The Letters Page: Episode 169
Creative Process: Hero HQs
People, places, and odds-and-ends!
Run Time: 1:48:14
This is an interesting "creative process" episode, in that you get to see a slightly darker side of the creative process. Both Adam and I were feeling pretty rough at the time of recording, but we slogged on and made it happen. By the end, we feel like it turned out to be solid, but we wanted to be honest about our process here.
After about 55 minutes of goofs, storytelling, and place-crafting, we get to your questions! Thanks for asking them!
- The Freedom Five
- Baron Blade
- Prime Wardens
- Argent Adept
- Dark Watch
- Mr. Fixer
- The Southwest Sentinels
- Dr. Medico
- Absolute Zero
- Aeon Girl
- Ignazio Gallo
- Kaargra Warfang
- The Bloodsworn Entity
- Hero headquarters is the topic of the day. They’ve done a little prep work in that they’ve gone through the list of heroes already to at least have thought about who has something for them to delve into now.
- An early goof about “top 10 HQs, ranked by number of satellite dishes” resulted in a discussion that the old Freedom Five HQ likely had a bunch, but Freedom Tower doesn’t because they’ve found something better and this then devolved into the decision that the entirety of Freedom Tower is a giant wifi antenna. Anyway…
- There’s the original Freedom Five HQ, which is the stone building with an arch/dome look to it [seen on Miss Information’s “What Doesn’t Kill You…” card and Vengeance Baron Blade’s “Obsessive Planning” card]. It was the home of the Freedom Five until Baron Blade destroyed it during the Vengeance event. This leaves a very brief window when Unity would have been present there as well.
- They’d also qualify the Eaken-Rubendall Labs building as a secondary location/HQ for Tachyon and Unity, Montgomery Industries buildings for Wraith, and there’s likely a military base that Bunker’s associated with (scratch that, a bit later they decide that FFHQ has enough of a government/military vibe to it that Bunker’s likely permanently attached there rather than having a connection to an outside base). Legacy doesn’t really have a secondary HQ, unless you count his house (which prompts a discussion of whether your home can count as your HQ - imagining something like those wine-mom “Live Laugh Love” signs hanging up, or a cross-stitch that says “Headquarters is where you hang your cape.”).
- The original FFHQ is on an island off the coast of Megalopolis rather than being in the city proper. Relocating to the city when they build Freedom Tower is a notable move (and Freedom Plaza in the post-OblivAeon era remains in the city as the HQ of the Sentinels of Freedom). They think that Freedom Tower and its staff have been covered sufficiently between the SotM deck and previous episodes. The original HQ hasn’t really been covered as in-depth, though.
- FFHQ likely looks more like a classic, old school tv hero HQ. They’ve probably got some kind of “crime computer”. There’s one giant screen to show everybody what’s going on with an oversized keyboard below and a big table for them to all sit around. It’s kind of treated as something of a combination government building/military base/college dorm.
- So, Tachyon and Unity have their outside lab situation going on. Wraith is really the only one to have a significant solo HQ situation going on as she likely has a secret setup in any of the various Montgomery Industries buildings to help with her solo heroics. Plus the occasional safehouse (plus a high-altitude plane that is always in the air, getting refueled mid-flight - look, you gotta spend your money on something).
- This latter one is ridiculous, but they come around to actually liking the idea that it’s actually brought up in the mid-2000s or something when somebody asks how long she’s had the plane and her replying that she’s had it all along. How else do you think she gets around the so quickly (and on short notice)? It’s always nearby. The plane likely showed up as background detail here and there over the decades, but wasn’t actually mentioned in dialog until the 2000s.
- Further discussion on the ridiculous premise that the plane hasn’t landed in years. Convoluted repair processes, likely resulting in a Ship of Theseus situation where the last time it was actually on the ground it was an entirely different plane. It’s a big, “flying fortress” style thing with VTOL engines and redundancies so they can take some offline individually for repairs while still airborne. Some kind of “pods” for people to get to/from the thing are probably necessary, but they don’t think it has smaller aircraft in it. By the ’00s we’ve got enough “future tech” from Tachyon’s lab that we’re probably just running some kind of fusion plant on this thing so that it doesn’t actually need fuel anymore. Now that they’ve developed this thing they need an appropriate name for it - they call it The Spirit.
- As an aside, this process has given them an idea for how to structure this episode. For each hero team they reiterate the stuff they’ve already told us, but then do a creative process for some new thing. They’ve mentioned the Freedom Five having a “Freedom Jet” or something in the past - The Spirit is now the answer to what that was.
- On to the Prime Wardens - they didn’t have much of a “headquarters” until the 2010s. When they told the story of Tempest’s Val’Maera “holiday” they mentioned the team meeting in Argent Adept’s apartment. Fanatic has that church she hangs out in. The Prime Wardens are weird (in a number of ways, but in particular for this discussion…) in that a threat is imminent and they just kind of… show up. Feeling things in the Void or through Ley Lines or though their faith or whatever they just know where they’ll need to be. They don’t need a “crime computer” or anything.
- They suppose that there is the magical grove of trees that Argent Adept hangs out in and the others can visit. He also probably does some magic telepathic link thing if something comes up and they’re not already near each other. Adam suggests some kind of “pocket dimension” that they can use to get from one place to another - he suggests some kind of weird “floating rock with portals” which Christopher points out is basically what the Block was. Maybe some part of the Realm of Discord? If so, that’s much more a NightMist/Dark Watch thing, so maybe not here. AA also wouldn’t suggest traveling through the Void to get places, so that’s out.
- It’s interesting that the two ideas they’ve had so far are both “transportation” things. Prime Wardens have less of an issue there - most of them can fly, and if they need to get long distances, AA can just magic them somewhere else. What does a HQ for the Prime Wardens even look like before they take up residence in the Ruins of Atlantis? AA’s magic grove might be the most headquarters-like place that any of them have. He spends time there himself (and is where he keeps his instruments until he summons them). Other people can go into it and we know he can summon it in incongruous environments.
- So, the “ground floor” of the grove is just the grassy clearing in the middle. The grove is in a forest, but only the trees around the edges surrounding the clearing get “summoned”. These can be shaped into stairs and stuff so that there can be multiple levels around the place and have kind of a treehouse feel to them.
- It probably has a name too. “The Arboretum” isn’t bad, but the Argent Adept is a Virtuoso of the Void, so it should probably have an alliterative name too. The Arboretum Arcanum works. So this is something else like the plane in that it’s something we’ve known exists for a long time, but they’re just fleshing it out a bit. This is the closest thing the Prime Wardens have to a headquarters due to the fact that they’re weird, and that was more AA’s place and the others could just go there with him if necessary. Nobody else in the team really has anything like equipment that they would need to keep someplace other than on their person. Haka has his weapons, but he kind of just uses them if he has them and doesn’t worry about it if he happens to not have them handy when a situation crops up.
- Moving on to Dark Watch. Mr. Fixer has Slim’s Auto Shop and the team has certainly operated out of there occasionally. NightMist has her P.I. office, but that’s more just for her stories in particular (mostly in the ’60s through ’80s). The others have likely been there, but it’s not a “base” of any sort for the team. Expatriette has a series of safehouses all over, any one of which can act as an HQ for her. The HQ we know about is NightMist’s house, Diamond Manor (which gets a new name post-OblivAeon).
- That brings up a point regarding an earlier idea. The “not the Block” portal area in the Realm of Discord wouldn’t really be a headquarters so much as a means of conveyance, but we already know that the doors of Diamond Manor open to a variety of places. It might not be able to connect to any arbitrary place, and probably mostly within the one reality, but it kind of makes the idea redundant.
- Let’s go back to the Prime Wardens briefly. How do they get in and out of the Ruins of Atlantis once they set up shop there? Tempest can obviously swim there. Argent Adept can teleport everybody there, but they likely don’t want to rely on him to be a taxi service. Maybe the portal area is something built by the Atlanteans.
- We wind up with, rather than a part of the RoD with portals, it’s a location associated with the Ruins of Atlantis that connects to stone arches all over the world. They look just like normal stone arches and you can see and walk through them without anything weird happening. There are grapefruit-sized hollows in the arches and if you put salt water in them, it activates and walking through the arch transports you to Atlantis. At first Christopher figures you’ve got to fill these hollows up with like a cup of water, but Adam suggests the idea that you can get by with a tear, so it’s any amount of salt water, but it’s situated where it’s unlikely (although certainly not impossible) that it would get activated accidentally. These arches are all over (although Christopher states arbitrarily but emphatically that there are 12 of them) - some got incorporated into city architecture as the city grew around them, others are just standing out in the middle of nowhere. The portals link to that kind of “floating rock with portals” space, “The Atlantean Pathway”, that has the 12 doors around the edges with a central one linking to Atlantis. This gives the Prime Wardens a means of getting in and out of their HQ, but also a means of getting around the world quickly. This wouldn’t have been discovered until relatively recently - a lot of the early Atlantis stories likely involved submarines to get there.
- Back to Dark Watch. Having thought a little about it, delving a bit more into Diamond Manor itself might be better than coming up with something new. They’ve said some things about it, but there’s a lot that’s not really defined yet regarding it.
- Doors: NightMist can do a thing to any door to turn it into a door to Diamond Manor temporarily. The Manor itself is out in the swamp near Rook City, but there is a door of a building in Rook City that’s set up as a permanent door to the Manor as well. They toy very briefly with this door being to a nondescript house, but they want it to be in the city proper. Maybe the building her P.I. office is in has one of those half-stairways down to the office with a half-stairway up to what would appear to be a narrow shotgun apartment, but really opens into the Manor.
- Within the Manor the layout doesn’t make logical sense for a house. There’s a magical library, a “relic room” that’s not for showing off these interesting artifacts so much as it’s imprisoning them (although it certainly doesn’t hold all of the “don’t touch that” kinds of items), and there’s probably some kind of ritual space in the basement.
- When leaving the house, the front door can act as either a door to the swamp or to Rook City. NightMist can also change other doors to lead to other places (“Isn’t that the coat closet?” “Nope, now it’s ancient Greece.” [note that this was said in a somewhat jokey way - there’s been some discussion by people who have listened to this before I got to it on whether they just casually dropped the fact that NightMist can time travel, which seems at least somewhat plausible given what we know of time travel and what we know of NightMist’s extra-dimensional portal abilities, but I’d say that the reading here isn’t exactly conclusive - a question for later perhaps]).
- Adding new rooms/features: some kind of observatory at the top (adjustable so that you can use it to observe the sky in other times or places, like the RoD).
- Does she live here alone? Does she have magical servants or anybody like a groundskeeper? They think she’s the only human. They’re not opposed to the idea that some kinds of magical critters come to her for sanctuary and agree to help maintain the place in return (they first started down the “making pacts with creatures in return for not banishing them” but that’s a little too much coercion). There’s probably a garden for some food, but also exotic plants used for magical properties and somebody’s got to tend to that. Same with the observatory and the library. She’s got a little supporting cast of creatures that have made a deal with her to help around the house in exchange for protection. This probably started with a single one showing up back in the ’70s with more showing up over the years. By OblivAeon the house was probably pretty bustling with all of them.
- Oh no… When NightMist becomes the gate and “dies” all of the pacts with these guys are broken and they all have to flee. That’s part of why Harpy has trouble picking up where NightMist left off - she doesn’t know how any of the stuff in the house works because it all used to be taken care of by the helpers. That could be additional plot hooks for her as she tries to track them down again to help and/or reestablish their deals.
- They really like this addition to the house. It’s not just the inert relics and reagents around the place, but a kind of menagerie of weird creatures who all live there too. That activity is a nice touch that was missing previously as it also gives more characters for NightMist to talk to in her solo stories. It’s also an excuse for additional magical microclimates throughout the house (this one needs to live near some kind of magical crystals, so one wall has some crystals growing out of it, etc.).
- On to the Southwest Sentinels/Void Guard? Well, as the Southwest Sentinels they kind of just operated out of Dr. Medico’s house and/or the shed behind the house. The fact that they pretty much operated as a “family” dealing with “local crime stuff” makes that not particularly odd. As they move into more of a “superhero” stance they get involved in Fort Adamant which has its own pros and cons. Then as they become Void Guard they get transported out into space - they’re in the Bloodsworn Colosseum for a while until they break out with Lifeline. Then they come back to Earth. There’s some more space stuff involved. Do they even have something that could qualify as a headquarters as Void Guard?
- Adam has a bad idea: a semi-sapient space ship/space station made out of an OblivAeon shard. Christopher is not sure why Adam would consider that to be a “bad idea”. There’s only one part of that he doesn’t like - it doesn’t need to be an OblivAeon shard as they’ve already got enough problems related to those. He loves the idea of a “smart” ship that’s kind of snarky. They’re a family and all get along (even with Writhe’s weirdness), so having something that can bring a different dynamic is nice.
- They don’t think somebody built it and put an AI into it. They’re imagining some kind of techno-organic creature that they saved from some situation. Given the available time line, it’s probably something that was imprisoned in the Colosseum. Like, they’re about to make their escape and this thing asks that they take it with them. They free it from the shackles/inhibitor system and it can take other shapes, and its most “natural” one is huge.
- The “inhabitable” portion of this thing is analogous to a kangaroo pouch. It’s a space that’s meant to be occupied by separate individuals. They toy with the idea that it’s kind of an anemone/clown fish mutualism, but Christopher decides that he likes the idea that the thing kind of treats them like its “babies”. That also gives an easy personality to the thing which they describe as a combination of “maternal” and the robot from Knights of the Old Republic (“Get in my larva pouch, flesh babies”). That’s a fun space base for them that can easily continue on into their “very secret plans for them in the RPG”.
- The pause for naming discussion resulted in three things: the species name, its personal name, and it’s name as a “ship”. The Galonruta are a techno-organic, space-faring species that are mono/universal/un-gendered (they self-replicate [which is assume is meant to be something analogous to parthenogenesis) and are usually solitary, but nonetheless enjoy interacting with other species. Some of them have wound up becoming space ships, but that’s relatively uncommon - carrying cargo is more common than passengers if they’re interacting with other societies. This one in particular is named Calfix (or Cal for short). When operating as a ship it goes by Criterion. The distinction can come into play as, due to its ability to change shape/size, it can cram itself down to be a cube around the size of a basketball and float along with the team.
- Note that while it’s made of metal, it’s not particularly “robot-y”. In trying to come up with an alternative to having it show “wires” the decide that any analogous processes that a robot would have wires for, it will transmit the data via light, so other than just interlocking metal pieces, it has lights here and there on it.
- It can change its form pretty easily, so it’s likely got a roughly humanoid shape we see too. That’s probably how it was first introduced in the Colosseum (which was the first time we saw it there - this is a character invented for that story as a way for them to get away). The inhibitor that was on it prevented it from changing size/shape enough to get out of the inhibitor on its own.
- Let’s do a quick rundown through some of the other heroes to see what shakes out.
- They don’t think that Ra has anything approaching a “headquarters” with the exception of Dr. Blake Washington Jr.’s home and office.
- Omnitron-X doesn’t have anything when it first shows up, eventually hanging out with the Freedom Five for Unity reasons. Omnitron-X could use a supporting cast or villains episode, frankly. Maybe a general “friends and foes” episode to cover both because it’s just going to have such slim pickings for either category. Before Unity shows up Omni-X didn’t really have anybody to play against and was pretty underutilized between its involvement in the Omnitron stories and when Unity shows up.
- Chrono-Ranger has the base in the form of CON’s bunker.
- Scholar has his houseboat. It’s the most one-the-line between that home/HQ distinction - maybe falling more on the HQ side just barely, but in ways that a lot of people wouldn’t immediately peg as important.
- Guise’s apartment isn’t his headquarters, although he insists that it is.
- Parse doesn’t have her own HQ, although she is in Freedom Tower for a while. Early Parse likely had safehouses like Expat did. Maybe more likely than Expat to have a “main” HQ, though. For Expatriette any gun will do so she’s good with whatever she’s got stashed nearby. Parse needs a bit more specialized equipment (her computer, a fletching table, etc.). Yeah, let’s put this in a storage unit. Like, she busts a gang that had a drug processing shop set up in a secret area in the back of a storage unit place. She starts leaning on the owner of the storage business who explains that the gang was threatening his family or whatever and that’s why he cooperated with them - he lets her set up shop in their old space.
- Visionary doesn’t have an HQ. This brings up the question of where she lives and how she pays for things. The answer is that she was operating in “soldier” mode when she first shows up and uses mind control to get the necessities. By the time she starts getting comfortable and might start thinking about the need to do things another way Dark Visionary happens and so the mind control continues. That remains the status quo up through Cosmic Contest which is real close to OblivAeon and so it likely never actually gets addressed in the Multiverse era. It will need to get addressed in the RPG era.
- Sky-Scraper hangs out in Freedom Tower.
- Naturalist just hangs out in nature wherever. He kind of has his business buildings that could more-or-less fit that role, but his entire story is about him moving away from that.
- K.N.Y.F.E. starts in the Block, but then steals the Yocker and operates out of that ship.
- Benchmark operates out of a RevoCorp facility.
- La Comodora has La Paradoja Magnifica.
- Given that Absolute Zero’s cryo-chamber is in the Freedom Five’s headquarters (whether that’s the original or Freedom Tower), and what we’ve seen of it involves transparent walls - does he get any privacy? Well, the walls are pretty well soundproof given the need for them to insulate temperature too, but no. He doesn’t get any real privacy and that’s kind of the problem. He’s almost always under observation and isn’t really treated with a high level of human decency for quite a long time. As he progresses as a character, so does his living situation. It’s not so much “oh, you’re a nicer person now so we’ll treat you better” and more a result of him having advocates beyond himself that can push for him to be treated as less of a scientific oddity and more like a person who deserves some accommodations.
- What about the rest of the furnishings? Does he have any kind of comfortable furniture or decorations? Beyond the system Tachyon rigged up for him to listen to music, what other comforts have they cold-proofed for him? The imagine that over the years the chamber has been adjusted - there’s the front area with the window, but there’s also a door at the back that leads to a few private rooms for him. Likely a bed and chair. There’s probably a screen built into a wall that allows him to watch TV or read things that are projected onto it. For books they’ve probably found some material that can 1) have things printed onto it and 2) can survive at his ambient temperature. He’ll have to ask for a particular book to be made available to him so that it can be printed, though. Beyond that he can read any book while wearing his suit, and in the RPG era he has his “teaching suit” that’s more comfortable.
- Rather than focusing on heroes, what of the villains? Where does Apostate brood? Cueball? The Crackjaw Crew? Heartbreaker? Wager Master? Apostate doesn’t need a home as he only really has a body when he’s trying to do something. Villains like Cueball, Crackjaw Crew, and Heartbreaker spend time at The Wretched Hive bar [they say “Scum and Villainy” but that’s the card, not the location from what we’ve been told]. Cueball has to have some kind of lab as well for him to mess with his inventions/suit. The Crackjaw Crew have their band-practice space (somebody’s garage). Wager Master has someplace of his own as that’s where the party he made the Crackjaw Crew play at was happening. Heartbreaker has a crappy apartment and hangs out at the bar - that’s pretty standard for a lot of the small-timers. Baron Blade has his own city-state. Citizen Dawn has her Citadel. Grand Warlord Voss had both a headquarters on Dok'Thorath, but also his flagship for use while out conquering. Chairman has a headquarters. Spite doesn’t. Plague Rat has his lair/nest. This gets into a brief discussion on whether villains are more likely to have a “lair” vs. a “headquarters”. The Citadel of the Sun might actually start blurring the line there a bit, but on the whole the more monstrous villains are more likely to have a lair.
- We’ve been told that NightMist’s house lets people enter in one place (say off of a street in Rook City) and leave in another (the swamps outside of town) - does it exist in multiple places? The house is located out in the swamps off on it’s own as discussed earlier. It’s a plantation-style house and so there were likely other out-buildings at one point (which have since been lots in the encroaching swamp), but not nearby neighbors as the house was originally situated on a large plot of land of its own. Things have deteriorated in the area to the point where you can’t just drive up to it anymore.
- Where to Daybreak go when not in class? Is there a local super-teen hang-out spot? There’s the Freedom Quad at the academy, but there’s probably some kind of diner or similar off-campus that they go to. Some of them have homes off-campus but they all likely wind up living on-campus in fairly short order. Headlong has the most reason to go off-campus and was likely still living with his family at first, but when he did the math he realized that he could actually save the family more money by living at the academy. The team is weird in that Aeon Girl is a new person, Muerto is dead, and Muse is functionally an orphan and so the three of them don’t even have anywhere else to go. Rockstar and Headlong have families who are happy to see them “go off to superhero college”. Oh, they actually see a good story opportunity here. Rockstar’s all in on the “hero college” thing, and she likely convinces Headlong to come too - she knows that he likes being with his family, but it would make Muerto, Muse, and Aeon Girl feel less like “the weird ones” if he comes too as then it seems more like the “normal” thing to do. Rockstar’s not generally the type to be keyed into this sort of thing, so it’s a good moment for her. Most students likely just live somewhere in the city rather than in the dorm (singular dorm - there’s just the one building, and even that isn’t at capacity; Christopher imagines less than 100 students live there with room for a few hundred more in the facility).
- Back in the Shear Force episode you created the idea for Sentinel Comics action figures and whatnot - now, having created hero bases (and vehicles?) what cool playsets did they release throughout the years? The Spirit playset was the one that everybody wanted as a kid, but just that one kid with rich parents actually got one. The Freedom Tower set that opens up is also a popular one. The Freedom Five have a bunch. For Dark Watch you likely just have Expatriette’s van. Prime Wardens are a tough one from the merchandising angle. The Bunker-copter was probably initially a toy. Absolute Zero had a cryo-bike that looks like a snowmobile. Tachyon has a roadster (despite the question of why she would bother driving anywhere).
- [Letter talking about his RPG experience rather than a question: In my game I did an off-the-cuff way for the heroes to have a base - each player got to define one die for their HQ Environment, they got to help define Twists on the Environment turn, they got to decide whom the Environment would hand its turn off to in the turn order. I was going to ask about later supplements having rules for this kind of thing, but I actually think it’s all already allowed for in the rules. Let players spend Hero Points to upgrade the Environment dice of their base. Let them take Overcomes during an issue to build Twists to be used against attackers. Work with your players to help them build a cool home for the villains to eventually attack and wreck. If you let your players have home-field advantage, that’s just an excuse to throw your worst at them.] They really like this. Adam thinks that a lot of people overlook some of the “progression” options the book presents outside of the standard Hero Point mechanics [note for reference: I believe this is in reference to the Alternate Rewards section on pages 249 and 249 in the GM section of the core book, something that players may not have been aware of].
- In the Ignazio Gallo episode you mentioned an accordion that made people dance, unable to stop - was this related to the Dancing Plague of 1518, even though it would have predated the accordion by a few centuries (although other somewhat similar instruments are dated to at least closer to 1518)? This would have been a thing that the writers were definitely thinking of when inventing it, but they may simply have not known about the accordion and things have to get retconned in some way (possibly ruled that that specific dancing plague was unrelated to Gallo’s work). They think that other “squeeze box” types of instruments would have existed early enough.
- [This letter starts at approximately an hour and fifteen minutes in and prompts a rant about how dumb the scoring/points system in tennis is for almost a full three minutes - quite entertaining] Given that a score of 0 in tennis is called “love”, maybe the curse on the tennis racquet could be related to “love lost” and the person loses something they love or that loves them? That’s a cool thought.
- [Another thought on the tennis racquet: the skill boost it gives lets players get to the heights of success, but on the 1000th serve, their opponent will make an allegation of cheating that sticks, ruining the player’s reputation. Maybe in a follow-up story involving the Scholar an Easter egg for readers could be newspaper headlines in the background referencing the tennis match we had seen previously.] What happens to Gallo when he tries to enchant his 1000th artifact? That’s a fun tennis racquet suggestion too. They like people making their guesses as to what it could be, but as they said in that episode, the actual curse for that item was never shown in comics so they can’t just pick one of these to be “true”. Regarding Gallo’s 1000th item, that’s interesting and could be the impetus for an entire story of its own.
- I imagine that the first time one of Gallo’s artifacts shows up it wasn’t known to be something this one guy made - only a “cursed item” that somebody used successfully for a while (possibly in order to get the better of a hero in the story) until things went horribly wrong; it’s only after a few cursed MacGuffins show up in stories that the question arises of “where did all of these cursed items come from?” when a set of “seemingly benign only to eventually go horribly wrong” is a distinct enough category for cursed item to be distinct and Ignazio Gallo is created as a retcon explanation for them - how accurate is that? Was Matriarch’s mask not thought of as one of his items for a long time because it seemed to be all downside in terms of her initial rampage (only revisited when she was set to get a hero turn decades later)? Yeah, that’s pretty much how it went down. There’s an accumulation of stories about artifacts that go horribly wrong and eventually somebody collects a bunch of them and decides there’s this one guy who takes a useful thing and adds a bad twist. This whole thing would have been happening around the time that they were revisiting the Matriarch. As a result, in the Metaverse Gallo is a relatively late creation, but the reason for his existence at all results in him being retroactively threaded back through much of the history of Sentinel Comics.
- Suggestions for additional Ignazio Gallo creations:
- A picture frame that helps the viewer engrave the image into their memory. The curse results in you forgetting or misremembering details of the image (forgetting time spent with a loved one, remembering the subject as much older or younger than they were, etc.).
- A costume that makes it impossible for anyone to deduce your true identity unless you explicitly share it. The curse makes the person most important to you unable to recognize you ever again.
- A lucky rabbits foot: on the day you receive it the things that you need to go right will, paid for (in much the same way that Kismet’s power works) by having small inconveniences happen throughout the day. You’ll have another day of such luck the day you pass it on to another person who needs it. The curse changes its operation so that instead of the small inconveniences happening, that bad luck gets stored up and the 1000th person to receive it has all of that bad luck unleashed on them all at once.
- What is Ignazio Gallo doing in the Inversiverse? Finding some kind of cursed objects and adding some small mitigating blessing to them. The 1000th time the curse effect happens it tries to undo some of the evil that the item has brought into the world.
- Would a museum or antiques collection with a bunch of Gallo’s items make for a good Environment? It would be weird to have a collection of a bunch of his stuff. He isn’t a known person in the world of Sentinel Comics - Soothsayer Carmichael wouldn’t know who he was (plus isn’t it great that they can use him as a point of reference for "how well known is this magical [person/thing/concept]"?). It’s also not the case that they’d all be primed to do the bad thing, so it’s not like a powder keg ready to explode or anything even if there were a bunch in one place.
- I’d imagine that Matriarch’s story is one of the more well-known Ignazio Gallo things, even if his actual involvement isn’t known? Well, hardly any of them are known to be magical. Nobody knows that his curse was the cause of that fire in Spain. Matriarch’s bird control isn’t known to the public to be “magical” so much as it’s just another one of those supervillain things.
- Is the tennis racquet (which we know Scholar is aware of) the same one seen on his “Bring What You Need” card? Maybe. It’s certainly a tennis racquet.
- We’ve been told that the Bloodsworn force has a strong hold on the gladiators and the implication was that it kept them from leaving the Colosseum, but in the recent Fashion episode we learn that she (and some others) manage to escape following Sky-Scraper’s fight with Kaargra - how do they get away? The connection between the Bloodsworn force and the Colosseum in particular is maintained mostly by Kaargra’s position. When Sky-Scraper defeats her in single combat that would have let Sky-Scraper claim the force if she’d wanted and so Kaargra’s hold is lessened. This is what allows some gladiators to get away - this situation eventually gets resolved when the Colosseum is destroyed during OblivAeon.
- If Fashion gets free due to Sky-Scraper’s actions, why doesn’t she return to Earth with Sky-Scraper at the time? Sky-Scraper’s initial escape was with the aid of some heroes and Fashion was firmly in the S’sdari the Bloody, ruthless gladiator mindset at that time. She wouldn’t have been able to un-turn her back on humanity until the control started to slip.
- If Fashion is out in space dealing with bounty hunters and getting the Celestial Codex where it needs to be, how does she eventually wind up back on Earth for OblivAeon? Did the connection to the Colosseum prompt her to return to Earth when it arrived for the fight? Did the Codex let her know she should go back? The Codex prompted her to return. Part of what it did as soon as it was back where it should be was to send out an alert to a bunch of space people that something big was going to be going down at Earth and they’d be needed. The Codex story was leading to OblivAeon because everything was leading to OblivAeon at that time. Fashion does get back to Earth a little before the OblivAeon fight itself, but not by a lot.
- Is the Codex story complete in the RPG timeline or is it still a dangling plot thread? Is it a continuing supporting cast member for Fashion? The Codex story is “complete” in that she brought it back to where it needed to be. It’s not so much a supporting cast member for her as much as it’s just now a possible element to any number of space stories now (not necessarily Fashion ones).
- Does Fashion see herself going to the Hero Awards as a model/hero or to the Fashion Awards as a hero/model? Does this change during her timeline? She would start off as a model/hero but over time see herself more as a hero/model.
- What about during her time in the Colosseum (model/gladiator, gladiator/model)? She’s just a gladiator during that time.
- Is Kaargra after escaped gladiators equally or does she have it out for some in particular? Sky-Scraper is one she’s real mad about, leading to the whole endeavor falling apart.
- As somebody who’s doesn’t have much of an imagination for fashion and just kind of imagines Fashion’s dress that can both cut a foe and interface with a spaceship computer as basically just a dress with a knife and a usb plug taped to it, can we get a Fashion runway-style description of some of her notable outfits (with Trevor backing music [which he comes through with - although it’s a fake-out that only lasts a few seconds])? No, but hopefully looking at the cover image from her episode can kind of give you an idea as the outfit has some layers to it and you can imagine one of said layers unfolding to be something that could be used as a weapon. Similarly, interfacing with computers could just be a component that’s internal that gets pulled out when needed. If she makes it into RPG materials they imagine that they’ll throw some outfits in for her. We’ll see more depictions of her in the future, anyway, so we’ll get to see a wider variety of outfits from her.
- Are there certain things that Fashion fights for regarding the fashion industry to try to make it better? Including plus-size models and otherwise supporting body-positivity messaging in her own shows/product lines? Busting down the door of a sweatshop owner to deal with the exploitative labor practices? Does she have strong feminist messaging in her modern book as a contrast to her original Stylin’ Shirley iteration, or does it lean more on the space stuff? As a hero she’s much more focused on the space stuff, but she does have a problem with so-called “Fast Fashion” and so the anti-sweatshop types of stories could factor in. Her old book would have been very “traditional” in terms of how one should look in terms of fashion/beauty/femininity and would have had a naive approach to the fashion industry’s issues. There’s a very real possibility there for the reintroduction of the character to lean into a tagline like “Fashion is for everyone” that’s both a statement about her being a superhero and how she fits into the comics ecosystem, but also a lot of the topics that were brought up in this letter. They don’t necessarily need her to have plus-size models in the comic, but the idea that “if you wear clothes, fashion is for you”. They also note, however, that she’s a model, not necessarily a designer. They don’t want to give an impression that her comics is heavy on the PSA end of things - she’s mostly about the heroics and space stuff, with any of this other stuff coming in on the side.
- What are Fashion’s opinions on cosplayers? She doesn’t really know about cosplayers as she was gone while that got going and is now kind of busy with the crime fighting. She probably would find the concept delightful, especially the ones that people put a lot of quality craftsmanship into.
- So, a supermodel/hero seems a good match for an amazingly handsome/talented action movie star - any stories where Shirley Shane and Ansel G. Moreau were/will be a pair (crime-fighting or otherwise)? They’d probably get along pretty well. It’s a shame that he wound up so horribly injured during OblivAeon. Who knows if he’ll even survive.
- Is Fashion still supermodel-beautiful or did her time in the Colosseum leave her with a scar akin to the one that caused Ansel got that caused him to start hiding his face? Would the shared agony of their afflictions make them more likely to understand one another? She probably has some scars, but none on her face. She steps back into the model role pretty easily, but remember that she’s pretending to be a younger relative rather than herself.
- How canon are the Weekly One-Shot scenarios in Handelabra’s SotM video game? The One-Shots aren’t run by Christopher and Adam first. A fair number of them are inspired by stories they’ve told here in The Letters Page, but not all. However, keep in mind that every game of SotM is canon somewhere in the Multiverse, even if the specific story isn’t from the main continuity.