Fate/catharsis the end (Fate/stay night) [UN] (Modern mythological fantasy)
WARNING: The post below contains MAJOR spoilers for Fate/stay night, so if you intend to play it, be aware. This is also a work in progress, with some things subject to change, especially as I am still reading the Heaven's Feel route and may be unaware of certain mechanics. Along with being a WIP, this game will also not start immediately and maybe not even soon - I'm just putting this out there to be seen and maybe discussed.
Magic exists in the world.
It always has; magic is the underlying mechanism of the universe. Every being is born with a magic circuit - it is part of the genetic code, and can be bred. Once magic was commonplace, from prehistory through to the European Middle Ages. However, as technology began to progress finally, magic diminished in use inversely, to the point of being a forgotten, even mocked existence.
Still, a magical underground continued, centered on several families who, though significant selective breeding (and no small amount of inbreeding) have kept their magic circuits alive and powerful. These families, always wealthy but rarely able to afford more than their accommodations and the huge sums required to buy magic items, are always in competition over certain items and during events.
The greatest of these events and items is the Holy Grail War, which occurs whenever it pleases, though the families are usually able to predict it by enough time to prepare accordingly. The Holy Grail is not literally the cup of Christ, but a focusing point for enough magical energy that it is said to grant any wish. However, the Grail itself cannot be contacted directly by humans, and so the magi involved summon familiar entities known as Servants to fight for them, as these Servants are able to contact the Grail and thus fulfill the wish.
Servants are no simple familiars. They are avatars of historical and mythological heroes, summoned from their place in the ether to fulfill their greatest wish by achieving the Holy Grail. They are not necessarily heroes in the classic sense, however Medusa and Medea have been summoned along with the likes of Heracles and Arthur. Hero is used as a term for all important characters in the human consciousness. Indeed, it is the human consciousness that drives Servants the awareness of a hero within said consciousness plays a large part in their power. A hero like Cu Chulainn would be at a disadvantage to Arthur, Sun Wukong, or Gilgamesh. And, though uncommon, heroes from the future or even the present can be summoned. As heroes have fallen by the wayside, there are few to choose from, and their presence in the human consciousness may not even exist yet in our time, limiting their potential power.
These heroes have access to all of their classic abilities, culminating in their ultimate abilities, the Noble Phantasm. Arthur's Avalon (the ultimate shield, possessing regenerative abilities for its wielder as well) and Heracles' 12 lives are just a few of the many possible Noble Phantasms. Heroes are not limited to just one, and they can be either passive or active, all depending on the hero's history, abilities, and available equipment.
Upon the appearance of the Holy Grail, Magi perform highly regimented rituals in order to contact the other side and summon a servant. Much magical energy is sacrificed in the form of jewels that have been filled over time by (normally) the summoner him/herself, in order to contact the Grail and use it as a conduit. Only seven Servants will be summoned, one of each class, as the Holy Grail itself enables their summoning and will only support so many. No magi has enough power to summon one alone.
While some Servants will only appear for one class, many of them are applicable to several, and can usually be summoned into any class they fit even slightly.
KNIGHT CLASSES Known for their magic resistance.
SABER Swordsmen and women, masterful in the art of the blade. The balanced class. (Arthur, Lancelot)
LANCER Wielders of lances, pikes, halberds, and so forth, these Servants are often very fast and agile. (Cuchulainn)
ARCHER Long range attackers, skilled in evasion and precision. Often have a secondary skill in close range weaponry to protect themselves. (Robin Hood)
CASTER The magician, generally with almost nonexistent melee and weapon combat ability. Able to manipulate the world, summon familiars, and do other magical things. Requires a Master of significant magical potential to power their abilities. (Medea, Gilles de Rais)
ASSASSIN The stealthy, perfect killer. Often pulled from the historical Hashashin.
RIDER Talented in mounted combat, Riders use the superior mobility and power of their mount as a channel for their particular battle ability, be it magical or weapon-based. (Medusa)
BERSERKER Rarely summoned directly, Berserkers are created by their Masters upon summoning, turning the Servant into a nigh-unstoppable force of destructive power. The Servant loses much of their will, becoming slaves of their Master's will, but also losing much of their intelligence and guile. However, the conscious Hero is always trapped inside, aware of their actions, but unable to change them. (Heracles)
The Servant and magi enter into a contract upon summoning, binding them together, and giving the magi three command spells, a three-part magical tattoo that allows the magi to extract perfect obedience from the Servant three times. However, upon the third use, the final part of the tattoo disappears, and the Servant is released from the contract. The Servant is then autonomous, but as Servants rely on magical replenishment from their Masters, there is a limit of only days before they run out and vanish from reality. It is easiest for a Servant to simply contract with a new Master at this point. Similarly, if a Master decides to give up the war, or has a significant disagreement with their Servant, the Master may relinquish their command spells and voluntarily end the contract.
As the primary members of the Holy Grail War number only 14 individuals, it is not a war of overt attack and confrontation. There is often a long period of initial information gathering as the Masters and Servants get to know each other and their strengths and weaknesses, as well as attempting to discover the identities of the other Masters and Servants. Masters will rarely travel without their Servants, as Masters are merely human and far more vulnerable than the Servants. In battle, Masters can rarely serve as more than an annoyance to Servants without significant planning and almost certainly some incredible magical items. Masters can be potent against each other, of course. The war continues until only one Master/Servant pair remains, as both are required to activate the Grail. All six other Servants must be eliminated, but the fate of the Masters is irrelevant to the Grail.
Despite their publicly professed positions, the upper echelons of the Catholic Church have always been aware of and interacted with magic. Throughout history they have acted as a forward line of defense against malicious magical forces, though their methods and ultimate goals do not always apply to a traditional interpretation of morals, even their own. For each war, the Church has provided one priest to serve as a mediator, observer, and sanctuary for defeated or withdrawn magi. The priest will work to keep the war in secret as well, cleaning up after the effects of the war.
Main families comprise at least 75% of all of the Grail's historical participant magi, but they are not the only ones allowed to participate. However, the ritual itself was designed by the main families, and so knowledge of this war and especially the summoning ritual does not stretch very far beyond them and their associates. While humanity as a society never realizes the existence of the war due to the families' rigorous protection of it and corrections of its larger effects, the more aware elements of magical society knows that it goes on and covet its rewards.
Upon the conclusion of the Fifth Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City, rogue elements of the main families of that War and several independents banded together to try and recreate this Grail elsewhere without their involvement. The region chosen was the small but prosperous city of Mahkate, Michigan, near the border with Ohio. As with all grand summonings of this type, the placement of the ritual was chosen quite deliberately by the group responsible, as Mahkate has a strong magical ley line and a magical history dating back centuries, and a relative obscurity that aids in suppressing knowledge of the war.
Initial plot considerations are that only "villainous" Heroic Spirits are summoned, or something similarly bizarre. It's likely that I would play an older Tohsaka Rin. As for players, I would want a small game with no more than 4 Masters, though any number of players could take non-Master roles, though the potential for those roles is slim. However, I'd like each PC Master to have a Servant played by someone else - in order to keep the game small, each Master player would also play a Servant of another player. The remaining three Master/Servant teams would be NPC.
So... any thoughts?
SERVANTS and MASTERS
Archer/Doc Holiday - Loki Caprion
Assassin/Elizabeth Bathory - Trippingserpent
Berserker/Arcueid Brunestud - TheWriter
Tohsaka Rin - Karma
Lancer/Tomoe Gozen - Jadzi
Master - Hitura Caprion
Rider/Loki - Zadaris
Saber/Jeanne d'Arc - Chuukun
Chuukun, Niki, Jadzi, TheWriter (Jessica)