In the original version of Final Fantasy XI, the class Beastmaster was the only true solo job in the game, but players developed solo strategies for other jobs and new solo jobs have come from the expansions to the world of Vana'diel.
Still, Beastmaster remains the premiere solo class in the game. Its strength comes from the fact that you temporarily charm creatures in a particular region to fight other mobs for you. You are able to garner the strength of beasts that would normally take an entire party to bring down and use them to wreak havoc on your local adversaries. The style of play is very different from other MMOs where you normally keep and level a pet more like a sidekick. In the Beastmaster's case you learn to use the monsters at hand and utilize your knowledge of a creature's natural predators or a humanoid's weaknesses to tip the advantage in your favor. It is a dance of death whose steps must be carefully managed as you charm a path of destruction through the land.
Wow! It sounds like quite a powerful class, so what's the catch? Remember when I stated temporarily charm creatures? The downside to taming this power is living on the constant edge of death. You have no idea when a charm will release or whether your attempt will make a creature your friend or provoke an attack. A missed charm makes monsters angry and want to eat your face off. Nothing says "you're screwed" more than having that happen in the middle of a fight when your pet drops charm and instead of facing a mob you couldn't kill alone, now you're facing two. Use your imagination because in this field there are a number of ways to get yourself killed. It's an adventure to be sure. With great power comes even greater risk and reward, thus is the life of a Beastmaster. Players that pick this class can't be afraid to break a few eggs when making an omelet and by eggs I mean every bone in your character’s body. Know your home point, love your home point and remember where you set it last.
Beastmaster is an advanced class in the game, which means you must first attain level 30 before you can start the first quest to become a tamer. You must complete the two quests Save My Son and Path of the Beastmaster to unlock the job. You will start Save My Son at Dietmund the merchant's house which is located above the chocobo stables in Lower Jeuno (G-11). Click on his door to start a cut scene and the quest to save his ill son. You must bring back a flower that grows on Quifin Island (below Port Jeuno) and blooms only at a specific spot and time of night. The flower coordinates are F-8 (once there look for path down to a lower cave) and the flower blooms between 22:00 and dawn. F-8 is a hostile location with nasty gobs that will quickly send your soul back to your home point and a huge kraken guards the cave where the flower blooms. You knew this wasn't going to be easy right? You can try two methods to retrieve the flower. First, you can use sneak (or oils) and prism powder (invisibility) to attempt to slink your way past to nab the flower. You will not be able to pick the flower if invisible, so the trick here is to appear and click on the point on the ground (the flower) before the Kraken does to you what he did to Captain Jack Sparrow. The second method is to have a high level player(s) mow down gobs, kraken and all. This will allow you to tip toe your way through the tulips and snatch your valued prize. My first time through I attempted the ill advised level 30 party and took a 275 damage hit to my Galka Warrior (tanking at the time for squishy mage types). I believe there may be blackmail photos still circulating of my de-leveled Galka lying naked on the beach surrounded by fellow male party member's dead bodies in various compromising positions. I went back with option number two and sought my revenge. Lastly there is a cut scene at the cave and once that is done, head back to Dietmund's house to get your Beast Whistle necklace. I want a t-shirt that says, "I killed a Kraken and all I got was this lousy whistle?" to commemorate my adventure.
Next is the Path of the Beastmaster quest and you can breathe a deep sigh of relief as this is a very simple quest. After completing Save My Son, head to Upper Jeuno stables (G-7) and talk with your old pal Brutus (chocobo riding quest) to start your next adventure. You will need to talk to Brutus, then the kid taking care of the chocobo and Brutus again. You will get the quest "Chocobo On The Loose!". You want to make sure you get a cutscene with Dietmund and his repentance for being a poor chocobo owner and Beastmaster. Brutus will say to you, "You have taken your first step. The path of the Beastmaster lies before you." Welcome to the club.
Now the fun really begins because it's back to a starting area to level your new job. I would like to take this opportunity to challenge conventional wisdom. I have read articles where it is suggested to not charm anything until after level 10 and have had players offer to power level me past the first ten levels, but let me say you don't have to go that route. At level one go out and play with charming low level mobs and have fun making them attack other low level mobs. It is a great time to start getting a feel for how long charm lasts. They won't be able to keep aggro off of you at that level, but you can use them as additional damage dealers, allow them to whittle a mob down for you to finish in a single hit or you both attack different mobs for double the XP fun. Check your targets! Start developing a gut feeling on how long charms last on different level mobs. An easy rule of thumb is EP (easy prey) is 1-3 fights, DC (decent prey) 1-2 fights, EM (even match) 1 fight and TM (tough match) good luck with that. Eventually you will be able to work with tough and above but not so much at lower levels. Also any mob above Tough will cost you and a party some XP, so always keep that in mind when choosing a pet while grouping with others. When you are soloing it's not a big deal but in a party the experience will be calculated from the level of the highest party member including your pet so even match or below (jug pets are safe as well).
If you are up for some early low level fun, go to the Zeruhn Mines in Bastok and charm a leech, use your 2 hour Familiar and go on a killing spree, wiping out anything that moves, especially bats. Once you have a charmed pet, Familiar will hold that charm for 30 minutes or until your pet is killed. It also gives your pet a nice 10% HP bonus to boot. A good trick is to either setup a time macro or manually check Familiar in your menu and use the countdown to know when your 30 minutes is up. Once you hit that magical 1:30 left, then you know that pet is about to come unglued. Before that happens either allow the pet no rest between fights and kill it off or zone the pet. One of my favorite things is finding the nastiest creature in a zone, charm/familiar and go on a rampage for half an hour. Good times! You can have fun at lower levels and it is a great time to learn how to manage your pet. As you get to higher levels you will have more tools at your disposal but early on the threat of dying is a powerful teacher. Learn your lessons well.