Watch This Torment: Tides Of Numenera Crisis Footage

The Numenera pen-and-paper roleplaying system does a lot of interesting things to simplify stats, combat, and to offer players more choice in action and outcome. I am extremely interested to see how those systems translate to Torment: Tides of Numenera [official site], which is using the setting and system as a basis for a spiritual successor to the beloved Planescape: Torment. The first chance to see some of how it’s working is in a video below, as Jeremy Kopman – who has the excellent job title of ‘Lead Crisis Designer’ – talks through the game’s encounter system.

Watch the video here:

Crises are Numenera’s combat encounters, so named because they’re designed to be more flexible than straight-up ‘it’s hitting things time’. The video highlights some of the differences, including the character-specific ways enemies will react to situations, such as changing tactic, using the environment or running away, as well as your ability to talk to the monsters mid-fight. There’s also a challenge other than the enemies you’re fighting in a set of light-bridges which can overload and explode if you don’t spend effort, one of the game’s resources, to prevent it. Unlike most combat in RPGs, each of these crises will be hand designed by the Torment team so that they have this same density of character-specific twists and environmental challenges. That’s an exciting prospect.

I’m still curious how other Numenera systems are going to port across to digital form, however. I spoke to the team at inXile earlier this year and, while they said they had solutions, they couldn’t yet share many of the details. For example, here’s them talking about GM intrusions, through which game masters can introduce a more difficult twist on a challenge and players can either address it or barter experience points to make it go away.

RPS: Are you doing stuff with GM intrusions?

McComb: Yes, we are.

RPS: How does that work when there’s no GM?

McComb: That’s a randomised thing that’s going to depend on the number of sleeps you have, the… I’m trying to think of what things effect that without giving away any spoilers… There are things that are going to happen in crises – the encounters and the battles that you’ll have – where suddenly things will take a turn for the worse and you can choose to accept that or reject it and get the XP for it.

Beekers: But it does work differently. That’s a system that works very well in pen-and-paper and you really have to just make it work on computer, so we’re doing something similar but it’s different. We’re at the stage now where this is something you have to play to see how it works, so anything we say right now will be a bit up in the air because we’re going to have to play it and see how it works and then adjust it to make it work.

McComb: We don’t want to make any promises. We’ve learned a lesson on that.

Frankly, it’s just kind of exciting to have a major new RPG which isn’t so closely linked to the systems of Dungeons and Dragons.

Torment: Tides of Numenera was funded to record amounts through Kickstarter in 2013, is currently in limited backer alpha, and currently has no release date.


  1. Cinek says:

    That’s one of the weirdest, and possibly weakest, mechanics of this game. But we’ll see how it really plays one after the release…

  2. Jekadu says:

    Looking forward to giving this a go when I get home (I’ve got Alpha Systems access). The previous two alpha test modules were certainly indicative that the game is going in the right direction.

  3. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Trying to avoid seeing/reading too much about this before I finish work today and can play C0. Agree with Jekadu, as a fan of the original Torment, the previous two tests definitely hit the mark for me.

  4. Snids says:

    I’m looking forward to this.
    But personally I don’t really see why a computer game needs to be derived from any sort of pen and paper system. It can be an amazing RPG but if it’s a computer game, why tie yourself to a system that is designed for multiple people sitting around a table?

    • st33dd says:

      Because it wouldn’t have been funded otherwise: Numenera is an award winning TTRPG (though looking at it myself I liked the setting and base rules but thought the XP system was a bit shit) and everyone loves Planescape Torment.

      As a player I look at this video and think, awesome! As a programmer I look at this video and think, this game is going to go so far over schedule that I hope they don’t do a Star Citizen with it.

      • Emeraude says:

        Do you actually believe that ? Most – if not all – backers came for the Torment spiritual successor really. And that’s it.

        Only people inside the ttrpg crowd – a very niche community in the first place – would know of Numenera, and even then only part of it. Half of the people I play with in clubs don’t really know about Numenera, and at best only that it exists.

        And even those of us that do know about it would be more interested in the setting rather than the rules being transposed I’d say.

        • tomimt says:

          Yeah, I’d dare to claim as well that most people backed it because of Planescape Torment. Personally I did it because of it and I don’t really care that much of the Numenera setting. I haven’t played any of the D&D based CRPG’s either because they’re based on D&D. For me, it’s that inXile is free to use what ever mechanics they see fit in order to make the game great.

        • Martel says:

          I’m a backer and I had never heard of Numenara until this kickstarter, and it really had no bearing on my purchase. So a bit of anecdotal evidence for ya.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Same here, just as I wasn’t primarily interested in Planescape:Torment for the Planescape setting, I’m also not interested in the new Torment for the Numenera setting. I’d also not even heard of Monte Cook despite having played tons of AD&D based CRPGs. I’ve had the Numenera rulebook on my bookcase for a while now, as one of my backer rewards, and I haven’t even opened it. They could announce tomorrow that they were dropping the Numenera setting and while it would worry me a bit about their development process I wouldn’t be any less eager to play the final game.

          • tomimt says:

            RPG designers really aren’t a big of a draw, that I noticed during Bard’s Tale KS, after inXile announced their 3 famous RPG designers stretch goal, which had little effect on the pledge amounts, but a high effect on people asking “who, and why should we care?”.

      • teije says:

        I backed it because it had a fresh approach to RPGs and a strong design vision – could have really cared less about the system and I’m not even a huge fan of Planescape (heresy I know!). So far from their updates they are going in the right direction – looking forward to this greatly, but will not touch it until release.

    • Morte66 says:

      The only real reason is “we’re selling it as an adaptation of {insert tabletop rpg here}”. People buying it because they like {tabletop rpg} have certain expectations.

      Otherwise, a standalone CRPG should probably be inventing new mechanics.

      Glad to be an early bird kickstarter on this one…

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Well it isn’t really. I mean, it can’t be constrained in exactly the same ways as the p&p game because it isn’t played by people talking to eachother. If you want complex mechanics in your game it makes sense to base them on a proven system for handling them, which is what p&p RPGs provide. The original Torment certainly didn’t suffer for being based on AD&D. It took huge liberties with the usual rules for the benefit of the gameplay the creators wanted. From the looks of things so far, the Numenera system is a lot less cumbersome.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Moreover, if they did completely invent their own RPG system which was vastly different from existing systems, they’d have the problem of not knowing whether people will enjoy it. Either that, or spending a very long time testing it. Look at what usually happens when CRPGs make up “original” systems – they end up very closely resembling something that’s been tried and tested before, usually D&D. Anything that gets us away from the accountancy approach to inventory and skill management, and the hitpoint-bag mechanics of combat resolution is good in my book.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      From a design perspective, using a TTRPG as a basis for a video game’s RPG systems allows for an enormous amount of playtesting and prototyping before any expensive software development takes place. I’m surprised RPG devs don’t do it more often.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        That they don’t do it explicitly is down to licensing, but they absolutely do follow this principle all the time. That’s why so many RPG systems very closely resemble D&D, it’s why so many card game systems are basically variants of Magic the Gathering, and it’s why gambling games tend to be fruit machine emulators or poker variants. Most CRPG mechanics are based on mechanics that have been tested by, and have proven popular with, millions of people. It’s a much bigger risk doing something completely different and that’s why you rarely see it.

  5. Infinitron says:

    This isn’t the only RPG that showed some first-time footage yesterday.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      New footage from Underworld Ascendant.
      link to

      Huge lift from the stuff shown during the KS campaign. Gotta say I was a bit disappointed with the reactions on the codex, Infinitron. I thought it was obvious that the voiceover is explanation for people unfamiliar with Underworld?

  6. braven5 says:

    Planescape Torment, medieval fantasy game set in D&D planescape setting, and its spiritual successor is actually sci-fi?

    Don’t get me wrong this game looks good, but how can spiritual successor not at least have same theme and game world?

    • cpt_freakout says:

      Because it’s a ‘spiritual’ successor, not a sequel?

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Calling PST medieval is a little reductive. Sure, you weren’t facing storm troopers with phase rifles or whatever, but it wasn’t a purely low-tech setting either. Remember the Modrons?

      Besides, setting is a relatively easy change for a writer to make while retaining the style and themes of an earlier work. That’s why we have all these modern adaptations of Shakespearean plays.

    • Jekadu says:

      It’s more like science fantasy, depending on whether a setting that is derived from Clarke’s Third Law can be said to be fantasy or not.

      Numenéra the setting isn’t a bad fit for a Torment game, as it’s a weird, atypical setting with a lot of storytelling potential. In fact, that’s why it looks like it does — Numenéra the game tends very much towards the “freeform” end of the RPG scale.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Neither setting is particularly typical of either genre. But it’s far too early to judge how the setting will really play out. Planescape had more than its fair share of anachronisms and sci-fi inspirations and I expect you’ll find Numenara has more than its fair share of fantasy elements, more influenced by the likes of Dune than by the likes of Star Trek.

    • Cinek says:

      Not just that. It will be a turn-based sci-fi game. They really should have done what PoE did – advertise it as a new RPG instead of a successor to the P:T.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Only the combat is turn based, and let’s be honest about the original Torment, the combat wasn’t the reason we played it.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          Also, it doesn’t feel very sci-fi at all. Reminds me a lot of the Planescape setting. The technology is all in the background and mostly in ruins, this isn’t a game where you take cover and fire laser guns at eachother. So far, for me, the setting serves two purposes as far as combat is concerned. It liberates the game from the conventional set of weapons that you get in most RPGs, and it blurs the lines between the occult and the technological. Don’t get fooled into thinking this isn’t for you because it isn’t easy to define what it is, that’s the mistake RPG fans made with the original Torment when it first came out!

  7. Alien says:

    There was combat in Planescape Torment?

    • Dezmiatu says:

      There was. It involved picking the right responses to mind rape, humiliate, and traumatize your companions.

    • Zekiel says:

      Far too much of it, in fact. The last 30-50% of the game (after meeting Ravel) was relentlessly combat-heavy, and this was well-recognised as a deficiency in the game.

  8. racccoon says:

    Looks like kind of sad, not the greatest ideas in place here, the bridges look far to out of place, and the game mechanics look far to mundane.

  9. Tompuce84 says:

    Having played Torment very recently for the first time, the game I discovered was a very insightful adventure, with so much twists on the tropes and mechanics of the genre. I have a mixed feeling about what I just saw because it was all combat related and I spent almost no time fighting in Torment, there was always a better solution.

    I hope this game pulls out this trade mark attitude to.

    • Cinek says:

      Supposedly it’s going to be just as dialog-heavy as P:T was, but… we’ll see. So far more of the info released about the game runs around combat and crisis mechanic, so… meh.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        The alpha so far is mostly text. The crisis test is the third sample they’ve added – the first two were about exploration, interacting with the environment, making choices in dialogue and interacting with party members. The crisis system the way it’s been designed actually allows for a lot of dialogue to take place. In the first of the three tests I barely even looked at the graphics, I was busy reading.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      As the video shows, you can resolve this “crisis” more than one way that doesn’t involve finishing the battle. Being able to carry on interacting with the environment and NPCs while in the middle of the crisis seems to be something they’re pushing. Trying not to call it “combat” mode is a deliberate step in that direction. It’s a “combat system” in which the combat is optional.

      I haven’t been paying any attention at all to the promotional materials but I have played all three alpha tests to date, and there is a lot more dialogue, description, and narration, than there is of anything else in this game so far. Like I said previously, it feels so much like Planescape:Torment that merely describing the differences between the two settings doesn’t help in any way.