Referees, Infractions and Incentives


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

Referees, Infractions and Incentives

Referees and the illegal actions they deal with can either play a large part in the game, a small part in the game, or no part in the game, depending on the preferences of the coaches. This section describes a basic set of rules for fouling and illegal actions, and rules for how to use referee models in the game.

The basic reason to have rules for referees in the game is because a necessary part of the game is fouling, i.e. hitting a player who is lying prone on the ground. Without fouling, lying prone makes a player untouchable, which can be both clumsy and impractical for gameplay. Having a ref able to punish players for fouling adds a characterful risk element to balance out the fact that fouling is possible. But the idea of the ref can be used for much more, in addition to the basic fouling principle.


The following sections relate to the rules for how referees function in the abstract, how they send players off with penalties and how they can interact with the game board in general.

"I Got My Eye On You"

In order to use the rules presented here, the referee system known as "I Got My Eye On You" must be used. This system revolves around a concept known as the "eye of the ref". The eye is represented by a token, normally a referee model, which can either be placed near the center of the table, or next to the dug-out of one of the teams. At the beginning of the game, the eye token is near the center of the table and is not focused on either team. The first time a player commits a rules infraction, after the infraction has been resolved, the eye token is moved to that team's dug-out. For the remainder of the game, whenever a player commits an infraction, the eye is moved away from its current location and over to the offending team's dug-out (if it wasn't there already) after the infraction has been resolved. The location of the eye of the ref influences the infraction rolls made when players commit rules infractions - see below for details.

Infractions and Infraction Levels

There are several ways that a player can break the rules and risk getting sent off by the referee. The most basic of these ways is to commit a foul, i.e. to kick a player while he is down. Other ways are using secret weapons, magic items or sorcery, all of which are explained in detail later on.

From a referee's perspective, these different rules infractions belong to different levels of severity. The most severe infractions are called major infractions, and less offensive infractions are called minor infractions. All infractions attract the eye of the ref as described above, and may also include a penalty roll. If the penalty roll successfully rolls the number indicated below, the player who committed the infraction will be teleported out of the dungeon and sent off for the rest of the game. (When this happens, the coach of the player may “argue the call” with the referee. When doing this, roll a D6. On a 6, the ref changes his mind and the penalty is cancelled. On a 1, the coach is barred from further interference and can no longer argue the call for the rest of the game.)

Major infractions include fouling and the use of secret weapons. When a player commits a major infraction while the eye of the ref is not on his team, he attracts the eye of the ref, and is sent off on a D6 roll of a 6. When a player commits a major infraction while the eye of the ref is already on his team, he is sent off the field on a D6 roll of a 4+.

Minor infractions include most magic items and the use of sorcery. When a player commits a minor infraction while the eye of the ref is not on his team, there is no penalty roll, and the only consequence is that the eye of the ref is transferred onto his team. When a player commits a minor infraction while the eye of the ref is already on his team, he is sent off the field on a D6 roll of a 6.

On-Site Referees

The premise of the referee rules normally used in the game is that the referee is watching the game along with the fans on magical monitors, and therefore interacts with the game and sends players off from a remote location. However, it is also possible to have the referee be physically present in the dungeon with the players if you wish, which adds some new complications and new options to the gameplay.

If all coaches agree, you may choose to have one or more on-site referees present during a game. To do this, you must place a number of referee models in the dungeon before the game starts. The players can either mutually agree on the number of refs present, or you can roll a D6 to determine a number: 1-3 = one ref, 4-5 = two refs, 6 = three refs.

The players can either mutually agree on where in the dungeon the referees should start, or you can randomly place them by rolling to pick a teleporter, then rolling for scatter three times to find a final location for each ref.

On-Site Ref Activations: Once the game starts, referees have an activation phase after each player has finished their turn. This phase comes before the monster activation phase, if any monsters are present (see the Wandering Monsters section). The ref models are moved by the player whose turn just ended, and the movement is voluntary, not mandatory. If players forget to move the ref models, they simply stay where they are.

Ref models may move a number of squares each activation equal to half the MA characteristic of a normal lineman of his race (rounding down), and will never move into a square with a ball, a teleporter, a trap, or into a player’s tackle zone (including monsters, even though they don’t have a TZ). Refs do not have a tackle zone themselves and neither block nor tackle players. While the ball is not yet revealed, the refs may be moved in any direction, but once one or more balls have been revealed from chests, any ref movement must be made so that the ref ends up closer to a ball than when he started moving – moving away from the ball is not allowed.

If a ref ever begins his activation in the tackle zone of one or more players, the ref will consider that player to be obstructing his work and slap the player with a minor infraction (roll to pick a random target if ref is in more than one TZ). This will take up the entire activation of that ref.

On-Site Refs and Infractions: The primary reason that refs are present in the dungeon is so they can spot rules infractions easier. This means that whenever a player commits an infraction within six squares and in line of sight of a standing ref model, a minor infraction counts as a major infraction, and a major infraction gets +2 to the roll to see if the player is sent off (so a 4+ without the eye and a 2+ with the eye). Models and obstacles do not block line of sight for this purpose, only walls.

Note that the normal rules still apply for infractions committed anywhere in the dungeon, even if there is no ref within six squares.

Attacking the On-Site Ref: Having refs around in the dungeon is obviously a bad deal for players who like to break the rules. However, the upside to the presence of the ref in the dungeon is that the ref becomes much more accessible for players with aggressive tendencies to do something about him.

Players who are sent off with a penalty are teleported out of the dungeon immediately, so they don’t get a chance to vent their frustrations in person. However, any player may attack the ref by any means available while they are still in play. Attacking a ref works just like attacking an opposing player. If the ref remains standing after the attack, the attacking player is sent off automatically. If the ref is knocked down, he will use his next activation to stand up, and will then automatically send off the nearest player within three squares (roll off if multiple eligible targets). If the ref is knocked down and fails his armour roll (or fails his armour roll from some other kind of attack), the ref is automatically removed from play for the rest of the game. Removing a ref from the game with an attack earns the attacking player 2 SPPs, in the same way as taking out a monster (the similarities are not a coincidence).

If the ref ever has to make some kind of choice connected with an attack, such as if a Snotling referee has Side Step, then the choice must be made by the opposing coach of the player making the attack.

If the game ends up with all on-site referees removed from play, then referee interference has effectively been removed from the game. The eye of the ref token is removed, and no player will be sent off for the rest of the game for any reason. 

Note: If both coaches are interested in a brutal and underground feel to the game, they can agree that they have paid off the ref to keep his nose out before the game started. If so, consider the game to have no referee from the beginning, so no player will be sent off for any infraction from turn one, and anything goes.

On-Site Ref Characteristics: Because refs are neutral parties in games of Dungeonbowl, just like monsters, their characteristics can be determined any way you like. However, it makes sense to choose an appropriate referee model, and then giving the model the appropriate characteristics of a lineman of the race the model belongs to, possibly taking off a point of AV to represent that the ref does not wear body armour. Note that AG is normally irrelevant for refs, since they never dodge or handle the ball. It is however relevant to keep track of skills like Block and Dodge for situations where player vs. ref combat occurs.

Dirty Tactics and Special Arrangements

Even though Dungeonbowl is won or lost by the players down in the mud, coaches can get involved in all kinds of activity behind the scenes that can significantly alter the odds in their team's favour in either the long term or the short term.

Behind the scenes activity can be divided into two rough categories. Dirty Tactics and Special Arrangements. The difference between them is that Dirty Tactics are purchased with gold, and Special Arrangements are rewards for when a weaker team plays against a stronger team.

Both rules are optional, and only relevant if both coaches agree or the league commissioner allows them.

Dirty Tactics

Any coach may choose to invoke up to three dirty tactics of their choice before the start of a game. Each tactic invoked costs 30,000 gold, and a tactic may be invoked multiple times.

  • Assassination: An assassin is sent to take out a key player from the opposition during his free time. The invoking player may choose a player on the opposing team and roll a D6. On a 4+, the selected player is affected, but on a 1-3, the assassin gets confused and a randomly chosen player on the team is affected instead (which may end up being the selected player after all). Once an affected player has been found, roll a D6. On a roll of 1, nothing happens, on a 2-5, the affected player must miss the game, and on the roll of a 6, the player must both miss the game, and the invoking coach gets to make a roll on the Casualty table and apply the result to the affected player.

  • Bribing the Press: The invoking coach has bribed the commentators to talk up his team during the game. After the game, the invoking team is awarded one additional MVP award, and also gains a +1 modifier to its Fan Factor roll.

  • Experimental Drugs: The invoking coach is slipped some illegal drugs under the table that make their players highly resilient to injury. When any player on the invoking team is KO'd or becomes a casualty during the game, roll a D6. On a roll of 4+, a KO'd result is changed to Stunned, and a Casualty result is changed to KO'd. Invoking this tactic multiple times adds +1 to the roll each time.

Special Arrangements: When a team is matched up to play against a team that is richer and more experienced, coaches are often inspired to go the extra mile behind the scenes to work for the team's survival. In a two-player game, for each 15 points of team rating that one team has more than the other team, the lower ranking ("underdog") team may invoke one special arrangement as described below, up to a maximum of three arrangements in total. The same arrangement may be chosen more than once. 

  • Extra Training: Having worked extra hard to prepare, the underdog team gains a free Team Re-roll to use for this game. Also, during the post-game resolution, the underdog coach may purchase a new permanent Team Re-roll for half price, i.e. the normal price for a starting team. This cost reduction is not cumulative.

  • Medical Insurance: The underdog coach manages to temporarily procure the services of a team of superstar apothecaries pro bono. After the game, any player on the underdog team that is scheduled to miss the next game due to an injury is fully recovered, and may play in the next game as normal. Additionally, the underdog coach may pick any player on their team and cure a single permanent injury that player suffers from (i.e. one niggling injury or attribute loss - death does not count as an injury).

  • Sponsorship Deal: The underdog coach has struck a special one-time sponsorship deal, and will be paid an additional D6 x 10,000 gold crowns after the game.

Last updated in March 2018