My name is Eric Campanella and I'm the artist that designed the Symbol of Torment. I'm very flattered with all of the compliments you've given myself and our team! Also that you've taken such an interest in the game and its origins and that you maintain such a reverent homage to it on your website. It's a title that had a profound effect on all of us that worked on it. Chris Avellone's storytelling was absolutely amazing! There was a synergy on that team that made all of us grateful for the experience. Many of us still look back and talk about what an incredible time we had on the project. Enough gushing!
I wanted to respond to a personal message that you sent to Big Dave Maldonado about the meanings behind various symbols in the game. I'm happy to provide the following. Feel free to post this puppy on your website! I've listed various places in the game where these symbols can be viewed, most of which you already know about.
First- The symbol of Anguish. The Tattoo on the Nameless One's shoulder is of Dianarra. Her hair is wrapped around his bicep as if she's forever entwined in his destiny. As I began concepting and subsequently building her character, I felt she encompassed all of the emotions that this game would explore. Chris had infused her with this fascinating and tragic personality and it inspired me to "imprint" her on the NO in a very personal and permanent way. She also represents all of the people that our "hero" had betrayed or destroyed in his long journey.
Second- The Rune of Torment. The bladed shape that appears on tattoos, the Axe of Torment, the Weapon of Torment, and is part of the ultimate Symbol of Torment, is actually two perfectly matching shapes flipped and combined. One of them is meant to be pure steal, the other rusted metal. These represent the Nameless One and the Transcendant One and their very unique relationship. You can see this symbol close up if you go to the bestiary section of the journal and make sure you have no portraits selected.
Note: Of much less obviousness is a symbol that can be found in the Fortress of Regrets and on the TO himself. It is of a double helix where one strand reaches its ultimate goal of "purity", represented by a diamond shape, while the other sort of dies out. This is the Symbol of Hope with an ironic twist that it belongs to the Transcendent one who works towards erasing the Nameless one (the dying strand) while becoming omnipotent, himself. You can see this symbol behind the "hero" portraits in the Journal.
Third- The Symbol of Torment. This is the combination of the Dianarra and Rune of torment symbols. It further reinforces the entwining of innocents in the Nameless One's twisted world- The good people who get stepped on along the way, if you will. The runes that run through Dianarra's hair are those of invocation. Foreseeing the end of this journey. They also represent a similarity to many of the runes written on the NO's back. Most of them have no specific meanings, to be honest. I just came up with some cool designs, but there is a tiny Symbol of Hope (the TO's symbol) at the end giving a bit of an ironic twist. A really good place to see this symbol is in the journal if you back all the way out to main page with no text in the left viewing area.
The Planescape universe is so steeped in myths and symbology that very shortly after starting on the project, we all started creating shapes that evoked the combination of threat and otherworldliness that was this realm. My early character concepts included a lot of designs with amorphous symbols designed to evoke one emotion or another. Simple ideas: sharp, harsh objects meant power/danger. Rounded would give off a safer, possibly more sensual feel. As Avellone would pass to me each character description, it was easy to be inspired, since he gave me such a good idea of what the character was like on the inside. I feel it's best to create a character from the inside out. If you know what a character is about emotionally, the physicality will reflect this to one extent or another. Somewhere along the line I began to feel that specific symbols should be incorporated into major story elements. The main character is covered in tattoos so I thought that was a good place to start. Everything else sprang from there!
Hope this answers your question!
Thanx for giving me the opportunity to clarify this. I really enjoyed putting some visual backstory in the game and was very excited to have a chance to explain it.
Take it easy,
Eric "Scampi" Campanella