Erfworld

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Erf-076-parson.jpg

It's the little things that make a difference sometimes.

Erfworld is a Web Comic written by Rob Balder (of Partially Clips, and The FuMP), with the first book The Battle for Gobwin Knob illustrated by Jamie Noguchi (of Angry Zen Master and Yellow Peril), and the second book, Love is a Battlefield, illustrated by Xin Ye. The third book, Hamsterdance vs. the Charlie Foxtrot is in progress, is even longer. It was illustrated for the first half or so by David Hahn, but Xin Ye resumed art duties this time joined by Lauri Ahonen on inks and colors.

A fanatical, obsessed gamer geek gets magically summoned to another world to be the "Perfect Warlord" for a city that's losing a war, in a world that seems to be one giant Turn-Based Strategy wargame. (For instance, nobody can move beyond the immediate vicinity when it's not their side's turn.) Plays with many different strategy game tropes. Includes cutesy, Super-Deformed art and dark characterization, landing DEEP in the territory of Grotesque Cute. Many features of Erfworld are references to real-world popular culture and Internet memes.

Before Erfworld had its own site, it was hosted on the Giant in the Playground website, but it is otherwise unassociated with Rich Burlew (of The Order of the Stick).

Now has a Character Sheet in need of a lot of work.


Tropes used in Erfworld include:
  • Above the Influence: Parson is informed that, as a warlord, he can order the Archons or any other unit under his command to do any perverted thing he wants. He also realizes that there's no way he could bring himself to do something like that.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Wanda's take on Michael Jackson.
  • The Alliance: Ansom's forces.
  • All-Natural Gem Polish: Mined gems, which also glow and are diamond shaped.
  • All There in the Manual: In the time between book 1 and book 2, several text-only "updates" detailing the aftermath of the Battle For Gobwin Knob were released. They were so popular that the second book was changed to a webcomic/text hybrid format. Whether they are necessary or not to actually understanding the story is a matter of debate, but the authors are doing their best so that technically you can ignore the text updates and still know what's going on.
    • The other reason they gave for Book 2's text updates is that drawing comic pages takes a lot longer than writing text, so they'll be able to update more frequently this way.
  • Animal Eye Spy: Doombats for Transylvito, with the added bonus of being decent diversions in a fight.
    • More than diversions if you're Transylvitan and can stack enough leadership bonuses on them.
  • Angels Pose: Charlie's Archons, which are a direct Shout-Out to the Trope Namer
  • Animate Dead: Uncroaking a corpse creates a zombie controlled by the caster.
    • Later, Wanda gets an upgraded version of this (called Decrypting), which appears to actually brings the unit Back from the Dead, but loyal to her rather than to the unit's original side.
  • Arch Enemy: Charlie and Parson. As far as Charlie's concerned, Parson is the most dangerous being in all of Erfworld. When he realizes that Parson has been made Chief Warlord again, he immediately realizes the situation has become dire. He even starts providing extra support and advice to Stanley's enemies at cost, or even gratis. He is that worried about Parson. The feeling is mutual; Parson seems to believe that Charlie is his most cunning opponent.
    • According to Wanda Charlie is this to the Thinkamancers, possibly even the entire Magic Kingdom
  • Art Evolution: The longer Parson stays in Erfworld, the more realistic-looking the natives seem - though still super-deformed, of course. There's at least one Epileptic Trees to be had there...
    • Also, Book 2 is drawn by a different artist than book one. The new art is just as good, it's just... different... in small, subtle ways. One can get a sort of Uncanny Valley effect the first time seeing the new art style after being so used to the old one.
    • In a similar vein, Parson eventually loses his pupils, despite clearly showing them during his summoning. This implies the changes aren't a one-way street.
    • The in-story explanation is that this is the normal effect of a branch of magic called Signamancy.
  • The Art of War: The basis for Parson Gotti's lecture on strategy, which he delivers to Wanda, Sizemore, and Maggie in this installment.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Parson.
  • Aside Glance: Jojo.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Higher level units are assumed to be better strategists, which is sometimes true.
    • Stanley is a minor Deconstruction: He earned his spot as Overlord due to his fighting prowess, and he is one of the strongest (if not the strongest) units on his side. Unfortunately, it's also a Keystone Army, and if he croaks, so does his entire side. He's also a bit dim as an actual leader.
    • The world is learning from Parson that the leadership stat isn't really a good gauge of tactical ability as had always been assumed. Parson is Level 2 and is noted to have only led one major battle, leaving people not familiar with him confused as to why the people that HAVE seen him in action consider him to be so important.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Nobles and royals have higher stats and level faster than others.
  • Awesome By Analysis: Parson.
  • Back from the Dead: The attuned Arkenpliers can apparently resurrect ("decrypt") dead units, when before, all anyone could do was reanimate ("uncroak") them as undead units. The implications of this power are mind-boggling. The first unit raised this way was Ansom.
  • Badass: Wanda. Stanley when he's on the battlefield.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Kind of an example; Stanley gets everything he wants to the letter when summoning Parson with unexpected results. It works out, though:

Stanley: I want someone who eats marbits [a creature] for breakfast!
(later) Parson: Yeah. Marbits... Marshmallow bits. They come in some breakfast cereals. [paraphrase]

    • Parson himself has expressed this attitude, given that he has found leading an army according to wargame rules (as he wished for just before being summoned) is a lot more harrowing than expected.
      • Subverted in Parson's case, though, as evidenced in this conversation with Wanda:

Parson: This isn't what I wished for.
Wanda: You didn't wish for this world, Parson Gotti. It wished for you.

  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Bea, Queen of Unaroyal, chooses to commit suicide by going through the portal to the Magic Kingdom, thus ending her side and disbanding all her units, rather than fight a futile battle against Gobwin Knob and be Decrypted.
  • Big Bad: Subverted with Stanley, who isn't bad, per se, he's just extremely immature and slightly stupid - basically a Jerk Jock who happens to run an empire. (A wee little Jerk Jock at that - but don't mention that to him!) Similarly, the leaders of the Royal Crown Coalition, the faction Stanley's empire is fighting against, don't seem to qualify, either, because they embody too many Hero Tropes. The real Big Bad of the setting may well turn out to be Charlie, who seems to be controlling everything from behind the scenes, sowing conflict so his mercenaries will always be in demand.
  • BFS: Jillian's Weapon of Choice.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Right as Jillian is about to be stabbed by Manpower, Ansom swoops in and crushes Manpower's head with the Arkenpliers.
  • Bi the Way: Wanda. She's very nonchalant about it, too. Also Jillian. Since sex is completely unconnected to procreation in Erfworld, however, it's quite possible that sexuality is just not that big an issue.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Poor, poor Manpower.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Both subverted and played straight with Ansom, who can be seen as the hero or the villain, depending on your point of view. Especially after being "recruited" by Wanda.
  • Blood Knight: What Stanley expected Parson to be. And he comes very close to this in Book 1.

Stanley: I want him to be obsessed with war. Somebody who plans wars and kills his foes for fun.

    • The Metafictionally screwed-up part? As a wargamer, that's exactly what he does. ...At least until he realizes it's Not a Game anymore. After he "wins" his first battle, all he can really say is My God, What Have I Done?.
      • At one point during the summer updates, he also ruminates on having been in Erfworld for about a week and spending that time automatically considering the military applications of everything.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Nobody in Erfworld bleeds. At all. Even after taking blows that expose several ribs, tear off multiple limbs, jaws, or even the entire head; and even after a good dozen elves are ripped limb from limb, and a couple marbits are eaten alive, not a drop of blood is to be seen. At most, you'll see some red decals, but someone impaled multiple times by spears going through them won't have a drop of blood.
    • There is a reference (in the first block of text updates) to it "raining something other than water" as the Transylvitans let their swarm of bats out to feed on the local small animals one night. It sounds like it's meant to be blood, but it's most likely guano.
  • Bow Ties Are Cool: Jack and Jillian during Book 2.
  • Brick Joke: One massive one is seen in this comic, which harks all the way back to the fourth strip in the entire comic.
  • Broken Bird: Jillian, and Wanda as well as seen in her Start of Darkness Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower)
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: Dragons? Trolls? Earth? That's just ridiculous!
  • The Call Has Bad Reception: Parson wasn't exactly what Lord Stanley was expecting as a "perfect warlord".
  • Celibate Hero: Parson, which Maggie apparently takes plenty of fun in ribbing him on. In this case, Parson is celibate because Erfworld is so alien to him, and as a warlord, nearly every female unit on his side would obey his orders without hesitation, even in the bedroom, which creeps him out considerably.
  • The Chains of Commanding
  • Character Blog: The Klogs, the news portion of the "Hamstard" page.
  • Character Development: A lot, actually, but in the physical sense, Parson seems to have dropped quite a few pounds lately.
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • In the last panel of this strip (spoiler warning) you see a wall of arrows hanging in mid-air. It is later revealed that this is what happens when you fire out of a hex off turn.
    • One of the problems with book 1 is an aversion of this trope: The author didn't make it very clear that any non-caster who tries to enter the Magic Kingdom is disbanded, so a climactic scene became confusing.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In this strip and this strip Parson studies the physics of Erfworld flight, gravity, and some more about hex boundaries. He later uses this knowledge to attempt to drop an immobilized army onto the ground hexes below where it can engage an enemy in full while it's not his side's turn. Results are pending, but the army was otherwise a sitting duck.
  • Chekhov's Volcano
  • The Chosen Zero: Done a lot to Parson.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience (and how!): For starters, Stanley's forces consist of stereotypical "bad guy" units such as Gobwins, Hobgobwins, Twolls, Uncroaked, Spidews, and Dwagons; and they tend to wear red and blacks. Ansom's stereotypical "good guy" units include Elves, giant stuffed animals, Gumps (animate trees), and his units tend to wear gold and silver. It is also subverted in Transylvito's forces: Vinny Doombats is a count, in black, who controls bats, who looks like a vampire. And, in all appearances, is Ansom's best friend, right-hand man, and close confidant. He (and the other members of his force) also talks like something between The Fonz, the Sharks from West Side Story and The Mafia.
  • Combo-Platter Powers: The Arkenhammer (see below)
  • Convenient Color Change: Whenever a unit is turned, croaked or decrypted.
  • Conspicuous CG: The Arkentools are very obvious CG images, making them stand apart from the rest of the art. This highlights their otherworldly nature.
    • A similar effect happens in the monochrome images that accompany the text updates. Portals, such as the ones to and from the Magic Kingdom, are always in color, even if nothing else is. Speculation over the meaning of this abounds.
  • Cool Shades: Parodied with Parson's 3D viewing shades.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Retconjuration allows the Titans to do this.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Wanda does this in her Start of Darkness after her brother Tommy dies. She raises his body, but despite doing a fantastic job on it, she realizes that it'll never be the same as having her brother. She then orders it to hold her while she cries.
  • Crap Saccharine World
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Stanley may venture into Too Dumb to Live territory when it comes to strategy especially given his god complex, but he did legitimately become a warlord from common infantry even before finding the Arkenhammer, and as a tactician, combatant and wielder of an artifact level weapon he is not someone to be ignored.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Transylvito
    • To a somewhat lesser degree, most of Stanley's side.
  • Deader Than Dead: Bogroll, thanks to being burnt to ash. According to Wanda, even the attuned Arkenpliers can't restore him. This also applies to any Uncroaked or Decrypted units who are killed, as they turn to dust.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Prince Tramennis.
    • Also the Gobwin Knob Foolamancer, Jack Snipe.
    • Don't forget Hamstard! And Parson himself.
  • Death Glare: Don King's expression at his Warlords' rebellion against him is scary.
  • Deconstruction: Explores what would happen if there was really a world based around fantasy wargaming principles.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: The Dwagon Doughnut.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: many aspects of day-to-day life in Erfworld don't sit well with Parson.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Parson hasn't been quite the same since his victory over the Royal Army. See What Measure Is a Mook?. Queen Bea as well, after seeing her decrypted daughter among the ranks of the Gobwin Knob invasion force. She takes the time to pass on what intelligence she was able to gather on Decryption to the rest of the Royal Coalition and then...
  • Did Not Think This Through: Parson planned to enter the city of Spacerock through its portal to the Magic Kingdom. They can't take the city before he gets there, since it wouldn't be a capital any more, and the portal would disappear. The same exact thing happens when they take down the tower--which was why it wasn't part of Parson's original plan. Whoops.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Weaponized.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Parson notes how pretty much everything in Erfworld is vaguely familiar from our world in one way or another, especially lots of pop culture references keep popping up. At first it leant weight to his theory that he was dreaming or in a coma or something, but eventually he wonders if it there is some connection between the two worlds, or if it is just an effect of him being there to observe the occurrences and creating the associations himself.
    • Ossomer may not realize why he feels so upset for that little broken tile being knocked out of the place where it used to belong, but the subtext is pretty clear that he is absolutely breaking inside about having been decrypted (and thus turned against his will to fight his home, family, and everything he ever believed in).
  • Driven to Suicide: Queen Bea of Unaroyal committed suicide via portal to prevent Gobwin Knob from Decrypting her and the remnants of the Unaroyal army.
  • Drop the Hammer: The Arkenhammer tames dwagons, produces thunder and lightning, can levitate, glows, turns about 20% of all walnuts that it cracks into pigeons, some of the Orlies it hits into walnuts, functions as a magical guitar, and is not too shabby of a weapon. By now, it's well into Green Rocks territory.
    • On closer examination all of those powers make perfect sense in theme: 'Dominion over Air' covers... every single one of those.
      • Well, all except the walnuts.
        • No, it works both ways. It will turn flying creatures it strikes into walnuts with the same odds, meaning it has a healthy chance of an auto-kill against some kinds of air foes.
  • Due to the Dead
  • The Dwagon: Wanda to Stanley; but from what we know about them, a chief warlord seems to be this for their king or overlord.
  • Dwagon Rider: Stanley mostly, but other characters have been seen on Dwagonback.
  • Dwagon With An Agenda: Wanda may be fighting on Stanley's side, but she's only in it for the Arkentools.
  • Equivalent Exchange: How Luckamancy, and possibly other number magics work. Luckamancy can cause units to "roll higher" for a while, but at the cost of lower "rolls" later, or lower rolls from other units on their side.
  • Evil Costume Switch: All of the Decrypted get one.
  • Evil Laugh: Wanda can be very scary.
  • Evil Makeover: After being "decrypted", Ansom's outfit's radish decorations turned into skulls.
  • Evil Overlord: Stanley, as noted by Parson; in all fairness, Stanley's actual position is "overlord", but he strongly disagrees with the "evil" part.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Wanda, the croakamancer.
  • Exact Words: While Stanley is debating an issue, Maggie asks if she can give him a suggestion. Stanley says "sure" and immediately takes a Suggestion spell in the face.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Crap Golems, Shockmancy.
  • Expy:
  • Fan Nickname: Scarlet, for Lady Sylvia Lazarus
  • Fantastic Honorifics: Although the term "Tool" was originally a Stealth Insult Parson gave Stanley, Stanley took to it so well that it is now a general honorific for any wielder of an Arkentool.
  • Filk Song: "Quest for the Arkentools"; is it filk if it was made by the guy that writes the comic?
  • Fisher Kingdom
  • Five-Bad Band: They may disagree on the "bad" part, but Lord Stanley's best vassals seem to fit the trope fairly well.
  • Flat What: Flat Lolwut
  • Foregone Conclusion: There's a 'book 0' prequel starring Wanda. Obviously, anyone who read the main comic knows that she's going to end up in Faq, and that her 'screw destiny' philosophy in the prequel is going to turn into the absolute fatalism she shows normally sometime along the line.
  • Formulaic Magic: Mathamancy
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Quite literally; when Charlie communicates with others via Thinkamancy, he only shows himself as a sequence of soothing colours and images... many of which are Shout Outs that Break The Fourth Wall. Of course, with the way Erfworld works in the first place, what seem like blatant fourth-wall-breaking shout outs to us may easily have some in-universe meaning that we're unaware of.
  • Foreshadowing: Often, one-off casual lines introduce ideas that won't pay off until much later. Two casters remarking on their opposite yet complementary strengths, the vague resemblace of certain characters, even the limits on mining in the city's hex all play a role later.

Wanda: He looks like a pink you, but with depth perception.

    • More recently, the line, "We have harvested three Sourmanders we can scarce afford to spare," subtly introduced a mechanic that would later become very important strategically. It introduced harvesting heavy mounts for rations for upkeep, a mechanic integral to Parson's plan to cross zones off-turn, along with the aforementioned use of heavies on flyers.
  • For Want of a Nail: The entire series of events is kicked off by The Titans of Ark leaving one extra gemstone in the Minty Mountains, allowing the Marbits to afford one extra squad of axemen, which pierced through Stanley's troops at the right moment, which allowed them to kill one of Stanley's last warlords, which caused him to send for Parson in the first place.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Vinny Doombats. The rest of Transylvito... not so much. (Except for Weird Al, he's a pretty nice guy.)
  • Fridge Horror: An in-universe example for Parson, when he realizes that the decrypted Archons literally couldn't resist any advances he cared to make.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Stanley's elite guard, the Knights In Stanley's Service, look just like their namesakes.
  • The Gadfly: Jack Snipe shows signs of being a great one. His treatment of Wanda during the siege of the Royal Capital had an almost Hannibal Lecture feel to it.
  • Gambit Index
    • Batman Gambit: Parson pulls a couple on Ansom in Book 1, made easier because of the latter's predictability. One is explained here.
      • Ansom gathers a bunch of flying units - Archons and mounted Dwagons - and has a mass veil cast over them to make them appear to be his usual choice of units, infantry and siege. He approaches Spacerock with this army, knowing Ossomer will commit most of his forces to holding the only bridge into Spacerock by land. Ansom simply dispels the veil and flies over them.
    • The Chessmaster:
      • Charlie
      • Parson shows signs of it.
    • Gambit Pileup: The end of Chapter One. Too many plans, too many people and too many Gambit Roulettes for one little mountain. In the end, Parson subverts it by Taking a Third Option: "Rocks fall, everyone dies."
    • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Ansom delivers the Arkenpliers to Wanda.
    • The Man Behind the Man: Wanda, to Stanley.
    • Manipulative Bastard/Playing Both Sides:
      • Wanda again. She sold out Faq to Stanley in a bid to obtain his Arkenhammer. When he ended up winning, she acted as a "loyal" subordinate while goading him into searching for more Arkentools. All to facilitate her own bid for an Arkentool.
      • Charlie loves to do this as well.
    • The Strategist: Parson, but as shown here his allies are a little resentful of him early on for not living up to his Perfect Warlord name, and he has to explain to them that "perfect strategy" does not mean you never lose.
    • Unwitting Pawn: Wanda believes this of Parson, and seems to pity him somewhat for it.

Wanda: You, too, are an instrument of Fate. You will suffer, as you pursue your path. You will grieve. And lose. As you have lost here.
Parson: I didn't lose, Wanda.
Wanda: You did! And it has just begun for you.

Charlie: We prefer to play games that don't even contain a losing outcome. You see?" Except that Charlie got very thoroughly Out-Gambitted by Parson.

    • Xanatos Speed Chess: Parson and Charlie toward the end of the first volume. Parson even explains the concept here.
  • Game Breaker:
    • In-universe, Wanda's attuned Arkenpliers can resurrect their enemies' corpses. These units retain original skills, cost nothing to run and are loyal to Wanda. Small wonder her side is toppling cities left and right. Parson himself has been referred to as someone who will break the rules of war. Moreover, the Hippiemancers want this to happen.
    • Linking casters can have some gamebreaking effects as well. Book 1 ended with Wanda and Sizemore linking to "uncroak" an extinct volcano that wiped out everything. Charlie later arranged for a Turnamancer-based link, and made Stanley's side lose a turn -- a very big deal in this universe.
    • Even earlier than that, a foolamancer plus a lookamancer plus a thinkamancer equals a map presenting Stanley's side with complete and seamless tactical data (it's not clear if this is simply the location of every unit anyone on their side knows about, or every unit period, since at one point Parson realizes that the enemy doesn't know where his units are because they lack this), while the enemy busies themselves with scouts who must survey everything in person and relay information in person or with magic items.
    • Parson is exploring the mechanics of Erfworld's rules, and is actively experimenting on exploits to create one of these, such as forming upkeep-free armies in cities, or using individual dwagons' movement as a relay system to transport riders across the vast distances of Erfworld in a single turn.
    • Parson's latest game-breaking exploit actually violates the fundamental physics of Erfworld: allowing units to move between city zones off-turn through a combination of obscure rule interactions. Far from being merely unconventional, this was previously thought utterly impossible, to the point where people watching the initial stages of the plan immediately dismissed it as a useless posture. The next few minutes should be instructive.
  • Genre Savvy: Parson.
  • God Mode: Referenced in one of Parson's klogs. He hasn't found an actual cheat code yet, but the whole "ultimate warlord" thing is about as close as he's going to get.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: "Wow. Um...good job, guys."
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Certainly has elements of this. While it can be said that one side certainly has an unsympathetic leader, as a whole both sides receive equal attention and sympathy. This is one of their reasons their back-and-forth conflicts are so gripping. The Battle of Gobwin Knob is basically a conflict between two Lawful Neutral factions (Stanley and Ansom) with one True Neutral faction (Charlie) playing both sides.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Part of the reasoning for Jillian's part of the More Than Mind Control.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: After his Decryption, Ansom willingly switches alliances to side with Parson, whose earlier anti-royalty jibes he now accepts as truth. It's debatable how much of this is Mind Control and how much is simply taking up another fanatical worldview after his earlier one fell apart.
  • Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: GÖLEM
  • Heavy Mithril: Stanley's rocking out with the Arkenhammer sounds specifically like heavy stadium rock, and is used in a fantasy setting. Quoth the tool, "Course it was good. It was Titanic. Rock is the highest music there is."
  • Heroic BSOD: Jillian, and then Wanda after Jillian snaps out of it, because Jillian snapped out of it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice (Bogroll.)
    • Also Cubbins who passes up two rides out of the falling Jenga Tower so he can use the last bit of juice to attack all of Gobwin Knob's Archons.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Charlie, thus far.
  • Hidden Depths: Wanda appears to be completely ruthless and singleminded in her pursuit of power, and she's not above a good Evil Laugh, but at times she displays hints of sadness at all the destruction she has caused, and on some level she has genuine affection for Jillian.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Faq.
  • Hit and Run Tactics: Parson directs a strike force in a strategy of destroying enemy siege units and then breaking off the engagement. This means that his side technically "loses" each battle, but deprives the enemy of a key resource they'll need to win the war.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Parson attempts initially to avert this, but is frustrated by the constraints of Erfworld's rules. When he becomes more familiar with the rules, he becomes quite adapt at using (and exploiting) them.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Ansom, at least, thinks that Parson's genius is unsettling. Stanley is disturbed that Parson can actually disobey him sometimes (something that the rules of Erfworld shouldn't allow). And Maggie and Sizemore are completely shocked that Parson comes from a reality where time isn't relative. Parson looks very different from the average Erfworld "human", thinks on an entirely different level, and hails from a different dimension with radically different rules that govern reality. To the people of Erfworld he's pretty much Nyarlathotep. And now that he's breaking the law of Boop left and right, who knows what he's going to do next? See also Erfworld/Quotes.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Wanda and Parson to Stanley.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Parson's dealings with Charlie often take this form.
  • Image Song: Stanley, "Quest for the Arkentools"
  • Informed Ability: Ansom's portrayed as a Knight in Shining Armor, leading a fractious coalition to deal decisively with a hated common foe. But for all his reputation as a legendary warlord, his plans for the war at large betray a severe "lack of tactical imagination" (according to Ossomer). Part of this may be his status as an Unreliable Narrator regarding his own tactical genius.
    • It should be noted here that Ossomer believed Ansom was unimaginative for bringing infantry and siege to fight Jetstone as they predicted. But...

Ossomer: You made it easy! Bringing your usual siege-heavy infantry assault? Come now, Ansom. Someday you must develop some tactical imagination!
Ansom: Dispel the veil.

    • Also, for his post-decryption performance, it's implied at several points that Decrypted leaders are less flexible than they were before due to the ironclad obsession that has been imposed on them—several of Ansom's larger big-picture mistakes come from his fanatical devotion to Toolism (refusing to seek allies, parlaying with Queen Bea, etc.)
  • In Its Hour of Need: Subverted with Don King and Slately. Slately begs Don to "lend" him the money he needs to designate Tramennis heir and thus keep Slately's side alive if the city falls, but Don's poor fiscal policies in the past cause his leadership to band together and prevent Don from doing so.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Parson's needling Thinkagram to Ansom.
    • Not to mention the filthy songs the troops sing around the campfire at night.
    • The scary part? Ansom now agrees with Parson.
    • "Me, I'm just talking."
    • Decrypted Ossomer attempts this to the Chief Warlord of Faq, but inexperience (plus his lack of conviction for what he's saying) combined with the Warlord having no regard for Royalty one way or the other means he makes a complete mess of it.
  • I Surrender, Suckers
  • It Gets Easier: Parson's command decisions.
  • Jerkass: Stanley, although he's showing signs of gradually developing into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, or at least a Jerkass-with-occasional-Pet the Dog-moments.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Wanda, after attuning to the Arkenpliers. Even Stanley is starting to feel disturbed about how cruel she's become.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: The "Hoboken" spell, which all casters know from the moment they're popped.
  • Keystone Army: ALL OF THEM
  • Kick Them While They Are Down
  • Killed Off for Real: Bogroll.
  • Killer Game Master: The Battle of Gobwin Knob mirrors the game Parson had set up for his friends, which he admits was designed to be unwinnable - unlike most killer GMs, however, he was actually hoping they'd find a way to break the system and surprise him.
  • King of All Cosmos: The world was made by Elvis impersonators, two of whom look suspiciously like the comic's creators.
  • Knight in Shining Armor (deconstructed): Ansom looks like one of these, he cares deeply about the troops under his command, and he can swoop in at just the nick of time to rescue Jillian. Then we get to see his main reason for trying to slaughter Stanley and the Plaid Tribe: Stanley's not a Royal. Ansom does not like non-Royals taking charge.
  • Land Poor: The overview of CharlesComm provided between Books 1 and 2 hints at this. Charlie apparently generates only archons (meaning no "commoners" or noncombatants); thus his lands produce no crops, resources, or trade goods. Archons aren't cheap to maintain, so Charlie needs a constant influx of money to keep them alive, fed and healthy. His choice of profession may say as much about the world climate as about him.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: This happens when the Arkenpliers are used, or at least happened to Ansom. It looks like it merges with Mind Control.
  • Last Second Chance: Thinking that Wanda is under a loyalty spell, Jillian tries to salvage their relationship. Wanda, in no uncertain terms, shows that she is not under a loyalty spell.
    • After being Decrypted, Ansom offers each opponent a chance to ally rather than be conquered, apparently out of zealous belief that attunement to an Arkentool represent the true mandate of the Titans.
  • Leet Lingo: Orlies.

Orly: ORLY?


Orly (being roasted by dwagon): OMGWTFBBQ!


Trammenis: "Now here is my battle plan. If you don't care for it, then you can find another Chief Warlord."
Beat
Orly (During Beat panel):OSNAP!

"This place is a hole. A condemned hole. For squatter hobbits."

Tramennis: You seem bent on spending your last moments in this world with your thumbs jammed into the thumbscrews of guilt, and turning them as hard as you can...which is impossible, I realize...but that analogy had a lot more promise when I started this sentence, and it seemed likely to end with a witty bon mot about screwing yourself. That didn't work out, did it? Nothing has, today.

Xin: I made you a Wanda and was successful in not eating her. Enjoy!

Ossomer: This new Chief Warlord, he is only Level 2. How can he--
Sylvia: He is Level 20. He is Level Thousand. He is Level Million. It does not matter.

Jetstone Dittomancer: Double your pleasure, double your fun. That's a winning pair if I'd ever seen one.

Tramennis: What's the worst that could happen?
King Slately: The worst? The Titans could hear you ask such a question.
[Later]
Slately: Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances.
Tramennis: *I* tempt the Titans?

  1. ingredients for gelatin
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