fal'Cie are godlike beings possess the power to curse humans, transforming them into 'l'Cie.

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Each Fal'cie was created for a purpose (by one of the Fabula Nova Crysalis mythos's gods - usually either Pulse (Gran Pulse Fal'Cie) or Lindzei (Cocoon Fal'Cie), but note that Lindzei, Pulse, and Etro are themselves referred to as Fal'Cie created by Bhunivelze), and beyond the capacity to transform humans into l'Cie they each have precisely and only the capabilities they need to fulfil that purpose. In this respect, Fal'Cie are the ultimate expression of "form follows function".

One of Orphan's lines suggests that the function in question is the Fal'Cie version of a Focus - but unlike a human-made-l'Cie, they do not have consequences for defying or failing their Focus, but rather are literally incapable of doing so. A Fal'Cie simply cannot take any action that doesn't at least indirectly further its Focus, but its power to act towards that Focus is vast almost beyond comprehension. The problem comes when, like Orphan, "two irreconcilable Focuses [it bears]".

That, despite all the Fal'Cie's manipulation and coercion, humans and l'Cie are far freer than Fal'Cie are is a major underlying theme of the story.

Barthandelus's Focus was to rule Cocoon and orchestrate the attempt to open Etro's Gate - and to do that, he needed to be able to move around and appear human, so he was able to do those things, but he wasn't able to act directly to achieve the second, because it conflicted with the first - hence his need for Anima. Atomos's Focus was excavation as part of terraforming, with a suspected additional agenda of seeking the Gate beneath the earth, both of which again required mobility. Carbuncle's was food production, which doesn't need the ability to move, so all Carbuncle could do was float where it was and manage the hydroponic gardens. Likewise Kujata, with a Focus of generating power for use by Cocoon's populace, was immobile.

Orphan, by the nature of its mode of existence before the end of FFXIII, is a slightly special case, but the same principles apply.

  • Quite an informative answer, but it dragged me to more further questions like: (1) If Fal'cie are "form follows function", can they also be treated as "function follows focus? and (2) How and why Orphan has to have 2 irreconcilable focus? Can't it just be one or many but unified focus? Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 13:48
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    1) yes, but I'd be inclined to argue that for them, function is focus. 2) the preservation of Cocoon and its destruction are irreconcilable Focuses, as both Barthandelus and Orphan itself note. As to why the Focus couldn't be the self-consistent "build up a large human population then use it to throw Etro's Gate wide", we aren't told - but we can speculate that the nature of Fal'Cie means that they decompose such an instruction into simpler terms (in this case, "keep the people of Cocoon safe and numerous" and "make sure that Cocoon can be destroyed, killing all the humans therein")
    – Darael
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 14:07
  • And those then conflict.
    – Darael
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 14:07
  • I quote Orphan: "Two irreconcilable Focuses we bore. Too frail a shell, and humans would not thrive. Too stout a shell, and they would not die".
    – Darael
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 14:09
  • OK. I'll give your answer the upvote for the effort to make things clear, but I still have unconvinced items in mind. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 14:51

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