The Let's Play Archive

Planescape: Torment

by Shadow Catboy

Part 42: A Belated Mechanics Intro

A Belated Mechanics Intro:

Man I miss this bar music.

Well I have to admit that I've been a very bad boy in that I simply jumped into the game without describing the system for the uninitiated. I'll edit the OP to link to this post and I'll do my best to update mechanics stuff in the future. After all, I'm playing a game, not (just) writing a goddamn novel.

Hopefully this will make understanding of the game more accessible to people who aren't Infinity Engine veterans.

It's important to remember that Torment and all the other Infinity Engine games were based on the 2nd edition ruleset of Dungeons & Dragons, AKA Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, named as such for being the most grotesquely bloated ruleset on the face of the planet until Hackmaster came along to parody it.

First, attributes. These are your physical and mental stats that determine you competence in six areas. They go from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 25. An attribute of 20 or above is something in the realm of the Gods. Generally in AD&D you roll 3 6-sided dice and add up the total to give you a result (giving you a stat that is, on average, between 8 and 13). However, Torment goes by a point-based system instead.

Strength: Physical muscle and power, determines to hit and damage in melee combat as well as how much stuff you can carry and your ability to break down doors. In a few rare instances you can use your strength to intimidate others. Our strength is shitty.

Intelligence: Normally Intelligence is useless for every AD&D class except mages, but since the multiverse in Torment is affected by belief and thought, a high Int is critical for making a powerful character in Torment. Since most fighters and thieves don't invest in Int at all because it doesn't help their class, the game isn't nearly as rich if you don't go mage. Int helps improve your ability to identify items at a glance, as well as what level of spells you can learn. It also affects TNO's ability to regain memories and his dialogue options. In normal AD&D games, exceptionally high intelligence gives you immunity to illusions. Unlike in other Infinity Engine games, you have a 100% chance of learning a new spell. Our intelligence is the highest achievable by a simple die roll, one of the best minds in a nation. Think of TNO being as a horribly scarred Dr. Gregory House who can shoot bolts of death out of his eyes.

Wisdom: Will, perception, and insight. Wisdom is marginally more useful for everyone in standard D&D, since it can improve your ability to shrug off some spells and effects. In normal AD&D games, at exceptionally high levels you gain immunities to certain enchantment spells like Charm and Domination. Our wisdom is red because it's currently being boosted by a magic item. This is THE most important attribute in Torment since at exceptionally high levels you get bonuses to experience gained, and it also enriches dialogue option things (neither of which are standard rules in traditional AD&D). TNO has reached a level of wisdom that only the Powers/Gods themselves can reach.

Dexterity: A high dexterity improves your aim in ranged combat as well as your ability to dodge attacks. You also act a little faster in combat. For thieves, a high dex also gives you certain bonuses to your thieving skills, but overall in Torment Dex isn't all that important since there aren't really any missile weapons and you can improve your Armor Class in plenty of other ways. TNO has crappy dex.

Constitution: Health and vitality. Again, in traditional AD&D, you get bonuses to health each level with high Constitution but for non-warriors the highest bonus you can get is +2/level. In traditional AD&D it has other effects like determining your chance of surviving Ressurection (which seems kind of self-defeating that you might not survive a Ressurection). For the Nameless One it drastically improves his ability to regenerate health. You'll often see this when you see a green +1 popping above TNO's head. Crappy con, but I plan to change this later after improving Int, Wis, and Cha a bit. Trust me, it is SWEET to see TNO regaining 1 point of life every split second until he's back up to full.

Charisma: Usually considered the "dump skill," in that a low charisma is of no concern for anyone unless you're a bard or a paladin. It affects your ability to relate to others. It's still not all that useful in Torment but it's the third most important of the mental stats. Pretty good charisma. TNO is a regular Cassanova, except without the syphilis (though considering how long he's been around and  how insane one of his past incarnations was  who can say for sure? )

This is our alignment, our moral compass of Good versus Evil, Law versus Chaos. Actions determine your Alignment in Torment. Currently it's Neutral Good, and while I'm playing the game with a mildly chaotic bent for amusement purposes, I'll eventually bump it up to Lawful Good either with reloading or a decent editor so I'll have access to some nifty magic items later on.

Hit points. Life, essentially. Mages get 1-4 per level, thieves 1-6, priests 1-8, and warriors 1-10. TNO always gets 1-10 per level regardless of class, and I have a maxHP mod simply to keep from having to constantly reload when I level up.

Armor class. The standard AC is 10, and strangely enough in AD&D the LOWER your AC, the better. 3 is pretty fucking good, on par with chain mail or so even if TNO is a sexy scarred bare-chested beast. This is due to him wearing an AC-improving magic item.

That big empty circle under the HP circle tells you what faction you're a member of: TNO has yet to join one.

As of now TNO is a 6th-level mage. Characters from levels 1-4 are pretty pussy, but by around 5th level they REALLY start to kick ass. This is especially true of mages, since they get fucking awesome area-effect spells like Fireball which deals 1-6 damage per level (AKA 1d6/level). If one mage hits another mage with a spell like Fireball or Lightning Bolt, it's essentially an instant-kill since your average mage at this level has only 13 HP or so without Con bonuses. A Fireball will without a doubt cripple a fighter.

You'll see in the menu to the right a long list of variables and values. Here's the nitty gritty:

THAC0: "To Hit Armor Class 0 (zero)." Essentially, our base to-hit, and again the lower the better. TNO needs to roll a 17 or higher on a 20-sided die to hit a critter with AC 0, and a 7 or higher to hit someone with a shitty 10 AC. TNO also gets 1.5 attacks per round: one the first round, 2 the second, alternating.

Lore determines TNO's ability to identify items just by right-clicking on them. This was a mechanic added in by the Infinity Engine. Normally it costs 100 gold in material components to identify a single item, and even then the rules state that you get only a vague idea of what the magic item does. back in the 80s and 90s you didn't see the sort of pussification of gaming you see today: there was uncertainty in everything and a good DM would subtly fuck you over with a cursed side effect or something.

Saving Throws represent your ability to "save" or shrug off the effects of something. Generally by saving against an effect you get half damage, reduced effects, or you can shrug off the spell/effect entirely. Again, lower numbers are better. In 2nd edition there are 5 different kinds of saves: Paralyze/Poison/Death represents saves against deathy effects like necromantic magic, poison, paralysis, etc; Rod/Staff/Wand represents resistance to spells cast by wands and staves; Petrification/Polymorph means your ability to resist body-altering spells like a mage turning you into a puddle of goo or something; Breath Weapon is your resistance to some area effects like a dragon's flame breath or a cloud of poisonous gas; Spell is your generic resistance to magic, especially mind-affecting spells.

Currently TNO has 2 extra points to invest in other proficiencies. He's especially skilled in using daggers and swords (the latter of which just about don't exist throughout this game). Since daggers and staves are just about the only things TNO can use (and there aren't any of the latter here either) I'll just save these extra points for further specializing in daggers. I don't really care about putting them in anything else.

Next time, stats for Morte and Dak'kon, and introduction to inventory.

Jesus it's so much easier rambling on about mechanics than it is writing flavor text.