Campaign Inspiration: Ogre Ball

Feeling a bit under the weather, so here is a quick bit of campaign inspiration for you. 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 have developed, the one known simply as “ogre ball” is the most widespread and easily playable among ogre-kind. Playable with as few as two ogres and with as many ogres as want to take part, ogre ball combines aspects of rugby, dodgeball, soccer, and hurling. Most games of ogre ball 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 ogre ball, and games are generally played wherever the ogres find themselves.

As one would expect, the rules of ogre ball 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. Theoretically, play continues until some arbitrary amount of points is scored by one team or the other. In practice, most games of ogre ball 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 ogre ball leagues have all but replaced the more vanilla sport of football for fans of mayhem and carnage. The trappings of regulation and organization give ogre ball a hint of respectability, but at its heart, it is still what it always was: brutal ogre-on-ogre fighting.

Should your party ever find itself involved in a game of ogre ball, players will find the “ball” to be increasingly unwieldy. They’ll need to make a series of Athletics checks at disadvantage (DC 15) in order to handle the ball, and ranged attacks, also at disadvantage, to be able to throw the ball at opponents. If an adventurer is able to make themselves large-sized through magical means, they may make these checks normally.

What sports have you created for your campaigns? Share them in the comments below.

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