The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    No, it's not Judy's fate that was avoided, it was Charlie's. Jillian's prophasy was to kill the ruler of Haffington and that is what happened. The prophasy that Judy would kill Charlie, on the other hand...

    Actually, we never actually heard the specific wording of the prophasy, I guess. I mean, if the wording was "Charlie shall die to an other-world warlord", rather than something like "Judy will kill Charlie", then all he did was delay Fate (by over a decade, so it was certainly a worthwhile delay).

    Regardless, it's really hard to to believe that a fated unit can die with things left unfinished. It's not just plot armour, it's visible, blatentent, plot armour. It's plot armour to the point that Rob can't even help himself. I believe he said that it wasn't Fate's plan to use Jed to save Parson, but that is still what ended up happening. Given that there isn't a single, solid, example of fate being thwarted, not even as a example story. It's just really hard to swallow.

    I think the story does need to show fate losing, if the story wants to give any sense of tension to the narrative.
    Last edited by tomaO2; 2018-08-31 at 12:07 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    New update.

    I don't wanna give spoilers, but let me just say that if you were like me, and hoping that Ben sending Parson a message through the hat would mean that Parson would FINALLY have a chance to shine by solving a problem that stumped everyone else, then prepare yourself for disappointment.

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    Continuing the trend of people not named Parson using cleverness to win the immediate crisis, it's now Ben's turn. Meh, given that we know Ben's plan before it happens, something will probably go wrong with it.
    Last edited by tomaO2; 2018-09-01 at 02:56 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by tomaO2 View Post
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    Continuing the trend of people not named Parson using cleverness to win the immediate crisis, it's now Ben's turn. Meh, given that we know Ben's plan before it happens, something will probably go wrong with it.
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    Well, if I'm reading the idea right, Ben is trying to put TV in a situation where it's perpetually in debt to GK so that it cannot pay Charlie anything until the GK debt is settled first?
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by DigoDragon View Post
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    Well, if I'm reading the idea right, Ben is trying to put TV in a situation where it's perpetually in debt to GK so that it cannot pay Charlie anything until the GK debt is settled first?
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    Even more than that: If that agreement is made prior to the one with Charlie Shirley, then up to 25 million smuckers of the payment of to Charlescomm/Faq will go to GK instead...at the time of payment, not sooner; so without some other autopayment taking place (Caesar? Previously undisclosed agreement from Don?), Charlie/Shirley/Huehue will have no advance warning.

    Potentially, listed units and cities may be transferred to Gobwin Knob instead of Charlescomm/Faq...which is the only way I could see this working as part of a ploy to keep Transylvito alive.
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

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    They should have enough to fully pay back GK already. What this means is that neither side should be dying for lack of upkeep after the agreement. Then any units turned to CC can be asked to turn back to TV at no penalty, just like Bill was able to turn to CC before. Thus they aren't out of money and they aren't out any loyal units. They're still in a bad position if CC sends any archons their way, but it buys them the time to start worrying about the future again.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zalabim View Post
    They should have enough to fully pay back GK already.
    Maybe, but if/when some fighting takes place (eg. to clear TV's capital of CC's molls),
    a lot of penalties will stack up.
    And as I understand the plan, those will get re-routed to GK too
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Just checked a detail, and I think this might actually have found a workable loophole, one that's there only because of this deal going through Shirley - the GK/CC agreement specifies alternative penalties if either party incurs a penalty and is unable to pay it, and Charlie would undoubtedly include such clauses here if he were negotiating directly, but Shirley's demands as stated do not include any such thing. If TV renders itself incapable of paying the demands at just the right moment, the agreement could go through but not actually transfer anything to CC. Now they just have to make certain that Caesar gets freed as part of the deal.
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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by tomaO2 View Post
    I don't wanna give spoilers, but let me just say that if you were like me, and hoping that Ben sending Parson a message through the hat would mean that Parson would FINALLY have a chance to shine by solving a problem that stumped everyone else, then prepare yourself for disappointment.
    Hope dies last, I guess? I mean at this point Parson E. Gotti is anagram for - Some random dude.
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Maybe we need to see more Fanfic about Mr. Case.
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  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Honestly, maybe we should just make Ben the protagonist going forwards. Come on, Hip Wizard Consigliere Ben Franklin is a pretty cool character, and he did more useful stuff with Parson's gauntlet in like ten minutes than Parson has done in the entire comic.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Update.

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    At last, a comic focused on someone using contract law to wrangle an advantage that will definitely not be reversed by the other side doing their own rules-wrangling over the next few pages.

    ...well, "next few pages" is optimistic, isn't it.

    But seriously the back and forth in this book is ridiculous. It feels like everything is just an endless succession of maneuvers and plot-devices intended to get everyone into a particular position, much of which is then undone by the next succession of maneuvers. What's the point of all of this? Where is it going? It feels like the story is never willing to settle down and explore one particular status quo at length.
    Last edited by Aquillion; 2018-09-05 at 01:01 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

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    So right now it's looking like our protagonists are going to be saved by Deus ex Machina rather than any cleverness of their own. They sure are lucky that their opponent's side was randomly taken over by an arrogant moron that's hamstringing themselves at every turn. What a satisfying triumph for our protagonists! Totally worth the last 4 and a half years of buildup to this moment!

    I know that Erfworld has always had its major plots resolved this way, but at least we used to see the protagonists be clever along the way and sorta make things happen. When is the last time Parson and company did anything remotely effective? At this point they're basically a bunch of bumbling idiots that should have died a long time ago, except they're repeatedly saved by blind luck or deus ex machina.
    It's not a fun or satisfying story to read, even if you put aside the horrendous pacing issues.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

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    I mean, I'm sure that Charlie will pull something, or some other contrived series of events will snatch this football away at the last moment.

    Eventually Parson will do something. The authors aren't complete idiots - they do have a goal, I'm sure. It's just that at this point it feels like the past... four, five years of strips? Most of them have just been maneuvering the contracts and rules and characters into position for a payoff that can't possibly be worth it.

    Heck, remember Big Think? Man, they were sure important for... I think several years of the comic's publication, weren't they? And at the end of the day the whole purpose of all that seems to have been to change the setting in a few specific, contrived ways.

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    I think we've gone several strips now in a row without characters going STRINGSTRINGSSTRINGSSSTTRRRIIINNNGGGSSSS!!!!!!!!

    That alone is a significant improvement, but still the worst book so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquillion View Post
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    I mean, I'm sure that Charlie will pull something, or some other contrived series of events will snatch this football away at the last moment.

    Eventually Parson will do something. The authors aren't complete idiots - they do have a goal, I'm sure. It's just that at this point it feels like the past... four, five years of strips? Most of them have just been maneuvering the contracts and rules and characters into position for a payoff that can't possibly be worth it.

    Heck, remember Big Think? Man, they were sure important for... I think several years of the comic's publication, weren't they? And at the end of the day the whole purpose of all that seems to have been to change the setting in a few specific, contrived ways.
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    I'm not saying the authors are idiots, but considering they blatantly retcon the story whenever they feels like it, they clearly haven't been planning very far ahead either. Multiple times they drive the plot in a wall and then basically set stuff on fire to keep it going.

    Contrast with Oots, where we've went from some generic group in a generic dungeon against a generic lich to an epic saga to save the world from the god-slaying abomination that already caused the destruction of the world millions of times, and Rich didn't need to retcon anything to make this development despite he admitting he's making up half the stuff as he goes along, with the comic starting as just a way to poke fun at D&D rules. Whereas Erfworld already tried to get a massive plot going with Fate since book 1 but the author keeps tripping on his own feet so saws them off, replaces them with makeshift prosthethics, and tries to keep limping forward, repeat several times.


  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Was the retcon ever anything major? I thought it was just minor corrections of spelling mistakes and background worldbuilding I don't really care about like the color of the dragons.

    As far as the Contract(s), GK are rich again which is nice and I suppose all the TVians who turn to Charlescomm can immediately betray and croak their new side and turn back. It's still a very bad contract for TV. If they don't take Bunny's corpse back immediately their 'leader' will stay a vegetable indefinitely probably.

  16. - Top - End - #46
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Erfworld's plotting was fine through book 2. A bit slow (although a lot of that comes from the webcomic publishing method, and I suspect it'd be fine reading it in a compiled volume), maybe some things people dislike or disagree with, but I don't think it had any fundamental flaws in direction.

    As I mentioned, I think those books were mostly held together by being about a single military campaign each - while they swung back and forth, it was always clear to readers that the underlying military conflict was progressing with each twist and turn.

    Book 3 / 4 just feels... too chaotic. Things are constantly swinging back and forth without any clear underlying structure. Stuff is set up as if it seems huge and important, then swept away by another twist. Sudden drastic changes to the setting or to overall direction. Massive buildup to stuff that never happens because another twist preempts it.

    I feel like if I was to sit down and write a synopsis of book 1 or book 2, it'd be pretty straightforward and easy to follow. If I were to write one for book 3, it'd seem like ridiculous nonsense - the sort of thing you get when a mainstream comic book goes through a bunch of different writers and you try to read all their plots and retcons coherently. (In this case I don't mean that Erfworld has many literal retcons, but in terms of the "all the previous stuff didn't really matter, here's the new deal" plot twists that you see in mainstream comics when a new writer takes over and changes directions. Sudden magical events that change or contravene the established rules, etc.)

    I think perhaps that what they intended this book to feel like was a game of lightspeed chess with Charlie (so the chaos and confusion is definitely meant to be there, since that sort of lightspeed chess between genuises is supposed to feel a bit like that.) Except that... neither Parson nor Charlie feel like they actually have very much influence over what's going on at all. It's mostly just random events. I'm not actually one of those people who feels that the story needs to constantly be about Parson or playing up his genius or anything, and in principle I don't even mind some random chaos.

    My problem is that with the sort of story they seem to be trying to tell, cutting out the chessmasters (whose scheming, and the personalities and rivalries expressed through them, would normally give the story structure) results in chaotic nonsense that doesn't feel very interesting or entertaining to read, and which feels increasingly silly and bizarre if you zoom out and look at what's actually happened over the past few years of comics.
    Last edited by Aquillion; 2018-09-06 at 02:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    The most recent massive retcon was that before capturing a side's leader was explicitly stated to shut down all the other units of the side. A pretty big deal when, say, Stanley was fighting Jillian.

    But the author suddenly decided he just needed Caesar to be held prisioner and the rest of TeeVeenians to work for his rescue, thus he retconned things so that the leader can be in chains yet the rest of TeeVee can keep running business as usual.

    What really leaves a bad taste in the mouth is that Charlie's plan was originally pretty good, as soon as he got Caesar captured the rest of TeeVee would be completely at his mercy, but the author literally changed the world's rules just to screw Charlie over.

    So literally any plan that anybody can come up with is now useless because the author showed he'll just change the rules to make it fail when he feels like it.

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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    I mean, I'm not sure I'd say Charlie's plan was great, narratively. It depended on Bill being able to bring all the dolls with him when he turned (a new, out-of-the-blue mechanic), being able to enchant an item to take his former chief warlord prisoner with just a touch (a new, out-of-the-blue mechanic), so perfectly that nobody had the slightest hope of rescuing Caesar without cutting a deal with him.

    Basically it feels like the authors had an end state in mind in terms of what units are where and what contracts are in effect, and just brute forced rules and events to get us there. Which is... how must of Book 3 / 4 has felt. Everything feels like protracted setup that sometimes gets discarded for more setup.
    Last edited by Aquillion; 2018-09-06 at 02:33 AM.

  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by deuterio12 View Post
    The most recent massive retcon was that before capturing a side's leader was explicitly stated to shut down all the other units of the side. A pretty big deal when, say, Stanley was fighting Jillian.
    Which in turn was also a retcon of something that happened in IPTSF, where Olive was at risk of being rescued by Haffaton despite being prisoner. I assume the new retcon was partially to help explain a contradiction that was added by mistake.

    But yes, it would like to know the rules before they use them. Especially that absurd "the power of friendship can be used to teleport people" rule.

  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    A recent comment by the Giant had him mention that he wished that he hadn't leaned so hard on making fun of D&D rules when his comic started, because he would have preferred to have more flexibility in how he wrote his story and not have to deal with a bunch of nitpicking by fans.

    That comment boggles my mind. this is a guy that knows a LOT about how 3.5 works, I don't think there should be an issue on working within the framework. He's GMed numerous campaigns around it that didn't need extra stuff. If he can't make something work within the rules, I don't think it's something that needs to be done.

    This brings me to Erfworld. I think that Erfworld is a decent example of why you DON'T want to do that. It's nice to have firm limits on what can or can't be done, without worrying about constant changes coming from nowhere. This is especially true when your protagonist is the strategist type. You can tell a good story with lots of surprises, even when people know the rules, and nothing feels clever when you add this level of randomness to the plot.

    Japanese stuff like Naruto is another example of things getting annoying due to no limits on what is possible. I enjoyed that story for a long time but the power creep just got too much. Just give me some solid rules to base things on.
    Last edited by tomaO2; 2018-09-06 at 09:25 PM.

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Naruto is not power creep. Remember, 8000 was an unbelievable level of power in one Japanese combat manga until it went super-exponential.
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  22. - Top - End - #52
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    I honestly don't mind not being told the rules, or even having them made up on the fly, as long as the underlying story feels coherent. Many fairy tales or early fantasy stories don't really set any limits on how their magic works - the original Aladdin, for instance (not the Disney version) introduces new rules on the fly as necessary. It doesn't hurt the story.

    But the key there is that the story doesn't revolve around those rules, or around magical tricks. Where I think a story has a problem is when unexplained, unexpected "magical stuff" is used to resolve the story (or a major plot arc.)

    "Why don't we use [MAGIC POWER THAT WOULD RUIN THE PLOT]?" "Oh, we can't because [ARBITRARY REASON]" is fine, because it doesn't get in the way of an ultimately satisfying resolution that depends on everything up until now.

    "How are we going to defeat the villain?" "We're going to use [MAGIC RULE THAT I MADE UP JUST NOW]" is unsatisfying, because it feels like it makes everything up until that point into a waste. (Also, this can sometimes be a problem even if the rule has been previously-established, but that's more of a subjective issue in terms of "is this ending satisfying?" and depends a lot on the tone of the story up until then.)

    I was fine with the retcon about rulers being captured, because it let the story continue and didn't really resolve anything - it didn't feel like it was in the way of good storytelling, so to speak. Whereas I got really annoyed at Big Think (and a few other, similar things) because it felt like many long-running plot threads were being suddenly resolved by arbitrary magic out of nowhere, making the time invested in them feel pointless.

    EDIT: Also, one other thing regarding Jed using threads to pull Parson back. I think it's particularly bad to come up with a convoluted explanation that is less satisfying than the default obvious one. Just going with "GK (the side) is Parson's home now" would have been a bit glurge-y, sure, and plenty of people were eye-rolling about it in advance, but it would have fit and would have made a decent story, a decent commentary on Parson's character development, and so on. The thread-trick Jed pulled didn't really mean as much.
    Last edited by Aquillion; 2018-09-07 at 01:11 AM.

  23. - Top - End - #53
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by keybounce View Post
    Naruto is not power creep. Remember, 8000 was an unbelievable level of power in one Japanese combat manga until it went super-exponential.
    Just because one story does power creep worse doesn't mean that stories that aren't as bad at it aren't power creep.
    Last edited by Lizard Lord; 2018-09-07 at 02:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by Anteros View Post
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    So right now it's looking like our protagonists are going to be saved by Deus ex Machina rather than any cleverness of their own. They sure are lucky that their opponent's side was randomly taken over by an arrogant moron that's hamstringing themselves at every turn. What a satisfying triumph for our protagonists! Totally worth the last 4 and a half years of buildup to this moment!

    I know that Erfworld has always had its major plots resolved this way, but at least we used to see the protagonists be clever along the way and sorta make things happen. When is the last time Parson and company did anything remotely effective? At this point they're basically a bunch of bumbling idiots that should have died a long time ago, except they're repeatedly saved by blind luck or deus ex machina.
    It's not a fun or satisfying story to read, even if you put aside the horrendous pacing issues.
    Yeah, so much stuff has been going on, but it feels like Parson and Charlie are just reacting to everything instead of deciding actions. Charlie especially since his tower has pretty much unplugged him from the story and has been doing all the work. I kinda feel sorry for charlie, and then I remember "Wait, wasn't this the big bad dude everyone feared and hated because he had connections and was really smart in contract law? What happened to that Charlie?"

    Towers, dude. Totally harshing on our fun.


    Quote Originally Posted by deuterio12 View Post
    I think we've gone several strips now in a row without characters going STRINGSTRINGSSTRINGSSSTTRRRIIINNNGGGSSSS!!!!!!!!

    That alone is a significant improvement, but still the worst book so far.
    You make a fair point there. I certainly don't miss those string talks and the story is much better not harping on them.



    Quote Originally Posted by deuterio12 View Post
    The most recent massive retcon was that before capturing a side's leader was explicitly stated to shut down all the other units of the side. A pretty big deal when, say, Stanley was fighting Jillian.

    But the author suddenly decided he just needed Caesar to be held prisioner and the rest of TeeVeenians to work for his rescue, thus he retconned things so that the leader can be in chains yet the rest of TeeVee can keep running business as usual.

    What really leaves a bad taste in the mouth is that Charlie's plan was originally pretty good, as soon as he got Caesar captured the rest of TeeVee would be completely at his mercy, but the author literally changed the world's rules just to screw Charlie over.

    So literally any plan that anybody can come up with is now useless because the author showed he'll just change the rules to make it fail when he feels like it.
    It's really a shame. At one point I thought the set up would be Parson and Stanley leading an attack force through a rigged portal and invade TV to save their allies (plus, resolve the GK prisoner issue in the MK. How long have those poor units been tied up? Feels like years). TV might end up falling, but characters like Ben and Skye could end up joining GK's side while GK had the funds for it. Well, had.

    And then we could cut to a now-barbarian Vinny and Ansom making their way back to old GK capital and deal with the Jillian side of the story.
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lizard Lord View Post
    Just because one story does power creep worse doesn't mean that stories that aren't as bad at it aren't power creep.
    Yea, I was just using Naruto as an example, but I have dropped numerous stories due to absurd power creep gains, and Dragonball Z certainly counts. It always gets annoying after awhile when the story starts revolving around new surprise abilities to win various fights. Japan has a real problem with this.

    While I vastly prefer manga over comics overall, at least comics keep the power levels of their superheroes relatively stable.

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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by tomaO2 View Post
    Japan has a real problem with this.
    They literally got nuked when nobody knew nukes existed.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by tomaO2 View Post
    Yea, I was just using Naruto as an example, but I have dropped numerous stories due to absurd power creep gains, and Dragonball Z certainly counts. It always gets annoying after awhile when the story starts revolving around new surprise abilities to win various fights. Japan has a real problem with this.

    While I vastly prefer manga over comics overall, at least comics keep the power levels of their superheroes relatively stable.
    Small digression, this isn't the issue with Japan at all. It's the issue with two concepts "Raising the Stakes" and "Continuous Serialization". Basically whenever you raise the stakes in a story, you do it by introducing a bigger threat your main character must overcome. So what happens if your series runs for two or five or ten or twenty or fifty years? Well few things can happen:

    1. "Hero upgrade". This causes power creep. If your hero overcomes each progressively stronger enemy, he'll be exponentially stronger, because hero grows relative compared to villain, and next villain grows relative compared to hero. Let's say audience need to see someone is 50% stronger in order to have that moment of one guy beating another. E.g Goku fights a villain and in next iteration becomes 50% stronger.

    Goku's Power Villain power
    X 1.5X
    2.25X 3.37X
    5.06X 7.59X
    11.385X 17.077X
    25.616X 38.424X
    57.637X 86.455X
    129.68X 194.52X
    291.78X 437.68X
    656.52X 984.77X
    1477.16X 2215.74X
    So after about ten fights Your Goku is 3323 times stronger than he starter. And this is taking a conservative 50% assessment. Imagine if Goku needed to be twice or ten times as strong as the villain. And in just two fights, Goku will be 8000 strong. If it was double, he'd only need 7 fights.

    Also do note Superman started only impervious to bullets, but other writers started adding more and more powers.


    2. "Hero reset". Reset the hero to basic state. This gets repetitive and obvious after a while. This is route Bleach took - howw many time did Ichigo lost all his powers only to get them back plus some extra.

    3. "Hero retirement". Basically scrap your hero and start with new protagonist. For obvious reasons this will not sit well with audience, but this is essentially what JoJo did.
    Last edited by -D-; 2018-09-07 at 11:28 AM.
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  28. - Top - End - #58
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    They literally got nuked when nobody knew nukes existed.
    Yeah, about that...turns out the US wasn't real good at that whole infosec thing and Russia was basically watching everything in Los Alamos play out with a slight time lag. /quibble

  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Even beyond that, lots of people knew that nukes were possible. As one of the people who worked on the Atomic Bomb said, the moment the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, every competent physicist in the world knew exactly what it was.

    Making a functional atomic bomb requires more work than that to get everything exactly right, of course. But the basic principle is not that complex. It's not like they uncroaked a volcano or something - now that would have come out of nowhere.
    Last edited by Aquillion; 2018-09-07 at 12:02 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #60
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    Default Re: Erfworld Thread XI: Finally, it's HAMMER-TIME!

    Let's keep away from discussing this topic and stick to the comic. We are likely close to the line that shouldn't be crossed and I'd like to keep this thread unlocked!
    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2018-09-07 at 12:19 PM.
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