Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 007

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 007

Wanda did not return to the city of Goodminton until she was eighteen turns old. She rode her familiar sawhorse, which she now called Funnyface, surrounded by a stack of uncroaked stabbers and one ghastly-looking knight on his last turn before complete decay. She returned through her capital‘s gates as a Level 3 Croakamancer (still Novice class).

Her traveling companions were among several hundred units she had animated so far, including four enemy warlords. She had been wounded in action once by crossbow. She had slain a copycat with her own staff, and landed the croaking blow on an enemy roastbeast. She had helped her side take back the outposts of Frankburg and Hamfurter.

And in the middle of all of it, she had been called home from the action by her Chief Predictamancer. She was less than enthused to be here.

In her quarters, Wanda changed out of her muddy blue robes into an interesting bit of raiment she had found in Goodfinger. It was a suit in Haffaton‘s livery of black with white trim, but it also sported stylized decorations of little pink flowers. On the exterior, it was satin, but the bulk of it was made of a thick, quilted cotton. It was cut for a feminine build like her own, and its design was almost mockingly martial, with ornamental braids and epaulets.

Wanda had no idea who might have owned this outfit previously. Tommy did not recognize it, nor had they felled any female commanders at Goodfinger. Upon claiming it, she‘d imposed Goodminton‘s livery on it by natural Dollamancy, reluctantly changing the black to slate blue. But on a whim, she kept just one of the pink flowers, offset in a patch of white. She and the Wanda in the mirror liked these garments very much.

She wanted to see her father, but it had been Delphie who‘d ordered her home. So she put on a pair of fleece-lined leather slippers and padded her way down the dungeon hallway.

Clay Dice answered her knock, looking as if he had just awakened from a nap. His baggy linen tunic was stained with jam from breakfast. “Oh hey.” He held the door open only to the width of his head. He looked at her outfit, head to foot. “She‘s still in the Magic Kingdom.”

There was something instantly infuriating about being told that. Wanda didn‘t like Delphie or Clay very much. Fresh from the action as she was, it seemed to Wanda that the other two casters should both be doing more for their side. The fact that Delphie wasn‘t here and Clay didn‘t care seemed...typical. But she knew better than to show her annoyance. “Does she know I have arrived?”

“Yeah,” said Clay. “She‘s a Predictamancer.” He drew in a long sniff, long enough for it to turn into a snort in the back of his throat. He swallowed. “She‘ll be back any minute.”

The plan not to display her annoyance was not quite surviving contact with the enemy. “Predictamancers don‘t know everything, Clay.”

He met her eyes, but with his chin down and face hanging, looking beaten. “No. Just everything that matters.”

She cleared her throat. “So should I wait? Or is there time for me to see the Overlord?”

Clay looked as if he were nearing the maximum number of sentences he‘d counted on having to speak today. “She‘ll be back any minute,” he said, recycling one of them.

She considered turning around and just marching through the portal. Wanda had seen the Magic Kingdom only briefly, on the night before she rode out with the army. It looked busy and confusing, and she didn‘t trust her ability to find Delphie there. “Very well, I‘ll wait,” she said. When that didn‘t elicit a response immediately, she added, “Here.”

“Yeah, all right,” said Clay. He opened the door and left it open, walking into the room. He kept his back to her as she entered. At the far end of the room, he settled onto the wooden stool at his workbench.

There was a small fire in the fireplace, and Wanda sat on a cushion on the hearth. For a minute or so, there was only the pop of the wood. But she had been wanting to understand something, and this seemed like an opportunity to ask.

“Clay.”

“Mm.” He was fiddling with a figurine, like the ones used to mark the forces on the map table. Perhaps he fabricated those. He did seem to be painting it with a little brush. In retrospect, the jam stains were probably purple paint.

“Delphie tells you what to cast, doesn‘t she? What battles to affect. What units to...what, bless?”

“Yeah,” he said, not looking up. “I just say ‘boost.‘”

“And you can alter the outcome of a battle, by casting ahead of time. You boost up a unit‘s luck by a lot, or a whole side‘s luck by a little?”

Clay sniffed again. “Yeah, kind of. Or jinx the enemy. Battles are hard, though. Sides are harder. Units are pretty easy. I boost our warlords all the time.”

“Did you boost me?”

Clay turned his head and glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. “Not yet,” he said with a crooked smile. “She doesn‘t want me to.”

Wanda narrowed her eyes. “Hm? Why not?”

The Luckamancer turned away and dipped his tiny paintbrush. “Says you don‘t need it. You‘re the one unit on this whole side that doesn‘t need any of my help. S‘what she says about you. You got some kinda Fate crap on you.”

Out on the campaign trail, Wanda had talked to her brother about Delphie, trying to understand the woman‘s role in the command structure. It was clear that Tommy and her father both held Delphie in something like awe, and left her free to do nearly anything she thought was the “right thing” in terms of casting. Goodminton‘s battle plans simply dealt with warlords and conventional units. Tommy expected that the casters at home would do their best to support the army‘s efforts as they saw fit, and left it at that.

Because of these conversations, Wanda had almost come to the conclusion that Delphie was playing a bullying and bluffing game. The Chief and the Overlord acted as if all things magical were too mysterious for them to ever understand, and that must be exactly how Delphie wanted it. She wanted to be seen as wise and mysterious and not to be questioned. Her lover was cowed, her superiors were deferential, and she had tried to put Wanda in the same position with this nonsense about “Fate” and “a role to play.”

In fact, she planned to tell her father that. While she was here, she wanted to tell him that Delphie knew they would pop a caster. That she lied. It was something he ought to know.

But if the “Fate” talk was only so much manipulative nonsense, would she have told Clay the same thing? Why? He didn‘t care.

“Clay,” said Wanda after a minute or so, “If you can do these kinds of things for us, why wasn‘t Goodminton winning when I popped?”

He surprised her by slamming the figurine to the wooden workbench and whirling around on his stool. “How ‘bout ‘cause we‘re fightin‘ five other sides? Huh? How good you think I‘m s‘posed to be? Do you even know what Luckamancy does?”

Wanda blinked. “Three other sides.”

“Yeah, right.”

“There are three enemy sides in the battlespace,” insisted Wanda.

Clay only shook his head at her. “Plus our ‘allies.‘ If you can call ‘em that.”

“They‘re working against us?”

“I heard you got ambushed a few times,” said Clay, with a bit of a sneer.

“Yes, by Haffaton,” said Wanda. They‘d faced three surprise strikes, counting the early attack on their siege. The third of these was when she had taken the crossbow bolt to her leg. Funnyface had taken two more for her.

“Heard they knew just where to hit us. Heard they might‘ve been going after you, personally.”

“Casters in the field are always considered targets,” said Wanda. “Are you saying our allies are passing intelligence to Haffaton?”

Clay turned around and faced his workbench. “Yeah they‘d have to be. C‘mere,” he said, gesturing. Wanda stood up and walked to his bench.

“I‘munna show you how Luckamancy works. These are dice. That‘s my name and that‘s my game.” He held up a pile of oddly regular shapes.

Wanda would have said that all dice were square, but she could see that these worked the same, only for different numbers of faces. She nodded. He put the pile of dice on the bench, and picked up two triangular ones, in brown and gold. “Two level 1 infantry. They fight.” He rolled the dice, and indicated the numbers at the bottom of each. “Four. Three. Gold guy wins. You got it?”

Wanda nodded again. Clay was saying that he had just simulated a battle, in its simplest form. Some part of her instinctively studied the brown die, assessing the difficulty of uncroaking the fallen unit. Silly.

“Okay, now let‘s boost the brown guy,” said Clay. He picked it up and pinched it, and Wanda could see a tiny spark of juice at his fingertips. “He‘ll roll high now, for a little while.”

Clay picked up the dice and rolled them. Both came up 4. “Heh. Gold guy gets to live one more round. That happens. But...” He rolled them again. The brown die was a 4, the gold one showed 2. “And he‘s croaked now.”

Clay turned on his stool, pointing to the dice. “That‘s the world, Wanda. That‘s all the combat in the world. You fight, I fight, it goes down like that.”

Something about it struck Wanda as terribly wrong. “The Titans...play dice? And we must do what the dice say? We flourish or perish at random?”

Clay was shaking his head. “No, no...I think it‘s the opposite.” He smiled, as someone who was speaking on a topic of great familiarity. “The dice describe the world. They don‘t determine it. A Mathamancer can tell you how many dice will be rolled, how many points‘ll be lost when you‘re wounded. He‘ll tell you what‘ll probably happen, and possibly happen, and what can‘t happen. But your choices still make it happen.”

“Choices? How are there any choices, if you can...do that?” She indicated the 4 on the brown die.

“That guy,” said Clay, pointing at the same thing, “made excellent choices. He parried that first 4. Then he counterstruck! Slice!”

Wanda shook her head. “He didn‘t choose it at all. You boosted him to a 4.”

“I boosted his roll to a 4! I changed his odds, chose a way to describe the outcome of his choices. You see?” He picked up the dice and showed them to her. “The dice are not the guy, okay? In this case the guy is imaginary, and the dice are representing him. But this is real life,” he said, making a circle in the air with his index finger, “and you are not the dice. Okay? In real life, you are real, but the dice are imaginary. The dice that describe your choices. Mathamancy describes those, and Luckamancy affects those.”

Wanda only teetered on the edge of understanding this concept. But the suddenly talkative Clay swept onward. “We were losing,” he said, grabbing a varied handful of dice, “because if we‘re the brown guy, this is what we‘re up against.” He rolled everything. The lone enchanted die came up a 4 again, but the rest of the dice came up 1, 2, 4, a pair of 5s, an 8, and even a 16 on the die that was almost round.

“You‘re good. You‘re boosted,” said Clay.“By Fate I guess...but you‘re not invincible.”

He got a look of concern, as if he were only connecting the concepts to reality now himself. “And you‘re only, you know...one die. You should be careful.”

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
CNagy wrote:
2. any overwhelming defeat
However, I'll grant you on technical terms that the military rout, which one would assume is the more applicable, does contain an element of retreat. The word itself, however, does not have to include a disorganized retreat.[/quote]

http://www.erfworld.com/book-1-archive/?px=%2F112.jpg

Quote:
I'minUrDirtz: It's turning into a rout down here."


Okay, you're right. I got the context wrong. He would have said, "They're routing," if my definition was correct. Turning into a rout indicates the level of victory, not the state of the enemy. Thank you for forcing me to look that up, and apologies for getting it wrong the first time. I wasn't being fastidious.

So, absolutely, the phrase does not indicate anyone is fleeing against the Rules.
Surely it's "they are being routed" rather than "they are routing"? It's something that is done to you not something you do yourself.
And after 18 turns, Wanda is the same level as Luckamancer Clay. Even with battle I think that may be pretty quick levelling for a caster. The fact that she was popped with the nobility special is why.

So now I am wondering... if a caster were to pop when a side was trying to produce an heir would that mean that a caster could then become an heir and also perhaps a ruler? Or could a caster be designated heir via schmuckers? So far the only possible example has been Charlie and we still don't know what the story is with him. We know that he either is, or has full control over, the ruler for his side and may or may not be a caster.

I would imagine that a caster ruled side wouldn't last very long in Erfworld unless they had some really good advisers and warlords but those probably topple from within as the Warlords may view the caster as a weak ruler.

Hmm.. now I'm wondering if any ruler in Erfworld has ever abdicated the throne or if that is even possible without croaking. I like to think that it is an as yet unexplained process like spinning off a new side.
joosy wrote:
And after 18 turns, Wanda is the same level as Luckamancer Clay. Even with battle I think that may be pretty quick levelling for a caster. The fact that she was popped with the nobility special is why.

You're leaping to a conclusion. Bogroll leveled twice on a single kill, and he wasn't noble. The first few levels come extremely easily.
MarbitChow wrote:
joosy wrote:
And after 18 turns, Wanda is the same level as Luckamancer Clay. Even with battle I think that may be pretty quick levelling for a caster. The fact that she was popped with the nobility special is why.

You're leaping to a conclusion. Bogroll leveled twice on a single kill, and he wasn't noble. The first few levels come extremely easily.


Probably true. However, Wanda is only 18 turns old while Dice has been around for what I assume is a significant more amount of time and now they are the same level. Of course this could just be an example of the difference between levelling via combat vs levelling via training/casting non-offensive spells.
Or not leveling by being a lazy, slovenly caster who sits around a gaming table all day playing with dice . . .
This was an extremely interesting and informative update. Unfortunately, it was also apparently a bit confusing; how I interpreted it seems to be the exact opposite of how some other people interpreted it.

I think one of the key phrases to take note of is:
Quote:
The dice describe the world. They don’t determine it.

It's not a perfect phrase, since technically something like a miss is determining the world, but it does communicate the fact that the dice aren't the ultimate deciding factor. The character determines the action, while the dice only describe the result of their choice.

If that's not clear, think of all the characters in Erfworld as D&D characters. Not just any D&D characters, either, but player D&D characters. (If you're not familiar with D&D, think of pretty much any protagonist from a video game with RPG elements, but with more freedom.) What they try to do is completely up to them: they can try to attack, block, parry, cast a spell, run away, shout, dance, whatever. They're probably only limited by their imaginations.

Note the word "try", however, as that's where the dice (and Luckamancy) come in: how well they do with their chosen action. When a unit tries to attack and rolls a one, he or she misses. A four would indicate a direct hit. Even in the "how well" aspect, the dice aren't the sole determining factor. An ordinary infantry, for instance, isn't going to be able to cast a spell no matter how hard she tries. The rules of Erfworld prevent her from doing it, much in the same way the rules of physics prevent you from flying by simply flapping your arms up and down quickly. Similarly, present-Wanda is such a proficient croakamancer, she probably wouldn't fail to uncroak a single body even on a really bad "roll".


Clay's explanation was pretty eye opening for me - I didn't realize how much free will units actually have. If they have control over their individual actions, then they could have control over their actions as a whole. Loyalty as explained by Parson gets in the way of that, but Clay's explanation of dice also seems applicable to loyalty as well: the loyalty doesn't determine the person, the person determines the loyalty. Units don't follow orders because of some number, but because of the same reasons people choose to follow orders in real life: it's the law, it's their job, it fits their ideals, if they don't they'll be killed and tortured in the afterlife, etc.. Loyalty just represents their likely-hood to be motivated by such things.

If a unit's actions aren't determined by dice or loyalty, then that would leave only a few things that seem to take away their control, such as the fact that they auto-engage when unlead. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a logical explanation for that that didn't include the loss of free will, too. It could be (another) case of mistaking cause and effect.
joosy wrote:
And after 18 turns, Wanda is the same level as Luckamancer Clay. Even with battle I think that may be pretty quick levelling for a caster. The fact that she was popped with the nobility special is why.


Wanda has nobility? Where was that confirmed? Last I checked, sides ruled by an overlord cannot pop royal or noble units.

DarknessD wrote:
Note the word "try", however, as that's where the dice (and Luckamancy) come in: how well they do with their chosen action. When a unit tries to attack and rolls a one, he or she misses. A four would indicate a direct hit.


I think you are putting the cart before the horse. When a unit attacks and misses, a Luckamancer rationalizes that as a bad roll of the die, or a poorly dealt hand (or whatever gambling/chance construct they project their art onto). A one would not indicate a miss, but rather describe a miss. A four would describe a hit.

This part is somewhat hypothetical. Luckamancy is on the Erf axis of magic, which presumably deals with the reality of Erf. The Luckamancer when plying his trade projects the result he wants in terms that he readily understands; games of chance. Thus, any number of reality factors that might need changing get boiled down to high or low, favorable or unfavorable. But Luckamancy isn't on the Fate axis, so it really can't skew the result past a certain point (Clay's one die vs. many). It's all a bit confusing, because Clay intimated that Wanda was Fate-protected, but that she was also only one unit. Perhaps he doesn't understand what is on her (as it is outside his specialty). It is also possible that this is the reason that Wanda has her current-day viewpoint regarding Fate: that you only make the journey easier or harder, that the destination is the same. Perhaps she fights fate in an attempt to preserve her Side, and witnesses firsthand that while Fate trumps Luckamancy in terms of survival, that doesn't mean the path will be at all pleasant. If I'm not making any sense, it is because I am tired.
joosy wrote:
MarbitChow wrote:
joosy wrote:
And after 18 turns, Wanda is the same level as Luckamancer Clay. Even with battle I think that may be pretty quick levelling for a caster. The fact that she was popped with the nobility special is why.

You're leaping to a conclusion. Bogroll leveled twice on a single kill, and he wasn't noble. The first few levels come extremely easily.


Probably true. However, Wanda is only 18 turns old while Dice has been around for what I assume is a significant more amount of time and now they are the same level. Of course this could just be an example of the difference between levelling via combat vs levelling via training/casting non-offensive spells.


Not probably. Word of the Titans states that leveling takes an exponentially long time, so the early levels come fast and hard.

Further, as a Luckamancer whose effects persist across Turns, Clay will have spent little time in combat and rarely leveled. Wanda is right there on the front line commanding her troops. She has lots of opportunity, and Clay has none.

No, there is absolutely no evidence that Wanda is noble just because she has gained levels faster than... nothing. we have no idea how long it took Clay to gain his levels. There is no relative measure, so we don't know if Wanda was fast or slow.
BLANDCorporatio wrote:

Gamewise, dice represent outcomes of actions; example, hit (or parry) rolls. Initiative or spot checks are also of this mold. "Loading" these dice is functionally similar to providing a bonus/malus from some exterior factor. Very rarely if ever does any game represent decisions by dice rolls.


I interpreseted the decisions that Clay was talking about, was all the little factors that go into the intuitve thinking behind single actions. When a person tries to hit someone with a sword there is a lot of little intutive decision made. Is it a high blow , or a low blow. How fast and how hard? Do you make a sudden attack, or do you wait until the opponents has a hole in its defense? What sort of feint would this opponent fall for? How well a unit decides these factors makes the difference between a good attack, and a bad attack. I interpreted Clay as saying these factors are represented in games by a dice roll. It would be up to the players and game masters to give an inworld description as to why an attack was good or bad. In erfworld, it is reversed. How good those little intuitve decisions the unit makes for an attack, will be translated into a dice roll. (From there I hypothesize that this translated dice roll, along with other envirnomental factors, is used by the numbers axis to determine an outcome.) A Luckamancer causes units to make better inutive decisions. It wouldn't allow units to attack better then there normal maxmim, it just makes it more likely they attack with their maximum.

In all I liked this update. I could never understand before why Luckamany was int he erf axis, instead of the numbers. This explains it, as well as some other fundamental principles behind erfworld. I also liked how it gave a more scientific explaination behind luck.