The Realities of Torg

The role-playing game publisher West End Games (WEG) was once a real heavy-hitter in the industry.  With the stellar (get it?) Star Wars d6 system, Paranoia, the original Ghostbuster RPG, and many others, WEG had a string of popular, successful games.  In my opinion the writing was some of the best of its time in the industry, and all of their games played well, with very little confusion and not much “crunch”.

In 1990, West End Games published what can be called a trans-genre game of war between realities called Torg.  The word Torg in context is actually the title of the main bad guy, the leader of the invaders that brought several different realities to portions of the Earth.  Player characters were caught in the middle of a struggle to retain “Core” Earth’s current reality, as they were set upon by everything from Egyptian Pharoah/Nazi cultists or dinosaur people to high tech Japanese overlords and “Space Gods”.  Literally, they are called Space Gods.

It’s a crazy setting, and full of great adventure hooks.  The thing is, though, I can’t figure out the Reality of Torg.  I mean the actual mechanics to resolve conflicting realities.  There’s a whole chapter on reality in the Revised Edition, but it reads like a philosophical essay, and I can’t seem to pull the ruleset out of it.

The core mechanic of Torg is similar to a reverse d20 system.  In d20, you roll a d20 and add your attribute bonuses.  For example, if you have a Strength of 15, you’d add +2 to your roll.  However, in Torg, your roll tells you what bonus to add to your attribute.  It’s not a bad system, and it has the capability of tackling large numbers, i.e. huge monsters, space ship combat, etc.

Character creation is a struggle, too.  The steps are scattered through different sections, and even though it implies you can play races from the invading realities, it doesn’t seem to tell you how exactly.

The best imagery that Torg always brings up to me is how technology, if taken to an invader’s zone that has a lower technological level, can malfunction or even cease to function entirely.  For example, if you take your revolver into The Living Land (the dinosaur people), it might just stop working entirely as the reality of The Living Land takes over.

That’s where the problem lies.  How do I as the GM figure out how and when that may happen?  The reality chapter is a difficult read; it references the steps but doesn’t explain them.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I just don’t have the patience to drudge through the maze of the Reality of Torg.  If you have the answers to these questions, I would LOVE some answers.  I’ve wanted to actually play Torg, but feel uncomfortable even starting the game!

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