Dark Magic (闇魔法 Yami Mahō lit. Darkness Magic) is one of the three types of Magic, along with Light magic and Anima magic, in the Fire Emblem series. Powerful yet inaccurate, it is also one of the rarest classes of magic in the series. It can be seen as the magical equivalent to the Axe.
Dark Magic is dubious in nature, but not necessarily evil. Some practitioners prefer calling it “Elder Magic” as they tend to remind people that it is the wielder of said magic that is evil, rather than the craft itself.
In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Knoll points out that dark magic's power comes from knowledge, not the desire to harm others. On the other hand, in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, it is stated by Canas that Dark Magic comes from darkness and that one must invite the darkness into oneself to use it; he also states that one must not allow the darkness full control.
Dark Magic is extremely hard to master and potent spells or legendary tomes carry steep penalties for their usage, warping the individual in various degrees. The hero Bramimond, allowed darkness full control over themself to obtain the power of The Revealing Darkness, Apocalypse, which erased their personality, instead mirroring others speaking to them. Canas also has three brothers who met a similar fate. While Dark Magic as a whole is not evil, some specific tomes do have negative effects; for instance, in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, the dark magic tome of Loptous is pure evil, as it transfers the will of its namesake to overcome and control its wielder. Nyx stated that her youthful appearance was due to a powerful curse she used that has permanently made her unable to age physically.
Minor and moderate hexes, curses, and talisman craft also apply to Dark Magic. There are a wide range of effects from painful torture to giving a runny nose. Dubious nature aside, Dark Magic also can be used beneficially on others. Tharja and Odin have shown that Dark Magic can be used to cool fevers, repel insects, give vivid, pleasant dreams, and suppress embarrassment. Dark Mages are also skilled in countering other Dark Magic inflicted on themselves. However, some magic may be too powerful for them to be able to remove it from themselves. Henry has shown to be more skilled in countercursing than Tharja and can even return the curse to its original sender.
As shown in Henry’s Support with Sully, a high willpower in the target demands higher spell power, and if the target’s willpower is higher than that of the spellcaster, there might be no effect at all. Henry has to put a death curse on Sully in order to get any effect at all. Sully points out that Henry’s willpower is incredibly high, since he never shows any anger or frustration and has an unusually upbeat attitude; this is why he eventually managed to trump her willpower.
Regarding curses, Tharja asserts that the victim of a curse enters a trance state with no memory or awareness of their actions. On the other hand, a hex creates an intimate bond between the mage and victim—"a resonance of souls".
Miriel has stated that hex casting is "the art of unleashing magic through a series of movements", and that it isn't the tomes or staves that grant efficacy, but the ritual itself. However, this is of course not the only requirement for a successful spell; when Noire tries to learn dark magic by copying Tharja's actions, she only manages to "mimic the form, not the substance".
In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Canas is the only dedicated Dark Magic user, and appears in a side-chapter, Athos is also able to use Dark Magic, as well as every other kind. Another example is in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Both playable Dark Magic users, Pelleas and Lehran, can only be unlocked after the game has been completed once, even then, Lehran has additional conditions that must be met before he is recruited (and even then he is only available for the last chapter and must be given a Dark Tome).
There are also fewer Dark Magic Tomes compared to Light and Anima Magic, though most Dark Magic Tomes have very unique and tactical uses. Flux, for instance, is the basic Dark Tome, while Luna deals direct damage regardless of the defender's Resistance, as well as having a high critical rate. Nosferatu leeches enemy Hit Points. The tome Eclipse, depending on the game's variation, can either cut enemy Hit Points in half, or reduce enemy Hit Points to 1; in both cases, the spell negates the defender's Resistance.
Dark Magic is generally the most powerful magic available. Dark Magic typically deals the most damage, but is the least accurate. In addition, Dark Magic tomes are often the heaviest to wield, making it extremely difficult for Dark Magic users, especially those with a low Constitution, to execute consecutive hits against enemies. However, these are usually not insurmountable weaknesses, as Dark Magic users generally have high enough accuracy to hit consistently.
In most Fire Emblem games, the classes that use Dark Magic are specialized. Shaman and Druids, their promotion are the only classes to use it in the GBA games. In other games, those roles are often replaced by the Dark Mage and Sorcerer classes. A few other classes can use Dark magic, most of these are character specific. The Necromancer class is unique to Lyon, and the Dark Druid and Archsage classes from The Blazing Blade are unique to the characters Nergal and Athos, respectively. In The Sacred Stones, a new Dark Magic Class was introduced, Summoner. Summoners could use Dark Magic, Staves, and have the ability to summon Phantoms. The class is unique to The Sacred Stones, although one non-playable Summoner, Izuka, appears in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn as a third-tier unit, who instead summons Feral Ones. In Three Houses, magic is almost never restricted to classes, and the ones that are are due to the Class Abilities. In the case of Dark Magic, the Dark Mage and Dark Bishop have the Class Ability Miasma Δ, which gives male units access to Miasma, but only after spending a Dark Seal to access these classes.
The Sacred Stones
Path of Radiance & Radiant Dawn
Dark Magic is notably absent from Path of Radiance. This is mostly attributed to the reintroduction of the 'Anima' Magic Triangle with Wind, Fire, and Thunder magic, last appearing in Genealogy of the Holy War. With all the new spells created, Dark Magic was omitted, as to not overwhelm the player. Meanwhile, Light Magic took up a position outside of the Anima triangle, much like Bows for the weapon triangle.
Dark Magic was reintroduced in Radiant Dawn. It is particularly useful, as the 'original' Magic Triangle was reintroduced alongside the Anima Magic Triangle, meaning Dark magic trumps all Anima Magic, but is weak against Light Magic.
There are only 9 Dark magic users in Radiant Dawn, including enemies and allies. It is seemingly implied that Dark Magic users are likely to be Spirit Charmers, as Dark Magic is "too difficult for most mages", which explains their rareness.
Dark Magic is a rare form of magic, as the only practitioners of such magic are affiliated with Those Who Slither in the Dark. Much like Black Magic, Dark Magic growth is governed by the Reason skill stat; by improving it, it expands a unit's spell list. Only 5 playable characters (Edelgard, Hubert, Lysithea, Hapi, & Jeritza) can naturally use Dark Magic, whereas anyone else will have to Class Change into the male-locked Dark Mage and Dark Bishop classes to utilize Miasma Δ. As such, they are the only playable characters to gain Dark Magic-related Abilities as they level up their Reason skill stat.
List of Dark Magic Tomes
Normal Dark Tomes
Notable Dark Tomes
- Aversa's Night
- Odin's Grimoire
- Iago's Tome
- Dark Spikes T
- Hades Ω
- Tharja's Hex
- Blood Tome
- Dark Scripture
- Corvus Tome
- Eternal Tome
- Void Tome
- Hermit's Tome
- Tome of Despair
- Tome of Grado
- *In some games this was switched to being a Light magic Tome, as it was originally in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
Legendary Dark Tomes
- Evil Eye
- Demon Surge
- Crimson Eye
- Grima's Truth
- Bohr Χ
- Quake Σ