by Tobie Abad
Inspired by anime such as Beyblade and Slam Dunk.
I'm no sports fan. God knows the only sports I really got into were Tennis, Swimming and at some point, riding the Bicycle (but man, I did enjoy the camping stint when we did our Bivouac for our Citizens Advancement Training in High School). I recently have been getting more of my office mates into table top role-playing games and one of them made an interesting request: If I can host a game based or inspired by anime such as Air Gear and Slam Dunk. This was after our Cooking Master Boy inspired romp using the Big Eyes, Small Mouth system.
At first I was tempted to say I couldn't. I just didn't think that sports was something I could make more interesting or exciting. Then I took a step back and gave it some days of thought. And that's when I realized that I quite frankly knew as little about martial arts as I did about basketball. I knew just as much television and fiction-based knowledge of the medieval era as I did about tennis and wrestling. If I had no issues with using codified clearly fictional moves and actions to reflect martial arts strikes and magically enhanced defenses, why should running a game where there can be five different systems that enhance one's free throw be any different?
I can run Sports-inspired high action role-playing games!
I just had to replace the concept of fighting with the sport-related activity I wanted to simulate. For simplicity sake, I've decided to gather my thoughts in this blog post. While in no means a fully-fleshed out game system, this should give some ideas on what I had in mind if I were to make a sports-inspired game.
Among all the physical attributes that are important in sports, I decided to peg Stamina is the most important one. While you cannot win a game through Stamina alone, without Stamina even the best player would have to stop and sit out the rest of the game very quickly. Stamina, therefore is the key stat for all rolls in a sports game. Everything is affected and reflective of one's Stamina.
Your Stamina rating is based on how well-trained your character is to handle sports in the game. Starting athletes would have this rating at three. Non-sports people would only have it at one, and rarer still at two. The best in the world would have it at five. And if you go metaphysical, the God of Athletes would have this at eight. (Why not nine or then? I just like the number eight.)
However, EACH ROLL MADE DEPLETES YOUR STAMINA BY ONE and this only resets back to full once either a team Scores a point, or the ball Switches Control.
The Four Key Traits
Flexibility is a key Trait in sports. Whether it means being able to move and adjust on the fly, or bounce back quickly from impact and missteps, flexibility can be the difference between getting a bad sprain or catching yourself and being able to stay running on the field. Flexibility, to oversimplify things, is the "reacting value"
Power dictates how far your kick launches the ball, or how forceful the swing arcs the bat and so forth. Power tends to be the "acting" value. Depending on the sport, Power can be opposed by either Flexibility or Focus.
The mantra, "Be the ball" was popularized by the movie CaddyShack, but in many ways does capture one of the philosophies of sports: To see the sports tools as extensions of oneself. And so, proper Focus can allow you amazing moves if not defenses while in the game. Focus can be "acting" or "reacting" but never both at the same time.
This is the final key Trait, and in many ways, this is useless without the first three. But without it, the first three will never be able to direct the actions to hit the exact target. Any brute can swing a bat strong enough to launch something into the air. It takes Precision to launch it to strike the target far away. Precision is the "effect" trait.
Each turn, the two competitors have an Active and Reactive dice pool. The player with the advantage in the situation (usually the ball is in his hand) gets to choose to Attempt to Score, or keep defensive and Maintain Control. The player opposing the acting player can only choose Active actions that attempt to Steal the Ball. The defender however can use any Reactive option available.
Active: Attempt to Score
The player rolls Stamina + Power or Stamina + Focus but the dice pool is reduced by the Opposing player's Flexibility or Focus. With the remaining dice, the player rolls and for each die that comes out 10-Precision, the ball has the chance of scoring.
Steal the Ball
If the roll failed, the Opposing player rolls Stamina + Power of Stamina + Focus (but only if Focus was not used in the first roll), to try to take the ball. The Acting player can use Stamina + Flexibility or Focus (but only if Focus was not used in the first roll) to try to counter the Steal. The higher successes (more dice of equal to or higher than 10-Precision) wins. If the Steal succeeds, the Opposing now becomes the Acting player.
Chance? Why chance if the Acting roll succeeds?
Because the defending player can opt to lose his Active action to attempt a second Reactive defense. This forces the acting player to roll again, but with extra dice equal to the number of dice that came out equal to or higher his 10-Precision. The roll, however is this time penalized by the Opposing player's Stamina + Flexibility (or Stamina + Focus) depending on what was not used earlier.
If the second roll still succeeds (or if the defender did not opt to lose his Active action), the player scores a point.
So as you can see, the game favors Defense in the sense that the game will have many turn arounds before scores are made.
Moving Across the Court:
After each successful shot, roll a ten-sided die and divide the result by 2, rounded up to determine how many Maintain Control rolls are needed to bring the ball from one side of the Court to another.
If the Acting player opts to just maintain Control, he does not attempt to score, but can counter the Opposing Active rolls to Steal the Ball with Stamina + Focus + Flexibility.
Passing the Ball:The Acting player can pass the ball to his teammates to cover more distance faster. Each successful pass moves the ball closer to the hoop. Passing requires an Action roll of Power + Focus or Power + Flexibility. Passing does not consume Stamina, but has a greater chance of being Intercepted.
Intercepting a Ball:
The Opposing player can roll Flexibility + Focus to intercept a passed ball. If the ball was not passed, Steal the Ball must be used.
To reflect the genre of Sports-inspired anime shows, here are a few ideas I had in mind. Activating them does not cost anything, BUT the player must stand up, do an anime-appropriate sports pose, then yell out the move's name!
Aura Focused Super Dunk SHOT!
With a charged up aura, you fly into the air and slam the ball through the hoop while you hover above the basketball court for a full five seconds. The sun blinds everyone else who watches you as it shimmers from behind you like a smiling face. (Must use Focus for your Active, Doubles your effective Active rating)
Tsunami Wall Halts The Crashing Score... with Sadness!
You howl as you extend your arms to block the incoming shot. Your opponent briefly recalls the saddest moment of his life as your hand slams the ball away and blocks the shot! (Must use Focus as your Active, Doubles your effective Defense rating)
Revenge is a Must!
The ball is in your hands. It wasn't before, but destiny demands it so. (Defense option. You ignore your opponent's Active and steal the ball automatically from his hands. Can only be used after the opponent has successfully scored.)
The Heart of the Team
The ball is passed around among your team mates and cannot be intercepted. However, you cannot engage in an Active option until you break into dialogue with the enemy first to boast on your team efforts. This does NOT consume Stamina.
Once per game, a player can declare a shot a successful shot. However, he starts the next turn at Stamina - 2 due to exhaustion.
Either player can risk a Foul to have a greater chance at succeeding at an action. The player, whether Acting or Opposing, can add an extra die to the roll. By doing so, there is a chance of the action being noticed and a foul being called. When this is done, Special Moves CANNOT be used. If the ten-sided die comes out even, the results of the roll are reflected to the dice roll as normal (success if equal or above 10-Precision).
If the die comes out odd, the foul is called out and the appropriate punishment is meted.
So there you go. I know it ain't a polished system, but it kinda seems to work for me if I wanted to run a Sports-related game. Maybe I can write up versions of this system for other sports in time. Lemme know if you like it!