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Torg! (What is essential?)

 
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:06 pm    Post subject: Torg! (What is essential?) Reply with quote

A question for the Torg fans out there (and especially Svend, Morgue and Mash, but everyone's welcome).

I'm thinking about creating a hack of Mouse Guard for Torg. What do you consider to be the essential mechanics and concepts to have in there to make it feel like a game of Torg?

I don't have the rules on me, but the Reality skill and Possibility energy seem important. The idea of Glory, less so.

What do you think?
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morgue



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Connecting and disconnecting from reality axioms is important.

I agree that Glory isn't important, at least in my view of Torg.

Hmm.
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hix



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remind me about what connecting and disconnecting from reality axioms involves?
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Svend



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would you want to have something equivalent/analogous to the cards? I mean, a random element that needs to be incorporated into the conflict, which the players can also use?
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Luke
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Torg! (What is essential?) Reply with quote

hix wrote:
I'm thinking about creating a hack of Mouse Guard for Torg. What do you consider to be the essential mechanics and concepts to have in there to make it feel like a game of Torg?


What would you replace Nature with?
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hix



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My theory is to have a separate Nature for each reality. For instance, and this is just a work-in-progress example:

Nature (Core Earth): Reasoning, Following Routines, Grieving

Nature (Nile Empire): Inventing, Betraying, Piloting

Stuff like that.

Luke (the Burning Wheel guy) has talked about Nature acting AGAINST your heroic needs. A Mouse has a Nature of Foraging, Hiding, Escaping, for instance. That's sort of what I'm trying to get at here.
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hix



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Svend, the cards were never a huge part of my Torg experience. How do you feel about them?

... oh, and do the cards primarily describe mechanical effects, or are they more about adding colour to a scene/conflict?
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Mashugenah
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is your objective here? Are we discussing the shoe-horning of Mouse Guard into TORG (or vice versa), or are we creating criteria against which any possible system could be measured for our TORGy needs? I haven't read Mouse Guard, and am not terribly keen to - sounds a bit crunchier than I like. Very interested though in what you could do to improve on the TORG experience from a system design POV generally.

I'd start by asking a couple of fundamentals:
1. What is TORG about?
2. What part of this does the current system not achieve?

Because if we're not sure what the answer to 1 is, we'll never really be able to judge whether a system will do it. And if we're not clear on 2, we might as well stick with the core mechanics presented in the box.

So, Alasdair, I ask myself, what is TORG all about?

TORG is about questioning the fundamental reality we live in by placing it in direct opposition to other realities.

TORG is about the people who define what the world can and should be.

TORG is about making choices - essentially value-judgements about what life should be like.

TORG is about seeing evil, and kicking its ass. There's a definite element of heroism in the old-fashioned ass-kicking line.

TORG is the game of possibilities.

The idealized, the archetypal, game of TORG is about a group of Earth-based humans making the decision to continue to live in houses, drive cars, watch TV - to fight for the life we all know. They take up arms against enemies that don't obey the same physical laws as we do - and they make them behave on our terms.

What does the current system not do?

The key defining quality of a TORG character is that they are endowed with "Possibilities". Their essential quality is that when the new reality is overlaid, that they retain their original world view - they are aware that reality has changed and recall the previous one.

This is something rather vaguely reflected in the game system via "Possibilities" - and certain mechanical benefits like a less severe damage table. Possibilities unfortunately also double as experience points, making them a tricky entity to manage.

The action-resolution system is generally a dog in TORG. Skills are totally swamped by attributes, and the non-linear/exponential result track means you need to refer to a table for almost every single die roll in the game, which is not ideal.

What would be my system wish-list qualities?

I'd like a method of tracking some level of slide in a character's personal axioms - the connected/disconnected paradigm doesn't service the full range of options. What happens when the Storm Knights sacrifice their world few for expedience? Storm Knights have "possibilities" because they were destined to shape the world around them.

I'd like the Storm Knights to be able to impose their reality on overlaid areas in some limited way - mobile hard points essentially. Can you shoot a magic ray at a person whose personal reality denies such things exist?

I think that the game mechanics needn't dwell on task resolution, but should be conflict focused. The question in some way is not "can I shoot you with this gun" but "does this gun even work on you?" It needs to be able to segue between both to some extent.

The system must be able to handle magic, pulp gadgets, cyberware/high-tech, and social/psychological pressures. (Corresponding to the "four" axioms: Magic/Spirit, Science and Social)

What system paradigms are already around and could be adopted?

Mage: the Ascension, and more specifically it's prequel game Mage:The Sorcerer's Crusade deal with these kinds of concepts on a mortal-person scale.

Unknown Armies also touches on these concepts, and their psychological condition monitor just seems like it should have some applicability.

The "Identities" and "Qualities" that slide between alternates in A Dirty World seem like they have the right form and function for modelling axiomatic changes in the character.

Other "action" focused systems like D6 and Buffy already have a task-resolution system geared towards a more cinematic style and provide for limits-of-human-achievement type characters. D6 additionally has multi-genre support.

Dogs in the Vineyard and a slew of successor games better encapsulate a characters' defining moral/psychological profile than TORG did.

Nobilis and Aria have some useful concepts for dealing with the nature of realities, though they are too impenetrably written and remote in time for me to summon details to my mind.

Summarizing

TORG works on two levels

1 - The level of mundane action. Fighting, shooting, surviving a hostile world

2 - The level of ideas, where Storm Knights draw a line in the sand and say "this is what it means to be alive, this is how the world works" in opposition to the Darkness Devices and their masters.
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Mashugenah
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hix wrote:
Remind me about what connecting and disconnecting from reality axioms involves?


Basically when you encounter things that don't conform to your axioms, you run the risk of switching over to their axioms. To re-connect to your own reality, you need to leave the imposed reality and spend a possibility. It's pretty bland in my increasingly distant memory of actually running this game (1997 baby!)
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's all good stuff, Mash.

I'm time-limited today, so I'll take this in pieces. First up, though, this is what attracts me to the game:

Quote:
TORG is about seeing evil, and kicking its ass. There's a definite element of heroism in the old-fashioned ass-kicking line.

The idealized, the archetypal, game of TORG is about a group of Earth-based humans making the decision to continue to live in houses, drive cars, watch TV - to fight for the life we all know. They take up arms against enemies that don't obey the same physical laws as we do ...


Or rather, that's what I had fun with when I played Torg in the mid-90s. There are other aspects (for instance, value judgements and impossible moral binds) that my group didn't explore at all. I'd like to, but I also think that a lot of that is inherent to the setting(s) and situation rather than coming out of the mechanics.

Mouse Guard was designed with the intention that it'd be hacked into different settings. The two things that I think make it relevant to Torg are:

1. It's got a clear team structure - Mouse Guard patrols map onto Storm Knight units - that are up against impossible odds

2. The Nature stat (I suspect) can be used to represent Possibility Energy almost as is.

Your questions, though, are great. I'll think on what Torg is about. My answer to your second question is that the Torg rules are too frakking complicated - I couldn't run them, I think (or rather, I wouldn't want to put in the effort to learn them; for some reason I haven't thought too hard on yet, I'd much rather put in the effort of hacking the MG rules).

There are a couple of other systems that might do the job of representing badass PCs in a world of competing realities: Heroquest, Fate / Spirit of the Century, Solar System / Shadow of Yesterday.

Gotta go. More later.
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Mashugenah
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
There are other aspects (for instance, value judgements and impossible moral binds) that my group didn't explore at all.


The main place it came up for my players was when they realized that destroying a Stelae does 2 things

1. Removes the overlying reality in that area
2. Kills every person who'd switched over to the new reality

If your group is successful, they quickly become greater mass-killers than the High Lords they replace. That's some pretty harsh morality right there, that you can't really ignore.

If your group never gets that successful, then they're always going to be fighting the High Lords on the High Lords' terms, and then it's a game of attrition, and there are more Gospog than Storm Knights.
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Mashugenah
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It's got a clear team structure


This was never part of my TORG experience. My players, as the only people they knew who fully remembered the old NY before the Dinosaurs came, naturally had to work together or perish singly... but they weren't an adventuring "party" at all.

The game is written assuming that classic structure imposed on characters... but is it really important?
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mash, I think the points you're raising are good but they seem off-topic for this thread. Hopefully I'll have an opportunity tomorrow to summarise what we've got so far, and then we can go onto the question of 'What is Torg about?'

Sound good?
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hix



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

... Actually, talking about whether the team structure is essential to Torg as a concept is totally on-topic.

For me, it's about a group of people thrown together and having to deal with a bad situation. If they stick together, they might survive or triumph; if they splinter, it's pretty likely things will go badly for them.

Your comment about 'they're the only ones who fully remember NYC before the dinosaurs' rings very true for me.
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Mashugenah
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hix, you do what you've gotta do to get what you need from this conversation.

My general approach is quite cartesian - break things into the components, simplify/correlate/synthesize, reassemble. I've tried to lay out the bits I see in the TORG experience - if you can make progress on the next bit that's awesome.
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