Podcasts/Episode 158

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The Letters Page: Episode 158
Writers' Room: Tome of the Bizarre Vol 3 #151

Tome of the Bizarre Vol 3 151.png

Original Source

Primary Topic

Intro

It's such a spooky time! Not as spooky as next month, mind you, but spooky enough to tell a tale of BLOOD!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:49:58

Adam and I goof around for several minutes before finally getting into the sweet meat and sweet potatoes of the episode, at around the 5 minute mark.

We craft a thrilling tale! Neither of us knew where this would end up when we started, and you can hear us double back and rework the story as we go. Twists and turns abound! But, all told, we're pretty pleased with how it turned out. And not without future costs for both protagonist and antagonist alike!

At around the 53 minute mark, we start in on your questions, both related to Blood Countess and the Court of Blood, as well as a healthy crop of questions on the Phoenix! By popular demand!

At the end of the episode, we take only a minute or so on the cover before wrapping things up. It's nice when something comes together so neatly.

Thanks for listening, everyone! This Friday will be another Publishers' Note, featuring the return of Paul! If you have questions for him, or for me and Adam on pretty much any topic, send us your questions using this handy form!

Also, the Freedom Five board game is LIVE NOW on Kickstarter! We'll talk more about it over the next few weeks on various Letters Page episodes, especially this upcoming Publishers' Note. But you don't have to take our word for it - go check it out!

Catch you next time!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Overview

  • We’re doing a story involving Blood Countess Bathory today. Where in the timeline does that limit us to? Pretty much anywhere they like. She (and the Court of Blood) first shows up in November ’49 in Tome of the Bizarre #7 and is still around in the present [I checked with Christopher - we actually have official schedule slip here to get this issue lined up with #1 being back in October ’48]. That being said, they’re thinking something more modern (so not Golden Age or even Silver Age).
  • Christopher’s thinking a story where some hero or hero-adjacent person is “Trapped in the Court of Blood” (which is the issue title). Like it can be a play on a haunted house story where the person is trying to get out, but it just so happens that the house in question is the Court of Blood.
  • Adam’s suggestion is something like her trying to becomes a “blood god” or something. Just an inkling of an idea. Christopher counters that the reason for her to appear in an Environment deck like she does is that during the pre-OblivAeon era she doesn’t really have any major villain-scale plots that would warrant a full Villain deck of her own. Her main long-term goal has always been survival - both personally and her other vampire friends. She’s always just been a low-grade threat who could jump up a lot if her goals changed to be more aggressive. Adam does point out that what “low-grade” means can vary quite a lot depending on exact era.
  • Bouncing those ideas around, we know that in the ’80s or early ’90s there’s a Prime Wardens story involving Fanatic going to the court. How about something in the early ’00s where the Court has been shrouded by Blood Magic (y’know, because the vampires know that the heroes know where the castle is and could roll in to clean house if they didn’t take precautions). This disguise makes the Court appear to be a run-down Victorian house among others in a neighborhood. What if we have a story that’s a bunch of kids who go in as a dare or something (because it’s a spooky old house). The missing kids then prompt heroes to investigate [the implication here is that the castle is not only disguised, but it’s somehow actually moved in geography as well - appearing in Rook City or something]. Dark Watch could be fun, but this is mostly-magic NightMist and the uncaring Mr. Fixer at this point. Maybe have the ones with the biggest hearts on the team (Setback and Harpy) looking for the kids while the “grownups” are dealing with other stuff.
  • Even better, maybe make it just Harpy. She’s still relatively new to the hero thing and thinks she can handle this vampire problem on her own. We need to keep in mind that the request is for a “Blood Countess story”, so she should be a major feature, not necessarily just a Harpy solo adventure vs. vampires. We can have Blood Countess be aware of Harpy. She’s this powerful young magic user who’s currently learning from NightMist, but what if she learns from us instead? Try to tempt her into taking on the Court on her own, but with the actual plan to try to get her to join them.
  • The emphasis here is on Blood Countess as a beacon of control and restraint (things Harpy could use more of). She maintains her position by existing within the world rather than trying to take over (after all, if they actually followed through with “Dracula’s” plan of taking over the world, what would they eat?).
  • The “Odd Allies” issue of Dark Watch was #7 in January 2000, so that’s the earliest we can have “Harpy, student of NightMist” around. They want it to be shortly after that, but there’s not a lot of room in Dark Watch for such a story. Let’s put it in Tome of the Bizarre instead - volume 3 #151 is October 2000.
  • We can have the focus on Blood Countess be along the lines of having the majority of the issue involve her talking to/teaching Harpy. We can lean on the “wise old woman”/fairy godmother trope - some mysterious cloaked figure shows up to offer Lillian Corvus her expertise/help her reach her full potential. The readers can even be in on who she really is as they go about the (disguised) Court doing (blood) magic where we see through the cracks that Lillian is unaware of. It’s going to be along the lines of having Harpy look inwards to a source of potential magic power and then also have her note this other similar source over here, don’t think about it or look at what it is, just use it. Quickly! Before we lose control of it! (trying to trick her into whoopsie-daisy, using some Blood Magic). The specific angle to approach to get to that point is to play on the worry that NightMist isn’t giving her enough credit in her magical skills.
  • They can even have the most immediately preceding issue of Dark Watch (either the previous month or earlier this month) where something’s going wrong, she helps out to save the day, but then everyone is mad at her (they had it under control, the way she helped out was dangerous, there are already team members who are unsure of her/scared of her and this isn’t helping, etc.). Even NightMist, who’s the biggest reason she’s on the team at all, thinks she overstepped here, so she storms out.
  • Harpy’s not an idiot, though. How’s this mysterious new teacher approaching this in a way that doesn’t immediately set of warning bells? Somebody in trouble. Either have Harpy get in over her head with something or other and this lady shows up and gets her out of it or the reverse - Harpy comes across the old lady in danger and rescues her. The latter works better - it plays on the fresh wound of the team not appreciating her help if the old lady is grateful. I mean, obviously the old lady caused the trouble. Lady: “Oh, no! Look at all these vampires attacking me!” Harpy: birdsbirdsbirds Vampires: “Oh, no! We’re allergic to birds!”
  • Having the lady assume a position of “You’re the one I’ve been looking for!”. She gives a story about coming from a far-off land seeking the person who will save us all, shown in this image of prophecy (Lillian, bird motif for some reason, etc.) to make Lillian feel even more special with a “Chosen One” narrative after saving the day is another good angle to get on her good side.
  • Like, this lady is walking around Rook City in a cloak and carrying a wicker basket - she’s obviously not a local. She’s been traveling for [an amount of time] since she felt a magical disturbance or something and she’s been traveling here ever since, with [an amount of time] being how long in-comics it’s been since the event that put Lillian on the path from Matriarch to Harpy. Say 6 months or something. She wants to get out of this dangerous, vampire-ridden place. Let’s go back to my home so that I may teach you. It will take a long time unless you pull us through the veil and take us directly there. Harpy figures she can pull it off if she’s shown how (the specific vibe the old lady is shooting for is that she knows a lot, but isn’t particularly powerful herself, thus the trouble with the vampires rather than taking care of them herself). The direction involves pulling on the power of her defeated foes (y’know, obviously Blood Magic for those of us in the audience).
  • Thinking about it a bit, they don’t want to play the vampire card so early. Maybe she just found herself some general Rook City thugs to get in “trouble” with. Birds peck them and drive them off, but they bleed some in the process. The old lady tells Harpy to feel for the power of her defeated foes that’s residual in this place and that can be drawn on, when in reality that power is specifically due to the drops of blood left behind.
  • They teleport and arrive at what looks like some old, dilapidated manor. So something still big and impressive, but not the standard castle [teleporting also lets them get around the Court-in-Rook-City thing it sounded like they were suggesting earlier?]. Her story is that she found this disused building and made a little home for herself within it as nobody else was using it.
  • So, we can then have a magical training montage of sorts. The incremental steps here involve getting Harpy to accept and use these external power sources that have been disguised so as to not appear to be the ridiculous amounts of blood flowing through the Court. As that goes on, she’s hoping to break down the barriers between Harpy’s own magical abilities and the powers of the Court. We still want some moments of resistance here; stuff to give the readers hope that Harpy will get out of this situation.
  • Let’s stop here for a moment, then, and consider where we want this to eventually lead. Do we have her wise up at some point and fight back? Do we have her reveal that she knew the old lady was up to no good the whole time and she played along to find out more? NightMist comes and saves her?
  • They don’t think Harpy knows the whole time. The thing that’s being led up to is convincing Harpy to kill somebody. Oh, there we go. The old lady’s life purpose being fulfilled by finding Harpy, the last step is for Harpy to kill her and consume her blood, taking her life’s energy and making it part of Harpy’s own. It’s Blood Countess so “killing” her is fine, but it’s a way to get Harpy to step over that line and get vampirized. The old lady is like 130 years old and will die soon enough anyway, so why not make that death worth something by doing this; just trying to give enough excuses to help Harpy overcome the ick factor here. The specific temptation here is a shortcut to power - she had a ton of power and could unleash so much of it as Matriarch and is bristling under NightMist’s restrictive training. Having something of similar power, but under more control is very enticing. NightMist’s whole deal has been that Lillian needs to forget about the power of the Matriarch and just move forward in a sustainable, safe way.
  • Ok, so steps along the way. First was the teleportation thing. Last is killing the old lady and taking her blood. We need at least 2 steps between them.
  • First (which is an example mentioned a few times prior) can be her observing this crystal clear pool of fae-blessed water where her power is revealed by dipping her hand in and it turns to blood - see how powerful you are, you can create the very substance of life itself (in reality it’s just a bog-standard Court of Blood pool of blood that’s been disguised).
  • The last of these intermediate steps can be using her own blood as a power source. Like, some villagers come to kill vampires drive away this old lady they think is a witch and Harpy defends the building. She doesn’t want to kill these people to use their blood to power the defense against the rest of them, so the old lady prompts Harpy with a spindle to drive into her own hand to get access to some of her own latent power. Another aspect of this can be convincing Lillian that controlling people’s minds the way she does birds is really the same thing and is ok to do. She doesn’t read or understand the thoughts of the birds, just tells them what to do or sees through their eyes. The explanation the old lady gives is that she’s not controlling the minds of these things, but the life energy within them directly. She’s trying to convince Harpy that what she does is already Blood Magic the type of thing she’s teaching her to do here. She gives it a lot of names, even dropping Blood Magic here as a derogatory term used by people who don’t understand that it’s just Life Magic, really. Being thus convinced, she meat puppets the villagers back home with a creepy red glow in their eyes.
  • They want one more thing. Maybe actually using the pool blood to make something. She shapes it into a “blood raven” or something - to show that she’s the chosen one by creating a living being. It’s even more powerful and difficult to control than other ravens she’s encountered in the past. In reality, there’s some chicanery involved and the created animal is just a shape-changed vampire, which is why its mind is more resistant.
  • There we go, back to the moment of truth with “killing the old lady” as the final step. Part of the deal with “Life Magic” is the balance between life and death - the latter is part of it and not something to shy away from. I have lived this long to bring you these truths and now my role is to die.
  • Having set up this situation where it’s entirely plausible that Harpy does this, what happens to dissuade her? Maybe during the incident with the villagers she gets an intense feeling of fear coming from them. Not anger. Fear. The story of this old “witch” who hasn’t actually done anything to these people doesn’t add up when measured against the fear she felt.
  • They don’t feel like NightMist should show up to save the day now. Harpy should get out of the situation on her own, and then go back to NightMist appreciating her approach more (although now with a little Blood Magic in her - although that in itself is less concerning than the whole Matriarch thing).
  • Maybe after Harpy pushes back a little at the end, Blood Countess just drops the facade. Look, you can see the efficacy of this. We’ve got this super-powerful girls’ club going here. Just join us.
  • Going back to sow some more seeds of where things are heading. The readers are probably clued in to the old lady’s true identity within a page of meeting her. Maybe there’s a prologue scene showing her scheme and this whole thing is narrated from her point of view - this is her recruitment process and we’re getting the details. They don’t add new Court members very often, so it’s a special event (especially for new top-level recruits created by Blood Countess herself).
  • The prologue thing is good. We see the Court members discussing this powerful young woman while viewing her in a blood pool (a bit of humor from Matron Erzsi about how terrible it is to be old forever, which seems to be a constant complaint from her by the others’ reactions). Then we get the name drop that “Then it is agreed, Lillian Corvus will become one of us.”
  • Talking through the plot, Christopher dislikes the blood raven thing. They can get to the Court with all the blood turned off, but the second test can just be extending the “you’ve turned water to the very stuff of life” thing to having her bring it forth everywhere. Basically, she’s just being told to cancel the magic that’s already in place to hide all of the blood. Maybe seeing the Court of Blood living up to its name again is what prompts the angry mob to show up.
  • Anyway, some time after the re-bloodening can be spent on a tour where Blood Countess can really dig into the “this place is now full of Life” angle. Christopher also likes the idea of the term “Life Witches” being the preferred nomenclature. Lot’s of “Oh woe is me, poor misunderstood magician who [deals with a bunch of stuff that’s been picked to resonate with Harpy’s frustrations with NightMist].” Maybe having the place so full of life has more “Life Witches” approach the house from the woods. She’s come home. Sure, she’s never been here before, but look at this group of people you already belong to without realizing it. This plays against the “You’re not my real mom!” storming out that Harpy did after the last Dark Watch adventure.
  • Then we get the angry mob bit and the final “kill me to complete your journey” thing. There can even be a knowing look around the other “Life Witches” - this is the line they all heard from Blood Countess back in the day. Harpy picks up on it - it’s weird for them all to have done something like this if she’s the specific Chosen One. They placate those worries.
  • When it comes down to it, Harpy’s just not going to kill somebody. That’s the reason she doesn’t go through with it. She’s willing to pay the costs for a lot of the magical stuff, but killing a person just to get more power? She has enough power - she’s not so power-hungry as to cross that line.
  • That’s when Blood Countess drops the ruse. “[exasperated sigh] You’re such a child.” and they drop all the illusions. The world is bigger than you know, we want you to join us. Harpy’s heard of Blood Countess Bathory and the vampires and recognizes them, but she’s never encountered them. She (and the reader) expect some kind of showdown here. Harpy summons some power to herself, birds start swarming, etc. Blood Countess responds with something like, “If you don’t want to join us, you’re irrelevant,” before just knocking Harpy through a portal back to Rook City.
  • Adam interjects (with Christopher’s immediate agreement). Blood Countess’s closing comment isn’t so dismissive. It’s more like a “Well, I’m not going to fight you. Now you’ve had a taste of what we offer. Keep that in mind as you age and your power wanes. [More comedy from Matron Erzsi about wanting to join while you’re young.] We’ll be here when you want to join, but stay out of our affairs otherwise.” kind of open-ended plot seeding.
  • Anyway, Harpy returns to the team. She’s apologetic about her attitude, control and training is important, yadda yadda. NightMist notes something different about her, but Harpy brushes that off to go study. As she’s reading a book, she looks at her wounded hand. Sure, she didn’t do the thing, but she’s had her worldview shaken and now she’s got this temptation sitting there in her mind all the time.
  • Do they want to give the Old Lady persona a name? It would be weird for her to not introduce herself. Oh, she just goes by Erzsébet. That’s Countess Bathory’s actual given name in Hungarian rather than the anglicized Elizabeth. [Christopher spelled it Erzebet in the episode, but I confirmed the more traditional spelling of Erzsébet. For the curious - the ZS cluster in Hungarian represents the sound the S has in English “measure” or the G in “genre”.]

Questions

  • If Countess Bathory turned herself into a vampire using a ritual she found in a book, but also was the first vampire, who wrote the ritual? Why didn’t they use it themselves? Did Bathory use it wrong/differently than it was intended somehow? Think of it as a theoretical “Huh… if you do this exactly right you could live forever.” sort of thought experiment. Sure, several people over the years tried it, but nobody was successful until her. As for the question of her doing something “wrong”… They don’t think that she would have done so by accident. She might have not followed it as-written intentionally. There was likely also a big hurdle in terms of gathering the necessary Life energy (say, enough sacrifices) to jump start the whole thing which may have been prohibitive to most people trying this in the first place. Or maybe it’s initially a ritual to extend one’s life by, say, 10 years by killing somebody and she just goes a bit farther with it and that resulted in her becoming this new thing.
  • Does that ritual still exist? Could somebody else use it to become a new vampire progenitor? Does it have to use troughs made of black poplar, or was that just the wood that she had on hand? If not, would these new vampires be especially weak to that other kind of wood instead? She destroyed the ritual that she had access to. It’s within the realm of possibility that there’s other copies out in the world that she’s unaware of. This was hinted at in the “Dracula” story as it was supposed to be an entirely separate line of vampires from her and her fear was that somebody else had managed to do what she had done. Her overarching goal is survival, slowly growing the ranks, but remaining the only being at her level of power. It’s important to her that she’s the only one, so suppressing the ritual is vital. They imagine that black poplar is required for what she did. Using a different kind of wood might not completely ruin the ritual, but the result would be different (like you might get a man-bat vampire thing). They also think that for narrative reasons it’s likely to need to be something suitably “magical” sounding. Like, generic pine or oak aren’t likely to cut it as they’re too boring.
  • The Blood Magic episode mentioned that the ritual required to destroy Blood Countess is complicated, requiring human sacrifice, etc.; could other Blood Mages we know about (Hermetic, Biomancer, Nixious the Chosen, etc.) more easily destroy her? Would they be inclined to do so? Anybody who already knows Blood Magic stuff (Lifeline included) would have a leg-up on doing so. It’s a “fight fire with fire” situation. Like, because she’s being sustained by Blood Magic, it’s a more powerful tool when used against her, but it also means tangling with her in her area of expertise as she’s one of the most powerful Blood Mages of all time (if not the most powerful). Inclination to actually do so? That’s more a case-by-case basis depending on the story being told. They could come up with reasons for them to go after her, but just as easily could have reasons they might giver her a wide berth. It’s kind of interesting now that they think of it that all of the various Blood Mages tend to be pretty isolated. They don’t want to be noticed.
  • The effects of the “Unhallowed Halls” card that prevents Radiant damage and boosts Infernal seems to be directed at Fanatic by suppressing her faith-based powers and boosting the Vampiric Blood Magic; does the fact that it also boosts Discordian magic like NightMist, Harpy, or GloomWeaver’s show a similarity there or is that just an artifact of the game mechanics? The Court of Blood is a place of great magical power. Sure, it’s characterized by Blood Magic, but it’s still there just waiting to be grabbed and used by other magicians like the ones you mentioned. It might tempt them to use Blood Magic in the process (like this episode’s whole plot centered around).
  • The general vibe of the Court being this thing that you can’t really beat seems pretty gloomy; have any sillier characters like Guise or Wager Master had stories that took place there? Probably not Wager Master. There have also probably been stories where vampires have gone after Guise, but they don’t think they took place at the Court (they’re imagining a story titled something like “Guise fights all the Draculas” - like he’s going around to other heroes asking for Quests to help him become the best hero and Fanatic’s like “I dunno. Go fight all the Draculas.” “Awesome!”).
  • How does vampiric immortality work in Sentinel Comics? If I were to decapitate the Blood Countess and/or blow a hole through her chest, what happens? Does it A) not happen because her constitution is too great to allow it, B) it happens but doesn’t seem to prevent her from continuing as usual sans head/with ventilation, or C) magic just restores heals her good as new? Their inclination is a combination A and C. It’s very hard to do so in the first place, but she’d just heal from such injuries, like if the T-1000 was made of blood instead of metal or just picking up her head and putting back on like it was nothing. Using the ritual to unmake her would cause her to just collapse into blood that quickly rots into dust.
  • Would Zhu Long know enough to be able to easily dispatch her? Would he want to? He could do it if he wanted to. He probably doesn’t think about her much and just finds the young woman amusing with her little Blood Magic thing going on over there. She just doesn’t factor into what his own plans are, but if there’s ever a reason for him to, say, need to get rid of all Blood Mages out there he’d have no problems casually taking her and her little gang down.
  • Are there any liquid-based landed titles out there (Petty King of Water, Duke of Milk, Earl of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Marquis of Coffee)? They can’t answer this. Can’t draw attention to the liquid kingdom conspiracies.
  • Is “The Court of Blood” a name given to the place/people in fear or is it a self-applied term adopted by the Countess herself? It’s used by the vampires themselves to refer to the physical place and to the ruling council that meets there.
  • Have we ever had a situation where the Court of Blood had to deal with the Bloodsworn Colosseum? Would would win, Blood Countess Bathory or Kaargra Warfang? They don’t think that they’ve ever met, but the question of who would win in a fight is an interesting one. They think the Countess wins - Kaargra’s a more capable combatant, but just can’t keep her down. Like, we’d have several rounds of Kaargra grabbing her and doing some ridiculously brutal fighting/wrestling moves on her, just for the Countess to get back up moments later. Eventually the vampire would get her fangs into Kaargra.
  • Who are the bestial figures attacking Fanatic in her Prime Wardens incap art? Those are vampire thralls. They start off just being people the vampires feed on, eventually get turned, and then just carry out menial tasks. When they’ve lost enough of their humanity they turn into these feral ghouls and are the vampire equivalent of mooks for the heroes to fight as opposed to the ones who still look basically human all the way up to the named ones that are more powerful.
  • [Post script asking about the mechanics of letter submission: when you’re filling in the “what is this about” question you can put in a specific episode name, put in multiple comma-separated topics, etc. It’s just a thing they use as helpful notes when sorting things into the appropriate episode. They’re looking at them manually rather than any kind of automated process which is why some questions wind up in episodes other than what the writer might put in if they think it’d actually fit better elsewhere.]
  • Does she have a name for her sword? No. While she’ll use swords, there isn’t a specific special one. She’s been around a while - she has a bunch to choose from (or just Blood Magic up one if necessary). If somebody were to ask her this question, though, she’d likely ad lib some nonsense to make it seem like it was special. Maybe even offering it to you if you were to complete some task for her. She’s even give it to you if you succeeded.
  • Is there any inherent bond between the Countess and her physical Court? Could she replicate or move that nexus of power? There weren’t special ley lines or anything that made that specific geographic location special. As hinted earlier, but it wound up being a direction they didn’t actually go in this story, they could move the Court of Blood if necessary. While there wasn’t a pre-existing specialness about the location, it’s become so due to the amount of blood spilled there, but this also means it could be replicated. If they were to move the Court it would leave behind a place that was unusable for anything else.
  • If the Court of Blood were destroyed (say, by a fuel/air explosion) what would it take/cost to repair it? They couldn’t just snap their fingers and magic the place back to how it was. The Court is as much the people as the place, though. If the vampires themselves survived they could either enthrall a bunch of locals to rebuild it or they could relocate and reestablish a new Court elsewhere.
  • We were told earlier that Blood Countess could gain some power from drinking a hero’s blood; how much would she have to drink to get that effect? Does she gain more of their power if she drinks more of it? If she drains them completely would she get the power permanently or would it be better to keep them captive to top-off every once in a while? She couldn’t take her power completely by draining them. She’d have the power longer depending on how much she drank, but that means the latter option of keeping the hero captive is the better (for her, not them) tactic. She’d have the power for days, maybe weeks if she drained somebody entirely. They don’t think she’s ever really had an opportunity to do so to a hero, though (maybe just somebody with powers of some sort generally).
  • Could she hold multiple powers at once this way? Yeah, but she’d burn through them faster.
  • Of the heroes/villains with powers, what are her top 5 most-wanted powers to steal? She doesn’t spend a lot of time planning this sort of thing. She thinks highly of herself as it is and is quite happy with the powers she has. The times she does so would be more tactical decisions in the middle of a given fight. It gives her a boost, disheartens the opposition, and takes that person out of the fight at least for a while.
  • [Sorry not sorry letter] If you are what you eat, does that mean that the ladies of the Court of Blood will always be positive?
  • [Disgruntled Cult of Gloom letter as they’re all bummed about being stuck inside as we approach Halloween] If the Countess were to change Legacy into a vampire, would the first person that she changed into a vampire count as her first offspring for the Legacy power inheritance? That’s a delightful question, but they don’t think so. The person that’s turned into a vampire would already be a “person” before getting connected to Legacy.
  • Have the various supernaturally long-lived entities out there realized that this Parsons family thing is going to be a problem that only gets worse over time? Nobody’s ever had that kind of forward-thinking approach to the Legacies in general.
  • Have Countess Bathory and Baron Blade ever gotten into it over their various levels of nobility? Have they ever met? They don’t think they’ve met. They don’t run in similar circles. Christopher can see some situation where Baron Blade goes to her offering to get her a lot of blood (he knows some people) if she does something for her. The reverse isn’t likely as she isn’t the big plot type. [I’ll also chime in here that Count/Countess is a rank falling above Baron/Baroness and below Duke/Duchess.]
  • Any good spooky movie recommendations as we’re all going to be stuck inside anyway? Thoughts on the horror genre in general? Christopher would want more specifics on what you mean by “horror” as there are so many sub-categories that could count. He does mention that Hereditary is a bit of a trip. He’s not into jump scares or gore, but this is atmospherically terrifying. Adam does like The Witch, Occulus, and The Babadook. Beyond that he likes the old classic Universal monster movies which aren’t really scary, but he loves them. On that note he’ll also mention The Monster Squad which he pitches as “what if Universal monsters met The Goonies” since Christopher wasn’t aware of that one.
  • Are there vampires in Sentinel Comics that don’t originate from the Court of Blood? Are there differences? There are a bunch of different groups of vampires out there. Not all of them are affiliated with the Court of Blood and so might have their own kind of “culture” or whatever. However, they all trace their descent back to Blood Countess Bathory - she was the first and the source of all vampirism in the setting. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of other vampire-esque things existing (extradimensional aliens, demons, etc. that drink blood or whatever), but the specific Blood Magic curse that is how vampires are defined in Sentinel Comics comes from her. All vampires are powered by Blood Magic, but not all vampires are practitioners of Blood Magic. They think they’ve talked in the past about how the vampires that Blood Countess makes directly are very powerful (although less powerful than the Countess herself) and can make more vampires that are weaker still, eventually getting to a low-level where individuals can’t make more.
  • What role did Countess Bathory play in the two World Wars that happened around her? Did she enjoy the carnage? Did any of the wartime powers attempt to ally themselves with the vampires? What about the USSR? Her main goal would just be to stay out of sight and survive. They can see maybe some group of vampires going out and becoming the “Red Vampire Squad” or something. Adam likes a Hellboy-esque story where the Nazis try to weaponize the vampires due to Hitler’s interest in the occult, but get wiped out in the attempt.
  • Has the Court ever been “at war” with another group (say, Zhu Long, Cult of Gloom, the Organization, or a cult of OblivAeon)? Not really. They’d avoid conflict with Zhu Long as part of that “survival” thing. The Organization just seems unlikely. The Cult of Gloom seems possible, but they’re not likely to go to “war” with them from their end and if the Gloomies tried to start something they’d just make themselves unfindable. They’re not interested in a prolonged conflict. There hasn’t been a Cult of OblivAeon present on Earth for them to interact with anyway.
  • Given we know that a version of the Countess wound on on the Preservation team in Prime War - has the main timeline’s version ever tried to revert society back to an earlier, less changeable time? This like the previous two questions are getting at “have there been stories where Blood Countess tried to pull off some major plot/get involved in major events?” and the answer again is that she hasn’t. Her plot is for the world to continue on as it has while she continues to exist. There could come a time in the future where she’s no longer able to stay hidden out of sight as she has, and that might be an interesting development. Also notes that the Prime War version of her is a much different person.
  • Has there been a Disparation story involving her that takes place closer to her own time? Potentially. There’s probably “other era” Sentinel stories out there.
  • Could you give us a teaser about what’s in store for the Court of Blood so that we can use them canon-appropriately in an ongoing RPG campaign? This is what they were hinting at by them having to adapt from their “hiding” strategy in order to survive. They need to find new ways to continue. They don’t want to really get into it too much.
  • Back in Editor’s Note 38 when you first mentioned that there was a Phoenix and that it had some purpose - now that we’ve heard more about what the specific Phoenix of Sentinel Comics is like, can you revisit that “purpose” aspect? As they’ve created it, its purpose is simply to die, be reborn, come into its full knowledge and power, only to die again and repeat the cycle. Whether or not its creation served some original purpose, who can say? It has not yet been revealed.
  • [Birthday request: “The U.S.S. Make Shit Up” by Aurelio Voltaire]
  • If you could find some way to prevent the new Phoenix from gaining the memories of their previous existences, but allow the knowledge of their powers to come through, would they still “break” and go on a rampage? Could they stay “good”? In theory, yes, but they’d become a ticking time-bomb. Christopher describes this thought experiment regarding immortality but balanced with an immortal snail that knows where you are and will kill you if it ever succeeds in touching you as a similar situation. The power is meant to be fully realized and will only be so when the knowledge is there too. It will be a constant battle and if it’s ever lost, it’s all over. The longer it’s held back, the more catastrophic it will be when released.
  • Was “The Phoenix Redeemed” the last printed Phoenix story? No.
  • What was the name of the person who wanted to do good before the power awakened? Constance Clarke.
  • If they haven’t fallen yet, will they be a supporting character in Arcane Tales Vol. 3 alongside Anubis? Bad news, that Phoenix is gone, but they don’t want to get into the Phoenix stuff they have planned for the RPG yet.
  • Just some interesting trivia: Simurgh is a Persian mythical bird with some similarities to the Phoenix and Duat is the Egyptian land of the dead.
  • Letter posits a connection: a story about a young man who rises too high before burning out and dying - Icarus as an incarnation of the Phoenix that’s had its details shift over centuries as a morality tale. You’d have to do some serious squishing of some story details, but that’s interesting.
  • Is there a new Cult of Ra in the Multiverse era? How does Fanatic feel about it if so? If there was, does it still exist post-OblivAeon when Ra is dead? Would Fanatic’s feelings towards them change? By the end of the Multiverse era Ra would have disavowed any “official” Cult of Ra, but that wouldn’t necessarily have prevented people here and there from thinking of themselves as Ra-worshipers given that they see that he exists. If anything, it’s possible that a new Cult of Ra would pop up post-OblivAeon because of that whole “he died to save us all” thing. Fanatic’s not going to be super into any of those things.
  • As Fanatic processes her grief, how does she behave? Does she go out to settle some old scores on Ra’s behalf? Does she turn to anybody in particular to help her work through things? You’re basically asking them to tell you “What does Fanatic do after the RPG Starter Kit?” and they’ll get to that in time. She is very upset and will have to process that in her own way.
  • The Magical Mage writes: “The Ode to Ra” [I think I’ve got this, there might be intended punctuation in there that I’ve not included]

I admire that handsome lord of the sun.
Who against the Ennead has twice won.
Who captivates the heart of Fanatic.
Who has a flair for the dramatic.
Who is the form of the great archaeologist.
Who on subduing evildoers does subsist.
Who has many times worked with NightMist the occultist.
Who can of the citadel queen’s energy resist.
Who burnt a piece of OblivAeon in a fiery rage.
Who was worshiped in Egypt in the Bronze Age.
Who is the friend of that great alchemical sage.
Who is the protector of this magic place mage.

  • Continuing for the actual question: What happened to the villains you created in the Ra Villains episode after OblivAeon? Do their stories get wrapped up before OblivAeon? Do they show up for other magical-themed heroes? Are they just forgotten after OblivAeon? Will we see them the RPG? The arcs of the Phoenix, Kleptek, and the Colossus of Giza don’t get resolved before Ra’s death, but they’re still around. They may be forgotten by some, but we’ll have to see what the future holds. [This is me interjecting a bit, but my interpretation of the purpose of Creative Process episodes of the podcast in general is largely to provide story/character fodder for the RPG - I’d be surprised if anything that is created for these episodes doesn’t make it into the planned RPG (or related) materials somewhere.]

Cover Discussion

  • Is there even anything to discuss here? It’s obviously “Vampire Harpy”. Maybe some blood ravens flying around?