Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

For discussing Torment's story, setting, and characters. Ninth World discussions encouraged. Spoilers allowed.

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Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Zombra » September 1st, 2013, 1:26 pm

Thinking about the upcoming T:N, and seeing the dozens of previewers and other Torment fans raving about how Planescape: Torment had such awesome writing, I regretted never finishing the original game when I was younger, nor even getting very far in it.

So, recently I did a reinstall and updated it with the nice modern patches that are out, and tried it again.

The setting is fantastic, the crazy factions are deep and well fleshed out, and the characters I meet varied, interesting, and memorable ...

... but the actual story? Wow ... man, am I a bad person for saying this? It's really not gripping me. The Nameless One has amnesia, and he's kind of wondering what stuff happened to him in the past ... and that's all the motivation I'm given. It feels like he's following this trail of crumbs through this weird world simply because he happens to have nothing better to do. Whether he finds clues to his past by following the trail or just randomly at a roadside, it all feels arbitrary and inconsequential. Oh, this bartender has my eye, huh? That's ... new. Okay ... I suppose I'll pay him off to get it back. Now I have my eye back. Huh. Oookay. I guess that's good. Next!

How about that early quest giver guy, Pharod? After hours and hours to find him, he's some guy who supposedly knows something, and sends me on a mission to get some completely arbitrary McGuffin, which is never explained so far as I know. So I go get it, not caring about it at all or ever knowing why, and then he tells me almost nothing, but his daughter happens to be there and says she saw my corpse in an alley somewhere. OK, I guess I'm going to go that way now. Then my companion Morte, who I also have no reason to care about except he's been kind of hanging around me, gets kidnapped and everything grinds to a halt while I figure out a way to rescue him. What difference does one flying skull make to me in a world filled with crazy monsters on every corner? He was there when I woke up. That's it. There was even the note to myself saying I shouldn't trust him - so why can't I live without him suddenly? Welp, I have nothing better to do, so I guess I'll save him.

I've got to save the skull, I've got to find some wizard, I've got to find some witch. I just finished the part in the Private Sensorium where I have all the crazy flashbacks, and it's getting more interesting, but now I have to go chase down this woman after she's already told me probably everything she's going to ... it's just like, what the hell am I doing? I still don't have a reason to care about any of this except curiosity.

I'm not saying that none of it makes sense, or even that there's no motivation. I'm just disappointed that I'm not finding myself eager to log back into the game to find out what comes next. I'm going to find the witch, and she's not going to give me a reason to care - she'll just give me another clue to go chasing across the city looking for something that also won't give me a reason to care. There's just no urgency, and no promise of a payoff. I'm sure there will be a payoff, but from where the Nameless One stands, there's no reason to anticipate one. His former personality is a stranger to who he is now - it just seems like a long story about "Hey, I wonder what some stranger did once."

So now it's been a few weeks since I've played and I feel like even if I do go back to it, I won't remember what little of the hazy picture I already learned. Some guy went somewhere once, and there was a woman and another guy with him, and they seemed agitated. That's pretty much all I remember. So what?

Am I looking at this completely wrong? Is the story so far actually really motivating and I'm just not seeing it? Or does all the great story come later, after I get through the long (long, long) intro of not knowing anything and having no reason to care? Will there be a point at which I actually get some agency to participate in the story instead of just hoping to be told someday what it is?

Thanks in advance for your comments ... and please, don't spoil what comes after the parts I've described ... because I WOULD still like to play through and see the rest. I just need to be encouraged that it gets better.
Last edited by Zombra on September 1st, 2013, 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by dorkboy » September 1st, 2013, 1:57 pm

i think part of the problem is you've been told the story/writing/whatever is great, and then you start playing the game looking for exactly how the story/writing/whatever is supposed to be so great like everyone says.
it's like trying to watch a movie when someone has already told you it's the greatest movie ever made; "right, greatest movie ever made. ok, i'm waiting for greatness... *tap tap tap* .. so when's it supposed to get great? anytime soon?".

for a long time i recommended PS:T to all my friends, saying "oh this game is awesome, you've got to try it!". my friends had more sense than me in that respect (though they still don't know what they're missing :lol: ).

personally i find "plot" to be the mere skeleton of story-telling, and it's actually the meat and sinews that pull me into a story. then i start caring about the plot.
main quests... ugh, can't stand them.

i don't think i ever had a reason to care about the plot/TNO's story, but i found exploring the stuff along the way totally made it worth it. the companions, and why you should care about them, are similar to that, i think.

[edit: sorry if the first part comes off as awfully "what-you-are-feeling-and-why". obviously, it's just a guess based on my own personal experiences.]
Last edited by dorkboy on September 1st, 2013, 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by dflatline » September 1st, 2013, 2:01 pm

If you want to get the most out of the game plotwise there's a bunch of things you should do. A lot of the subtleties of the plot are completely missable if you've got the wrong stats or you're the wrong class. Ridiculous amounts of important content just disappear. It's also important that you have the right items at the right time.

You've touched on some things in your post, infact a very specific thing that is very important that I imagine you've left behind.

I don't know exactly how you're playing the game so I don't know how much plot you're actually getting or how much you've missed. I could be really explicit if you want and tell you what you need to do etc. but you'd likely have to start the game over from the beginning.

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by dflatline » September 1st, 2013, 5:39 pm

Ok, he's a short guide on how to get the most out of Planescape as in seeing the most content and plot. First and most importantly are the right stats and class. WIS, INT and CHR are the most important stats in the game, if you're not high in these you cut out a huge amount of dialog and if you don't play as a mage you'll miss out entire sections of important character backstory. Most of the game TNO is going to be talking to people, his combat skills are completely unimportant and he cannot die. Early in the game other characters can do your fighting for you and later in the game you'll be a high enough level mage to hold your own.

Here's the optimal way of going about your stats, no plot spoilers and nothing after Clerks Ward even discussed:
http://pastebin.com/Y5XS3zup

Next, here's less explicit list of general advice such as items you shouldn't lose etc:
http://pastebin.com/gYKLEmQ2
I forgot something, late in the game you'll learn something about the nature of 3 characters in sigil, you can go back and talk to them for new dialog.

and finally, some stuff for first time players that'll make the game a less of a hassle:
http://pastebin.com/A2DUAYJu

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Zombra » September 1st, 2013, 6:13 pm

Interesting! I actually started the game with high WIS, INT, CHA and became a Mage as soon as I was able to (seems like at least 10 hours in :?). So that's something I guess!
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by dflatline » September 1st, 2013, 6:35 pm

You're going to meet someone soon and you'll actually get to the meat of the plot. If the 'big reveal' doesn't interest you too much then I can't really say it's going to get much better for you.

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Zombra » September 1st, 2013, 6:41 pm

Well, that's at least enough to get me back in for another chapter. Thanks dflatline.

And thanks dorkboy for your earlier comments. I have found most of the side explorations pretty interesting too, like you did ... it just doesn't seem like enough to sustain my drive for the main story.
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by SniperHF » September 1st, 2013, 7:04 pm

Zombra wrote:Well, that's at least enough to get me back in for another chapter. Thanks dflatline.

And thanks dorkboy for your earlier comments. I have found most of the side explorations pretty interesting too, like you did ... it just doesn't seem like enough to sustain my drive for the main story.
I didn't really get interested in the main story until the part where you find your coffin with the writing on the wall and then once you find Deionarra's Father. I think you are already past that. But to me the actual plot isn't really the draw of PST. It's mainly about the quality of the writing compared to other CRPGs and the exploration of Sigil.

I do agree about Pharod, quite a let down. But as for your companions, their stories are more interesting but you haven't gotten there yet and it is a slow burn.

I don't think PST is a great game, but it does have great individual pieces that are not seen in many other RPGs. If those particular elements are not your favorite then it will be a struggle.

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by dflatline » September 1st, 2013, 7:28 pm

It does all tie together at the very end, especially in regards to exactly why all these characters are following you for seemingly no reason, all the little things that seem like fluff from earlier in the game make alot more sense too. It's a shame you didn't get Morte back straight away, for example. When you do though you should take him to Vrischika's curio shop for a conversation that'll hint at why he seems to be the only floating skull in the entirety of sigil. There's loads of little bits like that you can miss. Problem is you can not realise you're missing them or they don't even make sense until far later in the game when you've forgotten them.

After you leave the clerks ward though and get the plot dump the game becomes much more linear and much more of a slog, smaller less packed areas you take one at a time. You're not going to have as much fun learning about the world and it's characters doing lots of fun sidequests like you do in sigil. It's pretty much all business all the time and some parts are very combat heavy. I quit my first run at this point and never touched it again for years. If you're not enjoying it you might aswell just cheat to get to the end.

Also SniperHF is right, the main plot taken in isolation isn't amazing of itself, it is really well written though. The writing is actually better if you already know the plot and you're on a second playthough. Maybe I'm really bad at paying attention but I missed so much stuff the first time though, I don't mean by accident, I mean actual content I experienced. I didn't even realise for example that the huge elaborate trapped tomb in the catacombs with mine.The characters who join your party are actually much more interesting than TNO is too.

It's hard to talk about without giving spoilers, but don't believe eventhing you read and even your friends are lying to you.

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Drool » September 1st, 2013, 9:50 pm

I enjoyed the game quite a bit even if the plot was a little... loose. I think a lot of it is the looking around and learning things. And it's certainly different than most other games, so it has that going for it. Still, yeah, I could see someone making the argument that the writing of the non-main plot things is amazing.

Except for Limbo. Fuck that place.
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Zombra » September 2nd, 2013, 12:05 am

SniperHF wrote:I didn't really get interested in the main story until the part where you find your coffin with the writing on the wall and then once you find Deionarra's Father. I think you are already past that.
Nope - I'll look forward to those parts :)
dflatline wrote:It does all tie together at the very end, especially in regards to exactly why all these characters are following you for seemingly no reason, all the little things that seem like fluff from earlier in the game make alot more sense too.
Good. I suspected that there'd be some payoff later, but it's nice to have confirmation.
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by cw8 » September 2nd, 2013, 2:08 am

You'll have to play on else you'll be missing out on alot. At least reach the part where you find Ravel and that's when things start making sense, of course I won't spoil it for you. I love the way how the game unravels the plot and backstory little by little till you reach the point where you reach the end. I also love the fact that your companions mean so much to the game, plot and TNO. The ending's real moving as well.

Like they said, the game's plot and writing gets better if you played it multiple times.

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by ffordesoon » September 4th, 2013, 11:25 am

Yeah, the biggest weakness of the plot is that all the stuff that explains why you should care is loaded into the back half of the game, and the hooks are really not obvious at all. It relies too much on curiosity to carry you through the parts that you don't quite grasp.

Which is better than relying too little on curiosity, IMHO, but it would be nice to have a more obvious throughline at points. You're told to do something, but you don't learn why until so much later that it can become frustrating. There's a reason it's a cult classic instead of a universally acknowledged one.

What the game does best is ruin every more generic cRPG setting for you, though. :lol:
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by shaigunjoe » September 17th, 2013, 7:17 am

I purchased the game off of GOG after PST was announced to give it a go. I did play through it all, and I agree about the story though. I thought the first 1/3 of the game was actually really great, the 2nd 3rd to be pretty good, and the last to be....meh.

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Killyox » December 20th, 2013, 6:01 am

The fact you don't know what the brown stinky sphere is for and the stuff behind it proves you know very very little about torment still.

The game is VERY subtle. It doesn't throw stuff your way like modern games. You have to discover it yourself and there is A LOT to discover.

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Zombra » December 20th, 2013, 9:37 am

Killyox wrote:The fact you don't know what the brown stinky sphere is for and the stuff behind it proves you know very very little about torment still.
That's kind of the point. I never claimed to be an expert. The point is that the game doesn't really invite you to find out this stuff, and gives you no reason to care enough to dig that deep. If anything, its garbage combat system encourages you not to explore too much. I'm sure there's some great stuff in that one tomb, but I gave up on going back there a long time ago after fighting those fucking Vargouilles for the 20th time. Not only that, but there aren't any clues on how to find out anything off the critical path. The only times more side stories have unraveled have been when I came across another puzzle piece completely at random. Suppose I did care about the sphere. What kind of trail do I have to follow? I went, I got it, I gave it to the guy, he got killed. So now what? Do I stumble around buttonholing every nameless NPC (I already talk to all the named ones) and robbing every house in sight, hoping to find a lost diary about it? That's not detective work; it's trash digging and pixel hunting. It's a lot of tedium to dig up secrets I am, again, given no motivation to care about in the first place, either as a character or as a player.

It's OK if a lot of stuff is subtle; it's even OK that I'm too dumb to catch most of the references ... but when the basic, obvious meat of the story fails to provide the basic level of interest required to make me want to pursue it, is it surprising that I end up disappointed?
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by dflatline » January 1st, 2014, 6:01 am

Zombra wrote:
Killyox wrote:The fact you don't know what the brown stinky sphere is for and the stuff behind it proves you know very very little about torment still.
That's kind of the point. I never claimed to be an expert. The point is that the game doesn't really invite you to find out this stuff, and gives you no reason to care enough to dig that deep. If anything, its garbage combat system encourages you not to explore too much. I'm sure there's some great stuff in that one tomb, but I gave up on going back there a long time ago after fighting those fucking Vargouilles for the 20th time. Not only that, but there aren't any clues on how to find out anything off the critical path. The only times more side stories have unraveled have been when I came across another puzzle piece completely at random. Suppose I did care about the sphere. What kind of trail do I have to follow? I went, I got it, I gave it to the guy, he got killed. So now what? Do I stumble around buttonholing every nameless NPC (I already talk to all the named ones) and robbing every house in sight, hoping to find a lost diary about it? That's not detective work; it's trash digging and pixel hunting. It's a lot of tedium to dig up secrets I am, again, given no motivation to care about in the first place, either as a character or as a player.

It's OK if a lot of stuff is subtle; it's even OK that I'm too dumb to catch most of the references ... but when the basic, obvious meat of the story fails to provide the basic level of interest required to make me want to pursue it, is it surprising that I end up disappointed?
It's a very badly designed game in a lot of respects, like, really bad.

The only way anyone would think it was good is if they were told what to do to see all the interesting content. It is not fun playing it over and over again to find out what you need to do to see it.

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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by dorkboy » January 2nd, 2014, 10:33 pm

i really like the fact that the game leaves exploration to the player. makes it all the more rewarding, imo.

and, no, you don't have to max wisdom to be able to enjoy PS:T. people who claim so are talking non-sense.
"you have to max energy weapons to the max and then go pick up the second most lethal thistle of goop and take it to the Übermage of Overlords, then the game will become really great!".. yeah ok, if you say so.. :roll:
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Drool » January 5th, 2014, 6:14 am

Nah. You just use the bugged-to-hell Wish scroll to max everything :ugeek:
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by dorkboy » January 5th, 2014, 6:34 am

Drool wrote:Nah. You just use the bugged-to-hell Wish scroll to max everything :ugeek:
Wish scroll?
guess i've missed that one. was it one of those things you needed max Wisdom to find? :lol:

edit: ah, apparently you need to be a level 12 mage to use it. (i usually went for a thief/fighter build.)
+2 to a single attribute doesn't sound that broken, though.. :?
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