Torment: Tides of Numenera RPS Interview, Part Two

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has published the second and last part of their lengthy Torment: Tides of Numenera interview, and this time questions and answers focus on the differences between the Numenera-based Kickstarter RPG and its spiritual father, Planescape: Torment. Here's a snippet:

RPS: PST wasn't a perfect game, despite how revered it is. What are you hoping to improve, fix, or redesign from the ground up?

Heine: Combat is the obvious one. Many felt that PST's combat was tedious and uninteresting, and we have set out to improve that from the start. PST also many times had to wrestle with or completely break its own RPG system. While we didn't choose Numenera because of its flexibility, it has turned out to be a huge boon on that front, giving us the freedom to do many things we could not have done otherwise. The only pushback we've really received from Monte Cook Games has been in terms of how we portray the Ninth World, and because we are eager to present the Ninth World correctly, we have been extremely happy with this feedback.

One thing we keep pushing on in TTON is that there should be no best solution, no best ending, and no preferable playthrough. PST did okay in this, but if you went in with a high Int/Wis/Cha character, you would experience a deeper and richer story than other character builds. And although PST's endings were pretty nuanced, there was one that is generally considered (best). In TTON, we hope that each player will feel that they got the best playthrough, because it was the playthrough that was best for them. This is a high bar, and I don't know if we can reach it, but we're sure as heck going to try.

RPS: On that front, you've got more than a decade of hindsight to work with. How is that different from making a sequel to a game that's only been out for, say, a year or two? Where do you even start? Do you second-guess yourself more? Less?

Saunders: I don't know that this is a universal truth, but in making TTON, we second-guess ourselves less. PST was a defining game for many, with its uniqueness being one of its striking qualities. We can't really provide the same experience while also embracing the uniqueness players loved about it. We're focused on creating an experience like the one PST provided.

We also have to remember that with so much time having passed, we will be compared with players' sometimes-distant recollections of PST not even the reality of the game they played! This is a greater challenge, I think, but on the other hand, it means we can more freely do what we deem best for this game instead of getting bogged down with trying to directly compete with a classic. We defined what we think makes a Torment game very early in the process per the four pillars described during the Kickstarter and it is our vision for the game that guides our decisions.

RPS: Can you give me any basic examples of companions you've come up with? How are yours different from the rather wide gallery of archetypes many RPGs pull from these days?

McComb: In general, we're trying to think of our companions as family members, and fitting them into the party in that relation to the PC. We'll give the player a choice of two companions at the start of the game. Due to a side effect of certain of the player's abilities, which can be honed throughout the game, the player can pick only one of these two to adventure with or can pick neither.

Since they appear almost at the start of the game, I think it's probably safe to reveal that one of them is a fallen Aeon Priest whose arms are covered with intricate, living tattoos. He can pull these tattoos from his body and siphon their energies to create a blazing wall of force or a spray of acid. The other companion is a brash nano, a mad-scientist type whose recklessness has turned her into a series of quantum shadows echoed through multiple realities. Either of these can act as a mentor, a replacement for the father-figure of the Changing God.

More bluntly, while our companions might contain echoes of archetypal companions, we intend that they'll prove themselves different in the execution.