The Letters Page: Episode 113
Remember, even this new team can't spell "Slaughterhouse" without the words "laughter". And also the word "louse", incidentally.
Run Time: 1:06:46
We start off with some birthday talk, then some eyeball talk, like you do.
Then, we actually do an overview just after the 5 minute mark! Don't worry, it's a VERY short overview. Then, we get right on to your questions at around 8 minutes in.
Your questions cover the line-up of the team, including original members like Glamour, Re-Volt, Desert Eagle, and Ray Manta, and new teammates such as Hippo and Kismet!
As always, thanks to all of our listeners, especially those of you on the Letters Page Patreon! Join us this Thursday at 10 AM, Central, for a live recording of this month's Editor's Note!
- The episode talks about their new appearances a lot, but the show notes didn't include an image - here's the picture we got in one of the RPG Kickstarter Updates.
- They start out riffing on the fact that getting 6 people together regularly is no mean feat. Just think about trying to schedule a role-playing game session. Let’s talk about each member a bit before questions:
- Glamour - She’s now in charge. Well, still in charge but no longer keeping up the illusion that Ambuscade is around and in charge.
- Desert Eagle - has some new gear and a new look.
- Re-Volt - also looks different, but not in a good way. He’s been put through the wringer between what happened to him with Fort Adamant and Dr. Medico. He’s trying to keep it together, though.
- Ray Manta - more of a conspiracy nut than ever (forget the tinfoil hat, he’s got a full tinfoil cape).
- The Hippo - Eddie Wagner joins the team as some standard “muscle”. Sometimes that’s what a team needs.
- Kismet - working with a team! Well, her history of doing a job with the Hippo back in the day is what got her on the team in the first place. They needed somebody who could do some kind of magic stuff and he had somebody in mind (“It would be fortunate to have her on the team” [There’s a runner through the episode with Christopher making bad puns to prompt Adam to tell the various characters to “shut up”, which is amusing] ).
- Where is Magman? The first hint that he should be around is when Glamour is trying to get the team back together. She gets Desert Eagle, Ray Manta, and Re-Volt without too much trouble (those three were the old RevoCorp crew). They’re in, but one of them asked where the big lava guy is since he’s useful as “the muscle” (cue Ray Manta’s “Well, actually…” pedantry about him being magma vs lava or something). Glamour has somebody else in mind and doesn’t care about Magman or that he was “part of the team” - the guy eats diamonds which cuts into the payout. Magman is actually down in South Africa working at a shady mine run by the diamond cartel. He’s security keeping outsiders out and keeping the workers in line/preventing theft or escape. So, now Fred is complicit in the terrible conditions surrounding the diamond industry and gets paid in low-grade diamonds that wouldn’t have sold for much anyway.
- Does Kismet’s on-again, off-again thing with Re-Volt impact the team dynamics at all? Is that how she wound up joining the team? Does her higher power level than the rest of the team (warranting a solo hero deck instead of a team-villain deck in SotM after all) change the direction the group goes/what kinds of plots they get up to? Have the other members upped their own power levels to be at her level? They’re all better than they used to be. Glamour and Desert Eagle mainly just through experience and better gear. Re-Volt has had his powers increased dramatically, but at the expense of his humanity. Ray Manta is more out there, but he’s just also very good at making gadgets - he’s a go-to guy for low-level villains getting equipment in general. As they said earlier, Kismet is there because of Hippo rather than Re-Volt. Re-Volt’s not much of a person anymore (“literally just a cloud of electronic impulses” trying to hold itself together, but he’s working on it). Glamour is the one pushing them to do bigger stuff, rather than Kismet. Kismet’s prior solo status leads to some friction between her and Glamour as the latter is nominally the leader here while the former is used to being her own boss.
- How did Hippo wind up on the team? Were they just desperate to keep the membership at 6 and the meathead was the one available? He’s a very effective meathead. Glamour needed muscle for the team and he was easy muscle to get. He’s an old standard bruiser villain and not much of a go-getter on his own. If you just need somebody to punch stuff for a paycheck, it’s hard to do better.
- Is Glamour still Aislin Allen? What holds the group together without Ambuscade/the illusion of Ambuscade? Does the rest of the team know about her illusion? Aislin is still the woman behind the mask. She’s the longest-standing Glamour and is taking the mantle in her own directions (for example, the different look for the costume) - this is her thing. The illusion of Ambuscade broke down during the old days and they found out at that time (“it was obviously me the whole time, guys”). Good bit here about how it should have been really obvious what with her [now canonically!] alto vocal register trying to mimic Ambuscade’s deeper voice. [Her actual superpower was keyed to her voice, so that’s not out of the question as possible to pull off, but still a funny aside.] While Glamour is in charge openly now, this is still a group that’s together for rather mercenary purposes and aren’t held together by an ideology or something. They’re the villain “team” the guys have invented that is most likely to fall to infighting and backstabbing that most of the other groups the guys have come up with avoid. That being said, this is the most unified that the Slaughter-house Six team has been.
- How do they feel about Ambuscade turning hero? How does Stuntman feel about them (or his role in getting them together initially)? Of all of Ansel’s regrets, putting this team together is rather low on the list. This gets back to that mercenary thing - he got them together to try something and, when it didn’t, he moved on. He wasn’t and isn’t close to these people. Besides, as we are going into the RPG-era, he’s got his own problems to deal with.
- To steal Princess Cool’s bit for a second, are there any romantic relationships on the team (besides the historical Kistmet/Re-Volt thing)? Not at present, but give it time and there’s likely to be something. Office romances happen, why not something similar here?
- Is Glamour more up front about leading than before? Yes, she is. She’s gone from just having the mirrored mask to having a whole mirror outfit (plus the black cape). She’s leaning on the stage-magician/misdirection end of things more than ever.
- What’s going on with Desert Eagle’s breathing apparatus? Did Writhe mess up his lungs somehow too? It’s more like a fighter-pilot’s mask. The human body isn’t set up for high-speeds or high-altitudes, so he’s got something to help him breath while he’s flying around.
- How are things between Kismet and Re-Volt? Is she trying to help him through everything? You’re painting Kismet as more of a nurturing figure than is accurate. He’s just a mess, and she might try to help him out if he asked, but there’s not really a whole lot she can do.
- What brought Kismet into the fold (plus, nice “fortune teller” look now)? Re-Volt seems like the obvious answer, but was it some connection with Glamour considering their mutual use of Madame Mittermeier’s Fantastical Festival of Conundrums and Curiosities (it seems like the two of them working together could get up to some real trouble with the place)? That’s true, but as stated it was primarily Hippo, but Kismet does have a lot of connections with team members. That being said, the job that prompts Glamour to reform the team is apparently a tech-based one and bringing in somebody with non-tech powers to round out the group was warranted and wouldn’t you know it but several team members knew the same person. On the outfit, yeah, Adam wanted to go more “witchy” with it. As she’s gotten older she’s leaving behind the “rebellious youth” thing and leaning more on “mysterious person”.
- Hippo seems pretty easy to justify on the team, right (you need some big guy to be able to lift things - he’s an easy pick)? Right.
- Ray Manta has always seemed pretty goofy, so with everyone else getting a little grittier it seems a little off that he’s still there - has he gritted up somewhat as well? How’s he handling RevoCorp going legit? Where does that leave him? It leaves him unemployed. As mentioned, though, he’s still the go-to guy for minor villains to get tech. While he seems goofy from our perspective, he isn’t goofy to himself. He’s not funny or silly, but is very serious (although others often find him silly). He’s a genius, but he’s also a bit of a victim of his own genius - his ability to see connections and “put things together” on a technical level that makes him so useful as an engineer also means that he sees connections in the rest of the world that aren’t really there. He’s got too many false-positives in his pattern recognition abilities.
- What does the team actually do? Smash-and-grab robberies or more meticulous heists? Do they have bit plans of their own or do they do mercenary work for others? You probably could hire them, but not likely for money directly (more things like information or some kind of obscure tech that they need, that sort of thing). Primarily, they’re leaning into the stuff they used to do, although more for themselves directly rather than the prior RevoCorp connections. They’ve got a bunch of grudges with people (not necessarily all heroes). Some have things wrong with them that they want fixed. They work well together and their goals are in decent alignment (although not without some friction between members). They’re more on the heist end of things than smash-and-grab as they’ve got a decent variety of abilities to work with and they’re, overall, better at subtlety than many villains.
- How does the team work together (like, how much is improvisation vs. actively working together)? They work together pretty well. They do a lot of planning with various contingencies. Glamour’s leadership is pretty integral as she’s more of a big-picture thinker than the rest of the group combined. She also makes better use of Ray Manta than, say, Ambuscade did. She recognizes that he’s smart and good at stuff, and so she lets him do that stuff he’s good at while reining in his eccentricity. He can formulate what needs to happen, she’ll take that and come up with the method of achieving those goals.
- Just what niche does this team occupy? Perestroika is politically motivated, Helfyre seems out for general mayhem, so what do they want? How popular are they in the meta-verse (do they get their own villain book or anything)? These are mid-to-high level of popularity. People like them, and many of them are old standby solo villains who have been around for years, but they’re not at the level that they could sustain something on their own. The point of having them be a team was so that they could bring in these mid-level villains and slot them into a variety of situations as needed (heist on their own terms, revenge against, say, Setback, as a mercenary team hired by somebody else, etc.). They’re just useful foils for teams of heroes. Their ultimate goal is to get a big enough score to set themselves up for life (and in some cases to fix themselves in the process) - they’re not out to rule anything. As for their niche, it’s very much a jack-of-all-trades team that can show up in a number of types of stories, possibly including longer-form plots. They’re a bit more serious now than they were before, but you can play them a number of different ways ranging from very serious about what they’re doing to just “eh, we were seeing if this would work”. They’re versatile, which makes them very human as characters. [Letter ends with first birthday notice of the episode.]
- Do the members retain their old grudges (Ray Manta vs. robots even after OblivAeon, Re-Volt and Kismet vs. Setback, etc.)? They’ve all still got their old animosities. Ray Manta’s interesting [insert rant about how OblivAeon was an illusion created by the Robot Shadow Government here, starting at around 37:14].
- Why use “Slaughterhouse Six” as the group name - it sounds much more murder-focused than they seem to act? Well, the first time the group was assembled by Ambuscade they were meant to take down heroes who would try to stop them, but it’s mostly just branding. It sounds scary. [Christopher throws out a Murder Mansion Many callback to last episode (claiming it was the title of Vonnegut’s book in this universe rather than Slaughterhouse-Five) that cracks Adam up for a bit.]
- So, is there no “For Profit” group in the RPG since Hippo and Glamour are here instead? Was it a team, but with a different lineup and the Vertex version was just more popular when it came along later? There is a For Profit team, with a different lineup as you suggest. It’ll be in the Dark Watch book. It was popular enough in Sentinel Comics, but yeah - Vertex changed things up, so the lineup we’re already familiar with is the “second” team in that alternate timeline.
- What about Heartbreaker and Becky Blast? Are they even alive in the RPG timeline? They are in the RPG version of For Profit, but Becky Blast has a different name here.
- Why has Glamour been depicted as large and imposing in the game art so far, indicating that she might be more of a solo threat than one that relies on a team? [Illusions.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1WSH0VzoaM) All of them could be solo threats if you want (there will be rules for how to adjust between solo and team versions of villains in the RPG).
- Why has Ray Manta gone from a techy-looking suit to something that reminds me of Genghis Khan? They’re not sure where you’re getting that comparison - is it the long hair? (and also what says “techy” about his manta spandex?).
- What benefits does Ray’s new outfit give him? Is that a laser tail? Yes, that’s a laser on his tail. Plus the tin-foil cloak is good for wrapping around himself to disappear from sensors. No really. It’s not just foil and actually works. Of course, the foil is also functional to prevent the shadow robot government from reading his mind or whatever.
- Has what’s happened to Re-Volt exactly? Have his powers changed? You said he wasn’t really human anymore, so what’s holding him together? What is he able to do as a being of electricity now? What’s holding him together is his own will and sense of identity - if he loses that, he’ll lose his mind as well. He still thinks of himself as human, but is desperately trying to hold onto that, so he keeps his human shape most of the time. He can travel as electricity (whether that means along a conductor of some sort or not) and can still attack with it. He’s weak to things that can control/capture electricity. The overcharging of his power at Fort Adamant and the destabilizing of his powers by Dr. Medico have basically just left him as these electrical impulses now and he’s still working through what all of the ramifications of that are.
- Does Hippo have any connection to the new Haka? Does he have a new foil besides her? He does fight Arataki (pictured in the core rulebook, although her write-up won’t be in there). He could have any number of new foils among the heroes that he fights going forward, which could include player-generated characters.
- We were told a little about Desert Eagle’s new weirdness last episode, but who made the goggles that can bypass what’s happened to his eyes? Does he get any benefit from what his eyes do now? Does he go after Writhe for vengeance? Ray Manta made the goggles. They take in visual information and then transmit them to diodes he has all over his head that are wired to his brain. They allow him to switch between modes to see a variety of spectra. Right now he doesn’t see much use for what his eyes do now, but think about the Writhe/Voidsoul stuff that caused it and how that might eventually become useful.
- Who is funding the team since RevoCorp isn’t? Nobody is (except for whatever income Ray Manta’s equipment sales bring in), that’s a big part of why they’re doing it.
- So, Shrieker became Glamour after the Freedom Four/Five more or less just dismissed her, but it also sounds like the existence of that iteration of the team got retconned out of existence, so what’s her initial motivation to become a villain now? When she was revealed to be Glamour was there some flashback about her trying to join the team and just getting laughed at? There was no conscious part by the writers to sideline the Shrieker - when the FF book got retooled into the modern incarnation as a team rather than just a set of heroes she simply wasn’t included and fell down the memory hole. It was years later when some writers who grew up reading the books that included her decided to work that in with a story where Baron Blade helped her get set up as a villain because the FF had snubbed her [they forgot when they told that story, it was Episode 77 - Love in the Multiverse]. That was a way to halfway acknowledge the retcon, but a retcon it was. There isn’t a clean answer to the question, but that is intentional on Christopher and Adam’s part.
- In the RevoCorp episode we were told that despite the “Re” part of his name, Re-Volt was not affiliated with RevoCorp (other than being a minor villain that they did business with - super powered employees are more trouble than they’re worth), but in the Slaughterhouse Six Interlude we were told that he was a salaried employee of RevoCorp that they’d send out on missions (and that they were responsible for his powers in much the same way that they were responsible for Setback’s), so which is it? The latter, Slaughterhouse Six, explanation is the more accurate one. That being said, the reason they were probably being unclear about it is that the three that worked for RevoCorp (Re-Volt, Desert Eagle, and Ray Manta) were individually employed by them just as the people that they are, not as the villain names. They got hired out under their villain names, but they weren’t RevoCorp-branded in the way that, say, Revenant was. They were essentially black-ops for hire that RevoCorp could disavow if they ever got caught.
- Kismet’s ability to “believe” changes into the world (cursing Pete, giving her talisman powers when it didn’t have any, etc.) seems similar to Fanatic’s - you’ve also never really explained where her luck powers came from, so does her power come from the Host like Fanatics? No, she’s unrelated to Host stuff. It’s inexplicable. Her family has always experienced luck - not ridiculously so, but enough to make a difference. Kismet was born at a particularly lucky time, during a total solar eclipse during an alignment of all planets, just some giant cosmic antenna of luck. She just is lucky and has some amount of control over it. Her “making” the talisman lucky is less a matter of believing it so (like Fanatic would) as much as focusing her luck on it. It’s a placebo that helps her use her power. By the “present” of the RPG, she’s largely come to terms with her power being her own rather than due to this external object.
- [Angry Taxpayer rant about how Ray Manta was right about Omnitron and robots needing 10 tries to get the whole “killing people is wrong” thing figured out - starts at around 59:50] What other [conspiracy] theories does Ray have besides the robot thing? So, yeah, the Robot Shadow Government. ObvliAeon was a false-flag fake. Chemtrails are really nanobots. Most of his conspiracy theories are where you take an existing conspiracy theory and throw in another twist - “here’s how they got it wrong”. The flat-earthers are wrong - the world is really a cube. He is smart enough to see how things work and go together, and he sees how automation is becoming even more prevalent and so takes that to the logical conclusion with the robot takeover. Most conspiracy theories have this weird/dangerous aspect where they make a lot of sense right up until the final conclusion.
- How does he get the Truth out to the masses that desperately need it (a blog, calling in to talk radio, a podcast - recent evidence suggests it’s not all that hard)? He definitely has a podcast. He calls in to radio shows and writes anonymous letters to newspaper editors. He’s been on George Noory.