RPGs that time forgot... Torg

Tag Line: Role-Playing the Possibility Wars
Makers: West End Games

What is it?
Our Earth is simultaneously attacked by a number of alternate Earths (or Cosm), who invade parts of the world and then start waging war on us, and on each other. You play "Storm Knights", heroes from any of these Cosms able to manipulate possibility energy, bent on freeing the Earth from tyrannical rule. Boxed set containing rulebook, adventure book, worldbook, Inifiniverse campaign booklet, drama deck and d20.

Neat Stuff
-A number of worlds are straight out of pulp fiction, so though Torg seems like SF, I've always considered it closer to pulp. The Living Land, the Land Below (not in the basic set), the Nile Empire (with pulp era superheroes) and Orrorsh (Victorian horror) are all in this mold. The Cyberpapacy is a really radical idea for a Cosm.
-The premise: For a multi-genrer like me, this is great, great stuff regardless of the execution.
-The Everlaws and axioms are an interesting way to show how Cosms are governed and what is possible in each. Portable to other cross-dimensional games.
-The drama deck is certainly a cool idea. Basically, you score cards that help you affect action scenes or subplots. It might be interesting to port this idea to other games, but the drama deck as printed is too rules-heavy to use directly.
-The chaos dice. I've always loved the look of this baby--->
-The provided adventure, "Before the Dawn" is a good introductory adventure that covers three Cosms.

Bad Stuff
-Some of the rules are overly complicated, as are some of the setting ideas. There are three kinds of damage, for example, and don't ask me to explain Stelae and reality storms. Some of that stuff I never really understood.
-Some of the worlds aren't very evocative. Aysle is just a generic fantasy setting, and Nippon Tech isn't made interesting at all in the core book. (Though when you talk to players, they might find the Living Land or Orrorsh lacking instead, or even the Cyberpapacy, so there are execution problems for sure.)
-There's a neat idea that you should sent your adventure results to West End so that they can skew the game world in accordance with the majority of campaigns is interesting, but in pre-Internet days, was impractical. And of course, once the game line ends, there's no point anymore. And what if you're in the minority anyway?

"This scene is a big production - if it were a movie, probably 30 percent of the film's budget would be spent on special effects for this one."

How I've used it
While in college, I tried to start a campaign because the concept was just too awesome. Played the introductory adventure, but I have no real recollection of how it went, and we didn't go ahead with the campaign after that. I think we struggled with the rules and that was that. More recently, I adapted the "Before the Dawn" as "The Still Earth Game" for Dream Park, tweaking it into a "death-match" between three GameMasters, each on responsible for one Cosm in the story (I played all three, of course, but with a different GMing style and different targets of disdain). It was pretty deadly, especially in the endgame, but the players did enjoy the middle part in the Nile Empire, with a nice hydroplane dogfight as its climax. And I would revisit the world of Torg many times in Dream Park, simply to exploit its cross-genre elements, but those are stories for another time, since I used other products to achieve my ends. It should also be noted that Torg inspired a PBEM wargame I called Clash, with homemade Cosms crashing into Earth. It was a cross between Torg and Risk, and two games were played until I didn't have time for it anymore (both times). Here I present the map of game two when we quit the second game.
By that time, three worlds were dead: Mecha, Gene Wolfe's Urth and Toon. What's left there is the tanks of Ogre (blue), Olympus (maroon), Grant Morrison's City of Bone from Doom Patrol (orange), Camelot (gray), the Romulans (arriving on Venus, indent), and my kid brother's Andorians (green). He'd won the previous game too (with Sauron's forces against smart dolphins, John Lennon's peace initiative, and others).

In conclusion
Torg simply didn't play to its strengths, so its beautiful high concept was always hampered by kinda samey Cosms, too-complex rules and dull products. Still, I found a lot of inspiration in this game, and in the end, that was enough.


Anonymous said...

Argh! Clash! How dare you tease me this way!

Anonymous said...

why does this ring a bell for me?
Did we play this? Must not have been memorable.

Siskoid said...

Yes, Doc, you were in the first group. Somebody might've played some sort of werewolf, and there might've been a priest of some kind or... a crusader rebel from the Cyberpapacy?

I can't find the relevant character sheets, though it's totally my style to have kept them all these years.

Unknown said...

Anyone still interested in torg should join us all at the 23 year old torg discussion group.


We look forward to discussing torg with you!

Cheers, mark.

Anonymous said...

Apologies if it's Gauche to ask about such an old post, but I'd love to hear more about Clash.

Siskoid said...

I'm not sure I have the original materials that would tell me what the rules were, but until my friend Dédé programmed his own bare bones version (which didn't support alternate realities/rules), I was rolling dice for hours interpreting everyone's moves. It's the reason it collapsed. As armies grew, it became more and more unmanageable. I was also creating jpgs of every territory with the proper armies on it every round. So analog!


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Orville The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine