The Letters Page: Editor's Note 46
Let's talk about a bunch of different things!
Run Time: 1:23:08
We start by talking about teeth! Sorry to anyone who doesn't want to hear about teeth.
Here's the upcoming schedule!
- Tuesday, June 1st: Same-Age-Day-Sode!
- Tuesday, June 8th: Episode #178 - Creative Process: Sky-Scraper Supporting Cast
- Tuesday, June 15th: Episode #179 - Writers' Room: Disparation: Visionary’s origin timeline (before and after)
- Tuesday, June 22nd: Editor’s Note #47 -OR- Bullpen #4. Hard to say which.
- Tuesday, June 29th: Episode #180 - Creative Process: Grace and Owen Charles in the RPG era
This Editor's Note, we talk about a bunch of topics, including:
- Definitive Edition
- Absolute Zero
- and more!
Catch you next week for Episode #177 - Creative Process: Young Legacy Foes!
- Nixious the Chosen
- Baron Blade
- Citizen Dawn
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Sergeant Steel
- Becky Blast
- Blood Countess Bathory
- Marjorie Mittermeier
- Aeon Girl
- The Fervor
- Wager Master
- The Chairman
- The Operative
- Zhu Long
- Absolute Zero
- Where did the “OblivAeon” name come from? Like, we know that it’s a combination of the names of Oblivion and Archaeon, but who actually came up with that name? Other Singular Entities? His Cultists? Christopher and Adam came up with “OblivAeon” first and then reverse-engineered an in-story reason for that name, but within the fiction… Okay, it’s like there was, at the moment that the two prior entities combined and became this new thing, some kind of “cosmic shockwave” went out throughout the Multiverse. You ever have that feeling where you’re going about your day and then just have a shiver run down your spine, like something bad just happened somewhere? That’s the kind of feeling that beings had when this shockwave passed and some of them were able to “translate” it as OblivAeon. Like, some civilizations wondered what this thing was and sent out some FTL probes to get out “in front” of the shockwave to get some better readings for it and what is “decoded” from that information is the name being shoutwhispered.
- How did the various cults of OblivAeon even get started (as we were told that he paid absolutely no attention to them until they did the thing that made Nixious the Chosen)? He did not want cults or plant the seeds that led to cults. It’s more just the trope that if a great evil exists, cults will rise up to worship it. Just existing is enough for rumor to begin regarding him that might filter down to potential cultists over enough time, or there are the scribblings of madmen who somehow caught a glimpse of him that might then be the basis of a cult.
- Why was Stuntman’s flame thrower so effective against Nixious? He doesn’t like being burned. I mean, who does? Nixious really is one of the weaker Scions. Like, Haka could probably 1-on-1 Nixious (it’d be a good fight, but Haka would win).
- Was the fact that SotM’s four core-set villains all had a role related to OblivAeon intentional (Baron Blade became the “hero” Luminary, Citizen Dawn shows up to help the heroes, Grand Warlord Voss is a Scion that eventually usurps OblivAeon’s role as the big bad, and Omnitron was a Scion way back when)? Yes, absolutely intended. Omnitron-U was also a hero that was involved, although not with a huge role to play.
- In the first OblivAeon episode you mentioned that Sky-Scraper breaks K.N.Y.F.E. out of F.I.L.T.E.R. jail after she was captured by Sergeant Steel - so when exactly did Becky Blast blow him up? He was blown up prior to this point, but that doesn’t mean he was “gone”. That era of pre-StarCrossers K.N.Y.F.E. and Sky-Scraper adventures might be worth an episode at some point.
- What’s going on with the Court of Blood and Madame Mittermeier’s Fantastical Festival of Conundrums and Curiosities during OblivAeon? Both Blood Countess Bathory and Madame Mittermeier take great care in protecting their respective domains. They also have great faith in the world’s ability to “continue existing” and assumed, perhaps with a bit too much bravado, that this whole OblivAeon thing would just blow over. Neither of those locations were “seen” during the OblivAeon event.
- With the destruction of OblivAeon, what happened to any “seeds” of Progenies out there gestating in various planet cores? They wouldn’t dissipate, but they also wouldn’t have any power to draw from. They can’t imagine that it would be good for any such planet to have such a thing present, unless you’re looking to get your hands on a bunch of blightsilver.
- How would Aeon Girl interact with a Progeny? Could she control it? Would it corrupt her with OblivAeon’s will? Progeny is a facet of OblivAeon’s will and is driven by it, but it isn’t something that could “disperse” that will. Whether she could command one… that could make for an interesting story. Such an interaction could have many interesting effects.
- Can you please explain/compare the strengths, effects, advantages, and disadvantages of drawing power from the following power sources: interacting with an OblivAeon Shard, becoming a Scion of OblivAeon, being directly empowered by a Singular Entity, but not necessarily getting the full Scion treatment (e.g. Galactra or Legacy), unintentionally powered by a Singular Entity (Guise), or made of energy from a Singular Entity (Aeon Girl)? They think the “most powerful” option here is the last. It’s also very risky and is essentially unheard of - Aeon Girl is a huge unknown in most respects as the conditions for her creation (killing a Singular Entity, having some means of harvesting that energy, having the requisite abilities to use that energy to create an independent being) are astronomically unlikely to happen. Being directly, intentionally empowered is a pretty good deal, though. It can depend on the Entity involved and their intent/ability, but there’s less left up to chance there. OblivAeon shards and Scions have do deal with OblivAeon nonsense and that’s always bad. That being said, “scion” doesn’t really mean anything special here compared to other Singular Entities. The term basically just was used as an umbrella term for “beings directly empowered by OblivAeon that he was getting together as servants for this plot he was working on”. The Fervor could just as easily say that Galactra is retroactively considered a Scion and then go on to make a bunch more of them. By that token you could kind of consider the Legacy line as Scions of Wellspring. You could make an argument that Guise would then be a Scion of Wager Master, but you might consider the intention of their creation to be important. [Personally, I’d think of Guise as more of an equivalent to somebody getting empowered by an OblivAeon shard rather than a Scion, but Wager Master’s intentions are so weird compared to most that who knows what he’d consider.] The main take-away regarding this is that any option that is rooted in OblivAeon is risky. Even being a normal person involved in an OblivAeon cult would be risky. Don’t do any of that.
- Given that the Chairman’s whole modus operandi has been to find something useful that somebody else has and stealing/copying it for his own purposes, how has he seemingly never gotten his hands on an OblivAeon shard? Is there a Disparation story where he gets his hands on one? No, if he had one (which he would be happy to have), he’d keep it locked up safe in his labs and use it only to empower himself and maybe some trusted minions. He likely wouldn’t come right out and try to use it to “take over” - he’s smart and knows that there are other powerful people out there and so he wants to just keep his head down and not draw the kinds of attention that would get him taken down. The only time we ever see him try to “take over” overtly is in the Vertex “Broken City” situation where the established social order had already been destroyed and he himself had been “broken” and wasn’t operating as he usually would. Even if he were to get one, he wouldn’t use it on himself until he’d done a lot of experimentation with it. Like, if he got one after OblivAeon we could be several years into the Sentinel Comics Universe period and he’d still be doing experiments on it until he 100% understands (or thinks he does) what it’s doing rather than having used it himself. Well, he’s a bit of a hot head and so having a major loss might get him to jump the gun. Like, if he had one in the labs since the ’80s and then, in the ’90s, when the Operative is killed by Zhu Long and is basically given a “what are you going to do about it?” response, he might just take matters into his own hands.
- Letter follow-up to explain why, in a previous episode, a question came up regarding the Chairman having enough OblivAeon shards to make a set of power armor out of them: his RPG players lost a game of roulette with Wager Master.
- Why did Voss (or at least Tamar with some troops) go to the Ruins of Atlantis? How would an alien even know about it? Does Voss do some recon on planets before invading? What other secrets might he have uncovered? When the fleet pulls up to a planet they do some scans, as one does. They picked up significant energy readings from this spot on the ocean floor and so checked it out under the assumption, based on prior conquests, that it may have been a major power source for the whole planet. Turns out that it’s a set of ruins and nobody’s using that power… May as well take advantage of that. It’s less “looking for secrets” and more “sending your shock troops to take what are obviously important power sources”. This brings up the humorous ideas of a bunch of gene-bound rolling up to the Temple of Zhu Long, which doesn’t end well for them. There’s also a bunch of gene-bound vampires now for some reason. Now, the Voss invasion is one type of story and those encounters would belong to a different type of story so we don’t see them, but there are implications that those kinds of things likely happened (like, we might see an alien skull on a wall in the background while in the Court of Blood at some point).
- Did cultists reach out to GloomWeaver or did he reach out to potential recruits? GloomWeaver got that ball rolling. He’s all about reaching out to people who are feeling gloomy and getting in their heads.
- If people sent out FTL probes to analyze the shockwaves of OblivAeon’s formation, then how “old” is he (Ur-space makes this weird I know, but I had always sort of assumed the two fused sometime before any reality had meaningfully developed, and now I doubt)? OblivAeon formed a long time ago, but not so long ago that there couldn’t be other things out there in the multiverse yet. Oblivion is older than this universe, but OblivAeon isn’t and that gap, while short, is long enough for people to exist out there somewhere.
- In the previous editors note you said that there weren’t typically multiple mist gate refugees from the same universe; could you maybe list a few universes you know there would be multiple refugees from (this is asked on my kids behalf since they both really REALLY like when our home game follows your canon, and I’d like to ascertain if you had any Animal-verse plans in the future)? No plans for the Animal-verse in the immediate future. They’re pretty confident that there aren’t multiple Animal-verse refugees. They wouldn’t be surprised if there were, say, two from the Extremeverse and the Inversiverse. The more prominent the alt reality was, the more likely that we see multiple people from it (not to say that a more niche one couldn’t happen too). Part of the issue on that, though, is that there are the two Disparation titles that start back up eventually and they don’t want to limit their options there.
- How do the Freedom Academy students address the Sentinels of Freedom heroes when they’re teaching? Most likely just by their code names. They can imagine Tachyon teaching a science class where she opens up with “You can call me Tachyon, Meredith, or Dr. Stinson. Just don’t call me late for dinner.” This joke never lands, but she doesn’t really care about the mode of address. We’re here for the science (plus her identity has been public since before most of you were born - also comic time is weird and I’m not that much older than most of you since I haven’t aged appreciably in the last 70 years). Additionally, they think that the culture of the school is for everyone to go by their code names - a lot of students have secret identities and normalizing the use of the public name is a good strategy.
- How many of the heroes teaching at Freedom Academy actually have teaching credentials? A few of them do. There is an on-boarding class for new teachers that is the qualification for teaching here, not necessarily at any other school, due to the special nature of the school.
- Will Daybreak age to be older than the Wraith? They don’t think so, but who knows.
- After running a wildly-successful Kickstarter, how much temptation is there to collect the funds in $1 coins and roll around in them like Scrooge McDuck? If they were going that route they’d probably do nickels instead - they’re a bit heftier than pennies or dimes and you get 20 to the dollar (and so are better than quarters in that regard). On a scale of 1 to 10, only about a 3 in terms of how tempted they are, but like an 8 in terms of planning it out.
- A recent episode briefly discussed the lack of interest in PVP elements to SotM - along with SCRPG and Sentinels of Freedom largely focusing on cooperative action, does the PVP element present in Sentinel Tactics and the shelved Prime War inform your stance on its presence otherwise? They’re not averse to the idea of PVP in the Sentinel Comics IP - ST and PW were things that they really liked, they just aren’t ongoing products for one reason or another, but the simple fact that they included PVP elements is not one such reason (and is not a reason to avoid PVP elements going forward). There are other game things that they would like to do eventually that include PVP elements - it’s just the case that SotM and the RPG aren’t the place for them. PVP is the kind of game element that should be present in the design from the start and trying to shoehorn them in later isn’t the way to go about adding them. When they’re going about designing a game, they think of the story that its telling. The story that SotM tells is not one where heroes are fighting heroes. ST/PW tells/would have told a different story and are a different type of game.
- Can either of you recall a time when you found the overlap between game’s mechanics and story/flavor to be particularly satisfying (example: a friend got really frustrated when a Megalopolis traffic jam really caused problems for Tachyon - said friend then exclusively played Tachyon from then on)? They have a lot of such events over the years, but a big part of DE was to make such mechanical/story interactions more likely. Adam’s go-to example of this sort of thing is the interaction between Ra and Absolute Zero. Like, there are probably a bunch of examples from over the years when AZ says something like “give me everything you’ve got” as a powering-up move for a big ice blast. Those kinds of team-up moments are good. There’s no more traffic jam in Megalopolis, but they like that they’ve moved it from being “a bunch of obstacles in the city” to specific “other crime-fighting you might have to deal with while the main plot is going on” and most of the environments have been tweaked to feel more like being in a specific moment in the place.
- Have there been moments when newer players/playtesters surprised you (example: a new player using the Punish the Weak/Rampage combo to great effect by carefully choosing target order to maximize the benefit from the former card - something I’d never considered as synergistic)? That was a specifically-intended synergy, but don’t feel bad - a lot of people missed that one. It’s also not one that survived into DE as “punish the weak” wound up not being the right angle for Haka’s personality. There were a few characters that they just did not fully understand in the original design. Every deck has intentional things that they hope people will discover (both mechanically and thematically).
- In the RPG we know that Absolute Zero now has access to a “teaching” cryo suit beyond the one that he’s “under contract” for with the government - does this mean that, if he wanted, he could just… leave? Go off and not do the hero thing anymore? There are more stories they’re going to tell with AZ in the RPG. At this point, his “contract” is largely “paid” to the point that he could probably scratch together the funds to get out from under that obligation. However, with a lot of the fallout from Fort Adamant in the lead-up to OblivAeon, OblivAeon itself, and the fact that Project Ironclad more-or-less stops being a thing they could probably just let the government repossess the suit and just get Tachyon to make him a new one, but it’s just not really addressed. By that point there’s not really a question of him giving up on being a hero, even if he wasn’t “in debt” and paying it off, so it just never comes up anymore. The fact that the Vertex setting had a very explicit point made regarding his suit getting paid off was a response to that story beat not getting a lot of attention otherwise.
- The outro of a previous episode included a brief digression into what the term for people who listen to the podcast should be called (for the record, they currently use “Letters Page Listeners” which has a nice ring to it), there have been a few suggestions already this episode as part of other letters, but here’s a bunch: previously stated options are pagies, letterheads, and correspondents. This letter suggests a bunch of categories that other online communities use (ranging from having something descriptive of the group all the way to just being called “Greg” collectively). They think that if they ever do land on something other than just Listeners, it’ll likely be a suggestion from one of said Listeners.
- Let’s say for a Writers’ Room/Creative Process episode that you start making a thing, then after a good while realize that it doesn’t work - would you just cut that entire portion of the recording from the final episode? Has this happened (not counting time skips for coming up with a name or whatnot)? This has never happened, they always bring it around. Sometimes there are missteps made along the way/something is decided to be non-canonical, but they don’t cut that because those dead ends are part of the creative process. They basically just have Trevor cut stuff that’s not good radio (uhs and ums, when they need to look something up or decide on a name when the process of naming isn’t itself interesting, etc.). Occasionally if they know the topic is going to be a tricky one (or at least will have some tricky parts to it), they’ll take 20 minutes before recording to try to work through those specific problem points to avoid the “bad for radio” portion.
- Was the Dual Crowbars/Friendly Fire combo something that happened in-comics (to explain, the Crowbars let Mr. Fixer make a second attack every time he makes an attack and Friendly Fire lets any hero attack Setback after they deal damage, this creates a loop where Fixer keeps hitting both Setback and other targets - often used to let a Dark Watch team incapacitate the Operative early on in a game)? No, not specifically.
- You say that you often lie and are sometimes wrong; have you ever been mistaken about a lie and accidentally told the truth? Definitely.
- Settling a line of discussion on the Forum because it’s not something we can tell for sure: is Ryan Frost a white guy (I mean, speaking of race, not literally as these days he’s more of a light blue guy)? Yeah.
- Is he a descendant of Robert Frost? No. Possibly a distant relative, but not a direct descendant.
- If we need to have a fandom name, can’t we just be “Sentinels”? It’s got a nice ring to it, but it’s confusing given that there was an in-setting team named that, it’s part of the Metaverse publisher, and is a common shorthand for both the card game and the RPG.
- Another terrible fan name suggestion: Meta-metas.
- How about Heroes? Christopher: “I don’t know that all of you are heroes, Brian.” [note: that was likely directed at the Brian who writes in as the Cult of Gloom rather than Brian Le Wolfhunt.]