Series of questions

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Series of questions

Postby Witchalok » Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:25 am

Long time reader, first time poster... bla bla bla.

Actually, I've been reading Erfworld since the very beginning, just one or two days after it was first posted on Giantitp (thanks to a link from LICD).
However not being a frequent lurker on this forum means that at the moment I find myself with some questions regarding how things are going in the comic.

I understand that perhaps some questions do not have an answer at this point in the comic, and some are more about the world the comic takes place in, but hopefully some of you will be able to elucidate me.

So, in no particular order:

1. I remember it being said at one point that croakamancers were quite rare in Erfworld. Bu how rare are they? Obviously we do not have information about anyone else apart from Wanda, but surely some of them must exist and they must have a strong opinion regarding what's going on.
With "decrypted" being miles ahead of "uncroaked", how do they feel about their role in all of this? We see the Thinkamancers being united and taking a stand, the Predictamancers, the Hippiemancers....
Almost everybody seems to have a hidden agenda, so do the Croakamancers have one?
What do you guys think?

2. How do all of these hidden agendas fit into the game-like world of Erfworld anyway? At first the comic seemed pretty "simple" plot-wise.
You have a gamer transported into a game-like world. All the rules are according to turn-based games that some of us are familiar with.
But from my knowledge there aren't any games where the "units" have greater things in mind and collaborate in secret behind the backs of the NPC leaders and Player Characters.
Doesn't that seem odd to anyone else?
Not that I'm complaining, it makes for a better story, but I can't shake the feeling that the setting changed drastically since the first book.

3. If a fight breaks out in the MK, does anybody stand a chance against the Thinkamancers? They could link-up, two by two (or even a tri-link) and assault the minds of every caster before they even have a chance to notice that the aggression has begun. If I were a caster, I'd worry about the Thinkamancers the most.

I do have more questions (as almost every new comic update raises more), but these are bugging me the most at this point.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Finn MacCool » Fri Sep 28, 2012 5:56 am

Witchalok wrote:3. If a fight breaks out in the MK, does anybody stand a chance against the Thinkamancers? They could link-up, two by two (or even a tri-link) and assault the minds of every caster before they even have a chance to notice that the aggression has begun.

i think the predictamancers would have a pretty good chance.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Nnelg » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:19 am

Witchalok wrote:But from my knowledge there aren't any games where the "units" have greater things in mind and collaborate in secret behind the backs of the NPC leaders and Player Characters.

I think that's kind of the point, actually. To me Erfworld is about the implications of a real-life world where the laws of physics just happen to be the rules of a TBS game. The first book seemed to explore this concept in the form of questioning the ethics of sending actual people out to slaughter as callously as one would the units in such a game. This book seems to have moved in a different direction, but the fundamental concept of Erf is still the same (just viewed from a different angle).
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Re: Series of questions

Postby 0beron » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:01 am

Witchalok wrote:1. I remember it being said at one point that croakamancers were quite rare in Erfworld. Bu how rare are they? Obviously we do not have information about anyone else apart from Wanda, but surely some of them must exist and they must have a strong opinion regarding what's going on.
The rareness of Croakamancers is a bit ambiguous. We don't know whether they actually POP at a smaller rate than other casters, or whether some sides immediately disband them because the discipline disgusts them. It also could be that not many can survive in the MK due to the lack of work to pay their upkeep.

Witchalok wrote:2. How do all of these hidden agendas fit into the game-like world of Erfworld anyway? At first the comic seemed pretty "simple" plot-wise.
Though it is arguably more complex, you've obviously never played Dungeons and Dragons :p It's actually totally plausible (and it makes it more exciting when this is the case) that 3rd parties the player isn't directly aware of have their own plots and agendas. This can happen in any game that is being run by a clever/skilled Game Master (or in this case writer)

Witchalok wrote:3. If a fight breaks out in the MK, does anybody stand a chance against the Thinkamancers?
The disciplines are all so unique it's a little bit like comparing apples to oranges. As someone already noticed, Predictamancers have a pretty obvious edge, given their ability to know a split second before what the Thinks will do. Carnymancers or Luckamancers can rig the rules and odds in their favor. Hippies, Fools and Shocks could prevent the Thinks from engaging (or from doing so effectively) in the first place. Turnamancers could turn them on the spot and turn it into a Think-civil war.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Lamech » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:34 pm

Witchalok wrote:1. I remember it being said at one point that croakamancers were quite rare in Erfworld. Bu how rare are they? Obviously we do not have information about anyone else apart from Wanda, but surely some of them must exist and they must have a strong opinion regarding what's going on.
With "decrypted" being miles ahead of "uncroaked", how do they feel about their role in all of this? We see the Thinkamancers being united and taking a stand, the Predictamancers, the Hippiemancers....
Almost everybody seems to have a hidden agenda, so do the Croakamancers have one?
What do you guys think?
Well we haven't seen any other Croakamancers. They would probably be pissed if Wanda started offering resurrection services though.
2. How do all of these hidden agendas fit into the game-like world of Erfworld anyway? At first the comic seemed pretty "simple" plot-wise.
You have a gamer transported into a game-like world. All the rules are according to turn-based games that some of us are familiar with.
But from my knowledge there aren't any games where the "units" have greater things in mind and collaborate in secret behind the backs of the NPC leaders and Player Characters.
Doesn't that seem odd to anyone else?
Not that I'm complaining, it makes for a better story, but I can't shake the feeling that the setting changed drastically since the first book.
Ever played in a game like world, were one side has a lot of different "players"? Some units may be simple (like most infantry or warlords), but the people who are more like players start plots fast. If you ever played online Mafia or Werewolf you'll know what I mean.
3. If a fight breaks out in the MK, does anybody stand a chance against the Thinkamancers? They could link-up, two by two (or even a tri-link) and assault the minds of every caster before they even have a chance to notice that the aggression has begun. If I were a caster, I'd worry about the Thinkamancers the most.

Linking in the middle of combat is probably pretty risky, but I'm guessing if they had time to set up things would get bad for everyone else. (Or even a link up of just Sizemore and Maggie.) However if combat breaks out now, I doubt any links will get used. Maybe Sizemore could burrow some to a safe location though.

If things came to a head now, I suspect everyone would just start blasting though. Decryption has the potential to hand Parson all of the MK though.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby 0beron » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:41 pm

Lamech wrote:Well we haven't seen any other Croakamancers. They would probably be pissed if Wanda started offering resurrection services though.

Oh yeah, I forgot to finish answering this. We did hear that MK casters in general had come to the "consensus" that Wanda was using the 'Pliers to extend Croakamancy into the Life Axis. To me, this implies there must be a handful of MK Croakamancers who would have participated in this debate. We can't know their personal opinion, but we do know the MK as a whole is very displeased by this hypothesis.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby drachefly » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:36 am

0beron wrote:
Witchalok wrote:1. I remember it being said at one point that croakamancers were quite rare in Erfworld. Bu how rare are they? Obviously we do not have information about anyone else apart from Wanda, but surely some of them must exist and they must have a strong opinion regarding what's going on.
The rareness of Croakamancers is a bit ambiguous. We don't know whether they actually POP at a smaller rate than other casters, or whether some sides immediately disband them because the discipline disgusts them. It also could be that not many can survive in the MK due to the lack of work to pay their upkeep.


Or if their role leads to them getting croaked themselves more easily than other casters.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Beeskee » Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:18 pm

They are one of the caster types that is more useful in combat than sitting in a city. It seems entirely reasonable that they might have a higher croak rate just from being put in danger more often.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Witchalok » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:29 am

Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

In regards to my second question.
In the beginning the "game" seemed pretty basic. I don't have a lot of experience with fantasy turn based strategy games (bar some Heroes of Might and Magic and one called Warlords that I played for a whole summer when I was a kid) but they didn't have these subtleties.
Although as 0beron pointed out, a game being run by a Game Master would probably have this. (So are the Titans the Game Masters?. Did Parson's players continue the game without him?)

It's just that at one point, the game world went from "you have duty towards your overlord/king so you are obliged to obey or else you are disbanded automatically" to "you have a lot of "free will" and you can even conspire against your ruler or even your side in order to meet your own goals".
I know that I am simplifying things, but to me it seems that things changed quite abruptly.
So much so in fact that I am wondering if Rob had planned for the second book when he first started the comic. Does anybody know if that's the case?

@lamech: I understand your point, but I think that you are talking about player characters. In a game they are the only ones with free will. Everything else is scripted (or devised on the spot by a Game Master if there is one).
I think that it's a that pity the idea that Parson had in book I, that he had no free will as his actions were dictated by his Duty to Stanley, was not explored more.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Nnelg » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:00 am

Witchalok wrote:It's just that at one point, the game world went from "you have duty towards your overlord/king so you are obliged to obey or else you are disbanded automatically" to "you have a lot of "free will" and you can even conspire against your ruler or even your side in order to meet your own goals".

I think because the former was only assumed, never explicitly stated. Nowhere have I seen any mention of an auto-disband. Only a rule which states units cannot intentionally oppose their ruler. If you look at it right, nothing which has happened can't be fit within the original verbatim definition of Duty.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby 0beron » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:15 am

Nnelg wrote:Nowhere have I seen any mention of an auto-disband.
Units definitely believe they can autodisband, and some characters have mentioned it. I think however that it has been revealed as a less strict mechanic than we had expected at the beginning of the comic, at least when applied to Command units.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby MarbitChow » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:36 am

Witchalok wrote:In the beginning the "game" seemed pretty basic. I don't have a lot of experience with fantasy turn based strategy games (bar some Heroes of Might and Magic and one called Warlords that I played for a whole summer when I was a kid) but they didn't have these subtleties. Although as 0beron pointed out, a game being run by a Game Master would probably have this. (So are the Titans the Game Masters?. Did Parson's players continue the game without him?)

It's just that at one point, the game world went from "you have duty towards your overlord/king so you are obliged to obey or else you are disbanded automatically" to "you have a lot of "free will" and you can even conspire against your ruler or even your side in order to meet your own goals". I know that I am simplifying things, but to me it seems that things changed quite abruptly.
So much so in fact that I am wondering if Rob had planned for the second book when he first started the comic. Does anybody know if that's the case?
Something that Rob said early on might clear things up: Erfworld is not a game. It has game-like mechanics, and people have determinable stats like Hits and Level, but it's not a game. It's an alternate universe. Any perception of yours that the 'game' was simpler was simply because the 'rules' (ie mechanics / physics) have not yet been revealed. A lot of our assumptions, based on real-world physics, are shown to be wrong. Even Erfworlder assumptions are shown to be wrong - no one in Erfworld knows how everything works; they're popped knowing whatever they need to get their immediate job done, and have to learn everything else on their own, just like we do. "Fulfill your duty or be auto-disbanded" applied to Parson because of the summoning spell, but since Parson actively destroyed components of the spell (melted the sword, broke the profanity restriction, etc.), we don't know whether they even still apply.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby drachefly » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:08 am

0beron wrote:
Nnelg wrote:Nowhere have I seen any mention of an auto-disband.
Units definitely believe they can autodisband, and some characters have mentioned it. I think however that it has been revealed as a less strict mechanic than we had expected at the beginning of the comic, at least when applied to Command units.


Wanda provided a massive loophole pretty much immediately upon our first hearing of such a thing, and did not imply that it was the only one.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Housellama » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:10 pm

MarbitChow wrote:
Witchalok wrote:In the beginning the "game" seemed pretty basic. I don't have a lot of experience with fantasy turn based strategy games (bar some Heroes of Might and Magic and one called Warlords that I played for a whole summer when I was a kid) but they didn't have these subtleties. Although as 0beron pointed out, a game being run by a Game Master would probably have this. (So are the Titans the Game Masters?. Did Parson's players continue the game without him?)

It's just that at one point, the game world went from "you have duty towards your overlord/king so you are obliged to obey or else you are disbanded automatically" to "you have a lot of "free will" and you can even conspire against your ruler or even your side in order to meet your own goals". I know that I am simplifying things, but to me it seems that things changed quite abruptly.
So much so in fact that I am wondering if Rob had planned for the second book when he first started the comic. Does anybody know if that's the case?
Something that Rob said early on might clear things up: Erfworld is not a game. It has game-like mechanics, and people have determinable stats like Hits and Level, but it's not a game. It's an alternate universe. Any perception of yours that the 'game' was simpler was simply because the 'rules' (ie mechanics / physics) have not yet been revealed. A lot of our assumptions, based on real-world physics, are shown to be wrong. Even Erfworlder assumptions are shown to be wrong - no one in Erfworld knows how everything works; they're popped knowing whatever they need to get their immediate job done, and have to learn everything else on their own, just like we do. "Fulfill your duty or be auto-disbanded" applied to Parson because of the summoning spell, but since Parson actively destroyed components of the spell (melted the sword, broke the profanity restriction, etc.), we don't know whether they even still apply.


Yes, this. Erfworld looks like a game, sounds like a game, and acts like a game, but it's not a game. It is a world, full of people with lives. Even the lowest unit like Archers or Stabbers, units with little to no freedom of will are real people. They have relationships with each other: Friendships, rivalries, love affairs. The upper level units like Casters and Commanders have an enormous amount of freedom. Love between units of opposite sides. Desires to destroy the Sides they work with. The ability to change Sides. The ability to become a Side of their own, by becoming Barbarian. The game analogy will carry you far when thinking about Erfworld, but at the end of the day Erfworld is a world full of living breathing people.

I am almost certain that Rob already has an overarching plot map done. His writing has been too directed, too seamless to be someone making it up as he goes along. He may not have all the details nailed down, but I'd be willing to bet that all of the major events have already been planned. It would really surprise me if he DIDN'T. I've had the pleasure of working with a professional writer as test audience and brainstorming partner while she was writing a novel. Things may change during the writing process, but she knew where the story was going from the beginning. Whatever else he may be, Rob is a professional writer. He's got a plan.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Nnelg » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:26 am

drachefly wrote:
0beron wrote:
Nnelg wrote:Nowhere have I seen any mention of an auto-disband.
Units definitely believe they can autodisband, and some characters have mentioned it. I think however that it has been revealed as a less strict mechanic than we had expected at the beginning of the comic, at least when applied to Command units.
Wanda provided a massive loophole pretty much immediately upon our first hearing of such a thing, and did not imply that it was the only one.

Ok, I've poured over the archives and still have not seen this. Would someone care to enlighten me, please?
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Re: Series of questions

Postby 0beron » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:41 am

Nnelg wrote:
drachefly wrote:
Nnelg wrote:Nowhere have I seen any mention of an auto-disband.
Wanda provided a massive loophole pretty much immediately upon our first hearing of such a thing, and did not imply that it was the only one.
Ok, I've poured over the archives and still have not seen this. Would someone care to enlighten me, please?

I'm paraphrasing from memory, but it was in the first few pages:
Wanda: No
Stanley: Are you refusing an order?
Wanda: I'm allowed, if I believe it is against the best interests of the Side.

I assume that is what Drache is referring to.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby drachefly » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:13 am

You are correct. It was before auto-disband was mentioned, sorry - but 'I'm allowed' clearly would forestall auto-disband.
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Re: Series of questions

Postby Nnelg » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:26 pm

drachefly wrote:You are correct. It was before auto-disband was mentioned, sorry - but 'I'm allowed' clearly would forestall auto-disband.

I certainly would have, but to me it seemed more aimed at Stanly; and in a more meta sense, the audience. It certainly isn't enough to be either corroborating nor conflicting evidence of any sort of "auto-disband" mechanism.

So, until someone can bring up anything else from the story, I'm going to keep operating under the assumption that this concept originated on the forums, and has just gone unrefuted for so long it's been accepted as some sort of "false canon".
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Re: Series of questions

Postby No one in particular » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:44 pm

Re: auto-disbanding
Well, there's a couple of places that mention disbanding without the Ruler or warlord having to give the order:
Parson's Klog #10
First Intermission 35

The Klog is only what Parson has been told, so who knows about that?
The intermission is Stanley expressing disbelief that Parson didn't automatically disband... so either Stanley's seen it happen before, or this is the first time anyone's ever disobeyed him without being able to give a good excuse for it (like Wanda).

That help any?
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Re: Series of questions

Postby 0beron » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:48 pm

I'd say information told to Parson by a Thinkamancer would be pretty solid, considering these are Natural Thinkamancy effects. Also notice that she said "disobeying may CAUSE the unit to disband" instead of "Rulers may disband units for disobedience." The phrasing used indicates an automatic mechanic.
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