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How to have a Super Bowl for your D&D games

Written by MythicParty - Published on February 1, 2015

The-Big-GameOn the first Sunday in February, Americans will order 12.5 million pizzas, guzzle 325.5 million gallons of beer , and eat 1.25 billion- that’s billion with a ‘B’, chicken wings.  No word on how many Potions of Pepto Bismal, although rumor has it that additionally 8 million pounds of guacamole are consumed via 15,000 pounds of chips. All of this gastronomical excess happens while watching over-sized guys in colored shirts run around on some grass.  (yes, this year there’s actual grass and I don’t mean in Seattle)  If you’d like there to be a ‘Big Game’ finale for your D&D campaign, here’s how.

Opponents that oppose: An exciting contest can’t happen against a single BBG with a few mooks.  It has to be against an effective team, with a deep ‘roster’ of NPCs and monsters.  They can all have individual motivations yet still are willing to work together towards a common goal that they want to ‘win’ at.  Model the opposing side after a real football organization: there is an offense, a defense and even a special teams. Each of these separate specialist sections has their own coach/leader who in turn report to a Head Coach.  ‘Free agents’ are mercenaries.  Fans are cultists or other supporters.  Cheerleaders are…evil version of bards?  The actual head of the entire organization is akin to a football team’s owner; a powerful patron, running everything from behind the scenes.  A great example of this setup is the structure of the various villains from the Old School classic super module, T 1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil, the lot of whom practically fill in the org chart.

Have a Halftime: When having a ‘Big Game’ in your campaign it is crucial that for reasons of dramatic tension, at a suitable stopping point there is a lengthy pause in the action.  It can anything from each side retreating a short distance away so they can re-group to several days or even longer in between the fighting.  This lull is the calm before the storm.  The chance for the players to think over what’s already happened and what could happen next.  But it’s also an opportunity to let you adjust your strategies, which can make a huge difference.  If things are heading towards TPK-town (and this is ok, even desirable to have the Players feel the heat) you can see what might swing the upcoming battle towards their overall success.  On the flip side of the coin, if Team Evil is having an off day even with some ‘roll assistance’ on your part, it’s time to change things up.  Re-look at spells, special abilities, and strategy.  If necessary reach out to other DMs via websites and ask their advice.

Serious stakes: The Super Bowl is about as big as it gets in sports competition.  (Yes, I’m ignoring you, World Cup)  Each person on the winning team each gets a payout of $97,000.  Even the losers are guaranteed a bonus check of $49,000.  And this doesn’t include endorsements or contract extensions.  Commercials cost $150K per second yet generate an estimated $10million in revenue.  Betting- both legal and otherwise- is in the billions.  Platinum pieces everywhere.  Perhaps equally important is the glory.  Fame for the winners, infamy for the losers. Just ask Scott ‘Norwide.’  Give your group something equally serious to have on the line.  It doesn’t have to be the ‘Or the World Ends’ from an occult ceremony cliche, but something important enough to make everyone sweat the outcome.  When it comes down to the final fight, make it an all-or-nothing affair.  A ‘Do or Do Not’ kind of scenario design.

So if you make a suitable team of opponents with focused positions, have a defined break in the action that causes dramatic tension before setting up the final battle, and make the end game about something worth dying over you’ll have the Super Bowl of a D&D campaign.  Ok, any other suggestions?  Did we come up with some good ideas?  Need to work on our sports metaphors?  Let us know in the comments below- or else the {insert your favorite team} won’t win.


Written by MythicParty

Dog-loving, movie-watching, pizza aficionado. Content Editor for DMing.com, Project Manager for AvatarArt.com, & player of the coolest characters in a weekly D&D game. Halflings are the real heroes.

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4 Responses to “How to have a Super Bowl for your D&D games”
  1. MythicParty says:

    Also, having plenty of good, tasty food for your Big Game is really important. It helps make the session a special event + keeps everyone energized.

  2. '85 Chicago Bears says:

    Great post. Excellent metaphor. Even if not creating a Bowl like event in a campaign or one shot. The idea of treating your threats as a “TEAM EVIL” seems a great way to insure your design is effective if not lethal, raising the stakes and rewards. Addithing that all or nothing risk as you suggest is sure to produce memorable and tense experiences. Thanks for sharing and Happy Bowl Day!

  3. MythicParty says:

    Da Bears.

    Thanks for the feedback. Another option if you don’t want to directly use football is to copy the roles that 4th Edition introduced for parties: Leader, Striker, Defender, Controller.

    …but apply it to the monsters to make sure there is an effective balance to the opposition.

  4. RPG GM says:

    This is a great idea. I think it could really build up to be an epic game. I’m going to have to work this into my https://fyxtrpg.com/ game a little more. I have created two separate groups that my players are involved in. One for the “north” and on for the “south”. They both have good reasons to be on the side they are on and they are just now getting the idea that I am pitting one group of PCs against another group of PCs all run by the same players. The meta part of this might get a little interesting…

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