Torg: A Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Hack (Orrorsh – Realm of Gothic Horror) – Part 1

Previously, I discussed the World Laws from six of the seven initial cosms involved in the Possibility Wars, and included datafiles from heroes from those realms.

The seventh cosm, Orrorsh, has a much different feel than the rest of the cosms in the Torg campaign: gothic horror. Not so much the horror of  today’s movies, but that of Bram Stoker, Mary Shelly and Lovecraft. Orrorsh is led by the Gaunt Man, the most powerful High Lord that has ever existed. He has massively tweaked his reality for his own use and recently took over the Victorian-era reality, Gaea. In addition to draining possibility energy through the stelae boundaries of his invading realm, the Gaunt Man gains possibility energy from people fearing his Horrors.

Orrorsh is also the second most powerful cosm in the Torg universe. Its World Laws (the Power of Fear, Power of Corruption and Power of Eternal Corruption) have been finely tuned by the Gaunt Man and his Darkness Device such that they are capable of impacting people in other realities, much like Core Earth is able to.

In the original Torg game, Orrorsh is where Storm Knights went to die. The powers of the Horrors allowed them to prevent Storm Knights from soaking damage, which often ended up in dead heroes.

I’m not looking to make Orrorsh so deadly in my Torg hack. After all, dead heroes can’t be afraid, or become corrupt and become Horrors.

Since a horror style roleplaying game has a different feel than Marvel Heroic Roleplaying,  there needs to be some substantial changes to how you play the game in order to get the atmosphere of horror.

Ryan Macklin has discussed horror in roleplaying games in many posts, and I’m applying several of his suggestions in my hack. The bottom line is that you’re going to cheat.

First, hide the rolls.  The convention in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is that the Watcher’s rolls are all in the open. When under the influence of Orrorsh’s Power of Fear (which can occur outside of Orrorsh when confronting a Horror), the Power of Fear moves the dice rolls behind the screen, until the Power of Fear can be overcome. I don’t know for sure that this will up the anxiety a bit for the players, but it certainly is better than having the GM’s rolls in plain sight.

Second, don’t roll for the Horror. Again this breaks one of the conventions of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, in that all rolls are opposed. But not now. Orrorsh is just that powerful. When the Horror makes an attack action, you don’t roll to get a result number. You pick it.

That’s right. You pick the dice to be used in the result, and you pick the number that comes up on the dice, and you pick the effect die you want.   If you want to ‘add’ more dice, go ahead and use the Doom Pool. The bottom line though is that you pick _everything_.

Because of the way dice pools work in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, this will need to be something high, like 13+ if the two result dice you choose are d8s.

Also, the Power of Fear will allow the Horror to go first in initiative.

However, if the character does manage to beat the Horror’s result, he can inflict stress of his own, even if you don’t give an opportunity ahead of time (if you happen to use the house rule that you only get to inflict stress on a reaction if an opportunity was rolled on the action). The heroes need hope, and if you’re going to stack the dice against them when they do succeed in overcoming the odds, they should get a concrete benefit immediately.

Orrorsh:  The Reality of Fear

Orrorsh is the second most powerful reality in Torg. In addition to Horrors being able to inflict its World Laws on victims outside of the stelae boundaries, I am using a version of Jasyn Jones’s idea that Orrorsh can invade other realities outside of the stelae boundaries. This isn’t part of the original Torg history, but it works better. It allows horror to come to the Cyberpapacy, to Aysle, to Nippon Tech, to anywhere.

Axioms

  • Magic 6:  Although at first glance, Orrorsh seems to be a magical place, that magic isn’t understood well and mostly is superstition. Instead, the Power of Corruption powers the occult, which is a very specific form of magic and will be explained below.
  • Social 13:  Orrorsh most recently conquered the cosm of Gaea, which is similar to our Earth during the height of the British Empire in the late 19th century. Although fairly advanced socially, Gaea still has the drawbacks of that era:  social castes and predjudice.
  • Spirit 10:  Although miracles are possible in Orrorsh and Gaea, like anything else in this reality it’s been perverted. The dominant religion is the Sacellum, which can be described as the Old Testament but angrier. Typical miracles include throwing Hell’s Fire, turning victims into pillars of salt, or infecting people with the plague.
  • Tech 16:  Technologically, Orrorsh and Gaea are similar to late 19th century:  steamships, telegraphs, gatling guns.

World Laws

Power of Corruption

The Gaunt Man wants more souls for creating Horrors. He does this by tempting people with power through the Power of Corruption. The first step on that path to becoming a Horror is taking a Wicked action. Wicked actions are evil actions that are unneccesary. Killing a monster is a necessary evil. Torturing a person for information is Wicked.

If a person does not have the CORRUPTION trait as part of his COSM power set, he gets access to the following SFX:

SFX: Power of Corruption. When you take a Wicked action, triple the largest die in your pool. Add CORRUPTION d6 trait to your COSM power set. If the action was an occult ritual, instead of a d6, your CORRUPTION trait is equal to the effect die of that action.

Once a person gains the CORRUPTION trait, he loses the previous SFX and gains the following Limit:

Limit: The Seduction of Corruption. You always include CORRUPTION in your dice pools as a special die. If you use that die for your result or as an effect die, step up CORRUPTION. If CORRUPTION steps up beyond a d12, become a Horror.

Power of Fear

All Horrors (and only Horrors) have the ability to invoke the Power of Fear when encountering heroes. When this occurs, the heroes feel fear right into the depths of their very souls. Reality itself is fighting against them. The Perseverance  reaction is rolled whenever the Storm Knights:

  • encounter a monster of Orrorsh, even if the monster isn’t directly threatening them.
  • witness the power of the occult.
  • witness something horrible: usually icky, moist and red.

The Perseverance pool is developed similarly to the Doom pool. It starts off at 2d6, but will grow and shrink as the Storm Knights continue their quest to defeat the Horror in question.

The Storm Knights can add a d6 when they:

  • discover information regarding the Horror they are pursuing.
  • when they encounter people in need of help.

The Storm Knights can add a d6 or step up the lowest die when they:

  • win a fight against the forces of the Gaunt Man.
  • when they strengthen commitment to kill the monster when they witness something exceptionally horrible.

The Perseverance pool can only grow during a Transition scene, and never in a scene when they lose a die or have a die stepped back.

No Plot Points may be expended to modify the Perseverance pool reaction. However, if the Perseverance Pool can grow such that there is a 2d12 in the pool, the Storm Knights have overcome the Power of Fear and no longer need to make Perseverance reactions.

The Perseverance reaction is resolved against a Perseverance difficulty number that is listed on the primary Horror’s datafile in the COSM power set. If the Perseverance reaction result is greater than the difficulty number, nothing bad happens to the Storm Knights. If the Perseverance reaction roll fails, take note of the FEAR trait of the Horror that the Storm Knights have encountered (or a d8 if no Horror is involved). That die is used as an effect die against all Storm Knights involved in the scene, with one effect die per Storm Knight. Those dice may be stepped up if the Perseverance difficulty number is five higher than the Perseverance reaction roll, or stepped down if the Storm Knight’s effect die is higher.

Those effect dice may be used in various ways:

  • inflict emotional stress
  • inflict complications
  • shutdown or step back power traits
  • create assets for the Horror
  • any other effect that a Horror’s SFX may allow
  • add a temporary Limit to a character
Law of Eternal Corruption

If a horror is not not killed by its True Death, it will be reincarnated.

Torg Hack Archive

 

Comments

  1. With your implementation of “Don’t Roll for the Horror”, you’re undermining the points I made about how that’s a powerful tool, because you’re still performing the event around rolling as a GM, just you’re picking numbers rather than randomly generating them. Furthermore, you’re increasing the handling time the GM has to do by making a mathematical decision — and that extends the mechanic beat long enough to throw some people out of the emotional beat.

    Plus, you’ll need realand obvious reasons for the GM to not just set dice to maximum. If you’re “just playing soft” without any further rationale, then you’re rejecting the horror premise. If it should always be maximum.

    Cortex Plus’ mechanics don’t lend themselves to any of my suggestions, or horror in general. You’ll probably have better luck creating Sophie’s choice components in your hack.

    – Ryan