D&D General Examples of games/sports in adventures?

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Is anyone aware of examples of published D&D encounters (5e mainly, but any edition or related system is fine) that involve the PCs playing games with at least somewhat complex rules (eg, chess, poker, bowling, etc)? I'm especially interested in seeing how such things are resolve in a couple different types of situations:

1. PCs play a board/card game vs an opponent. (eg, beat a wizard at chess)
2. PCs take on opponent/s in a sporting match of some sort. (eg, take on a bunch of orcs in dodgeball)

Known real world games; historical games with unclear rules; or even invented games are all fine for these purposes. The main thing is that the PCs are expected to actually play (and maybe cheat at!) a game or sport in the context of the adventure.

(I'm less interested in games of chance; or simple carnival games and tournament contests where resolution is pretty easily adjudicated using ability checks.)

Any pointers would help. Thanks!
 

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Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Is anyone aware of examples of published D&D encounters (5e mainly, but any edition or related system is fine) that involve the PCs playing games with at least somewhat complex rules (eg, chess, poker, bowling, etc)? I'm especially interested in seeing how such things are resolve in a couple different types of situations:

1. PCs play a board/card game vs an opponent. (eg, beat a wizard at chess)
2. PCs take on opponent/s in a sporting match of some sort. (eg, take on a bunch of orcs in dodgeball)

Known real world games; historical games with unclear rules; or even invented games are all fine for these purposes. The main thing is that the PCs are expected to actually play (and maybe cheat at!) a game or sport in the context of the adventure.

(I'm less interested in games of chance; or simple carnival games and tournament contests where resolution is pretty easily adjudicated using ability checks.)

Any pointers would help. Thanks!

In Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, there is an opportunity to play a game called goat-ball against goliaths. It is entirely resolved through skill checks, though.

One of the Tier 1 AL adventures for the Tomb of Annihilation season presents rules for racing dinosaurs (while riding them) in Port Nyanzaru that are more elaborate.

In chapter 1 of Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus, there is the opportunity to play a gambling game called Baldur's Bones. Rules are included. It's a bit like black-jack but with dice.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Thanks for the heads up. I'll check those out.

The one I'm aware of off the top of my head is the game of "pelota" from the adventure "Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" in Tales from the Yawning Portal. Basically, the PCs play by attacking an animated ball. IIRC, scoring depends upon degree of success on the attack roll and that PC's distance from the goal. (I haven't checked the original module to see if/how this game is done in it.)
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
In Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, there is an opportunity to play a game called goat-ball against goliaths. It is entirely resolved through skill checks, though.
The reference to goat-ball reminded me of 3e's Races of Stone, where it was also described. Turns out there were a few other simple sports described in that book, too. Good call, thanks!


And a miss:
I haven't read it, but it sounds like EX2 - Land Beyond the Magic Mirror has a chess board-based encounter. From what I can make out, though, it doesn't have much to do with actual chess, aside from the names of "pieces" (monsters) and how players move on the board.
So... not quite what I was looking for.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
EN5ider published an article on how to run Archery Contests that was including in ENWorld's Advanced Rules Miscellany book.
 

The 2E FR Maztica boxed set had a game that was played in an arena. Players tried to hit a ball through two rings on either sides in the middle of the arena wall using there elbows. Kind of a combination between basketball and soccer, simply called the "Ball Game". There is a series of rules for which govern the game, putting the ball in play, shooting in blocking. Not only is it for entertainment but it is for religious purposes and sometimes used to settle disputes (to the death). I believe the various human cultures of the area have variations of the game. It gets about 3 pages in the boxed set.

And hey what do you know for a mere $1 it can be yours, you really can find anything on the internet.

 



J.Quondam

CR 1/8
The 2E FR Maztica boxed set had a game that was played in an arena. Players tried to hit a ball through two rings on either sides in the middle of the arena wall using there elbows. Kind of a combination between basketball and soccer, simply called the "Ball Game".
Interesting. Sounds like that might be built off the "pelota" encounter found in Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, but maybe with more in-depth rules? Thanks for the tip, i'll check that out.

I appreciate the replies so far.... Helpful stuff!
 

one of the early Dungeon adventures had an adventure revolving around a game called Spottle (or something like that), a dice based game where the players rolled dice and a toad in the middle of the table would randomly eat some of them. There was a cast of odd characters playing along with the PCs, one of whom was a not so nice guy keeping the game going long enough for some hobgoblin slavers to come by...
 

payn

Legend
Some places in Golarion you'll find a friendly match of Knivsies (nighve-zees). In this game, two opponents stand together on a long wooden table with their right hands tied together. Each player has an empty pouch on their waist belt. A single dagger is stuck into the table between them. Observers toss coins on the table before the round starts. At the count of ten, each opponent either makes for the dagger or grabs as many coins to drop in their pouch as possible while trying to force their opponent off the table.

The game ends when, all the coins have been snatched up, or one of the players has been knocked off the table, loses consciousness, or is killed. The player with the most coins in their pouch is the winner in case neither opponent has fallen.
 

one of the early Dungeon adventures had an adventure revolving around a game called Spottle (or something like that), a dice based game where the players rolled dice and a toad in the middle of the table would randomly eat some of them. There was a cast of odd characters playing along with the PCs, one of whom was a not so nice guy keeping the game going long enough for some hobgoblin slavers to come by...
I seem to remember this one, especially the toad. I think the DM had run that Dungeon adventure then reskinned that encounter for one of our games. Reading some of these threads really makes me realize how bad my memory is,
 


Stormonu

Legend
Three Dragon Ante...

I also seem to recall Ghost Tower of Iverness having a chess puzzle/game in it, where the players had to move like chess pieces.

Castle Amber had a boxing ring where you could box Magen (golems).

The 1E DMG had an entire section in it on games of chance and their rules.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Not an official source, but in one of my games there was a 5 day festival in a city that survived an attack by fire giants, ogres, and gnolls 10 years ago, and started a festival to celebrate their survival. In the lead up to the festival, people would decorate upside down barrels to resemble the head of the fire giantess who led the attack. The day before the festival began, a panel of judges would select the most fearsome head. The head would be attached to the top of a solid 30-foot-tall, 3-foot-diameter log.

The upper portion of this log would be decorated with heavy burlap stuffed with hay, and covered with a rigging of rope, forming a "torso." There would also be two 5-foot-long chains covered with thick padding, attached as "arms" and these could swing freely. The log would then be inserted into a 15-foot-deep shaft that was about 5 feet in diameter at the top, narrowing to about 3 feet in diameter at the bottom. Six 30-foot-long ropes radiated from the giantess's "neck." The ground surrounding the shaft is covered with 3 to 4 feet of hay for a 10-foot radius or so. A 10-foot-tall wooden platform is built just outside the radius, with an extendable platform that gets about 7 feet from the "torso."

Festival attendees can pay a silver piece to leap from the extended platform and grab hold of the torso's rigging. Once they have jumped, the platform is removed and a six-person team holding the ropes begins to rock the log back and forth in the shaft, and even spin it around, which causes the padded arms to flail about, possibly knocking the contestant off. I had a short table that I rolled on to determine what happened round to round, but it was basically a bunch of Strength checks and Dexterity checks at various penalties. Those who lasted 30 seconds (5 rounds) got their silver piece back. Those who lasted a minute or more got a gold piece. At the end of the festival the person who held on the longest was awarded 10 gold and was on the panel of judges for the following year, and the log and the barrel become the central portion of the great bonfire marking the festival's conclusion.

This is all done to recreate a heroic act witnessed in the assault on the city 10 years ago, where someone (no one knows exactly who...) leapt onto the giantess's back, stabbing at her while holding on despite all the giantess's attempts to brush them off.
 


MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (Tales From The Yawning Portal)

There's a sport-type game called Pelota. I can't remember any details though. If you own it, it's worth a look.
Is is a game involving the PCs vs a magic ball. Goals on North and South. There are rules for the balls movement and for how the players can grab and hold it and move it. But it plays more like a combat than a sport. You make attack roles against the balls AC. The game continues until the characters die or they score a goal that puts them two points ahead of the ball's score.
 

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