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Tactician (Fire Emblem GBA)
Fire Emblem features a customizable tactician (Japanese: 軍師 tactician) that acts as the player's persona within the game. The player can change the tactician's gender, name, and birth month to suit their tastes; the default settings have the tactician as a man named Mark (Japanese: マーク Mark), who was born in January. Acting as the first player-customizable character in the series, the concept of the tactician later evolved into the Avatar system used in every game since Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, Heroes of Light and Shadow.
The tactician's purpose in-game is to act as a way for the player to link with the playable characters; many characters in-game will speak with the tactician prior to at least one battle, and the lords in particular speak with the tactician quite often, primarily to ask for their advice. Despite this, the tactician has no direct effect on gameplay; while the tactician does have an overworld sprite, it is not seen in actual battles, and the tactician also cannot be placed on the map, preventing it from getting into battles. Of note is that this sprite features thick yellow and green garments, and the tactician's sprite also does not change between genders.
While the tactician can be barely seen in two CG images in Lyn's story, these shots make careful note to not show their face; in the first, only the back of the tactician's head is visible, while in the second, the tactician's face is obscured with a hood.
As the player is supposed to be the tactician, intentionally little information is given about the tactician; both Eliwood and Hector note that they know very little about the tactician despite having spent many days traveling with them, though the supposed resulting conversation is not actually seen by the player. Regardless, it can be assumed that the tactician is a well-worn wanderer; the game starts because Lyn finds the tactician unconscious in the plains of Sacae, and notes that their name sounds foreign. In addition, one year later, the tactician is found in Pherae, where they volunteer to assist Eliwood on his journey.
In the end of the game, the tactician chooses to continue their travels of Elibe; just before leaving, however, Eliwood or Hector will designate the tactician as the godparent of either Roy or Lilina. Additionally, depending on the player's ranking, different endings involving the tactician are featured in the Epilogue.
Mark, the Tactician
Mark leaves Lyn to continue his training. He plans on traveling throughout Lycia. Lyn refuses to say good-bye, believing in her heart that she will see him again.
Eliwood's and Hector's Stories
Mark - Superb Mind
A tactician whose brilliance changed the course of history. Bern and Etruria so desired this skilled mind that they went to war.
Mark - Famed Genius
The tactician vanished after the battle. Bern, Lycia, and Etruria all sought those famed skills, but none ever found the tactician.
Mark - Suspect Mind
To this day, historians look back and question how these incomprehensible strategies ever led to victory.
The tactician is assigned an affinity based on the month of birth they are assigned when created. This influences the tactician's bonus, where units who share the same affinity as the tactician gain small statistical boosts to their hit rate and avoid, which grow stronger as the tactician's ranking increases throughout the game; additionally, every unit also receives a boost to critical evade regardless of affinity. For every star displayed in the tactician's Rank menu in battle preparations, units receive +1 to each calculation they qualify, for a maximum +10 boost per calculation.
The Japanese versions of the game also feature the ability to choose the tactician's blood type, which further altered their affinity. As blood types hold a considerably lesser significance in Western culture, this option was removed.
Affinities are assigned to the tactician based on birth month as follows:
International versions Japanese version
Originally, the significance of the tactician's affinity was poorly documented and heavily debated. For a time it was popularly believed that the tactician's affinity increases growth rates by 5% for any character that shares their affinity; this was proven false by setting growths of some characters to 95, then demonstrating that even with this supposed addition, some stats would fail to increase with the onset of a level-up. It it now known that the affinity causes the tactician's bonus as documented above.
In the Japanese version, the five "emblem items" - Emblem Blade, Emblem Lance, Emblem Axe, Emblem Bow and Emblem Seal - are instead named directly after the save file's tactician (e.g. Mark's Sword, Mark's Lance, etc). The four weapons are described as "a tactician's [weapon]" in their description in all regions, and the Emblem Seal's description also cites it as belonging to the tactician. This effect is purely cosmetic and otherwise has no impact on gameplay.
Playing without a tactician
If the player elects to start the game without a tactician by directly starting with either Eliwood's or Hector's stories, the character simply does not appear, and in many scenes, the role of the army's tactician instead falls to either Marcus or Oswin, as well as sometimes other characters. The usefulness of this, however, is questionable; in addition to not receiving Afa's Drops from Athos, the player also loses access to the tactician's bonus.
Additionally, in the Japanese version, the five "emblem items" will fill the tactician's empty name space in both the weapon names and their descriptions with ♡♡.
While the tactician does not appear in Awakening, he or she is referenced in a conversation between Lyn and the Avatar upon completing the downloadable chapter Smash Brethren 3. In this conversation, Lyn is convinced that the person in front of her is the same tactician from her adventures; when she learns the character has amnesia, she asks if they have any memories of their previous adventures. If the player says no, Lyn will be disappointed, but stays with the Avatar to see if they will remember their time together. If the player says yes, then Lyn will be happy that she has been reunited with her master strategist.
- According to developer commentary in the Official Staff Book the tactician as well as the Avatar character as a concept was inspired by the introduction of "CO", or "Commanding Officer", characters in the Intelligent Systems game, Advance Wars for GBA.
- "Another staff member explains the origins of the Avatar character. I'm not familiar with the Wars series, but from what I can tell, the first Wars games didn't have COs (commanding officers) and they were only introduced later. After Wars added COs, the FE team decided to add FE7's Mark as a sort of "CO character". This, of course, evolved further into FE12/13/14's Avatar." — VincentASM, Want me to buy/ship you the FE merchandise from Comiket? Inquire within!, Serenesforest.net (webpage), Published: April 20th, 2015, Retrieved: April 27th, 2015