This week, I wanted to take some time to laud some of the unsung heroes of FFXIV. Namely, our retainers. Many of us don’t think too often about our retainers and how we send them out on perilous tasks for them to bring us back fish and window frames each day. But I think we can all agree that without them, Eorzea would be a sadder world.
Sometime back in your late teens, as you were following the main scenario questline, you found yourself able to hire your first retainers. At that point, many of us only hired one, not realizing for a while that you could own up to two for free.
The very first thing you can do with your retainer is customize them to your liking. When creating a retainer, you’re given all the tools you’d find in the character creation screen so you can choose exactly what they look like. I’ve known folks who enjoy recreating their favorite FFXIV NPCs with their retainers. For example, one such friend has made a Minfilia retainer while I've seen a bunch of other folks create retainers in the likeness of Haurchefant.
A retainer in fishing gear
You also select one of six personality choices that effects what your retainer says and how they greet you. When creating your retainer, you’ll get to see sample text to better understand how the different personalities sound.
Finally, you get to give your retainer a name. This name must be unique on your server, and can been seen when you sell items on the market board.
Once you’ve created your retainer, they can hold on to items that you don’t want to throw away, but don’t have room for in your already overflowing inventory. And while it’s pretty easy now days to fill up all our retainers’ inventory now days, back then, it was a marvel to see all that unused space.
Here’s a cool tip, in case you didn’t realize: you can see your retainers’ inventory in an expanded view, which makes it much easier to organize items. To do this, open the Main Menu, select Character Configuration, then click the Character tab. Under Inventory Settings, select Expanded next to Retainer Inventory Space. And there you go!
The next thing we learned retainers could do was sell items for us on the market board. For those of us who craft or gather, this is an invaluable way of making money on the side. For those of us who just have too much junk in our inventory, this is a welcome way to clear out some space and make some gil.
When you sell something on a retainer, you can see how many of those items are already up for sale, and at what price. You can also check that item’s sale history to see how much players bought the item for in the past, and when the item last sold. The history is a great feature because you can get an idea of an item’s market worth. Not everything can make money on the market board, sadly, and each retainer only allows for 20 sales slots.
As time went on, retainers became inspired by their employer’s daring dos, and they decided they wanted to adventure as well. These adventures are aptly called “ventures.” However, retainers don’t do ventures for free – you must pay them the required amount of venture currency to send them out on a venture. This is currency you can earn from leves, grand company seals, and beast tribe quests, to name a few ways.
In order to send a retainer on a venture, you must assign them a class. This can be a gathering or adventuring class, depending on what kind of ventures you want to send them on. A retainer earns experience from ventures, but can only level up to the highest level you’ve earned in that job. For example, if you are a level 25 miner, your retainer can’t level up past 25 until you do. So pick your class well.
In newer patches, you can now assign an adventuring job to your retainer. This allows them to use higher quality weapons and armor.
The type of ventures you can send your retainer do to is also bound to their job. An adventurer retainer can hunt for things that you’d normally see drop off of monsters, such as fangs, hide, and furs. While a gathering retainer will be able to gather materials that you’ve already gathered, such as fish, ore or wood. In this case, you can indicate exactly what materials you want your retainer to return with.
Exploration ventures take a longer amount of time to complete as the retainer can roam the land openly to return with random items. This costs more venture currency, but it also gives a lot more experience per venture, and is a great way to level your retainers. The exploration ventures allow retainers to sometimes bring back rare and obscure items, including coveted minions.
Quick exploration opens up to your retainers at level 10. This always costs one venture currency, always takes the same amount of time, but the item the retainer returns with is completely random. Usually, in my experience, it’s been fish or housing pieces. But, every now and then, they can bring back something very cool and rare, such as furniture or high level gear. I’ve made a good deal of money from selling lucky rare items I’ve gotten from quick explorations, so don’t discount the possibility!
Little Known Info
Did you know that you can sometimes actually see other people’s retainers out in the open world while they are on exploration ventures? This doesn’t happen very often, but I have actually seen a retainer in the wild. You’ll know they’re a retainer because they’re dressed in the retainer’s default clothes, and they often speak out loud to themselves as they gather. It’s just a neat little touch that not everyone has seen in the game!
Did you know that you can view your retainer’s inventory and sales log from the FFXIV Lodestone site? Once you’ve logged in, go to your character’s profile and click the Retainers tab. Here, you’ll see information about your retainer’s ventures, inventory and sales history. You can even sort for an item in your retainer’s inventory from the Lodestone site!
All in all, the retainer system is a totally different spin on standard MMO banking and selling. Having a retainer you can design, name and send on adventures gives it a personal feeling that you just don’t get from running up to a bank NPC or auction house board. For crafters, the materials they bring back are invaluable. For all players, the chance at getting something rare and fun from a venture is worth the small time investment in leveling and gearing retainers.