At first glance, a race seems pretty straight-forward: if a character and an opponent are both trying to reach the magic sword/the helpless victim/the escape pod before the other, whichever is faster should win. But there are some provisos to this. A turn is normally two moves of 30, 60, 90 or 120 feet, depending on armor and encumbrance. In a "flight/pursuit situation" (U&WA p. 8,) it's four moves, but requiring rest after 4 turns. Performing an action that can't be done "on the hoof" means giving up at least one move. Thus:
- Opponents who judge themselves to be much faster than you may take the more leisurely two moves per turn, so that they can move for 5 turns instead of 4 turns.
- You can attempt to slow opponents down, if you are close enough (trip, drop valuable item,) or a third party may slow one or both of you down (archers firing random arrows.)
- Evenly-matched racers would seemingly arrive simultaneously, but there should be more variation.
We could solve the third problem by using ability scores as a tie-breaker: Dex for short distances, Con for long distances. The tie-breaker approach is what I suggested way back in my simple skill system post, although I didn't specifically talk about racing there. If they are still tied, any character with more experience racing gets the advantage.
However, we could make these ties a little more interesting by letting each racer roll a 1d6 situation roll. On a 5+, that racer gets a further +1.
To solve other problems, we can break the distance to the goal down into 30-foot segments. So, a heavily-encumbered adventurer travels one segment in one move, but a less-encumbered one travels two or three segments, and those who are completely unencumbered travel four segments per move. Actions that slow a racer require situation rolls to see if the racer loses one move:
- Arrow traps, or archers firing into race course: risk a hit or automatically dodge, but roll 5+ on 1d6 to avoid losing a move while dodging.
- Tripping opponent: each side rolls 5+ or loses a move; side with higher Dex gets +1 to roll.
- Dropping oil behind you: Opponent rolls 5+ modified by Dex or loses a move.
You could also allow pushing the limits: squeeze an extra segment in, but make a 5+ on 1d6 roll per extra segment or become tired, followed by "very tired" and "exhausted" (handled as wound levels, described in another post.)
I'll address changes needed for chases in a future post.