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There are many ways to control a city. For example you can take the lead using militar power. But let's pretend one wants to control a city plotting in the shadows. How could it be done?

Easier case: If someone would have the capacity to cast a spell to erase people memories and have them tell the truth on everything would it be easier. But how could you use these two things at your advantage?

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  • $\begingroup$ There are many ways to do that. And the best from your perspective might not be the best from mine. Usually on SE, asking for the "best something" is not a good approach, as it tends to generate very opinion-based discussion (and answer). I'd recommend to read the tour and the help center. $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Oct 26 '16 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ Also note that including magic changes significantly the scope of the answer. So you should clarify what kind of world you have in mind, rough explanations about the magic system, and so on. $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Oct 26 '16 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest a refinement of the question to something of "control a city to do x" as the the best way to control a city is to appease, stupify, or scare the people to the point they won't revolt which isn't very useful. That being said "best" is not too broad or opinion based as there is only 1 best way to do anything and it is objective, but I would still prefer a rephrasing of the question to give"best way to control people to do what". $\endgroup$ – Durakken Oct 26 '16 at 14:36
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Use the truth-compelling magic to find out where all the bodies are buried, figuratively and literally. Use the memory-erasing magic to make them forget that you asked. Armed with that knowledge, try to take control of the second-strongest faction of the city and lead them to power.

The new prince or mayor would know you from the (brief but intense) struggle, and he would know that your advice is usually effective, even if it sounds weird. Only a really savvy political analyst would have known which lieutenant of the old prince could be won over, or which project has the most scandalous bribes buried in the budget.

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You could plant a puppet as the city's leader.

  1. You pick a likely candidate to win the election/primogeniture who is not terribly clever.
  2. You approach this individual, befriend them, and slowly subvert them into your puppet.
  3. You help him become the city's leader and control the city through him.

Funnily enough, there is a possibility that something similar is already happening in Korea, without any super powers. You can read an article about it here: http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3025234

At the moment, one of the close associate with President Park, Choi, was found to be involved in a pretty severe financial scam with the government.

Funny thing is Choi's plot goes all the way back to her father and then-president Jung-Hee Park who happens to be current President Park's father.

The summary of what probably happened is this:

  1. Choi's father, a charismatic cult leader approached young Gun-Hee Park whilst she was grieving for her mother's assassination.
  2. As Park rose to power, Choi's family backed her both financially and psychologically. Choi befriended Park and became a life long companion.
  3. As Park became the president of South Korea, Choi became more actively involved in Park's life. Going so far as Park sending Choi his speech drafts for "editing."
  4. Choi becomes involved/masterminds a racket to pressure corporations to give "donations" and siphon the money to overseas.
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