Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Favorite Role-playing game experience.

Let’s get one thing straight, I love role-playing games.
I’ve been a role-playing enthusiast since I was a teenager. I can trace my connection to the majority of my social circle to role-playing games. I spent several years working at a role-playing game company.  I helped found an international organization devoted to role-playing. Role-playing is second to only comic books in the hierarchy of my fanboy interests.
I’ve played several versions of Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve played most of the old World of Darkness games and a couple of the new. I’ve played Champions, Gamma World, Toon, Chill, Cyberpunk 2020, Deadlands, and many more.
I am currently in a group that plays both Promethean and The Dresden Files RPG.
However like every role-play there is that one game. Every role-player has one, that one group that just clicked for them and even years after it broke up still has that lingering nostalgia for it.
In 1994 while working at Wizards of the Coast I found mine.
I found it when I learned a co-worker found a copy of the WWF basic Adventure Game and had started a group and wanted to know if I was interested in joining.
Yes you read that correctly.
My favorite role-playing group of all time was a group playing an RPG based on Professional Wrestling. It was a game published by Whit publication. It was meant to be the main book for a whole line, but as far as I have ever been able to learn it was the only book released.
To be honest that book as published was a so-so game but we worked at a gaming company. We were able to fix the rules to make a working game.
And what a game it was. For the majority of the nearly two years we played this game there were only three of us playing. All players had several wrestlers and managers, a ref, and a ring announcer.
It was structured so that in a match you would have two wrestlers and the third player would have his ref character in the match. Whoever was ref was the GM for that match. The game was basically a protracted fight that goes move by move with attacks and counters.  In a night we would have time for about 4 to 5 matches and all three of got to play as all three of us also acted as gm. 
Our fictional wrestling organization was Intercontinental Wrestling Federation or the ICW. It was located in Las Vegas out. Steve, whose house we played out went so far as to get little wrestling figures to use as miniatures and made a scale map of the arena that took up most of the table to use for play.
As I said earlier each of us ran about 4 or 5 wrestlers. Mine were a mixed bag of various archetypes that would show up in wrestling.
Johnny Hartman the all-American. He was a college football star from South Carolina that had gotten into wrestling as a form of cross-training.  He was taken under the wing of “Captain America” Lance Arness, who he referred to as coach. He had a long rivalry with a wrestler only known as the Duke of Slamchester and a brief rivalry with the ICW champion the Golem. His finishing move was a pile driver he called the Touchdown.
Vincent “The Don” Vincenzo was a Mafia themed wrestler. He was managed by Uncle Guido Vincenzo and teamed with his cousin Benny “the leg breaker” Pagliocci.  I ran all three characters. Vincent would start most matches offering a bribe to his opponent to throw the match. His finishing move was a coach slam called the Strong arm.
Jerry Aldini, who was often called the hardest working man in wrestling. He briefly held the Intercontinental champion ship after defeating Apollo Storm. Eventually had a heel turn after he felt he was disrespected once too often.
We had storylines that would go on for months, we had rivalries, and we had pay-per-views. We were convinced that the house we played at was bugged because we would have a storyline and soon a similar storyline would appear in one of the real feds.
Seriously, we had a game session where one wrestler was taken out with a high heel shoe. A week later on WCW Hulk Hogan was hit taken down with a high heel shoe.
Of all the role-playing gaming groups I have been part of this one still stands as my favorite. I had more fun with this one than any other I have ever played in.  It was that perfect mix of the right people together with the right game setting. We had three other players that joined briefly at various times, but it was usually the core three.
 The group finally broke up when Shawn, our third player lost interest and Steve and I didn’t think anyone could really take his place.
I made a couple of attempts to put together new groups but they either didn’t gel or just didn’t get off the ground.
And what made me bring up that bit of nostalgia? Stay tuned, I will be getting to that.
So what was your favorite role-playing experience?


  1. It was the morning of February 28, 2001. (I'll explain why I remember that specific date in a bit.) A friend and I had been playing a marathon gaming session that had begun the night before. Just the two of us, myself and the GM. We had a superbly epic adventure going, halfway through the session the dice and rules were cast aside, and we were just riffing an excellent story. We hadn't even realized the sun had already come up.

    We made it to the treasure room. A mystical crown was perched atop its stand, light shining from above, every climactic Macguffin trope was being brought to bear at this very moment. The brave adventurer takes the crown from its perch, argues with his (GM-player) companions, and finally places it on his head.

    The clock on the wall read 10:54

    Why do I remember the time? Because it was at precisely that moment when this happened:

  2. P.S. If ever you get around to trying again for a pro-wrestling themed campaign, I'd love to step into the ring.