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[Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 10:49 am
by Alicorn
Minor backstory spoilers for a handful of Bells.

The overwhelming majority of Bells have a Charlie and a Renée for parents. Charlie and Renée are templates-proper, but are not either of them very context-dependent - Bell grandparents are often only template-cousins of each other (though the Earth ones would be most similar, allowing for variations like Stella needing to have room for Elias Frobisher in there and so on). Bells will have these standard parents even if one of them is going to die when the Bell is young (Rose, Etty, T'Mir) or if she's going to leave their presence when she's young (Aegis, Tab). However, in cases when a Bell's biological parents are totally irrelvant to her development from earliest infancy (e.g. Katie, Loki) or don't exist for the species (Promise) the biological parents are not Renée and Charlie instances at all. Inheritance of traits from the parent templates works causally, not metacausally. Loki doesn't have a Renée and Charlie anywhere, not even as frost giants who she's never met, but the template and its traits - wherever those traits normally sprout - are still operative in her; likewise Katie. An exception to this is Rapunzel, who per Tangled movie canon is collected from her parents as a baby and doesn't meet them during her entire upbringing but still has a Renée and a Charlie as her bioparents. Ara is also a weird case because she's a clone of Izzy, but Izzy's parents are typically parental to Izzy.

If I'm going to make a Bell something that is unusual and inherited, it will usually be from the Renée's side of the family (Amariah the witch, Angela the angel, Chi the airbender, Kiri the Ardelay, Maurabel the mage, Phix the sphinx, Mira's fairy godmother, Raven the half-blood witch) but this is not a guarantee (T'Mir's dad was the Vulcan; Lorica inherits her cape status from her dad) and if I'm making the Bell something that is not locally unusual, or wouldn't have shown up in the family before, it can be either (Clarity's dad is a unicorn like her and her mom is a pegasus; I haven't even decided which side of the family contributed Aurora and Lexi's mage genes). The ones who are born royal (rather than invented/adopted/married/ascended royalty) are Cymbeline and Rapunzel. In his case his mom was a princess and his dad was a knight who won her hand in some manner I have yet to specify. In Rapunzel's case her dad is the one who was locally royal all along but her mom was a foreign princess. If I have cause to make further prince(ss)ly Bells there is a weak attractor for the mom to be the source of the royalty if it's only one side of the family.

Now, in terms of the raw material that makes a Bell instance, let's break down what each parent supplies.

- Raw intellect, G-factor, sheer mental horsepower. Renées are very smart. They just don't have personalities which leads them to take advantage of this for more than short periods at a time - not enough attention span or ambition.
- Curiosity - again limited very much by attention span. It occurs to Renées to wonder, but not to put inconvenient effort into finding out.
- Relationship to native culture. Like Bells, Renées bear obvious stamps of where they grew up and the norms of those places, yet retain a balanced open attitude towards other cultures they encounter.
- Initiative and energy - the thing that lets them transition instantly from "it might be nice if" to "I could do this" to "doing this now". Limited again by attention span and ambition; Renées mostly use this to pick up new hobbies and travel.
- Creativity, imaginativeness, the streak of whimsy Bells materialize when encouraged by their environments.

- Methodical and careful habits of thought. In Charlies, this is limited by smarts (Charlies aren't stupid, but they're not as smart as Renées) and imagination (of which Charlies have little).
- Sticktoitiveness/persistence. The ability to keep showing up and working on the thing even if it's not endless fun.
- Unshakeable moral center. Renées aren't prone to immorality, but they run more on habit and innate niceness (Bells don't, mostly, have Renéelike innate social niceness; they have moral niceness) while Charlies run on principle, and Bells have the Charlie version.
- A thing I'm calling "recentering". Charlies don't do it unless they have to and will resist having to (whereas Bells will actively seek it), but if you force a Charlie to acknowledge that there's aliens or magic or other universes or otherwise things that are beyond his present comprehension, he will adjust, once, and then be OK with that.
- Civic responsibility; the feeling that there are things to be done for other people which you ought to do because you just plain ought.
- Introversion.

Personality traits that Bells have as a template that don't have an obvious parent source:
- Intense introspection as a core drive, esp. via recording of thoughts in an outside medium
- Taking moral center to logical, extreme, culturally unusual conclusions e.g. anti-deathism
- Self-centered attitude (both parents are only fairly ordinary amounts of self-centered, Renée more than Charlie but not this much)
- Intrinsic desire for arbitrary amounts of power (the civic responsibility thing taken to its logical conclusion does not fully explain this aspect of Bells)
- Sarcastic and flippant tendencies
- Intense attachment to romantic partners of choice once selected (Renées obviously don't have this; Charlies don't have it this much, or the standard version would try to move with Renée when she evinced a desire to leave because Forks is boring)

For comparison, the Bellsiblings:

Alexes are, like Bells, pretty mixy, but it's a less potent trait combination. They have Renée-sourced creativity, extroversion, and cognitive carelessness, Charlieish "recentering" traits without the Charlieish active resistance to making the transition, Charlie's tendency to satisfice instead of iterating or optimizing, Charlie's emotional reserve, a medium-sized attention span, modest intellects, sporadic initiative, and the Charlie ability to put another person unqualifiedly first (though their ability to also happily substitute a Bell's judgment for theirs is all their own; they have kind of limited doses of both social and moral niceness and find it easier to work with a readily-available supply that happens to reside in someone else).

Sophs are mostly like Renées with better attention spans, less G-factor, more initiative, and Charlie's ability to be a good listener when called upon. (Typically, Alexes do better in school than Sophs, A's-and-B's to B's-almost-always, but they're about the same amount of smart; Alexes just lean harder on their Bells than Sophs; Sophs are more independent in general.)

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 11:06 am
by Anya
This is very interesting! How about bellkids? (What was the in universe name for them again?)

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 11:36 am
by Alicorn
I am not an authority on the purple bellkids. Of the green ones here are the tidbits I can verbalize (some minor spoilers):

Griffins: Small but noticeable doses of Bellish crusading-fixering. They have the "remove gook" ingot power and do not get why people would want to keep gook about them in sort of the same way Bells do not get why people would want to keep any other unpleasant thing. They have a bit of my take on Joker benign-versions-of playfulness/aesthetic and some of their tendency to make abrupt emotional decisions and then stick with them. (Céleste didn't exactly ruminate on what exactly having a griffin would be like before she asked for one, she just thought it would be cool, and has not lost interest since, for instance.) If I had a reason to have, like, an orphaned Griffin in a moderately fantasyish world she'd be a griffin-mounted paladin type with a killer sense of style.

Pen: Pen is (going to turn out to be) by far the most masochistic green, which she could be said to get from her dad, but she does this in a weird way. Unlike her dad (or for that matter her mom) she finds the concept of injury or otherwise failing to have perfect physical integrity at all times gross and aversive and hard to think about. She has therefore not noticed that abstract "clean" pain is perfectly nice as far as she's concerned. She's going to get an eggtimer-pain-thing to try making her own medium-sized coins and figure it's broken because there's nothing unpleasant about turning it on. She solves boredom in what seems to me like a Jokerish-hedonism way but gets bored in the first place in a way that is like a Bell - her dissatisfaction-states in general are pretty Bellish in character if not in cause or solution.

Carinna: Bad luck of the draw for Carinna. As has been described, she has Sherlock depressive tendencies and Bell malcontentment but didn't get either set of coping mechanisms or either ego, which means the world is bad and wrong, she feels incompetent to do anything about it, and she has a deep emotional pit she is constantly on the brink of, and she has to engage with life sort of shallowly and in a curated way to avoid constant misery. Except for reading and fixing things (which she has to limit to a handful of cherrypicked sources / doesn't do at all, respectively), she tends to fill time in ways that would amuse a Bell who was looking for pleasant ways to kill an afternoon. If she had the emotional resources to try to develop it I think she could do "Sherlock scans" of things and know a lot about them - part of her problem is out-of-control extrapolation to horrors that are happening out of her field of view - but most things she learns do not improve her life, so she has no reason to work on this.

Kiawen: Much better luck of the draw! Tony-happy plus Bell-happy makes for quite a lot of happy. Kiawen doesn't feel either parent's strong interest in being personally contributory to the state of the world or to the advancement of magic/science; she'd be perfectly content to take up a relevant vocation but she has no issues with being vaguely redundant. However, like both, she likes to learn things, though she doesn't have the potential to do Sherlock-scans. She's more of an experimental learner. She has a strong aesthetic sense which is sort of a blend of the Tony "functional and also awesome" and the Bell "pretty but not tacky". (Fun fact: Metacausally, Kiawen is a Bell-and-Tony kid and Carinna is a Bell-and-Sherry kid. A solo Sherlock with a Bell cannot have Bell-and-Tony kids but a solo Tony with a Bell could have Bell-and-Sherry kids. If I remember correctly how we hammered that out.)

Elspeth: Most of Elspeth's personality accreted around her witchcraft, which is described IIRC in Radiance as both parents backwards (projecting instead of reading thoughts, sharing instead of protecting the contents of her head). She has very little of her dad in her personal traits except I guess you could say that her insight about people is from him. Her mama anchored her sense of normalcy, but she's thoroughly able to vary away from that when the situation calls for it. I think she did get her tendency to step up and do things when she is the right person to do them from her mama, but she is the right person to do a significantly different set of things, so it doesn't wind up looking very similar. She had a harder path than a Bell would to cope with having a person-accessory (Jake); Bells love having person-accessories when they find people who want to accessorize them (Edwards, Alexes, Crickets) and Elspeth had to get used to it with considerable difficulty.

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 1:13 pm
by Kappa
Purple bellspawns:

Dominiques started off without any traits at all past early childhood, and needed an emergency soul transplant which occurred during Helen's rebooted childhood. So the core of their personalities is actually unrelated to either parent. On top of that, though, they carry some influences - Helen shows obvious traces of having been raised by a Joker in her attitude toward rules, both in ignoring them when she chooses to and in being vaguely surprised that other people don't, but this attitude persists even in her alts whose Joker parents weren't so anarchically central to their upbringings. And I think they have a flavour of "reasonable" to them that bears some resemblance to Bells.

Arils currently haven't grown up yet, but when they do, they're going to be noticeably introverted (not that they aren't already, cf. their tendency to find the remotest possible corner to hide in at a large party) and have a preference for spending more time reading than doing anything else. They are in a very different corner of purplespace from Jokers; I think their only Jokerlike core trait is their tendency to empathize, but they cash it out differently - they find it easier to think about and analyze things at a bit of a distance, so the problem of whether or not winged mice would like existing is obvious to them where they might not necessarily go around wondering whether every creature they encounter is satisfied with its life in that way. You could say they got their introversion from their Bell parents, but that wasn't a conscious choice I made.

Tanalins are underdeveloped and mostly come across in my mind as kind of Tony Lite - same broad set of interests, vastly reduced drive to accomplish interesting things with them. They might get more details filled in if one pops up in a higher-pressure situation than growing up in the Enchanted Forest. (She is a Bell-and-Tony kid. My memory agrees with Alicorn's about how we hammered that out.)

Apologies for any typos, I messed up my left hand making Equestria journals this morning and I typed this whole thing with my right, therefore looking at the keyboard instead of the screen.

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 2:42 pm
by Shoal
Alicorn, What does G-factor mean?

Kappa, Can you explain more about emergency soul transplantation? I feel like I remember most of the events of Helen's childhood -- maybe I need to reread it -- but I'm not sure which event you mean.

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 2:55 pm
by Kappa
"Emergency soul transplant" is my somewhat facetious name for the completely out-of-universe process of me realizing that Helen's template didn't have any personality traits and deciding to fix this by having Helen grow up again while pretending she was an alt of a character I came up with once but never wrote a word for whose childhood would have superficially resembled hers in a few respects. At the time, I didn't expect that template to ever come into being (because she was the child of several templates none of whom existed in Effulgence), but I still decided that officially metacausally speaking, Dominiques are now a template-cousin of that other template.

And now, of course, because I can never resist the siren lure of Effulgence, both of her primary parent templates exist. Although they are of different species and in different worlds. But if Dr. Hall from Warp and Lightning from Cosel ever meet and raise a child together which is the biological offspring of Dr. Hall, then the Dominiques are going to get a cousin template. (I don't expect this to happen, but you never know.)

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 3:28 pm
by Alicorn
"G-factor" is loosely "the thing that you have more of if you do well on IQ tests and are smart". Wikipedia.

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 6:35 pm
by Bluelantern
Wait... Hall is another new template, huh.

I enjoyed this very much, how much those traits are genetic?

Also, I assumed that Vulcan!Charlie was the non-mundane parent because you can't fit a Renée into a Vulcan shaped metacasual hole... like, really I can't picture vulcan!Renée at all

How socially not-nice can Renée and Charlies get and how that would affect Bells? I have a hard time picturing either of them doing something like... kicking their kids out of the house (Bells escaping the house due to unpleasant conditions is another story). Do Charlies ever get married again? Can you get a genderswap version for the Bell parents? If the Bell only require one bio-parent, would they have a Renée?

Bell grandparents are often only template-cousins of each other

What does that means?

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 10:02 pm
by Alicorn
I'm agnostic on how genetic these traits are. Like, Promise doesn't even have genes.

Renées and Charlies are both really unlikely to do those things! Although Mira's going to have a bit of a problem, it is not going to be her dad's fault...

We have been toying with shipping Stella's Charlie and Hilary but haven't run anywhere with it. Also, <spoiler>. Charlies usually don't remarry.

I've never been tempted to genderswap the parents, but if we do a Bell from a genderless species or something that still does paired parenting, the Bell will have a set of parents with one of each as normal. A Bell with only one bioparent (no species off the top of my head do that, but) might have either a Renée or a Charlie, it would depend on the details.

For example, Stella's maternal grandmother and Glass's maternal grandmother are only about as similar as an Ike and a Jni, though they are not as dissimilar as a Matilda and a Wolverine, and they would all be green-moiety.

Re: [Fun With Meta] Bells And Parents

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 10:24 pm
by Tamien
Taking the "socially not-nice" question to a bit of an extreme, what would happen if the Renée and Charlie were from a society where it was the social norm to be moustache-twirlingly evil? I'm thinking of Evil-aligned D&D societies here - Drow, or some sort of necromantic cult, or something - but any other scenario where it is considered normal and expected to be casually cruel to others and actively murderous towards those you dislike would work. Is it possible to get an evil Renée or Charlie? How reformable would they be? If a Bell had evil parents, how would she react?