Ahoy, one and all! ‘Tis I, Shanty Pete’s First Mate! In all me time ‘round the seven seas, I’ve dug up many a treasure. But in the process, I’ve discovered the greatest treasure of all. Is it love? Or friendship? Neither, ye silly livers – it’s legendary weapons! Tools of extraordinary value and immense power… those are the Captain’s favorite. Even though he can’t always make use of them…
But what, exactly, makes a weapon “legendary”? What traits does it need to fulfill? Does its narrative function matter more, or should we only look at gameplay? And how can I avoid spending a boatload of gold on “Missiletainn” – how was I supposed to know it wasn’t “Mystletainn”?!? The Captain had me hide for that one, and I’m lookin’ to get back into his good graces.
There are, essentially, two ways to do this. One is to look at all the “legendary” weapons, and see what traits they have in common. The other is to define a bunch of “legendary” traits, and see which weapons fulfill them. I don’t think it’s possible to strictly do one, or the other. If I do the former, then an easy objection is “wait, [weapon X] isn’t legendary!”, or “why didn’t you count [weapon Y]?” If the latter, then it’s “that trait doesn’t make sense, since it doesn’t include [weapon Z]!” As such, my approach will be to first take a look at a handful of “consensus” legendary weapons – that is, those that ninety-nine percent of players would probably call “legendary”. From there, we can identify shared traits, and use them to evaluate “edge cases”. Let’s start at the start.
Exhibit A: Falchion (Archanea)
This sword was forged from the fang of the great dragon, Naga, roughly a millennium before Marth embarked on his original adventure. It was used by the hero Anri, who would go on to found the Kingdom of Altea, to slay the Earth Dragon, Medeus. A century later, however, the sorcerer Gharnef revived Medeus, and took Falchion as his own. However, Marth would reclaim the sword, and use it to finish off Medeus for good. …Until three years later, when Marth had to do the same stuff all over again.
Why am I so confident calling Falchion a “legendary weapon”, right out the gate? Simple, really – it’s in the lore. Falchion is divine in origin, with a storied history of defeating a fearsome foe of great power. In the original title, Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, it’s the “Blade of Light”. If Falchion can’t be called legendary prima facie, then I may as well pack my bags and ship right on out.
Between its four Archanean appearances, the Falchion differs somewhat in stats, although other traits stay the same. On the S/NES, it has 10 Might, but this increases to 12 Might on the DS titles. Its Weight also fluctuates. However, certain traits remain the same for it – it has 100 Hit, 0 Crit, and infinite durability. It can only be used at 1-range, and Marth is its only user. It doesn’t become available to him until the second- or third-to-last mainline chapter in any game. While it has no explicit value, it cannot be sold to the shop. Even in games with forging, it cannot be forged to become stronger.
At first blush, this may not seem so impressive. The Silver Sword has 12 Might and 100 Hit in all the Archanea games (well, 90 Hit in Old Mystery). And while it demands a high weapon rank, it can be used by any Sword-wielding class. So, is Falchion just a Marth-exclusive Silver Sword, with infinite durability? By no means!
Here’s where we get into the special effects. In all of its appearances, the Falchion does bonus damage against the final boss, Medeus – and in all games beyond the first, this extends to all enemy Manaketes as well. What’s more, in the first game, it can seal certain physical attacks from the enemy. Finally, in all games but Old Mystery, Marth can use it to restore his own HP, whenever he feels like it.
There are plenty of traits here that may grab the eyes – infinite durability, limited accessibility, and effectiveness against the final boss, to name a few. But are any of these conditions necessary, or even sufficient, for a legendary weapon? Let’s not be satisfied with a sample size of one here!
Exhibit J: Book of Forseti
This is a tome of wind magic, originally crafted (written?) by the dragon who shares its name. It was gifted to the Crusader, Sety (using this name to distinguish him from Erinys’ son), with whom he made a blood pact, in the Miracle of Dahna. Sety then used the tome, alongside his similarly empowered allies, to turn the tide of war against the Loptyrian Empire. Together, they were able to defeat Emperor Galle XII, and his benefactor, the dark dragon Loptyr. After Sety founded the Kingdom of Silesse in northern Jugdral, the Book of Forseti became its national treasure. Centuries later, Queen Rahna would bestow it upon her son, Prince Lewyn, who used it to reclaim his homeland and aid his ally, Sigurd. In one possible future, it is inherited by his son Ced, who joins Prince Leif in liberating the Munster District from the Grannvalean Empire and the Loptous Cult.
In gameplay, the Book of Forseti is a Wind Tome with a * ranking. This means that it can only be used by individuals with Major Forseti blood. In the first generation of Genealogy of the Holy War, this is Lewyn. In the second generation, this is Lewyn’s son. However, among Lewyn’s possible sons, the only ones who can ever wield wind magic – and therefore, Forseti – are Arthur, Coirpre, and Ced. The last case is what Thracia 776 goes with – in that title, Forseti is effectively Ced’s personal weapon.
In either game, it’s a powerful weapon, with high Might (30 in FE4, 20 in FE5), 90 Hit, low Weight (5 in FE4, 6 in FE5), and 50 uses. As with most magical spells, it can hit at 1-2 range. Most substantial, however, are the stat boosts that it provides. In FE4, that’s +10 Skill and a whopping +20 Speed. In FE5, it’s +20 to both Skill and Speed, alongside 30 base Crit rate, and effective damage against enemy fliers.
As for its availability – well, that depends. In generation I of Genealogy, the Book of Forseti cannot be acquired until after Castle Silesse is liberated. At that point, there’s just one more castle to go in chapter 4, as well as the whole of chapter 5. In generation II, it comes with his son. So, if Arthur is Lewyn’s son, it will be usable as soon as chapter 6. But if Coirpre is his son, then it won’t be available until chapter 9, and won’t be usable until his son promotes. With Ced as his son, it comes late in chapter 8. As for Thracia 776, while green unit Ced will use it in chapter 4x, playable Ced won’t come around until chapter 23. That is, with just two or three chapters left to go in the game.
One more thing – much like Falchion, the Book of Forseti cannot be sold in either appearance. However, while its uses may appear limited in both games, that’s not entirely true. In Genealogy, the Tome can be repaired at any castle – I assume the blacksmith has a store of fresh ink. However, it comes at a cost – 1000 Gold per use! For comparison, the Tornado, an A-rank wind tome, has a cost of 240 Gold per use. In fact, this price is shared with all other usable * rank weapons, excluding the Valkyrie Staff.
Exhibit E: Armads
Armads, the Thunder Axe, was forged by mankind during the Scouring, about a millenium before the events of FE6. It was used by the Berserker, Durban. As one of the Eight Legends, he fought against Dragonkind, and claimed Elibe for humanity. After the war, he stowed the weapon in a cavern in the Western Isles. There, it lay undisturbed, until the Lycian lordling Hector took it up as his own. He used it to defeat Nergal and the Fire Dragon, saving the continent from war… for about two decades. Returned to its original hiding place, it was taken up again by one of Roy’s comrades, to rescue Elibe from King Zephiel’s nihilistic machinations.
Armads is a weapon of high Might – 18 in both appearances – but it’s offset by its high Weight (13 in FE6, 18 in FE7). It’s also relatively accurate for an Axe (75 Hit in FE6, 85 Hit in FE7). Its durability is limited, however, with 20 uses in FE6 and 25 in FE7. That said, it does provide effective damage against enemy dragons, alongside a welcome +5 Defense to the wielder. It cannot be sold, in any case.
Speaking of which, who can wield Armads? In FE6, it’s an S-rank Axe. Ergo, any unit who has reached S-rank in Axes can equip it, be they named Dieck or Douglas, Barth or Bartre. The same does not hold in FE7 – in that game, the Thunder Axe is exclusive to Hector. While it comes relatively early in FE6 (chapter 12x, roughly halfway through the game), it isn’t usable in FE7 until the very last chapter.
One more trait of note – in FE6, Armads is necessary for achieving the “true end”. It must not only be acquired, but also have at least 1 use remaining on it, in order for the player to progress beyond chapter 22. The same is true of Durandal, Forblaze, Aureola, Mulagir, Maltet, Apocalypse, and the Binding Blade.
Exhibit T: Alondite
The mighty sword, Alondite, is a weapon blessed by the Goddess Ashera. It was used by the Beorc heroine, Altina, along with its sister blade, Ragnell. In tandem with the Laguz Kings, Dheginsea and Soan, she fought to seal the Goddess of Chaos, Yune. From this point, Altina founded the Kingdom of Begnion, and Alondite became one of its national treasures. Fast forward a few centuries, and Alondite has become the personal weapon of the enigmatic Black Knight. Strange… why would a general of Daein be wielding Begnion’s national treasure? The Black Knight uses Alondite to defeat the hero Greil in single combat, but Ike would return the favor three years later, using its twin blade Ragnell (or a Hammer LOL). From there, Yune may bless Alondite, to make it a useful tool against the remaining Disciples of Order – not to mention, Ashera herself.
Alondite is a powerful weapon in both appearances, with 18 Might, 80 Hit, and 1-2 range. It also comes with a massive 20 Weight, but with a minor 5 Crit, alongside infinite durability. It also grants +5 Defense to the user. While it is enemy-exclusive in Path of Radiance, it becomes available to the player during the Endgame of Radiant Dawn. While its sister blade, Ragnell, is exclusive to Ike, Alondite can be used by any unit with SS rank in Swords. Unlike Ragnell, it cannot be used to deal the final blow on Ashera.
Exhibit F: The Lance of Ruin
The Lance of Ruin is a Hero’s Relic, associated with House Gautier of the Kingdom. Within the story’s narrative, it was stolen by Miklan, the elder son of Margrave Gautier. Regardless of which house they choose to lead, Teach will travel north to the Tower of Black Winds, to reclaim the Hero’s Relic. However, Miklan, who lacks a Crest, finds himself transformed into a hideous Black Beast. Once the Black Beast is defeated, Teach will give the Lance to Rhea – or Sylvain will interject, asking to take the Lance of Ruin for himself. While the Archbishop is disturbed by the request, she relents, instructing Sylvain not to let anyone else use the Hero’s Relic. Teach is free to disregard this directive with little-to-no penalty.
But where does the Lance of Ruin come from? As a Hero’s Relic, it’s a gift from the Goddess, originally provided to Gautier, one of the Ten Elites. Don’t mind all the twitching, it’s true! …From a certain point of view.
Now, it should come as no surprise that the Lance of Ruin is another powerful weapon. It has a shocking 22 Might, alongside 20 Crit, and a rather low Weight of 9. However, its hit rate is just 65, which could be problematic. Moreover, it has a meager 20 uses, but it can be repaired using the rare ore, Umbral Steel. However, it cannot be forged into a stronger form. The Lance of Ruin can be acquired right after chapter 5 (with Sylvain on the player’s team), or otherwise, once Sylvain’s paralogue has been completed.
Strangely enough, the Lance of Ruin can be used by… anyone? Really? That’s right, it’s an E-rank Lance. And since literally any class can use Lances, there’s no unit who can’t equip it. However, some do so better than others. If a unit doesn’t have a Crest, they will take up to 10 (non-lethal) damage after every phase of combat. Units who have a Crest take no penalty, but they receive no benefit otherwise. With one exception, in the Crest of Gautier. Any unit with the Crest of Gautier (Sylvain in NG, anyone with the Crest Stone in NG+) can use the exclusive combat art, Ruined Sky. This grants a stellar +13 Might, as well as +10 each to Hit, Crit, Avoid, and Dodge. Moreover, this art deals bonus damage against flying and draconic enemies.
One more thing – while Three Houses does not give weapons exclusive icons, there are differences among them. While most Lances have Bronze icon, the Lance of Ruin has a Golden icon. The same applies to other Hero’s Relics, including the “artificial” ones, like Aymr. Other weapons, such as the Spear of Assal or the Axe of Ukonvasara, have a Silver Icon. Finally, a black icon is exclusive to the Scythe of Sariel, the Death Knight’s signature weapon.
Well, with all these cases assembled, I’m all ready to… to… honestly, I’m done. I had already planned this to be a multi-part series, but Part I is ending sooner than I had anticipated. Obviously, I’m not going to do a “rundown” of every legendary weapon – no matter what the Captain tells you, I’m not a masochist. However, using these cases, it should be possible to analyze what traits are shared among the weapons, and where differences emerge. This should help to interpret the “legendary” status of other weapons, and in particular, should provide a template for analyzing “edge cases”. Beyond this point, I’d like to talk about what I view as the positives and negatives of legendary weapons, and how I’d like to see them handled in future games.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think in the comments below! If I've made any mistakes, please let me know, and I'll correct them. If you'd like to bring attention to any other legendary weapon, feel free to do so.