The Letters Page: Editor's Note 41
Our first remote live editor's note! The audio quality is better than we feared it would be, but it's still not up to Trevor-approved-quality!
Run Time: 1:13:00
Christopher's doing pretty well, but Adam's spiraling into chaos. If nothing else, this means that the more things change, the more they stay - in some small ways - the same.
Next month is May, which means it's Adam's birth-month! Celebrate! Here's the schedule for the month of partying:
- Tuesday, May 5th: Episode #143 - Writers' Room: Unity and Omnitron (X or U)
- Tuesday, May 12th: Episode #144 - Writers' Room: post-Bloodsworn Sky-Scraper
- Tuesday, May 19th: Editor’s Note #42
- Tuesday, May 26th: Episode #145 - Writers’ Room: Leviathan
We talked about a bunch of things this Editor's Note, including but not limited to:
- OblivAeon, of course
- The Sentinels of Freedom video game, now on Steam! Go check it out!
- Absolute Zero
- Romance. Around the 41 minute mark, Amelia Ryans in the live chat made a Tinder profile for Absolute Zero. Here it is:
- Theories of How the Multiverse Works
- Sentinel Comics in other properties
- Todd Lito
- Parse in Rook City
- Un-super heroes
- Fake comic book backstory organization methods
- and more!
Get your questions in for those upcoming topics! And thank you to all of our Patreon supporters - we do this for YOU!
- Since the meta-verse is in the Multiverse, and Guise can see into it (or at least he believes that he can), but we also see him “interacting” with our reality (see his episode of this very podcast) which means that our reality is also in the Multiverse (well, all realities are in the Multiverse, we just don’t see all of them in the comics) - given that the meta-verse is basically the same as ours only with a the existence of Sentinel Comics as the dominant publisher and further changes based on that in particular, is it different enough from our reality to keep them from annihilating one another? Why didn’t OblivAeon attack the meta-verse and meta-meta-verse? Who’s to say that he didn’t - Christopher and Adam certainly felt attacked during the production process of the OblivAeon content. They called on others, just as the heroes did - the GTG folks to get the games out and then to all of us who have fought to defeat OblivAeon in the game. It’s just a much more mundane sort of battle.
- Sometimes OblivAeon’s touch is subtle, was the creation of Sentinels of the Multiverse an attempt to make the two meta realities more similar to one another? Are you Scions? Is Paul one whose scheme was to push the two of you to create Greater Than Games in the first place? If that was his tactic, he probably would have had to push for SotM to exist back in the 1920s or so. They’re not worried about reality ending because of the “existence” of Sentinel Comics here.
- Or is it that the fact that one is a card game and one is a comics company itself a difference that’s pushing the two realities farther away from one another? Yeah, that’s what they’re doing. By making the game instead of comics they’re protecting reality. You’re welcome.
- You’ve said that Universe 1, in it’s “sandwich bag” container, no longer splits timelines; you’ve also said that Tachyon can run so fast as to go back in time - if Baron Blade were to kill Legacy with a death ray, but then Tachyon ran back in time to push him [or her since “Legacy” is Felicia after OblivAeon] out of the way, what would happen? Well, time travel to prevent Legacy’s death would probably be important enough to branch off a timeline. However, in the post-OblivAeon era, Tachyon would probably kill herself in an attempt to run that fast. As they’ve said, she’s always been able to kill herself with her powers and only her scientific mindset kept that from happening almost immediately. Her speed powers themselves aren’t weaker than they used to be, but where that danger line is has shifted with how much damage she took in the Progeny and OblivAeon fights.
- [Another birthday, see episode 141 but the short version is they’re banking all requests until they can do stuff in the office again. This request is “The Fool on the Hill” by the Beatles.]
- Is there a universe that was just like the main Sentinel Comics universe before OblivAeon such that the writers could write a story about what happened in a universe in which OblivAeon never showed up, but now another 20, 30, 40 or whatever years have passed? That’s not outlandish given that there are infinite universes. The Multiverse is a useful conceit to allow writers to write about just about anything they want.
- Did Voss blipping the Universe thus create a separate but also infinite Multiverse spanning out from the Sentinels Comics universe? No. That’s the point of the “plastic bag”.
- If Tachyon went back in time, would there then be a universe without a Legacy and Tachyon then? Yeah, because Tachyon going back split that out into an alternate timeline. The one she left wouldn’t be returned to by her, and in that one Legacy is dead.
- In Mist Storm, lots of the characters are gathering Oblivion Shards. Where did they all come from? It used to make sense when we thought he was killed in some big explosion…. but now, I’m not sure because Voss pulled out all of the power. Did OblivAeon explode? Every time you damage OblivAeon it creates shards, so the ones there are what’s left from when he was damaged before the split with Universe 1. There are plenty of shards in Universe 1 as well, it just hasn’t become a plot point what that entails yet.
- Would it then create a ‘hole’ in Ur-Space where travelers through the Multiverse from other universes could fall through into Sub-Ur-Space? No, Ur-Space is the hole that Multiverse travelers fall through in the first place.
- How do the lore of the Sentinels of Freedom video game and the main comics/RPG continuity relate to one another? It’s the same setting. The story of the SoF game was written by Christopher and Adam (with a lot of dialogue for it coming from Chris Burton/Braithwhite there at GTG). It’s also fun that this game comes out before the RPG, but there’s stuff in the RPG that you’ll be able to see the a through-line from SoF to it.
- When does the SoF story fit in the overall timeline? Pretty early on in the post-OblivAeon era. They’re going to be doing a preview one-shot adventure for the RPG that ties directly into the SoF story and the issue number there will give you an idea.
- In Sentinels of freedom, why are there 9000 people robbing a single bank and all of them immediately target Bunker when he tries to guard the door? There’s safety in numbers. You want to make sure you have enough guys, right? And if Bunker is blocking the way out, they’re going to need to deal with him anyway.
- How was making the old characters in this new format (I have already made note to myself how some of the characters feel very different from the card game but still feel right for the character)? It was interesting. They gave the Underbite team a bunch of notes about what characters were like and what they could do and there was a bit of push and pull with them on what could be done within the system. The mechanical underpinning of the game is mostly up to Underbite, though, with the story/aesthetics being what they had a hand in. They have an interesting life/job to say the least. They made these characters up in one context, but they’ve iterated on them and redesigned them in like 6 different ways by this point (some of which will never see the light of day - Project Gold could someday, they hope, but who knows) and seeing the different facets of a character that emerge when you’re fitting them into a new system is always interesting.
- [The Cult of Gloom said in chat that “if the Cult of Gloom is in Sentinels of Freedom I’ll get over my worry that the game play genre is not for me and buy it right this very second,” but they had to let him down easy that the Cult of Gloom/GloomWeaver isnt’ in chapter 1 of the game.]
- How does Fright Train make his ChooChoo sound? Sometimes he just yells it, but he also has a steam whistle built into the suit.
- What were the peaceful protestors protesting before the terrorists infiltrated the protest? Government oversights or the lack thereof. One of those.
- How did you guys end up choosing Underbite to do this game? They approached Christopher at Origins in 2016(?) saying that they love their games/setting and that they were interested in making a game, but not a port of an existing one. What kind of game would you like to make? An the answer is that he would love a Fire Emblem or Shining Force kind of tactical game set in Sentinel Comics. “We can do that.” “Show me.” And that’s what they’ve been doing ever since. They just wound up removing the grid-based movement those older games had partway through development.
- What’s the upper limit of Absolute Zero’s suit? Unless it’s pretty high (relative to the 0k of AZ himself) how could the Yeti shrug it off so easily? They don’t think that AZ is actually operating at absolute zero anymore (his backstory states that he was reduced to that point during the initial cryo-explosion, but now his core temp is merely “very low”). While AZ is immune to cold, Yeti is only very cold resistant, so there’s probably something that AZ could do that would hurt him. Yeti could survive being encased in a block of ice, which wouldn’t go well for most other people, but AZ could impale him on an ice spike and that’s till a severe stab wound, even if the fact that it’s ice wouldn’t bother him in itself.
- If AZ’s body temp really is 0k, does that mean that he always feels at least a little warm since it’s impossible to actually reach that point through refrigeration? Is his actual body temp more like 30k? That’s what they mentioned just above. They’re not going to put a specific value on it, but he does have a low, but non-zero body temp. The suit isn’t so much keeping the cold in, but keeps the heat of the environment out. A more interesting question might be what the upper bound of the suit’s ability to resist heat is. It’s pretty high - certainly higher than how much heat a normal person could handle, but if he falls into a volcano he’s going to have a bad time.
- Where there any Citizens that particularly befriended AZ or actively opposed him joining (would there be pressure to make him Citizen Winter, making the existing one jealous)? Well, this question presupposes that they actually made up the rest of that story when they actually stopped once they handed it off to Citizen Dawn in the first place, so this is kind of a topic for an episode in itself where they make up the rest of it.
- During the fights with Degenerate, does he approach her on a personal level (AZ seems the kind of guy to have read anarchist philosophy books and so might have more of a chance at getting through to her)? Anarchy isn’t particularly the branch of philosophy he’d have spent a lot of time looking into. He’s probably passingly familiar with it, but he’s not an expert.
- Does Schema eventually develop the means to communicate? What exactly makes it a villain after it shows up again? Is it redeemable? It definitely talks when it shows up. Is it redeemable? Is anyone?
- Does AZ have any chance for future romance? Even if he found somebody able/willing to deal with his powers, would he want to open up again after his past tragedy? They’ve mentioned that he’s dabbled in online dating. Also, it’s comics so there’s always a chance. Somebody able to handle his powers could be invented specifically for this reason. People try to make this sort of thing happen in Argent Adept stories even though it’s well established that he’s not interested (fans: “But maybe this time…?”).
- Why is Schema after AZ’s suit in particular and not the Bunker suit or Wraith’s gadgets/computer? Does it have something to do with the fact that AZ himself is a great heat sink for processors? How much of a person is Schema? Does it reason and process emotion? It goes after AZ because it’s an AZ villain. Different writers have explored different reasons (it’s personal, it wants the super-cooling system, it was originally part of the AZ suit’s systems and so that’s what’s familiar, etc). Sometimes they’d have it infect other tech, but the main thing it does is Absolute Zero. From our human perspective, it certainly seems like it’s personal, but as an alien AI, it’s ultimately somewhat inscrutable. Likewise, it seems to reason and process emotion. It has what we’d consider a personality, but that’s an emergent behavior that develops over time.
- Anything ever happen between AZ and Degenerate (her powers are taking off his clothes… just sayin’)? They read Degenerate as being an “angry, angsty teen” and AZ is a middle-aged dude, so that would be weird. She might be early-to-mid 20s in age, but she’s immature, while AZ has been an old man for a long time. No, nothing has happened in the comics between them.
- Refrigeration puts out a lot of heat; does Absolute Zero’s suit give off any heat from the cooling needed to keep him at temperature, or is the suit just designed to insulate him? It’s primarily an insulation suit, but it does do some active cooling and the waste heat is what’s represented by some of the fire damage he does in-game. They don’t think that there’s any part of the suit that would be hot to the point where it would hurt a person, but it might feel hot in general.
- Shouldn’t AZ have an Ice-Sickle (a scythe made of ice)? That’s pretty good. Adam gave the Halloween version of him one as he was the “Chill of Death”.
- Since Sentinels of Freedom is canon, when I make The Scholar and put him into the game, that means it’s like he never died, right? The overall story is canon, but the player characters are your own creations and that’s great. It’s great that you made up somebody who’s so similar to an existing character.
- [This next letter is one that was convoluted enough that I decided to just punt on summarizing it and just asked Christopher to forward its text to me.]
Greetings creators of n-dimensional beings and the Singular Entities that love them,
Here’s a unified theory of the Sentinel Comics Multiverse. It’s kind of complicated and I’m including a link to a video that explains the theory better than I might. Also, if you’re going to read this on the podcast, you might want to drink some water, or do some vocal exercises.
We all understand the first four dimensions: length, width, depth, time.
By understanding the higher dimensions, you can get an explanation for the mutliverse, the Void, Ur Space and even the sandwich bag.
The fifth dimension is the medium that you use to travel through your own timeline, just like when you fold a piece of paper through the third dimension to have two points in a two-dimensional plane touch each other. That’s a metaphor to keep in mind. That’s what Chrono-Ranger is traveling through, because he’s just traveling inside a timeline.
Next, the sixth dimension is what you fold through to travel to a different timeline. It’s presumably what La Paradoja Magnficia is sailing through when she’s going to alternate timelines. So you can use the 6th dimension to travel from this timeline to another 4th dimensional timeline that is like ours, but where different events occurred. So we could go to the timeline where Christopher likes being called Chris, or even possibly, the metaverse where Sentinel Comics are published.
The seventh dimension therefore contains all possible timelines that started with the Big Bang to all possible end states of the universe.
So if you’ve got all possible timelines, that’s got to be it? Except its not. That’s a multiverse, but there’s more than one multiverse.
Because the 8th dimension encompasses all possible timelines with different laws of physics. Prior to this, if you went to another timeline, the laws of physics are the same. So, starting in our timeline, you couldn’t travel to any timelines where where super-powers work. You’d need a Paradoja MAS Magnifica that can can travel from one multiverse to another seven dimensional location where the laws of physics allow all of the wonderful insanity of a super-heroes.
So that’s what the Sentinel Multiverse is - a point in seven dimensional space that contains all of the timelines that we listeners are obsessed with - Universe Zero, the Vertex Timeline, Iron Legacy, Disparations, Animated Universes , Telenovelaverse, and so on.
This means that what OblivAeon was trying to do was collapse all of the timelines in the Multiverse into a single timeline. Or, compressing a seven dimensional multiverse into a four dimensional timeline. But what ended up happening was that Voss wrapped Universe Zero in a five dimensional sandwich bag, keeping it nice and fresh like bread.
By the way, this also happens to nicely explain how one multiverse can be threatened by OblivAeon while out there in another 7 dimensional multiverse, the heroes of other super-hero universes (because other super-hero universes have different laws of reality than the Sentinel Multiverse) are instead worrying about Shanty-Schmonitors.
And above the 8th dimension would be the 9th dimension that touches all other dimensions, including ones with radically different laws of reality. Sounds like a certain Jelly-like substance? Right. What Tachyon might call the 9th Dimension, the Argent Adept would call the Void. (In fact, there must be a timeline where they did have that conversation.)
So above the 9th dimension would be a 10th dimension which encompasses all possible timelines of all possible multiverses. And that, my friends is what Singular Entities might call Ur-Space.
This model gives you some interesting ideas. Like Guise must have 8-dimensional perceptions if he can look through from his reality to the Metaverse. It’s possible the Metaverse is in the Multiverse, but since it’s a universe that doesn’t have super-heroes, just better taste in comics and animated films, it could be in our Multiverse.
It also helps describe Singular Entities. They must be eight dimensional beings (in the way that we are 4-dimensional beings), able to move through the Multiverse the same way we can move in 3-dimensional space.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, and thank you again for making great games.
- Response: “Yeah, that all scans. That’s actually one of the better explanations of the stuff that we’ve said.”
- Given that Sentinels characters have crossed over into other games (say, Bottom of the 9th and Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game), where there comics story tie-ins as well? Does Ra help Harry solve mysteries and whatnot? What’s it mean to be a superhero a world without superpowers? The baseball stuff is based on events in comics (games have been mentioned, the Rook City Renegades are a team in-setting, there’s stuff that happens there in the Champion Studios deck). In the Dresden Files game, Ra appears, but it’s a different guy (one Hank Walker takes up the staff for this iteration - apparently Adam hadn’t put it together that this is an alternate version of Mr. Fixer). As for a world without superpowers - they’d argue that the Dresden setting definitely has superpowers, they’re just not couched in terms of comics-style superheroes. “Mortal taking up the powers of an ancient immortal deity” fits right in with Dresden stuff.
- Does the Todd Lito company still exist at the time of the OblivAeon crossover? Yes, but they’ve changed in ways that they can’t talk about right now in detail. They are working on another radio play episode, but it might not happen for quite a while (maybe this year).
- Why does Parse go after the boots-on-the-ground part of the problems in Rook City rather than, say, the Chairman given that he seems like taking him out would be a more efficient way to fight crime? When she first started out, her story wasn’t about her ability to see the truth of everything - it’s an informed aspect of her powers, but she just used it to fight crime and be awesome. The implications of her powers being used for more big picture stuff is why she winds up being a space hero for a while. The easy answer is that the early stories were just about her fighting crime; a more in-setting one is maybe just that she doesn’t have/couldn’t get access to the Chairman.
- So, Parse vs. Wraith just wasn’t a good match-up for the latter, but what about Parse vs. Mr. Fixer or the Operative who might be more used to being adaptable in a fight? Parse vs. Operative would probably be a pretty well-matched fight. Parse vs. Mr. Fixer would go Fixer’s way. He’d likely quickly suss out what her deal is. He’d be in one stance and she’d see what his weakness is and would move to take advantage of it, at which point he’d change stances and would have a different weakness. This would be confusing to her. Of course, it would also depend on the story being told - if the point was “Parse takes down some martial artists” that would play out differently than “Mr. Fixer is so in-control that he doesn’t have a weakness.”
- It’s been said that “the difference between a villain and a supervillain is presentation” - are there any Sentinels villains that just don’t have what it takes to be super? They don’t really think of the Chairman as a supervillain - he keeps things pretty low-key. They disagree on Equity - Adam thinks he qualifies, but Christopher thinks that his lack of significant plots disqualifies him. Adam thinks that being an actor in somebody else’s schemes doesn’t disqualify as he can think of established characters who fit that description who also work as supervillains. That being said, they don’t really think there are distinctions between “heroes and superheroes” or “villains and supervillains”. The individual stories determine if it’s supervillainy or not.
- [As part of the above, they actually mentioned that they “don’t have any supervillains” which prompts a chat question of how Baron Blade doesn’t qualify - the answer is the complicated matter of Trademark Law and the fact that Marvel and DC “own” the terms for trademark purposes. They can say it in passing, but they can’t use the terms in any kind of branding/products.]
- As a fan of bad heroes (not anti-heroes or similar - heroes who are bad at being heroes/bad at using their powers/have such strange powers that you wonder why they bother donning the spandex; a favorite is Dogwelder - are there any such characters in Sentinel Comics? Setback comes to mind. His powers are questionable at best. He’s become the hero he is more on his will and personality than because of his powers which, frankly, mostly cause problems. Most characters of this type wouldn’t be the kind to rate appearances in the products they’ve made. “To break kayfabe a bit, we don’t have a Great Lakes Avengers.” Setback isn’t what this question was asking, but he’s the closest that we have so far. [I mean, guys like Pool Shark that will be in the Guise RPG book seems like this kind of thing to me.]
- You’ve said that you don’t want to make a “Marvel to our DC”, but were there any heroes in Sentinel Comics that were originally characters owned by smaller comics companies that got absorbed by SC over the years? That’s the sort of thing that will be in the History of Sentinel Comics book, but they don’t want to go into it a lot right now. They don’t necessarily want to avoid making the major competitor to SC, they just don’t want to do it on air as it would involve about as much work as they’ve already put into this whole enterprise. If it happens, it’ll happen behind closed doors until its ready.
- What suggestions/detail about your process can you give to somebody who’s been creating their own fictional comics company history? They have folders upon folders of images that aren’t great for this aspect of it as they’re all organized by product-line. They’ve got a lot of Google Docs where they have “everything about a character” recorded, but by far the most important things they have is the timeline spreadsheet. They have just sequential months/years for the columns, titles down the side for the rows, and the cells have the issue numbers that correspond to the intersections. They add notes to each issue’s cell to describe what goes on there.
- [Last letter, from Brian Jewett at around 1:06:05 - much like Rabit’s last month, it’s a heartfelt one touching on the tough times we’re all dealing with and how the podcast has been something to look forward to/brighten our days and how great it’s been to have a connection to creators like this. They return the sentiment as the connection to their “readers” has also been great.]