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Effulgence is an RP (role play) hosted on Dreamwidth between Alicorn (me) and Pyth (a.k.a. "kappa"). We each play many characters; all of my RP accounts belong to this community, the Belltower, and kappa's can all be found at [community profile] binary_heat. The short version of what Effulgence is about is that we put alternate universe versions of Bella from my fanfiction Luminosity in a wide variety of settings, mostly fanfictional in nature, and see what happens, then cross everything over with everything else. (Luminosity is canon for Effulgence, but the reverse is optional.) Kappa also has several recurring character templates, most commonly AU versions of her oddball interpretation of the Nolanverse Joker. The start is slow - it's earthfic right up until it's not, but then it's really not. Here appears a list of the canon(s) for each world.

You may track new/resumed-after-dormancy Effulgence threads via the forum updates thread. Effulgence is similar to Incandescence, by me and a different coauthor Aestrix, and to other "glowfic", by a variety of authors. If you like any one of those things, you should probably try the others. Effulgence is by far the longest.

Content warnings: Effulgence contains rape, torture, and parental abuse; these are generally not described in gory or graphic detail (people have proven able to blink and miss two of the instances of rape; we're apparently too good at euphemisms) but definitely present. It's a pretty long work and was, at first, written without thought of public consumption, so chances are it contains some other things we're failing to think of. Proceed with caution. Basically, if you can think of a way to be mean to characters, we've done it or gleefully intend to.

The index that kappa maintains at this post will show what posts to read in what order if you intend to read the whole thing. (The early stuff is not the best part, but it is unskippably prerequisite if you plan to read it all.) Most posts have comment threads under them; kappa prefers to read them in threaded mode, where they keep drifting off to the right, and this is the only way to correctly read threads that are indexed with bullet points (read each bullet, in order, in thread mode) but many people otherwise prefer to read in "flat" (just click "flat", and the comments' left margins will all line up and they will be arranged in pages).

Most posts are marked with one or more "symbellas" - symbols that indicate which Bells appear in which threads. These are in many cases exotic characters that might not render correctly on your computer, but they shouldn't be strictly necessary to enjoy the story. A Roll Call chart of each Bell, symbella, nickname, and world is available.

Threads with a plus sign next to them are in progress, as are sections with plus signs in their subchapter listings. The "chronological order" of the last several sections relative to each other is up in the air until they interact with the core plot, and may rearrange when that occurs. Additionally, there are a few spots where reading the threads in order will involve temporal confusion because they were written concurrently without anticipating third-party readers (for instance, 14.2 and 18.1 happen together); just keep reading through these and you should be fine.

If you do not want to read all of Effulgence, or want to read it out of order, you can do this. The settings don't cross over immediately in most cases, and you can read up to the crossover point with no prerequisites (although having read the rest of Effulgence would provide enriching context, it is not plot-necessary). You are welcome to ask us how to find what sections to read, but as a general rule of thumb: if a section is the first instance of a symbella anywhere in the index, and there is only one symbella in the first of those threads, it is probably standalone. (This is not foolproof: 38.5 is the first appearance of Tab's symbella, but her introduction does rely on a crossover. A more central example would be something like section 22, which contains four threads, each of which has the same single symbella; or 28, which may be read without prerequisite until the last thread where another symbella appears.)

Due to limitations of Dreamwidth, we cannot edit any comment that has replies under it. Please don't submit notifications of typos in Effulgence unless they're on the top-level posts or the last comments in a thread. Or if you can't understand what was meant and you need clarification.

Both I and kappa are eager to hear comments on the RP. You may comment here, and ask characters questions here and receive answers in-character, and I have a forum for discussion of this work (among my others), but please don't make comments on the story threads.

A note on "canon-puncturing". Characters, as people, sometimes consume and refer to fiction. The problem is we keep adding AUs of the fiction in question, and so sometimes these are universes that characters from other universe have mentioned in the past. In the overwhelming majority of cases, this is just a lack of foresight and it is retconned insofar as it can be when we can't edit things. Please assume, for example, that when you reach the Harry Potter AU, that all previous references to Harry Potter were instead describing some equivalent but not particularly reminiscent story. The exceptions are as follows (may contain spoilers, depending on how finicky you are about spoilers):

  • The Sherlock Holmes stories (and miscellaneous adaptations thereof) exist most Earth-typical places, except for Strat's universe of origin (and at least one forthcoming world).
  • In most Earth-typical universes that do not contain actual live Matildas, the Roald Dahl book "Matilda" (but not its movie adaptation) exists. This book never coexists with a Matilda, however. (The fact that it has taken some characters such a long time to notice this is mostly poor communication on our part, although there is an adequate thread of causality covering it.)
  • We are treating Pokémon about like we treat vampires: some universes have fiction of them. Other universes have real ones (too). The details like region names, organized crime team names, and city names that we use for the Pokémon AU and are taken from the games or anime may be assumed to be replaced with comparable but not particularly reminiscent versions in the fiction about Pokémon from other worlds.
  • In some worlds ("Sunshine family" worlds) various Marvel Cinematic Universe events began to unfold, but did not complete the process. In at least one, they were cut short very early (specifically, Captain America existed but the project did not work very well and there is fictionalized media about what might have been). There are some worlds where the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe is approximately taken as canon, except our obvious changes as described.

INDEX POST: Click here to start reading.

A somewhat buggy HTML mirror of Effulgence is available. You can download an EPUB or a MOBI, more recent and suspected more complete.

Date: 2014-01-09 10:17 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
Remember, before the first evil was made, no one knew they existed. In order to get evils, you need someone to willingly subject themselves to ten stars' worth of pain without knowing they are going to get anything more out of it than a star.

Libby has thought of pentagoning masochism to produce more coins, but she has no examples of masochistic mints - she doesn't know how much it would help. Without that knowledge, she's not keen on doing it herself, and she isn't getting any volunteers from people she already knows and trusts. Dramatic self-modification for an uncertain payoff is not the most enticing of prospects!

It's even possible that without an example like a Joker or an Anna to go on, pentagoning masochism wouldn't work as well for her as we see it doing for other people in Effulgence. Jokers and Annas are extraordinary outliers. Libby has never met anyone who liked pain that much before; who's to say she could imagine it well enough to wish for it? She might end up limited by her own assumptions about the range of available possibilities.

Of course, it's possible she'll get around to one or both of those things someday. But it's just as plausible that she will never feel like she needs enough magic badly enough to do those kinds of experiments. Discovering evils-and-up is most likely to happen when you mint someone who is naturally inclined to play with large amounts of pain on their own time.

Date: 2014-01-09 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jalapeno_dude
Hmm. I notice that I am confused, because I think of Libby, even more than the Bells, as the paradigmatic example of a utility maximizer (a real one, not a stupid caricature of one). Aelise is my main support for this interpretation: she's willing to fairly radically self-modify to work with Chelsa, and I don't see a Bell in her position doing the same thing (c.f. Chelise and Belle). The au-sunnydale version of the template literally does a utility calculation!

Given this, and putting aside evils-and-up, and knowing that Chris will prevent her from harm, I find it hard to believe that Libby is so vulnerable to hyperbolic discounting that she values sparing herself a pentagon (for the wish) + a hex (for the test) worth of pain, plus making herself a little kinky (which presumably could be undone with another pentagon), now over even a small chance at an essentially unlimited future supply of at least hexes, probably stars, and a decent chance at literal immortality.

Of course, this means I don't know as much about Libby as I think I do. What part of her character am I getting wrong?
Edited Date: 2014-01-09 10:47 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-01-09 11:28 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
Goals and circumstances.

Libby, before Stella appears on the scene, has enough magic for her purposes. She is personally acquainted with all of the mints in the world; she is one of a very small number of people who know how to safely use stars; she has mechanisms in place to alert her if either of those things changes; her personal coin stash is enough to accomplish everything she wants to accomplish, plus a generous pile left over for emergencies, and is verifiably more coins than are concentrated in the possession of any other mint.

She doesn't want to take over the world. She wants her network to thrive and expand. It's doing both of those things.

If she had some reason to want to accumulate massive piles of hexes, she would start looking for ways to do that. But there is nothing she wants to do that massive piles of hexes would be enough of a help with to justify extreme measures.

When Aelise signs on Chelsa, she is making a sacrifice to prevent imminent global thermonuclear war with bonus Gifts. The equivalent threat in Libby's world is a rogue mint, and it is best avoided by controlling the mint population as closely as possible. Which she is already doing.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "a decent chance at literal immortality". What's the connection, sight unseen, between immortality and large numbers of coins? Libby and Chris are already protected against all the dangers that (respectively) Chris's power and a star can ward off; the only major remaining threat to either of them is old age, which is not that urgent given that Chris is IIRC about forty, and they have plenty of time to carefully consider solutions. (They could just stop aging, but that would be noticeable and they don't want to be noticeable in that way.)

Another way to say what I'm trying to get at here might be: Libbies are not infinitely ambitious. When presented with urgent problems, they come up with effective immediate solutions, but they aren't inclined to take risks without a clear goal in mind. In fact, the calculation going on is almost the opposite of what your Wiki link describes: she doesn't think the value of maybe-possibly acquiring an easy route to fountains of hexes now is worth performing the experiment as it stands rather than wait and see if a better way to achieve the same non-urgent thing drops into her lap later. (It's not as though she expects the opportunity to spend a pentagon on a somewhat distasteful experiment to someday vanish.)

It might also be relevant to note that (IIRC - there's some chance I might have contradicted this when the original Eos threads were going down, and it's been long enough that I don't remember for sure) Libby is capable of generating everything up to stars by herself. She doesn't consider it fun, but she can do it. (It's definitely the case that she can come up with stars when she wants stars, if not by herself then via her minty acquaintances.) If she couldn't generate stars where necessary, she would want to fix that. But since she can, and she has as many stars as she needs to do the things she wants to do, she doesn't consider it urgent to increase her available coin production.

Date: 2014-01-10 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jalapeno_dude
Interesting. I guess I underestimated the amount of coins pre-Stella Libby had access too--I observed that she didn't seem to have overclocked her brain, that she needed to get people to spy on Stella rather than turning invisible and doing it herself or using pastwatching, etc, and concluded that she lacked the power to do things like that, when in fact she did have the power but not the motivation. So I guess (while we're talking about cognitive biases) I fell prey to the opposite of the fundamental attribution error--I figured she wasn't doing these things because of the situation she was in, not because of her lack of motivation.

Date: 2014-01-10 01:55 am (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
Yeah. Libby preferred to do things without magic where possible, and she had enough nonmagical resources on hand (i.e. lots and lots) that it almost always was possible.

Date: 2014-01-10 06:57 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jalapeno_dude
Why the preference for avoiding magic? This seems to be fairly constant across all iterations of the template, and I never really got a sense of why it was true...

Date: 2014-01-10 03:08 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
Reasons vary widely. One of the most constant is that if a Libby has a choice between getting one of her people to help out with a task she knows they are good at and will like, and doing the thing some other way, she will pick option number one unless there is some extremely pressing reason not to.

Date: 2014-01-10 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jalapeno_dude
Yeah, that definitely fits what we've learned about Libbies. But it suggests that if a Libby's people are themselves magical (cough cough), the situation will change. Cool.

...anyway, I've now finished the reread of the peal's exploits thus far. (To include one more Libby in the very near future, I think!) On to the unpealed ones!

Date: 2014-01-10 10:23 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox


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