The Letters Page: Gen Con Live 2022!
Paul and I did an episode live! Many of you joined us!
Run Time: 1:37:16
Trevor did a great job not just making sure the audio worked for making this episode, but also making everything work live, AND he and his partner Jenny sang all of the musical bits LIVE! It was a delight to see him in his element. Meanwhile, Paul and Christopher goofed around on stage, but we brought a lot of you in on it, so the community aspect of this live episode was through the roof. Thank you for explaining Sentinel Comics to my cohost!
If you're on the Letters Page Patreon, please tune in at 11 AM Central time this Friday for this month's Editor's Note livestream show! We're following up from the Nexus Primalis Creative Process episode and making a playable SCRPG Environment with YOUR help! Join us!
We start off the question section with about a 2 minute (around 3:30 to about 5:30) live song of Trevor and Jenny singing about Christopher and Paul reading letters to you, because Adam wasn’t there this year.
This first section leads off with a fun bit where Christopher reads some short, but very inside baseball questions for Paul to answer with the help of audience members doing their best to help give him the necessary context.
Fun With Paul
Question: In Joe Parsons’ world, do the makers of Toditos have access to potato-corn?
What Paul Understands: From the last name of “Parsons” he assumes it’s related to Legacy somehow. He knows that Toditos was an April Fools joke at some point. From the context of the question he assumes that “Joe Parsons’ world” is an alternate reality. It would be on-brand for there to be a Potato-verse or a Corn-verse. Also from context, Toditos must be something that are not normally made from potato-corn.
Help: Nimbus brings the knowledge about Toditos (blowing Christopher’s mind when it’s pointed out that the original throw-away joke that spawned the rest of the nonsense was in the first podcast episode) and Brian le Wolfhunt gives a primer on Joe Parsons. Potato-corn was just a throw-away joke in that episode about some hybrid crop.
Answer: Presumably yes?
Response: Yeah, why not? The answer to the question is way less interesting than the minutia of the question.
Q: You’ve said that the Oracle of Discord exists in all Realms of Discord; does this mean that the Oracle is a Fixed Point? Does the Oracle know this?
WPU: The Realm of Discord is a realm that is not concordant - it’s an Environment deck where there’s “stuff going on”. He assumes from the question that there are a bunch of them because there are a bunch of universes. He vaguely recalls a discussion from years ago in that Fixed Points are things that are the same in every universe. He can make an informed guess that the Oracle of Discord is an oracle in the Realm of Discord, but that’s not terribly helpful.
H: James (who lurks under various screen names that he declines to share) explains the connection of the Oracle to the Disparation comic line as its framing device.
A: Yes and yes.
R: This is the correct answer, but Christopher would extend it to “Yes, but it doesn’t matter.”
Q: In Editor’s Note 57 you talked about a hypothetical robotic/Omnitron offspring of Legacy and their ability to create future “children” that could receive powers; is there a time-lock of powers coming to fruition in line with the time-scales of human reproduction, or could this robotic line of offspring accelerate the process, thereby increasing the number of powers available at a much faster rate? If so, could they reach a point where there are no more “useful” powers left to acquire? Does Wellspring cut them off at a certain point?
WPU: He knows who Legacy and Omnitron (after walking through it a bit he does know that Omnitron-X is a hero). He’s never heard of “Wellspring” but guesses from the context that it’s the thing ultimately responsible for Legacy’s powers.
H: Christopher has to explain Editor’s Notes (there’s a fun bit where Paul is struggling to guess what the format is and at one point says “it’s where you don’t describe a nonexistent thing” as an extrapolation from prior incorrect guesses). Brett [sorry, guessing on spelling on this one] explains that Wellspring is the Singular Entity of Progress and gave the Legacy line their powers. She then returns to clarify “Singular Entity” which Paul at least got “being that exists once across the Multiverse” and knows that OblivAeon is one (and after prompting correctly states that Wager Master is one of Chaos). Christopher also explains the late, retroactive explanation of the “magic” of the Legacy line’s “genetic” power set only going to the first-born. Paul then makes the analogy that Wellspring is the midi-chlorians of Sentinel Comics - the late explanation for a thing that some fans just hate but remains the canonical explanation nonetheless. Christopher also explains the whole “non-genetic” through-line of hypothetical Legacies.
A: Yes, if that Omnitron entity considers itself to be a parent.
R: I agree - the “adoption” thing unlocks this. If Omnitron is just iterating on itself nothing would happen, but if it considers itself to be a “parent” then things get interesting. What is the meta answer for whether or not this would happen? Whatever the writers felt like doing.
Q: Is the man in the red suit from the Rook City Renegades rule book Soothsayer Carmichael?
WPU: He knows what Rook City and Rook City Renegades are. He knows what rule books are, but he hasn’t seen the rule book for RCR. He has seen red suits and knows what men are. Typically, when he sees a man in a red suit it’s somebody being inducted into the Cardinals’ hall of fame, but assumes that’s not what’s going on here.
H: Christopher gives the context of the immediate questions prompted by the presence of the man in a red suit. ThePayneTrayn explains Soothsayer Carmichael’s status as Argent Adept supporting cast as a scholar of magic who cannot actually do any magic himself, much to his chagrin.
Q: Given that the Lord of the Rings will be back in a big way this year, what happened to the Seven for the Dwarf Lords in their halls of stone?
WPU: Paul understands this one entirely. There were seven rings of power made by the Elf smith Celebrimbor with the instruction of Sauron in his guise as Annatar, Lord of Gifts that wound up being given to seven Dwarf lords. One of these was the ancestor of Thrór, the grandfather of Thorin Oakenshield. At one point Thrór went back into Moria, but before he did he gave his ring to his son Thráin (Thorin’s father). Gandalf eventually found Thráin in the dungeons of the Necromancer in Dol Guldur and from him got the map and key of the Lonely Mountain, Erebor, that were then passed onto Thorin and kicked off the story of The Hobbit. Thráin did not have the key on him at that point, which means that the Necromancer (also later revealed to be Sauron) got that ring back. That was the last of the Seven to be recovered by Sauron - he had two of them already, but the other four had been consumed by dragons over the centuries (given that those dwarves got eaten by said dragons).
Follow-up from Christopher: So does that mean that the rings are destroyed in the process or what?
A: Yes. If you remember from the second chapter of The Lord of the Rings, “Shadow of the Past”, Gandalf tells Frodo that it was said in the past that dragon-fire could destroy the rings of power. It was a known issue of lore. He goes on to mention that the One Ring could almost certainly could not be so destroyed, even by the fires of Ancalagon the Black, the greatest dragon to have ever lived (famously killed by Eärendil during the War of Wrath).
A More Usual Question Section
- There’s a trope called Real Life Writes the Plot - are there times where something occurred or did not occur in real life or the Metaverse that had this effect on the comics (an example: the typhoon delaying a shipment that then got a card in the Time Cataclysm)? In the ‘00s there’s a team-up comic between Legacy and Obama. There’s a Golden Age period where real-life boxers showed up in the comics. The Metaverse is presumed to be incredibly similar to ours. The biggest difference is just that Marvel and DC don’t exist while Sentinel Comics does. The History of Sentinel Comics goes into their contemporaries and competitors. The creation of the Wagner Mars Base in the comics was a response to the Metaverse equivalent Space Race with the Soviet Union. That being said, he would say that the majority of things that happen in comics are at least in some way a reaction to things in the real world. The most recent GTG equivalent here is that the upcoming Horizons of Spirit Island and therefore the spirits that were made for that product would not exist if Target hadn’t approached them about making a more mass-market-friendly product in the Spirit Island line, but it was also impacted by the recent years’ shake-ups in international shipping that required them to make adjustments in materials, printers, etc. to make things work for the volume they’re dealing with.
- What are your favorite logistics/creative aspects of now being part of Flat River Group? For logistics, with all of the printing/shipping weirdness lately, being part of FRG means that they’re much more able to keep things in stock and more frequently put in orders. Like, he’s working on the slate of what they’re going to be printing (and approximations of when and how many copies) and having the logistical assistance and a framework to get all of that done is amazing. They’ve hired a lot more people as well (which helps on both logistics and creative endeavors) and they would not have been able to hire as many people without FRG’s involvement. Like, at least 12 people this year (a lot of that is warehouse staff). Matt Kroll was mostly in the warehouse for a long time, but now he’s in the more creative design team with Christopher, Chris Burton (aka Braithwhite), and Darrell Louder - a big group considering that this “team” was just Christopher for something like the first 6 years of the company. The goal (and they’ve been semi-successful at this) is to let a significantly higher percentage of Christopher’s time be “creative time” rather than any other type of work that the company required of him. For Paul, he has to worry a lot less about accounting and can spend that time working on other things (including working on a creative project for the first time in forever).
- Paul: given that the Patreon contributors get to suggest topics, if we wanted to do one like “Paul helps create a space thing” or similar, would you be willing/able to participate? Paul would do it. The trick is the logistics of taking up 4 hours of Paul’s time on a Friday. It’s more likely that they’d do another Publisher’s Note - doing a Creative Process or Writers’ Room is certainly possible, just a bit more difficult.
- We we know from OblivAeon and Wager Master that if you hit a Singular Entity hard enough you can wind up with shards/goo that could then empower people [pause: Paul knows a bunch of this and can surmise from the question that Wager Master:Goo::OblivAeon:OblivAeon Shards - the missing piece is that said goo was instrumental in creating Guise], what does Wellspring produce if you hit him hard enough? A fine mist.
- That prompts: Isoflux Alpha? No, that’s just the Nolan Generator. That’s fun. though! Paul, do you understand “isoflux alpha” or “Nolan generator?” no.
- Faultless was once a Singular Entity but is no longer one - are there still equivalents to shards/goo from when he was still Singular out there in the Multiverse? If so, have we seen them? Yes, there would presumably be remnants of that Singular Entity out there somewhere, but no we haven’t seen them. [The process of explaining that Faultless used to be a Singular Entity whose old name has been lost results in a fun “Who’s on First?” bit.]
- Which heroes/villains would have the most fun at Gen Con (or a similar convention)? Guise. Unity. Somebody in the crowd suggests Baron Blade which confuses Christopher until they clarify that he would dominate in some miniatures war game. Christopher runs with this: that would be his plan. He’d have an immaculate army and some grand plan for how things would go, but then it’d all go wrong and he’d lose. The trick is that the person that beats him would be somebody who’s never played before and just signed up in the tournament because somebody mentioned that they need one more person to fill out the tournament bracket - Pete Riske. Parse. Rockstar would enjoy the cosplay. Haka would have a great time. Idealist. Ray Manta would hate being around all these sheeple with their smartphones. Ambuscade/Stuntman would not be getting enough attention - Ambuscade wouldn’t like that people care more about the recognizable cosplay than they do about his cool villain outfit. Proletariat could avoid FOMO due to conflicting event times. Antimox would see all the people in cosplay and think it was great - he can work with that.
- Where do otters keep their money? In a river bank (Christopher thought through it live rather than just knowing the answer to the riddle). Christopher then retorts with: where does a general keep his armies? In his sleevies. (The original questioner didn’t get it, but recalled that she’d heard a slightly different version of that in the past.)
- There’s a clear distinction between the Multiverse era and the RPG era - you’ve published RPG adventures in the latter (which one would expect), but do you see yourselves publishing adventures that were set in the former? At some point they’d like to do flashback or Disparation-type adventures. Nothing is on the upcoming docket along those lines, though. They just have so much actual RPG content to get to first.
- Wager Master did the Guise thing, Wellspring did the Legacy thing - did Wager Master ever get jealous of the whole Legacy thing and find a universe to go do that before Wellspring could? Are there any universes out there with a Wellspring version of Guise? Certainly possible in some reality (and probably lots of times over the course of the Multiverse). Not sure if an issue of Disparation would have covered such a case, though. It could be fun to do a “let’s take all of these characters with these huge cosmic origin things and swap them around”. It’s not necessarily a Fixed Point that “Wellspring creates the Legacy line”, but it is the case that Disparation stories are starting from a recognizable world but for this specific change - that kind of presumes that, say, Legacy is Legacy. Unless the point of the issue is the change to Wager Master that’s not a detail that’s likely to be thrown in.
- Interesting tidbit in the course of this one: the questioner let slip a gendering of Wellspring as feminine where Christopher always got more of a masculine vibe. However, he notes that that’s just his own biases talking and that neither of their interpretations is necessarily correct or incorrect, it’s just interesting that they had differing reads on the character.
This section starts at an hour and 9 minutes into the podcast (complete with music). We start with…
Paul will be given a series of events from the history of Sentinel Comics. The goal is to guess which one happened first within the publication timeline. [As is my usual formatting: bold is used to mark the correct answer and italics for the answer Paul gives.] Paul gets one chance to Ask the Audience for help.
- Which of these Prime Wardens members was the first to appear in the pages of Sentinel Comics: Anthony Drake/The Argent Adept, Helena/Fanatic, Hugh Lowsley/Captain Cosmic, M’kk Dall’ton/Tempest? Tempest first appeared in 1965, the other three all first appeared in the ’70s.
- Who was the first of these Golden Age characters to appear: John Rhodes/The Scholar, Paul Parsons VIII/America’s Finest Legacy, Maia Montgomery/The Wraith, Aata Wakawarewa/Haka? Scholar first appeared in August 1946, one month before Paul Parsons VIII and two years before the others.
- Who was the first of these heroes to “cross the Multiverse”: Maria Helena De Falcon/La Capitan/La Comodora, Vanessa Long/The Visionary, Paige Huntly/K.N.Y.F.E., Omnitron-X/Omnitron-X? Paul used his Ask the Audience and the answer was a few people thought La Capitan, a medium amount Visionary, none for K.N.Y.F.E., and a few for Omnitron-X. Paul’s initial thought had been Visionary, but the number that went with Omnitron gave him pause. Omnitron-X first appears during the Singularity story in 1976. Visionary didn’t show up until the mid-’80s and the others are even later.
- Which of these tech-based heroes appeared first: Devra Caspit/Unity, Ansel G. Moreau/Stuntman, Randal Butler/Benchmark, Eugene Wilkenson/Writhe? Ansel G. Moreau debuted as Ambuscade in 1988 - an argument could be made for Unity given that while she first appeared in the comics in 1990, she first appeared in an animated TV show a few years prior. Paul’s thought process here was that Writhe feels like a character that could have been created back in the ’70s or something and then reused later.
- Which of these characters with an association with Rook City appeared first: Amanda Cohen/Expatriette, Pete Riske/Setback, Harry “Slim” Walker/Black Fist/Mr. Fixer, Lillian Corvus/The Matriarch/The Harpy? Even with polling the audience, they were also about split on his own thought processes. While his iconic “Blaxploitation/kung fu” styling as Black Fist didn’t come about until 1972 (several years after the Matriarch’s first appearance), the original incarnation of Black Fist was as a boxer in 1951.
Live Game Show Question!
This is along the lines of the first section of the episode where we see how much Paul knows about Sentinels stuff - the trick is that this question is asked by Cody, aka Aarnandoff, aka one of the developers for the (sadly, cancelled) Prime War game and therefore tied for about third in terms of “who knows stuff that qualifies as spoilers” in terms of Sentinel Comics (behind Adam and Christopher, about equal with what Chris Burton knows):
Question: Is Paige Huntly, the hero known as K.N.Y.F.E., in the Mist Storm Universe a member of the pro-hero organization G.L.A.S.S. on their team called P.R.I.S.M.?
What Paul Understands: he knows who K.N.Y.F.E. is and that the Mist Storm is a thing somehow connected to NightMist, but not the details on that.
Help: Decent explanation of the in-universe split point between Vertex and RPG universes and the Metaverse Vertex line generally (with the great descriptor of “it’s like a pizza cutter - all edge, no point”). Christopher steps in with the “remnants of NightMist’s” power bit and how it’s destroying things. G.L.A.S.S. and P.R.I.S.M. are tricky - people knew that they were acronyms and that G.L.A.S.S. in particular had 2 meanings, the public face that was generally pro-super hero advocacy and the hidden one that was about breaking them out of prison or whatnot. P.R.I.S.M. is the actual team that goes about these things and was just the members’ names.
Answer: Yes, K.N.Y.F.E. is on the team.
Response: No, but now answer again, but say her other name. “Paige Huntly” is on the team, just not the same Paige that was the hero known as K.N.Y.F.E.