Let's Play Planescape: Torment as a Pacifist Thief

TWs: Some disturbing body/surgery stuff, abuse

When the second edition of Dungeons & Dragons first came out in 1989 the planes took a bit of a back seat. Some of the wider public had some very odd ideas about D&D, and in a move to distance themselves from accusations of occultism and Satanism, the first edition’s Manual of the Planes was not ported to 2e. Still, fan interest remained high, and eventually the area would be revisited, this time expanded into its own full campaign setting. It wouldn’t have devils, but it would have ‘baatezu’. No demons, but tanar’ri.

The year is 1994, and enter Planescape. And enter Sigil, pretty wonderfully brought to life by the books’ artwork. Most of the Planescape core books are centred around Sigil, a cosmopolitan melting pot where people, angels and devils all have to stumble past each other on the way to the bar, and you’re never too far away from some hidden portal to another world. It’s a city sat atop an infinitely tall spire at the centre of the multiverse, filled with philosophers, thugs, and philosopher-thugs. Within Sigil, 15 factions constantly compete and backstab each other to prove that they and they alone truly understand the multiverse. This is the central hook for the setting; but one of the nice things about the whole thing is that, as a base, you could do almost anything with it. You could go to any plane, any world, deal with and debate any idea.

In 1999, an aged immortal suddenly awoke in a mortuary with no memory and a bad dream.

Probably nothing to be concerned about.

A few words, skip if you don’t care
I don’t want to talk too much about Planescape or the game itself, simply because I believe being thrown into the thing is part of the experience. You should probably know that it’s an older isometric RPG, though. I’ll link the intro video on YouTube at the end of this post, and that’s all the game will give you before letting you in the deep-end. There are a few factions in the game, and I’ll let you lot choose which one we pick.

As to the LP itself, I’l try not to take much D&D or Planescape knowledge for granted. I assume you know alignments, Chaotic Good vs Lawful Evil, etc. The game’s pretty heavy on text so while this is a screenshot LP (expect ~10 screenies per post) there’ll be a few points where I just quote paragraphs of text. We’re on the Beamdog-released ‘Enhanced Edition’, and are using two mods that 1) restore some unfinished content and 2) increase the amount of party banter triggered in the game.

Still, as to the content of the game. The character is an aged immortal completely covered in scars who can, among other things, recover ‘old’ body parts and reattach them, and at one point we discover he’s hidden something in his intestine. It’s all pretty bloodless and I’d mostly consider it more weird in description/intent than grotesque, but it’s likely worth mentioning for some. On a different track, there are a few flashbacks to what I’d consider violent, textbook abusive behaviour.

What do you mean by ‘pacifist’?

  • Above else, avoid killing in combat unless absolutely mandatory – doesn’t matter who or what, person or creature
  • Ideally, avoid taking actions in dialogue that result in an enemy’s death
  • Ideally, avoid even non-lethal combat where possible

To my recollection, there will be four mandatory fights in the game. While the game doesn’t have, like, non-lethal options, we don’t necessarily have to fight to the death in these.

Now, on we go.

Images are a little weird in this update with small text / inconsistent sizing, apologies – should be mostly fixed in future updates, I originally had this uploaded elsewhere

The ‘character creation’ in Torment is very barebones, just choosing a few stats. It’s not too bad for what it is – a sudden opening where you and the Nameless One have to quickly figure out your identity for yourself – but it does leave you a bit of an odd spot if you immediately want to be a Mage/Thief. I recall that one of the game’s goals was that character creation should be spread out a bit over the game itself, in a sense.

The general recommendation for people is to play Torment as a Lawful Mage. I agree, and Fighter’s probably second choice. But since this is a semi-pacifist run I think the stealthy, pickpocket class is fitting. We’ll also be Chaotic, for the continued sake of putting a new spin on things, though I think most people are happy to mostly mix Chaotic and Lawful as they come. You can see from my stat spread why mage is recommended though: my Int and Cha are already higher / as high as my Dexterity, my primary class stat. Usually I’d also go 18 Wisdom, and it would’ve made more sense to just drop a Dexterity point and bump that up later, but hey, sticking to theme here.

So, here we are. This is the Nameless One (the one on the left, not the skull). He’s us! Looks like we’ve seen better days, though I guess we’re in no place to complain considering the guy next to us. This, so he says, is Morte, our tank. Silent ‘E’, going by voice-overs. Most skulls I know don’t talk, but we’ll roll with it. Apparently we’re in ‘the Mortuary’, a morgue where the Dustmen dispose of and prepare Sigil’s dead. It’s also got ‘all the architectural charm of a pregnant spider’, apparently. Morte’s words, not mine.

Morte’s fun. The traditional tank is a stoic guy or girl in thick armour; Morte’s an annoying floating blip that somehow makes rude gestures at people. He’s also the closest thing to an ally that we have right now. There are words on our back, but we can’t read them ourselves at the moment. Fortunately Morte can take a good look at our back side and tell us. Let’s get the closest thing we have to a goal:

‘No wonder my back hurts; there’s a damn novel written there.’

We’ll just pick up the journal and… ah. It’s gone. Well, hopefully Pharod isn’t a common name.

To escape, we’ll have to commit our first kill in a sort-of tutorial, one of I think four absolutely mandatory, undodgeable battles in the game. One of the zombies holds the keys and at this stage the only way to get it is to kill them. A moment of silence. In case you’re wondering what zombies are doing here, the Dustmen reanimate corpses of people who in life sold their ‘body’ to them, for use in manual labour. For the sellers it’s a good way to make a quick buck, though a lot of people find it distasteful. In fact, you can find a note begging the Dustmen not to follow up on a guy’s contract, in return for a gift he has elsewhere. This note is found, alas, in one of the zombies; he was buried with it and evidently the Dusties missed it. Not that they likely would’ve paid it much mind.

Technically I got Morte to do it, but for the purposes of this playthrough there’ll be no distinguishing between my kills / party kills. Don’t feel too bad, though. You can quiz Morte about the morality of your actions beforehand, and he says they’ll likely be raised afterwards:

But don’t just take his word for it; you can find a note saying things to the same effect. I’m still going to avoid ‘killing’ any of the others here, however. There’s some more we can do with the other zombies, though. First, let’s talk more about alignment. I said we were going Chaotic. In Planescape terms that means a few things, and it’ll be effected by a few philosophical arguments yet to be flung our way, but it’s also associated with impulsiveness. A lack of decorum and a liking of joking around. And a lot of the time, compulsive lying. Hm. Maybe we should be more concerned about Morte. What this means is that I will be flirting, joking with and querying every single mindless, mute zombie here.

Morte: Psssst. You see the way she was looking at me? Huh? You see that? The way she was following the curve of my occipital bone?
TNO: You mean that blank-eyed beyond-the-grave stare?
Morte: Wha- are you BLIND?! She was scouting me out! It was shameless the way she WANTED me.
TNO: Wanted you to go away, maybe. She was obviously too distracted by ME to pay attention to some stupid bobbing head with a big mouth.
Morte: You? Yeah, right! Trust me, chits beyond the grave don’t care about all that ‘physicality’ and ‘I’ve got a body’ and ‘I’m all scarred and tough-looking.’ They want guys with SPIRIT. That’s me, chief. You? Corpses like YOU are as common as copper.
TNO: Whatever, Morte. Let’s go.

There are also mysteries to be pierced, puzzles to solve, zombies to (peacefully) loot. We’ll be returning here later to finish off some of it.

You heard the word ‘dead-book’ earlier. Well, there it is, that massive thing in the middle. Like I said, the Dustmen manage the city’s dead; this is where they catalogue them all. If it’s not obvious, being ‘in the dead-book’ is a euphenism for ‘being dead’. The elderly man by the book is one of the Dustmen, Dhall. Morte warns us not to talk to him, but TNO insists. It’s good to listen to TNO here (believe in yourself), as Dhall is evidently one of your few conspirators. He’ll give you a lot of info on your current past: you, Restless One, keep springing back to life. When your wounds are very severe, you forget more and more. You’ve travelled with others before… and they’ve all died, resting here in the Mortuary. He asks we take people with us no more. We are probably not going to live up to this request.

This is also our first chance to learn about Dustman beliefs. Dhall is close to dying, now; you can visibly hear him wheezing in old age. And like many an old man, he’s tired. The Dustmen preach that this life is an illusion, full of suffering and misery. Everyone’s already dead, and this world is a shadow of real life, perhaps an afterlife of sorts. Everyone and everything’s stuck in an endless cycle of suffering, until they finally let go of life, passions, and enter the True Death, nothingness.

You can practically imagine Chris Avellone and any other of the development team going over the concept of the game (a quest to restore your mortality), looking over the Dustmen, and thinking ‘Well, geez, we’ve gotta include these guys’.

However, our current existence is basically blasphemy to Dustman beliefs. They’d likely shove us in a crematory if they knew of our state. Fortunately for us, Dhall believes we have to come to terms with death on our own time, which is why he’s been hiding our name out of the records. We can find one removed scrap of paper elsewhere. For now, let’s continue.

Welcome to the other races of Sigil. Everyone ends up here, but tieflings are a noticeable presence, since Sigil so often harbours beings from the Lower Planes. It’s also our first chance to see some of Planescape’s grotesqueness! I’ve been pulling things out of walking corpses, unstitching things out of closed jaws, etc. but now we get to have Ei-Vene operate on us. She’s near-blind, so mistakes us for a zombie. Unlike in real life, letting this strange lady pull needles into you will be ‘strangely painless’ and give you a permanent +1 to your max health. The other mechanic introduced here is memories: as we watch her operate on a corpse, we can remember operating on one ourselves. We hid some goods in zombie no. 42, but alas, we can’t get them without ripping out his spine. But we still get 250XP for remembering.

Of course, I mentioned earlier that I was interrogating every mute zombie for no reason? Time for some pay-off!

One of these zombies is not a zombie at all. It’s an Anarchist in disguise, spying on the Dusties. You can dig him for information, do some things for him, etc. You can also alert Dhall or another Dustman to his presence. Still, I don’t know what the effects would truly be. Would they throw him out? Hand him over to the courts? Is spying an executable offense? At the same time, while he’s not actively doing anything malicious beyond listening for info, I’m unsure whether it would be wise to just stand back and let an Anarchist operation continue without interference at this stage.

Let’s take a lighter, truly righteous path, and shake him down for all that he’s worth. I lie that I’ve got new orders and we’re here to replace him; he needs to leave now and give us all his stuff for the operation. Before he goes, I also get information on the exit out of here; apparently, aside from the front door, there’s also a portal out that can be unlocked with a certain key, a crooked bone thingamabob. The key’s likely somewhere upstairs. For pretty much no reason, I have him operate on me to disguise myself as a zombie. This is one peaceful way to do things, as the Dustmen won’t accost you, but it means you can’t run (as zombies shamble along). There are other ways to handle things, so it’s probably not worth it for most. I break the disguise immediately.

Upstairs I continue my trend of looting zombies. When the Dustman come up I have two options: say that I was here to visit either one of the Dusties, or attend a certain ceremony for someone dead. I use a mix of both; for the former, you can either say you’re visiting Dhall, or [Lie] and use the made-up name ‘Adahn’. I methodically go around telling every single Dustman in the Mortuary about the wonders of Adahn. I’m sure this will in no way lead back to me. If you tell the Dustmen the truth, you get attacked. With my Dexterity, I can also reach out and quietly snap their necks before they can set off any alarms – but that’s not very pacifistic, is it? Finally, we go downstairs. I figure out how to dispel the runes of some giant skeletons, but while this isn’t direct combat and it’s worth a whole chunk of XP it still results in their ‘deaths’, so I decide to spare their boney, boney lives. Finally, the most important thing to be found around here…

I’m glad I have CHA/INT high enough to unlock the third option, as I don’t have heart enough to either lie or admit I don’t know her. This is Deionarra, and among other things she has a nice theme. She was one of the Nameless One’s former companions – more than that, even. Now she exists trapped as a ghost, bound to the world by her love for the Nameless One. We’ll discover more about her later, but for now, we have no memories of her or our past relationship. Deionarra will provide a way out of here, as well as the ability to Raise companions from the dead, but I believe it’s possible to skip this conversation entirely, either through talking with the Anarchist for the answer or doing what I’m about to do in a moment. You really shouldn’t, though. Deionarra has some pretty vital information for us:

After countless lifetimes, unknowable years, we are running out of time. If we do not deal with our little resurrection problem, eventually we’ll have no mind but just… existence. Probably not the best outcome. Deionarra also has some prophecy stuff for us, although you can turn her down. Before she’ll prophesise for you she wants some confirmation.

My answer, I think, saddens her a bit. But I don’t think I can make that vow yet. She tells me:

Finally let’s wrap things up. This is Soego. Soego’s a bit different from the other Dusties. First of all, he keeps mysteriously twitching.

[‘If I may ask… are you all right? You look tired.’]
Soego manages a weak smile, and the corners of his mouse twitch slightly. ‘I have recently taken ill… minor fevers, nothing more. Sometimes they make sleep… difficult.’

Secondly, Soego is a bit of a reverse from all the other Dusties. He actually knows everyone who’s supposed to be in here, so if you try to bald-faced lie about Adahn he’ll catch you out (though you can back out of it). You can also outright tell him the truth, and he’ll note that you do look like you’ve been partly prepared by the Dustmen. If you try to snap his neck… well…

It won’t work; his neck’ll twist alright, but he’ll be unharmed. Concerning.

Deionarra and the Anarchist unlocked a portal for me, but through sweettalking I can convince Soego to just let me out the front door. In my case, rather than tell the truth I say I’m here to visit Deionarra, and ask him how she died. He doesn’t know, but she’s been here (as a corpse, I assume) for some time. Her father still visits. With that, I’m out the door and into Sigil, escape successful.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Mortuary?
Since I decided to flirt with every female zombie in the Mortuary, I think I heard all of Morte’s bizarre inappropriate comments. Of which my favourite was: ‘You don’t need an identify spell to know what she wants.’

1 Like

Interested in seeing how this goes - I’ve played the game a few times but there’s always more content to see in this one, and you’re definitely using a different route than I did.

It’s been relatively rare, but one of the things I’ve enjoyed about trying this pacifist run is finding the odd thing or two that I couldn’t see others really mention elsewhere. I usually go fairly talky anyway, but hopefully I can show off some of the more interesting things in the game.

So, it’s time to start wandering Sigil. I strike up a quick conversation with one of the dabuses, servants of the Lady of Pain. Thanks to my high INT, I can translate and learn the Dabus language. I don’t get any particularly useful information, but it’s a skill that could come in handy later. I also learn more about the Lady of Pain, both from the dabus and Morte’s interjections: the Lady of Pain is a mysterious figure who watches over Sigil, and she either brutally murders or ‘Mazes’ anyone who offends her. So let’s avoid doing so for the moment.

Step 1, in our quest across the planes: let’s try and find a pub.

Since we’re here, let’s solve a quick quest in a little, uh, ‘pacifist’ manner. The Xaositects, or Chaosmen, are probably one of Planescape’s more… out-there factions. The Chaosmen believe that there is no wider pattern to the multiverse, that everything is random, meaningless, disorganised. They go a bit more than that, though: this Chaos is beautiful, wonderful, and only through truly embracing and understanding Chaos, randomness, etc. can one begin to understand the multiverse’s secrets. Out of game, they kind of have the reputation for Chaotic Stupid players who go around inexplicably urinating on the king. They don’t have any restrictions on alignment beyond Chaotic, so you could still be a Good Chaosman, but Xaositects are expressly forbidden from long-term planning or organisation.

These specific Chaosmen go around acting as a gang, the Starved Dogs Barking. In retribution for her three sisters’ deaths, Sev’Tai wants no less than three of them dead. There’s no reasoning with them, and if you talk to them they communicate solely through growling. You can growl back, if you like.

But still, we don’t have to actually go and kill them. We can just lie and say we did the job. Let’s say, to put her soul at ease.

Along the way to the bar we meet Annah. She’ll be important later! But for now she’s useless. You can pay her for information, which I do, but she actually gives you opposite directions to Pharod. In fact, following her directions is liable to lead you into the Ally of Dangerous Angles. It’s fairly dangerous. Good thing I also paid off random street prostitutes to tell me the direction. In the end it’s not really worth paying anyone – but it’s worth talking to one of the ‘harlots’ as Morte will get into a fight with one of them (she’ll want to charge him double for, uh, action).

Remember how Morte acts as a tank by running around insulting people? He inadvertently learns some new cusses from her.

Welcome to the Smouldering Corpse Bar. Despite the name, the man in the middle is very much alive, though we’re hard-pressed for details about him. This is Ignus. His lover, nearby, can give us the chant: for though he loved her, he loved fire far more. He set a swath of the Hive on fire, and as punishment some mages went and turned him into… this. Now he’s perpetually burning, but he seems happy enough. You can try to talk to him, but you can’t move his attention away from the fire.

Elsewhere this den is filled with devils, one demon, a letter of the divine alphabet, a few fanatics who want to eradicate the entire concept of mercy, a man from one of the Prime D&D worlds, and someone who hasn’t got the money to pay their tab.

Let’s meet up with Dak’kon.

We’ll likely find more about Dak’kon down the road, but for now he’s only willing to give us some bare details. He’s one of the githzerai, a people who have made home on Limbo, the realm of pure chaos. There, through the power of their will, they are able to shape chaosmatter; Dak’kon’s blade is a manifestation of his power. Its stats will change a bit depending on how you treat him.

He also really likes to emphasise the word know. In fact, one of his complaints is that the city does not know itself. Let’s turn that around on him.

If I wanted to be Lawful, I could’ve also argued that the city might yet have a purpose and an order, even if he can’t immediately see it. But turns out those final words I used on him were a quote… from him. It’s enough to convince him to join up. While we’re here, I also ask him to teach me some of the githzerai language.

The bartender wants 300 copper because apparently I trashed the placed in another life. I didn’t have the money on me at the time, but the old me gave a nice little prize as collateral: my old eyeball. Huh. Might… might want that back at some point. I don’t have the money right now, however. The bartender also sends me to deal with a ‘Dustman’ trying to skip out on her tab. She’s obviously not actually a Dustman, but I don’t have the money to pay her tab right now. I could also get rid of her by killing her, or quietly slipping poison into her drink (thanks, Dexterity), but these are surprisingly evil acts. And also not very pacifistic.

Let’s say ‘hi’ to O. He seems to know us.

O, such as he sounds in mortal tongues, is a letter in the divine alphabet. ‘Alone’, he says,’ ‘he is but a symbol’. He’s only a part of the great mysteries that form the world. Still, a part can be enlightening in its own right – with the right questions, he disappears and we walk away with +1 Wisdom.

I talk to the devils, the baatezu, and they seem to know me. Which is cause for concern. As far as me and Morte can tell, they’re deserters – or here to get an unfair leg-up in the game of baatezu ‘politics’. We get a little glimpse into the Blood War, where Lawful and Chaotic Evil fiends endlessly fight to the death, though they don’t take kindly to Morte’s interruptions.

A friendly Harmonium officer – an oddly rare thing indeed – is able to confirm for us that the harlot’s directions are more likely to be right. We’re directed to Ragpicker’s Square in the search for Pharod. Elsewhere in the bar there’s some Mercykillers, the executioners of Sigil, though they won’t talk to you. There’s one of the Clueless here, too – an outsider from one of the ‘prime’ planes (where most D&D campaigns are set).

In grand prime tradition, he’s confused between people talking about ‘plains’ and ‘planes’, a confusion we clear up for 250XP. It’s a good idea not to call him ‘Clueless’, however; he takes it as an insult, and you’ll have to apologise.

Outside we meet Barking-Wilder. I earn his love through the use of song, as I do in real life. He’s not overly violent, but all his dialogue is completely jumbled. It’s worth sticking with him, though. Every other person in Sigil has been mocking us for asking about ‘Have you seen a journal?’ but Barking-Wilder knows exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for. Our previous selves have had many over the years: one’s in a tomb, somewhere, and the other’s in the Hall of the Sensates. Let’s keep an eye out, eh?

Outside there’s also a Damsel-in-Distress. She’s easy to dispatch: her story is filled with contradictions, the blood on her dried ages ago. It’s a scam, to lure people. We can give her advice on choosing marks better (as you do), kill her, or, as a bluff, threaten to kill her. We scare her off; hopefully she’ll have learnt a lesson from this all.

Fell over here is a rogue dabus. He might be the only rogue dabus. All other dabuses quietly serve the Lady of Pain, but Fell worshipped the God of Portals, Aoskar, and was cast out. It’s unknown why he wasn’t killed or Mazed like others might have been. We can talk with him thanks to knowing the dabus language, but we could have Dak’kon translate for us instead.

As you’ll note in the picture, while Planescape gives a fair amount of options in roleplaying, it does make definitives about your character. Yes, your character feels empty on the inside thanks to his condition; you can either be honest about that, or lie about it. I lie because I’m a compulsive liar.

As to what Fell’s doing now, he runs a tattoo shop. They’re useful, providing possible big buffs to your character. These tattoos could end up important, as I’ll need 16 Cha to get through one area as a pacifist early on. Tattoos have a lot of other use; they can give you an extra +9 HP, boost your abilities, etc. He also gives us a quick warning, one that’s been echoed by a few people: whatever you do, don’t sign anything. I’m sure I can ignore this freely. Out in the back, Fell has a room filled to the brim with our discarded skin. Evidently we’re one of his favourite canvasses.

In any case, in our conversation with Fell we finally, officially, become Chaotic on the alignment meter. It’s a quiet thing, and something I only notice thanks to the Steam achievements added in the Enhanced Edition. We could go join the Xaositects if we want; the recruiter’s just as barmy and barky, but he’s a bit more friendly than the Starved Dogs. Probably best not to commit yet, however.

Dakkon has additional interest because this isn’t the only game he was in - the character he was named after was also used as the basis for a Magic: The Gathering card.
and more recently

In which we actually become a thief

Here we are at Ragpicker’s Square, where the search for Pharod sent us. I figure here’s a good a time as any to review what we know about Pharod so far: apparently literally everyone around hates him. The harlots, the Dustmen, etc. He has a reputation for unscrupulous behaviour, and every corpse he and his gang turn in seems to be looted of all their valuables. Rumour has it that, given he’s turning in so many corpses, he or his followers might be killing people themselves. As for his personal history? We don’t know much yet. I did get some details off the planewalker in the bar:

It’s odd to go from being someone in the upper wards to someone on the streets. I question the ‘locals’ for more information. Looks like Sharegrave and Pharod are in a little gang war, and though Pharod tried to oust him Sharegrave’s still solidly in charge of this little patch of land. Pharod isn’t here, exactly, but he is near, in hiding.

Unfortunately before I go any further, I run into some troubles. I’ll elaborate in a mo’.

This is Carver. He’s actually ‘Ratbone’ in the unmodded game; a restoration mod renames him as there’s another character called ‘Ratbone’ who was initially deleted from the game. I guess the developers wanted to reuse the name elsewhere. He’s a thief-for-hire – sorry, thief-fer-hire – working for Sharegrave, who refuses to answer any other questions about what he’s doing.

Seems like a forthright guy, let’s get him to teach us thievery for 50 coppers.

It goes pretty well. If I had more Dexterity I could’ve gotten more experience, but it’s no huge loss. One of the ideas behind Planescape is that the Nameless One kind of already knows all of thievery, magery, etc. over the course of his many lifetimes, it’s just a matter of remembrance. Hence why his stats can get so high. That said, right now we are a godawful Thief. Pickpocket isn’t so much a ‘steal’ button as it is a ‘make someone hostile’ button. And you can attack everyone anyway.

Planescape doesn’t offer a multiclass or dual-class system for the player. Dak’kon is a Fighter / Mage, later on we’ll get a Fighter / Thief, but TNO is stuck to one path, albeit he can switch between them on the fly by talking to companions. XP and levels don’t translate between classes, but you keep some physical attributes from levelling up as another class. Which is probably for the best, since it means having a few extra Fighter levels early on won’t really hurt.

We pass by Yellow-Fingers, named so because his fingers have caught jaundice from rummaging around in corpses, and here our problem begins to reveal itself. So, Yellow-Fingers thinks that Morte is his skull. It’s not really clarified if he means, like, he owns Morte as a mimir or something, or if he thinks Morte is, like, his skull. You know, the thing in your head. As far as I can tell, he’s just talking completely out of his arse to pressure you for some coins. I admit, you have to admire the willful delusion to accuse someone of having your skull. Anyway, there’s no reason whatsoever to believe him.

Let’s offer to buy the skull with five coppers.

I mean, I think 5 coppers for someone’s skull is a good price, in fairness. If you do let him live / pay him off, the conversation will end with him trying to pickpocket you. Great guy, Yellow-Fingers.

It’s profitable for us, the player, though. With high INT we can catch him in the act, and observe his technique. The reward, a very slight increase to our Pickpocket skill and some experience. Call him out, and we can demand our money back. Alternately, we can give him money in sympathy for his poor, hard-knock life. The final option is to threaten to kill him unless he gives you information, either truthfully or as a bluff.

It’s here I suddenly realise my error, however. I cannot offer this poor, innocent soul money because I just hit zero. Those five coppers were the very last coins I had. I’m broke. Skint.

This is what happens when you go around giving random people money to tell you about journals. But don’t worry. I have a get-rich-quick scheme.

Side quest time.

Meet Angyar. He signed a Dead Contract, because he and his wife needed the money. But ever since he saw one of the zombies shambling around hurt and all pitiful-like, he’s regretted it to the point it’s stopping him from everyday functioning. In fact, he just angrily yells at us; we get the quest from his wife. I wish more people gave me quests after I break-and-enter.

(Incidentally, Angyar’s wife is named Wife-of-Angyar, proving there really is someone out there for everyone.)

This is Mortai, and he’s kind of a bad Dustman. He’s happy, enthusiastic, and eager to sign new contracts in an attempt to increase his Dustman prestige. In fact, if we mention that we were considering signing with one of the other Dusties, he’ll suddenly double the money for signing a reward so as to incentivise us to sign with him. First, let’s cancel Angyar’s contract – we argue that the Contract is troubling him so much, it might interfere with his passage to the True Death. And also that if he doesn’t help Angyar reach the True Death, we’re gonna tell everyone about it. Mortai caves.

Now that we’ve freed Angyar from undead slavery, let’s go sell our own body. I mean, it’s double the reward, eh? Suddenly a vision strikes.

Hey, the vision said to sign, didn’t it? I continue. Then I go to Emoric, and sign a second contract with him just because. The glories of being chaotic.

Angyar is delighted to be free, but he lets loose something far more important: ‘Ta hear tell, Pharod’s actually got his kip buried somewhere under Ragpicker’s Square. To get to it, there’s some kind of portal ye need ta jump through while carryin’ some junk in yer hand.’

Well. That’s useful. Alright, that brought us some money and some information. Now it’s part two of our get-rich-quick scheme: individually help every single person in the Hive. How cunning.

I might skip over some quests here, but I’ll try to let you know some of the more interesting ones.

First, let’s help Ingress out. She’s been scared of any doorway, any opening, since she ended up taking a trip through a bad, bad portal. That’s the thing about Sigil: anything can be the entrance to another world, and anything – an item, a thought, a feeling – can be a key. Now she’s been stuck here for about thirty years. We get the Planeswalker from earlier to help her out, and she gives us some sentient teeth, as is customary. (Un)fortunately for Morte, they suddenly vividly and seemingly-painfully drill their way into his jaw. But hey, he gets a damage boost so he’s happy. In the end.

While we’re here, I also buy back my eye. I just… rip out my current one and stuff the old one in. Good as new. …The things I do for XP and slight stat improvements.

Porphiron is a pacifist warrior – sort of. Porphiron is perfectly fine with violence, in fact, but as part of the Order of Erit-Agge, he’s waiting until the Final Days come to unleash his years of training in battle. Until then, he trains. As such, he couldn’t defend himself when thugs came and took his prayer beads.

Porph’s face stays still throughout all of this, but his tattoos shift to do his expressions for him. It’s very clear that, while he cannot inflict violence on them himself, he thinks violence should be used and that trying to reason with them would be folly. Alas, we are us, the great disappointment. I could buy the beads off the thugs, or do some of the ol’ pickpockery, but once more I resort to lies. I tell them: Porph is a member of big religious order of trained warriors, which is true. I also add that the order’ll probably come beat them up unless they give me the beads, which is less so.

He’s ultimately grateful for our help, and offers to train us as a warrior (this is how, or at least one way how, you spend proficiency points in Torment), but his disapproval of our ways is obvious. I could just lie to him, but there’s no actual benefit either way so I stand my ground.

In one of the flophouses, a half-crazed old man by the name of Nestor has been living free, mainly because nobody’s got the guts to go get rid of him. The owner wants our assistance.

We could kill Nestor, but let’s talk to him; through the half-jumbles and madness he says, we work out that he needs ‘his fork’ to leave, and that this was taken by a nearby thug in a fight. Let’s go to the thug: again we can kill him, or we could theoretically pickpocket him, but let’s get our charm on.

With a mix of CHA and INT, we take advantage of the fact One-Ear – Nestor bit his ear off in the fight – thinks he killed Nestor. He can still hear his nearby muttering, so One-Ear reasons that Nestor must, then, be haunting him. Don’t worry, though, we’ll use our mysterious connection to the dead to banish his spirit. We just need an item belonging to the deceased.

One-Ear’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.

We give the fork to Nestor and it is, of course, a portal key. Nestor leaves in peace.

We meet a Crier of Es-Annon. Es-Annon is a city that was destroyed long ago; the criers preach its name so that it may never be forgotten. We can convince him to leave Es-Annon behind, to reunite with his brothers and live his own life, but in order that Es-Annon lives on even once all its criers pass to the afterlife, we can suggest transcribing its name onto the Dusties’ memorial wall.

In the end it’s a bit of a sad ending; he’s delighted that he and the other criers will be free in the knowledge that Es-Annon’s name will live on forever, but it’s also true that it’s just one of nigh-infinite names on the stone.

Over at the Dustmen, there’s a series of quests you have to do before you can join their order. Even if you don’t want to join up, it’s worth flirting with it just to follow along, though a lot of the ‘quests’ here can be done independently. First, Norochj wants us to deal with a thief. Easy peasy, I go, learn pickpocketing off them when they try it, then spook them into leaving. I speak to Sere about her doubts in the Dustman faith, and encourage her to think on them and maybe leave, because I am the worst Dustman. Finally, one of the Dustmen quietly murmurs a question to us. It’s either about why we signed our contract, or ‘Do you want to die?’

This is Awaiting-Death. He’s awaiting death, it turns out. He’s young, but he’s tired of life, so he says, and wants you to kill him. If you’ve died in-game you can tell him about it, or you could kill yourself directly in front of him just to see the look on his face, but the most dramatic option is take him up on his offer and start to strangle the life out of him. (Alternatively, you can, when he closes his eyes to await your strangulation, quickly nick his money and leave. But this is morally questionable.)

As you do so, he’ll start struggling for air and pulling at your hands. If you continue to choke him, congrats, you murder him and everyone in the bar will go hostile. Release him and lecture him that clearly he doesn’t want to die yet. Now stop moping and live life for a while, lest the next guy he pays to kill him not quit when he changes his mind. Talk to him later, and he’ll have cheered up and be thankful to you.

The Dustman in charge, Emoric, will finally charge you to find out what’s happened to Soego; he’s gone missing since we last saw him at the Mortuary. We can’t solve this one yet, but we’ll do it in time.

Finally, I go deliver a cursed box from person to person, gradually discovering that a terrible demon lives inside it. In the end I get the demon banished, pickpocket the ruby that was in the chest from the banisher, and walk out a happy man. Hopefully that’ll have no later effects whatsoever. Well, I’m almost a happy man: see, the banisher is one of the-- actually I think he might be the only Disciple of Aoskar left. As he makes clear, the Lady hunts down and ‘vanishes’ any other Aoskar follower, having killed the god herself some time ago when the fella started intruding on Sigil. I immediately begin worshipping Aoskar just to get a reaction.

Oh dear, I’m mazed. Once you know what to do here, it’s not too hard to get out. Since we have that map there, it should be easier to explain. First, you’ll want to go through the portals – you’ll realise that they take you to the opposite portal on the other side. Use this to make your way to your previous self’s camp; he has a journal on how to escape. Read it from your inventory; you just need to use the same portal twice in a row, and that’ll take you to the exit portal.

So you need a portal that leads to you to somewhere you can walk back to it. Easy. The southeast portal is one you can use, though I don’t think it’s the only option, and it’s the one I went with. Thanks for the free loot, Lady of Pain. You can also be sent here if you kill too many random civilian NPCs – if I do that now, which admittedly would be a fairly poor showing on a pacifist run, the Lady will just slice-and-dice me.

Reekwind used to be someone else, God knows who, but he gave out his name freely and has since been cursed. We can do more with him later, but for now he’s living on the street under a new name, cursed with foul smells, living life as a storyteller. We trade stories, I tell him of my adventures, and he discusses the dangers of names. You can either agree that freedom from a name comes with benefits, untraceability, or argue that ignorance and the loss of identity, the loss of knowing oneself, is a high cost. Still, since he’s here, I ask him to tell Pharod’s tale:

I have to admire him, you know, you’re cursed with horrible stench and flatulence, best make it work as part of the story. Good show. Pharod’s story is interesting, but I’ll delve more into it later. We’ve still yet to meet the man.

Finally, still short on coin, I play chance with someone. Win 100 coppers! But apparently I have ‘no luck’, creeping them out and making them refuse to play anymore. Thus, I instead identify some of my various mysterious items, found through rewards and looting. I get… more than 3000 coins. Well then. To Fell!

I have tattooes and I ain’t afraid to use them. After all this, incidentally, I am at last Chaotic Good. As fun as being an Evil pacifist would be.

In the end, I manage to do pretty much all the sidequests available at this stage. There are two exceptions. We’re unable to do an assassination mission in Alley of Dangerous Angles, though we are able to avoid combat through bribing the gangsters. Finally, we can’t clear out a tomb for the Dustmen – though a savvy player would be able to sneak through it and only kill the Necromancer rezzing people. Still, that ain’t too bad.

Next time: I take a brief branch out to magery, crack the faith of one of my only companions, then finally leave to go find Pharod.