Update 0: I Fear the Edge of Dawn

Time to begin.

All of the runs in this LP will be done on pure New Game. I'll show off New Game +'s features at some point, but I prefer starting from scratch.

They'll all be done on Hard/Classic, too, my preferred difficulty. Any unit deaths will cause an, effectively, instant game over, as per my personal rules for playing Fire Emblem, so that'll be fun.

I won't be using the online features; I feel they just get in the way of the experience, honestly.

I hope you were paying attention to the opening.

If not, go back and look over everything again. Commit it all to memory.

If so, then let's wake up.

It is most rude to interrupt a moment of repose. Very rude indeed. Now come to me. I wish to have a look at you.

Like Awakening and Fates, we will be experiencing the story from the point of view of an avatar. Unlike Awakening and Fates, our avatar is a silent protagonist, and is only customizable in gender presentation and name.

For the sake of the test update, we'll be using the feminine form.

I'm a ghost.
Do not deceive. You would do well to keep your wit in line.
Saying "I'm a demon gives the same result," so...
I'm a mortal.
I see. Then you must have a name of sorts. Go on.

Byleth is the canonical name for our avatar; it's a derivation of Beleth, a king of Hell.

In the Japanese version, the way Byleth is spelled out in katakana depends on which form you select: the masculine form results in "ベレト" (Bereto), while the feminine form results in "ベレス" (Beresu). In the English version, and I would assume other localizations as well, however, both forms use the same spelling.

You might assume that Byleth has two voice actors, one for each form. You'd be wrong! They actually have three.

Masculine Byleth has two voice actors: Chris Niosi, who was replaced by Zach Aguilar after Niosi breached NDAs (and I think he was also a sexpest or some other form of creep). Aguilar's done a lot of big voice work in recent years; the ones that jump out to me most are Genos on One Punch Man, and Koichi in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.

Feminine Byleth is voiced by Jeannie Tirado. Her filmography lists a lot of series I recognize as big, but the one I recognize most is as the voice of Kae Serinuma in Kiss Him, Not Me.

Allow me an indulgence, however; I will not be using Byleth as the name for the avatar in any of the runs.

Instead, male avatars will be named Adan, and female avatars will be named Abby. If you want to know the context for that, go read the Etrian Odyssey Nexus LP that I was doing and then put on hold to instead LP Three Houses.

You must possess a day of birth as well. Beneath which moon and on what day were you born to this world?

The avatar's birthday is irrelevant; it only determines the day on which you get a very minor bit of equipment.

Adan, relative to our modern calendars, was born on December 10th, while Abby was born on June 22nd.

Hmm. It all feels so...familiar. I think it may be time for yet another nap...

I was dreaming about a young girl...
You've described her to me before. I don't think I've ever met anyone like that. In any case, just put that out of your mind for now. The battlefield is no place for idle thoughts. Risking your life is part of the job for mercenaries like us. Letting your mind wander is a sure way to get yourself killed.
Jeralt here is voiced in the English version by David Lodge. The guy's done a lot of supporting voice work in a few big games, namely World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XV, and Persona 5. The one that sticks out to me the most on his filmography is The Dig. I dunno why.
Abby nods her head.
OK, time to get moving. Our next job is in the Kingdom.

Of course.

That icon means that we have gained support points with Jeralt.

What's happened?

What do a bunch of kids like you want at this hour?
We're being pursued by a group of bandits. I can only hope that you will be so kind as to lend your support.
Bandits? Here?
It's true. They attacked us while we were at rest in our camp.
We've been separated from our companions and we're outnumbered. They're after our lives...not to mention our gold.
I'm impressed you're staying so calm considering the situation. I... Wait. That uniform...
For the record, the woman with the red cape is named Edelgard, the man with the blue cape is named Dimitri, and the man with the yellow cape is named Claude.

Edelgard's name, in German, translates to "noble protector." She's voiced by Tara Platt. Those of you who've played Fire Emblem: Awakening might know her better as the voice of Flavia and Miriel.

Dimitri's name is derived from Demetrius, which means "devoted to Demeter." Demeter is the Greek goddess of fertility, agriculture, and sacred law. He's voiced by Chris Hackney, who also voiced Boey in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.

Claude's name is derived from the Roman emperor Claudius. He's voiced by Joe Zieja, who's done supporting work on quite a few games, but I honestly know him most from him relishing in his role as Claude and making wonderful jokey shitposts about it on Twitter.

I guess they followed you all the way here. We can't abandon this village now. Come on, let's move. Hope you're ready.

Bandits. Pretty standard start for Fire Emblem.

Let it begin.

Jeralt has tutelary dialogue for us, but I see no need to show it off.

Fire Emblem is, at its core, a turn-based strategy RPG that takes place on a grid. You move your units around, attack enemies, and accomplish whatever objective is asked of you.

Abby's starting class, Commoner, has a Movement (Mv) stat of 4, so she can move four tiles from wherever she starts a given turn at.

Oh, right, regarding the avatar's pronouns: I'll be referring to Adan with male pronouns and Abby with female pronouns. It's perfectly legit to consider them genderless and just refer to them with neutral pronouns, however.

Mid-battle talking between units returns from previous games, although it's incredibly rare in Three Houses. I think the number of times it happens is in the single digits, and three of them are right here.

We can talk with the three people that are being accosted by bandits.
You have a strange aura about you... You say you're a mercenary, so show me what you can do.

Talking with them gives us a support point with that person. It also locks Abby in place, meaning she can no longer move after this. We can still talk to the other two before ending her turn, though.
Thank you. We are in your debt. It wouldn't do for us to fall in a place like this. Please, lend us your strength. Let's work together to drive out these thieves!

It's because of you guys that I'm not dead right now. Thanks for that! I didn't expect to run into mercenaries like you in some remote village. The gods of fortune must be smiling on me!

I move Claude one tile away from the nearest bandit, and choose to attack.

Claude is equipped with a bow. If you're coming from any Fire Emblem game before Fates, you might think bows are atrocious weapons. If you're coming from Fates, you might think bows are broken because of how broken Takumi was.

Bows are good in Three Houses. Very, very good. I'll discuss why when we start getting upgrades to units' bow skills, but let's just say they can fill a lot of roles in a battle.

I hit ZR here, which enables the "aggro zone" projection. Tiles colored pink represent where enemies can walk and attack. It provides a general idea of where you can walk without potentially getting attacked.

Thank you, Claude.

Claude earned some minor rewards for attacking the thief. From top to bottom:

Experience. Dealing damage to an enemy rewards a minor amount of experience, while defeating them rewards a lot more. The experience reward is also a function of the unit's level relative to the enemy's level. The higher level your unit is relative to the enemy, the less EXP they get. The lower your unit's level is relative to the enemy, the more EXP they get. Unlike previous Fire Emblem games, units do not always require 100 EXP to gain a level—instead, the amount of EXP to level up goes up based on a unit's level, further reducing the value of defeating enemies with higher-leveled units.

Skill experience. Claude gained experience in his bow skill, because he attacked with a bow. Even if he had missed his attack, he still would've gained bow skill experience. The criteria for gaining skill experience after battle depends on the skill; we'll discuss this later.

Class mastery experience. Class mastery experience goes up by 1 every time a unit enters combat, regardless of what actually happens during combat.

Dimitri moves up, and defeats the bandit.

You can see that he gained much more EXP for defeating the bandit, compared to what Claude got for merely injuring him.

Let's take a moment to evaluate the unit status screen, too.

Edelgard is currently equipped with an Iron Axe. It has 45 durability, meaning it will turn into a broken weapon (note: not the same as weapons breaking in earlier FEs) after 45 uses. Weapons consume uses upon dealing damage to an enemy, while magic spells consume uses even if they miss. She also has a Vulnerary in her inventory, which is a three-use consumable item that restores a maximum of 10 HP.

Level (Lv) represents, well, how many levels a unit has gained, and is used when calculating how much EXP they should receive from combat, as well as how much EXP they have until the next level.

Hit Points (HP) represents how much damage a unit can take before they are defeated. In Casual mode, defeated units retreat from the current battle, and will be usable again after it. In Classic mode, defeated units will be removed from your roster permanently, barring two chapters that nullify this. In Casual mode, a game over is triggered when all of your deployed units are defeated. In Classic mode, a game over is always triggered when Adan/Abby is defeated. This can also apply to other units, depending on the current map. Other conditions can result in a game over besides your army being routed (Casual) or important units being defeated (Classic), which are dependent on the map.

Atk represents a unit's base damage. For physical weapons, Atk is a function of the unit's Strength (Str), and the weapon's Might (Mt). For magical weapons and for magic spells, Atk is a function of the unit's Magic (Mag), and the weapon/spell's Mt. A unit's damage during combat is equal to their Atk minus the target's Protection (Prt) for physical damage, or their Resilience (Rsl) for magical damage.

Hit is the unit's base chance to actually have an attack connect. In Three Houses, a unit's Hit is the sum of their weapon's Hit, the unit's personal Dexterity (Dex), and whatever bonuses their abilities are providing. Edelgard's Iron Axe has 70 Hit, she has 5 Dex, and her ability Axe Prowess Lv 1 is providing 7 Hit when using an axe. Summed up, she has 82 Hit. A unit's Hit chance in combat is their base Hit minus the enemy's Avoid (Avo).

Crit is the unit's base chance to deal a critical hit, which amplifies their attack's damage by 3x. A unit's base Crit chance is equal to the average of their Dex and Luck (Lck), rounded down. A unit's Crit chance in combat is equal to their base Crit chance minus the enemy's Crit Avo, which is equal to their Lck plus any Crit Avo bonuses from their abilities. Crit Avo is not displayed on the status screen.

Before explaining Attack Speed (AS) and Avo, I should explain Effective Speed. In Three Houses, a unit's Effective Speed—what's actually used in any calculations involving the Speed (Spd) stat—is equal to their base Spd minus their total Equipment Weight (Wt). Equipment Weight is equal to the sum of the unit's weapon's Wt, and their equipment's Wt, minus the unit's Str divided by 5, rounded down, and any Wt reduction abilities the unit may have equipped.

AS is equal to a unit's Effective Speed, plus any AS bonuses provided by their abilities. If a unit has 4 or more AS than the unit they are engaged in combat with, they will strike twice during that combat round. The order of actions depends on what abilities are in play, but generally, a unit that is striking twice due to having higher AS will either strike once, take a counterattack, and then strike again, when initiating combat, or take an attack, then strike twice, when combat is initiated against them.

Avo is equal to a unit's Effective Speed, plus any Avo bonuses provided by their abilities.

Prt is equal to a unit's Def, plus any Prt provided by their equipment.

Rsl is equal to a unit's Res, plus any Rsl provided by their equipment.

Range (Rng) determines the minimum and maximum number of tiles away from their target a unit can be to initiate combat. For non-bow weapons, this is equal to the weapon's Rng. For bows, this is equal to the bow's Rng, plus any Bowrange abilities the unit might have equipped. For magic, this is equal to the spell's Rng, plus any Magic Range abilities for the relevant type of magic the unit might have equipped.

I've already explained the role of a unit's stats, except for Charm (Cha). Cha influences the Hit of Gambits, which we will not see for a bit.

Some units possess Crests, which randomly activate during combat. Minor Crests, such as Edelgard's, have a lower chance of activation compared to their Major counterparts. Major Crests are visually distinguished from their Minor variants by a small banner reading "Crest" above their icon, such as Abby's and Jeralt's Crests.

Abilities are passive benefits that units receive. A unit can hold a maximum of nine abilities at once: one personal ability, three class abilities, and five standard abilities. Standard abilities are learned from achieving ranks in skills, or from mastering classes. Standard abilities can be removed and added when outside of a battle. Class abilities are automatically assigned based on a unit's class, and cannot be removed. Personal abilities are unique to a given unit, and cannot be removed.

Jeralt's abilities are:

Abby's abilities are:

Edelgard's abilities are:

Dimitri's abilities are:

Claude's abilities are:

I swear we won't have a mechanics lecture that big ever again.

Oh, right, Edelgard moves up so she can get in the danger zone next turn.

The enemy phase starts either when all of your units have completed their turns, or when you manuallly press End from the battle menu.

The enemy phase passes without any action, since none of my units are in the danger zone, and the enemies' AI is not set to pursue targets they can't attack on that turn.

Because Jeralt is classified as an Ally, aka a friendly unit that we can't control, there's also an ally phase. It passes without action.

And we're back to it.

Two things to note here: Edelgard's about to step onto a Forest tile. Certain tiles provide passive benefits or detriments to whoever stands on them. In the Forest tile's case, it gives a whopping 30 Avo, and 1 Prt.

You can also see three lines from the enemy units towards where Edelgard will be. This is a new feature to Three Houses: being able to see who enemies will generally attack when the enemy phase starts. Note that this is not a guarantee, however; enemies can and will target units who can be defeated after one round of combat, regardless of where these lines were during the player phase.

You can see that, even with Edelgard's very low Avo, this attacking bandit only has 62 Hit.

Still hits, though.

Edelgard responds in kind.

It was here that I remembered to turn the grid on. It helps me visualize strategies in my head.

Claude pelts this bandit...

And Dimitri gets the kill.

Abby will instantly erase this bandit by using a Combat Art.

Combat Arts are a feature that returns from Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. They're situational, but very useful when those situations arise. In short, Combat Arts prevent units from getting follow-up attacks, unless the Combat Art specifically provides it as a benefit, and consume multiple uses of a weapon. In exchange, they can provide extra Mt, Hit, Crit, Rng, Avo, and even special benefits.

Wrath Strike: +5 Mt, +10 Hit, +0 Crit, 1 range, costs 3 durability.

Wrath Strike, however, is a pretty simple Mt and Hit booster.

See ya.

Units that can gain support points with each other get support points after combat, if they're adjacent to each other, and also if another unit initiated combat while adjacent to a unit they can support with, who can also support another unit. I think that kind of support point gain chaining has a cap, though.

Edelgard defeats the last bandit near us.

Moving up that far has caused the boss and his lackeys to get angry.

They move towards us, and will continue to do so next enemy phase.

You might have noticed that Kostas has a green icon with a bag on him. That indicates that he has an item that he will give us when we defeat him.

Jeralt also starts moving once Kostas does.

Just getting in enemy ranges.

Very productive round of combat.

Wait no Jeralt don't—

Dammit. There goes a bit of EXP.

Dimitri wastes the other one of Kostas's flunkies.

Try me.

Nope, don't like that.

Smash: +3 Mt, +20 Hit, +20 Crit, 1 range, costs 5 durability.

Okay, that's better. If this doesn't land, though, Edelgard is in serious trouble.

Okay, just need Abby to hit...

Nah, gonna stay right where I am.


Even got a good level to go with it.

Stat gains in Fire Emblem occur primarily when leveling up, and are determined by a unit's growths—the collection of likelihoods that a unit's stats will increase when gaining a level. Any level with Str and Spd on physical units, or Mag and Spd on magical units, is fine by me. The rest of them are just icing—though defensive stats are important too, obviously. Avo can only take you so far.

Free Iron Axe. Saves me a few hundred gold.

That's it for now! Next time: we finish the prologue, and see what fate has in store for Abby after saving these three from bandits.

...Or, well, potentially Abby. I'm leaving what form we go with first up to voting in the thread, and also my Discord server! Fun.

So: Shall we begin with Adan, or Abby? After this run, we'll alternate which form the avatar takes with each new run.

This update brought to you by the wonderful patrons of the LPs on Patreon:

Next Update
Table of Contents
Support the LPs on Patreon