History of TogBall (book)
A History of TogBall
When I first sat down, quill in hand, to pen a history of the sport known as TogBall, I expected to spin a quick yarn regarding the myths surrounding this activity. It wasn't until my first draft was complete that I had the opportunity to sit with my friend Smahsh and read to him what I had composed. Needless to say, he was full of numerous tales (many, of course, returning to the topic of pigs) regarding the sport, and I quickly tossed aside that draft to start anew this manuscript from the perspective of the race known as Togs. Little did I realize that I was embarking on a Tog's-eye view of the history of his race.
What we now know as TogBall began centuries ago, during the reign of the Empire. One day, a Tog named Rahrin Tah'gho was tending the pens in his clan-home when a piglet escaped. With a loud squeal, it dashed hither and yon, seeking escape into the forests surrounding the Clan. Rahrin, quick for a Tog, called several of his Clan brothers to the scene to help round up the little beast. Fanning out in a circle, they moved forward, pushing it back to the wall of the Clan. The piglet, sensing it was trapped against the stockade, made an attempt at freedom by darting directly toward Rahrin. The Tog leaped at it, hoping to engulf it in his rather large embrace. Alas, he only resulted in partially grasping it. With a mighty heave as it wriggled to break free, he tossed it in the general direction of one of the other Togs who had rushed to his aid. Thinking Rahrin was playing, the Tog caught the flailing beast, and in one swoop, continued it on its way to the next Tog in the group.
Unfortunately, he missed his target by a Tog mile. The Togs all stood in awe, watching as the piglet soared past the intended Tog, landing with a messy splash in the slop of the pens. (Well, what would you do, if you were a Tog and saw a pig flying?)
The gathered Togs howled with laughter, thinking this great fun. They took the frightened piglet from the pen and began tossing it back and forth amongst themselves. And so, with this simple little act, the game of TogBall was born. For centuries after, a common occurrence in the Clan was the mid-day pig-toss. Word spread among the scattered Tog Clans, as travelers carried tales back about this highly enjoyable game, and its popularity slowly grew.
Roughly 20 years after their enslavement by the S'Kra Mur, the game took a decidedly ugly turn. A group of Togs, kept enslaved by the S'Kra Mur to work some gold mines in the Dragonspine Mountains, took offense one day at the actions of one particularly nasty overseer. Having pushed harder than he should at the Togs, his whip lashed out at the them harshly, drawing blood. One defiant Tog turned to him and bared his teeth, saying, "Chohmp no think good idea Snakeboy push Togs around like do." And with that ominous declaration, Chohmp Bihg'Teeth grabbed the S'Kra and began whirling him by his tail in a frenzy. With a howl from
Chohmp and a shriek from the S'Kra, the Tog let go of the tail, sending the S'Kra winging through the air like an arrow leaping from a tautly- strung bow. The Togs, all having played TogBall, whooped it up, having a new type of ball to play with. One of the Togs leaped mightily into the air, grabbing the overseer by his throat and slamming him head-first into the ground. The S'Kra lost consciousness.
This was the first spiking of a "ball" in a game.
Needless to say, the Togs decided that since the overseer was deserving of the pain he would suffer due to his vicious treatment of them, they could continue to use him as the ball. (The overseer expired shortly after, having been given a rough toss around by the assembled Togs.)
This was something new to the Togs - in fact, it was almost an epiphany: not only could they play TogBall, they could use beings they didn�t like as the ball. The attempted retribution of the S'Kra on their slaves for the death of one of their own failed miserably, as they were unfamiliar with the rough play of the Togs when it came to this sport. Thus did Chohmp lead his fellow Togs to freedom and into history by killing all the S'Kra at the mine. To this day, all TogBall matches begin with an invocation to Chohmp, First TogBall Captain.
Time passed, and the Togs emerged from their enslavement by the S'Kra. While not necessarily liking their former masters, they generally opted to use other sources for the ball in the now popular game. Goblins, blood nymphs, faenrae reavers -- all were likely to find themselves useed as the ball in matches between rival clans of Togs if they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rules developed that tracked points, giving birth to the scoring system used to this day. Teams arose as well, with rival clans fielding their best warriors to defend the Clan's claims to superiority. It became a point of honor among Togs to be able to claim that their Clan's team of players were unbeatable. As a result, it was not an uncommon occurrence for brawls to break out at inter-clan matches, as the rival sides would do everything possible to divert the opposing team�s players from succeeding in scoring a point in a match.
In the year 340, the violence at matches reached epic proportions when hundreds of raging Togs went on a rampage through Riverhaven, destroying much of the merchant quarter after a match between the Tiger Clan Chohmpers and the Theren Thrahshers. What precipitated the riot was a brawl between both players and fans when the famous Tiger Clan player, Gohr Guht'Spihller, was killed on the field without the favor of the Gods by a trick pulled by the Theren team. For two days the city burned in the aftermath of the riot, and martial law was decreed to help subdue the rabid Togs. A hurried meeting between Provincial officials and Tog clan leaders resulted in new rules and laws being enacted, to help keep violence to a bare minimum.
Now to the unschooled eye, there are no rules to the game of TogBall. The pickup games common around the countryside show little more than a playful viciousness to them. The official matches, however, are another story.
OBJECT OF THE GAME
The object of TogBall is to carry a live ball across the goal line. This is known in the vernacular as "scoring a point." Whichever team has scored more points at the end of a pre-determined length of time is declared the winner of the match. If neither side has scored a point before the clock runs out, play continues until one side scores a point.
Official TogBall teams consist of nine players, six of which may be allowed on the field at any given time. Of the six allowed on the field, one is the goal-keeper, or Head-Splitter, two are defensive blockers (called Maulers), with the other three being known as the Stompers, or forwards. The three remaining members are replacements, able to move anywhere along the perimeter of the field without actually crossing the boundaries marking the field.
Replacement of injured players is quite simple: the injured player must make it to the sidelines under his or her own power. If the player is unable to do so, either from grievous injuries or death, he or she must be carried off the field by active players. Only then may a replacement enter the field of play. Note that there is no particular side of the field from which the new player is required to enter from.
The field measures 100 feet wide by 150 feet long. The goals are at either end of the field, and are spaced 25 feet apart. Tall posts are driven into the ground, although natural formations such as trees and standing stones may also be used. In a pinch, rock trolls have been known to be anchored to the field with spikes and chains. It is common for posts to be considered sacred objects by teams, and they will carry them from field to field as they travel. Seeing gore-splattered posts at either end of a field is a sure sign that the team has defended its Zone often (usually at the cost of the life of a ball).
Extending 20 feet out from the goal posts is what is known as the Blood Zone. The Head-Splitter is allowed to use any and all means, short of fatal injury, to keep the ball from going between the posts. It is the Splitter's job, once control of the ball has been gained, to carry it to the edge of the Blood Zone. Once there, it is customary for the ball to be either punted or thrown to a team-mate.
With the Riverhaven Rules instituted, it has become standard for Paladins of the darker paths to be asked to referee the games. If fouls are committed on the field of play, they will cast the Halt spell to keep problems from erupting. They are also charged with keeping spectators from entering the field.
If one wishes to get into a deep discussion with Togs, the easiest approach is to ask what is the perfect ball. For non-sanctioned play, the current consensus seems to be that humans make the best balls (I was told it was due to the coppery taste their blood carries); Elves are deemed too stringy and are said to taste like sap; Eloths are considered too flimsy to survive more than one run down the field; Halflings are off-limits for unknown reasons; Dwarves are an unknown commodity at this juncture in time, though it is said that will change soon; S'kra Mur are thought to be the next best thing to humans, as their tails make for powerful windups for passes down-field. It is unthinkable that a Tog would be used as the ball.
For official play, more options are available. Convicted felons are one possible source of balls. As mentioned above, faenrae reavers, goblins, and creatures of that ilk have been used often. Basically, it seems to be whatever happens to be handy at the time the game is started that ends up deciding just what the ball will be.
Blunt weapons are the only weapons allowed on the playing field. Missile weapons, other than the thrown ball are also proscribed.
A point is scored when a ball is successfully carried alive between the posts by any player except for the Splitter.
The use of magic is prohibited; failure to comply will result in the forfeiture of the match by the team who was responsible for the casting.
It is illegal to deliberately cripple the ball while holding it. It is legal, however, to use the ball to parry with, or to release it and try to injure it while it attempts to flee.
A team may not enter the opposing team's Blood Zone unless the ball is first carried into it by one of their players.
Head-Splitters may not leave their own Blood Zone.
It is illegal for players to assault spectators. It is legal, however, for spectators to throw items at the players in an effort to distract them from their opponents (daggers, arrows, spears are not legal for spectator usage; rocks, bottles, thrown Halflings, etc. are legal).
If a player is injured or killed while on the field of play, replacements may not enter the field until the body is rolled, kicked, dragged or carried off the field by the player's team.
Failure to comply with any of the given rules results in a foul being asses sed to the offending team. The opposing team receives the ball at mid-field, and is allowed one play to enter the opposing team's Blood Zone without interference. Once in the Zone, anything goes.
If the ball loses consciousness while being carried, it is considered a foul, with a new ball being brought into play by the opposing team.
If the ball dies while in play, a foul is called with point being given to the opposing team.
If the ball dies while being carried through the posts, it is not considered a foul, but the point is not awarded. This supercedes the above rule regarding balls dying while in play.