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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Simplifying the Race and the Chase

Brendan has a post on chases that refers back to one of my old posts on the topic. His solution to the problem involves a straight roll-off, highest result wins, which does simplify it quite a bit. Not too bad a solution.

I wouldn't necessarily want to do it that way, though, because I see races and chases as falling into two categories:
  1. It's just a quick chase with nothing happening during the run; you just want to get it over with and move on to the next situation.
  2. It's all about the race or chase itself, and you want interesting things to happen during the run.
For the first situation, the simplest response is just to give victory to the faster side, with a d6 roll for the players to break ties (5+ means they succeed, modify by which side has the highest Dex for short or twisty courses, Con for endurance runs.) Don't break it down by segments, just get it over with.

I don't think a straight roll-off, either 1d6 as I suggest for ties or multiple d6s as Brendan suggests, really addresses the second situation. It's not about who wins, but what happens to blow the race. Although my old post attempts to address this, I think it's too complicated now. So what I would suggest instead is to divide the faster speed by the slower to get a number of chances per turn that the faster runners can either push beyond their limits or attempt a dirty trick. The slower runner gets only one chance at either.
  • Add +1 to speed per "push"
  • Roll a d6 per "push": every roll of 5+ means 1 point of exhaustion (Treat as not-fatal damage, recovering 1 point per turn of rest.)
  • roll a d6 per trick; every roll of 5+ subtracts 1 point from other side's speed.
  • tricks like tripping require both sides to roll a d6 instead of just one; if the opponent's roll succeeds, the trick backfires (but also still affects the opponent if your roll succeeds.)
Whoever's got the higher speed at the end wins the race. For a chase, add the distance between the opposing sides to the speed of the fleeing side, but only for the first turn. After all rolls in a turn, a tie for speed means the chase continues the next turn. After four turns, speeds are halved for creatures that tire.


  1. If you want to have a multi-iteration race, the skill challenge system from 4E might also work. Each turn, first side that accumulates two successes wins (ties require a following round, repeating until the tie is broken). (Actual dice rolled don't really matter to the structure... could be d6, could be dex rolls, could be something else, as long as it's easy to derive for monsters when necessary.)

    Downside: it doesn't incorporate fatigue as your proposal here does.

    Assuming the classic running from monsters example, would you have each PC roll independently, to see if anyone is left behind? What about armor penalties?

    1. That should read:

      Each turn, both sides roll a check, first side that accumulates two successes (by beating the counter-party roll) wins ...

    2. Does the 4e system incorporate movement rates in some way? I think it's imperative that creatures that move significantly faster than other creatures should win a race or chase unless something else happens.

      In theory, every PC can roll independently, although in practice faster PCs can skip pushing themselves ahead of their comrades, and any PC can skip playing tricks on the opponent (and may have to, if they can't find a trick they could pull.)

      I wouldn't adjust for armor at all, unless it was an unusual suit of armor, like a dwarf wearing human-sized armor, maybe. The armor adjusts speed, and I figure that's enough.

    3. Oh, and I meant to add that I thought of a simple integration of your approach and mine. I'll post a quick thing tomorrow.

  2. What about a chase with many runners in each "team" ? How do you handle a situation like this ?

    1. Roll dice for each runner? Or not. Remember, I'm only saying "roll the dice if you're trying to push yourself faster or pulling some kind of trick." For GM-controlled monsters chasing PCs to eat/kill/capture them, there's probably not going to be any dice rolls, unless they can somehow pull off a trick. We don't care if the monsters run at different speeds; all we care about is if the fastest monster catches the slowest PC. As for the PCs, if the faster ones don't care about the slower ones, they can just take off at a steady speed and not roll. Only the slow guys might want to roll.