Sunday, May 8, 2016

Adrenaline Dice

Adrenaline Dice

I love the Mad Max films.  Their action scenes are gritty, senseless, depraved and violent. Chaos rather than competence wins the day; the heroes are more lucky than skilled.
Adrenaline dice are a sub-system of vehicular combat that promote chaos and mayhem. Players roll the adrenaline dice at the beginning of each segment of combat (turn, round, whatever your system calls for.)  Each instance of doubles on the adrenaline dice allows the player to call for another driver to make some kind of roll.  It can be a save, a driving roll, whatever.  It has to be narratively consistent (no whales dropping from the sky) but it can be a result of anything that makes sense within the narrative framework of a post-apocalyptic world (including mutant creatures erupting from the ground, pits opening under the combatants, and the sudden appearance of dangerous road debris.)
The player rolls a number of d6’s equal to the sum of his driving skill and the Speed score of his vehicle.  (Speed here refers to an abstract number from one (a tractor) to three (a motorcycle) that abstracts the acceleration and handling of the vehicle.  This idea comes from Stars Without Number and Other Dust, in which vehicles can be improved by adding to their speed score.)  In games where skills are usually between zero and four, this means that better drivers in better cars are luckier than rabble in rat rods.  So be it.
If our hero, (let’s call him Max), is an exceptional driver (+4) and is driving a fast, black car with a speed of four, he will roll eight d6’s at the beginning of each turn.  Each instance of doubles will enable Max to narrate a check or save by one of his opponents.  Failure on these checks or saves usually means death or at least a crash that takes a vehicle out of the scene.  These crashes can provide the means for another check or save, if the player has enough adrenaline double to accommodate them. The purpose of these checks and saves is to create a sense that no one is in control of the combat once it starts; NPC’s also get adrenaline dice and can provoke other combatants to make checks and saves as well.
A faction of NPC’s would have only one adrenaline pool.  If a boss with a +2 to driving in a ground car +2 had four henchmen +1 on motorcycles +3, he would roll eight adrenaline dice.  Each NPC should not have his own adrenaline pool; NPC’s of a type can contribute their common scores for driving and Speed.
Since RPG’s often have player characters as passengers, they passengers also get roll Adrenaline dice (which are a narrative device and not a measure of anything.) Passengers can use their driving, Luck, Shooting, or whatever else would contribute to the likelihood of violence in a vehicular battle to total their adrenaline dice.  A passenger with a Luck save of +3 would roll three adrenaline dice.

These rules should be adaptable enough to use with many kinds of games; the Speed scores of vehicles can be assigned on the spot.  I welcome feedback on these rules, and I’d love to hear from anyone who uses them in a game.  Have a lovely day!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Twenty ways to have a lovely day

Use this table to make the next vehicular encounter unique and more fun.  The bonuses listed were imagined as low (+1 for games like Other Dust, Traveller, or FATE Acellerated or +2 for d20 mechanics) but they can be adjusted however you like.

1. Spikes. Collision damage die one type higher.
2. Hot Rods: bonus to speed
3. Heavies: bonus to armor
4. Boarders: Melee fighters, bonus to try to board your vehicles
5. Battle Rig: protected Semi, with heavy weapons, motorcycle and other light support
6. Convoy: Precious cargo (slaves, livestock, water, gas, artifacts, something weird and irreplaceable)
7. Crazies: High Morale, high-risk tactics
8. Muties: prevalent mutations used to attack.
9. Sharp shooters: bonus to all ranged attacks
10. Fragile: vehicles explode when go to half damage
11. Kamikaze: bonus to all maneuvers to force a collision, ¼ regular hit points.
12. Show-offs: bonus to “flashy” maneuvers and stunts
13. Natives: no terrain penalties
14. Kobolds: Traps, traps, traps
15. Night riders: bonus at night
16. Army: quantity x1d4+1
17. Hit and Run: low morale, all damage dice one type higher
18. Old School: All vehicles are cherry pre-catastrophe models
19. Hellfire: 1 super-weapon
20. Roll again twice


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Creepy details for real-feeling ruins

Details to spice up your ruins

1. Graffiti: Graffiti is a great way to make a ruin feel alive. Its presence tells the PC’s that they are not the first to encounter or explore this location, and that they need to be wary of whatever recent visitors have left behind.  Logic says that there will be more graffiti near population centers and less if any in remote areas.  Lots of graffiti in a desolate area should signal to PC’s that someone has taken pains to visit this location. What made it worth the trip? Graffiti is denser near the ruin’s entrance and dwindles as the PC’s explore.  A particularly spectacular or evocative room deep in the ruins might be the sight of a pilgrimage, filled with tags, murals, symbols and messages.
Casual or degenerate cults may use graffiti to document their presence, usually through poorly-drawn symbols or iconography. Graffiti can also entice delvers to go deeper, promising spectacular views or loot.  It can also attempt to ward away the foolhardy, warning explorers of lurking danger.

2. Standing, stagnant, water is always a problem.  It can range from ankle deep to chest high, even completely drowning sections of the ruin.  Water can obscure the floor and hide hazards such as pitfalls, jagged debris and predators or scavengers.  Stagnant water is also a vector for disease.  Populate your ruin with blind, diseased aquatic predators mutated from vermin, biotech or former residents.

3.  Former (or current) residents or visitors have left vehicles for safe passage through the ruins.  These might be small boats, a cache of security passes, hazmat or hard suits, or any other items that will provide safe passage through the fungual dark. The vehicle might have a map, compass or GPS on board. It might be moored next to a bit of string leading into the darkness.

4. Ruins are often piled with accumulated litter. It can be from the original occupants, from later occupants, or the ruin can have been used as a dumping site.  Garbage can be difficult terrain, an obstacle to be overcome (rubble to be cleared; debris to be burned; biomass to be…shooed), a poisonous or diseased hazard, a nasty (or helpful) creature’s lair, and/or a source of hidden loot.

5. Ruined or obsolete technology either found in the ruins or pictured in the ruin’s archive gives clues to past history or function of the ruin.  Such ancient tech might provide a source of loot or a discovery by opening a passage, revealing a view, or opening communication with another site. Dead tech may be the McGuffin of an adventure. Perhaps the PC’s have seen (or will see) an image or plan of the tech in its pristine state, but it is now rusty, dusty and possibly re-purposed.

6.  Giant virtual or actual maps of locales as they appeared at previous time are always fun. some information is valuable; some is dangerous because of how things have changed since the maps were made. Large maps can reveal the locations and original functions of other ruins, especially ones with a  related or complementary function.

7. Air becomes thinner, stinky, and stale…or unexpectedly clean and fresh.  Air can be a toxic or insidious hazard, or simply provide ambiance.

8. The ruin has an unexpected secondary or hidden functionality: medical, military, educational, re-educational, research, disinformation, surveillance, counter-espionage

9.  Darkness kills peripheral vision; bright lights kill night vision. Explorers can use red light to mitigate night-blindness; this could trigger beneficial or dangerous effects. Darkness hides hazards; darkness plus water is especially difficult and dangerous. Think Death Star trash compactor at ¾ light, and you’ve got it.

10. Decay, both of the physical building and the institutions that gave it meaning. Rust, burnt-out, broken or malfunctioning light fixtures; faded, discolored or peeling paint; dust--nano and mundane; broken or malfunctioning holo-projectors or screens; long-dead security measures; doors marked "restricted access" left open; emptied closets or other evidence of looting or flight. If these are absent, this indicates some agency (nano-scrubbers, maintenance automatons, a cargo cult) is keeping the ruin fresh either to continue its suitability for a defunct purpose or preparing it for a new one.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What the Raiders Want

What the Raiders Want:

Raiders are a staple in post-apoc games. Use this handy generator to help shape the motives of your random encounters.


1.Vehicles. They want your wheels, man. Or your horses. Or your shoes.

2.Slaves/Cannibal fodder/test subjects/trade goods/organ harvesting. Nope, they want your bodies, preferably fresh…er, alive.

3.Cargo (weapons, ammo, rations, etc.). They want your gear, and they want it intact.

4.Ritual. The raiders need to put paid to your transgressions, whether you know about them or not.   (turf protection, initiation rites, adulthood ceremony, religious sacrifice, food for the Beast, status seeking, rule enforcement (taboos, boundaries, treaties, etiquette, tolls) This result has a lot of role-play potential in it, so don’t be afraid to let the solution to this problem be diplomacy, or even a simple apology.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Have a Lovely, Lovely Day!

Welcome to Ragged Road, a blog about post-apocalyptic RPG's!  I'll be posting ideas, links, random generators, musing, maps, systems and gamable ideas mined from popular media.  Enjoy the ride!