The Letters Page: Episode 54
The most settings ever covered in one episode!
Run Time: 2:11:34
This episode is all about the weird and magical environments from the world of Sentinel Comics!
- Madame Mittermeier's Fantastical Festival of Conundrums and Curiousities
- Tomb of Anubis
- Realm of Discord
- Nexus of the Void
- Temple of Zhu Long
An important note: There are a few spoilers in this episode for the story of the issues included in the Sentinel Comics RPG Starter Kit. If you want to avoid a minor spoiler, skip from 1:31:20 to 1:32:04. From 1:43:45 to just before 1:48, we do get into a few more notable story spoilers, so listen at your own peril. Or skip that chunk of time, if you want to experience the story in play. We specifically mention incoming spoilers, so you have at least a heads up.
As much as this is a settings episode all about environments, this episode also covers a lot of characters who are important to the world of Sentinel Comics. Enjoy!
At the end of the episode, we mention that we were going to be recording the upcoming Parse episode between when we recorded this episode and when it aired. Due to some scheduling conflicts, that didn't happen, but we will be recording the Parse episode tomorrow (Wednesday, February 7th). So, you still have a few scant hours to submit Parse questions! Also, we're recording Miss Information's episode as well this week, so get those questions in now!
(Last thing! Next Tuesday, February 13th, at 3:00 PM Central Time, I'll be doing a live stream test on the OblivAeon Kickstarter to cover a bunch of Kickstarter and OblivAeon related things. Come hang out!)
- Marjorie Mittermeier
- Slaughter-House Six
- Baron Blade
- Felicia Parsons
- Emily Parsons
- General Armstrong
- Dana Bertrand
- The Freedom Five
- Absolute Zero
- Argent Adept
- Prime Wardens
- Captain Cosmic
- Martin Adams
- Mr. Fixer
- Zhu Long
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Dr. Medico
- Shuen Zhang
A spooky, magical carnival that teleports from place to place. Madame Mittermeier created it long ago and is rumored to still be there. See the Slaughterhouse Six episode for some background as the character of Glamour is tied into this somewhat.
- The bio mentions that the average number of tickets sold annually is only 10, that seems low to have kept a carnival going since 1827, so what's the business model like? It's not a business. No employees (although the fortune-teller has some degree of sentience) and the tickets sold don't matter as the money wouldn't be used for anything. The carnival is more interested in the people collected (and their souls).
- Any maintenance done on the rides? It's magic and the upkeep is managed by the nature of the place itself - again, no employees so there's not anybody doing maintenance. It's unclear how much a mechanic even could accomplish there.
- How large is it? That's an interesting question - it can fit into a fairly small parcel of land, but you can wander in it for days without finding the edge. The number of attractions seems variable. The whole place is a magical funhouse - it's the embodiment of confusion and getting lost and nothing being what it seems. It's also an abandoned funhouse - they're nobody running the games or rides - and so it's eerily quiet other than the badly-out-of-tune organ music here and there. It feels like there's people around, just out of view.
- How long has it been this way? Did it start like this or did it just become creepy over time? The name suggests it was initially a freak-show and magician's act, is that accurate? It did start out as a traveling carnival and was always mystical (even if not explicitly a magic act), but it grew in power until it itself became a locus of power.
- What's with the fortune teller? It seems to be the only thing there that helps the heroes, so is the carnival just messing with them? The carnival is definitely messing with the heroes. The All-Seeing Alzrabar helps anybody who talks to it in the only way it knows, by giving them information that they probably shouldn't have. Some say it's a trapped soul, some that it began as just a regular "fortune teller" automaton, others that it is an alien artifact. Nobody knows the true answer.
- What are the heroes favorite/least favorite attractions? Looking for a favorite kind of misses the point - they're all deathtraps. Maybe the abandoned pretzel stand as it doesn't actually do anything except make the place smell like pretzels despite there being no pretzels available. As for least-favorite, the Wheel of Misfortune is pretty bad.
- The carnival is listed as having existed since at least 1827, but steam-powered carnival rides didn't exist until 1868 - with Marjorie Mittermeier being a Golden Age character, that makes her well over 100 years old at that time, so how has it maintained its look over that period? Traveling festivals/carnivals pre-date carnival rides of this type and this carnival does change over time (although this one always looks about 10 years out of date and broken down no matter what year you're currently in) and it's overall look changes to match it's environment almost as if it's being directed by something. Also, the date is correct and that would make Madame Mittermeier over 100 years old. That's weird.
- Can you tell her more about Madame Mittermeier herself - where she comes from, the nature of her powers, and what she's up to in The Future? As discussed in the Slaughterhouse Six episode, she was the original Glamour appearing in the Golden Age of comics - using a combination of messing with people's minds and stage-magician tricks (all very carnival-themed - tarot cards doing weird stuff, etc.). Due to writer mistakes/continuity snarls, she gets kind of left behind, but then gets wrapped up into the background of this new Fantastical Festival location that starts showing up in the comics in the late Golden/early Silver Age stories (it's "new" in that it's the first time it's appeared in the comics, it's presented in-setting as something that's been around for a long time, though). You have to remember that comics back then didn't really have a solid sense of continuity between issues - sure, the events in any given issue had happened, but there wasn't much connective tissue between issues as an ongoing story without just dumping the characters into a new situation every month. Things didn't even have to have been presented in chronological order. Anyway, her power is magical - if you want finer granularity than that, it has to do with binding and siphoning power from souls. She started out as just a traveling fortune teller and built up power gradually over her more-than-a-century of doing things, but it's always been magic and the festival is founded on this power. While she's in the festival she's kind of insulated from the passage of time (although not unaware of the world outside).
- What does Setback wind up touching on the Wheel of Misfortune and to what effect? This is the same story that had the Wraith in the Maze of Mirrors and dealing with that unpleasantness. In classic Setback style, the result of his spin on the Wheel results in him winding up in the Maze as well. He finds the Wraith and then tries to leave through a door, which is actually a mirror - he breaks it and then rips through the back of the tent, letting them both out (although he's covered in glass shards).
- We see on "You Won't Believe Your Eyes" that Baron Blade is presenting his daughter; who is this and what's going on? It's young Legacy and, due to the mind-altering nature of the festival that he's harnessed, he's essentially brainwashed her in a one-off story to have his ultimate victory over Legacy by taking his daughter as his own. Baron Blade had heard of the carnival and managed to arrange things so that it would appear in Mordengrad, at which point he tries to take it over so that he can use it's mind-affecting nature to convince his greatest foe's daughter that she's his daughter instead. As the story progresses, he's losing control of her and so he goes back into the carnival to gain more of its power and he is lost there. Whoops. As all this has been happening, there's been a shadowy figure who, from silhouette, is obviously a young person. At this point at the end of the issue this figure makes a deal with the carnival (which is probably not going to ever be a problem) to get Blade back and for it to leave. It does, so Blade is returned, Young Legacy is herself again, and the shadowy figure is left unexplained. Side note: Adam is really proud of the costume design here.
- Who were the characters in "Shooting Gallery" other than Chrono-Ranger? Would readers have recognized them? How did they get there and why is Jim aiming at them? Are they rescued? From left to right: Senator Emily Parsons, General Armstrong, and Dana Bertrand. Chrono-Ranger has no reason to recognize any of them, but they're important to other characters (Legacy's wife, Bunker's commanding officer, and Tachyon's wife, respectively). As much as active listeners of this podcast would recognize those names, regular readers of the comics would recognize them. Jim was investigating the place and so had his gun at the ready, but he's not aiming at them. They were all at a gala and were abducted from there (which explains their fancy outfits). Jim is there dealing with an ongoing Kismet story and she had taken them because they're important to the Freedom Five (and except for the Wraith have public identities, although Absolute Zero doesn't have anybody important to him to have taken hostage).
- In the Slaughterhouse Six episode it sounded like people who are taken by the carnival never escape, so what happened with the Argent Adept to get him out (see: "Gone Without a Trace")? It's a Prime Wardens story where they're dealing with the effects of the carnival (not a specific villainous plot) and it's kind of got a Scooby-Doo thing going where they're being picked off one at a time - at the point of the card art it's just Captain Cosmic and Tempest left, but eventually it's just Tempest. This is when a villain finally shows up, and it's Biomancer. They get set to square off against one another, when Biomancer falls into the spiral thing, at which point the other heroes re-materialize as they managed to use that opportunity to come back and they all make an escape from the carnival. It's a disjointed, confusing resolution. Then it's wrapped up with a teaser of Biomancer and Madame Mittermeier in conversation, speaking as long acquaintances with an undercurrent of rivalry. This is all in the lead-up to the Return of Vengeance event, but before it's shown that all of these villains are clones (or that Tempest is) and this event is kind of the first clue that he's involved.
- Trickster Kismet is listed as having an innate understanding of the place, how does that work? Because of the way her powers manifest in the ebb and flow of fortune and her ability to manipulate it, the fact that there are so many fortune/luck/chance-related attractions there is where the connection comes in. While she is a far cry from Madame Mittermeier's level of control of it, she gets it and is not easily tricked by it herself. She can exist there comfortably (they draw comparisons to Ra in the heart of a volcano or Absolute Zero in the antarctic) and so uses it as a base during a plot where she abducts people important to various heroes. She's also annoying to Madame Mittermeier herself due to the latter's inability to affect her.
- Why is there a giant pool table? It manifests there for Cueball (although matching the carnival aesthetic as an attraction - "See the World's Largest Pool Table!"). The attractions frequently "theme" themselves around whichever villain is hanging out there this week and what's going on. There's a Freak Show there because that's a convenient place for the Naturalist to be, etc.
- The various icons on the Wheel of Misfortune seem to relate to other cards in the deck with the exception of the skull; is that just instant death? Yup, you die (or, actually, you just get sucked into the carnival).
- Do other characters ever find out what happened to Madame Mittermeier? Biomancer. Nobody else really ever even becomes aware that there's a singular person running things. Occasionally you might see somebody, but is that a real person or an illusion. Surely Madame Mittermeier is just a legend and nobody would still be around after 200 years.
- Does nobody ever wonder what happened to the people captured by the carnival? Does it erase them from history? Does anybody ever get out? Nobody gets erased and there are missing persons reports that get filed, but as the victims are gone without a trace it's hard to find out what happened. Nobody ever gets out other than the exceptions that have been mentioned.
- Are there backstories of people looking for loved ones coming to look for them? What happened to people who weren't captured but knew somebody who was? Some people come to the carnival because they knew it was the last place their loved one had been (and possibly get captured themselves). Some people have their theories about it, but then get ridiculed for this by others as it's crazy and other character flaws driving them away is more likely. Not much in the way of closure for these people, unfortunately.
- Could Christopher and Adam use the festival as a means of solving some of their meta-problems? Like, convince the Cult of Gloom to hold a meeting there or get Biomancer and his clones to go, never to return, right? Well, Biomancer can just walk back out, as mentioned previously. The Cult of Gloom is probably going to want to get in touch with Madame Mittermeier themselves if they want to schedule a meeting, though.
- How far does it actually travel (as in, is it limited to one country/continent)? It can pop up anywhere in the world. We haven't seen it on another planet (although in extreme circumstances it probably could).
- Madame Mittermeier doesn't age while in the pocket dimension of the carnival, but what about her victims? They don't age, but they're also not really progressing in other ways either - they're kind of stuck in a loop of whatever they were doing when captured and don't realize how long they've, say, been trying to knock over the milk bottles with baseballs.
- What would happen to Madame Mittermeier if the carnival were destroyed or she otherwise lost her connection to it? Could she make another such place? How did she make this one to begin with (if it's possible to be more specific than "magic") - is she just that powerful or was there some kind of ritual or shortcut involved? If the place is just damaged, then she'll just have it pop up somewhere else, no problems. If it's so severely destroyed magically such that it loses her connection to it (which means that whoever is doing so is also an incredibly powerful magician), that would probably kill her. This is kind of a situation where she made this thing out of her own essence and so is intrinsically linked to it at that level. She is that powerful but the place was initially a fairly small thing that just grew as her own power grew.
- What attractions do we not get to see? There are countless attractions. The pretzel stand already mentioned, games of chance and of skill, a rickety roller coaster (one of those old all-wood ones that mess up your back for the rest of the day), basically anything you can think of that would be part of a carnival is or had been there at one point or another.
- What does Madame Mittermeier think about all of the other Glamours? When she was Glamour she had to mostly operate outside of the carnival (see the publication/continuity snarl mentioned earlier) and she was weaker when not there, by now she's transferred her attention to the carnival itself and stays there in her domain. When a Glamour does show up, she will do what she can to let them know that they're not really that big of a deal by messing with them, but it's not like she's killing them for the crime of using her name or anything.
It's more of a tomb that just happens to be where Anubis is - kind of like an office for him. It's got a lot of traps along with the Door to the Underworld. See the Ra and Ennead episodes for some background - a big difference between them and Anubis is that he's still the original Anubis rather than a modern person imbued with the power of the other Egyptian "gods".
- It's been mentioned that the Tomb is built over the gate to the underworld, but what does that mean? Ammit retrieves Bugbear in the RPG timeline, so does this connect to some of the other strange planes like the Realm of Discord or the Void? Was Ammit originally a creature of such a place that Anubis captured? What was he doing with the Ennead artifacts? They've been hesitant to discuss "what happens to you when you die" in Sentinel Comics, and that's going to continue because the comics have a level of ambiguity except when it's narratively necessary for there to not be. Many (not all) souls that are leaving the physical realm are judged by Anubis and the ones who are found to be evil are the ones that he ushers through the gates there, where they're kept/contained. It's a dimension of evil souls. Ammit is a creature from the Underworld which has its own "native" beings that aren't these evil souls (although they're often manifested from the presence of the souls) - they often act as guardians of the Underworld, preventing anybody from coming in to harness the power there. He had locked away the Ennead artifacts as a way to lock away their power in the same kind of general protecting the Underworld from the physical world and vice versa. The artifacts were created upon the deaths of the original powerful beings, and these were evil souls in their initial people.
- Anubis seems to have some control of souls (see when Ra talked to him about helping Marty), so how far does that go? Could he have put Dark Watch Mr. Fixer's soul back to where it had been at peace before Zhu Long reanimated him? Is the Egyptian view of the afterlife the "correct" one? No, the Egyptian afterlife isn't definitively "correct" - just aspects of it are kind of correct if somewhat misinterpreted. It's not even that all evil souls go to this Underworld, only the ones that 1) Anubis manages to harvest and 2) he judges to be evil - the good ones are released to who-knows-where and so Mr. Fixer's soul is out of his purview. The deal made in the Marty situation falls under his powers as the Guardian of the Underworld, which he rarely actually uses. Mostly he's just there to keep the door sealed.
- Are Anubis and Zhu Long in conflict (the former keeping the scales balanced and the dead in the Underworld and the latter messing stuff up and resurrecting people)? They operate in different domains and don't really interact with one another. Zhu Long isn't pulling souls from that Underworld - if he were, he would have to contest the power of Anubis and while Anubis isn't more powerful than Zhu Long in general, this is his one job and he's quite good at it. This doesn't really come up, though.
- How responsive to the power of Anubis is the Tomb? Could the new Anubis from the RPG assume control just by showing up or would he have to confront Ammit? It's not named "The Tomb of Anubis" because it's attuned to Anubis, it's named that because he was the one running the place from time immemorial. The new Anubis can't just show up and wrest control of the place from Ammit - he's just a guy and is pretty new at this whole thing.
- What is the process of becoming a mummy (as in the keyword on the cards) in Sentinel Comics? Who were the named people and who mummified them? The process is the same as in the real world - they were mummified and buried. They were buried either in the Tomb of Anubis or close enough to it that he was able to then call them to become guardians of the tomb - they're specific to this location and it's not like all Egyptian mummies reanimate in this setting.
- How did Visionary get caught in the necrotic miasma on "Cast into the Underworld" and how did she escape? She fell in. A pit opened up and she just fell in and the energies started drawing out her life force, aging her (also Ammit's trying to take that power for herself). Nightmist magics her out of the situation.
- What did Nightmist accomplish with the Rod of Anubis? Did she take it with her when they left? This ties into the previous question, she basically held this important object that's tied to the magic of this place "hostage" until Visionary was released. This doesn't really have any effect on Nightmist as, while it's connected to the power of Anubis, it's not the vessel for that power yet as the original Anubis is still the one walking around.
- The Ra and Ennead episodes talk about how the Relics (like Ra's staff) were used by the original "gods" - in this deck we see two such, the Rod of Anubis (who's still the original "god") and the Idol of Anput; what is the latter and what powers does Anput have in Sentinel Comics? The idol is the same kind of artifact as the others and Anput was the wife of Anubis. The two of them were dual guardians of the Underworld; he would inter evil souls in the Underworld and she would usher good ones elsewhere. Centuries ago, during some in-fighting with other "gods" she was killed. There hasn't ever been another Anput and her death is part of why Anubis is so fanatical about his job here and has all of the mummies guarding the place - he's also making sure that nobody becomes a "new" Anput to replace his wife. This means that, while he's doing his job, it's only half of the job as Anput's part in things have been neglected for all this time.
- Does the location change or is the secret kept by the fact that everybody who finds it either dies or becomes a god? It doesn't move (and nobody becomes a god here - the Shrine of the Ennead was a different place entirely), but the nature of it and the sands surrounding it make it so that it's "magically lost" and Anubis does a lot to keep it hidden.
- Do you have to go through the traps and whatnot every time you need to talk to Anubis or does he have an express entrance somewhere? It kind of depends on why you're there in the first place (and the interior of the tomb does change all the time). As an example, when Ra needs to talk to Anubis, he doesn't deal with traps or mummies, he kind of just walks in.
- Does Anubis have all of the unknown relics (Bast, etc.) with him or are they elsewhere? Some are locked in the Underworld (as the Ennead were), some are elsewhere in the tomb and generally unfindable (unless you do find them), and yet others are just lost in the sands of time out in the world.
- What's the relationship between Anubis and Gloomweaver (bringing up that Gloomweaver had to get Spite's soul from the Underworld, right?)? If Spite had been in this Underworld, Gloomweaver wouldn't have been able to get it (or, it's possible that he could have, but it would have required "going to war" with Anubis and at that point it would be easier to just find another soul to use for his Skinwalker plot). The misunderstanding here is what was addressed earlier in that not everybody who dies gets judged by Anubis. They don't really have a relationship - Gloomweaver would love to have access to the Underworld and its power, and has inquired after that a number of times, but Anubis isn't having any of that. Gloomweaver has nothing that Anubis wants and there's no reason for him to trade (maybe getting Anput restored, but it's not like anybody has the means to do that).
- Was it always as malign as it is in the present or was it less so before Gloomweaver took it over? There are still beings there that are more benevolent (it's a big place, so there's plenty of room for lots of stuff), but it's a place of chaos in comparison to our universe which is largely orderly and so there's a natural conflict between entities from one in the other. Gloomweaver has certainly made the place worse than it would be without him running it, though.
- Gloomweaver "shed his humanity" to become what he is, but Nightmist does something like this herself while retaining it - does becoming this inhuman thing amplify his existing evil, require a ritual that makes him evil, or does just being in the RoD itself make him evil naturally? He was always a dark, monstrous person. The RoD amplifies his power and being a denizen of the place has also exacerbated his monstrosity, but even as a human he would have fit right in as an evil sorcerer from, say, a Conan story.
- Does the Realm of Discord "leak" into other locations as it's been mentioned that the Void does, like out in space? Does Grand Warlord Voss spread gloom throughout the galaxy in his conquering campaign or do Endlings' sadness at their loss attract Gloomweaver or is Earth special in some way? This is a very interesting question which, unfortunately, has an answer more tied into genre than anything. The kinds of books telling Gloomweaver or Realm of Discord stories are the ones focused on specific Earth magic users and so don't cross over with the cosmic settings. The cosmic settings books are too busy telling stories of space adventure to bother with evil magic cults (or street-level crime stories, or whatever). The Realm of Discord is certainly big enough to intersect with other worlds and Gloomweaver might try to do stuff there, but we aren't told those stories in the comics (much, there are one-off stories or crossovers where these weird cross-genre things might happen).
- When Gloomweaver took on the Skinwalker form on Earth, he "swapped places" with Spite's soul rather than devouring it; if that means that Spite is in the Realm of Discord does that mean he has a shot at taking over or is that more the Master's thing? Spite and the Master have equal chances of ruling the RoD. They are at war for that.
- What's the story behind Wraith's hairdryer? What was it even used for? Ok, so the "hairdryer" was just some goofy piece of equipment she'd pulled out at one point with a "what even is this thing?" kind of joke, but readers liked the gag and so artists would put it in when showing a pile of her equipment as an Easter egg. It was never meant to ever be used as an important plot point, it was just a continuity gag about all of Wraith's crazy-prepared pile of gadgets.
- What are the circumstances around it's appearance in the Realm of Discord? Is it's saccharine cheeriness just there to annoy Wraith? The voice is what annoys her (it sounds like how you'd expect a talking hairdryer to sound). Again, it's appearance is just another part of the continuity gag - once there's a story (quite a silly one) with the Wraith in the RoD where inanimate objects are becoming animated and the hairdryer is brought up as a particularly silly aspect of it.
- Where did the portal fiends come from? They're native to the RoD. It's pretty much just an animal that uses portals to travel, there's not much sapience there.
- Do the portal fiends' portals just move around inside the RoD or can they connect to other planes? They move around within the RoD. They open a portal and move through it, but the portal takes a little time to fade away behind them.
- Is the presence of Absolute Zero on so many Distortion cards a reference to a specific story or just a convenient lens to view the effects through? There's not a specific Absolute Zero story there, but the RoD is a frequent location for Freedom Five stories in general and when they go there it's almost a running gag that AZ gets messed up in some way. It's a result of Silver Age storytelling where "we need them to be outside of reality for this to make sense" and so they default to the RoD for such things.
- How does the positive energy field work? Why does it restore Blade's body while leaving his psyche still abnormal? What about the negative energy field? You're thinking about it too scientifically - it just heals his physical wounds and prevents he and Legacy from physically harming one another; it mellows them out enough for them to talk. It doesn't "heal" whatever's wrong with Blade's mind that makes him a madman. The negative energy field tears away at any material things within it and it does so just through discordian magic.
- Has Baron Blade considered simply remaking the positive energy field for his own needs? Hold on. What do you mean "simply"? It's a magic thing that only exists there randomly.
- Was this the real reason he kidnapped Dr. Medico that one time (rather than just "needing a better battery")? He's a technological character - he's very good at that and nothing good ever happens when he tries to mess with magic stuff (and he doesn't even like magic). The Realm of Discord is entirely magic. When he captures Dr. Medico it's so that he can use him as an energy source. His scars don't even really bother him, they just are. They're more useful as a storytelling device - physically reflecting his mental state. It's not like he's even all that concerned with his arm when it gets burned, he just chops it off and replaces it with a better one he made himself using SCIENCE!
- Whose foot do we see on Claustrophobic Delusion? Why would a narrow ledge make somebody feel claustrophobic? It's Captain Cosmic. It wouldn't normally, but all that "empty space" is actually pushing in on you, as if "between infinite mattresses" although it looks perfectly open - thus the delusion.
- On "Ghostly Images" we see America's Greatest Legacy and what looks to be a different Bunker suit than we've seen elsewhere, who's in that suit? The premise is flawed, that's not America's Greatest Legacy, but his father, the original Legacy from WWI. The Bunker suit is a prototype "tank armor" that was in the platoon that this Legacy led. These would have been stories told after the fact (as Sentinel Comics [and "comic books" as a concept] weren't around during WWI).
- Is Visionary's power connected to the RoD given that her Decoy Projections can be destroyed by the Distortions here? Her power isn't connected to the RoD. When she makes a Decoy, she's making a distortion of reality and all of these weird effects in the RoD are distorting reality as well and so disrupts her changes. It's not that her power is related to it, but it interferes with her powers.
- Besides Nightmist (and possibly Harpy), how do characters get in and out? Other heroes/villains have magic or psychic powers that might get there, but the Realm of Discord is more often reached randomly (something weird's going on and a portal opens, some magical Macguffin transports people there, a villain was doing something unrelated but whatever bad thing happened to open a portal somehow, etc.). It's a storytelling device and often the means of getting in and out is generally related to that one story. There's some attempt to systematize things a bit once the big Gloomweaver stories make it a more important aspect of things, but it's still kind of handwavy.
- [A bunch of questions about Eldritch Beings and trying to categorize, say, Gloomweaver and where they live, etc.] Eldritch Beings are just beings that are made out of magic, they aren't a category like "Singular Entity" is for Wager Master, OblivAeon, and the pre-scion Faultless and so it's hard to talk about stuff that applies to all of them. Depending on your definition you might be able to call Gloomweaver an "Elder God" [a term brought up in the questions, but one often associated with Lovecraftian works/creations], but "Demon" or if being generous a "Demon God" would be better, probably. There are other "eldritch beings" in the RoD, but none at Gloomweaver's power level (during the Multiverse era), but there are other magical beings like this elsewhere. The Cult of Gloom certainly calls him a god, others might call him a demon, and yet others just say that he's just a guy who got a lot of power. There aren't definitions for a lot of this stuff and so the labels aren't super helpful.
- Is Lovecraft accepted "canon" given that it's public domain and considering the background of Nightmist? [note: the works of HPL are only recently in the public domain (just over a decade now) in most of the world and much of his work is still not definitively so in the US; the copyright situation is complicated enough that it's unlikely that anybody could make a definitive claim to the copyright to prosecute for infringement, but it's still the case that in the '70s when Nightmist was created that HPL's work was still not considered to be in the public domain] The trappings of Lovecraft are built into the background of Nightmist (the writers obviously read HPL and worked that feeling into the comics), but the specifics of individual stories aren't "canon" to Sentinel Comics. So, like Cthulhu isn't going to show up in Sentinel Comics.
- Any specifics on Yog-Sothoth, the King in Yellow, or Nyarlathotep [these are more "Lovecraftian" entities, although the King in Yellow wasn't a Lovecraft creation]? You have free reign to include them in your RPG - they won't be making appearances in official SCRPG publications, but that doesn't mean that you can't have them be part of your game. There are things like this that show up in Sentinel Comics (like Gloomweaver and others), but not them specifically.
- The RPG Starter Kit has players playing through a scenario in the Void - since both it and the RoD are strange otherworldly places, how do characters tell which they're in? The Void is mostly purple and the RoD green. The Void is quieter, generally speaking. The RoD is generally chaotic and weird, while the Void is pretty much just antithetical to life as we know it (not to say that it's a place of Death, it's just very dangerous). The Void is always changing or shifting, but it's not as crazypants all over the place weird as the Realm of Discord is.
- In the Akash'Etc. episode, it was mentioned that after the Nexus of the Void was first destroyed that it reappeared on Earth - but was that reappearance instantaneous or was there a delay between destruction and the new one forming? When a nexus is destroyed the new one doesn't pop into existence instantaneously, but the process begins pretty quickly.
- In the Void Guard episode it was mentioned that OblivAeon destroys the current Nexus - if it just reforms somewhere automatically, why is this a problem? Nothing will prevent it from reforming, but it's still not a good thing that it's been destroyed. For one, the eponymous Mist Storm of the Mist Storm Universe was created from the combination of OblivAeon and Void energies resulting from the Nexus' destruction.
- What happened to the Nexus after Akash'Thriya journeys there after creating Akash'Flora? What about what happens in the Mist Storm Universe? Kind of already discussed - the combination of OblivAeon's energy, Void Energy, and Nightmist being the gate is what creates the Mist Storm. The RPG setting stuff will be covered here in a bit.
- In the Gen Con episode, it was mentioned that the Nexus of the Void was Spirit Island - who are the Dahan, was the game designer excited to have the game incorporated into Sentinels lore, and why do Void Spirits have trouble with the invaders? Here's the thing, when they equate the two what they mean is that the island that is Spirit Island becomes the Nexus of the Void in the Sentinels setting. That doesn't mean that the game of Spirit Island takes place in the Sentinel Comics setting. For one thing, in SotM Akash'Bhuta devours the other spirits, which obviously didn't happen in Spirit Island. For another, the Dahan don't live on the island in SotM. As for why these powerful spirits have trouble driving off invaders, I dunno, you tell us why. Eric Reuss, the game designer, wasn't interested in it being tied into Sentinel Comics, that was just a fun thing Adam and Christopher decided because they like it and wanted to include it.
- If Ruin was originally a Void spirit before going to the Realm of Discord, what was he a spirit of? How righteous were his licks when the X-Tremeiverse version of him stole Argent Adept's guitar (and what were the consequences)? Ruin wasn't a "spirit" like Akash'Bhuta (she was one born outside the Void to protect the Nexus, while he was a spirit from inside the Void) and so he wasn't a spirit "of" anything - more just a Void creature who left to be powerful elsewhere. The licks were not, in fact, righteous, but were actually wicked. They'd melt your face right off.
Here are the spoiler's for people wanting to play through the RPG Starter Kit
- Part of the RPG Starter Kit has Insula Primalis possibly becoming the new Nexus of the Void, destroying all traces of human civilization upon it. Also, Spirit Island involves you driving invaders off the island, so why is the Nexus so opposed to people living there? [note: the Dahan people live on Spirit Island just fine.] It's not so much that the Nexus wants to destroy human civilization, but that it will just by its shifting nature. The aspects that it works with are natural biomes that crash into each other, and human civilizations just aren't built to exist in such places. The Void (and it's Nexus) are dangerous places that you shouldn't be anywhere near.
- Will the dinosaurs there be ok? Yes, but they'll be changed. Rather than guardian spirits, the new Nexus will have guardian dinosaurs (or whatever you want to call the altered creatures) with a modicum of power derived from the Void.
- Does the destruction of the Nexus of the Void result in the destruction of Earth (given that it's been mentioned that the Mist Storm Universe has a definite end point)? The destruction of the Nexus in itself doesn't result in the destruction of Earth, but it puts it on a path where it's a possibility.
Set up in those snowy mountains, you know the ones. See the Mr. Fixer and Operative (and, somewhat, the Chairman, mini-Nemeses, and Dark Watch) episodes. Also, they're going to answer questions about Zhu Long here, but be warned that a lot of those answers are probably going to be unsatisfactory as there's still a lot of stuff in store for him in the future that they don't want to spoil.
- How do dragons work? Sure there are time travel stories (like back to King Arthur time or whatever) that had dragons or other things like that because why wouldn't mythical creatures like that show up in comics and they could talk about those, but this is, presumably, about Zhu Long and he's a different thing. He's unique.
- Is Zhu Long an evil dragon who can turn into a man or was he a sorcerer who successfully modified himself into dragon? He's a man who gained the power to become a dragon, but it's a magical ability he's gained rather than a modification to his own body.
- Did his rivalry with Mr. Fixer begin while the latter was still Black Fist? He was a frequent Black Fist enemy, but "rivalry" isn't the best word to describe it.
- So, he has a Chinese name, a temple in the Himalayas, but his servants are ninjas? Was he initially just a pan-asian, "Yellow Peril" feature in comics that only later got specific details or is there another explanation? That's pretty much right on target - "Yellow Peril" figures were a staple in comics and pulp fiction for a long time. What they've done with Zhu Long specifically is to have his history go through Chinese history and Japanese history and finally incorporate elements from both, and that's all internally consistent with the character as he exists now, but it also was a way to tie in all of the baggage that such a character would have had from those early days of comics. The character has been a fixture all along - he wasn't gone for a long time and then reintroduced, and none of his stories have been retconned out of existence because it would have been easier to ignore that racist history.
- The name "Zhu Long" refers to an important figure in Chinese mythology, is this Zhu Long meant to be that specific god and is he like Ra and the Ennead or something different? He's not a "god" (doesn't have that level of power). He renamed himself that.
- What's the nature of his magic? He uses pretty much all of the types of magic mentioned (blood, nature, alchemy, discordian, etc.), but they aren't the source of his power. The actual source is, unfortunately, one of those things they can't talk about yet. Sorry.
- How/why did he steal Mr. Fixer's body and why would he want to? Well, as has been mentioned they'd been foes all the way back to the Black Fist days. He didn't steal the body because of any animosity - he did it because he knew how powerful this guy was and wanted him on his team. He stole it by sending some disciples to physically dig up the body and take it with them.
- Has Baron Blade met with Zhu Long? Would Zhu Long take him on as a pupil? Definite no on that second one (Zhu Long wants people that are absolutely devoted to him or that he has complete control over - he has no use for somebody like Baron Blade). They hadn't met before Cosmic Contest and afterwards was OblivAeon time and so they didn't have any real chance to do so.
- Was there a specific incident between Black Fist/Mr. Fixer and Zhu Long to explain the Nemesis status? Was it tied to Fixer's apprenticeship with Xuanzang (who shares a name with the monk from Journey to the West) and who frequently was at odds with Taoist immortals that Zhu Long resembles? First off, Fixer's master was Shuen Zhang and this is not intended to be the same as Xuanzang. Initially the relationship between Black Fist and Zhu Long was entirely based on style, panache, and sweet kung-fu moves in that the stories were about him fighting wave after wave of ninjas until he figured out that the ninjas were all being sent by this Zhu Long guy. There were later story elements that indicated that Zhu Long's animosity was based around Zhu Long being a nemesis of Shuen Zhang.
- Is Zhu Long an Endling? Nope, because he's a human.
- Is "The True Form" his "final form" or can he go beyond it? He doesn't have one "beyond" that, but we haven't seen the full extent of what he can do. It's also an odd name for it, because while it's his "True Form" it's not his original one.
- How did he take his loss in Cosmic Contest? Pretty glad to be done with it (he didn't want to be there and kind of resented being pulled away from his home).
- To what end is he training assassins and poisoners? What he wants is to maintain his power. He's training these people up as means to that end.
- Does he help heroes (the deck is often helpful to the players)? Not very often, but he's "aided" the heroes a few notable times. It's always to further his own goals and that might mean sometimes helping the heroes in his own way. That's why he's an Environment.
- Is there a hierarchy within the temple? Are there secret rooms? Presumably there is training space for all of the apprentices, but how about training space for a dragon? First, this is a great letter because it's a question about the Temple instead of about Zhu Long himself. Yes, definitely training and secret rooms. Rooms that he spends time in as a human and others for when he's a dragon. There's a hierarchy, and he's clearly at the top, but there are senior disciples who train the newbies, etc.
- How hard is it to find this place? Very difficult. It's kind of similar to the Tomb of Anubis in that it doesn't move around, but there's stuff going on both magically and environmentally to make it hard to find.
- How does he go about recruiting acolytes? With the exception of the Operative, everybody there is pretty much a nameless, faceless minion without much in the way of backstory. He has ninjas because they're required by the story.
- Does he age? Where did he originally come from? Are there more like him? He was already old by the time he gained his full power and while he hasn't stopped aging, it's very slow now and he's able to rejuvenate himself or otherwise stave off the effects of aging. He came from China, but his story has taken him all over the place. He's kind of his own thing now. There are others like him in that they are in the same kind of category or something, but he's unique in himself as the others in the category are to themselves.
- Does he have a specific goal that he's trying to accomplish? Yes, and he's already succeeded. He wanted to gain the power that he's already gained and to be his own sovereign. Now it's just maintenance. This is another reason for his lack of a villain deck - his story is already over.
- What does Radiant Damage represent as he's one of the few characters in the game that deals it? It's representative of the power of his true form. [note: the "zhu" element of his name means something like "shining" or "illuminating".]
- Given how much he's been talked about in the podcasts, he sounds like a big deal; why was he not a villain deck? Was he just not involved in many big events? What about during OblivAeon? The Future? Some of the reason has already been discussed in this episode - he's already completed his big overarching goal and so isn't pulling these big villainous plots that the villain decks usually represent. The big stories he is involved with generally involve people coming onto his turf and him responding more than him instigating - even the formative Dark Watch story was a Mr. Fixer story more than a Zhu Long story. He's curiously absent during OblivAeon. In the Mist Storm Universe, as mentioned last week, he's sent the Operative out to make a name for herself and is largely sitting back and observing. In the Sentinel Comics Universe, there's a lot of interesting things going on, but they've got to be cagey about it. The crux of it is that he's moving his temple and that action will instigate a lot of stuff.