It’s hard to decide which optional Paralogue battles to play and which to ignore in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I could look up which battles would give me the best weapons, but what I really want to know is which have the best storylines. The game doesn’t have a way to tell me that; I have to just try the battles and find out. I just so happened to select one battle, Rumoured Nuptials, that had a surprisingly touching story. It’s all about Dorothea and Ingrid, two characters I had little previous emotional attachment towards but am now rooting for with all my heart.
Three Houses is divided into a calendar system that allows the protagonist to use one “free day” per week fighting an optional battle, taking a specialised seminar to level up certain skills, or wandering around and having conversations with all of the characters in the game. My favourite thing to do is that last option, but I still have to pick some battles sometimes, or else my students won’t get stronger. Also, some of these optional battles, which are called Paralogues, provide cool story beats that I otherwise would’ve missed.
I chose the Golden Deer house at the start of the game, which means my Paralogue battles feature characters who belong to that house. I also managed to recruit some characters from the other two houses, Black Eagles and Blue Lions, in the limited number of in-game weeks before Three Houses reaches its second big chapter, after which point everything in the game’s world changes.
The spoilers that happen in the run-up to this second chapter aren’t necessary to get into. All players need to know is that, after that point, they can no longer recruit characters to their army, and they can no longer play any of the optional Paralogue battles. Each Paralogue battle has a date in its description field that specifies when it will expire. Other than providing these mysterious expiration dates, Three Houses doesn’t warn you that you might miss out on certain things if you don’t do them in time.
As soon as the game introduced me to the concept of Paralogue battles, I got worried. How would I know which battles to choose? Would I have time to do them all? I was also dealing with my need to take specific seminars so that I could accrue points to recruit more characters to Golden Deer. But the more characters I recruited, the longer my list of Paralogue battles became, because almost all of the characters have their own themed Paralogue battle. And the weeks kept ticking down.
I managed to recruit both Dorothea and Ingrid, from Black Eagles and Blue Lions respectively, with just a few weeks remaining. I saw a Paralogue battle involving both of them pop up, and on a whim, I chose it. I’m so glad I did, because it ended up being my favourite Paralogue battle.
Before the battle starts, the characters involved always give Professor Byleth an explanation for why they need help to embark on whatever fight needs fighting. Ingrid starts this Paralogue by revealing that she is “worried” about a marriage proposal she has just received from a former merchant who has earned favour with nobles through some social machinations. Dorothea then reveals that this same man also tried to court her when she was working as a singer; she warns Ingrid: “Stay far, far away from this guy.” Ingrid admits that her family needs the money from the dowry the man is offering, and Dorothea gets increasingly insistent that the man’s money “is soaked in blood” and should be refused. When Ingrid still hesitates, Dorothea admits that most of what she’s heard is “rumours,” and that they should check the guy out. Then, the Paralogue battle starts, with a smash cut to all of our heroes suddenly in a volcano, which is where this guy apparently lives, because he’s a total super-villain.
I won’t spoil the end of this battle, because it’s adorable and I’m glad I got to experience it without knowing what would happen. But it also has me wondering which Paralogue battles have the best stories. I’m probably going to play Fire Emblem a second time just so I can recruit different students, anyway. So, tell me in the comments about your favourite Paralogues. I don’t want to miss out.