Why is it that even though you know the identity of Leo's Servant practically from the start of the War you don't get a major boost to the Matrix?
Because you only know his name. The protagonist was way too busy with everything to have time to research someone they didn't expect to fight. Also, a name won't tell you how someone fights or what their skills are.
Won't it still tell you a vast amount about them such as temperament, style and relations with other Servants? Unlike Shinji, Leo doesn't see any need to hide books so it should be easy to go to the library and look up this person.
Well, the protagonist does look up on him a bit if you go to the library after Leo tells you, but that's just his character biography. Also, the protagonist is busy with Shinji at the time, and since Leo isn't their opponent, why bother looking further when they might never fight him at all? At that point, they're still pretty weak, so all their attention is probably focused just on surviving that first week.
It's not as if they don't have time later, though; regardless of how you do have to prep for your current opponent, it's unlikely you don't have time to hunt for info in the library during the subsequent weeks. That said, the later opponents generally require you to fight them in the Arena (and survive, obviously) in order to gather data, so having to do the same with Gawain as opposed to just reading up on him isn't unusual.
Regular Masters have the 'generic Master' template, and the MC's slight difference is a sign of their being More than Meets the Eye. They also say that only powerful hackers are capable of altering their avatars, which makes sense for Rin, Leo, presumably Rani and Julius, ect. Does this mean the Monster Clown and the non-denominational Church Militant are capable of taking time out from their psychoses to so heavily customize their appearance within the Moon Cell?
Magical hacking still depends on the number of Magical Circuits you have. Which is why it's magical hacking... and not, you know, regular hacking. The mana depletion caused regular magecraft to die out, but it was replaced by spiritual hacking and other methods of using magical circuits. The avatars are probably determined by your skill in customization and your level of circuits.
Not really, if the characters are to be believed. Your avatar might be altered to a certain extent like the Protagonists', but it's clearly a conscious choice for the others: Shinji's abilities as a hacker (one assumes they mean spirit hacker, since it's implied that everyone except you came as magi) are noted when they talk about customizing his avatar, Julius is mentioned as having hacked Kuzuki's profile, presumably including the associated avatar's appearance (unless you think said teacher always wore that coat), and Rin's blonde hair in real life is unlikely to have changed to black in the Moon Cell unless she did it intentionally. Rin (and Rani, in her path) says that a magi's avatar is determined by aptitude, but that doesn't mean their avatar automatically molds to their chosen form. Advanced magi like Rin and Leo can make avatars that are perfect copies of their real selves, while most others are stuck with normal avatars because they lack the skill to manipulate the virtual world; the exceptions are like Alice, who lacked the limitations of a physical body and could customize her 'avatar' without the constraints of a real-world counterpart. Even if Ronnie and Gatou were powerful magi they'd still have to intentionally shape their avatars, which seems a little unlikely given their apparent inability to focus on anything but their respective obsessions.
Maybe that's why they are looking so ridiculous? I mean, as far as we know Gatou could be a businessman in his forties who made his avatar in the image of what he thought to be a cool monk would be, while Ronnie is.. well, crazy. It would actually explain the haphazard choice of clothes and whatnot...
While stalking Julius and Assassin to discover the source of Assassin's invisibility, you and you Servant "hide in the shadows" to remain unseen. There are no shadows in the field, you're restricted to the actual map which means you can't hide outside of the walls and occasional plateaus (which lack large rocks or other features), and the walls themselves are transparent. How are these trained killers failing to see you? Or perhaps more to the point, since it's implied Assassin knows you're there, how does the Protagonist (and their Servant) think that these transparent walls are going to conceal them?
The lack of shadows is likely a limitation of the PSP's hardware, and even if the walls are transparent (it's also possible that they're only transparent to the players, not the characters), you're usually still out of their line of sight. Also, Julius always struck me as being rather careless, afflicted with a bad case of tunnel vision or simply not being very good at sensing things (he doesn't notice Rin, who should have been in his line of sight, until she introduces herself during the fake Bad End after the second week).
It's implied that Assassin knows that you are there; he's amused and wants to see what you can do.
Yes, the OP made it clear that Assassin knew about the stalking; the core of the question is still "Seriously, the Black Scorpion is unaware of you guys?" and "Also the walls are transparent." It seems unlikely the walls are only transparent to the player since your Servant will remark on the levels in ways that imply the corridors are translucent: In example, Archer's comment about the next stage being an ice castle is made on a level where the castle would only be visible if the walls are actually see-through. It just seems odd that your random protag and their non-Assassin Servant could avoid the detection of a trained assassin, though Julius does seem aggravated after dealing with Rin/Rani and might not be as alert as he'd normally be.
It's also implied that Julius isn't a mage, or at least he's not a good one: When he kills people it's physical, and when you show Leo the lapel pin he says that the pin connected Julius to the Harway databanks and avoided the need for Julius to be a skilled mage. If magic talent influences your ability in the Moon Cell, Julius' lack thereof could explain why he didn't see Rin (a talented magi) coming, why he couldn't kill Rin/Rani (a magical construct) in the fifth week, and why he seems to have a hard time detecting your Servant (while spying on him and Assassin, Julius being surprised to survived Assassin in the sealed space as if he didn't know your Servant intervened). So Assassin knows you're there but he's having too much fun to spoil the game, and Julius is losing his cool enough to let it impact his already less-than-stellar mystic abilities.
How do some of the other Masters, specifically the boy on the second floor by the classrooms (who talks about being there to gather data) and the girl by classroom 1-A seem to know about you being a digital ghost, or at least something like it? They call you "just a memory" and "the ghost in the machine" as soon as the War begins, long before you realize there's anything weird about yourself besides the amnesia thing.
It's possible that they're hackers specialized in information gathering (their non-unique appearance probably means they're not powerful ones, though). The M Cs semi-unique appearance as well as some of the other discrepancies would have struck them as odd, which meant they studied the M Cs more closely, which lead to them guessing the M Cs are virtual ghosts. The others didn't notice because they're focused on the War and their respective opponents.
It's actually a case of the translators screwing up. The "just a memory" comment was because they believe that you'll die (and thus are irrelevant except as a memory). The "ghost in the machine" line was simply a complete screw-up.
Was the ghost in the machine line really just a translation error, or a case of Throw It In? It doesn't matter either way, obviously, but it seems oddly specific for just a cock-up.
So Extra Caster Remembers competing in, and winning a previous Grail War? How is that possible? Does the Moon Cell not follow the usual rule of Servants not remembering being summoned before, or does her status as an aspect of Amaterasu (basically a goddess) make her immune to the previous rules? I'm pretty curious about this.
Likely the former, since the Holy Grail War in this universe runs on completely different rules from the original.
To expand on the explanation: In the original continuity, Servants are Heroic Spirits who are summoned from the the Throne of Heroes, a sort of databank beyond space and time (or rather, before the beginning of space and time, but Akasha is not relevant here) that stores the souls of these beings. These souls are recognized as "perfect" and "unchangeable" by being accepted into the Throne of Heroes, so even if they are summoned and dismissed, they are stripped from the actual memories of their deeds (though it is implied that they have information of them... it's complicated). The Servants in this game, however, are not summoned but reconstructed by the Moon Cell's Serial Phantasm (a reality marble of sorts) based on the data recorded in the Automaton. This is why they have access to information normal heroic souls wouldn't be and why they can be modified by both the system and the masters to some degree... In short, they are not actual heroic spirits, only virtual copies.
Besides Caster is not a Heroic Spirit, but a facet of a Japanese Sun Goddess. It's revealed that when Caster died she just end up being assimilated back into the Goddess, but later made an agreement to be a heroic spirit in order to be loved by someone-kinda like Saber did in main Fate franchise.
I've been watching a Let's Play of Caster, and I'm trying to figure out when she brings up her...Castration fist technique. I recall a scene in your private room where she's practising Martial arts and all(in a really scary voice too). Is that it?
That's the scene. The Protagonist's reaction is "note to self, never piss off Caster".
Saber Extra ( Aka Nero Caesar). Okay, Regular Saber makes sense to have been gender-flipped, her hiding it was a plot and characterization point, and her legend was purely oral for a thousand years, five hundred of which are known for poor recordkeeping. But Saber Extra didn't hide it at all, and there were no less than two historians ( Tacitus and Suetonius) who wrote about her extensively within a century, in a period known for good recordkeeping. How did it somehow not come down to the present?
Red Saber does mention that she considers herself to be equally male and female, so that could have something to do with it.
Wait, so he was male in life, and because he had a vague ego-based gender dysphoria, ended up as a sexy female as a Servant? Despite being famous as (and actually) a mildly overweight male? ...I feel so unclean having found her attractive.
Quite frankly, I think the reason Saber Nero is female is because the developers wanted to reuse Saber's character design and thought, "Hey, the original Saber was a gender-flippedKing Arthur, so let's have this Saber be a gender-flipped Nero even if it makes no sense and will have no importance for the character!" What I don't understand is why they didn't give Saber Nero a feminized version of her real name, like Nera or something.
Red Saber's profile remarks that her rule in Rome "Allowed the legend of King Arthur to be born", the likely in-univserse cause for the similarities. That and the two men that recorded her life were far more fond of twisting things to be entertaining (often at Nero's expense) than to accurately record things.
That still doesn't make any sense. One character inspiring the legend of another character is not the same as the two characters looking exactly alike, especially when real-life Nero and Arthur had clearly distinct appearances.
It's common knowledge that Takeuchi, TYPE-MOON artist and character designer, has a distinct fondness for Saber/Arturia; making Nero an Arturia clone was probably just personal preference, as well as fanservice for fans of the series. It's not like Fate has ever been particularly concerned about being accurate to the source-material when it would conflict with what they want to do.
There's also the part where Nasu stated he wanted to use Nero as something to get fans of the F/SN into Extra. So why not use previous character models? Hence Archer, Rin, Sakura, and others being in the game. Also, while Rome and Britain had connections, let's not forget that King Arthur's legend was also Celtic. Which is very far from Roman based.
Honestly we're all forgetting a pretty big issue here: Saber spells the whole thing out. She states, when asked, that her soul is both male and female but if she had to she'd err on the side of female. Your souls appearance, especially a digital copy of it, doesn't have to match up to your gender because it'd just be a representation of who or what you were. Nero WAS a man, but a man deeply in tune with what he saw as a softer, gentler and more feminine side. Nero was a fairly unattractive man so perhaps he had no real affection or affinity for the shell he was trapped in and considered himself a more free spirited sort. Throw in a mix of gender dysphoria and you've got a male who is perfectly willing to appear as a beautiful woman. Then again there's also the issue of how unreliable the historians of that time were, especially when they "wrote" their histories more than 50 years after his rule and have been accused of slander so what we know may be almost entirely wrong.
Perhaps that would work in Fate/stay night Holy Grail War or some other universes, but not in the Moon Cell version. The physical appearance of Servants in the EXTRA Holy Grail War actually has to be the representation of how they looked like in real life, precisely because it is the exact digital copy of world history recorded by Moon Cell.
Actually, according to the manga adaptation of Fate/EXTRA by Robi~na(which closely follows the original game with some twists here and there), Saber Extra was indeed a woman. It is explained that Agrippina, her mother, arranged matters in the court so that her daughter can succeed the Roman throne after killing off Emperor Claudius(Agrippina's husband, also Nero's stepfather). Despite being a woman, Nero called herself an "emperor" and was regarded as such, even being forced to "marry" the late Claudius' daughter Octavia(this was the result of Agrippina's urging as well). Since the Protagonist expresses some degree of surprise at her identity but doesn't go "Wait, you're a girl?!"(as Kiritsugu did in Fate/Zero after summoning Saber), it seems possible that the fact that Emperor Nero is female is an established fact in this world. Maybe this is the same case with Rider Extra.
Similarly, how is Rider Extra ( aka Francis Drake). Again, how did she somehow hide her gender without, y'know, hiding her gender, in a period with decent contemporary records?
If I remember correctly, the Japanese version mentions that ( "Francis Drake") was a real man, who was a lover of Elizabeth I, and switched places with her. So because all of the actions that were attributed to ( "Francis Drake") were those of the Queen, she is technically the Heroic Spirit.
So, I modify my question then. How did Queen Elizabeth I manage to end up in the history books, as the male Francis Drake, without making any attempt at hiding gender and a figure that is incredibly improbable to hide?
Uhm, I'm not so sure about the above theory. The Japanese game does mention that as an interesting story but kind of shrugs it off, saying "Well there is this pretty romantic theory about Drake and the Queen, but it's merely a fictitious account." According to the text, Rider was given the nickname El Drago by the Spanish people because she is "the 'woman' who pulled the sun down for the kingdom on which the sun never sets(Spain, in this context)." The text even confirms at the start of that part of MATRIX that "Francis Drake was a man in real history, but appears as a woman in Fate/EXTRA universe."
The Decoy Protagonist and the Actual Protagonist both seem to have the same "role" as Shinji's best friend. Is there something wrong, or is the messing-with-perception aspect of the computer system responsible for this apparent overlap?
Pretty sure the Decoy Protag is Shinji's 'friend' the way the girls that flock to him are his 'fangirls': They're NPCs, so Decoy Protag is Shinji's friend even though he doesn't know why. For the Actual Protagonist, it could go either way: Either they really were friends with Shinji, or the MC's semi-NPC status lumped them into the same category as Decoy Protag ('NPC programmed to be Shinji's friend') until the War started, since it seems that NPCs all serve the same roles to whoever they're interacting with. Issei, for example, is supposedly the friend of both the Decoy and Actual Protags, and gave them both the same speech. I'm leaning towards "MC is Shinji's actual friend," since it would match the theme of the prologue, like the Decoy thinking that Leo is looking at/addressing him when he's actually paying attention to the MC.