By now, any serious RPG addict 25 years of age or older should be practically salivating over the upcoming release of Torment: Tides of Numerena. Not only is Torment the spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment– arguably one of the most immersive and engaging experiences in the history of PC gaming–it also boasts some pretty impressive talent involved in its inception. Not only are there original members from the Black Isle gang (which is, for those keeping score of these things, the studio responsible for the creation of the Fallout and Baldur’s Gate universes), this project has garnered the attention of Patrick Rothfuss, who has agreed to write a complete storyline for one of the characters (female!) the protagonist will meet along the journey.
For those non-literary types who don’t recognize the name, Rothfuss is the author of The Kingkiller Chronicles, and he’s really, really good. The first two books of the alleged trilogy, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, are absolutely essential reading for fantasy lovers. And while the storyline and setting of Kvothe is decidedly fantastical, the story, the dialogue, and the characters are so multidimensional and finely honed, that to call them fantasy novels seems to do them a disservice. I think that they are literature, plain and simple.
Consider for a moment a snippet of William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech. When addressing the current state of writing and what the writer’s goal should be, Faulkner states that:
He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.
This is what Rothfuss has done. This is what Planescape: Torment did so well. They both tell stories that speak to us and force us to ask these old verities, to ponder our existence, and to ask the big questions of ourselves. It’s going to happen again in a couple of years, and I can’t wait for the introspection.