Starting out in Vana'diel: See no evil, hear no evil, smell... no evil?

Hola mi amigos! Hoy es la dia de Vana'diel! *clears throat* Ahem, sorry about that. Hello adventurers, and welcome to another edition of Starting out in Vana'diel! Today's topic is actually one that I find quite cool about Final Fantasy XI, especially when you compare it to other MMOs. It's the mechanic that puts the fear of Promathia into every adventurer's step.

Today's column is all about the different monster aggro types -- yes, there are different types. You want to find out more? Come, follow me, and let's find out more!

So what is aggro?

You probably heard us throw this term around on the site before, but let's state it clearly for any newcomers out there. Aggro (short for aggravated or aggressive), otherwise known as "monster hatred," is when the monster wants to beat on someone. If you've gained the monster's aggro, then you've either attracted it's attention in such a way that it wants to attack you instead of someone else.

In most MMO games, players actually control how the monster attacks by performing certain action. Dealing damage to the monster, healing yourself, or casting spells usually attracts a monster's attention (sometimes called threat.) In addition, certain job abilities can either attract aggro or decrease the amount of threat you're drawing. For example, in FFXI the warrior's job ability "provoke" causes the monster's aggro to be immediately redirected to the warrior.

Why manage aggro onto someone called "the tank?"

The reason for this is twofold. One is the fact that "tank" classes have higher defenses than other classes. This means when the tank gets hit, it deals less damage to them than it would any other class. Tank classes include the warrior, paladin, and ninja.

The other reason is that if the tank is getting hit, no one else is getting hit. This makes the life of a healer, like the white mage, much easier. Instead of having to worry about healing 5 other people, all they have to do is concentrate on healing one person.

Ok, so what are these "aggro types" you were talking about?

In Final Fantasy XI, monsters attack for reasons, instead of just blindly attacking anything in their circle. Because of this, there are actually ways you can easily avoid monsters.

Monsters that attack on sight, like the orcs, quadravs, and yagudo, attack when you come in range of their eyesight. Their sight is represented by a cone that comes from the "front" of the monster. If you cross in front of the cone, you will be attacked by any monster that is also aggressive. However, you can easily sneak around behind them if you get the opportunity, or you can counter them by using the item prism powder or the spell invisible.

Monsters that attack by sound, like bats, will attack you once you get close to them. There's no sneaking behind these guys, however the use of a silent oil or the spell sneak will silence your footsteps so you can get around these guys.

Monsters that attack by magic, like the weather elementals, do exactly that -- attack when you cast a spell close to them. Don't want aggro? Don't cast a spell.

Monsters that attack by low HP/bloodied, like undead creatures, will attack when you come too close to them with HP in the yellow or red range. These monsters usually have other ways of attacking too, so it's best to just not come close to them at all.

Lastly, monsters love to give chase as long as they have your scent. As long as they have your trail, they'll follow you to the ends of zones to attack you. The normal method of avoiding this is casting the deodorize spell or using the item deodorizer.

While that's all said and good, sometimes you don't have deodorizer. If you don't my advice to you is run to a body of water, like a stream or lake. Remember the old adage that water breaks scent trails? Well it does in Vana'diel! Moving through a body of water will act like a deodorize, causing the monster following you to lose your trail.

Well adventurers, that's all for this time. Next Thursday, we're going to talk about the auction house a little bit more in-depth. Until then, safe adventures in Vana'diel!