Phantasy Star and the Raglan Scale

In The Hero (1936), Lord Raglan created a scale of 22 points that the archetypal mythical hero follows. The scale can also be applied to historical, Biblical, and fantasy heroes, though historical heroes tend to score very low, usually no higher than 6.

When I first heard of this scale in my college English 103 Composition II class, and some of the qualities of a classic hero it contains, I immediately thought about Phantasy Star heroes -- specifically, Alis Landale. It sounded like she would rank pretty highly, and so I decided to put her to the test.

Lord Raglan's Characteristics... ...Applied to Alis Landale
1. The hero's mother is a royal virgin Alis's mother was undoubtedly the Queen of Algo, if her father was King. We'll assume they waited until their wedding night and give Alis one point here. Points: 1.
2. His father is a king and... The Governor says, "Alis, your father was once king of Algol." Points: 1.
3. ...often a near relative of the mother, but... We really don't have enough information about Alis's parents to know if this is the case. It could be true, but we don't know. Points: 0.
4. ...the circumstances of his conception are unusual, and... This is another one where the game doesn't really give us enough information, but the chances are unlikely that Alis qualifies here. Points: 0.
5. ...he is also reputed to be the son of a god... Alis is nothing but a girl -- which, in my opinion, is one of the qualities that makes her such a great hero. But it doesn't earn her any points on the Raglan Scale.Points: 0.
6. birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or maternal grandfather, to kill him, but... This one's tricky. Something happened to Alis's father for the throne to go to Lassic, but we just don't have enough information to know what. Chances are, though, this happened sometime after Alis's birth. Points: 0.
7. He is spirited away, and... I think we can definitely give Alis a point here. Points: 1.
8. ...reared by foster-parents in a far country. We don't see them in the game, but Alis had to have foster parents. Points: 1.
9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but... Ah! Phantasy Star's lack of definitive backstory regarding Alis actually earns her a point! Points: 1.
10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom. Alis goes to the Dark Castle and confronts Lassic. I'd say that qualifies! Points: 1.
11. After a victory over the king and or giant, dragon, or wild beast... Alis defeated all four; too bad there's only one point possible per question! Points: 1.
12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and... We don't know who Alis married post-PSI, so no point. Points: 0.
13. ...becomes king. Well, maybe some gamers were out of their minds and thought Alis shouldn't be queen at the end of PSI, but I sure did. Points: 1.
14. For a time he reigns uneventfully and... "The sky gradually clears and the peace is returned to the Algol System." I'd say that's an uneventful reign. Points: 1.
15. ...prescribes laws but... This one is tough, but if Alis is queen, how could she not prescribe laws? Points: 1.
16. ...later loses favor with the gods and or his people and... This is a tough one to call. Looking ahead to number 17, this is obviously supposed to mean that the hero loses favor with his people during his reign. We don't know if that happened to Alis, but we do know that much later, after her death, and after Mother Brain's arrival in Algo, the people "no longer thought that kindly about Alis" according to Lutz. So I think we're going to give Alis a point here. Points: 1.
17. driven from from the throne and the city after which... This one seems unlikely. If it did happen, we have no evidence of it. Points: 0.
18. He meets with a mysterious death, Since we do not know the circumstances surrounding Alis's death, we can't give her a point on this one. She could have died peacefully in her sleep, for all we know. Points: 0.
19. often at the top of a hill. Though we don't know how Alis died, I'm going to give her a point on this one, because the top of a hill does factor into her story in two important ways. First, it is at the top of a hill -- Baya Malay -- where she confronts and defeats Lassic. True, the encounter is in the Dark Castle, but the Castle floats above the mountain, and the trek to the top of the hill is one of the key parts of her journey. Second, after her death, a statue of her is constructed in Termi, and that statue is atop the Hill of the Person of Courage. So... I'm going to go ahead and give Alis a point on this one. Points: 1.
20. His children, if any, do not succeed him. Originally, I gave Alis no point here, because I was thinking literally of Mina as Alis's daughter. But site visitor swifty524 pointed out that Rolf can also be considered Alis's child, in a way. The more I think about it, if Raglan had taken into account epics that take place a millennium apart from one another, he would have give Alis a point on this one, too. Points: 1.
21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless... Once more, not enough information to give a point for this one. Points: 0.
22. ...he has one or more holy sepulchres. Definite point here because of the statue of Alis in Termi in PSIV. Also, it could be argued that Elsydeon also qualifies. Points: 1.

Not bad at all, especially when you consider that Alis was restricted on some points due to lack of information. If we knew more about her birth and her reign as queen, we might be able to give her more points and raise her higher on the scale. As for how other Phantasy Star heroes rank:

By my calculations, Rolf earns points on 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 22. The fact that he is aboard the spaceship that crashes when he is 10 years old, combined with my belief that the crash was no accident at all, qualifies him for #6. Lutz saving his life gets him a point on #7, and since Rolf was obviously raised either in an orphanage or by foster parents after the crash, he gets a point on #8 as well. Final Score: 6

Rolf (if he dies aboard the space ship Noah)
After the initial posting of this essay, Connor McCloud wrote me and said, "Noticed your thing on the Raglan scale, and am unable to not point out that Rolf scores higher if he dies on Noah." Here's two words I never thought would ever come out of my mouth: Connor's right. Of course everyone knows Rolf wiped the floor with the Earthmen on Noah (see Phantasy Star II's Ending), but for purely scholarly, theoretical purposes, let's look at the additional points Rolf racks up if he dies on Noah: he gets #18 for dying a mysterious death; #19, because even though he doesn't die at the top of a hill... a space ship flying high above the planets of Algo is close enough to qualify for me; and #21, because as Connor says, "I doubt the Earthmen take the time to bury him." Final Score: 9

Chaz, like Rolf, scores very low on the scale because he was not born to royal parents and does not become king after slaying his great enemy, both of which factor heavily into scoring high on Raglan's scale. But Rolf earns points because of the early attempt on his life, and the fact that after his death Rolf is in Elsydeon, which qualifies Rolf for #22. The only items Chaz scores on are #8, 9, and 11. This doesn't make Chaz any less of a hero; it just makes him less of a Raglan archetypal hero. Final Score: 3

Rhys (if he marries Lena)
As I stated above, being born into royalty is a huge factor in scoring high on the scale, and so it definitely helps Rhys, making him score on #1 and 2. The lack of information regarding his childhood, his defeat of King Cille, and his marrying of a Princess earn him points on #9, 11, and 12. Later, when he becomes king and reigns over a peaceful land, he scores on #13, 14, and 15. Final Score: 8

Rhys (if he marries Maia)
All of the above apply to this version of Rhys, as well, but this Rhys also scores on #16 and 17 because of the reaction the people of Landen have to his marriage with Maia. Since they more or less hate him for doing this (see Sari), he scores on #16 and though Rhys chooses to stay with Maia in Cille, I don't think he'd be welcome going back, so that qualifies him for #17, as well. Final Score: 10

Here's how other classic heroes score, with the Phantasy Star characters tested here added in for comparison:

Oedipus scores 21
Theseus scores 20
Moses scores 20
Dionysus scores 19
Jesus scores 19
Romulus scores 18
Perseus scores 18
Hercules scores 17
Llew Llaw Gyffes scores 17
Bellerophon scores 16
Jason scores 15
Alis Landale scores 14
Mwindo scores 14
Robin Hood scores 13
Pelops scores 13
Apollo scores 11
Sigurd scores 11
Rhys (if he marries Maia) scores 10
Rolf (if he dies aboard Noah) scores 9
Rhys (if he marries Lena) scores 8
Rolf scores 6
Chaz scores 3

For more information on the Raglan Scale, see this web page.

Other Theory Pages
The Two Phantasy Stars | Separate But Equal

Phantasy Star II's Date | Noah and Lutz
Character Birthdays | Phantasy Star II's Ending | Noah's Gender
Fate of the Worldships | Phantasy Star Online Numans | Phantasy Star Online's Date
Ragol is Not Earth | Why the Earthmen Truly Are Evil | The Whole New World

On the Characters and Story of Phantasy Star I | Phantasy Star and the Raglan Scale
The True Message of Phantasy Star II