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vanguard333

What If: The Flame Emperor (Spoilers)

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Recently, I was reading through the TV Tropes page for Fire Emblem: Three Houses. One thing I read in the YMMV section was an interesting opinion regarding Ionius under the "They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character" opinions:

Quote

Emperor Ionius IX. He's Edelgard's father, the current ruler (if a Puppet King) of the Adrestian Empire, and the only parent of the house leaders to both be alive, and also actually appear in game. With how deep and complex Edelgard is and how much of her past is brought to the front, you would be surprised to know he appears exactly once in game. While part of this is because he's sickly and thus cannot do much as a Puppet King, it's a waste of what easily could have been an interesting character to learn about. In particular, he easily could have been the Flame Emperor, which would have given him agency in the story, but also make Edelgard's motives more sympathetic. In spite of his actions causing the Insurrection of the Seven, his overall impact on the story is much less discussed compared to Lambert, who by comparison gets a few flashbacks in the Azure Moon route, and gets talked about often.

That part that I bolded stood out to me: the idea that Ionius could've been the Flame Emperor instead of Edelgard. Could he really have easily been the Flame Emperor? How much of the story would have to change? Would it be good or bad change?

What are your thoughts on this idea?

 

(EDIT: I'd like to make it clear that I'm not agreeing or disagreeing; I simply looked at that idea and started wondering, "How much would have to change for something like that?")

Edited by vanguard333

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Ionius really didn't need a bigger role. Edelgard being the flame emperor really shows how far she is willing to go for her goals and how long she has been working to achieve them, without spoilering them to the player. Remember the bandit Costas in the first chapter? It was Edelgard who sent them to attack. Had that been Ionius, it would change the entire subtext, and take away a lot from Edelgard's story. The whole game would have to be rewritten, basically.

Or at least that's how I see it.

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Why do we need to make Edelgard more sympathetic?

Beyond that, it sounds like they are suggesting they take away Edelgard's agency in favor of elevating and giving it to a side character they happen to find interesting.

Edited by Crysta

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A puppet emperor being way more dangerously then first assumed would be interesting. But wouldn't Ionius just instantly break every bone in his body and die if he put on heavy armor? Just look at the poor thing!

Ionius IX | Fire Emblem Wiki | Fandom

 

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The Flame Emperor get-up is only really for the purpose of disguising Edelgard's identity when she's out and about doing nefarious things. Ionius wouldn't be the Flame Emperor even if he had been the one to join up willingly with TWSITD, because he wouldn't be going anywhere to do anything at all, since he's an old sickly man and the literal reigning Emperor. Even if Ionius had decided to work directly with the Slitherers, there's no reason for him not to send a random to do all the crap that Edelgard does in person. Tbh, there's no reason for Edelgard herself to be dressing up to do her own dirty work (especially since she has Hubert, who also knows about her connection to TWSITD) except plot convenience.

I do agree they could have made more of his character (I can't even remember if they confirm what happens to him post-coronation of Edelgard). If he didn't die before Part 2, he could have given Edelgard a more relevant paralogue although I actually think Insurmountable is surprisingly fitting for Edelgard anyway, or maybe said something between Ch.11 and Ch. 12 in CF about stepping down etc etc. But then again, there was a lot of wasted potential in 3H, and Ionius isn't exactly high on my list of things/people I wanted to see more of. 

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That would kill the reveal. "The Flame emperor is... this guy you've never seen before and have no emotional connection to!" With Edelgard, at least it's an interesting twist the first time. Plus, Ionius' current role in the story precludes acting as Flame Emperor, which would demand a substantial rewrite. I'm not gonna act like they handled the Flame Emperor perfectly (where does that warping power come from? why do they orchestrate the initial attack? why are they super weak as a boss?), but Edelgard works better than Ionius would in this role.

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Exacly it destroys Edelgard part in this. Plus it would give some more unjustified reason to pin this on Byleth because you have to have a B support with Edelgard and do it on specific month and date therefore removing any point of the choice at the holy tomb.  The have has this enough has it is we don’t that pinned on Byleth because someone think it ruins their choices as Byleth. I mean this second choice at the tomb is the best technically in the game for theses reasons. 1) : it actually matters what happens in the time skip.  2) : you have a connection to both side of the choice and saw Edelgard ascent to the throne.   3) the surprise factor is a big play, you’ve taught them for a year and now one of your student drops this bomb on ya.     The choice is important enough with edelgard that her dad would ruin it completely 

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I think, the “evil” father emperor is a story that’s already been told in FE games.  As you may know, FE games have a number of recurring themes the writers play around telling the same story a different way.

 Specifically...

Spoiler

The curse of the fire emblem... or something like that’s called.   It has to do with a woman that always dies in relation with the fire emblem.  She usually bestows the emblem to the hero before dying.

In 3 houses, the cursed woman is...  Rhea?  Edelgard?  Depends which route you take.  There’s always some sort of romantic tragedy with her death.  It’s all just meant to make you feel bad...

 What’s interesting about Edelgard, in this rewriting of the curse trope, is that while becoming the “evil” emperor, she is also either the woman who dies not after bestowing the emblem but sharing one with the hero, an emblem that was forced upon her...

... or she actually becomes the heroic noble who with the emblem kills the dragon (who in this case is also the cursed woman who did bestow the emblem).

 It’s not always exactly the same, but the keys to the trope are: a woman dies and the fire emblem.

edit:  Correction, the curse involves the “death of love” not necessarily a woman dying... tho in the latest few games a woman dies, it could be the male lover or death of a relationship.  It’s a romantic tragedy of some sort.

 

Edited by Rioma

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On 8/29/2020 at 9:33 AM, Rioma said:
Spoiler

the curse involves the “death of love” not necessarily a woman dying... tho in the latest few games a woman dies, it could be the male lover or death of a relationship.  It’s a romantic tragedy of some sort.

 

 

Spoiler

Could you give some examples? I can see this for Tellius and Three Houses, maybe Awakening, but other than that I fail to see this 'curse of the emblem'.

 

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This is when you make the character interesting yourself or just look at info you already have. I haven't played Crimson Flower yet, but I have enough info to pity the heck out of this poor old rooster. Had the good life for years, got a ton of sex with a bunch of pretty noblewomen, or his "hens" lol, and all that was taken away from him when those "snakes" entered his palace. He'll go down in history as an epic failure.

What I would like to see is him in a flashback, how did he look in his prime? Probably quite studly.

Him being the Flame Emperor wouldn't work that well imo.

Edited by Dragoncat

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Interesting idea, though I am not sure it would really work. Granted, there are plenty of strange things with Edelgard being the Flame Emperor, especially in relation to the situation with Kostas in the prologue making very little sense with this reveal in mind.

But I have come to realise that a lot of this is because Edelgard is just as green as the other students at the beginning of the game, having not actually seen actual combat. Considering her inexperience. It would make sense for her to make numerous tactical errors, and the Flame Emperor did commit quite a number of tactical errors. Edelgard might have set up the situation, but I don't think things went according to plan.

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I agree with you all that this idea would not really work. The reason I brought it up was that I wanted to see ideas for how the story would have to change and stuff like that; that's the reason I titled this thread "What If: The Flame Emperor".

Does that make sense?

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13 minutes ago, vanguard333 said:

I agree with you all that this idea would not really work. The reason I brought it up was that I wanted to see ideas for how the story would have to change and stuff like that; that's the reason I titled this thread "What If: The Flame Emperor".

Does that make sense?

One reason I could see for Ionius wanting to wear a mask would be to hide his involvement from Duke Aegir and the other insurrectionists.

Like his daughter. He would ultimately want to screw over the Agarthans and free his empire from their grasp. So he could try to infiltrate their ranks as the Flame Emperor. 

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1 hour ago, vanguard333 said:

I agree with you all that this idea would not really work. The reason I brought it up was that I wanted to see ideas for how the story would have to change and stuff like that; that's the reason I titled this thread "What If: The Flame Emperor".

Does that make sense?

Yeah I think I get you a little better now. 

Thinking about this a bit more, the plot would need to change in at least the following ways to accommodate Ionius as the Flame Emperor:

Spoiler

1. Have the events of the Insurrection of the Seven fleshed out more explicitly/ostentatiously in White Clouds, at least with BE, if not in every route. Ionius would also have to appear personally before Ch.11, in the present day and/or in flashback. This makes him more of a key player, and his reveal a little more effective.

2. Modify backstories for some of the characters as a result of 1. No changes for Dorothea/Petra, and some small changes for Bernadetta and Constance. Caspar and Linhardt would probably have to change some individual pieces of dialogue. Hubert and Ferdinand address the Insurrection more often; the substance of some of their remarks and maybe even their attitudes to certain things/people would have to change to reflect this. 

3. Make Arundel/Thales' subsequent control over the throne and the Empire much shakier than Edelgard claims in the game. This gives TWSITD at least some genuine reason to work with Ionius behind the scenes, since he doesn't have dual crests - Ionius would otherwise have no intrinsic value to TWSITD.

4. Show Ionius actually giving up his children (presumably willingly) to experimentation in Edelgard's Byleth support. This should help with Edelgard's characterisation, although inevitably she becomes more sympathetic than the way the game portrays her currently. 

5. The Flame Emperor's interaction with Byleth and Jeralt after Ch. 8 should be less nice than it is currently. More of a 'Serve me or else', less respect. Ionius would either only have secondhand information about Byleth, or would have only observed Byleth firsthand in Remire, so the slightly more familiar tone Edelgard takes with him at this point wouldn't make sense. 

6. Remake Ch. 11. This could happen in one of three ways:

a) Edelgard becomes Emperor by force and the Ch. 11 battle changes significantly for CF, with the BE facing down Ionius in a sneak attack (or just cutscene it?) on Enbarr Palace to get Edelgard coronated. If AM/VW, you fight Ionius in the Holy Tomb, and maybe Edelgard too (perhaps insert some schlocky intrigue), or you fight her separately in Ch. 12. Since the route choice would now have to be locked in the moment you follow Edelgard to Enbarr, SS would be basically the same as AM/VW, but perhaps with some route-specific dialogue explaining why on Earth this is happening/between Edelgard and the rest of the class. 

b) The Flame Emperor reveal could come before Edelgard's coronation. In this case, Ionius alone would be the Ch. 11 boss, and would die in Ch. 11 (to stop a rampaging Rhea in CF, or killed by Byleth defending Rhea in Church routes). Edelgard is crowned out of necessity, and uses this as justification for war on the Church, and Rhea/Byleth specifically. The CF choice is still dependent on your Edelgard support level and choosing to protect her in the chapter battle, but you won't have the special event in Ch. 11. 

c) Edelgard doesn't get coronated in Part I at all. Ionius is the boss for Ch. 11 and 12 in Church routes, and dies in Ch. 12, probably in the cutscene that ends Part I. Edelgard/TWSITD carry on the struggle, use the death of the (Flame) Emperor to stir up the Empire into wanting war, creating the perilous situation Church routes find themselves in in Part II. Ionius still dies in Ch. 12 CF, but it's portrayed as more of a heroic sacrifice-style deal (perhaps dying to Rhea). The CF choice would happen like in 6b).

There might also have to be:

Spoiler

7. Depending on which option you choose for 6, Edelgard's backstory/interactions might need to be altered a bit. 3 options:

a) She now has to resent her father as well as TWSITD, but also see the importance of stepping into his shoes and going to war, even though she may not have had the same experience of secretly preparing for war and being privy to the information that she had in the game proper. This would be one way to avoid tonal whiplash, although I think it suits 6a) more than 6b) or 6c).

b) Edelgard finally/partially gives in to emotion when Ionius dies, and is determined to seek revenge. This is the most inconsistent option with the characterisation we get of her in the game, but it's not inconceivable. This fits 6b) the best; her resolve for continuing the war beyond revenge could come from her sudden rise to Emperor and the subsequent responsibility she feels towards her people and kingdom. 

c) There's some degree of co-operation between Edelgard and Ionius throughout White Clouds and before. Why this might be true can be explained in any number of ways, which I won't list here, but I'm not sure there's a way of doing it without lessening the point of making Ionius the Flame Emperor in the first place. 

8. Changing the Death Knight's character. Again, we have some choices.

a) Jeritza is written as a diehard Empire supporter, explaining his loyalty going from Ionius to Edelgard after the former's death. Meshing that with his backstory as we have it would be quite difficult.

b) Jeritza gets some actual scenes with Edelgard, in Part II and without masks, either explaining his relationship to Ionius, or some other reason to fight for the Empire post-timeskip (like his contract being lifetime service or seeing through the war or something).

c) No change in his character, but only if we also choose 7c), which allows the Death Knight to still make sense in Part I. 

So basically, it wouldn't be impossible. But I don't know if the story would be better for it, and I don't think it would be 'easy' like the TV Tropes page is claiming.

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I’m not sure that’s a great idea. I’ll admit that Ionius does seem very intriguing with how he’s portrayed here, but I’m not sure he really needs a role in the story like that. The whole point is for the flame emperor to have been this student you’ve been teaching the whole game, or interacting with a bit, knowing she would be heavily involved in another route, with an interpersonal connection to Dimitri. Ionius has none of these. And I really don’t see how that makes Edelgard anymore sympathetic. “I’ve thoroughly believed this organization, their goals, and their actions to be horribly immoral this entire game but... my dad’s there so lol bye” just gives her way  less agency and (this might be a bit of a personal nitpick) she really needed that to be the first female lord that wasn’t portrayed as incredibly naive and needing tons of help where others have not. Edelgard drives her own plot forward, and she don’t need no man. Doesn’t sound like many female fe lords.

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