Good evening, REL fans, afternoon to those in the Big O, and all times in between for the Gmen! My name is "Generic" Gene Rick, and welcome to the first installment of Blood Bowl Backstage, where I'll be risking life and limb to give you the stories you deserve from the varied crannies of gimmicked fun in this wonderful sports conglomerate. Unfortunately, not everything in this inagurial writing is sunshine and rainbows, as we're already three weeks into the illustrious thirteenth season of the main league everyone is already familiar with, but not all is lost. In an attempt to catch up, three stories will be included. And as always, refunds are never a guarantee.

The Kingdom of Bretonnia: To most, a pompous society of humans that spends far too much time flaunting their money around while riding winged steeds, who even the highest of elves would scoff at for being extremely pampered. To others, primarily its own residents, it's a chivalrous utopia with a rich and storied history of brave knights, beloved kings, and quests for the most pristine of magical artifacts. Whatever your opinion may be of thing, one thing has always remained true. Regardless of where your home is, stepping onto that field, knowing fully well what the risks are, can earn you respect in the eyes of those bloodthirsty, drunken fans.

In one niche corner, a mad few decided that the head-to-head matchups weren't enough, but instead cooperation in a more team-based format would capitivate viewers around the world. And it has! For seven, soon to be eight seasons, these "clans" of five teams each have been duking it out with a few twists every now and then. Shady dealings with assassin guilds to eliminate a star player, financial advisers being bribed to cripple a team's economy, exotic vacations to ensure everyone is back onto the field in record time, and even a doctor on standby in the event someone is diagnosed with a bad case of lumbago after being sucker punched. What's not to love?

RANDOM, a clan named so because of the seemingly odd choice of beings that came together or a submission to Nuffle's will, is making their second stride after a near half-and-half record in their prior outing. The Goodknights of the Round Pitch in particular, a cadre of knights and their peasant meat shields, have allegedly been growing more rowdy and egotistical, seeing any future opponents as beneath them, especially after what they call a "stellar performance the Lady herself would bless." In order to follow up on these rumors and to get a perspective on this interesting lifestyle, I found myself speaking with the self-designated runner of the team, Sir Bernard Ballhugger. The first impressions culled any imaginative thoughts I had regarding a man like him.

"This will be the last time you'll ever be reminded of this," were the words I heard viciously echo out of Ballhugger's dressing room. "I only have chardonnay if I wish to drink! This is merlot! White, not red, you colorblind oaf! I wouldn't even consider using you for a doormat, let alone a footstool!"

Once the sound of shattering glass cleared the air, I gave a tentative two knuckled knock on the door. It was enough to grab his attention, as soon after, the door to his locker room swung open with the force of a thousand winds. There he was, still clad in his dulled blue and maroon armor, staring at me with such an intensity that even the most deaf of men could hear the nonverbal screams of wanting to be left alone.

"Sir Ballhugger," I finally uttered, giving him the respect he no doubt would have otherwise berated me for ignoring. "Your performance last time was something to be admired, but the competition is going to be much more stiff this time around. Are you worried about any plans going wrong for you or your fellows members?"

"Wrong?" He let out a snort, trying to restrain the urge to life. "Nothing has ever gone wrong for me! Those reptilious fools may have tried to keep me down, but look at the reports from what came after! I have only become stronger and more nimble after the false printings of my so-called intensive care!"

"What about the death of Louis the Notfrench? Surely that must have dealt a blow the Goodknights." A death that happened during the match mentioned prior, on the home field of the Vegetarian Only lizardmen, where Ballhugger was coincidentally the one to recieve priority from his team's resident apothocary.

"Louis held us down," he insisted. "Everything else was a glorious vuctory in the name of Bretonnia!" Another debatable fact, but he seemed too entrenched in his own reality by this point. "And soon, the same will happen once more!"

I slowly nodded, and in a desperate attempt to change the topic, I moved on to another upcoming event that would have certainly captured his interest. "In regards to the Superstar Shootout, how do you feel about your fellow cdountrymen being chosen for the tryouts over you?"

There was a pause, and a twitch in his eye. A nerve was struck, and Ballhugger wasn't pleased. "You dare question my skill, you wretched urchin?! Those swine do not choose me for their games, I choose where and when I show up, and such an insult to my honor shall not be tolerated any longer! Begone with you, newsboy!" And with that, the discussion was over. The door slammed shut once more, and if my recent physical is anything to go by, it nearly gave me a permanent case of tinnitus.

Then came the journey northward, to another kingdom of humans detached from the Empire. Kislev, the Realm of the Ice Queen herself, has always been seen as one of the fron lines of defense in case the forces of Chaos and their Norscan devotees migrate south and start global riots upon losing a playoff match. The Kislevites that volunteer to play, however, are far more different than just their Kossar and Winged Lancer peers. No, these men are acrobats from the circuses, an occupation rather fitting in hindsight as they make their transition into a more athletic, sportsman competition.

In a similar vein as the troupes of Muten Roshi's Bear School and Bare Gills, a more fresh variety has started to turn heads with their two wins in two games; the Wacky Wonderland Warriors. After making their way through the notoriously unforgiving and murderous Greenhorn Cup, a trial most new teams tend to face before the start of the main league's season, they've even made the bold move to bring in a bear from the wilderness, one they've dubbed "the Red Queen," presumably given to her after the mauling of some unfortunate stagehands during her initial capture.

However, not all of thei headlines have een in a favorable light. After their match with the Prestigious Patients, high elves who carry diseases in name only, some cries of foul began to erupt from the mouths of those at home, directed at the two blitzers of the team; the Tweedle brothers. Dum and Dee have been accused of unsavory behavior, such as blindly jumping into cage formations, sudden prayers to Nuffle for their blocks to be more effective against those who dare to hold the ball in their presence, and nonchalantly tackling players to the ground instead of the usual tripping. I finally managed to encounter those two gentlemen, and the exchange that followed went like so:

"Those knife ears had it coming, they did," uttered Dum, the one who scored the sole touchdown of the game. "Walking around like they owned the place. It always asked for trouble."

"A whole lot of it, too." Dee let out a boisterous chuckle, but one that held a secret malice if one were to pay close enough attention. "The usual strategy wasn't as good on them, especially that Gary fellow. As soon as we got rid of him, the rest fell like dominoes, as you say."

"Would you say the same for Broken Brady? Surely his death, wether you see it as indirect or not, crossed some sort of line at the end of the day."

The laughter continued, this time produced in tandem by both of the brothers. Their callous reactions were sure to make anyone's blood boil, especially after the gossip that circled soon after about Brady's keystone nature in what would've been his third match against the Munster Mashup.

Finally, Dum spoke up. "You are a funny one, little man. You remind us of rodeo clowns that tried to calm down a minotaur after a bad day. We have chores to do, though, so your funniness can only last so long."

"The Queen needs her grooming," Dee said. "She gets cranky if we don't give a thorough brushing, and you wouldn't like a cranky bear, would you?" The two began to walk off, their laughter starting once more, this time echoing through the halls of their stadium, Alice's Wonderland. They truly were mad there.

Finally, my journey led me to the mysterious borders of Port Orange, a Chaos-worshiping coastal city named such due to Nurgle gifting the residents with acute cases of jaundice. Tourists beware, for citrus would be ruined forevermore upon a singular glance at this rancid, putrid dwelling those cultists call home. But if you manage to stomach the unslightly nature of it all, my first reccomendation would be to travel to the Half Wall, a bar known for its rather unique selection of alcoholic beverages.

In the wake of the now defunct Lineman League, the proprietor became destraught, knowing the grudge match between Kratos' New Hit List and the Grimnir Fury Squad will never see the light of day, not even as a recording on his crystal ball. Gone were the days of Thor and Josef Bugman giving each other dirty looks to see who could get to the ball first. All was not lost, however, as his prayers were soon answered by the masterminds that initially brought his favorite passtime variant. Upon the sudden announcement of the Beer League, a competition that prided itself on hometown legends making it big, he took it upon himself to gather as many of the Half Wall's regulars as he could to form their own team, the Half Wall Heroes.

All that was left was their star, a mascot to usher in the new age of fun-fueled inebriated rampages. Whispers spoke of an individual who commited notorious act, treating legality like a suggestion rather than legitimate rules. One who did it all, from covering himself in mud as a clever disguise to assault unsuspecting mercenary law enforcers, to donning customized boots with wheels as a convenient way to transport himself between robberies of various bazaars without the use of a carriage, and even breaking into another man's house in the middle of the night just to take a nap on the floor.

Someone only known as "Florida Man." I unfortunately couldn't find him myself, but perhaps when the time comes, he'll find me instead. For now, though, we only have speculation to operate on.

No one has ever known Florida Man by his true name, or even where he came from. Some say he was secretly an agent for Tzeench's unsung plans, only to enjoy the the infectious allure of the rivaling god more. Others say he was destined to mutate into a Beast of Nurgle, but as punishment for his very public record of misdeeds, was doomed to stay as a simple warrior until he could atone through Blood Bowl. But to the patrons of the Half Wall, and their Heroes that look up to him as inspiration, he'll be what brings them the gold.

With those tales out of the way, I do hope the preview of what's to come in this new series of articles has captivated you long enough to keep interest in next week's postings. After all, with a sport such as this, there's no telling what kind of juicy gossip or tantalizing drama could happen next! I've been "Generic" Gene Rick, and as always, may your dice forever be blessed.

- GenericGamer

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