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This is the thread for discussion of The Order of the Stick plot, characters, etc. We have a separate thread for discussing game rules and mechanics. Excessive rules discussions here may be thumped as off-topic.

OP edited to make this header - Fighteer

edited 18th Sep '17 1:08:08 PM by Fighteer

Millership from Kazakhstan
Nov 7th 2018 at 6:13:36 AM

[nja]I think there was a panel that showed the Oracle making several appointments with a cleric to raise him, so he is probably used to being killed by his clients.

He also established the Lickmyorangeballshalfling village a week before Belkar killed him, so he knew exactly how the encounter would end.

Edited by Millership on Nov 7th 2018 at 8:14:02 PM

Cognition of infinity takes infinite time to accomplish. Thus, it doesn't really matter whether you study or not.
Fighteer Geronimo! from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Nov 7th 2018 at 6:18:45 AM

Indeed. The Oracle is characterized like someone who does indeed have the power of infallible prophecy, and who has become so jaded and bored by that fact that his main source of enjoyment in life is being as vague and annoying as possible. He resents supplicants and does everything in his power to mess with their expectations for the primary purpose of being a dick.

Edited by Fighteer on Nov 7th 2018 at 9:19:25 AM

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petersohn Forget the horror here from Earth, Solar System Relationship Status: Hiding
Forget the horror here
Nov 7th 2018 at 6:20:01 AM

The question is whether he had a choice in the matter or not. Say, could he have decided not to screw with Belkar in the first place and, say, say "no" instead, then Belkar wouldn't have killed him? Maybe he just found it funnier to screw with Belkar instead.

M84 Freedom is the right of all sentient beings Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Freedom is the right of all sentient beings
Nov 7th 2018 at 6:21:03 AM

I don't think he found that dagger in his guts particularly funny.

Disgusted, but not surprised
Fighteer Geronimo! from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Nov 7th 2018 at 6:30:07 AM

[up][up] He doesn't have that option. His Oracular power is absolute: that is, he sees what will happen, which includes the effect of any information he delivers to supplicants. It's kind of a paradox, but only if you spend a lot of time thinking about it from a deterministic perspective rather than a narrative one.

It's clear enough in his own words: the Oracle reads ahead in the story, which includes his own actions as well as those of others. He not only knows what other people will say and do; he knows what he will say and do.

In a weird way, he has the least agency of any character in the story.

Edited by Fighteer on Nov 7th 2018 at 9:30:39 AM

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M84 Freedom is the right of all sentient beings Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Freedom is the right of all sentient beings
Nov 7th 2018 at 6:35:23 AM

The dwarven clerics said it best.

"Tis' risky business screwing with prophecy."
"Aye, don't I know it."

Disgusted, but not surprised
petersohn Forget the horror here from Earth, Solar System Relationship Status: Hiding
Forget the horror here
Nov 7th 2018 at 7:11:42 AM

[up][up]Now this is exactly the kind of Fridge Logic I was hinting at previously.

TobiasDrake Always watching, never seen from Colorado, USA Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Always watching, never seen
Nov 7th 2018 at 7:14:44 AM

In a weird way, he has the least agency of any character in the story.

The omniscience conundrum. To know the future absolutely is to be powerless to change it, for if one can change the future then one can never know it absolutely.

Edited by TobiasDrake on Nov 7th 2018 at 8:15:18 AM

Drake's Razor: Never attribute to cold, dispassionate logic that which can be equally or better explained by emotional outburst.
M84 Freedom is the right of all sentient beings Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Freedom is the right of all sentient beings
Nov 7th 2018 at 7:22:02 AM

Unless you also have omnipotence as part of the package. Then you'd be able to change the future anyway because you're fucking omnipotent — causality and logical paradoxes can go screw themselves. Go ahead and make a sandwich so big even you can't eat it, and then eat it anyway and grab dessert.

Edited by M84 on Nov 7th 2018 at 11:22:56 PM

Disgusted, but not surprised
Nov 7th 2018 at 7:30:59 AM

My interpretation is that he's not able to lie in the answers to official questions — they're bound to be true by the same magical effect that makes them unaffected by the memory wipe — so he couldn't have said "no". The best option he had was to lie to Belkar afterwards and convince him that the "yes" had already come true. He made contingency plans just in case that didn't work.

DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Nov 7th 2018 at 8:18:38 AM

Imagine how awful it would be to know that you are a character in a story, powerless to change or determine any event, and that in a certain sense, neither you nor anyone else you know really exists.

I do not compromise—I synthesize.
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Nov 7th 2018 at 8:22:02 AM

Oh, but the author isnt in that dilemma, just the characters.

I do not compromise—I synthesize.
Millership from Kazakhstan
Nov 7th 2018 at 8:46:22 PM

I always figured the Oracle's precognition powers is an on-demand-only thing for some reason. Like, he can only see the future when he's asked and paid for it, since his powers come from his deity (there probably exists a contract of some sort between the deities).

That would allow him at least some amount of agency, though it contradicts that he always knows when he's about to get killed. What if he's asked about a thing that would only tangentially be connected to his own death and will not see it?

I also might have forgotten about the existence of a strip that rebukes this.

Cognition of infinity takes infinite time to accomplish. Thus, it doesn't really matter whether you study or not.
Nov 7th 2018 at 8:52:21 PM

The Oracle was making snide comments on Belkar's impending death long before anyone asked about it.

HeraldAlberich from Ohio Relationship Status: Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
Nov 7th 2018 at 8:54:32 PM

Every single thing the Oracle says is predicated on the idea that he sees the future all the time, whether he's in his Oracular Trance Thingy™ or not. He could understand Haley's cryptograms because he could look at future books and read the translation. He predicted Belkar's death during the first visit, and then made it Official during the second. He drops hints and acts superior in every line of dialogue because he Knows Things.

Edited by HeraldAlberich on Nov 7th 2018 at 11:55:41 AM

TobiasDrake Always watching, never seen from Colorado, USA Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Always watching, never seen
Nov 7th 2018 at 9:05:33 PM

The Oracle pretty clearly knows everything. The whole reason there's a magic field around the place that robs you of your memories of everything but your answer once you leave is to serve as a corrective measure against the unsolicited spoilers the Oracle is constantly dropping about people's lives.

Edited by TobiasDrake on Nov 7th 2018 at 10:06:13 AM

Drake's Razor: Never attribute to cold, dispassionate logic that which can be equally or better explained by emotional outburst.
petersohn Forget the horror here from Earth, Solar System Relationship Status: Hiding
Forget the horror here
Nov 7th 2018 at 11:53:26 PM

The trance is not needed for his precognition. Its purpose is to bypass the memory charm so that people will remember his official answers.

blkwhtrbbt The Dragon of the Eastern Sea from Doesn't take orders from Vladimir Putin Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
The Dragon of the Eastern Sea
Nov 8th 2018 at 6:56:26 AM

His powers were bestowed to him by Tiamat weren't they? Is this a case of Tiamat has that vision herself, or she can only bestow it on a loyal croney? I think that's the case with Apollo, isn't it? He doesn't have the sight, but the Oracle of Delphi sees the future with his power?

Say to the others who did not follow through You're still our brothers, and we will fight for you
Fighteer Geronimo! from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Nov 8th 2018 at 7:10:10 AM

Tiamat certainly hasn't demonstrated any spectacular powers of foresight in the comic; she was pretty pissed with the IFCC over the familicide event, for example.

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Kostya from Everywhere Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Nov 8th 2018 at 7:32:11 AM

Kind of odd when you think about it. The Oracle could have warned Tiamat what would happen since he clearly knew Darth V was going to be a thing. Of course then you'd wonder why Tiamat didn't intervene. On the other hand that would subvert the prophecy which seems impossible. Then that implies the Oracle didn't warn her because he didn't foresee that. And now I'm going cross eyed here.

Fighteer Geronimo! from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Nov 8th 2018 at 8:45:08 AM

The Oracle didn't warn her because he already knew he wasn't going to warn her. It's a bit balmy but the only way to stay sane about all of this is to realize what I said before: that the Oracle doesn't have any agency.

Taking a different approach, Tiamat did not come to the Oracle and ask, "Will someone genocide a quarter of my black dragons?" She had no way to anticipate such an event in order to frame it as a sensible question.

Edited by Fighteer on Nov 8th 2018 at 11:46:14 AM

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Kostya from Everywhere Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Nov 8th 2018 at 8:50:09 AM

The funniest aspect of this is that the Oracle evidently doesn't do certain things because he doesn't foresee himself doing them. Even if they're fully within his power. There's nothing actually stopping him from warning Tiamat. He just needs to send word to a cleric of hers and they can cast whatever spells are necessary. He could also choose to not be there on the day Belkar kills him but he doesn't.

Edited by Kostya on Nov 8th 2018 at 11:53:38 AM

blkwhtrbbt The Dragon of the Eastern Sea from Doesn't take orders from Vladimir Putin Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
The Dragon of the Eastern Sea
Nov 8th 2018 at 9:23:45 AM

He also has blind spots or moments he misses. Presumably he views events in real time so he can't see every moment ever.

Say to the others who did not follow through You're still our brothers, and we will fight for you
Nov 8th 2018 at 10:08:21 AM

There's no point in thinking too deeply on how the Oracle's powers work; the author himself has already admitted he regrets making them work the way they do.


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