Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

For discussing Torment's story as it slowly gets unveiled, as well as discussing the game's setting. Ninth World discussions encouraged. Spoilers allowed.

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

Post by Gizmo » February 28th, 2015, 2:41 pm

swordnshield wrote:...but it's aided by other aspects of the game, notably the descriptive writing and amazing music (the visuals also play a part; mostly as a template for your imagination to expand on).
Indeed, both were superb. 8-)
Basically what I'm trying to say is that because TNO and the player enter the game with the same information (not much), in order to properly role-play him, you have to role-play yourself in that situation. Obviously the outcome of this is that he might not act like who you are in the real world, but its more of a reflection of yourself than a different person altogether. I know I wouldn't be who I am today if my first memory was waking up on a cold stone slab in the Mortuary.
I don't see it that way. TNO woke up in a mortuary, and was covered in tattoos and scars; the amnesia makes that even worse. One can [usually] only speculate on that, not identify with it.

The point of roleplaying is to experience something other than one's own point of view. A character whose choices are not based on one's own sensibilities and/or limitations.

If I were roleplaying an honest character who respects people, then that character would not explore and loot every house they encounter; would not steal the magical +5 club of asswhopping from the owner's display case; to replace their 'stick'; because they would not do that. If however I was roleplaying a thief without those ethical constraints... They might plausibly go on a thieving spree; (even chaotic good thieves might justify using the loot to protect the township), but if I had a Paladin (of good standing) in the party, I would never have them accompany the thief as protector on their burgling adventure. The thief would be going alone, and die if they got caught and could not escape. If it happened that the thief ran past the paladin and was defended by them, then I might choose that the paladin leave the group if the thief does not.

It's not about my own preference, it's how would these people act and react to the events of the game. How do their attitudes and abilities serve them on their adventures. A high intelligence PC ~with low Wisdom might trust someone when they should not ~even if I can see the outcome; they might not. In one RPG I know of, the PC can hire an evil cleric who promptly walks them into a trap. But if the PC stats imply they are the gullible sort, they why should they not walk into the trap and get killed? [Start a new game with new PCs, perhaps not so unwise as the last ones.]

*Incidentally: This is why RPGs need random and percentage based elements to the events, skills and abilities of the PCs and the NPCs; to cause unexpected differences in the outcomes of scripted and player initiated events that might otherwise remain static... causing the same extrapolation of the PCs and their reactions. People freak out and reload when their thief gets caught stealing, or when something they are chasing escapes. Someone trying to pick a lock in a game that only allows you to try if you are assured success, can never have problems and run out of time with repeated attempts; and the guard comes back, and them have to hide until they get another chance later; nor do they get the thrill of trying one last time [success or capture]; perhaps just making into the door as the guard rounds the corner.
This is different than the normal take on role-playing in tabletop and cRPGs, where you role-play a character whose personality and traits you conceive of beforehand, whether they're similar to you or wildly different.
I don't see this that way either. Custom characters are certainly a popular option for PnP RPGs, but they are not a core aspect of roleplaying. The GM/DM can simply assign preset characters for the session. What matters is playing out the personality, not designing it first.

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

Post by dorkboy » February 28th, 2015, 3:43 pm

@Gizmo
"An honest character who respects people" is based on your own experience of what that entails, isn't it?

I reckon that's why so many people struggle to RP evil characters - they're nice people IRL and so behaving in an evil way is kind of alien (and/or guilt-inducing).
Don't get me wrong, you can still conceptualize the behaviour of a thief character without actually being a thief yourself, but you have to base it on something.

In the case of TNO it seems to me like one of the core qualities of the character (as premade by the devs) is his moral ambiguity, which the player can explore in various ways. And yes, you can still rationalize why you thought it was appropriate to sell companions into slavery or whatnot (though the D&D aligment system [and various other game systems] may not always agree with you, but that's a separate issue).
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Gizmo » February 28th, 2015, 10:10 pm

dorkboy wrote:@Gizmo
"An honest character who respects people" is based on your own experience of what that entails, isn't it?
I wouldn't think so... If the player's point of view is not the same "honest character who respects people", then they might have that the character simply refuses to lie [passive aggressively], and respects a [dangerous] person the way one might respect a hippopotamus... but still steal from them; but if the character they are roleplaying would not steal... then they are out of character for having them do so.

If the character was phobic of rats, then they would be out of character for forcing an encounter with rats if it's merely because they want to explore the area, and/or loot the place; when shouldn't be their option with that character.
I reckon that's why so many people struggle to RP evil characters - they're nice people IRL and so behaving in an evil way is kind of alien (and/or guilt-inducing).
Don't get me wrong, you can still conceptualize the behaviour of a thief character without actually being a thief yourself, but you have to base it on something.
Indeed. You can't roleplay something that you have no clue about; but (at least in single player games), it's harmless to be wrong [inaccurate] about it. If someone roleplays a police officer, it would surely help to be one, or to know a few.

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

Post by swordnshield » March 1st, 2015, 4:52 am

Gizmo wrote: I don't see it that way. TNO woke up in a mortuary, and was covered in tattoos and scars; the amnesia makes that even worse. One can [usually] only speculate on that, not identify with it.
It's unlikely anyone on this forum has experienced something like the Mortuary, or any of the wonders of the Planes, but they don't have to because it's described in lavish detail for them in the game. That experience is enough for me to identify with TNO.
Gizmo wrote: The point of roleplaying is to experience something other than one's own point of view. A character whose choices are not based on one's own sensibilities and/or limitations.
One way to experience a different point of view by imagining yourself if you had lived an entirely different life. That 'character' will be different than you, but their actions might tell you a bit about yourself.
Gizmo wrote:
swordnshield wrote: This is different than the normal take on role-playing in tabletop and cRPGs, where you role-play a character whose personality and traits you conceive of beforehand, whether they're similar to you or wildly different.
I don't see this that way either. Custom characters are certainly a popular option for PnP RPGs, but they are not a core aspect of roleplaying. The GM/DM can simply assign preset characters for the session. What matters is playing out the personality, not designing it first.
What matters is that they have a definite personality/alignment/backstory at all. The incarnation of TNO you play as doesn't have this, he is a completely blank slate, a new person, similar to the player entering the game with no knowledge of the world or people around him, and no knowledge of his past. Unless you decided on the kind of person you were going to be on the way in (unlikely for a first playthrough) the most natural thing to do let your own feelings dictate TNO's decisions.


More on topic, to those of you who weren't impressed by Torment's main plot, how did you react to the mysterious tomb with inscriptions from other incarnations? Or to the arrival of shades, who appeared to have killed one of your past selves, with the implication that if they killed you you would lose your memories again, effectively killing you for good. For me these discoveries added danger and uncertainty that would normally be absent from an immortal's life and kept the plot interesting and somewhat urgent.

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

Post by Gizmo » March 1st, 2015, 10:53 am

swordnshield wrote:It's unlikely anyone on this forum has experienced something like the Mortuary, or any of the wonders of the Planes, but they don't have to because it's described in lavish detail for them in the game. That experience is enough for me to identify with TNO.
It is never my intention to identify with PC's; I observe how their [extrapolated] philosophy of life, and their personal abilities [as per development] serve them in their situation; sometimes it gets them killed.
One way to experience a different point of view by imagining yourself if you had lived an entirely different life. That 'character' will be different than you, but their actions might tell you a bit about yourself.
I imagine someone else that has lived under the given circumstance.
Gizmo wrote:What matters is that they have a definite personality/alignment/backstory at all.
This is true. It's also why I tend to dislike RPGs that seek to create an infant adult PC that seemingly fell out of a hole in the sky... No past; no acquaintances, no skills, no aptitudes or other aspirations... Seemingly no means of surviving to adulthood, and no one that saw them do it. :(
More on topic, to those of you who weren't impressed by Torment's main plot, how did you react to the mysterious tomb with inscriptions from other incarnations?
I was impressed, but though I liked the tomb, I didn't much care for the need to suicide in order to enter it; though it's understandably a clever lock that would tend to ensure that only he gets to enter his sanctuary.
Or to the arrival of shades, who appeared to have killed one of your past selves, with the implication that if they killed you you would lose your memories again, effectively killing you for good. For me these discoveries added danger and uncertainty that would normally be absent from an immortal's life and kept the plot interesting and somewhat urgent.
Same here; and it's not really dissimilar from the risk to immortals shown in Highlander ~to much the same effect.

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

Post by Zombra » March 1st, 2015, 12:04 pm

Gizmo wrote:It is never my intention to identify with PC's; I observe how their [extrapolated] philosophy of life, and their personal abilities [as per development] serve them in their situation; sometimes it gets them killed.
I always try to identify with my PCs on some level, but I almost never try to identify them with me. That is to say, it's important to me to establish a personality for them that is distinct from my own, and portray them according to that personality. Then when I observe that personality in action, I try to reflect on what it means to be like that - not just "That dwarf was greedy so he got killed", but "What's it like to be a greedy dwarf?"

swordnshield does have a strong point, though; TNO is a special case because he is a "blank slate". You can't start the game saying, OK, this guy has impulse control issues, he flunked out of dental school and then became a pornographer, let's see how he acts. Firstly, he's a premade guy (regardless of whether you can pick his stats); secondly, he's an amnesiac. You literally have to construct a personality as you go along, and the character's history is told to you. I further agree with swordnshield that this setup heavily slants the experience in favor of a character that will turn out similar to the player; with no opportunity to establish a baseline behavior for a character, it's natural for a player to make each vacuum-packed decision according to his own lights. Ironically, in this case, this specific premade character will tend to end up more like the player than a typical "build your own"!
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Gizmo » March 1st, 2015, 2:23 pm

Zombra wrote:
Gizmo wrote:It is never my intention to identify with PC's; I observe how their [extrapolated] philosophy of life, and their personal abilities [as per development] serve them in their situation; sometimes it gets them killed.
I always try to identify with my PCs on some level, but I almost never try to identify them with me. That is to say, it's important to me to establish a personality for them that is distinct from my own, and portray them according to that personality. Then when I observe that personality in action, I try to reflect on what it means to be like that - not just "That dwarf was greedy so he got killed", but "What's it like to be a greedy dwarf?"
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*Of the dwarf, perhaps it comes with an inability to comprehend an absence of greed. :D
swordnshield does have a strong point, though; TNO is a special case because he is a "blank slate". You can't start the game saying, OK, this guy has impulse control issues, he flunked out of dental school and then became a pornographer, let's see how he acts. Firstly, he's a premade guy (regardless of whether you can pick his stats); secondly, he's an amnesiac. You literally have to construct a personality as you go along, and the character's history is told to you.
A lack of memory does not indicate or guarantee a blank slate; it does not necessarily erase one's ethics, or ingrained habits or aptitudes; though brain damage might. TNO was able to hop between classes effortlessly, because he had already been a 25th level adventurer in all of them... Not an option for a mortal PC. For him it was like riding a bike, and forgetting he could... then easily picking it up again once he tried.

In his case he had different past personalities; some brutal... The player does get to learn of them, and speculate how TNO reacts to the revelations, or painful truths ~~Whichever way he [tno] views it.
I further agree with swordnshield that this setup heavily slants the experience in favor of a character that will turn out similar to the player; with no opportunity to establish a baseline behavior for a character, it's natural for a player to make each vacuum-packed decision according to his own lights.
I don't see that at all; unless the player naturally can't imagine a mind not like their own. (This does seem ~to me~ like it might be common among a sizable group of gamers. Or it could be that they don't find that exercise to be interesting.)

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

Post by dorkboy » March 1st, 2015, 4:48 pm

@Gizmo
I think we're talking a bit past each other here.
My point was merely that you don't need to be an immortal undead in order to have the experience of waking up in a strange place, a little worse for wear, without a very clear idea of what yesterday was all about resonate with you.

As for playing out of character, I think PS:T makes that very difficult to actually do, though acting on metaknowledge is certainly one. For instance the "suicide maze", I would argue that the problem isn't that it has the player suicide TNO, but that it happens repeatedly, causing suicide to be seen as a viable meta-strategy with no actual ill effects.
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Naurgalen » March 13th, 2015, 4:46 pm

The point Gizmo is that you have to fill many things of the Nameless One by yourself in a reactive way vs premeditating what his personality was/is. Thats because even if you started thinking that he was/is a good guy (or a bad one) eventually you will discover that he IS both... you will discover strangers to be friends, friends to be enemy's, enemy's to be lovers and so many things that what story you made for him is completely irrelevant... its 1 story in a man who lived thousands.

Now the player roleplay works over that, defining (to a point) how much your different and even opposite past incarnations affect the playable incarnation. Because you know, some incarnations have done really life-changing decisions and things (or more, like turning yourself into one immortal), and heck even if you are not them their actions have consequences on you.

+ it was confirmed by the devs in one interview that they wanted the blank slate to teach the player the universe at the same time that the nameless, bonding them.

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

Post by Fictrix » March 21st, 2015, 2:20 am

I started replaying Planescape: Torment recently as well, thanks to the wonderful magic of GOG. The first and last time was 12 years ago and I had borrowed it from someone, and I returned the (physical!) discs it before I could finish. I was pretty close to the end too, right at a decisive moment at the Pillar of Skulls.

The strange thing is that I only vaguely recall some of the details, so it's much easier to experience things from The Nameless One's perspective this time around. The first time, I liked it well enough but a lot of it was alien and difficult to follow, and I sort of wanted to kick The Nameless One out of the party and be Morte instead (yes, I'm terrible). Now everything seems new but there's a nagging sense of familiarity too. When I ran into Fell for the first time and asked who I was, he replied he couldn't tell me because "I cannot change the nature of a man". That was chilling. I remember hearing those words well enough but that was a lifetime ago. I *know* it's foreshadowing the big question and it's eerie going through the game again with half-remembered knowledge.

I liked it well enough the first time, but it's a much better experience this time around. It helps that I've done some DMing on NWN1 between then and now, so stepping into the role of a character completely unlike any that I would ever create is much easier. I just have to think of it as possessing an NPC that another DM designed.

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

Post by Firkraag » March 21st, 2015, 4:23 am

Very interestIng experience, you have.
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Prosector » November 19th, 2015, 4:41 am

I personally think PST has the most exciting story in the gaming history ever and the first time I played this game was in 2012 so it's not because some nostalgic shitty feelings. The first reason why I was motivated to play this game toward is I loved the amnesia part (iIlove every game connected to amnesia, somehow I can not get tired of it). I really want to find out the truth about me and the world, thats my weakness. I felt from the very first moment that I was a bad guy once and caused incredibly big shit in my previous lives so playing the game was like being in purgatory. And then I found the secret tomb and those notes were give me the chills. That was the point I couldnt put this game down. I loved the side quests and characters too, they are unique and interesting and they lie a lot so I have to investigate further, the motivation of characters are often unexpectable, not like in many game like dragon age when I can see the twist even before characters finished their sentence... I hope you finished the game, because the ravel part was astonishing, as well as the ending part with your incarnations, and finding out the main villain's identity made me jizz in my pants.

I have always been an abstract kid so I can understand this story didn't touch everybody, if it would be a book it was just an average story, but the great dialogs and emotional bombs made it marvelous to me. The game made me think about myself, about people and life. I felt like the Nameless One, he resembled to me as I see myself searching answers to the life's questions but I find something else. I realize things change my nature, I am not the same man once I was so my purpose and the questions I ask are also different. TNO once wanted to be immortal and he took every asset to reach his goal. Then he learned the importance of other things, he saw how many pain he caused (to deionarra, ignus and nearly twenty character) and even the immortality is not so great as he imagined so he tried to change everything back Game helped me realize that environment and will (more accurately belief) can form personality, if I believe myself something else, I will be something else in time, if environment (daily routine, surrounding persons who know me) not pulls me back to my old state. I believe weakening the bond with my environment and previous me and focusing on one belief makes me change easy. (It is like self hypnosis, like lying to yourself but I shouldn't say that, it differs a bit becasue the outcome should be permanent, I will embrace the new purpose)

So my answer to the question "What can change the nature of a man" is: it can be anything, any idea or feeling if you are motivated enough and overshadow every other thing. The more you focus on one thing, the more you resemble that thing. For example if someone cares about greedy thoughts too much, he will be more greedy than ever. Thoughts infect your mind (or soul) although they can make positive and negative changes in you also. You have to learn to control your thoughts, and you will control your personality.

In total, it wasn't just a nice story but a thought-provoking lesson.

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

Post by Firkraag » November 19th, 2015, 9:15 am

Very interestIng experience you have. Right so.

Keep in mind, though, that's not only your thoughts can contaminate you in various ways. Game(-s also can) goes great deal to show, what power some of us, people, have over others' beliefs and mindsets. ;)
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by GasMaskFan » January 24th, 2016, 11:54 pm

So out of curisioty, did OP ever finish the game? :D
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Re: Planescape: Torment - Story [Early game spoilers]

Post by Strangedane » February 15th, 2016, 2:28 pm

ffordesoon wrote: What the game does best is ruin every more generic cRPG setting for you, though.
And in knowing this, the gamer knew himself.
And he knew he would never be satisfied again.
Or at least he thought he knew.

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

Post by morte_rictusgrin » February 16th, 2016, 6:49 am

Strangedane wrote: And in knowing this, the gamer knew himself.
And he knew he would never be satisfied again.
Or at least he thought he knew.
What is it: the ninth circle?

I've got to know PS:T 2 years after it's original release and first time it took really long from beginning to the end of game (3 months?). It really was quite boring sometimes, i've got stuck several times (and had to search for some walkthroughs - but only for the problem episode), but that's because I was interested in the plot of the game and wanted to understand it ASAP. I didn't became a fan of the game that time and surely missed so much quests, background, opportunities, etc.
But the second time was different: I've generally knew the plot and wasn't eager to get to the end of the game. I've began to actually explore the game world itself and NPCs stories. And I liked the game more. After that second time (maybe, half a year after the first one) I've began to explore whole Planescape fluff (books, art, minis, etc. Even bid on ebay for the holy grail of PS -- planescape sketchbook).
The third time was simple pleasure: exploring the world even more, hunting for little side quests, comparing original PS fluff with game design.
I've built a planescape inspired PC case mode after that time.
Ever since I start a fresh installation (with all possible mods like unfinished business and high-res mods) once a year or about that and play for some time. It has become like a favorite book for me: the one, You can read several times without getting bored and always finding something new in the plot or description.

That was, I guess, the reason original PS:T commercially failed: it was hard and stubborn for the first walkthrough, the setting was too hard to understand for most not-so-hardcore-ADnD-players and withouth understanding it the whole plot is, well, questionable.
It was made for sharp bashers, but most of audience was clueless berks.

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

Post by fygment » February 29th, 2016, 5:39 am

I don't see it that way. TNO woke up in a mortuary, and was covered in tattoos and scars; the amnesia makes that even worse. One can [usually] only speculate on that, not identify with it.
I don't think you have to have actually experienced something to identify with someone going through it. It helps, sure, but imagination and empathy can take you a long way if you really think what it would be like if you were in that situation. You are right that is its harder to identify with things outside of your experience, but it isn't impossible.

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

Post by Aramintai » March 7th, 2016, 6:47 am

I can only say to the original poster that the game starts weird and then get weirder, but only when you finish it as a whole and see the ending will you get that teary OMG feeling all the fans have been talking about.

Personally, the first time I've played it, the game really gripped me and didn't let go until the very end was after I got to the Lower Ward - so many cool quests and places to visit started from there...
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