The Letters Page:
It's a new type of episode for the end of a very long year!
The biggest cast we've ever had! Including a surprise twist early on in the episode!
Here's what happens in January of next year!
- Tuesday, January 5th: Start of Year Break
- Tuesday, January 12th: Episode #163: Writers' Room: Ra and Setback Buddy-Cop Story
- Tuesday, January 19th: The Bullpen #2 (featuring Paul and DAVE!)
- Tuesday, January 26th: Episode #164: Creative Process: SCRPG Lore Crash Course
After MUCH goofing around, we finally get into questions at just after the 19 minute mark, and we are all over the place on questions! Thanks for bearing with us.
Thanks for joining us, everyone! We'll catch you next year!
- Of the Sentinels characters, who goes the most all-out for Christmas (I assume Legacy and Captain Cosmic would and that Setback would try but things go horribly wrong every year)? Who besides Expatriette are the biggest Grinches? Yeah, they imagine that the Parsons family has a big thing every year. Captain Cosmic goes more in the direction of traditional British Christmas stuff (figgy pudding and whatnot). Argent Adept likes caroling. Haka’s got his holiday party as discussed last week. They don’t think they have any real Grinches. Expat doesn’t really get into it, but she’s not likely to rain on anyone else’s parade regarding it either. Wraith might have trouble justifying taking “time off” for the holidays when there’s still work to be done.
- Which characters other than K.N.Y.F.E. and Chrono-Ranger speak with visible accents in the comics (like, does Zhu Long sometimes speak with stereotypical broken English, La Capitan/Comodora with a Spanish accent, Dr. Medico or Fanatic with a WASPy-perspective idea of a Latin American one, Chairman with with a stereotypical Boston/New York/other working-class-city accent, Mr. Fixer or other African American characters with an AAVE accent, or Parse exclaiming “Crickey!” at any available opportunity, Captain Cosmic with a stereotypical English accent - in this case would it be a Wodehouse upper-class accent or more of a working-class accent like Cockney or similar)? This varies by writer with some really leaning into it and others ignoring it. Parse and K.N.Y.F.E. in particular they wrote some dialog “normally” and other examples really pushing the accent. Fanatic isn’t written as a stereotype as far as having a “Latin” accent goes (her stereotype is in being an Angel of the Lord!) but Medico might have a little bit of that Spanglish thing going. Anyway, yeah, most of the ones you mentioned would have some writers lean into it, but even among those that do they’d run the gamut from well-done and respectful through really tasteless. You can go too far the other direction too, though, to the point where every character “sounds” the same and they aren’t given any individuality in the writing at all. Captain Cosmic’s is on the posh end of the spectrum of British accents.
- A note from a listener mentioning that the best character to impersonate Santa would be Biomancer. This gets into a discussion on how he could make a pretty good Santa flesh child (and sure, that probably happened at some point), but the term “impersonate” here implies that Biomancer is going out and kidnapping somebody so that he can remove their big, white, Santa-beard and graft it onto himself. He’s gross.
- Level-up Leo writes in to admonish them for missing the opportunity to name the Mall Santa monster from the beginning of last week’s Haka story and call it the Maul Santa (Leo had been in Adam’s art stream chat while he was working on the cover and brought this up there too). They are suitably admonished and agree that this name is now canon.
Tolkien/Star Trek Corner
- I get that there’s some dissatisfaction regarding the Hobbit films by Peter Jackson - what are your 3 biggest problems with them (writer’s 3: splitting the Dwarf party so that some stay in Lake-town, the book doesn’t contain 3 films’ worth of material, Legolas suddenly playing Super Mario in the third film)? Paul’s over-arching answer that covers most problems (and he’s only seen them each exactly once): the number of extraneous scenes strung together makes it feel like they just edited together the dailies. He had this thought after seeing the first one and so had it in mind as he watched the others. This prompted him to have the thought “Could someone take these and edit them down to one good movie.” This might be a project for him and Trevor at some point. It’s worth noting that there already have been a few fan-edit attempts at this. Christopher has only seen the first of them and thought that Paul’s problem with them would be the same as his, which is why he stopped after one: while there were some great parts of that movie (a standout in particular for him was the Unexpected Party at the beginning), a big point of the story of The Hobbit is Bilbo’s reluctance to be a part of the story at all as an “innocent” and a “pacifist”, but at the end of the first film Bilbo attacks and kills an orc with his sword. If it hadn’t been obvious that this was within like 5 minutes of the end of the movie, Christopher would have just walked out as he’s just done with the movies at that point. Paul agrees - the endings of the first and second movies add set-piece scenes that don’t need to be there and that he thinks can probably be edited around. Paul thinks that the best part of the movies is the tune Howard Shore wrote for Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold. Plugs from the guys for music groups that have done versions of Tolkien’s various songs and poems: The Tolkien Ensemble and Clamavi De Profundis [I note that Tolkien himself signed off on a set of sheet music written by Donald Swann for a number of these pieces and that The Tolkien Ensemble at least is pretty good about taking cues from this collection in terms of melodies for their renditions.]
- Christopher asks the guys who have seen the third movie what the deal is about Legolas playing Super Mario: it’s a notoriously bad example of movie physics where there’s a bridge collapsing and he runs/jumps off of the rubble as it’s falling.
- Paul: what non-human Star Trek race would you, Christopher, Adam, and Trevor be? Klingons are, in a lot of respects, kind of “space Vikings” and so there’s a lot there for Christopher. Vulcans are low-emotion and logical which he’s not sure fits anybody - Christopher thinks that could fit Paul himself which he agrees as a possibility. Andorians are blue and have antennas - they’re very passionate and big on things like Duty (“Passionate Lawful”) and were in a war with Vulcan before the Federation became a thing, but were one of the founding members along with humans and Vulcans. They could also work for Christopher, maybe better than Klingons. Tellarites like to argue and say things that cause arguments - Adam says that that used to be him, but not anymore. Romulans are secretive schemers par excellence and like to be mastermindy. Bolians are just generic blue people. Cardassians are also into that duplicity thing but are also really into Family and culture. Chat brings up that Trevor is obviously a Romulan, which gets adapted into him being a secret Romulan. Like, he’s undercover as a Vulcan or something. Bajorans are very spiritual/religious. Trill are basically human, but some of them get bonded to a sybiotic slug thing that live for several centuries and provides a continuity of experience between hosts. Ferengi are the very commerce-focused ones. The Founders are shape-shifters and like Order and for people to do what they say. Then there are the Q continuum who are basically omnipotent. So, Paul might be Vulcan/Cardassian, Christopher a Klingon/Andorian/Founders, Trevor a secret Romulan, and Adam is somewhat Ferengi (on the free market capitalism thing). There’s also a fair bit of Q to Adam and Christopher within the context of the podcast as they get to make up stuff that’s true.
- Could you rank the following additions/changes to the Hobbit films from least to most horrible? 1) The extraneous romance plot involving Tauriel. 2) Azog being able to track the party with a band of Orcs across long distances during daylight. 3) The weird way they handled the Necromancer plot ending with the Galadriel bomb. 4) Making the Bilbo the hero of every plot point. 5) Making Thorin hate everything and everyone through all three movies until he suddenly felt bad. Paul will go 4 (which ties into what they said above regarding it affecting the point of Bilbo’s character development), 2 (while there’s enough off about how Orcs are treated in itself, this ongoing chase weirds up the whole story), 5 (for similar reasons to the Bilbo problem, having Thorin be this much of a jerk the whole time messes with his arc), 3 (which is just kind of goofy), and 1 (which is not necessary, but doesn’t really “ruin” anything - you can just edit it out). He could see moving 3 to the end, though, since while it’s goofy and can also be edited out, at least Gandalf and the White Council going off to deal with the Necromancer was at least a thing that was happening at the time, even if it wasn’t “shown” in the book.
- [Limerick letter after the 50-minute mark] Couldn’t the labels on Bomber Blade’s chemical vats just be ones he put on there himself as a bit of set dressing for how dangerous his bombs were? They like this idea as it’s very Baron Blade to do this. Especially given that it’s so guileless. What’s the worst number for all of these things? 4? They’re all 4! Christopher does point out that he still likes the idea of the label being legitimate given that all of Baron Blade’s plots are self-destructive (or have the potential to be so).
- While Sentinel Comics tends to have a very Silver Age feel, some of the stories include high civilian death tolls - are you trying to tell more “adult” stories within this Silver Age framework? They do tend to gravitate towards a Silver Age aesthetic, but they can still use it for darker stories. Also keep in mind that they’re telling stories that took place over decades, so there’s a pretty wide range of story types that can be used. [I note that the first Interlude of the podcast had them describe what they’re going for is a “Silver Age world with Modern Age sensibilities” which they think is still apt.]
- Starting with Odd One Out (response in italics and correct answer in bold). Additional twist this time that Paul can get a hint from both Adam and Christopher. As it turns out he burns both of these in the third round.
- Endlings: Bloogo, Gruum, Korrupton, M’kk D’alton. He knew that this was Tempest.
- Villains with day jobs: Green Grosser, Judge Mental, Terror Tailor, Professor Pollution. Paul remembered the other three names.
- Crew of La Paradoja Magnifica: Doc Tusser the Gun-slinger, The Amazing Mabel the Acrobat, L’Épeiste the Musketeer, Chip the Flying Ace. Adam’s hint was that the correct answer is non-human and that helped.
- Question for Adam and Christopher, Fate of the Silmarils: turned into a star in the sky, swallowed by a dragon that then slumbers in a deep cave, thrown into the endless sea, cast into the fiery heart of the earth. Adam doesn’t even know what a Silmaril is - they’re gems that are very beautiful MacGuffins made by an elf who’s technically a good guy, but kind of a jerk. They got stolen by the big bad guy (Sauron’s old boss) who had them for a long time before they got taken back. The fact that “the endless sea” doesn’t really sound like a Tolkien thing throws them off. It was a general descriptor rather than a specific title or something - Paul points to Ekkaia, the bounding sea that surrounds the created world wasn’t established as having an edge or anything, though.
- [Original letter gives the option that, if this last one is “too easy” that Paul can make up his own, which he does immediately] Elvish ambassadors taken by Oromë to Valinor to convince the other Elves to go: Ingwë, Elwë, Finwë, Olwë. Christopher’s justification is that John Elway definitely didn’t go to Valinor.
- Mage of Magic Place’s game, this time focused on the Dark Arts.
- Which is a magical character in Sentinel Comics: Marquis de Dampierre en Burly, Lord Emsworth, Count Barzakh, Maharani Chandramukhi. It’s the only one with a name he’s heard before.
- Which magical villain inadvertantly created the Vandals: Blood Countess Bathory, Biomancer, GloomWeaver, Zhu Long. He asked Adam for a hint, but Adam doesn’t remember either. He then asks Christopher who gives both a helpful and a non-helpful hint. The non-helpful one is that the answer is the second-oldest person on the list. The helpful one is that the correct answer’s name does not start with B. On the 50/50 guess he goes with Zhu Long because he figures that GloomWeaver would have done something like this on purpose. The inadvertant thing is because the Vandals just (mis-)used one of his magic books to give themselves powers. Paul also figured that GloomWeaver, as this weird being, would be older. So, while we recently found out that Zhu Long is older, we now get the point that Zhu Long is “much” older.
- Match the hero to their nemesis: Ruin, the Idolater, Hermetic, Bugbear. NightMist, Fanatic, Argent Adept, Scholar. He correctly pairs up Fanatic and Idolater before asking for an Adam hint again: NightMist often fights what are considered “traditional monsters”. This doesn’t particularly help as he then pairs her up with Ruin based on the name, missing the fact that a “bugbear” is a thing that one might find in, say, the D&D Monster Manual. He then pairs up the remainder correctly.
- Bonus round: it’s been said that Biomancer is scared of only one man, who is it? Paul says he’s scared of Paul Revere. Trevor guesses Zhu Long. Adam doesn’t remember either and guesses the Scholar, which is correct.
Meta Meta Questions
- Christopher has his interest in suits/fashion - what do the rest of you have in terms of “hidden” skills or hobbies unrelated to GTG/Board Games/Media Consumption? Trevor and Paul both brew beer. Paul bakes as well (and is more interested in what tastes good rather than looking good, so he’d be a terrible baking show contestant). He “had a sourdough starter before it was cool”. Adam started painting miniatures recently, which is boardgame-adjacent. He also draws for fun, but that’s also related to his job. All three of them also have 2 kids, so that’s its own whole thing to keep them busy. Trevor mentions that he does music stuff, although not as much recently. Adam and Christopher both play piano (and Christopher plays pretty much daily at this point and is actively working on it).
- What are Christopher’s opinions on ascots (besides Fred Jones? Anyone who wants to can rock an ascot. If you want to, you’re comfortable, and you think it looks good, do it. They’re definitely a “sometimes food” of the fashion world - along the same lines as a bow tie in terms of having a narrower range of use than a standard necktie. Adam’s completely uneducated-in-the-matter take - bow ties only work in very specific cases. They work if you’re in a really fancy situations, but they often look silly. He thinks that ascots are actually more versatile than bow ties in the lower ranges of formality. Christopher agrees that he doesn’t really like an informal bow tie and that sends him off on a tangent about not using a pre-tied bow tie. Clip-on neckties are not great either but look enough like an a normal one to get by, but a pre-tied bow tie looks off enough that you can always tell the difference. If you’re going to wear a bow tie, learn how to actually tie it yourself. It’s annoying and will take some practice, but even so the small imperfections that you wind up with are just more proof of the human element at play. This in turn prompts Paul to ask him what knot he typically uses for his neckties, and his standard is the four-in-hand. Sometimes he’ll do a half-Windsor, but if you’re going to learn one the four-in-hand is good. Going back to the “casual bow tie” thing, the four-in-hand knot works for a casual necktie use case but can also be used in more formal ones.
- Does Paul watch the Great British Baking Show? [This prompts Christopher to ask if they meant The Great British Bake Off - it’s the same show that’s marketed differently; from what I can tell it’s a trademark issue as Pillsbury holds the rights to the phrase “Bake Off” in the US] He watched the original run on the BBC when Mary Berry was on it. He wants to go back and watch some of the holiday specials - he made mincemeat back in August and wants to try his luck at a mincemeat pie.
- What Christmas and New Years traditions do you have? Usually (not this year) for New Years Eve, Christopher will go over to Paul’s to play Champagne-Pong. Other people resist, but inevitably join in and everyone has a fun/questionable time. Adam has a perpetual nemesis relationship with NYE - he plans for a fun time with games and food and everything, but people start falling asleep at like 11 or something so things fizzle by midnight, leaving him disappointed. This prompts Christopher and Paul to invite him over to play Champagne-Pong after everybody else at his house falls asleep. Paul’s wife is Jewish so they always get Chinese food on Christmas. Adam’s family will wake up and do stockings and presents on Christmas morning and then typically go to a movie. This year they’ll probably watch the new Wonder Woman on HBO Max. Trevor’s partner is Catholic and they generally go to mass for Christmas. While he himself isn’t Catholic, he does enjoy going to that and playing the hand bells (although, again, not this year). He’ll also typically go to a movie. NYE is generally just hanging out with Jenny.
- What future games should we look forward to from GTG? Paul says that what you should look forward to, without them in any way implying anything about timelines at all or even if they’re ever doing it, is whatever they do with the Galactic Strike Force property next. Christopher chimes in with whatever they do with a licensed property (with the same caveats). Adam suggests more Sentinels stuff as well.
- How wide-spread does it look like the RPG core rulebook misprint is? For those just catching up: there is a printing error where one of the [sections](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_(bookbinding)) of the book got repeated by mistake and so one section is missing. They got the word out on this to the Kickstarter backers and, so far, they have a “high, single-digit” number of people who have reported the error, so it appears to be a very small-scale error. They’re super grumpy about this as a quality control error at the printer. If you have one of these errors, contact GTG about it and they’ll replace the book (you can keep the misprinted one). If you have this error it’s somewhere in the vicinity of page 314 or 320 or something. The misprinted book is even still pretty functional as the stuff that’s missing is in the Archives section with the character sheets for existing characters, so none of the rules for making your own stuff or how to play in general are missing. Because the number of reported errors is so small it doesn’t even seem worth their time to pre-check all of the stock in the warehouse rather than just sending out replacements when necessary.
- How far along is SCRPG Kickstarter shipping? As of recording, more than 3/4 done and maybe over 5/6 done. [As of when I’m writing up this summary, Christopher has reported that the Kickstarter shipping is all done. That doesn’t mean that everything has been received yet.]
- Will the next Bullpen episode have actual Dave, Adam impersonating Dave, or both? Probably both, although it’s worth noting that Adam’s impersonation is so accurate we won’t be able to tell.
- Regarding Christopher’s classical piano work: what are your thoughts on Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (it’s my favorite piano piece and I could just about stumble my way through the opening Promenade at one point)? He’s familiar with it, but he’s never tried to play it himself. He should. Recently he’s been working his way through Clair de Lune.
- Is GTG able to make charitable donations/matching gifts/service days? They’ll make charitable donations. When people ask they’ll typically look into how they can best do so. They prefer in-kind distributions of games rather than cash as that generally goes farther given what they’re able to do. If anybody wants to take off work to do a Service Day somewhere, they can use their PTO for it. The charity they’ve done the most with historically has been Child’s Play because it’s gaming-related, comparably a small organization and they know where everything goes, and at least when they started they knew the people involved [like PAX, it started as a creation of the Penny Arcade guys].
- When will the SCRPG be available in my friendly local game store? In about a month. The street date is in late January (Paul’s off-the-cuff response is January 20 or the week after). Your FLGS can order it now from their distributor.
- Christopher: favorite ranged weapon? His cheating answer is to throw a spear (and then use his sidearm, like a short sword or whatever, to fight his way back to his spear to recover it). If he has to limit himself to a dedicated projectile weapon, he likes a Mongolian recurve bow. He’s not very good at it as his depth perception isn’t great. If you’re throwing a spear at somebody it’s typically at closer range than you’d use a bow and is more straightforward.