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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 28, chapter 99-101

6 Post author: palladias 12 December 2013 05:10AM

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 99, 100, and 101The previous thread is at nearly 500 comments. 

There is now 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.) 

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.

Also: 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12,  13,  1415,  16,  17,  18,  19,  20,  21,  22,  23,  24,  252627

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Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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

Comments (355)

Comment author: palladias 12 December 2013 05:25:25AM *  33 points [-]

"Tell me, son of Lily, do the Muggles in their wisdom say that soon the skies will be empty?"

Interesting tie-in to:


So the centaur and Trelawney seem to be reading from the same playbook. Any guesses to who the centaur approached sixteen years ago and what lines he crossed? Seems like a plausible time to be Lily, no? Could possibly be the payoff to this from Chapter 1:

"...And I begged her to use some of that magic on me so that I could be pretty too, even if I couldn’t have her magic, at least I could be pretty.”
Tears were gathering in Petunia’s eyes.
“And Lily would tell me no, and make up the most ridiculous excuses, like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to – the most ridiculous things, and I hated her for it."

Comment author: Khoth 12 December 2013 08:44:44AM *  18 points [-]

the world would end if she were nice to her sister

Plausible, if her being nicer to her sister is why Harry got the upbringing he did instead of the canon one.

Comment author: jkaufman 13 December 2013 12:27:36PM 12 points [-]

Via: "Lily is nice to Petunia" -> "Lily makes Petunia prettier" -> "Petunia ends up with Michael and not Vernon" -> "Harry learns science instead of ptsd".

Comment author: ygert 12 December 2013 12:23:06PM 8 points [-]

This seems to be the case. It all ties together to nicely not to be. Sixteen years ago, Firenze (I assume that is who the centaur is, from his views and attitudes) told Lilly that "the world would end if she were nice to her sister", based on the same prophecy based on which he tried to kill Harry: One that was similar to the one Trelawney made.

Remember also the twice-repeated wave of prophecies over the world, despite the fact that we are told that disturbances in time are never enough to cause more than a single prophecy. It would make sense that if any prophacy could be of such import, it would be one about the end of the world.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 12 December 2013 11:08:42AM *  15 points [-]

“There is nothing above the folly of men,” whispered the voice from the emptiness. “There is nothing beyond the destructive powers of sufficiently intelligent idiocy, not even the stars themselves.

“The Sun is very large, after all; I doubt the Dementor would have much effect on it. But it is not a test I would like to try, Mr. Potter, just in case.”

“Is the Sun still in the sky?” said Professor Quirrell, still with that strange gentleness. “Is it still shining? Are you still alive?”

The destruction of the sun is a recurrent theme with Quirrell.

Comment author: EricSlusser 13 December 2013 12:25:19AM 10 points [-]

"...The stars themselves proclaim your innocence, ironically enough."

Comment author: drnickbone 13 December 2013 04:49:13PM 4 points [-]

What puzzles me about this:

  • The centaur foresees that Harry is "the end of the world"
  • Quirrell has also heard that Harry is"the end of the world"
  • Quirrell is really afraid of this (it's the only credible threat to all his horcruxes)
  • The centaur is conveniently about to kill Harry

But then Quirrell saves Harry's life. Why?

Is the only reason because Quirrell has already seen future Harry in Chapter 100 (under the cloak), so knows that Harry has to make it out alive somehow, so he might as well do the saving?

Comment author: kilobug 13 December 2013 05:35:35PM 13 points [-]

If Quirrell wanted Harry dead, he would kill him. Even without being able to use magic against him directly, there are plenty of ways for him to do it.

I think Quirrell still wants or hopes something from Harry. Maybe it's just that Harry needs to be still alive for the "blood, bones, flesh" rituals, but I think it's something much more specific, linked to Harry's dark side and why their magic can't interact.

Comment author: Tedav 24 February 2014 04:24:17PM *  2 points [-]

Personally, I think Quirrell killed Hermione, in the hopes of getting Harry to actually figure out how to defeat death - something no one else has ever done.

The reason he was happy when he heard the prediction that Harry would break the Universe is that this was near-confirmation that Harry would be successful.

In short, here is my version of Quirrell's plan:

1) For deniability reasons, be anti-resurrection from the start, and horribly worried about what Harry will do - tell Harry this

2) Kill someone Harry won't allow to stay dead (Hermione)

3) Become convinced by Harry to help with the plan - provide magic knowledge he doesn't have access to on his own

4) Use any means necessary (Unicorn blood) to stay alive until Harry is close to success

5) Harry is now the solution to whatever is slowly killing you

Comment author: drnickbone 13 December 2013 07:14:32PM *  2 points [-]

If Quirrell wanted Harry dead, he would kill him.

Not strictly true: if Quirrell both wanted Harry dead and was able to kill him then he would kill him.

It seems to me we have to consider two hypotheses, each of which is problematic:.

  1. Quirrell can't kill Harry
  2. Quirrell can kill Harry, but Harry is so supremely valuable that Quirrell is willing to risk the destruction of the whole universe (including himself, and all his horcruxes) to keep Harry alive.

Both hypotheses contain a puzzle. If Quirrell is unable to kill Harry, why is that? (One guess: his offering to spare Harry in exchange for Lily's life created a binding dark ritual, and Quirrell can't get out of it.) Alternatively, if Quirrell is able to kill Harry, what exactly makes Harry so supremely valuable? Using Harry in a resurrection ritual, or as a puppet ruler of magical Britain, don't seem to be high enough value when measured against the risk, do they?

My initial thought was that Chapter 101 provides evidence against 1 and in favour of 2: if Quirrell's problem is an inability to kill Harry, then Quirrell could just let the centaur do the job instead. But then, the Time-Turner evidence means that Quirrell already knows that the centaur's attempt will fail anyway, so he might as well stop it himself (and stay in Harry's favour). I still don't think we can rule out hypothesis 1.

Comment author: bramflakes 13 December 2013 07:24:38PM *  1 point [-]

Quirrell said he considered killing Harry at some point, so there are 3 possibilities: 1) he's lying, 2) there is a dark binding ritual that he doesn't know about, or 3) there is no dark ritual. Considering his knowledge of dark rituals we can rule out number 2, and since there isn't a clear reason why he'd tell this specific lie, I'm going to go with 3.

If Quirrell doesn't want Harry dead then obviously he'd stop the Centaur, and if he does want Harry dead, he wants to do it on his own terms, with nothing left to chance and no loose ends, so again he'd stop the Centaur.

Comment author: linkhyrule5 14 December 2013 01:25:40AM 2 points [-]

Or 4) He considered it, and discarded it because of a dark binding ritual.

Comment author: drnickbone 13 December 2013 07:34:31PM 2 points [-]

Quirrell might have been referring to his initial plan (as Voldemort) to end Harry's life back when Harry was a baby. Quirrell/Voldemort could not have known about a dark ritual then, because he hadn't created it.

I still don't think the "dark ritual" hypothesis is very strong, because I can't see why Quirrell would have done it deliberately, so it happened accidentally. It's not clear whether "accidental" dark rituals are even possible in the HPMor universe, but if they are, Quirrell ought to be more careful to avoid them.

Comment author: Gurkenglas 14 December 2013 10:58:38PM *  2 points [-]

We have an outcome pump on our hands that says that Harry is going to tear apart the stars. He can do that for better or worse reasons, and with a better or worse outcome. Quirrel thinks that a Harry that isn't crippled by a centaur (since Quirrel already knows Harry won't die) has a better chance of producing a good outcome than another Harry.

Remember that he offered in chapter 95 to read some of his science books and speaking of what comes to mind (...about a month ago. Why isn't Harry omnipotent yet? When I read that Quirrel's suggestion, I thought the rest of the story would have to be squeezed in the time it takes Quirrel to regain sentience.)

Comment author: shokwave 17 December 2013 12:55:12PM 1 point [-]

It seems plausible that Quirrel read the science books and isn't going to tell Harry anything reality-breaking, since he did a similar thing with the library - after telling Harry that Memory Charms are just filed under M, he says he's going to put some of his own special wards on the restricted section.

Comment author: Dentin 19 December 2013 05:47:43AM 1 point [-]

It could always be possible that Quirrel's "special wards" happen to let Harry through more easily, or allow Harry to browse the section more covertly, though I'd put odds of that fairly low given his mention of the situation to Minerva.

Comment author: Decius 16 December 2013 08:43:37AM 1 point [-]

If Quirrell can't solve the problem of future Harry seeing and hearing someone that he thinks looks and sounds like himself, he isn't the dark wizard we deserve.

Comment author: iceman 13 December 2013 04:36:01AM *  25 points [-]

Premise: Quirrell plays the game one level higher than Harry Potter.

Observation: This entire incident is uncharacteristically sloppy. Why were the unicorn corpses found? Why was Quirrell discovered?

Observation: Harry Potter is now really pissed off that herds of unicorns to slay aren't standard procedure for stable-izing people with life threatening injuries. He has just been given another "if only" to fixate on. It has been brought to his attention in ways that wouldn't trip his "why am I being told this" sense.

Father had told Draco that to fathom a strange plot, one technique was to look at what ended up happening, assume it was the intended result, and ask who benefited.

Hypothesis: Reminding Harry that there were ways the wizarding world could have saved Hermione was the primary effect. Possible secondary effects may include impressing on Harry just how ridiculously powerful he is. Perhaps implanting the desire to save Quirrell into Harry's mind? Quirrell may not actually need the blood right now, though I suspect it doesn't hurt.

Comment author: Desrtopa 13 December 2013 03:21:31PM 3 points [-]

I don't think knowing that unicorn blood has uses which may not be properly exploited by wizarding society changes his opinion of wizarding society much anyway. It's kind of a straw on a logpile.

I think it's more likely that Quirrell's planned reveal to Harry was his impending mortality (which, considering the horcruxes and the spell which can restore him to his original state, is probably not so unavoidable as he implied.)

Comment author: Velorien 13 December 2013 03:48:59PM 7 points [-]

(which, considering the horcruxes and the spell which can restore him to his original state, is probably not so unavoidable as he implied.)

While he's certainly determined to make Harry believe he's going to die ("this is the last time I will be able to do this for you"), it is likely he is lying for a couple of additional reasons. The man obsessed with not dying, prepared to tear his very soul to shreds to stay alive, has

a) been trying to prevent Harry from seeking a way to bring back the dead, and

b) been doing so purely as part of an effort to save the world - which he has no reason to care about unless he expects to remain in it.

Comment author: pjeby 14 December 2013 07:18:26AM 1 point [-]

Harry Potter is now really pissed off that herds of unicorns to slay aren't standard procedure for stable-izing people with life threatening injuries

I don't think unicorns are actually kept in stables, despite their horse-like anatomy. ;-)

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 December 2013 10:04:08PM 1 point [-]

Hypothesis: Reminding Harry that there were ways the wizarding world could have saved Hermione was the primary effect.

Hermione was dead before she could have killed a unicorn and drank it's blood.

Comment author: kilobug 13 December 2013 11:13:28PM 1 point [-]

Depends exactly how it works. Is someone dead when the heart is stopped, but can still be restarted ? What happens if someone is forced fed unicorn blood (and the unicorn dies in the process) just after cardiac arrest, but when no damage is done to the brain yet ?

Comment author: jaime2000 13 December 2013 07:13:03AM *  14 points [-]

A nausea was in his stomach, a churning sensation that, looking back in memory, seemed both like and unlike a sense of guilt, as though it had the sensations but not quite all of the emotion.

Heh, so Quirrell doesn't know what guilt feels like.

Centaur spears can block many spells, but no one tries to block if they see that the spell is a certain shade of green. For this purpose it is useful to know some green stunning hexes.

This reminds me, if you can make a homing version of the stunning spell, can you make a homing version of the killing curse? Sounds like that would be useful.

The chapter endings for 100 and 101 are a little odd. They stop very abruptly, specially 101. Usually you would get an extra sentence or paragraph to give the chapter a sense of closure.

The reason Quirell and Harry cannot interact magically is supposed to be so Quirrell cannot read harry's mind, memory charm him, confound him, or outright imperio him. But this feels a little weak to me. What's stopping Quirrell from threatening, bribing, tricking, imperiousing, etc... a third party to do it on his behalf?

Comment author: SyncHole 14 December 2013 03:53:28AM 13 points [-]

And if the homing version of "Stupify" is "Stuporfy," how ridiculously twisted would AK get? "Averder Kerderber?"

Comment author: shminux 14 December 2013 08:58:17AM 22 points [-]

Abracadabra, surely.

Comment author: Argency 14 December 2013 03:24:29PM *  3 points [-]

Centaur spears can block many spells, but no one tries to block if they see that the spell is a certain shade of green. For this purpose it is useful to know some green stunning hexes.

At no point does Quirrell say "I just used such a spell on this centaur". I'm not ruling out that he killed the thing, and made an inferius in front of Harry. That would explain the unusually (?) sharp sense of doom that Harry felt when he "revived" it.

Also a possibility: memory charming a centaur is a lot harder, since they're only passingly similar to humans, so Quirrel had to draw more heavily on his magic, which in turn resulted in a sharper sense of doom.

Comment author: Velorien 14 December 2013 04:20:42PM 5 points [-]

At no point does Quirrell say "I just used such a spell on this centaur".

This doesn't matter very much, though, since we know Quirrell would not hesitate to utter a direct lie if it served his purposes.

Comment author: alex_zag_al 20 December 2013 05:39:51PM *  4 points [-]

Wow, it's amazing how obvious the Inferius seems now that you've said it.

I was reading another comment elsewhere on the page which claimed there must be some magical explanation for how Harry's managed to miss that Quirrell=Voldemort. And my first thought was, "yeah, he sat there with his wand on the centaur for a long time instead of just saying 'Innervate' and then 'Obliviate' and Harry still believed him". That actually seemed to me like an extraordinary thing that needed explaining.

But, then I remembered: I didn't think of it. I read this chapter days ago, I've been talking about it, theorizing, and *I didn't see it. And now it seems so obvious that I look for a supernatural explanation for why Harry didn't see it?

EDIT: As I brought up elsewhere, another reason Quirrell would be drawing heavily on his magic is to read Firenze's mind everything he knows about the future.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 31 December 2013 07:50:04PM 1 point [-]

The reason Quirell and Harry cannot interact magically is supposed to be so Quirrell cannot read harry's mind, memory charm him, confound him, or outright imperio him.

The reason for a fact of the HPMOR universe is narrative convenience for the author?

Maybe so, but I've been wondering if the in universe reason is that Harry is a time turned Quirrell.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 31 December 2013 08:03:41PM 1 point [-]

In canon, Harry and Voldemort have a complicated magical relationship due to two separate spells placed on Harry due to the events at Godrick's Hollow. Harry and Quirrell's connection in HPMoR appears to be a simplified version of that.

Comment author: Coscott 13 December 2013 08:13:30PM *  11 points [-]

Lets talk about chapter 99.

Chapter 99 was there for a reason. I think the most likely reason is to emphasize the 10 days later. Chapter 98 was April 20, and chapter 100 was May 13. For some reason EY wants the first attack to happen on April 30. This could be because QQ only needs to drink the blood every couple weeks. However, why not just make the first unicorn found on May 12 and have no chapter 99? This would make more sense. I would expect the forest to be searched immediately afterwords. This is empathized further in chapter 100:

Draco nodded; he distantly remembered hearing something along those lines a couple of weeks ago, toward the end of April.

Maybe the goal with this is to give some character a full 2 weeks to research unicorns or make a plan.

Other theories for chapter 99:

He wanted the reveal of the unicorn to fall under the Roles sequence for some reason.

He wanted to build suspense. (But then I would expect him to have posted 99 on Sunday and 100 on Wed.)

He wants chapter 99 to be written in passive voice to hide the identity of the person who "found" the unicorn.

Comment author: Benito 13 December 2013 09:55:56PM 10 points [-]

I think that the fact that chapter 99 falls into the 'roles - aftermath' title, indicates it's relatedness. This is the consequence of the roles arc, somehow - perhaps this is Quirrell's response to the new regulations, whyever that might be.

Comment author: Coscott 13 December 2013 10:10:06PM 2 points [-]

I didn't think of that. I think that is more likely than my hypothesis. EY is telling us that the unicorn attack is a consequence of the roles arc.

Comment author: Fermatastheorem 15 December 2013 04:28:46AM 6 points [-]

Or he's telling us that Quirrell is playing the role of someone who is on the verge of dying.

Comment author: wwa 22 December 2013 02:41:07PM 9 points [-]

The Severing Charm wouldn't bring down a tree, so he'd started partially Transfiguring cross-sections through the wood.

Quirell saw that. Partial transfiguration is not the power the dark lord knows not.

Comment author: TobyBartels 12 December 2013 12:14:23PM *  8 points [-]

Eliezer: I got the math joke.

Explanation and implementation (spoiler if you haven't spotted the joke yet): http://tinyurl.com/hpmor100mathjoke

(But this only covers the first half of the joke; I had not heard of the second half before!)

Comment author: Subbak 12 December 2013 02:59:16PM 8 points [-]

If you want to play with a (rather tame, since it doesn't always use its regeneration powers) Bucholz Hydra, here's a link for you: http://www.madore.org/~david/math/hydra.xhtml

For my part, I knew about hydra games and had forgotten the name, but the context made it fairly obvious that this was a joke about the hydra being so hard to kill that you can't prove you do it with only Peano arithmetic.

Comment author: loup-vaillant 12 December 2013 11:04:02PM 6 points [-]

I have defeated the hydra! (I had to cut off 670 heads). Feels like playing Diablo.

Comment author: NoahTheDuke 15 December 2013 01:00:54AM 3 points [-]

670? Lucky. I finally bested it after 1750-ish, yesterday. Once I hit 1000, I thought, "Why am I doing this? What am I proving?" and then I started clicking again.

Comment author: Vulture 17 December 2013 10:42:12PM *  2 points [-]

1750? I forced myself to give up and get back to work somewhere around the 6500 mark.

(I had decided, somewhere around 1000 or so, to try out the strategy of preferring to cut normal rather than dire heads when possible. Maybe that's a bad idea)

Comment author: NoahTheDuke 17 December 2013 11:01:17PM 1 point [-]

I worked top-to-bottom, without change. If a new branch grew higher than my previous cuts, I focused it immediately. I know there's an optimal way, but I'm not quite clever enough to think of it.

Comment author: Vulture 18 December 2013 12:15:34AM *  2 points [-]

Well, for this applet the optimal strategy might depend heavily on how exactly its tameness is executed, which isn't very enlightening.

Edit: Derp, I tried out top-to-bottom and got it in 572. Definitely better than left-to-right or normals-first-ltr.

Comment author: ygert 12 December 2013 12:28:01PM 2 points [-]

I got it too, and I think Eliezer was vastly under confident in his estimate of the number of people who would get it: We have a very mathy community around here.

In any case, I am glad Eliezer ended up including it. HPMOR is good enough to make me actually laugh out loud at least once every chapter, and the bit about the hydras was chapter 100's contribution.

Comment author: lmm 13 December 2013 06:41:16PM 4 points [-]

I found it jarring. Either the characters were making jokes at a very uncharacteristic time, or just saying things that make no sense; either way this derails them. It seems to be a general problem in fanfic.

Comment author: jaibot 12 December 2013 01:58:15PM 3 points [-]

Chapter 99?

Comment author: Unnamed 12 December 2013 05:15:21AM 8 points [-]

Reddit discussion of chp 99-101, which includes a few words from the author.

Comment author: CCC 13 December 2013 02:01:03PM 7 points [-]

Sooo... Quirrel knows a stunning hex that looks like Avadra Kevadra?

Then, back in Azkaban, facing that auror, when Quirrel used Avadra Kevadra in an attempt to force the auror to dodge, and Harry stopped it with his patronus...

...why did Quirrel not use the green stunner, unless Quirrel actually wanted to kill the auror?

And how long will it be until Harry asks that question?

Comment author: maia 13 December 2013 04:49:50PM 19 points [-]

As in this comment: Probably Quirrell is lying. When he realized Harry was upset about the centaur dying, he thought fast and Inferiused the centaur and made up the bit about green stunners.

IIRC, in canon Avada Kedavra has a distinctive color not shared by any other spell.

Comment author: CCC 15 December 2013 06:28:19AM 11 points [-]

If Quirrell is lying, then asking the question "Why not use the green stunner in other circumstances where Avadra Kevadra was used?" may lead to that lie being uncovered.

I admit I had not considered Inferius on the centaur. However, I rather suspect that Quirrell is priming Harry here; he does something (hitting a centaur with a green stunner) that looks evil, then demonstrates that it is less evil than it was. In the future, then, Harry will be more inclined to believe that Quirrell has done something less evil than it looks like he has done; he could, for example, use Avadra Kevadra on Dumbledore later (making it look like a green stunner to Harry) in circumstances where a green stunner would not be evil and then rely on Harry to prevent any immediate revenge against himself (long enough to portkey away at least).

Comment author: jkaufman 14 December 2013 01:48:32AM 4 points [-]

in canon Avada Kedavra has a distinctive color not shared by any other spell

On the other hand Quirrell, via the basilisk, has spells that are not shared with any other wizard.

Comment author: Velorien 16 December 2013 07:01:49PM 2 points [-]

Also, recall that Eliezer hasn't read all the HP books. We can't have 100% confidence that he is aware of any given fact that is true in canon.

Comment author: Muskwalker 17 February 2014 05:28:07AM 1 point [-]

IIRC, in canon Avada Kedavra has a distinctive color not shared by any other spell.

In MOR, though, "green light the exact shade of the Killing Curse" is a spell first-year Draco can cast (ch47).

Comment author: buybuydandavis 13 December 2013 02:22:13PM 5 points [-]

But an auror's shields might be able to block a green stunning hex, and might be able to tell the difference between the two hexes prior to that regardless.

Comment author: JGWeissman 15 December 2013 06:43:03AM 4 points [-]

Then, back in Azkaban, facing that auror, when Quirrel used Avadra Kevadra in an attempt to force the auror to dodge

What do you think you know about which spell Quirrell used, and how do you think you know it?

Comment author: Tenoke 13 December 2013 06:58:16PM 6 points [-]

Presumably, an Auror knows more about hexes than a centaur.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 December 2013 08:58:06PM 1 point [-]

Quirrel could have learned the spell after the endeavour. On the other hand Quirrell is probably lying.

Comment author: drethelin 12 December 2013 11:15:47AM 7 points [-]

We know Quirrel can't directly influence Harry with magic, but Bellatrix was broken out of Azkaban long ago and barely mentioned since. Has anyone noticed if harry is particularly more irrational/credulous in the chapters after this than he was before? Because Harry knows Quirrel can't mind-rape him he might be less suspicious than he should be of his mind being bent by Bellatrix to be less suspicious of Quirrel.

Comment author: gjm 12 December 2013 10:17:12PM 5 points [-]

We know Quirrel can't directly influence Harry with magic

We know Harry thinks that. We know Quirrell has let him go on believing it. We have some further evidence that it's true (e.g., the business with the AK in Azkaban) but it's hardly conclusive (e.g., because blocking an Avada Kedavra is an unusual enough thing that it might have weird consequences for reasons other than interaction between Quirrell's magic and Harry).

his mind being bent by Bellatrix to be less suspicious of Quirrel

Unless there was a lot of deception going on in the Azkaban section of the story, she wasn't in a great state to do anything so subtle the last time she and Harry were in the same place. If it can be done from a distance (which most magical things in canon HP and HPMOR alike apparently can't), why single out Bellatrix in particular? There are other powerful nasty wizards around.

Comment author: Desrtopa 13 December 2013 06:48:34AM 4 points [-]

It's worth keeping in mind that even if she's completely useless for any sort of mission, Bellatrix may still be useful to Quirrell, by providing materials for the spell to restore his original body. This was discussed shortly after she was broken out; the spell would be at its most effective if the ingredients used were the most powerful of their kind; not merely the flesh of a servant, but the most faithful servant, and so on.

No matter how much the story diverges from the original HP canon, it's still an option for characters to do the same things they did in the original, as demonstrated by Quirrell in the last couple of chapters.

MoR Riddle still made his horcruxes, and he didn't do it for nothing.

Comment author: Ishaan 12 December 2013 10:13:10PM *  16 points [-]

Why did Quirrell allow the unicorn corpses to be found? Why didn't he dispose of the corpse by making it disappear, instead of trying to pass it off as a predator? Would anyone notice if a unicorn vanished without leaving a corpse? ( I suppose they might, since they're medically valuable, but since unicorns are known not to have predators the predated corpse is hardly a good cover, as we saw. Vanishing the corpse would have made it take longer to notice.)

Anyway, this is one of the few times we see Quirrell's plot clearly failing without anyone actually acting to thwart him. Is it plausible that he was actually unable to kill and drink a unicorn without anyone immediately noticing?

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 December 2013 03:09:01PM 4 points [-]

The alternative is that Quirrell does want people to know that unicorns get attacked.

If you want to make a magical reanimation ritual, a species that helps people on the verge of death seems to be a path to go. This whole interaction gave Harry information about unicorns.

Comment author: Mestroyer 12 December 2013 11:09:43PM 2 points [-]

This bothered me too. To fanwank something, perhaps when near death and desparately in need of unicorn pony blood Quirrell's mental capacity is reduced.

Comment author: Ishaan 12 December 2013 11:30:45PM *  0 points [-]

Ah, that's possible too. I was more implying that since such a mistake is implausible, it must have been intentional on Quirrell's part- for example, perhaps it was a purposefully orchestrated plot to kill Draco. (actually, now that I thought of that, it seems obvious that this is exactly what it was)

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 13 December 2013 12:33:08AM 2 points [-]

How does he arrange for Draco to go to a Silver Slytherin meeting at exactly the right time to get caught by Filch, and then for Filch to give Draco that precise detention? That's a lot of Imperiuses or other manipulation.

Comment author: ygert 13 December 2013 09:33:54AM 3 points [-]

Hagrid would have noticed. Hagrid named each individual unicorn in the forest, and if one disappeared, he'd definitely go to Dumbledore about it.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 13 December 2013 02:35:27PM 5 points [-]

Doesn't work. Hagrid says explicitly in the chapter that he's had almost no interaction with the unicorns.

Comment author: ygert 14 December 2013 03:31:18PM *  2 points [-]

He did notice when one died... No interaction does not mean being unaware of their existence (or lack thereof.)

Specific proof is that he knew Alicorn was dead before they found the body.

He can know that the unicorns live in a place, see the signs of their passing, without actually going up to them and interacting with them.

Comment author: kilobug 12 December 2013 11:05:46AM 29 points [-]

I know Harry is just a kid, but his reaction towards unicorns don't seem very rational to me. Remember, Harry became vegetarian for a while when he was afraid animals could be sentient. And now, he speaks about massively killing unicorns, magical creatures whose sentient status isn't very clear (like with phoenix), for a "temporary" stop of death at a cost of "permanent side-effects", without inquiring how temporary temporary is, what are those side-effects, and how sentient unicorns are. Without measuring those three parameters, there is no way to know if utility(killing unicorns in St Mungo) is positive or negative.

Comment author: TobyBartels 12 December 2013 03:13:26PM 5 points [-]

He's only brainstorming now, not actually rounding up unicorns or even in a position to do so. That said, I would have expected him to go into more depth about the possible downsides, to be in character.

Comment author: drethelin 12 December 2013 11:11:43AM 9 points [-]

I think it's less that Harry is a kid right now and more that he's specifically extra-freaked out than usual by perma-death at the time. Plus the Quirrel Distortion Field is keeping him from ever seriously considering anything Quirrel does as really evil.

Comment author: Ishaan 12 December 2013 10:05:14PM *  7 points [-]

Except for its attraction to innocence, there's no particular reason to think that the unicorn is more sentient than a horse, is there? Did I miss something important in the story?

Comment author: Desrtopa 13 December 2013 03:37:39PM 4 points [-]

I don't think there's any particular evidence in the story which bears on the intelligence of unicorns, save for the fact that some non humanoid magical creatures such as acromantulas are much smarter than their mundane kin. This alone should be sufficient to raise it to the point of being worthy of consideration.

Here's another possibility which Harry failed to consider; the side effects of drinking unicorn blood may in fact be worse than death, not for the individual, but for society, if it does something like permanently compromising the recipient's morality. Quirrell is already amoral enough not to care, but if Hermione had been saved with unicorn blood, she might have come out like Demented Harry.

It might not be the sort of thing which is obviously likely enough to be worthy of consideration in his position, but the way Dumbledore described in in the original canon, I think suggests it as a distinct possibility.

Comment author: MathiasZaman 12 December 2013 11:56:13PM 2 points [-]

I don't think you did and neither was there anything in canon about this. Unicorns are about as sentient as any other magical animal. The taboo of killing unicorns stems from the bad effects it has, rather than the sentience of the creatures.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 December 2013 05:57:22AM 0 points [-]

That's true, but unicorns are immortal, and they have to be killed in order to give a human a few more years of life. Presumably some number of horse-years are worth a human-year; horses aren't quite so negligibly intelligent that the life-value of infinite horse-years converges to zero.

Comment author: somervta 13 December 2013 07:52:48AM 1 point [-]

perhaps, but the unicorns don't actually have infinite life-spans.

Comment author: Alsadius 13 December 2013 10:03:50PM 2 points [-]

Well yes, because people keep vamping on them.

Comment author: kilobug 13 December 2013 08:35:30AM 0 points [-]

Well, the magical world is full of sentient or half-sentient things, from house elves to phoenix. The hypothesis that unicorns are half-sentient like a phoenix can't be excluded a priori, it's something a rationalist should inquire before taking any decision. And the scope and nature of side-effects should be inquired. Harry doesn't even do the simplest inquiry, asking Quirrel about it, but jumps to conclusion with incomplete data, doesn't sound like him at all.

Comment author: Mestroyer 12 December 2013 11:53:47AM 7 points [-]

He does at least know that "temporary" is long enough and the side effects are small enough for Quirrel to consider it worthwhile.

Comment author: ygert 13 December 2013 09:40:18AM *  4 points [-]

He also knows that Quirrell is totally amoral: Quirrell himself admits that he does not comprehend the thing that people call morality.

Thus, he knows that Quirrell considering something worthwhile is only evidence about that thing's utility to Quirrell, not its moral validity.

Comment author: gjm 13 December 2013 11:19:44AM 8 points [-]


I'm not generally in the habit of calling out typos, but that particular one is probably worth fixing. I think Quirrell understands mortality rather well.

Comment author: ygert 13 December 2013 01:59:34PM 2 points [-]

True, very true. Edited.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 13 December 2013 12:31:23AM 3 points [-]

Harry has dropped the Batman code. Life is full of trade offs.

Being alive and sentient trumps side effects and consuming animals, magical or otherwise.

Comment author: Desrtopa 13 December 2013 01:47:20AM 0 points [-]

Not if those animals themselves are (note that sentience is not really the relevant quality here, that should actually apply to most animals above a certain level of complexity) also sapient.

Considering that other magical creatures such as centaurs, goblins and house elves are known to be sapient, and animals not normally considered so, such as snakes, may become so due to magic, the prospect is certainly worth considering.

Comment author: knb 14 December 2013 04:43:28AM 4 points [-]

It's weird that you're assuming Harry doesn't know that unicorns aren't sentient. You don't know that, but Harry has already researched the known intelligent magical creatures, and he could easily know that unicorns are just magical horses that are pretty.

Harry isn't even a vegetarian, of course he would be OK with someone killing unicorns to survive.

Comment author: ygert 12 December 2013 12:18:13PM 2 points [-]

This is true. However, in his defence, I will say that he has no real idea of whether unicorns are sentient or not, and although it was remiss of him to assume they are not, under the assumption that they are not sentient it is a good plan.

Yes, though. It is out of character for Harry, who has in the past done things like become vegetarian when he though that there was the slightest possibility that animals could be sentient. He was still in shock, sure, but the Harry that we know should have known to ask.

Comment author: BlindIdiotPoster 19 December 2013 01:55:30AM 1 point [-]

What leads people to even suspect that unicorns are sentient?

Comment author: kilobug 19 December 2013 09:09:07AM 1 point [-]
  1. Sentient is not a binary thing, but a more fuzzy ones. The sentience of apes or newborn for example is hard to quantify in a binary way.

  2. Many magical creatures have a higher level of sentience than mere animals. Some are fully sentient like centaurs or acromentulas, some are half sentient like phoenix. Even magical owls or cats tend to be more sentient than their mundane counter-parts.

So it really seems from 1. and 2. that the level of sentience of unicorns has to be carefully evaluated, to be able to figure out if the harm done to them would be worth a "temporary cursed" life, it depends of the values of the three parameters : how sentient they are, how "temporary" it is and how "cursed" it is.

Comment author: gjm 12 December 2013 10:29:24PM 14 points [-]

Nothing specifically to do with these chapters, but it's only just occurred to me: Is it supposed to be significant that the initials of Potter-Evans-Verres are also the start of "Peverell" (indeed, you can get more if you take a few more letters of "Verres")? It seems a rather superficial observation, but "Verres" is a really unusual surname and it would be nice to have an explanation for why Eliezer chose it.

Comment author: drethelin 13 December 2013 06:18:53PM 2 points [-]

I think there's a good chance Eliezer started writing before he read any of the books that have the name peverell in them?

Comment author: Dentin 13 December 2013 09:43:41PM 10 points [-]

Peverell -> Potter Evans Verres Quirrel?

Yay pattern matching.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 14 December 2013 11:30:52AM 1 point [-]

Eliezer mentioned in a past discussion where he got the name Verres. Iirc it was a reference to someone/something, though I don't remember who/what. (This falsified my standing hypothesis at the time, which was that EY got the name from Latin for "truth".)

Comment author: sketerpot 14 December 2013 08:17:22PM *  6 points [-]

"Verres" came from combining "Vassar" and "Herreshoff". Here's the thread you're remembering.

Comment author: Alejandro1 15 December 2013 11:25:43PM *  5 points [-]

Discussion on HPMOR (along with other Potterverse topics) on the blog Crooked Timber.

I found it interesting because Crooked Timber is a (very good by the way) mainstream-liberal-academia blog, and I got a sense of "worlds colliding" by reading the opinions of their commenters on LW and its more niche subculture.

Comment author: EndlessStrategy 13 December 2013 04:14:45AM 13 points [-]

This isn't a particularly bad thing, but I must say, chapter 100 was perhaps the most self indulgent this story has had yet.

Comment author: somervta 13 December 2013 07:39:17AM 1 point [-]

Tto whom is it indulgent? Harry, Eliezer, or the reader?

Comment author: EndlessStrategy 13 December 2013 04:13:27PM 18 points [-]

I would say Eliezer. Introducing another event from the first year of school and subverting it utterly. Blatantly referencing Twilight AND My Little Pony (to the point of bending canon for its inclusion) AND a Methods or Rationality fanwork AND an obscure math program AND Several other cameos sprinkled throughout.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 13 December 2013 06:07:58PM 2 points [-]

Does it matter for this discussion that MLP canon unicorns are sentient?

Comment author: cultureulterior 09 March 2014 09:41:19PM 4 points [-]

Who is Sirius? Fudge!

  • It is well known that Sirius was replaced before he went to prison (the repeated "I'm not serious", the phoenix screaming particularly loudly at one particular door)
  • Fudge was present at the capture of Sirius, and made Sirius go to Azkaban without a trial- which means Fudge needs to keep the person in Sirius's body locked up for some reason.
  • Sirius can switch bodies somehow (Someone who looks like Sirius enough to fool everyone else is in prison)
  • Fudge is under the thumb of the Malfoys- why? He's using them for support, but there has to be a reason why they can dominate him completely- and being able to expose him as a death eater does that.
  • Harry predicts that Evil!Pettigrew would be with the Malfoys- or in the caribbean? Why not predict the caribbean first? Because Evil!Sirius is with the Malfoys.
  • Meta-dramatic point: Harry has never talked to Fudge. Every time he has a chance to talk to him, like during Harry Potter Day, he hasn't- even during the trial, Fudge never says anything.
Comment author: gwern 10 March 2014 12:33:49AM *  1 point [-]

So in this theory, Pettigrew is just innocent and dead, and Sirius was the one who betrayed the secret to Voldemort?


Comment author: buybuydandavis 31 December 2013 08:18:40PM *  4 points [-]

Harry thinks every death is a horrible tragedy. So, wouldn't he want to bring back everyone in the past as well? Make their deaths "not happen"? So he goes back in time to Atlantis, to arrange a self consistent history where no one has in fact died, but only seemed to die, much as he suggested Dumbledore do for Hermione's death.

One of the first lessons was ComedTea, and thinking about causality going backward in time. There's people like Harry and BDumbledore thinking about history as a story. There's the ridiculous levels of foreshadowing we see. History looks like a story because it is one, written by Harry. There was more powerful magic in the past because future Harry took those powers back in time with him.

There's even the foreshadowing of Harry going back in time to play a trick on himself.

"Ssalutations from Sslytherin to Sslytherin."

Comment author: ygert 15 December 2013 11:29:51AM *  4 points [-]

Unrelated to the latest chapters:

Inspired by RomeoStevens's comment in this thread, I am going over HPMOR, summarizing each chapter in a haiku. Tell me what you think:

Chapter 1:

Unexpected truth

Must still be updated on

Yes, magic is real

Chapter 2:

A show of magic

Tales of bitten teachers

The saga begins

Chapter 3:

Diagon alley

A peek into a new world

Stories of the past

Chapter 4:

Metal currency!

No real financial system

To speak of at all

Comment author: Unnamed 16 December 2013 09:08:14PM 4 points [-]

Chapter 23:

A blood purist, Draco by name
Proved that all wizards' blood is the same
So the boy who tricked him
Became his next victim
Draco would never do science again

Comment author: Kindly 15 December 2013 03:39:07PM 3 points [-]

Poetry is a union of form and content. Putting something into the form of a haiku is essentially trivial, so most haiku writers focus on content instead; however, your content should also be familiar to everyone reading, so you can't win there. (Also, #2 and #4 have 6 and 5 syllables in their respective second lines.)

Limericks would be good, if you could pull those off. Obviously, it would be harder. That's sort of the point, though: to impress people with form, you have to do something that isn't easy to do. On the other hand, if you write 101+ limericks, you'll probably be good at limericks by the end.

(Half good; I'm told the other half of limerick writing is that they have to be dirty and/or funny, ideally both.)

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 16 December 2013 10:02:35AM 3 points [-]

your content should also be familiar to everyone reading

Not for those who've had the time to forget about the contents of the story. This could be a useful way for people to remind themselves of the rough structure of the story without re-reading everything.

Comment author: ygert 15 December 2013 05:23:27PM *  1 point [-]

I don't know. I think there is a virtue in succinctness, an art that appears when things are put into a tightly limited form. It makes you look at what is essential, and so shows the essence.

Maybe I'll try limericks next. It's as good an idea as any, I suppose.

Different people pronounce things differently, so arguing over syllable numbers is going to be be frustrating, but can you tell me how you see 6 syllables in line 2 of #2? Do you pronounce "tales" as a single syllable?

You are certainly right about #4 though, so thanks for the pointer. I changed it. It lost a bit of punch, but whatever. If I am building elegance out of restrictions, I had better keep to them.

Comment author: ygert 16 December 2013 02:53:42PM *  1 point [-]

Some more:

Chapter 6:

A resolution:

Understanding this world

Is a task indeed

Chapter 7

Journey to Hogwarts

Platform nine point seven five

Meeting new friends

Bonus one:

Quidditch needs a clock

The snitch is ridiculous

Reformation now!

And another:

All-powerful tea:

Harry impregnates Draco

So says The Quibbler

Comment author: TobyBartels 19 December 2013 03:03:25PM 1 point [-]


Rewrite of Chapter 6:

A resolution:

Understanding this world:

What a task it is!

Comment author: ygert 19 December 2013 05:02:27PM *  2 points [-]

I like it. I think that's definitely an improvement on the last line.

Here are a few more:

Chapter 8:

Meet Hermione

Riddles and experiments

Start a new friendship

Chapter 9:

Waiting for sorting

Genetics are confusing

Never this before

Chapter 10:

The hat is conscious!

By asking, making sentience

Oops. A big mistake.

And another:

Ravenclaw sharpens

But Hufflepuff dulls his coldness

Where to put Harry?


On this day fate splits

A great fork of destiny

Which path is right?


One lone shouted word:

SLYTHERIN! ... Wait, what was that?!


Comment author: Vaniver 12 December 2013 10:07:18AM 8 points [-]

Not sure what to make of Harry's willingness to go to any length to preserve Quirrel. Immediate emotional reaction to the death of a 'friend'? Or change in underlying morality?

Not a fan of Twilight Sparkle dying.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 12 December 2013 11:00:52AM 12 points [-]

We're getting less of Harry's inner narrative than we did before the troll, so it's entirely possible that he's fully aware that Quirrell is almost definitely the big bad, but still wants him to live in spite of this.

After these latest chapters, though, I'm starting to think Harry's mind is being blocked specifically from anything that would harm Quirrell directly. Quirrell's perspective in chapter 89 says that he can't influence Harry directly through their connection, but Harry's "Dark Side" might be another matter. (How did Quirrell think talking to an Inferius like he was modifying its memories would help? He knows exactly how smart Harry is!)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 12 December 2013 02:24:47PM 7 points [-]

Good point about getting less of Harry's inner narrative-- I'd been thinking I was feeling less connected to the story and wondering why because the prose seemed to be at least as good as it's been, and probably better.

"Less inner narrative" gives me hope for a plot payoff, and it's much more subtle than a character explaining a plan to other characters without the details being given to the reader until the plan is acted on.

Comment author: linkhyrule5 12 December 2013 06:51:51PM 4 points [-]

... Huh. I didn't even consider the possibility that it might be an Inferius before now - I just assumed it was Imperius.

Comment author: loup-vaillant 12 December 2013 10:46:18PM *  2 points [-]

But when you think of it, if you assume the centaur Firenze wasn't dead, Imperius is probably not the best option anyway

Comment author: alex_zag_al 20 December 2013 05:47:10PM *  2 points [-]

a magically murdered and revived centaur is a big political problem, though, between Hogwarts and the centaurs of the forest.

Unless this kind of thing is routine, why would he expect to get away with this?

EDIT: There's also another explanation for why he took so long, which is he was in the Firenze's mind, learning exactly what the centaurs had divined.

Comment author: Leonhart 13 December 2013 11:14:50PM 3 points [-]

Twilight Sparkle, specifically, is associated with stars (in FiM, the symbol of Magic generally is a six-pointed star). More meta-foreshadowing for the stars dying?

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 12 December 2013 07:36:51PM 0 points [-]

That wasn't Twilight Sparkle. It was a unicorn who was a reference to Twilight Sparkle.

Comment author: Vaniver 12 December 2013 09:39:24PM 5 points [-]

Well, yes, in the sense that Alicorn isn't dead either, and this isn't a crossover universe with MLP (as far as I can tell). But it depends on how you interpret this.

I think something about giving unicorns in the HPMoR universe (whose only plot relevance is that valuable things can be extracted from their corpses) cutie marks skeeves me out, and makes their death that much more tragic.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 13 December 2013 02:34:53PM 15 points [-]

Interesting, I had almost the opposite response: I thought it seriously undermined the seriousness of the chapter and gave for a very conflicting feeling.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 13 December 2013 06:57:00PM 6 points [-]

In fact, I had both these reactions.

It made it sadder but also kind of stupid.

Comment author: Vaniver 14 December 2013 11:17:11AM *  5 points [-]

In the MoR universe, being able to do magic is a sign that the underlying Source of Magic recognizes you in some way. Wizards make ghosts, muggles don't; as Draco puts it, the simplest explanation for that is that wizards have souls and Muggles don't. (Suppose the soul is just some part of the self that persists that taps into the Source of Magic for computation. Then it doesn't require the physical body for computation, and Harry's intuitions about souls from "the brain makes the mind," which is true in our world but possibly not exclusively true in the MoR world, are not necessarily correct.)

In the MLP universe, a cutie mark is the physical manifestation of having found your purpose in life. MLP unicorns can also do magic. If we transport Twilight Sparkle from MLP to MoR with the least number of changes (i.e. the Source of Magic recognizes her and the philosophical interpretation of the cutie mark is the same), we end up with a being who has more directly observable evidence for being morally valuable than wizards... whose only purpose (in the eyes of the story* and protagonist) is to die to extend the life of wizards.

Alternatively, we assume that it's basically a horse with some magical properties, that's just colored that way as a referential joke. Then, yeah, jokes like that do decrease the seriousness of the chapter.

*Originally this was "author," which is not quite fair; the primary purpose of Rita Skeeter in MoR is to be murdered by Quirrel, but as the author's note / other commentary that Eliezer almost put in McGonagall telling Skeeter's children that their mother had gone missing showed that Eliezer was modeling her as an actual person, and the same might be true for the unicorns Quirrel is murdering.

Comment author: Velorien 17 December 2013 06:58:22PM *  5 points [-]

Perhaps as a result of reading Harry Potter and the Natural 20, I have problems with the various cameos in HPMOR, including this one. People who have distinctive names and characteristics are automatically marked somewhere in my mind as "important NPCs", but then there are so many of them, and so few of them actually turn out to be important, that the relevant part of my mind gets confused. It's like the literary device where you introduce a character with a lengthy background and description, only to promptly kill them off - except unless your name is George R. R. Martin, you're unlikely to do this more than once per book, whereas Eliezer's version is less extreme but can happen multiple times per chapter.

Comment author: garabik 13 December 2013 01:58:22PM 7 points [-]

You had to try to live the other person's entire life inside your own head, at least if you wanted to create the False Memories with less than a sixteen-to-one slowdown as you separately crafted sixteen major tracks of memory

Was this by any change a reference to Permutation City? That was 17× slowdown, but that could be explained by taking the ratio of real+simulated time. But I do not get the "sixteen major tracks of memory" then.

Far fetched, I know...

Comment author: beoShaffer 12 December 2013 06:20:18AM *  3 points [-]

It seems like a stretch but is there any chance

Imps as can't be seen or heard or remembered, even while they're eatin' yer face.

is a shout out to

But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.

from the Dresden files?

Also could the spell Quirell used to destroy Hogwarts walls in earlier chapters be used to dungeon bypass the third floor corridor by going through the back of the room with the mirror of desire Erised>

Comment author: chris_elliott 12 December 2013 07:05:21AM *  20 points [-]

Imps as can't be seen or heard or remembered, even while they're eatin' yer face.

It's probably a reference to Worm (which has a character called Imp whose superpower is to selectively stop other people from noticing or remembering her).

Comment author: Desrtopa 13 December 2013 03:16:22PM 2 points [-]

I'd say their mention also raises the question of how trolls were able to secure the top third spot for most dangerous predator over them. Or even dementors, for that matter. A threat you don't know to run away from until it's too late is worse than one that you can't defeat, but can easily escape.

Possibly a single imp will eat its fill from a human being without ever doing fatal harm. But a few Imperiused imps would be an absurdly deadly weapon.

Comment author: Velorien 13 December 2013 03:38:57PM 2 points [-]

It may be that there are simple charms that can be used to defend against the imps in advance (say, a basic proximity alert charm that covers all moving creatures in high-visibility sparkles a la Glitterdust).

In regard to the Imperius, it's possible that an imp's natural "cloaking" prevents potential masters from being able to remember them long enough to make practical use of them. It's also possible that they don't speak human languages. Has it ever been established how Imperius commands are conveyed to targets?

Comment author: Desrtopa 13 December 2013 03:45:37PM 1 point [-]

In regard to the Imperius, it's possible that an imp's natural "cloaking" prevents potential masters from being able to remember them long enough to make practical use of them. It's also possible that they don't speak human languages. Has it ever been established how Imperius commands are conveyed to targets?

Maybe even a captive imp is too well concealed to Imperius, although if they're that well cloaked it raises the question of how people even know they exist.

In the original canon, Crouch Jr. as Moody was able to Imperius a spider, which implies that it does not require that the recipient have human language capacity, or even be intelligent.

Comment author: ygert 19 December 2013 09:55:13AM 2 points [-]

Also, in canon, in book 7 the protagonists themselves use the Imperius themselves (as part of the break-in to Gringotts.) There we get the best look at the actual mechanics of the Imperius, including that we see Imperius commands being issued telepathically as it were, from the caster's thoughts.

Comment author: Gurkenglas 14 December 2013 11:56:57PM 1 point [-]

When I heard their mention in the story, my first thought was "But then how does anyone know of them?"

Comment author: Velorien 15 December 2013 12:34:40AM *  5 points [-]

Divination, corpses of imps killed by natural causes/accident, magical creatures immune to their effects (or unusual charms that grant immunity)... The great thing about magic is that it's not just broken, but broken in every direction.

Comment author: linkhyrule5 12 December 2013 05:50:54AM 3 points [-]

So, I am mildly amused that Eliezer appears to have killed off Alicorn.

Also, that the second unicorn appears to be Twilight Sparkle.

(And thirdly, the not-very-hidden Twilight reference.)

Didn't get the proof-theoretic joke until I looked it up, unfortunately, but it was rather amusing once I did.

And finally: I think Quirrell just got himself added to the "to be resurrected" list...

Comment author: linkhyrule5 12 December 2013 09:35:47AM 8 points [-]

Oh - and I notice that Draco is thinking in Bayesian terms. Good for him - and good for Harry, too!

Comment author: MugaSofer 12 December 2013 08:33:01PM *  6 points [-]

It seems the entire race of centaurs have taken something of a hit - in the books, they were perfectly aware that their divination was based on one's state of mind and could easily be applied to the patterns perceived in, for example, twisting smoke from a campfire.

I wouldn't mind much - Eliezer may not even have known or remembered that - except that this is not a new lesson for the readers, and it seems a missed opportunity to talk about pattern-matching, maybe tie it in with some of the other stuff about subconscious knowledge or desires in that scene.

I'm torn between vaguely hoping Eliezer will decide to change this, and uncertainty as to whether he even reads these comments. Heck, why should he? I certainly can't write anything like HPMOR, why would he expect to get a useful suggestion from such a comment? (And it doesn't help I'm signalling incompetence with typos from this darn phone, props to TobyBartels and others for reminding me to fix them.)

Comment author: gjm 12 December 2013 10:11:41PM *  13 points [-]

It seems that your entire first paragraph -- which one might have expected to end with something explaining what it seems is true about the entire race of centaurs rather than stopping in mid-sentence.

[EDITED to note that now MugaSofer has fixed the mistake I was commenting on.]

Comment author: JoshuaZ 13 December 2013 02:37:06PM 2 points [-]

I think the missing phrase from context is something like "don't know that in HPMR".

Comment author: gjm 13 December 2013 06:47:36PM 2 points [-]

Yes, I think so too.

Comment author: TobyBartels 15 December 2013 06:12:28AM 1 point [-]

Yes, please fix the typos! You have a good point, and it's getting lost.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 06 January 2014 07:56:24AM 2 points [-]


This truly dangerous wizard shall perhaps be bent on some project of which he anticipates great renown, and the certain prospect of losing that renown and living out his life in obscurity will seem to him more vivid, more aversive, than the unknown prospect of destroying his country.

The Sorting Hat:

“You know—you aren’t letting yourself think it, but in some quiet corner of your mind you know just exactly what you aren’t thinking—you know that by far the simplest explanation for this unverbalizable fear of yours is just the fear of losing your fantasy of greatness, of disappointing the people who believe in you, of turning out to be pretty much ordinary, of flashing and fading like so many other child prodigies...”

Comment author: buybuydandavis 17 December 2013 02:56:49AM 2 points [-]

Strength of will is demanded for the cursed fire not to turn upon you and consume you;


Comment author: gwern 17 December 2013 03:23:16AM 2 points [-]

Been suggested many times, yes.

Comment author: knb 12 December 2013 08:26:24PM 2 points [-]

I assume the centaur tried to kill Harry because he prophesied that "the skies will soon be empty" because of Harry. Based on what we know about Harry, the skies could be "emptied" because of Dyson spheres or star-lifting.

Although, if you look at it that way, it would still take thousands of years before the skies appeared "empty," since we're getting light from thousands of years ago. I'm not sure if a centaur would use "soon" in this sense, so perhaps Eliezer has something different in mind.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 13 December 2013 12:53:29AM *  5 points [-]

time turners exist
harry wants to become god
people have died in the past

Comment author: TobyBartels 13 December 2013 05:05:58AM 6 points [-]

You should edit that so that the last line has only five syllables.

Comment author: ygert 13 December 2013 09:49:49AM *  4 points [-]

time turners exist

Harry wants to become god

not all still live, yet



time turners exist

Harry wants to become god

There are some still dead

Comment author: VAuroch 14 December 2013 01:03:29AM 1 point [-]

time turners exist

harry wants to become god

some already died

Comment author: Alsadius 13 December 2013 10:32:42PM 1 point [-]

"people have died before" "people have died in past"

Comment author: ygert 14 December 2013 03:33:54PM 1 point [-]

In the past. You lose elegance points if you have to drop words in order to fit what you want to say in the requisate number of syllables.

Comment author: ygert 15 December 2013 11:40:07AM *  1 point [-]

Inspired by this, I wrote some more of these, summarizing the first five chapters of HPMOR.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 12 December 2013 10:54:52AM 2 points [-]

I've already forgotten why, but I wound up wondering how Quirrell confronting Grendelwald might go in HPMoR. I can't think of a reason it would happen, but it'd doubtless be entertaining, if canon is anything to go by.

(In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort goes to Normengard to interrogate Grendelwald over that device Dumbledore mentioned. Grendelwald believes from the moment he detects Voldemort's approach that he's probably going to die, and still deceives and verbally belittles Voldy, until he laughs at the Avada Kedavra aimed at him. Not being a complete idiot, Voldemort saw through Grendelwald's lies, but it was still fun to read. Our current Defense Professor would, if he wanted that same information, be likely to come up with it without visiting the previous dark lord, and Grendelwald's attitude would likely lose its effect on him, but "Have you come to kill me lollollol" ... eh, a smart interrogator would probably resort to torture instead. Which I guess means Grendelwald is a perfect Occlumens, for all the good that does.)

Comment author: JTHM 12 December 2013 02:22:10PM 12 points [-]

Grindelwald accepted the inevitability of his death, and did not fear it—hence the laughter. Remember, Rowling is a deathist, and considers this to be a mark of Grindelwald's maturity (he is a foil to Voldemort).

Comment author: CAE_Jones 12 December 2013 03:03:00PM 2 points [-]

True. I tend to think a combination of losing while invincible and being stuck in prison for 50 years might have had something to do with his feelings on the situation, though. He also recognized Voldemort, implying either they'd made contact before, or Grindelwald had access to information from the outside world. I could see his personal deathism making much better sense in context (I wonder if Normingard has anti-suicide measures? No one seems to concern themselves with death at Azkaban, but Normingard doesn't have Dementors.).

I suppose it comes down to a question of "How does one coerce someone who just doesn't care?"

Comment author: jaibot 12 December 2013 07:29:08PM *  2 points [-]

Just to check: Chapter 100 is the scene foreshadowed in the opening quote, right?

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

(Unicorn blood)

(black robes, falling)

(The aurors and McGonagall falling from their brooms)

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

...this doesn't quite fit, unless I'm picturing the scene wrong.

Edit: Uncertainty. Based on replies, I'm now leaning against this being the foreshadowed scene.

Comment author: MathiasZaman 13 December 2013 12:03:47AM 9 points [-]

I don't think it does for meta-reasons. The opening quote is build up too much to not be perfectly fitting and clear. It's also more narratively pleasing to have it return in the final chapter.

Comment author: 75th 12 December 2013 10:11:01PM 6 points [-]

I don't think any of it fits. "Tiny fragment" and "fraction of a line" don't sound like blood spatters, or anything liquid. The sound of black robes falling doesn't sound like bodies hitting the ground, and if this were the fulfillment of the Chapter 1 epigraph, I would expect there to be at least a mention of their robes.

This whole scene doesn't seem significant enough to be such a heavily anticipated revelation. I'm going with "No" on this one.

Comment author: WalterL 12 December 2013 07:36:01PM 2 points [-]

Oof, this was a punch to the gut of a chapter. I've gone from "Harry, Wake Up!" to a sort of baffled expectation.

What on earth is up with you, Harry? You are usually so clearsighted! Are you still grieving for Hermione? What possible ethical system justifies the decisions of this chapter?

A speech about the power of truth, then a cover up. Punishment for Filch and Hagrid, but mercy for the centaur and Quirrel.

Feh, this is just what the entry describes as refusing to process something I've already processed. There's an easy description for what's going on here, for treasuring some grievances and renouncing others. Harry is doing exactly what Snape told him Lilly did. He is being shallow, and I hope he's able to change.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 13 December 2013 02:42:51PM 7 points [-]

A speech about the power of truth, then a cover up. Punishment for Filch and Hagrid, but mercy for the centaur and Quirrel.

Consequentialism in action? Hogwarts would be better off with Filch and Hagrid removed, but no future purpose is served by exposing Quirrell or killing the Centaur.

Comment author: kilobug 13 December 2013 05:29:27PM 1 point [-]

I don't think Hogwarts would be better without Hagrid - Hagrid as teacher is dangerous and terrific, but Hagrid as gamekeeper is quite good in his job. He just needs a bit more of supervision to ensure he doesn't keep a dragon or an acromantula as a pet.

Comment author: Velorien 13 December 2013 09:02:54PM 2 points [-]

He just needs a bit more of supervision to ensure he doesn't keep a dragon or an acromantula as a pet.

Then again, supervision of teachers is something that would never ordinarily happen in Hogwarts.

Comment author: Mestroyer 12 December 2013 11:16:37PM *  7 points [-]

power of truth, then a cover up

Harry recognizes the power of truth, and doesn't want give that power out indiscriminately. That makes perfect sense.

Punishment for Filch and Hagrid, but mercy for the centaur and Quirrel.

Harry doesn't care about sentient-but-not-sapient things (or thinks that animals including unicorns are mostly not even sentient), so under his ethical system, Quirrel hasn't done anything wrong (which he knows about). Harry didn't have the power to "punish" the centaur through anything short of death. He knows the centaur is only after him, and not children in general, and that it probably won't get another chance to kill him. Filch and Hagrid have not only done things that are bad, but they are dangers to students.

Comment author: WalterL 13 December 2013 08:58:27AM 7 points [-]

I disagree. Harry watches Quirrel stun the professor and 3 Aurors, let them tumble off their brooms and false memory charm them, but Quirrel hasn't done anything wrong? That's, what, 8 felony equivalents at least? (Assault x4, and presuming False Memory Charm would be at least equivalent to assault, probably more like rape).

Filch's crime, for which Harry wants him to serve jail time, is that he sent Draco & co to the Forbidden Forest, potentially exposing them to assault. Quirrel actually assaulted them.

To grossly simplify, there's a consistent set of ethics that says that Filch and Quirrel both need to be punished. (action -> consequences) There's another, which says both ought to be forgiven. (no harm, no foul) Forgiving those who are cool and punishing those who are lame is unethical, particularly given the disparity between their offenses.

On another tack, how on earth can Harry know anything about the Centaur? It attacked a child after rambling on for a while. Jumping to the conclusion that its fixated on him and won't just attack some other child is really arbitrary. I mean, plenty of serial bad guys fixated on their victims, it doesn't make them safe for other folks. Today 'the stars' told Centaur to kill Harry. Tomorrow they tell him to kill Ron, or Hagrid, or set himself on fire. I wonder what they told him to do yesterday?

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 December 2013 07:06:59PM 13 points [-]

Filch's crime, for which Harry wants him to serve jail time, is that he sent Draco & co to the Forbidden Forest, potentially exposing them to assault.

Filch testified that he intentionally wanted to expose them to assault and a chance of dying. Quirrel didn't do anything that gave Draco a chance of dying.

Quirrel on the other hand drinks the unicorn blood to safe it's own life. As far as Harry thinks Qurirrel also only stunned the centaur and wanted to safe Harry's life.

For Harry morality being alive and saving lifes is very important. Short term pain and being stunned doesn't factor much into Harry's utility calculations.

Comment author: maia 13 December 2013 04:53:56PM 4 points [-]

Jumping to the conclusion that its fixated on him and won't just attack some other child is really arbitrary.

Maybe this is just my narrative epistemic advantage talking, but: the centaur mentioned stuff relevant to the prophecy, knew specifically who Harry was, and probably was trying to kill him for a very specific reason.

Even if Harry doesn't realize what the centaur is talking about, it seems to me that of the people who try to attack and kill Harry Potter, probably most of them are actually trying to kill him specifically and are not just random psychopaths.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 13 December 2013 02:38:45PM 2 points [-]

The net result of Quirrell's actions were to prevent some people from knowing that he was feeding on unicorns. Consequentially, that's keeping Quirrell's secret, which McGonagall (and Dumbledore?) seems to want in the first place to keep him as Defense Professor.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 December 2013 04:57:40PM 2 points [-]

Harry doesn't believe in death or Azkaban as valid punishments. Harry would oppose killing Filch or Hagrid.

If Harry would reveal what Quirrell did the punishment might be Azkaban.

Comment author: WalterL 13 December 2013 09:09:20PM 1 point [-]

Imagine that I'm a pal who explained the modern analogous position to you. I tell you that I think our prisons are inhumane, and the death penalty is problematic. I know a guy who beat up 3 cops, a teacher and some kids and drugged them so they forgot what happened when they interrupted him slaughtering some horses, but I don't report him, and in fact helped him cover up his crimes because of my belief. We still buds?

Setting that aside I'm not clear at all on why Harry would still have a problem with the Azkaban/death penalty. Earlier, sure, it made sense, but now that he's declared himself the Vanquisher of Death he just seems confused.

Suffering is certainly bad, but Harry's cool with False Memory charms, and those can negate suffering. The time lost becomes the issue, and Harry intends that folks shall live forever.

I mean, he's going to conquer death, right? Not only that, he's going to resurrect Hermione, who is dead and whose body is gone presumably by now decayed. So he's confident that he will be able to resurrect someone based on, effectively, name and description. Surely he doesn't think his abilities as a researcher are terribly singular, never to be duplicated.

I mean, if he might in theory do it then its ultimately doable, then someday it'll be done, and all will rise.

So.what matter then, when precisely any given individual dies, so long as it does not alter this future? Worst case scenario. Quirrel goes to Azkaban for a few months before his disease overcomes him, and dies a howling deranged lunatic. Later on he's resurrected, false memory charms fix his trauma and bob's your uncle.

Comment author: Dentin 13 December 2013 11:14:48PM 21 points [-]

Let's try an analogy that's a bit closer to the mark:

"I know a guy who needs to eat freshly killed bald eagle meat every now and again to stay alive, and while doing so he was discovered by some forest rangers and kids out hiking on public land. He quickly used a gas grenade to knock them out without harming them, then gave them a drug that caused them to lose their short term memory of the event. He then dialed 911 on one of their cell phones and watched from a distance to make sure they didn't get eaten before help arrived."

Note that there are several things here which don't have good conversions into Real Life due to magic. In cases like that, you can't just pick the 'closest equivalent' and expect it to make sense. Sometimes, you'll have to drag something magical into the real world as well.

Analogies are hard, at least if you're trying to be accurate. Doing a double analogy to see if you can get back the original helps. For example, let's take your analogy, and try to convert it back into the original scenario:

"I know a guy who was killing some horses in the forest when he was discovered by a group of aurors, a school teacher, and some kids. This guy beat up everyone using curses that take weeks to heal and must heal painfully and naturally, then he stunned them and memory charmed them to get away with it"

This is a good way to tell where your analogy breaks down. In particular:

1) [minor] horses in the muggle world are typically owned by someone, with the very rare exception being free range horses on public land. Be default, the reader of your analogy will assume that the horses are unspecial and owned by someone. This is very different from killing something unowned but special, like a bald eagle.

2) [major] "killing a unicorn because my life depends on it" is turned into "killing some horses with no justification."

3) [critical] beating up a person to the point that they can't function is a much, much bigger deal in the real world than using stunning magic, where the stuns are reversible and extremely temporary, and healing magic makes major wounds no more threatening than a hangnail.

4) [minor] Quirrel did not leave until he knew that the aurors, teacher, and students would be safe (because of the presence of Harry's future copy), but this is lost in your analogy.

5) [minor] Dumbledore himself uses memory charms to wipe Harry's patronus 2.0 from the minds of three aurors, so memory charms are clearly less 'against the rules' in wizarding society than mind altering drugs are in muggle society.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 December 2013 09:49:57PM 5 points [-]

Imagine that I'm a pal who explained the modern analogous position to you. I tell you that I think our prisons are inhumane, and the death penalty is problematic. I know a guy who beat up 3 cops, a teacher and some kids and drugged them so they forgot what happened when they interrupted him slaughtering some horses, but I don't report him, and in fact helped him cover up his crimes because of my belief. We still buds?

You confuse agreement about moral principles with the judgement that a moral system is consistent. There are a lot of possible ethical systems that I don't like. That doesn't mean they aren't consistent ethical systems.

Let's say I know a homosexual from a country where it's illegal with the death penalty. He was in a situation where 3 cops witnessed him engage in an homosexual act. He managed to make them temporarily unconscious and drug them up to forget that they found him.

Would I let that person get away with that? Probably yes. How I treat someone who opposes a cop depends a lot on whether I believe in the law of the land of that cop.

Suffering is certainly bad, but Harry's cool with False Memory charms, and those can negate suffering.

I don't think there's evidence to the claim that false memory charms can negate all suffering.

Not only that, he's going to resurrect Hermione, who is dead and whose body is gone presumably by now decayed.

I don't think it decayes in the transformed form.

Comment author: gjm 14 December 2013 12:14:58AM 2 points [-]

I mean, he's going to conquer death, right? [...] So what matter then, when precisely any individual dies [...] ?

I think it's worth distinguishing between "Harry intends to conquer death by any means possible" and "Harry knows that he will succeed in conquering death". If the first is true and the second false, he still has ample reason to try to stop people dying prematurely.

Comment author: linkhyrule5 14 December 2013 01:17:01AM 1 point [-]

You're allowed to have a utility function over things you can't perceive. I'm allowed to say that I value a life where I got tortured and mind-wiped less than I value a life where neither happens.

Comment author: TobyBartels 12 December 2013 02:55:33PM 1 point [-]

an overlarge metal blade whose edge did not gleam beneath the moonlight; a gleaming edge, Harry had once read, was the sign of a dull blade

Of course, the real reason that it's not gleaming is that Eliezer once read that!

Comment author: atorm 13 December 2013 02:32:28PM 6 points [-]

I would like to know where he read it.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 13 December 2013 07:14:25PM 3 points [-]

I have also read it, I don't remember where. It's not a particularly outré piece of knowledge, just a piece of knife-sharpening lore. The reason a properly sharpened blade does not show a visible edge is that the edge is thinner than the wavelength of light.

I do not know if this is true, which puts me in much the same position as Harry. It's just something I've read but never put to practical test.

Comment author: linkhyrule5 14 December 2013 01:19:36AM 2 points [-]

As an owner of a penknife that I occasionally sharpen: It is definitely true that a dull blade gleams, but I am not sure if it is true that a sharp blade does not.

Comment author: jimmy 18 December 2013 04:55:27AM 2 points [-]

Sharp edges don't reflect any light visible to the naked eye, but it'll show up on an illuminated microscope.

The edge width is on par with the wavelength of light at ~300-500 nanometers at best

Comment author: ygert 12 December 2013 05:23:00PM 6 points [-]

And when it says that Harry read something in The Feynman Lectures on Physics, that is because Eliezer read it there and thought that it was the kind of thing Harry would have read. Of course Eliezer and Harry read similar things, Eliezer built Harry based in part on himself. It is hard for any author to do otherwise. If Eliezer had not read that, there is no way he could have had Harry read it.

Perhaps that is the curse of authorship: All you characters must be a subset of you. You cannot, however hard you try, write a character that is more than you. The author always has to at least be able to imagine each thing his character does.

Comment author: roystgnr 12 December 2013 07:35:53PM 20 points [-]

Your characters can be mentally superior you in at least three ways: they can think much faster than you can, they can independently think of things for which you needed outside help, and they can come to correct conclusions based on less evidence and/or less obvious evidence than you would have required.

Comment author: Desrtopa 13 December 2013 02:03:25AM 11 points [-]

While these mechanisms can potentially make a character seem smarter than the author, the last one can also backfire; you can slip up and make the character leap to the right answer on the basis of less evidence than could plausibly isolate that answer.

This is one of the main issues which prevented me from buying into to the conflict in Death Note.

Comment author: ygert 13 December 2013 10:05:43AM 4 points [-]

Yes. In the heat of the moment when the character needs to make a split second decision, the author can sit back and and think long and hard about the answer.

When the hero has a choice and no opportunity to research it, the author can still do that research, or make up how the answer goes in his world.

What I was driving at is something subtler: I cannot count the times I have heard someone praise HPMoR for, among other things, teaching them something new to them. People loudly talk about how the got into rationality and Less Wrong from it, and how they got from HPMoR ideas that change their lives. This is good, and a sign that HPMoR is a darn good piece of fiction.

But: Eliezer did not gain any of those things. Eliezer cannot read HPMoR and be enlightened, for every piece of enlightenment contained within came from his mind. No, Eliezer is not perfect either, and I am sure he makes many mental mistakes that he has the smarter HPMoR character avoid. This is a point. He can write smarter characters than him. But, everything he has the characters do is something he knows, and it must be that way.

Eliezer may only know some of the things he has the characters do on the type 2 level, but know them he must.

Comment author: kilobug 13 December 2013 12:44:49PM 6 points [-]

Eliezer did not gain any of those things. Eliezer cannot read HPMoR and be enlightened, for every piece of enlightenment contained within came from his mind.

I get where you're going, and I mostly agree, but technically it's not 100% exact. Eliezer, like every human, forget things all the time, and reading HPMoR can makes him rediscover things, or can make him see things under a new light. It can also teaches him things about himself, about how his vision of things evolved with time.

Re-reading things (be it "serious" stuff like LW posts/comments, fiction work or even to a point source code) I wrote a while ago regularly enough does "enlighten" me, making me remember things I forgot, making me "propagate" some updating I did since but didn't fully propagate, and improving my internal model of myself.

Comment author: alex_zag_al 20 December 2013 05:32:34PM 1 point [-]

But, everything he has the characters do is something he knows, and it must be that way.

No, no... that's true in a limited way, I mean the characters don't know about any real-world experiments that he doesn't, for example.

However, they can have novel insights. This is a good reason to write fiction, in fact. I write dialogues between characters in comics that I read when I'm stuck on math or programming problems. When I do this, it's still me that's thinking of it, of course. But it comes to me in a character's voice.

So that might happen with HPMOR, too. There might be things in HPMOR that Eliezer only figured out when he heard, internally, one of his characters say them.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 12 December 2013 07:31:19PM 6 points [-]

You can go and choose to read things that the character would that you under other circumstances would not. The set of things I've read pretty much solely so as to be able to write in character is small but nonempty.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 12 December 2013 05:46:52PM 3 points [-]

I'm not sure what point you're making.

We can also say that the real reason it's not gleaming is because it doesn't exist at all; there is no blade, only words referring to a blade that doesn't exist.

But why would we say either of those things?

Comment author: TobyBartels 13 December 2013 05:02:41AM 3 points [-]

It's not a deep point. The reference to Harry's having read such an odd fact just struck me, that's all.

Comment author: thakil 12 December 2013 08:50:04AM 1 point [-]

Harry's blindness to Quirrel being pretty obviously bad news at this point is definitely something I'd like to see explained. I know that as the reader I get to see things more clearly than Harry does, but when you start thinking painfully murdering magical creatures to preserve your life for a short amount of time is fine if the person doing it is someone you like, something is going wrong there! I am fully expecting at this point to understand that Harry's thinking on Quirrel is being deliberately suppressed. After all, Harry's meant to be fundamentally curious about magic... why has he not investigated what could cause the anti-magic effect?

Comment author: linkhyrule5 12 December 2013 09:12:47AM 8 points [-]

Actually, no, he outright approves - he doesn't think unicorns are sapient, which means that their suffering is automatically worth less than a wizard's life.

Also, there's no anti-magic effect, Quirrell is just blindingly fast at casting and then False Memory Charmed Draco.

Comment author: BlindIdiotPoster 19 December 2013 01:50:48AM 1 point [-]

Painfully murdering nonsentients to preserve one's own life is considered fine in almost all human cultures. In fact, painfully killing animals for fun is considered acceptable by most people, so long as the killing is done in a non-sadistic manner.

Comment author: solipsist 05 February 2014 12:52:17AM *  1 point [-]

Harry can obliviate people well enough to make them "lose every single life memory involving the color blue". This is a Big Deal. It allows for things like:



After walking Herminone to Broomstick class, Harry wandered alone about the upper hallways of Hogwartz pondering Nevill's rememberal. He must have forgotten about something important, but w-


A Green Elephant had appeared out of nowhere and struck Harry's head. It was a stuffed animal, the type you might buy for a small child, if the child's favorite color were Eerily Glowing Green. Harry removed an index card pinned to the elephant's side.

Forget something? Jog your memory at the north-northwest stacks of the main Hogwarts library, letter M.



p.s. Don't think about the green elephant! (smirk)

Harry rubbed his temple. It was at times like these that Harry wished he had less affinity for cryptic clues and assaulting people with glowing megafauna.

Less than 5 minutes of search at the library Harry and found the next hint: a fluorescent green post-it labeled "Elephant" on the book Mind Magic: A Modern Approach.

Harry kicked himself. Well, that solved the mystery of the glowing rememberal. He had forgotten a task he had assigned himself his first day at Hogwarts:

Todo 1̶2: Research every kind of mind magic you can find. Mind is the foundation of our power as humans, any kind of magic that affects it is the most important sort of magic there is.

Harry opened the book at a green elephant-shaped bookmark and read.

The unpracticed wizard can manage only coarser obliviatons, such as removing every single life memory involving fish or the colour blue.

...Or every life memory involving Green Elephants, Harry thought. So that's what he was up to with the elephant. Harry had ensured that every memory he made while learning obliviation would be tagged with a obvious marker. If Harry ever needed to plead ignorance of mind magic in the future, he could obliviate all his life green-elephant memories (be prepared!). Alright, new plan. He would study obliviation in secret, always thinking about a green elephant when doing so.

A grinning Harry wandered out of the library and into the Weasley twins.

"Harry! We got you a present." said Fred or George.

"You'll never guess what it is."

Harry put a finger on his cheek "Is it...A glowing green elephant?"

April 16th, 1992.

2:34 PM

Harry slowed the broomstick to a halt in midair of a hallway, his wand already coming into his hand, the driving will to protect Hermione Granger rising to the front of his mind like a sun of silver fire and flowing down his arm as he cried


and the blazing white humanoid burst into existence like a nova, the Weasley twins' voices crying aloud in shock.

"Tell Hermione Granger - that there's a troll loose in Hogwarts - it could be hunting for her - she needs to get into direct sunlight, now!"

The silver figure turned as though it was departing, and then -

A floating green elephant appeared

Harry's Patronus raced out of the room. It took forty agonizing seconds before the silvery figure returned, opened it's mouth and said <spoilers redacted>.

An invisible voice shouted "EXPECTO PATRONUM!".

A second true Patronus appeared next to the floating green elephant.

The invisible voice instructed "Send the following message to me: 'Hermione Granger says,'" the invisible voice rose in pitch in a poor imitation of Hermione, "AHHHHHHHHH!"

The floating green elephant disappeared.

"Merlin's underpants," breathed Fred or George.

Battle with the troll:

One hand held a tremendous stone club as long and as wide as an adult human, and the other hand held a green elephant and <spoilers redacted>


The troll snorted and spun around to face them, dropping a green elephant and <spoilers redacted> into the red pool that had spread out beneath its feet, raising its club high.


Harry told Dumbldore about the <spoilers redacted>, though he knew later he would be unable to process the memory later.


But Harry didn't see anything helpful he could do using spells in his lexicon, Dumbledore wasn't being very cooperative, and in any case this was several minutes after the critical location within Time and Harry's green elephant weilding, time-traveling double would be more chronologically equipped.

Dumbledore walked to Harry's side, George moved to keel next to his brother, and Fred lay supine.

Why had future Harry shown him the Green Elephant?

"Harry," the Headmaster whispered, laying his hand on Harry's shoulder. "Harry, you must go from this place"

Harry sat outside the infirmary storeroom clutching his time-turner. He could go back; he could save her. But not yet.

Think of a green elephant

He knew too much. He could't go back now -- the information carried in his mind would strech time too far.

Think of a green elephant

There was only one way left. Harry turned his wand on himself, his fingers forming the motion he had practiced all year.

Think of a green elephant

In a flash, his mind would race his memories of a Green Elephant and wipe them out forever.

Harry drew his breath.


Comment author: Velorien 05 February 2014 11:20:06AM 1 point [-]

I had the exact opposite interpretation of that line. I thought it meant that Harry still had so little control that if he was trying to get rid of a memory which involved the colour blue (presumably referring to the unicorn and its blood, which was "not white, but pale blue, or appearing so"), he would instead end up removing all such memories without meaning to.

That's rather like saying "he couldn't perform surgery unless he wanted somebody to lose every single organ in their abdomen". Not something you want to use as a tool - at most, it's a very blunt weapon where Harry has access to far better ones for most situations.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 December 2013 09:32:37PM *  1 point [-]

The silver from the begging of HPMOR seems unicorn blood. Eliezer said:

V’yy fgngr bhgevtug gung ng gur raq bs gur fgbel Urezvbar pbzrf onpx nf na nyvpbea cevaprff.

Tvira havpbea oybbq vf nobhg ceriragvat qrngu, jr unir gur vaterqvragf sbe n zntvp evghny.

Tvira gur cebcurpvrf gung evghny vf cebonoyl tbvat gb unir n punapr bs qrfgeblvat gur jbeyq. V guvax vg cebonoyl qbrf.

Comment author: HungryHippo 16 December 2013 07:27:03PM *  2 points [-]

Two unrelated ideas:

Drain Hermionie's blood and fill her up again with unicorn blood. (Would that even work?)

Kill a dementor and use it to make a horcrux. (Does killing a dementor spilt your soul?)

Comment author: UnclGhost 15 December 2013 03:33:53AM *  2 points [-]

Silver seems to be a running theme for anti-death things (add the Silvery Slytherins and the Peverell crest to that list). Unicorn blood is a likely candidate, though. (Also, that bit you mentioned is probably worth rot13ing since it came from a source that he suggested not reading.)

Comment author: wobster109 03 April 2014 04:20:59PM 1 point [-]

I'm a bit bothered by Dumbledore's behavior in 101. He's supposed to be at least reasonably wise and reasonably cunning, with a dead brother and a room full of gravestones. He knows all about prioritizing people's lives. He's just had the first student fatality in 50 years, and now he almost had a second. So how could he possibly have taken Filch's side?

Comment author: Strangeattractor 11 February 2014 02:10:12AM *  1 point [-]

I think Harry might have been the one to secure Hermione's body. He managed to convince McGonagall to remove the restrictions on his time turner. He probably used the time turner right after he was allowed to be by himself in the room with Hermione's body. That would have given himself more time to think and act. He was also checking his wristwatch a lot, especially when he had to leave the room, and when he had interruptions.

In the scene where he convinces Dumbledore and the others that he doesn't have Hermione's body, we don't get very far inside Harry's head. It shows what he says and does, but not his thoughts. Also, he doesn't spend a lot of time speculating about where Hermione's body went, in later chapters.

I'm not sure where he would have put it though. Could he get out of Hogwarts to take her body elsewhere? Or is there a suitable place in the Hogwarts grounds where he could stash it? Would he have to keep visiting the body to renew the spell on her body to keep it cold, or could he figure out a muggle way to cool it, or a different magic way that didn't need to be renewed?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 11 January 2014 12:01:54PM 1 point [-]

Sorry if these questions are stupid, but with the long pauses betwen the chapters I find it difficult to remember what exactly happened.

1) What exactly is the puzzle we are trying to solve?

If I remember correctly, Eliezer wanted us to solve something before the story is finished. Which pretty much means now or never. I just don't know what exactly is the question. (Yeah, knowing the question is half of knowing the answer.) Who is Voldemort? Seems obvious that it's Quirrell. What should Harry do? What exactly is happening? What are the motivations of the main characters in the story? Who killed Narcissa Malfoy? Do we have a list of unanswered questions? How likely it is that answering them will provide a new view of the story, and will uncover some new possible strategy for Harry?

2) Does Dumbledore know or suspect that Quirrell = Voldemort?

I am not sure. At some moment it seems to me that yes: Dumbledore expects that Quirrell will cause some problems (e.g. when bringing a dementor). At some moments it seems to me that no: Dumbledore explains Harry that Voldemort should be killed without mercy at the first opportunity... and yet does nothing against Quirrell. I am specifically condused about the part (after Draco was attacked) when Dumbledore took the map and asked about "Tom Riddle". What did he know at that moment?

Also, I am disappointed that Dumbledore plays an idiot so successfully, that Harry actually treats him like an idiot. Thus two people who have best chance at defeating Voldermort, have trouble communicating.

Quirrell may have some blind sports about humans, but he is good at disrupting communication channels.

Comment author: EndlessStrategy 14 December 2013 12:48:35AM 1 point [-]

For what reason does Harry think Quirrell is applying false memory charms to everyone? What's wrong with what they saw?

Comment author: linkhyrule5 14 December 2013 01:05:25AM 6 points [-]

The last bit, from Draco's perspective, is the False Memory. If they had remembered what really happened they would've seen blindingly fast spellcasting, which implies ridiculously powerful wizard and would be dealt with very differently.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 13 December 2013 07:31:24PM *  1 point [-]

I'm just curious how Hagrid felt about his own role in Hermione's death. I'd wondered if I'd see evidence that he thought about it.

Perhaps his personal hero Dumbledore persuaded him it's none of his fault and that he'd acted reasonably.

Comment author: drethelin 13 December 2013 07:44:45PM 6 points [-]

What role? Standing in the way of an overly brave 11 year old who wants to go out and fight a troll is probably the morally correct action to take. If any other kid than Harry had done what he did, they would've died along with Hermione. (Well actually they probably never would've guessed to use a patronus to find her and thus been fine). It's not actually reasonable for humans to recognize another human as the player character and themselves as NPCs, much as eliezer would like the world to work that way.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 17 December 2013 02:18:59AM 4 points [-]

Harry was not looking to fight a troll, he was looking to save Hermione from the troll.

Harry Potter spoke again. “We’re not going to fight the troll. ...
“Great, now can we also keep Hermione Granger safe? You know, the student framed for a murder she did not commit who needs someone to help her?”

Further, if Hagrid had authorized a 7th year to help, they could have followed Harry's plan of searching for Hermione and bringing her back with the most powerful wizard then available to aid and protect the search.

Hagrid could have had authorized 2 seventh years ride the broom, giving ample power to ward off a troll and protecting the supposedly helpless Harry at the same time.

Hagrid clearly prevented effective aid from riding to Hermione's rescue, and he was the first "responsible adult" to know that she was missing. He is more responsible for the outcome than anyone but the Troll and the attacker using the troll.