There are two maxims in Final Fantasy that complement each other. The first is that if they include an empire in the plot, it will probably be antagonistic. Second, this empire will be scientifically evolved compared to the other kingdoms. And what does that empire needs to develop technologically and keep such technology up to date? Scientists, engineers, and anyone involved in the evolution of high-tech.
In Final Fantasy XIV, this is no different. Nero Tol Scaeva is a stellar scientist of the Garlean empire who wields all his genius to leverage imperial goals. Initially a simple sub-boss, he becomes an essential figure in unfolding some sidequests and the overall plot.
I believe one of Square’s secrets in creating compelling characters for Final Fantasy is longevity. They could simply use Nero as a sub-boss in a dungeon and then discard him like non-rechargeable batteries. But no. Sometimes, Square gives unusual characters a second, third, or even fourth wind to keep them within the narrative. This provides them with enough time to develop such characters and us the time to identify with them.
But before I dwell too much on the nuances that made Square a master of character creation, let me go back to the engineer that adorns this title, the glamorous Nero Tol Scaeva, and guide you to what makes him a vital side-character. Welcome to a Nero Tol Scaeva Guide.
- Full Name: Nero tol Scaeva.
- First Appearance: Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn.
- Race: Garlean.
- Gender: Male.
- Playable Character: Nope.
- Weapon: The mighty gunhammer Mjolnir when he wears his Iron Nero armor. On casual days, he carries a simple Gunblade.
- Special Powers: Engineering skill and development of magitek weaponry.
- First Encountered: Nero appears alongside Gaius when the legatus proclaims he’ll resume his conquest in Eorzea.
- Characteristics: Nero’s specialty is reverse engineering ancient technologies. He was instrumental in recovering the Ultima Weapon, helping the Ironworks clear the Crystal Tower, and finding and using the Omega Weapon to help the Scions and then defeating it afterward.
As usual for Garleans, Nero has the iconic third eye on his forehead. He has blond hair and bright eyes. Initially, Nero wore crimson armor with gold details and a helmet with sharp features. Later, he appears with the armor but without the helmet.
When he’s helping to investigate the Crystal Tower, Nero wears over-the-top traveling gear and a trenchcoat as if it were the first time he had chosen his own clothes. He wears a mask to try – and fail – to hide his identity. Later, when he becomes an official consultant to Ironworks, he’s seen wearing the uniform of the engineering faction.
Nero is condescending and arrogant. He only respects Gaius, acts as a ruthless leader, and punishes wrongdoers intensely. Since joining Magitek Academy, Cid always stole the spotlight despite his best efforts. This made him nurture an unhealthy rivalry against the top of the class.
After Cid left the empire, Nero used his engineering skills to help Gaius and was promoted to his second-in-command. This only heightened his arrogance which lasted until he was defeated by the Warrior of Light and saw all his efforts go to waste.
However, Nero still believed in freedom through technology. When he helped the Warrior of Light and Cid at the Crystal Tower, the rivalry between the engineers became a bit more friendly and fueled Nero to develop and excel on several occasions. After defecting from the empire, Nero showed empathy and helped others without expecting anything. Or he did, but I just turned a blind eye because I believe in second chances.
After Dalamud caused the Seventh Umbral Era, Gaius wasn’t ready to give up and decided to resume the conquest of Eorzea on his own, gathering his own army. Among them was the brilliant engineer Nero tol Scaeva, who led and took care of the intelligence of the XIVth legion, known as the Frumentarium.
Nero’s abilities quickly made him rise to the second-in-command position to Gaius. He’s tasked with restoring the Ultima Weapon to its full glory. Meanwhile, he observed from the shadows as the Warrior of Light vanquished the primals and held off the influence of the so-called eikons with the Echo’s power.
When the Ultima Weapon absorbed all the primals, Gaius delegated Nero to upgrade the ancient Allagan weapon to its fullest with the new powers, and so he did. Both Nero and Gaius and the Ultima Weapon made a fortress in the Praetorium.
An Ingenious Rivalry
In the Praetorium, Nero verbally expresses his resentment towards Cid. He claims to be superior and more talented than his former classmate. Nero says that the only reason he wasn’t equally recognized as Cid was that the latter had the privilege of being the son of Midas nan Garlond.
Even when the imperial excelled, people compared his achievements to those of Cid nan Garlond, as if he followed in his footsteps. Poor Nero had the syndrome of being compared to his perfect cousin.
During the Praetorium dungeon, we face Nero as one of the last bosses. His intention is to defeat the Warrior of Light and harness the power of Echo to the Ultima Weapon and ultimately fall in favor of Gaius van Baelsar. However, after being defeated, he disappears. Nero is the only Tribunus to survive a conflict against the protagonist. Before fleeing, however, he boasts that the Ultima Weapon has been activated and that its power will destroy any affront to the empire.
From Tribunus to Freelancer
In Mor Dhona, while talking to the masked Outlandish Man, he mentions a rare opportunity to unravel the mysteries of the ancients. He suggests sharing such information with the chief overseer of the Saint Coinach’s Find, Rammbroes, who embraces this information readily. He prepares an expedition with Cid Garlond to the Crystal Tower to understand and preserve the technology of the ancient Allagan Empire.
After Warrior of Light, Cid and Ironworks, and Gra’ha Tia manage to enter the Crystal Tower and overcome the obstacles of the Labyrinth of Ancients, the Outlandish Man appears outside the Crystal Tower and removes his mask, revealing himself to be – to no one’s surprise – Nero tol Scaeva. The engineer says he detects massive power in the tower that exceeds that of the Ultima Weapon, which is enough to excite the imperial. A hot tip: in case you’re playing through the game and didn’t begin Shadowbingers yet, I strongly recommend doing the Crystal Tower raids. This questline helps you to better enjoy the main story of Shadowbringers.
As our protagonist, alongside Cid and G’raha Tia, continue to delve deeper into the Crystal Tower, with the help of Doga and Unei, Nero reveals himself to the group, inclined to join the expedition. Given his affection for ancient technologies, this suits him. Cid is surprised that the man is still alive and says he won’t accept Nero’s help. The man, in turn, says that after the XIVth legion was defeated, he became a mere traveler and that if he dared to return to the empire, he would be executed.
As a show of good faith, Nero explains the truth about Doga and Unei. He uses the Crystal Tower access as an example since its entry is allowed only for royalty and specific individuals. Nero reveals that Doga and Unei are actually clones of the royal line. The man tries to please Cid and hands him an Allagan tomestone containing information such as the one he has just revealed.
After Doga and Unei’s brief venting about the Allagan empire, Xande, and the power of darkness, the expedition, aka NOAH, decides to enter the Syrcus Tower. The goal is to hamper Xande’s intentions and erase Allagan’s sinful past once and for all. Meanwhile, Nero is just smirking on the sidelines. The kind of smirk that foreshadows shit hitting the fan.
Braving the Syrcus Tower, we defeat Xande with the help of 23 other unaware players that also think they are the Warrior of Light. The expedition celebrates the victory, not seeming to mind a rift of darkness in front of everyone. Nero appears, using his technologies to scan the surroundings. When Doga and Unei try to seal the void, Nero’s apparatus reproduces results that make the engineer laugh as if he were in a Ricky Gervais stand-up.
He claims his outings are reading energy far more potent than the Ultima Weapon, enough to mesmerize an ambitious engineer like him. Suddenly, the small fabric tear rips itself and becomes large enough to allow a Tesla through. Several evil clones of Doga and Unei appear and begin to attack the party. Nero, dressed in his helmetless Iron Nero armor, uses his gunblade to get rid of some of the clones. Cid suspects this is a trick on Nero’s part, but he quickly dismisses it…with impeccable sarcasm.
Nero identifies that a voidsent is controlling the clones. Doga and Unei are sucked into the voidgate. Nero, fearful that without them, he will have no ability to control the power of darkness and consequently acquire it for himself, tries to save – consider the verb save here a stretch, a big stretch – Unei before she’s sucked through the voidgate. He not only fails but is sucked in along with her.
Lighting the Way in the World of Darkness
Like the wonderful heroes of light that we are, we jump right into the ring of fire – or darkness – to help all the helpless and stop the Cloud of Darkness from invading our world. After an epic battle with the villain from Final Fantasy III, we meet up again with Doga, Unei, and Nero. The engineer, meanwhile, seems to have contracted a new variant of Covid mixed with the Joker’s chemical dip.
Nero’s purplish appearance resulted from darkness invading his body and polluting his aether. Injuries he acquired by protecting Doga and Unei from the Cloud of Darkness. He quickly adds that he covered them for ulterior motives and not altruism. At this moment, while his honesty lights his true intentions, I realized the slight of humanity in Nero, and his redemption arc began. Final Fantasy loves to give redemption to its antagonists.
Cloud of Darkness, still alive, do its utmost to keep Warrior of Light, G’raha, and Nero from fleeing their realm. Doga and Unei stand behind, using their Allagan royal blood to thwart the villain’s actions. As the three escape towards the voidgate that connects the World of Darkness with our own, Nero feels the weight of his injuries and falls to his knees. Exposing his pride, he asks you to leave him and that he doesn’t need your help. Still boisterous, he proclaims that although G’raha has the power of Allag, he, Nero tol Scaeva, will surpass the achievements of both Allagan Empire and Cid. Ambitious to a fault, my dear Nero.
G’raha and Warrior of Light jump into the voidgate, and Nero continues staggering towards it. Suddenly, his aether corruption fades thanks to the clones’ efforts, and the man trots off in search of salvation. He jumps but fails to reach the portal. Lo and behold, a hand calloused from handling mechanical tools grabs him and pulls him back into our world. It’s Cid.
Back in the world where the light shines, G’raha decides to use his newly-gained power to seal the Crystal Tower with him inside and prevent any threat from rocking Eorzea. Nero just watches as the tower is sealed up again, considering he has other possibilities to follow. He throws his energy detector apparatus at the abyss and calls out that a new dawn has come for him, concluding his participation and freelancing with NOAH.
Omega VS Shinryu
In the events involving Shinryu’s summoning and Papalymo’s sacrifice to trap the dragon in a simulacrum of Dalamud, the Grand Company of Eorzea thought about how they would confront the primal when he got rid of the binds. Nero breaks into the meeting, suggesting using the ancient superweapon Omega, so far considered another Allagan ingenuity, lying dormant in the Carteneau Flats.
Nero argues that Omega is just a tool. If modified to his liking, it will fulfill the engineers’ wishes. His suggestion is granted, so Nero and Cid restore the superweapon’s control panel and modify it to face Shinryu, who has freed himself from imprisonment. In one of the most epic cinematics of FFXIV, IMHO, Shinryu and Omega clash. The battle of the two closes with their beams of light colliding and an explosion pushing each into a corner of the world.
Leaving a lost superweapon lying around is never a good thing. Knowing this, Cid and the Ironworks set out to find Omega. To this end, Nero has been hired as a consultant in the search, much for Cid’s chagrin. He even suggests that the Warrior of Light accompany him on this endeavor. This would not only keep a reliable pair of eyes on any trickery Nero might think of doing but also a confident protector should Omega wreaks havoc.
On the quest, they encounter a sea of condensed aether. Alpha, the artificial Chocobo, appears to guide those present. Midgardsormr also shares some of his past with Omega, and this corroborates Nero’s theories that the superweapon pre-dates the Allagan and wasn’t, in fact, built by them. Decided, Warrior of Light, Ironworks and Nero jump into the condensed sea and find themselves before the portal to the Interdimensional Rift. On this plane, Omega will test their abilities.
Nero suggests that we accept Omega’s request; it trumps the alternative of being erased from existence. While Omega materializes opponents for us to face off, Nero helps with his gunblade. After passing through various tiny tribulations, we arrive near the Deltascape, where the fight of the Stormblood Normal Raids began. Cid, Biggs, and Wedge set up a base of operation inside the Interdimensional Rift while the Warrior of Light faces the feisty challenges.
While we take on the raid bosses, Nero helps out on the sidelines, helping to identify who our opponents will be and giving us support items to withstand specific mechanics. Nero can’t contain his sappiness when Midgarsormr talks about Omega and his logical ability to analyze the world. Nonetheless, we can only continue clobbering our enemies in Interdimensional graves and try to leave this place.
We triumph once more on Omega’s trials. But to further improve his measurements, the weapon threatens to exterminate the entire world, claiming that ordinary people become heroes and create miracles when subjected to stressful situations. Omega’s attitude makes Cid question whether awakening the superweapon was the right thing to do, and he begins to blame himself.
Nero gives the fellow scientist a wake-up call, claiming that he got lost in his talk of pacifism and forgot what he can do if he devotes his mind to it: making the impossible possible. I see here another implicit demonstration that Nero is no longer that arrogant imperial egocentric.
More Raid Fights for Us
The trials continue, and everything seems to be proceeding smoothly, despite Omega’s assassination attempt on our friends Biggs and Wedge. As we walk to Sigmascape, Nero prepares himself for combat and shows off his new invention, the Mark XLVIII Iron Nero, with a new full Mighty Mjolnir gunhammer. Which, aesthetically, hasn’t changed a bit. With his armor, Nero helps the Warrior of Light to fend off their enemies, and they arrive at the Sigmascape trials.
As we face and emerge victorious against Final Fantasy VI-themed bosses – to this day, I resent not being able to Suplex the Doom Train – we receive news that Biggs and Wedge have recovered. Cid and Warrior of Light go to check them out, leaving Nero to care for the base. At this point, Omega says he notices that the group’s stress level is normalizing, and he needs to restore that emotion by assaulting Nero.
Cid and WoL return to the base and find a low-spirited Nero. The engineer shrugs it off, attributing his despondency to coffee made with salt water, but eventually succumbs to his injuries. Fallen, licking the ground, Nero still boasts that his ingenuity has helped the Warrior of Light overcome the villains. His efforts through his struggles at least rekindle Cid’s science-ness – is that a word? – and Garlond aids the Warrior of Light by employing the technology developed by his father.
After the victory of the last four raids, Cid checks on Nero in the infirmary and discovers that he has already recovered, leaving after receiving a massive payment from the Ironwork for his services.
A Minor Participation
In Shadowbringers and Endwalker, Nero has a relatively minor role. He helps the Ironworks develop a cure for the tempering and appears in the alternate future where the Black Rose is unleashed on the world.
In Endwalker, he helps Cid and the Ironworks complete the Ragnarok, the ship that will allow the Scions to sail the Sea of Stars. In the last Role Quest of Endwalker, he investigates the Tower of Babil and the lunar teleport for personal gain. Nero helps refugees from Garlean assist in a venture on the moon, using it as a repository of wisdom. Nero goes to the moon with Livingway and the refugees.
Battles and Strategy
Praetorium Boss Battle
As with every other boss battle in The Praetorium, Nero was revamped with the release of patch 6.1. Before the update, he was a pushover. Players could stand above his allegedly deadly electrifying floor and not worry about losing HP. And I’m a main Dragoon, so I know a thing or two about dying.
Now, however, while he’s still a pushover, you have to at least play with Netflix closed, or else you can expect death. The new Nero fight starts with the surroundings of the arena being electrified as before. Then, Nero will use Spine Shatter, a tankbuster, to bust a tank. He proceeds to cast Augmented Shatter, a stack attack. Nero will follow with an Iron Uprising, a conal front attack that even a toddler can evade.
Eventually, he will use Activate and summon a Magitek Death Claw minion that will tether to a player and move towards it. Honestly, I’ve no idea what happens if the minion reaches a player because so far, my party always managed to kill it before it moved a yard. To spicy things up, Nero will dash to the corner of the arena (corner on a round arena?!) and load a massive reverse triangle attack called Augmented Uprising. As you may have guessed, you have plenty of room to avoid in time.
Another Spine Shatter to warm the tank’s blood, and Nero will rush to the middle of the arena, casting Augmented Suffering, an attack with a knockback effect. The mechanics will enter a loop from then on, and you will soon smack the hell out of this engineer.
Question: Is Nero dead?
Answer: Alive and kicking. He’s the only Tribunus that survived a fight against the Warrior of Light. Despite all his attempts to perish and his injuries in every sidequest he is involved in, the man just refuses to die.
Question: What does Nero’s middle name mean?
Answer: As with most Garleans naming conventions, Nero’s middle name is related to his military rank. Tol, in this case, is awarded to a Tribunus laticlavius, that is, the second in command to the legatus. Since Gaius van Balesar was the legatus and Nero was his second in command, hence the name Tol.
Question: Is there a way to obtain Nero tol Scaeva’s armor?
Answer: As of now, there isn’t. Nor Nero nor any other Tribunus armor can be glamoured. Which is a shame, for sure. They would be amazing Glamours, and you could make a Free Company or party out of just Garlean imperials. On second thought, it makes sense that they didn’t put imperial Glamour. Imagine the citizens of Eorzea seeing an imperial strolling through the marketplace.
Nero is another gone-good antagonist that only shonen animes and Square Enix can pull off without getting forced. It really boils down to what shonen animes we’re talking about. But anyway. The engineer starts out as a teeny-tiny antagonist in A Realm Reborn but eventually becomes an indispensable ally in the following sidequests.
Although his rivalry with Cid continues until then, at least he is more friendly and productive than before. I don’t know what to expect about his future appearances. Even Cid has only appeared in the nick of time in Endwalker, and now Nero is on the moon working with Garlemald refugees. But if there is one thing we can be sure of: if there is any plot that requires technological expertise, Nero will be there.