CITY OF PAIN BY JOHN TERRA

Standard

Copyright 1994.

A renegade priest from the Cyberpapacy has escaped to Berlin. He has a program called the Fourth Seal. A program that could cause untold destruction. NATO sends a team of Storm Knights lead by Major Havoc. Havoc is a Mystery Man from the Nile. Berlin has been invaded by both the Tharkhold a realm of techno-demons and the Nile Empire. Both realities are competing for control of the city. They ally with the Vanguard a group of superheroes from the Nile Empire lead by Destructo Don. They also get help from some cyberpunks, two agents of the German government who are transformed by the invading realities and a mysterious techno-shaman from Tharkhold. Against them are the supervillainess Scarlet Asp and her team. Tharkhold prince of Berlin Vutark. Cyberpriests from the Cyberpope in France. Ninjas from Kanawa corporation from Nippon Tech and various demons and street gangs.

This is the final Torg book ever written and John Terra’s second. He did a complete 180 in tone and style. This one has a whole slew of characters and subplots. There is a lot more action and this is a fun book. He uses the team that he created for the game and was in one of his short stories. I suppose the only complaint is that there was too many characters in this book. You have groups fighting a cyberdragon at a castle. a romance with the ninja character Daremo who loses his love and goes on a revenge spree against the Kanawa corporation and their army of ninjas. The renegade Hospitaller from the Cyberpope creating an angel persona and going vigilante on the evil gangs. Fights with cyber skinhead gangs and gangsters with laser Tommy guns. Various betrayals and reality transformations. It starts to get hard to keep track of. Still it all came together at the end with a big final free for all battle. It was a fun and enjoyable end to the series. Perhaps new books might be written. The role-playing game is making a comeback so too might the fiction books.

Advertisements

INTERVIEW WITH EVIL BY JOHN TERRA

Standard

Copyright 1993.

A reporter comes to Illmound Keep to get an interview with the Gaunt Man. He decides to grant her one and so tells of his origin. On the planet Geos which is similar to Earth with seventeenth century level technology. This planet has no gods or organized religion. Instead there are cults based on sorcery. The Gaunt Man was a normal man who was chosen as the leader of the Cult of the Nameless One. In a ceremony he actually sees the Nameless One. This changes him to the shriveled walking corpse that becomes the Gaunt Man. His new found power leads him to a trip far underground where he finds Heketon one of the darkness devices that the Nameless One has spread throughout the dimensions.

Using the device he lays waste to his home world and threatens that some time in the future he will return to finish the planet off. Then he invades his first world Kantovia. This world is filled with humans that are changelings. The Dire Wolves are the most powerful and this world also has a high lord that wields a darkness device. He makes friends with this high lord and slowly finds allies to turn to his darkness and eventually destroy Kantovia and drain it of it’s possibilities.

This book tells the origin of the Gaunt Man the leader of the High Lords in their invasion of Earth. Apparently he managed to get out of his predicament from the beginning trilogy and is back in power. An interesting story in it fills in some knowledge about him. How he became a High Lord. How the gospog, the evil plants that are reanimated corpses, came about. It is told as a narrative in the first person so it has a very intimate feel for this character. The only negative is the Gaunt Man is pure evil. He enjoys causing pain, terror and destruction and this book is him successfully doing this. It can be a downer to have a whole book dedicated to his campaign of evil. Not very uplifting. Still this is an interesting book and informative for those that enjoy the TORG universe.

TORG OUT OF NIPPON BY NIGEL FINDLEY

Standard

Copyright 1992.

Nikki Carlson is a young American woman working in Japan. It is a changed Japan since the Possibility Wars. Storms surround the island all the time. Large mega-corporations have now taken over. Nikki works at the Nagara Corporation. Her department handles analyzing the results of a top secret research team. One day the building is attacked by ‘wreckers’ the euphemism the Japanese give to groups carrying out such attacks. The attackers spare Nikki’s live. In the paranoid world of corporate Japan this raises suspicions that Nikki was in on the attack. Her being American makes her a perfect scapegoat for the head of security.

She manages to negotiate this and the deadly ninja assassin that tried to kill her. She is later assigned to a secret research base that Nagara is running in Sumatra. Sumatra is now part of Orrorsh the horror realm. She finds a place where tentacled monsters, zombies and werecreatures haunt the land. She must survive the horrors outside and her own employers on the inside to discover the secret that has thrown her into this extraordinary adventure.

So we get a full length novel. One that focuses on one character. Nigel Findley is a writer that I have read some other books he has done and enjoyed them. This one is my favorite in the Torg books. I enjoyed the corporate intrigue and paranoid as much as the horror elements that came in the second half. The author has a real good understanding of Japan and their corporate culture. Working for a Japanese company I found this part more interesting then when I first read it twenty some years ago. It was too bad that they never did more books like this one. Having a tightly plotted story with a central character was what was missing in the other books done for this series.

TORG MYSTERIOUS CAIRO EDITED BY ED STARK

Standard

Copyright 1992.

INTRODUCTION By Ed Stark

‘Square Jaw’ Nichols is about to be fitted with cement shoes and tossed into the Nile by some mobsters. He is saved by the intervention of Captain Cairo. A short little introduction to the world of Cairo in the Nile Empire.

KNOWING THE RULES By Ed Stark

Jack Reynolds is an expatriate American living in Cairo. Since the arrival of Dr. Mobius and his Nile realm he has now got a job as a private investigator. One day the wife of the notorious mob boss Max Burban wants him to find her missing husband. This leads him to a plot by a Japanese corporation to take over the Cairo underworld.

CARNIVAL VOICE By Bill Slavicsek

Angus Cage is getting drunk at a local bar when he is approached by Quentin Payne. Payne owns a shop of strange oddities. He wants Angus to help him resurrect a past pharaoh who is the doppelganger of Dr. Mobius. In exchange he will return to him his beloved Clemeta. Payne is stealing spirits from innocent people so Cage decides to end his plan.

THE SCARAB’S STING By Grey Farshtey

The Silver Scarab is a superhero who gets involved in a plot by the French resistance to frame the Mystery men for crimes against the Cyberpope. They hoped to get the Mystery Men in the fight on their side.

THE SANDS OF CHANGE By Steven Brown

Phillip Collington is a student from England who was affected by the reality storm that changed Egypt. He is now an expert in weird science and helps the Mystery Men with his expertise. One day he gets involved with the hero Sandstorm and his life gets some unexpected excitement.

CRY HAVOC By John Terra

A group of Stormknights are heading to Cairo. They heard rumors of Dr. Mobius developing some new weapon. The group consists of a Core Earth Journalist, a Japanese ninja, an Aylse barbarian woman, and a renegade Hospitaller from the Cyberpapacy. The plane gets shot down and they are rescued by Major Havoc a Mystery Man who carries twin .45s. They destroy a giant robot Sphinx that Dr. Mobius developed. This is what is depicted on the cover.

ICARUS DESCENDING By Greg Farshtey

Paul Bennington owns the Club Icarus. He also runs a criminal exchange that matches criminals to those that need such skills. He has to fight off a Japanese corporation and their ninja assassins who are trying to take over his business.

DEAD END By Shane Lacy Hensley

A young woman has become the superhero Raven to avenge her father’s death. She is ambushed by deadly assassins and is saved by The Shroud. Together the two stop a plot by Dr. Mangler from replacing the leaders of the Nile Empire with clones.

THE DREAMS OF MIDNIGHT By Bill Smith

A professor is assigned by Dr. Mobius to study the strange powers of a young English girl whose parents were killed in an accident. He finds out that the girl holds an ancient spirit and that spirit switches bodies with the professor.

The third anthology for the Torg series. Once again they decide to go back to the Nile Empire. I thing this was the best of their anthologies. They decided to concentrate on what makes this realm so interesting. Namely the superheroes and villains. The weird science and pulp gangsters. They also had some interaction with other cosms. While some stories were better than others they seemed to be on the right track in their stories.

 

 

TORG DRAGONS OVER ENGLAND EDITED BY DOUGLAS KAUFMAN AND ED STARK

Standard

Copyright 1992.

INTRODUCTION By Ed Stark

A brief introduction to the realm of Aysle. Most of the British Isles and Scandinavia have fallen to the invading realm where magic is real and mythical creatures exist. It then has a debate that the British government had to extend citizenship to half-folk.

HIS COOL,BLUE SKIN By Caroline Spector

Martha Ayers is an American living with the newlywed husband in a small English village when the reality storms come. They change the village and her husband is now a blue skinned elf. She is a Storm Knight so she has retained her reality. She starts getting dreams from Uthorion that she must go and kill Lady Pella. She also gets images on some man who also wants to take over her body. She finds out that both sides in the possibility war are trying to take over her body.

THE VOYAGE OF THE DARIA MARIA By Greg Farshtey

Robin Treveylan leaves his boring life on a farm to join a pirate ship the Daria Maria. He rises to second mate. One day they take on some passengers. One is a representative from the British government on Earth. They have to fight a kraken sent by the forces of Uthorion.

CHILD OF THUNDERS by Lester Smith

A man in Ireland looks for his sister who transformed into a faerie. They reconcile and join forces to fight on the side of good.

WARRIORS OF DESTINY By G.D. Swick

A mentally retarded girl and her leprechaun fight agents of the cyberpope who are leading the villagers of her small Irish village astray.

GYPSOR’S LUCK By Bill Smith

Gypsor is a happy go lucky satyr who works at the Satyr’s Pub. One day he is captured by a slave trading dwarf and send to a diamond mine in Wales. His human friend Bakkeris joins forces with a young satyr who is from the god that Gypsor worships to rescue him from AK-47 totting dwarfs.

THREE SOLDIERS By Douglas Kaufman

Three soldiers of Lady Pella’s Home Guard survive an ambush and must make their way to safety.

COMPANIONS By Ed Stark

Hasifur is a centaur living in a Scottish village. One day the people turn against him and he is forced to flee. He meets up with a harpy who had a similar experience. They find out that it is magic that Uthorion is using on humans to make them hate half-folk so that he can recruit them into his army.

MYTH REALITY By Lisa Stevens

Culann is an elf who with his tribe went into hibernation centuries ago as the magic disappeared. With the return of magic his people have revived. They come on a village that was massacred by Vikings and adopt the sole survivor a young boy. They go on a quest to avenge the village and join forces with an IRA terrorist.

TALES OF THE NIGHT WALKER By Grant S. Boucher

The Night Walker is an old elf that has made a reputation as a detective. He lives in the Tower of London that was given to him in exchange for his recovering the stolen crown jewels. He comes out of retirement to protect a woman from Orrorsh with a gem that grants immortality. Soon people associated with her turn up dead after being killed by a werewolf.

The second anthology in the Torg universe and this one was the sword and sorcery realm of Aysle. The stories were OK but nothing really stood out for me. The Night Walker story was the most interesting otherwise it was a mediocre collection.

TORG STRANGE TALES FROM THE NILE EMPIRE EDITED BY GREG FARSHTEY, GREG GORDON AND ED STARK

Standard

Copyright 1992.

INTRODUCTION By Greg Farshtey

Dhalshim a young boy in Cairo is fascinated by the old pulps his grandfather has in the attic much to his mothers disapproval. One day a violent storm comes and the next day Dhalshim finds that the world is changed. Gangsters roam the streets and the city is now under the control of Wu Han the Overgovernor of Dr. Mobius. Wu Han comes around and arrests his mother. Thus is introduced the realm of the Nile Empire. A land where 1930’s pulp fiction is real.

CROCODILOPOLIS By Matt Forbeck

Angel is a bootlegger of illegal booze in the Nile Empire. Secretly he runs guns to the NATO-Isreali forces that are fighting Dr. Mobius. One day the Pharaoh’s soldiers come gunning for him a Rick’s Cafe. Thus starts an adventure that takes him with his friend Omar to a secret facility at the old Roman city of Crocodilopolis.

STORM SHIFT By Douglas Kaufman

A group of Storm Knights are on a mission into the Nile Empire. A reality storm has temporarily shifted the area to Core Earth. Lead by a psychic Janya they are investigating a threat. They instead find a group of Sufis who are pacifist and living in peace. They also find out that the psychic vision is a trap and they do not have that much time before the storm shifts back to pro-Nile. Janya is from the Cyberpapacy and not a storm knight so it could be fatal if she is caught in a new reality. Her only hope is to sincerely convert to Sufism and hide from the coming Nile Storm Knights.

THE CHEKHOV STRAIN By Christopher Kubasik

Wu Han is the Overgovernor of Cairo and a typical stereotype of a ’30s pulp fiction Chinese. He has a Fu Manchu mustache and silken blouse with a dragon image on it. He has long fingernails and cackles evilly. When not planning some diabolical plan he designs and builds death mazes for his enemies. One day he comes up with a truly insidious plan. He kidnaps an actor troupe from L.A. doing a Chekhov play. He plans on distilling the essence of the play using the realms weird science and making a virus. The virus will turn people into a Chekhov play living in quiet desperation unable to act. The virus works too well and infects Wu Han turning him into a three dimensional character.

THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF THE SPIRIT CATS By Douglas Kaufman

A meeting at the Explorer’s club in Khartoum has Lord Cunningham narrate one of his adventures. The Pharaoh’s forces are using a weird science device to transplant their soldiers brains into cats for spying on the resistance. They are also using it to transfer the essence of the Black Jaguar a sort of Tarzan in this realm. This gives their men powers of the jaguar. Luckily Cunningham is able to destroy the device.

THE FACE OF JUSTICE By Kevin Stein

Effie is a secretary for C. Michael Sloan a pulp writer who also happens to be the Wraith a superhero. One day armed men come looking for him and this propels Effie on an adventure that turns her into the superhero Justice.

BILL By Ray Winninger

Bill Burns is a struggling novelist who works doing interviews for an entertainment magazine. He goes to the Nile Empire to interview Dr. Mobius. The realm changes him into a pulp writer.

THE LAND BELOW By Steward Wieck

A troop of the Nile soldiers go to the Land Below a sort of Pellucidar type world that has formed. They find it full of eternity shards but are foiled by the primitive savage Kord.

SHAHRAZAD By Christopher Kubasik

A woman whose father is murdered by a gangster takes the name Shahrazad and sets out for revenge. She manages through an elaborate scheme to steal all of the gangster Muggsy’s loot and redistribute it a la Robin Hood to the poor masses of Cairo.

An anthology about the Nile Empire of Dr. Mobius. A pulp ’30s reality that has invaded Egypt and North Africa. It is filled with gangsters, and superheroes and villains. Weird science, melodramatic behavior and stereotypical characters. This realm is probably the most interesting of the realms in the Torg universe but the quality of the stories were mixed.

Crocododilopis was a standard action story. Nothing really special. Storm Shift was boring. It was a sand storm filled with talk about how a girl must sincerely convert to Sufism. And that was about it.

Now the Chekhov Strain was my favorite. Using Chekhov to create some sort of debilitating plague was a unique idea. Personally I would have used a Pinter play but the story was a fascinating look at the psychology of the human condition.

The Strange Affairs of the Spirit Cats was also a fun good old pulp action story. It had a twist ending that was just hilarious.

The next three were somewhat boring. Face of Justice was a good idea but not handled in an interesting way. Bill was mostly incomprehensible. The Land Below is another good idea not handled well. Most of it is the Pharaoh’s men discussing how they will descend to the Land Below then another agonizing slow descent. Reminds me of the rock climbing scene from the movie Lost Continent.

Finally Shaharzad was an OK attempt. They had the funny gangster slang used which was over the top but made it mildly amusing.

So a mixed bag for their first anthology. Luckily they would improve with subsequent books.

TORG THE NIGHTMARE DREAM BY JONATHA ARIADNE CASPIAN

Standard

Copyright 1990.

The Gaunt Man has been defeated. The Storm Knights managed to cut him open and throw in an eternity shard. Now the Gaunt Man is constantly exploding and having to put himself together. In effect he is out of the picture. His darkness device is still stealing possibility energy from the Earth. Thratchen the Gaunt Man’s lieutenant has decided to take over the Gaunt Man’s realm. As a thank you for setting it up so he can take over Thratchen helps the Storm Knights on their way out of his realm. Tolwyn the leader has a final reckoning with Uthorion the high lord of Aysle. Meanwhile Andrew Decker in California is free of the Gaunt Man’s control. With his friends they work to stop Baruk Kaah’s invasion of California. Then they also head to the realm of Aysle. All for a final confrontation that will determine the fate of Earth and many other realms.

The final book in the Possibility Wars Trilogy comes to an end. It was a good solid story. We get to see more of Orrorsh. We had a small adventure in the Nile Empire. We actually visit two of the worlds that are invading ours Tekta Ker the realm that Baruk Kaah comes from and Aysle. Needless to say our heroes manage to stop the Gaunt Man’s plans. So it basically sets up the world that the role playing game universe has set up. I found the trilogy to be an exciting read. It had a colorful cast of characters and some fantastic settings. A good start to the book series.