mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I never much liked Celtic myth, despite being 1/4 Irish and having it shoved at me periodically as part of my heritage. My mother, who had everything from The Golden Bough to Hermes Trismegistus on the bookshelf in her bedroom, didn't much care for it either. I recall one conversation we had when I was about 13 or 14 wherein we agreed that Celtic myth was basically about beating people up-- the more people you beat up, the bigger a hero you were. I was far more interested in myths that praised wit and cunning-- the exploits of Theseus and Odysseus, Raven, Anansi, Daniel and Joseph from the Old Testament. Even famous Celtic stories that involved trickery, like the one where Fionn mac Cumhaill decides to fuck with Cuchulainn to get out of fighting him, didn't seem especially clever or admirable. I mean, Cuchulainn's dumb as a rock anyway, so fooling him isn't much work. Also, biting someone's finger off is a pretty nasty trick, but if your magical powers are stored in your middle finger I guess it's a valid target.

I think the other thing I didn't like is I didn't understand how justice worked in these stories. It didn't seem to, really. With characters like Odysseus and Joseph, there was an actual payoff in their exploits. Live right, honor the gods, outwit your enemies, persevere during your hardships, and you get rewarded in land, women, sons, renown, etc. Sure, things often fall apart a generation or two down the line (or in the case of Theseus, in his own lifetime) but there seemed to be an actual, you know, life lesson involved her. Teacheable moments and (mostly) happy endings.

A petrified brain in a slingshot )
mark_asphodel: (Dead Heero)
This is kind of a follow-up to some musings on AUs over at [ profile] amielleon’s journal (locked post).  AUs are great fun, after all... and greatly frustrating.  To keep it simple, we'll just look at AU adaptations of individual games or gameverses, not mash-ups/crossovers.


Ammie was talking about world-transposing AUs-- the different kinds and the pitfalls thereof.  On the other hand, how about AUs that instead extract a key theme or concept from the canon and run with that, tailoring everything to fit the theme?  I guess this sort of AU might run into the “fridge magnet poetry” kind of world-transposition AU that Ammie identified, except the amount of game material that gets shaved away in the course of the adaptation makes it something other than world transposition, IMO.

For example, take my failed NaNo project from last year:  the FE3/12 War of Heroes storyline recast as a modern day corporate takeover drama, focusing on the themes of loyalty and betrayal, and cutting all the religious elements out entirely.  No magic.  No dragons.  No endgame with Gharnef and the captive women.  Just a straight-out political struggle for dominance, with no room for two winners.  It follows the plot, or at least the initial, surface plotline.  The bulk of the characters have their roles to play.  But without the spiritual dimension to Marth’s victory over Hardin (and Gharnef, Medeus, etc), the meaning of the whole piece shifts.  Hardin putting a revolver to his own temple in the CEO suite of ARC Industries sort of captures the idea of the Dark Emperor standing at the throne in his ruined palace, daring Marth to come and kill him... but not quite.


Or, you could take a facet of the spiritual aspect to the War of Heroes and run that.  Strip it down to that confrontation between Marth and Hardin, with Hardin as a hard-driving political reformer, and Marth as the charismatic preacher-boy (think Eli Sunday without the malice) who first bolsters and then frustrates Hardin's ambitions. You could set it in an early 20th century milieu of city bosses, Prohibition advocates, and radio... or a 1980s atmosphere of Wall Street, Iran-Contra, and televangelists.  Or Renaissance Florence.  Or 1750s England.  Or...  

A core component of FE3/12, the affection and trust and shared sense of purpose gone horribly wrong, would be there, and the “magic” might even be there too, in a way, but maybe some other things wouldn’t.  Like pilgrimages to the Ice Temple to retrieve sleeping princesses.  Or massive armies sacking entire countries.  Instead of a full-scale war, you would end up with a more intimate kind of struggle-- There Will Be Blood, with or without the bowling alley brawl as its denouement.

[Ten to one, the bulk of the readers would end up sympathizing with Hardin.  Especially if his actual wartime atrocities don’t end up so atrocious in translation.  Then again, often a single murder can alienate readers more than the wrecking of an entire nation.]

Or focus on something else and make that the core of the AU: the human plight of the Grust kiddies and the inner conflict of their supporters.  The “failed state” theme that surfaces again and again in the War of Shadows.  Or the deeper thread running under it all, the folly and corruptible nature of humanity-- which arguably gets as close as you can to the genuine core of the storyline (especially wrt FE12).  All of these are true to the source material.  None of these are the exact story we get in the games.  But why do we want that exact story when we already have the games (in some fashion)?

And you can do the same for any of the other games, too-- the “obsession” angle in FE8, or the “failed heroes” motif in FE4.  Grounding an AU in one aspect of a game and doing it successfully may well make for a better story than trying to transpose the entire game, lock-stock-and-barrel, and making a partial success of it.  And someone may squawk because you omitted their favorite character or prevented their OTP from happening, but hey-- there’s always another AU to write.  Right?  Write.

mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
First off, a word about marriage in general in Fire Emblem-- there seems a fair amount of evidence that formal marriage, though practiced across classes, is more of a concern to the upper and titled classes and that overall the inhabitants of Fire Emblem 'verses are quite comfortable with the practice of shacking up.

Read more... )

 As I said in the part about Elibe, the unconventional forces are the ones who carry the day.  They might end up remaking their continents from the family unit on up-- or, after a few generations, may just settle back into the ways of the ruling classes they decimated back in the war.  Marriage-markets, trophy wives, brothels and all. 

ETA: LJ's formatting is so jacked up these days...
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)

An obvious question in analyzing Fire Emblem is, “Where is everyone’s parents?”  We’ve discussed this before, so I’ll only touch on it in passing.  The next question that comes to mind, from a world-building perspective, is, “Where are all the other kids?”

Read more... )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Bleh.  Two consecutive overnight trips (one business, one pleasure) in the space of four days has really worn me out.
Ideas I considered for meta month but was too tired to type up this weekend:

1) MyUnit Chris vs Tactician Mark, as characters and gameplay elements
2) More thoughts on AUs and how to work them
3) Evidence for and against arranged marriage in Fire Emblem
4) Child mortality in pseudo-classical/pseudo-medieval worlds

If anyone wants to actually see any of these thoughtstreams, just ask.

Off to play with my new Touchpad.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
"You’ll be my master strategist, and I’ll be your peerless warrior!"

Thus, a million and twelve visions of Tactician glory were born.

I think it's worth contemplating exactly who, and exactly what, is speaking this line at the outset of FE7.  The speaker is a teenaged girl who's lost her family, her place in society, her entire network of associates, and who has been getting by alone for several months.  I've seen a lot of straight-faced interpretations of this line, when actually, it's pretty fantastic-- and appropriately so.  Again, Lyn is a grieving and lonely teenaged girl who just had some stranger fall into her life with positive consequences.  A little indulgence in fantasy can be justified.

But I do feel that line ought to be met by the player with something less than a solemn nod and the taking of the sentiment to heart.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
In addition to everything else wrong with it, Archanea has a little issue of "barbarian" tribes.  These are apparently not the same thing as the formerly enslaved plainsmen of Aurelis.  Barbarians are a particular issue in western regions of the archipelago, extending up through the desert; Grust is cited as former barbarian land, as King Ordwin drove them off.  Grust seems to remain something of a demarcation line for civilization, if the "frontier" part of Lena's "frontier angel" sobriquet is to be taken literally.  

The barbarians are defined by association with different species of dragons:

"The Fire Tribe are nasty stuff.  If we don’t hurry up, we’ll become dinner for their Fire Dragons."-- Xane, Ch 12, FE3 Book II.

Degenerated Fire Dragons are now the "pets" of the Fire Tribe.  The assassins subplot of FE12 seems to have a lot to do with the Dark Tribe, who presumably worship(?) Dark Dragons.  There aren't many of these-- Medeus is the only one identified as such-- so I doubt the the tribe keeps any pets.

The games aren't interested in telling us much more than this, and somehow I doubt the FE12 material is very positive toward the barbarians, either.  But the barbarian threat does explain why Grust would have such an emphasis on their military, even in "peacetime" between the Medeus-led wars.  A frontier nation on stolen land is in a precarious position.

[As to why Altea, which is so nice it doesn't even have scary dark forests, much less Dark Tribes, has (OK, had) a sizeable army as well: I suspect the Archanean kings used the Altean knights as a kind of western police force, much in the way Hardin ordered Marth around at the beginning of FE3 Book II.]  

The barbarian issue is not solved by the accession of Prince/King/Emperor Marth.  In fact, I'd wager that it's battles against these barbarians, as opposed to Hardin loyalists or various independence movements, that afford Wolf his chance to kill himself after the continent is allegedly at peace. 

They are probably conquered.  I wonder what becomes of their pets.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
This is an extension of something I said over at [ profile] amielleon's place.

War.  The battle between overwhelming Evil and whatever Good is still left on the planet. The Fate of the World (TM) in the hands of a chosen few.

Pretty high-stakes stuff, right?  Perfect for an Epic Story-- a novelization, even.  Well, maybe.

Low-stakes and mid-stakes stories are a good and lovely thing, and shouldn't be neglected, but let's just set those aside for tonight.  Let's focus on ways that a high-stakes tale of Jugdral or Elibe or Tellius can just... not work.  If high-stakes drama isn't your thing, then this probably doesn't apply to you.

Read more... )

Some interesting Lyn's Tale AUs are here and here.  One is rated M and the other T, both for good reason.
mark_asphodel: (Ephraim!)
This is kind of an intersection of fan-interests wrt Fire Emblem and personal experience, because personal experience is, after all what we often bring to the table when writing.

Read more... )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
More speculation )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So. I was eating marshmallow candy today, and it got me thinking about the history of Altea (long story).

Anri. Dragon-slayer, founding hero. One corner of a love triangle with lasting and disastrous consequences.

Other than that, he's pretty much a question mark. There's not a sense of him as a real person, IMO-- he's noble and brave and apparently a "suffer in silence" kind of guy, but he doesn't come across as especially sympathetic or human. Which is funny, given he's humanity's lone champion and all that. What do we know?

Read more... )

PS: From the Akaneia Chronicle pic of Artemis, she was a dark-haired lass who didn't look much like Nyna.  FYI.
mark_asphodel: (Adult Fin)
Let's call this "pseudo-meta."  Or whining.

Was looking over FE5 to help me with that damned Finn-in-the-desert story I've been toying with for, like, a month now.  Re-read Nanna's ending.

Orphans. Again. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
In the unused content for FE1, there is an item called the Time Orb.  We don't know what it would've done in gameplay (as it is, it does nothing), but we can figure that it manipulated time in some way-- moving it back, perhaps, or freezing it, perhaps freezing the enemy a turn.  But that doesn't matter so much as what we might imagine became of that orb.

Speculation of the cracky variety )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
In some Fire Emblem worlds, permadeath really is, well, permanent.  Trying to bring back the dead has ghastly consquences in Magvel.  Ninian's resurrection in Elibe is both exceptional and more than a little... sketchy. 

Not so in Archanea.  Though the Aum staff is long-lost and legendary by the time of the War of Darkness (FE1/11), the fact that the thing is housed in a temple known as the Resurrectory suggests that, at some point, it was both well-known and functional.  (Worth noting here that, IIRC, the staff could only be used in said temple in FE1.  Not the case in FE11).

So, how does it function?  No, really.  Because bodily resurrection of the dead is one of those metaphysical conundrums that distresses, say, professional theologians.  How's that work?  If we accept that the half-explanation Claude gives for the Valkyrie Staff in FE4 applies to the Aum (damn you, Tiltyu!), then everyone is born with a life force/essence, and this is the key to resurrection.  As the life force thing is a staple of FE games, it seems fair to assume this holds true for Archanea as well as Jugdral.

So, what do we know?

Devil's in the details... )

2) The life essence of both earth dragons and divine dragons is so strong that they're extremely hard to kill in the "permanent" sense (Canon-- Medeus, Nagi, and Tiki if you don't recruit her in FE11 all are evidence here).

3) So, resurrecting a human being would seem to be a small-scale, deliberate equivalent of what dragons seem to do naturally-- rejoining the "essence" of the individual to the corporeal body... or a corporeal body, anyway.  (Assumption)

4) Even for dragons, this isn't easy... after a dirt nap lasting about a century, Medeus isn't really himself and would seem to need a "boost" from the Aum staff to have the full powers of his physical body back (Canon from FE11).  After being dead AGAIN for a couple of years, he would need the life forces of four (4) priestesses to get back into form (Canon, FE3)... and the ritual in that case would make him a Dark Dragon instead of his normal Earth Dragon self.  (So here we have a case of a bad, icky, things-go-wrong resurrection, even in Archanea).

But again, what about people?

First off, "life essence" and souls.  From what we can piece together, it appears Archanea has a heaven (death quotes for Linde and Lena, FE11) and a hell (death quote from Gharnef, FE11).  The belief seems to be that people remain "themselves"-- the individual souls retain the sense of the self, and don't merge into some kind of hive or get recycled.  (So, no, Marth is not a reincarnation of Anri.)  Soul-merging or recycling would make this resurrection dealie very, very strange. 

Elice tells Marth in FE11 that the Aum can be used to resurrect a "fallen comrade."  What could we infer from this?  Here are a few possibilities:

A) Just as healing magic doesn't seem to work on illnesses, resurrection magic doesn't work on deaths from natural causes.  Perhaps the "life essence" of someone who dies a natural death is depleted through illness/infirmity.  Then again, what about someone who dies from an accident-- a child who falls out of a tree, a fisherman who drowns?

B) There's some kind of "justice" principle at work-- people who die in a holy cause in which they are actively participating rate better than people who just get crushed by falling masonry or killed for lulz.  (Justice?  Bleh.)

C) Life essence depletes after death, so someone killed three or four years ago (like Marth's father) can't be resurrected, but someone killed three or four months ago can be.  (I used to think the inability to resurrect the "canon sacrifice" from FE11 was a evidence for this, but in light of FE12, it's not.)

D) Some people are just more special than others.  People Marth happens to like are especially special, I guess.
So... if he'd really wanted to, could he have asked for Elice to bring back their mother?  Liza, after all, while apparently a non-combatant, died a very unnatural death at the hands of the bad guys, and presumably being the mother of the Chosen One would give her a spiritual edge over random nobodies.  I realize you can't do that for game mechanic reasons, but still-- would it have been possible?  Also, would it have been possible for Marth to pull a Lyon and bring Cornelius back so that Dad could deal with that dragon problem?  What would have happened if they'd tried it?

OK.  So those are just some of the questions affecting the spiritual side of resurrection.  Now, what about the body? 
Well, what becomes of bodies in Archanea?  Per FE2, the custom among some of the people, under some circumstances, is to wrap the dead in a sheet, toss them in the ocean, and let the current bear them away.  So, unless you're lucky enough to get washed up on a foreign shore and revived by a hot priestess, you're fish food.  I doubt that's the custom on the mainland, though.  Cremation, earth burial, mummification, something else entirely... we don't know.  If the legend of resurrection was passed down in some form via religion, people might take care to keep bodies intact, disposing of them in the earth or the water without any mutilation or evisceration.  And, in some cases, without even a decent post-mortem examination.

Wartime dead might not be that fortunate, though.  Shot, stabbed, cleaved in two, decapitated, fried, frozen, incinerated, devoured by swarms of insects, crushed by projectiles, flattened in fall from a pegasus, mauled and/or eaten by a manakete... there's a lot of ways to die that would leave the body in terrible shape, even if a resurrection could be performed immediately after the battle.  To say nothing of resurrecting someone who's been worm food or fish food since, say, Galder Harbor.  Yet, this is entirely possible, which raises a new question.  A really... interesting one.
Is the body the same physical form the soul once inhabited?  Does the Aum spell create a new, intact, uncorrupted body for the life essence to be joined with?  In other words... are we treading into morph territory?

Resurrection in Magvel (a Bad Thing) definitely involves reanimating the original body of the deceased, which leads to things like zombie!Monica.  In this case, the soul of the deceased may not even be present-- their mind/personality certainly is not.  Then again, if the zombie brain is basically mush, how would the mind make its presence known?  Yech.   

But we honestly can't tell from what's given us in Archanea if the resurrection involves reanimation of the deceased or the materialization of a healthy new body.  If the former, how does the healing mechanic work?  If the latter, when Elice does her thing in the middle of battle, do we end up with two bodies-- the still-warm dead one, and the new living one?  Does the new body age at the same rate?  Is it fully-functional (not sterile)?

This whole thing raises so many questions that it might be a good thing that the Aum is not standard-issue FE equipment.  The holiest magic looks awfully unholy if you think too long over it.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
OK.  Since [ profile] socraticwaffles went there with the "Can women who aren't virgins ride flying unicorns?" query, I'm totally asking this one.

Read more... )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
New OTP, yo-- Not!Caeda from the Fire Emblem anime paired with Not!Innes from a fanfic near you.  Just imagine the mayhem...

Yes, Not!Innes/Not!Caeda.  I need a banner...


The Magvel climate meta that [ profile] wolfraven80 wrote inspired me to polish 'n' publish this weather-centric Eirika-in-Frelia thing I'd been kicking around since January or so.  Here 'tis.  It's short.  


I want to talk headcanon assassinations and conspiracies, but have no idea what to say.  I think it's Raphi who has the Mildain-assassination headcanon, though?  And maybe some others.  Dunno.  Maybe I will mull things over a while.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)

Holiday Meta: Archanea/Valencia

Holidays!  Everyone likes holidays...Holy days, festivals, whatever.  I mean, we know the FE characters don’t actually celebrate Christmas, right?

[Please say yes-- unless you’re writing an FE/Narnia crossover or something...]

Read more... )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)

I once read a quote attributed to Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire that went something like this:

French is the language of diplomacy and Italian the language of love.  German is for speaking to soldiers and cattle, English for speaking to birds.  But Spanish, Spanish is the language for addressing God.”

Read more... )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
OK.  I was going to throw up a little bit of cracky headcanon regarding Minerva for today's meta contribution, but I went and made a 'fic out of it instead.

Because we all know why noblewomen suddenly retire to convents, right?  ;P


mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)

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