Post-Death Gameplay Alterations - A reason to play through deaths

You’re playing Fire Emblem, you’re doing your best, but suddenly, two units die during your turn. One unit died because you made a mistake, the other died due to RNG. One guy who was married and had a child, and another woman who was about to S-Support with the man she loved. You’ve got replacement units who are vastly inferior to them warming the bench, so you could play through the deaths, but… The game won’t react to their deaths, not really. Those connected to the characters won’t be changed for better or worse. There will be no new support conversations where you or any other characters help characters with dead loved ones with their feelings.

Even if Chrom watches his own wife die right in front of him, and Lucina watches her mother die right in front of her all over again, the game won’t unlock any sort of consolation prize for letting Sumia die. You won’t even unlock a bonus one-shot scene with Cynthia where she cries into Lucina’s arms over losing her mother all over again. These characters won’t gain bonus stats to symbolize how mad they are at Grima and the Grimleal over this.

There isn’t a scene where the Chrom-like character and Robin-like character are taunted by the Grima-like character with visions of everyone the heroes couldn’t save. No “Fight through the Fog of Lost Souls in the Pit of Despair while fighting monsters in an escape map getting guilt-tripped every so often by the spirit of a dead ally turned against you” moment. There is no Metal Gear Solid 3 “If you killed enemies who didn’t have to die this part is different” segment.

At best, you’re playing one of the few games where a cutscene or two might slightly change depending on whether anyone died during gameplay or not. Maybe the Lord will feel worse about recklessly rushing into danger “because that’s what a true hero does” if it gets people killed. But there is no alternate ending where too many people died to honestly call this a happy ending, and no nonstandard game over where so many people die that your army’s remaining units just abandon you and your cause for trying to do a meme run where you intentionally get everybody who can be killed killed once they outlive their usefulness.

You’re solely taking a loss when you play through deaths, a loss you don’t have to take unless you’re on a self-imposed challenge like an iron man run with no resets or turn wheel shenanigans or revival staff or character-reviving plot events or optional side chapters to revive people. You’re allowing your army to get worse. You might even be able to softlock yourself. There is no gameplay reward for it later on. The story doesn’t dynamically adapt to this loss. You’re just missing out on content. Missing out on everything that character could have said or done this time around.

I think more people would want to play through deaths if the series played around more with the idea that death is not the end of one character’s story, but the beginning of effects on those connected to that character.


Now that I think about it, I think IS basically just took the path of least resistance when it comes to permadeath. They’ve always kept it, since its part of the FE series’s core identity, but they haven’t really done much with it… ever. I feel like there’s a lot of untapped potential here.

But yeah, I think it would be pretty cool if characters properly reacted to other characters dying; and not just with a small cutscene after the chapter is over (FE7), one voiced line at the end of a chapter (Echoes), or a change in the character’s ending. It should leave more of an impact on the other characters, especially if they were close with the character who died. The problem is, how would you make this work? After all, it would be an absolute nightmare if you tried to write different supports, cutscenes, etc based on who’s dead and who has supports with who when you have a cast of around 40 playable characters. It gets even worse if you allow every character death to have an affect on the story.

One way would be to simply limit character interactions. You could make it so that character deaths only affect other characters if they had a support with them, where the support level they had with each other would change how it affects them. You could also limit the number of supports a character can have at once (like in the GBA games), or just limit how many characters they can support with. You could also make it so that individual character deaths don’t really affect the story, but certain thresholds of deaths will. Alternatively, you could limit it to character interactions outside the main story. Another way would be to limit the cast itself; though this could become an issue on the gameplay side of things. There’s probably tons more creative ideas I’m not thinking of, too.

Speaking of gameplay, I think that might actually be the bigger issue here. How do you make the player want to continue past a character’s death, especially when its impact is more heavily emphasized? A lot of players get atatched to these characters, and seeing their allies mourn for them will just make it sting that much more. There’s a lot to consider here. Giving characters certain buffs and debuffs depending on their relationship with the deceased character is a cool idea, but it won’t affect whether a player resets or not. It does provide an opportunity for more unique units and experiences, though. Honestly, I’m kinda stumped on this one. The only way I can think of is to give the player some sort of “reward” for continuing past a character death. I’m not entirely sure how that would work, though. It wouldn’t work if the player doesn’t know about the “reward” either, so it should be conveyed to them somehow.

Anyway, my brain kinda fried itself while writing this, and I don’t really know how to end it. Sorry if this is kinda all over the place. I’d love to see some more cool ideas here!


I think the idea is cool thought the logic would be kinda funny, like here’s a cool prize cause you suck lol. One way to do this would be to make a “bad ending” that can only be unlocked if lotsa important character dies and with several moments keeping you away from the bad ending. That way the player has more of a choice in the matter of getting the bad ending aside from “yea I suck at fe, positioned most of my units bad and they died” as a condition. It’d be more like doing the genocide route in undertale, you have to specifically work for it

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If you get rewarded for your units dying, you’ll end up missing out on that reward if you don’t let them die. I don’t like that. Even if the reward is merely some changed dialogue based on which characters have died, it still means missing out. Ultimately, two different stories would need to be written, despite each person experiencing only one of those stories. Sounds like a waste of resources.

I’ve toyed with a storyline where undoing permadeath is a consistent in-game option to the player via necromancy or contract with fae, in order to simplify design and roll with full-deployment full-cast scenarios. Restored characters would be gameplay-wise the same and switch over to a slightly-off set of supports/dialogues, dead units that stayed dead would probably affect the final chapter’s arrangement and character ending blurbs, and it otherwise could be limited to purely an internal conflict on the lords/MU’s sense of morals.

Putting the choice on the player and testing it sounds fun, but I think it’d be niche given it puts the theme of death/injury up front.

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I mean, it’s not a reward, it is the characters reacting organically to gameplay events, which would only serve to strengthen the gameplay/story integration FE can excel at. It doesn’t make sense to say the player needs to get everything every time, ultimately this is only the game responding better to your actions which strengthens emergent gameplay by tying it in with writing. It’s not a waste of resources because it creates a wider range of experiences for the game. In a sense it is an “inefficient” use of resources if the idea of the game is that every player needs to experience every bit of content in the game, but having things be missable creates a unique experience. On top of that, unless the game is advertising or signposting alternate dialogue, there is no reward dangled in front of players, they only find out about the alternate dialogue through experiencing the game. They are completely unaware of this until it happens, and even then it’s not a reward because you are still, you know, losing a unit.

The bigger issue is almost definitely the raw amount of time and labour it would take to write enough of this alternate conditional dialogue for an entire game on top of all the regular writing of story and supports. Not to say it can’t be done but I’m sure IS probably had enough on their plates already.


That is the reward. Same reason why one might have some character that probably has some backstory with a boss attack that boss, despite potentially ending in that character getting killed; It might trigger a battle quote. You don’t want to risk losing that character? Guess you’ll have to forfeit that possible battle quote.

Maybe not everything, but most stuff though, why not?

If every person only experiences part of that wider range, it is a waste of resources.

This adds no value. Whether an experience is unique or not, it’s still the same experience.

Or by getting informed online at which point one might end up groaning when realizing what they’ve missed out on. Either way, you’re missing out.

The stuff that you get for losing that unit is still a reward.

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FE9 already kinda does this. Some story scenes can become pretty grim if your units die, especially the early ones.

Would definitely love to see them explore permadeath more. Imo it is THE core mechanic for FE, but instead they seem to try to develop less and less with permadeath in mind.

Regarding the question whether adding “exclusive content” in the form of more dialogue, or special events, etc, is a good thing: Absolutely

I generally play games with a mindset that goes like this: If the game is fun, educational or enjoyable in any other manner, i will keep playing. If i really like the game, i might even replay it, and see if i missed anything. For a game with dynamic storytelling, like through permadeath, I can play a really fun game again, but won’t already know everything that happens. I’ll essentially end up with a unique experience.

If the game is fun, but i’ve already seen absolutely everything it has to offer, i’ll get bored of it more quickly than a game with replayability.

Now on the other hand, if the game i’m playing is not any fun, or doesn’t teach me anything, then why should i waste my time playing it? Why should i care about finding out everything about something i do not enjoy? I mean if i REALLY like the story, but not the gameplay, then i can just watch a lets play or something.

That aside, if permadeath wasn’t there, there wouldn’t really be any stakes at play, and the player wouldn’t really have to care much about tactics in a game all about tactics. If i can just reset or get my unit back free of cost on the next chapter (in casual mode) then why shouldn’t i just ignore enemy stats, and brute force through the enemies? Deaths are meaningless after all. This point is more of a gameplay one, but gameplay/story Integration is also important.


Just because you say something is a reward does not make it so. Supports are also a reward, should every support be the exact same in gameplay benefit and writing content so that if you choose to do one support over another your experience won’t be different from someone else? If everyone should get most of the stuff, why have permadeath at all, as it results in missing content from letting a character possibly die? Or have a village with unique dialogue and and item, since if the player is too slow, they will miss out on content? Or even, if you don’t let a character die, you don’t get to see their death quote, which is a direct example of a character’s death rewarding the player with dialogue.

I’m not even saying that you disagree or agree with these assertions, just that the games are already full of missable things, and that makes them more interesting. Just because people want to get everything in the game easily doesn’t mean they should get it. I don’t see why the game should hand it to you on a silver platter, you are not losing out on more than a few lines of dialogue regardless in the case of something like a missed boss quote.

Maybe I would agree if you were talking about some gameplay benefit like an item or something, but adding dialogue is done for the express purpose of making the characters more human and feel more real, I don’t understand why some arbitrary concept of a reward needs to get in the way. This only really works if you are making a lot of assumptions with regards to player behavior, and even then I don’t think just because someone wants all the dialogue means they should be allowed to get it. Again, refer to the instances of missing content that already exist in FE.

Something like FE6’s mutually exclusive routes or FE8’s routes or 3H’s routes aren’t stuff people complain about (they don’t complain that they’re seperate routes usually, anyhow. The complaints are more on reused content and stuff). They lend each player’s playthrough more variance and leads to things like replaying the game to experience what you missed out on while also having a distinct experience from your first playthrough so things don’t get too samey.

Maybe you disagree with these routes existing too, and that’s fine, but they seem to lend to a lot of peoples’ experiences with the game, and they have mutually exclusive dialogue. They’re of course more directly influenced by player behavior, but I think usually letting a unit die is usually ultimately a result of the player’s poor decisionmaking if traced back far enough.

Just because something is a less-than-perfect use of resources does not inherently make it a waste, it’s all dependent on the framing and intent. I feel stupid for bringing this up but this is a view of games as a product more than an experience. Yes, if I’m making a product with a tight budget and timeline, I will probably want to make sure I’m getting the most out of these limited resources. Probably why IS has generally been so hesitant to include these things in the past and why I don’t begrudge them for it.

But if I want to create something that has a meaningful impact on people through emergent gameplay through the mechanic of permadeath and gameplay/story integration, lending the player’s gameplay actions more weight through dialogue is going to help achieve that goal in a way that just making more unmissable dialogue isn’t going to. Supports already do this to an extent with the player’s placement of units influencing who they build relationships with, and it’s generally good when implemented correctly.

This isn’t the “correct” way of doing things, but if the intent is to center FE’s mechanic of permadeath, then adding alternate dialogue is perfectly in line with that intent and not a waste of resources, as they’re going directly to achieving your goal. If making sure everyone sees everything you worked on is the intent, then yeah it’s not going to help you.

I want to point out this line, actually, because it’s self-contradicting. If something is unique, then it by definition cannot be the same as another instance of that thing, because that thing will also be unique. Genuinely don’t understand what you were getting at here.

Not sure why the game needs to be built with the assumption that the player will look up stuff or will even find the alternate dialogue while looking up the game. Just because someone can look in builder didn’t change how I made my hacks, and I don’t think it influences most other people either. If someone looks my game up and is disappointed by something, that’s not my fault because I don’t make the wikis.

If you’re taking this route anyhow, it could be easily argued that wikis address the complaints about an in-game reward since someone probably transcribed all the conversations onto a website.


Most of this post seems to be arguing with someone else so I’m not sure why you’re quoting me, and I’ll just ignore the parts that argue against things I haven’t said.

Whether something is unique or not does not add value to that something. That’s what I’m getting at. If person A experiences thing X, and person B experiences thing Y, that doesn’t mean that makes things better than when person A and person B both experience thing X and resources spent on thing Y go to something else.

I mean, this is the obvious issue with generalizations. This might be true for one thing, but untrue for another. Say, a game in which permadeath is a mechanic and luck is a large factor with levelups, creating unique experiences for each player already, you might want to lean into that and make characters react to how the player is doing to make them feel closer to the action and more attached to the characters through witnessing them undergo struggles that are a direct result of the player’s blunders. Or maybe in a roguelike you want every run to be different so the player is always on their toes, though this is done through randomization and not writing. Every player’s experience is still going to be unique and different even from run-to-run which adds to the game in the sense that the player cannot rely on memorizing precise level design and has to improve their mechanical fundamentals instead.

If FE were a linear movie-type game like Uncharted or something, yeah it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to waste resources making every playthrough different. If you made the game have casual mode on permanently or were designing like a modern FE game in which permadeath isn’t a huge factor, it doesn’t make sense to add something related to that mechanic. I did already say this, though. It’s all about what the intended experience is. If you don’t want to make a game that cares about permadeath, nothing is stopping you, but why should a game that wants to care about permadeath follow those rules?


i think at the end of the day they were saying locking significant content behind an action you’re literally not supposed to do is a poor decision

and i agree

this is why people don’t like shadow dragon’s gaidens (even though they’re stupid anyway)

I think referring to alternate dialogue reacting to a character death as “significant content” in the same way an entire map or unit is feels pretty inaccurate, even if I agreed with the base statement itself.

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well it’s based around the idea of making a bunch of extra content/referencing to the character who died, so in that instance it actually is significant content (ie what the op proposed)

a one off line isn’t