Ego Check: Nathan Paoletta, Creator of World Wide Wrestling RPG

Nathan Paoletta
Nathan Paoletta

When I first learned about the World Wide Wrestling RPG, I questioned, “Damn, why didn’t I think of that?” The game takes elements of professional wrestling and turns them into an organized, functional, highly entertaining tabletop roleplaying game. I previously shared my initial impressions from playing the game, and posted a template for a recap of our wrestling promotion’s episode. Below, I interviewed the game’ creater, Nathan Peoletta. He was kind enough to discuss the aftermath of his successful Kickstarter campaign that brought WWWRPG to life. We explore how the game compares to traditional tabletop offerings such as Dungeons & Dragons, and delve into how he addresses the darker elements of professional wrestling within the game.  Please enjoy the interview below, consider visiting his Patreon, and certainly try at least one session of WWWRPG!

Now that World Wide Wrestling RPG has been able to breath for a few months, what does it feel like to have the project completed?

It feels really good! The response to the game has been great so far, both in terms of play activity and sales. The community that has grown up around it – centered in the Google+ community I run, but also including general conversations on Twitter and other platforms – has been incredibly gratifying. I obviously am happy that people are playing the game, but it is a testament to the strength of the design itself that the game experiences seem to be generally positive, and that multiple people in the community are emerging as rules experts without me having to use the “designer voice of authority” very often. I think every designer is nervous about their design not actually communicating to their audience, and having tangible evidence to the contrary is probably the best part on the pure creative level.

Another worry was that the Kickstarter would be the peak in terms of reaching an audience. Thankfully players have been doing a great job of spreading the word about it since the public release. It is fantastic that people are finding the game post-Kickstarter, that people are signing up to play at conventions, running games online for their non-gamer wrestling friends, and all of that. So far I’m counting the entire experience as a success!

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Never Forget the Action

The first foray into offering suggestions for improving the experience of playing roleplaying games came years ago when I detailed how to create an in-world newsletter to summarize important events and characters in an ongoing campaign. Before that time, I took on the responsibility of summarizing the events in my group’s D&D campaign, which turned into a lengthy document that spanned many months of gaming sessions. In general, I believe externalizing and recording the actions during a session is important so everyone involved can easily have cues to remember things when it is time for the next session, which may not take place for days, weeks, or even months. The most recent campaign I started was with the World Wide Wrestling RPG, which has so far been a delightful experience. Below I offer a template to recap the events that take place during a play session of WWW RPG.

Approximately 15 years ago, I met Wade Keller, the creator of Pro Wrestling Torch, which has been operating for over 25 years and now features daily podcasts in addition to a website updated around the clock with new content. Before learning publications like Pro Wrestling Torch existed, I was a wrestling fan that did not have any insight into the business other than enjoying the entertainment it provided. Professional wrestling features ongoing news and drama based on political issues, injuries, scandals, and speculation about how recent events behind the scenes will affect the future direction of a promotion. Having consumed content from Pro Wrestling Torch (off and on) for 15 years, I am now familiar with how the industry is covered and reported. I borrowed heavily from the coverage style of live wrestling events like James Caldwell’s recap of World Wrestling Entertainment’s most recent pay-per view, Money In the Bank.

I created the following recap almost a week after the first gaming session with the World Wide Wrestling RPG. During the session, I jotted down some notes to remind me of key events, and several of the players tweeted about moments during the game – so I was able to refer to that as well when writing the recap. Ideally, the recap would have been written closer to the conclusion of the gaming session to ensure nothing significant is forgotten. On the other hand, waiting a few days can provide interesting additional context for a recap. One suggestion is to have the recap be a rotating responsibility in the gaming group, so players take turns writing a recap after the event. I asked players in an online D&D campaign to rotate writing session summaries last year, and that worked quite well.

Enjoy the recap of the first episode of the Midwest Wrestling Alliance! A MS Word version of the recap is also available if that would help as a template.

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Get Inside the Squared Circle

WWW RPGWorld Wide Wrestling RPG is a new game that allows a group of players to create their own professional wrestling promotion and live out their dreams as larger-than-life characters in and out of the ring. The game is a must for any tabletop RPG enthusiast that also happens to have a soft spot for professional wrestling; however, the game can be readily consumed by players that do not know the difference between a suplex and DDT. I previously presented how borrowing the drama of professional wrestling can be used to enhance roleplaying games. World Wide Wrestling RPG is nothing but the drama and action of professional wrestling.

I played the game for the first time last week, and it was a fantastic session. I am also in the process of interviewing WWW RPG’s creator, Nathan D. Paoletta, which should post within the next couple of weeks. My goal with this post is to briefly explain how the game works, and then present a number of suggestions based on my experiences running a session.

Professional Wrestling is Roleplaying

Professional wrestling presents a fictional world to an audience to consume. That world features heroes (babyfaces) and villains (heels) with many shades of grey in between. The plot for the audience is scripted by a creative team to maximize the audience reaction to events that take place in the fictional world. The heroes battle the villains, and there are many complications along the way. The wrestlers do combat in (and sometimes outside) of the ring to determine who wins and who loses. Whenever one villain is defeated, he or she finds a way to come back again – or a new foe takes center stage. The hero’s work is never truly done as there is always a new challenge to overcome. Sound like a familiar premise for a roleplaying game?

Players create different types of wrestlers instead of adventurers. Players roll dice to determine the success of wrestling moves and other activities to increase the popularity of his or her wrestler. When a player’s wrestler gain enough popularity, the wrestler is allowed to level up (called Advance in WWW RPG) to learn new skills or strengthen an existing statistic. The GM (referred to as Creative in WWW RPG) orchestrates the session by introducing non-playable wrestlers (NPWs) and other personalities to set events in motion. Other world-building activities required of Creative are detailed below.

Continue reading “Get Inside the Squared Circle”