FateAnon's Guide to The Holy Grail War!

Dec 5th, 2016
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  1. This paste is meant as a sort of reference point for those who are new to the world of Fate/Stay Night and are reading along with my greentext The Canterlot Grail War. This is not an end-all-be-all guide, moreof a decent starting point that will explore a variety of topics and how they relate specifically to The War our little Anon is taking part in.
  3. I should probably preface this guide with a little piece of knowledge that becomes a bit more important the more Fate products you read/watch. The Fate universe isn't really the Fate universe. Rather, the Fate franchise takes part in a bigger universe dubbed The Nasuverse after it's creator Kinoko Nasu. This includes most of his other works, most notably Tsukihime and Kara no Kyōkai.
  5. However even though this story takes place in the Nasuverse, I'm going to keep this reference guide as focused on Fate and The Holy Grail War as much as possible.
  7. So, without further ado, lets get some obvious questions out of the way!
  9. Q: What is The Holy Grail War?
  11. A: The Holy Grail War is a competition between seven mages to decide who is the most worthy to claim The Holy Grail for themselves. The competition is best described as a battle royale where there can only be one or no victor. The one who claims The Grail is granted one wish of their choosing with no restrictions and VERY FEW limitations. To ensure that the battle for The Grail is worthy of it, all seven of the mages are gifted a Heroic Spirit to serve as their familiar, more commonly known as a Servant. In order to win The Holy Grail, both master and servant must make it to the end of the war alive. Humans cannot touch The Grail with their own hands and need their servant to claim it for them. Servants cannot maintain their form near The Grail without a master. Once victorious, both the master and the servant get their own wish.
  13. Q: Who are these Mages?
  15. A: This is a bit difficult to explain, so Imma break it down into several parts.
  16. The time before the modern day was known as The Age of the Gods or The Age of Divinites. Back then magic was extremely powerful and plentiful. Magicians could use it freely and the legends people think of today as myth actually took place, though at times to varying degrees.
  17. The time of of the modern day, magic is slowly dying in order to make way for science and technology. Magic still exists and it's influence over the world is still very strong, however it's far less plentiful. Magicians still exist, but there are only five of them at any given time. Instead a modern day mage is called a Magus. A Magus doesn't TECHNICALLY control magic itself, rather they are masters of the scientific practice of Magecraft, or Thaumaturgy. Magecraft combines scientific method with magic rituals and incantations to make the use of magic easier in a world where less of it exists.
  19. Q: Umm...Okay?
  21. A: TL;DR Magic is dying and the only way for modern mages to really control it besides being one of the five powerful and baller as all hell Magicians is by combining magic rituals with fucking science.
  23. Q: So, how do I become a Magus?
  25. A: With proper guidance almost anyone could become a first generation magus. It's all about opening up your own magical circuits, the system of nerves that control the flow of mana in your body. The thing is, first generation magus might as well be a synonym for "weak as piss". You'd be lucky to be able to muster enough mana to learn and fuel one spell really well...Usually, at least.
  27. The common way for most Magus to gain their strength is through inheritance. Your parents have the ability to pass on their own magical circuits to their little ones. This almost always is the eldest, younger siblings don't inherit any circuits and are usually treated like shit by their magus parents. Anyways, the more generations of inheritance under your belt the more circuits you have, the more circuits you have the more mana you have. Just some reference facts, the average Magus of the day as somewhere around 20 circuits. Our dear Anonymous, as a fifth-generation Magus, has 30 circuits.
  29. Q: Circuits sound complicated.
  31. A: Kind of, the biggest problem is that in spite of being the driving force behind a mage's power, there's surprisingly little concrete information behind them. The only other thing of note besides what's already above is that magic circuits can vary in quality. You can damage circuits from overuse and they can be taken care of and groomed to allow for better magical energy output per circuit.
  33. Basically, the biggest thing to take away from circuits is that they are the reason why having a long family line is so important. In a world where magic is on the decline being able to control greater amounts of what magic is left is seen as important by The Mage's Association.
  35. Q: The Mage's Association?
  37. A: When magic started to decline, it was decided by a council of mages that it was probably for the best if normal people were kept separate from the magical world. The Mage's Association is a worldwide organization that most mages belong to that are devoted to making sure the modern world and magic remain separate and to help the world's transition to a world without magic...At least, on paper. In reality, The Mage's Association is a collection off elitist mages that only really care about staying on top with magic for as long as possible, all while searching for a way to reach The Root.
  39. Q: What is The Root?
  41. A: Simply described, The Root is the source of all magic. Magicians draw their magic from The Root itself which is what allows for their ease in controlling magic. It the goal of all active Mage Association members to find a path to The Root. It is said a Magus who can physically touch The Root could ascend to godhood. Many magus follow the pretense of wanting to do so in order to restore magic in all it's glory to the world.
  43. Q: So, back to The Holy Grail War...
  45. A: Yeah, got a little off topic there. Anyways, a lot of mages join the war in order to wish for a path to The Root in order to attain godhood so it's still relevant. Back to more immediate concepts, however, let's talk about Servants!
  47. Q: So, who are the Servants?
  49. A: Servants are powerful heroes of legend summoned by The Grail. These heroes are a strange and fluid mixture of who they were in real life and the myths and legends around them. Sometimes their myths and legends CAN be the absolute truth about them and often is but a strong enough part of their legend that didn't happen to them can still manifest itself as a power, strangely. As examples of these heroes, think King Arthur, Hercules, Alexander the Great or Robin Hood. These Servants are summoned into separate classes by The Grail.
  51. Another quick note is that Servants are also generally stronger the more famous their legend is, or if they interacted with or fought another hero with a strong legend. A good example for both would be Hercules and Diomedes of Thrace.
  52. Hercules and his trails are renowned worldwide, making him one of the strongest servants someone could hope to summon. Diomedes of Thrace is significantly less well known for his minor role in Hercules' journey but part of his legend including being able to wrestle with the demigod which would add to his strength.
  54. Q: Okay, explain the classes to me.
  56. A: Allrighty, here we go. We'll start with the three "Knight" classes, all of whom boast magic resistance of varying strength.
  58. The Saber class is defined by it's skill with a blade and it's all around high base statistics save for magic. Many mages consider this to be the strongest overall class of Servant due to lacking any major weakness besides lacking range, something the master themselves could help make up for. Most Sabers also tend to come with some sort of powerful burst attack though this is less common knowledge. Besides their magic resistance Sabers do not have any unique skills.
  60. The Archer class title is slightly misleading, as any Hero with a strong legend revolving around projectile weapons can be summoned into this class. A bow is not necessarily a requirement. Archers tend to possess powerful Noble Phantasms and make ideal scouts. They generally have high agility and have the unique skill of Independent Action. If a servant's master dies or loses all of their command seals, most servants are only capable of sustaining their form for seconds at best. Archers, depending on the strength of their Independent Action skill, can stay active for days or even weeks. This can make them a slippery threat to deal with as they can reestablish pacts with other master who have lost their servants.
  62. The Lancer class are heroes of the spear. They are usually extremely agile, even more so than the Archer, and are just a step below The Saber when it comes to all around attributes. Lancers often have lethal single target Noble Phantasms, making them a terrifying opponent to face 1v1. There's not much else to say about Lancers, they are highly effective servants but tend to be less flashy then their fellows.
  64. Moving on from the knight classes, we have the four cavalry classes!
  66. The Rider class come with the Ride skill, surprisingly enough. Seriously though, Riders are not to be fucked with. They tend to come with a high ranking Ride skill which gives them the ability to tame and ride all sorts of mounts and vehicles. The least impressive examples is horses, but more often it's things like magical beasts or chariots being pulled by divine, battle-crazed oxen covered in lightning. These mounts are very high ranking Noble Phantasms, however activating their full power is a HUGE mana investment. Most master can only support one or two uses of said Noble Phantasm with their own magic without resorting to less savory approaches towards gaining power.
  68. The Caster class is usually a magician from The Age of the Gods, making them much more reliable magic support than all the masters in the war. Their powers tend to be the most variant among the servants as, well, they are magicians. They tend to be less confrontational than their fellows, especially considering three of the other classes always come with magic resistance. They come with two skills. Territory Creation, the ability to create a workshop and shape land to suit their sorcery and Item Construction, being able to create magical tools and charms.
  70. The Assassin class is a bit strange as not many Assassins tend to be heroic in nature. In Fate/stay night The Assassin is always taken by one of the Hassan-i-Sabbah, the original organization that the term Assassin derives its name from. However, this is a Fuyuki City Grail War specific rule and I've always thought it was kind of...well, stupid to limit the options of possible servants in this role.
  71. Anyways, Assassins specialize in covert operations. They are masters of trickery and stealth and tend to make their goal to kill the master as opposed to the servant. This is because Assassins are kind of trash when compared to other servants. They have low base stats with middling agility in comparison to Archer and Lancer so they make poor combat servants. Their special skill is Presence Concealment which allows them to hide their nature as a servant. High ranks in this skill can even allow servants to pass for normal humans.
  73. Finally, we have The Berserker. These terrifying power houses are forced under the effect of the skill Mad Enhancement when they are summoned. In exchange for loss of their sanity (and usually a noble phantasm or two) all of their statistics save for magic and luck are raised. The higher ranking of Mad Enhancement leads to higher stat bonuses but also higher insanity. Still, Berserkers can be a complete nightmare to face in combat and tend to boast the highest kill counts of the war. However, their great power comes at another cost besides the servants sanity, that being the master's sanity. Masters of Beserker are also slowly effected by their servant's insanity, though this effect can be slightly mitigated if the master is already insane strangely enough.
  75. Q: Are there any other classes?
  77. A: Well, yes. These seven classes are the most common classes but there are two other classes that can be summoned. If and when they are summoned they tend to swap places with one of the Cavalry classes. They are known as non-standard servant classes.
  79. The first of the extra servant classes is Avenger. Avengers are unique in that as a class, they have nothing that defines them in terms of stats or abilities. The commonality between Avengers is their legend, or their purpose. Avengers are heroes with a strong desire for revenge against something or someone. They do have their own Unique Avenger skill but it's more to mark them as an Avenger, as certain heroes could be summoned as an Avenger or another class.
  81. The second of the extra servant classes is The Shielder. These are the ultimate defensive servants, boasting a high endurance and having many skills and abilities focused on protection. Not much else in knows about Shielders however, as there has only ever really been one servant who has been summoned into the role with one other servant having been confirmed as being able to be summoned into it.
  83. There is a third non-standard servant class, but it is a very special case and is not summoned as one of the seven servants participating in the war. If The Holy Grail has concerns over the war and wants to exercise a bit more control, they can give body to The Ruler, an eighth servant who's job is to mediate the war for The Grail itself. The Ruler must be a heroic spirit with no intentions on claiming The Holy Grail, and tend to be people who were revered as saints in their lifetime. Most Rulers tend to be fairly powerful but even a weak Ruler could mediate The Holy Grail War. This is because The Holy Grail gives The Ruler commands seals for ALL of the servants fighting in the war, two for each one. This gives Ruler a lot of control over the other servants and can make them a fairly unique factor in any war they are summoned in, but their appearance is very rare.
  85. Q: You mentioned something about stats?
  87. A: Because Nasu is a giant fucking nerd practically all The Servants in the fate universe can be broken down on a stat sheet. This sheet can be pretty easily broken down into four separate areas; Their base statistics, their skills, their weapons/tools and their Noble Phantasms.
  89. Statistics are your basic RPG affair with some small differences. Before I go into a brief breakdown I would like to say that I believe that on a servant's stat sheet a rank of D is the equivalent to a normal human's peak performance. i.e. A servant with a D in strength is about as strong as an exceptional human athlete in peak condition. This can give you an idea of just how much faster and stronger servants are to humans.
  91. First we got Strength. Pretty much what you would expect, the raw strength and power behind a servant.
  93. Next is Endurance. How much of a beating a servant can take or how long a servant can fight for without tiring. Note that having a high endurance will not save a servant from killing blows, there is a separate skill for that.
  95. Third is Agility. Used for both speed and reaction times. Tends to be more important than strength in melee combat, though a combination of the two makes for the deadliest of close range foes.
  97. Fourth is Mana. Used to indicate how much magical energy they can store and how well they can use it. Not indicative of being a magic user, just of how well they use the mana within them.
  99. Technically sixth but I wanted to talk about it first is Noble Phantasm. I'm not entirely sure why it's on the stat sections but a servant's rank in this is the rank of their highest Noble Phantasm, or in some cases the range from their weakest NP to their strongest NP i.e. C-A
  101. Fifth is Luck. What is normally the filler stat in most video games and RPG systems that use it, Luck is arguably the strongest stat in all of Fate/Stay Night. While having a bad luck score does not actually mean having bad luck having a good luck stat can give a servant all sorts of extra abilities. In most cases a high luck stat manifests itself as a sixth sense for the servant, warning of danger before it happens. This doesn't sound that bad until you remember just how strong spidey-sense actually is. Saber from Fate/Stay Night uses this stat to save her life two times off the top of my head in Unlimited Blade Works alone, and in one of those cases her luck allowed her to dodge a supposedly undodgeable attack that was meant to pierce her heart. The other example of luck is the more boring just plain lucky kind, but it's still powerful in that it's essentially a writer's tool to get a servant out of jail free one time. Strange circumstances or long shot gambles can be more certain because a servant has a high luck stat.
  103. In short, luck is OP especially in the hands of an already powerful servant. Saber doesn't need luck to be a powerhouse, but just by having it she becomes that much more impossible to deal with.
  105. Another thing to note about statistics is their ranking system. Fairly simple at first; E,D,C,B,A. However, there is also two separate types of rankings. First, we've got + and -'s. This is usually there simply to note that a servant is capable of amping one of their stats to 11 for a brief power boost. For example, C+ means that while a servant normally has a C in the stat, something they can do can elevate it to a C+ which is a bit better than a B rank in the stat. - is the same but in reverse, usually from a skill granting something in exchange for lowering stats. There is also the EX rank, a rank not to be overused when making servants. An EX rank is a rank that says that a servant has so much of this stat that putting it in a ranking system is meaningless. A servant with an EX rank is in a league all of his own, so much so that numbers expressing his advantage mean nothing. I CANNOT STRESS HOW UNCOMMON EX RANKS ARE/SHOULD BE. It's a common mistake for custom servant makers to slap EX ranks onto their cool new servants. The only place EX ranks tend to be slightly negligible is in the Noble Phantasm category, as it's simply marking a single technique or item that is the best of it's kind.
  107. The second part of a servant's character sheer is Skills. Skills can be thought of as passive abilities, indicators of knowledge or just a way to mark a servant as a certain class or breed of hero. I won't go into too much detail here since any fate character sheet comes with a description of each skill and what it does.
  109. The third part is their weapons and tools. Unless said weapon or tool itself is a Noble Phantasm, it goes here. If the NP is a technique used with the sword, the sword itself still goes here. Usually comes with a brief description along with any other noteworthy powers.
  111. The fourth part is their Noble Phantasms, which I have just realized I never thoroughly explained. A noble phantasm is an exceptionally strong ability, technique, weapon or tool that is usually central to the servant's legend. This is Lancer's Gae Bolg, Saber's Excalibur and the like. A servant can have multiple Noble Phantasms though this is more common under The Archer and Rider classes...Well, at least it's stated that way. In reality most servants tend to have at least two, though it's common for one to be weaker than the other or for the two to be separate techniques of the same NP.
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