Podcasts/Episode I-42

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The Letters Page: Editor's Note 42

Original Source

Intro

A long Editors Note mostly about Sentinel Comics: the Roleplaying Game!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 2:11:38

Adam's birth month continues! Also, we just released the preview of the SCRPG core rulebook to the Kickstarter backers last week, so we celebrated with an episode with SO MANY questions about the game!

Here's the upcoming schedule:

  • Tuesday, June 2nd: Episode #146 - Writers' Room: Citizens Hammer & Anvil
  • Tuesday, June 9th: Episode #147 - Writers’ Room: Day in the Life: Bunker
  • Tuesday, June 16th: Episode #148 - Creative Process: D-List Heroes
  • Tuesday, June 23rd: Editor’s Note #43
  • Tuesday, June 30th: Episode #149 - Writers’ Room: Disparation: Anime/Manga

Catch you next time!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Preliminaries

  • The full version of the RPG core book is out to Kickstarter backers. This isn’t quite the “final” version (which will be available to the Backerkit folks and eventual retail PDF), but we get to see a lot more of it to ask questions about here (as well as get a lot of backlog questions answered) as well as crowdsource another round of proofreading.
  • One thing they’re aware of is that a bunch of people are likely to read it and realize that this isn’t the game for them, and that’s ok. I mean, it makes Christopher feel bad that people don’t enjoy it like he hoped they would, but it’s not like they haven’t had the Starter Kit, other preview materials, the RPG livestreams to show some actual play, and whatnot to try to give people a way to tell this ahead of time. They feel like it’s better to really nail a particular niche/vibe for the game than to try to make something that will appeal to everybody to the detriment of those things. That was true of SotM as well.

Questions

  • We know that Aeon Girl is (indirectly) made from left over OblivAeon energy and that OblivAeon Shards are part of his body (with the Vertex timeline indicating that Bad Things™ happen if too many of them are in one place) and that Progeny entities are manifestation of the will of OblivAeon and that many of these were planted on planets throughout the Multiverse; are any Progenies left after OblivAeon? Do they remain dormant/could they awaken? Would they be independent actors at that point or still trying to fulfill OblivAeon’s objectives? Could somebody using some of the other left-over OblivAeon power/stuff control them? To recap, the three “parts” of OblivAeon to keep in mind are his Will, his Energy, and his Physical Body. The Physical parts that are left are the OblivAeon Shards. The Energy parts are what’s left in Aeon Girl. The Will would be any lingering Progeny “seeds”. Could those seeds do anything on their own? No. Could somebody else do something with them? Anything’s possible. Assuming that somebody knows enough about everything. Letters Page listeners have way more knowledge about this stuff than anybody in-setting would.
  • When you were describing OblivAeon Engines you mentioned that they channel OblivAeon’s energy and that when one was about to explode Sky-Scraper shrunk it along with herself in a bid to minimize the destruction, but what is the purpose of the Engines in the first place? What is OblivAeon using them to do? Much like OblivAeon’s plans in general, they’re kind of inscrutable, but the gist is that he sets them up to channel his energy to do something so that he can then move on to do other stuff elsewhere. It’s a way for him to split his focus/attention. Sometimes they might just be rigged to blow up (because destroying a place helps his goals somehow) or maybe they just “destabilize” things or are meant to tie up combatants that would oppose him otherwise.
  • So, if you can’t time-travel post-OblivAeon, what are Chrono-Ranger and La Comodora/La Capitan doing? They… don’t. La Comodora sees a point past which she can’t time-travel and that gets her moving on opposing/defeating OblivAeon in the first place. In their subjective pasts they were able to travel to the future beyond the OblivAeon event, but once that event “starts” it kind of becomes something like a Fixed Point and can no longer be traveled past.
  • In the Meta-verse, how long did it take for them to get past all of the lingering OblivAeon questions? Forever. Plenty of events moving forward would still spark another round of “Wait a minute, does this relate back to OblivAeon?” Usually the answer is no, but not always.
  • What was the sweetest OblivAeon-branded piece of merch in the Meta-verse? Probably the OblivAeon snack cakes. They were pretty sweet. The “OblivAeon Shard” fruit snacks (which were kind of like Gushers™) were also pretty good. There was also an OblivAeon Multiverse Crush, a sugary drink that came in a bunch of different flavors, but you didn’t know which you had until you opened it.
  • In a prior episode you said that a time traveler on par with La Comodora could travel from post-OblivAeon back to before OblivAeon; if one existed and then did so, would they be stuck in the past? So many hypotheticals involved in dealing with somebody having a level of power/control that nobody has anymore… If it’s more of a post-cognition thing and they’re just viewing the past instead of actually going there they’re likely pretty safe (unless OblivAeon notices them and pulls them through time). Adam’s half-cheating answer really comes down to what the story is that you’re telling. If he was telling a story involving time travel in this scenario, he’d probably make it a one-way trip, like Visionary.
  • We have mentioned the “unmentioned scions” now; was there a specific count that were later collected and set as scions or is it more of an “oh, that character was probably a scion”? Was there a definite list of scions? There is a list of Scions and they even know of a few that they’ve created but haven’t told us about yet. They’re not going to say what they all were now to leave themselves room to create “new” ones that would have existed in-continuity like they did with Sever, but also because a thing that would definitely happen in comics would be for some writer out in 2023 or something would make up a new character who was a Scion, but isn’t anymore. So, any list they gave could only be “this is all of the Scions that we know about so far.” A large degree of the success that Adam and Christopher have had as storytellers can be attributed to their tendency to leave the door open for themselves to do more later. That’s also true of comics writing in general. The doors they do close are always done with a great deal of intention behind it and, inevitably, the fandom gets all up in arms about it (NightMist and Scholar come to mind).
  • So first a Wager Master plush with a knife and now OblivAeon Shard fruit snacks; what other Singular Entity merch is there? There’s only one more, but it’s all of them at once. Maybe Bloodsworn brand steaks. They’re not going too deep in these weeds.

RPG Stuff

  • Ok, before they get into the RPG segment of today’s episode, a disclaimer: Dave isn’t there. While Christopher worked on it enough to legitimately be a “designer” of the game, Dave’s the lead designer and is the real expert in terms of rules. If Christopher and Adam say one thing and Dave says another, he’s right, not them. That goes for the rule book too - if something is spelled out in the rules, but they’re contradicted by what C&A say here, defer to the rules. Anything they say is their interpretation of the rules and they get stuff wrong sometimes (including in a past episode here, if no questions come up Christopher will circle back to that before closing things out today). Adam’s interpretations are often based on “feel” and Christopher has a problem in that the game went through multiple iterations while he was also juggling several other projects and so he might be thinking of rules as they existed at some time in the past rather than the actual book. They do their best to explain things, but if there’s a contradiction between what they say and the rules or stuff that Dave says, trust the rules or Dave. What they are the final arbiters of is the story of the canon setting.
  • In the “Guided Method, Step By Step” info in Chapter 3 we see the progress of a character who also appears in the Chapter 3 header image [they break in here, that’s a different guy], would the character’s name and stats have been used in the examples if the Time-Slinger stretch goal hadn’t been met? Who is he and what’s his deal? No, this guy wouldn’t have been used if Time-Slinger hadn’t gotten in. This is a good thing to start with: they put in a lot of art for this book for characters for whom there is nothing further developed at this point. They wanted to inspire the readers to imagine who these people were and what they were like and what they could do from the seeds planted by the images with no further baggage (and they’ve seen this - some people with the preview are talking about how they would stat up certain characters from these undeveloped character art pieces). They might develop some of these people in the future, they might not, but that was the intention for the state of things right now. As for the creative process, this was Adam working with Jenn. She would say something like “I need pieces to illustrate [x thing being described on that page]” and he would just do that thing, creating stuff as he went. This guy on the page in question was just Adam going down the checklist of the character creation process: here’s a construction worker, now he got some stuff on him, now he can lift things, etc.
  • The very next letter is asking about this exact thing (regarding the “Blaster” archetype art where there’s a woman who’s holding the severed hand of a giant mech that she’s pulling on wires to operate as a weapon). She’s “canon” to Sentinel Comics to the same extent that any of these anonymous characters are, which is the same level as any of your characters are. That’s going to be the case for everything other than the stuff that’s explicitly laid out as part of the lore (like the character Archives of Chapter 7). Something that’s probably prompting questions like this is the fact that they tried very hard to make these backstoryless characters still look like they did have some kind of backstory. It’s really easy for superhero stuff to wind up just looking like Superman with the serial number filed off and they wanted to avoid that.
  • Am I correct in thinking that you can assign the same Power to multiple Red Abilities? If you can’t can you at least use your Retcon to add a third Red Ability that does double up on a Power used in one of the others? You can use the same Power or Quality for all of your Red Abilities. That could be risky as there are circumstances where you might not have access to a Power or Quality for a scene. The game encourages diversifying things when you’re building your character, but doesn’t require it. Losing access to your one and only Power can lead to interesting story moments, after all.
  • The Eruption Red Ability says that you can attack up to three targets, but one must be yourself - could you attack just 2 targets, hitting yourself once and the other twice? How about hitting yourself all three times? Each die only hits one target - if you’re only attacking 2 targets, you’re hitting yourself once and one other target once. You can also use it to just hit yourself once and nobody else.
  • So, if you have Eruption and Improved Immunity, the attack that hits yourself for the former heals you instead of hurting you, right (so hitting yourself more than once would be even better)? Well, like they said, you can’t target yourself with more than one of the attacks in Eruption, but yes, those two make a good combo for the reason you mention.
  • [Birthday request, the English version of the Sailor Moon theme]
  • When using the Intangibility power, are you immune to damage? Wouldn’t most mundane attacks pass right through you? The Immunity Green Ability specifies a single Element/Energy type, so how does this work? That’s more something that you’d work out with your GM. Like, if somebody tried to hit Muerto with a pipe while he was intangible they’d probably rule that it hurts him. Not because of the material of the weapon, but because it “disrupts” his form in some way. However, it’s really easy to justify the use of your Intangibility power in a Defend action to let the attack pass through you harmlessly. That being said, if you want to build a character whose shtick is that you can become intangible and therefore be immune to various kinds of attack, you can build with that goal in mind. You can take the same Ability multiple times if you pick your Power Source and Archetypes carefully, so if you want to stack things so that you’re immune to something you can try. The trade-off is that you then have fewer non-immunity-based Abilities at your disposal. If you’re a GM and you think that an attack should damage an intangible character, you can do that. “Damage” doesn’t have to be physical damage to a body or anything - maybe the attack weakens the character’s spiritual connection to the mortal plane or something and the “damage” is the extra focus they have to exert to continue to exist. Your character’s Health isn’t just physical health, but mental, spiritual, or whatever other kinds of “health” that you can think of. There are plenty of attacks in this game that wouldn’t necessarily affect your physical body. Heck, Adam’s seen a person build a character who was completely immune to damage and their Health represented what was going on around them (collateral damage and whatnot) and their Health hitting 0 to put them Out was them breaking down as too much bad stuff had happened.
  • If you have the Speed Power, do you have to do an Overcome to do speed tricks like running across water or up a wall? How about grabbing a thrown knife in midair? Is the Speedster Archetype the only type of character that can do these tricks or could anyone with the Speed Power? Similar questions regarding other Athletic powers - would I always have to roll an Overcome to lift a car if I have Strength? Would you only roll for these things if it’s important in the scene? That last question is where you nail it. This isn’t a game about crunchy stats, it’s about story. Sometimes Spider-man webs a car, pulls it to himself, and throws it at the bad guy. Sometimes Spider-man really has to struggle to lift the car off of somebody. Why the difference? The way it impacts the story. There isn’t a “roll to do Speed tricks” aspect to this game - if you are a speedster character and the GM asks how you’re getting from point A to point B and it makes sense for you to describe your character running across water or up a wall to do so, that’s legit. It also matters how you think about your character’s capabilities. Like, Spider-man might have a die in Speed, but he’s not going to run up a building in the way that a speedster like Tachyon would.
  • A comment we’ve gotten in the past is that a character is “as strong as their roll indicates” (like, somebody with an “untrained” d4 in Strength, but with two other high dice for Quality and Status could still roll an 8+ “Complete Success” on a Strength-based Overcome), but to what extent could a GM rule that “No, Mr. Fixer isn’t strong enough to lift the school bus full of children”? Again it comes down to the story. Is Mr. Fixer going to bench press a car? No. Would he grab onto the bumper of the bus to keep it from rolling over a cliff? Yeah. What’s the Quality and Status to go along with it and how does the roll resolve? That’s where “it makes sense in the narrative” comes in. Maybe you don’t roll his Strength. Maybe what looks like him grabbing the bus and holding it in place with his brute strength is actually him using his martial arts and his chi to connect the essence of the bus down through his body to the concrete at his feet. That’s more interesting and you’re telling a story about how this guy uses his particular shtick to solve the problem. One of Adam’s favorite things in comics is this exchange in *Uncanny X-Men #341 where Cannonball blocks a blow from Gladiator, using his power (a force-field that’s active when he’s using his flight/attack power - it normally just a secondary power that protects him from the damage he’d otherwise take when crashing into his opponent) as what would be a Defend action in the game in a new and creative way. He doesn’t move himself, just activates it long enough to absorb the punch.
  • If you pick up a car with Strength and then throw it at your opponent, does the fact that they were just hit with a car do any additional damage or is it still just the Mid die of your normal pool? This plays out in a few different ways. If it’s just a Basic action Attack, then you’re maybe not doing a great job at this and just clip them with it, or it lands short and so some of the energy is lost before it hits them, or something else in the situation causes it to not do as much as you’d expect. You get your Mid die as usual. Maybe you’re using an Ability that lets you use your Max die instead or that plus some other effect and you flavor that extra damage and whatnot as being because they were hit with a car. The third option could be your basic attack action, but you make it a Risky action to get your Max die instead to model the extra Car damage, but then you’re risking the Twist of throwing a car around causing some other complication in the scene (it explodes and now something important is on fire or whatever). [My favorite way to do this involves having the action center around you picking up the car first - that is, you use your Strength to boost yourself so that you’re next roll has a +X (Throw a Car at them) bonus attached to it. This makes picking up the car seem like a more important action in itself as you imagine a few panels being dedicated to it.]
  • If a character is using their Invisibility power, and the opposition lacks some fool-proof way to see through it, can that character be hit by an attack? Are there hinders/penalties involved in this sort of thing? If you were invisible before the encounter started and they had no means of knowing that you’re there, they’d probably run things as if you weren’t there. Once you take an action, however, that’d alert them to your presence and it’s not impossible to keep tabs on somebody who’s out of your line of sight, so keeping tabs on an invisible opponent isn’t out of the realm of possibility. If you’re not acting in the scene, your team will likely suffer as a consequence, so there are reasons to get involved/give away your presence.
  • If you’re trying to sneak by a guard/villain while invisible, but you lack the Stealth quality would you still need to roll your Overcome to succeed? You’d probably have to roll regardless of having Stealth, but there are other alternative Qualities that could apply - Finesse, Acrobatics, Criminal Underworld Info (say, you’re infiltrating a gang hideout this could indicate that you know what they’d be paying attention to and so can get around them), etc. Tell the story. Justify how you’re applying your Power and Quality. Maybe you have Intimidation and you make some spooky ghost sounds to scare the guards away. They hear people saying stuff like “all of these justifications players use just sound like they’re trying to cheat the system to use their best dice”. That is the system! Players “justifying” how they use their Powers and Qualities is how they’re telling the story.
  • If you have Awareness can you sense Invisible/Stealthy characters easier? At what die level would that kick in? Roll for it. If you think there’s an invisible person around, roll Overcome to find them and use Awareness as your Power. There is no automatic “because I have this power, this thing happens” aspect to this. Invisibility doesn’t make you automatically succeed at sneaking by a guard. Intangibility doesn’t mean that you’re automatically impervious to physical damage. Awareness doesn’t automatically let you notice invisible people. That’s not how this game works. That doesn’t prevent the GM from keying storytelling off of this stuff, though. Like, they might call out that the hero with Awareness notices that somebody just entered the room, but that’s still their storytelling choice rather than something that automatically succeeds every time.
  • If you have an ability that Boosts/Hinders, do you have to come up with a name for the resulting Mod every time or can Legacy just call it Galvanize and be done with it? It’s fun to be flavorful, but it can become difficult to come up with something unique every time. Persistent Mods are probably the more important ones to name because they’re telling you more about what’s going on. This doesn’t have to be something grand, though. If somebody gets “Bonus +2” to use what’s actually going on? If a sorcerer empowers their ally, mystical energy swirling around them to aid their next action, then “swirling mystical energy +2” at least indicates where the +2 is coming from. It doesn’t need to have a specific name for the spell. That being said, if Legacy/Heritage uses Galvanize, you’re fine just calling it Galvanize and being done with it, but because his version of that Ability is specifically Leadership-based, what is he doing to make the team better? A rousing speech to raise their spirits? Giving orders to make the best use of his team’s skills? The description of the action is still important even if the name you give the Mod is general.
  • The Swimming power says that at d8 or higher you can breath underwater, how/when could this “minimum die size” mechanic be applied to other powers? Like, with a high enough Flight power could one “breath” in space? It’s more that if it’s important that your character can fly through space then that’s an established part of your character. If you’ve got Flight at d6, that might not work for “fly through space” on its own, but if you’ve also got Cosmic at d12? That’s more likely to get the green light. All of the mechanics of this game are prompts to get you to tell the story. [I note that beyond any Power connections, Principle of the Sea and Principle of Space exist and allow survival in their respective environments.]
  • Trying to get a handle on what the die sizes represent, a d4 is “untrained” and what you roll if you don’t have an applicable Power/Quality (or just can’t think of a way to apply the ones you have), and d12 is “godlike/world-class”, but is a d6 something that would qualify as “superheroic” levels of power/skill (thinking specifically in terms of the Athletic and some of the Movement Powers here)? Adam says a d6 is probably “heroic” but still within the realm of human ability (well for “mundane” things). Christopher then says that anything at d6 or higher is “superhuman”.
  • Is there a way in the rules to have an opposed roll in some way (which speedster is faster or something - higher die type win or have a roll-off in some way)? You can adjudicate things based on a roll or on die size or however you feel makes sense in the given scene. Additionally, there are rules for inter-hero conflict in the book [look for the Troubleshooting header in chapter 4], but even then it’s still story-focused rather than just being PVP rules.
  • Can Teleport be used on other people? What if they don’t want to be teleported? Overcomes. If you’re attempting to teleport your whole team up to a nearby rooftop, they can easily see that being an Overcome action. For teleporting opponents, is it an attack? Then it’s just an attack roll that’s flavored as you using Teleport to remove them from the fight somehow and how well you roll would determine how much you succeeded. For example, if you are teleporting a minion out of the scene and roll well enough to “destroy” the minion, you’ve just sent them elsewhere and they’re not part of the fight anymore. If you’re teleporting a villain hundreds of feet up in the air, that’s not removing them from the fight in itself and could be an Overcome, but then they’d get a chance to mitigate the fall on their turn.
  • Could the GM give a generic bonus/penalty to a character to indicate that a given task was particularly easy/difficult? They’d generally just have you run things as-is and see if that works for you rather than trying to work through variations like this. Chapter 4 goes into some of the ways you can build challenges and an “easy” one likely just has a single check box to complete it rather than adjusting the Overcome roll itself in some way. More difficult ones likely have multiple check boxes or might even branch, having different outcomes depending on how the heroes approached it initially (say sneaking in rather than kicking in the front door resulting in different numbers of minions present in a later combat). Also keep in mind that the threshold for “success” at an Overcome is really low - rolling a 1 still succeeds if you’re willing to take a Major Twist and taking the twist doesn’t mean that the action wasn’t something really easy to do within the narrative, there’s just some other complication added to the scene. That’s the thing about superhero comics - the heroes are gonna win. Maybe not this issue, but the overall arc of the story is generally one of triumph, but with complications/costs along the way.
  • You’ve said that a goal of the system was that you wanted to be able to model any of the SotM characters, but how would one create Dr. Medico (I’m having trouble finding a good way to make a “healer” character with the system as it is)? How would you go about this? They’ve known that Dr. Medico is this weird outlier in this way for the same reason he was in SotM - they didn’t really want to have a “healer” character, but if they did it’d be something ridiculous like Dr. Medico M.D., yet here we are. They have other books that they want to put out over time and they know that Void Guard would be on the docket for one of them eventually. The point is they want to not put an emphasis on players spending all of their actions healing the others instead of doing more active things, even if in a support role. There are very few characters in comics for whom “healing others” is their main shtick and the lack of that kind of archetype in the core book is intentional, but they imagine they’ll get to it eventually.
  • Will there be mechanics in the RPG that models the villain flip mechanics in SotM, like Omnitron switching between different modes? Villain decks are more about the villain’s overall plot than just the villain (considering that they have minions and other stuff in there). As such, the mode-switching feature that’s represented by card flipping in SotM is more likely to be represented by having the way the Villain is built in the first issue of a story arc be different than the way they’re built in the finale to represent how they’re doing things differently in those two phases of the story. There are certain things that have a built-in “mode” aspect to them (the Titan Archetype, for example), but the main way to approach the change that card flipping represents is story-based as so much else is in this game.
  • Will there be mechanics to represent Nemesis relationships? They debated that, but ultimately decided against it. In the card game, everything that matters for the story also has to be represented in the mechanics, so Nemeses deal +1 damage to one another. In a primarily story-driven game like a tabletop RPG, there’s less need for that kind of representation. You have a nemesis? Great, factor that into your story decisions to build it organically (say, have a villain do something really mean and really personal to a hero - that’ll have the hero’s player treating them like a nemesis real quick).
  • In the Science in the Multiverse episode you said that scientists in-setting had determined that reality was non-Euclidean because of the existence of the Multiverse, did they find reality to be hyperbolic or elliptical (that is, do parallel lines diverge or converge as they approach infinity)? Has this changed in Universe 1 after it was cut off from the Multiverse? So here’s the deal, Adam and Christopher aren’t scientists in the Sentinel Comics universe and so can’t answer this question that they definitely completely understand every part of. Which it is has never come up in the pages of Sentinel Comics and so they, as merely historians of comics that don’t exist, cannot tell you which it is.
  • When using the Guided Method of character creation, which states that you can reroll the dice once in each step of the process, does this also mean that you can reroll the d8 in the health computation of step 7? Yes, but you have to take the new roll.
  • Why do heroes with the Principle of Liberty only get better at freeing themselves and not others? Shouldn’t heroes focus on freeing others before themselves? Have you been on an airplane? You’re always told to affix your own air mask before helping others with theirs, because if you don’t you might end up in a situation where you can’t help anyone. If a hero can’t get free on their own, they can’t free anyone else anyway.
  • Any word on when we’ll get an Archives entry for Fort Adamant? What Fort Adamant? [It was destroyed during OblivAeon.]
  • When will Adam and Christopher both be players in one of the recorded games? Maybe if Paul or Chris were to run one.
  • [This letter has been written in-character] I was awoken at Fort Adamant during the attack from Aeon Master and I seem to have information in my databanks that I don’t recall downloading, almost like I hear whispering of some unknown entity, can this be trusted? I don’t know, does it seem helpful?
  • When creating an action scene the book recommends adding H elements of the desired difficulty, but could it work to swap one element out with two of an easier type to make a “busier” scene without adding to the overall difficulty? Sure, a page or to later it acutally talks about swapping out an element for two of the step below (or replacing two moderate ones with one easy and one difficult). You can also add stuff that you don’t expect/intend to get resolved in the scene.
  • In the April’s Fool episode you gave us the brief for the new Wildlife book, but then you said that there were 19 more and now I want them all, could you read the rest? We got one last week for StarCrossers! They will not do the rest now, but will when they come up naturally. They may also just release a document with them eventually (at the very least they’ll be in the History of Sentinel Comics book because that’s what they wrote them for in the first place). Like, we know that Sentinels of Freedom is a book, but they’re not likely to read the brief for it.
  • If an Attack ability ignores Defend actions, Reactions, and Penalties does a Minion or Lieutenant still roll its save? If the minion/lieutenant normally gets a bonus to its save, does that apply or not? They still get their save, but any bonus would be ignored.
  • If a hero rolls a Hinder action to counter a Bonus on a Villain, but the Villain has a Reaction that triggers when they receive a Penalty, would that Reaction trigger? No, because no Penalty actually applies after the fact. That is, if your Hinder roll would normally create a penalty that is higher than the existing bonus you don’t get to make “change” in this situation - you’re only removing the bonus, nothing more.
  • If a hero is Out due to taking damage, could an Ability that heals damage bring them back into the fight? No, there would have to be some hypothetical Ability that said that it brought an Out hero back and set them to the maximum health of their Red Zone or something.
  • Could a hero with Paragon Feat use it without using the Overcome for anything, just to give their team the Boost effect? The text of that Ability is “Overcome using [power] in a situation that requires you to be more than humanly capable, like an extreme feat of strength or speed. Use your Max+Min dice. Boost all nearby allies with your Mid die.” The Boost is a secondary effect preceded by the Overcome and you can’t Overcome nothing. Surely there’s something around that you can Overcome. Using a Red Zone ability to just give a Mid die Boost to everybody seems like you could find something better to do with your turn. [The way I read the power, you doing something really impressive is giving a morale boost to your team. You have to do something for this to work.]
  • For a hero with super speed, is being in the same Location enough to be “nearby” other actors in the scene? They generally mean “nearby” to be stuff like “in the same room” kinds of distances. They don’t particularly mean for the Speed power to justify expanding that, but work with your GM to figure out what makes sense in the scene.
  • If a hero can redirect an attack that’s made against a hero (as opposed to one made against an ally), can they do so for an attack that’s targeting them? Christopher doesn’t think that there are any abilities that can redirect “an attack made against a hero”.
  • [Long, complicated example from actual play involving a hero with a “Push Your Limits” and other extra Reaction stuff going on dealing with Risky Actions and Twists while at low Health, it boils down to…] Is putting a hero Out too penalizing as a minor Twist? What can you do if the hero has the ablity to turn most Twists into someting that works to their advantage? Generally, yes, a Twist putting a hero Out isn’t appropriate, but if the hero is at 1 Health and wants to do a big thing, they think it’s reasonable to respond with “Yeah, you can do that, but that would be it for you.” Having the character pull off some big heroic feat while on their last legs but getting taken out of the fight in the process is a staple of these kinds of stories. As for the other bit, if you know the hero has means of turning penalties into bonuses, don’t give them Twists that are penalties. Introduce more minions to the scene, put some bystanders in danger, take away powers or reduce a die size, do stuff that can’t be handwaved away with their Abilities. Remember that a minor Twist can also just be damage. There’s “gaming the system” in the “justifying using my best dice whenever possible” and then there’s “trying to find ways to avoid paying the consequences of my actions.” Remember that a Twist can’t negate the hero’s success, but the decision of whether to take the Twist or fail should still mean something.
  • How do you feel about players who want to have their characters get involved romantically with canon characters (even ones who are already in canonical relationships - we know that it’s our table and so if that’s what we want that’s where we go with it, but what if there’s eventually a Benchmark/Unity wedding adventure in an Organized Play event and that wrecks our table’s canon)? This comes back around to them leaving the door open for future events. They haven’t talked about a lot of this sort of thing for their characters so that they’re not shutting the door in anybody’s (including their future selves’) faces in terms of where they can take the story. If you want to avoid the possibility of them ever sinking your table’s ship, don’t do relationship stuff with the canon characters. The other option is to just ignore the “canon” events (like the proposed wedding issue) for your home game.
  • In the Monsters and Magic episode you brought up what Djinn were in Sentinel Comics and that there was one original who has basically unlimited power, but wants to be hidden away and never used - in a hypothetical universe where NightMist tracked it down instead of becoming the Mist Gates, could she have used the Djinn’s power to fight OblivAeon? Could the Djinn destroy OblivAeon and vice versa (well, other than OblivAeon simply succeeding in destroying that reality)? Could somebody use their wish to either destroy the Djinn artifact or successfully hide it so that it was never found again? That “hey, I’ll cut a deal with you so that I’ll grant your first two wishes without pulling any tricks as long as your third is to hide me away forever” thing is probably why there are so few Djinn around these days. Eventually they find somebody to take that deal. They don’t have the power to fight/destroy OblivAeon on their own, but they can change reality and so could be used to help. I mean, Wager Master can “change reality” but he’s not just soloing ObvliAeon either. Djinn aren’t Singular Entities, but do operate at similar power levels within their idiom of “making something true that wasn’t before.”
  • Does Montgomery Industries have a significant presence in the skyline of Rook City? Yeah, they’ve got a nice building in Rook City.
  • What markets is Montgomery Industries involved in (tech sector, manufacturing, automotive, military/defense contracting, etc.)? How many locations/labs/etc. do they own/lease? Are they traded as part of any major stock index? What’s their share price like these days? Do they have any other corporate partners? There’s a lot of inside-baseball stuff there about the business world that probably doesn’t really ever come up in comics. They’re more tech-based than manufacturing. They do some prototyping and have some think-tank sections. They’re not into pharmaceuticals or military contracts. They have “a bunch” of labs, warehouses, etc. They are publicly traded and have a valuable stock price relative to the market in general. Corporate partners…? The Montgomery family are still majority shareholders. The company is a lot more careful about who they get into bed with than even post-OblivAeon RevoCorp.
  • Is there a rule of thumb to follow when building a character that has multiple sources of power (say Setback who has at least Curse, Experiment, and Training as valid options)? You can build characters in any number of ways. They built Unity as Unknown in the Starter Kit, but will likely choose something else when they get to her appearance in a full book. Choosing based on which aspect of the character you wish to emphasize is a valid reason to pick one, but you can also just choose purely mechanical “I really want this Yellow ability” reasons too. These are meant to be broadly applicable. Even other aspects of character aren’t set in stone; sure Unity as we’ve known her would probably be a Minion Maker Archetype, but in the future, if she stopped focusing on “making friends” you could easily go Gadgeteer with her if that’s the story you want to tell.
  • How will additional character options in future game supplements factor into the current Guided Method with the tables and rolls? Time will tell. They’re already doing some work on the Rook City/Dark Watch book and an option could be just to have the old and new tables side by side and if you roll a number that appears on both tables (the supplement table thus far only has 12 rather than 20 options) you can choose from either table.
  • When should people who missed the Kickstarter but got in on Backerkit expect their copies of the core book PDF? “A few weeks” is the goal. The early version that the backers got is not optimized yet (it’s over half a gigabyte as it is), lacks all of the quality of life stuff like clickable links to other sections/cross-references [and has a bunch of textual errors that backers are spotting as crowdsourced proofreaders]. The Backerkit version will be the final version with all of that stuff factored in that will eventually go up on the retail webstore (after the Backerkit people have their shot at it for a while). “Some time in June is my guess, if not sooner.” They understand that not everybody who is interested in this stuff finds out about/is able to back during a Kickstarter campaign, but Backerkit just doesn’t allow them to do early-release stuff well.

Chat Questions

  • For Form Changer and Modular Archetypes you choose powers from your list; if I use an ability am I limited to only using those powers or can I choose others? Like if I Choose Power Suit, Momentum, and Strength can I use an ability or basic action that wants me to use Agility? As long as you have Agility already, yeah. Generally speaking, when choosing Abilities it will say either to use a Power/Quality from the list of that Power Source/Archetype or it just says Power or Quality. In the latter case, it doesn’t matter which step of character creation you got the Power/Quality in question - as long as you have it you can pick it for your Ability.
  • [Moving a follow-up question up to be near the original] There was an argument that the powers you choose for the forms restricted you to only using those powers in that form/mode; if I have a power not chosen for that form/mode can I still use it? As long as the mode/form that you’re in doesn’t specify that you don’t have access to the Power in question, you can still use it. Look at Muerto, he has some powers and qualities marked as ones he has in one form or the other, but he has yet others that he always has access to. Generally speaking, the Powers/Qualities you picked up in Background and Power Source will be available and you’ll be more restricted when building out the specific form/mode stuff in the Archetype step.
  • Is there any reason in the Retcon you didn’t have an option to upgrade one die from power/quality/status up one size? It’s a game balance thing - they actually put a lot of work into that and allowing you to bump up a die causes a spike in the odds they were trying to avoid (they note that you can use your Retcon to bump up your Red status die by one size).
  • The various damage reduction abilities mention physical and energy damage, but it’s never defined what is considered which; is that just left up to the GM to decide whether that damage is Physical or Energy based off the situation or is it supposed to be more defined in the book? It’s as defined in the book as it’s meant to be defined - it’s largely up to the GM to rule when the DR is applicable and/or for you and the GM to come up with a reason why any given example should/shouldn’t count.
  • For Principle of the Indestructible it says you can ignore some blows but not how that’s impacts attacks against you in game; is this supposed to have a bigger impact on reducing damage to your character? It’s more about story and remember that Health doesn’t necessarily mean physical injury. An Attack from a Minion has the capacity to “damage” even Haka, so how does that look in the story?
  • In the RPG, Bunker’s bio states he has satellite he gets upgrades airdropped from, does this imply he can’t change forms when cut off from the satellite (underground, different dimension, whatever)? You should play around with other ways the “satellite drops” work in the given situation - maybe if underground he’s getting some smaller pods that can navigate their way to him, or maybe he’s making due with the modularity of the suit and he’s winging it with janky modifications he’s trying out on the fly. Basically, where he is shouldn’t affect his ability to change forms unless that’s the story that Bunker’s player and the GM have agreed to be telling. It makes for some good storytelling options to have Bunker not have access to his full kit, so play around with that if you want to.
  • If you have an innate ability that allows you to heal when you take a certain type of damage, are you allowed to use an attack ability or a basic attack action that targets yourself to heal? Can you include yourself in an AOE attack that hits multiple nearby targets? Yes, see how Absolute Zero works.
  • If it is illegal for anyone named Paul or Pauline to enter Mordengrad as of January 1, 1998, when did people from Mordengrad stop being able to use that name? Also why January 1, 1998? That’s just the point at which Baron Blade had had enough and made a law. The people of Mordengrad just roll with it and stop using the name. Anybody who was already using one of those names (or a close equivalent - neither were common anyway) got a free name change.
  • Principle of Speed is listed as an inherent ability, does that mean you can use it and your other principle to get two hero points in one action, or is it a typo? It is intentional since it’s not an action in itself. It’s just a “when this thing happens” trigger. Have fun with your extra Hero Points for you and the team [note that this means that you only have one Principle Max-die bonus situation instead of the two that non-speedsters would get]. Remember that you max out at 5 Hero Points an issue, so this just makes it easier to hit the cap.
  • [Birthday request: “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkle]
  • Chat pointing out “the red ability Heroic Interruption ‘when an attack deals damage to a nearby hero in the red zone, you may take d6 irreducible damage to redirect that attack to a target of your choice, other then the source of that damage’” for the purposes of being an example for the earlier question about redirections: ok, yeah, you could use that to redirect something targeting you [but you’re still taking that d6 of damage in order to do so].
  • I am working on a One-Shot; as I work on crafting the story I was confronted with a storyline that has a heavily invested forking storyline. Forks upon forks. Its a whole drawer of silverware. Anyway, I’ve been following the multi-branching idea presented in the rulebook, one of the questions I have is as the GM is it better for me to give options around the overcomes (via conflict and punching) or is it better for my story if the heroes have to devote specific time to overcoming things that cant just be dodged? Is the crux of the SCRPG more about having fun punching, or having fun solving puzzles, or just having fun? That’s up to your table’s approach: do they want more punching, more puzzles, or would they have fun with whatever? Any RPG is a box of tools. Some are more prescriptive in how you can apply those tools than others.
  • If a Villain makes a Persistent Bonus for himself and the Heroes make a Basic Hinder action to oppose it, does the value of the Bonus get lowered permanently even if the heroes don’t roll as well as the Villain (say a -1 Penalty countering a +3 Bonus making it a +2 from here on) or is it only on the next roll (with the Bonus returning to +3 after the next action)? Ok, if the Hero just rolls a Hinder against the Villain, it makes a Penalty that will go away normally after the next roll (unless it’s Persistent, but there are very few Persistent Penalties). If you’re using a Hinder to specifically reduce the existing Bonus (which is what you’re describing here), then it permanently reduces the value of that Bonus. The trade-off here is that a Penalty directed at the Villain has the potential to exceed the value of the Bonus and so actually applies a negative modifier to that next roll. If your Hinder roll directed at the Bonus would create a Penalty of greater magnitude than the Bonus, you don’t get to “make change” with the excess, you’ve only succeeded in removing that Bonus and the Villain’s next roll would just be an unmodified die result. So, if the Bonus represented a Ray Gun, a normal Hinder action would be something that interferes with the Villain’s next shot (you knock him off-balance or something), but a Hinder directed at the Bonus is something that damages/destroys the Ray Gun itself, but doesn’t affect the Villain directly.
  • Along the lines of the physical/energy question for the RPG, how about powers where you specify an energy/element - does that have to match an energy/element power you own? If not, is the list of options finite and limited to those that have energy/elemental powers, or can you name anything (with GM approval)? Well, you can do anything with your GM’s approval. In general, if you’re doing something with the element/energy you should probably have it as a power. If, say, you want to set it up so that if you get hit with Fire you then do something with Cold, then that could work if you only have Cold.
  • As a very invested fan of the Pouch Beast franchise, I had questions about the Pou’bea Tamer (in the Metaverse) as featured in the splash art for Minion-Maker:
    • How many Pouch Beasts can a Tamer have active at a time? Is there an arbitrary number? That’s likely determined by the person making that character in their game.
    • What medium do Pouch Beasts stem from, Video Games, Manga, Anime? Originally an off-hand comment on a podcast that eventually got picked up as art in an RPG rulebook that isn’t actually released yet.
    • Do Pouch Beasts undergo transformations to stronger forms? You tell me, man.
    • Are they more of a creature or a monster? More of a creater or monsture, really.
    • Do Mythic Pouch Beasts inhabit the RPG Universe (asking because one of the driving quests for my own Pouch Beast Tamer is to find and Tame such a Mythic Beast)? Yes, because it’s your mythic quest to find/tame one. They probably haven’t been seen for millennia, though. Good luck. Really though, go crazy with the Pouch Beasts thing. That was something they just threw in there after it came up on the podcast because it was fun and Adam needed a Minion Maker art piece anyway. Have fun with it.
  • So a character can have both bonuses and hinders at the same time? Yes. They were wrong about that in prior episodes. It comes down to how they’re presented.

Other Question

  • [Long letter starting at around 2:01:00 regarding all of the new names that heroes take on post-OblivAeon, liking the storytelling implied in the changes, but also commenting that “Mantra” and “Pinion” aren’t supplanting “Mr. Fixer” and “Harpy” in their head.] They get that. A lot of them will likely be easier once the books comes out and people are playing the games with them. Even they have trouble with thinking of Legacy as Paul rather than Felicia (and that’s compounded by the fact that they’re still telling stories from before OblivAeon). They acknowledge that this challenge exists, but they think that’s a good thing. Chat mentions that name-changes in comics almost never sticks (with Dick Grayson going from Robin to Nightwing being the most prominant/almost only example that did stick), but some of that is the problem of “mantles” and people wanting to go back to the familiar character with that name. They’ve mostly kept away from that, with the exception being Legacy who is intentionally about passing the mantle as part of the character. They would never try to call somebody else “Tachyon”. Then there’s Argent Adept who is a Virtuoso of the Void, but that’s the name that gets used by other characters, not “Argent Adept”. Adam also admits that he has trouble thinking of Felicia as anything other than Beacon (her name in Sentinel Tactics) which just stuck with him.