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A Three Houses Inspired Idea by a Guy Who Hasn't Played Three Houses

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Okay so I haven't played Three Houses which is going to show here but uh...hope you like this throwing of ideas at the wall.

A few cues are taken from Three Houses based on what I've heard. You have a first part which lasts like 5-10 chapters or whatever, then you have a time skip, and after than you have a second part.

Most the training / school type stuff is restricted to Part 1. During that portion of the game, you're mainly restricted to the following few units, maybe 2-4 others to fill in the gaps in your team. Perhaps casual mode would be active for this part.
During Part 2, you start to get pre-trained units like in regular Fire Emblem games. Classes don't really exist in this game as much as the various ranks / skills you get by the education system (or just have for most Part 2 units), and that somehow that has to be reconciled with this being a game where you can still improve your units after Part 1 in some way beyond just leveling them up.

***

Malcolm: @Jotari might remember where I got the inspiration for this idea.

Spoiler

Your main lord guy. He's so incredibly specialized towards punching people that you literally can't not make him a punching people infantry unit.

  • Strengths: Gauntlets, Authority
  • Weaknesses: Riding, Flying
  • Budding Talent: Faith (Take the advice of Joan more than Otto by the end of part one, otherwise do X)
  • Budding Talent: Reason (Take the advice of Otto more than Joan by the end of part one, otherwise do Y)

Malcolm starts Part 1 as a lazy, selfish, whiny prick who looks like a twig has authority suddenly thrust upon him. Over the course of the first part, he must make several tough decisions and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. By the time Part 2 rolls around, he's a changed man. Stoic, noble, and incredibly buff, he's an immovable muscle man who has both physically and emotionally matured, developed, and improved. When troubles rears its head again, and more severely than before, he takes on a mantle of responsibility which he is then both suitable for and deserving of.

This game introduces an idea from Berwick Saga ( @Saint Rubenio ) . Character's don't unlock additional talents from studying, they do from plot events or character events. There's all kinds of random events that lead to unlocking new skills. Throughout Part 1, Malcolm is learning how to be a leader and is tugged between two advisers- the idealistic Joan and the pragmatic Otto. Whether he enters Part 2 with Faith or Reason depends on which one he sides with more often. That said, he can eventually learn both.

Yeltsin:

Spoiler

He be your old man Jeigan type. He is very specialized, he can either stay a paladin-type unit or go go for heavy army and increase his bulk. This specialization is furthered by the game's education system, which means that high level units with lots of skills already (like Yeltsin) don't have a lot of room to grow or diversify.

  • Strengths: Lances, Riding, Heavy Armor
  • Weaknesses: Flying, Bows, Reason

During Part 1, Yeltsin takes a moderate position between Joan and Otto, and is the one who asks what Malcolm ultimately wants to do. Come Part 2, Yeltsin comes down with a case of Arran's disease. Unlike Arran, Yeltsin will actually die from this before the campaign ends. He'll become bedridden, sit out for a certain chapter, and when you come back he's dead.

However, you can save him. Throughout the game, each character has personal problems that you can solve by undertaking gaidens and collecting items and spending money. This will give you something to do with excess gold and add a degree of resource management and touch decisions. Who do you want to help? Or do you want to have more weapons?

Curing Yeltsin is one of the most expensive and difficult sidequests to undertake. You don't really get a lot of practical benefit out of it- you can use Yeltsin for the last 5-6 chapter but he's not going to be able to contribute much by that point. You really are doing it just because you've spent so much time with the old fool and you want to see him live. That said, Yeltsin is pretty old and doesn't have too many years ahead of him, cured or otherwise. Those resources, which you have in finite supply, could have instead been spent on stuff like lifting another unit's family out of perpetual poverty. You wonder if you should just let him die fighting during a chapter, which seems like what he'd want given the alternatives. That would hurt your survival rank, though. So you've gotta think about that stuff.

I like this idea 'cause I don't really know what the right thing to do would be, and your decision on that matter may conflict with how you traditionally play Fire Emblem.

Otto and Joan:

Spoiler

Otto: "Please don't do anything stupid."

  • Strengths: Authority, Reason, Riding
  • Weaknesses: Heavy Armor, Flying, Axes

The guy who always suggests you do something pragmatic, cunning, and underhanded. Plainspoken and unemotive. He's the heir to a noble house in Part 1, but by Part 2 is a more formal member of the court and continues to advise Malcolm.

Joan: "Ignoble victories are not worth winning."

  • Strengths: Authority, Faith, Heavy Armor, Lances
  • Weaknesses: Riding, Flying, Gauntlets

The gal who always suggests you do something selfless, heroic and virtuous. A bold individual with a baroque way of speaking. She's the heir to a noble house in part 1, but by Part 2 is a more formal member of the court and continues to advise Malcolm.

***

Otto and Joan have skills that parallel each other. Otto is a black mage on a horse. Joan is a white mage in heavy armor. Neither can fly. As leader types / advisers to leader types / political officials, they have authority strengths. Joan is not weak and reason and Otto is not weak in faith as a way to reinforce that they aren't incapable of understanding how the other thinks or even embracing some aspects of such thought. However, they still prefer their own approach and place different values on different things.

The Other Ones: These guys don't have names, but some of them are pretty interesting.

Spoiler

The Skeptic: Built to be a Dark Flier type unit. She dislikes the common faith, and despite my best efforts would probably end up being a strawman antitheist. She first came to disagree with it due to questions of continuity, which made her feel very smart. Afterwards she started seeking out criticisms of its spiritual substance. Her primary criteria for the quality of a book is how many plotholes it has. The emotional depth, humanity, or usefulness of a book it is not something she concerns herself with. Despite this, she is very concerned with the truth, she doesn't want other people to be wrong and very much likes to be right. She wouldn't be an evangelist for atheism if that wasn't the case.

  • Strengths: Reason, Lances, Flying
  • Weaknesses: Bows, Faith, Heavy Armor

The Preacher: Short tempered but well meaning and devout. In a series of conflicts which put the party at odds with the centralized governance of the church, he is an envoy from that very hierarchy. He does his best to restrain his temper, putting forward a version of himself which is always calm, always loving, has all the answers and can counsel everyone in the army through their difficult times using the power of the faith. He is vastly unqualified for that task, but you see him improve at it over the course of the game.

  • Strengths: Faith, Bows, Axes
  • Weaknesses: Heavy Armor, Lances, Flying
  • Budding Talent: Reason (Get pissed off enough at people blaming core doctrine for church corruption and dedicate your life to apologetics)

***

The Preacher and the Skeptic have some of their skills chosen to contrast / align with each other, sort of like was done with Otto and Joan.

***

The Wayward Son: The sort of stern guy who ends up breaking people apart when bar fights break out. Quiet, doesn't talk much and doesn't cause much trouble. A teetotaler. However, he's undergoing a crisis of faith when the campaign starts due to some traumatic difficulties back home. The most effective way for him to work through this is by his support with the Preacher, which eventually leads him to unlock his Faith talent.

  • Strengths: Gauntlets, Axes, Flying
  • Weaknesses: Swords, Lances, Riding
  • Budding Talent: Faith (Reach A support with the preacher)

The Huntress: She hasn't seen real civilization in 20 years. This makes her kinda weird to most of the other people in the army. She seems to like animals too much, she doesn't really know how to interact with other people, she don't read too good, but she has excellent survival skills.

  • Strengths: Bow, Sword, Riding
  • Weaknesses: Authority, Reason, Axes
  • Budding Talent: Gauntlets (iunno, but it seemed like the survival nut would pick up some CQC skills in the rough and tumble world of medieval fantasy)

***

Mounts and armor work a bit differently here, they're more like equipment than anything else. Riding, Flying, and Heavy Armor skills allow units to utilize horses / flying / armor (with a level of effectiveness depending on their abilities from the skills), which you have a limited supply of to distribute between battles. You can give them to one unit on a certain chapter and another unit on the next. There's a fairly significant investment to getting more of these things- you need to both purchase (mounts/armor) as well as (stable/armory) upgrades to store them in.

This was my idea for restricting mounted units a bit. Horses are expensive, and flying mounts are very expensive. Not only do you need to buy mounts, but you also need to pay upkeep on them. As mentioned in Yeltsin's section, you have limited gold and a lot of things to spend it on. Thus, even if everyone in your army is capable of riding a horse, you wouldn't have enough horses for them all to ride.

That said, I did have an idea for a "debt" system, where you could take out loans. Depending on the specific nature of the loan you get, you'd have to pay it pack after a different amount of time and your rate of interest would be different. Even if you were very heavily in debt by the end of the game, you could still totally avoid any consequence if your investments over the course of the game ended up being profitable (i.e you restored the damaged lands to prosperity), leading to you getting money after the events of the story and paying off your loans with that.

***

Authority is mostly support stuff like Charm and rallies because, having not actually used the battalion mechanic, I don't think I'd like it.

Honestly I don't like the weapon-type categories (sword, lance, axe, bow, gauntlet) as much as the others. I don't think they convey as much personality as the others do, and the fun part of this write-up was the stuff where a character's personality was reflected in their strengths and weaknesses and talents. Maybe it would be best if these five weapon categories where scrambled together and rearranged into a smaller number of categories which were more reflective of personality while still granting weapon ranks.

This would work pretty well with this other idea I had, where the different skills wouldn't be linear. Rather, each time you increase your rank in a skill, you'd get a "point" to spend in it. You could then spend this point to unlock any ability within the skill which was at or below your current rank. So, even if swords and lances were mixed up in one category, you could still specialize in one of them and ignore the other. A good example might be the Flying skill- each time you get a point, you can become better with pegasi or better with wyverns. Remember, there's no formal class system to determine if you're a wyvern lord or a pegasus knight.

This could also be used to spread proficiency with the same weapon among multiple skill trees. For example, there could be some "Sword Prowess +1" abilities in one skill tree, but being weak in or unable to learn that skill or whatever doesn't necessarily mean forgoing swords, since you could learn that same ability from a different skill tree. If you're strong in both of those, you're a natural choice to master the sword. I don't know, I thought it sounded like a fun way to further customization. A big bulky guy and a small speedy guy might want the same weapon, but they'd likely have / want to specialize in different sorts of bonuses aside from that.

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Sounds like a cool system!

13 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

This was my idea for restricting mounted units a bit. Horses are expensive, and flying mounts are very expensive. Not only do you need to buy mounts, but you also need to pay upkeep on them. As mentioned in Yeltsin's section, you have limited gold and a lot of things to spend it on. Thus, even if everyone in your army is capable of riding a horse, you wouldn't have enough horses for them all to ride.

I'm assuming different ranked horses have different stats? Like, the E/D/C give +2 move, whereas B/A give +3? Some breeds giving extra speed, others extra luck, etc. Maybe even some could grant skills, like Pass or Desperation? Same with Armor, or Flying mounts. I think that could be a really cool system.

13 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

Authority is mostly support stuff like Charm and rallies because, having not actually used the battalion mechanic, I don't think I'd like it.

I like Battalions, but think Authority could be useful still in a game without. You mentioned granting Rallies, but perhaps it could also be used to unlock repositionals (Swap, Smite, etc.), or Seal skills to debuff the enemies. Maybe the Dance command could only be accessible on a couple units, at A-Authority?

Also a fan of characters who act as foils, and of character decisions affecting gameplay, as in the Lord's budding talents.

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7 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

I'm assuming different ranked horses have different stats? Like, the E/D/C give +2 move, whereas B/A give +3?

 

Something like that. Your most basic ability from Riding would give you the ability to ride a horse at all, and there'd be a later skill for +1 move.

7 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

Some breeds giving extra speed, others extra luck, etc. Maybe even some could grant skills, like Pass or Desperation? Same with Armor, or Flying mounts.

I did think about the idea of individual horses having individual abilities, but I wasn't sure if that was too complicated. I was thinking of the benefits being tied to the rider / armor bearer, even if it might make more sense for a higher quality piece of equipment to produce better results instead. This is especially true for armor.

7 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

I like Battalions, but think Authority could be useful still in a game without. You mentioned granting Rallies, but perhaps it could also be used to unlock repositionals (Swap, Smite, etc.), or Seal skills to debuff the enemies. Maybe the Dance command could only be accessible on a couple units, at A-Authority?

Position adjusting skills would also be good additions to Authority. I don't know if I'd want them all in one tree, but that might honestly make the most sense.

As for dancers, I was thinking of it maybe being specific to a certain character, either one of those pre-trained Part 2 units or a Part 1 unit who will inevitable be the dance bot every playthrough.

***

I'm still unsure if the thing I mentioned for weapon skills would be a good idea or not.

If entire skill trees were dedicated to specific weapons, then it would work like this: The first ability from Swords is the ability to equip swords. After that, you can pick bonuses to your sword weapon rank or go for stuff like Duelist's Blow and eventually a bonus to critical hit. To master the sword, you invest heavily in the Sword skill tree.

If the weapons were mixed up across skill trees, you might have something called "Swiftness." The first ability from Swiftness would be the ability to use swords or the ability to use gauntlets. As you went through, you would be able to increase your sword or gauntlet ranks, or you could get swordmaster abilities and darting blow, or you could get some thief abilities, or some mix and match of them. You may or may not have to dip into different skill trees which offer sword / gauntlet ranks in order to master those weapon types.

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22 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

I did think about the idea of individual horses having individual abilities, but I wasn't sure if that was too complicated. I was thinking of the benefits being tied to the rider / armor bearer, even if it might make more sense for a higher quality piece of equipment to produce better results instead. This is especially true for armor.

Well it's up to you, but I'd like such a system. Armor can function like Shields, giving stat boosts, but with certain ranks required to wear stronger, more expensive ones. Horses and pegasi similarly. Unless you'd rather boosts come from a skills system (i.e. "movement +1 when mounted at C-Riding", "crit-immunity at B-Armor", etc.). Your system, your call.

22 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

I'm still unsure if the thing I mentioned for weapon skills would be a good idea or not.

If entire skill trees were dedicated to specific weapons, then it would work like this: The first ability from Swords is the ability to equip swords. After that, you can pick bonuses to your sword weapon rank or go for stuff like Duelist's Blow and eventually a bonus to critical hit. To master the sword, you invest heavily in the Sword skill tree.

If the weapons were mixed up across skill trees, you might have something called "Swiftness." The first ability from Swiftness would be the ability to use swords or the ability to use gauntlets. As you went through, you would be able to increase your sword or gauntlet ranks, or you could get swordmaster abilities and darting blow, or you could get some thief abilities, or some mix and match of them. You may or may not have to dip into different skill trees which offer sword / gauntlet ranks in order to master those weapon types.

My personal preference is weapon-specific skill trees, and it sounds more in-line with the Fire Emblem formula. The "Swiftness" system sounds kind of complicated, but maybe I'd enjoy it if the game explained it well enough. I like how Three Houses did it - use a weapon, get better with that weapon (Prowess skills), get skills tied to using that weapon (Swordfaire, Axebreaker, Wrath Strike, etc.). Doing it as a tree system (i.e. get 10 kills with swords, unlock Axebreaker OR Wrath Strike) could be interesting. 

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1 hour ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

Well it's up to you, but I'd like such a system. Armor can function like Shields, giving stat boosts, but with certain ranks required to wear stronger, more expensive ones. Horses and pegasi similarly. Unless you'd rather boosts come from a skills system (i.e. "movement +1 when mounted at C-Riding", "crit-immunity at B-Armor", etc.). Your system, your call.

I can definitely see a system like that working out.

As it currently is, the weapons you can equip are determined by how many "Weapon Rank +1" skills you have. This would be a suitable parallel to that and could allow for more flexibility in the types of bonuses you get from boosting your armor rating. Having "Shield Rank +1" could open up various different shields which could be more interesting and more powerful than having one shield's benefit as a skill.

1 hour ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

My personal preference is weapon-specific skill trees, and it sounds more in-line with the Fire Emblem formula. The "Swiftness" system sounds kind of complicated, but maybe I'd enjoy it if the game explained it well enough. I like how Three Houses did it - use a weapon, get better with that weapon (Prowess skills), get skills tied to using that weapon (Swordfaire, Axebreaker, Wrath Strike, etc.). Doing it as a tree system (i.e. get 10 kills with swords, unlock Axebreaker OR Wrath Strike) could be interesting. 

I hadn't actually settled on how to increase your skills, that'd be something I'd have to think about.

I'm not entirely sure I'd include -faire or -breaker skills. Breaker skills, as I heard at least, are sort of a substitute for the weapon triangle. The -faire skills are just a little boring in my honest opinion. I'd be fine with higher weapon ranks translating into more power or something, that might actually be a very good idea. However, I think -faire skills make themselves too obvious a choice for units who specialize in that weapon type.

***

Here's some example skill trees, based on the idea that each weapon has its own skill tree and without gradients of mount / armor proficiency incorporated.

Spoiler

Riding:

  • D : Cavalier, this unit may ride a horse
  • C : Joust, Lance Rank +1
  • C Bridle, Skill +4 when on a horse
  • B: Horse Archery, Bow Rank +1
  • B: Barding, +2 Strength and +2 Defense when on a horse
  • A: Chivalry, +2 Speed, +2 Luck, and +2 Resistance when on a horse
  • A: Charge, Movement +1 when on a horse

Axe:

  • D : Axe Rank +1
  • C : Axe Rank +1
  • C : Death Blow, +6 damage dealt when this unit initiates combat
  • B: Axe Rank +1
  • B: Heavy Blade, increases damage dealt by (weapon weight / 2)
  • A: Axe Rank +1
  • A: Wrath, Critical Hit +50 when HP <= 50%

Sword:

  • D : Sword Rank +1
  • C : Sword Rank +1
  • C : Duelist Blow, +30 avoid when this unit initiates combat
  • B: Sword Rank +1
  • B: Vantage, when HP <=50%, attack first even when foe initiates combat
  • A: Sword Rank +1
  • A: Lethal Precision, Critical Hit +20

Bow:

  • D : Bow Rank +1
  • C : Bow Rank +1
  • C : Bow Range +1
  • B: Bow Rank +1
  • B: Anti Air, +4 attack and +40 hit versus aerial units
  • A: Bow Rank +1
  • A: Bow Range +1

***

E is not having any levels in the skill at all, and thus not deriving any advantage from it. D is the true starting rank.

You can reach S rank in a skill, but it wouldn't unlock a new ability. Instead, it would let you go back and pick any additional ability within the skill tree.

***

There could maybe be a "Star" rank above S rank which lets you pick yet another ability, or even gives you all the abilities in a skill tree. It would be a difference of one ability at that point, and it'd probably be pretty hard to reach Star rank, so the reward for doing so should be pretty good.

S rank could potentially unlock one additional ability (similar to how D rank unlocks only one ability), a sort of "ultimate" ability for the skill. For example, S swords could allow you to select the last "Sword Rank +1" skill necessary to wield every sword in the game.

***

Here's what a skill tree with multiple levels of armor / mount proficiency might look like:

Spoiler

Armor

  • D : Can equip basic shields
  • C : Can equip basic armor
  • C : Can equip better shields
  • B: Bracing Stance
  • B: Can equip better armor
  • A: Can equip the best shields / armor
  • A: Pavise

Here's what a "mixed proficiency" skill tree like Swiftness might look like:

Spoiler

Swiftness

  • D : Sword Rank +1
  • D : Gauntlet Rank +1
  • C : Duelist's Blow
  • C : Locktouch
  • C : Vantage
  • C : Sword Rank +1
  • B: Pass
  • B: Quick Riposte
  • B: Darting Blow
  • B: Gauntlet Rank +1
  • A: Sword Rank +1
  • A: Gauntlet Rank +1
  • A: Critical Hit +20

Worth nothing about the above "Swiftness" example is that it only has 3 Weapon Rank +1 skills for each weapon, whereas you need 4 to cap out your weapon proficiency. This would require you to invest in other skill trees to master these weapons.

***

While I feel the cast of eight in the opening post would make for a tightly constructed cast once written out, having about 4 more units for Part 1 would probably be a good idea, I think. Only having 8 to play around with would feel a little stifling.

Edited by AnonymousSpeed

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I'm a little confused by the system still, namely the "Weapon Rank +1" ones. Like, if you get D-Axes, you get Axe Rank +1... does this mean you jump up to C rank immediately? Or is there a separate Axe rank, that only goes up when you get a rank-boosting skill? Like, when you reach C Axes, do you have the option to wield "level 3" Axes, or just "level 2" Axes but also have Death Blow?

As for Faire-skills, I agree that they're boring, but quite effective, and make sense in universe. Use a weapon type longer, get stronger with it. But the idea of gradual, rank-based strength increases... that's interesting too.

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13 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

Or is there a separate Axe rank, that only goes up when you get a rank-boosting skill? Like, when you reach C Axes, do you have the option to wield "level 3" Axes, or just "level 2" Axes but also have Death Blow?

 

This is a pretty good description of what I had in mind, yeah.

13 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

But the idea of gradual, rank-based strength increases... that's interesting too.

I think it's a more interesting option, personally. It follows the "use a weapon more, get better with it" idea in the sense that increasing your proficiency with a weapon type improves your performance with all examples of it.

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