This has all happened before…
… and it will all happen again.
This is essentially how the new version of Torg is introduced. The original series of books opened with a standardized pitch for the game: Later today, early tomorrow, sometime next week, the world began to end. It was direct, dramatic, and gave the reader some sense of immediacy of the game they were delving into. This was, by rights, a game that was set in a world very much like our own, except that things had recently gone very, very wrong.
The new version of Torg, set some 25 years after the first, acknowledges that everything in the old game happened – for better or worse. But it also wants to stress that this time things are different. This time, shit’s really going to hit the fan. This is a tale of a different Earth. One where things did not go as well… It’s understood that we’re still operating in the game’s Near Now setting, but we’re working with new horrors and situations and power struggles.
For what it’s worth, I’ve played Torg from its original publication, collecting the various sourcebooks and adventures as they were released over the original print run. It was and remains one of my favorite games, both for the flexibility (I’ve used it for a number of wholly unrelated games over the years) and for the available opportunities for plot and action. Accordingly, I put out quite a bit of money for the Kickstarter campaign that concluded last month. I’d be damned if I was left out of the relaunch of a game I have this sort of history with.
The PDF’s arrived this afternoon, and I’ve been slowly moving through the text to see what sort of changes are offered. It’s been an interesting read thus far, noting what sort of details they’re putting in and what sort of elements they’re referencing.
In one of my longer running campaigns, I started the characters a short time before the maelstrom bridges fell. The default setting of the game assumes that all of the opening salvos of the war have taken place, and the invasion has settled in for what amounts to be a siege of reality. My own interpretation was to have the characters brought in on a sort of X-Files themed investigation, where they were forced to confront the scouts of a larger invading force.
Part of this campaign set-up hinged on the fact that, as agents of the FBI (how better to do X-Files than to let people assume that it’s actually based on X-Files?), they reported to a deputy director who knew way more about the coming invasion than he necessarily should have. Byron McEnnis, they could have eventually discovered, was a veteran of a separate Possibility War who had transitioned to a new Earth in the greater schema of the Infiniverse campaign setting. He was trying his damnedest to forestall the invasion that was coming to the campaign world, and the player characters were his method of trying to keep this version of reality from failing as badly.
Torg Eternity addresses this idea early on, hinting that one of the old mainstay iconics (a term that didn’t exist at the time of the original publications), Quinn Sebastian, is just such a character. In the original, he was a soldier-of-fortune who lurked in the corners of the game’s larger narrative, leaving quotes throughout the text but otherwise never really appearing in the world. (See also: Dr. Hachi-Mara Two and Father Christopher Bryce. I mean, they were only featured on the main cover image for the game. Much like Andrew Jacks “Ace” Decker, they showed up in the novels and were pretty much left out of everything else.)
These days, Quinn Sebastian serves as the MCU Nick Fury of Torg. He’s the main force in organizing the Delphi Council (which used to be shadowy and more than a little sinister), and he’s been given his own aircraft carrier parked off of New York City. He’s recruited Lady Ardinay (the original High Lord of Aysle; sort of) to sit on the Delphi Council, and for some reason, he’s also managed to snag one of the members of the Gaunt Man’s own Hellion Court. This one fascinates me, since it’s so generally weird of a development. I have the feeling that it’s going to be a pivotal plot element later on.
So far as the larger story goes, there’s a new sub-mechanic that they note, which serves as a rationale for some of the choices the High Lords made this time around. Originally, when the High Lords invaded, there wasn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to where they all showed up, other than some vague thematic ideas. This time around, it’s noted that population centers are incredibly important, so one realm was shifted from Malaysia and New Guinea to India. (And given that it’s generally based on Victorian England, it makes far more sense.)
As far as initial observations go, I have one final one to impart before delving back into the text for a while. Even though I’ve covered very little of the setting thus far, there are some fascinating decisions baked into the core of the new text.
In the original, there were Hardpoints. These were iconic parts of the Core earth setting that served as symbols of the original reality and could hold back parts of the invading cosms enough that people could continue to function. The Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower were two pretty obvious examples, the latter of which allowed Paris to function as a free city within the Cyberpapacy.
On the included map, there are a number of Hardpoints noted, even if they are (as yet) unidentified. From all appearances, Lady Liberty and La Tour Eiffel are still holding strong, but there are a couple of fascinating additions that stand out. (Assuming that I’m interpreting them correctly.) First off, it looks like Mecca and Medinah are represented in the Nile Empire. (There’s also one in what appears to be Kampala, Uganda, but I’m at a loss as to what that could be.) That casts some interesting ideas about how hard it would be for Pharaoh Mobius to take Jerusalem.
But more to the point, it appears that Normandy and Hiroshima are similar Hardpoints.
And speaking as someone who has spent time in Hiroshima, that would make for a really interesting element to incorporate.