Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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Espers were, we are told, originally humans that were transformed in the magical crossfire between the three Statues during the long War of the Magi. Afterwards, Espers created their own world and sealed the gate tightly. This did not, however, prevent power-hungry humans (Emperor Gestahl, for instance) from trying to harness the Espers' magical abilities.
In the Game
Until a plot event, the only Esper the player encounters is Tritoch, at the beginning of the game. Later, however, characters in your party can use Magicite, the pure form of deceased Espers, to both learn magic and summon an Esper to attack your enemies in battle. In this latter way, Espers are highly similar to the summons in Final Fantasies IV, V, and Tactics, as well as Guardian Forces in FFVIII, eidolons in FFIX, and Aeons in FFX. Many Espers appearing in FFVI appear in these games as well (Shiva, Ifrit, Alexander, Carbuncle, Phoenix, and of course Bahamut, to name just a few).
Almost all Espers (and summons, eidolons, etc.) are modeled and named after creatures in mythology or history. Lakshmi (or "Starlet" in the U.S.), for example, is the supreme mother goddess in Hinduism; Fenrir is the giant destructive wolf in Norse mythology.
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