Quick Car Chase Rules

by Chris Johnson

Introduction

These rules allow quick, efficient, and accurate means to incorporate car chase scenarios into gaming sessions. The rules lean more toward simplicity than technicality. They are designed specifically to be used without the need for miniatures or counters on a map, although such items can easily be used if desired. The entire chase can be kept up with on paper, and can most likely be done without any paper and writing if need be. The level of realism by use of miniatures and other game-aids is entirely up to the GM and players. Since such events often occur unplanned in gaming session (i.e. the character suddenly jumps in his car and has to run down a escaping villain) the system was designed to be quickly accessible requiring no prior set-up.

These rules can be used for pretty much any car chase scenario, whether they be a basic police chase in the middle of an adventure, or an elaborate Indy 500-style car race. They are also extremely portable and therefore not limited to any one gaming system.

In short, if you are looking for a quick, yet fun means to handle car chases, then this is the system for you. If you are looking for a system that allows for car design, car accessories, possibilities for any maneuver imaginable, and an elaborate counter-based mapping system, then these rules are not for you.

If you are looking for a way to do car chases on an even simpler basis, check out the One-Brain Cell Car Chase Rules.

Basics

This system is turn-based . In short, each player is allowed 1 maneuver per turn. There are nine possible maneuvers the player can choose from.

  • Maneuvers
  • Left Turn
  • Right Turn
  • Sharp Left Turn
  • Sharp Right Turn
  • Bootleg Reverse
  • Hard Accelerate
  • Hard Brake
  • Soft Side Swipe*
  • Hard Side Swipe*
  • Quick Lane Shift
  • Sideswipe Hold*

* Can only be performed when in close proximity to another car.

The Game Turn

Usually a car chase will begin with one car ahead of the other(s). Initially the GM needs to decide how far apart the cars are, in units. (A unit does not necessarily represent a given term of measurement in the real world; it is simply a means to keep up with distance between vehicles.) It is also necessary to decide initial speeds for each vehicles. Each participant must start each turn deciding whether he or she wants to accelerate, decelerate, or maintain speed. For the sake of simplicity, unless one or more cars use a maneuver Hard Accelerate or Hard Brake, this initial acceleration/deceleration is the same speed rate among all the vehicles. In other words, if a black car is chasing a red car, and the red car decides to accelerate, his rate of acceleration is the same as the other car. (This is for simplicity purposes.) Therefore, if both cars decide to accelerate on their turn, no progress is made between the cars and the distance stays the same. If one car accelerates and the other maintains, then the distance between them is bridged 1 unit per turn. If one accelerates and one decelerates, the distance is bridged 2 units per turn. Note: if one player wishes to catch up with another car, he should probably also do a Hard Accelerate for his or her maneuver that turn. i.e. if a driver puts the pedal to the floor to catch up with a car, this action would not be an initial acceleration (although he might have done that too), but the maneuver called Hard Accelerate.

Once the initial speed decision is made that turn, each driver decides on a maneuver. Any maneuver can be performed, except the Side Swipe Hold, which attempts to hold position against a side-swiping car.

Order, or initiative, is determined in one of two ways. If the chase is used in a roleplaying game scenario, then find the character trait most akin to speed or dexterity in that game system (GM’s discretion) and compare all scores. The one with the highest trait score goes first.

If the chase is being done independent of a roleplaying game, each player simply rolls a die; the highest roller goes first. Any ties are rerolled. Then the maneuvers are executed in the order of initiative.

Maneuvers

As mentioned above, maneuvers are either movement, aggressive or defensive. Movement and defensive maneuvers can be done any time, no matter what distance lies between vehicles. However, aggressive maneuvers can only be done when another car is in close proximity. Only when a car has closed the gap between it and another by accelerating or Hard Accelerating (from the Maneuver Table) can aggressive maneuvers be done.

When a maneuver is executed, a 10-sided die will be rolled. Depending on vehicle speed, the attempt may or may not be easy. Consult the table below to determine what to roll, or less, to achieve success.

Maneuver 1-20mph 31-50 51-70 71-90 91-110 111-130 131-140 151-160 161+
L/R Turn 10 10 9 9 8 8 7 7 6
Sharp L/R Turn 9 9 8 8 7 6 5 4 3
Hard Accelerate 9 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
Hard Brake 9 8 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Soft Side Swipe 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 4 3
Hard Side Swipe 8 7 8 6 6 5 4 3 2
Quick Lane Shift 9 8 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Side Swipe Block 10 9 8 8 7 7 6 6 5

If the roll is failed, then the car has, to some degree, lost control. This may or may not be something major. Roll on the table below to determine what has happened.

Roll Results
1-5 Minor skid; only insignificant loss of control
6 Car tires hit a slick area and the car has to maintain speed and direction for 1 turn
7 Minor fishtail; there is an 80% chance that control can be regained, otherwise the car will fishtail for 1-5 turns in the direction it was going until it stops
8 Car careens on two wheels. Temporary complete loss of control for 2 turns_ Car sustains light damage
9 Major fishtail; there is a 50% chance that control can be regained; otherwise the car will fishtail for 1-10 turns in the direction it was going until it stops
10* Tires catch on something and the car flips. Car sustains heavy damage. Driver may be injured (GM’s discretion)

* Cannot happen below 40mph. Under such circumstances, reroll.

Any player using Hard Accelerate increases speed by 5 mph per second. This is added to acceleration also gained by the turn’s initial accelerate decision, if that decision was made. So a player who decided to accelerate on a given turn, then chooses a Hard Accelerate that turn would get an acceleration of 10 mph. A player doing a Hard Accelerate after having decided an initial decelerate would cancel out and maintain current speed. As mentioned earlier, distance between cars is also a factor. One Hard Accelerate allows for bridging 2 units. One Hard Brake causes a loss of 2 units. This is along with (not included in) the units gained or lost from the initial speed decision at the beginning of the turn. So, if a black car, having initially decided to accelerate does a Hard Accelerate, and the red car he is chasing does a hard brake after choosing an initial decelerate, then the distance between the cars is bridged by 6 units. Remember, units are not a measurement of distance covered, but of distance between cars.

If cars speeds are exactly matched on a given turn, then each player must roll a die. The player who rolls the highest gains one more unit of distance, and the other does not.

Note: if players wish not to use maps, then they can keep up with the distance between cars by keeping the number handy on paper, until the cars are in close proximity of 1 unit from each other.

Collisions

If the distance in units determined at the beginning of the chase has been bridged to where the cars are 1 unit from each other, then a collision may occur between them. At 1 unit’s distance, a Side Swipe maneuver may be attempted. If successful, refer to the collision table below. Any turn toward, accelerating into, or decelerating into another car also causes a collision.

Also, if an object (another car or anything else) is in the way of a car, a collision occurs. (There may be instances where the GM may place obstacles in the path.) In the case of any collision, the severity is determined by a die roll on the table below:

Roll Results
1-5 Light collision; minor damage to the car; there is a 10% chance the car is rendered inoperable
6-8 Moderate collision; there is a 50% chance the car is inoperable; 25% chance of some driver injury (GM’s discretion on severity); and 10% chance of fire
9-10 Heavy collision; extensive damage to car; there is a 90% chance the car is inoperable; 50% chance of driver injury; 25% chance of fire; 5% chance of explosion

Note: If the collision involves two (or more) cars colliding, then this roll must be made for both cars.

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