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Torg Eternity: Tharkold Day One, Part 1

June 11, 2018

One of the neat features of the new edition of the Torg RPG – Torg Eternity, now on sale! – is the book of “Day One” adventures. The metaplot of the game concerns a world very much like our own getting invaded by different realities, who take over different parts of the world. The original game officially started at Day 90 of the invasion, which I suppose was for a few reasons. One, PCs could come from “Core” Earth or one of the invaders’ realms that were scattered all over the world, so that would presumably give the group time to have already met and banded together in a hand-wavy kind of way before the campaign starts. Two, there were novels released with the game that detailed the invasion from the beginning, and the novels changed around the Day One status quo by quite a bit, and it was presumed that the PCs were operating in the post-novels timeline. The starter adventure even resolves one of the big dangling plots from the novels.

That was fine and all, and we didn’t mind it when we played the game in high school, but it skips over one of the really interesting role-playing scenarios of the whole setup: people from the “normal” world encountering a different reality, and its denizens, for the very first time! The Day One Adventures book has a scenario that does just that for each invasion zone: NYC, London, France, Cairo, Moscow, India, and Tokyo.

In wanting to introduce my group to Torg and its crazy mixed-up world, I thought running one of these adventures would be a good start. But which one? I ended up letting them know we were going to play an “apocalyptic” sort of one-shot, and asked them to vote on their top three choices for where it should be located. The first choice got three points, the second choice got two points, and each last choice got one point. Moscow won the vote, mainly by being most everyone’s #2 choice (Cairo was a close second). And so we would be playing through:

Tharkold Day One

In this particular scenario, the players took the roles of Russian special forces soldiers. The squad consisted of:

  • “Dead-Eye”, the sniper. (played by Antony)
  • “Oversight”, the squad commander. (played by Bill)
  • “Drivetrain”, the driver/mechanic. (played by Dante)
  • “Stitches”, the medic. (played by Drew)

I dunno why the pregens in this particular scenario all have G.I. Joe names. “Salvo”, the heavy weapons brute, and “Prowler”, the sneaky stabby scout guy, were left on the table, which surprised me. I had figured that Stitches and Drivetrain, as support types, were the least likely to be chosen by my players, but instead they picked both! The chosen characters did give the group a good spread of skills, though.

In all of the Day One scenarios, one or more of the pregens is made to “transform” to the new reality when they experience their “moment of crisis” (more on that in a bit). Transformed characters remain roughly the same person, but it’s as if they spent their whole life in the new reality instead of the old. They still remember their old lives, but dimly, like it was a dream. The only character that would have transformed in the Tharkold Day One scenario was “Salvo”, who wasn’t picked. Anticipating that that might happen, I had also made a transformed version of “Prowler”… who also wasn’t picked! So the players didn’t get to experience that aspect of the game.

The “moment of crisis” is technically part of the backstory of every PC in Torg, who are a cut above normal folks and have a hero point-like mechanic to represent that. It’s the moment when a person, confronted with an attack by an alien reality, chooses to act heroically to protect others or fight the invaders (the presumed background for all PCs), or to act selfishly or even evilly. All the Day One adventures start off before the characters have had their moment, which is supposed to occur during the adventure, but it added an extra layer of complication to the PC mechanics that I didn’t want to deal with. The game already has a bunch of new concepts for me to introduce, like the bonus chart and the card decks. So I skipped it for this one-shot.

And now, with all of that out of the day, the actual adventure!

All over the world, for several weeks now, the weather had been unusually violent. Hurricanes, record rainfalls, unusual lightning activity. There had been a lot of chatter about it, but it didn’t seem very important to you. You had just returned home from a harrowing mission, and were enjoying some well-earned leave.

One morning, word quickly spread that America’s New York City had gone dark. Was it terrorists? Natural disaster? A nuke? Then massive earthquakes knocked out power in the UK and Scandinavia – that was much closer to home! A full-fledged war finally erupted in the Middle East. Supposed footage of demons in France was going viral. The weathermen and national security types on TV were suddenly replaced by priests and Bishops who loudly proclaimed that it was the End of Days.

And then Moscow was attacked! The fight was going well, the government apparatchiks said. But you were eager to contribute, and jumped when you and your squad were ordered to report to a forward base in Elektrogorsk, 75 km east of the capital.

Amidst the heavy rain and wind, the soldiers reported in at the temporary base, which looked like it was being packed up and moved further away from the city. The squad was escorted to a room in the command center, where they were handed sparse briefing packets. Shortly, a Colonel Morozov entered and addressed the four men.

“Seven hours ago a strange object appeared in the sky over the Kremlin and touched down. Its landing precipitated an invasion that has left our forces in disarray, and untold civilian casualties in its wake. The General Staff have called a full retreat. Moscow, I am sorry to report, is lost to the enemy.

“But there is something within the city we need. A hidden scientific research outpost lies at the coordinates in your packets. Your priority mission is to enter the base and secure all data collected on the ‘Moscow Event.’ Your secondary, and optional, objective is the recovery of the three scientists working within the lab.

“The hated enemy are jamming our long-range communications, so you will be on your own. Once you have recovered the data you are to immediately extract to rally point Trinity, approximately 70 km north of your target. You are expected to arrive by 2100 hours, no later.

“Good luck, comrades.”

After getting their gear, the squad climbed into a GAZ Tigr armored personnel carrier and drove west, towards Moscow and towards the worst of the storm. Drivetrain was behind the wheel, with Oversight up on top manning the machine gun. Their vehicle was the only one headed west; a steady flood of military, cars, and people were moving east, taking up both lanes of the highway and forcing the Tigr off-road.

After about 20 minutes, the soldiers noticed that the storm had gotten much worse as they approached the capital. Thunder and lightning joined the lashing rain and strong winds, and soon their visibility was close to nothing. Then things got weird.

The rain turned to an oily grey sludge that the wipers smeared across the windshield. Mechanical roars echoed the thunder. Strange silhouettes could be seen slumping over the hills in the brief moments when the lightning illuminated the outside, and then were gone in the next flash. There was an electrical feeling in the air. The soldiers’ heads hurt. Their mouths had the taste of battery acid. They could feel what seemed like an electrical charge coursing through their bones. The thick oily rain turned reddish, leaving crimson smears across the windshields and turning everything to the color of blood. A buzzing sound hummed in the background, making their heads ache even more. The storm’s intensity increased to what felt like a hurricane. They suddenly had a feeling like they were full of electricity, that they were going to explode from within, when-

it all stopped! The transport suddenly burst forth into a quiet pocket of the storm, where the rain was light and the winds died down. The soldiers looked shocked at the sudden silence, and were amazed that they felt like themselves again after the agony that they had just been experiencing. They got out to wipe the smeared oily residue off the windshields…

and saw Moscow burning in the distance, with a giant black writhing column, almost like a tentacle, rising from the city and going up into the black lightning-lashed clouds hanging over the sky.

Next: into the heart of darkness!

From → Gaming, Torg

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