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Book Bro

Three Houses but no player avatar

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WARNING: major spoilers for all routes including Cindered Shadows follow. Don't read if you don't know or don't want to know all the lore and backstory. Also some FE7 spoilers.

So, as someone who loves 3H but isn't a fan of avatars in FE, I've been bothered by this feeling that the game could've been better without Byleth's whole "you are the fated child of destiny" thing cheesing it up. Yet at the same time, their role is really important to Rhea's character and simply cutting that whole plot point wouldn't really work.

The Cindered Shadows reveal of Byleth's mother and the way that Rhea goes to great lengths to explain that yes, she creates vessels for her own means, but she loves them as her children, made me consider a new idea. This kind of sounds like Nergal but with emotional attachment. 

So let's say that Rhea has still been archbishop for millenia and has also been trying to revive Sothis like in the actual story. In this case, the Knights of Seiros would be largely made up of these failed vessels who, like the morphs, do their master's bidding and have their own personalities. Think Seteth and Flayn but instead of saints they're Rhea's creations (I would keep Seteth and Flayn as they are though, as I think it's interesting to have other legit Nabateans that don't fully agree with Rhea's practices).

This still allows for Rhea to maintain her status as a sympathetic but questionable character. When siding with her, we would gradually discover the truth but get to see how she legitimately cares for her children and is still driven by the same goal of reviving her mother. But when siding against Rhea, the whole question of fate vs free will and the ethics of her essentially making artificial people could be explored more deeply if she's using them as fodder to fight you: is Rhea justified in creating these beings who do have a certain degree of freedom but are nonetheless bound to do her bidding or be punished/written off as "just another failure"? I feel like the implications of Byleth's choice to go against Rhea wasn't developed as much as it could have been because of their silent and neutral nature, even when rebelling. Maybe we still get a defector from the Knights of Seiros who chooses to rebel against what they were created for and betray the church, which route you pick determines if they're an enemy or ally. They could even give this character their own route so that there's an option to go against the church without necessarily siding with Edelgard, as many find her too extreme, instead of Silver Snow and Verdant Wind being so similar (apparently, as I've yet to play SS).

I realize the easier answer here is just "make Byleth an actual character and give them a full personality". That could work. Especially because removing Byleth entirely also leaves the question of who does the player control? The choice could instead be between house leaders once you get to the monastery, after a slightly extended prologue so you get to know each of them. This obviously means that the part 1 arc has to change to accommodate the fact that the whole Flame Emperor stuff wouldn't work if you have the option to directly control Edelgard. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as I feel a part 1 structured around each of the lords discovering snippets of the truth and that determining where they fall once Edelgard decides to rebel, based on what she discovers confirming her mistrust of the church, could work better than it basically just being about Edelgard working behind the scenes with TWSITD and the other two being completely dumbfounded. 

I do think the story could work without Byleth and maintain generally the same lore behind it, but at the same time it isn't as simple as just cutting them out. Would love to hear any more ideas for either improving or removing Byleth while keeping Rhea's backstory generally the same.

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While the game's story could work without Byleth, half of the mechanics still require a player to control, i.e. the monastery and teaching sections.

Still, these are really cool story change ideas.

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honestly the best solution in my opinion is removing byleth entirely and making the house leaders the controlled lords and pov characters for each route. Azure moon would remain relatively unchanged but could benefit from more visual and auditory illusions from dimitris point of view to better convey just how haunted he is by the tragedy of duscur, verdant wind would need only minor rewrites but it would benefit claude as well even by just actually showing him in all those negotiations and his various super politicking's that all happen off screen, crimson flower might need a number but it would benefit from having to stand on its own without player pandering forcing edelgard to be a sympathetic character without leaning on a plank of wood. and with the reveals of the dlc story stuff you can just chuck yuri into the protagonist role of the church route if ya still wanna include it.

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1 hour ago, NobodiePichu said:

honestly the best solution in my opinion is removing byleth entirely and making the house leaders the controlled lords and pov characters for each route. Azure moon would remain relatively unchanged but could benefit from more visual and auditory illusions from dimitris point of view to better convey just how haunted he is by the tragedy of duscur, verdant wind would need only minor rewrites but it would benefit claude as well even by just actually showing him in all those negotiations and his various super politicking's that all happen off screen, crimson flower might need a number but it would benefit from having to stand on its own without player pandering forcing edelgard to be a sympathetic character without leaning on a plank of wood. and with the reveals of the dlc story stuff you can just chuck yuri into the protagonist role of the church route if ya still wanna include it.

I 100% agree and this would make each route infinitely more interesting than they are currently. However, I would even go so far as to say put all 3 (or 4 if you include the DLC) into one route, and have the player control every lord and every character. This would make the eventual battles between the Houses that much more impactful. I've never understood the appeal to having to choose a team and then getting a story that is only 1/3 as long as it could have been in one GIANT route.

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1 hour ago, KevinskyHaaz said:

I 100% agree and this would make each route infinitely more interesting than they are currently. However, I would even go so far as to say put all 3 (or 4 if you include the DLC) into one route, and have the player control every lord and every character. This would make the eventual battles between the Houses that much more impactful. I've never understood the appeal to having to choose a team and then getting a story that is only 1/3 as long as it could have been in one GIANT route.

Wouldn't this mean having only one ending? And in all likelihood, a golden one? Not being forced to pick one over the others at all means that, if you don't go for bogeyman to unite everyone in the very end, that somebody playable at other times has to be the final villain who loses in dramatic fashion.

-Unless you wanted to end on a happier note- "Dimitri, you decisively killed 225000 of my 600000 soldiers army today. I cede to you hegemony on the continent for the coming three decades." "Thanks Edelgard, now lets handshake and sign your terms of conditional surrender, including allowing you to keep the Adrestia throne, albeit now you cede the title "Emperor" to me and become my "Vassal Queen"."

 

Although, Koei Tecmo has done route splits where all the events happen the same one timeline, with separate endings. Its flagship Dynasty Warrior franchise does precisely this.

Having played DW7, the game lets you play the separate stories of Wei, Wu, Shu, and Jin in whatever order you want, stopping your current progress in one story to continue another if you so wish. As for how each story ends, KT chose to end each story at a different battle, even when the actual war wasn't over yet, a battle "representing the zenith of a kingdom's glory" I would like to think of it as. Although, in the case of Jin, its ending is the very last major battle of the Three Kingdoms period, so in the very end, Wei is coup'ed, Wu and Shu are conquered, and Jin is triumphant... which is because Dynasty Warriors can't defy IRL history on this one point. Most games could easily not have this problem.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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Or maybe the choice should be pushed to the time skip, rather than the beginning?

21 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

Although, Koei Tecmo has done route splits where all the events happen the same one timeline, with separate endings. Its flagship Dynasty Warrior franchise does precisely this.

Having played DW7, the game lets you play the separate stories of Wei, Wu, Shu, and Jin in whatever order you want, stopping your current progress in one story to continue another if you so wish. As for how each story ends, KT chose to end each story at a different battle, even when the actual war wasn't over yet, a battle "representing the zenith of a kingdom's glory" I would like to think of it as. Although, in the case of Jin, its ending is the very last major battle of the Three Kingdoms period, so in the very end, Wei is coup'ed, Wu and Shu are conquered, and Jin is triumphant... which is because Dynasty Warriors can't defy IRL history on this one point. Most games could easily not have this problem.

Well, they do defy it sometimes, when they employ Hypothetical routes. THough it's true it's that, hypotheticals that aren't the main (for the first half) campaign; but something you must unlock halfway through.

I only really own DW8XL, so that's my only experience on the matter for DW.

Edited by Acacia Sgt

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5 hours ago, Boatcat2111 said:

While the game's story could work without Byleth, half of the mechanics still require a player to control, i.e. the monastery and teaching sections.

Still, these are really cool story change ideas.

Exactly. One way it could be solved would be if the other professors (maybe make Seteth the third professor?) alternate in teaching each house every month, for example, and the teaching segments just become each student choosing what to focus on every week, call it homework instead of tutoring. For exploration, you would control Edelgard, Dimitri, or Claude directly. I like @NobodiePichu's idea that this way we'd get to see more of what each lord is up to in their off time.

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46 minutes ago, Book Bro said:

Exactly. One way it could be solved would be if the other professors (maybe make Seteth the third professor?) alternate in teaching each house every month, for example, and the teaching segments just become each student choosing what to focus on every week, call it homework instead of tutoring. For exploration, you would control Edelgard, Dimitri, or Claude directly. I like @NobodiePichu's idea that this way we'd get to see more of what each lord is up to in their off time.

It would cut out a lot of the monastery.  Sign me up!

I think Byleth works, but only until the end of the prologue.  After that, he/she is relegated to a NPC, and you take control of the house leader (CF/SS nonwithstanding).

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1 hour ago, eclipse said:

It would cut out a lot of the monastery.  Sign me up!

Heck yeah!

I think that Three Houses in its route-choosing shenanigans really forgot to make a good villain. My least favorite thing about Byleth is how the students lose all free will and independent thought when they join your team, they just go along with your Lord's plan. Dorothea, for instance, has no place whatsoever fighting for Faerghus or serving an unstable noble who fights to instate a strong religious monarchical order. Ingrid has no reason to join the Black Eagles, she is fine with a stagnant social order and is fiercely loyal to her father and homeland. This is ignored because "I'll go wherever you lead, Professor!" The 'everyone is evil except for Claude' horse has been beaten to death, but I do think that your ability to side with each faction and have all of them besides Blue Lions have an easy, saccharine path to righteous victory really takes the oomph out of the emotional weight of most of the game.

Byleth is a huge part of the issue with lord characterization too. Do you want me to sympathize with Edelgard? Show me her ideal world in postgame cutscenes, show me why she's right about the church, don't have her preach to the player about her beliefs and past hardships in an explicit and hyper-vulnerable way to make her "relatable" and "correct". Give me actual insight into Claude's political genius, or into any of the politics of Fodlan at all for that matter.

If I had to keep Byleth, I would keep Jeralt around longer, kill Silver Snow and TWSITD, and make Rhea the antagonist of all routes (while somehow putting the kids in each others' way because they have to fight or whatever). I'd give the Knights of Seiros more early screentime and make some of them into Camus-esque unrecruitable tragically good enemies. Byleth would end up serving a role on par with that of the other professors, but would never be recruitable. Rhea would be trying to awaken Sothis through Byleth much more aggressively, and the end of part one would be the Black Eagles trying to get Byleth out of Rhea's clutches while the other houses defend Garreg Mach due to their lack of knowledge of the situation. Jeralt would die in a heart-rending cutscene of trying to wake up his mind-controlled son, who stabs him with the Sublime Creator Sword. It'd be very sad, everyone in real life would cry because the dad died to his son on some Han Solo waves (sorry for the spoilers for Force Awakens). 

Part two would be anti-Rhea and would have no Byleth except as a villain, but while the three lords all know that it is important to beat Rhea, they all have different ideals in how the church and political systems should wind up after her death. That's where you could factor in actual political intrigue and introduce important moral questions without a green-haired puppet just standing there nodding and forcing cheesy dialogue that takes the edge off of the main characters. 

Killing Byleth as a boss would be cathartic too.

All moral questions about Rhea would be limited to Cindered Shadows.

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5 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

Wouldn't this mean having only one ending? And in all likelihood, a golden one? Not being forced to pick one over the others at all means that, if you don't go for bogeyman to unite everyone in the very end, that somebody playable at other times has to be the final villain who loses in dramatic fashion.

-Unless you wanted to end on a happier note- "Dimitri, you decisively killed 225000 of my 600000 soldiers army today. I cede to you hegemony on the continent for the coming three decades." "Thanks Edelgard, now lets handshake and sign your terms of conditional surrender, including allowing you to keep the Adrestia throne, albeit now you cede the title "Emperor" to me and become my "Vassal Queen"."

No, that's what I am saying. Sorry, I guess I was not clear. It would mean having only one ending, but it would not be golden in any way at all. Basically all of the characters would not be good or bad. It would be more grey area for everyone. The outcomes of battles like the one at Gronder Field are already prewritten in the script. So, even though you use EVERYONE for the first half of the game. You play as the side that wins historically at that battle. It would be like Radiant Dawn though where you switch teams multiple times throughout Part 2 of the game based on whoever wins that battle in the actual timeline. It would make the ultimate deaths of major characters that much sadder because you don't really want any of them to lose.

In my opinion this would allow the writers to really write a cohesive and realistic story. Also it could easily become 120-150 hours of playtime instead of the 50-60 campaigns that we got in 3H.

Edited by KevinskyHaaz

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If Byleth wasn't the player character of the game; I would like if Sothis to be the story teller of Three Houses. Narrating is if she is talking to the player directly. knowing the important events that details yet to come. Any inconsistencies can be her remembering things differently each time or gaps in the memory. Plus I feel her being a mostly neutral 3rd party in a game helps out.

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Robin was fun and entertaining at first, but now the whole avatar idea just feels rather tiresome and dry when the ''main character " of the game has characterization of a piece of wood. Having Edelgard, Claude and Dimitri be the main characters and be more front and centre would of given Three Houses much more story strength. 

 

Edit: And I guess Rhea ? 

Edited by Eurydice

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On 2/19/2020 at 10:48 AM, Book Bro said:

I realize the easier answer here is just "make Byleth an actual character and give them a full personality". That could work. 

It doesn't even need to be a personality, I just want Byleth to have a voice in dialogue. And/or, to hear what they're thinking. Especially after Sothis melts, and Byleth is left without a moral sounding board. They're hardly an Avatar when you can't even customize their appearance or proficiencies. 

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On 2/20/2020 at 12:34 PM, Jingle Jangle said:

If Byleth wasn't the player character of the game; I would like if Sothis to be the story teller of Three Houses. Narrating is if she is talking to the player directly. knowing the important events that details yet to come. Any inconsistencies can be her remembering things differently each time or gaps in the memory. Plus I feel her being a mostly neutral 3rd party in a game helps out.

I’d like this, I feel like there isn’t enough sothis

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I really like Byleth and the only thing I would have changed about her is to either give the player more or less control over who she is. Either take away the choice in naming so that we can get fully realized dialogue or go all out like Corrin and make it where we get Build-a-Byleth and can select hair and skin color and the like. When I saw Claude in the early previews I thought for sure I would get to make a character of color as an avatar, but nope. 

I also wish they would do that thing other games do so when you pick a dialogue choice she reads them or speaks them. 

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