The Letters Page: Editor's Note 47
It's that time again!
Run Time: 1:13:03
More episodes next month? Yes, indeed!
- Tuesday, July 6th: Episode #181 - Writers’ Room: Disparation: Freedom Four 1776
- Tuesday, July 13th: Episode #182 - Writers’ Room: A Body Swap Story
- Tuesday, July 20th: Bullpen #4
- Tuesday, July 27th: Episode #183 - Writers’ Room: Clone-Ranger vs CON
You might note that next month brings us another Bullpen! We'll be talking about some SCRPG stuff then, so Dave will be on the show once again, as will a special guest! Who will it be? Hopefully not Guise!
This episode, we talk about:
- Lingering OblivAeon questions
- Portal Fiends
- Magic creatures
- Magic users
- and more!
We'll catch you...
- When Voss uses the power of OblivAeon to seal away Universe 1 from the Multiverse, does that seal also affect further branching timelines? The general rule/assumption they’re working from is that the seal prevents any timelines from branching off of Universe 1. In a hypothetical situation where one manages to be created anyway, they think that it would get shunted outside of the seal somehow, leaving just that one reality within. Nobody really knows what’s happened anyway and so aren’t looking for such behavior. This prompts an idea that maybe Tachyon or Argent Adept has figured out that “something weird” is going on regarding other timelines. Even if that’s the case, it’s going to be a while before anybody actually figures out what’s happening.
- Does the portion of OblivAeon’s power within Akash’Flora continue to increase? Is that related to why it’s used as a power source for the city? The amount of OblivAeon power present does not increase. Akash’Flora’s “natural” power increases because it’s a tree and it grows in its own way. If anything, the OblivAeon power in there has been steadily decreasing over time, but at a very slow rate so as to be virtually unnoticeable. Like, Voss used up a significant chunk of the total power available all at once, but the business of “being a tree” doesn’t really affect it much and barring outside interference that level of power is likely to outlast humanity. The power that the city is using is handled by the “magic photosynthesis” of the tree itself.
- Are questions about the RPG, the Sentinels of Freedom video game, or other products fair game for the podcast? Yeah. Anything about Sentinel Comics lore goes here. Are there more SC-related podcasts out there that nobody’s told Adam and Christopher about? If so, let them know.
- Much later chat brings up that frequent letter-writer and Patreon contributor Brian Le Wolfhunt has a YouTube channel where he frequently talks about Sentinels topics of one stripe or another.
- Would a timeline split if, say, a universe were pushed forward in time? If so, how big of a jump would such a time anomaly need to be for it to happen? The pertinent question to respond to this one is “what does moving a whole universe forward in time even mean?” That is, from within the universe, nothing has changed. Universes are all out there in Ur-Space more or less independent from one another and they aren’t running in lockstep with one another.
- We’ve been told that time travel to “after” the OblivAeon event was possible up until some point when he put his plans into action at which point travel beyond that point was halted - “when” did this happen? Could some time traveler active before the event arrive during the OblivAeon battle to help out? We know that OblivAeon shattered the timelines, but we don’t ever see a specific event of him doing so. We only see the effects in a “it sure is weird that all of these time travel/alternate reality things happen more frequently than they used to” kind of way. The “moment” when the travel barrier goes up is at some point between when Visionary arrives in Universe 1 and when we see La Comodora encounter the barrier. The planning started a long time ago (maybe not “before humanity” but certainly “before the Parsons family powers got going”). [They read the second question as “could a time traveler stop OblivAeon from causing the time travel barrier?”] He’d probably just [instagib](https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Instagib] anybody who showed up. His power is just too great.
- Do all timelines run parallel to one another? That is, when Omnitron-X or Visionary jumped from one reality to another, did they actually travel in time as well as hopping between realities? The arrangement of timelines may not make sense to us, but they’re not just totally illogical either. They aren’t all running parallel to one another - in fact, forcing them closer than they usually are is part of OblivAeon’s plan to collapse everything. It’s tougher to “aim” at a given time and place on another timeline than you’d think because once a split occurs they aren’t just a neat diagonal line off of the main one that then begins to run parallel, but more like a set of veins or tree roots that go every which way. [The guys also reference Jeremy Bearimy, which isn’t exactly helpful for non-looped time, but the squiggly nature of it is on-point.]
- How big is the “sandwich bag” around Universe 1? Is there “debris” out in Ur-Space caused by the sealing? Voss isn’t capable of using OblivAeon’s power as precisely as OblivAeon himself was. As an analogy, imagine that you were reading a newspaper and wanted to save an article. To be precise, you’d use some scissors to cut it out neatly. Voss’ approach here would be to just tear it out with his hands. That’s not to say that there’s little pieces of other universes that were grabbed at the same time as Universe 1, but there’s likely at least some Ur-Space “stuff” padding around the sealed-away universe.
- Prompted by a game where Luminary’s regression turrets (paired with XTREME Fanatic’s incapacitated ability to redirect all hero damage to a single target) totally nullified OblivAeon’s damage output: how well does the regression serum work on cosmic entities like OblivAeon or mechanical threats like Omnitron? The turrets have variable settings to use whatever is effective in neutralizing any particular target (something to disrupt electronics vs. robots/devices, cosmic energy of some kind against things like OblivAeon, etc.). While the technology was inspired by the original regression serum, it’s moved beyond it. Pouring the regression serum on OblivAeon wouldn’t do anything.
- If OblivAeon could have chosen a hero to recruit as a Scion, who would he have picked? Which hero would have been most likely to accept such an offer? The latter is likely more useful than the first as trying to actively recruit a hero to turn against the multiverse existing is more work than he’d want to put in. Parse was close - she was primed to be a Scion, but chose a better path. If he could just pick somebody to be a Scion, NightMist is the easy option. Or maybe La Comodora.
- [The Letter (and chat a little) throws out a bunch of suggestions for who would make good options for the above questions.] You could write a story to cover basically whomever you wanted to write such a story for and they could probably work.
- Given that La Capitan/Comodora could travel past 2016 in her subjective past, does this mean that some version of her has the potential to show up in the sealed-away Universe 1 later (just a younger version of her who made that trip prior to the OblivAeon time-travel barrier going up)? To avoid paradoxes, any time that Maria Helena went past the blacked-out barrier point prior to the OblivAeon event happened to be visits to realities other than Universe 1 (almost by definition, since the branch point for that reality happened during the OblivAeon event itself, after the barrier was up, and Voss sealed it away as part of that event as well.
- Who all knows about Universe 1 being sealed away (besides Voss and the Prime Aspects)? Has F.I.L.T.E.R. been tipped off due to the Block being inaccessible? The remnants of F.I.L.T.E.R. definitely know that something is up, but they’re not really in a position to know what the nature of the problem is. It might just be a problem with the Block rather than something wrong with the Multiverse. Voss might not even really know what it was that he did. In the moment of acquiring OblivAeon’s power he’d have his horizons broadened a bit to the point where he was aware that he wasn’t the biggest fish in the pond and so just reached out to do something to keep those bigger fish out. He’s probably got the closest idea to the current situation given that he at least knows what his intention behind the act was, but his knowledge of what he was doing wasn’t perfect. He at least knows that other realities exist and that they are part of what is being kept separate. Singular Entities on the outside see what happened and are keeping an eye on developments. There’s a Wager Master on the inside and, due to how he set up his contingency backup existence trick, he believes that Universe 1 is all that’s left of the Multiverse. Or at least he sees the barrier and isn’t about to start trying to mess with it given that he doesn’t know whether doing so would be costly (the Wager Master on the outside likely doesn’t know that there’s a version of him inside the barrier either).
- Does Akash’Flora have a will/mind? They’d say it has awareness and memory. Definitely a “spirit”.
- Do the citizens of Megalopolis have to pay for the power they get from the tree? You can’t just hook things up to the tree directly. The tree did insinuate itself into the power grid and start feeding into it, but that just means that the utility companies eventually (in addition to the general upkeep/monitoring of the grid) transitioned from “running power plants” to “caring for and managing the connections to the tree”. They wind up being pretty “green” companies as a result. Felicia’s day job is related to a lot of this tree-power stuff in one way or another.
- Would it be possible for Visionary to have turned Raymond Mantay away from villainy? Possible, yes. Would it also be a gross violation to his person? Absolutely.
- [Chat follow-up: he didn’t mean by using psychic powers, just by talking as a friend/colleague] Less likely to work. Crazy conspiracy people tend to be pretty well trapped in that way of thinking.
- Is there any sort of “time cop” organization in Sentinel Comics? F.I.L.T.E.R. kind of fills that narrative role, without specifically being “time cops” with the exact connotation that the term implies.
- If the outside-Universe-1 Wager Master is unaware that his contingency backup got triggered, does that mean that it’s still active out in the Multiverse, possibly resulting in another version of him coming into existence if/when it’s eventually triggered? Hypothetically, yes. Getting triggered within Universe 1 doesn’t “use up” the potential as it exists outside of that bubble.
- [Long list of NightMist’s shortcomings to start] Why is one of the heroes you pick out as one of the strongest shown to so often struggle to be effective as a hero? Is this part of the secret of her popularity with readers (crazy levels of power, but tempered by the struggles to bring them to bear effectively, including the occasional defeat)? Yeah, there’s something to be said for showing your powerful character getting outmatched occasionally. This goes beyond superhero comics to just “heroic” characters in general. If everything comes easy to your character, it’s just not interesting. For NightMist in particular, she starts out with the powerset that would allow her to win all of these conflicts, but she also has the requirement to understand what she’s facing and how to defeat it. This means that she often has a story loop where she encounters a thing, has to back off when it becomes apparent that it’s a large threat, investigate [a major character trait that’s easy to overlook], prepare, then come back to finish the job. However, after she spends her time in the Void her powers are different enough to change up this dynamic. Now she’s got more internal resources to throw at a problem, but by this era she’s also more often working with a team or acting as a teacher/mentor to make those stories more interesting.
- In the Portal Fiend “nest” that you mention in the Burying the Blade episode, what would happen if two portal fiends looked at one another? We know that when they make eye contact they both get teleported through the other and that this is also tied to how they reproduce (it’s the evolutionary incentive for them to want to immediately make eye contact with everything they meet). When two of them look into each other’s eyes, those two portal fiends both get teleported to two other locations, but so does a third new portal fiend.
- [Regarding the situation in the Minions and Henchlings episode where Biomancer is hired by other villains for help with something, this letter writer suggests the metaphor of “an artist working on commission”.] Okay, great.
- In a recent perusal of the wiki for the Avernum series of games in preperation for a Pathfinder campaign and among the list of names for lizardfolk was the name Kel’Voss - is this a coincidence? Has this happened with any of your other character names? Not on their end. Voss was one of their friend’s last names and the overall Kel’Voss was one of their first names created back when they were first putting the game together. Maybe somebody making the Avernum game was a SotM fan?
- [At one point you responded to the question of “where did the name ‘Tachyon’ come from” with “where did the name ‘pikachu’ come from?” - the latter is a portmanteau of the Japanese onomatopoeia of the sound electricity makes and the sounds mice make.] Sure, but where did the word “electricity” or “mouse” come from? It was a question about how words get decided upon [and one that has can be regressed - “electricity” comes from the Greek word for amber, electrum, because people noticed that you could generate a spark or cause small things to be attracted to amber if you rubbed it. But where did the Greek word “electrum” come from, etc.] Tachyon was named after the hypothetical particle that travels faster than light [here at least - in the metaverse the particle was named after the speedster superhero character. And in either case, the word derives from the Greek word for “swift”, ταχύ (“tachy”).]
- How do you check character names, especially during Creative Process and Writers’ Room episodes? There’s two things they do: they look on Google with just generic searches for the name (possibly also with “comic” included, but they don’t exclusively do that because there could still be a character in a novel or something). The other is Comic Vine - it used to be better, but it got bought out by a larger media company. It’s still good enough for their purposes (when the search function is actually working).
- [Letter points out that coming up with a collective name for the Letters Page audience is a bit of a moot point - YouTube/Twitch/podcast/etc. creators who come up with something cutesy often do so early in order to build a sense of community and boost engagement - it’s kind of too late for that to matter for the Letters Page. They agree - doing so now is basically just for fun as there’s not really anything to be gained by doing so. Anyway, here’s the list the letter writer suggests:] Listeners, Pagies, Teammates, GreaterThanGamers (this brings up the question of how many people out there are just fans of the podcast without also being a fan of the various games, Sentinels-related or not - if you’re just here for the podcast, let them know), Pauls and Felicias (they suggest that if you’re going this route, just go Pauls and Paulines), True Believers, Biomancer Clones, Radiolandians, Guys (I mean, Guise could probably get behind that one).
- Another name suggestions: Loreists.
- Yet another: Henchpeople (under Citizens Hammer and Anvil). Given that they’ve already used the term, they think “Henchlings” works better for our purposes. Subordinates to Hammer and Anvil would probably still just be Citizens, though. Additionally, they don’t like the idea that the audience are subordinate to them in the first place.
- How many listeners are there? It’s really hard to say - they only have access to number of downloads and unique listens based on IP address. There are thousands every week, but not all of those are for the most recent episode. They are sure that they have “thousands” of listeners, they don’t know that they have “tens of thousands” but they might, they’re pretty certain they don’t have “hundreds of thousands”.
- The user behind the Cult of Gloom letters suggests “Cultists” in the chat.
- Does Antimox show up too late in comics to show up in the Inversiverse? Probably.
- Game show: Magic Creature, Magic User, Both, or Neither! For each of the following, say which category they fall into and why.
- Bugbear: Magic Creature. He’s dealing with Blood Magic stuff, but it’s just something that’s part of him without him understanding it.
- Lifeline: Magic User.
- NightMist: Both, except for a brief period in the ’90s when she’s not a Magic Creature and a couple of issues where she’s neither.
- Bunker: Neither (although they do a bit stating otherwise “how else do you think he fits all of that ammo into the suit?”).
- Ra: Magic Creature. He’s using magic fire stuff, but not because he’s “doing magic”, just by virtue of him being the God of the Sun!
- Fanatic: Both. She’s a Magic Creature, but also actively does magic (her spells are “prayers” but whatever).
- Naturalist: Magic Creature.
- Ruin: Both - he does demon magic in addition to just being who he is.
- Apostate: Both.
- Anubis: Either one of them qualifies as Both. Multiverse-era Anubis is a Magical Creature who does magic. Marty is a magic user who is imbued with power such that he transforms into a magical creature.
- Idolater: Magic User. He’s a “user” in a lot of ways.
- The Matriarch: Magic User.
- Plague Rat: Neither.
- Unity: [Makes them pause and chuckle before answering] Magic Creature without actually knowing it. Like, in the same way that Ra is a Magic Creature who does fire stuff, she’s a Magic Creature who does robot stuff, but it’s just part of her nature without being “spells”.
- Haka: Neither - unless weird time shenanigans count as “magic” to you, then fine, he’d be a Magic Creature in that case.
- Akash'Thriya: Magic Creature. Everything she does is Nature Magic, but in a Ra sort of way.
- Spite Agent of Gloom: Both. His murder spree here is part of a ritual for GloomWeaver.
- GloomWeaver: Both for sure.