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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 spawn on the world map, signified with a screeching sound. If the player passes over the location occupied by a monster, a skirmish will begin. After clearing a chapter or entering the Tower of Valni or Lagdou Ruins, monsters will appear on a random location on the map. While most skirmishes do not yield anything (apart from experience), there are still some rewards to obtain. In all skirmish areas, some monsters may come with rather rare weapons, such as Runesword using Bonewalkers or Wights. Skirmishes Melkaen Coast are the most notable, as there is an Elder Bael at the northeastern corner of the map that usually carries an item, though it may need to be stolen from it occasionally.
It should also be noted that one can enter the Tower of Valni or the Lagdou Ruins, and immediately retreat when given the option after starting the first floor, and various monsters will spawn in a random location on the world map upon leaving. The amount of monsters that will appear on the map are dependent on how much chapters the player has completed; however, up to 3 groups of monsters may be present at any time. In addition, the Fog of War effect may take place during these skirmishes; only skirmishes in Neleras Peak do not get fog of war effects.
If the player continues playing in Creature Campaign, once all monsters on the map are cleared, more will take their place.
Skirmishes in Neleras Peak are often exploited for the Enemy control glitch, due to the vast amount of Gorgon Eggs and action tiles.
Eirika and Ephraim are not required deployment for Skirmishes. In addition, the player cannot pass through monsters, so if they have "blockaded" an area, the player must engage combat with one of the two groups causing the "blockade". Players can still retreat at the start of the battle, as the monster group will disappear, albeit at the cost of potentially wasted rewards.
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, the Avatar 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.