In the Randomizer, you can choose to shuffle enemy skills and spells around. For the first few runs, you may or may not choose to do this. Depending on the shuffle, though, CHAOS can either become easier or harder (Kary's STUN on Chaos is much less scary than Lich's NUKE, for instance).

    In short: prioritize a heavy-hitter like a Black Belt or Fighter, and make sure you have at least one ribbon (ideally two so your healer can survive as well) to avoid Chaos's cracks and rubs.

    Sprite Name Base HP Location
    Chaos 2,000 Temple of Fiends Revisited
    Resists everything. Hits hard as hell. Will ruin your day. Have Ribbons, or face your doom. Move your Fighter or BB to the fourth spot (for lowest chance of single-target attack), use FAST and a series of TMPR and INV2 on them, then go to work. In lieu of Ribbons, WALL or even ARUB can work to block CRACK.

    WarMECH

    You may also be lucky (or unlucky?) enough to face WarMECH during your travels. The Randomizer has three states for this bad boy (normal, patrolling, and required, perish the thought) so while if you happen to face him on the way to Tiamat you can usually just run away and hope for the best, you may occasionally be forced to terminate him before moving forward. The good news: he's worth a massive chunk of experience.

    Sprite Name Base HP Location
    Warmech 1,000 Floating Castle (Optional)
    Natively appears 4.7% of the time, although this can be altered (to as high as Required) in Randomizer. Worth a staggering amount of XP (32,000) if you manage to kill it, but not worth basing a strategy around.

    Spells & Items

    Even if you run the same party composition for every Randomizer, the spells and items you find along the way can massively change how your game plays out.

    You will encounter a massive number of items on any given run of your Randomizer. Indeed, for an average flagset it's expected to open 100 or more chests to hunt down the various weapons, armor pieces, and occasionally loose key items that you'll need to kill the fiends a second time and vanquish Chaos.

    It is not important that you know the exact numbers behind every single item in the game. To start, instead, we need to look at some general mechanics and highlight the important items to be searching for during your first few runs.

    A Note on Vancian Magic

    Named after fantasy writer Jack Vance, Vancian Magic is the structural foundation for casting spells in Dungeons & Dragons, from which the original Final Fantasy game borrowed heavily. Heavily.

    In effect, Vancian Magic has discrete spell slots and mana points instead of a general mana pool, as found in later FF games. Each spell in the game is assigned a level, and mages gain additional charges for various levels of magic as they progress. A Black Mage, for instance, begins the game with only two charges of level 1 spells, and nothing else. At level 5, the same Black Mage has four level 1 charges, three level 2 charges, and one level 3 charge. These are independent of each other, and are refreshed by sleeping in a House or using an Inn. If you played one of the later versions of FF1, this may be a surprise to you, as the re-releases switched to more modern mana pools.

    Part of managing your progression in Final Fantasy depends on being aware of these spell slots. Say that, deep into a dungeon, your White Mage has one level 5 charge remaining, your party is critically wounded, and your heal potion reserves are stretched thin. Do you use that charge to cast HEL2 and restore a bit of health, or do you save it in case a party member dies and needs to be revived with LIFE? These sorts of decisions will be crucial to your FF and Randomizer experience.

    Items & Spell Charts

    Finally for this opening section, let's review items and spells.

    Naturally, as mentioned above, you won't use every spell or item in the game. Some are more useful or important than others. The following charts are a reference to some of the more popular spells and items you'll utilize during your adventure; familiarizing yourself with their functions (like knowing CURE spells are single-target while HEAL spells are full-party) will help you out a ton in the future.

    Again, this is merely a review of the key items and some important - but not all - spells in the game. For an even more thorough accounting of all spells and items in the game, I highly recommend that you peruse Game Corner Guides Spells, Items, Weapons, and Armor. It's really a fantastic reference site, and since I won't be covering weapons and armor until a bit later down (and even then not in great detail), you should review the stats and effects of the basic ones. It'll help you recognize when you get a good deal in the randomized weapon/armor shops.

    The one exception to weapons/armor are the Magic Items you might pick up along the way. Most early flagsets you play will keep these in their vanilla state, so it's important to know how the Power Gauntlents are different from he Power Staff is different from the Mage Staff, etc. These powerful items don't need to be equipped to be used in battle, and are extremely useful.

    Use the navigation below if you're looking for a specific section.

  • Key Items
  • Magic Items
  • White Magic
  • Black Magic
  • Key Items
    Item Description
    LUTE Necessary to open Temple of Fiends Revisited
    SHIP Earned by beating the Pravoka Pirates, allows open-world water travel
    CROWN Give to the King in the Northwest Castle to fight Astos (and get Matoya's CRYSAL eye)
    CRYSTAL Give Matoya her CRYSTAL eye back to get the HERB
    HERB Given to the Prince's doctor in ELFLAND
    KEY Awarded by the herb-awakened Prince, opens a number of locked doors (see Routing)
    TNT Allows the Dwarves to create the Canal and open up the rest of the World Map
    RUBY Originally won from beating the Vampire, moves the Titan and gives access to Sarda
    ROD Given by Sarda in his cave, opens up the bottom two floors (and the Fiend) of Earth Cave
    CANOE Given by the old men in Crescent Lake, allows access to and traversal of inland waterways
    FLOATER Secured in the Ice Cave, spawns an Airship in the desert beneath Crescent Lake
    BOTTLE Purchased from the Caravan near Onrac, use it to set a fairy free
    OXYALE Given by fairy in Gaia after using BOTTLE, allows access to Sea Shrine
    SLAB Found in Sea Shrine, have translated by Dr. Unne in Melmond
    CHIME Given by Lefeinish people after seeing translated SLAB, grants access to Mirage Tower
    CUBE Opens up the Floating Castle from the top of Mirage Tower
    TAIL Won from Castle Ordeals, given to Bahamut for class change
    ADAMANT Trade with the Dwarven blacksmith for XCALBER, the game's second best weapon


    Magic Items
    Item Equivalent Spell Description
    Bane Sword BANE Inflicts Poison KO on ALL ENEMIES
    Black Shirt ICE2 Deals 80-160 Cold damage to ALL ENEMIES
    Defense RUSE Increases caster's EVADE by 80 points
    Heal Helmet HEAL Heals ALL ALLIES 12-24 HP
    Heal Staff HEAL Heals ALL ALLIES 12-24 HP
    Light Axe HRM2 Hits all Undead enemies with 80-160 non-elemental damage
    Mage Staff FIR2 Deals 60-120 Fire damage to ALL ENEMIES
    Power Gauntlet SABR Increases caster's damage per hit by 16 points (also found on Power Gauntlet)
    Thor Hammer LIT2 Deals 60-120 Lightning damage to ALL ENEMIES
    White Shirt INV2 Increase Evasion of ALL ALLIES by 40 points (stackable)
    Wizard Staff CONF Inflicts Status-element Confusion on all foes
    Zeus Gauntlet LIT2 Deals 60-120 Lightning damage to ALL ENEMIES


    White Magic
    Spell Level Description
    CURE Lv. 1 Heals ONE ALLY 16-32 HP
    CUR2 Lv. 3 Heals ONE ALLY 33-66 HP
    CUR3 Lv. 5 Heals ONE ALLY 66-132 HP
    CUR4 Lv. 7 Fully restore HP of ONE ALLY, plus remove status ailments (except Stone and KO)
    HEAL Lv. 3 Heals ALL ALLIES 12-24 HP
    HEL2 Lv. 5 Heals ALL ALLIES 24-48 HP
    HEL3 Lv. 7 Heals ALL ALLIES 44-96 HP
    HARM Lv. 1 Hits all Undead enemies with 40-80 non-elemental damage
    HRM2 Lv. 3 Hits all Undead enemies with 80-160 non-elemental damage
    HRM3 Lv. 5 Hits all Undead enemies with 120-240 non-elemental damage
    HRM4 Lv. 7 Hits all Undead enemies with 160-320 non-elemental damage
    LIFE Lv. 5 Revives one ally to 1 HP, out of combat only
    LIF2 Lv. 8 Revives one ally to FULL HEALTH, out of combat only
    INV2 Lv. 6 Increase Evasion of ALL ALLIES by 40 points (stackable)
    FOG2 Lv. 6 Increase Absorb of ALL ALLIES by 12 points (stackable)
    EXIT Lv. 6 Transports party fully out of dungeon
    WALL Lv. 8 Gives ONE ALLY resistance to all elements (basically, a Ribbon)


    Black Magic
    Spell Level Description
    TMPR Lv. 2 Increases one ally's damage per hit by 14 points (fixed in Randomizer)
    SABR Lv. 7 Increases caster's damage per hit by 16 points (also found on Power Gauntlet)
    FAST Lv. 4 Doubles one ally's number of hits per round (does not stack, unless SLOW'd)
    LOK2 Lv. 3 Decreases all enemies' evade by 20 points (fixed in Randomizer)
    WARP Lv. 5 Transports party to previous floor of dungeon (or previous teleporter in Ordeals)
    ICE2 Lv. 4 Deals 80-160 Cold damage to ALL ENEMIES
    ICE3 Lv. 7 Deals 140-280 Cold damage to ALL ENEMIES
    FIR2 Lv. 3 Deals 60-120 Fire damage to ALL ENEMIES
    FIR3 Lv. 5 Deals 100-200 Fire damage to ALL ENEMIES
    LIT2 Lv. 3 Deals 60-120 Lightning damage to ALL ENEMIES
    LIT3 Lv. 6 Deals 120-240 Lightning damage to ALL ENEMIES
    NUKE Lv. 8 Deals 200-400 non-elemental damage to ALL ENEMIES
    BANE Lv. 5 Inflicts Poison KO on ALL ENEMIES
    BRAK Lv. 7 Inflicts Poison KO on ONE ENEMY
    QAKE Lv. 6 Inflicts Earth KO on ALL ENEMIES
    ZAP! Lv. 8 Inflicts Time KO on ALL ENEMIES

    Statistics

    It will be important as you grow used to the game to understand the underlying mechanics: how are attacks measured, what prevents them, and how equipments affects the equation. Ultimately, this is a very quick primer of statistics that glosses over the more nuanced calculations, but it serves (for now) as an introduction to the terminology and basics you'll want to become comfortable with over time.

    Note that these are not all in-game statistics. Things like level, experience, HP, etc. I'm assuming you know already. Instead, I want to focus on the stats that will be ultimately altered more significantly by your choices and equipment in the Randomizer.

    For a much more thorough treatise on the subject, check out AstralEsper's Game Mechanics Guide, also linked in the Study Material section below.

    Stat Name Explanation
    Absorb Defense, granted by armor (or by level in case of an unequipped BB/Master). How much damage you can negate when a big PHYSICAL hit comes your way.
    Attack PHYSICAL damage done. Factors in both STR stat and the equipped weapon.
    Evade Chance to avoid PHYSICAL attacks. Determined by adding 48 to AGI stat minus armor weight.
    HIT% Increases accuracy and number of PHYSICAL hits. Also modified by weapon's accuracy.
    Magic Defense (MDef) Hidden stat. Calculated when resisting spells. Can cause hit vs. miss for status spells (like HOLD or STUN) and can effectively halve damage on resist for damage spells (like NUKE or FIRE).


    Elements & Statuses

    It will also be important to understand elements, statuses, and how they can impact you and your enemies on a basic level. In the middle column, player spells will be listed first and then enemy skills will be after the "/".

    Again - for a much more thorough treatise on the subject, check out AstralEsper's Game Mechanics Guide, also linked in the Study Material section below.

    Elements
    Element Name Applicable Spells Explanation
    Death RUB, XXXX / TOXIC, SQUINT Causes KO status. Resisted by ProRing, Ribbon, and White Robe.
    Earth QAKE / CRACK Causes KO status. Resisted by Ribbon.
    Fire FIRE, FIR2, FIR3 / HEAT, SCORCH, CREMATE, BLAZE, INFERNO One of the three basic elements, along with Ice and Lightning.
    Ice ICE, ICE2, ICE3 / FROST, BLIZZARD One of the three basic elements, along with Fire and Lightning.
    Lightning LIT, LIT2, LIT3 / THUNDER One of the three basic elements, along with Ice and Fire.
    Poison/Stone BANE, BRAK / GLANCE, POISON (stone), POISON (damage), STINGER Different from Poison status, causes Stone or KO status. Resisted by Aegis Shield and Ribbon.
    Status BLND, CONF, DARK, FEAR, HOLD, MUTE, SLEP, SLOW, STUN / GAZE, FLASH, SNORTING, INK, DAZZLE Inflicts statuses (seen below). Resisted by Ribbon.
    Time STOP, ZAP! / GLARE Only resisted by Chaos, for enemies. Resisted by Black Robe and Ribbon.
    Non-Elemental FADE, HARM, HRM2, HRM3, HRM4, NUKE, SLP2, SLO2 / STARE, TRANCE, NUCLEAR, SWIRL, TORNADO Skills and spells without an associated element.


    Statuses
    Status Name Applicable Spells Explanation
    Confusion CONF Causes target to attack itself or allies. 25% chance to recover each turn. Cured by CUR4 spell.
    Darkness BLND, DARK, INK, SNORTING Decreases target's HIT% by 40 points; increases HIT% against them by 40 points as well. Cured by LAMP or CUR4
    KO BANE, QAKE, RUB, XXXX, ZAP! / CRACK Defeats target.
    Paralysis HOLD, STOP, STUN / DAZZLE, GAZE, TRANCE Prevents target from taking an action, or evading an attack. 25% chance to recover each turn. Cured by CUR4 spell.
    Poison STINGER Target loses 2HP at end of each turn (and 1HP while walking for PC). Cured by PURE or CUR4 spell, or PURE potion.
    Silence MUTE Prevents target from casting spells or using items during turn. Cured by AMUT or CUR4.
    Sleep SLEP, SLP2 Prevents target from taking an action, or evading an attack. Characters with <80 HP automatically wake up, otherwise chance is proportional to max HP. Cured by CUR4 spell.
    Stone BRAK / GLANCE, POISON (stone) Turns target to stone (removed from combat, unable to be healed) until status is removed by SOFT spell or potion.


    The Randomizer

    With the refresher out of the way, let's focus on what you don't know yet.

    How do you breathe life into an old game that people have moved on from? How can you make the classics feel fresh again? Speedrunning has been the main answer to that question, especially in the last two decades. But over the last several years the popularity of randomizers has skyrocketed, thanks at least partially to their exposure in events like Games Done Quick.

    Randomizers are made when talented and creative engineers dive into a game's code and find ways to shuffle things around while still maintaining the core experience. The result is half scavenger hunt, half speedrun, and an adrenaline-pumping gameplay experience that rewards intimate knowledge of a game's structure and mechanics. Most are simply contained within a single game but, as the video above demonstrates, they can even be so ambitious as to span two wildly different ones.

    One of my favorite discussions on the subject of randomizers comes from the developers' panel of the 2019 Awesome Games Done Quick, and is worth the listen if you've got an hour to spare. But if you're just here to learn what you need for this randomizer and not a philosophical treatise on all randomizers (which I must say is totally understandable), then let's move on.

    What you'll need:

  • An emulator (like BizHawk or FCEUX)
  • A ROM (NES version)
  • The Randomizer
  • A tracker/timer
  • (Optional) A USB controller
  • Emulators are a dime a dozen these days, but for speedrunning posterity and validity you'll want to stick with one of the approved downloads. Both emulators listed above work great, so feel free to go with whichever one looks best to you.

    Of course, you'll also need a ROM of the original Final Fantasy (NES) game. I can't help you there, but I have to imagine if you're deep enough in nerd culture to end up here you can probably manage to find one yourself. Keep a backup copy of this stored safely elsehwere in case something happens.

    The Randomizer is where you upload your ROM to have its guts scrambled. The current version is located here. To use it, navigate to the Randomize tab, upload your ROM file, choose your flagset (and perhaps hit "New" to shuffle your seed to a random one), and then click the blue Randomize button to have a new, randomized ROM downloaded. You'll plug that into your emulator to play the randomizer, and you'll need to do this process every time you play a new seed or flagset.

    Regardless of whether you intend to race in tournaments, timers and trackers are great to help you keep tabs on how far you are and how you're progressing iteration after iteration. I've linked a few down in the Trackers section of the guide, but for beginners I would strongly advise using the hybrid tracker and timer created by a tiny faerie (click that one that says "Everything, Everywhere"). It has been immensely helpful to me (I still use it for basically all my runs) and will assist you in memorizing key NPCs and locations.

    You may also choose to use the Auto-tracker created by jat2980 linked in that section. I would personally recommend against beginners using an auto-tracker - pedagogically speaking, I believe that doing things by hand will help you learn things much faster. But don't let me stop you if you really like it!

    Finally, you may also consider purchasing a USB controller to make your life a bit easier. It's not required (and how nice, that this hobby has such a low monetary barrier to entry!), but can make some of the more technical bits of the randomizer (like resets, which I'll touch on) feel more natural. Plus, it just feels nice to have a classic controller in your hands, doesn't it?

    In addition to all of those, let's review four important randomizer terms:

  • The Flagset describes the cumulative selection of flags for a given Randomizer run.

  • The Seed refers to the specific set of randomized variables within a flagset (i.e., in this seed the King gave me a SHIP, but in that seed he gave me a CANOE). Any flagset can have a near limitless number of possible seeds.

  • Sanity Check is the phrase used to describe a built-in feature of the FF Randomizer that prevents you from getting stuck due to randomization. For instance, in normal flagsets you won't find the OXYALE in the Sea Shrine.

  • Incentivization refers to how the game's flags control what items have high priority and where they might appear. It means you can decide whether a key item like the FLOATER will be guaranteed to show up with one of the key NPCs, or whether it might end up in a random chest anywhere in the game world.
  • Important Flags

    DISCLAIMER: The developers for the Final Fantasy Randomizer move fast, and so some of these images/terms may be outdated. I will do my best to keep things basic and/or updated, but if you ever have a question about a discrepancy, ask in the Discord!

    Now that we know some of the basics of the randomizer, let's talk about the most important part: randomization itself.

    There is a massive amount of control in how you can actually randomize the game. How hard do you want the enemies to be? How much experience should they give? Do you want additional docks and pathways? Would you like to shuffle all town and dungeon entrances, turning a normally straightforward adventure into a topsy-turvy mess best solved by pen and paper? What if we get rid of the four-orb requirement and hunt down shards instead? The possibilities are nigh endless, and range from simple to skull-bashingly difficult (like Unleashing WarMECH in random overworld encounters.)

    With dozens of flags to look at and learn, it can be difficult for a beginner to get their bearings. So let's start simple.

    Click here to access a "Beginner" flagset designed especially for you, and which we can review together.

    In the past, I did a more thorough breakdown of the most important flags. Thankfully, since this site's launch in 2019, the developers have added highly detailed tooltips (the little question mark box) for every flag. And since the task of constantly updating this site with those corrected flags is a bit too much for me, we'll instead take a look at some broader concepts represented within the flags.

    Incentivization, Loose Items & Dud Locations

    To begin, let's talk a bit about what Incentivized Items and Locations mean in the context of the FF Randomizer - because they form one of the core experiences.

    Perhaps the primary focus of randomization, especially in beginner flagsets, are the key items and characters you talk to throughout the game: if Bikke the Pirate gives you a Canoe instead of a Ship, it changes how you approach the game. Do this a dozen times over, and you've got one interesting route to contend with.

    Separately, all items in the game can be shuffled as well. So to make sure that you don't have to open every single chest in the game aimlessly, hoping for important items (unless, of course, you want to), you can create an Incentive Pool to set aside certain items.

    As we see below, in our Beginner flagset (under the Incentives tab) there are 21 items added to the incentivization pool:

  • Main Progression Items (LUTE, KEY, ROD, OXYALE, CHIME, and CUBE)
  • Other Quest Items (CROWN, CRYSTAL, HERB, TNT, RUBY, BOTTLE, SLAB, and ADAMANT)
  • Floater
  • Canoe
  • Ship & Canal
  • Tail
  • Masamune
  • Ribbon
  • Once these incentivized items are picked, they'll be distributed to incentivized locations. These can either be NPCs or specific chests in dungeons and castles. In the Beginner flagset, that corresponds to the following 21 locations:

  • Main NPCs (King, Princess, Bikke, Sarda, Sages, Caravan Merchant, Robot)
  • Fetch Quest NPCs (Astos, Matoya, Elf Prince, the Dwarves, the Lefeinish, and the Fairy)
  • Ice Cave
  • Ordeals
  • Marsh Cave
  • Earth Cave
  • Sea Shrine
  • Sky Palace
  • Coneria (locked)
  • 21 locations - 21 items = 0 surplus or "loose" items

    As you can see, there are exactly the same number of locations and items. This means that every incentivized item is guaranteed to be at one of the locations, and every location will have an incentive item. Obviously, some will be more important than others: you have to have the KEY and the LUTE to beat the game, but not necessarily the TAIL. This is a straightforward flagset, and great for beginners.

    But what if you change the calculus? Let's say we removed Ice Cave and Marsh Cave from the locations list. Now we have...

    21 items - 19 locations = 2 surplus or "loose" items

    We have a surplus of two items, which means that two random incentive pool items will be "loose". In other words, two random incentive items will be found in a random chest somewhere throughout the world. They could be anywhere! In a flagset with loose items, you'll be opening a lot of chests until you find the items you need.

    But say we take that original list and now take away the Ribbon and Masamune. Now we have...

    21 locations - 19 items = 2 surplus or "dud" locations

    Once the locations outnumber the items, we know that two random incentive locations will have a random chest item instead, like gold, equipment, or potions. Now, instead of prioritizing opening large numbers of chests, we know that everything we need will be in a known location and so we just have to hope the places we check have the items we need!

    The Randomizer community goes through different moods - sometimes, we prioritize loose items. Others, we want to go fast and have no loose or dud items and locations. It just depends on what you like and what the community is doing!

    Changing the Goal

    Let's now move on to the "Goal" tab. Once running through the endless corridors of the Temple of Fiends Revisited (ToFR) has gotten boring to you, you can mix things up a bit. While we won't be doing any of these in the Beginner flagset, they're very popular flags and worth knowing!

    First, we start with Alternate Final Boss. Instead of facing Chaos, you will face one of the following four enemy formations:

  • Kary2 and Tiamat2 (Double Dragons)
  • 2 x Lich2 and 4 x Phantoms (FunDead)
  • 2 x WarMECH and 6 x Evilmen
  • Chaos and 8 x Garland
  • Depending on the flags and seed, these can be a comparative breeze or an absolute knockout punch. Definitely not for the faint of heart!

    Additionally, one of the most popular ways to make FFR even quicker is to turn on the Shorten ToFR flag, which places you directly in the final room. From there, you have the option to skip the fiend refights entirely (default), or fight 2-4 of them.

    When just Include Fiend Tiles is turned on, you'll be faced with a decision to go right or left, and you'll fight a random pair of the revisited fiends at the following locations before heading to Chaos:

    If, instead, you also turn on Refight All Fiends, you'll encounter all four revisited fiends in order no matter which side you pick:

    Alternately, if you want to change up the way in which the games puts you in "Go Mode," you could choose to turn on Treasure Hunt which requires you to find 16-36 "shards" (they'll be named something different in each seed) in random treasure chests and from killing fiends (2 each for Lich and Kary, 4 each for Kraken and Tiamat).

    It's a fun spin on the usual flagset, and worth a try once you've got your feet under you.

    Changing the Map

    In addition to changing the game's end goal, you can also change how the standard oberworld map operates. There are a number of flags under the "Maps" tab, but let's take a look at three important headers:

    Progression will allow you to make getting around the map significantly easier, especially in the early game. Since these flags have tooltips with images, I'd highly recommend checking those out first. But a basic rundown: Early and Extended Open Progression will allow you to navigate the inner continent with and without a CANOE, respectively. Northern Docks lets you get to Onrac, Waterfall, Caravan, and Mirage Tower/Sky Palace without the FLOATER. And Ryukahn Desert Dock means you can get to the AIRSHIP without a Canoe (but you'll still need the SHIP and CANAL).

    You can also toggle the ability to collect some incentive locations earlier. These are almost always turned on, unless a specific flagset creator is trying to be a bit of a troll. You can visit the KING before killing GARLAND, SARDA before beating the VAMPIRE, the SAGES before killing LICH, and head to ORDEALS before getting the CROWN.

    Isolated Map Edits provide a few important changes as well. First and foremost, Castle Ordeals Pillars, Titan's Trove, and Lefeinish Hospitality are almost always turned on, so be sure to read over their tooltips as well. But Zozo Melmond and Confused Old Men are more for silly additions than serious randomizer changes.

    Finally, Entrance Shuffle allows you to really ramp up a seed's difficulty by shuffling any number of entrances, from just Towns to all Entrances on the Overworld map. From there, you can customize just how shuffled all of the entrances are, and how difficult it may be to find things like towns or ToFR within the shuffled locations.

    I would highly recommend that you avoid these flags as a total beginner, but depending on your penchant for suffering you may wish to try these out. I personally don't enjoy entrance and floor shuffle flags but there are a large number of runners who completely disagree with me!

    Scaling Everything

    In addition to randomizing items and locations, you can also randomize how strong enemies are, how much things will cost, and how fast you gain experience and gold. This is the "Scale" tab of the Randomizer website.

    The scaling is, in its present state, fairly self-explanatory. For any given stat, set the minimum bound with the left slider and the maximum bound with the right slider. You can separate out enemies and bosses, and even separate their HP in the current iteration of the website.

    In addition, the EXP scaling and Encounter Rate sliders will help you determine how quickly the game moves. Flags with higher XP scaling (a relative term, but anything 2.5x and above can potentially qualify) will favor Black Belts, while higher encounter rates might encourage you to bring a Thief along for the ride. Some of my favorite flagsets put the Overworld and Dungeon Encounter Rates at 0.0x and force you to gain levels on shuffled spike tiles!

    It's OK if you don't have a strong sense of scale to start - feel free to let other people create the flags for you and, if you make your own, stick to a max 200% scaler when just starting out. But maybe you'll also discover that the really masochistic stuff (say, 350% and up) is what you really like - it's the challenge that drives you, not going fast. And that's fine, too!

    Blursed Weapons & Armor

    On the newer side of things, "Blursed" weapons and armor (located in the "Scale" tab) have become a mainstay of even low-level randomizer runs. A portmanteau of "blessed" and "cursed," when the box is checked Blursed weapons and armor come with a + or - modifier within the game.

    Each point of blessing (+) or curse (-) up to the maximum (generally speaking, we stay between -5 and +5) does the following:

  • Weapons: Increases/decreases DAMAGE by 2 points, HITS by 3 (a maximum of 50%), and CRIT by 3. Values cannot go below 0 for hit, and 1 for crit and damage.
  • Armor: Increases/decreases ABSORB by 1 point (2 for body armor) and decreases/increases WEIGHT PENALTY by 1 (2 for body armor).

    In addition, the Masamune can be excluded from the flagset to make it possibly less overpowered. Blursed classes also exist but are used less frequently and explained quite well on the randomizer page. This flag rewards player knowledge of general stats, but also provides the opportunity for some wacky fun, like a Vorpal+5 that absolutely tears through enemies.

    More than mere weapons and armor, though, Classes can also be Blursed (found, appropriately, under the "Classes" tab). Using the scaling slider, you can choose from a certain number of Bonuses and Maluses for each class, which will be viewable on the party select screen when starting a game.

    These can range from adding or removing the ability to use certain items (such as, in an extremely bad case, removing the ability to equip bracelets from a White Mage), to changing certain stats (like giving a Black Belt +30 base HP). This is where knowing your Statistics can really come in handy.

  • A Final Note on Tristate Flags

    If you cycle through a flag and go from the green check mark to an orange-red question mark, you've made the flag Tristate. This simply means that you don't know whether or not that flag is on until you get in the game. For instance, if you Tristate Early Sarda Item, you won't know until you talk to Sarda whether it's required for you to kill Vampire or not before getting his item. It's a fun veteran thing to do, but hold off for now as a beginner.

    Basic Routing

    Now that you've had a chance to peruse some of the more important beginner flags, let's tackle the next big part of the Randomizer: figuring out where to go, and how to get there. Remember, your ultimate goal (at least in the beginner seeds) is to claim the four orbs and take down Chaos.

    Remember that earlier, we said there are two key questions the Randomizer forces us to ask ourselves at any given point:

  • Which goal(s) can I accomplish with what I currently have?
  • (Optional) Of those goals, which should I do first?
  • Keep these in mind as we move forward, and whenever you play. If it helps, for your very first game you may even consider writing this on pen and paper and scribbling in notes whenever you get momentarily stuck. If you don't have the game's overall structure solidly committed to memory yet, I'd recommend you review the Structure section again.

    Because now, we're going to talk about mental structure - or, how to think about your path through an average randomizer seed.

    Starting Out in Coneria, Braving Pravoka

    For beginner flagsets (and even most intermediate ones, up until entrance shuffle), the beginning of the game is going to look pretty much exactly the same.


  • Get spells in Coneria
  • Kill Garland
  • Talk to the Princess and King
  • Head to Pravoka
  • Kill the Pirates and talk to Bikke
  • Get more spells

  • Obviously, there are a few considerations here: did you get the Floater right away, and is it accessible? Did you get the CRYSTAL, making Matoya a smart intermediary stop?

    Regardless, by and large the first few minutes of your randomizer experience will feel a lot like deja vu, with just a few variables tweaked each time.

    Canoe, Ship, and Airship

    With Pravoka out of the way, our main consideration is how we get around the world map.

    More likely than not, by the time you're out of Pravoka you should already have the ship (again, with things like Open Progression and Extended Open Progression on, this may change). And while the ship is great - it gives us access to Elfland, Marsh, NW Castle, and Dwarves with absolutely no other flags turned on - it doesn't solve all of our problems. We need the Canal to get out of the inland sea, we need the Canoe to get to a number of places which are likely incentivized (think Volcano, Ordeals, Ice Cave), and the Airship will speed up our progress tenfold and give us access to those last few areas (like Gaia, Lefein, and Cardia).

    Of course, this is all a means to an end: transportation doesn't win us the game. Once we get the Canal and start heading out of the inland sea, we now need to start identifying where to go next as informed by our available transportation.

    Incentivized Items & Locations

    In a standard flagset, it's likely that you'll have between two and five incentivized locations outside of the normal quest turn-ins. So where are you supposed to go next?

    This is where the decisions really become important. Remember, we always want to be thinking:

  • Which goal(s) can I accomplish with what I currently have?
  • (Optional) Of those goals, which should I do first?
  • Since we're already thinking about what we can access with the transportation at hand, we should have narrowed down the full field of possible incentivized items and locations to just a few places. Once you've gotten that far, there are a few things that can help you decide what to do next:

  • Proximity
  • If I've just left the dock at Elfland and my next turn-ins are either the CRYSTAL or the RUBY, the decision is pretty easy: I should do the CRYSTAL first since it's closer, then I can head over to Melmond and do the RUBY. Sometimes, it's really just that easy - what's the closest thing available to me, and what's the next closest thing? With two points we have a line (or, really, a route) and can start making decisions based off of that. If I give the CRYSTAL to Matoya and she gives me the TNT, I can just add another stop to my route without much hassle.

    This will, of course, occasionally backfire. But that's the nature of randomness - sometimes the best play won't have the best outcome.

  • Multiple turn-ins in one location/area
  • Another thing to consider: how many turn-ins can I do as close together as possible? When I have the RUBY, I may also have Sarda to visit nearby. Similarly, if I've got both the TNT and the ADAMANT, going to Dwarf Cave is a no-brainer. This gets a bit trickier with less obvious turn-ins and routing, though.

    For instance: once I've got the Canoe and the Ship, should I visit Waterfall early in the hopes of getting a good item, or should I wait until I have the Oxyale and can also go for Kraken? It's a long trip there and back without the Airship, so both transportation and whether or not Sea Shrine is incentivized can certainly play into your decision.

  • Appropriate level
  • If Sky is incentivized but I'm level 8, it's probably not a good idea to go there. Sometimes places like Ice Cave or even Earth Cave can waste a ton of time in a run if you keep bashing your head against the wall trying to get a low level party through some tough enemies (and, indeed, sometimes it won't be about the level you're at, but what enemies are present in the dungeon).

    This is also why, as we'll read in a bit, Volcano is frequently a great early play. It doesn't require too high a level, it has a ton of chests for loose item hunting or just gathering stray weapons and armor, and it might even be incentivized.

    But, again, sometimes the best play isn't the right play. Be willing to roll with the punches, adjust on the fly, and abandon a location if need be.

    Notes on the Four Elemental Fiends

    Unlike the vanilla game, you will almost certainly not be tackling the Earth Cave and LICH first. Indeed, the Earth Cave can be quite tricky and the few treasures contained within are spread out in obnoxious ways.

    So what if none of the four elemental dungeons (Earth, Volcano, Sea, and Sky) are incentivized? In what order should you approach them, and when should you start?

    You will frequently want to take care of Volcano first. This isn't a hard rule to follow, of course, it's more of a guideline. But Volcano has clear and easy chest routing (with the exception of a couple of chests in the second floor) and a number of good grind locations (notably, the Agama tiles). As such, even if you're not running loose items you can pick up some great items very quickly by doing chest checks in Volcano. It's a solid place to start once you've got the SHIP and CANOE.

    Past that, it's probably good to wait on the Earth Cave until you have ROD, and Mirage/Sky when you have CUBE (or are reasonably sure it's in there, if it's loose). Obviously, you can't get into Sea Shrine without OXYALE and you can't get into Mirage without CHIME. Sea Shrine and Mirage/Sky are pretty straightforward once you're an appropriate level.

    As you may have noticed, these ranges are lower than what I recommended for the base game - this is thanks to the Randomizer's penchant for giving you better spells and equipment earlier on. You'll be looking for these targets to generally be sure that you're not going to have an awful time, but, of course, as you get more experienced and push harder you'll begin to lower these estimates quite a bit.

  • Earth Cave: 10-12
  • Volcano: 13-16
  • Sea Shrine: 17-18
  • Mirage Tower: 19+
  • As an aside on loose items and routing: when you're first starting out, it's unlikely that you'll be playing with loose items - this is good, because it helps make your routing much more clear.

    However, when you do start throwing loose items into the mix, don't fall into the trap of having a turn-in item left waiting in your inventory while you decide to dive on a fiend's dungeon in the hopes that you find a nice treasure within. It can be tempting to follow the vanilla structure and just hit the dungeons when you're more or less on level, but you can frequently waste time better spent on chasing down incentivized items and locations.

    When possible, take care of what you know before gambling on what you don't.

    It is not at all uncommon to see runners having a boat load of key items in tow without a single Orb lit. If the elemental dungeons aren't incentivized, it's frequently best to wait and do them last, or at least much later on.

    Mystic Key Chest Locations

    At some point during your run, you're go to find the Mystic KEY. This item is notable for two reasons. First, you need it to complete TOFR (along with Lute), so it's required in all but a few forms of flags. Second, once you have it you've just opened up a number of locations that were previously inaccessible to you, and which may contain important or even incentivized items.

    Coneria (Locked) and Marsh (Locked) are both incentivized locations that require the Key to gain access. But there are a number of other places that have chests locked behind the Key, and it's worth memorizing these for any loose item seeds and/or general chest checking.

    Of particular note is the one chest in Sea Shrine (TFC, or "That F***ing Chest," seen here at Level 2, Chest 5) which is both easy to miss and a real pain to get to.

    Mystic Key Chest Locations
    Location Number of Chests Description
    Coneria Castle 6 Circle to the right, behind the area where you take the stairs up to the King; the incentivized chest will be in the left room if it's active.
    Dwarf Cave 8 At the bottom of the cave, next to the TNT turn-in.
    Elfland Castle 4 Walk right outside but hugging the walls, and go up. They're inside a locked room.
    Marsh Cave 3 The bottom row of chests on the final floor. From L to R rooms 1, 2, and 4 have chests and 4 would be incentivized if it's active.
    Northwest Castle 3 Loop to the right, up and around Astos's chamber. Beware the spike tiles in front of each chest.
    Sea Shrine 1 "TFC," Level 2, Chest 5. Described above.
    Temple of Fiends 3 The right side, bottom right and upper right rooms.

    Avoiding Trap/Spike Tiles

    There a number of trap or "spike" tiles located in annoying locations throughout the game. These locations, whenever you step on them, spawn a set group of enemies that frequently are unrunnable. Of course, this is shuffleable in the Randomizer but that doesn't change the fact that spike tiles generally mean time loss (with the obvious exception of the important next section).

    Part of the process of memorizing the game's maps includes memorizing the location of spike tiles in dungeons. Places like Volcano, Sea, and Earth can really bog you down if you're not specifically looking out for them. Let's check out an example:

    In the above image, taken from the southwest corner of Earth 4, I've drawn out a map. The stars are spike tiles and the arrows point out a safe route by which you can collect the chests without triggering any of them.

    It takes some time to get used to the routing nuances, but it can frequently be the difference of minutes in your run. For your first few experiences, consider having open a resource like Mike's RPG Center or Aelmarkin's Trap/Spike Tile Reference which give you detailed layouts of the chests and spike tiles for each dungeon.

    But, of course, sometimes you'll want to step on a spike tile...

    Grind Spots

    One of the many routing decisions you'll make during any given run is whether you want to grind experience out or not. And, once you've made that decision, you've got to decide where to go and how long to stay.

    Generally speaking, anything at 3.0x or more will not require a grind. Similarly, anything at 2.0x with a Fighter at the head of your party can probably utilize a walk-and-fight strategy. However, if you've got a Black Belt (while really starts getting good above level 30) or are feeling low on levels and/or armor, stopping for a quick grind might be beneficial.

    There are a number of places to grind in the game but, assuming you've not shuffled trap/spike tiles , I'm going to recommend three main ones to get you started. For a larger breakdown of more grind spots and generally high-yield enemies to search for (which can be especially helpful in making decisions if these spike tiles are shuffled), I'll once again recommend that you peruse MoMo's Mega Mogwai Power Guide.

    Volcano: Agamas

    On the 4th floor of Volcano, towards the end of the winding hall with a lot of chest rooms, there's a room with two chest and two spike tiles (pictured here as chests 21 and 22). You can step back and forth on these tiles to spawn an Agama, which is worth a base 2400 XP. This is a reall popular spot for Black Belts especially, where you use the lava to help kill your other party members, then get the Black Belt to a point where it can one shot the Agamas and, eventually, Kary herself.


    Ice Cave: Eye

    Just before picking up the FLOATER in Ice Cave (assuming you've done it the more traditional way instead of utilizing the WARP trick) you'll fight a Boss known as Eye. This guy is pretty harmless and gives a base 3200 XP, and usually by the time you're in Ice Cave you can handle a few rounds with it without much of an issue, giving you some perhaps much needed level boosts.


    Marsh Cave: Wizards

    Much earlier on than the other two, you might dive Marsh run into the Wizards at the incentivized location in the final floor (not the one hidden behind the KEY, just the regular one). This can be a bit of a gamble, but if you've got a powerful early-level spell with multi-target capabilities, you might just be able to make quick work of these Wizards and get yourself some very helpful early levels.


    Basic Strategy

    Now that we've talked about the importance of Routing and making decisions based on the map and available items, let's look at some of the other strategic choices you'll be making during your Randomizer runs.

    Party Composition

    There a number of things to consider when you're building your party from scratch. But at the end of the day, it comes down to a mental calculation of how much tolerance you have for risk. The three compositions below are great places to start for your early Randomizer runs, as they're proven to be effective and have a number of answers for virtually any situation the Randomizer throws at you.

    Let's review:

             

    As far as I'm concerned, Fighter Rainbow (so named because of the Fighter and tri-colored mage selection: red, black, white) is the bread and butter of randomizer runs. As we mentioned earlier, you're going to be relying heavily on early offensive and supportive spells; by giving yourself a veritable rainbow of mages you're maximizing the chances that one or more of your party members are going to be doing something extremely important every single turn. Since the Red Mage can learn every black mage spell through Elfland, chances are very high that you'll find an early-game crowd clear spell and get to mages capable of using it.

    It also provides some insurance against bad white magic selections. Since the Red Mage can only learn about half of the early game white magic spells, having a Rainbow makes sure that someone can learn *every spell* in the game at some point. More advanced runners will consider running a more aggressive, less assured composition of two Red Mages, bypassing White and Black entirely.

    In the late game, though, your Fighter really shines. Pick up TMPR and FAST, get a halfway decent sword, and the Temple of Fiends Revisited becomes a lot more manageable. You can clear out early annoying enemies with your Rainbow Mages, then take out the revisited bosses with a hard-hitting sowrd. Masamune especially can put through massive amounts of hurt without much in the way of support.

             

    For an alternative spin, try Black Belt Rainbow.

    If you've never gotten a Black Belt to a really high level (read, 32+), you might not understand why it can be such a powerful member of your party. True, the Black Belt starts off a bit slower and can't wear as much armor. But at high levels, the Black Belt gets natural near-Ribbon immunity to enemy skills and it begins to hit like an absolute truck, no weapon required. The trick is finding a good grind tile (the dual Agama tiles in Volcano are favorite spots for this), killing off the rest of your party, then getting your Black Belt to around 32 for maximum punishment.

    The decision to take Black Belt or Fighter comes down to personal preference. Veteran runners will likely tell you that they're weighing a couple of things when they choose between Figher and Black Belt.

  • What is EXP like? Anything less than 200% and the Black Belt might struggle to gain the huge number of levels it needs to be a real end-game threat.
  • Are spike tiles shuffled? If so, you might get unlucky and not find a suitable grind for your Black Belt when you need it.
  • Are there any loose items? If yes, you're going to be digging around in chests anyway so you'll likely find enough gear for your Fighter to be viable. If no, you can skip chest-checking in a big way by bringing a Black Belt.
  • My advice: try both. Black Belt can make for a really fast TOFR if you've done a good grind (and it's fun to put 1000+ damage on the revisited fiends), but the Fighter often provides a more secure option.

             

    Once you get a few runs under your belt (or if you're feeling a bit more adventurous), try throwing a Thief into the mix. They've been fixed from the original game, so they offer both excellent chance to run and a decent hit rate. They're not particularly tanky, but they're useful to learn - especially as you get into more advanced flagsets and forced party comp scenarios.

    We take a Red Mage here in the hopes that the early black magic spells will be sufficiently good to make the unavailability of late-game black magic a non-issue. Having even halfway decent early black magic can make having the extra healing or life spells massively helpful to you, especially when you're running a slightly riskier combo.

    Of course, you could also sub out the Fighter for a Black Belt with the same reasoning we've described above. And if you get really adventurous, you could even try dropping your White Mage in favor of a Red Mage as well. It could bomb, or it could pay off in spades.

    Spells Made Simple

    Any given run of the Randomizer could see you relying on different spells, depending on which flags are turned on and what your seed gives you. Therefore, it's important to become familiar with the peculiarities of FF1's Vancian Magic system, as we discussed earlier.

    The single most important early-game tool in your arsenal will be multi-target offensive Black Magic spells, like LIT2, LIT3, FIR2, FIR3, ICE2, ICE3, and NUKE. Similarly, KO spells like QAKE and White Magic's FADE, HARM, HRM2, and HRM3 can be useful in a pinch. Indeed, your very first stop in this game will almost always be the Black Magic shop in Coneria. It's that important.

    Past that, you're looking for party healing and protection from White Magic: CURE, CUR2, CUR3, and CUR4 for single-target healing, and HEAL, HEL2, and HEL3 for full party healing. If you see LIFE, LIF2, FOG2, or INV2 early on, you'll absolutely want to grab them. Remember that you can heal out of battle with HEAL potions, but the only way to revive someone outside of town is with LIFE or LIF2.

    Of course, this is a Randomizer, so your favorite spells won't be where you remember them, and you'll often need to do the best with what you have in front of you. Let's say you roll up to the Coneria White Magic shop and are greeted with the following spells:

  • AMUT
  • LAMP
  • ALIT
  • HRM3
  • So we've got three less-than-useful spells, and HRM3. No healing spells in Coneria can be tough, but that HRM3 will be useful in some of the early dungeons (like Earth and Marsh) if we decide to tackle them. Similarly, maybe there's no multi-target black magic available except BANE or QAKE when you check the Coneria shop - well, the beginning of your run just got a bit more interesting. A key part of the randomizer is learning to make decisions about which spells you do need, and which spells you don't.

    Spell Selection

    Let's look at one of the flags highlighted in the previous section as an example. The most common beginner version of spell shuffle, Magic Levels, shuffles each spell's level. LIF2 could now be level 1, and CURE could now be level 8. Shops, however, will still sell spells of the same level - so Coneria will only sell level 1 spells at level 1 prices, even if that now includes a potent LIF2 spell. It is entirely possible for you to encounter the best version of a spell (CUR4, for instance) before its lesser iterations.

    This, in effect, leads to lots of little decisions. If you get CUR4 in Coneria, do you need to spend money on CURE in Pravoka? If you're low on funds, maybe not. But if instead of CURE it's CUR3, that might still be very helpful. Further, if you get both CUR4 and FADE at level 1 in Coneria then those same spell slots are now pulling double duty for both offensive and healing magic, so your need for another CURE-family spell is increased and a CURE or CUR3 in Pravoka is very appealing.

    It also forces you to pay attention to what spells you've gotten at what levels. NUKE at level 7 for a metric boatload of money is enticing, but do you need it? If you have spells like FIR3 or LIT3 at low levels, maybe not. But if you got some bad RNG and don't have many charges of high-impact multi-target spells, even a single charge of NUKE could be the difference between a wipe and a successful TOFR run (and this is doubly true for important white magic spells like LIF2 or WALL).

    Late Game Spells

    In addition to the general-purpose spells listed above, there are a handful of obvious and less-than-obvious spells you will want to have for your final push into the Temple of Fiends Revisited, and that you should prioritize above everything else as you scour the magic shops. They're reviewed below.

    Important Late-Game Spells
    Spell Type Level Description
    CUR3 White Lv. 5 Heals ONE ALLY 66-132 HP
    CUR4 White Lv. 7 Fully restore HP of ONE ALLY, plus remove status ailments (except Stone and KO)
    HEL2 White Lv. 5 Heals ALL ALLIES 24-48 HP
    HEL3 White Lv. 7 Heals ALL ALLIES 44-96 HP
    LIFE White Lv. 5 Revives one ally to 1 HP, out of combat only
    LIF2 White Lv. 8 Revives one ally to FULL HEALTH, out of combat only
    INV2 White Lv. 6 Increase Evasion of ALL ALLIES by 40 points (stackable)
    FOG2 White Lv. 6 Increase Absorb of ALL ALLIES by 12 points (stackable)
    EXIT White Lv. 6 Transports party fully out of dungeon
    WALL White Lv. 8 Gives ONE ALLY resistance to all elements (basically, a Ribbon)
    TMPR Black Lv. 2 Increases one ally's damage per hit by 14 points (fixed in Randomizer)
    LOK2 Black Lv. 3 Decreases all enemies' evade by 20 points (fixed in Randomizer)
    FAST Black Lv. 4 Doubles one ally's number of hits per round (does not stack, unless SLOW'd)
    FIR3 Black Lv. 5 Deals 100-200 Fire damage to ALL ENEMIES)
    LIT3 Black Lv. 6 Deals 120-240 Lightning damage to ALL ENEMIES
    ICE3 Black Lv. 7 Deals 140-280 Cold damage to ALL ENEMIES
    NUKE Black Lv. 8 Deals 200-400 non-elemental damage to ALL ENEMIES

    Spell Permissions

    As we discussed above, shuffling Magic Levels will put spells in random places by shuffling their respective levels but not anything about the shops that sell them.

    However, one major component of spells isn't shuffled in Magic Levels - their class restrictions. Class restrictions (or "permissions") are actually tied to their location in a given shop (1st slot, 2nd slot, etc.), not the spell itself. Exit, for instance, is restricted from White Mages before promotion because its native location, the 2nd spot in Crescent Lake's White Magic shop, says so. But if Exit moves to a shop and position that allows White Mages to buy it (any spot in Coneria, say) then suddenly it's a non-issue. But whichever White Magic spell moves to the 2nd spot in Crescent Lake is now restricted from White Mages before promotion, regardless of what it is.

    Therefore, it's important to review the Spell Permissions chart, not just if you're running a Red Mage and need to know what spells they can use, but also to memorize the random shop slots that Black and White Mages can't utilize until promotion (notably, the 2nd spell in Crescent Lake for WM, and the 3rd spell in Melmond for BM - they always surprise me). This is also why it's best to hold off on playing Red Mages for your first couple of attempts, or at least until you feel comfortable with those tables.

    Important Weapons & Armor

    As you progress through the game and get ready for the Temple of Fiends Revisited, there are some key weapons and armor that you'll want to prioritize. Some of them are obvious, while others may not be. In this section I'll review just a small number of these key items and talk about why you may find them useful. Numbers are from the incredible Game Corner Guides reference page.

    It should go without saying that the general flow of armor quality is:

    Opal > Gold > Silver > Iron > Copper > Wood

    ...so I will not be including Opal items in the end-game armor table. Just assume they're great, and essentially for Knights only (except for Opal Bracelets).

    Important Late-Game Weapons
    Name Damage Notes
    Masamune 56 All classes. Best weapon in the game.
    Xcalber 45 Knight only. Second best weapon in the game.
    Katana 33 Ninja only.
    Defense 30 Kn, Ni, RW. A more than passable end-game sword which casts RUSE when used like an item.
    Ice Sword 29 Fi, RM, Kn, Ni, RW. In my opinion, the absolute minimum you should want going into ToFR (heavily augmented, of course, by TMPR and FAST).
    Vorpal 24 Kn, Ni, RW. Much higher than expected crit rate despite a less-than-stellar attack, can be useful for fiends in a pinch.

    Important Late-Game Armor
    Name Absorb Evade% Notes
    Ribbon 1 -1 All classes. Grants resistance to all elements, all but required to have at least one for end-game.
    ProRing 8 -1 All classes. Grants resistance to Death, best glove in game.
    Aegis Shield 16 N/A Kn. Grants resistance to Poison (like BANE).
    White Shirt 24 -2 WW. Grants resistance to Death & Fire, casts INV2 on use as item. Super helpful.
    Dragon Armor 42 -10 Kn. Same stats as Opel Armor, but grants also grants resistance to Cold & Fire.
    Power Gauntlet 6 -3 Fi, Kn, Ni, RW. Casts SABR on use, so put it on your heavy hitter (equipped or not) and use alongside TMPR and FAST.

    So why, you might ask, are these in the "Basic Strategy" section?

    Something to consider: when there are no loose items in a seed, you're less likely to check chests. This is natural, and makes sense. But you should be looking for one of the high-power swords (if you're using Thief or Knight, less so if you're using Black Belt), and at least one Ribbon plus other defensive goodies before you ever hit TOFR. Otherwise, you're probably going to have a bad time.

    Picking out locations that are chest-rich (Mermaids, Volcano, Sky, for instance) and including chest checks in your run even for flags without loose items is a vital part of Randomizer strategy.

    Soft & Hard Resets

    Whether or not you use a controller, it's good to have a key shortcut set both for soft reset and hard reset (full power off and on).

    You'll use soft reset 100x more than hard reset. Whenever you need to reset out of a dungeon or encounter, or you simply reset after saving at an inn, you'll likely just be using a soft reset.

    The reasoning for this is...complicated. Essentially, there is a table of values (which in basically all flagsets is indeed shuffled from the vanilla version with the "RNG Table" flag) that the game checks each time you take a step in a dungeon or on the overworld. If the table value is less than a specified threshold for that area, you have a random encounter. This table remains static throughout the game, and your location on the table is only reset if you do a hard reset. A soft reset keeps you where you are, meaning if you reset out of an encounter you don't like, you're in effect skipping that encounter on the table.

    This can be gamed by astute players - mostly veterans, if we're being real - who notice that they only have X number of encounters in their first 100 steps (just throwing that number out there), and so decide that they'll do a hard reset to go back to the beginning of the encounter table every so often.

    What do you need to know as a beginner? At this point, just focus on soft resets, i.e. getting used to the quick reset out of dungeons or encounters, and after saves. Everything else can wait.

    Trackers

    There are obviously a large number of things for you to keep track of during any given randomizer run. Some runners are completely capable of holding this information entirely in their head while others, like myself, require the use of trackers and/or note sheets to keep things in order.

    If you, too, are in the latter camp, here are a few resources you might find helpful.

  • jat2980 and DarkmoonEX's Auto-Tracker with EmoTracker
  • seelie fae's Tracker
  • bdjeffyp's Tracker
  • Floor/Entrance Shuffle Tracker
  • On Roadblocks

    Inevitably, you will hit a roadblock.

    At some point, you will look at your items and locations and say: "Huh, I have absolutely no idea what to do next." It even happens to veterans. I recently mistook Pravoka for Lefein on a town shuffle seed and spent nearly an hour trying to figure out what the heck I had missed. It happens!

    If you do find yourself getting stuck, here are a few things to think over and check off before you call it quits:

  • Are there any quest turn-ins I haven't done?

  • It might seem silly, but even if you're using one of the trackers I've recommended it can be incredibly easy to forget that you never actually turned in that Crystal. Or maybe you "used" the Bottle before going to Gaia, but forgot to make note of that, and now the Fairy is patiently waiting for you while you have no sign of it in your inventory.

    I've recommended above that you should basically always prioritize turn-ins over random treasure hunts, so this is one of the most important things to double check.

  • Are there any free items I missed?

  • Sarda. Bikke the Pirate. The Crescent Lake Sages. The King, and the Princess. The Waterfall Robot. The Shop Item. There are a number of items that you just need to show up for in the beginner flagsets, and you might have forgotten one of them. Maybe you had to bypass Garland the first time, and forgot to get the Princess on your return journey. Similarly, it can be easy to forget Sarda when you first get the Airship but don't have the Ruby yet.

    I'd like to put special attention on the Shop Item - maybe you got to Elfland but didn't check the shop since you had all the HEALs and PUREs you needed. Double check! That shop item can frequently be a huge one.

  • Are there any Incentivized Locations I've forgotten?

  • Pull up the flagset and double check. Was a location like Ice Cave checked? What about Ordeals? Maybe the answer is as simple as forgetting a singular location and needing to make a quick run there.

  • Are there any loose items in the flagset?

  • Alternatively - did you forget or misjudge the number of loose items? Maybe the Canoe/Floater you need is hidden away in an early dungeon that's not incentivized (like Marsh - it's always Marsh). This can be a frustrating and painful experience, but sometimes the way forward in a seed is to go back and retrace your steps. Which chests did you open, and which did you miss? Philes & Edgeworth made a great list of all the chest locations for your perusal.

    One thing to consider: have you recently gotten the Mystic Key? If so, don't forget all the possible chests that have opened up because of that.

    Check through those, and if you're still stuck consider stopping by the Discord with the flagset and seed in hand. There's usually someone who will be interested in helping you figure out what went wrong! And remember: it's natural as part of the Randomizer to have setbacks like this. Don't let it get to you.

    Streaming on Twitch

    While streaming your Randomizer runs is not required per se, if you want to begin competing in any sort of official race then you'll need video documentation of your run. Whether you stream for yourself or an audience, therefore, is totally up to you. In this section, I'll go over a few basic things to get you started with a minimalist stream set-up that will satisfy race requirements.

    Fortunately, streaming is easier than ever. To stream in any given randomizer tournament, you only need two things: a streaming platform, and a timer. Your stream can be minimalist, like my friend Syraniss:

    Notice that the game window is the vast majority of the screen, followed by the timer from a tiny faerie's tracker (not all runners utilize a tracker, many just use timers) and the entrance/floor shuffle tracker linked in Study Material. Nice and simple, all you need!

    Or, you can get a bit more fancy with your layout, like I did (made entirely in MS Paint and PowerPoint!):

    As you can see, neither Syraniss nor myself use a face cam when streaming. I frequently don't even use a mic. If you're looking primarily to race, neither is particularly necessary. If you want to create a larger community, you should invest at least in a mic to go along with your streaming, and a webcam if you can.

    Software

    This is not an exhaustive list, but rather represents my personal recommendations for getting to the bare minimum of streaming viability. There are a ton of great programs and add-ons out there for you, so if you're interested in a more robust streaming set-up then a bit of detective work (read: Googling) will net you a ton of good stuff.

    Streamlabs OBS

    Streamlabs OBS (otherwise known as SLOBS) is the more beginner-friendly version of Open Broadcast Software (OBS). It automates a channel moderation bot, notifications, and more while keeping a sleek interface. I'm a big fan of it, and use it exclusively. It takes some time to set up, but there are lots of great tutorials out there, including this one:

    I highly recommend that you spend time setting this up and fiddling around with it before streaming. At the bare minimum, you'll need a Game Capture window to broadcast your emulator, but in all likelihood you'll also want a Browser/Window Capture to get your tracker or timer on screen as well.

    LiveSplit

    I've recommended a tiny faerie's tracker heavily thus far, and for good reason. But I think it's also extremely helpful to download the speedrunning-oriented LiveSplit software for tournament play. Normally, LiveSplit is used primarily to track not just overall time, but splits, or specific segments in speedrunners' runs. As a randomizer runner, splits are a bit trickier - is it worthwhile to track when I beat each fiend, or key items? What happens if they're in a different order, or if I'm running treasure hunt?

    Here's an example of how the basic LiveSplit timer looks on my stream. You can see that I do it without splits since that's not really relevant to what we're doing.

    There are two main reasons I would recommend using LiveSplit for tournament play, however. First, the universal key to start and stop the timer will make sure that you have an accurate time, regardless of how many other windows you have open. I assigned mine to the "\" key, so that I can quickly tap that button to start or stop my timer regardless of what else I'm doing. It's incredibly helpful.

    Second, LiveSplit can sync up with SpeedRunsLive races, which at one point was the official platform for FFR tournament streams. We now use racetime.gg which also has LiveSplit integration - but it seems to be a bit more fiddly.

    Free Stream Templates

    As a small service to beginners, I've created a handful of stream templates which you can use for free without crediting my website. Click the image below to be taken to the full Imgur album.

    The templates come in five colors (Red, Blue, Green, Black, and Invisible Background so that you can layer your own background or color underneath) and each color has two styles: full and partial.

    Full is meant to be used with a tiny faerie's tracker, while the partial version allows you to use that space for whatever you want. You can also use a resource like VideoGameSprites to pick an FF1 (or other game) sprite to complement your theme/name.

    Obviously, these are not amazingly high fidelity but they'll absolutely get the job done in a pinch!

    Racetime.gg

    Once upon a time, SpeedRunsLive was the official platform through which we did timed and tracked races. For an example, you can see my generally lackluster page here. By participating in (and doing reasonably well in) official races, you could gain points and move up the FFR leaderboards over time. It's a cool little system, and it's helpful in keeping everything above board while also giving an outlet for competitive folks.

    Now, though, we use Racetime.gg instead. Racetime.gg is entirely in browser and still allows us to track leaderboards for sub-events. If you intend to race competitively, you'll need to make an account there.

    Once you're in the racetime.gg room for any given race (which will be posted in the Discord's #race-announcements room), follow the prompts. You'll ready up, wait for the 15 second countdown to start, and then hit the Done button once you've finished the race. The website will automatically track your time and ranking.

    Study Material

    While this page is a great read-through reference, the best experience you'll get in the Final Fantasy Randomizer is going to come through doing, not just reading. But if you're not quite feeling comfortable enough for that yet, I've got some great study materials for you as an intermediary step.

    In the 2019 Frame Fatales charity speedrunning marathon (an all-woman-identifying event by the GamesDoneQuick folks), Demerine2 did a super fun Randomizer run towards the very end of the event. If you haven't yet watched it, I'd highly recommend sitting back and enjoying the show. It is both entertaining and informative, and will almost certainly give you pointers long after your first run.

    In addition, I've made a handful of interactive Sporcle quizzes that will help you memorize important locations, quest chains, and more. They're linked below.

    FFR Study Quizes:

  • World Map Quiz
  • Identify the Towns
  • Identify the Quest Turn-in
  • Identify the Incentivized Chests & Locations
  • Magic Item Spells
  • More coming soon...

  • And finally, a list of links that will be useful to you on your journey. I've tried to attribute as best as I can.

    Some of the Randomizer guides in particular are a touch outdated (or were written by people who are no longer active in the community), but are largely still extremely helpful. It's also entirely possible that they explain a concept in a way that makes more sense to you than my own explanation, and are worth reading just for that extra perspective.

    Community:
  • FFR Discord
  • Final Fantasy 1 (NES) Guides:
  • Game Corner Guides - EXTREMELY thorough
  • AstralEsper's Game Mechanics Guide (2009)
  • Mike's RPG Center (Maps and Charts)
  • Eunos's Spell Permissions Chart
  • Eunos's Misc. FF1 Graphs
  • TASVideo's FF1 Reference
  • Aelmarkin's Trap/Spike Tile Reference
  • Randomizer Guides:
  • DarkmoonEX's FFR Calendar of Upcoming Events and Guide List
  • Philes and Edgeworth's Final Fantasy Randomizer Guide
  • A New Player's Guide to FFR Tournaments
  • MoMo's Mega Mogwai Guide
  • Czar's FFR Tutorial (Twitch)
  • ShadowWalker227's Video Guides (YouTube)
  • Asher's Floor Shuffle Guide (YouTube)
  • Cheezinator's FFR Spellbook
  • In Conclusion

    If you've made it this far, to the end, congratulations. Perhaps the biggest hurdle to fully enjoying this experience is the commitment to learning the minutiae of a two-decades-old game and barreling through whatever setbacks you first encounter (maybe it's getting routed to the Ice Caves after Pravoka, or maybe it's forgetting that you can get to Crescent Lake without a canoe, both of which have happened to me on multiple occasions).

    Like I said at the beginning, my first run took nearly five hours, and I almost quit after wiping on Chaos. I stuck with it, asked for advice in the Discord, and within two weeks I had a low two-hour time and was running with the other Ducklings under Gregglypuff's leadership. I was having a lot of fun, despite some initial frustration.

    Randomizers are a challenging but rewarding genre of games, and they're still developing rapidly. There's a lot of enjoyment to be had, as long as you're willing to put in the effort up front. Don't be disheartened, and you'll be glad you stuck around for a couple of weeks. If you have any questions, or simply want someone to commiserate with, feel free to ping me in the Discord (groggydog#2559), follow me on Twitter (@groggydogFF), or bug me while I'm streaming on Twitch (@groggydog). I'm happy to help to the (admittedly limited) extent of my expertise.

    I wish you the best of luck in your FFR journey.

    Thanks for Reading!