For the last couple weeks now I have been stumped on writing Whispering Bluff, which is frustrating me to no end, but in the meantime I have been working on the NWG again. This time I am completely revamping what was there to better represent what I want the game to be about… Fame.
So this edition of Dragavan’s Den is going to be about the state of that game and where I am going with it. If you aren’t interested in The National Wrestling Game, don’t bother to read this one.
The history of the NWG goes all the way back to my high school days, where it was created because my friends and I were all big WWF fans at the time. A friend of mine, Darren (who was also the best playtester I ever had), had a cool matrix chart idea for determining the outcome of a die roll (his using 2D6) and the two ideas mixed and grew into the first edition of the NWG.
That version was all about combat and hit points being whittled down to win. The defense chart was the only really interesting part of that version, but we did have a lot of fun playing in our own tournaments. We made some changes and upgrades as we played and learned what worked and what didn’t, getting another version or two out of it before we graduated. There was also a version I did about a special league for people with superpowers, called the UCW (Unlimited Class Wrestling).
A few years later saw me digging out the game and starting to revamp it to include more of the non-fighting elements to the game. This was mostly just add-ons that allowed you to have events happen between matches to gain some building points, which would affect your combat abilities. I was afraid to touch the core of the game system, as we enjoyed it so much in the early years, even though I didn’t really like the combat so much… So that version was never completed.
There were a few other times I picked it up again over the last ten years and tried to pick up where I left off, but each of the was just another attempt at the same thing and ended the same way. Tagging on a different kind of game play to the bones of a game that wasn’t designed for it is not really the best way to go.
So that’s where I was with it until last year. This time I decided to tear down the old game and start from the ground up again (although I did keep a base variation of the original defense chart that was so cool). I wanted the in-ring combat to reflect my desire to make the game about pleasing the audience and not just kicking your opponent’s ass. In fact, I wanted it to allow the loser of a match to actually win more audience support than the winner if they played things the right way.
The first draft of this new system had a number of playtests and showed me that it worked well, but may have had too much math during the action of the match. Using some kind of markers/chips/buttons on an action chart we printed out helped to speed this up a lot, but I still felt it was too dependant on tracking these things to feel like good in-ring action. The audience pleasing parts worked well though, so that was nice to see.
Now I am working on the next revision of this modern version of the NWG, where I am trying to expand the audience interaction/pleasing part, while speeding up the in-ring action part. The balance part of that is that I don’t want to over simplify it and loose the flavor of all the different types of moves and actions you can have your wrestler do. There are some ideas an changes I am in the middle of, so I thought I would go over a little of it with you.
The Death of Hit Points: Even in this new version I had a form of Hit Points (although they were more fluid than in the classic version) to help track the physical condition of the wrestler in the ring. I also had a system of Stamina that was spent to pull off actions an that could be worn down like HP by your opponent with the use of Sleeper and Pain type moves. Since wrestling is really about athletics and showmanship I see no reason for the HP use at all, so they are going away and the Stamina is being reworked to handle all the needs.
Stunning is Power: The recent playtests have shown that controlling your stun level, or you opponent’s stun level, is where the real control an power in the match is. The longer you keep them stunned the more time you give yourself to show off, prepare for bigger moves, and gain audience approval. Stun management rules are an area that needs some tweaking to give a little more chance for the person on the down side minimize it.
The Great Move List Debate: Currently the game has a HUGE list of wrestling moves you can choose from. All of them are things that were or are really used in wrestling (not all the variations of them or different names used for them, but the base moves), which I had to do a lot of research to track down and include. Currently they each have stats about what they “cost” in time and stamina, what they cause in damage and stun, what “class” of move they fall into (pin, hold, illegal, etc.), and notes about some special rules on some of them.
The question I have been asked and have been pondering is if I should keep that as it is or leave it more open ended to allow players to “make up” moves on the fly while they play. I am a bit of a purist, so I like the fact that there are specific moves that have been included in wrestling since the beginning and most “new” moves are just variations on or renaming of these basic moves. But there are people who like to be really creative and do things more open and free, so I have been wondering if I should somehow make it work more that way. I really don’t know any more.
Outside the Ring: The other part I am trying to grow and add is all the stuff that happens outside the actual matches. I want these to be as much a part of the game as the matches themselves, but without taking away from the importance of the matches to your fame. Only so much should be able to be gained through these “scenes” and special events. This also includes figuring out how shows are framed (who gets what matches and what happens between them). This is not something that has been really playtested yet, so I’m not sure how well it’s all going to work yet.
I‘m going to get back to working on these idea and seeing how it plays out. I would love some input or questions about this game (an all my games), so don’t be shy about replying on here or in the forums. You don’t have to be logged in to post a comment here (although it will be moderated to keep spammers off).