I’ve been playing proper Dungeons & Dragons for more than six months now, in a staggering display of a-regular-group-of-adults-actually-happening-regularly (albeit through the magic of the internet). While we’re playing the latest edition (5th), the familiar bestiary summons constant reminders of my first foray into that world — the classic computerised 2nd edition adventures that are Baldur’s Gate and its sequel.
(Actually, my very first foray was accidentally getting a Drizzt book out of the library; I just thought it was a generic fantasy adventure novel, I didn’t know any better. When I got Baldur’s Gate and made the connection I was like “huh???”)
Thus I chose to eschew the most productive time of the year to play somebody else’s video games, and spent the post-crimbo haze burning through the Baldur’s Gate saga. (Though to be fair, as I’m pretty much note-for-note rebuilding the Infinity Engine dialogue system for Exon, it most definitely counted as research.)
Playing the two games back-to-back, I was struck by one major contrast between them: the respective presence and then utter absence of “wilderness” areas.
Planescape: Torment… Actually, no, that’s wrong. “Planescape” is the setting, the meta-setting that draws together everything Dungeons & Dragons (from Baldur’s Gate to… all that other stuff nobody cares about).
No, this game is called simply Torment.
Baldur’s Gate was the first Infinity Engine game I played so long ago: before I knew anything of this magic they call “Dungeons & Dragons”, before I knew anything about games and engines and how they worked, before I was a rampant modder…
(Though some time after I had taken R. A. Salvatore’s Icewind Dale Trilogy from the library, completely oblivious to its significance as a small boy. When I finally got Baldur’s Gate, and found Drizzt, I was all “trololo?”).
It’s only fitting that, almost a decade after playing the first of the Infinity Engine games, I play the last.
Icewind Dale 2.
The legend of Planescape: Torment has dogged me for years. It is a game that is whispered of in dark corners, spoken about in hushed, reverent tones. The kind of game that somebody knows somebody who has played it, but is always lurking just out of reach.
As a fan of Baldur’s Gate, I have wanted Torment for a long time, but it never deigned to show its face in the shops. Even as a cult classic, I had never heard of it being re-released.
Minor spoilers ensue… Only minor, though. Since only about four of you will have ever set eyes on Torment, spoiling the whole plot would mean nobody at all would want to read this entry. Rest assured, I haven’t completed it yet.