Man For Sale: Chris Avellone On Torment Kickstarter

By Cara Ellison on March 22nd, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Ooooooh pretty
Roll up roll up! We have one man for auction! Cofounder of Obsidian Entertainment, lead designer for a thing called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, lead designer on a thing called Planescape TM: Torment. Anyone? Anyone for a designer man? You sir? You ma’am? You look a likely sort for a single player, story-driven, isometric role-playing game. Come on lady, do you like complex and nuanced morality, deep and reactive choice and consequence, and immersion into a new and strange vision? Sounds sexy doesn’t it sir. LOOK AT HIS CRANIUM. Looooooook at those sexy hands of design-orientated development skills! Well give us $3.5M and you can have him you cheeky buggers.

Yes! It’s true. Dreams have come true. A man is on sale and he is Chris Avellone, the lead designer of Planescape Tee Emm: Torment, the inspiration for the new game Torment: Tides of Numenera currently being Kickstarted!

The guys at inXile entertainment said:

Of course, from the start, we hoped Chris could contribute to Torment as well. But as recently as a couple weeks ago (16 days to be precise), we didn’t know whether Torment would even fund. And besides, Chris’s commitment to Project Eternity made it unclear whether he’d have the time. Given his key role in Planescape™: Torment, and the respect he has earned from the game’s fans, we didn’t want to even hint that Chris might be involved unless we were certain it would be possible. Our unexpectedly strong start – because of you – made it an option we could explore. So explore we did. We’ve been able to work out the scheduling matters so that Chris can contribute to Torment without impacting Project Eternity.

At $3.5M, Chris will be joining our design team. He’ll have two primary roles. First, he will be reviewing and providing feedback on all creative elements of the game, including the story, characters, and areas. His input will be invaluable as a resource to Colin in further detailing the creative vision for the game. Second, he’ll be designing and writing an eighth companion for the game, working with Colin and Monte to craft a companion ideal for both Torment and the Ninth World of Numenera.

We are truly excited at the possibility that Chris could collaborate with us on Torment.

Yus! The Kickstarter was at $2,853,143 at the time of writing, so it looks like Chris might actually get to work on the game. Also being persuadededed is writer Pat Rothfuss. This looks promising you guyses.

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91 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    JamesTheNumberless says:

    loool, this was inevitably going to be a stretch goal right from the start when it was made clear that he wasn’t going to be working on it ;)

    • Brother None says:

      Heh. I almost like how planned out it looks, but truth is at the beginning it was nearly a sure thing he couldn’t join in, hence the “blessing” video. Brian kept at it, tho, and he did it!

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        JamesTheNumberless says:

        I don’t think it was an attempt to pull the wool over our eyes but I had faith from the start that this would be so big, they would have to get him on board in some capacity either as a stretch goal, or at a later stage of development.

        On kickstarted games in general, it will be interesting to see if any stretch goals end up becoming proverbial albatrosses. We’re all familiar with games promising features and then not delivering them, or delivering something that wasn’t at all what we were led to expect – and the traditional excuse for this is development having been rushed by publishers. I don’t want to be another kickstarter doomsayer (largely because of the heap of gold coin I’ve pledged to inExile!) but it will only take one high profile project to renege on a stretch goal to stop the spend-spurring effect they seem to have.

      • Kamos says:

        I’m thrilled by the number of writers they have for this game, and having Avellone is just a cherry on top.

  2. RobinOttens says:

    Well, they already have my money, but this is pretty great if somewhat expected news!

    Seems he won’t do much more than give creative advice here and there, but that’s good enough for me.

    • JarinArenos says:

      “They already have my money” – I upped my pledge at this news. This is awesome. :D

    • bard says:

      Imo the real great news is Patrick Rothfuss.

      I love his books. Damn but I may need to pledge some more money to Torment.

  3. Zinic says:

    TAKE ALL OF MY MONEY.

    Too bad they don’t offer the collector’s edition for $95 anymore, otherwise I might just have upgraded to that.

    • AngoraFish says:

      More evidence, if any more is needed, of the stupidity of limited reward tiers.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        Well no, not if those limits are based on a proper cost analysis.

      • Strangerator says:

        How tier limits work
        The success of a kickstarter often hinges on not just how much money they can raise, but also when they raise that money. By setting limits on reward tiers, you ensure that people who are strongly considering buying into those tiers do so immediately to avoid the possibility of losing out on the rewards at that level.

        It’s about timing. Kickstarters especially are dependent upon an intial “excitement bomb” right at their announcement. The first few days are critical, and it really really helps to get a good chunk of the goal covered in those initial days. When a project looks as though it will be funded (say by hitting 50% in a couple days), it is a lot more likely people will jump onto the bandwagon.

        If higher reward tiers were not limited, most people wouldn’t buy them until the last second before the kickstarter was about to end. Majority of people would I think pledge the minimum amount for the game, and wait and see if they could justify spending more. Fewer people would likely end up buying the higher tiers, and since they would be doing so later, their extra money wouldn’t be adding the benefit of bringing more people to the bandwagon.

      • Kamos says:

        They are listening to suggestions. For instance, they are aware that there are a lot of people sitting at the second most costly all-digital tier who want to raise their pledges, but the next tier is something like a $200 upgrade, and most don’t want that…

        They are going to add “at least one new pledge tier” soon. At least, that is what I read in the comments. :)

  4. derella says:

    I love Patrick Rothfuss’ books — really interested to see his contribution to the game.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I have to say, I’ve never heard of him or any of his books (and from wikipedia, “his books” is a very small handful, including an unfinished trilogy).

      What’s good about him?

      • bladedsmoke says:

        Er, his books. There aren’t many but they’re very good.

        • Hoaxfish says:

          I meant, what’s specifically “good” about his books… are they really excellent Tolkien rip-offs, interesting world building, or full of explicit sex, etc? Why would I want him anywhere near this game (supposedly tempting as a stretch goal)?

          • Asurmen says:

            I think he understood your point, but it’s hard to put a subjective thing into words other than “his books are good”. All I can say is that his books are a mix of 3rd person but mainly first person biographical story of a fictional character, who isn’t destinied to save the world or be the hero like a lot of fantasy books. The character also has fairly significant flaws which get him into trouble fairly often making him more believable. The world in which he exists also has a grounding in the sciences as well as different types of magic. Different races, demons etc are classed as mythical by humans.

            I’m not very good at describing things nor am I particularly picky when it comes to writing (I, for instance, don’t see what is wrong with Starcraft 2’s writing) so if anyone else can jump in that would be great :)

          • soco says:

            I can highly recommend his first book: The Name of the Wind. It is a really well thought out and engaging book that has a great stories within stories vibe like 1001 Nights.

            I’ve only just started his second book, so I can’t comment just yet, but the first is a great read.

          • pakoito says:

            He abuses the use of Narrativium and the pace is inconsistent. Other than that it’s a great read.

          • mondomau says:

            You say unevenly paced like it’s a bad thing – I actually enjoy and admire how he switches between the two.

          • pakoito says:

            SPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERS
            SPOILERSSPOILERSWe are 2 books in and there’s little advancement in the main plot of the Chandrian.SPOILERSSPOILERS
            SPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERS

          • Kamos says:

            A lot of people joined after Rothfuss was announced. The fundraising was pretty slow the past few days, and when he was announced it just jumped up. It ended being the 5th (or 6th?) best day, which is uncommon (normally the middle stretch is very slow). Announcing Avellone today gave yet another boost to pledging…

      • Metalfish says:

        The pluses:
        +Patrick is a really damn good writer. He puts words in the right order.
        +He’s a modern fantasy writer who does darkness /and/ light properly
        The negatives:
        -He’ll promise you lord of the rings, you’ll get harry potter
        -Nothing is going to actually happen. Or at least a lot of stuff will happen, but none of it will be what was promised.
        -Every single female character will throw themselves at the protagonist. All of them.

        • Tacroy says:

          And he’ll be oblivious to all of it, at least until the second half of the second book.

        • Furius says:

          I agree with your plus points, he writes really well. I only read the first book and I hated the main character. He’s like one of those know-it-all twats you get at school (not a geek. I’m a bit of a geek, I love geeks), but he’s good at music, maths, magic. I dunno, I can’t really remember the book that well but I read it after a lot of people were raving about it. Go ahead an read it, you might like it. I just thought I’d offer another second opinion to the other guys.

          • Metalfish says:

            The problem with (young) Kvothe is that his only flaw is terminal impatience. He’s stupidly fantastic at loads of things. Single flaw characters aren’t, you know, illegal or anything, but I found it really grating after a while. At the end of the 1st book, he says he’ll tell you how he gets even more brilliant, which put me off rather.It was worth reading, but I much prefer the cavalcade of bastards that is Joe Abercombie’s stuff.

          • Asurmen says:

            He’s also massively arrogant and has a significant temper which get him into trouble on several occasions.

        • Asurmen says:

          To be fair, only 4 named female characters actually throw themselves at him, 3 of those from sexually free societies, and the unnamed women are actually used as a character criticism by another character. The sex isn’t described and I’d say in proportion for someone like Kvothe.

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            JamesTheNumberless says:

            So… How does his writing style compare to the writing in the original Torment? And what’s your opinion of the writing in the original Torment? To anyone who’s familiar with both… Any better known authors you’d compare him to? I don’t really find absolute descriptions of writing to be very helpful, what one person thinks of as humorous, or heavy, or dark, can be something else to another person – comparisons (including what you think of the person you’re comparing with) are much more useful.

          • Werthead says:

            Rothfuss’s writing is a lot ‘fluffier’ for lack of a better word than anything in PS:T, and he is not brilliant at character (although certainly there’s a lot worse around). At the same time, Rothfuss’s existing books are very different, and he could certainly do a good job in a different setting.

            I’d be a lot more excited if it was someone like Daniel Abraham, Scott Lynch or Steven Erikson, but Rothfuss could certainly do a good job if he brings his A-game.

          • Furius says:

            If they got Erikson on board, that’d be the business.

          • Werthead says:

            “If they got Erikson on board, that’d be the business.”

            Apparently Ossian Studios pitched a MALAZAN RPG to Erikson and Esslemont a couple of years back. Esslemont was keen, but Erikson – peculiarly – wanted a FPS, so it never happened. Odd.

        • mondomau says:

          Two of your negatives are based entirely on speculation on your part, since the third book isn’t out yet – I too, have a feeling the ending won’t be as epic as I originally imagined, but to say it ‘won’t deliver’ is both subjective and premature.
          The other negative, about the women, might be true but your assertion is based almost entirely on the second book alone – this is a period of awakening and character development, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the arc of the trilogy and assuming it does until the third book is actually out is a bit silly.

          This is needless pedantry and I apologise, as I sort of agree with your points, but I feel the way you phrase the points could perhaps selling the books short to potential readers.

          • Metalfish says:

            I haven’t even read the second book. It’s based on the first. There’s only one (possibly two, this is a general point, not a hard iron factoid) named female that doesn’t at least bat eyelashes at him.

            Please don’t say the 2nd is actually /worse/ for it?

          • mondomau says:

            SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

            It’s about the same, it’s just that by now he knows what to do about it.

            Also, one of the key points that you (and I ) missed is that Kvothe’s account is not necessarily supposed to be 100% true. It’s hinted at more strongly in the second book than the first that he is definitely exaggerating at times, and missing out bits when it suits him.

        • mouton says:

          @Metalfish
          >>-Every single female character will throw themselves at the protagonist. All of them.<<

          "It seems like every other woman in the band is tossing herself at the boss feet first. It's like a sodding noble's birthday party here. " – Oghren, Dragon Age: Origins

        • Kamos says:

          Keep in mind that Rothfuss is just one among many other writers. It is not like he will sit down and just do whatever he wants.

      • Werthead says:

        The beard. That beard is epic.

        Beyond that, THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE is essentially HARRY POTTER: THE EMO YEARS. Kvothe spends approximately 1/3 of each novel agonising over how he is going to pay his tuition fees. Once that’s done, we then get many, many chapters gushing about how awesome Kvothe is at everything. There’s a few half-interesting secondary characters that get half-developed (none of them female though: women in Kvothe’s world are purely there as wish-fulfilment figures) in between Kvothe’s self-publicising. There’s a ton of interesting little story tidbits that, if you assemble together, makes for a potentially fascinating backstory, if Rothfuss delivers on it in the final book. The actual in-book narrative is S-L-O-W but somewhat fun.

        Rothfuss’s biggest ambition is that he wants to be a more approachable and populist Gene Wolfe, but hasn’t got the writing chops to pull it off (for the reference, Gene Wolfe’s BOOK OF THE NEW SUN is SFF’s ULYSSES or, more appropriately, the literary version of PLANESCAPE: TORMENT). He has this thing as well where he spends 2 chapters on Kvothe trying to get a student loan (I’m not even kidding) and three paragraphs covering Kvothe being arrested, standing trial, being cleared, going on a sea journey, being shipwrecked, being kidnapped by pirates and then escaping from the pirates with accompanying swordfights and much daring-do. This is Rothfuss’s idea of being clever, you see, but it just comes across as twattish. De-emphasising the action and magic of cliched fantasy is a fine thing to do, but replacing it with bureaucracy and boredom is just weird.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Agreed. Wonderful prose. Questionable focal points. Atypical is good until its boring. Kvothe is like a story about Geralt, where the focus is on the tavern, Triss & learning signs, with a quick aside of, “Oh yeah, I alsokilled some monsters along the way.”

          Not without good points but very slow.

        • mondomau says:

          “Gene Wolfe’s BOOK OF THE NEW SUN is SFF’s ULYSSES”

          That’s a bold claim to make. And not everyone would use ‘writing chops’ in the same sentence as Gene Wolf either.

          The snipe about the student loan is also disingenuous and you know it – it’s written in to demonstrate the problems he faced and the resourceful way he overcomes it – not to mention the fact that he ends up tangling with another ‘magic’ user to get what he needs, it’s hardly him sitting in a bank, filling out applications.

          As for the over-the-top nature of the central character’s skills, charm and intelligence – What you, and a lot of other people, seem to be missing is that Kvothe is an entertainer and teller of tall stories – the aggrandising nature of his account is just that, his account. I agree Rothruss isn’t going to deliver us Lord of The Rings, but I’m not convinced that was ever his intention.

          I enjoy reading for his prose and the way he suddenly switches direction – I get that that’s not every one’s thing, but I think there’s a bit too much ignorant, cynical dismissing of the story as ‘oh it’s teenage harry potter’ going on here and you are giving other people a false impression.

          • Werthead says:

            “I enjoy reading for his prose and the way he suddenly switches direction – I get that that’s not every one’s thing, but I think there’s a bit too much ignorant, cynical dismissing of the story as ‘oh it’s teenage harry potter’ going on here and you are giving other people a false impression.”

            But it is a teenage HARRY POTTER. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. His prose is a bit better than Rowling’s but his plotting is, so far, distinctly inferior. I am aware Rothfuss is aiming for something other than ‘yet another epic fantasy’ and that is laudable. I am also strongly of the opinion that he is not yet achieving that goal. He may yet do so in THE DOORS OF STONE and future books set in the same world.

            I am also not certain of the use of ‘ignorant’ here. I’ve read both books. I actually read THE NAME OF THE WIND many months before it actually came out. I’ve met and spoken to Pat Rothfuss about it (and was bear-hugged by him in the process, for reasons that I’m still hazy on). Unless you have access to the incomplete manuscript of the third book, my knowledge of the series is at least equal to your own.

          • pakoito says:

            > I actually read THE NAME OF THE WIND many months before it actually came out.

            Who art thou?

          • Werthead says:

            “Who art thou?”

            I got an advance review copy for my website.

          • Memphis-Ahn says:

            Harry Pottering aside, how does it compare to the great Artemis Fowl?

          • Werthead says:

            Haven’t read Artemis Fowl, so I don’t know.

      • cyrenic says:

        His writing is superb. His story arcs still need some work but the actual writing? It’s fantastic.

        Seeing him get involved with a Torment game is all kinds of exciting.

        • pakoito says:

          Good at micro, bad at macro :P

          • Apocalypse says:

            Than he shoudl fit perfect to the team, good at the macro stuff we got already in that team.

    • Randomer says:

      Damnit. If Rothfuss gets in on this it’ll have excellent writing, but the plot will be one giant, foreshadowing cocktease.

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        JamesTheNumberless says:

        How frustrating for anybody with a giant foreshadowing cock.

        • limimi says:

          Everything is frustrating when you have a giant foreshadowing cock :/ ‘You’re going to like this next part!’ it snickers over your shoulder as you watch something on tv, or ‘that won’t have killed him!’ while you’re at the cinema on a date.

    • Premium User Badge

      JiminyJickers says:

      Yeah me too, I think he is an excellent writer. I really like his books and looking forward to his contribution to this game.

  5. olivier73 says:

    Now this is prettyprettypretti good

    • ninjapirate says:

      And a rare case where I’d say there’s no need to curb your enthusiasm.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    Not included in the numbers on the Kickstarter page are the $200 000 from Steven “Dracogen” Dengler and Brian Fargo, plus PayPal contributions (though they’ve said that’s not very much), so the total is probably around $3.1 M now.

    This should end somewhere around $4M, unless there is a REALLY big spike at the end.

    • Ntk says:

      Fargo said that those 200 000 go to cover any pledges that don’t go through and do not count towards stretch goals.

    • GhostBoy says:

      The 200K from Brian and Steven will not count towards stretch goals though. They are an insurance policy/bonus money. The Paypal amount is somewhere around 50K, based on the difference between the total and when they called the 2.85M goal achieved.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think that they just managed to make their spike. Judging from Wasteland 2, Avellone’s judgement will raise pledges to about twice their low for the rest of the campaign. That effect will be more limited in this because slightly different fanbases funded Wasteland 2 originally, and Avellone pulled in a new crowd.

  7. ninjapirate says:

    Colin, Monte and Chris. Two people who helped create the wonderful Planescape multiverse, and one who used it as a setting for one of the most compelling stories in video game history.
    It sounds a bit like a dream come true!
    What more can you ask? (Other than, perhaps, Tony DiTerlizzi doing the character artwork?)

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      squirrelrampage says:

      Gosh! DiTerlizzi was one of the reasons why the original campaign setting still has such an huge cult following. The man’s contribution to the whole thing can’t be underestimated.
      This mere idea of having him on board of this game is mouth-watering…

  8. Groove says:

    Right, between this and noticing the $45 Torment and Wasteland 2 bundle, I’ve finally put my money down for this. That’s quite the deal.

    • Premium User Badge

      JiminyJickers says:

      Didn’t notice that one, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I now have pledged for that tier as well.

  9. Beybars says:

    Mother of all cRPG’s!

  10. AshRolls says:

    Kickstarter is incredibly efficient at relieving me of money that I do not have. The involvement of Patrick Rothfuss is great news, he is a very talented storywordy-man.

  11. ChromeBallz says:

    Eternity and Torment, a good combination…. :)

    • Werthead says:

      2015: InXile team up with Obsidian to produce TORMENT: ETERNITY. Kickstarter project raises $10 million in first nanosecond of being started. The $150 million stretch goal for the $100,000 tier is that Chris Avellone will hand-deliver every copy of the game to contributors.

      And it will be glorious.

    • pilouuuu says:

      Etormenty!

    • Sidewinder says:

      It does make it sound like we’re pledging to support hell, doesn’t it?

      • Werthead says:

        The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince people to fund the end of the world via Kickstarter.

  12. Dayfather says:

    I came.

  13. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I wonder if Fargo will eventually capitalize in the obvious love for Torment and eventually release the long waited modern remake of Planescape:Torment…

    • hbarsquared says:

      He’ll have to buy Wizards of the Coast first.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        I’m pretty sure he’s the IP owner. No? Seen it mentioned elsewhere on a few occasions.

        • Werthead says:

          He’s the TORMENT IP owner. He’s not the PLANESCAPE IP owner, which resides with Wizards of the Coast. Atari apparently have the rights to budget re-releases of PLANESCAPE: TORMENT. Beamdog have also said they want to do the PS:T Enhanced Edition after BG2, but it depends how BG1+2 sell.

          It’s a complicated situation. Only inXile can do TORMENT stuff, only WotC can do PLANESCAPE stuff and only Atari can re-release PLANESCAPE: TORMENT, so all three would need to come together to do a new version of the original game. Or so I understand.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Pretty sure he doesn’t own the AD&D copyright, nor the planescape setting. He’d have to pay Hasbro quite a bit to release it now (and they’re more interested in MMOs).

        • Mario Figueiredo says:

          Ok, folks. Thanks for the info.

  14. Entitled says:

    “The Kickstarter was at $2,853,143 at the time of writing, so it looks like Chris might actually get to work on the game.”

    Easily. The Kickstarter is several hundred thousand behind where Eternity was at this point, so it will probably end with about $5 million.

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    Jackablade says:

    Damnit. I hate being so poor. Can someone put in some money for me? It’s going to a good cause.

  16. wererogue says:

    [Clears throat]

    UPDATED MY PLEDGE

    [hack hack, cough cough]

  17. 2helix4u says:

    Anybody else strangely sceptical about this game? The last couple years have convinced me all the studios I love will inevitably become terrible and the only games to trust are from new developers.
    The setting seems like Star Wars/Dark Tower, the latter half of which is great but post-apoc fantasy with technomages isn’t stirring me for some reason.

    I just want some games I haven’t played before maybe.

    • wererogue says:

      I am desperate to know the other post-apoc fantasy with technomages CRPGs you’ve played!

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      I want to believe!

      And my wallet wants me to stop believing.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’ve been pretty skeptical about the game, but MCA and Patrick Rothfuss’ blog post pushed me over. The setting sounds a pretty weak, but I think they’ll pull together some amazing stuff with a team this strong. I do think they would be better using some of the PE tech /some pre-rendered images, because it’s very early on and it already looks amazing.

      I think part of the issue for me has been how much they’ve focused on story. Planescape Torment has an amazing story, one of the best made yet. Story is easier to deliver when you have beautiful giant hand sculptures, evil city size forge golems, an intricate symbol of pain, and impressively bright and colorful marketplaces at your disposal. The art of Planescape Torment is just as good as the story, and that makes a big difference.

      The voice cast did a great job too.

      • Kamos says:

        I think the description of the Bloom, a “city” planned for the game, shows how bizarre/awesome this setting can be:

        “The Bloom is a vast, semi-sentient predator, a monstrous, organic creation that extends its tendrils through the folds of reality. Its pathways, nooks, and crannies conceal terrors and wonders alike, and for those daring or desperate souls who are forced to find refuge here, any step has the potential to send them to another world. It’s a hub, a center of commerce for those who trade in the relics of other worlds.”

        I get a strong weird fiction vibe. Lovecraft is pleased.

        Ultimately, I think the setting will fulfill the same purpose Planescape did in the previous game, that is, being a strange place for the player to explore.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Oh I thought Bloom was like HDR

          • 2helix4u says:

            Okay the bloom sounds moderately interesting although sentient cities aren’t unheard of in fiction but I dont remember one in games at least.
            Still, project eternity and torment 2 are the definition of “man, remember when we were younger and we made some great games decades ago? Lets make those games again to prove we still got it” and if they are good i think they will be the first good games to come out of that urge. That I’ve played at least.

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    strangeloup says:

    I have nothing useful to add other than I misread Chris Avellone being described as “Confounder of Obsidian Entertainment”, and Confounder of Obsidian sounds like an appropriately fantasy-RPG thing.