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A Load of Balls

The sacred book of Nuffle informs readers that to make a football, a pig's bladder should be carefully removed from the owning pig and inflated. In the earliest days of the modern game, this advice was followed closely, but it quickly became apparent that no matter how careful one attempts to be, the pig in question will always object. What's more, once the pig has raised an objection, it rapidly becomes extremely uncooperative! Reasoning that there was probably a better way, the nascent NAF began to fiddle with the design of its balls.

One early innovation was shelved at an early stage. The story goes that Roze-El was presented with a spherical ball by a young research acolyte by the name of Sochere. Supposedly, the Sochere ball was easier to handle and not given to such erratic bouncing, meaning it could be kicked with more precision and passed from player to player with greater ease. Roze-El quickly dismissed the notion, stating that, as far as he was concerned, all balls are ovoid, that spherical balls felt wrong and that no one would want to handle one, whereas ovoid balls were easy to carry. No one wanted the game to become one of kick-ball, the objective was to pick up, carry and pass the ball! Since that time, the design of a Blood Bowl ball has been greatly refined and standardised by both the NAF and the RARG. Today, players the world over can be assured that, when they grab a ball, it will be reassuringly ovoid.

Modern balls tend to follow the same basic construction; an inflated bladder (often synthetic) is encased in a stitched leather shell. This structure is, in turn, supported and strengthened by bands of metal, onto which are affixed sharp, inch-long spikes, the better to help with grip in the wet and to encourage bloodshed in the scrum.

Yet, in spite of standardisation by the sport's governing bodies, there still exist a great variety of balls in the world. Most races have their own preferences and prejudices when it comes to balls and, consequently, there are more types of ball in common use than one might think.

UNUSUAL BLOOD BOWL BALLS

From live squigs, full of teeth and an unwillingness to play ball, to icons devoted to the Dark Gods, steeped in their fell power and utterly deadly to the touch, there is no limit to the things that have made their way onto the Blood

Bowl pitch in place of a regulation ball. Sometimes, these ball-shaped objects are pressed into service out of necessity. At other times, they are used to deliberately gain an unfair advantage.

Coaches may wish to use the rules for unusual balls detailed on the following pages. The inclusion of these rules in a league or tournament is at the discretion of the league commissioner or tournament organiser. Otherwise, coaches who wish to use these rules for an exhibition game should decide this between themselves.

USING UNUSUAL BALLS

Once per game, after Step 1 but before Step 2 of the Start of Drive sequence when they are the kicking team, the coach can declare that they will use an unusual ball. There are two ways in which the attributes of the unusual ball can be determined:

  1. Roll a D16 on the Unusual Ball Attributes table.
  2. Select a single attribute from the Unusual Ball Attributes table.

During Step 2 of the Start of Drive sequence, the coach must nominate one player from their team to be the kicking player. If the roll on the Kick-off table is a double, the ref calls the kicking player out for their flagrant rules violation and they are immediately Sent-off as though they had committed a Foul (before resolving the Kick-off result). Note that even if the player is Sent-off, the special ball remains in play for this drive!

For the duration of the drive, the rules for the unusual ball in use apply. Aside from these rules, an unusual ball still counts as a normal ball in all respects. At the end of the drive, the unusual ball is removed by the referee and replaced with a normal ball during the next Start of Drive sequence.

DESIGNER'S NOTE -- A BALL FOR EVERY RACE

Astute readers will notice that many of the balls described here tie in with the balls that come with certain teams, but that not all are covered. In truth, the various balls that come with the different teams fall into several broad types. This list is designed to cover all of those types in broad terms rather than every single ball, and even offers a couple of alternative uses for balls of a similar type. For example, both the Limpin' Squig (from the Orc team) and the Greedy Nurgling (from the Nurgle team) are examples of a 'creature'. But so too is the Snotling Ball-suit, the Spiteful Sprite Ball and the Skeletal Ball (from the Shambling Undead team). Should you wish, these rules and these models are fully interchangeable, it is simply more fun when naming a rule and writing the description to focus upon one specific ball, so that's what we've done! The intention of these rules is to provide fun ways to use all of the different balls that come with the various Blood Bowl teams.

UNUSUAL BALL ATTRIBUTES TABLE

D16 ATTRIBUTE
1 Explodin' Ball
2 Daemonic Ball
3 Stacked Lunch Ball
4 Draconic Egg
5 Spiteful Sprite Ball
6 Master-hewn Ball
7 Extra Spiky Ball
8 Greedy Nurgling Ball
9 Ball of Dark Majesty
10 Shady Special Ball
11 Soulstone Ball
12 Frozen Ball
13 Sacred Egg Ball
14 Snotling Ball-suit
15 Limpin' Squig Ball
16 Warpstone Brazier Ball

MULTIPLE BALLS

If a second ball ever comes into play for any reason (perhaps due to a Special Play card, for example), it is always a normal, regulation Blood Bowl ball. Things are quite mad enough on the Blood Bowl pitch without multiple unusual balls in play!

(1) EXPLODIN' BALL

There's nothing subtle or clever about a ball stuffed with blasting charges and gunpowder, but Blood Bowl players have never been noted for their subtlety or cleverness.

When the Explodin' Ball is placed, the coach of the kicking team places a marker a spare ball is ideal on any space on their Score tracker to represent the length of the fuse. At the end of each team turn, the coach of the kicking team rolls a D6:

  • On a roll of 6, move the marker two spaces towards 0.
  • On a roll of 2‑5, move the marker one space towards 0.
  • On a roll of 1, the fuse goes out, and the Explodin' Ball is treated as a regular ball from now on however, the coach of the kicking team may spend a team re-roll to keep the fuse alight (the marker does not move this turn).

If the marker moves onto the 0 space, it is removed and the ball explodes! Should a drive end while the marker is still on the tracker, it is removed with no effect.

When the ball explodes, roll a D6 for each player in an adjacent square they are Knocked Down on a roll of 4+. If they are already Prone or Stunned, make an Armour roll for them as though they had been Knocked Down. In addition, if a player was carrying the ball, they are Knocked Down automatically. Note that an Explodin' Ball will not prevent a touchdown being scored, but the roll should still be made at the end of the turn to see whether the ball blows up while the player is celebrating...

After the ball has exploded, and if the drive is still going, a replacement is thrown in by a sideline official. Place a regular ball in the square where the Explodin' Ball was. The replacement ball will scatter before landing.

(2) DAEMONIC BALL

In ages past, mighty champions of Chaos would bind foul Daemons into weapons of war, making hideous tools of destruction that would consume the souls of the fallen. These days, the weapons may have changed, but the horror of encountering a bound Daemon has not!

Whenever a player attempts to pick up this ball, roll a D6:

  • On a roll of 3+, the player attempts to pick up the Daemonic Ball as normal.
  • On a roll of 1 or 2, they recoil in horror and refuse to even try. The ball will bounce once but no turnover is caused. If the ball bounces into an occupied square, that player will attempt to catch it as normal.

Additionally, when a player carrying the Daemonic Ball ends their movement, and if no Pass action has yet been made this team turn, roll a D6. On a roll of 1, the player must attempt to pass the ball to another player on their team if possible or to an empty square if no friendly players are in passing range.

Finally, whenever a Daemonic Ball comes to rest in an unoccupied square, roll a D6. On a roll of 6, the ball cracks, weakening the dark enchantment and allowing the bound Daemon to break free. For the remainder of this drive treat the ball as a normal, regulation Blood Bowl ball.

(3) STACKED LUNCH BALL

A Halfling's thoughts are never far away from food and they will interrupt almost any activity for a snack, including mealtime! Unfortunately, this obsession with food can lead to confusion on the Blood Bowl pitch. All too often, the game ball is left in the dugout when the player tasked with the kick-off forgets to put down whatever they are eating and pick up the ball. As a result, many games involving Halfling teams have become hard-fought battles for possession of a pie, a roast chicken, 12" sub or even a hot pasty. It must be said that when the game ball is edible, many players become a lot more possessive!

As every good chef knows, any food dropped on the floor is fine provided it's picked up quickly! This is generally known as the 'five second rule' throughout the Old World. Consequently, there is an additional +1 modifier applied to any attempt made to pick up the Stacked Lunch Ball.

Additionally, when any player on the kicking team performs a Block action (on its own or as part of a Blitz action) and the target is in possession of the Stacked Lunch Ball, the active player is considered to have the Strip Ball skill.

Finally, should any player that is in possession of the Stacked Lunch ball score a touchdown, immediately after the touchdown is scored roll a D6:

  • On a roll of 2+, a touchdown is scored as normal.
  • On a roll of 1, the player is unable to contain their hunger and treats themselves to a mid-game snack. Unfortunately, such gluttony is instantly rewarded by terrible stomach ache and the player must miss the next drive (which serves them right for eating food that's been on the floor!).

(4) DRACONIC EGG

The inhabitants of the Old World have a long tradition of breeding many fabulous beasts. Where once such creatures were used to augment armies in times of war, today they are more commonly seen in the private menageries of wealthy nobles and retired Blood Bowl stars. Upon occasion, coaches looking for an advantage may procure the ready-to-hatch egg of a mighty draconic beast to sneak onto the pitch. Many an opposition player has lost a finger to a hatchling Hydra!

At the start of any team turn in which a Draconic Egg Ball is on the ground, it will bounce once as the young creature inside attempts to hatch into the world. If the Draconic Egg Ball bounces into an occupied square, the player must attempt to catch it. If the player fails to catch it, or if the square is occupied by a Prone or Stunned player, the ball will bounce again.

Finally, should any player that is in possession of the Draconic Egg Ball score a touchdown, immediately after the touchdown is scored roll a D6:

  • On a roll of 2+, a touchdown is scored as normal.
  • On a roll of 1, the player's enthusiastic spiking of the ball into the End Zone has broken the egg and the creature inside bursts forth and savages them, causing the player to be immediately Knocked Down. When a player is Knocked Down in this way, you may apply a +1 modifier to either the Armour roll or Injury roll. This modifier may be applied after the roll has been made.

(5) SPITEFUL SPRITE BALL

Athel Loren is a magical realm, home to all manner of forest spirits. Some are ancient and powerful, manifesting themselves as mighty Treemen or Treekin. Others are young and mischievous creatures that revel in tormenting others. Amongst the most troublesome are the diminutive Spites and Sprites; small faery-like creatures that swarm and buzz in huge numbers within the ancient forest. Often, such creatures are drawn to the excitement of the Blood Bowl pitch, and sometimes become fixated upon the ball, somewhat hampering play!

At the start of any turn in which a Spiteful Sprite Ball is on the ground, it will bounce one square in a random direction as the Sprite attempts to make off with what it considers to be its new ball. If the Spiteful Sprite Ball bounces into an occupied square, the player must attempt to catch it but will suffer an additional -1 modifier as the Sprite attempts to fight them off. If the player fails to catch it, or if the square is occupied by a Prone or Stunned player, the ball will bounce again.

Additionally, when a player attempts to pick up the Spiteful Sprite ball, the Sprite will attempt to prevent them by scratching and biting. Apply an additional -1 modifier to any attempt made to pick up the Spiteful Sprite ball.

Finally, should the ball leave the pitch for any reason, the Sprite will escape with its prize. A replacement ball is used for the throw-in and these rules cease to apply.

(6) MASTER-HEWN BALL

What's wrong with a little ornamentation? Oh, it feels a little weightier than normal, does it? That must be the gemstones! This ball definitely isn't hewn from solid granite and encased in the finest gromril. Not at all!

Every time the Master-hewn Ball deviates, it will move only D3 squares in a direction determined by rolling a D8 and referring to the Random Direction template, rather than moving the usual D6 squares. Additionally, it does not scatter as a result of a 'Changing Weather' result on the Kick-off Event table.

When passing the Master-hewn Ball, Long bombs cannot be attempted, and the Hail Mary skill cannot be used. Should a player fail an attempt to catch the Master- hewn Ball following a Pass action (including attempting to catch a successful Interception), roll a D6 after the ball has bounced. If the roll is equal to or higher than the player's ST characteristic, or is a natural 6, the player is Knocked Down.

If after deviating or scattering the Master-hewn Ball lands in a square that is occupied by a Prone or Stunned player, an Armour roll is made against that player after the ball has bounced.

(7) EXTRA SPIKY BALL

It may be quite standard for Blood Bowl balls to have spikes, the better to help with grip (and because it's funny watching a player trying to throw a ball that's literally stuck to their palm), but some teams take things to the extreme! It is not uncommon to see spikes several inches longer than the regulations permit and far sharper. Catching such a thing is more a matter of luck than skill!

When an Extra Spiky Ball lands in an unoccupied square, it will not bounce.

Additionally, when a player rolls a natural 1 when attempting to catch an Extra Spiky Ball (after re-rolls), make an unmodified Armour roll against that player:

  • If the player's armour is not broken, they have caught the ball safely.
  • If the player's armour is broken, they have not caught the ball well at all! The player becomes Prone and an Injury roll is made against them. This Injury roll cannot be modified in any way.

(8) GREEDY NURGLING BALL

Wherever the devotees of Nurgle travel, they are followed by hordes of precocious Nurglings. These diminutive Daemons are able to project themselves into the mortal realm in great numbers wherever the Plague Father's followers tread. For the most part, they content themselves with cavorting on the sidelines and in the dugouts, inspiring the players and entertaining the fans. Occasionally, however, one of them will mistake the ball for something edible!

Whenever a player attempts to pick up this ball, roll a D6:

  • On a roll of 3+, the player attempts to pick up the Greedy Nurgling Ball as normal.
  • On a roll of 1 or 2, they recoil in horror and refuse to even try. The ball will bounce once but no turnover is caused. If the ball bounces into an occupied square, that player will attempt to catch it as normal.

At the start of any turn in which a Greedy Nurgling Ball is on the ground, it will bounce one square in a random direction as the Nurgling attempts to get away from the action. If the Greedy Nurgling Ball bounces into an occupied square, the player must attempt to catch it but will suffer an additional -1 modifier as the Nurgling attempts to fight them off. If the player fails to catch it, or if the square is occupied by a Prone or Stunned player, the ball will bounce again.

Finally, should any player begin their activation in possession of this ball, roll a D6. On a roll of 1 the Nurgling's enthusiastic struggles prove too distracting and the player must reduce their MA by 1 for the duration of this team turn as they squabble with an overfed Nurgling.

(9) BALL OF DARK MAJESTY

Chaotic teams will often use artefacts of power and icons of the Chaos gods as balls. Infused with baleful energies, such balls are hideous to behold and all but those with the strongest of wills can find themselves transfixed by a dark influence, losing their free will and succumbing to that of the will of the Chaos gods..

Any player in possession of the Ball of Dark Majesty gains the Really Stupid trait. If they already have the Really Stupid trait, they are unaffected by the influence of the Dark Gods.

Note that as soon as a player that gained the Really Stupid trait as a result of being in possession of the Ball of Dark Majesty loses possession of the ball, for any reason, they lose the Really Stupid trait.

(10) SHADY SPECIAL BALL

The art of carefully deflating a ball by just the right amount to not get in trouble for cheating was pioneered by devious Goblin kicker, Grom Shady. It has become a common tactic for those who think subtle cheating is okay, especially when facing show- offs who love the passing game.

When a player attempts to pass a Shady Special Ball, apply an additional -2 modifier to the Passing Ability test.

In addition, as there is very little chance of a referee proving that the sabotage was deliberate (and not the result of shoddy ball care), the kicker is not Sent-off for employing a Shady Special should a double be rolled when rolling on the Kick-off Event table.

(11) SOULSTONE BALL

This glittering example of Elven ball- craft is studded with magical gems capable of entrapping the souls of dead Elves so that they might continue to affect the game even after their death. A player carrying a ball that has yet to be invested in this manner takes on the fearful aspect of an avenging reaper of souls!

When a player picks up or catches the Soulstone Ball, or starts their activation in possession of it, their coach can choose a Skill belonging to a player that is currently in their team's Casualty box the player in possession of the ball immediately gains that Skill until the end of this team turn or until they are no longer in possession of the ball. Mutation skills and traits may not be chosen.

If there are no players currently in their team's Casualty box, the player cannot gain a Skill and instead gains the Foul Appearance skill.

(12) FROZEN BALL

Ice is a common commodity in many parts of the Old World (it is right up there with rain in terms of popularity). Indeed, parts of the world are buried under glacial ice many thousands of years old. The ice mined from the heart of such glaciers is so cold that, according to legend, it will never melt! This isn't true, but it is very durable stuff. Ancient ice mined from the heart of glaciers is a popular material for ball construction, but it is not without its risks to use, as prolonged exposure can render the flesh utterly numb!

If at the start of either team's turn the Frozen Ball is in the possession of a player, that player's coach must roll a D6. On a roll of 1, the icy cold touch of the ball has deadened the player's fingers (or tentacles, or whatever the case may be) and they are no longer able to grip the ball. The ball is dropped and will bounce. This does not cause a Turnover.

(13) SACRED EGG BALL

Millennia ago, a new god arose in the pantheon of Lustria: Sotek the Serpent. His arrival came as quite a surprise to the Slann Mage-priests, putting something of a dent in their pride as they had previously believed themselves to be quite well-informed about the identity of the world's various deities. Sotek's birth was heralded by the appearance of a twin-tailed comet in the heavens, and his presence proved most invigorating to the denizens of Lustria. Today, many consider snakes to be holy messengers of Sotek, and it is not uncommon for snake eggs to be used as balls in the hope of attracting Sotek's blessing.

If, at the start of any of the receiving team's turns, the Sacred Egg Ball is in the possession of a player that belongs to the receiving team, the coach of the receiving team must roll a D6. On a roll of 1, the player suddenly and unwantedly finds themselves the focus of Sotek's divine attention. The strange sensation of being engulfed within the coils of a gigantic, constricting serpent becomes quite unbearable and the player becomes overwhelmed by a desperate urge to be rid of the ball before they are crushed and consumed by the spirit of mighty Sotek. The ball is dropped immediately, causing it to bounce. Note that this does not cause a Turnover. Once the ball has come to rest, the receiving team's turn continues.

(14) SNOTLING BALL-SUIT

Stuffinng a Snotling into a crude approximation of a ball and instructing them to run for the other end zone is one of the most ludicrous (and entertaining) ways in which a team can cheat. It's also surprisingly common!

During each of their team turns, the coach of the kicking team can activate the ball to perform a Move action as if it were a player on their team! If, when activated, the ball is in the possession of a player on the receiving team, it must first try to escape. The coach of the receiving team makes an Agility test for the player in possession of the ball, applying a +1 modifier. If this test is passed, they keep possession of the ball, and it cannot perform an action this turn. Otherwise, it bounces once, using up one square of its MA, and can then carry on moving.

The ball has an MA equal to the roll of a D3 (rolled each time the ball is activated) and it can never Rush. For each square the ball moves, the coach of the kicking team places the Throw-in template over it, facing towards either End Zone or either Sideline as they wish. Then they roll a D6 and move the ball one square in the indicated direction; the ball automatically passes any Agility tests it may be required to make in order to Dodge, regardless of any modifiers. Repeat this process for each and every square the ball moves. If this movement takes the ball off the pitch, it is thrown back on as normal and its move ends.

If the ball moves into a square that is occupied by a standing player, that player must attempt to catch it, as though it were a bouncing ball.

It should go without saying, but here it is a Snotling Ball-suit cannot score a touchdown by itself, it must be in the possession of a player!

(15) LIMPIN' SQUIG BALL

Squigs seem to enjoy Blood Bowl. Or so people say, in truth it's very hard to tell what squigs enjoy! They have long been used as balls in the Orc leagues, but that in itself isn't evidence of enjoyment of the game. A recent innovation is to tie one of their legs behind their back to stop them running away so easily, but this just makes them more bitey!

At the start of each team's turn, the Limpin' Squig Ball will make a break for freedom. If the ball is in the possession of a player, roll a D6:

  • On a roll of 2+, the player proves quite an adept squig handler and keeps a tight hold on the beast.
  • On a roll of 1, the squig breaks free and bounces once. Note that this does not cause a Turnover.

If the Limpin' Squig Ball is not in the possession of a player at the start of a team turn, it will try to hop away, bouncing D3 times. If it bounces into a square occupied by a Standing player that has not lost their Tackle Zone and they fail to catch it, it bounces normally, disregarding the D3 roll.

Additionally, should any player score a touchdown with the Limpin' Squig Ball, roll a D6. On a roll of 1, the squig sinks its yellowed fangs into the player's hand. For the remainder of this game, the player that scored the touchdown must reduce their Agility characteristic by 1.

(16) WARPSTONE BRAZIER BALL

Filled with chunks of raw, steaming warpstone, there's no way this 'ball' could be mistaken for one that meets regulations. But make no mistake, when the Skaven cheat, they don't muck about. Deflated balls and biting beasties are amateur stuff - what you really want is a ball that will turn anyone daft enough to touch it into a writhing mass of tentacles. That'll stop 'em touching it!

Whenever a player rolls a natural 1 when attempting to pick up, catch or intercept a Warpstone Brazier Ball (after re-rolls), the player finds their physical form temporarily warped! Roll a D6 on the table opposite to see what happens if a player is granted a Skill or Trait they already have, this roll has no additional effect. The effects of the Warpstone Brazier Ball last until the end of the drive, or until the player is (un)lucky enough to roll again on the table opposite:

D6 EFFECT

  1. Spontaneous Combustion: The player is immediately Knocked Down. You may modify either the Armour roll or Injury roll by +1.
  2. Temporal Instability: The player moves out of phase with reality, gaining the No Hands trait.
  3. Shrunken Head: The only thing worse than a tiny head is the realisation that your helmet no longer fits. The player gains the Bone Head trait.
  4. Massively Obese: The player expands in size until they are a hulking mass of flesh. The player's MA is reduced by 1, to a minimum of 1, and their AV is improved by 1, to a maximum of 11+.
  5. Leprous Flesh: Skin and flesh hang from the player in sickening folds. The player gains the Foul Appearance skill.
  6. Thorny Carapace: The player's body sprouts a thick, spiked shell. The player gains the Iron Hard Skin skill and their AV is improved by 1, to a maximum of 11+.