Parabolan War (Guide)

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Parabolan War Summary
Limited-Length Activity
Setup Progress End
2 A 22+/37+ A 2+ A
Progress

Details

Raise Advance! to 24 for each stage of the campaign. 3 stages for short ones, and 5 stages for long ones.

Afterwards clear Ravages.

Items Inputs/Outputs
Inputs

Clearing Ravages

Boosting
Outputs
Raw EPA 5.00 Raw SPA 7.81

The Is-Not is yours to shape as best suits your need. You will be its steward and its shepherd as you enter the Parabolan Wars.

Waging War in Parabola entails a significant amount of content, and will take some time to fully explore.

This guide assumes you've completed the following prerequisites:

You have more options available to you if you've also advanced your railroad, but it's not required to play or win your campaigns.

Getting Started[edit]

Establishing a Parabolan Reputation[edit]

In your Parabolan Base-Camp, the storylet The Drumbeat of War allows you to begin Establishing a Parabolan Reputation.

After completing these preparations, you can access The Dolorous Pavilion. From there, you will be guided into a series of tutorial storylets.

Assembling Your Grand Parabolan Company[edit]

To engage in war, you will need a Grand Parabolan Company, which consists of:

These can be arranged at the storylet Assembling a Grand Parabolan Company.

The main gameplay effect of your choice of Company is your initial level of Oneironaut and Cultivator, which has a minor impact on Morale at the start of a Campaign. Both qualities will also advance over time as you complete Campaigns. Your choices of units you recruit will also change the text of some options on the campaign trail, but not the availability, difficulty, or results.

Assembling your company is expensive; however, you only need to do this once, not for each Campaign. Your initial Company will last as long as you want it to. You may also dissolve it and create a new one whenever you wish. Creating a new Company will reset both Oneironaut and Cultivator, including any gained through Campaigns.

Armaments and Infrastructure[edit]

Your company will need 3 each of Parabolan Armaments and Parabolan Infrastructure, at the cost of various items. There are multiple options for each, with different costs and different effects on Oneironaut and Cultivator. You can choose the same option multiple times, or combine different ones.

Parabolan Armaments: The Munitions of War
Option Cost Alignment
1 x Memory of Discordance 1 x Oneironaut
1 x Legal Document 1 x Oneironaut
1 x Thorned Ribcage 1 x Cultivator
1 x Verse of Counter-Creed 1 x Oneironaut
1 x Crystallised Euphoria 1 x Cultivator
5 x Strong-Backed Labour 1 x Cultivator

The cheapest and easiest options for Armaments are Strong-Backed Labour (sources) and Legal Documents (sources).

Parabolan Infrastructure: The Logistics of War
Option Cost Alignment
1 x Horned Skull 1 x Oneironaut
1 x Cultivator
5 x Memory of a Much Lesser Self 1 x Cultivator
1 x Sausage About Which No One Complains 1 x Oneironaut
1 x Oneironaut
1 x Cellar of Wine 1 x Cultivator

The most efficient option for Infrastructure is to spend Cellars of Wine (sources).

Recruiting Units[edit]

In the The Mercenary Companies of Parabola, you must select which units to recruit for your Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery. There are three choices for each. There is no cost to hire any of the units; however, some are only available if you meet certain requirements.

The Infantry of Parabola
Option Requires Alignment
nothing 1 x Cultivator
3 x Favours: Fingerkings 1 x Oneironaut
Dreams: Chess 15

The easiest option for your Infantry is The Wakeful Gentlemen, who are willing to work with you without conditions.

The Cavalry of Parabola
Option Requires Alignment
A Vial of Queenly Attar 1 x Oneironaut
nothing 1 x Oneironaut
nothing 1 x Cultivator

For your Cavalry, if you wish to hire The Company of the Exiled Rose, you must possess A Vial of Queenly Attar.

The Artillery of Parabola
Option Requires Alignment
nothing 1 x Oneironaut
Flask of Waswood Wellspring Water 1 x Cultivator
Glasswork 7 1 x Cultivator

The Pale League of Irem is the fastest choice of Grenadiers, as hiring them also has no requirement.

Parabolan Counsel[edit]

A commander, however skilled, cannot run an army alone. In your Pavilion you may manage your advisors.

You begin with two choices: The Viscountess of the Viric Jungle, and the Ophidian Gentleman. Whom you choose as your Advisor will decide which Tutorial Campaign is available to you. The Viscountess, naturally, represents the Cats of Parabola. The Ophidian Gentleman is a representative of the Fingerkings. Choosing one will embroil you in a war against the other.

You may freely change Advisors at any point, even while on a campaign. Both Tutorial Campaigns will continue to be available permanently; your choice of initial Advisor determines which content you experience first, but you will not be locked out of anything.

Completing full-length campaigns will eventually unlock a third Advisor, with an additional full-length campaign.

Completing Your Company[edit]

When you have assembled your army, their armaments, dreamed your infrastructure, and chosen an advisor, go into the Assembling a Grand Parabolan Company storylet. From there you may officially Form your Grand Parabolan Company. Along with opening the path to war, this will reward you with 1 x Bottle of Fourth City Airag: Year of the Tortoise. To victory!

Mechanics At a Glance[edit]

War in Parabola is carried out as individual Campaigns, aided by your Company and sometimes a General. During a Campaign, your Company must Advance through Parabola in Stages by passing skill checks or spending items. Finishing a Campaign earns various rewards. Afterwards, you must clear any Ravages of Parabolan Warfare you've accumulated before embarking on another Campaign.

Campaigns[edit]

Each Campaign finds your Company assisting one of the powers in Parabola against another. In addition to revealing different things about the goings-on in Parabola, your choice of Campaign affects which General can lead your Company, the rewards available at the end, and which power is dominant in Parabola.

Parabolan Campaigns
Campaign Stages Unlock Reward Dominance
The Viscountess 3 Viscountess (no change)
The Ophidian Gentleman 3 Ophidian Gentleman (no change)
(no change)
The Cats 5 played first Tutorial Cats
The Fingerkings 5 played first Tutorial Fingerkings
A Dreaming Priest of the Second City 3 played first Tutorial (no change)
The Chessboard 5 played 3 Tutorials Chessboard
(no change)
Yourself 5 (no change)

Your first Campaign will be the 3-stage tutorial Campaign with the Viscountess or the Ophidian Gentleman, depending on which you chose as your Parabolan Counsel. Completing this unlocks additional Campaigns, as well as the option to appoint Generals. Further Campaigns may be unlocked by playing the 5-stage Campaigns with the Cats and Fingerkings, plus additional requirements.

Stages of War[edit]

Campaigns are conducted in Stages, each of which requires your Company to Advance through a region of Parabola by passing skill checks or spending items. You can also call upon your Company's Morale for a burst of progress. Each Stage requires 24 x Advance! to complete.

Stage of the War
No. Stage Items for faster progress
1 Traversing the Wastes of Want Moves in the Great Game (if a Silverer)
2 Through the Hanging Mountains
London theater: The War from Home Secluded Address
3 Along the Writhing River
4 Along the Smoking Shore
London theater: Shadows on the Mirrorpane
5 Within the Castle of Forests

Full-length Campaigns consist of 5 Stages, while short Campaigns only feature the first 3. In full-length Campaigns, the second and fourth Stages may be fought from London instead, with different options. You may shift the campaign to London at any point, and retain Advance!, but you may not shift combat back to Parabola until you have concluded the Stage.

Generals[edit]

After completing the first Tutorial, you gain access to Generals, who assist on your Campaigns by lowering the difficulty of certain skill checks. There is a General associated with each of the Powers in Parabola: the Cats, the Fingerkings, and the Chessboard.

Parabolan Generals
General Alignment Benefits
Principle of Heralds Cats Shadowy
Principle of Hollows Fingerkings Persuasive
Principle of Horizons Chessboard Watchful

At first, Generals may only be used on Campaigns associated with their Power: e.g., the Principle of Heralds can only assist the Cats. Once a General has completed a Campaign—so long as you have Dangerous Gains 12 (see Guide)—they receive gifts, which raise their effectiveness in lowering challenge difficulties. This also unlocks a Laboratory project to upgrade the General, which makes them even more effective and allows them to participate in any Campaign.

Epilogue and Lasting Effects[edit]

Campaigns have multiple endings, depending on narrative choices you make in between Stages or at the end. Your final value of Stage of the War, representing the ending, determines the epilogue you see. This is reset when you begin your next Campaign.

Some Campaign endings shift Parabolan Dominance to the power you fought for, unlocking certain content in Parabola (and occasionally London). For instance, The Dome of Scales reflects the current dominant power, with unique options available for each. Other differences can be seen in the Viric Jungle and a certain house in Wolfstack Docks.

If you have accumulated any Ravages of Parabolan Warfare, you will need to clear them in The Aftermath of a Parabolan War before you can begin a new Campaign. Ravages also affect narrative text elsewhere in Parabola, but they also have some mechanical effects, including the difficulty of an option when attending a dreamer in the Viric Jungle.

Clearing the Ravages of Parabolan Warfare
Choice Actions Cost Cleared E /
1 Bejewel the Dome of Scales 1 4 x Ostentatious Diamond 2 1
Repair the Dome of Scales 1 1 x Glass Gazette 2 1.25
Introduce new designs to the Dome 5 1 x Direful Reflection 10 1.25
2 Purify the Waswood with fresh falsehoods 1 4 x Dubious Testimony 2 1
Dam the Waswood with truths 1 1 x Sworn Statement 2 1.25
Distract the Waswood 5 1 x Antique Mystery 10 1.25
3 Regrow the Viric Jungle 1 4 x Solacefruit 2 1
Tend the Viric Jungle 1 1 x Touching Love Story 2 1.25
Flush the Viric Jungle clear 5 1 x Cellar of Wine 10 1.25
4 Bring the Chessboard to heel 1 4 x Moves in the Great Game 2 1
Outplay the Chessboard 1 1 x Vienna Opening 2 1.25
Besiege the Chessboard 5 1 x Vital Intelligence 10 1.25
5 Soothe your Laboratory's Reflection 1 4 x Ambiguous Eolith 2 1
Instruct your lab's new occupants 1 1 x Volume of Collated Research 2 1.25
Devise an experimental device to speed the clearage 5 1 x Uncanny Incunabulum 10 1.25
6 Host a party 1 4 x Bottle of Strangling Willow Absinthe 2 1
Restore your Base-Camp 1 1 x Memory of a Much Lesser Self 2 1.25
Send for your Advisor 5 1 x Favour in High Places 10 1.25

Campaign Details[edit]

This guide is incomplete. You can help by expanding it.
What needs work: This section needs information on the minor Campaigns.


Cats[edit]

The Cats wish to regain control of the Lost Palatinate, controlled by the Fingerkings since a long-ago war.

Unlocked with: Completion of initial tutorial Campaign.

The rewards are set by the hidden quality The King of Cats' Petition, which is set by your choice in Petitioning the King of Cats. This also affects some actions which are available after the campaign.

Rewards:

If you accepted the offer, you will have access to The Restored Palatinate; if not, The Lost Palatinate.

Palatinate Choice Requirements Cost
Restored Enter the Palatinate alone Unprovenanced Artefact
Lyon Memory of a Much Lesser Self
Enter in the company of a Fingerking Connected: Fingerkings

Nightmares

1 x Favours: FingerkingsNightmares

Move to The Mirror-Marches

Enter in the company of a Storm-bird Storm-bird 1 x Aeolian Scream
Plant a rose-garden in the Palatinate A Vial of Queenly Attar Trade it for Favour: Her Roseate Splendour
Lost Enter the Palatinate alone Nicatorean Relic
Lyon Apostate's Psalm
Enter in the company of a Fingerking Connected: Fingerkings 1 x Favours: Fingerkings

Both choices also allow access to The Dome of Scales, Becoming and the Cub's Education.

Fingerkings[edit]

The Fingerkings wish to recover part of the Catastrophe of Crowns, hidden within the dream of the Final Khatun.

Unlocked with: Completion of initial tutorial Campaign.

For mechanical purposes, the only decision which matters is The Khatun's Dream; do you free part of the Catastrophe, or (temporarily) free the Khatun?

Rewards:

This choice also sets which of two events appears in the Viric Jungle:

Either way, you may also Encounter the Ophidian Gentleman in the jungle, with a variety of actions.

The Chessboard[edit]

Ruby.png

The Appalling Socialite dreamt that her family's stolen jewels could be found in Parabola. Your Company will escort her, and her Aged Governess, in search of the jewels.

Unlocked with: Completion of 3 tutorial Campaigns (your initial tutorial, The Cats, and The Fingerkings all count).

This campaign's ending is determined by the levels of three hidden tracking qualities— White Leaning, Red Leaning, and Black Leaning—which are affected by choices you make after the second, third, and fourth Stages of the war.

Advising the Appalling Socialite
Storylet Leaning Option
2 A Quiet Moment with the Appalling Socialite x 1  Abandon her quest
x 1  Continue her quest
x 1  Seek vengeance
3 The Rosy Crown x 2  Keep the jewels
x 2  Wear the jewels
x 2  Destroy the jewels
4 Queen of Roses x 2  Retain the Aged Governess
x 2  Surrender the Aged Governess
x 2 

x 2 

Defy the Roseate Queen

Rewards:

Currently, the Almanac is available only from this and the Yourself campaign. It is needed in order to Break open the gate at Marigold Station (see Guide). The ending that yields the Almanac does not change Parabolan Dominance; the others set it to 4 (The Red-Handed Queen Throughout).

If you qualify for the Red Leaning ending, and have the FATE-locked quality Scarlet-Handed (from the Exceptional Story The Fair Unknown), you can choose to Make a sacrifice and exchange Scarlet-Handed for Crimson-Handed.

Upon departing for your Base Camp, your Leaning qualities will be reset, and you can play the campaign through again to get another ending. However, the ending you reached will influence the rewards available from An Empty House in Wolfstack Docks (see the After a Campaign section below).

Yourself[edit]

Declaim2.png

Something is amiss in the Pavilion. Troops stationed in the marsh have gone missing. Munitions requested are absent without leave. Investigation is required.

Unlocked with: Completion of 4 tutorial Campaigns, A True Denizen of the Neath (awarded upon completing your Ambition), and 7 x Mirror-Fed.

Upon beginning this Campaign, your Parabolan Cavalry goes missing, to be regained only at the Campaign's conclusion, when you confront yourself. At this point, you will be presented with two options: Give your reflection what it wants, or Deny Yourself. The former option has unique text corresponding to the specific ending of your Ambition.

Rewards:

Neither ending affects Parabolan Dominance.


After a Campaign[edit]

Certain Campaign endings alter the availability of content in Parabola, London, or elsewhere. This is mainly controlled by:

  • Stage of the War: The final value of this quality reflects the specific ending achieved. It remains set until you begin a new Campaign.
  • Parabolan Dominance: Some endings shift this quality to the side you fought for. This remains set until you complete another Campaign that alters Dominance.
Parabolan Dominance
Power Set by
1 Fingerkings Completing the Fingerkings 5-stage Campaign
2 Cats in the Viric Jungle Request a demonstration when Dominance is 1
3 Cats Throughout Completing the Cats 5-stage Campaign
4 The Red-Handed Queen Black, White or Red endings of the Chessboard Campaign

Fingerkings[edit]

Completing the 5-stage Campaign for the Fingerkings sets Parabolan Dominance to 1.

Fingerkings Dominance unlocks The Dome of Scales, Occupied. It remains available even if Dominance is shifted to Cats in the Viric Jungle. At this version of the Dome, you can gain:

Depending on your ending choice during the Campaign, you can obtain the following in the Viric Jungle:

Cats[edit]

The 5-stage Cats Campaign sets Parabolan Dominance to 3: Cats Throughout.

Cats Dominance unlocks The Dome of Scales, Becoming. It provides opportunities to gain the following:

This also unlocks Feline Expeditions into Shadow, where you can gain:

Elsewhere, you can gain:

The Lost Palatinate is unlocked if you rejected the offer of the King of Cats during the Campaign. Here you can gain:

The Restored Palatinate is available if you accepted the King of Cats' offer. Here you can gain:

The Chessboard[edit]

Winning the Chessboard Campaign sets Parabolan Dominance to 4, unlocking The Dome of Scales, Adorned with Rubies. Here, you can gain:

All endings to the Chessboard Campaign unlock the storylet An Empty House in Wolfstack Docks. Here, you can find out a bit more about what happened to your companions on the Campaign, and receive a small but repeatable item gift.

Attribute Gains[edit]

A player-created Guide is available for this content: Raising Attribute Caps (Guide)

Parabolan Dominance determines which options are available to raise Dangerous Gains and Shadowy Gains (increasing the stat cap for these skills to 230) and Glass Studies (raising the cap for Glasswork to 7).

Dangerous: With Dangerous Gains 12, winning a full-length Campaign with its General (e.g., the Cats with the Principle of Heralds) awards an additional 6 Gains. At the same time, your General will receive their gifts, and the Laboratory project to upgrade them will be unlocked. You may only do this once for each General, requiring all three to be used to raise the Dangerous cap to 230.

Shadowy: With Shadowy Gains 12 and Base Shadowy 212, The Dome of Scales contains options to raise Gains to 18, 24, and finally 30. The cost in items or Favours depends on Parabolan Dominance.

Raising Shadowy Gains
Option Cost
18 1–2 Observe what the Fingerkings do at Mahogany Hall
3 Join the Cats in support of the Shroud
4 Observe the Red-Handed Queen at work in Mahogany Hall
24 1–2 Observe what the Fingerkings do in Varchas
3 Join the Cats behind the mirrors of Varchas
4 Observe the Red-Handed Queen behind the mirrors of Varchas
30 1–2 Visit the Fingerkings amid the roses of Caduceus
3 Join the Cats in the gardens of Caduceus
4 Observe the Red-Handed Queen moving among the rose-garden of Caduceus

Glasswork: Glass Studies can also be raised at the Dome of Scales, with different options depending on Dominance.

Raising Glass Studies
Option Cost
1 1–2 Be introduced to the enormous snake* 50 x Memory of Light
3 Be instructed in the traversal of mirrors 5 x Baptised Rattus Faber Corpse
4 Procure a patron in matters of Glasswork 5 x Vienna Opening
2 1–2 Purchase a greater freedom of the place 7 x Favours: Fingerkings
3 Be instructed further in the traversal of mirrors
4 Flatter your patron in matters of Glasswork 1 x Queen Mate
* unless you have either Fingerwork 15 or (FATE-locked) Promises Made to an Ophidian Gentleman, which have no-cost options

Campaign Strategy[edit]

To efficiently pursue Campaigns, it helps to understand the action types available at each Stage, and when it is best to use each one.

Action Types[edit]

Each stage has a unique set of actions available. Most actions fall into a number of common categories, although the variations are still considerable and there are exceptions. These categorisations are an attempt to map Parabola, with all of the attending caveats.

Progress Safely

These options are the slowest, but the least-risky and usually the least-costly. They are characterised by having easy skill checks (150 or lower), and generating Advance! even on failure.

In the first two Stages, they have no cost above the action and produce 1 x Advance!. In later stages, they cost a E 2.50 item and produce 2 x Advance!

Progress Quickly

These actions can potentially produce faster progress, but are more risky and costly. They have higher skill checks of 250 (reducible with Generals), and cost items worth E 3 or more, which are often lost even on failure. Success produces 3 x Advance!, while failure produces 2 x Ravages.

Some actions in this group produce Ravages on success instead of costing items. Actions in the final Stage cost items worth E 4 and produce 4 x Advance! on success.

Airs Options

As their name implies, these options depend on Airs of the Parabolan War and each of them is only available 30% of the time. These actions share several features: A base difficulty of 250 (reduced by Generals), successes giving 4 x Advance!, and failures giving 3 x Ravages.

Skills Options

These options are characterised by testing against Advanced Skills instead of the Primary Skills. They are somewhat expensive, but do not generate Ravages on failure. In general, the challenges have a difficulty of 5, generate 2 x Advance! on success, and cost items worth E 1.50 on both success and failure.

Morale Options

There is less variability among these options. Options that generate Morale are usually a Dangerous challenge with difficulty of 175 which produce 1 x Advance! and 1 x Campaign Morale on success and 2 x Ravages on failure. Options that use morale exchange 5 x Campaign Morale for 5 x Advance! with a trivial challenge.

Action Type Comparisons[edit]

This is a high-level summary of the different action types. Actions that cost items will be compared based on their echo cost, for convenience and easier comparison. A grinding guide should go into more detail about sourcing those items, but this is merely meant to compare whether the faster or slower approach is generally preferable.

Ravages of Parabolan Warfare can be cleared at a rate of 2 levels for 1 action and an item costing E 2.50. For simplicity we shall approximate that 1 Ravages = 1 Action. When calculating the Advance! per action, Ravages will be counted as increasing the Action cost, i.e. they will increase the denominator.

Early Safe Progress options gain Advance! reliably at 1 x Advance! per action, with negligible chance of failure. Later options gain 2 Advance! at the cost of 1 action and E 2.50 of items. Assuming the items can be obtained at 1 per action, this gives the same rate of 1 per action. Better sources might improve this, but not significantly--if items can be obtained at an unrealistic 5.00 EPA, that would improve to 1.5 Advance per action.

Actions that use Campaign Morale also have negligible chance of failure (except in London without an appropriate General). Options that Gain Morale universally spend 1 action to gain 1 x Advance! and 1 x Morale, while options that Spend Morale generally spend 1 action and 5 x Morale to gain 5 x Advance!. Five gain actions and one spend action will therefore generate 1.67 x Advance! per action, a significant improvement over Safe Progress.

Before the last stage, Fast Progress options spend items to gain 3 x Advance! on success, while accruing 1 x Ravages and a smaller item cost on failure (1/3 to 1/2). The item cost can be incorporated as the number of actions it takes to obtain the items in question. For an item cost of c actions and a success rate of s, the Advance! per action is given by the formula below. The numerator is simply the average Advance per attempt. The denominator is the sum of the actions required: 1 action for the attempt, plus a c-term for actions for the items consumed[1], plus an s-term term for the actions required to clear Ravages afterwards.

The value of A in this formula is very sensitive to c, and somewhat sensitive to s. With unrealistically optimistic values of c = 0.5 and s = 1.00 (which requires modified stats over 340), the maximum is 2.00 x Advance! per action. More realistically, an endgame-equipped player with 300 stats would have a success rate s = 72% against a base difficulty of 250, improved to s = 87% with a max-level general, giving 1.75 to 1.88 Advance per action, a slight improvement over Morale-based options. At these same success rates, if c is estimated at 1.00, these options give 1.40 to 1.45 Advance per Action, not as good as Morale-options. Overall, the efficiency of these options strongly depends on how you obtain the items they consume.

Airs-Dependent Options give 4 x Advance! on success, and 1 x Ravages of Parabolan Warfare on failure. For a success chance of s, the expected Advance per attempt is 4s, and the expected actions is the sum of 1 action for the attempt plus 1-s from Ravages. The formula for Advance per Action is given below:

Our hypothetical endgame-equipped character with a stat of 300 would gain 2.25 x Advance! per action taking actions with the base difficulty of 250, and 3.08 Advance! per action taking actions where a General has reduced the difficulty to 205, a substantial improvement over Morale options. This calculation is extremely sensitive to s, as it appears in both the numerator and denominator.

Options using Advanced Skills do not accrue Ravages on failure, but merely cost E 1.50 of materials on success or failure. As before, these items can be accounted for by the number of actions to acquire them. Treating these as worth half of an action each, they have an expected result of . Even with a 100% chance of success (which is fairly accessible), this caps out at only 1.33 x Advance! per action, a poor return compared to Morale-based options.

In summary, Morale Options are usually superior to other forms of making progress. Situationally, Airs-Dependent options can be better, for exceptionally well-geared players and when using a matching General.

  1. Because fewer items are consumed on failure, this term is more accurately represented by the expression below. Replacing this whole expression with c is pessimistic, but gets more accurate as s approaches 1. The expression assumes item costs are reduced by half on failure.

Stages[edit]

Stage Safe Progress Fast Progress Airs Skill Morale
1: Wastes of Want Rally your army
( , Snake)
Scout the way
( , Cat)
Phantasies
( , Chess)
Forgotten trenches
( , -)
Glasswhispery [stages 1]
Glasswork
Host a hunt
( , Gain Morale)
2: Hanging Mountains Raid from the sky
( , Cat)
Gather Flowers [stages 2]
( , Snake)
False fruit
( , Chess)
Deploy allegiances
( A Player of Chess)
Toxify the waters
( Kataleptic Toxicology)
Hold a feast
( , Gain Morale)
2: War from Home ( London) Deploy reinforcements
( , -)
Provide a distraction
( , Cat)
Boost the spirits
( , Snake)
Bathtub experiment
( Kataleptic Toxicology)
Spy on cats
( , Gain Morale, Cat) [stages 3]
Artistic support
( , Spend Morale, Snake)
3: Writhing River Safe options now cost supplies
Delegate to yourself
( , Snake)
Poisoned Oracle
( , Cat)
Grow Mounts
( , Chess)
Ancient passages
( , -)[stages 4]
Naval assault
( , Gain Morale)
The Wanting-Way
( , Spend Morale, 1 extra advance)
4: Smoking Shore Petition Cats
( , Snake) [stages 5]
Siege a Spinney
( , -)
Dream your way past
( , Chess)
Column of Ash
( , Snake)[stages 6]
Disseminate Falsehood
( Mithridacy)
Enjoy a respite
( , Gain Morale)
Cavalry charge
( , Spend Morale)
4: Mirrorpane ( London) Night watch
( , Chess)
Crime-spree
( , Cat)
Dr Schlomo
( , Snake)
Infiltrate dreams
( Glasswork)
Public health
( , Gain Morale, Snake) [stages 7]
Summon your Company
( , Spend Morale)
5: Castle of Forests Pray
( , Snake)
Terror-Bird [stages 8]
( , Chess)
Ignite the Forests [stages 8]
( , -)
Sear the Castle
( Glasswork)
Liberate the dungeous
( , Gain Morale)
Assault the Citadel
( , Spend Morale)
  1. Silverer only
  2. Gains Ravages of Parabolan Warfare on success in lieu of costing items. Easier challenge than usual (Broad, 150).
  3. Harder than other Gain Morale options (Broad 200).
  4. Cheaper than usual.
  5. Harder than other Safe Progress options.
  6. Also gains Ravages of Parabolan Warfare on success.
  7. Compared to other Gain Morale options, has a higher base difficulty of 200, and tests against Persuasive instead of Dangerous.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Compared to other Fast Progress options, this costs materials worth E 4 and grants 4 x Advance! on success.


Wastes of Want Type Challenge Success Failure [Expand]
Rally your army onward Safe Progress Persuasive 150
Snake General
1 x Advance! 1 x Advance!
1 x Ravages
Scout the way ahead Safe Progress Shadowy 150
Cat General
1 x Advance! 1 x Advance!
1 x Ravages
Deploy Counter-Factual Phantasies Airs Watchful 250
Chess General
4 x Advance! 1 x Ravages
Lead your army through forgotten trenches Airs Dangerous 250 4 x Advance! 1 x Ravages
Host a hunt Gain Morale Dangerous 175 1 x Advance!
1 x Morale
2 x Ravages
Employ the arts of Glasswhispery
( Silverer only)
Advanced Skill Glasswork 5 2 x Advance!
-3 x Moves in the Great Game
+3 CP Nightmares
-1 x Moves in the Great Game
The Hanging Mountains Type Challenge Success Failure [Expand]
Lead a raid from the sky Safe Progress Shadowy 150
Cat General
1 x Advance! 1 x Advance!
1 x Ravages
Gather the Flowers of Nevermore Fast Progress Persuasive 150
Snake General
3 x Advance!
2 x Ravages
2 x Ravages
Lure the (enemies) with false fruit Fast Progress Watchful 250
Chess General
3 x Advance!
-6 x Solacefruit
1 x Ravages
-3 x Solacefruit
Deploy a whirlwind of allegiances Advanced Skill A Player of Chess 5 2 x Advance!
-3 x Well-Placed Pawn
-1 x Moves in the Great Game
-1 x Well-Placed Pawn
Toxify the waters of the (enemies) Advanced Skill Kataleptic Toxicology 5 2 x Advance!
-3 x Deep-zee Catch
-1 x Deep-zee Catch
Hold a feast Gain Morale Dangerous 175 1 x Advance!
1 x Morale
2 x Ravages
The War from Home Type Challenge Success Failure [Expand]
Deploy reinforcements Safe Progress Dangerous 150 1 x Advance! 1 x Advance!
1 x Ravages
Provide a distraction Safe Progress Shadowy 150
Cat General
1 x Advance! 1 x Advance!
1 x Ravages
Boost the spirits of your Company Airs Persuasive 250
Snake General
4 x Advance! 1 x Ravages
Conduct an experiment from within your tub Advanced Skill Kataleptic Toxicology 5 2 x Advance!
-3 x Secluded Address
-1 x Secluded Address
Spy on the movement of cats Gain Morale Shadowy 200
Cat General
1 x Advance!
1 x Morale
2 x Ravages
Inspire artistic support Spend Morale Persuasive 90 5 x Advance!
-5 x Morale
-3 x Morale
The Writhing River Type Challenge Success Failure [Expand]
Delegate to yourself Safe Progress Persuasive 150
Snake General
2 x Advance!
-1 x Memory of a Much Lesser Self
1 x Mirror-Fed
2 x Advance!
-1 x Memory of a Much Lesser Self
1 x Ravages
Consult a Poisoned Oracle Safe Progress Shadowy 150
Cat General
2 x Advance!
-1 x Glass Gazette
2 x Advance!
-1 x Glass Gazette
1 x Ravages
Grow mounts to speed your passage Fast Progress Watchful 250
Chess General
3 x Advance!
-6 x Royal-Blue Feather
1 x Ravages
-2 x Royal-Blue Feather
Illuminate ancient passages Fast Progress Dangerous 250 3 x Advance!
-3 x Memory of Light
1 x Ravages
-1 x Memory of Light
Launch a naval assault Gain Morale Dangerous 175 1 x Advance!
1 x Morale
2 x Ravages
Sail the Wanting-Way Spend Morale Dangerous 90 6 x Advance!
-5 x Morale
-3 x Morale
The Smoking Shore Type Challenge Success Failure [Expand]
Petition Long-Dead Cats Safe Progress Watchful 250
Snake General
2 x Advance!
-25 x Silvered Cat's Claw
2 x Advance!
-25 x Silvered Cat's Claw
1 x Ravages
Consult a Column of Searing Ash Airs Persuasive 250
Snake General
3 x Advance!
1 x Ravages
2 x Ravages
Siege an Insidious Spinney Airs Dangerous 250 4 x Advance! 1 x Ravages
2 x Solacefruit
Dream your way past the (enemies) Airs Watchful 250
Chess General
4 x Advance! 1 x Ravages
2 x Trace of Viric
Disseminate Falsehood Advanced Skill Mithridacy 5 2 x Advance!
-3 x Palimpsest Scrap
-1 x Palimpsest Scrap
Enjoy a respite Gain Morale Dangerous 175 1 x Advance!
1 x Morale
2 x Ravages
Mount a cavalry charge Spend Morale Watchful 90 5 x Advance!
-5 x Morale
-3 x Morale
Shadows on the Mirrorpane Type Challenge Success Failure [Expand]
Establish a night watch Safe Progress Watchful 150
Chess General
2 x Advance!
-1 x London Street Sign
1 x Advance!
-1 x London Street Sign
1 x Ravages
Embark upon a crime-spree Airs Shadowy 250
Cat General
4 x Advance! 3 x Ravages
Call on Dr Schlomo's assistance Airs Persuasive 250
Snake General
4 x Advance! 1 x Ravages
Infiltrate disordered dreams Advanced Skill Glasswork 5 2 x Advance!
-3 x Memory of Light
-3? x Memory of Light
Initiate a campaign of public health Gain Morale Persuasive 200
Snake General
1 x Advance!
1 x Morale
3 x Ravages
Summon your Company for aid Spend Morale Shadowy 90 5 x Advance!
-5 x Morale
-5 x Morale
The Castle of Forests Type Challenge Success Failure [Expand]
Pray Safe Progress Persuasive 150
Snake General
2 x Advance!
-1 x Apostate's Psalm
2 x Advance!
1 x Ravages
Summon a Terror-Bird Fast Progress Watchful 250
Chess General
4 x Advance!
-3 x Memory of Light
-1 x Wing of a Young Terror Bird
1 x Ravages
-1 x Memory of Light
-1 x Wing of a Young Terror Bird
Ignite the Chorus of Forests Fast Progress Dangerous 250 4 x Advance!
-3 x Correspondence Plaque
-1 x Glass Gazette
1 x Ravages
-1 x Correspondence Plaque
-1 x Glass Gazette
Sear the Castle with Viric Advanced Skill Glasswork 5 2 x Advance!
-3 x Trace of Viric
-3? x Trace of Viric
Liberate the dungeons of the Castle Gain Morale Dangerous 175 1 x Advance!
1 x Morale
2 x Ravages
Assault the Citadel of Vineyards Spend Morale Watchful 90 5 x Advance!
-5 x Morale
-3 x Morale

Morale[edit]

Morale is gained at the beginning of each campaign based on your level of Parabolan Commander, with a maximum of 9 Morale, plus 1 if your ethos is aligned with whom you're campaigning for - i.e. if you have Parabolan Cultivator> Parabolan Oneironaut for Cats, Parabolan Oneironaut> Parabolan Cultivator for Fingerkings or the two qualities equal for the Chessboard. The formula for starting Morale is unknown; see the embedded table below for what's been collected. It is also gained, along with one Advance!, on certain options (e.g. Host a hunt, Hold a feast), but it is not possible to have more than 16 at any time. It can be traded with various options at a rate of 5 morale (and one action on a relatively easy stat roll) for 5 Advance! (except when Along the Writhing River, where it is 5 morale for 6 advance). Effectively, this means that with the morale options, you are spending 6 actions for 10 (or 11) Advance!, assuming no failures. These options also don't cost items. However, failing them will add 2 Ravages of Parabolan Warfare, which have to be removed by either spending actions and items, or waiting for Time, the Healer.

If your probability of succeeding at a morale option is p, then on average doing it will net you p Advance!, p Morale and 2(1-p) Ravages, requiring 1-p actions and materials worth 2(1-p)E to clear. So accumulating 5 Morale and then spending it will on average take 5(2-p)+1 actions and 10(1-p)E of materials to gain 10 (or 11) Advance!. For example, if your chance of success is 100%, you'll use 6 actions for 10 (or 11) Advance!, whereas a 50% chance will take about 8.5 actions and 5E for 10 (or 11) Advance!.

Starting Morale
Parabolan Commander
Campaign & Alignment Preferred? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9+
Cats: Greater Cultivator 7 7 7 8 9 9 9 10 10
Cats: Equal or Lesser Cultivator 6 6 6 7 8 8 8 9 9
Chessboard: Balanced; C= O 7 8 9 9 9 10 10
Chessboard: Cultivator/ Oneironaut Mismatched 6 7 8 8 8 9 9
Fingerkings: Greater Oneironaut 7 7 7 8 9 9 9 10 10
Fingerkings: Equal or Lesser Oneironaut 6 6 6 7 8 8 8 9 9
Short campaigns (Viscountess/Gentleman/ Second City): 3 4 4 4 5 5 6 6 6 6
Yourself 5 5 6 6 6 6
The Starting Morale formula is unknown. It is believed to be based on the Parabolan Commander value with a bonus if your alignment matches the campaign's preferred value, and may vary with campaign length. ✗s denote impossible situations because some campaigns do not unlock until other campaigns are complete. Please update this table if you find a new result or one which doesn't match.

Choo choo![edit]

If you are in the middle of a campaign when you convene a Board Meeting of the Great Hellbound Railway, you may have an option to use your trains for war. This requires having built track to Balmoral, and potentially building a Spur Line depending on your choices there. This board action will automatically complete the Stage you are on (sets Advance! to 24) and gives 8 x Ravages of Parabolan Warfare.

Depending on the number of Board members you have, deploying a train can provide Advance! far more efficiently than any other option, if you discount the Ravages of Parabolan Warfare. Time, the Healer reduces the latter by 10 each week and allows you to send another train, so the following strategy can be used to maximise the benefit:

  1. Prosecute the war using non-train methods until you possess at least 2 x Ravages of Parabolan Warfare (or exactly 2 if you are on the final stage) and exactly 0 x Advance!.
  2. Begin a Board meeting (after any other Board-related preparation) and deploy a train before concluding.
  3. Await Time, the Healer.

This may be repeated indefinitely for maximum value.

Warplan Calculator[edit]

Access the calculator page on its own at Parabolan War (Guide)/Warplan.

This calculator will guide you through a Campaign of Parabolan Warfare by deciding the correct options to play at each Stage and values of Advance! and Campaign Morale, based on your character's stats and your own valuation of the different items that might be consumed.

By using this calculator, you are making the decision that you would rather let a spreadsheet play the game for you. You should only use this tool if you already find grinds to be joyless, or a higher EPA is better motivation than gameplay.

This calculator is considered Beta-quality. As far as I can tell it probably works right, but if something seems odd, then send questions or bugs to my Talk page. It also makes the hamster-wheel in the server spin really fast. Know Beta things:

  • The tables are not collapsible in this page. They will be collapsible if you output as Wikitext and save to your user page.
  • Options that use Advanced Skills are not implemented.

Using this Calculator[edit]

The first set of inputs is straightforward: your character's stats, and your choice of Campaign and General. The choice of campaign only affects the number of actions spent on narrative after each stage.

The second set of inputs is the Action costs for the various items that can be spent (or gained) via the various actions on the campaign trial. This calculator works by converting all resources into an "action cost" equivalent, so items are valued based on the number of actions to replenish those spent. Ravages of Parabolan Warfare are valued based on the actions to clear them after the campaign. The default values assume all resources can be obtained at 2.5 EPA, and that Ravages take 1 action to clear.

The results of the calculator will show tables of the expected actions to complete the Parabolan Campaign from any given campaign state, as well as the optimal choice at each state. If Airs-dependent actions are worth playing, then the tables will list the best non-Airs choice, as well as all Airs-dependent choices that should be played if available.

In some cases, multiple choices are equally-optimal. Ties are broken by arbitrary implementation details.

By default, the calculator will display your Battle-Plan on this page. Save your Battle-Plan to your own user pages by selecting the output format of "WikiCode" and copy-pasting the resulting Wiki mark-up into your own page.

Get My Personalized Battle-Plan[edit]

 template = :Parabolan War (Guide)/Saver
 form = parameters
 result = warplan
  param = Campaign|Campaign|Yourself|select|Viscountess,Ophidian Gentleman,Second City Priest,The Cats,The Fingerkings,The Chessboard,Yourself|The Cats,The Fingerkings,The Chessboard=General,General_Level
 param = General|Chosen General|None|buttonselect|None,Cat,Snake,Chess
 param = General_Level|General Level|3|buttonselect|1,2,3
 param = selects|Character Stats||group|Watchful,Shadowy,Dangerous,Persuasive,Glasswork,Toxicology,Mithridacy,Chess,Silverer
 param = Watchful|Watchful|300|int|0-400
 param = Shadowy|Shadowy|300|int|0-400
 param = Dangerous|Dangerous|300|int|0-400
 param = Persuasive|Persuasive|300|int|0-400
 param = Glasswork|Glasswork|7|int|0-20
 param = Toxicology|Kataleptic Toxicology|7|int|0-20
 param = Mithridacy|Mithridacy|7|int|0-20
 param = Chess|A Player of Chess|7|int|0-20
 param = Silverer|Silverer?|no|check|yes,no
 param = selects|Item Costs, in Actions to Acquire||group|Cost_Ravage,Cost_Psalm,Cost_Sign,Cost_Self,Cost_Glass,Cost_Wing,Cost_Plaque,Cost_Light,Cost_Solacefruit,Cost_Viric,Cost_Feather,Cost_Claw,Cost_Address,Cost_Palim,Cost_Pawn,Cost_Move,Cost_Nightmare,Cost_Catch
 param = Cost_Ravage|Curing Ravages of Parabolan Warfare|1|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Nightmare|Curing 1 CP of Nightmares|0.5|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Psalm|Apostate's Psalm|1|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Sign|London Street Sign|1|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Self|Memory of a Much Lesser Self|1|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Glass|Glass Gazette|1|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Wing|Wing of a Young Terror Bird|1|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Plaque|Correspondence Plaque|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Catch|Deep-Zee Catch|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Light|Memory of Light|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Move|Moves in the Great Game|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Palim|Palimpsest Scrap|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Address|Secluded Address|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Solacefruit|Solacefruit|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Viric|Trace of Viric|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Feather|Royal-Blue Feather|0.2|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Claw|Silvered Cat's Claw|0.04|number|0-10
 param = Cost_Pawn|Well-Placed Pawns|0.04|number|0-10
 param = Format|Output Format|Tables|buttonselect|Tables,WikiCode
Fingerkings loading...
 

How it Works[edit]

This calculator is based on a classical optimization technique called Dynamic Programming. (Despite the similar name, this bears no relation to "dynamic programming languages" like JavaScript or Lua.) The core concept is that results are computed starting from the end of the campaign working backwards rather than from the beginning, calculating actions-to-goal rather than actions-spent. Going in this order means that when considering any given campaign state, the outcomes of the all of the options available from that state have already been calculated, so the arithmetic to choose which is best becomes very simple.

As an example, consider the table below, showing results for the Writhing River, calculated with default values. Results in the table are computed beginning from the bottom of the table going upwards, and from left to right. The cell highlighted in purple represents the campaign state of 0 x Advance! & 5 x Campaign Morale, and the other highlighted cells indicate the outcome of all the possible actions that a player could choose from that point. The total Actions-to-Complete from each of those states in the Campaign have already been calculated. We can then compute the expected Actions-to-Complete of each of the available options by taking into account its outcomes, success probability, and resource cost. The option with the lowest expected Actions-to-Complete is recommended as the best option, and its Actions-to-Complete is stored as the value for that cell, which will be referenced by other actions that result in that game state.

Dynamic programming example.png

From these data points, the values of each of the options available can be calculated as in the table below. Based on these, the best option available is to Gain Morale (Launch a naval assault), with an expected Actions-to-Complete of 36.82 from this point forward.

Option Cost to Move Result of Move Total Actions-to-Complete
Spend Morale 1 Action 36.82 on success (100%) 37.82
40.67 on failure (0%)
Gain Morale 1 Action 35.82 36.82
Safe Progress 1 Action
Item worth 1 Action
35.82 37.82
Fast Progress 1.39 Actions
Items worth 0.88 Actions
Ravages worth 0.39 Actions
35.82 38.48

Calculations[edit]

Some actions (like most Safe Progress options) always produce the same amount of Advance! on success or failure, but have different resource costs. For a given Advance! a and Morale m, the Actions-to-Goal value A(a, m) can be computed as

where p is the probability of success, and cs and cf are the resource costs of success and failure. The constant 1 is the action spent on playing the option. The value A(a+1, m) is the Actions-to-Goal for one more Advance! and the same Morale; some actions may add more Advance!.

Spending Morale is a slightly different situation, where success & failure both always spend Morale but one only gives Advance!. For this situation, the formula is modified slightly. Note that no Morale options cost resources, so the c terms are ignored.

Most other options work slightly differently, where costs are accrued on failure but neither Advance! nor Morale is modified. If such an option is the best choice, then it should be attempted repeatedly until successful. In these cases, the formula can be derived by observing that with a success probability p, one success will require 1/p attempts and incur ( 1/p - 1) failures.

As before, the a + 3 term is an example for early-stage Fast Progress options, but other options modify Advance! and Morale in different ways.

Airs[edit]

The impact of Airs-dependent options are tricky to account for. They cannot always be attempted, which is straightforward to accommodate. The more difficult issue is that on failure, sometimes the option can be re-attempted and sometimes it cannot.

The Actions-to-complete value for an Airs option Aa(a, m) depends in part on the value for the best deterministic option available, Ad(a, m). With a success probability s, and assuming Airs options are available exactly 1/3 of the time, the value Aa(a, m) can be calculated as:

This equation defines Aa in terms of itself, which represents re-attempting on failure. The term that does not contain Aa encapsulates the fact that the option is not always available to re-attempt. Solving this recurrence relationship for a closed-form value of Aa yields the following:

The Airs-dependent option should be taken if it has a better Action-to-Goal value than the determenistic options available, when , i.e. when . By substituting terms, we found Airs-dependent actions should be played when the following is true:

The fraction on the right describes how much better the success result of the Airs option needs to be compared to the best deterministic option in order to be worth playing.

When there are multiple Airs-dependent options available, the same analysis will produce equations which have more terms but are not significantly more complicated. This analysis will slightly under-value Airs-dependent options when the best deterministic option can be re-attempted on failure, because it does not account for the possibility that failures of the deterministic option might allow the Airs option to become available again.

Reference Material[edit]

Campaigns[edit]

This guide is incomplete. You can help by expanding it.


Composing a Grand Parabolan Company[edit]

Name Cost Cultivator/Oneironaut
Infantry (1)
Tigerstripes.png The Wakeful Gentlemen -
Snakehead2.png The Satrap-Saints 3 x Favours: Fingerkings
Chesspiece apocyan.png The Pax Homines 15 Having Recurring Dreams: A Game of Chess
Cavalry (1)
Rose TC.png The Company of the Exiled Rose A Vial of Queenly Attar
Varchas port.png The Grand Myriad Company -
Moonparliament.png The Peace of October -
Grenadiers/Bombard (1)
Irem port.png The Pale League of Irem -
Cannon.png The 77th Queen's Own Hussars 1 x Flask of Waswood Wellspring Water
Hauntedmagician.png The Order Speculorum Glasswork 7
Munitions (3)
Snowflake.png Words, Broken 1 x Memory of Discordance
Lawfurnace.png The force of law 1 x Legal Document
Skullmoth.png The Spectre of Decay 1 x Thorned Ribcage
Cross.png An Antiphonal of Doubter's Hymns 1 x Verse of Counter-Creed
Scintillack.png A Vision of Peace 1 x Crystallised Euphoria
Wolfstackdocks port.png Muster the Workers' Dreams 5 x Strong-Backed Labour
Logistics (3)
Auroch minotaur.png Sow a crop of Flourishing Aurochs 1 x Horned Skull
Parabola.png Reorient Parabola 3 x Vienna Opening
2 x Memory of a Much Lesser Self
Irrigo.png Summon dreams past 5 x Memory of a Much Lesser Self , +1 x Mirror-Fed
Sausage.png Kindle a dream of pigs 1 x Sausage About Which No One Complains
Knife3.png Draw upon Parabola's bounty 3 x Crate of Biscuits
2 x Tin of Zzoup
1 x Parabolan Orange-apple
Riverofblood.png Build a Parabolan waterway 1 x Cellar of Wine

Rewards[edit]

Parabolan Campaign Stages Decision Rewards Leaning Other effects
Cats 5 Reject the King's offer 1 x Parabolan Parable 3 x  Dominance 3, unlocks The Dome of Scales, Becoming, Encounter the Viscountess
Accept the King's offer 1 x Ray-Drenched Cinder 3 x 
Fingerkings Recover the Khatun 1 x Parabolan Parable 3 x  Dominance 1, unlocks The Dome of Scales, Occupied, Encounter the Ophidian Gentleman
Recover the Crown 1 x Edicts of the First City 3 x 
The Chessboard Do not get a Tie 1 x Parabolan Parable 1 x  Dominance 4, unlocks The Dome of Scales, Adorned with Rubies, An Empty House
Get a Tie 1 x Waswood Almanac 1 x  unlocks An Empty House
Yourself Give your reflection what it wants 1 x Concentrate of Self 3 x 
Deny Yourself 1 x Waswood Almanac 3 x 
The Viscountess 3 Break the Glass 3 x Night-Whisper 1 x 
Walk away (The Entanglement of Glass) 3 x Stalemate 1 x 
The Ophidian Gentleman Follow the Gentleman 3 x Night-Whisper 1 x 
Wait for the Ophidian Gentleman 3 x False Hagiotoponym 1 x 
A Second City Vengeance Enforce your demands 3 x Mortification of a Great Power 1 x 
Suggest she join you 3 x Oneiromantic Revelation 1 x