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In Unlimited Blade Works, we eventually learn that Archer was summoned as Rin had a relic associated with him (i.e. the pendant Shiro keeps). In the recent anime adaptation, there is also some statement to the effect of "a relic is required to summon a servant".

Similar sentiment is expressed in the Fate route of the visual novel. On the last day, Saber tells Shiro that he must have been able to summon her as a result of having had Excalibur's sheath embedded in him (similar to how it was embedded in Irisviel in Fate/Zero):

To summon a heroic spirit, one needs a symbol connected with that spirit.

This seems in line with the other summonings we see, such as Waver's use of a cloak to summon Iskandar and the trouble the Einsberns take to retrieve the sheath so that Kiritsugu summons a good servant. Finally, some remark Lord El Melloi makes about having to find a relic last minute suggests that a relic is always required.

Is this ("a relic is always required for a successful summoning") correct? If so, did Rin have anything she knew to be a relic when she summoned Archer? (I feel like she didn't, but if a relic is required, I would have assumed that she'd be aware of this, as a reasonably competent magus.)

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    Briefly: a relic is not always required. For example, Ryuunosuke had no relic. He had to get a Caster since that was the only class left, but the reason he got his specific Caster (Gilles de Rais) was that that specific Caster was very much like him (i.e. a goddamned psychopath). See also: anime.stackexchange.com/a/20536 – senshin Aug 3 '15 at 3:47
  • @senshin dam sometimes that "one new comment" can really hide itself. you more or less answered it before i was finished – Memor-X Aug 3 '15 at 4:17
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    @senshin Bluebeard's summoning is a little unclear. Ryuunosuke had a necronomicon-like spell tome, apparently with some legitimate magical ability to it, when he (inadvertently) performed the summoning. I've always understood this as meaning that the tome provided a tenuous connection to anyone that had occult/Cthulhu-esque connections. It then used personality comparison to pull Bluebeard as the best choice. This would be similar to Sakura's catalyst being described as a week connection to many possibilities, with personality traits then selecting Medusa. – zibadawa timmy Aug 3 '15 at 5:56
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A catalyst is not required, but most Magi prepare for one because they have been preparing to partake in the Holy Grail War for years.

Most Masters will prepare a catalyst with which to summon their desired Heroic Spirit, but it is not absolutely necessary. Without a specific artifact, the Grail will, rather than base it on their power, chose a Servant based upon similarities to the summoner's own nature.

Source: Servant - Summoning

This coincides with Gilles de Rais' summoning in the 4th Holy Grail War:

His Master was Ryuunosuke Uryuu, a serial killer who unwittingly performed a successful summoning ritual using the blood of a murdered family. Ryuunosuke lacked a cataylst so the Grail chose a servant with the closest personality to Ryuunosuke. He first introduces himself to his Master as Bluebeard.

Source: Caster (Fate/Zero) - Role

You can see a list of all the the heroes who are known to have been summoned with a catalyst in the Catalyst section of the Servant page, and you'll notice that not only Gilles is missing.

You'll also notice that the mirror used to summon Medusa was a weak catalyst, so Sakura's similar personality helped summoning Medusa:

Mirror dug up from a temple in Eritrea, an item with ties to an old Earth goddess of Greece. It is noted to have been a weak catalyst to Medusa, so Sakura Matou's similar personality plays a role in the summoning.

  • This makes sense, but how would Archer and Saber's comments be explained then? – Maroon Aug 3 '15 at 4:44
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    @Maroon well unlike other Servants Arturia can remember the events of the past war as she isn't a copy. since both times her Sheath was used as a catalyst she could come up with that given that she didn't know Ryuunosuke used nothing to summon Gilles and it's not like Masters are going to reveal their catalyst to an enemy for fear it may reveal their Servant's Identity. also with Rin i don't remember there being any mention of her having prepared a catalyst, just the optimum time for her magic and having saved it up in order to try and summon Saber (didn't matter who Saber was) – Memor-X Aug 3 '15 at 4:52
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    @Memor-X A catalyst is used in Archer's summoning, it's just in reverse. We learn that Rin possesses a large ruby-like jewel pendant that she stores mana in, and she tries using that stored energy to force a powerful summon (if I remember correctly, but it's not terribly important if she didn't). This gem would come to carry great meaning for he-who-would-become-Archer. In actual fact it is Archer's copy of the jewel that acts as the catalyst, establishing a link to his summoner, rather than the usual way: a catalyst connecting the summoner to the Heroic Spirit. – zibadawa timmy Aug 3 '15 at 5:45
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    @Maroon As far as their comments go, these must always be taken with a grain of salt in the Type Moon universe/multiverse. They are fallible and have their own interests. The short way to understand it is that the whole Type Moon universe is composed of a large assortment of conceptual rules and truths, all of which can be subverted, altered, and poorly understood. Think about many of the servant abilities and summonings and this should make sense: Lancer in Zero was summoned by breaking the summoning rules; Lancer in FSN reversed cause/effect; etc. – zibadawa timmy Aug 3 '15 at 5:50
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    @zibadawatimmy oh i known that about EIMYA's Catalyst but Rin didn't knowingly prepare one which would be another indication that one does not need a catalyst. when no Servant appeared her first thought wasn't "maybe i needed a catalyst" it was her realizing her timing was off, then Archer destroy's her living – Memor-X Aug 3 '15 at 5:51

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