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Un-Ravel-ling Torment.

Posted by Chris Avellone , 21 September 2007 · 8317 views

Some fan-based questions I answered recently, posting them to share - it's about Ravel Puzzlewell from Planescape: Torment and some of the thoughts behind her creation.

What was the origin of Ravel?

We had a number of physically powerful enemies in Torment, and I thought a night hag would be a good adversary, especially if she was a cryptic, deadly puzzle maker. As the game went on, the idea that Ravel was a branching creature whose life resembled a great tree (or bramble) stretching across the planes, was in love with the player and she genuinely tried to help people at times (only to have it turn against her and the recipient) seemed to be some good hooks to make an adversary.

Writing Ravel was perhaps one of the experiences I’m most proud of in my career. I felt like she came together nicely, and she had a really distinctive tone.

Have you created Ravel while working on Torment, or did you have the idea for her before?

No, she was an original creation for the game. Her creation did influence Kreia in Knights of the Old Republic II, since there were stories with Ravel I never had time to tell that I thought Kreia could.

Has Ravel appeared anywhere else but in Torment?

Yes – Ravel’s existence is like the branching of a great tree across the Planes, although her incarnations don’t always realize what they are tied to. In Torment, she’s a few characters you encounter, and she also shows up in Icewind Dale 2 (she’s the elderly lady with cats in Targos) and she’s also the seer in Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter. In general, the clues to Ravel’s incarnations are that the incarnations have bad eyesight (or are blind), are female, and are usually elderly (though not always). They usually also have dreams or visions about the planes, since they are subconsciously tied into the other incarnations across the planes.

Why did you choose to go with Ravel almost exclusively using the shadow based magic?

I’d describe her magic as more “tree”-based, although that might be stretching it. Generally, she can use almost any kind of magic, she’s not tied to a particular domain as long as the visual aspects of her spells involve thorns, brambles, and trees (hard to do in D+D without being a druid). The only drawback is that she can’t really “gift” others with buffs or helpful spells without them having some drawback.

Have you anything else in mind that she could have left besides a "daughter", a scarred man and (now probably malfunctioning) sensory-stone?

No, but I always saw Ravel as an incredibly powerful legendary figure, so she could have left all sorts of relics, offspring, and perhaps other unfortunate events and historic tales across the planes. She’s made a real mess of a lot of things.

Any more info on ravels daughter (and her father) and if he created her with any other strong relationships in mind?

No word on Ravel’s mate(s) at all, completely an open book for who she spawns with (she’s probably had many, many suitors). As for daughters, her one daughter is detailed pretty thoroughly in the game, and she’s bound to have other offspring throughout the planes, male and female.

Ravel's daughter is described as being vaguely haggish is a young, still beautiful way. Is that just because she's a half fiend, or is she what a hag is before it realizes its potential?

I’ve may have actually violated the tenants of D&D by not restricting the appearance of hags, both in Torment and Gann in the NWN2 expansion, Mask of the Betrayer. They can be as extremely hideous or beautiful as they wish (at least in my world).

Thank you, that was very interesting original.gif There currently is a lot of new background-information surfacing on both of the game and on its creation process. Besides the great interview and material provided by you and Colin McComb on RPGWatch, there is one with Guido Henkel as well (producer). He obviously hated being a producer, having to tell people what they were doing wrong or not fast enough, or even fire them, and being squashed between Interplay's Management and the team on Torment - especially, since the game was the best, most beatuiful and interesting one he's worked on. Source: dsa game (german website on an upcoming game based on "the dark eye"-rpg-system)

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