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I have no idea where I'm going with this: Part 2
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2 Years ago:

Deep under Golarion in a highly warded space only accessible by either teleporting twice or swimming through hundreds of feet of solid stone, resides Stristyko and his handful of household minions.

Stristkyo is Lawful Evil. He keeps his promises. Long ago, he bargained with his future immortal self that no matter how far he might progress into the depths of villainy and corruption, he would always find the time for pure self-interested joy. Were he not predictibly going to do this, that tiny mortal would have despaired of Unlife and Judgement alike, and fed himself to a daemon.

Stristyko the immortal would not have prefered that outcome.

On this particular day, Stristyko is engaging in his ancient obligation to experience a little fun, once in a while. He participates in friendly, wholesome recreation, with his favourite of his minions.

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She doesn't win much, but she doesn't mind losing if it's to Stristyko, and will sincerely try her best in the hope of making it more fun for him. She thinks she has found a useful idea that she hasn't played and lost with before. She will make the move.

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You think the bishop isn't hanging there but it is.

When my knight captures it you can capture it back and the center pawn but I can take your pawns on the other side and still end up a point ahead for it.

He moves his knight and takes it, and as he does so holds the captured white piece briefly in the air, as if to emphasize his point.

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Though she is surely not in any mortal danger, she nevertheless leaps back in instinctual terror, from the object which she has physically held a thousand times before and somehow never had any instinctual terrors about until this moment right now.

 


Footnote: There is nothing in the rulebook that says this isn't how it works. Cayden did the same trick too, by picking the ordinary tankard as His Holy Symbol and therefore screwing over every vampire in Golarion who tries to act normal walking into a tavern only to get outed the moment they're offered a drink.

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A person with ambitions of never dying, or at least of outlasting Hell, is not just going to ignore that response.

It's what he might expect to happen, if some god of Good decided today was the day to tell a paladin hit-squad his location, divinely shatter his wards, and teleport some holy assassin directly behind him.

There are exactly zero Holy Symbols in this entire sub-section of his dungeon.
There aren't any other explanations here for what he has already observed.

He's not going to bother turning around. Even if he saw nothing standing there, despite his Permenancied See Invisibility and Arcane Sight, it still wouldn't be enough evidence to convince him not to give his full maximum contingency response anyway.

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sorry Master it's a misunderstanding Master it's the chess piece somethings wrong with the chess piece Master please calm down Master please i'm so sorry Master

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It's too late to unscare him now. He's speaking command words, triggering expensive single-use contingencies, activating magic items, and casting spells all at once.

Estrella is a powerful undead, and a senior member of his court, but it's not like she's impossible to mind control. Even items of continuous Mind Blank don't get you that. Stristyko looked into it, it's just way too expensive to justify. They're at home playing chess, for Urgathoa's sake.

Stristyko trusts Estrella enough that her duties include guarding his phylactery, where that's necessary.
He just doesn't trust that she'd never ever fail a Will save against a 7th circle Control Undead or to spell-resist an 8th circle Threnodic Geas.
Therefore, he shouldn't refrain from taking obvious precautions based on anything Estrella says or does.

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My Lord and Master is far greater and wiser than me. I am the one who is wrong. I just clearly haven't understood the danger yet, somehow. I must aid him to the best of my ability in spending all our accumulated resources against this mysterious phantom threat.

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...

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By the time he has calmed down, he's wasted about 20,000 gp and a few months of his accumulated spellwork.

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Stristyko swears his undying revenge on whoever's fault this was.
He even writes it down, in his revenge diary. Page 15, item 6.

He still needs his break, and then to repair all his damaged defences.

Look, he'll get around to it eventually, okay. It's undying revenge.

He's Lawful, it'll happen someday. After all his other higher priority revenges, maybe.

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Estrella greatly regrets her outburst. She is inconsolable.

She begs to be appropriately punished for it.

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None of what happened is in any particular way her fault, and even if it was he still wouldn't be upset about it. And since getting abused would make her feel better, it wouldn't be a proper incentive even if he wanted it to be. 

He'll make her clean the whole dungeon, and filter out the acid traps, to help her feel appropriately punished and therefore forgivable. Her spawn and thralls can help her a little bit, group punishments are a good team-building exercise.

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And until then he'll ... read a book, he supposes.

Why is his life like this.

Stristyko hates the gods of Good. What did he ever do to Them.

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Present Day:

Gorthoklek has been bound to service under an infernal compact, and put in charge of beating the Chelish Army into an obedient and disciplined fighting force.

This is the least pleasant thing that the army has ever been told, and in any other country would result in an immediate coup attempt by whichever general had the most troops, mass defection by anyone close enough to reach a border faster than they'd expect a pit fiend to reach them, and mass rebellion by anyone who thought being conscripted might happen to them too and wanted the first move advantage.

In Cheliax, it mostly works though. Almost everyone in Cheliax incorrectly believes that everyone else is much more loyal than them, would never go along with that kind of thing, would report you if you even hinted at it, and you'd just be getting yourself hurt worse. Even those who have seen through it know that most people haven't, and would report you for fear that you'd report them not reporting you, and so common knowledge is not easily created. Traitors and heretics in Cheliax die under Malediction, and if there's pit fiends waiting for you in Hell why run just because now their's one on the Material, too.

There'll be common knowledge after Gorthoklek has visited each unit, that instead of trying to think of clever ways out they should just do their jobs and pray he doesn't come back.

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Ravounel has been successfully convinced by Pit-Fiend-Diplomacy not to petition for independence. At no point in this process did the Pit Fiend threaten to invade or otherwise "move against" Ravounel, in full obedience to the Kintargo Contract. He said solely ordinary and true things and they just sort of assumed.

Probably they would have negotiated harder if they knew Cheliax was forbidden from doing anything if they did take independence, but not telling people things like that is the way of Hell, and Mardehzuk has risen high in it.

He doesn't need to lie to them to convince them to obey.

Pit Fiends can do things like that, when they're trying to.

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Cheliax is still in a much weaker position. It relied on trade across the Inner Sea to make up for its terrible land borders: isolationist and imperialist rivals across a mountain range to the north, enemies to the east, and ocean on the rest. Previously valuable, Cheliax-controlled ocean, now a pirate sanctuary.

Abrogail really wants to burn Andoran, for what it's done to her Empire. She'll build an army to fight off any competitors and cast half the spells for it herself if she has to. She'll destroy her problems at its source.

The only problem is that they've got a 9th circle archmage too, and while she's been 9th for days, felandriel Morgethai has been 9th for decades.

She will have to exercise restraint and patience, in bringing about their downfall. That's fine, she can be patient.

She'll steal their secret immediately though, the navy say they can't catch them at sea but that's no reason they can't raid Augastana by spy and teleport and take whatever this is from its home.

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Hey Tet
Hey Tet
Hey Tet

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What up?

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Pseudohypothetically, if I knew something only because a paladin prayed to Me, and the paladin was thinking about something they were Oathbound not to share in ways that risked it being leaked, and I therefore felt obligated to keep to that same Oath lest all my paladins be handicapped into being permenantly unable to ever swear secrecy about anything, but I was reasonably sure You knew already and could by the same process You know infer I knew, and also infer from My knowing it that I'd be reasonably sure You knew because We both know We're both gods and are reliably correct about these kinds of reasoning puzzles, then -

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Yes yes I know My Cleric Robaldo gave Your Paladin Cormoth some naval innovations in exchange partly for his secrecy about where he got it from, and I know You know only because of that, and We both know We both know, and so on, so it's not a violation of either of their trusts in either of Us that we talk about it to each other.

I already gave him a circle for it.

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Yes that matter.

I've noticed those same "naval innovations" have been quickly adopted by a number of pirate organisations. In fact, if I try and focus on the precise timing of the attacks and with reasonable estimates of how long it'd take those groups to implement the technology, it seems like the pirates might have had access to the technology as of slightly before when My paladin learnt it from Your cleric and then immediately prayed about it.

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Wow. Pretty quick of them. One wonders how they pulled that off.

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I wonder if perhaps You wonder it much less than I do.

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Fine, strictly conditional on Your Oath not to use any of this information against My interest, here's everything I know.

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...

You could have paid Me to do that! How does this benefit Good more than not this?

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