The way Radiant Dawn handles its acts is kind of interesting, because each act has a prologue and endgame (and Act 4 has a special 5-chapter endgame), so this is really just the end of this specific arc before we move on to a different story that will seem only tangentially related. Initially, at least; all of these different stories and characters will intersect throughout Act 3 and be combined in Act 4, so we’re not even remotely done with the Dawn Brigade or Daein after this chapter. We’re only setting them aside for a short time so that we can better understand all of the intersecting responsibilities and loyalties that will lead to a wider conflict later on.
Letting Jarod go was definitely a bad call on Micaiah’s part, because he murders that Begnion emissary from the last chapter and takes control of Daein Keep in Nevassa (the same place where Ike’s army fought Ena as a boss in Path of Radiance, though the upcoming stage will take place in a different part of it). After that, he begins attacking the city, launching catapults and “all but destroying the castle town.”
Micaiah’s instinct—especially given her deep love of Nevassa in particular—is to attack Daein Keep to stop the few remaining Begnion soldiers’ attack. However, Izuka disagrees, recognizing that waiting for the apostle’s people ensures the victory of the Daein Liberation Army. He also accuses Micaiah of stealing the spotlight, arguing that she might have a secret goal of ruling Daein herself rather than helping Pelleas obtain the crown. Pelleas rejects this immediately, though, arguing that he’s been an inadequate ruler and that this is something that needs to change.
Pelleas leaves the tent and delivers an impromptu speech to the soldiers, fumbling his words at first (Micaiah goes to help him, only to have her path blocked by the Black Knight) but eventually telling them that they need to fight despite their otherwise guaranteed victory and despite the possibility that doing so may potentially anger those in Begnion who they need to stay on good terms with. The soldiers all rally around him, recognizing that he’s becoming the type of leader he needs to be.
In the first base conversation, Fiona talks about how Pelleas’ speech gave her hope for Daein’s future. Then she gives Micaiah another Thani tome to use. Micaiah isn’t even close to using up the one picked up in chapter 2, but having more magic that does bonus damage against armored knights never hurts.
The second base conversation is with Volug, and he gives Micaiah a Blue Gem. I forget how much the different types of gems sell for, but it’ll be nice to have some extra money in case something interesting shows up in Aimee’s shop.
First off, a disclaimer: I didn’t save all of these level-ups. Nolan hasn’t hit a class change yet. I just wanted to go over the changes to the bonus experience system in this game since I won’t be using it much outside of very specific circumstances. As a reminder, you could get normal level-ups using bonus experience in Path of Radiance, and because of that it was possible to reset over and over again so that every level-up was a great one (effectively turning your characters into unstoppable juggernauts). Radiant Dawn changed this so that levels gained with bonus experience only raise three random stats. Always three (so long as there are three available stats to receive points), which is typically fewer than a normal level-up. This actually makes it more easily abused, though, because capping stats reduces the number of possible stats that can be raised, allowing you a small measure of control in what gets points. For example, say a character has almost no growth in their magic stat, but has capped a bunch of other things. There’s a really good chance that you can get a ton of points in their magic stat using bonus experience, then, and that can make a skill like Imbue comically powerful.
Before, their avoid bonus was 15. Now it’s 30. I seem to remember it maxing out at 45 when they hit an A-level support, and once they start leveling up (early enemies don’t give them much experience) so that their natural talent for dodging has that bonus added on top, they’ll be virtually untouchable. Even this B-level support is noticeable, though. You’ll see Zihark dodging a lot of attacks during this stage.
The Pass skill wasn’t very useful in the last chapter, but there will be a bunch of thieves who we have to beat to treasure chests in this chapter. These thieves are especially annoying because enemies will frequently be blocking the way so that other characters can’t stop their thievery in time, so giving Sothe the Pass skill is a huge help. I’ve reached them without it before, but it’s much more of a hassle.
This stage has a bunch of incredibly narrow passages, and it also slopes up so that enemies frequently have an elevation bonus. That can be especially dangerous for Volug, Vika, and Rafiel because there are units who can do bonus damage against them. And Nailah, but she’s strong enough to take the hits and keep going.
This stage can be a nightmare, but letting Nailah and the Black Knight take care of most of the enemies makes things much less frustrating. It’s lost experience, sure, but Zihark finishes off the boss and Sothe helps take a few enemies out, so a lot of the characters who need experience still manage to obtain a solid chunk of it. The weaker characters all remain near the entrance where there are multiple three-mages-and-one-axe-guy groups of reinforcements that show up, but Laura should be able to heal any damage they can do. It’s just important that most of them are taken out, because Rafiel can’t take much damage when untransformed (and is slow enough that pretty much any enemy can double-attack him).
The goal is to seize the point Jarod is standing on, however, which means that Micaiah eventually has to make her way up. It’s best to wait until Jarod is the only enemy left before moving her. Especially since she doesn’t gain any experience right now. I also like to remove any items that the Black Knight and Nailah have, because they’re going to leave soon. That might not be necessary and the items might be automatically transferred to the convoy like when Shinon and Gatrie left in Path of Radiance, but a little bit of caution never hurts. Speaking of caution, Jarod has a skill that gives him a bonus to his critical chance. Sothe can go up against him (and do slightly more damage if Micaiah is close) and his critical chance will be a nice and safe 0%, but when Zihark faces him, he has a 4% critical chance. If Zihark had missed the killing blow and Jarod’s counterattack was a critical, Zihark would be dead. That’s happened to me before. It’s infuriating, but Sothe can slowly wear Jarod down for anyone who’s risk-averse and looking to play as safely as possible.
With Micaiah having saved everyone for the millionth time, Pelleas names her Supreme Commander of Daein’s armies, and that can mean only one thing.
Class change! Nice. She’ll have one more class change in this game (I think that one is right before Act 4’s endgame starts) because Radiant Dawn has a three-tier class system, which means that our characters—along with the enemies they’ll be facing—are going to be significantly more powerful than in Path of Radiance.
Pelleas is crowned and everything in Daein is happy and sparkly and nice. For now.
There’s a feast to celebrate, but Tormod and his laguz friends decide to leave. Izuka’s presence is a factor in their decision, of course, but there’s also the fact that Daein is still plagued by a widespread hatred of laguz that will take time to fix. Because of that, they decide to take Nailah and Rafiel to Gallia since Micaiah and Sothe are bound to be too busy rebuilding Daein to do so.
Micaiah takes Maurim aside and thanks him for not telling anyone that she’s one of the Branded, and he asks if she knows anything about the circumstances of her birth. She replies that she never knew her parents, but that the old woman who raised her told her what the mark meant and cautioned her not to let people see it.
She tells him that her slow aging isn’t something that she can hide, however, so she’s spent much of her life on the move. She then brings up the fact that she won’t be able to stay in Daein’s army for long before people begin to notice.
Rafiel reminds Micaiah that a voice brought the two of them together in the first place, and says that their paths are no doubt fated to cross at some point in the future. With that, Tormod’s group and Nailah’s group depart for Gallia.
Nailah sends Volug back to protect Micaiah, though, so we don’t have to worry about him and Zihark being separated. Their murderous friendship shall endure for all time.
Thus ends Act 1. Each act ends with a little teaser hinting at the happenings of the next, which I’ve always felt helps build momentum and excitement leading into it.