Fire Emblem: Three Houses
|Name:||Fire Emblem: Three Houses|
|Country of Origin:||Japan, United States|
|External Links:||Official Site, Official Japanese Site|
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Fire Emblem: Three Houses (FE3H) is the 16th installment overall in the Fire Emblem series. It is a tactical role-playing game in which players control a player character whose gender and name are chosen at the beginning of the game.
During the opening hours, the player character is asked to teach at the Garreg Mach Monastery, which acts as a hub for game activities. Choosing a particular school house to teach impacts the narrative from that point on.
The player's time is divided between story-based battles that advance the main narrative and periods in Garreg Mach where they interact with students and staff members. While the opening half of the game focuses on this school system, halfway through,the story skips ahead five years and focuses more on battle, with the player being locked to the house they chose during the opening half.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes place on the continent of Fódlan. The landmass is divided into three rival nations who are now at peace: the Adrestian Empire to the south and west, the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus to the north, and the Leicester Alliance to the east. The Church of Seiros, based at Garreg Mach Monastery at the continent's center, is the region's dominant religion and is an influential power in Fódlan in its own right.
In ancient history, a war raged between the Church's (and Empire's) titular founder Seiros and the "King of Liberation" Nemesis. Over the next thousand years, the Kingdom split away from the Empire and the Alliance declared its independence from both powers. A prolonged conflict ensued, with the Church being responsible for keeping peace.
The nobility of Fódlan frequently bear Crests, sigils passed down through families that grant magical powers. Bearing a crest greatly influences dynastic politics, with nobles inheriting Crests valued far above those who lack them. Those who have Crests can also wield powerful artifacts called Hero's Relics. The series's titular "Fire Emblem" appears as the "Crest of Flames," the Crest associated with the Progenitor God.
Players take on the role of the main character, called Byleth by default, who can be either male or female. A mercenary by trade, they become enrolled in the Officers' Academy of Garreg Mach Monastery as a teacher. At Garreg Mach Monastery, Byleth chooses one of the three school houses, each aligned to a different nation of Fódlan. They are: the Black Eagles led by Edelgard, imperial princess and heir to the Adrestian throne; the Blue Lions, commanded by Prince Dimitri of the Kingdom; and the Golden Deer led by Claude, heir to the Alliance's leading family. The Monastery's staff includes those who directly work for the Church, some of whom are recruitable by the player. Other characters include Jeralt, father of Byleth, and Rhea, archbishop of the Church.
During their journey Byleth is aided by Sothis, a strange and initially amnesiac girl who appears in their dreams and communicates telepathically.
FE3H is divided into four main routes that a player can complete in order to get the story's full plot. The four routes are: "Azure Moon" (Blue Lions), "Verdant Wind" (Golden Deer), "Crimson Flower" (Edelgard - Empire), and "Silver Snow" (Edelgard - Church). These routes are named after the "four seasons" in the original Japanese title of the game (ファイアーエムブレム 風花雪月 Fire Emblem: Wind, Flower, Snow, Moon).
The first half of the game, pre-timeskip, is called "White Clouds" in every route.
Biases for or against other characters are often formed depending on which route the player completes first due to the one-sided narrative arc inherent in the gameplay structure.
- Byleth (player character)
Church of Seiros:
The game became a hit among fans, who quickly grew to enjoy the unique setting and customizable character classes. The more streamlined supports were a relief to those who found the system in Fates and Awakening to be overwhelming and the conversations to be of questionable quality. The exploration and activity features let the player get to know the characters especially well and build up support levels with whoever they wanted to recruit or eventually marry.
The recruitment system was a point of contention for some players, though, who felt the game was too vague in the requirements to persuade characters from other houses to join their chosen one. Luckily, a good number of online guides exist to explain; for example, recruiting Hilda out of the Golden Deer requires a high axe rank and a high Charm stat, and she cannot be recruited into the Black Eagles unless the player chooses to side with the Church. Meanwhile, a female Avatar can recruit Sylvain without having to do anything but talk to him. New Game+ alleviated a good deal of frustration by allowing players to spend Renown to raise their skill and support levels.
The story was fairly well received, with the choice being given much greater weight and no chance for a perfect ending where every single character survived. However, happy endings for each route were possible, especially if you managed to recruit each and every student or faculty member for a given route. Some fans still weren't satisfied with the writing, however, especially in the Crimson Flower route where they felt it was "out of character" for recruited students to stay with Edelgard during her crusade to stop the church, or even for her own classmates to do so. Others criticized the Silver Snow route for basically copying Verdant Wind's map, and others still felt Azure Moon was incomplete due to barely touching on the threat of Those Who Slither in the Dark.
Certain characters became massive base breakers, particularly Edelgard, Bernadetta, Dimitri, and Lady Rhea.
Like many Fire Emblem titles, Three Houses contains no set-in-stone pairings for any of the playable cast, and the support system encourages the player to explore the dynamics between various characters, whether romantic or otherwise. The game also features a paired ending system with end cards before the credits that pair characters together based on which ones had the highest support with each other and describe how they live the rest of their lives together. While most of the explicitly romantic endings are between het pairings, many endings between characters of the same gender easily translate into a romantic context; for example, the paired ending between Dimitri and Felix states that Felix grieved more for Dimitri’s death than Dimitri’s queen, the ending between Dimitri and Dedue states that the two were buried alongside each other, and the ending between Dorothea and Petra states that Dorothea became the person who Petra loved most. Some of the opposite-sex endings are platonic as well, or at least do not mention marriage or love.  
With so many canon pairings and even more that lend themselves to a romantic interpretation, not to mention with the game’s large cast, Three Houses has many larger ships and an almost infinite assortment of rarepairs. Some of the fandom’s more popular pairings are listed below.
Since the game has four possible routes the story can take, Time Travel fics where Byleth goes back to the beginning of the game and starts over with knowledge from the future are popular. Modern AU fics are very common as well.
- dont text and spar kids by sprxng, a modern AU chatfic (multiple pairings)
- godspeed by quagsire, a Time Travel fic (Byleth/Dimitri)
- run ourselves ragged by sunsmasher, a Canon Compliant fic (Felix/Sylvain)
- two, across by QuickYoke, a college AU fic (Hilda/Lysithea)
- The Ghost of Ochs by WillyFourEyes, a canon divergence AU (Constance/Monica)
The amount of characters and possible combinations for romantic and platonic pairings, plus a general appreciation for the game, has led to a large amount of zines for an infinite amount of topics. Most of these are spread on Twitter.
- Fodlan Cuizine: A FE3H Fanzine and Cookbook Twitter Caard
- Divine Pulse: A FE3H Chess Zine. Twitter
- Our Town: A FE3H Farm Sim Zine. Twitter
- Wanderlust: A FE3H Travel Zine. Twitter
- Fodlanomicon: A FE3H Eldritch Horror Zine. Twitter
- In Her Arms: A FE3H Femslash Zine. Twitter
- Social Warfare: a FE3H Regency Era Fanthology. Twitter Carrd