Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Roll Two Dice and Pray

If you’re role-playing in the Car Wars setting, it’d be nice to have a little bit more to go by than “Driver-1 Gunner-3.”  However, elaborate rules such as those presented GURPS Autoduel and Autoduel Champions seem a bit overboard for a game with such high death rates.  The heart of any duelling campaign is, of course, the combats.  Secondary to that is the maintenance, design and development of the character’s vehicles.  Car Wars addresses these issues admirably, but we’d like to have some additional “glue” to connect the scenarios in our campaign together.  These rules attempt to encourage character development and quick colorful play. 

Character Background

Car Wars characters do not have attributes or other such stats.  They are fully descibed by a short list of skills and their associated levels.  These rules aim to keep it that way and avoid the additional complexity that more elaborate systems entail.  Instead of a confusing list of advantages, disadvantages, and quirks, Car Wars characters have a brief paragraph describing their background and major fields of experience.

Characters generally begin the game with 30 skill points and no prestige.  Your background first of all needs to be consistent with that fact.  If there are a few broad non-combat skills that you feel are appropriate, you can identify them specifically in order to differentiate the skill levels your character has acheived.  In general you should spend no more than 50 skill points on these.  (For a list of possible additional skills to use, see Compendium 2e, Midville, or AQD 7/1– but feel free to go beyond this list if you’re feeling creative.)

Task Rolls

There four levels of difficulty for a task roll:

4+ — Trivial

6+ — Easy

8+ — Moderate

10+ — Hard

12+ — Difficult

The referee decides the difficulty of a particular task and the player responds by pointing out any additional bonuses or penalties that are relevant based on his character description.  A character that achieved a rank of First Class in the Boy Scout commandos might argue that he would get a +1 for stealth or +2 to camoflage his vehicle.  A character with a weakness toward members of the opposite sex might admit he has a penalty of -3 to resist the wiles of a femme fatale.

In any case, the game should move quickly.  The task roll is there just to add a bit of uncertainty to the game and wringing every last bonus point out of a vague character concept is against the spirit of the rules.  The referee has the final say, as always.

Survival Points

I find as a referee that characters often end up with a chance to die that’s based completely on the outcome of a single die roll.  I usually allow the NPC’s I’m playing to get cocky at this point… or give my player a 1/5th of a second to turn a different facing toward his opponent.  It’s been fine so far, but the game could lose a bit of its suspense if my players ever notice me pulling my punches.  In order to address this issue I’m adding “Survival Points” to the game in order to give the player characters a bit more cinimatic flair during key points of the game.

Survival points are awarded for the following actions on the part of the player(s):

Rolling a 12 when rolling a task for any noncombat skill (1 point)

For good role playing during a scene (1 to 3 points)

For staying on task during a combat and keeping things moving quickly (1 point)

For not taking advantage of obscure or unclear rules to unfairly dominate a combat (1 point)

For creating a character background that is interesting but not overly “munchkin” (1 to 3 points)

Survival points can be spent in the following instances:

To reduce the to hit roll against the character for a single shot on a single turn (1 point per -1 penalty)

To increase a die roll on a control roll (4 points per +1 bonus)

To purchase and develop additional non-combat skills (1 point = 1 skill point)

Survival points are awarded after each scene or combat.  They provide a way for the referee to encourage the kind of behaviors that improve the overall game experience of everyone involved and increase the survivability of the PC’s.  Also, I’ve noticed that the general skill points that were added to the game as of the Deluxe edition were pretty much always used to increase gunner skill in our games.  These rules will encourage the development of other character qualities without taking away from such critical areas.

That’s pretty much it!  Enjoy these rules if you want to role play but don’t have time to master the multi-volume monstrosity that is the modern end-all-be-all rpg.  Don’t get a headache when all you need… is to “roll two dice and pray.”

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2 responses to “Roll Two Dice and Pray

  1. Pingback: Police Detective Miles Darrow « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

  2. Pingback: 2034: Badlands Run (spoilers) « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

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