Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

by Gondolinian1 min read3rd Mar 2015432 comments


HPMOR (discussion & meta)
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This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 114, and also, as a special case due to the exceptionally close posting times, chapter 115.

There is a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.)

Spoiler Warning: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13. More specifically:

You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it’s fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that “Eliezer said X is true” unless you use rot13.

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"I wonder how difficult it would be to just make a list of all the top blood purists and kill them.

They'd tried exactly that during the French Revolution, more or less - make a list of all the enemies of Progress and remove everything above the neck..." -Harry's internal monologue, HPMOR Chapter 7

"Amusing, but that was not your first fleeting thought before you substituted something safer, less damaging. No, what you remembered was how you considered lining up all the blood purists and guillotining them. And now you are telling yourself you were not serious, but you were. If you could do it this very moment and no one would ever know, you would." -The Sorting Hat, HPMOR Chapter 10

Well...well I guess it wasn't technically a guillotine. And Harry didn't make a list himself. But Harry did do it, and set it up so no one would ever know.

7Jost6yThis is bloody brilliant foreshadowing!
4noahpocalypse6yEliezer was clearly thinking ahead.

Other note. Dumbeldore defeated Voldemort. He placed Minerva to intercept any discoveries of Harry and he made Harry swear not to tell anyone about it. This left Voldemort underprepaired against the weapon that got him in the end. Dumbeldore had a million plots going, and this one worked. Sometiems one is all you need.

Also don't forget trapping himself in the mirror rather than Harry.

0WalterL6yI dunno, it seems like you could say Dumbledore's Father and Mother defeated Voldemort, they had a child who was intelligent enough to do those things you said. More seriously, it was a causal chain. Pretty much everyone involved was crucial. If I had to give credit to one party in particular it would be the entity or entities which hands out prophecies (I suspect this is Future!Hermione, but we'll see). Voldemort's first defeat was caused by his attempts to fulfill the first in his own way. His second was caused by his attempt to comprehensively thwart the second.
3MathMage6yOver/under on there being such entities at all? It's certainly possible that our current understanding of where prophecies come from is incomplete, but the story doesn't seem to have set it up as particularly likely.
2WalterL6yOk, 5 chapters left, I have a , lets call it 70% surety that there is more left than wrapup. 1-3 chapters would be enough for that. I think there will also be a flashforward to whatever the big triumph is. Ending Death, optimizing the world, colonizing space, gaining Root on the Source of Magic, which is stored in the Mirror...
3TobyBartels6yAn epilogue, as in Rowling's books?
1MathMage6yI would say at least 95% certainty that there's more than wrapup left, but it sounds like handing out prophecies is pretty far down on the list of additional things to cover.
2WalterL6yI have a sort of uber-theory that's been hanging over me since Harry heard the whisper to meet Hermione Granger on the train, since he felt irrationally certain that Magic was real back in the very first chapters. This theory is that Future!Harry, or a friend, Future!Hermione is the one who most fits the bill, is God. Or Root on the Source Of Magic. The things that are inexplicable, that certainty, those prophecies, are just his the future self protecting its timeline, as it remembers doing, just like Harry writing "Don't mess with time" on his paper. If so, they'll sucessfully take control of reality, and discover that their uber-Time
5Nornagest6yI suppose we've already broken one of those commandments, but still, the similarity's amusing.
0TuviaDulin6yPretty sure the Atlantians created the Source. There's probably a dyson sphere in our star cluster providing all the power needed for magic.
0TobyBartels6yIf so, then it's too bad that the Pioneer Horcrux didn't manage to make it outside of that sphere before now. Voldemort might have been in for a terrible shock if it had suddenly stopped working!
0Astazha6yHis irrational certainty is explained by the buried memories of Tom Riddle. I imagine Dumbledore steered him towards Hermione.
3MathMage6yChapter 8: [http://hpmor.com/chapter/8]
0Astazha6yAh yes, thanks.
0Astazha6yI didn't meant to retract the whole thing. Sorry, I'm new to the site and there doesn't appear to be an undo.
0jkadlubo6yI would say that the whole thing took about 3 hours (maybe more if the walk to the cemetery took a lot of time), so now that Harry used his last hour, he's about 3 hours before his past self gets the note. He has to occupy that time, and what better way than to try to free Dumbledore? I don't mind him not succeeding - I already have my "as good as possible" ending.
0Jost6yIn that case, the big explosion would happen about 2 hours before his past self gets the note, which would make the timeline inconsistent, since no such disturbance of the Quidditch match occurred while past!Harry was there. Given that constraint, everything that happened since Harry time-turned five hours back must have taken at least five hours.
0CellBioGuy6yDid he actually thwart it or will it happen?
3WalterL6yI don't think you can thwart prophecies. Voldemort's efforts to do so were pointless.
0TobyBartels6yI agree, but why didn't Voldemort know that?
1TobyBartels6ySure it'll happen. Harry will still do star-lifting.

So, apparently, the final exam question was "What would Taylor Hebert do?".

6Alsadius6yAnyone who gives a speech in a school talking about how drugs are fun is a good person to emulate, IMO.
0Ben Pace6yEr, Taylor Hebert from Worm did that? Could you remind me of when that was? Edit: I mean talked about drugs in a school.
5Nornagest6yClosest analogy to this that I can remember offhand is when she phgf Rpuvqan va unys hfvat fcvqrefvyx yvarf cyhf Pybpxoybpxre'f grzcbeny svkngvba cbjre. (spoilers for about halfway through the story)
2Ben Pace6yOh, I hadn't realised that was what the top comment meant, I just thought he was referring to the killing part. Damn, that's nice.
0Nornagest6yYeah, scenes like that are a good bit of why I like Worm. Which reminds me, I haven't caught up on Pact for a week or two...
4Alsadius6yhttps://parahumans.wordpress.com/category/stories-arcs-21/arc-23-drone/23-04/ [https://parahumans.wordpress.com/category/stories-arcs-21/arc-23-drone/23-04/] (edited slightly for spoilers) “I always hated the speeches when I was in school, the preaching in auditoriums, the one-note message. Stuff like saying drugs are bad. It’s wrong. Drugs are fantastic.” “Um,” Fox-mask said. Mrs. Yamada was glaring at me, but she hadn’t interrupted. “People wouldn’t do them if they weren’t. They make you feel good, make your day brighter, give you energy-” “Taylor,” Mrs. Yamada cut in. “-until they don’t,” I said. “People hear the message that drugs are bad, that they’ll ruin your life if you do them once. And then you find out that isn’t exactly true because your friends did it and turned out okay, or you wind up trying something and you’re fine. So you try them, try them again. It isn’t a mind-shattering moment of horrible when you try that first drug. Or so I hear. It’s subtle, it creeps up on you, and you never really get a good, convincing reason to stop before it ruins your life beyond comprehension. I never went down that road, but I knew a fair number of people who did.”
4Subbak6yAs Weaver, she said something like "Drugs are awesome kids, but it's what comes after that really sucks. Being a supervillain is the same".
2Subbak6yI guess micro-managing the nanotubes isn't so different conceptually from micro-managing bugs carrying silk ropes...
3Vaniver6yYeah, but remember that guvf eryvrq ba pbzchgngvbany cbjre pbzvat sebz gur bgure havirefr, naq nf V erpnyy vg jura fur yriryrq hc vg pbafhzrq zber naq zber bs ure oenva gb pbageby ure cbjre.
2jkadlubo6yI wouldn't agree. As some early point she grfgrq ure yvzvgf naq qrpvqrq fur pbhyq qvivqr ure nggragvba orgjrra nal ahzore bs ohtf jvgubhg nal fbeg bs qenjonpx. Fur ybfg ure zvaq jura Cnanprn punatrq ure oenva, fb gung zvtug zrna pbagebyyvat uhznaf jnf gur gvccvat cbvag be vg jnf Cnanprn'f zvfgnxr.
0Sheaman37736yAfter Gnlybe orpbzrf n Jneq, fur unf gb qb n choyvpvgl ovg ng n tenqr fpubby. She told them that taking drugs was fun, and felt great...until it wasn't, and ruined everything good about your life. It's in chapter 23.04 ETA: Dang, didn't notice someone below me already posted much the same. Oh well.
0[anonymous]6yVzzrqvngryl orsber Orurzbgu nggnpx.
4[anonymous]6yAlternatively, "What would Neji do?"
3Velorien6yThank you for that mental image, which will likely never leave the traumatised recesses of my mind.
2hairyfigment6yA: Taylor would violate her mentor's mind and then make him look like a hero.
0Luke_A_Somers6yAnswer A: Carbon nanotube spiders. Ouch. Answer B: I think all of them were in range. Admin powers time?

After sleeping on it, I'd like to raise two problems I have with the last double-update, and see what you guys think.

1. That Harry would be able to cast Partial Transfiguration in those circumstances does not seem clearly and unambiguously established by the story so far.

(unless I'm missing something, in which case please point it out to me.)

I'm not saying it's wrong that he was able to cast it. I'm saying that as a reader, I couldn't know that in advance, and that's bad for a story.

First we're told that you can't transfigure air. And EY repeatedly insists Harry cannot overcome any limitations of magic in 60 seconds, so that felt like a hint not to look for a spellcasting solution, at least not without regaining some freedom of movement first.

We did get an earlier scene where Harry considers the fact that his wand is showing some minor wear and tear, and seems robust against small loss of wood. So yes, that feels like a hint in the other direction, maybe even fairly strong evidence.

But the thing is, magic in Harry Potter universe is arbitrary in so many ways, like that you have to say "Wingardum Leviosa" and not something else if you want to levitate something. HPMoR draw... (read more)

6kilobug6yI mostly agree with the first part, and it's an important reason for which I didn't like the "final exam" concept, there is just too much we don't really know about how HPMOR world works. It's fine from a pure story-telling point of view, because we can assume Harry knows more about it than we do (he's living in it after all, he did read many books about magic, do many experiments, attend to lessons, ...) but it's not fair to ask us to outguess such things. For the second part, I don't really agree. Think about the emotional state of Harry. He got through a very very stressy times, and despite all odds, he won. I must be feeling some euphoria for that. And at the same time, he killed dozens fo people. In self-defense, sure. But he, the anti-deathist just killed dozens of people. In such a situation, the mixing of euphoria of winning against all odds and the horror of having just killed, wondering what the future ethical transhuman civilization would do and think about all that feels totally appropriate to me. It's exactly what I would expect of Harry, the one who (re-)invented True Patronus.
1MarkusRamikin6yI concede this. I think I just don't like this part of Harry that much, but that is not the same as saying it's not in character. The rest of my point remains, that after all all the pressure built up in the previous 8 chapters, this one is too relaxed and lacking in precautionary thinking. Is it really fine from a storytelling point of view? I suggest that correct storytelling means making solution-relevant rules clear in advance. Like in Death Note, the plot often hinges on how exactly the notebooks work, but these rules - and how much each character knows about them - are made very clear before they become pivotal. And clearly EY tried to do this, and came close (with the robust-wand thing). I just don't think it quite worked.

Do The Impossible, indeed. Looping a thin thread over someone's head several meters away is tricky business. The slightest bit of wind throws it off. And this must be done without moving the wand or betraying the operation through one's facial expression. I can't imagine it being done without the utmost concentration, allowing of course for effort to be expended talking to Voldemort and maintaining mental blocks against any Legilimens among the Death Eaters (recall that in Half-Blood Prince Snape was able to detect spells forming in Harry's mind). This is all done perfectly the first time around. Thirty-six times, plus Voldemort's wrists.

I suppose one can honestly say A Wizard Did It...

0noahpocalypse6ySnake detecting spells: Canon!Harry sucked at Occlumency.

Reading the chapters again, I can't help feeling that, while Harry's sudden victory is satisfying from a "we, the fandom, have passed the test" perspective, without that context it is really unnatural. Harry abruptly goes from being utterly emotionally overwhelmed and reeling to the flawless, cold-blooded execution of a perfect plan that fully draws on a number of disparate ideas and abilities.

Edit: Also, I'm far from the first person to say this, but Harry's sudden spike in competence is preceded by Voldemort becoming a hammier, less intelligent villain. His precautions against Harry attempting to escape, and his plans for how to kill him reliably, are reasonably intelligent, but there are a dozen simpler and/or more effective countermeasures he could have taken, starting with something as obvious as getting rid of Harry's wand.

If there were more chapters left to go, I'd put money on "Voldemort let all this happen as part of a greater gambit", but as things stand I'm feeling pessimistic.

8solipsist6y* The villain allows the hero to win * The villain is weaker than the hero * Deus ex machina * The hero doesn't win Take at least one.
8Velorien6yI'm not sure what you're trying to say. In most stories that involve a final conflict between a hero and a villain, none of those options apply. The villain is stronger, and is defeated through some combination of circumstances and advantages that allow the hero to bypass that strength or temporarily exceed it (typically through significant effort and/or sacrifice, often prior to the confrontation).
1solipsist6yRight, that's what happened in this story: Harry temporarily got the upper hand on Voldemort. Voldemort allowed Harry to get the upper hand. When Voldemort possessed Quirrell's body, he didn't just take over the world over the course of a week. When Voldemort realized that Harry was an existential threat, he didn't relieve Harry of his limbs, mind, and freedom to move outside a little box. Voldemort allowed Harry to be a threat because otherwise there wouldn't have been a story.

Voldemort allowed Harry to be a threat because otherwise there wouldn't have been a story.

The problem is that he did so in a way that feels inconsistent with the rest of the story. Most villains in most stories aren't the type that would relieve their nemesis of his limbs, mind, and freedom to move outside a little box. Sauron didn't seal off the Cracks of Doom, or even post a serious guard around them. The Emperor didn't place the shield generator on Endor in a hidden underground compound guarded by a small army. A great succession of villains have failed to just shoot James Bond. HPMOR!Voldemort would do all of those things, because from the start his extraordinarily high intelligence and skill at what he does have been cornerstones of his character. When he makes a mistake, many readers will assume (and have assumed, usually correctly) that it is a deliberate ploy. Mistakes as bad as what we're seeing here aren't just folly; they verge on character derailment.

As a simple matter of fact, Voldemort is stronger than Harry in basically every way, other than Harry's (incomplete) training in rationality. If Voldemort were a good enough planner, there's no way he could lose; he is smarter, more powerful, and has more ancient lore than any other wizard. If Voldemort were also rational, and didn't fall prey to overconfidence bias / planning fallacy...

Well, you can be as rational as you like, but if you are human and your opponent is a superintelligent god with a horde of bloodthirsty nanobots, the invincible Elder Lightsaber, and the One Thing to Rule Them All, then the story is going to read less like HPMOR, and more like:

"...HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD." Quirinus Quirrell calmly activated the toe ring he had prepared months ago, causing the capsule of sulfuric acid embedded in the top of Harry's skull (placed there earlier by an Imperiused Madam Pomfrey, in case of emergency) to break open and quickly dissolve the other Tom Riddle. Quirrell shook his head in disappointment as he felt the sense of doom diminish and then disappear, but it had to be done. He turned to walk towards the third floor corridor. The End.

4Velorien6yYup. So the solution is not to make your villain a superintelligent god with a horde of bloodthirsty nanobots, the invincible Elder Lightsaber, and the One Thing to Rule Them All to begin with. Eliezer took the risk of setting up an incredibly powerful villain, and it is to his credit as a writer that up until the very end he made us believe that he was capable of writing a satisfying resolution anyway. Frankly, he still might. There are four chapters left, and Eliezer is nothing if not capable of surprising his audience. And as a Naruto fan, he might also have come across Bleach (another of the Big Three shounen series), and learned from its author already having made the exact same mistake.
2elityre8moAh. But he would want to be more careful than that, because there's a prophecy, and Voldemort got burned the last time a prophecy was involved. So he goes out of his way to tear it apart, by bringing Hermione back, for instance, which required the stone, and having the other Tom swear an unbreakable vow.
1Pongo8moThere wouldn't have been such a prophecy if Voldemort had been sufficiently rational
2solipsist6yProfessor Quirrell will always be a step ahead of you, will always outwit you. You cannot beat him in any game. That is the characterization of the Defense Professor. A story cannot start with "You can't beat the Professor Quirrell at any game" and end with "Professor Quirrell has lost the game" without a character break in between.

Is that what we've seen presented so far?

Dumbledore won during the Battle of the Three Armies. His assault on Azkaban would have gotten him killed (and more seriously, set back his efforts by years) for a stupid communication error, were Harry not willing to risk his own life and invent new magic to save the man. Hermoine outlasted several hours of the Defense Professor's most aggressive psychological attacks possible, using fairly basic deontology. His 'lesson plan' with Ma-Ha-Su in Chapter 16 was bluntly stupid, even if Harry hadn't used the easy way out. In Chapter 35, he fears that Harry has screwed over his plans because of voicing an obvious disagreement that Harry has repeatedly given privately before.

And that's before we get to the stupidity that was enforced by canon : testing multiple novel spells (Horcruxes, however he 'reformated' the young Harry Potter) without sufficient and verified safeties, the highly fractious Death Eaters, the lackluster war with Dumbledore.

Quirrellmort is smart. He thinks ahead. But his fundamental philosophy is still very restricted. As much as he tries to claim otherwise, he's running on distilled Command Push -- we'll note that no De... (read more)

1CronoDAS6yIf you want a retcon that makes it actually reasonable to let Harry keep his wand, let's say that speaking Parseltongue only makes you tell the truth if you're also holding a wand at the same time. (Or that you can't speak it at all without it.)

I think this is a great comment, but could you please expand on two points?

His 'lesson plan' with Ma-Ha-Su in Chapter 16 was bluntly stupid, even if Harry hadn't used the easy way out.

What are you talking about here?

And also

he's running on distilled Command Push

What does this mean?

What are you talking about here?

In Chapter 16, Quirrelmort instructed the class in a very simple hex that caused a small amount of pain and no lasting harm called Ma-Ha-Su. He then selects three students, Hermoine, Draco, and Harry Potter, and then requires them to select a student and fire Ma-Ha-Su at them, taking Quirrel and later House points for non-compliance. The comparisons to the Millgram Experiments become explicit in chapter 63. Hermoine refuses, Draco fires on Hermoine, and Harry fires on himself.

Harry explicitly beats Quirrelmort's plans, here : "Yes, quite ingenious, but there was a lesson to be taught and you dodged it." It's not clear he ever gets the intended lesson, given that Quirrelmort seemed to intend to teach Harry to harm Draco on obedient command.

Interestingly, this could have not just failed but have gone horribly wrong for Quirrelmort, and he wouldn't have even understood why. One of the common responses to Millgram-like actions in the last few years of science fiction is to turn on the person giving illegal orders. Harry wouldn't do that because of his upbringing, but other possible Riddle-clones would wanted to fire Ma-Ha-Su on Quirrel... (read more)

2Ben Pace6yThat was very interesting, thanks.
7Nornagest6yI wondered the same thing. The only thing Google gave me that made sense in context was jargon from a Civilization wiki, meaning a style of military command where orders include implementation details: "here's the actions you need to take". The pitfalls of this style are that it places increased cognitive and communications load on the commander, that it can fail to account for local or changing conditions, and that it can lead to poor responsiveness under conditions of imperfect communication. Current management theory (and, I believe, Western military doctrine, though I'm not an expert) favors objective-based orders: "here's the goal you need to accomplish". That leaves implementation details up to subordinates.
8Vaniver6yThe term of art is mission-type tactics [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission-type_tactics] or mission command.
1Ben Pace6yThis makes a lot of sense, thank you. I see the parent comment to mine is right too, that this is Voldemort's political philosophy. Give me all the power, and then all of my values will be attained.
7MathMage6y...or character growth in the protagonist, theoretically.
1solipsist6yPerhaps, but you have to get around why the villain doesn't destroy the growing threat while it's still weak.
7Velorien6yWhich isn't a problem in HPMOR, because we've been given a number of persuasive reasons why Quirrell wanted Harry alive - he didn't change his mind about this until he heard the prophecy about Harry destroying the world, at which point it seems he decided to kill Harry as soon as he'd used him to obtain the Philosopher's Stone.
7dxu6yThat... sounds dangerously close to "did it because of Plot", which isn't supposed to happen in a rational story.
0[anonymous]6y(No, the options I gave in the bullets are not comprehensive. I couldn't find an airtight but pity way to express conundrum inherent in having strong villains lose).
4dxu6yWhile I wouldn't go quite that far, I do agree with you on one thing: leaving Harry his wand was really stupid. Why did he let Harry keep his wand?

Let me have a go at coming up with a dozen:

  • Get rid of Harry's wand (as mentioned)
  • Remove Harry's glasses (which could have been a transfigured anything, and Voldemort had just taught Harry how to dispel transfiguration by mere physical contact)
  • Bind or paralyse Harry, with rope or a Death Eater spell
  • Have a Death Eater Imperius Harry with a command to obey Voldemort and do nothing else
  • Have a Death Eater use a Confundus Charm on Harry to make him trust Voldemort and not look for ways to escape
  • Blind Harry - he doesn't need his eyes to tell Voldemort his secrets, just his ears and tongue
  • On the same principle, Voldemort could happily dismember him, as long as magic was used to prevent death from blood loss or shock, and distraction from pain
  • Drain Harry of magic by forcing him to cast innocuous spells
  • Use illusions to disguise the number and location of the Death Eaters so that Harry is unable to come up with targeted countermeasures against them (and so are any unexpected rescuers)
  • Cast a spell on Hermione as a dead man's switch - something that will not permanently hurt/kill her unless Harry does something to incapacitate Voldemort and prevent him from dispelling it in time (not
... (read more)

I posted this as part of my review. I think it explains the wand thing. As so often happens in real life, we don't see the workings of mind that lead to every decisive factor in an outcome. In real life, we get to the end of a problem and often don't know why a particular mistake was made. ...

A small disturbance dwelt in my mind for these days, for I had concluded that Eliezer had already contrived a clever solution for Harry, sealed off all other such pathways, and that a strong indicator of what that contrived plan was, was that Voldemort left Harry with his wand after the Vow. Curious, that, oui? Voldemort specifically forbade Harry to raise his wand, and told his servants to attack him in a flurry of eclectic attacks, the mere thought of which would inevitably have an emotional effect on Harry, clouding his mental acuity. Since, Voldemort has in his consciousness that Harry has his wand, and has no reason to let him hold it, the clear explanation is that Eliezer could only think of a way for Harry to win if he had his wand, so he made Voldemort make a stupid mistake, it was the best he could do. Still quite good; I did not begrudge him it.

Since victory depends upon the wand, an... (read more)

2Jiro6yIf letting Harry have the wand is out of character as a mistake, but in character as a test, not only does that mean that letting him have the wand is a test, it also means that Harry should be able to figure out that letting him have the wand is a test. This ruins the usefulness of the test as a test.
0Bound_up6yI'm not positive I understand. You think that letting Harry have his wand either is or isn't a sufficient clue to deduce that it is a test, and that If it is a sufficient clue, Harry will know it's a test. Harry's knowing it is a test will ruin the nature of the test. It if is not a sufficient clue, Harry cannot be tested by it, as nobody can be expected to deduce such a thing. Therefore, neither option aligns with Voldemort's goals, and the test is out of character for him as a rational being. If I do understand, I think the this part of my post implies the response I will now clarify: "But! For Harry to submit, and this of his own free will, this despite his apparent Plot-Induced Loophole, this is a proof of his self-mastery, and of his rationality. For to submit for lack of spirit is not the same as to submit for the understanding of its ideal nature." Allowing Harry to keep his wand is a sufficient clue that something is wrong. If it's enough to make me feel confused, it's enough for the more rational being Harry can become in this circumstance. Harry's deducing that it is a test does not destroy the test, because that is the test! ;) To deduce such a thing is a test of rationality. For him to be able to lose in such a situation is a further test of the great limit to his rationality throughout, his emotions, especially his pride, his disproportionate value of his own social dominance. So it was a feasible test of his rationality on two important levels.

I think there may be some hindsight bias here. We know that Harry has partial transfiguration and we know that it turns out poorly for LV. LV himself did not know these things. To the best of his knowledge (which he has good reason to believe is considerable and maybe exhaustive) there is no magic Harry can cast wordlessly with his wand down.

For LV to enact the additional precautions above, magic would be needed. He can't use magic on Harry, so taking them means reducing the size of the death eater guard by 1 or more during the time needed to take those precautions. If you don't know that Harry can do previously unknown to the world wandless magic, than that might actualy not seem like a good trade off.

Additionally, regardless of if trading 1 guard for additional precautions is actualy a good security trade, it is totaly in character that the kind of mind that created horcrux number 107 after allready having over a hundred redundant horcruxes would think the additional redundancy of guard 36 over guard 35 to be valuable.

6Velorien6yI take your general point, but part of Voldemort's character as we have seen it is that he is Crazy Prepared, building in failsafes and backup options and safety margins well beyond the reasonable minimum. He is not merely capable of dealing with whatever challenges the narrative throws at him; he is comfortable, even leisurely, in the manner in which he deals with them. I doubt the cost of temporarily reducing the Death Eater guard from 36 to 35 is greater than the benefit of a given precaution. I don't understand this sentence. Would you mind rephrasing?
1William_Quixote6yYou're right about the last sentence. Perils of typing on a cell phone. I've edited it to make sense.
4Velorien6yFair enough. In regard to that, I would also observe that Voldemort (likely correctly) thinks his Death Eaters are idiots, which mitigates their perceived value to him versus precautions he personally would think up.
3[anonymous]6yBut Voldemort does know that Harry can cast one particular type of wordless, wandless magic -- he knows it because he taught him. Harry can end transfigurations. And he still has his glasses. Can Voldemort sense transfigurations that Harry is maintaining? If not, Harry could have a piece of Scotch tape stuck someplace it wouldn't be noticed, or a booger hidden up his nose, or a capsule up his butt like a drug smuggler, or a tooth, or a fingernail, or a toenail, or... If Voldemort can't sense Harry's transfigurations, he should be operating under the assumption that Harry has a capsule up his butt that he can excrete and untransfigure into a deus ex machina. He doesn't need his hands to end a transfiguration, and he doesn't need his hands to poop. (If you prefer it to be a tooth, say it's a tooth. That's what Voldemort did.) Of course, Voldemort doesn't seem to be the sort of person who would do that. He goes through the motions of being careful, but constant vigilance is not one of his strong points. And that's not, narratively speaking, a character flaw: if you think everyone else is a stupid NPC, you're not going to see a point in paranoia. He should've kicked himself in the face as soon as he taught Harry how to do that. But he's not the sort of person who would. Also, Harry should start carrying some transfigured teeth. A gun, a knife, and a broomstick, maybe? But I think I'm not being paranoid enough.
0TobyBartels6yOnly 3 transfigured teeth? Not paranoid enough! He's got room in his mouth for 28 items. (Or 32 if he has a big mouth.)
9Astazha6yI'm with everyone else on the wand thing. It would have been simple enough to have him drop it. One narrative explanation for getting the wand back into Harry's hand would have been V asking for a demonstration of PT after Harry told him of it. Another would be to throw away the simplest timeline thing and let time-turned Harry come to the rescue with that solution, wand, cloak, etc. in hand. Though I don't know why V left him an hour on the time-turner either. But: My real confusion starts way before all of this. You have the idiot-child of prophesied destruction, and what you do not do is back him into a corner where he may decide to do something desperate. Making Harry feel threatened was a big risk to take with that prophecy. V transforms into a super scary villain, putting Harry under massive duress, the exact kind of thing that would possibly cause him to destroy the world through time paradox or some other unknown power. It would have made more sense to bind him with an unbreakable vow long before then, to maintain the pretense of friendship throughout. So he guessed you're Voldemort, fine. Come clean, acknowledge what your plan to rule Britain was, and that you have been planning to place Harry as the ruler this time. Have that discussion. Come clean about the existence of a prophecy. Tell him you intend to resurrect Hermione. That you need to know what secret power he has so you can help him avoid the inadvertent destruction of the entire universe. Remind him of the centaur prophecy. Get him on your side that he is a serious risk to everyone. Brief the Death Eaters ahead of time, have a few that Harry doesn't know present out of uniform for a fake ritual of divination that supposedly requires him to be completely nude and holding no objects. At the agreed upon time in the ritual they all just AK him and Harry dies with his eyes wide going "Wait, WHAT?" and thinking you were his friend until the last. V broadcasts his betrayal so far in advance, and that
6Velorien6yDefinitely worth saying. I know I'm being very critical in this thread, but that's largely because I'm so emotionally invested in this story, which in turn is because it's an extraordinarily good story.
1Astazha6yI missed when writing this that there was the curse preventing V from killing H. But he still could have just let the centaur kill him. If the curse also stopped him from allowing the death of H then he still could have tried to get the Unbreakable Vow from Harry before making shit hit the fan.
5ChristianKl6yHe made a point to have Hermione alive in case Harry get out of the situation. It's no mistake that he doesn't.
2Eliezer Yudkowsky6yHmm... the blinding one is potentially interesting, if Harry partially-Transfigures himself eyeballs using the fact that his hand is touching the wand, and uses the Stone to make them permanent later... but he'd have to avoid Voldemort noticing that his eyes were back.
2Gurkenglas6ySo he regains his eyesight and then notices that there's a black-painted bubble-head charm on him, just in case. x) Voldie really should have gotten Moody as an advisor.
1dxu6yI feel I should reiterate that I agree with you. I'm not seeing an in-universe reason for Voldemort's behavior in these two chapters either, except for maybe "He was overconfident and didn't see the need to take such excessive precautions", which isn't all that narratively satisfying, though it is somewhat realistic. (The planning fallacy is a thing, after all, and even Tom Riddle Jr. Sr. isn't immune.)
0ChristianKl6yI don't think there a good reason for Voldemort to think that giving Harry another minute with his wand adds much on top of what Harry could already do before.
1Velorien6yLook at it from another perspective: Voldemort's actions are based on the belief that Harry has powerful secrets unknown to him. One or more of those secrets may well lead to the end of the world if Harry lives. Given that Voldemort is acknowledging his ignorance of Harry's full capabilities, is there any possible excuse for not trying to limit those capabilities as much as possible?
0kilobug6yHalf of those would either have prevented Harry for reveling his secrets to LV (paralyze, Imperius) or not changed anything in that case (bind with a rope, remove glasses, horcrux, hostages). Some are doubtful : confudus I'm not sure it would have worked since Harry is an Occlumens, illusions to hide a few Death Eaters, I'm not sure the remaining hidden Death Eaters would have done anything when seeing all Death Eaters dropping dead and LV collapsing. Death Eaters aren't especially loyal nor courageous, they obey by fear, and a 11 years old boy able to kill a dozen without moving (and who is known to scare dementors, and ...) is as scary as Voldemort. Now, sure, it's always possible to imagine in hindsight ways Voldemort could have used to save the day for himself. As it is for Dumbledore before, and for Harry earlier (see the lack of recognition code, ...). But if you nitpick that way, is there any fiction that is satisfying for you ? People do mistakes, even very smart people. The only real mistake Voldemort did was the wand thing, the rest is pretty much nitpicking. And one mistake, which with Voldemort knowledge was very low-risk, can happen without hurting too much the suspension of disbelief.
7Velorien6yIt doesn't matter so much that Voldemort didn't see the exact means of his downfall coming. What bothers me most is that he was sloppy. The point of my post is that I am much less intelligent than Voldemort, and vastly less experienced in cunning and subterfuge, yet I was able to think of a dozen relatively practical means of reducing risk from Harry in 20 minutes. How many would Voldemort have thought of and implemented if he'd tried? Maybe they wouldn't have worked against the actual solution Harry chose. That only makes the story better. It means Harry successfully defeats the Voldemort we know and love, Voldemort at the top of his game, not a cut-down Voldemort shacked by a sudden Idiot Ball. A satisfying way to defeat Voldemort would take advantage of his genuine weaknesses - his despair in humanity, his loneliness, his arrogance, his inability to comprehend genuine compassion, his need for a worthy foe. But until the latest chapters, he had not been shown to have the weaknesses of carelessness, poor planning, or leaving a dangerous enemy armed when they are in his power.
3hairyfigment6yWhy assume you're "much less intelligent than Voldemort," in addition to the gap in experience? As others have noted, he makes mistakes all the time. (I was surprised by the news that he actually died and was actually trapped for years, but not by him leaving Harry's wand alone given this previous information.) We know that V had vast experience with magic and secret information about the same, which could support your view but could also be a disadvantage when it came to partial transfiguration. Note that the mistake he knew about with the Horcrux network (and would perhaps have updated on) partly consisted of thinking he could overcome a long-established magical limitation without testing it. Maybe the actual complaint should be that Harry's use of partial transfiguration shouldn't have worked without more testing - though here we know that he based it on vast civilizational knowledge which V had only begun to assimilate.
3Vaniver6ySo, up until the prophecy, Voldemort can coexist with Harry. (The reverse may not be true.) So why did Eliezer add the prophecy to the mix? Was it just to set up the eventual duel between H and V? It seems to me that that's the place to do an Author's Saving Throw, if there is one; if people reason about V as an optimization process rather than a character, they will never be satisfied by V losing a duel because V is defined by his duel-winning property. So the only winning move is not to play, but there are satisfying ways for that to happen. (In fact, I think I might write that up in long form.)
1hairyfigment6yHarry James Potter-Evans-Verres only exists because of the prophecy!
0Vaniver6yI am referring to the prophecy that Trelawney gives in chapter 21 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/21], that is original to Eliezer, not the prophecy that Snape hears and leaks to Voldemort that was written by Rowling.
1hairyfigment6yOh yes, that does seem like the pivotal moment in retrospect. It also seems central to the story. And it extends the Chosen One theme in canon, taking it up to Aleph-Null.
[-][anonymous]6y 21

I'm so disappointed that the Partial Transfiguration faction turned out to be correct.

Yeah, this is one of those solutions that, had I been writing, I would have ruled as not actually workable. Takes too long, Voldemort or a Death Eater sees the threads and breaks them on general principles, nanotubes don't actually have enough tensile strength to reasonably slice up everybody at once consistently, and so forth. I pretty much filed any tactical violence plan under "not practical".

Still, not my story. It's not out of keeping with the rest of the stuff in HPMOR.

High odds that Voldemort escaped. He's been extraordinarily hammy this whole time, and he called all the Death Eaters together, killed or crippled a few, and then explained his evil scheme to the hero before giving him a countdown to his inevitable death, while leaving him armed. It seems very plausible that Tom Riddle was tired of Lord Voldemort, and decided to retire him via dramatic massacre. Why make his new body a snaky freak-show, after all?

On the pedantic nitpicker trivia side of things, you don't have a tank of "oxyacetelene". An oxy-acetylene rig uses a tank of oxygen, and a tank of acetylene. But Harry is probably not a welder, and neither are the Weasely twins, so nobody involved was equipped to notice the problem.

8Transfuturist6yThe volume of the transfiguration makes it negligibly quick; nanotubes have the highest tensile strength of any material and they were not lone tubes, but braided; I'm fairly sure spotting a braided nanowire in the dark is nearly impossible; and the tension transfiguration is what made the slicing consistent. How exactly is it not practical?
3DanielLC6yThat's why you have multiple tactical violence plans running at the same time. Mine had neurotoxin and jets of fluorine. Also, Harry could transfigure a flashbang if he gets noticed, and he reinforces his body with carbon nanotubes for in case he gets shot.
2Subbak6yWe know for a fact that the Hogwarts wards do not raise an alarm when they should, because they did not detect Draco being under a Blood-Cooling Charm. And we also know that Voldie had a better idea regarding those wards (whether he actually had said wards in place around Draco is debatable, but still, he had the idea). So I think it's extremely probable that the wards he has to detect his own death are more efficient than the Hogwarts wards, and he's currently riding Bella's body and kicking himself for once more not having just used Avada Kedavra.
5Phigment6yOr he and Bella are kicking back on a beach in the Caribbean, drinking alcohol from coconuts and murdering anyone who plays loud music nearby or fails to clean up after their dogs. Rematch in twenty years.
0MathMage6yThe Blood-Cooling Charm was invented for the story specifically to offer a means of murder that didn't set off the wards until the point of death; furthermore, if a professor (Quirrell) cast it, the wards wouldn't trigger anyway.
4Subbak6yWell, yes, but it had to be believable that Hermione had cast it, therefore we can assume that it would not have triggered the wards even if Quirrel had not cast it.

Me too. I didn't say this a couple of days ago, owing to a lack of confidence that I now see to have been misguided; but while the nanowire PT solution is reasonable and effective and exactly the sort of thing that a sci-fi fan who fancies themselves clever would come up with, it's narratively shallow. And I can't see messily killing thirty-six people as in character for Harry at this moment, however much noise has been made about killing intent. Coming up with creative ways to kill people is one thing; actually going through with it in anger, or even thinking of it when faced with real hostility, is quite another.

(I'm also not totally sure it would work, but that depends on messy materials-science math that I can't be bothered with right now.)

Lest I be accused of being overly negative, though, the Obliviation bit does have a certain elegant symmetry to it.

2buybuydandavis6yConvenient, is it not, that Harry had the apparent necessity of killing all the Death Eaters? Good guys only kill when they have to - but somehow, after the heros have nobly declined to kill the bad guys when they aren't forced to, the cops always manage to get their guns stolen by the criminal, and the good guys get to take them down in self defense anyway.
2gattsuru6yMoR!Harry's opposition to killing has always been more of a philosophical objection than an instinctual one, foreshadowed heavily back in chapters 7, 10, and 16. Given the effects of Voldemort's alterations to his brain during youth, depending on your idea of identity this not the typical situation of confronting the psychological cost of taking life. Ironically, non-lethal transfiguration was probably available, even if Harry wouldn't or couldn't think of it -- there's no restriction to, say, converting people's blood into propofol or methohexital, for example. That'd be unhealthy even beyond the normal health risks of human transfiguration, but in exchange for its risk of breathing issues and transmutation-related blood-clot-in-brain effects, comes with the benefit of exceptionally fast activity, and the volume required is well within the constraints of the problem. While the Deatheaters are more complicated a problem despite Voldemort calling them useless, there are a handful of other possible solutions that would be less likely immediately lethal. The only person Harry /had/ to maim was Voldemort, and that's because direct transfiguration would have alerted him. Given that Harry almost certainly killed Sirius, and probably killed Lucius, and we have a number of chapters left, this may well end up being a narrative complication and a flaw, even if an understandable one.
1buybuydandavis6yFree transfiguration requires wand contact with the object, right? Seems a little arbitrary at the quantum level, but I think that prevents Harry from just transfiguring someone's blood from afar.
2gattsuru6yIt's implied that more experienced wizards and witches can freely transfigure objects at a range, but Harry can't do that. However, even without Partial Transfiguration, objects that have been joined together can be transmuted as a whole (see chapter 28 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/28, ctrl+f for], with a wand touching one part of an object and converting parts into different components. We've also seen transfiguration operate differently on different components of a system. Once Harry has stuck spider-silk between his wand and a Death Eater, he can convert components of the Death Eater as easily as if he were standing next to them. Harry's not shown any interest in this sort of biochemistry (the closest we've seen is a reference to "knockout gas", which means he knows less than nothing), and while propofol was well-known in 1992, it's not referenced in the sort of literature he's likely to read, he has been trained not to consider transmuting humans, his character isn't really aligned with less-lethal conversions, and there is a very high complexity penalty to this plan. There are also some possible volumetric issues. We hadn't gotten an actual transfiguration rate since chapter 23, where he could only do five cubic centimeters per minute, while it would take about ~15 cubic centimeters of propofol to rapidly sedate this number of Death Eaters. The post-exam chapter gave an update of cubic millimeter "as fast as he can concentrate his will and magic" and "in a fraction of a second", which is imprecise enough to be useless. He was able to transfigure a unicorn in about an hour and a twelve-year-old's corpse fast enough to avoid notice, recently, and presuming unicorns are similar in volume to even a small horse he'd need to be moving much faster than 15 cubic centimeters a minute (900 cubic centimeters is less than a liter, a very small shetland pony would operate somewhere in the area of 180-200 liters, so... not sure folk did the math on that one). But it's inter
1TobyBartels6yNow, why didn't you suggest this during the exam!?
9Jost6ySame here. On the other hand, the description in chapter 114 read a lot nicer than all the suggestions that I read in the discussion thread on chapter 113. I guess there’s a difference between the bare-bones suggestion (which is clever, but unsatisfying) and the fully fleshed out story (which I found satisfying enough) and I did not think of this in my earlier comments. My apologies to everyone who got a doubtful response from me!
8Gondolinian6yThank Merlin they didn't listen to us and continued submitting PT solutions. :)
3Normal_Anomaly6yShotgun plotting: sometimes one hit is all you need.
1cousin_it6yYeah. I really hoped Eliezer would go for a pure verbal solution. Something like what I proposed [http://www.reddit.com/r/HPMOR/comments/2xk3gq/ch_113_my_solution_using_speech_only/] , but smarter.
1Alsadius6yAs opposed to? (I wasn't keeping close track of the theories as we went forward).
6Gondolinian6yThose who tried to honestly persuade or verbally trick Voldemort into letting Harry out of the box.
1skeptical_lurker6yBut, what would "letting Harry out of the box." mean? Letting him live, while Voldiemort still takes over the world?
1Gondolinian6yWell, that's not really a worse situation than we've had all through chapters 105-112, and still leaves Harry in a position to take any opportunities to stop Voldemort that appear. Being dead while Voldemort takes over the world, however, would have been quite a lot worse.
1skeptical_lurker6yWell, it depends how long EY wanted the story to go on for. With another four chapters to wrap everything up, there's not enough time for Voldemort keeping Harry alive while he takes over the world, before the tables turn again, Harry is sprung from a dungeon and saves the day.
-1Alsadius6yDespite the fact that the rules of the exam specifically prohibited such?
9Gondolinian6yThey prohibited saying something too abstract, like "Harry comes up with a way to persuade Voldemort to let him out of the box." They did not prohibit actually figuring out a way to persuade Voldemort. By extension, it would also not be allowed to say "Harry comes up with a way to kill all the Death Eaters with magic." It just had to be specific enough.

Voldemort doesn't want the world destroyed, and he just made Harry into a world-destruction-preventer. Pointing this out — and pointing out that Harry is now a better world-destruction-preventer than Voldemort could become — doesn't involve changing Voldemort's utility function.

(Voldemort can't swear an Unbreakable Vow akin to Harry's because nobody has trust in him that could be sacrificed to power it.)

7DanielLC6yHe didn't make Harry into a world-destruction-preventer. He only made Harry swear not to actively destroy the world. Also, while Merlin might think that with all the effort Voldemort went through to prevent Harry from destroying the world it would be easier to destroy the world with a piece of cheese, I wouldn't find that so comforting.
7MathMage6yHe doesn't have to be persuaded to be good, he just has to be persuaded to let Harry out of the box. If he lets Harry out of the box for non-good reasons, that still counts.
5Ander6yThe rules stated that we couldn't change Voldemort's utility function or turn him good, but his utility function already placed an extremely high value on not having the world destroyed, or losing his immortality. It was quite possible that the solution would have been to convince him that killing Harry would end the world, or that he required Harry in the future in order to save it. The Vow and the parseltongue both were valuable tools in convincing Voldemort of this.
3MarkusRamikin6yFilibuster. /abg frevbhf
1hairyfigment6yI'm surprised the Vow allowed Harry to do anything except talk to Hermione. I did worry that V would think of Harry triggering resonance by touching her. But I also thought the doom-sense would allow V to detect any spell whatsoever that Harry used.

Why are Hermione's robes red? Does Voldie want her to be Gryffindor?

0Ben Pace6yI suppose she's the courageous hero.

I feel like the problem turned out to be unnecessarily easier than it had to, that too much of the credit is due to luck, and some things could've been done better (Death Eaters could be saved). It's somewhat of a theme with all these spells and rituals being performed in unique situations and working on the first try, with little precaution taken to test them or theoretical grounds to expect reliability. For example, Hermione still wasn't tested. It's the first resurrection ever performed, at least by the people present. It involved further effects that might've never been combined in this way before. The person who knows the details is now defunct. He didn't plan to test it either, for the primary use case intended. Hermione's brain is warm and might be losing information or she might get terminally sick soon, with brain damage. We just assume everything worked.

One problem is that Harry didn't know that he can remain conscious after directly casting a spell at Voldemort, so it should've been planned around, with the less direct transfiguration being plan A for rendering Voldemort unconscious. We now know that this might've failed (more likely than before Ch. 114), and there had t... (read more)

0BrindIf6yGood points here. About the Time Turner, I thought there were wards against it. The stunning hex was a bet, but jumping on the Time Turner could have gone even wronger.
8Velorien6yTo clarify, Harry at one point was given a list of wards an inner-circle Death Eater would be expected to have prepared, which include anti-time-turning. We don't see Voldemort or anyone else cast such wards, so it's down to whether we think Voldemort has permanent versions around his sanctum.

My criteria for whether a character acts smart or stupid is whether I can see a glaring issue immediately. Like many others, I had asked right after ch.113 "why does Harry still have his wand and his glasses"? And, sure enough. Whatever trope describes the villain suddenly going into the Stupid and Careless mode at a critical time, it sure applies here. LV probably broke a few rules from the Evil Overlord's list, too.

5kilobug6yDumbledore appeared much more wielding the "idiot ball" than Voldemort in this final arc. Voldemort initially needed Harry to have his wand for the Unbreakable Vow. Yes, it was a mistake to not remove the wand from him afterward. He couldn't imagine Harry would be a threat with a wand without being allowed to speak or move it, partial transfiguration of carbon nanotubes or antimatter from the wand itself just was unimaginable to him, so it's an understandable mistake, but it does strike as odd when compared to all the precaution he's taking in "paranoia mode".
3TobyBartels6yThe trope that describes a character (villain or otherwise) suddenly going stupid and careless is Holding the Idiot Ball. Which EY promised that nobody would ever do.
8shminux6yStill hoping for a plot twist which somehow justifies this apparent Villain Ball.

Wow, I was expecting more of a pure Talking His Way Out of the Box solution, instead of a partial transfiguration solution. I'm curious as to whether or not this is the bad ending. I do think Voldemort was a bit stupid to not just kill Harry instantly instead of quizzing him for the Powers He Knows Not. As he said himself, given an eternity of immortality it is likely he would stumble across everything Harry has read, thought, and figured out.

Next chapter should be up any minute now...

Edit: It's up.

5CellBioGuy6yEven if this was the good ending I want to see the bad ending.
3Bound_up6yI would pay for Eliezer to write about the first Tom Riddle's experience under the Sorting Hat, before he had given up on being good, convincing the hat that he wouldn't go bad, etc.
1MarkusRamikin6y^ Funnily enough, I was posting that when I saw your post.

A lot of people think that Voldemort was going too easy on Harry, making this a "Coil vs. Taylor in the burning building" violation of suspension-of-disbelief for some of them. I am considering rewriting 113 with the following changes:

  • Most Death Eaters are watching the surrounding area, not Harry; Voldemort's primary hypothesis for how Time might thwart him involves outside interference.
  • Voldemort tells Harry to point his wand outward and downward at the ground, then has a Death Eater paralyze Harry (except heart/lungs/mouth/eyes) in that position before the unbreakable Vow. This would also require a retroedit to 15 or 28 to make it clear that Transfiguration does not require an exact finger position on the wand.


I would add a reason for Harry to have the wand.

Like, instead of, "You will not raise your wand", "You will only raise your wand when and how I permit it. Do not demonstrate a spell unless ordered."

That would imply that Voldemort was open to the possibility that Harry might demonstrate something, which would require arming him.

7dxu6yThis was actually my original assumption as to why Voldemort let Harry keep his wand, and I was surprised it didn't come into play. Adding a line to the effect of "demonstrate some spell" would solve pretty much every problem raised by the readers, and as such, this is by far my favorite solution proposed so far. Upvoted enthusiastically.
5Duncan6yYour phrasing makes it also look like a plausible mistake for someone in a new situation with little time to consider things.
3Luke_A_Somers6yI'm not sure what you mean here.
0Duncan6yEdited phrasing to make it more clear....
2Luke_A_Somers6yI was aiming for it to be a mistake that someone could make even in a relatively familiar situation with ample time to consider.
4Raemon6yThis is by far my favorite change that seems probably-acceptable-to-eliezer. I'd have preferred if the winning stroke included (at least in the "talking to buy time" section) something that addressed learning to lose, or keeping secrets, or their different mental-frameworks that enable different powers. But I assume Eliezer's less willing to retcon that sort of thing.

The big problem is that he left Harry his wand. If he uses more precautions against Harry, but still keeps leaving Harry his wand, then that makes the fact that he left Harry his wand less realistic, not more. So I actually think that you should go the other way with it - have him be less paranoid about Harry. Because otherwise you're making the inconsistency even worse. He's being cautious and paranoid enough to strip Harry's clothes from him, but leaves the wand in Harry's hand for one moment longer than he has to? It makes more sense if he has the Death Eaters throw a bunch of Finites at him to check for residual traps left by Dumbledore, and for that to be where he sees most of the threat coming from.

2b_sen6yThis. Voldemort's not only being paranoid enough to strip Harry's clothes from him, he's being careful and cautious enough to remove an object Harry Transfigured without letting their magics interact. That kind of attitude is jarringly inconsistent with leaving Harry his wand for no apparent reason. Luke_A_Somers already suggested [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/lt7/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/c346] adding a reason for Harry to have his wand. I think that adding such a reason combined with changes that increase our estimate of Voldemort's estimate of P(Time will try to thwart Voldemort's attempt to avert the prophecy through something other than Harry | Time will try to thwart Voldemort's attempt to avert the prophecy) would make things seem much more consistent; leaving Harry his clothes and having some (not necessarily most) of the Death Eaters looking outwards would both help with the latter. The reason I suggest increasing readers' estimates of Voldemort's estimate of P(Time will try to thwart Voldemort's attempt to avert the prophecy through something other than Harry | Time will try to thwart Voldemort's attempt to avert the prophecy) rather than just making Voldemort less paranoid overall in this situation is to avoid worsening the Villain Ball complaints; shifting his paranoia partly elsewhere allows him to be the sharp antagonist we're expecting while suggesting that he's confident the precautions he takes are sufficient to neutralize Harry as a threat (which allows Harry to win). That confidence isn't out of place for his character - even though he's read Muggle books, it's entirely plausible that he hasn't integrated that knowledge well enough to start questioning what he knows as the limits of magic (and thereby come to think of partial Transfiguration, or more generally realize that Harry might question those limits and succeed in discovering something he can wordlessly cast without pointing his wand). The particular changes I

Having the Death Eaters look around makes sense, but the paralysis seems contrived to me. It's a very specific level of intelligence between what he have now and just having Mr. Grim cast Expelliarmus. I think it is more realistic for Voldemort to have dismissed the threat than for him to have considered it and decided that paralyzing Harry was the best solution.

Don't be too hasty, whatever you end up deciding! It's only been a day. A lot of people put a lot of thought into solving this problem, and it makes sense that their attitudes about whether the problem was too easy, or too hard, or whether they solved guessed the author's solution, or whether it's unrealistic, would be emotionally enhanced by the effort they spent.

Take a week, take a month, talk to people you trust.

As AlexanderWales says, the biggest flaw is the wand. If you add a line about harry being left holding his wand so that Voldemort can impose further unbreakable vows if he sees fit, or he has it left in case he needs to demonstrate any secret knowledge (along the lines of Patronus 2.0), Voldemort goes from holding the Idiot Ball to just making a mistake. He's trading off Harry possibly doing something impossible with his wand vs a far likelier benefit.

Long time lurker, signing up just to be able to vote for the harder version. Turns out I start out with 0 karma and am not allowed to vote. Oh well.

4Vaniver6yNow you have one karma. Give it another try?
1benthor6yWorked, thanks!
1c0rw1n6yNew users need 2 points to vote.
0TobyBartels6yYou can also post in the welcome thread [http://lesswrong.com/lw/le5/welcome_to_less_wrong_7th_thread_december_2014/], which usually generates at least half a dozen points of starting karma.
9tim6yThe biggest problem for me is that when I imagine myself reading these events and Voldemort going, "A nice try but I can sense whatever transfiguration trick it is that you're using. Thank you, that will take me some time to perfect in my eternity," I don't feel surprised. Throwing additional stipulations and conditions into the situation doesn't change the fact that the way in which Voldemort loses is not convincing. It doesn't feel like Harry earned the win because I can just as easily imagine Voldemort laughing at Harry's childish tricks and killing him. For the finale to truly be satisfying, there has to be a specific, pre-established reason why Voldemort was unable to defend against Harry's tactics and, at least in my mind, this was not the case. Simply being unaware of partial transfiguration doesn't cut it. This is a person who casts nearly thirty charms to discuss sensitive information in Mary's room and recognizes the value of ambush and surprise attacks. Yet in his final moment of securing his eternity is unable to sense transfigured material winding its way around himself and his followers. Material transfigured by person he has a known magical resonance with. It simply does not feel reasonable for Voldemort to lose like this, no matter how many addendums are added to justify his behavior in these final chapters.

I do remark that Dumbledore was unable to detect Harry doing an ongoing Transfiguration while he looked into Harry's prison cell in Azkaban.

3tim6yI admit I did forget about that specific incident. However, Dumbledore going cell to cell in Azkaban and Lord Voldemort attempting to subvert a prophecy predicting the end of the world in a fixed, controlled location seem like two very different things from a reader perspective. It is also implied that Dumbledore did sense Harry's magic - at least on some level. But he dismisses this because he is looking for a wizard strong enough to break into Azkaban and free Bellatrix Black. Lord Voldemort on the other hand, should be immediately and unconditionally suspicious of any and all magic he senses from Harry Potter.
5TobyBartels6yThat's Dumbledore reading Harry's mana level, not sensing whether Harry is casting spells.
0hairyfigment6yAn excellent point. I was going to say that Dumbledore was also unable to detect Harry's horror at Hermione's injuries "through the link that existed between the two of them, the resonance in their magic," nor did he feel "the boy exterminate his enemy in seconds." But on inspection this doesn't actually say he could feel the spells Harry was using. And Harry's scar does not appear to react to e.g the repair of Hermione's body or the summons for the Death Eaters. The doom-sense could have a lot to do with both the strength of the magic and the degree to which it inherently clashes with the senser's inclinations or goals.
0Sheaman37736yTo me, it seemed that it scaled with their current mindsets and actions, with stronger being the more they contrasted. Consider how strongly it was felt when Harry's "anti-death-ness" was particularly strong (e.g. after Harry killed his first Dementor) or when Voldemort's desecration of death was higher than normal (e.g. when he makes Inferi). Inversely, look at weak the feeling is when their current mindsets are not so opposed (e.g. when Quirrell was in zombie-mode in ch 49, because he practically lacked a mind at those times). Though, the zombie-mode in ch 26 was still fairly strong, which could imply that zombie-mode isn't as big of a determinant as I initially suspected. It might well be another piece of evidence towards the importance mindset, however, as that ride ends with Quirrell leaving to "set something into motion," which is certainly ominous coming from Lord Voldemort and may well have been something Harry was inherently set against. I don't remember if we found/figured out what he was doing there. Taking this into account, the lack of doom-sense during the transfiguration would simply be there not being much of a mindset left. Though I fear I may have strayed from the original thrust of your post.
8ITakeBets6yI think the only thing that would satisfy me is a legitimate excuse for Voldemort to leave Harry armed. Anything short of that, you may as well leave it as-is for historical reasons.
8Vaniver6yI'm going to repost something I wrote in another bit of the discussion: V has established that he is willing to try to intervene at every possible point when it comes to breaking the prophecy. So he would paralyze Harry, and take Harry's wand from him, and destroy Harry's wand. Especially in the context of V asking Harry to share secrets V doesn't have. It seems to me the simplest place to intervene is the characterization of V. Have Harry, during one of his bleak "how the heck am I going to defeat V" moments (or possibly at the start of 114), remember what gattsuru talks about here [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/lt7/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/c31d] . V is sharp but limited; Harry can use those limits against him. Then Harry surprising V makes more sense, and every idea Harry uses could explicitly be linked to one of V's weaknesses. (For example, Stuporfy works because V disdains dueling.) Even then, I do not think it will work fully, and some readers will only be satisfied by a 'mutual victory' ending. I have in mind an ending that would work for that that I'll write up when I have time for fiction (tonight?), but it requires more changes earlier and may not match at all your goals for the fic. (Incidentally, if I were in V's position and knew about Time-Turners, those could be used to add a further layer of security. I would precommit to Time-Turning back an hour and asking Harry to reveal his secrets in the presence of my original version iff Harry in fact revealed his secrets to the future copy of me that appeared and then died quietly; otherwise I would kill him immediately. This might violate the "use Time-Turners for arbitrary computation" rule, but I don't think so; it seems closer to asking Flitwick to rescue past-you, or the original Time-Turner prank, or a minor modification of it could move it into that class.)
0Vaniver6yI realized this morning that I should be clearer: obviously, V knows that Time-Turners exist. But does he know enough about their function to know exactly how the information-backpropagation prevention works, and which loops you can reliably create, and which ones you can't? That seems like the sort of thing that would require extensive experimentation that he may or may not have done.
0buybuydandavis6yAnd intervening with the prophecy is about removing Harry as a threat. He only let Harry speak because he wanted his secrets. Got greedy and overconfident. Fine. But I see no reason Harry needs to have his wand to have that chat. Paralyzing him would be another precaution, but that would be secondary to taking his wand - without his wand, he's a very smart little boy. If an edit could be found to justify letting Harry keep his wand, I think that would do it for me. Hmmmm. On EY's new scenario, would magical paralysis automatically wear off if the person who cast the spell dies? Does Voldemort need his wand to leave his body? Seems a pretty hard row to hoe for even just a paralyzed Harry, to keep Voldemort from leaving his body or otherwise escaping.
7dxu6yWhat I'm uncertain about is what was going through Voldemort's mind at the time. I have no idea what he was thinking when he let Harry keep his wand, and so for me, that part kind of fell flat, especially when it turned out there was no explanation other than, "He was overconfident"... which sounds like an explanation, but isn't one, not really. It's just like saying "magic" or "phlogiston". How does the mokeskin pouch work? "Magic!" What causes fire? "Phlogiston!" Why did Voldemort let Harry keep his wand? "Overconfidence!" For me, that just isn't specific enough of an explanation to actually allow me to make predictions. My model of Voldemort can't receive "overconfidence" as an argument and spit out the action "let Harry keep his wand"; the argument isn't well-specified enough. How was he overconfident? What was his exact train of thought? As Harry put it in 108: Since the explanation "overconfidence" didn't make me feel like I would have predicted Voldemort's actions in advance, it remained an improbability. I'm not suggesting for you to add a scene from Voldemort's point of view into Chapter 113 or something--that would be a jarring shift in perspective, IMO. (Although it would be nice if you could somehow give a hint at Voldemort's motives--I particularly liked Luke_A_Somers' suggestion [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lt7/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/c346].) That being said, I am curious: what was your model of Voldemort thinking when you had him let Harry keep his wand? If not too inconvenient, could you elaborate on what you were modeling Voldemort's thoughts as?
6Duncan6yIf you want to make the scenario more realistic then put more time pressure on Voldemort or put him under more cognitive stress some other way. The hardest part for Voldemort is solving this problem in a short time span and NOT coming up with a solution that foils Harry. The reason experienced soldiers/gamers with little to no intelligence still win against highly intelligent combatants with no experience is that TIME matters when you're limited to a single human's processing power. In virtually every combat situation one is forced to make decisions faster than one can search the solution space. Only experience compensates for this deficit to any measurable degree. In this situation there are several aspects that Voldemort does not have experience with. If he must spends his cognitive resources considering these aspects and cannot draw from experience it makes mistakes much more likely.
5Tenoke6yI'd like that slightly more, but such minor changes barely address the issue. Also, I am already suspecting that the way in which Harry will unparalyze himself after his improbable PT rampage is just going to involve some other unlikely feet.
2MarkusRamikin6yI voted for the change, but I don't feel these are crucial changes... I think a clearer problem is that it is not obvious, until Harry actually does it, that he could cast Transfiguration on his own wand. Or cast spells on his wand in general, it's a bit like a gun shooting at itself. I say more on this and propose an easy solution here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lt7/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/c2xe]. Chances are you've seen it and didn't agree, but saying just in case.
2[anonymous]6yI would've had him transfigure a sliver of one of his fingernails, unless it has to be touching the tip of the wand.
2MarkusRamikin6yYeah, that would work too, as long as it had been established earlier in the story that it doesn't have to be the tip.
2polymathwannabe6yPlease don't change it. It's more than awesome enough as it is. Even if I did expect partial transfiguration to have some role, using the wand itself as raw material was tremendously surprising. For many people it will look too easy, but only with the benefit of hindsight. Edited to add: some previous chapter should be modified to establish that transfiguration is indeed wordless. Edited to add: I'm stupid. Chapter 15 says it is.
1Tenoke6yOnly with the benefit of hindsight? I bet 3 people that the solution won't involve PT, 2 of them within hour(s) of chapter 113 coming out, as it was the most obvious (while impausible for some) solution for many people. Specifically transfiguring the tip of wand/leg/earth/air into nanowires was mentioned by so many people within minutes of posting the chapter.. There was no hindsight involved.
5alexanderwales6yThe solution was actually posted to reddit after chapter 112, before there was a final exam at all.
1cousin_it6yFor what it's worth, I felt that Taylor's survival was much more believable than Harry's. Maybe that's because I knew in advance that Taylor's problems would not stop with defeating Coil? :-)
1solipsist6yThe climax and the reader reaction to it have been slightly better than I was expecting. I would certainly not complain about improvements, but there are probably better marginal returns elsewhere.
0ArisKatsaris6yInstead of "having a Death Eater paralyze Harry", I suggest that Voldemort paralyzes Harry himself before the Death Eaters arrive by throwing a trapped Knut at him with Petrificus Totalis set on it to trigger or something. Then Voldemort, just before the Vow, asks one of the Death Eaters to partially remove the paralysis just from Harry's head. This looks all the way simpler. A paralysis is good from Voldemort's perspective, but if it is good to have it would be good to have from the start -- so as to be in better control of the situation rather than depend solely on the abilities of the Death Eaters -- and don't tell me that Voldemort couldn't have found indirect ways to inflict a variety of magical effect on Harry the moment he realized his magic couldn't touch him directly. EDIT TO ADD: Ugh, no, that solution I just suggested (trapped Knut with paralysis spell) has the problem of leaving Harry paralyzed afterwards, while the paralysis spell would be dissolved at the Death Eater's death...
0ChristianKl6yExperimenting with different ways to use magic indirectly carries a risk, that it's not indirect enough for the effect to trigger. Voldemort might not want to take that risk.
0Ben Pace6yJust checking, does the last option mean that the text shouldn't be updated by reddit suggestions? That's what I meant when I clicked it. The two should've been created separately.
0greennou996yMy main problem with this whole thing is that LV doesn't get the death eaters to cast shields, most notably shields against material objects, which we know are a thing from the mirror saga. Obviously the resonance is a concern, hence the death eaters cast the shields, but there is no way that LV doesn't think that Harry is going to try something, he takes practically no precautions at all.

How did Harry move the wires through the air with partial transfiguration alone? He doesn't have bugs to carry it like Skitter does. How does he prevent air currents from messing it up?

9Roxolan6yHarry can control the order of a transfiguration process, as seen in ch.104. Those are not threads floating freely in the air, they're part of a specific wire shape in the process of being transfigured. We also know that you can transfigure against tension.
2MarkusRamikin6yHuh. Good answer. Totally forgot that, and I don't think I'm rare about this. I wonder if there might have been a way to make that more memorable. 'cause at the time it's not really connected to anything, any dialogue or actions, Harry could have just as well been reading about how to clean fish tanks.
0[anonymous]6yA wizard did it. *ducks all the rotten tomatoes*
0[anonymous]6yThank you! That was exactly the thing that I couldn't put my finger on, still bothering me after I articulated my other [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/lt7/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/c2xe] worries.


Plus, carbon nanotubes are black, not silver.


Over the next seconds, those near-invisible threads of reflected moonlight turned black.


Incidentally, did none of the death eaters have shields raised, or did the filaments pass through the shields?

5Sheaman37736yConsidering the only DE to raise shields also tried to kill LV and attempted to enlist the rest of them to join him... The persona of LV might well have considered it a betrayal, to have their shields up around their lord. For why would you need them, if you were not plotting treachery?
3Jost6yWhy raise shields, when they are instructed to hex Harry as soon as he raises his wand? Wordless, quasi-invisible partial transfiguration is a power they know not, so they did not prepare for it.

Raise shields on general principles! There could be Aurors with invisibility cloaks or disillusioned nearby, enemies could suddenly appear by phoenix or some other method, there could be muggleborns with sniper rifles hidden a km away, someone could have travelled back in time to plant a bomb, one of the Death Eaters could be a traitor...

Mad-eye Moody would be disappointed.


5DanielLC6yWhich reminds me of something I noticed. Harry should have flooded the area with neurotoxin on general principles, because there might have been invisible Death Eaters.
0Subbak6yPresumably shields let air through, so they probably also let nanotubes through.
2skeptical_lurker6yWell, I don't know how shields work in this setting, but one possibility is that shields do not let anything magical through, which would stop transfigured materials. Shields do stop bullets, so... is it a matter of speed? Do shields stop fast things like bullets, but let slow things such as knives through? If carbon nanotubes work, then wizards who are not familer with the latest muggle science could still stab each other with very thin (to the point of near invisibility) diamond blades.

The slow nanowire penetrates the shield.

0skeptical_lurker6yI guess this is plausible.
3Oshi6yThat sounds entirely too much like Dune to me. That's enough reason for me to doubt shields work that way.
0skeptical_lurker6yWhy? I wouldn't be surprised by the inclusion of a homage to Dune.

Nit: Harry correctly guessing before this chapter that the resonance affects mainly the caster in proportion to the caster's strength seems overly specific. His experience did indicate that the resonance was a greater threat to V than to himself, so his actions were justified, but his prediction should have been more disjunctive: Either the resonance mainly affects the caster in proportion to the caster's strength, or it affects both parties in proportion to their strength, or it mainly affects V regardless of who casts what due to some asymmetry, or it affects the caster in proportion to the spell's magical strength, or something else.

6Astazha6yAgreed. This result wasn't my first guess about the nature of it. I'd assumed that it probably affected V most strongly regardless.

So, what's the probability that Harry returns to the Quidditch stands, checks his watch, and then snaps his fingers right before the explosion goes off?

Hopefully he doesn't--it'd suggest he was involved in the incident, which he would probably rather avoid--but I don't know if he has the emotional maturity to resist that opportunity.

4[anonymous]6yHe will return to the game, find it still in progress, and say something about people being incredibly... stubborn about winning, because looking onto his watch honestly, this should have ended an hour ago. THEN McGonagall will ask him if he would please snap his fingers.
1Vaniver6yCute, but it falls prey to the Wizengamot Mistake: the point of not leaving clues is not that the median person will understand the clue, but that any person might understand the clue. The benefit of such a move is that Harry gets to feel special; the detriment of such a move is that someone might notice that Harry is special. This is not worth it.
0[anonymous]6yThen he merely has to mis-Time it and have it not have worked:) On the other hand, I think he really has lots of stuff to do this hour, he simply will have no time for jokes.
0Vaniver6yAnd Harry exceeded my fears! Good for him.

So, Harry can only do potentially dangerous research if Hermione approves.

Consulting Hermione doesn't seem wise if she cannot protect her secrets. Does this mean Harry's research is on hold until she learns Occlumency?

This is the real magic, when you see something impossible happening. I had no idea how you can realistically beat immortal and powerful dark wizard.One "Obliviate" and your perspective shifts and that's it. It now looks pretty simple despite being impossible 5 minutes ago.

1Benquo6yWe had a hint:

I wonder if it would be possible to erase most of Voldemort, but keep the Quirrel mask personality through some combination of Memory Charms, Obliviation and Legilimency. He was a pretty cool teacher, after all, when not murdering the students and whatnot. Using the Stone, it would be even possible to give him a permanently-transfugured Quirrel body, so that the students don't get scared of Voldie teaching them...

R.I.P Quirrelmort, we shall miss you...

I feel stupid. Not for the nanowire, as I was among many who suggested something similar.

I feel stupid for not suggesting the "make Voldemort insane" strategy. I thought it will not work because a wizard's mental state is not necessarily connected to his brain. For example, an animagus transformed into a cat can still retain her human mental state with a cat's brain.

But being driven insane because of a curse might be completely different, and could have an effect not only on the physical brain, but on whatever shape or form the mental state of a wizard is implemented in.

1DanielLC6yI feel stupid for rejecting transfiguring Voldemort because it didn't occur to me not to use the Stone.

Quirrel-supporters: don't worry, I'm sure Bellatrix will show up to save the day.

0avichapman6yIf she does, she'll have to do it with only one arm.

I doubt she'll have any problem saving Voldemort single-handedly.

4Jost6yAt least she won’t be unarmed.

Looks like I had the right idea after all. I think strands of strong acid or a highly reactive alkaline metal would have been a safer tactic than the nano-wire garrotes, since Harry wouldn't need to spend the extra action to constrict, but apparently Eliezer had this planned out from chapter one and it was too late to change it (due to the silver line, black robes, etc).

What came after, though? Not quite as convincing for me. I can't believe that Harry was able to transfigure Voldemort despite the resonance cascade. I also am skeptical that Voldemort didn'... (read more)

4Bound_up6yI believe the resonance from transfiguration is shown to be very minor, for whatever reason. When Harry has to transfigure Voldemort himself, not just contact him with transfigured material, it is only mildly uncomfortable. It is not incomprehensible that a much, much lesser contact could escape any notice at all until at very close range.
2hairyfigment6yThe resonance appears much stronger when he Obliviates the Dark Lord Tom than later during the Transfiguration. Of course the former could just be stronger magic, but I assumed the alteration to V had reduced it (and thus he couldn't have started with the Transfiguration in the hope of getting a more experience entity to do the mind-alteration later). This would support the theory that V updated his old Horcruxes somehow, or just didn't connect them to the network. (There could still be variant Tom Riddles coming some years later!)

in the back of his mind he felt some explosions of magic like he'd felt when Hermione died but he ignored them

Maybe some of the Death Eaters will leave ghosts behind, who will tell everyone what really happened.

Without any hesitation despite his wounds the Dark Lord jerked down and right through the air.

Something that could indicate trying to dodge, or consciousness leaving the body. It's not unreasonable for Voldie to think "I've lost here, no matter what I do this body will be unusable in the near future, in case he has a plan to incapacitate me without triggering my Horcrux wards I'd better go someplace else".

All in all I'd assign a high subjective probability to Voldie's spirit being intact. Voldemort is a thorough planner, so total Oblivation is... (read more)

7Jost6yWe don’t know enough details about how the Horcrux Network and the Special Connection between V and H work, but … … this is highly unusual for an obliviation, so I think it is very likely that V has not left his body.
3Benquo6yThose are Tom Riddle's memories.
2Sheaman37736yIt appeared to be clear to me that this was some sort of sign that the Prophesy had been completed. It seemed strange, but that was my reading of the text.
2Vaniver6yThat's the resonance effect from casting a spell on another Tom Riddle, I think. (Was it also there for the transfiguration? Why not?)
2hairyfigment6yWhile it would be amusing if the resonance created fire for Dark Lord Tom and mini-Patroni for Harry, I don't think magic is quite that symbolic.
0TobyBartels6yMagic is extremely symbolic. I don't know if this is what EY intended, but it makes sense to me.
2Izeinwinter6yThat attack wasn't actually magic. Not at the point where he attacked Voldemort. He was literally pulling on a physical thread.
8Transfuturist6yHe was not pulling, he was transfiguring it shorter. And IIRC transfigured materials cause the resonance regardless.
4Astazha6yBut it was transfigured by Harry's magic. There does not appear to have been a resonance from it, though, which surprised me.
0Vaniver6yI mean when he transfigured Voldemort into something to take with him. (That did happen, right? Or did I misinterpret that?)
0TobyBartels6yYes, and the resonance weakened as the transfiguration progressed. Make of that what you will.
6Vaniver6yIt is implied that while Voldemort can stop possessing a victim at will, he cannot stop inhabiting his own body at will. [EDIT]Though Harry internally states the opposite: This is the part I was thinking of:
0Astazha6yVoldemort had the ability fly free from his body. The last sentence you quote is Harry thinking that he mustn't allow that to happen, not that V doesn't have the capability. If V goes free then he must be defeated again; Harry is avoiding that outcome.
0Vaniver6yAt least, Harry thinks that he did. (The last sentence I quoted is the section that I had misinterpreted as evidence that he couldn't, but I wouldn't take Harry's speculations as the most likely possibility instead of a conservative estimate.)
3Astazha6yCh. 107
0Vaniver6yAh, right. Thanks!
0raecai6yLet's suppose for a moment that Voldemort realises in time that he's about to be got rid of in some way he'd not predicted and loses his body before Stuporfy hits him. Are there still any justifiable ways for Harry to win [i.e. incapacitate V at least as much as in 115 by all justifiable means]? He would probably have to get back in time as fast as he can, before he witnesses death and/or torture of his parents/friends (which V is going to start), so he can create a time loop where they are safe. But what to do next? Harry has an hour to protect a lot of people he cares about from a bodyless spirit. It won't do to gather them all in a safe place only to have V enter one of them and kill the others. It's going to be harder to devise a plausible mistake for V because now some of the plot devices planned from the beginning won't help us. ETA: I mean, Harry only needs to hit Voldemort with a spell strong enough to knock V out, but light enough not to knock Harry out and not to exhaust him. And V now knows that and may escape the body even if he can't evade the bolt. Unless there are extra-fast sniper magic wands, there needs to be a trick. As stated in 108, V is now free to select whom to possess from a lot of weak/willing people. I wonder if Hermione can be possessed at this point: is she sufficiently weak? (no idea) does possession mean harm? (probably yes, because the body of Quirrell aged too fast) does V's promise not to hurt Hermione still stand? (maybe yes, but if not, V now has a very young and durable body to live in)

I am starting to think that Lord Voldemort planned to commit suicide by proxy. Being without any personal aims, totally bored, without any happiness, surrounded by idiots, no chance of improvement - yet he cares about the world, at least somewhat, and realized that the original plan of playing chess with Harry would not alleviate his mood anymore anyway. And he has a better, happier and (age adjusted) more intelligent clone running around, so it is not like he will cease to exist altogether.

So he told Harry where to find Memory charms, prepared the plot, g... (read more)

1lerjj6yThis would to some extent letting Harry keep his wand- he wants to have some fun after all, and Harry should be given a very limited chance to win. Not much, maybe strip him naked, surround him by armed killers and point a gun at his head, whilst giving him only a minute to think. But leave him his wand, and do give him the full 60 seconds, don't just kill him if he looks like he's stalling.
1TuviaDulin6yHe could have just Obliviated himself if that's all he wanted.

And now we really know why Harry had to carry around his father's rock. For practice:

And meanwhile, just like magic hadn't defined a Transfigured unicorn as dead for purposes of setting off wards, Voldemort's horcruxes wouldn't define a Transfigured Voldemort as dead and try to bring him back.

That was the hope, anyway.

Harry's scar twinged one last time when the steel ring went on his pinky finger, holding the tiny green emerald in contact with his skin. Then his scar subsided, and did not hurt again.

1Vaniver6yI thought that we knew that like 30 chapters ago?
0fezziwig6yI thought so too, after the troll. I've changed my mind. Or, did you mean that we knew that it was for practice at keeping things transfigured thirty chapters ago? If so, I just missed it.
2Vaniver6yI was thinking of this question in chapter 91 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/91]: There are a scattering of other discussions of the usefulness of practice, and I thought there was a paragraph that explicitly stated the theory that Dumbledore had given him the rock when he knew that McGonagall was right there, so that Harry would come up with the idea of Transfiguring it, and would thus practice, but I'm not finding it easily.

There's a parallel between Dumbledore and Reddit's approach to the Ch. 113 solution: put a plethora of plots into motion, you only need one to work out.

[-][anonymous]6y 6

Why doesn't Harry resurrect the people he just killed, or at least freeze them? They don't have to die.

He's out of mana. Also, staying at the scene would be an enormous risk. Also, being death eaters, they would on average kill more than one person each.

2TobyBartels6yThe last reason isn't good enough to stop him from freezing them until after he can protect their potential victims. (Not that it matters, since the first reason holds.)
5Gondolinian6yWell, as a point of practicality, he's used up all his magic for at least the next hour and only has so many items in his first-aid kit.
3Vaniver6yHe would need to wipe their memories first, one would assume; right now, the only witnesses to the scene remember nothing, and Harry (as an Occlumens) can pretend to not have knowledge of it.

Well done Eliezer!

I have read lots and lots of 'partial transfiguration' solutions over the past few days. I didn't really like them, they seemed artificial, unrealistic.

But somehow when you told the solution, it didn't feel artificial at all. It felt like it made sense. And I really liked the way Harry stalled for time as well. A few very nice tricks there.

I'm not sure why Harry went through all the trouble of covering up his involvement though. Is there a reason he doesn't want to to take the credit? Is he afraid it will give away the secret of partial transfiguration? Or perhaps he doesn't want Draco to know he, presumably, killed Lucius? I guess we'll find out tomorrow ;)

The way he set it up gives Hermione the same credit for defeating Voldemort that Harry got when he was a baby.

... which conveniently explains why Hermione has super powers now.

9MarkusRamikin6ySo the Sunshine Regiment gets a Super-Hermione after all.

Chaos General gets the Stone, Sunshine General gets superpowers, Dragon General gets No Parents.

So each of them gets more of something they already had.

5MarkusRamikin6yNot even something original. General Chaos already got that Achievement before him.

General Chaos would firmly disagree.

6MarkusRamikin6yOnly if Achievements can be revoked. He definitely had that for a short while 11 years earlier.
4[anonymous]6yNope. He has four parents only two of whom happen to be dead.
4Normal_Anomaly6yIf you count Quirrell, he has five parents, two and a half of whom happen to be dead. In fact, the half-death of Quirrell brought his Parental Survival Rate down to 0.5, so of course Draco's had to go down to stay ahead of him.
6Transfuturist6yQuirrel was his fiance, not his parent.
7Jost6yThey were as close to being soul mates as two humans can possibly be.
4Normal_Anomaly6yOh, right, him and the time turner.
0Ben Pace6yWow, inbreeding much? I'm your father and your husband.
0TobyBartels6yLater Harry goes back in time and puts himself into the original baby Tom Riddle. Turns out that Voldemort hated other people because he regarded them as zombies. Following this link will turn my previous paragraph into a spoiler for the short story at the other end of the link. You have been warned. [http://tinyurl.com/bda3hen]
2SilentCal6ySplit in some to-be-determined proportion with the deceased Quirrell/Monroe.
0MathMage6yUnless Dumbledore comes back. Even if he doesn't, Harry has made little effort to prevent people from suspecting that Quirrell was connected to Voldemort.
1SilentCal6yHmm... the people who might suspect this are probably few enough to address individually. Did you have anyone in mind who's likely to go public?
1MathMage6yI...hm. Maybe I was letting hindsight bias me here.

Well, seems like we passed.

Passed in the first 30 seconds and then spent 60 hours worried that it can't be that easy.

There are a lot of theories over at fanfiction.net that Harry is inside the Mirror, seeing what he wants to see.

I considered this possibility back when we were searching for Harry's solution, and found that Voldemort uses the same hand for wand and gun before and after the Mirror. I thought: If they are in the Mirror, Eliezer would have subtly indicated that, perhaps Voldemort's use of hands would be reversed since the Mirror.

Does this qualify as sufficient proof that Harry and Voldemort are not in the Mirror?

0Nornagest6yIt'd be a clever tell if Eliezer wanted us to conclude they're still in the Mirror, but I don't think its absence is strong evidence of the opposite. The Mirror might not work that way, and Eliezer might simply have forgotten if it did. (I would say it'd be clever if anyone walking into their dream-world died soon after of amino-acid chirality issues, but similar things have been done so many times that it's not very creative. Plus it clashes with the theme.)

Two things strike me as odd that I don't seem to have seen yet in other comments (but I might have missed them).

  1. How could the "torture" option work ? From my understanding, if Voldemort gains consciousness again, he can leave his body. And you can't torture someone who is unconscious. The wand in Azkaban pit could work, but the "call Moody to torture Voldemort" option I really don't see how it could work.

  2. How can it be so easy to Obliviate Voldemort ? Can't perfect Occlumens protect themselves from mind-altering spells even when unco

... (read more)
5gjm6yI've seen it suggested that V can leave a possessed body (becoming a disembodied spirit) but not his own. I don't recall seeing anything (either in canon or in HPMOR) that confirms or refutes that. I share your concerns about #2, although generally "once you have physical access to the hardware, it's over" -- if you can catch Voldemort or Dumbledore or whoever asleep, you can smash their head with a big rock or something.
0Velorien6yI don't think we've seen any evidence of that in the story. For what purpose? If you've got your enemy at your mercy with their shields down, you either kill them, or you do something more useful with them (e.g. Imperius). I don't see what you'd get out of Obliviating them instead of either of those options.
1kilobug6yImperius isn't fail-safe, you can't Imperius strong-willed persons (at least not in cannon), I don't think you can Imperius Voldemort, Lucius Malfoy, Dumbledore, Moody, ... Even Harry can resist the Imperius in cannon. And while it's true for the "bad guys", AK is more efficient than Obliviate, for the "good guys" who have restraints in killing (like Dumbledore and at least half of the Order of the Phoenix) using Obliviate on death eaters would seem much better than killing them or sending them to Azkaban. I always assumed they didn't do it because it wasn't that easy (long/delicate casting, don't work on Occlumens, ...) to wipe memories massively like that.
4gjm6yLucius Malfoy claimed to be Imperiused during his time as a Death Eater. That claim needs to have been credible enough that his allies in the Wizengamot could use it to justify voting not to send him to Azkaban. That doesn't mean it has to be very credible, of course. But it had better not have been common knowledge that Imperius only works on weaklings.
1Luke_A_Somers6yI think it was more that it works for nearly everyone, not only on weaklings.
3Velorien6yOn the other hand, the good guys are bound by the law, which dictates that surviving Death Eaters go to Azkaban, whether Dumbledore and co. want it or not.

So... Quirrel told McGonagal that he was David Munroe, and it was implied with Madam Bones. It looks like David Munroe was killed in a battle with Voldemort, ending that noble and most ancient line, which has now been avenged by Hermione destroying Voldemort with her magic Girl-Who-Lived powers.

Are we going to get the Noble House of Granger? Does the House of Potter lose its noble status since David Munroe was apparently not previously dead to be avenged by Harry? Will they both be noble because the Wizengamot doesn't know what to do with the ambiguity?

3MathMage6yVoldemort still killed David Monroe, he just did it earlier than everyone thought he did. Chapter 108: Your other questions remain, though. Harry no longer killed Voldemort for good, and Hermione (apparently) has. This should be interesting. I predict this becomes an issue, confidence 70%; and, conditional on that, that Draco sides with Hermione again at a crucial moment, confidence 85%.
2bramflakes6yWhere was it stated that the Potter family's noble status is a result of baby-Harry killing Voldemort?
9Atelos6yChapter 86

Wow! Making Hermione Another-One-Who-Survived was a clever idea. This solves some problems, but now Harry will have to keep a very grim secret. With everything happened, the next honest talk with her seems now even more impossible than surviving V.

2polymathwannabe6yHypothesis: this has already happened. Voldemort has an implanted memory of exactly how he failed to kill baby Harry.
2Jost6yCould you elaborate on that? (Who implanted that memory? Why? What observations would that hypothesis explain, that are not explained well (or at all) by our current assumptions?)
0raecai6yDidn't he want to create a horcrux out of Harry, not to kill him? Of course, he could have implanted himself the false memories he shares in ch. 108 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/108]: Or he might have lain, which means that either he did want to kill Harry, or the purpose of all that October 31st was something completely different. Or did I misunderstand something?

I love how close we collectively got. Both that we came up with a solution close to the canon one, and that the canon one was just that bit more polished and elegant thanks to longer prep time.

2Bound_up6yI know, right!? I feel this is a glorious moment. Reductionism, consistency, causation. These are hallmarks of rationality and of the Methods thereof. Anybody with sufficient understanding of the situation should be able to deduce the outcome, because it is dependably going to be whatever the rational answer is! Decision Theory allows us to identify the best course for a certain set of values and goals, and the rational answer will be the same for everyone. That this actually worked is a sign of the very tight internal consistency of the story. That this would almost never work in any other story is a powerful indicator of the opposite.
0TobyBartels6yNitpick: It doesn't matter how much or how little understanding; as long as you specify the knowledge available just as you specify the vallues/goals, then everybody still gets the same rational answer. An answer that they'll be happier with if they start with better understanding, but a rational answer all the same.
0Luke_A_Somers6yWas the 'strand of silver/litres of blood' line something Harry knew, though, or was it just textual?

So I decided not too look at comments during the hunt. I then got a "solution", but decided to wait a bit for something better to post it. And then I did not have time to post it. Well, silly me...

Anyway, because I have not seen this discussed (but maybe it was and I missed it?), here's my take on defending yourself from most ways to kill you. Note that this would not have worked for Harry for various reasons (as I said, my solution was unsatisfying), but I still think it could be debated.

Fact 1: Killing Curses cannot be blocked by magic or mater... (read more)

So did Harry just outsmart himself? Are we really expecting the clever Lord Voldemort to not have something in place to recover from obliviation? Harry seemed to appropriately judge the importance of this spell about half a second after he first heard of it, but Tom Riddle doesn't realise at all?

7Oshi6yI'm sure he realizes it, but Harry literally obliviated everything in his memory, which would presumably include knowledge of any anti-obliviation counter measures (like the signals that were mentioned early on). Unless there's some spell or artifact we haven't heard of before now that blocks/reverses Obliviation, I am going with it worked. And from a meta perspective, we know the story is winding down, so Voldie coming back with his full memory and then having another showdown with a different solution seems highly unlikely.

There is an artifact that might suffice, the Pensieve. Voldemort might have prepared such an artifact with all his memories, and had Bellatrix and/or others ready to restore them to him by it if necessary.

But I grant the extreme difficulty Voldemort is likely to have having been transfigured into a ring. If necessary, Harry can always do with the ring what Voldemort did with the Horcruxes and ensure it is lost forever.

3Jost6yHe can’t, unless he wants to visit one of the suggested hiding places several times a day: (McGonagall, chapter 15)
1MathMage6yHe has the Philosopher's Stone. Not an issue.
3Jost6yPossibly true; although I’m not sure whether Voldemort’s spirit would still stay inside the jewel once that transfiguration is made permanent. (Less of a problem now, thanks to the obliviation, but I’d still prefer some oversight, just to be safe.)
1Luke_A_Somers6yThat might, however, make him no longer retain his original form, so then he's seriously dead, and the horcruxes activate.
0Bound_up6yBoth good points. While Harry does actually have the means to overcome that difficulty, I admit I hadn't thought of it in the first place. Up-votes for both.
2fezziwig6yI agree with this interpretation. But given that, I'm not sure why Harry thinks he didn't kill Voldemort.
1TobyBartels6yLV would anticipate this, so he should have something set up that will explain it all over to him again, automatically. Compare Fiona in Harry Potter and the Natural 20; LV could have done what she did, and she used no magic (and no Muggle technology more advanced than audiocassette recordings).
6roystgnr6yThe obliviated Fiona was still a policewoman who likes jogging with a walkman. The obliviated Voldemort isn't even still in the same category of "animal, vegetable, or mineral". The total obliviation is a second layer of precaution on top of that. At this point it's hard to even define "him". Even if some absent Death Eater's contingency orders just kicked in, and some magical trace on Voldemort defines where to deliver a post-obliviation message, that message is just going to end up in the hands of the obliviated ex-Tom-Riddle we like.
1TobyBartels6yBeing obliviated and transfigured is a pretty bad fix, yes. But they're both things that he could have anticipated. I don't know how to get out of that, but V might. Total obliviation requires more than just a message; it requires brainwashing to recreate the lost personality. Voldemort (I mean past V planning for these contingencies) can find a way. He just needs to shut up and do it! (^_^)
0hairyfigment6yUm, that doesn't apply to anything Tom Riddle needed to learn from the basilisk. Which he actually did kill, to judge from the spiders (ha) and the lack of basilisk in the Tunnels of Secrets.
0TheMajor6yWhat about a Voldemort who comes back and just Avada Kedavras Harry on sight? This would finally do justice to Voldie's superior power and intelligence, and take only one paragraph. I was indeed thinking of spells or artefacts we don't know about (or perhaps clever combinations/side-effects of magic we do know about). If Horcruxes are indeed images of the caster impressed upon the world then perhaps it might be possible to construct them in such a way that they become active unless repressed by the original? That would solve Voldies stuck-in-a-plaque-for-decades problem as well.
0Oshi6yWould you consider the story ending with Voldemort, up to that point presumed dealt with, suddenly showed up and killed Harry with no chance for recourse? It would be a quick resolution, but despite what Harry thinks as he matures, he is in fact living inside a narrative. I don't believe that the story would end on such a down note. I could well be wrong, but that is what I choose to believe.

I am glad to see that Stuporfy did the trick, and I did not see the Obliviate coming. My private (i.e. I would have posted it if I had more time/attention for HPMOR over the last two days and had vetted it) way to solve the Voldemort Problem would have been to time-turn him the violent way by shattering Harry's Time-Turner on him; but looking into it now it turns out I misremembered the scene of canon I was thinking of. (The shelf containing the Time-Turners gets bumped, and they all fall off, turning them- causing them to go back in time and fall again; I... (read more)

9Jost6yIf I understand him correctly, H intends to keep V transformed until H is powerful enough to transform V’s body back to a healthy state (and make that permanent with the Stone). Imprisonment is a possibility after that, but depending on your views on the relation between identity and memories, this might not be appropriate after the obliviation.
0Vaniver6yThanks, I totally misread that section. I somehow missed the symmetry with Hermione's body.
0TobyBartels6yIt was in the book, as I recall, but it didn't really make sense; Eliezer would never allow it.
0Vaniver6ySo, it makes sense that if the thing falls, it could conceivably turn over and that activates the charm. But this seems really unsafe in general (I did a backflip while wearing a Time-Turner; oops!), and there's still the limit on how many times you can do it in a day, and you could just catch them, and so on.

I really can't believe "use magic" was the right answer. In addition to being unsolvable from the perspective of the audience -- we don't know anything about magic! -- it's also totally out of step of the rest of the work. I'd love to see a rewrite fork from the "AI Box" line of solutions.

In the meantime I really hope they're still in the mirror.

6Vaniver6yUm, what do you mean by "unsolvable"? I would assume you mean "no one thought of it or suggested it," but in fact many, if not most, of the suggestions involved using magic in basically the way Harry did.
7gjm6yI assume he means: we are not in a position to have any confidence that a particular proposed magical solution is actually a credible one, at least from what we know that's internal to the story. (External things like what's been most clearly foreshadowed might give good reason for confidence.)
3gerryblog6yThat's exactly what I mean. We don't know enough about magic to say what Harry or Voldemort's capabilities are -- the whole thing is a black box. It's not a satisfying answer to the puzzle (for me) and not much of a testimony to "rationality" as a way of thinking at all -- as presented this is about knowing genre conventions, not about superior or inferior thinking. All of the AI Box solutions I saw were much more pro-"rationality" by my lights.
2Unknowns6yEliezer may in fact be thinking of this as an AI box situation, and trying to point out that giving the AI any extra capabilities in the external world whatsoever me be a horrible mistake. That said, I agree with you.

One can network computers in such a way that computations, online services (web site), and/or stored information (databases, files) keep running seamlessly even after some nodes are crashed/destroyed/hacked. Certainly you would not design a decent AI whose mind had a potential single point of hardware failure like humans do with their brains. Shouldn't a wizard's True Horcrux network similarly be resilient against any active body(ies) being Obliviated, Imperiussed, etc.?

7Velorien6yThat assumes a great deal of control over the design of the network. We don't know what steps Voldemort followed to design the Horcrux 2.0 ritual, but I don't think it implausible that the final result was the best he could do with the knowledge available, rather than the best an intelligent programmer could do with full control over the system's hardware and code.
1Jost6yI agree. Also, the added complexity of distributed computations (Username’s suggestion) versus distributed real-time backups (the Horcrux 2.0) is enormous! Even for teams of extremely smart developers in 2015, distributed computing is not a simple problem. For one single “developer” in ~1990, like Voldemort (who has no like-minded individuals to discuss this with and has absolutely no background in computer science), this is near-impossible unless Magic has a built-in API that makes this extremely easy (which is unlikely, given what we know about the APIs for horcruxes, ghosts, etc.)

I think the solution was over-constrained. Simultaneously killing 36 death eaters, disarming (hah) Voldemort, and then stunning him wasn't just A way out of the predicament without dying immediately, it's arguably the BEST way. All the limitations Voldemort put on Harry were irrelevant, and all the relevant ones that could've happened, like taking away his wand or shooting him in the kneecaps before he talks weren't taken. Voldemort forces Harry to use his ONE ability he can use without moving his wand, which also happens to be the one that can nearly effortlessly kill dozens of people in an instant? I guess when you look at it has him falling to the power he knew not it kind of works.

Waiting for the other foot to drop because, as I'm sure the comments are full of, it is completely absurd that a wizard as powerful as ~Lord Voldemort~ is incapable of detecting a transfigured spidersilk looping its way around him and his followers regardless of his unawareness of partial transfiguration.

It's still magic.

Wizards are not blind to magic around them created by methods they are unaware of. The patronus charm 2.0 was still noticeable by Quirrel and Dumbledore. When Harry demonstrated partial transfiguration, Dumbledore and McGonagall were surpr... (read more)

5kilobug6yI don't think wizards can detect magic that easily. Patronus is definitely easy to detect, it radiates both in visible light and in... emotional waves, whatever that is ;) But think about how it's hard to detect someone who is polyjuiced, or someone who is imperiused. Or how Dumbledore had to cast spells to detect what transfigured objects did Harry has on him when he looked for Hermione body. It seems perfectly plausible that wizards can't detect (without actively casting some detection spells) a transfiguration that happens on the microscopic scale and can't see.
3tim6yI am assuming that Voldemort, about to attempt the subversion of a prophecy to destroy the world, is not standing around in a graveyard with Harry Potter, a recently reanimated Hermione with unicorn powers and a bunch of Death Eaters of at least slightly questionable loyalty without any detection spells raised at all.

Count me in the "I'm surprised that actually worked" camp...

I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea that could still be true, but wasn't needed in Chapter 114-115. It had bothered me that the Hermione toe-ring wasn't detected. In fact, it was explicitly checked for magic and it was discovered that it was portkey magic rather than transfiguration magic.

Overnight, I had the idea that perhaps Harry put his portkey toering on Hermione's body (though obviously not her toe) before he transfigured her. I have no idea how such things work, but I suppose its possible that the portkey magic would still be detectible when transfigured and would even mask out the transfiguration magic.

4kilobug6yFrom chapter 94 : I assume that he swapped the Hermione-toering with the portkey-toering at this point, leaving the Hermione-toering beneath the covers, or making it drop into the moleskin pouch, or something like that.
0avichapman6yI remember that part too. I had thought that they had searched all of Harry's things. Upon re-reading the relevant part of Chapter 94, I now realise that they only searched his trunk and mokeskin pouch. If he left it in his bed it would have escaped detection.

I am somewhat surprised that no wards triggered on any of Harrys actions. OK, we learned little about what wards can and can't do but given that ant-apparition, anti-phoenix and whatnot are established by Death Eaters by default and Quirrell used - what 50? - protective measures in that secret hotel room when he left off for Azkaban. I'd guess that some protective measures should have triggered.

Interesting. I wonder ifHarry just killed Sirius. I suppose that's not exactly the most important thing from a shut-up-and-multiply perspective, but it might also explain an additional reason why Harry avoids looking (and finding information about) something he may change later with the use of a time turner.

Also, no reference to a certain pack of cards yet.

9Nornagest6yMr. Counsel is probably Lucius Malfoy, too. I imagine Draco's not going to be too happy about that.
0[anonymous]6yWhat about Jugson?
1Jost6yWasn’t that resolved in chapter 79?
2Oshi6yYeah it was resolved when Dumbledore revealed that he was the one who gave it to Harry to Snape/McGonnagle. Snape reported to Potter that he used it and it went to an empty house in London.
1linkhyrule56yPack of cards?
2Jost6yChapter 63:
3Vaniver6yAs I recall [http://hpmor.com/chapter/79], that was planted by Dumbledore and led to a location in London.
0seer6yWho told you that?
0Vaniver6yDumbledore? Yes, the Defense Professor was the one who IDed it as London, but Dumbledore didn't challenge his story.
1gattsuru6yDumbledore gave Harry a pack of cards that had portkey functionality, under the name Santa Claus and claiming that they were a portkey to Salem, but instead heading to a location somewhere in London. Harry gave them back for further investigation, thinking that they might be a trap, Dumbledore took them back but didn't activate the portkey. It's possible that this was just a short reference, meant to establish Dumbledore's steps of trust in parallel to the gift of the Cloak of Invisibility, and that Harry did not retrieve the portkey and Dumbledore did not place it upon Harry's person... But activation trigger was to rip the King of Hearts -- a king card known for its face character stabbing itself in the back of the head -- in half.
0BrindIf6yBy the way, who gave the Cloak to Harry?
5Bound_up6yI vote Dumbledore; he's a clever schemer. Dumbledore wants to give Harry his cloak, but decides to capitalize on the opportunity. He delivers it anonymously with a note telling Harry not to trust Dumbledore. Upon meeting Dumbledore, this allows him to impress Harry by deducing the nature of his cape, and then show his trustworthiness. Furthermore, he can comment on the potentially pure motives of the mud-slinger. Harry is alternately ashamed of his distrust of Dumbledore, and impressed with Dumbledore's charity and kindness, +2 to Dumbledore.
3gattsuru6yIt's not been explicitly confirmed, but given the similarity in forms to later notes signed Santa (and confirmed to be Dumbledore), the note's writer claiming the Cloak was freely given by Harry's father, and the explicit warning against letting Dumbledore see the Cloak, it's very likely that Dumbledore gave Harry the Cloak as in canon.

I am surprised that using transfiguration and defeating Voldemort played such a large role in the solution.
I thought that it was much more likely that the solution would be to lose in some way, but to lose in a way that maintained hope / constrained Voldemort's actions to not be evil, and then to continue to work towards a better situation once out of immediate danger.

I also thought that the Vow that Harry had made would be the biggest key to the solution. After all, transfiguring carbon nanotubes and antimatter were things that Harry could have achieved ... (read more)

Where is Fawkes right now? Is he part of Dumbledore and is trapped with him?

0jkadlubo6yI suspect he's gone. Remember when Dumbledore told Harry about phoenixes? Those who get a chance, get one chance. From then on it's their own phoenix and it can never be given to someone else. Mybe he died, maybe he left for wherever phoenixes come from.
3Gondolinian6yIn canon he just flies away after Dumbledore dies, after doing a sort of lament.
5hairyfigment6yOf course, Dumbledore is explicitly not dead. Though it would probably be easier to bring him back if he were (aside from issues of consent).

Harry should be treating himself for transfiguration sickness right now. He breathed some strange smells, and having a death eater poison the air is exactly the sort of contingency Voldemort should have taken.

Also, he doesn't seem to have paid any attention to where the Philosopher's Stone is. Which seems like a huge mistake.

(Edit: Reread, and noticed it says "Harry donned his robes, and placed the Stone of Permanency in an ordinary pocket, he wasn't sure what the Stone might do to his pouch." Retract previous sentence.)

6Mollie6yThe reason you didn't see the Philosopher's Stone in your first read is that it wasn't there. Eliezer accidentally dropped it in one of his edits, and put it back in after Reddit was all "Where's the Stone?!"
5Jost6yThe strange smells are described as “coppery smells”, which probably refers to all the blood. (Of course, the hemoglobin in blood contains iron, rather than copper, but “irony smells” would not be a great choice of words, I suppose …)
2[anonymous]6yBlood smells like copper to me.
5Vaniver6yThis appears [http://www.livescience.com/4233-coins-smell.html] to be because copper and iron both "smell" like blood.
0[anonymous]6yThat was edited in later, you were right the first time.

I think Harry went with a slightly more risky PT solution than the one I suggested, but it's satisfying and considerably more in character than the PT => time turner escape solution path.

I suppose if I thought more narratively I would have discarded every solution that didn't involve killing his enemies.

I was extremely disappointed by these chapters, enough so that I would prefer the shorter and sadder ending. Various things that seem to me wrong with it:

Harry's plan is the kind of complicated plan that would not really work, because of unknown constraints on magic, constraints on his concentration and imagination, either his magic or the strands themselves being noticed by Voldemort, or for some other reason.

Voldemort is left holding the Idiot Ball, which Eliezer promised would not happen, because he left Harry with his wand and glasses for no reason, as... (read more)

2TobyBartels6yHeh. That's what I do with _Three Worlds Collide [http://lesswrong.com/lw/y4/three_worlds_collide_08/]_. Actually, that's not really true. I count the official ending as the true ending; it's more like humans to behave thus. I just count the other ending as the good ending.
1wobster1096yI'm so cross with Voldemort! How could he have possibly left Harry with the wand? How could he? It's the exact sort of mistake he obviously wouldn't make, especially since he already demanded Harry's wand several times already. How could he have left Harry with an hour on the time-turner? The game was going to last all night, it would have been so easy just to use up all the hours. Why did he wait for last words? See points 14 and 16 on the supervillain list [http://www.eviloverlord.com/lists/overlord.html]: NO last requests, NO last words. It's all so weird and uncharacteristically unlike him!

"Other living weapons cannot be Transfigured; they will not survive the disenchantment for the requisite six hours to avoid being traced by Time-Turner."

So, how does Harry plan to evade been traced by Time-Turner?

Is it correct that Voldemort will die when he will be disenchanted?

By the way, why did Voldemort make a description of Hermione resurrection ritual and put it in a pouch if he planed to kill Harry anyway?

6lerjj6yWell, seeing as he was almost prophesied to fail, it was sensible to make sure Harry would have someone to stop him in the future. And as it turns out, this was a very good idea.
3avichapman6yHe was planning for the possibility of failure. If he failed to kill Harry, he wanted Harry to always have Hermione to consult.

Guys everyone on reddit/Hpmor seems to be talking about a spreadsheet with all solutions listed. Could anyone please post the link as a reply to this comment. Pretty please with sugar on top :)

29eB16yhttps://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15VARTF8-ZhcuyCfct0o3RZQ7tcPmXLd0YvtIC1v-db0/edit#gid=0 [https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15VARTF8-ZhcuyCfct0o3RZQ7tcPmXLd0YvtIC1v-db0/edit#gid=0]

So why is Harry going to such great pains to erase evidence of his involvement?

8Ben Pace6yHmm, if it was known that Dumbledore had died and that Quirrell had been Voldemort all year, bad things could happen to Hogwarts. This route makes it most like that it will be McGonagall as headmistress.
4buybuydandavis6yDumbledore is not dead, just stuck in time. Maybe. Can't Harry get the time turner messaging squad to give Dumbledore advance notice of everything that will occur, so that he can set the mirror trap to be not so much of a trap? Dumbledore did seem to be very insistent on how Quirrell had fooled him and he had no idea whatsoever that Quirrell was Voldemort.
2Velorien6yThey're going to have to reveal Dumbledore's death anyway, and Quirrell =/= Voldemort would be the default assumption for any uninitiated observer anyway, seeing as their dead bodies were within metres of each other.
4Ben Pace6yTo me, the scene looked as though Quirrell had tried to fight Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Perhaps the story is that Quirrell killed the Death Eaters, Voldy killed quirrell, tried to sacrifice Hermione in a dark ritual, but Hermione's purity killed him. Or cut that last step, and make it that Harry snapped his fingers.
4Astazha6yImagine the the myths that will come up around this. "Man, if you try to use magic to kill a kid magic will fuck you up, I don't care who you are."
5Edgehopper6yBecause it's hard to be seen as on the light side when you decapitate 38 adult wizards in an instant? Fame is harmful, not helpful, to Harry's goals. Better to make it look like Voldemort managed to cause a magical backfire that killed all his minions in a failed ritual involving Hermione. To go back to the Azkaban chapters, the perfect crime is the one that is declared a tragic accident and closed.
0Velorien6yIs that true? Harry wishes to reform or replace the government of Magical Britain, and being the hero who defeated Voldemort twice would make that a lot easier (as Voldemort himself acknowledged). Turning Hermione into the Girl-Who-Lived dilutes that effect, and also brings all his fame-related problems down upon her.
5Oshi6yHarry at this point trusts Hermione's judgement far more than his own. Putting Hermione in the position of power as the girl-who-lives-again pushes her into the forefront, letting her be the head that Magical Brittain needs, leaving him to go about his business determined to not destroy the world, as his unbreakable vow requires.
2Velorien6yWith all due respect to Miss Granger, she would make a terrible politician. Her strengths are an amazing memory, academic talent, and an unbreakable moral compass. However, she has no skill at manipulation, poor social skills in general, and no special ambition or vision. The Malfoys of this world would run rings around her. By contrast, Harry is an unstoppable force for change in whatever direction he seeks, and his only real weakness is being too immature to properly weigh up the potential consequences of his actions. Which, admittedly, is a humongous flaw, but with recent events he finally knows that.
4Bound_up6yBut she is also smart enough to ask for help, and a very quick study. As with her army, it may be expected that she will organize an effective and powerful cabinet, whose combined abilities shall be filtered through her morality to let be made manifest only the good within them.
0Velorien6yThe other problem I see is that shortly before her death she was still bound up in "I'm just a twelve-year old girl". I don't see her making the shift out of that perspective fast enough to fully capitalise on Voldemort's defeat the way Harry would. (and let's not forget the various flavours of psychoogical trauma she may now be suffering from)
0Dorikka6yData point - were I to interact with harry, I would likely see him as dangerously incompetent or a powerful enough optimizer to be a threat. Politicians probably don't want to be lumped into these mental buckets
1fezziwig6yIs it really that much better than being the hero who defeated Voldemort once, though? Putting on Hermione does seem pretty mean, but I think it's a very in-character sort of mistake, especially after the kind of day he's had.

I'm wondering whether Harry believes himself to be a threat to the world at this point in time. This would be a plausible reason for him to be setting Hermione up to take the credit for killing Voldiemort.

3lerjj6yOther than modesty, letting Hermione take credit is a very elegant solution to a slew of problems: he can say that House Potter owes her no enmity after her defeating of their common foe, and this gets rid of any lingering doubts about her attacking Malfoy (probably...).

For me chapter 114 was all I wanted it to be (and possibly more) and chapter 115 was lovely.

I did stop thinking at "so he could transfigure a tip of his wand or maybe his fingernail into a nanotube, but I have no idea what he could do with that, because there is practically no way for him to talk his way out".

I didn't really check the LessWrong thread earlier, but I am happy to see that people here are a lot less willing to accept the unsatisfying solution than at r/HPMOR.

I used to really enjoy HPMOR, but it is now basically ruined for me - Voldemort holding the idiot ball, the one time where things really matter, and this is also when Harry's untested strategies work like a charm on the first try without him being noticed? I guess I was too quick to praise Eliezer on being able to write more believable scenes than Rowling.

What disappoints me almost as much is that the original answer was (from all that I can gather) to mainly just use the swerving hex. Hahahaha.

I'm pretty sure the original answer always had the partial transfiguration / nanotubes / garotte element. Consider the bit at the very start of chapter 1 (fraction of a line, robes falling, blood); the fact that in H&H's transfiguration experiments they use nanowires, verify that they're very strong, and verify that their length can be changed by transfiguration; arguably the bit in chapter 7 where Harry thinks what a good idea it would be just to decapitate all the Death Eaters; Dumbledore's insistence that partial transfiguration, being a power the Dark Lord knows not, may be vital to his victory.

8Velorien6yWhile I am inclined to agree with the general spirit of your comment, I think you're being a little harsh. This is still miles more believable than much of Rowling's work. For one thing, recall that her Voldemort achieved the same terrifying results during the Wizarding War while being an idiot all the time.
3Tenoke6yYes HPMOR has been generally more believable, except for the one scene that matters in the whole book. At any rate, I am not sure if defeating Voldemort by use of an artefact - the Elder Wand is any less believable than using transfigured nanowires in secret against a much smarter version of Voldemort who forgets to use shields/wards/attention in order to catch harry this one time, and lets him have his wand when he doesn't need it.
0gjm6yI wouldn't make that assumption. There are several chapters left and a bunch of things left unresolved, some of which seem like they could be important. Is he going to make further progress on defeating Death? Will we discover why there's a prophecy that he'll tear apart the stars, empty the skies, and end the world? Maybe not; there might be nothing left now but wrap-up. But I don't think it's a foregone conclusion.

So... what we should do now is to work out all the things Quirrell should have before this. He couldn't predict partial transfiguration, true. But he knew that Harry had a power he knew not, and had a long time to plan for contingencies.

Personally, I think he should have had the death eaters disillusioned, surround Harry but from a distance, cast holograms to confuse him and then use ventriliquo charms. At the very least disillusionment should be as much of a general tactic as a massed finite and the death eaters could have been hidden.

The massively more o... (read more)

[-][anonymous]6y 1

When did Harry learn Obliviate?

Chapter 90:

even a simple Obliviation will stretch the edge of your current stamina. It is a dangerous art, illegal to use without Ministry authorization, and I would caution you not to use it under circumstances where it would be inconvenient to accidentally erase ten years of someone's life. I wish I could promise you that I would obtain one of those highly guarded tomes from the Department of Mysteries, and pass it to you beneath a disguised cover. But what I must actually tell you is that you will find the standard introductory text in the north-northwest stacks of the main Hogwarts library, filed under M.

So there is no defense against Obliviation that Voldemort could have prepared for himself?

I confess I expected paranoid-Moody thinking from Harry, not Far-mode Good thinking. The stakes are so high that anything other than ruthless pragmatism feels insane to me.

[-][anonymous]6y 14

One defense against obliviation would be to keep creating old-school horcruxes at regular intervals. As I understand they contain snapshots of current mind-state so should be unaffected by the main copy getting obliviated later. He might not be quite gone yet.

3CellBioGuy6yLike those 30 year old infectious samples of smallpox that keep turning up in NIH/university/etc freezers.
1TobyBartels6yWait, they do? Should I be worried?
0NancyLebovitz6yThey do show up. It's a risk, but so far I'd say it isn't something to be very worried about. Modern civilization doesn't seem to be too bad at dealing with infectious diseases.
0TobyBartels6yOK, I'll trust the institutional descendants of whoever lost track of the virus samples to contain and destroy the virus samples. They'll probably be paying closer attention now. As long as none are mislabelled and thrown into the general trash.
0NancyLebovitz6yActually, I meant that even if people get infected (not very likely), I'm willing to be that modern civilization could contain and end the problem before a significant number of people got infected.
0TobyBartels6yThat's probably true too, but I'd hate to think what would happen if it it got loose in place with a less capable medical system, like Guinea.

So there is no defense against Obliviation that Voldemort could have prepared for himself?

With perfect sight toward the future, perhaps he could have. It's far from convincing that it would have actually helped, without blocking thirty other vulnerabilities.

Obliviation's particularly interesting because it requires no upkeep, but it's far from the only thing that would bypass Horcruxes. Voldemort's just as vulnerable to being repeatedly stunned, to petrification (hence the murder of the basilisk), to transfiguration, to the Imperius, to pretty much any mind-affecting charm. The biggest defense is, well, the same as anyone else's defense to the Killing Curse -- don't be there. Creating a defense specifically against large-scale Obliviation isn't very valuable if the attacker has countless further options to permanently disable anyone so defenseless as to be vulnerable to an Obliviate.

3skeptical_lurker6yI would have thought he would rig up some dead-man's handle which explodes, killing him, if he is ever knocked unconscious. However, he would have to deactivate it when going to sleep, so he would still be vunerable then.
0buybuydandavis6yBesides all the foreshadowing about Quirrell's plan being to lose a battle to Harry, isn't it rather convenient that Quirrell just happens to arrange for Harry to learn the spell that Harry uses to defeat him?
2MathMage6yNot really. Mind magic is one of Harry's top priorities, Quirrell is the first person he'd ask about Obliviate, Quirrell has no reason not to tell him, and Obliviate wasn't exactly the spell Harry used to defeat Quirrell in the first place. This outcome is about as likely in the world where Quirrell wasn't expecting to lose as in the world where he was, so it doesn't shift the priors substantially.
3linkhyrule56yAbout ten chapters ago.

"the stunbolt leapt out of her wand and -

  • slowed to a stop in front of Professor Quirrell's raised hand, rippling in midair like it was still trying to fly and making a slight hissing sound."

Does LV really need hands to stop stunbolts? Why did he try to evade?

1fezziwig6yResonance. He doesn't dare involve himself with Harry's magic in any way.
1gattsuru6yHe'd just been attacked by a magical source that disarmed his weapons at the wrists, was cast wordlessly and without wand motions, and did not leave an obvious bolt to block. This is probably a bad time to show off. At a deeper level, Voldemort (and Mad-Eye Moody) favor a combat philosophy of dodging, under the quite reasonable realization that there are a large number of spells that can overwhelm shields or are unblockable.


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Am I wrong in thinking that Voldemort had given his gun to one of the Death Eaters, and so Harry should not be seeing it fall alongside Voldemort's wand when he cuts his hands off?

4MathMage6yFrom 113: So it was planned, but never executed. All other references to the gun have it in Voldemort's hand.

We were told to keep Harry from dying immediately. The actual solution had Harry winning. I guess the moral of the story is that if you figure out how to accomplish what you wanted, don't stop thinking. Figure out how to accomplish more.

Harry said that he had to kill the Death Eaters. I disagree. There are ways he could have incapacitated them. Probably. My plans killed them all too, because their lives weren't worth the increased chance of failure.

I think Harry should have tortured Voldemort to insanity and then obliviated him. That way if the obliviation doesn't stick, Voldemort would still be tortured to insanity.

2DanArmak6yUnfortunately Harry hasn't learned the Cruciatus Curse.
1Astazha6yThis sounds less safe because you'd need to wake him up to torture him into insanity. If you wanted the multiple layers you could torture the obliviated version into insanity, but I think I prefer the transfiguration. I'd even consider making it permanent with the Stone of Transfiguration, but this would result in a lot of lost knowledge and it's also possible that the horcrux network would consider it a death. ETA: I rather liked the wand-in-a-dementor-pit idea.
0TuviaDulin6ySafest option would have been the dementor's kiss. Or, if the kiss isn't a thing in MoRverse, tossing his wand to them as Harry had mused.
[-][anonymous]6y 0

Wait, who was Mr. White?

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Isn't Voldemort's body going to die in its Transfigured form? I assume Harry has a way around that, and he has a reasonably long time frame to implement a solution (at least compared to the 60 seconds he had to work with just now), but that dangling loose end is gnawing at me.

3MarkusRamikin6yIf I understand correctly, you only suffer from transfiguring yourself or parts of yourself after returning to your original form, after the transfiguration stops being sustained and wears off. Bolding mine. The Stone solves that. Assuming Harry grabbed it, which seems like a no brainer but I don't think was ever explicitely mentioned that he did. EDIT: Aha, it was edited in just now.
0MathMage6yWhoops, that's, right. Thanks.
1jkadlubo6yIt's the same as with Hermione's body and the unicorns. They are stones as long as they are Transfigured. When Transfiguration stops, they will soon suffer. That's why Harry kept Hermione's body and now thinks about sustaining the Transfiguration of Voldemort all the time - he wants them to stay Transfigured until their state can be helped. He's kind of frozen now.
0MathMage6yAh, thanks.

Quick note:

Harry's eyes only saw the Dark Lord's hands and wand and gun dropping downward, and then Harry's wand was rising, pointing -

Harry screamed, "STUPORFY!"

The stunning spell is Stupefy.

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[-][anonymous]6y 14

No, this is Flitwick's personal dueling version of Stupefy, which is hard to dodge. Chapter 86.

1Jost6yThanks to you and everyone else for the quick replies. I really should have re-read the earlier chapters, but I just couldn’t find the time …
6Alsadius6yDifferent spell. http://hpmor.com/chapter/86 [http://hpmor.com/chapter/86]
-39eB16yThis is Mad-Eye Moody's homing version of the spell, which has a different incantation, as used in Ch 86.

This is Mad-Eye Moody's homing version of the spell, which has a different incantation, as used in Ch 86.

The spell is Flitwick's. It was used by Harry to stun Mad-Eye Moody.

8CodingHare6yI thought it was Flitwick's invention?
[-][anonymous]6y 0

Hm. Was hoping for a talking solution, expecting a combination of Transfiguration and science to feel gimmicky.

But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself, not even 100% sure this is going to be a good end.

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Is it my imagination, or is the community more eager to contribute ideas on how to help Voldemort than to contribute ideas on how to save Harry?

7Velorien6yIt's only fair. We've spent the last few days brainstorming ways to save Harry, and our work has paid off after a fashion. Now we have the leisure to reflect on the situation from a different angle.