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The Regulated Association of Survival Sports Leagues
A Bloody Good Time
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R.A.S.S.L.'s original corporate masters were quite clever in their designs.  Time and again, the organization has come under fire for their assertive copyright infringement claims.  As most defendants have argued favorably, R.A.S.S.L. comprises a vast array of sports - pretty much all sports, in fact - and they should not be allowed to maintain a monopoly on all sporting forms and events.

R.A.S.S.L. points to R.A.M. as evidence they do not hold a monopoly.  However the truth to that story is a little more sordid: R.A.S.S.L. did try incorporating inline skating as an event - very practically, a rollerderby event - but R.A.M. did not fight them in court.  Instead, the company appealed to their many sponsors, who refused to sponsor the R.A.S.S.L. event, forcing the corporation to drop the idea.
R.A.S.S.L. allows just about every known sport in their competitions, but only wrestling is an individual focus.  They do not, for example, feature outright baseball games or American football matches; these sports are incorporated into  "RASSLing Matches," which are often lengthy tests of endurance, muscle, and even strategy and skill, involving many sports.  Of course, they are all bloodier and more aggressive and confrontational than the games upon which they are based.

R.A.S.S.L. has an overall higher mortality rate than even Deathrace, but - contrary to what some have suggested - there are no official "death matches" or regulated fights to the death.  R.A.S.S.L. and individual RASSLers have been accused of murder, though; there have been three, separate trials involving R.A.S.S.L. athletes and officials who were accused of using events to stage murders.  One ended in a conviction, thanks to taped conversations which "surfaced" in the media while the trial was underway.

All three were massive media events which even R.A.S.S.L. cashed-in on. While even some RASSLers admit this was an all-time low-point in the sport, RASSL is considered "low-brow" entertainment, and they celebrate that. Critics rightfully assert that RASSL consistently appeals to the lowest common denominator and has no redeeming social value. However, RASSL officials and some sociologists and psychologists say the entertainment it brings fans and viewers outweighs any negative social impact it may have - after all, even the LCD to whom it appeals knows it is entertainment.

But RASSL does blur that line, like all good "reality" TV. As mentioned above, deaths have (and do) occur, real relationships are involved, and accidents do happen. More than once, a RASSLer has allowed personal issues to cloud his judgement, while others have simply gotten caught-up in the heat of the moment, their high emotional state leading to bad decisions.

The RASSL programs are very exciting, very entertaining - if you can stand the violence - but make no mistake, the events are highly choreographed and planned in advance. There is a lot of improvisation - the combatants basically choreograph their matches right before them without practicing - but major events, especially those which include the risk of death, are highly stylized and carefully refereed.
Political in-fighting, backstabbing, ultraviolent "deathmatches" - all things considered, being a Rassler is still one of the top careers to which any Dark Conspiracy athlete can aspire.

First off, there's the chicks. The R.A.S.S.L. Divas are among the most beautiful athletes/models in the world, and Rasslers are usually the first to date them, thanks to close proximity. Sure, both Rasslers and Divas are regularly linked to other celebrities, Politicos, Corporate Bigwigs, and major players (and more than a few have settled-down with your Average Joe or Jane), but like other professionals, Rasslers and Divas tend to find they have more in common with one another than outsiders - while it may begin with their job, it often goes deeper - after all, a certain type of person is drawn to R.A.S.S.L.

Then there's the money. Even R.A.S.S.L.'s clever corporate cutthroats know that getting promising professional athletes to risk life and limb requires a significant financial incentive. Aside from promotional and marketing concerns, this accounts for the brunt of R.A.S.S.L.'s budget - safety concerns are a distant... well, they're distant.

Last - but nowhere near least - is the fame. Fame is probably the biggest draw for most professional Rasslers and Divas - athletics is just the means to that end. And RASSLers are pretty much the apex of celebrity in and around Metrodome, as well as across the nation - in some cases, even the world! The Power Hour, and many of the other programs, is broadcast nationwide and draws many major celebrities from other industries (music, scripted television, reality TV stars, movie stars, etc.) - it is major exposure. This is why the industry is so competitive.

There are thousands of Rasslers, and hundreds on the roster at any one time, though only a few dozen "A-Listers." These top Rasslers are those who appear on the weekly programs and participate in the ongoing storylines. To become an A-Lister, you must develop an alter-ego, or on-air persona, which connects with the audience. This is not to be confused with your game character, which is the person you are portraying in the game. While several have made it to the A-List based on the strength of their athletics alone, they are truly the top 1% in the world - competition is fierce - and this is why there is a minimum
CHA required to even be considered for the job; it is almost impossible to make it this far without some entertainment capabilities.

Though a Rassler needs to be of the highest quality, athletically speaking, they also need a certain amount of charisma and acting chops; entertaining is as important to the sport as competing, itself.

So what does it take to become a Rassler?
  1. At least one term as Athlete
  2. Unarmed Melee Combat of 5+ (see Cascade Skills, p. 18)
  3. Act/Bluff (any level)
  4. CHA 4+
As PCs, you have the inside track; you are already being considered for inclusion in the A-List, though you are not necessarily on TV just yet. The A-Listers are not just those who are best, but those who best serve the needs of the company and appeal to viewers at the time; while hundreds' athletic prowess make them perfect candidates for TV exposure, their on-air personas are either lacking or just not what the viewing audience cares to see at that time (fads and trends, etc.) and/or what the writers can work with. Don't let this be your problem!

As a Rassler, make sure you develop an on-air persona keyed to your character's strengths, weaknesses, and background. Develop on-air alliances and grudges with NPCs and (hopefully) other PCs and work with them to give the writing staff material with which to work. If you have any writers as PCs, this can be a great campaign - one that doesn't even necessarily involve direct Minion Activity - but if you don't, make sure to work with the GM in this (and other) regard(s) to make his work that much easier - and the game more fun for the entire troupe.
R.A.S.S.L. stands for the Regulated Association of Survival Sports Leagues. R.A.S.S.L. includes many sporting events, and is adding more all the time.

Early in its inception, pro-wrestling demos included a range of athletic activities focusing on combat and survival. Competitors faced deadly obstacle courses, ran foot races, even faced-off with paintball guns.
The hand-to-hand combat demos were far and away the most popular, leading to today's incarnation of the league, which features wrestling/melee matches and almost entirely excludes the other competitions.  Occasionally, other games come into play - particularly in recruitment demos and when one wrestler challenges another to a series of competitions - which can include everything from fighting animals to the death (of the animal - referees will stop the fight if the wrestler is seriously injured or cannot go on... if they are able to in time!) to auto duels.

In fact, though pro-wrestling is R.A.S.S.L.'s biggest draw, the organization also runs the various auto-based demos so popular in the outlying areas.  These include moto-X races, auto derby, and the Deathrace (which is a huge cultural event in and of itself and only happens once per year).
The Power Hour
R.A.S.S.L. actually runs several hours at various times throughout the week (there are no fewer than 11 R.A.S.S.L.-affiliated TV programs, not including specials, that run every week), but their flagship program is the primetime blowout, The Power Hour. A pop-cultural keystone, The Power Hour has been running for 25 consecutive years and has launched the careers of countless celebrities - not just athletic celebrities, either. Far more than just a sports show, The Power Hour is actually a variety show, featuring live musical performances, celebrity cameos and guest-appearances, sporting news, and (of course) the survival matches of R.A.S.S.L. and their ongoing, soap-operatic storyline tie-ins.

There are actually thousands of Rasslers in training at any given time and hundreds on the active "roster." These hundreds appear and perform at live events and most are ready to stand-in for the A-Listers, if necessary.

The A-Listers are the two-dozen or so Rasslers and Divas who are actively engaged in the ongoing storylines and appear on the weekly TV shows. R.A.S.S.L. focuses on two dozen or so popular personas, each with their own storylines that play-out every week on the various programs. If one gets hurt or otherwise cannot appear, they simply lengthen another's appearance, or switch to one of the alternates, waiting in the wings. Many lesser-known Rasslers got their start this way.

Between the musical acts, storylines, and various sporting events, R.A.S.S.L. easily manages to provide 14+ hours of TV every week. It is obviously one of the most powerful and well-known entertainment corporations in the world, and certainly within Metrodome, itself.
So You Want to be a RASSLer...
The Unarmed Melee Combat Expansion Set
The Regulated Association of Survival Sports Leagues relies on two expansions to the current, 1st-Ed. Dark Conspiracy rules set:
  1. The Sport Skill
  2. This Unarmed Melee Combat Expansion
Melee Combat is a Cascade Skill (p. 18), including both Armed and Unarmed Melee Combat (UMC). To use this expansion, the character must be Specialized in Unarmed Melee Combat.

Two things should be noted at the outset:
  1. Characters using UMC as detailed in this Expansion do not need Sport, but Special Move requires the character possess Acrobatics. He need not possess it at any specified level, but must obviously have at least a 1 in the skill.
  2. Characters using their UMC in conjunction with a sporting match or event use Sport instead of UMC to test, but use it much the same way; the Melee Combat Skill is literally replaced by the Sport Skill for testing purposes, as explained in the article contained in ProtoDimension Magazine #x. This is true regardless of whether or not this Expansion is in play.

Normally, the full UMC skill is tested whenever the character engages in hand-to-hand combat - including Blocking. However, with this expansion, the character will count each level of his UMC as a single "point" which he can then spend to modify his hand-to-hand attacks according to the guidelines provided in the UMC Table to the right, lowering his UMC score for the rest of the turn by the amount he spends.

The number of points spent modifying the attack are subtracted from the character's total
UMC score for the rest of the turn. He tests using this lowered score in every Phase in which he acts until the next turn, including Blocks. However, the modified effects of each attack are only applicable for the Phase in which that attack is launched. His UMC is reset to the original score at the beginning of the next turn.

So, if your character has a 4
Init (and acts on Phases 4, 3, 2, and 1), and you choose to try an AP Strike on Phase 4, your character's UMC is lowered by 2 for all of the following Phases until the next turn - even though his attack in Phase 4 is the only one that is AP, regardless of how many other attacks he makes that turn. If he chooses to try another maneuver during that turn, his UMC is further lowered for the remaining phases in which he acts; the costs of the attacks mods are cumulative, though the effects are not. The lowered UMC score is used for for Blocking, as well as attacking, until the next turn.

If the attack fails, it fails as normal, but the character's
UMC remains lowered until the following turn - unless a Special Move was attempted. If a Special Move fails, the character automatically Fumbles (unless he has Luck; characters with Luck fail as normal [note this may still result in a Fumble]). This only applies to Special Move; if the character successfully performs a Special Move in one phase, then fails an attack or block in another that same turn, he fails as normal (which, again, can still result in a Fumble).

The character need not expend any of his
UMC to modify the attack if he does not wish to; he can attack at "full-strength" with no change to his UMC or its outcome. The UMC rolls are handled normally, as detailed in the rulesbook.
The Haymaker
The Haymaker is the one, final "Special Move" any Unarmed Melee Combat specialist can attempt:

In exchange for the loss of one (1) action - the Phase 2 action - the character can attempt a Haymaker. If successful, the attack (a strike - either a kick or punch) lands on Phase 1 and causes 11/2 normal damage (
MC x 11/2 or 150%). An Outstanding Success results in 3x (MC) normal damage.

The action sacrificed must be that of Phase 2; the character cannot sacrifice an action from another Phase in order to "save" the action needed for a Haymaker. Once the character announces he is attempting a Haymaker (on Phase 2), he is considered to be in motion. If he is attacked on Phase 2 - before or after he announces his attempt - the Haymaker is disrupted and both Phases are forfeit.

He is considered to be in motion throughout the entirety of these two phases - whether "winding-up," landing the actual blow, or "following-through." The character cannot Block (p. 78) any attacks on Phases 2 or 1 - even after the Haymaker maneuver "goes off." He is in motion throughout both Phases 2 and 1.

Obviously, one would not attempt a Haymaker following an attack in Phase 2, though there may be cases where this is still allowed (such as when the intended attacker is dispatched before he can attack or the attack misses completely/fumbles). Since the maneuver is interrupted if the character is successfully attacked in Phase 2 or 1, the player may decide to go ahead and Block any attempted attack - but this means aborting the Haymaker maneuver. If the move is aborted, the character loses no actions (and can therefore act in both Phases 2 and 1).

A Haymaker automatically hits the Head of the target. Again, if the Haymaker is interrupted, both Phases' actions are forfeit. If the character has modified his attack in a previous phase, he can still forfeit his Phase 2 action to perform a Haymaker at the lowered value. Haymaker does not "cost"
UMC points as other Maneuvers.
CostManeuverNotes
2AP/Penetrating StrikeAs Armed Melee
1Choose Hit Location-
1Delayed ReleaseApply at start of Phase 1
2Flurry of Jabsd3 Strikes at 1/2 dmg.
1Impress/IntimidateVictims roll Panic
2InitiativeGet additional action, one Phase earlier
2Special MoveBoost comrades' morale +1 WPR
Unamred Melee Combat Table
  • AP/Penetrating Strike: The strike's damage is handled as though it were an Armed Melee Attack (p. 81).
  • Delayed Release: The outcome of the attack is determined as normal, but not applied until Phase 1. At Phase 1, the outcome is applied at the very start (before anything else is determined).
  • Hit Location: If successful, the attacker chooses the Hit Location attacked.
  • Flurry of Jabs: d3 "jabs" are landed, each doing 1/2 normal damage (p. 81).
  • Impress/Intimidate: The attack is meant to inspire fear in the victim. If successful, damage is handled normally, but the victim also rolls WPR. If failed, he must test Panic (p. 77).
  • Initiative: Character acts in a Phase before his Initiative normally allows.
  • Special Move: This can be a "killer combo," the character's "Signature Move," or just an impressive "Finishing Move." The maneuver is so massive, it inspires awe in all of your comrades and those fighting on "your side," effectively boosting their Morale for the rest of the Encounter (+1 WPR).

A Brief History of RASSL
The first rule of R.A.S.S.L. was "there are no rules." The Regulated Association of Survival Sports Leagues began as a series of "fight clubs," urban basketball ("streetball") teams, and other small, relatively unorganized, and largely grassroots teams and leagues. Many were formed by neighborhood athletes who had no higher aspirations than enjoying themselves. Almost none had referees and not everyone knew the actual rules so the games were often harried and violent. Along the way, many technical rules were lost; while the versions of known games played in the Dark Conspiracy world would be easily recognizable, they are not the same (and this would quickly become apparent).

Pro-wrestling was still around, though its popularity had waned to its nadir. It had long since merged with the bare-knuckled brutality of mixed martial-arts "ultimate fighting," which had completely replaced boxing in all its forms. It had become increasingly more violent and outlandish as it died, leading to the deaths of several of its stars and the early departure of many more. It lost its TV contracts; local events were all it could support - and they certainly weren't held in large arenas. The once gigantic empire had become a rag-tag band of veterans and young hopefuls, and the company was passed from owner to owner until it finally ceased to exist.

"Backyard wrestling" or "fight clubs" had been growing in popularity for years, spurred-on by bar-sponsored "fight nights" and organized parking lot parties, featuring impromptu fights between drunken revelers for prize money pooled from the door take or collected on sidebets. The pro-wrestlers and "ultimate fighters" soon infiltrated the scene, dominating it in many cases, and brought with them the flair and ostentatiousness for which their sport is known. Suddenly, the fight clubs which rarely consisted of anyone other than those involved began drawing huge crowds. Organizers soon had more to do than just pass out fliers and tell friends, and the prize pool was larger than the cost of a night's drinks plus cab fare.

Of course, not everyone appreciated the prize fighters - nor the act of prize-fighting, itself. Time and again, these "fight nights" turned into "foot race night" or "streetball night." It largely depended on the crowd, how much they'd had to drink, and so on. Often, one combatant would lose, only to find out the winner was a former championship ring-fighter; angered, he would challenge him to a different sport, often with taunts as to his "real" athleticism. Over time, any sport became fair game and pretty much every sport that could be played as "pick-up" games were incorporated into challenges. It was around this time that Rollerderby became the premiere sport and sporting event in Metrodome, though R.A.M. was in its infancy.

Friendships were made, alliances formed, and grudges borne. Teams and prize-fighting outfits grew from these, or were recruited and organized by self-made "managers," looking to tour the bars and clubs, collecting the prizes night after night. Increasingly, hustlers looking to make their nut and athletes of professional quality with no other outlets made their way into these games, which became bigger draws. The clubs and bars invested money into staging arenas to support them, and eager, young executives of the entertainment corporations began taking note.

Now, The Regulated Association of Survival Sports Leagues is a corporation unto itself - one of the largest in Metrodome.
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