The Letters Page: Editor's Note 50
Our fiftieth Editor's Note! Amazing!
Run Time: 1:11:52
To mark this momentous occasion, Trevor is doing something new! Apparently, there's a thing you can do with podcasts where you set "chapters"? With info and stuff, and you can jump to them or something? I'm not sure how all this works — I don't even know if it did work! But we're shooting for it! Time will tell!
Here's the upcoming schedule:
- Tuesday, December 7th: Episode #197 - Creative Process: Singular Entities
- Tuesday, December 14th: Episode #198 - Creative Process: Villainous Holiday Plots
- Tuesday, December 21st: Editor’s Note #51
- Tuesday, December 28th: End of year break!
Listen in for questions about:
- OblivAeon, I guess
- The Last Infinity
- The Metaverse
- Jean-Marc & Trevor
- Definitive Edition
- and more!
Join us next time, for the last spooky episode of the year: Haunted Fanatic!
- Does OblivAeon exist in the past? It’s tricky. It’s tempting to say that Singular Entities exist everywhere and everywhen simultaneously, but maybe with a single “here/now” at any given point of their existence. Adam posits that they are likely at least somewhat constrained by time (as a general rule, possibly with exceptions for specific individuals for specific reasons) if only to make writing stories involving them easier. It might be easier to say that they are not constrained by the need for continuity between where/when they are - sure they’re here and now at this moment, but they can be anywhere/when else the next.
- So if somebody with enough power and skill were to travel back in time to the moment where Oblivion and Archaeon merged, could they prevent OblivAeon from happening by destroying one or the other of them at that point? Could some kind of grandfather paradox happen as a result or is OblivAeon eternal and clever enough to preempt such actions - doing something to trick any entity who tries doing so to think that they’ve succeeded? Saying it’s “fated” is going too far, but the important bit is that from the perspective of anybody who’s going to try to prevent that from happening, it’s already happened. Going back to change it won’t work because it already hasn’t. They don’t think that you could undo it. Part of the issue is that Oblivion, Archaeon, and OblivAeon are all Singular Entities and so even “when” this happened is kind of weird to think about. A point is made that in a Venn diagram of Singular Entities and Fixed Points, the former’s circle is almost entirely within the latter (that is, stuff Singular Entities are and do is “fixed” from our perspective, regardless of where “we” are). There’s another question later that might build on this, plus there’s an entire Singular Entity episode coming up next month.
- Is the “life” of a Singular Entity a timeline that could possibly loop back on itself or is it more of a single point that jumps around at will? More the single point - they do travel along with the normal flow of time when they’re within a reality and so you can draw a line tracking its existence from a mortal’s perspective, but they are meant to be a singular point. They don’t think that you could travel back to “before” OblivAeon’s destruction to find it as it’s now been destroyed, but that doesn’t reverse actions it took.
- Is there a Singular Entity of Time and are they capable of true time travel? That sounds like a great question for the upcoming Singular Entities episode.
- Ooo, Disparation issue where OblivAeon doesn’t form and we wind up with a separate multiverse? Neat idea, but no. There is no non-OblivAeon-forming reality due to the nature of Singular Entities to be the same across all of existence (with the noted oddity of Wager Master who 1) “plays the game” of any given reality if it’s one with a gimmick and 2) did his own weird thing so that Voss cutting Universe 1 off from the Multiverse means that there are currently 2 of him which will certainly never become a problem for anybody).
- What happens to the OblivAeon Shards that were in the Miststorm Universe when it was destroyed (scattered into Ur-Space, destroyed along with that reality, etc.)? Are OblivAeon Shards even destructible? They can be destroyed, but only through great effort and there is fallout from doing so (although, whatever those consequences are, they’re almost assuredly preferable to the consequences of actually using the Shards for any length of time). Specifically in the case of the Miststorm Universe, it’s likely that a bunch of them were collected by some Prime Aspects prior to the universe ending. They wouldn’t just survive on their own, but they could be (and most were) actively retrieved prior to that happening.
- Was OblivAeon-empowered Voss Singular? Yes - for a brief moment, that Voss was Singular. It was at the moment of taking that power and becoming so that he realized that there were others out there in the Multiverse (and that they were also now aware of him) and decided to seal this one universe away just for himself. Voss gave up his shot at actually becoming a Singular Entity by doing so. That’s not to say that this was a dumb move - he also realized that he was less powerful than all of the others due to his power being stolen - it’s already entropic in nature and he didn’t get all of it in the first place. Any other Singular Entity could likely wipe him out of existence, and so he does the safe thing and locks everyone else out. This costs him a significant amount of the power he has, but that still leaves him as top dog here. He would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling
kidsheroes. It’s really fun to think about something that wasn’t Singular becoming so. “Instantaneously” getting expanded throughout everywhere and everywhen and then just saying “nope” and collapsing back down to one reality again by burning up a Singular Entity’s worth of power. “That’s intense.”
- Does that mean that ObliviVoss was unaware of the second Wager Master? Voss was aware of there being a Singular Entity known as Wager Master out in the Multiverse. He was also aware that when he sealed away the one reality that he was the only Singular Entity there. Both of those were true. What he was unaware of was the contingency plan/backup that Wager Master had set up that resulted in a “new” version of him popping into existence within the seal. At that point, Voss had already used up his Singularness and was unaware of that new WM showing up. Nobody outside of Universe 1 is aware of the second WM either (and he just assumes that he and possibly everything but this one reality was destroyed and that was what activated his backup, so nobody knows that there are 2 copies of him in existence).
- In Publisher’s Note #4 you said that a prospective cultist of OblivAeon would be unable to bring him back by assembling OblivAeon Shards because that’s not enough: other remnants of him exist within Akash’Flora and Aeon Girl (although in diminished form) - if Aeon Girl stuffed Argent Adept’s home in Akash’Flora full of OblivAeon Shards and climbed in after them, what would happen? Could something be done with that situation to reconstitute OblivAeon (although presumably weaker)? The idea here is to combine the OblivAeon Energy that had been dispursed into Scions (now in the form of Aeon Girl) with the OblivAeon Energy in Akash’Flora (which is the remnants of what was pulled out of Voss) and combine that with a bunch of the physical matter that OblivAeon was made of (the OblivAeon Shards). What would happen? Probably nothing. Well, that’s a lot of energy density in one spot and so there’s likely to be some weird stuff happen, but OblivAeon’s not going to spontaneously reform or anything like that. You can’t make a cake by just putting all of the ingredients in a bowl together - there’s other stuff you have to do. You’d likely need either every single OblivAeon Shard and the collective residual OblivAeon energy that’s been imparted to people through them, or you’d need some other medium that could make up the shortfall (and that’s more likely since Shards have been destroyed and some of those empowered people have died). They don’t want to talk about this too much because “this is on our list of things.” Meaning that it’s one of those shelved plot threads that are just waiting there for the right story to come along.
- Given your description of Clarity as a realm of “maddening radiance” on a scale of 1 to Oblivaeon how bad would it be if Citizen Dawn went there and absorbed said radiance (if it counts as light for the purposes of her powers)? They don’t think it counts as light for her purposes. They can think of a Disparation story where it works, though - either she goes there or is at least near a portal to there and gets hit by some of this stuff and 1) gets basically infinite power and 2) is driven mad due to her new connection to Clarity. Like, this radiance changes her power in some way, but also affects her mind. “The Maddening Dawn” or “The Dawn Breaks” are good titles for that one.
- You described The Grey has a realm of apathy - does it bleed into our realm in the form of depression? For example, are some people more naturally attuned to The Grey, and are therefore more depressed/apathetic? They think The Grey is related to Depression in the same kind of way that the Realm of Discord is related to Dreams. Not all dreams connect to the RoD and not everything that happens there is related to dreaming. Similarly not all depression comes from The Grey. Some dreamers connect to and experience the RoD and some depression has the person on the veil between this reality and The Grey. It’s sort of the opposite of the question - The Grey isn’t making them depressed, but their depression is giving them access to The Grey.
- Adam, if you could have any real-world comic artist do a cover for one of the writers rooms, who would you pick? Christopher is adding an additional stipulation that we need this cover in under a month and so Joe Mad is out. Adam will also stipulate it’s got to be somebody who’s still working today. He’d probably pick Pepe Larraz, Tyrell Cannon, Dan Panosian (of note, he’s the one who did the fake comic covers that were featured in the Logan film, which is a point in his favor as far as this particular job goes).
- [Chat question from Mr. Clockwork] So from the underworld episode you two commented on Æ not making sense to human rules and I come from a place that uses Æ: so my question is what is the chance that I’m not human? 27% No, wait. Considering this is from Mr. Clockwork, we need to keep in mind that he could be a sentient clock or maybe some kind of steampunk construct in addition to the standard options (e.g. flesh child). Maybe that bumps things up to something more like 48%.
- As I was re-listening to Werewolf creative process and you mentioned that Alpha the Wolf-Woman was volume 4 and it seemed popular enough to go through the end of the Multiverse how long into the RPG timeline do we get Alpha: the Wolf-Woman volume 5 and you seemed to have hinted that she will have a pack in the future (if the answer is time will tell that’s fine just curious)? There is a new Alpha book in the Post-OblivAeon era, but it’s not one of the starting 20. [Note, this is the way the question was asked, but as of a more recent episode we know that the original Wolf-Woman book does not count as a volume in the Alpha line of titles, so Alpha: The Wolf-Woman is only the third volume with the post-relaunch title being the forth.]
- [The brief, although we aren’t given the actual title as they think that it’s “giving too much away”:] Alpha’s back! In the first issue we get a quick primer on who the character is. Then she fights her way through [redacted], kills [redacted], is about to leave but then suddenly [redacted] - something she has never seen before. [Redacted] has always been [redacted] and never [redacted]. How will this change the story of Alpha?
- After the underworld episode, the Mists of R’lyeh are suggested to be the outskirts of Clarity; if the mists are what destroyed the Miststorm timeline, was anything actually destroyed? Or did that reality become a hell reality in its entirety? Or was the Miststorm categorically different in another unforeseen way? The Miststorm Universe being destroyed was not like the annihilation-style destruction that, say, OblivAeon did. A lot of stuff in that reality was destroyed, but what wound up happening to that reality is more akin to what happened to the home dimension of the Egyptian pantheon that is now referred to as the Egyptian Underworld. Yeah, there’s still something there, but it’s a husk of a reality and likely not nice to experience (note that Haka was lost in the Mists and managed to walk out of them - but Haka’s made of some pretty stern stuff).
- How long was the Spite we know and hate around? Prelude of the Soulless was in August ’83 and then Parse killed him in May of the following year, so is this a case like the Matriarch where the villain wasn’t around for long, but simply had a major impact during that time? Prelude was where two separate existing characters, Maniac Jack and Jonathan Donovan, were retconned into being the same guy. At that point he’s the guy with the red mask and the drugs, but hasn’t gone all Akira yet. That happens in the ’90s. [collective gasp from the fandom] The idea they have of Spite is that he’s like a slasher movie villain - you kill him over and over and he just keeps coming back. As they envision it now, he dies a bunch of times. Parse definitely kills him in ’84, but he comes back again and again. Then we get the Abomination of Desolation story in the ’90s [this is a retcon - we’ve been told before that this was contemporaneous with the earlier story]. Then a story involving Spite clones. Then the Agent of Gloom thing even later. The “Spite we love to hate” version of him runs from PotS through AoD, but he’s killed several times over that span (roughly a decade) and keeps coming back. They think that the Definitive Edition deck does a much better job of telling the story.
- It’s come up recently with a few different characters that you’ve said they’re “good guys” but not “heroes”; how do you personally define the distinction? “Good guys” are anybody whom you’re rooting for. “Heroes” are going out to fight crime. Like, Senator Parsons is a good guy, but not a hero. Even General Armstrong or police chief Callahan, who could be argued are “fighting crime” aren’t “heroes” in this sense. It’s almost a “brand decision” to be a hero.
- Follow up from later in the episode [moved here for convenience]: “Sorry for being a little too vague it seems, I had been thinking how of the characters you defined as a good guy but not heroic was our favorite Space Dad Captain Cosmic, who is definitely a costumed hero as opposed to someone like Soothsayer where the distinction made more immediate sense to me.” Captain Cosmic is a hero in the way that they mean here, but many of his actions aren’t necessarily “heroic”. His stories are frequently about him doing “good” things, but not necessarily “heroic” things or not done in a “heroic” manner until later in his story (when it’s kind of forced upon him). Some writers explore this more than others, and all of this is largely ignored in the Prime Wardens stuff - in that ensemble setting he’s often just written as “the British hero”. He’s not a morally gray character by any means, but he’s often shows as being reluctant as a hero. It’s worth pointing out that as many characters as possible are presented as being as human as possible - nobody’s perfect, and this is his imperfection.
- [One more letter about infinity: there were many others that were all helpful, but we’re trying to lay this to rest and are just doing one from Dr. B. on the air. This bit starts about 37 minutes in. High points:]
- When you described the number of people in any given reality as “not infinite, but approaching it” the phrase you’re likely looking for is “finite but arbitrarily large”. Counting everybody up is possible in a finite amount of time because there are a finite number of people, but it will take you a long time because of the staggeringly high number we’re talking about here.
- The best solution to this question is, once the world is back to “normal” again, for everybody who’s ever written in a letter to come down to the pub with Dr. B. where we can all have some drinks and argue about math and the Multiverse and they’ll buy a drink for the first person to successfully incorporate the Continuum Hypothesis into the NightMist/OblivAeon body-count debate.
- We likely can’t answer this question effectively without answering a lot of other questions about the nature of branching realities and the requirements for splitting off new ones - that probably means that Christopher and Adam will have to come out to drink with us.
- Dr. B.’s best guess: if there are a countable number of universes, which seems likely, based on what we’ve been told about how universes split and each has either a finite or a countably-infinite number of people, and if infinitely many of those universes have a NightMist, then OblivAeon and NightMist are tied for body count. When talking about what’s “bigger” in terms of infinity, we care about the Cardinality of the infinity, not Ordinality. While OblivAeon’s count would appear on its face to be a larger Ordinality, the infinities we’re talking about have the same Cardinality and are therefore the same. They are both “countable infinities” and all countable infinities are the same.
- Also, my area of expertise is logic, so any details on that Singular Entity of Logic you can give are appreciated.
- Credentials: Ph.D. in math and whose undergraduate thesis was on different sizes/types of infinity. It’s also been a long time since they had a chance to argue infinite numbers with anybody, so thanks to everybody for keeping this whole bit going as long as it has.
- How many of the various running jokes for The Letters Page exist in the Metaverse (or even the comics themselves)? Does the Cult of Gloom run a bar and/or is there a Metaverse brewery that makes a CoG-themed IPA? Was there some problem at the printer that resulted in all of the October issues getting delayed until November, thus solidifying the latter as the Spooky Month? Was there a battle for ownership of birth months? Any others? There’s definitely a Metaverse brewery who makes that IPA. The November thing was that a bunch of writers for Halloween issues got behind deadlines and so those issues got pushed to November and then they just ran with it. Birth months not so much as that’s mostly an Adam-specific joke.
- Has the weird messed up version of Clone Ranger, post it’s fight with CON, received a name (I’d not I’d like to submit “Chrono-Berg” Given your description of it as a hideous fusion of metal, flesh and warped matter)? It doesn’t have a name yet because it hasn’t appeared in any further stories. That’s a good suggestions, but is a bit too much of a specific reference.
- Is the Metaverse a multiverse? Are there multiple versions of Sentinel Comics (One were the Vertex universe happened, but one where it didn’t, for instance)? The way that would be possible is if there are multiple versions of our universe and in some of those universes Christopher and Adam make up Sentinel Comics material differently than they have here (and in some they don’t make it at all) and thus create different Metaverses by proxy.
- [Follow-up moved for convenience:] Are early retcons before the creation of the spreadsheet actually glimpses into other Metaverses (like in one Metaverse, the Southwest Sentinels did debut in the ’90s and participate in Vengeance)? Yeah, sure. Let’s go with that.
- Is the Egyptian Underworld a plane, like the Realm of Discord or Æternus, or a reality, like Vertex or the Inversiverse (I can remember you calling it both at various times, and Ammit’s schemes seems to imply that it is the former, as if it is a reality it would theoretically be outside of the sandwich bag. I just want to know for clarity’s sake)? Christopher starts to spin a yarn about how it could possibly have once been its own separate universe/reality and that its remnant “underworld” form just latched onto the comics reality at some point and that remnant is just a plane. Adam doesn’t think that’s necessary/a good idea and that it is just a separate plane like the RoD and Christopher agrees.
- Æturnus is a realm of torment. What are the geese like? Is there a Cerberus-like figure, and why is it a goose? There are no geese there as they were deemed “too cruel and unusual.”
- Does the “Plane of Eternal Mild Discomfort” ever appear in a Guise book? The place mentioned in the Creative Process with the eternally damp socks and the temperature just being a tad too hot/cold and all that? That sounds like something that could happen. There’s room for that sort of story given the number of unassigned Guise issues they’ve got banging around. Maybe somewhere in the part where he and Scholar are bouncing around from place to place.
- Ever since the change to the current credits music at the ends of podcast episodes my mind’s eye conjures up something like a sitcom credits sequence where the actor looks up from whatever they were doing like they just noticed the camera was there: I’ve met Christopher at Gen Con and have a decent picture of Adam from things like the podcast cover image, but what do Jean-Marc and Trevor look like? [This is a pretty fun bit where the two of them attempt to describe these people. I’ll just link places where you can find images of Jean-Marc and Trevor. That’s Jean-Marc looking “classic Jean-Marc”, but Trevor changes up his look a bunch. Long or short hair. Sometimes a full beard. Currently he has a mohawk. Stuff like that. The joke is that in the sitcom Trevor is recast after a few seasons due to some contract dispute. It runs from around the 56-minute mark through 58:45.]
- Once Definitive Edition has been out long enough, will there be full podcast episodes on the Events and Critical Events that we don’t already know about (especially the latter given that they don’t have the resolution described on the back of the card like regular Events do - or will this info be in the “lore” book that accompanies the game)? Sounds like good ideas for episodes if that’s what the patrons want to hear about.
- Note that as of recording (on 11/19) the containers for DE are unloaded from the boat and are actually within a day’s drive from GTG HQ - how long it will take for logistics to work out to get stuff to them is still up in the air, but they hope that they’ll have everything by the end of November (there are questions of when they’ll get DE, the foil cards, and the sleeves - they might not all be in the same containers and they can’t start shipping stuff out until they have all of it; they think it’s all in the current batch of shipments but they don’t know and so can’t promise anything at this time). The next KS update is scheduled for the first Tuesday in December [the 7th] and they should know more about things by then.
- [We end with a letter that starts with a heartfelt thanks for creating this game and world - SotM has become a family bonding thing and the added meta-layer of a fictional comics universe probably helped intrigue their dad who now loves playing the Scholar] Are there any more high-production-value episode ideas you two want to do (like the Legacy radio play, the Christmas episode, or the NightMist haunted house one)? Christopher and his rock-climbing friend Jed (also GTG’s IP lawyer who has a blog about law in superhero comics that has also spawned a book on the topic) have been working on a script for a Trial of Baron Blade play for a while, and even started reworking it into a radio play that could be used as a podcast episode. This is not ready yet and so it shouldn’t be proposed for an episode yet. They’ll let us know if/when the script is actually done and it’s an option. That’s about the only thing they can think of - the format is a lot of work. Having the script done is a major bonus for the Trial - Adam could just record whatever voice lines are required rather than having to be involved in the writing process itself. They’d have to be significantly ahead of their other work deadlines to make it happen. There’s the possibility of doing a radio play for an old Wraith program, but that in particular would also require them to find/hire an actor for the lead character.
- [Ends with a suggestion for people making characters in general, not just for SCRPG, to use the SCRPG character creation process - it gets you thinking about good background/character stuff that you might not otherwise.] They agree: Headlong having a courier business and other parts of his family/backstory was an organic outgrowth of the character creation process. They had worked out things like how his powers worked ahead of time, but it was only in going through the actual system that they “discovered” that side of his character.