The Letters Page: Publisher's Note 10
Paul is back! Back again! Paul is back, Paul is back, Paul is back!
Run Time: 1:18:51
We talk a lot about stabs. We're into stabs here.
- Tuesday, April 6th: Episode #172: Writers’ Room: A Day in the Life — Absolute Zero
- Tuesday, April 13th: Episode #173: Writers’ Room: Disparation — Citizen Storm vs. The Primal Wardens
- Tuesday, April 20th: Editor’s Note #45 (?!?!)
- Tuesday, April 27th: Episode #174: Classic Episode: xxtz’Hulissh
So many questions! And also some game shows! What's not to like?
Join us next time for an exciting Creative Process!
- With Gen Con’s recent announcement about having a limited-attendance in-person convention in September, what would GTG’s plans be? Are you participating at all? Would you have a booth? A demo room? Are details still being worked out? Very much still being worked out as this announcement came out only the day before recording. They’ve been thinking about this already, obviously, and they’d like to have a presence at Gen Con. Moving it back to September so there’s more time for vaccine roll-out helps (and that’s already been going better than Christopher had anticipated). Paul’s answer is “we’ll see” - there are 2 things required for GTG to participate. First, everybody from GTG who’s involved would need to be vaccinated (and ideally Gen Con will require all attendees to be vaccinated). Second, the business case has to be worth it. It costs a certain amount of money to be a part of Gen Con, but that comes back in terms of on-site sales and word of mouth hype/“advertising” from the people who do attend. The problem is that just about everything that Gen Con can do that makes it safer for people to attend also make participation less attractive to Greater Than Games as a business decision perspective. Limiting the number of attendees, making people stay further apart, not allowing demos where lots of people would wind up handling the same game pieces over the course of the convention, etc. all reduce the value of having an on-site presence at the convention. If GTG is at Gen Con this year it will inevitably be at a reduced scale compared to prior years. While nothing is actually decided yet, they can’t really see having Citizens or Sidekicks helping out this year at this point. However, as a happier thought, the way things have been going they imagine that it’s likely that Gen Con 2022 will be pretty much back to normal.
- Christopher mentioned in the Discord that we should bring up his “knuckle tattoo ideas” during recording, so: what are your knuckle tattoo ideas? His “bad idea” was prompted by a discussion about hand-writing something and not leaving enough room - on the first hand you have B A D @ across the fingers of one hand and P L A NNING on the other with the NNING crammed together onto one finger. The “good idea” is to spell out MMMM and HMMM as you can use either independently or either combination.
- Does Gen Con getting pushed back change any of your plans regarding the Definitive Edition Kickstarter? No! Around this time last year they started assuming that “things would get cancelled” due to the pandemic and have been planning for things with that in mind, so the DE Kickstarter and their plans for production/release is all just moving along with the plan for release by when Gen Con would have been.
- Not a question, but a list of potential Animal-verse names: BoomBeaver, Kanga Roofang, Plague Bat (although Rat is already an animal - Christopher seems to recall the Animal-verse version of Plague Rat just turning into some guy), Fly-Scraper, the Aardvark Adept (they feel like “Argent” should still be in there with the second word being the animal reference), Unitbee, La Cormorant (for La Comodora), Lifelion, Indrialist, the Jackalist (of course, the Naturalist is a person who turns into different animals, so the Animal-verse version is an animal who turns into different kinds of people - like a bodybuilder, or a software engineer, etc.), the Kolalar (for the Scholar), Chairman Pike is just easy - just a fish in a business suit, Citizen Fawn, Omnipond for the Omnitron environment, La Capybara (for La Capitan), Benchshark, Skunkman (for Stuntman), the Wrasse (for Wraith), Slugbear (although, once again, “bear” is still in there - just have it be an actual bear), Akbash’Bhuta, Bunker Spaniel, Tachbichon, Dr. Gecko, Ombichon Olmnitron or Omnifalcon, Shih Tzu Long, Blood Clownfish Bathory, Fanatick, Mainstiff (they get it’s a combination Mainstay and Mastiff, but they don’t like it), Grand Warlord Albatross.
- You’ve mentioned that every game of SotM is canonical somewhere in the Multiverse, but with OblivAeon as a Singular Entity in the game I can see that means that any time I lose he succeeds in destroying a timeline, but what about the times I win that don’t conform to the story told regarding his defeat? Is he defeated in multiple timelines? So, yeah, losing fits in fine as him just succeeding in wiping out a whole reality - congratulations on having your failure result in the deaths of untold numbers of people. Winning… there’s enough stuff going on during the OblivAeon fight that who’s to say how things really went down, y’know? There’s many tellings of the OblivAeon story that report on his defeat and they all contain some kernel of truth.
- Regarding RPG play, I’ve been toying around with having the players come up with Twists and whatnot after describing what they’re doing - do you have suggestions for how to encourage players to take heroic action? He likes the idea of a player making suggestions and the GM working with them to refine them so that they are appropriate for the situation and severity of the Twist (some repercussion without being too harsh). He does this all the time.
- Regarding the publication timeline near the end of the Multiverse: you told us in episode 118 that the line-wide relaunch of new titles starts in May 2017, but I’m also looking at the SCRPG Starter Kit issue numbers and the timeline as laid out in the Multiverse Recap in episode 81 - from what I can tell, Freedom Five #801, Justice Comics #740, Prime Wardens vol. 2 #67, and Tome of the Bizarre vol. 4 #86 all would have been published in January 2017 with FF #802 and 803 in February and March respectively (and the latter being noted in episode 109 as being the final issue). My questions are:
- Did all of the titles still ongoing at this time continue as long as Freedom Five did or did some end earlier (for example, did the other comics with issues in the Starter Kit end with those issues)? Not all of the regular ongoing titles continued as long as FF did. As noted and as a recap: the line-wide relaunch happens in May 2017 and that’s the start point for the rest of the RPG materials, but the Starter Kit was in this weird in-between period after the end of OblivAeon, but before this new storytelling era. The OblivAeon limited series, Burying the Blade, The Guise Book, Cosmic Concurrence, and Freedom Five Annual all have their final issues in December 2016. Time & Time Again ends in January 2017. America’s Newest Legacy, Tome of the Bizarre, Disparation, Dark Watch, Void Guard, the various titles associated with the Prime Wardens (including the team book), and RevoCorp Presents all end with their February 2017 issues. Justice Comics and Mystery Comics both go through March like FF, though. [The only ongoing series I’m aware of at this time that wasn’t mentioned was Arcane Tales, but with the death of Ra several months prior, it’s possible that it didn’t even make it to December 2016. However, Christopher alluded to a title that he couldn’t mention, so it seems that we don’t know everything that was ongoing at the time.]
- Are the issue numbers for the non-Freedom Five starter kit issues still correct or would you push them back a month or two to line up better (given that the events of the February issue of FF would take place before the January issues of PW, TotB, and JC)? Yes, the issue numbers are still correct as are the adventures they’ve put out since then.
- Was there an actual hiatus month of April 2017 where there were no comics published or were either the statement that May 2017 was the relaunch or that FF #803 was the last issue incorrect? The former, Sentinel Comics put out no regular monthly issues in April 2017 (although they did put out collections of previous books and previews of upcoming stuff that month).
- Adam: have you been experiencing any tendonitis due to all of the art you’ve been doing lately (for the DE, say)? While he’s not here today, they feel like they can answer this. Historically, this is something that’s happened to him as he’ll cram too much work into too short a period and he winds up injuring himself. However, last fall they put some blocks into place to try to prevent this from happening (which was successful). He definitely wore himself out last fall, but he didn’t injure himself in the process. They’ve blocked out the art schedule going forward to, hopefully, be sustainable for him. They’ve learned from past injuries.
- How long does it take him to knock out a panel of art these days (noting that I’m sure it varies based on the image in question)? It does vary. Some days he can get 2-4 done, others a single one might take him all day. It frequently depends on the number of characters and the complexity of the background. He might occasionally hit 6 as a rare day. He live streams his creation of Writers’ Room covers and they’re typically a few hours long. If you think about it, if he can knock out an art piece in 2 hours, an 8 hour day should get you 4 arts, but you have to consider time between them to kind of reset as well as the creative work that has to happen before he can even start drawing anything. Christopher would kind of expect around 3 pieces if they’re covers and/or full panels, but if he’s just doing isolated arts for the RPG (like a character image without a background) then they go faster.
- Christopher: what stories inspire you the most for your own writing? Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you get through it? Everything does - he loves reading and everything he reads inspires him to tell stories. He’s also “inspired” in a sense when he’s not hearing the stories he wants to hear, so he makes them himself. It’s a tough question to answer. He’s also often inspired by “there’s a deadline coming up soon”, which also plays into his writer’s block. One could almost say that he’s perpetually got it and/or has elevated procrastination to an art form. He’ll put off writing until something needs to get done, but he’s used that time to mull over what it’s going to be such that he’s already worked through a lot of it in his head. Actually getting stuck while writing is helped along by the fact that he’s often got multiple things that need to get done at any given time, so that if he does get stuck on one he can move on to another for a while. When he gets really stuck he’ll often fall back on editing tasks for a bit. Or when writing and something has to get on the page now he’ll accept that he’ll do it badly now (even if it’s just dumb placeholder text - just to get something down for the bit he’s working on) and take another whack at it later in editing. He thinks he’s an ok writer, but a very good editor and that helps his writing as he can often improve what he’s written in the editing phase.
- Christopher and Adam: is there a story you worked on as kids that you still talk about? The only ones they still talk about are the really dumb ones, so none that they’ll talk about on the air or that are actually notable.
- Paul: do you have a particular favorite character from The Silmarillion? Fingolfin. High king of the Noldor. He does some neat stuff, and then has a cool duel where he dies. Paul’s actually memorized about a hundred lines of Tolkien’s poetry about the duel.
- Do you have suggestions for how to approach The Silmarillion as a first-time reader? Yes. With a group of people like a book club. The big challenge of it is that the first third or so of it alternates between stories and telling you a list of names to memorize (plus a chapter where Tolkien basically describes a map in great detail). Working through it as part of a group and with somebody knowledgeable who can help guide the discussion/help you remember things makes things easier. For that matter, just having somebody who can tell you which of the names from the aforementioned lists are actually worth remembering as important to plot stuff later. It’s worth pointing out that The Silmarillion isn’t something that Tolkien actually finished for publication in his lifetime - it’s a lot of stories that he wrote down for himself but never got around to writing it up in a format that would make it easier for not-him to read (with proper character introductions and whatnot). [Or, rather, for the versions of things he actually wrote he wasn’t writing it as a novel, but as a collection of historical accounts for these fictional events he made up, in multiple formats including some narratives, some annals, and stuff like the aforementioned poetry - with infinite time he may have gotten around to writing them as something more like Lord of the Rings, but as it stands they more resemble historical chronicles and/or religious texts.]
- Just how hyped are you guys for Definitive Edition? Thoroughly. And more so as the development process has gone on.
- On the Discord, Christopher had mentioned actual data indicating that Tuesdays were the best day to start a board game Kickstarter campaign; can you explain why that is? Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the days that have the most web traffic during the day (i.e. they’re they days where people are bored at work). The weekends and the days immediately before and after have less web traffic for various reasons (people are not as stuck to their computers on the weekends and people will take a long weekend that eats up a Monday or Friday and/or those two days are when people are getting caught up on stuff that happened over the weekend or when they’re trying to finish stuff up before the weekend). Data from Kickstarter backs this up (in terms of new backer numbers and things like comments or other means of engagement). Video game Kickstarters are somewhat different in that they ramp up over the course of the work week and have higher engagement during the weekend (people aren’t playing games at work, but can still be reading up about them, etc.). The effect is so strong that they’ve actually had to reconsider their practice of ending their Kickstarters on Fridays because the traffic thing drops off so much - the balancing factor there is that a lot of people get paid on Fridays and so, knowing exactly what their financial situation is that day, might be more inclined to jump on board right before it closes. With the advent of services like Backerkit or similar pledge managers that let you offer similar reward levels after the all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign, maybe that’s less important and we can move to maybe having a Thursday date for ending the Kickstarter. Having your campaign start on a Tuesday lets your first three days be “high engagement” days, and by the same token, ending on a Thursday would let you have your last three days be those same “high engagement” ones. It’s tricky as there are always those people who are like “I just got paid today, and would have backed if you’d gone through Friday” if you end on other days, though, and that’s never a good message to get. They keep something like an office pool for how long it takes after something ends before somebody chimes in with a “I just found out about this and would have backed” - frequently it’s only something like an hour. It’s why they, as a company, dislike Kickstarter Exclusives - people shouldn’t be locked out of having a “complete” version of a game in terms of actual gameplay just because they found out about it hours (or years) too late. That’s not their fault. Balancing between “incentivizing people to back” and “not penalizing people who, through no fault of their own, didn’t find out about it in time” is tricky.
- Odd One Out - out of the named options in each set, which does not match the given category? (once again - answer given in italics and correct answers bold).
- Fittingly-named heroes: Ryan Frost as Absolute Zero, Megan Stone as Rockstar, Pete Riske as Setback, Joe King as Guise. Paul knows AZ and is like 90% on Setback. He thinks that Guise’s name is Joe and the fact that it’s a funny joke makes him think that it’s right.
- Bounty Card Depictions: Grand Warlord Voss, Ambuscade, Akash'Bhuta, Plague Rat. He knew that Plague Rat was Chrono-Ranger’s nemesis, but he didn’t know otherwise. He vaguely thought that Voss was on one (which leads him down the wrong path). His second guess was Ambuscade, so he was just way off on this one.
- Baron Blade Inventions: Terralunar Impulsion Beam, Terralunar Translocator, Walking Tank, Sabre Battle Drone. He knows for sure he did the Impulsion Beam. He guesses right because it’s the least-goofy name, entirely missing the tricky nature of the question in that it exists, but was invented by Baron Blade’s father.
- (For both of them) Songs from the 1980 Return of the King Animated Film Soundtrack: “No Man Living” by the Witch-king during the battle of the Pelennor Fields, “Wearer of the Ring” sung by the chorus when Sam takes up the Ring at the border of Mordor, “Towers of the Teeth” sung by the orcs as Aragorn and company march on the Black Gates, and “Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way” sung by the orcs as they march to Gondor. Neither of them have a clue. Christopher’s thinking is that “No Man Living” and “Towers of the Teeth” sound about right, but “Wearer of the Ring” for Sam seems weird (but possible). The Whip one sounds jokey, but given this is an animated ’80s movie soundtrack, maybe that’s right? They both guess the Whip one - Paul thinks that this is a trick question and that this is an option from the animated Hobbit movie by the same company.
- Mage of Magic Place’s Game (as opposed to Odd One Out, this one is a standard “which one is right” format):
- Which hero is not primarily space-based? Parse, K.N.Y.F.E., Sky-Scraper, Captain Cosmic. This one is kind of messed up due to assumptions about how one reads the question. Paul knows that Sky-Scraper is an alien and that Parse got her powers from Cosmic Omnitron (and that Captain Cosmic is obviously space-based). Christopher agrees with Paul’s reasoning and gives him credit for this question. The Mage of Magic Place was talking about where their stories were set and, while Sky-Scraper is an alien and started off in the Colosseum, her stories primarily take place on Earth, while both Parse and K.N.Y.F.E. have significant off-world periods in their stories.
- Which character is repeatedly seduced by Galactra? Infinitor, Borr the Unstable, Captain Cosmic, Tempest? He has no idea who Galactra is and so answers based on what’s funny. Christopher’s attempts to describe her without giving it away were quite funny, though: “White and blue outfit” Ok, so a doctor. “Does space stuff” so a Star Trek doctor. “Seduced one character multiple times.” So, Beverly Crusher, got it.
- Which character belongs to a cult? Empyreon, Nixious the Chosen, Sanction, Kaargra Warfang. Being “the Chosen” just sounds like part of a cult, y’know, chosen by the cult. Correct and even correct for that reason.
- Who did Lifeline rescue from the Bloodsworn Colosseum? Sky-Scraper, Tempest, Fanatic, Mainstay. All he knew was that Sky-Scraper was in the Colosseum at one point.
- [Bonus question - also for the chat] What is the connection between The Block and The Enclave of the Endlings? They were both built by the Varusiods, the race that Jansa vi Dero belongs to. The first to get the full answer typed out in chat was Russ with Quasi Quirky getting the name of the race first.
Meta Meta Questions/Remaining Chat Questions
- Who knows more about magical lore, Soothsayer Carmichael or Zhu Long? Zhu Long by a mile. Soothsayer Carmichael knows a lot, but Zhu Long has lived for so long and basically invented a fair bit on his own. It’s an unfair comparison. Zhu Long knows things that Soothsayer Carmichael doesn’t even know to ask about/research. Zhu Long knows things that he can’t research in that the information doesn’t exist elsewhere to research.
- Will you do a sea shanty on-stream while wearing your pirate coat (which he wore earlier, but which is not particularly good radio)? No.
- How many times did GTG tend to play through a given issue of the RPG during playtesting? A lot of them were more the Critical Hits team, Christopher, and other playtesters more than GTG. They also run them a lot at smaller cons during the testing phase. RPG stuff is tested in a wildly different way than boardgames - Braithwhite and Maggie play through board game stuff all the time internally, but they “contract out” the RPG stuff more.
- Does the Fae realm (featured in last week’s episode) have its own relics? Yes.
- How will you be showing off the Definitive Edition is tomorrow’s livestream [now in the past, but available to watch here]? Tabletop Simulator. They hope to have a physical pre-production version ready to show off during the first week of the Kickstarter, but it’s in the process of being made in China, so getting it done and then getting it from there to St. Louis in the right time frame might be tricky. We’ll see.
- Have there been requests from third parties to make content for SCRPG (I know of at least one creator who’s made a conversion kit for their game to the SCRPG system, but that was before the core book’s release)? There have been some conversations. Third party development of materials is something they’re open to in principle but they need to talk a lot with Critical Hits about it as well (they shouldn’t/wouldn’t do this sort of thing without their involvement). They have a lot of things they want to do first before we start talking about other people doing so. There also needs to be a real business proposal. Like, lots of people came to them about doing a video game version of SotM before Handelabra came along, and even then there was more discussion happening before that actually went forward.
- If NightMist’s mansion is really located out in a swamp and not in Rook City, how did the destruction of the latter affect the former? Did somebody just leave the city-side door open at a bad time? The swamp is adjacent to Rook City and the destruction was wide-spread enough to have encompassed it as well.