26
$\begingroup$

In the prosperous capital of the country where my story is set, undesired babies are discreetly abandoned in the darkest hours of the night on the front door of the guild of Truthers.

There, as everyone in the city knows, they will be taken care of and raised as guild members, provided that they do not know how to speak when abandoned.

Newcomers are given a potion to drink, the recipe of which is the best guarded secret of the realm, for no member of the guild knows the totality of the long list of steps that goes into its brewing. The effect, however, is known to everyone: for the rest of their lives, whenever they drink that potion again the skin of a Truther will turn permanently blue, if they lie during the next hour.

My questions are the following:

  • What role would the Truthers likely occupy in society? Obviously, they would make terrible spies or diplomats, but would powerful people seek their services for other purposes?
  • Are they celebrated? Disregarded? Feared?
  • Truthers who did lie at some point would obviously lose their advantage. What happens to them?

For the purpose of the question, you may assume the following:

  • The effect of the potion is only activated, if the Truther is not telling the truth as best as they know it. Omitting a detail by mistake is not a lie, as long as the intention was to tell the truth.
  • Although the potion is complicated to brew, it is not expensive.
  • Truthers are marked with the emblem of the guild early on: it is virtually impossible to have someone believe you're a Truther, if you are not one.
  • My story is rooted in medieval settings, with moderate magic interventions, but I am interested to know how the response to these question might change through time. Would the Truthers become obsolete at some point and why?
  • No known magic can revert the effect of turning blue.

EDIT: What makes an answer better than another?

I am really more interested in the second and third questions (what is Truther's social status? What happens to the blue ones?) than the first. I just think they can not be answered without the first. So an ideal answer elaborates on those points.

Hopefully, the answer would find a plausible balance between the privilege Truthers may acquire but also their weaknesses. Some important points to consider that I have thought have are

  • They can not allow themselves to be put in situation where they have to lie.
  • If entrusted with secrets, there is always the risk that they will be bound to reveal them in the future.

Perhaps such balance does not exist (i.e. the pros far outweigh the cons or vice versa).

Bonus point for any thoughts on how the answer changes in more modern settings. In a day where we can videotape us and each other, do we really need to pay human witnesses?

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Considering the potion is inexpensive, if it is distributed frequently for daily use -- such as determining if a truther merchant is trying to cheat you ... is there anything stopping someone from slipping the potion into the drinks of non-truthers? The first time nothing happens, but the second time has a high chance of turning the victim blue. $\endgroup$ – YoungJohn Nov 6 '18 at 20:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Obligatory Eragon reference (and, well, any series that has restrictions to only tell the truth). You will inevitably get people who say only things which are strictly true, but still lie. See the elves in Eragon, or this. Yes, I know you tried to say that can't happen. It will anyway. People who want to mislead will find a way around it. My first thought is a fake potion -- no one outside the guild can confirm it, and a two- or three-man con is pretty common. $\endgroup$ – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Nov 6 '18 at 23:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You may also want to look into the Quintaglio Ascention trilogy. The species in the series have a physiological quirk that they (effectively) blush any time they knowingly lie. It wears off after a few minutes, but seemed like a good resource to look at and see what that author did. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Nov 7 '18 at 15:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Does the potion trigger on factual error or on intent? What convinces people that the Truthers are actually drinking their potion, not just drinking dyed water and saying it's potion? $\endgroup$ – fectin - free Monica Nov 7 '18 at 19:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Perhaps those who turned blue could be called "Bluthers"? $\endgroup$ – James Bradbury Nov 8 '18 at 10:26

10 Answers 10

44
$\begingroup$

Eunuchs formed part of the highest bureaucracy of many Empires (e.g. the Byzantine Empire), occupying positions akin to a Prime Minister for the Emperor. Some parents castrated their sons so they would get a job in the government or become religious patriarchs.

The argument was usually that, since eunuchs couldn't have (natural) children, they would look for the good of the nation and not for their families.

Some of these eunuchs got incredibly wealthy but still they were despised. Most legal systems treated them nor as men or woman and sometimes they were slaves all their lives.

Your Truthers could be the same, trusted public servants of the king/emperor/whatever. The Truthers could be asked any moment about their work without fearing a lie. Imagine the relief a medieval king would have knowing the person managing the Treasury can't cheat him. Or the governor of a province.

The situation of the Truthers might be similar to the eunuchs: envied because they will occupy the highest places in the government, depised because they paid a great price for it. A Truther with the blue face would be seen as a fool who had only one function in life and he didn't fulfill it.

When the society advances, personal forms of government (like Monarchy) turn into groups (Parliaments). A very taxative system of employing workers (the Truthers), who could ask for a lot of money, would be disregarded in favor of a collective control of the government and the development of a press that keeps the public informed about the abuses comitted by that government.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I like your answer, but wouldn't it be dangerous for Truthers to know too much about the kingdom affairs? What if the vassals/allies/people of the kingdom ask for a question session in presence of the Truther, e.g. to make sure the treaties are being enforced? $\endgroup$ – Alexis Nov 6 '18 at 0:10
  • 33
    $\begingroup$ @Alexis "I'm not allowed to answer that". "I need to talk to the king before answering that question". These are not lies, but diplomacy. Duty to your king is the opposite of duty to foreign powers. $\endgroup$ – Alberto Yagos Nov 6 '18 at 1:21
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Some parents castrated their sons so they would get a job in the government or become religious patriarchs tangential but I wanted to mention that it was indeed a good deal according to the parents. They'd only castrate their sons if they already had several. So, if you have 4 boys already, you might not want to divide their inheritance in three. The youngest gets shipped off to the palace, so 1. parents have less expenses 2. better inheritance 3. the boy was still their son and could lobby for the family from within the power structure. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Nov 6 '18 at 9:57
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ It would be interesting to have a character who is a blue Truther, who is assumed to be an untrustworthy fool. Their lie remains a mystery until late in the story, where it turns out that they knowingly sacrificed their own reputation in order to save a loved one who would have been executed had the Truther testified against them. (Then how would lying have helped, given that the Truther then turned blue? IDK) $\endgroup$ – LarsH Nov 6 '18 at 22:29
  • 14
    $\begingroup$ @LarsH I'm thinking of a scenario where they said something untrue, but only slightly untrue, knowing they would turn blue and everyone would assume the statement was a blatant lie when in fact it was almost correct. Something like "<Suspect> stabbed <Victim> right in the heart!" while it was slightly above the heart might turn the Truther blue, and serve to convince the jury of the innocence of the suspect. I'm sure there are far better examples though. $\endgroup$ – EagleV_Attnam Nov 7 '18 at 11:14
48
$\begingroup$

Witnesses. Specifically for legal documents and contracts, or even blood oaths and what have you. As they can not lie, they are the most trustworthy person to use.

$\endgroup$
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ See also Notary $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Nov 6 '18 at 14:36
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ +1 Stranger in a Strange Land $\endgroup$ – Madcow Nov 6 '18 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Or as Trusted Communication Transfer systems. Sadly, not directly encryptable $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Nov 7 '18 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft But you can check for confidentiality by asking the truther if he has shared the information with anyone. $\endgroup$ – Falco Nov 8 '18 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Falco that's true, but by then it's too late - Carol has the info Alice meant only for Bob $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Nov 8 '18 at 12:45
29
$\begingroup$

Inspectors/auditors. They can't lie about not doing the job fairly, they can't lie about why they're being sent there, they can't lie about what they found, and there's no point threatening them or trying to bribe them because it would be trivial to find out if they were.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is the best answer. Basically video camera bloodbags. They have very low status for being just a Truther, cause they just sit and watch and snitch. I would imagine that every King and Lord would have flock of Truthers watching over the business affairs and workers. They would also have to have guards to guard the Truthers, since a low level worker would just as soon poke the Truther's eyes out. $\endgroup$ – Turtle1363 Nov 6 '18 at 19:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "I'm not allowed to answer that." Without lying, an inspector can certainly withhold the reason they were sent to investigate from the people being investigated. $\endgroup$ – Charlie Harding Nov 7 '18 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ @CharlieHarding "I'm not allowed to answer that." will only work if that is actually true. Of course there are ways to refuse to answer that are not lies( I refuse to answer now.), but 'Did Chancellor Bob send you?' and 'Is this a routine inspection?' would be harder to give a non-committal answer for without it being clear you are being non-committal. $\endgroup$ – Mr.Mindor Nov 7 '18 at 20:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It does seems though the main benefit though not be that they couldn't lie to the people being investigated, but that they couldn't lie to the people that were employing them. (What evidence does the target of the investigation have to believe the truther is currently on the serum?) $\endgroup$ – Mr.Mindor Nov 7 '18 at 20:35
21
$\begingroup$

There is a gigantic flaw in this scenario.

No one knows the full secret of the potion, so no single person can attest that it has been made correctly. If the potion is made wrong or a fake potion is used, the Truther can say whatever they want and they won't turn blue. So how can anyone know that the potion works, at all, ever? The only way you could completely trust a Truther's statement is if they attest to various things and then lie and turn blue, so that you know they did in fact take the real potion. Which means any Truther is only good for a single use.

Or, you would have to "dispose of" (turn blue) a single Truther to attest the effectiveness of every new batch of potion brewed. But that would only convince the people who were actually there to observe that the Truther:

  1. Did not ingest anything for the previous hour;
  2. Drank a sample of the potion out of a large container that does not contain subdivisions that might have something other than the potion in them;
  3. Attested to various facts;
  4. Deliberately told a lie and turned blue.

This would attest (a) the truth of whatever was stated in step 3 above and (b) the potency of the potion batch in that large container.

But if that container were taken out of sight between the public demonstration and any use of the potion, you could no longer trust its potency unless the person taking it also turned blue.

So really, there would be no effective fully trustworthy use of the potion without the Truther turning blue at the end of whatever attestation is made. This drastically changes the social dynamics at play. It also means that Truther services would be extremely expensive, since any Truther's services could only be used a single time. He could attest to many facts in a single hour, but that would be it for life. So this would be a service only paid for by kings or noblemen or such.


And then, further, they could only attest to facts that they know personally.

So I think every king and nobleman would have a non-blue Truther in their employ, simply to observe everything so the king or nobleman can, in some urgent moment of need, publicly exhibit the Truther and have him take the potion and attest to various things (e.g. to prove the nobleman's innocence in some political intrigue), and then deliberately lie and turn blue.

If the Truther lies too early in the demonstration and turns blue, then the nobleman is out of luck: no other Truther was present to observe the nobleman's activities at the time in question, so no other Truther can attest to his alibi.

Overall, for these reasons, I think the Truthers would only be marginally more useful than a trusted class of priests.


Blue (discarded) Truthers would be commoners with no special status. They're useless as Truthers at this point.

Actually, there is absolutely no reason why the Guild that makes the potion would ever take it personally. Rather, I think that they would not. It's only one-shot anyway, so why bother?

This also makes it much more convenient to test a batch of potion. Just give some to a prisoner and make him say something false, and then he turns blue so you know the potion is good. And then you can execute him since he was already a condemned prisoner.

Social status of the Guild would be extremely high. Secret knowledge always carries that type of status. (Of course, secret knowledge also eventually blows up in the faces of whoever tried to keep it secret, but that's another subject entirely.)

Social status of someone who takes the truth drug would be nothing special.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You have a very good point. The quality of the potion needs to be verified with certainty for the Truthers to have any value. It's not hard to imagine however that the potion properties (color, odor, viscosity, boiling temperature, reaction with other substances, etc.) are well known and can be tested without wasting a person. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Nov 6 '18 at 20:20
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I don't think this problem is as big as you make it. There would be a constant need for truther's potion throughout the country, and you simply wouldn't buy the potion from the person you are planning to question. If you are paranoid, you get it from a town further away, personally, and in disguise. Unless there is some direct connection between the truther selling the potion, and the truther you want to question, the potion will force the truth out of the truther. It suffices that the truther you are questioning believes that your potion may be good. $\endgroup$ – cmaster Nov 6 '18 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ @cmaster, but with distribution lines like that, anyone could take the potion, not just Truthers. $\endgroup$ – Wildcard Nov 6 '18 at 22:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Wildcard So what? The way I understood the becoming of a truther, it's necessary to take it as a child for the effect to set in. And even if it's not, most people won't want to touch that bloody potion that could so easily ruin their lives... The potion is worthless unless you want to administer it to a truther you want to question. $\endgroup$ – cmaster Nov 6 '18 at 23:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's even possible that just taking the potion suffices for most use cases (even if there's some risk of the potion being fake), but for truly important matters of state they perform the attestation then tell a deliberate lie as an extra precaution (presumably with a generous payment / pension for the truther involved). After all, sometimes you need more iron-clad certainty than others. $\endgroup$ – Adam Luchjenbroers Nov 8 '18 at 4:44
15
$\begingroup$

Secure Services

The Truthers are the only ones who cannot be spies because they can be given the potion and asked if they are spies. You can also exactly know what their intentions are to their employers... "Are you plotting to kill Lord Richmoney?" Oh, okay, I guess we can trust you then.

They would be valued in any number of professions where trusting another person is difficult. Here are a few examples:

  1. Merchant: "Is your markup on your goods less than 25%?", okay, I'll buy from you.
  2. Guard: "Have you accepted bribes, or been coerced?", okay, thanks for doing your job well.
  3. Maid: "Have you observed your mistress having inappropriate relations?", oh, good my wife has been faithful.
  4. Pirate: "Did you take any of the Captain's loot?", there's a good pirate!

The inherent trust that would be given to these truthers would make them very valuable to the people who employ them, and that value will keep the truthers from saying anything that would turn them blue because then they wouldn't be able to have that profession anymore.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ This is good, however where are these employers getting the potion from? $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Nov 6 '18 at 11:16
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ The Truther won't keep any potions. Everyone that ask a Truther has his own potion, since you cannot trust the truther if you don't know if it's the real truth potion $\endgroup$ – user55267 Nov 6 '18 at 11:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I approve that comment. In a system where the use of Truthers is as general as described by Mathaddict's answer, the guild would have to provide some secure trade of potion. That was my motivation to precise that the potion is not expensive in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Nov 6 '18 at 12:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alexis Also, the potion trade would be a nice, steady income for the Truther's guild. Raising all those children has to be paid for... $\endgroup$ – cmaster Nov 6 '18 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Truthers wouldn't want too many enemies. "Here take this potion. Ignore the skull and crossbones on the side, that is just decoration" $\endgroup$ – gmatht Nov 7 '18 at 1:53
5
$\begingroup$

They would be put in positions of power where it is hard to check if they have been abusing it.

So the King might hire a truther as for example a steward who oversees a critical project or a far off colony or area. He can then call this steward of the north, honourable lord in service of the King, give him a potion and ask him "well Greg, have you been doing bad stuff behind my back?".

But mainly people like merchants, bookkeepers, policemen, judges, referees and whatever else who might fall for a bribe, coercion or human weaknesses like lust and greed would likely be a truther to make sure they will be found out. If the truther does not have the requisite skills then still no problem as they can be asked to watch precedings and be in the presence of people that need to be kept an eye on, so they can still be asked questions about the others doings without being able to lie.

Anyone with a blue skin would be a pariah. They had something they risked getting blue for and outright lied for, or they might not have known they had gotten a drink and lied, something a truther should not do anyway. Although most would likely be punished if not executed after they are found out.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Just imagine a world in which politicians COULDN'T lie! almost brings a tear to the eye $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Nov 6 '18 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ People sought for positions of power by and large are required to be competent. Truthfulness is useful, but not paramount as there are other ways of checking lies. $\endgroup$ – Gnudiff Nov 8 '18 at 6:13
5
$\begingroup$

They would be negotiators.

The potion would be used at or towards the end of a negotiating session but before any of the parties have signed anything. To prove that the negotiator did not hide anything, is not being paid by one of the parties (aside from the fees all parties pay), and has no hidden agenda. To her/his knowledge, the contract/treaty/etc is the very best compromise for all parties.

People will respect them for being important officials who get paid well and do their job honorably. But unless that's an exception in your world, it won't really change their social status. No one outside the guild can get the drink (and even if they could, they'd never know if it was the real drink so it couldn't be trusted) and no one can force the truther to speak during that hour. So there's no real use for this other than for their job and occasionally if needed to testify in court or go before the ruler.

Blue-skinned truthers would of course lose their jobs (since they can't turn extra blue if they lie again later) and all the social status that goes with it. Just like anyone who really messes up, their spouses might leave them, their kids won't respect them, their parents might disown them. Or not. They will lose some friends. They will take a normal job without such high stakes work. And they'll settle into their new (lower-paid) reality.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But isn't lying an important part of negociations? Both sides may be aware that they are concealing information from each other, which doesn't mean an agreement can't be found. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Nov 6 '18 at 12:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Lying is common in negotiations. That doesn't make it helpful. If the truther takes the serum just before signing, she can attest that there is no relevant information left out of the discussions, to her knowledge. She can also prove that she does not favor one side over the other, which is probably far more important than if the parties told the truth (which they still may not have). The truth brew doesn't force the truther to answer any question put to her. It only makes her avoid stating anything she knows is a lie. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Nov 6 '18 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn, yes, she could refuse to answer questions, but the questions one chooses not to answer could tell you as much as the ones you do. "Have you ever murdered someone?" "No." "Have you ever raped someone?" "No." "Have you ever stolen from someone?" "...." "Okay then, have you stolen from me?" And if she doesn't answer any questions, the point of having someone there unable to lie successfully is meaningless. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Nov 6 '18 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexis Just because being able to lie and lying is more advantageous than being able to lie and not lying, it doesn't follow that being able to lie and lying is advantageous to not being able to lie. $\endgroup$ – Acccumulation Nov 6 '18 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ No, not really - then some important information would be simply withheld from them, and some false information would be told to them in a way they would believe it's true. $\endgroup$ – Headcrab Nov 7 '18 at 8:15
4
$\begingroup$

Lawyers

Provided your system of laws has an emphasis on finding the truth, it will be critically important to have a group of people who can be counted on to debate a case honestly, without fear or favor, representing each side to the best of their ability. If the "turning blue" also applies to hyperbole or rhetoric, even better. Knowing that they can't be bribed, intimidated, or otherwise coerced is already a big improvement on the real world. You might not even need a jury, since the judge is guaranteed to be impartial.

This will give them significant social status, much like lawyers in our world, as they will effectively be the arbiters of truth and justice. This is a lot of soft power. However, the impartiality requirement will keep them from exercising it much, especially as they will have to answer the standard "have you ever abused your position" at the start of each case, which means they can't directly do much.

This also means they won't all become hugely rich; because they have to be impartial and honest, this means there will be much less difference between them than lawyers in RL, to the point that they might even wear a mask during trials, because the focus is on the truth not the speaker. I can see this becoming a major cultural ritual.

Truthers who turn blue will have all of this social pressure turned against them. Ostracised, maybe even banished or killed, because they will have acted against society as a whole, and abused the trust of the community. There will be enormous stigma against them.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, have you ever watched "Liar, liar"? imdb.com/title/tt0119528 $\endgroup$ – Ister Nov 6 '18 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Ister That's pretty much the point - our legal system is designed to try and get the truth, DESPITE how strong the incentives are for people to lie. If you make the lawyers unable to lie, something like 90% of the legal rules will be totally different, and it will have a huge impact on every area of life. $\endgroup$ – Benubird Nov 6 '18 at 12:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Here's an immediate problem with lawyers: a lawyer is supposed to represent their client to the best of their ability, regardless of their private, personal opinion. Imagine the reaction in court if someone asked the lawyer if they thought their client (in a criminal or civil case, whether accuser or defendant) was in the wrong. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Nov 6 '18 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithMorrison Then they would say "I am legally required to refuse to answer that question". Just because they can't lie, doesn't mean they have to answer, and the law would certainly have provisions for this kind of questions. Like how the US has the 5th amendment. $\endgroup$ – Benubird Nov 7 '18 at 10:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As a Truther Lawyer would typically not have personally witnessed the events, all you can really do is ask them what their client said to them and whether or not the Truther believed them when they said that. Knowing this, guilty clients who are skilled at lying believably will be judged innocent -- they have no incentive to tell the truth to their lawyer. $\endgroup$ – Miral Nov 8 '18 at 5:44
4
$\begingroup$

Advisers

A person who is an adviser is supposed to judge things according to their best knowledge. Concealing anything undermines the sense of having an adviser but that's what happened ever to often in reality. People are afraid for various reasons (usually due to the power held by the one who asks - a king, , company manager etc.) to oppose someone in power. The Truthers risk more by lying since they'll lose everything they have - their ability and thus position (and as a result also money for living). I guess most people (at least in broadly understood European/Western culture countries) know the tale "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Andersen. The problem existed in past and still exists. Having a critic who is bound to tell the truth can give a totally unbiased second opinion - something of value hard to estimate.

Are they celebrated? Disregarded? Feared?

Well, I would say it will be a mix of reverence and fear. They bring a lot of value being source of reverence. But we fear truth. That's why people won't become Truthers voluntarily (not to mention potion price - see below).

Truthers who did lie at some point would obviously lose their advantage. What happens to them?

They will lose their status for sure as already explained above. Yet they might become useful for the guild. Since now they can lie, they may be granted access to the secret of potion brewing (of course part only). Of course not all and large part will know only the disguise version so that no-one can know for sure if the guild member knows the real part of recipe or a fake one. The member themselves won't know if they know a real or false recipe and will on many occasions take part in "brewing".

It might be that the actual brewers will lie voluntarily on a guild's request but only those innermost guild members will know this.

Would the Truthers become obsolete at some point and why?

No. On the contrary their service will be more and more sought. The second unbiased opinion is as valuable today as it was always but there are more areas in which you need them.

Side note

Although the potion is complicated to brew, it is not expensive

It may not be expensive to brew but since it is so secret and so useful it will be for sure expensive to buy. This way the Truthers' guild, which corners the market of the potion will be one of the wealthiest guilds.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This would also mean that the Truthers would have to be knowledgeable and wise in the field for which they are providing advice. I don't think merely the trait of honesty would immediately allow someone to be an adviser. $\endgroup$ – Turtle1363 Nov 6 '18 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ No but if that's their main profession you can imagine that the guild provides training to its young recruit. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Nov 6 '18 at 20:23
0
$\begingroup$

undesired babies are discreetly abandoned in the darkest hours of the night on the front door of the guild of Truthers.

There, as everyone in the city knows, they will be taken care of and raised as guild members, provided that they do not know how to speak when abandoned.

Newcomers are given a potion to drink, the recipe of which is the best guarded secret of the realm, for no member of the guild knows the totality of the long list of steps that goes into its brewing. The effect, however, is known to everyone: for the rest of their lives, whenever they drink that potion again the skin of a Truther will turn permanently blue if they lie during the next hour.

If the guild/realm holds the secrets for this potion, then any pronouncement by a truther requires trusting the people that prepared/provided the potion. All the people. And those who handled it after its preparation (although that can be mitigated by wax seals on the bottles). So any usage of such a potion would need everyone involved in the process to also be truthers and swear under its influence that they had prepared their portion/step correctly, and a truther who actually knows all the steps (or at least all the other truthers involved with the steps) to confirm that all the truthers swearing to the fact that their steps were correct are really all the people involved in its production. (Even that doesn't fully cut out sabotage, since it would allow an unknown infiltrator to potentially muddle the mixture without the knowledge of anyone involved.)

I recommend a two-potion system, where the first potion (which converts someone into a truther) is a carefully guarded secret, and the truther guildmaster annually swears publicly that it is compounded properly (as far as they know) under the influence of the second potion, which is just blueberries or something which can be easily obtained, but makes tampering obvious.

It still doesn't rule out sabotage or someone spiking a truther's drink with it (and would lead to truthers avoiding certain foods unless they were on the job), but it reduces the high amount of trust everyone would need in the truther's guild.

What role do the Truthers would likely occupy in society? Obviously they would make terrible spies or diplomats, but would powerful people seek their services for other purposes?

Are they celebrated? Disregarded? Feared?

Anyone who wants a verbal/witnessed contract made needs a truther on hand, so that nobody can say afterward "I was coerced into it!" or "my seal was stolen from me and put on that contract!" However, that truther needs to be kept 'pure' afterward by the interested parties. If a truther is a witness/notary for John Doe, John Doe really won't want that truther potentially going blue (by lying about a different incident/contract) as long as that truther's information would be necessary for him to prove. So for any John Doe that has a truther witness, it's within their best interests to keep that truther from witnessing any other cases/contracts/etc.

Because once that truther goes blue, the 'absolutely truthful' evidence John Doe was counting on disappears, since the truther can no longer be presumed truthful.

And anyone could spike a truther's drink with the potion, without their knowledge, and they might say a lie in the hour after that and go blue, rendering anything they'd witnessed worthless as evidence. So it would make sense to keep truthers who had witnessed something important under protective custody and heavy guard.

Truthers who did lie at some point would obviously lose their advantage. What happens to them?

Hopefully they can become regular commoner members of society, depending on the world. If everyone knows they were abandoned kids (so they didn't choose that life for themselves), while "so how'd you go blue?" is a reasonable question, it's not as if they are a cast-out noble or scholar or someone who worked their way up and threw everything out the window for a reason.

I think general populace feelings would be mixed about them.

I doubt commoners would encounter many non-blue truthers in their daily lives in the first place.

And if a truther was involved in an important deal, or was privy to secret information, I doubt they would get out alive after their usefulness expired by going blue, since the other info they have would still be valuable, even if unconfirmed.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ About your first part, I agree but please see Wildcard's answer and my comment to it. In a nutshell: this is important but there are workarounds. Yours is a good one too. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Nov 6 '18 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ It depends on whether the lie has to be intentional. I imagine they would be carefully trained to NEVER lie, potion or no. $\endgroup$ – Benubird Nov 8 '18 at 10:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.