I’ve always wanted to do an LP. And I always wanted to host it on this blog, if for no other reason then to give me a reason to actual update this thing on a regular basis and not my current “whenever I feel like/remember it’s here” approach I have right now. But I’ve been stuck for a long time on deciding all the possible elements of style I want to do. Do I want to do a video or text based one? Do I want to do a comic relief idiot LP or an informative one? Do I want to play a game I hate or a game I love? Should I play a game I’ve never heard of or played before, or a game I know so well I can play it in my sleep (and occasionally wake up to discover that’s what I’ve been doing.) I gave it a lot of thought and decided that I’m actually really over the whole caustic critic and angry, rage-filled nerd thing. That inside me I’m more passionate and excited about something I love over something I hate. On top that while it’s possible to enjoy a bad movie, there are actually very few games that posses an “it’s so bad it’s good” quality to them. The fact that games are interactive means you can’t just sit back and laugh at the terribleness, you have to be engaged and that means putting up with sluggish controls, broken gameplay, and frustratingly brainless AI. I’m neither a sadist nor a glutton for punishment, so if I’m going to subject hours of my life playing a game, recording footage of screenshots of it, and delivering my experience in an enjoyable fashion, it damn skippy be something I actual like. And unless you have some kind of rare mental condition that creates an intense inability to read blog titles, you already know the game I decided on so without further ado I give you my favorite game of all time; Planescape: Torment.
You may have heard of Planescape: Torment. You may have heard of the small but passionate cult following it attracted it declaring it to be the pinnacle of story-telling in an interactive format. You may even be one of those people. If you’re not one of those people, then this is for you. Planescape: Torment is set in the unfathomably awesome Planescape setting, the last official published campaign setting by TSR for old school AD&D back in the dawn of time (circa 1993). It’s an awesome and outlandish setting brought to life by increadible art work by Tony DiTerlizzi (click his name for his website) and intelligent, philisophical and through-provoking themes and ideas that created a capital “M” mature world for a game that is usually about slaying unquestioningly evil necromancers.
Any PC gamer worth his salt better know this one. Black Isle was a big name back in the 90’s and was responsible for a little title I’m sure you’ve heard of called Fallout. They worked closely with the cRPG titan BioWare to create several D&D games using the Infinity Engine. They were also a subsidiary of Interplay, another oldschool publishing giant that sputtered and died out in 2003, with Black Isle being one of those unfortunate enough to get caught up in Interplay’s death spasms. You can find many of it’s key figures today working at Obsidian, another cRPG company that tends to get looked over by BioWare and Bethesda.
It may have been out of print for two decades now, but this is still the system that many a veteran at the table top swears by to this day. AD&D is the longest running iteration of D&D, having a wealth of awesome support by the now long defunct TSR, and the second edition alone had half a dozen awesome campaign settings, including Planescape and Dark Sun. Because of it’s long run AD&D supports a lot of rules and mechanics that are horribly out of date, such as randomly generated character statistics, critical fails, and a lack of any kind of unified game mechanic. Planescape: Torment uses AD&D’s second edition as a basis for its rules, and while the computer will handle most of the work for us behind a digital DM’s screen, to those new to the hobby and uninitiated in the old ways we will see a couple of things that don’t make any sense like negative Armor Class being a good thing and something called THAC0.
You’ve said a lot here, but you haven’t said a damn about what this game is about.
Oh right, sorry about that. We’re going to be playing as a horribly scarred, dreadlocked, cave-man looking amnesiac who also happens to be immortal. The entire game revolves around this mystery and we’ll be piecing together the life of our nameless protagonist to discover the truth of his curse. There is no evil bad guy to beat, instead it is an introspective journey of one very unusual man. Imagine if Memento were a video game, only we have the power to eventually will people out of existence.
That sounds cool, but what makes this game so special?
Planescape: Torment follows the tradition of it’s setting by tracking down every single tired, cliched, convention about fantasy RPG’s and buries them 50 feet in the Arizona desert. There are no elves, dwarfs, wizards, or dragons. Our protagonist is an ugly-looking brute instead of a mopey, pretty-boy, there are no swords or conventional fantasy weapons of any sort, we use magic tattoos instead of armor, and the most important stat is the one that has no mechanical combat benefit what so ever. Speaking of combat there’s hardly any, our nature as an immortal means we can never actual die, and it has mountains of dialogue that pose more of a threat than any fight will ever be.
This all makes Planescape: Torment a very divisive game, if you ask someone who loves Torment to make a list of all the things they love about this game, and ask another person who hates it to make a list of all the reasons why they hate it, you’ll find yourself with two copies of the same list. Torment never sold all that well when it came out, because it went against the dungeon-crawling celebration of clicking known as Diablo II.
This is still an Infinity Engine game, so will there be companions/romances?
Hell yes there are companions and they are all awesome.
– Morte: A floating, wise-cracking skull is our first companion. Somehow manages to be the most normal of the bunch.
– Dak’kon: This githzerai zerth is a long way from home and can’t go back. We can play storytime with him to get new spells.
– Annah-of-the-Shadows: Our first romanceable companion is a fiery tiefling gutter-rat with a horrible attitude and OH GOD THAT ACCENT.
– Ignus: This wizard bit off more than he could chew and is now condemned to being a living conduit to the elemental plane of fire. Naturally only casts fire spells.
– Fall-From-Grace: The second romanceable companion is a chaste Lawful Neutral succubus. Is the only priest in the whole game.
– Nordom: A bat-shit insane robot/tv monitor. We’ll already have one Fighter/Thief by the time we get to him but we’ll keep him around because he’s voiced by Dan Castellaneta.
– Vhailor: This guy is so dedicated to justice that he doesn’t’ let a little thing like death keep him down. The beefiest fighter in the whole game is a pain to get to and oddly enough makes the ending harder.