Impractical Applications (Jalil and Manipulation)

This week, I touched on manipulation in many of its forms.

I’ve learned a lot about manipulation in my games, mostly by dint of practice. And some of the best practice I’ve had was with the antagonist of the first arc of my game, an individual-manipulation specialist by name of Jalil. If anything, he’s as responsible as anyone for that last chain of posts.

Imagine, if you will, someone who’s sold his soul to forces beyond comprehension, who can order almost anyone around and get it to stick but often chooses not to. A smooth talker, highly educated, and absurdly effective at getting under people’s skin. Now imagine that despite having been the group’s enemy for an amount of time that covered getting on for a year both in and out of character, and having been killed at the group’s hands after doing something even they could not forgive (one of about four or five named characters they haven’t let live, mind you), when they discovered that a newer acquaintance of theirs had a remnant of this person in his head, not only did they keep him around, but they made a point of finding opportunities to talk to him even knowing that any information he gave them would be accompanied by a neverending stream of biting commentary, because he was just that interesting. Imagine all that—and you have about the right idea.

Jalil demonstrated a gift for both direct and indirect manipulation while under the group’s observation. Their first meeting with him, after all, had been after he had set a trap for a friend of theirs, revealing his presence with a set of carefully chosen thefts in order to get her to come looking for him. And when that failed, had personally maneuvered someone else into a similar attempt, then delayed them with information of yet something else (that he was technically involved in). He managed to take advantage of just about every twist the group threw at me.

Though what I’d found particularly amusing about this one (aside from the sardonic commentary at the group’s expense; it wasn’t often that I could insult them with impunity) was that this was a manipulator good enough that even I didn’t tend to know half of what he was planning until after he’d succeeded. And, I suppose, that they’d liked him so much; by setting him up in the mind of one of their allies, I’d thought I was giving them a potential moral dilemma, not the well of snarky information he’d ended up as.

And even now, when they’re starting to worry about his influence on his host, he’s still too much fun to do away with entirely. So out come the cunning plans (I think the current one involves making a talking paperweight of the remnant-part of him).

Have to be doing something right, correct?

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