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Default Planescape: Torment ending questions (MASSIVE SPOILERS)

March 31st, 2013, 04:15
First things first, if you have not played and completed the game this thread is of no use to you. The only thing you could gain from reading this post or the answers I'm hoping for is destroy your chances of having one of the very best video games experiences you're likely to get.

Spoiler – Do not read unless you have completed Planescape: Torment

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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March 31st, 2013, 06:13
Spoiler

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
Last edited by Kostas; March 31st, 2013 at 08:01.
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March 31st, 2013, 09:37
Originally Posted by Kostaz View Post
Spoiler
There is one more ending that isn't listed there.

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Last edited by Nameless one; March 31st, 2013 at 09:49.
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March 31st, 2013, 15:29
Yo. Been a while.

Of course I don't know how MCA intended it, but I experienced the meaning of the ending rather differently.

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March 31st, 2013, 16:10
That enormous OP was worth it if it brought PJ back even temporarily

I can see how that could work for you but just to get this clear, do you consider the final rebirth you mention literal (as TNO is well-capable of those) or figurative as in a drastic change in the mindset of the TNO incarnation you controlled.

Off Topic: PJ, I never had the chance to thank you for your twitter account and the people I've managed to find through it.

I know that'd be treading dangerously close to P&R but I can see how different views on views on Karma (or sins as they seem comparable in this case) could result in opposing views on the karmic wheel (as per MCA). As completely ignorant on the topic I'm sure you'd be fitting to provide me with some (buddhistic?) overview links.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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March 31st, 2013, 17:03
Neither and both. Or, perhaps, that's the wrong question.

In traditional Buddhism, there's nothing particularly special about death. The thing you call "you" has no intrinsic existence; it's just a stream of moments of consciousness which gives the illusion of continuity, much like a movie consisting of still frames projected in quick succession gives the illusion of motion. This stream is constantly transforming, and can also stop. A hard blow to the head will do that, for example. If it's not hard enough to kill you, it will eventually resume, and because it's drawing from a pool of memories and habits it gives the illusion of being the "same" stream that was interrupted before you got hit on the head.

OTOH if the blow is strong enough to kill you, traditional Buddhists would tell you that the stream just resumes in another body, or bodies, with a bit of a bigger disruption than temporary unconsciousness, old age, or drugs that can also screw up your memories, personality, and stuff. One guy I read, called Vasubandhu, makes a distinction between "cessation through contemplation" and "cessation not through contemplation;" he sees the former as qualitatively different as it's conducive to awakening to your true self, whereas the latter is just business as usual. So sleep, unconsciousness, and death are simply "cessation not through contemplation."

A somewhat extreme Zen take is that you're reborn all the time, moment to moment.

Point being, which body you are reborn in is sort of beside the point. PS:T riffs on this all the time actually. The Nameless One is in the strange condition is that even if his stream of consciousness is disrupted by death, it resumes in the same body — even if all conscious memories of the previous incarnation have been erased, the way it happens with everybody else. This makes his karma catch up with him a lot more quickly than with other people.

On the other hand, in Buddhism awakening to your true self is kind of the point of the exercise; far more significant than the mundane treadmill of dying and being born. Awakening is something that's pretty pointless to describe; just about anything you could say about it would be wrong, or right, neither, or both, or all at the same time. In one sense it is rebirth — a human being reborn as a buddha. In another, it's not, because the human being doesn't change into something other than human, gain anything it didn't have before, nor lose anything it did have before. I don't know if I'd even call it a "drastic change in mindset," although perhaps it is in a way.

So I thought TNO's ending was just that. Awakening to his true self. Until then, through all his lifetimes, he had been attempting to either escape or overcome his karma. He made an about-face and embraced it instead. And at that instant he was liberated.

I don't think he physically ceased to exist at that moment; we did see him still alive and kicking, in a manner of speaking, in the final cinematic. But in Buddhist terms, that would be his final lifetime, and when the clock would eventually run out on him — and it would, whether it would take a day, a year, a century, or an aeon — he would be free from the wheel of rebirth.

(Some Buddhists believe that after awakening you stop creating new karma, but you still have to work off the karma you had accumulated before awakening. That's another way of seeing why TNO had to do as he did at the ending.)

So that's my Buddhist interpretation of the ending. I don't know Hindu philosophy all that well, but from the little I do know, I think it would be a little bit more difficult to fit into that framework. Hindu views on the nature of the self, of rebirth/reincarnation, and of the way to liberation are a bit different. I'm sure you could if you tried though.

Re opposing views on karma specifically, I don't think that's really all that relevant to PS:T. All of the dharmic religions — the various flavors of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism — agree about how karma works to a great extent. In fact one of the things about PS:T is how it plays on this; it doesn't really tell you how things are, just how the different factions believe they are. The factions don't map 1:1 to real-world religions either. The Dusties are like a Hindu caricature of Buddhists, the Godsmen like a Buddhist caricature of Hindus, and the Sensates are a play on a core claim by both Zen and Theravada Buddhists (at least).

Sin, however, is IMO the wrong lens with which to look at the game. The crucial difference between sin and karma is that sin involves transgression against universal or divine laws, and imply a judge and punishment (or forgiveness, in the case of Christianity). Something external to you that sees, judges, and punishes or forgives IOW. You can't really have sin without a judge and/or a redeemer.

Karma, however, is entirely impersonal. Suppose you take a really heavy rock, aim carefully, and drop it on your big toe. The result will be intense pain. You do not need a judge sentencing you to that pain, nor an executioner to inflict that pain, nor can any external redeemer free you from that pain. Pain is simply the consequence of dropping a heavy rock on your toe. All the dharmic religions see karma more or less this way. Anything you do will come back to you, as implacably and impersonally as a rock dropped on your toe will cause pain, and a drink of cool water when you're thirsty on a hot day will cause relief.
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April 1st, 2013, 01:15
Great to see you back posting PJ.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 1st, 2013, 08:50
Thanks for the warm welcome, folks. I'm just passing through though, I doubt I'll stick around much. But who knows, maybe dte will change my mind again…
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April 1st, 2013, 12:38
Hi Prime Junta, good to see you

tell Magerette and Skavenhorde to come back, too.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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April 2nd, 2013, 11:14
I've given the ending of PST a fair bit of thought over the years. Given how the D&D setting works (travelling the planes etc), I'd say the ending we see is anything but final. Keep in mind that while TNO is now mortal again, he is probably the most powerful mortal in all the planes as he's gained the memory and knowledge of a thousand lifetimes.

Someone as powerful as TNO shouldn't have much trouble escaping the war by travelling to Sigil, Fearun or whatever.
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April 2nd, 2013, 14:24
Thanks for the rather indepth exlanation, I'll try to stick to the Torment-related themes to keep this on-topic. I appreciate however the breadth of info (wasn't even familiar with the concept of dharmic religions) provided.


So I thought TNO's ending was just that. Awakening to his true self. Until then, through all his lifetimes, he had been attempting to either escape or overcome his karma. He made an about-face and embraced it instead. And at that instant he was liberated.

I don't think he physically ceased to exist at that moment; we did see him still alive and kicking, in a manner of speaking, in the final cinematic. But in Buddhist terms, that would be his final lifetime, and when the clock would eventually run out on him — and it would, whether it would take a day, a year, a century, or an aeon — he would be free from the wheel of rebirth.

(Some Buddhists believe that after awakening you stop creating new karma, but you still have to work off the karma you had accumulated before awakening. That's another way of seeing why TNO had to do as he did at the ending.)
What I still have trouble pinpointing is the moment/incident that caused the awakening. As far as I'm concerned the moment that would cause one was his unification with his past incarnations and most importantly the 1st one. Indeed after that happened my TNO changed-improved yet still remained very much the one I was roleplaying and I kept control of his actions/thoughts. The merging with his mortality was a much more "physical" event (at least according to the dialogue between TNO & TTO) that, to me, looked like it resulted in a take-over/acceptance rather than an awakening.


On some Buddhism related questions, again I'll be mostly digging for information rather than arguing:
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
In traditional Buddhism, there's nothing particularly special about death. The thing you call "you" has no intrinsic existence; it's just a stream of moments of consciousness which gives the illusion of continuity, much like a movie consisting of still frames projected in quick succession gives the illusion of motion. This stream is constantly transforming, and can also stop. A hard blow to the head will do that, for example. If it's not hard enough to kill you, it will eventually resume, and because it's drawing from a pool of memories and habits it gives the illusion of being the "same" stream that was interrupted before you got hit on the head.
So what do those memories and habits anchor on if the stream of consciousness is independent?
Sin, however, is IMO the wrong lens with which to look at the game. The crucial difference between sin and karma is that sin involves transgression against universal or divine laws, and imply a judge and punishment (or forgiveness, in the case of Christianity). Something external to you that sees, judges, and punishes or forgives IOW. You can't really have sin without a judge and/or a redeemer.

Karma, however, is entirely impersonal. Suppose you take a really heavy rock, aim carefully, and drop it on your big toe. The result will be intense pain. You do not need a judge sentencing you to that pain, nor an executioner to inflict that pain, nor can any external redeemer free you from that pain. Pain is simply the consequence of dropping a heavy rock on your toe. All the dharmic religions see karma more or less this way. Anything you do will come back to you, as implacably and impersonally as a rock dropped on your toe will cause pain, and a drink of cool water when you're thirsty on a hot day will cause relief.
I'd expect you to have used the heavy rock analogy numerous times to explain such a core concept, but I have to admit it flew right over my head. Not quite sure I see the the difference, either inherent or one focused on the consequences, between an act that is a transgression against a judge or one that due to various laws of the universe results in the person acting being harmed (couldn't come up with better wording).

Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
I've given the ending of PST a fair bit of thought over the years. Given how the D&D setting works (travelling the planes etc), I'd say the ending we see is anything but final. Keep in mind that while TNO is now mortal again, he is probably the most powerful mortal in all the planes as he's gained the memory and knowledge of a thousand lifetimes.

Someone as powerful as TNO shouldn't have much trouble escaping the war by travelling to Sigil, Fearun or whatever.
My main issue with that interpratation, just as with the one suggested by the user Nameless one is that while it works and makes sense, it suggests that the game did not provide closure on TNO's mortality as adequate as the closure it provided to memory/personality torment. I've read discussions on even if TNO could tip the scales of the Blood War but it all feels a bit meta instead of viewing the ending as redemptive (even if unsatisfying).
Hope that makes sense.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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April 2nd, 2013, 14:43
Originally Posted by Kostaz View Post
My main issue with that interpratation, just as with the one suggested by the user Nameless one is that while it works and makes sense, it suggests that the game did not provide closure on TNO's mortality as adequate as the closure it provided to memory/personality torment. I've read discussions on even if TNO could tip the scales of the Blood War but it all feels a bit meta instead of viewing the ending as redemptive (even if unsatisfying).
Hope that makes sense.
True, but there is no "death" in D&D. Dying simply means going to the realm of Kelemvor, and then he decides your fate - usually either entering the wall of the faithless (if you don't believe in any deity) or the plane of the deity you believe in.

I have no idea what Kelemvor would do with a being like TNO, who has probably worshipped all the deities at some point. TNO is also much older than most current deities and his original crime probably happened at a time where only a handful of the current deities even existed.

As I see it, there is a lack of closure, yes, but it is missing out of necessity. It's rather hard to figure out what exactly to do with an entity as unique and powerful as TNO.
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April 2nd, 2013, 14:59
Even if TNO walks away from it as happy immortal there is still question what he will do since he can have major influence on planes,so closing story of TNO is bit difficult because.While TNO's story remains open game closes story about "what can change nature of man" and that is what PS:T is about.
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April 2nd, 2013, 15:17
Originally Posted by Kostaz View Post
What I still have trouble pinpointing is the moment/incident that caused the awakening. As far as I'm concerned the moment that would cause one was his unification with his past incarnations and most importantly the 1st one. Indeed after that happened my TNO changed-improved yet still remained very much the one I was roleplaying and I kept control of his actions/thoughts. The merging with his mortality was a much more "physical" event (at least according to the dialogue between TNO & TTO) that, to me, looked like it resulted in a take-over/acceptance rather than an awakening.
Can't dispute that reading… except that IMO it doesn't mesh with the themes and philosophical underpinnings of the game as well, and it is… well, unsatisfying.

On some Buddhism related questions, again I'll be mostly digging for information rather than arguing:

So what do those memories and habits anchor on if the stream of consciousness is independent?
The most common explanation I've come across posits a layer of mind called alayavijñana or "storehouse consciousness" with the capability to do just that. (Personally I find that explanation unsatisfactory.)

I'd expect you to have used the heavy rock analogy numerous times to explain such a core concept, but I have to admit it flew right over my head. Not quite sure I see the the difference, either inherent or one focused on the consequences, between an act that is a transgression against a judge or one that due to various laws of the universe results in the person acting being harmed (couldn't come up with better wording).
There is a difference IMO. With karma, there is no "mediator," just cause and consequence. With sin, the "mediator" — judge and/or redeemer — is rather crucial. In one case we have impersonal, universal patterns of cause and effect; in the other, we have an entity exercising volition and judgement.

My main issue with that interpratation, just as with the one suggested by the user Nameless one is that while it works and makes sense, it suggests that the game did not provide closure on TNO's mortality as adequate as the closure it provided to memory/personality torment. I've read discussions on even if TNO could tip the scales of the Blood War but it all feels a bit meta instead of viewing the ending as redemptive (even if unsatisfying).
Hope that makes sense.
Hm, I did think it closed that too. TNO at the final end cinematic was physically mortal again; that was kind of the whole point. He would certainly die later. In the Buddhist-mythical interpretation I proffered, being enlightened, he would at that point either attain nirvana or, should he so choose, be reborn as a bodhisattva again. In Buddhist mythology, that's pretty much the best ending you can get. (Some people do consider it a bit depressing that the only way to end suffering is to become enlightened and then die. :-p )
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April 2nd, 2013, 15:49
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Hm, I did think it closed that too. TNO at the final end cinematic was physically mortal again; that was kind of the whole point. He would certainly die later.
Lower planes and eternity in blood wars is place he would go after he dies, so he will(potentially)spent eternity in blood wars(last dialog with Fall from grace confirms this).As Maylander explained in few post above there is no classical death in D&D.
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April 2nd, 2013, 18:08
@Nameless one, true, but on the other hand PS:T plays fast and loose with the D&D universe in all kinds of ways.
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