Since yesterday was the Superbowl, and I’ve had a chance to playtest ogreball in my game since I first posted it, I thought it was a good time to revisit this quick bit of campaign inspiration. It can be useful and fun to think about things like what a particular species in your campaign does for fun. Not only does it help make them something more than static dungeon fodder, but it can also give you some wonderful encounter ideas that your players won’t forget. I’ve used ogres, but what sort of sports do gnomes get up to? Or elves?
Most encounters with ogres result in plenty of screaming and not an insignificant amount of bloodshed. Few people experience the fun, playful side of ogres, or are even aware ogres have a fun, playful side. But when not terrorizing the local population or being terrorized themselves by random adventuring parties, ogres enjoy any number of leisure activities. Of course, no one could ever accuse ogre games of being piquant in any sense (the less said about “How old is my stoat?” the better). But if it involves a healthy amount of physicality and the chance to hurt someone, ogres have probably made a game of it.
Of all the games ogres play, the one known simply as “ogreball” is the most widespread and commonly played. Playable with as few as two ogres and with as many ogres as want to take part, ogreball combines aspects of rugby, dodgeball, soccer, and hurling. Most games of ogreball are played with a ball made from an animal skin stuffed with whatever detritus is at hand (and with ogres, there’s always detritus at hand), though occasionally a comparably-sized rock is used in place of the “traditional” ball. Ogres need no designated field to play ogreball, and games are generally played wherever the ogres find themselves.
As one would expect, the rules of ogreball are simple. Points are scored for getting the ball across a goal line designated at the start of the game, or by hitting your opponent(s) with the ball. In Theory, play continues until some arbitrary amount of points is scored by one team or the other. In practice, most games of ogreball devolve into a mass of ogres pelting each other with an increasingly disintegrating animal skin ball, until they simply begin fighting amongst themselves in frustration and anger.
In a more modern setting, underground ogreball leagues have all but replaced the more vanilla sport of football for fans of mayhem and carnage. The trappings of regulation and organization give ogreball a hint of respectability, but at its heart it is still what it always was: brutal ogre-on-ogre fighting. There is also an underground market for collectors of used ogreballs, and even pieces of a used ball from a particularly famous or popular match can fetch a startling price.
Should your party ever find itself involved in a game of ogreball, players will find the “ball” to be increasingly unwieldy. They’ll need to succeed at a series of DC15 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks with disadvantage in order to handle the ball, and ranged attacks, also at disadvantage, to be able to throw the ball at opponents. Should an ogre succeed in hitting an adventurer with the ball, it inflicts 12 (2d6+4) bludgeoning damage. If an adventurer succeeds at their ranged attack, they inflict 1d6 bludgeoning damage. If an adventurer is able to make themselves large-sized through magical means, they may make their checks normally and increase their damage to 2d6 as well.
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