Final Fantasy 13-2 Crystarium, Roles and Paradigms Guide

How to level up Crystarium, tune Paradigm Decks and master roles in Final Fantasy 13-2.

Xan Hisam – The battle mechanics and the character growth/development system in Final Fantasy XIII-2 work much like they did in its predecessor, with minor tweaks and new features added almost everywhere. In this guide, we’ll be covering the new crystarium, the 6 character roles and paradigms.

All sections of this guide are accompanied with a quick overview of the subject in question to better explain the aforementioned elements to those unacquainted with them from the previous game.

Table of Contents

  1. Crystarium Leveling
  2. Role Analysis
  3. Paradigm Shifts and Tuning
  4. Paradigm DecksFor Two Players and Three Players

Final Fantasy 13-2 Crystarium Leveling

The crystarium is a grid filled with crystalline nodes, each containing various stat bonuses or abilities that you can acquire by utilizing crystogenesis points in order to strengthen your characters. To simplify things, crystogenesis points are like experience points that are gained by defeating monsters and enemies.

These points are then used inside the crystarium to unlock abilities, improving stats and other bonuses.
In Final Fantasy XIII, each of the six roles had their own crystariums. Final Fantasy XIII-2 however, has a single crystarium in which you level up roles yourself, though both of the main characters (and monsters) have their own separate crystariums.

The crystarium functions differently from how it did in Final Fantasy XIII as well. You infuse a node with any one of the roles available to you to level them up. The stat bonuses gained and the abilities unlocked are dependent on the role being leveled along with the size of the node being used, and the level of the role respectively.

Leveling up a role requires crystogenesis points. The amount of crystogenesis points needed increases as you progress in the crystarium.

Bonus Stats and Large Nodes
When leveling roles on large nodes, you gain bonus stats. For optimization of stats for your characters, level the roles which give you your desired stats on large nodes only. The following chart states the increase in stats when roles are leveled on large nodes:

Role Stat Bonuses
Commando (COM) +2 Strength
Ravager (RAV) +2 Magic
Medic (MED) +6 Health
Sentinel (SEN) +6 Health
Synergist (SYN) +6 Health (E)*/+2 Magic (O)*
Saboteur (SAB) +2 Strength (E)*/+2 Magic (O)*

*The SYN and SAB roles give different stat bonuses depending on whether the number of the next level is an odd number or an even number. In the above chart, the ‘(E)’ after a stat means that you gain that bonus on even levels and the ‘(O)’ means that the bonus is gained on odd levels.

Crystarium Abilities
Once you’ve spent enough CP (crystogenesis points) on leveling roles, you’ll advance to the next stage in the crytarium. At this point, you’ll be able to unlock new roles (not all of the six roles are available to characters right from the start) or get other different bonuses.

Each crystarium stage requires more CP to be spent in order to progress to the next stage than the previous one. The bonuses (more on role specific bonuses later) that can be gained and the unlockable roles are:

  • ATB+1 – Adds an additional bar to your character’s ATB gauge (up to a maximum of 5 bars).
  • Unlock SAB – Unlocks the Saboteur role.
  • Unlock SYN – Unlocks the Synergist role.
  • Unlock MED – Unlocks the Medic role.
  • COM Bonus Boost – Improves the bonus for the Commando role.
  • RAV Bonus Boost – Improves the bonus for the Ravager role.
  • SEN Bonus Boost – Improves the bonus for the Sentinel role.
  • MED Bonus Boost – Improves the bonus for the Medic role.
  • SYN Bonus Boost – Improves the bonus for the Synergist role.
  • SAB Bonus Boost – Improves the bonus for the Saboteur role.
  • Increase Accessory – Increases your character’s capacity for wearing accessories, allowing you to wear more or better accessories.
  • Ultima Arrow (Serah only) – Full ATB attack for Serah. Added to the RAV role as an active ability.
  • Meteor Javelin (Noel only) – Full ATB attack for Noel. Added to the COM role as an active ability.

Monster Crystariums
Every tamable creature in Final Fantasy XIII-2 has its own crystarium. The way their crystarium works is, however, different from the game’s main characters. Since all monsters are limited to one role, their crystarium is more like a preset path similar to Final Fantasy XIII’s crystariums.

Go to next page for Role Analysis, Paradigm Shifts and Recommended Decks.

Special materials are infused into nodes on their crystarium that grant stat bonuses. These stat bonuses are dependent on a monster’s traits and personality as well as the components used to level them up. Abilities are unlocked when you reach certain nodes on a monster’s crystarium.

Final Fantasy 13-2 Role Analysis

Final Fantasy XIII-2 carries over the same roles from the first game. For those unfamiliar with roles, they are the equivalent of ‘Classes’. The only difference is that no character is limited to any role, and roles can be switched on-the-fly during a battle to best suit your needs.

There are a total of six roles: Commando (COM), Ravager (RAV), Sentinel (SEN), Medic (MED), Synergist (SYN) and Saboteur (SAB).

Each role has its own bonuses. These bonuses; known as role bonuses, grant various benefits to the party member using the role as well as the rest of the party. The bonus boost ability from the crystarium abilities further enhances these bonuses.

Commando (COM)
COMs employ the use of non-elemental attacks to deal massive amounts of damage. Attacks by COMs stabilize the chain gauge and they can maintain them for longer periods, allowing the rest of your party to fill it up and ‘Stagger’ your target. The COM role bonus increases the damage dealt by all spells and attacks.

Role Bonus Damage Boost (Self) Damage Boost (Allies) Damage Boost With Berserker’s Ruby (Self Only)
Default 100% 5% 105%
Bonus Boost I 110% 5% 115%
Bonus Boost II 120% 8% 125%

Ravager (RAV)
RAVs are great at quickly building up the chain gauge, consequently increasing the damage they deal with every subsequent attack. Any and all increases to the chain gauge made by a RAV deplete extremely fast, however, with help of a COM, RAVs can stagger a foe the fastest.

RAVs can target an enemy’s weakness to further increase the rate at which they raise the chain gauge using elemental attacks. RAV’s role bonus boosts the rate at which the chain gauge rises.

Role Bonus Chain Boost (Self) Chain Boost (Allies) Chain Boost With Blaster’s Sapphire (Self Only)
Default +1.0% +0.1% +1.5%
Bonus Boost I +2.0% +0.1% +2.5%
Bonus Boost II +3.0% +0.2% +3.5%

Sentinel (SEN)
SENs are the team’s tanks. They are capable of withstanding a great deal of damage, and have higher resistance against status ailments and attacks that might disable party members in other roles.

They can taunt enemies into attacking them instead of the other party members, freeing up the others to focus on attacking. However, the ‘Provoke’ effect wears off immediately if a SEN shifts roles. A SEN’s role bonus increases damage resistance to physical and magical attacks as well as ‘Wound’ damage.

Role Bonus (Normal/Wound) Damage Reduction (Self) (Normal/Wound) Damage Reduction (Allies) (Normal/Wound) Damage Reduction With Defender’s Topaz (Self Only)
Default -40%/-30% -7%/-5% -43%/-33%
Bonus Boost I -45%/-33% -7%/-5% -48%/-36%
Bonus Boost II -50%/-36% -9%/-7% -53%/-39%

Medic (MED)
MEDs focus on healing other party members and cure status ailments. They are also capable of reviving team members that have fallen in battle. MED’s role bonus increases the effectiveness of healing spells. This effect is cumulative with other similar abilities such as a SEN’s ‘Mediguard’.

Role Bonus Healing Boost (Self) Healing Boost (Allies) Healing Boost With Healer’s Emerald (Self Only)
Default +10% +5% +15%
Bonus Boost I +20% +5% +25%
Bonus Boost II +30% +8% +35%

Synergist (SYN)
SYN is a support role that concentrates on augmenting party’s defensive and offensive prowess by casting different magics. SYNs can imbue non-elemental attacks with any element, enabling allied members using roles such as COM to exploit an enemy’s weakness as well.

Any buffs that a SYN casts have fixed duration and fade away once the timer expires. The duration on these buffs can be increased further via accessories and abilities. The role bonus for SYNs extends the duration of all their status enhancements as well.

Role Bonus Duration Boost (Self) Duration Boost (Allies) Duration Boost With Supporter’s Ruby (Self Only)
Default +0% +5% +20%
Bonus Boost I +15% +5% +35%
Bonus Boost II +30% +8% +50%

Saboteur (SAB)
SABs are all about weakening enemies, and excel at inflicting status ailments. They can also nullify status enhancements by casting ‘Dispel’ or the opposite status ailment. SABs are good at maintaining chain gauges but their spells deal marginally less damage in comparison to other more offensive roles.

SABs are the only ones capable of inflicting ‘Wound’ damage, making them good at extended fights. The SAB’s role bonus increases success rate for inflicting debuffs.

Role Bonus Success Rate Boost (Self) Success Rate Boost (Allies) Success Rate Boost With Impeder’s Opal (Self Only)
Default +0% +5% +20%
Bonus Boost I +15% +5% +35%
Bonus Boost II +30% +8% +50%

The cumulative effect for role bonuses when multiple active party members use the same role is usually additive and not multiplicative, except for the Sentinel (SEN) role bonus. Certain items can augment a role’s bonus even more. Refer to individual role charts for more information.

Final Fantasy 13-2 Paradigm Shifts and Deck Tuning

Changing roles mid-battle from a selection of presets is called ‘Paradigm Shift’ in Final Fantasy 13-2. ‘Paradigm Shift’ is a fundamental part of gameplay in Final Fantasy XIII-2, and pretty much decides the outcome of a battle.

There’s no limit to how many times you can switch roles, or when you can shift roles. You are however, limited to choosing from 6 presets when shifting in a battle. These presets can be customized within the in-game menu when not in a battle and are part of your ‘Paradigm Deck’.

Paradigms can be customized further in Final Fantasy XIII-2 by ‘Tuning’ them when creating a preset in the deck. Tuning lets you tweak the behavior for AI-controlled characters more to your liking by allowing you to alter their targeting and spell-selection priorities.

Go to next page for Paradigm Tuning and Recommended Paradigm Decks.

You can select from three different settings when creating a preset: Normal, Wide, and Cross. Normal is the standard setting, and your team-mates act much like the way they did in the first game when paradigms are tuned this way.

Ability usage varies from role-to-role, where MEDs prioritize healing the ally with the lowest health, and COMs and RAVs target whoever the party leader attacks.

In Wide, party members focus on using area of effect abilities and each member fights a different target. Wide is effective when enemies are in high numbers, and are relatively weak.

When a paradigm is tuned with Cross, all party members focus on killing the same enemy, employing single target, heavy damage abilities to make quick work of it.

Recommended Paradigm Decks

Early in the game, you don’t have all roles unlocked, nor can you tame any monsters to add as the third member of your party.

You’ll be using presets of two paradigms at this point, and that too with just a few roles. Use the following roles when you have two party members (no need for tuning, just stick with Normal):

Double Trouble (COM – COM)
Having two COMs lets you dispatch a single enemy quickly. Use this after getting the chain gauge high or staggering an opponent to deal a lot of damage.

Slash & Burn (COM – RAV)
Set this preset as your default paradigm so that you start battles with it. Only on certain monsters will you ever need to begin a fight with a different preset early in the game. Use this paradigm to build up the chain gauge and stagger opponents.

I’d advise shifting to a different preset after an enemy is staggered rather than continuing on with this preset as other settings can be more effective. Assigning Serah with the RAV role and Noel with COM role is recommended, but it ultimately depends on how you’re leveling which character.

Dualcaster (RAV – RAV)
Both characters focus on repeatedly casting spells on their enemies (and exploiting their weaknesses, if possible), consequently increasing chain gauge at an incredibly fast rate. Since RAVs can’t maintain the chain gauge for long, this paradigm is best used after a foe is staggered to further increase the damage multiplier.

Shift to this preset as soon as you stagger a foe, use it for a bit to improve the multiplier, and then shift to Double Trouble for maximum damage. I suggest using this mostly on bosses, or enemies that take too long to die, avoid shifting to this paradigm otherwise.

Misdirection (COM – SEN)
Toggle this paradigm to decrease incoming damage, while maintaining the chain gauge. Hardly required in early battles, you’ll be using this preset mostly in boss battles to reduce damage from any special attacks that a boss monster might have in its repertoire.

Shift to this when you’ve anticipated an incoming heavy damage ability, and switch back to whichever paradigm you were using before once you’ve blocked the attack.

War and Peace (COM – MED)
Only applicable after you’ve unlocked the MED role for at least one character. Try to use this paradigm only in extreme situations. The COM can maintain the chain gauge on a foe while you heal.

Once you’ve recovered enough health and/or cured party members from any and all status ailments, shift to some other offensive paradigm. Spend as little time as you can in this paradigm to achieve high battle ratings.

Yin and Yang (RAV – MED)
Same as before and only applicable after you’ve unlocked the MED role. The only difference is that instead of maintaining, the RAV concentrates on raising the chain gauge. Keep shifting between War and Peace and Yin and Yang when healing up in order to successfully stagger a foe in less time.

You probably might unlock the MED role around the time monster taming becomes available to you, so the last two of the aforementioned presets aren’t necessary (or always probable), although it is possible to fight with only two party members by not adding any monsters to your paradigm deck even after monster taming is introduced.

There are no benefits of doing so, however, and battles after this point are more or less designed for a party of three. Once you’ve added a few monsters to your roster, equip any three, as you can only equip any three at any given point.

These equipped monsters can be added to your paradigm preset. Remember that three monsters mean three roles for your paradigm deck.

Go to next page for the Paradigm Decks when you have successfully tamed a monster to increase your party-size to 3.

Try to pick monsters that suit your play-style and complement your party composition. You should find the following paradigms effective in a variety of situations:

Relentless Assault-W (COM – RAV – RAV)
This should be your default paradigm, as its effective in most average battles. The COM maintains the chain gauge on enemies while the RAVs batter them with spells allowing for quick staggers on multiple enemies.

The preset is best suited for weak enemies that are found in greater numbers and nets you a high battle rating by defeating all enemies in an extremely brief period.

The Wide tuning on the paradigm makes it less efficient for single target combat, and a Normal version can be used for boss fights and other strong enemies.

Delta Attack-X (COM – RAV – SEN)
The SEN generates high amounts of threat and taunts enemies to attack him instead of other team members. This leaves the RAV and COM open for taking the enemy out without being interrupted or going low on health.

The Cross tuning makes it optimal for burst-killing a single enemy, usually the one because of which you actually require a SEN for blocking and reducing damage.

I wouldn’t recommend making use of this paradigm unless there are enemies in a battle that hit really hard or inflict status ailments that disable party members in some way.

Cerberus-X (COM – COM – COM)
Having three COMs in one paradigm greatly increases the damage dealt by the whole team as the COM role bonus for ‘Self’ and ‘Allies’ additively improves total damage output. Optimally used after a foe is staggered, and the damage multiplier is boosted quite a bit prior to shifting to Cerberus-X.

The Cross tuning goes perfectly with the primary objective of the preset, as its purpose is to make the most of the staggered state of an enemy and dealing the maximum amount of damage possible in the least amount of time. Great against bosses and exceptionally strong monsters. Quite useless in most cases if used otherwise.

Decimation (COM – RAV – SYN)
The COM and RAV concentrate on defeating enemies while the SYN buffs them up with status enhancements. A good preset for starting difficult fights where the SYN’s status enhancements are key for getting a high battle rating.

Switch to a different paradigm after the SYN has bestowed all the status enhancements he can, or the ones you need so that that member of the party doesn’t waste time standing idly by.

You can switch back to this paradigm to refresh the SYN’s status enhancements once they’ve faded or are about to fade. Use Normal tuning since you neither want to focus a single target nor attack multiple enemies at once.

Ruthless (COM – RAV – SAB)
One of the strongest offensive presets, particularly against enemies that are susceptible to status ailments. The COM and RAV attack targets as usual, while the SAB supports them by damaging the enemy and inflicting various debuffs, greatly reducing a foe’s offensive and defensive capabilities.

The preset goes well with Cross tuning, but isn’t always needed as sometimes the SAB might inflict a single target with all possible ailments.

At times like these, it’s in the party’s best interest that the SAB switches targets and casts debuffs on the other enemies, decreasing their prowess in battle substantially as well. Ineffective against enemies immune or resistant to most status ailments.

Diversity (COM – RAV – MED)
The most basic preset for recovering health and removing multiple status ailments. The COM and RAV do their typical chain gauge maintenance and boosting duties respectively, while the MED recovers any health lost by any and all members of the team.

In Normal tuning, the MED prioritizes healing the team member with the least amount of health, therefore making it the optimal setting. Similar to the two-member paradigms Yin and Yang and War and Peace, staying in this role for an extended period unnecessarily adversely affects the final battle rating.

Tri-Disaster-X (RAV – RAV – RAV)
The primary objective for this preset is the same as for Dualcaster from the recommended two-member paradigms. Best used right after an enemy is staggered, all three RAVs focus fire single target spells on the same target to raise the damage multiplier as high as they can in the least possible time.

The Cross tuning makes sure that the RAVs target the same enemy and don’t cast heavy area of effect spells that cost a greater number of ATB bars. Shift to a different preset (preferably Cerberus-X) after the RAVs have raised the damage multiplier enough.

Consider the time left before the stagger state expires when shifting, as you will need some time to make use of the damage multiplier before it ends.

Salvation-W (MED – MED – MED)
Fastest way for recovering is to use this preset. The Wide tuning makes all the MEDs use area of effect heal spells and can get to maximum health in just a few seconds.

The times you’ll actually be using this paradigm are few and rare, however, and it’s not exactly a requirement for any fight, ever! It does make getting a high battle rating in some difficult fights quite easy though.

Combat Clinic (SEN – MED – MED)
In this paradigm, the SEN draws all enemies and damage towards himself, while the MEDs concentrate on rapidly healing party members.

This preset is effective in some scenarios, specifically fights in which the enemy deals massive damage with area of effect abilities.

In that case, your best bet is to continually switch between this preset and some other offensive paradigm for surviving and then damaging the enemy in that small window of opportunity you get.

It is efficient for taking out difficult enemies at a much lower level. Normal tuning suits the paradigm, as healing the team member with the lowest health takes priority.

There are other possibilities too, and they are quite effect and useful under different circumstances so keep experimenting with your paradigm deck and save the presets that you like the most to use them again later. A paradigm deck might not always work in a fight.

Whenever you are finding it hard to defeat a certain enemy, simply analyze and evaluate your weakness in that particular fight and create a paradigm deck structured specifically for that battle alone.

That’s all for now. Feel free to ask any questions or post anything interesting related to the guide in the comments below. We’ll consider your suggestions and add them to the guide if possible. For more on Final Fantasy XIII-2, refer to the other guides here on SegmentNext

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Ali is a passionate RPG gamer. He believes that western RPGs still have a lot to learn from JRPGs. He is editor-in-chief at but that doesn't stop him from writing about his favorite video ...