Master (マスター, ?) is a designation given to an individual, usually a magus, who has become one of the formal participants of the Holy Grail War by obtaining Command Spells and forming a contract with a Servant.
With advanced manipulation of the system, it is possible to accomplish feats like having two Masters for one Servant. Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald takes control of the Command Spells, while his wife, Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri provides energy. Either one is capable of holding or accepting new Command Spells to control the Servant.
It is not possible for a person who is not a Master to steal Command Spells to become a Master, but a Master creating a Book of the False Attendant can provisionally transfer it so long as the person retains the book.
Under ordinary circumstances, a Master is always a spellcaster, usually a Magus with a Magic Circuit, who is selected by the Grail. It is possible for an ordinary person to become a Master, as in the case of Souichirou Kuzuki, as well as untrained individuals such as Ryuunosuke Uryuu, though this is rare.
A Master that is providing Prana to a Servant will "leak" magical energy in a volume that is easily detectable to most spellcasters. The leakage is distinctive, allowing a Magus to determine that the Master has a contract with a Servant.
An active Master will also possess a Command Spell as a visible proof of their contract.
A Master is always a Master, whether he currently has a Servant or not, as long as he still has the Command Spell. A Master without a Servant can make a pact with an unclaimed Servant at will, though having too many Servants is hazardous to the health of a Master due to Prana consumption. This also means that a Master can claim a new Servant regardless of the length of time since his last Servant.
In providing magical energy to their Servant, they are connected by Magical Paths to facilitate the energy. The Master has complete control over how much energy is granted, allowing them to have hold over the actions of the Servant except in cases where they possess Independent Action. They can limit the energy to keep the Servant at a level below themselves like Caster's original Master, and they can cut it off to force Servants into spiritual form. The Servants have some control over accepting the energy, allowing Rider to exclusively use his own energy to actualize his Noble Phantasm to keep from draining his Master to death due to his inferior ability as a magus. It is possible to redirect the paths to to other magi, allowing for the burden on the main Master to be greatly reduced. If there is a problem in establishing the paths or if the Master is unable to provide energy due to being a normal human, the Servant will be limited to only their current stock of energy unless they establish outside means like draining from the leylines or eating human souls.
Traditionally, a Master is an individual who has formed a contract with a Ghost Liner type Familiar, for the purpose of acquiring the Holy Grail of Fuyuki City. There are no actual restrictions on how the contract is used, when it is made, or how long it lasts, but the Servant inevitably has goals of its own.
In order become a Master, a person must successfully summon a Servant through use of a specific Formal Craft ritual. Upon completion, the Master must formalize a contract with the Summoned Servant by acknowledging their respective roles. The process creates a link between the two, allowing the Master to support the Servant with their Prana or an external source.
In every known case, with one exception, Masters only occur through the power of the Great Grail of Fuyuki City. The Grail both selects prospective Masters according to their need and provides the majority of the energy needed to manifest and maintain the Servant. It also provides the Command Spells which grant limited control of the Servant to the Master.
The one exception to the rule is the case of Illyasviel von Einzbern, who successfully summoned Berserker without the aid of the Grail through the techniques of the Einzbern family. Her Command Spells were physically inscribed on her body with an unknown power source. The Grail recognized her as a legitimate Master, despite the abnormality, as she had the aptitude to become the vessel of the Lesser Grail.
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