Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Momentum and Success in WWWRPG

So recently on the World Wide Wrestling RPG Google+ group, we were talking about an issue some of us had with the game. W3RPG has a fate point system in place called Momentum. You gain Momentum for succeeding in doing moves and you can use them to make your rolls better, interrupt your opponent, or activating your role move (Heel or Face). It is essentially a fate point currency. However, there are some issues with the way the Momentum Economy works with the rest of the game that causes a perpetual momentum problem.

For those that haven't played W3RPG, it is powered by the Apocalypse Engine. The game uses only 2d6 to do any sort of moves. A partial success is a 7-9. while a great success is a 10+. 6 and below are botches. Your character's stats range from -2 (super bad) to +3 (really good). At first glance, this makes the game less granular with the bonuses. There is a fairly good difference between having a +1 and a +2 in your stats. For example, if you have a +0 in your Power stat, then you have a 58.33% chance of getting at least a partial success and a 16.67% chance of getting a great success. When you bump that up to a +1 Power, suddenly, you have a 72.22% chance of getting at least a partial success and a 27.78% chance of a great success. That is a pretty big leap. If you have a +3 in a stat, you can only fail on a roll of a 2 or 3. In fact, with a +3 in a stat, you will have a 58% chance of getting a great success.

A part of this is because of the steep bell curve that 2d6 has. Bonuses make a huge impact on the probability of getting a success or not. And the better the success, the more Momentum you can get to make future rolls more successful. Matches end up being a bunch of successes and back and forth, with the Momentum being used to interrupt or increase their finisher at the end.

So what's the problem?

Looking back at stats, if you have a +3 in a stat, you will be getting a great success 58% of the time. In game terms, this means you'll be getting a lot of Momentum and other benefits depending on the move you do. For example, the basic wrestling move states that if you get a 10+ on your roll, you remain in control of the match and can get either 2 Momentum or 1 Heat (the stat that gives you enhancements). The game is all about narrating your character's match in a wrestling ring and making moves based on what you narrate. So, as long as you narrate moves that play to your strong stat, then you will always be in control and gaining momentum unless your opponent spends a momentum to interrupt. And even then, if you've built up the Momentum, you can easily take back control.

In addition, you can basically build up a lot of Heat quickly in a match. Ending a match with +4 Heat gives you a +1 to your Audience stat, and getting to Audience 4 gives you an advance. So with a +3 in a stat, you are essentially always building up an insane amount of Heat and getting Audience fairly often. And truthfully, there isn't much reason to narrate your wrestler using their bad stats. The game encourages you to stick with your strong stats so you don't botch, build up heat, then when you're at 4 Heat, spend 2 Momentum to end the match prematurely with the Heel move. The only thing stopping someone from doing this consistently is a gentleman's agreement saying they won't. But that's not really enough for me.

What's the point of having botch results when players don't really botch? The botch results make the match really interesting, but we never see them because players are consistently hitting 10s and over. And while you can and should occasionally put wrestlers in situations that put them at a disadvantage, consistently punishing a player for playing their character is silly. Why should I punish the High Flyer for never doing a Power move when Rey Mysterio or Kalisto never really do Power moves? Not to mention, there are several moves that can shore up stat weaknesses (like the Monster's ability to use Power instead of Look backstage). 

Ultimately, I'm identifying the mechanics I have issues with and am tweaking them to provide a more healthy and varied match while still rewarding a high stat. First off, the biggest issue I see in W3RPG is the conflict resolution system. In most RPGs, the rolls you make to resolve any kind of mechanical conflict are affected by two things: your stats as a character and the difficulty of the conflict. For example, if you are picking a lock, you'd add your Lock Picking stat to your d20 roll. If the lock was difficult, then you get a penalty depending on the difficulty of the lock. W3RPG doesn't have the difficulty penalty in its conflict resolution rolls. All rolls are based primarily on your stats as a character. 

So this is what I propose

Wrestling Difficulty System

This adds a layer of penalties depending on the difficulty and danger of the move in question. Whether it is a Feat of Strength, a normal Wrestling Move, Cutting a Promo, or anything else, this should help reel back the success some, while also rewarding doing more risky behavior.

There are three levels of difficulty in this system. +0 are trivially easy moves. Resting holds, intimidation, whatever. -1 are moderately difficult or dangerous moves. -2 are extremely dangerous moves. Whenever a wrestler wants to make a move, the GM lets them know how difficult it will be and applies the penalty to their roll, in addition to the proper stat for the move. The more difficult the move, the more rewards you can get from it. Succeeding a difficult move (-1 or -2) gives you a bonus +1 Momentum in addition to the move's results. In addition, for every -2 difficult move you do, you gain a +1 bonus to your finisher.

I feel with this method, it does reign back the amount of successes that you normally see, but, you still get good rewards for completing a difficult or dangerous move. And even though doing difficult moves can get you more Momentum, with the difficulty system in place, you will be using that momentum more often. So it should balance out. 

The major flaw is still that a player can narrate themselves to play it safe. I considered the following move:

BORING! BORING!: You're putting the crowd to sleep with your amateur moves. Whenever a player does two or more consecutive safe moves, they lose 1 Momentum per safe move. If they have no more Momentum after doing a consecutive safe move, the opponent gets a Momentum instead.

Hopefully not too hamfisted. I'm unsure and would like to see what others' take on these rules are.I personally prefer a slower W3RPG game, so with this and slowing down advancements some, I think it's the kind of game I'd like. This game is still good and I recommend playing it, but I think with some DIY hacks and good ol' fashion OSR spirit, I can make the game more to my liking.

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