Podcasts/Episode I-60

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The Letters Page: Editor's Note 60

Original Source

Intro

Good morning, Sentinels!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:27:06

It's another beautiful day here in Letters Page land! Adam and I hadn't recorded in a couple weeks due to the Essen Spiel convention, so we're extra punchy in this recording — we're sorry / you're welcome?

Here's the upcoming schedule!

  • Tuesday, November 1st: Episode #229: Writers’ Room: The thing that scared Dark Visionary
  • Tuesday, November 8th: Episode #230: Creative Process: Darkstrife and Painstake Foes
  • Tuesday, November 15th: Episode #231: Writers’ Room: A minor villain gets real scary
  • Tuesday, November 22nd: Editor’s Note #61
  • Tuesday, November 29th: Episode #232: Writers’ Room: The Mocktriarch Story

Send us letters! Please! Do it now!

Oh, and because you asked for it, here's photographic evidence of Christopher at the German tiki bar:

Enjoy!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Questions

  • In Editor’s Note 59 you said that Setback’s split of the timeline during OblivAeon wasn’t established until the Vertex writers pointed to it as their starting point; but, in the OblivAeon episode it was used as a plot point that Chrono-Ranger and La Comodora knew about (and OblivAeon by implication) given that if he were to just destroy Rook City again that would make the two universes similar enough to implode - my guess is that the other universe existing was established, but that it wasn’t used for anything else until Vertex, is that so? Yeah, that’s what they meant - the fact that there was a timeline split that just happened was known, but nothing about the Mist Storm or other details about its further development were known.
  • Fanatic has powers that let her belief in something’s nature change it to match - this is very similar to a concept regarding the Orks from Warhammer 40,000 (e.g. they think that red vehicles are faster - and so they are); can Fanatic imbue a person/thing with power if she were convinced that they had it? If somebody managed to convince her that they themselves were an Angel of the Lord, would it grant them powers? Has that ever been used to make an ally or enemy for her in the comics? Yes. That’s the story they told regarding the Idolater having “the Spear of Longinus”. However, only a few people know enough about her powers to be able to game the system in that way. The Idolater managed it that once, but he likely couldn’t trick her again.
  • You’ve said that Apostate always presents as male, but he’s also possessing bodies - does he only possess male bodies to begin with or does he take whatever body is handy for his purposes and his powers just alter them accordingly? Is there ever a comic run where he presents as female to lay low? Apostate most commonly presents as male, but they can totally see stories where he’s taken a female form to pull off some scheme before a reveal that it was really Apostate the whole time! When he’s in his “this is what ‘Apostate’ really looks like” form, it’s male and that supersedes whatever corpse he’s using at the time (because he’s just magicking it to look like “him”). Even when he’s using a “disguise” (like he did in that definitely-not-Cuba story) he’s usually going to be a man, but there are at least a few where he’s a woman.
  • You talked previously about Alpha’s interactions/relationships with Dark Watch, but you didn’t mention Harpy: given that Tabitha likely covered the Matriarch’s rampage, what was her reaction to Harpy joining the heroes? Most people didn’t have a close view of the Matriarch event to begin with, but even then Alpha, of all people, learning that the person behind all of the bird murders (burders?) was some teenage girl under the influence of a magical curse would get some sympathy (and publishing-wise, the more sympathetic Night’s Plutonian Shore version is the only one that reporter Tabitha Taft would have had a chance to interact with).
  • What about other super-team contacts: Wraith is the logical point of contact for the Freedom Five and Dark Watch since she’s already got a strong presence in Rook City - when Montgomery Industries and her normal operations started being more Megalopolis-based, did Harpy become that contact due to her connection with Tachyon? Would Tempest or Haka be the more likely person that the Freedom Five would contact if they needed the Prime Wardens (and I’d assume that Haka would default to calling Legacy if necessary)? Any other regular “on call” people of note? Haka, having been one of the Freedom Five might be the person to go between the teams - but that is so much of a piece of Sentinel Comics trivia rather than being something modern readers would have experienced makes it somewhat less obvious. Let’s go through the list on Prime Wardens and Dark Watch to see who they’d call:
    • Setback calling Freedom Five: the front desk. Calling the Prime Wardens: That’s tough because how do you call them generally? Setback wouldn’t. [Note from chat: “I think that Setback would leave a message on Anthony Drake’s home answering machine. Like, from before he became the Argent Adept.” That’s fun!]
    • Expatriette: The Wraith or Legacy (for different reasons). No direct contact with PW.
    • NightMist: Legacy or Tachyon, for PW she’d contact The Argent Adept via magic.
    • Mr. Fixer wouldn’t talk to anybody during DW times.
    • Harpy: Tachyon and Argent Adept (if she was desperate to get in contact with the Prime Wardens she could manage it).
    • For the Prime Wardens, Argent Adept could call up NightMist easily. Haka is on good terms with basically everybody. The trick is that they’re not really a “call for help” kind of group. Neither are the Freedom Five - if you’re at Freedom Tower when something comes up, you’re welcome to help, but they don’t “put out a call”.
  • What killed the Varusiods (the only things we have to go on are a mention of the Overwar in the Enclave of the Endlings EE deck bio and a note in Editor’s Note 44 that they got involved in places reserved for Singular Entities and that contributed to their downfall)? Did they fight a war against one or more Singular Entities? Was Hul involved somehow? “This page intentionally left blank.” It’s not a “secret” Christopher and Adam are keeping from the audience so much as it’s “lost knowledge” in-setting. It’s not something depicted in the comics. There are no records of the Overwar. Nobody talks about the Overwar. The Overwar started when the Varusiods began to tread on the “territory” of Singular Entities and by that overstepping invited destruction upon themselves. It involved Varusiods fighting on both sides, but it wasn’t only Varusiods fighting. It’s very much “unknowable cosmic mythos stuff that’s never to be expounded upon…” That is, right up until some writer eventually gets the green light to do a limited series or something to explain it. That never happened before OblivAeon, but it could in the future. It’s possible that such a story would actually detract from things in a “the mystery was more interesting than knowing” kind of way.
  • Alpha had a major character development in the pages of Dark Watch during the 18-month werewolf arc; did any Dark Watch members have major character development in the pages of Alpha: The Wolf-Woman? That’s also in the era of Harpy starting to do stuff without having NightMist there as much, so some of that might qualify. Outside of that, not so much. Harpy was in a “development” phase at the time, but the others weren’t (at least not in particular outside of the “everyone is always under development” sense). That does eventually lead to the “Harpy in the Realm of Discord to counter Apostate” story.
  • Given that the Freedom Five boardgame is coming closer to release, are the “comics” that come with it canonical or are they meant to be in their own little bubble? They’re meant to be canon. Christopher needs to get final review on some things. They’re mostly working in the ’00s. They’ve done an above-average job in terms of checking in regarding this stuff.
  • In the image for NightMist #114, she seems to be equipped with a number of relics that we may or may not be familiar with; it makes sense that a powerless NightMist would use them, she’d also be aware that some relics might wind up causing a rather strong connection to magic (coughMatriarchcough) - does she take precautions to avoid such problems? Does the regression serum that she was injected with prevent magic from “connecting” to her? Is she still “connected” to magic strongly enough that the relics don’t really have a risk of connecting more strongly? Does it depend on the relic in question? On the writer/story? Obviously it depends on the writer/story. In this time, NightMist is doing magic via relics because she’s lost her unnatural connection (in the form of the curse - she still has to have some affinity to and knowledge of magic otherwise she couldn’t use them; not just anybody could). She is putting herself at what she views as an acceptable risk in order to do this.
  • Who would you pick Kevin Conroy to voice in Sentinel Comics (also, I nominate Ed Blaylock as The Chairman)? Kevin Conroy is difficult since they haven’t really heard him do anything but Batman. That makes this question basically boil down to “who has Batman’s voice?” and they don’t really have anybody in mind for that. Y’know what - they have him come in for a guest spot as Sk8-Blayde or an alternate universe male Wraith. Chat suggests Apex (but Adam sees him as more of a Fred Tatasciore character). [Chat later throws in Nika Futterman as Alpha and Douglas Christopher Judge as Apex into the ring (bonus of Jim Cummings as Gumbo) - they like these. Another later chat suggestion is Kevin Conroy as Hangman, which could work.]
  • We know that Fanatic bested Legacy in the Cosmic Contest, but how would she do against Iron Legacy in the types of fight setups that were mentioned in episode 223? What was she up to in the Iron Legacy timeline? She was dead in the Iron Legacy universe. How would he do in a “wrestling” match? Murders, probably. He very likely 1v1’d Fanatic in his timeline and he’s still around and she’s not.
  • Why is Gumbo more hyena-like than wolf? Are there “were-creatures” besides wolves? It hasn’t been stated either way whether there are non-wolf were-creatures. Gumbo is a werewolf, but he’s just got his own thing going on. “Aren’t you a hyena?” “What’s a hyena?”
  • Does La Comodora, as a general practice, try to avoid being present in a timeline when it splits to avoid making more copies of herself? If so, does she have any means of telling when a split is going to happen so that she can duck back out into Ur-Space? Does she only notice afterwards and then goes back to remove/prevent the extra copy of herself? She has a relic that keeps her chronally locked so that when timelines split she doesn’t. She recognized that this was going to be a problem and so went out of her way to prevent it.
  • [Letter continues with a note: after it came up in a recent episode I went back and checked - she rammed her ship into OblivAeon after the timeline split would have happened, which is what got me thinking about it.] Good thing that she has that relic that prevents her from splitting, then!
  • [I’ve got a question about the rules of DE! Specifically, you’ve made a clarification on a core set card to the playtesters, but not to the public. I assume based on it being about a core set card, it’s OK to be made public, but I’d like to know for sure before I ask my question. Don’t want to break any secrecy stuff…] Yeah, it’s a core set card so feel free. Tell you what, we’ll do a section on DE questions in the next Editor’s Note.
  • [The letter’s page episode I requested was “A story where Fanatic’s actions are shown to be heroic because of her faith.” The episode in the month afterwards was the Last Temptation of Helena , where she wasn’t a hero because her faith explicitly failed (and the thing that cliched it to me was an offhand comment about how she succeeds because of “blind faith!”, then it was immediately reneged and explained “which is obviously not great”). All this to say I loved the episode regardless, and I have other heroes that I think deserve an episode before another fanatic one, but after considering it a bit here’s probably a better episode request; “A Day in the Life: Fanatic”] They think that they didn’t use that prompt because “she succeeds because of her faith” is actually most stories. They want to tell the interesting ones. Additionally - that aspect (success because of her faith) is something that will come up or not during any given story, but it’s not what the story is about because it’s the standard operating procedure.
  • Have any characters had multiple books dedicated to them at the same time? Legacy had Justice Comics and America’s Finest Legacy, but when the former returned from legal limbo it kind of wound up being a grab-bag book a lot of the time. It still had plenty of Legacy-focused issues, but it wasn’t specifically “Legacy’s book” anymore. The Wraith never really had a dedicated book either - you kind of had Mystery Comics and Freedom Five simultaneously, but even then neither are “the Wraith book” (or at least, MC isn’t always a dedicated Wraith book). Legacy also has FF in that way. Tachyon and Absolute Zero both had limited series and could possibly have had an issue of FF focused on them at the same time… The most common thing that’s really along the lines of what the question is getting at are probably those “has a solo book while also being in a team book” situations.
  • A prior episode brings up the idea of Biomancer making a copy of a member of Daybreak: would he be more likely to use the name Pyrite [aka fool’s gold] or Mockstar? Mockstar. Pyrite is a little too clever.
  • [Letter from an Australian listener: regarding non-US listeners, I got into Sentinels backwards. I was looking for superhero RPGs and founds the Starter Kit and promptly got lost in the weeds regarding this villain that was supposed to be dead but was really alive, plus there’s this giant tree - nobody was giving me context on any of this; what the hell? Frantic Googling got me a lot of mentions of “cards” which didn’t really help, but eventually I found the podcast. Try to imagine how bewildered I was starting at episode 1 and just trying to find context for this giant tree and finding this entire cast of characters. I hope my confusion amuses you.] It does! They’re always amused by how people enter into this nonsense at this late stage. If you started with the card game and then the podcast as it aired, that’s one thing and it makes sense. Jumping in now seems so inaccessible but they guess it’s not. That is how people get into comics, I suppose - they just buy what’s on the rack and go from there.
  • [Another non-US listener story: I had played SotM while at University and enjoyed it. Then, a few years later, I stumbled across a passing mention of Tachyon somewhere and 17 browser tabs later I fell into a TV Tropes hole that eventually got to the SotM page itself and found myself wondering where all of this extra story information was coming from. Some more internet digging later (maybe via the subreddit?) I eventually found the podcast. I listened to the Expatriette episode and was immediately hooked! She quickly became a favorite in both lore and mechanics and I can’t wait for Rook City Renegades.] That’s great! Glad to have put the lore out there in a super accessible format… No, wait… “Sorry” is the word we were going for there. [But then again, some madman saw how useful a more accessible record would be on day 1 and here we are.] Good thing we have The History of Sentinel Comics coming out… no that’s no good either since it’s about the company and not the in-universe stories… Sorry again! It answers a lot of questions that people aren’t asking and raises further ones.
  • [While listening to old episodes I note your jokes about people listening to episodes without reading their titles: I am one such listener! My podcast app has an auto-play and shuffle option, so I’m usually going into the episodes blind.] That sounds like a nightmare to them.
  • Regarding Citizens Hammer and Anvil, at what point in the design process did you decide to put your own faces into the game? Why make them villain lackeys? We know you’ve based some characters on friends (Pete for Setback, for example), but are any character appearances based on people you know? Everything they create is influenced by everything they’ve seen in their lives, so there’s probably some of that in there. Some of the Citizens are vaguely inspired by (rather than “based on”) people they know - like one specific bit of their “look” or a hobby or something. Names are frequent nods to a friend. As for Hammer and Anvil - they went for minions because they didn’t want to be grandiose about it. They aren’t main villains or heroes. Why Citizens in particular? Because in the core set that was the only deck with individual human characters. The gimmick with the characters themselves is based on their characters in World of Warcraft and they had a lot of fun being able to 2-man most of the game’s content. Christopher’s paladin would run in and aggro everybody in the area and was tough enough to live long enough for Adam’s fire mage to rain fire down on them. It was a simple loop, but it was fun. That’s basically the exact shtick that Hammer and Anvil do and it was fun to include that.
  • Can you come up with a new Citizen trio right now based on Paul, Trevor, and Jean-Marc? Man, the Citizens can be tough, but it’s a fun exercise to take any group of things to do this with. Christopher has it: Paul is a very straightforward guy and they emphasize the “nerd” aspect of it by having him do math equations in the air or something and is a debuffer type. Jean-Marc takes sound in the environment around him and can turn that into music that he can use offensively. Trevor plays with both of those (individually or together) and uses them in a new way - say taking a Paul debuff and “flipping” it to buff somebody else or remixes the music to do something new. Citizens Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
  • How did you skip Canada as the second most downloads for the podcast? They may have simply been looking at non-North America listenership. Canada’s is higher now that he checks. The top 5 are US, Canada, South Africa, UK, and Australia.
  • Did your WoW characters have the names Hammer and Anvil or was that just a Citizens thing? Just the Citizens. They were Aneas and Ananthe [they spell Ananthe but I’m guessing on Aneas].
  • When you described Fashion in Cosmic Tales #531 you mentioned a ballerina outfit with rotating blades; how often does she choose to equip “normal” stuff? Would her cargo shorts give the power of “extra deep pockets”? Fashion wouldn’t own cargo shorts because such things shouldn’t be anywhere near “fashion”.
  • In SCRPG, how would you run a social encounter as a scene (like one where there’s a challenge and things could go wrong, but there’s no villain or environment causing problems)? The book talks about branching challenges and you could have a social scene that still has Overcomes (and Boosts and Hinders). There are stakes, just not violence.
  • So, Pete Riske had earned a full ride scholarship (before his records accidentally got deleted) and while his luck could account for some of it, in theory he still has to take exams and get the grades; just how smart is Pete? Given Expatriette’s upbringing, how “book smart” is Amanda? She is not terribly book smart. She’s incredibly clever. Pete is kind of the opposite. He’s not super book smart, but he’s a “good student” where his optimism and earnestness helps carry him through the process. His common sense is pretty garbage, though.
  • Are non-Alpha werewolves able to tap into their powers regardless of the moon phase? We’ve seen a card, Moonless Night, where they’ve all reverted to their human forms, so what’s going on? Werewolves are affected by the moon - a truly moonless night during a new moon might temporarily depower them and the full moon gives them a power boost even beyond any potential lack of control that comes along with it.
  • Does the Terrorform talk? No. There might be speakers that let the people running it “say” things to people outside, but it’s not presented as the Terrorform itself talking. It is not an autonomous robot. The Heart does have some basic AI to help operate the body, but that’s not the same thing. “The Terrorform does not have personhood.” The Revokers are actually running the machine, not just being carried around on it.
  • Was there an attempt at a depowered NightMist variant or was that too radical a departure from her gimmick to work in the game? How about a new deck based on that? They talked about a variant - they don’t think it’s entirely off the table except for the way they’re approaching variants [by which I assume they mean that expansion characters’ variants should mostly be in the box they come in]. It’s not super likely, but not impossible either. She’s not going to get a new deck for that idea, though.
  • I don’t remember if you’ve talked about this, but what powers do werewolves have and which legends/myths are carried into the comics (e.g. are they weak to silver, and if so, is it any silver or does it have to be special in some way, etc.)? They thought they’d done an episode that covered this. Most of the standard legends carry over. They’re strong, fast, tough, have better senses, etc.
  • Did Sentinel Comics ever have an imprint outside of the US similar to Marvel UK to reprint older stories and eventually produce original content? Almost certainly.
  • [Preamble about the Weekly One-Shots from the video game] Weekly One-Shots are not canon except when they’re retreading already-established ground. They never establish canon.
  • What sorts of differences are there in the Sentinel Comics version of Canada? Sure, Dawn’s from there originally, but are there more fictional cities and whatnot? Probably about as different from reality as the US is in the comics. You get a few new cities, but probably not new Provinces.
  • [Letter expressing empathy about the circumstances in which Christopher had to deal with learning about his grandfather’s death as they had a similar “found out while in a work situation” thing.] Thanks. A few people have reached out about this sort of thing. Christopher’s grandfather was a big part of why Christopher does the kinds of things that he’s doing (through example in the arc of his life and providing direct support). When a lot of people in the family were asking why he left his “real job” to do this game thing, his grandfather was supportive if Christopher really believed in what he was doing.
  • [Letter of appreciation in lieu of asking questions as they figure that getting started with the podcast at this point means that any questions they have will have already been asked by the time they catch up. It was fun getting DE and the RPG books from you at the Essen game fair.] Send them anyway. If they’ve gotten that question before, the worst that happens is they don’t answer it again. Also, from context Christopher now knows who you are! You gave him these amazing chibi Hammer and Anvil arts that you did
  • How many letters have you received that made you reach for the brain bleach? Very few. Not zero.
  • Did we ever get a follow-up on Wind-Walker or was that still “time will tell”? Still time will tell.