Summer Update - 034

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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby gameboy1234 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 6:59 pm

Wed Dwagon wrote:build an enormous world-conquering army of troops whose loyalty, effectiveness, and most likely very existence is dependent on a single powerful magical artifact.

What this presages for the future (whether near or eventual) is: epic fail. (Literally!)


This is a good point. Ansom was disarmed twice by relatively low level units. He was alone both times, and Wanda is unlikely to ever be with out several stacks when she's in the field, but still, boop happens. If anything does happen to Wanda and her fearsome army of decrypted, I think a disarming maneuver will be it.

I'm thinking it'll be more eventual than near, however.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby EvokeAnObject » Sat Sep 19, 2009 7:01 pm

It's difficult to tell whether Wrigley simplemindedness is typical of all units at his level. Stanley started out as "a simple piker" and was able to rise to warlord before finding and becoming attuned to the Arkenhammer. This suggests that Stanley was capable of abstract thought, strategy and planning before his promotion. Perhaps he was an exceptional unit compared to others of his level, just as Bogroll appeared to be compared to other twolls? There is certainly precedent among some of the game systems that Erfworld references for elite or unusual units to spawn at random....

I really enjoyed this update as well. I think it makes a conflict between Wanda and Parson inevitable. Parson's qualms about using lethal force while defending will pall compared to his reaction when he finds out that Wanda and presumably Stanley are engaging in a war of aggression and executing all their prisoners. Of course, it's the way to go strategically given Wanda's ability to decrypt -- but Parson seems to be moving away psychologically from mass murder as a strategic expedient. Duty and loyalty would appear to require Parson to keep his mouth shut and help anyway, but we have already seen at least two instances where a caster or warlord acting against the interests of their sovereign.

Wanda convinced Stanley to attack FAQ resulting in its destruction. She claimed that she believed that Stanley would be defeated and FAQ unharmed, but in retrospect this explanation fails to convince, particularly considering that Stanley attacked while Jillian was away and apparently without letting King Banhammer know so that he could muster a defense. More significantly, Stanley (or perhaps Wanda) was responsible for the attack by the Gobwins on Gobwin Knob that killed King Saline, which conveniently occurred while he was away with the casters and elevated him to leader. To render these events consistent with the Erfworld rules we know so far, there will have to be some mechanism by which a Warlord or caster may act in his own interest despite and against their obligations to their leader. It will be interesting to see if and how Parson discovers that mechanism and uses it to turn against Wanda and Stanley.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby raphfrk » Sat Sep 19, 2009 7:16 pm

Wed Dwagon wrote:So, we now see Stanley, Ansom, and Wanda employing that time-honored strategy that always works so well in fantasy fiction: build an enormous world-conquering army of troops whose loyalty, effectiveness, and most likely very existence is dependent on a single powerful magical artifact.


That is so true :), it is exactly the backdrop for lots of fantasy novels, just told from the perspective of the evil overlord (including the suggestion that maybe the "evil" quest isn't so evil after all.)

What this presages for the future (whether near or eventual) is: epic fail. (Literally!) Even bigger epic fail when the artifact in question is actually being deployed in the field of battle instead of, say, sealed up in an "impregnable" tower somewhere.

Parson is (as we know from some of his early Klog entries) familiar enough with the cliches of fantasy fiction to recognize this problem right away. The question will be, what can he do about it? The more interesting question will be, does he care?


He needs to at least convince Wanda to stay in cities. However, the power of the pliers does depend on her being at least near to the action.

However, Wanda's motivation itself is also a point of weakness. She might decide to take the pliers and go barbarian. It is clear that Ansom would follow her anywhere, and that is likely representative of the entire decrypted army.

Book 2 could be Parson as GK's Chief Warlord trying to stop Wanda after she forms her own side out of all of GK's conquered cities. Effectively, he would be trying to create a new RCC to stop Wanda.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Lord Kasavin » Sat Sep 19, 2009 7:21 pm

Wed Dwagon wrote:So, we now see Stanley, Ansom, and Wanda employing that time-honored strategy that always works so well in fantasy fiction: build an enormous world-conquering army of troops whose loyalty, effectiveness, and most likely very existence is dependent on a single powerful magical artifact.

What this presages in the future is: epic fail. (Literally!) Even bigger epic fail when the artifact in question is actually being deployed in the field of battle instead of, say, sealed up in an "impregnable" tower somewhere.

Parson is presumably familiar enough with the cliches of fantasy fiction to recognize this problem right away. The question will be, what can he do about it? The more interesting question will be, does he care?


Right now, Parson has other things on his mind. Like trying to reconcile the death of thousands to the moral neutral person he thought he was. Also, the ongoing realization just how different Erfworld is from Earth and "reality." Finally, he's quickly discovering despite his recent refound ability to swear and his disposal of the sword, he's still very much bound by the laws of Erfworld.

But yeah, I suspect we're going to see Wanda and/or the Arkenpliers neutralized by the start of Book 2. I do hope we can see her continuing to interact with Gobwin Knob cast as oppose to putting her on a pedestal apart.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Fiendishrabbit » Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:08 pm

Wed Dwagon wrote:So, we now see Stanley, Ansom, and Wanda employing that time-honored strategy that always works so well in fantasy fiction: build an enormous world-conquering army of troops whose loyalty, effectiveness, and most likely very existence is dependent on a single powerful magical artifact.

What this presages for the future (whether near or eventual) is: epic fail. (Literally!) Even bigger epic fail when the artifact in question is actually being deployed in the field of battle instead of, say, sealed up in an "impregnable" tower somewhere.


To be fair. They're not relying on it entirely. Stanley is popping dwagons and twolls and what-nots. Probably as fast as he can.
On the other hand, if you DO have the ability to raise a huge army thanks to a magical artifact without any drawbacks and anyone you're attacking is already trying to kill you. Then why not use that artifact despite whatever drawbacks it has? It's better than not using the artifact, no?

In essence, if you having it and not using it is always worse than having it and using it. Then use it!
Use it to create the maximum advantage for the moment when you no longer have it.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby raphfrk » Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:22 pm

Fiendishrabbit wrote:In essence, if you having it and not using it is always worse than having it and using it. Then use it!
Use it to create the maximum advantage for the moment when you no longer have it.


Also, if the pliers fall into enemy hands, then they don't grant the bonus to the enemy, unless Wanda is successfully captured and it seems that the holder of an Arkentool should at least have free will.

Maybe it is the fact that Wanda is at least reasonably free that allows her to attune, despite not being a Ruler.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Spot » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:02 pm

moose o death wrote:
it's about on par with robot wives, for me, your mileage may vary. they are not born again (popped again) they are mind controlled versions of their former selves..ansom thinks he's alive, he thinks stanley was right all along and he thinks wanda is his goddess. but he's still a corpse. a puppet. uncroak lets the puppet master control the body. decrypt lets them control the mind. i'd prefer death over that existence




I think that you're hitting close to the essence of decryption, without actually discussing the 800 lb. gorilla in the center of the room.

Wrigley's original belief structure was (a) arbitrary, (b) determined by an accident of circumstance (where he happened to be popped, and to whom he was popped), (c) imposed upon him by the society in which he found himself, and (c) accepted without question, without examination, and without introspection.

If he were to be decrypted, Wrigley's new belief structure would be exactly the same as before in regards to (a), (b), (c), and (d). A decrypted unit has no less free will than it had *before* being decrypted... ...and, in fact, the Decrypted will have the advantage of being able to mentally compare their old arbitrary set of beliefs, with their new and equally-arbitrary set of beliefs.

Spoiler: show
Wanda's widespread use of the Arkenpliers could very well lead to the *increased* possibility of Erfworlders starting to question the rules, Parson-style. Especially if, for example, Wanda was to die in the field along with Ansom... leaving Parson to take charge of a huge army of folks who (a) have already changed arbitrary world-views once, and (b) whose most intense loyalty is to someone who is dead, and (c) are then thrown into contact with Parson, who has no respect for Erfworld's arbitrary rules.

At least, that's where I think this story is headed.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby moose o death » Sat Sep 19, 2009 10:45 pm

no i disagree, wanda has no intention of breaking erfworld she seems quite content to manipulate it like she did stanley. even parson isn't out to break erfworld, we've all been drawing too much from janice's comments that he might break enough rules to create peace. he's not specifically trying to break rules he more or less doesn't know what they are.

eg throwing bogroll at ansom was a dick move in both ansom and stanley's eye's, and if you think about it offering a false surrender to assasinate the opposing leader is pretty low. he knew it would only buy their side more time. in the process he sacrificed what is essentially his best friend in that world.

but then again, beheading soldiers you've captured isn't exactly man of the year material either so i guess in the end all's fair in love and war.

one of the following happens
1:
the decrypted force being routed by book 1 start by a superior force, honestly the rcc troops were NOT the best of the best, they were probably all green getting some much needed levelups before returning to their kingdoms as garrisoned troops again. eg, TV sent vinny NOT cesar, TV sent bats NOT the goyles. it's very likely they thought so little of this upstart stanley for taking down the small forts and sub city's, that they considered his defeat a training excercise.imagine an army of level 8 heavies with their own chief warlord bonus's and you can guess the new forces will be getting swatted like flies

2: the decrypted force sets up base in one of the cities and is counterattacked by tv/faq alliance.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby yay » Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:54 am

so glad that this update was from the perspective of a nobody. it helped put the story in perspective.

maybe the next one will be from wrigley again, only as a decrypted unit. i know they already showed Ansoms creepy devotion to Wanda, but maybe that isn't uniform for all decrypted. maybe the "love" he feels is like duty, which affects higher ranking units more than grunts.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby incomplete » Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:42 am

rob/jamie:

this is my first post, but i've been following the comic since it's inception, and once the story picked up i was completely hooked. once you guys moved to the summer updates, i became even more interested and drawn in to the story... i don't miss the comic format at all, actually.

regardless, this update is so far my favorite. it's heavy, for sure. informative, and the more clues to the world/system we get the better. but i think you guys are doing a particularly great job of showing us how an alien culture behaves based on the natural (or magical) laws that govern them.

keep up the great work!
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Steve-D » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:24 am

A very interesting and well-written update. The issues around free-will in Erfworld continue to deepen.

In a sense is nice to see Wanda back as the 'bad guy' she was supposed to be at the beginning of the story. Her image had grown too soft lately, and the revelation of her betrayal of Jillians side didn't quite cut deeply enough.

It makes me wonder about Parson, however. He's always been fighting a defensive fight, for his survival. Would he have the will to attack an enemy without provocation? To kill and decrypt prisoners?

The next comic isn't supposed to be a story about Parson. I wonder who the main character will be?
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Binty » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:44 am

Steve-D wrote:It makes me wonder about Parson, however. He's always been fighting a defensive fight, for his survival. Would he have the will to attack an enemy without provocation? To kill and decrypt prisoners?


This is what I am wondering. Killing prisoners will be a whole new morale low for Parson, something he might balk at and start him working against the Tool.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Glenn » Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:16 pm

What exactly IS decryption? Is it a process by which a unit is returned to life? If so, then I think we need to remember that what Wanda is doing CAN NOT be simply described as killing prisoners. Terms like "killing", "execution", "murder" all carry the assumption that death is permanent. "Killing" someone and then instantly bringing them back to life is an act fundamentally different from just killing them. If a surgeon stops a patient's heart for a few seconds in order to perform heart surgery, he is not going to be charged with murder. (He might be charged with malpractice if the operation doesn't work, but that's a different issue)
Remember how Parson told Wanda that he had wanted to fight a war without killing anyone? In a way, if it's accurate to say that Decryption returns units to life, that's exactly what Wanda is doing now. Instead of killing her enemies, she is transforming them. The real question here is, what is Wanda transforming them into? And the answer is, we don't yet know. It's doubtful if even Wanda really knows that yet.

The people who think what Wanda's doing is monstrously evil mostly seem to think that Decryption is an inherently evil process, either because they think it doesn't restore a unit to "real" life, or because because it presumably deprives a unit of free will. But we don't yet now the real differences between being a normal unit and being a decrypted unit. And until we do know, we should be careful about making moral judgments about what Wanda is doing.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Wed Dwagon » Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:39 pm

Lord Kasavin wrote:But yeah, I suspect we're going to see Wanda and/or the Arkenpliers neutralized by the start of Book 2. I do hope we can see her continuing to interact with Gobwin Knob cast as oppose to putting her on a pedestal apart.



There are lots of ways the story could go from here, and only some of them involve GK's new offensive getting neutralized. I can only see that as a likely possibility if there's also a large jump ahead in time, to after GK has captured/recaptured a large territory, and/or is about to attack one of the major enemy capitals.

From a meta-story point of view, it does appear necessary for something to happen to shift Parson from his current comfortable-but-marginalized position. (No protagonist stays in such a position for long.) However, I doubt that's going to happen before the next book begins.

(Possibilities involving Parson leaving GK -- unlikely to begin with -- are now ruled out. His only physical way out might be to be kidnapped by a raid of Charlie's forces, which he had plenty of opportunity to do during the Siege and didn't allow to happen, and which might no longer be tactically possible at this point. The Magic Kingdom also appears off-limits for the time being.)

So I'll be interested to see... how does "garrison unit" Parson take on a pivotal role again? Especially, without the story turning into "Another Siege of Gobwin Knob" which I don't think is going to happen? I think there's going to be a big change in the situation, and it won't be the loss of the Arkenpliers (yet). I expect it to come in subtle form, such as Stanley giving Parson some unimportant-seeming new orders.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Wed Dwagon » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:11 pm

Fiendishrabbit wrote:To be fair. They're not relying on [the Arkenpliers and decrypted units] entirely. Stanley is popping dwagons and twolls and what-nots. Probably as fast as he can.
On the other hand, if you DO have the ability to raise a huge army thanks to a magical artifact without any drawbacks and anyone you're attacking is already trying to kill you. Then why not use that artifact despite whatever drawbacks it has? It's better than not using the artifact, no?

In essence, if you having it and not using it is always worse than having it and using it. Then use it!
Use it to create the maximum advantage for the moment when you no longer have it.



Yeah, good point.

And the more cities they can take using their decrypts the more new living units they can pop.

From a war game perspective, the drawback is over-extension. To take advantage of the 'pliers, they have to spread their real forces thin, or not spread their real forces at all and leave their warlords isolated and their empire easily overrun should the decrypts be lost. A patient approach is called for, unless their enemies happen to be depleting their own forces by warring with one another. (That, by the way, is one reason that in war games, having a resource and not using it is not always worse than having it and using it. If using it will unite your opponents against you, it's better not to use it unless you're certain you're ready to deal with that.)

Stanley, of course, is not going to be patient. Plot!

And Erfworld isn't just a war game, it's also a world. "Human" nature makes it hard to use a resource to create the maximum advantage for the moment when you no longer have it. Let's see, use these troops, while we got 'em, to grab another shiny new city, or to build up the defenses of the cities we already have, just in case? Way too easy to make the wrong choice.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Infidel » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:08 pm

Glenn wrote:What exactly IS decryption? Is it a process by which a unit is returned to life? If so, then I think we need to remember that what Wanda is doing CAN NOT be simply described as killing prisoners. Terms like "killing", "execution", "murder" all carry the assumption that death is permanent. "Killing" someone and then instantly bringing them back to life is an act fundamentally different from just killing them. If a surgeon stops a patient's heart for a few seconds in order to perform heart surgery, he is not going to be charged with murder. (He might be charged with malpractice if the operation doesn't work, but that's a different issue)


Even religions that believe in resurrection and reincarnation believe in the concept of murder. But it goes a bit further than this because your analogy is terrible. A surgeon operates for the patient's benefit. Stopping a patient's heart is something a surgeon would only do deliberately if the patient's life was already in danger. If all goes well, the patient should recover to a better condition than on arrival. What Wanda is doing is not just killing them and bringing them back, she's killing WHO THEY ARE and bringing them back as new people with the memories of the old, but with totally different motivations.

If you want to make an analogy. Think of a government capturing people against their will and then installing control circuits directly into their minds to control how they think and feel. It's a monstrous. Sure, they may look the same, but the old Ansom is dead. He's not brought to life. He's dead. All those Archons, they are STILL dead, the animated bodies walking around with their memories are totally different people.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Steve-D » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:10 pm

Glenn wrote:The people who think what Wanda's doing is monstrously evil mostly seem to think that Decryption is an inherently evil process, either because they think it doesn't restore a unit to "real" life, or because because it presumably deprives a unit of free will. But we don't yet now the real differences between being a normal unit and being a decrypted unit. And until we do know, we should be careful about making moral judgments about what Wanda is doing.


So by extension of this, would someone separating the pliers from Wanda and (in all likelyhood) removing the power that sustains the decrypted be committing mass-murder? :P

I think not. The point of a surgeon stopping a patients heart is to prevent him from death, not to cause it. You can't really compare that to lobbing off a prisoners head with a broadsword.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby moose o death » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:44 pm

no it's not murder, that's already happened.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby raphfrk » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:21 pm

Steve-D wrote:So by extension of this, would someone separating the pliers from Wanda and (in all likelyhood) removing the power that sustains the decrypted be committing mass-murder? :P


Is there any reason to expect that to happen?

If Stanley lost the hammer, the dwagons would still exist.

There is a risk that the decrypted units are loyal to the holder of the pliers, so the effect could be that they all switch sides. However, it is more likely that they would remain loyal to Wanda as she is attuned to the pliers, even if they were stolen. Also, if she was killed, then they would likely remain as full units, perhaps with low loyalty to the Ruler.

moose o death wrote:no it's not murder, that's already happened.


Arguably, the definition of murder is when you inflict damage that renders a person unrecoverable.
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Re: Summer Update - 034

Postby Kender Wizard » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:26 pm

Lol. Its been a long time since I posted. It definitely seems that the arkenpliers permit a subject to be brought back as their former selves with the addition of a strong compulsion/thinkamancy.
To be truly honest, I don't know whether this is evil (in the moral context of erfworld). You see, heres the rub. In order to have peace, true lasting peace on a global scale, the entire world would have to be united under one banner (whether one nation or closely allied nations really doesn't matter for this purpose). In order for that to take place, something would have to hold all of these nations together. Even here, as it was stated a long time ago, nobles from a given side can break off and form their own nations, which will eventually start the cycle of wars all over again. Also, there are apparently naturally conflicting sides, such as gobwins and marbits, barbarians, elves and hobgobwins, and so on.
So, one way to have all of these naturally conflicting sides live in perpetual peace would be to either take away their impulses for ambition, species emnity (royal vs. non, elf vs. gobwin, etc) and so on to the point that they are no more than drones. The other alternative is to instill a compulsion towards following a particular person or side so strong that it overrides other desires. THAT, that is what the arkenpliers do. The units are apparently the same people underneath that compulsion. Ansom's internal thoughts indicated that his feeling for Jetstone and Jillian were overshadowed by his feelings for the arkenpliers wielder, not that he no longer cared for Jetstone or Jillian. He also still has his views on honor, and is capable of believing that his superiors (Parson, shortly after Ansom was decrypted) can make poor decisions. :D We still agree on something!
So, it is plausible that the arkenpliers could be used to take over and change the world. Assuming that Wanda doesn't age (complete unknown, but units have been known to last hundreds of turns at the least), she could decrypt the whole world and there could be perpetual peace and a partial measure of free will. Also, there is no evidence whether or not killing Wanda would destroy the decrypted. Maybe, maybe not.
So, there you are. Complete free will and war vs.partial free will and peace. Take your pick. Oh, and keep in mind: if natural thinkamancy is anything more than talk, regular units may not have complete free will regardless, and decrypting just makes it more evident. :cry:
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