When a lot of people who know about TORG talk about it, frequently there are directly contradictory reports. I've heard some claim that TORG is a great multigenre setting with unusual, silly rules with dice and cards, while others hold that the setting is a little silly, and it is the rules that are brilliant and groundbreaking. I tend to agree more with those who make the second claim, though after reading all of the setting books, I've grown to accept the silliness of a world with dinosaurs, technodemons, wizards, superheroes, ninja and the cyberpope all in a single setting, and internalize how it all makes a kind of sense.
The world of TORG happens here, on Earth in the near future. Tomorrow, or next week, the invasion happens. Powerful beings called High Lords have been taking over and draining potential energy, or Possibility from the inhabitants of realities they come across, subverting those worlds and making them more like the one they came from. Earth, and our reality, is full of Possibility, too much for any one High Lord to try to drain on their own, the raw power would destroy them if they tried. So one High Lord doesn't invade. Seven do. Whichever takes over the most will be the TORG, and the Multiverse will quake.
|The original rulebook, with a joke in the bottom right corner referring to how many of these came apart.|
Six of the seven invading realities successfully drop down into parts of our world (one is fought back), and the rules and inhabitants there change. In England, the fantasy realm of Aysle turns inhabitants into medieval peasants, guns and technology stop working, yet magic and monsters are now possible. A high-tech “corporate ninja and superspies” reality takes over Japan... and no one notices. A cosm of pulp action and superheroes, a Victorian horror realm, a living jungle of dinosaurs and primordial magics, and a fusion of a dark medieval Catholic theocracy with cyberpunk round out the settings. For each place that is transformed, a side effect of the transformation is the storm of possibility that empowers special individuals with a greater destiny than most. These are the player-characters, the Storm Knights. With the additional option to play Storm Knights who hail from the realities that the High Lords came from, a party consisting of a wizard, a ninja, a superhero and an FBI Agent wouldn't be at all out of place.
The real draw for me, though, is the rules system. The only die needed is a single 20-sider, and rolling it once can determine whether or not a group of 5 zombies hit a hero, how many hit and how much damage is done. The system is unique in that it is the only one I know of where the group is at its strongest right before the final encounter, when they need to be to fight the main villain. Most games, the group is at its strongest at the start of an adventure, before they expend resources, which feels less dramatic.
|Classic and deadly adventure featuring one of the most powerful High Lords.|
A sense of drama and a group gathering strength is accomplished with a special deck of cards that handle initiative, special combat conditions that make scenes that are more important more dangerous, and give characters bonuses to actions. Using and redrawing cards to build the best hand, saving all the really great cards for the last scene allows for that moment when the bad guy is about to escape and a hero needs to make a one-in-a-million shot, the camera zooms in as his friends mutter, “You can do it, we believe in you”, “Get the bastard...”, the music swells and... bang. The villain slumps, falling to his apparent death, maybe to return at a later point with a grudge. With these rules, you can do that.
The game itself has been out-of-print for years, but I managed to buy a ton at conventions, and pick up a few spare decks (which I'm now frantically looking for) and the last few books I was missing on eBay. I may even put together a game with my wife and a few others who have never experienced TORG, fight the Possibility Wars all over again.