Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Alternate Chase Rules

I recently came across An Updated Version of My Chase Rules on the Retired Adventurer blog. I seldom play games (or write house rules) that use dice matching. At heart I'm a numbers guy so totaling has never been an issue and I have to admit I'm a bit prejudiced against. Matching seems like a kids game to me. 

However, chase scenes in RPGs tend to fall flat for me. Seldom do I get the suspense and unexpectedness of an action movie chase nor the heart pounding adrenaline of real chases. What I usually see in RPGs is one of the following. (Sometimes a combination of one or more of the following.)
  • A strict comparison of rate of speed where 12" movement rate always catches 9" movement rate (boring).
  • A series of skill rolls until someone fails or (worse yet) until someone rolls a critical or fumble (repeated die rolling without a state change is tedious and boring).
  • A series of skill rolls that add to a total until it gets high or low enough for something to happen (at least there is a state change, but this is still tending to tedium). 
  • Something that requires the use of 4 or more tables and the calculation of a lot of modifiers.
  • Something where the players and GM have to think of one outlandish or creative thing to try and boost their chances of a skill roll. (Can be fun, but can also default to one of the above. And if the GM or players aren't feeling the creativity then expecting them to imagine what James Bond would do in a coach chase in 1624 London can be an exercise in frustration.)

I want something simple, but I want something that will yield some unexpected results and that doesn't require everyone at the table to be really imaginative. If you've seen one cart of cabbages in the Paris streets...well you maybe get my drift. 

I think that what John Bell came up with might fit the bill or at least be a step in the right direction. He wrote his rules for some D&Desque OSR kind of game so I'll need to do a bit of modification to make it fit better with H+I. On the plus side the default roll is 2d6 which is exactly H+I. So that's a plus. 

While I was at it I thought I'd try writing up the rules in a way that I find easier to parse. And yes I did play SPI games before I played RPGs thank you very much.

Optional Chase Rules for H+I

EDIT: I've revised the rules based on playtest examples. You can see them tomorrow.

Once a chase, route, or pursuit begins use the following procedure. A chase roll is 2d6 plus or minus dice based on various modifiers. It uses dice matching not totals.

1.      Make a Chase Roll. Each group or side rolls separately. (The default roll is 2d6.)
1.1.   If the fugitives are significantly slower than their pursuers they add 1 extra die to their chase roll for each significant level slower e.g. foot pursued by horsemen, the foot roll 3d6 for their chase roll.
1.2.   If the fugitives narrate some clever maneuvering or other interference with the pursuit, the pursuers only roll 1d6. In this case the pursuers cannot corner the fugitives that round since they cannot get a match. In many circumstances being faster than the pursuers counts as clever maneuvering.
1.3.   Pursuers and fugitives may split up. Each group makes separate chase rolls. For simplicity of play, a group may only split up if they are taking a separate route, moving at significantly different speeds, etc.
1.4.   If the pursuers are unable to continue or choose not to continue pursuit the Chase Ends.

2.      Compare the Dice for each chase roll with that of all other groups or sides. Events occur in the order listed.
2.1.   Fugitives: If all dice match e.g. doubles, triples, etc. the fugitives have escaped and the Chase Ends.
2.2.   Pursuers: If both dice match they corner the fugitives. Ordinary combat resumes and the Chase Ends.
2.3.   Pursuers: If dice total “7” they may perform 1 major or 1 minor action: Bladework, Reload, etc.
2.4.   Fugitives: If dice total “7” they may duck out of sight and hide (Sneak) or they may perform 1 major or 1 minor action: bladework, reload, etc. If they hide, then the pursuers must notice them (combined action Savvy roll) in order to continue the chase. If they fail, the Chase Ends.
2.5.   If a die in the fugitives chase roll matches a die in the pursuers chase roll then members of either group who have a ready and loaded weapon may exchange missile fire e.g, make Ranged Attacks. This is quick or snap shot, therefore they cannot perform other actions such as Aim Shot, Reload, etc.

3.      If the chase is still on, go back to step 1 and repeat.

Fortune Points: Spending a fortune point allows that side to roll one extra die and then choose one of their dice to discard. There may be situations where the GM will decide that 1 fortune point must be spent for each Hero in the group rather than a single fortune point for the entire group.


How are differences in speed handled?
  • Minor differences in speed are ignored. Significant differences in speed are reflected by changing the number of dice that are rolled by the slower party.
  • Significantly slower fugitives roll more dice. Rolling more dice significantly decreases the probability that the fugitives will escape since it is much harder to roll triples on 3d6 (6/216) than it is to roll doubles on 2d6 (6/36). Similarly rolling more dice decreases the probability that they can hide since it is harder to roll a “7” on 3d6 (15/216=7%) than it is on 2d6 (6/36=17%).
  • Significantly slower pursuers will (usually) be limited to rolling only 1d6. This prevents them from catching the fugitives. They can hope to get a match and then hope that their Ranged Attack hits and causes enough damage to slow the fugitives. If it makes sense in a particular situation GMs might allow fatigue to slow the fugitives. Note too that their chance of getting a match is lower since they only have one die to match with.

You said that “usually” a slower pursuer would be limited to rolling only 1d6. Why wouldn’t they always have to roll 1d6?

  • Because sometimes they can’t use their speed to full effect e.g. on a very crowded city street. In those situations the fugitive cannot effectively move significantly faster.

What if both the pursuers and the fugitives succeed in the same kind of matching?
  • Outcomes operate in the order listed. So fugitives who roll and get all matching dice escape and the chase ends. Therefore it doesn’t matter what the pursuer rolled since the chase is over. If it seems appropriate to the situation the GM may rule that a pursuer whose roll would have allowed a missile attack or melee attack may get a parting shot. Which in some cases may prevent the fugitive from escaping. Parting shots should be rare in this system.

What do you mean the “GM may rule” I mean the rules are not comprehensive.
  • What I mean is exactly what I said. There may be situations where the GM should rule that something different happens than what an exact and literal interpretation of the rules would achieve. Dealing with unusual situations and corner cases is one reason tabletop RPGs have a GM instead of a 4000 page manual.

What are Fortune Points?
  • They are what a Honor+Intrigue calls bennies. You may have played other games with Hero Points, Force Points, or Fate Points. Those too are bennies. This post talks about Fortune Points. Or just buy the rules and read ‘em yourself. I’m sure Chris Rutowsky could use a few more bucks, or Euros, or pounds, or what have you. 

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