Dungeon Features and Variables


Expanded rules and hobby ideas for the board game of dungeon fantasy football

Dungeon Features and Variables

The most defining feature of Dungeonbowl is that it is played in a dungeon. Dungeons come in many different shapes and sizes, and can be set up using many different methods. This section is divided into three subsections - Dungeon Basics, Dungeon Features, and Dungeon Variables.

Normally all aspects of dungeon design and rules are mutually agreed upon by the coaches playing in advance of the game. However, the coaches may also wish to have a neutral league commissioner or GM set up the dungeon and determine the variables for them instead. Such a GM can also take direct control of NPC models like monsters and referees, and generally help the coaches out by taking on all the responsibilities of dungeon interactions and leaving the coaches to only take actions and make dice rolls for their own players.

The rules on this (quite long) page are arranged as follows.

Dungeon Basics

  • Dungeon Building
  • Extra Coaches and Teams

Dungeon Features

  • Doors and Doorways
  • Chasms
  • Obstacles
  • Lava and Water
  • Magical Inscriptions
  • Secret Passages
  • Elevated Platforms

Dungeon Variables

  • Ball Variants
  • Multiball Games
  • Traps

Dungeon Basics

The first thing you need to play Dungeonbowl is a dungeon. You can either build one yourself, or use a pre-made boardgame dungeon board system.

Before building your dungeon, it is important to remember that the primary function of the board is to provide the setting for an entertaining game between two or more coaches. As such, unless the dungeon is created and run by a GM, the coaches should work together to set up the dungeon in a mutually agreed fashion, and all features and variables must be agreed upon by all coaches in the game in order to be used.

Dungeon Building

Generally all dungeons are made up of a number of tiles, where each tile consists of a number of squares. One tile per team playing has to have an end zone section indicated, with each end zone being assigned to one team as their home end zone. The end zones will then be connected to each other by a number of dungeon tiles, and these tiles make up the body of the dungeon.

Normally it is most convenient for the tiles to be separate, so that you can combine them in different ways (as found in such games as Warhammer Quest or Advanced Heroquest), but you can also play the game in a permanently fixed dungeon made up of a single large tile/board if you prefer. An example of a dungeon game with a single fixed dungeon board is Heroquest, and the Heroquest board should be very suitable to play Dungeonbowl in, as long as you add some designated end zones, teleporters and so on.

The only base requirement for your dungeon is that it is divided into suitable sized squares for moving the miniatures around on, and that it has defined end zones where the teams start out.

Chests and teleporters: Before a game starts, the dungeon is furnished with a number of chests and a number of teleporters, where the standard is six of each, but this number can be increased in the case of larger dungeons. The teleporters need to be numbered in such a fashion that a random teleporter can be determined using a die, and the chests need to be devised in such a way that you can randomly determine when any chest is opened whether that chest was the one chest in the dungeon containing the ball.

Extra Coaches and Teams

Though the game is usually played with just two opposing teams, it is very possible to play with more, though four teams is probably about the practical limit unless you want a very long game. The only essential requirement for increasing the number of teams is that each team needs its own separate end zone, which is where the players from that team will set up at the beginning of the game. Before the start of the game, determine which order the teams activate in in any mutually agreeable fashion.

The default extra-team game is a free-for-all where the first team to score wins, but if you have an even number of teams, you can also choose to group them into sides, and have two allied teams vs. another two allied teams (for example). When using sides, you can choose to have either one coach per team, or having a single coach control all the teams on his side.

Dungeon Features

Features are any of a number of permanent physical additions to the dungeon, which can be considered to be the dungeon's built-in terrain. No features are necessary, and all features used should be marked on the board by special models or painted tiles. Chests and teleporters can be considered the base dungeon features that are present in every game, and the rest of the ones presented here are optional.

Doors and Doorways

As seen in the original Dungeonbowl game, dungeons are obvious places to put lots of doors. There are essentially two types of possible door-related constructions - doors and doorways.

Both doors and doorways have in common that they come in two varieties. One type of door takes up a full square on the board, and the other acts like a barrier between two squares without taking up a square itself. Doors that take up a square count as a wall when closed and a normal square when open, whereas doors that act as barriers simply prevent all movement between the squares on either side of it while closed.

Doorways are either door frames with no actual door in them, doors with the door smashed off, or open doors. The only distinguishing characteristic of a doorway is that only models that can physically fit their head and shoulders through them (ignoring protruding arms) can pass through. This means that most big guys cannot pass through normal-sized doorways, though they can pass through large gates.

Doors are doorways with doors in them. All such doors start the game closed. During the game, any player adjacent to a door may try to open it. The first time any player tries to open a given door, roll a D6. On a roll of a 1, the door is locked and cannot be opened for the rest of the game - the only way to open it is to smash it (see below). Otherwise, the door can be opened at a cost of three points of movement (they are big and heavy doors). Unlocked doors may be closed again in the same manner, costing three points of movement.

If a door is locked, or the player simply doesn't want to open it normally, a player may block the door instead exactly as though it was a player. A door has a ST of 4, unless it is a reinforced iron gate (by GM or coach agreement), in which case it has a ST of 5. Doors can never be pushed back, but any roll that would knock the door down instead smashes it open, making it permanently open for the rest of the game. Note that it is possible to knock yourself down trying to break down a door.


A chasm is the name given to any square that is considered to represent a deep deep hole, that once you fall into, you don't come back out. Whether the bottom is thought to be endless, filled with lava, covered in spikes, or simply hard stone floor, the effect is the same. Such features are usually found as crevices or fissures that run across a length of dungeon section.

Whenever a player moves or is pushed into a chasm square, roll a D6 and consult the following table:

1: The player is rescued magically and is placed in the Reserves box of his team's dugout, though he may not teleport back into the dungeon this turn.

2-5: The player is rescued magically, but is temporarily lost in space. The player is removed from play, but may rejoin his team without injury after the game.

6: The player is not rescued magically and falls to his (permanent) death. Remove him from the team roster.


Dungeon obstacles are things like statues and big rocks, which do not block passage completely, but do get in the way. To represent this, a player may not enter a square with such an obstacle, but LOS may be drawn through it. The ball may be passed over obstacle squares, but there is a chance it will hit the obstacle; roll a D6 for each obstacle square the ball passes through, starting with the square closest to the thrower. On a roll of 1 the ball hits the obstacle, halting its flight, scattering once from that square, and causing a turnover.

Lava and Water

Lava squares and water squares are squares that replace a section of normal squares. Use the following rules when players interact with these squares by moving onto them.

Lava: The floor is hot and burns! If a player either moves off or is pushed off a lava square, or ends his movement on one, he must make an armour roll with a -1 modifier to avoid injury. No roll needs to be made for either moving onto such a square or starting your movement on one. Any player who is Stunned while on a lava square is automatically KO'd instead.

Water: Water squares represent waist-deep areas of muddy water, which are difficult to move around in. Moving off (not onto) a water square always counts as moving up one level of stairs (see the Elevated Platforms section below). All AG rolls made while standing on or moving off a water square have a -1 penalty. Any player who is Stunned while on a water square is automatically KO'd instead, and players with the Titchy ability are automatically KO'd if they ever enter a water square. Other than the negative AG modifier, Leap movement distance is unaffected by water squares.

Magical Inscriptions

Some squares in the dungeon may be inscribed with magical runes belonging to one of the colleges of magic, runes which are normally connected in a circle pattern representing the wheel of magic.

While a player is standing on a square that is fully or partially inscribed with the magical rune of his college, he gains the following bonuses and options.

  • The player gains +1 ST and the Stand Firm ability.
  • The player may spend one point of movement to instantly teleport to any other square that is fully or partially inscribed with the magical rune of his college in the dungeon.
  • The player may release the bound spell The Winds of Magic in place of a block action. The spell requires a succesful AG roll to release. Once released, the player may choose one of the following two effects.

- All players in the dungeon without the Stand Firm ability are immediately placed prone.

- All players in the dungeon that are stunned or prone immediately stand up.

The Winds of Magic spell is bound to a magical circle of connected inscriptions. Each such magical circle can only be used to release the spell once per game.

Secret Passages

A secret passage is an invisible passageway which connects one area of the dungeon with another through a (possibly magical) portal, normally represented by a set of trap doors. Most commonly, these passages are used to link a two sections of dungeon that are not otherwise connected.

To add a secret passage to a dungeon, you first need a pair of "portal" tokens for each passage, which should both be marked by the same distinct symbol so you can tell that these two tokens belong together. When you have the tokens, you can place them on appropriate squares within the dungeon. A portal square counts as a normal. unoccupied square for the purposes of all interactions other than the special movement described below. 

During the game, a player who is standing on a portal square can spend one point of movement to move into the secret passage. The passage is an abstract location that counts as a single square, but place the player off the board near the portal token. Once a player is inside the passage between two portals, he can spend two points of movement to move to the square of either portal. So moving all the way from one portal square to the corresponding other portal square costs three points of movement in total.

A player inside the passage can both block and be blocked by a player who is standing on either portal square. A player inside a passage cannot benefit from either offensive or defensive assists. A player blocking a player inside a passage also cannot use offensive assists, but a player being blocked by someone inside a passage can benefit from defensive assists as normal. If a player on a portal square pushes a player inside the passage, the only square they can be pushed to is the portal square on the other side. If a player inside the passage pushes a player on one of the portal squares, the target can be pushed in any direction.

Portal use is voluntary during a player’s activation, and portal squares can be stepped on and moved over with no consequences. However, a player who pushes a target that is standing on a portal square can choose to push the target into the passage.


Elevated Platforms

Another way to create multiple levels of a dungeon is to construct platforms that are raised above the rest of the dungeon, and connected by steps and ladders. Elevated platforms are treated just like normal squares for the purposes of movement. However, any square that is raised off the ground level (or any lower level) by more than the height of a human player counts as an elevated square. The following rules relate to how elevated squares interact with ground squares.

Platform Interaction: Players on an elevated platform may not interact with players on the ground by blocking, handing off the ball, attacking with a secret weapon or anything similar - only passing the ball (or a bomb, or a player) up and down levels is allowed, provided there is line of sight. In the case of steps in between levels (see below), the first level of step separated from any surface counts as being on the same level as that surface in all respects. Second and additional levels counts as separate platforms and follows the rules above. If the presence of platforms creates passages underneath them on lower levels, only players that can physically fit into those spaces may move into them.

Falling: Any player that moves off an elevated square and onto the ground, either voluntarily or not, is knocked down in the square they move into. If the square they land on is occupied by a player, consult the Player Collisions section. Whenever the ball scatters off an elevated square and onto the ground, and doesn't land on a player, it bounces three times before coming to a rest, just like a missed pass.

Passing: Passing the ball up a level subtracts -1 from the passing roll, and passing it down a level adds +1 to the roll.

Leaping: A player making a leap may ignore one level of steps when leaping up or down them. Additional levels of steps may only be leapt over when moving downwards, and each extra step beyond the first subtracts a -1 from the AG roll. So if a player with the Leap skill wants to leap for three squares, that would normally be a -1 AG roll, but if two of those squares are steps leading down from a platform, it would be a -2 roll instead.

A player may also leap down an entire floor from an elevated platform to the ground. However, the distance from the platform to the ground counts as one square of movement in itself, and the falling danger subtracts an additional -1 from the AG roll.

Climbing Steps: Stairs connecting a platform with the ground always take the form of a number of stepped squares on the board that must be moved up and down to get to the platforms. A step requires two squares of movement to move onto or down from. A player may also try and rush the stairs, in which case a step may be traversed using just one point of movement. However, that player must make a Go For It roll after each step moved onto or from in this way, falling over on a roll of 1. If the player was trying to move up the stairs, he falls over in the square he was moving from, and if he was moving down, he falls in the square he was moving to.


Climbing Ladders: Ladders may be used to climb up and down walls and onto (or down from) an elevated platform. Ladders are divided into squares by their rungs, and each square should be approximately the same size as a board square. To climb up a ladder, a player must use a number of movement points equal to the number of rungs on the ladder. For example, if a player wishes to move up from a ground square to an elevated square using a ladder with three rungs, it would use up four squares of movement in total to do so - three squares for the ladder itself, and a fourth square to get off the ladder and onto the platform. Ladders cannot be partially climbed - if a player is not able or willing to use all the movement required, the ladder cannot be used.

Multiple Elevation Levels: The rules above assume just a single elevated platform level in the dungeon. If your dungeon has multiple elevated levels, use the additional rules as described below.

Usually, the first dungeon level that is elevated above ground level will be located at two, three or four steps above the ground, where each step is about the height of a board square (so 30mm or so). If you have elevated levels that are higher than that, denote the height of these by giving each level a number. So if the first level is three squares up, that is elevation level one, then the second level is another three squares up, that is elevation level two, and so on. If your first elevated level is more than four squares high, your first level would start at elevation level two, and so on.

The reason for this distinction is that as the levels get higher, they are harder for the players to get around. Apply the following rules if your dungeon features more than one elevated level, or if each level is more than four vertical squares separated from the level below it.

  • A player can only leap from a platform to the ground if the distance is a single elevation level. Trying to leap down more than one elevation level means the Leap roll automatically fails.

  • If a player is knocked down from a fall of more than one elevation level, the armour roll has a +2 modifier and the injury roll has a +1 modifier for each level above the first. So falling from elevation level two to the ground incurs an armour roll with a +2 (injury +1) modifier, falling from elevation level three to the ground incurs an armour roll with a +4 (injury +2) modifier, etc.   


Dungeon Variables

Variables is the term for various "settings" for the dungeon that aren't represented by permanent architectural additions to the dungeon terrain, but rather modifications and additions to the rules with which the dungeon behaves when being played in. If dungeon features are the terrain of the dungeon, the dungeon variables are its scenario. Both players should agree on what variables to use or not use before each game.

Ball Variants

One simple variant is to say that the ball used in the game is not necessarily going to be a normal ball. The rules below describe a range of different ball types and their effect, and the players can either simply agree on the type of ball they want to use before the game, or roll a D6 when the ball is found to decide its type.

Roll and type:   1-2: Normal ball.    3: Spiked ball.    4: Enchanted ball.    5: Living ball.    6: Iron ball.   

Spiked balls: Spiked balls are made of wood instead of pigskin, and are covered in cruel metal spikes. When passing a spiked ball, the range is increased by one band. Any player who is occupying the square in which a ball lands after being passed, or who makes a successful interception, must immediately make an AG roll. If the ball was thrown by a friendly player, the AG roll has a +1 modifier, and if it was thrown by an opposing player, the roll has a -1 modifier. If the AG roll fails, the player must make an armour roll to avoid injury. If the AG or armour roll is passed, the player may roll to catch the ball normally.

Furthermore, when a player carrying a spiked ball knocks down an opposing player with a block, the player may add +1 to either the armour or injury roll for the knocked down player (which is cumulative with both Mighty Blow and the smashing into walls bonus).

Enchanted Balls: These balls are attracted to the touch of players, but are also mischievous and unpredictable. All AG rolls to pick up or catch an enchanted ball gain +1 to the roll. However, whenever a player picks up or catches an enchanted ball, roll a D6. On a roll of a 1, immediately teleport that player onto a random teleporter.

Living Balls: These balls have legs, and tend to run around when they're not being held. When a living ball is in an empty square at the end of any team's turn, move it D6 squares in a direction indicated by the scatter dice, stopping if it would contact an occupied square, trap, lava/water square, or fall off a ledge.

Iron Balls: These balls are made of solid iron. Iron balls cannot be thrown, and a player carrying one suffers -1 to all AG rolls and cannot Go For It. Players with a ST of 1 cannot pick up an iron ball. If an iron ball falls off an elevated platform and onto a player's head, the impacted player is automatically knocked down.

Multiball Games

If the coaches agree before the game, the game may feature more than a single ball hidden in the chests. Make the appropriate changes to the tokens or dice rolls used to indicate the right number of balls. A good increased number is three, since an uneven number reduces the risk of a tie. A player can hold up to two balls at a time, unless they have the physical characteristics of Extra Arms or Tentacles, in which case they can hold up to three. Only a single ball can be passed as part of a pass action.

Standard Multiball: The default mode of multiball is that the game continues until all the balls have been used to score a touchdown, and the team that scored the most touchdowns wins. Once a ball has been used to score a touchdown, it vanishes, and the team that scored suffers a turnover. However, if you wish for a shorter game, you could also agree that the first team to score a touchdown with any of the balls wins. 

Illusionary Multiball: In this multiball game variant, only one of the multiple balls is real, and the rest are indistinguishable illusionary copies. Whenever a ball is used to score a touchdown, randomly determine if it was the real ball or an illusion (so if there are three balls in the game, the first ball used to score will have a 1/3 chance of being the real ball, for example, and the last ball in play will always be the real ball). If a ball turns out to be an illusion, it vanishes and causes a turnover as normal, but a touchdown is not scored. Play continues until the real ball has been used to score a touchdown. 


Traps are a traditional feature of most dungeons, and a favourite of fans of all ages. What proper dungeon doesn’t house a collection of deadly traps, and a dragon or two?

To use traps in games of Dungeonbowl, you first need to make a collection of trap tokens. Trap tokens should be blank or otherwise identical on one side, and have an illustration of the type of trap it represents on the other side, just like how the chest counters have a chest icon on one side and either a ball or an explosion on the other side. There is no fixed number or specific types of traps needed for these rules, the users can make up the composition of their trap collection any way they like.

Once you have the tokens, at the beginning of a game, the players should agree on whether to use traps or not. If they choose to use traps in the game, they should then agree how many traps the game should feature – about 12 will give you enough for them to be a general nuisance without disrupting the game too much. Choose the traps with the blank side up, and distribute them in the dungeon in the same way as chest counters, with the players taking turns choosing where to place each trap. As with the chest counters, the nature of each trap should be unknown to both players until it is revealed.

Trap counters should be considered to represent special dungeon tiles that are primed to trigger a trap when stepped on. When the first model moves or is pushed onto a trap square during the game, the trap counter is revealed, and the trap effects are triggered. Some traps remain in play after being revealed, while others are a one-time only effect. The following list provides a selection of trap types that can be used, but coaches are encouraged to modify these or make up their own.

Pit Traps: The simplest kind of trap is just a trap door leading to a pit. Pit traps stay in place after being revealed. Any player moved onto a pit square falls in, which counts as being pushed off a ledge (i.e. the player is knocked down and must make an armour roll to avoid injury). Once a player is in a pit, he then has to climb out again. Climbing out takes up a full movement activation, and requires a successful AG roll. This roll gets +1 for each friendly player that is adjacent to the pit and not in an opponent’s tackle zone. If the roll fails, the player has to stay in the pit for another turn. Balls can never fall into pits, and simply scatter over them.

Spiked Pit Traps: Spiked pit traps are just like the pit traps described above, except that the armour roll caused by falling into the pit is made with a +3 modifier, and the injury roll has a +1 modifier.

Note: If either type of pit trap is found on an elevated platform, where there is an accessible square on a lower dungeon level immediately below the trap square, then instead of functioning like a pit, the trap functions as a hole that drops the player onto the lower level below instead (following the normal falling rules). The spiked pit still inflicts its extra damage though (consider them to be retractable spikes that shoot out of the ground when a player falls through the hole).

Exploding Traps: This trap type is identical to the traps built into exploding chests. A player moving onto an exploding trap square is knocked down, as are all players in adjacent squares. An exploding trap is removed after being revealed.

Gas Traps: Similar to the exploding trap, the gas trap instead releases a cloud of noxious gas. The triggering player and all players in adjacent squares are automatically stunned. Players with a ST of 5 or more have some natural resistance, and are only stunned on a roll of 4+ on a D6. On a 1-3, the player is unaffected. Like the exploding trap, gas traps are removed after being revealed.   

Teleporter Traps: A teleporter trap will teleport away any player that moves onto it, moving the player onto one of the numbered teleporters in the dungeon as randomly determined by a dice roll. Teleporter traps remain in play after being revealed.

Trampoline Traps: When a player moves onto a trampoline trap, the player immediately makes an involuntary leap from the trap square, leaping D3 squares in a direction indicated by the scatter die, and stopping if he contacts a wall (but not an obstacle). The leap automatically fails, so the player is knocked down and must make an armour roll to avoid injury, and may collide with other players. If the player has the Acrobatics skill, he is allowed to try to make an unmodified AG roll to stay on his feet after landing. This trap stays on the board after being revealed.

Last updated in March 2018