Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 4: Church of Seiros)

(Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

Welcome back to this thing I’m apparently doing, where I create Pokémon teams for all the characters of this other game I really enjoyed, which has loads and loads of characters. We’ve covered the titular “Three Houses,” so part 4 (of 5, although 5 will be a pretty short one) is for the characters who are part of the Church of Seiros, the dominant organised religion of Fantasy Europe, which has worked with the nations of the continent to maintain peace and order for a thousand years (to greater or lesser degrees of success). As part of that effort, their headquarters, Garreg Mach monastery, plays host to the fantasy RPG school where all the kids we’ve met so far are studying, theoretically ensuring that the young nobles of the rival countries are all friends with each other and might be less willing to start a massive bloody war. Fingers crossed on that one.

Rhea

  • Archbishop of Garreg Mach monastery, which basically makes her the Fantasy Pope
  • Wise and mysterious mentor figure
  • Kind and nurturing to those in her care, but has a worrying tendency to go extremely “Spanish inquisition” on rebels and heretics
    • Might somehow turn out to be the villain
  • Really likes Byleth for some reason she seems unwilling to explain
    • Strictly speaking this is probably a good thing but it still feels ominous
  • She is perfect and I am terrified of her

Favoured types: Dragon, Fire, Ghost
Most of my reasons for the Pokémon I’ve chosen for Rhea are pretty spoiler-heavy.  Let’s say that dragons and fire both have religious significance in this world, and that reverence for the dead is important for Rhea, and leave it at that.

Disfavoured types: Dark, Bug, Normal
Rhea has a very Knight Templar attitude to anything she perceives as dark, evil or heretical.  Her extremely high station also means she sometimes has trouble connecting with the day-to-day lives of ordinary people.

Partner: Reshiram
She’s the Pope.  She gets to have a holy white dragon as her partner; I think that’s fair (if you’ve played the whole game you will recognise… additional reasons… for this choice).

Other Pokémon: Dragonite, Runerigus, Golurk, Ninetales (K), Charizard

Runerigus and Golurk both relate to some tricks she’s got up her sleeve for the second half of the game.  In a way, so do Charizard and Dragonite.  Ninetales has mystic powers and a vengeful bent that suits Rhea’s darker side.

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Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 3: Golden Deer)

(Part 1 and Part 2)

The third of this game’s titular “three houses” are the Golden Deer, students from the Leicester Alliance, which is a federation of nobles who rejected the monarchical traditions of both of the continent’s other nations and formed a new country in the east. They’re slightly more egalitarian, so this house has more low-born students than the others.

Claude von Riegan

  • Future Grand Duke of the Fantasy Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
    • my real-world analogies in this series are extremely loose but, y’know what, I stand by this one
  • Apparently didn’t even know he was a noble until a couple of years ago because his mother decided, quite early on in her life, “fµ¢£ this $#!t; I’m out”
  • Extremely pretty, master of sass
    • Canonically straight, which is some serious bull$#!t
    • I mean, look at him
  • Slytherin AF; has about a dozen zany schemes going at any given time and brews experimental poisons as a hobby
  • Gets on Edelgard and Dimitri’s nerves a lot, but I think secretly they love him
  • Addresses Byleth as “Teach,” which is not as endearing as he thinks it is
  • He is perfect and I love him

Favoured types: Dark, Poison, Flying
Claude is good at (among other things) trickery, poisons and aerial combat.

Disfavoured types: Fighting, Ground, Fairy
Claude will never fight fair if he can help it, and doesn’t like Pokémon who are either too reliant on brute strength or bound by conventional ideas of nobility.

Partner: Naganadel
Claude’s “default” progression makes him a wyvern rider, which Naganadel plays into quite well; being an “outsider” is an important theme of his story, so having an Ultra Beast as a partner rather than a traditional legendary Pokémon seems fitting; and Claude loves Naganadel’s repertoire of poisons.

Other Pokémon: Zoroark, Muk (Alolan), Vivillon, Salazzle, Aerodactyl

Muk and Salazzle provide raw materials for Claude’s poison experiments (I’d specifically like him to have a shiny Salazzle because he gets an albino wyvern later, and shiny Salazzle is white).  Vivillon fits his ambition to break down barriers between peoples of different regions.  Zoroark is an excellent zany scheme enabler.  Aerodactyl is just a great wyvern-ish Pokémon to have with you in the air.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 3: Golden Deer)”

Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 2: Blue Lions)

(Part 1 here)

Welcome back to this ridiculous series where I create Pokémon teams for the ludicrous number of characters in this game I really enjoyed, because that is a thing I do now I guess??

The game’s called “Three Houses” so obviously there need to be three houses, and number two are the Blue Lions, from Faerghus, a kingdom in the northwest part of the continent that broke away from the southern Empire long ago and are now its major rival/frenemy.

Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd

  • Future King of Fantasy Prussia
    • Although going by his name he might be half-Greek and half-Welsh
  • Parents and several of his closest friends were killed a few years ago in a terrorist attack by a neighbouring allied country
    • Kinda fµ¢£ed him up a bit
    • As, y’know, any one of us might reasonably be fµ¢£ed up by that
  • Dutiful, loyal, kind, cares a lot about growing up to be a worthy king
    • Believes in protecting the weak from oppression
    • Wants classmates to treat him as an equal rather than a king, which not all of them can realistically do
  • Struggles to balance moral abhorrence toward violence with seething desire for blood-soaked vengeance
  • He is perfect and I love him

Favoured types: Ice, Ghost, Fighting
Vengeance for the dead is an important theme in Dimitri’s story, as is fighting for a cause, which Fighting-types value.  Ice because he’s from a cold part of the world and dislikes hot climates.

Disfavoured types: Fire, Dark, Poison
Dimitri values honour highly and won’t stoop to the methods of Dark and Poison Pokémon.  Fire as an opposite to Ice, and because he acts as a foil to Edelgard.

Partner: Kyurem
My reasons for picking Kyurem as Dimitri’s partner are mostly related to the second half of his story, which I’m not going to explain.  Kyurem is a legendary Pokémon, so appropriate for one of the house leaders.  It represents emptiness and brokenness, and also has kind of a savage reputation.

Other Pokémon: Banette, Froslass, Sandslash (Alolan), Primeape, Hitmonlee

Banette and Froslass because Dimitri has a lot of vengeful ghosts in his life, and it’s unclear how literal that statement is.  In a fight he likes to get up close and skewer enemies with a spear; Alolan Sandslash feels like a particularly good fit with its icy spines, while Hitmonlee and Primeape are both powerful melee fighters who also provide a contrast between discipline and boiling rage.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 2: Blue Lions)”

Watch our stream!

So today Jim and I tried out streaming Final Fantasy X and chatting about it, and you can watch the result on-demand here:

I am clearly not good at this but we’re going to keep doing it every week, and maybe develop our, uh… live entertainment skills. So if you find this passingly amusing, stop by next week (8-9:30 pm Friday in the UK, 7-8:30 am Saturday in New Zealand); it’ll probably get better!

I guess this is also the first time anyone who reads this blog will have heard my voice? Except the handful of you who also know me in real life, obviously. I dunno if that’s a huge selling point for you. It’s a weird voice. Jim’s is much more representative of a New Zealand accent, mine is all over the place.

so yeah, that’s this thing

Leo MR [Patreon cultist] asks:

So in the course of researching Heracles (particularly the Laomedon episode) I learned that Hera, Poseidon, and Apollo once tried to rebel against Zeus and had him chained (?) but Zeus was freed by Thetis, Achilles’s mother (?!) and then Poseidon and Apollo were punished by Zeus to work in Troy for a few years under human disguises (???) What the Hades was this whole story about and how did it come to be?! I tried looking up more details online but could only find a scant handful of information; do you know anything more about it?

Y’know, I think that is basically the entire story (although I think the business with Apollo and Poseidon working for Laomedon at Troy is a separate issue; the rebellion Thetis helped to stop involved Athena, not Apollo). I’ve only ever encountered it as part of the backstory of the Iliad, and it is there… well, pretty much because Homer needs a reason to have Zeus owe Thetis a favour. This is the memory she invokes when she goes to Zeus in Iliad I and asks him to punish Agamemnon for disrespecting her son by tipping the scales against the Greeks. If you run into the story outside of that context… yeah, you’re absolutely right, it’s bizarre! I don’t think there are any other references to it anywhere in Greek literature – I mean, there are texts I haven’t read and mythology isn’t really my specialty, but if there’s something else out there dealing at length with a rebellion against Zeus among the Olympians, it’s hella obscure. Most scholars working on Homer today think that the epics were originally produced by bards through oral composition-in-performance – that is, “Homer” (who wasn’t a real person, unless he was; readers who are new to my bull$#!t about this should Google “the Homeric Question”) made it up as he went along, knowing the broad strokes of the plot from centuries of tradition, but improvising on a lot of the details. And… honestly I think this bit might genuinely have been improv? The poet knows the way the story is supposed to go – Achilles leaves the battle, and the Greeks are met with disaster for the next several days until Agamemnon relents. He may know that this happens because Zeus is in Achilles’ corner on this one. He might not know exactly why Zeus is willing to step in. So… he goes back to what he does know, because it’s a fact of the tradition: Achilles has a divine mother, who presumably would be able to intercede on his behalf. He could narrate Thetis making a persuasive argument, either to Zeus or to a council of all the gods, but for the most part, characters in the Iliad and the Odyssey tend to get each other to do things by invoking existing relationships and outstanding favours, because that’s how politics works in Iron Age Greece. So the poet comes up with a reason why Zeus might owe Thetis something, and because he’s quite clever, he makes it a reason that has some applicability to the current situation: when Zeus’ authority and station were challenged, Thetis upheld them. He should do the same for her son.

I wish I had more, but I think that may genuinely be the beginning and end of this one.

Red Rain asks:

What’s your favorite primordial deity? Mine is Tiamat.

Gotta be Auðumla – the magic cow who formed from the ice of the primordial void at the beginning of time according to the Gylfaginning, the section of the Prose Edda that deals with the creation of the world in Norse mythology.  The exact cause-and-effect of events in this text is a bit tricky because it’s not a straightforward narrative; the stories are presented in a question-and-answer format (also: not my field, haven’t formally studied these texts, don’t know how they work).  Basically, though, there was a great frozen void, and then there was a cow, and the cow said “let there be milk,” and Ymir, the first of the frost giants, drank the milk, and meanwhile the cow survived by licking the ice, which gradually revealed the first of the Æsir gods, Buri (what he was doing frozen in the ice is anyone’s guess).  They don’t make cows like that anymore.

Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 1: Black Eagles)

I’m dramatically late to the party for doing anything related to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but I’m going to write something anyway because I loved this game and its characters and story.  Because I’m a Pokémon person, I think the best way for me to talk about it is through the medium of creating Pokémon teams for all the characters!

If you haven’t played this game, the setup is that you are a mercenary (your character can be either male or female, and their default name is Byleth) in a continent loosely inspired by late mediaeval/renaissance Europe, divided between three major nations that are historically rivals but share a common language, culture and religion, and have united against external threats in the past.  Shortly after the beginning of the game, you visit a sword-and-sorcery academy, located in neutral ground at the centre of the continent, where nobles of all three nations send their kids to learn how to be JRPG badasses.  The academy is part of a monastery where the Fantasy Pope, Archbishop Rhea, lives.  She decides, unexpectedly and despite your total lack of relevant qualifications, to appoint you to a teaching position; thus the plot begins in earnest.  The students are organised into “houses” according to which nation they come from (so the “Three Houses” of the title are, like, school “houses,” but also noble “houses;” the word “house” is beginning to lose all meaning for me), and this year just happens to be the year the future rulers of all three nations are starting their training, so they get to be class president of each house.  You’re asked to pick a house to be in charge of, and mainly interact with the eight students of that house, but can become friends with others and get them to transfer to your class as well.  You then guide them through the plot, gaining their confidence and affection, teaching them to be fantasy RPG protagonists, fighting bad guys, traumatising them and yourself through exposure to the horrors of war, and so on and so forth.  As a real-life educator this premise scratches a very specific “I am so proud of all of you” itch that I have.  I’ve played through the entire game at the head of all three houses, but in case you haven’t played it and think you might, I’m going to avoid revealing details of the plot or any character development past roughly the first third of the story.

So, without further ado, here’s the first instalment: the students of the Black Eagle House, who come from Adrestia, which is the Fantasy Holy Roman Empire (used to rule the entire continent but has since lost a lot of its power; founded with the blessing of the church but has fallen out with them over time; looks to the past and tradition for its authority and strength).

Edelgard von Hresvelg

  • Future Emperor of the Fantasy Holy Roman Empire
  • Natural leader; charismatic, decisive, supportive
  • Progressive socio-economic agenda
    • I mean, she still plans to rule as an absolute monarch and everything, but they’re a mediaeval empire whose hierarchy appears to have been largely unaltered for about 1000 years; baby steps
  • Has a Dark and Tragic BackstoryTM but channels it into determination to save the world
  • Extremely scary if she gets her hands on a battle-axe; capable of wearing five times her own body weight in plate armour
  • She is perfect and I love her

Favoured types: Fire, Steel, Dark
Fire for spoilery reasons; Steel because she wears about a ton of it; Dark because she can use dark magic and isn’t afraid to achieve her goals by… questionable means.

Disfavoured types: Dragon, Water, Ice
Dragon for spoilery reasons; Water because she can’t swim and is afraid of the ocean; Ice as an opposite element to Fire.

Partner: Heatran
As one of the house leaders, Edelgard deserves a legendary Pokémon as her partner, and Heatran’s Fire/Steel typing, heavy armour plating and willingness to either rule the world, or watch it burn, make it a perfect fit.

Other Pokémon: Emboar, Umbreon, Corviknight, Coalossal, Drapion

Edelgard favours bulky Pokémon with powerful physical defences that aren’t afraid to wade into the middle of a brutal melee.  Emboar, Coalossal and Drapion share her imposing physical presence and ability to dominate in close combat.  Corviknight gives her a “black eagle,” the insignia of her house and the empire she is heir to.  Umbreon is just as tough as her other Pokémon, but fits in better at court.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 1: Black Eagles)”

G.T. Waters asks:

Do you by any chance know who were the first people to make use of lighthouses and the symbolism of lighthouses in antiquity?

Genuinely no idea.  I would guess that the concept of a lighthouse – a tall coastal structure (or even just a signal fire on a hilltop) that provides light for ships to navigate by – probably starts not long after the earliest permanent maritime harbours, which means it almost certainly goes back well into the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC, give or take), and maybe even the Neolithic.  As for where, I’d say Syria or Israel-Palestine is a good bet, but the Persian Gulf would also make sense.  Maybe even southeast Asia, but I don’t know anything about the archaeology of that region.

Herald of Opera asks:

So, it’s been nearly five years now, but I hope it’s not too late to remind you to tell us all about the centaur preserved in honey. You never told us about the centaur preserved in honey, and I don’t feel like looking up translations of Pliny the Elder’s work.

It’s never too late to ask me about Pliny the Elder.

So, in book 7, chapter 3 of the Natural History, Pliny is talking about unusual or miraculous births, beginning from twins and triplets, moving up to more… dubious reports.  He then says the following (my translation):

“It is written that Eutyche of Tralles was laid on her funeral pyre by 20 of her children, having borne 30, and Alcippe gave birth to an elephant.  However, this must be counted as a portent [i.e. the result of divine intervention; in Roman culture the gods were thought to convey their will or displeasure through miraculous or ominous events], just like when a slave girl gave birth to a snake at the beginning of the Marsian War; and there are a wide range of creatures born with multiform bodies that should also be considered omens.  Claudius Caesar [who, in addition to being Emperor, was a prolific historian] writes that a horse-centaur was born in Thessaly and died on the same day, and during his reign I myself saw one, brought to him from Egypt in honey.”

And, well, he could be making this up, but I don’t think that’s his style.  If Pliny says that he saw this centaur, I believe that he believes it.  I think it’s more likely that he was taken in by a hoax.  I think that some Roman bastard in Egypt, looking to curry favour with the Emperor, stitched together parts à la Fiji Mermaid from the dead bodies of a horse and a human (probably either a condemned criminal, whose bodies were sometimes used for medical experiments in Alexandria, or a slave, whom I can only hope died of natural causes) and Fed-Exed the awful thing to Claudius in Rome.  The honey would have kept it “fresh,” because – as the Romans apparently knew, on the basis of this passage – honey has antibacterial properties.  There are jars of honey found in Egyptian tombs of the New Kingdom that are still recognisable as honey and theoretically still edible, although I don’t think anyone has dared to try it.  It was probably the best substance readily available at the time for preserving biological specimens.

I want to imagine a sort of fish-tank setup with big transparent panes of glass and clear golden honey so you could actually see the alleged centaur floating inside.  Sadly, as a Roman glass nerd I know that in Claudius’ time even the Emperor would probably not have been able to get hold of large glass panes of high enough quality to create a setup like that.  More likely, it was sent to Claudius stuffed into a big terracotta jar, and he kept it there and had someone fish it out for Pliny to take a look.

The Romans were weird people.

A Black Lizard-Lion on a Grey-Green Field asks:

How exactly was Athens able to take over the Delian League without anyone contesting it until it was too late to not incite violence?

and related:

A bald eagle implies the existence of a hairy eagle asks:

Why did Athens take over the Delian League?

So… “why” I think is actually pretty simple: because it made them richer and more powerful.  I mean… obviously it’s more complicated than that, and publicly they professed altruistic motives and said the word “freedom” a lot (…remind you of anyone?), but honestly… when you get right down to it, I think it was because wealth and power are useful to have.  Classical Athens was a democracy and we remember it for its literature and art and philosophy, but that doesn’t mean they were “the good guys” in any meaningful sense.  Thucydides, who wrote the main contemporary history of the Peloponnesian War, seems to think that they trapped themselves into it: the more power you gain, the more you have to be afraid of what happens if you lose it, and the more desperately you have to fight to hold onto it, potentially to the exclusion of all ethical concerns.

Continue reading “A Black Lizard-Lion on a Grey-Green Field asks:”