Podcasts/Episode 186

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The Letters Page: Episode 186
Writers' Room: NightMist #49

Nightmist 049.png

Original Source

Primary Topic

Intro

Finally, you get to see the Soothsayer himself, and on a comic cover, at that!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:30:54

So, we do some goofs, but then the story came together... so quickly? Whoops? It's OK — we spend extra time in the question section, as a result!

A very important thing happened last week while we were recording this episode! We here at Greater Than Games were nominated for several ENNIES! Learn more in this blog post I made yesterday. Two big things: this podcast was one of the nominations, so this is now an Ennie Award Nominated podcast! Can we win an Ennie? That's up to YOU! Voting runs Wednesday, August 18th through the 27th! The second thing: the Sentinel Comics RPG got a bunch of nominations, so that's what the upcoming Bullpen will be about, which we're recording live this coming Friday! Come join us!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Overview

  • Today’s episode is a Writers’ Room for an issue that teams up NightMist with Soothsayer Carmichael. As a reminder, he’s a character made up back in the Argent Adept Supporting Cast episode. He’s a magician. Well, kind of. In an academic sense. He knows a lot about magic. Anything that’s available to learn, he’s learned it. The problem is that he’s not actually able to do magic. He could set up a ritual to be done, but if he were the one to attempt to actually enact it, it wouldn’t work. He’s like an art history major who can’t draw a stick figure, or a music instructor who knows all the theory but can’t actually play an instrument. He’s got all of the knowledge one could want, but there’s just some critical piece missing that prevents him from actually doing anything with that knowledge.
  • We know that an early, but notable crossover for NightMist, Argent Adept, and Soothsayer Carmichael was in Tome of the Bizarre vol. 2 #308 [August ’84] where NM and AA are dealing with some ancient evil magician. Her magic “hook” is that she’s cursed and his is that he’s “the chosen one”, but they need somebody else to help who actually knows all of the theory to take this guy on, and that’s Soothsayer Carmichael’s area so they get his help. They want to do a story after that one today. This early story sets up the fact that NightMist knows who Carmichael is, and also establishes that, while she knows more about magic than Anthony does, she’s not the most knowledgeable person out there. Also, given today’s prompt they assume that the listeners want a story that doesn’t have AA in there mucking things up.
  • As such, they think that this story is going to be one where NightMist has a problem and goes to bring Soothsayer Carmichael in for support rather than having him involved from the beginning because he’s not a focus character. That still leaves the question of “which NightMist” we’re talking about since different eras had different ways to characterize her. Probably before she does her time in the Void as well for today. The only reason to do have that version of her would be for Carmichael to see her and have a “What is going on with you?” reaction, probably sometime between the two Dark Watch volumes, followed by him wanting to fix/study her, which they don’t feel like doing for today. Late ’80s/early ’90s feels better.
  • Adam suggests an alternative to “NightMist finding a problem” starting point would be for the previous issue of whatever book to end with Carmichael slumping against her door in the rain because he needs her help. That actually works - the issue ends with a splash page with the door opening to reveal Cedric Carmichael bleeding in the rain and asking for help. Christopher suggests that his blood isn’t red - the idea being that some magic was done to him and he knows what’s going on, but needs help dealing with it.
  • Christopher has the idea come fully-formed into his head. Carmichael is studying some cult. Their deal involved calendars and specific timings of events and they’d do magic to cause something to happen as they desired. However, much like ol’ Cedric himself, they didn’t actually have the ability to really do magic. To get around that, they’d do a ritual that would involve many members sacrificing themselves in order to pass power on to a single member who could then do the magic they wanted to happen. Sure, that person would quickly burn themselves out as well, but they’d have the time to do the cult’s business first. In any event, they caught Cedric poking his nose into their business and so have used their power to curse him. He managed to escape, but now he needs NightMist’s help getting out of this mess.
  • NightMist takes a look and can see what was done, but she can’t undo it from here. What was done to him is linked with whatever else they’re doing and so they’ll need to go back to where it was done to him and use some of that mojo to undo it. Once they get there, NightMist realizes that Cedric has been lying to her. He wasn’t specifically cursed by them. He saw what was going on and instead of letting the cult do whatever bad thing they were going to do, he jumps in at the last moment and takes the place of the person they were empowering. So now he’s a hero for stopping the bad guys from completing their plan, but now he’ll also finally have magical power.
  • The remaining cult members didn’t take that too well and roughed him up a bit, but now he’s finally got what he’s always wanted and just wants NightMist’s help stabilizing the power within him. He does not want to give it up as he feels that he’s earned it. At this point the character has been around long enough for this kind of story where his desire takes him one step too far to be a satisfying one. He’s an academic who follows the rules and knows all the things - he gets this temptation (people doing a thing to give somebody without magic the power to do it) dangled in front of him and it’s just too tempting to pass up. Sure, they use it for bad stuff, but he knows that he would do things differently, knows the consequences, and justifies it to himself in his arrogance. Besides, he puts together something like a phylactery that he can use to draw off the worst effects to protect himself.
  • Anyway, how this goes down is that they get to the cult and fight/defeat them, but once they get to the circle to do the thing NightMist and Soothsayer Carmichael wind up fighting each other because he refuses to give it up. He wants her to stabilize him. She can’t do that, but even then she wouldn’t. The magic was made to do some cataclysmic thing with and that’s what it will do whether he wants to use it for that purpose or not - and he of all people should know that. He just doesn’t want to hear it because he’s wanted this for so long and surely he can do so much good, and do it better than others.
  • What’s the resolution? They don’t think that he “comes down” enough to realize his mistakes here until after the magic has left him. A big part of his characterization has always been frustration/anger at all of these magic-having people who don’t get it/do it right. Now that he’s got it as well, he falls into the trap that is the fact that “having magic changes you”. It pushes on your emotions in ways that he is unprepared for despite all of his knowledge and that makes him particularly susceptible to it corrupting his intentions.
  • Anyway, they have a magic battle and seeing Cedric using magic is kind of a cathartic moment for readers familiar with him. He’s also a beast - he’s right that his knowledge of the theory makes him exceptionally effective as a magician and now he’s got very powerful/destructive magical power at his disposal. Whenever we see NightMist needing to do some kind of powerful magic, we see her study in preparation for doing it. Cedric has already done that studying and so can just go to town. As such, he eventually beats her.
  • They think his hubris is his downfall. He’s always got hubris in spades, but the power he now has is an opportunity for those tendencies to get him into hotter water than usual. Sure, he brought along the phylactery or whatever other relics he thought were necessary, but once he had the power he discards them as unnecessary. The people who held this power before him were simpletons and were not prepared for this power - he is sure that he can handle it and so doesn’t need that protection. He can channel it through himself without being a danger to himself. The only people in danger are those who are in his way and he will use the power to make the world the way it should be, so those people have it coming anyway. [Note how “making the world the way it should be” is pretty much exactly what the cult were planning on using the power for in the first place.]
  • Of course, NightMist can recognize the relics for what they are (things that Cedric himself prepared for the purpose of drawing this power in some way) and she at least knows how to use them. Her plan becomes to draw enough of the power out of him to make him manageable and then “complete” the ritual the cult started since they’re already there at the summoning circle anyway. He’s a bit dismissive of her taking up the phylactery since he created it and knows everything about it. NightMist agrees that he’s right, she can’t defeat him. However, he can (then she uses these things he prepared against him). They like the twist of NightMist having to use magical things that somebody else set up - like, rather than her doing her own stuff she has to notice and puzzle out what the cult and Soothsayer Carmichael had done already and then use that.
  • Christopher feels a little bad about not really having much “creative process” back-and-forth in this one, but this really is often how things go where they’ll start with an idea and then the whole thing just kind of arrives all at once without much need for major tweaks. Once you know your characters well enough you can just set them up in a situation and you know how things will go from there.
  • One thing left is to figure out what happens after the fight’s over. If we’re putting this in the NightMist book, it is neither strictly episodic nor is it really heavy into story arcs. Things might take an issue or a few, but stories also have a tendency to overlap one another. As such, this one can comfortably fit in a lot of places in that book as long as it’s before the point that NightMist is de-powered during Vengeance. Due to how this story started in a slight overlap with the previous issue that was otherwise wrapping something up and it also ends without needing to bleed over into the next one, this issue would make sense as one with an issue number that works as a good “stopping point”. It’s a break point where nothing else is being carried over and the next issue can start up new stuff. As such, they choose issue #49 for June ’89.
  • Since that went so quickly, Christopher also wants to work out what the cult’s deal is. In the process of voicing that thought he’s already come up with something, though. His idea for them is to be “the cult of the magical dead” (although recognizing that that isn’t a great name) - they’re people who, like Soothsayer Carmichael, know a lot about magic but can’t do it themselves. What they figure out is how to collect the vital essence from some of them and give it all to one person so that they can do magic until the power burns them out too. Christopher has even already picked a word for this whole process: the Analect. He sees this term as applying to the ritual done in the first place, the person who receives the power, and the actions taken that make use of that power. The person involved will have a chance to do one big thing with the power they’ve been granted before they’re destroyed, and so much is invested into the process that nothing else is left of them - all they are is the Analect.
  • Adam wasn’t familiar with the word Analect, so there’s a little discussion there. The first thing he found was that it’s a collection of literary or philosophical sayings or fragments. [In origin, it’s a word derived from Greek meaning “to gather up” or “things gathered up”.] The cult is taking these fragments of power from the individual members and collecting them into a single member - the act of gathering them up, the person who becomes the collection, and the work done by this collection of knowledge and power that changes the world is the Analect
  • What to call them? Due to the Cult of Gloom and the Order of the Simple Machine they don’t want to use either of those “group of people” words. Christopher suggests the Sect of Factors. It’s a nice mathy word and these guys are all academics like Carmichael. This is also probably their one and only appearance in comics since they envision the process of creating an Analect is something done very rarely (100 years at minimum, likely closer to 1000 years). That also gives Cedric more reasons to jump in - he’s not going to have another shot at this opportunity.

Questions

  • In the One Shot podcast episodes you were a guest on, before the roleplaying started [at around the 14:45 mark] you mentioned that Soothsayer Carmichael was somebody who knew practically everything there is to learn about magic, but other than his soothsaying rituals is not able to actually do anything - this prompted a memory that you’ve said that magic requires both the knowledge of what you’re doing, but also an innate knack for it. What’s Soothsayer Carmichael’s deal in that regard? Does he have the knack, just at a much lower level than most of our other magical characters or is he a mundane person with an interest in it and so settles for being an academic? Does he resent Argent Adept for his natural talent and that he’s reliant on this twit for the fate of the world? He’s a mundane guy who works really hard and really wants magical power. Well, the real thing he wants above everything else is magical knowledge, but he’s spent enough time being frustrated by all of these people doing it wrong for that knowledge to develop into a full blown case of wanting to do it himself. They view his “soothsaying” to be something that anybody could do, but it’s also along the lines of what people do in the real world. Does reading tarot card/tea leaves/etc. actually tell you anything? Some people think so. Maybe there’s something there. He doesn’t resent Argent Adept for his innate talent in itself. He resents him for being the Chosen One and Not Doing It Right. That’s not to say that Christopher and Adam think that AA is doing it wrong - he’s doing his best. Cedric is mad at him because he’s not handling his responsibilities the way that Cedric himself would go about them and therefore is doing it wrong.
  • You’ve said that Carmichael is a “good guy” but isn’t “heroic” - would he, say, help a villain take over the world if he thought that the end state is a benevolent dictatorship, or is he just more the type to not actively put himself out there to do good? He strikes them as something of a nihilist. He’s an academic who wants to know everything there is to know about magic and who gets frustrated with everyone for going about using magic the wrong way. He doesn’t want the world to burn, but it’s not his job to stop it if that’s what time it is. We’ve had a good run. He came to NightMist not really for the stated “this cult is doing horrible things and we must stop them” but “I’m in trouble, help me please”. That story doesn’t explain why he goes to NightMist instead of Argent Adept, but Christopher’s non-canonical plot reason (possibly stated in a letter to the editor after a while) is that he was peeved at AA regarding some recent bout of “doing things wrong”. There’s also the easy explanation that NM knows more about magic than AA does. There’s also possibly a factor that he’s *lying* and so goes to the person who doesn’t know him as well - that’s also probably the wrong tactic because Faye is more intuitive/investigative and is more likely to pick up on the lie. Soothsayer Carmichael’s interpersonal intelligence is very low.
  • Do you think there’s ever a reason for he and Tachyon to have a conversation (given that both of them are careful and logical academics, but with wildly incompatible fields of study)? That’s a fun idea. He would be excited to have a chance to finally talk to somebody who does things right. Then he’d see her in action and she’s actually too chaotic for his tastes and would get mad at her for doing science wrong. Up until the introduction of Unity, she is more than willing to “move fast and break things” as her operating procedure. It’s the existence of Unity that prompts a change in characterization to be more “teachery” and careful so that Unity’s approach is a contrast. Not to say that she’s not “careful and logical”, just not to Carmichael’s standards. There is a reason that Tachyon winds up evil in so many other universes. She’s a borderline mad scientist. By the mid-to-late ’00s the two of them would get along better.
  • What magical thing does he not understand but wishes that he did? The Void is the easy answer - understanding the Void is not humanly possible (the people who have gotten to the point that they understand it don’t really count as “human” anymore). Atlantean/“Ancient” Magic is another - he probably knows and understands as much of it as they’ve ever discussed on the Letters Page, which is certainly not enough for him. Adam suggests that it’s like the wind for an average person - you can see its effects, but you can’t see it directly and likely don’t understand what causes it. Christopher disagrees in that that kind of magic hasn’t been around anywhere that he could even observe its effects (Adam suggests Zhu Long, but Christopher vehemently responds that they need to be very clear that Zhu Long does not do Atlantean Magic, otherwise Adam’s going to cause all sorts of problems for them). “No one does Ancient Magic. There is no Ancient Magic around.” There’s evidence/records/hints that it was a thing, but it’s important that it is not a thing anyone does at this time. Let’s say that all of the fossils in the world (and all images of them) got destroyed, but everything that had been written about them remained and that’s all anybody would have to work from regarding studying paleontology. Even that would be more information than he has in terms of Ancient Magic. That’s probably even more enticing to him than the Void because the Void is right there (you shouldn’t do anything with it, but it’s still there if you wanted to) whereas Ancient Magic isn’t.
  • What’s the relationship like between Soothsayer Carmichael and Argent Adept? Is it just a begrudging association where one has to put up with the other or are they “friends”? Argent Adept considers Soothsayer Carmichael his “grumpy friend” but Soothsayer Carmichael generally thinks of AA as “this idiot child that I have to deal with” (although deep down he’d probably really consider AA a friend - he’d just never admit such a thing).
  • How does he react to the whole Dark Conductor situation? Is he annoyed that AA got himself into this mess or concerned and looking for a way to get him back to normal? Those are not mutually exclusive options. On the outside his reaction is “You broke your pipes!?” but inside he’s worried for his friend. Having an interaction with a friend that’s angry on the surface with a concerned subtext is pretty common.
  • Does he ever interact with the Prime Wardens as a group? How does that go? For sure he gets pulled into Prime Wardens stories. It tends to not really be that interesting and just a short bit where they need information rather than him being actively involved with the plot. He’ll narrate or explain a thing, or they’ll go to him and he’ll give him an item they need. Today’s story is quite likely the most “action” he sees over the entirety of his existence. Even in that TotB story they mentioned in the mid ’80s, while he’s “in” the fight, he’s not fighting (more just present and needing to be defended).
  • Has he ever met the Scholar? If not, what’s his opinion on Mr. Rhodes from reputation alone? He definitely knows who the Scholar is and that’s notable in itself. People don’t know who the Scholar is. In their interactions, Carmichael would start complaining as he usually (read: always) does. However, while in most cases this results in the other person ignoring or getting annoyed with him, Scholar indulges him and would ask what he recommends/comments on how that’s an interesting way to look at the problem/etc. Scholar engages with him and makes him reconsider his complaints through active listening, providing more information, and talking through things. Scholar handles the interactions well and generally leaves Cedric better off than he arrived in.
  • Was Soothsayer Carmichael instructed by the previous Count Barzakh (the timing of character introductions makes it possible that maybe he gets involved in investigating the disappearance of his mentor when the current Count takes the mantle from him - which could lead to the triple-whammy of learning that some random guy killed his mentor, that the mentor was filtering knowledge carefully to string him along and leaving him complacent and unaware, and that the ultimate goal was to murder him to prolong his own life, ultimately leaving this person a more cynical and driven individual)? That’s a fun story idea. It’s not at all accurate. He’s certainly studied what he’s been able to discover about that previous Count Barzakh, but he wasn’t associated with him. Carmichael is largely self-taught with the caveat that some of that takes the form of finding somebody with the knowledge he’s looking for and learning it from them before going home. He’s not any particular individual’s “student”, but he’ll seek out any magician he can find that’s willing to show him what they do. If magicians were apes, he’s Jane Goodall. He’s observing and studying them, but not “being taught by” them.
  • Following a discussion regarding the body-swap episode/concept, here’s a case for why powers should generally stay with the body with NightMist as a case study: when NightMist is hit with the regression dart, she’s depowered. This physical substance was able to disable the curse. As such, shouldn’t that mean that if she were to be body-swapped that the curse would stay with her body? The regression dart turned off her mist powers, but she could still do magic. It was more difficult for her to do so, but not impossible. A fun story could be a body swap between NightMist and Soothsayer Carmichael because his body has no connection to magic and so she wouldn’t be able to do any in that case. Unfortunately, because of today’s story being what it was, that’s not a story that would have happened (so don’t suggest that). The mist powers would stay with her body in such a case (unless, of course, the story writers for whatever reason want them to transfer over too). The general premise of the question is well founded, though.
  • Regarding the idea of somebody wanting to swap bodies to get a “better one” for whatever reason, how likely were the following story hooks:
    • Absolute Zero so that he can feel the sun/isn’t trapped in a suit/cryo-chamber, etc but at the cost of somebody else being trapped in his former situation? Swapping bodies to get around it is less likely than simply getting “cured” but then needing the powers back so that he can save somebody. That kind of thing would probably have happened early in the character’s existence and is considered non-canonical (or "vaguely canonical) in terms of ramifications for later writers. Like, maybe that happened, but the circumstances were such that they’re not reproducible or something so it won’t happen again. It’s a super Silver Age-y story.
    • Radioactivist as another “can’t really touch things or get close to people” example - maybe swapping with a hero (or Unity in particular!)? There are some gross connotations there. They don’t think so for that character. His narrative doesn’t really allow for this kind of story to be in there somewhere. It’s possible that there was an opportunity for something to be done with his time in Fort Adamant, but if it was going to happen at all that’s where it would have (and it didn’t). The story would have been along the lines of him being a big sad-sack over his powers that he doesn’t want (despite their rather impressive nature) and then Dr. Demikahv body-swaps him with a loyal follower of hers.
    • Citizen Dawn (assuming her powers stay with her body) so we get a nice experience for her as a *gasp* unpowered person while somebody else gets to use her powers? Her powers are keyed onto the fact that her body is absorbing energy from the sun, so they’d definitely stay with her body. If this kind of story happened, the person in her body is going to be sidelined. The interesting thing is Dawn having to deal with not having powers because having powers is kind of her entire identity. Maybe less this setup, but it could be fun to have a story where she loses her powers while still in her own body for a while and has to do a “cover up” to retain her position.
    • Ambuscade as a “fix” for his horrible disfigurement? That’d be fun as he wouldn’t have considered that the new body isn’t any good at kick and flips and kick-flips that he’s used to being able to do. Like, he transfers into the body of some model who looks like they’re in really good shape, but while they look good it’s all “glamour muscle” and is pretty useless for Ansel’s purposes.
  • It seems like an obvious potential theme for a modern body-swap story (as opposed to the Silver Age one the episode focused on) is that of the trans experience; has anyone been part of a body-swap story that involved being in a body that did not match their original gender and they find that they felt more comfortable in it, leading them to either be reticent to switch back or possibly transitioning after swapping back? This is something that 1) wouldn’t come up until fairly close to the present and 2) would have to be kind of a cautionary tale in that they’re giving somebody a body they like better by taking it from somebody else if we’re specifically talking the “body-swap” starting point. It could act as a point of awakening for a character, but if it’s meant to be a positive thing (that they’re given a chance to recognize what the dysphoria they’ve always felt was), but it’d have to be something they deal with after getting their own body back rather than the body-swap being the solution in the first place. All of that being said, it’s not likely something that’s actually come up because it’s such a minefield of a topic to approach without being preachy or condescending.
  • Between super science and magic in Sentinel Comics, do trans people just have an easier time of it than they do in the real world? While those things exist in Sentinel Comics, it’s not like everybody has access to them. That being said, there could very well be stories where trans people seek out such options for themselves, but because of comic book drama there’s some kind of cost. You’re still threading the needle on pandering/insensitivity there, though. You’d easily have a story where some cis person figures that writing such a story is a good idea and it falls completely flat because they don’t really get it. Getting somebody who actually could do a good job to write such a story might be difficult because they’d understand the tightrope walk they’d need to do to get it right and so most wouldn’t take up the job in the first place.
  • [Comment about Head Doctor being just fine in Tachyon’s body. *laughs in gender dysphoria*] That’s a fair point because gender dysphoria and identity dysphoria are real things that would mess with a lot of people in that situation. They still think that Head Doctor does okay if for no other reason than the fact that he’s really cerebral and hardly cares about his body in the first place.
  • What would happen if Citizen Dawn were swapped into the body of a “normal” person? What if Dawn swapped with somebody like Baron Blade (an unpowered, but far from “normal” human)? With the disclaimer that Dawn and Blade haven’t ever swapped bodies in the comics: Blade would immediately return to Mordengrad and take over again. Dawn would be dismayed for so many reasons, but also realizes that this guy has a lot of resources and access to advanced technology/some incorporation of advanced tech into the body. She can maybe work with this. She would be looking for means to get back into her own body as quickly as possible, but she’s not going to ignore the resources available on principle or something. A good strategy is probably just to pose as Blade, find his best scientists, and declare a plan to swap bodies with Citizen Dawn. Then it’s their job to figure out how to make that happen.
  • Equity has captured 11 stock brokers, one of whom was responsible of the growth of Pike Industries stock by a full 2% and the other 10 are responsible for an equal amount between them. Wraith has come to save them. Equity holds a button that will drop the group of 10 down an elevator shaft and he’ll press that if Wraith tries to stop him from shooting the remaining one. The stock brokers have done “nothing wrong” (by Rook City standards). While the “heroic” solution is to try to find a way to “derail the trolley” to save everybody, if Wraith missteps here in her attempts to save lives, is she at all morally responsible for any deaths due to how she proceeds (the letter writer suggests that as long as her intentions were good and she wasn’t acting with malice that might influence her choices that she isn’t since she’s been dropped into a situation outside of her control)? They agree with your assessment that she’s not morally responsible, but there’s also a duty to try to save as many people as you can. If she were to just turn and walk away after seeing the situation, that’s not good either. Christopher enjoys Adam’s willingness to play along with these things, but if he were the one being asked, he’d cheat. He’d jump off the trolley and try to run to get people off the tracks rather than relying on the simple “pull the lever or don’t” dichotomy presented by the problem.
  • How would the following characters answer the Trolley problem?
    • Legacy: ignores the problem and just puts himself in front of the trolley to stop it.
    • Fanatic: kills the person presenting the problem. Doesn’t think to try to save the people in danger until after she’s smitten the person who set it up.
    • NightMist: puts everything in stasis with magic and then sorts it out now that there’s more time to work with.
    • Chrono-Ranger (and Time-Slinger if he would have a different answer): Time-Slinger uses one of his “time bubbles” to solve the problem. Chrono-Ranger… Early Chrono-Ranger (before the La Comodora stuff) would see it as a shame, but not on his beat. He’d just have CON bring him back so that he can get on with stopping the cryptid takeover. That’s his job and making changes to the timeline beyond the parameters CON’s set for him are not something he’s supposed to do (although it’s not like he can avoid doing Butterfly Effect stuff). Actually, they could see him being in that position, CON telling him that it’s not his problem and him agreeing to be called back, but then he takes a potshot to try to shoot the rope tying the one person to the track in an attempt to “solve” the problem.
    • Aeon Girl: flies face-first into the problem. Like, tries to make herself dense enough to be an obstacle capable of stopping the trolley or something. She’s got enough power that she could just stop it anyway, but she’s not self-aware enough of what she can do for that to occur to her and in a panicky situation like that she wouldn’t response “correctly” anyway.
  • Which character would handle “failing” the trolley problem the worst (likely any of the more idealistic heroes, but I can see it eating away at, say, AZ more than he lets on)? It would be rough for AZ because he’d try to “solve” it by doing an ice thing to stop the trolley, but the theoretical Trolley Problem villain would have rigged something to kill all of them if AZ did that (by trying to “cheat”, everyone dies). That would ruin AZ. That’s the trick with having a specific villain involved - heroes don’t engage with these ethical conundrums in a vacuum, they engage with problems that are caused by a villain. Trying to “third way” their way out of the dilemma to save everybody is the Heroic thing to do, but having a person who’s setting things up means that they can be anticipated. Wraith and Legacy probably have a lot of stories like this. Expat and Setback also have versions with some kind of twist (and are likely more personal). K.N.Y.F.E. doesn’t have these stories because she’s a pragmatist and a soldier.
  • Another setup for Christopher and Adam: 10 people they’ve never met or 1 person they’ve never met, but know is a fan of Sentinel Comics? As Christopher said above, he’d set it to go towards the one person and then do his level best to cheat his way to still save that one person. As much as they like that people are fans of Sentinel Comics, they don’t see those people as being “worth” more than anybody else when you get right down to it.
  • In the previous episode where we posit that Adam is a hero trying to save people in Trolley Problem situations, what are this heroic Adam’s powers? What’s his minimum threshold of powers/training before he would start heroing? For him to start being a superhero, he’d need to have powers to the point where he couldn’t live his normal life anymore. If he can just continue doing his life as it is, only with some ease or added coolness due to powers, he’d just do that. As much as he dislikes this fact about himself, he actually figures that he’d wind up as a villain before he’d become a hero if he had powers. He also thinks that this is actually true about most people despite our desire to think otherwise of ourselves. That’s why we like heroes - they’re better than us.

Cover Discussion

  • They don’t want to give away the fight between Soothsayer Carmichael and NightMist on the cover. Nor even just the fact that he has magical power. Being cursed or something is okay, but not the reveal that he can actually do magic now. How about something that shows him bristling with magical energy and saying something about “If you don’t do something, I’ll die!” (given that the era makes speech balloons on a cover okay). That works, we can have him in the ritual circle with NightMist looking on, worried.
  • Christopher throws out the idea of having something on there like “Can NightMist prevent Soothsayer Carmichael from the curse of… The Analect!?” Adam counters with just having something like “Analect Ascendant?!” which Christopher likes as long as we can have the speech balloon too so the situation can be spelled out a bit. “NightMist! Only you can stop this dread ritual before it’s too late!” Having him call himself out by name (“only you can save me, Soothsayer Carmichael…”) is too Silver Agey.