Skills are special abilities that units can possess, each having widely varying effects. The skill system was introduced in Genealogy of the Holy War and has been present in every game of the series since then.
Genealogy of the Holy War
In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, skills are divided into Soldier skills, which all units in a particular Class possess, and Citizen skills, which are inherent to the character and do not depend on their class. Skills cannot be removed or assigned, but Citizen skills are inherited by any children a character has. Skills can also be gained from equipping Rings or certain weapons. For example, the Killer Bow gives the user the Critical skill.
In Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, skills work much the same way as in Genealogy of the Holy War. There still exist skills that are inherent to a class and skills that are inherent to a character, but since there is no second generation, functionally these skills are treated the same. Skills can now be learned from Manuals or gained from equippable weapons, but Rings no longer give skills. Notably, Pursuit is no longer a skill and all characters can Double Attack.
The Sacred Stones
In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, skills particular to characters do not exist as in the prior games, only certain classes have associated skills.
Path of Radiance
In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, skills were reintroduced in a more similar way to as in the SNES games. Skills could be learned from scrolls. However, Skill Capacity was introduced as a limit on the number of skills that any one unit could learn. Mastery Skills were also introduced. These were class-specific skills that were only learnable through rare Occult Scrolls. Skills could also be removed to free up capacity for new skills, or simply because certain skills had negative effects as well as positive (such as Parity or Tempest).
In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the skills system was much the same as Path of Radiance, with limited capacity and scrolls. However, skills could also be removed and reassigned to other units. Skills that a unit joined with did not take up capacity and were dubbed 'innate' skills. However, certain skills could not be removed. Shove and Canto became skills that took up 5 and 10 space, respectively. Mastery Skills from Path of Radiance reappeared. They could not be removed and took up a large amount of space, and were learned automatically on a Beorc unit reaching 3rd tier (Laguz could use a Satori Sign at level 30). In addition, skills could not be removed or reassigned during Part 2.
- See also: List of Skills in Fire Emblem Awakening
In Fire Emblem Awakening, skills are obtained when a unit reaches a certain level in their current class, depending on the tier their class is. There are also 4 skills that can be obtained via DLC chapters, and certain characters, such as Walhart and Aversa, have unique skills. Because of the Reclassing system, a unit can gather a wide pool of skills from their reclassing options. To balance this, no unit can have more than 5 skills equipped at any one time. However, players can freely choose what those 5 skills are from all the skills a character has ever learned.
Children characters will inherit a skill from each of their parents. They will inherit the last skill from each parent's skill list of currently equipped skills, even if it's from a class that they cannot reclass into because of their gender. As such Gerome can inherit Dual Support+ from Cherche or Nah can inherit Counter from her father if they have it equipped in their last open skill slot. However, skills from Downloadable Content cannot be inherited.
There are also 8 enemy exclusive skills. Only Dragonskin will appear on all difficulties while Hit Rate +10 and Rightful God will appear on Lunatic and higher. All 5 other skills will begin to appear on Lunatic+. All enemy skills will appear on all difficulties of Apotheosis.
In Fire Emblem Fates, skills are learned when a unit reaches a certain level in their current class, depending on what tier their class is. If a unit is Level 15 or higher in a promoted class and they reclass into another one, they will learn the class skill of its first tier class if it has not been learned before the promoted skill. Every time the unit levels up, they will learn a skill of a new class once they have reached level 15 or higher in an advanced class, and 35 for special classes.
Every playable, non-captured unit in the game has a personal skill that is unique to them and cannot be removed. However, they will have five slots to equip whatever skills they learn from their classes, totaling 6 equippable skills.
Shadows of Valentia
In Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Skills are associated with individual weapons rather than character classes. A majority of Weapons and Equipment in Echoes come with innate skills that the characters learn as they battle. The more they utilize a weapon, the more skills they are able to use. Because weapons have fixed skills, characters are only able to utilize said skills only if they are equipped with a weapon with the same skill. Hence, if Gray learns Wrath Strike from an Iron Sword, he will still be able to use it if he later equips Ilwoon. Several other skills are associated with specific classes and are innately learned upon promoting into it and retaining its effect so long as that character remains in that class or its related promotions.
Skills come under two categories: Passive and Combat. Passive Skills are constantly active skills which applies an assortment of abilities such as lowering stats, regenerating/leeching HP, inflicting status conditions on hit, or dealing effective damage against certain enemy types. Combat Skills are command skills that require the player to select them to activate. These include skills that affect unit placements or battle skills. Any battle Combat Skill require that the character lose a fixed amount of health to activate and likewise have additional effects on top of the attack.
In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Skills are renamed Abilities in the localization. There are three types of Abilities:
- Personal Abilities (個人スキル Kojin Sukiru), Abilities that are unique to each individual character and cannot be removed.
- Class Abilities (兵種スキル Heishu Sukiru), Abilities that are associated with specific Classes but do not carry over to other classes unless they are similar enough (such as the Thief and Assassin classes both having the Locktouch Class Ability), and as such, are unable to be removed as well.
- And Skill Abilities (技能スキル Ginō Sukiru), Abilities that which are associated with a Unit's Skill Levels. These Abilities are learned as characters raise their levels in their weapons, Authority, black, dark, and white magic, and special unit archetypes, as well as serving special rewards for unlocking their Budding Talent. Unlike the previous Ability subtypes, Skill Abilities can be assigned at any time at the players' whim, though only 5 can be equipped at any time.
- A subsect of Skill Abilities are called Mastery Abilities (マスタースキル Masutā Sukiru), which are Skill Abilities that are rewarded when a Unit has maxed out the Skill Experience bar in their class (done so by participating in combat as either a combatant or an adjutant), which the amount needed to max out varies in amount depending on the class in question.
- See also: List of Skills in Fire Emblem Heroes
In Fire Emblem Heroes, Skills are classified under five different categories:
- Weapon skills determines the weapons the character wields in battle. Every Character is classified under a specific weapon type under the traditional Fire Emblem weapon classes. Even if the character can wield multiple weapons in their base class in their respective games, they are locked to their specific predetermined weapon type. Legendary Weapons such as the Falchion are fixed to certain characters, thus cannot be inherited through Inherit Skill.
- Assist skills are non-combat skill that allow units to affect each other. These include repositioning skills like Pivot, ally support skills like Rally Defense, healing skills, or even the Dance command.
- Special skills are a series of various skills that activate in set intervals depending on the amount of traded attacks in battle. After a unit has attacked and/or has been attacked a specific amount of times depending on the skill (or also healed, if they are a cleric), they can activate these special skills. These include attacking skills like Luna, defensive skills like Pavise, or healing skills like Imbue.
- Passive skills are miscellaneous skills that give a variety of effects to a character. All passive skills are categorized into three types; A, B, and C skills. Majority of passive skills come in four tiers, each tier increasing the effect of the skill.
- Seals are universally equipable skills. Unlike other skills, Seals are earned by completing quests, achieving a certain score in Tempest Trials, or bought in Sacred Skill Forge. Seals can be freely equipped and unequipped between characters, allowing the player to use them on whatever character they want to, whenever they want to.
All characters come with a predetermined set of skills based on the Hero themselves. Thus, no matter who summons Chrom, he will always come with the same skill set. Weapon Skills are the only guaranteed skill type to be on a unit. Majority of the cast have at least one Passive Skill in their base skill pool except for Masked Marth. Upon being summoned, a Hero will automatically come with the highest rarity weapon and special skill in their skill set. If they have a Support skill, they will also come with the skill pre-learned if their are 4-Star or higher, except for Staff users. All Passive skills must be learned. Majority of skills require the Hero to be a specific Rarity to learn a skill at a certain rank. Each skill's required rarity depends on the character itself. For example, Roy learns Triangle Adept 3 at 4-Star Rarity, while Cordelia needs to be 5-Star Rarity.
The following denotes general skills trends for each rarity pulled from Summoning:
- 3-Star Heroes start off with their second tier weapon but no other skills in their kit will be learned except for staff users who will have their lowest healing support skill learned. If they have a support skill, they will be able to learn it. If they have a special skill, they will only have access to the first tier version of that skill. Characters with passive skills will always have one that ranks up to tier one. Most characters will also have a second passive skill that can be ranked to tier 2. If the character has a special passive skill like Iote's Shield in their skill set, they will not be able to learn it at this rarity. Staff users will only have a first tier skill.
- 4-Star Heroes start off with their third-tier weapon, the base version of their Special Skill, and Support skills that they have in their skill set. They will still have to learn all of their Passive Skills. They will have one passive skill that can be ranked up to Tier Two or either a skill that can be taught up to tier three or a Special Passive Skill.
- 5-Star Heroes start off with their fourth-tier weapon, the second tier of their Special Skill, and Support skills that they have in their skill set. All Passive Skills are available to be learned. If they have third tier special skill like Aether or Galeforce, they will have to learn those as well.
Characters learn skills by acquiring Skill Points (SP) by participating in battle. Defeating an enemy earns 3 SP and healing an ally earns 1 SP. SP is also gained by leveling up, earning increasing amounts of SP per Level Up every 10 levels. Merging characters also gives a character SP based on the rarity of the hero merging with the base hero.
- See main article: Inherit Skill
Heroes can also acquire new skills outside of their base set by Inheriting skills from different characters. This allows heroes to learn skills from all four main categories and further allow players to customize their heroes.
In battle, some skills have interaction with each other in many forms. Skills that increase or decrease stats, known as buff or debuff skills, can be divided in two categories depending on their activation: field and combat.