Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tommy's Take on Wild World Wrestling

See, I always thought that the WWE Know Your Role RPG was one of the most underrated d20 releases I had ever read. It wasn't perfect, no, but it was MUCH better than it had any business being. Unfortunately, some combination of Comic Images and WWE stumbled like crazy and the game only got a single release before dying out.

Tony Lee, as part of his new Timeout Diversion Games, has overhauled Know Your Role, stripped out the "WWE" parts of it, and has released Wild World Wrestling, a new 118 page PDF in hopes of providing wrestling fans who are also RPGers with a new, fully supported version of a great game.

The production values are a noticeable step up from Killer Thriller, with several color photos splashed throughout. The PDF does lack bookmarks, which wasn't a huge issue with Killer Thriller, but is a little moreso with this.

OPENING BELL

This is the introductory chapter, explaining the design philosophy. This game is very much focused on in-ring action and not the nuts and bolts of running a promotion, so that things like contracts, expenses, etc., are non-issues.

Everyone is assumed to have a stable of characters (with a number of levels divided up among the characters, not generally equally), and the author even insists that the game can be played solo, since everything is ultimately up to the dice.

COMING DOWN THE AISLE

This is character creation. The six d20 stats have turned into five: Power, Athleticism, Brawn, Instinct and Flair. All five abilities apply to a certain move type, as well as having additional uses, such as beating countouts, giving interviews and avoiding submissions, etc. There is no true "dump stat".

The abilities are ranked from +5 to -5 with 0 as the average. There are two methods of character generation: Random - rolling 1d6 - 1d4, for a range of -3 to +5, or point buy, with characters having 5 points to spend, and abilities being able to be "bought down" in order to give extra points.

Instead of hitpoints, the characters take fatigue damage, of which every 20 points gives a -1 to rolls, and - on critical hits - injury damage, which last far beyond the match.

WWW retains the d20 level scale, with each level corresponding to a position on the card from curtain jerker to main eventer. This section also provides a suggested "spread" for each player's group of wrestlers, to allow maximum possibility for the players to remain involved, as well as providing the best ratio for the fed.

Instead of alignments, characters have Attitude - Face, Heel and Tweener. This allows certain tricks for each wrestler, based off of their mindset.

Weight Divisions modify Abilities while the Weight Mod is applied to most of the actual maneuver attempts...for example, it is much easier to powerbomb a guy who is 140 lbs than a guy who is 350 lbs. HOWEVER, it can be crippling when a giant goes down, as that same weight modifier becomes bonus damage when he does fall. Heat is an in-game currency that can be built up to do some extra tricks.

Characters are further defined by Skills (4 per level, modified by certain other Gimmick Enhancements) and Gimmick Enhancements (4 at level 1 and 2 each additional level).

With only 8 basic Skills (some of which can be further defined), the skill system is more streamlined than in KYR, and Gimmick Enhancements are fairly extensive, replacing Feats and Talents from Know Your Role.

Some Gimmick Enhancements allow you to change the abilities that modify a certain roll, while Finishers are purchases through Gimmick Enhancements as well. Monster Comeback allows Faces to "Hulk Up" while getting beaten on, and Reckless Abandon gives you bonuses on moves that have the potential for hurting you as much as helping you.

There's even a very nice "Repackaging" GE, which allows you to rebuild yourself from scratch...new Gimmick, new Finisher, etc. This is very much in line with pro wrestling, where guys go from evil dentists to impersonators of former stars to demonic half-brothers from Hell.

There are also Flaws, like Injury Prone and Overconfident. The interesting thing about Flaws, is that your opponent gets to decide when they kick in, allowing them to take advantage of your weaknesses. Flaws can get you an extra Gimmick Enhancement, and can be bought off by sacrificing an Enhancement.

Star Power is an awesome, optional rule that can allow you to boost up your lower level wrestlers and penalize your higher level wrestlers, to simulate the pushes and de-pushes that wrestlers receive.

WAR OF THE RING

Here we get the basic system, with the Difficulty, and the rules for Critical Hits and Misses (which, as mentioned, can be devastating in a wrestling match).

Combat is pretty important obviously. Whoever has initiative cam fprce their opponent to declare their move first, while also gaining a +2 to their own maneuver rolls...generally, you will want to save your more difficult maneuvers for when you are at a distinct advantage. Once each side picks their move, they roll off, applying modifiers...the winner inflicts his damage on the opponent, narrates the action for the round and gains initiative for the next round.

Rules for Stun are also present, as you can knock an opponent loopy and essentially just place them on the defensive.

Pinfalls are broken into segments, with modifiers for each part of the three count (Finishers give an automatic 2 count), with extras that can help pin attempts out, such as hooking legs for leverage and so on.

The amount of depth in the combat system is pretty impressive, covering submissions as well, disqualifications, ganging up on opponents and even attacking multiple people at once (with a growing penalty the more attacks you perform).

Tricks are extra tactics that Faces, Heels and Tweeners use in a match, some of which require Heat and some of which doesn't. For instance, you can spend 2 Heat to steal your opponent's Finisher...and if you do enough damage to gain Heat (likely), you get two Heat back instead!

There is also "Quick Match Resolution", determined with a simple die roll modified by Star Power and Heat.

WHAT A MOVE!

This is the chart of modifiers used to build your own move, as well as the dozens of moves pre-built. Note: There is no set stats for a move. For instance, one guy may have a clothesline that hits harder than another's...he just pays a bigger penalty for it (but that may be compensated for by having a higher matching Ability).

It covers a WIDE range of moves, nearly 20 pages of maneuvers statted out and ready to go, or available for quick modification. Superkicks, powerbombs, clotheslines, DDTs, you name it, it's all here. Those familiar with KYR will be familiar with this system as it is largely the same (if not identical).

THE ROAD TO STARDOM

This is the advancement system, which has been streamlined somewhat from KYR, doing away with the large XP totals of the d20 table and replacing them with a much smaller AP system. Title belts are still present, completel with benefits and Bonus Gimmick Enhancements that allow for a "Champion's Advantage", in this case providing stats for a fed's Primary Title, Secondary Title, Tag Team Titles and Women's Title.

BRINGING THE AWESOME

This is all about putting a show together. This includes how many segment each wrestler is allowed to appear in...I assume it's supposed to be 1 + Flair, but it was worded very badly. There are also guidelines on rating Promos (interviews) and Vignettes (skits) which, at your groups option, can be a combination of die rolls and votes from the players. This can allow you to gain more Heat.

One new addition is Ring Rust, potential penalties applied to wrestlers who are coming off of extended breaks, with the longer they have been gone meaning that they have bigger penalties to work off. This can be due to extended injuries, Legends getting challenged by mouthy young wrestlers and so on.

Several gimmick matches are also included here...likely enough to allow most groups to suss out their own gimmicks, like Ladder Matches, Hardcore Matches. Steel Cage matches, Battle Royals and Tables Matches.

CURTAIN-JERKING JABRONIES, MID-CARDERS & MAIN-EVENTERS

The book ends with a dozen wrestlers and one manager, all "inspired" by existing stars like John Cena, Paul Bearer, The Undertaker, The Miz, Mr. Kennedy, Jay Lethal, Samoa Joe and Jack Swagger. Obviously, you can use these guys yourself, use them as guidelines to model your own real life wrestlers or ignore them completely.

Lastly, we get a two page character sheet.

THOUGHTS

No index and no bookmarks are definitely going to be strikes against it. There is a table of contents, at least, and the PDF is searchable, but that won't help much who buy the impending print version.

Wrestlers should be MUCH easier to make now, as there are no more level limits on Skills, Talents or Feats, and classes have been done away with completely as well. With a little work, any existing KYR wrestlers SHOULD convert easily enough, though you may want to consider adding Flaws.

While I haven't played this version yet, I did play KYR and thought it was great. Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of gamer friends who are also wrestling fans, so my personal use of this may not go very far unless I can set up a PBP fed or something.

I've read every wrestling RPG available, I think, and played most wrestling games available, and I would have no reservations about giving this a big thumbs up.

Just...don't mind the pictures. They're a nice touch...but a bit cheesy in that "indy wrestler mugging for the camera kind of way".