Comic 925 - Ask the tradesmen more questions

Posted on 11th Apr 2018, 11:03 PM in Shipping Off to Southden
Ask the tradesmen more questions

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 11th Apr 2018, 11:03 PM edit delete
"To clarify our pricing somewhat, so as to better enable your decisions as a potential customer..." the tradesmen begin, "some of what we ask for is not necessarily valuable on its own. Emotional attachment, however, is something that not all species can manufacture--even some humans have difficulty doing so. Some of our prices may sound oddly specific, but they are valuable specifically because of their personal meaning to you. In other cases, the cost helps keep a balance--not all resources are physical. One of our limitations is that we cannot tell you in too thorough of terms why we list something or someone as a cost, or what will happen to them after the deal is struck."

You ask if there are parts of Lasker still existing outside of Bunker B.

"We will answer this question in exchange for one flower from your facility on Mars."

...That's it? One flower? That's all...?

"To clarify, yes. One flower. This is a question you almost certainly will find an answer for on your own, eventually, and the answer with little context hardly tips the balance at all."

You ask how to destroy Lasker.

"You already know the answer to this question, do you not? It is in the question. Destroy him. Utterly. Completely. Leave nothing to grow back."

Rather than asking what Thale's doing with the tunnels, you ask how to prevent what he's doing with the tunnels.

"25% of your current volume of blood. We request that in exchange for the answer. We will take it evenly and safely to prevent any negative side effects, outside those normally associated with donating 25% of your blood. This will not be a permanent alteration like the one with your eye would be--you can replace the blood at your leisure."

You ask for the code to whichever bunker would give you the best resources. ...Or would help you develop new abilities. You narrow it down, more specifically, to whichever bunker would aid your survival the most.

"In exchange for the answer to this question, we request your personal collection of stuffed animals... the ones that you have been amassing since your childhood."

...That they CAN answer this one, but couldn't answer the first version of it (what would be most useful), makes you wonder. You ask for the code to whichever bunker would best assist you in defeating Thale.

"In exchange for that information, we would alter the situation. It is... a very powerful question. If we give you that code, in exchange, Thale will become aware of your bunker entrances, their locations, and the current locations of your allies outside the bunker."

You ask if anyone else has asked the tradesmen about you, besides Pierce's old cult.

"We will give you this information in exchange for more information. Answer us this: how did you obtain the ritual to contact us?"

You start to ask if there's any questions you should be asking, or any that they want you to ask, but--

"Incidentally, we cannot prompt you for any questions in particular. That is one of our limitations. We don't prefer any questions over others, we're simply pleased that you are asking questions at all."


Gitaxian 11th Apr 2018, 11:40 PM edit delete reply
Trade the daisy for information on Lasker. It's effectively no cost and saves us a bit of time.
Twyll 11th Apr 2018, 11:40 PM edit delete reply
Well, let's definitely trade the flower, then.

I suspect that trading the blood is also fine, since we will be able to get more material from the red using our hand trick, which we can convert into more blood. Granted, that means the Tradesmen also will have a stock of our blood, and might start offering it to others in future trades... but it might be worth it, as I imagine they'd ask a very high price of whoever would want to buy our blood, and that would probably help us. We should ask our friends about that one, see what they have to say.

I don't know if I can give up the stuffed animals though ;_; I'm... I'm very attached to my stuffed animals so I'd hate to ask Jane to give up hers... Maybe for the sake of saving the world, though... Maybe if our friends will help us get new ones?

We definitely don't want Thale knowing about the bunkers; but it's very good to know that there's something in one of the bunkers that is capable of doing *that much* damage to Thale, if the question requires that high a price. That tells me that we should start doing extra work on finding more bunker codes. Maybe Fuse can hijack some computers to crunch more numbers for us?

I think we can justify telling them how we acquired their ritual-- we took something we should not have had to a place we should not have been, and someone we should not have met told us.

Well, we're glad they enjoy us asking questions, cuz we have A LOT of them.
Swagner 11th Apr 2018, 11:50 PM edit delete reply
I think those are all (excluding the Thale one) "safe" trades. Including the stuffed animals, honestly. That one will hurt, but they're more replacable than the people whose survival we'd be aiding.
undeadDreamer 11th Apr 2018, 11:43 PM edit delete reply
Definitely do the flower and blood deals. For the ritual to contact them deal tell them a version of you that never existed told you. If that's not enough then tough beans. No telling on the library.
Eternity 12th Apr 2018, 1:06 AM edit delete reply
LytharWolfe 11th Apr 2018, 11:45 PM edit delete reply
Do they know and/or trust Nil in any way?
Twyll 11th Apr 2018, 11:46 PM edit delete reply
Yes, that was part of my question that didn't get picked up in the last update (which is understandable, it was a lot of text XD): I'd like to know how they work with Nil without being subject to Nil's effects. We know that they DO work with Nil because one of the spells in Geoangular Control mentions that Nil is the one who makes it happen, and the Tradesmen mediate the deal.
Crestlinger 11th Apr 2018, 11:48 PM edit delete reply
Pegged what this is Exactly:
Katara's fortune grilling of Aunt Wu from avatar.
Work It!
Leafia_Barrett 11th Apr 2018, 11:51 PM edit delete reply
Question 1: Accept the cost, obviously.
Question 2: N/A
Question 3: Accept the cost. We can handle it.
Question 4: I... ah... hm. Let's shelve that one for now - we'll discuss it and come back to it shortly.
Question 5: Oof. Nope nope nope nope NOPE. Decline that one immediately.
Question 6: Accept the cost. Provide the instructions we were given - "We took the book we shouldn't have to the place that shouldn't exist to learn the spell we shouldn't know" - but offer to elaborate if they want us to.
Question 7: Fair enough. It was worth a try.
lil Joshu 12th Apr 2018, 2:00 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
No to Question 6: Tradesman trade. If we trade out information, they may trade it to others, and we don't want to tip the hand of our most powerful "Hey, I'm neutral, really I am" ally to date.
Portal In Time 11th Apr 2018, 11:56 PM edit delete reply
Portal In Time
Trade the blood, the flower, and the answer to the question. Those, we can afford. But I'd like to leave out the specifics of how we entered the error room, unless they are completely incapable of preventing this again.
psychoshen 11th Apr 2018, 11:57 PM edit delete reply
1. Flower, yes
2. Blood, yes (start generating more blood as soon as they begin their draw)
3. Stuffed animals (leaning towards yes, increasing our ability to survive should be worth a piece of our past, but I'd like to hear Jane's level of attachment, rather than assigning my own)
4. Bunker and ally info, NO NO NO. No. Thanks.
5. Ritual info, I'm saying no on this. The same way we get info based on their responses, they will at the very least find out we have access to one of the following:
People that don't exist
Places that don't exist
Events that don't exist
Things that don't exist / we don't have

(copied from the previous update, since I dropped these in too close to this update)
I'd like to follow up with a few more questions:
Is Edison redeemable within a normal human lifetime?
Did our mother consider our father a part of herself?
Which head of the Many is the psychic one?
What is on the far end of the Mars railway?
Is Macland safe enough from Nil?
Is there a way currently available to us to test for the presence of Thale's blood?
Akasha 12th Apr 2018, 12:05 AM edit delete reply
I've no objections to trading a Mars flower and 25% of our current volume of blood. Besides, the latter just gives us an excuse to enjoy some nice snacks after this whole info trading business is done with for today.

The stuffed animals I'm a bit iffy on, if only because I'd feel bad for having Jane give them up. Really, Twyll summed my thoughts up on this already. As far as I'm concerned that's a 'let me think on this'.

Giving up the secrecy of our bunkers is a hard no, though. Like, as nice as it is to know there's definitely something in 'em that we can use to fuck up Thale, I'd rather not have our cover blown. Either way, I also agree with trying to get some more comps for Fuse to use in helping to accelerated the code-cracking process.

As for the info-for-info trade... Well, we can just honestly say that we got it from the error room, yeah? That's simple enough.

Though while we're asking questions, here's a simple one that I don't think we've had a conclusive answer to: "Are tinfoil hats a sufficient defense against The Many's ability to control people?", along with a followup asking what is effective if we happen to learn that it isn't.

Other questions that have come to mind:
How many active bunkers are there that can only be accessed by unconventional means?
What are the codes for accessing the other keycard terminals?
Is it safe to crack open that metal crate we have put in the Mars bunker?
And for that matter, how do we even open that box, anyways?
Guost 12th Apr 2018, 12:11 AM edit delete reply
'm on the fence about the blood deal. It sounds safe at first, but remember the tradesmen deal in more than just information. If a sample of our blood is in their possession they can potentially trade it, in turn, to someone else. That hypothetical someone might study it well enough to do the same thing Zone Fifty did with the Mars blood and we could have another Thale on our hands, maybe even someone worse.
Blue_Elite 12th Apr 2018, 1:05 AM edit delete reply
Remember that, "There are, at all times, wars ensuing." As part of all deals with The Tradesmen include maintaining a balance, anyone that'd benefit from our blood as much as Thale would would pay a very, very high price for it (probably enough to cripple them permanently like the 1-eye deal we got).
It may end up just going to some strange alien that likes to collect the blood/icor of eldritch gods like someone collecting art.
Fishbulb 12th Apr 2018, 12:12 AM edit delete reply
Ask how many Zone 50 facilities there are in total, whether there is a master list of those bunkers and if so, where it could be found.
Gitaxian 12th Apr 2018, 12:13 AM edit delete reply
We should ask about Thale's location. Not because I expect us to be willing to pay the price, but because how much the price is will tell us a lot about how we should go about attacking Thale.
Guest 12th Apr 2018, 12:18 AM edit delete reply
Careful on answering the question... I feel like that could have some consequences.

Before giving up the blood (the blood), maybe ask if the tradesmen are capable of obtaining your blood without your consent... If Thale knows enough to ask for it, you don't want to give up a supply to study... but if providing the blood doesn't give the Tradesmen access they don't have (i.e. it's about personal cost and not the trade material) then that's different.
Memo 12th Apr 2018, 12:21 AM edit delete reply
I agree to trade the flower and the info about how we learned the ritual.
A bit on the fence with the blood, as loosing 25% of your blood would kill a normal person, it's bound to be a inconvenience for us.
Maybe trade that last.
I say no to the other trades.
undeadDreamer 12th Apr 2018, 12:32 AM edit delete reply
What's in the metal box?

What happens if we blood Thale?
Blue_Elite 12th Apr 2018, 12:45 AM edit delete reply
Lasker Info: Yes, with how nice The Tradesmen have been about this whole exchange, I'd be fine with this deal. Even if the info is more-or-less useless, I feel it's a good way enforce the business relationship.
Prevent Tunnels: Yes. This may also be a good learning experience: I can't remember the exact line, but I recall part of the reason for our control was, "We have more of our blood inside us than others have in them." After this trade we should test animal control and blood levitation and the like; see if it's harder to do or requires more concentration.
EDIT: "I believe you have control of anyone with your blood because you have a majority of your blood. Obviously. It's your blood."
Survival Bunker: Yes, and here's why: the price is in part dependant on actual value (relative to The Tradesmen) and part balance. Right now, we don't need that bunker and so the price is relatively affordable. If one of Thale's plans goes off (and I'm guessing part of the reason for that 25% blood cost is the tunnel plan is about to go off and the balancing part is we won't be able to use blood abilities when it does), the price for that bunker info will probably inflate dramatically.
I feel this is necessary to hedge our bets. We can go with the keep a cat in the bunker plan to fill the emotional hole this'll create (just remember to make sure that, "Don't attack Willard," command is in place; same for Bab' Red).
Defeat Thale Bunker: I interpret this as, "You'll go into arms-race mode with Thale. Either you get to the bunker and use what's there to beat him, or he'll swiftly crush you and all resistance to his grand scheme." I'ma say no for 2 reasons: 1. We will almost certainly lose all our non-bunker allies to Thale in the ensuing race; even if we beat him in the end. 2. It'd be less narratively impressive to beat Thale that way. Sorta a, "Rocks fall, everyone dies," sorta ending. We don't want that. :P
Who's Askin'?: I really, really do not want to do anything at all to risk jeopardizing The Library. Xe broke multiple rules, from what I understand, to help us (and 1 more rule to get us the info that got us access to The Trademen in the first place). Anything that might lead to The Tradesmen figuring out what xe did and punish xem is a definite no-no.
Besides, I really don't think the info is worth it anyway. We'd just be confirming paranoia without being able to do anything about it (unless we want to ask how to get people/beings to STOP asking the Tradesmen about us).
EDIT: Or to put it in more practical terms - ask if we can pay The Tradesmen a hush fee so that anyone asking about us will have to pay the standard price The Tradesmen ask of them PLUS our hush fee to dissuade them from doing so.
Kamalia 12th Apr 2018, 1:01 AM edit delete reply
Consider that part of the cost of giving up the stuffed animal collection is the danger of going back to the house to retrieve them... it's kind of spooky over there right now...