Planescape is a setting for TSR's AD&D game. Black Isle/Interplay chose this
setting for their next CRPG because, frankly, it's awesome. At least, it
is in my opinion.
What's so great about Planescape? Well, the first thing is that it
unites all other AD&D worlds. It doesn't define a world, or even a
universe, it defines a multiverse. This multiverse consists of
planes, which can be looked upon as universes. One of these is the Prime
Material Plane, the plane where TSR's other AD&D worlds are (with the
exception of Ravenloft). Planescape mainly deals with other planes,
Here's a short overview
The Inner Planes.
These planes are also called the elemental planes, because they
consist of the elements, like the Plane of Earth or the Plane of
The Outer Planes.
These planes reflect moral, psychological elements rather than
physical elements. Good and evil, law and chaos. In the middle are the
Outlands, a neutral plane. When on the outlands, the closer one is to a
certain outer plane, the more the Outlands start to resemble that plane.
In the middle of it all is the city of Sigil, a city shaped like a
ring, floating an infinite distance above the Outlands.
The Astral Plane.
A silvery void that connects the outer planes with the prime
material plane. Don't let its nothingness fool you; this place is
dangerous. The Githyanki make this place their home. Another notable
feature of the Astral Plane is that there are corpses of gods here... Some
are used by the Githyanki as floating fortresses.
Plane. This grey fog connects the inner planes to the prime
material plane. It's a bit more peaceful than the Astral Plane, but it
still has its dangers. Like demi-planes. These were created by
powerful wizards as "pet-planes". These wizards, as a rule, don't like to
The city of Sigil
merits some special attention. Not just because it's shaped like
a ring, but because it's seen as the center of the Multiverse. It is
100% neutral ground, enforced by a being known as The Lady of Pain, or just
The Lady. This being has incredible power. She has the power to keep the
gods out of Sigil (which she does) or to imprison any individual that
is threatening to endanger the neutral character of Sigil. It has
portals to virtually every single plane.
Ok, so there's a lot of cool places in Planescape. This is not what's important,
however. The most important thing about Planescape is belief. The planes
are shaped by belief. The people living in a certain place can
change it (and even move it to another plane). Not surprisingly, various
philosophies have united in so-called factions.
Torment. Pain that defies description. What greater
torment imaginable than to be devoid of identity and not
to know one's place in this endless stream
of madness we like to call The Multiverse?
This is exactly
the dilemma you face in Planescape:Torment, Black Isle's upcoming
You are The Nameless One, a lost soul in a crazy world. You're immortal.
Every time you die, the same thing happens: you just wake up again.
It's a day like any other in Sigil, the tire-shaped city seen as the
Center of the Multiverse by many. And you wake up, looking just like
another corpse in the morgue, complete with scars. You, however, have
a bit more life in you than usual for the residents of this place, and
you decide to get up. Who are you? How did you get here? You don't know,
but you're determined to find out.
So we've got an
interesting storyline with a cool main character. For the modern gamer,
these aren't enough to make a good game. The modern gamer wants gameplay.
The modern gamer wants graphics. The info that's currently available
about the game suggests the game will have these things.
heard of Baldur's Gate, Interplay's previous AD&D masterpiece. Baldur's
Gate revived the CRPG genre by combining awesome graphics, a good story
and addictive gameplay that allowed for real-time combat while remaining
true to the AD&D system and allowing intricate strategy through use
of the pause function. Just in case you stopped reading after the first
part of last sentence, let me summarize: Baldur's Gate rocked.
Torment will be
using the same game engine, called the Infinity engine. This means awesome
graphics. Torment will also use the same real time battle system that
Baldur's Gate used. This means: Gameplay. And then some.
If you're really interested, here's a list
Torment is about
discovering the identity of the Nameless One, through various quests.
A feature that reflects this is the system of character advancement.
Since you're immortal and you've been around for 10,000 years or so,
you don't need experience to advance in power. You just need to remember
stuff. How does this work? I don't really know, but I imagine it would
go something like this: In one of your past careers, you were a priest
of a certain god. Now, you just happen to witness some sort of ritual
honoring that god and BOOM! you remember some of your clerical powers.
Also, the game refines
the "alignment" system. (a system in AD&D describing
a person's moral perspective: law or chaos, good or evil) Instead of
a permanent alignment (as in Baldur's Gate: you choose an alignment
and it never changes), Torment features a dynamic alignment: your
is changed according to your actions. Also, NPC alignment is more subtle.
When a character joins your party (5 NPC's can be in your party
at any given time), his/her alignment isn't immediately apparent. It
will be later, when the character acts according to his alignment.
of NPC's: they're very alive in this game. Party members will interact
even more, and will affect the game more.