The Letters Page: Episode 197
Creative Process: Singular Entities
Big episode about bigger things!
Run Time: 1:35:56
We start with some big GTG news — we're pretty excited! Lots of new things to look forward to.
Then, we process Singular Entities, creatively.
(The Creative Process continues a bit in the questions, as well.)
The final question references this glorious art:
Thanks for listening! Join us next time for some Holiday Plots!
- Note that they can’t give a definitive list of all of the Singular Entities out there because there’s kind of an unknowable number of them. Probably infinite. Heck, there’s probably a Singular Entity of “never being acknowledged” whose whole shtick would prevent them from being included in such a list. There’s all sorts of them out there. Another point is that Singular Entities weren’t created as a concept in Sentinel Comics to be associated with a particular thing/concept. There were a bunch of these powerful cosmic beings that just existed before the category was established. Like, Wager Master’s been around for forever but he wasn’t initially a Singular Entity; he was just this weird chaotic trickster being from beyond the stars. Then over the years different writers ratchet his actual power level and importance up and up. Eventually the idea of Singular Entities comes around and he’s retroactively assigned a position within that framework. That same thing happened to a bunch of other (maybe less prominent, but still pre-existing) characters who were basically just “space gods” at first. Well, they kind of still are “space gods”, but there’s a level of consistency behind what that means now when there wasn’t for a long time.
- With that out of the way, how about we go down a list of the Singular Entities that we know about already [along with a bunch of general stuff about Singular Entities that come up in the process of talking about the individuals - sorry in advance; it’s hard to parse everything out].
- Wellspring - Progress - responsible for the Legacy line of powered people. That’s probably the most notable thing they’re responsible for. They exist out there as a SE of Progress and, as an outlier from the above discussion, was created by the writers explicitly as an SE because the Legacy thing was the reason for their creation. Wellspring represents Progress, but they don’t interfere in the way they did with Legacy very often. Most of the time they’re just watching over things as progress happens with very little direct nudging. Created/represented in kind of a “benevolent god” who sets things moving and then just lets them play out. Over time the presentation of the character is less overtly benevolent and more neutral. Progress is inevitable - that doesn’t imply that things go well for everybody. Singular Entities are the thing that they represent and are responsible for it happening. But, if nobody’s there to do the job, there will be another Singular Entity to do it. Oblivion was Entropy and its victory over Archaeon meant that OblivAeon was responsible for both their duties, but Entropy increased due to Oblivion “winning”. When OblivAeon was destroyed, entropy didn’t cease to exist - somebody else takes over. There is a Singular Entity of Progress - for the moment that being is Wellspring, but Wellspring being destroyed wouldn’t change the fact that there is and always will be a Singular Entity of Progress. That whole deal where they’re not bounded by whens and wheres makes the idea hard to grasp.
- Wager Master - Chaos - We’ve heard a lot about him already. He “plays the game” in that he goes along with whatever the gimmick of a particular universe is. All of the rest of the Singular Entities are the same no matter where they go, but not WM. Granted, it’s only because he chooses to change what he looks like to play along. He’s capricious, silly, incredibly dangerous, but not consistently so. Most people don’t really recognize how dangerous he is due to the way he looks/acts. “Oh no, you’ve bested me and I must follow the rules!” Why does he have to follow rules? Dunno, he just does. Still, him showing up, playing a “game”, getting bested, and leaving still created plenty of chaos in the meantime. That’s the goal. He doesn’t care about winning whatever dumb game he’s set up this time. He’s not a villain with a plot to destroy the world/take over the galaxy/etc. He’s there to make a mess of things. Sure, that might involve killing people now and again, but it’s incidental to the general “making a mess”. He’s dangerous because he doesn’t care. He opposes OblivAeon, though, because the latter wants to destroy everything and if there’s nothing then there’s no disorder to be made.
- Fesauthia the Fervor - Passion - They’ve mentioned “The Fervor” in the past that this was the source of Galactra’s power and that this was a title more than a name, so this is the first time we’ve been given the name. There hasn’t been much discussion as yet about naming conventions for these things. Like, Wellspring is just one word and is kind of descriptive. Wager Master sounds kind of goofy, but tells you what his personality is like more than his Singular Entity “role” (this gets into a bit of an aside about whether one could “win” Wager Master’s power/role from him to become the new Singular Entity of Chaos as opposed to something managing to destroy him utterly at which point either a new SE would form or some existing being would have the role thrust upon them - either way, there’s no reason to believe that such a “new” being would be a Wager Master, likely they’d represent Chaos in some other way). Passion here is in the broad definition - not exclusive to the romantic/sexual connotation it often has now, we’re also including things like zealotry, obsession, creativity, enthusiasm. Again, it’s a fairly neutral concept, just one that’s dangerous to lose oneself in. Moderation would be the opposite of what we’re looking at here (fun thought experiment of a Singular Entity of Moderation being just a featureless gray monolith). We don’t really see this one doing stuff, but we get the idea that Galactra was just such a passionate person that she managed to get the power from Fesauthia and acts as something like a Champion of The Fervor.
- Malavox - Conquest - Adam’s favorite since it’s “the villain one”. Conquest is kind of hard to sell as a “good” thing. We see more of Malavaox in the Vertex and later Prime War stuff, but they were around in the Multiverse era as well. Adam kind of sees this as a “Lawful Evil” kind of situation where there are rules. He doesn’t necessarily know what those rules would be, but he imagines there’s structure to what’s going on rather than just wanton violence. A lot of people likely treat Malavox and Wellspring as a general rule, but you’ll find times where they’re on the same page (say, a bunch of technological progress coming about following one group conquering another).
- Veil - Secrets - They don’t think they’ve talked about this one publicly before. The idea for this one was prompted by discussions with some of the writers they were working with regarding the Prime War line (they think it was Cody, but correct them if they’re wrong). Man, some complicated feelings about all the Prime War stuff. There isn’t really a “pantheon” of Singular Entities in that there isn’t a Mount Olympus style idea where they hang out in one spot and are part of a defined group with roles. I mean, they do have the concepts that they are and Prime War kind of represented an attempt to make something like that (although not all Prime Aspects were Singular Entities), but there’s a vanishingly small number of incidents where you’d get a group of them in one spot. If you see a “council” of Singular Entities, something really major must be going on. That’s kind of why the Singular Entities weren’t on the vanguard of the struggle against OblivAeon - unless you count Wellspring doing his thing a few centuries back. Veil is another that’s acknowledged to exist in the Multiverse era, but just doesn’t ever show up on the page.
- Hul - The Unknowable - We’ve known this one existed during the Multiverse era, but only really becomes relevant in the RPG. It’s weird for a number of reasons, but one is that it’s not only a Singular Entity, but also a Realm. There’s an joke Adam wants to make comparing this stuff to Jesus/the Trinity here in that xxtz'Hulissh is the offspring of Hul while also being the same entity/not being a distinct entity. The third part of the trinity would be the Huly Spirit. rimshot
- Akash'Flora - Being a Tree - One of the three Singular Entities acknowledged to be within the closed-off Universe 1 reality. There’s a Wager Master here and Hul has it’s hooks in the place for its own nonsense reasons. Kind of an odd situation for a Singular Entity to be just this one tree on Earth, but the odd circumstances of its creation after the seal was in place makes it qualify.
- We’ve also got a few who aren’t currently Singular Entities for whatever reason (mostly being dead/no longer existing).
- Oblivion - Entropy - fought Archaeon and consumed it to become OblivAeon.
- Archaeon - Preservation - fought Oblivion and was consumed in the process them becoming OblivAeon.
- OblivAeon - Entropy with a side helping of Preservation left over - had that whole nihilistic desire to destroy everything plan going on.
- The Singular Entity that got broken and now is known as Faultess - Order - Faultless is not a Singular Entity. Its old name is forgotten. Nothing knows or even can know what it used to be. It’s truly forgotten. It was tricked by OblivAeon into becoming a Scion and in the process lost its Singular nature. It was still a being of Order in that time, but one that had been twisted in its application of Order to fit OblivAeon’s designs.
- Rainek Kel’Voss - ? - His stint as a Singular Entity was extremely short-lived in that he got the power and almost immediately used enough of it up to seal away Universe 1 that he no longer qualified.
The questions on this topic go back something like three and a half years of things they couldn’t answer or would best wait until a dedicated episode on the topic. Today’s the day so let’s get cracking in chronological order.
- Can you please explain how their “one place at a time” nature works? From their perspective they are only ever in one place at any given time. However, because they can move between places and times rather freely, from our perspective it’s possible for it to appear that they’re in multiple places at once. It’s a wonky concept and we have a limited viewpoint of reality. The one interruption in this free movement between whens and wheres is that Voss closed off this one reality from everything else. Adam imagines that he would be rather angry at having this kind of restriction imposed on him if he were a Singular Entity. This prompts Christopher to ask if he’d be more angry if he were trapped inside or outside the bubble, but that would probably depend on what he was the Singular Entity of.
- Can a mortal being become a Singular Entity? Voss did temporarily. It’s not impossible, but it’s the opposite of common.
- Has this happened before/will it happen in the future (Voss? Jansa?)? Voss was one briefly. Jansa is not a Singular Entity. Akash’Flora kind of counts - not “mortal” in a human scale, but quite “killable” in comparison to Singular Entities in general.
- How would you classify the following character idea: a mortal who was a Fixed Point; she had a lot of magical/cosmic power and, in the process of trying to rewrite her reality to include reincarnation with former life memories (in order to get her friends back), she connects her consciousness with every other version of herself throughout the Multiverse and they share power/knowledge, eventually settling into a baseline shared personality that exists throughout Existence - could this sort of unified multiversal hive-mind qualify as a Singular Entity? That wouldn’t be a Singular Entity at this point, but they could imagine this being the starting point of a being that could eventually become Singular. In the process they’d have to cease being spread out across all realities and coalesce into a single being that could then be anywhere/when. This process could take eons.
- Are Singular Entities things that do only exist once across the Multiverse or things that can only exist once across the Multiverse? Given that there are currently two Wager Masters in existence (just segregated from one another) and that Akash’Flora counts but Aeon Girl doesn’t given that they both contain Singular Entity energy and exist in a single universe? The statement that Muerto is a (lower case) singular entity is also confusing given that we know that Thiago Diaz exists in other realities, so what’s going on there? Wager Master is a very strange situation and the paradox will have ramifications down the line if/when it’s ever discovered/explored. Beyond that, it’s more a “can exist” rather than “does exist”. The power of a Singular Entity is important along with the “only existing once” thing. That’s what makes Akash’Flora and this one specific version of Voss Singular in this way. Like, there are other Rainek Kel’Vosses out in the Multiverse, but only one of them absorbed the energy of a Singular Entity to the point where he’d qualify and the fact that the big Akash tree in this one reality also absorbed a big chunk of that energy is what’s important. Muerto doesn’t come close to qualifying as you’re right - it’s entirely possible that there are other versions of Thiago who have gone through a similar enough life experience to wind up as another “ghost with robot stuff” guy - any previous statement that talked about him being even lower case singular was not correct. What happened to him is probably not common, but that doesn’t make it necessarily unique. Aeon Girl is the sketchy case here. Akash’Flora is a Singular Entity, but is limited by 1) being stuck inside a single universe and so a big part of what being a Singular Entity means is gated away from it and 2) it’s a tree. Hul also has this “stuck in this one universe” thing which might be part of what xxtz’Hulissh is up to/why it’s active now. We don’t yet know if Aeon Girl is a Singular Entity or not - the test of that will likely be when/if the universe she’s in reconnects to the Multiverse. There’s only one of her, though. While saying that the tree is without saying whether or not Aeon Girl is might be an unsatisfactory answer, that’s where we are.
- Timelines are spawned from choices, right? Like, Setback can either touch Chrono-Ranger’s badge or not and that choice has repercussions that are significant enough to spawn a new reality? Once Universe 1 is sequestered away from all of the others, can choices still cause branch points? Does the sandwich bag contain a timeline where Akash’Flora is saved from spider-bots and another where it isn’t? Could somebody with the requisite abilities cross between such universes? Would that re-enable time-travel within this mini-Multiverse? What they have said in the past is that splits no longer happen and that would mean that there are no universes in which the spider-bots destroyed Akash’Flora. You’re right that choices are what lead to branch points and that this continues out in the Multiverse post-OblivAeon. What this would mean, then, is that choices no longer cause branches for Universe 1. What does that mean? There’s only one Universe in the sandwich bag and that’s the way things happen. Choices no longer branch because there’s no extra room in the bag for more universes and so any potential branch timelines simply cease to exist. This means that as time passes Universe 1 becomes more and more dissimilar from any other reality. It also doesn’t seem like a good thing. Like, having who-knows-how-many potential realities that should exist fail to become real at the moment they should have formed doesn’t sound great. Like, there’s probably some kind of Multiversal energy building up in there due to this that could cause problems later. Voss really didn’t know what he was doing when he pulled this stunt. What he thought was that OblivAeon was the big cosmic power and that he’d then be in charge once he took that power. It was only then that he learned of all of the others and sealing things away was almost a panic move done without thoughts to the later ramifications. He didn’t know that this act would cause a new Wager Master to come into being or that it would cause Hul to stir from its dormancy. Most Singular Entities don’t have to do much and the one of The Unknowable less than most, but it’s almost like now, through xxtz’Hulissh, that it’s waging war on this reality for some reason.
- Do all Singular Entities have “opposites” (like pre-Faultless and Order vs. Wager Master and Chaos)? Did OblivAeon have an opposite? Does Wellspring? No because not all things have an opposite. Even things that might in many ways seem like opposites (like Preservation and Entropy) don’t necessarily oppose one another in all aspects at all times.
- Is there a Singular Entity of Magic? There’s got to be one. They’re not sure how much they want to explore that, at least right now, but this seems like something that’s got to be out there… Screw it, we’ll do it live. From a Metaverse point of view, there’s probably been a name/word floating around for a long time (like a name that’s used in an invocation at some point) that later writers/editors decided was the Singular Entity. Like, it’d be something along the lines of R’lyeh being the chosen thing - a word that would have been just thrown in as a component of an invocation back in the day and only later fleshed out. It’s actually likely that people using the name like NightMist, Argent Adept, or Soothsayer Carmichael don’t actually know what the significance of the word is, just that it’s part of the spell (although Carmichael likely has hypotheses). Break for a name discussion and what they’ve come up with is: Talontus.
- If Singular Entities can only exist in one place at a time, how does Wager Master duplicate himself (like when he made a room full of beatnik versions of himself to approve of Absolute Zero’s poetry)? Could he pull this trick and then just send each duplicate to other realities to be in multiple places at once? Could OblivAeon? When you’ve got a room full of Wager Masters, that’s just one Wager Master making himself appear to be a bunch of bodies. It’s cartoon rules. They’re not all sentient as individuals; it’s just him acting like there are a bunch of him. All of the Wagelings are also just the one Wager Master. If he explodes into a bunch of missiles, all of those missiles are just Wager Master.
- What are the limits of Faultless’ healing powers? Could he cure Plague Rat? He could return something to its naturally ordered state. Mr. Fixer was clearly something that was unnaturally divided into two things rather than its correct one. Faultless could definitely return Plague Rat to his human form. He also could have given Expatriette her eye back - although it would have been funny if that had happened and it messed up her ability to aim and so she just keeps wearing the eyepatch. It’s less “healing” than resetting.
- How aware is Tarogath that Faultless was the being responsible for his race/planet’s destruction? He was not aware, although “responsible” is a question. Faultless was the weapon that OblivAeon wielded to strike that blow and while he’s not exactly “mind controlled” into doing so, it’s still a being that’s been corrupted from its true form/purpose so whether you can really assign full blame is something of an open question.
- Did Tarogath interact with Faultless during OblivAeon? No.
- How much do people know about Singular Entities? Granted, your average person likely knows that OblivAeon was a terrible thing that happened and not much else and the Singular Entities themselves probably know a lot, but in between do we have heroes or villains who know a bunch about them and how they work? Overall, people don’t know (not even heroes and villains).
- How about these particular individuals (and if they know what Singular Entities are, how/when did they find out): They’ll specify up front that nobody on the list knows “how they work” except for Voss and he only knows after he became one. People might know that Wager Master or The Fervor are these powerful beings that exist, but that doesn’t mean that they know that Singular Entity is a concept - that’s what we’re looking at here.
- Tachyon: No.
- Captain Cosmic: Maybe because of his direct connection to OblivAeon. By extension the Prime Wardens have a shot at knowing that Singular Entities are things that exist. As an aside - characters who are doing things out in space have a higher chance of these beings popping up in their stories, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know what they are.
- Visionary: No.
- La Comodora: Yes, but La Capitan didn’t.
- Guise: No.
- Lifeline: No.
- NightMist: they don’t think so. Maybe something of an inkling, but she’s also very familiar with having to deal with concepts/entities that she doesn’t have a chance to really understand and so likely reaches a point where she stops trying to engage with the idea. Like, beyond a certain point there’s not any difference for her purposes to knowing there’s a difference. As far as she’s concerned you can lump GloomWeaver and OblivAeon into the same unknowable category.
- Aeon Girl: No.
- Voss: Yes, but only after he briefly became Singular himself.
- The other sapient Scions in general: only Faultless.
- Baron Blade: No.
- Galactra: No.
- Jansa vi Dero: Maybe. She understands more than most, and is comfortable with the idea of the Multiverse. She has a shot to know as much as, say, the average Letters Page listener.
- The other non-Singular Prime Aspects: Yes. All of the Prime Aspects know.
- If Ur-Space is “nothing”, is it conceptual, metaphorical, or simply the absence of anything else? If the latter, is it fair to say that at various points Ur-Space has been 100% Jim Brooks or La Comodora (because there’s literally nothing else in Ur-Space)? It’s the absence of anything else, so you could get a 100% Jim situation except for the fact that it’s also the default “home” of Singular Entities. It’s the in-between where they wind up if they’re not being someplace else in particular.
- Who/what created the Singular Entities? Does this get explored in comics? The editorial staff of Sentinel Comics created them. Within the fiction they likely came into existence alongside the birth of the universe. “They don’t exist outside of matter but the coexist with it.” Whatever event created reality created the Singular Entities and we don’t have a definitive creation event. They’re, strictly speaking, not gods.
- Is there a finite amount of them that exist in the comics or if there’s a given need for one to fill a role a new one is just said to have existed and not shown up on the page until now? The idea is that there’s a finite amount, but it’s an incredibly huge number and the idea is that if you as a writer need a new one to be there you can make it up (well, you might not want to just go about making them up trivially, but it’s a thing that is allowed because not all of them have been defined).
- Are they all at roughly the same “power level” or are some notably stronger than others (implied since Voss immediately sealed himself away when he noticed the others)? It was less because Voss saw things more powerful than himself and more that he saw things as powerful as himself. He wanted to be king, and there being rivals throws a wrench in that plan for himself. He also knew that his body was not an ideal vessel for this energy and that this was the most powerful he was ever going to be with everything being downhill from there. Otherwise, they’re roughly at the same power level - may as well be the same from our perspective.
- If Voss could use his power to create the “sandwich bag”, could one or more of the others undo what he did? Do they have any response to the versions of Voss out in the Multiverse who didn’t actually do this, but are still “him”? Do any others make their own sandwich bag? In order to open the bag they would have to expend a Singular Entity’s worth of power - presumably one could sacrifice itself to do so or a group could pool resources to do so, but none have. Other realities’ Vosses aren’t interfered with. They didn’t have anything to do with it for one thing and the Singular Entities are not that active for another (otherwise they would have been more active in opposing OblivAeon). Nobody else makes a bag - that’s not the sort of thing a Singular Entity would do. Voss is an extreme outlier in all sorts of ways.
- What stops other Singular Entities from doing what Oblivion did to Archaeon? Why didn’t any stop that from happening? Why didn’t they stop OblivAeon from corrupting one into Faultless? None of them got involved with the Oblivion/Archaeon thing because it was unthinkable. It was such an out-of-character act for a Singular Entity to take that they didn’t have the conceptual wherewithal to think that they should do something about it. To the point where even after it happened they continued to not get involved with one another. They’re not used to being “mortal” so having to take action for self-preservation is a foreign concept.
- Did any really try to intervene with OblivAeon’s attempt to destroy everything? No. Wager Master did a little.
- If Wager Master was able to make a backup copy of himself, why didn’t OblivAeon do the same? He didn’t know that he could (and was more than arrogant to the point of not considering the need to bother with such contingencies).
- Should the sandwich bag break, what happens to Akash’Flora and Aeon Girl? Akash’Flora would bloom into a full-on Singular Entity. Aeon Girl would be faced with the question of whether she is one or not (which they’re not going to come down on a hard answer right now).
- Does Voss get any kind of trial or other punishment by the other Singular Entities if the bag is broken? No. It’s not part of their way of thinking.
- We know that there was at least one cult dedicated to OblivAeon - were there cults of other Singular Entities? Could members of such cults show up as possible antagonists in future works? It’s hard to imagine that there weren’t. The trick is that with OblivAeon was that he did a big different thing that sent somewhat obvious ripples throughout the Multiverse for people to notice. Cults to Singular Entities likely get everything wrong. Like, somebody catches a glimpse of one of these things and starts a cult, but fundamentally misunderstands everything about them. A cult to the Fervor might get some notice as they’re passionate about the being of Passion, but most of these things likely never get noticed by the object of their worship.
- [Infinity scholar Dr. B. writing back in] So, that Singular Entity of Logic - what’s it’s name? Has it shown up in the comics? Does it have a “naturally opposing” Singular Entity? Has it ever intentionally affected the course of history like Wellspring did? What was its relationship with the pre-Faultless being of Order like? Has it ever granted powers to somebody like the Fervor did for Galactra? Unfortunately, this is another of those Entities that gets mentioned as existing in the pages of Sentinel Comics, but we don’t see its actions. However, we have its name: Sannhet - coincidentally, the Norwegian word for Truth.