The Letters Page: Editor's Note 31
We take your questions. We give you answers. You know the deal. Or do you?
Run Time: 1:11:01
At the start of the show, we talk a bit of shop about possibilities for new formats of episodes. At the time of recording, the votes weren't in yet for next month's episodes, but there are now! So:
- Tuesday, July 2nd: Episode #115 - Wraith’s Rogue Gallery
- Tuesday, July 9th: Episode #116 - Creative Process: Shear Force
- Tuesday, July 16th: Editor’s Note #32
- Tuesday, July 23th: Episode #117 - First Ever Writer's Room!
- Tuesday, July 30th: A week off due to Gen Con!
Then, at around the 12 minute mark, we get to your questions! We cover such exciting topics as:
- Time Traveling Characters
- Members of the Prime Wardens
- Baron Blade's Theoretical Dilemma
- And much much more!
Thanks as always to Trevor, our Patreon supporters, Sentinels fans everywhere, and listeners like YOU!
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Wager Master
- La Comodora
- Omnitron IV
- Shear Force
- Argent Adept
- The Freedom Five
- Dr. Medico
- Miss Information
- Madam Mittermeier
- Dark Visionary
- Atum & The Ennead
- Citizen Hammer
- Citizen Summer
- Baron Blade
- Since the voting topics for July had only just gone up, they talk about what the options were for a while (the show notes have the winning topics). One thing they mentioned that they weren’t sure of was whether they’d actually said on-air which Day in the Life comics existed. They did, back in the Multiverse Recap. From August ’85 through June ’87 they ran every-other month and covered Legacy, Wraith, Bunker, Tachyon, Absolute Zero, Haka, Ra, NightMist, Tempest, Argent Adept, Fanatic, and Expatriette and then we were told of stand-alone issues for Unity in January ’91 and Captain Cosmic in July ’13.
- There will be no Podcast episode on July 30 or August 6 due to Gen Con. There will be the standard Live recording done at Gen Con - here’s the event entry if you’ll be there and are interested in attending.
- They hope the RPG Core Book PDF will be available by the end of August, but it’s still not definite.
- In discussing the Shear Force episode that’s in the running, they mention that while there are Shear Force comics that are produced by Sentinel Comics, they aren’t part of the continuity. Shear Force is mainly a toy line. The episode will be similar to a Create a Thing Live episodes, but not done live - just showing the actual process of them hashing out what this thing is.
- The “Writer’s Room” episode has the background that a lot of suggested topics are for really granular storytelling ideas. An idea Adam had was to lean into the idea of this podcast representing the letters page of actual comics and to have them do these “Writer’s Room” episodes where they pick a specific “back issue” of a comic and storyboard it out. So we can get the beat-by-beat description of a comic like they’ve kind of done a few times in the past, have the questions section be much more of a grab bag of things the “readers” have been asking about lately (more like an actual letters page than the topic-focus that most main episodes have), and a cover for the issue that Adam would draw for the show notes. If people like the format, they could see themselves adding them to the standard rotation - maybe one a month, one Editors Note a month, and then 2 or 3 “regular” episodes. Or just doing these if they’re really popular. Time and listener reactions will tell on that. This would also be a means of making the podcast more sustainable as an ongoing thing as it would provide, essentially, unlimited content for them to work through. Picking specific issues (say, because there’s flavortext from it or because we’ve been told something about it in the past) or just saying something like “we want an issue where the Hippo is a big deal” works fine too, they’d just pick an appropriate issue themselves in the latter case.
- Given the loaf-of-bread analogy used to describe what Voss did to Universe 1 [see Editors Note 23], what happens now when timeline split-points happen in Universe 1? Is each new timeline in a separate locked-off universe on its own (and if so, does Wager Master continue to get copied between them or does he stay in just one and none of the others have a version of him) or are all of these new “slices of bread” just stuck in the same sandwich baggie as a kind of mini-Multiverse of its own? If the latter, can Wager Master or others jump between realities within this baggie and/or will the strain eventually cause the baggie to rupture, merging things with the greater Multiverse? Adam’s initial thought is that whatever Voss does prevents further timeline splits off of Universe 1, but they recognize that it’s a tricky metaphysical subject that people in the real world struggle to understand [see: the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics]. The idea that everybody’s home game of the Sentinel Comics RPG is in a different reality is somewhat harder to maintain than it was for SotM as there is an ongoing continuity of the adventures they plan on publishing. Of course, they end with their standard playing down of the idea that anyone could possibly undo what Voss did in some way that implies that of course it will happen eventually.
- Given that La Comodora’s deck most has her helping others attack or using her ship, what kinds of things prompt her to get involved personally (with flintlock and cutlass)? It depends on the severity of the fight and, mostly, on what the correct action for her to take would be. Is this specific situation one where it’d be better to shoot a cannon at the thing or just walk up and stab it? It’s not a last resort, but it’s also not a first resort. She’s very pragmatic.
- Who’s the robot she’s talking to on “Flintlock and Cutlass”? How did it get onto her ship? Is it Sanction? That issue is only a couple of months after the end of the Omnitron IV event which itself is shortly before the OblivAeon event kicks off. During this period, observant readers know that something major is about to go down and La Comodora is showing up in all sorts of books here and there, often in background detail separate from the main action of the issue. That’s the case here in the last pages of FF #785 where she’s at the Omnitron site talking to it for some reason.
- Does La Comodora take items from Las Parajojas Magnificas after thwarting her alternate selves to augment her own ship? Where there still alternate versions of herself in the pods being towed behind her ship when she rammed OblivAeon? Yes, she does plunder other ships - more stuff means more places she can get to easily with her ship, so why wouldn’t she. She hadn’t finished up with all of the alternate versions of herself by OblivAeon, so yeah, there’s still some that were being towed at the time and some may have wound up in a similar situation to herself afterwards. There are a lot of multiversal problems created and… not “solved” but put on hold or something by this happening. Surely nothing will ever come of this later.
- Did La Comodora and Chrono-Ranger ever run into alternate versions of themselves on a similar mission? Did they team up? If not, what makes this La Comodora unique? She’s not necessarily the only one doing this, but the only alt-versions she runs into are the ones she’s going after, which are the ones who are causing trouble. That makes it unlikely that she’d run across others who aren’t causing trouble. Now, they could possibly be trying to solve the same problem at the same time, but that’s also unlikely. Adam is also initially of the opinion that there are a finite number of time-traveling Maria Helenas out there, but Christopher brings up the whole “infinite branching timelines” thing again, which makes Adam’s head hurt. At the very least, there isn’t another LC/CR pair that appears in the comics as the story isn’t about them.
- So, if she’s going after other versions of her with their own versions of the ship, do we get some sweet ship-to-ship combat on the high temporal seas? Does she have a time-ship equivalent to the Picard Maneuver? There is this kind of time-ship violence, but they’re more often non-linear chase scenes than head-to-head battles.
- Could La Capitan and crew show up making raids on a post-OblivAeon event? Such an incursion in Universe 1 would be impossible due to what Voss did (up until it gets undone). That’s an editorial mandate: for [x period of time], nothing comes in from the Multiverse. They want to give it time to settle down and establish the status quo as its own thing without the rest of the Multiverse’s nonsense for a while.
- Can Myriad be summoned (or baited in the same way that roach- fly- or ant-traps work - say by dangling Headlong out in the open somewhere)? Being a bug demon there’s probably some kind of ritual exists to summon him. He’d probably be surprised by it. [There’s a fun bit here as well about Adam’s kid possibly being a necromancer or something that starts at around 31:44.]
- Could you solve your household bug infestation by finding Myriad nearby and continuously blasting his body so that he needs to draw forth the local bugs to replenish them? Not really - the bugs he’s made of are mainly the demon bugs that he can summon infinitely. While he may incorporate nearby bugs into himself, it’s not like he needs to do so.
- Could you use this in a Hedgelord/Shear Force story - they need to clear out an infestation at a farm, so they just summon Myriad and start blasting him? Fun idea, but not likely to work as stated. Hedgelord may try this, but a better way to use him would be to summon and trap him and then use this imprisonment to leverage to get him to use his powers to make the bugs go elsewhere. That’s not really a sustainable method of insect control, though. Somebody with his powers acting altruistically could be an interesting development, though.
- In Editors Note #29 you described the range of Myriad’s power as being on a curve, is there some point that beyond which he could not exert control or with training and effort would it be limitless? The way they think about the lore of the character it is that there is a range limit, but that if there was a situation where through the Myriad power set you absolutely needed to be able to control a bug on, say, Dok’Thorath there is a hypothetical means that you could probably get around it (say, by connecting from here to the demon bug dimension and from there to the destination, and that overall distance is short enough or if somebody else opens some kind of space-time portal like is used to get to Wagner Mars Base).
- Does he have control over sapient bugs, say the Animal-verse’s time-traveling La Cucaracha? They think it’s limited to things that lack a will - he’s imposing his own willpower on things that don’t generally have any of their own and the extent to which a being has a will scales to how easy it is for them to resist him (a “person” level bug could do so pretty trivially).
- If he were presented with a person who had been injected with something to incorporate demon bug DNA into their own genome, could he control them? He could try to exert control over this somewhat buggy person (and the only reason to have written a story with such a contrived situation as this is to have it work). They didn’t say above that he couldn’t exert control, but that there is a capacity to resist, so a story could involve it working for a while and the person does bad stuff, but eventually breaks free etc.
- Could someone else access the Demon Bug dimension and gain powers to use for good? Yeah, same as people accessing the Realm of Discord for power. As with most magic things it would come with a downside.
- Do you find it difficult to create stories that are intentionally bad [prompted by the stuff in the Death of Anthony Drake episode]? Yes. You have be very intentional about the mistakes you’re making and about denying your good ideas that try to creep in. It’s not a lot of fun.
- What you said about Maqam actually sounded intriguing and could prompt a number of interesting story ideas [insert list here] - exactly how was she “bad” as a character? The problem with all of those characters isn’t the concept, but the execution. They were 2-dimensional non-characters without any of the interesting things that you came up with ever making it to the page. The “diversity” was all surface level with nothing behind it.
- Has anyone tried to reintroduce Beat, Samba, Pluck, and Maqam back into the comics/the animated universe to do a better job with them? No. They’re actually pretty recent failures  and haven’t been revisited yet. The time when something like this happened and worked was the reintroduction of the Ennead which had a longer incubation period [first appearance in ’80 with the good version in ’96].
- Could somebody reintroduce them in the RPG? Could they cobble together something out of what they’d learned to make some kind of “music magic” that isn’t reliant on the Void (after losing Scholar and NightMist the world is lacking in the magical-defenders department)? Sure, that sort of thing could happen. Argent Adept would agree on the lack of magical defenders thing, but due to what he knows about their situation in particular he’s not likely to come to the four of them, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t show up again in the future. Maybe not even doing magic/music stuff.
- Argent Adept broke Xu’s bell way back in the big Voss invasion in the ’80s, but we didn’t learn the full ramifications of that until OblivAeon - were there hints prior to that reveal? The link between a Virtuoso and their instrument had been established long ago, but this specific consequence of destroying one hadn’t been. In retrospect you could go back and find building blocks that could lead to what was later revealed, but it was an unknown prior to that and wasn’t intentionally hinted at [i.e. Xu’s fate doesn’t contradict what was known and makes sense in that context, but it’s not something that could have logically been worked out ahead of time.]
- Was Taranerach a long-standing minor threat that got upgraded to a major threat like Akash'Bhuta at some point or was it created specifically to be used in the Death of Anthony Drake story? Taranerach was a major solo threat for AA (and strictly speaking would be powerful enough to have been a threat to a team - he’s more of a threat than Spite is, for example). However, nobody can really fight him except the Virtuosos. Maybe you could put together a team of magic users for the purpose, but it’s not like the Freedom Five are going to fight him at some point. As such, Taranaerach is an Anthony Drake villain and by becoming Bal'Taranerach he becomes a major Anthony Drake villain.
- Can you tell us anything about Bal'Taranerach now (design, powers, etc.) or is it something we’ll have to wait for? No, sorry. It’s not going to be in the Diamond Book of Monsters supplement either, but later.
- How close am I to spelling it right [Chaos Clockwork spelled it Baal-tyranerac]? Close but incorrect - it’s Bal'Taranerach [my own first effort was Bal’Tarranarak].
- Given Episode 111’s discussion on how Fanatic’s power is limited by what she sincerely believes, could she be hypnotized? Would that remove whatever limitations she has? While she could possibly be hypnotized, the issue we run into is that while in that state it’s not her true will being expressed and so it probably couldn’t cause her powers to affect the world. There’s also the standard bit about hypnotism not being able to get you to do something that goes against your firmly held beliefs, so attempts to hypnotize her are not likely to go well.
- Not a question, but a note on the stuff about diabetes and Dr. Medico: 90-95% of diabetes diagnoses are for type II diabetes, so for the vast majority of cases, there’s something that Dr. Medico could do. Nothing like coming back at a “Well, actually…” with another “Well, actually…”, so thanks.
- Given that Insula Primalis is heated by volcanic activity, it should have a relatively stable temperature day and night, which could remove an evolutionary pressure on the dinosaurs/pterosaurs there to have feathers (and also explain the large size of the pterosaurs by having plenty of thermal air currents to help keep them aloft). Also, in Jurassic Park the Tyrannosaurus had its DNA spliced with frog DNA and that’s where the “can’t see you if you don’t move” bit comes in. [Adam is right in his recollection here that the theory on T. Rex vision was independent of that detail, at least in the film. Alan Grant makes reference to T. Rex vision while on the dig site in Montana at the beginning as he goes into his spiel about Velociraptor hunting behavior. The discrepancy in behavior in the first story (Grant and the kids hiding by not moving) is covered in the second book by explaining that the T. Rex wasn’t hungry at the time since she had just eaten a goat. A villain trying the not-moving trick winds up getting eaten. I don’t remember off-hand at which point in the first book the vision thing first gets mentioned (that is, whether it was something that Dr. Grant “knew” already or if it was an oddity mentioned by the JP staff who could have observed it) - I might check that later when I have access to my book.]
- Addendum on T. Rex vision: we know that they have good vision based on the shape of their brain case which implies that they had a well-developed vision center.
- They get into a bit of a discussion on hypnosis vs. brainwashing and being able to get somebody to commit murder - the latter has a better shot, but takes considerably longer. They posit that Glamour, Miss Information, and Madame Mittermeier have a pretty good shot at succeeding. As does Dark Visionary, but how she’d do it kind of goes beyond hypnosis or brainwashing.
- Comedy question starting at 59:29: new product idea for dogs, the Taranerach Ball - your ardent arf-pet will never stop searching for it. Do you think that hiding it among some jelly jars would successfully prevent my dog from finding it indefinitely until I retrieve it [i.e. will Bal'Taranerach remain hidden in the Void until a time of its choosing or does AA have a chance at discovering it beforehand]? Your ardent arf-pet would have great difficulty finding the Taranerach Ball in the jelly jars.
- There are a lot of fire-themed characters (Ra, Atum, Citizen Hammer, Citizen Summer, Char, Firestarter, and Arsonator) - are there any minor ones that you haven’t told us about? Why are you so fond of this power set? Should we be worried about the two of you? You forgot Thermos! Adam actually thinks that it’s a fairly boring power set. The reason that Citizen Hammer has it is because he’s based on an earlier character. It’s flashy and easy to show how they’re a threat on the page. With minor characters you want something that will establish immediately what their deal is. Fire also has a benefit of being something that people have a primal reaction to.
- What would happen if somebody worshiped Bal'Taranerach? It probably wouldn’t notice and certainly wouldn’t give them any kind of power. It wouldn’t care.
- In the recent RPG Kickstarter update for the RPG there was a reference to Zhu Long’s new temple - what happened to the old one? Christopher is so glad that somebody picked up on this (apparently he threw in a few hints at things). He just needed new digs and isn’t using the old one [this is said in a flippant manner, not sure how serious this answer of “just not using it” is].
- Let’s say that Baron Blade is in a version of the Trolley Problem involving some kind of super-train designed by Tachyon or something - if he does nothing it will squash 5 copies of Legacy, but he could throw a switch to divert it onto a track that will squash a single Legacy. What will he do? He was unwilling to let some other villain kill Legacy, so it’s pretty clear that he would throw the switch. Legacy will only die by his hands! Baron Blade is also very clever and would probably also then throw the switch again so that the 5 Legacy’s die, but through his action. Then he’d probably go over to the one still stuck on the side track and gloat a bit before killing him in some other way.
- What would Blade do if another villain killed Legacy? Probably kill them. Then try to bring Legacy back under his control somehow.