Torg: A Love Letter

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?

2016 Whisky Wind-down, 28: Home is Where the Dice Are

A whisky bottle containing dice sits on a bookshelf. Leaning against it is a filled black dice bag. Foreground: A d6 bearing the 2016 World Dice Day logo. Background: Books in The Vampire Files series, stacked horizontally, topped with a bookworm from the Giant Microbes plush figures collection.

Today’s dram: 13th Colony Southern Corn Whiskey, Limited Release, 2013 Bottling, #621

Today’s tasting notes: This is corn whiskey, distilled to sweet, smooth excellence. I daresay any drinker could enjoy sipping this straight-up, but I allow it is suitable for use in cocktails and would probably go well in a pecan pie. Possible best use? Pour a hefty measure into a good coffee, then add heavy cream for a decadent delight that is ideal on a cold, rainy winter morning.

Today’s thoughts: Yeah, so I didn’t drink this today. More’s the pity. I do know it, though, having consumed all of a bottle I was a gifted a couple of years ago. I enjoyed it to the last drop, then kept the bottle because I liked it and saw a suitable purpose for it as a place to keep some extra dice.

Yes, I have extra dice.

Um, a lot of them, actually. So many, in fact, that I was able to half-fill that bottle using only my extra dice of a particular sub-type (rounded 16mm Chessex d6).

Today is World Dice Day, by the way.

I know that because I’m part of a world-spanning dice-collecting club.

We cool.


It wasn’t always thus.

These days it’s cool to be part of Geek Culture ™, patent-pending, as seen on the big screen, only $19.95 at ThinkGeek …

I’m from a time before that.

I explored my first dungeon with a borrowed d20 in the music file room during lunch break of rookie band camp my freshman year of high school.

I got your cool right here.

I bought my first set of dice* shortly after that session and never looked back.

From that day to this, gamers have been my people.

If I meet someone who makes a reference to rolling a critical fumble and how it got their character killed, I know we’re going to get along.

I mean, yeah, that person could still be a complete asshole in other ways, but we’ve got common ground, and it is drenched with the blood of many critical fumbles.

We are one people.

The people who smile at Stanley Two-Brick, and Wood for Sheep, and so on and so forth.

The people who judge a home on how it’s arranged to make room for books.

The people who know that it really doesn’t matter whether the Leeroy Jenkins video was staged or not because we all know a Leeroy, and he’s like that whether the game is WoW, or D&D, or Risk. Hell, he’s probably like that at Tic-Tac-Toe.

The people who live by the phrase “there is no such thing as too many dice.”

My people.

Today’s note on finding your people: They’re out there. They always were.

Today’s toast: To my people: May your dice not try to kill you next session!


* It was a black/smoke double-set** from Armory. (Those dice are in the bag in the picture. Original bag, too.)

** Back when a set meant six because we didn’t have a fancy d10 with percentile numbering to make seven.***

*** If you chime in with a comment along the lines of “Pfft. In my day, we not only had six-dice sets, but they were made of cheap plastic, and we had to fill ’em in with a crayon” … not only will I love you, I will invite you to my next game day. Bring the dice.