The Letters Page: Editor's Note 26
Who won the Listeners' Choice Awards? Everyone!
Run Time: 1:16:57
We announce the winners of Funniest Episode, Worst Episode, Best Audio Production Episode, and Best Storytelling Episode, as well as Funniest Question, Saddest Question, Best Fan Theory Question, and Most Revealing Question! Who won? You'll just have to listen to find out!
After than, we talk about the upcoming schedule at just before the 35 minute mark. Here what we'll be talking about next month!
- Tuesday, February 5th: Episode #99 - Team Episode: Helfyre
- Tuesday, February 12th: Episode #100 - Starter Kit Stories: What happened in YOUR games?
- Tuesday, February 19th: Editor’s Note #27
- Tuesday, February 26th: Episode #101 - Time-Slinger
Here's a photo of our recording calendar: https://assets.libsyn.com/secure/show/91622/n26_schedule2.jpg
Finally, around 37 minutes in, we finally get to your questions, starting off with a most grievous mistake on our part, unsurprisingly! But then moving on to many interesting topics.
See you all next time!
- Funniest Episode: Episode 77 - Shipping: Love in the Multiverse.
- Worst Episode: Extrasode 2 - The Food Podcast: Il Alimento
- Best Audio Production: Episode 78 - Greatest Legacy Radio Play
- Best Storytelling: Episodes 83/84 - OblivAeon
- Funniest Question: Episode 82 (Scions) - Cult of Gloom not being happy with Nixious and the OblivAeon cult stepping on his toes.
- Saddest Questions: Episode 57 (Iron Legacy) - Cult of Gloom ending with “He was smiling when he killed your daughter.”
- Best Fan Theory Question: We have a tie!
- Most Revealing Question: Editors Note 23 (OblivAeon follow-up) - John DuBois asking about Wager Master leading to the reveal of there being 2 of him post-OblivAeon.
- Bonus Lifetime Achievement Awards for services to the podcast itself:
- Powerhound2000 [also known as Sonvar in various places, like here on Reddit] - for consistently writing in long, well-thought out, comprehensive, funny and/or insightful letters/questions. It’s to the point where they take him into consideration when planning an Overview. They often don’t touch things there because he’ll have asked about them in his letter.
- WalkingTarget [hey, that’s me!] - for doing these summaries, not just for the sheer work involved in typing things up to make the content available in a more easily referred to/searchable form, but for the additional commentary/annotation/links to pertinent other material that’s often thrown in [generally in brackets like this]. In terms of sheer “words written down” he’s probably the most prolific part of The Letters Page, including Christopher and Adam, despite only writing in the occasional letter himself and they refer to the notes frequently as refreshers on what they’ve said in the past on a topic [man, it’s weird writing about myself in the third person].
- [They start with some Discord chat questions about the RPG Kickstarter - as I’m well behind on these at the moment, the Kickstarter has already passed and so the questions are of marginal use if recorded here.]
- How do you feel about being an award winning podcast now [referring to the above awards]? It feels great! [There’s some joking around with "thanking the academy" and stuff, but it eventually goes into…] They really like the community that’s built up around the podcast. Like, it’s fun to talk about this stuff, but getting to know some of the regulars has been an unexpected joy. They might try to set up a Letters Page Meetup at PAX East [which is March 28-31, so I’m out ahead of this one].
- In the last Editors Note where the nominations were announced, who’s this “Ben Sullen” who is getting credit for my, Dan Sullen’s, question about Maerynian reproductive biology? Sorry to break it to you, but your name is Ben and always has been. [Adam throws in a “Please wake up.”]. Seriously though, this is on them one way or another. Either they didn’t double check the name put down in the nomination form or they misspoke in the original episode the question was asked in [going back to the Tempest Episode at an hour and sixteen minutes in, it’s definitely “Dan Sullen” so “Ben” must have crept in with the nomination]. Sorry, Dan.
- If the Mist Gates were created by linking to all the alternate versions of NightMist, how did a gate open to Omni-Unity’s reality where there’s no living things left as everything had been assimilated into Omnitron? First: what do you mean by “living”? Second: how do you know that there isn’t a version of NightMist (“OmniMist is considered briefly before NighTron is arrived at)? Third and to be a bit more serious on this point - while NightMist initially just connects to any other relatively NightMisty being out there in their realities, she then uses the collective energy of all of them to then break out into every reality, even ones that didn’t already have a qualified equivalent. While there might not be a "NightMist" there’s certainly the Mist energy in general for her to work with.
- After listening to the Biomancer episode, I have a question: how could NightMist differentiate between a Biomancer clone and, say, a psychic changeling [referring to the being trapped in a mirror in her house, mentioned in Episode 65]? They’d have a different kind of magical aura to them. Biomancer clones are all hand-crafted, from the skeleton up through the fleshy bits, and then animated using his magic. The psychic changelings are their own kind of thing and while we would have trouble describing exactly how NightMist could tell them apart, rest assured that she can tell if necessary. They eventually kind of arrive at a sense that this, along with a lot of magical senses, are more of a visceral, intuitive thing rather than an intellectual one. She is more reliant on intellectual “book learning” for her magic than, say, Argent Adept who’s all intuition/improvisation, but it’s still there for her.
- In the Sentinels/Void Guard episode there was a question about Writhe’s card “Darkly Dreaming” and you said that you’d talk more about what was going on there in Biomancer’s episode, but that didn’t happen; so what is going on in “Darkly Dreaming”? Whoops! That story happened during the OblivAeon event. As this is the biggest event ever for Sentinel Comics, there is something of an editorial mandate that we have to know where everybody is. We don’t necessarily need to know everything they’re doing, but all the recurring players should have some sort of presence. Biomancer is a problem, though, because by his very nature any story he’s involved in will just be messy (in a narrative sense - him being around automatically inserts this “who’s really who they say they are?” element and there’s just no place for him in OblivAeon), but they can’t ignore him because he’s got a lot of power and is always behind the scenes. The general one-off story they come up with is for him to be trying to steal some genetic material from Writhe to make terrifying Writhe Doppelgängers (“DoppelGeners”?) to showcase just how awful Writhe is now. So, we’ve got the sneaky, scary, creepy, weird Biomancer who’s trying to mess with the even sneakier, scarier, creepier, weirder Writhe who’s changed and is less of a heroic figure than he had been. Part of this involves Writhe sending shadow tendrils into Biomancer’s brain and messing with his brain [Christopher says “blender” in a description, and then only partially walks that back]. In any event, this is the last time we see Biomancer do anything until well after the OblivAeon event wraps up. While this seriously messed him up, Bioimancer is a survivor and we get some spoilers: while he’s replaced most of his body parts many times over, he’s never really messed with his own brain. That’s going to have to change going forward and with that comes complications.
- How much of an inconvenience of Stuntman’s “Hidden Mine” to him? Not much of one. It just blew his leg off and he had to make a new one. No biggie, but it would at least slow him down.
- My RPG character concept is to be a heroic flesh-child, but the backstory requires Biomancer to be dead - I know that I can just say whatever I want for my home game, but I was curious what would happen to his creations if Biomancer were to die? What if the bloodstone were to break? The bloodstone doesn’t have anything to do with how flesh-children work, so don’t worry about that regardless of anything else. The flesh-children aren’t reliant on Biomancer’s existence after he gets them up and running, so his death wouldn’t break them or anything. He builds them, including their minds, and then just sort of lets them loose and they will continue to think they’re whoever he’s set them to be a copy of (like Tempest) until he triggers them - so if he’s dead they’re likely to continue to believe they’re who they look like until something happens to reveal the truth to them (say a broken bone or something that reveals their weird skeleton) or somebody else does something magical that’s close enough to what Biomancer does to trigger the knowledge. It’d be messy, regardless, as whatever schemes he had running at the time of his death leaves all of these unknown clones out there, slowly becoming more obvious as he’s not around to do any kind of “maintenance” on them. Whatever you’re hinting at for your planned situation around his death sounds fun, though. Do that.
- The descriptions of the Dark Watch show prompts some questions: Expatriette shows up in episode 5 of the Freedom Five show which ends with her locked up, as does Pete Risk (not yet as Setback) in episode 7. Expat then is involved in the Sunrise arc (starting in Episode 8 where she is let out of the jail) where she is “killed” in the assault on the Citadel of the Sun. The Dark Watch show takes that as the starting point, but we don’t see any time where she and Setback could have interacted, let alone done the crime-fighting thing that we saw in the flashbacks in the first episode of DW - is this a mistake or a retcon on the part of the DW writers? The DW creators were using the FF show’s events as a jumping off point, but they were really doing their own thing that shouldn’t require you to have watched the FF show. The reason for the montage was so that they could just give some background for the characters and their history together that was not included (or even intended) by the FF writers.
- Regarding the Maera that Tempest’s people talk about - it sound an awful lot like the Force, is that intentional? Is it “real”? If so, can anybody interact with it and what are the practical uses for it? It’s the life force that all organisms have - by their nature they have this energy in them that pushes out from them into the environment where it can interact with the life force of beings around them. Maerynians accept this to be true as a matter of course, some taking it to the point where it looks like “religion” from our perspective. It’s not something that can be “used” in a practical sense - they can’t do “space wizard” stuff with it. The bioelectic stuff that Maerynians do is a function of their biology and isn’t specifically related to the Maera.
- So, is Santa real in the Sentinels universe and is there an accepted explanation for what he is? He exists when the story calls for it. There are definitely stories that have him show up in them, but it’s not like it’s a standard feature of the universe that requires an explanation.
- Can Tempest siphon off the Maera of everybody in the world to create a “soul detonation”? No, that would be ridiculous. How would he get everybody’s permission to do so, for one?
- After hearing about Maerynian reproduction and knowing about Tempest’s kid is likely to be unusual considering the types of people he hangs out with, this got me thinking about other heroes’ children:
- Would Expat and Setback’s kid inherit Pete’s luck and/or super strength? Could go either way - it’s also interesting to think about whether Expatriette has some kind of recessive genes from her parents that might be expressed in a child. Maybe Citizen Dawn would want to claim such a child as the heir to the Citizend of the Sun.
- If Visionary had a child, would they be psychic? Powers aren’t necessarily inheritable like this. Even in the cases where the powers are genetic in some way, it’s likely as complicated as things like hair color (the guys use Christopher as an example - he has brown hair, his mom is blonde, his dad has black hair, his dad’s parents both have black hair as does his mom’s dad, but his mom’s mom has brown hair - it’s complicated).
- Would Tachyon’s child have super speed? This would depend on whether the accident that gave her powers messed with her biologically in a way that would be inheritable. Other questions this prompts are whether the child would gestate and mature faster than normal. There are lots of different directions that things could go.
- If NightMist or Naturalist have children that would inherit the curses that power them? That’s less likely unless a curse is specifically on the family.
- What would happen with Ra and Fanatic’s child? Would it even be possible? They’ve had some fun conversations about this one. If Fanatic believed that she and Ra had conceived a child, would she become pregnant even if they hadn’t and would that child be Ra’s? Hypothetically, yeah, that’s something that could probably happen. They’ve mentioned before that Fanatic could undergo parthenogenesis [well, the guys keep saying “immaculate conception”, but this is a common misuse of that term - that specifically refers to Mary being conceived without Original Sin and is therefore worthy to be Jesus’ mother, not to Jesus’ conception without a biological father being involved which is what it sounds like the guys are referring to] if she believed that she was pregnant, but then there’s the question of whether she would have a crisis of faith along the line somewhere and stop believing that this is actually happening. Would she simply stop being pregnant? Interesting thought experiments abound regarding her.
- Would Unity’s child also be able to build Golems? Well, Unity did get power from her mom passing along some magic nonsense that got put in her body by some shrapnel, so this one could go either way.
- Are OblivAeon Shards genetic alterations to the point where they’d be able to be passed on? That sounds like a case-by-case thing depending on what, exactly, the Shard did to you. [An example I can think of is that we were told long ago that Iron Curtain was part of the same project that resulted in Proletariat, but then Iron Curtain passed on similar powers to his daughter - they may have meant to retcon Iron Curtain’s origin to no longer be related to that, though.]
- Do Maerynians know who has contributed genetic material to their children? No. There had been some controlled cases where they kept close track of everybody who had been in contact with the egg-bearing parent that could give an upper-bound on who had contributed material, but that’s not the usual way in the culture and it’s not like they can tell intrinsically who has or hasn’t done so.
- Are the events of the Sentinels of Freedom video game going to be canonical for the Sentinel Comics Universe or is it supposed to be another reality? It’s canonical within Universe 1 - they’re even doing a one-shot adventure for the RPG that ties into the events of the video game.
- Given that the Enclave of the Endlings has only a single representative of each culture, and they’re there basically forever, have there been cultures that have been forgotten just because the relevant Endling has forgotten over the centuries? Have the Endlings built up a new kind of culture within the Enclave? What about languages - is there a universal translator involved or do they have to work out a kind of pidgin language to communicate with each other? From the meta-verse perspective, the Enclave is a Silver Age creation and so they kind of all just speak the same language - it’s not addressed or seen as an important detail. Later it’s finally addressed that there’s a universal translator involved that is part of the Enclave/something Jansa does so that they’re all speaking their original language (and so that part of the culture is preserved). The overall culture loss question is more interesting - if Jansa came to Earth and asked you who the one person to represent all of human culture should be, who do you tell her? [The correct answer is, apparently, Beyoncé.] The Enclave is, pretty much by definition, a flawed project in that no one representative can really be that person for any culture. Even in comics where “planets” are more like “cities” in terms of uniformity of culture, who would you pick to represent St. Louis, or NYC, or Tokyo, and everything that goes on there? It’s an impossible question. The best you can do (and what Jansa does when she has the opportunity to grab somebody ahead of time rather than just picking the one person remaining) is to pick somebody emblematic of the place/culture. There will always be cultural loss in the process.
- If Mr. Fixer wanted to, could he understand sign language? It’d be possible that he could learn it, but it’d be tricky for him. He’s watching people’s auras (hey, this might be another way to think about Maera, although he wouldn’t characterize it that way) and can tell what they’re doing, but it’s still not going to be as precise in terms of sign-language gestures since it’s not like some other company’s blind superhero’s ability to build a mental model of what’s going on through his other senses. Especially if somebody is signing at him very quickly he’d be hard pressed to be able to follow it.
- Assuming yes to the previous question, if he went deaf could he lip-read? No.
- How do heroes without the power of flight or teleportation get around (it seems unlikely that a major airline would allow Expat to bring all of her gear along [although I would note that the TSA has rules for legally flying with firearms]? Well, Expat has a bunch of black-ops style contacts and is unlikely to be flying commercial in the first place. She doesn’t actually go to far off places often on her own. She’s generally with Dark Watch when she does, and they can use Mist Portals to get around. She does have a van and a motorcycle to get around.
- How does Setback travel (safely, if at all)? He tries to avoid situations where his luck could impact others, but it’s also not the case that his life is an unending comedy of errors. It mostly asserts itself when the chips are down in some way. The bad luck could happen at just about any mundane point in his life, but only in small snippets.
- Is Absolute Zero a good cook? Ryan Frost is not a good cook. He hadn’t really put in the effort to learn before his life turned to crap and then he was even less motivated to do so. Now, since he’s cooped up in his cryochamber or suit and doesn’t eat it’s even less of a focus.