|“||Sometimes victory on a battlefield requires that someone you care about make a sacrifice. But parting with one comrade may be the only way to meet another. You need to accept your losses in life and move forward.||”|
— A villager in the Prologue of Shadow Dragon
The decoy is a gameplay feature unique to the Prologue of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. Upon finding his small fighting force pursued by a legion of powerful knights, Malledus tells Marth that one member of his force should be placed near a fortress on the map as to distract the knights.
If Marth chooses to spare Gordin's life and allow him to fight alongside other members of the Altean knights, a force set up by Gra's Sable Order of Knights appears behind Marth's army; killing the young archer, however, does not trigger the appearance of the knights, thus allowing Marth to continue forward unfettered.
Assuming the knights appear, Marth and his army stand no chance of defeating or even surviving against the legion of knights. As such, Marth is forced to dress up one member of his army to look like him, and distract the forces so that the prince may live, at the cost of their own life. Upon being sent to the fortress, that character then leaves Marth's forces, and is never seen again in-game, and even the Aum staff cannot revive the victim (because the decoy actually survives, as revealed in New Mystery of the Emblem).
As the prologue only appears in the normal difficulty of the game, the decoy is not present in the hard difficulties, though this also prevents recruiting either Norne or Frey.
Perspective on plot
While not directly confirmed until Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, Frey is strongly suggested to be the canonical decoy; in addition to never appearing in either Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light or its first remake, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, Frey also does not appear if the Prologue is skipped. Frey also holds the closest physical resemblance to Marth, due to his blue hair. The next game does in fact prove that Frey was the unit who became the decoy, and while the experience almost killed him, he is able to reunite with Marth at the conclusion of the War of Darkness.
Perspective on gameplay
At this point in the game, the player has five potential candidates to be the decoy: Frey, Jagen, Cain, Abel, and Gordin. While Frey is intended to be the canonical decoy, he is also one of the best potential paladins that the player can have in their army especially when reclassed, thus making such a choice less than ideal; similar arguments can be presented for both Cain and Abel, though if the player prefers one cavalier over the other, the other can potentially become the decoy. Owing to poor growths and poor base stats, Jagen is one of the obvious choices for the decoy, though it is possible for him to act as a potential meat shield or for weakening powerful enemies. A similar argument can be presented for Gordin; owing to a lack of a single very high growth rate and iffy base stats, as well as the potential for the player to recruit Norne and Castor, Gordin also is a likely candidate for the decoy, assuming the player wants an archer that will excel in at least one stat.
- It is possible to bypass the decoy even if Gordin is recruited; the method, however, involves having all five members of Marth's army getting killed so that Marth can continue through the locked gate.
Etymology and other languages
|Names, etymology and in other regions|
|Language||Name||Definition, etymology and notes|