History Main / ApparentlyPowerlessPuppetmaster

30th Jun '16 8:42:02 PM PaulA
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* Emperor Sarabian of Creator/DavidEddings' ''[[Literature/TheElenium Tamuli]]'': the entire court in Matherion was convinced he was either an utter dolt, a harmless fop, or a simple fool easily distracted by his silly hobbies. He reveals the truth to Ehlana, Sparhawk, and the others, and eventually proceeds to overthrow his own government, take proper control of the empire, single-handedly remove all the corrupt courtiers involved in a failed coup, and become a wise and effective ruler. And he has such a delightful time doing it.

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* Emperor Sarabian of Creator/DavidEddings' ''[[Literature/TheElenium Tamuli]]'': the ''Literature/TheTamuli''. The entire court in Matherion was convinced he was either an utter dolt, a harmless fop, or a simple fool easily distracted by his silly hobbies. He reveals the truth to Ehlana, Sparhawk, and the others, and eventually proceeds to overthrow his own government, take proper control of the empire, single-handedly remove all the corrupt courtiers involved in a failed coup, and become a wise and effective ruler. And he has such a delightful time doing it.
23rd May '16 4:49:36 PM MarkLungo
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** Lord Varys, the Master of Whisperers, is a lord only by courtesy (the title being applied to anyone who sits on the Small Council), not because he actually holds any lands or commands any men. As a commoner, a foreigner, and a eunuch, he's seldom viewed as a serious threat by the heads of the major Houses, and he has a way of [[VetinariJoBSecurity making himself indispensible]] to whatever party is currently in power, while secretly playing them all for his own ends.

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** Lord Varys, the Master of Whisperers, is a lord only by courtesy (the title being applied to anyone who sits on the Small Council), not because he actually holds any lands or commands any men. As a commoner, a foreigner, and a eunuch, he's seldom viewed as a serious threat by the heads of the major Houses, and he has a way of [[VetinariJoBSecurity [[VetinariJobSecurity making himself indispensible]] to whatever party is currently in power, while secretly playing them all for his own ends.



** This is nearly the mission statement and business plan of the [[NGOSuperpower Iron Bank of Braavos]]. Officially, they are mere usurers and market facilitators: wealthy, but without true political power of their own as many rulers judge these things based on land and vassals. And, that's just what they actually are... unless and until you cross them. Then you'll find your liquidity mysteriously hamstrung, while your opponents magically find financial support beyond their wildest dreams... if you're lucky; or, you simply suffer a sudden heart attack care of a Faceless Man if you're not so lucky. Smart rulers know that "they own us all, whether we know it or not" as Tywin Lannister says in [[Series/GameOfThrones the show]], but smart rulers are the exception, not the rule.
* In the ''[[Literature/TheMirrorOfHerDreams Mordant's Need]]'' novels by Stephen R. Donaldson, this is a trick used by [[spoiler:both King Joyse ''and'' Adept Havelock. In Joyse's case, he's spent years pretending to be completely senile to test his allies and lure all of his enemies out so they can be destroyed in a single decisive blow. In Havelock's case, while he really IS insane due to a magical accident, he has a number of moments of greater lucidity during which he can make his own moves and support Joyse's plans. Both work together quite effectively, with almost no one catching on until it's too late.]]

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** This is nearly the mission statement and business plan of the [[NGOSuperpower Iron Bank of Braavos]]. Officially, they are mere usurers and market facilitators: wealthy, but without true political power of their own as many rulers judge these things based on land and vassals. And, that's just what they actually are... unless and until you cross them. Then you'll find your liquidity mysteriously hamstrung, while your opponents magically find financial support beyond their wildest dreams... if you're lucky; or, you simply suffer a sudden heart attack care of a Faceless Man if you're not so lucky. Smart rulers know that "they own us all, whether we know it or not" as Tywin Lannister says in [[Series/GameOfThrones the show]], ''Series/GameOfThrones'', but smart rulers are the exception, not the rule.
* In the ''[[Literature/TheMirrorOfHerDreams Mordant's Need]]'' novels by Stephen R. Donaldson, this is a trick used by [[spoiler:both King Joyse ''and'' Adept Havelock. In Joyse's case, he's spent years pretending to be completely senile to test his allies and lure all of his enemies out so they can be destroyed in a single decisive blow. In Havelock's case, while he really IS ''is'' insane due to a magical accident, he has a number of moments of greater lucidity during which he can make his own moves and support Joyse's plans. Both work together quite effectively, with almost no one catching on until it's too late.]]



* ''Series/EarthFinalConflict'' has most everyone believing Ron Sandoval is in the back pocket of Taelon leader Zo'or, shackled by an [[RestrainingBolt alien implant]]. [[spoiler:The truth that Sandoval's "motivational imperative" hasn't been working since at least the top half of Season 2, he's playing ''every'' angle in the conflict (Taelons, Jaridians, human supporters, LaResistance) against one another, and he's letting Zo'or ''think'' (s)he's in charge so that Zo'or takes the fall when it all blows up.]]

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* ''Series/EarthFinalConflict'' has most everyone believing Ron Sandoval is in the back pocket of Taelon leader Zo'or, shackled by an [[RestrainingBolt alien implant]]. [[spoiler:The truth is that Sandoval's "motivational imperative" hasn't been working since at least the top half of Season 2, he's playing ''every'' angle in the conflict (Taelons, Jaridians, human supporters, LaResistance) against one another, and he's letting Zo'or ''think'' (s)he's in charge so that Zo'or takes the fall when it all blows up.]]



** His alternate timeline version introduced in ''Warlords of Draenor'' follows in the same vein spectacularly; even after Garrosh meddles with the timeline and convinces Grommash to throw Gul'dan to the dogs, Gul'dan manages to plot his escape and work behind the scenes, acting as if he's helplessly outmatched and on the run...only to reveal he was waiting for the Alliance and Horde to deal with the Iron Horde so he could sweep in and summon the Burning Legion, bringing their forces to Draenor en-masse and convincing the Iron Horde to throw their lot in with them as they did in the prime timeline.

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** His alternate timeline AlternateTimeline version introduced in ''Warlords of Draenor'' follows in the same vein spectacularly; even after Garrosh meddles with the timeline and convinces Grommash to throw Gul'dan to the dogs, Gul'dan manages to plot his escape and work behind the scenes, acting as if he's helplessly outmatched and on the run...only to reveal he was waiting for the Alliance and Horde to deal with the Iron Horde so he could sweep in and summon the Burning Legion, bringing their forces to Draenor en-masse and convincing the Iron Horde to throw their lot in with them as they did in the prime timeline.



* Boris III of Bulgaria is arguably this as when he rose to power he was the target of no less than two assassination attempts and a few years later was reduced to a puppet ruler by a military coup. He subsequently planned a counter-coup that placed him in sole control of Bulgaria. He then gave aid to Germany and with Nazi help got back territory previously lost in exchange for use of a single railway.
* UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga acted like an irresponsible fool from the moment he inherited his father's domain until his closest adviser committed seppuku in protest. He earned the epithet "Fool of Owari", but he had to in order to survive having several dozen powerful warlords surrounding his tiny fiefdom. The rest of Japan fell for it -- those who knew were either on his side or dead -- until the Battle of Okehazama, albeit that may have happened because of one of those warlords falling for it.

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* Boris III of Bulgaria UsefulNotes/{{Bulgaria}} is arguably this as when he rose to power he was the target of no less than two assassination attempts and a few years later was reduced to a puppet ruler by a military coup. He subsequently planned a counter-coup that placed him in sole control of Bulgaria. He then gave aid to Germany and with Nazi help got back territory previously lost in exchange for use of a single railway.
* UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga acted like an irresponsible fool from the moment he inherited his father's domain until his closest adviser committed seppuku in protest. He earned the epithet "Fool of Owari", but he had to in order to survive having several dozen powerful warlords surrounding his tiny fiefdom. The rest of Japan UsefulNotes/{{Japan}} fell for it -- those who knew were either on his side or dead -- until the Battle of Okehazama, albeit that may have happened because of one of those warlords falling for it.



* Current President of China Xi Jingping followed a pretty similar career path to Stalin. He entered the Communist Party at the bottom and spent most of his life carefully cultivating an image as a party loyalist and competent administrator, but also someone who was unambitious, cautious and thoroughly bland, racking up seniority and influence until he was strong enough to make a play for the top. Apparently he was so good at being [[TheGenericGuy uncontroversial and forgettable]] that to this day people he worked with for years can barely remember him. When the Communist Party voted to put him in charge, probably assuming he would just sit quietly at his desk filling out paperwork, he immediately cast off the guise and starting purging his rivals, including the chief of China's security services. They never saw it coming.

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* Current President of China UsefulNotes/{{China}} Xi Jingping followed a pretty similar career path to Stalin. He entered the Communist Party at the bottom and spent most of his life carefully cultivating an image as a party loyalist and competent administrator, but also someone who was unambitious, cautious and thoroughly bland, racking up seniority and influence until he was strong enough to make a play for the top. Apparently he was so good at being [[TheGenericGuy uncontroversial and forgettable]] that to this day people he worked with for years can barely remember him. When the Communist Party voted to put him in charge, probably assuming he would just sit quietly at his desk filling out paperwork, he immediately cast off the guise and starting purging his rivals, including the chief of China's security services. They never saw it coming.
20th May '16 2:02:18 PM MarkLungo
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15th May '16 2:10:17 AM Doug86
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* Creator/AAPessimal's ''{{Discworld}}'' fic '''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7158148/1/The-Beginning The Beginning]]''' deals with a very young Lord Vetinari consolidating his position right at the start of his rule, carefully giving the impression he is nothing more than a grossly fat youth who is bored with the fine details of running a city. But carefully cultivated surface impressions deceive...

to:

* Creator/AAPessimal's ''{{Discworld}}'' ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' fic '''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7158148/1/The-Beginning The Beginning]]''' deals with a very young Lord Vetinari consolidating his position right at the start of his rule, carefully giving the impression he is nothing more than a grossly fat youth who is bored with the fine details of running a city. But carefully cultivated surface impressions deceive...
13th May '16 6:08:08 PM WillBGood
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* On a smaller scale, this is how Creator/BillCosby describes fathers' use of ObfuscatingStupidity to make sure everything works out right in the end. All he wants is to sleep in, but his wife wants him to go down and cook breakfast for the kids. He instead gives in to their request for chocolate cake "[[InsaneTrollLogic since it has eggs, and wheat, and milk! That's nutrition]]!" Oh, and he needs a breakfasty drink, so they get grapefruit juice. And they sit around the table eating chocolate cake and listening to music and having a ball, at which point his wife comes down and "has a conniption fit" that sounds more like DemonicPossession. After she bellows in rage demanding to know why they're eating chocolate cake, his [[SarcasmMode honest]] children turn on him, saying he forced them to eat it. So his wife comes to the conclusion that he's utterly useless and can't be trusted with even the simplest task, makes a real breakfast herself, and sends him back to his room. "[[{{Unishment}} Which is where I wanted to be]] [[JustAsPlanned in the first place.]]" They are dumb, but they are not so dumb, indeed.

to:

* On a smaller scale, this is how Creator/BillCosby describes fathers' use of ObfuscatingStupidity to make sure everything works out right in the end. All he wants is to sleep in, but his wife wants him to go down and cook breakfast for the kids. He instead gives in to their request for chocolate cake "[[InsaneTrollLogic since it has eggs, and wheat, and milk! That's nutrition]]!" Oh, and he needs a breakfasty drink, so they get grapefruit juice. And they sit around the table eating chocolate cake and listening to music and having a ball, at which point his wife comes down and "has a conniption fit" that sounds more like DemonicPossession. After she bellows in rage demanding to know why they're eating chocolate cake, his [[SarcasmMode honest]] children turn on him, saying he forced them to eat it. So his wife comes to the conclusion that he's utterly useless and can't be trusted with even the simplest task, makes a real breakfast herself, and sends him back to his room. "[[{{Unishment}} Which is where I wanted to be]] [[JustAsPlanned in the first place.]]" They are dumb, but they are not so dumb, indeed.
29th Apr '16 4:04:45 PM AgProv
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* Creator/AAPessimal's ''{{Discworld}}'' fic '''[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7158148/1/The-Beginning The Beginning]]''' deals with a very young Lord Vetinari consolidating his position right at the start of his rule, carefully giving the impression he is nothing more than a grossly fat youth who is bored with the fine details of running a city. But carefully cultivated surface impressions deceive...

to:

* Creator/AAPessimal's ''{{Discworld}}'' fic '''[https://www.'''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7158148/1/The-Beginning The Beginning]]''' deals with a very young Lord Vetinari consolidating his position right at the start of his rule, carefully giving the impression he is nothing more than a grossly fat youth who is bored with the fine details of running a city. But carefully cultivated surface impressions deceive...
29th Apr '16 4:03:25 PM AgProv
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Added DiffLines:

* Creator/AAPessimal's ''{{Discworld}}'' fic '''[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7158148/1/The-Beginning The Beginning]]''' deals with a very young Lord Vetinari consolidating his position right at the start of his rule, carefully giving the impression he is nothing more than a grossly fat youth who is bored with the fine details of running a city. But carefully cultivated surface impressions deceive...
24th Apr '16 8:44:31 AM Euodiachloris
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** This is nearly the mission statement and business plan of the Iron Bank of Braavos. Officially, they are mere usurers and market facilitators: wealthy, but without true financial or political power of their own. And, that's just what they actually are... unless and until you cross them. Then you'll find your liquidity mysteriously hamstrung, while your opponents magically find financial support beyond their wildest dreams if you're lucky; or, you simply suffer a sudden heart attack care of a Faceless Man if you're not so lucky. Smart rulers know that "they own us all, whether we know it or not" as Tywin Lannister says in [[Series/GameOfThrones the show]], but smart rulers are the exception, not the rule.

to:

** This is nearly the mission statement and business plan of the [[NGOSuperpower Iron Bank of Braavos. Braavos]]. Officially, they are mere usurers and market facilitators: wealthy, but without true financial or political power of their own.own as many rulers judge these things based on land and vassals. And, that's just what they actually are... unless and until you cross them. Then you'll find your liquidity mysteriously hamstrung, while your opponents magically find financial support beyond their wildest dreams dreams... if you're lucky; or, you simply suffer a sudden heart attack care of a Faceless Man if you're not so lucky. Smart rulers know that "they own us all, whether we know it or not" as Tywin Lannister says in [[Series/GameOfThrones the show]], but smart rulers are the exception, not the rule.
10th Apr '16 6:54:10 PM FordPrefect
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* On a smaller scale, this is how Creator/BillCosby describes fathers' use of ObfuscatingStupidity to make sure everything works out right in the end. All he wants is to sleep in, but his wife wants him to go down and cook breakfast for the kids. He instead gives in to their request for chocolate cake "[[InsaneTrollLogic since it has eggs, and wheat, and milk! That's nutrition]]!" Oh, and he needs a breakfasty drink, so they get grapefruit juice. And they sit around the table eating chocolate cake and listening to music and having a ball, at which point his wife comes down and "has a conniption fit" that sounds more like DemonicPossession. After she bellows in rage demanding to know why they're eating chocolate cake, his [[SarcasmMode honest]] children turn on him, saying he forced them to eat it. So his wife comes to the conclusion that he's utterly useless and can't be trusted with even the simplest task, makes a real breakfast herself, and sends him back to his room. "[[JustAsPlanned Which is where I wanted to be in the first place.]]" They are dumb, but they are not so dumb, indeed.

to:

* On a smaller scale, this is how Creator/BillCosby describes fathers' use of ObfuscatingStupidity to make sure everything works out right in the end. All he wants is to sleep in, but his wife wants him to go down and cook breakfast for the kids. He instead gives in to their request for chocolate cake "[[InsaneTrollLogic since it has eggs, and wheat, and milk! That's nutrition]]!" Oh, and he needs a breakfasty drink, so they get grapefruit juice. And they sit around the table eating chocolate cake and listening to music and having a ball, at which point his wife comes down and "has a conniption fit" that sounds more like DemonicPossession. After she bellows in rage demanding to know why they're eating chocolate cake, his [[SarcasmMode honest]] children turn on him, saying he forced them to eat it. So his wife comes to the conclusion that he's utterly useless and can't be trusted with even the simplest task, makes a real breakfast herself, and sends him back to his room. "[[JustAsPlanned "[[{{Unishment}} Which is where I wanted to be be]] [[JustAsPlanned in the first place.]]" They are dumb, but they are not so dumb, indeed.
10th Apr '16 6:52:29 PM FordPrefect
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* UsefulNotes/JosefStalin was originally thought by most everyone to be extremely harmless in his early years in the Bolshevik Party. He eventually got himself put in charge of the Party's newspaper and given nearly unlimited control over the organizational side of the party. He used this influence to get himself promoted to General Secretary where he used this power to appoint centrists and people he had influence over (generally because he had dirt on them) to the party congress (which technically had power over the standing committee and politburo). He was elected to the leadership by those centrists and with the general approval of his potential rivlas, who thought that Stalin could be easily manipulated. They mistook his coarse, unrefined crudity and indifference to ideological principles or intellectual arguments for stupidity. More importantly, he didn't seem to have a 'real' powerbase like Mikhail Frunze's Red Army or 'Iron Felix' Dzherzhinsky's OGPU/NKGB. The joke ended around 1929 when, with Stalin no longer tolerating open dissent within the poliburo and Frunze and Dzherzhinsky dead of natural causes, people realized that he had become a defacto dictator. From then onward anyone who looked like opposition, or looked like thinking about looking like it, was killed or sent to break rocks in the Gulag. The rest is very bloody history.

to:

* UsefulNotes/JosefStalin was originally thought by most everyone to be extremely harmless in his early years in the Bolshevik Party. He eventually got himself put in charge of the Party's newspaper and given nearly unlimited control over the organizational side of the party. He used this influence to get himself promoted to General Secretary where he used this power to appoint centrists and people he had influence over (generally because he had dirt on them) to the party congress (which technically had power over the standing committee and politburo). He was elected to the leadership by those centrists and with the general approval of his potential rivlas, rivals, who thought that Stalin could be easily manipulated. They mistook his coarse, unrefined crudity and indifference to ideological principles or intellectual arguments for stupidity. More importantly, he didn't seem to have a 'real' powerbase power base like Mikhail Frunze's Red Army or 'Iron Felix' Dzherzhinsky's OGPU/NKGB. The joke ended around 1929 when, with Stalin no longer tolerating open dissent within the poliburo politburo and Frunze and Dzherzhinsky dead of natural causes, people realized that he had become a defacto de facto dictator. From then onward anyone who looked like opposition, or looked like thinking about looking like it, was killed or sent to break rocks in the Gulag. The rest is very bloody history.
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