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A Skirmish (Challenge in Awakening) is a battle outside the main story that first appears in Fire Emblem Gaiden, and later reappears in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates. These side-battles allows players to train units, earn money, and even obtain additional items.
Battles outside chapters work somewhat differently, there are two types of battles that can be repeated, and another where the enemy attacks the lord character. The first encountered in the game are in Shrines. Most Shrines have at least one enemy encounter. A note to make is Gaiden is the only game where Alm and Celica may move freely like in traditional RPGs. When a room with an encounter is entered a battle starts. Battles of this nature are also encountered in the Lost Woods.
On the map there are also Graveyards and other areas that always trigger a skirmish when moved to. These are generally graveyards, often housing Monster units.
The third kind is when the active lord is attacked by the enemy. Enemy commanders may send their own small squads after the lords and can be spawned indefinitely. These squads move around the map on their own. If one of the lords are attacked in this manner, the enemy goes first.
After completing Chapter 8, monsters will begin to emerge throughout Magvel in any area with a simple circle as a stop point. Up to three groups of monsters may appear, although starting at one and increasing slowly by an additional count as the player progresses through the campaign. Any shops and armories in the area will be disabled until the monsters are removed. With the exception of Neleras Peak, all areas have the potential of having Fog of War.
In Creature Campaign, monsters will appear immediately without having to visit either location once the last group of monsters are eliminated.
In some areas of the map, monsters can be quite notorious for blocking off specific areas of the map. If the player tries to reach a destination blocked by a monster, the lord will try to make their way there, only to be stopped upon reaching a monster group. To start a skirmish, simply move the lord right onto the monster location.
Monster skirmishes do not usually yield much apart from experience. This usually comes in paltry sums of gold or in other cases, a secondary weapon. Tier one monsters will usually have a secondary D or C rank weapon in this case; the only exception is the melee-using Bonewalker, who may have a Runesword on the side. While monster weapon ranks are capped at C for tier one, any Bonewalkers carrying Runeswords will have their sword rank raised to A to use them. Tier 2 monsters in skirmishes will usually carry D or C rank weapons, apart from melee-using Wights who can also use Runeswords.
Skirmishes at Melkaen Coast are particularly notable for an Elder Bael at the north-east corner which usually carries a valuable item, although it may not, have something of lower value or may need to be stolen. Skirmishes at Neleras Peak are notable for the ability to pull off the Enemy control glitch, especially the "Hammerne" variant.
Starting after completing Chapter 3, the world map will randomly spawn a Risen unit on a completed location after completing a chapter/paralogue or after a set amount of time. Players can also use Reeking Boxes to summon a Risen on the same location that they are standing on. Risen level and class will depend on the location of that the Risen appears on. This restriction does not apply to Risen summoned through the box on Lunatic and Lunatic+ modes, which will simply spawn any group of powerful Risen. Only one Risen group can be summoned through a Reeking Box; it cannot be used if something else is on the spot (another Risen group, SpotPass team, Merchant).
If a Risen group appears in the same location with another group present there, the amount of enemies are doubled, but upon completion the player is rewarded with 3,000 Gold and a random item, usually being a stat boosting item, Rank A physical weapon or Rank B magical weapon/stave.
If a Risen group appears in a spot with a Merchant, the Merchant will act as an ally, and if she survives the battle, will give the player a reward. If she dies, she will disappear along with the Risen group. The Merchant is usually weak, and will often require protection whether it be a wall of units or a Rescue stave, as the Risen will easily kill her due to her poor stats.
If a Risen group appears in a spot with a SpotPass team, the SpotPass team will act as your ally and will stay if their commander is alive; otherwise they will disappear along with the Risen if the commander falls in battle.
The enemies in the group varies, but are usually linked with the commander's class. For example, if Risen appear and their commander is a Trickster, most of the enemies will be either Tricksters or Assassins, since their base class is Thief (and those two classes are its promotions). In the case of War Monks (their base class being a non-combat), most of the enemies will usually be War Monks or Valkyries.
Rewards include small bullion, weapons and stat-boosting items. Only Risen commanders that are of the Berserker, Warrior, Thief, Trickster and Assassin classes will give stat-boosting items; all other classes will simply reward the player with their weapon instead. In the event that the enemy commander has a forged weapon, they will drop an unforged version of their weapon upon death.
Like in Sacred Stones, Chrom is not required for deployment for Skirmishes.
Like in the three games above, the world map will randomly have pockets of ruffians gathering at a completed chapter location after completing a chapter/Paralogue or after a set amount of time. Note that this only occurs in Birthright and Revelation, as this feature is disabled on Conquest.
Players can "scout" for ruffian groups by paying gold, the amount depending on game difficulty and the overall difficulty of that area. For example, if Kana's Paralogue was completed very early at the start, the ruffians there would be a lower level. Meanwhile, if it was done very late in the game (Chapter 26 and higher), the ruffians there would have levels varying from 16-20.
Like in the main storyline, the enemies can be captured and thrown into the Prison. However, their stats are slightly lower then those on the main route, and will only carry skills that their classes can normally learn (from pre-promote classes that it promotes into). For example, a Merchant, whose pre-promotes are the Villager and Apothecary classes, may have Underdog even though their base class is Apothecary.
Compared to skirmishes in Awakening, enemies in skirmishes can carry any skill from their base classes. On harder chapter locations, they will also carry forged weapons, even on Normal Mode. This applies to all weapons except for B-Rank thrown and A-Rank weapons. In addition, the amount of enemies seems to be lowered drastically, although players are able to scout for two groups at one location compared to Awakening where the only way to get two groups in one spot was through luck.
In Paralogues, the strength of the ruffians there are based on when it was completed.
Rewards include gold in quantities of 1,000, and rarely, stat-boosting items, staves or small healing items. Such items are only dropped by ruffian commanders that are of the Adventurer, Master Ninja, Outlaw and Ninja classes. Unlike Awakening where the enemy commander would drop a normal weapon, the enemy commanders in Fates do not drop their weapon.
Like in Sacred Stones and Awakening, Corrin is not required for deployment in Skirmishes.
- Unlike every other Skrimish location in The Sacred Stones Melkaen Coast has no corresponding chapter in the story. It was presumably Eirika's planned landing point in her journey to Rausten.
- In the Revelation route in Fates, human enemies will appear in skirmishes at Valla rather then Vallites despite being closed off from the rest of the world.
- The enemies encountered in Fates have skills of their class, like in Awakening, although with a few exceptions:
- Enemies such as Onmyojis may have Miracle (obtainable through Monk/Shrine Maiden), even though upon capturing them, they have a base class of Diviner instead.
- Enemy Mechanists never carry the Apothecary's base skills, Potent Potion and Quick Salve, even though the Mechanist's pre-promotes are the Apothecary and Ninja class. This is odd considering that other enemies, such as generic Heroes, can occasionally be found with Gamble and HP +5, even though upon being captured, they only have access to the Mercenary base.