What Ya Gonna Do When This Pro Wrestling Tabletop RPG Runs Wild On You?

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Epic stories of good and evil. Flamboyant, larger-than-life characters with amazing abilities. Conflicts settled through battle after battle on a weekly basis. Fans of role playing games might be thinking we’re talking about their hobby, but those statements also apply to the world of professional wrestling. Fans of both looking for a way to mix their two favorite things can do so thanks to ndpdesign‘s Kickstarter sensation, World Wide Wrestling. Playing this game with a mix of wrestling fans and tabletop fans can turn the wrestling fans into fantastic RPG players and RPG players into wrestling fans! How, you ask?

Know Your Role

The line between the classic characters of pro wrestling and the character classes of many RPGs is very thin, so the game offers classes called “Gimmicks” that fit the world of pro wrestling perfectly. Players chose between The Golden Boy, The High Flyer, and several other classic archetypes. The decisions made here help the GM (known as Creative) discuss the wrestling federation setting of the game.

A Peak Behind The Curtain

Like most games based on the Apocalypse World engine, the rulebook serves as an excellent guide to running a game in the pro wrestling genre. It explains terminology, discusses how the big time federations work, and even illustrates various moves so that the uninitiated can point to a move for their character to do in the ring. Fans that already know how the backstage machinery works will find thoughtful essays on wrestling and might even be surprised by the origin of a word or two.

That’s Sports Entertainment

Matches in World Wide Wrestling focus on how entertaining they are to the crowd. It’s not completely about who wins or loses in a match, it’s about developing a character’s audience. That process is baked into gaining experience for the character, which can give them more moves, increase stats, or even allow them to take on an entirely new persona. Characters get these advances when they reach the peak of their popularity… or when it bottoms out and they have to make a desperate change before they are let go from the promotion!

It’s Real To Me, Dammit!

The game sets up the federation as an ongoing concern, because that’s how most people get into wrestling. The players briefly recap last week’s episode and dive headlong into this weeks matches. The Booker sets the outcome of the matches ahead of time, but players can change them based on things happening in the match or their characters deciding to improvise. Drama arises when the person booked to win a match can’t because of an injury, or a tag team partner might have stayed out partying last night and is too drunk to safely work in the ring or many other real-life complications that often alter planned storylines in the ring. The soap opera for the fans is already compelling, but the one spurred on by backstage dramas keeps players thinking about both sides of the game.

Putting the World In World Wide Wrestling

ndpdesign recently released International Incident, a supplement with more Gimmicks, essays, and rules for adjusting play styles to different styles around the world like lucha libre and puroresu. There’s also a flourishing Google+ community where fans post their own classes and links to their experiences of actually playing the game.

What would your wrestling persona be? Cut a promo in the comments, brother.

Image credit ndpdesign

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