The Letters Page: Episode 199
Writers' Room: The Guise Book #50
Oh no, is Guise in trouble?!?!
Run Time: 1:48:42
It's a new year! We made it to 2022, everyone! Shocking, we know.
Christopher and Adam are surprised by the weather, but not to worry — it's cold again now. But it wasn't for a little while!
Before we get into it, we do a bit of mild campaigning for one particular episode we'd love to record next month. So, if you're a supporter of our Patreon, go vote!
Then, we create a story! We had some intention from the start, but no real plans... until they unfold organically! Just like these often go, but with more Guise than usual!
Speaking of the Patreon, if you're on there, join us this Friday for a live Editor's Note! First one of the year! We hope to see you there!
Electioneering in Action
- The voting is up for February. Another Shipping episode is just happening - it’s not even up for voting. They’re putting their thumbs on the scales, though: the Meredith Stinson/Dana Bertrand wedding issue is on the list of options and they have to work on that anyway (at the very least, Adam has to draw the cover regardless), so the question is only “do we do this on the air or off?” Christopher would like that to be “on the air”, but vote how you’d like.
- Today the prompt is “Guise and Scholar in space” - this has been up for voting so many times and has finally made it. Christopher’s idea here is that we do one somewhat late in that portion of the story - not OblivAeon-territory late, just something after they’ve been out and doing this space thing for a while. Maybe a self-contained issue or a story that takes a few issues, but then they pick one for the Writers’ Room treatment.
- An idea is to subvert the usual story, which is: Scholar tells Guise to do the smart/right thing, Guise does the dumb/wrong thing, Scholar cleans up the mess, Guise learns the wrong lesson. Christopher’s idea here is for Scholar to suggest the right course of action, Guise has his own idea which (possibly for reasons he’s not aware of) turns out to have been the right approach. Guise “learns a lesson” and Scholar is all set to tell him why that’s not what he should have gotten from all of this, but is taken aback a bit as he realizes that Guise got things right this time. Character growth! Some payoff to the implied months and months of the Scholar putting up with the slapstick nonsense.
- Adam proposes that they wind up on some planet where the “rules are inverted” somehow such that Guise’s nonsense winds up being the wiser course of action. Christopher suggests that might not be the best way to tell that story as it seems more like Guise getting lucky rather than having anything like character growth.
- Looking into where to put this, we note that The Guise Book #37 from January 2015 was where the Scholar joined the title and so we have to be after that. They also need to do it before October 2016 since that was where the Scholar, y’know, dies. There’s not a lot of room to work, but there’s some room in mid-late 2015 that is open. Or better, let’s do early 2016 as it’s a payoff for a year’s worth of work that Scholar has been putting into this guy. It’s also probably best as just a single issue story (most of this whole Guise/Scholar thing has been - stand-alone stories that are part of a larger arc for the character). Making it issue #50 of the title has a nice round-number significance to it, so let’s do that in February 2016.
- The more Christopher talks about it being issue #50 and a payoff to the ongoing character arc, the less he wants it to be a “gotcha” moment that he’s had this growth and more of a legit hero moment where he makes the right call (I mean, he’s still Guise, but have it actually show him doing the right thing knowing it to be so). It needs to be a decision that shows maturity rather than being a “standard” heroic throw-yourself-into-danger move because, being Guise, he’s basically impervious to damage (although a few issues later we see how he’s not).
- In trying to decide whether to try to come up with the type of “solution” and working backwards to what the conflict is or vice versa, Adam suggests that the conflict be tied to the Celestial Tribunal. Christopher isn’t sure if that’s an option given when Parse/Sanction stuff is going on given that we’re in OblivAeon time. The same month, we have Burying the Blade #2, Void Guard #10, RevoCorp Presents #50. Two months later (April) is when the Scion Strike limited series begins. We could have this be the Celestial Tribunal’s last thing.
- Christopher manages to talk himself around to it. The Guise Book already tends to be a title that’s kind of off to the side, but that can have implications relevant to the continuity at large. By this time, the Celestial Tribunal has encountered and been “defeated” by the heroes several times and is still doing its “travel the galaxy looking for things to judge” but it’s now in rough shape. This can be a moment where Guise interacts with it and somehow that gets it into a condition where it’s open to OblivAeon turning it into a Scion. Like, all of this can be stuff that’s been set up already, but we’re positioning this story as a really last-minute encounter for it (handily reminding people what the Celestial Tribunal is). It’s also a Pyrrhic victory for Guise in that he saves the day for this alien planet or whatever, but then also give OblivAeon another Scion (although it’s not like Guise knows that at this time).
- Why is it a difficult decision for Guise to save a planet? That likely isn’t the decision. Christopher has an idea and launches into the story. The book opens with the Celestial Tribunal beat up and floating out in space and we get one of its standard “court scenes” on the inside as it goes on about how it’s been monitoring actions and is going to judge them, etc. without the reader actually seeing the defendant. The gist is that whatever is being judged has been monitored for as long as the Tribunal has been operating and it’s been determined that the defendant’s actions have always had negative outcomes.
- Before judgement is made, however, the proceedings are interrupted by the arrival of Guise and Scholar on board (Christopher doesn’t want to handwave this away - there should be a reason for them to be there like the last issue ended with them on a space ship with a broken nav system and they wind up just crashing into the Tribunal, but he doesn’t have that answer right now). What they’ve stumbled into is the Celestial Tribunal passing judgement on itself. Guise’s “decision” here is basically just convincing this place to just make a different choice. Scholar has the valid point that this place has been a danger to numerous civilizations and has killed countless people and that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if it were to just destroy itself. Guise has had people treat him as a danger that would likely just “burn itself out” given enough time and if he can make a different choice, maybe this place can too.
- Thinking more about how they get here, they think rather than being on a broken ship maybe the previous issue ends with whatever space tyrant they were dealing with is done with them and exiles them by launching them into space. “Does he think this will kill us?” “He doesn’t matter. The problem is that now we’re stuck here.” They’re just stuck in whatever vessel this exile process uses hurtling through deep space. Issue #50 starts with the serious court stuff that are interrupted by an explosion when this thing crashes into them.
- Given that the Tribunal itself is defendant, witnesses, and prosecution they try to recruit Scholar and Guise to be intermediaries - Guise agrees to act as the defense attorney eventually, but he doesn’t want to start there. The heroes begin in “we need to fight the robots” mode and we end with Guise defending it to itself, but how do we get between the two points? During the “fight” maybe they talk about how bad the robots are in general and they wind up agreeing, that’s why they were just holding a trial. We’ve always been agents of destruction and malice and so we should be destroyed. That’s when Guise can break in with his “Or… you could change.”
- What we need is for the court to say something about the Tribunal that Guise sees himself in. Witnesses from different planets talking about how destructive and dangerous the Tribunal is and how it needs to be gotten rid of. Guise can find you tons of people who say the exact same thing about him. Rather than listening to them, he chooses to listen to those who think he could be something different and then make the choice to be different.
- Adam doesn’t think that that parallel is enough to automatically get Guise on their side. Maybe we have the Tribunal talk about its history where it was created to be this perfect bringer of justice and how it’s been corrupted from that purpose. Something to let Guise see how this thing isn’t Evil, just flawed and has deviated from its intended purpose. It wasn’t at fault for doing what it had been built to do, but he can see that now, by putting itself on trial, maybe it’s become possible for it to actually make decisions of its own. If it can do that, he asks if it’s possible for it to choose to simply not destroy things.
- Maybe after fighting for a bit they simply break into the trial chamber and are allowed to remain and bear witness to the proceedings and after hearing what they’re talking about for a while Guise interrupts to see if he can ask some questions before the verdict is handed down. He gets permission at which point his question of “where did this all start?” gets them to go into the backstory stuff. We get some montage scenes while that’s gone through from the beginning with some fun reaction shots where the Scholar is bored with all of this - that’s how long the story takes. Guise starts off really reactionary and calling them out for the bad stuff they did, but by the end has come around.
- An important question to answer here is “why did they decide to put themselves on trial?” Guise actually asks this and their answer is along the lines of “we’re damaged and so have no entities to put on trial but ourselves”, which he does not buy for a minute. When they’re traveling between planets under normal circumstances there is time in which they aren’t actively judging anybody, so it’s not just that. What did it now? It would be nice if they could refer back to a specific previous Tribunal story where some hero said something that would be what prompted this and is what Guise points out being similar to when he was doing a wrong thing until somebody else said something that made him consider his actions and do the right thing. This gets around the problem of “somebody saying something good about the Tribunal” by simply being “somebody said something that made it stop and consider”. The ability to stop and consider is enough for Guise to recognize and point out to them that if they can stop and consider a course of action, they can make choices. If they can make choices, that means that they can make a better choice.
- The important point here isn’t “the Celestial Tribunal continues to exist and is okay”, we know that it will very shortly become a Scion of OblivAeon so if that was the “lesson” of the issue it’s a real downer. The important thing is simply that Guise manages to talk it down off this ledge. Adam continues to have a problem imagining how “the Tribunal continues to exist” is a net benefit above what “the Tribunal destroys itself” would be. Christopher thinks that’s exactly the Scholar’s point here. Guise’s response as to why he would want to save this thing from destruction is simply “because that’s what heroes do”. The easy thing is for this thing to destroy itself, the right thing is to give it a chance to look at itself and its actions and choose to do differently. He’s decided that the fact that it was able to question itself and its own actions shows a level of self-awareness/sentience that it didn’t show before and that should be given a chance to change. It’s not just a big dumb robot/sword. When he puts it this way (with the “that’s what heroes do” line) is when Scholar realizes that he’s right.
- Christopher tries to pull a “and after the heroes fly off we get a coda where OblivAeon destroys it”, but it’s too early. They just leave things open-ended as they’re allowed to take a ship and leave. Or maybe it’s a teleporter thing and they just beam the heroes away. Yeah, so from page 3 through the next-to-last page we have the heroes around. The Tribunal beams the heroes to wherever they wind up next and then we’re just left with the Tribunal trying to figure out what it should do now. It’s been given the chance to make a different choice, what’s it going to be. Then we see some weird rend in spacetime happens with ominous purple tendrils coming out of it. Is this their opportunity? It’s a cliffhanger, but not for events in the Guise story specifically. Christopher doesn’t want to leave things here as completely open-ended or necessarily “happy” for the Tribunal as they could - more that the something is going to happen with it sooner rather than later.
- Another way to do would just for it to make the choice and that choice is to use its free will to become a Scion of OblivAeon, but that’s too depressing. It’s better for it to be tragic - it’s this burgeoning thing that needs to make its own future, and then it’s just co-opted by OblivAeon. This can probably even tie into some Parse stuff nicely.
- The end of the book then could go back to Guise and Scholar. Scholar talking about how he was prepared to let that thing destroy itself as it seems like the galaxy would probably be better off without it. Guise’s response is “How many people say that Megalopolis would be better off without me?” This is when that specific angle comes in. Sure, the scale is much different, but where would you draw the line?
- So, we’ve wound up with a fairly low-combat issue. There’s a little Guise and Scholar vs. robots near the beginning until they get brought to the courtroom, but beyond that it’s Guise doing the right thing while also serving as a primer for “what the Celestial Tribunal is/has been” as it goes into its history for him.
- What did Scholar feel in the ley-lines that made him think a trip to space was necessary? Something related to Nixious or something else initially? Unspecified - he couldn’t tell what was happening out there that required his attention, just that there was something out there well beyond our solar system that needed taken care of. Adam brings up an analogy (prompted by a Mr. Wizard experiment) of suspending iron filings in a gel or something and bringing a magnet nearby so that they’d rearrange to show you the magnetic force lines. He imagines it something like that - Scholar could feel the tug and could see the shape of what was happening, even if he couldn’t see the root cause. It turns out to be “OblivAeon” more specifically than Nixious, but he had to go out there to find out what it was/to do something about it, so he and Guise head out to do just that.
- How to Scholar and Guise get from Earth to Dok'Thorath? Do they have many stops along the way and/or meet up with other heroes while out there (Prime Wardens, K.N.Y.F.E., etc.)? First there’s the La Capitan stuff. From there they just kind of wind up having a series of misadventures that bounce them around from place to place, further out into space. Scholar’s still working on following the ley-line thing, but he’s also putting in the work with Guise. There’s probably an element of “are we ever going home?” to the proceedings. Sure, we’ll do the thing and go home. Do we have the means of doing so? There are crossovers with other heroes, but largely in other books. The Guise Book itself is very much about the two of them and their moral quandaries.
- We’ve heard two different takes regarding their run-in with Wager Master did both happen or just one of them (in the Wager Master episode we’re told that he sends them on a quest for three items that Guise just pulls out of his bag, “winning” instantly and in the first OblivAeon episode we are told that he tries to drive a wedge between the heroes only he got bored and so gives them a participation trophy)? Both happen. The former would have predated today’s story and the latter much closer to the end of the arc.
- In general, how long did their team up last in comics before OblivAeon? From issue #37 through issue #58 when Scholar died.
- What makes the Scholar and Guise a good duo (both in terms of story/personality interplay and any “cool combos” they have)? What makes them a good team is the classic comedy duo setup of a straight man and the comic foil. Scholar is genuinely trying to help Guise, but he’s also got this space thing he needs to take care of. Guise is up for helping, but he’s also going to get up to all kinds of tomfoolery and shenanigans. In terms of Cool Combos, Guise can transform himself and Scholar can transmute himself - there’s potential for something there, right?
- Does Guise need oxygen to live (I’m assuming Scholar doesn’t when he’s in energy form or that he can use his powers to make atmosphere around him or something)? They’re both able to survive in space through the use of their powers. Guise can just make a space suit for himself. He could just survive in space, but he definitely acts like he can’t breathe and makes a big deal of it until Scholar tells him to cut it out. He’s Wager Master-ish enough that he’s fine. He really likes having oxygen. He likes eating food too, but probably doesn’t need it. Scholar can transmute himself into a form that doesn’t need air. He can’t sustain that forever, but it buys him time.
- In Editor’s Note 51 you said that you wouldn’t do a Festivus comic as that would be “crossing the IP streams in a weird way”, however through the medium of Guise we know that a number of pop-culture things exist in the Metaverse; for the following list, can you tell us if Guise did, could, or would reference them in comics?
- “What’s up, doc?” Yes.
- “D’oh!” Yes.
- “Yabba dabba doo!” Yeah, probably.
- “I tawt I taw a puddy tat.” Yeah.
- “Here’s Johnny!” Yes.
- “Oh a wise guy, eh?” Yeah.
- A bit where he eats spinach to gain strength. Yes at some point.
- “Cowabunga!” Yeah, he’d riff on the whole ninja turtle thing, not just this catch phrase.
- “I have the power!” Yeah, for sure.
- “Did I do that?” Yes. There were likely a lot of these when Family Matters was popular (same goes with Simpsons references).
- “Oh my god! They killed Kenny!” They don’t think so. The cultural reference there isn’t right for Guise.
- “Th-th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” Seems likely, but Adam thinks that you might be more open to legal problems with that one (more so than “What’s up, doc?”) Anyway, pending lawyers saying “no!” the whole list except for “Oh my god! They killed Kenny!” likely got used at some point. It’s not necessarily that he wouldn’t refer to South Park at some point, but that line in particular seems specific to that show and not really fitting for Guise as if he said “Oh my god! They killed Legacy!” or whatnot it’s not going to register what he’s talking about instantly the way the others do.
- What is the “feel” of the average Scholar story? Did he even have solo stories, or was he always relegated to mentor roles? Were they big magical threats or smaller things where he rolled into town to help somebody? We’ve seen a late story involving him (with Guise), but what of early stories with him (say something from the Golden Age and something from the ’80s-’90s)? The Golden Age Scholar positions him as a wise and powerful alchemist who can deal with magical threats in a fantastical kind of setting. There’s an element of pulpiness to it - unearthing ancient relics for magical purposes. From the ’70s through the ’00s he’s mostly a support character in other people’s stories. Somebody to help them deal with whatever it is they’re dealing with. He doesn’t really have much in the way of solo stories outside of the occasional one-off thing in Arcane Tales or Tome of the Bizarre or odd cases where he’s in somebody else’s book and they’re absent for some reason and he’s putting together what the problem is/where they are. He’s an old/reliable/faithful/kind/wise/mentor character that holds the Multiverse together and that’s kind of why he had to go come OblivAeon time.
- Has John kept up with scientific advances in the century and a half since he graduated? Has he ever returned to his alma mater (either for more classes or as a professor)? We haven’t seen him go back to school, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for there to be a story where heroes wind up near a college at some point and run into him. “Why are you here?” “Oh, I’m an adjunct professor here sometimes. Don’t worry about it.” Then a student passes with a “Hi, Professor Williams!” confused heroes “Williams?” “I said don’t worry about it.” His very existence is very mysterious. There have been major advances in chemistry/biology since he was a student, but he seems to be all caught up on them somehow. Almost like he knew about them before they were “discovered”. There have also been great strides made in magic/alchemy and his proficiency with one seems to increase in step with the other.
- Does he have limitations? Can he transmute living tissue other than his own? Does he have to continually exert focus on his transmutations or can he change something and then just leave it that way? If he’s transmuting a brick of lead into a brick of gold, that’s done and he can just move on. If he’s transmuting something that has a will/mind/spirit/life of its own (including his own flesh), then it takes effort to keep it that way. He probably could transmute other people, but he likely doesn’t - it’s wouldn’t have as much control over the process as he does with his own body and so would run a high risk of killing them in the process.
- He seems like an “evil Scholar” character has the power/potential to be a world-altering level threat like Iron Legacy, I know that Inversiverse Scholar has been explored as a one-off/minor threat, but have there been any Disparation issues that cover a more threatening version of the character gone bad or a villain like Biomancer gets the full power of the Philosopher’s Stone? The Inversiverse version is kind of that. His powers have limitations, but those aren’t really explored much as the story is so infrequently about him in a way that would bring them up. An evil Scholar wants to lay low like Biomancer. Even if Biomancer were to get the Stone he wouldn’t start acting in a way that would bring every hero in the world to his door. That’s not what he wants.
- In terms of SotM mechanics, Scholar does a great job turning healing into damage output and pairing him with reliable sources of healing cranks that up - do any comics showcase that kind of combo (dumping massive amounts of energy into the Scholar so that he can release it for devastating effect)? Absolutely. The healing-is-energy thing is more of a game mechanical abstraction, but his status as a conduit for energy from ley-lines across reality means that if you can pump enough energy into him he can do “functionally anything sort of?” but that’s not his primary purpose. The threats he deals with directly tend to be the “beyond mortal ken” variety (like ley-lines being pulled into space or whatever) that nobody else understands or are on a level to deal with themselves. Argent Adept being super powerful but having to deal with Void nonsense all the time is a similar vibe.
- A common story trope for superheroes is one where they lose their powers for some reason and have to manage without them for a while; is that one that Scholar’s had to face? Could something like that happen to him (say the Regression Serum - if it could detach NightMist from her curse, could it break the link between John and the Philosopher’s Stone)? It could not break the link between him and the Stone. The closest you might get are either a thing where somebody offers him a chance to have his old life back and we see a glimpse of what that would be like or one where he’s been isolated from ley-lines or they’ve been hidden from him somehow and he has to figure out how that was done, but you couldn’t do one where he was completely de-powered.
- Has there been a story where Scholar had to pose as Santa (he’s already got a head start with the glasses, beard, and figure)? Is “Santa Scholar” a good prompt for a December Writers’ Room? Dressing up as Santa seems like something that he would do. Like, they could see something where the heroes are fighting near a mall or something and he shows up with a “how can I help?” The heroes are confused: “Santa?” “No, it’s me, the Scholar.” It’s not the main part of a story, just that he might show up already dressed that way incidentally.
- When talking about alchemy you’ve said it’s a blending of science and magic and that Scholar was the most proficient practitioner (along with other notables like Hermetic and Biomancer), but you’ve mentioned another character who has melded what he could learn of mystic arts with science and technology: is the Chairman an alchemist? If so, has Scholar ever addressed this (it seems like one of the few characters with the capacity to recognize all of the nonsense that the Chairman has going on)? Would he be able to “shut down” the Chairman? The Chairman “has done things that are alchemy”, but they’d stop short of calling him an alchemist. He doesn’t fully understand the things he uses. He’s a thief and an opportunists, taking tools and methods from wherever he can get them. He has scientists to develop his science stuff and magicians to work on the magic stuff (when he’s not just getting it directly from Zhu Long). He benefits from alchemy without being an alchemist just as he benefits from science without being a scientist and from magic without being a magician (heck, he benefits from business without really being a businessman). The Scholar could recognize the alchemy that fuels the Chairman, but he wouldn’t see him as an alchemist. The Chairman’s strength is his ability to see and exploit opportunities.
- Can you give a hint as to when we’ll be seeing Scholar’s Definitive Edition deck? He won’t be in the next expansion but he’s also not in the last one, they’ll say that much. They had to break everybody out into the box they should go in for thematic purposes, regardless of how much people might want individual characters early. They’re happy with where everyone fits, but you’ll have to wait a bit for Scholar. Sorry.
- You mentioned way back in the Scholar’s episode that after getting his powers he stuck around in the town his family was in for a few days and left because of the emotional toll; that kind of trauma doesn’t just blow over, but given that he doesn’t seem to be overly broken up because of this past tragedy, how long did it take him to stop setting the table for 5? Wow, props for coming up with a succinct way to word a question to encapsulate the idea of him “no longer living his life as if his family was just around the corner” and not expecting them to be there as part of his life/existence. They don’t think he ever fully got over it. He is aware and accepting for the most part of what his life is now, even by the time we see him in his early appearances in comics. There’s always a part of him that’s incredibly aware of what he’s missing. He’s better about focusing on other people than himself and that helps him to not dwell on the pain. All of the helping/mentoring he does out in the world is as much done because it’s his calling as it is a way for him to avoid dwelling on it. Living this way takes an emotional toll on him and his end and his acceptance of it can be seen somewhat as him simply letting it happen to him. His story is a very sad one, maybe their saddest, but he brings so much positivity in the world despite it.
- Okay, so let me get this straight:
- There is a Singular Wager Master inside the Universe 1 “sandwich bag”? Yes.
- There is a Singular Wager Master outside the sandwich bag? Yes.
- xxtz’Hulissh contains a portal to Hul inside its “face”? Yes.
- Hul exists outside the sandwich bag? uncertain/hedging hesitation and tone Yeah? “Where” Hul is is very difficult to pin down. Maybe Hul is neither inside nor outside the sandwich bag. Sorry, they know that’s not helpful. It’s “somewhere else” but there isn’t anywhere else. It’s not in Ur-Space. It’s unknowable.
- Given the above, could the “inside” Wager Master finds his way (willing or otherwise) into Hul, the “outside” Wager Master finds his way (willing or otherwise) into Hul, and then they meet up in there, creating a situation where a Singular Entity exists twice in the same time/place? That is theoretically possible.
- What would happen to Hul (and possibly the extended Multiverse) in that situation (no problem, some kind of matter/antimatter annihilation situation, they duel to the death to determine who’s the “real” Wager Master, they join forces, they wink out of existence given the paradox, etc.)? This is a great question - through whatever situation, what happens when the two Wager Masters get to a place where they don’t have the sandwich bag maintaining their respective Singular-ness? This situation is entirely unprecedented, but it’s worth noting that the closest parallel to draw is to OblivAeon’s plans to mutually annihilate universes if they are too similar to one another. Given that, the most likely theoretical outcome would be for them to just both cease to exist, but in practice? Who can say?
- Wager Master is the Singular Entity of Chaos, but chaos is similar to entropy and we know that Wager Master was opposed to OblivAeon and his plan; this led me to refresh my memory on some scientific topics and see now that entropy is the universe’s tendency towards disorder while chaos is more about unpredictability (if you drop 10 balls, chaos means it’s hard to predict where they’ll end up, but entropy means that they’re more likely to wind up spread out rather than clumped together) - are these physics-specific definitions of the terms applicable to the Singular Entities and their relationship with one another? The way they use the terms, entropy is “things falling apart” and chaos is “things being random and disorganized”. People often think they’re similar, but in Christopher’s mind they really aren’t - they’re using it in a more colloquial way than the physics definitions. Wager Master doesn’t hate OblivAeon because of his entropic nature or because of the whole Archaeon thing; he hates him because OblivAeon is trying to destroy everything. At the very least, you can’t have randomness if there’s nothing that exists.
- How do we square Wager Master’s love of unpredictability with the fact that he “plays along” with whatever the “rules” of a given universe are? Shouldn’t he be the ultimate rule-breaker? Why does he stick to the rules he makes up for whatever “game” he comes up with? This is the paradox of Wager Master - it’s weird that he’s such a stickler for rules that he himself sets and for him to follow the rules of various “themed” universes. Have you considered that Wager Master’s goal isn’t winning the game (whatever those games are), but rather that his goal is to create chaos in the process of setting up the games? He’s not there to destroy, but to disrupt. He thrives on the butterfly effect (like, if he shows up and makes the heroes play dodgeball for the sake of the universe they’re probably going to win, but what aren’t they doing while they’re busy with that?). Yes, there are rules and he follows the rules but there’s nothing making him do so. It’s very peculiar. They don’t expect anybody to come away from this answer fully understanding him, but hopefully you can get something out of it. He doesn’t have any needs or wants that he gets out of playing these dumb games - he doesn’t do this stuff to in order to get anything for himself. He’s just making a mess of things.
- When a Singular Entity is destroyed, you said that a new one will form to take its place; does the new one form out of the remnants of the old one or would it spontaneously pop into existence somewhere else entirely? It would be oversimplifying things to say that one just shows up to take the old one’s place. There will be a new one that takes up the association with the concept in question. It’s unlikely that there would be one that forms directly from the remains of the previous one, but as for how the new one gets there is not standardized. It’s not an instantaneous process. Sometimes it takes billions of years, but once it happens it’s there forever (because Singular nonsense). You’re trying to measure this in too human of a way, unfortunately.
- Is Akash'Flora the Singular Entity of Entropy/Preservation like OblivAeon was? No.
- Does she just contain the power of a Singular Entity without having an associated concept? Yes.
- If she’s not, will there be some other such Entity? There will be a new Entity of Preservation and one of Entropy - it is unlikely that they’ll be linked like OblivAeon was.
- Can new Singular Entities form when a new Concept comes into being (say, Love only showing up once life intelligent enough to love evolved, or Computers only in the last century)? There isn’t one of Computers. It’s interesting that you brought up Love - many of the ones they’ve already defined would have a similar limitation (Passion, Magic to some extent, etc.). Love exists whether or not anyone loves.
- Will a Singular Entity cease to exist if their Concept is destroyed somehow (say, if Clarity somehow took over the Universe, bringing everyone Enlightenment meaning that there are no longer any Secrets for Veil to be in charge of)? There would still be secrets. They don’t think that Clarity’s Enlightenment would let people within the fiction know about Christopher and Adam themselves, but Christopher thinks that Veil does know about them. Adam comes in with the self-reference loophole - if people are Enlightened, does that include the knowledge of what it’s like to not be so Enlightened? There’s also a point to be made that Clarity’s Enlightenment is one of madness, so then the Secret would be Sanity.
- When did the Editorial staff of Sentinel Comics create the term Singular Entity and condense all of the various “space gods” under that category? Was it done just in preparation for OblivAeon? Somewhere in the late ’80s or ’90s. It was post-Shattering of the Timelines as they were getting into all of the alternate realities and cosmology that goes along with that.
- Are Veil, Talontus, and Sannhet featured in any stories or are their names just set dressing? None of them play big roles in notable stories/issues. They might have the occasional appearance, but there aren’t stories about them.
- You mentioned that certain arcane practices invoke the name of Talontus; do these spells work differently within the sandwich bag now that they’re cut off from Talontus? No, the invocation of Talontus isn’t necessary for the function of the spells. Think of it like setting up a game of SotM and noting that it was made by Christopher and Adam. Saying their names doesn’t do anything - or does it? Maybe start trying that. Set up all of the cards in a circle with a C and A in the center. Maybe light some candles in the corners. [The way I thought about this is thinking about credit sequences at the beginning of a movie or TV show and how, say, Netflix gives you the option to skip them. Sure, the recognition of responsible parties is good and all, but skipping them doesn’t affect the story told.]
- You said that if a Singular Entity was destroyed that another would fill its position given that their Concept still exists - given that there is no Singular Entity present in Universe 1 for the vast majority of Concepts, are there new Singular Entities forming inside the sandwich bag? If so, what kinds of consequences would there be if/when the bag is unsealed? Singular Entities are more tied to the idea of Ur-Space than they are to any one reality. There’s no Ur-Space in the sandwich bag, so there’s no “room” for new Singular Entities to show up. That one Universe within the bag isn’t “crying out” for its own set of Singular Entities or anything. Maybe if there were multiple sandwich bags and all of the Singular Entities were locked away and from the perspective of Ur-Space there weren’t any around we’d start seeing new ones, but that’s not the situation here.
- If Faultless’ name has been truly forgotten and is therefore “unknowable”, but “The Unknowable” is Hul’s Concept, shouldn’t Hul be able to know it? Hul isn’t the Singular Entity of “Knowing Things” or “Knowing the Unknowable”. It’s closer to the Singular Entity of “Not Knowing Things” and doesn’t know Faultless’ old name.
- Well, then, isn’t “lost knowledge” a Secret and therefore Veil knows it? That’s way more likely. It’s possible that Veil knows it. Hul doesn’t and wouldn’t care to know, but Veil might.
- You said that being the Singular Entity of The Unknowable doesn’t take a lot of work, but could one view the collective actions of xxtz’Hulissh across time be seen as 1) killing individuals who come to close to knowing the unknowable, 2) its hostility towards the users of ancient magic is somehow due to its Unknowability, and/or 3) that it hunts down those who know too much about Singular Entities for the same reason? The ancient Atlanteans knew xxtz’Hulissh was the being that was coming to destroy them from some other realm due to their practice of magic. Ancient magic is the most about “knowing things” that there is and xxtz’Hulissh and Hul are all about the devouring of such knowledge. It’s not about protecting the Unknowable or the concept of Singular Entities. It just hungers and wants to devour certain things for whatever reason. That’s why xxtz’Hulissh presents as a kaiju-style monster so well - it’s just there for all-consuming rampage. “Raaaawr! Eat Magic!”
- Is nega-god Guise a Singular Entity? No. He’s incredibly powerful, but he’s not a Singular Entity. As powerful as Singular Entities are, just in terms of raw power there can be things more powerful than they are.
- If the Letters Page podcast existed in the world of Sentinel Comics, which entity would have you killed first for knowing too much (my money is on Zhu Long)? The Chairman and Zhu Long want them dead. Biomancer wants to replace them. You might think that Chairman would have an advantage due to proximity, but “for reasons the listeners don’t even know, it’s almost certainly Zhu Long”. It’s either Zhu Long or [redacted]. The redacted one would just try to have them killed. Zhu Long might just kidnap them - they could be very useful to him. There’s also an element of needing to discredit them as well, because if they just both “mysteriously” died, that lends credence to the stuff they’d been saying. [There is also, apparently, a discussion about how plots surrounding their existence with this knowledge would play out, but, unfortunately, it’s apparently too connected to secret stuff and so it’s all redacted.] It’s a fun thought experiment. If they were to fall through a portal and are now in Universe 1 in the RPG era, what would they do? Probably not start a podcast. There’s an opportunity for them to make themselves very rich. Christopher thinks he goes to work at Freedom Plaza as a coordinator or somebody teaching people about everything in the Multiverse and hope that they can also keep him safe. This makes Adam laugh as he’d go the other way and would likely wind up as a “villain consultant”.
- [Final letter is from a fan excited for DE and they talk about scrounging for work to do to get enough money to back the Kickstarter - and about how much they’ve bugged their younger brother with talk of forcing him to play through the Events with them. This cracks Christopher and Adam up as “that’s what younger brothers are for; forcing them to play games with you. That’s what both of us did.”]
- This has gotta be something like “Guise and Scholar at the mercy of the Celestial Tribunal” and it looks like they’re on trial or something. Maybe it looks like the Tribunal is trying Guise and the Scholar is also standing in judgement? Like, “Scholar vs. Guise in the Celestial Tribunal”? That’s a decent implication for what goes on in the story, even if it’s actually misleading.
- Words? It’s 2016 so that’s not common (or more than a single word). If one word, “Judgement”. If they can work in more, “Final Judgement” as it really is the final judgement of the Celestial Tribunal. Heck that phrase itself is good - that’s the title Christopher would put on there if he had his druthers. Adam will look at some period covers to see what he can work in.