Promotional image of the six playable characters, including one guest character. Top from left: Larsa, Ashe, Basch, Balthier and Fran. Bottom from left: Vaan and Penelo.
The twelfth game of the Final Fantasy series, Square Enix's console role-playing game Final Fantasy XII revolves around the attempt to liberate the kingdom of Dalmasca from the Archadian Empire. The story is told through the eyes of Vaan, an orphan who wishes to be a sky pirate, and the cadre of other characters he encounters throughout the adventure. The visuals of the characters were designed by Akihiko Yoshida, while their stories were created by Daisuke Watanabe. The characters were designed to not look like anything that existed anywhere in real life or had ever been seen before, and their story was written to create a scenario in which neither side was truly right or wrong, but instead just had different interpretations of the events in the game.
There are a total of six main playable characters in Final Fantasy XII; Vaan, an energetic orphan of Rabanastre who dreams of becoming a sky pirate; Ashe, a determined princess of Dalmasca who lost her husband in the Archadian invasion; Basch, a disgraced knight of Dalmasca charged with treason for slaying the king; Balthier, a gentlemanly sky pirate who pilots his airship, the Strahl; Fran, Balthier's partner and a viera exile whose knowledge extends to legends and myths; and Penelo, Vaan's childhood friend who accompanies him in journeys to keep an eye over him. There is also a number of "Guest" characters, who temporarily join the main party at various points in the plotline, such as Larsa, the young prince of Archadia, Vossler, a member of the resistance against the Archadian Empire, and Reddas, a disillusioned former Magistrate of Archadia. Other major characters who influence the plot of the game but are not playable characters include Vayne, the eldest prince of Archadia and main antagonist of the story, Gabranth, the twin brother of Basch, and Cid, a brilliant scientist and father to Balthier.
The characters in the game have been the basis of several pieces of merchandise produced by Square Enix, such as statues, action figures, and jewelry. They have been subject to mixed reviews; some reviews have applauded the characters' dialogue and relationships to each other, while others dismissed the story and characters as uninteresting. Critiques of the voice acting for the characters has also been mixed, with different reviews either praising or criticizing both the acting and the technical quality of the recordings.