Chapter 6 – Chases
The story so far (Above the rooftops)
The stairs were metallic and rickety, crisscrossing the rear of the warehouse on the way to the roof. Dr Herbivore led the way with Jake and Malefice close behind. As they approached the final landing the door to the roof opened and a large gas bottle came tumbling through it and down the steps.
Leaping to the side the three heroes watch the gas bottle shoot past and out over the edge of the stairs into the open air. Striking the concrete floor of the warehouse far below, the bottle explodes with an ear popping “boom” sending a superheated conflagration upwards. Diving through the door onto the roof they land in a pile narrowly missing being caught in the blast below. Across the other side of the roof they can hear the hiss of a zip-line in use.
Racing to the edge they could see a man disappearing across a neighbouring roof. Behind them flames begin to lick at the roof on which they stand. Dr Herbivore grabbed his belt and constructed a makeshift sling to use on the zip-line, hurling himself over the gap. Jake did likewise, scooping up Malefice (who’s wardrobe was a little less well adapted to the task) and shot out over the abyss likewise.
Safely on the other side, our heroes continue their pursuit. The figure racing ahead of them wears a long dark cloak. The furtive glances made back over the shoulder at the pursuers reveal him to be a man, dark of beard and glittering of eye. He arrives at the edge of the current building directly above the roof of the next and turns, gesturing with one hand while muttering beneath his breath.
“Get down”, yells Malefice. “He’s using magic”.
A bolt of sizzling electricity shot across the roof top narrowly missing the flattened group. When they looked up once more, their quarry cannot be seen (though his footfalls can be heard pounding across the roof of the next building.
Leaping after him, they continue their pursuit. By now, Dr Herbivore is beginning to feel the strain. Jumping to the lower roof, he lands badly, and begins to favour his right leg. The figure they are chasing clambers up a wall onto the next roof and sprints towards a stairwell door.
Malefice and Herbivore both need assistance climbing up onto the final roof. Their quarry is no longer in sight and they race towards the stairwell door. Bursting through it, there is an audible click and a hiss.
“Oh no!” thinks Jake. “Gas!” His vision wavers and the lights go out.
No chase is complete without obstacles. Whether you are the pursued or the pursuer, things are bound to get in your way. Sometimes you’ll have to avoid them, other times you’ll have to go through them, and still other times you may need to remove them altogether. Whatever the case, you are going to encounter (and will need to overcome) them.
Obstacles include everything from clichés such as a pair of workman carrying a pane of glass or a huge painting across the road in front of you to a sudden chasm opening below your feet as you pursue or are pursued through a city collapsing in the middle of an earthquake. Your GM will describe the obstacles you encounter during the chase and will adjudicate the chases outcome. You will respond with descriptions of the actions you will take to try and close the gap on your opponent, overcome the obstacle, or stay ahead of your opponent.
To overcome obstacles will require a successful skill check, one that can be modified with a manoeuvre (if appropriate). Appropriate skills might include run, jump, drive, pilot, etc.
If you have a drive skill it may include subskills (or manoeuvres) such as slide, car jump, drive on two wheels, doughnut, etc. In the case of a pilot skill you may have subskills (or manoeuvres) such as flat spin, dive, stall turn, loop the loop. Using a manoeuvre lets you add to the chance of success (but increases the chance of a negative consequence if you fail).
Running through a market crowd in pursuit of an assassin, a fruit cart is suddenly wheeled into Jake Stead’s way. He has an acrobatics skill of 2 but also has a number of acrobatic manoeuvres (dive roll, backflip, cartwheel, vault, and swing). He chooses to vault the cart. He rolls a 7 (+2 acrobatic skill, +1 vault manoeuvre) = 10 a fail. Jake crashes into the fruit requiring that he extricate himself from amongst it before continuing in the chase. An unsuccessful consequence roll results in him being tackled by the fruit vendor demanding payment for the damage done.
Including combat and other actions
As well as manoeuvring around obstacles, characters can engage in other actions (such as firing a gun, overturning a barrel, or climbing a wall etc.
A gap appeared in the highway, the result of explosives set by Jake’s enemies. Fortunately his motorcycle leapt the chasm (navigating the obstacle) with ease. Now he takes action, swivelling on his seat to fire his pistol up at the pursuing helicopter (rolling 7 +2 in pistol = 9, a miss). The bullet bounces harmlessly off the canopy.
Resolving and concluding the chase
In the rules outlined below a chase is concluded when either, a fight ensues that forces the chase to stop, a barrier is encountered that prevents the chase from continuing, or the one or other of the parties involved in the chase reaches the end of the chase track. If prevented from continuing in chase, the players will roleplay the consequences (perhaps switching to a fight or engaging in some other activity that is appropriate to the plot). If one or the other of the participants reaches the end of the track, then whoever does so first resolves the chase in their favour (the pursued escape if they get there first or the pursuers captures the prey if they get there first).
These chase rules are intended, in an abstract way, to simulate the pace and excitement of a cinematic chase while creating a sense of competition between the pursuer and pursued.
They involve dealing with obstacles, taking action while on the run, and cinematic risk taking and reward.
The chase requires a small board on which the relative progress of the chase is tracked.
Pursuers and pursued start at the beginning of the chase track.
It is easiest to abstract groups as single entities (though players can have a track each).
Speeds are determined as fast, medium, and slow. Before the chase determine the relative speeds. For example, a helicopter is fast, compared to a motorcycle (medium), and a person running on foot (slow).
These are relative determinations based on the slowest participant in a chase. A horse and cart might be considered fast compared with a bicycle (medium), compared with a rickshaw (slow).
Fast entities gain +2 to their increment
Medium entities gain + 1 to their increment
Slow entities gain no bonus to their increment (being a base increment of 1)
As well as modifying the increment in a chase the speed determines relative starting positions on the chase track (how much of a lead if any the pursued has over the pursuer).
Fast entities gain a 3 increment lead over all pursuers.
Medium entities gain a 2 increment lead over all pursuers.
Slow entities begin with a 1 increment lead over all pursuers.
The track is 10 increments long with three starting positions before increment number 1.
The pursued always begins on increment 1 while the pursuer is placed relative to them according to their relative speed.
Base increments are determined by speed.
Equivalent speed entities advance at 1 increment per round.
In a chase between a slow and a medium entity, or a medium entity and a fast entity, the faster travels at 2 increments per round while the slower travels at 1 increment per round.
In a chase between a slow entity and a fast entity, the faster travels at 3 increments per round while the slower travels at 1 increment per round.
Relative speed should be adjusted if, for example, someone on foot pursuing a target riding a bicycle grabs a bicycle in turn and continues the pursuit. Being equivalent the two participants in the chase now move at 1 increment each.
A chase is conducted in rounds made up of two obstacle navigation phases and two action phases.
There are only two broad actions which can be undertaken.
Players can elect to engage in standard actions or reckless actions for the duration of the round (unlike vehicular combat, a chase does not include a defensive option).
Standard actions involve manoeuvres which accrue no penalty and advance the player one space on the chase track if successful. Actions conducted on the run always incur a minimum -1 penalty.
Reckless actions involve manoeuvres which accrue a -2 penalty but advance the player two spaces on the chase track if successful. Actions conducted while reckless incur a -3 penalty but add +1 to any damage done to enemies (as a payoff for the extra risk involved).
Ground is gained or lost, not so much on the basis of speed (though it is a factor), as on the effectiveness of manoeuvres and stunts intended to navigate obstacles.
It is preferable to plan and custom design obstacles for your chase, but you can also use a random table (see appendix) if it suits your purpose. If using a random table, the first obstacle is rolled up on a random obstacle table for the terrain in which the chase occurs. If the same obstacle is rolled in a subsequent round,, simply re-roll to find another (or choose one from the list).
As noted previously, it is usually preferable for the GM to have a pre-prepared list of obstacles for players to face.
At the beginning of the round all participants state how reckless they intend to be in their attempt to pursue or flee by choosing an action. The action chosen modifies the target number needed to roll a success at navigating the obstacle. Where most actions require a 12 to succeed a reckless action would raise the target number to 14. By increasing the difficulty of a stunt or manoeuvre aimed at navigating the obstacle, success becomes harder to achieve but increases the number of increments you make on the chase chart.
Typically a player taking a reckless action might say “As the truck pulls out in front of me I recklessly leap up from the street onto a nearby balcony and from there to a roof (using my climb skill) in order to maintain my pursuit from the rooftops”. Descriptions must include one or more elements of the environment in order to earn the bonus due to recklessness.
A success indicates that the entity has navigated the obstacle successfully in a way that was designed to give them an advantage in the chase. This advantage is represented by the increment they have earned. The marker representing the entity is moved their standard increment plus any increments for the type of action that have been chosen.
The description must also allow for a consequence if failed (eg. “Leaping for the balcony you miss and fall heavily back into the street where you are forced to continue the pursuit by more conventional means as your target gains ground and gets further away”.
Failing will result in your opponent advancing on the chase track by 2 increments if you are taking a reckless action, or, if not being reckless, it will result in your staying still.
Failure implies that you are slow at navigating the obstacle rather than that the obstacle stops you. For example the failure of a swim roll does not place you in danger of drowning, it just means that you fail to gain ground as you muddle slowly through the water, and, if being reckless, that your opponent gains ground while you do so (though you may, if the GM thinks it appropriate, take a point of damage as well).
If the pursuer is behind the pursued on the chase track then they cannot engage in melee actions and are considered to be ranged. If they are ahead or adjacent to the pursued they may engage in melee actions.
The pursued always encounters obstacles first but actions are performed first by whoever is ahead on the chase track (initiative in adjacent positions always being awarded to the pursued).
Action phases give entities the opportunity to engage in an attack or other action unrelated to navigating the obstacle (fire at their quarry or pursuer, toss the vital evidence down a nearby drain while no-one is watching, or add a new obstacle to the chase such as toppling a garbage can behind them or hurling a chain to entangle the pursued).
In order to undertake any action the entity must succeed at navigating the obstacle first. If they fail, they will not be able to take an action that round.
Actions are taken on the run. They cannot be targeted and are always made at a minimum of -1 (-3 if reckless) to the skill being employed to attempt them. Combat on the run does damage as normal (+1 point if reckless).
An action which aims to add a new obstacle to the chase (if successful) allows the acting participant to move forward one extra increment.
Villains who undertake actions always target the nearest player (the player who is furthest behind on the chase track if they are pursuing or the player who is furthest ahead on the chase track if being pursued).
Villain groups are generally treated as an abstract HP pool for the purpose of actions.
Eligible participants may only engage in one action per action phase.
In the case of a villain group they get one action against each player participating in the chase.
The chase ends when an entity reaches the end of the track. If it is the pursuer, the pursued is caught. If it is the pursued, then the pursuer has been lost.
Variation : Non Sentient pursuit
Sometimes the heroes are being pursued by something non-sentient (a lava flow from a volcanic eruption) or are pursuing something non-sentient (a pilotless boat that has drifted out into the current). In these situations the non-sentient participant is not required to navigate obstacles and cannot take actions. The position of the non-sentient participant on the chase chart is worked out in response to the players actions. The non-sentient participant is deemed to move forward along the track at their base increment (of one space) each round but can increase this where players fail their recklessness rolls.
NEXT TIME: An example of a chase scene in play.
This chapter of the Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama RPG and all associated content (except where acknowledged) is © copyright <a href=”http://www.weirdworldstudios.com”>weirdworldstudios.com</a> and Philip Craig Robotham 1997 and may not be reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author.
HYOOTRD Roleplaying Game – Players’ Guide
- Chapter 1 – What is Roleplaying?
- Chapter 2 – Preparation for Play (What you’ll need and an introduction to the World of Radio Adventure)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 1 – Introduction and Character sheet
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 2 – Specialities, Archetypes, Base Attributes and Derived Attributes
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 3 – Character background and history
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 4 – Character skills and equipment (including weapons, vehicles, and specialist gear)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 5 – Special items and abilities (including gadgeteering, weird science, and magic)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 6 – Special conditions effecting characters (including illness and injury, insanity, mutation, mechanization, undeath, disembodiment, reanimation, , vampirism, lycanthropy, and necrophagy)
- Chapter 4 – Getting Things Done – Part 1 – Skill types and skill ranks
- Chapter 4 – Getting Things Done – Part 2 – Consequence tests, perception, contests, special skills and abilities, hero points and skill advancement
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 1 – Melee and ranged combat, combat actions, the combat board, and a combat cheat sheet
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 2 – Print and play components
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 3 – Physical combat (melee and ranged combat) example
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 4 – Magical combat example
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 5 – Vehicular combat example, injury, and recovery
- Chapter 6 – Chases – Part 1 – Chases and chase actions
- Chapter 6 – Chases – Part 2 – Chase example
- Chapter 7 – Death-traps, hazards, and puzzles
- Chapter 8 – Victory and death – Heroic deaths, cheating the odds, plot devices, experience and advancement