I have finally made some progress with my Final Fantasy board game.

I want to keep combat simple yet tactical. I want a very quick and simple mechanical system, and I am currently going with Stat+D10 vs Stat+D10.
I also want to give each of the players a number of options to pick from. Each player starts with a physical attack, a magical attack and a class-based ability. As you advance through the game you gain more and more abilities, making the characters more powerful and versatile.

Abilities & Gear
The only fixed abilities right now are the class-based ones, the rest are open to the players. I am designing a system where you gain ability cards that you can combine to create your own abilities; Fire+Fire to create a powerful fireball or Thunder+2*Additional Target to create a lighting spell that attacks three monsters at once.
I am using a similar system for the equipment. There are weapons with different damage modifications, armours to defend against attacks and accessories to help you against status effects. If you have the coins for it then you can combine items to create even better gear for you.

Story Cards
I have also found a solution for my story problem. The games big quests (the starting quest, the main quests and the final quest) are all drawn from randomized decks of cards. I hope this modularity will enhance the replayability and reduce the predictability of the game.
The starting quest is a short and simple adventure to give the players a chance to try out their characters and to find their roll in the group.
The main quests are the bread and butter of the game. They are the big adventures that make up the larger story of the gaming session. I think a normal game will require the players to complete about 3-5 main quests cards, depending on how long they want to play.
The final quest is the big one, an event that change the world in a major way.

Game Board
I had a fixed board layout planned, but I have recently started experimenting with a modular game board, so that the world map would change every time. This is mostly for aesthetic reasons.
The map is composed by a number of large general areas (grasslands, forest, coast) with a number of smaller specific locations in each. When the players enter a location they draw a random encounter card and may face either a combat against monsters, meet a helpful person or find a sidequest.

When I started this project I wanted to make a game that was purely co-op, with all the players fighting together against the game. As the game grew in complexity and the monsters got more and more things you needed to track, I had to abandon this idea and assign a player to run them. To give that player something more to do I also gave him the responsibility to draw and read all the story cards and random encounters. This gives that player the role of a storyteller, and not just a monster master.

I have slowly been collecting my ideas on a wiki. I really like the format when brainstorming ideas. Playtesting is still a bit into the future, but I’m hoping to meet some of my playtesters this coming Sunday to get some comments on what I have so far.