The Letters Page: Editor's Note 69
We're here to have a nice time!
Run Time: 1:26:24
Christopher's been traveling! He did some livestreams with the Penny Arcade crew last week, and here's the one of them he promised to put in the show notes!
Adam and Christopher are getting ready to travel to Gen Con! It's gonna be a good time! We hope as many of you as possible can attend the Gen Con Live recording of The Letters Page! There will be at least one special musical guest!
Speaking of Gen Con, it messed up our regular schedule notably. Check it out!
Upcoming schedule: Tuesday, August 1st: Episode #257 - Writers’ Room: Parse in space Tuesday, August 8th: NO EPISODE BECAUSE GEN CON Tuesday, August 15th: Gen Con Live 2023! Tuesday, August 22nd: Editor’s Note #70 Tuesday, August 29th: Episode #258 - Writers’ Room: Tabitha Taft defeats an Alpha foe
Finally, we get into questions and answers, and provide plenty of both!
Join us next week for Episode #256 in which The Scholar interacts with Darkstrife & Painstake! Darkstrife AND Painstake?! In this economy?! You better believe it.
- For the following pairs of names, would both of them consider themselves to be the same entity?
- Ra and Dr. Blake Washington, Jr.? Separate. That ones a clear “two distinct entities sharing one body” situation.
- Muerto and Thiago Diaz? Same. Different stage of “life” - Muerto used to be Thiago Diaz so there’s a bit of a difference there, but it’s the same consciousness.
- Tony Taurus and Heartbreaker? Same.
- Diamond Diva and Diva? Same.
- Miss Information and Aminia Twain? We consider them different, but she considers them the same. Well, unless you mean the Aminia Twain who was native to this reality and whose mind got swapped with the one who became Miss Information and is now dead. That’s a different Aminia Twain.
- Zhu Long and the True Form? Same.
- Omnitron and Omnitron-X? Christopher thinks Omnitron I and Omnitron-X are different iterations of the same “Omnitron” thing. Of course, there’s also alternate universe things to consider, but Omnitron I and Omnitron-X are both Omnitron from their respective realities. That being said, Omnitron-X probably feels like he’s his own thing - Omnitron-IX built him rather than becoming him, even though there’s continuity of memories between iterations. Every version prior to X can be lumped in as “Omnitron” but he thinks that what makes him him is new and different. Adam comes around to that way of looking at it since if he has a video game that’s in early access and then the 1.0 release comes out, he thinks of that as a different game. Christopher still thinks that while the different version numbers are different from each other, they all still count as the same Omnitron conceptual being.
- Scholar and Charles Clark? Same.
- Apex and Gary or whatever his puny human name was? This is a joke from his bio where they talk about him having some puny human name like Gary - they weren’t saying that Gary was his canonical name, just using it as an example of a funny juxtaposition between his identity as Apex and his old life. Apex does not consider himself to be the same person, but they do. His opinion on the matter is driven by his anti-human/pro-werewolf racism.
- The Phoenix and whatever human life it most recently lived? Different. When the Phoenix lives a human life it’s a new consciousness. It’s not super clean cut here, though.
- Visionary and Dark Visionary? Different.
- La Capitan and La Comodora? Which ones? The one that becomes La Comodora is the same (this is the La Capitan we see most often). The others, even ones that spin off from that one, are all different people. La Comodora probably has a cleaner sense of what is and isn’t her than even Christopher and Adam have.
- OblivAeon and Oblivion? Different.
- Nina Arbor and Professor Pollution? Same.
- [The next letter has a bunch of Zalgo text in it, which Christopher sent to Trevor to do his magic. This bit starts at roughly 17:50 minutes into the episode. I am going to forego doing likewise here.] Have there ever been events as damaging to a Singular Entity (or multiple Singular Entities) as the battle between Oblivion and Archaeon? Some must have died before since we’re told that there is a process for a replacement coming into existence, right? No. As cool as the letter was, that was the big one. Singular Entities spring into existence sometimes and sometimes they fade away. They can “die” if the concept they’re tied to “dies”. It’s all very complicated. There exists a vacuum and something could arise that would fill that vacuum, but it’s a natural thing rather than anything that anybody/thing does.
- In a prior episode you listed characters that could be described as “hero turned villain”, why didn’t Luminary make the list? Because Luminary was never a hero. He did heroic things during the fight against OblivAeon, but that’s not enough to make him “a hero” for the purposes of turning one way or another. He’s a hero to the people of Mordengrad and after OblivAeon he
diesgoes right back to what he was doing.
- With some shady characters like Rambler being introduced, can you tell us what constitutes a Hero in Sentinel Comics? Heroes are self-defining to a degree. That still leaves Rambler out. What constitutes “heroism” in real life? There are certain characters who are obviously designed to fit into that paradigm. Beyond that, it’s largely editorial. Which ones get the “hero” action figures and which ones get the “villain” action figures. It’s arbitrary. In the comics pages that line can be a lot more blurred and you get things like anti-heroes and anti-villains, but they’re not going to be marketed as such. Stuntman is (at least initially) an anti-villain. He’s not really a hero until the events of OblivAeon. It comes down to “are they acting like a hero?” and “what does Editorial say?”
- Do the writers for Fashion ever incorporate puns into the names of her tools (say, a bracelet that is a nonlethal crowd-control device that’s calls a flashbangle)? Sometimes. Some writers definitely do cutesy things like that.
- In episode 247 you mentioned some of her foes over time, but does she have any friends who know that Stylin’ Shirley is Fashion? She has a solo book, but are there any heroes she works with on a regular basis (interestingly, a synonym of “paradigm” is “model”)? She is not part of the Paradigms. She certainly has other people in her life, some of whom are heroes and some are civilians. This kind of sounds like “Fashion Supporting Cast” material, though. They don’t have answers beyond “yes” at this time.
- Is Fashion able to sell her work or otherwise protect her intellectual property (separate from her work as fashion designer Shirley Shane)? How does that work from a legal standpoint? Fashion does not market her technology. Fashion is not a fashion designer. They could see somebody confronting Shirley with the accusation that they’ve figured out her secret: “You’re working for Fashion!”
- How did Ambuscade know that the Prime Wardens would end up in San Alonso? That’s a fair question considering that Ambuscade would have no connection to or influence on the magical spikes. Adam has two answers. The first is “the comic doesn’t answer this either and just handwaves it.” The other is “Ambuscade is a good enough hunter to be able to understand their patterns and can predict where they’ll go next.” He figures out the spike pattern before they do. Christopher provides a third answer (which is what he imagines is what the fandom settles on) - in the resolution of the spikes story we learn there’s some “cahoots” going on. Not that Ambuscade is working with the “force” behind the magical spikes, but Ambuscade is perfectly willing to buy powers; why not buy information too? Beyond that they’re kicking the can down the road since they don’t want to get into a whole magical spikes story right now.
- Rambler’s music isn’t magical, instead, he is just that good. You have also made similar statements about Mr. Fixer, namely that his pure skill in martial arts appears to be more than just skill. Are these 2 characters similar in that they achieved such mastery of their respective crafts that it borders on inhuman? Adam doesn’t think so. Mr. Fixer is so good at his craft that is is beyond human. Rambler is not so good at music that it’s beyond human. He’s a genius/master/etc. and nobody else plays like him, but you hear it and it’s still “something a human is playing”. It’s not magical in nature and doesn’t confer on him any magical abilities. It is not his power.
- Was it an in-universe reveal that Parse was the one who killed Spite, instead of it being Wraith? As in, when that happened, was it deliberately intended that Wraith did it and then it was retconned in that Parse did it? No, it was clearly Parse who did it in the comic and Wraith was upset about her regarding it.
- You have spoken about other properties crossing over into the Sentinel Comics universe (most notably Sheer Force), but has it happened the other way around - have Sentinel Comics Characters appeared in other media in the Metaverse? Absolutely. All the time. There are Tooweaks skins for the characters (and you can have them dance - it seems kind of disrespectful to have Fanatic flossing, but whatever). These characters are some of the most popular comic book characters in the world of the Metaverse. They’re on all sorts of things.
- I know it’s been a while for you, but I host recently listened to the Harpy Foes episode (#224). In it you mentioned that Harpy has problems with many courts and continued to create court related foes for her - how could you not even mention Judge Mental? I seriously hope that no court would accept him as a judge, but he would consider himself as representing at least one court, right? He makes his own court. They don’t know that Harpy has ever shown up in a Judge Mental story. They don’t have one in mind, but they’re not going to put a hard “no” on it. They’ve got plenty of unaccounted for Dark Watch issues where it could have happened.
- Last week we learned about the Citizens’ War, but that raises the question: is there a Citizen War? Maybe partnered with a Citizen Peace or Citizen Love? Maybe! Not featured prominently in a Citizens story, but they could be there.
- I am back again to ask when did Sentinel Comics drop the Comics Code seal on books entirely? Sorry, they didn’t get around to looking it up so they’re going to have to kick this down the road again.
- I’m starting up my in-person SCRPG group soon, and we’ve finished up character creation and are just in that awkward period between that and actually starting. One of my players has gone all in on the Metaverse and was wondering what some of the current writers are in the current day. Would you be willing to share some of those? Or will all be revealed in the upcoming History of Sentinel Comics book? If by “current day” you mean now in 2023 they don’t know. The History of Sentinel Comics goes right up through the end of the Multiverse era, but not beyond. The timeline of SCRPG doesn’t even get to 2023 yet (that is, sure, the Metaverse has comics continue to this day, but they haven’t written up any material that far out from OblivAeon yet). Funnily enough, when they had OblivAeon happen in 2016 they originally thought that RPG material would quickly outpace reality, but that didn’t happen.
- If a magical spikes episode was requested, would the whole story be covered or just a portion (as the implication seemed to be that it spanned over a year and multiple comics)? They could see doing a magical spikes Creative Process, but they also think that a Writers’ Room would probably cover the end of the arc, but there’d be sufficient explanatory place-setting in the beginning to give you an idea of how it all worked out. Adam would kind of prefer doing a Creative Process for it, though.
- Editor’s Note 67 included a bit about comic book powers that were un/under-represented in the Multiverse era, which prompted me to look up a list of superpowers; am I forgetting somebody with the following powers and/or was there a reason you didn’t use them?
- Invisibility (I guess Equity kind of counts): NightMist in that she turns to mist which in a lot of contexts makes her hard to see. Equity is probably the closest to somebody for whom invisibility is a primary power. [I’d also argue for classic-Ambuscade’s cloaking device being an important gimmick for him, but that’s technology rather than a power.]
- Stretching: Guise definitely does it. So does Martyr (the Darkstrife and Painstake villain) - being creepily stretchy is kind of his deal.
- Phasing/intangibility: NightMist again for the latter part, but she doesn’t pass through solid walls.
- Power copy/theft: Progeny does copy things somewhat.
- Photographic reflexes: They don’t have somebody for this because it’s such a specific thing to Taskmaster.
- At the end of this segment Adam remembers Muerto has both Invisibility and Phasing.
- How the heck does Ra get anywhere (he doesn’t fly or have a magic barge or a teammate to teleport him wherever)? How was he (and not Dr. Blake Washington, Jr.) who discovered Insula Primalis? How did he get there? If he’s the one dealing with Egyptian threats whenever they crop up, does he just have to book a flight to Cairo every time the Ennead get up to stuff or do thing just so happen to occur within 10 miles of his current dig site/museum exhibit? The last bit is the most frequent - thing just happen to crop up where he is already. That being said, some writers likely make him “fly” by using fire powers for propulsion. It’s not accepted canon that Ra can fly, but you get the occasional thing where he’s basically just jumping, but with an explosion helping to give him more distance. Sometimes you probably also get people giving him “slow teleportation” where he creates a flame and steps into it and emerges from another flame near where he’s trying to get (“travel through the Duat” or something like that as an explanation). That’s another “he can’t really do that” thing.
- Is there an arc where he does have a boat like his mythical counterpart? Probably. They draw on elements from the mythology basically wherever they can. How much of it winds up being a permanent feature of the character is very low, but it at least gets used somewhere. He probably has a boat as often as he jump-flies or teleports. Or the boat serves a specific purpose for the story in question.
- In thinking about the logistics of Paul Parsons helping his daughter move to college it occurred to me: Paul grew up in Chicago (a city with excellent public transit), then he started flying and moved to Megalopolis (another city with robust public transport, but the flying option is still there) - can Paul even know how to drive? If he does, is he any good at it? He absolutely knows how to drive. He’s probably driven a bunch of tractors at various points. Also, while his family moved “to Megalopolis”, they actually live in a suburb where driving is more necessary. However, if the family is driving somewhere together it’s probably Emily behind the wheel in the vast majority of cases as she has more need to learn and be good at it. Adam has a fun mental image of Paul behind the wheel but is actually just flying, carrying the car along with him by holding onto the steering column.
- By the end of Definitive Edition, will all heroes have the same number of Variants? Time will tell on that. They have various plans, but they’ve also already deviated from those plans. They have plans to get back into those original plans, but it’s a complicated situation. The original idea was for them to all have the same number, but that broke down almost immediately and it’s not where they are now, but we’ll see if they can figure out enough to get back to that.
- Will we ever get to some of the EE variants like the WWII Legacy and or Henry Goldman Absolute Zero? Perhaps.
- Are there any Variants we have seen/will see for DE that you wanted to include in EE but couldn’t for whatever reason? No. Some of what we’ve seen didn’t exist in the narrative until the podcast (like Haunted Fanatic).
- When designing a Variant, which comes first the mechanics or the narrative? Any Variants you’re particularly proud of in terms of art/mechanics/both? They’re proud of a lot of them. Character/story almost always comes first. The exceptions are the First Appearance ones since they are a known slot to fill already.
- It is my birthday in about 6 days, and my plan for my birthday is a day of Sentinels gaming - how would you recommend getting new players into the Definitive Edition card game and Sentinels RPG? For SotM: “Hey, would you like to play a cooperative comic book card game?” and if yes you play as Legacy against Baron Blade in an Environment of your choice (Christopher likes Megalopolis or Insula Primalis, but this is less important here). Use the pre-supplied deck order for Blade as it’s tuned for a first game experience (if you’re just cracking open your copy for the first time don’t shuffle it - it’s already in the suggested order; if you have shuffled, the order is also printed in the Lore book on page 10). For the RPG, the Starter Kit is a good one. For brand-new players give them the pre-generated characters and do issue 1 (Freedom Five #801 - “Itsy Bitsy Spider-bots”). Especially if they’ve played SotM at this point, the characters would be familiar.
- The mythological Ra encounters a lot of things when taking the sun through the underworld every night, but mostly snakes. Some helpful, many not. How many snakes does Sentinel Comics Ra encounter during a normal night? Does he ever fight, say, Night Snake? Ghost Viper? Ophidia? Probably not Night Snake. Probably yes to Ophidia. Ghost Viper is a maybe. There are other snake-type baddies. Plus, just regular snakes that try to get him every night.
- What would happen if someone who was otherwise a prefect fit for the Citizens of the Sun, but was stronger than Citizen Dawn tried to join? Man, what do you mean by “stronger”? Let’s say somebody who’s powers could just overwhelm her. They don’t think that the Citizens only listen to her due to the possibility that she’ll blast them if they don’t (and she does blast people occasionally). Most Citizens are true-believers and members of her cult of personality. A more interesting possibility is somebody whose a more charismatic leader than Dawn and promises to not blast anybody. This is actually kind of what the Citizens’ War story was, now that they think about it. Highbrow isn’t a stronger personality, but her great intellect let her put things together in a convincing manner.
- Assuming its not spoiler territory, where is Apostate in the RPG era? I vaguely remember him getting sealed/destroyed by Harpy in the Realm of Discord, when he was throwing his sword around. But I could be misremembering, and/or not aware of changes to him later on. Actually, there’s a number of villains where I’m not aware of where they are at, so feel free to answer any of the other ones…when you release them in the new Sentinels RPG books. That’s exactly right - when those books come out. Apostate is sealed away by Harpy at the end of the Multiverse era. He is not in the same situation as in Vertex where he was basically possessing a giant OblivAeon shard that he used as a sword.
- I’m not gonna be able to go to Gen Con this year, will Terror Forms be available for purchase afterwords? Yes, that is the intention. [In the interim, RPG Kickstarter backers got the PDF automatically and the plans are for it to go on sale in a few weeks.]
- Has there ever been a Disparation story set in a world that is a kind of “potential future” of the main timeline, with the known characters all being older and new heroes taking up their mantles? Possibly. They’ve talked about it at least.
- Is Dawn the strongest non-OblivAeon powered metahuman on earth? Man, what do you mean by “strongest”? There’s an argument that Absolute Zero is. Or Legacy, Fanatic, or Haka. She is not definitively the strongest, but she is very strong. I mean, just take a look at Cosmic Contest which is obviously the best way to gauge “the strongest” and wasn’t at all dependent on the order of match-ups.
- If the following heroes/villains challenged each other to a game of Parlor Quoits, who would win?
- Legacy/Baron Blade? That’s tough - Legacy’s probably played more but Blade is probably better at ranged things. Christopher also thinks that Blade would cheat by using a device of some kind. As a result, he’d probably win.
- Tachyon/Glamour? Glamour could win this one. Tachyon it going to be better at the game itself, but Glamour can do illusions to make Tachyon aim for the wrong spot.
- Parse/Kismet? Parse at a walk. Parse wins parlor quoits 100% of the time against anybody. Kismet curses Parse to be unlucky? Parse takes that into consideration while calculating.
- Fashion/Greazer? Interesting. Neither of their “powers” actually directly comes into play here. It’s a pretty even match. Greazer is a fine shot, but he’s not a marksman.
- Proletariat WWII/Proletariat Post-Vengeance? WWII because he isn’t quite as hot-headed and doesn’t have as many traumas cluttering his mind, preventing him from being able to focus on the simple game. That’s the best they can come up with as they’re the same person. There’s not really that much difference here and while post-Vengeance Proletariat has more emotional issues in a lot of ways, there’s no real need for that to come into play during a game of parlor quoits.
- I’m in trouble: I’ve gotten into a wager with Wager Master - I have to pick 8 villains for a game of parlor quoits. Wager Master will then divide them into 2 teams and choose the team that he thinks will win the game. The players do not get to know whose team they’re playing for. Who are the 4 villains who seem like they’d be amazing at parlor quoits, but would actually be terrible and vice versa? There are two independent variables here and so there are 4 categories.
- Seems good, are good: Baron Blade, Chairman, Glamour, Heartbreaker, the Hippo (he played baseball), Iron Legacy, La Capitan, Omnitron, Operative.
- Seems bad, are bad: Akash’Bhuta, Biomancer, Chokepoint (she’s actually tough to read and might be bad/good), Deadline, Empyreon, Friction, Infinitor, Matriarch, Miss Information, Plague Rat.
- Seem good, are bad (the ones you pick so that they wind up on Wager Master’s team): Blood Countess Bathory (probably - she’s too cocky about her ability), Ermine, Kaargra Warfang, Sergent Steel.
- Seem bad, are good (the ones you pick so that they wind up on your team): Apostate, Citizen Dawn (she does ranged things - she might not be great at it, but “good enough”), Fright Train, Spite.
- Unspecified/irrelevant (they either don’t say which of the good/good or bad/bad categories they go in, just that they’re not good for the wager in question): Ambuscade, Bugbear, Ennead, Dreamer, GloomWeaver (irrelevant/irrelevant), Grand Warlord Voss (mediocre/mediocre), Greazer (fine/fine), Kismet, Man-Grove (what?/what?), Progeny, Proletariat.
- I’m going to suggest yet another best/worst place to jump into the podcast: The Progeny Episode! It’s got a lot of characters and is story-heavy involving an important event near the end of the Multiverse/card game timeline. You may be bombarded with characters, but you get a good sense for what they each can do. We get some time with all three of the major hero teams, Chrono-Ranger, Dark Visionary, Parse, K.N.Y.F.E., Scholar, and the Sentinels. We see action in both Rook City and Megalopolis. In short, we get a good story while also giving the listener a bunch of directions to then branch out to with other episodes.
- They can’t think of a reason that wouldn’t work. They’ve got this whole knot of lore now that they think that the best way to get into the podcast would be to play some Definitive Edition games and then just explore episodes based on what interests you about what you see in the game.
- I’m thinking about running a game of SCRPG at a local TTRPG club. It’s definitely going to be a one-shot, probably between 4 and 5 hours. I’m pretty sure that the players won’t be familiar with SCRPG (but probably with other TTRPGs). For this, would you recommend running part one of the starter set (which won’t be a complete story) or maybe the Battle of the Bands adventure from the core rule book? If you’ve got 4-5 hours, Battle of the Bands is a great choice for a one-shot. The starter kit issue 1 is good for a shorter session (2-3 hours). If you’ve got like 6 hours you can do Stolen Legacy. If it’s definitely not going to be a one-shot session, the Starter Kit is also probably better since there’s more to it overall. Different adventures for different purposes!