Book 2 – Text Updates 038

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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Zeku » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:52 pm

The update mentioned above.

I think the bracer is a problem. It's already been described as being able to determine the probability of events for which the user does not have complete understanding. It also seems to know the probability of events that are not mathematical in nature. There's no clear indication of what is, or isn't vulnerable to the bracer's all-seeing understanding. It seems like anyone could just continue asking the bracer questions until you had a kind of brute-force outline of what's really going on.

The good news, is that within the comic itself, the bracer has only determined the outcome of events for which the Parson himself has a pretty thorough understanding: the chance he would survive against enemies that he was fully aware of. I would like to eventually see, in the text updates, some indication of what the bracer is not capable of. It would make me feel more at ease about the item.

Right now, the bracer seems more powerful than any arkentool, and I've seriously questioned whether it is a mathamancy arkentool, or even something that surpasses arkentools, and is an artifact related to the machinations of the MK.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby GaryThunder » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:03 pm

The bracer can clearly give probabilities of situations Parson doesn't fully understand. Its first noncombat application, whether it would be worth it for Charlie to end the Mathamancy deal to learn what happened to his Archons, how could Parson be expected to know what's going on there? Or that there's a 92% chance that, if some outside force is behind the lack of Gobwins, that it's Charlescomm?
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby fractal » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:12 pm

GaryThunder wrote:The bracer can clearly give probabilities of situations Parson doesn't fully understand. Its first noncombat application, whether it would be worth it for Charlie to end the Mathamancy deal to learn what happened to his Archons, how could Parson be expected to know what's going on there? Or that there's a 92% chance that, if some outside force is behind the lack of Gobwins, that it's Charlescomm?

I'd prefer to interpret those as just giving the same probabilities that Parson himself would come up with, if he knew all of the game mechanics perfectly and had hours and lots of scratch paper.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Zeku » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:15 pm

Yeah, we discussed, a long time ago, that the bracer is probably making some very specific assumptions about the game mechanics, the most important of which being, that each side is trying to 'win' by purging all non-allied sides. If, for example, Charlie is not trying to win, but is trying to maintain a status quo, then the bracers responses to him would be erroneous in terms of his own unstated goals.

It's the non-combat, non-mathematical questions that cause me a little concern. You could say that every question asked of the bracer has been logical, and the bracer just makes the best sense of each question that it can, but how could the bracer know what is meant by a statement like 'behind the disappearance of?' Does the bracer interpret this in the most obvious way, that Charlie (or the guilty party) is using their own units to assassinate gobwins? If so, then the bracers answer is useless and untrustworthy, because the answer could be far more complicated than that.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Oberon » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:54 pm

Decorus wrote:Its more likely Charlie hates Stanley over Toolism then anything else.
Y'know, I was about to disagree. I was going to say that we've never heard that Stanley had any issue with Ansom over his ownership of the 'pliers. But Ansom wasn't attuned. So now I think you have a good point, even if I'm hoping that the Big Reveal of the reasons behind Stanley's dislike of Charlie is different. I can quite easily see Stanley and Charley holding just a single conversation, after which Stanley hates Charlie. And if Stanley has ever hired Charley... Well, I can't imagine anyone more likely to be utterly pissed off at Charlie for delivering the letter rather than the intent of a contract than Stanley.
Zeku wrote:The good news, is that within the comic itself, the bracer has only determined the outcome of events for which the Parson himself has a pretty thorough understanding: the chance he would survive against enemies that he was fully aware of. I would like to eventually see, in the text updates, some indication of what the bracer is not capable of. It would make me feel more at ease about the item.
So, calculating how many archons are needed to take out the GK garrison is an "event for which the Parson himself has a pretty thorough understanding", if you assume that Parson has an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of archons. Which he did not until well after the fact. And even with that knowledge the random Specials of archons would tend to make calculating their effectiveness in any given situation a matter of examining their individual Specials, something Parson had no opportunity to do while the archons still belonged to Charlie. It is possible that Charlie provided this information, but that seems rather unlikely given both Charlie's reluctance to share information and Parson's later need to question archons about their capabilities.

Additionally:

You are calling the capability to provide odds on whether Charlie trading his remaining calculations is more valuable than the knowledge of how GK has archons who were formerly CharlesComm units wearing GK livery and fighting for GK to be within the set of "events for which the Parson himself has a pretty thorough understanding"? Calculating the odds of future events appears to me to be to be verging on predictamancy...

You are calling the capability to provide odds that Charlie is somehow involved in the lack of gobwin natural allies to be within the set of "events for which the Parson himself has a pretty thorough understanding"?

I'm not arguing, mind. Just making sure that I understand your position on those two cases, which I see as being quite a bit outside of Parson's area of knowledge. As I see things, and from what we have seen of the bracer's capabilities, Parson should be able to derive a meaningful calculation of odds for anything he can articulate as a question, no matter how much he may or may not know about the factors involved. Interpreting this is a different subject. It is clear that the bracer can't be used as a series of yes/no questions, or the answer on Charlie's involvement with the lack of gobwins would either be 0% or 100%. Charlie is either involved or he isn't. But other than that, there appears to be no limitation to the number or type of questions asked.

As an example, Parson should be able to ask for the odds that a specific unit will survive a specific battle, without knowing anything at all about (for example) Charlie having given Sammy orders to kill Ansom. The resulting odds may look very different than expected, given a battle without Charlie's interference in the motivations of the various units, but it still should be a valid listing of the odds.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Zeku » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:16 pm

Well in many ways you're simply agreeing with me, though I didn't remember that so many questions were asked of the bracer within the comic itself. At any rate, I think we can assume the bracer has statistical knowledge of every unit type in Erfworld, since that's the type of knowledge that casters have taken for granted on previous updates. The only confusing bits are those questions that were asked in a vague way, and concerning complete unknowns, and the bracer nevertheless produced highly specific answers.

Realistically, this is just a narrative hole, the inevitability of making things up as you go. The real problem is, how do you salvage it?

-Bracer has a thinkamancy-level link with Parson, able to alter it's calculations based upon his mental preferences, without the need for specific wording. (very impressive magic) Complex requests may be truncated into simple calculations (ie, the bracer ends up being 'wrong,' because its calculating something much simpler than is being asked)
-Bracer's 'core' logical unit is a win/loss calculation, related to battle outcomes. Every question must related to the outcome of a fight, or be expressed in those terms.
-Bracer assumes all combatants are attempting to win through violence.
-Bracer possesses knowledge of all unit data.
-Bracer possess knowledge of all 'revealed' scouting data.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Foolamancer » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:00 am

It just occurred to me... I think the Thinkamancer in the upper right is Lord Havelock Vetinari, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.

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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Fiendishrabbit » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:06 am

Foolamancer wrote:It just occurred to me... I think the Thinkamancer in the upper right is Lord Havelock Vetinari, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.


Nah. His beard is too scrawny to be Lord Vetinari. Just like it isn't David Xanatos. The closest so far is Ba'al from SG which is the only mentioned character so far which has that type of scrawny beard and an aquiline nose.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Zeku » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:16 am

My first thought about upper right was Piter de Vries, but the eyebrows aren't bushy enough.

It's probably 'The Mentalist.'
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Konterfei » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:19 am

by the way:
could the one on the upper left corner possibly be him:
http://images.wikia.com/finalfantasy/images/e/e6/Squall_Leonhart_character.jpg
In the game Final Fantasy VIII he is always in thoughts. :P

Also it's possible that the one with the pointy ears isn't Spock, since Spock is clearly shown in the hippiemancer glade doing hippie stuff. He might just be around like Sizemore is sometimes, but he could also be a Star Trek V hippiemancer =)
Maybe it's a romulan! ^^
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby the_tick_rules » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:34 pm

Well either way this does helps explain how Charlie knows what he knows beyond him hacking thinkagrams.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Foolamancer » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:48 pm

Fiendishrabbit wrote:
Foolamancer wrote:It just occurred to me... I think the Thinkamancer in the upper right is Lord Havelock Vetinari, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.


Nah. His beard is too scrawny to be Lord Vetinari.


Vetinari's beard was supposed to be extremely thin. That was one of the major points of his appearance. Heck, it was one of the larger plot points in Going Postal.

If only he was holding a small, scruffy dog. Then we could be sure!
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Dinkum » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:26 pm

Realistically, this is just a narrative hole, the inevitability of making things up as you go. The real problem is, how do you salvage it?


I thought the whole point of the bracer is that it is running on Parson's calculator watch, and much like Parson it does not need to adhere to the rules of Erfworld? Just as the transition from gamer to Perfect Warlord was dependent upon Parson's gaming experience, I could see a transition from a calculator watch of Earth to becoming The Perfect Mathamancy artifact. Date-a-mancy was already described as 'knowing the numbers that underlie relationships', despite most units being unaware of these numbers, so it is not too much of a stretch to imagine something running on Mathamancy having access to ALL numbers within Erfworld. Sizemore rated the bracer at half a million shmuckers, which is what the Perfect Warlord spell was actually supposed to cost.

As for limiting the bracer, I would guess that it is useless or has a blind spot against Fate and it can only see numbers and odds. It is hard to think of specific examples from the comic, though. It would be the difference between 'knowing' the future (Wanda would attune to an arkentool someday) and 'predicting' the future, (Charlie likely should not let Parson out of their deal). So, while it can give Parson the odds of things he has no direct knowledge of, it can't tell him for SURE because the entire world is built on (random/fated?) numbers and chance. So far the smallest number I've seen is the '1 to 5400' odds of beaning Stanley with a rock from the tower, which is a pretty sure bet at the horse races, but not zero.

Frankly I think the salvaging factor in the comic IS Parson, who would probably fret about the 1% in the odds of 'Going Home' to be 99%, and would not try to 'game the system' with 20 questions that could lead him astray with Odds and not Answers.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby GaryThunder » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:37 pm

The real question is how, if Erfworld truly is dominated by Fate, anything actually has a percentage chance of occurring at all that isn't 0% or 100%. Either something is Fated to happen or Fated to not happen, right? Probability is bunk. For instance, if Parson asked the bracer before the end of Book 1 "What are the odds of Wanda eventually acquiring an Arkentool?", the answer should have been 100%.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby drachefly » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:04 pm

GaryThunder wrote:Probability is bunk.

Probability is contingent on what information you have. In either a clockwork or fated universe, it is very frequent that not all information will be available. For these cases, probability is meaningful.

What the bracer has access to is an open question, and one to which I'm not sure there is a satisfactory answer.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby multilis » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:02 pm

The bracer likely tapped into the same underlying methods as predictomancy.

You likely have 3 ways for this:

1. Some sort of magic/time travel/time viewing.

2. Being able to caclulate based on lots of knowledge and thinking power (A smart person in our world can predict many things fairly accurately, a smart chess program can predict odds quite well)

3. Being able to *manipulate* the future to get closer to the results you predict. (Some SF such as Foundation Series by Asimov has this, in real life for example powerful people quietly manipulate stock exchange/currency exchanges, bond markets, etc to make it more likely that their "bets" on making money come true. For example if you think gold is going up, so you buy some gold futures, *then* let it leak through your investment advisors that gold is good.. gold is even more likely to go up because you convinced others to buy after you did)

It is possible that some of predictomancy (which the bracer seems to fit) is helped by the predictomancer actually manipulating the universe afterwards to help fit the prediction. All it may take is the same subtle shifts in others thinking/actions that for example the sword of ruthlessness or natural thinkomancy may do to Parson.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby GaryThunder » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:40 pm

The bracer likely tapped into the same underlying methods as predictomancy.

You likely have 3 ways for this:

1. Some sort of magic/time travel/time viewing.

2. Being able to caclulate based on lots of knowledge and thinking power (A smart person in our world can predict many things fairly accurately, a smart chess program can predict odds quite well)

3. Being able to *manipulate* the future to get closer to the results you predict. (Some SF such as Foundation Series by Asimov has this, in real life for example powerful people quietly manipulate stock exchange/currency exchanges, bond markets, etc to make it more likely that their "bets" on making money come true. For example if you think gold is going up, so you buy some gold futures, *then* let it leak through your investment advisors that gold is good.. gold is even more likely to go up because you convinced others to buy after you did)

It is possible that some of predictomancy (which the bracer seems to fit) is helped by the predictomancer actually manipulating the universe afterwards to help fit the prediction. All it may take is the same subtle shifts in others thinking/actions that for example the sword of ruthlessness or natural thinkomancy may do to Parson.


I could accept this, some kind of Mathamancy/Predictamancy combination. Perhaps even Luckamancy. Even mortal casters can create multi-disciplinary items through links, this is clearly an artifact-level item. But if it does indeed predict probabilities, I don't see how it could influence them without then falsely reporting their values (because...it just influenced them).

I still see the Fate thing as a problem, especially if it is using Predictamancy (which is really the only thing that makes sense, given that it can answer and quantify distinctly non-mathematical questions). If, for instance, Wanda is Fated to wield an Arkentool, then every other unit in the world must be Fated not to croak her before she attunes. If she's Fated for the 'Pliers but doesn't have them yet, and a random Stabber walks up and croaks her, that breaks Fate. This means everyone's actions are precisely calibrated by Fate, since every other unit in the world would have its own Fate (to be croaked at a given time, to croak a certain number of units in its lifetime, to reach a certain level, etc) and those would be similarly inviolable. Which would again lead to "probability is bunk."

But we have this argument in our universe too, so I don't know what to tell you.

Edit: Unless Fate only applies to certain units, but that's kind of stupid, and it wouldn't make sense anyway for roughly the reasons I mentioned above.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Oberon » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:56 pm

Zeku wrote:Well in many ways you're simply agreeing with me, though I didn't remember that so many questions were asked of the bracer within the comic itself.
True, but panel ofter panel of parson consulting the bracer would tend to wear thin. In the dialogue we have been told that Wanda called Parson quite often during the expansion of GK to its pre-Stanley-is-an-idiot-at-strategy size, specifically to consult with him (and his bracer) on Ansom's proposed tactics. Ansom was rather put off by this.
Zeku wrote:-Bracer's 'core' logical unit is a win/loss calculation, related to battle outcomes. Every question must related to the outcome of a fight, or be expressed in those terms.
-Bracer assumes all combatants are attempting to win through violence.
Are these your (partial list, remainder snipped) of suggested fixes for what you're calling a narrative hole? Or your list of the bracer's capabilities and limitations? If the latter, then I disagree with the ones I've quoted above. If these were limitations, then the bracer could not provide a response to the question of Charlie's potential involvement in the absence of gobwins. That question does not involve a fight, and is most likely (IMO) not an effort which requires violence.
Dinkum wrote:Frankly I think the salvaging factor in the comic IS Parson, who would probably fret about the 1% in the odds of 'Going Home' to be 99%, and would not try to 'game the system' with 20 questions that could lead him astray with Odds and not Answers.
Huh? You're saying that Parson would not try to "game the system", an activity he consciously seeks to do at every opportunity, and spends many waking hours contemplating?
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby ftl » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:52 pm

GaryThunder wrote:The real question is how, if Erfworld truly is dominated by Fate, anything actually has a percentage chance of occurring at all that isn't 0% or 100%. Either something is Fated to happen or Fated to not happen, right? Probability is bunk. For instance, if Parson asked the bracer before the end of Book 1 "What are the odds of Wanda eventually acquiring an Arkentool?", the answer should have been 100%.


Probability is what you get whenever there's uncertainty - and it doesn't matter whether the uncertainty is inherent in the universe or just in your knowledge of the universe.

To take a real-world example:

Suppose I say I'm going to flip a fair coin. What do I say if someone asks me what the probability that I get heads? Well, obviously it's 50%. Suppose I flip a coin and close my eyes as it's spinning. What's the answer to the question then? Same thing, 50%.

In one case, the uncertainty is in the universe - the coin hasn't landed yet, so it might end up being one or the other. In the second case, the uncertainty is just in my *knowledge* of the universe - the coin has already landed, it's either heads or it's tails, but I don't know which it is.



But, it's worth noting that the first case (uncertainty inherent in the universe) is actually just a subset of the second. If the answer really isn't determined yet by anything in the world, then obviously I don't know it either.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby GaryThunder » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:24 am

I still think that the bracer has to use Predictamancy to some extent beyond just its Mathamancy. If it has access to Fate magic, it has no excuse for giving percentages. How could you even quantify something like "92% chance that it was Charlescomm" with just Mathamancy anyway? That's not predicting the future, that's the past. It either was Charlescomm or wasn't, and I don't see how that can be represented as a probability.
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