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Friday, May 20, 2022

About Authority in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and why Micaiah should've gotten Authority Stars

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Gameplay-story integration! ...Except in this case?

One relatively underlooked mechanic in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is the Authority stat. It doesn't help that the stat is mislabelled in the American localisation of the game. What it actually does in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is provide 5 points of hit and avoid to every unit in the commander's army for every one Authority Star on the commander—a buff that can matter a bit, especially with several Authority Stars. (What the description claims is that the unit can have as many Bond Supports as the number of Authority Stars they have... but that's not the case.) In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, every unit on the field belongs to a given faction. Sometimes, red enemy units (or green other units) will consist of multiple factions, and these may have different commanders or no commanders at all. An example may be the Volunteers and the Bandits in Chapter 2-1 (Winds of Rebellion), as opposed to the Rebels under the Authority of Yeardley and his one Authority Star. There are many instances where you command yellow partner units in the story that appear to share the same affiliation as your lord (such the Crimean Royal Knights NPCs), but they do not get any Authority boosts because they aren't literally in your direct command.

If a given faction has several units with Authority Stars, only the commander's Authority Stars matter. This comes into play a lot in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and it differs from how the last game with Authority (you might see it called Leadership Stars there), Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, did it. In Thracia 776, any unit with Authority—not just Leif, the lord—contributed to that faction having additional hit and avoid—this all applies both to your own units and enemies. For your own units, that added an element of strategy where you might field units (and you have limited deployment slots) JUST because they have Authority, so they can support all of your units. While units with any stars are... rare and far and few between, that might be why you might field Finn or the only reason you'd use Glade. Thracia 776 also has a Fatigue mechanic that is designed to make you not use the same units every map, which increases the complexity of your strategic decisions on whether or not to bring someone just because they have Authority.

Leif starts the story off with zero Leadership/Authority Stars, but as the game progresses, he'll have up to two. Micaiah starts her story off with zero Authority Stars as well... and ends the game that way, too.

Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn Micaiah Authority associations screen command level
Micaiah is her own Commander, but she has no Authority, so no one in the Daein Army, including her, get boosts.
Note the incorrect Help tip about bond supports.

And by the way, this article is going to have end-game spoilers for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, so if that bothers you, you should turn away now. (And if it doesn't bother you because you don't think you'll ever play it... well, perhaps one day it'll be ported/remastered/remade, and be more accessible and cheaper, and then you'll want to play it, because Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is fantastic.)

Nailah associations status screen Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn Wolf Queen
Even though Nailah has three Authority Stars, because she is in the Daein Army under Micaiah, only Micaiah's Authority Stars provide for a boost.
...And she has zero.

Micaiah starts off as a simple girl living in Daein, to a member of the Dawn Brigade group of righteous bandits during Begnion's occupation, to the formal vice-general of the Daein Liberation Army that all of Daein looked up to... to the Supreme Commander of the Daein Army once Daein became “independent” that she kept together through clever tactics and sheer force of will. (...Blackmailed into doing the bidding of the Begnion senate.) Her soldiers revered her as a sort of goddess figure, the Maiden of Dawn. And yet... she never gets any Authority recognition despite her promotions in both the military and in the worship of her by her own troops—and that's really what Authority is supposed to measure, the capability of an army's leader. Micaiah proves herself over and over again in the story but gets nothing gameplay-wise besides a promotion to the Light Sage class, which really has not much to do with her actual job title or how her troops feel about her leading them.

Authority is supposed to be a way to integrate story and gameplay together, but for Micaiah specifically, it's a missed opportunity. I think she should've gotten an Authority Star starting in chapter 1-6 (Raise the Standard) when she became the leader of the Daein Liberation Army—though that could be delayed to after 1-8 (Glory Unwanted) as a result of the “Micaiah waves to the Daein soldiers from the cliff and she's applauded” cutscene after performing a miracle rescue. And then she should've gotten another one after Part 1 ended in time for her next appearance in 3-6 (A Reason to Fight). And if we're really greedy, she should've gotten a third Authority Star in 4-P (Chaos Named) upon Yune taking over her body and calling all of the shots for the army. Micaiah would only get to use those Authority Stars in 4-P and 4-3, because starting in the 4-E endgame, Ike is the commander and hijacks the game from her.

To make my point about gameplay-story integration, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has many characters that have Authority Stars that never get to use them. Here's a list:
Five Authority Stars
Caineghis, king of Gallia. Player character only; he never gets to be a commander, only serving under Ike's command.
Dheginsea, king of Goldoa. Enemy commander of 4-F-3. He has earned the respect of his people (and the continent) over many centuries by not moving.
Ashera, goddess of the world. Enemy commander of 4-F-5 (final boss).
Four Authority Stars
Renning, uncle of Princess Elincia of Crimea and former commander of its military. Player character only; he never gets to be a commander.
Sanaki, empress of Begnion. Player character only; she never gets to be a commander and only operates under Micaiah (and gets very jealous of her despite her having no Authority Stars of her own) and then Ike.
Tibarn, king of Phoenicis. Tibarn's Authority comes into play as a commander of the partner Phoenician Army in 3-11 (Just Cause), the commander of the other Phoenician Army in 3-F (From Pain, Awakening), and as the player's lord of the Hawk Army in 4-2 (Silent World) and 4-5 (Unforgivable Sin).
Three Authority Stars
Jarod, general of the Begnion Occupation Army. He's the commander in 1-9 (One Survives) and 1-F (Daein, Arise!). Despite him being a terror to work under, his troops love serving under him (when he's not killing them for being incompetent).
Nailah, queen of Hatari. She never gets to be a commander as a playable character. She does appear as an enemy unit in 3-E (From Pain, Awakening) under Micaiah's command.
Elincia, queen of Crimea. She is the player's commander in both 2-P (Under Gray Skies) and 2-E (Elincia's Gambit), and also the Crimean Army's commander as an other unit in 3-10 (The Heart of Crimea).
Geoffrey, general of the Crimean Royal Knights. He is the commander in 2-3 (Geoffrey's Charge) and 3-9 (Marauders).
Ike, leader of the Greil Mercenaries, then the Laguz Liberation Army, and then the Apostle's Army. He is the commander in most of the Part 3 chapters, as well as 4-1 (Road to the Empire), 4-4 (Revelations), and all of 4-E. He also appears as the boss commander in 3-13 (Blood Contract).
Naesala, king of Kilvas. Player character only; he never gets to be a commander.
Two Authority Stars
Lucia, commander of the Crimean Royal Guards. She gets to be the commander in 2-2 (Tides of Intrigue).
Zeffren, a captain of Begnion's dracoknights. He's the boss of 2-P (Under Gray Skies), but it's unclear what's so authoritative about him since he's stuck on patrol duty.
Ludveck, duke of the Crimean territory of Felirae. He's the boss of 2-E (Elincia's Gambit) and he's trying to become the new king of Crimea by rebelling. He's apparently authoritative enough to cause several chapters of rebellion.
Skrimir, the hot-headed nephew of King Caineghis of Gallia and the general in charge of Gallia's forces in the Laguz Alliance. He is in charge of the Gallian Army as other units in 3-P (The Great Advance) and 3-E (From Pain, Awakening). June 1, 2022 update: I uploaded a video on my YouTube channel featuring Skrimir's Other units beating 3-P all by themselves.
Goran, a Daein general and boss of 3-11 (Just Cause). It's not clear what's so authoritative about him, since all he does is worship Micaiah and have stupid eyebrows. It makes no sense how he has two Authority Stars, yet Micaiah has zero.
Kurthnaga, the prince of Goldoa. He never gets to become a commander, and appears as an enemy in 3-E (From Pain, Awakening) under Micaiah's command. When he becomes king of Goldoa after the ends of 4-F-3, his gameplay-story integration is not by gaining more Authority but by gaining the Formshift skill that only Laguz Royals get. Interestingly, in his appearance in 1-3 (A Faint Light) as a partner yellow unit, he has no Authority. He also is in disguise and the status screen says he's a Beorc.
Levail, general of Senator Lekain's army. He never gets to be a commander, even though he's the one actually giving orders to the Disciples of Order in the chapter he appears in, 4-F-2. (The Black Knight is the commander of the map, though he has no Authority... which is even more strange than Micaiah not having any.)
One Authority Star
Pain, the co-leader of enemy Laguz bandits in 1-4 (A Distant Voice). He is the first character with Authority the player encounters in the game, alongside Agony.
Agony, the other co-leader of enemy Laguz Bandits in 1-4 (A Distant Voice). Interestingly, he commands one more Bandit than Pain does. They must be pretty close with their brethren.
Yeardley, the aforementioned goon of Ludveck's in 2-1 (Winds of Rebellion).
Istvan, an enemy commander of Begnion's Duke Seliora from 3-2 (Stormclouds). Soren outright calls him a terrible commander very shortly after killing him, so it's curious why he has any Authority Stars to begin with.
Sergei, an enemy commander of Duke Culbert's (Senator Valtome's) Begnion army in 3-10 (The Heart of Crimea).
Catalena, an enemy commander of the Disciples of Order in 4-1 (Road to the Empire).
Izuka, a Daein scientist who was formerly the tactician of the Daein Liberation Army and advisor to Pelleas, now working with the Begnion senate who is the commander of the Feral Ones of 4-5 (Unforgivable Sin).
Pelleas, King of Daein. He appears as an enemy unit under Micaiah's command in 3-E (From Pain, Awakening) if you play the game a second time and spare him. When he becomes playable, he's never in command. He specifically lacks charisma, so his Authority Star is kind of a pity star and it's why he is the only leader of a nation with just one Authority.

Interestingly, none of the Begnion senators, including Sephiran, have any Authority.

If Micaiah did get Authority in a remake, it would make her chapters easier (which isn't a bad thing—her chapters are significantly more difficult than anyone else's) and make the two chapters where she is the enemy commander (3-7 and 3-E) marginally more difficult... although only temporarily in the case of 3-E since she quits. (If it worked like in Thracia 776, then Micaiah's team would have the Authority of her, Nailah, Kurthnaga, and Pelleas all at once, which would theoretically be a +40 hit/avoid boost for the Daein Army!) The quality in enemy units decreasing after she leaves would strengthen the gameplay-story integration, though the Daein Army regulars never remark on their commander ditching them mid-battle. But I think they should, since they're only there because she told them to be there and you'd think they'd lose motivation as a result. And really, if you see Authority as a motivating factor, then Micaiah's should definitely earn her Stars because the Daein troops are even more motivated under her than they were under Mad King Ashnard—which Ike's troops remark on, having fought the Daein Army in that time, too.

What do you think? Should Micaiah have more than zero Authority in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn? Should other characters get some too, such as the Black Knight/Zelgius? Do you think it should be a strategic mechanic like it was in Thracia 776? Let KoopaTV know in the comments! Also, let Ludwig know if you enjoy this sort of in-depth gameplay analysis content... which only seems to happen for Fire Emblem for whatever reason.

Ludwig wrote about the evolution of the common Fire Emblem Soldier class here.


  1. I very briefly owned this game, I didn't get nearly far enough into it to even learn about this mechanic. The game just went on and on about how you're basically on the losing side of a war and you're like literally 5 guys against an entire army, went "damn, this plot is just too depressing, screw this game" and got rid of it.

    Heedless, indeed, of the still to increase further value of it. The value of a game that matters, just like trading cards, is the fun had with it--that's what matters.

    1. So... you stopped basically at Chapter 2.

      I have no idea wot the last bit is supposed to mean or if it's a quote or something 'cause it ain't makin' sense.

  2. Having played the tellius games more times than i can remember, I hadn't ever heard of this mechanic. Micaiah certainly should have gotten some authority throughout the story (and they should have translated it correctly to actually tell us what the stat did)
    super interesting just how many mechanics they have that you can never run into in a bunch of play throughs.

    1. You ran into it in every playthrough, you just didn't realise it!

      Did you know that along with Hard mode disabling the weapon triangle and checking ranges, it also disabled map affinities? And each map has an elemental affinity giving +5 hit and +5 avoid to all units with it, and unlike other games with affinity, every enemy unit has an affinity and can benefit from it?

  3. This is such a cool idea! I've played this game over and over but I never realized the authority stars actually did anything lol. It's crazy that Micaiah never gets any, I never noticed that before either.

    1. Thanks!
      It's a reason why the Greil Mercenaries feel so strong to use; not only are they all promoted with good base stats, but they also have an inherent avoid/hit advantage compared to their opponents due to Ike's three stars of authority.


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