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Torg Eternity - Core Rules $24.99
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by ANDREY G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/04/2018 10:39:45

Well.

I was never a fan for original Torg. I discovered its existence three years ago, when my friend, who is a fan of obscure RPG systems (and Torg IS obscure here in Russia) and loved Nile, pointed it to me. I read fluff and never even tried to play (because system was... well, I read it in 2015!). So I have a position of... I don't know... fresh look? I mean, I have no expectations, and, when said friend bought this book (to try playing Nile module or two with our group), I looked on this product with fresh eye. Now I bought it myself because I'm planning to use it, and I can recommend it - if you want to play this kind of games, sure. Everywhere downthere I'm using "Torg" for Torg Eternity. When I'm speaking about old Torg, I'm saying so.

Setting. Setting is good. Not sure if it should be placed on the current development team wholly - as far as I can tell it's still an old Torg in a majority of points. It is written with broad strokes, but I'm ok with it. I don't need a core rulebook that would allow me to play it "right way" (whatever it is) - core ruleset should give, in system and in setting, basic guidelines and some kind of "catching the wind". In my opinion Torg Eternity Core Book do its job. I got a feeling how world here works and I have only one concrete question about it unanswered ("how many information Core Earth Ords without special access have about inner working of High Lords realm and Transformation?"), and one which is really unclear ("how do evil Stormers transcend?"). That's a very, very good result in my opinion. Now I need details; details, I believe, would be in sourcebooks, and I'll need to work some of them myself, and it's ok.

Setting is for the type. There are lizardmen invoking miracles, heroes with some sort of super powers, magic, demons, cyberware, vampires, werewolves, zombies, and even benevolent, trustworthy, effective international organization created by US government. I am the type. But if you don't like an idea of mixing different styles and realities, Torg isn't useful. If you want an eclectic setting where "throw everything into the pot", I would not recommend it either. Torg actually has concrete rules of engagment for different aestetics, and it don't feel like this rules should be violated easily.

And if benevolent, trustworthy, effective international organization created by US government is too much for you and your suspension of disbelieve, I think it can be removed. It's here to help new players to enter the fray, otherwise they could just stand and scratch their heads with "hell, what are we supposed to do now?..". If your party can manage it by themselves, well, lucky you. I'm not so lucky quite often, so having Delphi Council around allow me to give players quests when it's looks ok. By the way, in old Torg, I believe, characters were legally obliged to follow governmental orders; as I can see it's gone. Now DC are just guys who knows stuff and trying to herd cats... sorry, organize actions of multiple Storm Knights to prevent horrible defeat and make them somehow efficient.

Just keep in mind that Core Earth is not EXACTLY our world, so don't allow players to draw you in fruitless discussions about "how high is REAL WORLD Axioms are" or "which our Laws really should be" or "current Law set is too westerncentric" (yes, it is... probably... maybe... until you don't invoke things like classical chinese literature... ahm, sorry). Just use it as you see fit, and you'll be ok.

Rules. Rules are optimized for action game with high stakes, and they're doing their job, as far as I can tell. By awarding Possibilities GM really can regulate the pace, every Law having mechanical effect would allow to moderate changing genres (for instance, between cyberpank of France to dark fantasy of Aysle - to change it this way you'll need to cross the Channel) nicely. Of course, that's a thing master should be able to do himself; so people should not commit crimes - but world is inperfect. Rules should give instruments, they do so. In a way system looks like "old Torg meets Savage Worlds", and both system benefitted.

Rolls are simple enough. You roll d20 and get bonus (or malus) to your stat+skill. My character I created for test Nile play had her professional stat+skill sums at 10-11, with rolling 9+ that means she would achieve normal success. When I need more, I have Possibilities. Linear system of success is quite understandable (5 points beyond difficulty = level of success), and, what's more important, is quite rememberable.

Finite skill lists with specialized skills, broad enough, is quite adequate approach - to prevent a need to have eight rulebooks opened for every second to manage every character in play. Familiarity system and limiting number of skills worked good for Savage Worlds, and familiarity actually can be nicely achieved with Axioms. As our test rule we set a familiarity penalty at 1 per axiom difference - that means human with Fire Combat and Tech Axiom at 21 would fire AK-47 with 1 penalty, and same for Tech Axiom 23 - until he used to (try to shoot old AK-47 when you was learning shooting with M16A4, or drive 30s year car when you learned drive on modern car with electronic controls and AT, and you'll get why penalty came), and human with Tech Axiom 16 would have -6. Looks like it worked nicely.

Perks can be disbalanced (I didn't test it, but by sight it's quite possible), and I foresee a problem with new sourcebooks. In my experience, system that works on perks tends to give more intresting things in later sourcebooks (and it's quite understandable - in basic books you get basic things, for generation, and balance of system isn't tested hard yet), and that's making old characters obsolete - new perked character would be so more effective. Also moving specialized perks into sourcebooks makes situation uneven for different cosm characters, and that's kinda sad. I mean, imagine Orrorsh sourcebook published last one (I don't really know exact order in developers mind, but some book should be the last!). That means that Orrorsh characters would have their improved content so later then, let's say, Living Land one. If I'm to offer suggestions, I'd offer developers to publish "Clearance Compendiums" with perks for every cosm for some Clearance Level (level of experience). I believe something like that "Beta Clearance Primer for Players" supposed to be, but we'll see. I'm not sure that 8 pages for all cosms would be on par with special LL miracles and perks.

Combat modifiers and actions of note also can be put into one page, and actually quite logical and understandable. Tons of status effects changed into two, one which gives you -2/-4 on rolls (something hinders you), and second gives +2/+4 on rolls against you (something put you in the jeopardy). "Effect" skills (like Taunt, Trick or Maneuver) allow you to impose this statuses on enemies, against their defences, like attacks. Multiaction, multiattack and grapple (things I always check myself to see if combat system esoteric) also are streamlined and don't need to check rules every time player says "ok, I'm going to shoot full auto on this group of characters". Now came my primary objection with a system, and store method. Drama Deck.

Yes, I know, Drama Deck is what made old Torg special. Yes, I can see how it helps to control flow of battle and give players options without overwhelming. But.

Firstly, personal preference. I'm conciously against any kind of mechanic that can't be replaced with a notebook (paper, not computer) and dice. Card rules are build around reshuffling deck, playing cards on table and playing them from table. If I wanted to play MtG, I'd play MtG. And even if I found replacement for Drama Deck (and it looks nice and graceful - thanks Carl Matthews for Torg Eternity Playing Without Cards!), I can't find one for Cosm deck. And to play without Cosm deck I would need to rewrite quite a lot of Laws.

This, secondly, summon a convenience issue - subjective again. I'm living in Moscow, Russia. My players live in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Russia (625 km from me), Voronezh, Russia (464 km), Kiev, Ukraine (755 km) and Haifa, Israel (2,564 km). Let me say using a physical non-standard deck (Savage Worlds using poker deck, that is emulated by dozens of apps) is not convenient. Even using non-physical non-standard deck isn't convenient. That's why, if I had a deck, I'd rewrite it's descriptions into table and make players roll d10 when they, by rules, should got a card; then they would write it and play as they want. Virtual deck emulator.

And then third thing occured. I can't buy PDF deck. I can't find list of all texts written on Cosm cards, only some examples from previews. I can, theoretically, order a deck from USA or Europe (by Amazon, by friends or somehow else), then wait until it would be delivered (if it would - our mail service isn't exactly reliable), just to rewrite texts by hand - to be able to play a game as it written.

So, I urge developer team. Please consider including card texts into Core Book (because it IS part of rules you need to play, and Core Book advertising like "include all the rules and setting information you need to create characters and play the game". Or at least sell (and better just publish!) non-formatted, non-illustrated list of EFFECTS cards have, not cards itself.

In a nutshell, it's good game with a glimpses of outstanding, and it would get 5 stars from me if problem with cards were solvable for me. Before it I'd give it 4 and recomendation - if you like games with a lot of action about worlds with different rules meet each other.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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