As the game starts, a scholar named Alazlam/Arazlam Durai is trying to discover the truth about the Lion War/War of the Lions, a civil war that swept Ivalice 400 years prior. While all official sources cite one Delita as the hero of the war, Alazlam/Arazlam claims to have found writings to suggest that this is a lie and that the real hero was a guy called Ramza. The rest of the game plays out as a retelling of these writings.
Rewind 400 years. The kingdom of Ivalice has just been defeated in a war with the neighbouring kingdom of Ordal(l)ia. In addition to the social disorders this has caused (such as a marauding band of disgruntled former soldiers called the Death Corps/Corpse Brigade), the kingdom is in political disarray. The King is weak-willed and sickly, and his wife effectively rules in his place. There are two potential heirs to the throne: Princess Ovelia, the King’s younger half-sister, whom he designated as heiress after his first two sons died, and Prince Orinus, his third son, born after Ovelia’s nomination. The Queen and her brother, Duke Larg, obviously support the Prince, while Duke Goltan(n)a supports the Princess, which is what eventually triggers the Lion War/War of the Lions. But even this is just the tip of the iceberg: there are more sinister forces at work behind the scenes, revolving around the mysterious Zodiac Stones. Once those come into play, a massive clusterf-…err, mess erupts.
Two young lads are inadvertently drawn into this spiral of violence: Ramza, the youngest son of the noble Beoulve family, and Delita, his best friend, a peasant’s son who was taken in by Ramza’s father after his own parents died. An attack of the Death Corps/Corpse Brigade upon the Military Academy where they both study triggers a tragic string of circumstances culminating in the death of an innocent. As a consequence, Ramza renounces his family name and becomes a mercenary, while Delita becomes a knight under the command of Duke Larg. The latter orders him to kidnap Princess Ovelia, while Ramza’s band is hired to protect her, which inevitably leads to a confrontation, as the two become deeply embroiled in Ivalice’s political problems. Ramza eventually discovers who is really pulling the strings behind the civil war and decides to do his darnedest to stop it, while Delita stakes his own claims to power.
Sounds convoluted? That’s because it is. But man, what a blast it is to play.