Planescape: Torment Journal - Day 1

Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 12:09 AM
The Planescape: Torment Journal

Day 01 

From those that know me, they know that I can’t give enough praise for Planescape: Torment. It is a game that some would almost think was made specifically for those that favor the narrative in games over the actual gameplay itself. I am one of the few that strongly believe in the driving force a good story can have in any medium, specifically in video games.

 

Let me put it this way. With most games, the story is determined by the gameplay. For example, let’s take Thief 2 as an example. The levels were made first, and then the story was written to mesh those levels together. “A well created narrative” is not usually one of the defining features you will find on the back of a videogame box.

 

With Planescape: Torment (and a few others, such as the Metal Gear Solid series), the story defines what the game is. The narrative is the reason you play the game. If the story was horrible, you would cease to play it only because the story is the only redeeming feature.

 

Luckily for us, Planescape: Torment has the best videogame story ever created. Period.

 

It helps that it is estimated it has somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 lines of dialogue. In comparison, Hamlet (Shakespeare’s longest play) only had 1,569 lines. And most of them are phenomenally written.

 

Ravel: There is no room for '2' in the world of 1's and 0's, no place for 'mayhap' in a house of trues and falses, and no 'green with envy' in a black and white world.

 

Dak'kon: Endure. In enduring, grow strong.

 

Vhailor: When the injustice is great enough, justice will lend me the strength needed to correct it. None may stand against it. It will shatter every barrier, sunder any shield, tear through any enchantment, and lend its servant the power to pass sentence. Know this: There is nothing on all the Planes that can stay the hand of justice when it is brought against them. It may unmake armies. It may sunder the thrones of gods. Know that for all who betray justice, I am their fate. And fate carries an executioner's axe.

Nameless One: I see.

Vhailor: No, you do not see. Pray you never will.

 

Coaxmetal: Start with a fragment of the enemy. A drop of blood. A crystallized thought. One of their hopes. All of these things tell the way it can die.

 

And these are just a few of the lines.

 

I had finished Dragon Age: Origins (61 hours! Holy crap!) and The Witcher a few days ago, so I have been thinking what to play next. I wanted a good narrative focused game…and then it hit me like a modron being propelled by a mechanus cannon! I’ll play the best narrative oriented game of all time – Torment.

Just playing Torment wasn’t an option, however. I wanted to do something… different. Mostly born out of inspiration from Shadowcatboy’s Let’s Play! thread on SomethingAwful where he practically turns Torment into a book.

 

I’m going to do a journal. Every day I’ll host a bunch of screenshots from the game, explain their context, and maybe say other goodies.

 

So, Day 1 of my Planescape: Torment journal! Let me introduce you to the characters who’ll me joining our merry band:

 

The Nameless One

 

 

“I wonder what it was that made death reject me”.

 

The main character of the game, and whom we express our viewpoints on the Multiverse as well as the plot itself. He was a way for the head writer, Chris Avellone, to express his aggravation at some fantasy tropes and videogame clichés. He was tired of death and loading screens, so he made The Nameless One immortal and turned death into a game mechanic. He was tired of poorly written amnesiac tales, so Torment is a well written story about an amnesiac that barely has a cliché in site.

 

In many ways, The Nameless One is determined by how you play him. You determine his personality and philosophies, a great deal more so than the vast majority of games out there. In an odd twist, you can’t determine a lot of the superficial details about the Nameless One (how he looks, gender, race, not even his name). But more so than any other game, Torment allows you to really forge the Nameless One’s personality and the way he sees things.

 

Morte

 

 

"Oh sure. I'll just swing it with my arms." (When trying to equip him with any weapons)

 

Morte is a floating skull that loves to make witty remarks about anything and everything and loves breasts.

 

Oh, he is also actually funny and acts as the Nameless One’s (ie YOUR) personal tour guide through the Multiverse. He is your closest companion, and probably the closest thing to a real friend the Nameless One actually has.

 

Also, take note that he makes clicking sounds despite the fact he has no tongue.

 

Annah

 

 

"Get yer mitts off, ye dirty wee rat!" (When attempting to remove Annah’s armor from the inventory screen.)

 

“Old Ward. Also known as Wanker City.”

 

A tiefling (half devil) thief, Annah is the only one who is over her head in whole game. After all, most of the characters have either been with the Nameless One in one of his previous incarnations, are well lectured on the ways of the multiverse, are “dead”, or are so crazy that their lives being in mortal danger or not matters naught to them.

 

She is just a simple thief (albeit a damned good one) and circumstances have forced her to accompany this scarred immortal on a quest through the planes to discover his identity. She has no other place to go but to likely oblivion.

 

You almost feel bad for her.

 

Also, customary link to a much finer and *drool* version of her.

 

Dak’kon

 

 

“Endure. And in enduring grow strong.”

 

“When a mind does not *know* itself, it is flawed. When a mind is flawed, the man is flawed. When a man is flawed, that which he touches is flawed. It is said that what a flawed man sees, his hands make broken.”

 

The closest thing to a Gandalf character in the game, Dak’kon is a githzerai. The githzerai were once part of the same race as the githyankai, and both were liberated by the same being, Gith. However, circumstances divided them.

 

What does this mean? This means that Dak’kon is a very devout individual. He is devout to the teaching to Zerthimon. He is devout to his people. He is devout to his hate for githyankai. And more importantly, he is devout to the Nameless One. And his devotion could be his undoing, depending on how much of a bastard you make the Nameless One.  

 

How you treat him also changes his weapon. His feelings towards you will actually change his weapon’s stats and abilities. An interesting take on the Influence System before it was introduced by Obsidian Entertainment (the same guys that made Torment, just under a different company) in Knights of the Old Republic II a good 5 years later.

 

Fall-from-Grace

 

 

“Time is not your enemy, forever is.”

 

Fall-from-Grace is the one character that, maybe even more so than the Nameless One, realizes the dire of his situation. Grace is a succubus, a demon that uses her sexual allure to draw other mortals into hellish servitude.

 

Except Gracse is chaste. Unlike the other succubi, she doesn’t have sex. Period. Also, she is Sensate, an individual that wishes to feel all of the sensations of the Multiverse. There is no one more open minded than a Sensate. Heck, they’ll even willingly experience death (but not without a damned good priest by their side to revive them).

 

Besides Annah, she is also one of the Nameless One’s love interests. Amusing how both of them are devils in their own right, and they are more good aligned than most of the “nicer” races you’ll find in the game.

 

Ignus

 

 

“BUUUUURRRRRRNNNNN.”

 

Hrm, a floathing corpse that is a portal to the plane of fire that is a pyromaniac on steroids. Nothing unusual about that, eh?

 

Oh God. Ignus is insane, and the most evil character who can join your party. I do not lie. To burn things is what he is. He can’t not set someone aflame. He is who he is – a wrecked soul obsessed about fire.

 

But once you find how he got set on his path, and you’ll get all sad panda-like. I promise you.

 

Nordom

 

 

“I think, therefore I am. I think.”

 

So, the Modrons are essentially a race of cubes with four arms and legs that speak in total logic, with a fair use of calculation and logistics for good measure. They are the servants of order, to the extent that emotion has nothing to do with what they do.

 

Except for those that go rogue. Meet Nordom, the origin of some of the quirkiest comic relief in the game. Not to mention he possesses two sentient crossbows. And yes, he is absolutely off of his rocker (but in a totally different direction that Ignus).

 

Vhailor

 

 

"Let my words carry you: JUSTICE is a TEACHER. In your PUNISHMENT, gain STRENGTH. Through your PUNISHMENT, achieve PERFECTION."

 

An animated suit of armor, Vhailor is a Mercykiller, a faction that acts as the Multiverse’s security force. They are totally devoted to justice, and in a way, see everyone as being guilty of something and so all must be punished in some way.

 

 

I’ll be playing with Qwinn’s trio of patchs for Torment: his fixpack, his Unfinished Business, and his Tweaks. This will fix a ton of bugs Torment had, as well as putting in some stuff that was left out.

 

Oh, I’ll also use a Save Editor to give the Nameless One max stats. Yes, this is cheating, but Torment is not about playing. It is about the story. The sooner we skip the bad parts (combat) to get to the good parts (conversation), the better.

 

And that concludes Day 1.