Fumo the Free - Part 2

Ants in the plants

Fumo the Free - Part 2

He’d never seen snow—he never would see snow—but pieces of chalky white bark accumulated around the jungle tree’s roots like fresh-fallen snow.

 

As Fumo got better with the cutlass, the bark began scaling off in longer, thicker strips. The stuff was spongy and porous, like fresh-baked bread.

 

He would never taste bread, either.

 

On his downswing, the world went...not white, but a negative black. He lost his senses to an all-consuming light and a deadening hiss in his ears. Then the pain resolved itself to a mere fireplace-poker burn on the side of his neck. He shuddered his shoulders, but did not try to slap away the ant. Ants.

 

His blade, he could see, had skipped off the trunk and taken another piece of palm leaf from a tattered bush. There was no “getting better” at this. Not at tree-hacking, or at anything else. He’d had his chance. Two chances, he admitted.

 

He’d popped with ten move. It took a full move’s worth of scouting to confirm that all six hexes surrounding him were also dense jungle, each with a terrain penalty of four to enter. There were no roads and no trails to be seen at the boundaries, no lights or fires visible through the underbrush, no hints of smoke or flyers in the sky, and nothing in the animal sounds to indicate one neighboring hex or another as favorable for hunting and forage.

 

It wasn’t a complicated choice, really...just one simple roll of one simple die, for one simple level 1 warlord in the wilderness.

 

Fumo had sat on a log for a millionturn or so, contemplating the decision. For the better part of his whole life, in fact, he just sat and smoked. Time seemed undemanding of him, unconcerned that he was wasting it. It marked its own passage with a brief rainshower about every twenty-five minutes, but otherwise, he might have had forever to make up his mind. What did the world care? Was he in someone’s battlespace? Couldn’t he simply sit here forever, like one more oddly shaped mushroom on a mossy log? He could get used to the rain...

 

But his smokes were definitely being consumed. And in some indeterminate way, he knew this meant he was being consumed as well.

 

After he had burned through one full box of twenty, he held the other pack in his hand and stared at the label. “SAIL ’EM” it read. There was a design above the letters that he only now recognized as the sails of a ship, where the little apostrophe was a flag, flying from the...back side of a ship, whatever the word for that was. The paper tab was imprinted with an anchor.

 

 

Why? Why a nautical emblem on his smokes? Why was he wearing a naval officer’s jacket and wielding a basket-hilted cutlass? Why the sodden captain’s hat?

 

He was no seafaring unit. He knew what the sea was, what a ship was, but he would never see those things, either.

 

Rather than peel the anchor seal and begin to burn away the modest ration of life he had left, it suddenly seemed urgent that he be anywhere other than sitting on this log. He’d just have to pick one of his hunches, and slash his way forward.

 

Well, that’s what he had done.

 

He’d tromped forth into two more hexes of deep jungle, both of which were surrounded on all sides by hexes of deep jungle. This one had the ants. Only this one. And now his move was zero.

 

The little anchor was torn now. He’d already smoked another two sticks. A third, unlit one dangled from his lips, as he tried to pile up the flakes of pale blond bark into something resembling an ignitable campfire. The soil here was made of black and leathery leaves, all slick with rainwater and crawling with even blacker ants.

 

With no move, there were no more big decisions remaining to smoke on. No more ever, probably. His only war was with the ants, but smoke might be the answer there.

 

Fumo didn’t know what kind of ants they were—he hadn’t popped with any woodsy-type specials, either—but he was vaguely certain that the way to deal with an insect hazard was with smoke. The ants certainly did not like it when he blew ciggy smoke at them. With a fire, and then maybe a whole circle of burning or smoldering wood, he might be able to create a place in this hex where the ants would not march.

 

Or...maybe he’d inferno the whole hex. That was probably not possible in a rainforest, but if it happened, it happened.

 

They stung him twice more before he was happy enough with the bark pile to thumb-flick his ciggy to life. Kneeling there, he took a deep drag on it.

 

“Whatever you are,” he said, with a thin and humorless smile, “you’re fire ants now.” He stuck the lit end into the shallow cup of bark-dust at the center of his construction. “Boom. Roasted.”

 

---

 

That tree. That...

 

He’d now tested the bark from five other kinds of tree in this hex, and all of them managed to at least smolder. One of them had tufts of fiber that went puffy when you pulled the bark away from the trunk. This loose fiber lit up just like (he imagined) fireworks.

 

Only the bark of that one tree he’d spent an hour hacking away at—the bread tree or whatever it was—wouldn’t light at all.

 

“That Tree” now played a part in Fumo’s final battle plan, though. He had it surrounded with a ring of the fiber-works bark. Inhaling his second-to-last smoke down to a dogend, he flicked the butt into the ring and scampered up the side of “That (Fireproof) Tree.”

 

He kept his attention on where he was placing his hands, and did not look down. There weren’t too many ants on That Tree, but covering one over with your palm would earn you the extraordinary pain of a simultaneous bite/sting combination.

 

A sudden light on the underside of the jungle canopy above him and the heat on his damp woolen dungarees was all he needed to know the thing had caught. He had ignition.

 

Now he only needed a safe perch, to watch the world burn.

 

Fumo believed he had learned the lesson about testing his plans. He’d practiced this climb twice, just to be sure he could reach his chosen seat: a hollow at the crotch of a major limb, a decent height from the ground.

 

That sitting spot was only a single handhold above him now. One more pull. He reached up with extra care and grabbed it to heave himself up.

 

As a result of the extra care, Fumo did not notice the frantic scramble of ants all streaming out of the hollow to flee from an emerging wisp of smoke, until many of them were using his face for a fire escape.

 

---

 

“Wot?”

“Wutchoo on about, Bootsie?”

“Y’did scream, mate. Like a little...mousey or sumfin’.”

 

The elves laughed. They laughed at everything, funny or not. Especially not.

 

Fumo shook his head. “I was sure I didn’t.” He had a clear memory of the trunk of That Tree, including its barkless bottom part, rushing by his face as he fell to the ground, fell into the rising flames of his fire circle. In that memory, his lips were tightly shut. His only (crazy) thought at the time was to keep the ants from running down his gullet and stinging him from the inside.

 

“Nah, ‘Yeeeeee! Yeeee!’ dat’s how y’went,” said Gobber. ‘Yeeeee, splat!”

 

And the punk elves cackled again.

 

They were weird ones (if Fumo could possibly judge anything about the world as usual or unusual), wearing torn blue and black raiment, with incomprehensible war paint on their skin and silvery pins and rivets stuck in their bodies and clothing. Their pigmented, spiked hair made their whole heads look like colorful weapons.

 

“If you say so,” shrugged Fumo.

 

He looked away, into the blackness of the nighttime jungle. The chitters and creets of a billion night bugs filled in the visual blank with an endless high-pitched scream, kind of like the one the elf-chief was accusing him of.

 

The only lights out there were the dozens of pinpoint glowing embers, which filled his every breath with a sappy-smelling perfume.

 

The insects he cared about—the ones he’d gone to war against, and lost—were no longer around. Because of the punks, and the fragrant smoke they produced.

 

By only the light of the fading ciggy in his mouth, Gobber held up the empty box of Sail’ems.  “Y’get two packs a turn, yeh? You sure?”

 

“That’s what I popped with.”

 

The elf-chief nodded at the green-haired one called “Chucks,” who took it as an order. Like a coin flip, Chucks thumb-flicked the tiny white gem that he was holding.

 

Between the darkness and the swelling of his stings, Fumo missed the catch. While the elves laughed, he gingerly rooted around the soil. But he found the little opal immediately, and nothing bit him.

 

“We gotcher for one turn, nen,” said Gobber, “but we wannem boaf.”


Recent posts... (See full thread)
The word 'fumigation' for getting rid of pesky insects has not yet been referenced, I think.


tomaO2 wrote:
I have to say, 10 move for a freaking level 1 infantry unit is a lot higher than we had been led to believe. Jack, a high level caster, was listed as having 8 move back in book 1, and Ansom's fast reaction force, that he used to great effect during the Unaroyal campaign, had an 18 move minimum. That group was mainly mounts and fliers.

I still think 8 is a better base move for a warlord, especially when it was suggested in the previous update that leveling increases move.

Thecommander236 wrote:
Jack is also a squishy-as-fuck caster though.
Mr. Strong Man carny may have a higher move rate because he's "stronger" which, again, I think a hidden "endurance/strength/speed" Stat may determine "Move/Attack/Movement Speed" stats. Jack is clearly not the peak of fitness.

There's a lot of variables that can't really be determined. Parson speculated in Book 1 that he's the only one who gets tired while moving around in a hex, but Janis got winded and sweaty while sprinting through the magic Kingdom in Book 3 which implies Move (a knowable state) and movement speed/exhaustion level (unknowable ones) both exist separately and in some form that may or may not be related to the each other.


Parson, Janis and Benjamin Franchise, the only units I know of who showed signs at fatigue for movement within a hex, all share Signamancy of being less fit. Fatigue in Erfworld may simply be a Signamancy effect, with no stats of other consequences attached to it.

StragaSevera wrote:
Quote:
Having [Move] start at 10 just seems too high.

Maybe it is his "not-special". Maybe there is a chance that you get an official special, like Flying or Seafaring - and if you don't get them, then your stats can be a bit higher than base. His not-special may be something like "+2 move".


As for similar units having different Move stats: I expect that units, upon popping and levelling, get stat improvements and/or specials up to a certain value. For instance (example comes from Age of Wonders, an old game with mechanics that are quite similar to Erfworld):

All hero units (commanders, basically) start with:
* 10 hits
* 10 move
* 2 attack
* 2 defense
* 1 power (like attack power, but for non-martial attacks and spells)
* 1 resistance (like defense, but for non-martial attacks and spells)

And 25 points, that can be used to 'buy':
* +1 hit, attack, defense, power or reistance (5 points each)
* +1 move (2 points each)
* a special that provides a minor bonus (5 points each) such as: negate terrain type penalities for one terrain, resistance to a certain special attack type like poison
* a special that provides a moderate bonus (10 points each) such as: archery (gain ranged attack ability) or round attack (hit any unit adjacent to you)
* a special that provides a major bonus (15 points each) such as: spellcasting or the ability to 'dominate' (Turn) other units

With such a system, Abner Washboard the Carnymancer might have a higher move or attack than average, whereas Jack might have higher resistance, for instance.
Bandaid wrote:
Thecommander236 wrote:
I'm going to assume only warlords and caster pop free. I don't think poker, stabbers, and archers have purses.


Only commanders have purses. Perhaps common infantry can pop together with a commander. If common infantry actually has a chance to pop without a commander ...
They would have even lower chances of survival then the average warlord/caster. They have to make contact with someone willing to pay their upkeep on their first turn or disband.

Wouldn't non-commander units auto-attack any sided units they encounter? More or less like most ferals. So I assume their chance of survival is zero. Turning pikers or even archers when you can just recruit a full stack in one turn's time seems fairly useless. Well, unless you really need those extra troops out there in the field.

If they can pop randomly, I assume there will always be a number of them, with no commander. A single stabber or archer just does not pose enough of a threat to make a useful encounter.
Umbrathor wrote:
Bandaid wrote:
Thecommander236 wrote:
I'm going to assume only warlords and caster pop free. I don't think poker, stabbers, and archers have purses.


Only commanders have purses. Perhaps common infantry can pop together with a commander. If common infantry actually has a chance to pop without a commander ...
They would have even lower chances of survival then the average warlord/caster. They have to make contact with someone willing to pay their upkeep on their first turn or disband.

Wouldn't non-commander units auto-attack any sided units they encounter? More or less like most ferals. So I assume their chance of survival is zero. Turning pikers or even archers when you can just recruit a full stack in one turn's time seems fairly useless. Well, unless you really need those extra troops out there in the field.

If they can pop randomly, I assume there will always be a number of them, with no commander. A single stabber or archer just does not pose enough of a threat to make a useful encounter.


Maybe if a socut pops or something? They can choose not to attack. There's probably other unit types besides commanders and scouts that don't need to auto-engage.
Thecommander236 wrote:
Umbrathor wrote:
Wouldn't non-commander units auto-attack any sided units they encounter?

Maybe if a scout pops or something? They can choose not to attack. There's probably other unit types besides commanders and scouts that don't need to auto-engage.

Aww… just think of the existential crisis: "Ooooh, oooh! I scouted something really neat! Boss, boss! ...oh, wait."

I guess that's basically why the See Bird exists. Better move, too. Reminds me of the Giant Eagles you could summon in Age of Wonders. Excellent scouts. Huge amount of move, flying, so they could reach any terrain, and only ranged or flying units (both fairly rare) could attack them.

Same as in Erfworld...
FlaminCows wrote:
Another idea is a remote-triggered fire trap. This one does use Thinkamancy, as Thinkamancers can transmit a visible, audible illusion to a unit outside their hex (e.g.). Build a device that is triggered by a specific sound (using the resonant frequency of glass, for example). Position a thinkamancer at a westward hex, and when you know someone is camping in an eastward hex at night (perhaps with a Lookamancer or Findamancer), transmit a thinkagram that triggers the trap, shattering a vessel of volatile fluid, starting a fire. If the hex is flammable enough, you could burn it to an inferno at night, croaking everyone inside. The benefit of this kind of trigger (instead of a regular, step-on-it trigger) is that there is no way for the units in the hex to escape the fire at night.

Thinkamancy still works at night, so I see no reason why temporal discrepancies need to be exploited to do this.

Thecommander236 wrote:
You're thinking in Earth logic. That's your mistake. Like Sizemore says, if you didn't observe a nearing he's sun when you entered it, it can literally jump backwards in the sky. Each he's time is moving at its own speed, but if you contact someone in that hex, suddenly they will be at the same point in time, moving at the same speed. Everyone experiences seconds, minutes, and hours, but it's relative. You can experience 6 minutes of time scouting while I spent 6 hours sitting on my ass at the palace. If I looked at you (assuming this was our universe), I would see moving very slowly. On Erfworld, if looked at you, suddenly I would see you moving at the same pace as me dispite the fact that 6 minutes passed for you and 6 hours for me. Just me looking at you synced
up the flow of time if not how much time each of us experienced.

What Parson found insane is that if you walk into that hex where six minutes passed while in your hex 6 hours passed, six hours didn't pass in the six minute hex. The time of the hex doesn't skip the next 5 hours and 56 minutes to catch up with your hex. You essentially step back into time as the sun rewinds (from your perspective) 5 hours and 56 minutes back along it's path which the people in the hex wouldn't see happening since the sun was where it was at the time you entered the hex, 6 minutes further along in the sky.

So what happens if, rather than entering the 6-minute hex, you converse with someone in it across the hex boundary?
KeiranHalcyon31 wrote:
[/quote
Thinkamancy still works at night, so I see no reason why temporal discrepancies need to be exploited to do this.

Thecommander236 wrote:
You're thinking in Earth logic. That's your mistake. Like Sizemore says, if you didn't observe a nearing he's sun when you entered it, it can literally jump backwards in the sky. Each he's time is moving at its own speed, but if you contact someone in that hex, suddenly they will be at the same point in time, moving at the same speed. Everyone experiences seconds, minutes, and hours, but it's relative. You can experience 6 minutes of time scouting while I spent 6 hours sitting on my ass at the palace. If I looked at you (assuming this was our universe), I would see moving very slowly. On Erfworld, if looked at you, suddenly I would see you moving at the same pace as me dispite the fact that 6 minutes passed for you and 6 hours for me. Just me looking at you synced
up the flow of time if not how much time each of us experienced.

What Parson found insane is that if you walk into that hex where six minutes passed while in your hex 6 hours passed, six hours didn't pass in the six minute hex. The time of the hex doesn't skip the next 5 hours and 56 minutes to catch up with your hex. You essentially step back into time as the sun rewinds (from your perspective) 5 hours and 56 minutes back along it's path which the people in the hex wouldn't see happening since the sun was where it was at the time you entered the hex, 6 minutes further along in the sky.

So what happens if, rather than entering the 6-minute hex, you converse with someone in it across the hex boundary?
Then time and the sun will jump around so every hex has 12 hours of daylight, but the order of events is preserved. But it would look no weirder than skyping someone 2000 miles east or west of you in our own stupid world.
spriteless wrote:
KeiranHalcyon31 wrote:
Thecommander236 wrote:
[..]What Parson found insane is that if you walk into [a] hex where six minutes passed while in your hex 6 hours passed, six hours didn't pass in the six minute hex. The time of the hex doesn't skip the next 5 hours and 56 minutes to catch up with your hex. You essentially step back into time as the sun rewinds (from your perspective) 5 hours and 56 minutes back along it's path which the people in the hex wouldn't see happening since the sun was where it was at the time you entered the hex, 6 minutes further along in the sky.

So what happens if, rather than entering the 6-minute hex, you converse with someone in it across the hex boundary?
Then time and the sun will jump around so every hex has 12 hours of daylight, but the order of events is preserved.

Scouting and the sun seem to have a connection. I remember pages where a party would wake up in a hex were the sun rose before their start of turn, indicating that a side whose turn starts before their own side would be entering that battlespace.

Maybe if you enter a hex that another side has passed through, the sun would be further ahead than it would if the hex had not been 'used' yet. Though I think it would have been mentioned in the comic if that had been the case.
Here is the best explanation we currently have -

https://archives.erfworld.com/Book%202/8

Pertinent quotes -

Quote:
"Um, because... Gah," Parson struggled. "Okay, because the sun. Is the sun in a different position in the sky for me when I call you than it is for you?"

"Of course," said Sizemore. "This never happens in your world?"


And

Quote:
Yes, yes it was. It meant the whole universe worked differently here, and he wasn't prepared to let it go at that. He leaned forward even farther and put his elbows on his knees. "Aha! What if I come back?"

Sizemore looked at him blankly. Maggie watched them both, a dreamy grin on her face.

"It's four hours later to me, but maybe four minutes to you."

"Yes?" said Sizemore.

Could he really not see the problem? "Where is the sun?" asked Parson in exasperation.

Sizemore squinted at him. "In that hex? Four minutes further along in the sky."

"It jumps backwards when I enter the hex?!"

"Of course! To you," said Sizemore. "Because you traveled and were observed from that hex. If you weren't observed, you would find the sun in the same position as the previous hex.
"
I wonder if the weird Sun mechanic can be exploited somehow. Like if mirrors and lenses can be built, have someone walk around the hex for a while, then walk back into the city hex having gathered 6 hours of light to feed into their death ray.
labster wrote:
I wonder if the weird Sun mechanic can be exploited somehow. Like if mirrors and lenses can be built, have someone walk around the hex for a while, then walk back into the city hex having gathered 6 hours of light to feed into their death ray.

If you had a light-gathering device, why bother with all that rigmarole? Just set up a bunch to charge your tower.
I suspect any attempt to beam light across a hex into a light-collector would count as "being observed" and cancel out any time shenanigans.

On a related note, I wonder if there's any way to cancel out an enemy scout's time shenanigans without directly observing them.