Group Dynamics

“She is always cold but when it comes to a critical point, she leads us in a variety of ways.”

There are many ways I could start describing Rose’s personality and her interactions with fellow party members, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, this mini-gallery depicting one of my favourite details in the game speaks volumes:

That’s Rose during the first half of the story, that is to say, before its turning point as I have called it in my review.

Lone Wolf

As you see, Rose likes to keep her distance. Pretty much anytime the party stops to take a rest somewhere, she chooses a nice corner and a wall to casually lean against while observing the happenings from the back, occasionally contributing information or making cynical to cryptic remarks. (Their weight doesn’t hit you until much later.) Even outside of towns and cities, she always stands off to the side or at the far back, bringing up the rear. One detail I truly love about the game is how this aspect of hers is captured in the game’s the official art: Rose continues to skulk in the background of group shots — always present, but not necessarily fully visible.

On a similar note, Rose doesn’t take kindly to being spoken to in an overly familiar way either, or to being touched. To Haschel, she firmly says “Don’t ‘tootsie’ me.”, and she instantly knocks the kind Lavitz over when he tries to drag her away at one point to give Dart and Shana some alone time, bluntly asking, “(Why do I have to go with you?)”.

More subtle is the fact that along with the physical distance, Rose also remains emotionally aloof. On the one hand, Rose doesn’t get as involved with the group on an emotional level. Yes, she speaks with Dart, yes, she explains things to them, but she’s not close to anyone. This is a stark contrast to the way Dart draws people to him, the way everyone is concerned about Shana, to how Lavitz’ kindness and passion inspire those around him, or — perhaps the most obvious contrast — how easily Meru befriends others with her sociable nature, physically and emotionally. Demonstrations of this include:

  • The handful of times that the physically frail Shana holds up the party (twisted ankle, susceptibility to poison, actually getting poisoned, collapsing, etc.), party members present rush to her side or watch over her, but Rose always stays back and makes no effort to help or to show her concern in any way.
  • When Lavitz receives news of his king’s abduction and loses his composure, Dart and Haschel have to restrain him. Rose, however, looks on impassively.
  • After a devastating event, all members of the group try to keep themselves occupied while staying close to one another so as not to be overcome by emotion. Once more, Rose alone watches from the sidelines.

Is Rose just plain cold and uncaring, does she not know how to express that she cares or is she actively trying to stay uninvolved, afraid to get attached? That is a question to revisit at a later point.

Seasoned Fighter

On the other hand, this kind of emotional distance and indifference is reflected in her composure. Rose is rarely caught off-guard, and doesn’t easily lose her poise: not when Shana accuses her of causing Dart’s loss of consciousness, not when they meet multiple creatures that shouldn’t exist in this age anymore, not when they fall through a trapdoor, or when they are ambushed by bandits, or arrows are shot at them unexpectedly. This sets her apart, for example, from Dart and notably Lavitz, who is an experienced knight. When she is surprised though, as is the case when more Dragoon Spirits acknowledge members of the group, she keeps it to herself.

It is perhaps this composure that makes others within the group look to her for guidance, for even though they don’t know much about their companion, they can tell that she’s a true veteran. Rose’s confidence in her skills shows in and outside of battles without making her appear arrogant. Party members look up to her in different ways. Shana, for one, tries so very hard (perhaps too hard) to contribute to the group, especially after meeting and comparing herself to Rose, whereas Lavitz trusts Rose very quickly and acknowledges her skill.

Shana: I felt a little bit dizzy, that’s all.
Lavitz: I guess it is hard for a woman.
Rose: Oh, I am a woman too.
Lavitz: You are special.
Rose: “Special”, huh? Fine. I don’t capitalize on a woman’s frailty anyway.
Shana: I don’t mean to do… oh no. I’m okay. See? Rose is fine too. But, I… I’m sorry. I need to go rest a little.
Disc 1: Nest of Dragon

As a seasoned fighter, Rose always remains focused on the task at hand. The other side to this drive is her no-nonsense attitude and her impatience, an aspect I hadn’t remembered, but was very noticeable during my replay for this shrine. Rose may be pragmatic and goal-oriented, but she’s also the sole member in the group who, in a way, keeps rushing the rest by making her disapproval or indifference known, vocally or physically:

  • When Shana twists her ankle and the party takes a break, Rose sighs and makes an impatient gesture behind their backs.
  • The two times that they are ambushed by bandits, once due to a misunderstanding, once with clearly ill intentions, Rose plainly states it’s easier to resolve the matter by beating them into submission.
  • There are multiple times she explicitly tells the party to stop wasting time talking and to make up their mind.

This attitude of hers is not entirely unwelcome though, as the group can certainly use someone who keeps them on the right track.

Blunt Pragmatist

On the other hand, Rose also has very little patience for people outside of the party. She doesn’t appreciate time spent on small talk with villagers when something needs to get done, and does not care much about the feelings of those who happen to cross the group’s path. A memorable example of this is at the end of Disc 1, where the party meets a child belonging to a group that helps people get through hard times during war. When the little boy sees the king, he expresses his renewed hope that the war would soon find an end and that he can meet his parents again. This is how Rose reacts: “Don’t waste time babysitting like that. Why don’t you think about how to get into the castle?”. And she follows it up with a decisive “I’m going ahead.” just as the boy conveys how moved he is to learn that the king is still alive, and as all party members vow to put an end to the war. It would seem that Rose has no sentimentality to spare, and does not much care about how her harsh words may come across to others.

This impatience strongly plays into her bluntness, as she doesn’t indulge others and is not one for many words. Rose has that remarkable ability to often state what people least want to hear in a dire situation instead of offering comfort (“It’s our own fault for being trapped.”, “What is a king to do if he doesn’t have a castle to go back to and a large force to protect him?”, etc.). Haschel in particular calls her out on this more than once:

Shana: It all started with the Dragoon Spirit.
Dart: We have to get it back quick or it’ll be too risky.
Rose: You shouldn’t have let it be taken to start with, then.
Haschel: You are harsh as always. There are some other ways to say that. Why don’t you show a little smile at least?
Rose: I don’t remember… how to smile. Good night.
Disc 2: Twin Castle at Fletz

Unsurprisingly, she brushes it off just as she brushes him off when he addresses her impatience in a personal conversation later on (which deserves a separate page): “It’s none of your business.”

Legitimate Threat

Lastly, Rose can be the scariest foe in the party as she’s swift and deadly and can appear merciless. Just look at her threaten various enemies over the course of the game (that translation work!):

  • “This is your last chance. Get out of our way or you’ll need a real doctor.”
  • “Screams won’t be heard down there… Why don’t we settle this here?”
  • “I’m sorry but you don’t have time to be in love anymore. Because you will die here.”

This takes on a darker shade when you recognize the black and white thinking she displays in certain situations, especially in matters of life and death. Here are two separate encounters with Kongol, a Gigantos (the species that sets itself apart with its enormous size and brute strength) who fights for the enemy:

Kongol: ARRRGGHHH! Gigantos, with strongest armor… lost. Me, brother of hero… has pride. Cannot live in disgrace… Kill me.
Rose: As you wish.
Dart: Stop it! The game is already over!
Rose: “Game”? Don’t be silly, this is a matter of life or death.
Shana: It’s over. He cannot fight.
Rose: Hope your sweetness won’t kill you.
Disc 1: Black Castle at Kazas
Kongol: Emperor Doel say he make world where every species equal. World needs strong leader. Whether you can be leader, Kongol will watch to the end. Gigantos’ sadness should not be repeated…
Rose: There is no such world where “equal” exists. What we have is killing and being killed. That’s it.
Disc 2: Home of Giganto

Trustworthy Ally

As a closing remark, it’s worth noting that pretty much everyone in the party generally maintains a respectful distance from Rose, which suits her just fine. It wouldn’t be too far off to say that at least some of them are slightly intimidated by her frosty exterior as well. Nevertheless, each of them trusts and appreciates Rose as a comrade on a long journey.

Dart: (Don’t play a prank on her. She doesn’t understand jokes.)
Meru: (I won’t! Rose has a mysterious personality. She is always cold but when it comes to a critical point, she leads us in a variety of ways.)
Dart: (We are alive now because of Rose.)
Meru: (I agree.)
Disc 2: The Queen Fury

All in all, when Meru mutters “[Rose is dark… Something is totally wrong with Rose…]” to herself, one can only agree (and marvel at her accurate assessment).