Nothing But Net – A Tennis Autobiography is a GMless game for 1 or more players, spanning the career of semi-professional Tennis’ biggest underachiever – Rick ‘Nothing But Net’ Lawes.
“How do I begin to talk about a career that is known by so many as the most disastrous in the circles of semi-professional Tennis?
“Through the decades, there have been many who tried to uncover exactly what it was that forced my hand so many times and even more who asked why I never – if you’ll excuse the pun – truly gave up on this dreadful racket.
“In this, my first and only autobiographical work, I’ll recount each major moment of my career – the near misses, the dizzying highs, the crushing lows. Reader, I warn you; this is a cruel game and I have suffered more than most.” – Rick ‘Nothing But Net’ Lawes
How To Play
To play, you’ll move through these phases, repeating some as you go:
ASSOCIATES OF MR. LAWES – Creating and updating the important people in Rick’s life
PRE-GAME, BREAK(ING) POINT, POST-GAME – Dealing with IMPORTANT MOMENTS in Rick’s career
RETIREMENT – When Rick finally gives up
Associates of Mr. Lawes
Start here and revisit this phase whenever you want to add someone new into Rick’s life.
Everyone in Rick’s life – Rick included – is a terrible person. Before you examine the IMPORTANT MOMENTS in Rick’s career, create at least one character for each of the roles below. Describe their feelings towards Rick and his feelings towards them.
An Arch-nemesis, A Manager, A Mentor, A Best-Friend, A Super-Fan, Ex-Lover(s), Current Lover(s), Family Member(s), Rival(s)
When you create a character, roll 5d4 and allocate each result to a column from the table to find out more about them.
Things tend to go wrong for Rick right before a big game. Before each IMPORTANT MOMENT in Rick’s career, roll 5d4. For every result of 2+, generate an ISSUE.
To generate an ISSUE roll 2d4, one after the other, and compare the result to the table. For each ISSUE generated, add a d4 to the MATCH POOL.
Have a scene to establish each ISSUE and describe how it affects Rick. Always include at least one person from Rick’s life.
|1,1||An non Tennis-related injury||3,1||An encounter with an old flame|
|1,2||An unusual Tennis-related injury||3,2||A fallout with the umpire|
|1,3||A complete unwillingness to train||3,3||A longstanding family feud|
|1,4||An unexpected equipment malfunction||3,4||A noisy and very public argument|
|2,1||An act of gross overindulgence||4,1||A perfectly timed act of vengeance|
|2,2||A raging hangover||4,2||A well warranted comeuppance|
|2,3||A bout of food poisoning||4,3||An ill-thought-out attempt at payback|
|2,4||An awkward misunderstanding||4,4||A run-in with the law|
IMPORTANT MOMENTS for Rick are, mostly, Tennis matches, but don’t let that limit you. It could be an award ceremony, a wedding, or even an attempt to get into another type of sport.
To see how an IMPORTANT MOMENT goes for Rick, roll all the dice in your MATCH POOL and read the total. You may want to roll the dice in the MATCH POOL one at a time and take turns narrating how the various pre-game ISSUES affect Rick, or roll them all together and decide afterwards.
|1-4||SUCCESS – Despite everything, things go Rick’s way for once!|
|5-10||NEAR MISS – Rick puts up a valiant effort, but just misses out on success|
|11-16||TOUGH BREAK – A few glimmers of hope, but in the end it was a definite defeat|
|17-20||DISASTER – Everything just went wrong today and it shows|
No matter what Rick was doing, he’ll always want to tell someone about it afterwards – and probably put his own positive spin on the whole thing.
After each IMPORTANT MOMENT, have an INTERVIEW with Rick where you dissect what happened. This could be with one of the big semi-professional Tennis publications, like Balls to the Wall or Net Gain, or just whoever Rick has cornered in a local bar.
Use the table for inspiration.
|1,1/1,2||COURTLY MATTERS||Gossip, Glamour & Award Show Coverage||Poor|
|1,3/1,4||LIVE TO SERVE||Tournament Coverage & World Rankings||Respected|
|2,1/2,2||30-LOVE||Tennis-related Dating for the Over 30s||Poor|
|2,3/3,4||UMPIRE!||Coaching Tips & Rules Debates||Respected|
|3,1/3,2||THAT RACKET||Coaching Tips & New Rules Suggestions||Poor|
|3,3/3,4||NET WORTH||Financial News & Management Tips||Embroiled in Scandal|
|4,1/4,2||WIMBLEDONE||A Podcast About Previous Wimbledon Entrants||Poor|
|4,3/4,4||OPEN FOR BUSINESS||Sporting Goods Equipment & Wholesale||Respected|
When the time comes for Rick to finally pack it in, declare his Retirement and hold a press conference. Invite as many big names in Tennis as you like and call around all the noteworthy publications.
When you hold a press conference for Rick’s retirement, roll 5d4 to see how well it goes, then deliver one final INTERVIEW, looking back on his career.
|17-20||A REAL SEND OFF – Everyone Rick invited turns up, including some blasts from the past|
|13-16||POLITE APPLAUSE – About half of those invited turn up, including some unwelcome guests|
|5-12||NO GREAT SHAKES – A few of the smaller publications turn up, along with a spread of fans and hecklers|
|1-4||BLOW OUT – Barely anyone turns up, possibly not even Rick’s manager. A few troublemakers cause a scene|
Rick is a glutton for punishment, and is always ready to come out of retirement for one big game, an exhibition match, or an ill-thought out return to the semi-professional circuit. If you choose to bring Rick out of retirement, decide what happened to him in the intervening years and what brought him back.