The Letters Page: Editor's Note 35
Good morning, friends!
Run time: 1:20:52
Another silly live show with a wide variety of topics!
- Tuesday, November 5th: Episode #126 - Writers' Room - Disparation (Extremeverse!)
- Tuesday, November 12th: Episode #127 - Creative Process - Animated Series Phase 3
- Tuesday, November 19th: Editor’s Note #36
- Tuesday, November 26th: Episode #128 - Writers' Room - Void Guard in Bloodsworn Colosseum
Do note that the recording times are all over the place for this coming month. We're both traveling for various reasons in November, so we're fitting the recordings in where we can! So, get your questions in ASAP!
We talked about lots of things, like:
- Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game
- Logic Puzzle Questions
- Minions and Henchlings
- Meta Stuff
- Birthday Songs
- And So Much More!
Catch you next time!
- Wager Master
- Absolute Zero
- Dr. Medico
- Dark Mind
- Aeon Girl
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Aeon Master
- Nixious the Chosen
- Borr the Unstable
- The Freedom Team
- Larry Hillburn
- The Organization
- The Operative
- Blood Countess Bathory
- Green Grosser
- Citizen Dawn
- Zhu Long
- Iron Legacy
- Mr. Fixer
- Prime Wardens
- Dark Watch
- The Southwest Sentinels
- The Paradigms
- Baron Blade
- Plague Rat
- How does the Butterfly Effect factor into the Multiverse in terms of split-points? Like, let’s say I can choose whether or not to swat and kill a single bee - if I don’t, then that bee eventually stings a hero who’s both allergic to bee stings and would otherwise have had an important role to play in a major event at that time and their involvement/non-involvement is significant enough to cause a split - would the split point be the moment I kill/don’t kill the bee, the moment the hero is/isn’t stung, or some later time when they were/weren’t able to participate in the event? Do some potential answers there imply that timelines “know” what’s going to happen later or do they have “minds” in the first place? [The answer runs from 11:40 through 14:50 and gets kind of involved, but here’s the gist:] First off, we learn that bees love tuna sandwiches and hate roast beef. The main problem here is if we treat anything but “the hero fails to show up” as the split-point, then we get into an infinite regression of causes that Singular Entities can probably keep track of, but we cannot. The presence or absence of a single bee is too insignificant in itself to cause a split due to the elasticity realities have that prevent every small change from branching off.
- If Singular Entities can only be in one place at a time, then how can Wager Master duplicate himself (e.g. a room full of beatnik Wager Masters snapping approval at Absolute Zero’s poetry slam)? Couldn’t OblivAeon have similarly split himself to be doing his thing in multiple realities at once? Wager Master duplicates in that sort of case don’t have independent consciousness of their own - it’s like the Genie in Aladdin making copies of himself in cartoon logic. Another example is Proletariat - he’s one person, no matter how many duplicate bodies he splits off. For OblivAeon’s situation in particular - he’s got a major fight against this one reality that’s giving him problems. Splitting versions of himself off into other realities isn’t going to help him with that.
- Would going back many generations and killing one of Legacy’s ancestors cause a split? Yeah. Some other thing might happen in place of the Parsons line as we know it, but it’d definitely be a different reality.
- Can OblivAeon time travel? I think you mean “Could OblivAeon time travel?” and the answer was yes. Of course, nobody could travel beyond that gaping black nothing once OblivAeon’s plan was put in motion because until the heroes defeated it there was no future.
- So, OblivAeon destroyed the Telenovella-verse, which means that there was another reality sufficiently similar to it to mutually annihilate - what reality could possibly have been similar enough? What does OblivAeon actually do to make realities similar to one another before he jumps ship? How does this kind of destruction work - instantaneous or over a period of minutes/hours/days/years? Think two different channels - one tuned to Telemundo and another to Univision. Alternately, he took the Telenovella-verse and the Bollywood-verse and just tweaked them until they were similar enough. Anyway, he doesn’t have to leave an imploding reality - that process won’t affect him. Reality destruction like this is instantaneous (and “brutal”) rather than a slow decay. This universe in particular, we see on the relevant card that whatever it is that OblivAeon needs to happen here involves him killing Dr. Medico and Writhe. To be a bit more serious, there must have been some other reality out there that was similar enough to the Telenovella-verse that a few tweaks was all that was necessary. We don’t see a lot more of what OblivAeon does in these cases; he just shows up, does a thing, and the universe implodes. The Telenovella-verse is interesting, but it’s really just a plot device to showcase this.
- What can you tell us about Telenovella-verse Guise? You can’t handle him.
- [Ok, you really need to listen to the bit that starts at 22:05 and runs through 28:55 that BPW - Bloodsworn Professional Wrestling has prompted, where the guys go into Scion vs. Scion fights in “color commentary” style (complete with soundtrack for the first one - thanks, Trevor!). They make a point of saying that they’re not legally able to give insider information and that sports betting is something you shouldn’t do based on their comments here (they prompt a lawyer patron in the chat to write up a quick disclaimer for them as well - this shows up from the end of the bit through 29:24).]
- Dark Mind vs. Voidsoul (with Aeon Girl present as the ref): Voidsoul has reach and experience. Dark Mind is more committed to the fight, though. Dark Mind’s been doing some reality jumping for a while now, but Voidsoul has been around for eons. That’s right, Voidsoul has been a loser for eons. Everyone likes an underdog, though.
- Voss vs. Aeon Master and his Aeon Men in a one-vs.-many battle royale: So, Voss doesn’t have an army to stand behind, but he’s a great at machination. Aeon Master is largely the mindless thing that just sends wave after wave of minions against the enemy. It’s obvious who’s going to win this one, right? Goes without saying, really.
- Nixious vs. Borr the Unstable: Probably a draw. Nixious pushes Borr to the exploding point which results in a double elimination.
- Faultless vs. Sanction: Adam goes Faultless - Sanction is just a robot and so unsuited to stand up to a primordial force of the Universe. Christopher counters that sure, but Faultless is a failed primordial force of the universe. The Celestial Tribunal had been going around from planet to planet destroying everything and now Sanction has a bunch of OblivAeon power in addition to the “robot” stuff. What’s Faultless accomplished lately? You’re emo former-Singular Entity is not ready for this murder (more than) machine. Omnitron wishes that it has what Sanction has.
- Empyreon vs. Progeny in a steel cage (as the first match, just to get the crowd going with this utter beatdown): Yeah. This is just a hype match with Empyreon going down.
- In Adam’s home RPG game streams, a character used “Multitask” to attempt two Overcome actions and rolled twice (once for each action); there’s also a Red zone Ability “Inspiring Totem” that lets a hero take a Basic Action with the Mid die whenever they use an Ability Action - how many times does a player roll their die pool when using “Multitask” or “Flexible Stance” (the way Adam ruled it to work or the way implied in the text of “Inspiring Totem” where you roll once and just look at the appropriate die for each effect)? If the former, how do you determine which die to count as the Mid result for “Inspiring Totem?”If you take an Action, you roll your Dice Pool once. Period. There is never a situation where you take an Ability and roll twice. If the Ability says to take multiple actions, you’re always just looking at that same roll result. Adam just made a mistake regarding the rules-as-written, but as a GM it’s part of your job to keep things moving. Getting bogged down in looking up little rules like that is something you should try to avoid, so it’s understandable to just run with things when they come up and just look it up later for future instances.
- How much information about Freedom Academy will be in the core rulebook vs. in later supplements? How big is the teaching staff (the 6 members of the Sentinels of Freedom plus Time-Slinger?)? How many new/minor/unpowered heroes teach? Is Larry Hillburn head janitor? Does Pinion teach magic or does she not feel up to the task? Lots of info in both the core book and later ones, especially in the Urban Settings book that will likely have more info about the faculty and whatnot. They would point out that the Sentinels of Freedom have 5 members - Heritage is teaching, but he’s not on the team. The Sentinels of Freedom book is about that group of 5 heroes or subsets of those 5 or including students, stuff like that. It’s not as neatly-defined as the Freedom Five were.
- How many light bulbs does it take Setback to screw in a light bulb? Like, how many does he go through before finding one that works as you’d expect when replacing a broken one? Setback can function in normal life. Most times when he changes a light bulb it works just like you’d expect. Occasionally something will go wrong and very rarely somehow things will go better than you’d expect (like he turns it on and it bursts because there were some gold coins hidden in there or something). He doesn’t live a nonstop slapstick life - that only happens when it’s important to the story. A more interesting question might be “How many light bulbs does he change before one goes poorly?” If we imagine a scenario where he has 200 that he needs to change all in a row, the odds of him making it through all 200 without something going off the rails are very low.
- Let’s say that the Fence and the Muscle are captured by non-crooked Megalopolis cops and put in separate rooms - they know that the Organization will break them out, but the timing will depend on how they behave (if neither says anything they’ll get broken out in about a year, if one snitches he’ll be left for the full 8-year sentence while the other gets broken out almost immediately, and if both talk they’ll both stay in 3 years before getting broken out); of the two, which keeps their mouth shut and what does the Operative do to both of them for getting caught in the first place? The way that you’ve set this up doesn’t really work (they get what you were going for, but there’s no incentive to snitch because of the reversal you’ve done), but let’s work through this. Neither the Fence nor the Muscle are selfless. If it was one of them and the Operative who were caught, the non-Operative member would talk immediately so that the Operative would get out right away. The way this would work out in the logic of the setting, however, is that if you snitch you’re murdered in prison the next day. Because of the way the Organization works, neither would talk and just take the year - that’s like something of a vacation. Sure, it’s prison, but it’s Megalopolis prison and we’ve got people in there. Nobody’s going to mess with Organization middle-management. Operative probably doesn’t come for you just because you got caught. Everyone gets caught eventually. The problem is if you get caught too frequently or because of a grievous mistake, that could see the Fence get broken out after his year on the inside to find that there’s a new Fence and he’s been demoted back to Thief (if they bother breaking him out early at all).
- When Dark Watch head out for a mission and Harpy boards the Dark Watch-copter, do Huginn and Muninn get one carry-on apiece? Adam refuses to acknowledge this question.
- In the Minions/Henchlings episode you went through Villain decks, but not Environments for the most part - singling one out, what are the benefits available for Court of Blood members? Health, life, and dental - you don’t need the first two, but while vampire teeth are magically healthy, there’s still a chance of a vampire hunter knocking them out of your face entirely and vampires need their teeth, so they’ve probably got full-coverage dental (sure, it’s probably magical replacement rather than going to a dentist, but still).
- A Court of Blood member killing a minion in a fit of rage: common, uncommon, or rare? Rage is rare. That one lady kills her husbands, who probably qualify as “minions”, but that’s more out of boredom than anything.
- Anybody working for them that get paid in a more traditional manner? Eh… They pay in “power” - if you do something for them (which could happen), you’re getting some kind of power out of it, which could probably be a double-edged sword down the line. Any payment they take would likely just be in continued anonymity/autonomy. They don’t want to be beholden to anyone else, but like having others beholden to them.
- Paid vacation time? Not really “vacation” since they’re not really “working”. The Court is kind of a permanent vacation for them as it is.
- Any minions particularly infatuated with Blood Countess Bathory (or any of the others)? “Everyone’s thirsty for the Blood Countess… Bloodthirsty.” There’s a definite theme of sexuality to vampires in general, so use your imagination.
- Robot Pirates or Pirate Robots (I think that the former is somebody who engages in piracy of/against robots and the latter are robots who engage in piracy)? To get at this they consider the case of if Omnitron-X becomes a pirate - Adam would call that a Pirate Robot or a Robotic Pirate. Christopher thinks he’d default to Robot Pirate. Adam’s rationale is that he would put the descriptor of the thing being pirated (in terms of location or object) before the word Pirate, so a “Space Pirate” is a pirate operating in space, so a Robot Pirate is somebody who pirates robotic stuff. Christopher counters that he wouldn’t say “Pirate Dwarf” to describe a Dwarf who is a pirate. Preference goes to “Dwarven” Pirate, but barring that it’s still Dwarf Pirate. In short, this is a weird snarl of linguistics.
- Can the Green Grosser engineer plants to move and act, just as Minonions? Sure.
- Are there any minion groups more inclusive than the Cult of Gloom (Dawn requires you to have powers, Zhu Long requires you to be a ninja, the Organization requires you to be in Rook City, etc.)? Hey, now. Zhu Long doesn’t require you to be a ninja, just that you be utterly subservient to him and the rest is training. The barrier of entry to get into the Cult of Gloom is probably higher than the Organization if you’re in Rook City, but yeah, beyond that the Cult’s probably easier. The trick is that the Cult of Gloom will probably accept a lot of people for adhering to its tenets (even accidentally), but being a cult member is probably harder. It’s not like they’re holding membership drives or anything - they’re more likely to hand-pick individuals who show promise to indoctrinate rather than accepting all comers/handing out brochures.
- You said that Biomancer wouldn’t hire minions, but what about the minor villains in Lightspeed? Might be better to say that he doesn’t generally do so, but he did manipulate those three bozos for that one story, sure.
- Could Biomancer make a Gene-bound fleshchild? If he had a reason to need to infiltrate Voss’ army, he could make a fleshchild that looked/acted like a Gene-bound without actually being bound to Thorathians.
- Is the Meta-verse part of the Multiverse (and how does that jibe with writers “looking into” Universe 1 to tell the stories of what happens there after Voss cuts it off from the Multiverse)? [This also includes an extended bit about how the lack of visibility into Universe 1 is why there are both Universe 1 and Vertex comics as they had to make up an ending to the whole OblivAeon thing blindly.] Within the setting of Sentinel Comics, the Multiverse includes every universe and therefore would include the Meta-verse and our own reality. However, one layer of abstraction up from there, the writers in the Meta-verse are just comic book writers. They aren’t literally looking into another reality to do this stuff. In the ’60s and ’70s there was a trend for writers/artists to show up within the pages of Sentinel Comics themselves (it’s a small group of people and they had fun putting themselves and their friends in there) and that would be the canonical justification for the Meta-verse being in the Multiverse. Adam and Christopher do see into other realities though, even the sealed off one “because we’re functionally gods. Don’t quote us on that.” - Adam Rebottaro, October 2019.
- You’ve said that the main theme from Handelabra’s SotM video game is supposed to be from the ’80/’90s TV show, is it the theme for that show? Are other songs from the game present in teh Meta-verse in various places? [obligatory plug for Jean-Marc Giffen who writes the stuff here’s his Twitter, Spotify, Soundcloud, and YouTube pages] In the Meta-verse, there is an alternate reality version (or versions) of Jean-Marc who writes the music for the various shows that wind up very similar to what he’s done for the game here.
- Does Sentinel Comics deal with “real world” stuff (after World War II)? Is the president in the comics the same as the one in the Meta-verse? Are there issues dealing with 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina or other tragedies like that? There would definitely be world events, but the president would always be different. They’d often have celebrities of one stripe or another featured in things occasionally (but with transposes letters in their name like Lay Jeno or something). The SC setting is very much like our reality except in the ways that it’s not. However, they need to be able to do something like “the president has been replaced by aliens” without it being perceived as commentary on the current president. Saying “President Clinton is an alien” is different than “President Hargett is an alien”. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t use fictional characters for stand-ins when making a point occasionally (although writers doing so would be in the minority overall, but it gives cover for them giving heavy-handed commentary as everyone involved can point out that these are fictional characters). There was definitely a 9/11 thing, as would any major world events. All of the major wars/conflicts from WWII on would have been represented if only because that’s what Bunker’s book was about. You could also wind up with a writer who was a fan of some normally-underdog sportsball team that unexpectedly won their sportsball championship including that in the background somewhere.
- In our reality we get big hero vs. hero stories (like Marvel’s Civil War as one example), did Sentinel Comics use that gimmick as well? Not just one-off things like Iron Legacy or the mind-controlled Mr. Fixer, but full team vs. team throwdowns like Prime Wardens vs. Freedom Five, Dark Watch vs. Southwest Sentinels, or Daybreak vs. the Paradigms? There isn’t an event to the extent like in Civil War. A difference between Sentinel Comics and “real” comics is that in the post-’90s era, real comics from the big publishers have really become event-driven and Sentinel Comics never did. A lot of that is just the fact that while comics aren’t dying necessarily they still struggle and they need to do what they feel will drive sales based on the speculator market (which is, for the most part, dead anyway these days), and big crossover events one after another is one way to do that. In the world that Christopher and Adam have made up, the company is established and comfortable enough that they don’t need to chase sales in that way and writers are left to do their own thing for the most part. That’s not to say that events don’t happen - we have Cosmic Contest for hero vs. hero stuff plus events that are spread out a bit like the Voss invasion in the ’80s, Vengeance, and OblivAeon (which was the biggest “event” story ever), but long-form storytelling is preferred over contained events like that. Other “events” for SC don’t really have that “cross over into every title” thing - Iron Legacy certainly didn’t and even Vengeance wouldn’t have crossed over into every title.
- What’s an example of something you “knew” about the internal history of the comics that you had to retcon before you put it in the game/released it to the public? Virtually all of the issue numbers and a lot of the details about when things started (like they may have imagined a character as debuting in the ‘90s, but they had to get pushed back into the ’70s or something). They had Voss’ first appearance in FF #500 or something, way later than he needed to be there. This kind of actually thinking about the timeline happened in two batches. Once back in like 2012 when they just started being much more intentional about choices they made in terms of issue numbers and whatnot and then again in early 2018 with the big Post-it®/spreadsheet project that finally got everything nailed down correctly. They’d had much of it internalized, just not codified until then. In this latter project they rather arbitrarily decided to have things start in May of 1940 with the understanding that they could change that if necessary, but things actually wound up working well with that choice. They can think of more problems with where things happen in the timing (moving the Southwest Sentinels around, for example), but one story issue that came up was that they wound up needing to change Bunker’s early stories. The rationale is that “power armor” like that was an new concept in the novel Starship Troopers and they didn’t want to take credit for that. Pushing Bunker’s introduction before that point meant they needed to adjust things, so he became just a military guy/tank driver in war comics with the classic “Bunker suit” coming later when he got into superhero stories. [The timeline still doesn’t really work out, unfortunately - Starship Troopers (and the serialized version under a slightly different title that preceded it) was published in late 1959, but from what we’ve been told the “first official Bunker suit” appearance was in Justice Comics #148 in August ’52. Even if that’s just meant to be a prototype or whatever and the early Indestructible Bunker issues (which began in November ’52) had Tyler Vance as being still a tank driver, he was at the very least part of the Freedom Five as of August ’57 - over two years prior to the book’s publication. Maybe in the Meta-verse Heinlein just got around to writing it a few years earlier. But that doesn’t get around Cpl. Vernon Carter running around in a suit of powered armor during WWII. I would note, however, that the idea of powered exoskeleton technology (if not “armor” per se) goes back to at least 1917 - see this patent document.] Not everything gets the Heinlein treatment, however. Tachyon is named after a theoretical faster-than-light particle first described in our reality in a 1967 paper, a decade after her showing up with that name in the comics. In the Meta-verse, they decided that the physicist named his theoretical particle after this comics character because of her faster-than-light capability. [Since the word ultimately derives from the Greek word ta??? (tachys) meaning swift/fast/rapid, so either physicist or comics writer could have arrived at this word.]
- Is there going to be another Listener’s Choice Awards episode? Uh… Maybe? The last one was fairly divisive, but they did call the last one an “annual” thing. They might put up a poll somewhere to see about doing one. They’re not opposed to doing one, but they need to know if people want it to happen.
- [Unheard Grace birthday request: “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls.] How would the following people attempt to solve a Rubik’s Cube?
- Unity: She makes a robot to do it for her.
- Setback: He tosses it into the air with one hand over and over. Eventually it just comes down solved.
- Baron Blade: He comes up with some grand complicated plan on how to solve it which involves harvesting some resources from space, which brings along a bunch of dangerous radioactivity and other complications. In any event, it never comes to fruition and the cube remains unsolved.
- Wager Master: He pits a bunch of heroes against one another in a competition to solve it, but as it turns out it’s unsolvable [this is easy to do with a standard cube by removing one piece from the cube, rotating it, and putting it back].
- Plague Rat: He eats it.
- In the Wraith’s Rogue Gallery episode, we learn about Roman “Valentine” Valentino who has the power to affect people’s emotions, making them like him; who would be resistant to his powers (Omnitron-X because robot, Setback because of his already positive outlook/disposition towards people, NightMist because of magic stuff, Visionary because of the strong mental powers of her own, etc.)? What does Valentine think of the Bunker/Wraith relationship? Setback would be like “Valentine? That guy is the best! Just the best!” He seems especially vulnerable to this to start with and would stan hard for this guy up until he did something that would show that he wasn’t this guy in Setback’s head, at which point he’d switch just as hard to the other direction. Visionary might not be as immune as you’d think as it’s an emotional thing and is explicitly not “mind control”. They could see her getting sucked in at first and having to snap herself out of it - but she also may never have ever encountered this guy. Maybe Tempest because of his alien physiology. Scholar is very in touch with his emotions and might be able to recognize it in a “I know how cool I think you are, but you’re doing a thing. That makes you a little less cool.” Christopher starts thinking Chrono-Ranger would shake it off, but then decided that no, he’d think that Valentino guy is a real straight shooter, etc. It’s pretty entertaining at around 1:13:05. He doesn’t like the Wraith/Bunker thing - he legitimately fell for her and she doesn’t reciprocate.
- [Darth Pseudonym birthday request: “Intergalactic” by The Beastie Boys - that’s two, so singing commences at 1:15:44 - Christopher also brings up a Daft Punk/Beastie Boys mashup album]