Part 10: Chapter 8 - Preamble
Come on, Son! You'll never beat me with that attitude!
Ha ha ha! Think you're as stubborn as your mule-headed father?
... Father. This isn't a dream, is it? This... This is all real.
Mist. The sun's going down, and it's getting cold. Come on. Let's go.
Oh... Oh, Ike... sniff...
... W-why... Why?
I was at his side, but... I couldn't save him. I'm sorry.
It's... It's so unreal...
Dad's gone... He's gone, Ike. Sniff... And... I... don't... I don't know what to do...
I'll lead the company... In Father's stead... And I'll protect you all. You, the princess... everyone. I'll protect you. You'll see.
Brother... Ike... No...
I won't allow it... I can't lose you. Don't you see? If you go, then I'll be all alone... I won't allow it.
I'm not going anywhere. I promise you, Mist...
Why is any of this happening? Why now? First, Crimea... And now you...
She's resting in her room. Rhys and Rolf are with her.
That's good... She needs to sleep. She's been through too much. We all have... You should rest too, Ike.
I'll be all right. Grief won't bring my father back to life.
I know I've been a burden on the both of you. Titania, Soren, I just need to thank you both for staying here with me.
Not at all...
There's no need. Don't trouble yourself.
At this point, the conversation branches depending on the mortal status of your crew, and there are sixteen branches and basically no meaningful differences.
Ike, to tell the truth...
How did it go?
Boyd? What's going on?
Ike! Are you all right?
I'm fine. Tell me what's happened. Start talking.
Well, uh, it's... What I mean to say is... Uh...
What? There's nothing to hide, is there?
They left? Both of them? Why did they--Oh, I see. They left because of me, didn't they?
Titania told us you were going to be the new commander. Shinon just about exploded... He and Gatrie left not long ago.
We went after them. We tried to talk things out, but it was a waste of time.
We all knew that Ike was going to inherit command of the company, didn't we? It just happened sooner than we wanted. It was Greil's decision. If some of us aren't satisfied with that, there's no reason we should stop them from leaving. As far as losing fighting strength is concerned, we can solve that by adding new members.
Speaking of new members, anyone else feeling a bit sorry for Mia right now? Just saying...
It's not your fault, Titania. They did what they felt they had to do They didn't want to lose their lives to an inexperienced commander.
Ike! Don't talk about yourself like that.
I'm not saying that to gain anyone's pity. It's the truth. But even so, I have no intention of giving up command of this company.
Ike? Then what will you--
I'm going to follow my father's wishes. I'm going to assume command. If everyone will accept me, that's what I'd like to do.
Well, I can do that. Boss it is!
The only interesting change is if both Shinon and Gatrie are dead (plus a number of other changes depending on who else is dead). In this case, instead of talking about how much Shinon and Gatrie are assholes, you get this nugget instead:
Ike! Are you... sure you're all right?
How are you holding up?
I've been better. Sorry for all the trouble I've caused you.
You know it wasn't any trouble.
Stop treating us like strangers. We both know what it's like to lose a father.
...I know. So... what happens next? What are you going to do?
What do you mean?
My father's dead. Whatever obligation you had to him, you've paid it back. There's nothing keeping you here. Each of you has to think about what's best for yourself. You can't risk your life for an inexperienced commander.
Ike! Don't talk about yourself like that.
And so on.
Continuing on with the regular story:
Mist's asleep. I know I missed most of the conversation, but I have a good idea of what you've been discussing. Commander Ike... Yes, it does have a nice ring to it.
What about you, Soren?
What place is there for me in a mercenary company, anyway?
You are so weird... I've always depended on you, haven't I? I need your tactical knowledge. I need your objectivity. You're not going to leave me, are you, Soren?
Don't worry. I'll be here, watching over you.
Thank you. I know I'm not as experienced as most of you. I'm going to make some mistakes, but I'll try not to let you down.
(funfact: before this chapter is done, we are going to sorely regret not firing Soren.)
Tell me everything.
First, you'll need to understand company expenditures. Then we'll talk about ensuring that everyone is properly outfitted. And we can't forget the need to gather good intelligence. Oh, and you'll want to know everyone's abilities and relationships.
Earlier, I spoke with a merchant caravan that's taken refuge here in the castle. They fled Crimea at the same time we did. I told them who we are, and they asked if they could travel with us. I think they're worried about protection from Daein. In exchange, they've offered us a good rate on items and weapons. They'll also buy items and forge weapons for us.
They also said we could use their wagons to store our goods. That's one more worry off our minds.
I know I said tell me everything, but... This is too much. I can't keep up. Maybe I shouldn't learn everything in one sitting. Can you show me the ropes along the way? Is that all right?
Oh... yes, of course. Sorry. I got a bit carried away.
I'll take over for now. Why don't you get some rest?
I'm all right...
You worry too much. Get some rest. That's an order. I'll do my best to manage.
Ike's got the right idea. Let's just wander around the Base menu tomorrow and see what happens.
And here it is! This doesn't look too complicated at all!
This is the track that plays over nearly 100% of the rest of the content in this update - IE, the Base Theme. Fortunately, it's pretty unobtrusive!
The Outfit menu lets us view and manage every units inventory, trading, equipping, buying and selling items as necessary. Besides the eight slots on each unit, we can also store any excess items in the Convoy. Up until now, if Ike was carrying four weapons and an enemy dropped a fifth, Ike would need to discard one of them. Now, however, he can send it straight to the Convoy, thus not losing it forever. Handy! We can also access the Shop from this menu, which I'll show later.
Here's the Manage menu. "Award Exp" lets us finaly use the Bonus EXP we have been gaining, while "Skills" lets us, er, manage Skills.
The only Skill we have available to assign right now is Miracle, which sounds like it could actually maybe come in handy sometime, except for the fact that IntSys have left out an extremely crucial piece of information from its description; it only activates [luck stat%] of the time. So you should never, ever, ever base a strategy around it activating. If you ever see it activating, you have, by all accounts, already lost the game. Morally.
There's another reason not to equip skills too readily; If you want to remove a Skill from a unit (say, to make room for another Skill), that skill will be lost forever. So think carefully before using one of these.
The Info screen lets us talk to people about various things. The star icons indicate the importance of the conversation. One star conversations include character or world building, and are very interesting and all, but aren't of much consequence otherwise. Two star conversations will give you information pertinent to the upcoming mission (ie, hints) or general game advice. Three star conversations will give you items, money, or, in some cases, new units.
We've got five conversations to view here, so let's get on with it.
And you must be from the merchant caravan Titania told me about. The one that asked to travel with us?
Yep, that's us. It must have been fate that brought us all here together. If you'll offer us protection, we'll supply you with the provisions you require. At a reasonable price, of course. What do you say? It's for the greater good of us all, wouldn't you agree?
Well... it is a sound proposition.
Yes! Then we have an agreement. I'm the weapon merchant, Muston. I'll be sure to stock the weapons you prefer.
And I am Aimee, a vender of... various goods. I have a wide variety of items for sale. I hope you'll stop by soon.
My name's Daniel. I'm a craftsman. I specialize in made-to-order items.
There's one last item to cover. If you'd like, we can also act as a storage warehouse of sorts, carrying your extra things. What do you think?
That would be fantastic. We recently left our stronghold, and I was afraid we'd have to carry our goods ourselves! I'm happy to take you up on your offer.
Very good. Well then, may our enterprise be profitable for us all.
This is just outlining the various shops. It's nothing we couldn't have figured out on our own, really.
Why... Gre-Greil... Why? Why you? Why did you... have to... sniff... Sniff... Why...?
...yeah, probably a good idea not to pry here.
Oh, Ike. If you're wondering about Mist, she just fell asleep.
Really? Sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you, Rolf.
It's all right. I don't mind.
It's getting late. You should get yourself to bed.
I will, but...
What is it?
Mist is just fine.
You're here, Ike. So she's fine. I mean, she's going to be just fine.
That's all! Well, good night.
Rolf... Thank you.
If you need any help, just let me know.
Boyd, how do you feel about this?
About me being the new commander. Before, you hated the idea, right? So, I want to know the truth. Will you really take orders from me?
Well... I know what you can do and what you can't... I don't know if I want you in charge if things get really dangerous. But on the other hand, this is what Commander Greil wanted... He had faith in you, and I've got faith in him.
The commander hired both Oscar and me. When our dad died, I was the one who had to care for baby Rolf... I had no clue what I was supposed to do. Oscar received a discharge from his military service and came home, but life was hard. That's when Commander Greil found us... He gave us jobs, a place to sleep, food on our plates... He gave us our lives back.
Boyd, you've all worked off any debt you may have owed him. You don't have any obligation to me.
This isn't about obligations anymore. Commander Greil always said we were all part of one big family, didn't he? I'll do anything to protect my family... That's why you can always count on me.
Anyway, that's all I wanted to say. But don't you ever try to hold us at arm's length. You got that?
Oh, really? I'll take whatever you can dish out! Try me!
What were you doing?
I was praying.
For my father?
Yes. You see, the commander... He... He...
...A long time ago, my father told me a story... It was about the dead... He said the more tears we shed... the more blessings they receive in the hereafter... I envy you, Rhys. For some reason, I can't seem to cry at all... Rhys, if you could, shed a tear for me, too. I'd be grateful.
...I-Ike. I would be honored.
...Thanks, Rhys. Thanks for caring so much about my father...
Finally, there's the Support menu.
Supports were a new and pretty interesting mechanic introduced in Fire Emblem 6. Once two units had spent enough time in eachother's company (read: began the requisite number of turns in adjacent squares), they would be able to have a little conversation and thereafter receive a variety of stat bonuses when near eachother. It was a pretty good idea! As well as providing some game-mechanics reinforcement of the idea of units fighting together and becoming better friends, and giving awesome bonuses, the conversations themselves were pretty awesome. This mechanic persisted unchanged through Fire Emblems 7 and 8, and returns in Path of Radiance... with some changes. First, instead of having to spend turns in adjacent squares, units now only have to fight a certain number of battles together. Second, the conversations happen in the Base, and not on the battlefield.
Anyway, each unit has a few other units they can Support with, each unit can take part in up to five conversations, and any given pair of units can have up to three conversations (from C to A rank), usually forming a nice development arc between them and, of course, providing a whole host of nice stat boosts.
By design, the only conversation available to us is between Ike and Oscar, so let's go with that.
Earth/Earth: Avo +10
Hey, Oscar, can you spar with me for a sec... Wait! Where are you going?
Sorry, Ike! No time! I have to prepare the evening meal today.
You? Where's Mist?
She's off practicing with her staff. It's been a while since I cooked. I hope I haven't lost my touch.
I haven't had one of your suppers in ages! I'm looking forward to it.
Yeah, of course! You're a great cook! Why do you ask?
Well... I never knew that. Mist, Shinon, and Rhys were the only ones who ever commented on the subtle spices and flavors that I use... I mean, my brothers are used to my cooking, and Soren hates everything. I think he'd stop eating if he could... Sure, Commander Greil, Titania, Gatrie, and you ate everything on the plate. But... I feel like you'd eat anything.
Oscar, I didn't just shovel the food into my mouth. I enjoyed it! I really did! Remember the first day that Mist took over your cooking duties? Just thinking about it makes me ill... Ha! Even my father was having trouble choking it down! But I think Mist is finally starting to get the hang of it.
Just like you're training to improve your swordsmanship, Mist is training to improve her culinary skills. You should give her more support. Hearing someone say "Delicious!" is the best encouragement a cook can get.
I see... Then I'll make sure to say "Delicious!" from now on.
Ha ha! Thanks.
...and that's that! Note that each character's elemental Affinity affects the bonuses they get from being in a Support relationship. Each affinity has its associated stats (measured in points per half-rank), so to calculate the total bonus from a single support conversation between two characters, you simply add their affinity bonuses together and multiply by the number of times they've spoken (each unit gets both bonuses), and round down. Sadly, this means that several supports don't immediately give you bonuses (since there are 0.5s everywhere), but the good news is that if you're getting multiple +0.5s from different sources they all add up, so that's something.
The affinities and associated bonuses (per half-rank) are:
Heaven: Accuracy +5
Earth: Avoid +5
Flame: Attack +0.5, Accuracy +2.5
Dark: Attack +0.5, Avoid +2.5
Light: Defence +0.5, Accuracy +2.5
Thunder: Defence +0.5, Avoid +2.5
Water: Attack +0.5, Defence +0.5
Wind: Accuracy +2.5, Avoid +2.5
Oscar and Ike both have the Earth Affinity (there are, in fact, only two permitted Earth/Earth pairs in the game, and they are one), so each rank gives them both +10 Avoid. That's handy!
Incidentally, "Defence" here can apply to both physical and magical attacks. Confusingly, Defence from Supports is the only stat bonus that is not reflected by a visible Secondary Attribute, so it can lead to what looks like discrepancies between a character's stats and the numbers they get in battle.
Now, obviously, the fact that any given unit can only have five conversations means that it's impossible to see all the conversations in one playthrough. Fortunately, though, this is an LP, not a playthrough, and I have obligingly dug up all of the scripts and duly Ctrl-F'd every character's name with their portrait. I will be showing some of these conversations every time we hit the Base from now on. This process will be entirely separate from the actual process of me choosing Supports for the playthrough - that will probably not be mentioned at all until we're halfway through the Endgame and I casually mention that every unit is in an A-Support with someone.
(also, I will be very slightly cheating with respect to showing certain supports before they're available, but don't worry; I won't be spoiling plot events with Support dialogue.)
For now, I'm only going to show two more, because most of our guys are still a bit down right now, and these two both involve reminiscing about Greil (sort of)...
Hey, Ike. Training?
Yeah. You too, huh? Hey, do you want to spar? I learn a lot when we team up.
Really? I'm glad to hear that. I thought you no longer needed my lessons.
What are you talking about? You're the one who put the finishing touches on what swordsmanship I inherited from my father.
Hmm. I'm honored to hear you say so.
I mean it.
But the talent you inherited from your father is one of a kind. I want you to cherish it.
Huh... Heh, Titania? When did you meet my father? You used to be a Crimean knight, right?
That's right... But it's a long story, and we need to train! Get ready! Focus!
How are you feeling, Rhys?
Good. No fevers or shaking today! Thanks for asking.
You know, I was just thinking about the first time we met. It was almost a year ago to this very day.
Was it really...? Oh, you're right! My, time does fly.
Of course, I don't remember much of the initial encounter, since I was unconscious and bleeding! Ha! Remember that? I don't know why we didn't bring a healer with us that day... Fighting bandits without a staff? Not smart!
It was lucky that I found you. I didn't usually venture that deep into the forest, but I was short on medicinal herbs.
Yeah, those bandits were a rough lot... Their stomping ground was right near your village, actually. It's all coming back to me now... They were tougher than I'd thought. We took most of them out with ease, but one fled into the woods and I gave chase. Big mistake. My horse got hung up in the undergrowth, and that bandit got the drop on me... At least Shinon hit him before I was killed.
Gatrie and Shinon were both really worried when they brought you back to my parents' house.
Really? I didn't know that. Hmm... I didn't think Shinon ever worried about anyone... But they stayed with me until my wounds were healed, I remember that. You know, if it wasn't for your good work, I wouldn't have been able to use an axe anymore! I really appreciate it.
No, I should thank you. You convinced Greil to hire me! And now I can send money back to my parents. They're both so old, and I'm their only source of income.
Your parents were very kind. Especially your mother... And she made that great wildberry pie! To repay their kindness, I will protect their only son no matter what.
Oh, I appreciate that, Titania!
Right! Back to the Base.
I decide to throw Mia some Bonus EXP. As you probably have gathered by now, you can use Bonus EXP to level up your units at the Base. It's extremely handy for catching up low-level units without risking them in battle, or simply for evening out level disparities in your crew. Note that Bonus EXP doesn't convert 1:1 to normal EXP - in fact, at first, it converts 85:100, and the amount needed for a full level increases from there. There IS a formula for it, and I'm sure some goon or other will be delighted to a) tell you what it is, and b) tell you how it explains why I'm giving Mia doses of 21 at a time instead of one big lump.
Let's hope this turns out better than the last one.
Yep, that is certainly quite acceptable. One more, should be-
If you're wondering, the odds against Mia getting a perfect level are 2743 to one.
Alright, let's hit the shops.
We start out with 2500 Gold, which is welcome right now since most of our guys are sporting near-broken weapons, but it's not very much in the greater scheme of things. In unrelated news, I found the perfect use for the Slim Sword. Conveniently, the Shop Menu lumps all items, whether held by a unit or in the Convoy, together in one convenient menu for you to browse. That's pretty nifty.
If you ever get really desperate for money, the Bands sell for 2000G apiece. But, that's not a situation you're ever very likely to be in.
We also pop in to visit the Forge, although we've got no real use for it right now. The Forge allows you to create one weapon per chapter with tweaked stats. You can make a sword with increased power, or a Tome with decreased weight so Soren can actually hold it. We'll be back here later, don't you worry.
The main reason we're not staying is because forging is expensive as fuck right now. The increase in cost for forged weapons depends on how much the forged weapon's stats differ from the norm - I'm not sure what the formula is exactly, but adding one fucking point of Mt to a Wind tome quadruples its selling price. No thank you.
What we do do is buy an Iron Axe and a few Iron Swords, so Ike and Boyd have non-broken weapons to play with.
We also take this Mage Band we won from the last chapter's boss and put it on Rhys. The Mage Band only boosts one stat - magic - but it boosts it by 10% instead of 5. Since Magic is all Rhys really has to worry about as a healer, this seems like a no-brainer (especially since Soren needs Strength right now and has enough Magic growth to be getting along with anyway).
Well, we've exhausted all the exciting new menus available to us, so let's get on with our lives.
I think the death of Greil, the pre-Base conversations, the Base menu, and this just now all happened on separate days. I think.
Titania. Did you get enough rest?
Enough as could be expected, given everything that's been going on. But now, we've got some business to deal with. First, we need some new recruits. Oh, but our audience with King Gallia comes first. Any word from the palace?
No, nothing yet. According to the laguz who brought our food, we should be receiving word sometime soon, but...
Oh, wow, it's not often you manage to catch two people blinking at once.
We're in trouble. They have us completely surrounded. We cannot escape.
So many of them... and so few of us... It doesn't look good, does it?
I'll begin formulating a strategy immediately.
Mist! I want you and Rolf to go in the back and hide!
Just do it now! Everything will be fine, but I need you to do this, all right?
Mm... All right. Be careful...
Goddamnit, Mist, we don't have time for this! We've got plot to be getting on with!
Please. Will you protect him?
So. This feels familiar, doesn't it? The good news is, there's no Fog of War this time, even though there is a good deal of Actual Fog.
There's nothing much to really do in the pre-fight menu, so let's just get on with it, shall we? Our objective is to Defend for 8 turns. No problem.