World Wide Wrestling: The Roleplaying Game by Galaga Galaxian
LETS GET READY TO ROLEPLAAAAAYOriginal SA post LETS GET READY TO ROLEPLAAAAAY
Is it just me, or is Solid Snake moonlighting as the Ref?
Released early this year, World Wide Wrestling The Roleplaying Game (WWWRPG) is one of the latest in an increasingly large amount of kickstarter launched indie RPGs based off the popular Apocalypse World rules engine. Many would agree that *World games are best when tightly focused on the emulation of a single genre (EG: Apoc World, Monster Hearts, Night Witches) and WWWRPG is definitely that, emulating the testosterone filled, over the top action of modern wrestling entertainment. While I am not some huge wrestling fan/nerd, in my opinion it hits the bullseye harder than a slam from the top rope.
Chapter 1: About the Game
Chapter one is just a quick five pages that give a quick rundown on what kind of game WWWRPG is. The first thing it does is assure the reader that they don't have to know tons about real-world wrestling to play and enjoy the game, and this is true. The book does a pretty good job of going over things and is full of simple illustrated examples of wrestling moves like the ones above. The second thing it does is talk about the kind of characters you'll be playing and the stories you will be telling. In a way players will be playing two characters at once, as WWWRPG embraces the staged "Kayfabe" reality of modern "Pro Wrestling", its all "fake" (sorry to burst your bubble). The players will be handling not only the "On Camera" story of larger than life wrestlers and the dramatic conflicts between them but the "Backstage" reality of the entertainers behind the personas as they work to help their wrestling promotion grow and, more importantly, further their own wrestling career.
The Introductory chapter next gives a brief overview of the roles the players will be taking. One player will, of course, be the GM, called "The Creative" in WWRPG. He handles nearly all the NPCs and also represents the writing staff. Its up to Creative to determine the matches that will play out in each episode/session as well as their pre-determined endings. That said, that doesn't mean everything is set in stone, the characters will all have their own agendas and goals, and that doesn't necessarily line up with what the Management has planned. There is nothing stoping a player from making a "run in" and heels have the ability to force a win in their favor even if Creative says "you lose". In addition, wrestling is a dangerous job, and the potential for genuine injury is ever present. It is Creative's job is to take these "Swerves" in stride and adjust things to make it look like they had planned that way all along...
WWWRPG features ten playbooks, called "Gimmicks" that the players can choose from. In addition to these, kickstarter backers received an extra set of five "Season one" Gimmicks. Fortunately for non backers, a few weeks after release the author was kind enough to make these extra gimmicks available to everyone as a free/pay-what-you-want download on the WWWRPG webpage . Here are the Gimmicks available to choose from as well as a short one sentence description of each, they'll be covered in more detail later on.
You don't play by the rules.
The Golden Boy
You're the future of wrestling.
You sacrifice your body for the fans.
The High Flyer
You take big risks for big rewards.
You make everyone else look good.
You're the brains of the operation.
You scare people.
You're the master of the canvas.
You show them how it's done.
You have a problem.
The additional Season One Gimmicks are the following
You're blessed with natural physical gifts
You bring comedy to the ring.
You're the strong right arm.
You're one of the largest athletes on the planet.
You're the sui generis, the strange one, the weirdo.
While everyone who isn't Creative normally plays their respective wrestler, whenever their character isn't actually competing in the ring, they are encouraged to slip into the role of the announcer (as either their characters guest announcing or a different character). It is the announcer's job to help embellish the descriptions and actions of the currently performing player(s). The announcer even has a special power, once per match they can "put over" each performing player by really talking up their actions with excessive praise, disbelief, and/or description. This has the effect of boosting the result of the player's move to the next level of result. If you are a wrestling fan, imagine all those moments in WWF/WWE where Jerry "The King" Lawler and Jim Ross just completely lose it with excited cries like "OH MY GAWD! OH MY GAWD!" and "That killed him! As God as my witness he is broken in half!!"
Finally, Chapter one finishes up with a page covering a brief glossary of common wrestling terms. Stuff like "Work", "Heat", "Pop", "Over", etc etc.
Chapter Two: How to play this game
Chapter two is even more brief than the first one. This chapter is basically the same stuff "What is an RPG? How do I play?" stuff every RPG books seems to be doomed/obliged to include. Stuff like what you need, how roleplaying works, one-shots vs campaigns (aka "Seasons"), the usual. Unlike many RPG's I've read, however, it actually includes a modest paragraph mentioning ways you can play the game via the internet. It also includes a section on "The Conversation" which is a concept that will be familiar with fans of another * World games. Please forgive me for glossing over it, as there isn't really much interesting in it, its also only 4 pages long. So let's just toss it out of the ring like a low card Jobber in a Royal Rumble and be done with it.
Next time on WWRPG, Chapter Three: The First Episode
The First EpisodeOriginal SA post
This will certainly not get confusing with Wild World Wrestling , which is the spiritual successor to the Know Your Role WWE d20 game.
Yeah, IIRC, World Wide Wrestling's author, Nathan Paoletta wasn't even aware that game existed when he named his own game. Wrestling Promotions tend to have samey names anyways, so let's just jokingly say its keeping with the genre.
World Wide Wrestling RPG Chapter 3: The First Episode
As the title suggests, Chapter 3 is all about how to get started with your first session. The first episode is the time for Creative to introduce the wrestlers to the audience (both the imaginary one and the audience that is the players themselves) and show off what makes them and their stories so compelling.
Things begin with building the roster, each player picks a gimmick. The book recommends The Hardcore, The High Flyer, The Monster, The Technician, and the Veteran as straightforward, simpler choices while The Anti-Hero, The Golden Boy, The Jobber, The Manager, and The Wasted are mentioned as more complicated or less action-focused. Like other Apocalypse World games, it also stresses the uniqueness of each gimmick, while there may be many veteran wrestlers in the promotion there is only one THE Veteran who will shine. After selecting gimmicks, each player then fleshes them out with some additional information. Their name, their look, their "Hailing From" and style of entrance theme, stat modifications, picking moves, and more. Next up is figuring out initial heat between wrestlers.
Heating it Up
Heat is WWWRPG's version of ApocWorld's History/Hx and represents how invested the imaginary audience is in interactions between wrestlers who have history and/or beef with each other. It ranges from +0 (no heat) to +4 (The crowd goes nuts every time these wrestlers face off). Each gimmick's sheet has some starting heat questions, stuff like "Who was holding me back as my tag team partner?", "Who has no respect for all the work I've put into this company?", or "Who is always trying to get management on my side?". Each player takes a turn asking one of their heat questions and someone responds "me" and the person asking the questions marks +1 Heat with their character. Once all the questions have been asked, each player decides whether their character is a Face (A good guy) or a Heel (A bad guy) and then marks +1 heat with wrestlers of the opposite role. Heat relationships can be one sided and don't have to be adversarial, but it does give a launching point for stories. It is creative's job to bring characters with heat together in the ring because this is wrestling entertainment, where every kayfabe conflict is naturally resolved by taking the other guy to the mat.
Once the players have selected their gimmicks, fleshed them out a bit, and resolved initial heat, there is one last bit of character preparation to do. "Last time on Wide World of Wrestling..." (or whatever your promotion's name is) where Creative goes around the table and asks each player what the highlight moment was for their character on the last installment of the show. The only restriction here is a player can't award themselves a title belt (any and all titles start in the hands on NPWs, Non-Player Wrestlers) but other than that damn near anything goes. Did the High Flyer win a hard fought match with their rival? Did the anti-hero deliver a stinging tirade against management? Did the Monster ambush another wrestler with a steel chair in the backstage? Did the Veteran make his return debut after months out due to injury? Did the Jobber almost win a match?!
Once this is determined, its time for Creative to tell his players to take a 10 or so minute break while he books the episode. He considers the initial heat questions/levels and the "Last time" answers of his players, takes notes of any NPWs (Who can be more than just other wrestlers, they can be managers, valets, referees, etc) created or implied by these answers, thinks up a few extra NPWs (a later chapter has a whole bunch that can be used if desired) and lays out the card, deciding the following things.
What matches will the episode feature? Who will each player wrestle, another player or an NPW? (Any NPW vs NPW matches will be handled via a brief summarized narration)
Who will win each match?
What Order the matches will occur in.
- What segments will take place between matches. These are things like vignettes, backstage or in-ring promos, and kayfabe "candid" segments
The book gives some advice, like making sure to give each player a chance to make a promo before or after their match and staying flexible as players often have moves that give them the opportunity to force changes in the booking, modifying matches ("this match is now no Disqualification!"), changing outcomes, forcing new segments, and more. It also states that creative has three primary duties in his role as creative, and these will sound familiar to Apocalypse World fans.
Celebrate and challenge the players
Make it look like you planned it that way all along
Entertain the imaginary viewing audience
The rest of the chapter is spent on going over the game's rules in brief and providing numerous examples of play. Covered first are Moves (stuff like the bread and butter "Wrestle" move to more specific stuff like "Cut-a-Promo" and "Break Kayfabe"), Momentum (WWWRPG's version of hold), and Audience scores. It also goes over the basics of being creative, listing the Creatives' Soft and Hard moves and brief summaries of each. Soft moves are actions Creative uses "whenever the players look at you expectantly, waiting for you to move the action along." They include moves like Put a Microphone in their face , Announce Kayfabe Badness , Book Them in a Match , and Create Backstage Intrigue . Hard moves are something that occurs when players roll a botch or position themselves narratively in a way that is just asking for it, these moves include Give them a no-Win situation , Steal their Victory , Turn the Audience on them , and Announce Legit Badness .
Moving on, the Basics next cover how a wrestling match is supposed to flow. During a match one wrestler is in control at any given time, with their player narrating the action through a spot (a sequence of wrestling action capped off by an impressive feat) and, if a player, rolling an appropriate move based on this narrative. If an NPW has control, Creative simple narrates a spot or two in brief and then passes control back to an actual player (the real stars of the show). This continues until Creative calls for the match to be finished up, at which point he announces the scheduled winner of the match. If this is an NPW Creative simply narrates the end of the match, if the planned winner is a player, it is up to the player to bring the match to a satisfying conclusion and then rolling their Finisher Move to see if they hit it spot on and makes themself (and/or the other guy) look awesome. As part of match advice it also goes over the basics of the announcer, reminding Creative it is a way to help engage player(s) who are not current competing and its power to increase the effectiveness of each performing wrestler's actions once per match.
Problematic Content and "Making the X"
Finally the Chapter closes on further advice about setting up and pacing the first episode as well as the important topic of Problematic Contact and "Making the X". Wrestling, as the book informs, relies heavily on archetypes which reside across a very thin line from stereotypes. Many, if not most heel characters will often say or do terrible, offensive, and inappropriate things in order to showcase their inherent heelness and get the audience booing them. Unfortunately, its all too easy to combine villainous behavior with ethnic, racial, sexual, gendered, or other stereotype and produce a genuinely offensive result.
Wrestling is dramatic, over the top entertainment and sometimes grotesque. While people shouldn't shy away from using negative character traits to drive the action, at the same time, everyone should be aware that the other players at the table may or may not be as comfortable about the introduction of certain content into the game, and often you won't know it until it hits the table. In WWWRPG, if something happens or is said that a player just isn't cool with, they can "Make the X"."The X" sign in real wrestling is traditionally given by the Referee to inform backstage personnel a serious legitimate injury has occurred and medical attention is required. In WWWRPG it can be used this way narratively (including the modern practice of fraudulently making the X to add a line-blurring sense of realness to a fake kayfabe injury), but a player physically making the X (crossing wrists, either above the head or over the chest) at the table means STOP . To quote the book: "When a player makes the X, its a sign for everyone else to elide the content that just happened and restart the scene from the last logical point." It also says that a player is under NO obligation to explain why they made the X, though they may want to say something so creative knows what is up.
Next Time on World Wide Wrestling RPG, Chapter 4: Making the Roster where each of the gimmicks is gone over in more detail, heat, audience, & momentum mechanics are explained, and coverage of advancements and what happens when someone suffers legitimate injuries.