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Omegaprism

Fire Emblem: Dreams in the Dark

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Before I go further I should place this disclaimer: I know exactly dick about programming, romhacking, spriting, or digital art. This has only ever been a thought exercise, or a, "If I got to be in charge of a game," fantasy. I wish I had the time and the skills to make my own FE, but alas, you know how the world works, gentle reader(s).

So with that in mind, let's jam. I like the concept of manaketes, laguz, all the shapeshifting humanoid units. Fire Emblem is a high fantasy series, so why not get a little crazy and have all your units be shapeshifters? Then, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep as my infant son unconsciously nudged me in the ribs with his tiny little feet, the idea started to spread out and unfold. What if instead of being thought of as saviors and freedom fighters by people, your army was looked upon with horror? What if you were aliens? Or from another world where people evolved in a different direction? Why would you leave that world? What if you had to, because you had no home to go back to? That was the genesis of Dreams in the Dark. This thread will chronicle the ironing out of the story beats, the systems used in the game, and some hurdles I encountered in my game design document (hereafter referred to as GDD).

[spoiler=Battle Options]Pair-up is gone, but some of its functions have been absorbed, osmosis-style, into Fates' Attack Stance. When a unit moves adjacent to another one, the wait command is replaced with two new ones, Offense (supports with an extra attack at half-damage, just like Attack stance in Fates) and Defense (builds up a shield meter, but gives NO stat bonuses, and enemy units can attack either defending unit) instead. This should eliminate the "stat-backpack" mentality that became so prevalent in the 3DS games.

Rescue, Shove, and ledge mechanics are back. Weapon weight is not. Determining if one unit can be rescued or shoved by another is based on the rescuer/shover's STR and the Rescue/Shovee's DEF. Yes, this means that big, burly physical units are more adept at pushing and carrying their comrades.

Doubling is harder to do than in most modern FE games. A minimum SPD difference of at least 10 is required, barring the influence of weapons, soulstones, and skills.

Transforming is done manually, like in Tellius, but that is explored in more detail below.

[spoiler=Your Army]Here's an overview of the types of units you'll be able to field, and their rough equivalents in a real game.

Suzaku Tribe: All of these units can fly. What a surprise!
-Falcon - Pegasus knights. Uses lances in human form. Can gain swords or spellsongs upon promotion.
-Eagle - Archer. Uses bows in human form. Can gain spears or double down on bows after promotion.
-Owl - Rogue, minus the stealing. Uses shuriken in human form and picks locks. High skill. Can steal after promotion.
-Condor - Wyvern rider. Flying tanks! Uses axes in human form. Can uses lances after promotion.
-Hawk - Myrmidon. Proficient with swords in human form. Very fast, relies on avoid and luck. Not overly strong or sturdy.
-Raven - More traditional thief. Uses bows in human form. More speed focused than owls.
-Heron - Cleric/monk. Sings different songs that act like healing and buffing staves do in other games. Can use tomes after promotion.

Byakko Tribe: If you're looking for mounted units, these are the closest analogues you'll find, minus the actual mounts. Many of them have exceptional ground mobility.
-Cat - Cavalier! Uses swords in human form. Can use lances, axes, or staves after promotion.
-Tiger - Cavalier! Good move, decent defense and res. Uses lances in human form. Can promote for swords or axes.
-Lion - Cavalier! This one uses axes. Can learn lances or swords after promotion.
-Wolf - Mercenary. High skill. Well-rounded. Human form uses swords.
-Fox - Sneaky mage! Uses tomes in human form. Can pick locks in both forms. Can use shuriken after promotion.
-Bear - Axe fighter. High HP and strength. Low res. Uses axes as a human.

Genbu Tribe: The weirdo scaly ones! Yay! These guys have far and away the best aquatic mobility with the exception of the tortoise. They also have an eclectic selection of roles.
-Tortoise - Armor Knight. Uses axes. Can use lances and axes after promotion.
-Turtle - Pirate! Yar! Uses axes as a human.
-Frilled lizard - Mage. Uses tomes. Can learn spells that function like debuff staves (sleep, weakened, etc.) in other games after promotion.
-Toad - Another pirate! Yo ho ho! Uses axes and can steal. Can use swords after promotion.
-Snake - Aquatic thief. Uses shuriken, picks locks, and steals. Promotion can give lance proficiency.
-Salamander - Another cleric/monk. Proficient with all the staff-like magics. Can learn to use swords after promotion.

Seiryu Tribe: These folks earn their reputation as legendary beasts. You can only recruit one of each. Thinking of giving them 40 levels with no promotion, but not sure.
-Black - Dragon Lord. Our first lord unit. Dragon form can fly. Uses tomes as a human, mainly a prf tome called Earth. Can learn to use swords after promotion.
-Red - Dragon Knight. Human form counts as armored, uses axes and lances. Tremendous HP. Tremendous str, def, and skill as a dragon. Low luck and speed. Moderate res.
-White - Dragon Mage. Human form can use all kinds of magic. Both forms can move over deserts and in water tiles with ease. Tremendous Mag and res. Moderate HP, skill, and speed. Low luck and def.
-Purple - Fairy Dragon. Human form can use bows, shuriken, and tomes. Dragon form has no attacks, but can refresh units like a bard or a dancer. Both forms fly. Tremendous luck. High speed. Moderate mag and res. Low HP, str, skill, and def.

[spoiler=Movement]You know who wins at Fire Emblem? Fliers. They have among the largest movement ranges in every game, and can blissfully glide right over forests, mountains, water, gaping ravines, and all at no movement penalty. Hell, in some games, they can use some of their rather generous movement stat, act, and then move again. That kind of superior mobility is crazy! Look at every game in the series and you'll notice that fliers are always a highly valued resource. And why not? It doesn't matter what kind of statistical advantage the really slow units like armor knights and generals have. In most maps mobility matters, and you can usually find at least one heavy armor unit at the bottom of most tier lists.

I can't claim to have any kind of a perfect solution, but here's my idea: Special terrain that only affects fliers. Clouds that provide avoid bonuses, strong winds that slow airborne movement in one or more directions, and atmospheric turbulence that can't be flown through at all are the basic tiles that I came up with. These don't have to be ubiquitous, but certainly should be sprinkled throughout the game to provide another factor to consider when planning one's tactics. If your game uses skills (mine theoretically does) it even makes special movement skills like acrobat suddenly relevant to more of your army.

Also, while we're talking about mobility, let's talk about water tiles! This is probably so uncommon as to be essentially a non-issue with most games, but I planned an entire sub-campaign around aquatic maps and battle on the high seas, so I might as well reinvent the wheel a little bit. Now, making units that are only good in the water is a mad fool's dream, and while I am both mad and foolish, I prefer a more practical approach: Amphibious units, like pirates in the GBA games. The only problem with pirates and berserkers in most FEs is that they only get to swim one space at a time. That is a little counterproductive, don't you think? Take for example Sacred Stones chapter 9a. This is a map that almost looks like it was designed to showcase a pirate's ability to move on water. If, say, you promote Ross to pirate, he can spend 5-6 turns or so moving across that relatively small stretch of water in the bay, or you can use Vanessa to cart a whole friggin' squad of your landlocked units straight into the action in the same amount of time. That's barely even a choice! Also, why is it that nobody knows how to ford a river?

Long story short, my solution on paper is to use shallow water tiles and deeper water tiles. Shallow tiles have a steep movement penalty, but can be traversed by most units, and deep water tiles are impassable by landbased mounts (or in my game's case landbased quadrupeds) without a special skill, and can be navigated by "infantry" type units at a 3x movement cost (round down). If a unit is amphibious in nature they can move normally through any water tiles. I also toyed with the idea of strong directional currents, but I don't know if that's too much of a gimmick and should be relegated to "That one map" status. Of course, if in the totally crazy and not-at-all reasonable case you aren't looking to make a story centered around maps covered in water, all of this talk of water mobility might be "that one map" material, so whatever.

[spoiler=Customization and promotion]Skills are Tellius style. The player will find skill scrolls throughout the game. These will be the main method for units to learn new skills, other than some class-locked skills, such as Avoid +10 or Crit +20. Everyone has a skill capacity. Promoted (or special) units have a bigger cap, and better skills take more to equip. There are also special items that can permanently increase your skill capacity, but they are rare and in limited supply, just like every other stat booster. Also, most classes have a class skill that cannot be removed, but also doesn't eat into their capacity. Several characters also start with skills equipped by default, at no capacity cost. Removing these skills will turn them into scrolls that can be equipped to anyone with the capacity, but the capacity-free benefit is lost. These pre-equipped skills will be referred to as default skills until I can think of a better term for them.

Promotion is handled with master seals and leveling past 20, also Tellius-style. Each unit can choose either to embrace their more humanlike side when they promote, becoming more like traditional units and focusing on the weapons of those classes, or their primal side, in which case they will largely focus on their natural weapons, which are represented by striking. There are also a couple of items that give a unit a special promotion, similar to how the Dread Scroll and Wedding Bouquet in Awakening worked. Beyond that, there is no reclassing. This means that, once a special promotion item is used, that unit cannot go back to their regular promotion line.

[spoiler=Weapons and equipment]All the classic weapon types are back: Swords, lances, axes, bows, tomes, and shuriken (admittedly not a classic, but it makes the ranged weapon triangle complete). Shuriken and knives no longer grant debuffs, and are restricted to either 1 or 2 range. Some special 1-2 range shuriken exist, but they have the same restrictions that other 1-2 range weapons do in Fates (no doubling, no crits, no battle skills, -5 resistance to enemy doubling). Speaking of which, magic is the only weapon type that by default has no penalties for being effective at 1-2 range, and bows are still awesome at 2 range, but only some special bows can attack at 1 range.

The weapon triangle is Fates-style. Transformations work on a separate triangle: Beasts>Birds>Scalies. Dragons remain separate, because they are special snowflakes. Also, the Genbu tribe is a type that replaces Armor types for the purposes of weaknesses. There will be specialized weapons that deal effective damage to the different unit types, like beast lances, deep/dragonslayer swords, all bows against Suzaku, etc.

Back from Tellius is striking, with the tweak that you can now actively attack bare-handed (or taloned, or clawed, or what-have-you) on your turn, even as a humanoid. Every Vilcoorian in the game starts with a strike proficiency and a more conventional weapon proficiency. Your strike rank affects what transformation stones you can equip as well as the strength of your beast form's attacks.

Weapon durability is more like FE4 than anything else. Most manmade weapons will have limited uses, but can be repaired by a blacksmith. Transformations are only limited by the gauge, and soulstones never run out of uses. Forging is now used to change a weapon into a new one using precious materials (for example, combining an iron lance with a pearl creates a slim lance).

[spoiler=Transformation]Transformation works with a heavy influence from the Tellius games (gauge) and a little bit of the other games (stones can be equipped to change stat boosts). First, the gauge is a little different. It goes up to 10. Transforming can be done at the beginning or the end of a unit's action, but not both (barring a skill). Every turn they spend as a humanoid increases the gauge by 1. Every battle they participate in as a humanoid increases the gauge by 1. Every turn they spend transformed decreases their gauge by 1. It does not decrease due to battles. There are also a couple of spell-songs that affect transformation gauges. As long as a unit has at least 1 in their transformation gauge they can take their beast form. Each type of unit has specific stat boosts in beast form that can change depending on if they have a soul stone equipped. Stones add various effects (Reverse weapon triangle, target res or def instead of the other way around, add element for weakness purposes, etc.) and change how stats are affected, like beaststones versus beastrunes or beaststones+ in Fates. Transformation stones are NOT weapons, but accessories, and should be relatively uncommon. Each unit type has a set starting point for their gauge, and some promoted units can even start a battle with their gauge maxed out.

[spoiler=Playing House]Every character will have a support pool of roughly 3-5, with the odd outlier who has 6. The player can max out all of them at A rank, if they like. Maxing out a support line will open up a base conversation. Viewing said conversation will give those two characers a paired ending, and unlocks a skill scroll if one or more parties has a default skill equipped.

Affinities are back. The types and their associated bonuses are pulled right out of Radiant Dawn. Since pair-up is gone, these bonuses are active so long as the two characters are within 3 spaces of each other, including if one unit is rescuing the other. I don't know if any of the real games ever did this, but any given character can benefit from any and all of their support partners' affinities, as long as they are within support range. This, combined with the lack of pair-up, should encourage formations and strategies other than, "duct tape two units together -> sprint for the boss -> profit!" At least I hope so.

There is also a separate rating called, "Authority," which reflects how the refugees from Vilcoor feel about their leader. It starts out with a 'D' rating, and the decisions and accomplishments of Frey or whoever leads the group after she dies will improve it, up to a maximum rating of S, and several things can lower it, such as character deaths, neutral units dying, and, well, that's all I've got for now. Higher authority ratings confer several benefits, such as hit and avoid bonuses, increased shop variety, and the likelihood that a unit who falls in battle will survive their wounds and come back after a battle is finished in Classic mode.

There are no 2nd generation units. There is already enough time/space nonsense with the world-hopping gateways, and the homogenization of the support system that they bring has left a bad taste in my mouth.

Edited to reflect the changes to the thread so far.

Edited by Omegaprism

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Hey! You got my message!

Yeah, let's talk about those classes you were talking about in the FE15 Story thread. My copy and paste say that you had:

Birds:

Falcon

Eagle

Owl

Hawk

Condor

Raven

Heron

Beasts:

Cat

Tiger

Lion

Wolf

Fox

Bear

Scales:

Tortoise

Turtle

Snake

Lizard

Salamander

Toad

Dragons:

Black Dragon

Red Dragon

White Dragon

Purple Dragon

So, compare them to previous FE classes, please.

Who's our Myrmidon? Thief? Monk? Cavalier?

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Yes! Right! Here we go! Back from important work stuff!

Suzaku Tribe: All of these units can fly. What a surprise!

Falcon - Pegasus knights. Uses lances in human form. Can gain swords or spellsongs upon promotion.

Eagle - Archer. Uses bows in human form. Can gain spears or double down on bows after promotion.

Owl - Rogue, minus the stealing. Uses shuriken in human form and picks locks. High skill. Can steal after promotion.

Condor - Wyvern rider. Flying tanks! Uses axes in human form. Can uses lances after promotion.

Hawk - Myrmidon. Proficient with swords in human form. Very fast, relies on avoid and luck. Not overly strong or sturdy.

Raven - More traditional thief. Uses bows in human form. More speed focused than owls.

Heron - Cleric/monk. Sings different songs that act like healing and buffing staves do in other games. Can use tomes after promotion.

Byakko Tribe: If you're looking for mounted units, these are the closest analogues you'll find, minus the actual mounts. Many of them have exceptional ground mobility.

Cat - Cavalier! Uses swords in human form. Can use lances, axes, or staves after promotion.
Tiger - Cavalier! Good move, decent defense and res. Uses lances in human form. Can promote for swords or axes.
Lion - Cavalier! This one uses axes. Can learn lances or swords after promotion.
Wolf - Mercenary. High skill. Well-rounded. Human form uses swords.
Fox - Sneaky mage! Uses tomes in human form. Can pick locks in both forms. Can use shuriken after promotion.
Bear - Axe fighter. High HP and strength. Low res. Uses axes as a human.

Genbu Tribe: The weirdo scaly ones! Yay! These guys have far and away the best aquatic mobility with the exception of the tortoise. They also have an eclectic selection of roles.

Tortoise - Armor Knight. Uses axes. Can use lances and axes after promotion.

Turtle - Pirate! Yar! Uses axes as a human.

Frilled lizard - Mage. Uses tomes. Can learn spells that function like debuff staves (sleep, weakened, etc.) in other games after promotion.

Toad - Another pirate! Yo ho ho! Uses axes and can steal. Can use swords after promotion.

Snake - Aquatic thief. Uses shuriken, picks locks, and steals. Promotion can give lance proficiency.

Salamander - Another cleric/monk. Proficient with all the staff-like magics. Can learn to use swords after promotion.

Seiryu Tribe: These folks earn their reputation as legendary beasts. You can only recruit one of each. Thinking of giving them 40 levels with no promotion, but not sure.

Black - Dragon Lord. Our first lord unit. Dragon form can fly. Uses tomes as a human, mainly a prf tome called Earth. Can learn to use swords after promotion.

Red - Dragon Knight. Human form counts as armored, uses axes and lances. Tremendous HP. Tremendous str, def, and skill as a dragon. Low luck and speed. Moderate res.

White - Dragon Mage. Human form can use all kinds of magic. Both forms can move over deserts and in water tiles with ease. Tremendous Mag and res. Moderate HP, skill, and speed. Low luck and def.

Purple - Fairy Dragon. Human form can use bows, shuriken, and tomes. Dragon form has no attacks, but can refresh units like a bard or a dancer. Both forms fly. Tremendous luck. High speed. Moderate mag and res. Low HP, str, skill, and def.

EDIT: And wow, that took longer to finish than I'd have liked.

Edited by Omegaprism

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Oh! Here's a good idea that I had!

Sandstorm- Tome. Damage boosted if Wielder is on a desert tile.

Entangle- Damage boosted on forest tile

Rock Riot- Mountain

Geyser- Water

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As to the "learns spells" bit, sorry, that was a bit vague. I just don't know what to call the staves in this game since they aren't staves anymore. the player would still find them and they would function almost exactly like staves do, but now the healer-type units do something else (sing? chant? play guitar?). Of course there are some spell effects that require higher "staff" rank than others, thus as your rank gets better you can cast more spells. You still have to have them in your inventory and what-have-you, and unless I can find an alternative that doesn't break the game's balance they still have limited charges.

Someone's been studying their Chinese celestial avatars.

Yes indeed! But only on the most basic, pop-culture awareness level. :P

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How about sheet music? It makes sense.

dragonkin.jpg

Here's a good look for the Dragon Knight class. Thoughts?

Edited by Corrobin

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Hm, that's actually not too far off. I imagined less spiky protrusions and wielding massive 2-handed weapons instead of sword and board, but yeah, not too bad.

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Update: yesterday I went to a doctor about a persistent pain in my hand and the doctor told me no videogames and one-handed typing only. So for a day or two this will be the only typing I do.

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I do, but typing it up one-handed will be such a monumental pain that I'm waiting for my doctor's go-ahead to use my left hand again. He said if things go well it could be okay by next Tuesday.

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Feeling better? Wanna talk about that plot and characters?

Also: Is transforming more like the Tellius games, or what Awakening/Fates did with Corrin, Keaton and Kaden?

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This thread was starting to collect dust and cobwebs, so today I type with a brace on my wrist! It turns out tendon sheath injuries take a long time to heal (boo) but I can still type one-handed. So, let's talk about weapons, weapon ranks, and transforming.

So first I'll tackle transforming. It works with a heavy influence from the Tellius games (gauge) and a little bit of the other games (stones can be equipped to change stat boosts). First, the gauge is a little different. It goes up to 10. Transforming can be done at the beginning or the end of a unit's action, but not both (barring a skill). Every turn they spend as a humanoid increases the gauge by 1. Every battle they participate in as a humanoid increases the gauge by 1. Every turn they spend transformed decreases their gauge by 1. It does not decrease due to battles. There are also a couple of spell-songs that affect transformation gauges. As long as a unit has at least 1 in their transformation gauge they can take their beast form. Each type of unit has specific stat boosts in beast form that can change depending on if they have a soul stone equipped. Stones add various effects (Reverse weapon triangle, target res or def instead of the other way around, add element for weakness purposes, etc.) and change how stats are affected, like beaststones versus beastrunes or beaststones+ in Fates. Transformation stones are NOT weapons, but accessories, and should be relatively uncommon. Each unit type has a set starting point for their gauge, and some promoted units can even start a battle with their gauge maxed out.

As for weapons, all the classics are back: Swords, lances, axes, bows, tomes, and shuriken (admittedly not a classic, but it makes the ranged weapon triangle complete). Back from Tellius is striking, with the tweak that you can now actively attack bare-handed (or taloned, or clawed, or what-have-you) on your turn, even as a humanoid. Every Vilcoorian in the game starts with a strike proficiency and a more conventional weapon proficiency. Your strike rank affects what transformation stones you can equip as well as the strength of your beast form's attacks. Each unit can choose either to embrace their more humanlike side when they promote, becoming more like traditional units and focusing on the weapons of those classes, or their primal side, in which case they will largely focus on their natural weapons, which are represented by striking.

A quick note about shuriken: They are a touch too good in Fates, so I'm trying to think of a way to balance them with the rest of the weapons. No luck so far, but I admit I've been busy.

Next time, characters and plot stuff!

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Hope that arm is healing.

Can I and others help you with this idea? It sounds really interesting, and I know some people would be interested in it.

As for me, I am a great idea person. Weapons? Skills? Characters? All of them and more.

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Holy hell, I am sorry! I had to wait for so long for my stupid wrist to heal I forgot about my own thread.

Okay, last time I promised plot and character stuff. I haven't been working on this idea for a while, so I admit the characters are still a little sparse. Here's what I have so far:

Frey – Our first lord, the Black Dragon Princess. She feels the heavy burden of seeing the end of her homeland and her people. Generally serious, but a little bit arrogant. In battle she is a force to be reckoned with, and she knows it. Doesn’t understand why so many people want to stay and die. Happiest in the company of her best friend and closest confidant, Veronica. In humanoid form she uses tomes, and starts with a prf weapon called, “Terra.” The attack animation shows a swirling black hole sucking up rocks and debris centered on the enemy. Dragon form has two weapons: Bite (physical) and breath (magical). Has two promotion options: Mage Knight (human form can use swords and gains soulstone bonuses) and Dragon Queen (Gains Tellius Royal-style formshift ability).

Veronica – A hawk swordmaster of the Suzaku tribe. Frey’s best friend and bodyguard, trained from birth to protect her. Typically more diplomatic than her liege, and thus is often the voice of reason. She is our first prepromote, and as such is a bit sturdier and more well-balanced in her base stats than other hawks will be starting out. Her speed and skill growths are excellent, but her defense and HP growths are mediocre at best. Has earned the nickname “Cerulean Gale,” for her lightning quick sword strikes and blue plumage. Starts with a silver sword.

Barash – Green-furred cat and half of the requisite Christmas cavalier pair (though, once again, not actually a mounted unit). Acts like he has something to prove and will readily jump into a fight over imagined slights to his fighting prowess or his devotion to serving Frey. Personal saying is, “Don’t think I won’t cut you!” Tends to have a little more speed and resistance than Dorgo.

Dorgo – Red-furred tiger and the other (mountless) Christmas cavalier. Doesn’t believe in doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Often has to talk Barash out of starting pointless fights. One of his ancestors was saved by Frey’s grandfather, and ever since then his family has held the Seiryu dragons in high regard. Tends to be a little stronger and more skilled than Barash.

Ruganel – A golden lion and the current chieftain of the Byakko after his father dies defending their home from brigands. Burly and proud, but hesitant to make decisions he knows will end the lives of his people. Secretly admires Frey’s conviction, and that is why, even though many believe he should challenge her for leadership of the Vilcoorian army, he does not. Good defense and HP, decent Mag. He joins at level 12.

Other characters I wrote down vague descriptions for: twitchy frilled-lizard mage who everyone assumes is always up to something, proud wolf mercenary-type couple with a ton of kids, cynical ancient red dragon knight looking for a last chance at redemption, annoyingly genki fairy dragon boy, token heron stereotype (super thin, graceful, pale, physically wimpy, etc.), and macabre weirdo salamander healer/doctor. I also wrote, and I quote, "Turtle lord?" True literary genius at work here.

Thankfully the plot outline I made is much more complete. I'll post it soon.

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If you want to think up some stuff, be my guest! My main request is that you try and keep them relatively balanced for a Fire Emblem game. That is, at its heart, what I was trying to imagine.

Also, removing the stat debuffs from knives and shuriken is one good step towards balancing them, but I was thinking maybe instead that they also didn't naturally grant +2 speed across the board. that kind of stat boost with no drawback is normally reserved for sacred or legendary weapons. Couple that with the fact that (at least in Fates) the classes that are proficient with them are already naturally fast makes it a little overkill. It might also be worth it to specify that certain hidden weapons are 2-range only, and others are 1-range only, and a few of them can do 1-2 range, but with the same brutal drawbacks that other 1-2 range weapons are subject to (no doubling, no skills, etc.). If magic continues to be the main 1-2 range weapon, that is fine by me. In short: universal 1-2 range is really good by itself. Debuffing power is a little crazy, but by itself more interesting than game-breaking. +2 speed in an environment where doubling has been made harder in general is pretty powerful as well. But combining all three of these factors into a whole category of weapon? That is a first-class voucher for a ticket to nerf city in my book.

But anyway, I think that's enough typeface about Fates' new weapons, even if I think they should be in my little theoretical game. I'm off to find that text file with all my story notes on it!

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Thank you! Let's start with some weapons...

Bloodedge: A sword with a Nosfuratu effect

Ruby Blade: +1 to Strength, -1 to Speed

Emerald Blade: +1 to Speed, -1 to Skill

Topaz Blade: +1 to Skill, -1 to Strength

How about some skills:

WARNING: GAMEBREAKING, FOR LATEGAME ENEMIES ONLY

Sol+: When activated, heals for damage dealt

Luna+: Completely ignores Defence/Resistance

Astra+: Hit five times at full strength

Ignis+: Add Magic to Attack or vice-versa

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Okay, story time! Here's a brief mission statement of sorts, followed by a little bit of more in-depth brain vomit:

The story plays out in a few separate "books." Book 1 is set on a dying world that has been ravaged by war and eldritch abominations, called Vilcoor (ヴィルクア). It represents what would happen if the bad guys won in a typical Fire Emblem plot. Supernatural storms rake lightning across the landscape. Monsters walk (or fly, or just shamble) freely, killing and devouring anything and anyone they come across. The people of this destroyed world have adapted to become beastlike themselves after many generations of exposure to the wild magic that permeates the air itself (think Laguz). There are four tribes still alive, each named after its first ruler: Suzaku (the wing tribe), Byakko (Beast tribe), Genbu (the Deep tribe), and Seiryu (the Dragon tribe). Our first protagonist is a young woman (by the standards of her people) of the Seiryu tribe. Her parents, the king and queen of these blasted lands, have recently fallen in a battle to destroy the source of the great evil and stop the apocalypse. With their mission a failure she is faced with an impossible task: Save her kingdom, or at the very least save her people. With her most trusted bodyguard (A swordswoman of the wing tribe) at her side she sets out to gather the scattered clans of survivors and make use of the very same portal that brought the ancient evil to her world, and find a new home. The catch, of course, is that to open this gateway, a sacrifice of sufficient life force is required. Solving this problem will be one of a few important choices the player must make over the course of the game.

Once that mission is accomplished the player must choose a new Lord. There are chieftains of a few clans to choose from, each representing a different unit type: The swordfighter bodyguard from Book 1, a reckless lion man, and a tankalicious tortoise. Each of these characters has their own story beyond the dragon's gate in which their people arrive on a new, unfamiliar world and must adapt while fighting off the attacks of that world's natives. Each book will have a complete arc (around 10-15 chapters) and credits will roll. The main themes are sacrifice and choice. Once you have completed every book, another lord becomes available, and in their story, titled Extra Book: Finale, the cast is reunited. There will also be a new ending if you play through the whole game again after beating it, in which some dialogue is changed and a few major events offer new options for the choices you have to make.

Book 1 starts out in a fairly typical manner. Our Heroine, Frey of the Seiryu, broods by herself. She stands atop a great mountain and observes the ruin that was once her world. Extreme and unpredictable weather has obliterated any arable land. Worse yet, the ground itself has begun breaking apart and slowly being sucked into the endless, swirling mass of clouds in the sky. How did this misfortune come to pass? Why, with all of her strength and knowledge, can she do nothing to stop it? She greets her trusty bodyguard and best friend, Veronica the Swordmaster of the Suzaku, as she approaches, and they share a few words before descending into the mountain’s caves to confer with the royal advisors. Matters are as dire as they feared. Their food stores are all but empty. Their wells have gone dry. They have retreated from their ruined cities and made homes in caves, or anywhere else that can weather the rampage of the elements. If something is not done they will all be dead in less than a year.

Frey hatches a plan for an exodus beyond the outrealm gate, and declares that anyone who wants to live will follow her. She will need the wisest and bravest at her side if she is to expect success in her journey. The plan is initially scoffed at, but after conferring among themselves, the sages are unable to imagine a better idea. Thus, preparations for the great journey begin. Missives are sent across the land, or what remains of it, to the known enclaves of the last survivors of Vilcoor. Whenever and wherever possible, signs are posted announcing an official emigration mission. Everyone who is able is encouraged to pack up and join the expedition: Young, old, strong, and weak. (This will be an important factor in a gameplay mechanic involving management of your followers over the course of the game. Through various decisions as its leader you'll unlock or lose items, equipment, one or two extra options for an important plot-related decision down the line, even some recruitable characters later in the game. The last remnants of a kingdom are more than just its most able fighters, after all.) Along the way are several encounters that must be overcome. Brigands and opportunists that see the departing expedition as easy prey must be fended off, and more often than not, when Frey's emissaries arrive at an enclave with their ludicrous claims, the situation quickly escalates to armed conflict. Vilcoor's people are a fierce lot that don't trust easily, and are even less likely to just give in to the demands of a royal family that they have barely paid lip-service to in the past.

Veronica's family lead a village of Suzaku who have always been on amenable terms with Frey's family in the past, and they gladly join up. However, at least one other community think they are safe enough in the skies, and can remain untouched by the worldwide devastation. Frey can insist that they won't escape death without her, or tell them to have a nice doom. Refusing to leave without them leads to a battle.

Woden, the tortoise chieftain of the Deep tribe, knows that the oceans and rivers that his people have made their homes in are boiling, freezing, drying up, or becoming so poisonous that no living thing can survive in them any longer. Strong racial prejudice, however, causes several soldiers guarding the expedition to attack on sight, leading to a mess that must be mediated with care.

The Byakko, prehaps the most populous of the remaining tribes, are varying degrees between neutral and hostile in their interactions. Many believe that their leader, the mighty Ruganel the golden lion, should be the king of Vilcoor, and Frey had in fact named him as a possible successor in the event of her demise. Some of the Beast tribe are all too eager to be the catalyst for what they consider to be an eventuality. Strangely enough, Ruganel himself is much more agreeable to the idea of an exodus. Whether it is because his father warned him of a coming apocalypse, or that he simply acknowledges Frey's power, is a topic of much discussion and argument over campfires and libations.

There are other mixed groups of survivors huddled together against the growing darkness, bound by the necessity of strength in numbers rather than any racial ties: The nomadic band of merchants, a group of outlaws who live by a self-defined code that conveniently allows for theft in the name of protection and providing for each other, and other Vilcoorians who are just desperate for a chance to keep living by any means necessary.

Frey and her retinue set out from their mountain castle at the beginning of spring. Throughout their trek across the lands, Frey and the others will often talk about what how the season used to be a time of renewal, when plants would seemingly bloom to life after the cold silence of winter. Frey expresses mild envy at the others because they had more time to enjoy the seasons before everything went downhill. It is revealed that, except for a few of the oldest sages in the caravan, no one else remembers a time before the cataclysm. Even though she looks between 18 to 23 years old, Frey is actually 378, and one of the oldest Vilcoorians alive. Veronica makes a jab at her for being kind of a brat and an old lady at the same time, and everyone in her retinue has a brief laugh before she gives them a sinister smile, saying, "You think that's funny, do you?"

By the midsummer they an ancient shrine that houses a massive archway called the Cosmic Gateway. This is their destination, and the first great hurdle they must overcome. It is said to be cursed ground, where the spirits of the dead wander with resentment for the living. Several spirits of dead Vilcoorians guard the gate, and must be slain to gain access. The boss of the ghostly foes is an undead dragon that looks like the remains of two corpses partially merged. It can move and attack twice in one round and in combat it fights as if with a brave weapon. Upon defeat its body simply melts away, leaving behind an orb not unlike a giant pearl. It makes Frey physically ill to even touch it, so she opts to give it to one of her inner circle. The player then chooses either Veronica, Ruganel, or Woden to hold onto it. That task done, the group turns to the gate and finds an inscription that reads like instructions for the Cosmic Gateway, but written with such excessive poetic flourish and obtuse reverence that they can only make out one fact: The gate is powered by the life force of a sacrifice. Frey must then make a difficult decision: who has to die so that everyone else might live?

Their are several volunteers. Anyone who has achieved a support level of at least C with Frey will immediately offer their life. The message gets out among the people of the caravan, and several elders come forward, saying that there should be enough life left in each of them that if they all sacrifice themselves, the gate should open for a brief period, though they don't know if their will be enough time for everyone to make it through. Finally, Frey can also choose to give her own life for the sake of her kingdom. Everyone in the army will object, especially Veronica, who was the first to offer her own life instead.

Whoever the player chooses will step up to a podium that stands before the Cosmic Gate and place their hands on a pair of inset spheres that begin to glow. Their body will almost immediately slump over, lifeless, and the arch will crackle with power. Glowing runes appear in the air and a great vortex slowly swirls into being, like pulling the plug out of the air itself. With a great clap of thunder and a wave of force that shoves those gathered before it away, the gate opens. The Vilcoorians step through the chaotic vortex, and the screen fades to white, with only a message in the center:

Book 1 End

More next time!

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I'm glad you are enjoying it! Hopefully the rest of the story won't disappoint.

Sorry for the wait between posts. The computers at the school where I work got an annual OS update and hard drive cleaning, so I had to spend some time moving work files onto the server, and then I had to find a backup of the file with all my notes on it. I've got more on the way, so please be patient.

Edited by Omegaprism

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