Part 16 of 20 in Ethereum

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At Ethereum City, once everyone had exhausted their juice, they often settled down to round table discussions about their disciplines and the side. Actually having an honest-to-the-Titans side again had infused them with new energy and a sense of purpose; if any of them had been hired as mercenaries, they would have lazily dumped their juice into whatever they had been paid to, but something had inspired them with a drive to do better than that. In one recent debate, Miles had mentioned offhand that May was the queen of Dollamancy, not because she was so good at creating things with it, but because she was good at destroying it.

 

The notion had stuck with Akira; she had spent all her time with Wi Xu trying to bolster units with her craft, and she’d never really got anywhere with it. It was only after she begun dusting Arthur’s uncroaked with it and using the surplus luck that she’d had enough to boost Sharkey, and classed up to adept. So maybe, she reasoned, there were more opportunities for her if she tried siphoning luck from and to other sources.

 

Sharkey had set up his crystal ball so they could watch Samedi searching through the northern ruins for loot. The hex was full of fallen stone arches and buried cellars and cracked domes strewn with weeds and debris. Sharkey couldn’t give audio, but it was a windy hex, pathological for archers and flyers, and it would be very loud with the howl of wind and the rattle of rubbish against the ruined masonry.

 

Ruins had a fifty percent chance to pop a new object each morning. It could either be a treasure chest, usually containing one of a gem, a scroll, or an item (very rarely, an artefact); or a stack of ferals. If a treasure chest, it would depop at evening if unclaimed; ferals would hunt the surrounding hexes for provisions or cannibalise each other to extend their survival time. Interestingly, the contents of the chest were not determined until it was found.

 

Findamancers had a bonus, where a chest they found would contain a better item than one found by anyone else, such as a bigger gem, so Samedi had searching as his daily chore and contribution to the side. A few moments ago, he’d spotted the brass-bound treasure chest hidden behind a toppled pillar, and approached.

 

Any bets on what it is?” Akira asked.

 

Not against you,” Sharkey said, “because I’m not a complete moron.”

 

I hope it’s a hat,” said Cap.

 

I don’t think it’s a hat,” said Misty, who knew the odds to three decimal places.

 

Samedi hooked his fingers under the chest’s lid and lifted. The casters back in the tower leant forward to see what was inside, then all except Akira jumped as an angry alicecat launched itself out and latched onto Samedi’s face, scratching furiously. He staggered back, casting a hoboken that went wild and threw sparks off a railing, and the cat leapt off and under the pillar and grinned menacingly at him, its fur standing on end. Samedi fled, his hat askew, waving his arms as he approached the southern hex boundary. Seeing a noncombat unit running away triggered the cat’s predatory instincts, and it chased after him.

 

Experiment successful. Pro Toast’s turn was about to be a whole lot more interesting. Akira suddenly noticed Lisa giving her a stern look; she assumed an expression of innocence. “What?”

 

Nope, not a hat,” Misty said.

 

Should we be concerned for his pain, or laughing at it?” Sharkey asked.

 

A little bit of both, I should think,” Miles said. He had a draft treaty open, one which Tom had asked him to work on in preparation for when they defeated Pro Toast and needed to make terms with the neighbours to that expanded territory. His notes were a detailed opus, listing gotchas like the one that had ‘conceded’ their farms to Roham while in fact retaining them, full of nested contingencies for preventing anything like how they couldn’t chase Charlie’s Archons out of those farms.

 

I know I am,” Cruller said, fiddling with a swatch of cloth. To Akira’s great exasperation, it was white with black dots.

 

This is worse than the thing with the nunchucks,” Lisa said.

 

Don’t mention the nunchucks,” everyone else snapped in unison.

 

There was a moment’s silence while they repressed the memory.

 

Honestly, I think it’s just sad,” Mal said, changing the topic.

 

What, because we’re on negative upkeep and kind of depending on him to find gems every so often?” Misty asked.

 

Because it underscores our side’s biggest problem: our ruler is a hot caster. Tom was in the right place at the right time to seize this city, but a ruler who has to live in the field to use his magic is ridiculous. This city could go neutral any day.”

 

Akira frowned. She’d never met a Stuffamancer she liked; every last one of them was insufferably arrogant. Mal was high-level sure enough, but it didn’t mean she’d be any good if she were in charge like she thought she deserved to be. She had neither Tom’s charisma nor May’s efficiency nor Lisa’s head for machinations. “Aren’t you forgetting someone?”

 

Mal looked down her nose at her. “I’m sure you’ve been very helpful, dear, but relying on Luck tricks isn’t as reliable as you like to think it is. Especially at your level.”

 

Akira narrowed her eyes. Between the luck she’d borrowed from Samedi’s search check and the fact that Mal had spent most of her juice promoting their fresh stack of stabbers –

 

The side’s doing fine, all things considered,” Sharkey said. “I’d say that proves that Tom’s leadership is worth the risk.”

 

It’s kind of a moot point,” Lisa said. “We can’t afford an heir, and if we could, it’d be a better idea to use the money to hire another Shockmancer and have Tom tag out. So unless you happen to have a hundred thousand odd in gems hidden under that cloak –”

 

She doesn’t,” Akira said, flicking her eyes downward very deliberately. Her level and raw power was less than half of Mal’s, but that certainly wasn’t true of all their respective assets.

 

You insolent –”

 

Children, please,” Miles said wearily, not looking up. “I swear, every day you’re at one another’s throats, it’s worse than my old side was, and they literally had failed coups more often than they won wars. Can’t you find some constructive outlet? Maybe a foosball table?”

 

That actually increases the probability that one throttles the other,” Misty said. “Dramatically.”

 

There is one thing you could do, actually,” Sharkey said. “Elf hunting.”

 

He snapped his fingers. His crystal ball crackled with juice and static, and switched to a scene of a forest hex. In it were stack upon stack of elves, sitting and chatting with each other. The room suddenly went dead silent.

 

Ten hexes away, in the cluster of heavy forest north of here. I just noticed them, but they might have been there for some time. Dense terrain resists Lookamancy.”

 

Miles leant forward. “There’s at least five brands there. Jam, Woodsy, Eager, Boring, and Follower. It looks like the Eager and Follower tribes are having some friction.” He took a leaf of paper from a stack by the wall, magicked a report onto it, and gave it to Cap to send to Tom.

 

Akira blinked. “Woodsy, Boring, Jam, Follower, Eager?”

 

Are those five particularly important for anything?”

 

Warlords are inane and only say three or four things, so if you spend a little time with them and you’re not a complete imbecile” she made a gesture which might possibly be misinterpreted as indicating Mal “you remember them. One of our on-again-off-again enemies used elves. Woodsies are used to escort troops through forests. Borers can dig, including through city walls. Jam elves can lead a dance, Followers get an extra bonus when led, and Eager elves … they’ll be for tagging in so the Followers can restack with warlords without giving attacks of opportunity. They’re breeding up to attack us here.”

 

They’d never dare,” Cruller said.

 

Akira gave the Dollamancer a look. She could be aggravatingly stupid sometimes. “You’re right, they’re probably massing to attack some other city within two turns’ march. Let me check the maps, there must be at least half a dozen they could be–”

 

Do we know who they’re with?” Lisa said, presumably hoping to head off the ensuing argument. “Pro Toast, the guilds, a third party? Maybe Colesworth or those guys with the flying pigs found a contract loophole?”

 

Miles gave her a put-upon look. “I know you think your discipline is better than mine –”

 

Doesn’t everyone think their discipline is better than yours?” Akira asked, emphasising ‘yours’ in just the right way to make it quite clear that she didn’t mean it in the generic sense.

 

“– but I’m not completely incompetent. The elves are aligned with Pro Toast. They don’t have the livery, but you can see it in the way that … well … I guess you can’t. We were wondering about who their allies were.”

 

Who is north of us, anyway?” Cruller asked. “We just ignored that direction when we showed up here, but we’re nowhere near the Northern Edge.” She blinked. “Are we?”

 

Hiller’s maps called it the Cymak Ocean,” said Sharkey. “There are dozens of islands with two or three cities apiece. His notes implied that none of them was a serious side.”

 

They wouldn’t be,” Cruller said. “Island sides never have more than a few cities, mine was and it peaked at six. Something about it being hard to defend against ships. They’re probably a bunch of three-city sides too busy screwing each other to notice us.”

 

Sharkey shrugged. He didn’t really have enough juice to check.

 

Getting back on topic,” said Lisa, “Misty, if they attack, what are our chances?”

 

Mm. Sharkey, try to pan around a bit, let me get a better head count, and they’re probably spread over a few hexes. Miles, call me a racist but elves all look exactly the same to me, make sure I’m not double-counting. Can you pick out warlords and knights?”

 

When Gus had testified to the Quorum of the Qualified that Tom had murdered Hiller, most of the free casters who hadn’t been with them from the start got cold feet and stopped visiting, so Ambese Tower was quieter than it had been. Even Plum had quietly slipped back into the Magic Kingdom in the night, leaving only an apology note where his amp had been. Misty had tried too, but the Thinkamancers and Hat Magicians promptly told her that their rates for helping her hire out had experienced sudden inflation; she took the hint and returned to Ethereum.

 

I count a total of two hundred and forty-one,” Miles said at length.

 

Is that all?” Misty said, surprised. “We probably missed others, but that’s nowhere near enough to threaten us here. Even Mal’s knights would be enough to beat them” Mal smirked knowingly “with Thursday and that other girl leading, and then there are the daemons, walls, and us. 99.9% plus.”

 

Speaking as the one who was almost captured at Ellesstee after our last Mathamancer said we had it in the bag,” said Lisa, “because we didn’t account for them promoting reinforcements, I’d really rather go on the offensive here and spoil whatever they’re planning. If they don’t have enough troops to attack us yet, that just means that reinforcements are still arriving. There’s nothing valuable there but the ruins, and you don’t send five tribes to hold one of those.”

 

I wouldn’t,” said Akira. “Woodsy elves have forest capable, and that gives a combat bonus, as well as mobility. Without that Weirdomancer here to even things out, we’d just be throwing units away.”

 

Well then tell Tom to send her back here,” Lisa said to Miles. “This is the capital city, not some level one outpost, we can’t afford to lose this place.”

 

Good luck with that,” said Miles. “She’s seventy-odd hexes away and –”

 

There was a slam as Samedi appeared at the doorway, his face and clothing covered in scratches.

 

Bad day?” Akira asked with faux sympathy.

 

Package contained alicecat instead of treasure,” he said, slumping into a couch. “Would not find again.”

 

Can’t win ‘em all,” she said wisely. He scowled, swiped some ice cream from the pantry, and stalked off.

 

“– and in the middle of a campaign,” Miles continued to Lisa. “Tom’s not going to let her come all the way back here just to chase off some elves who aren’t even attacking yet.”

 

Is no-one else worrying about this at all?” Lisa said.

 

We’ve won every battle,” said Cruller.

 

Sure, except the one we lost,” Lisa said.

 

The one you lost,” Mal corrected. Cruller sniggered.

 

Lisa replied with an indecorous Sign. “The hot casters can take care of themselves in a fight, we can’t –”

 

Again, speak for yourself,” Mal said.

 

“– not if they plan to send the sort of firepower that they will have to send to attack a capital city, because they know that people who aren’t flipping morons” she made a respectable imitation of Akira’s earlier gesture “defend those properly. We don’t have a garrison, we have a few level one daemons too slow for Tom to care about, which neither we not the warlords have no idea how to use, and a few stacks of what I’m pretty sure are supposed to be offensive units.” The others gave a collective blank look. Akira refrained from rolling her eyes; everyone knew knights were for offence. “Urgh. Fine, at least tell them to hat us some scrolls.” She thought. “Croakamancy to reuse the knights, maybe a scroll of taming, and for a side with a Shockmancer ruler we sure don’t have any scrolls of that for capital defence.”

 

That’s because Tom’s been pouring all his spare juice into charging that new wand of his,” Miles said, but he transcribed the request anyway and gave it to Cap.

 

Akira fidgeted. “How long is this turn going to go on? Tom’s group is just riding along, they aren’t fighting anything. They must have reached the terminal hex by now.”

 

Lisa’s eyes flicked to Samedi for a moment, and then she gave that incredibly annoying grin that meant she’d figured out exactly what your motivation was. “Ah. You want to cut loose.”

 

Akira scowled. The two of them saw eye-to-eye a lot, and Lisa was good at getting people to do what she wanted, but she had a lot to learn about how to ensure it didn’t earn you enemies.

 

So much my opposite,” Lisa went on. “I knew how Thinkamancy was a weapon and went out with Tom’s gang to use it until I realised it wasn’t actually all that powerful. But you’ve only just figured out half of what Luckamancy can do, and you can’t do any of it because you’re stuck here.”

 

I can do plenty from here, thank you,” Akira said curtly.

 

Lisa gave a conceding shrug, then turned and went over to the pantry to get something to snack on. She certainly couldn’t argue the point; even on this turn with no attacking, Akira still had Duty. Tom had unilaterally decided on a new strategy where, instead of attacking Pro Toast’s next city, Point Onoreten, they would bypass it and launch a surprise attack on Pro Toast City, ideally ending the side in one decisive stroke; this left them within range of Onoreten’s garrison and hidden only by NV’s best veil, which Akira was charged with boosting. The idea was risky, but they were on negative upkeep and a few turns from an empty treasury, so a war of attrition wasn’t really an option.

 

There was a quiet whoosh as the turn ended.

 

Finally,” Akira muttered.

 

Their scouts are at it,” Sharkey remarked. On the crystal ball, time-accelerated infantrymen were picking through the swamp around Bogchog, investigating the city newly in Ethereum hands and finding it held by only a literal skeleton force.

 

The uncroaked were too slow to go with Tom’s group and too feeble to do much of anything else, so for want of a better use, they had sacked Bogchog down to one and left the uncroaked guarding it. Pro Toast would have to pay in units to retake it, which was probably worth more than the handful of extra shmuckers Ethereum would’ve got from razing the city altogether.

 

This is going to be utterly tedious, isn’t it,” Mal said, standing and stretching, cracking her spine.

 

Akira couldn’t resist poking at her. “Oh? What were you hoping would happen when you joined a caster side? I know you’re fond of knights, but …”

 

I’m fond of real magic, not Croakamancy,” Mal snapped, her nose twitching at the last word, and she turned and left, her cloak flaring behind her. Cruller followed her out.

 

Every caster thought their own discipline was best, but especially in the Magic Kingdom there was a social hierarchy, with Croakamancy second from the bottom, just above the Carnies, who were there less because their magic was intrinsically awful and more because they were a discipline populated entirely by criminals. Ethereum was theoretically founded on the notion of all casters having something to contribute, and all deserving respect because at least they could do magic, but old habits die hard. Mal’s couldn’t have picked a better line to get under Akira’s skin, though; not only was Croakamancy growing on her, but her own discipline was only third from the bottom, and the most despised casters had a certain solidarity.

 

Hurry up,” Sharkey called to Lisa. “Commercial break’s over.” On the crystal ball, Pro Toast infantry were lining up with knights and warlords to storm the city. There was only a knee-high wall, with stacks of uncroaked shambling about behind it. This wasn’t going to be a winnable battle.

 

Hey, I think those are the same guys who ambushed me at Ellesstee,” Lisa said, walking over with a platter of cookie dough to share around.

 

Cap tugged on Miles’ sleeve and handed him a note.

 

Actually, first we have a word from our sponsors,” he said. “Riley says they made a unit called Pattycake; it’s waiting in the garrison. Apparently it was a collaborative work. They want to know how it does.”

 

A unit?” Akira said. “Could she be a little vaguer? Is it a golem?”

 

There’s a … weird …” Lisa visibly struggled for words; one thing Ethereum had taught them all was that Language was wildly inadequate for talking about cross-discipline magic. “I want to say grandiocosmic string – it’s a Thinkamancy thing, don’t worry about the details – but it doesn’t have one singular … Let me start over. There’s a string-like object in the garrison, but it’s different from anything I’ve seen before. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Riley had done a caster link, it’s that unusual. I’ll bet you a rand that it’s absolutely ghastly, whatever it is. Five to one odds.”

 

No bet,” said Misty.

 

One moment,” Sharkey said through a mouthful of cookie dough, and the viewpoint flew inside Bogchog’s garrison.

 

It was only level one and little more than a few rows of mud huts with shared walls, and when Tom had sacked it and redesigned the architecture he hadn’t bothered leaving any windows. Bits of rubble littered the floor. It was cramped, dark, and even half a battlespace away, horribly claustrophobic. It was also devoid of any units.

 

I don’t see anything,” Misty said at length.

 

Could it be veiled?” Lisa asked. “If it’s collaborative and they have three Foolamancers now …”

 

I’d be able to see it if it was,” Sharkey said.

 

Go back outside,” Akira said. “The fight’s started, I need to see.”

 

Pro Toast’s four warlords were playing it safe, standing behind a wide screen of pikers and standing ground while the uncroaked autoattacked, mindlessly leaving cover and trying to attack defensive units. Lisa dropped a little juice to act as a commander and pulled the uncroaked back behind the walls, such as they were. The Pro Toast commanders conferred.

 

Akira cracked her knuckles. “Showtime.” She snapped her fingers, burning a little juice and cycling her Luckamancy Well up and down as the warlords re-stacked with knights and stabbers, then charged the city. “You live.” She picked out an usually short stabber, who engaged an uncroaked, ducked under its wild overhead blow, and buried her spear in its throat. “You croak.” A taller one with dark hair locked swords with another, then stumbled long enough for it to run her through. “You live.” A freckly redheaded knight chopped an uncroaked in half. “Well, that was a fun warm-up, but Mal actually has a point, I want to play with a real unit. Let’s wrap this up.”

 

All at once, the entire Pro Toast contingent lunged and critted dozens of targets, felling uncroaked all across the front, raising a single massive cloud of dust. They stumbled forward, dazed by their unexpected success, and looked around. A few nudged the dust piles with their toes, in case it was Foolamancy or some other trick.

 

You’re a psycho, you know?” Misty said.

 

Ooh, someone’s jealous,” Akira said.

 

Well, the city’s still in our hands, so Pattycake is in there somewhere,” Lisa said.

 

Akira cracked her knuckles again. “Time to find out how well this thing does with a full Luckamancy Well.”

 

One of the little things about life in the Magic Kingdom that she hated most was listening to other casters’ tales of their exploits while hired. When a Shockmancer boasted of soloing a leadership stack (it was considered poor form to revel in violence, but Shockmancers never cared about etiquette) or a Healomancer of saving the life of a handsome prince or beautiful princess, that persistent voice at the back of her mind would always pipe up, You can’t do anything like that. You know, if anyone ever hired you. It was impossible to shut up, but it was possible to repress for a while, and it felt amazing.

 

Sharkey moved the viewpoint again, whizzing around the cramped interior of the garrison, and this time the angle happened to be pointing just far up enough to notice their defensive golem. He stopped and panned over it.

 

Huh,” said Lisa.

 

Sweet mother pus-bucket,” Miles breathed. “Is that …”

 

Misty turned to Akira. “I take it back. You’re not a psycho.”

 

Can we see it from above?” Akira asked.

 

Can we not see it from above?” Lisa asked.

 

Sharkey frowned and applied a droplet of juice. “We can, but trust me, you really don’t want to, beyond knowing that it has the devours special.”

 

How on Erf do,” Miles began, before catching himself. “Nope, not asking that question.”

 

The bad news is that it’s abomination against Titans and Erf,” said Lisa, “but the good news is I think I can control it. It, uh, might take some figuring out, it has a … unique nervous system.”

 

Not going to let it fight on its own?” Akira asked.

 

Neither of our Healomancers is particularly good with sanity.”

 

You’re bored?” Miles guessed.

 

Lisa grinned. “So, it moves by … wow, that’s counterintuitive. Like climbing grappling hooks. So, let’s move it around back, to give me some more time to get used to it …”

 

Charlotte’s left some traps around,” Sharkey observed.

 

Who?” said Akira.

 

Our Changemancer. Honestly, you could learn the names of the casters on your side after a dozen turns.”

 

I can’t even remember how many of us there are. Twenty-four at first, plus Saito and Midgey here –”

 

Hey!” said Misty. Akira grinned, having got her rise, and continued without breaking pace.

 

“– as well as the mad Healomancer and that Foolamancer they’ve just turned, minus that idiot Rhyme-o-mancer and Moaning Marvin … are we on twenty-six?”

 

I think you’re missing someone,” said Miles, “but I can’t think who.”

 

Whatever,” said Akira. “I want to do something with traps anyway. Keep the camera on that expeditionary stack.”

 

Luckamancy buffs and nerfs were related to the little subconscious choices a unit made, things like whether to attack or parry low or high and exactly where to set their feet. So far, she’d only consciously tried doing this on allied units at a low level, with results like that they parried in the right or wrong direction as need be. However, she had to have also done it to enemies to make their archery consistently hit Jess rather than anyone else.

 

Today, though, her question was whether it was possible to apply it at a higher level. Even aside from the little choices, people weren’t perfectly predictable. They didn’t always give the same answer to a given question and set of circumstances (it would be a weakness in a military unit), so their decisions were at least partly governed by Luckamancy. That meant, theoretically, she should be able to influence their decisions, at least in situations without an unambiguous best option.

 

Lisa, you know about this sort of thing,” she said. “With suggestions, you can only get someone to do what they probably would’ve anyway, right?”

 

Something they thought of as a real option,” Lisa corrected. “Say you knew that one person had a crush on someone, but they’d never act on it. Suggestion could make them, even though there was basically zero chance. Why?”

 

How do you do it? You’ve said that there are soft skills to it.”

 

Basically? Find a way to rephrase the situation so that the benefits seem more important than they really are, and the costs are less. Trick them into thinking that their crush has been making eyes at them, that sort of thing. Everyone has something you can hook onto. The trick is knowing what. Actually being a Thinkamancer helps, or knowing the person, but it’s possible to cold read someone.” She paused. “No connection to cold casting.”

 

That’s what I was thinking. So if someone was afraid of traps, but was also afraid of the dark …”

 

There was a flash of light in Sharkey’s ball.

 

If it’s so subtle, how do you know it’s working, that they wouldn’t have done it anyway?”

 

If they were going to do it anyways, you don’t even have to cast. Find something which is a difficult decision that they have to make, ideally under pressure or which you know they’re emotional about, but which has a right and a wrong answer that you can work out easily enough, because you’re not involved or pressed for time.”

 

Mm. Splitting up to search more quickly is the wrong answer, isn’t it …”

 

What if Luckamancy can mimic Thinkamancy, on top of the other things it can do? It’d be just about the most powerful discipline.

 

You’re the only one on the side who can’t do anything without sacrificing a pile of units first, her voice of self-loathing chimed in. I’d settle for ‘not worthless’ first, if I were you.

 

You can shut up. I’ve paid my upkeep ten times over here. If it weren’t for me, Lisa and the others would have croaked at Ellesstee.

 

You know what else would have saved them? A Shockmancer, to just blast those knights. That would have kept the city, too. Or a Predictamancer, to see them coming, or a Moneymancer, to notice that Pro Toast had the money to promote them, or a Dirtamancer, to fortify the city …

 

Shut up!

 

She glared into the crystal ball and let her magic spread throughout the side.

 

 

 

AN

 

Mobility favours the attacker by facilitating force concentration, and oceans are good for mobility if Erf ships are anything like real ones, so it would follow that coastal cities and seafaring sides are hard to defend. When Cruller says that this means they’re impossible to build up, though, she has the limited perspective of a side which failed to do so; Seaworld and Anchorbar managed, I would assume through proactive diplomacy.

 

I’m not sure whether scrolls could be sent by hat. I’ve been sitting on the question for a while, because there’s a lot of scope to abuse unlimited teleports unless there are tight limits on what can be sent, and forbidding magic items is an obvious one, but magic is surprisingly vaguely-defined in Erfworld. I mostly decided yes because sending scrolls isn’t all that useful: only a caster can use them anyway, and a scribe caster with a hat can’t do much that one with a fast mount can’t. For Ethereum it certainly isn’t very useful, because the cold casters don’t normally expect to cast anything hot and there’s no point making cold scrolls.

Part 16 of 20 in Ethereum

Comments

    • Free Radical

      If they take Pro Toast's capital, they take all their treasury too, don't they? That would definitely solve their money problems for a while. Attacking a city with a portal to the MK when the MK is offering to support Pro Toast should be pretty interesting!

      What would happen to those elves when Pro Toast goes down, I wonder? They'd no longer have their upkeep paid, and probably couldn't forage for such a large number, so they'd pretty much have to attack Ethereum on their next turn more or less regardless of their odds, wouldn't they?

      That wouldn't be very interesting if there was no threat... and Pro Toast would probably try to spend their treasury rather than let Ethereum have it, so I wonder if they'd dump the entire treasury into promoting elves. Two big battles coming up, it looks like!

       

       

      • GrayMatter

        God damn this shit is good. Flipside was a hell of a treat too.

        • Jatopian

          Please don't hide links to story sections in the middle of a chapter.

          • hajo4

            Cold scrolls could still be used by hot casters.

            That could be useful to save time/juice,

            allow for surprises, etc.

            • LiveDrinkRepeat

              Love this fanfic, simply the best, I often read it even before Erfworld updates lol

               

              Pls never stop!

              • DunkelMentat

                Agree about secondary chapters, if I might call them such,tho I see that you put the link in the part of the story where a key decision is made on the flipside. Anyway.

                Loved that a character is struggling with learning every caster on her caster-filled side. I mean, who can relate?

                I LOVE the diversity in themes, explorations, and perspectives between chapters.  Such an interesting style of story telling.

                • Twofer

                  Thanks, everyone.

                   

                  @Jato, Dunkel:

                  Fair enough. We try things, sometimes they work.

                  Mm. I still think I tried to write too many characters, that it'd be better if I'd tried to keep it tight on about six major characters rather than give attention to everyone. I just reread one of my earlier works with that many designated major characters, and it felt slick, although maybe that's just my perfectionism talking, I'm never quite happy with anything I'm writing at the time.

                  @Hajo:

                  Cold magic is weaker than hot, and scrolls are weaker than live casting. Cold scrolls are therefore very weak. They can make sense for barbarians, and occasionally for sides, but a side that makes a habit of using them will lose to opponents with either hot casters writing stronger scrolls or cold casters not taking the scroll penalty. For example, a scroll of create golem costs more than a golem; the scroll has some interesting advantages, but it's rarely worth it, especially given it also costs much more than a Shockmancy scroll with enough power to destroy a golem.

                  @Drink:

                  Alas, it's not to be. The remaining chapters have all been planned. I guess I could do a sequel, but I don't think it'd add much. You'll see what I mean.

                  • Dewey the Signamancer

                    Cursed cliffhanger! I want to see a Luckamancer cut lose and show everyone what they can do. cry

                    • zilfallon

                      Sad thing is that with sooo many characters & references and some great amount of time between updates, I officially have NO BOOPING CLUE who is who and who looks like what.

                      • DunkelMentat

                        It can't go on forever because Tom is not fated to take over the world. No caster is.

                        • Twofer

                          @Dewey: It's covered a bit in Flipside, she doesn't really get to go all-out here because the battle is ended by setting the building on fire. She gets another chance next chapter. I have a soft spot for Luckamancy, it's maybe my preferred discipline because of all the combos it can pull, so I'm leery of overusing it and violating competitive balance.

                          @Zil: Yeah, this isn't my best work. The last few stories I've written were fanfics for other fandoms, that used mainly existing characters, so I got into the habit of not introducing anyone properly. I'll try to learn from this. There's always the cast page.

                          @Dunkel: He would reply that he doesn't want to, he just needs to become large enough to split off colonies, and the colonies will eventually take over the world for him because casters are stronger than warlords, achieving his objective of caster dominance. Cultural victory. Of course, this being an expy of Lord Voldemort, he would be lying; and given that his enemies have some Signamancy, they know that he's lying.

                          • Count_to_10

                            My take on Luckamancy and Predictamancy is "Causality Lag":  that the dice are rolled a short period before the actions are taken (or sometimes even consciously decided) and sets a short term Fate that determines weather the will action succeed or fail.  Luckamancy can swap the die rolls around, while Predictamancy can read the Fate for the action (giving you the option of delaying your action until the "next round" so that the dice for your actions are re-rolled).  All the little things that determine whether you hit or miss in the real world are just the "special effects" or "flavor text" of how Fate accomplishes the result the dice have determined.

                            • Twofer

                              My take is basically the same, inspired by computer science's lazy evaluation. Loosely, every side has an infinite number of future dice rolls, but they aren't visible (and if it's coded in a real computer, they aren't 'rolled') until queried. Elements of Luckamancy, Predictamancy, and Carnymancy can do things like reading ahead a short distance and reordering rolls, analysing what will happen ("we'll pop a Croakamancer" rather than a string of raw numbers, or "the enemy will dodge left" and therefore not needing to roll to decide where to aim), and fixing results by repeated reordering ("reorder minimally such that for every potentially fatal check other than self-inflicted incineration, Sylvia will get a passing roll").

                              • drachefly

                                If Woodsy elf warlords could grant forest-capable, then what was Tarfu? They could have brought in the whole column on the dwagon donut. I don't think elves get to even BE warlords.

                                • Twofer

                                  Ooh, good catch on Tarfu, I forgot him.