Sep 29, 2020 10:31 AM
Cor meets the Evil Overlord List setting
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There's a few things obvious even without too many people around. Street lights, lights inside homes, vehicles on the outskirts...

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"What's the deal with the lights?"

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"How they work, or why people use them?"

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"If people use them for something other than to see by I want to know that too but I meant how they work."

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"Electricity. Like - static electricity, or lightning. Just - controlled."

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"Huh! How about that."

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"Electricity's the base for a lot of stuff."

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"What else?"

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"Ways to talk to people across the world. Sometimes on other planets. Ways to get information. Music. Transportation. Heating and cooling food. Heating and cooling buildings. This translation device. Manufacturing things. Machines that think. A - lot of stuff."

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"Machines that think?"

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"I don't know how they work. It's - debated if any are actually people, since they can be owned but can't own anything or anyone else. But - simple ones can do math. Really complex ones can control space ships, or monitor really wide areas for stuff that's changing."

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"Is the translator thinking?" he asks.

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"Kind of? It can only think about words and languages, though."

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"That's a lot of stuff to say 'only' about! That's complicated!"

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"I guess so."

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"Will it talk back or - just translate?"

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"Just translate."

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"Huh.

How far's your house?"

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"Close. Just over there." He gestures at a house down the lane. It's a bit run down, not near any others, but the yard around it's not being cultivated or anything. Just clover and brambles.

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"Cool." Walk walk walk.

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He's content to walk the rest of the way in silence, and it appears he lives alone. His 'technological book' is in the main room - flat, thin, with a screen that lights up and buttons along one side. It looks worn and well used. The basic interface for selecting books and turning pages is fairly simple, at least, though changing things like brightness and font size and color is harder.

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Cor wishes to be taught to use the technological book and will then be absorbed in writing for the foreseeable future. What is there to read?

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Esulri does that, then wanders off elsewhere into the small house.

To read: a lot. Esulri apparently mostly collects nonfiction and a few small poetry collections. A good number of histories, political science, philosophy texts, descriptions of other empires, travelogues, comparative law, quite a few collections of news articles. Much of it's annotated by Esulri, though Cor can hide the notes so they don't clutter the screen. There's not much in the way of science or technological texts, except some things titled 'basic primers' for assorted 'grades' that seem to have not been opened in ten or more years, going by the timestamp.

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Cor would really like to know more about magic but if he doesn't have any books on magic he will take travelogues and histories and news and empire descriptions and poli sci!

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Histories seem to mention magic as the sort of thing that Overlords sometimes do; the best bet there's actually an analysis of warfare, though there's some general sense of what people expect on a daily basis in the news. (There was a huge war where several Overlords actually banded together, a few centuries ago, against an Overlord who had planet-destroying powers and was apparently insane enough to use them, despite general wisdom-of-warfare that that's stupid, you want intact infrastructure more than terror or quick victories.) Many powerful Overlords don't die of old age on appreciable scales, and some can (or do) empower their underlings; some of those underlings are also long lived. Constant war and conquest is pretty normal, though 'polite' Overlords keep it to trying to establish ownership claims on each other, which is usually minimally destructive to civilian populations. Most Overlords aren't very polite.

There's a somewhat recent but apparently still current empire that's gained most of its territory via the Overlord, The Demon Queen, teleporting into other Overlords' armories and treasury vaults and stealing all their stuff (as well as most of their slaves and prisoners) as an opening move, with minimal actual warfare following. This is for some reason considered more unnerving by the other Overlords than throwing very big armies at each other. The description of the Demon Queen's empire mentions she's one of the only ones who allows immigrants, and the biggest of the maybe two or three empires who allows people to leave. News of her empire's banned most places (Esulri seems to have some of these books illicitly), but at least the propaganda she puts out seems to emphasize good, stable living conditions. Esulri has really extensive annotations about considering investigating her and trying to get her to overthrow the local Overlord.

The neighbors of the empire Cor's currently in are smaller, more unstable. Still, there's a big one nearby that was aggressively expanding and had a reputation as war mongers for a while then stopped and closed their borders entirely; they're suspected to have had an change in leadership. There's another that's one of the technological innovation capitals of the region - also aggressive expansionists, but they usually start with trying peaceful annexation before war. The news mentions one empire that's suspected to be in its death throes; people are worried about some of its holdings becoming Wild Space.

Poli sci has a lot on the philosophy of governance. A lot of Esulri's annotations cross reference history books, with more than a few notes of 'has anyone actually tried this?'. There's also some about the politics of warfare - political scientists, or at least the ones Esulri reads, generally seem to think the current status quo involves going to war too often for poorly considered reasons ('if you ask 'how can I solve this with my army' of all your problems, you have already failed' one notes in the middle of tearing apart some technically victorious battles that lost wars, and wars that worked against political goals. Esulri has that highlighted but not commented on).

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