King of Fighters Introduction
In 1994, several great fighters from around the world recieved an invitation to compete in a special 3 man tournament, to determine who was 'the King of Fighters'. The wining team would receive... A fight with Rugal Bernstein! Okay, maybe that's not what the invitation said, but that's what happened. And every year after that, the greatest teams from around the world kept receiving these letters, always from a mysterious source, again inviting them to the same mysterious tournament. The original tournaments were held for Rugal's personnal pleasure, mainly to find him a team worthy to fight. (Only the team that won ever found out about this.) As the years went by, Rugal was eventually defeated, & different forces stepped up to keep the KoF tournament alive. In 1996, the tournament was held to find someone strong enough to put Goenitz back in his cage. (Again, only the winning team ever found out the 'true' purpose of the tournament.) Each year, more & more teams were invited to the tournament, to the point now where it's open to any team that wishes to enter. By now, it is well known throughout the underworld as the annual fight where each country shows off who has the toughest fighters. The secret plot(s) behind the tournament are known only to a very select few, and even they don't always know what is really going on.
King of Fighters Basics
Okay, a King of Fighters tournament is composed of 3 man teams fighting each other in one on one fights, only the winner doesn't get to sit down after he wins. Instead, he stays in the ring & fights the next opponent on the opposing team. The tournaments are typically single elimiation. The winning team advances, & the losing team, well, gets to put another quarter in the machine. Before the fight starts, each team choses their fighting order. Then the 1st fighter on each team enters the ring, & they fight a normal one on one fight. After that, the winner has 1 minute to rest, at which point the 2nd fighter from the losing team steps in the ring. From here on out, the cycle repeats, with the losing team puting their next fighter in the ring, until the last fighter on one team loses. So, it is possible for a KoF fight to end in 3, 4, or 5 rounds. It's actually fairly simple to run, but as in any RPG, players are excelent at bending the rules, so I've had to come up with some guidelines as to what does & does not count.
King of Fighters Tournament Registration
In my games, I play the KoF tournament as being a big anual tournament, which is started every spring, and generally finishes by mid-summer. Teams are required to furnish a roster of 3 fighters, as well as an arena that can be used to stage fights. They must also be able to furnish their own transportation to & from the fights, and have a phone number where they can be contacted. The arena doesn't have to be a great arena, simply something that the players can claim as their own & that will be safe from any local authorities. The local beach or even an empty back-alley can suffice (1 dot in the arena background, if you play with it). The average rank of the 3 fighters must be rank 5 or higher. This is simply to keep lower ranking fighters from getting hurt, so if a lower ranking team can get a higher ranking street fighter to vouch for them, the judges will allow lower ranking fighters to enter. Registering is easy enough, simply call the phone number & register. Finding out the phone number is actually the hardest part, as it isn't just given out to everybody. A competent manager or an underworld contact should be able to turn it up though.
Note: I understand that in KoF99, you now have a roster of 4 players, buy only 3 fight each time (select who sits out when you pick the team's fighting order). I really like this idea, so feel free to consider it. It adds the option for a character (or player) who can't fight that session, and you still have a team of 3 to fight with. The only rule to keep in mind here is that no character can be on more than one team's roster. That would be cheating... and no team would ever do that... well, no 'good' team anyway. hehe.
King of Fighters Tournament Brackets/Levels & Team Locations
The team name can be anything, but the teams are typically refered to by where their home arena is located. As the tournament progresses, the team name will often change to represent the larger region, which the team has effectively 'conquered'. For example, lets talk about Team Tiger, Team Wolf, & Team Green, all from Los Angeles. When the tournament starts, there are actually 3 different teams from L.A., each of them claiming part of L.A. as their own. Of the 3 L.A. teams, the highest ranking team gets a bye (Team Green), & the other two fight each other. The Team Tiger/Wolf fight will occur in one of their arenas. Since this will be the very 1st fight of the tournament, the arena is selected randomly. After that, every effort is made so that teams alternate between home & away fights. One team is always playing on their home turf in KoF, & one is always visiting. Only in very odd circumstances will a neutral arena be selected. Assuming Team Tiger beats Team Wolf, They will then advance & fight Team Green. If Team Tiger wins that as well, their team name will be changed to Team L.A., as they are the winning team emerging from L.A. This is known as city level. It's the first marking point in the KoF tournament. From here, the different city teams continue fighting with the other teams in the neighboring regions. The deffinition of region can be pretty broad, & varies from country to country. For example, in the US each state is a region. Again, assuming Team L.A. (Team Tiger) manages to beat every team it encounters, it will quickly advance & become Team California. This is known as the regional level. National level occurs when each country only has one team representing it. Team California (was Team L.A., was Team Tiger before that) changes their name to Team USA. The final level, which is usually refered to simply as 'the finals', starts when there are 32 teams left in the tournament. (This is where the KoF video games start, BTW).
So, for quick reference, the levels go:
Local -> City -> Regional -> National -> Final
King of Fighters Tournament Timeline
Okay, for those of you who are paying attention, you'll notice that China would take MUCH longer to get to the National level, than say, Belgium. Each country starts the tournament at different times. The date to start the Local fights is pretty easy to figure out, but I'll get to that in a second. First I need to talk about other timing issues. Typical fights are scheduled to happen inside 48 hour windows (AKA, the team has 2 days to get to their next fight), but some countries will run 24 hour windows for the local level. Regardless, each team will recieve a phone call, telling them where their next tournament will be, & what time they need to be there. If the team doesn't show up at the tournament spot on time (+/- 15 minutes), they forfeit. Now back to the 'when does each country start the tournament?' question. Well, start by saying that every country must reach the National level (only one team per country) by June 1st (any date will do, June 1st just fits my timelines nicely.) Now, figure out how many regions there are in the country in question, & build the bracket. Allow 48 hours for each bracket, & subtract that many days from June 1st. USA has 50 states, so it needs a 64-tier bracket. (Again, the hightest ranking teams get a 1st round bye). It will take 6 rounds of fighting for one team to emerge as the champion, so 6 multiplied by 2 days (48 hours) per fight equals 12 days. 12 days before June 1st would be May 20th. Now do the same calculation for the Region with the largest number of cities, & do the same calculation again for the City with the largest number of teams, & you have a starting date. Now, an important question arrises here. Obviously, each local level will require a different number of days to complete, so should you start them on different days? My answer is no, you should start each local level inside a country on the same day, & simply allow teams in sparse areas to finish levels early. It keeps a team from losing, & then moving to somewhere else where the tournament hasn't started yet & entering again. Plus it usually means that you've saved the 'best' for last. And it adds in some strategy as well. Do you really Los Angeles as your team's base of operations? If you chose a smaller city out in the foothills, you might not have to fight anyone to reach the city level, plus you would know alot more about the other city teams. You could even go & watch a few of their fights, if you can find out where the are...
King of Fighters Tournament Logistics
This is a really good place to point out where KoF gets it's funding & it's interest. Notice how each team fights other nearby areas, & when they win they get to change their name to represent the entire area. Much like they're conquering it? Every wonder exactly how Shadoloo decided which gang gets the good 'turf' and which gang gets the bad 'turf'. Hm... if only they had a tournament to decide which gang was the strongest, then they could give the strongest gangs the best areas, & the smaller gangs would get what was left. Well, gee, isn't KoF divided by regions? What a coincidence! Funny that! This of course opens up several oportunites for the PCs as well. Most gang members aren't rank 5+, which makes fielding a KoF team pretty difficult, but they'd be glad to sponsor one that could get them some more territory next year. It can also create some great (and/or confusing) role-playing, if the PC's don't quite understand exactly what is going on in the background. At the higher levels, I generally play it as rival factions inside shadoloo, again dividing up territory. If you play with more than one evil underground empire, this makes for a great way for them to divide up countries as well. Of course, nothing that's decided in KoF ever stands for more than a few months before the skirmishes start again, but hey, nothing is perfect. =)
King of Fighters Tournament - Ready! GO!
Okay, so it's about time I got the the actual knuckles and toes rules of the fight, right? Well, in general, there will be one or two officials from the KoF tournament there somewhere. The first one will introduce himself as the referee, & keep track of all the timing issues (He controls the clock, decides time-outs, stops blatant cheating, etc.). If there is more than one referee, the 'extra' ref will NOT introduce himself as anything other than a spectator. The critical thing is that he will call in which team wins to the KoF tournament board, as well as whether or not the fight was 'fair'. Both teams & the 'main' referee are also supposed to call in & report this information (same phone # as the registration #). The 'secret' referee's phone call is only a confirmation, and a win will not be granted on his phone call alone. A 'Fair' fight is very relative in KoF, as the rules change to whatever the house rules are for that particular arena. Again, there are exceptions, & some house rules will be changed to keep the fight 'fair'. Playing house music would be considered 'fair', even though it could give the home team a big advantage if they have musical accompianment. A rule that allowed your allies throw golf balls at the opponent in the ring would be considered unfair however, particually if they failed to mention to the visiting team to bring any golf balls. The one important rule to keep in mind though is that each fight is 10 rounds. They must be timed, because defeating an opponent in less than 10 rounds will give you more time to rest & recover. Once the 10 round clock has started, no one is allowed on the fighting floor other than the two fighters currently fighting. Even if one opponent is knocked out!!! Once the 10 rounds are over, the team that lost that round (losing team) has anywhere from 1-15 minutes to (1)get their partner off the ring floor, & (2)put the next fighter in the ring. The referee will not start the next round until both tasks are completed, and if they fail to do these within 15 minutes then they forfeit. There are exceptions to this rule as well, And the referee has final judgement on this. It has to be something fairly major that is completely out of the teams control for the referee to allow an exception to this rule, to the tune of the local authorities showing up & busting the whole lot of them, or the building being hit by an asteroid... Something to that nature. The winner is not allowed to leave the ring during this time, and must wait at his starting position until the next round begins. (This rule is generally ignored, the important thing is that he is not allowed to stall for extra time by not being at the starting position when the next round is ready to start). During the 'down-time' between rounds, he gets to make a single recovery roll (not the two that are typical), which he may split any way he chooses between Health, Chi or Willpower. Notice that he does NOT recover all his health, as is normal in the SF-RPG. If he knocked his opponent out early, he gets an additonal die to the recovery roll for each round he spent waiting at the end of the fight. (If he knocked his opponent out in round 8, he gets 2 extra dice to the recovery roll). In addition, For every minute past the first minute, if the fight has not started, he gains an additonal health level (no roll). If the fight has not started after 10 minutes, he gets a second recovery roll, subject to the same rules as before.
King of Fighters Tournament - Misc rules
Surrendering: A fighter is allowed to throw in the towel at any time. Simply holding his hands up & backing out of the ring will end the round in a loss, but that doesn't mean that the team still can't win. The next fighter from his team simply gets in the ring & starts the next round (after the mandatory 1-15 minutes). He may also give up between rounds, should he not wish to continue.
Draw Game/Double KO: If two fighters manage to knock each other out simultaneously, the next fighter on each team simply gets in the ring to start the next round. If one team doesn't have another fighter (Their last fighter got the Double KO) then they lose, unless it was the last fighter for both teams. In that case, both of the fighters in the ring are given 10 minutes to rest, & assuming they both wake up, they will fight each other again. Should they Double KO again, well, in the video game you both lose, but since this is an RPG you'll have to make up some rules. I suggest giving both teams an hour to rest, & then run the whole team fight again, only both teams must change their fighter's order so that the last fighter from the previous fight is now the 1st fighter in this new fight.
Fans: It is generally understood that the home team is responsible for their arena. This includes controlling the spectators. Keep in mind that all that this means is that the spectators may not interfere with the fight. An all out brawl between rival fans is perfectly acceptable. If the home teams fails to controll the audience, they will be given one warning. After that, the match will be stopped, & relocated to the visiting team's arena, where the fights will restart. Depending on the referee, the fight will either start where the last fight stopped, (although obviously both fighters would have had time to heal) or he will restart the entire fight. Typically, he chooses whichever is worse for the original home team (afterall, it was their responsibility to control their arena.)
There is one notable exception to this rule. Each team is supposed to attempt to keep their own fans in line, even though it is always the home team's responsibilty to enforce it. The referee has the option of labeling particulary obnoxious fans as 'roadies'. In that case, the fans are now considered 'staff' for that team & falls under the staff rules (see below).
Staff: Typcially Coaches, Managers, & close friends, staff can integral part of each team. Each team is responsible for their staff's actions during a fight. Interfering with the fight once gets a warning, interfering a 2nd time loses the fight for the team.