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My setting involves a masquerade (though in this setting the term used is "The Veil of Ignorance") where numerous immortal humanoid beings live in secret amongst humanity as a 1-in-1000 minority. There is an independent immortal organization, known as the Veilkeepers, tasked with keeping humans from finding out about immortals, and with punishing those who endanger this secrecy.

Initially I thought this would mean that immortals would not have writing, photos, or any other sorts of physical documentation, as a lot of that would be catastrophic if it leaked, and forgetting where you put just one single photo of a blatantly-non-human friend, or maybe even just one incredibly suspect handwritten note, could have disastrous consequences for the Veil.

I recently came up with an interesting solution: There's a symbol the veilkeepers came up with, and they have used their memory-manipulating powers to program the entire human race to be absolutely incapable of finding anything marked or watermarked with the symbol to be even slightly interesting or worth their time.

The problem is that I swiftly realized that unless I make up some justifications for why you can't do certain things with this symbol, it is very decidedly a nuclear option that will kill a lot of potential sources of conflict and make it far too easy for certain villainous immortal groups to prey on humanity unhindered:

What exactly is stopping someone from taking a bedsheet, putting this "ignore this" symbol all over it, and then using it as an invisibility cloak, rendering humans incapable of noticing whoever is wearing it?

If I can't produce a compelling answer to this question, then not only does that kill a lot of potential plotlines about the difficulties of being a non-passing immortal species trying to live among humans, but it also means that humans would be 100% defenseless against any immortal who would try to do them harm.

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    $\begingroup$ Would dogs still try to bite an immortal hiding behind this sheet, or symbol has the same effect on animals as well? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jun 13 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander Animals are not affected by this. $\endgroup$ Jun 13 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ As an alternative, you could make people see it as conspiracy. Maybe it already works wonders. We shove vampires, werewolves, lizard people and a flat Earth into the realm of movies and conspiracies. The ones that do believe are ignored as crazies, proof as 'can be explained by science' or 'circumstantial' and real contact as furries, larpers or theatre. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 13 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ What happens if the information gets copied? There are still cases when an utterly uninteresting document is copied onto another medium. That poor intern in the dark corner of the local library archive, who got an especially boring old hand-written book to digitize, will still type the full content into a Word file without giving a damn about some extra dull symbol on the cover. $\endgroup$
    – Neinstein
    Jun 14 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ @DLosc - or the Somebody Else's Problem field. The Somebody Else's Problem field... relies on people's natural predisposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain. If Effrafax had painted the mountain pink and erected a cheap and simple Somebody Else’s Problem field on it, then people would have walked past the mountain, round it, even over it, and simply never have noticed that the thing was there. $\endgroup$
    – Spratty
    Jun 14 at 13:33

19 Answers 19

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Humans cannot ignore the elephant in the room

Instead of an actual "elephant" it is somebody wrapped in a sheet. It is just too conspicuous. The symbol works on smaller items because they can more easily avoid notice.

A human's mind just "glosses over" the piece of paper or other small and mundane items. However, a large (human-sized) and moving thing is just too much to just avoid notice.

As a consequence, this also means that not all items would be easy to hide. They would still need to not attract attention. Maybe a letter, maybe a pendant. Anything normal looking and probably not out of place. A letter put on top of a skull is probably too conspicuous. Same if the skull itself was stamped - if you put it in the middle of an ordinary living room it still attracts attention. It might slip notice more in a mausoleum.

This not only ensures the rune is not "too powerful" but still presents story opportunities - even stamped items are not completely invisible. In fact, a human might pick a rune-stamped letter along with a stack of other letters without realising it. If those letters are examined somewhere, the rune might not be able to prevent focused scrutiny.

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    $\begingroup$ to put it another way if you put the symbol on a hammer no one will notice the hammer sitting on a table but they will notice it if you start swinging it at them. the symbol doesn't work if you force it in to the center of their attention. I love it. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 13 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ In other words, the opposite of a Somebody Else's Problem field (which only works on things that are conspicuous and inexplicable). $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Jun 14 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ @John: Or to put it another way - if the human walks past the table and accidentally knocks over the hammer, they'll notice that they couldn't notice what large thing fell and hit their foot. At some point, the absence of a thing where something should be will stand out - the Veilkeepers can't Content-Aware Fill reality. $\endgroup$ Jun 14 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ I would characterise this as a steepening of the "Perception Hill". Generally you can imagine perception as a smooth gradient of how interesting or important it is for you to look at it. The Rune makes that curve steeper. It takes a lot more for rune'd objects to become interesting enough to draw the person's attention, but it's not perfect. Anything that pushes hard enough will get further up the slope regardless of the rune's effects, and so the rune has limits. You need to remain sufficiently uninteresting to make use of it. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Jun 14 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ This sounds a lot like the Invisibility spell from the Lord Darcy stories. $\endgroup$ Jun 14 at 11:40
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Rune OP Nerf Pl0x

. . . the entire human race to be absolutely incapable of finding anything marked or watermarked with the symbol to be even slightly interesting or worth their time.

Your Rune of Ignore is too powerful. You need to make it less powerful to give your humans a chance. For example the rune:

  1. . . . causes memories of the marked object or person to fade at a rate convenient to the plot.

  2. . . . makes people "explain away" the target to an extent convenient to the plot. For example everyone thinks the person in the sheet is a ghost going to a fancy dress party. But the people chasing them before they put on the sheet continue chasing them.

  3. . . . makes the target less interesting. The vampire will not get odd glances. But people will still notice when they turn into a giant bat creature and soar into the sky.

  4. . . . has a cost or downside that means it cannot be used every day.

  5. . . . does not work on every human at once. You must specify the human target when you cast the rune.

  6. . . is obvious. I mean it obviously "does something". People find it hard to describe why the marked individual feels so different. But they are hard to pay attention to or remember. Every time I go to Dr. Ackula I have no recollection of what he said to me. But the appointment is still in my diary; I remember driving to the appointment and I remember driving back. And there is money missing from my wallet and I have this prescription in my coat pocket. Weird huh? The vampires cannot rely on the rune too much. Otherwise people will catch on there is some secret group of people out there. People who are hard to notice or remember. They just don't know the group is vampires.

I prefer options 1 and 6.

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  • $\begingroup$ #1 doesn't prevent someone to notice the marked thing, write a detailed diary entry or a letter about it without the marking, and then forget the thing. Unless the effect of the symbol is immediate, it's trivial to leak information to an unprotected medium. $\endgroup$
    – Neinstein
    Jun 14 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Neinstein That might be convenient to the plot. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jun 14 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ To other "edit reviewers" - I've seen the inclusive pronouns used in all sorts of ways. This is the first time that I believe they've (they's ?) been applied correctly. Approve edit. $\endgroup$ Jun 14 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ 1 and 6 sound a lot like the Silence from Dr. Who. $\endgroup$ Jun 15 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ @CharlesStaats Sounds like whoever wrote Dr Who is almost as smart as I am! $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jun 15 at 9:41
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It only works on part of vision involved in interpretation:

Your mark only has an affect on what people look at, and specifically how they interpret it. It's easy to ignore the image on a picture, but a person still sees that it is paper. They might even see color and think it a decoration. A note is a note, but you can't read it and don't really care what it says. If you are really determined, you stare at it and decide it must be written in a foreign language. A deep look at a picture, and you decide it must be a tiny painting of a monster (kids and their game cards...). A linguist decides it is gibberish scribbled on a page. The paper can still be touched, perfume on the note still smells. crinkle it, and it still makes noise.

An immortal determined to secretly communicate with mortals could encode a message in braille, and the note with the runes on it could still be read. For that matter, a blind person would have no influence on them whatsoever and "see" through the masquerade. But who cares if a blind person can perceive something they are unable to look at anyway?

It may also work like a perception filter around people. Their higher brain functions don't see that you're a monster, but people get upset when you're around, and instinctively people fear the presence of predators that they CAN see, but struggle to pay attention to. Such a cloak might work okay at a distance, but up close people start freaking out and have fight-or-flight responses.

WARNING: Your tool is dangerous around technology. Sure, you can't pay attention to the message, but a computer can. In a world of computers and fancy electronic imaging, your detector sees a thermal image of a person. Is the rune in infrared? A camera is pixelated and the veil mark is messed up - crap, where did that hideous monster come from? Yetis, reptoids, and ghosts would keep showing up in grainy photos and videos. A document is placed on a scanner that translates images into text. Uh, guys, I'm looking at this book, but do you see what the computer is detecting?

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It only impacts long term memory.

I'm sure I've seen exactly this plot device used before, though I can't think where. Dr. Who, maybe?? There are insidious beings but the second they are out of sight you completely forget about your interactions with them. You can literally turn to run and the second you turn around you're like "Wait, what was I doing?"

However, while you see them, your interactions are perfectly normal. You could put on the bedsheet with the symbol on it and try to sneak into a facility but the security guards would absolutely see you and react accordingly. "Oi, you in the bedsheet, what kinda game you trying to pull here."

Of course, once out of sight, they would forget about the interaction, but it does make abuse of the symbol tricky and dangerous. If the guard grabs the sheet, crumpling it (and therefore the symbol) he might well experience a very strange sensation of "who are you", "where did you come from", "why am I holding this sheet", but you'd still be caught. Also, eventually the humans would realize something is up if something with the symbol ever came into their possession, which is probably one of the main jobs of the veilkeepers: to make sure if humans ever actually obtain something with the symbol on it, that the veilkeepers show up and remove it before things get too suspicious.

(Some thief finds a box with the symbol on it. He picks it up and tucks it under his arm. He forgets about it, because of the symbol, but "wait, where'd this box come from?" Shrugging, he takes it to his car and puts it in the trunk, where he sees the symbol again and forgets about it. "What was I doing here with my trunk open? Oh well, guess I'll head home." Later he opens the trunk and finds the box again. "Where'd this come from? I'll take it inside and check it out." Eventually he'd probably make some progress but it would be slow since he forgets about it every time he looks away from it. The veilkeepers need to show up to collect the box.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Not quite the second they go out of sight; “short term” memory is 15-30 seconds, which should be enough to keep the plot interesting. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jun 14 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ You're thinking of the Silence aliens in Doctor Who $\endgroup$
    – ojchase
    Jun 14 at 19:34
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As you said it makes people find the object uninteresting, but not actually invisible.

This works perfectly on small innocuous things like a piece of paper. Larger things like a person have a problem though; the fact that there is a person-sized object blocking my line of sight could be interesting in itself, even if the actual object is uninteresting.

This means that covering yourself in the symbol would have varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the context. On a crowded street? Yeah, it's probably not very noticeable; there are loads of person-sized objects you're more-or-less ignoring anyway.

However what if I'm supposedly alone in my home? I would sure as hell notice a person-sized object that I don't recognise moving around my house; even if I somehow found the person boring and beneath notice, the fact that there is another person there is itself extremely interesting! This would probably be an extremely weird experience, and my exact behaviour might be difficult to predict. But the symbol-covered immortal certainly isn't going to be able to bank on their presence just never being detected at all (even if it perhaps sometimes works close to that way - I can imagine that If I knew there were or could be other people at home and such an immortal walked through my line of sight I would brush it off as just having seen someone I expected to be there).

If this happens a lot then people are going to start noticing that "weird people you can't properly get a clear look at or remember" is a real phenomenon and investigate it.

This logic seems like it would apply to your original intended use of the symbol fairly well, too. If one piece of paper amongst several has the symbol, then sure, nobody is going to bother to look at it to see what it says. But if you tape a marked piece of paper to a window, someone looking out the window is still going to notice there's something blocking the window! Even a book sitting on a desk might be too boring to read, but not completely invisible; you'd throw it out or put it on a shelf if you were cleaning the desk.

So in my opinion, you can use the symbol functioning exactly as you described here with no further watering down, and immortals still couldn't safely use it as a cloak of invisibility. It's just a matter of making sure you frame the audience's expectations (and remember to consistently treat the symbol as causing the object itself to seem uninteresting, rather than the fact that there is anything there at all).

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The symbol needs to be entirely visible for it to work. On sheets of paper, on walls, doors, license plates, &c. this works fine, but on bed sheets the draping and movement will obscure parts of the symbol and prevent most observers from being affected by it.

This also means that, say, at the moment an ignorant git covers up the big plaque with the symbol on the door to the Veilkeepers' Underground Gym with an ad for glamours, the entire organization is at risk.

It's like The Funniest Joke in the World. If you don't read it in its entirety, you're completely fine.

enter image description here
He's (not) seeing it!

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It only works on inanimate objects

You can put the symbol on a building, or a secret document, or a "hidden" doorway, and no one will notice. They'll see it, but as you describe, it just won't register in their mind and they'll never pay attention. It blends in with the background.

But the human eye tracks movement. If something is moving, you can't help but see it. A person in bedsheet coming at you or running away it is going to look too strange to ignore, no matter how many sigils you put on it. That does mean that a person could hide behind the bedsheet in a room and not be noticed, but they will have to be very still, and very quiet, and hope no animals come sniffing around to give the game away (dogs can't read symbols, so can't be fooled!). If they so much as twitch, they will be noticed, and then have to answer some uncomfortable questions about what they are doing and what the bedsheet is all about.

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It gets less effective the more you see it

The first time a human's brain sees the rune, the memory just vanishes, edited out completely. The second time, a glimmer that something wierd happens stays in the mind of the subject. The third, they might remember something like bright lights, a an erie feeling , something akin to people's descriptions of hauntings or being abducted by aliens. The memories don't vanish, they're simply repressed by the human.

Eventually, however, it stops working. The memories come flooding back. If you're unlucky, you get just enough exposures that you know the things you've seen are real, but can't explain how. Haunted by the memories, and with no one around believing you, you tend to be treated as insane

Enough exposures, however, and it comes back with complete clarity - here is where the vampire hunters, the monster slayers come from - people who the veil has stopped working for, who can see the world behind it.

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The rune relates to the message, not the medium

The rune is not a special kind of physical object. It is a graphical symbol, forming part of the pictures and writing on a sheet of paper, a DVD, a cave wall, or whatever. And in turn, it only affects the text and images it accompanies. The paper, the disk, the wall are perceived as normal, but they don't appear to convey any information of interest. (There might also be an audible form of the rune with analogous effects.)

Likewise, an immortal roaming in a runic sheet will appear to be someone going around under a perfectly mundane sheet. No mortal will take the slightest interest in what might be written on the linen, if they notice it has any writing at all. But they will pay some attention to the person with the unusual fashion sense.

Stencil the rune on your car, and a witness can describe the vehicle well enough, but they won't get your number. Draw it on your arm, and people will still talk to you, but won't notice that embarrassing tattoo you got as a teenager. Put it on your suitcase, and the baggage handlers will probably send it to the wrong airport, but it won't stop security and customs wondering what's inside.

And you have to feel sorry for the poor mortal who picks up a veilkeeper's notebook bearing the rune, uses it to record their most important thoughts, and forgets them all.

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The sigil is very fragile.

Or otherwise only really works passively

Sure, humans have been conditioned to ignore the symbol, gets pushed into the background and the brain can't immediately process it. And that works great if it's something easily put out of mind, such as a paper that can be skipped, or a building that that fades into the background. But that only works at a glance, anything which continues to draw attention to itself quickly defeats the innate response.

What is to stop someone from wearing the sigil as a cloak? Not much. It might even work for a moment, maybe even longer if the wearer doesn't move and finds a spot where a large bedsheet ghost might not look out of place. But the bedsheet ghost (who's sigils aren't even legible from all angles) keeps re-insisting itself and eventually overpowers the symbol.

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  • $\begingroup$ alternative answer is that technology is suddenly defeating the sigil, in fact the supernatural community had enjoyed an unprecedented peace that is just now coming apart. Computer Vision (along with Machine Learning) seems to keep finding objects that don't exist, and documents that were blindly routinely scanned have distressing figures that can't be human verified but the machine is very confident about. $\endgroup$
    – Lintor
    Jun 13 at 14:36
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Humans want to destroy the symbol

Initially a human will ignore things with the symbol because it's sensible to avoid a minor issue. But the longer they look at it the more they hate it. A book with the symbol may quickly be thrown in the trash but if they look at the book too much then they'll burn it instead. An immortal wearing this symbol trying to run past a security checkpoint will be seen and stopped with excessive force. The humans will quickly decide to do everything they can to kill the intruder. Therefore, wearing this symbol is actually detrimental to stealth.

An object with the symbol will never be closely examined (documents won't be read). It can be used as a distraction. But it also means that if an immortal isn't careful, they'll lose their stuff. Objects can't be hidden in plain sight. An object must be hidden normally but still has the mark as a failsafe.

One advantage of this is that it's subtle. People might get suspicious over holes in memory, invisible objects, or side effects but if the thing is distasteful then that's just a normal opinion. No inconsistency and nothing suspicious. Advantage 2 is that humans will do the cleanup work automatically. Advantage 3 is that it prevents humans from discovering the symbol by accident. Since if they make a symbol that is too similar, they'll think "no, that's no good. I hate the way this looks" and come up with a different design.

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer is inspired by The Dresden Files #2 "Fool Moon" which has a potion that makes people ignore you. $\endgroup$
    – SkySpiral7
    Jun 16 at 0:53
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It works, but only at a snail's pace.

Human minds need to perceive the rune if it is to have the desired effect. Things moving too fast blurs the rune, and then the charm is dispelled.

You can use the rune as a invisibility cloak, but only if movement is done very, very slowly.

But the human brain easily recognizes patterns once they have been spotted once.

This happens because our brains are really good at making inferences.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/05/10-things-you-cant-unsee-and-what-that-says-about-your-brain/361335/

Meaning that once someone recognizes the rune, they will have a really hard time un-seeing the rune on the sheet, even if the speed of movement increases.

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    $\begingroup$ Cool idea, but the solution for immortal would be to simply flood mass media with the rune to make sure everyone recognizes it and can do so subconsiously. And now I'll spend the rest of the evening thinking it already happened and we are all programmed to ignore certain things... $\endgroup$ Jun 13 at 22:23
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The sigil makes you forget

Doctor Who described a similar phenomenon with the Silent. The idea isn't to make things invisible, but to make their existence impossible to remember: https://tardis.fandom.com/wiki/Silent

This would both allow your humans to react to dangerous situations while still keeping the immortals in the Veil.

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The symbol is very limited and more likely to cause a masquerade breach than to prevent it.

The symbol only works if it is legible. It will get you past the security guard, but dashcams, CCTV and other cheap compliance tech will make you look like a ghost by Louis Vuitton. People could also be too far away to discern the symbol, or simply hear your footsteps and the sound of breaking glass (and blast you with a shotgun through the door). If your target is important enough for the police to care, they may come to the conclusion that mind altering chemicals are involved, and the hunt is on.

You can't use the symbol to live the good life either, because making something uninteresting only works against people who are not paid to care. You could buy out a building and put your rune on every wall, but people working in urban planning know there is a building there, and they know it has electricity, so someone is going to want to come to your doom fortress and read the meter. If the rune makes them not want to do their job, they get fired and replaced with someone else whose first task is to come to your building and read the meter.

The symbol may need a redesign because it does not solve any immortal problems and only removes risk.

Immortal life is tough for reasons unrelated to being seen physically. Not having an identity makes it very hard to exist in society and you can't put your symbol into a database record on a government server. You will have to live in a squatted or condemned house, drive a junker car (make sure to never get into an accident) and steal your clothing. You can do these things without the symbol, it just makes you less likely to get caught.

And therein lies the problem with the symbol. It does one very specific thing, which is to stop anyone from arresting you. It is extremely easy to break the masquerade if you actually go out and try to have an adventure or live a proper life, but there are no consequences to doing so.

I would change how the symbol works entirely. Perhaps consider changing it to a name instead of a sigil, so it can be put into a database and the government will leave you alone. Names, especially unpronounceable 40 letter truenames, are harder to read off a bedsheet, so while the police may have trouble with the paperwork part of arresting you, they could most likely still shoot you. And because you could build up a life as an uninteresting person instead of having to live as a vagrant, you now have something meaningful to lose if you use the ultimate escape plan of hiding in a warded box for 50 years.

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The sigil DOESN'T make you forget

The sigil contains the command "ignore me." It works fine for things like documents, which offer no information if ignored, but doesn't keep you from actually seeing it. Things you'd notice without paying attention, such as aliens (immortals) ransacking the museum, are still seen peripherally but ignored.

However, even though you're forced to ignore it while the sigil is visible, you'd still remember later what you saw. It could be used to perform crimes without interference, but people would have enough memory of what they did see to pursue you later.

As such, it only works permanently on things which are unmemorable when ignored. Under interrogation, it would seem reasonable for someone to say they saw a document but didn't read it (unless it was a trained espionage agent), while it would bring attention if several people said they witnessed a murder but for some reason didn't intervene or even watch closely. If not getting caught is a priority, the utility of the sigil gets much more limited.

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It Works at a Price

Immortals, like the Greek gods, can't leave humans alone. They meddle all the time. Taking lovers, fathering kids, dropping hints and inspirations. The cleanup crew does all they can to erase the problem but they can't do it perfectly.

When the symbol is encountered, it creates internal conflict in the individual when they see a shiny but are being told "this is indeed NOT a shiny!". These sorts of cognitive conflicts get worse over time if there's a strong emotional reaction to what is hidden. If that's something like a child, the grail, an elixir of immortality or the face of the most beautiful immortal that ever lived, the person can end up obsessed to the point of insanity - unable to say what they are obsessed with but obsessed all the same.

For artists, that most beautiful face. For musicians, that most ineffable phrase of music.

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The effect is limited in power.

The conscious mind has a limited amount of computing power - it hasn't evolved to have more. Just to be able to function, it is essential that it restricts itself to a small subset of signals and information. There are lots of mechanisms to optimize, vet, whittle, and offload processing as far as possible.

This is why, for example, optical illusions exist. Some sets of stimuli are able to trick either the visual system, or the optical chiasma, or the visual cortex, etc., into believing something which they really shouldn't.

This is also why several afflictions exist where too little, too much, or the wrong kind of attention is paid on some specific stimuli, to a point which you'd believe absurd and utterly impossible (a very interesting read is Oliver Sack's The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat).

So, we have a "symbol" which actively triggers the Plateau Eyes effect (as it appears in A Gift from Earth by Larry Niven, or The Girl they Couldn't See by Laurence Dahners): whatever object it is affixed to is marked as "irrelevant" at the subconscious level. The mind tricks itself into ignoring whatever it is, and does so with all its usual tricks: you see a "blank" that is filled with something which should be there, and are actively disinterested in investigating; trying to force your attention on that area causes a cognitive dissonance that makes you fed up, cranky, anxious to do whatever else, and brings all sorts of things to your mind that you should rather do, like procrastination on steroids.

As soon as you avert your gaze, the limbic system kicks in and you forget whatever you saw, then also forget you've forgotten. There are already mechanisms in place to do all this, and as far as it is known, they've been working for hundreds of thousands of years.

On the other hand, this effect is not omnipotent. If the stimulus is enough to overcome the "attention barrier" and/or engage some other equally powerful mechanism - it could be the sexual drive or the fight-or-flight reflex, or some phobia that's rooted in the latter - then it will enter the "working" consciousness, and at that point there's the very real risk that someone might overcome the conditioning altogether.

For example, it is possible to trick even the proprioception mechanisms into feeling (or not feeling) what they should; but if someone puts their mind to it, the effect is shattered. When excited enough, there's anecdotical evidence of people resisting even the impulse of shirking from a flame and enduring severe burns.

So, while the "don't look" symbol is useful, it mustn't be abused - probably, the immortals have to police themselves in order to avoid exactly such abuse.

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Better Avoid That Spooky Mansion

Your symbol might have been intended to make things forgettable, and for small or mundane objects it works as intended, but the larger and more attention-grabbing the item that's marked is the more power it takes to divert that attention. At a certain point the additional power leads to "creepy" feelings in the humans it affects, caused by the conflict between natural curiosity and magical deflection. This magical fear can vary between creeping dread to full on terror depending on how much energy is needed to divert attention.

Narratively, this helps explain things like haunted houses or spooky images or anything else in that vein. Why do kids feel creeped out when they see that one abandoned house at the end of the street? Because the immortal who is staying there has to up the power output of his deflection rune to keep those curious kids from breaking in and trashing his home. Why do some old pictures look normal but still make you feel on edge? Because the rune only needs a little power to make you forget specific details about the image that would give away the masquerade.

You can decide whether the creepy factor is an intended function of the deflection symbol or something that just happens. You could even make a case for the rune always having a fear effect as part of its functionality. Minor uses would just have a mild discomfort along with the forgetfulness, to discourage people from wanting to investigate again later. Larger uses would cause stronger fear effects to achieve the same result, keeping people away from the thing that you want ignored.

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Affects short term memory only, and makes content boring.

It's only effective for a very short time, but it makes any text around it seem really boring and retards the transfer of short term to long term memory. If a person spends more then a half dozen seconds examining it it'll have a chance to process into long term memory. At the start and end of each paragraph in text, or on a sign meant for immortals only this is enough. On a bed sheet draped around a person walking around it only makes the text on the bed sheet seem boring, the human would ignore the text and look at the larger picture.

Additionally, it's worth noting that people have to read it for it to work. I work in a library, and let me tell you, no one reads anything. Sometimes it feels like we're printing a SEP field on signs as is. Just keep in mind, for your rune to be effective it has to be read, and if something wacky is going on people probably won't be paying attention to the prints on the sheet.

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