Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Speculation, discoveries, complaints, accusations, praise, and all other Erfworld discussion.

Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Citric Thoughts » Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:55 pm

Hello, everyone. This is my first post on the forums.

First, I'm sure that there's been discussion of bringing stupidworld tech into Erfworld. This is not about how Parson should make guns and they would win the game for him forever without effort. Guns are certainly a major topic for discussion, but no doubt they've been discussed before. If this topic has been discussed to death I do apologize.

Rather than that, I find it a fun thought experiment to try and figure out how one could build modern technology in Erfworld. The curious restrictions of the game world actually render many things we take for granted impossible in terms of manufacture, which makes it fun to think about. It may be that the author doesn't want anything to do with mass-production basic guns or other stupidworld tech, and hey, that's fine. This is simply having fun trying to figure out what you even COULD make in Erfworld.

However, erfworld is definitely NOT a medieval stasis type of world. They have things like guns, like Ace's laser pistol. They obviously understand the concept, but Erfworld doesn't naturally spawn, say, musketmen.

To be honest, although it would probably be trivial to manufacture simple hand cannons for basically anyone (Turn to a twoll and say, give me a metal tube with one end blocked off, one end with a small hole here, and some little metal balls) and more complex ones for people who know a bit about early firearms, gunpowder isn't so trivial.

For instance, everyone knows that gunpowder has three primary ingredients. Charcoal, Saltpeter, and Sulfur. Could you get any of them in Erfworld? Maaaaybe.

Saltpeter is easily collected; you need Urine compost/manure and hay, and those things obviously exist in Erfworld (There are more efficient methods using materials they'd also have, but that's just a basic example). It takes time, but you could collect it - provided that saltpeter actually forms like it does on stupidworld.

Charcoal - the remains of properly slow-burned trees. With the fire rules of Erfworld, could you even make it? Maybe not.

Sulfur - does it even exist naturally in Erfworld? No indication has been given that there's a lot of actual variation in the composition of the minerals in the soil in Erfworld.

So simply put, actual firearms may be impossible. If you COULD make them, they aren't necessarily a game winner, either. Twolls are unlikely to grasp the complicated design of something like an AK-47, nor is someone like Parson likely to have those schematics memorized.

However, there is a pretty simple alternative to an actual firearm that Erfworld has all the resources to make. An air rifle.

Far from harmless pellet guns, there are numerous examples of military air rifles that were, in certain respects, vastly superior to the muskets of the time. For instance, the famous Austrian air rifle, the Windbüchse (AKA the Giradoni Air Rifle) could fire up to 30 shots without reloading, made no sound, produced no gunpowder smoke or flash. They were, in effect, amazing sniper weapons.

I wouldn't want to reproduce that particular one. Air rifles in general had a number of problems - largely stemming from manufacturing limitations. You simply couldn't make enough air reservoirs to replace the ones that broke. They were also pretty delicate and complex; your average soldier then had to be well trained in their use beyond 'point that end at the enemy'. Compared to conventional rifles, they had too many issues to become the dominant weapon out there.

In all truth, you don't need one like that. What you really need is a very basic, rugged design, similar to the very first air rifles. There are no guns to compete with, just bows. And you aren't really competing with bows, but I'll go into uses in a minute.

What you really need is a very simple metal tube with a spring piston design. Basically you have a spring that pushes a piston that compresses air, and then you use that compressed air to fire the weapon. That's an oversimplification, but at its core, an air rifle isn't very complex. A blowgun works on the same principles. The most complex part comes from the spring pump, and that can be shown to twolls (assuming they can't read) in a very simple manner through pictures - something Parson can do is draw. You really don't need them to be very bright to make them. You'll need the trigger mechanism, the pump, and a means of loading. Through trial and error, even if you don't have schematics in front of you, someone with basic knowledge should be able to make a simple air rifle. From there it's a process of refinement.

Of course, a simple one-shot air rifle doesn't win any battles on its own. That's why you stick a bayonet on one end, make the other end a club, and mass produce them. Once twolls understand how to make them, the main limit on them is how much they can fabricate at once. How much can a twoll fabricate in a day? I honestly don't recall a concrete answer in the webcomic itself. But assume a twoll could manufacture even just one air rifle a turn, and you have a dozen twolls. In a few turns, you could outfit a small unit. If twolls could manufacture two or three a turn and you have a dozen twolls, then it's only a short time before you can arm a regiment.

The important thing to remember is that these don't replace archers. They aren't competing with archers. They are, in effect, replacing stabbers. A rifle with a bayonet is effectively a spear and a club combined. A less than spectacular spear, but an effective one. With some basic training (because these are very simple air rifles) covering loading, aiming, and firing, you could effectively give every single stabber a single ranged attack with potentially decent range before every engagement. It also gives them limited anti-air capability. Expert units could work as snipers.

But what about the delicate nature of the air rifle, you might ask? It's largely irrelevant. If it breaks, it's still effectively a spear - leaving you with exactly the same type of unit you would have had anyway; a stabber. They don't need to fix anything, either. If it breaks or needs repair, you just take a twoll with the unit and have the men pass the weapons over to them. The abstractions of erfworld mean that twolls can just skip a lot of the development hurdles of real life air rifles provided you can explain the concepts to them.

Would this instantly win everything forever and invalidate all the other units? Not even close. It would, however, present a solid general advantage to the army that got it for a good while, until the technology was figured out by another side with fabrication ability. Erfworld has magical defenses for high level warlords, and this arguably wouldn't be better than a skilled bowman. Also because of the primitive level of the weapon, it's not simply going to overpower everything. While powerful air rifles were used to hunt wild boar, it's questionable if they could hurt, say, dwagons, and the air rifle created through these methods could kill other stabbers. A kill done with no risk to a soldier is a good kill.

In practical terms, this isn't a method that dissimilar from that used by the ancient Romans and numerous others. They'd take multiple javelins into battle, throw several before engaging, and then could use leftovers as spears if necessary. The difference is that an air rifle round can't be picked up and thrown back (though the Romans designed their to break on impact), is possibly more deadly than a javelin, is easier to carry than three or four javelins and has greater range. Other ancient alternatives were giving your spearmen slings or similar weapons. An actual spearman who is JUST a person with a spear is a poorly used spearman. Were I in Parson's shoes, I'd immediately have throwing axes, throwing darts, javelins or practically ANY ranged weapon given to stabbers so they could engage at range before they engage up close.

Leaving firearms aside, I've considered some other things. For instance, electricity. It takes nothing other than copper and a magnet to make electricity, but why would you bother? What COULD you make in Erfworld that requires electricity? A motor? Good luck explaining the more complicated mechanical things to twolls. But assuming you did, what would you even do with it? Flashy and thematically inappropriate Tesla coil weapons? Believe it or not, lightning guns CAN be created, but the technology required to create one is a bit beyond what even a rather smart person could come up with in Erfworld (as it involves using lasers), and may not even work if the laws of physics are sufficiently different. Outside of someone like Ace making a one-off weapon like that, I doubt they could be mass-produced.

A waterwheel? What would you need it for? Because so much of the logistics of Erfworld are abstracted, you don't actually have to manually grind grain. Perhaps you could get a boost to ration popping if you attached one to one of the 'ghost buildings', and that would be a fun experiment, but that's iffy.

Probably the most promising one is a train. But it hinges on a question - does water boil in Erfworld? I don't recall ever seeing it boil in the webcomic, and the laws of thermodynamics in Erfworld are... different than ours, obviously. For instance, Parson could stand next to a lake of Lava without getting cooked alive from the heat rising from it. The lava is permanent. It's still hot enough to melt steel, as seen from the sword, but heat doesn't seem to work the way it does on stupidworld. Let's assume water does boil, though.

A train is fairly simple at its core. It's a metal box with wheels on the bottom, and it moves via steam engine. Steam engines are fairly simple and don't have a ton of parts. Even if a twoll doesn't understand all the parts, they don't need to as long as you know what needs to go where. Basically you boil water and use the power to turn a wheel. (It's a bit more complex than that, but that IS the basic concept.)

But again, the questions arise. Is there coal on erfworld? If not, will wood burn in the right way, boil water, and produce the power needed? Maybe?

One alternative I considered is a bit minecraft inspired. If the lava works nothing like real lava but is still hot, maybe it could be used as an effectively infinite source of heat to power a steam engine. The main issue would be transport - I assume metal buckets wouldn't cut it in Erfworld. But a caster could probably make something. You'd still have to produce the rails - another hurdle - and make sure your train had sufficient power to move faster than a snail's pace.

If you did have a train network, it would probably fix a lot of the problems of a large empire. While you don't have to move resources a lot, you CAN move troops in massive numbers very quickly. Even assuming that the rules set up a limit to the number of hexes a train can travel, you just set up a relay system like Parson did with the dwagons. Whereas dwagons are fast for a single warlord, trains would be fast for moving massive numbers of troops. It would mean that you no longer have to worry too much about having your garrisons at full strength all the time, or someone hopping into lightly defended interior cities, wrecking a bunch of them, and being able to rest in your territory for a turn or two without you able to respond. A successful train-network would basically mean your troops could be anywhere within a turn, still with full move.

As an addendum to all the above: Even if you don't personally understand how to make all that, you just need someone who is the erfworld equivalent of a mechanical engineer (maybe someone like Ace) to look at the concept and draw up the schematics. Provided that you understand how and why the things work, they may be able to reproduce it (even if it's not exactly the same as the equivalent on stupidworld.)

I think the main reason things like this have never come up - aside from the narrative fun of the setting itself and the showcasing the interesting rules that govern Erfworld - is that Parson is a gamer. Which is to say, he wants to figure out the rules of the world and exploit loopholes, flaws, and powerful constructs with the resources of the world he's given, rather than figure it out himself. He probably doesn't want to invent new weapons and items like an air gun to replace stabbers or a train network running on lava. I think he mostly wants to exploit the already existing units and rules in clever and inventive ways, rather than inventing new things. Frankly, that's cool. But I do enjoy the thought of what one could make in Erfworld with proper time and prep.

So, what ideas do all of you have for what you could build in Erfworld? It doesn't really need to be useful. I'm more curious about how one could get around the abstraction-caused restrictions and strange physics of the setting to build stuff than whether it's useful. And again, my apologies if this has been discussed to death.
Citric Thoughts
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:02 pm

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Clementx » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:32 pm

The biggest problem is that in a fantasy world, physics are discretionary. Parson can't throw a brick across a hex/zone line, because he does not have Archery. Units don't get injured because they get hit by objects with high kinetic energy. Their limbs break because Signamancy indicates they took damage because a successful attack was rolled against them. "Physics" aren't even deterministic, since a Luckamancer can determine can change a hit into a miss, without interacting with matter in the hex. He doesn't have to change air resistance acting on an arrow to change its path, because air resistance doesn't have any thing to do with an arrow hitting. The level of a Chief Warlord on the other side of the planet can, though.

Parson can cheat by finding what rules the simulation of Erfworld runs on, and using them in unexpected ways. He can't change reality to start coding for saltpeter, which doesn't exist, because waste just vanishes. The world doesn't have decay, so chemistry isn't part of the game.
Clementx
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:11 pm

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Citric Thoughts » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:47 pm

Clementx wrote:The biggest problem is that in a fantasy world, physics are discretionary. Parson can't throw a brick across a hex/zone line, because he does not have Archery. Units don't get injured because they get hit by objects with high kinetic energy. Their limbs break because Signamancy indicates they took damage because a successful attack was rolled against them. "Physics" aren't even deterministic, since a Luckamancer can determine can change a hit into a miss, without interacting with matter in the hex. He doesn't have to change air resistance acting on an arrow to change its path, because air resistance doesn't have any thing to do with an arrow hitting. The level of a Chief Warlord on the other side of the planet can, though.

Parson can cheat by finding what rules the simulation of Erfworld runs on, and using them in unexpected ways. He can't change reality to start coding for saltpeter, which doesn't exist, because waste just vanishes. The world doesn't have decay, so chemistry isn't part of the game.

I assumed saltpeter was viable simply because crap doesn't disappear (otherwise there wouldn't be a giant pit of it you could make crap golems in) but honestly, I figured guns weren't viable early on.

However, you do make a good point about not having archery. Though units can throw stuff off of walls and hit the enemy without archery, if I recall correctly. I think that was gone over in the summer updates. So it seems likely that you could, say, give a stabber a javelin and have them throw it before engagement. Or at least a rock, without them requiring archery. Though that might be a 'garrison only' exception. Although it isn't force but rather signamancy that causes injury, it seems that signamancy tends to line up with what one would assume hurts people, just in generally strange and abstract ways. A javelin or air rifle probably would hurt someone.

I'm not sure whether it would entirely invalidate air rifles for non-archer units, however.
Citric Thoughts
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:02 pm

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby ftl » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:10 pm

Well, again, going back to the update where Parson considered throwing a brick. He could do it, but because he didn't have the archery special, the chances of hitting were miniscule.

I bet the same thing would happen here. If you armed stabbers with archery weapons (airguns or javelins or whatever), they'd be able to fire them, but would have a tiny chance of hitting anything.

Would that really be worth it? Well, if there's no cost, sure. But there might be a cost - besides the time to produce the items, it might cost them the chance to make a first strike on the enemy with their spears, for example. Perhaps there's a way to pop stabbers with the archery special - javelineers or something? We haven't seen them yet but I don't see any reason why they couldn't exist.

I wonder why Slately was able to use the laser pistol. Perhaps because it's a magic item it didn't care that he didn't have an Archery special for whatever reason?
ftl
Erfabet Supporter!
Erfabet Supporter!
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:15 pm

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Citric Thoughts » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:32 pm

ftl wrote:Well, again, going back to the update where Parson considered throwing a brick. He could do it, but because he didn't have the archery special, the chances of hitting were miniscule.

I bet the same thing would happen here. If you armed stabbers with archery weapons (airguns or javelins or whatever), they'd be able to fire them, but would have a tiny chance of hitting anything.

Would that really be worth it? Well, if there's no cost, sure. But there might be a cost - besides the time to produce the items, it might cost them the chance to make a first strike on the enemy with their spears, for example. Perhaps there's a way to pop stabbers with the archery special - javelineers or something? We haven't seen them yet but I don't see any reason why they couldn't exist.

I wonder why Slately was able to use the laser pistol. Perhaps because it's a magic item it didn't care that he didn't have an Archery special for whatever reason?

The odds were "One in about 5400" for the specific scenario of "This city, this tower, a unit like me attempts a missile attack on a unit like Stanley, on ground in courtyard. "

I think the chances would be a lot better if there was less range, and a less specific target. Hitting a specific target with a brick at that range probably has a lot less chance to succeed than tossing the same brick a few dozen yards into an enemy formation.

Even if your chances of hitting are reduced to, say, one in twenty for each individual unit in a formation, that's still good. One out of twenty will hit and either wound or croak an enemy unit for no risk. No doubt Parson was considering the odds on a similar idea.

Reading over it again, not having archery just seems to mean you have a crappy chance with ranged attacks, but you can still attempt them. If range dramatically increases your chances of hitting, slately hitting with the laser pistol makes a lot of sense without assuming magic items get a pass (though they might). He was firing from point blank range at a large target.

And you're right - someone probably does pop javelineers. Sometimes Erfworld (in spite of obviously having a lot of influence from more recent games) does remind me of the old game Master of Magic. There were lizardman javelineers in that game. Might be a bit obscure today, but it'd be a fun reference.

Oh, and this is more a response to Clementx, but since my last post I realized that I left out mentioning something obvious. Air rifles are pretty possible to make specifically because you don't need new materials for them. No saltpeter, no charcoal, no acids to etch the metal, etc. Basically you need a twoll, and you have them make an air rifle out of metal, wood, and air. Because all those things do exist in erfworld, that's what makes it a potentially viable weapon.
Citric Thoughts
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:02 pm

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Shai_hulud » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:42 pm

Why would you need black powder to make guns? It's not like any bullets use black powder now anyway. And who says "compressed air" is a thing in the setting? Wouldn't it make more sense when designing weapons to use physics we know actually exist?
http://www.erfworld.com/wiki/index.php/LIAB_101
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf7m7hN5Szc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvpjAyHH490
Shai_hulud
Pins Supporter!
Pins Supporter!
 
Posts: 663
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:57 pm

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Man in the Mists » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:18 pm

There's another bit of Stupidworld technology that seems highly likely to be seen soon: Parachutes.

GK now has a Dollmancer, one who likes making accessories. GK also has a significant airforce, although less so now. Just imagine if in book 2 every dwagon-riding unit had a back item when they "did lunch" that granted them resistance (if not immunity) from fall damage. Of course, if said chute was shot before the unit landed they could still take damage, and the item would have to be unequipped once the unit lands since it would hinder more than help after landing.

Of course, the only thing scarier would be if Jillian got ahold of some of them and/or was able to make more. Considering how air-specialized her military seems to be coupled with the fact that megalogwiffons can carry multiple riders (as mentioned in one of the Book 0 entries)...
Man in the Mists
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:00 pm

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Shai_hulud » Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:00 am

Shai_hulud
Pins Supporter!
Pins Supporter!
 
Posts: 663
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:57 pm

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby badninja » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:03 pm

I have wondered about gliders being used. It is simple and could get around movement issues. Simply have some dwagons pull a glider up and let it cross some hexes with low move units at a low altitude. The parachutes idea is great and Parson needs to start with new ideas because he needs to keep Charlie guessing on what comes next.
I came, I saw, I had fun!
badninja
YOTD + Erfabet + Pins Supporter!
YOTD + Erfabet + Pins Supporter!
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:46 am
Location: Tatooine

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Malanthyus » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:23 am

I think the farthest parson could get on this angle would be researching the effects of "natural" mancies. Critters of different types seem to have natural abilities based on a type of magic. If he can research a cumulative, reactive effect that doesn't cost juice, we'll see something pretty amazing.
Malanthyus
 
Posts: 62
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 2:25 am

Re: Gaming Erfworld Technologically

Postby Jatopian » Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:12 pm

I'm surprised no one revived this thread after B2E25.
Jatopian
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 4:14 pm


Return to Everything Else Erfworld

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests