You and your chocobo: totally (t)winning

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Aetherflow – Autumn 2019

My best friend has a first name, it’s C-H-O-C-O-B-O! And while that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as the Oscar Mayer bologna song, I’ve already committed myself to using it for my intro- so here we are. Final Fantasy 14 is a game with a knack for storytelling and showcasing special bonds and relationships that develop between its main characters. Papalymo and Yda. Wedge and Biggs. The Warrior of Light and Haurchefant. Too soon? (Always too soon.)

But none of these friendships seem as wholesome and pure as the bond we share with our very own feathery friend. From the time we fed it that first gysahl green, our companion chocobo became our closest ally. It provided you a swift ride across the expanse of Eorzea. It saved your life when you fought your first S rank. Sure there was that one time where you felt heartbrokenly abandoned when you thought it was running away to be with those mobs that survived the fate that just ended. But then your bird came back and you had to casually act like nothing happened and you weren’t crying at all. It was just dust in my eye, Pecker. IT WAS JUST DUST.

Point is: your chocobo is the Ying to your Yang, and seeing as you are such a trendsetting (and newly anointed) Warrior of Darkness, it’s only right that you make sure your companion is as well! Sure you could just feed it berries ‘til it’s quite literally blue in the face, but if we’ve only learned one thing from my articles thus far- it’s that I’m high maintenance and we are always going to take things several steps further.

What are those steps? Bardings, my friends! Chocobo bardings! It wouldn’t be fair that you have a state of the-art walk in closet while your faithful friend only has one, floppy-eared hat with stains on it, that he got several years ago when he finally learned to fly. No. Your chocobo should be an extension of yourself and should look just as glamourous as you do. What better way to showcase how to do that than by kicking it old-school, spirit week in grade school style! That’s right friends. We’re celebrating Twin Day up in this piece! Start up your favorite 90s movie montage music and let’s get ready to coordinate.

01

Noble Bard

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Have you ever seen such a noble, well-mannered chocobo in your life? Who knew aristocratic poultry was a thing! This dapper bird is showcasing a delightful combination of the Noble BardingRed Mage Barding, and Lunar Barding in such a fashion that even the highborn elite of Ishgard would turn their heads and gawk in envy. What I enjoy about this combination is how the Red Mage chest brings in a touch of a militant feel that keeps this chocobo glam from looking overly frilly. It reminds me of medieval armaments on horses- covered in banners bearing the family crest of its master.

To complement this unique barding, we put together a look that shared a similar combination of aesthetics: elegant, but with a slight armoured touch. Much like with our friend, I chose the chest piece to break up the more delicate pieces of the glamour. The Prototype Midan Coat of Aiming, similar to the Red Mage barding chest we see in our chocobo’s look, is the perfect marriage of all the elements. We have the softer, black fabric mixed in with the bold, armour elements, like the chainmail and gold plating, that allow this particular piece to be utilized in such a wide variety of ways. Pairing it with items such as the The Plain Long Skirt and the High House Cloche pulls the chest piece in a direction that makes it seem more ornamental rather than a functional piece of battle gear.

02

Flamboyant Ambassador

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Listen, I know that you literally just read about how I liked that the last glamour wasn’t “overly frilly.” Hold onto your butts as we do a speedy 180 turn in the opposite direction and head full throttle straight into Frilly Town. This combination is what I’ve lovingly been referring to as the “Mardis Gras” of all my glamours. It’s bright. It’s bold. It’s gaudy in the absolute best sort of way. You can 100% guarantee I will be driving around in this look from the streets of Limsa Lominsa all the way to the Crystarium like a onewoman parade- waving happily and tossing beads out to everyone I see passing by. (No flashing required. Keep your glams on, please.)

It should be no surprise that this pair of glamours is all about the color story. I was so unbelievably inspired by the warm, bright jeweltoned color scheme of the Yojimbo Barding set that I knew I had to create something fresh and vibrant with one of its pieces. By pairing the chest portion with the warm undertones of the headpiece from the Ala Mhigan Barding and the decorative leg guards of the Lunar Barding, we were able to keep our companion’s look bold without being terribly overwhelming.

Where we really step on the ignition here is for our own matching glamour. The Yojimbo Barding chest piece is a total showstopper – what in the world could we have in our own closets that could possibly stand up to it? Feast your eyes upon Amon’s Coat – yes, the coat that made almost everyone wonder for a brief second how much acid the gear designers were on when they created it. From the color combination to the poofiest frills you could’ve ever imagined- this is by far the loudest item we have in game. And yet- for as bold as it is, and as bold as the Yojimbo chest is, they work surprisingly well with each other. Those bright colors flow seamlessly from coat to coat, and I adore the contrast of the vertical stripes created by the frills against the horizontal stripes against our chocobo’s feathers. Yes, it is loud. But it’s the kind of music our ears crave to listen to at such volumes! While we were at it- we even cranked the volume up to 11 by adding in those bell-sleeved Augmented Torrent Armguards of Aiming.

03

Spear of the Heavens

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Blessed thou art in the way of glamour! This ethereal combination of the Blissful BardingAngelic Barding, and Expanse Barding is beautiful enough to make us feel like our soul is transcending to that big, golden walk-in closet in the sky. There’s something so pure and calming about the combination of gold, white, and turquoise; add the feathers on top of it and you begin to see the divine. Such a glamour would surely be worthy of the most hallowed of white mages. Which, I mean, it definitely is. But why do white mages always get to have first dibs on everything angelic? Just because the color is in their name doesn’t mean it belongs to them. Why can’t a dragoon mount such a holy steed? Can they not leap into the heavens? Each time they tank the floor they see the face of their maker and are called back to Eorzea through resurrection! So they’re kind of like holy men and women. Emphasis on ‘kind of’.

Those beautiful, wispy feathers are the real focus of our chocobo’s look- and what better way to bring them into our own glamour than by utilizing the often overlooked Augmented Slipstream Mail of Maiming. This chest piece features a dominant display of feathers that broaden the shoulders in a fashion that gives the illusion that our own wingspan is about to extend. In addition to this, I also chose to utilize a more plate-based chest to really emphasize the armour- like details seen on both the Angelic barding and the leg guards from the Expanse Barding.

Aside from the feathers, I also wanted to find a way to incorporate the gem seen on the helm from the Blissful barding. How was this to be done when dragoons didn’t really have any fitting crowns within their arsenal? Easy! You lose the crown. While not as royal looking, the Ala Mhigan Headgear of Maiming indeed has a small, pearl of a gem in the very color of the stone seen on the barding. Remember that it’s all in the details no matter how big or how small.

04

Wrath of the Beast

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Thus far we’ve seen some pretty glamour combinations, but now is the time to kick up the edge factor a little. Let us dabble a bit in some black eyeliner, queue up some heavy metal music, and shake our hair loose so it’s ready for some headbanging. If you choose to engage in moshing, please properly stretch and ensure you have enough free space around you to do so. Safety first, friends. Safety first.

Bardings tend to fall a little short of choices when it comes to plate-mail. Sure, there are options available- but many of them come in colors that do not mesh well, or have helms that do not come down to connect with the chest piece. That last bit is a personal pet peeve, but a pet peeve nonetheless.

For this look, I wanted to find a combination that felt menacing and almost beastial without having to resort to an already pre-built set. By using a combination of Horde BardingReveler’s Barding, and Sephirotic Barding we were able to Build-a-Dragon. Way cooler sounding than Build-a-Bear, but way less mall appropriate. This combination uses deep indigo and a rust-toned red that act as a suitable alternative from most broody, black choices.

To mimic the Horde barding’s horns, we used the Augmented Hellfire Mask of Fending dyed ink blue. These particular horns boast a similar sloping shape as the barding and mirror the fade from blue to red.

Now while the deep blue plating was relatively simple to replicate by using the Asuran Hara-ate of Fending, what wasn’t simple was figuring out a way to pull the crimson tail from the Reveler’s barding into our own look. I wanted something long, and flowy, yet not necessarily a full wrap-around skirt. The Hemiskin Brais of Fending seemed to serve this purpose nicely.

05

Crimson Dragon

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While Shadowbringers will be out for a few months by the time you are reading this article, the sun is setting on Stormblood at the time of its writing. As a farewell to this beautiful expansion, I knew I wanted at least one of my chocobo glamours to be very Eastern inspired. After toying around with option after option, I settled upon this stunning combination of the Shinryu BardingNezha Barding, and Hingan Barding that came together in such a way that reminded me a bit of Chinese dragons! I just adored how the hair of the dragon head blended seamlessly into the crimson fabric of the body. It was vividly colorful, and the folds of the fabric show such movement that many other barding pieces do not have.

For this particular pairing, I really wanted to showcase all the patterns and detail work that you see in the Nezha piece. To do this, I used one of my absolute favorite monk pieces in the game- the Hawkwing Cyclas. What makes this particular item so perfect is all the line work along the waist and bottom portions of the coat. Those delicate lines form everything from interesting geometric shapes with a similar flow to the lines of the Nezha body, to a bird upon the hip! This type of detail is carried on further in the outfit with the use of the Thavnairian Sarouel and Taoist’s Shoes.

To quite literally “top off” this look, I followed a similar thought process to the one used with the Reveler’s barding. I was in need of a flowing, ribbon type item to mimic the fabric flowing on our chocobo’s back. There are a good many items that would work for this, such as the Far Eastern Schoolgirl’s Hair Ribbon- but I felt more drawn to the long, flowing aesthetic of the Tantra Tantour. It was at least 40% of that decision at least…. the other 60% of it was definitely that I wanted to wear a crown. Just being honest.

There we have it- now your sweet, feathered companion is just as stylish as you are! Or almost as stylish…because best friend or no, we’re still supposed to be the ones in the spotlight. Playing with chocobo bardings is just another way to further enhance your glamour! Especially now that we have more incentives to be out and about in the open world working with one another. And let’s be real… people are far more likely to take a pause to scope out your glamour if your chocobo’s look seems to fit with your own. At least way more than if you were driving the same black car that everyone else has…

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