mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So, last weekend I spoke at a local sci-fi con (about actual science) and attended some of the workshops before vegging out in the anime room and watching Bodacious Space Pirates.  One workshop I attended was simply called "Combat for Writers," whose appeal to me should be obvious.  Trained martial artists (Western, mostly) acted out various scenarios so we scribbly types could see things play out in 3D.  Pretty cool. One attendee wanted to know how an unarmed "street thug" or two would fare against any random person with a sword and moderate training.  In the opinion of the workshop leader, it was an easy answer.  Your stereotypical low-level thugs, he said, operate on the following principles:

1) They work in gangs to outnumber their victims
2) They don't expect anyone to actually put up a fight

It's not about actual combat, it's about numbers and terror.  They're bullies punching down.  A decently skilled sword user walking into a street tough scenario with the intent of giving them a fight has everything on his/her side.

That got me to thinking about the oh-so tiresome opening chapters to most FE games, which tend to consist of BANDITS!  and MORE BANDITS! and DIFFERENT BANDITS!!! (apologies to [personal profile] hooves ).  But even given FE's bandit/pirate/brigand thugs are armed with shitty axes, having them as your opening opponents really is ideal to ease the player and cast into the game.  Your OP crutch character (Seth, Evayle) can dispatch a BANDIT without breaking a sweat.  Your moderately experienced characters (Christmas Cavs, someone like Chrom or Sigurd) can take on bandits and triumph without much trouble.  And these unskilled bullies are ideal as a whetstone for your genuine nooblets like Eirika and some of the random kids you get in opening chapters (baby cavs, baby archers, baby peg knights).  Sure, your lordling might get killed in Chapter One (Leif, I am glaring at you), but overall your playable cast should fare well against no-name loser thugs who are used to pissing on unarmed civilians. They're punching back, even if some of them are punching up.

I think pondering this helped give me clarity on why the H5/Lunatic modes of the DS/3DS era feel so unfair and un-fun to me.  Why are these damn no-name bandits so ungodly hard that even someone like Jeigan or Frederick can't take them down in one hit?  Actually, even FE11's H5 I can kind of understand, since these particular pirates have overtaken an entire country.  But those stupid bandits in FE13's opening chapter?  Having them be anything other than a cakewalk for even a fraction of the Shepherds pits storyline sense against gameplay mechanics in a way that just doesn't sit right with me.  

IDK.  There's got to be some ideal "this is hard as hell but fun" balance that takes the good stat-based parts of FE11's H5 and the good bullshitty parts of
Thracia 776. Right?
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So, back in the heady days of 2009, I started writing something called "Steadfast Companion."  It rose out of Abel's character ending in FE11: "He was to be married; but in the end his fellow knights were his most steadfast companions."

Given what I knew of Abel, and because FE12 hadn't been announced yet, I thought FE11 might be some weird standalone reboot in which Abel backed out of marrying Est or something, and the story in question (let's call it SC#1) was about that.  It was just a little ambiguous one-shot about Abel, Cain, and Est.  Anyway, it never got finished or published because I got caught up in more ambitious ideas.

Discussion of the Hardest 'Fic Ever )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Took a stab at the ending-sentence meme the rest of y'all are doing and realized a few 'fics in I end things with dark/light imagery waaaaay too often. C'est la vie.

Anyway, how 'bout this: closing sentences to WIPs I would rather like to finish some day?

Stuff. Spoilers for 'fic that may not get published, in a sense. )

The last of these being a piece of period-appropriate sentimentalism IMO.

mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
We all have our "types."  Some people like peppy mages, some like dark mages, some like "noble" paladins, some like thieves, some like swordmastery-myrmidon types even though any continuum with Navarre at one end and Mia at the other makes no sense.

And one thing I am absolutely a sucker for, apparently, is a particular kind of FE squishy boy.

mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Technically speaking, "Infinite Regalia" contains a wealth of information that can be used for meta on Fire Emblem's bad endings, afterlife and resurrection meta, and stuff like this. I just can't bring myself to discuss it because it's presented in a manner that jacks the Disturb-O-Meter past FE5 levels of Fucking Disturbing.

And FE5's "Deadlords" are really, really disturbing.

The text is all here. Basically, the interaction with the Gen 1 characters is mostly funny while the interaction between the Deadlords and the Gen 2 characters is anything but, and the overall effect is more like the modern tongue-in-cheek self-aware zombie phenomenon. I don't even know where to begin applying this stuff.

Then there's the Lost Bloodlines series (the Marth vs Seliph stuff), and I don't really know where to begin with that, either. It's kind of all over the place. In some places the Einherjar show glimmers of awareness and I get the idea there's supposed to be something more to them than just puppets (Chrom and Co. also get that feeling-- it's pretty explicit). In some places they feel like one-dimensional actual cardboard figures they're purported to be (I don't like how Ethlyn's written, for a start). Some of the Einherjar feel pretty alive and, I don't know... themselves? I think the "new" characters from FE11/12 feel pretty vivid, which may be telling. They were, after all, made up out of whole cloth. Some of the Jugdrali sound more alive than others. IDK.

Good stuff and bad stuff )

Really the Einherjar are really the best weasel device in fandom. If something in the DLC bolsters your pet theory about a beloved NES/SNES character, you can point to the DLC and go "See? See? Word of God!" If you don't like their new speech quirk or personality transplant, you can wave it off with, "Eh, it's not really them-- it's an artist's rendering of the real thing."

And then, after all, this is merely canon fanfic, right? Some scriptwriting intern could've been plopped down with the 20th Anniversary Artbook and told to compile a three-to-five word description of every relevant character and then produce dialogue based on the lists. So you get a fairly bland Arthur without his moments of towering rage and this really wussy Nanna who doesn't match up to her FE4 counterpart. Not to mention an Ethlyn who apparently belongs in the kitchen. So yeah... they're artists' renderings.

mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So, riffing off [personal profile] amielleon 's post about Lefties in Elibe, Magvel, Tellius, and Ylisse, here's what I found poking through art for FE1-5 and FE11-12...

First off, keep in mind there is a lot, and I mean a lot, of OA for the Jugdral games-- with different artists over a longish span of time covering two different games. So while we have a lot of data to go on, it's not necessarily consistent. The high number of physical/magical combo units in Jugdral also means that you have multiple poses of characters with different kinds of weapon, and the unit you take to be a potentially left-handed staff chick might be shown waving a sword in her right hand someplace else.

So, what did we find? )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Since Ammie and Raphi both provided such, here's some noodlings for Archanea/Barensia/Jugdral

Under a cut for modesty's sake. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
My word, I've some catching up to do reading everyone's posts.

For 2011's Meta Month I did a post on the issues surrounding bodily resurrection in Fire Emblem. Today I want to address the other half of the equation-- how does the spiritual side of resurrection work? Basically, where do our heroes go when they die, and how do we get them back? For this, I'm mainly going to be looking at the good, Naga-approved resurrection as featured in Archanea, Barensia, and Jugdral, rather than the sketchy Bramimond kind or the outright unclean grotesqueries of Magvel-- though Elibean resurrection a la Bramimond is certainly relevant.

So, where does the soul, or the essential Aegir that makes a person who they are, go when someone dies in Fire Emblem? We know a bit about what various characters believe (often revealed in death quotes), but aside from Seliph's oddball encounter with his parents in Chapter 10 of FE4 we don't have a lot of direct evidence for what becomes of humans. If anything we know more about the well-nigh-indestructible souls of dragonkin, which can persist for millennia and reincarnate even when the physical body is thoroughly trashed. FE13 may tell us even more, but we ain't got there yet.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Wow, Cain.

I think you just won the "Character With No Life" award for all Fire Emblem.  Given some of your competition, that's damned impressive.

In a horrible way.

And FE11 gave you a backstory of such potential.

No, really.  I think I may have to take back everything I ever wrote about you.  That's, like... 35,000 words?  
45,000?  Yikes.

OTOH, after reviewing my Rody-centric stories I decided he was actually pretty much on the money and it's Cecil(le) that's wobbly in light of New Canon.

Maybe I don't want an FE4 remake after all.  :P
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
10) A "serious" Smash Bros story that's like, in-character and canon-compliant and explains things, man.

9) Boy, Minerva and the Whitewings do make some pretty hot Sailor Senshi.  

8) Reincarnation fic.  As in, characters with a suspicious resemblance to characters from other FE games really ARE just that, in some fashion.

7) That plotbunny featuring MyUnit!Chris as Ranma and Palla, Catria, and Est as the Tendo sisters.

6) Lingering illnesses in 'fic-- too much "consumption," not enough venereal disease.

5) Accident at the cloning lab.  Starring Anna.

4) A Western inspired by the Dylan song "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts."  Camus was the Jack of Hearts.

3) The drunk!fic to end all drunk!fics.

2) Evil Overlord Ephraim.  With sparkles.

1) Eva Peron!Serra brings down Ostia.

[No, really.  All of these reached the planning stage and some of them got to a second draft.]
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Went out of town this weekend.  It was great.  Back to reality tomorrow.  Damn.

Anyway, when FE11 introduced reclassing as a gameplay element, a lot of the fanbase went apeshit and not in a positive way.  Reclass was spoken of as some kind of abomination; I think the cherry on the lunacy sundae was the person who claimed it was actually unjust to the characters to take, say, the elderly priest Wrys and make a swordfighter out of him.

Well, two games later and reclass is entrenched enough that the FE13 supports actually make accommodations for the possibility that characters are no longer in their starting class by the time a conversation is unlocked.  I also don't hear people screaming about it ruining the characters... though I do think that there is a valid point to the idea that reclassing dilutes a character's identity.  I can make Swordmistress!Elice and Priest!Cain, but that's not... well, canon.  It makes no sense in terms of canon.  However, IMO the "everyone makes with everyone" pairings for FE13 dilute character identity, too-- the same as in FE4.

Which is what this is really about.  

If we got a full-scale FE4 remake, some form of reclass would be helpful in fixing the game's lack of balance.

Ideas and stuff. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I was gonna do that fanfic meme that's been going around but my answers are boring and evasive.

On an IM the other night, Ammie dropped a revelation: Soren, in an "our world" modern AU, would vote Republican.

Fanfic and contemporary politics: You're doing it wrong )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I'd been planning this for a while too, but... life.

And death!

Presenting Mark of the Asphodel's favorite Fire Emblem death quotes!

Read more... )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So!  Some oddly familiar stories might be appearing on FFNet soon.  That's because Swanchika, an FE fan from France, approached me to ask permission to translate some one-shots into French-- stories like "An Extension of the Weapon," "Twilight of Aurelis," and "Grains of Light."  As I know that the early FE games do have quite a following in Europe, and I know how frustrating it is to dig for material on certain characters, I agreed to this translation project provided that original credit was maintained, the original story link was provided, etc.

[Also, the "Tale of the Tiara" incident was fresh in my mind.  I reviewed the response that the TotT author sent to Ammie and decided that none of those personal objections were relevant to me.  I don't have a lovingly-maintained personal website to archive my stories in a proper context.  Anything I write is already at one remove from the original, either via a fan-translation or an official adaptation, both potentially problematic.  Etc.]  

Anyway, Swanchika has already published the first translation: Une Extension de l'Arme.  

More of these will go up as Swanchika's time and enthusiasm allows.  Swanchika will be spreading the Beck love with a translation of "Bullseye" by PlasticBottle next.
mark_asphodel: (Dead Heero)
I apparently have writers' block, so here's some fanart.  That way I can close the tabs on this browser.  It's all SFW.

That's Princess Badass to you.

Awesome crossover mage buddy action. <3

Altenna with her daddy.  No, not Cuan.

I guess that duel got a little intense.  What's with the red eyes?

I thought this was the picture of Finn in the Yied that helped inspire "Grains of Light," but upon reflection and checking the dates, it's not.  Guess that one is lost to time.  Fitting.

Maybe we'll see more interest in Alm and Cellica now?

Oh, look, it's a Beowulf/Lachesis picture for once.  Doesn't really say Beo to me, though.  I don't think he'd go wide-eyed like that from getting kissed by a princess.   

That's a bit more like it.  Dude knows what he's doing.

You want the wide-eyed blushy-blushy reaction, go here.

At first I thought this was a strange pic of Leaf and Janne.  Then I realized it was Rody and Cecil.  <3 <3 <3


I'd explain why relative levels of technology can't actually "date" FE games in some kind of unified chronology, but why bother?  
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
In my SRS BZNS Valencia fanfic, I characterized Valencia as the New World, a place of maize, sweet potatoes, beans, and alpacas, as opposed to Archanea's Old World with its wheat/rice/nuts&chickpeas diet (and no alpacas).

Looky here.

If that's what everyone thinks it is, I'm having a good laugh down here on the floor.  The resemblance wasn't as obvious with the actual FE2-era maps of Valencia.

Logical flaw here, though.  It took Marth & Friends a solid year to fight the War of Heroes.  The Civil War of Valencia all took place in the year 606, and the Peg Sisters had time to go there, fight in it, and get back in time for Est to marry Abel and help MyUnit train recruits in the FE12 Prologue.  Which also takes place in 606.  I'd followed Hitomi's line of speculation that Valencia therefore had to be tiny, about the size of the isle of Dolhr/Macedon.  If these continents are the same size, well... not really buying the logistics here.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So, now that we have Holy King Emelina (no, really) and her brother Krom both sporting markings that resemble the decorative headgear used by Tiki and Nagi, it appears the Holy Blood concept from FE4/5 is back in business.  (Tellius fans-- it's kind of like the Branded, except instead of being hated, you're the most specialest people alive.)  That's the assumption, anyway-- Krom is gonna be one of the warriors "marked by the dragons," and that thing on his arm is the mark.

Time for a trip down memory lane...

Contradictions and weirdness )

So, what does this say about Krom and Emelina?  Maybe nothing.  But if FE13 is indeed taking place on the same planet as FE1/2/3/4/5, and evidence is mounting that this is the case, then perhaps the implementation of this "dragon mark" will echo earlier games.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Archanea gets slagged off a lot for not having "good" or "well-developed" characters.  Er... I'll grant you there are a lot, and I do mean a lot, of characters who didn't have much dialogue save a death quote up until FE12.  And I remain skeptical of the brand of development presented in FE12.

But, as a counter-example, may I present Character #3: Palla.

I dare you to say she's a lousy character. Triple-dog dare you. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I'm so glad I waited to write this one.

I was having second thoughts, you see.  Spending a great deal of time comparing the merits of "favorites" and the reasons why they rank can lead to second-guessing.  I was starting to wonder if poor Leaf really belonged "below the cut," down at #12, and if I shouldn't rearrange a few other things while I was at it.  But then, something happened yesterday that affirmed that yeah, I really do adore this character.

#4: Marth

Fire Emblem's Pikachu. And then some. )


mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)

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