Suppose you're in charge of balancing weapons without durability

Fates gets a bad reputation for how it handled them because the forge exists to make busted Irons and several effects on the weapons are too much of a hindrance.

If you wanted to make an SRPG that uses Fire Emblem’s engine, but doesn’t involve weapon durability, what would you think is the best way to go about implementing them?

The immediate thought I had were weapon skills that change how you approach a situation, such as Iron weapons having Nihil in order to prevent enemy skills from happening on their turn, at the compromise of using a weak weapon. But well we had that locked topic regarding the skill system recently and it’s not like I exactly disagree with the tedium involved in checking them.

I’m with you in that I don’t think it’s a great idea. If I were to make all weapons unbreakable, I would probably do the following:

  1. Make all weapons really expensive and/or gold hard to find. Make the weapons really feel like upgrades.

  2. Make droppable weapons rare - I shouldn’t be given too many tools too early.

  3. Find a way to make each weapon more distinct. I thought the Hoshido weapons with their random buffs were interesting in concept. Albeit, I’d more inclined to try and make the first two things work before taking this route.

My main issue with unlimited durability is that it takes away a key part of resource management, which I think is a fun and integral part to FE. If I can use my jeigan’s silver lance without running out, why not always use it? Same with stuff like warp in FE16 - there is no incentive for not using your most powerful option.


Bronze weapons in at least one game prevents criticals. Or maybe that’s just when attacking with them, I don’t remember.

In my hack I’ve done away with durability. I’m also trying to replace almost every weapon in the game, as the standard FE weapons of course are balanced due to durability.

One thing I’ve found very helpful is the Fixed Damage patch. Using that + ignores defenses, you can have a weapon always deal x damage. For example, Paragon weapons that can only deal 3s. And many skills can go nicely on a weapon, and it makes the player strategize and choose between the effect they want. Should I get Luna? Or Astra? What would be better for this weapon?

Then there’s also effective weapons. As I’m designing a number of new monster classes, I’m making certain weapons effective against them and considering the mt and effectiveness multiplier to give them.

There are a lot of interesting things you can do with weapons. Personally I don’t want to go overboard with handing out skills to weapons, but it is a great way to create variance with your weapons. Can definitely make a great game without durability, but it means you’ll need to redesign every weapon imo.

Edit: And if you’re getting rid of durability, you need to find something else for the player to also spend money on. As Pandan points out, fund management is enjoyable.

Enemy weapons are essentially infinite durability already. I would typically avoid giving generic enemies weapons with Skills.

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Guess you have Echoes to work with for an example as well.

I would probably implement/emphasize a more detailed weapon experience leveling system/tree, for example a character starts off clumsy with a wooden blade and eventually learns to master it, then they can “upgrade” to a bronze sword once they find it (and repeat the process). Without enough experience they would be unable to use or be severely penalized for skipping to the bronze sword. Bit different than vanilla WEXP, and likely would need a lot of explanation/technical rework, but that’s my own pet idea.

In any implementation, inflate the price / decrease the availability of weapons so a singular type of weapon can’t be overused, imo.


One thing I might do is also remove the idea of weapon ranks? All weapons would be roughly equal overall, so there’s still a major choice to be found in what to use for each given situation. Strict upgrades over past weapons would probably be rare, and end up as major progression points later into the game.

Should all weapons really be equal overall, though? Some can be balanced less by their strength but rather by their sheer rarity, for instance. An SRPG is in most cases still a game that has a lot of characters to have to control, not everyone can get to conveniently have the good stuff on hand.

Perhaps weapon ranks in of themselves wouldn’t be warranted, but a binary mastery might be, where only people who have achieved incredible skill can handle using certain weapons.

I’d probably take the FE4 approach, mixed with Pandan’s thoughts, if I had to design a system with unlimited durability. (I’d rather have durability, personally, and could spend awhile talking about weapon systems with durability but way different than FE’s…)

Limited weapon pool (what a unit comes with, uncommon drops, limited shop stocks and high(er) costs for non-basic weapons (maybe a dash of FE5 with limited funds too?)), units come with higher base weapon ranks BUT can still grow through use like normal. Maybe adopt a slower WEXP growth like FE9 to counterbalance the higher starting ranks. Obviously without FE4’s odd weapon balance for stats (and without the trading restrictions), but effective weapons, weapons granting Skills, etc. can still stay and I’d probably make magic do more than just damage at the minimum (maybe add more effects for physical weapons too). Would probably do away with Warp-based staves, though, just because infinite use, barring some massive debuff with a map-long duration, just seems too abusable.

With the higher ranks, it opens up who you can or want to give what you are able to get with more freedom and lets you sprinkle weapons across the game of varying degrees. Weapons can technically be infinite in FE4 anyway, so this is just basically rebalancing what’s already there and negating the repair costs.

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I really liked Fates’ system when it came to unbreakable weapons. If the Smithy didn’t exist I feel it would make gameplay a lot more varied than just using Iron Weapon +5

I would probably just not make a shop for weapons and give them a few interessting statincreases and mostly call it a day. Basically, I would do echoes with more thought to it and integrating Money as a more effective tool for power than other FEs did it with forging. What really sucked about the fates smithy anyways is not even that it exists or that it is too easy too use, it is that it always has the same effect. There is no kind of playerchoice if one wants more might, lower weight, higher hit, etc.

This topic is something I’ve been thinking about long and hard.

My first thought was to take the existent weapons in GBA and simply rebalance their might, hit and weight. For example, javelins and hand axes could have little to no might in order to compensate 1-2 range, instead of outright preventing doubling and critting like Fates did. For killers, I thought of limiting critical damage to x2 instead of x3 to compensate its high crit rate. For silvers, besides lowering might, lowering hit and upping weight, you could have something like half might during enemy phase, so you could oneshot enemies in player phase but not sweep them on their phase, and instead consider steel weaponry for higher enemy phase damage.

About availability, weapons should either be very expensive, or be limited in stock. Like, an armory only has one iron sword, one iron axe, and one iron lance; you cannot buy several in the same map. Alternatively, you could remove armories altogether and have the player get weapons through dead enemies, villages, or chests.

Balancing weapons without durability is noticeably harder, but I think it makes for a better gameplay experience if done right. Breakable weapons are easy to design, but they’re not so great for the player who wants to use a cool new weapon regularly for more than 2 maps.

I personally don’t have a problem with the base system in fates. I feel like the only way it gets really broken is with forging, but if you’re not visiting 14,000 castles a day, chances are you’ll really only have the resources to forge one or two types of weapons at most. Additionally, if you’re playing conquest, where money is limited, you probably won’t be buying hardly any weapons just for forging anyways.

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If you want, I guess a good way to have unlimited durability for weapons would be the removal of the Armory. As for shops, probably make them sell only usable items and stat boosters with maybe magic equipments that have durability. Besides the starting weapons with unlimited durability on your units, you can make them also be dropable by bosses and enemies.

Weapons having their own durability is fine anyway, just try to not go overboard in making weapons too busted that they end up making all completely pointless in using or very bad that they are not worth running at all (see Steel weapons in FE Fates).

As for the Skill System topic that closed a while ago, just don’t mind it. It was a pretty bad topic from what I saw anyway.

I remember when I tried my hand at this back when I did an old FE8 hack.

So what I did was keep Iron and Steel weapons largely the same, nerfed 1-2 range weapons to weakness, Silvers provided a Def/Res penalty (making them great hit-and-run weapons).

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i would start with making Iron weapons E rank again, and only let it have very low might, say like 2 might or so on an Iron Sword. Then we get to Steel Sword (Rank D), and let it have much more might (say 8 might), while weighing down the user (using Con style weight calculations). then the Interim weapons of rank C and B would be much smaller upgrades (maybe even might downgrades to cover their different utility). something like 6 might for killing edge, or 7-8 might for Brave sword. Then Silver Weapons should be Rank A, and should have a large jump in damage again (say 14 might for sword), and should be rare (like sold only in a secret shop, if any shop).

A curve like this can also only work if weapon levels are somewhat difficult to obtain, and if silver weapons themselves are also somewhat rare. The idea should be that getting to A rank should only happen late game, and that the really strong weapons are valuable, and thus, the Silver weapons being overpowered doesn’t impact most of the game balance, and the devs can balance around when you would get these weapons, and approximately which characters could use them at specific chapters.

If you don’t like the overpowered silver weapons, i like the idea of defense penalties. for the ranged weapons, i don’t think much is necessary for bows, but magic should probably have low might for all spells compared to even swords (like fibulventr being like 11 might A rank or something). knives should also either lose a lot of debuff power, or lose pretty much all their damage.

this is all my thoughts, as someone who hasn’t really dug into the design element of Fire Emblem.

Conquest weapon system was fine

I think the community has two big misconceptions about weapons without durability:

  1. Without weapon durability, resource management is eliminated/weakened/less fun
  2. It is impossible to balance weapons without durability

I think both of these are misguided and here is why:

  1. Resource management is streamlined, not reduced when durability is eliminated. Managing items/gold has not been particularly interesting in any of the fire emblem games i’ve played because the games give you so much gold that conserving durability is only relevant with rarer weapons that are not commonly sold. Fates Conquest was the first time when money actually felt valuable and limited. This is because Fate’s designers never had to worry about whether the weapons they had already handed out would break and therefore didn’t feel the need to saddle the player with extra money just in case. When durability is eliminated, the supply of weapons can be more limited (because as I said before you don’t have to worry about players breaking weapons), causing your resource management choices to actually matter. It provides greater incentives for players to complete side objectives that reward them with items/gold. Getting rid of durability also makes weapon management less bloated and tedious. You don’t have multiple weapons with only a few uses yet taking up unnecessary space. You don’t have to worry about the unknown longterm costs of using a powerful weapon when it’s useful in the short term (durability makes people think they should hoard which is bad because hoarding isn’t a good strategy. The argument that infinite uses invalidates powerful early game weapons is bad because it’s almost always more efficient and optimal to just use the weapon even with durability). You don’t have any annoying moments when you realize that you didn’t double because your sword only had one use left.
    TLDR Eliminating durability means you can make funds and weapons more limited, increasing the value of gold and items and making your purchasing choices more strategic and matter much more.
  2. A lot of people have made the argument that just because Fates did a poor job balancing weapons with durability means it’s more difficult, but I think that might, hit, availability, (which everyone forgets) and weight are enough to balance without all the special debuffs. As mentioned in point 1, price is a much more interesting balancing option with infinite durability as well. How exactly the stats of weapons should be set up to do this can’t just be stated in abstract because the context of the stats of the units who use the weapons are also important, and I can’t have many examples because not many games have tried weapon durability, but I don’t think we should just assume it’s harder just because Fates failed at it.