- This article refers to the types of magic; for the article on the magic stat, see Magic (stat).
Magic is a staple of gameplay in the Fire Emblem series. While the amount of damage a unit takes from a physical determined partially by that unit's defense, the amount of damage taken from a magic attack is determined by resistance so magic can be very effective even if the unit being attacked has high defense. Also, magic is unique because it can be cast as both a melee and a ranged attack, allowing the caster to avoid retaliation from melee attackers during the player's turn and deal counterattacks against most attacks. Usually, magic is cast from a tome or staff which bequeaths a certain number of castings. When that number is reached, the weapon loses its power and depending on the game, becomes broken awaiting repair or is discarded. Starting from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, there has been a "rock-paper-scissors" type magic system where certain types are more effective against other types.
The first magic triangle, now known as the Anima triangle, was introduced in Genealogy of the Holy War. It is also featured in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn and goes as follows:
In Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, a second magic triangle known as the trinity of magic was introduced which encompasses the three general types, Anima, Light, and Dark, and has become more well known than the Anima triangle. This trinity is:
Magic in Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi is divided into tomes and staves. Tome magic involves summoning the elements such as fire, thunder and ice. Staff magic is cast through the use of staves and has primarily healing or other supportive properties.
The magic system in Gaiden is very different from the other games'. In this game, magic is learned as units level up and each time the magic is cast, a certain amount of hit points are drained from the caster. However, similar to the first game, magic is divided into Black Magic and White Magic and a few spells from the first game are reused.
Since Mystery of the Emblem is an enhanced remake and sequel to Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi, the magic system is very similar. Also, this is the first installment where magic can deal increased damage to certain enemy types, such as Fire magic against Ice Dragons and Ice magic with a bonus against flying enemies.
Genealogy of the Holy War expands magic greatly and is the first game to use the rock-paper-scissors style of status bonuses and penalties found between physical weapon types throughout the Fire Emblem series. In this game, Fire magic excels against Wind magic and is disadvantaged against Thunder magic. Wind magic trumps Thunder magic and falters to Fire magic. Finally, Thunder magic beats Fire magic but loses to Wind magic, completing a triangle of advantage and disadvantage. There are also two more schools of magic called Light and Dark magic. Light and Dark both have an advantage over the other three types of magic, but have no effect on each other. Dark magic is not obtainable by the player.
Thracia 776, as a midquel to Genealogy of the Holy War, retains much of its predecessor's magic system with only slight modifications. In this game, the player can recruit a unit who uses Dark magic, unlike Genealogy of the Holy War.
Binding Blade introduces a new system of magic called the Trinity of Magic. There are three principal schools of magic: Anima, Light and Dark. Anima magic is the magic of nature, comprised of fire, thunder, ice and wind. Anima magic gains an upper hand against Light magic but is weak against Dark magic, and is characterized by good hit rates as well as being average in weight, might and critical hit rate. Light magic is sacred magic used by bishops, and is effective against Dark magic. However, it is weak against Anima magic. Light spells have a tendency to be being less heavy, though only slightly so, with average hit and critical hit rates, as well as a little below average might. Dark magic, also known as elder magic, generally has spells of higher power than those of the same level, though suffer from less hit and its tomes are heavier than the tomes of the other types of magic. Some dark magic tomes have special abilities such as hit point drain. It trumps Anima magic but Light magic is its bane. Outside of the Trinity of Magic is Stave magic which primarily deals with healing, restoration and other supportive aspects, though some staves are used to inflict a status upon enemy units such as sleep.
The magic system in Rekka no Ken is almost exactly the same as its predecessor, though all three types of magic have become more accurate, Light magic in particular, and a few tomes have been removed as well as added. Most notably is the addition of Luna, a Dark magic tome that negates the opponent's resistance. Staves are present like in the previous title.
The Sacred Stones also reuses the magic system and gameplay found in the previous two Fire Emblem entries, with magic tomes being similar to those found in Rekka no Ken. It does, however, draw from older FE titles as well, with magicians able to use multiple parts of the magic triangle after promotion.
In Path of Radiance, the magic triangle introduced in Genealogy of the Holy War returns. Namely that Fire magic defeats Wind magic, Wind magic defeats Thunder magic and finally Thunder magic defeats Fire magic. Also, each magic is effective against certain types of laguz: Wind magic is effective against bird laguz, Fire magic is effective against beast laguz and Thunder magic is effective against dragon laguz. The fourth type of magic, Light, exists outside the magic triangle and is unaffected by it, like Staves which are still not used for combat.
The magic system of Radiant Dawn is nearly identical to that of Path of Radiance and namely Wind, Fire, Thunder, Light and healing Staves. However, Dark magic has been added to that so that the Trinity of Magic seen in Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken, and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones titles is back as well, with Anima being compromised out of Thunder, Fire, and Wind magic. Also, Staves, earlier unable to be used for combat, now grant the possibility to counterattack melee attacks. An aesthetic change is that unlike before, when a unit wielding magic is shown to appear unarmed in battle, in this game they now are shown carrying the tome they attack with.
Like FE1 and FE3 (and their remakes), magic is divided into tomes and staves. However, there is a small subcategory of magic tomes, called Dark magic, that is usable only by Dark Mages, Sorcerers, or those with the rare Shadowgift Skill.