The Letters Page: Editor's Note 27
Let's do an Editor's Note mostly about Sentinel Comics: the RPG related stuff!
Run Time: 1:17:35
Hey, everyone! This was a fun one. Special thanks to all of the delightful Letters Page Patreon Contributors who were on Discord.
Welcome back to Trevor! He's back to being our full time editor - we loved having Zach for those weeks, but it's also great to have Trevor back.
- Tuesday, March 5th: Episode #102 - Create a Thing Live
- Tuesday, March 12th: Episode #103 - Myriad
- Tuesday, March 19th: Editor's Note #28
- Tuesday, March 26th: Episode #104 - Day in the Life: Unity
In this episode, we talk about a bunch of stuff, including but not limited to:
- The SCRPG currently ON KICKSTARTER!!!
- OblivAeon (of course)
- Wager Master
- Miststorm Timeline vs RPG Timeline
- GM advice
- Sentinel Comics lore
- Hero Archetypes
- Sentinel Comics canon
- Livestream Secrets
- TREVOR'S BIRTHDAY (and Anthony's birthday, too!)
- New RPG video series
- Letters Page RPG stories
- RPG mechanics
- Guise AGAIN
- Fanatic and Ra
- and more!
See you all next time for slingin'!
- Since Universe 1 was cut off from the Multiverse by somebody with the power of a Singular Entity, could the Wager Master that’s still in that universe undo it (assuming he was paying close enough attention and figured out what was going on)? Maybe. So, from the outside, Singular Entities just look at this universe and it’s simply cut off and there’s nothing they could do about it, but there’s an analogy to whether it “looks” different from the inside (like, being on either side of a barred door - only one side has access to the lock). The problem surrounding this is that the Wager Master on the inside wasn’t around at the time that Voss did the thing to cut the universe off. As far as he is concerned, the rest of the Multiverse just looks like it’s been destroyed, like what OblivAeon was trying to accomplish in the first place, so why would he look closer at it? If he had the right information to work from he might be able to do it, but nobody really knows what happened [well, except Voss] so it’s not like anybody can tell him.
- How much power did Voss have at the point when he cut the universe off from the multiverse? Given that OblivAeon was this super-charged Singular Entity, did he have more power than other Singular Entities? Did the fact that he’s a mortal prevent him from fully using the power available to him? OblivAeon did have more power than your standard Singular Entity, but it’s more in the area of 50% more than a straight up double the figure. A lot of why OblivAeon had the success that he had was down to the planning involved more than simply having more power than anybody else. Voss also plans for things. He can’t hold all of the power (thus using the OblivAeon Engine as a buffer), but he also has to use it quickly before it burns him out and so he spends a lot of the power available to him to do the cut-off trick (and therefore another Singular Entity would have to spend more of their own power to undo it). He’s still more powerful than just about anything else still around afterwards, but he did expend the better part of the power he stole to do that one thing.
- Is that why Wager Master couldn’t immediately notice/undo what Voss had done, that it’d mean his own loss of power and/or that Voss’s use of it was just so strange given that he’s not a Singular Entity? That’s part of it too.
- We know that after OblivAeon the RPG and Mist Storm timelines are distinct from one another, but how is this represented in the publishing meta-verse? Are the comics set in either published simultaneously? Is the Mist Storm covered in what’s essentially a long Disparation story? Do you have plans for renaming the “RPG Timeline” to something more appropriate for the meta-verse to use? They’ve talked about this before. In publication terms, the Mist Storm Universe (aka the Vertex universe named for the publication imprint used for the setting) wasn’t used as a comics setting for several years post-OblivAeon, while the RPG/Sentinel Comics Universe/Universe 1 is a direct continuation of continuity following OblivAeon. Within the immediate continuity of comics, the destruction of OblivAeon and the actions of Voss appear to simply “unshatter” the timelines, which means that all of the alternate reality/time travel/etc. weirdness that was explained by that now stop being used in comics (which includes Disparation which ceases publication again for a while). This isn’t even meant to be setup for anything, just a “cleaning house” action to make the comics less opaque/intimidating to new readers. After a few more years, some writers come in saying that they want to do the weird stuff again and that’s where the Vertex line comes in (see the relevant episode for full details). So, as is implicit above, the “in universe” way to refer to the RPG timeline is Universe 1. The Vertex/Mist Storm universe presumably also has a number, but that timeline also ends with the events that give rise to the Prime War material that then branches out [in two new Disparation titles] and takes place in a variety of timelines (generally ones that are messed up in some way that the Prime Aspects running the teams are trying to push in certain directions or otherwise get something from). Thinking about it in terms of products from our perspective, Universe 1 is where the RPG, the Sentinels of Freedom video game, and a few more secret projects are taking place and represent the “canonical” comics line while stuff dealing with alternate realities and other multiversal nonsense like that is where Prime War takes place and is the Disparation-type titles.
- Since the Mist Storm Universe is so different from the main RPG setting, have you considered statting up characters from there (or other popular alternate realities even if they wouldn’t appear in any of the official adventures - it seems likely that some people would like to set RPG games in other universes after all)? The nice thing about how the RPG system works is that you can build any of the “canonical” characters using the regular rules in the book - there’s no “cheating” in the characters they’ve released so far. If you want to stat up characters from Mist Storm or elsewhere, do it [although I sympathize with the letter writer in the desire for having “official” builds from the characters’ creators who would know them better than we do]. They have said before that, assuming that the RPG and Prime War games do well enough that there is a chance they might eventually do a Disparation source book, which would be the appropriate place for such things. Much like with SotM, they have a plan for where they want things to go, eventually, but like SotM it will come down to whether there’s enough interest in the product to justify the product line getting that far.
- Any advice for a new GM running the Starter Kit for players without knowledge of the backstory of Sentinel Comics (it seems like knowing the backstory is a big part of putting together that it’s Baron Blade behind everything or understanding why other character cameos are significant)? General advice for GMs: really read the Starter Kit abbreviated rulebook and, when it’s available, the GM chapters of the main book - there’s a lot of tips in there for running the game. Also, don’t worry too much about it - this system more than many lets you lean on your players in terms of where the story goes and is flexible enough to let you throw together scenes quickly on the fly. As for running the Starter Kit - if people don’t know the setting very well, that’s fine. Players will give importance to things that you describe in detail. If the players don’t know enough about Baron Blade for his return to be significant to them, have him tell some of that in his villainous monologue - they might not care as players, but hopefully they’ll at least pick up on why it’s important to their character. If the players put together the clues enough to figure out that it’s some kind of “mad scientist” feel free to take a moment to give them a few sentences about the mad scientist of the setting, Baron Blade.
- Will we see/are there plans for an RPG source book for playing games set back in the pre-OblivAeon era of comics? Among their many plans are to do Golden Age and/or Silver Age source books, which would get into some of that. However, given how modular the game is, if you have a concept in mind it is supposed to be fairly easy to build what you want, so if you want to stat up things for earlier time periods you should be able to do so. Like, if you pick heroes, a villain, and an environment from SotM you should be able to model it (Which minions does the villain have? What kinds of twists does this environment throw at the players? Just boom, one-to-one from the decks to the RPG to set things up).
- So, heroes in comics frequently have some kind of transformation between a mundane person and their powered form (here are some examples) - other than Ra, the Ennead or similar who follow a certain version of this convention this seems relatively absent from Sentinel Comics. Is this intentional (say, editors think that 10 or so characters with the gimmick is enough)? There aren’t a lot of characters like this, you’re right (although Bunker kind of fits in here as he’s a normal guy until he puts the suit on), but the reason for that is largely mechanical. This sort of aspect of the characters isn’t really something that is modeled well by Sentinels of the Multivese in particular as the game is presenting you as already involved in a conflict, so there’s no real need to have them have a non-ready-for-combat form (Ra has one card that is about Blake Washington Jr. instead of Ra, and even that’s on the high side for appearances like that due to the nature of the game).
- Not even the villains have that sort of transformation (the closest we get is Miss Information, but that’s presented as a series of small adventures leading up to the reveal of the mastermind when you actually fight her), am I reading things right? Yeah, for the same reasons as it’s not really a factor for the heroes.
- Will there be rules in the RPG for having these kinds of transformations (citing Bunker having his Out of Suit Mode as an example)? Can you preview some of that? Yes, there are character Archetypes for this kind of thing - Bunker, Muerto, and Anubis are all examples that could be used to model this.
- What made you decide to isolate Universe 1 from the Multiverse? Wouldn’t the “your game is canon” conceit fit in better if it was still part of a Multiverse? [The letter also mentions that they’ve not-so-subtly hinted that Universe 1 won’t remain cut off from the Multiverse, which prompts some more of the same from them here.] Is there a big story relating to that coming as part of the game’s release (or farther down the line)? First off, the OblivAeon story had to have a point to it in the context of the meta-verse. When they were designing SotM they started simple and then built up a lot of complex nonsense (intentionally as this was what happens in comics publishing in real life too). They needed to create a new “jumping on point” for RPG players (much like comics companies try to do occasionally to clear up some of the aforementioned nonsense to make things easy for new readers). Going forward, the conceit is shifted slightly from what it was from SotM. In that game, the line was “every game is canonical” because it happens somewhere in the Multiverse. For the RPG the line is “your canon is whatever happens at your table” which is a distinct way to think about it. They have plans for how things will develop in the RPG product line - they hope to have organized play events where people play through whatever the “current” scenarios are and then report back on how things went, and those stories will be taken into consideration for where things go in the next round of official publications, so there are plans for there to be feedback loops between the players as a body and them as the creators behind the scenes.
- What happens if Muerto tries to possess a robotic minion or the villain’s power suit or something similar? Those other things are under the direct control of some agent in the scene (whether that’s directly by the villain or just through the intermediary of the software running the thing) and therefore he can’t control them. Now, if somebody were to break the robot it would no longer have that opposition to his physically controlling the pieces and then he could do so. Or, they could see him possessing a power suit and, while he can’t directly control the thing, his influence could be used to, say, hinder the occupant by resisting the normal controls (or even use it to attack the person if it’s reasonable).
- Can you upgrade a Team Villain to Solo? Yeah, all Villains are created the same way up until you get to the Upgrades and Masteries phase of creation. Team Villains lack these latter attributes and once you add them to the character they’re in that Solo Villain area. The Stolen Legacy adventure talks about how you could take the Vandals as presented in that book and do just that (in reverse) - if you strip away their Upgrades and Masteries (which are the powers they stole from Legacy in that story) then they’re suitable to be the “normal” Team versions of themselves.
- Any plans for a “Sidekick Team” supplement where you could have the young heroes growing into their powers? They have some plans for that sort of thing. Part of this whole project is for the core rules to be the basic framework for the game and that supplement books could each add a mechanic, which could include this sort of thing.
- Can you tell us more about the Guise book? It’s going to have the Guise hero sheet, some villains like Wager Master, Green Grosser, and Cueball (in addition to some all new ones like Concealin’ Carrie and Lieutenant Major Twist), some various Environments and challenges to use, and 2 adventures. They’re playable with any heroes (although in one of them you could play as Guise and the other you can’t). One is a Wager Master thing and the other is one where the players are helping Guise (and serves as a reintroduction to Guise in the context of the RPG). It’s got a lot of the madcap story stuff you’d associate with Guise, but he’s toned down a bit compared to his SotM iteration and a lot of the content is perfectly serviceable in non-Guise games as well.
- With all of the discussions about the writers in the meta-verse, I wonder: do they have names that you’ve invented as well (like, is there a Stan Lee equivalent who was incredibly prolific)? Yes! And you’d be able to find a lot of that detail in the History of Sentinel Comics book. Some of the names are even going to be ones taken from the Kickstarter backers themselves as that was a pledge level (which sold out in the first day of the campaign).
- Muerto died in the destruction of Freedom Tower, Unity used a lot of the wreckage there when she was making the T-Rex bot and it sounds like how he possesses metal and she builds golems is similar - does she have some role in the rebirth of Thiago as Muerto? They did not intend for Unity to be part of Muerto’s official origin story, but if you want to run with that based on the similarities that you’ve noted, go for it.
- Going back to the RPG Livestreams you ran, in the session where Starblight had been absorbed into the sword you had Adam doing Overcomes and whatnot on a side sheet without letting everyone know what he was doing - can you tell us what was going on now? What would have happened to him had the other heroes not come to help him? The notecards that Christopher gave to Adam just had A, B, and C on them. There were three elements to the scene: the Environment of the sword scene itself, the shadow hounds pursuing them, and the corrupted husk of Sir Arton. The code letters were a way for Christopher to have Adam make checks against those three things prior to the other heroes encountering them so as to not spoil what was going on.
- [It’s Trevor’s and Anthony Badell’s birthday - so that’s the requisite 2 for singing, which happens at 48:43 with everybody in the office.]
- When are you guys making more RPG livestream series? Are they going to go up on YouTube (can’t use Twitch to check there)? They have not been making them since Paul’s game. They’re gearing up to do another, but they’re changing things up. They’re not going to do the Twitch thing again as the live viewership numbers just don’t make sense to continue to do that way (considering the “during business hours” thing they had to do). So, they’ll be doing more, but offline and then uploading to YouTube. They hope to have a bit higher production quality and can include some editing (so, allowing for bathroom breaks and stuff), but it’s still live-play (no “redoing a take” or anything). The first set of these will be Adam running a more serious street-level game (Christopher’s game being at the Cosmic level and Paul’s was a global-scale comedy).
- Will you go through the full canonical story of the RPG materials in the podcast? They did that for the Starter Kit last episode, and that matches the plan going forward - after a thing has been out for a while and people have had enough time to experience it, they’ll do a spoiler episode where they go through how they envisioned it going and probably include listener versions.
- Will there be GM prep sessions for those new RPG games? Yes. Again, it won’t be streamed live, but they will plan on continuing that.
- Will Adam be putting a limit on the Power Sources available in the game given his desired tone? Not explicitly banning them, but the conversations on character concepts might need to rein people in to achieve what he’s going for.
- How different can characters with the same Power and Archetype be from one another? Very. You can make two characters with the same Background, Power Source, Archetype, and Personality and still wind up with very different characters as each of those comes with a variety of choices within them. Even if you picked all of those the same you might wind up mechanically similar, but that doesn’t mean they’d be played the same.
- Can you release the stuff for the Pepper Genie? Yeah, they can probably put that out at some point.
- Can you clarify Myriad’s summon power as related to minion die size? [The text of Release the Swarm is “Use Insect Control to create Max die minions of Min die size.”] This means that he creates a number of minions equal to the Max die value and those minions’ die size is the same as the die that the Min result was on. [So, if he rolled Insect Control (d10), Swarm Master (d8), and already had 6 Minions in play (so he rolls a d6 for Status) and those dice come up 4, 8, and 2 respectively then he creates 8 Minions (the Max result is the 8) and each of them starts as a d6 (since that die is what rolled the Min value). If he’d rolled 2, 8, and 4 instead, then he’d get a whopping 8 d10 Minions.] They’ll be revising the wording for his entry in the main book given how unclear this wound up being in the Urban Infestation adventure.
- [Hey, it’s my letter - and somebody else with similar question] If Guise’s fourth-wall-breaking was tied to his connection to the Multiverse, and Universe 1 was then cut off from the Multiverse, how is it that he’s still interfering in the RPG Kickstarter (or messing with the user interface in the Sentinels of Freedom game)? There are two aspects to Guise’s fourth wall shenanigans. The first one is that he’s not actually able to break the fourth wall - he’s just crazy and thinks he’s in a comic. He happens to be right, but it’s not a trait within the setting of the comics that he is actually able to perceive the meta-verse/our reality and interact with it. So, this isn’t a “power” for him to gain or lose with regards to the Multiverse being present or not [therefore I call shenanigans on the statement in episode 84 about the sealing off of Universe 1 being why he couldn’t have an audio clip in that episode, but good to have things cleared up otherwise]. The second aspect to keep in mind is Guise’s prominent use in the marketing of various Sentinel Comics products. In the meta-verse they use the fact that the fourth wall breaking gimmick is a fun aspect of the character and play it up a lot. That’s why he does stuff like, say, logging into somebody’s Kickstarter account to talk himself up. So, functionally he breaks the fourth wall, but if we’re getting really pedantic about the nitty-gritty of how his power works [which, as the types of people who’ll spend hundreds of hours talking about a fictional comic book company’s line of comic books, of course we will] he doesn’t actually have that ability. In the RPG, his personality is toned down a bit and it’s a bit more clear that he’s not actually breaking the fourth wall, but we’ll see that when his book comes out.
- So, Guise is a reality warper who thinks he’s in a comic book and uses the reality warping power to enable that delusion? Yes, but the important bit to remember about his reality warping is that he’s mostly using it to warp himself (including warping his own world-view) not other things/people. He can affect stuff around him somewhat due to the powers he’s inherited from Wager Master and Scholar, but it’s mostly self-directed. Think “cartoon powers” like Bugs Bunny.
- [Letter from Cooltopia, so it can only be about one thing:] In the Baptism by Fire episode we have an issue ending with Ra and Fanatic kissing (and maybe more off panel) - was this the first such moment for them? Is there art available that we can swoon over? Yes, this was the first romantic contact between the two of them. No there is no art available now, but who’s to say whether Adam will get to it eventually. Never say never. Maybe for a future Valentine’s Day.
- Was Fanatic just lug Absolution around in her hand all the time (she doesn’t have an obvious scabbard that would hold the thing)? Can she dismiss/summon it somehow? What about Apostate and Condemnation? She can make it disappear and then summon it. Other times we’ll see both she and Apostate drive their swords into the ground as a place to put them temporarily.
- For the Escalators and Visitors character sheets [the characters from the two RPG games they’ve streamed so far - the sheets were unlocked as free PDFs for the Kickstarter], are they going to be the “original” sheets (Starblight goes through a big change at the end of Christopher’s game and Mishap wanted to do a rebuild)? They’ll either give us the new version or both. Starblight is the result of a story event, but Mishap’s rebuild was just because, with hindsight, Chris realized that the new way is the “correct” way to have built her.
- How do you say xxtz'Hulissh? /zɪt͡s'hulɪʃ/ [At least that’s what I hear - for those not familiar with the international phonetic alphabet - it’s like “zits hoo lish” all scrunched together with stress on the second syllable]. They say it a bunch starting around 1:12:44 if you want to listen.
- [The “inspirational music” that they were humming in the stinger is the theme from Chariots of Fire.]