Book 2 - Text Updates 059

Book 2 - Text Updates 059

It wasn‘t like he‘d imagined. The heat baked him from every direction. Burning embers and sparks occasionally spun through the room. But the smoke wasn‘t that bad. There must have been a draft coming up from the lower dungeon levels. For now, he could breathe.

Parson knew about as much about fire as he remembered from fire safety month in elementary school, and the occasional Weather Channel show about firefighters. He knew that fire burned upwards, and you should stay low. It needed oxygen and could, like, flashover or something. Whatever that was, it was bad. That was about it.

And who knew if any of that was even true in Erfworld, which had its own fire physics? Units caught in an inferno took damage randomly and could take a few specific actions like fleeing, fighting, and casting. There were damage penalties when moving, fighting was done at a penalty, etc. Some of it didn‘t make a lot of sense with the actual physics of combustion.

So he sat on the floor, planting his ass in the empty portal, and touched his bracer. The Warlord Antium and the last four Decrypted troops were beating the flames with cloaks and rugs at the other end of the room. That had seemed pointless at first, but then he remembered something about how units taking action to fight the fire could effectively transfer their actions to a unit they were protecting.

So...he‘d better do something.

For the last few minutes, he‘d kinda been raging out and panicking, he realized. But Charlie‘s request for a calculation had the weird effect of numbing him up and focusing his mind on this one trivial thing. It wasn‘t quite the same as getting an order, but he was contractually obligated to carry out Charlie‘s calculation unless it would hurt his side, and he couldn‘t make a good enough case to refuse it.

Plus, whatever Charlie‘s game was–trying to railroad him into using this spell–Parson needed to know this, too. Could he cast this spell? (Or any spell?) A way out was a way out, and going home beat dying. Maybe there was even a way back to Erfworld if he did...

The bracer hummed, and inside the little glass window he saw his own name in blue light:

[Parson Gotti, Warlord (Chief) (Level 3)]

Huh. Really? Three? He hadn‘t felt anything at all. For a moment, he felt weirdly proud of himself for leveling. Then he blinked at the thing and subvocalized, “Hypothetical: me as a caster.”

The words changed:

{[Parson Gotti, Caster (unspecified) (unspecified)]}

There was a shout and a rumble from the other side of the room. A significant section of wall and floor began sliding down and away, churning up a shower of sparks. Parson gripped the edge of the portal until the collapse settled. He squinted. Antium had two soldiers over there now, not four.

Numbly, he looked back down and subvocalized, “Odds of: successfully casting the Carnymancy spell I‘m touching.” He reached over and held Jojo‘s scroll, which he had set upon the floor next to him after pulling it out of his belt.

The window showed a long decimal number, then blinked and showed a short one instead. Then it ran through a series of digits that changed every split second. Then it went blank. Then it read:

specify conditions

“What? Here and now,” said Parson.

specify target


Another number flashed by, too quickly to read. Then the display read 0.0

Parson looked into the display. “Izzat my odds, or are you just surprised at the question?” he said out loud.

But he knew that the bracer had just given zero probability of successfully casting the spell. Either Charlie was wrong, or he‘d been toying with his prey. Although...neither thing seemed very Charlie-ish. He looked down at the lonely zero-point-zero.

Okay what now? Maybe he had phrased it wrong.

“Odds of: me as a warlord, as I am, casting this Carnymancy spell, right here and now.”

Again, a number flashed quickly, but changed to: 0.0

“Odds of: me casting any spell at all.”

multiple parameters unspecified

Parson breathed heavily through his nose, and could feel the burn of smoke in it. The partial collapse had changed the air currents. It was now getting worse by the second in here.

“True/false: a non-zero chance of me successfully casting any spell exists.”


“So I am a caster of some kind. Or something,” he muttered. He had explored the possibility of casting spells before, and always failed. But he‘d never thought to put the question to the bracer this way. “True/false: conditions exist that would give me a non-zero chance of successfully casting the Carnymancy spell.”


Way out restored, then. But no clue how. “True/false: I could create conditions here and now that would give me non-zero odds of casting the Carnymancy spell.”

T, read the display.

Then, suddenly: F

“What the hell?” Parson shouted to the air. “Charlie, are you screwing with this thing, too?”

When he looked up, he saw that Antium was walking up to him. The man‘s face was sooty, and both his hands looked burned. Behind him, one of the last two soldiers was on the floor with his hair on fire, yelling. The other was beating him with a cloak.

“Chief, I think we have done all that we can,” said Antium.

Parson looked up at him. There were flames right there in the ceiling now, in bits where the plaster had fallen. The crackling sound was surreal, all around his head, like the sound you hear when you roll in a pile of dead leaves. That ceiling was going to come down on them any second. God, if Sizemore could just get here somehow, he could shore that up. And fix everything else.

“I don‘t think I have, yet,” he said.

With a grunt, he rose to his feet. He spoke aloud to the bracer now. “Odds of: me successfully casting a Dirtamancy spell to put out the fire.”

The window showed a number. It had a decimal and six or seven zeroes after it, but it was a number.

Parson clapped his hands and made a hocus-pocus gesture. How the hell would you cast a spell, anyway? He had certainly tried before, but never with any indication of success.

“Put out the fire!” he shouted. He stomped his foot for emphasis. Nothing.

Nah, he needed some word or phrase from his world that was associated with putting out fires. That seemed to be how it worked.

“Alka-Seltzer! Pepto-Bismol! Gaviscon!” He felt nothing. “We Didn‘t Start The Fire!”

He looked around, starting to realize he was a little dizzy from smoke and whatever else he was breathing. Somewhere on another floor high above, there was a rumbling crash.

“No, I guess we did,” he said.

“It‘s been an honor to fight beside you, Chief Parson,” said Antium.

“Don‘t start that shit,” said Parson. “I‘m not done here. I‘m not.” He looked around, spotting the scroll on the floor. He bent over and snatched it up.

“Odds of me casting this spell!” he shouted at the bracer.

The same number as before flashed, then changed to: 0.0 He almost saw what it was this time.


Number, then 0.0. It was a long one. Hard to see the first digits. He looked at Antium, who was standing close. The other two soldiers were a few feet behind him, stepping on embers as they fell to the floor. The one whose hair had caught fire was black and burnt from the shoulders up, but he kept stomping.

“I think this thing is lying to me,” said Parson to the perplexed-looking warlord.

“Again,” he commanded the bracer. And again, a long number showed, then 0.0. There was another collapsing sound, very close this time, maybe from the next room over. That first number after the decimal was not a 0. It might have been an 8...

“Run this same calculation ten times in a row. Go.”

The blue numbers in the bracer began blinking. The 0.0 was a dimmer blue as it blinked on and off, but the other number was superimposed over it: .980104773

A 98% chance of casting success.

He looked up at Antium. There was a lot more smoke in the room now, and Parson‘s eyes were stinging. The bracer was lying. It was telling him he didn‘t have a chance. Why? So he wouldn‘t try to cast Charlie‘s spell...

“Jojo said it‘s free will versus Fate,” he said. “But I‘m really just getting railroaded by two different GMs here. I dunno wha– Huhg!” He broke into a coughing fit that left him bent over. Tears from his watering eyes ran down both cheeks. God damn, it was hot in here. Felt like the smoke was literally burning his lungs.

“Ah...fuggit!” he gasped, barely regaining control of his breathing.

He unbound and unrolled the scroll, holding it up in front of him. It shimmered brightly. His fingertips tingled. There were words on the parchment, a poetic stanza. But he couldn‘t read them at first. He was seeing something else.

No, not seeing. More like...detecting, or knowing. There wasn‘t a word for this sense, but some little compartment in his mind opened up, and what was in there was as rich in information as vision or hearing. He understood some of the things behind the things he could see.

Of course this was a spell. Of course it was. And it was built like...a key that would unlock the spell that had brought him here. He could see what it was. It was a spell to break a spell and snap it back. It would...fling him home. And he knew how to cast it.

The floor creaked, and listed slightly. He could read the poem on it now. Funny...

Yeah, it was time now. Time to go home.

He spoke, with a new understanding of how to intone the words of a spell. It was as different from plain speech as singing, but in a magical way.

“Roses are–”

The burning plaster hit his arms, just soon enough to warn him, just the barest moment before the flaming wooden beam came down on his helmet and flattened him to the floor. The magic sense–and every other sense–left Parson Gotti‘s mind.

Comic - Book 2 – Text Updates 059

Recent posts... (See full thread)
Judging by the new page, it was Fate, since the beam made a "MANOS" sound effect when it fell (referencing Manos: The Hand of Fate.)
Kreistor wrote:

Okay, I'm rude. Is that your rationalization for other people doing bad things to me the way the word "arrogance" does for most?

Just... Just stop it, you're embarrassing yourself at this point. Almost everyone here agrees that you are overly-aggressive, that you make false conclusions and ignores peoples valid arguments and that your assumption that you are the victim is not only wrong, it is belittling the people that you attack frequently.
Much love,
I just thought of something...

Maybe Parson isn't a Caster. But he's something else, and the portals can't figure out if they're supposed to destroy him. He's not a caster -- but he's not NOT a caster either.

I think he's just a person. He can do anything he sets his mind to, anything he works hard enough at, tries to figure out, and practices. He can cast spells, and he can learn to fight, and he can learn rules of strategy. No other units in Erfworld have total freedom to diversify. They're all forced to specialize. Parson can be a great leader without it being represented as a "Leadership bonus." I also think he can cast spells without "being a Caster."

He breaks rules. He's a human being with a few stats slapped on, as opposed to the Erfworld units, who are collections of stats with a personality slapped on.
Aquillion wrote:
Judging by the new page, it was Fate, since the beam made a "MANOS" sound effect when it fell
That is a subtle joke, not actual evidence! It's an enormous leap from that sound effect to Active Fate.

name lips wrote:
I think he's just a person. He can do anything he sets his mind to, anything he works hard enough at, tries to figure out, and practices.
I've been thinking the same thing since we learned that Parson actually can cast spells. Parson is the strangest sort of caster that we've seen. Since Wanda popped we know that casters pop knowing just how to cast their type of spells, but Parson is a caster who never popped and therefore doesn't know any spells at all. It seems clear that he could learn spells just like any caster learns spells outside of his specialty, by using a caster as a teacher.
Subtle? It was as subtle as the rant in Plan 9 from Outer Space.

It's a direct statement from the author that _fate did this_. Now, it doesn't mean fate is conscious or anything else, but it says that _that was fate_.

If it was McFate - that was just how things were going to work out, nothing else to it - then all the buildup around predictamancy would be terrible storytelling. Rob is not a terrible storyteller.
drachefly wrote:
Subtle? It was as subtle as the rant in Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Not everyone knows about Manos: The Hands of Fate. It's not really a popular movie. Unsubtle would be more like using "FATE" as the sound effect.

drachefly wrote:
It's a direct statement from the author that _fate did this_.
No, the direct statement is "Manos," and you can take that to mean what you like, but don't mistake your interpretation for the actual words of the author. I wish we had a real direct statement about what Fate does or does not do.

drachefly wrote:
If it was McFate - that was just how things were going to work out, nothing else to it - then all the buildup around predictamancy would be terrible storytelling.
What makes you say that? So Predictamancy just knows how things are going to work out and Dirtamancy just moves dirt around. Does that make Dirtamancy also terrible storytelling? To me Predictamancy seems more than important enough just for being able to do what we've seen, without having to imagine invisible hands of Fate doing stuff.
Manos. What ELSE could it mean? It may not be a popular movie, but it is notorious, and all you need to know is the title.

This reminds me of the people who say Princess Celestia isn't a goddess.
drachefly wrote:
Manos. What ELSE could it mean? It may not be a popular movie, but it is notorious, and all you need to know is the title.

This reminds me of the people who say Princess Celestia isn't a goddess.

I figured it just meant if was a giant hand slamming into it as really good Shockmancy. Never heard of Manos:The Hand of Fate. I could assume that because Hand of Fate is a common phrase, and Manos is spanish for hand maybe, but in reality I was thinking of Isaac slamming people with giant Hands of pewpew.

Also Princess Celestia is obviously not a goddess. Epic level princess wizard.
I'm not sure if there's actually a rule against it here, but it's bad form to resurrect old threads.

No one cares about a conversation from several months ago. If they did, it would still be going on.
cheeseaholic wrote:
Well he still might not be a caster. It could by some kind of Carnamancy trick that lets him cast. Temporary casting ability on the scroll....

I'm really sorry to resurrect an old thread, but can I just point this out and say that I'm really, really impressed that someone predicted this a year and a half before we got proof that it was true? It didn't even come from the discussion. This dude just made it up on the spot and it's literally all he said in his post! Like I'm not sure if this was a big theory in the rest of the thread or in later reaction threads, but I'm really impressed. Had anyone even considered this in the forums until this guy popped out of the lurk like a magical plot fairy that delivers hollow points to other forumites' theories?