The Letters Page: Editor's Note 32
Run Time: 1:26:37
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, August 6th: No Episode (Because Gen Con!)
- Tuesday, August 13th: Gen Con Live 2019!
- Tuesday, August 20th: Editor’s Note #33
- Tuesday, August 27th: Episode #118 - All About SCRPG
Around the 7 minute mark, we start in on your questions on so many topics, such as:
- Multiple OblivAeon-related questions!
- Void Guard
- Sentinels of the Multiverse
- And that's not all!
Thanks to all of you listeners, to our Patreon supporters, and to our families, who never believed we could make any of this a thing but we did it anyway. Hah!
- Void Guard
- Prime Wardens
- Jansa vi Dero
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Wager Master
- Dr. Medico
- Caleb Greene
- Argent Adept
- Mr. Fixer
- Zhu Long
- Rose Griggs
- Citizen Dawn
- Absolute Zero
- Henry Goodman
- Ignazio Gallo
- [Birthday notifications had already come in via Discord to start things off: "One Week" by The Barenaked Ladies and "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers. Singing commences at 5:46.]
- Not a question, but an anecdote: house party with a game of OblivAeon that included people who had never played Sentinels before. It’s quite a story. Give it a listen.
- In Editors Note 31 there was some disagreement on whether Universe 1 could continue to experience timeline splitting and whether it is inevitable given small changes that happen all of the time (choosing to move an arm one way or the other, or more in keeping with actual Many Worlds Hypothesis physics dealing with quantum-scale particles), but this shouldn’t be possible given the rules for how OblivAeon’s whole plan works - in Sentinel Comics, if realities are too similar to one another they implode one another and stuff this minor would be happening all the time. Presumably the same “binding” force that draws too-similar timelines together also acts on each individual timeline to prevent minor changes from splitting them in the first place, right? That’s a great explanation. One of the great parts about this stuff (and similarly about magic) is that there can only ever be theories. Even using the term in a scientific sense of having well-supported reasoning to believe that our explanation is valid still leaves room for our understanding to be updated when new information is available, and in some cases rely on things that are actually unobservable. Adam (of course) comes up with yet another food analogy about universes being like Jello (able to stretch and deform without actually splitting). Christopher makes an analogy with driving - you’re in your lane and you constantly make small adjustments within that lane without changing lanes.
- How does the exposition about Scions/OblivAeon get delivered (Void Guard, Prime Wardens, and “Headhunter”-era K.N.Y.F.E. probably have enough opportunities to lean something, but probably not all of it)? Do the heroes ever learn about the Oblivion/Archeon war, what happened to Faultless, or the origins of Voidsoul? Does Jansa tell people or was it found in some writing left on some dead planet somewhere? There’s a combination of how we learn about it. Most characters don’t know most of it - readers get more of it (in narration/cold opens for issues that tell some of it, etc.), but that doesn’t always get transmitted to the heroes. The OblivAeon event ends with the heroes still having a lot of questions.
- We see from Void Guard and Infinitor that being powered by an OblivAeon Shard is bad news - what’s going on with Proletariat during OblivAeon? Him not being in contact with the Shard is important. His power set also helps in that any whispers in his mind can get filed away as “hey, I’ve got my consciousness split across multiple bodies all the time - weird stuff is going to happen” and he ignores them. He’s used to tuning out voices.
- What makes OblivAeon Shards a bad thing (after he’s destroyed)? How worried should we be about Akash'Flora full of his power? OblivAeon is a corrupting force in general and are can cause instability in reality itself (they tug at the fabric of reality, and tugging on fabric can cause it to tear). After OblivAeon, it’s important to not get a bunch of Shards in one place (because of reasons, don’t worry about it). The power in the tree is diluted and purified in some way - it’s transferred from OblivAeon to Voss to the Tree and its whole purpose was to help neutralize OblivAeon. It’s using that power to just be the best tree it can be. Akash'Flora is a huge power source in the middle of Megalopolis and is made of a combination of Cosmic/Natural/Void magic, but the simple fact of the tree’s existence isn’t a problem in the way you might think given the connection to OblivAeon, only in the sense that having a big fusion reactor near a city might be a problem.
- After OblivAeon are there still realities splitting/ending/imploding out in the greater Multiverse? Is it possible to merge realities together (without imploding them) and, if so, would beings existing in both merge as well or would they double up? No you can’t merge them for the implosion reasons. Yes, creation/destruction still happens (the destruction being a big part of Prime War - bad things are happening due to the absence of certain forces).
- We know from the Vertex timeline that the balance of power among Singular Entities has shifted, is this new balance of power with the loss of Oblivaeon also visible in other timeline? Is another entity of chaos and order created from the ashes of OblivAeon in any other timelines, or do all timelines other than the main one get the same structure as the Vertex line with the Prime Aspects? Only one version of Singular Entities (with Wager Master as an exception for the reasons discussed previously - although they’re both the “same” Wager Master which certainly won’t ever cause any problems in the future), throughout all realities. There are no Singular Entities in Universe 1 besides its copy of Wager Master (but what does being a Singular Entity even mean if there’s only one universe to play around in?). Not all Prime Aspects are Singular Entities and not all Singular Entities are Prime Aspects. As for whether there’s some new entity of chaos and order or whatever - it wouldn’t happen immediately and if one does arise it would not be “from the ashes” of OblivAeon, but unrelated to it. There’s also the weirdness that’s allowing non-Singular beings to take up roles like that (see: Prime Aspects like Jansa).
- Visionary’s been around for quite a while after her time-travel/reality-hop to get here, so why hasn’t her brain injury healed on its own? Could Dr. Medico have fixed it? Why didn’t he notice (can he see/sense the injury or injuries in general)? He can sense things like that and could probably have helped, but she’s so psychically shielded that she’s largely a blank to him (dentistry x-ray vs. a crown as an example of what she looks like to him). [They also say that “She’s made this psychic form for herself that holds herself together” which is an odd way to put it - it makes it sound like her whole body is a psychic construct in some way if this wasn’t a misstatement.] It doesn’t heal on its own because her using her powers continues to reopen the wound.
- Could Medico drain a corpse of blood and slip his form into the blood vessels to wear the body like a suit? Would it take his whole form or could he do so with, say, one arm to operate it like a puppet? Draining blood, yes (as most people could, although maybe not as well as a doctor). You don’t move your body around via the vascular system, though, but since these run through the muscles and whatnot too sure, his power set could potentially do that. However, and this is a major point, he doesn’t change form (for whatever reason he sticks with a humanoid shape - we only see him non-humanoid when he’s been injured and needs to regenerate) and Dr. Medico himself couldn’t do this.
- When Mainstay throws Sweet Rhoda and she explodes, does this vehicle cease to exist or does she get rebuilt? It was something that happened in one story as a big sacrifice moment. He gets new bikes, but they’re not Sweet Rhonda.
- We see on Drop the Hammer that Mainstay has battled against Hermetic - I was expecting this to be part of the OblivAeon fight, but the flavor-text is attributed to Tome of the Bizarre #78; is this OblivAeon crossing over into TotB or is this an earlier event? It was during OblivAeon TotB vol. 4 #78 was from May 2016.
- Given her tendency towards fighting robots in her creations, can we assume that Caleb introduced Idealist to such gems as Gundam, Evangelion, and perhaps Gurren Lagann? Well, the last one there is pretty recent [it first ran in 2007 while the first Gumdam series was in ’79 and Evangelion was ’95], but yeah lots of classic stuff like that.
- [Long linguistic aside starting at around 29:45 discussing how Adam pronounces it /anime/ while Christopher pronounces it /ænime/ (the initial vowels being like in “awful” and “apple” respectively) - since the word in Japanese is a loan-word from English (it’s just a shortened version of the English “animation”), Christopher’s is better.] Adam respectfully disagrees with this because, while it’s a loanword, those still get changed to conform to the phonology of the language being spoken. In Japan, they say it the way he says it. [Similar to how we English speakers don’t say “uber” the way that a German says “über” or the name “Lloyd” the way the Welsh do - the German and Welsh sounds simply don’t occur in English.]
- [Getting into the magical section we get a long letter running from 32:50 through 34:47 - it’s worth a listen but the main deal is that they’re trying to describe why magic is hard to define and pin down by getting into how things in Sentinel Comics have both a physical manifestation and metaphysical correspondences - “fire” is both a chemical reaction, but also has ties to passions, summer, etc. unrelated to the physical reaction as an example.] Yeah, they’ve talked before about how things that happen to somebody can effect how they think/feel about them and how that might manifest as powers. They also agree that Sentinel Comics definitely has metaphysical elements to it that can’t readily be defined by those within the setting (getting back to the theoretical frameworks that only go so far that were discussed near the beginning of the episode) - it’s safe to say that everything has physical and metaphysical elements to them. You can measure the effects of dealing with the metaphysical, but it’s hard to precisely determine what the exact cause was.
- I was under the impression that it was specifically a bad idea to mix Void Magic with other magics, but mixing those other kinds with each other was ok, but the Magic episode said that it was bad to mix anything - which is it? It is dangerous to mix any magics (they don’t want to pass value judgements by calling it “bad”). Granted, all magic is dangerous, but because the methods used to perform any two varieties of magic are so distinct from one another, the act of successfully pulling off two or more of them at the same time is that much more so. If you had a vantage point from outside the universe where you could see the entirety of, say, Void Magic and Blood Magic and how they worked you could see how to piece together the moving parts of both of them, but nobody has that perspective (not even Singular Entities). Even if you were knowledgeable enough to be a practitioner of multiple types of magic, it’s going to be difficult to combine them without negative consequences. That being said, the negative consequences don’t necessarily have to affect the practitioner - perhaps they set up some specific target to be a lightning rod for whatever badness is going to happen. That certainly doesn’t sound like it’s a bad thing that only a horrible person would do, right? The danger can be to the person performing it, somebody else, the environment, the fabric of reality itself. You know, the standard stuff.
- Why that specific spelling for “Bal'Taranerach” with the apostrophe? Is it significant that the other being with an apostrophe, Akash'Bhuta (and later incarnations), is also an Argent Adept enemy involved with the Void? Well, first off there are also apostrophes used in Thorathian and Maerynian words/names. All of these spellings are standing in as an Anglicization of words in alien languages that we don’t have the physiology to pronounce properly and are just doing the best we can. As for why an apostrophe rather than a space or dash is that they want to include the idea that there are two elements to the names (i.e. it’s not one word so there’s something to mark the connection), but they’re not separated enough to be two words (with a space or joined with a dash) - it’s a closer connection and is just a slight hitch in your speech when you say them.
- We learned in various places that Akash'Bhuta became what she is by consuming the other Void spirits, that Voidsoul became what it is by consuming its fellow Void parasites, that Taranerach became Bal'Taranerach by consuming other Void entities, and that Vogel hunted down and consumed power from other Virtuosos - is it significant that all of these Void-powered baddies all “consumed” their colleagues in this way? Is that part of the nature of the Void, a thematic choice for AA’s enemies, or a coincidence? You’re onto something. Things that run on Void power tend to be covetous of more Void power (especially those that have contact with the “real” world). However, we’re also hearing about the weird exceptions - the uncountable Void creatures aren’t constantly consuming one another, we just hear about the exceptional cases because they’re exceptional and that’s what makes for an interesting story.
- You drew a distinction between Void Magic and the Ancient Magic of the Atlanteans (presumably connected to the dragon-like and octopus-headed creatures depicted on the wall of the Throne Room? You’ve said that Cthulhu isn’t a source of Atlantean magic, or is it? No, Cthulhu isn’t a source of Atlantean magic and the beings depicted in the throne room are also not sources of Atlantean power [note: Christopher did put emphasis on “sources” there]. Their power is that Ancient Magic and while there are some “descendants” (which is not the right word for it, but we’ll roll with it) of that power that can kind of access it, but it is not really available anymore. It’s more primal than the “modern” magics and they know what it feels like, but they can’t really explain it. Think about the kinds of sorcerers you got in, say, Conan the Barbarian comics/stories as a template for the kinds of stuff going on - the guy who became GloomWeaver would have been such a practitioner. It’s just from a practically pre-human era. Adam jokes that “the skeletons are part of it”, but while laughing about the reference they also say that “it’s true”, so take that for what it is.
- NightMist has that Cthulhu-flavor (given her character origins), but what category of magic is she actually using (Discordian, Void, Ancient)? Does her trip through the Void change that? Discordian for the most part (represented in the random numbers that determine spell effect in her deck - this is also a function of her being cursed, though). Even after her sojourn into the Void that makes her something of a Void being, she’s still generally using Discordian magic but is now performing it as a being that’s “from the Void” which has some effects. [I point out that her Dark Watch variant card allows her much more control over the random numbers element of her deck.] Again, nobody does Ancient Magic anymore (although Christopher admits that he keeps saying that with a weird intonation because it’s not entirely accurate, but they can’t go into why at this time - the point is that it’s a lost art like Roman Concrete, Viking Ulfbehrt swords, Damascus Steel, or Greek Fire).
- What kind of magic does Harpy/Pinion wield? Her bird stuff seems like Nature, but the stuff she’s doing with NightMist looks more Void-ish, is she recklessly mixing stuff? The mask uses Natural (not Nature) Magic, but the stuff she’s learning from NightMist is mostly the Discordian kind that NM herself uses. She’s also learned to use some Void Magic. She is (generally) very careful to not mix them as NightMist hammered that into her. That being said, it’s a handy dramatic beat to have her mix stuff when in dire situations (which is when we see her “magic running out of control” stuff). That being said, NightMist is able to teach her stuff that she, NightMist, cannot perform herself (due to their varying power sources). She’s got all sorts of books that describe how to do things and she understands the mechanics well enough to teach, she just lacks the ability to actually do them. The post-OblivAeon era sees Pinion having to work stuff out on her own, though.
- Since the Egyptian relics are from a realm that no longer exists, will they eventually run out of power? They’re not batteries. They are still connected to that realm and draw power from it. The realm still exists, just as an unending inferno of chaos and destruction now - Anubis is using that realm as an underworld, after all. It’s probably a safe bet to assume that the magic being done with the relics is very different from what they were originally used for. [The skeletons are still part of it, but the Egyptian stuff is unrelated to the Ancient Magic stuff.]
- If Anubis sends his judged souls to the remnants of his home realm, where did Anput send her judged souls [[[Podcasts/Episode 54|Episode 54]] mentions that she sends “good” souls “elsewhere”]? This prompts a short aside about the “underworld” of Anubis - it’s kind of like a “hell” in that it’s a terrible nightmare hellscape of destruction, but it’s not like you’re being tortured or have something like a physical body even. As for Anput, there isn’t a separate “good place” analogous to Anubis’ underworld - she just puts them to rest. [A follow-up a little later in the Discord mentions that this is similar to the state that Mr. Fixer was in before Zhu Long brought him back. They feel really bad about what they put Fixer through, although they feel better now that things have worked out.] They weren’t responsible for this happening to everybody who dies everywhere - you have to be in “range” or “in their domain” for them to judge you. If you deserve rest, Anput gives you that. “If you deserve torment: torment town.”
- Zhu Long has been around a long time and has probably heard of Atlantis and the power to be had there - did he ever attempt to acquire Atlantean relics? Do they pre-date him? They do pre-date him. He is aware of the power in the Ruins of Atlantis and knows enough to not go taking stuff from it. He has more reasons than any other living person to want those relics to stay right where they are. He certainly knows more about Atlantean magic than anybody alive (not that he can do it).
- What was Rose Griggs’ whole deal and what does it mean to be a Chaos Witch? Is she a character that has a connection to the Realm of Discord - is her magic chaotic in nature or in result? Is she connected with Chaos as a concept or is she one of those characters who’s more into general destruction than chaos? She’s definitely more about chaos than destruction. She’s a Chaos Witch because the thing she’s going is to create/instill chaos via magic - she’s an exceptionally accomplished magic user who knows what she’s doing and is intentionally doing things the wrong way. Like, she’ll take some Nature Magic and some Blood Magic and will throw them together in such a way that she knows will have a horrible negative effect. Frequently destruction is a part of that, but it’s not the goal. She’s lived for a long time (she’s not Atlantean - “There are no Atlanteans left”) by causing this chaos and then siphoning energy off of this effect to bolster her own life energy. That’s her whole motivation - she creates chaos so that she can, basically, live forever.
- Is there an ambient Host energy that can be tapped without interacting directly with a Host spirit? Yeah, probably (likely having to do with the connection of spirits to bodies or something). It’s just that it’s so much easier to tap into one of the members of the Host that are in the normal plane of existence already - certainly all of the Host-derived powers we’ve seen so far have been due to members of the Host.
- When visualizing magic in the art does the style change for different types or for different levels of mastery of the practitioner? Is that why Harpy and NightMist’s effects look different? Are NightMist’s relics mostly Void magic in nature? Her relics were not made by her and they all pre-date her having access to Void power. She has relics from all sorts of backgrounds that she’s collected (many just so that evil people don’t have them rather than to use herself). Art style doesn’t have hard-coded visual language that Adam uses. He uses geometric symbols for spell-casting, but not for what Argent Adept does, which gets into whether what he’s doing are really “spells” in the first place - ritual-type things have very rigid shapes associated with them while AA’s music is hardly “rigid” in that way. That’s about the extent of a “code” for the art style - the more rigid the magic the more geometrical/structured the art representing it (compare how regimented “Applied Numerology” is vs. Lifeline’s more wavy symbols).
- We now know that the Ennead and other Egyptian Gods and Goddesses are from another dimension - are they magical in nature, are their relics magic, or just some form of alternate cosmic power? Is that dimension only accessible through the Tomb of Anubis? Could a powerful dimensional traveler open a portal to “Egyptus”? Is the realm itself innately magical like the RoD or is it a place just like our own where the study of power has lead to more powerful individuals, because when everyone is super powerful no one is? The Ennead (and Ra in how we think of him as Dr. Blake Washington Jr.) are not from that other realm - their predecessors were and everything from that other realm was more powerful than people here (much like how Maerynians just have “weather control” as a base-level thing they can do). These powerful beings doing their thing, rewriting the nature of that realm and warring with one another, is a big part of what led to the destruction of that realm. The refugees from that realm that came here realized just how powerful they were compared to the inhabitants and so set themselves up as gods. Now all that’s left of them is what’s left in the various relics - the relics are powered by the realm, but the effects of what the relics do/provide come from the original owner who left this imprint. The only opening to the remnants of that realm is indeed the Tomb of Anubis, but hypothetically somebody could rip open a new portal, but it would require someone of enough power to do so that you’d wonder why they’d want to bother doing so. Some Singular Entities could do so, but why? That probably means that nobody in Universe 1 can do so since there’s only one Singular Entity around and he doesn’t know/care enough about it to mess with it.
- So if a powerful being was able to take the Relic of Anubis and tap into that realm how much of a boost would they get per se? Could, say, Citizen Dawn do so and survive? Could she become the queen of hell? The Rod of Anubis probably wouldn’t do anything for Dawn because Anubis cares about Knowledge and Protection, and that’s not who Dawn is. She’s more likely to get something from Atum’s relic, but none of them call to her. Lots of people handle the relics without gaining power. Even so, the relics “imprint” their wielders with the power-set and personality of the original - a lot of the person still comes through in the manifestation of that being and how the relic changes them, but Ra is still significantly different from Dr. Blake Washington Jr. We haven’t seen any examples yet of anybody who already had powers being empowered by one of these relics to see how that might change what they were already able to do.
- Could somebody be attuned to multiple Egyptian relics at once? If Ra got Atum’s scarab could he channel even more fire? Definitely not. You can’t use more than one at once and even if you had multiple relics on hand, if (some hypothetical person) actually felt the call from a second one that would overwrite their attunement to the second and they couldn’t go back. Like, you’d have somebody who had a relic for a while and went through some considerable character growth to really change who they were as a person such that the second relic now was more in tune with them. The only other kinda-sorta way this works is if you have somebody who’s something of an Egyptian Sorcerer who uses the relics as a focus of power from the realm rather than doing the “avatar of a deity” thing. That would probably be very damaging to the relics themselves and their connection to the realm, though.
- Would the Gen Con session be a good place to ask about what the plans were for the Vertex Ennead that were slated for a Sentinel Tactics expansion that won’t be happening? The trick is that they hardly ever just throw ideas away and the work they did for that might still show up in some other context. You can ask whatever you want, but their answers still might be fairly dodgy depending on how much they plan on reusing. They are less dodgy than they used to be, though, between 2.5 years of podcasts and the fact that they got to the OblivAeon reveals.
- Regarding the Definitive Edition scenarios: It looks like you’re focusing on the core set for now. We heard about a few of the scenarios, but do you have details about the rest of the core-game villains and their variants? There are some details, but they aren’t going to talk about them now (or at all until they’re closer to when they’re going to come out). They weren’t even planning on talking about them at all before that Create a Thing episode, it just sort of happened. The next stuff regarding the Definitive Edition we’re likely to see will be when Adam starts streaming his new artwork for it later this year. It’s something they don’t want to put a lot of work into until it becomes something they’re able to focus on and even then they’re not going to say much about it publicly. While they’re focusing on the core set now that’s because it’s where they have to start. They will be doing everything, though.
- How different/out-there/goofy are you imagining the First Appearance variants to be (considering the weirdness that a lot of Golden and Silver Age comics had)? Like, could we see an Absolute Zero variant where he’s just chilling [heh] in his cryo-chamber with a power called “Better Bored in Here”? They aren’t planning on going “goofy” with them. They are supposed to represent the first time the character showed up as a hero - AZ’s variant will have him in the suit, but it won’t be Henry Goodman since he’s a different character.
- [Comment in a letter sign-off that mentions excitement for the RPG.] They’re excited too. They’ve even got some chapters that are even starting to look like parts of a book. [A few chapters in this kind of draft form should be going out to Kickstarter backers relatively soon from what a previous update mentioned.]
- Will Trickster Kismet, the VotM villains, OblivAeon, and the Scions be getting Challenge Modes and, if so, before Definitive Edition happens? Yes, there will be Challenge Modes which will come out before Def. Ed. The OblivAeon Challenge Mode is the Challenge Mode for the OblivAeon scenario, which includes the Scions, so there aren’t going to be separate Challenges just for them. Feel free to play both Challenge and Advanced Modes at once (colloquially known as Ultimate Mode since that’s what got used in the Video Game implementation) and have fun losing that game. They might have to do something special/send something to the first person who can prove that they’ve won an Ultimate OblivAeon game.
- Suggestions for the Writer’s Room episode next week: first, how about a story about Ignazio Gallo since all we have so far is his connection to the backstory of Matriarch? Second, why not a Visionary story, I dunno… Mind Over Matter #3 since it’s not represented by a card? There have been a number of suggestions, but they wanted to include this letter for a point - they’re not likely to do Mind Over Matter #3 - they might do #1, but they want to pick something that, if not able to stand on its own entirely, at least starts a story. Like, they might do Freedom Five #451 if it was the start of an arc or something. Later episodes could continue off of prior Writer’s Room episodes too and as they go they might be up for just jumping into the middle of a story like that, but they don’t want to start this episode type by doing so. If they wind up being able to knock out an issue in 20 minutes, they might also just keep rolling with the next issue too. We’ll see how these go as we’re all new to the format. [Fun trivia - the offhand issue of FF that Christopher threw out there, #451, came out the same month as Mind Over Matter #1 - November ’87. The fact that I pointed this out brought up their curiosity of how accurate my spreadsheet was - a (slightly) outdated version is available on my Sentinels Wiki user page.]
- “hello there christopher and adam would you rather thanks” [They mention that it has no capitalization or punctuation.] Yes, they would rather, because they’re here after all.