My left hand/arm has gotten worse the last few days so I haven't actually been able to put any more actual work in on routing a Final Fantasy II speedrun. But I have been doing a lot of thinking about it. I'm trying to figure out how I really want to go about raising my maximum health. I still don't know how high I want it to go, but the way I see it there are 4 possible ways to go about it.
The first is the organic method. If I need more maximum health I could just fight things a little weaker than that and level up my health as they hit me. Easy! And entirely unreasonable. I'm not convinced the difficulty gradients in the game are such that this would even be plausible on a normal run. Even if it could work it would be slow! I want to run from all the fights if I can, and kill all the enemies in one round if I can't. And since I'll have max evasion the enemies won't get a turn.
The second is to beat myself up. It's certainly possible that every fight I can't run from I could first hit myself for half my health before taking a round to kill the enemies. The tricky part is keeping a way to hurt myself for enough to get a health up without risking death, even after I significantly increase my maximum health. My damage is never going to get any better (or worse) so unless I'm in a position where punching myself is in that right window I'll need a different source of damage too. Like leveling up a fire spell or something, but that will add even more time.
Next up is to stay in the early game with Windu longer. He has the swap spell, and the life spell, so he has a safe way to knock me low (kill me then use life) and then as long as I manipulate our health totals to be different I can swap on every fight to get a health up every other fight. This has the advantage of also giving chances at mana ups. It has the disadvantage that Windu doesn't stick around for terrible long and all the fights he is around for can be run from. So while I could level up health in the first couple dungeons I'm not sure it would be terribly fast. I can certainly just stick around the starting town too and grind health, like I grind weapon skills and evasion and the like. The problem is that while I can guarantee I get max weapon skill in 16 fights I'm going to need way, way more fights than that to grind health really high.
The fourth option is to grind some cash, run to Mysidia, and buy my own swap spell. Then I can do the above option over the course of the entire game, swapping on every fight I can't run from. Swap actually levels the health/mana of two characters at the same time if they started with comparable health/mana levels. Which I guess opens up the option of using two characters, not just one character, for at least part of the game. I was really liking the idea of only having to input one command each fight but if I need to grind health over a long period of time then it should be faster to input two commands each round instead of grinding around the starting town. And if I'm using toad to kill enemies, actually, then having my fastest person use swap and my slower person killing everything with toad I'll still end a fight in one round and get a chance at a health/mana up. Also, getting to Mysidia early is non-trivial and probably requires grinding health in some other way first.
So it's going to come down to how much health I need, and how many fights I won't be able to run from later on. If I can get by with just a couple hundred then I should just use Mindu. Otherwise I probably want to punch myself a little at the very start and then head to Mysidia and run a 2 person party. Maria can have toad and maybe a damage spell too?