As my freshman year of high school was set to begin, a friend asked if I wanted to play D&D. It sounded fun, so, during our lunch breaks at band camp we gathered on the floor of the music file room and that’s where I first stepped foot into a dungeon, failed a saving throw, and wondered just how a poor first-level wizard was expected to live at all with a mere 1d4 hit points and two measly first-level spells …
Yeah, I guess I could have just said I’m a geek (of various sorts) from way back.
From that early experience — after another friend’s mom assured mine that Dungeons & Dragons wasn’t evil like the preacher-man said — the core of that little bunch of band geeks, along with a couple non-band misfits, forged lasting friendships through further games of D&D, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and some superhero RPGs whose names I forget.
Then came Torg.
Quirky even by the standards of early ’90s RPGs, the game blew our minds with its massive, globe-spanning living campaign world of mixed realities, and we began a campaign that would last the best part of the next decade, before life pulled us in separate directions as young adults.
By then, of course, I had experimented, as one does, in college. I dabbled with more D&D, scored some Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game, even rode the wild pony Paranoia.
(During those years I was also nursing the beginnings of a serious board-gaming addiction, but one story at a time.)
Mostly I played, but I ran a brief Torg game of my own in college, amid the hazy blur of board game nights, RPG-board game hybrids like Kobolds Ate My Baby!, as well as HeroQuest and Warhammer Quest (and probably some others whose names I forget but probably end in “Quest”).
I even messed with Magic: The Gathering, and I would later go on to score some 7th Sea, and vie with the vice of Vampire: The Masquerade.
Nothing ever topped Torg in my heart, however. Part of it was the game, most of it was my groups of friends — both my old high school chums as well as lifelong new friends made in the dorms at good ol’ VSU: my people — but so much was also just the alluring nature of Torg’s essential essence.
Of course most role-playing games let you indulge in hero fulfillment, but I always felt something was magical about how Torg framed that classic appeal — a few desperate heroes from across our world (and others!) work together in a desperate bid to turn the tide in a losing war. Pure heroism. Sacrifices. Love for each other and reality itself in a bid for the very sake of existence.
And they called themselves Storm Knights.
Oh, I get a tingle just thinking about it. When I look longingly at the set of Torg books on my shelf it is with the same starry-eyed gaze addicts through the ages have cast upon the means of their best highs.
Torg, like so many RPGs before it, eventually folded as a game system. People kept playing, of course, and there are still games going in that original world, groups of Storm Knights fighting a war that may never end.
But now, as with so many Gen X childhood icons, a new edition comes forth into the world.
Torg Eternity keeps the very best of the core of the old game, its heart of heroism, while updating it to the modern world, cleaning up some ’90s-era social anachronisms, and making a few tweaks to what had become a bit of a kludgy ruleset.
And I greet it like Huey Lewis must have looked at the packet in the hands of the dealer who finally answered his request …
Now, these many years later, I gather my friends, and I ask: Are you ready to play?