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 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Supposedly there were more such 'sub-cosms' but they were never detailed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: 3327/Ryuchi Kanawa. Hands this role off to his Iron Lady Mad Scientist sister Reiko in Eternity.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fun with Acronyms: TORG stands for "The/That Other Roleplaying Game". Also, the Gaunt Man.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 Tharkhold. This in turn earned him the right to become the new Duke.
  • Lizard Folk: The edeinos of the Living Land, and the ravagons, a pterodactyl-like race who have become unwitting dupes of the Gaunt Man.
  • Living Gasbag: The stalengers of first edition's Living Land are floating, gas-filled beings with manipulative tentacles.
  • 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.
  • Monster Protection Racket: It's not surprising that Kanawa's security forces are really good at handling the Contagion, since they're responsible for its existence in the first place.
  • 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 makes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: Pan-Pacifica's name nods to Pacific Rim.
  • Significant Anagram: "Orrorsh" is an anagram of "horrors".
  • Social Darwinist: Ravagon culture is based around this, with the result that all Ravagons are 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.
  • 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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