The FFXIV Healer’s Kiss of Death, and Other Creative Player-Made Twists

The growing trend of alternative challenges in games like Elden Ring and FFXIV.

In many modern games, achievements are like veins. They’re vital for circulation of blood, ideas, and life in a game’s body.

Official achievements can range from finishing main storyline quests, earning impressive combat stats, or even “making mistakes,” so to speak. When I forgot to equip my characters with cards in the deck-building RPG Library of Ruina and initiated battle, I received a little Xbox achievement for my error.

But developers aren’t the only one coming up with objectives. Often the right amount of magic, serendipity, and a critical mass of people who want to fuck-around-and-find-out will lead to unofficial achievements. Born organically, trophies not authored by the devs are games within games and can take on a lot of different forms.

Some are related to a good video game mystery, and flocks of players will try to poke, prod, and dissect the puzzle. Others are glitches people just want to trigger repeatedly, to see firsthand what the glitch looks like. Challenges, which amp up the difficulty or add a fun new twist, are also a time-honored tradition of modifying game objectives beyond what the developers have in mind.

Below, we’ve rounded up the best (and strangest) player-made achievements and challenges that add newfound life to different games, as well as spoke to some of the creators and players behind them.

FFXIV: Healer kiss of death

FFXIV is a huge game with a huge community. As a MMORPG, there’s a lot of space to exercise creativity, such as runs limited to all tanks or all healers, or in-game marriages where a dragoon tether, a buff meant for use in combat, is thrown from one character to another (RIP dragoon tether of love). FFXIV is a digital space ripe with some of the best player-concocted activities.

One slightly controversial, but very fun tradition is to use the Healer rescue for evil rather than good. The rescue allows healers to yank a player to them, and theoretically grabs people out of danger and to safety. It’s a lot of power if used for evil — such as rescuing people into AoEs instead of out of them.

As someone who played healer for a bit, it’s fun to have something in your kit that can kill fellow players instead of healing them. A bit of evil roleplay, if you will. The rescue is also, hilariously, similar to Mortal Kombat Scorpion’s “get over here move,” which is exactly what I would murmur under my breath if I played healer regularly enough to use rescue.

Of course, the evil healer rescue isn’t typically used in duty roulette with strangers who are sincerely just there to clear the content and get out, or with sprouts who are learning the ropes. Most people, ironically, aim to use the kiss of death on loved ones.

A guide to ffxiv white mage for the best gear in Endwalker.

LadyLazaev, a healer in FFXIV, recounts the time she saw someone with a stack marker in Puppet’s Bunker triple flight get yanked out of the group by a healer and subsequently killed. LadyLazaev later learned the healer who did the killing was the wife of the rescued player. “[His wife] couldn’t resist the opportunity to assassinate her husband,” she says.

LadyLazaev has used the rescue for nefarious purposes on her Black Mage friend. “My most consistent troll use for it is to yank my Black Mage friend out of his leylines,” she says. But she’s also directly killed him a few times. Memorably, one time she didn’t run back in time when Phlegethon’s flare started-players not in a designated area die when the flare ends and her friend laughed at her. In an act of just revenge, LadyLazaev says she told him, “You’re coming with me,” and used rescue to drag him inside the death zone too.

FFXIV player Sariel says they only use rescues of death on friends as well. “The best ones are when they don’t expect it,” they say. Sariel likes using the evil rescue in Amaurot’s final boss. This boss has an attack that shoots a laser directly down the narrow platform, and there’s only very limited safe areas, making it prime real estate for using rescue to move players into dangerous spots.

Mutual destruction is a sign of true friendship, and that’s perhaps why the evil rescue has a forbidden allure healers can’t resist taking a bite of.

Pokemon: Nuzlocke Challenge

Perhaps one of the more famous examples of player-made objectivesis Pokemon‘s Nuzlocke challenge. Nuzlocke’s basic rules are removing fainted Pokemon (they’re considered “dead”) from play permanently and capturing the first wild Pokemon encountered. You can modify it so that only personally-captured Pokemon are used, too. Naming each of your Pokemon is also a popular Nuzlocke rule.

The Nuzlocke challenge originated from a comic where creator Nick Franco  documented his Pokemon Ruby run with the mentioned rules. After he posted his comic to forums, the challenge spread like wildfire with a lot of other players documenting their own Nuzlocke journey.

Hardly anyone, however, associates the challenge with the original comic. It’s mostly a way to make Pokemon harder, and to develop a more special relationship with a limited roster of Pokemon — an arguably different mindset from the franchise’s “gotta-catch-them-all” ethos. The next shiny thing in the Nuzlocke challenge is not the best, and what’s important is how you use your existing team. While some games continue to adopt an exclusionary feel — where the focus is obtaining the latest gear, loot, or character to not miss out — Pokemon‘s Nuzlocke Challenge feels increasingly fresh.

Elden Ring: Searching for illusory walls

For a game about killing powerful monsters, it’s surprising one of the more active endeavors undertaken by Elden Ring players is finding illusory walls of all shapes and sizes. Illusory walls are secret passages that open upon being struck with a weapon. They’ve been a feature present in Demon’s Souls games since the beginning of the franchise.

This falls under achievements that are sort-of-official: Elden Ring’s illusory walls can be revealed in a hit or two — and they’re meant to be found — but it’s not really a main objective to find all of them or even compulsory to your playthrough.

But through the power of memes, players elevated finding illusory walls to a serious task. At first, players left trolling messages in front of fake walls. But then, famously, Reddit user Teristam hit a wall 50 times and found a fake wall that crumpled away to be a real illusory wall — this led players to speculate about what other fake walls could reveal actual passageways. A bug was responsible for the phenomenon, however, and has since been patched.

Teristam wasn’t alone in his wall-testing endeavors. “I spent a good amount of time checking walls in the Elden Ring [during my first playthrough of 180 hours],” Elden Ring player Theanykey21 tells Fanbyte. His strategy was to check any path that ended in a wall or slanted rocks that ended at cliff faces. Theanykey21 actually found another glitched wall that opened upon multiple hits in the same area as the one Teristam found. It opened up to an already open room.

His favorite real illusory wall that he found was the one that connected the Frenzied Flame area into the Deeproot Depths. “[You’ve] got to love a fake wall that opens up into an entire other area of the game,” Theanykey21 says.

Genshin Impact: Killing Timmie’s birds

Ah, Timmie. Poor Timmie. Legions of players like killing his pigeon friends and, for those more diabolical, testing out new character kits on them — and he’s helpless to stop us.

Timmie is a NPC who hangs out on the bridge to Mondstadt, the first area in Genshin Impact, and has a flock of pigeon friends always in front of him. Players at some point get a daily commission where they learn that Timmie really cares about his bird friends. And if you kill them, you’ll get a daily commission the next day to apologize to him.

It’s now a time-honored tradition to kill Timmie’s birds in creative ways and figure out which character kits can kill his pigeons in one fell swoop. It’s actually a smart test to see how a character’s AoE attack can work, if they even have any. For instance, it’s hard to use Xingqiu to kill the pigeons because he doesn’t have the right kit as a support character. But others like Kazuha are very effective.

Genshin Impact Timmie

Swaggs, the creator and moderator of subreddit r/FuckTimmie, explained how he got into killing birds and says, “The birds literally greet you in Mondstadt with their delicious meat.” Fair enough.

It also helps that fowl meat is an important ingredient in creating a dish useful to new players, the Sweet Madame. Another Genshin player, Luwy C. says, “After getting Amber, I tried out her archer and Baron Bunny mechanics on the birds. That’s when the tradition of testing out a character’s kit on Timmy’s precious feathery friends started for me.”

In memorable pigeon destruction moments, Luwy C. held a, er, murderous welcome for the new character she obtained. Luwy pushed the Unusual Hilichurl to the Mondstadt bridge and “demolished” him along with Timmy’s birds in celebration of getting Ganyu. Swaggs says he admired the person who flew their character half-way around the map to just execute the pigeons in an aerial attack — the most up-voted post on r/Fucktimmie.

Here’s hoping Mihoyo will give Timmie an extended storyline in the future. Maybe he’ll get more feathered friends?

Among Us: Hide and Seek mode

Among Us is a party game and rose to meteoric heights of popularity during 2019. It’s format is pretty straightforward: a crew of players are trying to make sure they survive in outer space. One of the players is an imposter who is responsible for sabotaging and killing other players. The goal is to find out who the imposter is and kill them.

With such an uncomplicated scenario, Among Us leaves much room for player-made tweaks. One of the more popular alternative playstyles is called Hide and Seek, and it’s essentially playing Among Us like a slasher movie.

While the Among Us devs have an official Hide and Seek mode coming in the future, the community has already created its own version of Hide and Seek. The alternate ruleset took off with a Reddit post announcing a Hide and Seek room. In this mode, there is no reporting of bodies or community meetings, and players essentially keep doing tasks until the end. Imposters can win by successfully killing everybody, and crewmates can win by finishing all their tasks.

You could argue that some of these don’t fit the definition of “achievement” — which normally involves a concrete objective for an acknowledgement or reward, and the above don’t really have a “reward.” But it’s that certain nebulous complication of what an “achievement” means that makes organic ones so fun. Is discovering a real fake wall in the Elden Ring an achievement? Is finding creative ways to kill Timmie’s birds in Genshin Impact an achievement?

Yes, community members answered emphatically. On some level, these unofficial achievements are also related to figuring out and playing with the very material and reality of games. “I absolutely love glitch hunting in games, sequence breaking, boundary clipping, time skipping,” Elden Ring player N says. “All of the stuff where you get to see what the game is really made of, and how you can exploit it.”