Why you should consider using Tear Ring Saga style leveling in your fan project

For those unaware, Tear Ring Saga's Leveling works like this:

The max level for unpromoted units is 20
The max level for prepromoted units is 30
The max level for promoted units is current level + 20 (promo at level 12 = max level 32)

However there are occult scrolls which allow you to increase your max level by 10, up to 40.
Your level also does not reset upon promotion.

To make sure even if you theoretically promote at level 40, you still will be able to cap all your stats,
TRS simply adds your unpromoted caps and promo bonuses to determine your promoted caps, although this bring in new problems.

Exp gains are determined by your “Score” which works similiar to the one in Awakening, aka a value made up of your stats, class and equipped weapon. Units with weaker stats or a weaker weapon get a little bit more exp.

My question is simple. Why does this type of leveling never get used in fan projects/hacks, or even other FE games?

Frankly i think one of the reasons is because a lot of people haven’t played TRS much if at all, so i wanted to make a post explaining it a bit, bring it’s mechanics closer to people, and start a debate about leveling systems in FE.

What are the problems of such a system?

The biggest problem i personally see is that promo gains have to also be your increased caps, otherwise promoting very late would hamper your strenght when completely capped out, similiar to how early promoting hampers you in the long term in other FE games. It also means that promo gains HAVE to play into the strenghts of the class unless you want weird caps. Swordmasters need to get lots of speed on promo so they are still the fastest, and can’t have the promo be to fix up their low bulk.

What are the benefits to such a system?
  • First of all it gives you new balancing opportunities. Let’s take FE7 as an example:
    Marcus is your first prepromote, and quite strong throughout the game, Isadora on the other hand feels quite lackluster compared to him, despite her exp gain and room to grow being similiar. The TRS system on the other hand would let you put Marcus at say level 15, and isadora at 5, essentially meaning she has a worse start, but gets exp considerably quicker, and has more room to grow compared to him, despite the both of them being Paladins.

  • It allows for unpromoted units to stay relevant for longer, meaning they’ll still be worth keeping around when capped if you’re lacking a promo item. Since promoted caps are their promo gains, and usually relatively low, even unpromoted caps can cut it for a good while.

  • Take the following example: You want a prepromoted Main character. Maybe he’s a war veteran leading a band of ragtag outlaws. In the regular FE system you run into the issue of him being considerably stronger, possibly making the game too easy at first. You could reduce his bases, and then give him relatively high growths compared to the others, to have him stay relevant in the lategame, but this in turn lets him snowball.
    In the TRS system however, you could make him a promoted class to show he is more experienced than your other units, but also low level to keep the general theme of lower growths around, and show he still has plenty of room to grow.

  • Weaker units get a little more exp, letting then catch up to your other units.

Possible Variations
  • The level cap could be just straight up 40, or just 20 for everyone, depending on how much or little you want units to grow, or how high you want growths/game lenght to be, since level does not reset on promo. The FE3 hack Biraku Saga uses the system with 20 level cap, and it worked quite well.
  • Your units could automatically promote at level 21 if you want to split promo gains from promoted caps.
  • Unpromoted units could have the same caps as promoted ones, but only get promo bonuses on promotion. Combined with a 40 level cap for everyone this would turn promotion into more of a bonus, rather than a necessity. You could then for example make promo items a bit rarer, and have prepromotes stick out more.
How implementable is this system actually?
  • For Lex Talionis, which is what i use mainly: absolutley. And not even hard to do.
  • For FEBuilder, which is what is mostly used:
    Mostly possible as far as i know. Please correct me if i’m wrong as i am not as experienced here and currently not have access to the program while writing this:
  1. The level cap can easily be increased without a patch. The level cap cannot be increased past 31 without modifying save data. Thanks to 7743 for pointing this out
  2. There is a patch which makes it so your level does not reset upon promotion
  3. The score system is not implementable right now as far as i know.
  4. The occult scroll is not implementable right now.
  5. The promo gains = promo caps system is doable by just changing the aforementioned values for promoted classes, although there are better ways of balancing this.
And lastly...

Consider playing Tear Ring Saga. Better than most games in the series, yet seriously underlooked due to not carrying the FE name. Not “soon”, not “later”, do it now. I’ll help you get it set up if you ask me on discord at Donlot#5256

I hope to spark discussion around the topic of leveling systems in FE, and would love to see it be experimented around with more. To those who did, thank you for reading this far.

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In terms of GBA games things get weird after level… 31? So I think for the GBA games at least that would be part of why. Could be an interesting experiment if it played nicely though. At some point I sort of wanted to try out what Three Houses did (Level 99 max like a ‘normal’ JRPG, no level resets on class change) but that didn’t really work properly. Was years ago though so I don’t remember what actually occured.

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What exactly would the average stat total be per level? How much bonus exp should be granted?

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I don’t quite understand the question. Could you please elaborate?

I don’t think it’d be difficult to grant a % extra exp when below average in stats, but I don’t know exactly what should be considered average, so I thought I’d ask

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It would depend on the game really. I would take the stats of every character into a doc, then make a formula to determine a total score, and use that to determine overall average stats across all characters.
Could be something like this:
HP/2 + Str + Mag + Skl x0.75 + Spd x1.3 + Lck x0.85 + Def x1.1 + Res + Support level x4 (A support is 3x4) + Class determined by class (cavs/wyverns get more value) + weapon level x1.5

Alternatively you could do it on a by unit basis. Say for every -3 below average stats (your average at level 10 is 12 speed, you have 9), you get +10% exp

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UnitPlacer cannot produce enemies above lvl 31.
The upper limit of Lv is 31 without modifying the save data.

For these two reasons, it is more convenient to reset Lv with Promotion.
Even with vanilla specifications, you can express up to Lv. 31, and if you do 2 Promotions, you can express Lv. 31+31=62.
If you do 3 promotions, you can express a higher level.
It is more fun for the player to raise the level than not to raise it.

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That is quite unfortunate, but i guess 30 as a total level cap for everyone with no level reset upon promotion could still work if caps are lower, or stats higher.

By the way, what you think of a fan project that uses Hoshigami (ps1) mechanics about turn gauge and action points? Also about the Combo mechanics and pushing people away and the strenght gauge
I like the mechanics of Hoshigami regarding that except for the deity mechanics, the magic levelling mechanics for not to say the stealing items mechanics and the low stats at levelling up of nearly every character despite having Aid skills. I mean, its a game that has very nice interesting mechanics but some of them suck ;-;
Well, lemme put a example of Hoshigami Battle gauge ( however it would be best if you could play a bit of it) Imagine you have 6 action points, moving one square takes 1 point and attacking takes 1.5 points for example. Of that 6 points you can use them in any way you want in that turn, but the more you spend them, the more time takes the next turn to arrive for that character. So for example you can attack 4 times if you dont move of your position, move 3 squares and attack 2 times, just move and end your turn, etc…
Most of the enemies just move a couple of squares near a character and then in their next turn they move closer and attack, most of them dont spend all of their action points so the next turn comes faster for them.

This is one awesome idea, TRS does a lot of unique stuff that should be used as inspiration more often.

To add another possible benefit of promotion not resetting levels and using a score to calculate Exp gain like TRS.

You could remove the Lv 10 or more requirement for promotion entirely like Vestaria Saga did, or mix different promotion requirements for more natural branching promos.

For example, let’s say you have Mercenary as the only base Sword infantry class, then on promotion if he has Speed 15+ he could promo to Swordmaster, but if he has Str 15+ he could promo into Hero or if he just has everything 10+ can go into Ranger (gaining a Horse).
I don’t know if hacking could do this, but I would assume to be in the realm of easily implemented on Lex Talionis.

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This is an awful idea, why would I want to be locked out of a class promotion because my unit got unlucky with the RNG? It makes certain classes completely outclassed by others by virtue of certain classes only being available if you have shitty stats. Classes should be balanced and each one bringing a unique niche to the table, not making a hierachy of strict powercreep.

Also, Fire Emblem’s strength is simple math and easy to figure out calculations. TRS’s promotion system is needlessly complex.

I’ve actually considered this myself in the past, but found that other systems could do the same thing, while being simpler.
To cover some of the benefits:

This can be done with internal level or FE4’s system of levels not being reset on promotion.
Internal level keeps track of your levels, and doesn’t reset when you promoted, even if the displayed level does.

I prefer FE4’s system, as it’s more transparent to the player.

This is ideally something you should avoid, as the designer, anyway.
Whether that be making sure units can’t skyrocket to capped level long before they can get a promotion item, or making sure the player has enough promotion items to promote all the units they want.

But this sounds like the level not resetting on promotion being at play, for the most part.

FE4 did this with Sigurd with levels not resetting on promotion.

Gonna be real here, I’m not a fan of exp gains being based on unit score, especially with the random nature of level ups and how often weapons are switched.
It’d be harder to keep track of for the designer, and likely wouldn’t have much of an effect on the player.

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I haven’t heard of that game before, i’ll watch some gameplay later and tell you what i think

@Anarch16sync
I heard about the split promotions based on conditions from Vestaria (which i haven’t played yet), and i really like it, and yes it’s definitely implementable in LT

@Contro
You can definitely fix the issues i mentioned without a leveling system like this, but i personally still prefer it over things like internal level.

The score based exp was actually relatively minor for weapons in TRS, so you’d only really notice it when comparing say the archer Luca with a regular wooden bow, and the mages with their powerful PRF tome, or when getting seriously stat screwed.
Now that i think about it, a bracketing system like Berwick (which i don’t think would be as fun outside Berwick), or shadow Dragons dynamic growth system (if you do not level a stat, you get a hidden +10% modifier boost to the stat. Failing to level a 60% gives you 6%, this can theoretically go as far as over 100, and leveling the stat again would give you 6% less, up to the original value)could also work to make sure weaker / units who fell off, can get back up again.

I recently started playing tear ring saga and I’m currently on chapter 13. I was apprehensive at first due to the mediocre graphics and janky controls, but it has really begun to grow on me due to the plethora of interesting and unique design choices. My personal favourite design choice so far has been the splitting your army into 2 (sorry RD, Kaga did it first). One army being a more linear experience, the other being a more gaiden-esque sandbox experience.

That being said though, I am relatively neutral as far as the levelling system goes and don’t think it would matter massively. For example, you say Marcus could start at level 15 and Isadora could start at 5, effectively giving Marcus 15 levels to grow and Isadora 25. I feel as if this would be an unnecessary modification, when, if you wanted Isadora to grow better than Marcus, you could simply increase her growth rates rather than increasing the amount of levels, either way, her stats over time remain the same. If you wanted her to gain exp more quickly, you could easily do that by changing the hidden stat “relative power”.

If you really think about it, aside from prepromotes being able to start sub-level 11, both systems are exactly the same. You say tear ring saga gives you an additional 20 levels to grow after promoting at any level, well so does fire emblem (technically 19, but you get the point). The stat booster that gives you more levels to grow? Well, doesn’t the juna fruit literally do just that? The differences between the 2 systems are small at best, and any potential benefits can be achieved through other means, so I don’t think it would be worth making such a huge change.

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The issue with just increasing growth rates instead of levels to grow is that it makes snowballing easier in my opinion
Take this example:
With the regular FE leveling system: Marcus has 15 levels to grow, starts with 15 SPD, and has 100% SPD growth
With the TRS system: Marcus has 30 levels to grow, but 50% speed growth

By the time he caps her level, he’ll reach 30 speed in both systems. But the way there is different

FE System: by the time he gets 10 levels, he’ll have reached 25 speed. Every single level is a huge boost to him.

TRS System: by the time he gets 10 levels, he’ll average at 20 speed. His growth is still quite good, but not enough to snowball and trivialise a good amount of the game with just a few levels. However his lategame potential is not hampered either, as he still has a lot of room to grow.
This is great if you want to have “experienced” characters who stay strong throughout the game, but not too OP.

The Juno fruit which reduces your level, while similiar, is also not quite the same.
The occult scroll increases your max level by 10, up to 40, meaning at most, you’ll get 10 additional levels.
Lowering your current level however doesn’t really have a limit. Say your Juno fruit reduces you from level 20 to 10, you also get 10 additional levels… but then you can just eat another one, and get 20 additonal levels, and so on.

Why are we assuming that Marcus gets 10 levels on both systems though? If you have increased the level cap like in tear ring saga, you would also have to increase his exp gain proportionally.

Using your example, let’s say in vanilla fe, Marcus can expect to gain 1 level per chapter. In 10 chapters, his speed will have increased by 10. To balance this with your system, he would have to gain 2 levels per chapter at a 50% growth. The end result is the same. If he does not gain additional exp with lower growths and a higher level cap, then that is just basically nerfing the unit. Instead, you would expect that the experience increase would be inversely proportional to the growth decrease. In this case, his exp gain would have to be doubled to account for the halved growths.

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