Torg Eternity Preview #1 – Updating a Classic

Welcome to the first of a series of previews highlighting changes in Torg Eternity from the original Torg RPG (as well as some things we specifically didn’t change). These previews will discuss changes to the rules and the lore in order to give the game a streamlined and modern treatment.

First up, we don’t expect folks to like everything that we’ve changed or left as-is. What we hope though, is that you’ll find enough to like. Some of the rules changes may at first seem odd, but hopefully once you see them in play, you’ll see why we did things this way.

Updating the Rules

We had four core principles with regards to updating the rules.

  1. The rules must be easily identifiable as being Torg.
  2. The resolution of actions must be fast and easy
  3. Reduce the number of sub-systems while keeping the Torg flavor.
  4. Changes must provide benefits. No changes for the sake of change.

Balancing these principles was not easy. We experimented with different ideas, different systems, and eventually hammered out a rules set we think meets each of those goals.

Some things we knew for sure we needed to keep, in order to keep it feeling like Torg.

  • An ‘Eternity shard’ d20 core die (That’s right! It’s coming back!)
  • The Drama Deck.
  • Possibilities.
  • The logarithmic scale.
  • Interaction Attacks and Approved Actions.
  • The Core Mechanic

The core mechanic for Torg Eternity is the same as it originally was: roll a d20, re-roll and add on 10s and 20s, then compare the result to a bonus chart. We did investigate eliminating the bonus chart, but the knots we tied ourselves into trying to keep the rest of the rules looking like Torg were too much. Getting rid of the bonus chart (while keeping the d20) would have made the game completely different.


We now standardize rolls of 1 (and occasionally larger ranges) as a Mishap, with result in various effects such as disconnection and weapons malfunctions.

Success Levels

There is no action total and effect total, just the total, which you compare to a Difficulty Number (DN). You don’t have to remember what bonus you rolled as you resolve your action. There are only three success levels: Standard (equal to the DN), Good (DN+5), and Outstanding (DN+10). The exact amount you succeed by doesn’t matter, only those ranges. It’s quick and easy to determine how well you succeeded in an action.

Many actions, spells, miracles, and psionic powers have more powerful effects on Good or Outstanding results. If you get a Good result when attacking, you get to roll a bonus die (two on an outstanding hit).

The Bonus Die

The bonus die is a d6, and gives a bonus to damage equal to the roll, and this die explodes too! On a roll of 6 (or the eternity symbol on the custom ‘Eternity shard’ d6), it counts as a 5 and you roll again and add, continuing until the die no longer explodes.

We realize that this will likely be the main controversial new mechanic, but we’ve found that it’s quick and it works. Plus, exploding dice are fun!

It’s the combination of the quick and easy resolution of actions via only three success levels combined with the bonus die that allows us to keep the bonus chart and not have it too unwieldly.

Do You Want to Know More?

If you’d like to discuss this preview on our forums, just head here, where Dean will elaborate some more.

18 thoughts on “Torg Eternity Preview #1 – Updating a Classic”

  1. Paul says:

    The really nice thing about having an Action Total and an Effect Total was that the Effect Total was commensurate to the Action Total, in that if your Action Total was crap, the effect you had on your target or in casting your spell or in surviving Backlash was equally crappy, but if the Action Total was really good, so too was your effect in the game with whatever you were doing. That’s one of the elements I really enjoyed about the game. Adding the “Bonus Die”, I feel, will still allow those who rolled crappy to potentially reverse the crappy roll, and the point is that your Character CAN fail, not that they can take their trophy and go home, even if they lost. Sorry, that’s just the way I feel about it; I will support your game, but I will stick with the original Action and Effect Total mechanics, thanks.

  2. Sylior says:

    I’m curious how rolling crappy would allow the Bonus Die to come into play, as the preview says it only comes in if you roll a Good or Outstanding result, which are statically higher than a basic success.

    Did I misread something here?

  3. Carl says:

    I don’t yet see where the bonus chart comes in. If you beat the DN or by +5 or by +10 is easy. What are you looking up on the chart? Or are you looking up a bonus that you then add to your skill to see if you beat the DN? I remember that’s how it used to work but always felt a bit clumsy in practice. Not a criticism, just a comment. Is there a formula for calculating the bonus from a given die roll? For instance, the Chaosium resistance table you can do in your head once you know the math.

  4. Jim Blanas says:

    I recall a game of the original where the PCs were trapped in a crypt in Orrorsh as a horde of zombies was pouring in. The CyberPriest rolled to turn them and got an 85. The Hand of God descended from the skies, flipped off the zombies, and they all turned around and went back to their graves.

  5. Carl says:

    Regarding the bonus die, when it explodes, why does it count as a 5, instead of a 6? That means one sixth of the time, your bonus die will explode and you’ll only roll a 1, meaning that exploding was irrelevant/wasted. It also means that when the bonus die does explode, you have to remember that it is only a five instead of the 6 that the die is showing; that seems like a step that players need to remember each time and that isn’t really required. Does counting the exploding die as a 6 rather than a 5 make much of a difference?

  6. Tashiro says:

    I’m going to definitely need to give this a test run. My group didn’t have problems figuring out action totals and such, but a new mechanic is a new mechanic, and we’ll give it a fair go. The glass ninja effect got fixed in Revised TORG (where you used the difference of your action total and your difficulty to determine the result for damage), but we’ll see how this goes – it IS going to be smoother, from what you’re saying, and smooth is good.

    I’ve got two TORG d20s, I’m looking forward to getting a third, and I’ll need to get an equal number of TORG d6s. 🙂

  7. Sylior says:

    @Carl: Something that came up on the forums – Why is it a 5 instead of a 6?

    Say it is a 6 and explode. How then do you get a bonus of 6?

    1. Carl says:

      I hadn’t joined the forums when I posted the question so I hadn’t seen the replies to my question. I get the idea, given that the bonus die is used on damage and such I think it’s a minor difference but I’m happy to wait and try it out.
      I like the idea of using some d6s as well as the Torg D20, I’m just used to exploding dice providing their face value. People WILL become used to it but I was just questioning if it is necessary to have a speed-bump, even a minor one, in the learning curve for the new game.
      I would say that I was quite surprised by number of people who also pointed out the same thing; the d6 is enough of a change (which I like) without adding non-standard rules for reading that dice.

  8. Dean says:

    Sorry about that Carl! I meant to add a comment here to link to the forum post after I posted it and then forgot.

    All I can say is that the issue with the bonus die counting as a 5 when exploding has not come up once during playtesting and wasn’t an issue in the feedback in the GenCon demos.

    Plus we’re hoping that you use the custom dice so you never see a ‘6’ in the first place. 🙂

  9. Carl says:

    I’m wondering if reversing the order in which you check the bonus chart might help? These are my thoughts on it.

    Currently, as I understand it, a PC rolls, checks the chart and adds the bonus to their skill which is then checked against the DC.

    Instead, if the PC subtracts their skill from the DN, then checks the chart, then rolls the dice, they know what they need ON THE DICE ROLL and get the immediacy of seeing the result on the dice.

    E.g. Gospog has red 8, PC has 12. I know I need -4 or better or a die roll of 7 or better. I can see immediately if I have made the roll. I know a 13+ will give me a good and a 19+ will be outstanding.

    It also allows the DM to keep difficulties secret, if they wish.

    E.g. DM asks PC “What’s your skill?” DM checks the chart. ” Okay, what did you roll? A twelve? Well, you hit the Gospog but it wasn’t a fatal blow.” The PC doesn’t need to know the Gospog’s Dex, they know that a 12 hits but isn’t a Good result.

    Thoughts, anyone?

  10. Carl says:

    Rather than an eternity symbol on the sixth face of the custum d6, perhaps it should have a 5+? So the numbers would run 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5+. Simple and the players are still reading the die at its ‘face’ value.

  11. Tim says:

    Long time player, first time poster. Got to say, I do like the bonus d6. I have group of engineers and math nerds, and I can already see tons of uses for it.

    First, I can use it as a reward. I like to keep defense numbers secret, and if a player comes up with a great way of attacking the baddie, numbers be damned! Get an extra d6!

    Secondly, I’ve been in more than a couple of situations where the players just drag the encounter out. And I was SOOO over this fight ten minutes ago. ‘You hit, get an extra 2d6’.

    I can already see myself adding this randomness to group of shocktroopers. They all have the same defenses, but the tough sergeant subtracts a d6 and the weak privates add a d6 or 2. Environmental effects, some types of combat advantage, etc could all do the same.

    What I really would like to see is a good skill resolution for when the players roll poorly on a ‘must succeed’ check. TORG is (in my opinion) a very investigation heavy based game, and I’ve seen games grind to a halt because the clue wasn’t found (especially in the classic modules). Perhaps the bonus d6 can help mitigate that.

    My two pfennig

    1. Dean says:

      We’ve actually stated right out that if a clue in an investigation is *required* to be found or the adventure grinds to a halt, they just find it.

      The skill roll then becomes, “Can you find anything more?” or “Do you _understand_ what you found?”

  12. John Smith says:

    Rather than an eternity symbol on the sixth face of the custom d6, perhaps it should have a 5+

  13. The given information about RPG Torg eternity is very helpful for me. Because i was searching the same information that you have shared in your blog like Rules for games, Bonus dice and success levels. Thank you so much Mr. Eric.

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