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TORG Overview

Welcome to your friendly neighborhood reality invasion.

Torg (rumored to be a joking acronym -- That Other Roleplaying Game) is a large game with a relatively small (but fanatically devoted) following. It is also an early example of a truly cinematic "action movie" system. But what really sets it apart is the setting, which IMHO has yet to be equaled for potential depth.

As has been mentioned before, Torg is a game based on the invasion of one reality -- an Earth very similar to our own -- by several others. These invaders are after the most valuable resource in existence: Possibility Energy, the fundamental building block of creation. These invasions are led by High Lords, who gain the power to invade other realities (or cosms) with the help of Darkness Devices. High Lords are invariably evil, as aside from the inherently tyrannical nature of their pursuit, the Darkness Devices only attune themselves to those who serve the Devices' ultimate master: Oblivion itself.

The Darkness Device creates objects, called stelae, that create boundaries of reality -- the reality of the High Lord that it serves and who serves it. By placing three of these stelae up to 500 km apart, the Possibility Energy of nearly everything caught in the triangle of overrun reality (and from 20 to 400 km high, depending on the technological level of the reality) is siphoned off to the Darkness Device, which keeps some, gives some to the High Lord, and discharges the rest.

In this manner, conquered areas serve two purposes -- the High Lord gains power, and the area is transformed to match the paradigm of the invading cosm, granting the Darkness Device new servants and resources. Such areas are generally called realms; e.g. "the Nile Empire realm in northern Africa." Every High Lord dreams of harnessing the power of the Darkness Device and Possibility Energy to become immortal -- a truly cosmic, virtually invincible being called the Torg. They all race to unlock this mystery, as there can be only one. So they scheme and plot against one another as well as their targets...which also serves the purpose of the Devices and their master.

While this invasion method is powerful and effective, it does have one weakness. On every world, there are a rare few gifted with the ability to sort Possibilities and bend fate to their need. The High Lords call them stormers, and attempt to recruit or subvert them whenever possible. They have to, because the process of invading a cosm creates enormous reality storms out of the Possibility discharges. This results in an explosion of stormers vastly greater than a cosm will normally create, resulting in a huge pool of potential heroes that can fight off the invaders. The richer a cosm's Possibility Energy pool, the more stormers it will create.

While High Lords usually enjoy great success in recruiting or eliminating stormers before they can become a credible threat, there have been setbacks to the invasion process. Recently, one of the most ambitious invasions ever attempted turned into the worst debacle in High Lord history. Stormers organized as many before, creating a new name for the cosmverse's heroes -- Storm Knights. Several High Lords were overturned and a handful of Darkness Devices were even destroyed -- and most Darkness Devices can easily survive in the heart of a star.

One of the pivotal figures in this debacle was an immortal Storm Knight ronin of sorts calling himself Roland X. The Gaunt Man, who has suffered a few recent reverses of his own, has just learned that Roland X's home cosm is even richer in Possibility Energy than the world he helped save.

The Rules: When Realities Clash

In the original Torg game, there was a huge cosmology and extensive backstory that had been created to explain the various aspects of Torg gaming. The depth of the mechanics of reality invasion, transformation, and restoration were equally deep -- and often complex.

For the CAoL, many of these rules will not be a problem. Also, I have no desire to deal with many of the problems certain aspects of the Possibility Wars create. Therefore, there are only a few issues for Earth-9's rescuers to keep in mind.

1) Transformation:

When the Possibility Raiders overrun a reality, the area taken is changed into something as closely resembling the invading reality as possible. The rules of science, magic, and other metaphysics apply to those within the realm, and anyone without the stormer gift is changed into a "native" in virtually every respect, including mentally and emotionally. Cars become carriages, skimmers, or other relevant forms of transportation. Scientists might become talented wizards, develop new "weird" technologies, or start developing hyperdrives instead of fuel cells, depending on the invaders. These transformations do take time, however, leaving the untransformed traumatized until they are changed as well.

This transformation is fueled by the victims' own Possibility Energy. This makes the conquered hostages as well as servants, as pulling up the stelae and transforming the region back will use up all the area's remaining Possibilities -- killing everyone. Heroes can restore Possibilities by convincing those in the realm to believe in, well, greater possibilities through legendary feats and tales. Cosmic beings can restore these Possibilities as well, saving the populace before they are killed by the catastrophic loss -- but not if they are fighting the stelae by pulling them themselves.

2) Reality Strength

There are two varieties of invaded area: mixed and dominant. Dominant areas are where one reality reigns more or less supreme, such as sections of the world that remain free of High Lord influence and those areas of an invading realm where the Raiders are strongest. There is one set of rules here, though stormers can continue to use their abilities as long as they don't botch their efforts. Dominant regions are almost completely transformed, as above, with only a few exceptional individuals (the stormers) and particularly famous and/or beloved places (like the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal, and the Eiffel Tower) remaining intact. Occasionally, lesser objects are not fully transformed, but if they are not supported by the new reality they become inoperative wrecks.

Mixed realms, on the other hand, are areas where the invading realm and the invaded cosm are of equal strength. Both sets of rules work equally well, so knights can ride motorcycles and Victorian vampires can surf the Web, while their counterparts can wield magic swords and research occult rituals. These regions tend to be on the fringes of an invader's territory, but they provide more Possibility Energy in the long term, so confident and powerful High Lords sometimes create mixed realms deliberately, though this negates much of their strategic advantage. (Note for Torg purists: Earth-9's reality is too strong to allow the existence of Pure Realms, which those unfamiliar with Torg should not confuse with Dominant Realms and just forget they ever heard the term. 8^)

3) Realm Running

Stormers can function normally in alien realities and resist transformation that results from cosm invasion. They can continue to use the abilities from their own reality, as well as those from the reality they're in. (Some Realm Runners even learn to use abilities from foreign realms in different regions, like an Earth-9 native going to the Middle-Earth realm and using a lightsaber. That's very risky for them, but not a problem for CAoLers.) They do, however, risk disconnection -- losing their ability to use contradictory realities and thus being forced to conform to the reality they're in. (Disconnection does not result in transformation; only a reality storm can do that to a stormer.) They can reconnect with time and concentration, but the stormer is very vulnerable in the meantime. Members of the CAoL are considered to be part of the "Callahan's" reality, which has pretty much one rule: anything goes. Therefore, they only risk disconnection in dominant realms of the invaders, and only if the author chooses to subject hir character to the, um, "added challenge." 8^)

The New Cosms

High Lord Realm Location (links to map graphic)
Darkseid Apokolips / supers New York / East Coast (27KB)
Sauron Middle Earth / fantasy England / Nordic countries (51 KB)
Dr. Mobius Nile Empire / pulp Northwest Africa (51 KB)
Emperor Palpatine Star Wars / sci-fi India (21KB)
Prince Caligari Theah / swashbuckling Mediterranean (51 KB)
The Gaunt Man Orrorsh / horror Siberia (22 KB)

Image notes: Sauron (green), Caligari (red), and Mobius (gold) are all on the same graphic. These all have mixed realms, shown in lighter shades. Nova Valdoria, Destroyer's nation, is also shown on this map in purple. The northern end of Zoltar's realm is in green on the Siberian map. The grey spots in the European/African map are some of the small areas that the Gaunt Man has placed mixed realms in.

If you have any questions, you know where to send 'em.

Prev: The Ultimates (Destroyer's team)
Next: New TORG Cosms


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