This weekend the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI (46). As one of the only people in North America that doesn’t follow pro-football I had no idea who was favoured to win this game, nor did I care. However, in the weeks leading up to the game I kept hearing people talk about the Giants vs. the Patriots. In my mind I kept thinking “If this was D&D, the Giants would crush the Patriots (assuming they were Human Patriots).” And that got me thinking, what would this type of confrontation be like in D&D if the members of each teams were the literal embodiment of their team name?
I’m not suggesting that it would be a team of Storm Giants playing football against a group of radical Patriots; I’m suggesting we actually take the sports out of it and just turn it into a straight up D&D-style fight. In this kind of confrontation you’d see a lot more support for teams with mean, vicious and powerful names. In a fight to the death I’d rather cheer for Titans, Giants or Bears over Ravens, Eagles or Dolphins.
This kind of battle would still require some semblance of order. So battles would continue to take place in an arena or stadium. People would still support a team and there would of course still be wagering on the outcome. The owners or General Managers would cultivate a team and control their actions.
In much the same way there is a salary cap in real sports, each GM would have an XP budget to build their team. In order to make things a little bit more interesting I’d allow the total number of “players” to fluctuate a little bit. This lets teams develop super-stars by spending more XP on a few select members. Winning teams would get bonus XP to build up their team the following season.
PCs could get involved with this kind of organized sports in multiple ways. The most passive way is to cheer for their favourite team and perhaps bet on the outcome. If the PCs meet the criteria for a given team (likely in the Humanoid Division) they can tryout and participate in the games. Finally there’s the opportunity for the party to acquire a team themselves and become the GMs. They can run the monsters on their team as they battle for the top prize. Depending on when the PCs come aboard they might even get to draft or recruit new team members for the upcoming season.
As I mentioned I’m not a football fan, but I am a hockey nut. So let’s look at one possible imagining of how the NHL might look in this kind of situation.
- Bruins (Bears)
- Predators (Saber-tooth Tigers)
- Wild (Bears)
It’s safe to say that the Ducks and Penguins will be at the bottom of this division. The Sharks will certainly have a disadvantage as they are water-bound, but any terrain that forces their opponents to be even partly submerged in water will make for an interesting match-up. I think the Predators, Bruins and Wild will battle for top spot in the Animal Division.
- Canadiens (Humans wielding “sticks” quarterstaffs)
- Canucks (Canadian lumberjacks armed with hand axes)
- Blackhawks (Fierce tribal warriors armed with tomahawks)
- Blue Jackets (Patriotic freedom-fighting warriors)
- Islanders (Fisherman armed with nets and spears)
- Kings (Noble heirs equipped with superior armor and weapons)
- Oilers (Dwarven miners armed with hammers and pick axes)
- Rangers (Human cavalry)
- Sabres (Elves each wielding two scimitars)
- Senators (Human centurions)
As these are all humanoid armies it’s really anyone’s fight. If the Kings and Rangers remain on horse-back then they’d likely have an edge, but I think this division would be very evenly matched year after year. I think the Rangers, Oilers, Sabres and Blackhawks would likely take the top spots with most consistency.
- Avalanche (Cold)
- Blues (Thunder)
- Flames (Fire)
- Hurricane (Force)
- Lightning (Lightning)
- Stars (Radiant)
Assuming that these teams are made up of elementals or beings that channel these kinds of energy then much like the Humanoid Division, the division title is up for grabs. As long as the creatures are more-or-less balanced then it all comes down to smart tactics. I’d give a very marginal edge to the Hurricane or Stars but these teams by no means have the top spots locked.
- Capitals (Constructs/Golems)
- Flyers (Black Dragons)
- Jets (White Dragons)
- Maple Leafs (Treants)
- Red Wings (Red Dragons)
Getting the team names in this division to match up with appropriate D&D monsters was by far the most difficult and required some imagination. Baring any other interpretations the Flyers, Red Wings and Jets have an edge because, hey they’re friggin’ dragons! However, the Devils may yet prove their competitiveness in this division depending on which type suit up.
Whether you choose to have the players get completely emerged in this kind of sporting event or just have it happening in the background, it can provide an interesting departure from the typical D&D encounters your players usually face week after week. If hockey’s not your sport, try going through this exercise with any of the other pro-sports leagues. In the end this idea has the possibility to create as much rivalry and loyalty in your game as real life teams do outside of the game.
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