|This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's relevant and/or popular on /tg/... or we just can't be bothered to delete it.|
What can change the nature of a man?
Planescape: Torment is a CRPG which is set, oddly enough, in the world of Planescape. The protagonist wakes up in a mortuary with a talking skull floating next to him, which proceeds to read the tattoos on his back and tell him what they instruct him to do.
The game is incredibly text-heavy (seriously, the script has like 800,000 words. The fucking Harry Potter series has only got 200,000 more than that with seven books), and most fights can be successfully talked out of with the exception of the occasional random encounter with street thugs and a couple of bosses. Put your points into intelligence, charisma, and wisdom to see all of the writing you can out of the game!
Despite poor sales (because, y'know, reading's hard), this game has since gained a massive cult following among roleplayers. A spiritual successor called Torment: Tides of Numenera, set in Monte Cook's tabletop setting of the same name, was recently announced on Kickstarter and proceeded to get shit done. It finally came out in early 2017, although quite a bit of the promised content is either missing outright or delayed until a free DLC.
An Enhanced Edition of the game, done by the same studio that did Enhanced Editions for Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, was revealed to be coming out on April 13 2017. Much shit promptly was thrown, with complaints about how the game would obviously be ruined by this. It's fine. Nice, even.
Our hero (or at least protagonist) is a heavily scarred amnesiac man who cannot remember what he is called; for this reason, he is informally known as "The Nameless One", because nobody else knows what his name is, either. What he does know is that he is immortal - in the sense that after dying, he regenerates and then comes back to life.
After waking up in the Mortuary, and successfully escaping before the Dustmen find out about his immortality and take steps to "correct" it (by hoiking him into the Elemental Plane of Fire), the Nameless One ventures forth into the fabled City of Doors itself, Sigil. From there he must gain allies and eventually find out about himself; particularly, why he is unable to stay dead. The game begins in the Hive portion of Sigil and later into the Clerk and Upper wards as well as into The Lady's Mazes, Carceri and the Hells themselves. All the while you get to enjoy thugs around every corner, demons, shadows that are trying to kill you (again) and the general... "charm" of Sigil's varied peoples.
After many side-quests through the kind of weirdness on a properly executed Sigil can provide, the Nameless One finally finds out that he was once a man who committed a sin so terrible that a single lifetime wouldn't be enough to redeem himself, and thusly he was doomed to the Lower Planes and the Blood War upon death. Desperate to avoid this fate, he sought to become immortal with the aid of a Night Hag named Ravel Puzzlewell...unfortunately, her experiment only partially worked, and his constant "resetting" upon death caused him to forget his original mission to seek redemption. Worse, not only was his immortality fueled by draining the life from random individuals across the multiverse, causing him to spawn vengeful shadows, but his torn-out mortality became a living entity in its own right and sought to torment him throughout eternity. Facing his mortality down in the Fortress of Regrets, the final dungeon of the game, the Nameless One either merges with his mortality and descends to the Lower Planes to begin paying for his crimes, or utterly annihilates the both of them.
"Women were the reason I became a monk - and, ah, the reason I switched back... "
A floating skull (male fighter) that greets you when you first wake up in the beginning of the game. Best kept around for amusement as who can resist constant lecherous remarks, the eyeing of your female cohorts in crime, or his sarcasm? Also not too bad for muscle back-up and has some ridiculously low AC, making him the best tank in the game. His insult abilities fuck enemy casters up the ass, which is especially gratifying if you've gotten tired of spending a million years fighting every two-bit sorcerer with a dozen protection spells in Baldur's Gate, and he upgrades them via hilarious sidequests that teach him new insults and offenses. Install that content restoration mod and watch him get in an argument with his own teeth.
"Quit starin' at my arse!"
A female tiefling rogue, the only party member of that class available, and a member of the indeps. Annah has a sharp tongue and some equally sharp punch daggers. She has a pale complexion, red hair, literal hot blood, a rather distinctive tail, and the Scottish-accented voice of 80's pop sensation Sheena Easton. She is a possible romantic interest in the game, and the person to talk to if you're allergic to effectiveness and want to class-change to thief. Pretty good at the job herself though. She starts out working for a minor villain, but sticks with you afterward because she's tsundere as hell.
"Endure. In enduring, grow strong."
A male githzerai zerth (fighter/mage) whom you may recruit in the Smoldering Corpse Bar within the Hive. Dak'kon is good for spell support or as a meat-shield should you happen to be a mage yourself, and he can help you swap out classes to either of his, so most playthroughs will include him one way or another, if only for utility's sake. He says little, but his quotes have almost single-handedly shaped the modern fluff around the githzerai, to the point where he has gone from an unusual aberration of a largely chaotic race to the iconic example of his kind in D&D, and a major reason for them gaining enough popularity to end up core by 4e. He's got an amazing personal quest too that practically stretches the length of the game, and his sword, made out of chaos bonded to metal, will reshape itself depending on how you resolve it.
"I’m afraid that if you were to remove that… I would be naked."
Female succubus cleric who is a Sensate. Grace has leathery wings, blonde hair, blue eyes, and runs The Brothel for Slaking Intellectual Lusts in the Clerk's Ward, which, rather than covering more base senses, trades in discussion and exercises of the mind. Also abstinent. Fudgestockings. The only cleric in the game, despite being agnostic, due to her certainty that there's some kinda bigger meaning out there, and probably the closest companion to being good-aligned, stated alignments aside. She can't actually use any weapons (apparently cold iron is everywhere, even when the weapons are made of wood) so she fights in melee with her flesh-splitting touch and her insta-killing kiss. Whether she's an alternative love-interest or not really depends on who you ask. Voiced by Jennifer Hale, who you've probably heard before already since she has literally done the most female voices in video games ever.
"I think, therefore I am... I think."
A rogue Modron fighter that has just a little chaos in him, cutting him off from the modron collective and buggering up his previously-functional programming. He has four arms, wields gear-spirit crossbows, and at times makes about as much sense as a certain 4e rules regarding level 15 rogue's special abilities. Good thing your character's an amateur programmer... Hilarious, and probably the best ranged buddy in the game, though the actual quest to recruit him is infamous for being a real motherfucker, hard to find, easy to miss even if you do, and annoying to complete even if you know everything you're supposed to do. Voiced by Homer Simpson.
"It is time to add some FIRE to the flames!"
A male human mage you can awaken later in the game (he can be found heating the Smoldering Corpse Bar early on, but needs something special to shock him out of his reverie - a bottle of infinite water from the cemetary-catacombs does the trick, if you can find it). This one-time arsonist happens to be on fire. Rather permanently, as his body now contains a gateway to the elemental plane of fire, after all the poor people he used to torture via acts of arson combined their money and magic to curse him with ironic punishment. He's not very talkative (and almost completely insane) but he provides great magical support, and he can give a mage Nameless One a lot of spells and restored memories if you've got the right mental stats (and willing to suffer some permanent HP losses).
"JUSTICE is not blind- for I am her eyes!"
Animated suit of armor who used to be a Mercykiller sent after one of the Nameless One's incarnations (most likely the Practical One). The Nameless One managed to fool the guy, and he died of hunger in the dungeons of Carceri. But his will to dispense justice was so strong that he couldn't stay dead, and animated his own armor suit. He's still down there, waiting for him. Really likes justice. Like, in THAT way. Tough as nails, and the brutal melee skull-cracker to Morte's invincible bone-shield. A fighter Nameless One can learn justice-fu from him, which actually works better the more Lawful Stupid he is. Try not to let him learn about your old selves' crimes, or he'll turn on you double-quick. Alternatively, if you've got the right stats, you can make him relax, let go, and move on, though doing so, obviously, makes it impossible to keep using him as a companion. He is also voiced by Keith David.
Ravel Puzzlewell: A Night Hag who was infamous for her brilliance and lethal eccentricity, who once bedeviled the planes and even tried to oust the Lady of Pain from Sigil, for which she was Mazed. She seems to be connected to the Nameless One's immortality, so searching for her is the core of the midpoint section of the game. She is the being who made the Nameless One immortal in the first place, after he charmed her into falling in love with him with his intelligence; her infamous riddle "What can change the nature of a man?" was given to her by him. After revealing their history together, she attacks the party in an effort to subdue the Nameless One and force him to remain in her Maze with her, together forever. When he defeats her, she feigns death, only for the Transcendent One to slay her seemingly permanently. However, she has "offshoots" existing throughout the planes, and the Nameless One can stabilize at least one of them, so it's possible her death isn't as final as it seems.
Coaxmetal: A golem smith built into a plane-traveling fortress-forge, Coaxmetal worships the cause of entropy and rejoices in the ultimate annihilation of all things. Fashioned from broken weapons taken from countless battlefields, Coaxmetal has the power to build weapons of incredible potency. If asked to prove its skills, Coaxmetal can even build a weapon that can be used to destroy the Nameless and Transcendent Ones, which can be used to acquire either of the endings for the game.
Trias the Betrayer: A fallen angel cast from the Upper Planes for pride, currently imprisoned within the gatetown of Curst, which links the Outlands to Carceri. He has information that the Nameless One needs.
Fjhull Forked-Tongue: An exiled devil cursed to be helpful and truthful at all times.
The Transcendent One: A mysterious entity who seems to know all about the Nameless One, and desire to see him in torment at all times. It's actually the Nameless One's mortality, having become a separate individual in its own right since being torn away by Ravel Puzzlewell. It resents its former host, but cannot destroy him without being destroyed itself.
- http://www.spellholdstudios.net/ie/pst-fixpack - Repairs nearly every bug in the game, as well as adding game tweaks and restoring unfinished content.
- http://www.rpgwatch.com/show/article?articleid=55&ref=0&id=208 - Part 1 of a retrospective interview with two of the game's developers.
- http://www.rpgwatch.com/show/article?articleid=56&ref=0&id=208 - Part 2 of the interview.
- http://www.rpgwatch.com/files/Files/00-0208/Torment_Vision_Statement_1997.pdf - The official guidelines to which the developers would refer regarding how to make the game.
- http://www.bootstrike.com/Torment/index.html - A useful site with creators interviews, wallpapers, music, and more.
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0187405/quotes - Many of the best quotes from the game, but lacks the omnipresent "Updated my journal".
In the official novelization of the game, which is only loosely based on its plot, supposedly having been based on an early draft, The Nameless One was once a human man who made a pact with the Baatezu, Fhjull Forked Tongue, (an NPC encountered late in the game), offering his service as a soldier in the Blood War in exchange for not destroying his home. He then sought a way to become immortal to avoid the Blood War entirely, and all of his most recent struggles are, in fact, the culmination of the machinations of Fhjull to finally claim The Nameless One's soul. In the book, The Nameless One's ability to recall memories from his incarnations (beginning with the one that wakes up in the Mortuary) is due to being dosed prior to awakening in the Mortuary with an elixir derived from the waters of the River Styx by Fhjull Forked-Tongue.
It's really not good. Much like the Baldur's Gate books, it was rushed out early to try to time in with the release. As such, a lot of details are missing, different, or just plain (plane?) wrong.
One enterprising fan took a comprehensive transcript of the game's dialogue, added a pragmatic minimum of narrative continuity (pretty much assuming a pacifist run for most of the game) and it turned out a LOT better.
Annah is a tiefling thief you can get in your party, and also a possible love interest