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Exploration makes up the majority of the game, and is fairly traditional in terms of role-playing games. The player travels in their caravan to various settlements via an overworld map. While in a town, the player can talk to various non-player characters and buy supplies and equipment using gil (the in-game currency). Unlike most role-playing games, equipment cannot be bought pre-crafted: instead, players must buy or find "designs" (blueprints for a piece of equipment) and the necessary components before paying for it to be crafted at a blacksmith or tailor (depending on whether the equipment is a weapon/piece of armour or an accessory).
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles features real-time combat with no transition to a separate screen. Rather than there being certain characters who can only use certain skills (physical attack skills, magic, etc.), in Crystal Chronicles all characters can use all abilities, but with varying degrees of talent based on their race; for example, Lilties are the most powerful in terms of physical attacks, but weakest with magic, and vice versa for Yukes.
In terms of physical attacks, characters can chain up to three-in-a-row, or charge their power to use a more powerful "focus attack". There are multiple focus attacks available, dependent upon weapon. Magic in Crystal Chronicles comes in the form of "magicite" (a term first used in Final Fantasy VI and later used in Final Fantasy XII and other titles set in the world of Ivalice (as part of the Ivalice Alliance)) and encompasses only a few basic offensive and defensive spells, with the majority of the spells in the game accessible by combining two or more basic spells. This is done differently in single- and multi-player modes: in single-player, the magicite is combined in the command menu in a process called "fusion", while in multiplayer, players must be charge and cast individual spells in the same place with a certain timing in a process called "stacking" (pictured).