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Pen & Paper Football

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Pen & Paper Football is football without the commercials, endless merchandizing and prison sentences. A few dice and some paper is all you need to simulate an American football game. Just find some friends (or play solo), roll up some teams and pit them against each other in League Play, which requires eight simple dice rolls to play a game, or in Head-to-Head play, which simulates a game play-by-play.

P&PF has all the rules you need to play a whole season of football, with rules for passing, running, kicking, penalties, injuries and even off-season rules for team development. There are dozens of sample teams you can use and handy record sheets for teams, leagues and games.

51 pages

 
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Discussions (18)
Customer avatar
Kevin L September 06, 2020 7:38 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Why do you add the QB bonus to a rushing play (I assume fakes)....wouldn't it make sense to add the Offensive Linemen (LM) to the RB bonus instead?

Also, how does solo work?...I have seen the D100 chart but I'm not sure how to pick defense..just flip a coin?
Customer avatar
Kevin L September 06, 2020 8:18 pm UTC
PURCHASER
nevermind...found my answers. looking forward to trying....looks fun.
Customer avatar
Dominic M September 15, 2019 1:53 am UTC
PURCHASER
I am having a ton of fun with this, but wouldn't mind trying to replay some past seasons and would like a way in the next expansion a way to convert real stats of teams to something the game can work with. If I missed it in this book, then apologies.
Customer avatar
Bobby C August 12, 2019 2:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
Sorry for spamming this discussion thread with redundant info, but I'd like to share all the additional rules I've come up with. This is not errata, but just some additional optional things. If the author wishes to incorporate any of this into later editions, you're welcome to it. Not sure what the character count is on this board, but here goes;

1). League Play: Teams coming off a BYE week add +1 to 1d20 dice rolls (this is cumulative with the Home Field Advantage +1 to dice rolls).

2). League Play: If a 20 is rolled, roll again and add the appropriate points from the League Play table to the score.

3). League Play: If a 1 is rolled, a season-ending injury has occurred; roll 1d6, consult the Injury Table, and lower that stat by -1 for the remainder of the season (adjust bonus if necessary). Such injuries are erased at the end of a season, prior to the aging roll.

4). League Play: After a league play game, each team rolls 1d10. On a roll of 1, a season-ending...See more
Customer avatar
Bobby C August 01, 2019 7:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
It just occurred to me that rolling stats for team creation is more or less identical for rolling stats for Dungeons and Dragons characters (at least in earlier editions, I don't know about modern ones), so you could totally use all those alternate dice rolling methods to generate NFL-caliber teams. For example, roll 3d6 six times, assign stats as desired; roll 3d6 12 times, take the 6 highest rolls and assign as desired; Roll 4d6 6 times, and drop the lowest number on each roll; each stat starts at 8, roll 7d6 and add results to stats as desired (cannot exceed 18, and full value of each dice must be added...cannot be split up). Will these methods generate overpowered teams? Well in terms of the core game rules, perhaps. On the other hand, NFL teams are the sport's elite, and Manning/Brady/Montana/Bradshaw all have a QB score of 18. :P
Customer avatar
Bobby C July 29, 2019 4:13 am UTC
PURCHASER
How do you guys feel about teams receiving an additional +1 bonus to their OFF in League Play if they didn't play the week before (BYE)? Maybe to simulate a rested and recovered team? Let me know what you think.
Customer avatar
Bobby C July 29, 2019 3:00 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Clarification, the above should actually read an additional +1 bonus to OFF/DEF in league play.
Customer avatar
Bobby C July 29, 2019 3:49 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm experimenting with "challenges" to penalties in Head-to-Head play. It's pretty simple; a player has 2 "challenges" per game to avoid a penalty by challenging the call. The player flips a coin; if it's heads, the referee overturns the call, and there's no penalty. If it's tails, the penalty is not overturned, the team loses one timeout, and the team's number of available challenges for that game is reduced by 1. However, if a team's challenges are both successful, a 3rd challenge is awarded. IIRC, challenges can only occur prior to 2-minute warnings.

Personally, I think challenges in the NFL are lame, but if you're simulating a professional game, the above seems to do the trick well enough.
Customer avatar
Phillip G June 18, 2019 4:31 am UTC
PURCHASER
Really love this game. I've been playing it for awhile and I think it's great! The market rules are simplistic yet elegant and the League Play system lets you play through several seasons in as many minutes! There are only a couple of issues I've come across.

1) As others have pointed out, the aging rules seem extremely restrictive. I've played through the first half of the 60s with the NFL and the Detroit Lions have won every single year. In-universe I rationalized it as "that's just how dynasties worked then," but honestly other teams simply aren't able to keep up, because they age faster than they can develop (the Dallas Cowboys have finished in last every year due to their abysmal ratings). The AFL is similar, though not as bad, as the Oilers have won most titles, though the Chargers have managed to sneak in a couple of wins now and then. I just wish there was a way of balancing the teams a bit more.

2) The way the market rules are set up, it's literally impossible for...See more
Customer avatar
Phillip G June 20, 2019 8:14 am UTC
PURCHASER
Update: I didn't notice there was a revision before I posted this. I see now that the aging roll has been changed from a d6 to a d20. I don't know yet how this will affect the teams, but just looking at it I think it will make for a positive change.
Customer avatar
David B January 02, 2019 10:10 am UTC
PURCHASER
https://www.dropbox.com/s/bf15j5gm3dnnklv/Head%20to%20Head%20Play%20Calling%20Chart.pdf?dl=0

The link above is for the d100 version of my Head to Head Play Calling chart (which I uploaded before I changed over to using d30s), which I created on Microsoft Excel. For quick reference purposes, I copied much of the Head to Head rules and added them to the file with the charts. I'm posting this one basically as a test to see it the comments section of this site will allow hotlinking to file sharing accounts. If not and you're still interested in taking a look at it, you can always copy and paste the link to your address bar. I've adjusted the settings to allow for public access to only this file.
Customer avatar
David B January 02, 2019 10:16 am UTC
PURCHASER
OK, so it looks like hot linking's not going to work (I was hoping it'd work like Facebook, where you'd type in the web address and as soon as you click on "Post", Facebook algorithms recognize the web address and automatically hotlink to the file or web address you're looking to share.) Nevertheless, the web address is still available for viewing the early d100 version of my H2H Play Calling chart. As soon as I post the d30 version to Dropbox, I'll provide the web address for it, as well.
Customer avatar
Wesley H February 09, 2019 5:11 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I like what you are doing. I also have no one to play with near me, so solo rules are important to me. One thing that could potentially be improved is the random play calling that would happen in your solo adaptation. I am not for sure on how to do this, but maybe another offense and defense chart that makes the game AI more intelligent. For example, lets say you are playing offense, it's 3rd and 1 and you have a decent RB or OL, Chances are, you will try a dive play right up the middle, right? So to make thinks more realistic, on the defensive chart will be certain scenarios that dictate you to roll on a chart when certain criteria are met. Like in this example, if its 3rd down, and less that 3 yards away, roll d100, 1-50 = run defense, 60-90 = short pass/screen defense, 91-95, long pass defense , 96-100 special defense play. I know it will add more charts with mini charts, but if it's kept kinda basic it may be fun. I would like to know your thoughts on this.
Customer avatar
Wesley H February 09, 2019 8:21 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I just realized that having a system like that could be easily exploited. Maybe also have the defense have the ability to call an audible. In the very same scenario I posted above, lets say on 3rd and 1 and I want to take a shot deep down field, but according to the AI enhancements I suggested, the defense would be most likely preparing for a run or short pass. I could exploit that every 3rd and short if I wanted(which would be dumb and kill the fun). To combat that, maybe add in a defensive audible. Example: its 3rd and 1, I want to go deep, so when the defense rolls for their play, they also roll a d6, 1-2 they sense nothing and no audible is called, 3-6 they sense the long pass and set up a long pass defense. This defense audible d6 roll only happens on scenarios similar to the one exemplified here.
Customer avatar
Bobby C September 30, 2019 8:41 pm UTC
PURCHASER
David B, just want to thank you again for creating this random playcall chart. It has really expedited Solitaire Head-to-Head play for me.
Customer avatar
guille B December 31, 2019 6:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi David, the link don't work. Please fix it. :)
Customer avatar
David B January 01, 2020 7:41 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Sorry about that. I'd forgotten that I had erased it to make room for some videos I was transferring to one of my Android tablets. Here's the new link for it:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7w0txc2br32s0zq/Head%20to%20Head%20Play%20Calling%20Chart.pdf?dl=0
Customer avatar
David B January 02, 2019 9:48 am UTC
PURCHASER
I've never been that completely crazy about the 27-yard reference to PATs. I get the part where the ball travels 20 yards because the goal posts are set 10 yards behind the goal line, but it's the 7 yards that are added due to the kicker "starting 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage". I don't feel it should matter how far behind the line of scrimmage the kicker starts (even though I've seen more recent NFL and college games where the kicker starts 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage). The only yardage that should count when determining kicking distance should be starting from when the ball actually leaves the ground at the line of scrimmage until it successfully passes between the posts, in this case, 20 yards. But that's just my opinion.

Also, I've been playing with a chart for determining offensive and defensive plays when playing a Head to Head rules game solo, which I use for determining the results of playoff and championship games in my fantasy league. I'm the only one that I know...See more
Customer avatar
Bobby C August 02, 2019 3:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I've been playing pen and paper RPGs for 30 years, and I didn't even know d30s existed. I like your d100 method, because d10s are very easy to find, and 2d10s work just as well as a d100 (one of the d10s is the tens digit, and the other one is the 1s digit). I'm in the same boat as you, having no one to play this with, and I think your playcall chart will actually speed up head-to-head play when soloing.
Customer avatar
Bobby C November 27, 2018 2:43 pm UTC
PURCHASER
...See more
Customer avatar
David B October 21, 2018 10:50 pm UTC
PURCHASER
There's no mention in the Head to Head Play section anywhere about 2 point conversions (you'd think there'd be some mention of it), so how does anybody else handle it? I know from personal experience that I could've used a 2 point conversion rule because I just recently finished a playoff game in which at one point during the game one team was down by 8 and needed a touchdown and a 2 point conversion in hopes of tying the game and sending it into overtime for the first time in my league's playoff history. (In my league, I use League Play during the regular season and then switch to Head to Head Play for all playoff and championship games.) Unfortunately for that team, they weren't able to make it to the end zone before regulation time had expired. Also, since I'm talking about PATs, I kind of have an issue with the author of the game adding 7 yards to PAT attempts due to the kicker being 7 yards behind from where the ball is kicked on the 10-yard line. I think that it should just be a straight 20-yard attempt...See more
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 23, 2018 11:48 am UTC
PURCHASER
Two Point Conversions are covered, but it's really easy to overlook, on Page 15, under Scoring: Touchdown. These rules specify to put the ball on the 3 yard line, but it may be different in NFL.

A couple of other recent NFL rule changes aren't reflected in this book. Onside kicks are incredibly difficult now because of no running start, and extra point attempts are kicked from the 15 yard line instead of the 10, which means you'll need to roll a 5 or better.
Customer avatar
John S January 02, 2019 1:34 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Since rules are always changing - and since the game isn't necessarily meant to represent NFL rules - I had to try to find a sort of general set of rules. I usually deferred to the football I grew up with in the 1980s, but since the game play is somewhat abstract, don't worry too much about trying to catch all the intricacies of a particular set of rules.
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 02, 2019 5:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hey John, I have a few questions re: Head-to-Head rules.

1). Should extra point attempts use up a round of play? I feel like 2 point conversion attempts should, since that requires the offense and defense to select plays, but IIRC extra point attempts don't eat up any clock time. What's your ruling on this?

2). This one comes up a lot; When the defense runs a Blitz against a special offensive play, does the Blitz's "Base DC -2" apply to the actual Base DC, or the the modified DC as a result of the special offensive play? In other words, does "Base DC -2" actually mean "Modified DC -2," or does a Blitz negate the Offense's modifier? (I'm probably overthinking this one.)

3). I think I've already asked this one elsewhere in the comments. On season-ending injuries, the rule states "random stat bonus lowered by 1 for the remainder of the game/season." Is that correct? Or did you mean lower the random stat itself (QB, WR, RB, etc.) by 1?...See more
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 13, 2018 11:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Note to Author: In the game record sheets at the end, the 1st Quarter sheet is missing, and you have used the Overtime sheet instead (in other words, there are two Overtime sheets and no 1st Quarter sheet). It's not a dealbreaker, and I'll bet I can fix this by opening the PDF in OpenOffice, but you might wish to correct it in subsequent editions.
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 16, 2018 3:22 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm also unclear on which dice to use for Mishap Checks. Page 11 says to roll 1d10, while Page 15 (as well as the example on page 18) says to roll 1d6. Which do other players reading here use? I suppose one could make a case for either, since penalties and injuries are so prevalent in football today. I think the only difference is a 10% chance as opposed to a 16ish% chance, but I'd appreciate a clarification.
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 21, 2018 4:13 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Also, I've discovered that Head-to-Head teams are at somewhat of a disadvantage to League Play teams for one big reason; injuries. After 6 games, my team has already suffered 3 season-ending injuries, and my opponents have had some injuries as well. However, injuries are not accounted for during League Play with all the other teams in a league. So I've started rolling 1d10 along with the 1d20 rolls in League Play. On a roll of 10, a season-ending injury has occurred during that quarter, and I roll 1d6 and consult the table on p. 16 to determine which stats are affected. That simulates how banged up teams can get by the postseason, and it adds a little depth to League play.
Customer avatar
Wesley H October 22, 2018 11:50 am UTC
PURCHASER
I didn't even catch that. I will start using that as well.
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 22, 2018 9:41 pm UTC
PURCHASER
After having slept on it, I have decided against using a 1d10, because I was actually rolling too many 10s (which sure added a lot of depth, but it was running the risk of every team in the league ending up with very low Offensive/Defensive ratings by the playoffs). Now I'm using this method instead;

In League Play, on a natural roll of 1 on 1d20, that team has suffered a season-ending injury. Roll 1d6 and consult the Injury Table on p. 16, then lower the resulting stat -1. At the end of the game, check to see if the lowered stat(s) will result in a change in the team's Offensive/Defensive rating, and adjust accordingly. Then at the end of the season, remove all penalties that were a result from season-ending injuries prior to rolling 1d6 to determine how many stat points a team loses during the off-season (instead of lowering stat points as desired, I use the Injury Table on p. 16 to randomly determine the outcome).

Using this new method, I'm seeing only a handful of season-injuring...See more
Customer avatar
David B October 23, 2018 10:10 am UTC
PURCHASER
Instead of having to adjust the stats at the end of the game, I would do it at the end of every quarter, if I were you. If you suffer a season-ending injury during that quarter, it's going to affect the dice results during the remaining quarters, and ultimately the outcome of the game. Just sayin'.
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 23, 2018 11:57 am UTC
PURCHASER
Yes, that's a good point, and a good way to add more depth to League Play, where those offensive/defensive ratings really matter.

For now, I'm experimenting with having the natural 1=a season-ending injury during the game, alongside having each team roll a 1d10 at the end of the game. Rolling a 10=a season-ending injury discovered after the game. Using this approach, on week I had 8 season-ending injuries spread throughout 32 teams, which still seems high, but no higher than my team's 4 season-ending injuries in 9 games played. If all the teams in the league have a 1/1 offensive/defensive rating by the postseason, I'll know it's broken :P
Customer avatar
Bobby C November 27, 2018 2:34 pm UTC
PURCHASER
After further testing (I'm really enjoying simulating football seasons with league play), I'm now using both methods mentioned above to determine injuries, as follows;

1). On a natural roll of 1 on 1d20 (the same roll used to determine League Play scoring), a player has suffered a season-ending injury. Roll 1d6 and consult the Injury table on p. 16, and subtract 1 from that stat (which could result in a detrimental adjustment to the team's OR/DR.
2). After the final score has been determined in a league play game, roll 1d10 for each team. On a natural roll of 10 (actually 0 on a ten-sided dice), a season-ending injury has been diagnosed by physicians after the game. Roll 1d6 and consult the Injury table on p. 16, and subtract 1 from that stat.

In retrospect, the above results in approx. 8-9 season-ending injuries throughout the league per week, which is fairly realistic (and remember, all season-ending injuries are wiped and the stats reset to the original values at the end of...See more
Customer avatar
Bobby C December 24, 2018 12:26 pm UTC
PURCHASER
After playing through four seasons so far, I actually feel like the 1d10 rolls may be too much, especially when you take off-season development into account (it also compounds on the litany of bookkeeping). The ageing roll, as it stands, can (and often does) cripple a team's efforts to develop (meaning that teams are going to be losing stats faster than they can develop them, at least starting out, until you get star players and multiple markets to generate revenue). So I think for my upcoming season I'm going to only use the "natural roll of 1 on 1d20" to determine season-ending injuries to try to keep things more competitive. If I end up with 32 teams with 9 wins and 8 losses at the end of the season, then I'll know it's probably not enough.
Customer avatar
John S January 02, 2019 2:09 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Hey - thanks for pointing these issues out to me. I've made a few adjustments, and will be uploading some revisions ASAP.
Customer avatar
Wesley H January 04, 2019 8:36 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I plan on purchasing the print version on lulu.com. Are you going to update that version as well? If so, when?
Customer avatar
Bobby C July 29, 2019 2:04 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hey, checking back in after a couple months, looking forward to to some League Play during commercials this season! Thanks for the revisions.
Customer avatar
Bobby C July 29, 2019 3:45 am UTC
PURCHASER
Turns out using both of these in league play results in a LOT of injuries throughout the season (sometimes up to 10 throughout the NFL per week), so it's realistic, but it's also a lot of extra bookkeeping, and can absolutely destroy a team's depth (again, very realistic). Even so, a head-to-head team can sometimes have multiple season-ending injuries during a single game, so my method isn't gamebreaking. For now I'm sticking with the natural 1 on D20 rolls, with an "optional" D10 roll per team after the game. although I've changed the injury to occur on a natural 1 instead of a natural 10 (for no other reason than 10 on most D10s is actually a 0, so a 1 avoids confusion, and it's a 10% chance no matter which number it is).
Customer avatar
Bobby C August 06, 2019 1:47 am UTC
PURCHASER
Another question; why no exploding dice on successful fake punt/kick attempts?
Customer avatar
Bobby C September 30, 2019 8:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Also requesting a rules clarification; do exploding dice apply for kickoff and punt returns? IIRC the rules don't specifically say they do, nor to they say they don't. I only wonder because of the no exploding dice on successful fake punt and kicks rule.
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 01, 2019 2:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
Re: Mishap Roll Injuries; The rules specifically state "random stat bonus is lowered by 1." I interpret that to mean the modifiers to stat scores (+3, +4, etc.) rather than the stat scores themselves. But personally, I'm actually lowering the score itself instead, which COULD result in a lowered bonus if it crosses the threshold down to the next tier. I look at it this way; usually if a player is injured, there's someone on the bench ready to replace them, and while it's true they're probably not as talented as the injured player, they're still good enough to be on the team. Anyway, if you have a +4 LM bonus and 4 of your Linemen are injured for the remainder of the season (which is very possible, if not probable), then what of all those other Linemen on the bench? I think it's smoother (especially if you're simulating a 17-week season) to lower the stats themselves so that with multiple injuries over weeks of play the bonuses still degrade, but not to the point where 3 or 4 unlucky rolls in a single...See more
Customer avatar
Wesley H October 12, 2018 6:55 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Awesome game! I would love an extended rules for off season development.
Customer avatar
Wesley H February 09, 2019 5:14 pm UTC
PURCHASER
And more in depth solo rules or an expansion for this.
Customer avatar
David B August 02, 2018 7:18 pm UTC
PURCHASER
In reference to the Team Record Sheet and the League Record Sheet, does anybody know what the "PF" and "PA" columns refer to?
Customer avatar
matt D August 02, 2018 9:14 pm UTC
PF - Points For
PA - Points Against

That's my edumacated guess.
Customer avatar
Bobby C October 16, 2018 4:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Right, PF = total points scored, PA = total points scored against the team by other teams. I THINK PF might be used to determine divisional playoff seeding in the case of ties, but I'm unclear how PA is used in this gaming system.

Also unclear on "Quirks," which is found on the Team Record Sheet. Maybe it's the benefits awarded for having star players?

The only other thing I found to be confusing was the use of "DR" in the example of gameplay. I'm guessing it stands for "Defensive Rating," but everywhere else the author uses "DC" instead.
Customer avatar
John S January 02, 2019 2:13 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes, PF is points for, PA points against. Those stats have been used in the past for resolving entry into the playoffs when two teams had the same record.

Quirks - totally my fault there. It's an artifact of an earlier draft of the rules, in which teams could pick up quirks over time. The system never quite worked to my satisfaction, so I dropped it, but left the reference on the sheet.
Customer avatar
christopher M February 22, 2018 5:34 am UTC
PURCHASER
I love the idea of this, had to purchase it!! I would love to see this publisher use this “system” to make more sports Roleplaying games!
Customer avatar
Dan G January 03, 2018 2:04 am UTC
PURCHASER
is there a professionally printed version available anywhere or just the PDF book?
Customer avatar
James L March 05, 2018 4:31 pm UTC
John has his games in print on Lulu.
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Product Information
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Pages
51
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QE6
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