The Letters Page: Publisher's Note 9
The FINAL Publishers' Note!
Run Time: 1:29:11
We've got all the greatest Publishers' Note style hits: questions for Paul, getting into the weeds on Star Trek and Tolkien, Sentinel Comics lore, a variety of game shows, and a pile of Meta-Meta questions! What more could you ask for?
Paul and I have had a blast noting publishery for you all. Thanks for sticking with us for this weird schedule. But we'll be back to normalish at the start of the year! For now, look forward to a holiday-themed episode next week, and then a bigger than usual Editor's Note the week after that!
- From past episodes it sounds like the three of you had been friends long before you started GTG; what was your experience starting a company with your friends and how does that friendship affect the direction of the company? There’s an adage to not go into business with family or friends whom you intent to keep, so how did you avoid the pitfalls? When they first started talking about making the company in 2010, Adam and Christopher had been friends for something like 17 years. Christopher and Paul had been friends for around 2 years (they met in June of ’08 and hit it off immediately). At that point Paul and Adam did not know one another and were introduced in the first video call to discuss doing this thing. This worked for them because they were all in it for the right reasons. Paul’s take is that you can go into business with whomever you want, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that in the context of your relationship as “owners of the company” the most important thing for all of you has to be the project/company. You need to compartmentalize your work/life stuff. Christopher and Paul have “famously” had some rather “brutal arguments” where they both had very strong opinions on something. The vast majority of the time they’re in total agreement, so that the small percentage of times that they’re not it can get rather heated - not because they want to prove the other one wrong but just because they believe so strongly that they’re right. The resolution in such cases is almost always somewhere between their positions where neither of them was 100% right. By analogy you can think of two people deciding to have a child - even if they’re not in a relationship or aren’t going to be in a relationship the whole time, as long as within the context of “raising this kid” the most important thing for them is “raising this kid” it can still work out ok (Paul has known people who have adopted a kid while they were getting/shortly after getting divorced and it still worked).
- How does running a company with them affect the direction of your friendship? GTG has strengthened/lengthened Christopher and Adam’s friendship. They’d been in the process of drifting apart, if only due to the fact that Adam was living in California at the time and the “everybody is on the Internet all the time” wasn’t quite as much of a thing in 2010 as it is now. They’d talk once a week or so and might play an online game together occasionally, but SotM/GTG became a project for them to be in close contact again. Even with arguments they had about it, having one fight and three good days a week working on something important is much better for the relationship than a few talks a month about nothing that you’re passionate about even if the latter generates no arguments. It’s been even more interesting for their relationships with Paul. He and Christopher went from being friends, but “zero stakes” friends to pretty “high stakes” friends very quickly as a result. Without the company, they likely wouldn’t be nearly as close anymore due to their divergent life paths - once Paul had kids things probably would have changed a lot due to the major amount of attention that would take if there hadn’t been something else holding them together. Paul can think of other people he met around the same time he met Christopher with whom he’s only friendly acquaintances with anymore. Paul and Adam likely never would have met without the company.
- Is Paul going to be a regular on the Editor’s Note episodes going forward? Are we going to continue to see the game show gimmick in them? Paul’s likely to be an irregular guest on Editor’s Notes. Saying that he’ll be in all of them is just setting them up for failure, but he’ll be around for whichever ones he wants to be in and maybe some special ones will require his presence. He’s found that he enjoys doing them.
- Chat asks: How about other GTG employees? Christopher initially interprets this as being in reference to being friends and notes that Trevor was a “friendly acquaintance” of Paul’s ahead of time (he was one of Paul’s younger brother’s friends in high school).
- Clarification: What about other GTG employees on the podcast? The trick is that this podcast is specific to the Sentinel Comics line - there are a few people in GTG (and out of GTG) that could conceivably be brought in for this (and there will be one in January [presumably related to the RPG release], but most GTG people would be better suited to be on a different podcast than The Letters Page.
Star Trek/Tolkien Questions
- Building off of previous letters, do you have top three favorite Star Trek: Voyager episodes (personal choices: [“Timeless”](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeless_(Star_Trek:Voyager)), [“Pathfinder”](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathfinder(Star_Trek:_Voyager)), and the “Equinox”? “Equinox” is quite good. He also likes “Year of Hell”. “Dark Frontier” that introduces the Borg Queen character from Star Trek: First Contact is also good.
- Which Star Trek character would you most want to play if built in the SCRPG system? Specifying that it’s in the SCRPG system makes it interesting. Probably [Odo](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odo_(Star_Trek)) as the way that the game does shape-changing powers is interesting.
- I can’t believe that I left Star Trek: Insurrection off my list from before! In my defense, I largely just see it as being a 2-part episode of the show. Anyway, in penance I will make myself watch [“Code of Honor”](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Honor_(Star_Trek:The_Next_Generation)) and [“Sub Rosa”](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub_Rosa(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)). Anyway - along the lines of the Sentinel Comics hero-crewed starship, how would you staff a ship using GTG employees?
- Captain: Paul.
- Executive Officer/First Officer: Christopher.
- Chief Engineer: Jodie.
- Chief Science Officer: Chris Burton (this was waffled over for a while but his “games research and testing” roles win out here).
- Chief of Security/Tactical Officer: Matt.
- Communications: Katie.
- Helmsman: Jenn.
- Navigator: Maggie (originally placed in Communications or Science Officer before landing here).
- Chief Medical Officer: Everybody else collectively. Except maybe Adam in particular.
- Who is the most interesting character in Star Trek, and why is it Garak? He’s the most interesting in DS9 and quite possibly all of Star Trek, yeah. He starts out enigmatic and you learn stuff about him as things go along. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding him and what is true or not true. Christopher assumes that this is the Gul Dukat guy mentioned previously, this prompts him to (knowing that he will regret it) ask “Who is Garak?” He’s a Cardassian tailor [which is, quite possibly, the best answer one could give to that question].
- Along the same lines as the “Sentinels Heroes Bridge Crew” discussion, if they got their hands on a holodeck version of Lord of the Rings, who would play the various members of the Fellowship?
- Gandalf: Scholar (mysterious old guy who shows up with a quest and then dies).
- Frodo: Setback (full of heart, trouble along the way, relies on his friends to get him through).
- Gimli: Haka (especially book Gimli - per chat we have have Fanatic as movie Gimli).
- Legolas: Tempest (non-human, distant/aloof, but important in combat/navigation).
- Aragorn: Wraith (dark and mysterious at first).
- Boromir: Legacy (controversial choice, but Paul thinks he has Boromir vibes. He always wants to do the right thing, protect his city/country, and further his father’s legacy. Christopher does have problems seeing him as betraying a promise made, even if only briefly).
- Sam: skipped
- Merry: skipped
- Pippin: skipped
- Christopher, we heard Paul’s selections for who would be on a bridge crew, so who would you choose to be members of a bridge crew? This is a good and a bad question because who you would want to be running across the Shattered Plains might be different from who would make for an interesting/thematic story. In the former case, give him the Prime Wardens with Legacy at the front along with other cool/strong/powerful heroes and go do the thing. For the latter, put in Dark Watch, Unity, Benchmark, and a bunch of side characters. Maybe Sky-Scraper if she has to hide her powers.
Christopher Explains Sentinels Lore to Paul
- Baron Blade doesn’t seem like the type to adhere to closely to safety regulations in the first place, so why would Mad Bomber Blade even bother with the fire diamonds on the vats of chemicals in the first place? The suggestion was that they were former Soviet Union chemicals, but such labeling wasn’t in use until the ’60s by which time we had less access to Soviet materials, so he must have taken them from America - was this stuff that had been taken from the USSR by the US and then decommissioned? If so, why would they still be so legible after being on some caustic chemical vats in some industrial warehouse all this time? If we go along with the sequence of events you describe, Baron Blade cleans them up after he steals them. He’s using these as props in his videos that he sends out to taunt the heroes and terrorize the populace so they need to look menacing. Also, lets say that in the world of Sentinel Comics that these labels are made out of some space-age material that’s resistant to all the bad stuff they might be applied to (one wonders why they don’t make more things out of said material, like space ships).
- None of the 20 comics titles mentioned in the post-OblivAeon relaunch list mentioned Tempest, it seems odd that he’s not mentioned given his popularity so did I miss something? Is he the Maerynian representative for G.L.O.B.A.L. - even if so, due to the nature of that book it seems unlikely that he’d be involved in most stories? What book does he appear in? Some of the most popular characters include Tempest, Haka, NightMist… Anyway, yes, he’s in G.L.O.B.A.L. and he’ll be involved in what’s going on in The Paradigms (although he’s not on that team). There’s not a lot they can say about Tempest at this point due to spoilers.
- In the Pets of the Multiverse episode you established that Corporal the Hamster exists in the main continuity and lives in Freedom Tower, but what happened to him when OblivAeon destroyed the building? His fate has yet to be seen, but he is not dead.
- Paul: Durin’s Bane, wings or no wings? No wings. Balrogs do not have wings. It’s clear from the corpus of Tolkien’s writing that he did not intend them to have wings (it’s more ambiguous if you stick to just LotR, but if you look to the rest of the stories it’s less so). Even within the description in LotR it’s “wings of shadow”. They’re not actually wings in the same way that Gandalf can’t actually fly despite that word being used several times to describe rapid movement in that same scene (such as “Fly, you fools” which wasn’t a command to literally take flight). It’s metaphorical. Peter Jackson also made a major misstep in the depiction of the Balrog, even discounting the wings, in that it was much too large. It’s supposed to be maneuvering through these tunnels and chambers made by and for Dwarves for thousands of years and yet we don’t see evidence of it busting through walls and doorways Kool-aid-man style that’s a mystery until the Fellowship actually encounters it. It’s supposed to be only somewhat larger than a person. Now, they’re scary demon creatures with whips of flame and are generally Bad News, but they’re not enormous. There are various other points where the size of the thing shown in the movie doesn’t really make sense, but it looks good [and I always point out that Peter Jackson was primarily a horror movie director up to this point and loves his monsters].
- Chat comment prompts a note that they really enjoy the Lord of the Rings films. Sure there are some missteps along the way, but overall they’re great. Paul also points to a blog he quite enjoys by an ancient historian called “A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry” and in particular a bit he does where he analyzes the Siege of Gondor in the films and novel.
- Odd One Out [reminder, Bold are correct answers, Italics for the response given]
- Cosmic Contest Semi-finalists [brief explanation given]: Legacy, Baron Blade, Fanatic, NightMist. Legacy got knocked out early because he’s not the type to really let loose on his friends like this, as opposed to Fanatic who is and was the one who beat him.
- Members of Perestroika: Mecha-Stalin, Marxman, General Winter, Iron Curtain. General Winter is the weakest joke (and is based more on WWII or Napoleon than the Cold War). Marxman is the best. All Paul knows about this team is the jokes.
- Scions of OblivAeon: Dark Mind, Blackheart, Voidsoul, Sanction.
- [For Christopher] Dragons of Middle-earth: Ancalagon, Glaurung, Smaug, Gothmog. Christopher noted that Paul flubbed the pronunciation of Ancalagon the first time, which made him wonder if something was going on there, but he’s also pretty sure that Gothmog was a Balrog (plus it was the name of the second-in-command at the battle of the Pelennor Fields after the Witch-king).
- Paul’s follow up: Who killed each of those four characters? Christopher can give a vague description of Bard the Bowman for Smaug, but otherwise he doesn’t know (Eärendil kills Ancalagon, Ecthelion kills Gothmog the Balrog, and Túrin Turambar kills Glaurung).
- [Bonus category for them to ponder] Cool people: Adam, Paul, Christopher, Trevor. They kind of punt on this one. They agree that while there are many positive terms that could be applied to themselves, neither of them are particularly “cool”. Paul notes that of the people listed, Adam is the least likely to actually listen to the podcast and so is the tactically correct choice here. In isolation, they’d each just vote for themselves, but in the end they say Paul as, of the four of them, he’s the most “stereotypically square”. The letter outro points out that this was a trick question and that nobody was the odd one out in this category.
- Mage of Magic-place asking which team (The Freedom Five, Prime Wardens, Dark Watch, The Southwest Sentinels/Void Guard) the following descriptions fit:
- The most diverse in terms of national origin: Prime Wardens “because the rest are America-based”. The description that the Mage gives that the rest are all American is off, though, as Expatriette is definitely not American (possibly not even Canadian depending on her mom’s status and the rules regarding renouncing citizenship, but is from Insula Primalis). Paul brings up that somebody had to have claimed Insula Primalis originally - if it’s in the arctic it was likely claimed by Canada, the US, Russia, or Denmark [I’d also suggest Norway given the example of Svalbard]. It was likely that there was dispute regarding it that was settled when Citizen Dawn claimed it and challenged anybody else to take it from her if they wanted it, at which point they all backed down.
- The most heroes who received their powers through Science!: Freedom Five (definitely Tachyon and Absolute Zero, definitely not Legacy, you can make an argument that Bunker’s are down to science, but Christopher would rule that Wraith’s main “powers” are her training and deduction skills rather than the high-tech gear she has - Paul goes one further and says that her “power” is being rich). Regardless, the answer is The Southwest Sentinels given that all 4 of them got their powers from science (two from Isoflux Alpha, one from scientific experimentation, one from mad-scientific experimentation).
- Has fought the least outside of its own home territory: Initial answer is Southwest Sentinels, but the fact that they go into space for a chunk of time as Void Guard rules them out. Dark Watch is his second guess, which is correct. They barely leave Rook City.
- Bonus: Name the members of Golden Age Freedom Five. He guesses Legacy. Christopher then explains the book and the other members: Wraith, Shrieker, Golden Age AZ, and the eventual addition of Haka.
- Game show for Paul to read for Christopher, Sentinels/Star Trek crossover quiz: Paul prompts with something from Sentinel Comics and Christopher has to choose the closest Star Trek analogue from a list:
- Maria Helena as a female ship captain who’s no stranger to time travel: Captain Archer, Captain Saru, Captain Janeway, Captain Kirk. He knows that Kirk isn’t a woman and that Janeway is, but doesn’t know the other two. He also thinks that Janeway is from Voyager and that that’s the show that is “weird and time travel-y”.
- Sky-Scraper is an alien from a militaristic culture, but through odd circumstances works with humans [Christopher can break in right here to state that this is going to be about Klingons]: Mr. Spok, Worf son of Mogh, Jadzia Dax, Neelix. He knows Worf is Klingon, which matches his initial assumption. People have asked him in the past how he would fight with a bat’leth - his answer is “throw it in the trash and fight bare-handed”.
- Wager Master is a nigh-omnipotent cosmic trickster who likes playing games with mere mortals: The Female Changeling, the Caretaker, an Organian, Q. Christopher wasn’t sure that these were even all canon Star Trek things. He knows who Q is, though.
- F.I.L.T.E.R. is an organization with no oversight that acts with impunity, claim to have the best interests of Earth at heart, but have no ties to any government and have committed some heinous acts for what they see are justifiable ends: Section 31, the Ferengi Commerce Authority, Subsection 5, the Daystrom Institute. He rules out the Ferengi as they’re interested in not-Earth. He doesn’t know who any of the rest of them are and so throws out Section 31 as a Hail-Mary.
Meta Meta Questions
- For an aspiring game designer, what’s your hot-take on whether to use Kickstarter or to just find a publisher? An important thing to consider is whether or not you have an existing audience for whatever reason. If you do, Kickstart it, but make sure that you’ve gotten your ducks in a row regarding logistics and fulfillment. If you don’t, then absolutely get a publisher. Christopher chimes in that even if you have that audience, but you don’t want to have to do that extra work, you can still work with a publisher. You definitely need to look into how much work running a Kickstarter is (basically a full time job) and ask yourself if you want to/are able to do that work on top of everything else. Don’t expect to get a lot else done while you’re running the Kickstarter.
- Christopher, what can you suggest to somebody who wants to work more vests into a casual wardrobe? It depends on what you’re into. Christopher likes a formal waistcoat. He’ll wear one even informally. For example, he’s “dressed down” during this recording since as soon as it’s done he was heading to the warehouse to start working on RPG shipments, but for him “dressed down” still meant a button-up shirt. He doesn’t love a vest over a t-shirt, but he’s seen people pulling off a solid, light-color t-shirt with a dark vest. He’s also seen and can like (not for himself) a more “puffy” vest over a casual button-up. The main questions are “do you like the way this looks on you?” and “are you comfortable?” Another starting point can be “do other people like the way you look?” and in that case look at Fashion generally - what celebrities look like in vests and emulate that. Christopher’s general approach is to start with what “fashion” says and then push back on it a little as that’s the specific thing he enjoys with it - like wear a three-piece suit, but swap out the vest so it doesn’t match or swap in a tie that “clashes” with the suit according to what you might see as a rule somewhere, but still works.
- Paul, have you interacted with any non-canon Tolkien stuff like Shadow of Mordor? No.
- Given that you like DS9 are you also a Babylon 5 fan? He’s seen it and enjoys it, but the scripts are often really rough and is harder to get into due to the dialog.
- Thoughts on Gen Con 2021 based on the recent vaccine news? It will probably be safe to do large gatherings by the time of Gen Con, but it will be so newly safe to do so that it will be weird. A consequence is that Gen Con will probably try to happen, but it will be the first such thing to happen and so attendance will be low and it will be strange and weird. Christopher is hopeful, but figures it will be one of the lowest-attendance ones in a long time. Thinking about it right now, they can see having a minimal GTG presence - like not having everyone there and possibly not having Citizend/Sidekicks (but who knows what will actually happen when we get there - these are extremely hot takes).
- Christopher, what do you think of the Chairman’s suit? If you were a shadowy crimelord, what would you wear? It’s fine. It’s just a regular gray suit. Suit detailing isn’t something that Adam knows much about and so probably just looked at a reference image and drew it. He thinks it looks a bit billowy on him, but if it’s something from the ’80s depiction of the character that could be right. There are two ways he could approach it for himself. One is to slick his hair back and wear a white suit with a white shirt and white tie. Just, “I am a crime lord, look at my all white beacon suit” is something he can pull off. The other is a high-waist jodhpurs, suspenders, no vest/tie, short/open collar, split-back jacket, Oxford shoes, argyle socks very affected look that grabs attention and makes people take stock of him when he walks in.
- Thoughts on the Biden team and how that affects Chinese tariffs that affect board games? They’re going to stick to this very narrow talking point. The segment of imports that include board games never got those increased tariffs in the first place so they didn’t affect GTG. Board games are in the same category as “toys” and nobody wanted toys to get more expensive in this whole thing. They can’t imagine that the Biden team would be instituting more tariffs.
- Are distributor orders picking up? Yes.
- How does Brexit affect the RPG shipment? They’re trying to avoid that mess by shipping that stuff first. If they can get the UK-bound boxes out by the end of the year they don’t have to worry about it.
- Has there been a game from GTG or elsewhere that surprised you in how popular it turned out to be? Yes. Spirit Island - they knew that they liked it, but weren’t sure how much that interest would translate to others.
- How’s the new space? Great. It’s so much better for warehouse operations, sufficient loading docks, a great/reasonable landlord.
- What will we be calling episodes with Paul, Adam, and Christopher (or a hypothetical one with just Paul and Adam)? It’s just an Editor’s Note for the three of them. The Paul/Adam one would be Dad Notes.
- A very early episode mentioned that Christopher was going to Paul’s brother’s wedding and that Paul had told everybody that Christopher was a supervillain and that he was going to wear a monocle and carry a sword cane to pull this off - did you follow through on that? Yes. He wore a white suit, a charcoal shirt, and a blood-red cravat. He did have a monocle and a sword cane. Paul’s brother Matthew had told people about his brother’s friend/business partner who was a supervillain and they didn’t believe him, so Christopher showing up in his “regalia” and peering archly at people got the reaction he’d hoped for.
- Additionally Matthew called him up just before the wedding for fashion help. He’d had his wedding outfit all planned, but once he got it and put it on it just wasn’t working, so Christopher told him to not to worry. Give him some pictures of the groomsmen and brides maid outfits if you can, but he’s on it. He brought 2 suitcases full of suits, vests, ties, etc. for options and got something figured out. It worked great (Matthew is about Christopher’s size already) and if Christopher could dress every groom at weddings he attends that would be great.
- Have you had a chance to play through the Sentinels of Freedom game yet? No, but Christopher knows everything that happens in it already since he wrote it. They both want to play it on the Switch eventually.
- What was AZ thinking about wearing a suit to Luminary’s funeral? He just thought that the situation warranted wearing a suit. That’s the done thing, even if that means putting a normal suit on over his cryo-suit.