Capture (捕捉) is a recurring gameplay feature that appears in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, to an extent in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn and in Fire Emblem Fates. Under certain conditions, characters can capture those from the opposing side, equivalent to rescuing allies.
Characters can only capture enemies that have a smaller Build compared to them, though mounted units are exempt from this rule except while dismounted. When a battle is initiated with the intention of capture, the character's Strength, Magic, Skill, Speed and Defense are all halved, so it is advised to weaken the enemy prior to a capture attempt, unless the character is powerful enough to inflict sufficient damage regardless of stat reductions.
Once an enemy is successfully captured, the character can trade with their hostage to take anything in their inventory. They may also release the hostage, although this counts as killing them gameplay-wise (whereas just holding onto them until the chapter's end counts as if they have never been fought). Ostensibly, releasing a captured unit counts as letting them escape the battlefield with their lives intact, in relation to the story.
Capture is an extremely important element in Thracia 776, especially since the game begins with no gold and selling stolen weapons is almost required to earn funds, unless the player exploits the arenas available.
Mounted or airborne units cannot be captured normally, unless they have been put to Sleep, in which case they are treated as though they have dismounted. Characters with a Build of twenty cannot be captured, though. Interestingly, unique enemies and bosses usually say different lines if they are captured and released, instead of merely defeated in combat.
Enemies may also attempt to capture the player's units, so keeping non-combative units, such as Priests, away from the front line is strongly recommended at all times. Any unit that is unarmed will always be captured in an attempt, as they have no means to defend themselves. It should be noted that if a unit is captured, the enemy is severely weakened, making them very easy to defeat and get your unit back; therefore, sometimes putting an unarmed unit in the front lines can be useful for defeating more difficult enemies.
In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, a very similar mechanic exists, though it only appears in the Prologue of Part II; in this chapter, the opposing Begnion Dracoknights will capture and carry off Princess Leanne if she is within their range.
In Fire Emblem Fates, the ability to capture enemy units is limited to two units, the Nohrian Outlaw Niles and the Hoshidan Diviner Orochi. Both of their Personal Skills allow them to capture enemy units by giving the special Capture Command. When prompted, Orochi and Niles will attack the enemy with reduced damage and cannot activate skills. If they defeat the enemy, they will immediately be placed in the player's Prison in their My Castle, but only if it has been built and there are open slots. Most generic enemy soldiers are capturable, however there are a few exceptions:
- Most DLC enemies (e.g Visitors and Staff in Museum Melee, Witches, Ballisticians, Illusions).
- All playable characters of the opposite route (Hoshido characters in Conquest and Nohrian characters in Birthright)
- Vallite soldiers (invisible units)
Imprisoned units are kept in their cells for an indefinite period of time, either until the player convinces them to join the army or they are released. A maximum of 20 captured units are allowed to be used in the army. However, these 20 slots applies to all Unit Logbook units. If the extra 20 slots are filled, one must be released in order to recruit a new unit. Players can either recruit enemy units by having the unit currently working in the prison interrogate them into joining. The process is slow and takes considerably longer for Boss Units. Players can also bribe the prisoners by using resources, which speeds up the convincing process. Once recruited, that unit is permanently added to the logbook.
Most captured units are very low grade units, having low growths and often bad starting stats. They also are limited to their starting class set, having no secondary class, and cannot form supports with any allied units. They can use DLC specific class Seals and Skill Scrolls. On higher difficulties, captured units may have unique enemy skills, such as Inevitable End, when fought and captured. However, upon recruitment, the enemy will lose any of the enemy-exclusive skills on them.
However, in Conquest in particular, several enemies have unique skills. For example, a Master Ninja in Chapter 17 has Grisly Wound, a skill that is exclusive to the Nine-Tails and Wolfssegner classes, despite not being of either race. Another is a Master of Arms in Chapter 23 that has four Rally Skills, which is normally not obtainable in his class set. For their uniqueness, they can be considered good additions for the player's army, especially if their army has lost units, but are not necessary to complete the route.
Capturable Boss Units
In Fates, the bosses below can be captured by the player rather than killing them. They can be found in their respective chapters (Daniela, Haitaka and Kumagera being path-locked to Birthright and Conquest respectively). All bosses excluding the three mentioned characters can also be found in the DLC Museum Melee.