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The Letters Page: Episode 103
Temporary Show Notes:
Run Time: 57:57
This is the Myriad episode. A myriad of things are discussed (including a few spoilers if you haven't played the Urban Infestation one-shot)!
- He’s a Daybreak villain whose first major appearance is in the “Urban Infestation” RPG adventure [Daybreak #7].
- He is made entirely of demon bugs. They interlock with one another to form he humanoid-ish form that we see him take. He can kind of look like he’s a guy in a suit up until the point where he dissolves into a swarm of bugs. He isn’t even those specific bugs as one could destroy all of the ones that make up his current “body” and he could reform from other bugs elsewhere.
- So, he’s made of bugs, can summon more of these demon bugs, and can also control normal arthropods of various types (insects, arachnids, etc.). [The guys say that “bugs” is a useful term for them as it’s not a scientific classification - it actually is. The order Hemiptera (or half-wing) refers to “true bugs” that all have similar sucking mouth parts (cicadas, bedbugs, and aphids are in this group, for example).] He’s got a connection to this other-worldly demonic entity of “bugs” that’s given him these powers - it’s not something like a Singular Entity or Prime Aspect. It’s more like an unthinking “Bug Force” that all bugs are connected to - it’s an entity, but without an ego of it’s own (i.e. there’s no real personality behind it).
- In the adventure where he first appears, there are these dimensional rifts around Rook City and Myriad is taking advantage of them to cause more chaos (which is just about his entire goal - chaos, destruction, and bugs). That’s pretty much the adventure - him trying to cause mayhem and the heroes thwarting him.
- How do we refer to Myriad? It? They? Is it “Myriad” or “The Myriad”? Just “Myriad” and you can definitely call him “he” as Edgar Black is still the person in there that’s at the wheel. The analogy that Adam uses, that eventually gets Christopher on board, is that if he, Adam, is driving a car with his wife and kid, with like 30 cats in the car with them and everybody else in the car puts a hand/paw on the wheel to try to steer, he’s still in the most control as he’s in the driver seat and has the best leverage. In this analogy, the car is the physical form of Myriad, Adam is Edgar Black, the cats represent all the “minds” of the bugs (demon or otherwise) that he’s controlling, and his wife and daughter are collectively the demon entity. So, you can use “he”, but it’s also perfectly fine to use “they” - it’s not like Myriad really cares.
- How intelligent is Myriad (is it just a mindless swarm or is it smarter than it looks)? It’s intelligent, but saying whether he’s “smarter than he looks” depends on how smart you think he looks in the first place. He’s definitely got human-level intelligence (although probably less than average - Edgar wasn’t a genius or anything). That being said, his deviousness is very high as is his awareness is likewise considering how many sensory apparatus he’s got access to (plus the demon entity helping out) - that’s not in a tactical, situational awareness kind of thing, though. More an insect-like stimulus/response kind of way. He’s not going to go out and build a doomsday device, that would require more planning than he’s really capable of. However, they could envision a scenario where he’s pulled at threads/fallen backwards into a situation where he could figure out a way to turn the whole world into bugs or something and just running with it. He’s very reactionary.
- Did he ever appear in the Multiverse era or is he retconned in as “something NightMist dealt with in the past”? Yes and no - the demon bug entity that NightMist dealt with and the box she contained it in are older, but “Myriad” is new in the post-OblivAeon era. NightMist had a lot of throw-away monster stories over the years and this was just somebody reaching back to pick one of them when creating a new foe.
- Is “Myriad” the bugs themselves as a hive-mind, the demon using the bugs as a body, or the person inside the bugs being possessed by the demon and using the bugs as armor? Yes, but only if you include all three of those options. Myriad is not just the bugs, or the demon, or the person - he’s a combination of all of them.
- In the Daybreak episode, we hear that Brandon Bradley is hit by an exterminator truck and the Myriad bio says that Edgar used to be an exterminator - was it his truck that hit Brandon? Yes. The collision is what broke the box that Brandon was carrying. Edgar driving away was partly just him panicking about hitting this kid, but also because he was being harassed by a swarm of insects, which was really the demon entity coming for him - it recognized him as the sort of person that it could use. As alluded to in the character bio, Edgar Black was kind of a monster - he liked hurting people/animals. They don’t want to necessarily characterize him as a psychopath, but he picked “exterminator” as a profession as it allowed him to kill things and the reasons he hadn’t killed any people yet were likely a combination of cowardice and not being a big-picture person.
- Exactly how did Brandon get the box? Who sent it and where were they sending it? So, NightMist had all of these artifacts and whatnot in her home. Having them all destroyed at once is bad, so she’d set some contingencies in place so that when the house was being destroyed, they’d all get teleported elsewhere. So, when OblivAeon destroyed Rook City, this effect was triggered. When Setback/Chrono-Ranger undid the destruction, it didn’t undo the teleport. We get a flashback of NightMist helping somebody with something and her asking for a favor in return - put this crystalline filigree “cage” (three feet on a side) in your basement or somewhere out of the way. If it ever sounds a chime, that means that something has been teleported into it. If that ever happens, retrieve the item and use a courier service to ship it to Xian Niu at this address. Don’t investigate the item, don’t let the courier examine it - your ignorance in this matter is for your own protection. NightMist doesn’t know that it’s probably for the best that The Master didn’t get his hands on this thing (well, he had gotten messed up in the meantime and wouldn’t likely have been there to receive it anyway - see the GloomWeaver episode for brief details on that [they say the NightMist Episode, but they didn’t reveal his status as a GloomWeaver cultist until the next episode]).
- The “Urban Infestation” event was the second encounter that Daybreak had with this bug demon [the Daybreak episode mentions that the bugs were attacking Brandon when the rest of the team showed up to help - there’s a brief mention of this in the “Stolen Legacy” adventure as well in the character background section] - where was it/what was it up to in the meantime? Because Headlong’s power source is the same magic that kept the bug demon prisoner for so long, they have a connection. That original encounter was mostly a throw-away villain that was just used as the inciting incident to get the team together and set him up to be important later. After that, he just goes away until he next shows up in “Urban Infestation”. He doesn’t need a place to live or anything and can kind of just disappear into the “bug dimension” or whatever and is only prompted to return after the magical rifts start opening in town that he can use - sure, he’s a lot of bugs, but when it comes down to it, he’s just bugs. He needs some kind of other opportunity he can use to further the BUGS! plan as he’s not really good at planning.
- The adventure starts with Daybreak having to sneak out of class - is that part of Freedom Academy or just some mundane high school in Megalopolis? Definitely Freedom Academy.
- Could they have called in a favor from Legacy to get a pass to leave class so that they could deal with Myriad, considering their prior encounter with him? No. They’re not supposed to fight yet. They probably should have called Legacy, like you said, then get their request turned down while she and other heroes go off to deal with him. That would have been a good plan, but these are teenagers. They get in trouble in the adventure wrap-up. The whole point of Freedom Academy is to get people trained up to be heroes. Once they’re ready (which probably, by definition, means that the student is also over 18), they aren’t in class at Freedom Academy anymore.
- Is the bug behind Heritage in the panel at the end of the issue supposed to be part of Myriad? They’re going to let you draw your own conclusions, but the art note that Christopher gave Adam was for an evil, demon, cockroach and the text in the description there says a “familiar-looking” bug watches and rubs its mandibles “ominously”. I mean, even if it was just a regular, non-demonic bug, the bug demon can see through the eyes of mundane bugs too.
- Where did the “cursed artifact” that created Myriad come from? Who created it? Are there more like it? How did Edgar find it and/or is it still out there ready to make more beings like him? The “artifact” was the box that contained the demon entity that NightMist made specifically to contain it in one of those old monster-of-the-week adventures. She was fighting this insect demon/swarm thing that she couldn’t contain as anything she put it in it would just eat its way free and as soon as it was one insect it could become many insects. One of the many magical wards/seals on this box that kept it contained was the one that made the inner surface frictionless. The box was unique (although now it’s been destroyed in the accident that freed the entity - the only remaining seal is the one that Headlong keeps), as is the entity that it contained.
- Was the bug curse attracted to Edgar because he already wasn’t a nice person? Is he still in control/responsible for his actions as Myriad? Can he be saved? It was attracted to him. The demon entity had never merged with a person before, but then again, it hadn’t encountered somebody who was interested in such “intentionless destruction” as Edgar was before either. The demon wasn’t really aware of what would happen to itself in this process either, though. Edgar is still “driving the car” and knows what he’s doing, but the demon has largely wound up giving up a large part of its autonomy to this guy that it feels has a similar “goal” to itself in the hope that it would also have more direct power as a result. Edgar is definitely responsible. While he might not be causing as much trouble if he didn’t have the curse, it’s not like he wouldn’t want to. He could possibly be saved from the demon entity, but he doesn’t want to be. He’s fine with the current situation. They don’t really see him as redeemable - they don’t like saying that and there might be a bunch of stuff that could happen that could get him there, but it’s hard to imagine it actually happening. All of the OblivAeon villains-turned-heroes had something to their personalities that could make the turn - even Baron Blade, who is arguably the biggest villain around, but he’s got more humanity to him than Edgar has. From a character standpoint, Edgar is about the opposite of Aata in every important way possible. Spite is about the closest to Edgar in terms of other characters, but Spite goes a lot farther with it and is much more intelligent/cunning than Edgar - Spite’s more dangerous, not because of his powers, but because he has a plan for what he’s doing, has a sense of self-preservation, and he’s not a coward. If Jack Donovan had Myriad’s powers it could quite possibly mean the end of life as we know it.
- Does Myriad produce all of those bugs personally or does he just grab whatever bugs are around him to do his thing? Most of the bugs that he controls/forms his body are ones that he “makes” (as in summons from the bug dimension - “manifest” might be a better verb than “make”), but he can also take control over natural bugs around him.
- Is he actively controlling them all or just letting them run wild? Both. Think of him directing them like swinging a limb at whatever. He’s intentionally directing them to swarm a thing, but they’re still bugs and are just left chewing on whatever’s around afterwards. He can assume direct control, but there are just so many bugs around. The ones he manifests do eventually just kind of fizzle out if he leaves them unattended for a while (or if they get damaged too much). They don’t leave carapaces behind.
- How well does a dose of insecticide work on him? It would kill off bugs that he’d pulled from the environment, but it would be less effective on the demon bugs. They could see it working as an Attack or Hinder, but it’s not like it’s going to be his kryptonite or anything.
- Does he have a particular creepy-crawly that’s his favorite? No, it’s not like he’s summoning specific bugs - he’s just opening the floodgates of the bug dimension and whatever gets out is what he works with. He might be able to make a particular big scary bug come through if he really focuses up and makes the effort. We haven’t seen those yet.
- “Edgar” was also the name of the guy who got eaten and had his skin worn by the bug alien in the Men in Black movie - was this an intentional reference? [They act confused as to what “Shmen in Shmack” refers to and also point out that Edgar Black’s last name certainly wasn’t chosen for any specific reason, which I take to be a “yes”.]
- A previous question about his “Release the Swarm” ability prompted the response that you were going to reword it - do you have that ready? “Use Insect Control to create a number of Minions equal to the value of your Max die. Those Minions are the same size as your Min die.”
- Is Myriad a Daybreak villain in particular (possibly with a specific nemesis on the team) or more of a general Rook City threat? He’s primarily meant to be a Daybreak villain, and Headlong is of particular interest given that he’s brimming with the energy that was used to lock the demon entity away - they’re basically destined to be nemeses.
- Is he more demon than man, more villain than monster, etc.? They’ve kind of gotten into this earlier, but the second part there is interesting - he’s probably more of a monster than villain, but there is still a person in there.
- Is Myriad weirdly dark for Daybreak’s tone or is it just me? He’s probably the darkest of their villains. Like, they’re going to fight Helfyre too, and they’re dark, but they’re more of a tongue-in-cheek joking dark and show up in prom or battle-of-the-bands stories. Daybreak is mostly a lighthearted group in a lighthearted book. Myriad is there for contrast when things get real. While they have released two somewhat dark stories for Daybreak so far, the adventure that will be featured in the core rulebook is meant to be more indicative of the tone they’re going for. It’s also the case that a good chunk of their own book isn’t really suited for RPG adventures as there’s a lot more slice of life, Freedom Academy, going to movies, etc. stuff happening in there. That’s stuff they want to get into (and is more likely to happen in a 6-issue arc), but it’s not necessarily what you want to lead with in terms of teaser one-shot adventures.
- Is there even a purpose to having a Future section? We’ll see more of him.