Orrorsh (1991)

This week, I’m mostly looking at some horror elements contained in larger games. First up: TORG, the most 90s of roleplaying games.

In a nutshell, TORG is a slipstream game. In the near future, a number of alternate realities intrude upon our own and set up discrete kingdoms. Each kingdom has a different vibe – the Living World, in the US, has dinosaurs; Aysle, in the UK, is like D&D; the Cyberpapacy is exactly what it sounds like; Nippon Tech is cyberpunk; the New Nile Empire is classic pulp; and on and on. All the realms mix and match, allowing anyone to be anything from anywhen. There are a lot of similarities between TORG and other early 90s slipstream mainstays Shadowrun and Rifts.

The TORG reality we’re interesting in today is Orrorsh, a realm of gothic horror (Orrorsh is an anagram of Horrors – just move the H! – a fact that wouldn’t surprise you if you knew that TORG stood for The Other Roleplaying Game).

Superimposing itself on our Indonesia, the inhabitants of Orrorsh are Victorian, which gives the setting a nice Hammer Films feel. Being in Southeast Asia, though, removes us from comforts of Western European horror. No player is ready for the things that stalk Orrorsh.

We’ll explore TORG more at a later date, but let me leave with this: when other games play around with horror, it usually feels touristy. Orrorsh is serious, weird horror, central to the reality war that is the heart of the game. TORG understands that when you can be anything – a high tech yakuza enforcer, a dragon man, a space god – horror is the great leveler. Because no matter what you might be, everything knows fear.

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