Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tommy's Take on Wild World Wrestling Main Event Edition

Nearly two years ago, I reviewed Wild World Wrestling, the spiritual child of WWE: Know Your Role!, one of the more surprising (in a good way), d20 RPGs. Now, Wild World Wrestling: Main Event Edition is about to drop, with improvements and refinements based off of gameplay and feedback. You can see characters built with the first edition of the rules right here on this blog by searching for VIP Wrestling.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: First off, this is actually a pre-release PDF, as Main Event Edition is actually waiting the Print on Demand approvals from One Book Shelf, so it can be released as a print + PDF bundle I believe. In the interim, it appears as though the first edition of the game has been removed from RPGNow. According to the Timeout Diversion Facebook group, the PDF will remain $5, and the print book will sell for $20.

The wrestling in Wild World Wrestling is kayfabed. That is, you aren’t predetermining winners, you are playing it out like a competition. You are not Steve Borden and Terry Bollea, for instance, you are Sting and Hulk Hogan.

As I reviewed the game once before, I’ll describe the game in broader strokes, and then discuss some of the changes between the first version of WWW and this one.

The system is a modified d20 system, with classes removed and ability scores now covering Power, Athleticism, Instinct, Brawn and Flair on a scale of -5 to +5. Your level typically corresponds with your place on the card, from curtain jerker to main eventer, though there are rules in place to give your characters temporary artificial boosts and penalties (Star Power). Alignment is replaced with Attitude, with Face, Tweener and Heel as options. You can purchase Gimmick Enhancements that tweak your wrestler to better fit the concept. Flaws can be used to purchase extra Gimmick Enhancements. Hit Points give way to Fatigue and Heat is kinda like Action Points that power your Finishers, among other things.

There is no set list of wrestling moves, rather a group of modifiers that can be used to build pretty much any move that you would like, with tons of examples provided.

The rules also extensively cover special matches (like cages, battle royals and ladder matches), as well as outside the ring type stuff, like cutting promos and sneak attacks.

A roster of 13 sample characters based on WWE and TNA superstars is included, including a Paul Bearer-like manager.

But what does the Main Event Edition bring to the table?

Some key changes include:

-          Free Gimmick Enhancements for filling out not only your name, but your gimmick and your entrance music (an important staple in pro wrestling).
-          Characters now get more Skill Points per level.
-          Characters can now swap out a single Gimmick Enhancement each time they level up (rather than having to blow up their sheet and rebuild every time they, say, want to drop a finisher). This is more for Kane making mini transformations over the years from Evil to Slightly Less Evil than it is for Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS becoming Fake Diesel.
-          New Gimmick Enhancements like Critical Strike (when you NEED to go in for the kill), a new set of Master GEs (like Master of the Game, in which you are prepared for basically any opponent), and more, with many other GEs being tweaked (like Indefatiguable now being available to anyone).
-          New Flaws: Glass Jaw and Old Injury (yes!)
-          Submission rules are now mechanically identical to pin attempts.
-          New Tie-Breaker order.
-          Tweaks to Tricks, including a great new Heel Trick called Phantom Tag.

It is also worth noting that a new Quick Play document has been released, which includes six new wrestlers, including one based off of one of my personal favorites, Wade Barrett.

WHAT WORKS: Still the best wrestling RPG I have ever seen. The level-by-level GE swap is brilliant, and a welcome addition. I always like more stuff to play around with, so more Tricks, Gimmick Enhancements and Flaws are a good thing. The production values on the book are a noticeable step up.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: Still probably the RPG that I’m likely to have the hardest time getting players for. Either my potential players are not wrestling fans, or they are already indy wrestlers and don’t feel the need to play an RPG about it. I still would have preferred Skills to have gotten a full overhaul into something closer to the Star Wars Saga Edition rules.

CONCLUSION: Improved production values plus rules tweaks are a good thing. Timeout Diversions is promising more support for the game, including roster books, federation books and quarterly books coinciding with the major Pay Per Views. Wild World Wrestling has already made big steps to separate itself from Know Your Role (which was already a fine game), and while few of the changes in this book are massive innovations, they do a nice job of pushing the game just a little higher up. If you’re a fan of pro wrestling and RPGs, you have absolutely no reason not to pick this game up…even if, like me, you will just stare longingly at it in hopes of someday busting it out in play.