Part 3: Chapter 2
Rhys! Are you sure you're well enough to be up?
Yes. My fever's completely gone.
Are you sure? You still look a bit unsteady on your feet if you ask me.
Well, I've been in bed for almost a week. I doubt anyone would be in top form-- even you, my friend!
I certainly hope that's all it is. In any case, until you're back at full speed, you won't be doing any work. We're mercenaries, after all, and...
"Even the smallest lapse invites death". Right? I know, I know. My apologies to the rest of the team, then. It looks like I'll be recuperating for a while longer.
Mm, it's for the best. Take your time and get fully rested and restored. You are our sole staff wielder, Rhys... The harder our work, the more we depend on you to be at our sides.
Thank you for your kind words.
Oh, by the way... That paper you've been carrying around... Is it a letter? I'd intended to go into town this afternoon. I can deliver it for you if you like.
Oh, no. This is a letter for you, Titania.
Not more than a little while ago, I went out for a walk around the yard and... A man I've never seen before came up to me and said... "Give this to the red-tressed knight".
How curious... I wonder what it is.
I imagine it's a thank-you letter from the people of Caldea or something to that effect.
Titania? What's the matter? What does the letter say?
...Rhys! Take this letter to Oscar, and tell him to prepare for combat and wait for me! I have to go out for a moment.
I'll be right back! I'm counting on you!
What on earth could that letter have said?
Hey, Rhys. So, how are you feeling?
What is it? Why are you so agitated?
Has something happened?
What are you talking about?
The two of them went out early this morning to gather wildflowers... Sure, they're not back yet, but...
OK, OK, look, I know, drama, tension, etc, but I would like to make a point of order.
When the fuck did this happen?
We have just heard confirmation that the children were seen since the last mission, which means that my pet theory I had before remembering this line - about how the bandits were actually smarter than we thought and kidnapped them as Ike was fighting them and while Greil was out and the fort was unoccupied - can't be right. So this means it must have happened recently, while everyone was home. How the fuck did some fucking bandits sneak into an occupied mercenary fortress, kidnap two children, and escape completely unnoticed? I'm having suspension of disbelief issues here.
Okay, back to the plot:
Earlier, by the gate...a man asked me to deliver a letter to Titania. It was from a group of bandits-- kidnappers. What are we going to do?
Let me see it.
Oh, if only I'd known... He didn't seem like a bad person...
Hm. I get it. They're after revenge. They want retribution for the other day at that village... Caldea, was it? Hm. Taking children as hostages? What cowards!
But... No! Titania... She said she'd be right back. You're supposed to get ready and wait for her...
And do you honestly think we've got time to wait? I'm going!
What can possibly go wrong?
Well. That was fast.
How am I supposed to know that?
Hold it! Are you saying you don't know where we're going? Unbelievable! You'd better learn to think before you act, you moron!
Shut your mouth, Boyd!
You think you can make me? Come on!
B-both of you, this is no time to be fighting.
What are you two doing? So you're coming after all? It's not like you two chambermaids to be disobeying orders. What's the world coming to?
Oscar, you know this road, don't you? Which way do we go?
You're going to the bandits' stronghold, right? It's the left fork.
Come on, Oscar. Let's go, too!
I guess we've no choice.
Ooh, I sense another proud Fire Emblem tradition coming on...
Wait for it...
Is it just you, then? You came alone? You seriously underestimate what we're capable of doing to you. Now, where's that snobby, red-haired wench you ride with?
Titania's not here. It's just us. All I want to know right now is whether Mist and Rolf are safe.
Yeah, of course. We've got 'em locked up safe and sound in that little shack back there. We got no problem with those brats. What we're after is a little revenge. We want the redhead and her pups. And that'd be you boys.
Then hurry up and let those two go! We're here, aren't we? You've got no more reason to hold them.
You're here, but Red ain't. We'll just keep the brats until she arrives.
If you're so impatient, I guess we can start by killing you whelps. You all ready to die? Hey! Come on out! It's time to play, lads!
Here we go!
Enemies from nowhere, everywhere! And the boss runs all the way to the back of the formation, because he's such a tough guy.
Anyway, there's a bit of skipped tutorial dialogue here, which actually contains remarkably little tutoring, although it does boil down to one very important bit of advice; keep Rhys the fuck out of combat. This is pretty good advice. You should follow it.
Incidentally, here's an astounding fact. IS went to the trouble of writing four different versions of the entire script of the chapter up to this point; the one we've seen, one for if Boyd is dead, one for if Oscar is dead, and one for if both are dead (and wow, you're just fucked if that's the case). Despite this, Not. One. Line. Of it is really changed in any meaningful way; all the same things get said, just by different people. No reference is given to any dead characters - nothing. Not even the obvious possibility of "those bastards got Oscar and Boyd aaargh THEY WILL PAY" "no wait Ike do not be blinded by the desire for revenge" etc. So, yeah. Talk about a missed opportunity.
Here's what we're looking at. This one can actually be just a little bit brutal if you get sloppy, but I guess this is just Fire Emblem's way of making you learn. It's one of the strengths of both this game and Radiant Dawn that the early battles are designed in a way that will make you learn to pay attention to the minutiae of unit positioning.
In any case, you can do this map the careful way, which is to start by charging north and clearing out the three guys over there (who would otherwise get you in a pincer and probably kill Rhys) and then push east, but we're going to do this the awesome way. We are going to have Oscar singlehandedly keep all three of those aforementioned guys off of Rhys while Ike and Boyd push east. We'll be cutting things awfully fine in places but that's the fun, isn't it?
Our objective is rout, so we win when there are no bad guys left. Nice and simple.
Ike and Boyd team up to dispose of the first guy blocking the road east. Ike takes a little scratch in doing so. New Guy! You're up!
Rhys is a Priest - so, in other words, a Healer. Rhys's sole ability and function is to use staves to make the friendly units' HP go back up when it's not at max. You really, really, really do not want Rhys to see combat; with his low HP and total lack of defence he'll be mincemeat. At the very least he's fast enough to not get doubled (for now), but that's not much help since the one thing he can't do with that Heal staff is heal himself. OK, he can use a Vulnerary, but that means a turn spent not healing the people you want taking damage. Look, just keep him the fuck away from the bad guys, OK?
He brings us a Priest Band, which I hear is very beneficial to one's Luck and Resistance growths.
Anyway, Rhys makes all of Ike's hurts go away.
Here's a nifty feature. We want to move Oscar into the edge of this guy's range, but, man, remembering where squares are is a pain. Not everyone is that smart, y'know? However, spatially challenged and innumerate people need not worry, because IS has thrown you a bone; simply hover over an enemy and press A, and...
...their violence range will continue to be highlighted while you move your guys around! Helpful! This one isn't too hard to eyeball, but as we'll see next turn, this feature can be a lifesaver.
Keep your chin up, Rolf! Boys aren't supposed to cry!
But...I'm so scared... Aren't you even a bit scared, Mist?
Of course I am, but... Listen, we'll be fine! My brother will definitely come rescue us.
I'm sure they will, too! So no more crying! Got it?
Aww! Pint-sized self-aware gender trope inversion! How adorably progressive!
Speaking of progress, this scene does actually get interesting if you somehow manage to lose both Boyd and Oscar:
Of course I am, but... Listen, we'll be fine! My brother will definitely come rescue us.
Oh, yeah... You've still got...Ike to look after you.
Oh,I'm sorry... I didn't mean...
It's all right. I know.
Rolf, really... I'm sorry.
If my brothers were still alive... they'd come get me, wouldn't they?
Yes, of course they would.
So I shouldn't keep crying, should I? I mean, we are going to be rescued.
And I just can't bring myself to snark about this.
Back on the battlefield, the bandits advance but only end up hurting themselves.
Oscar's three buddies also move, and their resulting state of wellbeing is inversely proportional to how near they get to him.
When our turn rolls around again, Ike and Boyd continue felling bandits, and Oscar, after stopping briefly to finish the guy who attacked him just now...
...rides down to join them. As a result of his precise positioning...
...he creates a tiny safe spot for Rhys to stand in, AND helps me demonstrate how unspeakably handy this range-checker is. Rhys thanks Oscar by healing him.
Enemy turn is another bandit advance, plus this guy who hurts Ike and whom Ike hurts.
As deputy commander of the Greil Mercenaries, I cannot allow any more of our people to be harmed.
And Titania joins the battle. Wonderful.
While Boyd and Ike continue the offensive, Titania remains put to help Oscar keep the enemy off Rhys.
Just for posterity, here's what Titania can do. We don't actually do this; instead we just have her stand next to Oscar and wall. She's so powerful that she'll dissuade the enemy from-
Well, I hope it was worth it. Seriously though, Fire Emblem AI does have priorities, but sometimes it just completely fails to grasp the magnitude of certain factors with respect to risk. Like this guy - he was all "Oh! She's an axe user... and I'm a sword user! STRATEGY!", and completely missed the fact that all her stats are double his.
He does not survive.
His buddy is more sensible, and attacks Oscar, thus barely surviving.
Some of the boss's friends charge, but don't reach us. The guy Ike crippled retreats into a Healhedge. Healhedges are... well, kinda impossible to see in these screenshots (they have sparkles and stuff on them ingame), but if you can see them, and stand in one, you'll recover 10% of your max HP per turn and also benefit from +1 Defence and +10 Avoid.
This is potentially risky again, but Ike is in range to clean up if Boyd misses, and I've done the numbers and Boyd can definitely survive a counter from this guy and hits from his two friends. The other bandits are out of range.
It turns out to be a nonissue.
Ike is freed up to go murder a different guy.
Oscar finishes up in the south and joins the rest of the crew with Titania. And gets healed. Enemy turn.
This fool wastes an attack on Ike.
So Ike wastes him with a crit. Ike's crit is very fast, and although I missed the actual hit, it might as well just be a blur, really. In any case, this guy is quite dead, thank you.
Goddamnit, Boyd, why can't you be more like Ike? I thought you were a professional? This guy also drops a Steel Axe, so that's nice.
More friendly advice: You should never, ever, ever, not have a healer heal if it's an option. Even if the only available injury is someone with 1HP of damage (or has just gotten +1 HP last turn), do it. Healing, unlike fighting, gives you only a slow trickle of EXP, but it's not dependant on how much you heal, only how often. A Heal staff gives you 11 EXP per use.
Ike's newfound speed, and the fact that he's actually able to wield an Iron Sword without taking a speed penalty, means he can double this Myrmidon. Nice!
Oscar and Boyd gang up on another bandit, and now it's just us, the boss, and his last friend.
Incidentally, you can actually kinda see the two Healhedges in this screenshot.
The friend goes for Boyd and whiffs.
The boss can't reach us, but he moves anyway.
Oscar takes out the friend, and exhibits evidence that maybe disappointing levels run in the family.
Even the Jeigan-est Jeigans are useful for softening up bosses without killing them, allowing your weaker units to get those precious, precious boss kills.
Heh heh heh. I've been waiting for you, you red-haired demoness. You are going to hurt--and hurt bad. This is for my mates who fell before you in Caldea!
No matter your motives, you've taken helpless innocents as hostages. You're not fit to be called human. May the blessings of the goddess be kept from you for all eternity!
Yeah. I don't think so.
Alright, Boyd. I don't know exactly how many chances you'll get before both I and the thread give up on you, but you're down two already. This had better be incredible.
(assuming you hit)
Yes, yes, now, come on...
Oh for fuck's sake.
I'M (PROBABLY GOING TO BE) VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU.
This'll do nicely, though. Speedwings will increase someone's Speed by 2. You might recall that Speed is basically the most important stat in this game.
Victory is ours!
Note the smile disappearing from Boyd's face.
Note also that, as before, the following scenes change depending on the vital status of Oscar, Boyd, and now Rhys, and as before, no mention is made of the absences.
What you DID...was in direct defiance of the orders I explicitly gave you. How it all turned out is another issue altogether.
Titania cannot "die" as such, but she can get reduced to zero health and have to sit the rest of the game out (she's needed for plot stuff, you see). I don't know how the hell you can manage to accomplish this feat in this mission, but if you do, she'll acknowledge it now:
(note that further variations exist for if Boyd is dead as well, holy shit)
You realize that you disobeyed orders, don't you? You have to understand that and... urgh!
Are...Are you feeling all right, Titania?
It's nothing to worry yourselves about.
You need help. You're having a rough time even standing, aren't you?
I told you, I'm fine!
Deputy Commander, I take full responsibility. The failure is mine...
Accept our apologies.
Oscar, Rhys... What am I supposed to do with you two? Sigh... I think I'll leave you two to the commander. He'll know how to handle you, I'm sure. Now, let's find Mist and Rolf.
According to the bandit chief, they're in that shack back--
(can you spot it?)
Brother! Everyone! You came!
Oh... I'm scared.
Oscar? Help me!
Rolf! I'm here, too!
Stop crying! You don't need to worry! We'll get you outta there!
That's right! Buck up, buddy!
Uh... I'll try!
You! Harm either of them, and I'll see you dead!
Shut up! Shut your stinking trap! If you want these two alive, you'll throw your weapons down. If you don't, I'll start with the girl...
I'm putting down my weapons. See?
Heh... heh heh. Smart move, wench!
We're here to save them. Now all of you back off.
Heh heh heh... All right, so now you're all unarmed...
(can you spot it yet?)
(what about now?)
Well, he certainly didn't spot it.
Rolf! Can you hear me?
Mist! Is Rolf-- Is he...
He's fine. He just fainted is all. There's not a scratch on him.
Whew... Don't do that to me.
I'm just glad to see you both alive and well... You're both so brave.
(if either Oscar or Boyd are dead, here the other will make a comment to the effect of "I couldn't bear to lose you after losing Boyd/Oscar too...". If both are dead, Ike will say it.)
This guy's dead. This arrow-- who shot it?
A single arrow, right between the eyes? Who else could make a shot like that? No one, that's who!
So, that's where you went, Titania?
Of course. I knew we'd need reinforcements. I'm glad it wasn't a waste of time.
In the end, I got to feather someone. So it was worth the rush.
All I...did...was sweat... That...was h-hard...work...
Uh-huh... Uh-huh! I never stopped believing. I knew that you and the others would come and rescue us. I knew you'd come! So, I was fine!
Really? That's an improvement on your usual sobbing and nose-running.
You jerk! I... My nose does not run!
My goodness... What a day this has been.
I love the toned down profanities of Fire Emblem.
Incidentally, if anyone at all (besides Titania) is dead at this point, you get a brief display of game-mechanic awareness for your "trouble"...
About [list of dead people]...
We will discuss it once we're home.
I have only one thing to say to you. Never do anything as reckless as this again. I'm sure you understand, but... You mustn't ever, ever forget the lives that need not have been lost.
Oh, come on! That was hells of fast!
Lv 4 Priest
HP: 22 (40%) Spd: 5 (40%)
Str: 0 (5%) Lck: 8 (50%)
Mag: 10 (60%) Def: 0 (25%)
Skl: 7 (50%) Res: 14 (55%)
Move: 5 Con: 8 Wt: 8
Equip: Staves (D)
Rhys is about as archetypal a healer as they come, with the added benefit of being a character in Path of Radiance and thus getting a not inconsiderable chance of actually maybe getting a bit of defence. Seriously, though, chances are, after a few levels, Rhys will have plentiful magic and resistance (so at least he can tank mages), and passable speed and luck (so he might even dodge the odd physical). Whatever way you slice it, Rhys will be your only healer for a good long while, so you're going to be using him whether or not you like his stats.
His Serenity skill is the opposite of Tempest; it halves the effects of Biorhythms.
Next time: This script isn't original enough! Let's add pirate humour!
This seems as good a juncture as any to get the inevitable "talking about the numbers in Fire Emblem" chat out of the way. That's right, folks; it's time for a Mechanecdote. God I love portmanteaus.
Path of Radiance implements a few rather important changes to the longstanding Fire Emblem Mechanics that players have known and loved from the GBA titles - the most significant of which being to the strength and magic stats, particularly the fact that these are two distinct stats that all units have. So you might want to pay attention if you've still got the FE7 or Sacred Stones LPs stuck in your mind...
These are a unit's innate numbers, that can be permanently increased by levels and stat-boosting items.
HP: The unit's maximum HP. Pretty self explanatory.
Strength: Affects the damage the unit can deal using physical weapons, and the ability of the unit to wield heavy weapons without being slowed down. More on this in a bit.
Magic: Affects the damage the unit can deal with spell tomes and magic weapons (oh, spoiler, there are magic weapons), and the ability of the unit to use staves.
Skill: Affects the unit's accuracy and critical hit rate.
Speed: Affects the unit's ability to avoid attacks, and to attack twice in one round.
Luck: Affects the unit's ability to avoid attacks and prevent their enemies from getting crits.
Defence: Mitigates damage from physical weapons.
Resistance: Mitigates damage from magic.
There are also these three, which don't go up with levels but can still be increased:
Move: Amount of squares unit can move in a turn. Mounted units can use any leftover movement points after carrying out an action.
Build (or constitution): Doesn't seem to have any purpose beyond dictating base weight. In the GBA Fire Emblems, Constitution was used instead of Strength to determine the unit's ability to use heavy weapons.
Weight: Determines the unit's ability to shove or carry other units, or be shoved or carried themselves. Is equal to Build, unless unit is mounted or armoured. Mounted units cannot shove, or be carried. Strictly speaking they can be shoved, but in practice they're too heavy.
Primary attributes are, for the most part, not directly used in the game. They are, however, used (along with a number of other factors) to determine a unit's Secondary Attributes, which are a bit more... directly pertinent.
"Bonuses" can be a whole mess of things; there are bonuses from terrain, the Weapon Triangle, supports, skills, biorhythms, all sorts of shit. The important thing is, when you look these up on a unit's stats screen, the number you see is the final number, so you can always know where you stand, even if you don't know how you got there.
Atk: Base damage dealt in one hit in combat. Equal to Strength/Magic (as appropriate) + Weapon Mt + bonuses.
AS: Attack Speed. Not shown in the stat screen, but there, and very important. Equal to Speed - [Weapon Weight - Strength (value cannot go below 0)]. Used in some other calculations.
Hit: Base accuracy in combat. Equal to [Skill * 2] + Weapon Hit + bonuses.
Crit: Base chance to score a critical hit. Equal to [Skill / 2] + Weapon Crit + bonuses.
Avo: Ability to dodge attacks. Equal to [AS * 2] + Luck + bonuses.
Ddg: Ability to mitigate opponent's crit chance. Equal to Luck + bonuses.
If you check the stats screen, you will also see Rng (range) and Effect (effective against), but these are determined entirely by equipment.
Also, strictly speaking, Defence and Resistance also have their own secondary stats with applicable bonuses. This is important because terrain only ever boosts physical defence, but supports that boost "defence" will increase both defence and resistance. So watch out for that.
Bringing it all together is the inevitable comparison of your unit's Secondary Attributes with an opponent's. This is actually quite simple.
Mt (should really be Dmg): The amount of damage a successful hit inflicts. Your Atk - their Def/Res (as appropriate).
x2: If your AS exceeds theirs by 4 or more, you can attack a second time following their counterattack. If they can't counter you, you'll just attack twice in a row.
Hit: Percentage chance to hit. Your Hit - their Avo. Capped at 100, obviously.
Crit: Percentage chance to crit for triple damage. Your Crit - their Ddg. Capped at 100.
There are a few more exceptional nuances to deal with, but this little primer will remain true and useful over the entire game. Fire Emblem rewards a grasp of the basics like nothing else.
Numbers. Serious business.