Friday, March 23, 2012

March Madness, alien style

In honor of March Madness, I thought I'd share info about another popular contact sport--well, popular in other parts of the galaxy, anyway.  To learn about one of the greatest matches ever, read Froonga Planet.

Excerpts from The Encyclopedia of Everything Else: Lob-lock

Lob-lock is a popular interplanetary sport with ancient origins.  It is believed to have evolved from the practice of prehistoric male Scwozzworts, who asserted their dominance by throwing large rocks and beating the gruzbunkles out of their rivals with heavy sticks.

Early lob-lock courts have been discovered in the ancient province of Snoofoo on the Scwozzwort homeworld, and archaeological evidence suggests that part of the game involved throwing one's opponent off of a high tower (after knocking him senseless) while shouting vicious insults.

Some interplanetary scholars doubt the authenticity of these findings, but lob-lock has certainly become more civilized in these modern times, and  technology has been incorporated into every facet of the game.  

Lob-lock has been called "the culmination of intergalactic civilization" and has even been used to settle territorial disputes in some sectors, eliminating the need for messy wars.  

Lob-lock involves the use of the following items:

1.  The bzzt-ball--originally believed to have just been a large round rock, the modern bzzt-ball has a series of spiny energy barbs protruding all around; it is used to deliver an immobilizing charge to one's opponent; the ball is lobbed, and the opponent is locked.  It is capable of self-propulsion and re-calibration, as well as random targeting.

2.  The whomp-sting stick: this is a long  metal rod with a heavy weight at one end and a stinging energy barb at the other, which delivers an immobilizing charge similar in strength to that of the bzzt-ball..  

3.  Thruster belts--modern lob-lock is played in zero gravity, and players must wear these devices to maneuver around the court.

4.  The goal units consist of floating platforms that remain in a fixed position at opposite ends of the court.  Each goal has an insult pad; players who have succeeded in stunning their opponents must fly to the platform, place a tentacle (or claw, or pseudopod, or whatever) on the pad and shout the most creative insult possible.  Deluxe goals are equipped with translator boxes that interpret insults during interplanetary matches.

Interplanetary Lob-lock League Rules:
The game can be played one-on-one or in teams of two; certain variances to this rule may exist on some worlds (see Hoofonoggle Rules).

Lob-lock courts:  These may vary in size, and can be anything from a large public anti-gravity arena to a cargo hold on a space ship, provided there is sufficient room to maneuver.

The game begins with an insult.  Each side will insult the other, and the goal computer will score each one.  The player or team with the winning insult begins on offense.

The offensive player will hurl the bzzt-ball at his rival in an attempt to stun him.  If he is successful, he must then violently fling the rigid opponent against the wall, and then speed to the opposing goal, touch the pad, and shout an insult before the stunned opponent recovers.  The computer will automatically rate the quality of the insult and announce a point total.

If an offensive player throws the bzzt-ball and misses, the ball will then re-calibrate and target the thrower, who must either dodge or swat it away with the heavy end of the whomp-sting stick.  He may also use the energy barb to attempt to stun his opponent.  If an offensive player is stunned by a returning bzzt-ball, the opponent may then fling him against the wall and attempt to score insult points.

There is a brief intermission halfway through the game to allow for rest, during which time gravity is re-engaged so that body fluids and/or parts can be more easily cleared from the court.

The game normally ends at the expiration of regulation time (this can vary from planet to planet--some matches have been known to last for days).  The highest point total wins, except in cases where all players become completely incapacitated--this is resolved by awarding the victory to the team or player with the least number of life-threatening injuries.

Hoofonoggle Rules:

The standard rules have been ratified by all participating worlds within the Interplanetary Lob-Lock League with one exception:  Games played on the Hoofonoggle home world have two additional rules:
1. The winners get to eat the losers.
2.  Hoofonoggles cheat.

Illustration by Kevan J. Atteberry in Froonga Planet (2008 Henry Holt and Company)


  1. I absolutely adore your line drawings! They are awesome!

    1. You're praising the work of the man who illustrated my books, Kevan Atteberry. Me? I struggle with stick figures!
      You can see more of Kevan's work at