Saturday, January 14, 2017

My Life as a Gamer: The New Edition of TORG Takes Shape

TORG Originally published by West End Games (the same folks that did the original Star Wars tabletop RPG) in 1990, TORG was a game well ahead of its time. The idea of a wargame scenario wherein other dimensions--"cosms"--representing different genres of adventure fiction would come to our own (well, "our own" as represented by classic Hollywood action films of the 70s and 80s) to invade and steal the energy that literally makes our cosm possible was novel. The idea of making this a tabletop RPG, wherein the results of actual play would influence future products, was also a novel one. It justified a lot of Narrative Logic by making those metagame/metanarrative elements into things your characters literally got to discover, interact with, and use--even weaponize--while fighting against the invaders.

"TORG: Roleplaying the Possibility Wars" could have been, and should have been, far more successful and influential that it was. Alas, it befell incompetent management at West End, some developments went over like the Hindenburg, and it died in 1994 with a terrible final module that got universal disdain. Its fans--Yours Truly included--contributed to keeping a remnant alive online, which included a stillborn rebirth in this time, until recently. When West End finally gave up the ghost in 2010, TORG seemed condemned to wither online until the fans faded away into the void.

TORG Eternity German publisher Ulisses Spiele got the rights to TORG recently, and now they're spearheading a real and serious attempt at a new edition of the game. They're keeping up a development blog here, and I seriously hope that the potential of the original vision gets brought forth now that we have the technology to fulfill it as intended.

Yes, there are changes to the rules, to the mechanics, and to the setting. Some of these are fixing known issues of the original edition, and some are necessary to maintain the illusion of verisimilitude. Needlessly campy bullshit (e.g. Skippy the Edeinos) are gone, and far more care to tone and perception management is already evident in the development blog.

The previews are threadbare in substance, but what is there is quite promising; the new team not only gets the game, they get the inspirations behind the game and seek to revise the game to better fulfill both that inspirational material and how the game's setting would allow them all to intereact- and all with an eye to making it easy for people to play the game cold (no preparation) and stupid (no outside knowledge).

I hope that they get the rights to use the better artwork from the original edition, which are the pieces done by the following artists: Allen Nunis, Timothy Bradstreet, Bob Dvorak, John Paul Lona, Masahide Seya, Junoichi Fujikawa, George M., Kazuma Shirasaki, and Pete Venters.

If Ulisses Spiele delivers, then I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this new edition, and that means a long-overdue return for my favorite realm & High Lord in the game, pictured in the TORG Eternity cover: Dr. Mobius, High Lord of the Nile Empire (and of the Pulp Reality Cosm).

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