The internet is abuzz with rumors that inXile Entertainment is cooking up a successor to the legendary Planescape: Torment.
A sequel to Planescape: Torment? Dare we dream? The truth is that I'm not sure I even want one. Torment told its tale, dropped the mic and left the stage with a finality, so rare in videogames, that ensured its legacy could never be tarnished by a sub-par sequel or quickie cash-in. Yet want it or not, it's starting to look like we might end up getting one anyway.
First up is word that Kevin D. Saunders, formerly of Obsidian Entertainment, has taken on a full-time position at Brian Fargo's inXile Entertainment after working there under contract on Wasteland 2. "It's great to be involved in RPGs again and I love the route inXile is taking - making games directly for the players. It allows us to explore ideas and gameplay that many, including us, are passionate about, but that aren't mainstream enough for the big publishers," he wrote on Formspring. "I'll be leading the development of the next game. The writers are finishing up their roles on WL2 and we want to keep that talented group together."
And then there's Wasteland 2 writer Colin McComb's blog post from a few days ago in which he talked about the huge impact that Planescape: Torment had on his career and what he'd like to do with a follow-up. "Of all the games I've written, the one that I keep circling back to is Torment. And now that the bulk of my work on Wasteland 2 is largely complete (with some iteration work that still needs to be done), I can start thinking about Torment seriously," McComb wrote.
"The first step in designing a new Torment story is to ask the primary question. I'm older than I was when I worked on Torment, and my questions now are different than they were. I have children now, and I look at the world through their eyes and through mine, and that's changed me - in fact, the intervening years have changed me so much that I have new answers for the central story in the original Torment," he continued. "So now that I know what can change the nature of a man, I ask: What does one life matter? ... and does it matter at all?"
What makes this more than just conversational fodder for RPG nerds is the fact that Fargo now apparently holds the "Torment" trademark. The U.S. Patent and Trade Office website indicates that the owner of the mark is Roxy Friday, LLC, which as Fusible pointed out last year includes Fargo among its officers.
It's all still very much in the realm of rumor and conjecture, and even if a new Torment is in the works it'll be a "spiritual successor" rather than a straight-on sequel. Wizards of the Coast has discontinued the Planescape setting and McComb said on the RPG Codex forums that it as "little apparent interest" in licensing the IP. "I first approached them in February, and it became clear early on that they didn't seem very interested in talking to me," he wrote. "That's okay, though. Other, equally cool options exist."
McComb said in his blog post that he wants to "re-examine the fundamentals of the setting" and use a system other than D&D in a new game. "I'd want to align the player's story axes along different lines than Good/Evil or Law/Chaos to something more subjective. The core of Torment is, after all, a personal story, and while we can be judged by others on the basis of our actions, arbitrarily aligning those actions on an external and eternally fixed line removes some of the agency from the player's game," he wrote. "I have a lot of ideas about what to put into a new Torment game, but my primary goal would be to help the player tell a story that was evocative of the original Torment without aping it. To be faithful to the odyssey of the Nameless One, and to recognize that it has ended, and that stories of Torment are ongoing."
A Torment sequel without Planescape: could it work? Someday, we might actually get to find out.