Alts, Alts, Alts

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Alts, Alts, Alts

Postby Alicorn » Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:37 pm

There are kinds and degrees of althood! These things are easiest to describe by use of examples rather than the other way around; accordingly, I recommend using this as a reference after reading Effulgence (which contains more edge cases and in-character examination of the phenomena than other glowfic) rather than as an introduction to the concept.

Basics:

Most of the significant characters in Effulgence are "templates". The word "template" is used in-character to refer to (1) a group of people who all share a personality and often other traits, usually from multiple worlds ("the entire Tony template got together"), (2) the abstracted trait-sets common to those groups ("notebooks are a Bell template thing"; also "attractor"), (3) any member of such a group ("Glass says you're a template, so you probably have alts"; also the adjective "templatey"), and (4) the most "baseline" group member from which the others metacausally vary ("Giles is the template Kingfisher"). It is also used out of character as (5) a verb to describe the authorial practice of imposing template traits on a character ("I templated Cadence; she's a Didyme").

For convenience, templates are named (many in-character, most at least out of character). Sometimes these are after their most salient single member or members ("Lazaruses", "Hilaries"), some after common or universal name-parts ("Jnis", "Sras"), others for other reasons ("Kingfishers", "Griffins", "Jokers"). Template members often have the same or very similar names, and when they meet (or are discussed out of character), they get distinguishing nicknames, often self-chosen, often referring to characteristics of that individual that are unique within the template; so people who are actually named Bella go by things like "Golden" and "Juliet" for disambiguation. Some templates have collective nouns ("peal of Bells", "deck of Jokers"). Two characters who share a template are called "alts", at least unless they have a more specific kind of relationship on top of that.

Attractors:

What traits are template things and what traits are individual varies template to template. "Personality", broadly speaking, is always included, but which aspects of the personality are essential and which aren't can vary, and some templates also obligatorily come with certain circumstances, name sounds and/or meanings, the company of other templates, specific life events, magical powers, etc. For instance, many (most) purple templates are always bisexual, but other templates vary in that feature. Jokers are trailed by pain and suffering in an inextricable way that need not assail others. Chelseas' names follow a consistent pattern. Eightses and Chainsaws come in pairs. Rosalies have a certain pair of types of events happen to them in their late teens. Kanims decline to appear in any world without its own magic system for them to practice.

Some traits only appear frequently, not invariably. Tonies often clone themselves, given the means to do so (and when they do they always get Sherlocks) but not all Tonies have done this, even the ones who could have. Some traits are very minor and appear only when it's convenient - Alexes will usually have had braces as kids but not all worlds have orthodontia, and if there were a reason for braces to be chosen against an Alex in a world that did have orthodontia might skip them.

Themes:

Some things come up optionally or out of character for template members without being an aspect of their personalities or plot points. For instance, Griffins have a heraldry theme which appears in their coin colors and screen names. Thematic traits like this perturb the aesthetics of other stuff going on which is already there, and may serve as inspiration for other places to put instances of a template, but do not constrain the development of an instance the way attractors can.

Clusters:

Some templates have subtypes within them. These clusters are similar in specific sets of ways and can sometimes override other regularities about templates. For instance, Bells on Earths are usually white and born in Forks, WA; sometimes there's only a small tweak from there (Juliet is born in Sunnydale instead), but sometimes a large set of incidentals all change at once in a regular way (Silverlight, of "Lumos", and Martin, from Incandescence, display a British attractor set that hasn't threaded in Effulgence yet; there is also a Canadian attractor set that hasn't appeared anywhere). Jokers display another type of clustering which isn't linked to facecasting the way the Bell clusters are but rather has to do with origin story and is not specific to planet (e.g. Aelare and Alice are both A-cluster Jokers; Lalita and Brilliance are both 0-cluster). Many templates do not display clustering at all.

Contagion:

In-character, templateyness has been identified as "contagious", which is the in-character gloss on the fact that sometimes characters originally intended to be one-off prove to have enough appeal that we're inspired to make more of them, and they tend to demonstrate this appeal in the context of interacting with preexisting template characters. Cricket was originally just Glass's cat, but has "caught templateyness" by being a suitable personality for an occasional job opening (as it were).

Phases:

Some templates go through recognizable life cycles. This does not change their template membership but can cause them to appear very superficially different. Jokers have several phases and can veer off-course from the standard progression. Kingfishers have two defined phases. Bells have a life cycle without especially clearly defined steps.

Facedoubles:

Sometimes characters from different worlds who do not share a personality will still look alike for no causal reason. Out of universe, this is because we reuse actors (either of our own volition or due to canons casting the same person as multiple characters we want to use). An Effulgence example is Kerron Corlett (pina_colada) and the Thor of Yggdrasil (not accounted), both played by Chris Hemsworth. A non-example is Miles (thisvorlunatic) and his clone Mark (unmarred), who have a causal reason to look alike.

Circumstance Alts:

Sometimes we decide to do the same plot, or parts of the same plot, with adjusted casts of characters. Yggdrasil and Edda both take the Marvel Cinematic Universe as canon, but Edda diverges from canon more and earlier - Asgard is completely genderswapped, and the canonical Loki has been replaced by, not a female version of the same Loki character, but by a Bell who happens to be named "Loki" and come from the same background. She and Yggdrasil Loki are "circumstance alts": they are given the same resources to work with but have different reactions to them that stem from their different personalities. (Note: Although Nexus and Superluminal have a similar plot relationship, they are not slated to contain any characters who are circumstance alts of one another, just true alts who are choreographed differently in response to the tweaked setup conditions.)

Moieties:

This is the term for a group of characters all written by the same author. They're color-coded (I'm "green", kappa is "purple") and are known in-character (exclusively in Effulgence) only as a mysterious thing Glass can see which is related to template similarity but doesn't guarantee it on any axis (though purple characters, especially, tend to have certain traits with unusually high probability). Members of a single template will all also be of a single moiety, but the same is not true of facedoubles nor necessarily of circumstance alts. The word "moiety" usually means one of two parts; its use in contexts beyond Effulgence is grandfathered in even now that there are more than two authors.

Template Cousins:

Some templates are similar to each other. When these similarities occur within a single moiety and are more than surface-level, the templates are "cousins". Examples include Ikes and Jnis, who (most noticeably) have similar speaking habits and significant personality resemblance. This is like a miniature intra-authorial version of a moiety. Not all templates have cousins, but most of them could.

Causality:

Template attractors usually affect "metacausality" - that which causes causation. This allows coordination of intertemplate events that appears to go backward in time or between worlds: Olympians, like Zeus, will appear only when there are Jokers to correspond, but Zeus was born in Aurum before Harley was kidnapped out of (or even discovered in) his original world of Doyle. Chrises never appear without Libbies, but are always older than their Libbies: the Libby attractors set up their backstories, complete with Chrises, before the Libbies are born.

Forks:

Not the town in Washington or the utensil. Sometimes, via deliberate magic or other circumstance, a character can become duplicated - not cloned, but split into two instances with the same memories who diverge from there. So far this has happened to a couple of Bells and the Nathan of Aurum. These are still technically alts, in the sense that e.g. both Shell and her liveling fork were both Bells, but they share actual history to a point and not just the content thereof the way close but separate alts like Stella and Golden do. Forks often choose to merge into a single self which remembers both branches.

Blending:

In (so far) one category of cases, two templates may coexist in a single blended personality. The instances of this happening are so far all Joker/Sherlock combinations who will unblend into a coexisting multiple personality under sufficient stress. Attractors which apply to either component personality typically also apply to blends, and the combination may accrue attractors of its own.

Followers:

Some templates "lead" (appear wherever there is a good place for them to go) and other templates "follow" (appear only when the correct leader template has found a spot, perhaps not invariably). For instance, Bells "lead" their parent templates - metacausally speaking, we find places Bells should be, and extrapolate backward that they probably have parents (where applicable), and possibly also one or both sibling templates, a Kanim, etc.. Libbies "lead" and Chrises "follow". Some templates are likely to coexist but neither leads or follows, like Jokers and Bells (who also appear alone) or Ikes and Vals (who are placed as a set).

Strength:

Some templates are referred to as being "strong", which mostly means "numerous, non-follower". Bells and Jokers are strongest; some characters have only two of them anywhere and are much weaker templates. Characters with no alts at all are sometimes impossible for Glass to detect a moiety on (which is effectively code for "is an NPC"). Portability (the ability for an attractor set to fit into a variety of settings comfortably) improves but doesn't guarantee strength.

Nonperson Templates:

There sure are a lot of Earths. Sometimes Matildas and Sherlocks are books. How about that.
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Re: Alts, Alts, Alts

Postby DanielH » Sun Nov 09, 2014 11:03 pm

Is there established vocabulary for alts who share extremely large parts of their backstory, such as the various Sunnyverse Tonies? Most of them have the same life story up until they die with only minor changes, and I’d say they’re closer to each other than to Iron Man or any of the other non-Sunny ones, yet “cluster” doesn’t seem to apply.
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Re: Alts, Alts, Alts

Postby Alicorn » Sun Nov 09, 2014 11:28 pm

We don't really have a word for that, and I agree that we should.
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Re: Alts, Alts, Alts

Postby Kappa » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:01 am

"Branch", maybe? Not exactly a cluster, not exactly a fork?
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Re: Alts, Alts, Alts

Postby Lambda » Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:50 pm

I'm tempted to think of the Sherlock template as a blend of Tony and Holmes.
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Re: Alts, Alts, Alts

Postby Kappa » Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:03 pm

Hahahahaha.
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