This article originally appeared in Pyramid #5
¡ TAKING GAMING TO THE MAT !
Summing Up the World Wrestling Federation®
By M. David ClarkEditor's Note: Professional wrestling is one of the last great truly American art forms. It has all the implausible twists and outrageous plots of a soap opera, the larger-than-life characters of a comic book and the action of classic movie barroom brawls. Many of its participants are outstanding athletes who train long and hard to put on their sweaty little passion plays with just the right mix of flair and brutality. And, as long as you don't take it too seriously, it's fun. Big fun, in fact. So when I heard that Whit Publications was producing a wrestling RPG under license from the World Wrestling Federation, I asked game designer Dave Clark to give us a preview.What makes the World Wrestling Federation® Adventure Gametm different from most RPGs? It may be because it is the ultimate barroom brawl, or the intense level of the live-action roleplaying involved, or it could be because it is the first game to combine tactical combat and roleplaying successfully and make them interdependent. Whatever it is, the WWF Adventure Game does offer more than a few inventive ideas for a tactical combat system as well as for roleplaying. At a minimum, it offers most players a break from the average RPG campaign.
The matches begin with several players creating a group of wrestlers, managers, announcers and even referees. You can play established characters, such as The Macho Man Randy Savagetm or The Undertakertm, or you can create your own personalized characters. After determining which wrestlers will compete, and for which championship belt (the World Championship, Intercontinental Championship or the World Tag Team Championship), the room goes silent and the interviews begin. One of the players acts as the interviewer. Your opponent grabs the microphone and spews out his foul propaganda. Then it's your turn.
"You are a dead man, Scorpion!", you snarl, calmly looking into the camera, "maybe you put me in the hospital for a few weeks, but when I'm done with you... your mother will need dental records to recognize you!"
After the interviews, you hand your theme music to the announcer. "In this corner...", the announcer begins, "... weighing three hundred and twelve pounds, from parts unknown, Tim 'The Vice' Thorton!" The music blares as you flex for the crowd. You walk slowly to the table knowing that at any second your opponent will be coming down to the ring. The only difference is that this time he will be carried back to the locker room on a stretcher. The players not involved in the match act as the crowd, cheering and booing the two characters as they climb into the ring.
With your opponent sitting across from you at the table, the referee starts the match. His role is like any other Game Master's -- he ensures that players follow the rules of the game and keeps track of damage and other game statistics. However, the referee is also a player character. During a match a referee can be distracted or even stunned. Referees will roll against Perception to notice little nasty tricks like pulling on an opponent's tights to help gain a pinfall. If his Perception roll succeeds, the wrestler must break the pin attempt. If he fails his Perception roll, he will not notice the cheat and a wrestler may very well be pinned. Darn!
Wrestlers attempt maneuvers using the unique Weardown Systemtm, developed specifically for the WWF Game. This inventive system decreases a wrestler's attributes as he takes more stun damage, thus allowing an opponent to perform more complex maneuvers on the weakened wrestler.
The reason for its development was simple -- most RPGs try to mimic reality, but wrestling combat is sports entertainment. Instead of developing a game system and then trying to adapt it to wrestling, I did the reverse. I developed the system around wrestling. So, after many years of test play, this system developed into something that imitates wrestling and still adheres to reality.
The Weardown System uses percentile and six-sided dice. Percentiles determine whether characters succeed in performing a maneuver or task. Six-sided dice determine stun damage. There are few modifiers for task resolution but plenty of modifiers to increase stun (using a steel chair, Irish-whipping opponents off the ropes, etc.).
Combat in the WWF Game is simple. A character is either trying to perform a maneuver on his opponent or his opponent is trying to perform a counter-maneuver on his attacker. In simple terms, one character is the attacker and the other is the punching bag. Once an attack and a counter-maneuver have been declared, both players roll dice. Initiative will stay in the hands of the attacker until he misses with a maneuver and the opponent succeeds with his counter-maneuver. There are various types of attacks which I could write several books on (and have) but because of limited space, I will avoid that here. A wrestler wins a match when he can score a pin or a count out, or make his opponent submit.
In the WWF Game, all matches and interviews happen in real time. If your character gets hurt during a match and has to stay in the hospital for three weeks, then you cannot play that character for that length of time. If your character gets suspended or involved in a "loser-leave-town match" challenge, then guess what happens to him! In the course of a match, many situations can happen -- wrestlers may cheat (as mentioned earlier), other wrestlers may come down to the ring and sneak attack a character, managers can interfere, etc. Players should always roleplay their characters during the session. The game even awards players who do so, using a creative new Fan Support and Fan View system. This system is a form of the alignment system, but it's much different from other RPGs, in that it has a game function beyond simply promoting roleplaying. Beginning-level characters start with a Neutral Fan View and no Fan Support, but by your actions -- good or bad -- you can increase or decrease your character's Fan Support and Fan View, which translate into various advantages for the character. There are three levels of good guys: Favorite, Hero and Superstar. And there are three levels of bad guys: Heel, Rogue and Villain. As a character's Fan Support increases, he gains cheap shots (if he's a bad guy) or comebacks (if he's a good guy), which can be used to gain initiative during combat. And the most beloved wrestlers get the biggest advantages -- for example, a Superstar, now matter how badly he's getting trounced, has a chance to Power Up (a la Hulk Hogan) and pummel his opponent.
Other aspects of the game that increase the roleplaying aspects are the advantages and disadvantages. Players can gain advantages like Fast Learner or Power Source. They can also take disadvantages such as Glory Hound, Ego or World Championship Title Lust. As the matches continue, so does the roleplaying. Imagine yourself standing face to face with your best friend saying, "Get in the ring, Punk! Either take my challenge or shut up!" What is even more unpredictable is your friend's wrestler, who has the Compulsion disadvantage, attacking your wrestler on the spot.
"I don't want to wrestle you in the ring!" your friend yells as he quickly rolls the dice, "I just want to beat you up!" Surprised by the sudden attack, your wrestler does not get to fight back, let alone notice that your opponent has picked up a steel chair.
The basic game includes over 150 maneuvers with complete definitions. It is easy to read and easy to learn. It contains some of the top superstars of the World Wrestling Federation® and their statistics. So if all of this sounds fun to you, then get the game, tell your friends and meet them in the squared circle. And watch out for that steel chair!
World Wrestling Federation is a registered trademark of TitanSports, Inc. World Wrestling Federation Adventure Game is a licensed trademark of Whit Publications, Inc. Weardown System is a trademark of Whit Publications. © Copyright 1993. All rights reserved.
Article publication date: February 1, 1994
Copyright © 1994 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to email@example.com.