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)
What it says on the tin.

Alright.  General Seth of Renais, aka the "Silver Knight," appears at first glance to fit neatly into an archetype box.  Older sources will assure you that Seth is "an Oifaye," aka "a Jagen that stays good," but these are now classified as fictions based on a misunderstanding of Jagen's usefulness in FE1 and an inflated sense of what Oifaye can do in FE4.  Stats aside, though, he's definitely appears of a sort with Oifaye, not to mention FE3's Cain, FE5's Finn, and Seth's successors Titania and Frederick in FE9/10 and FE13.  All of 'em are veteran fighters who fall somewhere in their mid 20s to mid 30s-- definitely with an edge of age and experience on the teenaged main cast, but not, you know, Jagen-Mycen-Marcus levels of old.

Seth is definitely top dog among the knights of Renais-- here he is with the resident red/greens, Forde and Kyle, plus Forde's little bro Franz, the requisite n00blet knight.  One would assume Seth to be the eldest of the four by some years.

Except there seemed to be some textual evidence suggesting that Seth might actually be younger than Kyle (and presumably Forde) and must be one hell of a prodigy.  This hypothesis was advanced by korsriddare back on the old magvel comm, and I'll let his evidence speak for itself.

Now, FE8 never gave us concrete ages for anyone but Myrrh and Dozla, so this could certainly be true.  Seth arguably looks older than Kyle'n'Forde, but art can be misleading.  Also, Seth-- unlike all the rest of the Jagens/Oifayes/whatever you wanna call 'em, can get with his leading lady, which might imply he's actually rather close in age to Eirika.  Wouldn't hang my hat on that one, though-- FE doesn't shy away from May/September kinda relationships. (Oifaye has a game-endorsed pairing with a lil' pegasus knight who's probably twenty years younger than he is, and let's not even get into what Frederick can do.)  

So really, it's down to sifting through these little clues from the support conversations.  Does the death of Forde'n'Franz's father ten years ago really imply Seth was a mere apprentice at that time?  And was Kyle truly a fully-fledged knight, possibly Seth's senior, at that same ten-year timeframe?  

Well, I ran the Kyle/Syrene supports by the friendly local FE Japan translation tumblr, and it looks like NoA look a few minor liberties with the text. Nothing earth-shattering to the meaning of the conversation, but the original text just doesn't state that Kyle was a knight ten years before the start of the game.  He was a horseman, yes.  Running errands, yes.  Being very brave, yes.  A knight, not necessarily (and Syrene apparently wasn't either but that's not clear).  Kyle could just as likely have been an overly-conscientious n00blet himself at the time.  He was delivering a letter, fercryingout loud.  Even in "peaceful" Magvel I'd hope they weren't wasting the time of a fully qualified knight with the royal mail service-- there's brigands and pirates and whoever the hell keeps hiring Jehannan mercenaries to worry about.  But an apprentice of, say, thirteen or fourteen who knew which end of the lance to hold and wasn't inclined to get into trouble might well have been entrusted to deliver a letter by himself.  Same goes for Syrene, who could've been a Florina/Shanna/Karin type at the time, able to fly and fight but not properly a knight.   

[It was Kyle's statement about "I had no idea you'd become a knight!" to Syrene that got me on this track again.  This Frelian chick bailed him out of trouble... and wasn't a knight.  Just some random teenager with weapons and a flying pony? It made me wonder if Kyle himself weren't exactly a proper knight in shining armor at the time of this bandit encounter... and, per NoJ, he may not have been.]

In conclusion... d00d, this is Magvel.  At the end of the day we still don't know anything!  We don't know whether or not Seth was still a "mere apprentice" when Forde'n'Franz's father died.  We don't know whether or not Kyle was a qualified knight during that same time period.  We don't know how old they are in relationship to one another or to anyone else beyond that yes, they're both clearly younger than Dozla and Myrrh.

Unless Seth's not fully human and is actually, like, sixty or something.  At this point I'd believe almost anything.

mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
HEY.

I finally finished that Journalist!Innes w/ mandatory Innes/Gerik content AU.  It's only a year past the deadline.

OK.  It's set in a 1920's Magvel, except Magvel's recast as New York City, and there are mashup references to other gameverses and Magvel fandom in-jokes.  And stuff.

I wrote most of it on the train from Chicago after having a block on it for a year.  I really wanted to see Innes holding a very silly drink.
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)
A compendium of hypotheses on why Renais Twins!Mom is so absent the kids never even mention her despite this being a franchise that reveres heroic parental units and especially mommies.

1) She died in childbirth (because twins) and Fado, like Teddy Roosevelt, never mentioned her again. The twins don't even think about her.

2) Sloppy scripting.

3) Fado, like Eph, was "reckless" in his youth and knocked up some random village girl who sent the twins to court but refused to show up herself.

4) Since Renais is a sexist place, as we have determined elsewhere, the princess of Renais donned a false beard and passed herself off as a warrior king. Nobody asked too many questions about the twins 'cause nobody wanted to know.

5) TwinsMom got bored with Fado and ran off with a charismatic traveling monster hunter who turned out to be an imperial prince of Rausten. They had L'Arachel together and died hunting monsters; Fado kept quiet about the whole business to avoid a war and the entire subject of TwinsMom was taboo. Then Ephraim married L'Arachel and oh noes DEMONSPAWN.

I'm down with Option #5. :)
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So, last night (early this morning to be exact) I dreamed I was in Magvel, 20-odd years after the War of the Stones.  There was some big celebration sort of thing going on, and it all looked very Ren Faire so it might've been a joust.  In attendance were the two teenaged sons of King Ephraim-- one boy of 16-17 and the other about 12-13 years in age.  I was mostly watching the elder kid, who was prancing around in an outfit very close to Ephraim's in FE8-- the differences were along the lines of the differences between FE7!Eliwood's costume and FE6!Roy's. This kid had a notable style of speaking-- declamatory, you might say, with a British accent suitable to the modern BBC (this means something specific-- compare 1950s broadcasts in BBC English to what's aired today).  I got the impression he was trying to emulate his father in some manner.

No, I did not see Ephraim.  No, they didn't look like real people-- everyone was in FE8 artwork style, even if they were 3D and walking around.

Here's the kicker-- the kid had orangey-red hair, eyes to match, and everyone knew he wasn't technically Ephraim's son.  Turns out this kid was adopted from Tellius, and somehow Ike the Hero was involved, but as to his parentage... you've got me.

Confession

Nov. 14th, 2012 08:37 pm
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I still think the FE3, Book II "War of Heroes" storyline is the best story that Fire Emblem's ever done.  FE8 has the better cast, IMO, and FE4 had a more devastating singular twist, but FE8 owes a LOT to FE3 in terms of plot and FE4's falling action... leaves something to be desired.

No amount of FE4/5 geeking or exposure to later games has really dulled my affection for FE3.  And I can't wait to try the FE12 translation.  :)

-x-

Mini-confession: I always did suspect in a gut-feeling kind of way that Celice and Leaf ultimately had a cataclysmic falling-out and that Celice had a pretty unhappy time of things at the end, but after looking over the oddities of FE4 it's completely entrenched in my headcanon.  It just feels that they were laying the groundwork for a place that canon never actually went because of time/money/whatever.
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)
Shouzou Kaga's final Fire Emblem game was the ambitious and underperforming Thracia 776.  With former driving force Kaga gone to pursue other things, FE went in a new direction-- handheld games instead of console games, with a new system of support mechanics.
 
Cut for length, again )

Since FE8 and FE7, with their similar support systems, were the first to be released worldwide, many fans have the idea that these A-B-C supports with paired endings are simply how Fire Emblem works.  Clearly that is not the case.  You may like it the best, but that doesn't make it the norm.  

The next continental saga challenged that assumption, hard.
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)
Still screwing around in the Manster District because the Second Gen boys keep getting slaughtered by Muhammad's crew.  Admittedly I haven't played since my last update because I've been running on too little sleep to contemplate playing a strategy game, but today's sortie didn't go so well.

Lester just isn't that great.  And he's the product of a conventional, bow-happy match (Aideen/Midayle), not one of my weirdo pairings.  His strength is meh and he's pretty fragile, so who cares if he inherited the Hero Bow from his dad?  He's not killing anything with it.  Delmud I've already complained incessantly about.  Skasaher doesn't die as readily as those two but he's also annoyingly fragile... but at least he can dodge enough.  Two full chapters into Gen 2, and I feel like I've got a pretty crap army; Celice outshines his peer group by a massive margin, Fee remains impressive and reliable, and Aless and Shanan deliver the goods on the offense and not-dying front.  Mostly, I'm feeling a lack of the front-line offense that characterized Gen 1.  I have all these units who can creep about in the shrubbery and deliver stealth kills, but God help them if they're attacked by more than two enemies in one turn.  

And seriously... whenever archetype fiends get pedantic and start saying things like, "Seth isn't a Jagen, he's an Oifaye," they are being extremely unkind to Seth.  Oifaye's OK, and it's good to have a mounted unit who has a snowball's chance on the front lines, but he ain't Seth.  

-x-

I've been playing a Seth-solo run of FE8 for laughs.  I hear it's like an entirely different game, one you basically can't lose.  I'm suspecting that will indeed be the case.  

-x-

ETA: Blume continues to not impress me with his competence.  He whines to Ishtar about losing Tinny.  Dude... you're not 100% evil and on some level you seem to have given a damn about Tinny, but bringing up the whole part about her mother dying as a means of cementing her loyalty was a tactical error given the way her mother, well, died.  I mean, c'mon, dude.  I bet there's some current best-seller on the Jugdral Times booklist called, like, 50 Things to Not Say to the Holy-Blooded Superchild Who Is Not Really Your Daughter (and Can Potentially Kill You), and what you said to Tinny there is #37.
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: (Ephraim!)
I wasn't going to touch this subject, but damned if it doesn't keep coming up in different forms of media.

I like Seth as a unit and as a character.  Like him a lot, in an "I can potentially identify with this guy kind of way."  And from the beginning, I kind of connected him with Cain in the way that Cain's shown in FE3, where he's not Red Cav anymore but is instead a trusted senior knight/advisor, a right-hand-man, the guy Marth leaves in charge of Altea when Marth goes off chasing trouble.  [Orson is the Abel to Seth's Cain, with even worse results than Abel saw in FE3.]

But I stopped writing and exploring him and basically just left him alone for a while, because... reasons.  The things I liked about Seth, and found interesting about him, didn't seem to be the reasons that fandom overall was interested in him, plus I caught a general sense that Seth was overemphasized into a "semi-protagonist"[*]-- placed above his station, so to speak.  And, since I liked Seth but didn't LOVE him, it wasn't worth the grief.  I could just write about Cain or some other character that filled that same niche to me.

Part of it is, I think, the essential difference in the knight/Lord dynamic between Eirika's Route and Ephraim's.  Eirika/Seth is a problematic pairing to me, but I really dig the interaction between reckless Ephraim and cool-headed Seth... and not in a sexual way (no thanks).

Japanese FE fandom had a very useful tip on understanding Seth, knight of Renais.  Ammie helped translate it (and much else) for me.  

In which we are NOT touching the psychosexual angles of FE8 )
mark_asphodel: (Ephraim!)
This has been percolating for some time-- since I got my hands on the new Akaneia artbook, really.

If you had to pick one "hero" for Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, which twin would it be? I realize the natural answer is, "They both are!" but bear with me here. If you needed to pick one single represenative for the Magvel saga, whether for purposes of discussion or for inclusion in a Dissidia-style fighting game, which twin would it be?

I think the side of fandom we're familiar with (herein called E!fandom because the common language used for fandom purposes is English) might choose Eirika. She's the first Lord character playable in the game. Her route seems to be more popular, or at least the one enthusiastically recommended to newbies. EirRoute appears to be the prevailing influence on the E!fandom take on supporting characters like Seth. And-- not inconsequential-- the female twin provides a bit of gender balance to make up for the male heroes of the other continental sagas (Marth, Celice, Roy, Ike).
mark_asphodel: (Dead Heero)
So, I've been scrounging around in the FE department of pixiv, looking for something to satiate my Jugdral fix.  It's amazing how we learn to recognize characters (favorite and otherwise) based on cues-- color schemes, hair styles, design elements, proportions.  Take this mini-celebration of red and green cavs that Sriya and Raphi reblogged on tumblr-- fans know who's who and who's what.  To non-fans, it might look like four variations on the same two characters.  Raphi and I also had a conversation recently regarding a mis-labled picture of the Senior Jugdral Lord Trio (Sigurd, Cuan, Eltoshan) which was identified as the Junior Lord Trio (Celice, Leaf, Aless).  Believe me, I can see how people make the mistake (especially with Elto and Aless).  There are simple things like "Cuan wears black, Celice has a headband," and there are these other nuances of what defines a character that we as fans internalize and learn to apply across all kinds of different styles and media.   

It allows a Marth fan to recognize Marth when he's sporting Ephraim-teal hair, while an Ephraim fan still zeroes in on Ephraim! when a non-fan wouldn't know him from Geoffrey.  It allows someone looking for pictures of Tate with a a certain red-haired cavalier to glance past pictures of, say, Catria with that other red-haired cavalier.  It enables someone to tell Lugh from Lleu from twenty paces away-- even if they're identically dressed in that picture.  And good fanart, IMO, somehow captures that essence of a character, communicating the crucial personality difference between Lleu and Lugh, even in low-res and at thumbnail size. Recognizing fanart relies on "anchor" points in the way that fanfic does, IMO.  The personality traits of the "adorkable" mage or the brooding turncoat wyvern rider come through somehow... or perhaps get delightfully subverted in ways difficult to express in text.  Either way, we know "our" favorite characters when we see them. 

And I don't just mean in flattering situations.  We "know" them in the skeevy pix and the wtf pix, the ones of Hardin and his men celebrating Halloween, or of Dr. Celice getting naughty with Nurse Yuria.  That's why they work-- we might have to think for a couple of seconds about what the hell the picture is about, and what the artist was smoking, but we know exactly who that is in the cow costume.

And when fanart doesn't work for me, it's not always a question of aesthetics, exactly.  I just don't think that some fanart shows anything close to the character I like-- you know, the reason I'm hunting fanart.  I could point out lots of "eh, no" artwork depicting Marth, but I'll illustrate my point with something less obvious.

See this.  A pretty youth, messy hair somewhere between lilac and blue, details of outfit vague.  Which Fire Emblem cutie is it?  

Any takers?

Well, it's Finn, but I wouldn't have known it for certain without cross-checking the name.  I mean, it's not a displeasing picture by any means, but if there's only the vaguest suggestion that it's Finn and not some kid from some random anime series or whatever... well, it doesn't work for me as fanart.

But this pic is by CrossEMPIRE, whose stuff I don't care for in general.  Most of it is sketchy, messy, sloppy, with arbitrary choices about recoloring characters' eyes and such.  There's a lot, and I mean a LOT, of art on CrossEMPIRE's old site, but only a fraction of it works for me.  
 
Take this one.  (Not graphic, but fairly suggestive and arguably not the best thing to be viewing at work or at Grandma's house!).

Adult male with a young woman over one shoulder.  The impression I get from this image is that the girl is being hauled away for a spanking.  Something like that.  The guy this time is at least recognizable as Finn, but the chick over his arm is... I dunno, Lily Evans Potter maybe.  Oh, wait, that's supposed to be Altenna with green eyes?  Why green eyes?  Where's her headband?  Where's her attitude?  Seriously, what?

Artistic license is one thing.  I prefer dark-eyed Camus to blue-eyed Camus, but it doesn't make the dark-eyed version "better" or more canon.  But if I can't tell who I'm looking at, much less what I'm looking at, without some detective work, something just seems a bit off.  And I pretty much feel that way about all CrossEMPIRE's work, from the Michalis/Minerva pix through all the FE4 stuff through the Elibe artwork.  I don't feel that I'm really looking at Hector chillin' with Eliwood.  It's a red-haired dude and a blue-haired dude, and... eh.

Back to pixiv for lulz, I guess.      
mark_asphodel: (Ephraim!)
Yeah, I'll get to the top four characters on that meme sometime... soonish.

Published WIP )

Anything not mentioned isn't discontinued, just on the back burner with minimal heat.

Unpublished WIP )

-x-

Found something interesting in the candy aisle at Holiday Market yesterday: Bavarian Malt Candy.  It's great; I like barley-sugar candy anyway, but this comes in nice irregular chunks instead of smooth lozenges and the taste is rich and a little smoky.  Nice stuff.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I appreciate Fire Emblem's Old Guys.  I don't mean the Marcus-types (though they're good too), or the ancient sage-types, but the older dude, usually heavily armored, that you get at the middle or end of the game.  The one with crap stats and an affinity for small children.  I almost always use Lorenz in Shadow Dragon because I think he's a great character and his story is heart-rending.

The Lorenz archetype persists through the series-- Hannibal, Douglas, Tauroneo-- but Magvel presented the best of the lot, IMO.

Coming in at #9... Duessel.

No, really. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 Boy, [personal profile] raphiael  has some good memes going on her tumblr, and some really good material posted to cover them.  I stole this one, too.  

Top Eleven Fire Emblem Characters.  The catch here is that I'm not bringing headcanon or ficcing potential into it, so a character whose appeal to me derives largely from what they could be instead of what they are on the screen (Lilina), or who annoy me onscreen but are redeemed by meta and fanfic (Eirika) will not place highly.  Or place at all.

#11: Serra and Lute (tie)

Words of explanation )

I would probably not want to spend time with either of these girls in real life, which is why they're down at eleven.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
One thing I see Ike criticized for, a lot, is his distinct lack of prejudice.  To have Ike emerge from a world as screwed-up as Tellius with such an egalitarian attitude (especially when he grew up around people like, uh, Shinon) strikes a good many fans as unrealistic.  Fair enough, though really it kind of goes with the role of being the Game Hero, at least as far as Fire Emblem is concerned.  (Eliwood's own egalitarian bent could be deemed equally unrealistic, but I guess the "common touch" thing goes over better than "the not-racist in a totally racist world" angle.)  

It wasn't motivated by species hate; that xenocide kind of just happened along the way. )

TL;DR, cut Ike some slack, I guess.  At least in a big-picture sense, as you can still argue that the characterization doesn't entirely work.  But he's hardly an isolated case.

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