In the grim dark present of roleplaying, there is Only Grail War. Stormshrug's Fate/Crusade is the second campaign following the events of Fate/stay night using rules adapted from Fantasy Flight's Warhammer 40k RPG systems. I'm not in this campaign, but I'm playing a role from the sidelines. His story has already begun...
November 30, 2012. Ishmael flipped uneasily through the dossiers. The planned exchange of the Grail Vessel was approaching rapidly, and there were still too many unknowns. His superiors at the Mage's Association had identified a surprising number of the participants already, but the Holy Grail War is a competition between fourteen participants, not seven. With the more powerful half not even summoned yet, most of what he had to go on was guesswork, not concrete data. Still, it was a start. He set about to internalize what information had already been gathered.
Pieter Zweitäler, 5th generation Magus of German descent, of slim build, and some sort of Japanophile, as betrayed by his flamboyantly-styled blue hair. Did some time at Clocktower before vanishing off the map, only to reappear in Orvieto with Command Spells ready for the summoning. Through a familiar, Ishmael had caught sight of him entering town, fingering some sort of medallion. Perhaps that was the artifact he intended to use in summoning his Servant?
Myrkkanso Alighieri, a relative local from a nearby province. There were rumors that his relationship with his family was strained, with his brother Alonso seemingly favored in dealings with the Mage's Association. Physically frail and haggard-looking, Myrkkanso had a reputation for being absent-minded and odd, which correlated well with Ishmael's familiar spotting him apparently hitchhiking into Orvieto wearing nothing but a nightgown... and riding in the car of none other than...
Gosea Gavroche, a rather irresponsible American magus of corporate affilition. The personal data on him was a bit lacking, but from what he saw, Ishmael had a strangely familiar, uncertain feeling. The most dangerous thing about him would likely be his unpredictability. One of Ishmael's connections had picked up some probing for transactions in valuable artifacts relating to Nikola Tesla, which made him suspect that Mr. Gavroche intended to summon the Serbian-American inventor as his Servant. Gosea's relation to Myrkkanso, on the other hand, was troublingly not mentioned in the documents.
Neil Anderton was a near-complete unknown. It seemed he was wanted in Europe as an art thief, but there was no record of him as a practicing Magus. Indeed, the only indication that he was to participate in the Grail War was from a run-in he'd had with Interpol a month ago, when a Magus on the scene reported detecting a magic circuit consistent with dormant Command Seals from Anderton. However, with no indication that he was even in Orvieto or the surrounding area, his participation was uncertain, to say the least. Ishmael partly suspected that the report could have been intentionally misleading, to hide the identity of a different, true participant.
Robert Eden was another unknown. A day ago, Ishmael had encountered him in the town: though merely average in height, his body was scarred and sculpted, with his hands conspicuously wrapped and padded. Curious, Ishmael had used his mage-enhanced vision, and spotted what appeared to be a dormant command seal beneath one of those wrappings. Father Jamieson seemed not to know of him, so Ishmael had assembled what he could find out since. Robert had served in Iraq and returned rather worse for the wear. His rehabilitation took him to Orvieto, where he was friendly with some of the locals and mostly kept to himself. Ishmael couldn't be sure that even Robert himself was aware of the Command Seals he possessed, but would keep an eye out for his involvement.
Then there was Salvador Freyr Ventana, whom the Church had warned him about specifically. Tall, with well-defined muscles barely hidden under priestly robes. Dark hair on light skin, always composed, driven. A former member of the Assembly of the Eighth Sacrament, Salvador had been involved in cleaning up after the Venice Grail War. However, for reasons the Church declined to disclose, he had cut ties with them and was now acting as an independent party. As an Executor, Salvador had been involved in expunging various powerful existences the Church considered impure, so he possessed notable combat power even before summoning a Servant.
The final Magus was apparently one Aileas Ravenwood, an aging woman who had been one of the foremost researchers in necromancy for the past four decades. Notorious for her shameless grave-robbing, and how she'd done in her onetime rival by offering him an untested formula for undeath. Her personality was well known to the Mage's Association, and the dossiers indicated that her priority would doubtless be on survival first. This was corroborated by what Ishmael had observed -- that she was apparently constructing a defensive fortress in the catacombs at the bottom of St. Patrick's Well. It seemed she had also just recently come into possession of the legendary sword Mistilteinn, which left no doubt as to the identity of the Servant she would soon summon.
Assuming no mistakes in the data he'd gathered, all seven Masters that would enter the Holy Grail War were determined. Strangely, it seemed that none of the Servants had been summoned yet, despite the readiness of the Grail Vessel. As he finished his coffee and set aside the files, Ishmael took a deep breath. A storm was coming: it was likely that all the Servants would be summoned in the next few days.
He would need an ally to make it easier to get around for a while, someone Ishmael knew he could read, someone with knowledge of the Grail War but not directly involved this time, someone who could be out of the focus of the Grail War for now. The list of candidates was very short. Yet, at that very moment, as if beckoned, Ishmael sensed someone familiar nearby...