May 21, 2022 2:20 PM
is actually rather a lot
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"The Pharaoh accepts payment for his attention with some probability related to, but not only related to, how much you pay him, as a form of price discrimination. If he entertains the request in the first place he'll probably separately want a bounty for identification."

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"Uh huh.  And do you have any idea what some attention prices and attention probabilities would be, or what kind of separate bounty the Pharaoh would be likely to ask?"

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"You'd get a better estimate if I knew anything about you; part of the point of the price discrimination is that 1000gp, from someone for whom that's obviously a year's wages, means much more than 1000gp from Xerbystes. But in general, 1000gp will mean the application gets seriously reviewed by the pharaoh's staff, 3000gp gets through a majority of the time, and I'd be very surprised to ever hear of an occasion where 10,000gp didn't. No, you can't just immediately resubmit with more money if it didn't get heard, you generally have to wait at least a year or until something has substantively changed."

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Not very multiagent-efficient... is this an attempt at extracting maximum value from customers via an elaborate one-sided mechanism that sometimes destroys value?  Keltham is tempted to go pay them in spellsilver just before the news hits of the price drop... okay not really that would not be nice, they could resell it on directly to a customer who'd be harmed thereby.  Actually they should figure out how to announce that sometime very soon, people are trading at bad prices, Keltham forgot there wasn't any Governance office managing that sort of news release in Golarion.

Keltham is trying to figure out a way to tell if this guy is actually Conspiracy Carissa.  But that's sort of hard to do when Conspiracy Carissa is reading your mind about which tests you're thinking about trying.

No, he's not suddenly ripping off her headband, it's genuinely not nice, and also now that he's thought it out loud the Conspiracy has invisibly tapped Carissa with a Fox's Cunning so she'll keep the same +4 bonus.

"It's been represented to me that women in Osirion can't own property.  What's the logic of that from a business standpoint?  Half of your economy isn't free to participate in the economy."

Kind of a naive attempt at Carissa detection, Conspiracy Carissa probably has any ability to argue completely opposed viewpoints, but it's worth trying; they could be only reading his mind intermittently.

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Don't lie about this one!  The whole truth will sound bad enough to him anyways.  Has Sevar been read in on -

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Aspexia weighs up considerations in a lightning flash.  Playing to tropes - does not actually override Asmodeus's orders - and reading in Sevar on this, which has not previously been deemed advantageous to Cheliax's interests, will take time and create a suspicious pause -

Aspexia decides to make a move; she is not Keltham's defeated opponent the way Abrogail is, nor has she driven enough of the story that her greater authority should threaten Sevar's main character status.  She will step forward once, and fade back after.

(She is being respectful to the tropes, in following her own Lord's orders; she has previously not told Sevar of her Irori-cleric status, as the tropes wished; she does now attempt to do this in a way that will not disrupt their story-weaving - is this an attitude they wish to discourage -)

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"I'd call that an unfair representation.  Matters are more politically complicated than they represented to you.  Osirion is not Absalom, the people there are extremely skeptical of the equilibrium as it holds in Absalom or say Cheliax - if I've correctly identified your representative as hailing from there - with high abortion, high infanticide, high infidelity, legal divorce, and women's rights.  Most Osirians are deeply skeptical that you can just take the women's rights and legal divorce part, and not get the rest of the Avistani equilibrium."

"Mortal life only lasts a few decades.  To the extent Osirians worry about the inherent badness of oppressing women, they think that's outweighed by the benefit of making sure that people end up in Axis rather than the Maelstrom - which is not a plane you can with any reliability leave if you did not wish to arrive."

"The reign of Abadar is not so old, and the current administration has been slowly shifting in a direction I think Chelish sensibilities would approve as a direction, in this regard.  Before Abadar united Himself with the Pharaoh, property could only be held by married, landowning men; to this has now been added young married men with incomes but no land, and spellcasting women have been made eligible for that status as well.  It is a great change to Osirion, and now they will want to wait and see what comes of it."

"Fairness does impel me to say, that did you ask this question of a priest of Abadar born and raised in Osirion, they might say less that they were trying to move in a Chelish-approved direction, and more that they are striving to build the institutions Abadar asks of them, institutions whose participants end up in Axis, whether that was best done through women having more rights or less.  But that's involved slow moves in a Chelish direction, in that regard, not away from it."

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This reply was not immediately interrupted when Keltham had a bright idea in a flash, one that had to be implemented before the Conspiracy could react to the detected thought, and ordered Carissa to be quiet - he needed to hear the answer, after all - and then started suddenly tickling her.

"Heard, let me think," he Messages the priest, and then says to Carissa, "You can talk now."

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"You're - abusing me terribly, you know that?" Her eyes are shining. "I'd just had an insight on your math problem!" Asmodia help what insight did I just have on the math problem, she can use the one she genuinely had but it's not ideal, too preliminary. 

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Knowing they know you know they know goes off to infinity which means you're not going to be representing knowledge as probabilities assigned to propositions, it's got to be some finite representation that lets you can derive the infinite series of facts about who knows about who knows what.

We've actually got a specific system worked for partitions of possible worlds, but if you tell Keltham you've got that far, he'll be expecting a solution from you almost immediately after.

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"Well, obviously Conspiracy Carissa wants me to ask, but I suppose Ordinary Carissa does too, so: what insight?"

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"I know you know I know etcetera goes off to infinity, which means I have to throw out the entire approach of representing knowledge as probabilities assigned to propositions, I need a finite representation that derives the infinite series there. 

I'm actually, on a different note, really confused about your Conspiracy threat model, here? Even if you assume the Conspiracy put all the best liars in Cheliax on this project, I'm not on this project in my capacity as one of the best liars in Cheliax, I'm on this project because it might be that the gods picked your landing-place on purpose and if so we don't want to mess with that. So it'd be bizarre if I were the best person in Cheliax to pretend to be a seventh-circle priest of Abadar. Also, Abadarans always have a price, in the Conspiracy we've just paid this guy to lie to you and promised to exceed any bribe you credibly offer him." 

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"Imaginably correct as of the moment I landed on the Worldwound, but since then I've been teaching you in particular and also I plausibly landed on somebody who'd understand me better than other liars -"

Wait.  Has he been distracted enough by considering whether that particular response sounded less like Carissa than the previous ones, wondering if they read his mind and brought in a different actor to run that, that he's failed to consider the simpler possibility where the person he tickled was not Carissa at all -

A thought crosses Keltham's mind, and he quickly reaches out and grabs the hand of the possible actor playing Carissa Sevar, before they could be invisibly spirited away and replaced by the real one.

Keltham considers whether to use up his one Glimpse of Beyond to check on the true identity of the person whose hand he's holding.

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- she looks down at his hand, and then back up at him. "... new theory is that someone is impersonating Carissa Sevar so Carissa Sevar can impersonate a priest of Abadar?"

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"How do you get that off my suddenly holding your hand?"

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"You're not being affectionate, you're not going to be in the mood for that until you've satisfied yourself I'm not pretending to love you to further my nefarious Conspiracy ends. So, you suddenly want to be in physical contact, why, because that makes it harder to swap me out with an impersonator, except once you've had that thought it has to occur to you that maybe I've already been swapped out with an impersonator."

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"So why am I holding your hand then?"

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"Trying to think of a test- no, you've got one, you will've asked your god for Glimpse of Beyond this morning when you decided to spend the day looking for Conspiracies. But if you use it now then the Conspiracy can freely swap me out for impersonators after this. You could ask for a scroll of it."

 

She is, of course, actually Carissa, but that doesn't mean she has nothing to fear from someone looking at her with True Seeing; she is wearing the Crown of Infernal Majesty, right now, and it will not look like her usual +4 headband. If he asks for a scroll, they'll have time to swap it. 

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"Harder to trust a scroll the Conspiracy supplies to me."

Keltham thinks about whether he wants to burn his Glimpse of Beyond spell on this, agonizes a bit, and finally lets go of Carissa's hand so she can resume her mathematical endeavors, feeling a bit sick and weary of it all.  He refocuses his attention on the priest of Abadar.

(Message to Abadar priest again.)  "It's also been claimed to me that the Pharaoh of Osirion has the legal right to take any woman of Osirion he likes, including foreign visitors."

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"That is a consequence of how power works virtually everywhere on Golarion. The Pharaoh of Osirion does not exercise that right, that I've ever heard of, and the teachings of Abadar celebrate voluntary and mutually profitable arrangements, so it seems likely to me that anyone Abadar selected as His person in Golarion would exhibit similar restraint. But that he has the right - that's the way of the world. If anyone told you that it wasn't so in Cheliax, they lied."

- so Aspexia sends, while still in the middle of her hasty invisible flight back to Abrogail.

Aspexia did not allow herself to think any thoughts of triumph, when Keltham seemed to be accepting the words she was speaking through the cleric; she did understand that much of drama.  It was enough reply that Aspexia would predictably continue to behave with that slight deference to tropes henceforth.

When Keltham then picked that moment to tickle Sevar, Aspexia did wonder if the tropes were trying to encourage her.

Then when Keltham threatened in his mind to use Glimpse of Truth, and perhaps see through to the Crown - nor could any invisible Security dare dart in to quickly replace it, for Glimpse of Truth might see their invisible forms too, if Keltham cast it just then - Aspexia wondered if the tropes were playing her.

Abrogail herself didn't know whether the Crown's artifact status, or perhaps the true actuality of its transformation, would let it evade True Seeing.  The question had not previously been germane to the Queen's usual games, for anybody using True Seeing would see Abrogail herself beneath her seemings, never mind her Crown.

Abrogail had bid Aspexia then to fly invisibly and in haste to check on the Crown of Infernal Majesty from the edge of True Seeing's range, to learn whether they stood at risk, even if that meant leaving Abrogail less-defended for a few rounds.

And now that Aspexia has seen the Crown with the eyes of True Seeing, she does not know at all what to think of tropes -

- Aspexia reaches Abrogail again, and only then sends the message, to be delivered to Sevar when she's not imminently working, that the Crown's guise will pass even True Seeing.  (Aspexia could not send that message earlier, for that might have told some of the Security here that Abrogail was less defended in those moments.  The Queen of Cheliax is not truly undefended, but the Queen is far less defended than usual.)

Perhaps 'the tropes are beyond your comprehension, dare not to work them' is the message the tropes are trying to convey?

Or perhaps all of the events in this sequence were only ones that would have occurred regardless, in a very ordinary way, and Aspexia is only being a fool to think that any tropes were in play at all?

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Good luck figuring that out.  Nethys Himself isn't sure.

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"Carissa, does that match your own understanding of Osirion, Cheliax, and for that matter Golarion?"

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"It's not true at the Worldwound," says Carissa. "At the Worldwound Abrogail or the Pharaoh of Osirion are obliged the same as everyone else, to render aid to anyone fighting if they can safely do so, and to not do violence to them, or detain them except in the course of normal criminal investigations.

 

I - guess it's probably true of pretty much everywhere else. With - different details, and the details do matter, and at varying and in some cases quite high political cost, but I'm not going to sit here and tell you Abrogail couldn't have had me, if you hadn't gotten there first."

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"So why'd you tell me that about the Pharaoh of Osirion, then?"

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"If I recall correctly I was trying to explain to you why women being desired by powerful people is not particularly validating, and I said something like, 'for example it wouldn't be very validating to be chosen by the pharaoh of Osirion, because it'd only mean you're in the top couple hundred or that he was tired of the top couple hundred and wanted something new.' I didn't use Abrogail as an example because being wanted by Abrogail is, it happens, validating, because she's very picky."

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