Podcasts/Episode 268

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The Letters Page: Episode 268
Writers' Room: Tome of the Bizarre Vol. 4 #60-#61

Tome of the Bizarre Vol 4 061.png

Original Source

Primary Topic

Grimm

Intro

Two issues today?

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:40:25

No, actually more than two issues! We have a LOT of issues, and we talk about many of them. That could be the tagline of The Letters Page, actually.

Get your questions for "Young Legacy and Expatriette team-up" and "Alternate Freedom Five line-up" in ASAP! And Christopher will be at PAX Unplugged this weekend, so come find him!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Overview

  • So, this Lord of the Harvest story is in Tome of the Bizarre vol. 4 #60-61, plus some other stuff. They don’t want to spell too much out up front. They’ll begin well before that, though, with a recap of stuff they’ve said before. In December 2009 TotB gets relaunched with volume 4. Volume 3 was the Naturalist’s book for much of its run, with him in a duo with Akash’Thriya for the last few years. Volume 4, however, just starts with Grimm - he’s back, he’s in charge of this book, it’s his book, and he’s in charge of what happens within its pages. It’s very much leaning into his original role as the Golden Age, horror anthology “host” character.
  • And they mean that anthology thing. Sure, there are still some full-issue stories or multi-issue arcs, but you also get a bunch of actual anthology issues with several short stories in them. Frequently, Grimm plays (usually, but not always minor) roles in those stories. There’s this air of foreboding over the whole thing. There’s weird stuff happening. Sometimes heroes make decisions or do things that seem out of keeping with their normal behavior. For example, there’s one story where Sky-Scraper is some kind of witch and does magic. There’s a Green Knight character who shows up in a bunch of stories as this anonymous agent of Grimm (his identity is not actually important for the current story, so they’ll just continue to let that be a mystery for now - he’s just one of the varied things that Grimm has been up to for the last 5 years).
  • Before we get to the actual issues for today (#60-61) they need to briefly talk about #59. In that one Grimm opens up talking about “this fool” who is trying to understand the world but can’t see beyond his own failings, yadda yadda. It’s about the Scholar. Over the course of this story, mainly because of Grimm, Scholar does manage to see what’s going on here and ultimately leads to an evolution of the character into Scholar of the Infinite [we already knew that this issue was that version’s first appearance].
  • Issue #60-61 (November and December 2014, the same time as the Terrorform mk. IV in Megalopolis story in Freedom Five, RevoCorp Presents, and strangely The Guise Book so that set of characters are “busy” as is K.N.Y.F.E. who’s out in space at the time - Headhunter wrapped up in September) opens with Grimm doing the narrator thing as is pretty common, but then you turn the page and this “setting” continues and you see him narrating this to a group of heroes. We can’t see all of them, and the setting is odd (like they’re standing in the gutter of a giant open book). Everything has been culminating in this as he’s been telling these tales for longer than any of you have existed (Haka is there, so that’s a bold claim). All of you have played roles in my tales - some have played along, others have fought, but every good story has an end and that’s where we have arrived. The true and proper end of the world’s story.
  • Now, Visionary is there too and in 2014 she is just fully Dark Visionary (Adam: “She’s like 90% cacao” [which prompts some laughter about how that’s really too much and you really want some… what’s the opposite of “Dark Visionary”? Milk Visionary, etc. kinds of jokes]). She is not going to take this. She isn’t anybody else’s pawn and so she lashes out with psychic energy, destroying things around her, attacking Grimm and the other heroes, etc.
  • Adam wants to do something annoying with the layout of this issue. The panels are not always organized neatly, so here during the Visionary tantrum the panels are laid out in a spiral so you’ve got to spin the book around to read it. Because of the meta nature of the story, all of the relevant issues are going to mess with the medium this way sometimes.
  • Grimm’s response is just that this isn’t good storytelling. “Something must be done about Vanessa Long.” And he just writes her out of the story. He can’t have her acting up like this and so just removes her from the pages of Sentinel Comics. The art has a digital reproduction of the pages spiraling down getting smaller as she is pulled aside. Then you turn the page and she’s no longer in the scene. Fun fact: this is the last appearance of Visionary in Sentinel Comics until Cosmic Contest (6 months later).
  • So, with that out of the way he turns back to the heroes to, again, explain that we’re now at the end of the story. The reader turns the page and we’re right into a fairytale. Grimm is dropping the heroes into very stereotypical roles - “evil witch” has a “the princess” and “the prince” has to rescue her. Fanatic is the Prince. The Naturalist is in here as “The Fool”. Stuff like that.
  • While that’s going on we get the occasional bit of sidebar action. Grimm shows up playing various roles, but he also breaks character occasionally to complain about the “performances” and is much more hands-on than is usual. Nobody’s quite acting as the archetype as they should and are questioning why they’re doing things. You get the feeling that multiple scenes are happening simultaneously and Grimm is having to jump back and forth a lot to keep everything on the rails. As Grimm leaves a scene of the Scholar and NightMist (involved in some kind of Aesop’s Fable - the one with the Fox and Raven and Grapes [I think this is a conflation of two fables - the Fox and the Grapes and the Fox and the Crow]). As they continue through a stilted attempt at the story, Rambler sticks his head into the scene. Like, he steps across the panel gutters as an indication that he’s “breaking” the story. By doing so it seems to snap NightMist and Scholar out of it.
  • Regarding the meta nature of the book: while we’re doing things like turning the issue around to read it and Rambler breaking panel borders, this isn’t meant to be taken in a Guise “ha ha, I’m in a comic and am breaking the fourth wall” way. That’s just the visual representation of the way the story is a commentary on and playing around with “stories” as a concept and how as the story tries to constrain the heroes it winds up falling apart.
  • Rambler has been keeping an eye on things and knows that this is what Grimm has been working towards this whole time. He doesn’t know how to stop it, but they have to try something. At the very least, by showing up in a scene while Grimm’s busy elsewhere he can at least “break” that scene and snap the involved heroes out of their roles.
  • We probably have some scenes where the three of them go around to try to free more people like this, but it’s clear that Grimm has “everyone” dancing on his puppet strings. Sure, we know that other stuff is going on in other books this month, but as far as Tome of the Bizarre is concerned, Grimm is apparently doing this to the whole world. Adam’s impression is also that this is all happening at a level “above” the world anyway. This is where Grimm has brought everyone to play out The End.
  • Meanwhile, Grimm’s been annoyed that these scenes aren’t working. We find him in a scene with Setback and Expatriette who are playing out some scene with Haka. They do the whole thing (but with plenty of panicked eyes in a “what are we doing?” kind of expression). Finally, a well-told tale - and that’s when Grimm takes his Lord of the Harvest form. A big, pumpkin-headed, scythe-wielding, scarecrow/wicker-man thing. What’s he harvesting? When he tells a story and people play that story out, he gets a level of Authorial Control over reality, and that’s what he’s harvesting from them. As he completes this story and takes the power, he also transfers those three heroes to a page in a book. Their story is done. That done and with the line “It is time for the harvest” we end the issue.
  • It’s only at this point, at the end of issue #60 that we learn the “Lord of the Harvest” gimmick (it wasn’t telegraphed by the book otherwise), but this is also where we learn what Grimm’s plot has been this whole time and how it works.
  • We start #61 with Rambler, Scholar, and NightMist. We saw their little rebellion start about halfway through the prior issue, but didn’t get any real resolution there. Here we basically get a recap from Rambler who’s explaining Grimm’s plot and how it works to the other two, just like Grimm explained it to his victims. Given the triad of people involved, we get some serious magical geeking out about all of this.
  • Scholar, being now Scholar of the Infinite, has “infinite sight and infinite knowledge” [not sure how literally to take that, but whatever] can view things through the Void - we get a big double-page spread of Grimm in his Harvest Lord form. He’s huge and is collecting pages into a large book that really is titled/labeled “Tome of the Bizarre” - it’s not a comic, but a really large book that “tome” tends to bring to mind in most situations.
  • Christopher wants to delay that. We can start with the heroes having their magic discussion, but he feels like the Tome of the Bizarre reveal should be the halfway mark rather than this early. Okay, so we just break up what the heroes are doing. After the discussion and the plan to figure out what’s going on/stop it Rambler goes off to try to free more people from their roles/stories. NightMist goes into “magical research mode”. Scholar goes into his Void thing, but we follow them sequentially so that Scholar is last.
  • Rambler goes off and finds the scene with Fanatic as the Prince and Naturalist as The Fool. Grimm is complaining that things are all wrong and swaps their roles around (so we get to see Fool Fanatic and Prince Naturalist too). Rambler shows up and does his very standard confrontation/going to stop you thing. Grimm says that that’s dumb and that he’s just part of his story now. For all that Rambler is prepared for this kind of thing… he can’t stop it this time and is forced into a role (losing this “fight”).
  • NightMist is doing her research thing, specifically looking into the past of this “Grimm” person. It’s kind of weird that nobody has done this yet (or at least not on-panel). And we actually get the origin of Grimm! Someone who was this ancient storyteller person who gets cursed into being part of the stories forever. It’s not much of a curse since that’s all he ever wanted - like, this technically could have been the downside of a “deal with the devil” kind of situation but the “devil” misjudged the character of the person being cursed. But every telling of the tale that NightMist finds is suspect given the person they’re facing. She doesn’t think she’ll find anything useful here since Grimm’s probably had too much influence in these stories too. Like, she finds things pointing out that “every great storyteller in history was really Grimm” (like, he was Shakespeare, Homer, etc.) which just screams that he’s editing things for his own aggrandizement.
  • Then we go to Scholar who looks out on reality through the Void and sees Grimm collecting pages for his Tome. The thing he realizes here is that once Grimm manages to fill that book, he can just close it forever. He needs to take a closer look into Grimm himself and we see him begin to try his Void-looking trick on Grimm directly, but we cut away before seeing what he finds there.
  • Back to “normal storytelling” stuff, we get NightMist trying to break Rambler out of a role. Grimm shows up to do a “fight” against various heroes as part of the story they’re in. NightMist is there, Scholar shows up again but we don’t yet know what he’s learned. Like, the fight is that heroes are resisting the Role they’ve been put in, but if Grimm can’t get them to comply he just assumes the role itself and gets things done that way.
  • In the process, Scholar gets to NightMist and says that he needs to tell her what he’s learned (but we cut away again before he says whatever it is so that it can be a surprise when she uses it later). The end of the book a little later is Scholar telling the other heroes that they can’t defeat Grimm in his own story. Grimm shows up and claims that “all stories are my stories”. Scholar counters with “Not one of my own crafting!” End of issue. “Continued in Arcane Tales #600”
  • Adam thinks that as Scholar says that he hold up the Philosopher Stone and it kind of forms into a book with pages swirling around him or something (the EE Scholar of the Infinite variant cards have a book and some pages around him - this was totally intentional and not at all an after-the-fact justification).
  • Anyway, that’s the joke (as was alluded to in prior episodes that discussed Grimm’s defeat - you can’t beat him in his book, so the fight was taken to another title entirely). We open Arcane Tales #600 with Scholar narrating about how a group of heroes fought a cursed villain known as Grimm, Teller of Tales who sought to end all things by telling the end of the story.
  • Grimm still has a lot of power here. He’s able to pull power from the tales he’s already completed - like, he’ll pull a page from the book where he’s already imprinted a hero and so the team has to fight Beast Haka or something. There are some deep cuts in here as it’s not just recent stories - he’s pulling out stuff from his entire history. So we might still have versions of the active heroes here pitted against them because they were in one of Grimm’s stories ages ago.
    • [Note for later reference, there’s a whole bit here about a “team” with a rotating roster called The Magical Bros. Today it’s NightMist, Scholar, and Rambler. This is a joke, but if you’re looking for it later, here’s where it started. Soothsayer Carmichael wishes he were a member, but he’s just supporting cast for the Magical Bros.]
  • Anyway, this is the big fight with a bunch of heroes up against story role versions of themselves or other heroes. Lots of mix-and-match stuff going on. Plus Grimm is in his big Harvest Lord form with a scythe and whatnot. He can also take on other story roles to augment himself (and can do multiples at once). We get a fair bit of monologuing from him about how these are all his stories and that he’s had been called [various names] but he’s always Grimm. That’s when NightMist uses the secret knowledge Scholar gave him.
  • She mists around and sneaks up on him. While he’s delivering this screed about who he is (which is fairly novel given that most of the time he’s telling other people who they are for his stories), she comes up and whispers into the ear of the pumpkin head - his true name. All of the Roles he’s assumed here just fall away mid-whisper as he just becomes this old, decrepit, mild-mannered guy.
  • Oh, going back to the format of the comics themselves. The last two Tome of the Bizarre issues were doing all of that weird stuff with the panel layout and whatnot. Does this issue return to a more normal one since Scholar is telling it? Probably at least somewhat - like, maybe when the heroes are in more control things are less weird, but when Grimm is getting on top of the situation again things go wonky.
  • Back to the comic: when NightMist does the thing we actually get some backstory for Grimm. We don’t get a lot, but the gist is that this guy was a failed storyteller who died decrepit and alone. The only success he ever had as a storyteller was when he told tales that other people told before him (see how all of the Roles that he forces people into are from pre-existing stories). In his dying moments he gets the attention of some (unseen) entity that grants him these powers.
  • By using his True Name, NightMist drops him back down to his ground state, stripping away all of the power that the stories have given him. We get another two-page spread with the whole book motif, but with the pages all falling out of the book to show that his power has been lost.
  • What happens to Grimm now? They don’t kill him… Maybe NightMist gives him a “go forth and sin no more” kind of thing - he’s free to go and to tell his stories, but we have your number now so don’t use them to harm anyone or pull any funny business. Grimm isn’t removed from the table entirely, but he slinks off and we don’t hear from him again. Starting the next month the Tome of the Bizarre trade dress is “cleaned up” a bit and we no longer have Grimm around as the host of the book. Please ignore the fact that the two characters who know his name aren’t around after OblivAeon. Did NightMist pass the name on to the Harpy? Hmm… Christopher thinks that NightMist wrote it down in a book somewhere. Harpy may not know that she has this information at her disposal, but it’s there to find if/when Grimm shows up again.

Questions

  • We saw in the Headless Horseman episode that Grimm can lose access to a story if he’s forced to end it, but do we ever see Grimm gain a new one? Is there some kind of ritual he has to do? Are there at least vaguely-worded criteria that are necessary for him to be able to use a story? Can he use nonfiction if it can be relayed in enough of a “story” format? Does he ever do so? He’s not restricted from actual events if it’s a story that gets told. He doesn’t have to do a ritual or anything to gain a story - if it’s a story he can use it. Its power is in its telling. What we learn in today’s episode is that Grimm never tells his own stories.
  • Did the modern Grimm ever use the stories from the Golden Age TotB issues that he hosted? Were they considered “ended” and therefore no longer usable? Many of them were “ended.” Essentially any story that Grimm told but that we never saw again is one that he ended. A lot of the old horror stories were one-off thing to begin with. Something horrible happens, the characters die, the end. Stories that end badly for everyone in them are probably just fine to leave that way as far as Grimm is concerned.
  • Could he retell an older issue of Sentinel Comics (maybe in the more meta Volume 4 era)? That could be interesting… They don’t know if he does, at least in the Multiverse era, but it’s interesting. Especially having characters experience origin stories or other major events from the perspective of other characters is intriguing (say, having Harpy experience the death of NightMist from NightMist’s perspective [and a great cry of “Too Soon!” from Elizabeth the NightMist cosplayer is heard throughout the Multiverse]). They’re going to have to drastically redesign Grimm to work in the RPG context anyway, but something to keep in mind.
  • So, Grimm forces the various people into roles and plots lifted from famous stories - but what about public domain characters who were already adapted into the world of Sentinel Comics? How would Grimm interact with, say, Dr. Frankenstein or Jacqueline Hyde? Could Grimm force Dr. Blake Washington Jr. and Ra into a Jekyll/Hyde situation or would SC not want to muddy those waters? It’s not unreasonable for him to do that. The public domain stories that Sentinel Comics used as inspiration for characters still exist in the setting - it’s just that for the purposes of the Sentinel Comics world, they’re not the truth about the people involved. Grimm would just use the published novels as basis of his schemes.
  • Do/can Grimm’s effects linger even after he’s no longer controlling the narrative? Like, if Grimm made some random person into the Pied Piper, but that specific plot got derailed before completion, would that guy still just be Pied Pipering around for a while outside of Grimm stories? No. Grimm’s roles that he assigns to people cease having an influence once he leaves. They could see something where you get a character origin out of it, though - like he forces somebody into a role and then is foiled and the person goes back to normal, but they liked the role and it gave them purpose. Now they try to regain that/become that on their own.
  • Does the fact that Robert Johnson himself has become more of a modern myth in popular consciousness factor into why he’s the nemesis of the guy who’s always playing around with stories? Yes, very intentional. Yeah, they’re using a person who really existed as a character, but they’ve worked real people into the stories before, but they’re once again using the pop-culture-mythology version of the person - Robert Johnson as the blues man who made a deal with some crossroads demon. So many historical people have these kinds of mythologies built up around them - he’s just a rather recent example. [For other examples they’ve used: Elizabeth Bathory being used in her “possible vampire” legendary status or Zosimos of Panopolis as an alchemist. Also: I note that the letter writer explicitly used the word “nemesis” in reference to Rambler and Grimm and Christopher and Adam did not push back/draw attention to that, so we’re wearing them down.]
  • What are the actual stakes for people trapped in a Grimm plot - if some random bystander dies in the story, are they actually dead? If Grimm gets defeated and the story is dispelled, would any such casualties come back? When Grimm finishes a story do the people playing roles in them remember that they were in a story? Would Grimm be appeased if we all just let him finish the tale? What would be the consequences of that? If you’re harmed or killed in a story that’s for keeps - the story ending or being foiled doesn’t change what’s happened to you. When Grimm finishes a story, most of the time the people involved remember afterwards. There have probably been ones where after it’s over everything seemed vague or like missing time or something, but those cases would be outliers. The more usual way is that they remember everything that happened and that they did, but they have a distinct feeling that they weren’t themselves (because that’s more horrific!). You could appease Grimm by just letting the stories play out, but that’s going to result in worse outcomes for everybody but Grimm. In the Lord of the Harvest story we learn that when a story is completed he’s able to capture a copy of the people involved, but before that we just had “if this story plays out to completion then we’re left with the end-state of that story” and that’s bad enough (think about how often stories result in somebody dead, maimed, or worse).
  • According to episode 246, Grimm has complete editorial control over his stories and yet we know a weakness he has is that the “actors” can resist their roles - what can he make into a character? Can he make a fully-inanimate object into a character? What qualities are necessary for him to make them into a part of his story? Could one of Unity’s Golems be given a role? A Biomancer clone? Something with direction but no will like the Grey? Grimm probably could do something like “and playing the role of the Prince is… this toaster!” but he doesn’t. He sticks to using people, and that’s in the very handwavy sense in that the Grey wouldn’t count but Omnitron-X would. A Biomancer clone probably could but Unity Golems are a solid maybe. “Biomancer clones are people right up until they are not.” It’s whatever is most interesting. Omnitron-X being in a Pinocchio story is pretty good, but they probably wouldn’t do that with a flesh child or Unity stuff. They probably wouldn’t really have Biomancer and Grimm stuff overlap. Like, there’s the intentional case where you’re doing a crossover because you have a good hook for it, but you wouldn’t do it casually.
  • You say that Grimm wants to control everything; why? He can’t die, as such, so surely physical needs are beyond him. He’s not some idealist who’s trying to right some unthinkable cosmic wrong, is he? Does he just think he deserves it? How’s this for a guess: he’s not fully self-aware in his initial run (serving as a presenter but his role is still among the dramatis personae - a character in the story, just one slightly elevated) but at some point he becomes aware that he’s no more real than the other people in his story and, at first, his response is to try to take control of other peoples’ lives and his inability to retain control of these sub-narratives only deepens his existential crisis until at last he must mimic the behavior of those he’s trapped and break free of the narrative he’s trapped in. Therefore, his goal is to achieve total editorial control of Sentinel Comics, not so that he can abruptly change the narrative, but so that he can exist at a creator level rather than at that of a creation who lacks his own agency. How’d I do? That’s a delightful read on Grimm. It’s not necessarily the intention given the fact that he was written by many people over the course of decades, but it’s a fine retrospective arc. His goal is to end this universe and create a new one where he’s in control of the entire narrative, so you don’t have an incorrect reading of the situation.
  • [Letter in iambic pentameter verse starts at 1:05:20 and we’ll paraphrase the questions] Has Grimm taken on the Fey-Court? Could he? It’s a fair question given that Grimm does a lot of fairy-tale stuff and the Fey-Court are at the least fairy-tale-adjacent. He doesn’t directly interact with the Fey-Court in the pages of Sentinel Comics. Grimm is very intentionally kept clear of other villains. Grimm’s stories are so self-involved and meta that it’s difficult to throw other villains into the situation. They don’t know that it has definitively not occurred, but doing so kind of makes it feel like the heroes would have very little to do. They do feel confident saying that it hasn’t happened with the Fey-Court in particular, though, since they’re their own kind of mess all on their own. There’s no reason he couldn’t, but they’d probably be able to put up more resistance than most heroes.
  • What does Grimm want? Is he just trying to play with some “toys”? Is he trying to kill off the heroes by putting them into dangerous situations? All of that. He also wants to be recognized as a storyteller, kinda. He wants to control the narrative.
  • Why is he in the Disparation expansion? Do the storytelling games he plays actually taking place in an alternate reality of some kind, reality warping, illusions, etc? When Christopher first read the letter he thought that the writer meant the Disparation comic. Grimm isn’t really there much - maybe a few times. He’s in the Disparation expansion because he’s warping reality.
  • How do you defeat Grimm? We see Rambler finding a way to remove a story from Grimm’s repertoire, but that seems like a rare event that doesn’t get pulled off very often (if ever again), right? Heroes seem to be under some kind of hypnotic trance when in a story, but do they eventually just notice cracks in the scenery that lets them break free? Once they’re free, do they need to trick Grimm into letting them go or can they just punch him? What’s stopping him from putting them back under his spell? [The letter breaks here and ends with a bit delivered as Grimm, with fun reverb added by Trevor over Adam’s reading.] Well, as seen today saying Grimm’s True Name undoes his power, so that’s a hard counter to him. A common way for things to break down is for characters from outside of his stories to intrude and break the logic of the tale he’s telling. Once the story starts unraveling it’s hard for him to fix it and get it back on the rails, even though “breaking character” is often only temporary until the whole thing breaks down. A lot of the time the resolution isn’t so much that they’ve “defeated” Grimm so much as survived and managed to get out of the story he was using them for. The only real loss he suffers is the Lord of the Harvest story - even the Headless Horseman thing is just a setback in that he can’t use that one story.
  • Have any of Grimm’s plots involved villains (possibly also with heroes, maybe having to work with their nemesis to get out)? Has he hijacked another villain’s plot? Has he worked with other villains? They talked about this a bit. They don’t think there’s any major example of a time when Grimm interacted with other villains in the Multiverse era. There could be some situational thing in the ’90s to early ’00s period where comics stories really tended to just drift from one to the next issue-to-issue and so you might briefly have a technical point of connection between a Grimm plot and other villain plots, but only in this leading-into-one-another way rather than actually being interconnected.
  • Where does Grimm stand on the concept of the Public Domain? Does he respect copyright? Grimm doesn’t care about copyright infringement. The writers of Sentinel Comics, however, do. The explanation, then, is just that Grimm is most interested in “classic” tales. The ones that have stood the test of time and are just part of the culture.
  • Given that certain public domain characters exist as “real people” within the context of Sentinel Comics, would the (admittedly fake) Vlad Tepes Draculas, Jacqueline Hyde, or Victor Frankenstein be particularly susceptible to being put into the role of “themselves” in a Grimm plot? There’s presumably no stories in Sentinel Comics where this has happened, but they think that it would be easier to get them to maintain the role Grimm put them in.
  • If that did work, would the rest of the cast’s “performance” be influenced the the “real” person’s experience or still just the Story version? They’d be playing along to Grimm’s story not the “real life” of the other person.
  • Are these stories that have been used by Grimm in the pages of Sentinel Comics? All of the suggested stories are a bit too long. He usually sticks to things that are short enough to be a child’s bedtime story. Fables and fairy-tales. He does do a Wizard of Oz thing which might be the longest, but he mainly just takes characters from that rather than playing out the whole thing.
  • Green Grosser an make vegetable vampires? Shape-shifting vegetable vampires? Flying shape-shifting vegetable vampires? What can’t he do with plants? Can he make just… normal people instead of vampires? Yes, that does seem like a lot of things for Green Grosser to be able to do. They did it anyway and it’s never explained. It’s Roger Rabbit logic - “You could do that at any time?!” “No, not at any time. Only when it was funny!” It’s a gag. He could do it in The Guise Book in this one story.
  • So, the people might not be as convincing as Biomancer’s, but he can put on a show like Glamour - why isn’t this guy a bigger deal? He spent so much time growing these guys - special plants, special soil, etc. and all of his notes were lost in the explosion so he’s not going to be able to recreate them. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  • Were you aware that in Scotland the Halloween tradition is “guising” where children dress up in costume and go door to door and perform a trick or a song to get a treat as a reward? Was this a homophonic coincidence? This was just a coincidence.
  • You said that Guise doesn’t have bones? Then what lights up to shine through his skin when he gets comically electrocuted? Ah, you see he just forms the shapes of bones to light up in such situations. For the joke. Beyond that, sometimes when he’s electrocuted you might see other shapes in there - because subverting expectations is also a joke.
  • Given the number of times we see Guise turn into a lady as part of a bit (like Buffy Summers in the Draculas issue), by the modern day would writers still view Guise as cisgendered or some kind of gender-fluid/gender-queer/gender-nonconforming option? How often do identity headcanons like this pop up in the Metaverse? Guise would identify as a cis-gender male. However, Guise presents as just about anything. Guise is Bugs Bunny. He’s a cis dude, but he’s secure enough in his identity that he can present as whatever he feels like in the moment for the sake of the joke without challenging his own sense of self in this regard.
  • Was there ever a PolterGuise story? Hmm… There might be “Guise vs. a ghost” as a story with that title or something. Or maybe “Oops, Guise died” and then he’s the ghost. Maybe a Groundhog Day thing where he’s also stuck in a time loop until he manages to get out of the situation. Yeah, that’s a good one.
  • In the Guise SCRPG book we see text on page 3 under a heading of “All About Guise” that doesn’t appear to just be Lorem Ipsum text, but Guise has scribbled all over it - can you tell us what it says under there? No, it’s gone, he defaced it pretty good (Christopher did write copy for that, though). [I also note that the PDF trick of trying to highlight the text doesn’t work either - that section of the page is an image of the text, not text with an image superimposed like the redactions to Marxman’s bio in the core book. Pfft… they suggested trying this just after the point I’d paused this to try.]
  • Does the version of Guise on his 3rd character sheet in that book (“The Real Guise”) ever actually appear in Sentinel Comics? If so, for how many issues? That’s his “look how cool I am” kind of look and he might pop up in a comic for that kind of purpose, but his characterization here wouldn’t. The point of that version is that it’s the “I know that I’m in an RPG and the only reason I’m here is because Christopher and Adam write big ol’ checks to me” version and that specific characterization where he’s aware of Christopher and Adam wouldn’t be in the comics. It’s a way to realize the character emphasizing the whole “knows he’s in a comic/game” aspect of the character. That being said… The metafictional aspect of Guise is very confusing and they’re not really sure how his DE iteration is going to go yet.
  • As written he seems like the most toxic character to ever grace a tabletop RPG - how would you suggest even playing this version of him without all of the other players hating you? That’s the neat part, you don’t! He’s there to be hated so the way to play him is for all of the other players to be in on the joke. Also, you act like you’re the best and the greatest, but you’re actually still very fallible and so you should lean into the inevitable comeuppance. You’re the butt of the joke. This is a very good Session Zero conversation to have. The Guise Book in general has the potential to really test your relationships with your friends (and has a good chunk of its word count before the adventure issues dedicated to discussing this stuff).
  • He claims that this is the “Real” him and that he’s just playing a character in all of his other appearances - how do you square that in an actual game? He’s just delusional? It’s actually true but he just acts like it isn’t? Ignore it entirely? Christopher suggests playing it as from everybody else’s perspective he’s delusional, but he believes it to be true. That’s how the comics treat him - he “knows” he’s in a comic, but everybody else thinks he’s just crazy.
  • How would you use it roleplaying Quality “It’s good to be Guise” in the game? You’d use that in any situation in which you are winning/on top. Guise is at his best and things are going Guise’s way. You could also do it in, say, a Defend action - you know that you can take the punishment. It’s good to be Guise. Roleplaying Qualities are meant to be as broad as you can make them. You’re not “getting one over” on the GM with them - they’re just a d8. It provides an opportunity for you and the GM to work together to make something in the scene that makes sense.

Cover Discussion

  • Christopher’s thinking #60 or #61 (he starts to get into “not giving things away” on #60 when Adam points out that it’s already done [which I assume means that it’s something that will be on an Event or Critical Event in DE]). So, we’re looking at #61 which Christopher suggest is “Lord of the Harvest vs. the Magic Bros.” Adam instead suggests some more meta thing. What if he made the cover just look like a book cover. Do we see Grimm’s hand holding it? Maybe - depends how that looks (although #60 is already “Grimm reading the book”). He thinks that just having like a leather bound book with the hero iconography on there in gilding. The Arcane Tales cover is the “big fight” cover and they’re not doing that one.