The Letters Page: Editor's Note 34
We do the monthly live talking about everything thing!
Run Time: 1:25:51
The votes are in! What's happening in October?
- Tuesday, October 1st: Episode #122 - Creative Process - Count Barzakh
- Tuesday, October 8th: Episode #123 - Writers' Room - an issue of Disparation
- Tuesday, October 15th: Episode #124 - Creative Process - Phobias
- Tuesday, October 22th: Editor’s Note #35
- Tuesday, October 29th: Episode #125 - Creative Process - Monsters and Magic
And here's a medium quality photo of my low quality handwriting on this high quality calendar of questionable quality recording content!
In today's questions section, we talk about all manner of things, including:
- Singular Entities
- Time before time
- A vest
- Gene-bound humans
- Fixed points
- Orders of events
- OblivAeon shards
- SCRPG rules
- Hero creation
- Sentinel Comics LARP
- Hypothetical moral/logical quandaries
- Citizen Dawn
- Villain themes
- OblivAeon's HP
- Blood magic
- Surviving environments
- and more!
Thanks to everyone who was able to join us live, everyone who else who listens not live, and even everyone who doesn't listen but still thinks good thoughts about us! We appreciate all of you.
- Wager Master
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Michelle Hausmann
- Citizens Hammer and Anvil
- Mr. Fixer
- Citizen Dawn
- Citizens Pain and Gain
- Citizens Blood, Sweat, and Tears
- Blood Countess Bathory
- Argent Adept
- Kaargra Warfang
- Baron Blade
- Greazer Clutch
- Why did Oblivion attack Archaeon? This was noted as being something “aberrant” for Singular Entities in general/Oblivion in particular, so had something corrupted Oblivion like OblivAeon later corrupted Faultless? The second answer is “no”, just something internal to Oblivion caused it to attack Archaeon without some other manipulator. While Archaeon was destroyed/consumed, something similar also happened to Oblivion itself in the process. This was billions of years ago and there aren’t really “records” of what things were like prior to that time - it’s like trying to study the Big Bang and everything we know of reality was in this “natural order” where OblivAeon existed and we don’t know what the “natural order” prior to this would have been like. The post-OblivAeon time frame is an interesting period - it’s possible that some new Singular Entities of Preservation and Entropy could be established that would possibly get us back to that original state and who knows what that would be like?
- [Letter continued with a “surely there isn’t such a shadowy manipulator as it would be too horrible” kind of thing. This prompted a good discussion on its own even without a question.] If such a thing did exist, then nobody knows about it (which is functionally equivalent to it not existing). We’re also talking about something so long ago that “life forms” as we know them didn’t really exist yet (or did they, somewhere? Space is a big place after all). At the very least it would be some big incomprehensible cosmic thing in the first place. That also prompts the question of whether Singular Entities are ‘life forms’? which is interesting. They’re kind of like “gods” too [this whole bit has lots of sputtering from both of them at just how deep in the weeds they’re getting with these questions, which is entertaining listening]. Adam draws comparisons to Greek myth and the time of chaos before the Olympians and mankind - it’s hard to even conceptualize what the universe was like. More knowledge about Singular Entities has been lost than is currently or will be known about them.
- If gene-binding exemplifies that race’s natural traits, what do gene-bound Humans exemplify? Adaptability. Generic “fantasy” baseline for humanity as the generalists rather than specialists, while being very adaptable.
- What are the known Fixed Points in Sentinel Comics? Just… no.
- Is it possible that the Shattering of the Timelines didn’t shatter them all (Multiverse theory implies that every possibility happens somewhere, which would mean that there are some universes where Vanessa Long didn’t get powers/was never born/etc. and these are ones where the timeline wasn’t shattered)? First, it’s worth clarifying that while OblivAeon did a thing we call “Shattering the Timelines”, that’s somewhat just for drama as he didn’t shatter the realities themselves, but the barriers between them. As an analogy - take a bunch of glass slides with water drops on them and then layer them on top of one another. Then press on them so that each slide cracks. The water (i.e. realities) can now intermingle where before they were separated. Regarding the “Multiverse theory” you have there, that’s counter to what we’ve established for Sentinel Comics in particular since only big changes can cause a split in the first place (otherwise too-similar universes collapse in on one another, so small changes [like the path an individual photon takes in a double-slit experiment] don’t cause a split and things just spring back together). As for the possibility that some timelines weren’t shattered: theoretically, yes. If there are, “it is hard to call them part of the Multiverse” and aren’t relevant until some later event makes them relevant.
- Would those hypothetical universes have been unaffected if OblivAeon had succeeded in destroying the Multiverse? Would they have their own Singular Entities outside of the collection we know about in the Multiverse? Could they “join” the Multiverse at some point? No, there are no other Singular Entities - the first time anything along those lines happens is the weirdness that is Wager Master’s situation in Universe 1. Every universe is part of the Multiverse (including the meta-verse and our reality) - there aren’t multiple unconnected Multiverses independent from each other in Sentinel Comics. Some of the questions we’re getting into are things that don’t have answers because it’s just comic book pseudoscience - they’re describing how people decided their fictional multiverse worked and that’s the way it works until some later writer comes up with something new that contradicts that.
- What is Wager Master’s favorite game to play with a standard deck of playing cards? Magic: The Gathering.
- The descriptions we’ve gotten of the timeline of events regarding the destruction of Freedom Tower in the RPG and Vertex timelines have gotten really confusing, can you lay it out again? Ok, Rook City is destroyed and whether or not Setback “fixes” Chrono-Ranger marks the split point. If he does (which is what happens in the OblivAeon story comics at the time), we’re in Universe 1/the RPG timeline and OblivAeon goes on to destroy Freedom Tower [and kill Thiago]. If he doesn’t, then we’re in the Vertex timeline. However, while we’re told that Freedom Tower was destroyed and rebuilt, we’re looking at it as an historical event in comics set like 5 years later. Maybe it was the action of Scions. Maybe it was something else. The important bit is that the events that would have covered that event are never actually shown on the page. We’re left to assume a bunch of things that happened in the meantime and one of those is exactly how the tower was destroyed and rebuilt. It’s not actually important.
- In a Reddit AMA from 3 years ago you said that the fact that Oblivion/OblivAeon Shards are present in 2 realities prevents OblivAeon from reforming - is this because some of them are sealed off in Universe 1 in particular or is the fact that they’re in different universes in general sufficient to prevent such a reformation? If the former, would Universe 1 getting reconnected to the Multiverse be sufficient to allow his return? Does the fact that a lot of the residual energy of OblivAeon is currently bound up in Akash'Flora factor into how such a reconstituted OblivAeon would look/behave? Would the tree need to be destroyed first? Ok, so the vast majority of OblivAeon’s power was used up by Voss to seal away Universe 1 in the first place. Sure, getting the power out of the tree is all well and good, but that’s the big money and it’s also what’s preventing all of the Shards from being brought together (and, as they’ve said before, getting a lot of them in one place is a Bad Thing™ and puts a strain on reality). There’s still the open question of whether bringing them all back together would make it possible for his return - getting all of the Shards (and his power/essence, etc.) together does not automatically mean he could come back. What we can say is that as long as they’re spread out between multiple realities that he can’t. Being in separate realities is enough to prevent it, the fact that there’s this shield that keeps one reality that has Shards segregated off from the rest just makes the prospect of assembling them all that much more difficult.
- Can you tell us about the Mainstay/Akash'Thriya team-up implied by “Primeval Germination”? What’s happening/which building is being destroyed? That’s part of Fort Adamant. It’s not really a team-up, she’s just destroying the building and he’s there and comments on it.
- Were the Scions Singular Entities as well? Like, were there Animal-verse versions of them [pretty good list of options from 29:30 to around 30 minutes in]? Was Voss always Singular or did OblivAeon just pick the best one? None of the Scions are Singular. Faultless was a Singular Entity and part of that “was” means that there might be multiple Faultlesses out there. They need to clarify a bit, though. Being a “Singular Entity” is more than just being unique across the Multiverse, it also implies that level of cross-reality abilities that we see them possess. Faultless being corrupted and no longer being a Singular Entity doesn’t by necessity mean that there are multiple copies of him around, but it does imply that he’s lost some of that cosmic awareness or whatever that comes with the “job title”. None of the Scions are Singular Entities and there are Scions that exist in other realities that we never see. There can still be beings that are singular in that they’re unique in the Multiverse without being a Singular Entity. Voss as a Scion of OblivAeon is singular as he was the only Rainek Kel’Voss who became a Scion, but without being a Singular Entity. Once he takes OblivAeon’s power he counts as a Singular Entity for a very brief time until he locks himself out of the Multiverse.
- In the RPG, when a Background lets you choose from a Quality category, can you select more than one from that category? That is, if it tells you to choose two Qualities from [specific Quality x], [specific Quality y], or [Quality category z], can you select two from category z or is the category option a single thing that you can only take once? You can pick from the category multiple times. Heck, you can take the same Power or Quality multiple times if you wanted, although they don’t recommend that.
- Can you assign dice for Power Source and Archetype to multiple categories? Yes, you don’t have to group all of your dice for either of those into a single category.
- There’s an Ability called “Turn the Tables” that lets you turn a Hinder into a Bonus or vice versa; does this work on Persistent Hinders as turning them into Persistent Bonus seems very strong? Does this work on group Hinders (for example, in the Starter Kit there’s a scenario involving Miss Information where a net drops on the heroes putting a -2 Persistent Hinder on everybody - so could “Turn the Tables” turn that into a +2 Bonus on everybody instead)? Can “Turn the Tables” be used on Hinders that specifically state that they require an Overcome to counter? There’s a specific misunderstanding here that’s getting in the way. Hinders and Boosts are Actions that a character can take. These create a Penalty or a Bonus respectively. “Turn the Tables” specifically turns a Penalty into a Bonus or vice versa. While a Hinder Action can create Penalties on multiple characters at the same time, each Penalty is a separate Mod and “Turn the Tables” can only affect a single Penalty per use. Penalties that are not on a Character, but are part of a scene/environment that requires an Overcome or whatever to deal with are not modifiable by Abilities like this, only by the way specified. [Christopher thinks that the description for “Turn the Tables” should specify that it has to be a mod on a character, but the preview PDF does not actually say this.] The Persistent quality of a Mod is not affected by this - if you’re turning a Persistent Bonus into a Penalty, it remains Persistent.
- How involved were you with the LARP that happened at Gen Con? Was it based on the RPG rules? Were canonical characters assigned to players? Plans for more LARPs at future events? Both very and not at all involved. Christopher was involved in the design of the rule set (and was modeled on Play/Power/Draw from SotM, but also does draw in Principles from the RPG in addition to just some general mechanics common to LARPs - all credit goes to Phoenix Outlaw Productions for running things, though), but Adam wasn’t involved at all. People made their own characters. If somebody had shown up wanting to play as a particular character, they had plans to accommodate that, but as it turns out it was unnecessary. There were canonical characters there, though, such as Michelle Hausmann [the reporter featured on “Paparazzi on the Scene”] and an Akash sprout from the tree [which sounds like a neat prop] along with Citizens Hammer and Anvil. There are plans to do future events, but that’s more up to Phoenix Outlaw.
- Let’s say that all crime and corruption in Rook City was controlled by an Organization run by some shadowy Chairman, if Mr. Fixer gets tired of the situation and decides to clean things up by beating up every member - but before he can beat up the whole Organization he has to beat up half of it, but before he can beat up half he has to beat up a quarter of it, and so on; given that “Prison Break” is a card, will he eventually be able to take down the whole Organization? It sounds like he’s slacking off if he takes out half in one day, but then doesn’t just take out the remaining half the next day. That sounds like he’s getting worse at his job as he goes. This resolves, however, in that eventually the fraction of the Organization he has to deal with becomes less than or equal to one guy at which point we’ve hit the floor of how much he has to deal with before he can accomplish the next bit. Fractions aren’t the problem here, but the fact that the Organization is just so much broader than anybody really knows. I guess if we stipulate that he doesn’t care if he’s beating up innocent people and just beats up everybody in the city (or, to be safe, North America - we’ve heard about them trying to expand, but it’s unlikely that they’ve actually succeeded in getting a foothold internationally) it might be possible.
- Let’s say that Sky-Scraper takes up running to stay in shape and get to know her new home on Earth, but she decides to do so barefoot with the result that her feet toughen up. [Adam: “Is that a fetish thing?”]. Additionally, suppose that Dad’s Burgers has a limited-time offer of a burger with Gouda cheese, garlic butter, extra onions, and a sardine that Portja just loves and eats every day and so develops a bad breath problem. [Adam: “Is that some sort of fetish thing?”] Furthermore, let us suppose that one day while waiting in line for her burger she bumps into NightMist, the two of them hit it off, and she starts getting lessons in the mystic arts. [Adam: “Is that some sort of fetish thing?”] Finally, what if the two of them wind up fighting Kismet who puts the Glass Jaw jinx on her, resulting in her bones becoming very fragile. [Adam: “I know that one’s a fetish thing.”] Does this mean that Sky-Scraper would be a super-callused fragile mystic hexed with halitosis? Get out.
- [We revisit the Monty Hall Problem once again over the course of 3 letters running from 46:30 or so through 52:21 - the short version is that they accept the rationale now that it’s better to switch than stay as long as the revealed option was known to not be the “correct” option by the person doing the revealing. We also get options to ignore Setback as he’ll probably get it no matter what, to just use a Devastating Aurora on Citizen Hall as he’s obviously not sufficiently dedicated to the cause if he’s blowing up non-Expat options on purpose if he knows where she is, and then to watch out for Expatriette shooting from somewhere besides the three sniper nests once they’ve all been destroyed because of course she’d not be in any of those obvious locations. One of these letters is also addressed to “Adam and Adam’s hand with googly eyes” which prompted Adam to draw on his hand and do a little puppet show, which is, y’know, just great radio.]
- What are some of Citizen Dawn’s strengths and weaknesses of character? Strengths: commitment to her cause, she’s a good leader, focus and determination. Weaknesses: not great at putting trust in her subordinates, doesn’t put a lot of concern on the lives or consent of others - she’s a very bad person.
- Why haven’t we seen her since OblivAeon - has she had a change in outlook after her heroic turn during that event? She wasn’t so much “heroic” as acting in self-preservation.
- Do we know who took away her parents (F.I.L.T.E.R.? Government/Military?)? We don’t know in particular who they were.
- Will she be back in the RPG timeline? She’ll be back. She’s not dead or depowered. Even some of the Citizens of the Sun aren’t sure what she’s up to.
- Does Expatriette’s purple hair indicate that she could theoretically pass on “powered” genes she got from her mother or Citizen Pain to a child or would it more be an indication that powers can affect a child in utero and her hair color is just affected by her mother’s light-based powers? Is Expatriette genetically “superhuman” and would Citizen Gain’s powers have had an effect on her (say, shifting her hair into ultraviolet)? So, when Amanda was born Dawn was really excited as she thought that the child’s purple hair was an indication that she would develop powers to go along with it. When that didn’t happen, her opinion shifted to the hair just being a side effect of her own powers rather than a “power” of her daughter’s and so it doesn’t count.
- Would somebody with a natural attunement to magic be sufficient for inclusion in the Citizens of the Sun? Would Lillian’s dependency on her mask disqualify her? Are there any Citizens who are magic users and, if so, what variety of magic do they use? Hypothetically, yes - magic would be a qualification. I mean, we have Blood, Sweat, and Tears in there and they’re magicians [although they’ve given themselves bodily alterations to go along with that], but most Citizens we see have more “classic” superpowers than just “can use magic”. Being dependent on a magic item could be a dangerous situation if they ever lost the item (Dawn: “Oh, you were secretly weak this whole time.” *kills*). Matriarch would be in this sort of dangerous territory, but by the time she’s in Dark Watch as Harpy she’d be ok as she’s got a better handle on it. She’s kind of a bad example as once she used the mask it was linked to her, so that’s not quite the thing you’re asking about. We’d have to get somebody who really did only have power as long as they had the item in question and that’s pretty rare in Sentinel Comics - magic items have a tendency to leave a mark on your soul/essence/whatever that creates that kind of link.
- Were the “Men in Black” types who signed Dawn out of the hospital for “testing” part of Project Cocoon? If not, who were they? They were not Cocoon or F.I.L.T.E.R. - they’re some group that they haven’t really talked about before and, honestly, aren’t really important. It’s a generic shadowy government organization and whatever it was they were doing it wound up getting destroyed by Dawn anyway.
- What would happen with the Citizens if Dawn were to die (considering they look like something of a cult of personality around her)? Several options could work. They could just disband. There could be somebody who steps up to run things “in her name” or whatever. They could also just continue - Dawn is over, but that doesn’t mean the sun has set. There could be infighting about how things go without Dawn there to stomp on any insubordination. It could go any number of ways. There are at least 2 specific ways that things go in the future, but they’re not going to talk about those yet.
- [Letter starts with a note that after making some fan decks for SotM they’re working on a game of their own. This is always what Christopher and Adam like to hear as modding existing games is how they got started themselves. Do that thing.] How often do we hear the Villain themes in the Animated series? Title screens and things like cliffhanger endings. Not really during normal scenes as you don’t want the music getting in the way of dialog (although you might get dramatic swells or stings as appropriate). The general score of any given episode will get built around the theme, though.
- Is the phrase “if OblivAeon would be destroyed” included on his phase 1 text just there to stupid-proof the card? It’s partially there to stupid-proof the card, but also because 1) it would fit and 2) Christopher knew if he put it there people would try to manage it. He doesn’t think it’s possible, but let them know if you succeed [which I think is him just egging people on some more - the presence of arbitrarily-high damage combos like “abusing Fixed Point, Absolute Zero, and something to turn damage types to Fire” or “Freedom 5 Wraith, Parse’s Critical Multiplier, and Guise” are well-known enough that I’ve heard of them and I’m not as much of a theory-crafter as many others]. Half the reason the 10000 HP total is there is just to scare/intimidate you.
- Is there a way a skilled Blood Mage could take control of Biomancer’s fleshchildren, possibly using some artifact (like Blood Countess Bathory with the Blood Stone or Argent Adept with the baton)? Blood magic can do stuff with fleshy/bloody things, but the limits of that are kind of at the discretion of whatever the story requires. If you’re doing a game where you need Blood Countess to take control of a bunch of fleshchildren, go for it. There is not an in-comics representation of that, but it’s a perfectly reasonable thing for you to have happen.
- Is Paul Parson’s favorite snack still Todidos® now that he’s Heritage? They don’t see why his tastes would change. He actually has a problem, though, in that things have changed quite a bit from the original recipe Pressed Corn Snack Biscuits™ that are no longer available.
- How dangerous are various places in the Multiverse relative to one another? For the purpose of this question, let’s rank Wraith’s ability to survive in the following for a day if she has a day or two to prepare (she can have whatever gear she wants and even can get spells cast on her or whatever, but nobody is actually coming on the trip with her): “interstellar space” (included as a control), Madame Mittermeier’s Fantastical Festival of Conundrums and Curiosities, Magmaria, Realm of Discord, the Void, Ur-Space, the Underworld, the Nexus of the Void, and Myriad’s bug dimension. From most to least survivable, they’ll say that Magmaria and then Mittermeiers are the most. They are places that you can stand and breathe unassisted. Magmaria’s just hot, but not unlivable. Mittermeier’s just has some really swingy cases where it suddenly isn’t survivable. Nexus of the Void next up as it’s still a place on earth (it might actually be slightly less dangerous than Mittermeiers, it’s close at any rate). Realm of Discord next as of the crazy nonsense dimensions it’s still a place that people can generally walk around. Interstellar space is harder to traverse than others, but otherwise isn’t any more dangerous as long as you’ve got the equipment to deal with it. Ur-space is similar in that it’s the lack of stuff that’s dangerous more than actively dangerous stuff. Underworld, Void, and Myriad’s bug dimension is hard to place - it’s not like a place that just has a lot of bugs, it’s just a dimension full of bugs. So, while you could get shielded from the bugs through preparation, it’s still just an endless swarm, so what do you even do there? People have survived being in both the Underworld and the Void. A lot of this is subjective, so sorry if they’re not doing a good job on the scale here.
- Which of these would Haka most enjoy visiting? The Nexus of the Void.
- Just how strong/durable is Setback? Sure, he’s no Legacy, Haka, or Voss, but how would he hold up alongside Kaargra or Bugbear? Is Vengeance-era Baron Blade exactly as strong as Setback? The comparative strength of Setback is that he’s superhumanly strong, but not “off the charts” strong. Legacy can just pick up a car. Haka can do so with one hand so he could pet the kitten under it or something. Setback could, when the chips are down and it’s required for the drama, get a car over his head. Vengeance Blade is probably a little stronger than Setback, but there’s not a numerical rating/ranking system here.
- What are the strength/endurance scales of the various characters (like, Wraith is probably stronger than most non-combat-trained humans, but then is Tyler Vance stronger than her? How strong is the Bunker suit? Is Greazer stronger than regular humans? etc.)? Ok, so if we put your average human adult at a 1 and Haka at a 10 in strength (or maybe Haka should be at more of a 9 to have space for people higher than him - Adam posits that Voss is strictly stronger than Haka, but Christopher doesn’t think that’s true, just that Voss has other things he can bring to bear besides pure strength). Of course, what a lot of these things come down to are going to be individual story needs. If they are going to be quantifying things, Tyler Vance and the Wraith are going to have the same rating - they’re both “athletic humans” and so might be like a 2 while Mr. Fixer is stronger than either of them (even more so in his Dark Watch zombie form). They’ve always been wary of other comics companies’ attempts to create systematic rankings like this and have avoided doing so for Sentinel Comics as writing down numbers limits the narrative space. This applies even moreso to the RPG where they need to have balance between characters like Legacy who work side-by-side with the Wraith.
- [Two birthday notices in the chat: requests are “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra. Singing commences at 1:20:11.]
- [Last letter of the day is a tribute from Jason Bachelor who’s been a fan/friend for a while (they have some art Jason did up in their office). Richard Comfort, who was a big GTG/Sentinels fan and a part of Jason’s local gaming community, died unexpectedly a few weeks ago. They’re sad to hear that. Most people listening probably didn’t know Richard, but most probably have somebody in their life who has died and left a hole in their lives as a result. Christopher mentions that he’s glad that the people like that in his life are ones for whom he has a lot of good memories - that’s what all of our legacies will be after all, the ways in which we affect the lives of those around us that will still be felt after we’re gone.]