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Cursed by Fortuna

Saber Ōtakemaru Additional Information

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Combat ability

Saber can easily be claimed to be a mighty servant and a warrior whose sheer strength would rival great legend from the age of the gods and as one of the 3 great monsters of Japan he can be easily said to be one of the strongest heroic spirits in all of Japanese history with few who would challenge that statement. Summoned in the strongest of the 7 regular classes Saber can be claimed to be nothing short of a force of nature, a walking natural disaster who would reduce lesser warriors to rubble in his wake. Although he prefers not to use his Marble phantasm and doesnít display the greatest aptitude with it, he could easily cast powerful magical effects able to devastate large areas. If he were to hypothetically be summoned in the Fuyuki Grail war, it would spell a calamity so grave not merely to the grail warís secrecy, but to the very survival of the entire area, that a union of masters would almost certainly be required to destroy him.

As a leader Saber boasts incredible skill with his charisma, but this is limited to the likes of inhuman beings or human beings who would reject their own humanity. However, the level of Charisma he possesses in that regard is so great that it raises the question if perhaps Ōtakemaru himself may not have been designed by the world with the intent of leading monsters. Or perhaps this is merely refectory of Saber having such strength and immense commitment to ďthe typical behaviors of an oniĒ that within the society of oni, where power and brutality determine the capability of a leader he was the natural choice among those who sought to claim the title of Nurarihyon upon the sacred Mount Ibuki. Regardless of the reason so great was Saber as a leader of Oni that under his rule, he was described as having supreme control over all Yokai in Japan and after his final defeat was a feat never replicated or repeated again. As a testament to his legacy in the society of oni, the very name Ōtakemaru became synonymous with that of a great leader and the embodiment of ďtraditional oni valuesĒ, with his rule being described as the golden age of Yokai in Japan and him as a pillar none ever surpassed.

Indeed there is also said to be a handful of yokai surviving of that age of Ōtakemaruís rule, who even upon the rise of Shuten-douji/Ibuki-douji, the very child of the one hailed as the divine ruler and god of yokai across Japan and Ibaraki-douji, the leader who stood against Abe no Seimei refused to recognize them as their leaders. Refusing to consider either as ďworthy successorsĒ to Ōtakemaru it can be said that after Ōtakemaruís rule there never again was a yokai to be accepted and as well served as Ōtakemaruís reign as Nurarihyon. However to assume this is the limit of Ōtakemaru power would be a grave error as he is quite capable, and indeed specializes in swordsmanship. As a warrior Ōtakemaru was claimed to be borderline if not utterly invincible, necessitating the use of the Kusanagi-no-tachi by Jimmu to piece his divine flesh and allow him to be sealed and the enchantment of the Sohaya by Kannon and Bishamonten to be able to bypass the divine power of Kenmyōren, alongside the removal of Shōtōren / Shoutouren and Daitōren / Daitsuuren from his grasp. With all 3 swords activated and in use the number of warriors who could even pray for victory are very few in number.

This is not however to say that Saber is without weakness, as a warrior he largely relies on a vicious and brutal, offensively focused swordsmanship style (involving the use of 1 blade in his hands in a one or two-handed style with 2 blades used offensively with his divine power skill), but this style mainly focuses on swiftly wearing down a foe and breaking them physically and against foes who could endure the finesse of the style would likely be found wanting. Additionally, Saber also is fairly careless in battle often relying on his ability to heal himself, or his divine protection with Kenmyōren to not have to care about being attacked or have to bother focusing on what his opponent is doing only how to best kill them. There also are a few more limits to Saber as a warrior his temper or boredom may cause him to become predictable with his attacks and/or prolong a match of a desire to toy with a foe and amuse himself. Also, Saber relies in his opponentís fear and making them afraid and trying to break them (which may cause him to waste time rather than finish a fight as fast as he can or even let his foe get in a few shots hoping to make them see how hopeless the fight is) and failing this can become angered easily both of which allow for ample opportunity to cause him to hyperfocus or obsess on something (a critical weakness of his and an intrinsic weakness which all oni possess to some degree [their fixation on varying things]) often to the point where someone could figure out a way to best him.

Lastly, as a servant, Saber has an immense burden on a master, he is comparable if not even worse than Karna in this regard where even with his nature as an elemental allowing him to recharge in most cases this isnít enough to fully support him with all 3 of his swords active (and not even enough to support him as a servant when normally manifested) and having all 3 of his swords active would drain even a 1st rate master in minutes. As such as a servant he could be described as similar to a nuke, awesome in power, yet unwieldy in most cases.

Original Dev Note

So I think it may go without saying to some at this point, but my main inspiration for doing this sheet was Nioh 2 (although to avoid any more spoilers Iíll end that topic here), however, while I was writing this and conceiving the lore portion of Ōtakemaru I actually did so mainly based on his role in myth (without really thoroughly checking on what his fate lore was) and combining it with some of the historical elements not fully mentioned in Sakanoue no Tamuramaroís myth (historically the campaign he went on at the emperorís behest also included Ōtomo no Otomaro who I wove into the story as another character who played a part in defeating Ōtakemaru the 1st time and making sure he was dealt with after his 2nd defeat). I do kinda know that the whole demon god aspects kinda bends/breaks the whole demons canít be gods rule (although I do have a few problems with that rule in that it really only mostly works well with some mythologies and religious viewpoints which conceive gods and demons as separate [and really doesnít work great with things like Shinto myth where it has been said that the best way of summing up the relation between yokai and kami is that ďYokai are un-worshipped kami and Kami are un-worshipped YokaiĒ* (Foster "Pandemonium and Parade" 14-15).

* Which also is made a little more problematic in that Nasuís view on gods and monsters seems to leans more into a western view of gods as both beings who are separate from nature spirits and are distinct beings from demons*2 which doesnít mesh well with kami who can be literally anything from embodiments of things in nature like trees, mountains, waterfalls, etc. and yokai who can be anything from actual supposed monsters, to animals who have attained supernatural powers (often through age or other means [kitsune as an example of this, originally they were foxes who grew to gain supernatural power and the weakest of kitsune still actually do supposedly look just like normal foxes]) to creatures who were designed or conceived to rationalize phenomena that (like echoes and the creaks and noises in your house at night, or shivers down your spine) ancient Japan just couldnít explain, to maybe kami who had their myths distorted over time, and even those who might not be based on anything and may have been just conceived by writers. Plus Yokai isnít even really all evil, some may be man-eating monsters, while others may actually be more benevolent and helpful than actual kami (who could at times be at best utterly uncaring about humans and their actions, and at worst actively harm them*3).

*2 which given the demon Bael and Beelzebub (who may or may not have been connected to one of the many cults of Zeus and may or may not have been a god in its own right) may have influenced the perception of the God Baíal, we had the god Hanbi (a rather mysterious figure in Mesopotamian myth who I donít know if we have ever found an image of or known much about) who was said to be the father of Pazuzu and Humbaba (both considered monsters or demons), and we have Lotan/Leviathan situation even then itís not fully clear where the line is drawn on the god/demon conundrum.

*3 Hereís a video going into a little bit of that and also explaining that due to the way Shinto works with a lot of local myths and stories a being considered a kami in one place could be considered a wicked yokai in another (I also would recommend a lot of Gaijin Goombahís videos on Yokai in general as they do a fairly good job of untangling some of their lore, what they are, and such)

Either way, I elected to just put aside the whole god/demon debacle and try to write a good story for the lore, one which acknowledged some bits of Nasu lore, was largely based on the original story, added a bit of backstory on who Ōtakemaru is and where he came from, and also I felt made sense. The whole aspect of Ōtakemaru being a yaksha (a variety of nature spirit associated with mountains from Buddhism and Hinduism which slowly saw them being seen as more muddled in the good and evil aspect over time when the concept moved to china they became portrayed as even more evil beings alongside asura versus the good deva) is a little thing I came up with. Ōtakemaru is actually both Yaksha and Oni, oni have a lot of ties to mountains as is (and they may have been seen as mountain spirits in the Japanese beliefs before being associated with Jigoku by later Buddhist traditions) so I thought it was fitting, overall not all Jigoku are Oni, but in this case, Ōtakemaru is a Jigoku who happens to be an oni. Over time he aged and became powerful enough to become a full elemental and gain a marble phantasm (I know that phantasmal beasts grow stronger as they age and their mystery becomes older, and I know there are different classes of some species like faeries, although Iím not fully sure if a phantasmal species could eventually become an elemental or not; Iím tempted to say yes as I think phantasmal beasts are a class of spirit, but Iím not certain on that or if we even have a case of that happening or not).

Eventually, Ōtakemaru and emperor Jimmu came into conflict and the ladder won and sealed him, developing a shrine to hold the rock he was sealed in that would later be known as Aso shrine (the reason I chose here is that it was both a very spiritually important location, with a mountain with past volcanic history [if Oni are correlated with mountains than perhaps they were considered the cause of volcanic eruptions, as wild violent mountain spirits] and is not all that far from Mount Ibuki). I considered putting him in the Suzuka Mountains like normal, but I couldnít find much info on any of them in particular depth and Iím not sure any of them have any religious significance or any major volcanic activity (plus it was very far from Mount Ibuki which I wanted to write, if only partly into the story). I listed both the names I found from Suzuka Gozenís information according to Nasu and in the version of the story I found, although I think Nasuís versions may just those names translate for English, so either may technically be correct. I also did try to have the abilities of the swords be unique while also trying to make them so that they werenít copy-pasted from Suzuka Gozenís profile or abilities.

The compromise I reached was modifying their abilities in such a way that everything we see Suzuka Gozen do with the swords can have crazy fast mental processing power akin to that of a buddha with Kenmyōren (partly influenced by her and Sakanoue no Tamuramaro having significant ties to Buddhism which essentially just changed the sword from ďgiving the intellect of a god to giving the intellect of a bodhisattvaĒ since they are broadly comparable depending on what kind of Buddhism you are talking about and in works like Journey to the West, Buddha is treated as though he were a god (albeit a lot, lot more powerful). With Shōtōren and Daitōren I actually got those two mixed up until double checking stuff and finding out that instead of Shōtōren shooting a bunch of blades, it was Daitōren which did that and also apparently had the power to turn into magical elemental attacks. Because I felt it would be kinda redundant to give the same sword 2 different projectile-based abilities (and the story I read never specified which blade did what and actually never even claimed that Sakanoue no Tamuramaro used one of the swords from Ōtakemaru to kill his 1000 copies and actually just said it was a holy arrow which split into 1000 copies*). So I just said that the ability to fire magical projectiles was a property of Shōtōren not Daitōren for the purpose of trying to balance out their effects.

* although to be fair I donít know why Nasu ascribed a weapon said to be able to split into 1000 copies to Manjushri when the myth I read cited that the two gods which aided Sakanoue no Tamuramaro were Kannon, the 1000 armed bodhisattva of mercy and not Manjushri I donít mean to criticize here Iím just confused.

When it Shōtōren (the one which makes Suzuka Gozen smarter and I initially got the effects of mixed up with Daitōren) I had decided at this point that with Ōtakemaru having a marble phantasm and thus little use for using Daitōren that I had to do something to mix up the abilities of Shōtōren as really it works best as a complement to Daitōren and without that it is not all that useful to Saber and having 2 useless weapons felt a bit much. So I elected to make it so that the weapon can be used to make one smarter (yet again that distortion is partly born out of Suzuka maybe not having the full context on how the weapon works and distortions from her other weapon and her husband taking a lot of influence from Buddhist myth), however, it also fire the magical projectiles (which I shifted as a property of Daitōren to an ability of Shōtōren). The way it does both of these things is that much like an Azoth blade or Paracelsusí sword it acts as a catalyst for spells and increasing their power, and reducing the amount of lines needed for them to work (thus speeding up the incantation). However Saber mostly just uses this to constantly maintain a spell which grants a regeneration over time effect on him.

Now when it came to Kenmyōren I had to get creative with it, but I had an idea, based on the ideas of the 3 human factors (body, mind, and soul) which Atlas uses I gave the weapon the property of effective enhancing one factor of the user to the level of a god, in Suzuka Gozenís case she enhances her mind in Ōtakemaruís case he enhances his body (which also gave the story a brawn versus brains element to it). I really had no idea on who to say the sword came from, so I just left that up to interpretation, but I elected to make it a divine construct given how strong its effects would be. Now Iíll just try and go through the rest of the interesting development stuff on a case-by-case basis. I originally elected that I wanted this guy to be huge, but I felt the 10 meters of legend was a bit too big, I elected to cut that in about half and make him a touch over 5 meters, 503 cm was just what popped into my head. For his weight, I actually looked up an ideal weight based on height and got a general formula of 52 kg + (1.9 kg times every inch you are above 5 feet) given that Ōtakemaru isnít human I decided to try out the formula and see where it got me (convert 503 cm to inches, subtract 60 inches, multiply by 1.9, convert to lbs to understand the weight) and I didnít feel it was good enough so I adjusted the formula to times 3 kg (instead of 1.9 kg) for every inch above 5 feet and got a value I liked a bit better.

I also struggled to find the exact myths this guy is from so I just listed the myths Suzuka Gozen is from as I figure they are broadly comparable in those and threw in the general caveat of pretty much everything related to Sakanoue no Tamuramaro. I had no real reason for making the year he emerged 600 AD, but I just did it because that would be ~1000 years since he was sealed and that seemed like a fine enough time for him to pop up again, however, due to him fearing that Japan may still have Kusanagi-no-tachi lying around he waited until Yamato Takeru died and the legendary sword (which may or may not have been the original) was lost for him to make his next move. The bit about the Nurarihyon was something I added in, the Nurarihyon is another yokai altogether, however its name means ruler of all yokai and Iím not certain if it was a yokai based on actual myths and stories (and possible eyewitness accounts) or one just made up by writers. I decided to go with the angle that there is no 1 Nurarihyon, that it is a title born by the leader or leaders of the yokai in Japan, and later established that alongside Shuten-douji and Ibaraki-douji Ōtakemaru was considered one of the 3 greatest Nurarihyon to the yokai in Japan (as based on legend they did seem to have enough intellect to form a social structure of sorts), however to some he was not mere 1 of the best Nurarihyon, but the unparalleled best Nurarihyon, the archetype of what an oni should be and act like, and basically a role model who never could be met or surpassed (essentially making him famed not only by humans, but yokai).

The role of Mount Ibuki as the original stronghold of Ōtakemaru was one where I felt it made sense for him to have a stronghold close to the capital, but also was a logical way to integrate the setting (as essentially the yokai equivalent of a hybrid of Washington DC and the Vatican where new Yokai leaders are decided and where the traditionally would rule), however, I also figured the logical way to make it so that Ōtakemaruís story would end in his 1st defeat in the Suzuka mountains would be Sakanoue no Tamuramaro and company realized they stood no chance against the bypassing or enduring literal yokai horde around and in the mountain in any state to fight Ōtakemaru plus if they tried he might elect to make a final stand and charge off to the capital with an army in a company, thus they would lure him to their home field, hopefully with a much smaller group, or no yokai following him before they tried to kill him. This also allowed me to integrate the figure of Akuji-no-Takamaru who Suzuka Gozen from fate mentioned fighting alongside Sakanoue, who would be Ōtakemaruís right-hand man and play an instrumental role in his downfall.

Ōtakemaruís downfall was meant to be portrayed as partly his own making due to him getting sidetracked and rather than just finishing the job, deciding to add insult to injury (had he elected to just destroy the capital and then move on and raze Japan rather than allow the idea of making another Japan with him as itís Emperor with Suzuka Gozen [who he literally just picked because Akuji mentioned she was pretty and he came up with the idea on the spot] then he would have won, instead his own hubris and belief in him being truly invincible thus becoming overconfident ruined him). The aspect of King Yama / Enma-Daiō, Jigoku, and Mount Osore was one I added on as I wasnít sure I liked the original explanation behind Ōtakemaruís return (it seems to be a weird synchronism between yokai myths of warriors surviving their head trying to get bitten by a severed yokai head [which they cut off] having 2 helmets on, and yokai going to India [as I think that happened in Tamamo-no-maeís myth]) instead I decided to roll with the Buddhist elements and had it so that for his wickedness he was dropped into Jigoku and had his head put back on, but since his sword Kenmyōren fell into Jigoku with him he just fought his way back out and escaped via the entrance to Jigoku on Mount Osore (which is an element of myth I came across research potential mountains ton have Ōtakemaru be the yaksha of).

Suzuka Gozen would then find out that Ōtakemaru from Enma-Daiō when she was brought before him to be judged escaped and Sakanoue upon reuniting with her would also find this out and then they would resolve to finally finish him off properly. Enma-Daiō requesting Kenmyōren to be given to him was not really meant to imply that itís his, although in hindsight I suppose it could be seen that way, itís more meant as that he saw the weapon as largely far too dangerous with how powerful it is to be left around else someone else finds it and eventually become another Ōtakemaru (plus it also doubled as a test of character for the two to see if they would be tempted by its power). Ōtakemaru in his haste of building another fortress and his lack of skill in using his marble phantasm (which made it so that he just repeated the same general process he used in the Suzuka mountains again as it worked before) combined with his anger over being defeated and betrayed by Suzuka Gozen forgot that he actually had a secret passage in that base which he showed to Suzuka Gozen and that that may be a may in past the guards. However, in fairness Ōtakemaru had no way of knowing that the two had found out about him being alive again and given that the last time he took over the yokai he had successfully managed to lay low for ~150 years before Yamato Takru lost the sword which may or may not have been the original Kusanagi-no-Tachi he thought he would be safe to lay low again.

Even if he did consider the secret passage and that Suzuka Gozen may have known about it, as mentioned he wasnít skilled with doing fine details or fine control of his marble phantasm, itís quite likely that had he not tired what he knew worked before either the fortress he built wouldnít have been as good as past fortresses, he would have to try to make a fortress using his powers for days or weeks to learn how to make a new one, and that he was angry and didnít want to waste time bothering with powers he never liked how precise he had to be with them at times. However in the end the two found him and with Sohaya / Sohayamaru being enchanted to no-sell Kenmyōrenís powers he met his end once more, with Suzuka Gozen making fulfill their promise and give his sword to Enma-Daiō (who let her live again as a reward) and Sakanoue giving his dead corpse to Ōtomo no Otomaro so that it could be sealed away until his wrathful spirit ran out of energy and finally faded away.

As a servant, I mostly just filled in the blanks here and there based on his legend, abilities it made sense for him to have divine power so his swords could float, and a variant of Oni kind demon. I didnít give him mana burst or riding as I felt he didnít need the ladder, and the former is another thing that I couldnít see him needing and I felt it was kinda overdone (plus with his style of swordsmanship already being based on overwhelming brute force, why would he need another tool to make overwhelm his foes?) I also elected to make it so that kinda like Karna he falls into the powerful, but unwieldy category of servants where he is so strong and that if he could just walk around with all 3 swords active all at once (or even just Daitōren and Kenmyōren) he would be able to curb stomp the entire grail war and unless you are talking about very powerful warriors from the age of the gods*. Aside from that the bit about his relationships I elected to make him very condescending, yet also make it very clear the guy has got a heck of a temper on him, a fact which I emphasized with his personality being very antagonistic and outright wicked towards humans, constantly dismissing them and never thinking they will amount to anything in the world.

* Which does make me potentially interesting in a what if style grail war with the likes of Heracles or Ōtakemaru as Saber, Gilgamesh as Archer, Karna as Lancer, Ozymandius as Rider, Solomon as Caster, Meghanada (aka that guy from the Ramayana who was so OP he could use all 3 of the ultimate weapons of the Trimurti, could turn invisible [and may have been intangible while he was invisible as nobody could ever seem to beat or hurt him while he was invisible [although this is claimed it was due to confusion given he fought entire armies while invisible and in clouds I would more easily believe he was intangible]], beat Indra and a bunch of other gods, was the only guy to beat Lord Rama & Lakshmana at once [and did that two times on two different days], and only ever lost 1 time [the time he also died] to Lakshmana who on the 3rd try finally beat him after he made himself visible [as not even Rama could dispel his invisibility]) as Assassin, and maybe Vortigern as Berserker [able to turn into his dragon form] set not in a single city but across an entire country (with entire cities getting annihilated pretty much every time they fought basis and the rest of the world panicking as the varying magi throw a fit about the masquerade basically being completely obliterated in front of their eyes).

New note

Turns out I was actually wrong on a couple of things, so I wanted to call those out here. First, it turns out I was thinking of Emperor Antoku during the Battle of Dan-no-ura in the 12th century who was accused of having lost the Kusanagi sword, also it turns out I was very wrong on Yamato Takeru (as he lived back during the 1st to early 2nd century according to the records on him) and thus never participated in the Goguryeo-Tang war or the Silla-Tang war if anyone would have been involved in those it would have been Emperors Kōtoku, Tenji, Kōbun, and Tenmu). For the intents of accuracy, I have switched Yamato Takeru with Emperor Tenmu as he also had an anecdote related to it (which supposedly may have been involved in his death), and that in this version of events seeing that the Silla-Tang War was going badly he headed off to the battlefield himself with the Kusanagi sword then died, losing the sword back in 675 AD, which then caused Empress Jitō to ascent to the throne 13 years earlier. I have adjusted the details on this sheet accordingly, I apologize for this inaccuracy and take full responsibility for the mistake.