Day Zero Adventures
As written, any Torg or Torg Eternity campaign starts approximately three months after the maelstrom bridges come down. The Realms have been established, the events that define the opening gambits of the Possibility Wars have already played out, and all of the various character options have been established for general use. You can set up a party (in the new game) with a Realm Running Core Earth character, an Aylish Wizard, and a Renegade Cyberpriest seeking redemption for his heresies. All of the potentials for a starting character group have been unlocked.
Being the contrarian that I am, I don’t really cleave to this idea. For me, it’s a lot easier to lead into the war and give the players a little more personal stake in what unfolds. It has worked very well for me in the past, even if the games in question ground to a halt in the midst of the war starting. I have less to explain in a long and dry information dump at the outset of the campaign, and this way, I can introduce elements at whichever rate I choose to.
What’s gratifying is there is some official support to this idea from Ulisses Spiel. Part of the Stretch Goals for the Kickstarter included funding a 144-page sourcebook of Day One adventures, where the players can take on the roles of otherwise normal, non-ascended people caught in the middle of the initial Invasion, seemingly as they are made to face their own Moments of Crisis. According to the write-up of the book, playing through these adventures can serve as an introduction to the Possibility Wars, but obviously this is only going to hold true for GM’s who wait until the adventures are released to do so.
So, while this is a nice thought, I’m likely going to have to find a way to use these later on. By rights, these adventures are structured to be used as side sessions with pre-made characters who are implied to possibly show up in later adventure supplements or serve as a stock NPC’s within the GM’s home campaign. Whether or not they will serve that function in my game will depend on a number of factors, not the least of which will be the timing of the release. The way I figure it, Ulisses Spiel has about a month in which to make good on the release of this book.
When I set up a pre-Invasion Torg game, there are a couple of considerations that I try to build into the concept. First off, I want to have the characters involved in a high action game from the first scenes. As discussed, this has taken the form of a group of FBI agents on one occasion and a squad of SWAT team members on another. This gives the players the chance to get into necessary combat, offers plot hooks from a designated superior, and allows them to get into all manner of scrapes without worrying overmuch about having the law come after them. Y’know, mainly because they are the law in these given scenarios. (That is not to say that they kept their noses clean in either of these games. We’ll not talk about the time they set a gas station in Maryland afire in the course of their investigations.)
This time around, the characters are part of a PMC called Tannhauser Solutions. During the opening shots of the game, they’ve been based in Miami (all those seasons of Dexter and Burn Notice are coming into play again), which limits the protection that the PMC can offer them, but in the grand tradition of real world PMC’s like Blackwater, they will be able to act with utter impunity once they hit foreign soil. Also, being part of a group like Tannhauser, they have access to whatever military hardware they decide to bring along. Makes things so much easier.
One of the mechanical considerations that I have to keep in mind is that the characters are not, as yet, Possibility Rated. This means that several of the core elements of the game, as written, are off-limits to them. They have none of the Reality-based Perks, they can’t avoid Transformation until they actually hit their Moment of Crisis*, and their dice are actually different.
Or at least, they always used to be.
This is the problem I have with not having a physical book. For good or for ill, I tend to skim anything I read on a screen. And when I’m going over familiar material like this, I am already pre-disposed to skim. So, when I go back to check on the particular rules for Ords, I can’t verify whether or not they’ve limited them the same way. In the original rules, they rolled the same D20 for task resolution, but they were limited on the re-rolls, being unable to explode a result of 20 on the die.
For my purposes, I default to Masterbook.
By way of explanation, Masterbook was the more generic system that West End Games put out after Torg was well underway. Most of the worlds that fell under Masterbook were horror-themed, with titles like Tales from the Crypt, Necroscope, Species, and their own Bloodshadows. As such, Masterbook tended to be a little grittier (there was a card in their version of the Drama Deck that gave bonuses for a well-timed betrayal), and the dice for the game reflected it. Instead of a D20 for task resolution, Masterbook used a system with 2D10, which seems like it would run out a similar curve but didn’t. The end result was that the average result was lower and characters had to try harder and be more generally competent.
This means that the pre-Invasion Core Earth characters are running a 2D10 baseline, which makes things more difficult, but I’ve kept in most of the mechanics of the actual Possibilities, meaning they can use them for re-rolls in necessary tasks. I’ve also had to limit the available Perks, since they no longer have readily availed access to such things as Miracles, Psionics or Reality.** Soon enough, they’ll open up those categories for their advancement, but not for the time being.
*Since I’ve already referenced this twice, it bears a definition. A Moment of Crisis is the point where a non-Possibility Rated character (termed an Ord, in-universe) reaches a moral choice in a potentially life-or-death situation. When they choose a path under these circumstances, they are infused with Possibility energy and can learn to subtly manipulate it to chart the course of their existence. Core Earth is particularly rich in such individuals, but Moments of Crisis pop up all over the place. When a person is infused with this energy, they become a Storm Knight and can weather the changes in Reality as they continue to fight the Invasion.
**On the off-chance that someone is using my tweaks for their own home game, I’ve allowed the following Perk categories as potentials: Faith, Leadership, Prowess, Psionics, Social and Spellcraft. Mind, I’ve disallowed them from being able to take Faith, Psionics and Spellcraft, but that’s only because of how their characters were built. Had someone decided that they were a devout Catholic, rather than a CEO (Christmas, Easter, Other) Catholic, it would have been an option.
Posted on July 24, 2017, in Current Games, Gaming Philosophy, Kickstarter, Older Games, Review, Systems Discussion and tagged Torg, Torg Eternity, Ulisses Spiel, West End Games. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.