Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 030

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 030

Yeah, there were grander capitals in Erfworld. That was true.

Jillian had seen cities woven from black iron, cities of soaring brass arches and snowy-white marble, a jumble of complicated little aqueducts beneath a rainbow-tinged waterfall, a city in the sand, tilted like a castoff seashell, cities of smoke and of glitter, of reeds and of weeping rust. But in all her travels she had yet to see the like of Faq, her home.

On the one hand, she hated the design of this place. The outer walls were ridiculously high for a city that would probably never have to repel an attacking army on the ground. The squat and venerable Abe Pagoda was nothing like the soaring mooring tower she‘d have liked to have, with berths for dozens of heavy fliers. And (Titans forbid) if they ever had to defend this city from the air, all those casters they kept in that sad little tower would be wishing for one with a decent boost.

But those were just the gripes of her Chief Warlord side. Really, she always surprised herself with how much she loved this place.

Perched upon her great bulky megalogwiff, she flew in high over green terraces with carefully tended gardens, shining fountains, and ponds full of tasty fish. The orderly streets fanned out below her in symmetrical patterns of curves and rays. Sides with a Signamancer always kept the tidiest cities in Erfworld.

Yeah, Faq could best be appreciated from the air like this. But few people ever saw it from up here. Adderall Hawk, Faq's Mathamancer, was their only talking unit with the flying special. The last Jillian had heard, he only ever used it to go meditate on the nearby mountaintops.

She certainly couldn't imagine her father taking any pleasure flights on gwiffonback. No. Too undignified and improper for a king. Members of the Royal Court were above that sort of thing (or in this case, beneath it). And they almost never flew out to Otoh or Kibo, either. No reason for the intellectuals to go out to the farm and watch the bread appear.

So looking upon home from the air was a treat just for her, just for the wayward Princess and her warriors. For scores upon scores of turns she had flown far away to put her life up for this elegant, stuffy, manicured, snooty, beautiful city. Out there in the field, the sons and daughters of Faq had fought and fallen, in gruesome scenes of valor that would remain unknown to those who slept here.

The Court, of course, had no interest in glory.

Truth be told, neither did she. Glory was a fairly stupid thing to fight for. But those who had gone to meet the Titans in support of their side deserved better than a polite cough and a change of subject, and that's what was waiting for her on the ground.

She realized she was stalling, spiraling lazily around the garrison. She grunted at herself in disgust. Okay, sightseeing over. This was not how she tackled her problems. She had her orders.

Princess Jillian nosed her stack into a sharp dive, straight toward that ridiculous hut they called a “tower.”

---

Upon the flat landing near the top of the pagoda, an honor guard raised the bells of their banner-hung trumpets and called out a fanfare in brassy harmony. "Blatt, bippa, braaaang... Buh-brang! Buh-braaaang!"

Huh. That was new.

Bright flares shot upward from the roof in blazing yellow and green, Faq‘s colors. A flock of white doves was released from the eaves.

...What?

Squads of sharply synchronized soldiers raised their spears in reverent salute to her approach. The steel tips of twoscore spears glinted in the sunlight.

And that was...very new. And unexpected. Okay, when and why did they pop new infantry? What did they expect to do with these troops? Wait, were those knights? When were they going to tell her about all this?

She tugged on the reins and brought her enormous, silent beast into a leisurely approach, on a level with the tower top. She could barely believe this reception, and she wanted to appreciate it. Had there really been this much of a change at Court? About defense, and...about her?

“How ‘bout all of this?” she remarked over her shoulder to Chip Tunage, whose megalo followed closely along at her flank.

“Hm?” he said.

“This welcome,” she said, indicating the tower.

Chip frowned a bit, looking oddly apologetic. “Well, you know,” he shrugged, “what‘d you expect, right?”

Jillian wasn‘t sure what he meant by that, and turned and looked again at the tower top. Behind the honor guard, in the shade of the upwardly curving rooftop, she could now see a full formal reception. There stood her father and the entire Court. All of Faq‘s casters were there, in their humble matching robes. Servants waited in the shadows with teacups and sweetmeats.

She recognized the slender Add Hawk, standing right next to big Brother Orwell the Lookamancer. There was Marie LaVraie, the Predictamancer, and Sister Betsy Murgatroyd the Healomancer. The Signamancer, Brother Labeler, stood beside Jack Snipe, their indispensable Foolamancer. Moothfott the Moneymancer stood at the right hand of King Banhammer, of course. Even the lowly and disfavored Shockmancer, Rusty Trombone, was standing off to one side.

They all smiled at her serenely as she pulled beside the edge of the tower top. Floating on the cool breeze came the gentle whisper of bamboo flutes.

At first bump, she threw down her reins and dismounted quickly and smartly, sliding down her megalo‘s yellow flank. She planted her boots on the worn hardwood, which was littered with yellow rose petals in a trail that led straight to her father the King.

There he stood, his great arms crossed in judgment. But his face was smiling proudly, as if to say “All is forgiven, welcome home.”

She heaved her shoulders up, blew out a long breath, and stalked her way forward. Her boots clomp-clomped over the flower petals.

A few steps from her father, Jillian veered from the trail. Head forward, eyebrows low, she walked up to Jack Snipe, not even breaking her stride.

“Okay. Cut this crap,” she scowled at him, closing in face-to face.

“Aww,” said the Foolamancer, looking around. “Aw, now,” he frowned, “I plead best intent, of course. But yes all right, I know an order when I hear one.”

He jerked his head, and the flute stopped in mid-note. The entire tower top emptied of personnel and decorations, except for Jack, Jillian, and off to one side the Master of the Garrison, Sergeant Lepper. These were the only two who had actually come to greet her return.

Jillian nodded to the Sergeant's shaky salute, and turned back to the skinny little caster who had made this whole trick appear. “Jack...”

“It was just for your eyes, of course, Royal Highness. The point was made. That‘s the reception you ought to‘ve had.” His gaunt face was earnest and unapologetic, his tone insistent. “Our Yellow Rose has returned! And it is...an injustice to treat the flyer landing as a servants‘ entrance.”

Poor Jack Snipe. He was maybe the only caster at Court who was actually fond of her. She could imagine him standing up for her in their little late-night philosophy circle. He played his role of Knave and said the things only a Royal fool could really get away with, but being her friend still cost him a lot.

“Hey!” she yelled at the Captain and her troops alike. “This caster tried to use his Foolamancy on me, and I caught him. Everybody turn around, you shouldn‘t have to see this. S‘gonna be a little brutal.”

Her troops, on her order, turned their heads away.

She grabbed the rail-thin man by his shoulders, and popped him right in the lips with a quick kiss. Then she drew him to her, and crushed him mightily against her armor. “Thanks,” she whispered.

“Of...of course Mistress,” said Jack humbly.

Jillian released him, then took a few steps back toward her megalo and unbuckled a saddlebag. She slung it over her shoulder and stalked into the tower. “They want me at Court, right? I‘m going to change, ‘cause... I guess they‘ll want me to.”

“They do,” said Jack. “But Highness...please don‘t ever.”

When the troops looked back, they winced. Jillian couldn‘t imagine what picture Jack had put in their eyes, but she laughed wickedly as she skipped down the wooden staircase.

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
Yep, 0beron. But, in the end, as a player, I would probably want as much variety in my Casters as possible, so presuming I played Banhammer, I would Turn any Casters captured by the Expeditionary force, but far from FAQ so they have no knowledge of it, and trade with other Sides via the EF to get Casters of unique types.
Kreistor wrote:
And, of course, there's always the possibility that the author gnerated the Casters specifically to give us the widest possible understanding of magic. Repeating caster types does not introduce new info, so to get as many descriptions out as quickly as possible, he selects ones that have not been selected yet.


I like this idea simply because the kingdom name is FAQ.
BLANDCorporatio wrote:
drachefly wrote:
How unlikely would P(data|u.i.d) have to be for you to reject it? {...} With something like 'randomly among those not already on the side'... what probability ratio would you have to see to put you in serious doubt?

That value is the value you implicitly are already using as your prior. You're just not admitting it.


One can work back from some arbitrary cut-off threshold like 0.05 chance of the evidence matching the hypothesis, yeah. Of course this just shifts the problem around aimlessly. Either justifying a cut-off or a certain prior belief, same thing - how? Or is it that this selection is fairly free, bound (or not) by other experience and subjective, complex and infinitely debatable?


There are, technically, rigorous ways of identifying priors. They are ridiculously computationally intensive, so we have to approximate. In more quantifiable fields or subjects, you can get more constrained priors via practical approximations - use a population average, say. Discrete, singular laws-of-nature kinds of things are more slippery. This is one of those. One can get into arguments over priors, but unless they're orders of magnitude different, there's not much point. I wasn't so much arguing against your 40% as against the lack of a rule used to generate it.

I based my initial estimates off of the reference class of those rules we've seen in action that are as analogous as possible in each case. The most subjective was the very low 'positive autocorrelation' probability, which was largely relying on this being a work of fiction that is not primarily comedy (it would be very narratively unsatisfying for casters of one type to clump up purely based on biased luck without any other influences), followed by my discounting Fate from >90% to 10% by qualifying the theory to neglect the main strands of fate. Signamancy, Luckamancy, terrain... these all play about that much role in the relevant reference classes, as described.

Do you agree that the prior on u.i.d. ought to be somewhere vaguely near the order I gave, not >80% and not <5%, and that such an assignment is not absolutely arbitrary, but something that one might have legitimate reasons - however arguable the exact numbers are? If you think so, then we have no remaining argument.
I have to say.... I did miss our long, overly technical/precise discussions of minutiae. Especially given how often they aim in everyone agreeing we lack enough information and are unlikely to ever have it :D
drachefly wrote:
Do you agree that the prior on u.i.d. ought to be somewhere vaguely near the order I gave, not >80% and not <5%, and that such an assignment is not absolutely arbitrary, but something that one might have legitimate reasons - however arguable the exact numbers are? If you think so, then we have no remaining argument.


I'm not sure we had an argument to begin with, strictly speaking. The figures seem reasonable, the quoted paragraph is agreed on. I just wanted to know if there's a simple way to unambiguously quantify that.
Kreistor wrote:

The Thinkamancer does something Units cannot -- permits direct diplomacy with the enemy, direct orders to expeditionary forces, etc. No known units in the Jetstone inventory do that. It's new functionality, and while not directly militarily powerful, indirectly it can be game changing. Even a Level 1 Thinkamancer might be able to end a War and save the Side with one two paragraph conversation. Could a Battle Bear do that?

No. But any unit able to talk could pull it off. The thinkmancer just saves you the trouble of sending messengers, but you can still communicate with other sides and expeditionary forces whitout it, it just makes the logistics harder. Just like the dollmancer eases up your heavy production logistics.
0beron wrote:
In the words of Einstein, "Make everything simple as possible, but not simpler". So in that spirit I'll have to agree with Marbit, Random w/ no Duplicates is the simplest model that still fits the (albiet limited) data.
As for OPINION, I think it's Random with non-equal probabilities for all caster types, no dupes....but the Titans "mess with the dice" every so often. But there's not enough data to get into something that complex, and I doubt there ever WILL be. This is probably one of those things we will never "figure out", it will either be told to us, or left a mystery.


Given that Rob is a Titan, an alternate simple explanation is that the Titans have selected caster pops that satisfy Fate, to the extent that Fate cares, while also attempting to obscure what Fate cares about by letting character concepts and pop culture references determine the casters not required by Fate.

It seems to me that someone who asserts that the non-Fate-driven pops come from a process of "(a) roll a die to determine caster type, then (b) find a clever reference to fit that caster type" should provide evidence of that process, since it is clearly more work for the Titans than the process "(a) think of a clever reference".

If you feel this is unsatisfyingly meta, consider the evidence that the in-universe concept of signamancy extends to pop culture references that don't make sense in-universe: the dog food Knights getting chewed up, Sammy Haggar rocking, the Arkentool attuners having Stupidworld corporate tool-related names, Lloyd looking like the Deadly Duplicator, etc. Even if Parson's mind did not create Erfworld, it is clear that Parson and Erfworld found each other through a Parson-centric version of the anthropic principle, and that shouldn't be ignored when trying to simulate what the Titans have built.

I haven't looked at the Erfworld simulation game threads, but perhaps instead of using a table of caster type probabilities, such a game should look up random biographical pages on sites like Wikipedia, the IMDB, and Allmusic.com and apply a mapping of profession/genre/etc. to caster type. (Allmusic.com in particular has "mood" keywords that can map to personalities that can be matched up to caster type stereotypes.) That won't give the same probabilities as Rob's brain, but it might capture the spirit better.
You're muddling two aspects which may be (and in my opinion are) very different things. Rob is telling us a story. And a story-teller does not necessarily have to obey all the "rules" of the world he operates in. So just because Rob chooses certain casters for plot and humor reasons doesn't necessarily mean that's how Erfworld actually works normally.
Of course if this is the case, then we have basically no idea what determines caster popping...which is something I'm fine with accepting.
0beron wrote:
You're muddling two aspects which may be (and in my opinion are) very different things. Rob is telling us a story. And a story-teller does not necessarily have to obey all the "rules" of the world he operates in. So just because Rob chooses certain casters for plot and humor reasons doesn't necessarily mean that's how Erfworld actually works normally.
Of course if this is the case, then we have basically no idea what determines caster popping...which is something I'm fine with accepting.


I suppose one could imagine a "normal Erfworld", devoid of Stupidworld references, where someone like Genghis Khan, or a Starship Troopers brain bug, might have been summoned rather than Parson. But that world is the one we don't know anything about.

In role-playing terms, each caster is popped with both crunch (class, specials, stats) and fluff (name, face, clothing, personality). The rules of Erfworld include natural signamancy tying together the fluff and the crunch. The summoning of Parson, under the conditions specified by Stanley, tells us something about Erfworld fluff, which tells us something about Erfworld crunch.
Brother Orwell being a lookamancer: you nailed it. Having it be "large Monk Orwell" is priceless.