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Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #335

GMing Car Chases


Contents: 

Edited by: Isaac Calon


This Week's Tips Summarized 

GMing Car Chases

  1. Use Playing Cards
  2. Know Your Player Characters
  3. Random Resolution Chart (GURPS)
  4. Make A Chase Events Deck
  5. Think In Cinematic Terms
  6. Real-Time Gaming
  7. Run A Step-By-Step Contest
  8. Try Spycraft 2.0
  9. Use Some DM Timing
  10. Small Cars Get Hurt Worse Than Big Ones
  11. Remove Unnecessary Details

Readers' Tips Summarized 

  1. Fantasy Money Product
    From: Steve Bollenbaugh
  2. Use Open Office Calc To Make Spell Lists
    From: Francois Beausoleil
  3. Minis Storage Boxes
    From: Jeffrey G. Strause
  4. Running PBeM Combats
    From: John Grigsby

Vale of the Sepulcher PDF Released

Expeditious Retreat Press has released the electronic version of 1 on 1 Adventures #5: Vale of the Sepulcher. Designed for 1 game master and 1 player, cleric level 9-11, this action-packed adventure through the Tomb of Kings is a cleric's dream. Can the PC discover what has happened in the isolated mountain town before events turn disastrous? Pick up your copy and find out!

www.XRPshop.citymax.com

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A Brief Word From Johnn 

A Brief Word From Johnn

Request For Feedback On GM/Player Surveys

Today's feature article is all about chases, and I think there's a great range of advice that should appeal to many different GMing styles. We are on a bit of a roll helping readers with their tips requests. Thanks for all the great e-mails and tips! Here's another request I'd like your help on:

re:

Heya Johnn,

I recall a couple of articles about player questionnaires. The players were asked questions that helped the gamemaster choose play style, setting, tone, and so on for a session or extended campaign.

I haven't seen an update or reprise of that information, but I bet there are a lot of readers who would like to get a refresher. Is there a chance you would revisit the topic with an eye to updating? Maybe a call to GMs in the readership to see who tried the questionnaires and what they found was useful or not so much?

Cheers!

Dale P.

If you've used one those surveys, or used a different one, please write in with your tips, advice, suggestions, and links. Thanks!

Johnn Four,
johnn@roleplayingtips.com

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6" Foam 20 Sided Die

Not a plushie, but a super dense foam that rolls very well on carpet, tables, hardwood, etc. These things are easy to throw!

6" Foam 20 Sided Die Picture

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GMing Car Chases  

Last week I posted a reader request for help on running car chases, and you folks responded with some excellent tips. Thank you very much! That's awesome support for your fellow GM, and hopefully the answer he's looking for can be found in the tips below.

The Reader Request

I try and I try and I try, but I have serious issues with getting a car chase running properly for my players. I run into two main problems every time:

  1. The characters manage to disable the car, stop the car, stop the occupants, or generally stymie the getaway of the antagonists.
  2. I'm phenomenally bad at storytelling fast-paced scenes like a car chase.

Does anyone out there in RPG land have any suggestions for how to deal with these two problems?

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1. Use Playing Cards 

From: Mike Bourke

Hi Johnn,

How appropriate this request came in the same issue as the tips on card-based tools, because my solution to the problem uses ordinary playing cards instead of die rolls:

  • Hearts = excellent driving
  • Clubs = poor driving
  • Spades = skid
  • Diamonds = unexpected development

The chase is resolved in rounds. Draw 1 card for each vehicle and add the driver's skill (picture cards count as 10). If the following car gets the bigger total, then it closes up on the car in front of it. If the leading car gets the bigger total then it draws further away. Use the combination of the two suits shown to explain the events.

There are several ways to end the chase: when the gap closes by a certain amount, when one (and only one) of the cars draws an ace, or when the action suggested by the cards would make an end suitably dramatic.

For example:

Lead Car: Skill 5 (or 15 or whatever)
Chase Car: Skill 6 (or 16 or whatever).

Round 1) lead car: 5 of clubs, chase car 3 of spades = poor driving and a skid pulls the lead car (5-3=2; 2-1=1) 1 space further away.

Round 2) 2 of diamonds, 7 of Spades, so the chase car closes up by (7-2+1=6) 6 spaces because of an unexpected development and a skid. Perhaps a snowplough emerges from a side street right in front of the lead vehicle, forcing the driver to throw the car sideways into a skid before recovering. And so on.

The beauty of this system is that it takes the hard work out of the process, gives you hints as to what to use for the rest, and (in general) is absolutely fair in the long run - while still reflecting differences in skill levels. It's also easy to use!

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2. Know Your Player Characters 

From: Marc Kinsville

The reader's car chase problems could be due to lack of foresight. As a GM, you could have crafted a very intense, action-packed chase sequence only to have it cut short because you forgot the player characters have a particular power/skill that kills the scene outright.

For example, "I use my telekinetic power to levitate the opponent's car 1 inch off the ground, causing the wheels to spin uselessly in the air, hence stopping the car!"

Sometimes, when a player thinks up an ingenious use of his power, whole scenes are shot to hell, but hey, more power to the player character.

It's better to reward the player by seeing him directly affecting the story scene rather than the GM coming up with a lame excuse as to why the player character's power didn't work. I've seen the latter happen and it should come to no surprise the player feels cheated.

Knowing the PCs' powers and skills is key to crafting scenes that will give the group some kind of challenge.

Consider the following:

  1. Multiple chasers We've seen how action heroes like James Bond get chased by not just one but multiple "clad in black" extras. We know our hero is going to get away but that is not the point. What really makes the sequence exciting is the unique and spectacular ways the hero disposes of his would-be captors. One bad guy goes off a cliff, another goes careening into a construction site, another is rammed into a truck full of cow manure, etc.
  2. Environment Slippery roads, crowded streets, and other immediate environment conditions could all lend themselves to aiding or hampering character powers and skills. Maybe the vehicle itself has a particular problem (summer tires on a wintery road) that can hamper pursuit, making the chase sequence particularly dangerous.
  3. Opponents having skills and powers similar to the PC's This entails that the GM did some research beforehand. Maybe the opponent's skills and powers cancels out the PC's. It's a bit of a sneaky way of countering a PC's powers to ensure the chase goes on, but it encourages the PCs to come up with another way of dealing with the situation.
  4. End result A chase sequence, just like any other intense scene, is a means to propel the story forward, and it can end in one of two ways: the quarry gets caught or the quarry gets away.

    The GM must therefore prepare the story in the likelihood that either can happen. If the end result is crafted beforehand, then the chase sequence is nothing more than gratuitous. How imperative is it the players succeed in capturing (or escaping from) their foe?
  5. Getting everyone involved What you want to avoid is having the scene boil down to just dice rolls between the GM and one player (more likely the one player whose character is driving).

The chase scene should be crafted so everyone is participating somehow. For example, one player is driving, another is shooting, another is trying to use his laptop to get a city street map, another is spotting hazards. This way, the end result of the scene doesn't just hinge on one player alone.

If you are still having trouble with crafting car chase sequences, I highly suggest renting DVDs like "The Fast and the Furious" and listening carefully to the director's or writer's commentary on the car chase sequences in the special features section. You might find some nugget of insight or inspiration there.

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3. Random Resolution Chart (GURPS) 

From: Matt

Here's a sample resolution chart from one of my various free chase rules on my GURPS web page.

Roll 2d6 on the table below until a participant has won two contests of skill in a row (to either escape or catch up to the other vehicle):

Car Chase

  1. Randomly determine a participant to have a mechanical problem. Roll vs. Mechanic to continue.
  2. Shortcut: back alley, detours, or a route with less traffic. Roll a contest of Area knowledge (or Spotting).
  3. Obstacle: hot-dog cart, baby carriage or workers carrying an enormous piano, sofa, window or mirror. Driving roll to avoid.
  4. Hazard: holes, construction, roadblocks, other vehicles. Roll vs. Driving or crash for 2d6 damage.
  5. Traffic: highway, freeway, downtown area or parking lot. Roll a contest of driving skill.
  6. Straightaway: contest of Driving (+4 for the faster vehicle).
  7. Sharp turn: contest of Driving, and a hubcap flies off.
  8. Bad road conditions: gravel, ice, rain or 'off-road'. Contest of Driving.
  9. Barrier: wall, roadblock, gate, train or backing out semi-trailer. Driving roll to avoid
  10. Other vehicles: irate motorists or police, sheriff, or state patrol cars. Driving roll to avoid and/or they may join the chase.
  11. Ditch the car. Change to a different chase mode.

Note: Any critical failure results in a crash (2d6 damage).

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4. Make A Chase Events Deck 

From: Dave

I have seen, in roleplay modules and supplements, a flow chart system or random roll system for chases. Each turn/round/time period, you roll a die and take a turn or keep going. You add in random events like a truck pulling out, heavy traffic, old lady crossing the street, or anything that hinders the chaser or chased.

This also could use a card tool that the past couple of issues have talked about. Make a deck of cards with turns, and sprinkle in random events, or even a random event deck that you go to when a certain card gets picked. I know that others could probably help with finding info on the actual flow charts that some games have.

As to how to get it started and running, take a page from TV and movies:

  • The antagonist runs around a corner and when the heroes come around the corner they see a vehicle starting to move, and the antagonist is either not seen or spotted in the vehicle.
  • The antagonist stops a car and pulls the driver out.
  • The foe finds a random car with the keys in it.

If the PCs try to shoot or disable the vehicle somehow, employ obstacles, such as other people, other vehicles, surprise, movement, distance--anything that gives them a negative. Give them a chance but make it a Hail Mary, not a shoe-in. They are heroes, not gods.

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5. Think In Cinematic Terms 

From: Thomas Grable

My advice for the car chase would be to think in cinematic terms. One of the best examples in movie history is from The French Connection. Watch that for tips on how a thrilling car chase should run.

Whether the players are in the lead car or the pursuit vehicle, car chases can be conducted with pulse pounding excitement. This may be a time when describing the events works better than using a standard playing grid or miniatures. Car chases can stretch over a large enough area that mapping it out in 1" squares would require a football field. Use a road atlas instead, one of the big foldout types, and chart the progress of the chase on that.

The mechanics may have to be tweaked a little. Part of the intensity of a car chase is following too close for safety. In real life, we don't get to watch the opponent make a full round drive action, move his vehicle, then plot the easiest course to follow. Instead, we might be right on his tail and depending on quick reflexes to match his moves in time.

Examples include turning suddenly to left or right, pulling a bootlegger reverse, slamming on the brakes, or braking and suddenly putting the vehicle into reverse.

This is hard to recreate in a turn-based system like d20, where each person completes his action before the next person takes his. I'd suggest adding something like a Reflex save to react in time when the vehicle in front takes an unexpected action, perhaps at a DC set by the driver skill check of the one making the initial maneuver, with conditional modifiers based on the driving conditions and obstacles.

Throw in obstacles to be avoided, and some that can be blown through. Pedestrians (particularly with baby carriages), other vehicles, road construction, and objects hanging from cranes are all classic obstacles in movie chase scenes. Make Reflex saves for pedestrians in the path of the vehicles to leap to safety. Some may make it, some may not. You can have some help others, from mothers grabbing babies from their carriages at the last moment to a good Samaritan tackling the little old lady to save her from the oncoming vehicle.

You can have an intense thrill ride for a time, only to have the chase end suddenly when one vehicle (pursuer or pursued) crashes into another vehicle, a building, or goes off an unfinished bridge.

A common means by which movie writers allow the fox to elude the hounds comes in the form of a random vehicle that enters from a side street, blocking pursuit. Said random vehicle must have sufficient mass that it can't simply be bashed out of the way (those are just part of car chase fun). Big rigs and garbage trucks are good choices.

Have fun, and good luck!

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6. Real-Time Gaming 

From: Tyler Elkink

I had the exact same problem a while back. I solved it with "real-time" gaming.

Most games describe a turn as three seconds, fifteen seconds, one second, or suchlike. For fast-paced action scenes, I force the players to react in that amount of time. If a round is three seconds, I'll point to the first player and snap "Go!" They have three seconds to declare their action and start rolling. If they hum and haw or try to plan, they lose their turn. If they ask for a clearer description, I say "It's too dark! You're moving too fast! All you can see are silhouettes!" If they want to talk to another player, I let them, but only for three seconds, and their turn is done.

I'll have prepared scripts for the NPCs to speed things up even more: this one is driving, that one keeps shooting, a third tries to jump between vehicles. This allows me to make rolls quickly and give short descriptions.

For chase scenes, I make an "escape point" some pre- determined number of turns ahead, created by a truck overturning, a peasant woman desperately needing help, a bridge collapsing, or something similarly motivational. If the PCs can't finish them off before then, tough luck.

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7. Run A Step-By-Step Contest 

From: mrmike

I haven't done car chases, but I have done horse chases and on-foot chases. When the chase is given, the player and I roll d20s at the same time. That is the number of steps each party takes. We keep rolling until one racer wins.

Note: the term step is a loose reference. For example, if it's a foot race of two opponents racing for the golden idol, the step becomes a 5" square.

For a car chase, I would give the one being chased a specific distance or goal before they could be considered free and clear, then I'd divide that distance into 100 segments. The parties would keep rolling until someone wins. It might help to use graph paper and mark off squares according to the numbers rolled.

If they make it without being run off the road (or whatever), they win the encounter. Every time the chaser's rolls bring the character ahead of the chased, the chaser would get to attempt an action (grapple check, kick, whatever) and roll a skill check to see if it succeeded.

If your bad guys aren't winning enough, then the characters can take more, so buff your foes up. Also, you can fudge rolls for the bad guys to make the story flow better. Players that win all the time get bored. If the bad guy dies in scene one, what happens in scene two? Another thing, bad guys can always try to flee the scene, give up their goal (for the moment), and come back with reinforcements or better gear.

As far as the storytelling: take your time. Describe the action after each roll. If there's not much more than "X gains ground and pulls ahead" then stop there. But if the character giving chase pulls ahead and successfully side- swipes X, then tell it like it is. I will often recap a number of sequences to give a progressive narration of the action. You might also allow the players to describe their characters' actions when they make a successful roll, though you want to be careful on how much you let them decide what has happened as a result of their rolls. Otherwise, X will get the snot beat out of him every time.

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8. Try Spycraft 2.0 

From: Buzz

I highly recommend the chase rules from Spycraft 2.0. They obviate the need for messing with maps (always tricky with vehicles/mounts), and they have pacing mechanisms built-in. In an RPG, suspense can often come from being able to track progress, and the scoring system in the chase rules accomplishes this. I believe that Adamant has a generic d20 PDF of these rules.

As for stymieing the antagonists...well, that's what PCs do. :) If you don't want to give them a chance to stop the bad guys, you need to either just have them get away, or else make use of a system like M&M2e, Spycraft, or Buffy where you can trade their escape for action/plot/drama points for the PCs.

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9. Use Some DM Timing 

From: David Saggers

For the first problem, use some DM timing and have the car getting away just as they discover it. "You hear the squeal of tires as a car takes off at high speed down the street."

Also throw some random people or objects in the way. You go to shoot out the tires, but the lights turn red, and people start to cross the road."

As for describing car chases, get down to your DVD rental store (or visit a movie buff friend), get some movies with car chases in them (try the James Bond movies, Gone in 50 Seconds, and Bullet) and make notes on what is happening. You can either script out a chase or create some cards with car chase events and use them every so often to see what is happening.

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10. Small Cars Get Hurt Worse Than Big Ones 

From: Loz Newman

Car chases: I run them by keeping in mind a few simple rules:

  1. Keep it simple, keep it fast. If the rules system tries to slow you down, dump the fine detail and cut the delays to the bone. Concentrate on the important bits (Amber and other diceless systems exploit this already).

    Self-training trick: re-run a car chase from a DVD and narrate it dramatically in real-time. This will show you what's important and what's window dressing.
  2. High-speed chases are very senses based. People in cars have their fields of vision cut down and have to sense constantly to keep current. They are also being pulled left and right, forward and back, up and sometimes down by acceleration forces. Piling these impressions one upon another helps build the players' mental images, and push that breathless feeling up a notch...screaming tires, crunching bodywork, sudden jolts, floating gorges, trembling hands, and breathless relief when it's all over....and that's without those pesky, surprise bullet-holes!
  3. Don't give the players time to think up complex plans. Time's a' wasting! Move it or lose it! Car chases from the players' point of view should be simple, fast, dramatic improvisation. The keywords for the GM's point of view are: abrupt, surprising, and bad news.
  4. PCs with local knowledge should have special privileges. Those who know the region/streets they're speeding toward should be the only ones allowed to have (ask for) advanced knowledge of what's going to be hurtling toward the windshield in a few seconds (i.e. access to the map, knowledge of shortcuts).
  5. Modern petrol tanks don't explode if hit by bullets. Modern cars are generally lighter/more fragile than older ones, but they are designed to help passengers survive better (crumple zones, air-bags, seat-belts). Combat customised vehicles can have puncture-proof tires or roll- while-flat tires, even bullet-proof glass/body work...at a hefty weight-penalty cost.
  6. Damage equals speed times mass, spread over (divided by) the impact area. Both vehicles take damage from a collision. Both vehicles are destabilised. Small cars get hurt worse than big ones.
  7. The iron laws of traction and inertia are merciless.

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11. Remove Unnecessary Details 

From: Jeff Groves

Here's how I would set up a car chase. First, just one car harassing the PCs? That falls under the same problems as solo monsters; a lucky hit and your entire encounter is face-down on the floor. You need to add more. I would get the police involved somehow so the PCs have to shake the fuzz off before they can stop the villains. That still lets the PCs just blow up the villain's car and drive off, so make the PCs need their foes alive. I'd either give them important info or a hostage.

While I narrate it, I would remove unnecessary details. Keep it slim, keep it streamlined. Instead, add actions. Pedestrians, cross-traffic, stop lights, hills, and the occasional detour should be tossed in and shaken vigorously. Try to describe events in three sentences or less, no commas, with a tone of urgency. You want your players screaming their actions.

GM: "The villains speed through a red light. A semi swerves to miss them. Now it's heading straight for you."

PCs: "Turn! Turn!"

GM: *rolls* "You swerve and scrape your paint on the honking semi. You don't get back into your lane before the dividers. You are now driving against traffic in the wrong lane."

PCs: "Gangway! Mad Car! Mad Car!"

GM: "The police are still firing on your vehicle--do you answer?"

Finally, the main cars in chases don't die. Even if half the engine's blown and you could shoot rockets through the holes in the frame, the car will continue running until it's over. At that point, it will fall to pieces, or blow up spectacularly once the PCs are clear.

You can never have too many explosions in a car chase.

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Readers' Tips Of The Week: 

1. Fantasy Money Product 

From: Steve Bollenbaugh

re: Roleplaying Tips Issue #334: Player Handouts

Related to the card-based tools issue, your fellow Canadians at WWG have also just released a fantasy money set: Coins of the Realm.

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2. Use OpenOffice Calc To Make Spell Lists 

From: Francois Beausoleil

In my last game, I was playing a 7th level Cleric (D&D 3.5). I used OpenOffice Calc to make my spell lists. I had lists split like this:

  1. Combat / Short Range / 1st level
  2. Travel / 1st level
  3. Combat / 2nd level

An so on, up to third level. In all, I had 8 mini sheets. I then cut paper printouts up so each mini spell sheet fit on an index card. When my PC slept, I simply took the whole list, decided what the next day would look like, and took the appropriate cards out.

On the lists, I had columns for spell name, range, etc. The most important column I had was the page number in the book. This helped tremendously to quickly find the actual page where the full data was stored.

OpenOffice: www.openoffice.org

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3. Minis Storage Boxes 

From: Jeffrey G. Strause www.gamicon.org

Here is a great way to store and carry minis anywhere you go: minis storage boxes.jpg

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4. Running PBeM Combats 

From: John Grigsby

In my PbEMs, we handle combat as follows:

  1. The DM makes all the die rolls. If you're trusting me to run the game, you can trust me to read a dice. This greatly simplifies things. I use Irony's on-line die roller for all my PbEM die rolls. It's handy, it's fair, and I don't have to have a set of dice nearby.
  2. When combat begins, I roll initiative for all participants and produce a list of initiative rolls (in order of action) for all participants of which the characters are aware.
  3. Each player then sends me a message of their general intent for the next three rounds of combat. It should be as inclusive as possible to cover any possibility they can think of. We use the following system (developed by a GM whose PbEM I played in and who thought the system was great):

    Combat is a frequent occurrence in D&D, and so as not to slow gameplay down, it will be conducted in three-round battle segments. At the end of every three rounds, a description of the events in both prose and game mechanic terms will be sent to all participants.

    Players should inform me of their characters' general intentions during that three round span. Because unforeseen situations always arise in combat, and it will often be necessary for me to make decisions on a character's behalf, you must also specify your character's combat mode for that three-round period:
  • Conservative melee: The character closes for melee combat but does so cautiously, ensuring he does not expose himself to unnecessary risks. He will quickly retreat if things seem too dangerous.
  • Standard melee: The character engages in melee, not taking any excessive risks, but not in a particularly cautious manner either.
  • Aggressive melee: The character rushes into battle, attacking regardless of risk to personal injury.
  • Defensive. The character avoids melee combat completely, retaliating only when attacked.
  • Ranged: The character relies on ranged weapons and stays out of melee, if possible.
  • Magic Defensive: The character casts spells only to protect himself in an emergency.
  • Magic standard: The character casts spells as and when the situation dictates but with regards to economy, taking care not to use up all his spells.
  • Magic aggressive: The character uses magic liberally, regardless of economy.

    Your personal preference and general statement of intent will always take precedence over these modes, but in case of unforeseen events, this will help me to determine how your character behaves.

Using these elements, I produce a combat turn that looks something like this (taken from a recent move in my Old is New PbEM):

Gareth lowers the tip of his longsword to keep it pointed at the thing, keeping his buckler in front of him. He steps so that he is centered on the door frame, with room to swing but not so much that the thing might get by him into the passage. He does not step forward, but sets to receive a charge, letting the creature come to him.

"Cursed little thing looks harmless enough." Squatting, Keldan mutters to himself as he more closely examines the tiny needle sticking from the trap. "But then that's probably what whoever put it here was countin' on. I think...."

"There's a...thing...out here. Might need some backup!" Gareth growls back to the group.

Keldan is beginning to give a furtive pull on the drawer to see if it is still locked when he hears Gareth's call from the end of the hall. He leaves the drawer be. Standing, he looks down at Robin and Durak huddling over Rolkin.

"I think I'll be seein' if I can find somethin' useful to do with meself 'round here." Brandishing his greatsword, he nods at Creshin toward Gareth's direction.

Creshin looks longingly at the still closed drawer, but heeds his companion's call to arms. As they leave the room he mentions to whoever is with him, "Once we're done with whatever beast Gareth has spotted, I want to find out what that trap's protecting."

Anxious to prove himself still worthy, Rolkin wriggles free of Durak's care and dashes to join the others. With a sigh, the dwarf and Robin exchange glances, then move to join them as well.

Once they arrive at the end of the hall, Creshin follows Gareth's gaze to the glowing eyes below the stairs. "Has it made any threatening moves?" he asks. "Maybe we should try and talk to it." Despite his peaceful idea, Creshin makes sure he has a good grip on his sword in case a battle begins.

Keldan studies the creature a moment, unable to see it clearly. "We should let it make the first move," he says, "hopefully giving us time to observe it and figure out what it is and capable of."

Robin is smart enough to leave the fighting to the large hunks with big bits of steel in their hands. She holds her staff ready, if need be, though if it comes to her fighting this thing off with a stick, they're in a lot of trouble. She gives some attention to what the thing is and what it is doing, but she does not lose sight of the fact they are still in an unknown and potentially dangerous place. She also pays attention to any other sources of trouble that might try to creep up on them from behind, or flank them.

"If it charges us, maybe we can lock it in one of the rooms?" she suggests quietly. She pulls up behind the bulk of the group and takes a closer look with low-light vision, hoping to get a clearer view of the thing beneath the stairs. "It's a weasel," she reports, but I've never seen one that size before!"

No sooner do the words leave her lips than the beast charges the hall entrance, moving with incredible speed for something its size! Gareth senses the onslaught and prepares, bracing himself with buckler at the ready. As it nears, Gareth lashes out with his sword. A large gash opens in the weasel's cheek, but it presses forward, slamming into the warrior. Remarkably, Gareth manages to interpose his buckler between himself and the beast, and the weasel's jaws clamp down on the metal rim of the tiny shield. It draws back slightly and hisses.

Behind the two warriors on the front line, Rolkin and Creshin both struggle in vain to find a way to join the combat, but it is no use. The towering forms block the action.

"Keldan, step forward and I'll try to get behind it," Creshin calls out. Keldan nods, but makes no move to do so. Instead, his greatsword rises and falls, but the attack lacks power, and instead of penetrating the beast's hide, it merely bounces away harmlessly, taking a few tufts of fur.

Gareth slashes at his foe again, still trying to keep the jaws from his face and torso. This time, his sword leaves a great wound in the weasel's back, but the creature retaliates by clamping down on Gareth's leg! He feels the teeth enter the flesh, cutting right through the chainmail that protects it. The pain is intense, but the warrior steels himself against it. Then, he feels a strange sensation. The weasel's jaws stiffen and lock.

Keldan wastes no time, stepping forward to permit Creshin to pass and bringing his greatsword down on the foe once more. This time, he is able to swing with full force and there is a loud crack as the sword impacts the creature's spine. Blood sprays in a wide arc and the sword continues through the bone and deep into the animal's midsection.

The weasel struggles for a moment, its rear half lying motionless while the front legs pedal helplessly. Then, it lies still, eyes wide, the jaw still locked around Gareth's leg.

Game Mechanics

Round One

Initiatives:

  • Gareth 19
  • Rolkin 19
  • Robin 15
  • Sharess 14
  • Creshin 14
  • Weasel 13
  • Keldan 3
  • Durak 2

Gareth: Readies to receive charge [new initiative 13]. Attacks weasel [attack 23] for 5 points of damage.

Rolkin: No action.

Robin: No action.

Creshin: No action.

Weasel: Charges Gareth, sensing prey [attack 18] but cannot get past buckler.

Keldan: Readies to receive charge. Attacks weasel [attack 12] but cannot penetrate hide.

Durak: Readies to cast cures where necessary.

Round Two

Initiatives:

  • Rolkin 19
  • Robin 15
  • Sharess 14
  • Creshin 14
  • Gareth 13
  • Weasel 13
  • Keldan 3
  • Durak 2

Rolkin: No action. Still trapped behind companions.

Robin: No action, continues to watch for further trouble.

Creshin: Readies to move out into hall when Keldan moves.

Gareth: Attacks weasel [attack 18] for 8 points of damage.

Weasel: Attacks Gareth [attack 26] and criticals [attack 24] for 7 points of damage! Jaws latch down and lock.

Keldan: Takes a 5-foot step into room and attacks weasel [attack 24] and criticals [attack 21] for 16 points of damage! The weasel goes down.

Durak: Stands by for curing if Gareth is in need.

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In the above example, you can see that I post the results of each attack roll and damage roll (after all modifiers have been added in) in [brackets], which allows the players to see just how the character is doing. In the initiative count, familiars and animal followers are indented. I develop the game mechanics section first, then write the prose to go along with the results. The players also receive a map with 5-foot squares charted on it, so they can easily plot their actions in tactical view.

The prose is a compilation of the player's actual moves and my own wording, so that the end result is both informative and entertaining. For the players, it allows them to experience the game much more vividly, while still feeding them vital game info.

Hey, they seem to like it!

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World of Warcraft: Horde Players Guide

Glory for the Horde! Grab hammer and axe to crush the Horde's enemies! Mok-nathal warriors range across new frontiers. Shamans and witch doctors teach their skills to young adepts, and the Horde's enemies learn of its strengths and strike at its weaknesses. Delve into the Horde's history, its structure and its political climate. Discover new races, feats, classes and technology unique to the Horde. Blood and thunder!

Sword & Sorcery books are published under the Open Game License and are 100% compatible with v.3.5 rules and the d20 System.

World of Warcraft: Horde Players Guide at RPG Shop