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JRPGs are no stranger to turning ordinary people into intergalactic saviors. Final Fantasy XIV may be an MMORPG, but it’s also a JRPG deep to its core. That means I expected my humble level 1 adventurer to become a world-savior hero/godslayer. However, one thing in my hero’s journey that I did not expect was that I became a worldwide hero.
Do you know what happens when you are a world-famous hero like Iron Man? You start to acquire a legion of fans. Among these is G’raha Tia, allegedly the biggest fanboy of the Warrior of Light. The Miqo’te first appears as a supporting player in the questlines of the Crystal Tower but becomes an essential element of Shadowbringers and a cherished companion from then on.
This G’raha Tia guide will show a little of the trajectory of one of the most beloved and cute Scions to make up our adventures and how his participation was extremely necessary to unravel the mysteries surrounding Hydaelyn and Zodiark.
- Full Name: G’raha Tia.
- Alias: The Crystal Exarch.
- First Appearance: G’raha Tia first appears while doing the Crystal Tower questline. Formerly, this questline was optional, and you could meet him as the Crystal Exarch without knowing who he was. Nowadays, it’s mandatory.
- Race: Miqo’te.
- Gender: Male.
- Playable Character: Temporarily in some quests.
- Job: G’raha is an Archer in A Realm Reborn. Then, as Crystal Exarch, his job is All-Rounder, meaning he can take on the three roles. While he does have some unique skills, he is mainly portrayed as a Paladin (tank), White Mage (healer), or Black Mage (DPS).
- Special Powers: As a true descendant of the Allagan civilization, G’raha can harness the power of the Crystal Tower and use it as a source for other technologies, such as time and dimension traveling.
- Characteristics: First introduced as a carefree Student of Baldesion, G’raha proves to be more than just a simples side character. When he discovers his heritage, he takes accountability for caring for the Crystal Tower. Using the tower power, he manages to change the past and prevent a disastrous future.
G’raha Tia is a Miqo’te with short red hair and trademark racial features such as a tail and fluffy ears. As an archer and Student of Baldesion, he wears Warwolf Gear and unique clothing both in red and black. He has heterochromia, one eye is blue, and the other is red from the royal descendants of the Allagan Empire. After the events at Crystal Tower, both eyes take on a reddish hue.
He also has a tattoo on his neck, the Archon’s Mark, a Sharlayan title reserved for members who have excelled in some specific area and rose to the rank of Archon. G’raha has another tattoo on his shoulder that causes some confusion. It resembles an eye, a tattoo given to the Scion of Seventh Dawn members.
As the Crystal Exarch, G’raha has a more aged appearance, denoted by the gray streaks in his hair. His body is crystallized from long-term exposure to the power of the Crystal Tower. He wears a black, red, and white robe with gold detailing that covers his entire body and a cloak hiding his face until he reveals his identity to the Warrior of Light.
After he returns to Source, G’raha takes on a Scion mantle, similar to that of Crystal Exarch, only more stripped down and jovial. He retains his youthful appearance from when he was sealed in the Crystal Tower.
Flamboyant and carefree, G’raha Tia comes across as quite the joker at the beginning of Crystal Tower, using riddles to guide us in our quest. Later, he comes across as an exemplary scholar and always shares information with the expedition group he named NOAH. It takes G’raha a while to accept that he’s a royal descendant of the Allagan Empire. When he does, he knows what to do and takes responsibility for watching and caring for the Crystal Tower.
Several expansions later, meeting G’raha in the form of Crystal Exarch, the century of living has given him experience and poise as the leader of Crystarium. He still admires us, the Warrior of Light, and other historical figures of Eorzea. Determined to save the First and consequently the Source, G’raha is prepared for any kind of sacrifice, which is gladly thwarted with the help of the Scions and our heroism.
His personality changes drastically after returning to the Source. I have no idea whether it was due to the loss of his responsibilities as Crystal Exarch, I only know that his admiration for us went sky high, and we see the birth of the Warrior of Light’s biggest fanboy, trumping even Alisaie. I know that many, (mostly Redditors) didn’t like this sudden behavior change.
G’raha Tia and Crystal Exarch Glamour
Unfortunately, we can’t fully mimic G’raha Tia’s archer glamour nor Scion garb. Still, there are some workarounds to look similar to it. We can get the same gloves, boots, and legs as his archer glamour. They are part of the Warwolf Gear, obtainable by spending Wolf Marks, the PVP currency. Just join some Frontlines, and you will soon get the 2,000 Wolf Marks necessary for the three pieces.
The chest, however, is a piece of special equipment that is unobtainable so far. You can, however, grab the Storm Private’s Double Vest, which requires you to be a member of the Maelstrom and a Storm Private Second Class. While not true to G’raha’s glamour, it’s one of the closest in appearance. His Scion garb is amazingly well-done and unique. I firmly believe that sooner or later, they will add it to the store for players to buy. They added Lyse Hext attire five years after it first appeared on the game, so there’s hope.
Crystal Exarch, on the other hand, is an entirely unique attire. While players tried to recreate it with alternative outfits – some were wonderful, by the way – it’s not the real glamour. But, once again, it may sooner or later hit the Final Fantasy XIV Online Store, as most NPCs attire did, such as the Lord Commander’s outfit from Aymeric.
The Crystal Tower
G’raha Tia initially appears, or rather, does not appear but graces us with his voice in the quest to enter the Crystal Tower. While our Warrior of Light is wandering around hunting for aethersand to get past the building’s magick barriers, a warm voice directs us to the location of the resources. Despite being the one playing the game, the disembodied voice seemed to be having more fun than I was.
After finding all the materials, G’raha Tia introduces himself to the group, eager to join the expedition. Rammbroes presents him as the observer sent by Sharlayan. The big boy wastes no time and names the expedition NOAH, as in “Nominated Observers of Artifacts Historical,” but in reality is a homage to an archmagus homologous.
The Mi’qote assumes the position of expedition leader and directs us on how to proceed. But of course, it boils down to my Dragoon and 23 other strangers facing the Labyrinth of Ancients and its several menacing bosses so that others can enjoy the perks and rewards of the exploration.
As Ironworks and G’raha explore the Crystal Tower, they are met with an extensive line of defense as we ascend the tower in search of answers to its mysteries. However, one gate proves more stubborn than the others, which frustrates the expedition. When all hope is almost lost, out of the beyond emerge two individuals who call themselves scholars of Ancient Allag and Students of Baldesion. Given our lack of progress, we might as well just accept their 100% suspicious aid.
As fate would have it, Doga and Unei manage to open the sealed gate with more ease than lifting the lid of a toilet. When questioned about their means, they unceremoniously declare to be clones and direct descendants of Emperor Xande, the founder of the Allagan Empire. That’s convenient. Anyway, they open the entrance to the second part of the Alliance Raid, and again there I go, 15 minutes into the DPS queue to clear Syrcus Tower on behalf of these archaeological nerds.
While defeating Xande to stop his afterlife clone from taking over the world, we discover that a voidsent, the Cloud of Darkness, is trying to come to our world to cause havoc. In the meantime, G’raha Tia begins to feel a little under the weather, just in time for Doga and Unei to be sucked into the World of Darkness. Soon after, G’raha starts to share some ancient knowledge about the Allag empire and says he can’t remember where he learned this. College, good times. But no, his amnesia isn’t thanks to alcohol, but to something more profound.
NOAH now turns into an interdimensional expedition, and they head to the World of Darkness to save Doga, Unei, and Nero tol Scaeva (I also wrote about the scientist Garlean, if you are interested.) In the void, the clones say that G’raha Tia is a descendant of the Allag empire, not by blood, but by technology.
When Doga and Unei trigger G’raha’s royal lineage, he sees the past of Salinas, the princess of the Allagan Empire, giving her blood to G’raha Tia’s predecessor. Later, Desch and Salinas are mentioned briefly in the Deep Dungeon Heaven on High storyline. Apart from G’raha, it’s worth noting that all the other names mentioned in this paragraph appeared in Final Fantasy III, as did the Crystal Tower. If you are a longtime fan of the series, like me, you must have realized that the Allagan Empire was heavily inspired by the franchise’s third installment.
After ending the raids, saving almost everyone, rolling 3 in the Cloud of Darkness pet, and returning to our lighted world G’raha decides to protect the Crystal Tower from the world. He decides that with his newfound power to control it, he will isolate himself inside and lock it up until humanity’s technology rivals Allagan’s, and they can use the tower as it was intended: as a beacon of hope. In the act of utmost selflessness, G’raha retreats into the Crystal Tower, and both enter a deep slumber.
200 Years Later
Apparently, it took two centuries for mankind to reach a technological level that its ancestors possessed. Now, things get a little tricky. The occurrences of these events are explained in-game during Shadowbringers after we meet Crystal Exarch. But chronologically, they happen earlier.
In an alternate timeline, the Garlean Empire employed the deadly gas known as Black Rose. This caused an annihilation not only in Eorzea but also in the very empire that wielded it. The gas also messed up the aetherial flow of the world, allowing the First shard to perform a Rejoining with the Source. The rejoining further potentiated the gas, which spread to almost the entire world. Among the casualties were the Scions and the Warrior of Light. Yes, we died in this alternate timeline.
Using Omega and Alexander’s technology, Cid developed an apparatus to travel in time and space and avoid this catastrophe called Tycoon. But such technology would not be completed in his lifetime and would require a vast energy source. Two hundred years later, a descendant of Biggs continued with the research and was finally able to reopen the Crystal Tower, using its enormous battery potential to power Tycoon.
An awakened G’raha agrees to help. The intention was to send the Crystal Tower and its conductor back in time, a little after the Warrior of Light ended the Dragonsong War, but to another world: the First. Since there was no time to do some trial runs and time flows differently in the First and the Source, G’raha may have been a bit too early. A mere hundred years before the events.
There, he created his alias Crystal Exarch and aimed to develop an asylum for the Flood of Light survivors in the First. To this end, he made the city of Crystarium and acted as its ruler. After a century, G’raha begins the summoning magic to call the Warrior of Light to the First. He succeeds – after failing about five times and bringing the wrong person, but eventually succeeding. And so begins the Shadowbringers expansion.
The Crystal Exarch
Arriving at the First, Warrior of Light is invited to the Crystarium and welcomed by the Crystal Exarch. A mysterious figure wrapped in a robe hides his identity and claims to be of the same origin as us. In my first playthrough of Shadowbringers, I expected the Crystal Exarch to be a villain, Ascian, or any interloper disguised as a good guy.
He serves as a mentor to Warrior of Light and Scions, showing them where to find the Lightwardens in their respective zones and hopeful that their hero would destroy them. To do this, we put on the mantle of the night, becoming the Warrior of Darkness. Crystal Exarch Tia often acts like a politician, talking to high-ranking powers in various instances, such as Vauthry and Emet-Selch. Interesting to note that he always slips a compliment here and there when mentioning the Warrior of Li… Darkness. Oh, you.
After returning the night to almost every area of the First, we face The Innocence. Prevailing, we absorb his light, but it proves too much for our fragile bodies to hold. Crystal Exarch emerges and claims he will use the power of light to infuse the Crystal Tower and travel to other dimensions. After all, he was just using us for this end. Urianger seems to be in cahoots with him. Here we go again with Urianger and his hidden agenda.
But it doesn’t take ten seconds for the Scions to figure out that it’s all a fake Crystal Exarch statement to avoid pity from the comrades while he sacrifices himself for the greater good. He intends to absorb the light and go to the rift, dying along with it. While he draws the light from us, his face is revealed. Should you choose to call him by name (which was previously impossible before patch 5.3 had you not raided the Crystal Tower), G’raha will be touched by your remembrance, and thank you for your courageous actions.
In an ironic twist, Emet-Selch, one of the greatest villains of video games, prevents him from accomplishing his plan and saves his life. He leaves with G’raha Tia while we throw up light as if we were on a rave and trying our best not to become a sin eater.
As we set out on a journey to the Tempest and learn about the spectacular past of the Ascians and Amarout, we come one step closer to confronting Emet-Selch. When all seems lost, G’raha Tia casts the same summoning spell he used to bring the protagonist and Scions to the First to summon champions from other worlds, aka online players, to tackle the trial. Other than Stormblood with some duty flavor text mentioning how we always get help from some randoms out there, I appreciate the way Final Fantasy XIV manages to integrate online gameplay with the narrative.
After our victory, G’raha returns as Crystal Exarch to lead the Crystarium and attempt to develop a method to return the souls of the Scions back to the Source. His efforts heightened his crystallization, but that didn’t hold him back. Meanwhile, Elidibus tries to take the reins of Emet-Selch and defeat the Warrior of Darkness and the Scions. After defeating Elidibius in his Warrior of Light form, G’raha uses the Crystal Tower as a White Auracite and traps the Ascian in its premises.
With all the Scions back in Source, a question arises whether Crystal Exarch will want to merge with his version that still resides slumbering in the Crystal Tower of the present time. Since the alternative is to become a human chandelier, he accepts and returns to the Source in his youthful body.
Return as a Scion
Crystal Exarch’s return to the body of the present G’raha Tia is bittersweet for many fans. His memories are intact, and he retains the characteristics of a hardened secular veteran. However, G’raha comes across as much more Gen Z than a wise sage, easily denoted by his looks of admiration for the heroes of yore he knew only by books.
Nevertheless, I consider G’raha Tia one of the finest addition to the Scions of Seventh Dawn cast. His first effort was to help find a cure for tempering. In the Endwalker expansion, he becomes a supporting cast like all the other Scions, having more relevance in certain areas but staying backstage in others.
I am not saying that his contributions were inconsequential. On the contrary, his knowledge and magick helped in several instances, such as avoiding the fall of Arksodaras-shaped meteors after the Tower of Zot. His discerning fanboy eye detected Zenos in the Warrior of Light’s body, and his lasting contributions to the Crystal Tower allowed us to visit the past in Elpis. Not to mention his joint sacrifice with the other Scions in Ultima Thule, which is already a game segment dedicated to many tissues and philosophies of life.
With the end of the story between Hydaelyn and Zodiark, we are making way for a new narrative starting in patch 6.1. The Scions are officially disbanded, so I imagine the emphasis will be on the newer ones, like Estinien and G’raha. The former, by the way, was the trigger of our newfound adventure.
From Optional to Mandatory Content
Formerly, the Crystal Tower questline was the optional Alliance Raid from A Realm Reborn. Having played since launch, completing all the extra content available at the time was easy. As the game releases more expansions, I admit that it’s hard enough to keep up with the main story; imagine if you’re sidetracking with optional content.
However, Square embedded the Crystal Tower storyline in Shadowbringers when it launched. This created two distinct situations when the Crystal Exarch revealed itself to our hero as G’raha Tia: to players who had completed the Crystal Tower and those who had not. No doubt, this was highly anticlimactic for those unaware of this narrative allusion to an optional content from six years ago and greatly diminished the impact of the Crystal Exarch reveal. Good thing I had done the raids. Otherwise, I would have been frustrated as well.
Nowadays, however, the Crystal Tower has become mandatory to progress the Main Story, delivering the same experience for all players. It is currently the only optional content gone mandatory. Other side contents, such as Alexander and Omega, impact the main story. They are not required, but they certainly add that extra flavor to the narrative. Therefore, I strongly suggest you do them. Besides excellent boss battles, the story of each one is a delight in itself.
G’raha Tia in the Trust System
In the Main Scenario of Shadowbringers and Endwalker, we can use the Scions as party members rather than real online players. Besides speeding up the Duty Finder process, especially if you play DPS like me, the Scions’ banters, and dialogs are great fun.
Crystal Exarch and G’raha Tia are among the selectable Scions. In Shadowbringers, he goes as Crystal Exarch in two dungeons and two others as G’raha Tia. His job was set up as All-Rounder, and he could play any of the three roles depending on the party setup.
In Endwalker, G’raha Tia can go in almost all of them, including the trial The Mothercrystal. He continues his role as All-Rounder, being either a Paladin, White Mage, or Black Mage. Utilizing the Trust system to attend dungeons optionally, G’raha could go in any of them.
Question: Is G’raha Tia the Crystal Exarch?
Answer: Yes, he is! After G’raha Tia closed himself in the Crystal Tower, he was awakened centuries later. Using the Tycoon technology derived from Alexander and Omega, he and the Crystal Tower time-and-dimension-hopped to the First, where he became the Crystal Exarch.
Question: Is G’raha Tia in love with the Warrior of Light?
Answer: While it certainly sounds that way, I believe it is more of an over-the-top admiration than love. He lingered all those years in the First, reading the heroic deeds of the Warrior of Light and meeting them in the flesh. G’raha goes on to watch them save the world yet again, enhancing his admiration of them.
Question: How old is G’raha Tia?
Answer: During the events of Crystal Tower in A Realm Reborn, G’raha is 24 years old. Afterward, he’s estimated to be 124 years old as Crystal Exarch. Still, he was dormant for 200 years, which would supposedly give him 324 years in total.
G’raha Tia is one of the most beloved catboys in Final Fantasy XIV. His first appearance in A Realm Reborn, I confess, was quite forgettable for me. So much so that when he was revealed in Shadowbringers, almost 6 years later, I barely remembered who he was. However, looking at the events retrospectively, it’s impressive how they managed to create such a concise narrative arc (even involving time travel!) and make his participation relevant.
And no doubt, he’s either the founder of the Warrior of Light Fanclub or the number one member, competing directly with Alisaie. I imagine we’ll see much more of G’raha Tia throughout Final Fantasy XIV as he adventures alongside his idol with his wiggly ears and glinting eyes.