The Letters Page: Episode 96
Arrr! It be pirate time, mateys!
Run Time: 1:00:05
We get to questions right away and go through all of these scurvacious sailors of s...time?
The first question of the day ends up going in depth on every member of the crew, so that takes up the majority of the episode, but also gives you pretty much everything you want! Enjoy!
Many thanks to Zach Denoncour, our interim podcast editor! He's stepping in for Trevor for the next several weeks, and we're thrilled to have him aboard!
Look forward to next time, when things really heat up!
- [Letter from Steve Kaylor starts us off today, which functions as a pseudo Overview as he covers a lot of ground.]
- Does she only have 7 crew members? Are there other named members that we just don't see in her deck? Are there nameless mooks around in background art to fill out the crew? We know she has more members (they mentioned 8 in the Christmas episode they just did after all). There are certainly unnamed crew members in the background, generally your stereotypical pirate crew members with the bandanas and eye patches and whatnot. There are other crew members over the years, but the 7 in the deck are the important ones who were included in the La Paradoja Magnifica one-shot - when she was picking up like-minded people from history (people who felt abandoned by life in whatever their home situation was).
- What is the role of each crew members on the ship? Are they elite strikers, backup, support, etc.? Yeah, all of that. It's not like they're really needed to help man the ship itself - even from the beginning La Capitan could manage that on her own (while she's not a "creature of Time" in the way that NightMist becomes a "creature of magic", she does have an innate sense of the ship and quickly becomes adept at all of this time nonsense). More on the specifics on the individuals once we get to them, but they're mostly around for the whole "raiding" part of being a pirate.
- Why did each crew member leave their lives behind to join her? Were any coerced? Are they free to leave? All of them are free to leave whenever and non were coerced. They were all adrift in life as they were, so were ready to join as soon as she showed up.
- What's the dating scene like on the ship? They're of split opinions on what La Capitan's reaction would be. Adam thinks that she's got no time for such things while Christopher thinks she's DTF ["down to fleek" being a call-back to a bit in Editor's Note 21 at around 1:00:34] and that crew member hookups happen. She would not react well to people signing up just for this aspect of things, but sure, whatever.
- Any "day in the life" type stories? The Christmas story and the initial LPF one-shot where they're being picked up and we see them at least briefly in their normal lives are about as close as we get. They're mostly operating as stereotypes and you can kind of fill in the blanks on what they're like off duty. We just don't spend a whole lot of time with the crew as they were really around for a relatively short time in the history of Sentinel Comics [their first appearance was in June 2004, her interactions with the Sentinels got retconned to being her VotM version starting in March 2011, and by October 2012 we were dealing with La Comodora and Chrono-Ranger having their adventures].
- Orinn Haugen, Battle Forged, Viking: Mechanics and viking theme make him seem like the guy leading the charge during a raid, is that accurate? Did he leave behind a family when he joined the crew? He's got a tragic backstory. He killed his older brother, who was a little unhinged and had been threatening their mother. Killing family members is a big problem in their society, but rather than have him executed, his father just exiled him. Out there lost and alone was where he was when La Capitan found and recruited him. He's still pretty sad about that.
- Charles "Chip" Stevenson, Flying Ace: Art and flavor text imply that he's a WWI era pilot from England - was he recruited before the end of the war? Could he just not settle into civilian life after the war? He was more involved in the war at the beginning rather than the end. Due to that timing, use of planes in warfare hadn't quite gotten into combat roles yet, but were more for carrying messages or scouting missions. The amount of "combat" that happened was the pilots shooting at one another with handguns. He didn't get into flying to get shot at, though, but because he liked the whole looking down on the world from a vantage point thing and so goes MIA during a mission as he just flies off. That's when he gets picked up with the offer to get an even broader overview of things from the timestream.
- How did Chip get Absolution away from Fanatic? Why is it smoking? To be fair, from the flavor text on that card it's La Capitan handing out plunder so the implication is that she got it away from Fanatic (and we've got stories dealing with La Capitan taking swords from Fanatic(s)). Note that this sword lacks the runes that Absolution has and is considerably smaller, so this isn't our Fanatic's sword, but one from some other timeline. The "smoke" isn't smoke, it's radiant energy leaking/emanating from the sword.
- Did Chip ever encounter Grandpa Legacy? No, they weren't in the same kind of spheres. He's a British airman and Legacy was with the infantry.
- Ishikawa Zenjirou Kagemune, Final Breath, Ronin: A ronin is typically seen as a samurai without a master, but his tendency to attack the weakest opponent and deal toxic damage makes it seem like he's more of an assassin/ninja, right? Yeah. He was a samurai for a major feudal lord who had a lot of enemies. Final Breath was paid off by one of those enemies to assassinate his own master. The first few crew they've talked about sounded like they weren't that bad, really, but while he's from a society that highly values honor, this guy lacks it. He sees himself as a ronin as while La Capitan is the leader, he doesn't have a master.
- What's the deal with his sword? the toxic damage isn't from him poisoning his sword - the sword is some kind of magi-tech/cursed thing that's innately toxic (and it's done something weird to him as well, given the glowing eye). Once during some plunder mission in the far past he comes across this clunky looking bronze-age sword that's glowing green and is drawn to it. Once he picks it up, it becomes the katana thing that we see in his card art as it reforms itself to be what he wants it to be as the curse links them. The sword needs sacrifice - which is why he's going after the low-HP targets, they're the easiest fodder to keep the sword sated (so that it doesn't take his final breath instead).
- It looks like he's assumed [some specific fighting stance that I'm not going to try to parse] - what kind of fighting style does he use? Well, the "stance" in the art is just him kind of crouching/resting. As for fighting style, he would have just been used to the traditional bushido training for a samurai. He prefers one-blade fighting (and preferably striking unaware targets).
- Pierre Le Vignierz, L' Épéiste, Musketeer: How does he get his facial hair to be so splendid? Other than that, I don't have anything besides the general what's he like? He spends a lot of time on his hair. He likes the spice of life. He likes dueling. He wants new experiences in all things, though, and that carries over to dueling (if he wins, then he's obviously better so why would he want to fight that person a second time? If he loses, then they're obviously better than him, so why would he bother challenging them a second time?) and he kind of runs out of new opponents. Then La Capitan finds him and gives him the opportunity to expand his horizons in available opponents.
- Who's behind him on the art for "Raiding Party"? The "glowing eyes" are light reflecting on Siege-Breaker's glasses.
- Mable Griffin, The Amazing Mable, Acrobat: When is she from? The early 1900s, when circuses are really popular. She was part of a specific traveling troupe that was all black women acrobats (The Amazing Aerial Angels - the members of the troupe all had alliterative names and she was the Marvelous Mable in the show). They would go from circus to circus as they were a more independent act that would get hired on for a show here and there as the prejudices of the day prevented them from getting a permanent job/meant that they didn't want to be locked into unfair conditions. One time they had a job at some weird carnival with a ridiculously long name. The other members would go off somewhere (backstage, out of the tent for whatever reason, etc.) and disappear until she was the only one left. When she goes to look for them she finds that the whole carnival is now empty. She thinks she hears something in a tent and goes in only to now find herself lost in time - luckily, there's somebody we know that kind of hangs out there and picked her up. So, she's kind of got a secondary mission of her own to find the rest of her troupe. She takes the name "The Amazing Mable" in remembrance of the group as a whole.
- Her card is great theming in that she does no direct damage but yet is often the Crew card I want to get rid of the quickest - is this consistent with her characterization? Right, she's not much of a combatant.
- Khutulan Bekhi, Trueshot, Amazon: So, her name is Mongolian, but she's listed as an Amazon (which is from Greek myth), so what's going on with her? Was she already time-displaced when La Capitan picked her up? There are a lot of theories on the origins/inspiration of the Amazons for the Greeks, and one prevalent theory is that they're based on the Mongols (with the traits of horse-riding archers being present for both and women being included in the fighting forces, which would have been odd to the Greeks). She's got a crazy backstory that's gone through just as quickly as all of the others. She was one of these horse-archers and winds up falling through a time portal into some kind of cyberpunk future and (with the help of the existence of universal translators by then) she's got to find a way to survive. She makes a name for herself as a marksman and assassin (and thus the Trueshot name). So, she gets all of the futuristic gear all on her own before even meeting La Capitan. That finally happens when she's out on a job and falls through another time portal, back to the 1700s and has to hide the high-tech stuff as she continues her wet-work trade. Then La Capitan finds her and remarks on just how much time shenanigans she's already gotten up to and offers to take her home. Trueshot wants to know if La Capitan was responsible for what's happened to her (she isn't, at least not intentionally), and then says she just wants to continue to have these new beginnings. While La Capitan can't tell her what's in store, they'll see where they wind up. Trueshot is one of the more mercenary members of the crew, but is also the most up for seeing what happens next.
- Geremio Esaltazione Del Signore, Siege-Breaker, Cavaliere: Why is there an Italian accountant with a halberd chasing me? Seriously, though, the glasses seem out of place - why this detail? He was a nobleman - Italy had a variety of what we'd typically translate to "knight" in English and he was a cavalieri di scudo, a knight of the shield. These guys were appointed by a prince or by the state and were a kind of state official, but were still expected to fight. During one conflict, Geremio (more a scholar than combatant) found himself in trouble because he's also nearsighted. He winds up injured in this fight that shouldn't have been a problem and is disgraced and dying of the infected wound he received. He leaves his home to travel to some hot springs, hoping for some rejuvenation, but he never arrived. We next see him on La Paradoja Magnifica, now with the power armor that keeps him alive and the glasses to correct his vision. The artistic choice for giving him glasses was intentional as they wanted the anachronism.
- What happened to everyone before La Capitan became La Comodora? This requires us to zoom out a bit - there was a writer that wanted to recapture the feeling of the '70s of all this crazy stuff happening. He hoped that he'd create this crazy crew and have them become really popular and get their own series, etc. People didn't bite on it - they just saw them as subsidiary characters of this crazy time pirate captain. Once Disparation starts getting at the La Comodora/young La Capitan/Chrono-Ranger stuff it's apparent that that is the crazy time shenanigans that people were interested in. As such, there's a bit of dialog when Jim first meets up with La Comodora about what happened to her crew. "They have gone their separate ways. My crew is lost on the winds of time." It's a really handwavy non-explanation and nobody really cared because the crew weren't really important to most of the fans anyway. That's not to say that there isn't editorial interest in the characters - nobody was killed off, so they're still in the toolbox as it were.
- [This ends Steve's letter, but he does get his birthday request in as a postscript - the singing starts at around 36:36].
- What is La Capitan's goal? What does she offer the crew? Her goals are hard to understand. She shows up places and takes stuff (not necessarily riches - more things that are representative of their time) and incorporates it into the ship. As they talked about back in her episode, this helps her navigate. Especially early on, she doesn't have a lot of control and just shows up places and takes stuff she finds there. As for the crew, they kind of get into the individual motivations above.
- How tight-knit is the crew? Do they get along (considering they're all stated to be outsiders)? How does Final Breath fit into the (mostly) light-hearted nature of the captain and crew? A good analogy is to think of them as a large band. They then correct this to be even more accurate to think of them as being in theater. They're all working together, but individual personality quirks and the associated unnecessary drama crop up. Final Breath is the goth kid who hangs out with them. He's got the whole "I kill people" thing going - that's partly the curse, but he was this honorless killer before that too. They get along well, but he gels with the group the least.
- How well did they all get along in their quest for shiny loot from across time? Is culture class too much stress in some cases? As mentioned above, they're not really in it for the loot, that's just the job that gets them a spot on the ship to do other things. They're united by circumstance and means than the shiny stuff. [This gets into the weeds of Final Breath needing to kill people again - we get the detail eventually that while the death he doles out might be quick, it's really not easy on the victim.] They've painted the crew as largely light-hearted, and that's true, but they're also pretty self-serving and are working for somebody who's out to steal stuff and sow chaos. The only one who's arguably a "good guy" is Mable, and even she goes along with everything else in her quest to find her troupe.
- [This is part of a Princess Cool letter, so it was inevitable.] While you said in the shipping episode that there simply wasn't enough time spent on the crew to address it on the page, if we're talking behind the scenes, who's hooking up with whom? They want to continue to be somewhat vague here, but there are infinite timelines so let your imagination run wild.
- Are there any crew members we don't see in the game [insert list of people with anachronistic gear - maybe for use in the RPG]? Definitely make those for the RPG - we want to see a team! There are others, but the important ones are the ones we know about already.
- [Letter from Jeysie at around 46:27 - they get sidetracked by her usage of the phrase "motley group" which prompts them to talk about the band with that name who had a hit "Boys Boys Boys" and whose drummer only had one leg; no, that's was Blind Jagwar, not Mötley Grüp.] I love the incongruity of Siege-Breaker - a heavily-armored guy with an axe that looks like an accountant and he's a knight without a horse? What can you tell us about this guy with four eyes, but without four hooves? What happened to him on Argent Adept's card "Polyphoric Flare"? He doesn't have his horse because it's not practical to keep one on the ship (and apparently horses especially hate time travel). He's pretty straightforward after the setup given above. On the AA card, he's blasting energy through his own chest to hit Siege-Breaker who had a hold on him at the time. This doesn't physically puncture either of them, AA is just causing an effect on his opponent, but has to force that energy through his own body to do so.
- [Jeysie also mentioned the "Doylist" explanation for why he is the way he is - to give a more complete explanation than the guys do: there are two ways to think about the stories about Sherlock Holmes. One is the in-story explanation that the stories were written by Holmes' friend John H. Watson, M.D. who was present for most adventures and wrote them down afterwards. This is the "Watsonian" explanation. The second is that the stories were written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and are entirely fiction. This is the "Doylist" explanation. When considering a "Doylist" explanation of a question having to do with a piece of fiction you're considering the real-world reasons for it to be that way rather than the Watsonian one that is the reasons within the story setting itself. An example is that the Doylist reason there are transporters in Star Trek is because the show didn't have the budget for showing a space ship landing on a planet, so they had to come up with another way to get the crew to the surface. The Doylist reason that Siege-Breaker looks like he does is that Shattered Timelines was back when they still offered Kickstarter levels to get your picture in the game, and Siege-Breaker is modeled on a guy named Jeremy, aka Pydro on the GTG forums.]
- What's the deal with Trueshot healing like a jerk every time a card is played? She is a jerk. She and Final Breath are the scariest to fight (even more so than mister Viking Battle-Forged over there). She's got a lot of high-tech gear and part of that includes healing tech (likely either future drugs or everybody's favorite healing hand-wave, nanobots). There's likely going to be a cost to pay for using them so much, but she figures the trade-off for using them for the duration of a single fight with the heroes would be worth it.
- In the Cosmic Contest episode it was mentioned that even if she had had her crew, La Capitan vs. Citizen Dawn was terribly mis-matched, but the crew seem a lot tougher than most other minion cards (higher HP than most Citizens, Underbosses, etc.) - does La Capitan really have the best backup of any of the villains? Yeah, but they're less backup than just other people she has around. She doesn't really lead them or order them around more than "ok, go get 'em!" and are much more like mini-Nemeses in terms of behavior than the Citizens of the Sun or Organization members. Citizen Dawn has something more like an army (and far more people following her).
- Why does the coolest ship in the Multiverse have fewer HP than some drum that the Cult of Gloom has lying around? GloomWeaver relics are imbued with a lot of extra magical energy than any old drum/book/bag and repair themselves (so you have to really obliterate them to get them out of commission for a while). On the other hand, once the ship starts taking damage, La Capitan takes it back out into the time stream as a defensive measure rather than the heroes destroying it.
- Did you ever consider making the ship an Environment? Well, they'd done the Mobile Defense Platform as an Environment, but an MDF is much larger than La Paradoja Magnifica, so there's more room for things to happen. They considered it, but that discussion actually wound up developing into the Time Cataclysm deck instead. Having the ship be an environment would also put a lot of focus on La Capitan personally as it's her ship.