D&D.Sci III: Mancer Matchups
Note: While not exactly *bad*, I believe—and the upvotes confirm—that this is my weakest D&D.Sci challenge by a considerable margin. If you’re currently working through the archive, I’d recommend playing everything else before resorting to this one.
The voice that greets you from the darkness outside the summoning circle is low, gravelly, and – in your opinion – completely wasted on the polite and unthreatening tone its owner adopts.
“Hello there. First off, sorry if I interrupted anything by conjuring you like this. I’m rather new to the whole consorting-with-demons thing, so if I was supposed to book an appointment then, ah, mea culpa.”
Upon meeting you, most mortals immediately launch into a list of demands. This is odd, but you must admit, it’s a nice change of pace.
“Second off, you should know that I can’t see or hear you. Probably paranoid, but you lot are supposed to be worryingly good with words, and I’d hate to be talked out of my soul because the alternative was having a conversation be a bit one-sided.”
Prudent, but then how does he expect you to-
“Third off, the reason you’re here. There’s a war on, and the good wizards – the Vitamancers, the Geomancers, the Cryomancer – are trying to stop the Pyromancers and Necromancers taking over this plane of existence. I’ve been keeping a record of who wins what fights under what circumstances, but whenever anyone tries to use it to strategize, they get accused of trying to allocate themselves the easy jobs and there’s a big argument and then we go back to picking targets based on, ah, other factors.”
There’s a pause as he telepathically transmits his record of wins and losses to you. You have time to approvingly note the anonymization – apparently mortals have finally learned to not share their true names with your kind – before he starts talking again.
“But for the next set of fights, it’s really rather urgent that we get as many wins as possible. So we decided to bring in an external consultant to impartially decide whom to send where, for this round in particular.”
Translation: ‘we decided summoning a demon and doing whatever it says would be easier and safer than trying to address our intra-faction conflicts; and after the current crisis is over, we plan to go back to our dysfunctional approach’. For all his cleverness and caution, your summoner doesn’t seem able to stop bleeding information; you wouldn’t be surprised if his records also gave away more than he realized.
“Our spies have been working overtime: we know where the enemy will attack, if we let them. We also know where they’ll be attacking from, so we can head them off by counterattacking there. My question to you: who should fight whom? And should they defend, or counter?”
Does he believe you’re obligated to answer accurately? You’d disabuse him of that notion, but you’ve found it more lucrative and entertaining to let mortals keep their false assumptions; also, his precautions prevent you from correcting him even if you wanted to.
“I’ll leave you our intel, and give you some time to think it over. When you make your decision, I’ve set it up so you can send us your marching orders. And, ah, nothing else.”
With that, he abruptly departs, leaving you alone with your thoughts and his records.
You could try to give him good advice. On the other hand, you could also try to give him the worst possible advice, to ensure he and his allies fail and suffer. You’re a demon, what did he expect? It might even be good for him in the long run: teaching him not to trust his summons, in the only way mortals ever seem to learn.
What will you do?
I’ll be posting an interactive letting you test your decision, along with an explanation of how I generated the dataset, at 11pm UTC Monday evening*. I’m giving you three days, but the task shouldn’t take more than a few hours; use Excel, R, Python, augury, or whatever other tools you think are appropriate. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the scenario.
If you want to investigate this collaboratively and/or call your decisions in advance, feel free to do so in the comments; however, please use spoiler tags when sharing inferences/strategies/decisions, so people intending to fly solo can look for clarifications without being spoiled.
*I know I originally said I’d resolve it Sunday, but I realized I should give people with weekend plans a chance to participate.