Design and Commentary: Ks. Jim Ogle
Commentary: Phil Dack, Winston-in-a-Box, Gordon
.pdf of this article.
Torg is a cinematic multi-genre game. Its mechanics support
not only multiple genres, but also trans-genre play. In the game,
each cosm is representative of a genre: Orrorsh for horror, Aysle
for fantasy, the Nile for pulp action, and so forth.
World Laws are widely regarded as among the worst.
They are bland, uninspiring, and donít define a genre
These cosms are rated in Axioms—numeric levels of advancement—and
World Laws. Axioms are invariant: a 23 means the same thing in
all cosms. World Laws are custom rules, unique to a cosm, that
define and implement the genre of that cosm.
Earth’s World Laws (originally published in the Delphi
Council Worldbook) are widely regarded as among the worst.
They are bland, uninspiring, and don’t define a genre at
One can’t fully blame the writer; it’s hard to devise
World Laws for a cosm with no defined genre and Core Earth, alone
of all the cosms, has no explicit genre. We know Aysle is the Reality
of Magic, but what is Core Earth the reality of?
This article gives new World Laws for Core Earth, World Laws that
embody the genre of the cosm and offer mechanics to reflect that
genre in play.
In order to devise appropriate World Laws for Earth, we first
have to start by defining its genre.
The Genre of Earth
designing these World Laws, the author drew on a
wide variety of “near real-world” action-adventure
movies for inspiration, including (but not limited
to) the following:
Hard, Die Harder, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Lethal
Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2, Under Siege, Executive Decision,
Murder at 1600, Broken Arrow, Face/Off, Mission Impossible
1, Mission Impossible 2, The Sum of All Fears, Con
Air, The Rock, Bad Boys, S.W.A.T., Speed, True Lies,
Eraser, and Enemy of the State.
simplest explanation is that Earth already has them,
in the aforementioned Delphi Council Worldbook.
Even if we ignored that, Core Earth does have custom
rules, unique to itself, and these custom rules are
could be argued that, since Core Earth reflects the
real world, and the real world has no genre, Core
Earth can’t have a genre. The problem is, Core
Earth isn’t the real Earth. It’s a cinematic
version of Earth, and “cinematic Earth” accurately
encapsulates this. “Cinematic Earth” is
what Core Earth is, “Cinematic Earth” is
what Core Earth must be in Torg. This is
a genre, one intrinsic to the nature of the Core
Earth has a genre and it already has World Laws.
Given these, the World Laws of Earth ought to match
the genre, ought to encourage events and tropes common
to the genre. More, the World Laws must also implement
and explain the unique powers of Core Earth’s
reality. Since the official World Laws don’t
achieve this, new World Laws are needed.
World Law Summary
Threat of Villainy: Heroes and villains
are extraordinary individuals who have made a choice
to follow a specific moral path. Heroes choose
the path of benevolence and selflessness, villains
the path of selfishness and malevolence. Villains
will conspire to gain power, wealth, or to indulge
other selfish drives.
Power of Hope: Whenever villainy manifests,
a hero will arise to confront it. If the hero perseveres,
they can overcome and succeed against incredible
odds. No matter how bleak the situation may seem,
there is always hope.
Gift of Inspiration: Possibilities inspire,
and no cosm has more Possibility Energy than Core
Earth. Core Earther’s have an unusual knack
for sudden insights, insights which allow them
to understand something new or to see something
old in a new light. These insights inspire artists,
researchers, and larger-than-life heroes and villains,
enabling them to do things they never could have
Defining Core Earth’s genre involves a straightforward
restatement of what Core Earth actually is. Torg is a “cinematic” game,
where “cinematic” means “reflecting the pacing
and action of Action Movies.” Core Earth is the real world
as it exists in Torg. Therefore, Core Earth is “cinematic” Earth:
The real world as it is depicted in Action Movies. “Cinematic” Earth
is the genre of Core Earth.
Not only is this a logical inevitability (if you have a “real
world” setting in a cinematic game, it has to be the “cinematic
real world”), but it also matches the nature of Earth as
explored in the game material. More, it matches the themes and
pace of Torg (almost by definition). And, as we shall
later see, the tropes of action movies help explain some of the
more fantastic elements of Core Earth’s reality.
By looking at the tropes and themes of “nearly real world” action
movies (such as Die Hard, Speed, Lethal Weapon, Mission Impossible,
and The Rock), we can gain insights into the genre of Core Earth,
and thus derive World Laws for the cosm. Of course, the extant
official material must guide us as well.
The Powers of Core Earth
Even though action movie tropes are the core of Earth’s
reality, they are not its whole. According to the game material,
Core Earth has a powerful influence far beyond the borders of the
Core Earth forms more Storm Knights than any other reality involved
in the Possibility Wars. The Storm Knights it creates are filled
with Possibility Energy, more than any other cosm (see pg. 42 of
the Ravagons Sourcebook).
Not only that, but Core Earth creates new Storm Knights in the
realities invading Earth, Storm Knights of that reality, and does
so even in their home cosms. These Knights are filled with extra
Possibility Energy as well.
This means that, through a mechanism not explained in the official
material, Core Earth has the ability to alter what happens in a
Moment of Crisis, even the power to cause a Moment of Crisis and
create a Storm Knight. This power extends throughout the Core Earth
cosm and into the cosms attached to her.
There’s more. Core Earth is reaching out into the cosmverse,
to far distant realities, and drawing Storm Knights to her, to
aid against the High Lords (Core Earth cannot create Storm Knights
there, but she can draw them to her). Core Earth’s influence
extends far beyond the cosm itself, even beyond the cosms attached
to Earth, out into the cosmverse.
All of these abilities are present in the official material (see
pg. 184 of the Revised and Expanded Torg Rulebook)
and are dramatically different than those any other reality has.
They are custom rules, unique to the Core Earth cosm. That is,
they are part of Core Earth’s World Laws, and any proposed
Core Earth World Laws must account for them. In particular, the
World Laws have to explain why Core Earth has an influence far
beyond what is possible for any other reality.
Genres of Reality
Last, as Core Earth is the cinematic version of the Real World,
it has the same media and cultures as the real world, including
fantasy novels, horror novels, comic books, and cyberpunk novels.
It can be noted, and seems a bit strange, that the invading cosms
so neatly match the fiction of Earth.
Out-of-game, this is the result of a conscious choice by the
designers of Torg to make a multi-genre game. There needs
to be an in-game explanation as well, one that identifies why so
many cosms match Earth’s fiction and what that means. The
World Laws of Earth should provide this explanation.
The World Laws
Powers are caused by her immense reservoir of Possibility
Energy. This energy is filtered through the cosm’s
Possibility Nexus, then broadcast throughout the
World Laws in
to the Torg Rulebook, Core Earth’s
reality has an influence throughout the cosm, even
in invader’s realms, and into invader’s
cosms. Core Earth’s World Laws, therefore,
are in effect throughout Core Earth, even in invader’s
realms, and in the invader’s home cosms.
means that Core Earth Storm Knights always have access
to their own World Laws in all those places. So long
as they are in the Core Earth cosm or in a cosm attached
to Core Earth, they can access their World Laws without
contradiction, even in alien Pure Zones, as if they
were using a Reality Bubble. This (as discussed above)
is because Core Earth is sustaining its World Laws
far beyond its borders, allowing them to work where
they normally wouldn’t.
effect is similar to the Ravagon Law of the Most
Real (pg. 40, Ravagons Sourcebook), except
that it only supports Core Earth’s World Laws
and then only in invader’s realms or home cosms.
In cosms removed from the Wars, Earth World Laws
cause contradictions as normal.
Earth has powerful abilities that have an effect far beyond what
would normally be possible. A game mechanical explanation is simple:
Core Earth’s World Laws are Powers, like Orrorsh’s
Powers of Fear and Corruption. As Powers, they evade the restrictions
normally placed on World Laws (cf pg. 57, the Orrorsh Sourcebook).
In-game, Earth’s Powers are caused by her immense reservoir
of Possibility Energy. This energy is filtered through the cosm’s
Possibility Nexus, then broadcast throughout the cosm, into invading
cosms, and across the cosmverse. In cosms attached to Earth, this
acts to create Storm Knights (among other things), and in cosms
far removed from Earth, it draws Storm Knights to the cosm.
Possibility energy is required for this to work. The Everlaws,
including the Everlaw of One, enforce their dictates through Possibility
Energy. To create new Storm Knights, Core Earth must strengthen
the Everlaw of Two (or Four, depending on circumstances), sending
it enough Possibility Energy to make it stronger than the Everlaw
Since the Everlaw of Two is what allows contradictions to exist,
strengthening it allows Core Earth to have an effect even in places
where the Everlaw of One would shut it down. The Everlaw of One
sends a surge of energy, in an attempt to remove the contradiction,
but the Everlaw of Two (strengthened by Earth’s Possibility
Energy) prevents this from occurring. By this, Earth can affect
natives of other realities, even in their home cosms.
The Paradigm of “Cinematic” Earth
Most action movies follow a similar story template: a villain
launches a dangerous plot, which a hero accidentally stumbles upon
and, after a struggle against great odds, overcomes. This is the
plot of movies like the “Die Hard” series, “Under
Siege”, “Broken Arrow”, “Face/Off”,
and others too numerous to mention.
Cinematic Earth’s central paradigm is this: “Villains
plot to do evil, and heroes appear to fight and eventually defeat
them.” This clash between villains and heroes is central
to Cinematic Earth.
The Threat of Villainy
On Heroism and
most cosms, there is no definite line between heroism
and villainy. The Nile is an obvious exception, with
its stark contrast between Good and Evil. Even so,
the Law of Morality doesn’t identify heroes
or villains, as it affects everyone in the cosm.
A Good shopkeeper who isn’t necessarily a larger-than-life
hero and an Evil teacher isn’t always a nefarious
villain. On Earth, heroes and villains are always
at least somewhat larger than life.
contrast to the Nile, cosms like Tharkold lack a
definite morality, and moral decisions are colored
in tones of gray. The very notion of a “hero” would
strike most Tharkoldu or Race members as a bizarre,
aberrant state of mind- a person who tried to act
heroic in Tharkold would very quickly wind up dead,
as the odds are just too stacked against him. The
ugly, grinding brutality of the War makes heroism
impractical. In addition, the World Laws of Tharkold
encourage behavior that is unheroic (Domination,
Pain, and so forth).
morality of Earth lies somewhere between the stark
Good/Evil of the Nile and the brutal moral ambiguity
This World Law states: “Heroes and villains are extraordinary,
larger-than-life individuals who have made a choice to follow a
specific moral path. Heroes choose the path of benevolence and
selflessness, villains the path of selfishness and malevolence.
Villains will conspire to gain power, wealth, or to indulge other
In other realities, the opportunity to transcend
is a matter of pure chance. Whether by confronting an alien reality
or through the graces of the Everlaw of Four, Moments of Crisis
occur to random individuals, without regard to their morality or
alignment. Transcending requires a moral choice, but the opportunity
to transcend can happen to anyone. In contrast, Earth’s World
Laws choose specific individuals to transcend: individuals who
are either villains or heroes.
Villains are people who seek to fulfill their own needs and desires
above those of any other. They have little concern for others,
save in those cases where others can help them achieve their goals.
Villains are malevolent. They enjoy the suffering of others, or
simply ignore it. They have no desire to help those in need.
Heroes are those who take up the burden to defend the innocent,
protect the defenseless, and act with courage in the face of danger.
Heroes are people who have a strong sense of duty, selflessness,
and responsibility. Heroes seek to aid the needy, protect the helpless,
and ease the suffering of others. They are benevolent, decent,
Unlike the Nile, these categories are not proscriptive: no one
is forced to fit into either. On the contrary, these are descriptive:
they define certain behaviors, and individuals who follow those
behaviors are proactively transcended, while those who do not remain
Core Earth seeks to create heroes and villains who are “larger
than life.” This is satisfied, in part, just by transcending
them: by becoming possibility-rated, they have higher attribute
and skill values than ords. In addition, during character creation
Earth Storm Knights can get a type specialization or a trademark
specialization (or both) without spending any possibilities (see
ppg. 34-35, the Revised and Expanded Torg Rulebook).
More, they gain one free roll-again per module to use with that
one specialization at any time. In general, characters who choose
such a specialization will gain a reputation as being “the
best” at what
they do- it will become their signature feature, even above a tag
Non-Player Characters, both heroes and villains, will often have
such specializations. Gamemasters are encouraged to think of colorful
and unusual specializations, to individualize these characters.
plots are central to cinematic Earth’s paradigm,
but are also a central theme of the Torg game
as a whole. Many Torg modules and much of Torg’s
fiction involve villainous plots that Storm Knights
stumble upon and stop. This isn’t problematic.
Laws exist to enhance a certain theme appropriate
in a given reality, not to ban that theme from every
other reality. The Nile Empire has a World Law of
Action, but it isn’t the only realm that has
action scenes. The Cyberpapacy has the World Law
of Suspicion, but it isn’t the only cosm where
people are suspicious. The Land Below has the Law
of Savagery, but people from other realities can
also be savage.
even though schemes of villains are central to the
Cinematic Earth genre, and thus must be part of Earth’s
World Laws, villains in every reality can and do
scheme. And if villains scheme a bit more on Earth
than they would normally, well that’s just
because Earth’s reality encourages that sort
of thing. Really, it is to be expected.
World Laws are Powers, and even extra-cosmic villains
in Earth find that they both aid and hinder them.
Their plotting and planning will go far better than
mere chance would dictate, up until the moment when
a hero responds, whereupon they find themselves engulfed
in a fight they may not have anticipated. A wise
and experienced villain might plan for this, but
no plan can guarantee success in the face of Storm
As a result of this World Law, villains are given opportunities
to conspire and plot, so that the Threat of Villainy may manifest.
Heroes are placed in situations where they can discover and defeat
the plots of villains.
This World Law fosters the villainous plots that heroes encounter
and fight against. It empowers villains to take those actions that
cause a Threat of Villainy to manifest.
Villains have many goals, chief of which are wealth and power.
In order to achieve these goals, Earth villains devise and enact
intricate and improbable plots. In the real world, such ambitious
plots would be highly implausible, overly complex, and virtually
guaranteed to fail. The reality of “cinematic” Earth
ensures that these plots remain undiscovered and unchecked, until
the Threat fully manifests itself and a hero can rise to confront
the villain. The reality of Earth rewards villains who do not think
Not all crimes qualify as a Threat of Villainy. The police can
solve normal crimes. Threats of Villainy require the direct intervention
of a larger-than-life hero, or even a group of heroes. A Threat
of Villainy is a plot so large, so ambitious, and so dangerous
that only reality-rated heroes have a chance to stop it, and then
only after a significant, sustained effort in the face of nearly
Villains who organize a plot find that this World Law actively
aids them, by manipulating events through seeming coincidences.
Against all expectations, these plots are planned and launched
with no interference (the World Law ensures that this is so).
Villains usually find just the individuals they need to carry
out their plot. They will meet or discover lieutenants with the
knowledge and skills that are required, they will find officials
who can be bribed, scientists who can be blackmailed, or inventors
who have created the exact tool that the villain needs. (Very often,
their chief lieutenants will themselves be reality-rated villains-
assisting in another villain’s plot satisfies the demands
of the Threat of Villainy as well.)
Apparent coincidences will aid the villain in other ways. The
police, the FBI, and other mundane authorities will remain ignorant
of the plot, allowing the villain to carry out most activities
completely unopposed. The villain will conveniently gain access
to plans, blueprints, or other sources of information. They will
gain access to enough money to finance the elaborate scheme. Very
little will go wrong, up until the moment when the villains plan
has progressed far enough to prove a real threat to a band of heroes.
At that point, the Power of Hope takes effect.
If game mechanics are needed, villains are considered to be Up
when making skill checks to advance or implement their plan. In
most cases, this shouldn't occur in play. Once the Player Characters
have gotten involved, the Power of Hope has taken
effect and the villain looses the Up advantage.
If the gamemaster
feels it is appropriate, he can allow the villain this advantage
in play, but only in the first scene
of the module, or a prelude scene. The villain should never be
Up, once Player Characters are directly involved with his plot.
It may seem that this World Law is opposed to the Power of Hope.
In reality, this World Law seeks to provide the circumstances that
allow Hope to exist. If there were no dangers, courage would be
impossible. If there were no challenges, hope would be superfluous.
Villains exist to endanger and challenge innocents and heroes.
In this manner, villains make hope possible.
World Law descriptions in the rest of the article
focus on possibility-rated heroes and villains, because
the focus of the game is on player characters, all
of whom are possibility-rated. Yet the World Laws
so described also have an effect on the ordinary
citizens living and working in Core Earth.
of the time, Ords in Core Earth live lives virtually
indistinguishable from those lived by people in the “real
world.” The technologies and societies are
the same, and the same mundane struggle for survival
that engages us, engages them. (Obviously, this is
before the Wars begin.)
they become embroiled in the clashes between heroes
and villains, in which they are usually outmatched,
and they must rely on a hero to save the day. In
many other cases, they themselves are the hero.
ords, the Threat of Villainy manifests in small,
day-to-day matters. A grocer might see a customer
being harassed by punks, by intervening to save the
customer, he is drawing on the Power of Hope to thwart
their Threat of Villainy.
events are as common for Core Earth ords as for people
in the real world. In a specific sense, these events
are the heart of life in Core Earth and the cumulative
effect of such small moments of heroism matters far
more (in most cases) than the efforts of heroes.
one sense, heroes only exist to inspire people, to
set an example, to give them hope. By serving as
an example, they inspire ords to act like heroes
themselves. A heroic decision, made by an ord at
a key moment in time, may actually cause the ord
to be transcended by the reality of Core Earth.
inspire, and those they inspire can also become heroes.
For the ordinary citizens of Core Earth, this is
the significance of Hope and Inspiration.
This World Law seeks to raise the ante for both heroes and villains.
It does so for villains by increasing the stakes involved in their
plots. It does so for heroes by making the Threat of Villainy personal.
Whenever a Threat of Villainy manifests, a Earth Storm Knight
can choose to activate a Personal Stake subplot (as the card) without
having to draw the subplot from the Drama Deck. This subplot represents
a friend, relative, partner, or other emotionally significant NPC
being drawn into the villain’s plot.
The player must roleplay the subplot accordingly, evincing a
desire to save their NPC, just as if the Personal Stake subplot
was in play. This may only be declared once per adventure, and
does not count towards the player’s one-subplot-per-adventure
maximum. As with all subplots, this is subject to gamemaster approval.
Players can even choose to create a dependent, such as a spouse
or child, who is frequently drawn into their adventures. When they
player chooses to activate their “bonus” Personal Stake
subplot, this dependent is the character who has become embroiled
in the plot.
Dark Heroes and Noble Villains
The definitions of “hero” and “villain” (above)
are fairly extreme and seemingly one sided. If proscriptive, they
could render any character into a one-dimensional caricature. This
is not the intent of the World Law. No hero need match every one
of the listed characteristics, similarly no villain need embody
all of their description. What matters, in both cases, in what
they choose to do.
Villains pursue their own goals, at the expense of others, even
innocent others. Heroes choose to place themselves in danger, to
protect others. Villains can be noble and heroes can be arrogant,
alcoholic, selfish, racist, or ruthless. When it come down to making
a choice, heroes choose to aid others. Villains choose to aid themselves.
An example of a noble villain is Gen. Francis X. Hummel, from The
Rock. His plot—to steal 20 VX gas rockets and threaten
San Francisco—is a classic Threat of Villainy. That he
had no intention of murdering civilians, is irrelevant: he placed
innocent others in danger to achieve his goals.
When pressed, he acquiesced in the execution of the SEALS. He
threatened—with apparent sincerity—to kill a civilian,
in order to get the guidance chips back. That his goals may have
been noble (to see his fallen soldiers honored and their families
recompensed) is irrelevant: he was committed to his ends over all
other considerations, and risked the lives of hundreds of thousands
of innocents to achieve his goal.
At the end, when pressured to make good on his threats, he turned
away from becoming a mass murderer. Betrayed by his subordinates
and shot, he sought to rectify his error and undo the damage he
caused. In that moment, he turned away from villainy and was (somewhat)
The redemption of a villain is always a possibility, perhaps
more so in Core Earth than any other reality. Giving the villain
a chance to recant and atone is an act of nobility and heroism.
When facing a noble, and perhaps penitent, villain the use of persuasion and charm might
be advised. Gamemasters might consider allowing this, even if the
original module didn’t call for it. After all, noble villains
have less-than-noble henchmen or lieutenants (as Hummel did) who
can step into his shoes.
The Power of Hope
The Power of Hope states this: “Whenever villainy manifests,
a hero will appear to confront it. If the hero perseveres, they
can overcome and succeed against incredible odds. No matter how
bleak the situation may seem, there is always hope.”
Most action movies revolve around a hero who stumbles on a villains
plot, and must defeat it. Similarly, heroes of Core Earth are drawn,
by apparent coincidence, to places where Threats of Villainy are
about to appear (or have already appeared).
Like the previous World Law, this operates mostly by coincidence.
A hero might find his flight cancelled, his car might break down,
his superiors might order him on an unexpected trip. Alternately,
the villains might find themselves unexpectedly stumbling across
a hero (or hero-in-waiting), even in the most out-of-the way, nondescript
location. Coincidence acts to bring heroes and villains together.
And, when coincidence fails, this World Law just creates a hero.
Action movies are rife with apparently normal people who, in
the midst of a crisis, become a hero and do great things, even
against monumental odds. This is an intrinsic part of Core Earth’s
Example: A common street cop, an ord,
is attending a Halloween party, when a band of terrorists
take the revelers, including his estranged wife, hostage.
Though originally an ord, he is the only potential hero in
the vicinity, so the Power of Hope infuses him with possibility
energy, and causes him to transcend. He becomes a Storm Knight.
Why Does This
**** Always Happen to Me?
Knights in Earth tend to be at the center of unusual
events much of their lives. Coincidence drives them
to stumble upon Threats of Villainy, and villains
seem inexplicably drawn to them and their loved ones.
there were one Storm Knight in all of California
and one vampire in all of California, the vampire
would coincidentally choose to attack the hometown
of the Storm Knight, or his sister, or him. The same
stuff can happen to a guy twice, no matter how outré it
seems. The reality of Earth guarantees this.
Storm Knights who continually turn away from Threats
of Villainy, ignoring the plight of others, may find
the reality of Earth no longer aiding their actions.
In extremis, they may find themselves stripped of
their status as Storm Knights, becoming ordinary
Earth possibility-rateds are meant to be larger-than-life.
Those who shun this role, who evince a desire to
be ordinary, become ordinary. Others step into the
spotlight in their place.
are no specific mechanics for this, as it is exceedingly
unlikely to happen to a Player Character. Player
Characters go through modules, and by definition
the actions that take place in a module are of sufficient
heroism as to avoid this fate.
has more of an effect on Non-Player Characters. A
hero who left the spotlight, shunning his abilities
and consequently losing them, might be an interesting
NPC. Such an individual could serve as a Contact
or Personal Stake. If the module involves discovering
the heroic past they’ve hidden, that’s
a True Identity.
this could be the background of a Player Character.
A retired hero, reluctantly drawn back into the spotlight
is the sort of character whole movies—and Clint
Eastwood’s career—are built upon.
When a new Earth Storm Knight is created (for whatever reason),
the transcended character gains the reality skill at 1
add, 10 Possibilities, 10 attribute points and 2 skill points.
(Ords transcended by the Power of Hope will have dire need of
these advantages, as the villains will almost surely have him outmanned
This is not normally the case elsewhere. In other cosms, newly-transcended
ords receive the same skill and attribute increases, but only
(see the Ravagons
Sourcebook, pg. 42). Yet, because Core Earth World Laws are
Powers, Storm Knights who arise in the the realities attached
to Earth now receive 10 Possibilities at transcendence, just as Earth
Storm Knights do. (Stormers anywhere do not.)
Through this World Law, Core Earth summons or creates heroes.
Whenever a villainous plot arises, Storm Knights are drawn to it,
through apparent coincidence, to oppose the villain.
Law draws Storm Knights to the cosm, from across the cosmverse,
to oppose the High Lords. More, if a villainous plot is underway
anywhere in those realities invading Earth, Storm Knights will
appear to oppose it. If no Storm Knights are available, Core Earth
simply creates one.
This World Law ensures that Earth has more and more active reality-rateds
than any other cosm. It is the reason that the areas that have
been conquered by the High Lords exhibit more Storm Knight activity
than the High Lords are used to. In the past, High Lords only needed
to send a few stormers into newly conquered areas in order to subdue
the heroic backlash.
This response was inadequate for Earth, and stemmed from a fundamental
misunderstanding of Earth’s nature. High Lords who do not
take this into account may find each stelae triangle they take
to be more trouble than it is worth.
Even as the Power of Hope empowers individual Storm Knights,
it also seeks to empower groups of Storm Knights. The Power of
Hope, working through apparent coincidences again, also drives
the creation of Storm Knight groups (who can manifest Group Powers).
Outrageous and improbable circumstances tend to drive complete
strangers into close proximity, all of whom are Storm Knights (or
potential Storm Knights). These strangers then form close bonds
and quickly learn to trust each other, even when circumstances
might indicate otherwise.
The Gift of Inspiration
Changing the Rules
of the Game
Knights always lose. Other than Kranod, every High
Lord who invaded Earth has won every single invasion
they’ve ever attempted. The youngest, Pharoah
Mobius, has destroyed nine cosms in 30 years. The
most experienced, the Gaunt Man, has had 2000 years
to invade and destroy realities and he won every
single time. It is a simple, ugly fact that Storm
Knights always lose.
now. Core Earth’s World Laws ensure that all
villainous plots are opposed, if only by a single
Storm Knight. This lone Storm Knight isn’t
guaranteed a victory, but without him a defeat would
be inevitable. And, while not having a guarantee
of victory, the World Laws of Earth ensure that defeat
is never assured. Earth-created heroes can fight
the High Lords on their own home ground and win.
facet of Earth’s reality is explained in the
first issue of the Infiniverse news letter (contained
in the Torg Boxed Set): Storm Knights are
presumed to win most modules. On Core Earth, Storm
Knights can hope to win, and Earth’s unique
World Laws make this possible.
High Lords rule their home cosms unchallenged. Storm
Knights, those who fight the High Lords, are rare
and rarely succeed. The odds are just too heavily
stacked against them. On Earth, this isn’t
true. More, because of the Power of Hope, it isn’t
true in the High Lords’ home cosms anymore.
The appearance of dozens or hundreds of new Storm
Knights—who, against all odds, can actually
defeat the High Lord’s plans—threatens
their power base.
Threat of Villainy raises the stakes for heroes and
villains, even in the Possibility Wars. For villains,
Earth offers them a chance to become the Torg, but
if they falter, they fall. For Storm Knights, the
whole world is at stake. If they falter, Earth dies.
For Storm Knights and High Lords both, the stakes
couldn’t be higher.
This World Law states: “Possibilities inspire, and no cosm
has more Possibility Energy than Core Earth. Core Earther’s
have an unusual knack for sudden insights, insights which allow
them to understand something new or to see something old in a new
light. These insights inspire artists, researchers, and larger-than-life
heroes and villains, enabling them to do things they never could
Possibility Energy is a potent force, the most fundamental force
(and most fundamental substance) of existence itself. Possibility
Energy enforces a reality’s Axioms (through the Everlaw of
One) and (through the Everlaw of Two) makes bending the limits
of those axioms possible. It does more beside.
Possibility Energy not only enforces the limitations of axioms,
not only allows those axioms to be bent, but actually inspires
people with visions of what is possible at higher axioms. Possibility
Energy inspires inventors and philosophers, prophets and mystics,
artists and writers. It inspires them to dream of the impossible,
to imagine things not yet real—because their axioms don’t
allow for them—and drives them to make their visions real.
It drives them to challenge the axiom and eventually to raise the
This process occurs in all cosms, but is far more prevalent on
Earth. Earth’s reality is almost totally Dominant: the Possibility
Energy of the cosm (molded by this World Law) makes experimentation
and investigation into higher axioms easier than in other realities.
This also makes it easier to raise the axioms of Earth (meaning
Core Earth’s axiom raise more quickly than those of other
realities). In addition, many areas of Earth have axiom levels
that are higher than the cosm’s usual ratings. Haiti, for
instance, has higher Magic and Spirit axioms than normal. Such
realms can exist in most cosms (see ppg. 147-148, the Revised
and Expanded Torg Rulebook), but they are usually
temporary. This World Law makes such realms more common in Core
Earth than in other realities, and more likely to become permanent.
Characters from such realms gain the benefits of the higher axiom
during character creation. Even Core Earth characters who are not
from such area can, once they encounter such a realm, attune themselves
to its higher axioms. By spending a Possibility (or gaining an
add in a skill that is affected by the higher axiom), the character
gains the benefit of the axiom increase.
Example: A Core Earth character who goes
to Free Portland (a Tech 24 hardpoint in the Living Land)
can spend a Possibility or gain an add in a Tech-related
skill (computer science being the most appropriate, for Portland)
and thus change their axiom from Tech: 23 to Tech: 23 (24).
the real world, people can act heroically in situations
where no villains are present. Firemen, police, soldiers — all
these professions occasionally involve the need for
heroic actions. (In fact, some of the exploits of
real world individuals —such as Audie Murphy — dwarf
the exploits of fictional heroes.)
events happen in Core Earth, just as they do in real
life and possibility-rated characters can obviously
do much to protect or save innocent lives. The World
Laws of Core Earth neither encourage nor discourage
such events, instead focusing on the clash of heroes
good question could be asked: Why? Why do the World
Laws of Earth engineer clashes between heroes and
answer is found in the nature of Possibility Energy
itself. Possibility Energy is a bipart energy, embodying
both creation and destruction. This is shown in its
red/blue color scheme: red for destruction, blue
for creation. Possibility Energy is constantly driving
both these opposing effects, destruction embodied
in High Lords and creation (or preservation) in Eternity
Shards and Storm Knights.
Core Earth, the struggle against destruction and
creation takes the form of the Threat of Villainy
and the Power of Hope. They are the local manifestation
of a cosmversal struggle between the two halves of
Fiction and Realities
consequence of the Gift of Inspiration is that Core
Earth’s fiction (including folklore, myths,
and stories) is more flexible, more varied, more
multi-facted and contradictory than that of other
realities. In one sense, this limits other cosms,
they’re just not as flexible as Core Earth.
Earthers are just as limited, though. We can only
dream of magic, in Aysle it’s real. We can
only tell tales of miracles, in the Living Land they
actually happen. We can only dream of traveling the
stars, while the Akashans do.
that sense, our existence is the more tragic: We
dream of other worlds, we long for other worlds,
other worlds seem real to us and we want them to
be real, but in the end we only live in this world.
Other realities are beyond our grasp.
Believing in Another
takes more than mere fascination for ords or stormers
to support an alien reality. Reality informs one’s
world view. People innately feel that their reality
is right, that this is the way existence should be.
In cosms that have never had contact with alien realities,
people usually believe that their reality is the
only possible one, that any other reality simply
before the Wars, many Earthers could accept the existence
of other realities: they believed (even if unconsciously)
that other realities could exist. Some went even
further. They didn’t just believe in other
realities in general, they accepted the truths underlying
some other reality, possibly even rejecting this
who sincerely believe that another reality would
be better than the real world, and wished that the
other world existed, could qualify as supporters
(even if they didn’t believe that other world
was real). Someone who strongly desired to live in
a world of chivalrous knights, castles, and dragons
might be susceptible to Ayslish reality (even if
Aysle doesn’t fulfill all their expectations).
Those who believe in the Singularity and look forward
to it, might become believers in an invading science
count as a supporter of another reality, the individual
would have to show more than mere interest or enthusiasm
for some aspect of that reality. Typically, they
would be enthusiastic to the point of eccentricity,
perhaps to the point of loathing or hating their
own world because it doesn’t measure up to
the one they imagine.
is up to players and gamemasters to determine if
any given Core Earth player character qualifies.
Gamemasters decide for non-player characters, of
of the mechanics of this section were borrowed from
(or inspired by) Ks. Jim Ogle’s excellent Core
Earth World Law rewrite; Ks. Jim has graciously
given his permission for them to appear here.
For more rules pertaining to such increases, see ppg. 10 & 113
of the Delphi Council Worldbook.
Inspiration, Hope, and Villainy
Possibility Energy’s ability to inspire visions of the possible
may be where it got its name: it’s the force the shows us
what is possible. This ability to inspire is what lies behind the
coincidences of the other two World Laws: the reality of Earth
subtly influences peoples‘ actions, by showing them what
they could do.
This World Law works with the other two in other ways. It inspires
villains to plot, so that Threats of Villainy may manifest. And,
in connection with the Power of Hope, it inspires heroes to endure.
The Power of Hope states that “[i]f the hero perseveres,
they can overcome and succeed against incredible odds. No matter
how bleak the situation may seem, there is always hope.” It
is part of the paradigm of “cinematic” Earth, that
when heroes strive against villains their first efforts fail. In
order to qualify as a Threat of Villainy, the plot has to be so
dangerous, the villain so empowered, that heroes can overcome it
only with great exertions.
Some time during that struggle, the heroes reach their lowest
point, when it seems as if everything is lost. This is when they
are given the Gift of Inspiration. Inspiration gives them an insight
into the villain’s plot, reinvigorates the heroes, alleviates
their exhaustion and makes it possible for them to continue the
In game terms, once a module a Core Earth character can Inspire
his party (as per the Conflict Line advantage, see pg. 116, the Revised
and Expanded Torg Rulebook). This removes all shock,
KO and knockdowns, and wakes unconscious characters. All characters
in the party immediately draw an additional Drama Deck card. In
addition, the Core Earth character receives a clue, usually an
important clue or a vital clue, about the villain’s plot,
his intended target, or his weaknesses.
Hope inspires, and the two World Laws work in concert to bring
Inspiration in the Possibility
That is how The Gift of Inspiration usually functions, how it
functioned before the Wars began. After the Possibility Wars started,
other abilities of the World Law came to light.
Invading cosms each embody some genre of Core Earth fiction.
Though the reason isn’t known on Earth (and is the subject
of much scientific speculation), the fact is that Earth’s
Possibility Nexus broadcasts Possibility Energy into the cosmverse
and draws it back, and has done so since the cosm was first created.
As Possibility Energy inspires, the alien Possibility Energy has
inspired the fiction of Core Earth, subtly shaping it to reflect
the nature of foreign realities.
Core Earth has been influenced by other realities, perhaps more
so than any other cosm ever. When people of other realities dream,
they dream of what is possible in their world. When people of Core
Earth dream, they dream of what is possible somewhere, of what
is possible elsewhere.
One of the chief tools of High Lords is shock. It is hard for
most people to accept that another reality is even possible, let
alone that it actually exists and more, that it has landed in your
backyard. On other worlds, even when stormers did appear, they
didn’t have enough time to adapt to the new tools, new abilities,
new truths of the invading reality. Before they could get their
bearings, their world was gone and the High Lord had moved on to
some other cosm. That didn’t happen on Core Earth.
It didn’t happen here because the natives of Core Earth
had an innate understanding that other realities existed. The Gift
of Inspiration has acted to inform people, subtly and invisibly,
of the existence of foreign realities. Subconsciously, many were
prepared to believe that other worlds, where reality was different,
could exist. For some, these realities were so compelling they
were ready to believe in them even before the invasion began (see “Believing
in Another Reality”).
Invading another reality requires believers. Because Core Earthers
are, in general, more willing to believe in other realities, invading
Core Earth only requires 25,000 believers per zone (pg. 176, the Revised
and Expanded Torg Rulebook), whereas invading another
cosm requires twice that, or more. Additionally, those Core Earthers
who believe in an alien reality are more easily transformed than
usual. For these people, use the result two columns lower on the
Transformation table (pg. 158, the Revised and Expanded Torg Rulebook),
to reflect the speed with which they transform.
Paradoxically, this World Law has also made some Core Earthers
more resistant to alien invaders. Those who do not support other
realities cling to their own far more fiercely than in other cosms.
For these ords, use the numbers given on the Transformation chart
(see sidebar, pg. 157, the Revised and Expanded Torg Rulebook for
These tendencies affect possibility-rated individuals as well.
Possibility-rated individuals who are strongly attached to Core
Earth’s reality gain +1 add in the reality skill. Those who
are susceptible to foreign realities more easily transform to those
realities: in Reality Storms involving that reality, they are considered
Last, this World Law aids Storm Knights in appropriating and
using the High Lords’ tools against them. Their innate understanding
of other realities allows Storm Knights to select one skill normally
not native to their reality, and learn and use it as if it were
native. The use of this skill isn’t a contradiction for the
Storm Knight anywhere in Core Earth or in the reality the skill
is native to. In other cosms whose axiom’s don’t support
the skill, its use is considered a 1-case contradiction (as the
character supports it, but the land doesn’t).
Core Earth’s reality also aids the planting of Glory seeds
(pg. 186, the Revised and Expanded Torg Rulebook).
Both the storyteller and the audience are inspired, the storyteller
to relate a story well, the audience to remember their former lives.
When planting story seeds on Earth or the invader's realms and
home cosms, storytellers gain a +3 bonus to their skill total.
The Storm Knights website and
its contents are copyright © 2001-2010
by Jasyn Jones.