|No matter what we put on you, you always make it look like a total mess! - L'Arc
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Arm Forces are weapon-enhancing effects which are either inherent (locked or secret) to a given weapon or take the form of gem-like materials which can be placed on a weapon's force frame. Arm Forces can alter a weapon's characteristics (for instance, making them effective against dragon enemies) and/or provide additional commands for the player character (such as the Steal command). It should be noted that, since weapons do not inherently alter their wielders' damage output, Arm Forces play an important role in affecting weapons' overall behavior and offensive capabilities.
Most Arm Forces are "gem-like" clusters of squares that can be attached to a Weapon Frame. These clusters appear in linear arrangements of 2 or 3 squares, L-shaped arrangements of 3 squares, 2x3 arrangements of 6 squares, or larger squares of either 2x2 or 3x3 squares. It must be noted that these arrangements can be either vertical or horizontal, and the L-shaped ones can be oriented in any way. For the purposes of filling a weapon frame, Arm Forces cannot be rotated, so a Steal Arm Force, for instance, must always be fit into a Weapon Frame as a "1x3" vertical cluster.
After an early point in the story, each battle won awards the player WP (an abbreviation for "Weapon Points") which are channeled into the weapon the character is currently wielding. Much like an experience system, accumulating a certain amount of WP in a weapon causes it to "evolve", either by having its Weapon Frame expanded, or by unlocking its unlockable Arm Force (so it can be used in other weapons). Arm forces can be placed in the free slots of a Weapon Frame, thus granting said weapon more powers.
Arm Force ClassificationEdit
Arm forces can be classified either by how they occur in a weapon (Native, Unlockable and Secret), or by their categories, that is, the effects they add to it (Abilities, Bonus, Offense, Defense, Other and Command).
According to their effect on the weapon (their category), they will be colored differently, with Ability Arm Forces colored blue, Bonus Arm Forces colored purple, Offense Arm Forces colored red, Defense Arm Forces colored orange, Other Arm Forces colored Green and Command Arm Forces colored white.
Native versus Unlockable Arm ForcesEdit
Native Arm Forces, regardless of category, are always colored black and permanently stuck to their weapon frames. Native and Unlockable Arm Forces which are equivalent share the same name and shape (in the aforementioned "Steal" example, its arm force is always shaped as a vertical line of 3 squares, and acts exactly the same way on the weapon, regardless of whether it’s a Native or an Unlockable Arm Force). Unlockable Arm Forces are unique, that is, a single "Steal" Arm Force is obtainable in-game, while Native Arm Forces can occur in many different weapons. This is likely to prevent the player from creating overpowered weapons, since unlockable arm forces are unique (for instance, there is a single "Mag+2" Unlockable Arm Force available through the entire game, while other weapons may have a native "Mag+2" Arm Force, which would limit "stacking" Arm Forces to 2 per weapon, instead of allowing a player to "collect" Mag+2 Arm Forces and stack them into a single weapon).
Secret Arm ForcesEdit
If a weapon is evolved to its level 3 (shown by the number of stars it has on the Weapon Customisation Menu), its Arm Force Frame is completely freed (save for any Native Arm Forces, which are fixed on their frame). Upon filling occupying all 16 available squares in a Weapon Frame with Arm Forces (regardless of their being native or unlockable), a Secret Arm Force is activated. If any Arm Force is then taken from the Frame, the Secret Arm Force ceases to work as well (the weapon customization menu will indicate that the Secret Arm Force is Inactive).
Secret Arm forces, thus, have no real “shape”, and while some of them are exclusive to this category (and tend to be the best ones), most weapons’ Secret Arm Forces are equivalent in their effects to Unlockable/Native ones, such as the “Auto-Regen” Bonus Arm Force, which is a Secret Arm Force in Caliburn (rapier), but an unlockable Arm Force in Regen Blade (rapier) and a native Arm Force in Trimegistos (staff).
Arm Force CategoriesEdit
As stated above, Arm Forces can be classified by the effects they add to the weapon they’re attached (or stuck) to. The six Arm Force categories are discussed below:
Ability Arm ForcesEdit
Colored blue, these Arm Forces increase (and eventually decrease) the characters’ stats, such as HP, ATK, MAG, DEF, RES, SPD, LUK. Arm Forces in this category can also increase AP or improve its regeneration, and some can even cause the character’s SP to begin battles at a given percentage (Fixed SP XX% Arm Force).
Bonus Arm ForcesEdit
Colored purple, these Arm Forces grant bonuses to the weapon, such as elemental attributes or other effects (such as poison) to physical attacks. Alternatively, buffs can be placed on the weapon user (such as ATK+, DEF+, MAG+, Auto-Regen, Auto Blitz or Auto-Bless).
It must be noted, however, that Magic or Excel Acts with buff-removing effects (such as Lv.2 magic Dispel Magic and the Supreme version, Magical Disjunction) will still cancel these Arm Forces’ effects for the remainder of the battle. The Add Stun Magic Arm Force also belongs in this category, and enables spells to stun the opponent.
Offense Arm ForcesEdit
These red gems grant the weapon added damage against certain monster types (Bane-type Arm Forces, such as Human Bane) or enhance the character’s performance overall in a given attack action (such as Boost Excel Acts, Big Critical, Block Defense, Followup and Blow Special Def Arm Forces). It must be noted, however, that most of these enhancements are made to physical attacks and Excel Acts, with only the Master Mage Arm Force (which has the same effect of Deadly Strike, except it is Magic oriented) being an Offense Arm Force focused on Magic. The other Magic-enhancing Arm Forces belong to other categories, notably “Other” Arm Forces.
Defense Arm ForcesEdit
As the name states, Defense Arm Forces enhance the defensive aspects of the weapon, be them Elemental (such as Earth Resist2) or status (Silence Res, or Block Poison). Some of the Arm Forces in this category can automatically aplly the Defend action to the character, at no AP cost (such as Auto-Defense or Frantic Defense, the latter a rather popular strategy among bosses), turn the character immune to certain attacks (such as Block Physical), or activate special defensive actions (such as Defend and Heal, Magical Reflect, SP Auto-cure, Prevent KO or Block Critical).
Other Arm ForcesEdit
These Arm Forces focus on general skills, be them battle-oriented (such as Boost Summon and Save MP), or not (such as Cautious Travel). They are a miscellaneous group, with many and varied effects, which range from action speed (such as Fleet of Foot, or Fastest Casting), to enhancing actions which do not fall on the previous two categories (Boost Magic, Boost Steal, Boost Flee and Boost Force, for instance). It can also channel some actions into others (such as Frantic AP Save, Heal on Kill) or provide greater rewards after battle (like with More WPs and Treasure Hunt). Aditionally, the magical boost is mainly given by these Arm Forces (Supreme Magic, Faster Casting).
Command Arm ForcesEdit
This category of Arm Forces provides additional available actions to the characters when equipped. Each Arm Force will enable the character to perform a different action. Some of its effects emulate Excel Acts, items and/or Magic effects and, unlike EAs and Magic, which spend SP and AP or MP and AP, respectively, Arm-force activated commands only spend AP to be performed, usually at a “slightly” higher cost. Strategically speaking, the use of these kinds of Arm Forces enables the player to save resources (namely items, MP and %SP), though the AP expense might be a concern for lower Lv characters, which share a smaller AP pool than higher lv ones. As expected, Command Arm Forces only take place in battle, not being useful outside them.
Apart from being Arm Forces which have commands associated with it, most Command Arm Forces can be chained with other actions (See Combining Commands below).
Combining Commands Edit
Early in the game, characters learn how to sync Magic, and soon after also learn how to chain attacks, that is, performing sequential attacks in a single combo instead of performing separate actions. From the point when these Chain Attacks become available, some Command Arm Forces can be combined with other Command Arm Forces (such as Absorption and Steal) or even themselves (such as “Steal and Steal”) or with an Attack, in a sync. Sync Command Arm Forces obey the same Attack Sync rules (the commands must be used in succession on the same target, and some combinations require a specific action order to work properly).
Since Command Arm Forces relate directly to the character performing it (like attacks), Sync Arm Forces are “Single-Sync” actions, which means only one character may perform the sync. For instance: the combination of “Steal” + “Steal” results in “Planned Steal” only when the same character steals the same foe twice in succession. If two characters try to use Steal on a target, two different steal attempts will take place.
When chaining Command Arm Forces, it is important to pay attention to the order they are used. Any attempt to chain Command Arm Forces out of the order listed below will break the chain. Given the broad nature of actions this group of Arm Forces encompass, their effects (and combined effects, if available) will be listed below. It must be noted that, given the order-specific nature of the Syncs, any sync that uses more than one Arm Force will be listed below the first Arm Force used in the sync. For example: for information on Full Holdup (Mass Attack + Steal), look under Mass Attack.
Command Arm Forces Edit
Self-healing: Performs a minor heal on the character him/herself. It cannot be used on others, and its effects are similar to those of a heal/mid liquid, or the Heal Spell. It cannot be chained into a sync.
First Aid: Removes a status problem from an ally, and cannot be used on the character him/herself. Similar to Serge’s “Feel the Love” Excel Act. If the ally has more than one status disorder, First Aid will remove one at a time. It cannot be chained into a Sync.
Steal: Steals an item from the foe. Each foe, when defeated, may drop one of two (sometimes, the two) items. Apart from those two, it may carry other two items, which can be stolen from it while in battle, and may or may not be different from the one(s) it drops when defeated. It must be noted, however, that Steal attempts may fail depending on the stealer’s LUK. Some items can only be obtained through stealing, such as the Inferno/Flood/Gale/Terra Amulets. Steal can be Synched into other actions, either as the first or the second command in the chain:
=> Planned Steal: A Sync action which takes place when issuing the Steal command twice in a row on the same target. Planned Steal increases the odds of obtaining an item when stealing.
=> Armed Robbery: A Sync action which takes place when issuing the Steal command followed by an attack on the same target. Armed Robbery slightly increases the damage dealt to the target, while stealing an item from it at the same time.
Taunting: Increases the character’s agression, increasing the chance that enemies will target him/her. Usable only on self, this Command Arm Force can be used to divert attention from other allies. It cannot be chained into a Sync.
Hiding: Provides the opposite effect of taunting, lowering the character’s aggression, and decreasing the chance that enemies will target him/her. Only useable on self, and cannot be chained into a Sync.
Scapegoat: This Command Arm Force causes the target to take half the damage intended for the other character(s) in battle, effectively sharing it (about half the damage to the target, the other “half” to the Command user; this Arm Force disregards the type of damage dealt to the target). As such, it can only be used on himself. This Arm Force is unique in the sense that it can only be found as a Secret Arm Force, and only in Rastan’s weapon Hauteclaire, effectively making him the only one capable of using this Command. It can be chained as follows:
=> Endure: Result of Scapegoat followed by Defend, Rastan takes on a defensive stance while sharing the damage meant for the party. As such, the damage dealt to the party will be lower.
Protect: This Command Arm Force causes its user to fully take the damage which would otherwise be dealt to another character, like in a human shield. It can be chained as follows:
=> Security Detail: Result of Protect followed by Defend. The Protect-user character takes on a defensive stance, reducing the damage to the character using Protect, while protecting the other character from damage.
DEF Stock: Grants the user a special defense against physical attacks. Can be thought of as an “Improved Defend”. Only usable on self, and can be chained as follows:
=> Full DEF Stock: achieved by issuing DEF Stock twice in a row, this provides an extra protection against physical attacks.
=> Iron Wall: Using DEF Stock followed by RES Stock grants the user the “Stop All” Status, neutralizing the first action targeted at the user (be it a positive or negative action, such as a healing Magic or an attack). At a total of 10 AP cost (8AP if the character has Blitz), its effects are the same as using Sand Castle (4AP + item use), casting Protective Wall/Flawless Protection on the target (5AP + MP use), or Rastan’s use of Invulnerability (5AP + 80%SP use).
RES Stock: Grants the user a special defense against magical attacks. Can be thought of as an “Improved Defend”, against Magic. Only usable on self, and can be chained as follows:
=> Full RES Stock: achieved by issuing RES Stock twice in a row, this provides an extra protection against magical attacks.
Morale Support: Grants an ally the Lv+ effect. Only usable on others, and can only be chained as the second command in the Sync.
Intimidation: Applies a Lv- effect on foes. It can be chained as follows:
=> Strong Abuse: A Sync that takes place by using Intimidation followed by Observation. While it reveals the target’s HP, Lv, AP and Elemental strengths/weaknesses, it potentializes the Lv- effect of Intimidation.
Observation: Reveals the details on a target, such as Lv, HP and Elemental strengths/weaknesses. Can only be chained as the second command in a sync.
Effect Passing: Transfers a Status Change to an ally. It works for both positive and negative changes, such as Blitz or Poison. Cannot be chained into a sync.
Gather Strength: Strengthens the character’s next actions during that turn, except for magic. It is a very versatile Arm Force in terms of chaining, since it can form syncs with most other commands, besides itself. It is only usable on self, and can be chained as follows:
=> Full Gather: Chained using Gather Strength and Gather Strength, greatly increases the effectivenes of the following actions on the same turn, except for magic.
=> Full Attack: Chained using Gather Strength followed by Attack, increases the damage output dealt to the target.
=> Crashing Blow: Chained using Gather Strength, Gather Strength and Attack, greatly increases the damage output, and shatters any special defense on the target.
=> Full Defense: Chained using Gather Strength and Defend. It increases the “Defend” action effectiveness.
=> Full Support: Chained using Gather Strength and Morale Support, it increases the Lv+ effect of Morale Support.
=>Full Exchange: Chained using Gather Strength and HP/SP Exchange, fills the SP% bar more than HP/SP Exchange alone, but also depletes more HP in the process, potentially leaving the character at 1HP.
Lady Luck: The use of this command increases the chance of a random-based Arm Force (such as Deadly Strike, or Block Physical) activating. Cannot be chained into a sync.
Act First: The user takes priority in his/her first action during that turn, acting before all other people in combat. Useful for characters which have low SPD, or higher Lv Magic, or even start defending before an enemy attack has the chance to hit him/her. Cannot be chained into a sync.
Act Last: The user delays his/her actions, waiting for everyone to act before them. Cannot be chained into a sync.
Absorption: This command enables the user to drain into him/herself part of the damage he/she inflicts on a target during that turn of combat. Useful when combined with other actions (attack or arm forces or multiple hit Excel Acts/Magic), this command can be chained as follows:
=> SP Absorption: The combination of Absorption and Steal enables the character to steal the target’s SP, but will cancel the item stealing. Useful when the character needs SP to perform an Excel Act on the following turn, but has no means to fill the SP% bar quickly enough.
HP/SP Exchange: This Arm Force trades the user’s health for SP, filling its gauge. While it is useful for casting poweful Excel Acts quickly, the HP depletion becomes a matter of concern without proper healing.
SP passing: Enables the user to transfer some of his/her SP bar to an ally.
Mass Attack: This Arm Force enables its user to attack all non-party members in the battlefield, that is, enemies and raystones alike, at a 7AP cost. It affects all the foes at the same time, thus being quicker than sequential attacks to separate enemies, though at a sligthly higher AP cost. Since it destroys Raystones as well, its use increases the chances obtaining of gem shards through battle, preventing friend and foe alike from casting Supreme Magic with them. Mass Attack can be combined with either Steal or Absorption, as follows:
=>Full Holdup: Triggered by the use of Mass Attack followed by Steal, it has the same effects of “Armed Robbery” (Increased damage + steal), but applied to all foes in the battlefield at a total 10AP cost. As such, it also destroys the raystones in the Field, but since raystones carry no items, nothing can be stolen from them.
=>Full Absorption: Using Mass Attack and then Absorption, it steals some HP from each enemy in the battlescreen, at a total 11AP cost. Also breaks raystones, which don’t provide HP for the player.
Sustention: This Arm Force, when used, extends the duration of Status Changes, such as Regen or Blitz. It can only be used on self and cannot make part on a chain.
Life Exchange: Enables the user to “transfer the KO” status to him/herself, being the only means to revive another character using only AP. The fallen character is revived at the same HP the user had, and the user itself is knocked out. Obviously, it cannot be chained, and can only be used to revive others.