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Final Fantasy 14's newest class has inspired this buff Bob Ross to spread good vibes and turn the party into happy little clouds

 Buff Ross reclines on a picnic blanket in Elpis.
Buff Ross reclines on a picnic blanket in Elpis.

Running the Crystal Tower alliance raids in duty roulette is normally a mundane affair. Most players are mindlessly powering through this major inconvenience to their daily schedule, hitting Peloton as if their very lives depend on it. That all changed when he came. Glancing at the chat after things got a little hairy, I couldn't believe my eyes as a hench Roegadyn called Buff Ross asserted that, "we don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents."

The party was entranced, hanging on to his every word. "Bob Rossing in MY alliance raid," a player exclaimed, as all tension seemed to dissipate. God forbid, but I think I was actually enjoying the Crystal Tower for once.  This is the Buff Ross effect. Everyone loves him, everyone wants to be him, and he's just happy to be here.

My favourite thing about Final Fantasy 14 is how people in the community will always find new ways to surprise you, and there's nothing better than people who actively try to make the tedious entertaining. For this reason, the Buff Ross experience stuck with me. My curiosity was off the charts, but I figured the odds of seeing Buff Ross again were fairly slim. Maybe this was just a one off? Due to a frankly bizarre and serendipitous turn of fate, within a week I'd encountered him again—and this time, I was ready to breach the inherent awkwardness of sending him a message to find out more.

The Joy of Painting

When Final Fantasy 14's new job, Pictomancer, was announced, the Bob Ross references and memes came thick and fast. The artistic legend's iconic look will undoubtedly be an essential glamour for many players when Dawntrail releases, but Buff Ross is the first player I've encountered taking his Rossiness to the next level.

As you might expect, Pictomancer was also the catalyst for Buff Ross. "I just thought it would be a fun thing to do, to run around using [Bob Ross'] skills to save Eorzea." But it became much more than that. His entire in-game identity changed, far beyond the choice to simply adopt a new name and look. During my time with Buff, I realised that it's one thing to don the 'fro, but another to encapsulate the essence of the king of calm as a playstyle.

Buff Ross, Final Fantasy 14's Bob Ross lookalike.,
Buff Ross, Final Fantasy 14's Bob Ross lookalike.,

Before digging deeper, I asked what he imagined Buff would be doing to prepare for becoming a Pictomancer. "Travelling the world, taking in the sights and learning new techniques [...] Perfecting his brush (and knife) skills to prepare for what Krile has in store for him." Buff explained that, "Bob always said he was inspired by the land around him to paint and I like to think Buff would be doing the same."

We journeyed to some of the locations that provide Buff with the most artistic inspiration. He'd told me that Garlemald was high on the list—the snow covered peaks ripe for painting "little snow covered cabins." Something this zone is certainly lacking. It seems like an odd choice—there's at least one not-so-happy tree here in this foreboding landscape—but the moody atmosphere bears a striking resemblance to the Bob Ross painting 'Snowbound Cabin'.

I've always been a bit timid in any MMO I've played

After a generous use of phthalo blue—thanks to the Paint it Blue emote—our next stop was The Azim Steppe. As we looked upon the impressive Dawn Throne monument, Buff invoked the power of Bob Ross to create a "happy little cloud," using a macro to execute an array of painting-themed emotes before summoning the Sunspun Cumulus mount.

"Get some midnight black... Add a little bright red... A dash of cadmium yellow... And finally some phthalo blue... And you get a happy little cloud!"

Fun fact: Bob Ross uses these exact colours in 'Island in the Wilderness'. Welcome to the Bob Ross expanded universe.

Becoming Buff Ross

We rounded off our trip at the picnic spot in Elpis, and talked more about his experiences as Buff Ross. While talking to Buff, I found him to be a laid-back, affable person who had grown exponentially since taking on the Bob Ross mantle. "I've always been a bit timid in any MMO I've played," Buff told me. "But now I'm chatting to people, [have] made macros to say phrases from the great man himself and even made some macros out of emotes. Stuff I've never really done before but really enjoyed doing it." Buff's macros contain a broad selection of classic quotes and accompanying emotes that have been suitably adapted to Final Fantasy 14. So far he has a whopping 16 Rossisms ready to go.

Buff Ross, Final Fantasy 14's Bob Ross lookalike.,
Buff Ross, Final Fantasy 14's Bob Ross lookalike.,

Buff is a father of four, and his online presence is becoming a family affair. Buff's eldest daughter has taken a shine to the game and enjoys watching him play, often asking for updates on Buff. “Her favourite class for me to play is the Black Mage as 'it's the one with the brush,'" said Buff. Buff's Free Company 'HappyLittleAccidents' is also a space for him and his friend who is a fellow parent. Balancing life and the game is important, so they hope to expand the FC to other parents and those with similar lifestyles, for a low pressure experience.

"Get some midnight black… Add a little bright red… A dash of cadmium yellow… And finally some phthalo blue… And you get a happy little cloud!"

He joked that the real-money cost to Fantasia into the Bob Ross-a-like was an interesting thing to justify to his wife, but now he's become a "mini-celebrity" she sees the value in what he's doing and its effect on other players. "She loves hearing the stories of people asking for selfies at the end of dungeons or even this interview. Or just random players stopping by to talk or RP in towns."

I asked Buff what his favourite encounter had been so far. "We were doing one of the Shadowbringers dungeons and they clocked who I was. We spent the whole dungeon talking and laughing and at the end one of them did a group selfie and it was just really a fun experience."

Pictomancer 1.0

While waiting for duties to pop, we settled in New Gridania. Well, I did, while watching Buff entertain the masses. Within moments of arriving there, he had a gathering of Lalafells cheering him on, as he painted the town red (literally). Buff had told me that he'd engaged in more interactions as this persona than he's "ever had in any game before." It's safe to say that in all my years of playing the MMO, I have not been in so many consistently jovial instances. Hell, even I don't normally type that much. Every single time, Buff's energy boosted the chat log to new heights, regardless of whether everyone picked up on the Bob Ross reference. From describing the limit break bar as "the bar of happiness" to expressing that "there's nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend," or simply helping out new players—Buff Ross brings joy.

Buff Ross, Final Fantasy 14's Bob Ross lookalike.,
Buff Ross, Final Fantasy 14's Bob Ross lookalike.,

"I definitely think when people spot who I am mimicking and enjoy it, it makes things go a lot more smoothly. I'm sure we all know how tough some of the alliance raids can go... But a quick 'we don't make mistakes, we just have happy accidents' seems to get people back on board. Though I mainly say it when I do something stupid, which is a lot," said Buff.

We had the full Buff Ross experience on a trip to Sigmascape V2—yeah, you know the one—Pictomancy 1.0. It was gloriously chaotic. A party member yelled in excitement, as Buff tells everyone to "wash the brush, just beat the devil out of it!"

In a sentence I never thought I'd write, Buff Ross and fellow DPS Princess Peach team up, while I tank in mild disbelief as the off tank suffers a hard disconnect, and we end up with a haunted corpse drifting across the arena. Buff paints for his life, "Let's build us a happy little cloud that floats around the sky," he muses as he blasts away aether currents. Thanks to paint power we survive, and the off tank reconnects to see another day. Before we leave Buff declares "This is my destiny," as a fellow player praises him.

Pictomancer in Final Fantasy 14: Dawntrail
Pictomancer in Final Fantasy 14: Dawntrail

While the Buff Ross effect has been a proven success on our outings together, Buff adds that he makes sure to consider other players, "I do have to 'feel the room' so to speak as I know some people get annoyed by people spamming [...] if people react nicely to it then yeah I'll crack on, if not then I'll stop."

This experience shows that the quintessential Bob Ross approach—enjoying yourself, working with your mistakes, and going with the flow—can make a world of difference. Buff has channelled that energy superbly, breaking down barriers and helping players feel more at ease in potentially hostile situations. Each instance with Buff felt as fresh as the first time, and the community shined all the more brightly. Bob Ross would be proud.

As our time came to a close, I asked Buff one last question: How can we all be a bit more Bob Ross in Dawntrail?

"Take your time to enjoy the scenery and beauty around you (especially with the new graphical update!) and be kind to each other. Oh and paint, every day is a good day when you paint."