Where to Begin?

Sorry for such a ridiculous question, but clearly I’m new to both the community and hacking in general. What program should I use? Any useful links providing a good intro to a new peasant like myself? Sorry again and a thanks in advance!

I can point you to some tools if you’d like. FEditor, Nightmare, and Hex editors are what you’ll need, and can be found on this website.
From there, you can probably figure things out from Google.

If you didn’t already know, SerenesForest is another good place, has a ton of resources too.

Notepad++, event assembler, and Tiled or Mappy can round out some of the basic useful tools, there are a ton more fyi, so if you want to get that deep, just look those up.

Ask yourself “what do I want to make in a Fire Emblem game?” first, and then give yourself tiny goals that increase with each step.
Example: first, try using Nightmare to change some unit’s stats. After that, try editing text with FEditor to change their name. Then maybe try inserting a portrait or a simple map.

Once you have a good handle on the basics, I recommend making a few chapters’ worth of a reskin mod (no events, but different portraits, maps, items, etc). Try replacing Lyn/Eirika/etc with a character of your own and create a class for them using everything you’ve learned so far. Play through the few chapters that you re-skinned… then play through several of the vanilla chapters that come afterwards. How does the way you balanced your reskin chapters compare to the game balance of the vanilla game? Maybe your OC got really overpowered because you gave them good growths, or the iron sword breaks the game because you gave it 5% crit, etc. Re-skinning is a quick and dirty way of learning the basics.

But after you get bored with your reskin and want to learn more, learn how to do events (don’t be afraid to ask questions!) and never look back. You’ll be in the “just messing around with the game” phase for a while, but after that it’s a breeze.

The Ultimate Tutorial is very outdated in some places (e.g. music), but most of it still remains relevant. Don’t read the whole thing at once or you’ll go insane, but I recommend skimming it to get a lens on the modding toolset.

Also, welcome!

use DevkitPRO and learn .thumb assembly. Then look into memory editing and start from there.

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When you get into eventing. I’d start with MarkyJoe’s tutorial as an introduction. It sums up the basics pretty well and accurately.