This IS a 'weekly prompt'.. however it's the prompt 'game mechanics', which concluded weeks past. Due to lack of time I didn't submit the prompt on-time, but I was interested enough to finish it anyway! 83
For full size, see the Stash file, which you'll need to 'download' to view properly: Game mechanics (full size)
Exercitus Artifex: Between Worlds
The Archmages: JENNIFER and MIKA
At this point in the game, your player-team is entering the respected grounds of a magic academy, which has been overrun by monsters - not unlike anywhere else in the worlds you've encountered so far, so random battles will occur within. Guarding the gates of the academy are two of its most powerful sorcerers. While normally a friendly place, the gate-keepers will not be too careful in keeping any extra assailants from gaining access to the school, and ensuring only those who can defend themselves proceed beyond the gates. They are a formidable warm-up to the monsters inside, which are mostly magically powerful - should you have multiple failures in beating the two, it's likely you are underlevelled - or find shortcut tactics to beat the two.
If you can't beat them or can just barely defeat the two, the final boss at the end of this area will be a problem since she is able to use recovery magic to undo your damage.
One or Both?
This fight will change depending on whom you've constructed your team with! It is possible to fight only one of the two Archmages, depending on the alignment of characters in the fighting team.
If a neutral/dark-aligned party appears, only Jennifer will confront the party.
If a neutral/holy-aligned party appears, Mika will fight.
If both dark and holy-aligned characters are in the party OR the party contains only neutral-aligned characters, you will be forced to battle both Archmages as normal. *[A neutral party is seen here.]
Despite the challenges of facing both, it is recommended to have a diverse party and fight both in-order to access secret areas within the magic academy (unless you're aiming to beat the game quickly). Certain character skills are essential to accessing the artifacts in the academy, and you will not gain access to the area again nor can you trade party members while inside the school's grounds.
Stealing items is extremely rare, but both Archmages carry one-of-a-kind relics if you are lucky enough to nab them, another reason to face both in combat.
JENNIFER: Debatably the more annoying of the two to face-off against, Jennifer's defensive capabilities are powerful, and her magic power is actually stronger than Mika's. As most bosses are, she is immune to status changes. She uses her magic to toughen her defenses at the start of battle before doling out spells and refreshes defense every half-dozen turns. Compared to Mika, her physical attack skill is low (should you fight her long enough to wear her magic power too low to use spells) so a party with weak physical defense aren't in much danger facing her. When fought with Mika, Jennifer will occasionally boost his defense in addition to her own. Jennifer's spells tend to be party-based and non-elemented, though if her spells are elemented, you can defend or recover from certain attacks with certain armors/relics. As for attacking her, dark-elemented attacks are your best bet, but those of that element are at-risk if she casts her holy-elemented magic. Breaking through her defense is tough, but she is more susceptible to physical damage when it's possible, or barrier-piercing abilities such as those from characters who can use 'transform'.
Casting of status-inflicting spells and double-casting is likely if Mika is defeated before her or when her HP is reduced to 1/2 or lower. Jennifer's guard will drop lower more often in favour of offensive spells in the same situation.
MIKA: Unlike Jennifer, Mika can dish out some decent physical damage in-addition to his magic. Mika focuses less on defense and more on assault, and he will likely eliminate a party that is too under-levelled. His spells vary between party-based and individual, and there's a 15% chance he will use a physical attack even when his magic is available. As with Jennifer, he cannot be affected by status changes. Holy-based characters can deal heavy damage to Mika, but had best be protected by defensive spells or items. Mika is reasonably balanced in terms of defenses, though his HP is slightly lower than Jennifer's. A pain-in-the-butt problem with Mika is that he'll sometimes summon spirits to wittle away at your team - they aren't hard to defeat, but the damage can accumulate if he has four of them summoned at once.
At 50% health he may use defensive spells, which add to those that may already be in effect from Jennifer, and he is also more likely to use party-based dark magic at that point. Also at half-health, he may inflict 'possess', a unique magic to Mika that is identical to 'zombie' status (inflicted characters are essentially dead and will attack teammates). Holy-based characters are immune to 'possess'.
A note when fighting both: Due to their ability to fly, earth-elemented attacks do nothing to either Archmage. When fought together, the remaining Archmage will receive doubled magical power for the remainder of the battle after the defeat of his/her partner. Though holy-/dark-elemented characters stand the risk of taking double damage, they also take half-damage spells of their own type.
It should be known that neither will cast any healing spells upon themselves, so apart from the rare item that recovers a little HP, they don't recover lost HP.
Party as Seen Here:
IZEL: Though not a long-standing playable character at this time in the game, Izel has high HP and is one of the few who can attack with magic at this point in the game. At higher levels, he can also use 'transform' once per battle to receive high stat boosts and inflict triple damage on targets - but odds are, his level is insufficient to have gained the skill without level-grinding soon after receiving his alliance. Still, his HP and considerable magic defense at this stage of the game make him harder to knock unconscious than most characters, and his magic skill can be useful against Mika when he is not guarded by barriers.
ADAIR: With no magic capacity and low magic defense, Adair is at-risk from magical attack - but he can do considerable damage if he survives to inflict physical attacks on either Archmage. Adair has among the lowest miss rates, and his chance for critical attacks is rather high. For his poor magic defense, his physical defense and stamina is considerable, so he stands better against Mika. Also, since Adair can use long-range weapons (and even wield a gun in each hand), he can be left in the back row to take less damage from physical assault.
KAI: Though her HP is lower than Izel's, Kai's relatively good HP and balanced defenses make her likelier to survive a powerful magic attack. She is the only character you get in the game who can immediately use 'transform' and gain stat boosts, and this is handy given her speed is unrivalled, sometimes meaning she can perform two attacks before an Archmage can attack. Kai has no magic at this time so her attacks (unless items are used) are physical; but unlike other characters, her 'transform' skill can be used multiple times per battle (even though controlling her is lost during the transform period). She also has the natural ability to slowly regain HP in her transformed state in lieu of magic.
LILAC: Lilac's lower HP at this time is made up for by her unique skill 'Shadowcast', which can be used offensively or defensively and depends on her level at the time of battle. Shadowcast can be used to defend the party from assault, significantly reducing damage - but it can be used only so many times per battle, so it is best used strategically. Lilac's reasonably balanced in her defensive and offensive skill, and she takes zero damage from ice-elemented magic ... but she takes both double-damage and bleed-impact from fire-elemented spells. As one of the characters capable of 'stealing' from others and also with the useful ability to lockpick, she can be worth the hassle of bringing into the battle.
Upon defeat, the two Archmages (even if you only fought one) will apologize for the rude introduction and allow you into the academy. Here they will reveal why they aggressively tried to defend against entry, though realize your party may also be of use in thinning the number of monsters around the area. Depending on your party, dialogue options will be different (some more personal than others) - but after defeat, both will offer the option of buying cheap recovery items [an option that will not be available when you meet them later].
But more importantly to most players, you will begin expanding your playable characters' ability to use magic. By completing this section, most playable characters will be able to learn certain spells and use MP to cast them during battle.
Some items found in the magic academy can be restored by Jennifer and will become items that can be equipped for various status effects and immunities. If you find an item requiring restoration and don't return to Jennifer to fix it before facing the area boss, you DO still have an opportunity to have the item restored when you meet her again later in the game.
Though you won't get to join the character here, you will meet another playable character in the academy who will eventually join the roster!
SOOOO.. I wish I could have finished this on-time! If you recognize the style I chose to draw in likeness of (though not replicated too closely, obviously), you have played Final Fantasy VI [known as FF3 in the North-American version]. ;D I could not limit myself to the same style of sprites, but I did try to make it similar, especially with the battle layout.. and a bit with the appearance of the BG, altered in an effort to make it fit.
The playable characters aren't from the same world buuuut.. I didn't want to just draw three kitsunes (as Kira/Azrael would fit all too easy) plus one other. So I mixed it up. Izel is from 'Dark's Watch', Adair is a well-loved RP character, Kai is an old RP character with no story yet, and Lilac is an ea-lec member and another OC without a story. Mika and Jenny are from the same world as Lilac.
It had no reason to be in the blabber, but the final boss I'd imagine of this section is the Headmaster of the school - Jenny's teacher, Lucidia a sorceress of experience beyond measure. 8]
10-15 hours, Clip Studio Paint EX
Characters are my own (Absolute-Sero)