Saturday, October 22, 2011

Abstract Chase Scenes

After a 6 month hiatus, I resumed my Star Wars RPG (Role Playing Game) campaign this past Saturday.  For this adventure, the PCs (Player Characters) and several NPCs (Non-Player Characters) were sent on a search and rescue mission.  However, this turned into a desperate battle for survival, when our heroes found themselves stranded on an island overrun by Sith Mutant Cannibals. The mutant horde pursued the party for 13 kilometers, to an abandoned base camp. A Rorke's Drift-style battle ensued, with the rescue shuttle arriving to pluck our heroes off the roof of a prefab building--just as the first wave of mutants scaled the walls.

I was planning to use Hot Pursuit, to run The Big Chase Scene.  However, one of the players was attending a concert later in the evening and had to leave by 4 PM.   This put me under a time-crunch, so it was time to improvise.

With the help of the players, here's what we came up with, based on the D20 System--

--The pursuit was conducted using a map of the island, with the usual wargame hex-grid.  Each hex equaled 1 kilometer. 
--Each movement turn was an hour. 
--Movement rate (on foot):  6 hexes/hour in open terrain, 3 hexes/hour in jungle and hill terrain.
--At the end of each turn, every PC and NPC had to roll d20 (a twenty sided die) and make a Difficulty Check (DC) against their Willpower.
--The Task Difficulty normally would start at Easy (roll 5, or greater), unless the party was in difficult terrain, or was in some other disadvantage condition. 
--If successful, the PC or NPC, suffered no ill effects.
--If the character failed, he moved one step down on the Condition Track.
--For each failure, the PC or NPC moved another step down the Condition Track until he fell unconscious.
--In addition to moving down one level on the Condition Track, he lost one item.  PCs got to choose what item to discard; while a random die, usually a d6, was rolled for NPCs.  (Representing an item was dropped, or powerpacks and grenades being expended).
--If the player rolled a natural "20," a critical success, he was able to negate another PC or NPC's failure.  (He encouraged a nearby companion to keep going).
--If, however, a player rolled a natural "1," a fumble, he caused another PC or NPC, selected at random, to go down one step on the Condition Track.  (The other character had to drag him along, or lug his gear).
--If 51%, or more of the party failed to make their DCs, then the next turn's DC would be made at one level harder.
--If 50% or more of the party succeeded in making their DCs, then the next turn's DC would be made at one level easier.

In our adventure, our heroes were beset by a horde of Sith Mutants while in the jungle, so the Task Difficulty started off at Medium.  Everyone then had to roll a 10, or higher, adding any Willpower modifiers. 

Over half the party promptly failed, which set the trend for the rest of the pursuit.

Mercifully, this death spiral only lasted a few turns.  The party outdistanced the pursuing Sith Mutants when they reached the hills and stumbled into the abandoned base camp.

I wouldn't be so bold to say these rules worked "well"--but they certainly had the desired effect of simulating a desperate chase:  Every PC and NPC suffered from some level of exhaustion.  One NPC fell unconscious at the gate of the base camp, two players lost, or more likely, expended several hand grenades; while two NPCs lost their weapons.

(Image:  Sith Mutants in hot pursuit of our heroes.  Photo by Adrian)

Optional Rule for Devious & Cruel Gamemasters:

I came across my pursuit notes after the game ended, which was a stroke of luck for the players.

Here's what I wrote down for PCs and NPCs loosing items--

--If the PC or NPC fails his Willpower die roll, he loses 1d3 (a d6/2) items on his first failure.
--On his second failure, he loses 1d4 items.
--On the third failure, 1d6 items are lost.
--By his fourth failure, he loses 1d8 items.

One final note:  Beware of wily players.  The clothing the PCs are wearing does not constitute "an item."

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