It is assumed that in RPGs every character will at some point contribute to combat in some fashion. This keeps people playing together and keeps the in-game characters as friends, mostly. However, wrestling is an individual sport. It’s drama is kept to one or two person teams who fight against one or two person teams as individuals. For an RPG based around wrestling, there needs to be a way for combat based conflict resolution to engage the players who are not currently in the ring. What follows are a few thoughts I’m currently exploring on how to do this.
The first idea I’ve toyed with is to create some additional combat parameters. Let’s call them “Stress” and “Crowd”. Stress would weigh negatively on combat, where as the Crowd would weigh positively. The idea is then the non-combat players would do what they can to keep these parameters in positive territory for their side while working to push them into negative territory for their opponents. This mirrors the psychological side of combat as well as giving the non-combat characters something to do.
That still leaves me with defining what these parameters are mechanically. Crowds seems more obvious than Stress in thinking about it right now. This would be the non-combat characters doing what they could to rally the crowd to their friend’s side though shouting and cheering and otherwise being gregarious with the people. This sort of thing is infectious and can be seen to easily pass from one person to another where people are gathered for sport. There would be some sort of skill + attribute roll that is modified by how much the crowd is already cheering for the wrestler or the team. This increases the ability of those in the ring to land their attacks as they would be buoyed by the crowd while simultaneously their opponent would have some of their same emotion taken away.
If Crowd comes from outside the ring, then Stress should come from what is happening inside of it. Currently, I have a tentative character attribute called Pain which exists for all characters. This is a measure of the character’s endurance, of how long they can keep going inside the ring before becoming exhausted physically and can no longer continue in the bout. Pain is generated though the moves, holds, and pins that the characters know. All moves can cause some pain and thus wear down the opponent. So I need to avoid duplicating or complicating this aspect of the character. — Aside: Need to give some sort of temporary pain recovery mechanism for tag-team matches. —
With that restriction, it seems that Stress seems like a good way to reduce the effectiveness of a given attack. The character is not going to be concentrating on how well they’re doing. They’re stressed and their attention is elsewhere. They may be able to land the attack, but it is not going to be as good as if they weren’t distracted by other thoughts. This also seems like a good play to introduce some sort of dominance or fear based effect. Something I’ll have to keep in mind as I continue to develop this RPG.
So Crowd makes it easier to land an attack while stress can take away some of that attack’s effectiveness. Does this balance itself out? Is it possible to tweak things to the point where a player has too much of an advantage, and if so how does that play out dramatically? Right at this moment, I don’t know. It is something to put on the list of playtesting items to watch. Until I get to that point I’ll have to run dice simulations once I start assigning numbers to stats and skills.