FAQ/Strategy Guide by TIDQ

Version: 2.1 | Updated: 11/15/05 | Printable Version

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                               Gemfire FAQ v2.1
                         by TIDQ (Email at the bottom)


For ease, every part of the FAQ can be accessed by hitting Ctrl+F and searching
for the section number or section title.

1.0 Preface
   1.1 Game Overview
   1.2 The Story
2.0 Choosing a Family
   2.1 Scenario 1
   2.2 Scenario 2
   2.3 Scenario 3
   2.4 Scenario 4
   2.5 Choosing an Advisor
3.0 Statistics
   3.1 Disposable State Statistics
   3.2 Permanent State Statistics
   3.3 Personal Statistics
4.0 State Commands
   4.1 Military Commands
   4.2 Domestic Commands
   4.3 Diplomatic Commands
   4.4 Player Commands
   4.5 Other Commands
5.0 Battle
   5.1 Battle Basics
   5.2 Standard Units
   5.3 Battle Commands
   5.4 Frontal, Flanking, and Rear Assault
   5.5 Captured Leaders
6.0 5th Units
   6.1 Explanation of Ranges
   6.2 The Gems
   6.3 Hired 5th Units
7.0 Events
   7.1 Good and Bad Events
   7.2 Death
8.0 Additional Things to Know
   8.1 General Tips
   8.2 The ROM Glitch
   8.3 Beat the Game with a Non-Default Ruler
9.0 Miscellany
   9.1 Legal Stuff
   9.2 Email Me
   9.3 Version History
   9.4 Special Thanks

1.0 Preface

1.1 Game Overview

Gemfire is a strategy game released for the SNES, NES, and Genesis back in
1992. The NES version was originally known as Royal Blood in Japan, and the
16-bit versions were called Super Royal Blood. Although it's a mostly forgotten
game from a time that strategy console games weren't popular at least here in
America, it's really quite a good game. The player chooses one of several royal
families jockeying for control of the land of Ishmeria, a vast island divided
into 30 specific political territories. Conflict and strategy are up to the
player to balance and master on two different levels, nation-building and
turn-based battles. The ultimate goal is for the player to use his (or her)
might and diplomacy to rule the entire country and reunite the pieces of

The signature feature of Gemfire is the acquisition of magical gems from every
family that the player defeats. Each gem holds a unique supernatural guardian
that can aid soldiers in battle, and so the quantity and quality of gems that
the player possesses can make the difference between success and failure.

Overall though, the game isn't terribly difficult.

1.2 The Story

It is an age of knights and chivalry. It is also an age of magic and beasts.
The large island kingdom of Ishmeria is ruled with an iron fist by the evil
King Eselred. The king remained the unchallenged ruler as long as he held the
source of his power, a crown with seven magical Gems affixed to it, named
Gemfire. Each Gem contained a magical guardian, six wizards and a dragon.

In an act of defiance, the king's daughter Princess Robyn removed the Gems from
Eselred's crown. The Gems scattered themselves throughout the land and sought
out worthy rulers. Robyn's plot was found out by the king, however, and she
was thrown into the dungeon for what might be the rest of her days.

Six Gems found six different rulers. Now, these six families seek to overthrow
King Eselred, as well as each other, with the power of the Gems by their side.
The strongest Gem, the Dragon, still belongs to Eselred though. Thus begins a
seven-sided war to bring peace back to the land. Only one family can control
all of Ishmeria and reunite Gemfire!

2.0 Choosing a Family

Although there is no difficulty setting in Gemfire, the ability to get ahead
is most heavily determined by which family is chosen to start the game. There
are four different scenarios, spread across a progressive timeline. In each
scenario, the player gets to choose one of four different families, giving
sixteen different ways to play the game. The ending of the game is exactly the
same, no matter which ruler or scenario the player chooses. Every family can be
played in at least one of the scenarios, with the exception of the villainous
Lankshire family.

2.1 Scenario 1: Erin & Ander

"Six noble families have undertaken the task to overthrow King Eselred and
secure Gemfire. Erin of Blanche and Ander of Lyle and the main contenders, yet
only one family is destined to unite the crown!"

In this scenario, the Lankshire family controls most of the map from the very
start. Even though this is the first scenario, it might not be the most
friendly to beginner players. The player will have to deal with the Eselred's
powerful Dragon Gem in countless battles to get ahead.

- Blanche
  Ruler: Erin
  Gem(s): Zendor
  Territories: 3
  Vassals: 4
  In all four scenarios, Erin (of Blanche) and Ander (of Lyle) will be the
  easiest paths to victory. Erin has a defensive advantage in terms of one of
  his territories being completely untouched by the enemy to start. It's then
  easy to distribute soldiers and riches away from the landlocked territory and
  towards the frontline. The player also starts adjacent to an unclaimed
  territory which can expand Erin's empire right off the bat. Zendor is the
  third best Gem in the game and can easily keep any other 5th Unit in check.

- Lyle
  Ruler: Ander
  Gem(s): Pluvius
  Territories: 3
  Vassals: 3
  Although Ander starts out with the same amount of territory and one less
  vassal than Erin, he is generally the strongest choice to start out the game
  with in most scenarios. Unlike Erin, Ander starts out bordering three
  unclaimed territories. It's possible to take all three of them on the first
  turn, although Ander's forces will be spread thin if he gets too greedy. Even
  more of an advantage to Ander is that he borders the lone territory of the
  Chrysalis family. This gives Ander the opportunity to knock off one of his
  opponents and secure a second Gem very close to the beginning of the game.
  Pluvius is the second best Gem in the game, only eclipsed by the Dragon.

- Coryll
  Ruler: Lars
  Gem(s): Empyron
  Territories: 2
  Vassals: 2
  The Coryll family will provide more of a challenge than Erin or Ander. They
  do have a defensive advantage of having a landlocked territory, much like
  the Blanche family. They also have a Gem, Empyron, who is pretty good. Like
  Ander, Lars starts out near a weak opponent in Erik of the Flax family.
  However, Lars starts out just as weak as Erik, and there's a good chance that
  the Lankshire family will get to Erik's Gem before the player does, if he's
  not careful. Lars also has slightly weaker personal stats than Erin and
  Ander. Lars does have advantages, but not nearly as strong as Erin and Ander.

- Chrysalis
  Ruler: Garth
  Gems(s): Chylla
  Territories: 1
  Vassals: 2
  Chrysalis is the pushover family in the first two scenarios, but in the first
  scenario, the player has the option to play as their prince, Garth. There are
  a couple of advantages. He does have a Gem, and his home territory only has
  one access point from the outside, making it safe to expand outward. The
  problem is that he still only has one territory, his personal stats are weak,
  and his Gem, Chylla, is probably the worst in the game in some respects. One
  of Garth's vassals, Sarthe, bears a scary resemblance to Pauly Shore. Hmm.
  For a challenge, this family will have an uphill battle.

2.2 Scenario 2: Flax's Shame

"Prince Erik of Flax is cornered in the Southwest after defeating the Coryll
Family. Now Flax feels threatened by the presence of Terian, the Prince who
deserted the King."

In the second scenario, the Lankshire Family has around the same amount of
land controlled as in the first scenario. However, there is no unclaimed
territory in the beginning, and both Erin and Ander start off with a solid four
territories a piece instead of three. Unlike the other three scenarios, there
is no horrible choice of family to start with.

- Blanche
  Ruler: Erin
  Gem(s): Zendor
  Territories: 4
  Vassals: 7
  The second scenario gives Erin another territory and many more vassals to
  spread around. He doesn't have any barricaded territories, but he does have
  some easy options for attacking outward, like territories 3 and 11. The
  opportunity to be the first person to knock off the Tate family is also
  there, but Erin will be fighting the Lankshire, Lyle, and Molbrew families
  for that honor.

- Lyle
  Ruler: Ander
  Gem(s): Pluvius
  Territories: 4
  Vassals: 6
  Ander is still the strongest choice in this scenario, just edging out Erin.
  Once again, Ander has the chance to take Garth's Gem very early in the game.
  He also has fairly good access to the Molbrew and highly vulnerable Tate

- Flax
  Ruler: Erik
  Gem(s): Scylla
  Territories: 3
  Vassals: 2
  This is the only scenario the player can use Erik of the Flax family. What's
  rather strange is that although the scenario introduction claims that Erik
  overthrew the Coryll family, he doesn't obtain their Gem. Instead, the
  Empyron Gem somehow ended up on the other side of the map with the Tate
  family. The ever-smiling Erik is not a bad choice to dominate Ishmeria,
  although he's well below Erin and Ander. He does have a Gem in Scylla, which
  is neither a bad Gem nor a great Gem. Geographically, he's in a great
  position to expand from, with one landlocked territory. On the downside, the
  only place he has to expand into is Lankshire territory. A mixed bag.

- Molbrew
  Ruler: Leander
  Gem(s): Skulryk
  Territories: 3
  Vassals: 2
  Statistically, the Molbrew family is the weakest choice to start the second
  scenario with, although they're not terrible. They do have a respectable
  three territories and a Gem. Leander himself has subpar stats. Their Gem,
  Skulryk, has the least strength of all the Gems, but he does have great move
  rate and range, so I really think he's at least better than Chylla.
  Geographically, it appears like they're surrounded, but they're not that bad.
  If Leander takes territory 15, they'll have one landlocked area and a lot of
  options to expand. A bit of a challenge, but not the hardest scenario.

2.3 Scenario 3: Terian's War

"Terian overthrew the Molbrew Family and is positioned in the West. His rivals
Erin and Ander each possess two gems of the crown, but magic is not the only
way to capture Gemfire..."

The annoying-to-battle Lankshire family starts out this scenario vastly
weakened from the previous two scenarios, only controlling eight territories,
while Erin and Ander have increased their empires to six regions a piece. Erin
and Ander also start out this scenario with two Gems each, making them good
choices for beginners.

- Blanche
  Ruler: Erin
  Gem(s): Zendor, Skulryk
  Territories: 6
  Vassals: 7
  By this point, Erin has six territories and two Gems. He has a geographically
  secure empire that could easily expand westward with a bit of development.
  Starting with Erin at this point in the game takes out a lot of the challenge
  for experienced gamers, but it might be right up the alley for a novice.

- Lyle
  Ruler: Ander
  Gem(s): Pluvius, Chylla
  Territories: 6
  Vassals: 7
  By the third scenario, the advantage to choosing Ander over Erin has lessened
  greatly, to the point where they're just about even. Pluvius is still
  slightly stronger than Zendor, but that's about it. Ander, like Erin, has two
  Gems from the get-go as well as six territories. Chances are in good favor
  that Ander can take over the Tate family before Erin though.

- Tate
  Ruler: Terian
  Gem(s): Empyron
  Territories: 2
  Vassals: 4
  The rogue prince Terian stays a constant force throughout the last three
  scenarios, and the player has the chance to control him in the third one.
  Although he only starts with two territories, Terian's starting empire also
  borders the only two unclaimed territories on the map. If he's willing to
  take the risk, he can double his empire's size on the first turn, although
  on some play-throughs, other empires will move first. Terian, like Lars,
  starts with the Gem Empyron, which is a pretty good one.

- Tordin
  Ruler: Gweyn
  Gem(s): None
  Territories: 2
  Vassals: 2
  Ah, the Tordin Family. Gweyn is my personal favorite ruler to play as. The
  Tordins are one of the two hardest families to use in the game. The Tordin
  family is also the only family ruled by a woman. I guess the middle ages were
  more progressive in other parallel universes. Start with two territories
  surrounded by the Flax and Lankshire families. You get no Gems, and Gweyn has
  a poor military rating. A firm grasp of the game's mechanics is fully
  necessary for success with this family.

2.4 Scenario 4: Gemfire

"The Lankshire Family bribed Pender to desert his own brother, Erin. They hope
to ally with Eadric, long lost son of Eselred, and gain his land in the South.
One ruler must stop the warring and reunite Gemfire!"

The Lankshires have crumbled into a smaller empire than Ander's and Erin's
individual empires. They still control the Dragon Gem though, so knocking them
over still won't be terribly easy. Eselred will also inevitably expand into the
unclaimed territory directly south of him, getting back to a decent size
fairly quickly. Overall, territory is most evenly distributed among the
families in the fourth and final scenario.

- Blanche
  Ruler: Erin
  Gem(s): Zendor, Skulryk
  Territories: 7
  Vassals: 8
  For the fastest (and easiest) possible play-through of the game, look no
  further than Prince Erin in the fourth and final scenario. He starts with
  seven territories, the most of any family in any scenario, and two Gems,
  including the mighty Zendor. Erin also has the opportunity to expand into an
  eighth unclaimed territory, getting a big headstart. Erin also has easy
  pickings with the Divas territory to the South.

- Lyle
  Ruler: Ander
  Gem(s): Pluvius, Chylla
  Territories: 6
  Vassals: 7
  Although Erin finally eclipses Ander in strength in the final scenario, Ander
  is still ridiculously overpowered at the start of this scenario. Two Gems,
  six territories, and the opportunity to expand into a seventh territory.
  Terian's Gem would be a good first target for this scenario.

- Tudoria
  Ruler: Eadric
  Gem(s): Scylla
  Territories: 3
  Vassals: 4
  The enigmatic Prince Eadric has emerged in Ishmeria to stop his father,
  Eselred, from abusing Gemfire for his selfish purposes. Eadric has
  near-perfect Charm and Domestic stats, although his military strength is
  merely average. Overall, he is a strong leader and commands a decent empire.
  The southwest corner of the map is one of the best starting points to expand
  from, and he already has a Gem to help him out. Eadric has serious work to
  catch up to Ander and Erin at this point though, as they will probably be
  harder to bring down than Eselred.

- Divas
  Leader: Loryn
  Gem(s): None
  Territories: 2
  Vassals: 3
  For unexplained reasons, one of the King's lords, Loryn, has gained political
  control of his own and seeks to unite Gemfire. Along with Gweyn, Loryn's
  scenario is one of the two hardest paths to winning the game. He starts with
  two territories and no Gems. He does have the chance to expand into a third,
  unclaimed territory, but that may not be a great idea. Spreading Loryn's
  forces is tricky, as he as the worst geographic starting point. He leaves
  himself exposed on all sides, making expansion difficult to start. In fact,
  this is even a little harder than Gweyn's scenario, so good luck.

2.5 Choosing an Advisor

After choosing a family and before jumping into the action, the player will get
to choose an advisor. The advisor chosen does not affect gameplay in anyway.

They are
- Eldrow the Wise
- Zorax the Mighty
- Jade the Enlightened
- Jasper the Riddler

They only serve to give optional advice. Although, given the rather poor
intelligence of the Computer AI, I don't put much stock in the advice of these
experts. To hear the words of the advisor, simply hit one of the shoulder
buttons at any time on the world map. They mostly spill blurbs like "Attack
this territory" or "Invest in crops."

One might think that the advisors dispense advice with biases, like Zorax being
more inclined to invade other territories. However, this is completely false.
The only difference between the advisors seems to be the wording of their

I tend to avoid listening to the advisors entirely, as they're idiots, and in
the case of Jasper, incredibly annoying.

3.0 Statistics

The game is full of extremely nondescript statistics, so knowing what each one
does and why they're important is useful.

Every territory has stats unique to just itself. That's why keeping an eye on
and developing each territory is important. Three of these stats are like
disposable currency, rapidly fluctuating. The other three are more permanent
and change more slowly over time.

Every vassal, lord, and ruler in the game also has their own set of personal

3.1 Disposable State Statistics

- Gold
  Every territory has its own treasury. Gold is one of the two main currency
  in Gemfire. It's necessary to hire troops, develop Cultivation or Protection,
  buy additional food, pay deployment costs for offensive battles, hire and
  maintain 5th Units, pay ransoms, and use the Search command. The maximum
  amount of Gold a single territory can have is 999.

  Gold can be acquired through annual taxes, selling food, plundering an enemy
  territory, collecting a ransom, the leprechaun event, and receiving it
  through a transport from another territory.

- Food
  Food is the other major currency in Gemfire. It's needed to feed troops in
  battle, raise the loyalty of subjects through giving, sell into gold, and pay
  ransoms. The maximum amount of food a single territory can have is 999.

  Food can be acquired through annual farm collection, buying it with gold,
  plundering it from an enemy territory, collecting a ransom, the food event,
  and receiving it through a transport from another territory.

- Troops
  Troops are the measure of a territory's military strength. The number of
  men housed are the number that will defend the area should it come under
  attack, not including 5th Units. In the event of attacking another area,
  troops will be gathered from just one territory's pool, although not all of
  them have to be used. Like gold and food, the maximum number that can stay
  at a single territory is 999.

  Troops can be acquired through the Recruit command, Moving Troops from a
  neighboring territory, or the rare troops event.

3.2 Permanent State Statistics

- Loyalty
  Loyalty is the measure of a territory's love for its ruler. It is
  represented by a horizontal red flag to the right of the Gold. Loyalty
  determines how much monetary taxes will be collected every September. In
  addition, Loyalty also affects the amount of food that is taxed, along with
  Cultivation. With zero Loyalty, food will not come in September. Every
  time a territory is taken over by force, the Loyalty of that territory
  reverts back to zero. Loyalty also lowers very gradually over a long time.

  Loyalty is primarily increased by the Give Food command, although it is also
  raised by a good event.

- Cultivation
  Not so surprisingly, Cultivation determines how much food will be collected
  every September. Cultivation is not the only thing that affects food though,
  as both high Cultivation and Loyalty are necessary. The better the farmland,
  the more food is grown, and the more food can be taxed. Cultivation lowers
  some in the event of warfare, as well as some bad events. It is represented
  by a picture of grain to the right of Food.

  Cultivation is raised by the Develop-Cultivation command.

- Protection
  The Protection stat primarily safeguards the territory against bad events.
  Less bad events occur with high protection, and bad events that do occur have
  a less negative effect. There may be more significance to Protection, but I
  haven't found it yet. Protection lowers some in the event of warfare, as well
  as some instances of Sabotage, and some bad events. It is represented by a
  picture of a castle tower, to the right of Troops.

  Protection is raised by the Develop-Protection command.

3.3 Personal Statistics

- Charm
  The icon that looks like a Heart is that character's Charm rating. The
  primary use of Charm is to increase the effectiveness of Give Food, which
  raises a land's Loyalty. Charm may have bearing on other actions, but it is
  not known for certain.

  Charm of a character can be increased only through good events on the
  territory where he or she rules or a Search item.

- Domestic
  The little icon of a piece of paper is that character's Domestic rating.
  The higher a character's Domestic rating, the more he or she is able to
  defend against Sabotage and Plunder. A high Domestic rating also increases
  the effectiveness of Develop greatly, which is its most important use.

  Domestic strength of a character can be increased only through good events on
  the territory where he or she rules or a Search item.

- Military
  The sword and shield icon represents a character's Military strength. It has
  a direct influence on the effectiveness of units in battle. High Military
  strength means soldiers will kill more and be killed less. An even matchup
  can turn into a lop-sided squashing if one side has an inferior Military

  Military strength, like Charm and Domestic, can only be affected by events or
  a Search item.

- Fame
  Fame is a stat that is completely exclusive to each family's ruler, and it
  generally represents the overall might of the entire family. It's
  represented by a badge on the ruler's view screen. Fame, aside from being
  a measure of how cool the ruler is, affects some diplomatic actions, like
  Ally, Defection, and Surrender. That is, high Fame makes them all slightly
  more likely to succeed.

  Fame increases as the player's empire increases. Winning battles and
  acquiring new territory are the fastest ways to increase Fame. Getting new
  vassals and a few other things affect it as well. Losing battles and
  territory will lower Fame by the same degree.

4.0 State Commands

These are the main commands on the map screen. All gameplay outside of battle
uses these commands.

4.1 Military Commands

The military command menu is represented by the picture of two swords crossing
in front of a shield. These are all the commands related to battle units.

- Attack

  The Attack command is, as one might guess, the command to attack a bordering
  territory. Before going into battle, the attacker must decide how many troops
  to take, how much food to take, and which 5th Unit to bring into battle.
  Recommendations for battle are covered in the Battle section (5.1), and 5th
  Units are covered in the 5th Units section (6.1).

  There is a deployment cost for troops that shouldn't make a noticeable dent
  on the pocketbook, but it can be determined by this simple formula:

  Deployment Cost = 1/8 * (Number of troops) +10

  In other words, for every 8 soldiers deployed, there's a charge of 1 gold
  piece, plus a base cost of 10. As such, it costs 22 gold for 100 troops, 35
  gold for 200 troops, 47 for 300 troops, and so on.

  The formula for food needed in a battle is also linear:

  Food needed per day = 1/10 * (Number of troops + 5th Unit Strength) +1

  5th Unit Strength is only added into the formula if it's a HIRED 5th Unit.
  The Gem guardians are exempt from the equation, because they can apparently
  live without food, but other 5th Units do indeed need to be fed, just like
  the rest of the soldiers.

  Not including 5th Units, an army of 100 will require 11 food per day, an army
  of 200 will require 21 food per day, an army of 300 will need 31 food, etc.

  A successful attack acquires the target territory to the player. If there
  was a ruler or vassal in charge of the attack, they will move from their
  previous territory and instead be stationed in the new territory. The
  territory the attack was led from will then be controlled remotely. The Home
  territory can be moved in this way.

- Recruit

  A pretty straightforward command, this allows the player to recruit new
  soldiers for that particular territory. Every soldier costs 2 gold pieces.
  A maximum of 999 soldiers can be in each territory at a point in time.

- Move Troops

  This command lets the player move troops from one territory into a bordering
  territory, so long as the target territory isn't occupied by another family.
  It's primarily used to redistribute gold, food, troops, and hired 5th Units
  to different regions under the player's control. It is also, however, the
  command used to claim an unoccupied territory.

  Like Transport, it allows the player to move food and gold to different parts
  of his or her empire, but it's limited in that it can only transport to a
  bordering territory.

- Hire Monster

  This command allows the player to both hire and fire 5th Units, not including
  Gem guardians. During the time that Gem guardians are unavailable for several
  turns, backup 5th Units can be the difference between winning and losing.

  Unlike Gems, hired 5th Units can only be used by the territory at which
  they're currently stationed. They can be moved to a different territory with
  the Move Troops command.

  Hired 5th Units require both a hiring cost and an upkeep cost, which are the
  same amount. For example, the Bugbear costs 30 gold pieces. They cost 30
  gold pieces for their initial hiring and then an additional 30 gold pieces
  every three months. If there isn't enough money to pay the upkeep of a hired
  5th Unit, they will desert the player.

  More details on the different kinds of 5th Units are covered in the 5th Units
  section (6.1).

4.2 Domestic Commands

Domestic commands are those that promote the welfare of the player's land. They
are represented by a picture of a House on the main menu.

- Develop

  The Develop command allows the player to invest 10 gold pieces and a turn to
  raise his or her Cultivation or Protection stat. Cultivation affects the
  amount of food produced in a territory. Protection lessens the blow of
  natural disasters. Develop has to be done repeatedly to get a good return,
  but it's well worth it and pretty much required to win.

  Either stat will raise from 2 to 5 points per Development, depending solely
  on the Domestic stat of that land's lord.

  In addition to being naturally rewarding, consistent use of the Develop
  command is the sign of moral rulers in Ishmeria. Development will cause good
  events to happen randomly at the yearly quarter. For more on random events,
  see the Events section (8.1).

- Trade

  The Trade command allows the player to turn his gold into food and his food
  into gold at will. It's a great way to balance commodities, but even better
  is its ability to make that territory's lord rich. The exchange rate
  fluctuates from month to month, which is the key to wealth. Check often.

  The language of the exchange rate is simple to decipher:

  "The prices are low." 1 gold = 2 food
  "The prices are average." 1 gold = 1 food
  "The prices are high." 2 gold = 1 food

  Buy low and sell high. It's not out of the question to quadruple one's net
  worth in a few months. Not surprising that Trade is the most easily abused
  command and a major reason why the game is considered on the easy side by

  Also, Trade is one of the few commands that does not end the player's turn.

- Give Food

  Giving food is the primary way to raise the Loyalty of a territory. The
  amount of Loyalty gained from giving food is dependant on Charm stat of that
  territory's lord.

  Unlike Develop, the player can invest a lot or a little into raising loyalty
  per turn, giving 20, 50, 80, or 100 food shares. A lord with high Charm can
  easily bring triple the Loyalty that a land with no lord would bring per
  giving of food.

- Transport

  With this command, the player can send or receive gold and food from one
  territory and put it in another, no matter how near or far. Even territories
  under a family's rule that are physically separated from the rest of their
  country can send and receive transports. An important command for
  redistributing wealth to where it's needed, particularly newly acquired
  territories with low domestic statistics.

4.3 Diplomatic Commands

Diplomatic commands are actions which involve foreign nations aside from direct
attack. They're represented by a bright red flag in the main menu. All four
Diplomatic commands have a chance of success or failure, so save the game
before attempting one of them.

- Ally

  The Ally command lets the player enter a non-aggression pact with another
  family. Other than the two families not being able to attack each other,
  there is no economic or military benefit in entering an alliance.

  The chance of success is dependent on the overall strength of both family's,
  likely determined by relative Fame of each leader. As a rule of thumb, if
  there's another family with twice as much territory as the player, they won't
  Ally. If the target family is weaker than the player's, they will probably
  accept the terms. If both families are about even in strength, it could go
  either way. Be forewarned that the computer is prone to breaking alliances
  whenever they feel like it.

  The Ally command can only be used from the Home province. The Lankshire
  family does not enter alliances.

- Negotiate

  Negotiate actually encompasses two different commands, Defection and

  Defection is a very neat command. It lets the player try to persuade another
  ruler's vassal to switch sides and join the player's ranks. If that vassal
  is the lord of an enemy territory, the player will gain control of that
  territory, riches, soldiers, and all, without even having to lift a weapon.

  Vassals that don't control territories can also be recruited. To find them,
  click on the opposing family's Home territory to bring up a list of names.

  The success rate of Defection is not entirely known for certain. I have my
  suspicions on which stats affect it, but I won't speculate. It has mostly to
  do with the stats of the person being asked to defect rather than the
  negotiator, as the same people seem to be easier to recruit in every game.
  However, the ruler's Fame also must bear some weight, as the more powerful
  the player is, the more people are willing to defect to his or her cause.
  Heirs, however, are the hardest people in the game to recruit through
  Defection usually, although it is possible.

  It is also possible to recruit vassals by defeating them in battle. See the
  Battle section for more details (5.5).

  Surrender is a command that will be used very, very little in any game. As
  the name implies, using this command will try to force another family into
  surrendering to the player. A successful surrender means that an entire
  family's vassals, territories, soldiers, and wealth will become property of
  the player. It's quite the powerful command. As one might expect thought, it
  almost never works. In order for a family to surrender, they need to be
  vastly overpowered. As in, the player could be the most dominant family in
  Ishmeria, and it still might not work. By the time the player is powerful
  enough to get Surrender to work, he or she's essentially already won the game
  anyway. Surrender is more of a time-saver towards the very end of the game
  than actually useful in getting ahead.

  The difference in power that determines the success of Surrender is almost
  certainly determined by Fame.

- Sabotage

  This command gives the player the opportunity to damage a neighboring
  territory. If Sabotage is successful, it will destroy either 1/5 of the
  enemy troops, 1/5 of the enemy's Loyalty, or 1/5 of the enemy's Protection

  The rate of success for Sabotage relies primarily on a low Domestic rating
  for the lord of the area being sabotaged, although other factors might have
  a small bearing on it.

  The computer AI doesn't seem to use Sabotage very often, and neither do I. It
  does have uses in certain situations though.

- Plunder

  Plunder is a fantastic command for the player who has rich neighbors. For
  every successful Plunder of a neighboring territory, 1/5 of both the enemy's
  gold AND food will become property of the player. It's a double-whammy of
  hurting them and helping the player. If it works once, it will work
  continuously, so keep robbing them. Success rate for Plunder is the nearly
  the same as Sabotage, although it may be ever so slightly harder to Plunder,
  as I've had some cases (although not often) where Sabotage was possible yet
  Plunder was not.

4.4 Player Commands

What I have dubbed "Player Commands" don't actually have an official name in
the game. They're represented on the main menu by a picture of an armored
helmet. Also, with the exception of Search, most of the Player commands don't
end the player's turn.

- View

  View is the all-purpose information command in the game. It allows the player
  to see statistics for his own people, his opponents' people, and stats on
  different territories.

  Initially, the game will ask to view a specific territory. Do so by using the
  pop-up pointer on the map, and the gold, food, soldiers, loyalty,
  cultivation, protection, and ruler of any territory are instantly visible.
  Clicking on a territory also gives information about the entire family
  associated with that particular land through the next set of commands.


     The View-One command lets the player take a look at a specific vassal
     in any family. Most units have three statistics: Charm, Domestic, and
     Military strength, which become visible with View. Rulers have two other
     features visible: The Fame stat and a simple graph, showing which parts
     of Gemfire the ruler has thus far collected. More on the personal stats
     can be found in the Statistics section (7.1).


     The View-Many command displays the three major stats for all vassals in
     a family. There's no new information to be found here that can't be seen
     in the View-One command, but it does display many of them at once in a
     handy list.


     The View-Land command crunches information into a list, much like the
     View-Many command. However, View-Land displays territories in a list
     rather than people. With it, all of a families territories are organized
     by gold, food, loyalty, cultivation, troops, but oddly enough, the
     Protection stat is omitted.

     5th Unit

     View-5th Unit only works for territories that the player owns. Also, it
     only views the available 5th Units for the territory that's been selected.
     There's no way to view all 5th Units in the player's empire at once.

- Change Lord

  At the Home province, the player can use this command to change the lord of
  any of his or her territories aside from Home. There are three settings that
  each territory can be changed to.


     Changing a territory's lord to "You" means that the ruler of the family
     will control the territory remotely from the Home province. In game
     mechanics, this means that the territory gets HALF of the bonuses of
     having the actual lord. Unless the head of the family has absolutely
     absurdly high stats compared to everyone else, a territory will always be
     more productive with a real lord.

     A territory controlled by You will have a portrait and name of the
     family's ruler in place of where the lord would go. So, the only way to
     see a visual difference between a remotely controlled territory and the
     actual Home province where the ruler of the family IS an acting lord, is
     the little icon below the name of the province. For Home, it is a red
     shield. For a remotely controlled territory, it's a flag.


     The difference between a lord and a vassal is that a lord controls land.
     So essentially the Lord command takes the Lord of one territory in the
     player's empire and moves him or her to a different territory. Lords
     cannot control two territories at once, so the territory that the lord
     was moved from will then become under the control of "You," until
     instructed otherwise.

     If the destination territory for the transferring lord already has a lord,
     the initial lord will be ousted and put back into the vassal pool.

     The Home territory can be shifted by the Lord command. First select the
     territory that will become the new Home province. Then, when it asks which
     lord to move, choose the current Home territory. The game will prompt
     "Okay to move Yourself?" Then select Yea. Oddly enough, changing the Home
     territory ends the player's turn, even though the Change Lord command does
     not end the turn in all other cases.


     Selecting this command brings up a list of the player's vassals that do
     not have assigned territories. The vassal will then become the new lord
     of the target province and will then be removed from the vassal list.

     Like with the "Lord" command, if the territory already had a lord in
     place, he will be put onto the vassal list in place of the one that was
     called up to rule.

- Entrust

  Entrust is the lazy man's command, although a recommended one near the end
  of the game. A territory that becomes Entrusted will give up its turn every
  month. Instead, the computer will decide what to do in that territory, if
  anything. If the player changes his mind, he can simply Cancel the Entrust
  at any time.

  Generally, the computer is an idiot. Entrusting a territory is not a good
  idea if that territory is on the border of enemy territory, or especially if
  it's early in the game. Very late in the game, when there's no point in
  developing so many states every turn, having to take 20 turns per month is
  excessive. The game will go by much more swiftly if territories are Entrusted
  late in the game. So it is a good command to have, but only if the player
  is willing to give up the usefulness of the territory.

- Search

  Search is the only Player command that ends the player's turn. That's why
  it's highly recommended that the player saves his game before using Search,
  then loads the game afterwards to get the turn back.

  The Search command does the one thing that View cannot, see 5th Units of
  foreign lands. The usefulness of that information is questionable, but it's
  merely a mask for the true usefulness of Search.

  Searching enemy territories can sometimes randomly turn up special items.
  These items will drastically increase character stats, much faster than any
  other method in the game. Those items are:

     Silver Sword          - Raises Military Strength +25
     Sword of Fire         - Raises Military Strength +30
     Sword of Victory      - Raises Military Strength +40
     Scroll of the Planets - Raises Domestic +25
     Scroll of Knowledge   - Raises Domestic +30
     Scroll of the Sages   - Raises Domestic +40
     Moonstone             - Raises Charm +30
     Dragon Jewel          - Raises Charm +40

  {Special thanks to everyone who emailed me about the Searchable items.
  Unfortunately, there are too many to list, and I don't remember who first
  told me about it.}

Other Commands 4.5

There are only a few, more self-explanatory commands out of the main four
categories, but they need to be mentioned.

- End Turn

  Press the Cancel button on the map screen to bring up the opportunity to
  prematurely end the player's turn. 3/4 of the normal commands in the game
  end the player's turn anyway, so there's a good chance that this command will
  never be needed. Cultivation and Protection take so long to develop that I
  usually spend idle turns investing in that rather than simply ending the
  turn. If the player really doesn't care about developing a territory anymore,
  he or she can simply Entrust it and forget about it, rather than ending
  turns every month. The option is there if it's needed though.

- Get Advice

  Pressing the shoulder button will bring up advice from the player's advisor.
  As I already stated earlier, the advisors are pretty useless, but perhaps
  for beginner players, they can serve as a crutch of sorts.

- Save Game

  Self-explanatory. Hit Start to bring up the Save Game option. The game has
  two in-game save slots. Saving in-game is necessary to fix glitched ROMs.
  See the ROM Glitch section for details (8.2).

- Load Game

  Available either before starting the game or by hitting Start to bring up the
  pause menu. Load an in-game save.

- Speed

  Change the message speed by going to the pause menu and selecting Speed. The
  game is very light on messages, and even after playing through the game
  countless times, I've never felt impatient enough to change the message
  speed. The option is there for those who want it though.

- Sound

  Turn the in-game sound on or off by going to the pause menu and selecting
  Sound. Console gamers will probably leave it on, but ROM players can use
  the Sound feature as a way around the ROM Glitch. See the ROM Glitch section
  for more details (8.2).

- Quit

  Nobody likes a quitter. Use this to quit the game. The game will ask if the
  computer can take over for the player, at which point the game will become
  a demo game. In a two-player game, having one player quit turns the game into
  a single-player game. Using the Quit feature isn't necessary to simply turn
  off the game. Turning off the game at any point won't harm the data.

5.0 Battle

Simply building stats and intimidating opponents isn't any fun without battles.
I'd hesitate to call Battle the meat of the game though, because there is just
too much other stuff. It is one of the most essential elements though.

5.1 Battle Basics

Battle is initiated when one territory uses the Attack command to invade
another territory. The person being invaded will have the option to Fight,
Retreat, or Surrender. Surrender isn't an option unless the person being
attacked has no men or food and doesn't have somewhere to retreat. I've never
seen Surrender work in these circumstances. Retreating will cause the
territory's lord to run to a neighboring province with his or her soldiers.
There is a chance the lord can captured by the enemy during this process. Even
if there's a healthy 5th Unit available, one side cannot enter combat without
actual troops available. If both sides are able and willing to fight, the
battle commences.

All battle takes place on a 10 x 8 grid battlefield. Every battlefield looks
different, and the geography of the obstacles depends on what part of the
country the battle is taking place in. The attackers, colored reddish orange,
start along the left edge of the map. The defenders, colored blue, start along
the right edge of the map. Both sides have a flag on the battlefield
representing their side's base, although the defenders have a wall partially
surrounding theirs, or at least a grouping of fences.

Each sides has their total number of troops divided into four equal units, plus
both sides get to pick a 5th Unit of their choosing (6.0). These five units
make up the battle forces, for a total of ten possible units on the battlefield
to keep track of.

There are four ways to achieve victory in battle:

  1. Wipe out all of the opposing team's units.
  2. Capture the opposing team's flag.
  3. Let the opposing team run out of food.
  4. Force the enemy to retreat.

As stated in the Attack command section, the formula for food needed is

   Food needed per day = 1/10 * (Number of troops + 5th Unit Strength) +1

Wherein Gem guardians are exempt from the formula since they don't need food,
but hired 5th Units DO need food. The food rations remaining on each side are
represented by the number below each side's commander's name. The number in the
parentheses is how many days' worth of food that number is.

A "day" is four full turns. Day progression can be seen by the graphic on the
top middle of the screen. In order, they are sunrise, noon, sunset, and night.
Each new day begins at sunrise.

Both sides can only use the bodies of their units and built Fences along with
natural obstacles of the terrain to block the path for the enemy to capture
their flag. Fences can be broken though, and units can be killed to clear that

The computer will retreat if it feels it is less than one turn away from being
wiped out. The computer will not retreat if it feels its flag is in danger.
Retreating becomes impossible if there are no neighboring territories to
retreat into.

In general, the computer AI will stay back and guard its flag if the player
has the clear advantage of numbers. If both sides are about equal in force, or
the computer has the numerical advantage, they will take a more aggressive
approach and advance towards the player's flag. Also, if the computer feels it
can outlast the player's food supply, they also may hang back and defend their

5.2 Standard Units

Both sides in battle will have their number of troops divided into four equal
units, one group of horsemen, two groups of knights, and one group of archers.
Any remainder of troops that doesn't divide evenly gets tacked onto the total

- Horsemen
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Short
  Horsemen can move three squares per turn. Their attack range is standard for
  melee units. They can attack any hostile unit as long as it's standing on a
  square right next to them.

- Knights (Type 1)
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  Knights can't move as far as horsemen, and they have the same range. One
  advantage they have is that they can build fences.

- Knights (Type 2)
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  These knights are exactly the same as the other group of knights in every
  way. The only difference is their graphic, so that the player can tell units
  apart from each other.

- Archers
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Long
  Archers are the oddball of the four main units. While knights and horsemen
  have the same attack power, and attack the same way, archers don't. Archers
  are slightly weaker in attack power than knights and horsemen. However, they
  attack only panels that are two squares away from them, not close up, and not
  diagonally. Their big advantage besides their range is that they do not take
  damage by attacking, like all short range units do. Their long range attack
  can also reach over other units and obstacles. For a more clear diagram of
  their attack range, see the Explanation of Ranges section (6.1).

5.3 Battle Commands

The battle commands aren't that complicated, but they bear mentioning.

- Move

  The first thing a selected unit will be asked to do is Move. It's not
  possible to do another unit action and then move. Most units can move two
  squares per turn, but some can move three. Take care in how a character gets
  from point A to point B, since it could affect which direction the unit is
  facing when they're done moving. Units cannot change the direction they face
  after they're done moving.

- Attack

  After the unit has moved (or has chosen to not move), it can attack any unit
  in his range. Attacking will change the direction that unit is facing.
  The effects of attack vary, depending on the unit and the way the unit it's
  attacking is facing. More details on that are in section 5.4.

- Fence

  Fences keep the enemy at bay, at least temporarily. They cannot be traversed
  by any unit except for Gargoyles and Wyverns, since they're extra cool and
  can fly. Fences are instrumental in keeping an aggressive enemy away from the
  flag. However, only knights can make fences. Making a Fence can fail and
  waste a turn if the unit isn't strong.

- Break

  This command breaks a fence. Any unit in the game can try to break a fence.
  If the unit isn't strong, Break can fail and waste a turn.

- Wait

  If the unit cannot or does not want to take a specific action, they have to
  choose Wait after moving.

The following commands are not unit-specific and can be accessed by hitting the
cancel button when a unit is not selected.

- End Turn

  This command ends the turn and turns gameplay over to the opposite team. The
  player does not have to move all of his of her units before ending the turn.
  The Player can keep track of which units have been used in a turn, because
  units that have already moved will be grayed out.

- Auto mode

  If there were ever a command to never use, ever, it's Auto mode. Entrusting
  unused territories is one thing, but the computer is absolutely abysmal at
  battles. If nothing else, putting the computer in charge will draw out the
  battle too long, and may cost more troops than need to be sacrificed.

- Animation

  Turn the attack animation on and off with this. The only things that could be
  considered spectacle in the entire game are the attack animations. Why anyone
  would want to turn them off, I don't know. The choice is here.

- Retreat

  If all is lost, retreat. There won't be much loss to cut though. It probably
  would be more beneficial to retreat before the battle than during it.

5.4 Frontal, Flanking, and Rear Assault

There is strategy in battle, and that comes in the form of how one unit attacks
another. No matter which side gets attacked, a short range unit will incur
damage to itself at the same time it's attacking. Long range units (like
archers) do not. Gem guardians incur a flat percentage of strength loss,
regardless of which side they're attacking.

If one unit attacks another from its front, that is called a Frontal assault.
It is the least advantageous to do a Frontal assault, as it will do the least
amount of damage to the victim unit, and it will also do more backlash damage
to the attacking unit.

If one unit attacks another from its side, that is called a Flanking assault.
Flanking attacks do more damage than a Frontal assault, and they will receive
less backlash damage as well.

If one unit attacks another in its back, that is called a Rear Assault. These
attacks do the most damage to the enemy unit while allowing short range
attackers to receive the least amount of backlash.

One should always aim for Flanking and Rear assaults. Frontal assaults usually
aren't even worth doing unless the victim unit is severely overpowered. In some
extreme instances, where one side's commander has a higher Military rating than
another, an attacking unit can actually hurt itself more with backlash than it
hurts the other enemy in a Frontal assault. 

This is all very straightforward, but some 5th Units (mainly the Gems) can
attack other units at an angle. There's a very specific method that the game
uses to determine what kind of assault is scored by angular attacks.

If the unit is attacking in an L-shape, the long side of the L will be the side
getting attacked.


Let's say this is a 3x3 cutout of the map. If unit X is attacking V, which is
facing south, it will be a Frontal assault, because X is still most turned to
V's front.

That's all fine, but what about perfect 45 degree angles?


Now, unit X is equally facing both unit V's side and front, assuming V is still
facing south. If unit X attacks on this perfect diagonal line, it will always
attack along the HORIZONTAL. So in this instance, unit X will get a Flanking
assault on unit V.

5.5 Captured Leaders

After a battle is over, the loser's leader in battle might be captured,
assuming the losing army even had a leader. Even in the case of Retreat,
there's a chance the retreating forces might have their leader captured. This
can have very serious or very fun consequences.

If the loser was trying to defend a landlocked territory (ie had no neighboring
provinces to retreat to), the chance of capturing the ruler of that province
is nearly 100%, except in the case of Eselred, who is extremely difficult to
capture until you take his final territory, if it's even possible. However,
taking a family's very last territory always results in capturing the ruler of
the family.

As long as the captured leader is not the ruler of the family, the captors
will be forced to try and put that vassal up for ransom. That ransom will
either be gold or food, food always being a higher price. I have yet to figure
the formula for determining ransom prices.

If the ransom is paid, the spoils will go to winning army's territory. If the
ransom is refused, this will bring up three new choices. If a family leader is
captured, they will forego the ransom procedure and go right to these choices.

- Recruit
  Recruit works just like Defection. If successful, the conquered vassal will
  join the player's ranks. It should be noted that Recruit has a much higher
  rate of success than Defection. Don't be afraid to try it. If the newly
  recruited vassal was attacking from a different territory, his territory will
  become property of the player as well.

  Successfully Recruiting a family leader immediately puts all of his
  territories, vassals, and armies under the player's control. Needless to say,
  it's a huge score if that happens.

- Release
  This simply gives the vassal back to his or her family without a struggle or
  ransom. Banish isn't always better than Release. A spared life could still
  become the player's vassal one day.

  As a side effect, releasing a vassal causes his military strength to go down.
  (Thanks to "i like cheeze" for pointing this out.)

- Banish
  Simply put, the vassal is exiled from Ishmeria, never to return. Taking
  enemy leaders out of the game can be fun, but it can also be overdone. Banish
  has the most impact if it's used on heirs and family rulers. If the ruler of
  a family is banished, one of his heirs will assume the throne. All of the
  qualified heirs are listed in the Non-Default Ruler section (8.3).

  If there are no heirs in the family (or they've all been banished), the
  family will disband. When this happens, that family's Gem(s) will transfer
  to whomever banished the ruler. Any lords that were in charge of one of the
  family's remaining territories will declare supreme rule of that territory
  and start their own family. Any territories that were controlled remotely by
  the Home territory will become unclaimed. So technically, any character in
  Gemfire can become a prince or princess. The player just won't be able to
  control any of those families.

6.0 5th Units

5th Units are as their name implies. All the soldiers in a battle are divided
into four units, but another 5th unit can be provided by the player. These
are either Gem guardians, hired units, or the Pastha which is neither. They
all behave very differently, and some are very clearly better than others.

Rather than having a number of men, some 5th Units (including all the Gems)
have a single unit that instead has a specific amount of Strength. Strength
functions the same way as having a number of men. The higher the Strength,
the more damage that unit does. If the number gets too low, the 5th Unit dies
or runs away. Gems cannot die.

6.1 Explanation of Ranges

All 5th Units (and all regular units as well) have an attack range that fits
into one of four types. Their area of attack can be illustrated with the
following diagrams.

"." marks the location of the attacking unit.

"X" marks the squares within the unit's attack range.

"o" marks a square that cannot be attacked.

- Long Range (Same as an archer)


Note: All long range units do less damage but do not take damage when attacking

- Short Range (Same as a knight/horseman)


- Circular Range


- Largest Range


6.2 The Gems

The ultimate collectible items in the game are the valuable Gems. The Gem
guardians are usually the first choice for 5th Unit to bring into battle. The
only reason not to is either because the player doesn't possess a Gem, or
because the Gem has been used in a recent battle.

If a Gem is used in battle, it needs to rest three months before it can be used
again. If a Gem is defeated in battle, it needs to rest five months before it
can be used again. As such, it is very advantageous to have multiple Gems, or
at least backup 5th Units.

The big downside to Gems in battle is that they lose Strength with every attack
they use. It's always 10% Strength lost per attack, even if they're just taking
out a single archer. The Strength loss is also unlike the backlash damage that
short range characters take, in that the direction the victim unit is facing
does not change the amount of strength loss the attacker receives back.

- Dragon
  Strength: 160
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Largest
  Default Family: Lankshire (Scenario 1-4)
  The Dragon is easily the best 5th Unit in the game. There are some others
  with better a better move rate, but there isn't a more raw destructive force
  than this.

- Pluvius
  Strength: 160
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Circular
  Default Family: Lyle (Scenario 1-4)
  Pluvius is possibly the best unit the player can start with. For an old
  wizard, he sure does pack a punch. One of only three 5th Units that starts
  with 160 Strength.

- Zendor
  Strength: 150
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Circular
  Default Family: Blanche (Scenario 1-4)
  The slight drop in strength in made up for by his exceptional move rate.
  Zendor arguably can be considered the best unit in the game, although I still
  think the Dragon is better.

- Empyron
  Strength: 140
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  Default Family: Coryll (Scenario 1), Tate (Scenario 2-4)
  Empyron is completely outclassed by the Dragon, Zendor, and Pluvius. He
  essentially has the move rate and attack range of a normal knight or soldier,
  although he has the strength of a Gem guardian. He's more than capable of
  holding his own against any foe once he finally gets in position to attack.

- Scylla
  Strength: 130
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  Default Family: Flax (Scenario 1-3), Tudoria (Scenario 4)
  Scylla is essentially a weaker version of Empyron. Same move rate and attack
  range, but less strength. I don't know if the game is trying to make her
  feel inferior because she's a female and Empyron's a male, but she's still
  not terrible Gem. She's just not a spectacular one either.

- Chylla
  Strength: 120
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Short
  Default Family: Chrysalis (Scenario 1-2), Lyle (Scenario 3-4)
  Well, she has good move rate. At this point though, low strength really makes
  a big difference, and her attack range isn't helping her. Chylla is sure a
  lot better than many hired 5th Units, but she won't be taking down the Dragon
  by herself in most battles.

- Skulryk
  Strength: 110
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Circular
  Default Family: Molbrew (Scenario 1-2), Blanche (Scenario 3-4)
  I actually have a soft spot for Skulryk. He's the only Gem in the game
  besides Zendor that can boast a maximum move rate AND a great attack range.
  Plus, his attack is a whirling cloud of poison with a skull in the middle,
  which is one of my favorite attacks. However, his low Strength KILLS him.
  The difference between 160 Strength and 110 Strength is a lot in reality, but
  I'd still take him over Chylla any day.

6.3 Hired 5th Units

When there are no Gems available, or the player doesn't want to waste one on
a battle where it isn't needed, hired 5th Units come into play. Unlike Gems,
the player can't use a single hired monster in any territory he or she wishes.
Hired monsters stay exclusive to a single territory, like troops. 5th Units
can be transferred from the territories in which they were bought with the
Move Troops command.

The biggest downside to hired units is that they cost gold every three months
to maintain their upkeep. The gold spent every quarter is equal to their hiring
cost, so it's okay to be cheap. If they don't get paid, they'll run away.

Also note that some of the best 5th Units in the game are humans. Humans,
however, seem to be prone to deserting a territory for no reason though.

The commentary written below the units is just opinion, not fact. Keep that in

- Bugbear
  Strength: 100
  Price: 30
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Short
  The Bugbear is a singular unit, some kind of Bigfoot-type creature. He's so
  ugly that he's almost adorable. Almost. If nothing else is available, the
  Bugbear isn't the worst choice for his reasonable price tag, but he never lit
  up my world.

- Fachan
  Strength: 100
  Price: 40
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Largest
  Well, the Fachan is not strong, and he's not the cheapest guy. He does have
  great move rate, and he has the Dragon's rare attack range. He personally
  never "did it" for me, but I've gotten feeback from multiple people saying
  that he's one of their favorite units. Give it a shot.

- Gargoyles
  Strength: 120
  Price: 40
  Move Rate: 3*
  Attack Range: Short
  The asterisk is because Gargoyles have flying ability. Essentially, Gargoyles
  are weaker, cheaper versions of my personal favorite hired 5th Unit, Wyverns.
  Read more about Wyverns to see why flying is so great, but for Gargoyles
  specifically, the price-to-strength ratio doesn't really satisfy me.

- Gunners
  Strength: 150
  Price: 40
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Long
  I cannot tell if there's an in-battle difference between Gunners, Shooters,
  and Spearmen. What I do know is that Gunners cost twice as much as Spearmen.
  Gunners are still a great unit, but the price is iffy. If Spearmen become
  available, hire them and fire the Gunners.

- Lancers
  Strength: 180
  Price: 50
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Short
  No, that isn't a typo. Lancers start out with more strength than even the
  Dragon. Although I doubt in a head-on contest that the Lancers would actually
  prove to be stronger than the Dragon. Still, they're an insanely powerful
  unit, with good move range. These guys are right up there with Wyverns for
  their usefulness as top hired 5th Units, but they're not cheap.

- Lizards
  Strength: 110
  Price: 60
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Short
  Lizards wouldn't be all that bad, if they weren't so expensive. They're not
  even close to being worth the 60 gold price tag.

- Ogre
  Strength: 100
  Price: 50
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  To put it bluntly, the Ogre is a ripoff. The Ogre is a gimped Bugbear that
  costs more, basically. Nowhere near that price tag.

- Olog-Hai
  Strength: 110
  Price: 30
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  Olog-Hai are like Orks but slightly stronger and more expensive. Like Orks,
  the Olog-Hai stink.

- Orks
  Strength: 100
  Price: 20
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  Extremely cheap and extremely weak. Orks stink. There's also a bad event
  where a hired monster will destroy part of a territory, and 90% of the time
  that happens, it's Orks. Something about them likes to rampage. So honestly,
  don't buy them. Skeletons are just as cheap and crappy, but won't rampage as

- Pastha
  Strength: 160
  Price: 0
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  The Pastha is not actually a "hired" monster, but he's not a Gem either. He's
  somewhere in between. The Pastha is the only monster that is totally on par
  in attack power with the Dragon. These guys are very strong. Unfortunately,
  for some reason they also have the Gem guardians' one weakness, the 10%
  strength penalty for every person they attack. They have minimal move and
  attack range, which essentially makes the Pastha a stronger version of

  Obtaining the Pastha is easy enough. Simply develop territories until good
  events start happening. Eventually a Pastha will agree to come to one of the
  player's territories. I accumulate a lot of these guys, which is good because
  they're gone forever after using them in just one battle. On the positive
  side, they don't cost anything to hold onto, and they will never abandon
  their territory. Pasthas are REALLY, REALLY good. Hold onto them.

- Pikemen
  Strength: 150
  Price: 40
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Short
  Pikemen are like lancers, but weaker and cheaper. All in all, Pikemen are
  great 5th Units, but if money is no object, there are a couple better

- Skeletons
  Strength: 100
  Price: 20
  Move Rate: 2
  Attack Range: Short
  Well, Skeletons are... cheap. They're definitely easy on the pocketbook, so
  for the player that can't afford to buy a decent anything, these guys are a
  lot better than having nothing, but they're also incredibly lame.

- Shooters
  Strength: 150
  Price: 35
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Long
  Shooters are like Spearmen and Gunners in Strength, range, and move rate.
  Shooters are also cheaper than Gunners, but more expensive than Spearmen.
  All in all, they're still great to have around. Dump them if Spearmen become

- Spearmen
  Strength: 150
  Price: 20
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Long
  For a mere 20 gold, Spearmen are the best cheap unit in the game, bar none.
  They're also in the running for the most useful 5th Unit, period. If there
  are some up for grabs, take them. They, like archers, do not take damage when
  they attack other units. They're basically an extra set of archers, but with
  a better move rate.

- Warriors:
  Strength: 180
  Price: 60
  Move Rate: 3
  Attack Range: Short
  Warriors are essentially lancers but more expensive. They're still great
  units though. Get them if it's affordable and lancers aren't available.

- Wyverns
  Strength: 150
  Price: 60
  Move Rate: 3*
  Attack Range: Short
  The asterisk by move rate is because Wyverns have a movement ability unique
  to only them and Gargoyles. They can FLY. They fly over obstacles like
  fences, trees, and rivers. Sneaking up on enemies is a pinch with Wyverns,
  and they're quite strong too. In short, I love Wyverns. They're quite pricy
  though, so I usually can't hold onto them forever unless I'm in a very
  wealthy territory. On the plus side, Wyverns lack the rebellious nature of
  human 5th Units, which are the only other hired 5th Units that really stack
  up in usefulness against the Wyverns.

7.0 Events

7.1 Good and Bad Events

To the first-time gamer, Events may look like random occurences with minor
bonuses or demerits. However, while the effects are somewhat randomized, the
frequency of events is not that random, and the player's control on these
events can be harnessed to his or her advantage.

The almighty Develop command, which should be used regardless of its effect on
events, encourages good events to happen. Development is the sign of moral
rulers in Gemfire, and morality is rewarded. Constant development across the
player's many territories will have good things occuring on a constant basis.

Bad events sometimes are not avoidable. Sometimes they are. The Protection
stat decreases the frequency of bad events in that territory, as well as
lessens the negative effect of those events. A high Protection stat has its
uses, in other words.

Events that affect the lord of a territory that occur in a province controlled
by "You" actually affect the ruler of the family. This provides the only good
reason in the game to NOT have a vassal in charge of a territory. Having
remotely-controlled territories developing like machines is the fastest way
to pump a ruler's stats.

Here's a list of the good and bad events, and their effects.

Good Events

- "Kind redcaps cast good spells in (territory)."
  The territory's Cultivation stat increases.

- "A unicorn empowered the ruler of (territory)."
  The lord of the territory gets a boost in his or her Domestic and Military
  stats. One of my favorite events.

- "A Pastha offered to fight for (territory)."
  The Pastha becomes an available 5th Unit in that territory. See the 5th Unit
  section for details. (6.3)

- "An elvish troubador sang praises of (territory)."
  That territory's Loyalty stat inceases.

- "A Leprechaun left a small pot of gold in (territory)."
  The territory gets an unimpressive amount of gold.

- "A Far Garta gathered food for (territory)."
  The territory gets an unimpressive amount of food.

- "A fairy rounded up troops for (territory)."
  The territory gets an unimpressive amount of troops.

- "A Gwraig brought a charm to the ruler of (territory)."
  The lord of the territory gets a boost in his or her Charm stat.

- "Airial calmed stormy winds headed for (territory)."
  Increases Protection.

Bad Events

- "Durahan rode through (territory) with the Shadow of Death."
  The territory's Protection stat falls. Same as a Banshee.

- "Black Annis frightened the people of (territory)."
  The territory's Loyalty stat falls.

- "A Banshee brought an evil omen to (territory)."
  The territory's Protection stat falls. Same as Durahan.

- "Mischievous pixies dug up the fields in (territory)."
  The territory's Cultivation stat falls.

- "The (5th Unit) went on a rampage, ravaging the land in (territory)."
  The territory's Loyalty, Cultivation, AND Protection falls. Mega ouch. This
  seems to happen most often in states with hired Orks, although I've also seen
  Olog-Hai go on a rampage many times.

- "Hobgoblins stole from (territory.)"
  The territory loses a small amount of gold.

- "Auguskiegies gobbled up food in (territory)."
  The territory loses a small amount of food.

- "A shrieker scared troops in (territory)."
  The territory loses a small number of troops.

- Heavy Snow
  Randomly affects the northern territories. Occurs once per year in the month
  of December. Causes damage to Permanent State Stats.

- Flooding
  Randomly affects the Eastern and Southeastern territories. Occurs once per
  year in the month of June. Causes damage to Permanent State Stats.

- Fire
  Randomly affects the Western territories. Occurs once per year in the month
  of September. Causes damage to Permanent State Stats.

- Earthquake
  Randomly affects the Southwestern territories. Occurs once per year in the
  month of March. Causes damage to Permanent State Stats.

- Plague
  Much like the other seasonal bad events, except Plague occurs every season,
  and can affect any territory. It strikes in December, March, June, and
  September. States are affected negatively. Damn that plague.

7.2 Death

One special event that does not occur randomly is family death. When a
character reaches the ripe old age of 75, they die. Sometimes they die a few
months sooner, sometimes a few months later, but they die.

Character stats will increase slightly each year until the age of 60. After 60,
a character's stats will start to decrease until they die.
(Thanks to Black Turtle for pointing this out.)

Death can technically be prevented. When a character is scheduled to die,
there is a small chance they won't die that particular month, but the
likelihood of death does not decrease on a monthly basis. So to keep someone
alive at the age of 75, the player would have to save the game every month and
reload at the end of a turn if the vassal in question dies.

So what happens when a family ruler dies and there are no heirs left? Well
first of all, there is no chance in Hell that this event could occur unless the
player were blatantly manipulating the game to make it happen. The game would
have to go on for almost 30 years for something to happen, when it takes 7-10
years to win the game.

The same rules apply as if all the heirs had been Banished. The lords become
rulers of their own new families, and remotely ruled territories become
unclaimed. What happens if that family had a Gem? That, I'm not sure of. Since
no family would be directly responsible for the crumbling of the family, I am
not sure where the Gems would go.

8.0 Additional Things to Know

Game mechanics aside, there are a few tips and strategies to keep in mind.

8.1 General Tips

- Defect early and defect often.
  Almost as soon as the player starts the game, it's possible to obtain one or
  two new territories simply by defecting unloyal lords. Some lords are rather
  stubborn but might change their mind later after the player has obtained more
  power. Try to defect people at least once every other year.

- Check food prices every month.
  Unless the player wants to make the game harder for himself, there's no
  excuse for not checking the Trade prices. Sell most of the food when prices
  are high and spend most of the gold when prices are low. It fluctuates from
  month to month sometimes, so don't miss a crucial price change.

- Don't attack a territory unless there will be enough troops left to defend.
  Gemfire is like a game of chess. Knocking off another chess piece just
  because the player can isn't always the best idea. Being left vulnerable is
  worse than not attacking. Make sure there are enough troops built up to
  defend the territory they're coming from and the territory they're going to.

- Bide time to develop the land.
  There should almost never be a turn wasted in Gemfire. Cultivation and
  Protection only cost 10 gold each, so if there's nothing better to do,
  keep developing. The extra return from food come September will be worth it.

- Don't deal with the enemy Gems if it can be avoided.
  The reason other 5th Units in the game exist is because Gems have to take
  time to recharge between battles. If possible, wait until the enemy has
  already been in a battle with another player. Eselred's army is a lot easier
  to deal with the month after he uses his Dragon Gem to fend off an attack
  from someone else.

8.2 The ROM Glitch

Anyone playing Gemfire on their SNES console can skip this section.

For those playing on an emulator, there is a particular part of the game that
makes Gemfire glitch and can freeze gameplay. It is not the fault of currupt
ROMs, simply an error that can occur. There is an easy fix for it though, so
anyone can play Gemfire normally on an emulator as if they were playing on
their console.

Anytime a computer player attacks another computer player, the sound may stop
on some emulators. While the loss of sound may not seem like a big deal, it
signifies that the glitch has kicked in. While the sound is frozen, if the
player either tries to attack another family, or another family attacks him or
her, the game will freeze. That is to say, the screen will go black before
battle starts and there's no way around it but to reset the game.

There's are two simple ways around this though.

If the game has already glitched, but the player is about to enter battle in
one way or another, save the game using the in-game save feature. Save Stating
will NOT fix it. Then, reset the game. Load the game manually, and the sound
should be back the way it's supposed to be. Voila, the player will be able to
attack his enemies once again.

An even easier way around it is to simply turn off the sound before the game
glitches, using the in-game sound option on the pause menu. That is, turn off
the sound while it's still working. Don't wait until after the sound has frozen
to turn the sound off. Otherwise, the glitch needs to be fixed with the first
method. Turning off the sound at the beginning of the game means the game will
never freeze. However, the player will also be deprived of any of the game's
music and sound effects. Keep that in mind when choosing a method.

8.3 Beat the Game with a Non-Default Ruler

Finally mastered the game? Tired of playing with the same old people? Try this
nifty little trick. It's possible to beat the game with someone other than
Erin, Ander, Garth, Lars, Erik, Leander, Terian, Gweyn, Loryn, or Eadric.

If the ruler of a family is banished from Ishmeria, a successor will then
become the ruler of said family. There are only a select number of people who
are eligible to take over a family. This is signified by small icon on the
character's profile that resembles a branch of a family tree. This means they
are related by blood to the ruler of the family. If the ruler of a family is
banished when there are no successors, however, the family disbands, and new
families will rise up in its place, headed by a former vassals. If this is the
player's family, that means Gameover.

So all one needs to do to get a new ruler is have their leader banished. The
problem with this is that the computer almost never banishes people they
capture. The solution is to start a two-player game. Have player one be the
family that has the person you want to control. Have player two be some other
family, hopefully one that's very close by. Save the game right when player two
is next to player one's home province. With player one's leader, attack player
two with ONE soldier. Then let player one lose the battle. If player one's
leader isn't captured in the process, load the game and try again. Once the
ruler is captured, banish him. Player one will then be asked to select a new
leader from its list of successors. After that, have player two quit the game.
Then, the computer will take over for player two, and the player will be once
again playing a single-player game, except with a brand new ruler.

The following people can be used to beat the game with this method:
- Wolfen (Lyle family, Scenario 1-4)
- Keyla (Lyle family, Scenario 2-4)
- Randal (Lyle family, Scenario 3)
- Pender (Blanche family, Scenario 1-3)
- Anselm (Blanche family, Scenario 1-2)
- Karl (Blanche family, Scenario 1-4)
- Arkin (Blanche family, Scenario 2-3)
- Elgis (Chrysalis family, Scenario 1)
- Sarthe (Chrysalis family, Scenario 1)
- Fuster (Molbrew family, Scenario 2)
- Bryan (Tate family, Scenario 3)
- Anise (Tate family, Scenario 3)
- Alex (Tordin family, Scenario 3)

So for all the equal opportunists out there, Gweyn isn't the only female
capable of reuniting Gemfire. Keyla and Anise are also up for the challenge,
even though Anise is only 15 years old at the start of her game!

9.0 Miscellany
9.1 Legal Stuff

This FAQ is Copyright 2004-2005 by me. Any use of this FAQ without my
explicit permission will be in a world of trouble, and I will find out if that
happens. Gemfire is the Copyright product of KOEI and distributed by Nintendo.
I am not in anyway affiliated with KOEI or Nintendo. This FAQ is solely for
non-profit use.

9.2 Emailing Me

I'd love to hear any commentary or questions about the FAQ. I can be reached
at tasteless@gmail.com

If there is something missing or wrong with the FAQ, please feel free to email
me and I'll try to fix it. Also if you have a question that is not addressed in
the FAQ, I will try to help you answer it. Also, if you wish to post this
guide somewhere besides GameFAQs, please email me and ask permission. I'll
probably say yes.

Do NOT ask me where to get a copy of the ROM. These emails will go straight 
into the trash.

9.3 Version History

- 12/24/04 - v1.0 First edition of the FAQ is submitted to GameFAQs

- 12/30/04 - v2.0 Big update so soon after publishing. Fixed a bunch of typos.
  Reworded some of the intro. Added four more events. Added the "Captured
  Leaders" section. Added the "Death" section. Made a big correction on the
  Loyalty stat. Added an important footnote to the Search command. Fixed info
  on changing Home Province in both the Attack command section and the
  Change Lord command section.

- 11/15/05 - v2.1 Based on feedback, I've made several important corrections.
  I've added facts about releasing vassals and aging. I also finally have the
  list of Searchable items, which is the most important omission from the FAQ.
  With that added, I am now considering the FAQ to be complete, the ultimate
  source for how to master Gemfire. This means this could be the last update.

9.4 Special Thanks

Thanks to Black Turtle for giving me some corrections on remotely controlled
provinces and the Red Cap event. Also thanks for telling me about aging stats.

Thanks to "i like cheeze" for telling me about how releasing vassals lowers
their military strength.

Thanks to the MANY people who emailed me about the Searchable items.

Special Thanks goes to KOEI for making such a fantastic game.

Thanks to Blockbuster Video for first introducing this game to me 12 years ago.
I have played this game to death since then, and this FAQ would not be here if
it weren't for that franchise.

Thanks also goes out to GameFAQs for being one of the greatest resources on
the internet.

Gemfire FAQ (c) 2004-2005 John "TIDQ" Robertson