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Feb 03, 2023 8:13 AM
Griffie in the Hari Empire
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"Okay. So. If you don't have a better starting point for explaining Hari-typical privacy wants, I'll offer one: I slept in a public space when I did not have the ability to engage with the local economy. This led to me being asked if plants don’t value privacy."

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"I cannot imagine that whoever said that would have successfully stayed awake long enough to learn Hari, get a job, get paid, and rent a room, but of course people don't want to be in such a vulnerable position in public even though taking advantage of it to harm you would have been illegal."

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"But Hari people's first priority on being paid would at least plausibly be to rent a room, even if they didn't have very much money yet and didn't have a good model of their future expenses? A private room?"

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"If the room wasn't private there'd hardly be much point in renting it. Some people would buy illusions to hide themselves in a park. Hari people are also all heterotrophs and would have prioritized food, as well. But yes, that is a normal thing to prioritize. What strikes you as odd about it?"

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"The cheapest places to sleep most people can rent on short notice in Suaal are shared beds. It would be very rare for people to prefer sleeping in an illusion in a park without a portable bed-like-thing over sleeping in a shared bed, I think?"

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"I think some species here have a tendency to like beds they can't construct in the wild, but not that much. Maybe your world's species like them more."

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"Maybe? My worlds' people are mostly shaped like humans and caralendar, if that helps."

"Anyway. Heaven's behavior with privacy. They have scrying systems which could probably circumvent Hari illusion magic, but these come with systems to not share too much information if the person isn't working against Heaven and values privacy, or so … I don't actually know how the system works, I've just seen a few results. If you tell them that they need to do something to be polite in Har and the thing does not seem like a trick they will probably do it? The people in Heaven don't distrust each other much or want much privacy from each other that I've noticed, but that might be because the privacy-wanting ones didn't go to the same places I went to. …they don't have the thing where they try to avoid looking at each other, which might be a privacy thing here? But you could ask the ones with, uh, eyes that you can figure out where they're looking, to not look at people directly too much. Also their default norms are okay with looking at eyes but plenty of cultures in Suaal aren't so they won't be surprised by that here."

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"...If their scrying could circumvent our illusions, what about the other factions?"

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"I expect so. A thing I want to make clear here is … magic in my world can be done at varying levels of force, and scrying even at the lower levels of force is rarer in my world than scrying is in yours. I would be very surprised if the scrying I can do would go through Hari illusions, and the market price for hiring the lowest strength of scrying on short notice is about … If I say '280 laurin' that won't mean anything to you, will it. Uh. The price is high, most people could never afford to pay for any scrying at all, we can try to figure out better price comparisons if you want. So they don't have unlimited even of the scrying that can't go through your illusions, and of the stuff that can, if it can, they'll have to allocate it carefully for effectiveness, not go around scrying random people to make them upset."

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"We'll have to improve our illusions. - I am inclined, taking everything you've said at face value, to consider either siding with Heaven, or asking Axis to enforce a deal where we stay out of your war and your war stays away from us. But I notice that you've come here and told me things that make me want to either keep the empire out of your war or side with your allies against your enemies. Do you think that if someone from another faction had come here I would now be considering with them against your faction?"

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"You'd probably consider siding with Axis if they were here, though they're not against Heaven per se. You'd probably consider siding with Hell, though they'd be being extremely manipulative. The other major ones … only if they were doing a good job lying, I think. Which, to be clear, some of them do in fact do. There are also various minor factions that I have poor models of, such as people who think the four main types of exotic matter I'm made of should be kept separate. I have no idea what they'd think of you."

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"Are people often able to do a good job lying to governments where you come from?"

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"…it depends on the people and the governments and the lies? If I'd wanted to be good at lying I probably could be, I just haven't put in much effort. I don't really know how to answer the question."

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"Is magical lie detection another thing that comes in varying but always fundamentally inadequate strengths?"

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"Yes, but unlike with weak illusions-against-scrying which people use all the time, magical lie detection is used very rarely. I think it was used on me not more than once and that was by someone who was really low on good options?"

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"Huh. Well, for once, it's not more available to us than it is to you. What do you think someone from Hell might have said to make us consider siding with them?"

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"That's a really good question. I can't answer it as well as I should, but they'd maybe say… that they understand the value of slavery to Law better than anyone else does, that Aszy – they'd call him 'Lord Asmodeus' – has a perfect record of never breaking his word and compensating anyone whom some idiotic minion of his dealt falsely with, that working with Hell is the way to get the power and respect you deserve, that Heaven gives their archons too much freedom and is too nice in a way that worsens their ability to accomplish their goals and Axis is much weaker than they are? The stuff about Asmodeus having a perfect record is so far as I can tell true, by the way."

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"And the problem with him is deceptively phrased contracts and an unbounded desire to keep increasing the fraction of all people whom he or his subordinates own and torture?"

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"…also manipulation skills outside of the deceptively phrased contracts, but that seems like a good basic approximation?"

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"What sort of manipulation?"

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"Noticing and exploiting false implicit assumptions. Extreme skill at discerning large quantities of information from, say, watching a person speak a sentence that was supposed to carry significantly less information. Making deceptively-phrased statements including when constrained away from speaking falsehoods. Being distracting enough to prevent people from asking the right questions. If I say 'social manipulation' would that help? I think it's a natural category. Things someone might do if they wanted to trick people into acting against their interests, including if they were constrained by anti-fraud laws or wanting to seem somehow tempting to deal with in the future or such. Relatedly, it is unfortunately often the case that if someone thinks they are intelligent and they've planned ahead enough to be able to deal with Asmodeus and come out ahead, he will in fact still manage to profit at their expense."

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"'Unfortunately often' meaning what fraction of the time? And to what if any extent are his techniques species-specific?"

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"Not significantly species-specific, he deals with a broad range of species to the point where it strikes me as unlikely that he relies primarily on hundreds of species-specific techniques as opposed to more general methods. Furthermore, local species are surprisingly analogous to species that Asmodeus is familiar with. I don't know what fraction of the time that happens, and suspect that even if I had better information it'd be a tricky definitional issue."

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"I see. And can you elaborate on how his tactics differ from those of yourself and Heaven and Axis?"

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"Heaven and Axis and I aim to have people not regret cooperating with us even if they're not particularly intelligent and there's not really pre-negotiation. You can approximately model me as like a less intelligent and capable version of Heaven who might fail at eir broader goals due to impulse or confusion."

"Axis tries to get deal-makers about what they expected to get, while Heaven tries to get deal-makers about what they wanted to get. Which may be 'acting like Axis', but that's not their default. If you ask Axis for their default form of confidentiality, and then it turns out you'd actually benefit from having the information disclosed but you're not available to consent to that, they won't disclose the information. If you ask Heaven for their default form of confidentiality, and the same circumstances occur, they will disclose the information."

"Communication from Heaven and Axis is significantly less likely to be intended to deceive than communication from Hell. Axis values precision in language to the point of having developed a specialized language capable of more precision than the typical language, though it's quite difficult to learn and I thus don't know it so you can't learn much about it from me."

"To be clear, I expect that Heaven and Axis occasionally resort to social manipulation, but it's not a primary tactic of theirs and so they're somewhat less capable of it than Hell."

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