Fragment 14 Insight (Revisited)

After a work trip and several weeks to think about an anon’s wakup call review, I’d started taking the series a bit more seriously. The first glimpses of planning ahead, interlacing stories, and so forth. The biggest take was the focus on a single viewpoint rather than multiple. I was insistent to make sure the series still felt like a collection of shorter stories that together built a giant world view (Short Story Cycle), so it was still first steps onto a new design path.

Thankfully Astolfo’s entry lacked any sort of tense seriousness. Why would it have too much? This is Astolfo, the crazy paladin famed throughout the community for being carefree, enthusiastic, and, of course, lacking in reason/logic. So I capitalized on it with a Slice of Life treasure hunt which takes all sorts of wrong turns even he wasn’t expecting.

Every instance and interaction was tailored to help diminish some of the lingering tension from Dantes’ rather heavy fragment. When I revisited the fragment for grammar and tweaks, I found I was content with how everything fell into place. It wasn’t anything astounding, but it certainly fit the design path I was going for. As such, pretty much nothing changed except for the addition of a few foreshadowing drops, red herrings, and the usual expected fragments medicine.

My only personal qualm was that it doesn’t have too much development for Astolfo. It’s simply a nitpick of mine, but I know that it’s fine without it. Astolfo doesn’t need the development because he’s already a perfect fit for this zany place. It’s simply a matter of true Slice of Life feeling a bit more ‘unusual’ when following after such heavy introspective and challenging fragments like Dantes’ new and improved one. Nothing wrong with them, just a bit of rocky turbulence when shifting gears to smoother speeds.

Honestly, if I could only write more simple stuff like this, I’d be content. But that’s what Shards can be used for, right?

Fragment 13 (Post-Upgrade) Insight

Ah, the original Fragment 13… There’s getting egg on your face, and then there’s pouring the entire carton down your backside. Of all the fragments I’ve ever written, this one was hands down the biggest mistake I’d ever committed too. I’m glad it was such a blatant mistake because it served as a massive wake-up call for how seriously I could (and would) be taking the series for the growing number of fans.

Mostly because, well, Dantes was horrendously out of character in the initial design. A popular, famed character of the series botched because of my inexperience finding direct translations and being so careless as to make adjustments/fill missing info without carefully weighing the pros and cons of doing so. Never-ever-again.

So as not to throw around excuses or reasons most likely don’t care enough to hear anyway, I was just way too off the mark. The few little translations I saw and read were so brief I let myself do some ‘filling in’ without any real thought. The original fragment, though marked as needing revision, would remain a terrible black mark for years until I finally figured out how I could fix the whole thing without breaking the overall thematic design.

Because while I was disgusted with my past self about how off I was, I remained very content with the overall premise of a prisoner potentially finding freedom from chains that still strangle him. Plenty of other series fans loved that design too. I just chose the wrong sort of chains compared to the new rewrite. Before he was trying to prod people into action, which was not who Dantes was. I removed that entirely and patched it to what it is now which, as I’ve asked many to ensure, feels far more like Dantes should have been.

Despite all the fixes to his character, most scenes remained roughly the same. Dialogue shifted accordingly, but some monologues, like Hans’ usual roasting of another, remained almost entirely the same. If the little caster’s dialogue had any shifts, it was to intensify and further focus the roasting for his usual tone.

Elapsed time was another issue with this fragment. It covers roughly three weeks minimum, which is that much time away from seeing other developments in Chaldea. The next time someone did it was Scheherazade, but at least with her, you view a lot of it and some strange happenings of what happened over those 11 days. But it was necessary for Dantes, because intricate problems don’t solve themselves in hours or days. Time needed to pass, but with current subplots and arcs, I’m not much more skilled at juggling multiple around to let time pass differently.

The amount of interactions I compiled remained the same. Minus the tweaks, I ensured he talked with some big figures like those who tried to help during the Prison Event. While that was never shown, like many other fragments, I wanted to provide a glimpse it did. Sometimes we don’t get to show everything we want to, but it’s a matter of ensuring the important bits get shown.

I could still go on about the fragment and how much balancing/correcting I struggled to accept throughout the years, but we’ll leave it here. Otherwise it may end up as a super insight, even if the new-and-improved Dantes fragment actually became the longest fragment because of it (17k words). After my initial gaff, he deserved the extra length and boost though.

For everything else, I believe the new fragment now does a better job showing the minimum standard I now hold myself too.

As one ending note, Dantes’ fragment ended on a piece I still highly recommend playing when you read the final scene. This is the piece Mozart was playing.

Fragment 12 Insight (Revisited)

It was a gamble back then, but it was one I was glad I took anyway. I remain very vigilant on what I do with my OCs and what role they play. First and foremost, they remain in supportive roles unless it’s their own fragment. I don’t want any of them to be extremely prominent because, honestly, they don’t need to be. The servants will always remain the focal points, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have some others helping to flesh them out in new ways.

Not everyone needs to be a master or big shot. There’s a lot of staff caught in the crossfire too.

That’s why I thought it’d be fitting to have something from their point of view. A normal staff member who has adapted to this crazy new life and is just trying to get by. It also includes a bunch of rather mundane tension and problem-solving that seems rather out-of-place in a fight to save the world. That was my point. This whole ordeal had become so ‘stable’ that many learned to deal with the tension and live how they pleased.

So that brought a new OC into the forefront for their introduction: Anton. When all is said and done, he’s a specialist with a very niche capability and barely any influence compared to most others. He’s a pushover for the most part. At most, he has two servants he can call companions. Again, it helps normalize some servants and the situation while also portraying what it’s like for nearly all regular staff.

Despite his rather domestic problems, he gets through it with the help of friends. It’s a very slice-of-life sort of deal with the first glints of the introspection and insight the rest of the series has become known for. There was honestly almost nothing changed about this fragment because it was so close to the current standard (save for grammar and description brevity).

It was also the first fragment with obvious intentions for romance. Initially, I was actually going to ignore that genre completely. I know, right? Hilarious considering what the series has flourished with. However, despite the problems that may occur if I shipped someone with an OC, I thought it’d be a nice touch to give some servants the happiness they were looking for. In this case, it was a ray of light for Frankenstein from a previously rocky foundation. Again, something I was glad I dared to do.

Overall, this fragment remains one of my pride points… which is hilarious considering the fragment that followed it.

Fragment 11 Insight (Revisited)

I didn’t have very man overall plans for the series back in 2016, but if there was one I always had, it was this: Both Gudao and Gudako would be masters. Most would pick one or the other. I thought multiple would be a good twist, and I don’t regret that decision. My only caveat was that Gudako would be a nickname, since Gudao was already a weird name back then even before he became Ritsuka Fujimaru.

Since every fragment back then didn’t even have a ‘centralized’ servant until Arturia’s fragment, I wasn’t focused too hard on viewpoints and introspection. Hilariously, I was more focused on way-too detailed descriptions with appearances and introductions; Something remedied from here on. So, this fragment needed a bit of a rework to feel more like Gabrielle’s since it had several other viewpoints within it.

Now it feels far more like Gabrielle’s actual fragment while still world building. As usual, it introduces some new rooms, other servants who have been present, and now some additional thought and beliefs on a new master and their take on what they need to do.

The background for Gabrielle remained unchanged since I was satisfied with it. Being best friends with Gudao, their shared upbringing, and her personality disposition were heavily used in many later entries, so those were untweakable anyway. She’s also far more assertive, happy-go-lucky, and impulsive, so those were merely further elaborated here. Last thing I ever want to do is pull a retcon on my own work. So I just worked to tweak and shift things accordingly to bring everything further into line.

As one final curious note, I decided variations of the summoning chant would be used to recognize a master for Chaldea rather than summoning the servant itself. It would sort of feel like the entire system acknowledging they’re worthy of the task, or you could believe it’s just another ostentatious exaggeration by mages to feel even more prestigious. Either works really.

Whatever the case, from here on, Gabrielle was sure to become a big staple of the series, with all her quirks and grievances in tow.

Fragment 10 Insight (Revisited)

This was the first fragment to directly follow another in terms of themes, design, or subplot/arc. Whereas most early fragments were revised or tweaked to include more interlacing, this one remained roughly the same in that regard. Season 1 can be seen as laying the initial groundwork with a lot of world building to set the stage for everything to come. Seasons 2 and beyond added far more interlaced subplots, arcs, and designs mostly because of everything Season 1 helped set.

With the revisions, I wanted Season 1 to feel more like the rest of the story’s current standard. Thankfully this one just needed a few more additions and some subtle tweaks. Medea’s interaction with Arturia was better characterized, the scene with Lancelot had a lot more introspection/exposition, and I even included a nice cozy scene for Irisviel. Despite all the added stuff, I did want to keep the overall mood as a ‘reliever’ for what happened in the last fragment.

So following the episode of MHX, I let you see Arturia’s take on far more things, along with getting more gifts. Foundation bricks to be used later begin to appear far more frequently starting here. Back then, I also wanted it to be a subtle upswing even if I wasn’t too sure what the next fragment was going to be like; It was that much of a random attack back then.

Everything thankfully still fell into place. It falls better now that everything was tweaked more to my liking and consistency is levelled across the board. Season 1 still remains somewhat unsatisfying to me, but it’s best I leave it there before I inadvertently break it further. Otherwise little calm gems like Arturia’s fragment will take the hit.

As one final note, her fragment is also the last time a servant will get to star in both a fragment and a supplement (Like Mordred), but that was more a fault of how not-seriously I was taking all this back then.

Fragment 9 Insight (Revisited)

Back when I first wrote this fragment, it would become my first answer to ‘duplicate’ servants. It was my intention to limit the number of similar servants to one and only one back when the series was still very casual. Obviously years later, that door isn’t quite as shut anymore, but my intent to limit duplicates still remain. That meant many, like the swimsuit versions, would be relegated to costume changes or something else.

For MHX, popular or not, it was a potion mishap. Admittedly, it definitely was a bit of a stretch, but back when it was a casual write, I didn’t give it much extra thought. I still feel it was one of the better decisions to make considering MHX is, at her core, still a gag servant despite the backstory and concepts they gave her.

That aside, I still focused on her tendencies as a servant, just as amplified hidden grudges from Arturia’s pride. Namely, the fact so many tease her on certain points. From there, it was a matter of making her focus on those who offended her by means of a potion that amplified one’s emotions to critical levels. I just added a chain of terrible misunderstandings and incidents to put the entire thing into motion.

But despite the tension of being in the situation, MHX was still a gag character. So her fragment needed gags. There were more than an adequate amount spread throughout Fragments’ first “Super” (for Super-length 15k word) fragments. Years later, I still think it’s a fitting addition to help set what sort of lunacy you should expect from this series, even if it does a lot to ground the work with a fair amount of reason.

The revisit was less of a revision compared to some other Season 1 entries. The main fix was Arturia’s reaction at the end. I toned it down quite a bit compared to how melodramatic it originally was so it’s more in line with her character at the time. Other than that, it was mostly grammar fixes.

Despite her fragment being early and a joke, I may or may not let her appear again. After all, there’s still MHXA to give a tip of the hat to.

Fragment 101 Insight

Vlad had a rather weird predicament with his fragment. There wasn’t really a distinctive moment in his development compared to most other servants I’ve shown, so his entry wound up feeling pretty mellow and ordinary. It’s far from out of place in a Slice of Life, but compared to others it likely felt flat or ‘robbed’ to some extent. It doesn’t help there’s a lot of character analysis on others as much as him.

It’s merely an angle I wanted to work with though. After showing a slice of what he used to feel and see at the beginning, I then wanted to show how he presents and holds himself now. If Vlad Extra is the warrior crusader, then Apo Vlad is the kingly ruler. He holds himself highly and acts with royalty. No longer forcefully under Legend of Dracula, he’s also much more acute and responsive to proving he’s not that.

Again, something that’s not shown as much for the fragment. There was one instance where it could’ve been, and another which was, but overall that’s in part due to how Chaldea has come to see him. What’s being portrayed is more of the mundane results of constant insistence. It made his fragment much more suited to advancing a few other pieces for other subplots rather than focus heavily on his own. Once more, likely making his fragment feel ‘robbed’ a bit, but that’s how the dice falls sometimes. I’m not surprised if his fragment feels more like a character analysis to some.

Hopefully the theme felt interesting enough. Obvious reference in the title aside, it was a glimpse into different sort of silences that one could offer. There’s a saying that what’s not said is the loudest of all, so I wanted to toy with that a little bit for different interactions. Nothing overly spectacular, but just something to play around with for speculation.

The following fragment will also partially feel like that, but things will be ramping up after again. I just need a few bits of set up before I start executing results again.

Teaser: He pursued knowledge as much as he taught it, but he was now far more careful with how he did so; That need to atone for a past war weighed heavily in his mind and directed his course. All he ever wanted to do was progress and assist, yet this balancing act had only grown challenging. For his friends and colleagues, he’d do much, but how many times more must he walk that gray line?

Fragment 100 Insight

Usually servants trickled in one or two at a time for most past-year fragments. It hasn’t actually been since Season 2 that multiple servants arriving was a common scene. Fragment 100 fixed that, but for obvious reasons if you read the cancelled supplement. Five in a single fragment is a high count, but despite the many fan favorites, I still ensured BB takes the cake.

That didn’t mean the real star of CCC wasn’t going to get an entrance of her own. It might not be what you expected, but I’ll admit it was actually a split 50/50 decision to pull this. There were a lot of future merits to both paths, but I decided on this one because of the number of developments in the future, plus the balance I try to maintain alongside unique situations. Either way, Meltlilith is now a part of Chaldea, and like many, she’ll find even more than she ever expected to have. Passionlip too.

And of course BB, because she’s the star of this one. With her unique disposition, I personally felt she’d need to have her own strong motivations for coming beyond just simply ‘coming to appreciate’ the masters and what Chaldea may offer. As a Super AI from the Moon Cell, Chaldea would likely feel like a step down in most ways, so her interest in staying seemed a bit fickle. Sort of like she did it on a whim, and helping humanity out still just happened to coincide with her interests.

Though BB’s tendencies and playing around are obvious, I wanted to pronounce a different aspect that CCC only scratched upon. She came to be because of one factor, and that sole factor would likely be the absolute ticket to securing her loyalty. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a unique course into ensuring BB’s stay which I hope you’ll all enjoy. It’s the start of a new curious side arc that also advances several others in tandem (like the background progress of Chaldea’s overall security).

No doubt, BB isn’t stupid. She wouldn’t just level her terms outright without doing things her way. She’d play around a bit, do things without asking, and even make questionable decisions despite being under guard. It only fleshed out a few other characters more, but the main idea here was to get into BB’s head, because she’ll certainly be instrumental in some developments to come.

Obviously her studio will play its own little part, but that one is far more lighthearted than other reveals. I’ve purposefully not mentioned the big reveal which has only been teased on several occasions so far, but you can consider this fragment the first outright indication on Fragments’ direction in terms of tagging along with FGO’s plot. I’ll also give another usual reminder for its direction: Whatever its course may be, you have my absolute promise the Slice of Life premise will remain intact.

You’re all here for fun times, heartwarmers, the absolute norm, and occasional tearjerkers. And possibly the romance too. The mood will never go away, which means what’s to come may not be true canon, but it’s certainly FoC reasonable.

Teaser: It felt good to be completely free of the lingering influence of that accursed noble phantasm. Sure the madness was still there, but it no longer made him thirst for blood at the most inconvenient times. He no longer had a daily reminder of how many saw him. That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to stop showing and pursuing the image he really wished for in this unusual life. 

Fragments of Chaldea turns 3 Years Old

Despite the considered discontinuation back in September, cancelled supplements, and a slower update schedule, Fragments has made it to see its third birthday. Three years ago I started this project on a whim, and now it’s grown into a ~1,800,000 word monster of a fanfiction. It even gained its own dedicated website over the past year to house plenty of consolidated information, author’s notes, and related media.

I’m happy it’s brought delight to many over the years. It’ll only continue to grow, but far more carefully and planned than when it was just a casual experiment. Here’s hoping to another year despite my career soaking up so many hours.

I hope all of you readers and fans continue to enjoy the ride ahead! I’ll keep the standard high and weaved carefully, but there’s still so much potential to be had with FGO constantly releasing new stuff. Here’s to lots more Slice of Life and all the heart-warmers, light drama, and bits of romance that accompany it!

And, of course, FoC’s theme song video (featured during F99) as celebration:

Fragment 99 Insight

Many of you are probably expecting Fragment 100 to be the special one, but honestly, Fragment 99 would technically be the big 1-0-0 since the prologue counts. That said, both were planned to be pretty nice with their own twists, but 99 gets the win for most sentimental prowess.

I wanted it to be special, but I didn’t want it to be overboard. Regardless, it was best done by someone who was often shown in the background content to watch, photograph, and see things from an outside perspective: George. The FGO canon photographer of the servants. That made his fragment even more special considering, well, that’s my career.

And before anyone asks, yes, that minor cameo character served as my not-quite-Stan-Lee-style cameo. Nothing outrageous or overwhelmingly influential, but just enough to help flavor what should be. Essentially, just another supportive character who plays a tiny role in someone’s new life experiences.

In this case, it’s helping to birth the idea of George’s motivational presentation by planting the seed of thought early: What photos can do. Photos are mere snippets of time. Each one is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. Nearly all can forge a story, as those who took standardized creative tests are likely to remember. Thus, what better way to make a subtle recap of everything than to show the servants a subtle recap of the good times.

Many may feel it’s familiar, and you’re not wrong. It’s sort of a spin on the Fragments of Chaldea theme song and video I made last year:

Feel free to play that again and reread that scene if you wish. Obviously some servants have yet to appear because I edited this as an overall mood clip, but I digress. The point is it’s just as much sentiment for you as it’s supposed to be for the present servants. Complete with a name drop.

As a neutral perspective, George also served as a nice way to close the current saga. It wasn’t exactly true closure and an end to the misgivings, but it’s far better than what could have been. Time is essential to everything, and some things can’t be rushed. He still accomplished what he needed to do.

…Only to be reminded that Fate is often fickle, and trouble can loom its head multiple times. Far too many of you have been asking instead of waiting patiently for what was inevitable, but here it is. The CCC supplement falls between this and Fragment 100. I swear though, if any more of you pestered me about it, I would’ve tried to figure a way to delay this EOR further. It was that annoying.

But let’s not end this insight on a sour note. Not when the fragment was purposefully designed to help curve away from the darker tone of recent entries towards newer arcs to come. Maybe still a bit darker and foreboding at times, but a rollercoasters ahs smaller drops after the first big one, no? I still aim to make the ride enjoyable.

Teaser: It felt good to be completely free of the lingering influence of that damn noble phantasm. Sure it was still-

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Nuh uh! Not if I have a say! There’s a lot of you not reading the tumblr answers or the little notes. Tsk, tsk. You would have known like some of the others have. Well? What did I tell you? I wasn’t going to take that long, S-e-n-p-a-i~…