Sports and Competitions in tabletop RPGs

vampire cheerleader cosplay
We’ve got evil spirits, yes we do!

Sports and competitions are significant parts of culture, from this weekend’s “Big Game” to the Olympic games of ancient Greece. Ōllamaliztli, the Mesoamerican ballgame not only had religious significance, it is speculated to have been a proxy for warfare, and later to have involved human sacrifice. And, famously, soccer was played in the trenches during Christmas Truce of the First World War.

Christmas Truce memorial
Christmas Truce memorial featuring a football

Sports and other competitions have often been featured in tabletop roleplaying games and in the stories of your characters. RuneQuest introduced “Trollball” in their ’82 supplement devoted to that race. It is sometimes played LARP style at cons, and was published as a standalone game in 2008, to support the Tentacles convention. Quidditch is sometimes played live, even though there is no official tabletop RPG.

Trollball
Live action Trollball

Tunnels and Troll’s solo adventure Arena of Kazahn (1979) is one of many games focused on gladiatorial combat. From the roman Colosseum to giant mech sports battles, this has been a continuing staple of the genre.

Arena of Khazan

There’s an entire “powered by the apocalypse” game called World Wide Wrestling. Sports team management is a popular video game genre, but it rarely occurs in tabletop.

In our game Return to the Stars there are cosplay competitions, which include genetic engineering, because it’s a 27th century space opera, and maker challenges for skilled engineers. Anyone have any examples of less traditional contests–from chefs facing off in a kitchen stadium, to informal axe throwing contests in the local tavern or the like?

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