The World of Torment: Tides of Numenera

Planescape: Torment was an odd’un, wasn’t it? Compared to the high-fantasy, medievalesque continent of IceWind Dale and Baldur’s Gate, or even the relatively plain steamworks of Arcanum, the multiverse of Planescape was enthralling and unique: talking skulls, death as a mechanic and a sentient alley figured among many other bizarre things that made most cRPGs at the time seem tame in setting. It stands to reason that the spiritual sequel, Torment: Tides of Numenera [Official Site], even if not in the same world, emulates the same bizarreness of its prequel – and there isn’t a better setting for that than the Ninth World. There’s an explanative video below, and a few of my words on the setting as someone who’s played the tabletop game.

The Ninth World is the setting of Monte Cook’s tabletop role-playing game, Numenera, a world that is eons in the future and that has seen the rise and fall of its denizens eight times, from “[…]stone age to stellar empire, multidimensional civilization, or perhaps transcendency to near godhood.”, each leaving remnants of its former civilizations scattered across the planet. The Numenera are these remnants, technological marvels that, as Arthur C. Clarke would put them, are indistinguishable from magic. As someone who’s played the tabletop game and read the books, I can tell you that you can expect nearly anything: you can find useful cyphers such as elixirs that are capable of regenerating entire limbs in seconds, to entertaining but likely useless oddities such as a device that emits a projection of a human face that changes expression depending on what direction it is facing.

The dissonant co-existence of advanced technology from past empires and a relatively young civilization, the ninth, is central in the setting’s theme.

While Torment: Tides of Numenera will face the inevitable restrictions of placing a role-playing game within the virtual confines of code, the setting it chose is as groundbreaking as Planescape was in 1998. The Ninth World is not entirely fantasy or science fiction, and it certainly doesn’t lack its share of eldritch and planar oddities, but a weird amalgamation of all these types. There are religious orders and crusades, ancient machines bigger than entire cities, ethereal entities, vying factions and the last castoff, you. I’ve dabbled in the early access version of the game but have not played the entirety of what’s available yet, and won’t spoil you as to what your character is and anything particular to the story, but in the meantime you can watch the trailer below, which talks about the world without going into the specifics:

Torment is slated for an early release in 2017, having been pushed back from its initial launch window of late 2016. The game’s early access version is available for purchase on Steam, and until the 8th of October you can get yourself physical goodies by “pledging” (buying) at their website.


One thought on “The World of Torment: Tides of Numenera

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