Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 029

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 029

When Faq's turn came, Jillian called out a cursory farewell to Lord Sidehug and lifted her group to the skies. They left the hex on a misdirection heading. She took them as far out as they could spare the move for, then turned sharply and made for the first rendezvous point, keeping high above the treetops for most of the flight. All three warlords kept a constant vigil for Haffaton flyers and scouts.

By blind luck (or blindness), they made it all the way without seeing any enemy units. A little giddy with relief and exhaustion, the warlords sank their three stacks of gwiffons down through the fog bank that shrouded the peak of Mount Pilot. They landed and secured their mounts, making camp in a shallow depression that was not quite a cave, sheltered beneath a huge overhanging dagger of gray/pink marble.

The new Viscount of Kibo, Bart Lightrail, was waiting there as expected, along with five new gwiffons and four fresh archers. Jillian gave him her standard we-don't-stand-on-ceremony briefing speech, with the usual cheery ending.

"...So we're small, but that's okay. A small force applied at a distance can be powerful, like a lever," she said. Then she narrowed her eyes. "And listen, Warlord. I'm sure you appeared at Court. And I bet you were told about how fighting's a 'necessary evil' and that kind of crap. That's the way they see it."

The new warlord nodded solemnly, looking worried.

Jillian held up her index finger. "Well, don't forget we're providing them that luxury, to sit around in silk robes and tell each other stuff like that. Our work out here keeps the side alive. Whatever they think of us, we fight for our home–that's what the Titans popped us to do–but get used to the idea that we might not see home again. You may be standing in front of the Titans to explain yourself, before you're ever in front of your King again. Fight well, and you'll be able to tell them what they want to hear." She smirked. "And given that choice, I'd rather talk to the Titans, anyway."

Bart was quiet, but his eyes were attentive and quick and his build was promisingly powerful. He seemed as solid as any Level 1 with no specials. Handsome, too. She'd have to watch herself and not step in any trail drama.

Titans, would they ever pop another flying warlord, though? She needed an edge. Losing Marika Neagle over a hundred turns ago still hurt. You took your losses out in the field, but disband it, that was a painful day. In combat, Marika and Jillian had been a team like no other, and there was just no replacing her.

(Outside of combat, though...oof, talk about trail drama. Maybe they'd meet again in the City of Heroes and patch things up, someday. She was in no hurry.)

She looked up into the gray fog, now tinged with orange. "That's it," said Jillian. "Turn's over, let's eat."

---

Wood for the lone cooking fire was scarce, although water was plentiful; the rock shelter had a nice clear drinking pool. The infantry sat on their bedrolls against the mountainside, eating hardtack rations and trading the same threadbare jokes. Beside them, the gwiffons gummed up their bonemeal feed.

Faq's commanders huddled around the fire, sharing a pot of barley soup made with scraps of two-turn-old game meat and cave mushrooms. There was less joking here. Jillian would have been content to bed down early, or at most talk tactics. But there was a new warlord here. Hedda and Chip both pressed Bart for news of home.

"I'm not sure what to tell you," said the quiet new man. "I think the Court looked splendid. Regal and elegant. Very dignified. King Banhammer was kind to me. The Jack entertained us with his tricks. We meditated. Brother Orwell took me aside and explained my mission. He took me to the map room for my route. I met Sister Marie there as well."

Orwell was Faq's Chief Lookamancer, and Marie was the Predictamancer. To enter or leave the kingdom undetected, it took the two of them to plot a safe route. Mount Pilot and the other points of rendezvous marked the edge of Orwell's range. When new units popped at home, they were collected into a stack and sent out here, as far as was safe. Jillian would then go about the dangerous business of cutting through enemy territory to meet and collect them. She'd been lucky enough at that, until this morning.

"Did they say anything about Haffaton?" asked Chip. "Last we could tell, Faq's nearly surrounded."

Bart shrugged. "Not really."

"Well, what are they going to do about it?" Hedda frowned.

Jillian shifted her sore rear end on the cold and uncomfortable rock. "Meditate," she said in a softly sneering tone. "Meditate much harder." She looked up from the fire. "I guarantee you the Court will meditate so hard, Haffaton won't know what hit 'em."

The four of them sat in silence for a while. Chip munched some of the dried apples that Bart had brought from home. Hedda poked the fire with her sword. Bart watched Jillian quizzically.

"I mean literally," said Jillian. They won't know anything hit them."

"Yeah, I got it, Chief," said Hedda.

She made a wry face. "See, that's why I don't tell jokes." The Princess stood up, pushing hard on her knees. "Latrine, then sleep for me. You want to stay up all night to hear about how things back home are exactly the same as always, suit yourself. Just keep it low." She walked toward the cave mouth. "We're flying out at dawn, though. I gotta hunch about the east."

---

The turn came with the dawn, which was good.

But it also came with orders, from daddy. In the bottom of the conjuring hat there was a slip of parchment with two sets of routes plotted. They were being recalled to Court.

She expected to be furious. She wanted to be furious. Her legs tensed, ready to kick a rock over the cliff. But in truth, she was amazed that her father had let her stay out in the field this long. In truth, she was relieved. The encounter with Haffaton had scared her more than she wanted to admit. In her dreams last night, she'd been trapped in the branches of a tree while jolly musical elves were setting it on fire.

She tore the parchment in half, walked up to Hedda, and placed one piece in her clammy palm.

"We're going home," she said cheerlessly.

"What? We are? Is there trouble?" asked Hedda, with alarm.

"Yes," said Jillian gravely. "It's terrible. Someone dropped their serviette at the tea ceremony. Four warlords are urgently needed to pick it up, so that nobody important will lose face."

The capital sent the separate route orders for two groups of faster and slower mounts. Jillian and Chip took the ones that could make the trip in two turns, while Hedda and Bart led the rest. Chip was unforgivably cheery about it.

"Two days' guaranteed safe travel, without a fight waiting at the end of it?" he bubbled. "I believe I can handle that, Chief. Yes, indeed. I can't wait to see Faq again. Can't wait to raid the larder!"

Soon they were stacked and underway, with a cold, wet wind in their faces. Hills and jagged mountains poked out all around them, teeth and claws and daggers.

Somewhere in the fourth of the forty-odd hexes they would cross this trip, Jillian pulled her mount close to Chip's and stared at him gloomily.

"What exactly makes you think," she asked, "there isn't going to be a fight waiting there?"

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
oslecamo2_temp wrote:
There's plenty of atempts to replicate erfworld simulations going in this forum, and rules discussions oovershadow everything else last time I checked.

{snip}

See, that's precisely part of the charm of Erfworld! The author delivers the rules trickle by trickle, keeping us thirsting. The warlord-archer (whatever's her name, who cares?) battle against dwagons and GK's dwagons and warlords (don't remember their names, don't care as well)for example had little images and zero character development, but hell yeah it had a lot of insight about Erfworld's rules, and produced plenty of dicussions around them.

{snip}

If that was really true, you wouldn't be here. You would be in one of those suposed threads were people are happily discussing the story and character's personalities-except there aren't any alive really. So much for that being popular!


Still in "let's pretend that's true" mode, you write those things as if they were indicative of a healthily paced story with a thriving community picking interesting things apart.

They aren't. We're, or rather you're, discussing whether frigging scouts may take an unguarded city. A situation that is not likely to show up for a variety of reasons, and which at best is a one-line rule that really is not worth more than one pop-up.

But this meta-discussion is illuminating. Is this really what Erfworld's about? Is it really about every once in a blue moon throwing a small bone like "stack for stealth"? Is this what you think brings, or used to bring, people here? Are the Klogs the only, or even the main, reason why people bought Book 1? Could all of this exist as anything else but fluff to a story?

No way. On the top of my head I can only speak for myself of course, but no way.
VariaVespasa wrote:
Kreistor wrote:
The fact is that it is somehow unsustainable, and we have no Rule that tells us why it is unsustainable.


People keep saying that. Where, EXACTLY, are you getting that from?


That should be obvious from the last few Book 0 pages. I'm not going to re-read them for you, but note the point about diminishing returns from City Levels after having reached a certain point.

It goes back a long way, including some early statements by Parson when he was trying to find ways to generate positive revenue.

I cover a lot of the evidence in this thread:

http://www.erfworld.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4035

BLANDCorporatio wrote:
well, recently, there was a discussion on the comparative merits of shell defenses, with historical parallels. That was cool.


Our own history is infinitely more interesting than Erfworld's.

oslecamo2_temp wrote:
BLANDCorporatio wrote:
If Erfworld is merely a massive board game, and all else like character and plot is secondary, then "Erf's not a game but a story" is suspect, and Erfworld is then merely a drawn out commercial for the trading card/video-game.

Far from impossible. ;)


No, there is one other important possibility.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue

Parson can devolve into wish fulfillment for Rob. Many gamers think of themselves as far better players than they actually are. Erfworld can be Rob's "proof" of his own superior gaming/military skills.

Now, I'm not going to participate in any argument this inspires. Peopel will want to defend Rob by trying to prove that Parson's flaws aren't trivialized. Fine, go ahead. I'm not trying to prove this. I'm only presenting it as an alternate answer tot he question that should be considered by all readers.

oslecamo2_temp wrote:
See, that's precisely part of the charm of Erfworld! The author delivers the rules trickle by trickle, keeping us thirsting.


I don't think that was Rob's intent. OotS had already divorced itself from D&D rules, so I think he wanted the Rules to be tertiary or even lowe in importance, but the problem comes in when trying to identify with Parson. Parson needs to know the Rules to demonstrate his
superior capacity: we can't decide that Parson is a great Commander unless we can determine that he made the best choice, and we can't judge that choice without knowing the same Rules Parson does.

Giving us all the Rules (which Rob has stated he has never written anyway) would require an out-of-comic presentation. Authors don't like doing that, and they don't want the rules to overwhelm character development. So we get the Klogs, which are a mix of Parson's thoughts and Rules. Later, we get the text updates, which usually present a few new Rules hidden in the subtext of a side story.

He isn't teasing us: he simply hasn't developed rules that aren't important to Parson, and he doesn't want to overwhelm the story with irrelevant Rules.

BLANDCorporatio wrote:
They aren't. We're, or rather you're, discussing whether frigging scouts may take an unguarded city. A situation that is not likely to show up for a variety of reasons, and which at best is a one-line rule that really is not worth more than one pop-up.


I don't identify such things by some kind of "coolness" factor. It is a thought exercise, just like every other issue. You can't tell where such efforts will go when you start them, so you're always going to get some a reader doesn't like with some they do.
Kreistor wrote:
BLANDCorporatio wrote:
well, recently, there was a discussion on the comparative merits of shell defenses, with historical parallels. That was cool.


Our own history is infinitely more interesting than Erfworld's.


Amen. No offense to anyone, but c'mon. Stupidworld's a monster!

Kreistor wrote:
I don't think that was Rob's intent. OotS had already divorced itself from D&D rules, so I think he wanted the Rules to be tertiary or even lowe in importance, but the problem comes in when trying to identify with Parson. Parson needs to know the Rules to demonstrate his superior capacity: we can't decide that Parson is a great Commander unless we can determine that he made the best choice, and we can't judge that choice without knowing the same Rules Parson does.


We're going to have to stop agreeing, it is getting creepy.

Kreistor wrote:
I don't identify such things by some kind of "coolness" factor. It is a thought exercise, just like every other issue. You can't tell where such efforts will go when you start them, so you're always going to get some a reader doesn't like with some they do.


Fair enough. Nonetheless, right about now a new update would be welcome. I think all erf-junkies here would agree.
A game-like world.

Parson as an expansion. New rules, new abilities. Like swearing.

Unlocking of new rules and abilities, like decryption or automatic dwagon taming, when arkentools fall into the right (or wrong) hands.

Don't assume that the rules are in any way static.

A regular board game's rules are fluid anyway. Optional rules, house rules, etc.
Kreistor wrote:

Our own history is infinitely more interesting than Erfworld's.

This pretty much. As just as a history, Erfworld is hardly fascinating. Nobody needs to worry for injuries for more than a day. There's no children, things just pop up ready to use, waste disapears, and the best explanation we got for those is "titans lol!" Units have just basic attacks and the ocasional special (except for mancers, but those are a drop in the bucket). The main selling point is "this is a massive board game, and Hamster the player is inside it".

Whitout the rules glimpses, Erfworld wouldn't have half the sucess it has today. Why do you think the klogs and text updates are so freaking popular?

Kreistor wrote:

oslecamo2_temp wrote:
See, that's precisely part of the charm of Erfworld! The author delivers the rules trickle by trickle, keeping us thirsting.


I don't think that was Rob's intent. OotS had already divorced itself from D&D rules, so I think he wanted the Rules to be tertiary or even lowe in importance, but the problem comes in when trying to identify with Parson. Parson needs to know the Rules to demonstrate his
superior capacity: we can't decide that Parson is a great Commander unless we can determine that he made the best choice, and we can't judge that choice without knowing the same Rules Parson does.

Giving us all the Rules (which Rob has stated he has never written anyway) would require an out-of-comic presentation. Authors don't like doing that, and they don't want the rules to overwhelm character development. So we get the Klogs, which are a mix of Parson's thoughts and Rules. Later, we get the text updates, which usually present a few new Rules hidden in the subtext of a side story.

He isn't teasing us: he simply hasn't developed rules that aren't important to Parson, and he doesn't want to overwhelm the story with irrelevant Rules.

You may've been right about that way back in book 1. But then we got "Poof Kingworld!", and well, that's the kind of thing you do in a game promotional. Reveal some uber unit ability out of nowhere.

Kreistor wrote:

BLANDCorporatio wrote:
They aren't. We're, or rather you're, discussing whether frigging scouts may take an unguarded city. A situation that is not likely to show up for a variety of reasons, and which at best is a one-line rule that really is not worth more than one pop-up.


I don't identify such things by some kind of "coolness" factor. It is a thought exercise, just like every other issue. You can't tell where such efforts will go when you start them, so you're always going to get some a reader doesn't like with some they do.

If it's interesting enough for you to spend your precious life time talking about for no pratical gain, then it has "coolness" for you.
All that only means you cant grow beyond a certain number of cities before you start running at a loss, sort of how certain iterations of the Civ games try to implement, and you cant expand your military beyond a certain point (ie- what your citis can pay for) without finding extra sources of income. All that says nothing, nothing at all, about why you cant just reach max or near max efficient cities, max out or near max out your military strength for that budget, and then just stop and live in peace. I have seen nothing that says units continue to improve and thus become more expensive to maintain if you dont want them to, and I have seen nothing to suggest there isnt a level cap on units somewhere. Therefor it is perfectly possible to calculate precisely how much your income will be at your chosen number of cities and then design an optimal force with that budget, build the cadre for that force and then grow into it over time as it levels up through training to the desired level. The money thats not spent on upkeep (because your force isnt up to its final desired level/strength yet) is added to the treasury as a reserve fund. Do you have the ability to overgrow your budget and thus need to start finding new, probably violent ways to supplement it? Sure, but there is NOTHING that REQUIRES you to do so. You have not even remotely shown otherwise.

Even if units do keep levelling even when you dont want them to, thus messing up your budget, you *can* just disband extras to balance the budget as needed rather than going to war. You said a side could "murder" its own troops that way yourself, but you used that specific perjorative word and then decided, with no evidence whatsoever, that because murder was a bad word, that that somehow meant no side would ever do it. Complete hogwash. Heck, you could possibly even just sell the excess to another side for cash rather than just disbanding, if you felt it was safe to do so.

The whole ridiculous idea that Transylvito and that other side keep trading that city because it makes them both money is blatantly silly also. That is NOT whats going on there. Trans takes it because while it isnt worth it to keep for themselves, the ransom they get makes it valuable enough for the effort. The other guys buy it back because it IS worth it to them to have it due to their smaller size. As long as translvio doesnt take it so ofte that the other guys dont earn enough in the meantime to more than pay for the next ransom it can go on forever. But its not somehow generating extra money for both sides.
reignofevil wrote:
What if a particularly reactionary side reached the point of diminishing schmuckers, and then simply started killing and razing every city they encountered (and could take) after that? I imagine alliances such as the one in tBfGW would make this unlikely, but I personally would feel pretty safe with a dead zone ring of ten or twenty razed cities surrounding my whole empire.


Doesn't affect things in Erfworld. The concept of Supply that makes Scorched Earth effective is irrelevant in the face of upkeep that pops in your presence without supply wagons or forage. All you need is to have enough treasury to feed the troops through the dead zone.
Probably, unless they know what they're doing. It does leave you a fat scouting zone... But eventually you're going to face enough enemies along your perimeter that you can't really take them all on.
And it makes you predictable. Your static city selection means your forces are predictable, and predictable means vulnerable. Note Caesar's near death in Chocula. The only thing that prevented his annihilation was a guess that the enemy had prepared for him. The same goes for anyone that is too set in his ways.

In other words, no single solution works over the long term. All static positions have weaknesses that can be exploited.
Hrmm... First update in a month.