A few days ago, the May 2020 issue of Nintendo Dream was released; it featured an interview with the development staff of Three Houses, which delved into the secrets of Fodlan’s birth, as well as spoilers relating to the key characters.
The interview itself is in Japanese, but thanks to fans, the important parts have been translated! Before continuing, please be aware that there are big spoilers for pretty much every route. Especially for the Edelgard and Claude routes.
Topics include the very first route that was written for the game (any guesses which one?), plus discussions about Edelgard, Rhea and Claude (which is where we learn his real name…).
By the way, for any Dimitri fans who are wondering, they do talk about him, but there doesn’t seem to be much new (which could be a good thing, as it means all the important stuff is already in the game).
The following translations were graciously provided by SigurdVII via Reddit. The original Japanese text can be found by searching for the Discord images linked in the comments.
Silver Snow Page
Q: Can you tell us which route was made first in order to expand and explore the world?
Kusakihara: The first and second parts of the Empire route.. which is called by the userbase as the “Church Route”, Silver Snow. The progression of Class Leader Edelgard to become the antagonist… that is what we initially decided upon. It was from there, that every route’s story and the progression of other Lords as characters were expanded by the Koei Tecmo Scenario Team. As the Class Leader would leave, the Black Eagles were initially decided to be the most difficult route as imagined (gameplay difficulty).
Yokota: Ahh, this is about losing access to the most powerful unit that you would be raising, right? This is pretty bad, yeah.
Kusakihara: In my personal opinion, I think that some cruelty from the parts of developers is necessary. This is because if we weren’t cruel/callous in any way, then, just like pre-established harmony where everything only interacts with itself, it would be easy for readers/players to predict everything that will happen. A scenario that would completely be predicted by the reader/player is not something that feels attractive. And that’s why we went all out that way, but the wish to walk with Edelgard was incredibly strong even in the development team. Walking with Edelgard in “Crimson Flower”, or rather known as the, “Supreme Ruler Route” is something we honestly meant to be much more difficult to enter.
(Editor’s note: I think a more fitting translation for “Supreme Ruler” would be “Conqueror”, so it would the Conqueror or Conquest route. As an aside, there’s already a Conquest route in Fates, but it’s known as the “Dark Nights [Nohr] Kingdom” in Japan.)
Yokota: I’m really sorry to you, Kusakihara-san too, but I was also someone who battled with Koei Tecmo on it. The exploration event split was initially too difficult and there were no hints at all. Even now, if you don’t explore during the certain day (lists the exact month in Japanese), then you wouldn’t be able to go to the Supreme Ruler route either. Nevertheless, most people generally go out to explore on the start of each month, so it ends up being rather obvious, eh.
Kusakihara: Compared to what I envisioned, it’s about 3 times easier to enter, but that’s fine, I think.
Yokota: In my opinion, I was thinking that this sort of difficulty is fine instead, lol. The Black Eagles Story was the first story Kusakihara-san wrote, so I thought you might be more against this, but it’s nice that we are able to go into a route split here, so the “Unpredictable Story” that Kusakihara-san wanted was able to be achieved through this form. It feels like you were able to make it without much deviations right from the planning stage all the way.
Q: Please tell us about how Edelgard and the Empire’s current status brought about the details seen in the story.
Kusakihara: The character that guides the story has mostly been male characters up until now. The antagonist being a male character as a setting has also been often the case in my opinion… which is why we wanted to release something that is the opposite, to which you can say, a story that is hard to predict, and as such we ended up with a female character.
Yokota: Not only is she a strong character on the front of thrusting the story’s direction, the gap with her cute/endearing points also were present, which has resulted in her becoming a good character in my opinion. And other than that, due to all the previous titles in the series, the thought/impression that the Empire = Antagonists is left upon the playerbase. When you think about the “Empire”, you usually get some sort of “Bad/Evil” image, I think. And as for the story, it really feels like it started from the Romance of Three Kingdoms, but we force them all to take part in school life. In other words, a period in which there was peace must exist, before starting the fires of war. And because of that, someone evil (Villain)… or rather, someone who has to bear a role close/similar to that has to exist, and so we had the Empire bear that burden.
Kusakihara: FE recently has frequently started right before the war, but this time, we intentionally made the war start much later on.
Q: When was Edelgard experimented on? Also, why does she have the Crest of Flames like the protagonist?
Kusakihara: It happened sometime between after she split from Dimitri and before the game, but, Edelgard is known as the “Greatest Achievement” of Agartha, and as such, she was molded after they had already increased the probability of success, in other words, she was molded after Lysithea underwent experiments. And as for why she holds the Fire Emblem, Edelgard was initially meant to be someone with a setting of equal status and acting as a rival to the protagonist. During the time stops by the protagonist, if Edelgard was there, then that would be interrupted, but she would be unable to use the Divine Pulse when it comes down to it… or rather, such gimmicks were really interesting or so I thought, but we never made it to such a level.
Yokota: That’s really amazing eh.
Kusakihara: She may have lost those gimmicks but as someone who holds the same Emblem as the protagonist, Edelgard feels like it is something common between them, and we get some drama being born between them.
Q: Why does Sothis have the form of a little girl? Please also tell us why Rhea has an obsession with reviving Sothis.
Kusakihara: It’s because the Sothis that is inside the protagonist is in an incomplete state. She does not even remember her own form, and as such cannot restore herself, which is a result of her look which is like a halfway-there version of her older form. The Sothis that Rhea knows is vastly different, and as such, hearing “I see the form of a young girl” from the protagonist just makes her very puzzled/confused, as there is that gap. In her complete form, she looks just like an adult woman pictured in the ceiling painting.
Yokota: I searched it just now and found an Adult Sothis Design, but why was that created?
Kusakihara: Actually, in the beginning cutscene, there is a one-cut of Sothis looking down, and it was for that, a character design sheet for her was needed. As for Rhea’s tenacity, there is actually stuff that was written that did not make it in. For Rhea, Sothis is not just her mother, but also the Creator, and therefore she has goals beyond just wanting to meet her mother. This is the foundation of Rhea’s mind/heart
Q: Why did Nemesis attack Zanado?
Kusakihara: In that world, originally the race that could change into dragons, the so called citizens of Nabatea, were scattered about Fodlan in the different places/lands as governers (rulers) but, there were the citizens of Agartha who held hatred against the citizens of Nabatea… in other words, Those Who Slither in the Dark wanted to overturn this state of affairs (of the Nabateans as rulers) and as such, they devised schemes. They granted humans the technology to make powerful weapons from the corpses of the citizens of Nabatea, or so was their plan that they enacted, to which they went forward with this plan using the human, Nemesis. As a result, what would happen to humans who gained power… they would want even more power, and find a dragon much stronger to beat in order to collect materials forcefully, in order to make even more powerful weapons… and so that was the cycle that was born. And that was the birth of Fodlan’s Ten Elites. And then, Seiros raised and army and forcefully suppressed Nemesis and the Ten Elites by beating them, and then afterwards, as the victor, Seiros changed history, which led to the current history of the Seiros Church. In other words, “history is at the end of the day the victor’s privilege and nothing else”, is what we fit in. As a result, during the first part of this title, there is a great amount of people speaking lies about history, which results in the books in the library not being able to be believed at all.
Q: Why did Seiros (Rhea) leave the Ten Elites and Nemesis as heroes in history?
Kusakihara: From the human perspective/side, Nemesis and the Ten Elites were heroes. As a result, ruling above humans, she would be unable to completely fabricate points that would deny every aspect of their history, eh. As a result, she left them as heroes while changing other parts in order to suit her own needs. That said, Seiros and co. meddled with history not in order to rule over humans, but to quell the flames of war and chaos as much as possible, and to also keep a steady balance about humanity. As the library underground points out, the speed of civilization advancement was way too fast and so they wanted to suppress that, eh. There are also reasons for that but… that will remain a secret, haha.
Lastly, the following translations are from us. Earlier, there was a post on Tumblr, but it seems to have been taken down. You can find the original Japanese text on Twitter.
Q: In “Cindered Shadows”, Claude made a curious remark about his own name; is it actually an alias?
Kusakihara: As you’ve guessed, “Claude” is an alias… his actual name is “Khalid”. We wanted to reveal it somewhere, but in the end we never did get that chance (laughs). Actually, there was meant to be a scene where Nader called him Khalid midway through the game, but it was removed because it didn’t really fit.
Yokota: Why did we pick “Claude” for his name again? (Interviewer’s note: There’s a character in Genealogy of the Holy War with the same name.)
Kusakihara: You know, Higuchi brought that up as well, but it was meant to be an alias, so I didn’t worry about it too much. We were planning to reveal his true name in the game… Besides, there are characters with overlapping names already, such as Gray and Kamui (Editor’s note: Gray and Kamui are characters from Fire Emblem Echoes, who share their names with Asugi and Corrin in the Japanese version of Fire Emblem Fates). Anyway, his real name is Khalid!
Yokota: They’re both cool names. Claude seems to have changed the least during the timeskip. The beard gives him a more adventurous feel, although when I first saw his timeskip design, he looked even more dodgy than before (laughs). But he turned out to be a really nice guy.
Q: In his support conversations with the protagonist, Claude mentioned he’s a “insignificant part of the royal family”. Does that imply he has other siblings in Almyra?
Kusakihara: Most likely, yes. He would have had many siblings from different mothers and being bullied by everybody around him would have been his starting point. Living in an environment with many rivals is what turned Claude into this scheming type of guy, as well as forming his ambitions. The theme of Claude’s path is his battle to break down barriers between cultures (foreign things)–and the root of it all stemmed from the environment of his homeland. The scenario team used Yang Wen-li from “Legend of the Galactic Heroes” and Ranjendra from “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” as references and combined parts of them to create Claude’s image. He won’t hesitate to plea for his life and considers survival as the ultimate victory. That’s also why Claude is the character who survives in every route.
Yokota: In the Derdriu map in the Conquest route, his interactions with Hilda were quite impactful. Like when he asked her why didn’t she flee the battlefield.
Kusakihara: Agreed. That’s likely because he has different values to the people of Fodlan.