Torg was developed by Greg Gorden and published by West End Games. It is a game set in a multi-dimensional universe in which the various “Realities,” or “cosms” (dimensions, universes), are at war. Specifically, modern day Earth has been invaded by no less than seven alternate realities. The various cosms battle over the most precious resource in existence: “Possibility energy.” Possibility energy allows the possessor to alter and expand the limits of reality and to shape it to his will. Using various rituals and arcane artifacts, a knowledgeable person can tap into the possibility energy of another world and draw it to himself through an inter-dimensional vortex. The combined energy of a newly discovered, untapped world such as Earth is enough to elevate oneself to the status of a god. Anyone gaining this level of power earns the title of Torg. One being aspiring to do so, known as The Gaunt Man, has discovered Earth’s potential and has bent all of his energies on sucking the Possibilities out of Earth to become Torg.
Torg is designed to support cinematic play in realities of various magical, spiritual, social, and technological levels. Earth’s reality has been fractured by the intrusion of the invaders’ realities. So, some portions of the planet have devolved to pre-historic technology levels, other areas have experienced an infusion of magic that surpasses modern technology in effectiveness, and in yet others technology achieves the level of science fiction.
Character generation starts with selecting a template from a fairly broad list of character archetypes. These are then customized by the player for his own use by selecting a number of additional skills and spending skill points (“Adds”) on them. No more than three points can be spent on any one skill. Each template is required to have one signature skill (“Tag Skill”) which must begin with three Adds.
Torg characters have seven primary attributes of “Dexterity,” “Strength,” “Toughness,” “Perception,” “Mind,” “Charisma,” and “Spirit.” In order to deal with the extremely wide ranges of capabilities inherent in the different genres the game attempts to handle, the attribute values are gauged on a logarithmic rather than a linear scale. The scale they chose has an attribute’s capability increase by a factor of 10 for every 5 point increase. So, a character with a Strength of 11 can lift ten times the weight as a character with a Strength of 6. The normal Earth maximum on their scale for all attributes is a value of 13. Characters also have four “Axiomatic” attributes of Magical, Spiritual, Social, and Technology. These are fixed to equal the values of the reality from which the character originates.
Characters have a Possibility resource. Possibility points are spent on raising skill and attribute values and can be used to alter the outcomes of conflicts.
Finally, characters have a “Shock Damage” resource that acts as a form of hit points and “Wounds” that acts as a trauma gauge.
Before contests arise, players are dealt a number of cards from the game’s “Drama Deck.” Each card lists some special bonus that the player can use in conflicts. “Add +3 to the value of Dexterity, Strength, or Toughness or a related skill” and “May be played as an additional Possibility” are two such examples.
Whenever a contest arises, the participants state what skills their characters are using in the task. A d20 is then rolled by the aggressor and the result is noted. If a 10 or 20 comes up on the die, the player gets to roll again, adding the new result to the previous one. The player continues accumulating more and more success in an open ended fashion as long as 10 or 20 is rolled. The player then has the option of spending a point of Possibility to add another die roll to this total. If he does so, any roll of less than 10 counts as 10 before being added to the running total. This additional roll is also open- ended, so if a 10 or 20 is rolled, the player keeps accumulating more success. (Note: Torg characters are actually segregated into “Possibility-Rated” characters and “Ordinaries”. Only Possibility-Rated characters, including all player characters, have Possibility points to spend on re-rolls. Ordinaries do not.)
Once this process is complete, the accumulated result is used on a table lookup to determine the characters “bonus number.” The character’s rank in whatever skill he is using is added to this bonus number to determine his overall “action total.” This may be modified by playing any number of pertinent Drama Cards. The action total is then compared to a “difficulty number.” If the action total is greater than or equal to the difficulty number, the action succeeds. Some actions, such as combat attacks, require the same roll to be used in determining an “effect total” by adding different numbers (depending on the action) to the bonus number. In this way, a single die roll can be used to determine whether a blow lands and how much damage is delivered.
A character’s Shock damage increases every time he is hit, depending on the amount of damage delivered. If the total damage equals or exceeds the character’s Toughness, he falls unconscious. Damage is also gauged in the form of “Wound Levels.” A Wound is more serious than Shock damage. There are four levels (five if you count “Unwounded”): “Wound,” “Heavy Wound,” “Mortal Wound,” and “Dead.” Characters also have “K” and “O” attributes, which are either true or false (circled or uncircled). Some wounds deliver Ks and some deliver Os in addition to Shock Damage and Wound Damage. If a character takes both a K and an O, he is Knocked Out. Given all of this, a blow could result in 2 Wnd K 5, which indicates the character sustains 2 Wounds, a K, and five points of Shock Damage. Once the damaging effects are determined, the target may spend Possibility points to reduce the inflicted damage.
Game flow in Torg is broken down into Acts and Scenes. Scenes are categorized as either Standard or Dramatic. In Standard scenes, action is fast-paced and the Drama Deck cards give an advantage to the players. In Dramatic scenes, action is more drawn out and the villains have the advantage. Initiative for any given Scene is determined by first drawing a card from the Drama Deck. Each card indicates whether the hero or villains go first. All actions of the initiative winners go before those of the losers. The order in which the actions of each side are taken are determined by the Dexterity of the various participants, going from highest to lowest.
When the initiative card is drawn from the deck, the card will also specify an “Approved Action.” If a player successfully performs an act falling into the categories listed as approved for that round, he gets to draw another card from the Drama Deck to replenish his hand. Otherwise, he doesn’t get to draw until the end of the Scene.
Torg breaks adventures up into Acts. At the end of each act, the Game Master awards each player zero to three Possibilities to add to his character’s pool. At the end of an adventure, the Game Master awards another 6 to 12 Possibilities. These can be saved for later use on improving success in conflicts or can be spent immediately to raise attribute values and skill ranks.