Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Sword of Spirit
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Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby Sword of Spirit » Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:08 pm

I loathe house rules. For me, they represent inauthenticity of the experience of a game. However, I make at least a few house-rules for every RPG I run that I didn’t create myself, despite the fact that a little bit of authenticity dies inside of me for each one. This is because of two reasons. First, I didn’t create the game and therefore it won’t necessarily perfectly present the style that I’d prefer to run that particular game in. Second, my inconsistency sensor is super-charged, and almost every game has some inconsistencies, whether they be contradictory statements/rules, or things that just fit together poorly. Can’t. Not. See. It.

So I have discovered something that I can do sometimes that mitigates my house-rule problem. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s better than house-ruling. I thought it might be interesting to talk about what I do, and see if others have examples of the same thing.

I call it “creative interpretation”. Basically, it means that there is ambiguity in the published text of a game (whether rules or setting/fluff, either is fair game) and even when I know (or suspect) what the design intent is, I choose to go against design intent and interpret the “text as given” in a way that better fits my needs. As long as no official corrections/changes to the text have been made, I’m not house-ruling, and I happy about that.

Here are the basic sorts of guidelines I follow (I haven’t codified them before, but I figured I should write something to clarify what I’m talking about) to qualify something as “creative interpretation” rather than “house rule”.

1) It must not contradict the written text (including any sort of official errata) unless the text contradicts itself—then you can choose one of the texts to stick with and ignore the others.

2) It is perfectly fine to extrapolate and expand on the existing text “this could be true because…” without contradicting it. (In fact, in the case of contradictions it’s most satisfying to come up with a solution that goes beyond the written text in order to harmonize the conflicting statements.)

3) It is not intended to exploit the system for power-gaming or otherwise “break” it.

4) It should be an interpretation that easily could have been design intent (ie, the game would work just fine if that’s how they had wanted to do it, it’s just that you’re pretty sure that isn’t what they intended).

5) It needs to be worth doing—it needs to solve some meaningful lack of support for a difference in style or other interest.

And finally:

6) Occasionally you can “stretch” these guidelines a bit to cover something cool as “creative interpretation”.

My purpose for sharing is to offer some ideas that others might want to use, and to encourage others to offer similar ideas. It’s also possible that the designers might spot something in an ambiguity we bring up that could be a real problem for the official game in confusing new players, and feel a need to correct it in an FAQ. (Of course, that would invalidate the creative interpretation of that area and put it firmly in house rule, but I doubt the sorts of things that will come up will be worth official clarification, so I don’t expect to see a lot of that.)

With that established, my first shared creative interpretation will be a way to justify the existence of reality-rated individuals in cosms that haven’t had any contact with other cosms. OTorg said there had always been reality-rated individuals, they were just really rare pre-Invasion, which is the interpretation I prefer.

Here are my reasons for choosing this particular creative interpretation. It is established that the cosms were never intended to interact (maelstrom bridges and dimthreads are basically tools of the Nameless One), but as I understand it, designer intent is that only through interaction of the cosms can reality-rated individuals come into being.

This is profoundly unsatisfying to me because I want reality-rated individuals to be a natural part of the cosmverse—champions of Apeiros not just as warriors against the darkness, but as an essential element in how things are supposed to work. But if they only exist at all because the Nameless One broke reality, they are basically unnatural aberrations instead.

That’s the primary motivation—thematic interest. There are also a couple of inconsistencies. The important one is that there are ancient legendary eternity shards that are supposed to have mythical abilities…but most don’t have any abilities in the hands of non-reality rated individuals, which means they wouldn’t have actually had any abilities until reality-rated individuals appeared to wield them. So either they didn’t have any real powers until realities collided, or they didn’t actually come into existence until after that happened (being nothing more than stories before then). Hence, inconsistency. The other potential inconsistency was already cleared up a long time ago.

So how do I get reality-rated individuals in pristine cosms, and how do I not contradict the book?

Well, first, the book never says there weren’t. The “Moment of Crisis” sidebar on page 181 of the Core Book tells us they need strong moral choices and opposing realities. Now, first of all, we have a carte blanche on what to do with that particular sidebar because it is presented as “scholars believe” and therefore is not an out-of-character declaration of how things work. Secondly, we just have to find out a way to get someone in contact with “opposing realities” without maelstrom bridges, dimthreads or any of that stuff that was never supposed to happen. So how do we get the natural functions of a cosm to produce opposing realities sufficient to get an occasional reality-rated individual (and remember, these are very rare compared to those who appear when the Storms strike)?

Core Rulebook page 222: Bending the Axioms. There are times and places where the axioms are temporarily or locally higher in a cosm, and the axioms are naturally being increased by the beings bound by them. What does this sound like: “opposing realities”. So, certain locations (some examples being monasteries, arcane colleges, or universities”) have higher axioms than the people who are there. Boom—becoming reality-rated is possible there. And it fits really well too! Being some great figure in history and pushing an axiom often go hand in hand. Great inventors who pondered the limits of technology at institutions of learning, prophets who received visions in sacred spaces, influential leaders who regularly gathered with their colleagues to discuss how to change the world—these people arise from such backgrounds and become the names that dominate the history of the earth (and presumably other cosms also). And if we really want to extend it, you can say you don’t even technically need a special localized bending of an axiom to get a transcendence, because it says that the reason the axioms overall increase at all is because of the people in them (which is also what causing the localized increases, which then feed back into the overall increases, etc). It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Some people start pushing their minds towards the top of the axiom, enough of them gather together and some become reality-rated, they inspire and motivate society at large, eventually increasing the axiom, etc. It’s a beautiful cycle of growth and progression—as Apeiros intended it.

So that’s how you do it, if that’s how you want to “creatively interpret” the text as given.

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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby TorgHacker » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:01 pm

Sword of Spirit wrote:That’s the primary motivation—thematic interest. There are also a couple of inconsistencies. The important one is that there are ancient legendary eternity shards that are supposed to have mythical abilities…but most don’t have any abilities in the hands of non-reality rated individuals, which means they wouldn’t have actually had any abilities until reality-rated individuals appeared to wield them. So either they didn’t have any real powers until realities collided, or they didn’t actually come into existence until after that happened (being nothing more than stories before then). Hence, inconsistency. The other potential inconsistency was already cleared up a long time ago.




So, I'm not going to comment on the rest of this just yet, because I want to let the discussion flow first. :-) But I did want to correct something here.

The highlighted text isn't true.

While Eternity Shards are no question, more powerful in the hands of someone reality-rated either just because they can be tapped for Possibilities or because part of their powers requires something only reality-rated individuals can do (like Soak Damage), all of the Eternity Shards so far published have powers that are able to be used by Ords.
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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby Spatula » Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:17 pm

It's also possible that the things that are eternity shards now were enchanted or sacred objects back in the day. So I don't see any inconsistencies there. The only inconsistency for me is the existence of creatures that are always possibility-rated. Has every dragon made a moral choice in the face of clashing realities? Possibility energy is a thing, whether a cosm has encountered others or not, so it seems reasonable to me that some creatures are naturally possibility-rated and some individuals are as well, invasion or not. "Die Hard is a Core Earth documentary" or whatever the saying is, doesn't quite work unless either the thieves were from Pan-Pacifica or McClane was naturally p-rated (or McClane had a ton of XP over the thieves and was never in any real danger).

But really, it's all a bit "how many angels can fit on the head of a pin" to me. Either way one goes won't impact gameplay.

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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby TorgHacker » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:16 pm

Spatula wrote:It's also possible that the things that are eternity shards now were enchanted or sacred objects back in the day. So I don't see any inconsistencies there. The only inconsistency for me is the existence of creatures that are always possibility-rated. Has every dragon made a moral choice in the face of clashing realities? Possibility energy is a thing, whether a cosm has encountered others or not, so it seems reasonable to me that some creatures are naturally possibility-rated and some individuals are as well, invasion or not. "Die Hard is a Core Earth documentary" or whatever the saying is, doesn't quite work unless either the thieves were from Pan-Pacifica or McClane was naturally p-rated (or McClane had a ton of XP over the thieves and was never in any real danger).

But really, it's all a bit "how many angels can fit on the head of a pin" to me. Either way one goes won't impact gameplay.


<whistles innocently> 8-)
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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby Zackzenobi » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:04 pm

Spatula wrote:But really, it's all a bit "how many angels can fit on the head of a pin" to me. Either way one goes won't impact gameplay.


Somebody has been reading their medieval Philosophy...
As a Philosophy major, I wholeheartedly approve.

Savioronedge
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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby Savioronedge » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:34 pm

This is one of the changes I dislike from Old to Eternity.

It was stated that as written, there were never any Reality rated individuals in Eternity Core Earth before :evil: the invasion. In fact, every suggestion on how to allow for pre-invasion R-rated individuals has been ignored or shot down (my comment about "UFO sightings" being other-reality-visits, for example). Prior to this thread, the emphatic direction from Design has been, "Never happened", and overall, that's ok. It doesn't change Eternity's play at all...i just don't like it.

Old TORG specifical stated P-rated people occurred regularly, if not commonly. Every Core Earther who knew real Martial Arts had Possibilities. It was commented on by the High Lords, one of them directly stated they'd never seen so many stormers before. Plus, I personally loved the idea that Arthur, Taleisin, Mulan, Gilgamesh, Cuchulainn, Einstein, Tesla, Vlad, Joan, Anansi, Cleopatra, Odysseus, Achilles, Akhenaten, and many others were Reality Rated people and their incredible exploits became myths and legends or horror for that reason.

Anything that gets an official, "You don't have to house rule prr-invasion Reality weilders," gets my support. And I happen to like the codified AI (artistic interpretation) guidelines.

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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby TorgHacker » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:27 pm

Savioronedge wrote:This is one of the changes I dislike from Old to Eternity.

It was stated that as written, there were never any Reality rated individuals in Eternity Core Earth before :evil: the invasion. In fact, every suggestion on how to allow for pre-invasion R-rated individuals has been ignored or shot down (my comment about "UFO sightings" being other-reality-visits, for example). Prior to this thread, the emphatic direction from Design has been, "Never happened", and overall, that's ok. It doesn't change Eternity's play at all...i just don't like it.

Old TORG specifical stated P-rated people occurred regularly, if not commonly. Every Core Earther who knew real Martial Arts had Possibilities. It was commented on by the High Lords, one of them directly stated they'd never seen so many stormers before. Plus, I personally loved the idea that Arthur, Taleisin, Mulan, Gilgamesh, Cuchulainn, Einstein, Tesla, Vlad, Joan, Anansi, Cleopatra, Odysseus, Achilles, Akhenaten, and many others were Reality Rated people and their incredible exploits became myths and legends or horror for that reason.

Anything that gets an official, "You don't have to house rule prr-invasion Reality weilders," gets my support. And I happen to like the codified AI (artistic interpretation) guidelines.


Okay, so now I want to jump in. There's a reason was being circumspect because I was genuinely interested to see the speculation about it.

Even if you took Possibilities out of the game entirely, the "player characters" would still have an advantage over the villains. Because of the Destiny Deck. There is nothing about the Destiny Deck that states it can only be used by reality-rated player characters. Now, it turns out that in Torg Eternity, that's what the situation is because reality-rated characters do exist...but it doesn't have to be.

You don't need to be reality-rated to be a hero.

This is something that we actually had a lot of discussion about in development. And yes, the opposing of realities matters.

And while it may not matter as far as the play in Torg Eternity...it does actually matter as far as the backstory goes. And we have dropped hints and clues in the books about this.

I'll be honest, I thought there would be a bit more speculation about certain things. I actually expected someone to go, "But wait...you said..." but I'm starting to consider that in this aspect, we might have been a bit too obscure? Which is why I perked up a bit when this convo started.

So, I'll just leave this here and say a couple of things:

1. There is more to this than meets the eye.

2. Question your assumptions.
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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby TorgHacker » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:28 pm

Zackzenobi wrote:
Spatula wrote:But really, it's all a bit "how many angels can fit on the head of a pin" to me. Either way one goes won't impact gameplay.


Somebody has been reading their medieval Philosophy...
As a Philosophy major, I wholeheartedly approve.


One of the things that made me love Torg the most back in the days of the Torg listserv were these philosophical discussions. I actually made an effor to make sure we were able to keep some aspect of that in the game, while trying not to tie our hands unnecessarily.
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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby Spatula » Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:43 am

It was my impression that, from the Day One adventures, pre-transcendence PCs could use cards but not the Hero or Drama cards. So yeah, the protagonists have some neat tricks but they're missing the biggest guns from the deck. Not to mention the ability to soak damage. After all, one of most notable traits of action-adventure heroes is the ability to get shot at - a lot! - and never get hit. Or, at worst, (to borrow from Last Action Hero) "it's just a flesh wound!"

But, now I'm intrigued as to what obscurity Deanna is referring. I do think the native creatures that are always p-rated don't match up with the idea that a contest of realities is required to become a stormer. And what about eternity shards? Do they transcend as well? Are they normal items (or normal enchanted/sacred/weird science/whatever items) that become imbued with possibilities when the realities come into conflict? Or did they already have those possibilities, along with the red-and-blue coloration?

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Re: Creative Interpretation of Text as Given – Reality-Rated Individuals in Untouched Cosms

Postby Zackzenobi » Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:55 am

How could you eliminate Philosophical discussion about a game of converging realities? There are an endless amount of philosophical debates demanding to be had.

What does an Atheist do after meeting a God in another Reality?

Should AIs have rights?

Do dragons dream of enchanted sheep?

How does a scientist rationalize encountering actual magic?

Are lower Social axioms wrong by definition?

Can priests from different realities truly understand each other?

Eric, etc, etc....


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