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Support is a game mechanic introduced in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem that deals with relationships between characters. In The Binding Blade, Blazing Sword, The Sacred Stones and Path of Radiance, and Awakening, each character has a predetermined set of other characters that he or she can support. In Radiant Dawn, supports became open so that any character can support with any other character. In Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem, characters again only support certain other characters.
When characters with are within three spaces from another character (usually one with whom they have a pre-existing relationship), they gain bonuses in hit, avoid, critical rate, and, in Thracia 776, dodge.
When two characters form a support relationship, they receive stat bonuses based on the combination of their affinities, if the two characters are within three tiles of each other. There are three levels of supports, C, B, and A, and each level contributes higher bonuses to both character's stats. In the GBA games and Path of Radiance, each character can support up to five times, so they may have anywhere from five C level supports to one A support and one B support. In Radiant Dawn, a character can only have up to an A support with any one character, but they may abandon this support in favor of another at any time. Once a support has been abandoned, though, those two characters can no longer support with each other.
Awakening introduces an S support level, which can only be achieved by characters of opposite genders who are not siblings or parents and children, and only once per save file by each character. When two characters reach S support with each other, they will be married to each other, and, if the couple contains at least one of Chrom, Robin, Lissa, Sully, Miriel, Sumia, Maribelle, Panne, Cordelia, Nowi, Tharja, Olivia, or Cherche, the marriage will produce a child, or children, who may be recruited in paralogue chapters. Opposite-gendered children may also S-support with each other or Robin, but only marrying Robin will produce a "third-generation" child. Sibling and parent-and-child relationships can reach a maximum level of A-support, but supporting characters can have any number of A-rank supports.
Unlike in previous games, the stat boosts are fixed for each level of support: C support awards +10 to Hit and Avoid, B support adds +10 to Hit, Avoid and Dodge, A support adds +10 to Hit, Avoid, Critical rate and Dodge, and S support adds +15 to Hit, and +10 to Avoid, Critical, and Dodge. These can be boosted further if one of the characters has the Dual Support+ skill. These stat boosts will only take effect if the supporting characters are paired up or standing beside each other. In addition to fighting together, the support level of two characters can be upgraded during random events in the Barracks.
Fates support system is similar to Awakening's, with the revamped Pair Up system still being influenced by support level. In addition to the S support level (marriage) achievable toward any character of the opposite gender (except for siblings), an A+ support level (friendship) has been added and is achievable between any two characters of the same gender (with the exception of Corrin, who doesn't have any A+ support). The Partner Seal and Friendship Seal reclassing items let a character adopt the class of their A+ or S support, respectively. The Supportive skill exclusive to Corrin takes support level into account. The Records Hall in My Castle let the player read all unlocked support dialogues in the “Support Log” section. My Castle also provides three different ways to increase support level, either during random events between two characters, by equipping a character with an accessory when he or she requests it (after purchasing the Accessory Shop) or by selecting “Invite Ally” in the Private Quarters (triggering a minigame in Japanese versions only).
In general, every time a support level is increased, the two characters carry on a conversation in which they learn more about each other. In The Binding Blade, Blazing Sword, The Sacred Stones, Path of Radiance, Awakening, and Fates. the conversations are specific to the character combination of the support. In Radiant Dawn, because of the open nature of supports, conversations are much more generic and short-lived.
In the GBA and DS games, characters gain support points by standing next to each other in battle. In Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, characters gain support points by being deployed in the same chapter. In Awakening, characters receive support points by fighting together while paired up or standing beside each other, using a Seed of Trust while paired up, or triggering random events together on event tiles or in the Barracks.