google-site-verification: googlee8ae134d89e446c0.html Playing Hero World: Intergalactic Lucha Libre League - Post Mortem

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Intergalactic Lucha Libre League - Post Mortem

I would like to reflect on the effort, the problems and the solutions done along the year-long project “Intergalactic Lucha Libre League”.
And with that, get ready for 2018 and the future of ‘Playing Hero World’ looking towards an independent publication sky.
ILLL will see a physical release very soon, too. So I best keep my memory fresh, no?




What is “Intergalactic Lucha Libre League”?
‘ILLL’ or “Intergalactic Lucha Libre League” is an RPG - A Roleplaying game. And within that ken, it’s a game that tries to simulate and emulate certain wrestling concepts - you know that ‘sports entertainment’ type of gig with colorful and exaggerated characters. And while the weird world of wrestling was the main inspiration, elements of the superhero genre, in particular, those found in Ultimate Muscle (M.U.S.C.L.E. AKA “Kinnikuman”), Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation and “Tiger Mask”. On top of all that, the game is an homage/parody/celebration to Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. A game that I love, however, I found the combat of that game kinda boring and simple.



So the elements of this ‘gaming salad’ where: “A game that simulates wrestling, however with superhero elements and that makes D&D fifth edition combat more interesting”.

The first attempt of unifying ‘wrestling’ and RPG coming from me happened 10 years ago, in 2007 when I tried to add some extra spice to a Mutants & Mastermind adventure by adding an Audience mechanic as well some Finishing Moves rules. The players got really excited because the way they approached said combats was different. Suddenly it was not good enough just to win, since every move had a reaction, and acquiring it gave them fame, created memorable scenes and the like.

The reason why I used wrestling back in 2007 and then in 2017 is still the same one: I wanted to share things that have touched me, made me care, made my smile, and that made me had fun to other people. My RPG group didn’t really care or knew about wrestling, so creating an RPG game about it was my way to introduce it to them.

And D&D’s fifth edition would be perfect to revisit that idea because it’s combat system is actually quite simple meaning that building an “audience/fame” system on top of its basic structure wouldn’t be overbearing.

It took 6 months working around two to four hours a day to create all the alien races, classes and extra gameplay to the D&D 5e chassis, plus two months of intense playtesting. However, the game only came out around four months afterward on Drivethru RPG. What happened there?

The bumps in the road
Since it was our first RPG project, we had no idea what to do. Or what we should do.
Rules were ready on time and they were playtested, altered, made better. We were sure our game was fun since our playtesters really enjoyed it and the problems and large kinks with the system were easily fixed (one of said problems was how unbalanced the Technician class was at one point, hopefully, we fixed it just in time for release).
However, an RPG book is much more than just its rules.

Mussels, a joke created by a Norwegian playtester


The concept of the game as well the art is what makes the book.
I assumed people are not interested in a “D&D Parody with similar but expanded Fifth edition combat where we re-contextualize the flow of actions, making it more strategic and important”. That concept is hard to sell. But “RPG game where you are an Alien Luchador” is much easier to understand and care for.
Thus, art to represent said concept is necessary to attract the attention of the audience. It showcases to them what can they play, what they can incorporate. It sells the idea of the game almost instantly.

Muscle-Elves, a hot take on the multi-flavored type of elves on your D&D

Right after the playtesting was done, this was when I contacted Tiago Silvério (From Onyx Path fame) and Daniele Cruz (Making her RPG illustrator debut).
This was the biggest mistake of the project: Contacting artists after the project had already started.

This isn’t knock on their hard work or anything like that, however the decision of bringing artists on board so late made the project suffer many delays until we finally had a final product done.
You can read more about the artists individual experiences right here.

While it was a real problem and the project was heavily delayed by the decision of seeing art as an after thought, I was glad to push for art. For the result speaks for itself. It’s a whole different experience to see your own work fully realized with artwork illustrating the weird world and rules you came up with.
In the same vein, taking the project to a local RPG Convention and see people interacting with each other, thinking about the game and having fun with the project made me fully understand the real power and joy of creating an RPG game. And it was there where I saw the power of art, it drew people in. People were especially curious about the Muscle-Elves.

The Earth Humans were Daniele Cruz favorite piece to work on

It is a circle of interaction that you build, where rules, images, and concepts are tools for the group to solve problems together. The Player vs. Player factor from ILLL was further explored on my second visit to the event, and the players locked in competition would willingly enter said “Gaming Circle”, the rules limited and offered them options - The fun came in subverting the rules, putting your foe in bad situations and a truckload of good-spirited trash talk in character.

This is my favorite internal art. It was made in just a few hours, the quickest piece of art from the project
Submitting themselves under rules brought them the experience of being a space wrestler, brought them a fun time.
Now if there is a lesson to be taken here is one I uncovered by stumbling over it.
That lesson is that even before creating a set of rules to properly convey whatever is what you are trying to convey as a designer, to be fully aware of this “Game Circle” and to create ways of presenting, selling, and making sure that circle is as interesting as possible. I say this because on the first time I presented ILLL to a non-playtester public, once they entered said circle they were ‘on’.

 They were cutting promos like the Macho Man.

They were slamming bad guys and then using their unconscious bodies like clubs (An actual rule in the system, might I add!).
They were posturing showcasing their non-existent muscles to convey the bodybuilding poses their space muscle men were doing.
Once you got them in the circle, make sure the circle works and you got yourself an RPG game that is worth revisiting.

This whole project was a way to see if I had what it takes to properly create RPG games, games that people can have fun with. And I mark that experiment as a success.

So what the future holds for ILLL?
Right now? Back to hibernation.
There are so many things I wish to do with ILLL, like fully realize the Solar Championship Circuit, adding 5 new races and 5 new planets as well 5 new classes. However, in spite of turning a (small) profit with ILLL, the funds of realizing a physical book, fully illustrated and realized would require a Kickstarter like funding process.
But neither my name nor my brand is well known enough for a Deluxe ILLL to take form. Yet. And honestly? I learned much from ILLL. It's my White Whale. The one game I wish to make it perfect. But the current ILLL is not perfect. Far from it. I learned from it. However, I need distance, I need to learn new things...I am like a Young Lion who is about to go on an excursion to CMLL to learn more about my craft, in a reference only the wrestling fans will truly understand.

The concept of the “Game Circle” and just how delicious was to see it in action and just how people are willing to play by the rules even when they are confronting themselves in an RPG-like story based game gave me many things to think about. I wish to consciously explore these concepts instead of just accidentally bumping into them.

The 2018 project will come out in both English and Portuguese in a simultaneous release. And we are going to broadcast over the internet whenever we have some new interesting mechanic or piece of artwork to showcase.

“Who likes submitting themselves under a system of rules anyway?”

See you in 2018.