A Dive into the Lore
Torg Eternity is an interesting game, for the fact that it is based on a decently-sized (about 30 sourcebooks, by my count), metaplot driven game that wound its way to a logical end and closed its doors. In some ways, its story has already been told in full, and the line has a clearly delineated beginning, mid-point and final act. (Whether or not were handled very well is up for discussion; I shall be covering some of those points at some point.)
To their credit, Ulisses Spiel has chosen to both acknowledge all of this lore and let some parts of it shape the course of the new game’s metaplot. At the same time, they have also left the door open – in a strange, in-game way – to casually discard bits of the lore as they go. (The iconic character, Quinn Sebastian, serves this function. It is explicitly stated that his knowledge of events roughly equates to having read the entirety of the first game’s canon. And it’s pretty evident that he’s going to quickly run into unexpected twists within the course of the war.) From every indication, it’s going to follow a pattern roughly similar to the Sci-Fi Channel’s reboot of Battlestar Galactica: Many of the same characters and events have survived the transition, but they’ve been tuned to current tastes and sensibilities. There are going to recognizable elements, but overall, this new edition will fix the mistakes of the old and bring it to a new level. (Assume that, for this analogy, we can leave off most of the last season of Galactica.)
But what parts of this lore is important, and what parts are likely to be left out?
There is every indication that one of the major overhauls is coming in the form of how the Edeinos – and by extension, High Lord Baruk Kaah, Saar of the Edeinos – are being treated in the lore. In the original, the Dinosaur Invasion was treated as something of a joke, with the expatriate lizardmen ending up as a sort of continuing source of parody. One infamous illustration has an Edeinos pitching for the local baseball team, and there is the recurrent nonsense of Skippy the Edeinos. Partway into the line, they published Temple of Rec Stalek as an attempt to keep things from going too far astray.
This time around, Thrakmoss and his rebel cult are there from the outset, which will provide some interesting tension. In a passing mention, the game notes that, while these Edeinos are rebelling against Baruk Kaah, they’re not exactly sympathetic to the plight of the Core Earth humans, either.
Also included in this section is an interesting note about a new maelstrom bridge that’s been dropped in the Yucatan.
This requires a bit of explanation to make sense of.
So, when the game was released, it came in the form of a boxed set – as standard for the time. The box included the main book, a Drama Deck, the smaller World and Adventure books, and the first Infiniverse newsletter. The World Book covered each of the invading cosms in quick detail, hinting at what sorts of new material was coming. (Not unlike the text of the new Eternity mainbook.) The Infiniverse newsletter was West End Games’ attempt at a living campaign in the years before internet ubiquity. (This is something I will try to get back to as well.)
The World Book had a startlingly wide variety of character templates – essentially half-made characters that needed minor tweaks, like plugging in the skills and adding some equipment. The character templates gave generic backstories that would hook a player into the setting quickly and gave some insight into the sparse information that the World Book sketched out. There were 24 archetypes in total, split between the six realms and Core Earth.*
The final template was a weird one: Werewolf. The Attributes and Skills were split between the two forms, with certain skills being unavailable for use when transformed. On the surface, it made sense, but the rules required for it were a little cumbersome, compared to the pick-up-and-play aspect of the rest of the characters.
Shortly after the boxed set was released, West End Games put out the Possibility Wars trilogy of tie-in novels. I can’t make the claim that they were well written, but they filled in the basic outline of the first months of the war and brought to light some of the events that were vitally important to the storyline. Among other things, it illuminated the scene where Jean Malraux was ambushed and the Inquisition-themed False Papacy was shifted into becoming the Cyberpapacy. (See next post for details on this.)
The books featured a set of iconic characters, generally based on the character templates in the World Book, who would never show up again. Among them was the character of Kurst, the Orrorshan Werewolf. Except that he wasn’t.
As it turned out, Kurst was actually a brainwashed former High Lord that had pissed off the Gaunt Man. He ended up getting beaten badly when the Gaunt Man invaded his home cosm, and his Darkness Device fucked off before it could be added to the Gaunt Man’s horde. Suddenly, this relatively unimportant member of the ensemble cast became pivotal to the events of the war.
See, apparently Kurst (then Dairoga) was the first High Lord that the Gaunt Man had encountered, and his cosm was the first conquered. And when the broken Darkness Device, Tagharra, fled, it ended up landing on Core Earth. The Gaunt Man went out to search for where it had fled, found Core Earth, and started making plans to invade it some seven centuries later.
Meanwhile, the broken Darkness Device, Tagharra, was pretty much brain-damaged, and being unaware of its own actual power, used its influence to dick with the natives where it had landed. Renamed Huitzilopochtli (the god of war in the Aztec pantheon, for those playing at home), it influenced the native tribes of the Yucatan to make blood sacrifices to it, which eventually brought the ruin of most of the tribes in the area. It wasn’t until the Conquistadors showed up that it was finally dropped down a hole and left to rot. (And naturally, it became the subject of a later adventure module, High Lord of Earth.)
It also bears noting that the lore for Tagharra appears to be where the in-universe term for stelae originated.
So, yeah. One of the first things that the new invasion of Edeinos is trying to deal with is to get hold of the broken Darkness Device that rests beneath a pyramid somewhere in the Yucatan. Exactly what they plan to do with it is entirely up for debate, but were it up to me, I’d hand it over to Thrakmoss. There’s an established tendency for High Lords to trade in Darkness Devices, as the Gaunt Man rewarded Uthorian with Drakacanus for his loyal service. It would make sense for Baruk Kaah to lay hands on Tagharra and use it as a means to keep Thrakmoss from being a thorn in his side.
And after all, a broken Darkness Device with an obsession over blood sacrifice seems like it’s tailor-made for a death worshiping malcontent.
*Not an even split, mind you. A full third of the available characters were from Core Earth, which makes sense. But of the remaining 16, Nippon Tech and the Living Land only got two characters each, where the rest got three.