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The Letters Page: Editor's Note 63
The first Editor's Note of a new year!
Run Time: 1:18:33
We start off this Editor's Note by acknowledging that we spent a long time on the stream before we actually started recording this episode. Whoops? Consider joining The Letters Page Patreon to witness such events yourself!
Here's the upcoming schedule:
- Tuesday, February 7th: Episode #238: Writers’ Room: Hostile takeover of Montgomery Industries
- Tuesday, February 14th: Episode #239: A romance the fans hated
- Tuesday, February 21st: Editor’s Note #64
- Tuesday, February 28th: Episode #240: Writers' Room: The K.N.Y.F.E./Sky-Scraper arc in Cosmic Tales that's happening simultaneously with the Scholar/Count Barzakh story
We also plug the other podcast that Christopher does with Paul, called the Play Greater Podcast. Check it out!
Join us next time for us finally talking about Busybody?! Can that be?!?! Seems unlikely. Time will tell!
- Regarding the characters chosen for inclusion in The Guise Book it seemed like some of the villains had thematic connections to individual heroes; Guise has Wager Master, Argentium/Nega-Guise, Cueball and Green Grosser, Hedgelord has the plant-based foes in Strychniles and Green Grosser, Pool Shark has Cueball, and the She-Nanigans are more of an opposing team for the Neighborhood Watch. What about the heroes and villains that don’t really “fit” this way: Guise-Cat, Postal, and Casa-Nova vs. Judge Mental and Power Creep (although I suppose that Guise-Cat, being just a cat, doesn’t necessarily need a nemesis)? Casa-Nova vs. Power Creep for just being weird space people/things? Postal vs. Judge Mental on a vague “government employees” theme? Why were these villains included in the book at all? Power Creep is there because it first shows up as “something weird growing in the back of Guise’s refrigerator.” Judge Mental and Postal have at least one crossover story. Mostly these are the villains that are notable villains for Neighborhood Watch in particular. Some of those villains have one-to-one relationships with specific members of the team, but not all of them need to.
- Judge Mental seemed to have more ties to Captain Cosmic and the Southwest Sentinels - was he moved to Neighborhood Watch stories because his usual opposition were all busy being out in space somewhere? Yes. It’s also a case where “his” heroes outgrew him.
- Why is Power Creep, this amorphous blob of blood and guts, in the silly Guise book of all places? It started its existence in the pages of Sentinel Comics as a weird blob in Guise’s fridge. It starts eating things, which Guise is okay with as it saves him the trouble of having to go through the leftovers to clean things himself. It’s just there in the background of stories for a while before it finally gains enough biomass to evolve into a horrifying monster. A recurring pattern of Neighborhood Watch stories is “this villain seems silly” right up until the moment where things get really serious (along with the converse of something that seems like it’s going to be this huge disastrous thing which gets resolved in some extremely silly way).
- [From chat: ] Cueball is pool-themed and what is Postal’s mailbag but an extra big pocket? True, I guess. Go ahead and try to build up a nemesis thing there if you want.
- In the “minor villain gets real scary” episode, you threw out Judge Mental as an option; given that mind control is a pretty dark powerset, it seems likely that stories involving him would likewise be dark - why include him in the silly book? It comes back to what they said a few points up - “things that seem goofy but turn out to be really serious” is the brand and Judge Mental is plenty goofy on the surface. The same can be said for Wager Master and Green Grosser. Guise’s comics frequently do a thing where once a certain point is reached the jokes kind of stop because things just got serious. His books tend to be better than a lot of other comics in terms of showing consequences of actions because the main character is bad at things (and consequences are a good source of comedy - it’s funnier to continue to follow events to see what the actual results are).
- In the “Urban Infestation” adventure, the key art for Setback shows that he no longer wears a mask; why? Is he just a public hero now? Did the Benchmark attack blow his identity? Did he realize that nobody knows who Pete Riske is anyway so it doesn’t matter? Did he just get tired of the mask slipping over his eyes in inopportune moments? It was weird that he had one for as long as he did. He did care about his identity for a long time, but he’s also just been functionally living “off the grid” anyway for a long time (like 20 years of comics) and there’s only so many times you can be seen in public with Expatriette before people put two and two together. Do people know who Expatriette is? Probably more people know of Expatriette than know of Setback. Do people know that she’s Amanda Cohen, daughter of Citizen Dawn? Almost assuredly not. Nobody cares what Setback’s real name is. He’s not protecting family by keeping his identity secret (at least not locally). This was a costume update coinciding with him making the post-OblivAeon change to heroing full time. Most of his story has him holding down jobs while heroing on the side.
- So, what are up Darkstrife & Painstake up to in the RPG timeline? I know a lot of their story is kinda unknown, but I am curious what they’re up to in the present day - are they out doing stuff in San Lazarus? Out punching demons? Something else (and if so what)? They don’t have a spot in the first lineup of books - they do get one (Darkstrife and Painstake) that starts up in May 2018. They never had their own ongoing title pre-OblivAeon (just the occasional limited series and then showing up in other books here and there). What are they up to? Fighting demons and Æternus stuff. The book starts out retreading a lot of ground that their various books had already over the years - it was too scattershot to have been easy to follow/collect. As such, the “we’re ‘demons’ but also ‘humans’” struggle and angst angle gets brought up a bunch early on. Those few big fans who had been following all of their adventures over the years would have found these early issues somewhat frustrating as it wasn’t doing anything new. Then they get past the first 6-issue arc where they establish all of that for the newbies and then we’re off to the races. They don’t “redo” the big Soulseeker story. It probably was more focused on “dealing with Æternal incursions”.
- Setback and Expat have an apartment post-OA, how are they paying for it? Stolen crime money - any time they defeat a criminal they take whatever the person has on them at the time. For real, though, the apartment is owned and operated by a management company that’s ultimately owned by Montgomery Industries as part of the big rebuilding projects they’re doing in the city.
- [The joke answer above prompts an aside about what Adam would do if given a large sum of “dirty money” - like, he’s in a car accident with a mobster who just gives him a million dollars so that they don’t get the police involved in the incident. Even knowing where the money “came from” he doesn’t see any problems with spending that money once it’s in his possession. This was first brought up in a discussion with his wife who either wouldn’t accept the money or would dispose of it/donate to charity rather than spending it. Christopher would repair/replace the vehicle, give half of the remainder to charities that he cares about, and the rest would be “his” money and would be saved/invested/etc. Both Adam and Christopher say that if the same situation happened, but the rich person involved was a known humanitarian or some other person that they knew the money was “clean” it wouldn’t change the answer. Christopher would likely still donate half of it.]
- I’ve been wondering about the book and organization G.L.O.B.A.L. - Is this a book that is mostly one-off adventures with various heroes/teams? Or does it keep to the mostly arc based format of modern comics? It has arcs, but it does jump around more than more focused books. The “organizational team” is a consistent through-line, but then you have a rotating cast of heroes depending on who’s best-suited for a given crisis. It’s a blend of styles - you might have a 6-issue arc that’s really a 2-part story and several one-offs. It’s a lot like Justice Comics in the latter Multiverse era.
- What is Alpha up to post OblivAeon? They’ve hinted at some of it, but it’s very spoilery. She does have a book that also launches in May 2018.
- Outside of the Sentinels of Freedom, Heritage, Time-Slinger, and Argent Adept; what other heroes are regular teachers at Freedom Academy? There’s a standard faculty made of non-heroes. Your list might actually be it in terms of the heroes you’d see there regularly. The Prime Wardens show up occasionally, but aren’t regular features. Like a guest-teacher seminar kind of situation.
- Do we know what TV shows and movies come out in the RPG era? No, that’s a Creative Process thing they could do, but they haven’t really thought it through yet. There definitely are things in 2017 and later; they just haven’t sat down to do the work.
- Are we going to see anything else from Galactic Strike Force (outside of Laser Dragons) in the RPG? Perhaps something fell through time or came from an alternate dimension before or during OblivAeon? Or maybe we see one of those species in its infancy? GSF takes place in a disparate future of the main Sentinels continuity. They don’t have any specific plans for that, but it’s all up for grabs.
- Does Harpy have the book with the eye, now that NightMist is gone? Yeah, it’s in the library somewhere.
- Do we ever get to see Darkstrife & Painstake reacting to The Neighborhood Watch accidentally creating a mildly Æternus tainted part of Megalopolis? I imagine they don’t react well, but I’m curious if we ever get a scene of them going “You idiots, what have you done?!” Almost definitely.
- The robot/cyborg RPG ability “living arsenal” says “Attack using [power] with a bonus equal to the number of bonuses you currently have”; how does this interact with the bonuses acquired via Hero Points? Hero Point bonuses are not “active” - they’re just floating there unconnected to anything in the scene until you use them. To think about it in SotM terms, they’re cards in your hand rather than cards in play. The analogous situation to living arsenal would then be some effect that keyed off of the number of Ongoings or Items/Equipment that you had in play. What you could do is “activate” all of your Hero Point bonuses by linking them to elements in the scene prior to your use of living arsenal.
- The Shadow archetype’s green ability “shadowy figure” says “Attack using [power/quality], defend using your Min die against all attacks until your next turn”; this is similar to other abilities although they say “… against all attacks against you…” - is this like a smoke-bomb situation where every attack everywhere is lowered until your next turn? That’s an oversight - it should have the “against you” stipulation like the others.
- A similar question for Form Changer’s “agile form”? Same thing, also an implied “against you”. These are good notes for an eventual reprinting of the RPG core book (they’re nowhere near that point, but good to have them on-deck), but you can kind of get the idea for the intent on these from the names. You are a shadowy form that’s hard to see properly or you have an agile form that makes you hard to hit.
- A question about art: in the Red abilities on page 108 there’s an art of a woman using her mind to stop bullets, but the bullets still have their casings on them - is that a mistake or an intentional art choice/joke? Adam considers it a mistake and it was likely a mistake on the artist’s part rather than something done intentionally. They both noticed it, but they left it in because comics artists definitely do that occasionally. Artists get stuff wrong all the time that wouldn’t be that hard to research to get right (say, a character who’s supposed to be a serious military person, but who is depicted as having lax trigger discipline - not that a character couldn’t be shown to have bad trigger discipline as an indication of other personality traits).
- Chat suggests a fix: it’s a psychic battle and some other telekinetic person threw the bullets at her.
- [More a comment than question, but I really liked the use of Guise as jokey-shapeshifter, Guise playing along with a gimmick, and Guise as aware he’s appearing in a comic/game as an in-the-book example of how you can build a given character in many ways that are all legitimate.] That’s why they did it! It’s fun to use Guise as the demonstration, but it’s an important part of the game design. It’s fair to tweak your character between your story arcs to show which facets of their character are most in-play for the scenario. That might not look as dramatic as Guise given his goofy shapeshifter nature, but it’s still a thing you could do.
- We know about the Sentinels of Freedom, the new Dark Watch, Neighborhood Watch, G.L.O.B.A.L., and the Paradigms. This is a twofold question, one for lore and one for mechanics: will we see more official hero teams emerging around the world/in the Sentinels universe? Will we ever see a mechanical rule set in the game to link heroes on the same team together (e.g. yellow abilities they can only access with X number of heroes on their team in the scene)? Both of these are “potentially/eventually yes” - they have ideas for other hero teams, but they have a bunch of stuff for known hero teams (like the Paradigms and the Prime Wardens) that they need to get through first. Mechanics for teams stuff like that is another thing that’s in the “plans for the future” pile. For both: don’t hold your breath as they won’t be any time soon, but also don’t despair.
- As we all know, different types of magic have different tastes, so I’m here to make the following suggestions for the taste of various other power sources:
- Does Power taste like mint? Physical might tastes like a chocolate and peanut butter protein bar.
- Cosmic like sausage gravy? Fizzy/effervescent like a lightly-flavored (but unsweetened) sparkling water.
- Technology like pistachio ice cream? It tastes flat and coppery.
- Physical training like B.L.T.s? Saltwater.
- There are a number of YouTube channels (or other content creators) who do deep dives on Dungeons & Dragons content (with videos on individual classes, races, even spells); if someone were to do a similar thing for the various components of the SCRPG system, who would you want to do so? What would you want them to go over? Would you sponsor such content? Whoever is passionate about it and informed on the subject. They want the person to be enthusiastic, but also right. They don’t have any specific people in mind for that sort of thing, though. Christopher doesn’t really engage with this kind of thing at all and the only D&D type person that Adam watches regularly is generally about making drastic changes to things as-written (outside the box thinking sorts of stuff), so it’s kind of beside the point for our purposes. They can imagine a bunch of different ways to approach it - maybe somebody where all they do is randomly generate an environment and then come up with interesting twists for it. Another could go over official content. Another might do custom builds. You could go as granular as episodes about individual archetypes or whatnot. They probably wouldn’t sponsor such things directly, but also wouldn’t care if they’re getting sponsorships for Raycon ear buds or whatever like everyone else does. They don’t do a lot of paid things like that in general because that’s another thing they have to have more direct involvement with.
- Because it’s Penguin Awareness Day, I have a question about the inconsolable curmudgeon, Icy the Penguin from Freedom Pets! In the episode, you said that Corporal the Hamster made it into legitimate Sentinels canon with a brief mention/cameo. Anything similar with Icy (I imagine a thankful kid gifting a penguin adoption certificate from Megalopolis Zoo to Absolute Zero after being saved by him. AZ pretends to not care, but actually loves it and it’s just seen on the wall in the same room as his chamber as a background detail occasionally)? They could see it. That’s a real deep cut, so they won’t go so far as to say that it definitely happens. Y’know what? Here’s what it is. This is not a thing that happens in-continuity. Somebody makes a Tumblr comic where this happens, it makes its rounds on the internet, and it is just accepted as true by the fandom even though it’s never acknowledged by Sentinel Comics directly. Things like this that are made by somebody who gets a character and helps other people understand the character better are good.
- How far along would you say the RCR Kickstarter fulfillment is at this point (knowing you’ll be further along by the time the episode goes up)? The morning of the recording they passed the 50% mark.
- We know Legacy is the best member of the Freedom Five at grilling (or at least, the only one we have any frame of reference for), but who’s the worst member of the team when it comes to the grill? You would think it’d be Absolute Zero, but it’s really Tachyon. She always rushes it/flips it too often.
- Here’s a thought I’ve had rattling around in my head a bit, but finally getting my copy of RCR brought it back to the front of my mind: Why is the Seer a Fanatic nemesis when we’ve seen him fighting NightMist much more often? He didn’t appear at all in Fanatic’s EE deck, only making an appearance in her DE one, while showing up in both of NightMist’s decks, and then pops up again in the Diamond Manor deck stealing artifacts from who else but NightMist. On top of that, of the stories you’ve told us on the air, we know of two separate stories where NightMist tries to stop the Seer from stealing power from Magmaria (one of which even involves Virgil Miller’s death, which seems like a big plot point for her), while the only full story involving both Fanatic and the Seer that I can find was the one told in Episode 168 - one that just so happens to also prominently feature NightMist. Is the shared Host connection between Fanatic and the Seer what warrants their nemesis status or do we simply have a skewed perspective as a result of the specific stories we’ve been told? You’re on to something! He fights Fanatic several times and they have that Host connection, but he’s also fought a bunch of other heroes over the years. Who’s to say who his nemesis will wind up being once he finally appears as a target in DE.
- With DE we have new villains and heroes (some we know some we don’t yet) where were these characters for Cosmic Contest? Does this mean eventually we have a redone Cosmic Contest to account for these new characters? They do talk about this occasionally. There are some other story things going on during Cosmic Contest that could explain some absences and they will probably need to reassess who all is involved in Cosmic Contest. Regardless, even if the total lineup changes a bit, the major story beats involved remain the same.
- Haka’s FA cover includes a little inset art with the title “Sorceress of the Suburbs!”; this title cracks me up, and I’m wildly curious. Does any amount of story exist for her? If not, care to make something up? All of those little inserts on the old anthology books are stories that were in the books that usually at least have a basic idea for what they were about. That one in particular was probably something about some normal, Leave it to Beaver June Cleaver wife and mom in suburbia who under cover of darkness goes into the basement and does magic. It’s Twilight Zoney where the neighbors don’t know what’s going on. Another of those inserts is “The Chill Touch of Death” and they don’t so much have a story for that one as they came up with a “scary image” to put on the cover. Most of these things are just going to be exactly what you’d expect from the title/image (which was also true of the actual comics they’re modeling these from).
- Is there anything you haven’t told us that you’re willing to tell us? Yes. Christopher has never told us before that he dodged a bullet when he was born. His dad desperately wanted Christopher’s name to be his name, which his mom nixed. Then he suggested using his name as Christopher’s middle name, which she also blocked. The compromise was to give him a Venezuelan middle name. His brother Anthony did get their dad’s name as his middle name. Adam basically never has breakfast - like maybe 10 times a year.
- Are there plans in the near future to get more information on Vertex or Prime War? Maybe mixing them into the RPG or another game all together? Or even maybe some Letters Page episodes devoted to them? Letters Page episodes are unlikely until they are actually going to do something with the setting. There are so many other things that they need to be doing/working on and they feel bad working on Vertex/Prime War era stuff when it’s not leading to something. They want to do stuff with them in the future, but time will tell on whether they actually get to.
- Since we’ve seen more examples of Golden Age art for books like Arcane Tales and Tome of the Bizarre, it got me thinking… did any of the anthology series have a host like the Crypt-Keeper for Tales from the Crypt or Cain/Abel for The House of Mysteries/Secrets? Definitely yes and they’re a big notable figure throughout Sentinel Comics stuff who they’ve never directly talked about, but have obliquely.
- For no real reason, pick one character - Balarian, Legacy, Setback, Absolute Zero: Adam chooses Legacy, he just likes Legacy (“I’m basic that way”, but also he’s the easiest to draw of those four). Christopher chooses Absolute Zero.
- Speaking of cooking… before you moved, you had the title of the best eggs cooker ever because of your stove, spatula, pan, and method; how are your eggs now that you have moved?? Are they still as good, or has the quality suffered now that you’ve lost one of the key components? They’re better now - Adam’s wife keeps chickens for eggs now so they’re always super fresh.
- Post OblivAeon, I can’t recall if the Freedom Five severed ties with the government, if so has the government brought forth a new team to fill that void, and they’re just generally meant to be unlikable to the fans? By the modern era in the Multiverse the Freedom Five only have a very ancillary connection to the government. The Sentinels of Freedom are licensed and haven’t “cut ties”, but G.L.O.B.A.L. is the group that’s got a stronger government association these days. There is no longer a “Freedom Five Initiative”. Vertex was the place where the Freedom Five are still a thing, but also very much no longer government-sanctioned.
- Now that Sherlock Holmes is fully public domain, it made me think, what would you both desire to be done with the characters you created when they enter the public domain? For people to tell stories with them. Do that anyway. It would be awesome if people were making fan comics now. Just do it. Like, maybe don’t sell the comic with their characters, but if you’re hosting a monetized site where you happen to be posting them, go for it. Even if you wanted to sell comics; get in touch with the intent of making a profit sharing agreement or something. Regarding public domain - given how stupidly, brokenly long copyright is these days they just hope that by the time they’re in the public domain anybody still cares about them.