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Author Topic: Kayfabe - input and interest check (prowrestling promotion, scripted storylines)  (Read 1799 times)

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Offline hamish1024Topic starter

Wrestling is fake! Embracing that idea opens up a different style of RP from the usual competitive fight cards. The writers’ room and backstage relationships become as important as the ring. It becomes more of a collaborative affair as your group of performers has to work together to put on the best show possible and increase the ‘heat’ of their promotion (don’t worry, you can still politick for personal glory and a fatter pay check instead). Your character has a ‘gimmick’ persona that they play in the ring, but could be completely different backstage.

I came across the tabletop RPG Kayfabe (sadly the current website does not offer a free version of the rules, though there are few reviews around which give a feel for the game) and I think with a bit of rules tweaking it could make a good forum game. Ideas for matches and show storylines would get discussed in the Writers Room thread, then you can play out the resultant match card in-character. You narrate an interview, skit, or section of match action, then roll D6s based on your character traits to see how popular it was. Matches are broken down into roughly minute-long segments and the player in control can narrate all the action in that period - along the lines of a collaborative story. So with a relatively engaged group it should be possible to progress well through several matches and storylines - and since you have sketched out the plot in advance, you should always have something cool to work towards.

Though there is a system I want to use, it is still at a tentative, rules-tweaking stage, so any and all input is welcome, just let me know if it sounds like something that might interest you or if you‘d like more info. Due to the scripted nature of the matches they should not require a heavy time involvement - two or three posts a week should be enough to progress storylines at a decent pace.

I am open on setting and style as well - I was envisaging an all-female wrestling roster, steering away from outright “sexfights” but welcoming erotic elements into the show, maybe in the manner of Prostyle Fantasies. However if that’s a deal-breaker for potential players then it can be changed - I’m just trying to work out what will play best at this point (what with me being a total forum newbie and all).   

Offline freeko

I would have interest in this. Though I think more information along the lines of character creation and the system being used are needed.

Even if you cut parts of the system out, I am looking more for a vasic set of guidelines than the full rules. How would a match play out for example?

Offline Rook Seidhr

I am not a wrestling fan, and I am not going to play in this game, but I wanted to say this: as a gamer, when I read the Kayfabe rules (back in the day, when it was free), I wished I knew more about wrestling so I could play this awesome game. If you like wrestling and you don't hate system games you should play this.

Offline hamish1024Topic starter

You don’t have to have a huge knowledge of wrestling - I’m no expert - a passing knowledge of clotheslines and irish whips is probably fine. My wrestling education comes mainly from N64 games. You would be creating a fresh federation from scratch, anyway, so not knowing current TV characters wouldn't be a problem.

I do have a PDF of  the basic Kayfabe rule set, from before the makers updated the rules and started charging for it. I wasn’t sure if sharing it on here would fall foul of copyright stuffs, though?

There is a good informative review here:

There is also a sample match narration PDF on the maker’s website which gives an idea of how it would play out.

There are some painfully complex wrestling RPGs out there... Kayfabe takes a completely different approach by placing the emphasis on narrative rather than stats and calcs. Hell, most of the in-ring action is informed by a single 'Wrestling' stat, which is simply a measure of how good a physical performer you are, so matches should play out pretty smoothly.

Offline freeko

Well, I was a referee in a local promotion for 13 years. I will not have much of a problem with the whole wrestling part of things.

I guess I would just need to see the rules on some level.

Offline Rook Seidhr

You don’t have to have a huge knowledge of wrestling - I’m no expert - a passing knowledge of clotheslines and irish whips is probably fine.

See, to me an Irish whip is what you put on top of an Irish coffee. What I know about wrestling, I mostly learned from reading the Kayfabe rules! So, thanks but I will not be joining you. I may watch the game, though.

Offline yuki92

I'm always interested in wrestling RP, but nothing takes off. It all stopped before it even started. So definitely going to watch this.

Offline hamish1024Topic starter

I have played around with the rules for this game and have a draft homebrew rule set which I think would work for forum play. I’ve dropped a lot of the meta-gaming for now and just made a basic rule set which can be used for one-off matches, or recurring contests, as needed.

See below for basic rules, character creation and sample match.

You play as a rookie female wrestler looking to make a name for herself in the glitzy but seedy world of indie pro-wrestling leagues. Although you are technically actors putting on a show for the crowd, not every part of the match is pre-scripted and the risk of hurting (or humiliating) yourself is real. 

The two eager rookies filming tonight’s match are Emily (a well-built brunette) and Lyssa (a smaller athletic girl with dyed blue hair).

1) Heat - The measure of fan interest. Both rookies start with 5 heat; so the starting heat for tonight’s match is 5+5 = 10. In the fight, the wrestlers will want to accrue as much match heat as possible to advance their popularity.

2) Character Stats - WRE / PSY / CHA - rookies have 9 points to allocate between three stats:

Wrestling (WRE) is the measure of physical skill in matches. Lyssa’s is an average 3 WRE, whereas big Emily is a bit more badass with 4 WRE.

Ring Psychology (PSY) is your character’s grasp of “selling” a match to the crowd and giving the action a narrative. Emily is a bit blunt at this and has 2 PSY, whereas little Lyssa takes pride in fast-paced exciting matches and has 4 PSY

Charisma (CHA) is a general measure of attractiveness, likeability and the gift of the gab. Lysaa is a little reticent and has 2 CHA, whereas Emily has 3.

3) Move sets
Each game turn is roughly 1 minute of ring action. If your wrestler has control you pick two move sets that inform your aggressive action. You roll a number of D6 for each move set, modified by your character stats, and accrue match heat for each six rolled (if there are no sixes, then that element of your attack was unconvincing, and match heat will instead reduce by the number of 1s rolled).

Wrestling move sets:
-Throws and Slams
-High Flying
-Submission Holds

When performing a wrestling move set you roll a number of D6 equal to your WRE score, plus modifiers. Rookies have two specialisation points to spend here. Lyssa has a +2 to High Flying, so her aerial attacks use 5D6 over her standard WRE 3. Emily is just generally strong and has +1 in Brawling and +1 in Slams.

To stop wrestlers simply spamming their signature style, if you use one of the four move sets again you get -1D6 for each repetition (to represent the fact that crowds prefer variety). This is cumulative, so the third use (second repetition) will receive -2D6, etc. 

However, the repetition penalty can be avoided by doing a riskier version of the same moveset. This will be eye-catching enough to avoid fans getting bored. This is also a good way to generate bonus D6 but if you fail a risky WRE move you will incur injury points:

4) Risking Injury
Wrestlers can choose to go for more dramatic WRE move sets as follows:
Rough (+2 D6), Brutal (+4 D6) or Dangerous (+6 D6)
However if they fail, there is an injury occurred (usually to the poor recipient) equal to the bonus D6 used. For every six points of injury, a wrestler’s WRE score is reduced by 1. Injury slowly disappears over time (1 point per full match) so minor bumps are to be expected, but reckless moves can endanger a wrestler’s career.

The exact rules on risking depend on the type of underlying move set:
-Brawling and Slamming move sets can only get Dangerous if they incorporate weapons (so it usually requires a hardcore match)
-High Flying move sets are the only moves that split the risk between attacker and defender (so a failed Dangerous attack would incur three injury points each).
-Submission move sets can never reach the Dangerous level (but they can be made Humiliating instead, for an additional +2D6, as per the next section).

5) PSY and CHA move sets
These can be used instead of WRE move sets to represent times when the action isn’t non-stop aggression - e.g. the wrestlers are reversing moves or taunting each other. They don’t rely on the WRE stat either, so they represent that you don’t have to be the biggest wrestler to be the most entertaining. They still take up one of your two allotted move sets per turn, so for example you could elect to follow a slam with a flurry of kicks and punches (two WRE rolls for Slamming and Brawling) or instead you could follow the slam with a taunt (a WRE roll and a CHA roll). They need to be from the following list:

Ring Psychology move sets (using the PSY stat):
-Reversal (can only be used when the previous turn was an under an opponent’s control)
- Dramatic Reversal (+3D6, can only be used if previous three turns were under an opponent’s control)
- False Finish, e.g. timing the pin to break just before the three count.
- Very Dominating (+3D6, can only be used after three consecutive turns of control. Counts as a Humiliation for testing against the recipient’s heat (see below)).
- The Bell (ends the match, plus a 50% bonus to that turn’s heat).

Charisma move sets (using the CHA stat):
- Taunting (if used in the first or last turns, is assumed to be mic-assisted as part of the opening or post-match celebration, and gets +1D6)
- Working the Crowd (if used in the first or last turns, is assumed to be mic-assisted as part of the opening or post-match celebration, and gets +1D6)
- Humiliation (humiliation is immune from the ‘spamming’ penalty of other move sets. However, at the end of the match, a wrestler must roll a D6 for every time they were on the receiving end of a Humiliation, to see if it has affected their standing with the fans. For every one rolled, they lose a point of character heat (to represent the fact they’ve been made to look foolish). 

A rookie starts with 1 specialisation point in one of the PSY / CHA areas - Lyssa has +1 to reversals to represent her high-energy style, and Emily has +1 to Humiliation as she has some flair for playing the domineering type.

Exaggeration - You can go for a risk bonus for PSY / CHA moves, similar to risking injury for WRE moves. This represents going all-out with some dramatic or campy action, and gives +2 D6. The penalty of failing is less severe, and simply lowers match heat by 2 (or the number of ones rolled, if higher).

6) Signature Moves - each wrestler can select a signature move that nets +2D6 when used, on top of any other bonuses.
Lyssa finishes her opponents with a 'Lighting Strike' missile dropkick from the turnbuckle (High Flying moveset) whereas Emily's signature is simply to rub her ample booty in the opponent's face in a 'Stinkface' (Humiliation moveset).

7) Match control - since both wrestlers are performers working to a loose script, turn-by-turn control should be cordially agreed by the players. If there is a disagreement on who should control the narrative, this should be decided by a PSY roll (as ring psychology dictates the more experienced wrestler should generally lead the match).


Using the above created wrestlers, starting stats are as follows:

Player 1 - Lyssa - Heat 5, WRE 3, PSY 4, CHA 2, High Flying +2, Reversals +1, Signature 'Lightning Strike' (High Flying)
Player 2 - Emily - Heat 5, WRE 4, PSY 2, CHA 3, Brawling +1, Slams +1, Humiliation +1, Signature 'Stinkface' (Humiliation)

Standard match length is 7 mins (i.e. 7 turns). Players are free to script as much of the action and outcome as they would like. However the matches themselves are posted 'in character' i.e. as if the wrestling action is real.

Here, both players are simply looking to make a name for their rookie wrestlers. They agree a broad plan for the match - there should be some trash talking and plenty of back-and-forth to take advantage of Lyssa's reversals, before Emily's size eventually wins through. Player 1 will start.

Match starting heat = 10 (5 for each wrestler)

1) Player 1 "With Emily standing arms crossed in her corner, Lyssa makes a rather bold entrance, the blue-haired wrestler leaping to a turnbuckle to wave to the crowd, and eagerly announcing that she will be running rings around her big, dumb, slow opponent. Hopping down, skipping eagerly as the match bell sounds, Lyssa looks to make good on that promise, running straight at Emily. She ducks under the bigger girl's clothesline to bounce off the far ropes, before hitting Emily on the rebound with a dropkick."

CHA moveset - Taunt - roll 3D6 (2 CHA plus 1 for opening) - Player 1 rolls 4,1,1. Lyssa's lack of mic skills really showed! The unconvincing taunt reduced the match heat by 2 (for each 1 rolled).
WRE moveset - High Flying - roll 5D6 (3 WRE plus 2 bonus). Player 1 rolls 4,3,4,2,2 (no effect on match heat)
(Match Heat currently at 8)
Player 1 agrees to hand control of the match to Player 2

2) Player 2 "With Emily floored by the kick, sprawled on the mat, Lyssa starts to drag her larger foe up to her feet. Once standing, though, Emily suddenly knees the smaller girl hard in the stomach. Lyssa swirls backwards, only to be hit with a barrage of kicks and punches from Emily as she starts to impose herself on the match. Lyssa looks stunned, and Emily takes the opportunity to wrap her arms around her opponent. She hoists Lyssa up into the air and slams her down hard into the centre of the ring!"

WRE moveset - Brawling - roll 5D6 (4 WRE plus 1 bonus) - Player 2 rolls 2,3,6,6,3 (Match heat increases by 2 to 10)
WRE moveset - Slams - roll 5D6 (4 WRE plus 1 bonus) - Player 2 rolls 2,6,6,2,5 (Match heat increases by 2 to 12)

Player 2 agrees to hand control of the match to Player 1

3) Player 1 "Lyssa lies groaning after that assault. Emily reaches down to continue her attack on the floored wrestler, but Lyssa suddenly flicks her legs up from the floor, wrapping her thighs around Emily's face in a headscissor hold, before using her legs to toss Emily to the mat! As the big girl tumbles to the floor, Lyssa manages to keep her legs around Emily's head, tightening the grip to weaken her opponent.

PSY moveset - Reversal - roll 5D6 (4 PSY plus 1 bonus) - Player 1 rolls 6,5,6,1,2 (Match heat increases by 2 to 14)
WRE moveset - Submission Hold - roll 3D6 (3 WRE) - Player 1 rolls 6,6,6 ((that went a lot better than expected!) Match heat increases by 3 to 17)

Player 2 agrees to let Player 1 keep control.

4) Player 1 "Emily grimaces as she suffers between Lyssa's thighs, though she eventually manages to force herself out of the gruelling hold, prying Lyssa's legs apart. She staggers groggily to her feet... where she realises that Lyssa has simply set her up for a much worse move! The blue haired wrestler had mounted the turnbuckle in anticipation of her victim's recovery, and as soon as Emily turns and realises, Lyssa launches an aggressive drop kick straight from the top rope - her signature Lighting Strike! Her boots slam into Emily's face and send the brunette back down with a crash. Lyssa capitalises on the surprise, quickly rolling onto her foe and hooking her leg for a pin attempt. The referee counts one... two... but in the last split second, Emily kicks out of the pin."

WRE moveset - High Flying - roll 7D6 (3 WRE, 2 bonus, 2 for signature move (also avoiding a repetition penalty for High Flying again) - Player 1 rolls 1,3,2,4,5,3,6 (Match heat increases by 1 to 18)
PSY moveset - False finish - roll 4D6 (4 PSY) - Player 1 rolls 6,4,2,5 (Match heat increases by 1 to 19)

Both players feel they should have control next, so this will be decided by a PSY roll.
Player 1 rolls 4D6 (4 PSY) = 4,6,6,5 = 21
Player 2 rolls 2D6 (2 PSY) = 2,1 = 3 (Lyssa very much in control of the momentum of the narrative so she will dictate the next move set)

5) Player 1 "Lyssa clutches her head angrily, frustrated that she didn't get the win. Emily meanwhile looks out of it, groaning weakly. A dark look flashes over Lyssa's face, as if she wants to make the bigger girl pay for her stubbornness. She plants a rather domineering boot into Emily's belly to keep the brunette grounded, yelling about the pain that is about to come her way. Emily can only shake her head as Lyssa climbs up the turnbuckle again, waving cockily to the fans, crouching on the top rope before somersaulting though the air and driving a spectacular flying elbow into the big brunette target down below.

CHA moveset - Working the Crowd - roll 4D6 (2 CHA plus 2 for the exaggeration of Lyssa's ham acting) - Player 1 rolls 6,3,2,6 (match heat increases by 2 to 21)
WRE moveset - High Flying - roll 7D6 (3 WRE, 2 bonus, 2 from risked injury of the rough move (which avoids a repetition penalty) - Player 1 rolls 2,3,6,1,5,4,1 (match heat increases by 1 to 22) 

Player 1 agrees to hand control of the match to Player 2

6) Player 2 "Emily looks doomed in the face of Lyssa's showy dominance, reeling after that huge elbow attack. The blue-haired high-flyer grins and smugly skips back up the turnbuckle to prepare yet another round of aerial punishment for Emily. The bigger wrestler isn't finished yet, though, and stubbornly staggers back up to her feet. She lurches around and suddenly grabs for Lyssa before the other girl can leap from her perch! Lyssa is now held over Emily's head, kicking her feet helplessly, Emily showing off her superior strength before SLAMMING poor Lyssa into the canvas from an extreme height."

PSY moveset - Reversal - roll 2D6 (2 PSY) - Player 2 rolls 1,5 (Match heat decreases by 1 to 21)
WRE moveset - Slams - roll 7D6 (4 WRE plus 1 bonus, 2 from risked injury of the rough move (which avoids a repetition penalty) ) - Player 2 rolls 6,2,2,3,3,4 (Match heat increases by 1 to 22)

Player 1 agrees to let Player 2 keep control.

7) Player 2 "Emily is suddenly resurgent, enjoying a rush of adrenaline against a shellshocked Lyssa. She grabs her lithe little foe up from the floor and tosses her roughly into the turnbuckle. Lyssa winces in pain and slumps down into a seated position with her back against the corner. Emily flashes her a malevolent grin as her opponent is now in place for her signature 'stinkface' maneuver. The brunette gives her ample bottom a couple of slaps to rile the crowd, before charging at Lyssa and roughly shoving her hind quarters into the seated girl's face! Lyssa moans and flails her limbs at suffering the humiliating move. Emily is pretty unmerciful, grinding her big ass until the victim is struggling for air. Eventually she relents, stepping away from red-faced Lyssa' flustered form. Lyssa is spluttering and looks utterly out of it after her ordeal. Emily decides to capitalise on this by tossing Lyssa to the centre and dropping down in a heavy hip drop, before hooking Lyssa's leg for a pin attempt!!  The referee counts one... two... THREE!! A cackling Emily celebrates the surprise win at Lyssa's expense. "

CHA moveset - Humiliation - roll 6D6 (3 CHA, plus Emily's 1 bonus, plus 2 for signature) Player 2 rolls 6,6,1,4,3,3 (Match heat increases by 2 to 24)
PSY moveset - The Bell - roll 2D6 (2 PSY) - Player 2 rolls 1,5 (Match heat reduces by 1 to 23, no final turn heat bonus for that unconvincing finish)


Wrestlers earn 10% of the difference (rounded up) between the match heat and their character heat. Both rookies started with 5, and earn 10% of 18, so each wrestler gets two heat points. Next match, they will start with 7.

No-one suffered any injuries. Lyssa did suffer one humiliation move, so she needs to roll 1D6 to check it hasn't hurt her character's reputation - player 1 rolls a 2 so she still has 7 heat.

Every five matches completed, a wrestler gets to improve one of their starting stats, so they have 4 more to go before they are off the rookie rung of the organisation.

This is totally a WIP and feedback would be much appreciated. I just wanted to see if the basic ruleset was viable. If it works as a group game, there is the possibility to add other mechanics such as career earnings, promotional shoots and interviews, specific 'feud' storylines, etc, as desired.