Sports for Orcs, and other things


Alrighty, after reading an article by Calamar (, I settled on the idea that your standard fantasy campaign should have some unique athletic competitions. Most of my favorite console and computer games had minigame-liek things, soem of which were plot-central, others not. Sports are important, And we're going to make a few. Well, we're gonna try. Now I'm not gonna aks for game mechanics and crunchy numbers, because then they wouldn't port well from sytem to system. I'm asking for actual game ideas, preferably with some idsals and behaviors attached. I'll go first to show you what I mean.

Name: Rolserkin'

Who Plays it: Originally a sport among Bugbears, Rolserkin' is now nenjoyed infavor of gladatorial combat in many tribes as a means of resolving issues, and many hobgoblins and orcs have taken to the sport as well.

Field: Somethign flat with minimal bumps to slow things down. Most of theseof these fields are marked off, but if a good field is not availiable, one can easily be made in less than a day. Disrupting a field is a serious taboo in any tribe that is wealthy enough to have a "proper" field with an altar to at least one local deity.

Equipment: Rolserkin' requires only two items, a boulder and a stick, one of each for each of the players.

The Stick (known as a Zerken in the original language)is normally of asufficient weight size and thickness to give sound blows (not lethal, but still hard) to the oppoenent, capable of knaocking him off balance.

The Boulder is large, and round enough to roll. Every Boulder msut at least be as wide as the player riding it is tall.

Armor is not permitted, and niether are shields. A competitor may wear any clothign deemed fiar by the judge whie competing. To avoid confusion, most team games involve each team wearing speicifc colros or style of clothing.

Rules: This game is not intentionally lethal, unlike many other bugbear practices, but still fairly brutal. You are allowed to swing the stick however you want, but you amy not use any foreign implements or your own body to contact the oppoenent, otehr than the stick. You may not use any magic or magical items in play. You can never run over a fallen oppoenent, or even injrue him with a boulder after he's been knocked off (doign so allows retribution form the injured player, or his nearest kinsmen if he died because of it). You may not kill a player ever.

Object: Get the other guy off of the boulder.

Method of Play: At the beginning of each game, a "judge" is agreed upon, usually soemone who can be certain no magic is being used. Then each combatant must find a roller (someone with sufficent strength to push the boulder) and a boulder ofsufficient roundness to play. After doing so, and presenting both implements to the judge, the judge himself finds enough strong sticks. Tehre are many people who grow trees for this exact purpose, particularly in hobgoblin communities, where the sticks are rafted and sold on a regular basis. A well-versed player may bring his own stick, but if it does not meet the standards of fairness, a judge may break it over his knee while rejecting it.

After the equipement and boundaries are agreed upon by all players, Every player gets on a boulder, standing in a ready position, holding his stick in whatever way is most effective to him or her (women players are allowed, but not alwyas encouraged, depnding on the tribe). the rollers pushe the boulders with full force, and each palyer proceeds to ride the boulder by moving in conjunction with it, similiar to log rolling. They then strike at their oppoenents with with sticks.

Whoever is left standing wins.

Variations: Any number of players can be included, and there are even team engagements, however, in any game, each team msut be equal to maintain a balance.

Values: The major value Rolserkin' is honor, followed by strength and skill shortly after. Rolserkin' is held in regard and almost religious zeal. Many tribes who worship gods of strength or fury often place shrines of said Gods near their arenas. It is customary for judges to be respected meembers and leaders of their local area, who have no vested interest in the game's outcome whatsoever.

Players: Your typical successful Rolserkin' player is strogn and stout, but also very graceful, being able to not be knocked off balance easily. Most of them have incredibly good footing. They are somewaht shrewd in combat and game tactics, but fairly dense ins som affairs outside thir own interests.

Your typical Roller is rediculously strong, even by his race's stadards, with muscles like iron bars. They are usually trusted by and loyal to a specific player, as they literally have a Player's life in their hands. More than one Player has a Rolelr who is either a loyal slave or a trusted blood brother of some sort.

Your typical Judge is shrewd, clever, and very wise. He is usually a spellcaster of some sort, or at least an expert at noticing and percieving spells and magic in any form. Judges are usually wealthy and respectable, and almost laways veyr powerful leaders even outside of their jurisdiction of judging games.

You don't have to follow my format, and pelase ask for clarifying on any rule issues.

Sportingly yours,

I've always been a big fan of the Draji sport of Raxoc, from the Dark Sun campaign setting. It's losely based upon an Aztec game, but a good deal more vicious. Quoting from the "City-State of Draj" 3.5 supplement from ( (it's free!):

"Raxoc is played with a solid rubber ball about a half-foot in diameter. The ball is lined with small thorns or spikes. The sunken court, shaped like a capital letter I, is surrounded by spectators who look down into the court. Two stone rings hang down (like earrings) from the walls at either end of each team's zone. The rings are 8 to 10 feet off the ground, and the hole is less than a foot wide. The ball is supposed to pass through this ring."

"The goal of the game is to pass the ball through one of the stone rings on either end of the court. Two players or teams of opposing sides play the game. The first team, or the first player in a solo bout, to put the ball in the ring three times wins. The ball may only be touched by the hips, knees, and elbows. The ball has to be kept in the air at all times, though it may be bounced off the walls. Raxoc is as much a game of endurance as it is one of skill. It is usually played at high sun, when the rays beat down hardest on the competitors. It usually ends when one player passes out from exhaustion and dehydration, or from blood loss from the thorns on the ball."

"Raxoc is often used to settle disputes between families or clans. A champion from each side will play the game, with the victorious side being declared the winner of the dispute. The losers may face dire consequences, being rewarded for their failrue with ridicule, and sometimes even exile."

If you're looking for something simpler, there's always the classic "Orc Soccer," in which the playing ball is the recently decapitated head of the most recent raid.