Fate/stay night is an adult visual novel developed and published by Type-Moon for Windows computers on January 30, 2004. An "all-ages" version, entitled "Réalta Nua", was published by Kadokawa Shoten in 2007 for the PlayStation 2, removing the game's adult content and introducing voice acting. Réalta Nua was later ported to the PC digitally as three separate episodes, each corresponding to the game's three routes. Réalta Nua was also ported to the PlayStation Vita in 2012, featuring three new animated openings produced by Ufotable, and later to the Android and iOS devices in 2015. Fate/stay night has never received an official release outside of Japan, however a fan group named Mirror Moon released an unofficial English translation patch for the game on November 1, 2008.
Fate/stay night was Type-Moon's first release as a commercial organization, having transitioned from being a doujin group after the success of their Tsukihime franchise. The title proved to be a huge success and quickly grew into a veritable media empire with the story being adapted into several anime TV series and movies, light novels, and manga series.
A sequel to Fate/stay night named Fate/hollow ataraxia was later released in 2005 for the PC and many spin-offs for various platforms and genres have followed since.
Shirou Emiya was the sole survivor of a large fire storm that devastated his neighborhood. He was rescued and adopted by a man named Kiritsugu Emiya. Kiritsugu was a magus who fought in the Holy Grail War and survived. A few years, later Kiritsugu dies, leaving Shirou his estate. Shirou was then raised by his high school teacher and grand daughter of the local Yakuza boss Taiga Fujimura, and 1 year before the main story begins, Sakura Matou as well. To him, they are just like a family.
One day, after staying after school late cleaning the school's archery dojo, he spots two warriors battling each other as part of the next Holy Grail War. As the War's policy states, bystanders must be eliminated. He is killed by one of those warriors, a man wielding a Spear. The other warrior and his master, a student at his school, who happened to have a crush on him finds his body, and soon after she uses a powerful magic gem to revive him.
After returning home, Shirou is attacked once again by the man with the Lance. While trying to escape with his life, Shirou enters his storehouse, where a Magic Circle existed on the ground. During his panic, he summons a Servant named Saber, a beautiful European girl, who wields an invisible sword. With this, Shirou was dragged into the Holy Grail War and thus begins the story of his path to earning the final prize and becoming a true hero.
Shirou was the sole survivor of a large fire that ravaged the area of Shinto. He was rescued by Kiritsugu Emiya, a participant of the Holy Grail War, and was adopted by Kiritsugu. Kiritsugu shared his dream of becoming a hero of justice with Shirou. Shirou was inspired and adopted Kiritsugu's dream as his own. 5 years after the fire, Kiritsugu passed away and Shirou was left alone and depressed. He was then taken into the care of Fujimura, a friend of Kiritsugu's, a neighbor, and his high school teacher.
5 years after that, Shirou was involved in another Holy Grail War, but this time as a participant. He swore to win the war to prevent another disaster from happening again.
Saber is a Servant of the Holy Grail War. She is a powerful warrior with a stoic disposition who wields an invisible sword.
Saber has an extremely strong sense of chivalry. She quickly acknowledges Shirou as her Master and she swore to protect and fight for him in the war. Unfortunately, Shirou is not a skilled magus, and his lack of proper training caused Saber to fight at a level far below her full capacity.
Saber is strongly motivated to win the war because she has a wish she wants fulfilled.
Rin is the latest in line of the distinguished Tohsaka magus family. She is an exceptionally talented, knowledgeable, and powerful magus. Rin inherited her family's role as supervisor of Fuyuki City.
At school, Rin presents herself as a model student and is widely regarded as an idol, scoring exceptional grades in all subjects. Her near-perfect appearance is used to repel any attention directed towards her, which serves to keep her identity as a magus secret from her fellow schoolmates.
Rin is participating in the war with her Servant Archer. Her motivation for winning the war is simply her pride as a magus and as the representative of the Tohsaka family.
Fate/Stay Night is heavy on narrative, with the occasional choice of 2 or 3 options. Roughly half the choices in the game are important for furthering the story, in which the wrong decision will lead to a game over, which usually involves the death of Shirou. The general advice to successfully further the story is to act according to Shirou's nature. Also, each story path focuses on a particular girl, and making choices that favors that girl is a requirement to successfully advance through the story.
Fate/Stay Night starts with a relatively short prologue told through Rin's and Shirou's eyes. It consists of 3 story paths, Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven's Feel. Fate focuses on Saber, Unlimited Blade Works focuses on Rin, and Heaven's Feel focuses on Sakura and Illyasviel. Fate/Stay Night employs an enforced playing order, where only the Fate route is initially available. The other 2 will be unlocked as the previous story paths are completed. There are a total of 5 endings, Fate has 1 and the other 2 has 2 each.
There are a total of 40 bad endings, and reaching a bad ending will send the player to the Tiger Dojo, the hint corner of Fate/Stay Night. The Tiger Dojo is hosted by Fujimura and Illyasviel and they may explain why the bad ending is acquired, but it is usually a comedy routine. Acquiring all 40 bad endings will unlock a scene where Fujimura and Illyasviel comments on the story.
Holy Grail War
The Fuyuki Holy Grail War was initiated by the Magic Association by 3 magus families, the Tohsaka, Makiri, and Einzbern. It is a battle royale between 7 Masters and their Servants who are vying for the ultimate prize, the Holy Grail; which has the power to grant any wish for the Master and Servant. Kotomine claimed that the Holy Grail will only present itself to the last remaining Master but the truth is that the Holy Grail will only properly materialize after at least 6 Servants have been defeated.
The first war was held 200 years ago, and the following wars were held every 60 years after that. The fifth war that was chronicled in Fate/stay night is held 10 years after the fourth war. All the previous wars had no clear winner. After the third war, the Magic Association decided that the wars needed to be supervised, and an agent from the church was hired.
The Magic Association laid a law that all their activities must be kept secret from civilians, including the Holy Grail War.
The Holy Grail is a vessel of power. The Holy Grail in the Fuyuki Holy Grail War is the 726th Holy Grail in recorded history. The Holy Grail chooses the Masters of the war. It is a spirit object that can only be accessed by a Servant who are spirit beings.
Kotomine claimed that the Holy Grail helped to summon the Servants. The energy to summon the Servants are actually provided by the Great Holy Grail and the power in the Holy Grail is derived from the the defeated Servants. At least 6 Servants is required to provide the Holy Grail with enough energy to grant a wish.
Great Holy Grail
The Great Holy Grail is a large magic circle which houses a large supply of magical energy. It provides the energy to summon Heroic Spirits as Servants. The Great Holy Grail slowly collects magical energy from its surroundings and it requires 60 years to pool enough energy to summon 7 Heroic Spirits.
A Master is a magus that is chosen by the Holy Grail to participate in the Holy Grail War. A representative of the 3 founding families, the Tohsaka, Makiri, and Einzbern, will be prioritized. The Holy Grail will give them a set of 3 Command Spells in order to form a contract with a Servant to fight in the war. The Master's duty is to supply the Servant with magical energy.
A Command Spell is a pattern of condensed magical energy. It is red in color and is branded on the body of the Master. As long as a Master has at least 1 Command Spell, the Servant will be compelled to not harm the Master. The Servant's will to obey the Master depends on their personality and relationship.
A Command Spell can be consumed to force an order on the Servant, as long as the action is within the ability of the Servant. It can also be used to provide a temporary boost to a Servant. A Command Spell can be used to summon the Servant to the Master's location. The power of a Command Spell order depends on the scale of the order and the power of the Master.
If a Servant is killed, the Master may retain his or her remaining Command Spells. If a non-Master magus forms a contact with a Servant, the Master will gain a set of Command Spells. If a Master loses all their Command Spells, they are not disqualified from the war.
If a Master lost his or her Servant but still have at least 1 Command Spell, he or she may form a contract with another Servant. If a Master still has at least 1 Command Spell after end of the war, he or she may retain it after the war.
A Heroic Spirit is a being that is worshiped as a legend. They are removed from the time axis and moved to the Throne of Heroes which is placed outside of time.
In the Holy Grail War, a Heroic Spirit is summoned as a Servant. The strength of the Heroic Spirit depends on his or her fame in his or her original time and the time he or she is summoned in. A Heroic Spirit is stronger if he or she is summoned at the country where their legend originated in.
Usually, Heroic Spirits hail from the past when they had time for their legend to spread.
Servants are the embodiment of Heroic Spirits who fight in the Holy Grail War alongside their Master. They are considered as magic familiars and are spirit beings.
Servants are immensely powerful beings. Summoning them as a familiar is beyond the ability of any one magus; but in the Holy Grail War, the Servant Class System is used, and the Great Holy Grail provides energy to assist in the summoning and to perform the Third Sorcery to give them form.
When a Servant is defeated, the energy used to give them form will be transferred to the Holy Grail and the Heroic Spirit will return to the Throne of Heroes. The Heroic Spirit will not retain their experience of their participation in the war.
Summoning a specific Heroic Spirit can be done by using a catalyst that is closely related to the Heroic Spirit. A catalyst is generally a necessity for summoning particularly powerful Heroic Spirits.
A Heroic Spirit that is summoned will be given the knowledge of the current era, technology, location, and culture so that they can quickly adapt to the era that they are summoned in. This way, they will not suffer from culture shock.
A Servant may choose to revert to spirit form to become immune to physical attacks and to conserve on energy consumption.
In the war, a Servant would generally prefer to keep the identity of their Heroic Spirit secret because the legend associated with them precisely detail their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. They will also try to withhold from using their Noble Phantasm as well because the identity of their Noble Phantasm is closely linked to the identity of the Heroic Spirit.
Servant Class System
The class system is a template for summoning Heroic Spirits. It serves to limit the abilities of Heroic Spirits to reduce the energy required to summon them. Each of the 7 class has a predetermined template of abilities and specific requirements.
The Saber class is a sword-wielder.
Tthe Saber class is generally strong in melee combat and rather agile. The Saber class also have some amount of magic resistance.
Known Servants of the Saber class: Saber
The Lancer class is spear or lance-wielder.
The Lancer class is known for their speed. The Lancer class also have some amount of magic resistance.
Known Servants of the Lancer class: Lancer
The Archer class specializes in projectile weapons.
The Archer class has the Independent Action ability which allows them to act outside their Master's orders and to last for a period of time without a supply of magic energy from a Master. The Archer class also have some amount of magic resistance.
Known Servants of the Archer class: Archer, Gilgamesh
The Rider class specializes in mounts.
The Rider class has a very high requirement in the Riding ability. Servants of the Rider class is also known for their extremely powerful Noble Phantasms which uses their mount.
Known Servants of the Rider class: Rider
The Caster class specializes in spell-casting.
The Caster class has a very high requirement in the Magic parameter. Heroic Spirits of the Caster class are generally weak in melee combat.
Known Servants of the Caster class: Caster
The Assassin class specializes in stealth.
The Assassin class has a very high requirement in Presence Concealment ability. The Assassin class generally have poor combat stats.
Known Servants of the Assassin class: Assassin, True Assassin
The Berserker class fights with uncontrolled rage.
The Berserker class has the requirement that a Heroic Spirit must have gone berserk at least once in their lifetime. The Berserker class has the Mad Enhancement ability which increases all their parameters in exchange for turning the Servant berserk. The Servant often loses some of his or her other abilities.
Known Servants of the Berserker class: Berserker
A Noble Phantasm is the signature of a Heroic Spirit. It is usually a weapon, but it can also be an armor, accessory, or ability.
A Noble Phantasm is generally considered to be a Servant's most powerful attack. They are usually activated by channeling magic energy into them and chanting their name. Because of this, activating the Noble Phantasm attack will give away its identity; and in the process, revealing the identity of the Heroic Spirit as well.
One of the game's lines, "People die when they are killed.", was intended to poke fun at the trope of nigh-invincible anime protagonists, as well as establishing Shirou's vulnerability after losing Avalon's regenerative benefits. The line went on to become a commonly referenced meme among anime communities for its awkward delivery after appearing in the game's anime adaptation. Type-Moon has since jokingly referenced the line in later titles.