Snowball Fighting

Snowball Fighting was originally conceived and written by Dom Elias, Trevor Mendham and Alex Zbyslaw.

This Print-friendly PDF version of the rules also contains a garden map. It was produced by Mike Dean and taken from issue 17 of Psychopath.

Snowball Fighting is a game for two to six players. It recreates a hectic snowball fight which took place in a back garden in Old Coulsdon, at the height of a typical British summer. Since most of the fabled participants have long since retreated in to obscurity the game has been updated to fit a more recent mythos.

1. Start

Each player in these "Stockbroker Belt" battles plays one combatant, starting the game with a name, two "simple snowballs" and ten Hit Points.

2. Names

If desired, players may invent a nom de guerre under which to play. Some appropriate, if unoriginal, choices are: Snow Warrior, Jack Frost, and Winter Wolf.

3. Objective

The objective is to win, nothing surprising there. Victory is achieved by being the first warrior to inflict fifteen points of damage on your foes (Victory Points are in general awarded one for one with damage inflicted exception Mendham Maniac). The amount of damage absorbed by a player is irrelevant, except that it may doom them to spend time in the kitchen drying out, and that it is contributing to the victory of other players. Should two or more players reach 15VPs in the same segment then there is a joint victory (they all retire to the kitchen for a joint).

4. The Game

The game is played in turns of three segments, players writing orders for all three segments of a turn on receiving the results of the previous turn. Players perform one "action" per segment (see rule 5 below) and thus have three consecutive actions per turn. Conditional orders are not allowed, but see optional rule 13.

5. Actions

Players perform one action per segment, and thus must write orders for three actions per turn. All actions in a segment are taken simultaneously, but all moves completed before any snowballs are "collected", and all snowballs are "collected" before any are "thrown". When throwing snowballs, range is calculated by the shortest route. This route may not pass through a conifer hex. Shots are allowed over "The Shed" but hit probability is halved.

The possible actions in a segment are:

  1. MOVE. A player may move up to four hexes from where they stand, stating the reference number of all hexes passed through. When moving along the path, all movement is doubled. Thus a player starting their turn next to the path, could move onto the path, four hexes up it, then off again. When moving a player may carry a maximum of two simple snowballs or one Doubleday Dirigible.
  2. COLLECT. The player may collect up to two simple snowballs, or one Doubleday Dirigible per segment. The player states which type of snowball they wish to collect. Snowballs cannot be collected on the path.
  3. COLLECT AND MOVE. The two previous actions may be combined. A player is considered to have four "Movement Factors" per segment. Moving one hex takes one MF, collecting a simple snowball 2MF and collecting a Doubleday Dirigible 4MF. MFs may be expended in any order, up to four per segment.
  4. ROGERSON RATTLESNAKE. A basic, no holds barred combat throw, straight at the jaw.
    Range: 6 hexes  Hit Prob: 80%  Damage: 1HP  Ammo: 1SS
    The player may state either a specific target or "nearest opponent". In the latter case the Hit Prob is reduced by 10%.
  5. BAKER BOUNCE. More or less accurate but combining a bit of bouncing around to put opponents off.
    Range: 4 hexes  Hit Prob: 60%  Damage: 1HP  Ammo: 1SS
    The player must state a specific target, and may either bounce one hex after throwing, or bounce pretty much on the spot. In the latter case 25% is deducted from the Hit Prob of anyone throwing at the player that segment.
  6. BOWEN BOLERO. A completely sneaky and underhand manoeuvre, attempting to hit two targets in one segment. The player must name two specific targets, and throws a simple snowball at each. This kind of action makes you more open to attack hence any direct shots at the player that segment are at +10%
    Range: 4 hexes  Hit Prob: 50% each  Damage: 1HP  Ammo: 2SS
  7. MENDHAM MANIAC. The last desperate attempt of an unarmoured warrior, who scoops handfuls of snow and throws them wildly in the air at all and sundry. This incorporates a bewilderment factor, reducing opponents Hit Prob by 5% that segment. Any player within two hexes may take one point of damage (25% chance) but no VPs are awarded.
    Range: 2 hexes  Hit Prob: 25%  Damage: 1HP  Ammo: None
  8. DOUBLEDAY DIRIGIBLE. The lobbing of a thoroughly excessive, football-sized snowball up, up and away, then down, down, down the neck of an opponent. The Dirigible must be aimed at a specific target.
    Range: 3 hexes  Hit Prob: 55%  Damage: 3HP  Ammo: 1DD
  9. CONIFER STORM. An attempt to hit a conifer and dislodge all the snow, causing it to cover the hexes surrounding the conifer. There is a 70% chance of the snow dislodging. Anyone in the main conifer hex will suffer two points of damage, and anyone in the surrounding hexes will suffer one point of damage.
    Range: 4 hexes  Hit Prob: 90%/70%  Damage: 2 or 1HP  Ammo: 1SS
  10. SHED AVALANCHE. Drop a big snowball on the shed roof and watch it avalanche... The player must state which side of the shed they wish to try and set off. North or South. If the snowball hits the shed, there is an 80% change of an avalanche occurring, and 80% of the time it will be on the intended side. Everyone on the receiving end of such a snow drop (i.e. in the hexes marked "N" and "S") will suffer 2HP damage.
    Range: 2 hexes  HitProb: 80%/80%/80%  Damage: 2HP  Ammo: 1DD

6. The Board

link to map image

The board is divided into hexes. Note that the system is orthogonal; thus snowmen are on B12 and Q3. Only one player may occupy a hex, although any number may pass through (even if the occupying player isn't moving). If two or more players attempt to end up on the same hex in the same segment, the faster gets it and the slower stays one hex away. If they are equally fast, the player to get to the hex first is determined at random (many tealeaves will be studied). A player collecting snowballs is slower than one who is not. Players may submit preference lists for start hexes, but GMs feeling lazy may choose to ignore them. These start hexes are A7, C1, I13, S1, W5, W9.

7. Board Features

The board features are obvious from the map. Note just that L6 is safe from Shed Avalanches, the path is clear from snow, and that snowmen's heads serve as Doubleday Dirigibles. And to state the bleedin' obvious, you can't storm the same conifer twice, avalanche the same side of the shed roof twice, nor use snowmen's heads more that once. The Kitchen Door is one hex down from W11. Inside the kitchen it is a safe, warm place for cowards to hide.

8. Snowballs

Once "collected" snowballs will last indefinitely; it's very cold and I'm not into calculating half-lives. Players may carry two simple snowballs or one Dirigible. Any excess stash left behind when a player moves is trampled underfoot. Warning remember to pick snowballs up before you leave. Thrown snowballs disintegrate back into snow when they land, and are useless except to make new snowballs.

9. Hit Points

When a player is reduced to zero Hit Points they must move as quickly as possible to the Kitchen. If this happens part way through a turn, the GM will ignore remaining orders and move the player towards the kitchen. Whilst running kitchenwards, players are immune to attacks, no one would stoop that low, after all. After three segments drying socks, the player scoops two simple snowballs from the kitchen windowsill and returns to the fray with 10HP.

10. Diplomacy

If you really want to diplome, who am I to stop you. Press is actively encouraged, witty press even more so.

11. NMRs

A player NMRing will stand and admire the sky. Attacks upon this player are at +10%. A player NMRing for the second consecutive turn will run to the kitchen at full speed, ne'er to return. Such a player is a legitimate target until they do reach the aforementioned haven.

12. Optional: 00 Spells Disaster

If a player rolls 00 on any throw, they slip and break all their snowballs, take 2HP damage and spend one segment recovering.

13. Optional: Conditional Orders

If desired by the players, the orders for the last segment in a turn only, may be made conditional on anything that has happened in the first two segments. Any hit probs resulting from conditional orders will be at -10%.

14. Optional: Slip Sliding Away

Any player moving at full tilt has a 10% chance per segment of falling over. Same effect as throwing 00.

Summary of Hit Probability Adjustments:

Target collected two snowballs this segment+10%
Target collected one snowball this segment +5%
Target didn't move this segment +5%
Target moved 1 or 2 hexes this segment -5%
Target moved 3 or 4 hexes this segment -10%
Target/assailant hit by Avalanche or Dirigible last segment +/-10%
Target below/above range (per hex)+/-5%
Target on conifer hex (*)-25%
Target adjacent to conifer (.)-10%
Target on snowman hex -10%
Target did Mendham Maniac this segment -5%
Target did Baker Bounce with added Bounce this segment -25%
Target did Bowen Bolero this segment +10%

After adjustments, if the shot is passing over the shed then hit probability is halved. D100 is rolled to determine hits 01-05 always hits 96-00 always misses.

Fogbound Variant

1. A different garden map will be used. The map will use a similar hex system as before for movement and is a similar size (15 hexes long by 12 wide). The garden is rectangular with footpaths running along each side; there are also fences on each side and at the back. The house fills the lower end of the garden (south side for direction) and each garden path leads to door to the house (kitchen). In the garden, there are 3 snowmen, 3 large conifers and a small shed - standard rules apply. The shed is roughly located in the Northwestern corner of garden and one of the conifers is in the northeast.

2. There is also a small garden pond in the rough centre of the garden - if any player moves into the pond, they lose all hit points and must immediately change in the kitchen.

I have also placed 3 garden gnomes that act as trip hazards which have a 30% chance per hex movement of causing a character to fall and lose their snowballs (e.g. a character moving 3 hexes in a turn has a 90% chance of falling). Gnomes are only located at the end of a turn when a player looks around. There is also a wheelbarrow full of snow that contains 3 Doubleday Dirigibles.

3. The garden is covered in a pea-souper fog, so all players have limited visibility at the start. Players begin with a 2 hex range of vision and will receive a short report each turn about what they see in their surrounding, visible hexes. There is a 50% chance that visibility will increase by 1 hex at the end of each turn and a 10% chance that it will decrease by 1 hex. Game reports will also give some indication about the location of sounds (such as splashing, snowballs being thrown, players falling over etc), including characters talking or yelling (press).

4. The game begins with each player running out into the garden with 2 turns movement, during which time no snow is thrown. Players start in either the SE or SW corner. I will not allow players to fall in the pond during this stage and will notify them if they swerved to avoid the pond.

5. Simple provisional orders, such as checking for obstructions or hazards before a second move, will be accepted.

6. The game will end either when someone reaches 12 VP or after 10 turns.