The Art of Diplomacy

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"Diplomacy and virtue do not make easy companions." The run begins in the early Month of the Dog in the Tenth Year of the Dog since the Third Treaty of Houses.

The run takes place in the Dragon's Throne

Previous Run


A conversation, some time ago

"Hello! We haven't met, but I've been hoping to meet you. My name is Tsai Su-Yin - you're Yang Jia-Jia, right?"
"I do not normally introduce myself with that patronymic in the Dragon's Throne, but yes."
"Well, I suppose I can understand that. I might not either. Your father is kind of... well, never mind."
"He is."
"Anyway. (laughs). I had heard that you were... raised in a part of the World Below, where time passes very quickly? I was trapped for a while in part of the World Below where time passed very slowly, and it caused me to get stuck in this terrible future where we are now. I thought maybe you would be interested in comparing notes and, I don't know, forming a support group?"
"(pause) This is an unusual offer. Please lay out the terms of the compact of such a support group?"
"We... tell each other stories about where we were, and we complain a little to each other about how things are here and now, and we try to provide each other good advice."
"I accept this bargain."
"You know, you sound a lot like my boyfriend."

Another conversation, more recently

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, my lady. I am optimistic that we may find a way to provide mutual benefit to each other, without violating any existing agreements."
"Please make yourself comfortable, Master Chang. And it is good to see you again, Su-Yin. Jia-Jia told me you had some matters to discuss, but of course, I would not be able to make any bargains that run counter to arrangements I already have in place. I've asked Jia-Jia to assist me with that and advise me towards that end. I formally entrust to her one half of my promissory capacity for the next two hours, so that no bargain is agreed to unless agreed to by the both of us."
"Of course! Quite novel, and may I say it is a refreshing change to negotiate with someone who understands these niceties."
"With that out of the way, I am interested to hear your offer."
"Ah, I am afraid that it cannot be quite as simple as that. In order for us to come to a full meeting of the minds, I must explain to you enough of the plan for you to be able to agree. However, if you do not agree and we part ways, then I have given you information that would enable you to thwart those plans."
"Then surely it behooves you to give me ample incentive to agree."
"Indeed, but I must safeguard against the lamentable possibility that you do not. Would you both be willing to promise to take no action, including that of communicating that which I tell you to anyone else in any way, based on these plans if we are unable to come to an agreement?"
"Are you joking? If I were willing to agree to things like that, I'd have been eaten by whisper grues before I could walk."
"I thought not. Having started with the unreasonable opening offers, shall we haggle towards a compromise in the middle?"
"Wow, you weren't kidding when you said that we couldn't just offer to work together. I'm getting more tea cakes."
"We should be able to hammer out an NDA by the time you return."
"First, anything you tell me which I already know or suspect, is exempt. Second, any action or communication which is necessary to protect myself or my allies from harm..."
" -- Physical, political, social, or spiritual harm --"
"... is exempt."
"Hmm. If something is to be exempted as known or suspected, you must declare it at the time."
"My dear sir, I cannot be constantly interrupting the conversation like Jia-Jia here. Agree to let me list it all at the end?"
"At the end or when I ask. Ah! And, you cannot claim you suspected something in the later portion of the conversation because of something I said in the earlier portion. And I am permitted one challenge, that you must tell me how you learned of something."
"You imply that I might be less than truthful? You wound me. And you are surely not suggesting that you could not see through any deception that I might try to practice upon you."
"My lady, it is clear that I underestimate you at my peril."
"You may challenge up to three times, but in each case you must also tell me how you learned the point under contention."
"Third, you must agree to the same restrictions for anything that I tell you that you did not know or suspect."
"... Do you have a plan that you are expecting to inform me of?"
"I hardly think you are consulting me for my mighty prowess in arms."
"Very well. But only for things that you tell me which are germane to the planning at hand."
"Also to apply in both directions."
"Of course."
"Let me see. 'Harm' is not to be construed as a failure to advance."
"Being prevented from advancing is indeed harm."
"Indeed, and were we agreeing to a bargain to not harm each other, that would be a fair stipulation. But we are speaking here of communication to your allies, and should I allow anything that might benefit someone else to be exempt, there is hardly any point to this preliminary bargain."
"I concede the point. A failure to advance..."
"-- for the purposes of the NDA --"
" not harm."
"I'm back, and I brought honey cake. Can we talk about the actual thing yet?"
"If no further agreement is reached, any information received during negotiation which is previously unknown and unsuspected cannot be acted upon or shared, unless doing so is necessary to prevent physical, political, social, or spiritual harm to oneself or an ally. Information which is previously known or suspected has no such restriction, but must be declared at the end of the conversation or on request. Suspicions must be held at the beginning of the negotiation in order to qualify. Each side may thrice request the provenance of previously known or suspected information but must provide provenance for their own knowledge in that case. This agreement binds Precious Jade, Lucky Chang, myself, and Su-Yin. Agreed?"
"Sigh. Agreed, although I hope I’m not penalized for simple error...There are a lot of rules to remember..."
"That is a good point. I would propose an amendment that provably non-intentional error not be characterized as a failure to... "
"Tea. Tea goes well with honey cakes..."
"I’ll help."

Another conversation, after a short break for tea and honey cakes

"You know that there are a number of us who both wish to become Emperor, and have some chance of doing so. I know that you support Xiao Fa, and are obliged to assist his cause. You know that at present, Xiao Fa's chances are better than mine, but the Obsidian Warlord is ahead of both of us. I have learned of a way to achieve some Imperial Status, that has not yet been considered."
"How many points?"
"I do not know for sure. The mechanic may be such that each contender can earn a point, but I think it more likely that there will be a single divisible point."
"And you need me to get it."
"No. Your assistance would be useful, but you are not invaluable. Perhaps more importantly, your assistance would allow for more subtlety, so that others are less likely to learn of the mechanic themselves."
"Hmm. I think that if you could succeed with the aid of someone else with similar skills to mine but fewer constraints, then you would have chosen someone else."
"Perhaps I make this offer as a show of good faith to Xiao Fa's faction."
"Then you would be making it to him, not to me."
"The more of Xiao Fa's companions are involved, the less likely it is that a bargain will be properly kept if it is to their advantage to forget or accidentally win. You know this."
"... You are not wrong there."
"In any event, I am more willing to make a bargain with you that provides some advantage to Xiao Fa, than I am to try to accomplish the thing with myself and Su-Yin alone. But we will go it alone rather than let it be exuberantly interfered with. Shall we continue the discussion? Or will you tell me there is no agreement to be made here?"
"Oh, I hardly think we have reached the end of our conversation, agreement or no."
"Very well. If the mechanic allows each contender to earn a point, I am satisfied with a bargain that allows both myself and Xiao Fa to earn a point. We should come to an agreement now for the division of a fixed amount of status. Shall we start with the assumption of one, and discuss variants afterwards?"
"Let me see. If you were willing to accept half a point each, you would simply have offered..."
"Xiao Fa has three and a quarter points. Lucky has two and fifty-eight hundredths. You won't go for anything that puts him ahead, which means the upper bound is eighty-three seventeen. You won't go for fifty fifty because it's your plan and you still have that thing about coin flips. Splitting the difference is two thirds / one third. That should be easier to arrange in a mechanic than a lot of other divisions. Plus there's a lot of aesthetics to it - look at it one way and it means Lucky catches up to Xiao Fa exactly but then Xiao Fa pulls ahead again. Look at it another way and it means Lucky only halves the distance between himself and Xiao Fa, which if you believe that weird thing about turtles means he'll never catch up. So let's just say you spent another hour haggling and settled on that?"
"What? It's not like I haven't been paying any attention."

The Long-Awaited Plan

"One of the requirements for Emperor is the support of the Regency Council. But legally, the Council is just a twelve-way split of the position of Regent, the caretaker for the Empire while the Emperor is not of age. This is the first time we've had a Regency Council, but it's not the first time there has been a Regent. Of course, the power of the Regent is revoked when the Emperor is of age, but with sufficient trickery, it can still count."
"Now, I'll concede that you already know all of that. The thing you didn't know is how it's relevant right now. But if you go and point out 'hey, just letting you know that there are Regent shenanigans that might work, not that I can tell you why I'm telling you that' then you're conveying that it's relevant right now, which breaks the deal."
"<whisper whisper whisper>"
"Master Chang, let me remind you that it is still in my best interests to remain in your good graces, in the case that you someday ascend the Jade Throne. I stipulate that I will treat the bargain between us as one to be kept in good faith, not simply to the letter."
"Thank you. That does make this easier..."
"<pointed silence and raised eyebrow>"
"... I also so stipulate."
"I am so pleased to hear that."
"So. I know the location of the seal of Lo Zetian, regent for Lo Shihuo for three years, and I have a method by which I can make the seal bureaucratically active."
"And the seal is in the Jade Palace?"
"The seal is in the Endless Shaft in the sealed vaults below the Hall of Ultimate Supremacy."
"What? No one is even permitted into the Hall of Ultimate Supremacy without the Emperor's permission."
"Which is why we need your assistance."
"Okay, it's getting late. We'll do the actual shadowrun next NPC run." -Mike
"Are you kidding me? I. Had. One. Line."
"Yanling, since you were in the run, you receive the EPs for it. Now you will be in two runs, with twice the EPs. I’ve been in entire runs where I’ve said nothing at all! It’s perfectly fine. Why, I once took a vow of silence for a whole s..." -Mike
"Hush. Don’t worry about it. Here, you can all have a karma point." -Laura
"I suppose… It still would have been nice to do something besides saying one line."
"I know. Do you have anywhere for combat practice? Let me show you something I learned, before the run ends..."