Why Tyrion Lannister has the hacker mentality

Tyrion Lannister from the TV Series Game Of Thrones. Played by Peter Dinklage.

The world of Game Of Thrones is set in a deep fantasy setting where computers, phones and especially hacking are incomprehensible ideas. That being the case however, not all hacking is digital and the art of Social Engineering shines through within many of the characters in the Game Of Thrones setting. After all, for “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

So what is Social Engineering? Well Wikipedia refers to the topic as:

Social engineering, in the context of information security, refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. A type of confidence trick for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or system access, it differs from a traditional “con” in that it is often one of many steps in a more complex fraud scheme.

So in short what this means is that Social Engineering is a means for gaining information or access that previously you would have been unable to gain. Now how is this used in Game Of Thrones? Well we’ll be looking at one character specifically, that being Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion Lannister manages to go from a family that hates him to becoming a major player in the landscape of Game of Thrones. However now you’re asking yourself: “How does he do this?” Well, Social Engineering of course.

Throughout the books and TV shows Tyrion Lannister employs a series of techniques used by professionals in the Social Engineering space. Below we’ll be going through a few of these in detail.

Cold Reading:

An example of this is soon after he meets the character Bronn. Bronn is a sellsword who while travelling with Tyrion for only a short time says to Tyrion: “I should just take your food and leave you here. Hey. What would you do then?”. Tyrion responds with humor to attempt to defuse the situation and after it appears to not work he responds with: “What do you want Bronn? Gold? Women? Golden Women? Stick with me and you’ll have them all. For as long as i’m around and not a moment longer.” This attempt however does defuse the situation and leaves the viewer asking how Tyrion knew that this would have pleased Bronn. After all they’ve only had short interactions with each other up to this point.

There are two scenes prior to this where Tyrion has the chance to gauge Bronn’s aspirations. The first of these being where they have just fought off a tribe of bandits and Bronn says: “You need a woman, nothing like a woman after a fight.” From this Tyrion can assess that Bronn likes a good fight and of course, women. He does this via Cold Reading the situation.

There is another scene where Tyrion has been captured and is talking to his captives he says: “Word’s probably got to my father by now. He’ll be offering a handsome reward. Everyone knows a Lannister always pays his debts.” As he says this he notices Bronn’s expression changes on the mention of reward and debts. This gives Tyrion the knowledge that Bronn is inclined towards gold and wealth.

Instead of Cold Reading it is normally common for people to instead assume what people want or indeed tell them what they want. The takeaway from this is obvious, people don’t care what you want or think is fair and instead have their own goals and ambitions.


The next technique Tyrion uses is Listening. It’s as simple as that. People will tell you what they want. That is, if you let them.

There are many scenes where Tyrion implements such a technique. In one he is captured by a group of pirates. These pirates are prepared to kill him saying: “Worthless, cut his throat… then chop off his cock. We’ll sell it for a fortune. A dwarf’s cock has magic powers.” This isn’t looking good for Tyrion. However by just listening to the conversation he’s able to find out what they want, give it to them and keep his life. He does this by saying: “Wait, wait!.. You can’t just hand a dry cock to a merchant and expect him to pay for it. He has to know it came from a dwarf! And how could he know, unless he sees the dwarf?”  

This technique has been structured so that the captors get what they want while also allowing for Tyrion to get what he wants.

Asking Questions:

The final technique we’re going to look at that Tyrion uses to Socially Engineering conversions and manipulate others is by simply asking questions. This trait walks two and two with empathy. Empathy is a trait that will allow you to look at situations and circumstance from another’s point of view and will greatly enhance your ability in the ways of Social Engineering and manipulation.  This technique is as simple as it sounds and involves simply asking people about their past.

To finish this article off and keeping on the theme of asking questions who would you like to see an article on next?

Original Source: Charisma on Command

James Stevenson

Im a Cyber Security enthusiast that loves all things to do with technology. I'm specifically interested in cyber security and ethical hacking.

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