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Given how difficult a game Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is, anyone who sits down to tackle the challenge will probably need all the help they can get. Fortunately, there are a great deal of secret characters that can be unlocked, many of whom will be tremendous assets to your army and bolster your troop strength considerably. Note that there are also several characters who will join your party automatically in each of the four main parts of the storyline. They will not be covered here. Instead, we'll be focusing on the allies that can be missed, those Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn characters that won't join you unless you meet the specific criteria necessary to recruit them.
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There are no characters that can be missed until Chapter 3 of Micaiah's saga, as she starts off with Edward and will later be join by Leonardo, Nolan, Laura and Sothe. In the third chapter, you can recruit Aran the soldier if you speak to him with Laura the priestess. In Chapter 4, you need to view a conversation from the base camp in order to add Meg to your platoon, and doing so in Chapter 5 will net you Volug, a wolf Laguz. In the sixth chapter, you'll need to make sure that Fiona the lance knight survives, because she'll be added to your roster in the following chapter if she does. Finally, in the seventh chapter of the first part, speak to the young spellcaster, Tormod, with Sothe. Doing so will cause the fire sage to join your team along with his partners, Vika and Muarim.
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Parts II & III
There are four secret characters that can be unlocked in the second part of Radiant Dawn, and two others in the third. Using Marcia the falcon knight to speak with dragon-rider Haar during the prologue battle will net you one of the more powerful soldiers in the game, so make sure you do it. In Chapter 1, speaking to Heather, the rogue, with either Brom or Nephenee will allow you to recruit her. The final two characters, Danved/Devdan and Calill, both require you to participate info conversations from the base screen. The former occurs before the third chapter, while the latter must take place prior to the Part II finale. In Part III, the only two characters that are missable are Janaff and Ulki, two hawk Laguz who are returning characters from Path of Radiance. To get them, use either Ike or Reyson to speak with each of them during Chapter 7.
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As the game advances towards its conclusion, there are a few additional characters that can be added to the team just prior to the endgame. Perhaps the hardest character to acquire, at least the first time through the game, is Stefan. In order to add this trueblade character to your team in Chapter 3, you need to move Micaiah to a specific tile on the field. Counting from the bottom right, move to the space located either 11 or 12 spaces up and 1 over to the left. In the fourth chapter of Part IV, speaking to Duke Oliver with Rafael and he will join your army, and in the fifth, you can pay Volke 3,000 gold to add the assassin to the team. Before the Final Chapter, speak with Renning at the base camp to recruit him, and proceed to the third part of said chapter. Allow Nasir and Gareth to survive and they will join you, rounding out your team as you proceed to the final battle for the first time.
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Before you read any further, please be aware that there are Radiant Dawn plot spoilers ahead. If you haven't beaten the game yet, proceed at your own risk. Okay, now that that's covered, we can continue. After beating the game and starting over using the Clear Data save, there are two additional characters that can be recruited, and their presence changes the storyline significantly. In the 13th chapter of Part 3, Prince Pelleas is ordinarily killed in an attempt to alleviate the blood contract. However, if you've beaten the game already, you can actually spare him instead. If you do, he will automatically join the fight as a dark sage in the second chapter of Part 4. The final character is a bit more complicated. First, you need to deploy the Black Knight in the final chapter of Part I. Next, engage the Black Knight with Ike in Part 3, Chapter 7, making sure that both characters survive the battle. Successfully complete both of those tasks, and in the second part of the game's last chapter, you will see a special scene involving a memory of Ike's. If everything goes right, Lehran should join you for the final battle.