Planescape Torment: The nature of a man

natureA pressing matter is growing on me: My bags are stuffed full of loot, but I haven’t been able to find anywhere to sell my junk for jink (“jink” is one of the Planescapeisms for money).  With the first area of the Hive explored, I ventured into the Alley of Dangerous Angles to see what was there.

Thugs, mostly.  I was promptly ambushed by a bunch of jerks trying to shake me down, and after I wiped the road with their corpses, I decided that perhaps this wouldn’t be the best place to explore right now.  Instead, I took a southward turn that the game was sending me in anyway, and started to make my way to the Smouldering Corpse bar.

I guess this is as good a time as any to talk about the game’s classes.  PT is a little odd in the D&D Infinity Engine library in that it’s not quite as concerned about classes and combat.  I mean, they’re there, but they take a backseat to the adventure game aspect of it all.  Because of that, there are three loose classes — Fighter, Mage, Rogue — that you can assume based on your skills and attributes, but it’s also possible to switch between them.  I think you need to find a character to train you, too.  For the purpose of simplicity, I remain a Fighter, although I really wish I could be getting through more of these areas without having to duke it out.  With only 31 hit points and a 1-6 club in hand, I’m not exactly a powerhouse.

In every new area, I’m on the lookout for one key thing: named NPCs.  Each one usually has a pretty interesting backstory that plays out via dialogue choices, and several contain quests or XP boosts.  Plus, these strangers are excellent ways to get acquainted with the bizarre world of Sigil.

I meet a man who is mourning for the trees, and in retrospect, there is basically nothing green that’s growing anywhere around here.  It’s a run-down, almost hellish town, and I sympathize for him in exchange for 500 XP.  I also get accosted by a “damsel in distress” who I deduce is trying to lure me into a mugging.  I’m too smart for that, sister!

I then meet a Dabus (they’re like caretakers of the city) named Fell in a tattoo parlor.  In our weird conversation — he communicates with symbols — he tells me that “I cannot change the nature of a man.”  This right here is the central theme to the game, although it’s not going to be explained for a while.  In his back room are canvases of human skin with tattoos on them, which is par for the course when it comes to this city’s dark weirdness.

Speaking of weirdness, I finally make it to the Smouldering Bar.  It gets its name from Ignus, a wizard who’s constantly on fire and is just… floating there like the Human Torch.  His lover is hanging out nearby, but she’s long since resigned herself that he’s never going to be doused.  The game informs me that this guy is very dangerous to me, but I can’t remember why.

The tavern has several interesting NPCs to chat with, including a pair of fiends that Morte warns me about, although the most interesting of all is a strange warrior-mage dude named Dak’kon.  The writing in Planescape Torment is almost uniformly excellent, and I keep wanting to quote various bits of description and dialogue.  It’s like playing through a good book, digging for story and being rewarded with word paintings.  Dak’kon discusses the nature of Sigil, how the entire city is made up of locked doors, most of which can’t be seen or recognized as such, and only a few of which have keys that are known.  After philosophizing for a bit, Dak’kon is impressed enough with me that he wants to join my party.  Hey, the more the merrier!

An old guy named Ebb proves to be a good guide to the city itself, including its general layout, day/night schedule, and information on the Lady of Pain.  Turns out she likes to chuck people into mazes when they displease her, and I have a hunch that that might happen to me at some point.  I also find out that the barkeeper has my other eye, but he won’t give it back until I have 500 gold.  I only have half of that, so I’ll have to retrieve it later.

Read the whole Planescape Torment playthrough on the Nostalgia Lane page!

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