Free Time and Deadlines in Fire Emblem. Let's Chat For a Bit

So, I’m curious. In 3 Houses, a proper calendar system was introduced. Around the end of the month, what is be considered a normal chapter takes place.

Between that time, you are able to train your units, buy goods and services, and take on sidequests and paralogues.

I would consider this an interesting mix between the linear progression of classic FE and the more open ended style of FE8 and most of the post FE12 entries.

With days and time limits, I feel like there’s more room for design and a varied gameplay loop to keep things fresh. Visiting towns, limited sidequests, secrets you can miss, so on and so forth.

I feel like 3 houses gave a bit too much time and too little things to do after a certain point, but the fact that such a idea has been tried in FE makes me curious about other takes.

That brings me to the some questions I want to ask:

  • How would you approach this concept?
  • What would make or break it for you?
  • Would it make you value your choices in FE more?
  • What are some of the shortcomings if poorly handled?
  • How much time would you give the player on average?
  • How far could free time between chapters be pushed?
  • Is it a decent way to balance out skirmishes and grinding?
  • What other previous mechanics in FE (or elsewhere) would you add? Ex. FE5 stamina or injuries (sit out a fight if defeated), Limited stock, sidequest deadlines
  • How would you measure time? Per town visited or battle fought? Per space moved on the overworld (Echoes)? For a few examples, Fates has its own version of time via 4 “states” (morning, afternoon, evening, and night). I think it also passes time based on how long you take in a skirmish. And of course, 3 Houses has activity points, which limits how many things you can do in a day.

Now this isn’t some questionnaire, you can answer any of these you want, or perhaps bring up something I didn’t mention. I just think the idea is begging for a deeper conversation.


I like what 3H did. It can be a bit daunting when you try to squeeze out as much as you can with the limited activity points granted though.

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In one of my ‘pending release - 2047’ concepts (Pirates), the general idea with Deadlines (featuring fatigue system) is for the player to be in control of a ship, and the stops they make being such optional maps.

Thus, the player can go straight for the next chapter or play the small missions in exchange of gaining fatigue (with the end of the main chapter being the only source of fatigue relief).

If poorly balanced, this either never comes into play or can effectively soft-lock a player due to their extensive use of units.

You are tailoring them as extra chapters in base to the player’s current situation/chapter, so you can attribute a more personalized balanced compared to standard skirmishes.

As mentioned beforehand, Fatigue.

On this case though, I would go against measuring time - the idea is that fatigue itself should be the main measure for the player to take on or not an optional map.


I think of something like this: when you complete a chapter that takes place in some town or village, if the story doesn’t state that you should leave ASAP, the next chapter is labeled as Gaiden chapter. It’s map is the same, but it’s like Battle Preparation from FE7. There are also some villagers like in FE2/15. You can add some optional dialogues between characters to give rewards to the player.

This might be impossible plot-wise. If we take Lyn’s mode, she can’t afford to take a break, because she needs to hurry.

5 turns.

Yes, considering you have only 5 turns and most maps don’t have arenas. You could also implement bonus exp from talking to villagers.

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I think the first time I saw time being essentially a resource was in Devil Survivor, and it left me with a good impression. In those games, there are many time-sensitive events, including some that determine the survival/recruitment of characters which in turn can determine possible routes.
That immediately contrasts with how FE usually works. The games are mostly linear, and so determinant events don’t mean much when there aren’t at least a couple of routes to take. We’d just be brushing up against the good and old “your choices don’t matter” tale, and I’d rather it just be presented as linear if that’s how it is.
Then we have the unit aspect. I’ll be generous and say that mutually-exclusive units receive mixed reviews, but unit death certainly isn’t a popular design choice, even more so when it’s enforced outside of gameplay.
And those were the two main strengths of the mechanic in DS for me, but to make them work in FE would require some subversion. I’m all for it personally, but for the players used to FE exclusively that might be a bit of a shock, and I can see IS not wanting to test their fans so soon after Engage.

I think a mix of Three Houses and Echoes could work pretty well. A game that has a world map, where things keep happening and other armies move around, so the player needs to keep an eye on time and make sure they arrive in time for the things they want to do, but resting/training/management also requires time, so they have to make decisions such as “do I arrive in time to help the NPCs defend their castle but possibly with underprepared units” or “do I make sure that my units are in top shape, but by the time I arrive the NPCs will already have been defeated”. A core gameplay loop like that sounds pretty solid to me, as the player could essentially make their own breather segments, wouldn’t have to be bombarded with filler events, and would have reason to keep an eye on global events even if they’re not immediately relevant to them. Additional settings such as fatigue and action/turn ratio on the world map could further customize the game flow to the player’s preference.
As a fan of Nobunaga’s Ambition, I’d hope IS eventually experiments mixing in war/diplomacy simulator mechanics and lets you choose which of many armies you wish to play as, because that’s been a good fit for time as a mechanic in my experience and would add a lot of replay value.