Tabletop Game / TORG

TORG is a tabletop role-playing game with a truly multiversal background originally published by West End Games from 1990 to about 1995; a revised and expanded rulebook came out in 2005. It's a multi-genre ruleset with multiple genres at the same time; the default campaign setting is 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:

    Cosms in TORG 
  • Core Earth — "Our" Earth, the base reality. Given the dramatic nature of the game, however, Core Earth has 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 are humanoid dinosaurs called edeinos. Technology and magic are almost nonexistent, but the inhabitants have access to powerful miracles.
  • Aysle — A magical, low-technology realm that covers most of the United Kingdom and parts of Scandinavia. The realm is similar to traditional Dungeons & Dragons settings, but with slightly less powerful magic and somewhat better technology.
  • The Cyberpapacy — Covering France and Quebec, this is an interesting realm combining a repressive, medieval theocracy (that wields real miracles) with cyberpunk technology and attitudes.
  • Nippon Tech — An ultracapitalist nightmare society covering most of Japan where lies and betrayal are as common as breathing, and where martial artists, computer hackers, and yakuza fight to bring down the corporate-controlled government.
  • The New Nile Empire — Based in North Africa, this realm combines a restored Ancient Egypt with pulp sensibilities. 1930s technology works side-by-side with Egyptian magical astronomy and "weird science" powers and gizmos, while costumed Mystery Men patrol the alleyways of Cairo.
  • Orrorsh — A Gothic Horror realm with a touch of Lovecraft set in Indonesia where the realm's Victorians consider it their White Man's Burden to protect the natives from the unspeakable monsters roaming the countryside. The greatest enemy in Orrorsh, however, is the enemy within: the realm will 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 and two novels from the first trilogy, 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, albeit tweaked to a lesser or greater extent. A Kickstarter for the Eternity corebook ran in June 2017, smashing through its initial $8000 goal in a matter of minutes, and eventually reaching over $350,000.

    Cosms in TORG Eternity 
  • Core Earth — The world as seen in Western action movies, featuring badass heroes and rare and mysterious magic and miracles.
  • Living Land — The overall shape of the cosm has changed, and it now also includes part of the Yucatan Peninsula.
  • Aysle — Much the same, at least on the surface.
  • The Cyberpapacy — Now covering France, Spain and Portugal.
  • Pan-Pacifica — The old Nippon Tech, now covering most of Japan, Taiwan, North and South Korea, and part of China. Tweaked to more closely resemble Hong Kong cinema, a world of intrigue, determination and vengeance.
  • New Nile Empire — Slightly smaller, having had the extent of its western border reduced.
  • Orrorsh — Now covering India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and parts of Pakistan and Myanmar.
  • Tharkold — The realm proper now covers part of western Russia. Much of northern Russia, however, is now covered by the Blasted Land, a post-apocalyptic mix of Core Earth and Tharkold, the result of a nuclear strike against Tharkold's first invasion attempt.


Tropes that apply to TORG

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Pella Ardinay is strawberry blonde in original Torg and golden blonde in Eternity.
  • Adaptational Badass: One of the stated goals for Eternity was that Baruk Kaah and the edeinos would not be the Butt Monkeys they wound up becoming in original Torg.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: The Tharkold invasion of Russia is successful in Eternity, though it experiences its own setbacks.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • The Delphi Council in original Torg were a bunch of largely clueless opportunists using the Possibility Wars to make a power play. In Eternity, they have a better grasp of how to properly fight the High Lords and co-ordinate Storm Knight actions against them.
    • The Nippon Tech yakuza were little more than goons in the employ of Kanawa. The yakuza of Pan-Pacifica actively oppose Kanawa, as do the Chinese and Korean crime syndicates.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Several World Laws from original Torg were dropped in Eternity, among them Aysle's Law of Observation, Core Earth's Law of Prodigy, the Cyberpapacy's Law of Ordeal, the Nile Empire's Law of Morality, and Nippon Tech's Law of Profit.
    • With the more dire situation in Eternity, Dennis Quartermain and his inept power grab shenanigans are a poor fit.
    • It's strongly implied in the Gamemaster's Section of Eternity that the Akashans are not going to be making an appearance later, at least not in force.
  • Alternate Continuity: Eternity to the original game.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Akashans.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Not actually the case with Torg's magic system. However, it gets alluded to in the Aysle adventure from the Day One collection. The text recommends awarding Possibilities to the player with the character who got transformed into a wizard by the axiom wash should he choose to deliberately play by this trope.
  • Artifact of Doom: The High Lords get their power from sentient "possibility engines" called Darkness Devices. They don't get much more Doomy than being pieces of the Spacetime Eater, the Nameless One, who made them as a way to trick the various realities into weakening its imprisonment — if it gets free in one set of realities, they're toast.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Thanks to the low Social Axiom of the Living Land, the combat tactics of the edeinos aren't very sophisticated and consist largely of this.
  • Back from the Dead: A villain in the Nile Empire can never be truly counted as dead unless you've recovered the corpse. But even if you do, it's still not guaranteed.
  • Badass Bystander: The Day One collection for Eternity consists of seven adventures (one for each realm) which take place on the first day of the invasion. The characters included for play with each scenario are regular folks going about their business when the maelstrom bridges hit the ground. They include teachers, office workers, priests, bus drivers, tour guides, and similar unassuming types, with the occasional cop or ex-soldier thrown in. The one exception is the Tharkold scenario, where characters are Russian soldiers tasked with collecting data from a research station at the Moscow maelstrom bridge before it gets nuked.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Specifically bears in the Blasted Land, which are often fused with armor plating and Occultech implants.
  • Beneath the Earth: There's a "sub-cosm" called the Land Below that connects to both the Living Land and New Nile Empire, and has aspects of both realms in its makeup. Basically it's for everyone who wants to run Hollow Earth adventures. While other sub-cosms had their axioms and world laws described in the Infiniverse Updates, none received the same level of detail as the Land Below.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In the public eye, Reiko Kanawa is a beloved celebrity who helps keep her brother's ruthlessness reigned in. The truth of the matter is that Ryuchi is just the face of the company while Reiko is the true power.
  • Black and White Morality: In the original game's Nile Empire, the Law of Morality makes it so that everyone and everything (yes, even the animals) is either Good or Evil. Eternity replaces it with the Law of Heroism that causes heroes to rise in response to evil — but also allows villains to match those heroes and even win, if they're smart and lucky.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: The Lightning Strike miracle in Eternity requires the invoker to castigate the target for an entire round. The next round delivers an attack with a base damage roughly equivalent to that of a cannon.
  • Break the Cutie: Pella Ardinay did not walk away from Ulthorion's possession in Eternity without some severe mental scarring — she's become obsessed with his destruction to self-defeating extremes.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Nile Empire is full of them, with Dr. Mobius the biggest one of all.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Overcharge Perk allows the character to take an extra die roll to add to the final total when using a psionic skill, but at the cost of taking a wound which cannot be soaked.
  • Cast From Stamina: The Aysle Law of Magic as revised in Eternity allows a spellcaster to gain a one shot bonus to a magic skill by taking Shock damage. Ki Power Perks are also powered with Shock.
  • Censor Steam: In Issue 30 of Infiniverse, a team of pulp villains themed on the four elements were featured in a dispatch. Air was a woman whose costume consisted solely of cloud wisps over her naughty bits.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: In original Torg, the bonus generated for an attack would be applied to both the combat skill being used and (assuming a successful hit was scored) the attack's damage. This could be particularly disadvantageous to a Fragile Speedster, since a high enough bonus to barely land a successful hit could all but guarantee a One-Hit Kill.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: 3327/Ryuchi Kanawa. Hands this role off to his Iron Lady Mad Scientist sister Reiko in Eternity.
  • Crocodile Pool: Dr. Mobius has one for occasions whenever a minion is insolent enough to question his intents.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Characters with cyberware run the risk of succumbing to bouts of cyberpsychosis. Occultech implants that haven't been exorcised properly can do this more literally. However, unlike settings such as Rifts and Shadowrun, having cybernetics does not adversely affect a character's ability to wield arcane energies.
  • Cyber Punk: The Cyberpapacy. Tharkold and Nippon Tech (which has occasionally been described as cyberpunk without the cyberware), too.
  • Darker and Edgier: The situation in Eternity is more desperate than in the original — Tharkold successfully invades Russia, Orrosh takes over India, and the Gaunt Man is an active player, rather than being trapped in a reality storm. Played with, in that the Darkness Devices are letting rebellions happen as part of their nature to provoke disorder, the Delphi Council are the Big Good, and Core Earth has a World Law that manufactures Storm Knights with far finer control over reality.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: The Pan Pacifica adventure included in the Day One collection ends with the characters on the roof of a Kanawa installation surrounded by Infected. Things look up when a VTOL craft lands and unloads several security troops. However, their commander orders that the characters be shot, aside from one to be kept for study and questioning.
  • Enemy Civil War:
    • The High Lords put as much effort in screwing over other High Lords as they do in expanding their own realms.
    • A significant minority of ravagons believe that the Gaunt Man's claims of divinity are false.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the first edition 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.
  • Evil Knockoff: The Warrior of the Dark is a doppleganger of Tolwyn Tancred.
  • Expy: Word of God is that Eternity sample character Anishaa Nayar is essentially an Indian Lara Croft.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Dr. Mobius' signature "reality bombs", which force a temporary axiom wash to his rules in a place he hasn't established a stelae network yet.
  • 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 have 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/That Other Roleplaying Game". Also, the Gaunt Man.
  • Functional Magic:
    • Magic is a combination of force magic and rule magic, arcane energy that can be manipulated in accordance with certain rules. Its capabilities rely on the Magic axiom.
    • Miracles are theurgy, calling on higher powers. Their capabilities rely on the Spirit axiom.
  • Game Master: The "leader" (although he spends most of the war offstage in the original game) 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 Guise: The Gaunt Man convinced the ravagons to become his servants by claiming to be the latest Irishanti prophet. He further solidified his claim by easily defeating one of their most powerful warlords with a single pimp slap.
  • GodNet Is Watching: In Eternity, every conceivable object (as well as a few inconceivable ones) in the Cyberpapacy is connected to the GodNet. Those surprisingly inexpensive cybereyes the Church bequeathed to you monitor your every action unless you have the connection hacked (which is a heretical offense). Be careful what you say, because the toaster might be listening in. The GodNet sees all and knows all.
  • 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-titled The Gaunt Man Returns.
  • In the Hood: Dr. Mobius is never seen without one.
  • Ki Manipulation: Pan-Pacifica's world laws make it possible for warriors to channel their internal energy into powerful fighting techniques.
  • Klingon Promotion: When Volkov had the Moscow maelstrom bridge nuked, this killed one of the seven Dukes of Tharkold. This in turn earned him the right to become the new Duke.
  • Large Ham: Both pulp heroes and villains of the Nile Empire are like this to some degree. Though none can quite match Dr. Mobius.
  • Living Gasbag: The stalengers of first edition's Living Land are floating, gas-filled beings with manipulative tentacles.
  • Lizard Folk: The edeinos of the Living Land, and the ravagons, a pterodactyl-like race who have become unwitting dupes of the Gaunt Man.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: In the Aysle adventure from the Day One collection, defeating Antenoch results in the temple collapsing.
  • Lured into a Trap: In Issue 10 of Infiniverse, there was a dispatch in which the heroes investigate a rumor that Dr. Mobius has created a time machine. Should they actually locate it, the "time machine" proves to be a disintegration chamber to dispose of unwitting heroes by their own hands.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet:
    • In the Cyberpapacy, rolling a Mishap on a magic skill runs the risk of accidentally summoning a demon.
    • In Tharkold, casting a spell attracts attention from any nearby technodemons.
  • Magitek: The weird science gadgets of the Nile Empire run on distilled Possibility Energy.
  • Metaplot:
    • Unusually for its time, the original game's metaplot was primarily driven by the original novel trilogy, and by the Infiniverse newsletters, which had things take place in response to player feedback.
    • Eternity takes a more traditional approach, with sourcebooks advancing the timeline. However, Infiniverse has come back in the form of a wiki.
  • Monster Protection Racket:
    • There are some who find the Kanawa Corporation's efficient handing of Infection outbreaks to be highly suspicious.
    • Malraux has a cadre of broken witches who he uses to summon demons, which are let loose in areas where the people are considered insufficiently pious.
  • Must Make Amends: A major reason why the elves in Eternity fight against the High Lords dates back to Uthorion's original invasion of Aysle. Faced with extermination, they made an ill-advised deal with the Gaunt Man. This action resulted in the Akashans being wiped out when their cosm was invaded by Orrorsh.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: The stelae used to anchor the Nippon Tech reality look like Bank of Japan automated teller machines. In Pan-Pacifica, they look like cell signal towers, and in the Nile Empire, they look like obelisks — just like every other one Dr. Mobius erects.
  • Nuke 'em: In Eternity, Russia tries nuking Tharkold's maelstrom bridge, rather than sabotaging it beforehand as in the original game. The result is the Blasted Land.
  • Phony Newscast: During the Kickstarter for Eternity, a Twitter account called Near Now News gave an in-universe recounting of the events from the opening weeks of the Possibility Wars through tweets. An archive of these tweets can be found here.
  • Psychic Powers: Available in the original game, albeit requiring a specific combination of axioms. Eternity simplifies things, making them dependent only on the Social axiom.
  • Puff of Logic: The fantasy world of Aysle in first edition, 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.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Averted. Edenios are not inherently better or worse than any other hunter-gatherer society, while ravagons, though savage, are Invading Refugees driven to that state by desperation.
  • Ring of Fire: Has a mechanic that generates a Ring of Fire that goes 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.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Eternity sample character Tworek is often mistaken for a male thanks to a combination of her rarely being out of her Dragon Armor and her stocky dwarvish build.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: For part of the original game's metaplot, the Gaunt Man was trapped in a reality storm.
  • Setting Update: Much of the then futuristic technology of the Cyberpapacy and Nippon Tech in original Torg can look positively quaint nowadays. Eternity takes into account the ways computer and Internet technology have developed since then.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Pan-Pacifica's name nods to Pacific Rim.
    • The origin story for Dr. Mobius where loyalists transported his mummy to an island in the Pacific likely alludes to the Tales of the Gold Monkey episode Trunk from the Past.
  • Significant Anagram: "Orrorsh" is an anagram of "horrors".
  • Social Darwinist:
    • Technodemons are a mixture of types 1, 5, and 6. The Law of Domination is the primary factor in determining the pecking order in a pride (with humans stuck at the bottom).
    • Ravagons are a mixture of types 2 and 3. The ability to wield Possibility Energy is considered paramount. As a result, Ord Ravagons never survive to adulthood, effectively making all Ravagons Stormers.
  • The Starscream: The technodemon Thrachen is this to the Gaunt Man. Jerzael is this to the Tharkold High Lord Kranod (she succeeds in the first edition's metaplot and is about to in Eternity).
  • 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 occupy. The borders between two reality zones are marked by "reality storms", leading to one of the game's slogans: "The Storm Has a Name."
  • Took a Level in Badass: The High Lords were all made equally competent in Eternity via this- - the Cyberpope is a lot more familiar and canny with his tech and the social effects it has, Ulthorion is still in control of his Darkness Device, and Ryuchi Kanawa has been retconned into being his sister's second in command.
  • Victorian Britain: The Victorians of Orrorsh are like this, only more so.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Both Jean Marleux and the Kanawa Corporation have fooled their territories into thinking they aren't invaders in Eternity. In reality, they made the very crisis they saved their zones from.
  • White Man's Burden: Played With in Orrorsh, which takes over our world's Indonesia in the original game. 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 Core 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.
  • Wretched Hive: The Cairo of the Nile Empire is dominated by gangsters and pulp villains, who operate openly and unhindered.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Ultimately, it's the Darkness Devices who call the shots. If a High Lord proves unable to harvest sufficient Possibility Energy, the Darkness Device will ditch that High Lord once a suitable replacement has been scouted. In original Torg, Baruk Kaah and Uthorion find this out the hard way.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: In Eternity, the Kanawa Corporation made one to provide a crisis to invoke a Villain with Good Publicity status. It's not that numerous (most people killed by it just die after going mad), but about a third trigger the gospog genome inside the Contagion and become contagious jiangshi.
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