The Letters Page: Editor's Note 33
It's time for another live Editor's Note!
Run Time: 1:23:02
We reveal the schedule!
- Tuesday, September 3rd: Episode #119 - Writers’ Room - Disparation
- Tuesday, September 10th: Episode #120 - Writers’ Room - Guise & The Scholar
- Tuesday, September 17th: Editor’s Note #34
- Tuesday, September 24th: Episode #121 - Creative Process - Minions, Henchmen, & Underlings
There will be a recording calendar posted soon, but we need to figure out some September recording times, due to the travels of both Christopher and Adam.
We talk about a ton of things in this episode, including but not limited to:
- Shear Force
- Slaughterhouse Six
- The Entertainer
- Moral/ethical/probability conundrums
- Where to live
- Sentinel Comics connections
- Rewriting history
- And more!
- Jansa vi Dero
- Shear Force
- Green Grosser
- Baron Blade
- Citizen Dawn
- Slaughter-House Six
- The Freedom Five
- Dark Watch
- Miss Information
- Brianna Hawke
- The Entertainer
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Iron Legacy
- Young Legacy
- Mrs. Fischer
- A quick note up front: questions about Freedom Four #88 in the first Writer’s Room episode will be covered in the next Writer’s Room episode, so get your questions about that in soon (so the episode for the first week of September).
- Does Jansa’s ascension to the rank of Prime Aspect mean that she absorbed the power of or otherwise replaced all of the other versions of her that also took the Enclave out into Ur-Space? If not, what happens when various Jansas/Enclaves interact and how did she get enough power to become a Prime Aspect? She didn’t absorb their power or anything, and there will be other Terminarch-related plot things going on out in Ur-Space that’s unrelated to the one that’s a Prime Aspect now. A lot of this is tied into plot points they don’t want to get into right now, but they will say that there are events that occur that result in the one Jansa gaining a lot of power that allows her to become a Prime Aspect (while still being far short of what a Singular Entity would have had). She was in the right “place” at the right “time” (or as close as those terms come to meaning anything in Ur-Space). That’s on top of her already pretty considerable power, mostly being derived from what she knows (“she knows far more than she should about reality and things outside reality”) and how she brings her knowledge to bear on having things not get worse (thus her outsized devotion to Preservation - if you’re going to define a quality across all Prime Aspects, it’s their devotion to their aspect “and that’s what makes them Prime Aspects”).
- Who are the heroes on the OblivAeon deck card “Unbracing Smite” that make up the Centinelas? Those would be characters from the Telenovela-verse. R.I.P.
- If Singular Entities are singular in the whole Multiverse, then why is gathering up the OblivAeon Shards after his demise a problem? If he could only exist once, then we don’t have to worry about him reforming from the Shards, right? The singular nature of a Singular Entity is that there’s only one of them at a time, if one gets destroyed, but then a lot of the pieces are brought together, and those pieces still contain large amounts of the innate power and latent parts of the malevolent will of OblivAeon, there’s nothing inherent to Singular Entity-ness that would prevent him from reforming from the pieces. They’re not going to go on record saying that you could resurrect OblivAeon this way, but they also aren’t going on record that you can’t. Going further, let’s say for the sake of argument that you can’t. Now you’ve just got a pile of these powerful artifacts, remnants of a malevolent being of unimaginable cosmic power that was itself an abomination formed when one already incredibly powerful cosmic entity destroyed/consumed another (which gives us a data point to at least show that destruction isn’t necessarily the end for these things). Why wouldn’t one be concerned about this? Using one of these things is dangerous to the fabric of reality and you shouldn’t do it. Getting all of them together is probably bad.
- [Letter that’s not so much a question but a desire for all of the Shear Force toys, including a great pitch for one: the Nitrogen Cycle.] They also want all of the toys.
- Is Master Thorn the Extremeverse version of Green Grocer? Well, first thing is that it’s Green Grosser. No, they’re not the same person. For one thing, as discussed in the dedicated episode, Shear Force as a property were not originally connected to the world of Sentinel Comics, just had comics about their exploits published by that company with the connection only coming in right at the end as a retcon in the OblivAeon crossover where the Extremeverse explanation was made (although this broke continuity within the Shear Force comics since we’d seen things like Washington D.C. which didn’t match the Extremeverse version).
- Did any of the villains from Shear Force wind up trapped on this side of the Mist Gates? Time will have to tell on that one.
- Any chance we could get a Mission/Reward card for OblivAeon where we battle Master Thorn to recruit Hedgelord? Low, since the OblivAeon content is already complete. Time will tell and it’s not impossible given the Definitive Edition, but we’ll have to wait and see.
- What would a Shear Force or K.U.D.Z.U. SotM deck look like (presumably a Sentinels-style hero deck for the group)? If they were doing this, it’d be a Shear Force expansion where each member got a hero deck. K.U.D.Z.U. could do a Chairman-style thing where you can’t get to Master Thorn until you do something else mixed with a Baron Blade-style villainous plot, along with a Citizen Dawn thing where the minions are all powerful individuals in their own right - or maybe have those individuals have their own decks. The point is, there’s enough characters and whatnot around that one could plan out enough content for an expansion, but they’re not going to spend a lot of time working on it because it’s not a project they’re actually going to pursue.
- Does the reboot/relaunch of the Shear Force property include an expanding roster of villains (like Carpe Diem who’s introducing the invasive Asian Carp species into various waterways)? That’s pretty good, but it’s not plant-themed.
- Are there any Shear Force/K.U.D.Z.U. team ups, like to combat the emerald ash borer (which would be a good opportunity for Black Orchid to fall for a hero and begin a path to redemption)? There isn’t any episode that’s about such a team up, but you’d certainly get episodes here and there with individual members needing help from the good guys for something or one member of each get stranded in the desert together and have to work together to survive.
- Did they introduce some third party that was opposition to both groups, say a mega-corporation bent on destroying plants for profit purposes? Sure, while K.U.D.Z.U. is in favor of plants in ways that are strictly bad for everybody else and Shear Force are something like environmentalists, you could have a kind of pollution plot that could get them on the same “side” at least in terms of stopping that from happening. Most, but not all Shear Force stories were about fighting K.U.D.Z.U. so there’s some conceptual space there. Possibly this would have been happening in like the third season of the original show shortly before it got cancelled, because that’s when most ’80s cartoons started running on fumes and branching out [heh] a bit.
- What sorts of romantic entanglements are there between members of Shear Force and/or K.U.D.Z.U.? Many - there are a lot of undertones along with some overtones, but they’ll deal with that sort of thing later once they’ve explored this space more and figured out who everyone are. This has been a lot of Shear Force questions (and it’s not the last), but they’re just blowing through the backlog that’s accumulated and they’re putting Shear Force on the back burner for a while as they focus on more pressing things.
- Were there ever Shear Force toys included in kid’s meals at, say, Dad’s Burgers? Definitely, but the kinds of things that are like a vehicle where you can see the character’s head sticking up out of it, but you can’t remove the figure from the vehicle. A more interesting idea prompted here is whether you’d see any such toys visible in an on-the-page depiction of a Dad’s Burgers. They can see an artist just deciding to include a Shear Force figure as a kind of Easter Egg for sharp-eyed readers. There was possibly even a period in there where Shear Force, as a property, was more popular in the public consciousness than Sentinel Comics as these things wax and wane over time.
- [Letter leads with a suggestion for the name of the guy with a shovel and trowel from the Shear Force art: The Spade.] What kind of game are you imagining that you’ll use Shear Force for (I’m thinking a 2-player vs. game)? They’re not going too far in-depth on the idea they’re working on, but they do point out that Christopher and Adam kind of have a tendency towards co-op games, and this is no exception. “It’s a co-op action/adventure thing.” - Adam
- You talked about the new Slaughterhouse Six doing jobs when they need the money, this prompted the question of who does the accounting for all of these various groups (the SH6, the Freedom Five, etc.) as I have a hard time imagining anybody on Dark Watch doing the numbers on how much Expatriette is dropping on ammunition? Hold on, you have trouble imagining that Expatriette isn’t completely aware of the logistics of her operation? She’s meticulous about this stuff. Sure, it doesn’t make for exciting on-panel action, but it’s kind of assumed that it’s happening. The Freedom Five have support staff (Aminia Twain at first, but that organization has grown over the years) and that would include things like accounting. The villains likely just have scenes where they pile up whatever has been stolen and then divvy it up (possibly laying on it first). [They have a discussion from about 38:40 to 43:05 about whether or not you’d see Expat taking notes in a little black book or something as a background detail showing that she’s keeping track of stuff. Christopher thinks it would happen (“she always has her mind on the job”), but Adam thinks it’s tonally wrong for the Dark Watch book - she’d know what the situation is and we’d be more likely to see her cleaning/loading her guns or being out in it. An advantage of comics as a medium is the internal monologue, so you can have her meticulous mindset shown that way rather than through the artwork.]
- How are the Freedom Five or other entities categorized in the tax code? Are the legitimate groups registered as non-profits? Are any villains incorporated for some reason - like so Chairman isn’t going to get busted for tax evasion like Al Capone was? Who does their taxes for these people? There probably is some kind of CPA or something - they’ve already established the existence of Brianna Hawke, “The Law Hawke”, a lawyer that the Freedom Five have on retainer. Chairman’s not going to get busted because he owns the people who would bust him and the public Pike Industries stuff just follows the rules (for the most part). This question is basically describing RevoCorp, at least in its inception. They like the idea of a plot where the Freedom Five get audited.
- [Writer is disappointed that the Entertainer’s “show” wasn’t *America’s Got Torment.] That’s pretty good. For people not at Gen Con, see the RPG session.
- [Brian Jewett is back with follow-ups to his Baron Blade Trolley Problem from last Editor’s Note - this first question gets going at 47:50:] Let’s say that Citizen Dawn is attacking and one of her new minions, Citizen Monty, can use his psionic powers to determine that Expatriette is hiding in one of three locations that he tells Dawn about and she gets ready to bring down a Devastating Aurora on the rightmost. Then his partner, Citizen Hall, blows up the leftmost one, reports that it didn’t have Expat in it. For the best odds of getting Expat, should she stick with her original plan or switch her attack to the center location (or possibly just fire straight up into the air, counting on Setback being around and hitting him by chance would draw her out into the open)? [The setup ends at around 48:50 and the ensuing discussion, including the chat responses, goes on until 56:40. This discussion is hilarious to me as it’s the exact same discussion that always accompanies somebody being confronted with the Monty Hall Problem for the first time because it’s so counter-intuitive.] Despite all of the math talk, the answer is pretty much that she’ll continue to target the rightmost one and Monty and Hall should do their jobs and go destroy the last one.
- Let’s say that Grand Warlord Voss and his forces have successfully taken Wagner Mars Base and has 6 Gene-bound with him. However, during the course of the fight 5 of them were gravely injured, but they could be saved by sacrificing the 6th uninjured one to provide the organs necessary to keep the others alive. Should Voss make this sacrifice of 1 to save 5 as meat-shields for the inevitable counterattack from the heroes or should he respect the survivor who’s proven its mettle? This is a difficult ethical question (that has the opportunity for even more difficult variants - would you take organs from a child to save 5 convicted felons? They’re still people after all). However, we’re talking about Voss. Christopher leads with the idea that he’d definitely get the 5 back on their feet if they have enough time for the recovery necessary - these are his disposable minions, he doesn’t care about them as individuals as he just wants them for their numbers. If the heroes are on their way now and the 5 wouldn’t be combat-ready by the time the fight starts he’d stick with the one that would actually be able to help. Adam counters that because he doesn’t care about them, he’s not going to go through the trouble of a field operation anyway. He’d be better off just calling in more troops from somewhere and this is convincing to Christopher.
- Let’s say that Omnitron is trying to destroy the city, but is getting damaged pretty badly. Luckily for it, it has nanobots that can repair it as it goes. The battle goes on long enough that the nanobots wind up replacing every part of Omnitron at some point. Is it still the same version of Omnitron as it was at the beginning of the battle? In this instance, yes. The Omnitron iterations have more to do with the programming than the physical manifestation. The Ship of Theseus question generally depends on how you define the thing and the piecemeal nature of the replacement. Personal examples: Christopher has removed/replaced many parts of his house over time, but it’s still “his house” - if a tornado were to destroy it all in one go and he had to rebuild it, it would then be a “new house”. Alternately, Christopher apparently keeps an axe in his car. This axe currently has a cracked handle and will likely still need to be replaced, and this wouldn’t make it a new axe. However, the axe head was forged by a blacksmith in Norway and bears his maker’s mark and everything - Christopher considers the axe head to be the axe and if he were to need to replace it, it would cease to be the same axe. Omnitron can replace any part of Omnitron without changing the version number as long as it’s doing the stuff that this version was programmed to do, which seems to be part of the nanobot component this time around.
- [Following up on the cryptic “would you rather” question that ended the last Editors Note - which turns out to have been a technical error] Would you rather live in Rook City or Mordengrad? Mordengrad is absolutely safer - if you’re content being a small-town person who works at a fairly unfulfilling (probably factory) job but still then have time to do stuff with friends or family (or dance with the goat), Mordengrad is probably the better choice. Rook City, you stand a chance that you’ll get shot walking out of your front door any given day (or even if you stay home - it’s all terrible). If you’re on your own and willing to take the risk for the chance of making more of your situation, then go for it, but if you’ve got a family or are just risk averse you probably want to avoid it. You’re looking at the choice between safety/security and potential for change for yourself or society. Nothing is going to change in Mordengrad.
- In the Iron Legacy timeline, how much of Mordengrad is left after the death of Felicia? Ok, good point. It’s basically just a crater. If anything ever changes in Mordengrad, it tends to be major stuff real quick.
- Who did Expatriette’s tattoo that we can see in her character art in the “Urban Infestation” RPG one-shot? Why that design? The “who” is just some tattoo artist she knows in Rook City. The design is just smoke, bullets, guns, and doves - things associated with her that she’s interested in.
- How did Idealist wake up knowing that her name was Miranda Fischer? Was that her mother’s name/was she just a copy of her mother? She’s not a copy of her mother - we know that her mother’s last name was Fischer [we don’t know her first name, but Christopher does say here that Miranda wasn’t her name - I don’t know if that was a slip in describing the situation that all we know is “Mrs. Fischer” or if they actually do have a name picked for her and that it’s not Miranda]. That knowledge, along with things like how to speak English, were things implanted in her during her creation. “I wonder if there are any other implanted memories that are dormant in there. Probably not.”
- Question about Blood Magic: would a person with a strong regenerative power be able to use their own blood as the mechanism for performing Blood Magic in the RPG? There are a few things to unpack here: first how to model a regenerative healing factor in the game’s system. There are a few ways to heal yourself in the game and you could also flavor damage reduction as a form of healing (minor wounds heal as soon as they’re inflicted, for example). Doing Blood Magic, then, we have the problem that you’re taking the damage for doing it, but since you heal it right away you’re sidestepping the concept of a “sacrifice” or “cost” that they have talked about previously in terms of using magic. As a result, your magic would likely be weakened somewhat, but that’s all in the “fiction” - you just build the character to have the abilities that you want them to have, and then explain it through this stuff.
- When was Aeon Girl created and, if it was after Voss closed off that reality from the Multiverse, would that make her a Singular Entity? Yes, it was after Voss did his thing and that does make her a unique being and so, technically, would be a singular entity [see a question along these lines back in Editors Note 23 as well.] If Universe 1 is eventually reconnected to the branching Multiverse, however, this could result in her no longer being one if the timeline she’s in were to split. There’s also the unresolved question of exactly what the limits of her power are. It’s entirely possible that if her timeline splits that one resulting reality will have everything but her, proving her status as a true Singular Entity. It’s like how, as far as anyone knows, Adam could be bulletproof. It’s simply never been tested.
- At Gen Con, [this letter writer] asked how many other game universes SotM is connected to and you basically said “infinite” - how many single-step connections are there, though (like, SotM connects directly to Galactic Strike Force, but not directly to Penny Arcade like GSF does)? Relatively few - probably under 20 but more than 3. People could probably do the legwork to catalog that list. [Ones mentioned here: GSF as above, Arkham Horror and related things through NightMist’s family, Bottom of the 9th between the expansion to that game and its appearance in the Champion Studios deck, Spirit Island through Nexus of the Void, Pixel Lincoln (which is “super non-canonical”, plus Legacy and Tachyon have reversed hair colors),
EXCEED Fighting System (although I can’t find what the promo was)it was actually BattleCON, not EXCEED, Ra appeared in the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game, there’s a video game in production that has a super minor Sentinel Comics Easter egg that nobody will probably notice.]
- Thinking back on the early years when you were just handing out the original Young Legacy promos at Gen Con, little suspecting how valuable they would become later, if you could go back to the beginning of Gen Con 2011 and do things differently, would you? How about if you went back to when you just received the original shipment of the game? Christopher has though about this - if he could go back to 2010 or 2011 what comes to mind is a feeling of extreme frustration. He has to do all of this all over again. In that case, he probably wouldn’t do it. Not because he’s not proud of the game, but he’s already done it and doesn’t just want to rehash the same stuff all over again. He’d walk away and go buy a bunch of stocks that will pay out big over the last decade (like Nintendo and sell at the height of the Pokemon Go craze). Maybe if it was just him that went back he’d talk to Adam and Paul and just bail on SotM and pitch something else. Adam thinks this is missing the spirit of the question - what would you do differently along the same path? The answer to that is still “not much” - even the mistakes are a learning experience that then gets them to the point they’re at now. Maybe not make Sentinel Tactics until they’re “ready for it” but even that might have butterfly effects. Maybe if they hadn’t done that GTG wouldn’t still be a going concern or the lessons learned there would impact the quality of the RPG. If we could shout advice to ourselves in the past, “stick to your guns, don’t do what other people tell you to do”. Basically, be an even more obstinate creator than you already are. The things that have failed for them are from when they didn’t stick to their original ideas. Ooo, maybe “Print fewer copies of GSF and ST - still make those games and everything that went along with that process, but that’s a small change that would be ok - they printed them in numbers relative to how well their prior game, SotM, had sold and they didn’t know that it’s sales curve was atypical. [Andy follows up in the chat about how they sold the video game rights to SotM to not-Handelabra at that original show.] They would absolutely still do that as the $1000 they got for it was huge for where the company was at the time, but it didn’t prevent the excellent version that exists today from having happened. It may have actually helped as if Handelabra had begun work in 2011 the art would have been worse and other learning experiences in the meantime would have been missed.”Getting $1000 and having to wait a year" was a good thing. So many things have fallen out in just the right way that they wouldn’t want to change timing too much (to say nothing of possibly preventing Adam’s kid being born).