Literature / Fate/strange fake

The novel-length prologue to an upcoming game, written by Ryohgo Narita, author of Baccano!, announced on April 1st, 2008... oh.

Although the text (this incarnation instead titled Fake/states night) was taken down from Narita's site after only one day, the novel was later included as a bonus with the second issue of the Type-Moon Ace magazine, with an afterword by the author and illustrations by Shizuki Morii. Despite being a prologue, no continuation seemed to have been planned, making the whole thing an introduction to a cast of characters who will likely never be seen again...until it was announced that Fate/Strange Fake would finally be officially published as a light novel and monthly manga series.

The story centers around a False Holy Grail War, faultily copied from the Third Holy Grail War, in Snowfield, a small town in Nevada(California in the previous version), ten years after Fate/hollow ataraxia. When the Third Holy Grail War occurred seventy years ago, a group of mages separate from the London-based Mage Association decided that they would copy the ritual. Okay, they were only able to steal parts of it, but they could fill in the blanks for the rest. (Yes. They're FUDGING a ritual that involves a hole in reality, the most legendary and bloody legends brought to life, and a fight where There Can Be Only One.) They completely lost the Saber template, the definition of "Hero" gets even more blurry, and the participants are less sane. And nobody paid attention to the clusterfucks that were the 4th and 5th Grail Wars.

This will end well.

So, those independent mages, working with the the U.S. Government, manipulated events in Snowfield, Nevada (just north of Las Vegas) to replicate the Sacred Land needed to generate a Grail.

Master and Servant combos:

  • Archer: Gilgamesh. Yes, that Gilgamesh. If we're going by Nasu canon, this is not the same Gilgamesh as in zero/stay night/hollow ataraxia but rather a new copy summoned from the Throne of Heroes without that first copy's memories. Still a colossal dick, and for the most part wanted nothing to do with the War; more so when, upon summoning Gilgamesh, his Master immediately gets assassinated by a young Magical Native American girl, Tine Chelc, who wants a prosperous, free nation for her people. Gil decides to stay in the War after hearing about Lancer and takes her on as his Master.
  • Lancer: Enkidu, the first sidekick. Gilgamesh's Best Friend; originally Enkidu's Master was going to use his Wolf Familiar as a sacrifice to summon Enkidu, but then the Wolf turned out to have a mind of its own and figured out how to summon Enkidu as its Servant. Enkidu has the "appearance of a woman." He is an androgynous shapeshifter made from clay by the gods.
  • Berserker: Jack the Ripper. In this flawed copy, since Jack was already bloodthirsty, somehow turning him into The Berserker actually resulted in the opposite. He is now completely calm. Since nobody knew who Jack the Ripper was, Jack can shapeshift into any legend of Jack the Ripper he wants to be. His master Flat Escardos is best described as a doofus who just happens to be a mage prodigy, who used a toy knife as the catalyst for the summoning. However, a Fake knife in a Fake Grail War worked just fine to summon a Fake Berserker from a Fake Hero.
  • Assassin: The Unspoken Hassan known also as No Name or Beautiful Assassin. Among the Hassan clan of Assassins, there was a woman who excelled at all of their techniques but was never allowed to become Hassan Sabbah. They became afraid of her, but their fear deified her as a legend and she may have surpassed them all. Assassin has decided that the Holy Grail is a falsehood to her faith whether it functions the way the mages want it to or not, and has committed to destroying it. Upon being summoned, she even rips out the heart of her Master; unfortunately, her Master is the Dead Apostle Jester Calture, known as the Six-Hearted Revolver. True to his nickname, he still has five more hearts, and bodies to match. Calture decides that his goal is to crush Assassin's faith.
  • Caster: Alexandre Dumas. ...No, seriously. Having not actually been trained as a mage, Caster is the weakest Caster in record and possibly the weakest Servant; however, he can "write" items into reality. His master is the Police Chief of Snowfield, who has a very loyal cadre of deputies—all mages. He has Caster write them up a batch of Noble Phantasms, resulting in a special ops unit of magic-wielding cops armed with enchanted weapons.
  • Rider: There were a set of mages who looked at Zouken Matou's work on dark magical worms and thought to themselves..."We can do better than that." So they experimented on their child daughter Tsubaki Kuruoka, and came up with Black Magic bacteria and infected her with it. It put her into a coma, but made her into an exceptionally powerful Master. Apparently they were going to puppet their will into the Fake Grail War, and summon the First Emperor of China as their Servant. However, their Servant is eaten from the inside out by Tsubaki's true Servant, the Pale Rider—neither man nor woman, but a legendary entity embodying the concept of pestilence, including the infamous Spanish influenza and the Black Death that killed off most of Europe. The Pale Rider rides people and when done with them, imprisons them in Tsubaki's coma. The first people it possesses are Tsubaki's parents. The first thing they have to do in her dream world is buy her cake.
  • Ayaka Sajyou: Originally, the role of the seventh master was taken by the Player Character who could summon his or her choice of any servant five times. In the finalized version, Ayaka takes this role instead. Her current servant is a male Saber wielding an alternate version of Excalibur, later revealed to be King Richard the Lionheart.

And those are only the Fake Servants. The True Servants of the actual Holy Grail War in Snowfield? Well...

Provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Berserker is quite a pleasant sort for a Serial Killer.
  • All Your Powers Combined:
    • Assassin mastered all the special abilities of the eighteen grandmasters who preceded her, but couldn't come up with a new one.
    • Gilgamesh, as per usual.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Gilgamesh asks Tine one in the casino when she explains what her tribe wants out of the Holy Grail War.
    Gilgamesh: Is retaking this land from the mages your will? Or do you speak as another’s puppet, abandoning choice and making fate your excuse?”
  • Asshole Victim: The unnamed mage who initially summoned Archer is promptly killed by Tine Chelc. See It's All About Me and Offing the Offspring for where the "asshole" part comes in.
  • Badass Army: By the standards of a "war" that's supposed to involve fourteen people total, thirty cops equipped with Noble Phantasms by Caster easily qualify.
  • Blatant Lies: Caster's prone to outlandish bragging, especially about his luck with women.
  • Broken Masquerade: A much bigger focus than in previous installments of Fate/. As Lord El Melloi II points out, the rise of the internet and social media has made it much harder to keep something as big as a Holy Grail War under wraps and predicts that the world of magecraft will be fully revealed within the next five years. It might even be earlier than that, as Saber gets arrested on national television mere minutes after being summoned and is later uploaded to Youtube.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Jack the Ripper makes a passing mention to one time where they absent-mindedly turned into what Apocrypha or Grand Order fans would recognize as the "real" Jack the Ripper of the Fate universe. Flat's response is to freak out, immediately cover them in a blanket, and demand that they change into literally anything else before someone sees them and calls the cops.
  • The Cameo: Gray from the Lord El-Melloi II Case Files series, though unnamed, is heavily implied to be the female student who helps El Melloi II up after he faints from learning that Flatt participated in the Grail War in the first volume.
  • Church Militant:
    • The first thing we learn about Assassin is her deep faith. She even kills her summoner (not that it sticks) and sets off to destroy the Grail because she considers the idea heretical, as the Grail's concepts come from Christianity.
    • Hanza Cervantes, the Overseer of this war, is a member of the Holy Church Executors.
  • Continuity Porn: The series is littered with tons from all over the Nasuverse, to the point it verges on Reference Overdosed. Examples:
    • Faldeus mentions magical defenses such as a shield of mercury and the transmission of consciousness into insects, both being references to Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald's Volumen Hydrargyrum and Zouken Matou's blood worms, both participants and antagonists of the Holy Grail Wars depicted in Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night.
      • Zouken's Worms are likewise modified into a potent bacteria by the Kuruoka Family, who sought to replicate his research on their own daughter, in a manner similar to Sakura Matou.
    • This war properly introduces Enkidu to the Nasuverse, when he had until then only been mentionned in side materials and in Gilgamesh's backstory and some of his dialogues in Fate/Zero, Fate/stay night, and Fate/Extra CCC.
    • Prelati, the Magus who taught the mad Caster of the Fourth Holy Grail War and whose existence was only hinted at by the name of Caster's Noble Phantasm, Prelati's Spellbook, makes his (or rather her) appearance in Fate/strange fake as a Big Bad and participant in the False Grail War.
    • Caster mentions rumour of “some dude” able to infinitely create copies with some kind of incredible Magecraft, an explicit description of Emiya Shirou.
    • Maiya Hisau's Child by Rape, only mentioned in her backstory as having been separated from her, appears, named Sigma, as a major character and participant of the False Grail War as the Master of Watcher.
    • Jack the Ripper, as a Berserker here, briefly turns into Assassin of Black, the Jack the Ripper from Fate/Apocrypha.
    • The awakening of ORT, or Type-Mercury, the strongest being in the Nasuverse only mentioned in side materials and the list of the Twenty-Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors, from its slumber somewhere in South America is the goal of Jester Kartur, which Zelretch is trying to prevent. ORT is later mentionned by Prelati along with "the cursed cat of Britain", most likely referring to Cath Palug from Garden of Avalon, also known as Fou, a.k.a Primate Murder to players of Fate/Grand Order.
    • Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg is the Nasuverse's world hopping Archmage, who very rarely appears outside of side materials and directly in main works despite having access to the entirety of the Nasuverse continuity (backstory blurbs on how he aided in the formation of the Holy Grail War system and mention of his intervention during Rin's inquity in Heaven's Feel True End, him acting as Arcueid Brunestud's grandfather, a few phone conversations in Prisma Illya, etc.). Here, however, he gets a major role as he directly interferes in the False Holy Grail War in order to prevent a bad outcome.
      • As a result of Zelretch's meddling, Ayaka Saijyou from Fate/Prototype, or at least a blonde version of hernote , is brought as a new participant in the war. Her manner of selection is itself a reference to the original version of Fate/strange fake as a videogame, being called "the Player" and being apparently customizable.
    • Rohngall mentions that one of the Tohsakas was currently studying in the Clock Tower, which could only refer to Rin as the Grail War in Strange Fake takes place some time after the Fifth in Fuyuki.
    • Though unnamed, as mentioned in The Cameo above, Gray, El Melloi II's personal apprentice from Lord El-Melloi II Case Files is still his student here and is studying Magecraft from her master in the Clock Tower.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: True Assassin has EX Presence Concealment that only drops down to A+ when he attacks. His true stats also can't be seen. However, as a result, he's even weaker than a normal Assassin and his Noble Phantasm is implied to be unsuited for actual combat.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Masters will sometimes relive their Servants' memories in dreams, as Ayaka does Saber's in the fourth volume.
  • Evil Gloating: Invoked by Faldeus, who talks about his plans in front of the man he's about to kill, knowing full well that he's speaking to a magic puppet and his words will be heard by the real mage far away.
  • Emotionless Girl: Tine Chelc, which becomes slightly awkward when Archer orders her to rejoice.
  • Kingmaker Scenario: Lord El-Melloi II is not a strong mage, but has an amazing ability to improve other mages. Many of his students have jumped up in magus ranking; something almost unheard of in an age of decaying magic.
  • Genius Ditz: Flatt Escardos is an incredible mage and an utter moron.
  • The Hedonist: Caster wants women and food as a reward for all his hard work.
  • Historical In-Joke: A common occurrence thanks to the premise. Saber is especially prone to them, be it playing "Ja Nus Hons Pris" on electric guitar or claiming his completely ordinary sword is Excalibur.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: A mohawked drug store clerk mistakes Saber as Ayaka's boyfriend after they both break out of jail. Ayaka denies it while Saber ignores the comment and just excitedly questions the man about the instrument he's carrying.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Archer's initial summoner, who didn't care for the lives of a son with no skill in magic or a wife who couldn't provide him with a magically-powerful heir.
    • As ever, Gilgamesh exemplifies this as well.
  • Master of All:
    • Enkidu has straight A stats across the board and in life was durable enough to just tank most of what Gilgamesh could dish out with Gate of Babylon.
    • No Name Assassin has mastered the techniques of all the previous Hassans.
  • The Mole: Faldeus, who spent some time acting as a member of the Association but really works for the US Government.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Played with. Faldeus has some non-mage subordinates shoot Rohngall, an Association investigator, full of holes and discusses how the right modern weaponry can overcome magic defenses such as a shield of mercury or the transmission of consciousness into insects. On the other hand, since Rohngall's "corpse" was actually a remotely-controlled doll, shooting it full of holes does little more than inconvenience him.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: No Name Assassin can grow a third red arm when using Zabaniya.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Flatt Escardos, if his excited gushing over Jack the Ripper is anything to go on.
  • No Name Given: The original summoner of Archer.
  • No-Sell:
    • Enkidu's first Noble Phantasm, Enuma Elish, is said to be a lynchpin that holds the World together. This means that it's able to outright nullify the Anti-World capabilities of Gilgamesh's own Enuma Elish attack.
    • True Archer completely deflects the full might of the Gate of Babylon without effort.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Hanza spends his entire mission debriefing playing around on his cellphone. When his superior asks him this question, he cheerfully replies, "Relax, Father. I didn't hear a single word."
  • Odd Couple: It's lampshaded that happy-go-lucky Flatt Escardos, who thinks it'd be cooler to make friends with enemy servants than kill them, is nothing like the Serial Killer he's summoned.
    • Likewise, the dignified police chief who tells him subordinates they are justice is contrasted with the crass Caster who just wants to see the drama unfold.
  • Offing the Offspring: The original summoner of Archer killed his son in his quest for power, and his wife when she tried to stop it.
  • One-Hit Kill: No-Name Assassin's good at this. She can use Zabaniya, make Your Head A-Splode, or burn you to death.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Archer shows an unusual amount of an emotion that's not arrogance or anger when he realizes that Enkidu has been summoned.
  • Pet the Dog: During Bazdilot's dream, he saw a vision of True Archer and Jason during their time as an Argonaut. For all the kind of douchebaggery of Jason we've known since Fate/Grand Order, he considered True Archer/Heracles as a true friend and his goal was to make a kingdom where everyone is equal and even monstrous people like Heracles can live and be loved. When Bazdilot woke up and chided Jason as a fool, Alcides (who was already deprived of his honorable traits) only agreed for a half of it: He may agree that Jason was foolish, but he was one of the few people that treated Alcides as a human being so he didn't take the insult towards Jason that well.
  • Precision F-Strike: Lord El-Melloi II's reaction when he realizes that Flatt is involved in the Holy Grail War.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Ever wonder what would happen if Alexandre Dumas discovered the internet or wizards had access to S.W.A.T. teams? Well, now you know.
  • Psychic Link: Most of the Masters share one with their Servants, allowing them to share senses and speak telepathically with them. The exceptions are Ayaka, who doesn't have a proper contract with Saber, and Orlando, who deliberately avoided establishing one because he finds Caster too obnoxious to share headspace with.
  • Quest for Identity: Berserker knows that he's Jack the Ripper, but has no more idea who committed those murders than anyone else. He intends to wish on the Grail for the answer.
  • Super Strength: True Rider interrupts the fight between Gilgamesh and Archer by punching Archer so hard he flies away and crashes into a mountain.
  • Translation Convention: Though the series is written in Japanese, most of the characters are noted to be speaking in English. There's even an In-Universe example—when Ayaka has a dream about Saber's past, she takes note of how everyone appears to be speaking in modern Japanese rather than Old English.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Tine Chelc, who's about twelve, first literally unhands and then kills another man as calmly as she does everything else.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Caster takes on this sort of role. The Noble Phantasms he creates are apparently more powerful than the ones they mimic.
  • "Weird Al" Effect: An In-Universe example—one of Saber's ghost knights is rather disconcerted to learn that Sigma's entire frame of reference for Arthurian legend is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.