Canon Concerns

A slightly meatier entry than my previous ones, friends. It may also be a bit relevant to fanfiction in general, so hopefully of interest to a wide array of writers rather than just Wayward Son fans or even Fire Emblem fans!

Today I’ll be discussing how I (tried) to ensure Wayward Son stayed in compliance with the canon of Fire Emblem 7. Thus, some familiarity with FE7 will be helpful, but I’ll hopefully explain things well enough that even non-fans can understand it.

So, the first thing we have to consider: How do we discern what, exactly, is canon?

The Fire Emblem games in general, along with Fire Emblem 7 specifically, are medieval TRPGs where you build up an army of knights, mages, etc. to fight against evil sorcerors, dragons, or other knaves trying to destroy the world. Thus, most of the player’s knowledge about the game world and its characters comes from the game script itself–the narrative and the conversations between characters as you win stages and advance to the next. However, Fire Emblem games are also distinctive for having what are called “support conversations.” Essentially, if you keep two units next to each other for a specified number of turns, they’ll eventually be able to have a conversation with each other. They can do this once every level, for a maximum of three levels, meaning there are potentially three conversations to unlock, with the third having the most important tidbits of characterization and stuff. In-game, having these conversations gives characters a “support bond” that increases their effectiveness in battle, but for my purposes I was just interested in the characterization.

So my first order of business was to familiarize myself with the main game script of Fire Emblem 7 as well as all the content of its support conversations for every character. Fortunately, all that information is up on Serenes Forest–VincentASM is truly a hero to the Fire Emblem fandom! That’s not all, though. See, Fire Emblem 7 is a prequel to Fire Emblem 6…meaning that my fanfic would have to be in compliance with that game as well. Fortunately, Serenes Forest STILL had my back 😀

So yeah, that would be the first thing I did when outlining Wayward Son and making sure it was canon compliant: Going to Serenes Forest and checking out the scripts and supports for both FE6 and FE7. Now, after reading all though it once, I felt I had a good handle on it, but still I’d go back and skim the scripts every few chapters or so just to make sure everything was in order.

Serenes Forest also has full maps of Elibe (the continent in which Fire Emblem 6 and 7 take place), which I also had to acquaint myself with periodically to make sure everything was in the right place. For instance, if I had the characters heading to Sacae from Etruria (two countries in Elibe), I’d check the maps to make sure of their respective locations, and then say, “The party headed east to Sacae.” Also, Serenes Forest has maps of every individual level/chapter in both games (and all the Fire Emblem games, for that matter), so if I was setting a chapter in a location you fought in during FE7 or 6, I’d just consult the chapter map and describe the in-game level as it would appear in the mind’s eye of a player. So those are the other sources I measured Wayward Son against: Both the main game script and the supports, as well as the continent map and individual chapter maps 😀

The only other piece of related material I looked at was the Fire Emblem 6 manga, “Hasha no Tsurugi.” Now, the thing with that manga was that it included a lot of characters who weren’t in the game, and generally doesn’t seem to be really ‘canon,’ so to speak, so I disregarded most of its plot points. I did use it as inspiration for my descriptions of some of the architecture, though. ;D

That pretty much sums up my general method for ensuring “canon compliance” with Wayward Son–I may do a more detailed chapter by chapter entry later. How about you guys? What methods do you use to make sure your fanfics are in line with canon?

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