Would Giants Beat Patriots in D&D? – Making Sports Teams More Suitable for D&D

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on February 7, 2012

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.

Animal Division

  • Bruins (Bears)
  • Coyotes
  • Ducks
  • Panthers
  • Penguins
  • Predators (Saber-tooth Tigers)
  • Sharks
  • 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.

Humanoid 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.

Elemental Division

  • 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.

Monster Division

  • Capitals (Constructs/Golems)
  • Devils
  • 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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1 KusterJr February 7, 2012 at 10:34 am

I love this idea. Next game I get to plan, I will definitely find a way for this to be the national sport of choice. However, if we were going to try and match the NFL, the losing team would actually get the most experience for the next year – or if you were going to do a draft, the winning team could get better experience but the losing team would get the first draft pick (which is probably a bit more representative of how it actually works). Oh, and the last thing would be that there would need to be an inter-league competition at the end of the season between the top teams in each division. Now I’m going to be spending the day at work disecting football teams into different leagues based on their mascots. 😛


2 KusterJr February 7, 2012 at 11:10 am

…Well that didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would…

(I decided to combine like animals, as there were A LOT of them, so no insult intended for fans of those teams)
Aerie (Ravens, Falcons, Eagles, Cardinals and Seahawks)
Wild Cats (Bengals, Lions, Jaguars and Panthers)
Equestrine (Colts, Broncos and Chargers)
Bills (Bison and Buffalo)
Texans (Bulls)

Obviously the Dolphins could have a bit of a problem, but otherwise I think it could be up for grabs.

Jets (White dragons)

…yeah, the Jets would probably win this one…

Steelers – Buff humanoids specializing in hammers
Packers – …box cutters? Lol, Humans specializing in light, bladed weapons
Vikings – Battleaxes, broadswords, and awesome helmets
Saints – Divinely powered humans
Pirates (Buccaneers and Raiders)
Patriots – A high spirited militia armed with pitchforks and scythes
Cowboys – Hand crossbow dual-wielders
Redskins – Tomahawks and bow-and-arrows
Chiefs – Warlords
49ers – Dwarf gold miners
Browns – Small fey creatures (brownies, pixies, etc.)

This one would probably up for grabs, but I think it would be quite entertaining to watch.

3 Taed February 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Only tangentially related, but my favorite D&D session was a two-part one that I ran based on the Dark Sun Game Day “Arena of Sand” or somesuch about two years back. The entire “adventure” was broken into two teams of PCs — no monsters, just PCs — playing against each other. There was a background story behind the whole thing, but let’s ignore that. The point is that it was basically the D&D equivalent of a football game.

In the first “encounter”, the two teams of PCs started on opposite ends of the arena and there were 7 “coins” in the middle which were essentially manhole covers (about 50 pounds and metal) with a hole in the middle. The goal was to get the most coins in your “goal” at the end of 6 rounds. They started just putting a rope through the middle and dragging them. (No one had anything like Tenser’s Floating Disk.) Then they started interfering with the other team. Finally, they started pushing them out of the other team’s (unguarded) goal. Anything goes! This made a great encounter, particularly since it was so different from anything we’d done with D&D previously.

The winning team then got initiative for a fight to the death, where again, anything goes. Out of 8 PCs, only 1 (a druid) survived (and thus her team “won” the Pyrrhic victory). It was a great one-off adventure.

4 Goatman6 February 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Awesome idea! I have 2 more for ya from the NHL. The Canadiens (Montreal) could be included with the Canucks (Vancouver) and the Sabres (Buffalo) could go along with the Rangers (NY) as Calvary. The only problem I have with your list is the fact that you made the red wings Red Dragons and my Beloved Blues Thunder. If you could change My Blues to Blue Dragons…Class Bard? that would be great! Overall Great Job!! Now if I could clear my head of this cold, I could try and attempt a baseball theme. Cardinals (St. Louis) could be divine humanoids..

5 Alton February 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm

What?! No love for the Canadiens? LOL!

How about the HABS as a flock of Harpies?

6 Ameron (Derek Myers) February 7, 2012 at 9:18 pm

When it came to interpreting the Blues I went with the musical note that’s on their crest rather than the colour. But in your campaign you can make the Blues whatever you think is appropriate.

I’ve got to be honest; the absence of the Canadiens and the Sabres was a complete oversight. I was very tired when I wrote this article. I have amended the divisions to include these two teams.

7 Sunyaku February 8, 2012 at 12:30 am

When the owner of our FLGS visisted WotC this year, and was looking for ideas, I suggested a stringently “scoreable” campaign, similarish to the DnD championships, except that the initial qualifying events could be played at every FLGS around the country. Then the campaign would eventually culminate in a regional/national event where there would be a PC party vs PC party battle royale for “the title”.

8 Norcross February 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

Even better – just have an occasional Blood Bowl gaming night!
It would let you do everything you mentioned, while giving a better flavor and a change of pace.

9 Taed February 8, 2012 at 10:06 am

Blood Bowl sounds like a great follow-on to Lair Assault!

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