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Catstacker

Torg Resurrection

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(It has no True Death)

 

Since Wraith's Open d6 Resurrection truly revived interest in making Open d6 a reality, I'm calling all the Torg devotees out of lurker mode to do the same for Torg 2. Both of you!;) If we want Torg to live, we'll have to reassemble the parts of the old corpse and hit it with lightning. On this thread, let's discuss changes to the Torg/MB system with an aim of taking the rough edges off your house rules and making them fun and easy for everyone. We won't discuss the background/meta/cosms for Torg, since these are subject to personal tastes and pop up in new threads periodically anyway.

 

I'll post some topics headings here in this starter, and I'll edit it to update the forerunning issues as (if) the discussion progresses. So that my opinion doesn't carry a greater weight than anyone else's, I'm giving all tie-breaking votes and the voice of reason to the guru, Kansas Jim. Try to break up your posts into topics so that the discussion can wander and yet stay coherent all in one thread.

 

Attributes and Skills

Character Creation

Axioms

Magic/Miracles/Powers/Psionics/Martial Arts

Reality

d20 vs d6

Damage

The Drama Deck

Rules/Information that was missing in the R&E

(anything else)

 

And since the most fruitful Torg 2 discussion happened way back in the day, when men were men and their blood ran hot, I think that this discussion should be willing to be impolite if necessary. I'm saying we should indulge in personal attacks or break the rules of conduct, but I think that the best creation comes from passion, and the best system can survive all criticism.

Edited by Catstacker

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Here I go... In another thread recently, Skeloric summed up a lot of the old ideas for Torg 2, in which he was wrong that there had been a consensus that having a Psychic axiom was a good idea. I've never seen the need or usefulness of having a fifth axiom, because I've always found keeping track of four axioms among all the characters and across mixed realities to take all my attention already. Most of the published cosms don't have any expression of Psychic powers, so they would just be wasting space and ink by adding another axiom to their descriptions. It'd be like how half the cosms have effectively the same Social axiom, and so it's effectively ignored. I'm halfway to recommending the axe for the Social axiom, but I think that's necessary for making players really RP the cosm they're in, and it's unique to Torg. The Social axiom needs more definition. I can't say the same for Psionics, which are really just magic without the spell components, chanting, or finger-wiggling (which few players bother with anyway.) And backlash does mental damage; it's all there. If you want to have a psychic character, specialize in a few skills and AKs and make up some "psionic" spells.

 

The only need for having separate Psionics rules, other than for more rules to fill out the Space Gods Sourcebook, is to give superpowers to Core Earthers. That's a weakness of Core Earth, not a justification for multiplying the axiom set by 25%.

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A question that I think needs to be addressed before diving into the nitty-gritty details is the overall goal of the discussion - streamlining and patching up the original system with people's ideas ("house rules") or starting over with something that some people may find more playable ("d20 vs d6"), because you can't really do both. As an old Torg grognard I have a lot more invested in doing the former but I recognize that today's young whippersnappers may find the old system too clunky, crunchy and/or complicated and yearn for something else to use with the setting material.

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Probably best that the fate of Torg is not in my hands. I'd almost certainly make it D6 and replace -- not simply revise -- most of the cosms.

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Due to a new job I will not have much time to contribute but am willing to do the best I can.

 

D20 vs D6: The question is what are the essentials of Torg that make it unique. If it is only the setting then there would be no harm in jumping on the Open D6 bandwagon and translating it completely into D6. This would have benefits for both systems. As Open D6 allows for adaption on any setting, there could be an Open D6 Torg rules set in which all the things we love about Torg are incorporated (especially Drama Deck, Value Chart and Poss).

 

Magic/Miracles/Powers/Psionics/(added)Martial Arts: I have always advocated putting them into a unified form that would prinicipially allow for building on effect and translating it into the different effect ways. I.e. an effect that allows for boosting strength: built with one method but as a spell it has backlash and needs props, as a miracle it needs something else (I would advocate something like devotion points), in powers it needs the expenditure of Poss, in Martial Arts it is a trained skill. So you have one mathematical rule how to build effects but different game rules how to use them in the different ways. This would also allow for one unified list and eases the bookkeeping.

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Kansas Jim brings up a good question, to which I don't have a good answer. The intent of this thread is to explore and debate any ideas to improve the Torg system with the aim of making it fresh and better. I assume that anyone that thinks that Torg is already perfect is playing the game instead of looking for alternatives here, but if they want to participate by arguing against any changes suggested, they're welcome. I don't think that Torg is perfect, which is why I started this thread.

 

Personally, I prefer the Torg system over d6, because it's faster to roll one die instead of a handful of dice and then counting. The bonus chart is pretty easy to know once you get used to it, and pretty easy to estimate if you aren't. Also, it offers a scale of possible outcomes regardless of the base power level which offers a more heroic feel, while with d6 rolls become more likely as your power level increases, which is more realistic. But I remember running Star Wars where a gun bunny could eliminate a squad of Stormtroopers in one round before the other players could do anything, and that's not fun.

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I love Torg though I don't have the chance to play it right now. I think it is the best system I know but from the start I felt it could be improved.

 

For one the heroes always seemed to be too good against NPCs. The only way to prevent this was to make the NPCs superhuman. The one on many chart does not really work. This is just the same as you described with the gun bunny in Star Wars. One PC with a Tommy Gun and some Poss can take out a whole squad of Nile Empire Shocktroopers with one OoM action. So I ruled out using Poss in OoM. This way OoM is still an option but without too climax-destroying consequences.

 

Also, buying off damage makes PCs too tough. They have nothing to fear as long as they have Poss to burn. My house rule for this problem was: first wound in one go may never be bought off, all else is not bought off but changed into Shock. This leads to heroes that go unconscious instead of dying, this is much more cinematic in my opinion.

 

And, I never got the hang of speed pushes, so I don't use them. I use the drama deck instead.

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I guess I have to side with Kansas Jim, I'd rather preserve and repair the current TORG system rather than scuttle it and start fresh.

But in any event, i just have no real interest anymore.

I can't RUN a game and there is nobody in over 100 miles other than myself with even a passing interest in the game.

The only remaining hope is to get new fans by their buying the game off of a store shelf and that simply will NEVER happen.

as such, I have to pretty much abandon TORG for those games I either can RUN or can find to play in.

All of which means that I have very little interest left beyond a bit of "wannabe-GM/player" style mental masturbation, all about the game I'd be in if ever it were possible.

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I can't RUN a game and there is nobody in over 100 miles other than myself with even a passing interest in the game.

 

Run it online here, in the chat room.

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For one the heroes always seemed to be too good against NPCs. The only way to prevent this was to make the NPCs superhuman. The one on many chart does not really work. This is just the same as you described with the gun bunny in Star Wars. One PC with a Tommy Gun and some Poss can take out a whole squad of Nile Empire Shocktroopers with one OoM action. So I ruled out using Poss in OoM. This way OoM is still an option but without too climax-destroying consequences.

 

Also, buying off damage makes PCs too tough. They have nothing to fear as long as they have Poss to burn. My house rule for this problem was: first wound in one go may never be bought off, all else is not bought off but changed into Shock. This leads to heroes that go unconscious instead of dying, this is much more cinematic in my opinion.

 

P-rated characters should be superhuman compared to Ords, but I think that the different columns on the Combat Results Table makes Ords too easy to kill. Grunts were supposed to be eliminated by the handful, but there are some dramatic-scene monsters that turn out to be too soft because of one fanastic set of rolls, and no possibilities to save them. I disagree that buying off damage makes PCs too tough, because P-rated villains can do it too. You can also have them counter the players' wound-reducing possibilities with their own, though I find that this makes the players hate you. Or you can send them against an Orrorshan horror, who can mark them for death. The players have nothing to fear but the Power of Fear itself.

 

Another way to keep the players from buying off all their damage is to hit them with a lot of low-damage results. They don't usually want to waste a possibilitiy to eliminate only a K2 result, and so they just take the damage, and eventually that shock damage adds up to a comfortable unconsciousness. A lot of GMs don't like the K/O damage tracking, because it adds another thing to keep track of, but it does make avoiding a knockout harder. I'd like to see a Combat Results chart that includes even more effects that just stun and wounds. I've never found knockdowns to be a big deal, and some weapons wouldn't produce a knockdown result realisticly, like a flamethrower. But that flamethrower would realistically set the person hit on fire, and I don't know if Torg includes a mechanism for critical effects like this.

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I have a House Rules document that I've been slowly assembling over the last few years and am midway through a rewrite of most of the major subsystems (notablygeneral Combat, Magic, Psionics, and Martial Arts). I've found, by and large, that my players don't like crunchy game systems so I've been trying my best to streamline and homogenise the game for them as best as possible. I realise that this may not be to the liking of some but I'm happy to share what I have so far with any of you who may be interested. It also bears mention that I've drawn heavily on the excellent work of people like Kansas Jim, Apeiros, and others to make my game run more smoothly...all my work is, alas, more than a little derivative.

 

Mox

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Well, with the impending new ownership of TORG we can now ponder the form in which the TORG RESURRECTION might come to pass.

How much might change?

How much might stay the same?

How much of what has been bandied about as "House Rules" might get included -- if any?

Unsubstantiated bouts of pointless speculation may now begin!!!!!

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I'm going to focus on what I'd like to see, because we know nothing about the developers who will be doing the work at the moment.

 

How much might change?

The damage system needs an overhaul, as many have mentioned. I can make suggestions, but the basic gist is that while the current damage system is good, it has some holes that need to be filled, and that may take a change in philosophy. It would be best if bonus to damage could be based on degree of success in the attack roll, rather than the rolled bonus. The base damage could be based on the degree of success, with a bonus based on the weapon (to a maximum based on strength for melee weapons). Or, you could use the weapon bonus only to negate the effects of armor and toughness. In fact, you might not need toughness at all.

Something tells me that the reality system could be improved. Disconnection and re-connection can be very abstract and hard to understand at times.

Character creation will change. The character creation rules are short and sweet, but they're also vague.

The Speed and Power Push tables may change. They are great, really, but it would be nice if they could be a little more straightforward.

 

How much might stay the same?

There are a lot of things about the rules system that I love, and wouldn't want to see go. These include:

The semi-logarithmic scale for all values. That works beautifully.

I like the roll of a single d20 for any action, even multiple simultaneous actions. It works. You could change over to MasterBook's 2d10, I suppose, but a d20 has a certain flair. Plus I have an original blue and red Torg d20 I like using...

 

How much of what has been bandied about as "House Rules" might get included -- if any?

Separate possibilities and experience points. Forcing a player to balance survival with advancement is a little unfair, and doesn't really add anything. That's a pretty easily implemented rule, too.

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I'm going to focus on what I'd like to see, because we know nothing about the developers who will be doing the work at the moment.

I hope the new developers are watching this, as discussions of this type will give them a feel for what their potential customers are looking for. I will be approaching this from the viewpoint of someone who has examined one portion of the rules in great detail, and as a result I have adapted a few changes in my game to accommodate them better.

 

How much might change?

The damage system needs an overhaul, as many have mentioned. I can make suggestions, but the basic gist is that while the current damage system is good, it has some holes that need to be filled, and that may take a change in philosophy. It would be best if bonus to damage could be based on degree of success in the attack roll, rather than the rolled bonus. The base damage could be based on the degree of success, with a bonus based on the weapon (to a maximum based on strength for melee weapons). Or, you could use the weapon bonus only to negate the effects of armor and toughness. In fact, you might not need toughness at all.

Yes, the damage needs an overhaul, but none of the suggestions here are any better than the original. Take the first suggestion of basing the bonus to damage on the degree of success as opposed to the rolled bonus. This was done in Masterbook (WEG's attempt at making the Torg system into a universal game system like GURPS) and it has two basic problems. The first is that weapons no longer deal glancing blows that are less lethal than the base damage. The second is that melee weapon skill increases the damage just as much as Strength does, without a compensating mechanism for increasing armor/toughness.

 

This issue was resolved effectively by Jasyn Jones with his Skill-Based Combat rules found here. This solves the "problem" of high-skilled defenders being killed on the one hit that actually gets through while also allowing high-skilled attackers to have more chances for increased damage than simply declaring vital blows.

 

Something tells me that the reality system could be improved. Disconnection and re-connection can be very abstract and hard to understand at times.

Disconnection, transformation, and reconnection are easier to understand if you have been through them. :) Disconnection has been discussed on Smooge's Torg mailing list, and an interesting take on it has been developed there. (Simply put, disconnection under this new system doesn't change anything about you directly, but causes any contradictory tool you use while disconnected to be subjected to an increased likelihood of natural decay. So if you are disconnected and wearing armor, it doesn't change its value, or morph into an appropriate equivalent; it simply is subject to every natural force that would cause it to break. "Dang, that arrow separated the armpiece and caused it to fall off! Here comes the next one...<spong!> the left leg is now separated off the armor. Your turn..."

 

As for reconnection, the current system is based off the difference in cosms: how much a member of one reality needs to reclaim when disconnected into another reality. The system I use now is tool-based: how much the tool has offended the reality of both the character using it and the reality in which it was used.

 

Character creation will change. The character creation rules are short and sweet, but they're also vague.

Yes, and how much it will change is dependent on how much the new developers want to incorporate role-playing tags into the creation process (as opposed to having the GM enforce them).

 

The Speed and Power Push tables may change. They are great, really, but it would be nice if they could be a little more straightforward.

The overall values are quite straightforward. The shock damage associated with them is a bit more wonky, and may or may not require some tweaks.

 

How much might stay the same?

There are a lot of things about the rules system that I love, and wouldn't want to see go. These include:

The semi-logarithmic scale for all values. That works beautifully.

I see the logarithmic scale as the essence of Torg. It is a full logarithmic scale, with a base of the fifth root of 10. True, it rounds the values to nearby "round numbers", but the scale is good enough that I was able to solve several college math problems (including one on calculating the surface temperature of the sun) based on it.

 

I like the roll of a single d20 for any action, even multiple simultaneous actions. It works. You could change over to MasterBook's 2d10, I suppose, but a d20 has a certain flair. Plus I have an original blue and red Torg d20 I like using...

That is a good thing that I would like to see as well.

 

How much of what has been bandied about as "House Rules" might get included -- if any?

I am sure that some of what are currently House Rules will get put in. It's the nature of modifying a system. Exactly which ones are a matter of taste. I'll deal with the one you mentioned below. I have talked about a few others above. A few others would be nice, IMO. I wouldn't mind seeing rules for some of the things referenced in Torg but never actually implemented (wishes, designing engineering spells, etc.)

 

Separate possibilities and experience points. Forcing a player to balance survival with advancement is a little unfair, and doesn't really add anything. That's a pretty easily implemented rule, too.

It's easy, but not everyone would agree with your assessment about balancing survival with advancement being unfair. I will admit it's a little strange watching someone try to save up dozens of Possibilities just to increase a single point of Dexterity, but the net effect is no worse than that of the person who would save experience to the same effect, instead of buying skill points that would aid the adventure. It doesn't matter to me, as I can adjust either way.

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Rabbitball,

 

Seems like we agree on more things than we disagree on.

 

I like Jasyn Jones' skill-based combat rules, but they seem kind of clunky in practice. That may just be due to not having used them a lot. I certainly think that skill should be important in a system that is as action-oriented in theme as Torg's system. I haven't played around with it, but I have considered to going with a system that just reads the result points from the attack on the power push chart to determine a bonus to damage, rather than using the rolled bonus. That is kind of complicated, though; you have to do math at least twice and consult two charts. I'm still thinking of how to condense the process. In concept it would give a result that would fit with the tone of the game. It does still have the flaw of not showing glancing blows, though.

Edited by monarch71

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You know, on the other hand, a glancing blow could be handled pretty effectively as just having the same effect every time regardless of damage rating or toughness/armor. If you have a hit with 0 result points, you get a glancing blow. No wounds, no shock, no K/O, but you did succeed and can collect a card if attack is an approved action.

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That effect already applies. On page 118 of Torg R&E, under Approved Actions: "An attack is considered successful if it hits, even if it does not cause any damage." And 0 result points also cause 1 point of shock damage on the Combat Results Table. I think that's about as much as a glancing blow deserves, since Torg is a cinematic game, and usually in movies characters shrug off glancing blows (sometimes dozens of them in h2h combat) without any later consequences.

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Regarding the One on Many situation, I've found that the simplest solution is to have each action be a separate roll. Want to use your AK-47 on Full-auto to try to take out a roomful of shocktroopers? Fine. Roll for each one separately, increasing the TOU and Difficulty as you go. Meanwhile, each roll benefits from Pssibilities and Cardplay separately.

 

I'd also like to speak up for splitting Dexterity into Dexterity and Agility. Currently, Dexterity has a massive number of highly useful skills grouped under it. Also, I like the idea of separating generally body control from hand-eye coordination (specifically Dodge and Fire Combat).

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I also like the idea of splitting the DEX skills between Dexterity and Agility, and also Hellsreach's idea of lumping STR and TOU into a single attribute called Physique. It spreads the skills around, and encourages players to make buff melee characters when the game favours building up your fire combat skill instead.

 

And I think that Reality should become an attribute instead of a skill, and then various reality abilities and group powers could be developed as skills under that attribute. New stormers would have to learn how to make storms, reconnect, tap eShards, make talismans, find stelae, etc, and that enhances roleplaying the unique world of Torg. Also it would make the players who want to develop their reality powers more balanced against the players who would rather develop their characters along other lines, or even characters that are Ords.

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I also like the idea of splitting the DEX skills between Dexterity and Agility, and also Hellsreach's idea of lumping STR and TOU into a single attribute called Physique. It spreads the skills around, and encourages players to make buff melee characters when the game favours building up your fire combat skill instead.

 

And I think that Reality should become an attribute instead of a skill, and then various reality abilities and group powers could be developed as skills under that attribute. New stormers would have to learn how to make storms, reconnect, tap eShards, make talismans, find stelae, etc, and that enhances roleplaying the unique world of Torg. Also it would make the players who want to develop their reality powers more balanced against the players who would rather develop their characters along other lines, or even characters that are Ords.

I wasn't always so thrilled with the Dex/Agl split, but it has been growing on me.

Combining Str/Tou seemed almost anticlimactic in that most tough folks in films are strong as well, making any distinction between them somewhat ridiculous.

Reality as an Attribute though... I can see it happening but I think it better if it were truly conflated into Spirit, making Spirit also the "Reality Attribute" rather than breaking them up.

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The difference I see between Spirit and Reality is a passive vs. active split how the other attributes are often arranged. Spirit is an innate quality, best exemplified by the faithful believers who say "I don't know why it is, but I believe in it." Even animals can have Spirit, and it's associated skills like Intimidation. Reality is the reflective mind trying to measure that belief, and finding reassurance when previously observed axioms of the world hold true. Not everyone pauses to consider why the world is the way that it is, but it helps when mundane reality takes a left turn into calamity, like when another reality invades.

 

Here's a way of showing the adjusted attributes arranged into passive and active columns.

(Passive - Active - Axiom)

Agility - Dexterity - Tech

Physique - Charisma - Social

Perception - Mind - Magic

Spirit - Reality - Spirit

 

Though sometimes I wish that the Spirit attribute had a different name, to help distinguish it from the axiom.

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Though sometimes I wish that the Spirit attribute had a different name, to help distinguish it from the axiom.

In Masterbook they changed the attribute's name to Confidence.

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(Psi axiom)

 

I've never seen the need or usefulness of having a fifth axiom…

 

Most of the published cosms don't have any expression of Psychic powers, so they would just be wasting space and ink...

I have no doubt that you are sincere in this belief, but I would like to suggest something you might not have considered:

 

Increased resources/new tools can always be utilized.

 

but

 

Often we don't see how until after we've already acquired the resource.

 

I've had this experience many times, most recently with getting a new computer. I didn't think I needed one; my old computer ran everything I wanted. After I got it, I found it enabled me to do things I'd never considered, like convert DVD's. On my old machine, it would take 30 hours and lock it up the whole time. On the new one, it's three hours, and I can do plenty of other stuff at the same time. And having my library available to watch on TV, my computer, an iPod, etc. is useful and entertaining.

 

I only saw how I could use the new resources after I got them.

 

In the same vein, you might see how a Psi axiom is useful, after it's detailed and added.

 

I was convinced of the need for one a long time ago, but even I've been surprised by how useful it is. When revising old cosms, or creating new ones, I can see many little ways a Psi axiom enhances the settings (in ways both large and small).

 

One example:

 

Brittania Mechanika, a steampunk cosm. Victorian psychic mysticism, including crystals and Atlantis, is a great addition, one I didn't think about until after I had a Psi axiom.

 

I will stipulate that there are no such uses now. That doesn't mean there can't be.

 

YMMV, IMHO.

Edited by Apieros

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Realize also that psychic powers are all over the place in fiction.

I can hold up several "modern day" places shows in which psychic powers range from "danger sense" and perhaps a trace of "empathy" all the way up to scenes in the Anime Akira which eventually reach the levels of causing a multi-megaton nuclear detonation to wipe out most of Tokyo but it only was the result of psychic powers.

 

< gr, my nemesis! how I hate the fact that I was finally convinced about the psychic axiom :fight::P;) >

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