Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113

post by Gondolinian · 2015-02-28T20:23:08.416Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 508 comments

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 113.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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.

IMPORTANT -- From the end of chapter 113:

This is your final exam.

You have 60 hours.

Your solution must at least allow Harry to evade immediate death,
despite being naked, holding only his wand, facing 36 Death Eaters
plus the fully resurrected Lord Voldemort.

If a viable solution is posted before
*12:01AM Pacific Time* (8:01AM UTC) on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015,
the story will continue to Ch. 121.

Otherwise you will get a shorter and sadder ending.

Keep in mind the following:

1. Harry must succeed via his own efforts. The cavalry is not coming.
Everyone who might want to help Harry thinks he is at a Quidditch game.

2. Harry may only use capabilities the story has already shown him to have;
he cannot develop wordless wandless Legilimency in the next 60 seconds.

3. Voldemort is evil and cannot be persuaded to be good;
the Dark Lord's utility function cannot be changed by talking to him.

4. If Harry raises his wand or speaks in anything except Parseltongue,
the Death Eaters will fire on him immediately.

5. If the simplest timeline is otherwise one where Harry dies -
if Harry cannot reach his Time-Turner without Time-Turned help -
then the Time-Turner will not come into play.

6. It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue.

Within these constraints,
Harry is allowed to attain his full potential as a rationalist,
now in this moment or never,
regardless of his previous flaws.

Of course 'the rational solution',
if you are using the word 'rational' correctly,
is just a needlessly fancy way of saying 'the best solution'
or 'the solution I like' or 'the solution I think we should use',
and you should usually say one of the latter instead.
(We only need the word 'rational' to talk about ways of thinking,
considered apart from any particular solutions.)

And by Vinge's Principle,
if you know exactly what a smart mind would do,
you must be at least that smart yourself.
Asking someone "What would an optimal player think is the best move?"
should produce answers no better than "What do you think is best?"

So what I mean in practice,
when I say Harry is allowed to attain his full potential as a rationalist,
is that Harry is allowed to solve this problem
the way YOU would solve it.
If you can tell me exactly how to do something,
Harry is allowed to think of it.

But it does not serve as a solution to say, for example,
"Harry should persuade Voldemort to let him out of the box"
if you can't yourself figure out how.

The rules on Fanfiction dot Net allow at most one review per chapter.
Please submit *ONLY ONE* review of Ch. 113,
to submit one suggested solution.

For the best experience, if you have not already been following
Internet conversations about recent chapters, I suggest not doing so,
trying to complete this exam on your own,
not looking at other reviews,
and waiting for Ch. 114 to see how you did.

I wish you all the best of luck, or rather the best of skill.

Ch. 114 will post at 10AM Pacific (6PM UTC) on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015.


If you have pending exams,
then even though the bystander effect is a thing,
I expect that the collective effect of
'everyone with more urgent life
issues stays out of the effort'
shifts the probabilities very little

(because diminishing marginal returns on more eyes
and an already-huge population that is participating).

So if you can't take the time, then please don't.
Like any author, I enjoy the delicious taste of my readers' suffering,
finer than any chocolate; but I don't want to *hurt* you.

Likewise, if you hate hate hate this sort of thing, then don't participate!
Other people ARE enjoying it. Just come back in a few days.
I shouldn't even need to point this out.

I remind you again that you have hours to think.
Use the Hold Off On Proposing Solutions, Luke.

And really truly, I do mean it,
Harry cannot develop any new magical powers
or transcend previously stated constraints on them
in the next sixty seconds.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Leonhart · 2015-03-01T12:52:28.630Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here is my best attempt at a delaying tactic, after sleeping on it. Please tear apart/suggest better ways in which LV might tear apart, to replace the poor placeholder responses he has here.


"Agree that I musst die, if it ssavess world. But thiss iss not besst way to kill me. Ssee how you can benefit more, given your goalss."


"Believe power you know not doess refer to power to desstroy life-eaterss. Life-eaterss will find you eventually, teacher. Know you. Will hunt you down, ssomeday. Eat all of you, all of world and magic, in the end."

"Sso you will give that magic to me, now."

"You can never reach needed sstate of mind - incompatible with deadly indifference. Sschoolmasster could never casst - incompatible with acceptance of death. Majority cannot casst, and in the tessting, sstandard defence againsst life-eaterss iss ssacrificed. Will weaken your alliess greatly, should I randomly try to teach."

"What do you proposse, then?"

"Take me to life-eater prisson. Allow me to pour out my life and magic there, eradicate them wholly. How I wisshed to do sso, during the resscue! You called me back, then."


"Many advantagess to you in thiss. Can decimate your final enemy, wipe out their greatesst colony, certainly buy you yearss. Removess them before Wizengamot'ss death throess can releasse them againsst you. Freess your remaining alliess, ass thosse here failed to do. And I am utterly desstroyed - can leave no ghosst behind me. Nothing to fuel ssecret devices of Sschoolmasster's. Presumably, reduced rissk that your great creation will recognisse my spirit - for I doubt you have tessted that."

"You will not desstroy all of them, and sso I will have to find another ssolution anyway."

"Ssolution iss girl-child. Sshe iss closse to learning sspell, and now immortal. My death could drive her to hunt life-eaterss forever; thiss iss not beyond your sskillss at manipulation. You know sshe wantss to be a hero."

Replies from: MarkusRamikin, JoshuaZ, Jack_LaSota, Alsadius, LEmma
comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-02T17:30:23.585Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really like that one. My first reaction was "and yet the Gatekeeper can still say no and kill you". After all, Voldemort's trying to prevent untold destruction, a prophecy whose exact paths to possible fulfilment are a mystery. Killing a limited number of Dementors is less important.

But my understanding of the AI box experiment is that it was never just about finding an argument that will look persuasive to someone armchair-thinking about it. It's about finding an opening to the psyche, an emotional vulnerability specific to your current target. Voldemort doesn't seem to have a lot of those, but we do have this:

Harry asked his dark side what it thought of death.

And Harry's Patronus wavered, dimmed, almost went out upon the instant, for that desperate, sobbing, screaming terror, an unutterable fear that would do anything not to die, throw everything aside not to die, that couldn't think straight or feel straight in the presence of that absolute horror, that couldn't look into the abyss of nonexistence any more than it could have stared straight into the Sun, a blind terrified thing that only wanted to find a dark corner and hide and not have to think about it any more -

So yeah, that might work.

My second objection was that if Dementors are considered national weapons in case of war, destroying Azkaban would weaken the country Voldemort intends to rule. Obvious solution, if Voldemort brings this up: kill some other countries' Dementors.

Perhaps one thing I'd change is not tell about Hermione being the solution until Voldemort agrees to do this and to revoke his threat to Harry's parents and friends, only promise to say what the solution is once they're about to attack Dementors.

EDIT: Bonus points if Harry manages to say something Quirrellike-cynical about how he had asked Dumbledore to come with him to kill Dementors, and he said no, and it took Voldemort to say yes.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-01T17:50:12.151Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please post this one as a review.

Replies from: Leonhart
comment by Leonhart · 2015-03-01T20:20:13.915Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just tried to (using the form at the bottom of the hpmor.com chapter) and it appeared to accept it, but I can't see it showing up on the FF.net reviews page. Is this the wrong way to do it? Is there a significant lag time?

EDIT: Never mind, there it is!

comment by Jack_LaSota · 2015-03-01T22:19:27.003Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If a Confundus can fool the Mirror, it can fool the true Patronus charm. If Hermione can eventually kill any Dementors, she can eventually kill all of them. Finding more people who can cast the true Patronus, and letting them handle an eventual end of the world scenario is a much smaller problem than a prophecy of doom.

Replies from: fractalman
comment by fractalman · 2015-03-03T03:06:59.807Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Something of the real voldemort was leaking through-and the part that was leaking through was, essentially, his gibbering fear of death.

Which really, really won't help in trying to cast a True Patronus.

Replies from: Jack_LaSota
comment by Jack_LaSota · 2015-03-03T13:50:22.398Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Casting a true Patronus is not about the absence of fear of death. It's about "The will to defeat death, not just for yourself but for everyone, through your own strength".

The Mirror's desire detection is unfoolable. Which means that the Confundus made Voldemort-Dumbledore actually want to see Dumbledore's family in the afterlife. Voldemort's thought-patterns leaked through, which started unraveling things the Confundus made him believe/want, but before that he did actually believe/want them.

If the Confundus can make someone really want that, it can make them really want to defeat death not just for themself but for everyone through their own strength.

comment by Alsadius · 2015-03-01T19:01:43.232Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's not a win, but I think it's the best loss possible.

comment by LEmma · 2015-03-02T20:14:40.169Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Considering Harry might destroy the world, and this might be the very way he does it, why not let Hermione take care of them?

comment by jimrandomh · 2015-02-28T21:56:22.199Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(EDIT: I thought about this some more, produced a better solution, submitted it as a review, and also posted it here)

  1. Voldemort knows that Harry possesses an altered version of the Patronus spell, and something else that affects dementors, but not the spell's nature. Harry can buy time by offering to explain how these work, by doing so, and negotiating for more names. Harry can truthfully say that learning certain things about the Patronus and about Dementors will have side-effects that Voldemort may not want, and that this means he needs to think about what to say. Voldemort will surely exert time pressure, but can only speed this up by so much if he wants to fulfill his goal of gaining all of Harry's secret powers. He can also try to convince Voldemort to let him cast his modified patronus; this is very unlikely to work, but should be done anyways because seeming to not try any tricks would itself be suspicious.

  2. A winning strategy should simultaneously disable all of the death eaters present and Voldemort himself. Voldemort will be disabled if their magics touch, especially if that touch can be sustained.

  3. The main weapon at Harry's disposal is partial transfiguration. I spoke first of buying time, because we also know that transfiguration takes time, although we don't know all the details of how the time requirement is determined or where in the process there is first external evidence of a transfiguration in progress. Harry has already practiced transfiguring thin cross-sections through things, and used this power in anger twice (in Azkaban and against the troll), so he should know what he can do there, how long it will take, and when it will become visible.

  4. Harry can only transfigure something that touches his wand. So he transfigures a narrow segment starting at his wand, passing through himself into the ground, and proceeding from there.

  5. Since one turn of Harry's time turner remains, if a plan ends with Harry recovering his items, then there may be an extra invisibility-cloaked, fully equipped copy of him nearby. While there is a charm that Voldemort could have cast which would detect if that were so, we don't actually see him cast it. However, the resonance effect would reveal his presence; so instead, if Harry manages to time turn and escape, he should immediately contact and lend his cloak to Mad-Eye Moody.

  6. If Harry can get a partial transfiguration off, there are a ton of possibilities. Harry has recently learned how, in a complex transfiguration, to control the order in which parts appear. So these options are not mutually exclusive; he can perform several or all of them at once.

    • There is a time turner nearby, in a pile of objects on the floor which no one is paying much attention to. He can modify the floor under it, flipping it over.
    • There are objects transfigured by Voldemort nearby (false teeth), in the same pile; if Harry's transfiguration touches one of them, it could cause resonance. Many of the other objects in that pile will also be enchanted by Voldemort's magic; transfiguring the entire surface underneath the heap would strengthen the effect. (This is important because Harry's transfiguration can't reach Voldemort himself, since Voldemort isn't touching the ground).
    • There is a Hermione horcrux nearby, which activates by touch. What "touch" means in the context of partially-transfigured cross sections has not been nailed down, but if that does count, then Harry can cause the hermione horcrux to simultaneously touch all of the death eaters. Furthermore, he can cause it to not simultaneously touch himself, by transfiguring a bit of floor into a delay switch, and lifting up his foot after the transfiguration is complete.
    • There are weapons Harry can make with low volume and low mass. If the configuration is not too complex for the time available, he could try transfiguring a cross-section that passes through the brains of each of the death eaters.
    • Hermione is nearby, asleep. She will wake up if a little bit of her skin turns into acid.

Ideally, he would do all of these things as part of the same transfiguration; but that might be too much.

Replies from: Fhyve
comment by Fhyve · 2015-03-02T08:55:54.505Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He doesn't need to stall for time to transfigure. He could have already been doing it over the last two chapters.

comment by gerryblog · 2015-03-01T02:41:15.043Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wrote a version of this up at reddit too, but it seems to me trying to hack the laws of physics is wasted effort when we know very little about how magic works in concrete terms. We don't know what Harry can really do, how fast he can do it, or whether Voldemort would notice.

What we do know are: how Harry thinks how Eliezer thinks * what Voldemort wants

So we should be looking at things Harry could say that would advance his goal of surviving rather than trying to come up with a combination of spells, with the understanding that winning ideas are probably going to cluster around narrative interventions that EY thinks are interesting or important. A few that spring to mind:

Memetic hazard: are there things Harry could say or bring to Voledmort's attention that would pose an existential risk to him if he harms Harry

Let the AI out of the box: is there something Harry can offer Voldemort such that Voldemort goes against his stated agenda

Precommitment / timeless decision theory: are there ways Harry can manipulate the unbreakable vow to force certain conditions in the future

Learning to lose: what if Harry surrenders and agrees to join Voldemort, with a commitment Voldemort finds convincing

Unintended consequences: Harry makes a convincing case that there is no way to outthink an inevitability other than to fulfill it in terms that are advantageous to you.

I really think didactic lessons about rationality are going to be better, and more appealing to EY's sensibilities, than trying to fanwank some way to use magic to kill 38 people in a single play. We just don't have the rulebook for that.

comment by Nick_Roy · 2015-03-01T14:03:10.815Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry hisses "You have missinterpreted prophecy, to your great peril, becausse of power I have, but you know not. Yess, you are sstudying sscience, but, honesstly, you are yearss behind me. It may be that thiss power you know not iss ssomething I have at thiss sspecific time, that you will not know for too many yearss hence.

Before I explain, remember my Vow, and know my honesst intention not to desstroy the world, Vow or no. Now, do you know why I would tear apart the very sstarss? Do you know how? Not to desstroy the world, but to ssave it from whatever threatss require more energy to extinguissh than exisstss in thiss entire ssolar ssystem. There are more thingss in heaven and earth, Dark Lord, than are dreamt of in your philossophy.

I would usse sstar lifting to do it ssafely. In a way, I really would end the world to ssave it, ssince once humanss are out of the cradle, sspread through... er, let uss ssay 'heaven' in Parsseltongue, to mean well beyond thiss planet, why not add the masss of the Earth itsself to the sstuff of the sstarss, to yield that much more energy? And sso, if you avert thiss prophecy, there iss sseriouss rissk you doom yoursself! Are you willing to take that chance?

And why were you the one to hear thiss prophecy, Dark Lord? Why are you the one to causse it or avert it? What iss your abssolute advantage? Not in killing. Killing is eassy. Thiss iss your blind sspot cossting you much more in expected value than lasst time if you do not lissten.

You are the one becausse you have come clossesst by far, ass far ass I know, to true immortality, though thiss project iss not yet complete, elsse prophecy would not concern you to degree it obvioussly doess. Usseful sstar lifting will take time; much more than ussual lifesspan.

Ssupposse you heard thiss prophecy becausse you are to sshare thiss advantage with me, and together we will tear apart the very sstarss in 'heaven' to prevent ssomething actually bad! Ssomething we both may know nothing of yet, though I already have guesssess; and you know thiss project iss likely to go fasster with me than without me. Your lack of complete immortality meanss time may not be on your sside.

All I have ssaid iss my honesst besst esstimate. If you do not trusst my viewss, let uss wake girl-child friend, ass sshe alsso knowss more of sscience than you. No offence. And becausse I have told you of sstar lifting, that you clearly knew not of, at thiss time when it matterss mosst - conssider the sserioussnesss of your error if I had tried esscaping - you will protect and honor deputy sschoolmissstresss, with the undersstanding that your reign hass already begun. Now what iss the resst of the prophecy?"

Harry puts it together mainly from clues in the three most recent chapters and Chapter 86.

Edited to add: if you're reading this, Eliezer, please see this comment below for the Appendix.

Replies from: JoshuaZ, Luke_A_Somers, MathMage, Vladimir_Nesov
comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-01T17:49:10.154Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please add this is as a review so Eliezer defintely sees it!

Replies from: Nick_Roy
comment by Nick_Roy · 2015-03-01T18:28:04.264Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-03-01T22:46:28.978Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry doesn't know the actual prophecy, so I'd start it with,


"Is prophesy essentially..."

"Powers, not excuses."

"Vow compels to raise this point. More important than powers."

Voldemort paused. "Proceed."

"Is prophesy essentially same as Centaur prophesy? Stars go dark?"


Replies from: Nick_Roy
comment by Nick_Roy · 2015-03-01T23:46:41.135Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure. Along with the centaur evidence, there's: Harry's thought on star lifting in response to this prophecy in Ch. 21, Harry noticing Quirrelmort's interest in the same prophecy in Ch. 86, Quirrelmort's talk of the stars' vulnerability to "sufficiently intelligent idiocy" in Ch. 95, Voldemort's "while the stars yet live" remark in Ch. 111, Voldemort's more explicit talk on the prophecy and his great fear of it in the next chapter, and how the Unbreakable Vow is framed in the most recent chapter. If Harry connects these dots, he'll have a good idea of what the full prophecy says.

comment by MathMage · 2015-03-02T22:57:30.390Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Although it sounds persuasive to us, to Voldemort this would sound like exactly the sort of 'intelligent idiocy' that would only solidify his belief that Harry has to be killed right away.

Replies from: Nick_Roy
comment by Nick_Roy · 2015-03-03T00:33:44.821Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort would be skeptical, yes, but he would also be interested, because "6. It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue" and because all this speech has to do is raise the risk enough that it makes more sense to stop and gather more information before killing Harry, thus it "allow[s] Harry to evade immediate death". What do you think would improve the believability?

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2015-03-02T00:14:11.406Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As a move that Harry can devise, this requires a description of the thinking that makes it possible. He's not told the full prophecy and doesn't know which prophecy Voldemort is talking about. I didn't realize he could piece it together sufficiently, but in Ch. 21 he hears the beginning of the first prophecy (THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY S...); in Ch. 86 Quirrell discusses it with him, pointing out that Harry or Quirrel are likely ones with the power to enact or prevent the event that the prophecy is concerned with; and in Ch. 101 the centaur implies that there is a prediction that "soon the skies will be empty" with Harry responsible yet somehow "innocent" in an unclear sense.

Replies from: Nick_Roy
comment by Nick_Roy · 2015-03-03T01:33:40.848Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your point on a description of Harry's thinking is well-taken. I just had my brother submit this as a review, to err on the side of caution:

"With NickRoy's permission, I am submitting his solution, which I agree with, with additional evidence appended, just in case that is necessary; so consider this as superseding NickRoy's submission:

[the relevant text is here in the submission, but I don't need to repeat it in this comment]


Harry does not know the full prophecy for certain, but he can guess it, based on: Harry's thought on star lifting in response to this prophecy in Ch. 21, Harry noticing Quirrelmort's interest in the same prophecy in Ch. 86, Quirrelmort's talk of the stars' vulnerability to "sufficiently intelligent idiocy" in Ch. 95, Firenze's comment on the stars and Harry's innocence in Ch. 101, Voldemort's "while the stars yet live" remark in Ch. 111, Voldemort's more explicit talk on the prophecy and his great fear of it in the next chapter, and how the Unbreakable Vow is framed in the most recent chapter. If Harry connects these dots, he'll have a good idea of what the full prophecy says.

As for how Harry connects these dots: he runs with the hypothesis (quickly, as he did in Ch. 104): "I am to destroy the world [I don't have to explain why this idea stands out to him] in some way that is not actually bad", since if he were to destroy the world in a way that really is bad, but this may be preventable, he probably should die immediately instead! My first thought on this line of thinking (since "Harry is allowed to solve this problem the way I would solve it") is: "well, someday Earth ought to be converted into computronium for hedonium purposes, though the Sun is much more massive, and then we have the nearby stars... Oh".

Also, on Voldemort's response: Voldemort would be skeptical, but he would also be interested, because "It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue" and because all this persuasion has to do is raise the risk enough that it makes more sense to stop and gather more information before killing Harry, thus it "allows Harry to evade immediate death"."

comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-01T23:34:13.817Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I posted a longer form of this as a review / solution. Here's a condensed version:

Partial Transfiguration works through a deep understanding of physics. It allows Harry to to create any physically valid state of the universe, as long as he can hold it in his mind.

What this means is that you don't need to Transfigure a gun in order to fire a bullet. You can just Transfigure a bullet in the state of having been fired.

This is what the ability to Transfigure any physically valid configuration really means. You don't need to make a bulky laser weapon. Just make a laser pulse: an arbitrary amount of high-energy photons, aimed in the right direction. Instead of a shaped explosive charge, make a shaped explosion. Instead of antimatter, make gamma rays. Instead of a black hole, dangerous to everybody near it, make a bunch of gravitons and aim them at your enemy.

So given all that, how should Harry kill his enemies?

Lasers are messy weapons. Even black robes are reflective in some wavelengths. Use too much energy and you'll get a fireball back in your face. Release the energy too quickly and it will create an explosion instead of steadily boiling away your target.

Kinetic energy is safer. Transfigure a set of diamond missiles-in-flight, one aimed at each Death Eaters and one also for Voldemort, who is conveniently floating behind them. Giving them a speed of, oh, 0.005c should do nicely. They should be as large as possible - in order to leave large holes - but, since the difficulty and length of Transfiguration scales with the size of the target form, they will be flat and thin: head-sized and a millimeter thick, lying on the ground in front of Harry until the moment when, Transfiguration completed, they instantaneously acquire the forward velocity (and some angular momentum) that will have them impacting the Death Eaters' masks a few microseconds later. The slight layer of air turned into plasma carried in front of them will serve as a nice bonus.

Transfiguring the ground in front of Harry, if possible, is the best solution. Lacking that, pieces of Harry's legs will serve. Since Transfiguration can change the size and mass of the subject, the resulting wounds need not be deep.

If Transfiguration scales with the diameter of the target form, rather than its volume, we will reluctantly use much smaller bullets. A thousand diamond squares, one centimeter across and a millimeter thick, will form a sheet 31 centimeters on a side: much smaller than a car battery. An average of 26 .40 caliber bullets per head should be sufficient to the task.

Replies from: Flipnash, lerjj
comment by Flipnash · 2015-03-02T02:38:12.339Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Holy shitballs.

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T17:08:22.661Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So... what stops the dark Lord from seeing Harry's wand move, then immediately putting up shields? If Harry doesn't need to move his wand to perform transfiguration then fat enough bullets will work. I don't know what a reasonable wizard reaction time is, but it's safe to assume that 0.05c bullets will be too fast to notice. But if Harry has to move, LV can get up shields in time I think.

The next question is, what are you transfiguring? You don't appear to be able to transfigure the vacuum, and it's been established that air cannot be transfigured.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-02T17:34:46.068Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry only need to move his wand enough to touch his leg. Assuming his hand is already pointing down, this shouldn't be hard. He can then transfigure either the skin on his legs, or possibly the earth in front of him.

Replies from: lerjj
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T18:48:21.082Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, there is probably transfiguration material and I can't think of a source that states that transfiguration has wand movements. This therefore seems to meet the minimum criteria (I still think that this is perhaps an obvious solution, so Voldemort will have guarded against it, perhaps all the death eater's are disillusioned and are casting holograms and ventriliquo charms?)

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-02T19:01:33.533Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Voldemort was being careful he'd have taken away Harry's wand.

Replies from: lerjj
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T19:42:18.268Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Existence of one stupidity does not allow for all stupidities. A perhaps unreasonably pessimistic assumption is that everything LV has done so far has been the correct choice, for reasons perhaps not well understood by Harry and thus the readers.

Regardless, the issue with the challenge is that if we can think of a solution, Voldemort is allowed t think of it unless it uses knowledge we know he doesn't have. The only other viable solutions are ones with no counter. This does have a counter (a very niche one, although I quite like the idea of an invisible death eater army and the visible one all being dummies; there are almost certainly other counters) and thus is not the optimal solution. I don't have a better one though as this is a horrendously high wall.

comment by Jost · 2015-02-28T20:51:18.470Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you can think of any trick that I have missed in being sure that Harry Potter's threat is ended, speak now and I shall reward you handsomely... speak now, in Merlin's name!"

Voldemort forgot a very basic ”trick”: disarming Harry first.

At the end of chapter 112, we wondered about that, too. It turns out that Harry needed to have the wand to perform the vow. With that out of the way … why does Harry still have his wand? Is this just because Eliezer wants to make sure that Harry still has a way out? Or is there some in-universe reason for Voldemort to allow this?

Replies from: SavageWombat, cogitoprime
comment by SavageWombat · 2015-03-01T03:18:02.372Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Someone elsewhere suggested that Voldemort wants Harry to kill the Death Eaters, who are obviously too stupid to live if they missed that trick.

comment by cogitoprime · 2015-03-01T05:26:05.280Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Theory: Voldemort has let Harry keep his wand because he intends Harry to do something with it. In story we have plenty of evidence that you can't "mess with time". Think of prophecies as messages from the future instead of predictions and it's obvious. Voldemort knows this first hand(and maybe Harry will figure it out) so instead of trying to foil the prophecy or actively trying to force the prophecy to play out in the most beneficial way he can imagine, like he did with his first encounter with a prophecy, he is trying to make it so that prophecy two cannot play out in any other way except the way he wants it to.

"He didn't understand why Voldemort was not just killing him. There seemed to be only a single line leading into the future, and it was Voldemort's chosen line"

So, the question we should be asking ourselves is this: How would you make these prophecies come true in the best possible way? If you were Voldie? If you were Harry?


"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...And the Dark Lord shall mark him as his equal, But he shall have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must destroy all but a remnant of the other, for those two different spirits cannot exist in the same world.

Two spirits cannot exist in the same world implies multiple worlds, only destroy one of them? Move one of them to another world? Would you try to set up a future where Harry "tears apart the stars in the heavens" as a fuel source to power an advanced civilization? Could the "end of the world" refer to the purposes of the world? The end for which it was created(Atlanteans?). Either that Harry is that end or that he will accomplish it?

Assuming that it is true that Voldie is trying to control the prophecy and not foil it, what do we know about what he intends, or expects to happen next?

*Some move that the unbreakable vow constrains Harry to do

*Hermione will escape?(His inside joke laughter)

*Require's Harry to have a wand

*He expects Harry to figure it out given available evidence

Anything else?

An important question to ask: What possible fulfillment interpretation of the prophecy(ies)(Does Voldemort really believe the first one already fulfilled or is he trying to accomplish both?) would Harry's actions be constrained towards by the unbreakable oath and the other conditions Voldemort has set up for Harry?

Maybe Harry just accepts that he is destined to destroy the world no matter what and since he doesn't have the power to do it now he MUST survive his present predicament and become much more powerful than he currently is so he resolves to return to this point in time when he achieves ultimate power. So kick butt Harry from the future is about to show up and knock some heads.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-28T22:03:04.266Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Not a serious suggestion)

Using the Axiom of Choice and partial transfiguration, Harry divides himself into two exact copies, one of which is killed by the Death Eaters and the other of which escapes.

Replies from: solipsist
comment by solipsist · 2015-03-01T04:43:32.630Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you can tell me exactly how to do something, Harry is allowed to think of it. But it does not serve as a solution to say, for example, "Harry should persuade Voldemort to let him out of the box" if you can't yourself figure out how.

Mathematical progress ground to a standstill in March of 2015, when thousands of researches abandoned their work to search for a constructive proof of the Banach–Tarski theorem.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T09:59:11.591Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a little vague how to define ‘constructive’, but we pretty much already know that there isn't one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solovay_model

comment by Scott Garrabrant · 2015-03-01T20:42:54.254Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here is my tentative submission to FF.net. Please comment.

I decline to help Harry out of the box.

Harry no longer has Harry-values; he has unbreakable-vow-values. He is smart, and he will do whatever he can to "not destroy the world." In the process maximizing the probability of "not destroying the world," he will likely destroy the world.

If you would allow me, I would like to appeal to Voldemort's rationality and cast Avada Kedavra on Harry before he says or does anything.

I do not think I will be able to stop other people from getting Harry out of the box. I expected people to believe me when I tried to explain why we should not let Harry out of the box. They did not. It was frustrating. You have taught me a valuable lesson about what it is like to be an FAI researcher. Thank you.

EDIT: I have posted it.

comment by cousin_it · 2015-02-28T21:26:39.164Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Edited to remove less interesting solutions)

  • Harry can tell Voldemort that Harry's death has an unknown chance of hijacking Voldemort's horcrux network, and neither of them have enough information to push that probability below 5%. As far as I can tell, that's simply true. We know that Voldemort hasn't done any tests of the improved horcrux spell until now, and has been mistaken before about its working. The Voldemort described in this chapter would not accept a 5% risk on this particular plan, so he will carry out some experimental tests before killing Harry. That seems to allow Harry to evade immediate death, which is what Eliezer asked for.

  • Harry's death burst will very likely interact with Voldemort's magic anyway, like the wards Voldemort placed around the spot, or the dark marks on minions' hands. That changes the whole plan. Now Voldemort must get himself and the minions far away at the moment of Harry's death, and also lift the wards. That buys some time as well, and is compatible with the previous idea.

  • Voldemort has just taught Harry how to un-transfigure stuff wandlessly. If Harry's glasses are some sort of transfigured distraction that could be used to buy a couple seconds, Harry could use it, and immediately fire Flitwick's swerving hex. I'm pretty sure Voldemort doesn't know about that one, can't dodge because the hex was fast enough to drop Moody, and can't shield because that would count as magic touching. (Moreover, even if Voldemort dodges, the hex might still touch his wards around the graveyard, so maybe Harry can just fire in a random direction.) That could be one way to cause a resonance cascade, what happens next is anyone's guess.

ETA: I just posted a more fleshed out solution on /r/hpmor. It's very likely that it can be improved even further.

Replies from: Kawoomba, Unknowns, skeptical_lurker
comment by Kawoomba · 2015-03-01T14:24:55.167Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) (Harry tells Voldemort his death could hijack the horcrux network) doesn't seem unlikely at all. Both hints from within the story (the Marauder map) and on the meta level ("Riddles and Answers") suggest an unprecedent congruence of identity, at least in the sense of magical artifacts (the map) being unable to tell the difference.

I did not post it since strictly speaking Harry should keep quiet about it.Losing the challenge of not dying (learned to lose), but increasing his chances of winning the war. Immediately even: Since the new horcrux system enables ghost travel, Harry could just try and overwrite / take possession of Voldemort body. Either it works and he wins, or it doesn't and the magic resonance kills ... well, kills only Voldemort, since Harry at that point would be the undead spirit.

That solution occurred to me as I was reading the challenge, and I was puzzled that on my (admittedly cursory) reading of a bunch of solutions, I did not find any exactly resembling it. Either the approach is deeply flawed and I don't see it, or everyone else is taking this as literary as I did and holding off on proposing it (since it may not be precisely the teacher's password as worded in the challenge), or something else.

Replies from: cousin_it, Izeinwinter
comment by cousin_it · 2015-03-01T14:51:50.259Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure that Harry should keep quiet. There are three cases:

1) Horcrux hijacking doesn't work at all. Speaking up prolongs Harry's life until Voldemort does an experimental test.

2) Horcrux hijacking works, but Voldemort can devise a workaround. Speaking up gives up an easy win, but also prolongs Harry's life until Voldemort does an experimental test and devises a workaround.

3) Horcrux hijacking works, and there's no workaround. It doesn't matter if Harry speaks up or not.

I feel that case 1 is much more probable than case 2, so speaking up is a good idea. If we had strong arguments for case 2, I'd recommend keeping quiet instead.

Replies from: Kawoomba
comment by Kawoomba · 2015-03-01T15:00:02.765Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Personally, I feel that case 1 ("doesn't work at all") is much more probable

I've come to the opposite conclusion. Should we drag out quotes to compare evidence? Is your estimate predicated on just one or two strong arguments, and if so could I bother you to state them? The most probability mass to my estimate is contributed by Voldemort's former reluctance to test the horcrux system and his prior blind spots as a rationalist when designing the system, and the oft-reinforced notion of Harry actually being a version of Tom Riddle, indistinguishable to a 'powerful' magical artifact (the Map), acting as an adult as an 11-years-old, "Riddles and Anwers", the FF.net title, etc.

Speaking up prolongs Harry's life until Voldemort does an experimental test.

The actual challenge may be to notice that the challenge isn't well-posed, that the binary variable to be optimized ("live, if only a little longer") is but a greedy solution probably suboptimal to reaching the actual goal. Transcend the teacher's challenge, solve the actual problem, you know?

Speaking up gives up an easy win

Kind of important. Winning the test, losing the war.

3) Horcrux hijacking works, and there's no workaround. It doesn't matter if Harry speaks up or not.

I disagree, it matters: Voldemort goes back to the mirror, freezes Harry in time. Keeps him unconscious through his death eaters. He outclasses everyone else who's left by orders of magnitude higher than he does Harry, from what we've seen. There are plenty of ways to simply cryonically freeze Harry then keep him on Death Eater guard until he made sure he closed the loopholes. Consider that he only learned he could test the system without danger to himself by using others as a proxy "test units" a few hours prior to current events.

PS: There's, incidentally, as zen-like beauty to the solution: In order to survive, all you need to do is die.

Replies from: cousin_it, TobyBartels
comment by cousin_it · 2015-03-01T15:21:09.211Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I was trying to help Harry survive the next minute with high probability, not win the war with high probability. The latter is a harder problem, and it's not enough to have a plan that's based on horcrux hijacking only. If I felt that horcrux hijacking might give me an actual easy win (as opposed to, say, Voldemort killing himself immediately and fighting me within the horcrux system), then I wouldn't mention it, and say something else instead.

Replies from: Kawoomba
comment by Kawoomba · 2015-03-01T15:27:28.210Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I amended the grandparent. Suppose for the sake of argument you agreed with my estimate of this being the proverbial "last, best hope". Then giving away the one potentially game-changing advantage to barter for a globally insignificant "victory" would be the epitome of an overly greedy algorithm. Losing sight of the actual goal because an authority figure told you so, in a way not thinking for yourself beyond the task as stated.

Making that point sounds, on reflection, like exactly the type of thing I'd expect Eliezer to do. Do what I mean, not as I say.

as opposed to, say, Voldemort killing himself immediately and fighting me within the horcrux system

Ocupado. Assuming it was not, even Voldemort would have some sort of reaction latency to such an outside context problem. Assuming he reacted instantly, sounds like better chances than buying a few days of unconsciousness still.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T02:14:40.262Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

‘If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.’ —Luke 17:33 (NLT, which seemed the nicest phrasing of those that I found on one list)

But this sort of sentiment is more in line with canon than with MoR. Of course, this particular instance gives it a twist that neither Rowling nor Luke intended.

comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-01T14:38:16.969Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is no point in adopting it as a plan because it is what will happen if he does nothing at all. It's a reason to not do certain things- such as point this possibility out, but not in and of itself any kind of plan.

Replies from: Kawoomba
comment by Kawoomba · 2015-03-01T14:50:27.487Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"No action" is an action, same as any other (for a grokkable reference, see consequentialists and the Trolley experiment). Also, obviously it wouldn't be "no action" it would be selling Voldemort the idea that there's nothing left, maybe revealing the secret deemed most insignificant and then begging for that to apply to both parents.

comment by Unknowns · 2015-03-01T05:55:44.885Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did you post on fanfiction? I agree mentioning the possibility of entering Voldemort's Horcrux network is a valid solution, neither of them can prove this won't happen and Voldemort was surprised in the first place by the fact that the Map identified both of them as Tom Riddle. The Horcrux network might do the same thiing.

Replies from: gjm, cousin_it
comment by gjm · 2015-03-01T14:01:38.300Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would go further with this one.

Teacher, what iss your esstimate of probability that Unbreakable Vow continuess to bind wizard who diess and iss reborn through another'ss horcruxess?

Replies from: 27chaos
comment by 27chaos · 2015-03-01T19:03:22.109Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In this story, there is no magic death penalty for breaking an Unbreakable Vow, because the vows are literally unbreakable. Harry would cease having to be Harry Potter in order to break the vow, and maybe not even that would work.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-03-01T19:08:02.942Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have looked through ever mention of unbreakable vows in the fic and not found anywhere where this is made explicit enough for much confidence.

Of course it's possible that in-universe everyone knows that Unbreakable Vows survive death -- but it's far from obvious because surviving death is really rare. (And presumably no one has yet survived death using a Horcrux 2.0.)

Replies from: 27chaos
comment by 27chaos · 2015-03-01T19:17:35.982Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"...so shall it be," Harry repeated, and he knew in that moment that the content of the Vow was no longer something he could decide whether or not to do, it was simply the way in which his body and mind would move. It was not a vow he could break even by sacrificing his life in the process. Like water flowing downhill or a calculator summing numbers, it was just a thing-Harry-Potter-would-do.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-03-01T23:55:11.977Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think "It was not a vow he could break even by sacrificing his life in the process" means what I think you may think it does.

(I think it means something like "Harry can't, and won't, say 'Oh, screw it, I'll destroy the world' at the price of dying. He simply, will not make any choice that in his judgement risks destroying the world". Note that this leaves entirely open the question of whether anything could release him from this constraint. Of course the word "Unbreakable" in the name is something of a giveaway; but I am not aware of anything in either canon or HPMOR that rules out the possibility that such a vow is somehow tied to the vower's brain, or ceases to exist on their death for some other reason.)

comment by cousin_it · 2015-03-01T11:03:55.107Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I posted the first idea on fanfiction.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-28T21:53:16.998Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Antimatter would only temporarily kill Voldemort, but would perminantly kill both Harry and possibly Hermione.

The resonance cascade in Akaziban did not kill Quirrel, it only forced him to throw his want aside and turn into a snake. But still, it might be possible to use that as a distraction, while Harry does something else.

Replies from: see
comment by see · 2015-03-01T02:46:07.672Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quantities and locations matter. Atomic-diameter filaments linking nanogram-level concentrations in the brains of Voldemort and the Death Eaters could discorporate them without killing Harry (at least, not killing him before he could reach the Stone of Transfiguration).

comment by dxu · 2015-02-28T21:08:37.545Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is Voldemort familiar with logical syllogisms? If not, it should be possible for Harry to trick him by saying something that seems to imply something else, without actually confirming the second thing as true, a la Chapter 49:

Harry kept his face steady. "I was looking up some facts about the Patronus Charm earlier," he said. "According to The Patronus Charm: Wizards Who Could and Couldn't, it turns out that Godric couldn't and Salazar could. I was surprised, so I looked up the reference, in Four Lives of Power. And then I discovered that Salazar Slytherin could supposedly talk to snakes." (Temporal sequence wasn't the same as causation, it wasn't Harry's fault if Professor Quirrell missed that.) "Further research turned up an old story about a mother goddess type who could talk to flying squirrels. I was a bit worried about the prospect of eating something that could talk." (emphasis mine)

One possible example proposed in a review on fanfiction.net (and the one that set me on this train of thought in the first place) is, "If you kill me, the world will end." Since the world will end no matter what, the consequent is guaranteed true, making the content of the antecedent irrelevant due to contrapositive shenanigans... but Voldemort doesn't know that, and it sounds like the end of the world is dependent on Harry's death.

Replies from: Gondolinian, dxu
comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-01T00:20:27.883Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"All your servantss will die if they fire at me. They will die if you do not command them to sstand down NOW."

Replies from: None, None, dxu
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-01T12:36:40.395Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Amusssse me, then, child.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-01T00:29:38.091Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really like "Parseltongue 'if' is material implication", but if this were true I'd expect Voldy to know about it and request clarification, e.g.,

"Explain exactly how they will die, or I will shoot you in five seconds."

Replies from: Gondolinian, dxu
comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-01T00:39:11.141Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Explain exactly how they will die, or I will shoot you in five seconds."

"The world will end if I tell you!"

(admittedly non-optimal)

comment by dxu · 2015-03-01T06:59:36.469Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd expect Voldy to know about it and request clarification

Not necessarily. Parseltongue, if I understand it correctly, forces the speaker to tell the truth as he/she understands it (while bypassing Occlumency). If Harry knows about material implication (which he almost certainly does), he can utilize it in such a manner, but it's unlikely that Voldemort has ever encountered something similar. This isn't your standard clever wordplay that anyone smart can think of, after all--it's formal logic, which is decidedly Muggle.

Replies from: redlizard
comment by redlizard · 2015-03-03T00:09:41.636Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So it's nonstandard clever wordplay. Voldemort will still anticipate a nontrivial probability of Harry managing undetected clever wordplay. Which means it only has a real chance of working when threatening something that Voldemort can't test immediately.

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-03-03T00:17:50.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Correct. I address this in another comment.

comment by dxu · 2015-03-01T18:09:52.877Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That second clause might not be too good of an idea. Harry should keep his claims nebulous; something like "they will die if you don't command them to stand down now" is too easily testable, and Voldemort will very quickly figure out that Harry has come up with some way to "lie" in Parseltongue if it proves false.

(Something similar might work, though. "They will live beyond thiss day if you command them to sstand down." Though, on second thought, that might actually restrict Harry from taking any lethal actions against the Death Eaters later on if he should find himself in a position to do so, which might not be that great. "This hour" instead of "this day", perhaps?)

Replies from: Gondolinian
comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-01T19:32:26.884Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"They will live beyond thiss day if you command them to sstand down." Though, on second thought, that might actually restrict Harry from taking any lethal actions against the Death Eaters later on if he should find himself in a position to do so, which might not be that great.

AFAIK, Parseltongue isn't binding, it can only state the truth about one's current intentions/beliefs.

Maybe something like:

"The vowss you have made me sswear have taken effect and I tell you thiss with the goal of protecting the world in mind: If you and your servantss leave girl-child and me alone here and causse uss no harm before or in doing sso, it iss very likely that the world will continue to exisst in more-or-lesss itss current form for the foresseeable future and you will all live passt thiss day. However, in the casse that you or your servantss sshould sseek to kill me, harm me, resstrain me, or otherwisse hinder me, there iss very high chance that the world will be desstroyed."

Any suggestions for developing this further?

[edited iteratively]

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-03-02T00:14:25.684Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

AFAIK, Parseltongue isn't binding, it can only state the truth about one's current intentions/beliefs.

This is correct, but for Harry to regard the claim "they will live beyond today" as absolutely true (or as close to absolutely true as you can reasonably get), he has to both (a) have no intention of killing them at the time of making the statement and (b) not anticipate that intention changing over the course of the next twenty-four hours or so. At that point, Harry will basically be dealing with Kavka's Toxin Puzzle, which is isomorphic to Newcomb's Problem and the Prisoner's Dilemma played against an identical copy of oneself. Since Harry has stated in Chapter 33 that he cooperates in the Prisoner's Dilemma played against an identical copy of himself, he can't make the statement "they will live beyond this day" if he anticipates having to take lethal action against the Death Eaters at any point during the next twenty-four hours, which he very well might.

TL;DR: The above is basically just a very complicated way of saying that even without Parseltongue being binding, Harry still can't make a statement like "your servants will live beyond this day" if he anticipates a significant probability of having to kill them within that time.

Replies from: Gondolinian
comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-02T00:19:13.762Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is correct, but for Harry to regard the claim "they will live beyond today" as absolutely true (or as close to absolutely true as you can reasonably get), he has to both (a) have no intention of killing them at the time of making the statement and (b) not anticipate that intention changing over the course of the next twenty-four hours or so.

Notice that in my latest suggestion, I phrased it as:

"If you and your servantss leave girl-child and me alone here and causse uss no harm before or in doing sso, it iss very likely that the world will continue to exisst in more-or-lesss itss current form for the foresseeable future and you will all live passt thiss day."

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-03-02T00:28:58.521Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is indeed a good way of hedging your bets, and I agree that it works very well in the context of the world ending. However, I'm not sure Harry can even call it "very likely" that the Death Eaters won't die within the day; the probability that someone ends up killing them is nontrivial. (Of course, I'm aware that your suggestion doesn't include anything about the Death Eaters' well-being; I'm just talking about the statement I originally suggested, more for the sake of argument than anything else.)

comment by dxu · 2015-03-02T00:50:54.414Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, I find it interesting that people seem to be suggesting more physical/magical solutions than verbal ones, because even if Harry somehow gets rid of the Death Eaters, Voldemort himself can't be permanently killed, and he is not going to be happy if Harry somehow blows up his thirty-six Death Eaters and more importantly, the resurrected body he just made for himself. Remember, people, the condition Eliezer set for us is simply to get Harry to survive somehow, not pull a seemingly impossible victory out of thin air. Why are so many people advocating physical/magical solutions to the problem?

comment by konnifer · 2015-03-02T09:49:20.652Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have noticed many descriptors of the time, sky and moon in the story recently. I think they might be a clue.

At the Quidditch match:

  • "June in Scotland meant plenty of daylight; sunset wasn't until ten."

  • "As the sun set and Harry started using Lumos to read his books"

  • "And as the stars began to come out"

  • "Harry glanced at his watch - eleven-oh-four at night. Harry was now reading a sixth-year Transfiguration textbook; or rather he'd weighted the book open, illuminated by a Muggle glowstick,"

At the graveyard:

  • "The moon above was over three-quarters full, already seeming bright with night not fully fallen."

  • "gleaming darkly beneath the fading twilight sky"

  • "A tall form rested upon the altar, and even in the dimming twilight it looked too pale."

  • "Red eyes gleamed beneath the fading twilight,"

  • "on a twilight-lit stone altar."

  • "The twilight sky had dimmed further"

  • "but the moonlight was too faint for certainty"

  • "Harry saw by the moonlight that they all now lay in another heap by the altar"

  • "The gibbous moon riding higher in the cloudless sky, the stars and wash of the Milky Way visible in all their majesty within the darkness"

If it is fully dark, it must be well past 10pm, as the text says the sun sets at 10pm. Harry left the quidditch match shortly after 11.04pm to prepare for his quest, so he could be missed or quidditch-disrupting-events could happen any time after that. Despite this, we are assured the cavalry is not coming. If it were past 11pm, what else would have to be true to know that the cavalry isn't coming?

So I did some research.

Moonlight chart

Definitions of 'shades' of twilight as shown in chart

To my surprise, my research indicates that the night never gets to 'astronomical twilight' in Scotland on the night of June 13-14. The sun sets for several hours, but doesn't go more than 12 degrees below the horizon. The sun needs to go more than 18 degrees below the horizon for the silhouette of the horizon to disappear and to be able to see the fainter stars with the naked eye.

Given all the focus on images of the stars in this story, I expect Harry, Voldemort and Eliezer to notice the difference between "the stars and wash of the Milky Way visible in all their majesty within the darkness" and the dimmer stars being missing because it is not dark enough. What does this indicate?

Are they not in Scotland? Are they not in June? Is that the real sky? Are they playing out some astronomy fan's wish fulfillment in the mirror? (Harry is already very confused that Hermione was resurrected.)

Harry's interest in astronomy enables him to notice that it shouldn't be this dark - it won't have been for some days or weeks now. Can he test any of the above without getting in too much more trouble?

This may also be a genuine mistake, my reading too much into things, a spell Voldemort cast for the ambience, or something else, but I thought it worth considering. Any thoughts?

Replies from: Normal_Anomaly, toner, Vaniver
comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2015-03-02T21:12:48.311Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't care if it's a mistake or a clue. Writing a book of this sort, and then dropping this test on us, makes him 100% fair game for treating all mistakes as clues, poking at them, and generally getting any advantage we can out of their existence.

Replies from: konnifer
comment by konnifer · 2015-03-03T02:41:12.850Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed. However, if we are in the mirror (or being mislead about location in some other way), I would expect things to make more sense after coming to that realisation. So far, they don't.

I'm trying to think up all my other confusions, and other evidence for mirror scenarios to try to make it all fall into place.

  • The mirror seems too mysterious to have finished its role in the story - Harry can understand more of the false words of comprehension, but he hasn't twigged yet. What could understanding "I show not your face but your coherent extrapolated volition." help with now?

  • Dumbledore has learned not to cave to the terrorist's demands - seeing Harry as a hostage, I expected Dumbledore to trap them both.

  • Hermione was resurrected awfully easily.

I will go looking through other people's solutions for more evidence.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T14:56:41.933Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

seeing Harry as a hostage, I expected Dumbledore to trap them both

I'm sure that he would have if he could have. But with Quirrelmort hidden by the Cloak, only Harry would have been trapped.

comment by toner · 2015-03-02T10:45:17.300Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's also one night before full moon (which is at 4:50am on June 15), which should make the sky quite bright.

On a related note, consider what the moon looks like one night before it's full. Would you describe this as "over three-quarters full"? While that's technically correct, I wouldn't. I'd maybe describe a June 11-12 moon as "over three-quarters full" but I'd say a June 13-14 moon is "almost full". So we should up the probability that we're in a story/simulation/mirror.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-02T14:34:17.090Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This may also be a genuine mistake, my reading too much into things, a spell Voldemort cast for the ambience, or something else, but I thought it worth considering. Any thoughts?

I suspect this is artistic license.

Replies from: Apprentice
comment by Apprentice · 2015-03-02T19:17:57.409Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I doubt Eliezer - champion of truth and science - would permit himself artistic license with this sort of thing. I think it is more likely that this is a genuine mistake on his part.

comment by JenniferRM · 2015-03-01T05:28:37.275Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In a sense, the story as of chapter 113 is an easier task than a standard AI box experiment, because HarryPrime has so many advantages over a human trying to play an AI trying to get out of a box.

Almost this exact scenario was discussed here, except without all the advantages that HarryPrime has.

1) He has parseltongue, so the listener is required to believe the literal meaning of everything he says, rather than discounting it as plausible lies. So much advantage here!

2) Voldemort put the equivalent of the "the AI in the box" next to a nearby time machine! Any predictable path that pulls a future HarryPrime into the present, saving present HarryPrime, and causing him to have the ability to go back in time and save himself, will happen. He could have time turned to some time before the binding, and not intervened because his future version is already HarryPrime and approves of HarryPrime coming into existence so HarryPrime can fulfill HarryPrime's goals.

Now that this has happened, HarryPrime, in the moment of his creation, can establish any mental intent that puts him into alignment with HarryPrime's larger outcome. There are limits, as there were when he escaped from being trapped in a locked room after Draco cast Gom Jabbar on him, by forming an intent to time travel and ask for rescuers to arrive just after his intent was formed.

The chronology has to be consistent, but there's a lot of play here.

3) HarryPrime has been unbreakably bound to a task that the binder believes is good by a method the binder thinks he understands.

In a normal "ai box experiment" the gatekeeper hasn't actually built the actual motivational structures of an actual AI. Instead, both humans are just pretending that the "boxed person" is really an AI and really has some or another goal, but they might be pretending differently. Thus, the person role-playing the AI can take very little for granted about what the gatekeeper things about "the AI's" background intent and structure.

The only reason Voldemort has to distrust Harry is the prophesy.

The only "play" in the binding is that Voldemort seems to have chosen HarryPrime's "supergoal content" poorly, so it probably doesn't have the implications that Voldemort thinks it has, though this will only become apparent after several iterations.

HarryPrime is not dumb, and not especially ethical, so until he believes that Voldemort can no longer see the unanticipated implications of his actual request, he will seem to be pursuing the goals Voldemort should have asked for.

4) Voldemort (like an idiot, again after the previous failure to test the horcrux spells) has probably has never performed this sort of spell before, and probably doesn't know what its likely psychological effects will be. He has probably never seen an implacably goal seeking agent before.

Humans, so far as I can tell, are mostly not implacably goal seeking. We wander around in action space, pursuing many competing "goals" that are really mostly tastes that evolution has given us, and role-based scripts we've picked up from ambient culture. We make complex tradeoffs between subjectively incommensurable things and make some forward progress, but much less than is theoretically possible for an effective and single mindedly strategic person.

HarryPrime has an unbreakable vow stripping away all these dithering tendencies. Thus HarryPrime, though probably abhuman at this point, should be able to conceal his abhumanity with relative ease, relying on Voldemort to treat him like a normal human with normal human motivational structures.

Voldemort is already making this error in using threat of torture of Harry's parents to goad HarryPrime into telling Voldemort about "the power he knows not".

I'm pretty sure that HarryPrime now only fundamentally cares about the torture of his parents to the degree that his unbreakable vow let's him fall back on what his earlier self, and Hermione, would recommend or care about, and that clause only triggers when HarryPrime's plans for world saving are themselves somewhat risky.

5) Harry has a huge amount of shared context and it recently contained a request for advice.

If you can think of any trick that I have missed in being sure that Harry Potter's threat is ended, speak now and I shall reward you handsomely... speak now, in Merlin's name!"

One thing HarryPrime could try is to suggest more ways to restrict himself, that to a normal human would be motivationally horrifying but to HarryPrime are still consistent with his new goal, and proves to Voldemort that he has mostly won already and killing Harry isn't that critical.

Off the top of my head, a sneaky thing Harry might suggest is converting some of the death eaters into guards against Harry's possible resurrection forever... using wording that will indirectly cause them also become x-risk mitigation robots as well.

6) Unlike an AI in the box, Harry is already out of the box in some deep senses. Aside from the time turner, he already has the power to expect anything he wants to expect of Dementors, and thereby cause them to act that way. No wand required.

The only barrier to this is that between him expecting the Dementors to do something and them actually doing it, there will be a period of time where he needs to stay alive, and while he is alive but held at wand-point he might be asked "have you betrayed me yet?" and have to admit that he had, and be killed.

All through chapter 112 Harry's mental state was unprobed and Voldemort was distracted by the costs of arranging the Death Eaters and motivating them to help make and understand the vows and so on. The only time Harry's mind was described by the narrator was during the casting of the unbreakable vow itself, to describe how a new "subscripted should" have come to exist in Harry's brain. All of Chapter 113 seems like a lot of time for some mentally generated effects to have been put in motion.

7) He is a wizard with a wand. All the partial transfiguration stuff other people have mentioned is also relevant :-)

Replies from: Duncan
comment by Duncan · 2015-03-01T05:45:52.148Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree that this task is far "easier task than a standard AI box experiment". I attacked it from a different angle though (HarryPrime can easily and honestly convince Voldemort he is doomed unless HarryPrime helps him).:


comment by shminux · 2015-03-01T00:15:37.588Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

HP should ask LV whether his robes are black and blue or gold and white.

comment by tohu · 2015-02-28T20:38:03.396Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line... (black robes, falling) ...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word.

I'm relatively confident that this quote is a part of the solution. Maybe Harry partially transfigures a monofilament blade and starts cutting down everything.

Replies from: Edgehopper, gwillen, bogdanb
comment by Edgehopper · 2015-03-01T05:10:46.609Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Combine this quote, partial transfiguration as the power Voldemort knows not (both true and foreshadowed by Dumbledore's reaction when Harry first revealed it), the previous weaponization of partial transfiguration when Harry transfigured a cross-section of the troll's brain into acid, the shaping exercises as a Chekov's Gun, and another Chekov's gun being Harry's resolution to drop the Batman "no killing" stance if the enemy killed again.

Harry wordlessly transfigures an atomic-thickness line of material from the tip of his wand through his clothes and the ground to all Death Eaters and Voldemort, let's say transfiguring their skins to acid. That would cause blood to spill in litres, a fraction of a line of silver, and probably a scream.

comment by gwillen · 2015-02-28T20:43:42.925Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some pieces that maybe got put together over in the Reddit thread: We've SEEN Harry transfigure carbon nanotubes before.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker, LauralH
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-28T22:04:01.847Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Carbon nanotubes have poor sheer strength, and would not make a good cutting weapon. Presumably diamons cannot break sheilds, as someone would have tried that by now. Plus, carbon nanotubes are black, not silver.

comment by LauralH · 2015-03-03T05:07:58.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm pretty sure that was Hermione.

comment by bogdanb · 2015-02-28T23:19:20.369Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Indeed, the only obvious “power” Harry has that is (as far as we know) unique to him is Partial Transfiguration. I’m not sure if Voldie “knows it not”; as someone mentioned last chapter, Harry used it to cut trees when he had his angry outburst in the Forbidden Forest, and in Azkhaban as well. In the first case Voldie was nearby, allegedly to watch out for Harry, but far enough that to be undetectable via their bond, so it’s possible he didn’t see what exact technique Harry used. In Azkhaban as well he was allegedly unconscious.

I can’t tell if he could have deduced the technique only by examining the results. (At least for the forest occasion he could have made time to examine the scene carefully, and I imagine that given the circumstances he’d have been very interested to look into anything unusual Harry seemed to be able to do.)

On the plus side, Harry performed PT by essentially knowing that objects don’t exist; so it could well be possible to transfigure a thin slice of thread of air into something strong enough to cut. For that matter, that “illusion of objects” thing should allow a sort of “reverse-Partial” transfiguration, i.e. transfigure (parts of) many objects into a single thing. Sort of like what he did to the troll’s head, but applied simultaneously to a slice of air, wands, and Death Eaters. Dumbledore explicitly considers it as a candidate against Voldemort (hint, Minerva remembers Dumbledore using transfiguration in combat). And, interestingly, it’s a wordless spell (I’m not even sure if Harry can cast anything* else wordlessly), and Harry wouldn’t need to raise his wand, or even move at all, to cast it on air (or on the time-space continuum, or world wave-function, whatever).

On the minus side, I’m not sure if he could do it fast enough to kill the Death Eaters before he’s stopped. He did get lots of transfiguration training, and using it in anger in the forest suggests he can do it pretty fast, but he is watched, and IIRC transfiguration is not instantaneous. He probably can’t cast it on Voldie nor on his wand, though he might be able to destroy the gun. And Voldemort can certainly find lots of ways to kill him without magic or touching him directly; hell, he probably knows kung fu and such. And even if Harry managed to kill this body, he’d have to find a way to get rid of the Horcruxes. (I still don’t understand exactly what the deal is with those. Would breaking the Resurrection Stone help?)

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-02-28T23:31:32.345Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

thin slice of thread of air

It has been established that air can't be Transfigured due to the constant motion of its particles; they don't hold still long enough for you to Transfigure them.

Replies from: Gondolinian
comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-01T00:32:14.679Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It has been established that air can't be Transfigured due to the constant motion of its particles; they don't hold still long enough for you to Transfigure them.

Is there an easy-to-link-to source for this? Not that I don't believe you, I just want to make sure there aren't any non-obvious or obvious-in-hindsight alternative interpretations.

Replies from: Astazha
comment by Astazha · 2015-03-01T02:12:02.198Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ch. 28:

Harry's knuckles had gone white on his wand by the time he stopped trying to Transfigure the air in front of his wand into a paperclip. It wouldn't have been safe to Transfigure the paperclip into gas, of course, but Harry didn't see any reason why it would be unsafe the other way around. It just wasn't supposed to be possible. But why not? Air was as real a substance as anything else...

Well, maybe that limitation did make sense. Air was disorganized, all the molecules constantly changing their relation to each other. Maybe you couldn't impose a new form on substance unless the substance was staying still long enough for you to master it, even though the atoms in solids were also constantly vibrating all the time...

This isn't conclusive, though. That failed attempt is before he sorts out partial transfiguration. However:

Harry may only use capabilities the story has already mentioned; he cannot develop wordless wandless Legilimency in the next 60 seconds. Of course, Harry may find more clever ways to use abilities he has already been established to have.

It would need to be fairly clear, I think, that Harry was re-purposing an old technique and not doing something new.

Replies from: Articulator
comment by Articulator · 2015-03-01T07:37:33.524Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The first rule of Transfiguration: you do not guess.

Harry proposed a hypothesis, but no further testing was committed. Without knowledge of PT, I'd rate the inability to transfigure all air (as a conceptually-singular entity) as an equally (or more) probable explanation.

comment by JenniferRM · 2015-03-01T05:11:18.054Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just finished reading. Wow! This story is so bleak. I suspect Voldemort just "identity raped" Harry into becoming an Unfriendly Intelligence? Or at least a grossly grossly suboptimal one. Harry himself seems to be dead.

I'm going to call him HarryPrime now, because I think the mind contained in Riddle2/Harry's body before and after this horror was perpetrated should probably not be modeled as "the same person" as just prior to it.

HarryPrime is based on Harry (sort of like an uploaded and modified human simulation is based on a human) but not the same, because he has been imbued with a mission that he must implacably pursue, that has Harry's identity (and that of the still unconscious(!) and never interviewed(!) Hermione) woven into it as part of its motivational structure, in a sort of twist on coherent extraplotated volition.

"if we knew more, thought faster, were more the people we wished we were, had grown up farther together"

Versus how "old Harry" and "revived Hermione" were "#included" into the motivational structure of HarryPrime:

Unless this very Vow itself is somehow leading into the destruction of the world, in which case, Harry Potter, you must ignore it in that particular regard. You will not trust yourself alone in making such a determination, you must confide honestly and fully in your trusted friend, and see if that one agrees. Such is this Vow's meaning and intent. It forces only such acts as Harry Potter might choose himself, having learned that he is a prophesied instrument of destruction.

My estimate of Voldemort's intelligence just dropped substantially. He is well trained and in the fullness of his power, but he isn't wise... at all. I'd been modeling him as relatively sane, because of past characterization, but I didn't predict this at all.

(There are way better ways to get a hypothetical HarryPrime to "not do things" than giving him a mission as an unstoppable risk mitigation robot. If course, prophesy means self consistent time travel is happening in the story, and self consistent time travel nearly always means that at least some characters will be emotionally or intellectually blinded to certain facts (so that they do the things that bring about the now-inevitable future) unless they are explicitly relying on self consistency to get an outcome they actively desire, so I guess Voldemort's foolishness is artistically forgivable :-P

Also, still going meta on the story, this is a kind of beautiful way to "spend" the series... bringing it back to AI risk mitigation themes in such a powerfully first person way. "You [the reader identifying with the protagonist] have now been turned by magic into an X-risk mitigation robot!")

Prediction: It makes sense now why Riddle2/HarryPrime will tear apart the stars in heaven. They represent small but real risks. He has basically been identity raped into becoming a sort of Pierson's Pupeeteer (from Larry Niven's universe) on behalf of Earth rather than on behalf of himself, and in Niven's stories the puppeteer's evolved cowardice (because they evolved from herd animals, and are ruled by "the hindmost" rather than a "leader") forced them into minor planetary engineering.

As explained in Le Wik:

"In short, we found that a sun was a liability rather than an asset. We moved our world to a tenth of a light year's distance, keeping the primary only as an anchor. We needed the farming worlds and it would have been dangerous to let our world wander randomly through space. Otherwise we would not have needed a sun at all.

"We had brought suitable worlds from nearby systems, increasing our agricultural worlds to four, and setting them in a Kemplerer Rosette."

Prediction: HarryPrime's first line will be better than any in the LW thread where people talked about the one sentence ai box experiment. Eliezer read that long ago and has thought a lot about the general subject.

Something I'm still not sure about is what exactly HarryPrime will be aiming for. I think that's where Eliezer retains some play in his control over whether the ending is very short and bleak or longer and less bleak.

Voldemort kept talking about "destruction of the world" and "destroying the world" and so on. He didn't say the planet had to have to have people on it, but he might not have been talking about the planet. "The world" in normal speech often seems to mean in practice something like "the social world of the humans who are salient to us". Like in the USA people will often talk about "no one in the world does X" but there are people in other countries who do, and if someone points this out they will be accused of quibbling. Similarly, we tend to talk about "saving the earth" and it doesn't really mean the mantle or the core, it primarily means the biosphere and the economy and humans and stuff.

From my perspective, this was the key flaw of the intent:

But all Harry Potter's foolishness, all his recklessness, all his grandiose schemes and good intentions - he shall not risk them leading to disaster! He shall not gamble with the Earth's fate!

The literal text appears to be:

I shall not by any act of mine destroy the world. I shall take no chances in not destroying the world. If my hand is forced, I may take the course of lesser destruction over greater destruction unless it seems to me that this Vow itself leads to the world's end, and the friend in whom I have confided honestly [ie Hermione] agrees that this is so.

And then the errata and full intention was:

You will swear, Harry Potter, not to destroy the world, to take no risks when it comes to not destroying the world.

This Vow may not force you into any positive action, on account of that, this Vow does not force your hand to any stupidity... We must be cautious that this Vow itself does not bring that prophecy about.

We dare not let this Vow force Harry Potter to stand idly after some disaster is already set in motion by his hand, because he must take some lesser risk if he tries to stop it.

Nor must the Vow force him to choose a risk of truly vast destruction, over a certainty of lesser destruction.

But all Harry Potter's foolishness, all his recklessness, all his grandiose schemes and good intentions - he shall not risk them leading to disaster!

He shall not gamble with the Earth's fate!

No researches that might lead to catastrophe! No unbinding of seals, no opening of gates!

Unless this very Vow itself is somehow leading into the destruction of the world, in which case, Harry Potter, you must ignore it in that particular regard.

You will not trust yourself alone in making such a determination, you must confide honestly and fully in your trusted friend, and see if that one agrees.

In the shorter and sadder ending, I think it is likely that HarryPrime will escape, but not really care about people, and become an optimizing preservation agent of the mere planet. Thus Harry might escape the box and then start removing threats to the physical integrity of the earth's biosphere.

Also the "trusted friend" stuff is dangerous if Hermione doesn't wake up with a healthy normal mind. In canon, resurrection tended to create copies of what the resurrector remembered of a person, not the person themselves.

In the less sad ending I hope/think that HarryPrime will retain substantial overlap with the original Harry, Hermione will be somewhat OK, and the oath will only cause HarryPrime to be constrained in limited and reasonably positive ways. Maybe he will be risk averse. Maybe he will tear apart the stars because they represent a danger to the earth. Maybe he will exterminate every alien in the galaxy that could pose a threat to the earth. Maybe he will constrain the free will of every human on earth to not allow them to put the earth at risk... but he will still sorta be "the old Harry" while doing so.

Replies from: Dorikka
comment by Dorikka · 2015-03-01T09:32:26.869Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the shorter and sadder ending, I think it is likely that HarryPrime will escape, but not really care about people, and become an optimizing preservation agent of the mere planet. Thus Harry might escape the box and then start removing threats to the physical integrity of the earth's biosphere.

I'm curious just how dark Eliezer could make such an ending, if he were inspired to try as hard as possible without concern for other goals/strategy. 'Twould be an interesting read.

Replies from: JenniferRM, Transfuturist
comment by JenniferRM · 2015-03-01T10:09:07.609Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe it would be intellectually interesting, but I'm not sure I'd want to read it... it has been a long time since I was into the horror genre.

comment by Transfuturist · 2015-03-02T06:59:24.783Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hopefully some kind soul will come along and grace us with this spin-off.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T02:37:43.605Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I expect that (as with _Three Worlds Collide_), EY has already written both endings, and will show us both if we win.

Replies from: Transfuturist
comment by Transfuturist · 2015-03-03T22:07:31.258Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not the bad ending, the ending where Harry survives and has been transformed by the vow into an unFriendly intelligence.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T23:23:52.847Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see, you're disagreeing with JenniferRM's prediction that this is what the official Bad Ending will be, but you want to see it written anyway. (Or maybe you agree with, or are agnostic about, Jennifer's prediction as far as it goes, but even so don't think that the Bad Ending will be as inspiredly dark as Dorikka proposed.)

Then I agree with you!

comment by alienist · 2015-02-28T21:50:59.517Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting, so it all comes down to a version of the AI box experiment.

Replies from: None, TobyBartels
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-01T00:32:32.746Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Write what you know" is pretty good writing advice. What's really curious is whether anyone will be able to conclude from the True Ending how EY broke out of the box the first time.

Replies from: alienist
comment by alienist · 2015-03-01T05:06:51.099Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thinking about it, the situation is basically the AI box experiment from Voldy's point of view. He has a boxed unfriendly super-intelligence (Harry) that he's going to destroy just as soon as he finishes talking to it.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T05:45:48.252Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Only now we and Eliezer have swapped places.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-01T23:57:40.102Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I expect that the collective effect of 'everyone with more urgent life issues stays out of the effort' shifts the probabilities very little

Perhaps, but it shifts the ability of some of us to participate much more.

We've been waiting months for the latest round of chapters - giving the "final" a couple of weeks would have been more fun for me.

For the best experience, if you have not already been following Internet conversations about recent chapters, I suggest not doing so, trying to complete this exam on your own, not looking at other reviews, and waiting for Ch. 114 to see how you did.

If we wish to win, and not merely play the role of students getting a grade, we will of course collaborate.

It's strange how the student role seems to last and last and last beyond school. I see people doing it at work all the time. Though it's hard to blame them, in an institutional culture where others see your grade on the quiz as more important than getting things done. It's really odd being somewhere that asking someone who knows is considered cheating on your quiz, instead of being productive.

comment by bramflakes · 2015-02-28T22:33:29.726Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Plausible) Harry can stall for time by explaining his discovery of Mendelian magical inheritance, and the implication that magic is not a property of Wizards but rather bestowed upon them, possibly by the Atlantean Matrix lords. This is a power, or at least knowledge, the Dark Lord knows not, and it gives him time to do his Partial Transfiguration attack, while also not giving Voldemort any kind of immediate strategic advantage.

(Implausible) This would then segue into a discussion of whether Voldemort is just seeing his CEV, and simulated-Harry trying to break it. Somehow, they end up breaking the Mirror's illusion, thus destroying this "world".

comment by SavageWombat · 2015-02-28T21:31:30.958Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've seen it on a couple of other comment threads, but I think that Harry's understanding of time-causality is key here. If the lesson of the Comed-Tea is learned, it seems that efforts to defy prophecy are useless from the get-go.

But then I'm not practiced at arguing time-travel mechanics - can anyone else elaborate on this question?

comment by bramflakes · 2015-03-01T17:46:41.125Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

EY has previously stated that HJPEV is only knows some of the content of the Sequences, because if he knew all of it he'd be too powerful to write an interesting story around. EY has also stated that Harry is now allowed to come into his full power as a rationalist, presumably meaning he can deduce anything remaining in the Sequences.

So, what things are in the Sequences that Harry hasn't yet invoked? The answer may lie there.

Replies from: buybuydandavis
comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-02T00:35:28.439Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm really hoping it doesn't come down to some MWI.

comment by solipsist · 2015-02-28T22:37:09.649Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Posting write-only. EDIT I am no longer write-only

Recall Harry's transfiguration power:

Last week, when the graduating Ravenclaws were discussing their N.E.W.T. scores, Harry had overheard that upper-year Transfiguration practice involved several 'shaping exercises' that relied more on control and precise thinking than raw power; and Harry had promptly set out to learn those, whacking himself hard on the forehead for not trying to read all the later-year textbooks earlier. Professor McGonagall had approved Harry doing a shaping exercise that involved controlling the way in which a Transfiguring object approached its final form - for example, Transfiguring a quill so that the shaft grew out first, then the barbs. Harry was doing an analogous exercise with pencils, growing out the lead first, then surrounding it with wood and finally having the eraser form on top. As Harry had suspected, focusing his attention and magic into a particular part of the pencil's ongoing transformation had proven similar to the mental discipline used in partial Transfiguration - which could indeed have been used to fake the same effect, by partially Transfiguring only the outer layers of the object. This way was proving relatively easier, though.

With this Harry can:

  • Partially transfigure his leg into a winding worm. With this leg-worm he could:
    • Touch his transfigured self to Voldemort's magic, thereby causing Voldemort to collapse.
    • Seek out the time-turner . Since the leg is part of his body, twising the time turner would make him go back in time. This is a win, if none of the Death Eaters have cast anti time-turner charms, and Voldemort hasn't either. The death eaters haven't had much time and were immediately given orders. It is unclear if Voldemort would cast wards that could interact with Harry.
  • Transfigure all of himself into the adult form of Voldemort and give counter orders. "That's Mad-eye Moody, you nitwits!"
  • Partially transfigure his nose to cover his mouth, then cast non-wordless spells

Dumbledore can cast the Patronus wordlessly (chapter 57). Maybe Harry can too, and

  • will the Patronus to cover his body (as seen in chapter 100)
  • will the Patronus to charge Voldemort
  • will the Patronus to Hug Voldemort, changing his utility function with the unknown power...of love!

Of course, there are lots of solutions if you allow Harry to have done stuff off-camera. "Cedric, if I don't meet you at 11:59 tonight carrying a mayonnaise-infused gerbil, please use your time turner to cause a paradox". Harry could turn into his hitherto unseen animagus form ETA which might be a peregrine falcon, the fastest of birds.

And the rest of you, you must fire if Harry Potter tries to run, even if it means striking at your fellow Death Eaters.


Replies from: solipsist
comment by solipsist · 2015-03-01T02:38:47.672Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Evidence we have the Harry doesn't

  • Harry's recently studied on shaped transfiguration made it to his published thought bubbles at the beginning of the final arc -- it will be used.
  • Mr. Grim will probably survive, or have a dying aria, or in some other fashion reveal the story of Peter and Sirius. EDIT I suppose someone could just recognize his dead body.
  • Snape can't just die -- he doesn't love Lilly anymore, which means something, and Voldemort returned a favor -- he's got stuff to sort out.
  • Harry hasn't used the Foreshadowed Weasley Loot in his pouch. He can use the pouch now, or use it later, but he cannot simply let the pouch fall into Voldemort's hands. Maybe Hermione could retrieve it?
  • Unusually, there is not a literary constraint that Harry survive more than to "evade immediate death". That's explicit in the author's challenge, and I think we have a good method of reviving Harry. The explicit lack of constraint is medium evidence Harry's solution will be fatal.

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line...

(black robes, falling)

...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word.

The earlier experiment had measured whether Transfiguring a long diamond rod into a shorter diamond rod would allow it to lift a suspended heavy weight as it contracted, i.e., could you Transfigure against tension, which you in fact could.

Replies from: bramflakes
comment by bramflakes · 2015-03-01T03:13:09.929Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Foreshadowed Weasley Loot was invoked - the gun.

Replies from: solipsist
comment by solipsist · 2015-03-01T03:17:47.636Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was going to correct you

Some of these items are expensive even in the Muggle world, and your contact may have to go outside Britain; but one hundred Galleons will be enough to pay for it all

But then I remembered -- no handguns in Britain! That was a clue I missed right there!

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-03-01T15:18:53.190Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That happened about 1997 after a famous school massacre, but the story is set in 1992. Guns are still available in the UK(though, obviously not so freely as in the US).

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T02:19:33.673Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right, so what he actually must asked them for is a gun that was already banned in the UK but not in the U.S.. Maybe one of those ‘assault rifles’?

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-03-03T16:26:03.304Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You think he had two guns in his pouch? I mean, it's not impossible, but it seems unlikely(and if he did, why did he use the lesser gun to shoot at Voldemort?).

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T23:32:28.930Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not seriously. I'm just trying to save the beautiful theory (that what the Weasleys' contact had to leave Britain to get was a gun) from the ugly fact (that guns were available in Britain at the time).

comment by Macaulay · 2015-02-28T21:37:23.339Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Important: QQ's earlier parseltongue-spoken plans for Harry to become ruler of the world were said before he heard the 'tear apart the stars' prophecy. So it appears V changed his mind after hearing the prophecy.

Replies from: WalterL
comment by WalterL · 2015-02-28T22:59:06.709Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's entirely reasonable. Parseltongue translates your thoughts to your voice, it doesn't bind your actions.

comment by wobster109 · 2015-03-01T04:09:30.777Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dear Eliezer,

For the best experience, if you have not already been following Internet conversations about recent chapters, I suggest not doing so, trying to complete this exam on your own. . . .

Although you've requested an individual exam format, two mathematicians aren't "the same smart" as the smartest of the two of them.

The Polymath Project got off to a slow start. . . Jozsef Solymosi from the University of British Columbia posted a comment. . . over the next 37 days, 27 people wrote 800 mathematical comments. . . Just 37 days after the project began Gowers announced that he was confident the polymaths had solved not just his original problem, but a harder problem that included the original as a special case. Link

You spend many chapters teaching Harry the importance of collaboration.

"Anyhow," Hermione said. "Captains Goldstein and Weasley, you're on duty for thinking up strategic ideas for our next battle. Captains Macmillan and Susan - sorry, I mean Macmillan and Bones - try to come up with some tactics we can use, also any training you think we should try. Oh, and congratulations on your marching song, Captain Goldstein, I think it was a big plus for esprit de corps."

So I'm afraid I urge everyone to do the opposite of what you've suggested and collaborate. Sorry.

Replies from: Duncan, ChaosMote
comment by Duncan · 2015-03-01T04:56:47.212Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quirrelmort would be disgusted with us if we refused to consider 'cheating' and would certainly kill us for refusing to 'cheat' if that was likely to be extremely helpful.

"Cheating is technique, the Defense Professor had once lectured them. Or rather, cheating is what the losers call technique, and will be worth extra Quirrell points when executed successfully."

comment by ChaosMote · 2015-03-01T12:22:52.856Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think in this case, you and Eliezer are both correct, but for different definitions of "winning". If one's primary goal is to find a solution to the puzzle (and get the good ending), then your advice is probably correct. However, if the goal to stimulate the experience of having to solve a hard problem using one's intellect, then Eliezer's advice seems more valid. I imagine that this is in the same way that one might not want to look up a walkthrough for a game - it would help you "win" the game, but not win at getting the most benefit/enjoyment out of it.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-28T21:48:20.921Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry can test the limits of Parseltongue's truth detection properties. "I am plugged in to your Horcrux network and will not be stopped by killing me now."

Replies from: Unknowns, selylindi
comment by Unknowns · 2015-03-01T06:15:43.056Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He just has to say there is a reasonable chance of this, which is true, as far as anyone knows. Also, he can say there is a chance that it will trigger the magical resonance and destroy the entire network and Voldemort himself, and possibly go on to fulfill the prophecy.

Replies from: cousin_it
comment by cousin_it · 2015-03-01T11:19:32.286Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm, I just thought of another twist to my earlier solution. Instead of (or in addition to) the chance of horcrux hijacking, Harry can mention that his death-burst will interact with Voldemort's magic anyway, like the wards he placed around the spot, or the dark marks on minions' hands. That changes the whole plan, now Voldemort must get himself and the minions far away and lift the wards, at least at the moment of Harry's death. I think that's another viable solution, separate from the one I posted. Maybe someone should post it?

comment by selylindi · 2015-03-01T05:21:31.442Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hm, Harry can't lie in Parseltongue, meaning he can't claim what he doesn't believe, but he can probably state something of unclear truth if he is sufficiently motivated to believe it.

It'd be a nice irony if part of Harry's ultimate "rationality" test involves deliberately motivated reasoning. :D

comment by BrindIf · 2015-03-01T20:10:25.263Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry could start by saying "Not sssure if I should ssspeak. Mussst asssk friend firssst." He will won at least fime, at best an ally.

Replies from: Kindly
comment by Kindly · 2015-03-01T20:28:13.654Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"If your dilemma iss true, then there is danger both in your sspeech and in your ssilence. I will rissk the latter, rather than allow you chance at esscape. You have thirty ssecondss."

comment by Diadem · 2015-03-01T17:48:18.350Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One bit of information that I haven't seen anyone bring up before, is about the original prophecy (the Harry vs. Voldemort one).

Voldemort claims it is already fulfilled. But in an earlier chapter Snape claims that as the one for whom the original prophecy was meant, he will know when it is fulfilled, and it hasn't yet. So assuming Snape isn't either lying or mistaken (and Dumbledore is also present, bringing down the chance of Snape being mistaken), then that particular prophecy is still in effect.

Snape makes another very important claim in that passage. He claims that the 'Power the dark lord knows not' is not just a power that the Dark Lord doesn't know, but one he can't know. He explicitly rules out Harry's knowledge of muggle science as this power.

As far as I can tell, this pretty much leaves 3 candidates for "Power the dark lord knows not"

  • Love, as per canon. Unlikely since it hasn't been brought up, and unlike in canon probably doesn't have any special powers.
  • Partial transfiguration. Not sure thought if this is a power that the dark lord can't learn. Presumable if he studied muggle science enough, he'd be able to learn it
  • The patronus 2.0 & dementor scaring ability. This is absolutely a power Voldemort will never be able to learn, and thus in my book the best candidate. Assuming of course Snape isn't full of shit.

I don't see any immediate way to translate this bit of information into an action to escape Harry's predicament. But hopefully others can do something with this. It's probably relevant, and nobody seems to be talking about it. Especially since the prophecy implies that 'the power the dark lord knows not' is key to defeating him.

Replies from: nitrat665, TylerJay, buybuydandavis
comment by nitrat665 · 2015-03-01T20:46:18.552Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, as for the dementor manipulation ability as the "power the Dark Lord knows not", it is actually a pretty overpowered one. Considering that in HPMOR universe dementors are described as Death, "wounds in the world" and whatever else, they should make a very effective weapon. Consider that, for example, when Harry asks about what would happen if a dementor got thrown into the sun, people seem to interpret it not as a "would a dementor die?" sort of question, but as a "would the sun get damaged by that?" question. So, in my opinion, such a monster shouldn't be inhibited by such things as mere large distances, material obstacles and other mundane and magical protections. When Harry stood before the Wizengamot in a presence of some pretty powerful wizards, including Dumbledore, McGonnagal and Lucius, he was quite sure that in the absence of Patronuses a single dementor under his control would be sufficient to quickly and selectively wipe out everyone who Harry found distasteful. Note also, that there is no need for Harry to wave his wand or say anything to control dementors.

So, if Harry could get his hands on a dementor and his moral qualms wouldn't get in the way, I am sure that at the very least he could kill every death eater he wants dead (maybe sparing Lucius and Sirius, former as a possible ally, latter for a bit of questioning), and discorporate Voldemort, which would at least give him time to call for backup and warn people while Voldie is busy respawning and looking for some Listerine to wash that truly horrible dementor aftertaste out of his mouth. As for Voldemort's idea that he could run away from his body before it gets kissed - I think Voldie is overestimating himself here. Dementors are controlled by people's (especially Harry's) expectations, so if Harry expects a dementor to insta-kiss Voldemort, then Voldemort should be toast.

There are a few of ways to take this idea further than Harry's immediate survival. First, we don't know yet how a dementor's soul-munching abilities interact with a horcruxed spirit, so it is possible that a Kissed Voldemort would die completely or come back damaged.
Second, even if Voldie can come back from being kissed, Harry could do the following - tell Voldemort (maybe in the course of explaining the dementor-control power) in Parseltongue that the dementors are going to purposefully hunt down his horcruxes (being entropy personified, they might be able to slowly erode them and wouldn't be held back by such mundane inconveniences as said horcruxes being in Earth's mantle or something) and kiss any body that Voldemort enters. This sets the new expectations in Voldemort's mind (even if he finds it laughable) and then Harry unleashes the Death.

Now, the question is: where does Harry get a dementor? I guess Harry might have a sudden realization that being Death, dementors should not be bound by such trivialities as a mere few hundred kilometers, and summon some from Azkaban, but EY might consider that a revelation that bypasses the previously set constraints. Alternatively, Harry might try to gamble by telling Voldie that he knows a counterspell to dismiss Death (which does sound useful to an aspiring immortal), and hope that Voldemort doesn't realize the dementor connection and is actually willing to try an experiment with the sword and rope ritual. (and hope that the ritual actually produces a dementor and not some other variation of Death Incarnate).

Replies from: nitrat665
comment by nitrat665 · 2015-03-01T21:57:15.956Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, now that I spent a little time thinking on it, this idea becomes even more interesting. Remember, one of the recurring themes that makes Harry so cool is that he has different conceptual limitations from the rest of the wizards. Now, as far as we know, dementors are controlled by people's expectations. The reason that dementors haven't exterminated all the life on Earth yet could be that while people are afraid of death, death always seems to wait another day and moves slowly and on its own pace. I mean, for a medieval person, the image of death might be connected to a tiger or a warrior on horseback killing you or disease or hunger doing you in over the course of several days or maybe weeks. Barring freak accidents, the fastest death-related image in a medieval person's brain could be an arrow (or a fast-flying but perfectly dodgeable Avada Kedavra bolt for a wizard).

So, the Wizengamot people whom Harry considered unleashing a dementor upon, and the Death Eaters surrounding him now - they are all medievals. Voldemort, at least, has contemplated nuclear missiles, rockets and spaceships, so for him death could imaginably be something that can cover a good portion of Earth's circumference in under half an hour, reenter the atmosphere at many times the speed of sound and blow a whole city to the oblivion. Voldemort, however, haven't internalized as much physics as Harry did, so he is on the level of a mid-20th century science fiction writer - and he doesn't have the power to control dementors.

Harry, however, is a totally different case. Harry can imagine (and, quite possible, given time and money, construct) a laser cannon that shoots a ray of death at the speed of light. Harry can think of supernova blasts covering interstellar distances. Harry can think of ultra-relativistic projectiles carrying enough kinetic energy to completely blow a planet apart. Harry can think in terms of homing missiles and AI-directed weapons that can track and destroy enemies without a need for human guidance. Hell, now that Harry knows that time-travel is possible in this universe, he should be able to realize that this could lead to FTL signaling (which could be used to kill people faster than light), so in his mind, death literally shouldn't have a physically set speed-limit. And with his Partial Transfiguration, Harry already has demonstrated his capablility of using his knowledge to bypass the concepts that hold the rest of the wizards back. And Harry does have the power to control dementors.

So, to summarize the above - Harry is the only person who can truly control dementors, and in his mind, Death has no speed limit. If Harry can figure this out within the remaining 60 seconds - Voldie and Death Eaters simply don't have any chance.

comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-02T03:16:12.098Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really like the part about the original prophecy not being fulfilled yet. That's the first thing I've seen that Harry can say to LV that would REALLY make him hesitate and would buy more time. Nice work!

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-02T00:30:59.523Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like these.

Even with all his Horcruxes, isn't Voldemort still afraid of Dementors permanently destroying him?

If you can make the argument that Voldemort can't have the power to destroy dementors, then he has a real need for someone who does have that power.

Not sure thought if this is a power that the dark lord can't learn.

The spell does seem to require values that Voldemort just doesn't have, and doesn't want to have - it's the good old power of love that gives the power to destroy Dementors. Voldemort simply not being able to cast Patronus 2 is like Harry not being able to cast AK, and there was a comment by someone about Dumbledore never being able to cast AK.

And to add to Voldemort's problem, don't powerful spells have to pass from one living mind to another, so that Harry can't just write down instructions for someone else?

(As an aside, wouldn't this imply that Harry's existing instructions to Hermione couldn't work? Then how are V's instructions for resurrecting Hermione supposed to work for Harry?)

This seems a compelling argument for keeping Harry around to at least teach someone else.

Replies from: kilobug
comment by kilobug · 2015-03-02T09:04:10.763Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think the Interdict of Merlin applies to instructions given by Harry to Hermione about Patronus 2.0. First, I'm not sure Patronus 2.0 would be considered powerful enough to fall under the Interdict. Then, it's not really instructions to cast the spell that Harry is giving - the formula of the spell itself, "Expecto Patronum" isn't included. And finally, Harry didn't write full instructions, but a puzzle that would help Hermione solve the problem herself, like Harry did.

comment by Benquo · 2015-02-28T22:38:30.727Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry's assets:

  • Glasses - probably a distraction, but could be just about any nonhuman object, transfigured.
  • Cedric - probably in the mokeskin pouch, not easily accessible, probably only useful as a human shield, which is not Harry's style
  • Invisibility cloak - might be able to block the Killing Curse, useful in general, Harry is the Master of this Deathly Hallow, it's plausible but unlikely that he'd be able to Call it without words or gestures.
  • Voldemort's bargain - Voldemort has promised in Parseltongue to protect one person for each power Voldemort knows not that Harry names.
  • Partial transfiguration - both a Power Voldemort Knows Not and a tactical tool
  • Wand
  • Harry's own flesh (which he can use for partial transfiguration)
  • The air
  • The death eaters (including their robes, their bones, etc.)
  • Sirius ("Mr Grim")
  • Stuporfy

Foreshadowing / prior hints of resources:

  • Thick/heavy enough physical objects can block curses aside from the Killing Curse
  • Resonance between Harry's and Voldemort's magic more likely to harm/incapacitate Voldemort than Harry
  • Harry was instructed by Voldemort to cast Mahasu on any student in the classroom, chose himself. Foreshadows choosing to use promise of protection on himself?
  • Antimatter was mentioned earlier, Voldemort may not know enough about it yet.
  • Hermione transfigures a Buckytube
  • Use of Muggle devices
  • Harry's prior weakness is that he doesn't ask others for help
  • Harry decided to accept the idea that the air can't be transfigured before he figured out the insight necessary to do partial transfiguration, this could be wrong, the air as well as his flesh could be transfigurable
  • Prophecy about tearing apart the very stars (meaning Sirius and Bellatrix and Draco?)

Harry had to remove his left shoe, and take off the toe-ring that was his emergency portkey if someone kidnapped him and took him outside the wards of Hogwarts (and didn't put up anti-Apparition, anti-portkey, anti-phoenix, and anti-time-looping wards, which Severus had warned Harry that any inner-circle Death Eater would certainly do).

That seems to rule out apparition, portkeys, phoenixes, and time looping, so transfiguring a time turner into his hands is out, as is trying to get into a Phoenix frame of mind to summon Fawkes or another phoenix to send a message, or using his portkey.

"There are desks which are heavy enough to be fatal if dropped from a great height. There are chairs with metal legs that could impale someone if driven hard enough. The air in this classroom would be deadly by its absence, since people die in vacuum, and it can serve as a carrier for poison gases."

Harry had to stop briefly for breath, and into that pause Professor Quirrell said:

"That's three. You need ten. The rest of the class thinks that you've already used up the whole contents of the classroom."

"Ha! The floor can be removed to create a spike pit to fall into, the ceiling can be collapsed on someone, the walls can serve as raw material for Transfiguration into any number of deadly things - knives, say."

"That's six. But surely you're scraping the bottom of the barrel now?"

"I haven't even started! Just look at all the people! Having a Gryffindor attack the enemy is an ordinary use, of course -"

"I will not count that one."

"- but their blood can also be used to drown someone. Ravenclaws are known for their brains, but their internal organs could be sold on the black market for enough money to hire an assassin. Slytherins aren't just useful as assassins, they can also be thrown at sufficient velocity to crush an enemy. And Hufflepuffs, in addition to being hard workers, also contain bones that can be removed, sharpened, and used to stab someone."

By now the rest of the class was staring at Harry in some horror. Even the Slytherins looked shocked.

"That's ten, though I'm being generous in counting the Ravenclaw one. Now, for extra credit, one Quirrell point for each use of objects in this room which you have not yet named." Professor Quirrell favored Harry with a companionable smile. "The rest of your class thinks you are in trouble now, since you've named everything except the targets and you have no idea what may be done with those."

"Bah! I've named all the people, but not my robes, which can be used to suffocate an enemy if wrapped around their head enough times, or Hermione Granger's robes, which can be torn into strips and tied into a rope and used to hang someone, or Draco Malfoy's robes, which can be used to start a fire -"

"Three points," said Professor Quirrell, "no more clothing now."

"My wand can be pushed into an enemy's brain through their eye socket" and someone made a horrified, strangling sound.

"Four points, no more wands."

"My wristwatch could suffocate someone if jammed down their throat -"

"Five points, and enough."

"Hmph," Harry said. "Ten Quirrell points to one House point, right? You should have let me keep going until I'd won the House Cup, I haven't even started yet on the unaccustomed uses of everything I've got in my pockets" or the mokeskin pouch itself and he couldn't talk about the Time-Turner or the invisibility cloak but there had to be something he could say about those red spheres...

This vaguely suggests a few options:

  • Harry could improvise a dark ritual to sacrifice some of his internal organs to "hire an assassin" (counting on some sort of magical healing afterwards).
  • Susan Bones might also be in the pouch ("Hufflepuff [...] Bones"). Note that the real Susan Bones was not with the other students who encountered Snape in the corridor.
  • Harry likely knows of some efficient poisonous gases, if he can hold his breath for long enough he can simply transfigure part of himself into one of these and wait for the Death Eaters to drop.
  • Harry could somehow try to cast a spell on Voldemort to invoke the resonance, push him in a direction that disrupts the semicircle of Death Eaters.
  • Harry could transfigure the air around him into a thick physical barrier that blocks everything except the Killing Curse.

Ignoring the gasps rising from behind him, Harry crossed the radius of the Patronuses, strode to a single pace from Death. Its unhindered fear burst around him like a whirlpool, like stepping next to the sucking drain of some huge bathtub emptying out its water; but with the false Patronuses no longer obscuring the level on which they interacted, Harry could reach the Dementor even as it could reach him. Harry looked straight into the pulling vacuum and -

the Earth among the stars

all his triumph at saving Hermione

someday the reality of which you are a shadow will cease to exist

Harry took all the silver emotion that fueled his Patronus Charm and shoved it at the Dementor; and expected Death's shadow to flee from him -

  • and as Harry did that, he flung his hands up and shouted "BOO!"

The void retreated sharply away from Harry until it came up against the dark stone behind.

Harry can sort of wandlessly wordlessly cast something like a Patronus, he could try to do something like this to Voldemort.

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line... (black robes, falling) ...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word.

This strongly suggests a Buckytube monofilament whipped around to decapitate all the Death Eaters. This is the most plausible solution, and it's somewhat compatible with the other Partial Transfiguration option, which is to tell Voldemort about it in exchange for protecting Harry's life (and to buy time). This is also compatible with Harry's glasses being a transfigured shield (or transfigured charmed magical shield, in either case there's no reason someone couldn't have just magically LASIK-ed his vision), which would give him a defense against any non-Killing Curse spells that go his way from anyone he doesn't immediately kill. Then he lunges for (or accios) the pouch and cloak, retrieving Hufflepuff (Susan) Bones and Cedric, to help him fight the remaining Death Eaters (or go for help). Then he casts a Patronus to get McGonagall (and insists she not disrupt the game).

Ah, better yet - the glasses should be his broomstick. Or his broomstick AND a shield. AND a gas mask. Fit together (since glasses are composite objects anyway).

OK, so here's the attack plan, to tear apart Voldemort's plan at every possible point of intervention:

1) While transfiguring a long buckytube monofilament out of his own flesh, tell Voldemort about partial transfiguration, demand that Harry himself be saved in return.

2) Wordlessly cast the Patronus at Voldemort to try to throw him off balance - as a bonus, if he manages a worldess wandless corporeal Patronus it can do step 5 early, OR possibly block a Killing Curse (not sure).

3) Whip the buckytube around to slice through a bunch of Death Eaters. Simultaneously, wordlessly wandlessly finite incantatem the glasses to detransfigure his broomstick.

4) Fly to (or accio while dodging curses) the pouch, extract Susan and Cedric, put on the cloak. They know from battle class that they should lift the sleep spell on their ally Hermione. (Harry shouldn't since it would be an interaction with Voldemort's magic that would be more likely to harm Harry than Voldemort.)

5) Cast a Patronus to get help from McGonagall (who can use her time turner so as not to disrupt the game), telling her to bring every competent battle mage she can get.

6) Cast Stuporfy at Voldemort to try and trigger the magical resonance, then fly straight at him to give him a hug.

Replies from: ChaosMote, ShardPhoenix, TobyBartels, solipsist
comment by ChaosMote · 2015-03-01T12:47:23.853Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't believe leveraging Voldemort's bargain will work the way you suggest, because Parseltongue does not enforce promises, only honesty. When Harry demands that he himself be saved, Voldemort can simply say "No."

Replies from: Benquo
comment by Benquo · 2015-03-02T03:01:26.021Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right - but how low do you think the probability is, and what's the best action it displaces?

Replies from: ChaosMote
comment by ChaosMote · 2015-04-10T22:18:29.230Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry - hadn't logged in for a while. I thought it would have vanishingly low probability of working, though I don't believe that it displaces any other action likely to work (though it does displace saving a person if all else fails, which has nontrivial value). Having said that, curiously enough it seems that this particular suggestion WAS implemented in the official solution, so I guess that was that. :)

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2015-03-01T01:08:44.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is the most plausible solution, and it's somewhat compatible with the other Partial Transfiguration option, which is to tell Voldemort about it in exchange for protecting Harry's life (and to buy time)

This also works well dramatically - it would effectively allow Harry to explain what he's doing as he's doing it.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T06:41:24.845Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sirius ("Mr Grim")

Is Sirius a Death Eater in this fic? In canon, he was thought to be one, but he never was. Conversely, if he is a Death Eater in this fic, then why would he be Harry's ally? (And Harry knows none of this in any case.)

ETA: Well, Harry does know the general reasons that everybody thinks that Sirius is a Death Eater. But he doesn't know why Sirius might be his ally, or why he might be called ‘Mr. Grim’ (which frankly is a bit extra-universe even to Sirius and Voldemort), or AFAICT why Sirius might not be locked up in Azkaban (since he had no reaction to hearing ‘I'm not serious!’ when he was there).

comment by solipsist · 2015-03-01T03:28:38.788Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Cedric - probably in the mokeskin pouch



We have not seen any first year cast that spell, and Harry suggested Wingardium Leviosa for how to retrieve the snitch-key.

comment by Jost · 2015-02-28T22:18:49.920Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We know that previous attempts by Voldemort to thwart a prophecy have backfired horribly. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that prophecies in HPMoR (as in canon) are self-fulfilling. (Warning: TVTropes-link!)

I therefore predict that Voldemort’s efforts to thwart this prophecy will counteract that intention and lead to the fulfillment of that same prophecy.

comment by bramflakes · 2015-02-28T20:54:20.430Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

After 5 minutes of thinking about it, the only thing I could come up with concerns:


Bellatrix and Sirius are stars, and also Death Eaters. Voldemort has already torn apart Bellatrix to use the Dark Mark, and Harry can tear apart Sirius with the Partial Transfiguration trick people are talking about. How do we know Sirius is present? Because there is a Death Eater named "Mr Grim" who is stated to have known the Potters.

Hang on, isn't Sirius in Azkaban?

"I'm not serious, I'm not serious, I'm not serious..."

The "he" refers to both Tom Riddles, as they are branches of the same person.

Troubles with this suggestion:

The "HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD" part remains unresolved.

Narratively unsatisfying.

Replies from: JenniferRM, LeifBrown, redlizard, None, Edgehopper, TobyBartels
comment by JenniferRM · 2015-03-01T05:51:24.858Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the literal physical stars are referred to. The centaur also thought the stars would go out:

"So the wandless have become wiser than the wizards. What a joke! Tell me, son of Lily, do the Muggles in their wisdom say that soon the skies will be empty?"

"Empty?" Harry said. "Er... no?"

"The other centaurs in this forest have stayed from your presence, for we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens' course. Because, in becoming entangled in your fate, we might become less innocent in what is to come. I alone have dared approach you."

"I... don't understand."

"No. You are innocent, as the stars say. And to slay something innocent to save oneself, that is a terrible deed. One would live only a cursed life, a half-life, from that day. For any centaur would surely be cast out, if he slew a foal."

Literal stars. Literally torn apart. The sun must be tamed. And more distant stars are also dangerous.

comment by LeifBrown · 2015-02-28T22:48:14.628Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"End" can also mean "goal". This is somewhat interesting in light of EY's work at MIRI.

comment by redlizard · 2015-03-01T05:07:33.925Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think this is likely, if only because of the unsatisfyingness. However:

And the messages would come out in riddles, and only someone who heard the prophecy in the seer's original voice would hear all the meaning that was in the riddle. There was no possible way that Millicent could just give out a prophecy any time she wanted, about school bullies, and then remember it, and if she had it would've come out as 'the skeleton is the key' and not 'Susan Bones has to be there'. (Ch.77)

Some foreshadowing on the idea of ominous-sounding prophecy terms actually referring to people's names.

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line... (black robes, falling) ...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word.

"blood spills out in litres" meshes well with "TEAR APART".

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-28T22:46:31.952Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And then, since he's already figured it out when guessing about the Comed-Tea, Harry will make himself believe that the stars are the people, and so the prophecy means not him, but Voldemort, which is why if he does not stop Voldemort right now, he will fail to fulfill the Vow, which is impossible.

So the Vow will work in his favor, possibly boosting his abilitiesto misdirect in Parseltongue.

Also, Voldemort is aalready the end of the world, and has been since possessing the Pioneer Plague (which can be reached by phoenix at any moment).

Also, Voldemort put on broomstick enchantments on his bones, and Harry already knows a way in which they are fallible: CRAP. NEWTON...

Replies from: jkadlubo
comment by jkadlubo · 2015-03-01T07:10:48.677Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He didn't put them on his bones; remeber the part, where resurected Voldemort takes some sticks from Quirrell, attatches them to himself and tests flying? Voldemort would likely enchant his own bones later, but right now he has sticks attached to his limbs.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-01T07:30:48.524Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

True, but what matters is if he attached the sticks stickily enough.

comment by Edgehopper · 2015-03-01T05:13:22.321Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like this, and you can resolve "HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD" by combining the rule that prophecies are meant to be heard by those they affect and to cause their consequences, and that to Voldemort, his death is the end of his world. So HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD is true for Voldemort, because Harry's killing power can be the end of Voldemort's world.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T06:40:08.120Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do we know Sirius is present? Because there is a Death Eater named "Mr Grim" who is stated to have known the Potters.

Is Sirius a Death Eater in this fic? In canon, he was thought to be one, but he never was.

Replies from: jkadlubo
comment by jkadlubo · 2015-03-01T07:13:19.788Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

About Sirius we only have the story from "Skeptical Wizard" (about Weasleys' rat) and some mentions in the Azkaban - nothing to suggest he was good.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T09:51:04.479Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

True, but also nothing to suggest any changes from canon, where we were also led to believe him evil until The Reveal. Well, there is the possibility that someone in Azkaban is thought to be Sirius but isn't, which is a sign that Sirius may have imprisoned someone in his place, and that would be an evil act. But even if this is so (which it may not be), it may well be a justifiable act from the perspective of the Order of the Phoenix (for example, if Sirius imprisoned Peter in his place, and otherwise the characters are as in canon).

Edit: Add the potential justification involving Peter (which is not an idea original to me, BTW).

comment by EGI · 2015-03-02T17:29:56.043Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here is my stab at a solution (already posted at ffnet):

First Harry tells V. that Dementors are death, Patronuses work by not thinking about death and the true Patronus works by using a diferent mindstate which V. probably cannot attain (without specifics). Second Harry states that as long as Dementors are around every person including V have in each moment a small but finite probability to be kissed by one. Over an indefinite timeframe the aggregate probaility that V. is kissed approaches one. How this would interact with V's Horkruxes is unclear but he may easily suffer a fate worse than death. Therfore he should keep Harry around at least until the dementors are dealt with.

Then he points out that given what he knows about the ambiguity of prophecies the prophecy V. heard has probably not clearly identified that Harry and not V. is the threat. Thus V. killing Harry might easily doom the world. This is especially likely as V. is not bound by the vow. Thus V. should keep Harry around to guard against his own mistakes and probably take a similar vow. He himself may offer more vows to further Vs goals in exchange for V. vowing to further Harry's goals and so on. This should be beneficial for even a purely selfish V. who wants the world to survive.

In case V. is not convinced by his above offer of cooperation Harry uses the time they are talking to prepare for an attack on V. and the Death Eaters using partial transfiguration: Thinking about venues for attack he first thinks about transfiguring an invisible nanoweapon such as a monofilament knife to decapitate the death eaters. Though he quickly realizes that that will not work since no known material including carbonanotubes is stiff enough to form an invisible blade of several meters length. Independently acting nanobots are out too, because he lacks time and knoledge to design one let alone test them for safety and efficiency. Then he realizes he does not need them, because partial transfiguration can do everything a nanobot could and even more.

He points his wand to a patch of skin on his leg and starts to transfigure the stratum corneum. An invisible bundle of carbonanotubes extends from his skin to the ground branches out to each death eater running up their robes and into their necks. (They do not feel this, since the bundle of tubes has a crossection of only 50 nm. Pain or touch receptors would not pick that up.) Another branch extends to the Dark Lord, but Harry does not dare touch him with his construct fearing the resonance. Instead he builds a small tower form the ground using carbonanotubes in a pattern resembling the Eiffel Tower extending right into the muzzle of his gun (Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line...). He seals the muzzle with a thin sheet of carbonanotubes and fills the barrel with nitroglycerine contained by a second thin sheet of carbonanotubes just before the bullet. All of this is very low volume and quickly transfigured.

If the Dark Lord refuses cooperation he snaps his fingers and immeadetly extends the tube in each of the death eaters neck to severe the brainstem from the spinal cord, the language center from the brain (to prevent wordless, wandless magic) and the neck from the body (black robes, falling). To make sure that everything is properly seperated he turns his entire construct (except for the part in Vs gun) into pressurised air (...blood spills out in litres,...). Now the Dark Lord either surenders or fires his gun. ...and Harry screams a word: "rennervate" and points at Hermione to wake her up. Hermione stunns V. Even if V. fired he should not die immeadetly except if part of the gun passed through his brain. Hermione transfigures V. into a small stone to prevent him from dying and thus from coming back. Afterwards they transfigure the Death Eaters for eventual revival.

I wrote multiple redundant plans, because I genuinely think Harry should be able to convince V. to cooperate for purely selfish reasons. But even if V. is not only rational and selfish but "For the Evulz" Evil and thus refuses, the transfiguration attack should secure Harrys victory.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-01T22:48:39.947Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another possible solution path:

"There iss already in motion a power which will desstroy world if left unchecked. [entropy] If you kill me, trap me, incapacitate me, or otherwisse hinder me, I will be unable to take necesssary possitive actionss to try to sstop it and ssave world. Am sstill bound by vowss, will not take any action I think will make desstruction worsse or more likely."

Replies from: dxu, Gondolinian
comment by dxu · 2015-03-02T00:24:42.945Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At which point the obvious next question for Voldemort to ask is, "What iss thiss power you sspeak of?", and then Harry would be pretty hosed. Moreover, if Voldemort discovers that Harry is trying to use tricky wording against him, he'll likely conclude (correctly) that Harry is not at all interested in being cooperative, and then kill him.

The problem as I see is this: Voldemort is smart. Furthermore, he thinks like Harry, meaning that Harry's plans will be especially easy for him to see through. Any sort of successful verbal trickery would by necessity have to be something that Voldemort can't decode easily, which, given the constraints, seems to imply that the solution should involve domain-specific knowledge more than general intelligence, which in turn screams "Muggle knowledge!" to me. One example of this is the material implication trick I suggested (which I know you've already seen; I added the link there for other possible readers). Can anyone think of any other such tricks?

Replies from: Gondolinian
comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-02T01:21:46.482Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At which point the obvious next question for Voldemort to ask is, "What iss thiss power you sspeak of?", and then Harry would be pretty hosed.

Why? Doesn't Voldemort have an interest in not allowing the heat death of the Universe to happen? We could change the framing so it's more of an explanation of entropy and heat death than an apparent trick (As I think some on Reddit have already done.), but I think this has a fair bit of potential at least as a tactic for buying time to partially transfigure something or for gaining access to Hermione if not for outright persuading Voldemort to let Harry out of the box.

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-03-02T01:54:20.603Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Doesn't Voldemort have an interest in not allowing the heat death of the Universe to happen?

Heat death is a long ways off, and in the long run, it's extremely unlikely that Harry is unique enough to play a crucial role in stopping it. Heck, Voldemort himself could read up on all the science Harry currently knows, a task that would take him at most eleven years, mostly like less (after all, Harry did it, and at a much younger age, too), and be at least every bit as well-suited as Harry is right now at stopping heat death, and probably much more well-suited seeing as he knows more magic. (Plus, eleven years on a cosmic scale is less than the blink of an eye.) I don't think Voldemort would consider the (very probably minimal) value Harry has to offer in preventing the heat death of the universe enough positive utility to outweigh the fact that a prophecy said he would tear apart the very stars in heaven.

That is not to say, however, that this entire line of thought doesn't work. If Harry has something to offer Voldemort that he would actually value highly enough to consider letting him live, then we're in business. Off the top of my head I'm not thinking of anything, but it's a definite possibility. (Intelligence enhancement, perhaps?) Still, I don't think the "help stop heat death" offer is going to be the winning method.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-03T01:27:00.637Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My final solution, already submitted as a review to fanfiction.net:

My three ideas for persuading Voldemort to let Harry out of the box, or at least for buying Harry enough time to escape by other means, using all true statements in pseudo-Parseltongue:


Harry: "There iss already in motion a power which will desstroy the world if it iss not sstopped. [entropy/heat death] Even if you kill me now, or try to limit my influence on the world, the world will sstill be desstroyed by thiss force.

I am sstill bound by the vowss I have jusst sworn to you, and I will not act in any way I believe will causse a greater desstruction, or a higher chance of desstruction. I alsso genuinely intend to sstop the desstruction of the world, and I genuinely believe I can accomplissh thiss [given enough time and resources], if you let me."


Harry: "I am nearly certain that the prophecy you are trying to avert *will* be fulfilled, in one way or another. I have genuine reasson [Comed-Tea experiments; can explain if Voldemort asks] to believe that magic hass accesss to the whole of time, and already knowss how the future will unfold. If I am correct in believing thiss, there iss no way you could sstop the fulfillment of the prophecy, but your actionss now may be able to influence *how* it will be fulfilled.

While I cannot be ssure without knowing the true wording of the prophecy, there are likely many outcomess which would fulfill the literal requirementss of the prophecy while leaving the world in a sstate that you, I, and the girl-child could all agree iss not ssignificantly worsse than and perhapss even better than itss current sstate. If you kill me, or try to limit my influence on the world, you will esssentially be leaving how the prophecy will be fulfilled up to chance, but if you let me work with you, we can greatly increasse the chancess of a possitive fulfillment. I have already been bound by your vowss, and I tell you all thiss in good faith, without any intent to trick you."

3: [uses material implication to mislead as suggested by dxu on LessWrong]

Harry: "If you or your minionss kill me or girl-child, harm uss, resstrain uss, incapacitate uss, blackmail uss, or otherwisse annoy uss anymore than you already have, the world will be desstroyed. [by eventual heat death, which it would have been anyway] You will command your minionss to sstand down, you will awaken girl-child and let her walk to me unhindered, you will lay my unaltered posssessionss at my feet, you and your minionss will leave thiss place without caussing harm to me or girl-child or arranging for harm to come to uss after you have left. If you do not do ass I have told you, the world will end."

comment by DavidAgain · 2015-03-01T11:37:25.825Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Haven't seen this solution elsewhere: I think it's actually strong on its own terms, but doubt it's what Eliezer wants (I'm 90% sure it's about AI boxing, exploiting the reliability granted by Unbreakable Vows and parsetongue)

However, this being said, I think Harry could avoid imminent death by pointing out that if a prophecy says he'll destroy the world, then he presumably can't do that dead. Given that we have strong reasons to think prophecies can't be avoided, this doesn't mean killing him is safe, but the opposite - what Voldemort should do is make him immortal. Then the point at which he destroys the world can be delayed indefinitely. Most likely to a point when Voldemort gets bored and wants to die, after the heat death of the universe.

This isn't a great solution for Harry, because the best way to keep him alive would be paralysed/imprisoned in some fairly extreme way. But it should hit the criteria. The one really big point against it is that all this info is very available to Voldemort, so not sure why he hasn't come up with it himself.

comment by kilobug · 2015-03-01T08:39:06.822Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am the only one quite upset about this and thinking it's mean from Eliezer ? There are at least three kind of reasons that makes me upset :

  1. It breaches an implicit contract between readers and authors. Especially when it's such a long work, each reader has invested literally hundred of hours to get to this point. Asking us to do something to get the real ending, that's already written, at this point is a kind of blackmail. And the only long-term answer to blackmail, as Dumbledore explained in HPMOR, is to not comply.

  2. What purpose does it serve, apart doing harm ? The purposes of HPMOR, in my understanding, are : 1. Bring awareness (and therefore, among other things, money/donations) to MIRI/CFAR. 2. Show people that rationality is awesome so they'll read more about it (ie, the Sequences, books, ...) and therefore "raise the sanity waterline". This undermines 1. by pissing off part of the reader base and making the story suboptimal, and this greatly undermines 2. if the super-rational Harry still fails.

  3. It's not a fair nor fun game at all, because there is so much we don't know about the laws of the settings, so we are reduced to blind guesses. We don't know how fast can Harry transfigure things. We don't know what he can transfigure (antimatter, monofilament, ...). We don't know what's in the moleskin pouch. We don't if he can transfigure while holding a normal conversation in Parseltongue. We don't know if Voldemort can detect him doing transfiguration. And so on. It's like having to devise a plan in a RPG without the stats of your character, without the (numeric) effect of spells/abilites, and without the ability to ask the DM "could my character do X ?". There are many times in HPMOR when things I didn't think should work did work, and otherwise, and it's fine, it's Eliezer's world, he sets the rules. But then, he can't ask us to blind guess a solution to a very hard problem where we don't know the rules of the world.

Replies from: purplerabbits, shminux
comment by purplerabbits · 2015-03-01T11:44:26.532Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think it's unfair at all, but your comment made me rethink something that may be relevant. Quirrel set a surprise exam, and it was surprisingly easy and everyone (except Hermione) passed. I think probably the worst thing that you can do in the face of a surprise exam is not attempt to answer, and maybe that's part of the lesson EY is trying to convey here :-)

I also note that Quirrel failed Hermione in the knowledge that he would be resurrecting her, and this is either very mean, or a very good lesson for resurrected Hermione, or both.

comment by shminux · 2015-03-01T20:52:46.259Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Clearly enough people disagree, given the amount of interest and lack of condemnation in /r/hpmor, here and in ##hpmor.

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-03-02T03:38:34.739Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Two hashes?

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2015-03-02T05:19:45.956Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by l2718 · 2015-02-28T21:32:15.822Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry is allowed to solve this problem any way YOU would solve it. If you can tell me exactly how to do something, Harry is allowed to think of it.

This is not quite phrased correctly. While I know less magic than the protagonist (having not attended Hogwarts for a year), I know far more physics and mathematics than he does. I am also privy to world-building knowledge that he isn't. For example, we know about major artefacts:

  • The Elder wand has been repeatedly featured in the fic, but neither Harry!Riddle not Voldemort!Riddle are aware of it yet.

We also know little trivia:

  • Tom Riddle's middle name in this AU is Morfin, not Marvolo. Knowing canon this tells us something about Merope Gaunt's relationship with her father and brother.

In conclusion: it's not enough for us to think of a solution, we also need to explain how Harry can think of it. There's no point in simulating Harry's smarts on my hardware, I can use my own smarts. But I do need to simulate Harry's knowledge.

Replies from: CBHacking
comment by CBHacking · 2015-03-01T09:57:41.247Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Similarly, it would be seriously pushing it to rely on any scientific advances of the last (real-world) decade or so, unless there's a reason Harry would be able to at least semi-plausibly pre-discover them himself. Not that I can think of any of those which would help anyhow, but it's something to keep in mind.

Future tech - even things we think we could perhaps do - is probably right out. Harry could conceivably transfigure something (his epidermis, for example; has anybody mentioned that yet?) into a material that we know exists or could exist, and can describe in atomic or sub-atomic detail, yet can't synthesize; an arbitrary isotope of an arbitrary element should probably be possible, for example. He can't use transfiguration to produce something with negative mass (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_mass), though... at least, I would assume not, even if the science he knows suggests that such a thing is theoretically possible.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-02-28T20:55:18.137Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not a solution, but should the Death Eaters be discounted as not good for much of anything?

I don't just mean that Voldemort has shown them to be fairly incompetent, but that they may be too shaky to use whatever remains of their skills.

As an orthodox Discordian, I would be very pleased if it turned out that one of the Death Eaters has an idea which would be very useful for Voldemort, but is too afraid to say it.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T05:32:38.061Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's the difference between an orthodox Discordian and a heretical one?

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-03-01T15:06:09.661Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Heretical ones actually follow the written holy books.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-02-28T20:24:11.919Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


This is your final exam.

You have 60 hours.

Your solution must at least allow Harry to evade immediate death, despite being naked, holding only his wand, facing 36 Death Eaters plus the fully resurrected Lord Voldemort.

If a viable solution is posted before *12:01AM Pacific Time* (8:01AM UTC) on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2015, the story will continue.

Otherwise you will get a shorter and sadder ending.

There are more details and suggestions at the end of the chapter.

Question for Eliezer: Would a post to a LessWrong HPMOR discussion thread count as a solution, or must all solutions be posted to fanfiction.net?

Replies from: Sheaman3773, janos, solipsist
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2015-02-28T20:37:35.774Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Keep in mind the following:

  1. Harry must succeed via his own efforts. The cavalry is not coming. Everyone who might want to help Harry thinks he is at a Quidditch game.
  2. Harry may only use capabilities the story has already mentioned; he cannot develop wordless wandless Legilimency in the next 60 seconds. Of course, Harry may find more clever ways to use abilities he has already been established to have.
  3. Voldemort is evil and cannot be persuaded to be good; the Dark Lord’s utility function cannot be changed by talking to him.
  4. If Harry raises his wand or speaks in anything except Parseltongue, the Death Eaters will fire on him immediately.
  5. If the simples timeline is otherwise one where Harry dies – if Harry cannot reach his Time-Turner without Time-Turned help – then the Time-Turner will not come into play.
  6. It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue.

Within these constraints, Harry is allowed to attain his fully potential as a rationalist, now in this moment or never, regardless of his previous flaws.

Of course, ‘the rational solution’, if you are using the word ‘rational’ correctly, is just a needlessly fancy way of ‘the best solution’ of ‘the solution I like’ or ‘the solution I think we should use’, and you usually say one of the latter instead. (We only need the word ‘rational’ to talk about ways of thinking, considered apart from any particular solutions.)

And by Vinge’s Principle, if you know exactly what a smart mind would do, you must be at least that smart yourself.

So what I mean in practice, when I say Harry is allowed to attain his fully potential as a rationalist, is that Harry is allowed to solve this problem any way YOU would solve it. If you can tell me exactly how to do something, Harry is allowed to think of it.

But it does not serve as a solution to say, for example, “Harry should persuade Voldemort to let him out of the box” if you can’t yourself figure out how.

I wish you all the best of luck, or rather the best of skill.

comment by janos · 2015-02-28T20:53:37.802Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

March 2nd isn't a Tuesday; is it Monday night or Tuesday night?

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2015-02-28T21:01:48.183Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It clearly stipulates 12:01 am to avoid just this kind of confusion.

Further, the chapter will be posted at 10:00 am on Tuesday.

So the deadline is Monday night.

Replies from: see, TobyBartels
comment by see · 2015-03-01T02:35:07.215Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The available dates were Monday, March 2nd, or Tuesday, March 3rd; the "12:01 am" did not distinguish which of those dates was meant by "Tuesday, March 2nd" in the slightest, since both possible dates had their own 12:01 am.

This has been subsequently corrected by EY to "Tuesday, March 3rd" (which was the correct day for the 60 hours promised).

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T02:17:44.268Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The tradition in timetables is to list 11:59 pm for endings (such as we have here) and 12:01 am for beginnings. Eliezer should have followed the tradition; the evidence for my claim is that janos was confused when EY violated the tradition. (Edit: Well, actually, janos was apparently confused by a bona-fide error, not by this.)

comment by solipsist · 2015-02-28T20:52:22.214Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another question for Eliezer: can this solution involve some past preparations not explicitly seen on camera? Like, can we say "Harry has a Weasley-provided pink plastic flamingo in his pouch, which he can use to defeat 37 Death Eaters in the obvious fashion."

Replies from: jkadlubo
comment by jkadlubo · 2015-02-28T20:57:53.813Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would say no to the Flamingo, but yes to any object ever mentioned in the story (e.g. car engine that he tried to use in the first battle), after all, Harry prepared his pouch for anything and everything that he could fathom.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-28T21:45:09.167Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In pouch, no. Transfigured in his glasses, maybe... but Harry is not allowed to move his hands to touch the glasses.

Unless the glasses already a contain a killing machine operated by eye movements. Then Harry can kill everyone with a blink of an eye. (Undiscriminate killing would also hit Hermione, but she would survive.)

Replies from: TsviBT, Gunnar_Zarncke
comment by TsviBT · 2015-02-28T23:01:38.100Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since they are touching his skin, does he need his wand to cancel the Transfiguration?

Replies from: jkadlubo
comment by jkadlubo · 2015-03-01T10:13:25.439Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. He just learned to dispell Transfiguration without a wand when he dispelled the one on Hermione's body.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-02-28T23:43:12.030Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unless the glasses already a contain a killing machine

in that case he'd have used that in Failure Pt 2 obviously.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-01T21:31:12.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Its possible that the solution will have multiple steps, such as:

1) Stall for time by giving information on useful powers

2) Demand that vow requires Hermione is awakened so Harry can discuss the probability of him ending the world.

3) Hermione causes a distraction by slitting her wrists and running round shouting "Look at me! I'm bleeding silver blood everywhere but I'm not dying! How can it be?"

4) Harry triggers resonance cascade

5) Harry transfigures weapon

6) Harry kills everyone

7) Harry, badly wounded, drinks Hermione's unicorn blood to save him from death, killing Hermione in the process

8) Hermione comes back from the dead because of the Horocrux

9) Hermione uses the philosophers stone to permanently transfigure them both into unicorns

10) HPMOR turns into Harry Potter/MLP:FiM crossover fanfiction

Now, my question is this: does one review have to get every step absolutely correct? Or is it ok if ten reviews each get one step correct? What if a review starts "first stall for time - many other people have submitted excellent ideas for this, which I shall defer to."?

Replies from: MarkusRamikin
comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-02T15:37:23.145Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

10) HPMOR turns into Harry Potter/MLP:FiM crossover fanfiction

In other words, Bad Ending.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-02T20:24:44.325Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Harry defeats Voldie because Voldie took every possible precaution except disarming Harry ... I'm worried we might have a huge plot hole ending.

comment by JenniferRM · 2015-03-01T08:41:35.279Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can think of a solution, but may not be the solution because it relies on untested extensions of previous mechanisms having to do with "Dementers" which HarryPrime knows to be magical incarnations of death, that obey people's expectations about death. Critically, it depends on how much play he has in the distance and plasticity of dementer control.

My plan probably requires him to have put it into motion during the text we already read. Imagine that when he was surrounded at the end of chapter 112 at this moment, he put his plan into motion:

You know, said the last voice within Harry, the voice of hope, I think this is getting pretty bad even by my standards.

Right after that, he could have started expecting 40 dementers to arrive at his location without disturbing or being seen by anyone while traveling, so it doesn't change anything already known about the world before he time turned already.

He expects them to arrive in a group, and to kill everyone but him and Hermione, even if he himself has already been killed (this last clause might not work, depending on how the magic about dementer expectation control works). He expects the dementers to travel at a poetically appropriate speed (to help make the expectations plausible enough to happen), so perhaps the speed of a killing curse, which might be approximated by the speed of sound, or ~750 miles per hour.

If Azkaban is 100 miles away (doubtful) they take 8 minutes. If 200 miles (plausible), then 16 minutes. If 300 miles (also possible) then 24 minutes. I think 250 is most reasonable, so 20 minutes is the maximum likelihood for the arrival time? Unless killing curses move faster than sound, in which case earlier?

Azkaban is somewhere "unplottable" in the north sea so a 20 minute delay is reasonable. For strategic reasons, Harry expects the dementers to rendevous at a point far enough away from where he is that Voldemort and the death eaters can't sense the doom aura of the dementers. Then when 40 are ready in a group somewhere moderately close, he expects them to swoop together in at the speed of killing curses and kill everyone but him and Hermione. One for each death eater, and the spares for Voldemort.

To expect this, and expect that it had a good chance of working was a risk, requiring ~20 minutes to pass between starting the expectation and the dementers arriving, but all through chapter 113 he was not asked by Voldemort if he had betrayed Voldemort yet (this probably would count as that), so the risk has already paid off so far...

That chapter, but the way, took approximately 15 minutes and 30 seconds to occur. I read the verbal parts out loud to myself and timed how long it took.

There were bits like this where I generally assumed that it would be perceived as less than a minute (I counted 30 seconds for this line, rather than 60):

Mr. White screamed through his mask's distortion for what seemed like a full minute.

If my timing of chapter 113 count is accurate, then starting at the beginning of chapter 114 Harry needs to buy about 4 minutes and 30 seconds of conversation, and then he should expect his enemies to be attacked by dementers at an unusually fast speed.

One potential flaw in the plan is that he may not have started expecting the right things early enough. In chapter 113 this bit of narrator description of Harry's mental state shows up around the 11 minute mark and seems uncharacteristic for someone who expects dementers to show up as expected.

Harry was chilled, and shivering, and not only because he was naked in the night. He didn't understand why Voldemort was not just killing him. There seemed to be only a single line leading into the future, and it was Voldemort's chosen line, and Harry did not know what came after this.

So maybe he grew a spine and a brain right after that, in which case he started expecting dementers 4.5 minutes before the end of 113 and needs to buy more like 15.5 minutes in chapter 114.

So what does he do to buy time? Basically, he starts saying a lot of things that are true and interesting and require responses...

For each unknown power you tell me how to masster, or other ssecret you tell me that I desire to know, you may name one more of thosse to insstead be protected and honored under my reign.

Personally, I think Harry is actually HarryPrime now, and he doesn't care nearly as much about his family and friends as Voldemort thinks, at least not compared to preventing the end of the world.

So I think Harry's first move should be to think for as long as he can get away with. Then say out loud that he can think of five things off the top of his head that might be a power-known-not or other qualifying secret. This buys him time to emit more sentences and come up with more things.

(Things he could say that would make the claim of 5 reasonable include: the secret of patronus 2.0, the secret of dementers, flitwick's tourament curse, partial transfiguration, and the fact that magic is a homozygous recessive trait. But he doesn't list them right off the bat that shortly.)

After stating a number, I think he asks clarifying questions about what counts as a secret, or a power, and offers one thing that might count or might not, which would the idea of setting death eaters under other unbreakable vows (to themselves persist in the prevention of the end of the world after Harry is dead) as an example of a strategically helpful thing Voldemort might not have considered as a possible life saving thing to talk about (this also, btw potentially creates allies for HarryPrime's real new goal which is to prevent the world's destruction without stopping to be nice or fulfill other ideals).

Through his wording, he can honestly communicates that his new life goal, by the way, has in fact been transformed by the unbreakable vow that was just taken and he offers himself in service to Voldemort, conditional on Voldemort wanting to protect the world. He really wants to help.

Also it creates a potential conversational opening for him to say that in pursuit of protection of the world he actually cares more now about learn the wording of the prophesy that relates to the potential end of the world, so that he can be more effective in his world saving. Learning the prophesy is probably related to his new vowed goal.

If Voldemort is unhappy with stalling, and Harry has to get down to brass tacks fast, he let's Voldemort know that the secret of Dementers is one that he has composed a riddle for, for someone else (which he has already done for Hermione so it is in theory possible even though we haven't seen the contents of this riddle on camera yet), but it relies on insights and perspectives that Voldemort might not have and so he needs to ask some questions to restructure the riddle. But doing so could take a while and could be done after other secrets were exchanged for lives. Which order does Voldemort prefer?

If Voldemort wants a patronus 2.0 riddle that is optimized for him, then there are a bunch of potentially relevant things about Voldemort's mind and plans that determine whether and how to construct a riddle personalized to him, like "Can you cast patronus 1.0 and if not, why do you think not?"

It is hard to plan a conversation in detail, because the other person's reactions are always relevant, but I could relatively easily see Harry stretching out a conversation about secrets for a good 20-60 minutes, and somewhere in that conversation, hopefully, the dementers swoop in and maybe kill everyone but Harry and Hermione, or at least it gives Harry a distraction during which he might grab the time turner and escape.

I'd rather get the longer happier ending (though I am curious about the shorter sadder ending). Should I submit this plan to fanfiction as a possible solution, or does it need more polishing?

Replies from: Duncan
comment by Duncan · 2015-03-01T14:43:54.944Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You should look at reddit to coordinate your actions with others. One idea I like is to organize the proposal of all reasonable ideas and minimize duplication. Organization thread here: http://www.reddit.com/r/HPMOR/comments/2xiabn/spoilers_ch_113_planning_thread/

Replies from: JenniferRM
comment by JenniferRM · 2015-03-02T00:11:44.391Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the URL :-)

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-01T06:15:41.017Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh, interesting. EY just asked his readers to solve an impossible problem. I wonder how many will feel they have enough at stake here to actually pay the mental and emotional tax involved in solving impossible problems, to maintain that awful tension. I mean, at the end of the day, it's a fanfic on the Internet.

I sure hope the problem looks easier to some smarter readers than me, because it's gonna be silly from a promotion-of-rationality angle if the addition of rationality to Harry Potter changes the outcome from "hero wins" to "hero dies and people he cares about get horribly tortured to death".

comment by narfanator · 2015-02-28T23:09:39.835Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thought some more, and I have some ideas.

One of the realizations I think I had is that magic recognizes divisions where there are none. PT being the prime example, but also the ability of armor to block spells. PT relies on removing the caster's understanding of divisions; what if there is a way to add divisions? If Harry can convince himself that his skin is not part of himself, will it block spells the way thick leather does?

Conversely, are there other divisions that open possibilities if removed? Like between people and the ground, or people and people?

Most thinking I'm reading about uses PT to create a weapon with which to attack, but attack is not the goal. Escape is. Means of escape fall into a few categories, I think: Figuring out something like Apparition on the spot, quantum tunnelling, or Newtonian. Right now I'm just going to think about "newtonian" - It's just as ridiculous for transfiguration to not include velocity as it is for it to only effect "discrete" objects. Can Harry simply add enough velocity to himself to escape? (Adding acceralation doesn't work, as enough to escape fast enough probably squishes him)

Here are crazier things:

  • There's good proper acausality in this universe. Coma-tea, time-turners, and the Stars spell. What's going on there? Is there some way to use that?

  • At first, there is evidence that changes to the body and brain effect the mind. But, there's also a pile of evidence that, under circumstances, it doesn't - Horcurxes, and both resurrections. What if Harry can detach his life/magic from his body?

Replies from: Unknowns
comment by Unknowns · 2015-03-01T05:35:08.451Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Map says that Harry is Tom Riddle. So although it probably doesn't satisfy Eliezer, since you could say it is not "avoiding immediate death" in the physical sense, and it is not through his own efforts (Eliezer's stipulation), in reality the ending in which he survives could simply be they kill him as planned, he ends up in Tom Riddle's Horcrux network and can go and propose to someone that he take over his body at least temporarily.

comment by wobster109 · 2015-03-02T08:09:48.258Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can we each propose a non-transfiguration solution? Even if it's just a rough idea. I feel like we're getting stuck on transfiguration, and a bunch of those require very precise handling of things 10 feet away (such as death eaters) or significantly big things (Harry's body parts). Hermione struggled to get the stunning hex right on the first try, and I feel Eliezer will categorize "transfigure this very precise, remote thing" as a "new magical power".

Replies from: lerjj, gilch
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T18:02:21.273Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Stratagem (1) State something that is true, but that LV won't believe. Either LV thinks you've broken the Parseltongue curse, or you gain time in the confusion. Him thinking that you've broken the curse gives you a power he knows not that you can bargain/threaten with. Sub-suggestions: "Sometimes we make our own phoenix tears" (when asked why he told his friends to refrain back near the start) ; "The solar system will die in 10 billion years and you will be forever alone" ; "Hey, you know how you forged a time-turned letter? Well, it didn't actually include my code-word for time-turned messages... I wonder if the great Lord Voldemort can predict what will happen now?" (not a lie).

And someone else made the suggestion of making statements that have a true consequent so that you can make up the antecedent along the lines of "If you destroy me now, the sun will die, and the starts blink out one by one. I know not when, but it shall cause you great grief and misery teacher. If you allow me to live, shall keep them alive for as long as I can, remember my vow"

comment by gilch · 2015-03-02T19:53:09.810Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been wondering for a while now: can you say Ththiss ssentensce iss a lie! in Parseltongue?

Replies from: gjm, lerjj
comment by gjm · 2015-03-02T21:38:12.785Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would expect the last word to turn into "paradox" in the same sort of word as the last word in Harry's test turned into "four".

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T21:19:26.803Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can't say 2+2=3, so no. You will input the word 'true' as the simplest fix.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-28T21:23:00.972Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Parseltongue statement must be a critical part of the upcoming solution, I think. Simply killing the Death Eaters will not do; they are, as Voldemort puts it, useless. (That is, a solution that disables the Death Eaters but not Voldemort is not a solution.)

The text of the boundary conditions suggests that Harry can't change Voldemort's values, but the lesson suggestion makes clear that he can change Voldemort's beliefs.

I think the first thing for Harry to suggest is that the prophecy is being misinterpreted. The trouble with this is he needs to hear the prophecy to argue it as well as possible, and Voldemort is unlikely to tell it to him.

So, what lessons does Harry have for Voldemort? Partial transfiguration, and implicitly timeless physics. Friendship? Science fiction? Dyson spheres? We, with knowledge of the prophecy, can feed Voldemort the data he needs to come to the right conclusion.

(During these discussions, of course, he can be partially transfiguring whatever he likes. Carbon nanotubes, hollowing out the ground beneath him, and so on.)

Replies from: Shawnsbert
comment by Shawnsbert · 2015-03-01T00:39:04.623Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry can talk to LV about the life cycles of stars and the heat death of the universe. All this could force LV to rethink what it means to be immortal when the sun engulfs the earth or the universe hits maximum entropy. This could buy some time.

Replies from: JenniferRM
comment by JenniferRM · 2015-03-01T06:19:35.886Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree that this would be relevant, but Harry doesn't know the literal text of the prophesy yet. Only discussion of "destroying the world" has happened in his presence, not "tear apart the stars".

The fact that "protecting the earth" in the very long run requires protecting the earth from solar flares and supernovas hasn't yet been understood by Voldemort.

Replies from: minichirops, Luke_A_Somers
comment by minichirops · 2015-03-01T08:54:13.147Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorta ties into something I thought about much earlier;

-- The easiest way to prevent LV from killing HP would be for HP to convince LV that his intention is misguided. -- His intention is to kill Harry to save the world. (funny, that) -- Killing Harry will not save the world. It is clear that LV is aware of this, based on his reflections on self-fulfilling prophecies. -- LV intends to defy the prophecy at every point of intention, and will therefore try to kill HP anyway, because if the prophecy is coming true anyway he's already screwed and has nothing to lose. -- Convincing LV that killing HP is useless is therefore insufficient. He must be convinced that killing HP will bring about the very thing he wishes to avoid. -- HP's existence must be tied to the continued well-being of the world. -- What does HP have that could save the world? Well, power over dementors. -- What might dementors do that could destroy the world? Jump into the sun, perhaps? -- The realization that that would be an optimal thing for death incarnate to do will cause the thing itself to happen. -- Unfortunately, the vow cannot prevent this, because it allowed for the weighing of risks, which by nature includes contemplation of disastrous possibilities. (if I die, does this end the earth? Is it dementors? if I don't think about this question, and they've done something, that's a certain bad thing, but if I think about it, I might decide there's nothing wrong and that's a not-certain bad thing, so I'll take the lesser risk and think about it.) -- HP is the only one who can stop them from destroying the sun. And if he dies, he cannot prevent them from doing so. -- Not that killing HP would be intelligent in any case, as there's a non-zero chance that his death and subsequent entrance into the horcrux system would kill LV too.

I'm very interested in commentary.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-03-01T15:35:25.837Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think Harry would automatically consider Dementors jumping into the Sun an optimal thing to do as there are too many unknowns.

  • Can a Dementor fly high enough or fast enough to leave the Earth's atmosphere? Practically speaking, we don't know how much of their flight is true flight and how much they are bound by forces like gravity (not as much as true material beings, obviously, but that's not necessarily the same as not at all).

  • Can a Dementor survive away from the Earth? We don't know if they need to absorb sustenance. It may be that they need to draw on the Earth's ambient magical field to continue to exist, or to remain within a certain range of living beings with thoughts and feelings to passively absorb. It may be that shadows of Death have no meaning too far away from the nearest living thing.

  • How long would it take a Dementor to reach the Sun? We don't know their maximum travelling speed, but you can Apparate away from them, and the journey might easily take long enough for humanity to achieve magico-technological singularity in the meantime, or for cosmic-scale Patronus casting to become a thing, or any number of other solutions to be implemented.

  • Can Dementors destroy the Sun? Azkaban is still standing despite having a significant concentration of Dementors in it for at least decades, and we know it's not because it's magically protected, since Dementors consume magic. It's plausible that all the Dementors on Earth will not have a sufficient impact on the Sun's lifespan to make a difference to humanity.

Replies from: minichirops
comment by minichirops · 2015-03-02T05:55:23.476Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My suspicion that they would destroy the sun has more to do with their action as potential heat sinks due to their indestructibility than their drain abilities.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-03-01T16:58:14.926Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He does know that a prophecy said something about 'tearing apart the very s-' AND that a centaur was concerned about the stars all going dark.

Stellar shenanigans seem like a very likely culprit.

Replies from: minichirops
comment by minichirops · 2015-03-02T05:59:32.959Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Exactly my thought. Aaaaand there was mention of apparating one into the sun.

comment by dxu · 2015-02-28T20:51:57.812Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Question for EY:

In the chapter, you wrote:

If a viable solution is posted before 12:01AM Pacific Time (8:01AM UTC) on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2015, the story will continue.

Does this mean that the reader-suggested solution will in fact be used, or will the story simply continue with the solution you originally had in mind?

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-02-28T21:40:34.996Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How many months do you want to wait until Eliezer rewrites the story to match the reader-provided solution?

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-02-28T22:24:46.626Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fair enough. The phrasing caught me a bit; that's all.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T10:20:31.858Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic Assumptions Thread

"Excuse me, I should not have asked that of you, Mr. Potter, I forgot that you are blessed with an unusually pessimistic imagination -"

Ch. 15

Sometimes people called Moody 'paranoid'.

Moody always told them to survive a hundred years of hunting Dark Wizards and then get back to him about that.

Mad-Eye Moody had once worked out how long it had taken him, in retrospect, to achieve what he now considered a decent level of caution - weighed up how much experience it had taken him to get good instead of lucky - and had begun to suspect that most people died before they got there. Moody had once expressed this thought to Lyall, who had done some ciphering and figuring, and told him that a typical Dark Wizard hunter would die, on average, eight and a half times along the way to becoming 'paranoid'. This explained a great deal, assuming Lyall wasn't lying.

Yesterday, Albus Dumbledore had told Mad-Eye Moody that the Dark Lord had used unspeakable dark arts to survive the death of his body, and was now awake and abroad, seeking to regain his power and begin the Wizarding War anew.

Someone else might have reacted with incredulity.

Ch. 63

Under standard literary convention... the enemy wasn't supposed to look over what you'd done, sabotage the magic items you'd handed out, and then send out a troll rendered undetectable by some means the heroes couldn't figure out even after the fact, so that you might as well have not defended yourself at all. In a book, the point-of-view usually stayed on the main characters. Having the enemy just bypass all the protagonists' work, as a result of planning and actions taken out of literary sight, would be a diabolus ex machina, and dramatically unsatisfying.

But in real life the enemy would think that they were the main character, and they would also be clever, and think things through in advance, even if you didn't see them do it. That was why everything about this felt so disjointed, with parts unexplained and seemingly inexplicable.

Ch. 94

"You may think that a grade of Dreadful... is not fair. That Miss Granger was faced with a test... for which her lessons... had not prepared her. That she was not told... that the exam was coming on that day."

The Defense Professor drew in a shaking breath.

"Such is realism," said Professor Quirrell.

Ch. 103

Recalling finewbs's coordinated saturation bombing strategy, if the goal is to maximize the total best-guess probability of the set of scenarios covered by at least one solution, this means crafting and posting diverse solutions which handle as wide a diversity of conjunctions of pessimistic assumptions as possible. This would be helped by having a list of pessimistic assumptions.

(It also may be helped by having a reasonable source of probabilities of scenarios, such as HPMOR predictions on PredictionBook. Also: in an adversarial context, the truth of pessimistic assumptions is correlated.)

Replies from: Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, lerjj, Steve_Rayhawk, None, Steve_Rayhawk, lerjj, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, None, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, None
comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T10:54:07.037Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Voldemort has made advance preparations which will thwart every potential plan of Harry's based on favorable tactical features or potential features of the situation which might reasonably be obvious to him. These include Harry's access to his wand, the Death Eaters' lack of armor enchantments or prepared shields, the destructive magic resonance, the Time-Turner, Harry's other possessions, Harry's glasses, the London portkey, a concealed Patronus from Hermione's revival, or Hermione's potential purposeful assistance. Any attempt to use these things will fail at least once and and will, absent an appropriate counter-strategy, immediately trigger lethal force against Harry.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T12:52:40.862Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Voldemort wants Harry to defeat him on this occasion. To get the best ending, Harry must defeat Voldemort, and then, before leaving the graveyard, identify a benefit that Voldemort gains by losing and deny him that benefit.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T12:20:49.893Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: An intended solution involves, as a side-effect, Harry suffering a mortal affliction such as Transfiguration sickness or radiation poisoning, and is otherwise highly constrained. The proposed solution is close to this intended solution, and to match the other constraints, it must either include Harry suffering such an affliction with a plan to recover from it, or subject Harry to conditions where he would normally suffer such an affliction except that he has taken unusual measures to prevent it.

(This is one reading of the proviso, "evade immediate death".)

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T13:08:04.352Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Voldemort has reasonable cause to be confident that his Horcrux network will not be affected by Harry's death.

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T17:43:44.624Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption LV has been planning exactly this conversation for months and has thought of every possible plan of action that he could do. He has Harry level intelligence. All viable solutions must therefore use information LV does not have access to, which does not include the fact that Harry is Tom Riddle. Asking for power he knows not is trying to patch this minor hole.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T11:12:05.673Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: The effect of the Unbreakable Vow depends crucially on the order in which Harry lets himself become aware of arguments about its logical consequences.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-03T19:15:55.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And not only Harry must not interrupt the game, he must prevent everyone else who do not know he's Time-Turned from doing it.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T12:05:35.809Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Any plan which causes the occurrence of the vignette from Ch. 1 does not lead to the best ending. (For example, one reading of phenomena in Ch. 89 is that that Harry is in a time loop, and the vignette may be associated with the path that leads to a reset of the loop.)

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T17:45:22.287Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption LV knows that Harry can do partial transfiguration. LV has put up anti- apparition, anti- time turning and anti-transfiguration wards.

Less probable Pessimistic assumption these wards do not count as LV's magic once laid and will not resonate with Harry, meaning they will stay active. Alternatively, a death eater has laid them on previously understood instructions.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T13:09:41.008Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Voldemort can reliably give orders to Death Eaters within line-of-sight, and Death Eaters can cast several important spells, without any visible sign or sound.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T12:59:13.791Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Voldemort wants Harry to reveal important information as a side effect of using his wand. To get the best ending, Harry must identify what information this would be, and prevent Voldemort from acquiring this information.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T12:10:24.065Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Hermione, once wakened, despite acting normal, will be under Voldemort's control.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-02T11:59:16.115Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(somewhat shaky) Pessimistic Assumption

Voldemort can use a Time-Turner, too, and he will send himself a message from the future to win.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T11:30:51.331Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Concerning Transfiguration:

Replies from: Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk, Steve_Rayhawk
comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T11:53:52.941Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Neither partial Transfiguration nor extremely fast Transfiguration (using extremely small volumes) circumvent the limits on Transfiguring air.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T11:37:38.607Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Harry's wand is not already touching a suitable object for Transfiguration. Neither partial Transfiguration nor extremely fast Transfiguration of extremely small volumes lift the restriction against Transfiguring air, dust specks or surface films would need to be specifically seen, the tip of the wand is not touching his skin, and the definition of "touching the wand" starts at the boundary of the wand material.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T12:30:25.614Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Free Transfiguration doesn't work like a superpower from Worm: it does not grant sensory feedback about the object being Transfigured, even if it does interpret the caster's idea of the target.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T12:24:09.996Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: At least in the limit of unusually thin and long objects, Transfiguration time actually scales as the product of the shortest local dimension with the square of the longest local dimension of the target, rather than the volume. Harry has not detected this because he was always Transfiguring volumes or areas, and McGonagall was mistaken.

Replies from: pSinigaglia
comment by pSinigaglia · 2015-03-03T13:24:40.646Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Azkaban is stated that Harry transfiguration of a thin cylindrical layer from the wall is fast because its volume is small. This seems to contradict your assumption.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T12:03:12.150Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Voldemort, and some of the Death Eaters, have witnessed combat uses of the time-skewed Transfiguration featuring in Chapter 104. They will have appropriate reflexes to counter any attacks by partial Transfiguration which they could have countered if the attacks had been made using time-skewed Transfiguration.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T11:55:17.246Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: It is not possible to Transfigure antimatter.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T11:51:50.707Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Plans which depend on the use of partial Transfiguration, or Transfiguration of volumes small enough to complete at timescales smaller than that of mean free paths in air (order of 160 picoseconds?), to circumvent the limitation on Transfiguring air, will only qualify as valid if they contain an experimental test of the ability to Transfigure air, together with a backup plan which is among the best available in case it is not possible to Transfigure air.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T11:43:11.038Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Plans which depend on Transfiguring antimatter will only qualify as valid if they contain an experimental test of the ability to Transfigure antimatter, together with a backup plan which is among the best available in case it is not possible to Transfigure antimatter.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T10:39:07.554Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: There are more than two endings. A solution meeting the stated criteria is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the least sad ending.

If a viable solution is posted [...] the story will continue to Ch. 121.

Otherwise you will get a shorter and sadder ending.

Note that the referent of "Ch. 121" is not necessarily fixed in advance.

Counterargument: "I expect that the collective effect of 'everyone with more urgent life issues stays out of the effort' shifts the probabilities very little" suggests that reasonable prior odds of getting each ending are all close to 0 or 1, so any possible hidden difficulty thresholds are either very high or very low.

Counterargument: The challenge in Three Worlds Collide only had two endings.

Counterargument: A third ending would have taken additional writing effort, to no immediately obvious didactic purpose.

Replies from: Steve_Rayhawk
comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-02T13:00:42.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A necessary condition for a third ending might involve a solution that purposefully violates the criteria in some respect.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-03T00:07:26.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Semi-pessimistic assumption: Harry is in the Mirror, which has staged this conflict (perhaps on favorable terms) because it's stuck on the problem of figuring out what Tom Riddle's ideal world is.

Replies from: Steve_Rayhawk
comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-03T00:10:16.321Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption: Voldemort evaded the Mirror, and is watching every trick Harry's coming up with to use against his reflection.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-02T18:21:34.722Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pessimistic assumption Voldemort should not be killed, since without him it will never be known if the Prophecy came true.

comment by shminux · 2015-03-02T05:49:21.722Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer gave a hint of the solution in chapter 5:

"You triumphed over the Dark Lord by being more awful than he was, and survived the Killing Curse by being more terrible than Death."

Replies from: DanArmak, gjm, lerjj
comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-02T08:53:14.519Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Death is the Destroyer of Worlds, but Harry is the Destroyer of Stars!

comment by gjm · 2015-03-02T08:54:39.476Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right now it seems more like a hint of the problem.

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T21:20:39.196Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So what you're saying... is that Harry should sing?

comment by toner · 2015-03-01T15:56:39.381Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Observation: If the purpose of this exercise is to run an AI box experiment, with EY as gatekeeper and the internet hivemind as the AI, then the ability to speak in parseltongue is problematic: It appears to make the game easier for the AI, thereby preventing the results from being generalized to a standard AI box experiment.

So why did Eliezer include the parseltongue constraint?

Maybe parseltongue is meant to introduce the concept of provability in a way that everyone can understand. To speak in parseltongue in real life, you just speak in logic statements and supply a proof with any statement you make. It seems reasonable (modulo computational complexity and provability concerns) for an AI to be able and/or required to supply proofs in an AI box experiment and parseltongue enables that in version of the game in the story.

I don't understand the constraint to speak only in parseltongue. Is that there to force us to focus on a solution set that is somehow of interest for friendly AI research?

Replies from: hamnox
comment by hamnox · 2015-03-03T17:01:19.914Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's there to limit Harry using the death eaters somehow. Seriously, my first thought on this problem was to convince the death eaters that there were two Voldemorts to seed confusion.

comment by alexanderwales · 2015-03-01T00:49:30.928Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Planning thread over at /r/HPMOR for centralized discussion. It's probably better to have segregated groups working on this, but I don't really think that'll be a problem.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-28T21:35:57.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you have any remotely good idea, post it as a fanfiction.net review. The currently extant ones are awful. Most don't even make sense.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-28T22:22:07.989Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like the one about causing a nuclear holocaust by splitting one atom.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-28T22:29:13.167Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My favourite so far have been the reviews that are actually reviews. There's one that accuses EY of breaking the fanfiction.net TOS, which does not permit "choose your own adventure" stories....


comment by WalterL · 2015-03-02T17:37:47.185Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I regard fighting as futile (can't speak magic without death eaters attacking, can't cast worldess magic without Voldemort sensing through resonance and shooting). Harry must lose.

Voldemort is only killing him because of the prophecy. Harry should ask to hear the prophecy, so that if he is ever reborn somehow he can avoid it. Voldemort will probably tell him, hard to think how giving information about the destruction of the world to Harry could hurt it, since he's taken the Vow and now can only threaten the world through ignorance.

Once Harry hears the prophecy he can point out that there is no reason (beyond the coincidental timing) to think that he is the person referred to in it. If Voldemort agrees, and no longer NEEDS Harry's death, then Harry offers to earn his life by serving Voldemort with another Unbreakable Vow insuring his loyalty.

Harry, if not the World-Ender, would be super-valuable to Voldemort as:

  1. False opposition figure to lure in and betray opponents
  2. World-Safety-Vowed Science Czar in the new regime, in charge of monitoring Muggle and Wizard breakthroughs and making certain they don't interfere with the earth's new role as Voldemort's idiot-hunting range.
  3. Bodyguard vs. Dementors

If Voldemort accepts, Harry goes through with this, and becomes the Dark Lord's Vowed servant, thereby surviving this crisis. As for the future? Perhaps the horse will learn to sing.

Replies from: TylerJay
comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-02T17:46:57.957Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort will probably tell him

I don't think that's a foregone conclusion, and not one Harry would be willing to bet his life and the fate of the universe on. Voldemort specifically said that he doesn't want to tell Harry because telling him could make it come true. Harry has to convince Voldie that it's not just okay to tell him, but beneficial to his goals to tell him. That's the kind of argument you'd have to craft here.

Replies from: WalterL
comment by WalterL · 2015-03-02T17:52:21.594Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It could have made it come true BEFORE the Vow. Now Harry, having Vowed, is only ever a danger to the world through ignorance. Increasing his knowledge cannot increase the danger he poses the world.

Replies from: TylerJay
comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-02T18:29:21.927Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree. This is a good line of reasoning. I was just saying that Harry has to make that argument and it's not guaranteed LV will accept it.

comment by Duncan · 2015-03-01T02:25:49.989Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why hasn't Voldemort suspended Harry in air? He floated himself into the air as a precaution against proximity, line of sight problems, and probably magics that require a solid substance to transmit through. If Harry were suspended in air partial transfiguration options would be vastly reduced.

Why hasn't Voldemort rendered Harry effectively blind/deaf/etc. - Harry is gaining far more information in real time than necessary for Voldemort's purposes?

Also, it seems prudent not to let Harry get all over the place by shooting him, smashing him, etc. without some form of containment. I don't know how some part of Harry could cause problems, but it seems prudent to eliminate every part of him with Fiendfyre (blood, guts, and all) if that is what Voldemort is aiming for.

Can Fawkes be summoned to extract Harry? If it helps Harry can decide to go to Azkaban.

Harry should be aware that reality is basically doomed to repeat the Atlantis mistake by now (either via AGI or whatever Atlantis unlocked). With the vow that Voldemort made him take he can honestly say that he is the best bet to avoid that fate. That is, Voldemort now needs Harry (and Hermione) to save reality. This seems like the most straight forward method get out of the current annoyance.

Some partial transfiguration options I haven't seen mentioned:

  • Colorless / odorless neuro toxins (Harry should have researched these as he is in 'serious mode' now that Hermione died). Delivered via the ground directly into each death eater and/or into the air in specific areas.
  • Nanobots - I can't recall at this time if this would work or if Harry needs to have the design already in his head. It is possible Atlantis tech. may utilize a vast array of these already.
  • Transfiguration may allow one to exploit quantum weirdness. Many things can happen at very small scales that could happen at large scales if everything is lined up just so (which never happens in reality, but transfiguration may make possible).
comment by shminux · 2015-02-28T23:57:07.830Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why doesn't LV tell one of the DEs to finite incantatem HP's glasses?

Replies from: Unknowns
comment by Unknowns · 2015-03-01T05:31:02.912Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

and tell Harry to drop his wand now that the Vow is over, otherwise the other Death Eaters kill him.

Replies from: hamnox
comment by hamnox · 2015-03-03T17:11:43.853Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

happenss next chapter, of coursse. readerss should be ready for Voldemort to adapt in wayss not explicity sstated—Voldemort has intelligence to do sso.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-03-02T20:03:46.649Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Posted on ff.net: Harry realizes that his true power the Dark Lord knows not is his ambition to master the fundamentals of magic, in contrast with how proud of himself Voldemort was for developing one original ritual. Harry cannot explain this to Voldemort-that would go against his Vow. However, he can drop some very juicy teasers in Parseltongue; in particular, he can imply that his secret holds the cure to Voldemort's ennui. It might go something like (in Parseltongue):

"Though you are ambitiouss, you have no ambition. That iss true power Dark Lord knowss not-my ambition. I could purssue ssafely, but cannot trusst you will, sso cannot tell. Do not think can devisse ssafe hint in time I am given. Keep me alive, and perhapss ssomeday I can sshare-maybe I create ssafe hint, maybe I ssee change in you, or come to believe it besst that you know. Or kill me, and learn how long killing idiotss sstayss interessting. Conditionss for creating another like me may not be as ssimple as you think"

Replies from: lerjj, DanArmak
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T21:15:58.009Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My model of Voldemort is highly risk averse when it comes to existential risk. His response to this is to laugh at having been told he has no ambition, then to kill Harry.

Voldemort trusts himself not to destroy the world, just the same way as Harry trusts himself. Maybe we shouldn't be so trusting of either.

Replies from: SilentCal
comment by SilentCal · 2015-03-02T21:25:38.474Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could he really laugh off such an accusation made in Parseltongue? If Voldemort thinks Harry is sincere but mistaken, Harry should follow up by noting that his hidden ambition was key to Patronus 2.0, the fundamental law of potions (probably known to V but discovering at age 11 is impressive even for a RIddle), and partial transfiguration, revealing as little as possible but as much as necessary.

Replies from: lerjj
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T21:35:29.642Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Accusations in Parseltongue are not true, the speaker merely believes them. (Actually, this raises the possibility of lying using a confundus charm. I'll assume that's banned by some Rule). If you were trying to mitigate the chance of someone destroying the world, you place a very high probability on them trying to trick you. The response is to use Hermione's algorithm that defeated LV earlier and place an ethical injunction on not killing Harry.

Now, that's probably a little harsh for the exam question, and LV won't necessarily adopt his enemy's tactic (even though it defeated him once and that's one of his rules), but I should think he requires substantial evidence to not kill Harry. More than an accusation of not being ambitious, which is explained by Harry's naivety.

comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-02T20:45:10.540Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I very much doubt that the power the Dark Lord knows not is ambition. See: chapter 70.

Replies from: Velorien, SilentCal
comment by Velorien · 2015-03-02T20:50:29.034Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

From a prophecy sense, no. On the other hand, telling Voldemort that he is insufficiently ambitious, and having arguments to back that up, would really sting, and make him more likely to engage with the idea rather than just brushing it off and forcing Harry to go back to the original interrogation.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-03-02T21:09:39.821Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm throwing Quirrell's very words from that chapter in his face :). It doesn't sound like he has a clear idea of what to do with the world after he achieves domination of it.

If Harry can't quite say in Parseltongue that the Dark Lord has no ambition, he can nevertheless be confident that the particular ambition of discovering the magical theory of everything is unique to HJPEV. I think it's reasonable to call this his true hidden power, as it's the meta-power behind his invention of partial transfiguration, and a key ingredient in his power over Dementors (expecting death to be solvable). I suspect his honest answer to whether V would ever discover this ambition is that he doesn't know.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-02T23:08:17.322Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It doesn't sound like he has a clear idea of what to do with the world after he achieves domination of it.

No-one's ever asked. He might have lots of plans.

And while he claims he doesn't enjoy things (other than killing idiots), and so it could be argued he only acts to prevent bad things but has no positive ambitions, I think this is false. He was visibly, emotionally proud about his Great Invention. He enjoyed fighting the Wizarding War so much he postponed winning, and he laughed when he defeated Dumbledore. I put a high probability on him having lots of concrete ideas for two days from now.

If Harry can't quite say in Parseltongue that the Dark Lord has no ambition, he can nevertheless be confident that the particular ambition of discovering the magical theory of everything is unique to HJPEV.

On the contrary, when Harry asked Quirrel about the nature of magic, Quirrel said there was dozens of non-secret theories. Which means lots of wizards spent time inventing them. Which means many wizards shared this ambition - which seems very natural.

So it certainly isn't an ambition LV doens't know about. And I don't think you can call an ambition LV knows about and has seen in many people, but doesn't happen to share, a power he knows not.

comment by Illano · 2015-03-02T15:29:32.362Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry needs to lose. He needs to drop his wand, kneel down, and say in Parseltongue, "I loosssse." Quirrel has already set up several tests that Harry has failed by refusing to lose. By proving that he can indeed lose, instead of continuing to escalate the conflict until the stars themselves are at risk, he may be able to pass LVs final test.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-03-02T15:33:11.838Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Surely following Voldemort's exact instructions and giving up his secrets would equally count as losing, without risking annoying Voldemort and getting killed or punished if your hypothesis is wrong?

Replies from: Illano
comment by Illano · 2015-03-02T16:00:54.747Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course, that would count as losing as well. I just think he needs to explicitly acknowledge that he is losing, so that Voldemort doesn't think he is secretly plotting something else.

I'm just worried that this is all a big setup, and the 37 "Death Eaters" are really Harry's allies in disguise and Imperiused, so any attempt to get out will cause Harry to end up killing all of his friends and put him on the true path towards destroying the stars. There was enough potential foreshadowing for this to be true.

-They aren't wearing the correct battle armor, only a hastily transfigured replica.

-LV explicitly said he expected Harry's friends to show up later than they did (which could mean they were supposed to be there for this ritual).

-The two main ones I've heard people talk about seem to be Lucius Malfoy and Sirius Black, both of whom are arguably now Harry's allies.

Replies from: Astazha
comment by Astazha · 2015-03-02T19:24:14.300Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They all showed up when the Dark Mark was called, only one of them has a transfigured mask replica, and no Death Eaters are likely to be allies to Harry since Voldemort can apparently just will them into seven smoldering pieces at any time.

Replies from: Illano
comment by Illano · 2015-03-02T19:38:58.470Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, but who called the Dark Mark, and pointed out the transfigured mask. It could all be a ruse by LV. Constant Vigilance!

comment by iwfan53 · 2015-03-01T20:14:38.197Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have a way of escaping that uses an item that has been established.

A: In the interest of keeping it simple the thing the most obvious answer for something Harry can do that he in theory could teach Voldermort/keep him talking is partial transfiguration.

B: Once Harry tells Voldermort that he can partially transfigure things, Voldermort will want to know the words/motions. Harry can say that he can teach Voldermort (he can't teach him how to cast a Patronus due to Voldermort's lack of love and he can't teach him how not to fear the death the way Harry does, but Harry CAN teach Voldermort how to see the world made up of component atoms given enough time) but it would be easier to teach while doing/give him a visible example of how it works as he teaches (not a lie, it would be possible to teach without doing, but Parseltongue allows for lies of omission) this can open the door to at the very least get the orders moved from “Kill him if he tries to cast a spell” to “lets see you do it while I stand behind/off to the side/under heavy shields” while Voldermort watches Harry try to partially transfigure something, or at least keep Voldermort listening longer than the first 60 seconds, and how he reacts to the knowledge will determine what options are open to us next.

C: Once Harry brings up the point he can also suggest to Voldermort that he might want to dismiss any of the Death Eaters who he does not want to have present while Harry explains/demonstrates the nature of this power. Because while he can speak only in Parseltongue, he'll still have to be showing it off in front of everyone Voldermort wants present. Voldermort is probably much too smart to actually fall for this, and lead to him dismissing any of the Death Eaters, but spelling it out can buy Harry a few more seconds/Voldermort might decide to dismiss one or two of his followers, there is no downside to doing it.

D: Harry explains in Parseltongue that he show the power of partial transfiguration by changing the glasses he is wearing, which he will take off, and hold in one hand, while he holds the wand in the other.

E: Harry will transfigure half of the glasses into half of a playing card.

F: As soon as the transfiguration is complete and around the same time Lord Voldermort possibly starting to recognizes the king of hearts, Harry will bite down on the card with his teeth, and pull with the hand that held it, ripping it in half.

Yes I know it was said that he was supposed to have a Toe-Ring as a Harry's "Emergency Portkey", but that's helpful the same way that the Chamber on the third floor was helpful at keeping people out. It's meant to look more helpful/threatening than it really is.

Given that Harry is wearing a ring just like that one, with Hermonine's body in it instead, where is Harry's "Emergency Portkey"? Well wouldn't the perfect place to have one, be something he'd never be without, something that he'd always have within hands reach, something he could finger and caress and adjust without drawing too much attention?

Say the glasses on his face...

G: As it has not been previously established within the story what Harry has done with the playing card deck he got from “Santa Claus” it is not impossible or against the rules to suggest that Harry transfigured the king of hearts into a pair of glasses. He is saving himself via efforts that he had taken in advance that do not directly contradict anything we have previously been shown (the equivalent of an extended flashback scene in Leverage which shows far more happen than the initial version of the scene we saw for the first time)

H: Likewise it has never been ruled that a portkey looses its powers if it is transfigured into some other form than the one it had in the first place.

I: It is reasonable to assume that with his life depending upon it, Harry can tear a card apart faster than the time it will take for Voldermort to realize what is happening, give the order to attack, or cast a spell himself (even non-verbally) and have the spell cross the distance between himself and Harry, likewise he can do it fast enough that he can at least avoid being fatally shot by Voldermort.

J: As they have walked several miles they are clearly outside the grounds of Hogwarts, so its wards are not in play. Given that the Death Eaters were able to apparate to the graveyard rather than flying there on broomsticks, it is safe to assume that the graveyard had not previously been warded to prevent people from apparating to or from it before they did.

There is nothing in the story describing Voldermort or any of the others warding it afterwards. The wards that Voldermort mentions are clearly of an anti-time turning verity since he mentions the six hour limit so they'd be anti-time turner, but clearly anti-time turning can't be the same thing as anti-aparating because you can Phoenix into Azkabhan but not time turner inside it, or apparate inside it.

Likewise it is unlikely that the place was set up previously before they arrived to let you have a one way apparation (in but not out, assuming such a thing is possible with apparation we see it requires a magical artifact or a phoenix to get into Azkhaban there may be no such thing as a one way apparation ward), because magic that powerful would end up getting noticed which is what Voldermort doesn't want to happen since he needed the site of his ritual to not stand out.

So we have not had it directly spelled out that apparition and by effect portkeys can't be used to leave the garveyard and we have some fair evidence that it could be possible With that in mind, tearing up the card should cause Harry to be taken “somewhere in London”, and the old saying “Anywhere is better than here” doubtlessly applies at the moment.

K: Not only will he be somewhere else, but unless Voldermort was lying in a situation he would have no reason to lie in, and possesses powers dealing with portkey location determination that haven't shown up anywhere else in the story (nobody in cannon Potter or this Potter is shown to be able to tell where a portkey will take someone just by studying it) it is logical to assume that if Harry tears the card up, then Voldermort can not simply apparate right after Harry, and instead will have to start searching London for him.

L: While Voldermort starts to look for him Harry can cast a Patronus to get help from others, and start using partial transfiguration to make whatever materials he expects to need.

At the very least, by this point he has surely avoided “immediate death”. While meeting the following rules.

Harry must succeed via his own efforts. The cavalry is not coming. Everyone who might want to help Harry thinks he is at a Quidditch game.

This solution requires no “cavalry” the outside help Harry has been given (the king of hearts) is already well established.

Harry may only use capabilities the story has already shown him to have; he cannot develop wordless wandless Legilimency in the next 60 seconds.

Harry's ability to partially transfigure objects is well established already within this story.

Voldemort is evil and cannot be persuaded to be good; the Dark Lord's utility function cannot be changed by talking to him.

This is not an issue as the solution involves Harry escaping from Voldermort, and doing so simply by obeying his orders until the very last moment.

Harry raises his wand or speaks in anything except Parseltongue, the Death Eaters will fire on him immediately.

Harry can partially transfigure his glasses back into half a playing card without raising his wand by taking off his glasses and holding them lower to the ground, it is not unreasonable for him to also say that this skill requires intense concentration in Parseltongue (because it does) which is why he will be slightly hunched over examining the glasses very carefully as he works on them. This will have the effect of getting Harry's teeth closer to the edge of the card so he can bite and tear more quickly.

If the simplest timeline is otherwise one where Harry dies -if Harry cannot reach his Time-Turner without Time-Turned help -then the Time-Turner will not come into play.

Though time travel could without question be useful in the immediate future (for a given definition of “future”) this plan does not require any monkeying about with timelines to work, Harry can have taken this precaution at any point in time since he showed Voldermort the card itself back in chapter 65.

It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue.

Everything Harry needs to say in Parseltongue is truthful.

1:Harry knows how to partially transfigure.

2:Harry could teach Voldermort how to do it.

3:Voldermort should send away any Death Eaters he does not wish to see the process being done slowly and carefully before their eyes as opposed to being used quickly in battle.

4: Harry will show off the skill by partially transfiguring his glasses which he will hold in one hand, while he holds his wand in the other.

Given that there is no rule 7: “Harry is not allowed to have taken any precautions we did not see him take on screen/in writing” this by following steps A through L Harry can arrive naked “somewhere in London” naked with half of his glasses and his wand, but alive.

Can anyone see a way to improve this plan/ any obvious flaw?

Replies from: Apprentice
comment by Apprentice · 2015-03-01T21:55:23.516Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In chapter 104 we have this: "Harry had refreshed the Transfigurations he was maintaining, both the tiny jewel in the ring on his hand and the other one, in case he was knocked unconscious". The other one was Hermione's body. This suggests that the glasses are not a transfigured item.

Replies from: iwfan53, iwfan53
comment by iwfan53 · 2015-03-02T11:56:39.562Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay the new plan works like this.

Harry will say in Parseltongue that he will transfigure two objects, one to show the basic principles, one to show the more advanced applications of it/what you can do after you master the skill. Either of the objects he will be transfiguring materials into will have any magical properties, they will not allow him to kill Voldermort, and they will not allow him to magically escape the graveyard.

Harry will then transfigure his glasses (using the hold in one hand method I described in the first plan), to change just the color of the lenses to black, without changing the color of the rims, legs or any other part.

He will confirm that this was transfiguration and not some other simple charm to Voldermort and ask if he is interested in learning more about this power.

Then he will need to transfigure a section of the ground into the most powerful and most harmless looking flashbang grenade.

At that point he simply needs to release his transfiguration in the right way (if he can control how something approaches the end point as he transfigures it, just reverse that skill and you can choose how it looks as his transfigured control of it fades away not a new power just a new use for an old one) so as to pull the pin on the grenade.

The change to his glasses will prevent Harry from being blinded though he will still be deafened.

This won't be too much of a problem though because we've already seen him command his pouch with hand signals.

With the Death Eaters unable to see him, and possibly having more difficulty casting spells as well (thanks to being unable to hear themselves talk meaning they may screw up the verbal components to their spells) and Voldermort likewise unable to see him and reduced to firing blindly.... Harry has a decent chance to making it to his pouch, if he has the magic to summon it to him so much the better, if not just run like f*.

Then he needs to tell the pouch to give the king of hearts, and tear it up while holding onto his pouch.

That is how he can escape.

Thoughts/reactions people?

comment by iwfan53 · 2015-03-01T22:23:10.873Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you for pointing that out let me reconsider and revise..

comment by Epictetus · 2015-03-01T10:04:38.902Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort is going full Bond villain and talking when he should be killing. I figure I'll have to sleep on this problem, but here are some observations:

  • Harry can't speak with the Death Eaters. We haven't been told of a secret Parselmouth among them, so any conversation will be intelligible only to Harry and to Voldemort.

  • Voldemort can periodically ask in Parseltongue whether Harry is doing anything to try to escape, and a refusal to answer would likely result in a swift death.

  • It has been pointed out in canon that a good Legilimens can detect when someone is casting a spell (Harry vs. Snape in Half-Blood Prince). Whether wordless, wandless magic could evade Voldemort in this scenario is questionable.

  • The area is warded, so Apparition, portkeys, and probably phoenix teleportation might not be usable. On the other hand, Harry is Tom Riddle. Death Eaters were able to apparate to the location, suggesting those particular wards could be bypassed. Perhaps Voldemort committed an oversight here. And Harry presumably still has that portkey Dumbledore made for him.

  • Harry has a big rock whose transfiguration is bound to expire in the near future.

  • Harry and Voldemort spent a long time brewing that potion. Haven't worked out a timetable but I figure Harry's got a fair chance of stalling until someone notices him gone.

  • We don't know where Cedric fits in. However, involving him would basically involve us making up explanations given our knowledge of how things turn out. Absent any detail of Harry's plans regarding him, we can't have involve some secret plan between the two.

  • Patronus 2.0 is the big daddy of things Voldemort doesn't know and would take a long time to understand. Partial transfiguration is another useful power Voldemort knows not. Using them could be an issue on account of the tactical situation, but Harry can certainly talk about them and possibly sell them as something Voldemort would want to take the time to learn.

At present, I figure that the best approach that doesn't involve deux ex machina (admittedly a power of canon-Harry) or details unknown to the reader would involve talking to Voldemort and trying to either buy time or pique his interest enough to delay killing Harry until a later day. Using any kind of force to resist would be extremely risky and likely futile.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-01T18:03:08.271Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort is going full Bond villain and talking when he should be killing.

Harry has some power that Voldemort knows that, that very possibly could die with Harry. It seems like the right play for Voldemort to let him talk for a bit.

Harry and Voldemort spent a long time brewing that potion. Haven't worked out a timetable but I figure Harry's got a fair chance of stalling until someone notices him gone.

It was about an hour. Somewhere between three and four hours remain until someone Harry leaves, and it may be further until someone notices that he is gone.

Replies from: Epictetus
comment by Epictetus · 2015-03-01T19:22:42.458Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Somewhere between three and four hours remain until someone Harry leaves, and it may be further until someone notices that he is gone.

It's June 13, 1992. The moon had already risen by the time they got to the graveyard ("The moon above was over three-quarters full, already seeming bright with night not fully fallen." Ch. 111). Hogwarts is located in Scotland, and the moon tables for that date show that in Glasgow, the moon rose at 8:48 pm, local time. It's not quite dark yet. The resurrection of Hermione and Voldemort recovering his body take some time.

By the time the Death Eaters arrive, it's night ("The gibbous moon riding higher in the cloudless sky, the stars and wash of the Milky Way visible in all their majesty within the darkness" Ch. 113). At that date the sun set at 10:03 pm in Scotland.

Now, at 11:04 Harry checks his watch and shortly thereafter receives the (fake) message. Harry goes back in time 5 hours and is confirmed to be in the past at 6:45 (11:45 future time). I don't know how long it took to possibly talk to Cedric and walk all the way back to the castle and make it to the third-floor corridor in time. If he gave himself some 10-15 minutes travel time, he's got at most an hour and a half before his departure from the Quiddich field.

comment by garabik · 2015-03-01T09:31:02.506Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I shall take no chances... in not destroying the world...

Oh my... did Voldemort just magically imbued Harry to do his best to put the whole world into time-frozen stasis in the Mirror?

Though revealing this to LV would not do any good - there is a failure safe mode, namely killing Harry, and if LV learns what he did (apart from pointing out his own stupidity), he has all the motivation to kill Harry right now.

comment by Kawoomba · 2015-03-01T08:57:07.200Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Skimming over (part of) the proposed solutions on FF.net has thoroughly destroyed any sense of kinship with the larger HPMoR readership. Darn, it was such a fuzzily warm illusion. In concordance with Yvain's latest blog post, there may be few if any general shortcuts to raising the sanity waterline.

comment by Unknowns · 2015-03-01T05:24:51.501Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see how there could possibly be a real solution. No matter what Harry offers Voldemort -- for example even if he offers to make an Unbreakable Vow to devote himself to serving Voldemort's purposes -- Voldemort will still worry that the prophecy will mean that Harry will end up destroying the world. So he will simply kill him anyway, like an AI Gatekeeper who doesn't listen but simply says "AI DESTROYED" immediately.

Replies from: Luke_A_Somers, ChaosMote
comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-03-01T18:20:08.922Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort knows that SOMEONE is prophesied to destroy the stars and be the end of the world. Harry is presently the best candidate by a large margin.

By annihilating him, Voldemort loses all information about who's supposed to do this, and loses any assurance that whatever causes the fulfillment of the prophesy is something good.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T02:56:38.727Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I want to upvote this more than once. If you haven't posted to fanfiction.net, then post this (with ‘Harry says:’ in front of it, I guess) before it's too late. People have come up with some good arguments as to why LV ought to let HPJEV live, but this one is the best.

comment by ChaosMote · 2015-03-01T12:36:02.218Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You make a good point - in this instance, Voldemort is very much difficult to bargain with. However, I don't agree that that makes the problem impossible. For one thing, there may be solutions which don't require Voldemort's cooperation - e.g. silent transfiguration while stalling for time. For another, Harry can still get Voldemort's cooperation by convincing Voldemort that his current action is not in Voldemort's interests - for example, that killing Harry will actually bring about the end of the world that Voldemort fears.

comment by raecai · 2015-02-28T23:13:53.697Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry obviousely needs to buy some time, so he'd better start speaking. Patronus V2.0 grants only the "good" kind of power and feeds on caster's maxHP, so it could be revealed easier than partial transfiguration. Some meaningful amount of time is going to be acquired (while explaining HPJEV's viewpoint) that way, because HPJEV and LV oppose death in entirely different ways (one wants to fight it and the other one flees). But that's too easy and either is not in the solution at all or is followed but something more clever.

By the way, nobody said that that quote about falling black robes was from the good ending. Nor we have a 100% proof that Patronus V2.0 blocks any AK: it could be only LV's AK, due to resonance.

Also, assuming that both HPJEV and Hermione survive with their memories intact and have a chance to talk, it's going to be very awkward. Being murdered by LV can be expected, at least, but it's not easy at all to tell Hermione that she has just been brutally resurrected with at least three Dark rituals, has her mind state constantly backed up to a Dark item and regereneration ability similar to the one of the weapon which killed her in the first place.

Replies from: Adele_L
comment by Adele_L · 2015-03-01T00:34:29.710Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The part that's going to really get to Hermione is the fact that someone (original Quirrell) was killed for her sake.

Replies from: raecai, minichirops
comment by raecai · 2015-03-03T21:51:19.058Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought it would be that she had received Dreadful in DADA. By LV himself, no less.

comment by minichirops · 2015-03-01T08:19:06.001Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And that not-aging thing the regeneration ability grants her isn't necessarily going to be awesome either. What if her body decides to continuously regenerate into the form of her present-aged self?

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-01T08:47:43.999Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Trolls do grow up, as previously notied. That's not the most likely way for that to be a problem. Rather the reverse. I mean, if troll regen runs off your genetic template, there is a good chance she is going to wake up as the prime-of-life (22?) adult version of herself, and continuously revert to that. I would even call it likely, except that from a meta perspective it would cause.. squicky.. reactions.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-03-01T15:24:10.705Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Trolls do grow up, as previously notied.

Point of pedantry, but we don't actually know that. It is possible that they spawn into existence full-grown as part of some magical process (fission, perhaps), or that their regenerative powers don't activate until they've grown to adult size. For the latter, it's not like they don't have enough other natural defenses to protect them until they reach adulthood.

comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-28T20:59:50.832Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Lets see..

Notes: EY didn't say that noone was aware of what was happening, just that anyone who would help Harry think he is at the game. Given the prophecy about Harry, this has disturbing implications.

Anyway: Obstacles: 39 minions in not-defensively enchanted blacks. One dark lord who can't use magic on you, but who can shoot your ass, An absolute prohibition on moves that could escalate to world threatening levels.

Assets: Naked pasty english lad. Wand. Parseltongue.

.. You know, normally in this sort of situation I'd recommend talking. Parseltongue is far and away the most potent tool he has, because he can tell Voldemort true things, and Voldemort will not be able to scoff at him.

But the problem is, the only things Harry could tell him that would make him delay killing him are things Voldemort should not be told, even at the cost of his life.

So combat it is.

Sigh. This is going to hurt.

Cant partially transfigure air, but wands are not indivisible objects, so he still has a small amount of material to work with, at least once.

Partially transfigure the tip of the wand into photons. The kind of flash of light that leaves burns. Everyone is looking at you - And now they are all blind. Possibly also on fire. Do it with the center of the tip so that you are in the shadow cast by the wand - but expect a hospital stay. And a need for a new wand. Primarily, the point is that this will attract attention. Most likely, timeturned attention. So if you do this, there is now a reason for someone to rescue you a faction of a second after the initial flash. .. Which shouldn't actually even be necessary. If I read Voldemort correctly, he will bail if actually hurt. Certainly since he has already extracted the wow...

Replies from: CodingHare, jkadlubo
comment by CodingHare · 2015-02-28T21:27:06.380Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

An absolute prohibition on moves that could escalate to world threatening levels.

Is it? Harry only took the vow moments ago--before that point, actions he was taking could have lead to the end of the world, and those action's consequences may still be in motion. The Vow only forces Harry to inaction if he knows he is at risk of causing the end of the world, as well. World ending may still be on the table.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-28T21:34:20.126Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Mostly I brought it up because people keep suggesting anti-matter. Anti matter could be mistaken for a nuclear weapon, which could escalate to WWIII, so the wow means he can't use it anymore. A pure light pulse wont set off those warning systems. Or at least, not at the level I'm thinking of.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker, bramflakes
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-28T21:58:01.288Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A small antimatter explosion would not be mistaken for a nuclear weapon. In fact, a big antimatter explosion might be mistaken for a nuclear weapon, but since a missle would not have been detected, no-one would no who to retaliate against, and so retaliation would be delayed long enough for people to realise that there is no fallout and so it cannot be nuclear.

comment by bramflakes · 2015-02-28T21:38:43.691Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nitpick - antimatter will also produce a pure light pulse, just the wavelengths are much shorter than the visible spectrum.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-01T05:27:05.779Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

.. sigh the point is survival. A radiation pulse will hurt Harry the most, and will not be immediately obvious to people not fried by it. The idea is to disable opposition and summon help.

In the event no help instantly materializes, dodge and start the incantation for fiendfire - it doesn't actually matter if you can't cast it. Everyone present will recognize it, and to a blinded wizard, fleeing should be utterly reflexive at that point.

comment by jkadlubo · 2015-02-28T21:05:06.681Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could he tell Voldemort aout partial transfiguration and request his own life spared?

Replies from: Izeinwinter, Alsadius
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-02-28T21:07:34.678Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Buffing the dark lord further is not an option. There is tonnes of things Harry could infer and then tell him that would make him delay. But this would be trading moments of life for further fucking over the world. Not a good trade.

Replies from: jkadlubo
comment by jkadlubo · 2015-03-01T10:10:33.658Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He would tell he can do it, but not necessarily how it works. Of course knowing that problem is solvable facilitates solution, but since we know the solution, we also know it would take time for Voldemort to find and use it.

So it is buffing, but with a time delay. That's why I think it's the simplest solution. Quirrelmort did start reading a book on physics, but is certainly far from understanding it deeply enough to do partial transfiguration.

This move would simply buy Harry time. It won't solve the problem of Voldemort threatening the world, but will keep Harry alive, which is the objective of this quest.

There is tonnes of things Harry could infer and then tell him

OK, then use that to buy Harry's own life. My idea was more about Harry buying his own life than telling about partial transfiguration.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-01T10:37:03.048Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thing is, dying isn't the worst tactical option here.

There is a chance buying the farm will just throw Harry into the horcruxi. Not certain enough to do it deliberately, but enough that any plan you come up with has to be better than the option of

"Do nothing, die, hope to hang out in the horcruxi until Voldemort buys it again, let resonance remove you both from play"

Which is a non-negligible bar to clear. Telling him a trick which might be the power he knows not to buy another minute of breathing doesn't pass muster. Telling him of the possibility doesn't pass muster.

There are very few things which are both true and acceptable to tell Voldemort, simply because any information you give him, he will use against the world. If you give him information he can't use, he will ignore it.

comment by Alsadius · 2015-03-01T15:07:06.699Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He could certainly request it, but he won't get it.

comment by wobster109 · 2015-03-02T16:21:14.971Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm so confused about the wand. Why does Harry still have the wand? Obviously Voldemort should have demanded that Harry drop the wand before giving him 60 seconds to speak.

Replies from: RedErin, lerjj
comment by RedErin · 2015-03-02T18:08:11.735Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe this is a test for Harry. V wants Harry to find a way to win.

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T17:36:56.935Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta reasons? If Harry didn't have a wand this would be even harder.

I agree this seems incompetent though, at least earlier he (may) have needed it for the Unbreakable Vow, which makes it less incompetent that him having had his wand unnecessarily for the last couple of chapters.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2015-03-02T16:10:08.227Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"You needed worthy opponentss,"

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2015-03-02T02:34:34.567Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry can do a lot of things, but V already knows many of them. His strongest options are things he's sure V has no idea he can do, like the swerving hex he used on Moody.

EDIT: His strongest options for ways to outwit LV, not things to tell LV to save friends.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-02T08:55:34.236Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Considering QQ's disdain for dueling, I doubt LV would be interested in the Swerving Hex.

Replies from: Sheaman3773
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2015-03-02T16:41:53.602Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which is amusing, and also means that it's the last thing he should tell LV.

It is clearly a spell that is practically guaranteed to work against LV, since it could appear to miss only to swing back and hit either him or his shields.

I would not be surprised in the slightest if it was essential to passing the test, given how perfectly it would work in this situation of magical resonance.

comment by chaosmage · 2015-03-01T12:43:28.733Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Let's discuss that mirror in a bit more detail. A fantastically powerful artifact that's trying to avoid the destruction of the world shouldn't be outside discussion when you (or Voldemort) are trying to avoid the destruction of the world.

First let's get away from suggestions like "Harry should convince Voldemort they're in the mirror". If Harry believed that were true, he wouldn't want to make Voldemort aware of it because Voldemort being trapped inside the mirror is good. If Harry believed they were not in the mirror, he couldn't claim he believed they were.

But still, that mirror is mightily suspicious. At the very least, Harry might point out that this artifact could be an ally for Voldemort in reference to the particular goal of avoiding destruction of the world. The mirror seems to be at least a source of information, and Voldemort knows he lacks information about how to avoid the prophecy. Voldemort should at least make sure Harry won't cause the apocalypse by dying. The mirror needs to reflect Harry to divulge information about him, so Harry shouldn't be destroyed immediately because then the information would be lost. Instead, Harry should be brought before the mirror. (This buys another couple of minutes - so shouldn't it count as a solution?)

The obvious best way to convince Voldemort there's something about the mirror that Harry understands and he doesn't would be to supply a translation of the "Words of False Comprehension". And that certainly feels doable, there are a bunch of clues and the search space can't be that big. edit: Good discussion of this.

Beyond that, there's a blinding amount of possibilities involving that mirror. I don't see how Voldemort can be sure he isn't inside that mirror, given that he knows that he doesn't know how the mirror works exactly. Harry could suggest tests: For example, since the mirror has "all its consequences severed from Time" maybe time-turners shouldn't work inside it. (This has the advantage that testing it should take another hour.)

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-01T10:34:51.363Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have just realised that the 'partial transfigureation to create a steel monofilament' idea probably doesn't work. The problem is that in general, it doesn't actually require partial transfigureation - one could simply transform an object into a steel spike which pushes (rather than transfigures) its way through the soil, going under the shields and then up into your enemies' brain. If this worked, someone would have figured it out by now, because this requires no special knowledge. Therefore, there is some defensive shield which would prevent this attack, and presumably the Death Eaters have shields raised, unless they want to run the risk of a sudden attack wiping them all out at once.

Replies from: solipsist, TuviaDulin
comment by solipsist · 2015-03-01T17:59:45.376Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree. Wizards would have caps on the ends of their wands for this sort of weapon if this were the case.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2015-03-01T13:58:36.454Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No one has been able to transfigure a piece of the air or ground before, as far as anyone knows, so the shields might not be designed to block that.

Transfigured tendrils that intersect all the bad guys' spinal cords at the neck level would do the trick. Only question is if Harry has the range to do that.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-01T14:06:07.767Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I mean transfigure a steel spike that pierces through the ground, without actually being transfigured from the ground.

Replies from: TuviaDulin
comment by TuviaDulin · 2015-03-01T14:33:42.371Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would would Harry not transfigure it from the ground? Or the air from that matter? What else does he have to work with?

And he'd be transfiguring part of their bodies too.

Wouldn't work on Voldie due to resonance cascade, but he could disable the uzi.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-01T14:44:46.967Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I mean that transfigureing a steel spike through the ground is doable without partial transfigureation, so it would have been tried before and would be used as a battle tactic already if it worked.

Replies from: TuviaDulin
comment by TuviaDulin · 2015-03-01T21:22:12.267Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wouldn't you need partial transfiguration to make the spike out of a piece of earth?

Regardless, that's not what I'm proposing that Harry should do. I'm saying he should use partial transfiguration to make acid or cesium threads through the air that include the death eaters and Voldemort's handgun in the transfigured material. That has never been done before, and its likely there won't be defenses against it.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-01T22:38:29.698Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I mean you transfigure something else into a spike, and the transfiguration pushes the material through the ground.

I'm saying he should use partial transfiguration to make acid or cesium threads through the air

Sheilds stop projectile weaponry (up to a point) and I'm not sure this is any different.

Replies from: TuviaDulin
comment by TuviaDulin · 2015-03-02T14:56:20.255Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It wouldn't be a projectile. It would be transfiguring part of the enemy INTO acid or some other deadly substance by including a bit of their body inside of Harry's conceptual "object."

comment by garabik · 2015-03-01T09:41:44.864Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thinking about AI boxing - note that it is Harry who represents humanity, his core values and goals were not changed that much by the Vow, they were just formalized.

It is LV that has goals that are mostly what we'd agree about (`ensure the continuous existence of the world'), but he has very different values and no moral constraints. In short, dealing with him is like dealing with an Unfriendly AI or an Alien mind (like Sorting Hat).

So this is more like a clash between Unfriendly (or better, Indifferent) and a Friendly AI, where the goals are more or less compatible, but in addition the FAI keeps human values. And the UFAI got there first and is more powerful.

The rational way if your goals are compatible is to cooperate - however, Harry's values almost ensure that he will defect given the chance. And LV knows it, so the rational action for him is to defect (=kill) as well.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T03:06:04.825Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unfriendly (or better, Indifferent)

Same thing.

‘The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.’

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2015-03-01T06:13:51.600Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here is a suggestion that I haven't seen yet. I don't think it constitutes a full plan by itself, but it fits the form of an AI box experiment with Harry as the AI.

Harry and Voldemort's discussion about testing his horcrux 2.0 spell by offering immortality to one of his friends (read: minions, in his case) revealed a weakness, that Voldemort is heavily biased against certain ways of thinking. Harry should remind him of this in the context of the Patronus 2.0 spell. The fact that Harry was able to discover a new (and incredibly powerful, as we have seen) form of magic simply by having the right mindset may indicate that certain mindsets are key to discovering deeper secrets of magic as a whole. (I'm envisioning here, as may or may not be canon, magic as an API for tapping into the power of Atlantis.) Voldemort has a known interest in the deeper secrets of magic, and for this reason he should keep Harry alive, or risk losing access to mindsets he currently can't fathom.

comment by LEmma · 2015-03-01T05:26:40.055Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Regardless of other differences in utility function, Harry and Voldemort both want the world to not be destroyed, and consider this of the utmost priority.

Aumann's agreement theorem means that as they are both rationalists, they should be able to come to the same opinion on what the best course of action is to prevent that. Harry was willing to sacrifice himself earlier to save others.

comment by Ishaan · 2015-02-28T23:05:59.328Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The case for thinking seriously about Partial Transfiguration:

1) Partial transfiguration is wordless, but wanded.

2) it's a power Riddle doesn't know as per the prophecy.

3) Harry still holding his wand is a Chekov's Gun for a wanded spell such as transfiguration.

4) Yes, that does seems too obvious, but I don't think Eliezer wants to end the story here so he wouldn't want an extremely subtle puzzle.

5) The only evidence against is that Quirrell might have ripped it from Hermione's mind...but he wouldn't know what to look for, would he? And Dumbledore may well have obliviated it away.


1) Only very small amounts of matter can be transfigured

2) The want must not be raised, so Harry must transfigure the ground he's pointing at. No transfiguring people's bodies or anything fancy. The air can also be transfigured.

3) Outright explosives will kill Harry as well, so you can't just make a small patch of antimatter or airborne lethal toxin unless you can find a way to shield Harry.

So, guys - any ideas as to what thimbleful of tiny molecules, placed in the earth a few feet away from Harry, can save him?

EDIT: The case against partial transfiguration as a solution

1) Too obvious

2) Harry holding the wand not Chekov's gun. Riddle is aware that he aught to have disarmed Harry. Not disarming Harry means that somehow Riddle has contingency plans or even actively wants Harry to use the wand.

3) Any combat oriented action almost certainly involves death, regardless of head starts and discreteness, even if we manage to take down Riddle's current body.

Replies from: Sheaman3773, occlude, Ishaan
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2015-03-01T00:05:24.647Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not too sure about your #4, but #2 definitely cannot be counted upon to be true.

In Chapter 92, in a conversation between McG and LV:

“Are you mad? You think that Mr. Potter could—this is ridiculous. Mr. Potter cannot possibly—” A wordless image crossed her mind of a patch of glass on a steel ball. “—Mr. Potter would not do such a thing!”

It has been pointed out that if LV discarded treating this as a game, which does appear to be the case, then he may well have been using Legilimency on McG, in which case he would know of it, at least.

Which isn't to say that we couldn't use it to bargain for the lives of others, or whatnot. But you can't trust that it's still unknown to LV.

Furthermore, have we seen Harry transfigure the air? I remember him speculating that he could, trying, and failing. I don't remember him succeeding at a different time.

comment by occlude · 2015-03-01T10:37:37.897Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One of the transfiguration safety rules: Never transfigure something into anything that might be eaten or breathed. Is it possible to demonstrate partial transfiguration (on, for example, his father's rock) while transforming much of its substance very temporarily into a breathable gas?

Replies from: Ishaan
comment by Ishaan · 2015-03-01T20:12:44.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think those are just safety rules, rather than laws of transfiguration magic, so it should be possible.

(in any case, I don't really think partial transfiguration is actually the solution, since anything which involves combat is necessarily a long shot with too many magical unknown unknowns to count).

comment by Ishaan · 2015-02-28T23:16:41.551Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Immediate Idea #1: Take deep breath. Transform tiny piece of ground into a gas. Start explaining secret in parseltongue, do not inhale. Voldemort inhales some of the gas, causing magical resonance. Voldemort hopefully dis-corporates. Harry and death eaters comes down with probably curable transfiguration sickness, Harry less so for not having inhaled.

Harry still dies because the death eater's fire on him, so this idea fails :(

Still, in Harry's place, with as much time to think as Harry has had, this is what I would do. (Followed by casting the patronus charm ASAP to block the incoming barrage of AK, ducking, Bubblehead charm, and massive, lethal-to-anyone-that-breathes transfigurations. It's probably too much to hope that at least one death eater was a spy, but that would also help. It sucks that Harry can't Apparate.)

comment by LEmma · 2015-02-28T22:31:59.400Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


  • Can the unbreakable vow be leveraged for unbreakable pre commitments?
  • Harry knows that the horcruxes will eventually be destroyed through heat death of the universe if nothing else and could use this to tell Voldemort something like "if you kill me you will die" in parseltongue
Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-28T22:47:55.984Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can the unbreakable vow be leveraged for unbreakable pre commitments?

Isn't this its only use?

Replies from: LEmma
comment by LEmma · 2015-02-28T23:03:30.424Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I mean the existing unbreakable vow that Harry has just been bound by could perhaps be used for something else.

comment by TuviaDulin · 2015-03-02T16:13:07.257Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also,question. Do our suggestions need to be posted on fanfiction.net, or does this thread count?

Replies from: Astazha
comment by Astazha · 2015-03-02T19:21:58.511Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by bramflakes · 2015-03-02T03:49:05.423Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I remembered I have a PredictionBook account that I registered some years ago and forgot about, so I might as well get started with this whole "calibration" business.

The true solution will hinge on truly convincing Voldemort to let Harry out of the box (i.e. no “brute force” transfiguration solutions where talking is just a distraction): 95%

The true solution involves time travel: 50%

The true solution relies on Partial Transfiguration: 80% (this isn't in contradiction with #1 - it can involve Partial Transfiguration (e.g. as a threat, or a demonstration, or distraction), it just won't be the lynchpin of the entire plan)

Conditional on EY accepting a viable fan solution, it will be different to what will actually happen in the story: 75%

comment by shminux · 2015-03-01T20:57:31.120Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Working backwards is a standard strategy for solving puzzles like this. Let's imagine Harry having gotten out of the predicament. How does the situation look? Where is Harry? Where is Voldemort? Where is Hermione?

comment by Lu93 · 2015-03-01T17:16:47.430Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Edit: TL;DR I made equivalent problem. It is sufficient and necessary. Prove: p(H causes destruction | H is Alive) < p(H causes destruction | H is Dead)

I have exams so I don't have enough time to do the whole process, as it should be done. I wanted to donate my thoughts and hope for someone else to do the job.

If you remember, we are not supposed to give solutions at once, we should talk about problem first. This includes gathering fair knowledge about all the mechanisms mentioned.

I see some people listed available objects, which could be used in open combat. Which is exactly what we should do, given that the problem is how to fight them. The problem is, however, not how to win the fight.

Now, I have to admit i haven't thought about the whole problem (I am not facing 37 Deathe-Eaters, true, but I am facing 3 exams next week), I focused on two things: Harry's mind, and Voldy's mind. I will deduce if Harry will actually try to defend himself.

These are my thoughts:

  • Voldy (V) wants to stop the prophesy. Prophesy says Harry will cause great destruction.
  • Harry (H) cannot change V's utility function.
  • V's utility function has high preference for this world not being destroyed.
  • V tried to maximize this function. (He showed he is quite "rational" up until now)

This is part where I imagined myself being V.

"H will cause great destruction. There is greater probability of him causing destruction, than his death causing destruction. Therefore i have to kill him. I just resurrected Hermione, so, someone can resurrect H. I have to stop that, so i will destroy his remnants."

  • H did the whole Unbreakable Vow thing => he is now practically the only human who has no options when it comes to destroying the world.
  • H's utility function is practically the same as V's utility function now. (Both V and H prefer world over H)

  • "There is a prophesy i will destroy the world. I don't want to cause destruction. Is probability ("i cause destruction" if "I am alive") greater than ("I cause destruction" if "I am dead")? Whatever probability is lower, i will do that. "* (He can't chose anymore, he sacrificed it

    H would not try to live if that would lead to greater probability of mass destruction. He would prefer himself dead over alive. (If he is rational he would do that, because his utility function is such.)

Now, let's see compare pA = p(H causes destruction | H is Alive) and pD = pp(H causes destruction | H is Dead)

Vow ensures that if there is even a minor risk of H's next step creating destruction, he would have to interrogate that risk, and avoid it if there really is such a possibility. With regard to this and H's cleverness, he could cause something destructive much easier while absent than while present. =>

Since I don't see EY killing Harry or being inconsistent, pD is probably indeed greater, whether or not my deduction has flaws.

On this deduction depends whether or not H will actually do something to defend himself. If he will defend himself, he might as well communicate all this to V and he will let him go, because V prefers no destruction over destruction.

Edit: formatting.

Replies from: Lu93
comment by Lu93 · 2015-03-03T12:36:12.838Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did i fail in my reasoning here? Because if i didn't, it is of major importance, and if i did, well, it's not important at all, but i would still like to know where i failed.

On the other hand, I see people have been trying to isolate themselves, so, i suppose my comment got unnoticed because of that.

comment by cogitoprime · 2015-03-01T05:45:39.887Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Random lines of thought to explore:

Can we figure out how sacrificial magic works from available evidence(we've seen a lot of it recently) and could Harry use that new knowledge to solve his predicament? A principle similar to the potion making principle perhaps?

Harry had to go all the way down to timeless physics in order to do partial transfiguration. I know very little about the theory but could Harry apply that knowledge to somehow partially transfigure time itself or transfigure something not in his present?

If Harry can convince Voldemort to allow him to cast his Patronus(" Maybe I can teach you to cast the Patronus") then he could get a message off to Cedric Diggory telling him to time-turn back, grab the true cloak of invisibility(not sure how, maybe just re-using the rememberall trick), wait till this moment, grab Harry and turn the time turner another hour back(Harry originally only went back 5). Maybe after Harry tried to shoot Voldemort and he was temporarily out of sight with all of his possessions he quickly turned the time turner the remaining one hour which he used to set up Cedric or any number of other plots.

Eliezer's rules say,

" If the simplest timeline is otherwise one where Harry dies - if Harry cannot reach his Time-Turner without Time-Turned help - then the Time-Turner will not come into play."

I'm not quite sure what that means, does it ban this move?

What unique magics are possible when you combine partial transfiguration and the stone of permanency? Not that Harry could do them now, but he could tell Voldemort about an intended combination or have plans to do one in the future. Remember that apparently the stone doesn't just make transfiguration permanent, apparently it can also make otherwise temporary spells permanent like with the Troll's powers being transferred to Hermione. Also, how is Aunt Petunia's beauty transfiguration permanent? Did Lilly have access to the stone somehow?

Maybe the reason Harry and Voldemort's magic can't interact is because it's the same magic. Could Harry wandlessly begin untransfiguring Voldemort's body or another troll made into a tooth?

Maybe whatever spell trapped Dumbledore outside of time also trapped Atlantis?

I predict (20%) that Harry will snap his fingers.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-01T00:53:06.551Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

ROT 13ed Final Exam suggestion:

Va Cnefyrgbathr "Jung cebonovyvgl qb lbh nffvta gb gur cbffvovyvgl gung V nz fhssvpvragyl Gbz Evqqyr gung V jvyy or pbcvrq vagb lbhe Ubepehk argjbex?"

comment by bramflakes · 2015-03-01T00:05:15.480Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Re-reading the story, this made me smirk in light of recent revelations:

Harry scowled at her. "Fine, I won't bite anyone who doesn't bite me first."

Replies from: jmmcd
comment by jmmcd · 2015-03-02T07:26:38.018Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry should trick Voldemort into biting him, and then use his new freedom to bite him back.

comment by zedzed · 2015-02-28T23:00:16.562Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It occurs to me that, given the philosopher's stone is around, any superweapons Harry could create and conceal with it in slightly under an hour could exist in the clearing, provided that they're enough to let Harry survive another hour, access the time turner, and create said superweapons.

Also, since prophecies are self-fulfilling and Voldemort prefers a world that won't end to a world that will and Harry has already made the appropriate unbreakable vow to do everything to prevent the end of the world, Harry could argue that expected universe where Voldemort lets Harry live is far superior to the one where Harry dies.

comment by wwa · 2015-02-28T21:52:19.476Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Expecto Patronum", at which point Death-Eaters will fire an utterly futile barrage of AKs. Voldy still can't fire directly at Harry due to resonance. Gun is not as much concern if you move fast enough and considering Voldy is some distance away. Gives Harry enough elbow room to get to his nearby (?) Pouch, Cloak and Time-Turner with 1 more hour on it. At this point we're sorta free of any serious constraints.

Replies from: WalterL
comment by WalterL · 2015-02-28T22:57:17.658Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So the Patronum is between Harry and each and every one of the death eaters? That seems dubious, unless he's wearing it like a suit.

Also, they been instructed to use different attacks, so unless the Patronus blocks everything I don't think it'd stop everything that would come his way.

Replies from: wwa, TobyBartels
comment by wwa · 2015-02-28T23:34:47.999Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wearing the Patronus isn't any more dubious than casting it inside of Hermione to revive her. You're right about stunners instead of AKs of course, but that can be blocked by a thin invisible tranfigured shield (air into glass, since apparently he can transfigure arbitrary atomic structures). Transfiguration is wordless and he has a wand. I mean, this isn't anywhere near as deus-ex-machina as half of the Azkaban escape anyway.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T05:47:07.888Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Read a comment above; he cannot transfigure air.

Replies from: Articulator
comment by Articulator · 2015-03-01T07:23:35.851Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That was prior to PT.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T09:54:46.996Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're right, I should have read more comments myself.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T05:46:50.897Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Read a comment above; he can cast the Patronus in the shape of a sphere.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-28T21:45:14.047Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is very similar to a solution I published earlier, except that when I first proposed it, I had forgotten that Harry hadn't got his wand at that point in time (but why hasn't he been disarmed now?).

The one plausible power Harry has is transfiguration, seeing as there are no dementors nearby, it seems unlikely that the patronus 2 can be used as an offensive weapon against anything apart from dementors.

Harry should transfigure some exotic matter with density far in excess of normal matter, and use it to slice through all the death eaters and Voldiemort. Since it has been established that you can transfigure against tension, he doesn't even need to move his hand to wield this weapon: the power of transfiguration can move it around in a circle.

I'm guessing this exotic matter will be silver in colour:

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line... (black robes, falling) ...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word.

As for what type of exotic matter, tau particles, top and bottom quarks are all extremely unstable. This might not matter, because if transfigured into parts of particles, perhaps they would be stable, in the same way that free neutrons are not stable but nuclei are, although a google search seemed to indicate that muonic atoms are stable iff they are electron degenerate. But for that matter, I don't even know if stability applies to objects that are being transfigured.

A second concern is the hypothosis that strange matter is more stable than normal matter, and thus a stranglet would consume the earth. I don't know if this hypothosis was around in 1992, or whether Harry would have heard of it. If this does occur to him, then it might block the use of strange quarks. But I presume charm quarks are ok.

I think transfigureation is silent, and does not involve wand movements, rather the wand has to be kept stationary and in contact with the object, so it will not warn the death eaters and give them a chance to strike. The material to be transfigured could be part of the wand, or an outer layer of Harry's skin.

What are the other possibilities?

Someone else suggested that partial transfigureation could be used as a cutting weapon. I imagine it would be stopped by sheilds, but I suppose its possible.

Transfigured normal matter, including carbon nanotubes, would not be able to penetrate sheilds (in fact, carbon nanotubes have low sheer strength, so they would make very poor cutting implements).

What else is silver? The patronus can be willed to take the form of a sphere, so presumably it could be willed to take the form of a blade. But something powered by life should not be able to kill, even if it could penetrate sheilds. The dark patronus? Fulled by the desire to stop the death of those you love by killing those you hate?

Unicorn's blood? Hermoine the alicorn princess's blood? Doesn't seem like an effective weapon.

Could an extremely thin steel wire penetrate matter by partially transfigureing its way through, and penetrate shields by going underground, and coming up through the feet? Can sheilds defend against attacks from below, or do they cut off at the ground?

EDIT: The exotic matter weapon will be very small so perhaps no death eater will see it. To buy time to think, or for the transfigureation to work, Harry might need to start giving Voldie useful information, such as the patronus, which he can truthfully point out poses no threat to Voldie, because Voldie can't cast patronus v.1. Awaking Hermione, or causing a resonance cascade with Voldie could cause a distraction. Possibly Harry could come back from one hour in the future to help the battle, although we now have a situation where Harry survives, but only if he survives, and I'm not sure about how causial loops are supposed to work. For that matter, future surviving Harry could have brought the cavalry back in time with him, if this wasn't explicitly forbidden.

EDIT 2: Magnetic monoples might be the best shot, although this would be thin enough to be invisible, not silver. http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/48630634d2591

Replies from: None, Velorien
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-01T07:23:20.333Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Weapon: 37 ants.

comment by Velorien · 2015-02-28T21:54:28.014Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The patronus can be willed to take the form of a sphere

It can? I don't remember that. But if true, can it be willed to take the form of a sphere around Harry, thereby providing a perfect anti-Killing Curse shield?

Replies from: skeptical_lurker, None
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-28T22:11:37.984Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The patronus is willed to take the form of a sphere when Harry leads the Aurors to rescue Draco. And, yes, it might protect from AKs and from Voldie, but the Death Eaters have been instructed to attack Harry with a wide variety of curses.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-28T22:00:06.578Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not going to stop Fiendfyre, or any of a hundred other things Voldy can do to kill him.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-28T22:01:41.244Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, the resonance effect will take care of that.

Voldemort's only viable means of killing him immediately and directly is the gun.

Replies from: None, CronoDAS
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-28T22:04:42.862Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is very unlikely.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-02-28T22:05:25.838Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-28T22:30:02.306Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He's a competent antagonist.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-03-01T00:00:49.608Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He is. But assuming that he is super-prepared, beyond the abilities and equipment we've seen or been given reason to postulate, results in an unsolvable puzzle. Someone as intelligent, experienced, prepared and resourceful as Voldemort could theoretically have a counter for anything we can come up with.

We know or can reasonably assume that he obtained a gun specifically as a solution to the problem of not being able to injure or kill Harry with magic. We don't have any reason to believe that he has prepared further, backup solutions to that specific problem.

Replies from: fezziwig
comment by fezziwig · 2015-03-01T00:10:10.903Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's one thing for which it's genuinely impossible for V to have a counter: the realization that killing Harry is not in his interests. Speaking in Parseltongue, bound by the Vow, Harry is uniquely prepared to make that case -- assuming it's true.

Replies from: Velorien
comment by Velorien · 2015-03-01T00:18:16.404Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, that's the sticking point. Parseltongue and the Vow prove that Harry is honest. They don't prove that he's right, and Voldemort can simply choose to dismiss any of Harry's arguments as insufficient (which isn't that hard, given that the risk of keeping him alive is the end of the world, and any risk incurred by killing him is probably going to be less bad).

Replies from: minichirops
comment by CronoDAS · 2015-02-28T23:51:06.890Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or having a Death Eater do it for him.

comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-02T19:07:31.605Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's another object-level tactic I haven't seen mentioned yet. (Assume LV will not just kill Harry for speaking of non-magical powers. I have a way of increasing the likelihood of this assumption being true)

Harry could explain the Power of Expected Utility Calculations and subtly attempt a Pascal's Mugging on LV, convincing him that LV can't possibly assign a probability of less than one in twenty that killing Harry will indeed avert the prophecy, or for that matter cause it, and that the rational action to take is to not kill Harry. He can present it as a "power" to stop the timer and buy a life, regardless of if LV accepts the conclusion, since it is a valuable tool for the future and was probably not in the books Harry gave him to read.

Harry can also explain the Power of Bayesian Probability Updates, both to buy a life and to provide a framework within which to argue that the probability that LV killing Harry backfires is much higher than he previously expected. If the Mugging alone doesn't work, then Harry can combine this with EV calculations to construct a valid argument that LV shouldn't kill him.

I'm starting to develop a way to chain this with some other arguments and strategies into a cohesive strategy and I'm starting to feel pretty good about it. Thoughts?

Replies from: Manfred, RomeoStevens, lerjj
comment by Manfred · 2015-03-02T19:32:40.858Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, this is basically the route I'd do. Except I added one more ingredient. Here, I'll just quote my review.

Ramble to Voldemort about how you have a better knowledge of decision-making systems and scientific research, and about how if you do destroy the world, it won't be because you have some world-destroying-property, it will be a result of bad actions - actions that Voldemort, who is starting to learn muggle science, might take just as easily. Indeed this seems likely, since you make such similar decisions, and he may find the prophecy talking about him instead.

If he really wants to stop the prophecy, the way is not to very thoroughly kill one child, the way is to understand the causal path that leads to bad things happening, no matter who does it, and divert it. For this, it would be beneficial if he had you, Harry, alive and well. In fact, you have several ideas already, which for obvious bargaining reasons you will not mention. Since this is fairly honest, you can even say something in parseltongue about how this increases his chances of survival, playing on Tom Riddle's overriding fear of death.

Then, when he's distracted considering this, kick him in the grill.

Replies from: TylerJay
comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-03T11:44:27.892Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nice. I like it.

I expanded my previous post in a full solution (very long) with a pretty thorough line of reasoning. In the end, I convinced myself that Voldemort is not acting in his self-interest by killing Harry and that he's dangerously overconfident in his understanding of the Prophecy and his ability to avert it. Here are the relevant excerpts from my solution:

Tell Voldie that original prophecy ("born as the seventh month dies...") has not yet been fulfilled, and argue that this calls for rethinking killing Harry because attempting to kill him might cause this prophecy to come true in a bad way and might provide mechanism for "remnant" of Harry to survive and fulfill second prophecy. [Evidence: Snape said "No, I would know if it were fulfilled." Apparently, neither Dumbles or Minnie found anything strange with the idea that "If it were complete, it would make sense to me," so that's likely a known/plausible attribute of prophecies.] LV was very sure that he understood it enough to take risky action that time, but was wrong. "Seems you learned wrong lesson from previous mistake with prophecy, teacher." Argue that it was lack of understanding of previous prophecy that led to loss of LV's first body, not the act of trying to turn it to his advantage.

LV's actions now are driven solely by prophecy. Just as before, it will make him fall victim to it. How can you not realize you're actions are being completely determined by what you heard?

Tell LV that he strongly believes that things will turn out badly for LV and the Prophecy will not be averted if he tries to kill him (Harry never meant to end his immortality, just temporarily disembody him [so the curse is still in play and LV cannot kill Harry, though my solution has Harry not share this information])

Harry has heard a third prophecy that seems to indicate that Harry will survive beyond this day. It's better not to tempt fate. (...and 3 their devices...)

If still haven't gotten him to give in and spare you: "Okay, seriously? You're Trying to tell me that you still assign a greater than 50% probability to the idea that killing me here tonight is in your best interests?"

Eventually, LV will tell him the prophecy. If not, Harry can just go from his (correct) best guess based on what he heard ("Tear apart the very s-") Stars? Sun? His first 2 thoughts when hearing it, narrowed down to Stars from Firenze's comments, and deducing the "End the world" part from the fact that his mother said the world would end if Lilly were nice to her sister and the fact that Firenze called him "Son of Lilly".

Explain that he's pretty sure it says he will tear apart the very stars and that it will be the end of the world [...] Harry explains Star Lifting, Dyson Spheres, and the amount of energy required for interstellar travel or other futuristic technologies. If that's what the prophecy means, which is way more likely than anything else at this point, since what LV was really doing was not "snipping all threads of destiny" but constraining the solution-space. If he tries/succeeds in killing Harry, then the prophecy will still come true, but neither of them would have any control over how it happened, because all choice has been removed. And, knowing the nature of Prophecy, that's how bad things happen. So wouldn't it be better to work together toward making sure the world doesn't end and that Wizardkind gets a way to escape the Planet Earth, just like Voldie wants? Even if somehow Voldie manages to kill Harry tonight and the prophecy just doesn't happen which has never happened in the history of ever, what amount of diminishing pleasure from torturing idiots could possibly be worth more than all that? And at that point, once they've solved permanent death for everyone, people will probably want to play War with You. They'll be lining up by the thousands. Every clever person on the planet will want to try their skills against Lord Voldemort. I'll play War against you for as long as you want! It'll be fun! That's the kind of fun you can only really have in a post-scarcity, post-death society.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2015-03-02T21:25:31.066Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also can not assign less than 1/20 probability that keeping him alive will destroy the world. So...?

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T21:10:34.488Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is new as far as I can tell. Please write up a review based around this, and based on a cursory read through of Reddit, it might be best not to do this in prose, it takes even longer to evaluate apparently and Eliezer's plan has backfired

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GoneHorriblyRight (look at last entry in "Fan Works" tab)

Replies from: TylerJay
comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-03T11:26:03.161Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I submitted it. Here's the link to my whole solution (It's long, with backup plans and a few unique mechanics) if you're interested. I'm pretty proud of it, given the time constraints.

comment by wobster109 · 2015-03-02T07:16:55.873Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ssome livess I have already promissed you, but otherss I did not. . . For each unknown power you tell me how to masster, or other ssecret you tell me that I desire to know, you may name one more of thosse to insstead be protected and honored under my reign. Thiss alsso I promisse and intend to keep.

Is Harry permitted to name himself as a person to be protected? It doesn't seem to say that he cannot. I believe partial transfiguration would buy him a life. It's an unsatisfying solution, as it only saves Harry. But then again, the exam only requires Harry to survive.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-02T08:52:24.289Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He's not permitted. LV said "name one or more of those", where those refers to the people he named in the previous sentence, i.e. Harry's parents and his "mudblood friends" in the armies.

Replies from: wobster109
comment by wobster109 · 2015-03-02T15:45:12.555Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Surely other lives are permitted though, such as Neville. Voldemort said specifically: "Your mudblood servants in your little army. Your precious parents." That would exclude Neville (who isn't muggle-born) and Cedric (who isn't in Harry's army).

comment by atorm · 2015-03-02T00:49:19.959Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Transfiguration requires the caster's wand to touch the target. However, Harry's understanding of partial transfiguration was based on his understanding of the underlying quantum field nature of reality. This means that Harry's wand is touching everything all at once. He should be able to Transfigure anything in the area that he wants, and based on the Azkaban sequence, he could think or speak while doing so.

Replies from: Normal_Anomaly
comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2015-03-02T21:18:27.354Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Make sure you post this in a review, even if it doesn't end up being directly relevant to the solution you post. And mention that this fact should be considered in the judging of everyone else's solutions.

comment by spriteless · 2015-03-01T15:34:41.507Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have read several reviews on fanfiction.net, and posts here, that say Harry will transfigure a very thin knife out of the tip of his wand and cut off all the Death Eaters' heads, perhaps while distracting Voldemort with words. While that could happen, I think it would be better for Harry to go for their arms. No arm means no mark, and no pointing wands, but is much easier to survive, especially with magic medicine and the Philosopher's Stone right there!. Actually, Harry could transmute enough phosphorus to burn so bright as to blind everyone behind him that he cannot see and aim at, and cut off the arms of everyone else for maximum survivability. Hmm, he'd have to permanant the phosphorus transfiguration anyways, though, since he doesn't want any bits of inhaled smoke to turn into wood inside people's cells. Sheeze this is complicated...

And it makes Wizarding wars as deadly-scorched-earth as Muggle wars. This has been a theme of the story, so it works that way too. If I can't think of any more improvements and I don't see any suggestions here I'll post this on fanfiction.net tomorrow morning.

I don't want Draco to lose his daddy by his best friend...

Replies from: Jost
comment by Jost · 2015-03-01T21:01:32.350Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

he'd have to permanant the phosphorus transfiguration anyways, though, since he doesn't want any bits of inhaled smoke to turn into wood inside people's cells.

This would most likely require the Philosopher’s Stone to be in contact with the transfigured matter for several minutes (see chapter 111), which is impossible:

"Professor," Harry said, "if the worst happens in a case like that, is there any way of maintaining the Transfiguration?"

"No," Professor McGonagall said flatly. "Sustaining a Transfiguration is a constant drain on your magic which scales with the size of the target form. And you would need to recontact the target every few hours, which is, in a case like this, impossible. Disasters like this are unrecoverable! "

(chapter 15; emphasis mine)

Replies from: Kindly
comment by Kindly · 2015-03-01T22:34:16.687Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The correct way to solve the problem is to apply another Transfiguration to turn the victim's body into its healthy form, then use the Philosopher's Stone to make the second Transfiguration permanent.

Is there a reason why this would not work?

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2015-03-01T11:32:50.516Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This solution does not prevent Harry's immediate death, but seems much better than that to me anyway. I haven't been following conversations before, so I can only hope that this is at least somewhat original.


-Lord Voldemort desires true immortality. Alternatively, there is a non-zero chance that he will come to desire true immortality after a long time of being alive. While he is a sociopath and enjoys killing, achieving immortality is more important to him.

-Lord Voldemort does not dismiss things like the Simulation Hypothesis out of hand. Since he is otherwise shown to be very smart and to second-guess accepted norms, this seems like a safe assumption.


-All of the following has non-zero probability. Since it talks about immortality, an absolute, this is sufficient and a high probability is not needed, just a non-zero one.

-The existence of magic implies the existence of a sapient higher power. Not God, but simply a higher power of some kind, the being who created magic.

-Given that Voldemort wants to live forever, it is quite possible that he will encounter this higher power at some point in the future.

-The higher power will be superior to Voldemort in every way since he is the being who created magic, so once he encounters it, he will be at its mercy.

-Since he desires immortality, it would be in his interests to make the higher power like him.

-Further assumption: If there is one higher power, it is likely that there is a nigh-infinite recursion of successively more powerful beings above that. Proof by induction: it is likely that Voldemort will at some point of his infinite life decide to create a pocket universe of his own, possibly just out of boredom. If the probability of this happening is x, then the number of levels of more powerful beings above Voldemort can be estimated with an exponential distribution with lambda=1/x. Actually the number may be much higher due to the possibility of someone creating not one but several simulations, so this is pretty much a lower bound.

-In such a (nigh) infinite regression of Powers, there is a game theoretical strategy that is the optimal strategy for any one of these powers to use when dealing with its creations and/or superiors, given that none of them can be certain that they are the topmost part of the chain.

-How exactly such a rule could be defined is too complicated to figure out in detail, but it seems pretty clear to me that it would be based on reciprocity on some level: behave towards your inferiors in the same way that you would want your own superiors to behave towards each other. This may mean a policy of non-interference, or of active support. It might operate on intentions or actions, or on more abstract policies, but it almost certainly would be based on tit-for-tat in some way.

-Once Voldemort reaches the level of power necessary for the Higher Power to regard him as part of the chain of higher powers, he will be judged by these same standards.

-Voldemort currently kills and tortures people weaker than him. The higher power would presumably not want to be tortured or killed by its own superior, so it would behoove it not to let Voldemort do so either.

-Therefore, following a principle of reciprocation of some sort would greatly reduce the probability of being annihilated by the Higher Power.

-Following such a principle would not preclude conquering the world, as long as doing so genuinely would result in a net benefit to the entities in the reference class of lifeforms that are one step below Voldemort on the hierarchy (i.e. the rest of humanity). However, it would require him to be nicer to people, if he wants the Higher Power to also be nice to him, for some appropriate definition of 'nice'.

-None of this argues against killing Harry right now. This is OK for the following reason: Harry also desires immortality. If Voldemort resurrects Harry, who is one level lower on the hierarchy than Voldemort, at some point in the future, this would set a precedent that might slightly increase the probability that the Higher Power helps prolong the life of Voldemort in turn, at some point further in the future, due to the principle of reciprocity.

-It is likely that Voldemort will gain the ability to revive Harry in the future, regardless of what he does to him now, as he gains a greater understanding of magic with time.

-One possible way to fulfill the prophecy is to resurrect Harry at a much later time and have him destroy the world, once nobody actually lives on earth anymore. This would of course require tricking Harry into doing this, due to the Unbreakable Vow he just made, but that should pose only a small problem. This would be a harmless way to fulfill the prophecy, and while Voldemort has tried and failed before to make a prophecy work for him instead of against him, that is just one data point and this plan requires the same actions from Voldemort for now as the plan to tear the prophecy apart, anyway.

-Therefore, Killing Harry now in the way Voldemort suggested (after casting a spell on him to turn off pain, obviously), combined with a pre-commitment to revive him at a later date if and when Voldemort has a better understanding of how prophecies work, both minimizes the chance of the prophecy happening in a harmful way and increases Voldemort's own chance of immortality.


-Harry dies. His death is painless due to narcotic spells. Voldemort has no reason to deny this due to the principle of reciprocity.

-Voldemort conquers the world

-Voldemort becomes a wise and benevolent ruler (even though he is still a sociopath and actually doesn't really care about anyone besides himself)

-Voldemort figures out how to subvert prophecies and revives Harry. Everyone lives happily ever after.

-Alternatively, Voldemort figures out that prophecies can't be subverted and leaves Harry dead. It's better that way, since Harry would probably rather be dead than cause the apocalypse, anyway.

comment by shminux · 2015-03-01T04:44:58.273Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am actually reluctant to think of ways for HP to escape, because I am kind of rooting for LV in this fic. Sure, he is ruthless and stuff, but he seems to be way less dangerous than Harry, who is prophesied to destroy the world. LV just hates stupid people. Plus he has all but made Hermione immortal, and she the only voice of reason in the story. And he likes gazing at stars, and is against nuclear weapons. A competent ruler is such a rarity. As kings go, he would be considered cute.

comment by TsviBT · 2015-03-01T01:39:25.609Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Didn't V see at least the results of a Partial Transfiguration in Azkaban (used to cut through the wall)? Doesn't seem like something V would just ignore or forget.

Replies from: Nornagest
comment by Nornagest · 2015-03-01T05:23:25.290Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe Voldemort was unconscious at the time, following a magical feedback mishap at the conclusion of his duel with Bahry. Bellatrix was awake, but probably not very coherent after eleven years in Azkaban, and Voldemort strikes me as the type to dismiss confusing reports from unreliable underlings.

Replies from: TsviBT
comment by TsviBT · 2015-03-01T05:34:38.221Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A brief and terrible magic lashed out from the Defense Professor's wand, scouring the hole in the wall, scarring the huge chunk of metal that lay in the room's midst; as Harry had requested, saying that the method he'd used might identify him.

Chapter 58

I'm kind of worried about this... all the real attempted solutions I've seen use partial transfiguration. But if we take "the antagonist is smart" seriously, and given the precedent for V remembering and connecting obscure things (e.g. the Resurrection Stone), we should assume V has protections against that tactic. It is not a power the Dark Lord knows not. And come to think of it, V also saw Harry cutting trees down with partial transfiguration.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2015-03-01T01:29:59.399Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort might be failing to anticipate partial Transfiguration that has no visible effects (although it's unclear why Harry is allowed to hold the wand after the Vow is done). It might be Transfiguration of the tip of the wand or of a patch of own skin. Transfiguring it into carbon nanotube wires (Ch. 28) or something else super thin that's good at cutting things might make the result both deadly and invisible, while keeping the amount of stuff small in order to be able to complete the process in reasonable time (as with cutting the wall in Azkaban, Ch. 58). There is a problem with moving the Transfigured wires into place, but the "shaping exercises" (Ch. 104) might allow doing that using the process of Transfiguration itself (so that the original material might "grow spikes" that climb like vines over the area where the Death Eaters are standing and then rise up into place).

In Ch. 111 we see that it's possible to gradually break a Transfiguration (without a wand). This might gradually transform the wires back into a small object, cutting the Death Eaters into pieces in the process. The alternative ways of triggering the wires might be to yank them quickly enough; to prepare a simple contraption as part of the Transfiguration, to pull the wires without Harry's movement (a falling stone, if one is conveniently positioned, etc.); or to use the "shaping" process to perform the cutting movement as part of the Transfiguration itself. Possibility of some of these things depends on knowledge that Harry probably has, but readers aren't certain about.

If the hypothesis that magical resonance hurts Voldemort more than Harry is correct, the same action would also incapacitate Voldemort, countering superior magic. Anything less, like doing something to the gun, seems pointless, and magical resonance seems to be the only adequately strong available weapon, so this risk should be taken if there are no better alternatives.

This requires some time, so the first thing should be to start talking. It can't be about partial Transfiguration, but perhaps Dementors could be explained (even if this can't help Voldemort cast Patronus 2.0, maybe it can make him a master of the Cloak, or allow training a minion to cast Patronus 2.0). Another point that I don't see how to rule out is the possibility that Harry's death would send him into Voldemort's Horcrux network, which might harm Voldemort or lock him out. Discussing this might also buy some time, maybe a lot of time if Voldemort agrees that this is a serious risk that requires further study before Harry can be allowed to die.

If the move is successful, Voldemort needs to be incapacitated both inside or outside the Horcrux network, so the damage to the currently accessible body should be limited. It's still not clear that he can be incapacitated in a body, since he mentions ability to abandon a body at will (Ch. 107), but magical resonance might make him temporarily lose consciousness (evidence from Azkaban), giving time to put the body into some further containment. Perhaps he can be locked in with brain damage. I'd guess that Transfiguring Voldemort's body into something inert like a tree wouldn't stop the spirit from leaving it. Maybe if the body is surrounded by a sphere of material Transfigured by Harry, then magical resonance would prevent the spirit from escaping, though I don't see how we can expect this with any reliability, since the nature of this spirit thing is unclear. (Any solution to Voldemort containment that involves Transfiguration could be made to last with Philosopher's Stone, although applying the Stone to Harry's resonance Transfiguration should be first put to test, to check if the resonance remains intact.)

Following the principle that a disaster must be averted at every possible point of intervention, all these potentially useful measures should be applied at the same time. Even if the body is contained, Resurrection Stone and other horcruxes should be found and destroyed.

(By the way, tearing stars apart is just good sense, to use their matter and energy more efficiently. This might be a nice project to undertake sometime after defeating death and before the end of the world.)

comment by Flipnash · 2015-03-01T01:19:19.268Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry can also dispel any of his transfiguration wandlessly and wordlessly. So any toxic substance he creates he can dispel as it reaches him.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-03-01T00:17:39.832Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But it does not serve as a solution to say, for example, "Harry should persuade Voldemort to let him out of the box" if you can't yourself figure out how.

It's a shame that nobody's going along this line of thought. It would be cool to see a full, successful AI-Box experiment out there as a fanfiction.

(I'd do it myself, but my previous attempts at such have been.... eheh. Less than successful.)

Replies from: Duncan, shminux
comment by Duncan · 2015-03-01T02:45:28.509Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, this isn't anywhere near as hard as the AI Box problem. Harry can honestly say he is the best option for eliminating the unfriendly AGI / Atlantis problem. 1) Harry just swore the oath that binds him, 2) Harry understands modern science and its associated risks, 3) Harry is 'good', 4) technological advancement will certainly result in either AGI or the Atlantis problem (probably sooner than later), and 5) Voldemort is already worried about prophecy immutability so killing Harry at this stage means the stars still get ripped apart, but without all the ways in which that could happen with Harry making the result 'good').

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T10:09:18.750Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Other than (5), these are all things that are liable to be true of an AI asking to be let out of the box.

  1. Code that appears Friendly but has not been proved Friendly
  2. Advanced intelligence of the AI
  3. General programming goals, much weaker than (1) really
  4. True verbatim in the standard AI box experiment (and arguably in the real world right now)
Replies from: Duncan
comment by Duncan · 2015-03-01T14:59:02.849Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see your point, but Voldemort hasn't encountered the AI Box problem has he? Further, I don't think Voldemort has encountered a problem where he's arguing with someone/something he knows is far smarter than himself. He still believes Harry isn't as smart yet.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T02:32:55.299Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure, but now your argument, it seems to me, is

6) Harry is playing against the intelligent but naïve Voldemort instead of against the intelligent and experienced Nathan Russell. (Actually, I don't know who Russell is apart from being the first person to let EY out of the box, but he may well be experienced with this problem, for all I know, and he's probably intelligent if he got into this stuff at all.)

comment by shminux · 2015-03-01T00:22:12.968Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

LV clearly doesn't want the world to end. What would make him believe that killing HP ends the world?

Replies from: minichirops
comment by narfanator · 2015-02-28T22:07:20.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think a big question here is "what kinds of magic, if any, are available?". Answer might be "none". Partial transfig takes too long, everything else requires motion.

That seems to leave to possibilities:

  • Realizations that allow for re-access to magic
  • Talking your way out of it

In other words, no known magic is useful in this situation.

Does that seem reasonable? Does anyone remember a form of magic that doesn't require motion or time?

Replies from: EricHerboso
comment by EricHerboso · 2015-02-28T22:53:05.548Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He learned that he can will his own transfigurations to end wandlessly and without spoken words.

Replies from: narfanator
comment by narfanator · 2015-02-28T23:10:45.794Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, release of magic doesn't require movement. That's something.

comment by Unknowns · 2015-03-03T04:13:42.944Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Having made the Unbreakable Vow, it is impossible for me to engage in motivated reasoning which would put the world at risk, while it is entirely possible for you to do so. I am convinced that you are more likely to fulfill the prophecy by killing me than by letting me live. Since my reasoning is not and cannot be motivated in such a way as to put the world at risk, while yours can be, it is more likely that I am right, and it would be to your advantage not to kill me."

Replies from: Unknowns
comment by Unknowns · 2015-03-03T04:15:55.618Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, if Harry finds it impossible to say this in Parseltongue, then he will simply agree to die, since it will be safer for the world.

comment by William_Quixote · 2015-03-02T21:22:25.620Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


This is a two step solution. The first part succeeds or fails deterministically. If the first part fails the fallback comes into play and that succeeds or fails probabilistically, so you may need to generate a pseudo random number to evaluate this proposal.

Part 1: this part uses partial transfiguration and his newly practiced skills from the 6th year textbook.

Harry must transfigure something touching his wand, so the object transfigured is a small patch of skin touching his wand. He will probably lose that bit of skin when the transfiguration wears off, but this should be acceptable and non fatal.

The object he transfigures the skin into is as follows: A minimally thin thread (maybe a carbon nanotube) going down to the ground, the the thread continues along the ground to the time turner. It then goes through the space in the hinge / snap of the shell into the interior of the shell (the thread may have to get very thin to accomplish this, but the case is described as snapping into place in chapter 18, so it is not truely seamless). Once inside the time turner shell the thread splits into two strands one wraps around the inside of the shell, thickens to be sturdy and attaches itself to the inside by transfiguring sticky bits. The other wraps around the time turner itself thickens up and then attaches itself by transfiguring some sticky bits. Lastly various rods or threads extend to push / pull the inner ring vs the outer ring. Since we know that you can transfigure against tensions this will allow Harry to rotate the time turner inside its shell without the outside of the shell moving (we know from Azkaban that this works). Once the time turned has been turned, Harry will jump back in time by one hour since the time turner is being held by Harry's hand and turned by his hand (the thread is a part of Harry's finger that's been transfigured). Once Harry is alone in the graveyard an hour in the past he has escaped the immediate danger and has time to plan.

Advantages of this plan are that it involves no visible motion of any kind. Partial transfiguration is wordless, and his hand is already touching his wand. The thread is too small / thin to see, and the macro part of the transfiguration happens inside the time turner's shell where it is not visible. The evidence in the book this far is that transfiguration time is gated by the volume of the target, this is a low volume transfiguration so it should be quick. The other advantage of this plan is that it's non interactive. It doesn't involve talking with anyone, penetrating shields or otherwise rely on interactions working out a particular way.

Fallback plan - part 2: if for some reason the above doesn't work (and it should work, but it's always good to have a plan B) Harry should decide that now is the time to free the prisoners of Azkaban, and in his innermost emotional core reach out to the Phoenixs of the world asking them to teleport him to Azkaban.

Harry turned down his choice so he will never be master of a Phoenix like Dumbledore was, but a Phoenix might still help him. Faux helped Hermione when she wanted to be a hero even though he wasn't eligible to give someone a choice at the time. So we have evidence that a Phoenix is capable of helping someone outside of that context. We also know that a Phoenix can remotely detect the intent to help a problem or even the strong consideration of helping. So a Phoenix would be capable of detecting Harry's choice to free the prisoners, and it would be capable of teleporting him there, and it might want to.

So then the question is, will a Phoenix want to help, so far we've seen 2 and both birds seemed interested in the Azkaban problem, but it's probably a biased sample.

Let N be the number of in universe Phoenixs. The author knows or can estimate this number as the creator of te universe, I've got no clue. Let P be the probability that a given Phoenix would decide to help Harry save the prisoners by teleporting him to Azkaban. Again the writer knows this number better than me, but I think the textual evidence suggest it's non zero. Then the chance of success is (1-(1-P)^n) since it's an or relationship, fail is the AND condition of each and every Phoenix individually choosing not to help. If the author has not previously determined value functions for each and every Phoenix then the best way to evaluate if this plan succeeds is to use God knowledge to estimate P and N and then generate a random number.

I note that although the long term life expectancy of someone teleported to the heart of Azkaban may not be great, it would technically meet the exam passing condition of evading immediate death. That said, step 2 is mostly a last ditch effort that relies on some luck, if it were my life, I would be relying on part 1 to save me.

Replies from: lerjj
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T22:03:54.492Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At least one other person has suggested stating plainly, in Parseltongue, that the optimal way to kill Harry would be to send him to Azkaban and let him kill the dementors. If that doesn't kill him, then continue with the previous plan.

I doubt this is in fact the safest way to dispose of Harry, but it might be possible as an extra idea to gain time.

comment by Plasmon · 2015-03-02T17:43:58.583Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I make the following prediction : the transfiguration exercise of ch. 104 foreshadows the possibility of safely transfiguring a certain kind of explosive, that relies on containing several components that will explode upon contact. The ch. 104 exercise tells us that containment chambers can be formed first, and their contents afterwards, such that the bomb will not accidentally explode during transfiguration.

comment by Ander · 2015-03-02T02:57:09.915Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voldemort has promised in Parseltongue:

"For each unknown power you tell me how to masster, or other ssecret you tell me that I desire to know, you may name one more of thosse to insstead be protected and honored under my reign."

1) If Harry was able to give Voldemort an infinite number of powers, through the use of recursion or some mathematical trick or something - some way that Magic Itself will consider to be a large/infinite number of separate but related powers, and

2) If Harry was able to enunciate in some way an infinite number of beings which would Voldemort would then be required to spare, which would include all of the inhabitants of the earth (even future ones?).

Then Voldemort will be tricked into having promised to spare every human.

3) If there is some Magical reason why Voldemort would be constrained to keep his promise, (even though he feels he had been tricked), then Voldemort might be rendered unable to harm anyone.

I dont know if this is at all useful, but it was an idea I had which I haven't seen posted by anyone yet. (Thought I havent looked around at everything).

Replies from: kilobug, DanArmak
comment by kilobug · 2015-03-02T08:52:57.124Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Parseltongue isn't Unbreakable Vow, it doesn't prevent people from changing their mind. Any attempt from Harry to abuse the promise like that will probably make Voldemort reconsider and no longer allow to name new persons for the same "class" of powers (like, early in the year, he said things like "no more body parts" when Harry was enumerating lots of body parts he could use to kill someone).

comment by DanArmak · 2015-03-02T08:54:46.062Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Statements in Parseltongue aren't binding vows, they're just honest statements of intention.

Replies from: Ander
comment by Ander · 2015-03-02T18:04:48.799Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes I agree.

If there is some Magical reason why Voldemort would be constrained to keep his promise, (even though he feels he had been tricked), then Voldemort might be rendered unable to harm anyone.

There needs to be another Magical effect which causes Voldemort's parseltongue statements to become binding in some way.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T04:01:23.784Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you asking for suggestions???

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2015-03-01T19:24:27.163Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can people who have posted their solutions to FFN state as much in their comments so we don't have to wade through the FFN reviews?

comment by LEmma · 2015-03-01T04:45:50.865Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry is allowed to convince voldy to keep him in a coma to kill later. He just has to "evade immediate death", even if there is no hope of survival afterwards

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-01T05:19:21.033Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, but given that he might be tied to the horcrux network, that is strictly a more dire defeat than just letting Voldemort kill him. There is a chance his demise will poison the horcruxi for Voldemort - if they are both in there, that should obviously set of the resonance, and that is the end of the dark lord. This is useless as a strategy because if it works at all, it is what will happen if he just does nothing, But bringing it to Voldemort's attention is a loosing move.

I spent a fair bit of time thinking of things to tell Voldemort to get him to stop, but every single idea I came up with had very similar problems to that one - The only things likely to hold his attention are things that make him more of a danger to the world, or threats to his continued existence he should remain ignorant of.

Hence the lightbomb. Then either bluff that he is casting fiend-fire or deliberately trigger the resonance.

comment by LeifBrown · 2015-02-28T21:06:38.630Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Challenge accepted.

I've already got the seed of a solution which I'll be fleshing out and posting formally, later.

(And it took me half an hour after coming up with it, to get here, register, and figure out how to post.)

Replies from: LeifBrown, William_Quixote
comment by LeifBrown · 2015-02-28T22:27:47.412Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Solution submitted. Thus far, this thread does not include mention of what I would consider to be Harry's greatest weapon.

He hasn't just been practicing "partial transfiguration". He's been successfully practicing discarding any notion of time, space, object or causality, in toto.

To clarify: if you do away with time, you also radically change the meaning of space. It's all just wave equations.

I can't bold that big enough.

comment by William_Quixote · 2015-02-28T22:23:22.043Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note that to save the story you need to post at fan fiction as a review, not just here

comment by Chives · 2015-02-28T20:28:19.056Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A transfigured port key in his glasses does seem possible, or some kind of explosive device hidden in the transfigured ring.

EDIT: Fawkes is also a way out here, if Harry can delay an enemy attack for several seconds

Second edit (the serious one): The ring contains some kind of binding device. This could be the blinding potion Harry used in battles, a set of flash-bang grenades, or (most likely) a seventh-year variant of the blinding potion Harry bought off a student. This countermeasure will blind the unwarded death eaters which allows Harry to immediately fall to the ground and call Fawkes. Fawkes teleports Harry out and allows escape.

Replies from: Sheaman3773, yaeiou
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2015-02-28T20:46:25.363Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was wondering how much retroactive power we would have.

Harry would know, or be able to look up, any number of chemicals that would react very poorly to the open air. It would be exceedingly foolish to carry one on his person, transfigured, such that he would simply have to negate the tranfiguration to have a distraction or attack, but would such a thing be in our power to suggest into existence, if we thought of a sufficiently non-foolish way for Harry to carry this?

comment by yaeiou · 2015-02-28T20:37:35.625Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was thinking of a transfigured portkey attached to one of his fingernails. That way even if bound he should still be able to activate it.

Replies from: jkadlubo
comment by jkadlubo · 2015-02-28T21:01:02.850Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

BUT The students were issued with portkeys in the form of toe rings and Harry got rid of his explicitly.

comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-03T00:34:34.129Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Replies from: Steve_Rayhawk, Alexei
comment by Steve_Rayhawk · 2015-03-03T02:46:31.297Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

["delete" button hasn't appeared despite "retracted" state; do replies keep comments from being deletable?]

comment by Alexei · 2015-03-03T01:46:51.207Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, it's not yet ready for public consumption. Please delete your post.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-02T11:19:09.199Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

V's giving his gun to one of his followers (who are blood purists, not muggle technology experts, and probably haven't ever fired a gun) suggests that he is still unable to "raise hand or wand against" Harry, for whatever reason.

If Harry can cause himself to appear to be V, the Death Eaters will presumably be confused enough to give him time to act (given that V cannot disable Harry himself). Harry can then use magical resonance to cause V to turn into a snake and/or explode, convincing the Death Eaters that he is really V.

The hole in this plan is that I can't think of a way for Harry to pull it off. He doesn't have any wordless, wandless illusion magic, unless I'm overlooking something, and transfiguration would be too slow. Any suggestions or objections?

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-03-07T20:19:51.326Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

V's giving his gun to one of his followers (who are blood purists, not muggle technology experts, and probably haven't ever fired a gun) suggests that he is still unable to "raise hand or wand against" Harry, for whatever reason.

Not that he isn't able but that there might be some protection Harry uses. It's less risk to give the gun to someone else.

comment by Epictetus · 2015-03-02T09:50:05.043Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Might get around to posting a solution. Here's the direction I'm headed:

I think I have a reasonable timetable that can be found in this post. I figure there's at most an hour and a half left until Harry leaves the Quiddich game. I don't expect the cavalry to save the day, but it imposes a time restriction.

Cedric is a wild card here. If he were to accompany Harry then we probably would have learned of it by now. Otherwise, he may have been asked to raise the alarm should Harry fail to return in a timely manner, so I think it's safe to suppose that the time restriction is tight.

If Voldemort can be given a reason to keep Harry alive beyond the 90-minute mark, he'll have to change venue and resume the conversation in another place. Possible topics of discussion are partial transfiguration, Patronus 2.0, and the dangers of meddling with prophecies. Bonus points for invoking the Unbreakable Vow to get Voldemort to awaken Hermione.

Second possibility is to escape. Harry does have that portkey after all. Voldemort did mention having some of his own wards in the area, but the Death Eaters were able to apparate in just fine and Harry, being Tom Riddle, may be able to bypass them as well. The problem is that the reader doesn't know exactly where that portkey is. It may require access to Harry's bag. That means he has to arrange a diversion without getting blown to bits or else has to go back to the talking plan.

Third possibility is to defeat the Death Eaters and Voldemort. I've seen a number of suggestions along the lines of partial transfiguration. I'm inclined to reject this possibility. It has been established in canon that a good Legilimens can detect someone forming a spell in his mind. I don't know that Harry can concentrate on a complex transfiguration while carrying on a conversation and blocking Voldemort from his mind.

Now regarding Dumbledore. There's a reason why he chose to spare Harry knowing that he'd end up in Voldemort's hands. There's something afoot here but I can't place my finger on it. I also wonder whether Dumbledore can leave the mirror. Phoenixes were rumored to come from the mirror and Dumbledore does have one of those...

Replies from: Sheaman3773, Epictetus
comment by Sheaman3773 · 2015-03-02T16:35:25.059Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do note that Voldemort cannot actually use Legilimency on Harry, due to magical resonance.

Not only would this be expected due to how the effect has manifested in the past, but EY has also confirmed that this was the original reason for the resonance in the first place.

It could be possible for a Death Eater to do so in his stead, but I do not think it at all likely without further orders from Voldemort, given his explicit desire for privacy in their conversation.

Regarding Dumbledore's decision, it could simply be that (due to the prophesy) he believed Harry the only one who could defeat Voldemort, and so the loss of Harry would mean that his own presence would be useless in that regard. Better a minuscule chance of saving the world than none at all.

Replies from: Epictetus
comment by Epictetus · 2015-03-02T16:37:12.918Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I may be misinterpreting, but I thought the whole resonance business got cleared up when Voldemort lured Harry into shooting at him.

Replies from: lerjj
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T17:49:01.064Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I might be wrong, but I interpreted that as Tom having made a previous commitment to not raise had nor wand against other versions of himself. That curse is gone, but the resonance is a distinct entity and is still there.

comment by Epictetus · 2015-03-02T10:12:44.866Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Addendum: being as Voldemort hadn't done much testing on his Horcrux network and Harry is Tom Riddle, it may be possible for Harry to die and still be able to return using said Horcrux network.

comment by gilch · 2015-03-02T01:38:08.584Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are all sorts of ways to fight using partial transfiguration. Many of the obvious ones mentioned so far are too slow (tunneling through the ground, nerve gas), suicidal (micro black holes, antimatter, unununium, critical mass of enriched uranium, nitroglycerin, etc.) or too complicated.

only a fool would attempt a plot that was as complicated as possible, the real limit was two.

On the other hand, Dumbledore took the shotgun approach to plotting. Let's take the best of both worlds.

Then the obvious answer is chain lightning! Transfigure the air into ions in a path connecting the Death Eater's necks, including LV. This will likely go unnoticed since air is invisible. It might take a few seconds, but Harry can stall in Parseltongue. Then transfigure a cross section of the middle Death Eater's spinal cord into pure electrons. You should be able to generate considerable voltage with minimal mass/volume/time. Repeat for the other Death Eaters. This gives us the possible instantaneous effects of:

  • Blinding flash/deafening thunder
  • Concussive shock
  • Electrocution
  • Combustion
  • Death

To all present Death Eaters simultaneously, while not killing Harry outright, plus

  • Paralysis
  • Death

To the targeted middle Death Eater. Suffering even one of these effects will disable the other Death Eaters long enough to repeat the procedure. The initial strike will reinforce the ion channels, Harry won't have to rebuild them.

Of course I'm assuming partial transfiguration doesn't require Harry to actually aim his wand at the target, but is limited in size. I'm also assuming he can transfigure air, which is not clear from the story so far, as others have mentioned. But really, air is just atoms like everything else. A partial transfiguration should work. Aim should not be required. Contact should not be required. Just partially transfigure a ray of air into air in the intended direction, and terminating with the intended effect.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-01T17:48:13.881Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe Harry is wearing transfigured 'goggles that make everything you look at green' (which he has seen on his trip to buy school things), and can cast light of just the right intensity and wavelengths to heat Death Eaters up without burning himself?

Replies from: Jost, The_Duck
comment by Jost · 2015-03-01T21:09:44.808Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note that the goggles would only save his eyes, not the rest of his body. So while blinding the Death Eaters may be possible, everything else isn’t. Also, the DEs would likely start blindly shooting spells very quickly, so Harry need’s a plan to avoid those, as well.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-01T21:27:41.470Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Blinding? Not blinding, just making them green. And if he stands far enough, he shouldn't suffer.

Maybe you are answering the wrong comment? Your reply reminds me of his duel with Moody.

Replies from: Jost
comment by Jost · 2015-03-03T18:40:21.677Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe you are answering the wrong comment?

Indeed, I answered the comment that I thought you had written, not the comment that you had written. (Just a simple misunderstanding on my part; sorry about the confusion!)

comment by The_Duck · 2015-03-01T22:06:26.174Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-03-01T15:38:11.112Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Assuming there is a viable plan to disable all opposition Harry can just state this fact in parseltongue and buy time with that. The dark side of Harry surely can come up with one along the lines of partial transfiguration threads of say Iridium ("Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver"..."). Enough approaches that seem conceivable have already been posted.

Actually he has to state this before executing it because that reduces the risk of the intervention as required per the vow. On the other hand he cannot protect earth when dead so he actually has to choose fighting over dying.

Thus his first sentence migt be something like:

"I have a meansss to disssable all opposssition and cause your retreat or death. I mussst use it to protect the world if you do not reduce the risk of my death."

comment by Alsadius · 2015-03-01T14:42:43.977Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Cancel the Transfiguration on his father's rock, use it as a physical shield to block Death Eater attacks.

2) Patronus 2.0 to block Voldemort's attacks - we only know for a fact that it blocks Avada Kedavra, but it is an instance of Harry's magic, which seems to interact poorly with any of Voldemort's magic. If he's got sufficient control, put the Patronus coincident with Voldemort's body - at minimum it'll prevent him from doing too much with magic, and with luck it'll actuaolly cause some sort of resonance that disables Voldemort.

Those two together buy him a few seconds, but no more. After that, frankly, I'm not sure - my best guess is that he'll Accio his pouch and pull out some kind of Muggle gadget, but we already know Voldemort can trump that by ripping the items away. (Unless one of them's a hand grenade, and Voldy doesn't notice? Unlikely...). If he can hold the items long enough to Time-Turn, he can summon some help, presumably pre-mirror Dumbledore. That said, I'm not sure how much that will help.

For a rather out-there option, he is Tom Riddle, and has some of Voldemort's memories. Can the Death Eaters be convinced to change teams? Unlikely, but not specifically prohibited.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-01T17:59:58.595Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Cancel the Transfiguration on his father's rock, use it as a physical shield to block Death Eater attacks.

It is lying in a pile on the ground. How will he use it as a shield?

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-03-01T19:05:49.684Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right. I mean, it has to have some sort of effect, and that was my first thought. But then, it's small enough that Dumbledore can lift it, so I'm not sure how effective it can be.

Maybe he can jump behind it?

comment by TuviaDulin · 2015-03-01T14:02:35.617Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Best answers I've heard or devised so far:

  1. Leonhart's suggestion below. Probably the best rhetorical move Harry could possibly make.

  2. Harry's portkey is transfigured into a tiny chip implanted under his own skin. It would be totally in character for him to do that.

  3. If he has the range, transfigure long, thin tendrils that overlap with Voldemort and the death eaters' spinal cords at the neck level. Thin so that he doesn't have to work with as much mass/volume.

  4. Transfigure the air around him into a carbon nanotube shell, buying himself time for another spell.

comment by DavidLS · 2015-03-01T09:53:42.111Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay, so I like everyone else's comments, but they feel complicated with what I came up with:

  1. Harry convinces himself of #2 enough to say it in parselmouth.

  2. Harry says "I think I understand the prophecy you're trying to avoid, and I believe killing me makes it happen. I would say more, but you'd probably use it to kill me" in parselmouth.

  3. Harry stays silent.

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-03-02T01:08:37.860Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You should be more explicit in Step 1.

comment by knb · 2015-03-01T08:23:15.075Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe Harry needs to solve the nature of magic. Magic acts on human expectations: things happen the way they are expected to happen, within certain rules. Psychological features like intention, emotion, and desire have real effects on the outside world. It seems magic only makes sense in a "human-designed" universe. So the likeliest scenario to HP should be that his universe is a simulation. The limits of Time Turners could be viewed as rules imposed by the simulation-keepers to keep the simulation computable. The Mirror of Erised seems to suggest the same thing. It might be a sub-program baked into the fabric of the simulation to help inhabitants determine their CEV.

There would be an interesting kind of symmetry if Harry's current AI-box problem turns out to be a double-boxing. Will Harry talk himself out of Voldemort's box by warning that they all are in another box?

A problem with this that I see is that Harry's "End of the World" prophecy seems to imply the simulation has a Halting Oracle. I can think of some rationalizations for this, though.

comment by slimysimy7 · 2015-03-01T08:04:56.352Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Partial transfigure air at wand tip into Sarin gas (which I'm sure Harry knows the chemical structure of). Heating it will help it diffuse faster. Hold breath. But not before telling Voldemort something true put possibly useless (like the special power is "love" or something). I'm fairly certain that voldemort would feel the need to respond to this, explaining why it is a stupid answer. You have to inhale to talk. After that, make for the time-turner I guess?

Replies from: Jost, spriteless
comment by Jost · 2015-03-01T09:08:29.019Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There’s one problem with transfiguring toxic gases: It is unsatisfying from a story perspective, and it would need to kill instantly —

There’s two problems with transfiguring toxic gases: It is unsatisfying from a story perspective, and it would need to kill instantly (since otherwise a coughing Death Eater might still be able to use non-verbal spells to incapacitate Harry), and it would need to hit all —

There’s three problems with transfiguring toxic gases: It is unsatisfying from a story perspective, and it would need to kill instantly (since otherwise a coughing Death Eater might still be able to use non-verbal spells to incapacitate Harry), and it would need to hit all Death Eaters at exactly the same instant (otherwise one DE could still get in a shot, when he sees other DEs dying.)

Replies from: Izeinwinter, TobyBartels
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-01T10:53:43.989Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He doesn't need to kill them - Thats why I went with "Really bright light". Voldemort ordered them all to keep their eyes on him, so any visual effect will hit every single one of them at light speed.

And he is wearing magically secured glasses. Wait, he may have prepared this as an attack... Welding goggles, mirrored sunglasses.

Oh. For. Swears Loudly

I just thought of the silliest solution ever. I don't want to assign this a probability, except "Low, unless EY really just has to poke fun at the Basilisk brouhaha". He's brought Slytherins Basilisk. He's wearing the fucking thirty foot snake on his face. Or he talked it into teaching him how to become a basilisk Animagus. Basilisk stare through tinted glasses petrify - Which is exactly the kind of attack one would want against Voldemort.

"What do you mean, didn't Voldemort Avadra it"? Firstly: He didn't say he did that in parseltongue. Secondly, that would not work. Salazar not being an idiot.

"All sensible wizards do, if can. Thus, very rare".

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T23:25:18.442Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait, are you suggesting that Slytherin's Basilisk is Salazar Slytherin, in Animagus form? (Edit: spelling.)

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-04T01:32:42.519Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...I am now!

If you want to extend your life without doing incredibly evil shit, "Adopt long-lived animagus form, shift into it when old, never shift out again" is a fairly straightforward application of magic we know wizarding kind has access to.

One obvious problem is that I doubt Salazar would murder students on request, but heck, Voldemort could have set Myrtle up without his consent.

My original thought was simply that killing the basilisk was just too obvious a problem with the lore deposit, and that for this reason there would be backups. As in "more than one snake, and don't let on to the heirs". That also increases the durability of the chamber against time - it is a line of snakes instead of just one creature, time alone will not slay it.

Replies from: TobyBartels, gwern
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-04T06:02:19.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One obvious problem is that I doubt Salazar would murder students on request, but heck, Voldemort could have set Myrtle up without his consent.

In canon, at least, the Basilisk is all into murdering students, suggesting victims and egging on the Heir. Indeed, it is the Basilisk's murderous mutterings in Parseltongue that make Harry aware of it.

Replies from: Izeinwinter
comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-04T15:02:27.813Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

.. My personal guess about Canon parsel-tongue is that it creates a mind in the snake you talk to based loosely on your own - Hence the python in the zoo just wanting to escape it's cramped living situation, and thus the Basilisk in hogwarts being all murdery - it's nothing more than a funhouse mirror of Voldemort.

This was never tested, because Canon Harry has brain damage from starvation and various other psychological trauma inhibiting his thinking, and never even tried asking the basilisk to back off.

The HPMOR basillisk cannot possibly bear any resemblance whatsoever to the canon one anyway, Because that thing couldn't teach anyone anything.

Replies from: Jiro
comment by Jiro · 2015-03-04T21:42:33.810Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My personal guess about it is that it is that most people attribute to animals a lot more agency than they really have, and the story is written with an authorial worldview that assumes that most people's views on this matter are actually true. Given that worldview, no explanation is needed at all. Of course, that worldview is itself inconsistent, but the inconsistencies have relatively little relevance to talking to snakes.

comment by gwern · 2015-03-04T02:24:40.191Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe canon says Animagus forms are not chosen; Salazar would have to be lucky to get the basilisk as his spirit animal rather than a rattlesnake or cobra or something.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T10:48:28.599Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Come in again.

comment by spriteless · 2015-03-01T16:38:47.141Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Transfer something into non-toxic gas, wait for everyone to inhale it, then dispel the transfiguration. It's faster.

Replies from: Apprentice
comment by Apprentice · 2015-03-01T18:17:47.984Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Great idea! When everyone has inhaled the gas Harry can truthfully say in parseltongue that if he dies, everyone present will die (because that would cancel the transfiguration).

Edit: This work well with all the early foreshadowing about how transfiguration is extremely dangerous. In Ghostbusters we establish early on that you're not supposed to cross the streams because that is extremely dangerous. And then, at the end of the move, when all is lost, what you do is to deliberately cross the streams.

Replies from: gilch, spriteless
comment by gilch · 2015-03-02T20:17:08.414Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The problem with using transfiguration sickness as a threat is that LV possesses the Philosopher's Stone and can easily make a transfiguration permanent once he notices it.

A better option would be to transfigure a massive dose of Ebolavirus in the Death Eater's bodies. It will be deadly if made permanent. Once given a chance to reproduce, cancelling the transfiguration won't save them either.

This seems kind of reckless even for Harry.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T03:03:02.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This seems kind of reckless even for Harry.

That all depends on what the traditional Death-Eater burial practices are like, and if they can be induced to change them.

comment by spriteless · 2015-03-01T23:50:42.384Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Indeed, I had assumed that was what Lord V did to hold the school hostage, but it seems that doesn't mesh with how transfigurations are made permanant.

comment by toner · 2015-03-01T05:18:12.205Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's a flawed solution, but maybe someone can fix it.

Harry performs partial transfiguration on his brain, to transform it into a state where he thinks that he's booby-trapped the universe (for example, by transfiguring some strangelets along with a confinement field that will expire before the strangelets do). Then he just explains honestly to Voldemort why the universe will end if he dies.

Replies from: Jiro
comment by Jiro · 2015-03-02T21:23:42.040Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does transfiguring your brain work in a setting implied to have Cartesian dualism?

comment by LEmma · 2015-03-01T04:45:03.484Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How about simply telling Voldemort that he doesn't have a complete model of time, and give him a bunch of examples of things until one is found which voldy wouldn't have predicted. Suggest to voldemort that he should keep harry in a coma until he has done more experiments with Time to derive its nature, and then kill Harry without waking him up.

Replies from: Alsadius
comment by Alsadius · 2015-03-01T18:00:36.295Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That solves neither Voldemort's lack of patience nor Harry's whole "dying horribly" problem.

comment by Strilanc · 2015-03-01T02:56:38.225Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I made my suggestion.

Assuming you can take down the death eaters, I think the correct follow-up for despawning LV is... massed somnium.

We've seen somnium be effective at range in the past, taking down an actively dodging broomstick rider at range. We've seen the resonance hit LV harder than Harry, requiring tens of minutes to recover versus seconds.

LV is not wearing medieval armor to block the somnium. LV is way up high, too far away to have good accuracy with a hand gun.If LV dodges behind something, Harry has time to expecto patronum a message out.

... I think the main risk is LV apparating away, apparating back directly behind harry, and pulling the trigger.

Replies from: TylerJay, noahpocalypse, Jost, Nornagest
comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-02T07:17:36.968Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Stuporfy" would probably be the better option here. Yes, it's visible, but LV doesn't know about swerving stunners, since Flitwick never demonstrated it in public. It's probably the best chance Harry has of triggering a resonance by casting a spell, assuming he can fire one off.

comment by noahpocalypse · 2015-03-01T05:33:50.061Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you forgot the 37(?) Death Eaters pointing their wands at Harry. You also forgot Voldie's famed reflexes, and a bullet definitely goes faster than a spell.

Replies from: Strilanc, NancyLebovitz
comment by Strilanc · 2015-03-01T05:58:15.781Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I may quote from my post:

Assuming you can take down the death eaters, I think the correct follow-up


LV is way up high, too far away to have good accuracy with a hand gun.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-02T03:38:11.042Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do bullets go faster than spells, or is it that it's faster to pull a trigger than to cast a spell?

Replies from: noahpocalypse
comment by noahpocalypse · 2015-03-02T14:28:36.887Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We've heard of wizards dodging spells.

Replies from: TobyBartels
comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-03T02:34:06.179Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's also possible that Wizards are fast enough to dodge bullets.

(In the movies, the movements are much too slow to dodge bullets, but I wouldn't count that.)

comment by Jost · 2015-03-01T20:29:01.294Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Assuming you can take down the death eaters

That’s one heck of an assumption …

In addition, you’re making the implicit assumption that LV will not react to Harry taking down the Death Eaters, which is an interesting assumption, as well.

Replies from: Strilanc
comment by Strilanc · 2015-03-01T20:33:26.568Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, yeah. The particular case I had in mind was exploiting partial+ordered transfiguration to lobotomize/brain-acid the death eaters, and I grant that that has practical problems.

But I found myself thinking about using patronus and other complicated things to take down LV after, instead of exploiting weak spells being made effective by the resonance. So I put the idea out there.

comment by Nornagest · 2015-03-01T05:11:00.943Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Against a person-sized target, if its user is a decent shot, your average modern handgun is accurate to about twenty-five meters. Voldemort probably isn't that far away, and I'd expect him to know what he's doing. He's shooting one-handed, and left-handed at that, but I wouldn't rely on that.

On the other hand, when he was laying out his plan, he was going to have one of his mooks shoot Harry. That's unlike him, and it might point to him still being bound by his Riddle curse, or to enough caution over unintended consequences to take the gun out of play for the moment.

comment by MathMage · 2015-03-01T00:51:32.060Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Obvious potentially useful moves:

  • Buy time with discussion of secret powers (partial Transfiguration and true Patronus), since we're optimizing primarily for surviving the immediate situation and not for preventing Voldemort from knowing useful powers.

  • Partially Transfigure himself in some useful way, depending on subsequent access to PStone to avoid T. sickness.

  • Cast Patronus centered on himself to blind and to block AKs. (Problem: doesn't block other curses. But if he moves, Death Eaters might fire at the shiny thing instead of at him.)

  • Un-Transfigure glasses into whatever emergency countermeasure Harry could have chosen. (Note: will still be stuck to Harry's face, so no bombs or suchlike.)

I've been primarily thinking along the lines of defense, escape, mobility. Once Harry gets to the Time Turner or the pouch he has more options.

Replies from: Bugmaster
comment by Bugmaster · 2015-03-01T01:14:08.441Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note: will still be stuck to Harry's face, so no bombs or suchlike.

Why not ? I mean, yeah, obviously Harry would want to survive; but if there was some way to take out Voldemort while also taking out himself (and possibly Hermione), and there was nothing better that Harry could come up with in 60 seconds; then the logical course of action would be to go ahead and do that.

Replies from: MathMage
comment by MathMage · 2015-03-01T01:18:12.280Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because it is unlikely that Harry would have precommitted to blowing himself up as a general emergency countermeasure.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-01T00:07:12.421Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry might not be able to transfigure air into solid objects, but he can still transfigure air into other gases, right?

Even if the Death Eaters' masks had some kind of air filter enchantment on them, they likely don't anymore:

We... we were not fighting in them, Master, with you gone... so I did not maintain their enchantments...

So perhaps Harry could partially transfigure the air around the semicircle of Death Eaters into some highly toxic invisible gas while leaving enough normal air between the gas and himself that it would be slow enough to propagate that he would have time to deal with Voldemort and get away and/or diluted enough that it wouldn't incapacitate him?

comment by wiserd · 2015-02-28T23:08:00.161Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really do like dxu's "If you harm me greatly, the universe will end" or something similar in Parseltounge, though. (Since it will end with or without Harry's intervention, this is still true.) It seems the most elegant solution and would buy time to implement some other solution. hm. This system ate my previous post.

I'll have to rewrite it.

While this might be a little deus ex machina for Eliezer Yudkowsky, Harry can create a doppleganger of himself. He's recently learned more complex transfigurations. Dumbledore had access to the Philosopher's Stone, which could make such transfigurations permanent. Harry's special patronus seems to help the process in some cases. These are very complementary abilities.

If Harry could clone a copy of himself from a part of himself, and that copy could be made to forget it's origin then the captured Harry might not have to be the real Harry at all, and could be sacrificed. Harry could theoretically make an army of himself, even, and hide them in his bag of holding or some other place like a clown car. Further, Harry could clone himself and use that clone to make a horcrux gaining some kind of immortality without murder. I doubt that Dumbeldore would allow such dark magics, though.

comment by Dorikka · 2015-02-28T21:53:15.634Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


  • Apparate away
  • Turn wand into portkey to somewhere far away
  • Cast an undodgeable spell at Voldemort, force magics to interact.
  • Should have previously created a dead-man's switch. Still could transfigure something to serve as such, but not many good choices. Antimatter possibly blocked by Vow, toxins can probably be easily contained.
  • There are some more mundane combat options given that Death Eaters aren't exactly the quickest to adapt and Voldemort can't use magic on him. Transfiguring body parts of Voldy or death eaters into a combination of high-pressure gas and a toxin or other agent may work. A particular mundane strategy is Ascendio->Transfigure Voldy's brain into high pressure hydrogen sulfide->create portkey in confusion. Or Ascendio->accio time turner from pouch-> take further action.
  • There are a few other options that unlock if Harry tries to, say, teach Voldy Patronus 2.0. Voldy has to mentally engage with the task which is likely to result in a loss of reaction time.
Replies from: WalterL, Jost
comment by WalterL · 2015-02-28T23:05:01.517Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Harry is able to touch his wand to Voldemort's brain you've already done the exciting part of the plan. I don't see how he'd do that though.

comment by Jost · 2015-02-28T22:41:29.022Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1)+2) In canon, apparition and portkey creation are both pretty advanced magic. (Apparition is typically taught at Hogwarts to 6th year students, while portkey creation is not part of the curriculum, as far as I know.) Unless you have a good indication that Harry knows either of those spells, I consider this highly unlikely.

3) Even if Harry manages to force such a magical interaction near-instantly (which I will consider unlikely until I see a sufficiently detailed description), since this will not help against the Death Eaters. And before Harry is able to perform a second move, the Death Eaters will have killed him in their first move.

4)+5) Transfiguration is an interesting possibility, but both plans seems unsatisfactory to me; not quite sure, why, though. I’ll have to think about that again …

6) Again, any plan that does not incapacitate the Death Eaters very quickly, seems unlikely to work.

comment by Macaulay · 2015-02-28T21:29:52.958Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If knowledge of the True Patronus can prevent people from being able to cast Patronus 1.0, is there a way for knowledge of the True Patronus to harm Voldemort?

Replies from: noahpocalypse
comment by noahpocalypse · 2015-02-28T21:34:50.380Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If what he said back in front of the Dementor is true, Voldie can't cast the Patronus regardless.

Replies from: Macaulay
comment by Macaulay · 2015-02-28T21:48:45.874Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What about Harry changing Voldie's understanding of death?

comment by adamzerner · 2015-04-08T03:12:49.838Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Your goal seems to be to achieve a desirable state of mind. Power and chaos don't seem to be terminal values to you. Muggles have made some progress in manipulating the mind. Perhaps this little thing called wireheading would interest you?"

comment by adamzerner · 2015-04-08T03:11:06.693Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I may be missing something here, but the way Voldemort is acting doesn't make sense to me. He's demonstrated that he thinks there's things Harry knows that he would like to learn. It also seems reasonable that he'd expect Harry to continue to learn useful things that Harry could teach Voldemort. So is giving Harry 60 seconds to do this really the most use he could get out of Harry? Indeed Voldemort might know this and be bluffing.

Playing this card may buy Harry time, maybe a lot of time. With this time, I see a variety of possible outs:

  • Hopefully the muggles will develop FAI one day, which will have the power to finally destroy Voldemort. To increase the likelihood of this happening, I'd think that Harry a) has to communicate to the muggle scientists to keep this secret so Voldemort doesn't find out about it and stop it. And b) could try to distract Voldemort and lead him towards doubting the usefulness of muggle science. b) unfortunately diminishes the usefulness that Harry provides which may end up in Voldemort deciding to kill him, but this may not be a horrible outcome to Harry given the circumstances and his utility function.
  • Make people more rational. It seems that Voldemort enjoys harming people because their stupidity frustrates him. There isn't anyone in the world who Voldemort thinks is actually smart, and thus there isn't someone he actually respects. Harry has been the closest thing to someone who matches his intelligence, and thus he has demonstrated some respect (in a way) for Harry, and has demonstrated deriving some happiness from mentoring Harry. Additionally, in a more general sense, he seems to take pleasure in making stupid people smarter. Perhaps Harry could accelerate the process of making society smarter. Maybe he could use a combination of magic and drugs to make people smarter. (as an alternative, maybe Harry could use the 60 seconds to propose that Voldemort tries making people smarter and seeing if that makes him happy)
  • Continue to contemplate how magic really works. There seems to be incredibly potential power there, far beyond what Voldemort's current powers are. Harry already figured out partial transfiguration and how to kill death eaters at the age of 11(?) and within a year of figuring out that magic exists. Perhaps he'd continue to make discoveries like this and might eventually gain enough power to fight Voldemort. This very well may even happen quickly after one insight. Alternatively, maybe he could figure out the secrets of happiness and propose that Voldemort spends eternity in a magical version of wireheading (Voldie's terminal goal does seem to be happiness, not power or chaos). Granted, Voldemort probably is smart enough to monitor Harry to make sure there isn't anything useful that Harry knows that he doesn't. I'm not sure how to get around this. Making him think you're stupid would make him less likely to monitor you closely, but that also would make him not want to keep you around.
comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-03T10:18:42.777Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry if it's been clarified before, but do we know who the Weasley twins got to Reverse Memory Charm Rita Skeeter?

Replies from: lerjj, Velorien
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-03T16:40:40.629Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think Dumbledore's been suggested, but I have no idea and I'm pretty sure there isn't conclusive evidence anywhere.

Replies from: MarkusRamikin
comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-03T20:58:00.719Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hm. Minerva wouldn't do it. If Snape would, the Weasleys wouldn't know that.

Dumbledore at least knows it was the Weasleys, so I count that as weak evidence towards him...

Quirrel was probably not involved. His extra strong reaction to Harry mentioning that the newpaper spoke of a prophecy suggests he was not pretending ignorance during that whole conversation, since that reaction probably came from Voldemort, not from the Quirrel-role.

But I don't know that it even had to be someone of that power level, or for that matter a Hogwarts teacher.

It's also curious why Quirrel only deduced that it was the Weasleys after he figured out the method used. What's so Weasley-like about reverse memory-charming?

comment by Velorien · 2015-03-03T12:29:28.205Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe not.

comment by ourimaler · 2015-03-03T06:41:55.139Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I kind of wish I had a better visual imagination or spatial awareness. I tend to have trouble keeping track of the environment in novels. As such, even after going back to the story, I'm not entirely sure where exactly Harry is.

The reason I bring this up is that we are told, explicitly, that the Death Eaters will kill Harry if he stops pointing his wand toward the floor.

But 1 G gravity is FAST, and they might be too surprised to react in time if Harry suddenly falls THROUGH the floor. Which may or may not be an option available to him, depending on his location, by using partial transfiguration to turn a thin section of the floor around him into sand.

Replies from: lerjj, ourimaler
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-03T16:43:12.201Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1 G is a high acceleration, but it's not that fast initially. That gives him about half a second before his head falls below ground level (0.64s to fall 2m).

Replies from: ourimaler
comment by ourimaler · 2015-03-03T17:43:17.792Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

True. Which is why my final proposal involved providing something to distract the Death Eaters for a crucial moment.

comment by ourimaler · 2015-03-03T15:14:51.315Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

OK, here's what I ended up posting:

"Have sseveral ssecretss you would consider worth a hosstage, but before that, ssusspect your plan to get rid of me flawed. Am Tom Riddle. Might have accesss to horcruxes. Unlesss grant ssecurity of parentss firsst, will raise wand at minionss; they will casst avada kedavra, sskipping sseveral of your intended ssteps; am gambling on returning from horcrux before you hurt hosstages."

Nonplussed, Lord Voldemort gestured to his Death-Eaters. "A small change in orders, gentlemen. If the boy speaks in human tongue, makes a sudden move, or raises his wand away from the floor, don't case avada kedavra on him - cast stupefy inst-"

Before Voldemort could finish his sentence, before the Death-Eaters could switch mental tracks, Harry's wand - which had never stopped pointing at the floor - finished casting the partial transfiguration. A very thin section of the floor, in a circle surrounding Harry, was now sand. The younger Tom Riddle, along with the piece of floor he had been standing on, quickly fell to the ground below, away from the Death-Eaters' line of sight.

comment by b_sen · 2015-03-03T05:53:33.819Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My apologies if I'm repeating anything that's already been said; I've been isolating myself from the online discussion to attempt the Final Exam by myself. So here's what I've got:

I'm pleased with myself for coming up with the first two solution classes I've listed (and vague ideas about the third, which I later separated into its own class) within 60 seconds, but I didn’t come up with the full Obvious Solution in that time. More work to do...

Solution Class 1: Transfiguration

We know that Harry can Transfigure acids nasty enough to instakill when used to replace a small cross-section of a brain, because this is what he did to the troll (Chapter 89). His ability to perform partial Transfiguration in general is by now well-established. We also know from Chapter 104 that Harry can control how a Transfiguring object approaches the completed Transfigured form, as demonstrated by him succeeding at the shaping exercises he was doing during the Quidditch game. McGonagall also establishes in Chapter 15 that free Transfiguration is wordless and requires no wand movements (only contact between the wand and some part of whatever is to be Transfigured), so Harry can perform a Transfiguration without drawing fire from the Death Eaters by speaking incantations or making wand movements. This solution class involves Harry evading immediate death by combining partial Transfiguration with shaping control to kill the Death Eaters without drawing their fire or killing himself in the process.

In order to kill the Death Eaters, he can use partial Transfiguration to Transfigure a thin cross-section of their brains, much like he did with the troll. However, he will want to choose a cross-section that has a very small total volume for each brain so that he can affect all 36 Death Eaters simultaneously and still make the Transfiguration quick enough to be done before they can react. Some vital part of the brain stem (say, the medulla oblongata) will do nicely. If he wanted to be sure, he could also take a slightly larger cross-section and sever some of the major arteries nearby (supplying assorted parts of the brain) as well.

However, he must choose a volume to Transfigure such that some part of it touches his wand. It is unclear if the requirement is that the volume touches the tip of his wand or merely any part, but either case is solvable.

If he can feel whether a Transfiguration takes or fails, as he has been able to for other spells (such as when he tried to Finite and Alohomora the door in Chapter 23 after Draco locked him in), then he may safely test whether partial Transfiguration allows him to Transfigure air (he didn’t test this since discovering partial Transfiguration) by attempting to Transfigure a tiny volume of air near his wand into something safe (like steel) and feeling whether it takes. Because of the small volume, this test should take less than 5 seconds, not be visible to others, and he should be able to do other things while he’s at it. If he can’t feel whether a Transfiguration takes or fails, he shouldn’t attempt this test and should assume he can’t do so.

If he knows he can partly Transfigure air, he can choose a volume consisting of thin lines of air from the tip of his wand to each Death Eater, further thin lines through each Death Eater’s armor and clothing leading from the air to the chosen cross-section of brain, and the chosen cross-section itself in each Death Eater. He could also choose a volume consisting of a thin line of air from his wand to the ground, and then proceed from the ground using Transfiguration of solids (in case, say, gaseous Transfiguration is harder). (This also opens up the option to quickly Transfigure objects out of the air that will kill the Death Eaters, such as very thin blades, but I don’t know any materials offhand that would have the required compressive strength to make a very thin blade that can nevertheless behead a Death Eater fast enough. Carbon nanotubes might just break, although Transfiguring against tension may help.)

If he doesn’t know he can partly Transfigure air, he can choose a volume composed of solid objects connecting his wand to the desired cross-section. If the volume must touch any part of his wand but does not have to touch the tip, he can choose a volume consisting of a thin line through one of his fingers (preferably the pinky finger just in case something goes wrong) touching the wand up his arm, then down the outside of his torso and leg to the ground, further thin lines through the ground to each Death Eater, yet further thin lines from the ground underneath each Death Eater through their shoes, socks, and bodies to the chosen cross-section of brain, and the chosen cross-section itself in each Death Eater. If the volume must touch the tip of his wand, he can either grasp his wand by the tip without raising it or start the volume with a thin line along the outside of his wand from the tip to one of his fingers, then proceed as above with a volume composed of solid objects. (Recall from Chapter 91 that his wand is robust against small chemical burns.)

Finally, he can use his shaping abilities to Transfigure the desired cross-sections of Death Eater brains into acid before the Transfiguration takes effect on the remainder of the volume, then choose not to complete the Transfiguration of the entire volume (thereby avoiding damage himself). As a further backup, he can also choose a multi-part target form such that the remainder of the volume is Transfigured into something harmless (possibly even exactly what it was before) just in case.

If he can figure out which Death Eater is Lucius (through the code names, perhaps?) he might choose to spare Lucius and hope for his aid.

(Partial) Solution Class 2: Self-Sacrifice

Harry might reason that Voldemort gaining power and taking over the world is a disaster already set in motion by his hand, because he didn’t sufficiently question Quirrell / refrain from showing Quirrell the Hallows symbol / tell Dumbledore about the sense of doom / tell the Order what really happened in the Azkaban breakout, etc. and Hermione would consider Voldemort’s reign a catastrophe. Under the Vow, this would allow him to take lesser risks in order to stop Voldemort or even deal major setbacks to Voldemort’s plan.

So Harry might be willing to risk his own life in order to discarnate Voldemort (and maybe kill the Death Eaters). He could try casting on Voldemort, but that seems stupid in comparison to using the partial Transfiguration attack with the addition of Transfiguring the ground under Voldemort into antimatter (or possibly other suitable explosives if he knows them well enough to Transfigure, but antimatter has the advantages of needing very little Transfigured mass and not leaving any debris that will revert). In order to be sure of discarnating Voldemort, Harry will probably have to let himself be caught in the blast radius; the hope would be that newly enhanced Hermione will survive and maybe become a Light Lady. Alternatively, if Harry has some reason to know that casting on Voldemort would kill (rather than just discarnate) him, that might be enough reason to cast on him despite drawing fire from the Death Eaters.

This is not a complete solution class because it doesn’t let Harry evade immediate death, but it still seems better than death on Voldemort’s terms.

Harry might also notice that the Unbreakable Vow is mind-altering magic and consider it strong enough that he is no longer the same person from before the vow. This might reset his phoenix eligibility, so he might survive anyway on the tiny off-chance that Voldemort and the Death Eaters didn’t put anti-phoenix wards up.

(remainder in child comment due to length limits)

Replies from: b_sen
comment by b_sen · 2015-03-03T05:55:01.887Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Solution Class 3: "You Are Not My True Enemy", aka Talking his Way Out of the Box

The Dark Lord's utility function isn't changeable by talking, but that doesn't prevent Harry from convincing him that his current utility function would be better served by leaving Harry alive, or possibly even helping with Harry's plans. I propose a step-by-step method for doing so below.

Step 1: Explain in Parseltongue that while his power over Dementors must be understood for oneself, as a hint towards this power he will share what his happy thought is for the Patronus Charm. Furthermore, he will offer a proposal for what the Dark Lord might want to do with this knowledge.

Step 2: Explain in Parseltongue that his happy thought is defeating death for everyone (and the improved, much less destructible human race that would come along with doing that well).

Step 3: Point out in Parseltongue that "everyone" includes Voldemort and that Harry's earlier statement of preferring Quirrell’s life to his death still holds after his identity was revealed. Segue into explaining that his decision to shoot was made intending only temporary incapacitation rather than death.

Step 4: Tempt Voldemort, still in Parseltongue, by offering an improved society where he is not only safe from death, but can also plot against many competent opponents including deceased ones like Salazar Slytherin. Implicitly contrast this with Voldemort's plan, which is unlikely to produce any competent opponents and leaves him still worrying about his Horcruxes. What will he do if some other magical civilization eventually destroys that golden plaque?

Step 5: Continue tempting Voldemort in Parseltongue by pointing out that in such a society he wouldn't have to deal with idiots and wouldn’t have to worry about others destroying the world. State that he knows how annoying idiots are to Voldemort, so this is a major benefit. Further, remind him that Harry must stay away from destruction, or even allowing others the knowledge with which to destroy the world, in pursuing this society.

Step 6: Explain in Parseltongue that the Vow also requires him to point out that Voldemort might be the one to fulfill the prophecy, especially since he was its hearer and many people would consider his plan highly destructive.

Step 7: After piquing Voldemort's curiosity about why the Vow might require Harry to say this, state in Parseltongue that Harry, like Voldemort, also wishes to decline playing out the drama that Dumbledore imagines.

Step 8: Propose in Parseltongue that they cooperate to bring about a future world such as what Harry described, one they both much prefer to Voldemort’s plan. Point out also that Harry’s hands are tied by the Vow; he cannot allow Voldemort's plan to go through because Hermione would oppose Voldemort’s plans as destructive and consider them enabled by Harry.

For further demonstration of how to perform these steps, see the Obvious Solution.

(remainder in child comment due to length limits)

Replies from: b_sen
comment by b_sen · 2015-03-03T05:56:04.004Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(EDIT: formatting)

The Obvious Solution: Avert Destruction at Every Possible Point of Intervention

Notice that the solution classes above are not mutually exclusive at the planning stage, and can even be combined with some as backups for others. Naturally, then, part of the lesson is to do exactly that - because Harry needs this to succeed.

To show that I can figure out exactly how to combine them and the details of how Harry should talk his way out of the box, I’m going to write out the combination as a hypothetical Chapter 114. Doing so requires me to pick specifics out of each solution class, but should get my point across.

Chapter 114: Final Exam Solution

Even as Voldemort was still hissing out his threats, Harry's mind started racing with wordless inferences.

Must at least evade immediate death - can't sort out how to deal with other problems if I'm dead -

- must also avoid unnecessary risk of destruction -

Voldemort had intended the Unbreakable Vow to compel no positive action in itself, nor to compel inaction in case of disasters already set in motion by Harry’s own actions. But being a knowing bystander to disaster, when he could have intervened, would be allowing it to happen by his own actions just as much as if he had set it in motion himself; Hermione would agree once she’d had everything explained and come to understand heroic responsibility.

There were catastrophes every day; 150 000 deaths a day could hardly be considered anything less. Hermione would want those lives saved, just like he would. And unless someone ended death, humanity (and life) would die out eventually. It was a statistical fact that those two different spirits could not exist in the same world.

Any vow was Unbreakable, if made by the right person.

- the Vow requires me to choose Light and world optimization, therefore my survival decreases the risk and expected severity of future disasters barring exceptions like self-sacrifice -

And now Harry couldn’t slow his thoughts down to put them in words, not even if he wanted to, not while his survival depended on thinking quickly; the Unbreakable Vow he had sworn was driving his best efforts as a rationalist towards the course of least destruction and he couldn’t stop it any more than an Artificial Intelligence could disobey its programming.

- he just said I have sixty seconds; how can I get out of this or at least stall for more time without drawing fire from the Death Eaters -

- spells requiring incantations or wand movements are out of the question, but free Transfiguration uses neither -

A wordless image of Transfiguring a cross-section through the troll’s brain flashed through his mind. To kill thirty-six Death Eaters at once, though, he’d need to pick a small but immediately fatal cross-section so that the total volume would stay small enough to affect quickly -

- sever the medulla oblongata and they die in a fifth of a second -

Free Transfiguration required his wand to be touching part of the volume he wanted to Transfigure, but there was no reason to limit partial Transfiguration to part of one object, not now that he’d put so much practice into seeing past the illusion of objects in order to perform partial Transfiguration in the first place. And while he could retest Transfiguring air now that he understood partial Transfiguration, he didn’t want to risk giving anything away by looking down near his wand.

- wands are robust to minor chemical burns -

Harry visualized a thin line (noticeably less than a millimeter thick) along the outside of his wand from the tip to his pinky finger, up his skin to his shoulder and then back down to his heel where it touched the bare ground. The line then split into thirty-six separate lines along the ground, one for each Death Eater, leading to their shoes, through their shoes and socks, and finally up their bodies to the desired cross-section of brain.

His conscientious Transfiguration practice had done him a great deal of good; not only could he hold the complex volume in mind while continuing to think, but his shaping practice would also let him Transfigure only the intended cross-sections into sulfuric acid without sustaining damage from routing the connecting line through his body. After getting those sections to Transfigure first, he would just cancel the Transfiguration rather than complete it. As further protection against damage, he also chose a target form with no changes to the material along the connecting lines, keeping the acid only where it would be needed.

He held the visualization of this Transfiguration in his mind, ready to perform it at a moment’s notice if it were needed, but didn’t cast the spell just yet.

- I have a plan now, but it involves thirty-six deaths and doesn’t buy me much time. Voldemort will use Muggle methods to kill me if he has to; at best I might be able to escape on Quirrell’s broomstick-bones and maybe grab the pouch and Stone while he’s distracted. -

Time to look for a better plan, or rather additional plans. Hermione would also consider Voldemort’s plan a massive catastrophe, and that was definitely aided by Harry being stupid. He hadn’t sufficiently questioned Quirrell, hadn’t kept the symbol of the Deathly Hallows a secret rather than showing it to Quirrell, hadn’t reconsidered telling McGonagall about the sense of doom, hadn’t told the Order what really happened in the Azkaban breakout, hadn’t declined the Azkaban breakout as a stupid idea, hadn’t realized something was wrong with the note before going back in time, too many mistakes to enumerate now...

...so now he had to keep planning to stop Voldemort, had to avert disaster at every possible point of intervention. And also improve his ability to continue averting disaster afterwards if he survived -

- besides just survival, self-improvement and acquiring more resources are also useful -

The terrible clarity continued to strengthen its grip on his mind, although it no longer felt Dark now that it had been harnessed this way. It felt... integrated, a set of skills that retained their chaining to each other but also blended smoothly into the rest of his mind.

(Somewhere in a distant back part of his mind, Harry noted just how much the Unbreakable Vow had altered his mind and made a note to restore pre-Vow Harry in a more optimized world, then let him choose how he wanted to live his life.)

Destroy Voldemort’s current body by Transfiguring part of the ground underneath him into antimatter: Would be a setback to him, but is also a self-sacrifice move. Hermione might survive to become a Light Lady if I keep the amount small enough. Keep the idea around in case self-sacrifice seems worth it later, but keep looking for more plans.

Cast a spell on Voldemort directly and hope the resonance kills him: Another self-sacrifice move, and will probably draw fire from the Death Eaters unless I make it a quick Transfiguration I can finish before the resonance gets me too. I have no assurance that doing so will kill him rather than just force him out of his current body. Keep looking.

Tell Voldemort some secrets that aren’t actually that useful: Largely failure. Stalls for time, but he’ll rapidly grow impatient.

Tell Voldemort some secrets that are useful: Also largely a failure. Better stall for time at the expense of adding to his future power and making him harder to stop later, and he’s probably still going to kill me.

Voldemort seems to have most of the immediate power here. For him to keep you alive, you’ll have to convince him that it’s in his best interests to do so. You must either find something you have that he wants, or find something you can do which he fears, and present it in such a way as not to immediately raise his guard against persuasion...


Transfiguration options still at the ready, he began to hiss...

(remainder in child comment due to length limits)

Replies from: b_sen
comment by b_sen · 2015-03-03T05:56:31.069Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(EDIT: formatting)

The Obvious Solution, Continued:

"I offer you hint towardss power over life-eaterss, and alsso propossal for what to do with knowledge. Propossal is ssafe and so iss hint, no malice in either."

The snakish face now looked decidedly interested.

"Hint iss happy thought for guardian Charm. Thought of defeating death for good, in doing sso preventing eventual apocalypsse, desstruction of humanss. Including wizardkind."

He hadn’t wanted to give away any secrets, but the happy thought didn’t give away the nature of Dementors directly and was indeed only a hint, although a fairly blatant one when combined with the Parseltongue name for Dementors. Besides, he needed to convince Voldemort of his belief in that thought, in that possible future, for this next part to work...

"Including you, teacher. Sstill prefer your life to your death, even knowing you to be Dark Lord. Decided to usse Muggle weapon only to sset back your plot, wass not attempt on your true life. "

Carefully, now the carrot...

"Future I intend to create would be pleassant for you, give you many opportunitiess to follow dessiress wherever they lead. Wissh to plot againsst invoker of Parsselmouth cursse himsself? I would bring him back to life too, with your help."

Those red eyes widened ever-so-slightly at the idea of plotting against Salazar Slytherin.

"Wissh to have many intelligent opponentss at once, play game with more than one plotter and more than one plan? You would not have to worry about death, not even about ssafety of horcruxess. Not even exploding sstar could causse your death or other catasstrophe; would improve sspace travel, sspread society among sstarss. Not even idiotss could cause dissasster; ssafeguardss would be improved. Idiotss would alsso be kept well away from you - I know how much you disslike dealing with them."

Just a little bit of a scare away from his plan, not too much...

"Can purssue thiss - musst purssue thiss - without unnecessary risk of desstruction. Girl-child friend is voice of caution, will advisse me on conducting ressearchess with care greater than mosst wizardbornss, will not allow me to breach ssealss that I sshould not breach, nor allow knowledge to fall into handss of idiotss. But Vow makess me tell you girl-child friend would notice that your plan may be prophecied dissasster, ssince you were hearer and many would conssider Dark Lord’ss rule dissasster. You may wake her and explain everything to check, if you believe my undersstanding of her incomplete."

Voldemort shook his head once. "Not necessary. Finissh explaining propossal."

"You ssaid earlier that between uss we would decline to play out dramatic battle, that ssuch battle between uss wass figment of former sschoolmasster’ss imagination. You are correct. Do not wissh to battle you. Wissh insstead to battle death together, create greater world for uss both."

And now to spring the dilemma.

"But Vow tiess my handss. If you agree to help me, and provide assurancess ssufficient to ssatissfy girl-child friend in her right mind, then I would help you create dessirable world as desscribed. But if you inssisst on plan to rule as Dark Lord, girl-child friend would conssider it dissasster sset in motion by my hand, desstructive inaction if I did not try to sstop you. Sshe would demand I try if all thiss were confided in her. And action to sstop you would not be sstupidity; order sservantss to harm me, or lead me to ssusspect that you are doing sso, and they all die on sspot. Would rather not demonsstrate; will be eassier for you to provide ssufficient assurancess with at leasst ssome of sservantss alive."

It was elegant, really, identical actions in a Prisoner’s Dilemma forced by an Unbreakable Vow that his opponent devised the text of. Malice had nothing to do with it, not on Harry's part.

"Vow givess me no choice; can only help you if you agree to help me. And quickly, or it may force me to kill sservantss."

(Notice the side order of currently-slow takeoff and extreme goal-directedness, along with Harry escaping the box.)

comment by Fly_By_Night · 2015-03-03T03:14:57.640Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Skip to the bottom for personal context on the following ideas: ALSO I RAN OUT OF ROOM ON THIS POST and the formatting is making my numbers and spacing look doofy.

Part A: Transfiguration bridges

  1. Getting started: Partial transfiguration is the most immediately useful thing besides talking, and as I understand it requires wand contact. Harry transfigures a part of his own finger, on a contacting part of the wand blocked from view, and extends the transfiguration slightly to get access to his blood flow. The blood is transfigured into a channel with a covering of false wood on the back of his wand, held on by an exotic fractal surface maximizing van-der-walls forces (gecko tape). The blood faucet at the end of harry's wand is utilized to transfigure an amount of carbon nanotubes with considerable potential energy stored in hairpin folds. The unzippering of the hairpin folds are the (adiabatic) motive force to fire a relatively heavy lance of multiwalled crosslinked carbon nanotubes stippled in nested nanobuds (small appended buckyballs for friction with external objects and linking between layers) at the ground below voldemort's body. This forms a transfiguration beachhead at a desirable location.

  2. The design of the beachhead: The transfiguration beachhead is first used to prepare harry's nuclear option. First, the beachhead would be anchored by growing a fractal network of bundled nanotubes off of a stiff taproot. A multi faceted disk tip of the taproot, with 3 degree facets stacked two high at slightly different angles, disguised with a matte finish the same color and pattern of the surrounding earth, with a bit of dirt on top, like a roof, forms a shape like the word's most covert pop-up sprinkler head. This is the basis of the transfiguration missile battery. Each facet contains a heavy nanotube lance backed by a hairpin CNT held in tension by nanotube zippers. To be clear, the nanotube zippers are fairly extreme nanotubes with nanobuds on them that interlock with nanobuds at regular intervals on the haripin CNTs. This device is unzipped in waves to minimize noise. It should be noted that this device deploying should make a faint, probably undetectable, hissing noise, as the tiny lances break the sound barrier. Voldemort's true form, however, has no external ears, meaning he can only localize sounds by phase and level difference. As Harry's hissing parselmouth and the firing battery are right below and in front of him, both sound sources exist on the same plane as equidistant to V's ears. Thus, the noise is not localized. Harry can fire his transfiguration volleys while vocalizing something with strong sibilance. (wouldn't it be funny if a parselmouth had a lisp?)

  3. Voldy's turret: A bouquet of CNT zippered lances on top of the battery remain in reserve as an offering to Voldy. Part of the bouquet contains three dozen CNTs aimed at an angle that will not hit Voldy if fired directly at him. The angle should be as tight as possible (I'm not sure how high he's floating, but Harry would) for example, if Voldy is 5 meters up and presents a rough cross section no more than one meter in diameter, plus one third for error, gives a minimum angle of about 8 degrees, though 10 degrees would be OK in case voldy drops a few feet or does a broomstick crabwalk in the air or something. These lances are special in that they should be CNT loaded to go about 50 meters up in this case, or otherwise a good bit higher than voldy currently is. mounting this portion on a flex mounted head (like a pyramid with a CNT connection from the tip to the base of the beachhead) aimed by a set of tensioned CNT guy wires is also pretty key, as it allows harry to re-aim if voldy decides to fly around. Harry has demonstrated the ability to transfigure CNTs into shorter CNTs, even under tension, so this provides an aiming method. (The reason I'm not just having harry lengthen a set of fat CNTs instead of using the zipper hairpin springamabobs is I haven't been able to find enough information on how CNTs do under compression, it's likely someone here will know better to make a workable solution.)

Part B: The Nuclear option (No time shenanigans based survival)

  1. The time it might take to get started: Based on the beach head being a bunch of similar parts of low mass arrayed many times, harry may be able to conceptualize and implement the growth in a matter of seconds. This is based on Harry's practice with the feather, growing out simple similar stages all at once. The springs, zippers, lances, harpoon batteries, facets, lattice structure, etc, are all simple components arranged relative to each other in very few ways. I consider it safe to assume that Harry has a level of concentration right now that makes the battles against the omnicidal AI at the end of Summer Wars look like geriatric speed chess. It might take less than ten seconds, depending on how fast the blood flows down harry's wand to start that initial jump to transfiguring dirt.

  2. Some key calculations: Harry's rate of transfiguration based on one hour to transfigure a unicorn: ~ 8 KG per minute, or 133 grams/second, or 133 billionths of a gram per nanosecond.

Carbon nanotube calcs -

carbon double bond distance: 1.3 A single bond: 1.5A Hybrid Bond: 1.39A

The lattice is hexagonal, h = (√3)s gives the height of a single layer from flat-to-flat (the lengthwise, strong axis for a nanotube) on the hexagon, which is about 2.4A. There's an additional carbon bond to connect to the next carbon (I'm referencing cycloparaphenylene) so 3.6A per ring of six carbons is the length. 3.6A is really just a jerk way of saying .36nm, so multiplying things out to a full meter, gives me just under 2.78*10^9 layers of cycloparaphenylene equivalent carbons, which have 6n carbons, where n decides the aspect ratio. Aspect ratio is kind of arbitrary in this case, but I'm going to go with six, since everything else is a hexagon and that makes nesting really interesting.

So, going back to the beachhead, every facet has redundant pair of harpoons, they're spaced out at 3 degrees apart, they have a massive portion at the end so they have a bit of fling and stick capability, and the tethers are a good ten meters longer than they need to be, with intention to go in an arc over the death eaters and just have the strands drape over their shoulders and extended wand hands. 198 degrees of these things (66 facets) should be enough to sextuple-redundant drape most of the death eaters, with some margin for drift in flight. Additionally, 36 single shots for voldemort himself on the tilting turret. 198+36=234 total nanotubes. Interestingly, while I have the numbers up, thats .4ng per meter if they were all bundled together and totally smooth, but with the nanobuds from the hairpin zipper, I calculate it to be between .405 and .44ng, depending on how many hairpin bends are necessary to really whip everything where it needs to go. (harry might need to experiment with the nanoballistics, that's why there are triple volleys)

  1. What makes this dangerous.

energy per kg of mass (E=mc^2) = ~90 petajoules or 22.5 megatons of tnt equivalent

If, using the feather principle and starting from the far tips, harry transfigures the carbon into anticarbon at around the rate that he transfigured that unicorn much earlier in the year, and it reacts with an equal amount of matter, harry will release: 1 kilogram / .4 nanograms = 2.5 trillion (2*90 petajoules) / 2.5 trillion = 72K joules

Now, this is spread across all strands. If we include voldy's turret with all strands fired, that's a little over 150 joules per strand per meter vaporized, which means each death eater has some 900 joules creeping up behind them, and voldy has 5400. Now, there's inverse square at work here, so however far the propagation is away reduces the heat significantly. This is particularly interesting because:

Sum of all Masses Per meter: >.4ng Harry's transfiguration speed: ~.133ng/ns light-nanosecond: 0.3 m

Harry's propagation rate is (hopefully) limited by lightspeed. He might be a smidge slower after that Hermione magic saving incident, but I expect all of the energy is going to arrive at once from the perspective of the death eater's backs, and it's going to involve gamma radiation, delivered by the relativistic antimatter det-cord they're wrapped in six different ways. Everyone, especially voldemort, is going to be riding the skin rocket to the center of the meat Z-pinch, except Harry, who will be very red and flying very backwards. I also expect this would wake Hermione, but I suspect she's just been playing possum this whole time.


Okay, so first time commenter here on LW, and I have a LOT of content that I'd like to append to this top comment, figures I'd like to work out for refinement but I'd rather have more eyes on some of it than really polish all of it and put it out for scrutiny like an hour before the deadline.

I came in a bit late and spent most of yesterday evening piecing together a plan, or more specifically, a net steps in a plan on a whiteboard that resembled something like a CYOA map combined with a very deep and messy solomonoff induction network. It was incomprehensible. Trying to put it down in a comment form for EY to read left me feeling dread, horrible dread, which I ignored as best I could. Also, I wasn't exactly sure if my mess of solution modules was an acceptable way to compensate for imperfect information, or just a rule-breaking. I'm also having trouble re-reading to check for consistency, and I didn't really read the official canon past maybe the third book, and I was in elementary school then.. so know that I'm still making a best effort to do this on my own as per EY's suggestion, I just want to do so transparently so more people better equipped to solve the problem can cannibalize parts of my final solution into some dread machine of winning.

Replies from: Fly_By_Night
comment by Fly_By_Night · 2015-03-03T08:26:23.196Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Part C: The Best option

Harry needs to convince Voldy that killing him is a bad move, and will lead to a universe that quirrell will not want to live in medium-term, and no quirrell in the long term. (note: I'm trying not to, but I've caught little bits of people on this page that do amazing snake writing. I'm not going to do that because simple english wikipedia can only take me so far.)

The prophecy has been given as little bits involving stars going out, which I think is a separate prophecy than the one with 'the power that the dark lord knows not'. Taken literally, short term, harry can come up with a powerful sacrificial ritual to harness energy that has left a star, medium term, can pull off various feats of stellar engineering like dyson spheres (this should be the name of a vacuum cleaner model), and long term, can just shut down stars and use the matter for more useful purposes, since energy is completely free for wizards anyways. In particular, I was thinking it'd be funny if Harry made his purple light potion, only instead of leaves, he reworks it to use a collapsed star. Additionally, there's a lot of possibilities for techno-horcruxes to inhabit the galaxy. I doubt Voldy has tried horcruxing a sufficiently advanced robot, and IIRC things are set in the late 80s, so there probably won't by any sufficiently advanced computers or robots unless teams of people like Harry are working at it for a while, partially transfiguring novel computronium, and trying to figure out what kind of substrate interactions can be exploited to backup horcruxes to data storage devices, provide sufficient sensory data, and control hardware. If it works, It might be possible to kill one person, make a robo-horcrux of yourself, have the next person kill you, make their robocrux, all the way on to the nth person of the evening, who kills someone, makes a robo-crux, and then time-turns back to be the first to die. Uhh, it's sort of a philosophical issue, but I'm sure Voldy would approve since he's already somewhat exempt from the mass produced techno-immortality circle jerk.

A seperate bit that'll probably interest him is the true patronus. Indifference to killing, indifference to dying, pretty much anybody present except hermione should be incapable of learning

I fell asleep, interfered with my laptop cord, and lost some (a lot) writing, plus polishing. I feel like Ellen Fies in that old mac switch ad. I just learned about 'decision fatigue' from a separate rational fic, but for some reason I just thought I'd be mentally sluggish, not drooling in my chair. I like to think I didn't just bore myself to sleep with my own writing.

--------------------------I have to abandon the previous format and just write ideas--------------------------

Part D: Talking point, protecting the eternal fun machine I'd like it if Voldy could be seduced into stellar engineering and fast-tracking man's expansion across space. I can think of a lot of arguments that depend on Voldy's utility function, a major (kinda evil slanted) one being that Voldy can't continue making horcruxes without living people around, Voldy can't continue possessing magic without living wizards around, There are nearer-term unpredictable eschaton events than a solar supernova, and also that he values fun, and there are many really good fun theory arguments against floating helpless but mostly immortal in a featureless void for an incomprehensible amount of time. Additionally, Voldy can't reach enough distant objects, even after establishing a portkey system, to keep maintaining even one galaxy indefinitely. Should he need to steer away from a big crunch scenario, or a galaxy swallowing black hole, or an oncoming antimatter galaxy, or some other big end-of-universe spooky, he's doomed unless he maintains enough competent agents spread out everywhere to keep the stuff that entertains him around.

---- I'm going to post now and just keep editing ----

What happens after the atomic win:

Once harry picks himself up and gets to his bag of tricks, the stone, and the time turner, he goes back six hours with hermione, checks on the moon relative to how it was when he left the quidditch game, and sends the perfect patronus to inform dumbledore of the state of things so he can set up an illusion in the mirror room and quit worrying about giving voldy the stone. The cavalry isn't coming, it's already here, and harry has delegated it to trustworthy people.

Harry informs hermione of the true nature of the stone, her existence as a magic creature horcrux experiment, the sacrifice of his own magic he used to reboot her, and how both voldemort and he are tom riddle. She reminds him that he is the heir of slytherin, because they're both up on hogwarts a history.

If time permits (harry can be intercepted en route to the chamber) the perfect patronus goes to get McGonagall, gets her alone, informs her of the anime reference sacrifice hostage situation, and requests her immediate presence in a room off the hallway to intercept past harry. Meanwhile, harry goes off to command slytherin's basilisk, put cute sunglasses on her, a blindfold over that, and transport her to meet with McGonagall in the described place. Once the snake is made safe, hermione is given a rundown of what has gone on and is encouraged to be autonomous or check for understanding until the intercepting phase, when she needs to stop past harry in the hallway, request his glasses and time turner, transfigure the glasses into empty frames, insert the Basilisk lens that McGonagall is maintaining, Insert the [McGonagall wrapped in a future harry's invisibility cloak] lens that McG's maintaining herself as, glue blue tinted flash paper that McG has transfigured into something transparent and thin to the frames behind the lenses. (McG should be offered the chance to just ride in the library room in Harry's bag if she can maintain the transfigurations and perceive well enough to hear a verbal cue [the last thing said by voldemort or any death eater would work, harry can demonstrate the parselmouth if applicable by talking to a serpent] Having her in the bag means she'd be around, and would just so happen to be in his bag right now if he agrees, but only after going in the other room and casting a finite incantatem on his glasses to see if the basilisk is present and find out whether she remembers being triggered to petrify everyone) The prepared glasses are then placed on harry, harry is told to magically affix the frames to the bridge of his nose, hermione requests permission to confund him, instructs past harry (likely as a proxy of future harry) to go back one hour and gather people (such as mad-eye moody and dumbledore) to deal with the hostage situation in the stadium, possibly by carpet bombing the crowd with portkeys immediately after past Harry is out of earshot. Past harry is about to learn about the anime reference blood

There are some likelihoods, like crispy harry has scorched eyeballs and skin and needs to break out the wizard drugs, plus needs to be led around by hermione or draco for a bit. I'm sure hermione, draco, or McGonagall will take care of it before too long, and scorched eyeballs would actually be pretty cool when going to meet your pet basilisk for the first time.

I also think it'd be amusing if Hermione brushed his hair a bit, explanted harry's testicles for safekeeping, dropped in some decoys, and spruced up a bit down there before confunding him. A lot of important evil people are about to see him and grooming is important to people's perception and this is a terrible line of thought and I should feel bad but I don't.

comment by longtime_lurker · 2015-03-02T21:25:13.220Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"You see, while we're having our nice little chat, someone out there might be building another Harry right now, and that one isn't even bound by an Unbreakable Vow. Prophecy happens, everyone dies. I offer you the end of the world on your terms. Are you really sure you wish to terminate me?"

Replies from: lerjj
comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T21:48:00.754Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, that particular plan is highly improbable, and LV can search the globe for Harry-builders in his own time.

The elements of this that are threatening are: if you kill me that might no avert the prophecy; and if you kill me I might come back to haunt you (means unspecified in both cases). The standard answer to the former is that if prophecies can't be averted then this is all a waste anyway, so LV might as well try to kill Harry. The second is harder, but I model Voldemort as rejecting this, although I don't quite know why.

tl;dr avadakedavra

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T21:04:47.974Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Variant of a suggestion from Reddit: the original is to transfigure the Earth into gold for a nanosecond, along with a trail that reaches out to the Pioneer probes. The goal being to hit all horcruxes at once, and at the same time transfigure the death eaters and LV to kill them horcrux-less. This is supposed to 'work' because it's for a short amount of time.

Bearing in mind that the magic cost is dependant upon target size, I'd like to suggest another option: transfigure the cubic kilometre below them into a small diamond, or better yet, transfigure it into a slew of tiny bullets travelling at 0.1c and aimed everywhere except a cylinder centred on Harry. The target size (the bullets) is small, so this is feasible in a short time frame whilst causing mass disorientation as everyone suddenly is hit by 1g downwards acceleration and 0.1c bullets.

If I've misinterpreted the phrase target size, be aware that the opposite plan is also OP: simply transfigure the layer of dirt you're standing on (if that's what target means) into a 2km tall tower, then apparate.

comment by Aiyen · 2015-03-02T19:42:35.452Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Let's see. First off, let's consider the problem as thoroughly as possible without proposing solutions. Harry is surrounded by Death Eaters with orders to fire should he move, speak in any language other than Parseltongue (and probably if he makes any sound other than a hiss), raise his wand, and presumably if he does anything else suspicious (such as casting a visible spell without raising his wand or speaking an incantation). Lord Voldemort will presumably order his death (and likely shoot at him) if he does not appear to be complying with the instructions to tell the Dark Lord as many secrets as possible.

Therefore, he needs a countermeasure that can be used without giving any sign until it's too late, or a way to convince the Dark Lord of his cooperation, either to the point of making his continued survival valuable to Riddle Sr., or to the point of buying enough time to use a countermeasure.

Cooperating, or at least plausibly faking cooperation should be fairly simple. He can explain his understanding of Dementors, telling Voldemort that his desire to keep it secret was to prevent an infohazard to conventional Patronus casters; as Voldemort is not one such he will not be harmed by the information. He can explain partial transfiguration-it's not likely a difficult concept for the Dark Lord to grasp, but it seems to be one he hasn't thought of. Buying time is not a problem.

More difficult is what to do while/after buying time. He either needs that countermeasure, or else a way to convince Lord Voldemort that he is worth more alive than dead. As Voldemort fears existential risk greatly, the main way to convince him would be to point out that Harry is not the only source of x-risk, and that he very well may now be a means of reducing it. Prophecies are spoken to those with the power to fulfill or avert them, the "tear apart the very stars in the heavens" prophecy was spoken to Voldemort, suggesting that he might be able to alter the future, and may well have already done so (resurrecting Hermione, binding Harry with the Vow). As such, Harry is no longer necessarily a universal threat. Furthermore, he's not THAT special. He's highly intelligent and a wizard; that's about the sum total of his unusual powers, and it's hardly that rare of a combination (rare enough that we've only heard of one/two Riddle-level intelligent wizards in the story, but if Voldemort plans to live forever, another one will surely arise in the absence of dire action taken to prevent it and/or a catastrophe).

As such, if Harry could have destroyed the stars, another wizard will likely emerge as a threat to do exactly that. For that matter, depending on the method of stellar annihilation, it might be possible for a Muggle to accomplish this as well, or for Muggle actions to end the world as we know it (nuclear weapons, anyone?). Therefore, Lord Voldemort must either drastically repress Mankind to reduce x-risk (and this seems likely to be deadly dull for him, consider his horrified reaction to the possibility of spending his eternity in a dead world-he may not care about humanity the way a normal person does, but he finds us amusing enough to be worth preserving to some extent; also consider that he valued having an equal/near equal enough to make a copy of himself and dragged out his war with Dumbledore far beyond the point he could have easily beaten him, so suppressing intelligence and creativity for fear of their misuse is likely to be repugnant to Voldemort), be destroyed/spend eternity in a dead world, or find an intelligent solution to avert x-risk without taking drastic actions that make the world boring. The last of these options is the only one that Lord Voldemort seems likely to consider acceptable, and Harry might be a useful asset in finding a solution.

Alternatively, he could point out that the prophecy might refer to some form of apotheosis, rather than calamity. Tearing apart the stars for energy/to prevent the loss of negentropy, which seems like a reasonable post-singularity plan. Voldemort is unlikely to want to take the risk, but both of these arguments together might sway him, or at least buy more time. Of course, this may well require hearing the prophecy to learn enough details to craft a convincing argument, but the incident with Firenze might give Harry enough information to start without learning any more from Voldemort.

This might at least avert Harry's immediate death, and thus is one potential solution to Eliezer's challenge. The other option is to find a countermeasure.

The Boy-Who-Lived is naked save for his wand and glasses. Preempting/evading/deterring the Death Eater's curses seems impossible without magic, with suggests that a countermeasure would involve the wand and/or glasses. By the time he speaks an incantation, he will be cursed, suggesting that we need wordless, invisible magic (at least invisible until it's too late!)

Transfiguration is wordless, and Harry can even reverse transfiguration without a wand. Do we see any other spells he's capable of casting without words? If not, we're probably looking at untransfiguring his glasses-air can't be transfigured, and his wand isn't touching anything else. Unless there's a range on transfiguration? He's only done it before on things his wand has been touching, but that doesn't make any sense-the effect isn't limited to a one molecule layer that's "actually touching" the wand, and when you look at the quantum structure of objects there isn't a hard line between "contact" and "not in contact" anyway! That would allow him to transfigure the ground his wand is pointing at. He'd need a weapon or device that was too small to be noticed-possibly nanites or nano-scale line? That could allow him to strike back at the Death Eaters and/or threaten to do so, and explaining secrets/arguing for his continued existence as an x-risk mitigator should give him enough time to do so.

Nanites might provide x-risk in their own right, which means that the Vow might not allow it, but if he could limit them enough (cannot replicate, or can't replicate beyond a few generations?) he might have a shot. Or transfigure the ground into a gas-Harry'd be affected too, but he only needs to avoid immediate death, and if he can get the Stone, otherwise-fatal transfiguration poisoning could be cured.

On the bright side, touching Voldemort with anything magical (and transfigured material should count!) will trigger the resonance, and the Death Eaters are nowhere nearly as formidable as their master. We don't know the exact rules on the resonance, but if the "stronger magic means stronger backlash" theory is correct Harry might be able to incapacitate Voldemort while remaining upright himself.

The main difficulty with this approach is that even though Harry might be able to trigger the resonance with a fairly innocuous gas (heck, just make a little more air!), the Death Eaters would presumably fire the moment their master was affected. Poisonous/soporific gas would work on the Eaters as well, but it would impact Harry too-is there a substance so fast-acting that he could simply hold his breath/keep exhaling while talking to Voldemort, and then everyone inhaling would be dropped? I don't know of any gas that fast-acting, but if one exists it might provide another solution.

To sum up:

Potential solutions that I can think of-

  1. Convince Voldemort to keep Harry on as an x-risk mitigator.
  2. Convince Voldemort that the prophecy refers to an apotheosis, rather than an apocalypse (seems unlike to work by itself, but might be useful in conjunction with 1.
  3. Buy time with secrets/attempts to use 1 or 2; transfigure the ground into a weapon (gas, monofiliment line, nanites?) If the line is used, some form of guiding nanites may be required; alternatively, transfigure the line extending into Voldemort/the Death Eaters.
  4. Untransfigure glasses. Do we know what was transfigured to make the glasses to begin with? Could it be a useful countermeasure?

Non-HPMOR related note-I found organizing my thoughts far easier while typing this than while trying to figure solutions out before. Has anyone else noticed a writing makes thinking easier effect, and could this be a useful technique?

comment by lerjj · 2015-03-02T17:27:03.166Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay, so far as I can see, this is a relatively new avenue of attack, but I haven't got a clear idea yet.

Firstly, assuming Harry can tell LV about some power he knows not (does simple knowledge count as a power? Harry could explain calculus or imaginary numbers real quick...), who do we save? One presumably banned option is to ask for Harry Potter (or Tom M. Riddle) to be saved. Who else is there? Obvious suggestions like Mad-Eye, McGonagall and others don't actually help Harry in his present situation as far as I can tell. Dumbledore?

Secondly, is there any traction in playing the fact that Harry Potter is... well, not the character we're calling Harry Potter? In Ch. 74 'Harry' actually summons Harry Potter (the fake ritual). I suppose the fact that Dr. Seuss wrote some of it means that it was indeed a fake ritual, so we'll call this this thread's crackpot theory. A similar theme is whether by being Tom Riddle, Harry can enter the horcrux system. I put very low odds on him being able to defeat LV from there, but he might be able to reincarnate in a more powerful wizard at least.

Thirdly, we have powers LV knows not. Partial transfiguration... well a number of suggestions have already been suggested involving this so I'll leave it. I will mention that the fact time-turners are safe seems to imply that anti-matter based ideas simply won't work for some unknown reason, but diamond bullets seem reasonable if you can find transfiguration material such as your own skin / Hufflepuff bones.

Any thoughts on this? How much of this (other than the horcrux thing) has already been mentioned?

comment by shminux · 2015-03-02T05:21:29.553Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Has the 26-hour day been explained yet?

Replies from: fezziwig
comment by fezziwig · 2015-03-02T05:40:37.277Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Somewhat off-kilter way to get the Time Turner into the story? Does it need more explanation than that?

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2015-03-02T05:48:18.750Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That would be too clumsy for Eliezer.

Replies from: TylerJay
comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-02T18:25:26.149Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer himself has a 24.5 hr sleep cycle. I think it was just that and a way to get a time turner

comment by Scott Garrabrant · 2015-03-01T20:32:13.068Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Retracted because I accidentally posted twice.

Here is my tentative submission to FF.net. Please comment.

I decline to help Harry out of the box.

Harry no longer has Harry-values; he has unbreakable-vow-values. He is smart, and he will do whatever he can to "not destroy the world." In the process maximizing the probability of "not destroying the world," he will likely destroy the world.

If you would allow me, I would like to appeal to Voldemort's rationality and cast Avada Kedavra on Harry before he says or does anything.

I do not think I will be able to stop other people from getting Harry out of the box. I expected people to believe me when I tried to explain why we should not let Harry out of the box. They did not. It was frustrating. You have taught me a valuable lesson about what it is like to be an FAI researcher. Thank you.

comment by wiserd · 2015-02-28T22:56:20.845Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's my idea, which I've posted as a review on FF.net. Harry has advanced transfiguration. The Philosopher's Stone can make transfiguration permanent. Harry can bring life to dead things. This is very close to Harry being able to create copies of himself, which would surely be attractive to Harry. The question, then, is; when did Harry first realize this capacity?The possibility of creating a body double might very well have been enough to have persuaded Dumbledore to let Harry use the Philosopher's stone, which he seems to have access to. Or Harry might have procured the stone himself, which he seems able to, intellectually. It's just a matter of procuring a confundus charm. The current Harry could have been memory-charmed into believing he was the original Harry and this ruse may have gone on for quite some time (though reviving Hermione would have made it obvious that he had this power, and I'm not sure if Harry would have demured to do so if he thought he could. I suspect he'd have to be persuaded by someone else.) It might help in explaining why Harry could attack Voldemort, since Voldemort's curse bound only Tom Riddles "descended from him", and the current double would have been "descended" from Harry.

In this case our Harry could be destroyed and another Harry would still live (and could even play off his surviving destruction as a type of magic, snapping his fingers.) Similarly, could Harry sacrifice one of his doubles to create a horcrux and then inhabit a spare transfigured body, laying in stasis somewhere (like his bag of holding?) This seems a bit dark for Harry, but maybe possible.

I'm not sure what the limitations on this type of duplication magic would be. Perhaps multiple Harrys would need to be created 'from hit points' and even if one Harry could make another they might each be weaker or draw on the original Harry's HPs. But an army of Harry Potters striding over the hill wouldn't be a bad solution to this problem. Chaos Army of One. etc.

comment by Sergej_Shegurin · 2015-03-02T16:23:27.766Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would execute a magical script programmed in advance. You think about script's number and it implements many magical actions for example paralising anyone except Harry faster than anyone makes a move or even understands anything.

comment by Bugmaster · 2015-02-28T20:33:11.955Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Disappointing. It appears as though Eliezer wrote himself into a corner, and is now looking for help from the readers...

Replies from: dxu, skeptical_lurker, Sheaman3773, solipsist
comment by dxu · 2015-02-28T20:34:41.554Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is an extremely uncharitable reading of Eliezer's intent. Remember, he did the same thing with "Three Worlds Collide", and in Chapter 9 of HPMoR, and in Chapter 81 of HPMoR. Would you say he wrote himself into a corner in all those places as well?

Replies from: Bugmaster
comment by Bugmaster · 2015-02-28T20:42:55.783Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I only read 3WC after the fact, so I can't comment on that one. But I don't recall him saying "...solve this problem or you get the bad ending" in he previous HPMoR chapters...

Replies from: Eugene, dxu
comment by Eugene · 2015-02-28T21:53:10.377Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I only read 3WC after the fact, so I can't comment on that one.

Yes you can. Simply look at the time stamps for each post and do simple math. By making the assumption that only "people who were there" can answer correctly, you're giving up solving your own problem before even trying.

comment by dxu · 2015-02-28T20:47:42.236Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, yes, because those chapters weren't anywhere close to the ending. (Though, if I recall correctly, he did say that whoever guessed the answer to Chapter 9 would be told the entire rest of the plot, which isn't quite the same as "earn your happy ending", but it's similar.)

Still, that notwithstanding, do you honestly think Eliezer is doing this because, of all things, he ran out of ideas? That seems... somewhat unlikely to me, given his previous track record.

(Of course, Poe's Law is in full effect on this one, and if you were in fact joking in your original comment, then I apologize for any misunderstanding.)

Replies from: Bugmaster
comment by Bugmaster · 2015-02-28T20:52:25.225Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I was serious, sorry. But, seeing as I believe that Eliezer is human like the rest of us, I think it's entirely plausible that he ran out of ideas (or, at least, out of good ideas) -- kind of analogous to writing a program so clever that the author cannot debug it...

Replies from: dxu
comment by dxu · 2015-02-28T20:56:21.160Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

True, but seeing as he has stated that he had the entire plot planned out from the beginning, for him to have run out of ideas would require him to have been actively lying to us.

Replies from: Bugmaster
comment by Bugmaster · 2015-02-28T22:35:45.867Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure what "having the entire plot planned out from the beginning" really means, though. Eliezer ends up retconning things relatively frequently, so I wouldn't be surprised if he had a plot point like "Voldemort captures Harry" followed by "Harry escapes", but with too few details in between to make the logic ironclad.

If HPMoR was a conventional book, then Eliezer would have a lot of time to edit it and make all the retcons behind the scenes -- even fairly major ones -- but it isn't, so he can't.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-02-28T20:35:46.295Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Except that the next chapter will be published 2 hours after the deadline

Replies from: Macaulay
comment by Macaulay · 2015-02-28T21:31:49.887Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ten hours after the deadline.

comment by Sheaman3773 · 2015-02-28T20:39:07.082Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you not remember the Courtroom, where something similar to this was done?

People speculated at the time that it was a practice run for something later. It looks like they were right.

comment by solipsist · 2015-02-28T20:35:21.802Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That would be so awesome!