Tabletop Game / TORG
was a tabletop role-playing game with a truly multiversal
background published by West End Games from 1990 to about 1995; a revised and expanded rulebook came out in 2005. A multi-genre ruleset with multiple genres at the same time: the default campaign setting was an invasion of Earth (called Core Earth in the rules) by multiple different 'realities' in search of 'Possibility Energy.' Players take the role of Storm Knights, deliberately larger-than-life heroes engaged in fighting the invasion of Earth, to prevent it being conquered by several invading dimensions (called cosms), each with its own separate reality; cosms largely correspond with popular roleplaying genres.
Among those cosms are:
- Core Earth — "our" Earth, the base reality. Given the dramatic nature of the game, however, Core Earth had slightly better technology than the real world as well as some basic access to magic and miracles.
- Living Land — a primitive, Lost World-style jungle covering large swaths of the United States' East and West coasts plus a small piece of Canada. The dominant species were humanoid dinosaurs called edeinos. Technology and magic were almost nonexistent, but the inhabitants had access to powerful miracles.
- Aysle — a magical, low-technology realm that covered most of the United Kingdom and parts of Scandinavia. The realm was similar to traditional Dungeons & Dragons settings, but with slightly less powerful magic and somewhat better technology.
- The Cyberpapacy — covering France and Quebec, this was an interesting realm combining a repressive, medieval theocracy (that wielded real miracles) with cyberpunk technology and attitudes.
- Nippon Tech — an ultracapitalist nightmare society covering most of Japan where lies and betrayal were as common as breathing, and where martial artists, computer hackers, and yakuza fought to bring down the corporate-controlled government.
- The New Nile Empire — based in North Africa, this realm combined a restored Ancient Egypt with pulp sensibilities. 1930's technology worked side-by-side with Egyptian magical astronomy and "weird science" powers and gizmos, while costumed Mystery Men patrolled the alleyways of Cairo.
- Orrorsh — a Gothic Horror realm with a touch of Lovecraft set in Indonesia where the realm's Victorians considered it their White Man's Burden to protect the natives from the unspeakable monsters roaming the countryside. The greatest enemy in Orrorsh, however, was the enemy within: the realm would attempt to seduce Storm Knights to the side of Wickedness.
- Tharkold — The nightmare world that invades Los Angeles; best described as a CyberPunk version of Hellraiser with a bit of Terminator thrown in for fun.
In 2010, the rights to TORG were bought by German company Ulisses Spiele, publishers of The Dark Eye
, as part of a selloff of West End Games' RPG properties, and by 2014 they'd made most of the books, save the original boxed set, available to buy on PDF. In 2015, they announced they'd be releasing a new version, TORG: Eternity
, as their first English-language RPG, overhauling the mechanics and setting, and including all of the original cosms.
Tropes that apply to TORG
- Beneath the Earth: There was a 'sub-cosm' called the Land Below that connected to both the Living Land and New Nile Empire, and had aspects of both realms in its makeup. Basically it was for everyone who wanted to run Hollow Earth adventures. Supposedly there were more such 'sub-cosms' but they were never detailed.
- Black and White Morality: In the Nile Empire, the Law of Morality makes it so that everyone and everything (yes, even the animals) is either Good or Evil.
- Card-Carrying Villain: The Nile Empire is full of them, with Dr. Mobius the biggest one of all.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: 3327.
- Cyber Punk: The Cyberpapacy. Tharkold and Nippon Tech (which has occasionally been described as cyberpunk without the cyberware), too.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If an Orrorshan Horror is not killed by its True Death, its corrupt soul just goes to the Waiting Village until it gets recycled into a new Horror.
- Enemy Civil War: The High Lords put as much effort in screwing over other High Lords as they do in expanding their own realms.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the supplement featuring the Gaunt Man telling his story, he mentioned a moment when he felt sickened when the cult worshiping The Nameless One he was a part of decided to sacrifice two people they'd kidnapped - because the cult leader talked about it pleasing The Nameless One, and the Gaunt Man had just undergone a ritual that made him aware that the Nameless One wasn't even aware of their existence. He even spelled out that if the cult leader had said they'd sacrificed the two victims for fun he would have approved of it.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The Living Land.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Pretty much the point of TORG, which is about various realities invading each other. So, indeed, we can have a monster from a horror reality meet up with heroes from a technocratic reality, and so forth. In a twist, stuff from one "paradigm" tends to malfunction in others, so don't expect ray guns to work in a stone age world.
- Fisher Kingdom: There are several parallel Earths invading "the real world"; each one has a tendency to warp the new inhabitants to the new rules of that domain. Player characters had the ability to resist this effect to some degree.
- Flat World: The High Fantasy realm of Aysle, an Earth-sized discworld with life on both sides and a hole in the center through which a small sun rises and sets.
- Fun with Acronyms: TORG stands for "The Other Roleplaying Game". Also, the Gaunt Man.
- Game Master: the 'leader' (although he spends most of the war offstage) of the invading armies is the Gaunt Man. Also, there is a game mechanic (the Drama Deck) for players to introduce subplots into the storyline, although almost no one ever plays the Martyr card.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Pella Ardinay during the time she was possessed by Uthorion.
- Happy Fun Ball: "Conjure The Bouncing Hordes Of Doom", found in the supplement "Pixaud's Practical Grimoire". The material component for the spell was a rubber ball with arcane symbols carved into the surface. When the caster tossed the ball while saying "I invoke you", the ball would split into six armed and armored Munchkins with Speedball's bouncing powers and resistance to kinetic damage, combined with Wolverine's skills with blades AND a gremlin's sheer nastiness.
- He's Back: The Gaunt Man in the appropriately entitled The Gaunt Man Returns.
- Living Gasbag: The stalengers of the Living Land are floating, gas-filled beings with manipulative tentacles.
- Puff of Logic: The fantasy world of Aysle, where the local laws of reality stated that Your Mind Makes It Real to the extent that real people could cross a sufficiently convincing illusionary bridge.
- Reality Bleed: Part of the very concept.
- Ring of Fire: Has a mechanic that generated a Ring of Fire that went up to 11. The game is based around variant realities, and when two "possibility-rated" characters (read: PCs and important villains) from different realities face off, they can invoke a 'reality storm' that separates them from any other interference so that they can get down to the business of forcefully shoving their realities down each other's throats.
- Significant Anagram: "Orrorsh" is an anagram of "horrors"
- The Starscream: Thrachen is this to the Gaunt Man.
- A Storm Is Coming: Earth is invaded by a coalition of armies from various cosms with the capability to bring their own differing natural laws (read: genre conventions) into the territory they occupied. The borders between two reality zones were marked by "reality storms", leading to one of the game's slogans: "The Storm Has a Name."
- Victorian Britain: The Victorians of Orrorsh are like this, only more so.
- White Man's Burden: Played With in Orrorsh, which has taken over our world's Indonesia. It's a world hunted by Lovecraftian Horrors, and fighting them off (or at least keeping the knowledge about them secret) is said burden. Noted in game was the irony that despite the invading Victorians' sense of superiority, they were quite a bit *less* technologically advanced than the native Indonesians.
- Actually the real irony was the fact that while the Victorians were motivated by a genuine desire to help earth fight back against the invasion, they didn't understand the mechanics of reality invasion well enough to know that THEIR PRESENCE actually aided the invasion.