Here’s a recap of a session of my Sentinels RPG campaign “The Alternates”! As per usual, there’s a narrative recap (written as if it was in-metaverse) and then I go over the actual running of the game, and any lessons I learned as the GM.
If you’re lost, you can catch up with the previous Game Recaps! There’s a lot of them, but they’re all in this forum!
The Premise of Our Game: In the meta-verse (where Sentinel comics is a published comic book multimedia empire), there is a premium cable animated television series (in a style similar to “Into the Spider-Verse”), which itself is based on a comic series called “The Alternates.” This RPG campaign represents that show, with each game session (ideally) representing one hour-long Episode of the show. The recap below is written in-metaverse as if it was an article on a popular website that posts recaps of episodes.
- Cytoblast: Dr. Douglas Hemlocke can control plants, including transforming himself into a plant form, all thanks to his mystical knowledge and his ancient magical staff.
- Dr. Comet: Possessed by a demon that travelled to earth inside a comet, Dr. Diana Aster can magically control fire and ice, though her powers often go often out of control when her emotions flare up.
- Jersey Devil: A barely human cryptid of mysterious origins, “Mr. Leeds” is both man and monster, able to teleport by way of a parallel dimension.
- Kid Radical: A highly skilled autodidact with a strict code of behavior, Kid Radical has a superhuman ability for following trends and learning new skills, although it often seems like he can’t quite connect with modern society.
- Quasar Kid: A superhero teen from the far future, Quasar Kid has a cosmic metabolism, super strength, and the power of flight, but he hasn’t yet adjusted to being in “the past.”
Recurring allied NPCs/Supporting characters:
- Starshadow: A retired intergalactic adventurer, Starshadow possesses mighty cosmic powers that he is reluctant to wield.
- Bouncer: An invulnerable action movie star, Bouncer is also super-strong and capable of mighty leaps (hence the name “Bouncer”). Affected by traumatic stress during the Oblivaeon Crisis, Bouncer spends less time “in the field” but remains an auxilliary member of the team.
A Very Quick Story Synopsis: In an alternate timeline where Baron Blade was killed decades earlier (causing countless changes to the world of Sentinel Comics), the heroes of the Multiverse are almost all killed in the “Oblivaeon Crisis.” The few remaining heroes, especially the Alternates, are left to deal with the villains and interstellar threats that still endanger the Earth!
I’ve also done some very amateur sketches for the game! You can see them in this Google Photos album .
And now, an imaginary recap of an imaginary episode of an imaginary television show about an imaginary superhero team!
The Alternates Episode #43 Recap - “Timequake!”
Welcome to another Recap of The Alternates, this time for Episode #43, “Timequake!” In this episode, we finally get to the bottom of all the time shenanigans with Chronoclash, “Old Man” Starshadow, and Quasar Kid! Strap in - it’s a bumpy ride!
In the cold open, we see the Cult of Gloom gathered in some darkened dungeon. A cult leader walks into the gathering, and the cloaked figures part to create a path. He reaches the center of the room, where he confronts another leader.
“You wasted our time and resources!” the newly-arrived leader accuses. “Your capture of Bouncer was worthless to our ritual, and then you let him escape!”
The other cult leader holds his hand up to calm the angry man. “No need to be cross, my lord,” she tells him. “We have acquired the necessary components to proceed.” She makes a sweeping gesture to the far side of the room.
There, we see that the Cult of Gloom has captured and tied up Mr. Quockerwodger and Ms. Collywobbles.
The Alternates fall out of a time vortex and land on the streets of Megalopolis, directly in front of the Alternates’ HQ building. They rush inside, barely giving each other a look. When they arrive inside their offices, they find Starshadow working on some of Chronoclash’s technology.
“Hey Alternates,” Starshadow says casually. “Ironically,you’re here just in time.”
Starshadow explains that Quasar Kid’s presence in their timeline caused a disruption in the spacetime continuum, and that Chronoclash is some sort of cross-dimensional fixer who has come to this timeline to repair the disruption.
“Chronoclash is here because he detected an anomaly that could unravel our timeline,” Starshadow tells them.
“Chronoclash is here because he’s a dick,” replies Kid Radical. The other Alternates give him a strange look. Starshadow shrugs, and beckons the Alternates to follow him.
The team goes down to a laboratory space, where Chronoclash is battling with someone who looks kind of like Baron Blade. However, this Baron Blade was a cyborg, with mechanical limbs and an enormous cybernetic pincer arm. As the Alternates enter, Chronoclash throws the cybernetic Baron Blade through a rift in spacetime.
Inside the room is also a person in futuristic space armor with a large shield - Starshadow introduces him as Aegis, and tells them he’s helping out.
As they enter, Chronoclash greets them, and the Alternates look at him with sour expressions. Starshadow walks over to a panel of instruments and asks Dr. Comet to check them. “Do these seem right to you?” he asks her.
“Oh, nope,” Dr. Comet replies. “That’s a timequake.”
Starshadow shouts to everyone, warning them of an incoming “timequake,” but by the time he finishes his warning, strange people start to pop into existence in the room.
Four somewhat-recognizable appear in the room. First is a man who looks like Proletariat, but his suit is covered in corporate logos. The second is Dr. Comet, except as an anthromorphic rabbit (“Dr. Coney”). Third is a Legacy who wears a red suit with a hammer and sickle logo on the chest, ad fourth is Starshadow, but in a yellow suit, giving off light instead of darkness (“Sunshower”).
Chronoclash explains that these “chronal deviants” are the result of the timeline’s malignant affliction, and must be pushed back through the temporal rifts he creates to right the timeline. The chronal deviants don’t seem keen on this idea, and, unprovoked, they attack everyone in reach.
The laboratory is fairly cramped, but Starshadow and Sunshower fly around the room, shooting beams of light and darkness. The rest of the Alternates, with the help of the newcomer Aegis, battle the other variants until each is thrown through Chronoclash’s rifts, and the battle ends.
As the timequake ends, Chronoclash tries to speak with the heroes, but Cytoblast and Kid Radical confront him argumentatively, insisting he should have given them more information and told them what was going on before sending them through time.
Chronoclash apologizes, and tells them that the flow of time “has to occur just so” to avoid further damage to the timeline. He told them all he could, he explains, indicating that he knew they had to travel back in time, and that Quasar Kid had to return to his own time in the process. Quasar Kid, he explains, was the source of the danger to the timeline. Chronoclash further details that the only way to fix it was for the Alternates to “travel back within their own timeline,” which, apparently, was more dangerous than travelling to another timeline.
When Kid Radical insists that Chronoclash explain how he knows these things, Chronoclash removes his helmet and reveals that he is, in fact, an older version of Quasar Kid. “I’m not your Quasar Kid,” he says. “This timeline is not my timeline, and your future is not my future, but I travel the timelines, trying to save as many possible timelines as I can… and this is one time where I had very specific insight into the source of the problem.”
The reveal leaves the Alternates a bit shocked, and Kid Radical and Cytoblast seem somewhat apologetic to Chronoclash. Chronoclash assures them that, back in the future, Quasar Kid will live a full and happy life. And with that, Chronoclash excuses himself, insisting he must go back to his mission roaming the timelines.
As the Alternates watch Chronoclash disappear into a time rift, the credits roll over the screen, and “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads plays as the episode ends.
This episode marks the end of the Alternates time-travel subplot, with Chronoclash riding off into the sunset, and Quasar Kid returning to his own spot on the timeline. Since Chronoclash is a version of Quasar Kid, it’s kind of like the Alternates lost Quasar Kid twice!
With the close of this episode, we can finally stitch together what’s been happening during these time travel adventures. First, it seems that the first instance of the mysterious time-travelling man in black was actually “Old Man Starshadow” saving Ms. Collywobbles. From there, unseen by the audience, Old Man Starshadow manipulated events so that the Alternates, as they bounced through time, would be directed to their ultimate destination. We have to assume he had insight into when and where the Alternates would appear on their trip. How he had this information remains a mystery.
Meanwhile, Chronoclash was bouncing around a different timeline from the one the Alternates inhabit. We can guess this from the scene where Flame-Tor attacks JFK’s motorcade in Dallas in November of 1963, which doesn’t happen in the Alternates timeline. Instead, all of those cold opens that featured Chronoclash occurred in a separate timeline, unrelated to the events happening to the Alternates in this timeline.
In other words, Flame-Tor was a red herring!
Every cold open except the first is unrelated to the main story, throwing off fans who love to guess and theorize about where the show is going. The nerve of these writers is unbelievable!
This episode also introduced the character of Aegis, who doesn’t get a lot of screen time or much of an introduction in this episode. We’ll hear more about him in the next episode, I’m sure.
Finally, I loved the “chronal deviants” in this episode, but I always love characters that come out of “Disparation” ideas. I could write a whole essay about my own ideas of the origins and adventures of “Corporoletariat,” but that’s not what I do here.
Be sure to join us next time for a Recap of Episode #44, titled “The Not-So-Great Beyond.”
Eddie Jaczerkowski is a staff writer who loves comic books and writes about television.
Running the Game
Whoa, where have I been? Taking a break, kinda. I burned out a little, so I’ve been taking it a little easier on my work surrounding this game, focusing more on the game and less on these Recaps. I’m trying to “get my groove back,” so we’ll see how long it takes for me to write another one!
For those of you interested in the time travel rules of the Sentinels universe, I tried to stick to them in this whole plot. For the most part, the time travellers are from different timelines - Chronoclash, Quasar Kid, and Old Man Starshadow are all from other timelines, and have travelled to the Alternates timeline.
However, all the time travelling the Alternates did was within their own timeline, which is much more rare in the Sentinels universe. In this case, that time travel always happened, which means this timeline always contained Quasar Kid travelling to it, which means this timeline always contains Quasar Kid travelling back to pre-historic times, which definitely doesn’t happen in the main Sentinels timeline, which means the Alternates’ timeline branched off from the main timeline much earlier than anyone would suspect.
This wasn’t something I planned when I started the whole game, but once your brain starts down the old “theories of time travel” path, it gets crazy fast.
Aegis is a new PC from the player of Quasar Kid, in case you were wondering!
Once again, thanks for reading! See you next time!