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FF1: Dawn of Souls - Hard Mode

Hack of Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls


Important: Please read the patching instructions before trying to play this hack.

This is a hard difficulty hack of Final Fantasy 1 - Dawn of Souls. No changes were made to FF2. It is based off of Ludmeister’s “Mod of Balance” version 2.2 hack, so it is required that you download and apply that first. Please read the Set-up Instructions below, or check the readme document. You must follow the steps. :)

The reason for me basing this off his 2.2 version is because after his 3.0 update, he radically changed the “Job System” by allowing you to choose any of the 12 classes from the beginning of the game. For those that didn’t like that, he recommended downloading version 2.2 which used the original Job change mechanic, but lacked some of the new updates. The goal for this hack was to combine all the updates from version 3.0 and up, and put them into version 2.2. (minus the 12 Job feature, of course) While not everything made the cut, there is plenty more that’s been added to make the adventure fresh and challenging. (well, hopefully!)

One thing you’ll notice right away is stats being listed in-game for each weapon and armor piece. You’ll know exactly what it offers, without having to look them up in the readme document. :) You’ll also notice that this version is much harder in difficulty - which is the most important part!

This project was originally intended for personal use only, but a lot of work ended up being done to make the experience new. Thanks goes to Ludmeister for his fantastic work on DoS, and his Mod of Balance! Thank you!

What’s New?

  • Much harder difficulty.
  • More enemies inflict status ailments with their basic attacks. They were assigned based on the monster’s habitat, or design, so they don’t feel out of place.
  • Enemy stats increased; HP, Atk, Def, Eva, Etc. Bosses have a lot more health so they don’t feel like weakling pushovers. Of course if you grind, no enemy will offer a challenge.
  • Enemy AI; Added spells and abilities to some enemy AI tables. Also increased/decreased the attack rates for some enemies.
  • Enemy encounters; Some enemies were relocated or removed from certain maps in the game. The rare monsters in stock FF1 DoS are even more rare.
  • Enemy loot; Each monster has treasure, and that treasure was given to monsters at strategically chosen points of the game to allow you to get benefits from grinding - If you love that sort of thing. Gear scales accordingly and is fair.
  • Character stats; Lower starting stats for each character.
  • Stat growth; Rebalanced the gains of Accuracy and Magic Defense when you level up. Other stats, such as Strength, Agility, etc., are unchanged.
  • New weapons; Some weapons in the stock game were kinda useless, so they have new stats, gfx, skills, magic abilities, etc. They are rare, though, since they are ultimate weapons now.
  • New Armor; Some new armors that are worth your time to find. Also, each armor piece provides HP and MP % boosts. Find the best ones!
  • New Spells; changed the properties of a few spells, made some new ones.
  • Greatly increased MP costs of magic; You’ll feel the pressure early on, and you won’t be able to stack those Tempers to 1-shot bosses. The goal was to give the feeling of limited MP like original NES FF1. (to some extent at least, hopefully it succeeds)
  • Swapped the contents of a few treasure chests; This made some items even more rare. (for example, Genji Armor can’t be found in a chest anymore)
  • Item descriptions include various stats (atk, def, crit%, etc.) Now you can make an informed decision as to what weapon/armor you want to buy. As a result, of course, all flavor text is gone.
  • Item/magic prices have been increased.
  • You can no longer buy Phoenix Downs from shops. They are dropped by various enemies as loot, instead. Refer to the read me for the best drop rates.
  • Drastically increased the drop rates for enemy loot. The ultimate weapons/armor still have low rates, though, cause they are awesome.
  • Shops have smaller inventories.
  • The caravan sells plus items, but at high prices. This is for the end-game, when you earn lots of gil.
  • Renamed a few enemies/items/spells/equipment/stuff. Redid a lot of item descriptions, as well.
  • Many other small things; re-balancing stuff, etc.
  • For more info, please read the read me. It’s like a miniature guide to the many changes.

Ludmeister’s Mod of Balance Features:

  • HP and MP caps increased from 999 to 9999.
  • Stat caps increased from 99 to 255.
  • Number of hits and Magic Defense are displayed in the character status screen.
  • Hit rate cap removed so characters can hit more times per attack.
  • Increased exp required for leveling up.
  • Stat-boosting spell stacks are capped at 50, instead of 255. (spells like Temper and Protect)
  • Dia spells now affect undead and evil foes.
  • Added enemy encounters to Astos’ castle.
  • A few other minor changes to the game’s mechanics/formulae. You can read about them in Ludmeister’s mod description.

Set-up Instructions:

  • 1: Download Ludmeister’s Mod of Balance 2.2 version. The file version at says version 3.0, but it includes version 2.2 in the same package. You can also download 2.2 from Ludmeister’s website, as well.
  • 2: Next, apply the 2.2 Mod of Balance patch to a clean Dawn of Souls rom. Download LunarIPS to apply the patch.
  • 3: After you apply Ludmeister’s 2.2 Mod of Balance, apply my hack on top of that same rom.
  • 4: Done!

It’s very important that you first apply Mod of Balance version 2.2, before applying my hack. If you try to apply my hack to a clean rom, there will be many item/magic bugs, and other weird things. If you can buy Genji Armor in Cornelia’s armor shop, you didn’t patch it right. ;) Also, another way to see if you patched it correctly is check your starting gil for a new game. It should be 300 gil. The reason for the glitches is because ludmeister made a lot of changes to various pointers. So my hack relies on that, and even changes them further in a couple of instances.

ROM / ISO Information:

  • No information available.




ContributorType of contributionListed credit

User Review Information

Great for diehard hardcore fans, too grindy for casual runs

Reviewed By: DrewDragoon on 14 May 2019

This will be my first review on so it feels great to leave some feedback. I’ve been playing mods/hacks off here for years and years but never felt the urge to make an account till recently. Anyways, onto my thoughts about FF1 Hard Mode!

I love Final Fantasy 1. I think it’s because of how simple the game is combined with the replay-ability in the party selection. I wanted to replay this gem again and was going to choose the PSP version, until I checked here and saw the GBA version had some cool mods.

The party I chose was: Knight, Thief, Red Mage, White Mage

I’m going to briefly go over my adventure, with a list of pros and cons at the bottom for people wanting a short rundown. Skip below if this happens to be you.

This was to make use of most equips in the game including the Excalibur and Masamune. Knight for tanking, Thief for buffing (post job adv), Red Mage for buffing and healing or using items whatever he needed to do and White Mage for healing of course.

The beginning starts out a bit rough, if you decide to spend your money on weapons/spells instead of armor. Getting to level 2 takes a bit of luck, but you should be ok after that point. In the vanilla game I’d usually grind to about level 3 or 4 before taking on Garland. In this mode though I didn’t even feel safe around town at those levels. It wasn’t until about level 6 or 7 that I went to defeat Garland. This was probably an early warning sign that this mod was a bit too overtuned for difficulty, but I decided to press on and see how Astos felt before making any judgments.

I’m the type of player who tends to over level and grind a lot, to be fully and adequately prepared. In the vanilla game I’d farm up around Elfheim until about level 10 or 11 to be able to afford all the goodies. I think in hard mode I was about level 15 or 16ish until I went in to grab the chests from the Marsh Cave. Overall, this part of the game felt great for my playstyle. Astos wasn’t too bad, if you have Healara and Temper going. I should mention that I always felt throughout the majority of the game I never had enough money. This stayed this way until I grinded Red Dragons for Elixirs, which happened to give a good amount of Gil.

My first major gripe with the game came with the Earth Cavern. So many enemies turn you to stone, sometimes before you can even act depending on your agility. I often times either saved before an obvious encounter or spammed the run away command because the enemies simply weren’t worth fighting. I farmed in the giant’s hallway for a few levels, knowing I’d need the Goliath Tonics later in the game. I think I got around 30 of them. I know you could equip Iron shields to ward off Stone, but in the vanilla game I believe you could buy softs in Elfheim. For some reason they were moved to Crescent Lake along with the Stona spell, so I’d highly recommend dropping by there beforehand. I think I was around level 28-30 for the Lich. Quite a bit of grinding in that hallway. This will become a common theme in this mode.

Ice cavern was pretty easy, I had grown accustomed to the mod at this point. Evil Eye was nerfed, so I didn’t bother farming him. Forgot to mention I made a habit early on of checking the bestiary for what enemies drop, so I could save Gil since I was always low on it for most of the game. I farmed an Ashura katana from one of the mobs here as well as a couple Mage Hats. Finally I had the airship! Time to job advance!

The Citadel of Trials wasn’t too bad really. There was a nasty encounter in there though with a full screen of (I forget the mob’s name) but a bird that could instant death you. Often it felt like RNG if I could run away or just die. Was never worth fighting. There was probably equips that could ward death, but I don’t recall having any at that point in the game. IIRC I was around level 35 at job advance.

Fire Cavern is where I did most of my grinding and is also home to my preferred spot, even late game. Fire elementals here drop phoenix downs and unlike earth ones cannot stone you. I found them to be nice exp and easy to kill, especially with icebrand swords. At the end of the dungeon is a spot right before the (ice shield? or ice armor I forget) where you fight one or two fire dragons. Very important since they give 1k Gil each and can drop Elixirs (you will need lots of these) I farmed there until about level 50ish I think. Maralith was easy, imo the easiest of the four fiends.

Next up was the Water Shrine. I forgot how confusing this place was to navigate. I actually forgot one of the ribbons here the first time around and only found it on my second time down. (I died to Kraken the first time, so I decided to go through the Earth bonus Shrine area) One of my biggest gripes with this hard mode is how hard Kraken’s Physicals hit. He was hitting my level 55ish Knight, who had optimum equipment for this point in the game for upwards of 1600! Yikes! I had to go grind both levels and Goliath Tonics. I also decided to grab the final white magics and also go through the Mirage Tower and Sky Fortress for better equips. By the time I returned I was about level 70 with the Excalibur and Iga Blade and I powered through him, with a combination of Goliath Tonics, the Pray spell and the Shell spell. IMO he was the hardest fiend by a good margin.

I killed Tiamat pretty much immediately afterwards, around level 75 by the time I got back up to him. Wasn’t too bad, he didn’t hit as hard as Kraken which I found odd. Did I mention this mod removed the Full-Life spell? Atleast I’m fairly sure it did, because it wasn’t in the town Lufenia. That alone makes all these endgame fights really a battle to stay alive, especially when you’re getting one shot before you can use your defensive buffs.

I didn’t bother trying to fight Warmech. It was around the Water Shrine, when the game really had worn me down and I was trying to just power through to complete it so I could say to myself I did. I wasn’t having fun anymore, because fights felt both RNG dependent and super reliant on a very specific equip loadout as well as farming items such as Goliath Tonic and Elixirs. I shudder for anyone trying this with a less than optimal party selection. I honestly doubt it is able to be completed except with only a few party rosters. I’d love to be proven wrong on that one.

Finally, I was ready for the Chaos Shrine. Here I was level 80s, three ribbons, 99 Hi-Potions and Elven Mists, 40ish Phoenix Downs, 60ish Goliath Tonics and around 30 Elixirs. I figured I was over prepared, right? Wrong. Getting to Chaos wasn’t too bad. I grabbed the Masamune and made quick work of the Fiends. Well, not quick but I beat them easily. Which, by the way they now drop new gear. I forget them all but it was stuff better than I had on. I didn’t want to bother with lengthy boss fights just for a small chance of getting one single equip. I figured you know what I’ll buff up, use all I have and mop up Chaos and call it a day. Well… about that…

First of all he regens 3,000 HP per turn. Yeah… He also hits super hard and can dispel you. Did I mention he casts haste and temper on himself? I tried slow on him 3 times but all missed, so I assume he’s immune to it. I couldn’t afford anymore turns to try. I started off slowly spamming Goliath tonics to get myself to around 2800-3000 HP for everybody. I casted protera when it wore off and shell when I could spare the turn. I finally got everyone buffed up defensively, so I started buffing offensively. I used Inspire, then Haste, then Temper on both my Knight and Ninja. Time to cut him to shreads, oh yeah. Wait, what? 700 damage? 800 damage? what?! Yeah… With my guys level 84, with Excalibur, Masamune and several buffs they couldn’t even outdamage his self regen, let alone do enough to kill him. To make things worse he eventually used Dispel followed by Flare and killed two of my party members. (from Max HP around 2800)

At this point I decided to quit and write this review. It is painfully obvious to me this mod is just quite frankly “too hard”. I don’t consider myself a casual player. I’ve beaten this game dozens of times, every entry in this franchise and hundreds of other RPGs. I’m 28 years old and I’ve been playing RPGs since I was around 5.

I think Chaos is balanced around you being level 99 and having ALL of the ultimate gear from the bonus dungeons. There’s really no other explanation for my experience, really. I had already grinded for hours upon hours (with turbo mode by the way) and I simply didn’t think grinding through all of that was worth my time.

What a shame, sigh…

So, to summarize my thoughts:


  • I loved that equipment had detailed descriptions showing it’s att, acc, crit rate, element, bonus stats as well as what additional effect it had. That was great!
  • Buffs, debuffs, item effects and gear effects were either mandatory or extremely rewarded.
  • I could throw everything I had at bosses and they often went down just when I was about to lose, very satisfying.


  • Way way too grindy. I played with turbo mode and I had to do hours and hours of grinding even on Turbo. The description made it sound like you could grind away the challenge, but you really can’t. After the Fire Crystal, the game is masochistic.
  • I doubt this game is fully complete-able (as in defeat Chaos and all extra dungeon bosses) with every party. Limits the party selection extremely!!!
  • The Caravan sells stat up items, which would be very cool and alleviate the extreme difficulty the endgame super-bosses pose, except… they cost 100k each. Hope you like even more grinding…
  • Shouldn’t have removed Full-Life spell (unless I missed it?) and Ethers should be purchasable in Gaia or some late game town.
  • Gil is a bit too tight overall.

My suggestions to the mod creator:

  • Tone down boss/mob stats to the point where excessive grinding isn’t required. FF1 isn’t a very complex RPG. You can only do so much strategy in equip loadout, proper buff/debuffs and item usage. After that though you just need raw numbers and requiring the player to be max level to beat the storyline boss is absurd. This mindset should have been with the optional final boss in the extra dungeons, not Chaos.
  • I’d lower the EXP curve after the opening parts of the game. I felt the level curve was fine up until after Astos. (until around level 15-20) but after this point you should let players level slightly faster.
  • Perhaps buff the Gil rewards from mobs that have unusually small amounts, so farming set encounter spots isn’t the optimal method. Farming Piscodemons for Magical Robes or Wraiths for Kotetsu swords or whatever.
  • Increase item rewards from mobs (since their usage is required to complete your game unlike the vanilla version) but of course I’d change around the mobs that drop extremely good gear or make their odds lower.

My idea of a great hard mode for this game would be something like:

  • Buff mob stats around 25-30% from the vanilla game
  • Same with bosses, though I’d triple or quadruple their HP

You could also do a ton of mob rebalancing since a lot of them aren’t worth fighting and others drop overpowered items or give a lot of EXP/Gil for how hard they are but that would be a ton more effort.

Final thoughts I guess are the mod was overtuned. If you are a hardcore fan who loves grinding to max level and grinding 99 of items from monsters and using absolutely everything the game allows you to barely win then you will enjoy this mod. If you want FF1 but slightly more challenging, this will frustrate you sometime around the Earth Cavern or beyond. As of now, I would suggest playing the Mod of Balance patch by itself, until the author decides to make changes which who knows if that will ever happen.

I never would have even got as far as I did if I hadn’t used turbo mode and a mod should never be balanced around the idea the player will be using such a thing.

Despite all the criticism I’m glad this exists. Maybe one day I’ll feel like grinding it out or maybe somebody out there enjoys this kind of experience. Just want to say thank you for the work on this project and I hope to see more mods of this great game. (perhaps the PSP version?!)

Cheers and thanks for reading.

  • Andrew

Version 1.2 Recommended - No

User Reviews
A good effort, but misses the markRed88Rex09 Feb 20201.2No
Great for diehard hardcore fans, too grindy for casual runsDrewDragoon14 May 20191.2No
My thoughts over a brief experience.Vuubik07 Oct 20171.2Yes