The Letters Page: Editor's Note 48
We're back to regular time! Sort of! Don't worry about it!
Run Time: 1:22:58
We're about to get a couple months of spooky! Here's the upcoming schedule for October AND November!
- Tuesday, October 5th: Episode #190 - Writers' Room: Post Oracle of Discord
- Tuesday, October 12th: Episode #191 - Writers' Room: Witches and Werewolves: Harpy and Alpha
- Tuesday, October 19th: Episode #192 - Writers' Room: Daybreak Halloween Special
- Tuesday, October 26th: Editor’s Note #49
- Tuesday, November 2nd: Episode #193 - Writers' Room: Disparation: Oni Mr. Fixer
- Tuesday, November 9th: Episode #194 - Writers' Room: A Mr. Jitters story
- Tuesday, November 16th: Episode #195 - Creative Process: Underworlds — hells, demon dimensions, and more!
- Tuesday, November 23rd: Editor’s Note #50
- Tuesday, November 30th: Episode #196 - Writers' Room: Haunted Fanatic
Wow! That's a lot of topics! And how many of them will be scary? Only time will tell!
We hope you enjoy the next several weeks as much as we will! As we mention near the end of the episode, we're coming up on some big episode-type number landmarks... exciting to be heading there with all of you, dear listeners! Looking forward to what the future may bring.
- In the Kismet episode, you mentioned that during the OblivAeon event, she escaped from the Block back into what would become known as Universe 1 and in the process “closed the door behind her” - given what we know now, that event seems like it may have been significant; if the Block hadn’t been sealed off, would it have remained connected to Universe 1 despite Voss’ meddling? Could it have been a possible “hole in the sandwich bag”? Could the Block sealed off from Universe 1 but still connected to the others instead of latching onto just the one, or would things have shaken out this way regardless for some other reason? The thing that Kismet does is “I want whatever’s chasing me to not be able to follow” and so she closes the door in “as lucky a way as is possible”, which turns out to somehow detach the Block from Universe 1. If she hadn’t done that, yeah, the Block and the way it “barnacles” onto the various realities could have been a potential hole in the sandwich bag.
- You’ve mentioned that OblivAeon, after destroying everything, was going to make something new - what would that be? Is it just something for him to then destroy again like a kid repeatedly building a tower of blocks just so that they could knock it over again and again? They like the analogy of the child here, but no. They don’t think it’s just so that he can destroy things again. Really, OblivAeon’s motives and goals in this regard are unknown and unknowable beyond just making something that is “his”. It’d be something that’s like “creating destruction forever”, not so much something for him to then destroy, but creating something that then goes on to find other things to destroy. “Imagine a dark multiverse based entirely on nihilism and pain and destruction.” Whatever the darkest, most horrible thing you can imagine (and then it’s even worse than that) is the kind of vibe they’re going for here.
- What was something cool, either thematically or mechanically, that you thought up for Definitive Edition that just didn’t survive the playtesting process? Since DE is an ongoing project (just the core set is done), anything mechanical that they thought was cool that needed to get cut for whatever reason still has a chance to get used down the line. They don’t think anything thematic/narrative that they thought was cool and really liked that didn’t make it. The closest thing is that the decks need to represent who the characters are in the fight that’s in progress. There isn’t a Dana Bertrand card in Tachyon’s deck, for example (she still appears in the art, but she doesn’t get a mechanical representation as a separate character). They talked briefly about having her in Megalopolis, but that wasn’t right either. Most things that they think is cool makes it in and things that don’t “survive playtesting” are things that shouldn’t survive playtesting.
- In episode 188 Christopher asserts that NightMist did not kill more people than OblivAeon did, however, due to there being infinite realities in the Multiverse, NightMist becoming the gate killed all of the various alt-reality NightMist or NightMist-like people in those infinite realities (presumably an infinite number of them), and OblivAeon failing in his attempt to destroy all realities and therefore by definition only destroying a finite number of them, this means that NightMist had to have killed more people than OblivAeon simply due to the nature of infinity. The only person who rivals this kill count is La Comodora who killed an infinite number of Hakas (minus two, but infinity minus two is still infinity). If we assume that our first axiom above is false and there aren’t infinite realities in the Multiverse that’s resolved, but then we’re in a situation where eventually there are no further Hakas left to “power” the remaining two… Furthermore, by declaring that OblivAeon has more kills than NightMist, that puts a nice upper-bound on the number of realities there are for NightMists to exist in. For the sake of argument, let’s say that OblivAeon killed a googol people - if NightMist’s count is lower then it stands to reason that there were less than a googol realities for her (or approximations) to exist in - is that enough realities? Thoughts? Christopher’s answer/response: your math all checks out. There is either an infinite number of realities or something that so closely approaches it to make no difference - at the least there are not a finite number of them that are “countable”. Where Christopher quibbles here is that he wouldn’t consider what either NightMist or La Comodora did here to be “killing”. “Erased”, “used up”, “removed”, “deleted”, “harvested”, or “expended” maybe, but not “killed”. “Sacrifice” might be the best word here and they think that there’s enough room for nuance between this and “killing”. You’re totally right if we’re looking at “number of people who cease to exist due to their actions” as a broader category, though. As for Adam, this talk of infinities makes his head hurt, but he thinks that all of the numbers we’re looking at here are finite as he has trouble accepting that you can do a thing to infinite realities and it not taking an infinite time to complete and/or how taking half of infinity is still infinity.
- Has La Capybara traveled outside of her home reality? If so, what does she think of all of these weird realities with humans all over the place? Does she instead only travel to other alternate Animal-verses? Yeah, they think she’s wound up in realities full of these weird monkey creatures. Strangely, they don’t think she really winds up in other animal-verses. This gets Adam to figure out why the previous question broke his brain a bit - trying to apply real-world concepts and logic to comics is what makes his head hurt. He doesn’t imagine more than just the one Animal-verse. Of course, logically there are an infinite number of them, but for the purposes of what we see in the comics, there’s just the one.
- You’ve mentioned before that the Metaverse is considered by the writers of Sentinel Comics to itself be part of the in-comics Multiverse - during OblivAeon was there any sort of ARG, ad campaign, or other marketing gimmick playing around with the idea that the world was ending or something like that? Absolutely - the idea of an ARG being in the Metaverse is directly linked to the idea behind the ARG that we got to do here in our world. “Oh, no! All of reality will be destroyed unless you help the heroes fight OblivAeon.” The way this “help” worked was by buying all of these Sentinel Comics. There were probably also a bunch of press releases done to get the word out to the regular, non-comics-reading public (similar to what happened back around the “Death of Superman” story) - non-comics-fans would have heard about this thing happening. Like, even people who “don’t know comics” would know the characters of Legacy and Wraith at least just through their pop-culture ubiquity over the decades and so something major that’s going to possibly kill them would be seen as “newsworthy” enough to get attention.
- What would be worse, Setback without his empathy/trying to mitigate his bad luck or Harpy “going full birds”? We’ve seen what Harpy going full birds looks like - it’d just be a new iteration of what happened with Matriarch. Setback without any positive impact… there’s no Dark Watch and he’d be a very dangerous force. Sentinel Comics where Harpy goes full birds still looks largely the same, but Setback being bad like this would be a major change to the setting.
- What are the age breakdowns of the various hero teams (e.g. Legacy is older than AZ, then Tachyon, then Wraith and Bunker at around the same age, Mr. Fixer is oldest in Dark Watch and Haka for Prime Wardens, but after that I’m not sure)? Bunker is older than Wraith, but only by a year or two. Mr. Fixer is oldest in Dark Watch with NightMist, Expatriette, and Setback roughly contemporaries (although it’s still NightMist as oldest and then Expat maybe a year older than Setback although they’re mainly treated as being the same age) and Harpy the youngest. Prime Wardens obviously has Haka, then Tempest, Captain Cosmic, Fanatic, and Argent Adept.
- Would you rather fight one Fright Train-sized duck or 100 duck-sized Fright Trains? Christopher is in favor of either. The duck would be a huge duck - it’s worth just being able to see such a magnificent beast. He’d rather fight 100 duck-sized Fright Trains. The duck is too dangerous - it’s good in the air, sea, or land and is just too big. It’d be too hard to hurt it. The small Fright Trains he thinks he can abuse a weakness: you can derail them with train puns. Additionally, taking it seriously instead of funny, Christopher thinks that as you scale him down his durability would take a hit as well and he can grab a few and break them, then use their remains as shields which could also demoralize the rest. Adam’s not sure that his invulnerability/strength would suffer just because he’s little - he’s over-the-top enough normally that scaling him down doesn’t make him something that’s not still strong and dangerous.
- In the Enhanced Edition era, you made sure that everything included in the base set had an important role in the OblivAeon event - with Definitive Edition, does that still hold true? How would Magmaria feature in that event? Certainly some parts of the conflict take place there (because it takes place everywhere), and we absolutely see Magmarians coming to the surface and participating in the larger battles. You’re right to note that it’s not likely as big of a “set piece” location as most of the other Environments - it’s likely just something along the lines of all of the other various “cameo” style things that show up during the event.
- What’s a groan-worthy dad joke that Legacy has told? Probably something along the lines of the one Adam uses constantly where the kid says something like “I’m hungry” and the dad response is “Hi, Hungry. I’m dad.” Maybe something like somebody out in the ocean yells “I’m drowning” and he swoops down to pluck them out with a “Hi, Drowning. I’m America’s Finest Legacy!”
- The last we saw of the Contract, the last we saw of him was when he was lost in Writhe’s pocket dimension - will we see what comes of that? [various muttering about it in a way to make one very suspicious that there’s definitely more to come here without them actually saying so]
- Follow-up: same question about Citizen Burn - is he dead or “we shall see”? To stop doing the bit, there are a lot of cases like this that are going to come down to “we shall see”. The two categories of why are “we have a plan and know what’s going to happen to that character” and “we don’t have a specific plan for the character yet, but we don’t want to rule anything out because we might think of something good and don’t want to have to retcon what we say in the meantime.” That ability to “bench” a character as a dangling plot thread is a very useful tool, not just for them, but writers in general.
- What happens to the Block when the Mist Storm Timeline is destroyed? That depends on whether it manages to get sealed off from that reality in time or if the mists manage to get in first. They know a lot about what happens in and to the Vertex universe, but there just isn’t a good reason to really work on it right now. There’s stuff in the Disparation book during the Multiverse era that’s more relevant to what they’re working on in terms of their actual job in coming up with fake comics stuff than working on Vertex would be. They have ideas for Vertex as a setting down the line, but it’s just so low on the priorities list at the moment that they don’t really devote time to developing it. That said, feel free to request Vertex stories for Writers’ Room episodes. Who knows if there’s enough interest there?
- In the Antimox episode you mentioned that you were surprised that we hadn’t caught on to who he really was given the fandom’s past ability to figure out even more obscure things from less data: what are some examples? They never explicitly said that Mr. Fixer was blind in the game until after somebody guessed it in the forums. The most obvious place to look for this, however, was the high speed progress that was made during the OblivAeon ARG - breadcrumbs that they were leaving for a puzzle that was supposed to be several steps down the line were being noticed and picked up immediately. A problem with trying to name this kind of thing, however, is that we’re talking about details from the first few years of the game’s existence and it’s just hard to remember. One place they can remember, however, was a lot of the stuff in the scribblings on the Time-Crazed Prisoner’s wall. Stuff like that would get dissected by various people and people would make guesses based on them - some were wrong, but not all of them.
- Follow-up comment in chat remembering how we were solving things so quick in the ARG that at one point they had to break character to tell us to slow down because they couldn’t keep ahead of us in making the ARG content - they thought we would take weeks to get through everything and so had time to write/draw parts of it that weren’t ready when they launched it.
- Can you bring the Trolley Problem into the infinite quandary you had earlier? Since there are infinite realities, there’s some subset of realities (and very likely infinite realities) in which those Christophers and Adams describe an Infinite Trolley Problem. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those realities.
- In the SCRPG book’s Archives section I see that Miss Information now has the Pandemonium Key that Deadline used to use; how did Deadline use it in his attack on Earth (the description seems to be along the lines of helping to predict the future, but how is that helpful during his assault)? It was the thing that prompted him to try to head off whatever calamity Earth was heading towards - he used it to see that something bad would happen, he just was mistaken about the nature of that bad thing. Once he’s in the fight, he uses it to protect himself by knowing more short term what’s about to happen. It doesn’t give you perfect precognition, but he kind of uses it as a “danger sense module”. It’s also dangerous to use as it’s prone to “self-fulfilling prophecy” issues.
- Once he became Lifeline, how would he use it as a hero? The best way to use it as a hero is to not touch it. You start worrying too much about the possible outcomes that it kind of winds up poisoning your decision making process.
- How did Miss Information even get her hands on it? It was taken from him when he was defeated as Deadline. More accurately, it was probably “lost” in the process of him being defeated, but “lost” in this context likely really meant that somebody took it and from there it found its way into Miss Information’s possession. It stayed on Earth when he went back to the Enclave.
- Did Tarogath leave any other Endling tech behind that might show up again later? Not a lot, but also not none. It’s also worth noting specifically that “Endling tech” isn’t necessarily a useful category in itself. Varusiod tech is a specific thing (and the Pandemonium Key is an example), but the other stuff is going to be varied depending on which species it originated with. Tarogath brought out of the Enclave with him both as Deadline and Lifeline, and some of those things are still just out in the universe now (and not all of it due to Tarogath’s actions in any event), but they’re just various pieces of alien technology rather than a cohesive “Endling tech” category. Even if it were, though, there’s not a huge amount of it out there.
- When you’re drawing alien tech, do you think about how it would be held or manipulated or do you just draw whatever looks cool and out of the ordinary? A little of both. Very frequently it’s just “let’s get weird with it” and then he works out how you’d hold the thing later. It being counterintuitive to hold helps to make something look alien.
- How would you model something outside of fighting with SCRPG (say, an intergalactic game of basketball)? You could do it as Overcome actions, but it might be more interesting to treat the hoop as a Lieutenant and make “attacks” to try to score. You might not let heroes use their combat Abilities (depending on how you’ve set this competition up), but that could be a way to hack the die mechanics to apply. You wouldn’t want the game to get easier as you go, though, so maybe treat it as, say, a d8 Lieutenant in terms of whether or not your “attack” succeeds, but rather than reducing the die size, you just score points. Boosts/Hinders can still apply for offensive/defensive teamwork and Defend actions can be made on the basket.
- Can you please explain the interaction between Modular characters (whose modes may prevent types of actions) and Abilities that grant multiple action types (including ones that a given Mode might disallow)? If an Ability tells you to do a thing, but your current Mode doesn’t allow that action type, then you can’t use that Ability. However, you can work things out with your GM to tweak things. Like, if an Ability says that you can Attack and then Hinder, but your current Mode doesn’t allow Hinders, you might work out a narrative reason that might swap it to Boost instead. That being said, they don’t think that’s really necessary - you should have enough options when building your character to give you enough tools to still allow for interesting play. The important thing to consider for the rules generally is that something that says you cannot do something takes priority over something that says you can do that thing (unless there’s a further “even if something would otherwise prevent you” or similar rider on the effect).
- Why are some Modes incapable of a certain action from a thematic perspective? Should players only consider Modular or Form-Changing Archetypes for their characters if those themes suit the character in question? That’s more something for you to work out in your game than something for them to hash out here. You would want to work out on a case-by-case basis why your character couldn’t do [x] in Mode [y]. Take a look at Bunker and Muerto’s sheets for examples. It’s entirely possible to make lots of characters who all have the same Ability on their character sheet, but the narrative realization of what that mechanical Ability does in the game can be unique to any given character. The ways that Modes or Forms work is no different in that regard. If, in the process of figuring that out you realize that those Archetypes aren’t the right fit, then maybe look at a different Archetype and just flavor whatever it is that your character is doing as them changing form or whatever.
- Does Adam have any advice for avoiding back pain when drawing for long periods? It’s behavioral changes. Adam has a good chair, but no chair in the world is going to be enough without good behavior. Periodically stand up, walk around, stretch, etc. Christopher knows somebody who draws at a standing desk, but that wouldn’t work for Adam. He has more tips for avoiding messing up your wrist (which is mostly just to move from your elbow instead of your wrist).
- Suppose the Metaverse had a ridiculously popular third-person shooter game with crossovers to every possible IP under the sun, which Sentinel Comics characters would be in it? The game would be called TooWeaks. Given the stuff that’s in FortNite, probably all of them. Certainly the Freedom Five, Prime Wardens, and Dark Watch as well as a bunch of villains. Yay licensing. Speaking of which, FortNite people, give them a call.
- What’s the low point in the Metaverse for Sentinel Comics as a company (bankruptcy scares and whatnot)? Should I just wait for The History of Sentinel Comics (how’s that coming along, by the way)? Correct, that’s a question for the book. It’s coming along nicely as, now that the Guise book is off to the printers, it’s one of the next books to get a lot of attention. There is a bankruptcy element to the Sentinel Comics story, they think in the ’90s.
- If Tarogath had been driven mad by one or more of the alien artifacts he used, would Jansa have been able to restore his mind with her “preservative” tech? We know it works for people’s physical bodies, but could it restore mental maladies as well? It probably could, but after the shenanigans that Tarogath got up to, it’s entirely possible that she would just lock him away somewhere safely and let him remain in that state indefinitely. Maybe she’d help a few times, but eventually just kind of resign herself to the fact that he’s just going to go and get messed up again and then just leave him.
- Who would be included in the Metaverse equivalent of Super Smash Bros.? Nobody as those only use video game characters, not comics characters. The more direct equivalent would be Marvel Vs. Capcom, in which case the answer is once again pretty much everybody. Or at the very least, all of the “main” characters but then some surprising ’90s deep cuts. It depends when the game comes out.
- Are powered-people able to become attuned to Egyptian relics? If so, would the Egyptian avatar’s power set supersede the original set of powers entirely or would they wind up with both? It depends on the person, but it is entirely possible. It’s uncommon for anybody to attune to these things, though. Somebody figuring out a way to use them as a conduit for power is possible (although probably ill-advised at best), but the attunement in the way that Ra uses the staff is very rare.
- When will we get a Season 4 RPG stream? It would either have to be online or it will have to wait until the recording/streaming room at the new office is all ready, which it is not yet. Maybe next year sometime? It’s a time-intensive activity - the previous ones each basically replaced a full week’s work for everybody.
- [In passing in an earlier video game question, Christopher mentioned that the last shooter he really got into was Team Fortress 2] Who was your TF2 main? He did a lot of everything, but he was on various competitive charts as Medic. He was a very good Medic. People kind of forget about the fact that the Medic gets a formidable close-range attack and so would often run by whoever the Medic was healing in order to get to him, at which point he’d pull out the bone saw, cut them down, and go back to healing. Adam didn’t get into TF2, but he played Overwatch and was a Mercy main.
- What would Sk8-Blayde’s move set be in a fighting game? Lots of zoning stuff (with his guns), but also probably also some charge moves. Like, zone zone zone with the guns at range, but if you close the distance with him you get hit with his charge moves modeling his rocket skateboard.
- How many made-up materials exist in Sentinel Comics besides OblivAeon shards and Isoflux Alpha? Any really famous ones with weird properties (stuff like Marvel’s vibranium and adamantium, say)? There’s a bunch of fake made up metals and gasses. They’ve got blightsilver that originated in that one Headhunter issue they did. There’s not likely anything as famous as adamantium, though, besides maybe OblivAeon shards and Isoflux Alpha. There’s probably some super hard metal (“impervasteel” they make up on the spot as a jokey option), but nothing that got the cultural penetration of adamantium. There’s probably some metal that disrupts magic (Christopher throws “Voidium” out there, but I don’t know if that was meant to be that anti-magic stuff or just a weird substance in general). Maybe they’ll get more into this kind of thing in the future.
- Would Legacy’s “single attack negation” power let him survive the moon being dropped on him? That’s amazing. Baron Blade drops the moon directly on top of Legacy, but then Paul stands up out of the rubble and dusts himself off saying “That was a close one.” Now they imagine Baron Blade standing there and just wailing on Legacy with a baseball bat in the moment just before the moon hits him. Even better, he’s standing on the moon as it’s descending and hits him at the last moment before impact.