How to makes your Generic Lord less Generic

I always find that romhack are quite creative with theirs units, but I always think there are too much generic lords that suffer the same problems as Lords in the base game.

I am gonna first try to define the 2 categories of lord in the fire emblem series and show their shortcomings and how to (try) fix them. I am going to use Fe8 to illustrate my point.

Fe 8 shows a huge contrast between the lords. Eirika is weak and really relies on others you can’t just throw her at enemies and she is not your best unit at all. She gets outclassed and does not really have a clear niche fighting wise. The ability to seize, recruit and prf weapons are his only niches. Let’s call this the Leader Lord

You can put some version of Marth, Roy, Lyn, Eliwood and Leif in the Leader lord category.

Ephraim is pretty much Lübu : a one man army. Where Forde doesn’t have enough stats to be effective anywhere Ephraim has enough stats to do anything .Ephraim doesn’t need his army his army needs him. Ephraim is a strong independent man. Let’s call this the Conqueror Lord

You can put Ike, Alm, Bytleth, Robin, Chrom, Corrin and Hector, Dimitri, Edelgard and Claude in the Conqueror Lord category

Leader Lords

The main issue with Leader lords is that they feel like a burden. We always try to think if unit in a hack deserves a deployment slots but we never ask if the Lord deserves a deployment slot. I am not sure you would want to deploy Eirika, Lyn or Roy if they had to compete for a deployment slot.

So why not make my lord Stronger then?

Well you could to that it’s a solution but you fall in some pitfalls that we will see later. It’s the easiest solution that why IS adopted it in later fire emblems but it kinda defeats the purpose.

I feel that this type of lord is made to feel weak since they need other units, but have a strong way to support other and get a niche. You have to make them worth using and deploying since it’s the main character, the story is seen with their eyes and if you keep your lord at level one and you only carry him to seize , I feel that you don’t really engage in the story.

Prepare yourself I am gonna say something crazy:

Niles In Fe Fates is one of the best leaders lords in the series

Let me explain: Niles gets a huge and direct niche by being able to unlock doors and chest, being able to capture enemies, having a huge res and he can use bows.

Let’s review each niche: being a thief makes him deserve his deployment slot, but doesn’t really make you want to use him in combat.

However the ability to capture makes you want to raise him and make him stronger so he can capture powerful units.

Then his great res stats give him a niche that not a lot of characters have in Conquest. But his low defense makes him depend in his allies to shield him against physical attacks.

Finally he is the only unit able to use bow for quite a long time (unless you reclass mozu) which give him access to every bow you have with no competition.

But the greatest thing here is that I feel that conquest maps and enemies really makes bow shine.

Flying units are very strong and pressure you a ton, ballistae are very useful in some chapters, there is a lot of walls and ninja are very commons and hard to deal with. Bow have a lot of assets but very clear weaknesses which really feeds in the design of a Leader lord.

I feel that Swords are a huge bane for most Lords because it’s the less unique weapon so you face a lot of competition. Look at Fe 6 in the first 4 chapters Roy encounter 4 unit that do his job but better.

Lance And Alen are Roy with a horse and lances and Diek and Rudgod are Roy with better bases.

To be more clear I don’t think it’s the swords that are bad but the allies and enemies around the sword lord. In most gba Fe axes user are not the most threatening units around so you don’t really feel a urge to handle them + they are not as common in the late game. Furthermore the lord face a lot of competition thus he doesn’t have a clear niche.

Your Lord Leader should be a flawed unit with a strong niche so it’s clear that he needs other but is not a burden.

The Conqueror Lord

Where Leaders Lord are taken over and dominated by their peer to the point where they feel like a burden, Conqueror Lords make their Friends feel like a burden. They are so strong and dominant that they invalidate most of their friends. That’s why you are more likely to end up with a team with Just Ephraim, some high mov units to ferry him, another strong combat unit and a healer than the same with Eirika it’s the same but worse in modern fire emblem with the Mu characters and modern lord like Chrom,the royals or the houses leaders.

In the end you feel a pretty big dissonance between the game-play where the lord massacre everyone by himself and the cut scene where he thanks everyone for their effort and how he could not have won without them.

Is tried to make My units feel like support units by giving them support oriented abilities but in the end why make Byteth sit next to a student fighting someone when Byleth can just slaughter the enemy Why make Corrin and Robin a pair up bot when they can destroy everything? Why make your Hoshido lord Corin heal anyone when he can destroy anything?

In part 2 I will cite some example and tips in hack on how to make your lord less generic

Hope you liked part 1


I guess Micaiah, Ike and Celica all don’t exist.


I agree with this in some contexts. I think the more modern FE games make the lords way too dominant. I am okay with the lord being a burden in most contexts if they can contribute in some. Really depends on how you want your army composition to work.

For example, I’ve been toying with the idea of a merlinus wagon lord that has no combat, only controls supplies. A clear niche and utility (convoy warp strats!) but clearly a burden to have to manage since they can’t actually grow.

You can do a lot of unconventional things, but sometimes a conventional sword lord that has middling stats works really well since it doesn’t infringe on many other established niches.


I think the use of Niles as an example was a little odd, but very useful and appropriate. If the lord isn’t going to be what you call a conqueror lord, then they need some kind of utility that makes them worth their forced deployment. Marth gets the fire emblem and basically becomes a thief, some lords have charm or in the case of Leif, lots of valuable support bonuses, Michiah has sacrifice and promotes into staves. Not all of those lords are equally excecuted, but the idea remains.


why make Byteth sit next to a student fighting someone when Byleth can just slaughter the enemy Why make Corrin and Robin a pair up bot when they can destroy everything? Why make your Hoshido lord Corin heal anyone when he can destroy anything?

byleth and corrin are very balanced lords, neither capable of soloing lunatic at any point, neither even in the top 3/5 units of their game

i don’t think anybody enjoys roys. hell people even have problems using lyn and eliwood

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There’s more to being a balanced Lord than being able to solo or not. I’d imagine you can solo CQ Lunatic with Corrin for the most part anyway bar CQ10 and Endgame.


How to make your generic lord less generic - stop making them (always) nobility and have them simply be the focal point of the story. Not necessarily the driving force of the story (though there’s nothing saying that they can’t be and most of the time they should be), but at minimum, the viewpoint to the events going on around them.

Then, make them act like a person actually would, complete with doubts, fears, cockiness and self-assertion, etc. Don’t always make them paragons that can do no wrong, don’t make them generic slates for players to project onto, try to avoid “children of destiny” set ups and other common tropes and archetypes - make them feel like they’re an actual person living in whatever situation they’ve found themselves in and how they would react accordingly in that situation.

Give them a backstory, a profession, a list of traits and beliefs, etc. to shape who they are, what class role they’d fill into, etc. and use that as the building block to naturally grow the story around them. Have a rough vision for what the story/project wants to do and align the two elements together - maybe your main focal character is a blacksmith and the story goes in a Kris-like fashion where they’re brought in to some famous commander’s army to serve as an arms-maker and vendor for the group (giving you a lore reason for having unlimited vendor access for basic weapons) and, due to some FE5-like event where a majority of the army is captured, they have to help the commander build the army back up and fight on the front lines.

Maybe they forged their own heavy armor and they’re an Armorknight. Or maybe they’re just a Fighter with a Prf Axe (Hammer) that can act like a Hammerne staff and repair weapons. Maybe, after getting a taste of battle, they start to become bloodthirsty and reckless, which alienates them from the commander and the army or simply shows the negative psychological effects of sustained combat/war/stress on morality and the mind being desensitized to those actions over time (especially on someone that wasn’t trained for an army or to be a knight), or maybe they grow weary of combat (not suited for it) and making weapons of war and want to retire, but the commander needs their fighting prowess and armaments. Or maybe after the army is rescued, they transition into a Merlinus-like role as a simple traveling vendor. Maybe they build an arms dealing “empire” after the commander paid for all of the equipment he needed and they create a PMC for security for their black market deals, becoming “neutral” to all other governments/kingdoms around.

The point is that there are plenty of ways to consider plot and lead characters that don’t follow the traditional FE structure of “main character becomes a hero and saves the kingdom/princess/world/etc.” that would serve to broaden the pool of attitudes and personalities of the focal characters and present more unusual and fresh experiences for players while still offering traditional FE gameplay opportunities.


When it comes to things like this, I’m a firm believer of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

I don’t think it’s bad for a Lord to follow the trend that’s been established, especially when it befits the story. Not to mention that if you want to consider what’s “generic”, the mercenary lord archetype has been done once by Intelligent Systems in Ike, and multiple times by hacks, such as Road to Ruin.

The hacking landscape is varied and attempting to stand out from it is something you want to do, but just because you start to feel you can’t make your lord a royal or a mercenary, doesn’t mean you should force them to suddenly become a runaway cleric lord, reformed pirate lord, or a cavalry retainer “lord” that actually serves under a royal. These are indeed, great ideas, but the kind of lord you make drastically affects the story you want to be telling. New ideas are indeed very fun to explore, and it’s great to try to expand and see what works, but it doesn’t add anything to the objective quality of the project, and calls for a new type of story to be told. It is simply a modification of the medium by which the main character is expressed, and as the main character’s status changes so will their origins, motivations, and conflicts.

In terms of mechanics, I’d argue make your lord do whatever they need to do. Do they kill things? Support their allies? Loot treasure and plunder chests? Or, are they just being escorted? It can be whatever it needs to be, but for the sake of quality it must line up with the game’s design, and, preferably, they should not be pitiful at the job they are meant to do.


Just have their father beat them lol


Ike suddenly has negative flashbacks.

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“Give them a niche” can be said of pretty much any unit. It can be cool to try unorthodox things with the Lord, or give them unique utility.
But a perfectly viable path is to just make them a competitive unit, as you would strive to do with essentially any other unit you give the player.

If they’re an archer, give them means to have good player phase. If they’re an armor, give them good enough bulk to make it matter. I think essentially all the same unit balance mantras that apply to others apply to Lords, with the small caveat that, on any given playthrough, a player will most certainly be using them.

This is the path I chose to take with my Lords, treating them as I would most other units, and it’s turned out well for me. Doesn’t need to be complicated to work.


A good starting place for making lords less generic in the writing sense is fleshing out their background. Avoiding any sort of royalty/nobility or mercenary/professional adventurer type isn’t a bad idea, but it won’t automatically make your main character interesting; as a matter of fact, it can limit your possibilities. Noblemen are expected to fight in wars, and mercenaries can travel the world and end up taking a contract that leads them to the main conflict.

Consider that tired question people use in icebreaker conversations, “so, what do you do?”. They never say “where do you work” or whatever; it’s always “what do you do”. What does your main character do (or at least, what did they do before they found their self in a Fire Emblem story)? Consider a noble/lord main character. Okay, what kind of lord is he? Is he the proper ruler or heir of his country? What is his role in running the country? Perhaps he’s not actually a king but just a noble owning a certain amount of land in the kingdom. What is his relationship with the crown and the neighbouring nobles? Does he have opinions about the other power-holding classes in this country (clergy, bourgeoisie, etc)? Is he the product of a political marriage? A patrician appointed to fill the gap after another noble house suddenly collapsed? Does he have a deep loyalty to the kingdom or is his primary concern the safety of his estate? Does this lord have a reputation with the villagers and serfs living on his land? Does he keep a council or does he lord over his holdings with an iron fist? What kind of retinue does he maintain, and is he ready to bring them to war if the kingdom is attacked?

No matter what combination of answers you came up with for those questions, there’s a good chance your lord character is already different from any lord from the Fire Emblem series. These details, ideally set up at the beginning of the game, can have implications for the story later and make things feel a lot more organic. For example: let’s say our lord is distrustful of merchant guilds because he views them as useless peddlers. However, after he comes home from defending the kingdom from a minor incursion, he finds that the merchant guild leaders hired mercenaries (something else that he dislikes) to defend themselves in his absence. From whom? Oh, you know, the army of the other nobleman we’ve already established that our main character’s family has a feud with. Our guy’s forces have taken a beating while fighting under the kingdom’s banner, so now he has no choice but to ask the merchants’ help for his counterattack in exchange for political favours (a seat on his council, petition to the kingdom to remove trade regulations, etc). While the lord and the guildmasters fight their common enemy, they begin to develop a mutual respect. This is a solid several chapters’ worth of a potential Fire Emblem story, and nothing major has happened yet (no legendary weapons or dragons to be seen), but we’ve already introduced multiple friends (the kingdom and the merchants/mercenaries) and foes (whatever country attacked the kingdom and the rival nobleman) and given our main character a little bit of character development (he’s learned that many of his people, even bourgeoisie, can be useful, and that mercenaries can be as valid as professional soldiers). This is all thanks to the fact that we took some time to hash out some details for our “generic” noble main character.

In gameplay terms: I try to strike a balance between my lord being not good and not bad. Wait, I can explain. You don’t want a one-man army, yet you don’t want a liability because the player’s stuck with this unit for the whole game. To that end, my modus operandi is to make my lords good all-around units who can be a complement to anyone else on the team. I like to give them lots of HP while being stingy on speed and defense, so the player gets at least a few hits to play around with but can’t dodgetank or old-fashioned-tank everything either. Standout growths are strength (so the lord can hit harder and finish whatever enemy the complementing unit is working on) and luck (so a generic mercenary with 5% crit from its skill stat has no chance of getting a lucky crit and turning into a game over). But the real X-factor is starting equipment. All of the GBA FE lords get fantastic preferential weapons (armour/horse effectiveness, accurate, stronger than iron but not heavier, and can crit) to make them fun to use from the get-go (assuming FE7 starts at ch11; otherwise Lyn has to wait two chapters for hers but c’mon, it’s Lyn Mode), and I agree. In addition to that, I like to give my lords an additional weapon type from the start instead of having to wait until promotion. The most “fun” lord I’ve ever created was one who started with ordinary stats and growths, but also a preferential magic sword (2-range and resistance-targeting shenanigans!) and the ability to use staffs (complementing unit missed a 70% hit? no problem; just heal them up). Another concept used swords and bows (another 2-range option and good against fliers) and another used magic, but started with no ranks and you get a starting tome that can train the unit from “–” to E rank, and you choose what kind of magic it is. Even just sticking to one-range melee weapons (e.g. lances and axes) gives a lord weapon triangle control, which can be a valuable asset when most of your tier 1 units can only use one type of weapon each.


While I do like conqueror lords, god it’s like a bunch of units just fall behind them. While leader lords are nice because it gives me an extra thing to think about when playing a map, man they’re just weak. Although, I do feel that Hector is one of the weaker conqueror lords for me. Maybe it’s the way I’m playing, or maybe my Hector just isn’t good as others. I just find that he doesn’t get as many kills on a map as someone like Dorcas, who has just been massacring the enemy.

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You’re supposed to use the Wolf Beil.

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Hector is pretty slow on average and his promotion is quite late so it’s not just you. At max level unpromoted he generally hits 10 Spd which only really let’s him double enemies with 6 AS, this is before being weighed down. Not really a concern in Defend/Survive maps but for something like Rout maps it’ll leave him in the dust since he won’t be ORKOing often past early game.

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Hector’s main selling point is being durable during a point where you don’t really have that many units with good durability. Also Wolf Beil, yeah.

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I think Ike struck a good balance for a Conqueror lord, but had his worst qualities exasperated from PoR to RD
Path shows him as inexperienced, relatable, and a flawed, but good character. His choices are motivated by the morals he learned from his father, his desire for revenge, and the temperance that comes from becoming a leader and trying to live up to being as great a man as his father. As a unit, he is unbalanced, with a proficiency weapon that completely negates all his weaknesses but low(ish) Res, a unique skill that cranks his Dam and Survival through the roof, and barring some unlucky RNG or the lack of bands, he’ll cap every offensive stat he needs, and most of the defensive ones. So while his character is good, as a unit he isn’t ideal, and Dawn leans harder and harder into the unit aspect of his design.

Admittedly, Dawn is a game that gets vastly easier after you scrape through Miciah’s chapters, and by the time act 4 rolls around and you get to really build units and armies to preference, you’re going to hit tier 3s and S/SS rank weapons, so barring exceptions, everyone is reaching peak. To get back to the point, unless you are going for a very specific run (that is, Zephiel and whats-his-name) Ike will never struggle. And his character is played to give him an antagonistic edge, to contrast miciah and their conflict, before that “resolves” and all he has left is his grudge with black knight. That he already completed his arc, and literally and figuratively grew into his role as respected commander and legendary mercenary, meant that there would have to have been an entire new direction for him, but since Dawn wasn’t his story, he remains the Legendary Ike.

To sum up my rambling, Ike in Path is a good character to aim for in writing, but suffers in design as a unit, if one aims for balance.

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Especially when you consider how much Ike isn’t Kieran.

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wait ike was played as the antagonist? i always thought it was micaiah who was being played as that, albeit one forced by the best and most thought-out plot device before valla

anyways if you want a less generic lord, just don’t use eliwood animations :sunglasses:

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Everything about miciah’s story is supposed to be presented as sympathetic with events outside their control, to the point that even if Crimea and the Laguz are justified in invading back, you end the events of the war in control of miciah’s army, with Ike’s army explictly the much more powerful army pushing you into the corner. Its the plot of every other FE, with the plucky rebellion of a small army and a gifted leader, except you’re losing and wrong

but yes, less eliwood and erika recolors