The Historian From Baldesion: Crystal Exarch Guide

Final Fantasy 14 has a massive cast of characters that all play into its deep plot lines. There are so many that it can be challenging to keep track of all of them and remember their backstories, motivations, and histories. This can be even more difficult as the MMO continues to receive new expansions. So, if you need help filling in some of the gaps regarding Crystal Exarch, also known as G’raha Tia, look no further.

Key Info Up Front

  • Name: G’raha Tia
  • Titles: Crystal Exarch, Raha
  • Expansions: A Realm Reborn, Shadowbringers, Endwalker
  • Affiliations: Students of Baldesion, Scions of the Seventh Dawn, Sons of Saint Coinach

Crystal Exarch Appearance and Personality

g'raha appearance
Image from Final Fantasy Fandom

G’raha is a Miqo’te with red hair that matches his one red eye. His other eye is green, although it eventually turns red, and his hair tends to be short for a male of his species. He has a very muscular build and is usually not found without a bow and a quiver full of arrows or his amazing Crystal Exarch staff. Interestingly, his history is documented on his skin with tattoos. He has a neck tattoo reminiscent of a Sharlayan sage and an arm tattoo that closely resembles the mark of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn and the sigil of the Students of Baldesion.

Once he picks up the mantle of the Crystal Exarch, however, he begins covering the majority of his body with red and black robes to cover the crystallization process that begins to spread throughout his entire body slowly. The robe also has golden accents that establish his power and a hood that covers most of his face to hide his true identity. As he continues working with the power of the Crystal Tower, the crystallization spreads, and when he exerts himself, lines of the magic begin cracking through the surface of his body and clothing.

It isn’t until his soul vessel is merged with the younger version of himself that his appearance returns to how it was in A Realm Reborn. Then, he adopts a new outfit more fit for traveling alongside the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, although he maintains the red, black, and gold coloring scheme. He then uses different armaments depending on his job. If he is set to Paladin, he fights with a sword and shield made out of light from the Crystal Tower. If the player sets him to either White or Black Mage, he instead wields a new staff that has part of the Crystal Tower built into it to focus his power.

Personality

G’raha has managed to find a place in the hearts of many Final Fantasy 14 fans because of his more laid-back and whimsical approach to everything. The first interaction the player has with him is very eccentric as he plays around with the player before even introducing himself to them. Once he is introduced, he continues to approach problems with humor despite taking things very seriously and being a very driven individual.

Once he becomes the Crystal Exarch and instructs the Scions in the First, however, G’raha’s personality changes drastically. He instead takes a more authoritative approach to interactions with others and often speaks like a wise and older mentor. During his interactions with the people of that world, he also demonstrates that he is a capable leader that can inspire others with motivation and strong wording to help them rise and boost their morale. His actions also show that he generally cares for others, has only good intentions, and is even willing to sacrifice his own life for others.

Once G’raha is returned to the Source, his personality is a mixture of the two previous iterations. He is calmer and more friendly most of the time, but his more severe attitudes from being the Crystal Exarch do appear now and again when necessary. He shows that he is still a capable leader, but the insecurities of his youth also still come up now and again in certain instances, like joining the Scions.

Crystal Exarch Story

Life Before the Game

G’raha Tia was born in the nation of Corvos but was eventually sent to Sharlayan to be raised by the Students of Baldesion. This was because he was born with one red eye, a symbol of his tribe’s lineage through his ancestor Desch. Hundreds of years before G’raha was born, his tribe was entrusted with protecting the bloodline of the Allagan Empire on Ilsabard.

This responsibility served his tribe well for many years until the Garlean Empire took over Ilsabard shortly after G’raha was born and began searching for Allagan relics. Their goal was to eradicate any remnants of the Allagan Empire to prevent its descendants from forming a rebellion, so G’raha’s tribe went into hiding to try and eliminate any connection between themselves and the Allagan Empire from long before. Since G’raha had a red eye tying him to their ancient role in the empire, he was sent away for his protection.

In A Realm Reborn

Years after his first arrival in Sharlayan, G’raha briefly met the Warrior of Light. This happened when the Warrior of Light was tasked with finding aethersand to get through the protective barrier of the Crystal Tower. It was then that G’raha talked to the Warrior of Light for the first time as a disembodied voice, directing them to complete their goal for his own entertainment. Afterward, he gave them what they were looking for and told them they would see one another soon.

That meeting ended up much earlier than the Warrior of Light expected, as G’raha formally introduced himself to them when the Warrior returned to Cid nan Garland with the aethersand. After a proper introduction, G’raha welcomed the Warrior of Light to a task force he created at that moment to investigate the Crystal Tower, which he called the Nominated Observers of Artifacts Historical or NOAH.

It wasn’t until later on in A Realm Reborn that G’raha discovered his true lineage. He had always known that he had some relation to the Allagan Empire, evidenced by him naming NOAH after a famous Allagan scholar. However, when he meets Doga and Unei, G’raha is informed that his red eye actually links him directly to Allagan noble family. Shortly after discovering this, Doga and Unei are kidnapped and whisked away by the Cloud of Darkness.

After witnessing this, G’raha returned to the remaining members of NOAH to figure out a way to rescue his friends. He and the Warrior of Light eventually traveled through a portal created by Cid nan Garlond to confront the Cloud of Darkness, and the two defeated it together. Before they could leave the evil entity’s realm, however, Doga and Unei decided to stay there to keep it contained so that it couldn’t hurt any more people. It was then that the two put some of their blood into G’raha, allowing him to control the Crystal Tower.

With the ability to control the Crystal Tower, G’raha could access a library of the empire’s advanced knowledge that vastly surpasses the current technology. Because of this, he sealed himself in the Crystal Tower, where he wanted to wait until the rest of the world was ready for the technology within the Crystal Tower.

Shadowbringers

g'raha shadowbringer
Image from Final Fantasy Fandom

G’raha ended up having to wait two hundred years to open the tower. To survive for that long, he had to devise a way to fuse his physical being with the Crystal Tower itself, thus allowing him to feed off its magical properties to sustain his body. He reactivated the tower after learning about the Eight Umbral Calamity that had wiped out the Scions of the Seventh Dawn So, he transported himself there with the Crystal Tower to a parallel dimension known as the First to found the city Crystarium, where he adopted the moniker of Crystal Exarch.

Once he was established in the First, a reflective dimension of Final Fantasy 14‘s home dimension, the Source, he started trying to summon the Warrior of Light for help. However, doing so proved extremely difficult, resulting in him summoning all of the other members of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn before successfully transporting the Warrior. The time dilation between the two dimensions also meant that while at home, the Scions disappeared within months of one another, in the First years passed between each one.

Once he had the Scions with him, G’raha worked with them to prevent a similar Umbral Calamity in that dimension, restoring the Scions to their own world by preventing their own Umbral Calamity. However, G’raha did not reveal his true identity to the Scions and only let them know of him as the Crystal Exarch. Under his disguise, he guided them to slay the world’s Lightwardens, which are primal magical beasts responsible for maintaining the light magic that permeates the world.

It wasn’t until the final Lightwarden was slain that G’raha revealed his true identity and greater plan. He absorbed the power of the light into himself so that he could travel to the Dimensional Rift between the two dimensions and expunge the power there, killing him but putting an end to the Umbral Calamities and saving the Scions. However, his plan was stopped by Emet-Selch, who wanted the power for himself.

This sparked a massive battle between the Emet-Selch and the Scions, which were aided by warriors summoned by G’raha from numerous other dimensions. Emet-Selch was eventually defeated, but the light power dissipated with him. So, G’raha retreated back into the Crystal Tower to find a way to return the Scions to the Source. He eventually found a way to do so by fusing crystals from the tower with his blood. This process merged him with the tower even more, greatly weakening his abilities.

Elidibus exploited this weakness, an Ascian angered by the meddling of the Scions in the eternal balance of Light and Dark. He took the crystals made by G’raha to return each Scion and used them to track the Scions down himself and kill them. Just as Elidibus was about to finish the Warrior of Light, G’raha appeared and used his last remaining power to kill Elidibus for good. This fully crystalized G’raha and left only a spirit vessel containing his memories and life energy behind.

This spirit vessel allowed the Warrior of Light to transport the Scions back to the Source. They then traveled to the Crystal Tower in their own dimension and used the spirit vessel to open the Crystal Tower and revive G’raha anew. G’raha then insisted on being fused with the memories of his future self and swore his allegiance to the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, and became an official member of the group.

Endwalker

Crystal Exarch endwalker
Image from Final Fantasy Fandom

The first act of G’raha with the Scions was to travel to his home of Sharlayan with the Warrior of Light to learn about the Final Days, a prophesized apocalypse. There, he assisted the Scions in their investigation but eventually led to their capture by the Forum due to his use of rare floating magic in the region. This caused the Scions to be captured by the Forum and questioned. He and the Scions were then banned from investigating the Forum further.

That only increased the group’s suspicions, and they attacked the Tower of Zot and claimed it. Inside the tower, G’raha healed the Arkasodaras people that were imprisoned there. But the tower was quickly destroyed, and G’raha had to use his magic to save everyone inside of it. G’raha then re-joined the Scions to storm Garlemald, where he fought alongside the Ilsabardian Contingent. During the battle, he was the only one to discover a ploy by their enemy, Zenos Galvus, who had taken the form of the Warrior of Light to infiltrate the army.

After the battle, G’raha also helped the Scions take the Tower of Babil. G’raha then had a conversation with the Warrior of Light, where they promised to go on an adventure together, and then the two of them traveled to the Vanaspati forest as the Final Days had begun there. Later, G’raha used his Crystal Exarch reputation to rally civilians to help defend Radz-at-Han from an attack by the blasphemies. He then went back to the Crystal Tower to investigate the cause of the Final Days to try and find a way to stop it.

He then played a significant role in putting an end to the Final Days by rallying citizens, gathering information, and playing strategic roles on the battlefield. After the Final Days were fully stopped, he was commended by Hydaelyn, the spirit of the Crystal Tower, for his excellent work saving the people of the First. He then embarked with Krile to try and rebuild the Students of Baldesion order that had been responsible for his upbringing.

Key Crystal Exarch Moments

With how powerful the Crystal Exarch is, it is no surprise that he has played a role in many key moments throughout Final Fantasy 14. The first is in A Realm Reborn, when he assists the Warrior of Light in battling the Cloud of Darkness. Doing so removes an incredibly powerful evil from the world and helps strengthen his relationship with both the Warrior of Light and the Scions of the Seventh Dawn.

Perhaps the most defining moment for him as a character, however, is his claiming of the Crystal Tower. Not only does this action solidify a connection between him and his ancestry, but it also sees G’hara transcending from an everyday adventurer. He instead turns into a potent entity in the world that houses ancient knowledge only known to him, and he takes his position very seriously.

His possession of the Crystal Tower leads directly to his key role as the Crystal Exarch during the Shadowbringers expansion. The reveal of his true identity and subsequent death are arguably his two biggest moments in the game thus far. They both are very impactful plot moments in the expansion while also bringing about an excellent conclusion to his character development arc throughout the MMO.

Special Abilities

crystal exarch abilities
Image from Deviant Art

Like most characters in Final Fantasy 14, G’raha’s abilities are best divided between those that can be used when in combat alongside the player and those outside of combat. However, he does have some crossover between the two categories because of his leadership competence. Graham have proven repeatedly since he took over the Crystal Tower that he is an inspiring leader capable of raising armies of citizens. He also can provide guidance for heroes like the Scions of the Seventh Dawn themselves, as he demonstrated while hiding his identity in Shadowbringers.

His power outside of combat goes far beyond leadership, however. He has a wealth of knowledge within the Crystal Tower that can be found nowhere else, and he is adept and searching through it to find what can help him and his allies complete their objectives. G’hara also holds immense magical abilities. Pulling the Scions of the Seventh Dawn into the First is no small feat, and finding a way to send them back to the Source with his blood is even more impressive. While he isn’t always perfect, like getting the Scions caught by the Forum, he has proven to be extremely capable and dedicated to his friends.

When you fight alongside him, his balanced abilities are also on full display. G’hara will appear as an ally alongside the player on numerous quests but can also be chosen through the Trust System. Players can even play as him briefly during the Death Unto Dawn main quest. In these moments, G’raha can fulfill any role with three different jobs to pick from. He is comfortable enough in martial combat to fulfill the Paladin job, while he can also play as a Black or White Mage to cover the DPS and Healer roles.

Key Relationships

However, there are some other Scions that generally feel uncomfortable around G’raha. This is mainly because of his natural secrecy. G’raha prefers to keep his intentions and plans to himself until they must be revealed to others. He has proven repeatedly that his intentions to help the Scions are made in earnest, but characters like Y’shtola Rhul still don’t entirely trust him.

Quotes

  • “So, shall I cast caution to the wind and try something reckless and dramatic?”
  • “Let expanse contract, eon become instant! Champions from beyond the rift, heed my call!”
  • “And yet my heart cries out to fight. Better than relinquish the hope that swelled in my breast when I beheld the night sky for the first time in a hundred years.”
  • “There was, however, one thing of which I was certain: that I could not bear to let those dear to me meet a tragic end.”

FAQs

Question: Is G’raha Tia an Archon?

Answer: Yes, G’raha Tia is considered an Archon alongside Matoya.

Question: Does G’raha Tia remember the events of Shadowbringers?

Answer: Yes, since the Source version of him is infused with the memories and soul of his future self, he remembers all of the events of Shadowbringers.

Question: Is G’raha Tia the Crystal Exarch?

Answer: Yes, G’raha Tia reveals himself to the be the Crystal Exarch when he reveals his plans to save the Source to the Warrior of Light.

Conclusion

G’raha Tia is one of my personal favorite characters from Final Fantasy 14. I was extremely happy to see him be upgraded from an optional side character to one of the core cast members in the Scions. His sense of humor is always fun to have along for the ride, and his progression to such a powerful and responsible role has been interesting to witness. G’raha’s control of the Crystal Tower is also a unique narrative component, so I doubt that fans have seen the last of him with the Endwalker expansion.

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