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Torg Eternity - The God Box
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/25/2022 21:12:14

(it's worth noting before I begin this review that the torg eternity folks at one point generously made this adventure available.. along with the living land cosm sourcebook, the nile empire sourcebook and it's extended adventure "the fires of ra", and the asyle sourcebook and it's extended adventure "revenge of the carredon" .. available for the amazingly low price of $25 (or $15 one of the two I forget which but it was a great deal).. if you haven't already I urge you to sign up for the humble bundle email list)

Is “the godbox” worth the $18 purchase price? I would say yes given the sheer amount of content and no doubt as the publisher promises months of gaming material presented here.. as well the amount of exposition provided not only for details of the Living Land but things described in greater detail like the dimthread trees also makes it a worthwhile purchase despite my 4 out of 5 star rating ... however I was disappointed both in the lack of statistics and background/personality writeups for (not ALL mind you but certain - they're in the minority, for the most part important NPC's get their own write up but there were some exceptions that surprised me) NPC's who clearly play an important role in the adventure ... for example Scarlett the teenager girl who serves as either a rescuer or would be damsel in distress in the first part of the adventure for example.... I was also surprised at the lack of battle maps provided for every possible combat scenario though see my suggestions below on (surprisingly enough) reddit and the battlemaps free to use you can dig up with a google search. Still I would strongly recommend that you not only purchase this but that you run this early on near the start of your Torg campaign, say after running the pay-what-you-want Day One Torg Eternity adventures (see below for some thoughts on that) .. the adventure does a great job of not only letting the players adventure through the Living Land which is a FUN place to have adventures in (please, purchase the Living Land cosm sourcebook you won't regret it, it's one of the best Torg books whether 1990's Torg or modern day Torg Eternity publications I've ever read) but also introducing key concepts like darkness devices, eternity shards and reality storms.

The (at times) lack of stats could be a problem for a large part of the intended audience.. an enthusiastic working mom or dad who has kids to take care and a job who stil wants to "scratch the itch" in terms of running a torg eternity adventure for enthuastic players but who simply isn't going to have the time to write up stats for these NPC's ... or on the other end of the age spectrum enthusiastic college students busy with their studies working part or full time who still want to run a torg eternity campaign for themselves and their buddies-as-players... a gamesmaster in that scenario could simply "hand wave it" and declare what happens to the NPC's without rolls but to me that seems like a bit of a cheat and will certainly be disconcerting to the players (or not, depends on your gaming group)... I do find myself hoping someone using the open license torg eternity infiniverse permissions will take note of this and come up with a prewritten list of ord, non reality rated NPC's including not only their stats but also a background and personality write up that can be dropped into any prewritten adventure as necessary ... "core earth plucky teenage girl" would be an example here as well as "cyberpapacy plucky teenage girl" (variant of core earth with cyberware who quietly "dodges" the oppressive requirements of the cyberpapal religion without being so obvious as to be dragged away for "re-education"), "nile empire plucky teenage girl" and so forth.. followed by "core earth scientist", "orrosh scientist" (like the core earth scientist but obsessed with the science of victorian era technology instead), "pan pacifica scientist" (something that would come up very frequently in pan pacifica adventures, with variants for ones willingly - or fearfully - working for Kanawa ,brave rebellious scientists leaking information to the delphi council)... members of the various criminal elements in core earth like the Yakuza, your stereotypical American mafia member, the Bratya or other Russian mob elements, "core earth housewife or househusband" followed by the cyberpapacy , nile empire and so forth versions of this and so on.

On the other hand the writing in the adventure is excellent in terms of the flavor text and setting the mood for the Living Land and the adventure does a great job of capturing the constant adrenaline rush, adventure around every corner, fight for survival context that is at the heart of Living Land adventures .. it also does a great job of "humanizing" the plight of the average NPC, whether it be your day to day ordinary civilians or the beleaguered military doing their best to fight the "lizard menace" of the edeinos in a way that will allow the PC's to interact with said NPC's in a way that really brings the "flavor" of the Living Land home to the players.

While my intent isn't to start a "flame war" with other reviewers and I respectfully agree that they absolutely have a right to their opinion that goes without saying ... however I always find myself puzzled when someone gets upset over the adventure basically "railroading" you along a predetermined adventure path or having to rely on NPC's who give you your mission goals... this is the nature of EVERY single prewritten adventure I have read, ever, over the course of my decades of reading and/or gaming in RPG's... while it's true there are more "open world" concepts which give you a variety of NPC's, their stats and background and personality (and thus motivations), things that are going on in that corner of the campaign world, suggested "adventure seeds" and then the players and GM are "let loose" to come up with their own adventures "on the fly" as it were, if you're looking for that just pick up any one of the torg eternity cosm sourcebooks and it has all of that stuff right in there.. I suppose you could have the torg eternity publishers write up a "city sourcebook" like the original torg 1990's publishers did with that wealth of information ... and honestly I do find myself hoping the torg eternity folks do that some day.. but there's a huge advantage to the way adventures like this are written.. there's already a plot ready and waiting for the PC's to follow and for the aforementioned busy with work/kids GM this is of enormous value... if you're a GM in this scenario all you have to do is flat out tell the players " Look this is a pre-written adventure which will probably railroad you in a certain direction at times.. I don't have the time to write my own original adventures so we're playing this. Is everyone okay with that?" My experience with players is that they simply make the best of it with good natured jokes that "the plot is thicker in that direction" knowing full well the limitations of a pre-written adventure.. and if you object that strongly to railroading do something about it ! Write your own material such that you have the flexibility to account for it when players have their PC's "jump" in a direction you didn't account for as any experienced GM knows players can and will do. If you're unable or unwilling to do that then much as I hate to be blunt, I have to say: stop complaining and be satisfied with prewritten adventures and the limitations that go with it - as well as the potential fun. Honestly speaking I really enjoyed the areas where the adventure didn't go into as much detail as it could have as it gave me a chance to engage my creativity something I greatly enjoy doing as a GM for adventures while at the same time being able to enjoy that the framework of the adventure - the vast majority of the plot, NPC's and monsters and their stats - had already been done for me, effectively letting me tweak it however I liked and fill in the gaps where I felt necessary.. which is why this review is so long and my apologies for that but hopefully you will find my meanderings below helpful in terms of at least giving you ideas for parts of the adventure that I felt could use a little more depth.

I freely admit I am far more into the “role playing/world building” part of RPG’s than many players are.. so much so in fact that my original review with my many, many suggestions for the adventure was so long drivthru rpg wasn’t able to publish it (went past the allowed word/character count)… hopefully this works – try the link below if you want the full version of the review .. hopefully some of my suggestions in there help you out

https://andrerpgreviews.blogspot.com/2022/09/tried-posting-review-for-well-done-in.html

At the end of the day I’d still argue this is worth the purchase price for several reasons.. a large amount of material for game play to keep players busy for probably at least months.. the adventure does a great job of capturing the spirit and atmosphere of the Living Land.. and the PC’s can enjoy the feeling of knowing they rescued a goddess and bask in the gratitude of certain edeinos in the Living Land and the Delphi Council afterwards…. Also in my opinion the adventure offers additional insight into the Living Land in a way that “brings it to life” from the role playing point of view the way Torg Eternity published adventures often do. So yes, despite my four out of five star rating I would say buy it. Thanks for reading all of this if you made it this far!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Torg Eternity - The God Box
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Torg Eternity - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/24/2022 15:15:31

Kudos to the other, far better reviews here than what I'm going to write :) .. but a few additional things you should know... (also edit and update .. forgot to include the page count, a whopping 282 pages and 282 pages of high quality .. in my opinion anyways.. material, you're definitely getting a lot of bang for your buck)

I would start by doing a google search for " writeups letsyouandhimfight evil mastermind torg eternity"... that will lead you to what is probably the best written review I've seen for Torg Eternity that mentions both the positive and negative aspects of this revamp of the original TORG game from the 1990's.

Like a lot of reviewers here I was a huge fan of the original TORG game from the 1990's... it was a lot of fun reading this rulebook and seeing how they've updated the material and I noted with delight that they included enough material in it to let you (in theory) run say the "Dancing on Needles" adventure supplement without even needing the Cyberpapacy sourcebook is a nice touch (Dancing on Needles takes place in the Cyberpapacy).

Honestly though to get your full enjoyment out of this game you should expect to at the very least purchase the seven sourcebooks... Cyberpapacy, Nile Empire, Orrosh, Living Land, Asyle and (when they are able to publish it apparently they're in the crowdfunding phase right now) the Pan Pacifica (replaces what we old guard TORG fans referrred to as "Nippon Tech") sourcebooks... honestly, if you don't buy these you're not going to enjoy the game as throughly as you normally would. I don't necessarily see that as an unfair thing - heck in order to play Dungeons and Dragons bare minimum you need the Dungeon Master's Guide, Player's Handbook and Monster Manual and more than likely you'll end up buying campaign settings and possibly pre published adventures too so this definitely isn't something outside the norm. At some point I'll be writing reviews of the three sourcebooks (Nile Empire, Living Land and Asyle) that I currently own here on the drivethru rpg website.

(another edit and update.. be honest with your players about the expectations of this campaign setting and if they can live with it... the campaign setting makes it very clear the PC's are expected to be the good guys who thrust themselves into danger's way to help hapless NPC innocents with no thought of reward, that sort of thing.. the Reality Choir book gives an intriguing look at a more morally grey sort of scenario if the players and gamesmasters would prefer that instead and it's theoretically possible to play Torg Eternity that way but it will definitely require some extra work especially if you're using the pre published Torg Eternity adventures ... also have a frank discussion with your players on their comfort levels regarding religion.. when people can use real life religions to call upon real life miracles.. something that was a part of the original Torg campaign setting in the 1990's and something that pops up again here... that's something you want to make sure everyone's comfortable with. It's been my experience that even religious players such as myself are comfortable with making the distinction between real life faith in the real world and imaginary scenarios in a campaign world but it's definitely worth talking to your players about anyways as a gamesmaster. Finally bear in mind the campaign setting assumes that the player characters will automatically " get scared" by certain threats to the point where they have negative in-game consequences.. while this totally fits horror themed dimensions like say Orrosh or , interestingly enough , Pan Pacifica with the whole "zombie" thing , there are players who will rile against this sort of thing " No I'm not scared ! " ... so that's something you have to have a discussion about too, if it upsets players you may have to simply leave that out but the bad guys will be all the weaker for it and less of a challenge which can pose it's own problems.. gamesmasters can try to adjust by beefing the bad guys up in other aspects as far as stats ).

I also urge you to check out the "pay what you want" supplements though it's worth noting simply clicking on "Torg Eternity" and scrolling through the available products may not turn them up (or at least that was my experience), you may have to search for them individually by name but it's worth it... Torg Eternity Day One for example is a whopping 146 pages worth of material you can get cheaply if you choose to (grab the Day One Pre generated characters while you're at it too also pay what you want). The Reality Choir is another 146 pages worth (edit and update - I wrote a review on Reality Choir but short version, I consider it absolutely mandatory for Torg it's that good and at the pay what you want price it's a no brainer - grab it). (another edit and update - wrote a review of Torg Eternity Day One and despite the caveats I mention in my review absolutely worth picking up even if you pay say one dollar for it - don't feel guilty I'm sure the publishers intend for it to be your gateway drug to non pay what you want titles for Torg Eternity :) ) ... Other pay what you want adventures and supplments include "Burden of Glory", "Ruins of the Living Land", "Death of the Mystery Men" , "Rooting Out Orrosh", "Living Land War of Religions" and "The Storm Knights Guide to Monster Hunters" (see however my review of Burden of Glory if you like, at some point I'll write a review for the other ones too). Personally I think it was very generous of the publisher to make these pay what you want titles - yes I know I know, the publisher is trying to encourage purchase of their core rule books, cosm setting sourcebooks and so forth by making the adventures/bonus campaign material free but in today's day and age where corporations are all out to make a quick buck and squeeze a customer mercilessly (at least here in the USA - Cyberpunk rpg except in real life here we come) it's a welcome change. "Dancing on Needletips" which has a fixed price of $1.99 might also be worth checking out and which I've also written a review on.

Also definitely grab the Torg Eternity Drama Deck pay what you want option too, which I also thought was incredibly generous of the publisher especially for people who are playing the game online though I'm not sure how you could use that pdf to randomly select cards for the players (maybe the GM assigns each a permanent number and uses a random number generator?) ... You also want to grab " Beta Clearance Player's Primer" and " Beta Clearance GM's Primer " for some helpful game information, also pay what you want titles. Other pay what you want titles which may or may not be helpful include "Random Enchanged Items", "Program Cards", " Torg Eternity Players Mat" and "Torg Eternity Game Mats" (maybe the images from these can be imported into Roll20 somehow? See below...)

On what I'm pretty sure is the publisher's website, they have announced that for fans of online gaming that Roll20 has created, for about $10 American, a drama deck and apparently Roll20 is free to play online as well (I know nothing about Roll20 and have never used it so can't say too much about it , how much of it is really free to play and so forth... but heck if it only cost $10 to buy and use the drama deck and the GM and players have pdf's of the TORG files I can see how that would work out really well ).

I'd also strongly recommend you sign up for the bundle of holding newsletter to be sent to your email - the publisher kindly ran a bundle of holding special twice over the years since they've released TORG Eternity and who knows they might do it again? Basically you were able to get a number of TORG titles at a cheap price that supported charity - I'll be writing reviews of these books as I get around to reading them.

Also worth noting is the change in narrative tone.. the original Torg books from West End games tried to be very dark and broody and their common catchphrase was "the storm is coming"... honestly though if you try running a campaign in say the USA and you and your gaming crew are all American and you try to say with a straight face " There's a lizard-man dude riding a dinosaur down the Brooklyn Bridge trying to trample you - what do you do?" .. I'm sorry it's just going to provoke hilarity from the players, or at least that was my experience when I gamesmastered it for my friends.. such a scene is completely in tune with the nature of TORG and I encourage you to run stuff like that and have fun with it but - expect laughter and jokes. Likewise imagine a gaming group living in say England gaming through the Asyle cosm.. " Hey elf and dwarf dudes (blokes?) help the dragon is trying to eat me ! HEEEEELLLLLLPPP ! " or listening to the gamesmaster talk about some fantastic mythical creature kidnapping the Queen of England and/or threatening to do something terrible to Big Ben if their demands aren't met (haven't read the Asyle sourcebook but going to assume Big Ben is some sort of Core Earth reality hardpoint I could be wrong) .. it's going to be met with similar hilarity... I like how the revamped book isn't as dark and broody in tone because - let's face it dark and broody's not going to happen.. so hopefully you're a fan of your campaigns being "action-comedy" because that's probably what it's going to lean towards. I could be wrong I'm sure there are gaming groups who can MAKE it dark and broody , goes without saying each gaming group can and will be different from the others in terms of play style, mood and atmosphere.. I'm just saying what my experience was both times I ran this for two different gaming groups.

It's also worth noting that the original TORG West End games (look for the ones that do not say "Torg Eternity", just " Torg" when you click on the publisher's name, Ulisses Spiele, here on the RPG website) are available very cheap as well.. don't bother with the Relics of Power Trilogy only because Ulisses Spiele has already updated it to the revamped TORG Eternity rules so you might as well purchase that instead.. and to be clear Ulisses Spiele has already published a LOT of impressive module/adventure type stuff so that should probably be your first stop (hopefully I will be able to write reviews for the godbox, Revenge Of The Carredon and Fires of Ra soon - they are each very long in page count which in my opinion is a good thing lots of material for the gamesmaster to work with) and the aforementioned pay what you want adventures detailed above should absolutely be your first stop. Having said that as an old school TORG fan I would personally have a lot of fun taking say The Temple of Rek Stalek and updating that to the revised Torg Eternity rules (though the risk you run is that the Temple of Rek Stalek events may not be considered "canon" in Torg Eternity - on the other hand I'm sure the publishers would be the first one to say " It's your campaign, have fun with it ! " ).

Regarding the criticisms leveled by other reviewers as far as the modules being too linear and railroading the players along a path... it's true that strides have been made towards making it less that way in other campaign settings but.. honestly if you're running a pre published adventure railroading is something you simply cannot escape in my experience no matter what and hopefully your players are mature enough to understand that (if not then you have a problem). It was understood with both my TORG gaming groups that the TORG campaign was secondary to anyone having the time and energy to write up their own original adventure material in some other RPG, which by definition is almost always more open ended and "sandbox like" when it's your own original creation ... but no sane gamesmaster out there will ever tell you that such a thing does not require enormous amounts of time and effort that not everybody has especially say the average 9 to 5 working person with a wife and kids, dogs/cats et cetera... just warn your players in advance " Look this is a prepublished adventure that is probably going to railroad you along a plot line at some point I hope you guys can deal with that because I honestly don't know what to do if you "jump" in a direction that the adventure didn't expect". I was the subject of some good natured teasing from my friends " Go that way the plot line is thicker ! " :) ... but they understood.

I do understand why say for example the Cyberpapacy Armor and Weapons aren't nearly as powerful in Torg Eternity as they were in say the original TORG setting... if you have a player character from the Cyberpapacy cosm for example all said PC has to do is liberate Church Police armor and weapons and s/he suddenly became a heck of a lot more powerful.. having said that given the high tech nature of the cosm I was a bit dismayed to see they've been "nerfed" such that they're really not that much more powerful than say a Core Earth Flak Jacket or Ballistic Armor.. from a game balance perspective I understand why they did this but I find myself wondering if a group might be tempted to experiment with more powerful equipment from the Cyberpapacy (with the GM's understanding s/he'd have to ramp up the power of the opposition accordingly).

I'm a bit confused about the other reviews on here stating that the Torg Eternity drama deck is impossible to get a hold of, at least here in the USA.. I just did a quick google search and I immediately saw that a deck was available from at least one online merchant and two listings for the drama deck on ebay if you don't mind buying it used (I don't)... on the other hand I can see how given there isn't a large and readily available supply of said decks it would get frustrating as opposed to say being practically guaranteed to be able to grab a copy of the D&D player's handbook for purchase whenever you feel like it .. as a former Torg gamesmaster from the 1990's West End game version let me say the Drama Deck is FUN .. really fun ! :) .. it takes some getting used to and your players will joke about it (one of mine loved to yell " trump ! " when he played his cards as he tossed them onto the table.. as in " I trump your hand" no reference intended to the former USA president this was in the 1990's people :P ) ... there was a criticism in one review about how one reviewer missed that "hard decision" as far as whether to spend possibilities as experience to upgrade your ability scores or skills or perks or what not or to spend them during gameplay.. personally I'm very happy that the publisher made experience points an entirely different category - I had one player express severe disappointment (later on circa.. hard to remember maybe 2010? .... with a different gaming group after I moved) that they had to quote "spend experience points to survive"... it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea but my players and I throughly enjoyed the old West End published drama deck in both groups where I ran the original TORG west end rules and I'm sure the Torg Eternity drama deck will be no exception ... I'm loving the cosm specific cards in particular which is a new and nice added touch.

As far as a virtual version of the Drama Deck for people who like to play online.. I tend to talk about Fantasy Grounds only because it's the only online RPG program tool type thing I'm familiar with as opposed to say roll20 for example... having said that I did a quick check on Fantasy Grounds and it looks like Torg Eternity is definitely an ongoing project over there with a lot of people putting a lot of hard work into making it viable for FG... however unlike Roll20, FG is NOT free so you'd have to decide if it's worth the purchase price or not (I think you can pay a minimal amount for one month's worth of subscription... mind you it's been a LONG time, over a decade since I last did FG but looking at the website it would appear a GM can pay four dollars American for a month's subscription, players can log on for free (not sure how long for though) and you could give it a trial run that way. Sadly with covid being a thing we have to pay attention to online gaming now in a way that people who prefer face to face gaming have never had to before. (edit and update - looks like the publisher has embraced Roll20 in particular ... if you do a google search for the words "torg eternity drama deck roll20" you'll come up with an online version of the drama deck that was apparently released by the publisher themselves... also if you do a google search for " stay at home and play torg eternity" it will come up with a link to a page on the publisher's... Ulisses .... website that mentions a lot of their pay what you want products ... keep scrolling down and you'll see a link to a video that shows you how to set up roll20 for Torg Eternity and they also give a link to the Fantasy Grounds extension to apparently get Torg Eternity up and running on there too)

edit and update - personally as a gamesmaster I would automatically give everyone the perk that allows a PC to utilize the results of a Glory card given how important those cards are in terms of refilling transformed citizens of Earth and thus not destroying them when you rip out the stelae the dimensional invaders are using to steal Earth's possibilities.. it goes without saying this is a BIG DEAL and a hugely important goal in the game .. forcing players to give up a perk they could use to "power up" instead seems rather unfair especially given the at times extremely deadly nature of the other-cosm conquered areas of Earth they will end up adventuring in (Orrosh comes to mind). Also I've written reviews of Orrosh and the Living Land which are my two absolute favorite cosm sourcebooks, grab either one of those first so you can be impressed by just how awesome a game Torg Eternity is (will eventually get around to writing reviews of the other cosm sourcebooks which I was less impressed by but only because Living Land and Orrosh raised the bar so high - you still should plan on buying all the cosm sourcebooks to fully enjoy the game).

Okay enough rambling :) .. long story short I think you're going to love Torg Eternity and in my humble opinion it's well worth the purchase price... buy the Core Rules, download the pay what you want stuff I mentioned above and give it a try with your gaming group :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Torg Eternity - Core Rules
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Torg Eternity - Living Land Sourcebook
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/18/2022 17:50:26

As I mentioned in the torg eternity core rules sourcebook review (which I'm guessing you already purchased or else you wouldn't be reading this review), while it was nice of the publishers to include the absolute basics as far as what's necessary to run a Torg adventure in each of the cosms invading Earth, I still maintain that the purchase of all the Torg cosm sourcebooks (we're still waiting on the publishers to release the Pan Pacifica sourcebook but in the meantime Living Land, Tharkold, Nile Empire, Orrosh, Cyberpapacy, and Asyle sourcebooks are available) .. (edit and update .. forgot to mention this pdf is 146 pages long which appears to be the standard length of all the Torg Eternity cosm sourcebooks , Orrosh, Cyberpapacy and so forth ... not a complaint at all, this is 146 pages of good stuff in my opinion ! :) )

This is a sourcebook I can easily give a 5 star rating to and I agree with the other reviewer in that it's very well done compared to the original Living Land sourcebook published way back in the 1990's ... one big drawback (and I admit this is a minor quibble) is the introductory flavor text .. a fictional story set within the cosm that sets the mood for the entire sourcebook.. the original book had a wonderful little story about a father desperately in search of his daughter within the Living Land.. he finds her.. only to discover that she's not only transformed over to the Living Land's reality, her very mindset has changed such that she has no problem letting her father get sacrificed to the deity that the invading edeinos worship.. the father himself feels himself transforming to the invading reality and finds himself sympathizing with and agreeing with his daughter at the same time that he's sacrificed so basically too late ... it's a wonderfully emotional story that really makes the invading reality of the Living Land personal to you, or in my opinion anyways, and compared to that the introductory flavor text is, I'm afraid, rather weak.

But if you push past that you'll see a well written sourcebook starting with a short but insightful overview of how reality is different in the Living Land , then a summary of the various regions invaded by the Living Land and their reactions to the invaders whether it be the USA, Canada, Cuba, Guatemala or Mexico .. that part for me was particularly fun

( but definitely grab the pay what you want " ruins of the living land" torg book as well which fleshes this out even further and while you're at it grab "living land war of religions" .. also a pay what you want title making both purchases no brainers as you can pick them up very cheaply if you chose to... at the very least given the publishers themselves have made ruins of the living land a pay what you want book try not to feel too guilty about grabbing it at less than the recommended price and just put that money towards say this cosm sourcebook or one of the other cosm sourcebooks )

(edit and update.. it's possible that a gamesmaster might want a map not provided in this adventure ... surprisingly enough reddit is a great source of rpg maps, just google search "(type of building or outdoor thing like forest or cave or whatever you need a map of) rpg map reddit" in a situation like that, in the case of buildings overrun by the reality of the living land I find adding the word "apocalyptic" to the google search terms turns up an appropriately ruined or overrun building or highway or what have you.. other resources include "bogie-DJ deviant art " if you do a google search for that or " rpgmapshare" )

in that the USA (where I live) and the regions close by to it mentioned above are familiar enough with me such that it's entertaining on a personal level to imagine what it would be like if they were invaded by tribes of lizard-men bringing their primitive savage reality to said regions. The Warzones chapter goes into much more detail later on in the book and is also a very fun read ... I would argue however that the pay what you want "reality choir" sourcebook fleshes this (and all the other invading cosms for that matter) out further still and is absolutely a recommended purchase even if you can't afford the writer's asking price (heck buy it on the cheap , and then when you read it and you're impressed buy a second copy when you can afford it at full price as a way of thanking him). Also very helpful is the "common threats" section which basically gives suggestions on the type of "wandering monsters" if you will that you encounter depending on what section of conquered Earth you happen to find yourself in.

The Miracles section provides some fun options if you want to run a friendly edeinos "lizard man" player character priest(ess) who's chose to ally themselves with the human player characters and the sourcebook provides enough insight into the worship of the edeinos deity Lanala to let you properly role play such a character (although the war of religions sourcebook fleshes this out still further and again is highly recommended). The gear section is also fun to read particularly given it's recommendation towards bartering depending on whom you're buying it from and how far they're given in to the invading reality .. try showing an edeinos or a transformed human the funny green pieces of paper and convincing them that this American (or whatever nation your PC is from) currency can be used to "buy things" ..

I could see myself having fun playing a transformed human who has come over to the invading reality's outlook on life too though interestingly enough the " day one " prepublished adventure collection (also a pay what you want book which I've written a review of) in my opinion actually does a better job of educating the reader in that it gives a practical example not only of a player character mom who has transformed over to the Living Land reality and her new view of things but also an interesting depiction of transformed New York police officers who now view themselves as a "tribe" and how their very way of thinking and outlook has changed .. changed in a way that is now potentially dangerous for the player characters depending on how they approach the transformed police officers.

The gear section is also a fun read not only for the "normal " core earth gear it covers but, more entertainingly in my opinion, plant based items native to the Living Land that are of practical value to the characters and that can function normally in the Living Land (as opposed to that higher tech core Earth gear that can suddenly give out on you on a moment's notice) .. and it actually gives the PC's a reason to be interested in bartering with friendly (or at least not immediately hostile) edeinos.. they could also serve as rewards for PC's who take the more difficult but ultimately more rewarding route of calming down encountered edeinos who say threaten the PC's with their hrock spears or what have you when first encountered but aren't technically allied with the invading high lord Barak Kaah (more about him later) and not responding immediately with violence towards a potential ally.

The reality chapter deals with not only the axioms and how the upper limits of technology, magic, spirtuality and society (spirit and social respectively for those last two axioms) affect the very nature of existence within the transformed areas of the Living Land (which is always a fascinating read and is a large part of the magic behind any Torg campaign) but also the world laws which as a collective whole really drive home the fact that you are living in and being affected by an entirely different reality and that it can and will have an impact on your PC's behavior within said reality .. even if your PC stubbornly refuses to say embrace the Law of Savagery and it's subset laws like the "physical attraction" one, it's still going to have a huge impact on the beings you encounter (especially say the transformed humans to say nothing of edeinos friends or foes ) ... again I strongly recommend the " Day One " book given it's pay what you want price, even if you never plan on running the adventures contained within the Living Land one does a great job of driving home exactly what life is like when people in conquered areas of the Living Land (the portion of New York that adventure covers for example) fall prey to and are transformed by the invading reality.

The travel and the environment portions are also useful and do a good job of driving home how the law of decay can hamper movement (what happens when that jeep you're driving rusts and falls apart as it falls victim to the Living Land's reality?).. this section of the book deals with both the situations where the PC's are lucky enough to have both a functioning vehicle and a corresponding road that hasn't been overgrown by vegetation or the road itself has simply decayed out of existence .. and the situations where the PC's aren't quite so lucky and have to hack their way through overgrown vegetation and the appropriate rate of movement as a result... and of course this provides fodder for any imaginative gamesmaster.. for example this excerpt

" The US highway system remains intact over large stretches of the Living Land, particularly in mixed zones, and these roads also provide a good means to traverse the jungle. However, the creatures native to the Living Land—not to mention the edeinos tribes—have come to learn that these roads often provide prey for hunting. Therefore, the existing roads of Core Earth may be faster, but are also more dangerous than other trails."

It's not too difficult going from that alone to paint a vivid word picture for the players ... driving down say highway 95 , lush jungle-level vegetation rising to either side of you , the shrieks of predators and prey filling the air, hoping that the law of decay doesn't overcome your vehicle's engine (in game terms you get a setback on the drama deck for example) .. only to feel and hear the ground tremble moments before some gigantic dinosaur comes bursting out of the foliage ridden by edoinos bent on killing the player characters.

I loved the writeup of Barak Kaah even more so than his original appearance in the Torg books from the 1990's not only in terms of establishing him as a far more dangerous and canny foe (albeit one still prone to being inflamed to passion and savagery as the very reality of his cosm demands and as a result being more likely to fall victim to colossal errors in judgment due to his overconfidence) who fights on the front lines alongside his troops unlike most of the other High Lords (mind you there's every possibility Mobius may end up personally fighting the PC's in the Nile Empire but thanks to that cosm's world laws "dead" PC's can turn out not to be dead and pop up later on to bravely continue the fight true pulp comic book style - but that's a subject better covered in the Nile Empire sourcebook review when I get around to writing it ) .. the Living Land sourcebook makes it very clear that Barak Kaah's hands on approach means he can and will come after PC's personally who are very successful at disrupting Kaah's plans .. given how powerful Kaah is it gives the PC's motivation to do what they must, spread those tales of Glory... and then vanish and HIDE before an enraged Kaah tears them limb from limb.. or this is what the sourcebook says anyways, one big problem with that is that I've noticed over my years of gamesmastering that players are VERY unlikely to run from a fight quite possibly resulting in dead PC's.. this may force the GM to get creative and have the PC's say captured and probably maimed to drive home how serious a threat Kaah poses only to be rescued say by a well played card from the Drama Deck or simple GM fiat ... of course this gives the PC's plenty of reason to hate Kaah and kill him off personally when the PC's (finally) amass the experience points and power level necessary to do so... merciful GM's might want to either let the PC's spend experience points to buy off that maiming and the in game penalties as a result or arrange for healing (say from friendly edeinos rebelling against Khan - and yes those factions are detailed in the sourcebook - who are awed that the PC's fought Khan and lived to tell about it ). Alternately if you feel this will all simply annoy your players too much you can always just hold off on Kaah's confrontation with the PC's until the Storm Knights are powerful enough to take him down and kill him (though again given how powerful Kaah is this could be a long time coming in the campaign).

I've always enjoyed the write up not only of each High Lord's personality but also the High Lord's relationship with the other High Lords (often adversarial) and the sometimes complex game of politics the High Lords of each invading cosm play with each other in an attempt to achieve the best possible results for themselves.. assuming one High Lord isn't flat out at war with another one which is also a common occurrence.

Also of interest to me when reading the cosm sourcebooks is the writeup of the darkness device... the concept of this all-powerful force of destruction that uses it's High Lord as a tool to ensure more destruction and helps the High Lord alter the very laws of reality within that High Lord's cosm by way of reward .. and furthering the darkness device's own goals.. has always been an entertaining concept for me and the write up of Khan's darkness device is well done, exploring not only the relationship between it and Khan but also the influence of Lanala, the deity and the religion worshipped (primarily) within the reality of the Living Land.. there's enough information about Lanala and the Living Land (the write up of Lanana as an avatar that can walk the Living Land was a fun and unexpected touch) in and by itself but.. at the risk of sounding like a broken record.. given the pay what you want price it's a no brainer to grab " Living land Wars of Religion" too.. even if you don't agree with the proposed analysis of Lanala's worship, Khan's role and the darkness device's role in it not to mention the attention paid to the edeinos deity of death Rek Stalek, just reading the discussion and interplay between all four will definitely further your understanding of Lanala's religion.

Also a fun read was the write up of the edeinos, their way of life and outlook on things, the various tribes within the edeinos and the politics of how each tribe deals with each other .. which in my opinion was a brilliant move on the publisher's part, in the original Living Land sourcebook from the 1990's there's either the tribes for Kaah, the tribes against Kaah and that's it...

Then there's the chapter on the Delphi Council .. detailed information on Earth's response to the invaders in terms of fighting against them (the Delphi Council being the key organization in charge of said response in this and any other Torg cosm sourcebook) , a write up of various personalities in charge of said Delphi Council (sadly enough just a write up of their personality and background and even that not being nearly as extensive as I would like and no statistics for these guys either) and the various bases and secret operations the Delphi Council is running to counter the Living Land invaders.. also a very fun read.

There's a chapter on the themes and tropes a gamesmaster should explore when running adventures in the Living Land, along with a random table generator type things with detailed entries on each table result (you can roll randomly or just pick ones) to serve as a jumpstart for gamemaster's looking to write their own adventures and a write up of various lost worlds ...cosms within a cosm if you will, realms within the Living Land that follow their own axioms and rules - very different from the original Living Land sourcebook and also a very fun concept .. the Living Land itself can be viewed as a savage lost world within the original Earth reality and then having a lost world within the lost world? Fun stuff in my opinion.

The book rounds itself out with two final chapters, the first one on threats .. stats and a brief background write up.. for not only the various edeinos tribes , edeinos rulers of each tribe and their stats, the dinosaurs that the edeinos either ally with or that try to eat the very same edeinos, example stats for transformed now savage humans , transformed animals formerly of Earth who are now dangers the player characters have to face (or simply earth legends who have sprung to life in the Living Land reality - I got a kick out of reading the entry for the sasquatch) , transformed plants that try to eat the PC's and (kind of confused why this wasn't in the gear section) useful plants that can boost the PC's stats or other abilities albeit temporarily.

Normally the final chapter .. eternity shards.. doesn't hold much interest for me but the concept of iconic things like the Liberty Bell holding possibilities that the PC's can tap and use is a lot of fun to read about and honestly in my opinion the publishers should have spent more time writing up stats for "real world Earth" items of historical significance and turning them into eternity shards as opposed to the "original creation" eternity shards .. items borne solely from the publisher's minds which are a nice enough read but really don't capture your attention the way items based in the "real world" do. The section on items the PC's can discover due to the "lost treasure" cosm card from the eternity deck was a very fun read though (anything from hoverboards .. remember the "lost worlds" within the lost world of the Living Land theme mentioned above.. to a 1950's era icebox that keeps things cold inside even without any source of electrical power.. there's even ice cream inside the thing!

... edit and update - at this point I've finished reading the Orrosh sourcebook as well as the Living Land, Cyberpapacy, Nile Empire, Asyle and Tharkhold sourcebooks, review already written for Cyberpapacy and reviews forthcoming for the other sourcebooks hopefully soon .. at the time I wrote this review the Living Land sourcebook was my favorite - then I finished reading the Orrosh sourcebook and loved that too , and while I have yet to write the Orrosh review the Orrosh sourcebook is easily worth a 5 star review in my opinion along with the Living Land, both of those sourcebooks now being my favorites and well worth the purchase price. As far as the Living Land sourcebook.. there's a reason the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels dealing with forgotten lands and the savage existence the denizens of said lands led were so popular in their time.. in my honest opinion this sourcebook does a great job of bringing that "feeling" within the books to life and makes the Living Land an enjoyable experience for players flexible enough with their character's concept to simply "let go" and have their PC's react accordingly in a way that embraces that concept.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Torg Eternity - Living Land Sourcebook
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Torg Eternity - Day One Adventure Book
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/18/2022 17:47:32

(if you like see also my review of Torg Eternity Core Rules - in that review I also mention the other Torg Eternity books I will be writing reviews of in case this of any interest to you - particularly in the rather strange cases where no one has bothered to write ANY review about a particular Torg Eternity book - I guess people are busy? :) .. also edit and update, forgot to mention this is 146 pages worth of material which makes it even more of a no brainer given it's a pay what you want title)

Given that this is a pay what you want title purchasing it is a no-brainer... if you're feeling guilty about not being able to afford the recommended price bear in mind that the publisher no doubt intends this to be a "gateway drug" that will encourage you to buy their not pay what you want titles :P .... which I have to commend them on as being an excellent marketing strategy , plus I think it's just plain nice that they list a lot of their titles as pay what you want in addition to this one (my review of the Torg Core rules lists the ones I've come across so far that are pay what you want).

Let's get one thing out of the way ... like all pre-published modules this absolutely will railroad you in one direction as far as the storyline, or as my players used to put it with a chuckle " The plot is thickest over there let's go that way ! " :P ... however if you are running this that means you don't have the time to write up your own original material anyways .. nothing wrong with that plenty of gamesmasters busy with a spouse, kids, work and so forth. If you're in that situation hopefully your players understand and expect that pre-published modules can and will railroad you in a certain direction and cheerfully go along with it on the grounds " Hey at least there's a game we can play it's better than no game at all " ... still, expect to have frank discussions with your players where you shrug your shoulders helplessly and say " Um, not sure what to do here since the guy who wrote this adventure didn't expect you guys to do that .. any chance you guys could go this way please? (begs the players for mercy)" ... which in all fairness is a weakness of all pre-published adventures.

Even if you're the kind of gamesmaster blessed with enough spare time to come up with your own original adventures and you sneer at the thought of using some linear pre-published scenario that forces players along a certain direction (I'm not one such gamesmaster but I know of GM's who do fall into that category and nothing wrong with that either) I would argue it's still worth buying and reading this, even if not at full price, simply because it does a great job of giving you a bird's eye view so to speak of what happens to ordinary people and just how badly their lives are disrupted when the dimensional invaders attack and conquer parts of Core Earth... those ordinary people being your players' characters and for the most part the publisher/writers have made it very clear that your average player character or, as they are called in Torg Eternity, Storm Knights, are just your average every day people before the invasion who are changed, sure, they definitely gain advantages that set them above their hapless "average joe/jane" NPC counterparts... but in a lot of ways they're still everyday people who just happen to be thrust into the role of heroes.. there are certain exceptions like the tough as nails New York cop imbedded among the other ordinary people in the Living Land scenario or the team of soldiers in Tharkold but I feel they tend to be the rule rather than the exception... I don't consider that to be a bad thing at all and it encourages the players to be creative and to not just write up some sort of "combat monster here's my version of Rambo" type character.

The adventure comes with pre-generated characters you are expected to run and as another reviewer stated are meant to be introductory adventures that help players get their toes wet as far as the campaign setting and gives them a feel for how the game runs in general... it helps gamesmasters out too, I like how the first scenario you play through (Living Land) flat out drops rules recaps right into the adventure itself which in my opinion is helpful for gamesmasters who haven't quite memorized the Torg rules yet (though honestly if you have the time you're really best off not only reading prepublished adventures in advance but also specifically looking up game rules that will apply to the scenarios in those adventures and writing your own "cliff notes" summaries of said rules so you're prepared in advance). Obviously players who are inclined to do so can write up their own characters instead but the gamesmaster should warn them these sets of characters are "one shot" type PC's who will be good for that adventure only (I dunno, I guess if the players get really attached to their characters they could keep running them in other Torg prepublished adventures? I have yet to read the longer Torg Eternity adventures like "The Fires of Ra" yet so I can't comment as to how well this would work) in that particular cosm/invading dimension (so for example the characters written up for the Living Land wouldn't end up going on to Pan Pacifica after that for the next adventure that would require a brand new set of characters).. which in itself could be fun, write up one set of American characters (whether a "born and bred" American or say a recent immigrant unlucky enough to be in New York when the dinosaurs and their "lizard men" riders invade ) for the Living Land adventures, write up a second set of Japanese characters for the Pan Pancifica adventure, write up a set of Indian characters for the Orrosh adventure and so forth.. but in this case the gamesmaster would need to take careful note of what skills the adventure demands from the PC's in order to move forward (see I warned you there would be railroading) and request that at least one of the PC's is in possession of said skills.

The adventure does hint that any PC's who survive these adventures should show up later on as allies for the "real" PC's the players write up for a long term Torg campaign later on, which I would personally recommend , especially if the players other PC's later on play the appropriate card from the drama deck or the drama deck otherwise dictates help should arrive for the PC's... just make sure the players are okay with you taking possession of and running the PC they were formerly in charge of and be blunt - you'll do your best but there's no guarantee that you will be able to run the PC exactly the same way the player would since the player is the best expert as to how the PC would act (maybe tell the player you're open to suggestions if you have the player's former PC take a course of action the player doesn't think the PC would do and change the former PC's tactics accordingly if this situation comes up).

(edit and update.. it's possible that a gamesmaster might want a map not provided in this adventure ... for example let's say the PC's want to try fighting in the church they're herded into at the cyberpapacy adventure - not the best idea as they would become quickly overwhelmed by the obviously now brainwashed masses but maybe the GM is using some online program like roll20 or fantasy grounds that lets the GM put so many hostile NPC tokens on the map that the players get the hint :P ... in which case they might still want a "battle map" that lets them do a fighting retreat out of the church.. surprisingly enough reddit is a great source of rpg maps, just google search "reddit rpg map church" in a situation like that.. other resources include "bogie-DJ deviant art " if you do a google search for that or " rpgmapshare" )

I enjoyed the Living Land, Pan-Pacifica (formerly known as "Nippon Tech" for old Torg fans like myself) and Orrosh adventures the most ... surprisingly I didn't like the Tharkold and Nile Empire adventures as much and found myself conflicted on the Cyberpapacy adventure not sure if I like or dislike it ... but again the adventures still do a great job of giving the characters a feel for what each invading dimension is like and the "feel" of the invading cosm as far as fighting in and surviving in it. I particularly enjoyed how the Pan Pacifica adventure captured the feel of the whole " Walking Dead" TV series ... the zombies (let's call them for what they are in Pan Pacifica, zombies) and the whole " everyone is doomed and going to die" scenario is something I actually found entertaining ... the gamesmaster is flat out told to do their best to kill off all the PC's as part of the mood and atmosphere of the setting and once you read the adventure even without the Pan Pacifica sourcebook being out yet (which I am now very much looking forward to after reading the Pan Pacifica part of the adventure) you'll see what I mean.. but,again, railroading, SEVERE railroading in the Pan Pacifica case even taking into account the PC's for this scenario are written as one-shot characters... honestly you're going to have to have a frank discussion with the players to the effect of " Look this is a horror-apocalypse kind of adventure where it's pretty much guaranteed everyone is going to die " prior to running the game and seeing how they feel about it.... I suppose a gamesmaster who is willing to put in the time can tweak the adventure such that it's not a certain death sentence for the PC's , particularly if the players object to this type of thing.

It's also worth pointing out that the campaign setting (Torg Core Rulebook) makes it clear the PC's are expected to be heroes, good guys who do the right thing ... for players who want something different it could be fun running a morally grey character (maybe you'll help the Storm Knights, maybe you'll help the dimensional invaders.. which benefits you more? The Reality Choir sourcebook does a fantastic job with this concept for certain factions it details in that book and I strongly recommend grabbing that book, see also my review of it) ... that would involve you deviating from the railroad the adventure sets up but in my opinion it's still do-able (you just don't bother rescuing the innocents screaming for help that pop up along the various adventures in this book ... though this creates the danger of splitting the party if say half of the PC's want to rescue the innocents and the other half don't).

The Living Land does a good job of establishing the "holy crap, dinosaurs and lizard men are invading Manhattan and a lot of people are turning into cavemen what do you do?!?" situation with the PC's having to deal with all sorts of outrageous scenarios such as fighting off an aquatic dinosaur trying to eat their boat and the people on it , dealing with a police chief who's gone primitive and all sorts of other stuff...

Asyle.. meh, I could take it or leave it but you should probably play through it anyways if nothing else so you know what it's like to be adventuring in that cosm. To give credit where it's due the Asyle atmosphere is tough for a writer to pull off, the forces of light and darkness, elves, dwarves, wizards, brave knights , dragons and undead all duking it out in the United Kingdom ... you would think it would make for a great adventure but I feel that there's too much going on , the scope is a little bit TOO broad to the point where you lose focus (which is a criticism I have of the Asyle sourcebook itself when I get around to writing a review on it.. still worth picking up given that Asyle is still a big part of invaded Core Earth) ...

I've already talked about how much I love the Pan Pacifica scenario and why , Tharkold was surprisingly " meh" for me as well, maybe because the whole techno-horror aspect of it is something that lends itself to a longer, drawn out campaign where you spend enough time with the NPC's to care about them when they're rended to bit by the techno-horror reality that dominates in that setting... I guess you could play up the "Mad Max" part of it that they're trying to draw on too but the problem is you're bopping from invading cosm to invading cosm in a typical Torg adventure and, again, you need to spend enough time in Tharkhold to actually care about the horror that's being inflicted upon the hapless NPC's...

The Nile Empire adventures is something that should have been fun with the clinging for dear life by your fingertips to your last hope yet somehow succeeding bravely against impossible odds atmosphere that's supposed to be prevalant in the campaign setting.. the problem here I think is putting everyday ordinary people in that sort of setting when (in my opinion) it really lends itself more to pulp heroes and is actually the one cosm setting where you DO want kick-butt characters.. rather than using the pre-written characters I would definitely tell the players to imagine some everyday person turned pulp hero (with the understanding they're not going to be "super powerful" like say batman or even daredevil, definitely not superman or wonder woman or spider man) and let the Nile Empire transform their PC's into the appropriate pulp hero right there at the start of the adventure - award experience points generously for painfully corny over the top dialogue and speeches and enforce my personal house rule " the law of dialogue" .. the moment you give a dramatic speech (whether hero or bad guy) EVERYONE has to stop and listen to said speech all action grinding to a complete halt ... so in my opinion the Nile Empire scenario is salvagable with some work...

The Cyberpapacy setting is something that you would think would be fun and it has the potential for that.. the problem is that the "big brother dictatorship holy crap they're controlling everyone's very thoughts and feelings" atmosphere is something that you need to spend time on in order to get that full immersion experience ... the way the adventure is written it's kind of thrust on the hapless populace far too quickly to the point where I don't think the full atmosphere of it is really going to sink into the player's minds. I would recommend some tweaking of this adventure ... and be careful here, players with real life religious convictions (I'm one of them) could be sensitive about this ...I'd like to think I'm not and I'm strong enough in my faith not to be too bothered by what's an imaginary scenario at the end of the day (bear in mind too I'm a religious person who actively supports and endorses LGBT rights which in and by itself can be a sensitive topic for players, see below but try to make sure everyone's either on the same page here or at the very least can respect each other's differences without it devolving into a real life shouting match) - if anything I would welcome the chance to play a religious PC who's incensed at the mockery the Cyberpapacy is making of what's supposed to be a faith based on above all else kindness and love of your fellow human beings if you're practicing Christianity properly to begin with,or Islam or Judiasm et cetera for that matter .. but the problem is the adventure doesn't really establish yet just how badly the Cyberpope is twisting his version of "Christianity" into something that's a horrible and terrible perversion of it because this is day one of the invasion and that hasn't been established yet...

.... so one tweak I would recommend is making sure the PC's either are very close to someone who is, or themselves fall into some minority category the Cyberpope will persecute (could be Muslim, Jewish, LGBT) and (months prior to the adventure having started) introduce agitators the PC's are all too familiar with , secret agents of the Cyberpope who have infiltrated France already and are doing their best to persecute said minorities.. the agitators greet the invading cyberpope's forces with obvious glee.. then (quite possibly with the agitators pointing right at the above mentioned minorities and saying " that's them right there") have the minorities rounded up (once they get to the mandatory " lecture to the masses" when PC's and NPC's alike are herded into the Roman Theater ancient landmark mentioned in the adventure) for what the Cyberpope's agents ominously refer to as "re-education" with some smiling cyberpriest talking about how he's going to "save their souls by putting them on the right path".. with it being abundantly clear the goal is conversion therapy (in the case of an LGBT person) and/or brainwashing them into following the Cyberpope's twisted religion with the cyberpriest spouting all sorts of stuff about how " God is in the machine" " Our cybernetic implants will rid you of your impure thoughts", " You will experience the ecstasy of the godnet once you are jacked into it " (the cyberpapacy sourcebook in my honest opinion is a mandatory purchase to run this adventure properly or any Cyberpapacy adventure for that matter) ... I know this is an incredibly controversial step that will probably hit close to home (and have a frank discussion with your players as to whether or not they're comfortable with this) but .. these are all things referred to in the cyberpapacy sourcebook and in my honest opinion are a great way of driving home that the Cyberpope is as the beloved Torg character Quinn Sebastian (see the Torg Core Rules book but us old school Torg fans are familiar with good old Quinn) likes to put it " Hitler in a frock".

I would go so far as to run a little "prequel" that takes place say one month before the "current events" (day one of the invasion) ... go around the table and run a scenario where it's just the one player character, the player character's beloved minority character (or if the PC is the minority the PC him/herself getting harassed) face to face with the Cyberpapal agent (of course they don't know yet it's a cyberpapal agent, agent doesn't have any cyberware or any other obvious give-aways) either pleading with the minority to change their ways " Because the one true god loves you" and/or obnoxiously threatening " the wrath of hellfire will be upon you ! Your soul will burn in eternal dammation" ... even if this agent gets the physical clobbering they deserve (let's assume said agent doesn't get flat out killed if nothing else because it's still core Earth France pre-invasion where that sort of thing results in jail time) assume they recover (if nothing else through - literally - miraculous healing from say reality rated cyberpapal agents) in time to show up during the "Day One" events of the adventure. I'm sure having these smug harassers show up when the riot breaks out in the adventure just in time for the PC's to punch them in the face (quite possibly for a second time if they got a punch one month ago) when the riot mentioned in the adventure breaks out would be immensely satisfying for the PC's. The presence of the agitators/sleeper agents could also make up for the players not using the pregenerated characters for this adventure if the players go that route.. the agitators simply whisper into the cyberpriest's ear who's giving the sermon and the cyberpriest then shows video footage - say from one month ago - of the reactions (probably negative) the PC's had to the agitators via the elaborate 3-D holographic projections the priest is effectively using as his big screen display. To warm the crowd up and make them really hostile to the PC's so they can be more easily "sicced" on the PC's here's another thought..

As written the adventure calls for a riot where some are in support of the cyberpapacy, others are against it and the PC's are right in the middle as the church police streetbeaters bear down on the PC's... bearing in mind that the atmosphere of the Cyberpapacy is supposed to be one of a frightenening totalitarian state (again I refer you to the Cyberpapacy sourcebook) here's another more chilling possibility... this will smack of being an obvious plot device but let's say a first planting gospog crawls out of , I dunno say a sewer somewhere , and starts beating on some hapless child ... you could say that the Cyberpope's darkness device actually took a personal interest here albeit briefly (I would guess even a darkness device has a lot going on to occupy it's attention on day one of a large scale invasion by the cyberpope's forces so it does this one thing then turns it's attention elsewhere - "beginner level" PC's should not have to deal with the full attention of a darkness device!) and triggers the previously inactive gospog (let's say sleeper agents of the cyberpope arranged the bureaucracy in such a way that this gospog's resting place in the sewers wasn't disturbed) to come out and attack this poor kid , beating the child nearly to death before the church police come to the child's rescue (the darkness device is playing the "long game" knowing this sets the populace up to witness a faith healing later on and that the nearby church police will save the child) ... bear in mind that the cyberpapacy sourcebook states that the gospog are basically sent to target the hapless populace so the cyberpapacy's forces look good in the eyes of said populace when they take down a gospog (also bear in mind that if I understand correctly as far as the church police know these monsters are "tools of the devil", "demonic forces", definitely and certainly not minions of their beloved cyberpope! ) ... and this happens right in plain view so everyone, PC's included, see what happens.. let's say this takes place prior to everyone being herded into the Roman Theater ... everyone sees a nun emerge from view where she was hidden from behind the church police desperately tending the child's wounds... some of the church police gently bear the child inside on a stretcher, refusing to let even self proclaimed medical professionals look at the child stating instead " The child will be cared for ... it is the true god's will.. trust us." Cue the cyberpriest doing a literal faith healing , the child's wounds miraculously closing and everyone being able to see it clearly thanks to the aforementioned 3-D projections showing it clearly to everyone and even from a distance people being able to see the child get up and walk around. Describe how everyone watches enraptured, some with tears of joy streaming down their face.. it's clear that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE except for the PC's and any beloved minorities of theirs , just got brainwashed... which would be in keeping with the world laws of the Cyberpapacy if I understand them correctly from the Cyberpapacy sourcebook.

Now here's where the scary part comes in.. the cyberpriest follows this up with the footage of the "heretic " PC's (remember the PC's are either minorities or have just been showing actively supporting "heretic" minorities) ... the cyberpriest denounces the PC's and their loved ones as heretics and suddenly the entire crowd is screaming for the PC's blood plus that of the PC's loved ones. (I know I keep referring to the PC's loved ones - the adventure stipulates the PC's have loved ones who get into trouble and need rescuing). This sets the stage for the PC's running for their lives (the adventure assumes that the PC's loved ones have been herded off elsewhere - personally I'm thinking it's best for the PC's not to even set sight on their loved ones or you'll have players staying put mob or no and their PC's dying to rescue said loved ones)...

Also, I understand that they set it in a village since it literally fits the medieval mindset the Cyberpapacy's dimensional laws support , though I'm disappointed they didn't set it in say a small city next to I dunno a sports arena or something instead of the Roman Colliseum where there's enough technology present and coming under the sway of the godnet to REALLY make things scary for the player characters ... " Big Brother is watching" is a core component of the Cyberpapacy and in my opinion really should have been encouraged... personally I would insert various pieces of technology in the village.. say screens on tripods that were showing re-anactments and dry historical commentary on the historical events the village was famous for (no doubt related to the giant Roman Colliseum the PC's end up in ) ... as the PC's run for their lives the video footage changes to a cheerful cybernun , cybernetic implants and all clearly visible, extorting the PC's from everything with a screen.. including any (now upgraded) cell phones or other devices the PC's are carrying .. to just surrender and accept their fate " because the one true god loves you and your death will cleanse you of your sins"... the cybernun is actually looking right AT the PC's to the point where her gaze follows the PC's whereever they they run, still spouting the same cheerful message about how the PC's should just give up... then insert the mysterious bearded man the adventure refers to (a priest from the cyberpapacy's invading cosm but presumably someone who practices Christianity the way it's supposed to be practiced, with love, kindness and decency - which of course makes him a heretic and the mortal enemy of the cyberpope and his forces) ... in this case the priest has helpers who lob enough tear gas grenades to slow down the mob and the priest rushes the PC's to safety.

As far as the upgrades the priest mentions.. and again this is where the cyberpapacy sourcebook really comes in handy .. remember, the godnet (the cyberpapacy's version of the internet only "better") is literally addictive and stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain.. to really drive home the hopeless totalitarian state of the cyberpapacy and the "good guys are in for tragedy" genre that is so common in cyberpunk (which the cyberpapacy sourcebook mentions you should look to for the general theme and mood of cyberpapacy campaigns)... have the PC's arrive too late... their loved ones just got a neural jack installed, they're now totally addicted to the cybernet, and even worse their loved ones denounce the PC's and do their best to sic the cyberpapacy's forces on them ... though of course the hapless PC's don't know this until it's too late. Maybe the PC's succeed in dragging a kicking and screaming beloved NPC out for "deprogramming" later on when Quinn Sebastian shows up, maybe not.. if you really want to make things tragic any PC who stays put trying to drag a resisting loved one out is overwhelmed by the cyberpapacy's forces with the brainwashed loved one adminstering the final death blow to the PC the loved one used to be so (emotionally) near to... the alternative for PC's who want to survive is to abandon their loved one to the cyberpapacy's forces. Anyways those are my (admittedly long winded) thoughts on how to improve the Cyberpapacy adventure.

I loved the Orrosh setting maybe because we're all fans of the horror genre (oddly enough I found it worked great for the Orrosh and Pan Pacifica setting, not so much for Tharkhold ) .. in my opinion the adventure does a great job of building up dread ... though it's worth noting the Orrosh adventure practically demands you use the pre generated characters that come with it .. or at the very least tell the players if they want to write up their own characters " This is an India wedding in a small village - so you're all from India, one of you is either the bride or the groom, one of you is the best man or the maid of honor, one of you is the priest officiating the wedding, the rest of you are dear friends of the families involved in this wedding and/or family members on either the bride or groom's side" ... so say if someone wants to play an Indian bride but REALLY wants that bride to be a brilliant doctor with dreams of going on to become a medical researcher you can do that, just make it clear that the bride comes from humble village origins (and obviously with the whole invaders from other dimensions thing going on the future career as a PhD or Doctorate medical researcher is going to have to wait )

Despite the criticisms I've noted, in my honest opinion this is still absolutely worth picking up even if you pay far below the suggested selling price (and again if you're feeling guilty remember - gateway drug! :) ... there's a reason the publishers have made it possible to pay less than the asking price). If you pay say one American dollar for it what do you have to lose? As a gamesmaster with the caveats aside I would have fun running this, as a player I would enjoy participating in it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Torg Eternity - Day One Adventure Book
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Torg Eternity - Beta Clearance Player’s Primer
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2022 15:52:02

(apologies, you'll see my reviews for "torg eternity beta clearance player's primer" and " torg eternity beta clearance gm's primer) are almost identical ... this is because I feel the same thoughts and opinions apply to both products which, honestly, should be viewed as two parts of the same whole .. also worth noting the player version of this pdf is 11 pages long)

Honestly I see this more as the publisher saying " Darn it we hit our page limit on the core rules" and then being generous enough to publish this as additional content with a pay what you want price ... if you do purchase at the (admittedly low) suggested price you're basically giving a well deserved (in my opinion) tip to the publisher for being nice about it ... on the other hand if you've already purchased the core rules (which you probably have or else you wouldn't be looking to buy this) I would argue you can safely buy this at some ridiculously low price and just spend the saved money on one of the torg eternity cosm sourcebooks which I would argue are absolutely mandatory in order to properly run a good Torg Eternity campaign and enjoy the campaign setting the way it was meant to be enjoyed.. or just put it towards one of their prewritten adventures like say " Day One " or " The Fires of Ra" if you're a fan of prepublished adventures or simply don't have the time to write your own.

Basically this book expands on the role of Beta (as well as Alpha, Gamma and Delta and Omega) clearance which are basically descriptions of the PC's "levelling up" in terms of how much experience points they gain and the advantages of getting to the next "level" in game terms /// either gear or other advantages you can purchase from the ever-present Delphi Council ... which raises the interesting question of what happens if the player characters say " forget you Delphi Council we're going off on our own " .. or one of those ranks being a prerequisite to certain new perks described in this sourcebook .. the perks and the new gear part were a fun read for me..

Also very fun for me to read as a fan of the original Torg books from the 1990's was the in game description of exactly what happened to Quinn Sebastian (who is referred to very often throughout all the Torg books not the least of which is Torg Core Rules) ... basically his experience point total went off the charts after fighting the High Lords of his "universe" (for lack of a better phrase) to the point where he was able to literally "jump universes" , travelling to one (the one the campaign is set in) where the High Lords have more or less just begun their invasion and he can provide much needed advice and guidance having in effect " seen it all before " in the mostly similar universe he just came from.. or to put it another way imagine your Torg Eternity campaign reaching it's conclusion and then having one player character "jump" over to an entirely different Torg campaign that's starting from the very beginning and providing guidance to the PC's having to deal with all of this for the very first time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Torg Eternity - Beta Clearance Player’s Primer
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Torg Eternity - Beta Clearance GM's Primer
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2022 15:51:17

(apologies, you'll see my reviews for "torg eternity beta clearance player's primer" and " torg eternity beta clearance gm's primer) are almost identical ... this is because I feel the same thoughts and opinions apply to both products which, honestly, should be viewed as two parts of the same whole .. also worth noting the gm's primer version is a 13 page long pdf)

Honestly I see this more as the publisher saying " Darn it we hit our page limit on the core rules" and then being generous enough to publish this as additional content with a pay what you want price ... if you do purchase at the (admittedly low) suggested price you're basically giving a well deserved (in my opinion) tip to the publisher for being nice about it ... on the other hand if you've already purchased the core rules (which you probably have or else you wouldn't be looking to buy this) I would argue you can safely buy this at some ridiculously low price and just spend the saved money on one of the torg eternity cosm sourcebooks which I would argue are absolutely mandatory in order to properly run a good Torg Eternity campaign and enjoy the campaign setting the way it was meant to be enjoyed.. or just put it towards one of their prewritten adventures like say " Day One " or " The Fires of Ra" if you're a fan of prepublished adventures or simply don't have the time to write your own.

Basically this book expands on the role of Beta (as well as Alpha, Gamma and Delta and Omega) clearance which are basically descriptions of the player characters "levelling up" in terms of how much experience points they gain, game rule mechanics on how to toughen up encounters for "higher level" player characters and typical high lord reactions to the new threat the player characters pose.. I thought the "quick combat" rule .. which I'm guessing should be used in a situation where the PC's are powerful enough to easily make mincemeat of what is now a very "low level" threat to them ... was a fun addition.. it reduces the outcome of the battle for each PC and his/her/their foe to a single skill roll on the PC's part and if the PC is successful the PC gets to narrate how their successful skill roll defeated their opponent as opposed to the longer more drawn out typical Torg battle with all the attendant dice rolling and so forth.

The suggested skill ratings for foes the PC's face depending on their clearance level was also helpful in my opinion.... also a fun read for me was the "year one " review as far as the publisher's declaration of what happened in the various cosms invading Earth after a year's worth of game time.. though as I type this it occurs to me for the first time that a gamesmaster and their players may very well want to reject that and come up with their own version of what happened within that game-time year ... which on the one hand is great, it really customizes the campaign to the player's choices .. on the other hand it could render the campaign incompatible with future Torg Eternity products as the publisher continues to release them since the publisher will build on the assumptions made here (and in their other products - for example the Torg cosm sourcebooks also have a " what happened after a year of game time" section) ... if it helps the players feel better the GM can always point out there are a ton of other Storm Knights (NPC heroes as powerful as the PC's) doing their own thing and affecting the campaign as a result throughout all of Earth.. having said that a wise GM would definitely do their best to alter the "established" campaign timeline accordingly if the PC's pull off some epic event that can, and should, have repercussions throughout the entire world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Torg Eternity - Beta Clearance GM's Primer
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Living Land: Wars of Religion
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2022 15:32:33

At the extremely low price ... plus a pay what you want option so you can pick it up for practically free.. purchasing this is pretty much a no-brainer... it should be considered to be a companion piece to the Torg Eternity Living Land sourcebook (which is in turn a companion to the Torg Eternity Core Rules book) both of which I've already written reviews for if you're interested in reading them.

This book is 26 pages long but it's a really, really good (in my opinion anyways) 26 page read ... the religion of the invaders of North America is a huge , one might say primary driving force in their lives... the spirit axiom is the highest of all the invading realms, definitely more so than earth's, to the point where even your average ordinary layperson (whether an invading edeinos "lizard man" or say a transformed human from earth) can easily call upon miracles of faith , something normally reserved for say clergy or in the case of Asyle a crusading paladin or hardened battle-chaplain from Orrosh in other invading realities (cosms).

So this book.. which does a number of things but, among them, gives a more in depth analysis of the religion of the Living Land and the role two major deities, Lanala and Rek Stalek, play in it ... as well as High Lord Barak Kaah's role in said religion as basically the high priest of the edeinos as well as their leader.. is a welcome addition to the Living Land material. As well the author discusses in great deal the social and spiritual axioms, it's impact on the Living Land, and suggestions on the concrete effects this has on game play.

There's a very intriguing discussion as to the potential consquences for the infiniverse whether Barak Kaah wins or loses in his stated goal (see below) which plays into the role his darkness device and the primal forces of destruction and creation (the Nameless One ... creator of the darkness devices that give the invading High Lords their power... and Apeiros, respectively as described in the Torg Core Rules book) and the consquences for the infiniverse itself ... what I found particularly intriguing is the author's proposal to actuall HELP Barak Kaah acheive his dream of becoming the lover and equal of the deity Lanala (something Barak Kaah is actively pursuing as mentioned in the original Living Land sourcebook ) and it potentially turning out in a way that defeats and potentially even traps the darkness device and causes Kaah to basically leave Earth and stop causing problems for it.

The book also gives a detailed description of the social structure of the invading edeinos tribes as influenced by the axioms and suggestions as to how the player characters can get involved in said social structure in terms of befriending tribes and (shockingly) possibly even allying with Kaah in terms of helping him acheive his goal (see above). Even if everything the author suggests isn't necessarily your cup of tea at the very least the author still gives you a lot to think about and there's a wealth of useful material in here that any gamesmaster worth their salt can mine. The new perks and miracles described in the last two pages of the book were also an interesting read but I was far more interested in the "world building" part of the book .. the detailed analysis of the society and inner working of the Living Land if you will.

In summary I view this as a must-buy for the Torg Eternity campaign setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Living Land: Wars of Religion
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The Reality Choir
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/11/2022 21:50:54

I'll probably be adding more to this review as time goes on and I have a chance to organize the notes I took (yes I literally took notes the product is that good :) ) ... but basically this is an absolute must-read for anyone who's a fan of Torg Eternity and I would go so far as to argue it's an absolutely essential purchase if you're going to be gaming in the Torg Eternity setting ... and given that the author has generously made it a pay what you want title purchasing it is an absolute no-brainer. I am guilty of paying less than the suggested price between a combination of university expenses for the two kids (it's pricey... very, very pricey) and my guilty desire to get a hold of this book but I will absolutely be making a note to myself to purchase another copy of this at the price I should have paid in the first place... years from now when the kids are out of school.. when it probably won't do the poor author any good :( ... but if you can afford the asking price it is absolutely, positively worth it.

Here's the reason I'm gushing with praise after having read the whole thing (and you get a LOT for your money, even when you leave out the table of contents and cover page it's roughly 160 pages of high quality material) ... I'm a long time fan of Torg from waaaaay back when they first released the game in the 1990's and I am thoroughly enjoying the updated version that Ulisses Spiele has released ... but (and this is something I will be addressing when I finally get around to reviewing the Torg Eternity cosm sourcebooks I am currently in the process of reading) ... given the page limits the publisher has to deal with in order to make the books financially viable (I'm guessing anyways) ... there's a lot of good quality content in the "official" Torg Eternity sourcebooks, a lot of "meat and bones" to give any gamesmaster worth their salt all the tools they need to run a viable, fun game... but then you have the people like me who are overly needy and demanding and want more :)

I'm going to talk about a completely different publisher and product here and I will explain why I am doing that afterwards... the Iron Kingdoms campaign setting was originally released for the third edition version of Dungeons and Dragons... the Iron Kingdoms World Guide book was 402 pages long, and maybe at most 2 percent of that dealt with crunchy rules oriented type stuff... the rest was just pure campaign setting, a lovingly detailed rendition of what the Iron Kingdoms world was like, the countries within it and the details of the cities within, the organizations, long entries on the legal system and barter and trade.. I freaking loved that book. Not all RPG'ers are like me, so very, very focused on the role playing, immersing yourself in the campaign world side of things ... there are players who are more interested in treating the RPG like a video game of sorts instead and there's nothing wrong with that at all, there are a million different ways to approach an RPG and a million different RPG groups that find that particular way that works for them.

But if you're someone who's looking for that "immersion" part .. a detailed account of exactly WHAT'S going on in the world of Torg Eternity that focuses less on "crunchy rules stuff" and more on that sort of loving detail (which I'm sure the Torg Eternity writers would have included if it wasn't for the fact that it would probably balloon their page count to something crazy like 300 pages instead of 160 for a Torg Eternity cosm sourcebook - which as mentioned is something the publisher probably cannot afford to do and still make a profit) ... then this is the book for you. I fell in love with the writer's exposition of exactly how the various intelligence agencies in different countries reacted to the invaders and the interaction between all of them and the invading cosms... which of course meant that the writer had to go into detail about how the invaders have affected the politics of Earth as well as the efforts of various intelligence agencies (think America's CIA only bigger ) to deal with Earth in a wartime setting with invaders from other dimensions literally transforming parts of Earth into "their turf"... and it's a fascinating read.

Having said that the part at the end that is "crunchy" in a sense in that it gives you a well written "mission generator" for intelligence agencies that provides a tremendously helpful starting point for a gamesmaster looking to create adventures for his players was also well done in my opinion.... I know there are gamesmasters who will literally create adventures "on the fly" making things up on the spot if the players "jump" in some totally different direction the gamesmaster wasn't anticipating and in a situation like that this would be tremendously helpful for such a gamesmaster to quickly flip through... personally I prefer a gamesmaster who tells his players " guys I really wasn't expecting you to go in this direction.. I can write something up for it but we need to call it a night and meet back next week when I have something for you" (assuming you are blessed with a GM who has that sort of spare time in the first place and it's completely understandable if the GM does not) but even in a situation like that this gives a GM like that an excellent starting point. There's some fun rules in there too for new gear and new perks which are well suited to intelligence agencies which were also very well written in my opinion but to me the best part was that "world immersion" that the author so expertly crafted ... what's going on politically in the world of Torg Eternity.

In my ignorance I had to look up what the "Torg Infiniverse Exchange" logo meant on the cover... if I understand correctly, the publisher of Torg Eternity has made the very wise decision of letting writers outside of the publisher (Ulisses Spiele ) write stuff for Torg Eternity ... honestly I think this book is so good it should have been included as an official Torg Eternity product and in the highly unlikely event Ulisses Spiele is reading this :) (not so much that they don't care and more so because they are busy cranking out a ton of material for Torg Eternity, which I applaud them for.. I've only read a few titles but super impressed at what I've read so far) ... guys you need to officially hire the author on to write other books for you, I'm serious :) ..

If I typed every single thing here that the author mentions in his book this review would drag on even longer than it already has (and apologies for that I know it's a gigantic wall of text) but some things that really caught my eye

  • The Shield of Atlas, the mercenary organization that is more interesting in profiting off the possibility wars than they are in saving the world and the hilarious (in my opinion) reference to Shield from a large publisher of comic books I shall not name here for fear of copyright infringement but it's still funny as all heck :) .. particularly the flying headquarters/combat air vehicles they use courtesy of their alliance with a wierd science Nile Empire bad guy/genius (which shows right there just how mercenary they are to begin with) ..

  • the long game the Cyberpapacy is playing to win the hearts and minds of the parts of Earth they haven't claimed by transforming it to their reality/dimension yet ... well written, fascinating stuff that melds perfectly with how politics would work in "real life Earth" if a sneaky yet undeniably evil presence that the Cyberpapacy was in play

  • the Federation of Saladin ... I was delighted to see writing about Islam-dominant countries that goes beyond the Hollywood trope of "they're all terrorists who want to blow up the USA and convenient bad guys we can plop into our storyline because we're too lazy to come up with a more nuanced bad guy instead"... yes the writer addressed the terrorist factions (and if you know anything about Islam these terrorists are NOT Muslims in any sense of the word no matter how much they insist they are - it's a perversion of the faith, just as twisted as the "holy crusades" centuries ago with the looting, pillaging and so forth that no right minded Christian would ever in a million years view as a Christian thing - yet it was touted as a "Christian " thing back then despite being the complete opposite of it ) .. but the writer also includes the Muslims who are doing their best to control the terrorist factions who want to take control of the Federation of Saladin and who are far more concerned about rescuing the Muslim populations who have been endangered by the Possibility Wars

  • an extremely in depth look at the Delphi Council , more detailed than what you'd find in the Torg Living Land sourcebook (which contains most of the Delphi Council "official" info from Ulisses Spiele as far as I can tell) that reads as a finely written love letter to the Delphi Council in Torg Eternity... really good stuff

  • the Earth Defense Force , founded in part over a misunderstanding that is both cosmicly funny and also tragic... fans of the original Torg books from the 1990's are very familiar with Quinn Sebastian... as Ulisses Spiele has officially established, Quinn survived the possiblity wars detailed in the 1990's and "jumped infiniverses" over to the one detailed in Torg Eternity taking place today in the 2019's onwards or what have you (not sure what year it's officially supposed to be - I suspect Ulisses Spiele have deliberately left this vague so Torg Eternity GM's can set it in whatever year they like but it's probably going to be a modern one that takes into account the technology of today) .. and has been lending his expertise from having fought through his version of the possiblity wars to the defenders of earth in this infiniverse.. basically, the unconquered parts of Japan, China and Korea got wind of this.. but not the entire story, all they know is that Quinn is from another dimension... just like (to them anyways) the dimensional invaders... now they're convinced the Delphi Counci is compromised and have founded their own "Earth Defense Force", convinced they are now humanity's only hope. Beyond the funny/tragic part the Earth Defense Force is enormously well written too.

And just because I've given you highlights from the book doesn't mean I've completely given away the book's contents either (and I hope the author will forgive me for taking the liberty of doing so).. the reason I mention these things is to get you hooked on the fascinating concepts in this book so that you'll actually buy it and read about those concepts in greater detail which this book absolutely does ... in addition to going into far greater detail into these (and other) agencies , the author also talks about the interaction (often hostile or at least a "cold war" sort of situation though there are other instances where they ally with each other too ) of all these agencies in various "fields of operation" .... different regions of earth , both the areas conquered by the dimensional areas and the areas that are still (so far) free.. and it's a fantastic read.

If you've made it to the end of this long review thank you for reading all of that :) .. and I honestly hope I have convinced you by now to buy this book... to the author, you've truly crafted a work of art here in my humble opinion.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Reality Choir
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Torg Eternity - Dancing on Needle Tips
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/03/2022 20:00:17

I am now regretting my complaint in the discussion thread about it only being 9 pages long (well really 8 pages if you exclude the cover art, which is really cool and all but of course doesn't have any text in it). For one thing I didn't stop to think about the publisher generously giving a "pay what you want" offer for the "Day One" sourcebook which is a whopping 146 pages worth of material ... also ruins of the living land is a respectable 34 pages and also falls into the "pay what you want" category... technically so is " Up the Creek" at 16 pages but.. well I'll get into that on my review of Up the Creek once I've had a chance to finish reading it but I have some thoughts on that one. Given that you co

While you should really consider this to be an 8 page supplement, they do pack a lot of useful information and an intriging scenario into those 8 pages so in my opinion it's well written. Given the importance of the events covered - as the product description states " Decide the fate of the Paris Hardpoint, and potentially drive a wedge between The Church and their most powerful minions! " I really do feel more than 8 pages should have been devoted to it... I'm aware not everyone has the time to write up their own original adventure material (or else you probably wouldn't be looking at this pre published adventure right now to begin with :) ) but if you do have the time the adventure would definitely benefit from "filler material" leading the Storm Knights from wherever they are to the Paris Hardpoint to begin with, more stuff that happens while they're at the hardpoint (though it's worth noting what happens there is pretty big and has major consequences for the campaign such that I can see why the major focus is on the decision that rests with the players.. still some minor "filler" events to go along with it would have been appreciated).

I also wish the "People to Meet" NPC section had stats for said NPC's too.. yes it's true the TORG core rulebook says that you don't need to give every single NPC statistics and given the huge scope of the game world - not only do you have Core Earth to deal with but also 7 invading realms, each one their own individual world - I can see why they would say that. Still, call me old school but it makes me nervous to have to make do with what's essentially just a verbal description of NPC's the PC's may end up interacting with even if just through social skill roll checks. If you have the time you're probably best up writing up stats for them as well .. though in all fairness even with the much longer Burden of Glory adventure you have three NPC's right off the bat with no stats... also in all fairness with both supplements the NPC's the PC's are most likely to engage with in combat have statistics.

One nice thing about this adventure is all the material you need to run it is included in the TORG Eterntity Core Rules book ... having said that I find myself suspecting that if you had the Cyberpapacy sourcebook it would help , if nothing else I'm guessing there's material in that sourcebook you could toss into this adventure to help further flesh it out. This is pure speculation on my part since I haven't yet purchased the Torg Eternity Cyberpapacy sourcebook.. I do remember the aged but still respectable original Torg Cyberpapacy from West End Games being a thoroughly enjoyable read decades ago so I find myself thinking the Torg Eternity version of it would be a great purchase too... I'm certainly very impressed with the TORG Eternity revamp of the original TORG rules.

My apologies for not going into more detail on the events within the adventure itself but ... that would just ruin the adventure for any players reading this review .... for TORG gamesmasters however I can say that I would recommend this as a purchase albeit with some reservations given that the adventure is only 8 pages long.

EDIT AND UPDATE - BUT PLAYERS DON'T READ THIS OR YOU'LL RUIN THE FUN FOR YOURSELF !

It's occurred to me a review really doesn't do that much good if you don't go into the details the adventure covers .. so I will just take it on faith that players will not spoil it for themselves by reading this :)

The dilemma the adventure poses is this - Paris's Effiel Tower is the largest known hardpoint on Core Earth and is of enormous strategic importance to the Core Earth resistance against the Cyberpapacy... the player's actions determine if this hardpoint decides - needless to say if it goes down this is an enormous blow to Core Earth and the resistance against the Cyberpapacy. The players are faced with a moral dilemma... a Host (think artificial intelligence "angel", very powerful force fields and lasers and a hologram of it's angelic "facade" ... Cyberpapacy version of an angel basically) is having a "moral dilemma".. played out properly the players could turn not only this Host but potentially ALL Cyberpapacy Hosts against the Cyberpapacy dealing a major blow to the Cyberpapacy... but if events play out that way you lose the Eiffel Tower.. so it's hard choice time... some players might appreciate the grim realistic sense of "the world isn't a nice place" and being forced into such a choice, really it depends on how your gaming group and gamesmaster approaches this sort of thing... personally I tend towards the "nice gamesmaster who "tilts" things towards the heroes being the champions of the story" sort of gameplay which would incline me when playing this out to let the players have their cake and eat it too... perhaps with clever word play some good skill rolls and/or appropriate drama deck cards working in the player's favor the players get to save the Eiffel Tower AND turn the Hosts on the Cyberpapacy.

Basically the Host has become aware of a plan to summon a demon summoned by a cyberwitch who is apparently sympathetic to the cyberpapacy (!?!), said demon inhabits the Eiffel Tower and turns it into a twisted monstrosity that battles the Host - which leads the Host to conclude it's assumptions were correct and all Hosts turn against the Cyberpapacy but you lose the Eiffel Tower which is completely trashed after it's possession... or the heroes stop the cyberwitch from being able to cast the rituals that turn the Eiffel Tower into an "attack monster" but the Host then comes to the conclusion that it was tricked by the Delphi Council information it received when things don't turn out the way the Host intended and the Host attacks the player characters. Added complication - there's someone within the Cyber Police force permanently stationed outside the Eiffel Tower resistance to keep an eye on the resistance and that someone is part of the plot to animate the Eiffel Tower causing the Cyber Police to storm this Core Earth stronghold and demolish it.

So a lot of cool, interesting stuff going on here but it could use some fleshing out if nothing else in terms of a good backstory for the cyberwitch... WHY is she sympathetic to the Cyberpapacy? And also why is this witch's cabal sympathetic to the Cyberpapacy? I suppose if anyone's good at brainwashing it would be the Cyberpapacy but why wouldn't the Cyberpapacy just burn the cabal at the stake? Then again while the Cyberpapacy is to the best of my knowledge fanatical in nature, the cyberpope (at least based on my memory of the old TORG West End Cyberpapacy material) can be completely hypocritical if it furthers his own personal ends, all the while convinced he's following the "holy path" in his twisted crazed mind... perhaps the cyberpope personally intervened? It's something the gamemaster should give some thought to and perhaps even turn into a future game session for curious player characters to investigate further if the players are so inclined. Sadly I have not purchased the Torg Eternity cyberpapacy sourcebook so the best I can do here is speculate but I find myself wondering if purchasing it would help with this adventure (and honestly it's on my wishlist of books to purchase anyways, I was blown away by just how good the West End version was in the 1990's and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing Torg Eternity's update to this book).

Also , my personal gaming style would to be a bit more flexible ... an ideal situation would be to save the Eiffel Tower but give the player characters a chance to reason with the Host and appeal to it's programming (maybe if the gamesmaster has some extra time and can work in the additional background material the cyberwitch has hard physical evidence on her - orders from the cyberpope himself maybe in say a cybernetic implant in her brain the Host can tap into ... the cyberwitch doesn't have to be alive for this if the PC's took her down I imagine her corpse would do )... ideally a PC from the Cyberpapacy could be made aware of this through say hacking the cyberwitch's implant but otherwise making that info available to the Storm Knights could work too ... or alternately if the Eiffel Tower gets possessed let a PC who can work magic pull off some amazing magical stunt that not only drives the possessing demon out but restores the Tower to normal - the Host still comes to the conclusion that it's original assumptions were correct and it's a win-win. Again I tend towards an optomistic "the heroes can do it all! " approach that might not be for everyone but some points to ponder.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Torg Eternity - Dancing on Needle Tips
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Torg Eternity - Living Land - Burden of Glory
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/03/2022 14:16:53

This is a 20 page prepublished torg adventure module... I'm going to comment once again on how kind it is of the publisher to make this a "pay what you want" item ... personally I would run the "Day One" adventures (also very kindly marked as a pay what you want item by the publisher) first since this adventure seems to be intended to be run one year "game time" after the campaign starts though, as always, it's your campaign there's nothing that should stop you from running it early if you have a personal reason for this to take place earlier than planned.

WARNING, SPOILERS FOLLOW, IF YOU'RE A PLAYER DON'T READ THIS IT WILL JUST RUIN THE ADVENTURE FOR YOU !!!! The adventure does a great job of forcing the player into hard decisions since they're faced with three important things but there's no way you can pull off all three missions, you have to choose between them ... I suppose a kind gamesmaster could just hand wave it and let the player characters pull all three goals off - it really depends on the gamemaster's personal style and his/her gaming group... of course you risk ticked off players grumbling about exactly WHY or HOW COME they couldn't do all three things... you could just say all three events are taking place at or close to the same time but still from a player point of view I can see how this would get annoying. I'll be honest, even at the cost of enforcing realism in the spirit of hard choices (which in and by itself is a respectable goal) I tend to be a kind hearted GM and would personally probably let the players pull off all three goals despite the adventure stating otherwise but, again personal choice.

You can uproot a stelae which as TORG fans will know is a big deal, every one uprooted is a major victory for the "good guys" ... if you don't head for the stelae and deal with it right away basically it's mission failure - if you take care of the temple first (see below) it gives the Living Land's darkness device time to implant a back-up stelae... again personally I would "hand wave" this and let characters who investigate the temple first have a shot at taking out the stelae but just make it more difficult than normal (the tyranosaur's mate shows up there too , more redjaw edinos, if you're feeling particularly cruel TWO ravagons are there) and let the players know that going to the temple first gave the darkness device time to send in said reinforcements... they still have a chance to take out that stelae, reclaim that portion of land for core earth from the invaders and you still have the sense of "realism" going on in terms of consequences to the player actions.

I loved the temple (goal two) part not only due to it being an Orrosh zone (strange but true, you should have already purchased and read the TORG core rules and if you've read them then you know that nightmare trees from Orrosh can and will just plop themselves down into other cosms allowing for the nightmare reality to hold sway in unexpected places outside of say India (where Orrosh has invaded and the nightmare reality holds sway) for example.... but also loved it due to the call-out to the Akashans whom us old school TORG fans from the 1990's West End game publisher material are very familar with... the publisher is still crowdfunding the Pan Pacifica (TORG Eternity version of Nippon Tech) sourcebook so I'm guessing Akashan source material is way into the future but I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing how the publisher handles the human like space aliens with super advanced biotech (and the horrible secret and threat they bring with them if they keep that on from the original published material). The "beetle-guys" the player characters have to fight brought back fond memories as well and I'm sure they will be discussed in greater detail in upcoming Akashan material just as they were in the original 1990's TORG material.

And then there's goal three, defend the brave Core Earthers and their base in the Living Land from edinos attackers and their pet dinosaur... technically according to the adventure if you go for both the temple and the stelae you don't get back in time and automatic victory for the edinos attackers.. personally I would let the player characters make it back in time even if they went after the aforementioned previous two goals first (maybe throw reinforcements on the edinos side the players have to deal with and let them know it's a consquence of dealing with the other goals first) but GM's and gaming groups who prefer a more hard-edged "realistic" approach may not be a fan of this and appreciate the making the hard choices things and bleak consequences that take place if you pick one goal and not the other...

The adventure mentions that the player characters should automatically fail the remove the stelae goal if the gaming session in "real life" is about to end and they don't make a last ditch effort to pull everything off in time... while on the one hand the sense of urgency this creates due to timing definitely reinforces the "life is hard" realism sort of thing that certain GM's and gaming groups would appreciate, I'm personally inclined to show mercy to the players and simply pick things up where you left off last gaming session.. it's true it can create a certain sense of anti-climax if you're doing this incredibly dramatic stuff and it isn't resolved within a single game session but it also lets you mine the adventure for multiple gaming sessions and heads off potential player annoyance if your players prefer for life in the campaign not to be that "hard edged". Again it's a personal choice for your gamesmaster and gaming group..

Personally I'm not a fan of the "Sunset" orrosh card at the temple goal automatically causing the players to flat out lose out on being able to pursue either of the two remaining goals if they go for the temple first.. yes I know that "all is lost" sense of doom and gloom is very much in line with the Orrosh reality/cosm but I'm wincing just imaging the players grinding their teeth and snarling " So you're telling us we can't do it because of this stupid CARD that was just played?!?" .. ... and yes I know the cards have a major effect on gameplay anyways and I'm normally a big fan of that but this seems a bit cruel even by Orrosh standards. I would personally try to brainstorm some other horrible thing happening because it's "sunset"... maybe zombies (zombified humans and edinos who died there - maybe victims of the Horrorsaurus rex mentioned in the adventure and said rex alternates between eating a zombie and attacking a player character... then tell the player characters they can stay and fight ... or try and run past these shambling monstrosities towards the goals they still haven't fulfilled or the goals automatically fail due to lack of time (and you can bet the Horrorsaurus rex will be pursuing them all the while - it could actually be a fun addition to say uprooting the stelae or defending the core eather stronghold with the Horrorsaurus rex alternating between attacking the good guys and attacking the bad guys ).

Again this is all just a matter of personal preference rather than criticisms... overall I thought it was a fun, solid well written adventure and it was very kind of the publisher to make it a pay what you want item to boot ... definitely worth picking up whether at the recommended purchase price or less than that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Torg Eternity - Living Land - Burden of Glory
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