The Nameless One
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|The Nameless One|
|Planescape: Torment character|
The Nameless One holding a scalpel in the Mortuary.
|Created by||Chris Avellone|
|Voiced by||Michael T. Weiss|
"Man of a Thousand Deaths"
"The One Doomed to Life"
"One of Many"
"The One Whom Life Holds Prisoner"
"The Bringer of Shadows"
"The Wounded One"
"The Nameless One" is a fictional character from the Black Isle Studios role-playing video game, Planescape: Torment and is the main protagonist of the story. The character was voiced by Michael T. Weiss and created by game designer Chris Avellone. The Nameless One is a heavily scarred immortal, who, when killed, may suffer severe memory loss.
Planescape: Torment begins in medias res, with the character awakening from his previous death experience on a Mortuary slab in Sigil, without his memories. He sets out on a quest to regain his lost memories and discover why he is immortal. In the process, he slowly learns about the varying personalities of his previous incarnations, and the influence they have had on the planes and the people that surround him. The character has an expansive back story, spanning thousands of years, through a multitude of incarnations, benevolent and evil.
In the game
The Nameless One's origins have been lost through time and as a result his history is shrouded in mystery. The Nameless One was once human. He sought the advice of a man named Morte, who ended up tricking him into committing the most terrible crime imaginable. The nature of the crime itself is unknown, save that the planes are still slowly dying because of it. At the same time, The Nameless One was contracted to a lifetime of servitude in the Blood War.
In order to escape his punishment of being damned to an eternity in the Blood Wars, and perhaps to atone for his crime, he sought the help of someone powerful enough to make him immortal, so that he could spend the rest of his life doing nothing but good. Morte, also trying to atone for his actions, directed him to the Gray Waste, where he would find the night hag, Ravel Puzzlewell. The Nameless One traveled to the Gray Waste, to find the "Greatest of the Gray Sisters". Ravel tells him that he must pay for her services, and the Nameless One presents her with the challenge of answering the question: "What can change the nature of a man?". He manipulates her with the challenge of making him immortal and seduces her to bend her to his will. Ravel agreed and performed the ritual, out of love and succeeded in making the Nameless One immortal, but the ritual was flawed, for every time he died, he forgot his memories and became another person. Ravel, in order to perform the magic, split the Nameless One's essence in two, and stripped his mortality from him, which turned into "The Transcendent One". The Nameless One's immortality comes at the terrible price of suffering the torment of not bearing his mortality with him and he will pull tormented souls towards him because of it. In order to test that her spell had worked, Ravel stabbed the Nameless One to death and when he awoke, without his memories, she realised that she had not entirely succeeded in her spell.
From this point onwards, the Nameless One's many incarnations travelled the planes, trying to gather together information on who he was from the fragmented memory of past existences.
The Second Incarnation
The story of what happens after the Nameless One's mortality is stripped from him is told by Morte while exchanging tales with Yves the Tale-Chaser. The Nameless One awakes from his "death", without his memories, and is offered three wishes by Ravel Puzzlewell. Not knowing himself, the Nameless One asks "to know who he is," Ravel grants him his wish, but the truth of his crimes to the planes causes him so much pain that he asks Ravel immediately to make his second wish be to make him forget everything.
He awakes a second time, to find Ravel standing over him, and she asks him what his third wish will be, to which he asks "to know who he is" again, which Ravel grants and leaves telling him "That was your first wish." Presumably, the incarnation spent the rest of his life haunted by his crimes until he died and forgot everything.
The Practical Incarnation
The "Practical Incarnation" was the incarnation that came closest to defeating the Transcendent One. He was cold, ruthless, and incredibly intelligent. He was always tense, suspicious, and watchful of enemies. He was incredibly ruthless and a force to be reckoned with, and Xachariah notes that "there was no denying that anybody who messed with you [The Practical Incarnation] ended up in the black chapters of the dead book.".
He kept very detailed notes in his journal and was the one to issue the tattouage of the instructions onto his own back so that future incarnations could more easily find out who they were. He was the one to trick Pharod into searching for the Bronze Sphere for himself, and imprisoned Vhailor in a cell, so that, in years to come, he could release Vhailor and exploit his abilities. He commissioned a dream machine from Xeno Xander and a portal to reach Ravel from the Godsmen, but was never able to make use of them. He attempted to thwart his hidden enemy, of whom he was forever suspicious. He tried creating false bodies, hiding on the Outer Planes, and building a tomb to trap him in, which he admits to have been disastrous.
In order to access the Fortress of Regrets, the Practical Incarnation enlisted help from companions, using trickery and emotional manipulation to get them to follow him. He pried Morte from the Pillar of Skulls and forced him to do his will, tricked Deionarra into loving him, enslaved Dak'kon after saving him from certain death, and enlisted the help of Xachariah, and forced him to sign a Death Contract with the Dustmen. No matter how cruel, none of the Practical Incarnation's companions ever entertained the thought of abandoning him. Xachariah was a blind archer, who could see by other means, and whose arrows always found his enemies' hearts. Once the Practical Incarnation had recruited Xachariah, he got him drunk and forced him to sign a Death Contract with the Dustmen, which would mean that when he eventually died, he would be condemned to a lifetime of servitude as a zombie. Xachariah traveled with the Nameless One to the Fortress of Regrets, and was mortally wounded there. He took to drinking and died of his wounds soon after and, because of his contract, was assigned to Mortuary work as a zombie.
In the novel
In the official novelization of the game, which is only loosely based on its plot, The Nameless One was a human being, who made a pact with the Baatezu Fhjull Forked-Tongue (an NPC encountered late in the game), offering his service as a soldier in the Blood War in exchange for his town being spared. He then sought a way to become immortal to avoid the Blood War entirely, and all of his most recent struggles are, in fact, the culmination of the machinations of Fhjull to claim The Nameless One's soul. In the book, The Nameless One's ability to recall memories from prior incarnations (beginning with the one that wakes up in the Mortuary) is due to being dosed prior to awakening in the Mortuary with a special elixir derived from the waters of the River Styx by Fhjull Forked-Tongue.
The Nameless One has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, being praised as an unorthodox role-playing game character and a unique and diverse protagonist. Eurogamer gave him the Gaming Globes 2000 award in the category Male Lead Character.
GameSpot, giving the game an "Editor's Choice" score of 9.0 out of 10, noted that "the Nameless One" was nothing like the conventional main character of an RPG: "Even Torment's protagonist, who is heavily scarred, entirely tattooed, and dressed in bones and animal hides, seems nothing like the usual role-playing game hero." Greg Kasavin of GameSpot also noted the diversity of the Nameless One's choices in dialogue: "... it's one of the few role-playing games to ever make good on the promise of letting you play your character however you prefer. Torment's dialogue often lets you choose to make promises, bluff, or play dumb; the game lets you perceive small details if your character is intelligent, understand philosophical implications if he's wise, and intimidate or charm if he's strong or charismatic. Your character's moral alignment and his affiliation with Sigil's different factions are openly flexible and have a noticeable impact on the course of the game." He also noted that the character's "perverse incapacity to permanently die" helps to maintain pacing. GameSpot also noted the possible changes of classes the character can go through, "your character can readily switch between fighter, thief, and magic-user classes and can rapidly advance to a high level of proficiency in any and all of these, which is justified within the game as not so much an acquiring of new skills as a remembrance of latent centuries-old talents."
Empireonline.com placed the character as fourth on a list of the greatest video game characters, stating that "if you're looking for one of the most original, inspired and fascinating characters since gaming began, then look no further than The Nameless One" and "rather than other RPGs of the era, which gave you a blank slate character to flesh out as you wanted, Torment's strength was in the detail and richness of its protagonist, who remains one of the very best more than ten years on." In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 45th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games, commenting: "Recovering the fragments of The Nameless One’s past through his various incarnations is an emotional journey that reveals him to be a character that has truly suffered many lifetimes’ worth of anguish. Though you can imprint your own philosophical views on him through the game’s long-winded dialog, he’s still a fully realized and impressively developed character all his own."
RPGFan said that "as a character, The Nameless One exceeds every video game protagonist to date." Another review from RPGFan noted the diversity of the game: "Want to play the noble, yet tortured hero? The sarcastic and reluctant adventurer? The selfish scumbag? You can do all of those." In 2011, UGO.com ranked him at number two on the list of their favorite immortals, adding "sometimes, living forever just ain't worth the hassle."
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- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "The Nameless One: "It is said you are the greatest of the Gray Sisters, Ravel. I have traveled far to reach you."
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "The Nameless One: "My need is great. My currency is this: a challenge. Perhaps an impossible challenge... one I fear is beyond even *your* abilities...." You echo the words, and you feel the MANIPULATION, the subtle twist designed to pull Ravel's strings."
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "The Nameless One: "Death waits at the end of life for all men. I need it to wait for me no longer... can you do this, beautiful Ravel?"
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "The Nameless One: "Ravel, the ritual you performed was flawed... it didn't work. Every time I die... or at least every time I *used* to die, I forgot myself and became somebody else. I'm broken, yes..."
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Ravel: "Divided in two you were, when your mortality was peeled from you. No longer balanced, much a-broken in the separation... both a blessing and a mistake... but more mistake than blessing, Ravel thinks."
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Ravel: "Not forgotten the moment have I, after the *break*, a-seeing the pain stream from your veins, your cries like a wailing child, every bit of your being filled with *emptiness*."
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Ravel: "A lodestone pulls iron to it... and so do you, my precious half-man, but it is not iron, but tormented souls. As others suffer, they are drawn to you, and your path becomes theirs."
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- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Yves: "'Funny,' said the old woman as she granted his wish and disappeared forever. 'That was your first wish.'"
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Yves: "... he'd forgotten both where he was traveling to and who he was. He'd sat down for a moment to rest his weary legs, and suddenly looked up to see an elderly woman before him. She grinned toothlessly and with a cackle, spoke: 'Now your *third* wish. What will it be?'"
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Xachariah: Well... you were a strange one, always suspicious and watching for something... reckon somebody like you had got enough enemies in yer lifetimes. And there was no denying that anybody who messed with you ended up in the black chapters of the dead book."
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Xachariah: Grim-lookin' gith... unfriendly and silent, like all their kind. Didn't trust that gith a lick, I didn't. See, cutter, them spindly giths care only about two things: keeping out of slavery and killing them squid-headed illithids. Everything else is just lower down the slope, and he didn't give a damn about any of us other than you."
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Xachariah: You could be damnably ruthless, too... like when you made me sign that contract, or abandoned that one mewling chit on Avernus. We had a Balor of a time, as well. None of us ever even entertained the notion to jump ship on your watch, son."
- Black Isle Studios (December 12, 1999). Planescape: Torment. Interplay. "Xachariah: When we split paths, cutter, not much life was left in me. It's a hard path following in your footsteps, and many terrible things did I see. I took to drink, and became half-sodden with the stuff. When I was sodding drunk, I signed my body off to the Dusties. Fate decided ta kick me when I was down, and I died shortly afterward."
- Gaming Globes 2000 - (4/19) | Eurogamer
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- Favorite Immortals - UGO.com