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View Full Version : Ansom is underappreciated.



FalconPunch
2009-03-18, 08:39 PM
He's fairly elitist and arrogant but a competent leader and obviously cares about his men/means well. I understand that gamers generally despise the stereotypical alpha male, but that's pretty much what they've turned Parson into. The guy dishes out commands with comparable confidence to Ansom, only he's fat.

Trying not to sound presumptuous here, but in any war situation you need someone who can command and inspire on both sides and that's not really a niche anyone on the Jetstone side can fill (Vinny and Jillian maybe? Neither of them really strikes me as the type to take command of an army).

Besides, this is an RPG and there's always a douchey-Paladin sort of character who leads the charge, but I don't think that Ansom is even as shallow as that - case in point being his bumbling attempts to woo Jillian (who doesn't love him because he's a natural leader, but because he's just a good guy). Who would've thought that Lancelot had girl problems? Ansom was the funniest character for me, if only because he's self-absorbed in a likeable sort of way, if that makes any sense (some of my friends are like this).

I'm guessing the reason why people would dislike Ansom is his attitude that he's a better leader or warrior than his soldiers because of his royal blood. That may be an unfair assumption to make on his part, but the fact remains that he is still better at both. So while he may hold some prejudices, he's still justified in his confidence in his abilities. That makes his sin much more forgivable, IMO.


Ansom deserves a better ending than the one he's apparently recieved. It'd be nice to see him brought back, and perhaps taught some humility, but the survivors of the coalition need some sort of rally point that's not a blood-crazed barbarian or a sarcastic vampire. Plus, it'll be cliche if the proud prince gets turned into a mindless undead, fighting against the kingdom he loves (Guild Wars?)



What are your thoughts?

nooblade
2009-03-18, 08:56 PM
I thought Miko was underappreciated. No, she certainly wasn't a douche. Everyone on the forums were happy when she died without any redemption. :smallfrown:

On the other hand, Ansom was the type of character that you don't expect this to happen to. He had an epic character, even his own blurb on the characters page, but has been treated like a peasant in recent events (like the woodsy elves he sent to eliminate some dwagons). I bet his character will receive more service when we move away from Parson's perspective, should be interesting to see just how much.

BRC
2009-03-18, 09:00 PM
First of all, use spoiler tags, or at least white text for your spoilers. Writing *Spoilers* does nothing.
Secondly, Ansom is underappreciated because of the situation he was placed in. Ansom is pretty much the perfect warlord provided everybody plays by the rules and keeps their thinking firmly in the box. He's a skilled fighter. He's an inspiring leader. He's capable of building and maintaining large coalitions, and he's got decent tactical sense. To use a metaphor, Ansom is an unbeatable swordsman.
But of course, if one wants to kill an unbeatable swordsman, one shoots him in the back of the head when he's not looking. Parson's strength is his ability to think outside of the box, to do the unexpected. For example, using hit-and-run tactics against the siege with the Dwagons. Convention dictates that when you start a fight, you fight until you win, are wiped out, or are forced to retreat. Retreating when you're not forced too was a new idea, one Ansom wasn't ready for.

By that mark, Ansom's death fits perfectly with that theme. He walks right into a trap because he's relying on a set of assumptions. The assumption that Parson would give up when the battle was so obviously lost. The assumption that when a warlord offers to surrender, they intend to do so. Yes, Pride is his weakness, because it makes him less suspicious. He is too proud to suspect he may be outsmarted by others. But I never got the impression that Fans really disliked Ansom. Any dislike is probably because he survives Parsons schemes via the occasional Deus Ex Machina (okay, Charlie ex Machina). I don't think Rob and Jamie need to "redeem" Ansom in any way.

FalconPunch
2009-03-18, 09:58 PM
First of all, use spoiler tags, or at least white text for your spoilers. Writing *Spoilers* does nothing.
Secondly, Ansom is underappreciated because of the situation he was placed in. Ansom is pretty much the perfect warlord provided everybody plays by the rules and keeps their thinking firmly in the box. He's a skilled fighter. He's an inspiring leader. He's capable of building and maintaining large coalitions, and he's got decent tactical sense. To use a metaphor, Ansom is an unbeatable swordsman.
But of course, if one wants to kill an unbeatable swordsman, one shoots him in the back of the head when he's not looking. Parson's strength is his ability to think outside of the box, to do the unexpected. For example, using hit-and-run tactics against the siege with the Dwagons. Convention dictates that when you start a fight, you fight until you win, are wiped out, or are forced to retreat. Retreating when you're not forced too was a new idea, one Ansom wasn't ready for.

By that mark, Ansom's death fits perfectly with that theme. He walks right into a trap because he's relying on a set of assumptions. The assumption that Parson would give up when the battle was so obviously lost. The assumption that when a warlord offers to surrender, they intend to do so. Yes, Pride is his weakness, because it makes him less suspicious. He is too proud to suspect he may be outsmarted by others. But I never got the impression that Fans really disliked Ansom. Any dislike is probably because he survives Parsons schemes via the occasional Deus Ex Machina (okay, Charlie ex Machina). I don't think Rob and Jamie need to "redeem" Ansom in any way.

I got the tags fixed, this is my first post here so I wasn't sure how to properly mark them.

I didn't say that I felt that Ansom was disliked by the community (I can't tell yet) but just that he now seems underused as a character, and his death kind of felt like a back door more than anything. I don't think that Parson's parlor trick was really that brilliant of a tactical move, he assassinated a weakened commander by spending the life of one of his friends. I understand that all is fair in love and war, but I wouldn't say Ansom was too proud or even outsmarted, I don't think anyone would've expected a defeated commander to try such a stupid, dangerous and suicidal desperation move if they didn't know the extent of Sizemore's powers (who seems very rigged at this point).

Perhaps some of this stems from the fact that while I love the rest of the comic, I feel Parson is a weak character, from the second he steps into Erfworld and brazenly calls the first person he meets a tool. His actions make no sense - he's received nothing but threats and abuse from Stanley, someone he's just met, but fights zealously for his cause, even defending his kingdom after Stanley leaves everyone to burn. Since the coalition only wants to see Stanley dead, there's no reason why Parson shouldn't surrender the city and save thousands of lives (he's said himself that he feels guilty over the death he's caused, and acknowledges that the side he's fighting for could be considered evil). Is it a question of personal honor? He owes no debt of honor to Stanley's kingdom - he's an outsider, and has only made tentative friendships (including one with Bogroll, whom he sacrifices in a suicide attack...for Stanley. Wtf?).

That's why his hit on Ansom makes no sense to me, and why I don't consider Ansom as outsmarted because of his pride. Because no normal human being would follow the course of action Parson has so far, and as a result no intelligent battlefield commander would predict such a ruse. All Parson is doing at this point is spiting the enemy army and giving them an excuse to torture him if they catch him - he has nothing to gain here and no reason to keep fighting.

P.S I also disagree that Ansom is an unbeatable swordsman, he has plenty of Achilles heels in the form of Jillian, a lack of mage allies and represents the one faction without an attuned Arkentool.

Trem
2009-03-18, 10:11 PM
Duty. Parson fights because he has too, the spell that summoned him compels him to keep going. On the last strip he COULDN'T order the casters away because there was still something left to try, he simply has to keep on fighting.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-03-18, 10:11 PM
His actions make no sense - he's received nothing but threats and abuse for Stanley, someone he's just met, but fights zealously for his cause, even defending his kingdom after Stanley leaves everyone to burn.

This is because of the Summoning Spell.

First of all, it binds Parson to serve Stanley. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0017.html) That means following his orders (even regarding laughing at his jokes (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0023.html)). But, by being Stanley's Unit, Parson is also under the influence of Natural Thinkamancy (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0094.html). Duty, in particular, forces Parson to keep fighting even when the battle is, by the numbers, (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0147.html) hopeless.

FalconPunch
2009-03-18, 10:20 PM
This is because of the Summoning Spell.

First of all, it binds Parson to serve Stanley. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0017.html) That means following his orders (even regarding laughing at his jokes (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0023.html)). But, by being Stanley's Unit, Parson is also under the influence of Natural Thinkamancy (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0094.html). Duty, in particular, forces Parson to keep fighting even when the battle is, by the numbers, (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0147.html) hopeless.

Yeah I definitely missed that. That changes my view on things, I was under the impression Parson just had some secret death wish or something.

But it'd still be great to see Ansom back, there needs to be a knight in shining armor, even if he's (excusably) not one step ahead of everyone else. And Sizemore's still rigged...:smallmad:

Zictor
2009-03-18, 11:30 PM
Yeah I definitely missed that. That changes my view on things, I was under the impression Parson just had some secret death wish or something.

But it'd still be great to see Ansom back, there needs to be a knight in shining armor, even if he's (excusably) not one step ahead of everyone else. And Sizemore's still rigged...:smallmad:


Also, you have to take into account one thing: Ansom is so arrogant to the point that he doesn't see that he's facing a formidable foe who always surprises him.


If Jillian hadn't found the Dwagons by accident, or if he hadn't re-hired Charlie by the last minute, he would have probably lost, or, at the very least, he would still be trying to breach the wall, and fighting the Dwagons.

FalconPunch
2009-03-19, 02:46 AM
Also, you have to take into account one thing: Ansom is so arrogant to the point that he doesn't see that he's facing a formidable foe who always surprises him.


If Jillian hadn't found the Dwagons by accident, or if he hadn't re-hired Charlie by the last minute, he would have probably lost, or, at the very least, he would still be trying to breach the wall, and fighting the Dwagons.

I think he just wasn't expecting a completely beaten Stanley to have a Joan of Arc up his sleeve. Parson is obviously a better strategist but Ansom isn't incompetent, he still saved the day with his dance-fighting, and besides the Arkenpliers and sheer strength in numbers he's still missing the key advantages of familiar terrain and competent mages. Seems like a pretty even fight.

I know I'm being pretty dogged in my defense but I just found the coalition side a lot more appealing and I'm definitely rooting for them. The combination of greatness of the soul, personal courage and some very ugly human flaws in a characters like Ansom and Jillian, who you would normally expect to fulfill good guy stereotypes was pleasantly refreshing. The Gobwin Knob on the other hand swings between Parson, who doesn't really have any negative qualities besides bad luck and Stanley whose pettiness and insecurities I can't stand. Not to mention Wanda, whom I find unsympathetic because of her tendency towards sadism.

nooblade
2009-03-19, 10:31 AM
If you take a good look at hamstard.com (there's Lord Hamster!), I think you can get a more clear understanding of what this author is like, and from there, deduce the way things are going. :smallsmile:

Stanley's a jerk, plain and simple, but "knowing what you want" is a quality I've come to see high value in recently, for myself and when dealing with others, maybe even on par with "greatness of soul". :smalltongue:

Of course, he probably has a similar fate in store, which is a shame for both.

FoolishOwl
2009-03-19, 07:01 PM
Ansom isn't an interesting character, and I don't believe he is intended to be.

What I keep coming back to is that Erfworld appears just like a turn-based strategy game, but with intelligent beings trapped within their roles in the game. Some of them -- most notably Sizemore, but other characters as well -- perceive that they are in some sort of trap, and they're trying to find some way out of it. Others don't.

Ansom doesn't. He's little more than his stats. He knows he's got "Good Prince" floating over his head, and he assumes that Good Always Wins and that therefore, he should win. (It's not at all clear that Good=good, or Evil=good, or any such thing. Appearances are deceiving.)

In effect, Ansom is like a moderate-strength AI player in a computerized turn-based strategy game. He's technically competent at macromanagement and micromanagement, but his play is completely unimaginative. Alternately, he's like the sort of human player who refuses to team up paladins with demons, because it doesn't seem appropriate, even when it has been demonstrated that paladin/demon teams are an unbeatable combination.

In any case, Ansom is incapable, either through obstinacy or lack of imagination, of the sort of lateral thinking at which Parson is a master.

And part of this may be that Ansom cannot realize that he's inside a game, which Parson cannot ignore.

Saint Nil
2009-03-19, 07:31 PM
Personally, I found ansoms death rather poetic. His great overconfidence, his knowledge that his blood made him superior, he was the "perfect leader". And what happens?

He falls for a trap.

A trap he could never see coming because he knew that his superior blood would win in the end and when it appeared too, he was too overconfident to accept any other outcome.
*assinates A Rainy Knight*
His own last words prove the point perfectly. The great mighty prince goes to receive the surrender of the inferior enemy leader. Only to be killed by a Twoll!

Ansom too me is what is wrong with most paladin players-some foolish belief that they are inhertly superior to others. That annoys me to no end.:smallannoyed:

I loved that Ansom was not killed in some great tragic way, but died to an "inferior" who was willing to die out of love(and not in the creepy way) of his leader.

Ansom's death was just perfect in my opinion.

Aquillion
2009-03-20, 02:41 AM
Was. Was underappreciated.

And the thing is, all the things you're saying about him... they're true, but they didn't make him any less annoying. Really, they made him more annoying.

He had more flaws than you admitted, too. He had trouble seeing anything that didn't match his world-view. He refused to accept that Stanley's side could do anything intelligent. He completely misunderstood Jillian. In the end, this is the flaw that killed him, of course, because he believed that it was right and proper for Parson to surrender to him, so he accepted it without question when he shouldn't have.


I'm guessing the reason why people would dislike Ansom is his attitude that he's a better leader or warrior than his soldiers because of his royal blood. That may be an unfair assumption to make on his part, but the fact remains that he is still better at both. So while he may hold some prejudices, he's still justified in his confidence in his abilities. That makes his sin much more forgivable, IMO.That's not why people dislike him, I think (at least, it's not why I dislike him). It's because of two things. First, he believes that this superiority entitles him to lead everyone else -- because he's smart and strong and all that, everyone should obey him.

Second, he refuses to accept or recognize that anyone who is not a royal could be fit to lead. We have seen that Stanley, while he might not have been very good as an overlord, is still quite effective in many situations -- he seems to have genuinely won Jack's loyalty somehow, for instance. Parson is clearly at least Ansom's match in terms of intelligence (a fact Ansom tacitly admitted when he rushed the inner castle rather than give Parson more time to plan.) Moral fitness is a bit tougher, but honestly, claiming 'moral fitness' as an innate inherited property is pretty loathsome -- intelligence, strength, even certain leadership qualities, I could grant, but moral fitness? That's bull.

Ansom isn't irritating because he thinks he's smart and strong and fit to lead; we haven't seen enough to be certain, but sure, he's probably right about all that. He's irritating because he doesn't think anyone else is fit to lead -- and in that, he's certainly wrong.

He refused to recognize Parson as someone who was potentially his equal. He saw Parson as an opponent, sure, but deep down he didn't take Parson seriously -- not as a person or a rival. He didn't believe that Parson could seriously be committed to a goal or a cause; he saw Parson as just a disobedient unit who refused to recognize the way the world worked and who had to be brought into line. That's the only explanation for why Ansom would believe that Parson would surrender so readily after their brief talk earlier.

That was his central flaw.

the_tick_rules
2009-03-22, 04:42 PM
Ansom is probably on the "right" side, but not for the right reasons.

Tensu
2009-03-22, 04:58 PM
Ansom is also a hypocrite. If Stanley's actions are blasphemous, why does he align himself with Charlie? Ansom isn't the player who refuses to align paladins with demons, he's the player who does so knowing full well it's wrong. Ansom was so busy trying to destroy Stanley he made someone in the same position as Stanley a bigger threat than Stanley could ever be. If Ansom was truly on the right side, he wouldn't compromise his principles so grossly. And I'd say that hypocrisy played a part in his death: He probably trusted Charlie's Archons to warn him if something was up.

I'm not so sure Stanley is the bad guy. He may not be the smart guy and he may be willing to use uncroaked and such, but is the Arkenhammer really any less of a symbol of right to rule than royal blood? I wouldn't be surprised if he was bad, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was good or neutral either.

BRC
2009-03-22, 05:17 PM
Ansom is also a hypocrite. If Stanley's actions are blasphemous, why does he align himself with Charlie? Ansom isn't the player who refuses to align paladins with demons, he's the player who does so knowing full well it's wrong. Ansom was so busy trying to destroy Stanley he made someone in the same position as Stanley a bigger threat than Stanley could ever be. If Ansom was truly on the right side, he wouldn't compromise his principles so grossly. And I'd say that hypocrisy played a part in his death: He probably trusted Charlie's Archons to warn him if something was up.

I'm not so sure Stanley is the bad guy. He may not be the smart guy and he may be willing to use uncroaked and such, but is the Arkenhammer really any less of a symbol of right to rule than royal blood? I wouldn't be surprised if he was bad, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was good or neutral either.
Why was allying with Charlie evil? And Charlie is not in the same position as Stanley was when he started his quest for the arken tools. We don't actually know Charlies position. We know Stanley had large armies, a well fortified capital, and eleven cities. We also know Stanley was activly going around attacking people.

All we know Charlie has is one city, and he seems content to simply sell his troops to whomever is willing to pay. Also, Charlie, unlike Stanley, may not have gotten to his position by killing a royal who had been nothing but kind to him. To Ansom, Charlie is merely a powerful mercenary, Stanley is an upstart commoner who needs to be put in his place. You have this impression that Charlie is some evil overlord ready to pounce on and lay waste to the world as soon as he thinks he has a chance.

Besides, so far, Ansom made two deals with Charlie. First, he paid him some money, which is hardley "Making him more dangerous than Stanley could ever be", and second he paid him MORE money, and promised to give Charlie Parson and Parson's Bracer. The second deal was made under duress, and Ansom probably dosn't think of Parson as anything more than an annoyingly cunning Warlord that Stanley got from somewhere. Capable of a few tricks sure, but hardly an unstoppable superweapon.

Tensu
2009-03-22, 08:09 PM
What makes you think I think Charlie is an evil overlord? I think he may well be the most justified faction in this whole mess. To be honest I suspect Charlie is the good guy.

Ansom is a hypocrite because Charlie isn't a royal, and therefore should be unworthy to have his own city and troops. If royal blood was truly essential for leadership, then Charlie shouldn't have any right to do anything he's done throughout this entire comic. Yet other than marginal outrage at Charlie's updated demands Ansom has shown little problem with him. Ansom is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

BRC
2009-03-22, 08:57 PM
What makes you think I think Charlie is an evil overlord? I think he may well be the most justified faction in this whole mess. To be honest I suspect Charlie is the good guy.

Ansom is a hypocrite because Charlie isn't a royal, and therefore should be unworthy to have his own city and troops. If royal blood was truly essential for leadership, then Charlie shouldn't have any right to do anything he's done throughout this entire comic. Yet other than marginal outrage at Charlie's updated demands Ansom has shown little problem with him. Ansom is talking out of both sides of his mouth.
Well, the situation is less extreme in terms of Charlie. Charlie is not trying to activly conquer, and he didn't come to power via regicide. And while Ansom may be very proud of his royal blood, he's smart enough to know he can't alienate every overlord in the world with his beliefs.

Also, he may not always be as rabidly royalist as you would think. Stanley was attacking pretty much everybody, which was reason to take him out. It was Vinny who suspected that Ansom's motivation may be that Stanley isn't a royal. Ansom's Royalist outburst was a direct result of Parson pushing that very button, and was probably an exageration of Ansom's actual feelings. I get the impression that Ansom believes that Royals are more fit to rule, than he believes commoners should not be allowed to rule. We don't even know if Charlescomm had a royal family, maybe it's always been ruled by Overlords.

Tensu
2009-03-22, 09:57 PM
Still, Charlie has indulged in his fair share of evil* geniusery, yet Ansom has yet to call foul. Based on Maggie's descriptions he sounds more than a little infamous for his fast ones. I guess it's possible Ansom said some things he didn't really mean in anger. I doubt anyone here hasn't done the same thing at least once (I know I have:smallfrown:), but Charlie sure seems like just as much a threat to the royal order than Stanley, maybe even more so, because while Stanley is out losing troops on risky gambits, Charlie is hidden away in his untouchable citadel cranking out Archons. While similar could be said for Stanley and his Dwagons, the fact that he's incurring loses where as Charlie hardly loses anyone means that one day Charlie may well be able to just overpower all the other sides. So I don't buy the "not as threatening" thing, but then, I probably think much more long-term than Ansom does.

*evil geniusery is not really all that evil, just really ingenious

BRC
2009-03-22, 10:12 PM
So it sounds like Ansom is more Nieve than he is hypocritical.

JenBurdoo
2009-03-22, 10:24 PM
What I find most interesting about Erfworld is that it treats the pixels and AIs as real people. The catch is that those pixels and AIs are still controlled by the computer. And I can't blame Ansom for being what the computer (the Titans?) made him.

On the other hand, there's an interesting (and possibly OT) element of fate vs. free-will here. Arrogance can be justified -- when the arrogant character can back up his belief that he is the greatest. And in computer game terms, Ansom is absolutely right. He has higher stats, special rules and exceptions, all sorts of things. When we play a game similar to Erfworld, we don't think of our Overlords and Warlords are people, we think of them as upgrades that really DO give our armies a very real boost. So what ARE those warlords and overlords supposed to think? Perhaps this is part of Stanley's problem, too -- he's controlled by the computer (or the unseen player in the sky).

But he wasn't "popped" that way. And ingame, npcs don't always react to how other npcs got their jobs, but Ansom seems, unlike others, to have noticed and taken offense. Would you expect, if you promoted a mere pikeman in your game army to warlord and then overlord, that another player or NPC empire would declare war on yours simply because you didn't just buy a new one with your schmuckers?

Just my 2 cents. :smallcool:

Tensu
2009-03-23, 02:16 AM
So it sounds like Ansom is more Nieve than he is hypocritical.

yeah, probably. It was just a thought.

FalconPunch
2009-03-23, 04:10 AM
Well, the situation is less extreme in terms of Charlie. Charlie is not trying to activly conquer, and he didn't come to power via regicide. And while Ansom may be very proud of his royal blood, he's smart enough to know he can't alienate every overlord in the world with his beliefs.

Also, he may not always be as rabidly royalist as you would think. Stanley was attacking pretty much everybody, which was reason to take him out. It was Vinny who suspected that Ansom's motivation may be that Stanley isn't a royal. Ansom's Royalist outburst was a direct result of Parson pushing that very button, and was probably an exageration of Ansom's actual feelings. I get the impression that Ansom believes that Royals are more fit to rule, than he believes commoners should not be allowed to rule. We don't even know if Charlescomm had a royal family, maybe it's always been ruled by Overlords.

Agreed. Ansom's pretty arrogant, and while I dislike arrogant people his particular case isn't that bad.

The guy has known nothing but power all his life and his command has never been questioned. When you have the universal support and respect of everyone you know, it's pretty easy to get carried away, especially when being harassed and pushed by a sworn enemy.

If anything, I don't think Ansom's immature outburst shows that he's entirely confident about his right to rule - his sulking behavior and attempts to validate his actions with Vinny indicate that he's probably insecure, in regards to his status and the fact that he's not attuned to the Arkenpliers. At least, this would explain his furious and apparently self-motivated desire to see Stanley wiped out.



That's not why people dislike him, I think (at least, it's not why I dislike him). It's because of two things. First, he believes that this superiority entitles him to lead everyone else -- because he's smart and strong and all that, everyone should obey him.


That's what leaders are. Smarter or stronger individuals who take charge of situations. Once again trying not to come across as presumptuous, but in order to be a good leader you have to believe you are entitled to the position in some way, if not you just end up tearing yourself apart inside. Ansom may have ended up spewing a volcanic rant, but everything else about him and his relationships with the characters indicate that he is a natural leader and nobody else has a problem with him ordering them around.




Second, he refuses to accept or recognize that anyone who is not a royal could be fit to lead. We have seen that Stanley, while he might not have been very good as an overlord, is still quite effective in many situations -- he seems to have genuinely won Jack's loyalty somehow, for instance. Parson is clearly at least Ansom's match in terms of intelligence (a fact Ansom tacitly admitted when he rushed the inner castle rather than give Parson more time to plan.) Moral fitness is a bit tougher, but honestly, claiming 'moral fitness' as an innate inherited property is pretty loathsome -- intelligence, strength, even certain leadership qualities, I could grant, but moral fitness? That's bull.

Ansom isn't irritating because he thinks he's smart and strong and fit to lead; we haven't seen enough to be certain, but sure, he's probably right about all that. He's irritating because he doesn't think anyone else is fit to lead -- and in that, he's certainly wrong.


When Ansom meets Jillian, he never states that he cares whether or not she was a royal. She just let her female intuition make the assumption; but e didn't know what she was before, and he still put her in command of his soldiers. As for Stanley, all Vinny does is makes a guess that Ansom could be elitist, and while Ansom's personality as answers indicate that he feels that way their differences in well as moral code would definitely contribute to his loathing. Honestly, I hate Stanley. He seems to have only come this far because of the Arkenhammer, and his personality is just repugnant to me. Saying that he's earned the loyalty of several skilled mages does not make him effective in a wartime situation - Hitler earned the loyalty of generals like Rommel (until the end of the war, anyway) and he still went and attacked Russia.

The main thing is I feel that a lot of the things that are being suggested about Ansom are based purely on speculation or reading into the text a bit too much. And they could be right - but now we'll probably never know besides flashbacks or Deus Ex.



Ansom is also a hypocrite. If Stanley's actions are blasphemous, why does he align himself with Charlie? Ansom isn't the player who refuses to align paladins with demons, he's the player who does so knowing full well it's wrong. Ansom was so busy trying to destroy Stanley he made someone in the same position as Stanley a bigger threat than Stanley could ever be. If Ansom was truly on the right side, he wouldn't compromise his principles so grossly. And I'd say that hypocrisy played a part in his death: He probably trusted Charlie's Archons to warn him if something was up.



Are you referring to the Archons? Is it explicitly stated anywhere that they are demons? I thought Archons referred to angelic beings, hence, Charlie's angels. Even if this were the case, I fail to see how employing one evil power against another is evil in itself, I'd call that cunning. I'm not sure what you mean by this, Charlie seems more neutral than evil.



What makes you think I think Charlie is an evil overlord? I think he may well be the most justified faction in this whole mess. To be honest I suspect Charlie is the good guy.

Ansom is a hypocrite because Charlie isn't a royal, and therefore should be unworthy to have his own city and troops. If royal blood was truly essential for leadership, then Charlie shouldn't have any right to do anything he's done throughout this entire comic. Yet other than marginal outrage at Charlie's updated demands Ansom has shown little problem with him. Ansom is talking out of both sides of his mouth.



Where are you getting this from that Charlie is the good guy? That may be the case, but we don't really know anything about the character besides that he charges ludicrous sums. Perhaps he wants both sides to lose?

And once again, it's never explicitly stated that Ansom is removing Stanley because of his prejudice against non-royals. Its suggested by Vinny, who is not a Thinkamancer and the matter is deflected.



In effect, Ansom is like a moderate-strength AI player in a computerized turn-based strategy game. He's technically competent at macromanagement and micromanagement, but his play is completely unimaginative. Alternately, he's like the sort of human player who refuses to team up paladins with demons, because it doesn't seem appropriate, even when it has been demonstrated that paladin/demon teams are an unbeatable combination.

In any case, Ansom is incapable, either through obstinacy or lack of imagination, of the sort of lateral thinking at which Parson is a master.



I doubt any intelligent commander would approach the situation differently, considering what Ansom knew about the situation until the final attack.

You've just beaten down a poor leader and slain Warlord after Warlord of his and he's retreated into his last castle with the intent of giving you complete hell before he croaks. You are nearly sure he has no leadership left, and you know that he is an incompetent military strategist. Do you try an imaginative, daring scheme? Or do you stick to what you know and advance everything in proper formations and try to mitigate damage?

The problem with lateral thinking in a strategy game is it's often risky. It would make sense for Parson to take risks, but for Ansom it would just open up the possibility of a disaster. Unfortunately for him, Parson really is a genius and those risks paid off, but Ansom didn't know that and had little reason to alter his strategy until his tunnel troops were defeated.

Tensu
2009-03-23, 09:10 AM
Are you referring to the Archons? Is it explicitly stated anywhere that they are demons? I thought Archons referred to angelic beings, hence, Charlie's angels. Even if this were the case, I fail to see how employing one evil power against another is evil in itself, I'd call that cunning. I'm not sure what you mean by this, Charlie seems more neutral than evil.

Wow. You've single-handedly earned both the "missing the point" award and the "paying zero attention" award in one post. I must say I'm impressed.

My point was it wa simplied that Ansom thoght Stanley evil because he wasn't a royal, but he alligened himself with Charlie, who also isn't a royal.

and how the heck could I think Archons where demonic and yet insist Charlie is the good guy in my next post, which you quoted and therefore clearly didn't miss?


Where are you getting this from that Charlie is the good guy? That may be the case, but we don't really know anything about the character besides that he charges ludicrous sums. Perhaps he wants both sides to lose?

And once again, it's never explicitly stated that Ansom is removing Stanley because of his prejudice against non-royals. Its suggested by Vinny, who is not a Thinkamancer and the matter is deflected.

Because Charlie isn't discriminating like Ansom is and he's not slaughtering people like Stanley is. He has yet to do anything truly morally reprehensible. That and his troops of choice are Archons.

Revdarian
2009-03-23, 09:53 AM
Also, Charlie, unlike Stanley, may not have gotten to his position by killing a royal who had been nothing but kind to him.

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0087.html

The way King Saline IV died wasn't a clear one, but even though Stanley was the one who seemed to gain benefit you can't just say that he did so, specially if one takes into account the effect of Duty on warlords.

All you can do is guess and keep guessing for the time being.

BRC
2009-03-23, 10:44 AM
http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0087.html

The way King Saline IV died wasn't a clear one, but even though Stanley was the one who seemed to gain benefit you can't just say that he did so, specially if one takes into account the effect of Duty on warlords.

All you can do is guess and keep guessing for the time being.
But Ansom certianly believes Stanley orchistrated Saline's death, which for the purposes of discussing Ansom's motivations, is all that matters.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-03-23, 11:07 AM
Long story short:
Ansom isn't the protagonist, nor was he intended to be. Deal with it.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-03-23, 11:14 AM
My point was it wa simplied that Ansom thoght Stanley evil because he wasn't a royal, but he alligened himself with Charlie, who also isn't a royal.
To pick nits, it's more accurate to say that Ansom hates Stanley because he's a non-royal who doesn't respect his authority. Charlie is prudent and tactful and avoids stepping on Ansom's pride unless he feels it is a worthwhile risk.

He thinks Stanley is evil because he is so obviously self-serving and malicious. Disrespecting royal authority has more to do with Ansom's assessment of Stanley's personal worth, not his moral character.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-03-23, 12:21 PM
Also, Charlie, unlike Stanley, may not have gotten to his position by killing a royal who had been nothing but kind to him.This is pure speculation. Stanley was under the full force of Duty to King Saline IV. We see in strip 147 how powerful this force is. Parson can't order three people he likes to save themselves rather than risk their lives with the trimancer link to awaken the volcano. And Wanda cites "duty" specifically, and not the summoning spell, as the cause for Parson to not be able to send them away. Sending them away would save them, but it would also give away the smallest chance at victory, and Duty will not allow this. It does not seem possible that Stanley could have overcome the restrictions of Duty and organized the overthrow of Saline. Additionally, Stanley is so horrible a strategist that it's almost unthinkable that he would be successful in such a coup, although this argument is based on how he is presented and not on what we know of the rules of the game.

To Ansom, Charlie is merely a powerful mercenary, Stanley is an upstart commoner who needs to be put in his place.But you're forgetting the strip where it is stated that Royals think of themselves as superior to commoners, and that any time a commoner side becomes powerful the Royals always bring them down. When a non-royal gets powerful, the royals like to gang up on him. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0088.html)

And once again, it's never explicitly stated that Ansom is removing Stanley because of his prejudice against non-royals. Its suggested by Vinny, who is not a Thinkamancer and the matter is deflected.Again, Stanley used to have 11 cities. This might have been enough to cross the "OMG, a commoner Overlord thinks he is good enough to rule!" threshold. "Royals, unite! To the Translyvito-mobile!" See above link for why this does not need to be explicitly stated, it's a part of the royal standard operating procedure. The RCC is just another case of royals ganging up on a non-royal who got too big for his britches in their view.

Because Charlie isn't discriminating like Ansom is and he's not slaughtering people like Stanley is. He has yet to do anything truly morally reprehensible. That and his troops of choice are Archons.I would put "Breaking an established alliance by setting an impossible price when offered a high enough price by the opponent of your ally" as a morally reprehensible act. I would also put "Agree to sit out the turn but then decide that you like schmuckers better than honesty" as a morally reprehensible act. Not that Charlie ended up lying to Parson about staying out for the turn, he did make it clear that he might help Ansom after all. But again that he was dealing with the leader of the side his allies were there to conquer. This would be called treachery by any nation at any time of war. In both cases Charlie had a moral obligation to either refuse the contact with the enemy leader (Parson, in both cases) or to milk the contact for actionable intelligence, and then to report the contact and any intelligence gathered to the leader of his alliance. The fact that he's willing to cut deals with the opponent makes him a terrible choice for an ally, and any smart leader would insist on language forbidding such treacherous actions in the magically binding contracts.

As for Ansom, I appreciate him. I appreciate Bogroll having killed him ignominiously.

Tensu
2009-03-23, 10:54 PM
I would also put "Agree to sit out the turn but then decide that you like schmuckers better than honesty" as a morally reprehensible act. Not that Charlie ended up lying to Parson about staying out for the turn, he did make it clear that he might help Ansom after all. But again that he was dealing with the leader of the side his allies were there to conquer. This would be called treachery by any nation at any time of war. In both cases Charlie had a moral obligation to either refuse the contact with the enemy leader (Parson, in both cases) or to milk the contact for actionable intelligence, and then to report the contact and any intelligence gathered to the leader of his alliance. The fact that he's willing to cut deals with the opponent makes him a terrible choice for an ally, and any smart leader would insist on language forbidding such treacherous actions in the magically binding contracts.

As for Ansom, I appreciate him. I appreciate Bogroll having killed him ignominiously.

I don't think that's being entirely fair. Charlie makes no attempts to hide the fact that he's a wild card, and both Ansom and Parson knew working with him is risky. Besides, neither Ansom nor Stanley can be called paragons of virtue (though Ansom is doing a bit better in that category) and treachery is only bad if you betray good for evil.

FalconPunch
2009-03-24, 03:49 AM
Wow. You've single-handedly earned both the "missing the point" award and the "paying zero attention" award in one post. I must say I'm impressed.

My point was it wa simplied that Ansom thoght Stanley evil because he wasn't a royal, but he alligened himself with Charlie, who also isn't a royal.

and how the heck could I think Archons where demonic and yet insist Charlie is the good guy in my next post, which you quoted and therefore clearly didn't miss?


I missed your point because it's not stated anywhere that Ansom thinks being non-royal makes you evil. I'm pretty sure he's at war with Stanley for more reasons than just the fact that he clawed his way to the top.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-03-24, 02:23 PM
I don't think that's being entirely fair. Charlie makes no attempts to hide the fact that he's a wild card, and both Ansom and Parson knew working with him is risky.I think that Charlie does indeed try to hide this, with his elaborate and magically binding contracts. It give the illusion that you know what you're getting, but just like an auto warranty you might be surprised once you try to get it honored. We don't see any of the rest of the RCC citing chapter and verse of their contracts, and I think it's safe to assume that they operate on a basis of personal honor rather than maximum profit for minimum effort.

And just because Ansom and Parson both know about Charlies penchant for playing fast and loose with his contracts/alliances doesn't mean that Charlie doing so isn't treacherous. A snake is still a snake even if you know it is venomous. And Smart Ansom would have known to insist upon unequivocal language in any contracts with Charlie. Charlies Archons sure made much out of the fact that Ansom didn't deserve a warning about the veiled twoll since he wasn't paying for "spell security", save poor Jaclyn who helped Jillian and got beaten with the "always pay for being nice" karmic stick. I mean seriously, a separate line item for what appears to be an always on free ability in the Mary Sue Archons? What part of "best effort to support the alliance" is so hard to insist upon in a contract?

I missed your point because it's not stated anywhere that Ansom thinks being non-royal makes you evil. I'm pretty sure he's at war with Stanley for more reasons than just the fact that he clawed his way to the top.He might be, but we haven't seen any evidence for that and so we do not know that in fact. What we do know in fact is that the royals always gang up on a non-royal who gets too big for their britches, see my link above for the klog where Parson lays this out for us.

SteveMB
2009-03-24, 03:05 PM
Ansom is also a hypocrite. If Stanley's actions are blasphemous, why does he align himself with Charlie?

He'd just discovered (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0034.html) that Jillian had gotten captured (again), and decided that he needed to get extra support to Webinar's group ASAP. Presumably he didn't particularly want to deal with Charlie (or else he would have gotten him on board to begin with), but circumstances made it necessary.

I'm inclined to agree with the comments earlier in the thread that Charlie was less of an affront to Ansom's worldview than Stanley because Charlie didn't go around claiming to have some superior mandate from the Titans that trumped royal status.

Oslecamo
2009-03-24, 05:54 PM
I'm inclined to agree with the comments earlier in the thread that Charlie was less of an affront to Ansom's worldview than Stanley because Charlie didn't go around claiming to have some superior mandate from the Titans that trumped royal status.

Or perhaps because Stanley just sucks at diplomacy while Charlie is a social relationships master? I doubt piker-warlord training had a lot of classes on how to don't insult royalty, and dwagons eat first and ask questions later, but Charlie's archons show a lot of sophistication and charm(both natural and magic).

It's more or like comparing a neutral barbarian to a sophisticated mastermind. The mastermind can be much more evil and dangerous than the barbarian, but still will get an easier time geting in the king's court when the barbarian doesn't know anything about etiquette and drools all over blood.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-03-25, 02:59 PM
Or perhaps because Stanley just sucks at diplomacy while Charlie is a social relationships master? I doubt piker-warlord training had a lot of classes on how to don't insult royalty, and dwagons eat first and ask questions later, but Charlie's archons show a lot of sophistication and charm(both natural and magic).I'm not sure this can be correct. Stanley can and has been overbearing in his behavior. But he was also well liked enough by Saline IV that he was, in an act which rarely happens, promoted to the status of heir. Stanley also very clearly has the loyalty of his entire caster cadre. Wanda threw him a screw rather than let him disrupt the actions of his newly acquired 350k schmucker Warlord, actions which led to the destruction of 40% of the siege engines on their way to GK. She refused to turn when Jillian asked her to, and Jillian thought that there must be a spell on her to compel this, but the archon Jacklyn made it clear that there is not. She was going to fly off with her newly formed undead air force to try to save him. Sizemore, who has been poorly treated by Stanley, seems quite angry when he asks Parson if Parson is explicitly ordering he and the other casters to retreat to the Magic Kingdom. Jack also refuses Jillians request to turn, and indeed saves the day for Stanley. If Jack was a captured caster with a low Loyalty this was his chance to turn without consequences, and indeed to be near a woman he loves.

All of this shows that despite his negative personality traits, Stanley is indeed a good leader in terms of people leadership ability, not strategic combat leadership. He attracts powerful units who then become highly loyal to him.

Charlie, on the other hand... Charlie is nice to everyone, because that matches the always happy and upbeat salesman like persona necessary to sell his services. But Stanley doesn't like him, Wanda is at the least very wary of him, and Ansom doesn't seem to care for him other than as someone who was able to provide a needed service. Don King and/or Vinny probably don't like him for the outrageous price he set on his services once the new alliance match up was supposed to take place. After all, they probably thought that the same units would cost the same price, since Charlie obviously hadn't said anything about changing the terms in between the alliance with Jetstone and the alliance with Transylvito. And finally, Parson probably doesn't like Charlie very much at this point either. He was "played" by Charlie when he bartered the battle calculations for sitting out on the attack against Stanley, he made a job offer that was pretty much "Join me and bring your artifact, or I'll pry it from your cold dead wrist", and he tacitly agreed to sit out the turn to see if Parson could survive the RCC turn, and then attacked Parson's air force and Wanda, and then Charlie's archons helped Ansom defeat the dance fighting undead via the hated DDR maneuver.

All of this shows that despite his charm, Charlie isn't very good at making friends. As for the charm of his archons, well, only Vinny might agree there, and that seemed to be very much the other way around. :smalltongue:

Oslecamo
2009-03-26, 02:30 AM
All of this shows that despite his negative personality traits, Stanley is indeed a good leader in terms of people leadership ability, not strategic combat leadership. He attracts powerful units who then become highly loyal to him.


You don't see powerfull units going to Gobwin Knob and offering their services to Stanley, you see Stanley actively seeking those units and then making them work for him.

Saline made him heir because Stanley managed to bind himself to an arkhentool, something very very rare. The other chance would be poping out a random heir, but why do it when one of your own warlords is already a leader of dwagons? Stanley had proved his competence, and Saline, as a good-willed guy, decided to take the risk of making him heir.

And as we can see in the strip where he runs away from Gobwin Knob, well, he pretty much sucks at inspiring speeches.

Stanley is great at military leadership. Once he gets a unit in his hands, he knows how to make them follow him to hell and back. But it only works with units he actually gets on his side. With people from other sides, well..."I hate them too." isn't a really good propaganda.

Manga Shoggoth
2009-03-26, 05:26 AM
Charlies Archons sure made much out of the fact that Ansom didn't deserve a warning about the veiled twoll since he wasn't paying for "spell security", save poor Jaclyn who helped Jillian and got beaten with the "always pay for being nice" karmic stick. I mean seriously, a separate line item for what appears to be an always on free ability in the Mary Sue Archons? What part of "best effort to support the alliance" is so hard to insist upon in a contract?

Not "Ansom didn't deserve a warning" but "Ansom wasn't paying for the service that would have given him a warning".

When you are contracting services it is very important to deliver exactly what the contract says:


If you (routinely) deliver less than you are contracted then this is bad for obvious reasons, like future contracts.
If you (routinely) deliver more then you either inflate expectations or give the customer grounds to demand the extra services in future without paying for it.


Note the use of the word "routinely" - there can be exceptional circumstances when extra-contractual services have to be provided (And the Archons know this: Charlies Rule #19: Charlies' rules need to be bent sometimes (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0073.html)). Jaclyn seems to have a reputation for skirting the rules more than necessary.

And "best effort to support the alliance" would not appear in a contract if Charlie had any sense at all. Contractually this means that - regardless of cost to yourself, you must do the maximum to support the alliance. (At work we were forbidden from using the term "Best Endevours" for exactly this reason).

You are also being a little too harsh on Charlie (at least as far as contracting is concerned) - He does have to look beyond the current contract, and will have long-term objectives of his own. The only really sharp act I can recall is shafting Ansom with the new contract when his back was to the wall.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-03-26, 09:24 AM
Not "Ansom didn't deserve a warning" but "Ansom wasn't paying for the service that would have given him a warning".That is exactly what I said, except I followed up say expressing disgust that Charlie would break out what appears to be an always on and free ability of his archons and attach a separate price to it.


When you are contracting services it is very important to deliver exactly what the contract says:


If you (routinely) deliver less than you are contracted then this is bad for obvious reasons, like future contracts.
If you (routinely) deliver more then you either inflate expectations or give the customer grounds to demand the extra services in future without paying for it.

Note the use of the word "routinely" - there can be exceptional circumstances when extra-contractual services have to be provided [...]I've worked for contracting companies for a great many years. At all companies and for all customers more than the contract called for was delivered. It's how business is done. You do it to build up good will, to demonstrate a willingness to get things done no matter what the fine print might say, to show capabilities which can them be contracted for at a later date, and to one-up the competition. What you do not do, ever, is stand on the letter of the contract. You were hired to get a job done, and if the lawyers put together an instrument that lets you get out of doing that you'd better pony up and get it done anyway. Unless, of course, you never want to do business with that client again. I've seen businesses where the sales staff wanted one time sales and to move on to the next client. They all failed. Every one of them. And I've seen businesses where relationship building underscored every sales opportunity. Those mostly prospered. What that has taught me is that if your sales staff has a "screw people once, then run with the money" attitude, that might be ok in the short term but it's not sustainable. But if you actually make friends of your customers, you have a much better chance of lasting. It's no guarantee, but failing to do so is a guarantee of failure.

SteveMB
2009-03-26, 09:39 AM
That is exactly what I said, except I followed up say expressing disgust that Charlie would break out what appears to be an always on and free ability of his archons and attach a separate price to it.

It could equally be described as offering a discount to customers who just need the Archons for combat power (which was Ansom's situation both when he hired them initially to help retrieve Jillian and when he accepted the amended deal to extricate himself from a zerg-rush).

Manga Shoggoth
2009-03-26, 11:55 AM
That is exactly what I said, except I followed up say expressing disgust that Charlie would break out what appears to be an always on and free ability of his archons and attach a separate price to it.

Why not? Ansom is paying for the use of a given set of services/abilities.

I have many abilities, but contractually my employer only has access to the technical ones (Although I am happy to provide sarcasm at no extra cost).

Just because it is an "always on" ability does not mean that Charlie should throw it in as a service for free.


I've worked for contracting companies for a great many years. At all companies and for all customers more than the contract called for was delivered. It's how business is done. You do it to build up good will, to demonstrate a willingness to get things done no matter what the fine print might say, to show capabilities which can them be contracted for at a later date, and to one-up the competition. What you do not do, ever, is stand on the letter of the contract. You were hired to get a job done, and if the lawyers put together an instrument that lets you get out of doing that you'd better pony up and get it done anyway. Unless, of course, you never want to do business with that client again. I've seen businesses where the sales staff wanted one time sales and to move on to the next client. They all failed. Every one of them. And I've seen businesses where relationship building underscored every sales opportunity. Those mostly prospered. What that has taught me is that if your sales staff has a "screw people once, then run with the money" attitude, that might be ok in the short term but it's not sustainable. But if you actually make friends of your customers, you have a much better chance of lasting. It's no guarantee, but failing to do so is a guarantee of failure.

You make good points, but note my use of the word "Routinely" in the example. There is a huge difference between "sticking to the contract" and "giving bad service".

Work environments vary dramatically depending on the area you work in and the companies you deal with. It sounds like you have been fairly lucky in the places you have been. Most of the places I have worked you have to be very careful that you don't violate the contracts.

The problem is that the contract is the legally enforcable document that states what you are supposed to do, and there are huge legal battles over supposed breaches of contract. As a result, play fast and lose with the contract and it can come back to bite you. One of my friends was in danger of losing his job for what appeared to be a minor contract violation.

I have been on long-term contracts, and seen the damage that "giving the customer everything he wants regardless of whether it is in the contract" can do when the customer starts demanding the "extras" he has been getting during contract renegotiations, and then complaining about having to pay for what he was getting for free.

This does not negate giving good service (and indeed a company that doesn't give good service may well go down - As you say, "screw people once, then run with the money" is not a sustainable business plan).

But this is not what is happening here. Both the contracts with Ansom were for a given set of services explicitly excluding Spell Security. This means that it was an option that Ansom was offered and refused. So you think he should then be given it for free?

Bogardan_Mage
2009-03-29, 02:32 AM
But Ansom certianly believes Stanley orchistrated Saline's death, which for the purposes of discussing Ansom's motivations, is all that matters.
Ah, but is it the chicken or the egg? Does Ansom believe Stanley to be evil because he believes he orchestrated Saline's death, or does he believe he orchestrated Saline's death because he believes him to be evil? It's not hard to imagine how it would have appeared to Ansom, who no doubt disapproves of the concept of heir designates in general. King dies under suspicious circumstances (even we in the objective role of audience must ask why the gobwins would break their alliance) and the ultimate beneficiary is a commoner. But of course, that's just looking at it through his preconcieved viewpoint, isn't it?

imp_fireball
2009-03-29, 08:27 PM
Trying not to sound presumptuous here, but in any war situation you need someone who can command and inspire on both sides and that's not really a niche anyone on the Jetstone side can fill (Vinny and Jillian maybe? Neither of them really strikes me as the type to take command of an army).


Not in the stock fashion. But does a nerd with a poor social life strike you as 'the type'?

Perhaps Jillian would lead an army of orcs and Vinny a crime lord, if you wanted to get any more stock.



Besides, this is an RPG and there's always a douchey-Paladin sort of character who leads the charge, but I don't think that Ansom is even as shallow as that - case in point being his bumbling attempts to woo Jillian (who doesn't love him because he's a natural leader, but because he's just a good guy). Who would've thought that Lancelot had girl problems? Ansom was the funniest character for me, if only because he's self-absorbed in a likeable sort of way, if that makes any sense (some of my friends are like this).


Lancelot wooed damsels. Not fuggin' warrior girls, last I checked.



I'm guessing the reason why people would dislike Ansom is his attitude that he's a better leader or warrior than his soldiers because of his royal blood. That may be an unfair assumption to make on his part, but the fact remains that he is still better at both. So while he may hold some prejudices, he's still justified in his confidence in his abilities. That makes his sin much more forgivable, IMO.


Meh. Pride is pride. And It's always (or usually at least) satisfying to see the modest wise man kick ass than the arrogant guy who tells the audience he is going to win (and then wins), thus removing the surprise - to put it simply.




Ansom deserves a better ending than the one he's apparently recieved. It'd be nice to see him brought back, and perhaps taught some humility, but the survivors of the coalition need some sort of rally point that's not a blood-crazed barbarian or a sarcastic vampire. Plus, it'll be cliche if the proud prince gets turned into a mindless undead, fighting against the kingdom he loves (Guild Wars?)


What are your thoughts?

Maybe if it were one of those spin-offs, then the addition would work. Unless it's comic relief. Perhaps being resurrected (in good guy/positive energy/happy fashion) still means he was technically 'dead' and thus discarded of all royal benefits (thus a peasant equivalent not concerning horded wealth) and ends up a mercenary for Charlie?

Aquillion
2009-03-29, 09:35 PM
I think that Charlie does indeed try to hide this, with his elaborate and magically binding contracts. It give the illusion that you know what you're getting, but just like an auto warranty you might be surprised once you try to get it honored.I disagree. A true scam-artist would say "You can trust me, right? Just give me some cash and I'll look out for you." Charlie writes out those very long complicated contracts to make it completely clear to both sides that he is going to do exactly what he is contractually bound to do and nothing else. If he wanted to trick people into trusting him, he'd go for folksy handshakes, not mile-long contracts.

It also helps him get better deals in the future. Seriously. People aren't going to look at this and say "Ansom got stabbed in the back by Charlie", they're going to look at it and say "Damn, I really ought to pay for spell security."

normalphil
2009-03-30, 02:15 AM
It's worth pointing out that the "didn't pay for spell security!" weaseling ended up being epicly penny-wise/pound-foolish.

All the Archons at Gobwin Knob are dead. And there were a lot of Archons at Gobwin Knob. Charlie loses their earning potential forever. Now how's the balance sheet looking there girls? Oh, that's right, you're dead :smallfurious:. Bet one of your last thoughts was wishing you'd tipped off your acknowledged army-commander that wasn't a surrender ceremony he was walking into in order to honor his contract with you boss... :smallbiggrin:

spectralphoenix
2009-03-30, 02:49 AM
It's worth pointing out that the "didn't pay for spell security!" weaseling ended up being epicly penny-wise/pound-foolish.

All the Archons at Gobwin Knob are dead. And there were a lot of Archons at Gobwin Knob. Charlie loses their earning potential forever. Now how's the balance sheet looking there girls? Oh, that's right, you're dead :smallfurious:. Bet one of your last thoughts was wishing you'd tipped off your acknowledged army-commander that wasn't a surrender ceremony he was walking into in order to honor his contract with you boss... :smallbiggrin:

Did it really? Parson would have still set off the volcano, and Ansom and the Archons would still be dead. The only case in which the assassination would have mattered would be if collapsing the mountain had croaked enough Coalition troops to give Parson a fighting chance without the volcano, and then the Archons would have been fine.

Bogardan_Mage
2009-03-30, 05:02 AM
It's worth pointing out that the "didn't pay for spell security!" weaseling ended up being epicly penny-wise/pound-foolish.

All the Archons at Gobwin Knob are dead. And there were a lot of Archons at Gobwin Knob. Charlie loses their earning potential forever. Now how's the balance sheet looking there girls? Oh, that's right, you're dead :smallfurious:. Bet one of your last thoughts was wishing you'd tipped off your acknowledged army-commander that wasn't a surrender ceremony he was walking into in order to honor his contract with you boss... :smallbiggrin:
They're not predictamancers, and they survived longer than Jaclyn. It was, given the circumstances, the correct choice.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-03-30, 09:33 AM
Why not? Ansom is paying for the use of a given set of services/abilities.
[...]
Just because it is an "always on" ability does not mean that Charlie should throw it in as a service for free.No, but it sure doesn't generate any good will to make a contract that in essence says "Yeah, I could warn you about spells since I have an always on and free ability that lets me see them. But since you didn't pay my extra fee I'm just going to stand around and watch you get pwned." See how that comes across? In real world analogies it'd be like refusing to do anything at all, no matter how trivial which wasn't covered in the contract. The customer calls you? Was answering the phone specified in the contract? Because that's a free and always on ability for most people in the business world. But you're going to refuse to answer unless it is a paid for line item in your contract. Good luck ever getting another contract once word gets around how you operate, and that is the entire point. Charlie is disliked or distrusted by everyone, and that's not how you do business.

Work environments vary dramatically depending on the area you work in and the companies you deal with. It sounds like you have been fairly lucky in the places you have been. Most of the places I have worked you have to be very careful that you don't violate the contracts.You are never going to violate a contract by going above it to provide good service. That has nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with relationship building.

The problem is that the contract is the legally enforcable document that states what you are supposed to do, and there are huge legal battles over supposed breaches of contract. As a result, play fast and lose with the contract and it can come back to bite you. One of my friends was in danger of losing his job for what appeared to be a minor contract violation.You are never going to be sued for breach of contract for providing services over and above what is specified in the contract.

I have been on long-term contracts, and seen the damage that "giving the customer everything he wants regardless of whether it is in the contract" can do when the customer starts demanding the "extras" he has been getting during contract renegotiations, and then complaining about having to pay for what he was getting for free.Your sales staff isn't doing their job correctly. When you provide additional services, everyone needs to be aware of this. You don't go around crowing about how much extra you are doing, you quietly explain that it is indeed extra and that it demonstrates both a willingness to get the job done and that your firm does indeed have the skill and personnel needed to get that job done. Then it is no surprise during renegotiation, since everyone is aware of the situation.

But this is not what is happening here. Both the contracts with Ansom were for a given set of services explicitly excluding Spell Security. This means that it was an option that Ansom was offered and refused. So you think he should then be given it for free?Yes, and the situation backs me up. Had Ansom lived, he would have been rightfully furious for not having been warned. All it would have "cost" Charlie was a "Hey Ansom, that's a veiled Twoll" from an archon. That's the equivalent of refusing to answer your phone because it's not specified in the contract, it's the same amount of effort and cost to the contractor and the contractors refusal to do so has a negative impact upon the customer's business. And Ansom died, so in this case it was both a huge negative impact on the customer's business and the loss of that customer going forward. Not a smart business plan by Charlie.

I disagree. A true scam-artist would say "You can trust me, right? Just give me some cash and I'll look out for you." Charlie writes out those very long complicated contracts to make it completely clear to both sides that he is going to do exactly what he is contractually bound to do and nothing else. If he wanted to trick people into trusting him, he'd go for folksy handshakes, not mile-long contracts.

It also helps him get better deals in the future. Seriously. People aren't going to look at this and say "Ansom got stabbed in the back by Charlie", they're going to look at it and say "Damn, I really ought to pay for spell security."Not at all. Look at every case in which someone expresses an opinion of Charlie. No one likes him or trusts him. His way of doing business does not build trust and does not make friends. People only deal with him when they feel they have no other option, and even then for the most part they are not happy about it. This is not a sustainable business model.

Manga Shoggoth
2009-03-30, 10:49 AM
BillyJimBoBob,

I am not suggesting that "extras" should not occur. I am suggesting that they should not "routinely occur". There is a huge difference.

It is quite true that we wouldn't be sued for breach of contract for providing extra services, but we sure as hell would lose contracts when the people we are contracted to discover that they will have to start paying for the "freebies", and have the "freebies" removed because they won't pay for them. We have almost lost contracts because of this, and it hasn't been through lack of understanding on either side.

It's not the Sales Department's problem either - ongoing contracts are the preserve of project management.

Once you start supplying a non-contracted service without renegotiation of the contract you open yourself up to the customer demanding the service at no extra cost "because you are already doing it". Or even better, claiming that they should pay less as you are "taking a service away".

(We have a saying - the customer pays for a Mini and expects a Rolls Royce.)

I reiterate that you have been very lucky with your contracts. My experience is much more varied (often within the same contract, as I deal with a lot of very long-term work), and with some very demanding customers.

As far as the situation backing you up, well... It could also be:


Ansom has gotten so used to recieving Spell Security for free that he falsely assumed he was going to get it.
Ansom has never assumed that he was getting Spell Security, and Jillian only got it because Jaclyn liked her (and negotiated a Thinkagram commission on the back of it the first time).

BillyJimBoBob
2009-03-30, 02:40 PM
It is quite true that we wouldn't be sued for breach of contract for providing extra services, but we sure as hell would lose contracts when the people we are contracted to discover that they will have to start paying for the "freebies", and have the "freebies" removed because they won't pay for them. We have almost lost contracts because of this, and it hasn't been through lack of understanding on either side.This is a textbook example of a lack of understanding that you are using to say that there isn't a lack of understanding. See the word you used there, "discover"? It conveys surprise and a lack of understanding on the part of the customer. The customer should not "discover" anything, they should be informed well in advance as a part of your ongoing relationship with them of any additions to or renewals of the contract.

It's not the Sales Department's problem either - ongoing contracts are the preserve of project management.Here's another problem: Everyone is responsible for sales. Anyone who doesn't feel personally responsible for looking for business opportunities and communicating those isn't doing their job, and I don't care if that person is a contracted door man or an EE with a PhD. If you work for a company that makes its money selling services, you had better never consider that sales is some one else's problem.

Once you start supplying a non-contracted service without renegotiation of the contract you open yourself up to the customer demanding the service at no extra cost "because you are already doing it". Or even better, claiming that they should pay less as you are "taking a service away".If either of those happen, someone isn't communicating correctly. Really, for this to happen requires that you provide additional services without speaking to the customer at all, or at the wrong levels. It's sloppy and unprofessional and I can easily see how people can get upset in the scenarios you outline. The trick is to not let things go that way, and all it takes is communication.

I reiterate that you have been very lucky with your contracts.You make your luck, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that if your customers are always griping about paying for a service you are providing to them, you're doing something wrong and need to change your approach. I vastly prefer for the customer to feel as though I've done them a huge favor and have brought them success where they felt it was not possible. Then you not only leave a friend behind you, but you feel good about yourself as well.

dr pepper
2009-03-30, 05:06 PM
"A good customer is worth more than latinum" -- The Rules of Acquisition.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-04-03, 01:18 AM
Yes, and the situation backs me up. Had Ansom lived, he would have been rightfully furious for not having been warned. All it would have "cost" Charlie was a "Hey Ansom, that's a veiled Twoll" from an archon. That's the equivalent of refusing to answer your phone because it's not specified in the contract, it's the same amount of effort and cost to the contractor and the contractors refusal to do so has a negative impact upon the customer's business. And Ansom died, so in this case it was both a huge negative impact on the customer's business and the loss of that customer going forward. Not a smart business plan by Charlie.
Except that in this case, having a return-customer really wasn't the profit of the whole enterprise. Charlie wanted both Ansom's pliers and to get Parson and his goodies into employment. He is deliberately trying to get Ansom killed while weakening both sides of the conflict.


Not at all. Look at every case in which someone expresses an opinion of Charlie. No one likes him or trusts him. His way of doing business does not build trust and does not make friends. People only deal with him when they feel they have no other option, and even then for the most part they are not happy about it. This is not a sustainable business model.
This is true, but I think you're looking at all this the wrong way. Charlie's services aren't some civilian service. He has a lot of martial power backing him up and the Arkendish to boot. He has enough power to dictate his own terms. His archons are powerful enough to fight dwagons and each is a caster, which are exceedingly rare and potent in Erfworld. His services can tip the balance of an entire war. And like it or not, he's the only shell-game in town.

He's a mercenary. That's a key distinction here. You can't expect mercenaries to act any differently than Charlie does. Mercenaries are trusted to act in the customer's best interest because the customer's best interest usually coincides with theirs.

Usually. The fatal exception occurs when those two things don't coincide. It's naive to think that anybody with that much power doesn't have an agenda of their own. Both Ansom and Parson were acutely aware of this. It's just that Ansom never really expected Stanley or Parson to present anything valuable to Charlie.

MattR
2009-04-03, 07:04 AM
Well, the situation is less extreme in terms of Charlie. Charlie is not trying to activly conquer, and he didn't come to power via regicide.

Alleged regicide. There's no real proof as yet that Stanley did kill King Saline... he wasn't even there when it happened. Who knows how Charlie came to power, i wouldn't rule out anything when it comes to him :)


Stanley was attacking pretty much everybody, which was reason to take him out. It was Vinny who suspected that Ansom's motivation may be that Stanley isn't a royal.

Combat is a fundemental aspect of Erfworld world, sides are geared around it and the existence of a bubble kingdom is scoffed at. http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0091.html

You'll notice he never really denied Vinnie's accusation though, the bottom line was that Stanley isn't a royal... croaking a couple of field units is seen as nothing.


Ansom's Royalist outburst was a direct result of Parson pushing that very button, and was probably an exageration of Ansom's actual feelings.

I disagree entirely. When you push someones buttons you don't get an exaggeration of how they feel, you get the truth of how they feel.


When Ansom meets Jillian, he never states that he cares whether or not she was a royal.

I must be missing something, where have we been shown in the comic the first meeting between Ansom and Jillian? We don't know what he assumed at the beginning or how he treated her. What we do know is how excited he was when it was confirmed she was a royal, particularly about her claiming her cities again.

I'd argue he was only looking to pursue a relationship with her because he had the suspicion she is a royal, otherwise attraction or not he'd have kept his distance.


but e didn't know what she was before, and he still put her in command of his soldiers.

He could have put her in charge of troops because of her high leadership before other factors are considered.


He seems to have only come this far because of the Arkenhammer,

He was raised from being a piker without having the arkenhammer, clearly he had some good qualities to justify that.


and his personality is just repugnant to me. Saying that he's earned the loyalty of several skilled mages does not make him effective in a wartime situation - Hitler earned the loyalty of generals like Rommel (until the end of the war, anyway) and he still went and attacked Russia.

Being effective in combat doesn't make you a great tactician, we already know this is true about Stanley.

Being effective in wartime situations also doesn't preclude you making mistakes, even colossal ones.

Arguably Ansom started with the loyalty of the coalition and was an effective commander but this loyalty became eroded because of some of the decisions he made which turned out to be mistakes.

Stanley's problem stems from his religious fervor, his belief he is a Tool of the Titans... in the comic it says things started going wrong for him when he began to quest for the others. Stanley and Ansom are similiar because both believe they are superior in some way then others. Arguably Stanley has 'proof' to back up his assumption.


The main thing is I feel that a lot of the things that are being suggested about Ansom are based purely on speculation or reading into the text a bit too much. And they could be right - but now we'll probably never know besides flashbacks or Deus Ex.

I think this comic requires you to read between the lines to come to conclusions, we are not going to be spoon fed every fact.

Its all suggestion + further evidence to back it up in small increments.


Even if this were the case, I fail to see how employing one evil power against another is evil in itself, I'd call that cunning.

He wasn't being cunning though or he'd have been directing Charlie against Stanley from the start to weaken them both. Charlie only became involved because Ansom was outmatched and desperate.


And once again, it's never explicitly stated that Ansom is removing Stanley because of his prejudice against non-royals. Its suggested by Vinny, who is not a Thinkamancer and the matter is deflected.

If you add that conversation to Ansom's later outburst it's pretty clear how he feels.

Claiming it's not true because it wasn't just stated outright in that first conversation isn't much of an argument :( Vinnie is Ansom's friend to all appearances, it makes no sense to attack him with that accusation if there's no basis for it.

So what if Vinnie isn't a Thinkamancer, he's still been shown to be pretty darn intuitive at times.

MattR
2009-04-03, 07:26 AM
BillyJimBoBob

1) You're assuming that the contract presented to Ansom was designed to be accepted. I don't think it was, i think Charlie had to present some kind of contract to justify why he was still hanging around. The contract may have only contained the minimum amount of service to get Ansom out of his fix for the maximum cost Charlie could charge without appearing to be deliberately avoiding getting involved.

2) By your logic things like Loan Sharks can't exist because of poor customer satisfaction. Despite the reputations of loan shark, despite the incredible interest they charge there will always be desperate people who use them, just like there will always be desperate people who will hire Charlie.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-04-03, 01:12 PM
Except that in this case, having a return-customer really wasn't the profit of the whole enterprise. Charlie wanted both Ansom's pliers and to get Parson and his goodies into employment. He is deliberately trying to get Ansom killed while weakening both sides of the conflict.


This is true, but I think you're looking at all this the wrong way. Charlie's services aren't some civilian service. He has a lot of martial power backing him up and the Arkendish to boot. He has enough power to dictate his own terms. His archons are powerful enough to fight dwagons and each is a caster, which are exceedingly rare and potent in Erfworld. His services can tip the balance of an entire war. And like it or not, he's the only shell-game in town.

He's a mercenary. That's a key distinction here. You can't expect mercenaries to act any differently than Charlie does. Mercenaries are trusted to act in the customer's best interest because the customer's best interest usually coincides with theirs.

Usually. The fatal exception occurs when those two things don't coincide. It's naive to think that anybody with that much power doesn't have an agenda of their own. Both Ansom and Parson were acutely aware of this. It's just that Ansom never really expected Stanley or Parson to present anything valuable to Charlie.You make good points. I still think that Charlie would serve his own best interests better if he hadn't built a reputation for being a weasel/untrustworthy/whatever. But we don't know the situations under which Charlie earned that rep, and he may well have profited handsomely in exchange for the hits to his rep.

1) You're assuming that the contract presented to Ansom was designed to be accepted. I don't think it was, i think Charlie had to present some kind of contract to justify why he was still hanging around. The contract may have only contained the minimum amount of service to get Ansom out of his fix for the maximum cost Charlie could charge without appearing to be deliberately avoiding getting involved.Hmm, I don't agree. The context of the conversation between Ansom and the archon on the walls was that Ansom and Charlie had already discussed another deal earlier but Ansom had refused for reasons of cost or terms or whatever. "I accept your terms" followed by "the terms have been amended" describes an already known contract which has been modified.
I think Charlie was prepared to do exactly what he threatened. There was originally no reason for him not to, and little to gain with a bluff that gets called. He knew he could win, and he knew what he would gain, and he was willing to take the losses needed to achieve that gain. Charlie was originally willing to sit out the turn because he knew Parson was right when he said that GK would be weaker after a big scrum with the RCC, plus Parson said he'd have the 'Pliers and backed the claim with "no lie" mathemancy odds. But once Ansom offered to accept the contract Charlie thought he was going to have his cake and eat it, too. He'd get paid by Ansom, and his amended terms would give him Parson (and the mathemancy artifact). The 'Pliers would be a wash, something he didn't expect to get until Parson claimed to be able to capture them.

2) By your logic things like Loan Sharks can't exist because of poor customer satisfaction. Despite the reputations of loan shark, despite the incredible interest they charge there will always be desperate people who use them, just like there will always be desperate people who will hire Charlie.True, but there's a big difference between a loan shark who has any poor person in a city as a potential client, and a large contracting company who has only other companies and governments as potential clients. There has to be a limited number of sides on Erfworld, and those sides are Charlies primary clients. Rich barbarians are the only other possible source of income. Screw over too many of a small handful of clients and your reputation will begin to impact your business. And we've seen it. Stanley had 500k+ schmuckers before summoning Parson, and hiring a pile of archons for a few turns might have turned his fortunes completely around. Would have, frankly, as the RCC didn't have much of an air force and Stanley could have added archons to dwagons and made a very formidable force indeed. But he refused to even consider this option due to a personal dislike for Charlie.

MattR
2009-04-03, 02:46 PM
But he refused to even consider this option due to a personal dislike for Charlie.

A personal dislike that might have no basis in being screwed over in a contract or from Charlie having a bad repuation. charlie is attuned to a arkentool and that alone would explain why Stanley wouldnt like him and might go so far as ignoring his existence at the present.

Cracklord
2009-04-07, 08:23 PM
The reason Ansom lost was because Parson sacrificed everything to beat him. Everything. Leaving him with no cities, no soldiers, no casters as I doubt he'll be able to keep up the upkeep.
Despite the fact that he won in a Deux Ex Machina that left Ansom's escapades as nothing, it is not truly winning. It's like seeing your opponent has got you in check, so you smash the board with a sledgehammer. No pieces left, so I didn't loose, right?
That's not how wars are fought. War's are fought for a variety of reasons, but totally destroying what you were trying to protect is not a victory.
Yes, Ansom was arrogant, yes, he did have some very unlikeable qualities, but he was said to honestly care about his men so as few as possible died, and he honestly did his best to be a good leader, not throwing lives away for nothing.
And he was able to take responsobility for his mistakes and actions.
Other then Vinnie, he was the closest thing this strip had to a hero. And he could dance like John Travolta too.

Manga Shoggoth
2009-04-08, 03:33 AM
That's not how wars are fought. War's are fought for a variety of reasons, but totally destroying what you were trying to protect is not a victory.

I agree with the comments about Ansom, but I think you have a rather limited view of war here.

Gobwin Knob was a lost cause when Parson was brought in. He very nearly salvaged it, but (for various reasons) couldn't. There was no hope of victory.

This means that he had one option: Deny his opponents the prize. This is not at all unusual in war - the Romans had a strategy called "Poisoning the wells" - when you retreat make sure the ground you are ceeding to the enemy is useless to them as you can make it.

Now, I agree that this isn't a victory, but then it isn't supposed to be. You are no longer trying to protect your ground, you are denying it to the enemy (preferably damaging them further in the process).

In many respects it is the reverse: Parson transformed a "victory for Ansom and allies" to a "phyrric victory for Ansom and allies". They achieved their objective - take down Gobwin Knob - but at a horrendous cost.

MorhgorRB
2009-04-08, 04:50 AM
The reason Ansom lost was because Parson sacrificed everything to beat him. Everything. Leaving him with no cities, no soldiers, no casters as I doubt he'll be able to keep up the upkeep.
Despite the fact that he won in a Deux Ex Machina that left Ansom's escapades as nothing, it is not truly winning. It's like seeing your opponent has got you in check, so you smash the board with a sledgehammer. No pieces left, so I didn't loose, right?


See, the problem with that is, your sarcastic/rhetorical question at the end gets the opposite point across. Parson Metagamed, it's not his world, and he was forced to do his best in order to help Stanley. Killing the armies of (3-8? I've lost track.) enemy nations is a good step toward that, and since Stanley isn't dead he can come back and claim... Well, I'm actually not too sure if you can claim what's left of Gobwin Knob.



That's not how wars are fought. War's are fought for a variety of reasons, but totally destroying what you were trying to protect is not a victory.


What? Wars are a nice battle, where everyone lines up nice and honest ready to follow a set guideline and not do anything out of the ordinary? Hell no. Victory can be anything from crushing an enemy under your heel (figuratively or literally), to commiting suicide in order to take them with you. (Which is almost as harsh as Parson managed.) It all depends on how othodox your view of a victory is ; to defeat the enemy without massive loss, or not to be defeated at any cost. (The latter being Parson's choice, though it doesn't sound like units matter very much. NPCs and all. Yes, in the real world the loss of thousands of lives would matter greatly. In a fantasy world where you'll just 'pop' a new army, and none of them really have a name or life? Yeah, the morality matters a lot less.)



Yes, Ansom was arrogant, yes, he did have some very unlikeable qualities, but he was said to honestly care about his men so as few as possible died, and he honestly did his best to be a good leader, not throwing lives away for nothing.


Yes, he was only throwing them away in order to sort a grudge he had against non-royal rulers, and the "Titan's Mandate." ...Then again, wars have been fought over stupider things, I suppose.

Cracklord
2009-04-08, 05:24 AM
I agree with the comments about Ansom, but I think you have a rather limited view of war here.

Gobwin Knob was a lost cause when Parson was brought in. He very nearly salvaged it, but (for various reasons) couldn't. There was no hope of victory.

This means that he had one option: Deny his opponents the prize. This is not at all unusual in war - the Romans had a strategy called "Poisoning the wells" - when you retreat make sure the ground you are ceeding to the enemy is useless to them as you can make it.

Now, I agree that this isn't a victory, but then it isn't supposed to be. You are no longer trying to protect your ground, you are denying it to the enemy (preferably damaging them further in the process).

In many respects it is the reverse: Parson transformed a "victory for Ansom and allies" to a "phyrric victory for Ansom and allies". They achieved their objective - take down Gobwin Knob - but at a horrendous cost.

Yes, but the Jetstone and people still have cities. They can still recover. In a few turns it will be as though nothing happened, and someone will claim the ruins. Yes, the tactic is common as a way of slowing your enemies advance, not a seige. It's one thing to burn a few barns or forrests, it's another to destroy your entire city.
In fact, Parson hasn't changed the outcome, he's just killed a lot more people then would otherwise died. Next cuple of turns, someone will claim the site and rebuild.

Cracklord
2009-04-08, 05:38 AM
See, the problem with that is, your sarcastic/rhetorical question at the end gets the opposite point across. Parson Metagamed, it's not his world, and he was forced to do his best in order to help Stanley. Killing the armies of (3-8? I've lost track.) enemy nations is a good step toward that, and since Stanley isn't dead he can come back and claim... Well, I'm actually not too sure if you can claim what's left of Gobwin Knob.

Correct. However I am reffering to why Ansom's stradegy failed. Nothing more, nothing less.


What? Wars are a nice battle, where everyone lines up nice and honest ready to follow a set guideline and not do anything out of the ordinary? Hell no. Victory can be anything from crushing an enemy under your heel (figuratively or literally), to commiting suicide in order to take them with you. (Which is almost as harsh as Parson managed.) It all depends on how othodox your view of a victory is ; to defeat the enemy without massive loss, or not to be defeated at any cost. (The latter being Parson's choice, though it doesn't sound like units matter very much. NPCs and all. Yes, in the real world the loss of thousands of lives would matter greatly. In a fantasy world where you'll just 'pop' a new army, and none of them really have a name or life? Yeah, the morality matters a lot less.)
No, to win a war you have to win something. Parson would have infact done better if he surrendered. War's are often extremely bloody affairs, and often don't have any sort of rules whatsoever. But when it looks like your going to loose do you burn your city to the ground? No. Never in historical warfare. Why? Because empires recover.
Oh, there are examples of extreme action, of course. When Ghengis Khan overan central China all the women off all ages commited suicide together so the invaders couldn't touch them. But did they burn down the forbidden city? No. Because Even if Ghengis Khan stripped it to the foundations, taking everything, they would till be able to recover. That is real life.
In a stradegy game? Maybe a better tactic. But a lot of the troops on both sides show a lot more feeling then Parson. Look at Bogrol. Or Jillian. She acts impulsively, in ways that are not conclusive to her best interest. She's an individual. They all are.


Yes, he was only throwing them away in order to sort a grudge he had against non-royal rulers, and the "Titan's Mandate." ...Then again, wars have been fought over stupider things, I suppose.
As well as avenging a whole lot of attacks by Stanley. Unprovoked attacks. That were because Stanley believes himself to be the lord of everything. And Ansom may jump down on him especially hard becaus he's a nonruler, but he'd be there anyway.
Stanley and Parson sacafice every unit they earn, for nothing. Who cares how much they loose by? If the only way you can win is killing everyone on both sides, you should let them win. Die with a clear concience. Unless you think of other people as things, or are to egotistical to admit defeat.

Zorfa_Tamanjoir
2009-04-08, 03:39 PM
Who would've thought that Lancelot had girl problems?

Not meaning to Hijack, but thats kinda one of the main things about the entire story, Lancelot falling for the wrong girl...

Brewdude
2009-04-08, 06:31 PM
Here's another problem: Everyone is responsible for sales. Anyone who doesn't feel personally responsible for looking for business opportunities and communicating those isn't doing their job, and I don't care if that person is a contracted door man or an EE with a PhD. If you work for a company that makes its money selling services, you had better never consider that sales is some one else's problem.

See, now this sounds like someone who's been getting extra non-contracted for services out of non sales people for years. :)

When my company wanted sales leads out of its technical support team, they finally got off their arses and paid them a minor commission on successful leads.

Also, your points make sense except when dealing with governments. Dealing with governments is all about "percentage contract completion" as that's the only thing that applies vis-a-vis goodwill when the contract officer is looking at the new bid. "Extra services beyond the call of the contract" are not only not allowed, but can be construed as bribery or graft.

Wizzardman
2009-04-09, 01:51 AM
No, to win a war you have to win something. Parson would have infact done better if he surrendered.

Except everyone but him and a few "captured" high-level casters would have died anyway. By the rules of the game as we understand them, surrendering would have been condemning his surviving troops to be instant-slaughtered (as only warlords and casters can be captured), and forcing his friends into a potential life of servitude to the supposed victors. True, more of the victorious units (all individuals, of course) would still be alive, but that's hardly a great reason to let your own troops die.

And by leaving the alliance with only a pyrrhic victory, Parson has at least bought Gobwin Knob and Stanley some time. True, in a few turns, the various nations can rebuild their lost troops, but in a few turns, Gobwin Knob (which may not technically have been lost by their side, as the alliance never managed to reach the final room) can be rebuilt, and Stanley can attempt to reclaim his throne. Whereas, by surrendering, Stanley would become a barbarian, and his already-dwindling supply of funds would scarcely be able to support himself, let alone the various casters. Even if it might have been better for Parson, I doubt the loyalty effect would have let him do that.

And at the same time, several nations have suddenly lost a large number of very important and expensive warlords, as well as dozens of units, and a large amount of the respect they once held for Jetstone, Charlie, and each other. If anything can save Stanley's realm, removing its enemies from play for several turns, and sowing seeds of mistrust between its most powerful opponents certainly is a good start.

Over all, I'd call this an overall strategic victory for Parson. Very pyrrhic, but certainly better than NOT EXISTING ANYMORE.


As well as avenging a whole lot of attacks by Stanley. Unprovoked attacks.That were because Stanley believes himself to be the lord of everything.
Oh, Ansom's alliance says they were unprovoked. Propaganda is very popular in war--especially inside the strategy room, as the leaders try to justify their actions.

So far, Stanley hasn't struck me as particularly suicidal. He may consider himself to be the eventual ruler of everything, but that doesn't mean he spent his time pre-comic randomly attacking people and stealing their stuff. Most likely, he engaged in some of the petty border disputes and minor wars that doubtlessly fills the time of everybody who happens to live in a war-based strategy game. Other than annoying the vampires and wiping out a few minor nations who are only mentioned once, Stanley's worst action appears to have been "invading" Jillian's homeland, and there's not even any evidence that this was actually an aggressive act.

Stanley may be arrogant as hell, but he's not necessarily guilty of numerous unprovoked attacks against numerous neighbors, as part of some strange "take over the world" scheme. So we can't just assume that "Stanley had it coming," and therefore Ansom was the only real hero.


If the only way you can win is killing everyone on both sides, you should let them win. Die with a clear concience. Unless you think of other people as things, or are to egotistical to admit defeat.
...Okay, I'm not going to be mean and point out the numerous last stands that people throughout history have considered brave and honorable, despite the fact that fewer people on the other side would have died if said standers had simply died. That would be trolling.

I don't think Parson's loyalty stat would have let him simply surrender for the expediency of it. Not only would that have guaranteed the loss of his side, it would have probably guaranteed Stanley's death by lack-of-funding.

Additionally, up until the very end, Parson was trying very hard to win this battle without losing everyone on his side. And up until the very, very end, with so many enemy units busting through the walls he felt that he had a good chance of doing so. That point happened to be after Parson's false surrender, so there was almost no chance that the Alliance's remaining forces would have accepted a surrender from Parson anyway. Moreover, while it may be more morally decent from an outsider's perspective if you "save net lives" by surrendering to the enemy instead of fighting them, it certainly doesn't FEEL better, and Parson could hardly be expected to view it as such.

As you said, these units were made up of individuals. And humans are essentially designed to view their own group of individuals as better than any group of individuals that happens to be hostile to them. Unless you happen to think of your own people as "things," you're going to sympathize with them more than with the enemy, and you're almost always going to go down fighting, rather than simply letting your friends die.

Final note: none of this post was written with hostile intent. Please don't feel insulted by anything I may have said, or the tone I have written in.

Manga Shoggoth
2009-04-09, 05:12 AM
See, now this sounds like someone who's been getting extra non-contracted for services out of non sales people for years. :).

I did consider saying that...



Also, your points make sense except when dealing with governments. Dealing with governments is all about "percentage contract completion" as that's the only thing that applies vis-a-vis goodwill when the contract officer is looking at the new bid. "Extra services beyond the call of the contract" are not only not allowed, but can be construed as bribery or graft.

And indeed, this is exactly the area I work in, and in a different country to boot.

There is another problem - demarcation: if you start supplying an extra service that another group (customer or another contractor) is already supplying, you can end up in very hot water.

(To be fair to my specific customers, We have seldom hit these problems, but we are generally very careful over our contracts).

Like I said, BillyJimBoBob has been very lucky in his contracts. And we are starting to wander off topic a bit.

Bucket
2009-04-09, 07:30 AM
He's fairly elitist and arrogant but a competent leader and obviously cares about his men/means well. <snip>

Ansom was practically a trope. Blonde Hair, Blue-eyed, square-jawed arrogant elitist with an overdeveloped superiority complex - while he was a good foil for Parson, he had to be killed - at least once. I just hope he doesn't come back !!

Underappreciated? Perhaps. I don't miss him, but I can understand that his allies would.

Cracklord
2009-04-11, 10:44 PM
Except everyone but him and a few "captured" high-level casters would have died anyway. By the rules of the game as we understand them, surrendering would have been condemning his surviving troops to be instant-slaughtered (as only warlords and casters can be captured), and forcing his friends into a potential life of servitude to the supposed victors. True, more of the victorious units (all individuals, of course) would still be alive, but that's hardly a great reason to let your own troops die.

And by leaving the alliance with only a pyrrhic victory, Parson has at least bought Gobwin Knob and Stanley some time. True, in a few turns, the various nations can rebuild their lost troops, but in a few turns, Gobwin Knob (which may not technically have been lost by their side, as the alliance never managed to reach the final room) can be rebuilt, and Stanley can attempt to reclaim his throne. Whereas, by surrendering, Stanley would become a barbarian, and his already-dwindling supply of funds would scarcely be able to support himself, let alone the various casters. Even if it might have been better for Parson, I doubt the loyalty effect would have let him do that.

And at the same time, several nations have suddenly lost a large number of very important and expensive warlords, as well as dozens of units, and a large amount of the respect they once held for Jetstone, Charlie, and each other. If anything can save Stanley's realm, removing its enemies from play for several turns, and sowing seeds of mistrust between its most powerful opponents certainly is a good start.

Over all, I'd call this an overall strategic victory for Parson. Very pyrrhic, but certainly better than NOT EXISTING ANYMORE.

But as far as he knows he will stop existing directly after anyway. No city, no way to cover 3000 shmuckers. So he disbands. That doesn't seem to have happened, perhaps another Deux Ex Machina, but
we'll see.


Oh, Ansom's alliance says they were unprovoked. Propaganda is very popular in war--especially inside the strategy room, as the leaders try to justify their actions.

So far, Stanley hasn't struck me as particularly suicidal. He may consider himself to be the eventual ruler of everything, but that doesn't mean he spent his time pre-comic randomly attacking people and stealing their stuff. Most likely, he engaged in some of the petty border disputes and minor wars that doubtlessly fills the time of everybody who happens to live in a war-based strategy game. Other than annoying the vampires and wiping out a few minor nations who are only mentioned once, Stanley's worst action appears to have been "invading" Jillian's homeland, and there's not even any evidence that this was actually an aggressive act.

Well yes, if we accept that everything the other side says is a lie and Stanley has been chosen to run the world, then I suppose your right. But otherwise we'll just have to agree with them. I mean, Stanley hasn't denied these allegations, so until further info...



...Okay, I'm not going to be mean and point out the numerous last stands that people throughout history have considered brave and honorable, despite the fact that fewer people on the other side would have died if said standers had simply died. That would be trolling.
Well, I know they have. And I don't deny that it is brave and honorable. But doing so for a cause you neither believe in or even understand, just so you don't have to spend the rest of your life wondering is a very different thing.



Additionally, up until the very end, Parson was trying very hard to win this battle without losing everyone on his side. And up until the very, very end, with so many enemy units busting through the walls he felt that he had a good chance of doing so. That point happened to be after Parson's false surrender, so there was almost no chance that the Alliance's remaining forces would have accepted a surrender from Parson anyway. Moreover, while it may be more morally decent from an outsider's perspective if you "save net lives" by surrendering to the enemy instead of fighting them, it certainly doesn't FEEL better, and Parson could hardly be expected to view it as such.

So was Ansom. Ask Jillian.

Well, I'll just wait to be counter argued, shall I?
Don't worry about asserting your beliefs, it's what the internet is for.

imp_fireball
2009-04-12, 03:49 AM
The reason Ansom lost was because Parson sacrificed everything to beat him. Everything. Leaving him with no cities, no soldiers, no casters as I doubt he'll be able to keep up the upkeep.
Despite the fact that he won in a Deux Ex Machina that left Ansom's escapades as nothing, it is not truly winning. It's like seeing your opponent has got you in check, so you smash the board with a sledgehammer. No pieces left, so I didn't loose, right?
That's not how wars are fought. War's are fought for a variety of reasons, but totally destroying what you were trying to protect is not a victory.
Yes, Ansom was arrogant, yes, he did have some very unlikeable qualities, but he was said to honestly care about his men so as few as possible died, and he honestly did his best to be a good leader, not throwing lives away for nothing.
And he was able to take responsobility for his mistakes and actions.
Other then Vinnie, he was the closest thing this strip had to a hero. And he could dance like John Travolta too.

But when surrendering is not an option, usually it's better just to destroy yourself while killing the enemy in the process - a warrior's death as it were (or jihad, however you look at it).

Also, I hate John Travolta. Who else says 'oh my god' in as many contexts but metrosexuals?

Wizzardman
2009-04-12, 03:43 PM
But as far as he knows he will stop existing directly after anyway. No city, no way to cover 3000 shmuckers. So he disbands. That doesn't seem to have happened, perhaps another Deux Ex Machina, but
we'll see.

So he takes the option most likely to save his life. A slim chance is better than a guaranteed death.



Well yes, if we accept that everything the other side says is a lie and Stanley has been chosen to run the world, then I suppose your right. But otherwise we'll just have to agree with them. I mean, Stanley hasn't denied these allegations, so until further info...
Didn't say that. I was just working based on what evidence we have. And we have no evidence that Ansom is any more moral just than Stanley is--all we have are a few stereotypes about characters like Stanley, a few stereotypes about characters like Ansom, and some barely touched upon info provided by an unreliable source.




Well, I know they have. And I don't deny that it is brave and honorable. But doing so for a cause you neither believe in or even understand, just so you don't have to spend the rest of your life wondering is a very different thing.
Except you're forgetting that the power of Loyalty the game mechanic, as well as his nascent friendships with the various people on his side, made it fairly certain that Parson "believed in" this cause, whether he consented to such belief or not.





So was Ansom. Ask Jillian.

Oh, certainly. However, we're arguing about Parson's actions, not Jillian's. Jillian's opinion on Ansom doesn't affect Parson.


Well, I'll just wait to be counter argued, shall I?


Well, we are on a message board. I could argue that such arguments are what message boards are for.

SomeUnregPunk
2009-04-12, 03:46 PM
Ansom is the reverse of Stanley. Both have their convictions in which they'll fight tooth and nail for. Ansom believes he is the good guy because he is royal and of the coalition he has formed under him. Stanley believes he is the good guy because he has an attuned arkentool and he didn't kill his King but saved his cities from the Gobwins that broke alliance and killed his King. I'd bet his entire war against everyone is b/c he doesn't know who else helped the Gobwins kill his leader.

Unfortunately for Stanley, Ansom has the capability to win battles without the sole use of his tool. Stanley won engagements after acquiring his tool and the subsequent taming of the dwagons. Ansom was born a leader while Stanley was raised to that position. We don't know why Stanley took a bunch of caster with a flock of dwagons on the day that his King was put to sword. We don't know if Stanley was behind. But from his actions, for me it sounds like a guy that wants revenge against the world for his King's death.

Ansom is like the vet putting down a sick dog. He wasn't just taking him down b/c he isn't a royal born but b/c of all the attacks against other nations he has made. I can see why all the elves are fighting with Ansom since Stanley apparently took out some elven nation. But I don't see why Vinnie's nation is.

Ansom character was well defined and he acted within his defination and never strayed from it. When Parson used a pincer trap on him, Ansom still moved into the center hex because he followed his beliefs that so far Stanley is an idiot when it comes to leading battles. Hell Stanley promoted people that looked good and not actually leaders to warload status.

I like that Stanley cut and run. It follows his character. He believes that his a tool of the Titans. The way he uses people without regard is significant, it shows he wasn't born a leader. Ansom on the other hand threw himself into leading battles and rewarded good troops personally. He cared for his people.

Especially shown when he went nuts when Parson put Ansom's uncroaked men up at front.

Kreistor
2009-04-12, 05:03 PM
Uhm... where did Stanley ever say he ddn't kill his own king?

Second, Wanda tells us that Stanley only did poorly after he started hunting the Arkentools, so we don't know that Stanley was a bad leader before that point.

We know that Stanley turned battle through the use of his Arkentool, but we know that the Arkentool alone was not enough to turn the battle of the pass.

Your presumption that Stanley was a poor leader is presumptuous and not supported by the comic thus far. He is poor at strategy, but while he worked for King Saline IV, Saline provided strategy, and so he was responsbile only for tactics, which he has not shown as a weakness. (He knew how to splat Caesar, a Chief Warlord.)

As for Ansom... Ansom's failure to overcome his own ego made him predictable. That allowed Parson to play him like a fiddle. A general that cannot overcome the weaknesses of tradition, character, and honour is doomed to lose to a general without such restrictions. What you seem to like about Ansom are the qualities that make him a horrible leader.

Estelindis
2009-04-12, 06:15 PM
Ansom's failure to overcome his own ego made him predictable. That allowed Parson to play him like a fiddle. A general that cannot overcome the weaknesses of tradition, character, and honour is doomed to lose to a general without such restrictions. What you seem to like about Ansom are the qualities that make him a horrible leader.
Tradition, character, and honour make horrible leaders now? :smallconfused:

archon_huskie
2009-04-12, 06:43 PM
Ansom is dead. His goal was to take Goblin Knob. He failed.

Wizzardman
2009-04-12, 06:51 PM
Tradition, character, and honour make horrible leaders now? :smallconfused:

If they aren't balanced by innovation, adaptability, and empathy, then yes. Tradition, character, and honor are not required traits for most leaders. They may be traditional traits, but they certainly aren't required.

Kreistor
2009-04-12, 09:17 PM
Tradition, character, and honour make horrible leaders now? :smallconfused:

Absolutely. It is when people break tradition that the world changes. Knights were traditional means to wage war from about 1000 to 1600 (not disappearing entirely until 1650). They were bested by Swiss pikemen and disappeared. So much for tradition: pikes were new and cheap, and a knight had no hope against a pike square. The armies of the world changed, requiring training to maneuver while in formation, resulting in the first national, professional armies.

"Character" is neither good nor evil. If one lives up to ones reputation, one becoems predictable, whether that reputation is good or ill gotten. Being predictable allows others to develop new tactics to defeat what they know you will do. It was in teh English character to chase a defeated foe in 1066. This resulted in their annihilation and the Normanization of English nobility.

And honour? Honour has never had a place on the battlefield. Honour is, and always has been, the purview of the wealthy -- those that could afford to fight at less than full strength because of superior protection. But it is not the poor that gained from their honour. The French knights loathed the english archers, and so they cut off the index and middle finger of any they caught. The English war taunt, then, was one in which they waved those two fingers towards their enemy and this became the V for Victory in later eras. What honour was there in that French act of mutilation of prisoners of war? It didn't matter beause honour did not extend to those of lesser rank. Honour has always been reserved for particular enemies, and not given out wholesale for a darned good reason. It was, in the end, Ansom's honour that killed him, after all. He treated Parson with honour, thinking Parson would surrender honourably. Ansom acted honourably, Parson dishonourably, and Ansom died for it, not Parson.

A good war leader considers all options at the enemy's disposal, not just those that tradition and honour suggest are acceptable. And he does not rely overmuch on an enemy's character, which can be the product of a good act, manipulated tactics, or propaganda. Ansom portrayed the features of the classic knight (which likely never existed in our own history, being a thing of romantic literature for the most part), including the worst weaknesses. His flaw was ignorance. He had never faced failure at the hands of someone capable of those character traits he felt were negative and unworthy, except maybe Stanley (there must be some reason he calls Stanley the Worm and began a coalition against him). If Ansom had been bested by the likes of Parson, one who held to no tradition, he would not have been so naive, nor held that "noble" traits were inherently superior. It would not have saved him, ultimately, because the volcano would have taken him as it did all the others, but he would never have died to a veiled twoll.

Estelindis
2009-04-13, 12:24 PM
It is when people break tradition that the world changes.
Change is a value-neutral quality. :smallsmile: Whether change is desirable or not depends on whether the original situation was good or bad and whether change makes it better or worse. Tradition is also a value-neutral quality. The word comes from a root meaning "that which is handed down." Of course, it seems sensible for people to only had down that which is proven to work well - so one may think that tradition is necessarily positive. :smallwink: But it may also be that people continue handing things down because they're comfortable keeping things a certain way and don't want to be challenged, even though things could be a lot better. :smalleek: It all depends on the situation! :smallbiggrin: So, really, the positive virtue is neither change nor tradition, but wisdom: wisdom to discern what aspects of tradition are helpful, which should be kept, and which aspects are harmful, and should be abandoned in favour of something new.


"Character" is neither good nor evil.
Actually, "character" (as a quality) tends to be taken as a synonym of "integrity," which I would have to regard as positive. If we take it to mean "characteristic," of course, then it becomes meaningless in the context in which we are speaking, because a characteristic may be positive, negative, or neutral.


Honour has never had a place on the battlefield.
If you feel that to be the case, then I hope I never meet you on the battlefield. I think there are some paths to victory which cause far more damage at a human level than simply losing could do. You may win "at all costs" - but can you live with yourself, having done such things? Any element of life from which conscience is totally excluded loses its human dimension, and thus loses anything worth fighting for. It's a fool's game (though, unfortunately, we are fools far too often).

Of course, if Erfworld is really just a game, and its players mere figments of Parson's imagination, then the dimension of conscience disappears, provided that Parson actually knows this for certain. But the characters in Erfworld certainly seem real, and Parson doesn't seem to be sure how he should see them. Ansom himself must view Erf characters as real, since he is one, so conscience would certainly seem to come into play. But perhaps even certain aspects of morality that we take for granted just don't come into Erfworld because its paradigms are so different from ours.


If Ansom had been bested by the likes of Parson, one who held to no tradition, he would not have been so naive, nor held that "noble" traits were inherently superior. It would not have saved him, ultimately, because the volcano would have taken him as it did all the others, but he would never have died to a veiled twoll.
Murdered by a twoll or murdered by a caster - surely the only thing that matters here is image? But I thought image shouldn't matter, because concern for image would be tied up with the kinds of traits that a commander shouldn't have.

Kreistor
2009-04-13, 05:02 PM
Change is a value-neutral quality. :smallsmile: Whether change is desirable or not depends on whether the original situation was good or bad and whether change makes it better or worse.

All of which are things we know or can reasonably predict. Change, in the context of warfare, is usually bad for the traditionalist and good for the revolutionary, because tradition is unaware of the new thing that must be dealt with. Sicne the Revolutionary kows the ways of the traditionalist, it can be predicted whther the change can be successful, and those new things that are expected to fail will nevr be attempted. Consequently, in warfare, change is always bad for those taht are not flexible.


Tradition is also a value-neutral quality. The word comes from a root meaning "that which is handed down." Of course, it seems sensible for people to only had down that which is proven to work well - so one may think that tradition is necessarily positive.[quote]

So, let's talk about the Aztecs and their traditions of human sacrifice, shall we? Or the European tradition of draining blood from the ill using leeches or blood letting.

Traditions are, invariably, bad. Since traditions are inherently based on the belief tha what came before is always good, regardless of why it was good, it can only be good if the context remains unchanged. Context does change, thus tradition becomes blind and inappropriate, without the self-knowledge that results in corrective action.

We have overcome most tradition in Western culture. There are still some mindless traditions adhered to. I was faced with this one when visiting France on business. We visited a restaurant, and I was surrounded by three french co-workers. The wine was brought to the table, poured into a glass by the waiter for the senior member, who sniffed and tasted, declared it good, and the wine was placed on the table. I waited, and realized that I was expeted to poiur, being the lowest ranked employee (non-sales, engineer). So, I got an approving glance when I picked up the bottle. And I poured, but a moment later all three started laughing at me. They told me I was pouring into the water glass. I responded, "I was taught that if you don't know the correct way to do something, look to what others have done. This is the same glass that the waiter poured into for you. Don't expect me to be embarrassed about making a mistake he already made."

"But that's the correct glass for checking the wine."

"So, here you have a tradition where the uninformed can never pour properly. Again, I will not be embarrassed by a tradition that is intentionally designed to make people look foolish that were raised in a different culture. The wine tastes the same no matter which glass it is in, so I don't care which glass it is in. Today, for not pouring your own wine and leaving it to the only person at the table that could not know the proper glass, you can drink it from the water glass. Next time, if you want to drink it from the wine glass, make sure to pour it yourselves so that it meets the expectation of your own culture, instead of expecting to get a laugh at someone else's expense."

Tradition can serve many purposes, not the least of which is embarrassing the uninitiated. But tradition, when adhered to blindly, with no explanation of why it became tradition, gives up reason in favour of the unknown. There are few traditions with known reasoning, and so few traditions can be corrected in the face of contextual change. That makes tradition a poor replacement for intelligence.

[quote]So, really, the positive virtue is neither change nor tradition, but wisdom: wisdom to discern what aspects of tradition are helpful, which should be kept, and which aspects are harmful, and should be abandoned in favour of something new.

But you are also ignoring many other aspects of the battlefield that can result in revolutionary tactics. These include, but aren't limited to, inspiration, intelligence, and luck. Rarly will battlefield commanders have time for wisdom, since they are in desperate straits, even when winning. Determining a winning tactic in the heat of battle is often the result of a thought with little time for consideration. Sometimes, like the Romans at Carthage, you have time to sit down and work out a new tactic that defeats an old tactic. But sometimes, you just have to improvise and hope the new idea works. Wisdom only applies if there is a certainty of success. We know now why the Pike Square defeats horse: only once in history was a horse able to overcome its fear and leap to its death onto the bayonettesand break a square. The horse simply wont' do it. Did the Swiss know this for fact? How much testing had they done? Were they expecting horse to turn away as they did, or die impaled on the pike? You can't know how a tactic wil work until it has been tested on teh battlefield, and trying somethign new and unproven is not the purview of wisdom, since failure can result in many deaths.


Actually, "character" (as a quality) tends to be taken as a synonym of "integrity," which I would have to regard as positive.

I was responding to another with that, and he was talking about Ansom acting in character. Stanley too. Character in this case is the type of person the character is, and that implies predictability of action. Ansom, as a traditionalist, will choose traditional tactics, for instance.


If you feel that to be the case, then I hope I never meet you on the battlefield. I think there are some paths to victory which cause far more damage at a human level than simply losing could do. You may win "at all costs" - but can you live with yourself, having done such things? Any element of life from which conscience is totally excluded loses its human dimension, and thus loses anything worth fighting for. It's a fool's game (though, unfortunately, we are fools far too often).

And so I win the battlefield, bloodlessly. You choose to retreat in face of my unlimited choice of action, and so I take the battlefield and the day without loss of life. That is, in the end, Sun Tzu's ideal: bloodless victory.

The battlefield extends far beyond the green hills that men fight on. The battlefield is also in the mind of the commanders and the politicians seeking victory. The mental battlefield is the most difficult to win on, because it is the most difficult to master, but a victory there can save the most lives. Like apparently I just did.

If in giving up my honour, I am able to win a victory that costs neither side a single life, have I truly lost anything? I would gladly trade my reputation to both win and save the lives of the victors and conquered. If I can win merely by putting you in fear of horrors, real or imagined, have I not won the greatest victory of all?

That is not what truly happens. Someone like you, fearful of absolute war, would never be allowed in a position of command. Ansom would never surrender in the face of nontraditional warfare in the way you would: he would fight against it traditionally thinking that tradition would prove superior, even as he lost. He felt that his traditional ways, not his grossly superior numbers, were defeating Parson. Such blindness lead to his downfall. Ansom needed a good ol' rearend-whipping by a solid, nontraditonal commander on a fair field of battle to dispell him of his foolish adherence to tradition, but he didn't get that, and thus was destroyed by his own pride.


Murdered by a twoll or murdered by a caster - surely the only thing that matters here is image? But I thought image shouldn't matter, because concern for image would be tied up with the kinds of traits that a commander shouldn't have.

This is predicated on hindsight -- the knowledge that Ansom would die anyway. When Ansom made his decision, he expected victory, and so did not make a decision between forms of death. He chose tradition and death over paranoia and life. As short as that life might have been, he still could have lived longer with a healthier dose of battlefield paranoia.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-04-13, 06:43 PM
See, now this sounds like someone who's been getting extra non-contracted for services out of non sales people for years. :)Funny, but not true. I've hired non-sales staff and informed them that a part of their job was communications. It's a trivial effort, and simply expected. Commissioning people for leads that pay off is completely fair. But if the door man or EE decide that sales is not their job and the company fails to win a potential service opportunity they heard about but failed to report up, they have only themselves to blame when they are laid off or the project ends and there are no further opportunities at this customer.
Also, your points make sense except when dealing with governments.No, my points make sense in all cases. I am currently on a contract for a large government agency. In a previous role on the same contract I was on a team providing security services, which was a field in a fledgling state when this contract began. The team was paid their salaries through the prime, and the equipment was paid for by requisition, but there was no formal contract and no profit in it until the contract was recently bid out and won. But had we not provided those services we would have been just another bid, rather than the incumbent with strong relationships. In a second example, the project is about to be turned over to a different company. They have worked without pay for over 3 years, and are still not very close to being able to cut over all services. Do they hope to reap a profit over the life of the contract? Of course they do. But if they fail to be certified all those man years of labor and thousands of dollars in equipment will be a huge hit to their balance sheet. But if they refused to do any work up front and pro-bono, certification for them or anyone else would simply be impossible.
Like I said, BillyJimBoBob has been very lucky in his contracts.And like I said, you make your own luck.

Estelindis
2009-04-13, 08:02 PM
let's talk about the Aztecs and their traditions of human sacrifice, shall we? Or the European tradition of draining blood from the ill using leeches or blood letting.

Traditions are, invariably, bad.
I'm sorry, but simply choosing to mention only bad traditions (or mentioning them totally out of context) does not mean that these are the only ones that exist. Such a point of view is unnuanced - it even fails to recognise that the language used to communicate it is part of a tradition.


And so I win the battlefield, bloodlessly. You choose to retreat in face of my unlimited choice of action, and so I take the battlefield and the day without loss of life. That is, in the end, Sun Tzu's ideal: bloodless victory.
I never said I would retreat. I said I hoped I would never have to fight you. There's a difference.

ishnar
2009-04-13, 08:40 PM
And so I win the battlefield, bloodlessly. You choose to retreat in face of my unlimited choice of action, and so I take the battlefield and the day without loss of life. That is, in the end, Sun Tzu's ideal: bloodless victory.

True that. If someone wants to meet you on the battlefield, then you've half failed already.

Estelindis
2009-04-13, 08:51 PM
If someone wants to meet you on the battlefield, then you've half failed already.
I agree. (Of course, the ratio may not be a perfect half... Nor may the failure be all one's own. But I think your point still stands.)

Kreistor
2009-04-13, 11:06 PM
I'm sorry, but simply choosing to mention only bad traditions (or mentioning them totally out of context) does not mean that these are the only ones that exist. Such a point of view is unnuanced - it even fails to recognise that the language used to communicate it is part of a tradition.

But you tell us that Tradition is value-neutral. Here are two specific cases where they are clearly not. Tradition is, invariably, good for the traditionalist, which is inherent in the traditionalist's belief structure. The Aztec believes that his gods would punish him for failure to abide by the required sacrifices: volcanos would erupt, the ground shake, and so forth. The medieval physician believed that bloodletting allowed the corrupt blood to exit the body, believing the good blood would remain inside. We, on the other hand, consider ourselves enlightened, and know that the Aztec believes as he does only because of an unprovable religious teaching, and the physician because he is incapable of the train of thought that allows him to know that he could test the theories of his teachings and prove them correct or not. They are traditionalists without the knowledge of what began their traditions, and so incapable of overcoming them. They are, then, doomed by tradition to kill, one for religion and one for health.

The only traditions that are good and acceptable are those that stand up to scutiny, and the act of scrutinizing ends the idea of the technique being traditional. Once scrutinized, we have broken the precept of tradition, that is believing as did our forefathers without question. For instance, some north american indian cultures used birchbark as a cure for pain, and we discovered it worked because we found ASA in the bark. But until the tradition is tested, it cannot be trusted, and by testing and determining the truth, it ceases to be a tradition. Explained, a tradition is modernized.


I never said I would retreat. I said I hoped I would never have to fight you. There's a difference.

Ah, but you are. Here and now. This may not be a battlefield of slaughter, but it is still one of mind. We duel with words, and I have created in you the idea that I am capable of great evil... enough that you desire to avoid facing me.

And, no, there is no difference. You now believe something of me that I wanted you to believe. I can use that against you. Whether I am capable of what you beliee is irrelevant: you now believe something of me that makes you wary in ways that I can use. You are, in a way, paranoid of my actions, and will read deper meaning into my actions than I intend. You do not know me, because you know something that is not accurate.

You see, you are right in that I am capable of anything. I am willing to attempt most any tactic; however, I am not capable of doing what you think of, only what I think of. That paranoia you feel will make you think of the worst possible things I might be planning, and by knowing I am capable of anything, you will believe that worst is what I am doing. I'm not, because I am not you: but you will need to alleviate your own fears by preparing for them. You will, then, waste efforts trying to deal with things I am not actually capable of.

Sun Tzu tells us to know ourselves and our opponent, and by believing that of me, you know me, but in the wrong way. Instead of learning how I truly think, I am become your worst nightmare, that which does the worst you can imagine to you. By the time you learn the truth of it, you will have defeated yourself, lost the trust of your men, and fallen to your own fear of what could never have happened.

Ansom never even tried to learn the ways of Parson. Convinced of the superiority of tradition, he needed no knowledg eof his opponent. Confusing the superiority of numbers with the superiority of moral fiber, he approached Parson as an inferior in thoguht, instead of an inferior in unit strength. Ansom was, inevitably, doomed, according to Sun Tzu, even had he survived and won GK. Some other day he would lack the numerical superiority while facing a superior, yet less noble, opponent, and be defeated by intelligence and creativity. Ansom simply never tried to learn the ways of the opposition, and so could not predict them. Vinnie knew so much better.

Estelindis
2009-04-14, 08:29 AM
But you tell us that Tradition is value-neutral. Here are two specific cases where they are clearly not.
You misunderstand. It is the content of a tradition - that is, what is handed down - that makes it good or bad. It isn't the fact that it is handed down that makes it good or bad. This is why tradition, in itself, as a concept, is value-neutral.

Examples of good traditions would be the various traditions of hospitality and care for the sick and injured that exist around the world. They would be good if they were old, and they would be good if they were new. Tradition is not the pivotal factor.

Similarly: if someone spontaneously decided that human sacrifice was a good idea, without ever having heard of it elsewhere, and this attitude was a radical change compared to what they had inherited from their society, that wouldn't make it good. It would be evil if it was new and evil if it was old. Change is not the pivotal factor.


The only traditions that are good and acceptable are those that stand up to scutiny, and the act of scrutinizing ends the idea of the technique being traditional. Once scrutinized, we have broken the precept of tradition, that is believing as did our forefathers without question.
Respect does not equal stupidity. In fact, from a certain point of view, it would be far more disrespectful to one's ancestors/teachers to be totally brainless and uncritical in accepting something without asking if it is right and good in the present context. Can a gift truly be received if it is not understood?


Ah, but you are. Here and now. This may not be a battlefield of slaughter, but it is still one of mind. We duel with words, and I have created in you the idea that I am capable of great evil... enough that you desire to avoid facing me.
Yes: I desire to avoid facing you in a bloodless internet discussion that poses no real danger to anyone so much that I'm not doing it right now.

Oh, wait.

Seriously, this web-warrior thing gets really old, really fast. When I am talking about actions in war that diminish people, I am talking of things like torture, murder of prisoners, and the like. Things that actually tarnish one's own humanity, even if they lead to a military victory. I am not especially inclined to believe that you are ever likely to engage in anything like this.



And, no, there is no difference. You now believe something of me that I wanted you to believe.
I sincerely doubt that what I believe of you is what you think I believe of you.


I can use that against you.
Oh please. Could you get any cheesier?

...

On second thoughts: no, don't answer that. However, if the Clichéd Villains' Speechwriters Guild is looking for members, then I suggest you sign right up.


Ansom never even tried to learn the ways of Parson. Convinced of the superiority of tradition, he needed no knowledg eof his opponent.
I agree with you here. But this was a mistake in Ansom's attitude to the specific traditions he had inherited. We need to realise that nothing of what we have received, and nothing of what we may think up ourselves, is the end of the story. There's always something to question, something more to discover.

To be fair, though, I feel that Ansom's initial mistakes when he didn't realise he was fighting Parson, but still thought he was fighting Stanley, were a bit more understandable. He was using what he had learned already about his enemy - he couldn't know that the situation had changed. The real problem was his unwillingness or his inability to move things to Parson's level once he realised that he did face a different foe. However, if "Parson's level" includes things like the volcano trick, it's debatable as to whether or not this is an action Ansom should have taken. Firstly, of course, at the practical level, something of that scale may never have been open to him as an option, so choice doesn't come into play. If it had, though, would he have refused because of moral factors? Or would he have regarded the end as justifying the means? Considering the fact that the meaning of life in Erfworld is somewhat difficult to pin down (not that it's easy in the real world either), there any too many variables here to really know either way.

As a quick side-note, though: Ansom's response to the doughnut of doom or to the dance fighting problem in Gobwin Knob does show an amount of creative thinking on the fly... So it's hardly as if he relied only on tradition.

Kreistor
2009-04-14, 09:41 AM
You misunderstand. It is the content of a tradition - that is, what is handed down - that makes it good or bad. It isn't the fact that it is handed down that makes it good or bad. This is why tradition, in itself, as a concept, is value-neutral.

When you try to use "tradition" as a means of expounding wisdom as a method of choosing battlefield tactics, you are not using the conceot of tradition in general. The word tradition may be value neutral, but the context of wisdom requires specific knowledge of the tradition in question, not tradition as concept. You can't have your cake and eat it too. If tradition as a word is value-neutral, that is irrelevant towards choosing between specific tactics.


Respect does not equal stupidity. In fact, from a certain point of view, it would be far more disrespectful to one's ancestors/teachers to be totally brainless and uncritical in accepting something without asking if it is right and good in the present context. Can a gift truly be received if it is not understood?

And Ansom lacked proper respect toward Parson. Look at Ansom (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0144.html). Where is there any respect here? Ansom lacks respect for the scope of Parson's thinking, believing any thoughts he is capable of are insufficient to overcome Ansom's traditional ways.

Respect for the true reality of a person's capabilities is not stupid. Respect only for those attributes you find positive is nothing more than ignorance.


Yes: I desire to avoid facing you in a bloodless internet discussion that poses no real danger to anyone so much that I'm not doing it right now.

Oh, bother. I messed up. I got two completely different arguments muddled together there. Foolish of me, really. I can explain it (not at home, different computer, less time to be careful), but that's no excuse. Yeah, that whole argument is completely wrong. Appologies.


To be fair, though, I feel that Ansom's initial mistakes when he didn't realise he was fighting Parson, but still thought he was fighting Stanley, were a bit more understandable.

Never underestimate anyone backed into a corner. Stanley has "strategy" as a weakness, but not "tactics". Ansom's ignorance of the power of the dark side could have lead him to defeat, even against Stanley. All Stanley needed was that same insight, "Explode the volcano," and willingness to lose a caster to the link, perhaps twice, and RCC dies in exactly the same way.


He was using what he had learned already about his enemy - he couldn't know that the situation had changed. The real problem was his unwillingness or his inability to move things to Parson's level once he realised that he did face a different foe.

Parson placed that challenge directly to him. "Royalty is obsolete." When he made tat statement, Anso was trapped. To prove Parson wrong, Ansom was requierd to remain the ultimate traditionalist. If Ansom strayed, Parson was proven correct, even if Ansom won. Parson controlled Ansom by insulting him.


However, if "Parson's level" includes things like the volcano trick, it's debatable as to whether or not this is an action Ansom should have taken. Firstly, of course, at the practical level, something of that scale may never have been open to him as an option, so choice doesn't come into play. If it had, though, would he have refused because of moral factors? Or would he have regarded the end as justifying the means? Considering the fact that the meaning of life in Erfworld is somewhat difficult to pin down (not that it's easy in the real world either), there any too many variables here to really know either way.

Parson's level also includes using casters in combat, a far simpler option. Ansom brought zero casters with him to RCC. He brought only mudane troops. Charlie provided all of the casting options. Ansom, even faced with casters killing his leadership, did not call on the RCC to provide a counter to th casting threat, relying further on mundane troops, increasing their losses.


As a quick side-note, though: Ansom's response to the doughnut of doom or to the dance fighting problem in Gobwin Knob does show an amount of creative thinking on the fly... So it's hardly as if he relied only on tradition.

I have had a serious problem with the dance-fighting solution. That is the one example, I think, of Parson facing a cheating enemy, and that is why it was the last solution we see from Ansom before his death. Yes, I agree that it did not seem traditional, and I can find no justification for it. Why was Wanda and Sizemore unaware that troops without dance-fighting could be lead in a dance fight? This was a surprise to them, too.

Inventing this idea on the fly is definitely not in Ansom's character, but if PArson is correct that the Titans would cheat to beat him, in the same way he would cheat his own players, then it was not Ansom himself that came up with the idea, and we are giving credit to the wrong entity. Ansom was, then, merely a tool of Ansom's true opponent and against any other enemy that tried this trick, he would not have solved the problem in the same way.

That is, of course, speculation. But if Ansom did invent that solution on the fly, it only goes to prove my side of the point. Ansom won, not through traditionalism, but through inspiration. It is ironic that when he returns to his normal mode of thinking he dies for it. Since he overcame the meatgrinder by not using traditional tactics, he had no proof that Royalty was inherently superior, since inspiration is not the sole purview of Royal blood. Any enlightened individual could do as he, and overcome any other, superior in stats or not. Ansom's rant towards the faux-Parson was unjustifiable by the evidence at hand.

GenocideAlive
2009-04-14, 10:49 AM
You misunderstand. It is the content of a tradition - that is, what is handed down - that makes it good or bad. It isn't the fact that it is handed down that makes it good or bad. This is why tradition, in itself, as a concept, is value-neutral.

Examples of good traditions would be the various traditions of hospitality and care for the sick and injured that exist around the world. They would be good if they were old, and they would be good if they were new. Tradition is not the pivotal factor.

Similarly: if someone spontaneously decided that human sacrifice was a good idea, without ever having heard of it elsewhere, and this attitude was a radical change compared to what they had inherited from their society, that wouldn't make it good. It would be evil if it was new and evil if it was old. Change is not the pivotal factor.
I handily support your observations regarding Web Warriors, I had a good smile at your point. That was certainly getting somewhat thick and melodramatic. Cheers.

I do, however, have a bit of contention with the quoted text. You say that tradition is value-neutral, then go on to say that the content of tradition is what gives it the relative value. I find this a little contradictory and silly. If something is of neutral value, it is not mutable. A tradition is to be accepted wholesale, based on traditional value; not on some posteriori based on an arbitrary standard of judgment.

For instance, you would more than likely label the African tradition of cutting off a female child's ****oris and labia majoralis to be "Evil" traditions. Some females practicing it would consider it simply a proud tradition.

If you would consider value-neutral to be a placeholder for a relative-goodness variable, you'd have to qualify the variable. What makes one tradition "good" while the other is "evil"?

HamsterOfTheGod
2009-04-14, 09:34 PM
I'm guessing the reason why people would dislike Ansom is his attitude that he's a better leader or warrior than his soldiers because of his royal blood. That may be an unfair assumption to make on his part, but the fact remains that he is still better at both. So while he may hold some prejudices, he's still justified in his confidence in his abilities. That makes his sin much more forgivable, IMO.

IMHO, an individual reader's reaction to Ansom, is more a judgment of the reader than of Ansom. Each of the leading Erf warlords in the comic, Ansom, Stanley, Jillian, Wanda is often strongly liked or disliked by a reader. Each is a a subverted stereotype. The reaction of a reader, I think, is based on the reaction of the reader to those (intentionally conflicting) stereotype.

For ex, both Ansom and Stanley think that they are better than other people, Ansom for his royal blood and Stanley because he's been picked by the Titans.

Often a hater of Ansom will cite Ansom's feeling of inferiority while at the same time liking Stanley despite Stanley's feeling of superiority. Said Ansom hater might even offer that Stanley is the Chosen of the Titans, a position said Ansom hater would not not normally take regarding "holier than though" characters.

Often a defender of Ansom will cite Stanley's fanatical zeal for Erf conquest while defending Ansom by pointing out Ansom's good points. Said Ansom lover might even state Ansom has a "right to rule" because that is the way of Erf even though said Anson lover would not normally defend elitist characters.

Aquillion
2009-04-15, 01:49 AM
As well as avenging a whole lot of attacks by Stanley. Unprovoked attacks. That were because Stanley believes himself to be the lord of everything. And Ansom may jump down on him especially hard becaus he's a nonruler, but he'd be there anyway.What's your evidence for this statement? Vinnie, who seems to have been Ansom's best friend and who probably knew him better than anyone else in the comic, clearly thought that Ansom would not be there leading the coalition if it weren't for the fact that Stanley was a nonroyal.

Also, Parson did not want to fire the volcano. He tried to tell the casters to just leave without doing it, and couldn't. In the end he did it because he was magically compelled to do everything that could possibly benefit his ruler. Note that we have no evidence that that was Stanley's desire, either -- it was just a quirk of the rules by which Parson happened to be governed.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-04-16, 01:34 AM
As for Ansom... Ansom's failure to overcome his own ego made him predictable. That allowed Parson to play him like a fiddle. A general that cannot overcome the weaknesses of tradition, character, and honour is doomed to lose to a general without such restrictions. What you seem to like about Ansom are the qualities that make him a horrible leader.
Uhhh, not quite.

Ansom is a pretty good leader. But that's balanced by the fact that he has to be a politician. And he is more the politician than he is a general. He does feel obligated for the people under him and represents their interests, even if his leadership is occassionally tainted by elitism and personal idiosyncratic sort of pride.

Parson is the "perfect warlord." You'll note the only people he felt obligated to save were the casters and himself. To defeat Ansom's coalition he burns down everything around him, including his own men-at-arms. Parson isn't inhibited by political duty. He's simply there to ply his trade and kill things with deadly efficiency.

Kreistor
2009-04-16, 10:40 PM
Ansom is a pretty good leader.

By Erfworld standards, yes, he probably is. But that doesn't change the fact that he's up against someone from a place where tradition has been revealed to be unacceptable. Parson tells us about their libraries. He has a difficult time finding boks about tactics, finding history books instead. What does this tell us about Erfworlders? They don't talk about generalship. There is no transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. There is no Sun Tzu's Art of War for them to learn from.

Ansom, then, is all he believes himself to be -- a natural leader. But natural leaders are limited by their own insights and inspirations. We know GK's library is full of history books, not treatises on strategy and tactics. A leader that is wise enough to study other good leaders in addition to using his own insight is far more powerful than one leading with ignorance of the thoughts of other great men. Parson comes from a culture of learning: we don't pop fully aware. We learn over years, and this is natural to us. Parson is stunned by how little is in the library of use to him.

As good a leader as Ansom is, he is fundamentally limited by the manner of his creation. What use does someone that is popped into existence with all the knowledge he'll ever need have for learning? What use are books to creatures that get better at their jobs merely by killing other people? When Leadership is a numerical stat, leading has little to do with thought.


But that's balanced by the fact that he has to be a politician.

And Parson does not? Look at one of his greatest concerns -- how does he deal with Stanley? Wanda tells him, because Parson needs to know fast. That is politics. Yes, Ansom has more factions to worry about, but let's not assume that Parson is a bad politician yet. He hasn't been in a situation where bing a bad politician would matter.


And he is more the politician than he is a general.

I greatly disagree with this. Ansom rules by right, and so does not need politics to maintain leadership over his troops. How does he hold RCC together? He orders them to attack GK. He acts like a general, not a politician when the chips are down. He demands obedience and gets it.


He does feel obligated for the people under him and represents their interests, even if his leadership is occassionally tainted by elitism and personal idiosyncratic sort of pride.

Really? Look at Bogroll. He wanted to die in Parson's service. You have to understand that the mindset of Erfworlders is alien to us. In Erfworld, life is cheap. It is bought and popped, with time investment measured in turns. Ansom's paladin-esque self-sacrifice is not wanted by at least some.


Parson is the "perfect warlord." You'll note the only people he felt obligated to save were the casters and himself.

He didn't even think he could save himself. He could save the casters because of the portal to the Magic Kingdom, which it is clear could save no one else. Parson didn't order all the units back to GK: Stanley did. Parson was handed the reins of a city that was surrounded with no way out, while under the compulsion of a spell that wouldn't let him order anyone out until he had exhausted all options. None of this is Parson's fault: when someone else is preventing you from choosing an option, it's not your fault that you can't take that option. You are faulting PArson for saving the only three people that could possibly be saved, and accusing him of selfishness for jumpinginto a portal that might have a) annihilated him, b) portaled him to a different world, c) portaled him to the Magic Kingdom. He was facing death, so he took a chance that he might not die. You would have us believe that after saying, "There's no place like home," the magic spell that sent Dorothy from Oz to Kansas, that Parson expected to land in the Magic Kingdom?


To defeat Ansom's coalition he burns down everything around him, including his own men-at-arms. Parson isn't inhibited by political duty. He's simply there to ply his trade and kill things with deadly efficiency.

Hold it right there. Who is responsible for bringing down the volcano (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0147.html)? Let me see... he tries to send the casters through to the MK, and they decline because he can't order them. Not "won't", "can't". It was impossible for Parson to order them out and prevent the volcano spell. You aren't responsbile for obeying a compulsion it is impossible to resist. We don't have to deal with that in our reality very often -- magic can do things we can't, and compulsion is one of them. Look up some PoW stories for good examples of how we don't punish people that have no choice. Any one of those casters, once they heard the plan, could have chosen to disobey orders. They could easily justify that destroying Gobwin Knob was not in the best interest of Stanley, if they really wanted to justify it to themselves. The only one that literally could not betray Stanley at risk of annihilation was Parson, who is told the spell that summoned him would destroy him for disobedience.

Parson may not be inhibited by political duty, but we have seen him arranging deals, or at least trying to. Parson does nto fear the political arena, it's just so far he has been in no position to interact at that level with many sides. RCC was coming to annihilate Stanley, and there's not much politics can do to stop that kind of decision. Let's make sure that the correct people get blamed for the correct tings, here: Parson did not create the situation that GK is in. That responsibility lies with Stanley. Stanley's intractibility and megalomania created a situation where politics had become irrelevant, not Parson's inabilities.

In fact, if you think Parson incapable of politics, I suggest never playing with someone like him. Parson plays the mental game against the opponent. Parson knows how from playing games, and games like Diplomacy teach politics. Do you really think Parson hasn't read Machiavelli (which reminds me that I have some reading to do...)? Sun Tzu contains many suggestions of how to win politically, as well as militarily. The battlefield of the mind requires insight into human motivations, and that is inherently a political subject.

SteveMB
2009-04-17, 08:27 AM
Parson may not be inhibited by political duty, but we have seen him arranging deals, or at least trying to. Parson does not fear the political arena, it's just so far he has been in no position to interact at that level with many sides. RCC was coming to annihilate Stanley, and there's not much politics can do to stop that kind of decision. Let's make sure that the correct people get blamed for the correct tings, here: Parson did not create the situation that GK is in. That responsibility lies with Stanley. Stanley's intractibility and megalomania created a situation where politics had become irrelevant, not Parson's inabilities.

And Parson does make an attempt to politically weaken the coalition, and even has some limited success (provoking Ansom to throw a public hissy fit in front of his allies, which seems to have contributed to growing doubts about his leadership). It turned out to be irrelevant in the end, but it was a good try.

FalconPunch
2009-04-18, 09:32 PM
By Erfworld standards, yes, he probably is. But that doesn't change the fact that he's up against someone from a place where tradition has been revealed to be unacceptable. Parson tells us about their libraries. He has a difficult time finding boks about tactics, finding history books instead. What does this tell us about Erfworlders? They don't talk about generalship. There is no transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. There is no Sun Tzu's Art of War for them to learn from.

Ansom, then, is all he believes himself to be -- a natural leader. But natural leaders are limited by their own insights and inspirations. We know GK's library is full of history books, not treatises on strategy and tactics. A leader that is wise enough to study other good leaders in addition to using his own insight is far more powerful than one leading with ignorance of the thoughts of other great men. Parson comes from a culture of learning: we don't pop fully aware. We learn over years, and this is natural to us. Parson is stunned by how little is in the library of use to him.

As good a leader as Ansom is, he is fundamentally limited by the manner of his creation. What use does someone that is popped into existence with all the knowledge he'll ever need have for learning? What use are books to creatures that get better at their jobs merely by killing other people? When Leadership is a numerical stat, leading has little to do with thought.

And Parson does not? Look at one of his greatest concerns -- how does he deal with Stanley? Wanda tells him, because Parson needs to know fast. That is politics. Yes, Ansom has more factions to worry about, but let's not assume that Parson is a bad politician yet. He hasn't been in a situation where bing a bad politician would matter.



I greatly disagree with this. Ansom rules by right, and so does not need politics to maintain leadership over his troops. How does he hold RCC together? He orders them to attack GK. He acts like a general, not a politician when the chips are down. He demands obedience and gets it.



Really? Look at Bogroll. He wanted to die in Parson's service. You have to understand that the mindset of Erfworlders is alien to us. In Erfworld, life is cheap. It is bought and popped, with time investment in turns. Ansom's paladin-esque self-sacrifice is not wanted by at lemeasured ast some.



He didn't even think he could save himself. He could save the casters because of the portal to the Magic Kingdom, which it is clear could save no one else. Parson didn't order all the units back to GK: Stanley did. Parson was handed the reins of a city that was surrounded with no way out, while under the compulsion of a spell that wouldn't let him order anyone out until he had exhausted all options. None of this is Parson's fault: when someone else is preventing you from choosing an option, it's not your fault that you can't take that option. You are faulting PArson for saving the only three people that could possibly be saved, and accusing him of selfishness for jumpinginto a portal that might have a) annihilated him, b) portaled him to a different world, c) portaled him to the Magic Kingdom. He was facing death, so he took a chance that he might not die. You would have us believe that after saying, "There's no place like home," the magic spell that sent Dorothy from Oz to Kansas, that Parson expected to land in the Magic Kingdom?



Hold it right there. Who is responsible for bringing down the volcano (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0147.html)? Let me see... he tries to send the casters through to the MK, and they decline because he can't order them. Not "won't", "can't". It was impossible for Parson to order them out and prevent the volcano spell. You aren't responsbile for obeying a compulsion it is impossible to resist. We don't have to deal with that in our reality very often -- magic can do things we can't, and compulsion is one of them. Look up some PoW stories for good examples of how we don't punish people that have no choice. Any one of those casters, once they heard the plan, could have chosen to disobey orders. They could easily justify that destroying Gobwin Knob was not in the best interest of Stanley, if they really wanted to justify it to themselves. The only one that literally could not betray Stanley at risk of annihilation was Parson, who is told the spell that summoned him would destroy him for disobedience.

Parson may not be inhibited by political duty, but we have seen him arranging deals, or at least trying to. Parson does nto fear the political arena, it's just so far he has been in no position to interact at that level with many sides. RCC was coming to annihilate Stanley, and there's not much politics can do to stop that kind of decision. Let's make sure that the correct people get blamed for the correct tings, here: Parson did not create the situation that GK is in. That responsibility lies with Stanley. Stanley's intractibility and megalomania created a situation where politics had become irrelevant, not Parson's inabilities.

In fact, if you think Parson incapable of politics, I suggest never playing with someone like him. Parson plays the mental game against the opponent. Parson knows how from playing games, and games like Diplomacy teach politics. Do you really think Parson hasn't read Machiavelli (which reminds me that I have some reading to do...)? Sun Tzu contains many suggestions of how to win politically, as well as militarily. The battlefield of the mind requires insight into human motivations, and that is inherently a political subject.

All of this could be well and true but it only adds to my argument that Parson is far less likeable than Ansom.

Ansom is a flawed and arrogant, not the smartest man on the field but certainly the bravest and ultimately well-meaning.

Parson is perfect. He's kind-hearted, introspective, intelligent, courageous in his own right and confident in his abilities to get the job done. I can tell his character is meant to inspire pity and admiration; the guy is stuck on his own in the middle of nowhere and rises to the occasion, fixing a mess created by lesser mortals.

Parson's appearance on Erfworld is almost Christlike, he drops out of the sky and performs miracles, rapidly becoming a shaker and mover without any real character flaws.

I find this boring. The comic, particularly after the Grand Abbie tells Sizemore to 'follow and obey' Parson has begun to smack of every nerd's wet dream of having powerful forces to hero-worship them. To me, Parson seems less and less capable of being defeated as his skills as a tactician are revealed. I'm sure that eventually he'll be caught in a trap or something, but what we can both agree on is that Parson is from Earth, his culture is superior to the Erfworlder's in terms of learning and he therefore possesses a natural advantage.

Getting into the psychology of that a little bit, this sort of sickens me. Because its made clear that on Earth, Parson isn't the most social or the most powerful guy around. He's a geek. When he's brought to Erf, he's placed in direct opposition to Prince Ansom, who's drawn out a bit to be a representation of the jock who may or may not have pushed him around in high school. Parson defeats Ansom despite impossible odds in violent confrontation and essentially takes his place as the most respected warlord in the sector, and is now getting ready for more adventures.

I can't respect the character of Parson because of the hypocrisies the character represents. People criticize Ansom for taking charge and leading under the assumption that others should but Parson is shaping up to be much the same. Ansom was popped a leader. Parson was summoned a leader. They're pretty much both within their rights to be bossing people around and expecting to be in charge ... but for some reason people are a lot more supportive of Parson. Because he's more intelligent? He's more capable? That's boring. I prefer rooting for the underdog, or at least a character who has a demon perched beside one ear or an angel perched beside the other.

The comic is starting to remind me a bit too much of Revenge of the Nerds and its losing a lot of its whimsical humor and taking on a serious tone that doesn't suit it at all, particularly when a ludicrously unrealistic character like Parson is in charge.

Aquillion
2009-04-18, 11:04 PM
I can't respect the character of Parson because of the hypocrisies the character represents. People criticize Ansom for taking charge and leading under the assumption that others should but Parson is shaping up to be much the same. Ansom was popped a leader. Parson was summoned a leader. They're pretty much both within their rights to be bossing people around and expecting to be in charge ... but for some reason people are a lot more supportive of Parson. Because he's more intelligent? He's more capable? That's boring. I prefer rooting for the underdog, or at least a character who has a demon perched beside one ear or an angel perched beside the other.First of all, you're attacking strawmen about why people criticize Ansom.

Nobody criticizes Ansom for leading. They criticize him for claiming that nobody else is fit to lead (or, at least, that nobody without royal blood is fit to lead.) "I am directly descended from those the Titans chose to rule. I am stronger, smarter, and more morally fit than those of lesser station! It is my privilege, and my burden, to lead both man and beast!" (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0101.html) If you don't find that statement reprehensible, then you're coming from a very different place than most of the people on this board. Even Ansom's allies in Erfworld were bothered by it.

Is there more to Ansom than that? Sure, he's not just some two-dimensional monster. But his political beliefs are, when you get down to it, grotesque to anyone with a modern mindset from our world.

Parson is different. He doesn't claim that being smarter gives him the right to rule anyone (and, obviously, he doesn't claim to be stronger or more "morally fit" at all.) He doesn't really think he's all that great or that he should be in charge; in fact, he thinks it's all a big boop-up (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0035.html). To the extent that he gives people orders, it is because he was forced into his situation, and because he is better at (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0154.html) killing people (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0129.html). He certainly does not claim this as a heroic attribute. He never claims it's "within his rights" to be bossing anyone around (whatever that means, it certainly isn't true for him); he just does it because winning games like this is what he's good at, and people like Janis and Stanley put him in charge because that's what he's good at.

That is very, very different from claiming a universal mandate to rule everyone because you are more "morally fit" than them. Is Parson a better person than Ansom? I don't know. But he is a more honest person, and that's what readers like about him. He understands that his power is just a matter of random chance and arbitrary capabilities, a "colossal boop-up" that happened to put him in charge. He doesn't claim that being good at strategy games makes him "more morally fit" than anyone, or even more fit to be their leader at anything other than wargame-style military strategy.

Ansom claims, essentially, that being a better leader in a wargame makes him a better person than you; and that view is, honestly, reprehensible. That is why people dislike Ansom. (Well, it's probably not the real reason, but I'll get to that in a bit.)


Ansom is a flawed and arrogant, not the smartest man on the field but certainly the bravest and ultimately well-meaning.

Parson is perfect. He's kind-hearted, introspective, intelligent, courageous in his own right and confident in his abilities to get the job done. I can tell his character is meant to inspire pity and admiration; the guy is stuck on his own in the middle of nowhere and rises to the occasion, fixing a mess created by lesser mortals.Bull. Ansom is the shining-radient-perfect-hero type. Even his flaw of pride is heroic. The main reason people hated Ansom (up until he died) was because he kept getting fantastic breaks, adapting strategies at the last minute and escaping from everything -- until he died, many people claimed he had Mary Sue plot protection (honestly, this probably has more to do with why he was hated than anything else. Nobody likes the guy who wins every time; it's dull. After he died, aside from this thread people stopped posting about him, because, you know, dead.)

Parson is not confident -- he thinks he's the wrong person for the job, and his klogs reveal a severe lack of confidence in his own abilities. He often thinks that he's doomed or is going to die. He can be petty and hypocritical (YOU YOURSELF have attacked him for that) -- why did he need to kill Ansom? What difference did it make? He said himself that he felt the need to do it, quite aside from any other compulsion.

Your arguments don't make any sense; they just spin in circles. You attack Parson for being flawed and imperfect, then you hate him for being too wonderful and perfect. You love Ansom for his imperfections, then you love him for being a wonderful great shining perfect leader. The main purpose of your post seems to be to attack people for liking Parson over Ansom because Parson = Geek and Ansom = Jock, but honestly, that's just you projecting your own obsessions on the story. It isn't really there. It doesn't have anything to do with anything. The comic is telling a complicated story about Parson coming to terms with his role and the consequences of his decisions, and you're complaining about geeks and jocks. It's... disconnected, to the point that most of the other people in this thread haven't really bothered to answer your main argument (and that is your main argument.) Who cares? Ansom's purpose in the story, ultimately, was to be killed by Parson for questionable reasons by questionable means, setting up tension for the second act.

Mostly people hated Ansom because he kept randomly winning, and as long as he kept randomly winning they felt like the story wasn't going anywhere. (I didn't agree with that, but that's by far the main complaint people had about him.) Then he died. The end.

You think that Parson killed him in an immoral fashion, for immoral reasons? You think that Parson simply threw a tantrum and killed a bunch of people because he couldn't win? Those interpretations are not completely wrong. The story leaves room for them. You like imperfect characters, right? Why don't you like Parson? By your own description, you damn well think he's imperfect, and you've described a pretty big nasty demon on his shoulder making him do all those things.

I'll tell you why; it's not hard to guess, with all that talk of "nerds" and "jocks". You like Ansom because his flaws are flowery, fanciful, knights-and-dragons flaws. You hate Parson because his flaws remind you of you.

ishnar
2009-04-19, 12:15 AM
First of all, you're attacking strawmen about why people criticize Ansom.


The abridged version of your long post :P

I agree with all your other points too.

FalconPunch
2009-04-19, 12:44 AM
First of all, you're attacking strawmen about why people criticize Ansom.

Nobody criticizes Ansom for leading. They criticize him for claiming that nobody else is fit to lead (or, at least, that nobody without royal blood is fit to lead.) "I am directly descended from those the Titans chose to rule. I am stronger, smarter, and more morally fit than those of lesser station! It is my privilege, and my burden, to lead both man and beast!" (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0101.html) If you don't find that statement reprehensible, then you're coming from a very different place than most of the people on this board. Even Ansom's allies in Erfworld were bothered by it.

Is there more to Ansom than that? Sure, he's not just some two-dimensional monster. But his political beliefs are, when you get down to it, grotesque to anyone with a modern mindset from our world.

Parson is different. He doesn't claim that being smarter gives him the right to rule anyone (and, obviously, he doesn't claim to be stronger or more "morally fit" at all.) He doesn't really think he's all that great or that he should be in charge; in fact, he thinks it's all a big boop-up (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0035.html). To the extent that he gives people orders, it is because he was forced into his situation, and because he is better at (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0154.html) killing people (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0129.html). He certainly does not claim this as a heroic attribute. He never claims it's "within his rights" to be bossing anyone around (whatever that means, it certainly isn't true for him); he just does it because winning games like this is what he's good at, and people like Janis and Stanley put him in charge because that's what he's good at.

That is very, very different from claiming a universal mandate to rule everyone because you are more "morally fit" than them. Is Parson a better person than Ansom? I don't know. But he is a more honest person, and that's what readers like about him. He understands that his power is just a matter of random chance and arbitrary capabilities, a "colossal boop-up" that happened to put him in charge. He doesn't claim that being good at strategy games makes him "more morally fit" than anyone, or even more fit to be their leader at anything other than wargame-style military strategy.

Ansom claims, essentially, that being a better leader in a wargame makes him a better person than you; and that view is, honestly, reprehensible. That is why people dislike Ansom. (Well, it's probably not the real reason, but I'll get to that in a bit.)

Bull. Ansom is the shining-radient-perfect-hero type. Even his flaw of pride is heroic. The main reason people hated Ansom (up until he died) was because he kept getting fantastic breaks, adapting strategies at the last minute and escaping from everything -- until he died, many people claimed he had Mary Sue plot protection (honestly, this probably has more to do with why he was hated than anything else. Nobody likes the guy who wins every time; it's dull. After he died, aside from this thread people stopped posting about him, because, you know, dead.)

Parson is not confident -- he thinks he's the wrong person for the job, and his klogs reveal a severe lack of confidence in his own abilities. He often thinks that he's doomed or is going to die. He can be petty and hypocritical (YOU YOURSELF have attacked him for that) -- why did he need to kill Ansom? What difference did it make? He said himself that he felt the need to do it, quite aside from any other compulsion.

Your arguments don't make any sense; they just spin in circles. You attack Parson for being flawed and imperfect, then you hate him for being too wonderful and perfect. You love Ansom for his imperfections, then you love him for being a wonderful great shining perfect leader. The main purpose of your post seems to be to attack people for liking Parson over Ansom because Parson = Geek and Ansom = Jock, but honestly, that's just you projecting your own obsessions on the story. It isn't really there. It doesn't have anything to do with anything. The comic is telling a complicated story about Parson coming to terms with his role and the consequences of his decisions, and you're complaining about geeks and jocks. It's... disconnected, to the point that most of the other people in this thread haven't really bothered to answer your main argument (and that is your main argument.) Who cares? Ansom's purpose in the story, ultimately, was to be killed by Parson for questionable reasons by questionable means, setting up tension for the second act.

Mostly people hated Ansom because he kept randomly winning, and as long as he kept randomly winning they felt like the story wasn't going anywhere. (I didn't agree with that, but that's by far the main complaint people had about him.) Then he died. The end.

You think that Parson killed him in an immoral fashion, for immoral reasons? You think that Parson simply threw a tantrum and killed a bunch of people because he couldn't win? Those interpretations are not completely wrong. The story leaves room for them. You like imperfect characters, right? Why don't you like Parson? By your own description, you damn well think he's imperfect, and you've described a pretty big nasty demon on his shoulder making him do all those things.

I'll tell you why; it's not hard to guess, with all that talk of "nerds" and "jocks". You like Ansom because his flaws are flowery, fanciful, knights-and-dragons flaws. You hate Parson because his flaws remind you of you.

Starting from the bottom but whoa, let's lay off the assumptions. I probably stereotyped a bit more than I should have in my last post, but lets not assume anything about my personal background. I'm not the kind of person who likes to put labels like 'jock' or 'nerd' on people, I don't think people are as simple as that and the environment I grew up in never fostered that. I was simply drawing parallels to a character that I feel has been built more to glorify a d&d lifestyle than to bridge a connection between the real and the Erf. My apologies if I offended anyone.




Parson is different. He doesn't claim that being smarter gives him the right to rule anyone (and, obviously, he doesn't claim to be stronger or more "morally fit" at all.) He doesn't really think he's all that great or that he should be in charge; in fact, he thinks it's all a big boop-up. To the extent that he gives people orders, it is because he was forced into his situation, and because he is better at killing people. He certainly does not claim this as a heroic attribute. He never claims it's "within his rights" to be bossing anyone around (whatever that means, it certainly isn't true for him); he just does it because winning games like this is what he's good at, and people like Janis and Stanley put him in charge because that's what he's good at.


Right but this isn't my point. I'm not saying Parson is arrogant or that Ansom is even a good guy, but that characters such as Ansom are often accused of being boring or two-dimensional when there's a strong argument out there for why they're more human than protagonists such as Parson.

Since we're talking about me now, I have seen power go to peoples' heads in a manner of minutes. I've watched friendships basically fall apart hours after someone gains some sort of advantage over the other. It's in our natures to try to get ahead and yes, I find it morally reprehensible.

However, Ansom was one of the better cases I've seen represented of what power does to a basically good person, when you don't have to take anyone's counsel but your own and don't have to listen to anyone but still care about what happens to your allies and friends. It sort of creeps into your head and you just convince yourself you're right, and then the next thing you know when someone's contradicting you you're all fire and brimstone without even realizing it. Often, that shuts them up. Nobody gets on your case about it, and you just go on thinking you did the right thing. That's why I can sympathize with characters like Ansom because they're very much alone and look like pricks to everyone else, because honestly, people are jealous. They wish they could be that, and let themselves think they could do a better job...

Which is why a character like Parson, who possesses these really amazing traits (Situational leadership, tactical skill, enough confidence to try something like blowing up a volcano and making the big risks, empathy and kindheartedness) that are supposed to line up into this really likable character just falls flat for me. I'm not exactly sure why but either I'm sick of Hollywood or I have problems finding him realistic, because essentially he is too good. And it's not because his flaws remind me of mine, so no more personal attacks please.

Kreistor
2009-04-19, 01:04 AM
All of this could be well and true but it only adds to my argument that Parson is far less likeable than Ansom.

Ansom is a flawed and arrogant, not the smartest man on the field but certainly the bravest and ultimately well-meaning.

Parson is perfect. He's kind-hearted, introspective, intelligent, courageous in his own right and confident in his abilities to get the job done. I can tell his character is meant to inspire pity and admiration; the guy is stuck on his own in the middle of nowhere and rises to the occasion, fixing a mess created by lesser mortals.

Parson's appearance on Erfworld is almost Christlike, he drops out of the sky and performs miracles, rapidly becoming a shaker and mover without any real character flaws.

I find this boring. The comic, particularly after the Grand Abbie tells Sizemore to 'follow and obey' Parson has begun to smack of every nerd's wet dream of having powerful forces to hero-worship them. To me, Parson seems less and less capable of being defeated as his skills as a tactician are revealed. I'm sure that eventually he'll be caught in a trap or something, but what we can both agree on is that Parson is from Earth, his culture is superior to the Erfworlder's in terms of learning and he therefore possesses a natural advantage.

Getting into the psychology of that a little bit, this sort of sickens me. Because its made clear that on Earth, Parson isn't the most social or the most powerful guy around. He's a geek. When he's brought to Erf, he's placed in direct opposition to Prince Ansom, who's drawn out a bit to be a representation of the jock who may or may not have pushed him around in high school. Parson defeats Ansom despite impossible odds in violent confrontation and essentially takes his place as the most respected warlord in the sector, and is now getting ready for more adventures.

I can't respect the character of Parson because of the hypocrisies the character represents. People criticize Ansom for taking charge and leading under the assumption that others should but Parson is shaping up to be much the same. Ansom was popped a leader. Parson was summoned a leader. They're pretty much both within their rights to be bossing people around and expecting to be in charge ... but for some reason people are a lot more supportive of Parson. Because he's more intelligent? He's more capable? That's boring. I prefer rooting for the underdog, or at least a character who has a demon perched beside one ear or an angel perched beside the other.

The comic is starting to remind me a bit too much of Revenge of the Nerds and its losing a lot of its whimsical humor and taking on a serious tone that doesn't suit it at all, particularly when a ludicrously unrealistic character like Parson is in charge.

I look forward to answering this.

Tomorrow.

G'night.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-04-19, 06:14 PM
Oy. I feel like my point was completely missed about Ansom being a good leader. There's something clumsy about my post being smashed by several paragraphs of exhaustive explanation.

In any case, my view really isn't that Ansom is underappreciated. I feel he served just exactly the right purpose for the story. People don't die long dramatic deaths in wars.

I'm arguing the semantics of whether he's a good leader and I think he qualifies. He cares about the lives of the men under him. His reasons for believing in his "moral and intellectual fitness" are completely backhanded, yes, but that's irrelevant. He often puts himself at risk since he feels obligated to preserve a maximum number of lives.

Whether Parson is actually could be blamed for the death of his men-at-arms is also completely irrelevant. His job is to be the "perfect warlord." Yes, he does have to play politics, but this isn't for the same reasons that Ansom plays that game. He does it as a continuation of the objectives of the war, while Ansom cares about his wider social obligations as royalty. Parson is a general. Ansom is a diplomat and career politician who happens to be at war. Ansom is about keeping people mollified and smoothing ruffled feathers to gather resources. Parson is about wielding those resources with deadly efficacy, with political foibles being just another weakness to be exploited.

I also find it really hard to believe that Parson genuinely cares that much for the various goblinoid creatures that are under his command. Parson isn't there to represent the interests of the goblin tribe. He's there almost exclusively as wargamer coerced into service. His leadership is almost exclusively limited to the survival of his inner-circle and nothing else. Whether he is to blame for this is completely irrelevant.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-04-21, 03:19 PM
Parson tells us about their libraries. He has a difficult time finding boks about tactics, finding history books instead. What does this tell us about Erfworlders? They don't talk about generalship. There is no transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. There is no Sun Tzu's Art of War for them to learn from.The issue here isn't that the Erfworlders do not have a transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. They do. The issue is that they have no great need to write a book on tactics, since they pop with a knowledge of the rules. Unlike a freshly minted second lieutenant in our world, they don't need to learn the order of battle for their side. There is no boot camp or OCS on Erf. I'd be real curious to learn how far back their histories go, as by now they should have had a Sun Tsu figure. Non-conventional tactics would be the things to write about. The rules are the rules, and both Vinny and Ansom grasped exactly how screwed they had been by Parson's hit and run tactics after Vinny was musing about how much damage a pile of dwagons should have been able to do to their forces on the road. But it shouldn't have been a surprise to them at all. They know the rules, they are playing the game, they have been playing the game since they were popped. Parsons hit and run tactic should not have been a surprise.
Yes, Ansom has more factions to worry about, but let's not assume that Parson is a bad politician yet. He hasn't been in a situation where bing a bad politician would matter.
[...]
Parson may not be inhibited by political duty, but we have seen him arranging deals, or at least trying to. Parson does nto fear the political arena, it's just so far he has been in no position to interact at that level with many sides. RCC was coming to annihilate Stanley, and there's not much politics can do to stop that kind of decision. Let's make sure that the correct people get blamed for the correct tings, here: Parson did not create the situation that GK is in. That responsibility lies with Stanley. Stanley's intractibility and megalomania created a situation where politics had become irrelevant, not Parson's inabilities.

In fact, if you think Parson incapable of politics, I suggest never playing with someone like him. Parson plays the mental game against the opponent. Parson knows how from playing games, and games like Diplomacy teach politics. Do you really think Parson hasn't read Machiavelli (which reminds me that I have some reading to do...)? Sun Tzu contains many suggestions of how to win politically, as well as militarily. The battlefield of the mind requires insight into human motivations, and that is inherently a political subject.I agree with you. More, I'd say that Parson is an excellent politician, or at least has the knowledge base and attitude to support that excellence. Remember when he was told that Stanley would not deal with Charlie due to a personal dislike for him? He said something like "You gotta forget about that boop when your boop is on the line." The ability to speak to someone whom you dislike and try to find a common ground with them or form an agreement with them is the heart of being a good politician. And, had Maggy had the "juice" for more thinkagrams, Parson was going to speak with the leaders of every side in the RCC, just probing for a way to turn a political conversation into a battlefield advantage. He had to settle for only speaking to Ansom, but even that worked for him to a small degree.
Look at Bogroll. He wanted to die in Parson's service.Minor correction: If you're referring to Bogroll's greatest wish, it was to save Parson's life. I don't recall Bogroll ever saying he wanted to die for Parson.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-04-21, 04:04 PM
Whether Parson is actually could be blamed for the death of his men-at-arms is also completely irrelevant. His job is to be the "perfect warlord." Yes, he does have to play politics, but this isn't for the same reasons that Ansom plays that game. He does it as a continuation of the objectives of the war, while Ansom cares about his wider social obligations as royalty. Parson is a general. Ansom is a diplomat and career politician who happens to be at war. Ansom is about keeping people mollified and smoothing ruffled feathers to gather resources. Parson is about wielding those resources with deadly efficacy, with political foibles being just another weakness to be exploited.

I also find it really hard to believe that Parson genuinely cares that much for the various goblinoid creatures that are under his command. Parson isn't there to represent the interests of the goblin tribe. He's there almost exclusively as wargamer coerced into service. His leadership is almost exclusively limited to the survival of his inner-circle and nothing else. Whether he is to blame for this is completely irrelevant.This seems to be an accurate assessment of those points on Parson and Ansom on which you speak. I was amused then Aquillon said that Ansom was a Mary Sue type, when its Parson who is far more the type. Take a close look at Parson:

Aside from a few musings on his sanity or possible stroke, took the summons to Erf completely in stride;

Learns the combat rules of Erfworld fast enough to find tactics which were surprising for seasoned combat veterans on both his own side and on the RCC side;

Makes friends easily, amongst both rank and file and the leadership;

Never asked what was in it for him, just did his job as he saw it. Not a character trait many in this world possess, most would have sought whatever advantage they could get after being made Chief Warlord;
Hard worker, to the point where he inadvertently disrupted Misty and kept Maggy up past her bed time;

Never let emotion slow him down. Expressed it briefly and then moved right along with adapting to whatever issue caused him to emote;

Strong communicator, drawing information out of the leadership cadre of GK and approaching both Charlie and Ansom with the right mind set to pique their interests or play to their weaknesses;

Not unfeeling, introspective about causing casualties. But kills without showing fear when it is needed of him using either battlefield tactics or personally;

Not overconfident, expresses self doubt and never lords his position over anyone;

Able to enter a magical area barred to anyone else not a caster;

"Special."

This list could be longer, but I think it makes the point. Parson is pretty much perfect by any definition. Not a stone cold killer, but able to do what is necessary without flinching. Not afraid ever, but also never overconfident or a jerk to those around him. Personable and charismatic. An innovator in battle in a setting made for battle. Special in many other ways. This is just about the dictionary definition of a Mary Sue character.

FalconPunch
2009-04-21, 09:03 PM
This seems to be an accurate assessment of those points on Parson and Ansom on which you speak. I was amused then Aquillon said that Ansom was a Mary Sue type, when its Parson who is far more the type. Take a close look at Parson:

Aside from a few musings on his sanity or possible stroke, took the summons to Erf completely in stride;

Learns the combat rules of Erfworld fast enough to find tactics which were surprising for seasoned combat veterans on both his own side and on the RCC side;

Makes friends easily, amongst both rank and file and the leadership;

Never asked what was in it for him, just did his job as he saw it. Not a character trait many in this world possess, most would have sought whatever advantage they could get after being made Chief Warlord;
Hard worker, to the point where he inadvertently disrupted Misty and kept Maggy up past her bed time;

Never let emotion slow him down. Expressed it briefly and then moved right along with adapting to whatever issue caused him to emote;

Strong communicator, drawing information out of the leadership cadre of GK and approaching both Charlie and Ansom with the right mind set to pique their interests or play to their weaknesses;

Not unfeeling, introspective about causing casualties. But kills without showing fear when it is needed of him using either battlefield tactics or personally;

Not overconfident, expresses self doubt and never lords his position over anyone;

Able to enter a magical area barred to anyone else not a caster;

"Special."

This list could be longer, but I think it makes the point. Parson is pretty much perfect by any definition. Not a stone cold killer, but able to do what is necessary without flinching. Not afraid ever, but also never overconfident or a jerk to those around him. Personable and charismatic. An innovator in battle in a setting made for battle. Special in many other ways. This is just about the dictionary definition of a Mary Sue character.

^^^^^^ This. He is boring.

Kholdstare
2009-04-21, 10:00 PM
This seems to be an accurate assessment of those points on Parson and Ansom on which you speak. I was amused then Aquillon said that Ansom was a Mary Sue type, when its Parson who is far more the type. Take a close look at Parson:

Aside from a few musings on his sanity or possible stroke, took the summons to Erf completely in stride;

Learns the combat rules of Erfworld fast enough to find tactics which were surprising for seasoned combat veterans on both his own side and on the RCC side;

Makes friends easily, amongst both rank and file and the leadership;

Never asked what was in it for him, just did his job as he saw it. Not a character trait many in this world possess, most would have sought whatever advantage they could get after being made Chief Warlord;
Hard worker, to the point where he inadvertently disrupted Misty and kept Maggy up past her bed time;

Never let emotion slow him down. Expressed it briefly and then moved right along with adapting to whatever issue caused him to emote;

Strong communicator, drawing information out of the leadership cadre of GK and approaching both Charlie and Ansom with the right mind set to pique their interests or play to their weaknesses;

Not unfeeling, introspective about causing casualties. But kills without showing fear when it is needed of him using either battlefield tactics or personally;

Not overconfident, expresses self doubt and never lords his position over anyone;

Able to enter a magical area barred to anyone else not a caster;

"Special."

This list could be longer, but I think it makes the point. Parson is pretty much perfect by any definition. Not a stone cold killer, but able to do what is necessary without flinching. Not afraid ever, but also never overconfident or a jerk to those around him. Personable and charismatic. An innovator in battle in a setting made for battle. Special in many other ways. This is just about the dictionary definition of a Mary Sue character.

Okay let me break this down real quickl like. You play enough games, they all have the same functions. And oh gee you know, he created the damn game so of course he would have SOME familiarity with it?

And most of the things aside from communication can be explained by in-universe factors.

Learned combat rules quickly? He made the game and is also a veteran gamer. No big surprise. There is a reason.

Never asked about his job? He did but he is bound by erfworlds Duty factor. Same reason he makes friends. That and you know, the boss that could end his existence with a simple thought.

Strong communicator, the guy could just be smart. Which would also explain his ability to strategize as he does but this is also aided by said Vet Gamer factor.

And he doesn't care about the casualties because to him it is another game. It also fits by another game but he was still profoundly affected by the deaths of his comrades, game or not.

Not over confident? So just because he is one of about four people that aren't complete ***** this can be attributed to the Mary-sue archetype?

And being barred from things bound this certain universe. You really think there would be a spell that powerful that it would bend time and space to perfectly fit someone from another universe into the erf one?

The guy has been scared by a fair degree and had trouble getting over the fact that it wasn't a dream.

He innovates in battle because that is what the spell was designed to do. He has to at least be a competent warlord otherwise the entire plot of this story would be brought absolute crap. Also your attempts at recognizing "Dictionary" definitions at Mary sue fail hard. You know, considering that most of his strategies failed (Which isn't exactly perfect.Weird.) and anyone who spent half an hour on TvTropes could call your bull****.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-04-22, 11:02 AM
The guy has been scared by a fair degree and had trouble getting over the fact that it wasn't a dream.Care to show us a scared Parson? Some musing about being in a drug induced state or having a medical problem don't count as fear. Yelling "Dude!" when an armed man on a weiner-rammer breaks through a wall right next to you and calls for his troops to target you personally doesn't count as fear, especially when your next act is to swing a sword you've never used before through that same weiner-rammers neck. Telling your casters to go through the portal and that you'll have to say behind and "Prolly die" doesn't look much like fear either.
Care to show us a Parson who has "trouble getting over" anything at all? Where is the strip which shows him curled in the fetal position chanting "this can't be real" over and over? Where is the strip where he shows any weakness at all? Even his physical limitations are glossed over. Spoken of a couple times, but never shown to have any real negative impact on Parson. "Whee, stairs!", but he still climbed them, right? "Took me four hours to climb back up to ground level and then up to the tower. Can't describe my legs." But, other than the text, this doesn't keep Parson from doing anything at all. We never see him soaking in a tub to ease his stiff, sore leg muscles. We don't see him ask for a day off to recover his strength. There is no real disadvantage.

He innovates in battle because that is what the spell was designed to do. He has to at least be a competent warlord otherwise the entire plot of this story would be brought absolute crap. Also your attempts at recognizing "Dictionary" definitions at Mary sue fail hard. You know, considering that most of his strategies failed (Which isn't exactly perfect.Weird.) and anyone who spent half an hour on TvTropes could call your bull****.His strategies never failed, they were all brilliant. They were overcome by circumstances, and there is a huge difference. Plenty of Mary Sue characters face overwhelming adversity and get beaten around for a while but overcome in the end. Does this sound familiar you you in any way?

Parson is never shown to be a failure, he is shown to be perfect in a world which is perfectly arrayed against him. Your argument seems to be that Parson is perfect because that's what the plot requires. That may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that he is a Mary Sue. Plot enforced perfection is not functionally distinct from perfection.

Kreistor
2009-04-22, 01:18 PM
Parson is never shown to be a failure, he is shown to be perfect in a world which is perfectly arrayed against him.

Parson never fails? That's hardly true. His over-confidence results in the destruction of the dwagons over the lake. He got greedy, destroyed more than he needed to, costing too much move, and leaving him unable to pull them back further, trusting his trap to succeed. It failed, the dwagons were vulnerable, and he failed.

He tries to set up a meatgrinder in the courtyard. See how well that succeeded. And his idea for Wanda to assassinate Ansom certainly succeeds gloriously poorly, almost costing his best caster.

Oh, he has some successes, but he never succeeds well enough to be called overwhelming.


Your argument seems to be that Parson is perfect because that's what the plot requires.

He isn't. Even the spell admits that. "Help the Summon Spell fix its goof by getting Parson everything he was missing..." (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0118.html) Parson isn't perfect, even with the extra equipment. He lacks fundamental abilities and knowledge of the locals. He lacks knowledge of the system. He knows tactics and strategy better than the locals, and that will give him an advantage, but that doesn't make him perfect. He can surprise the enemy, but each surprise only works once, and like Ender, the enemy will then have access to those tactics to use against him. Ultimately, by winning, Parson will be fighting himself.


That may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that he is a Mary Sue. Plot enforced perfection is not functionally distinct from perfection.

Parson as Mary Sue? I don't see it. He's not overwhelmingly powerful. He has some knowledge the locals do not, but it only helps him a limited amount. His ideas fail, and plans backlash. Mary Sues are like Wesley Crusher... they always have the perfect solution for every problem, solving problems other people should. Parson has solutions, but they are never ideal: he's the Chief Warlord, so he must provide solutions. To fault him as Mary Sue for solving problems is like faulting an engineer in any electronics company for solving his problems by calling him a Mary Sue. Mary Sues solve problems outside their area of expertise, or have such a broad array of knowledge that they solve every problem... Parson has merely been placed in an element where his expertise shines: an expert solving an problem in his own field is not a Mary Sue. If the definition of Mary Sue now extends to include every character that has to solve problems and gets them right, then every character in every book must be a Mary Sue.

Mary Sues are over-the-top, wish-fulfillment characters. Mary Sues don't have flaws. Parson is rotund, depressed, and in many ways out of his depth. Parson is flawed, but he is also an expert. TO prove him a Mary Sue, you must prove him a problem solver outside his expertise. So far, we have only seen problems that are inside Parson's expertise, that is problems of game play. He is a strategist and tactician, and so should be solving strategic and tactical problems.

There may be some wish-fulfillment here, but it is not Parson the character that is the wish, but the world itself. Erfworld is a game player's dream world, and that is what makes Erfworld wish-fulfillment.

FalconPunch
2009-04-22, 02:08 PM
Mary Sues are over-the-top, wish-fulfillment characters. Mary Sues don't have flaws. Parson is rotund, depressed, and in many ways out of his depth. Parson is flawed, but he is also an expert. TO prove him a Mary Sue, you must prove him a problem solver outside his expertise. So far, we have only seen problems that are inside Parson's expertise, that is problems of game play. He is a strategist and tactician, and so should be solving strategic and tactical problems.

There may be some wish-fulfillment here, but it is not Parson the character that is the wish, but the world itself. Erfworld is a game player's dream world, and that is what makes Erfworld wish-fulfillment.

This is all I have time to respond to right now but you're arguing a 50-year old definition of Mary Sue.

Besides the fact that he's fat, Parson is flawed in a "good" way.

For example, the fact that he lacks immediate knowledge of his surroundings is a good flaw, odd as that sounds, because it sets him up for greater glory should he triumph and it provides a legitimate excuse to the reader should he fail. Even when he does fail, it's never due to a hole or a weak spot that he could have realistically covered (Jillian found the dwagons by luck, Ansom simply had more men dance fighting in the courtyard than him). The plot constantly puts Parson on the defensive with either limited resources or a bumbling Stanley to hamper him; it makes excuses for his defeats and Parson comes off as even more sympathetic than he would be if he had won.

There is no indication that Parson is depressed. Depressed people do not battle with the same fervor that Parson has. Besides a few introspective musings (which are no doubt designed to inject some life into the character) Parson has always been decisive and resolute in his decision making.


So far, we have only seen problems that are inside Parson's expertise, that is problems of game play. He is a strategist and tactician, and so should be solving strategic and tactical problems.

Wrong again. It's strange that Parson's suggested lack of social abilities in the real world do not translate into Erf. He's proven himself both understanding and patient when dealing with Wanda, Sizemore and Bogroll, in fact he comes across as far more personable and less grating than a character like Ansom. Through his dealings with Ansom we can tell he knows how to intimidate and push buttons and he's handled Charlie pretty professionally.

Parson mirrors people - an extremely handy social skill. He's introspective and sympathetic with Sizemore, competent, determined but a bit soft with Wanda (I've picked up on some romantic tension between them) and down to earth with Bogroll. He is far more likeable than Ansom, a character who just kind of does his own thing and expects everyone to follow.

SteveMB
2009-04-22, 02:24 PM
Wrong again. It's strange that Parson's suggested lack of social abilities in the real world do not translate into Erf. He's proven himself both understanding and patient when dealing with Wanda, Sizemore and Bogroll, in fact he comes across as far more personable and less grating than a character like Ansom. Through his dealings with Ansom we can tell he knows how to intimidate and push buttons and he's handled Charlie pretty professionally.

Parson mirrors people - an extremely handy social skill. He's introspective and sympathetic with Sizemore, competent, determined but a bit soft with Wanda (I've picked up on some romantic tension between them) and down to earth with Bogroll. He is far more likeable than Ansom, a character who just kind of does his own thing and expects everyone to follow.

I don't see it as strange at all -- Erfworld puts him in an interesting situation, so he makes a mental effort to deal with it. His old life (other than gaming) bored him, so he just coasted by with as little effort as possible.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-04-22, 03:43 PM
Mary Sues are not character who never have to recover from adversity, or for whom everything always goes swimmingly. That would be a parody of a Mary Sue.
Parson never fails? That's hardly true. His over-confidence results in the destruction of the dwagons over the lake.Not Parson's overconfidence, but Wanda's overconfidence in her hold over Jillian. This wasn't Parson's failure, he was poorly advised by Wanda. Had Parson known all the facts Jillian very well would have been in the GK dungeon when the volcano went off. And in the end, trading those dwagons for 40% of the siege was probably a great move despite their loss, even though it was not intended. And, Parson was all ready to follow up on the situation however bad it might have looked at the time, but that's when Stanley exploded and took off on his own.
He tries to set up a meatgrinder in the courtyard. See how well that succeeded.It was working great. Until, that is, the side which had few units which could dance fight suddenly had all of its units able to dance fight. Parson wasn't even poorly advised here, this was the world cheating him.
And his idea for Wanda to assassinate Ansom certainly succeeds gloriously poorly, almost costing his best caster.Another plan which would have worked without interference. This one can't be called the world cheating against him, unless the very existence of Charlie is the cheat, which given Charlies overwhelming potency it very well might be. But however you classify it, it was the best plan at the time. To have done nothing would have allowed Anson free reign to slaughter the uncroaked, and doing the only thing you can do can not be called an error.
He isn't [perfect]. Even the spell admits that. "Help the Summon Spell fix its goof by getting Parson everything he was missing..." (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0118.html) Parson isn't perfect, even with the extra equipment. He lacks fundamental abilities and knowledge of the locals. He lacks knowledge of the system. He knows tactics and strategy better than the locals, and that will give him an advantage, but that doesn't make him perfect.A character doesn't have to be perfect immediately to be a Mary Sue. By the time he woke the volcano Parson was indeed perfect: He knew the rules intimately, calling out spells and tactics and troop formations without hesitation. He had his array of magic items. And he of course still had his Earth experiences.
Parson has solutions, but they are never ideal: he's the Chief Warlord, so he must provide solutions.Again, being in a position of authority only adds to the Mary Sue qualiy, it does not detract. Mary Sue characters are often leaders of men. Saying that he has to offer solutions and so he isn't a Mary Sue is like Kholdstare saying that "He has to at least be a competent warlord otherwise the entire plot of this story would be brought absolute crap." But being "forced" by the plot to be perfect doesn't take anything away from a charge of being a Mary Sue.

If the definition of Mary Sue now extends to include every character that has to solve problems and gets them right, then every character in every book must be a Mary Sue.All protagonists solve problems. But most protagonists have weaknesses or flaws. Whose who do not are candidates for the Mary Sue award. Parson has no noticeable weaknesses, no flaws which hamper him. Aside from his ambush of Ansom , which I never held against him but some others have, Parson doesn't even show us any personality flaws. He never oggles Wanda, doesn't show greed or fear, doesn't self-aggrandize. Makes friends on both Earth and Erf, and again... "special."
Mary Sues are over-the-top, wish-fulfillment characters. Mary Sues don't have flaws. Parson is rotund, depressed, and in many ways out of his depth.Parson is in no way depressed, and hardly out of his depth. Look how quickly he adapts to being Chief Warlord! Parson is fat, but being fat isn't hampering him in the slightest. No one picks on him for being fat, girls don't reject him for being unattractive, etc. Even the two times we see a lack of physical stamina mentioned there is never a downside because of that. We see none of the expected social negatives that often accompany fat characters. Look at his gaming group: There was only a single girl, not terribly unusual for a gaming group. But she was attractive, and obviously concerned about Parsons well being at far more than the casual acquaintance level. His other friends were hardly given lines, but they didn't have visible deformities or other negative characteristics. If anything, they were far too calm at his disappearing act. "Dibs on his dice" is "rule of funny" appropriate, but not how any ordinary person would react to seeing their friend vanish with a snap of his fingers.

Doran
2009-04-22, 04:15 PM
BillyJimBoBob,
The problem is that the protagonist of the story is by definition the one who the story focuses on the most, so there is greatest chance for differing opinions. If he shows too many flaws - e.g. complains too much, he becomes a jarring butt-monkey/scrappy for other people.

I'd be interested in knowing what your version of Parson would be like, considering the following:

He's summoned as part of the 'Perfect Warlord Spell'
He's from Earth
No other characters are changed from how they are at the start

Kreistor
2009-04-22, 04:46 PM
This is all I have time to respond to right now but you're arguing a 50-year old definition of Mary Sue.

When are people going to learn that I do my homework?

Mary Sue on WIkipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_sue)

Named after a character in a 1973 parody fanfic. That's 36 years, not quite 50, but such tropes did not start becoming common until much later. Anyway...

"Mary Sue, sometimes shortened simply to Sue, is a pejorative term used to describe a fictional character who plays a major role in the plot and is particularly characterized by overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors or readers." Wikipedia

Does Parson fulfill a wish-fulfillment role for the author? He's not integrating himself into the storyline of a popular show, he's not infinitely powerful. Is he idealized? Well, he's supposed to be good at military matters, but I doubt anyone would state that he's "idealized". How about Hackneyed? "made commonplace or trite; stale; banal" according to dictionary.com. Parson is commonplace? Well, he's got a common job, and common life. But are his skills commonplace or used frequently in stories? No, gamemanship is usually portrayed as a negative characteristic of basement-living nerds, geeks, etc., so his lifestyle is nothing short of embarrassing. In other media, Parson might be a common trope, but in this story he is not portrayed as the pathetic loser a show like CSI might present. To them, Parson would be a scared litttle momma's boy, hiding away in his basement. We see Parson as a trapped, intelligent young man with problems beyond his immediate control. Parson himself describes the patheticness of his own life, at the same time as presenting that he has only one joy -- gaming. He's hardly alone in that.


Besides the fact that he's fat, Parson is flawed in a "good" way.

For example, the fact that he lacks immediate knowledge of his surroundings is a good flaw, odd as that sounds, because it sets him up for greater glory should he triumph and it provides a legitimate excuse to the reader should he fail.

But that doesn't change the fact that it is a flaw. You're trying to say that because he has to reach far to succeed, his flaws are positives, but that's not a positive. A flaw that makes things harder is inherently a flaw, and in fiction, making things harder to raise the triumph is not considered a positive trait of the character. And it is a feature of all characters in all stories, and so not identifiable to just Mary Sues. (In fact, I don't think it's a common trait of Mary Sues, who are "idealized".) Yes, he will wind up with greater glory for success, but gaining that success will still mean overcoming those flaws.


Even when he does fail, it's never due to a hole or a weak spot that he could have realistically covered (Jillian found the dwagons by luck, Ansom simply had more men dance fighting in the courtyard than him). The plot constantly puts Parson on the defensive with either limited resources or a bumbling Stanley to hamper him; it makes excuses for his defeats and Parson comes off as even more sympathetic than he would be if he had won.

But Parson could have overcome those failures. Jillian found those dwagons by running a search pattern, not just luck. Parson could have pushed those injured dwagons further away by not being as greedy with enemy siege, or by not using the shortest move dwagons. He could have overcome that, and so he failed for his own overconfidence in thinking he could manipulate Ansom down to two options. The failure in the Courtyard was due to lack of knowledge... something a Wesley Crusher would never suffer. You see, that's what makes a Mary Sue different from a normal hero. They are wish-fulfillment characters, so they never fail, and overcome things with superhuman ability. Parson is never portrayed as superhuman with ideas that never fail: he frequently fails, achieving minimum goals.


There is no indication that Parson is depressed. Depressed people do not battle with the same fervor that Parson has. Besides a few introspective musings (which are no doubt designed to inject some life into the character) Parson has always been decisive and resolute in his decision making.

Have you seen Parson smile after seeing his "success" at Gobwin Knob? He won: the city can be recovered, but he never smiles. He saved everyone he expected to save (the casters were all he thought he could save in a loss, and that's all he saved in the end), and it still doesn't count as a win in his own mind. And look at his litany of a failed life (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0016.html). He's escapist, and that is a sign of depression. He's given exactly what he wanted, a way out into a game world, and it brightens him up for a little while, but after that, it's all nose-to-the-grindstone and professionalism. And no joy. He's escaping into his work, now. His entire personality is pessimistic. Even his conceptualization of the reason why he was losing is paranoid: someone is out to get him by cheating him: he needs to cheat back to win. That's not the sign of a healthy mind.


Wrong again. It's strange that Parson's suggested lack of social abilities in the real world do not translate into Erf. He's proven himself both understanding and patient when dealing with Wanda, Sizemore and Bogroll, in fact he comes across as far more personable and less grating than a character like Ansom. Through his dealings with Ansom we can tell he knows how to intimidate and push buttons and he's handled Charlie pretty professionally.

He underestimated Wanda many times. She was hiding scrolls. Sizemore loathes what Parson is making him do. Bogroll's loyalty came automatically without any effort. Parson hasn't actually fooled any of them into thinking he's "perfect" or automatically going to win. I think you are very much glossing over Parson's social interactions, and I think you also misunderstand the pecking order. Parson isn't their friend, he's their commanding officer. They must obey him. That they toe the line and do as he asks must be analyzed with the knowledge that Obedience as a Natural Thinkamancy exists and will force their acquiescence despite any objections. Parson is in a position where social inadequacies are very much not an issue, but that doesn't eliminate them. He is in a position where merit is worth more than friendship, and that he actually tied the battle for Gobwin Knob is worthy of significant respect.


Parson mirrors people - an extremely handy social skill. He's introspective and sympathetic with Sizemore, competent, determined but a bit soft with Wanda (I've picked up on some romantic tension between them) and down to earth with Bogroll. He is far more likeable than Ansom, a character who just kind of does his own thing and expects everyone to follow.

Yes, and this is evidence of what? That he's socially inept and shouldn't be? He's a game player. Diplomacy and other similar games teach you these talents. If you can't manipulate other people's motivations, you lose those types of games: heck, you lose any game with more than two players if you can't convince one to join you in defeating the other... or worse, because if you don't, the others will always gang up on you. Manipulating people is a gaming skill, just not one a lot of people suspect people like Parson can learn. They're so used to natural charismatics (non-gamers) being good at it, they don't notice that other people can learn this talent, too. People like him are simply not expected to be that capable at those skills, and so when they do play that game, normally get away with it. If you don't suspect someone you think has no social skills can control others in that way, then I guarantee that you are the most vulnerable to him. Best of all, when it happens, he wouldn't be suspected, and it would be put down to accident. *reallybigshoot-eatinggrin* Been there and done that so many times.

You see, people believe what they want to believe. And they don't like evidence to the contrary. So when someone like Parson manipulates, and the effect results in evidence that Parson manipulated, they'll shake their heads, laugh, and say, that was an accident. So, yes, Parson has the skills, because a game player must. So many think that gaming comes down entirely to pieces on the board, that they don't realize you can win by getting into the opponent's head and manipulating. Parson is a manipulater, or he would never have been chosen by the spell as anything close to a good warlord. Sun Tzu teaches that winning in the enemy's mind can result in bloodless victories. One ancient commentator told of a siege. The sieging general called for parlay, and the city's general came to talk. The sieger murdered the city's general in cold blood, brutally, where those on the ramparts could see. They had no one else to lead their city, and so had no choice but to open the gates. One death, and the city was taken. It was a mental victory over the besieged. In WW1, the Canadian success Vimy Ridge resulted in a reputation for the Canadian army being the equivalent of Stormtroopers, the German best. When they appeared on the battlefield, the Germans rearranged their troops to counter, so the allies used this to create weak points other armies could exploit, just by placing Canadian soldiers where the enemy could see them. The Germans were defeated by their own fear.

Point is: you've fallen for the same false belief many have about gamers, and seem to think that Parson should have something as a flaw that the media commonly associates with people like Parson. If Parson was poor at manipulating people, he would be exactly what you think: a common literary personality type. But he isn't, and so he's not. It's ironic that you believe that he should be consistent with other characters of the type, while complaining that he is consistent with other characters of the type. Here is Parson's uniqueness and difference, and you want it to go away.

SteveMB
2009-04-22, 04:48 PM
Mary Sues are not character who never have to recover from adversity, or for whom everything always goes swimmingly.

Huh? That is precisely the definition of the term I am familiar with.

Kholdstare
2009-04-22, 06:26 PM
I'm not sure but I think this argument is a bit of subtle trolling with that last bit Steve mentioned. It actually is the definition and saying that it's a parody of a sue.....dude a sue was originally a parody. Your calling it a parody of a parody which is the political equivalent of calling someone "Socialist/Communist" when losing a debate.


His strategies never failed, they were all brilliant. They were overcome by circumstances, and there is a huge difference.

They never failed? Huh. Now I just may be a guy who can casually google things that are common knowledge but losing can be defined as...failure. I mean I don't ever remember someone losing an olympic gold medal as a success. As for the circumstances.......well yeah I guess we can count an enemy with his own respective army a circumstance.

Kreistor
2009-04-22, 07:08 PM
Mary Sues are not character who never have to recover from adversity, or for whom everything always goes swimmingly.

As said by another... yeah, they are. Thqt's why they get their own trope. It's their differentiator.


Not Parson's overconfidence, but Wanda's overconfidence in her hold over Jillian.

Actually, if you check again, Parson had his dwagon arrangement finished before Wanda and Stanley appear in the setting room. Wanda had no part in his decision making process, so had no influence over the final set-up. Parsons mistake was believing that Ansom's "air forces mostly can't reach (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0066.html)". Parson was banking on a rescue of Ansom, and didn't foresee the hunt for the weak dwagons. It was Stanley that turned that failure into abject failure by not attacking Ansom while he was vulnerable over the lake.


And, Parson was all ready to follow up on the situation however bad it might have looked at the time, but that's when Stanley exploded and took off on his own.

Very true. But my point there is that ignorance is a notable flaw. Parson will fail less and less as he overcomes ignorance, but while ignorant, he s still flawed.


A character doesn't have to be perfect immediately to be a Mary Sue. By the time he woke the volcano Parson was indeed perfect: He knew the rules intimately, calling out spells and tactics and troop formations without hesitation.

Ignorance is an easy flaw to overcome, but Parson is still unaware of many aspects of this game. He has more time now, so he'll learn more.

But let's not mistake being capable inside one's own area of expertise with being a Mary Sue. All characters solve problems inside their area of expertise, and Parson's only expertise involves gameplay. You're trying to say that every cahracter that is good at something is a Mary Sue, and that is jsut simply not true. Mary Sues are extreme versions of that, overcoming unreasonable adversity, excelling where others could not, and so on. Parson does well, but he does nothing unreasonable.


Mary Sue characters are often leaders of men.

They can be, but characters like Wesley Crusher are certainly not. Any hero can be a leader of men, so that really has absolutely nothing to do with the Mary Sue trope.


All protagonists solve problems. But most protagonists have weaknesses or flaws. Whose who do not are candidates for the Mary Sue award. Parson has no noticeable weaknesses, no flaws which hamper him.

That is simply not true. All experts are not flawed inside their area of expertise, otherwise, they would not be experts. The Mary Sue trope requires lack of flaw in all aspects. Parson in Erfworld is: under a compulsion (forced to obey Stanley's whims), ignorant (being overcome), vulnerable (still only human), and ruthless (which makes Sizemore hate him, for instance). That's just the short list. Overconfidence, depression, pessimism, lack of caution -- there are more. He just doesn't have many flaws in his area of expertise. And that is not a part of the Mary Sue trope.


Makes friends on both Earth and Erf, and again...

Name one. Sizemore hates him. Charlie and Wanda were using him. Stanley rejected him. Misty was only happy to be a person again. Maggie treats him professionally. So who, exactly, is his friend? Just Bogroll, whose loyalty began when he was assigned, so was not a friendship earned: it was given on faith.


Parson is in no way depressed, and hardly out of his depth.

Parson himself says that he thinks the spell booped up, and that he wasn't the perfect warlord it should have brought. Parson is good, and he'll not give up on a challenge, but he's also under a spell that forces him to not give up.


Look how quickly he adapts to being Chief Warlord!

I'll play a game after learning the rules in an afternoon. Parson goes two days before taking control. SOmetimes, you have to jump right in, especially when the rules are overwhelming. (Star Fleet Battles, for instance.)


Parson is fat, but being fat isn't hampering him in the slightest. No one picks on him for being fat, girls don't reject him for being unattractive, etc.

Yeah, go ahead and believe that being fat has no negative consequences.


Even the two times we see a lack of physical stamina mentioned there is never a downside because of that.

It is a flaw that doesn't affect his current circumstances. The point of Mary Sues is that they are "idealized". Parson's fatness is the opposite of ideal.


We see none of the expected social negatives that often accompany fat characters.

You think that has nothing to do with his lack of a social life, lack of a good job, and lack of friends outside of gaming? Yeah, being fat has nothing to do with anything. It certainly doesn't cause, or is caused by, low self-esteem.


Look at his gaming group: There was only a single girl, not terribly unusual for a gaming group. But she was attractive, and obviously concerned about Parsons well being at far more than the casual acquaintance level. His other friends were hardly given lines, but they didn't have visible deformities or other negative characteristics.

What does his gaming group have to do with being a Mary Sue? Look at the one thing that is said to him. "And you run some amazing games, Parson. But I don't know if it's healthy for you. It's such a huge escape for you." There's the description of a flaw right there. Parson is escapist, incapable of dealing with reality and so he looks to ignore his problems through games.

Parson's flaw is compulsion. He can't stop playing games, and that flaw prevents him from turning his intellect towards solving the problem that is his life. When he gets to Erfworld, he has escaped: it's his ultimate fantasy. He has power. He has something to engage his interests. But it still is not healthy. His compulsion gets glossed over, because it's a compulsion that the Side needs and wants, and wouldn't even recognize given the nature of Natural Thinkamancy. That it actually helps Stanley's side does not eliminate it as a flaw. He is still under compulsion, both magical and psychological. That escapism could come back to haunt Parson, yet. For the some time, he is going to be without troops to order around, or strategies to formulate. GK is in a building phase, and we'll see how he handles that.

Parson is, in a way, an ideal. He is a very good commander. But that is not the same as being idealistic. Mary Sues are about characters written to be the best possible version of oneself. Parson, as effective as he is, is not an idealistic version of anyone. He is simply the best man for the job, with flaws that do not interfere with that job.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-04-23, 05:39 PM
I'd be interested in knowing what your version of Parson would be like, considering the following:

He's summoned as part of the 'Perfect Warlord Spell'
He's from Earth
No other characters are changed from how they are at the start
Fair enough. Your last point is where I'll start. There hasn't been much character development for anyone vesides Parson in this story, it's true. But, for the other main characters we see obvious weaknesses or flaws. Ansom is obsessed with the superiority of the nobility; Jillian is so into her BD/SM games with Wanda that she has been captured over and over, and it nearly makes her avoid a lucky encounter with some weakened dwagons; Sizemore is a pacifist whose heart is not in the conflict despite the fact that he feels it will be his undoing; Stanley is an egotistical religious fanatic on a quest which has brought him nothing but failure. etc, etc.

Parson, or the other hand, has done nothing but grow in strength (three unique magic items, one worth a small fortune) and in canny knowledge of the rules of the game, and has exhibited zero weaknesses or flaws. Look at the fan base: There have been two acts of Parsons that I recall a lively debate involving Parson's morality: The ambush of Ansom and the ignition of the volcano. Both were justified, in my eyes, as acts taken not only in a time of war but when the enemy is very literally knocking down your last doors.

Parson could easily be the "Perfect Warlord" and still show character flaws and other weaknesses. But the authors have not chosen to show Parson with any, and so we are left with a Perfect Warlord who is kind, who makes friends, who regrets sending others to their deaths, who muses about his mortality and possible sanity but still gets the job done without letting angst slow him down at all.

And that's a Mary Sue.
When are people going to learn that I do my homework?When you not only do the homework, but learn from it.
Named after a character in a 1973 parody fanfic.
[...]
You see, that's what makes a Mary Sue different from a normal hero. They are wish-fulfillment characters, so they never fail, and overcome things with superhuman ability.No, again. And this applies to Steve and Khold as well. Re-read the wikipedia: "Note that the "original" Mary Sue from 'A Trekkie's Tale' is in fact a Parody Sue." The Mary Sue was a parody of characters who exist in horribly flawed amateur stories. But the label extends far beyond that. It is used as a description of a character like Parson: One with few failures, or who has only good characteristics. This can co-exist with a story that shows the character being beaten by adversity, even over and over. But in the end they will succeed and everyone or almost everyone will love them, and those that do not will most likely be disagreed with by the reader, or at least the author will have it come across as though the reader should. Look at the examples of Mary Sue characters and you'll get a better understanding of what it means. Mary Sues can exist in very successful works, they don't have to be amateur fan fiction, this is just the source of the name and the character type. Parson is not a Parody Sue, he is a Mary Sue.
Does Parson fulfill a wish-fulfillment role for the author? He's not integrating himself into the storyline of a popular show, he's not infinitely powerful. Is he idealized? Well, he's supposed to be good at military matters, but I doubt anyone would state that he's "idealized". How about Hackneyed? "made commonplace or trite; stale; banal" according to dictionary.com. Parson is commonplace? Well, he's got a common job, and common life. But are his skills commonplace or used frequently in stories? No, gamemanship is usually portrayed as a negative characteristic of basement-living nerds, geeks, etc., so his lifestyle is nothing short of embarrassing.Is that the extent of your list, or will you decide to come back with more once I shoot this one down? I have a strong feeling that I know the answer to that question already.

None of your list applies in a determination of whether Parson is a Mary Sue, or it in fact supports Parson being a Mary Sue. Parson has a common job at the start or the strip, sure. But then suddenly he has a very glamorous job indeed: He is the sole Chief Warlord of a side in the magical land of Erfworld. Exactly what his most earnest wish has been, imagine that! His gamesmanship skills are exceptional and valued both on Earth and on Erf. And as for embarrassing, please show us a strip where Parson is embarrassed by being a fat, nerdy, gamer. It does not exist. And just because you think his lifestyle is embarrassing doesn't make it a character flaw for Parson. The litmus test is how it impacts Parson. Many Mary Sue characters have supposed "flaws" or strangeness or unique traits which work to their advantage, it's quite common to the trope.

But don't take my word for it. Google "mary sue litmus test original fiction" and see how many of Parsons traits can be associated with any one of those lists.

Below you are repeating points we've already hashed over. Come up with something new, please. If you just disagree with me, fine. Disagree and move on. There is little to be gained by us repeating the same arguments over and over.

Jillian found those dwagons by running a search pattern, not just luck.Jillian found those dwagons because she was alive and free to go look for them. This was not Parson's error, it was Wanda's error, as I've pointed out before. Do note that Parson was uneasy about the plan to release Jillian and her supposed limitations for being effective for Ansom as soon as he heard about it.
The failure in the Courtyard was due to lack of knowledge.No, the courtyard was a huge success, as I've pointed out before. Up until the time the rules actually changed. Remember, The RCC had very few units who could dance fight, until the point when they could all dance fight. This was not a failure of Parson's, it was the world cheating to beat him. And Mary Sue Parson figured even this out, and then found a way around it in the end.
Yeah, go ahead and believe that being fat has no negative consequences.I'll entertain you again. Show me. Show me the strip where Parson being fat is shown to be a disadvantage to him. It does not exist. We've seen his weight and lack of physical conditioning mentioned exactly twice, and in neither case did anyone jeer at him or even make a remark about his weight and weakness, nor did it keep him from doing anything. No social disadvantage, and no physical disadvantage. He doesn't even ever muse about how he ought to lose weight, but that he has tried many times and failed and it's just too hard, as many of my overweight friends do often. Parsons size, far from being a disadvantage, is an advantage. He is HUGE compared to the average Erfer, and that is yet another Mary Sue trait.

And again, none of your three points above means anything in a discussion of whether a character qualifies as a Mary Sue. Mary Sues can fail, they can lose. But they do so without character flaws. They don't cringe or flinch when they fail, they get back up and fight again like Rocky until they finally win.
Have you seen Parson smile after seeing his "success" at Gobwin Knob? He won: the city can be recovered, but he never smiles. He saved everyone he expected to save (the casters were all he thought he could save in a loss, and that's all he saved in the end), and it still doesn't count as a win in his own mind.This proves nothing and has no relevance to the discussion. You don't have to jump for joy or ignore the weighty responsibility of leadership to qualify as a Mary Sue.

[on Parson's friends] Sizemore hates him.This is actually a strong Mary Sue indicator. Sizemore thinks he hates Parson. But then he is told by an authority figure just how wrong he is. It's a typical Mary Sueism, thanks for helping me make my point. On your other points about Parson's friends, you need to back up your assertions using the source. You're right on Maggy treating him professionally, and wrong on every other count. But you're forgetting a key Maggy quote: "Your mind is a weapon, lord. Perhaps the best we have." That screams Mary Sue! Even characters who don't necessarily love the Mary Sue will admit their superiority, or come to realize it in some fashion.

Point is: you've fallen for the same false belief many have about gamers, and seem to think that Parson should have something as a flaw that the media commonly associates with people like Parson. If Parson was poor at manipulating people, he would be exactly what you think: a common literary personality type. But he isn't, and so he's not. It's ironic that you believe that he should be consistent with other characters of the type, while complaining that he is consistent with other characters of the type. Here is Parson's uniqueness and difference, and you want it to go away.I really have zero idea what you're talking about here. I have expressed no desire that Parson exhibit any specific flaw, I've only pointed out that he has none, and used the source as backup. Don't put words in my mouth to try to make your wandering points, or I'll have to break out the straw man fallacy!
Now I just may be a guy who can casually google things that are common knowledge but losing can be defined as...failure. I mean I don't ever remember someone losing an olympic gold medal as a success.You have a unique definition of losing. Parson was outnumbered by 25 to 1, as stated by Wanda. Ansom stated that the RCC had six times the forces needed to defeat GK. It was a lost cause by the best estimation of everyone who had an opinion on the matter. And yet Parson won. Not lost, won. There is no failure in Parson, at all.

dr pepper
2009-04-23, 06:36 PM
Perhaps the Mary Sue here is Kreistor. After all, they never seem to take any damage and always return to the battle.

Kreistor
2009-04-23, 07:19 PM
When you not only do the homework, but learn from it.

*shrug* Or teach.


No, again. And this applies to Steve and Khold as well. Re-read the wikipedia. "Note that the "original" Mary Sue from "A Trekkie's Tale" is in fact a Parody Sue." The Mary Sue was a parody of characters who exist in horribly flawed amateur stories. But the label extends far beyond that. It is used as a description of a character like Parson: One with few failures, or who has only good characteristics.

Man, look at Parson in today's comic, if you have to. Full of regret, self-loathing (part of the self-esteem problem), uncertainty, doubt for the future, dissatisfaction. I don't think you even know what a flaw is. Character flaws don't have to interfere with your area of expertise to be a character flaw.


None of your list applies in a determination of whether Parson is a Mary Sue, or it in fact supports Parson being a Mary Sue. Parson has a common job at the start or the strip, sure. But then suddenly he has a very glamorous job indeed: He is the sole Chief Warlord of a side in the magical land of Erfworld.

Sure. And Wesley Crusher went from no one to Captain of the Enterprise... no, wait, he didn't. The situation in which one is placed does not have to do with a character being an ideal. "Commonplace" had to do with the attributes of the character's persona, not the character's position in the plot. Wikipedia "Mary Sue, sometimes shortened simply to Sue, is a pejorative term used to describe a fictional character who plays a major role in the plot and is particularly characterized by overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms". Commonplace came from the definition of hackneyed (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hackneyed), which was an attribute of the character's mannerisms, not lifestyle. The hero is always going to be placed in the center of the action, and in this story the center was around the Chief Warlord position: the hero, Mary Sue or not, had to be Chief Warlord. If being placed in a position of power makes a character a Mary Sue, then almost every character in every book is a Mary Sue. That has nothing to do with being a Mary Sue, since it is common to all characters.


But don't take my word for it. Google "mary sue litmus test original fiction" and see how many of Parsons traits can be associated with any one of those lists.

Nah, you do it. Show me the results.


Jillian found those dwagons by running a search pattern, not just luck.


Jillian found those dwagons because she was alive and free to go look for them. This was not Parson's error, it was Wanda's error, as I've pointed out before.

Prove it. I mean it. Walk me through the timeline and show me exactly where Wanda gives Parson this disinformation BEFORE Parson finishes moving the dwagons. Ah, nevermind. I will. This is the timeline:

Klog 6 (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0052.html): Parson reveals his plan for the dwagons
Page 47: Wanda comes down, berates Parson for talking to Misty, finds out he has a plan, and leaves to distract Stanley. No mention of Jillian.
Page 48: Stanley distracted. Plan starts.
Page 49: RCC begins to learn of attack.
Page 50: Attak continues.
Page 51: Jillian and Webinar.
Page 52: RCC celebrates victory, finds out truth.
Page 53: Parson and Sizemore text.
Page 54: Parson and Sizemore talk. Parson is not at table, so his part of Turn is over. Dwagons are finished movement. Stanley arrives.
Page 55: Stanley learns of plan.
Page 57: RCC Turn has started. Dwagon trap plainly evident because Bats have moved to reveal formation.
Page 58-59: RCC attack trap.
Page 60: GK team talks. No mention of Jillian. Parson states re: dwagons over water, "[Ansom] has no water units, and his air forces mostly can't reach." Parson does not reveal he trusted her spell in any way.
Page 61: Options discussed by Ansom, Parson learns of Veiling.
Page 62: Ansom decides to hunt dwagons.
Page 63: Jillian begins hunting.
Page 64: NOW Parson reveals he is relying on the Suggestion spell. 9 comics after Parson has finished, and 4 comics after he had said he was relying on a shortage of air units capable of the task. Further he says:

"Maybe I would have that kinda confidence if I knew how your spell actually works." Five frames after saying he's relying on it now.

Parson could not rely on her spell during planning because he didn't know how it worked. He may not have even known it existed. He only starts relying on it when Jillian herself starts searching for the dwagons.

Oh, but you're abotu to say I missed something. Nope.

On Page 41 (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0045.html):
"The control is subtle Warlord. Suggestions, perceptions, emotions... not commands. Particularly not a direct command to betray Ansom."

Parson already knew the spell had limitations, from Wanda's own description, He knew he could not rely on the Suggestion spell: Wanda's description left far too much unknowns to rely on it: she didn't misrepresent it, she just didn't define it well enough for Parson to have any clue how it really worked, like he said later. All he did was grossly underestimate the strength of the RCC air, or the amount of damage his dwagons took when they attacked siege. So, even with your belief system, Wanda did tell Parson not to rely on the spell. If he did rely on it, then that was his mistake, not hers.


Show me. Show me the strip where Parson being fat is shown to be a disadvantage to him.

BJBB, I provided "Fat" as a proof he is not ideal: it's not a character flaw, it's a physical flaw. Mary Sue's are idealized versions of the author: what we would wnat to be if we could eliminate our flaws and correct all our weaknesses. I don't have to live up to your standard of proof on this one. I have other things that are cjaracter flaws -- self-doubt, low self-esteem, escapism, etc. All "fat" needs to do is disprove that he is an ideal version of someone else, and it does that quite adequately on its face value. Parson isn't buff and athletic... that's all being fat has to prove.


Mary Sues can fail, they can lose. But they do so without character flaws.

"The term is more broadly associated with characters who are exceptionally and improbably lucky. The good luck may involve romance ("Mary Sue" always gets her man); adventure ("Mary Sue" always wins a fight or knows how to solve the puzzle); and popularity (the "right people" seem to gravitate towards the character). These characters confront very few significant problems while attempting to achieve their goals. "Everything goes her way" is a common criticism regarding "Mary Sues", the implication being that the character is not sufficiently humanized or challenged to be genuinely interesting and sympathetic." Wikipedia

Nah, you're wrong. Don't like it, go argue for changes to Wikipedia. Whether caused by his own failings or not, Parson faced many significant problems -- lost his commander's favorite units, lost his commander, had plan after plan backfire, and so on. Yes, he won, and in the edn survived through a locuky jumpthrough the portal, but all characters get that luck at some point, or they die and the story ends in tragedy. If not dying tragically is the new definition of Mary Sue, well, yeah, it just became synonymous with Protagonist.


Parson was outnumbered by 25 to 1, as stated by Wanda. Ansom stated that the RCC had six times the forces needed to defeat GK. And yet Parson won. Not lost, won. There is no failure in Parson, at all.

That only proves that Parson is an expert in his field. That's allowed for all protagonists, and is not limited to Mary Sues. Take a look at the angst in Parson now. That's not ideal. He's got regret. That's a human trait isn't it? You really are glossing over Parson's negative side.

On Parson winning: Parson did achieve his basic winning condition: he survived and kept Stanley alive. In that, he did have a minor win. But so did RCC: their minimum victory condition was the destruction of GK, and they think that was achieved. Sizemore has ensured GK can recover, but that's not Parson's success. So, I've always labeled this one a tie, based on the politician's original foals for both armies. Both achieved the minimum goal, but both also paid a much higher price than their politicians wanted. And it is thanks to Sizemore, not Parson, that that loss will not matter as much to Stanley as to the former members of the RCC.

Aquillion
2009-04-23, 08:17 PM
Am I the only one who thinks it's ironic that, for months, we've had people complaining that Ansom was coming off like a Mary Sue, avoiding every trap, always succeeding by miracles, and that Parson was useless and ineffective?

Fjolnir
2009-04-23, 09:26 PM
no it's fairly funny that now that parson won he's gone from underdog to 'OMG parsun es a maree soo'(I understand there wasn't a lack of spelling and grammar but still it comes off like that) because someone is willing to overlook his glaring character flaws in order to make him one. A good example of this is Sherlock Holmes, who does cocaine and is severely antiperson/antisocial is still the second most brilliant deductive mind in his particular universe (his brother beats him, possibly even Moriarty as well, which puts him at #3) but nobody claim's he's a mary sue. I'm not going to quote kriestor here, he hits most of parson's glaring flaws right on the head, he's far from idealized but his flaws don't really interfere with what the side needs, a person who has escaped into his own psyche enough to very little besides plan wargames in order to ignore how lousy his life is, in fact when he's put into the game he's immediatly thrust into battle AGAINST a mary sue (Ansom is a man's man and a woman's dream with a brilliant tactical mind and a true leader of men, his only real flaws are true heroic ones such as pride) and he defeats this shining paragon of fantasy herodom with dirty tricks and dishonor.

FalconPunch
2009-04-23, 09:48 PM
no it's fairly funny that now that parson won he's gone from underdog to 'OMG parsun es a maree soo'(I understand there wasn't a lack of spelling and grammar but still it comes off like that) because someone is willing to overlook his glaring character flaws in order to make him one. A good example of this is Sherlock Holmes, who does cocaine and is severely antiperson/antisocial is still the second most brilliant deductive mind in his particular universe (his brother beats him, possibly even Moriarty as well, which puts him at #3) but nobody claim's he's a mary sue. I'm not going to quote kriestor here, he hits most of parson's glaring flaws right on the head, he's far from idealized but his flaws don't really interfere with what the side needs, a person who has escaped into his own psyche enough to very little besides plan wargames in order to ignore how lousy his life is, in fact when he's put into the game he's immediatly thrust into battle AGAINST a mary sue (Ansom is a man's man and a woman's dream with a brilliant tactical mind and a true leader of men, his only real flaws are true heroic ones such as pride) and he defeats this shining paragon of fantasy herodom with dirty tricks and dishonor.

I had a long post written up for the other 3 points but I accidentally deleted it. Regardless, this is becoming a tired argument since it's become evident that Parson will take center stage, for good or for ill. And for the record, I always thought he was a bland character, pretty much since he was introduced.

glissle
2009-04-24, 03:00 AM
BillyJimBoBob,
I'd be interested in knowing what your version of Parson would be like, considering the following:

He's summoned as part of the 'Perfect Warlord Spell'
He's from Earth
No other characters are changed from how they are at the start


Your conditions are nonsensical. The author chose all the factors above - it's not as if this story is his entry in a contest or something. If (I repeat, "if") the factors above lead the story into Mary Sue-ness, then that's still the author's fault.

Personally, I think "pandering" is a less controversial accusation against this story than "Mary Sue". Defining the perfect warlord as a gamer from Earth put the story in danger of pandering right off the bat.

If I wanted to avoid pandering, but still wanted to write about a character from Earth, I might change the spell to 'Best Warlord Spell' and make him an expert whose fish-out-of-water experience causes him to struggle to apply his expertise to his situation consistently. He'd probably need to have a somewhat more forgiving boss and a somewhat less desperate scenario for this plot to work.

A more interesting subversion would be to establish Erf to be a bad place to be Perfect for. For example, perhaps the caster conspiracy thought they could end war by summoning him, and now they'll be proven terribly wrong when the most significant change is that war gets more deadly and most units last fewer turns before they croak. Parson could find himself learning that Erf would be better off without his influence, and then have to choose whether or not to commit suicide. This is still a possible arc and I think it could be satisfying even if he ended up back on Earth, transformed as broadly as Ebeneezer Scrooge.

(A variation on the previous plot would be Parson becoming so jaded he goes back in time to become Charlie so he can boop archons all day. I mention that just to be mischievous. I wouldn't want to read it.)


By the way, I would say that any display of emotion that strengthens Parson's social intelligence with other characters more than it hinders his ability to achieve his goals is not a flaw that counteracts the charge of pandering.

Likewise, any characteristic that is designed to increase the audience's identification with him and that is neither outgrown nor has tragic consequences definitely does not counteract the charge of pandering. For example, if Parson gradually slims down from living a more active lifestyle, that would be the opposite of pandering.


Any one of those casters, once they heard the plan, could have chosen to disobey orders. They could easily justify that destroying Gobwin Knob was not in the best interest of Stanley, if they really wanted to justify it to themselves. The only one that literally could not betray Stanley at risk of annihilation was Parson, who is told the spell that summoned him would destroy him for disobedience.

A minor point, but if Parson was magically compelled to set off the volcano, it was Duty, not obedience to an order. The last he heard from Stanley was that GK was doomed to change hands and that he should just shut up and hide (and eat his Stupid Meals to drain some schmuckers from Ansom's treasury). Stanley never said something like "Try and prove me wrong."



A tradition is to be accepted wholesale, based on traditional value; not on some posteriori based on an arbitrary standard of judgment.


If tradition requires obedience, then what would you call orally transmitted customs that are not mandatory? I think you're not using the word in the common sense.

The human brain does not have equal access to every possible choice, so tradition helps keep the successful innovations of the past more accessible to future consideration than the innovations that were unsuccessful.

I believe it's easier for me to accurately remember what is and is not traditional than to remember what I myself decided about an idea I saw in a book. Even if I come to disagree with a tradition, that conclusion is still easier to remember than disagreement with an idea in a book because of the emotional import of disagreeing with tradition.

Kreistor
2009-04-24, 08:07 AM
By the way, I would say that any display of emotion that strengthens Parson's social intelligence with other characters more than it hinders his ability to achieve his goals is not a flaw that counteracts the charge of pandering.

So an act that reveals weakness that also happens to result in humanizing the character which results in a sympathy and empathy from other characters is not a flaw simply because people tend to like other people that aren't ideal?

*shakes head* That is nowhere near the definition of Mary Sue. You can say that about the vast majority of character flaws, because it is definitely a true statement that people want to work with people that have character flaws, revealing they aren't better than others. A Mary Sue isn't a Mary Sue because it makes friends by being human: it's so over-the-top that it has no flaws and therefore should not have friends, but the storyline ignores that reality to make the character loved despite being superior.

A flaw is a flaw, regardless of the positives gained from that flaw. And here you are describing a very real effect of the real world, which demonstrates that Erfworld obeys proper social laws, instead of stretching them for the sake fo the character.

BLANDCorporatio
2009-04-24, 08:48 AM
... simply because people tend to like other people that aren't ideal? ...

... because it is definitely a true statement that people want to work with people that have character flaws, revealing they aren't better than others. A Mary Sue isn't a Mary Sue because it makes friends by being human: it's so over-the-top that it has no flaws and therefore should not have friends ....

So that's why I don't have any friends- because I'm perfect!

On a serious note, you may want to reword that a bit. "We respect people for their qualities and love them for their flaws" is one thing, to claim that humans form attachment EXCLUSIVELY on the basis of perceived inadequacy* is wrong.

Think fans.

*: (meaning that if someone is thought to be "perfect" they are shunned; having flaws is a necessary condition for having friends but not a sufficient one)

Yahoo_Serious
2009-04-24, 10:43 AM
Seems to me the "Mary Sue" issue makes sense as a plot issue. Parson is both frustrated by Ansom's seeming ability to counter his every move and capable of finding the volcano exploit because he's in a game very much like the one he himself was designing. The issue seems to me to be much more about escaping into a game world which, like in Tron, suddenly takes on real life and death consequence. Janis' suggestion that Parson can be used to end the game once and for all has to do with a Titan-like ability to meta-game. Perhaps Parson will now seek out the Titans the way Neo sought the Architect or Dorothy the Wizard of Oz. If Parson is a Mary Sue, this might be exactly because he is "Special."

Kreistor
2009-04-24, 11:11 AM
On a serious note, you may want to reword that a bit. "We respect people for their qualities and love them for their flaws" is one thing, to claim that humans form attachment EXCLUSIVELY on the basis of perceived inadequacy* is wrong.

No, I don't think I need to. I don't think I implied friendship is exclusive on flaws, just because I didn't happen to talk about strengths. If I were to do as you suggest, I might wind up in a huge conversation about a topic I am not interested in discussing. So, no, and no. I am not going to reword, and I am not going to discuss this issue further.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-04-24, 03:10 PM
Man, look at Parson in today's comic, if you have to. Full of regret, self-loathing (part of the self-esteem problem), uncertainty, doubt for the future, dissatisfaction. I don't think you even know what a flaw is. Character flaws don't have to interfere with your area of expertise to be a character flaw.You constantly confuse Parody Sue with Mary Sue. Again, for perhaps the fourth time: A Mary Sue is not a character without any flaws, or one who always has things go their way, or one who is always on top or events. That is a Parody Sue. A Mary Sue is less than that, and the line is not strictly definable. I do not see Parson as a Parody Sue, but I have provided many, many examples of how Parson reflects the position of Mary Sue.
And Wesley Crusher went from no one to Captain of the Enterprise... no, wait, he didn't.Thank you. Wesley was a Mary Sue, not a Parody Sue. If he had been made Captain of the Enterprise that would probably have pushed him over that line. But I appreciate your support with citations, thanks!
Prove it. I mean it. Walk me through the timeline and show me exactly where Wanda gives Parson this disinformation BEFORE Parson finishes moving the dwagons. Ah, nevermind. I will. This is the timeline:Thanks. You don't seem to have a point though. Parsons plan was perfect, and this was his very first troop movement on Erf and as Chief Warlord. His plan failed because an ally failed to understand and/or relay the weaknesses of her spell. Another ally pointed out those flaws, and was proven right. This does not reflect poorly upon Parson in any way, and as I have said before even willfully trading the dwagons for the siege was necessary for the survival of GK.
BJBB, I provided "Fat" as a proof he is not ideal: it's not a character flaw, it's a physical flaw. Mary Sue's are idealized versions of the author: what we would wnat to be if we could eliminate our flaws and correct all our weaknesses.
[...]
All "fat" needs to do is disprove that he is an ideal version of someone else, and it does that quite adequately on its face value. Parson isn't buff and athletic... that's all being fat has to prove.No, you have failed to either do or understand your homework yet again. Many Mary Sue characters have physical flaws. "Is your character overweight" is in fact one of the questions on some of the Mary Sue litmus tests. Others ask in different ways about physical flaws such as scarring or deformities. But those flaws do not manifest as they might be expected to for Mary Sues, being either nonstarters or in some cases actual advantages. Parson being fat but never having any disadvantage from being fat supports a charge that he is a Mary Sue. Parson being huge compared to Erf humans is another supprt for his being a Mary Sue.
If not dying tragically is the new definition of Mary Sue, well, yeah, it just became synonymous with Protagonist.Which reminds me: Having a name which is an anagram is another sign of being a Mary Sue. Parson A Gotti = A Protagonist. And having a cool or unique title is another sign. Lord Hamster. Chief Warlord. Take your pick.
Take a look at the angst in Parson now. That's not ideal. He's got regret. That's a human trait isn't it? You really are glossing over Parson's negative side.And it's irrelevant, as I've said before. You love to rehash the same points, please try to bring something new. If Parson were a Parody Sue he could perhaps cheerfully send thousands to their deaths. That he is distressed over his deeds does not remove him from consideration for a Mary Sue label, however.

I want to make one final statement for clarity:
Calling Parson a Mary Sue does not necessarily mean that I am attacking the strip or the writer. Having a Mary Sue character does not have to mean the story is a poor one. As an example which has a great personal involvement for me, as I've read the entire series, the character Honor Harrington in the long line of very successful books by David Weber is very much a Mary Sue character. In these ways (some of which occur later in the series) :

A name, Honor, which has a real language meaning;
A name, Honor Harrington, which is tied to another literary figure (Horatio Hornblower);
A cool nickname, "The Salamander";
A voracious appetite but never gains weight;
Genetically enhanced reflexes;
Master of a difficult martial arts combat style;
Able to beat opponents much larger and stronger than her who are also masters of this style;
Cybernetic implants;
With guns!;
And those guns and their power packs are undetectable by modern technology;
Specific and rare weaknesses nearly unique to her culture (an inability to have organs regrown medically which is a ubiquitous procedure for the vast bulk of the population);
Obtains not one, but two nobility titles;
Obtains high rank in not one, but two navies;
And holds those titles and ranks simultaneously, with the full support of the governments of both nations;
Is a crackerjack strategic, tactical, and logistical naval genius;
Described as plain or unattractive in early books, but by the later books is described as being beautiful by more than one other character;
Inspires nearly fanatical loyalty in those characters portrayed with positive characteristics;
Inspires nearly fanatical loathing from those characters portrayed with negative characteristics;
Is almost universally admired by those opponents described with positive characteristics;
Converts many of her detractors into followers through her shining examples of loyalty to the crown and the fleet;
Kills many of the remaining detractors, some in personal duels;
A rare and nearly unique pet;
Acquired the pet at an unusually young age;
This pet causes her to have some issues with authority figures early on;
The pet is special above the norm for its species;
The pet has telepathic abilities;
Honor develops those same telepathic abilities;


This list could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. Honor Harrington is a Mary Sue. Despite this, this series of books has enjoyed a great popularity, and I've enjoyed reading them all. But that enjoyment doesn't shut off my ability to think critically while reading.

Kreistor
2009-04-24, 03:25 PM
*shrugs* Done.

ishnar
2009-04-24, 05:01 PM
This list could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. Honor Harrington is a Mary Sue. Despite this, this series of books has enjoyed a great popularity, and I've enjoyed reading them all. But that enjoyment doesn't shut off my ability to think critically while reading.

*blink*

I do believe you're right. Never thought about it. But Honor does become a bit much sometimes. Even her flaws are often portrayed in a positive light. Her quick temper, (righteousness) her killer instinct (makes her a great warrior) etc. I still enjoy the books.

I guess Drizzt and Richard from Sword of Truth probably qualify as male versions.

glissle
2009-04-24, 05:25 PM
A flaw is a flaw, regardless of the positives gained from that flaw. And here you are describing a very real effect of the real world, which demonstrates that Erfworld obeys proper social laws, instead of stretching them for the sake fo the character.

(I didn't say "not a flaw", I said "not a flaw that counteracts the charge of pandering".)

Realistic dynamics are no excuse for an uninteresting story, because the author chooses the character and the starting condition.


So an act that reveals weakness that also happens to result in humanizing the character which results in a sympathy and empathy from other characters is not a flaw simply because people tend to like other people that aren't ideal?

*shakes head* That is nowhere near the definition of Mary Sue. You can say that about the vast majority of character flaws, because it is definitely a true statement that people want to work with people that have character flaws, revealing they aren't better than others. A Mary Sue isn't a Mary Sue because it makes friends by being human: it's so over-the-top that it has no flaws and therefore should not have friends, but the storyline ignores that reality to make the character loved despite being superior.

I'm not interested in arguing about the definitions of tropes, so as I stated before, I'm not asserting that Parson is a Mary Sue. I'm asserting that the story comes close to pandering to gamers.

Where Parson is concerned, Erfworld has an imbalance in favor of moments that convey, "If you were here, Mr. Gamer, you could have succeeded like Parson" (pandering) vs. moments that convey something more interesting, such as

"If you were here, you could only aspire to handling the situation as well as Parson." (a challenge to choose between admiration and envy)
"If you were here, you would be hosed because you wouldn't have plot armor like Parson does." (this is usually a bad thing for a story to convey unless it subverts itself with an unreliable narrator or parody or something)
"If you were here, you might have made the same choice as Parson and then been ashamed of it." (a challenge to introspect)
"If you were here, you might have handled this better than Parson did." (a challenge to sympathize)


If I wanted to argue that Parson is NOT a Mary Sue, I would point to incidents such as his celebration of the word "hosed" immediately after ordering a pacifist to kill thousands (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0124.html). This scene is interesting because it challenges the reader to understand how his human flaws and coping strategies are ironically adding up to an appearance of inhumanity.

FoolishOwl
2009-04-24, 06:33 PM
To my mind, the key characteristic of a "Mary Sue" is that the character doesn't really belong in the story. Wesley Crusher, an undisciplined adolescent who clearly has no business being on the bridge of a starship, annoying the senior officers, is a "Mary Sue," but Honor Harrington, the central protagonist from the first page of the first of the Honor Harrington novels, is not a "Mary Sue," because the story is clearly supposed to be about her to begin with.

It's pretty hard to miss that Parson Gotti is the central protagonist in this web comic, as the first few pages establish the setting while setting up for his appearance in the setting. Is he a stand-in for the authors? Maybe, but no more than he's a stand-in for the readers. He's very smart, and is a master of turn-based strategy games. The only extraordinary thing about Parson is that he's been placed in a circumstance in which his skills are incredibly valuable. "Why is Parson here?" is a question deliberately raised by the plot, not a question the reader asks because of poor story-telling.

To get back to the nominal topic of this thread, I didn't really think Ansom is meant to be an interesting character. There's something odd about Erfworld, and some of its denizens -- most notably, Sizemore -- perceive that something somehow doesn't add up. Ansom insists that everything adds up. Sizemore questions, Ansom doesn't. Ansom isn't really conscious. (An uncroaked Ansom would be poised for some irony.)

Ansom's strategy and tactics were those of an AI opponent in a computer strategy game -- technically competent, but completely unimaginative. He's also a bit like a player (or an AI opponent) in a fantasy-themed strategy game who insists on "roleplaying" his strategy and tactics -- refusing to team up paladins and demons, because paladins and demons shouldn't work together, even if they are an unbeatable combination.

Ansom represented stasis and unconsciousness, and thus was the first challenge for Parson to overcome.

Kreistor
2009-04-24, 07:10 PM
(I didn't say "not a flaw", I said "not a flaw that counteracts the charge of pandering".)

Ah, you're right. I missed this sentence:


Personally, I think "pandering" is a less controversial accusation against this story than "Mary Sue".

My apologies.

ishnar
2009-04-24, 08:10 PM
To my mind, the key characteristic of a "Mary Sue" is that the character doesn't really belong in the story.

erm. Now that I've gone up and looked at all the info on it, that has nothing to do with it. Main characters can be Mary Sues. The term was originally for Fanfics, but since it basically means "wish fulfillment" character, there is no reason why it cannot apply to a main character.

Glome
2009-04-25, 03:57 PM
Isn't obvious that the real Mary Sue is Bogroll? I mean, he gets a name with significance plus a title, he has unusual eyes, he imparts profound wisdom and is well loved by everyone except his fellow henchmen, who are clearly jealous of him because he has traits not normally found in twolls, and these jealous henchmen almost all die anyway.

Sure, Bogroll has his faults, but they are meant to be endearing and don't get in the way of him getting promoted to chief lackey and personally taking down Ansom by himself, and thus he gets his heroic sacrifice scene. And when Bogroll dies it breaks up Parson so much that he destroys Gobwin Knob in response.

Plus, Bogroll is overweight but it doesn't get in his ability to kick ass, and he seems to have a series of conveniently useful skills for starting out as a lackey, from being able to make armor complete with crest, stylish hats, and pigeon pie.

Clearly this story is all about Bogroll as an idealized author avatar insertion into the story. In fact I'm sure Bogroll isn't really dead and will come back to save the day just when everyone is talking about how great Bogroll was and how much things would be different if he was still alive. Of course he will be packing lasers and have an archon on each arm by then.

Lord of Rapture
2009-04-25, 08:28 PM
Isn't obvious that the real Mary Sue is Bogroll? I mean, he gets a name with significance plus a title, he has unusual eyes, he imparts profound wisdom and is well loved by everyone except his fellow henchmen, who are clearly jealous of him because he has traits not normally found in twolls, and these jealous henchmen almost all die anyway.

Sure, Bogroll has his faults, but they are meant to be endearing and don't get in the way of him getting promoted to chief lackey and personally taking down Ansom by himself, and thus he gets his heroic sacrifice scene. And when Bogroll dies it breaks up Parson so much that he destroys Gobwin Knob in response.

Plus, Bogroll is overweight but it doesn't get in his ability to kick ass, and he seems to have a series of conveniently useful skills for starting out as a lackey, from being able to make armor complete with crest, stylish hats, and pigeon pie.

Clearly this story is all about Bogroll as an idealized author avatar insertion into the story. In fact I'm sure Bogroll isn't really dead and will come back to save the day just when everyone is talking about how great Bogroll was and how much things would be different if he was still alive. Of course he will be packing lasers and have an archon on each arm by then.

You have won this thread. Now, please let it die.

BillyJimBoBob
2009-05-19, 08:40 AM
In fact I'm sure Bogroll isn't really dead and will come back to save the day just when everyone is talking about how great Bogroll was and how much things would be different if he was still alive.Wrong! :smallbiggrin: