Savage Road Warriors: part 1

Fury Road style car battles in Savage Worlds

Since seeing Mad Max: Fury Road I am on a bit of post-apocalyptic spree. If you haven't seen the movie (and you should, it is one of the best action movies I have seen!), a big part of it are extended car chases/battles in the middle of the desert. One big "War-Rig" truck is fleeing while other factions are trying to take it over. Awesomeness ensues. Long story short, I want it in my Savage Worlds games!

While Savage Worlds has mechanics for vehicle combat, I am not looking for wargame-like arena car mchanics. Fury Road takes place on a long, straight road, it was more of an action packed chase, than a skirmish. Next logical thing, was to look at th chase rules, but both old and new seemed to be missing something. They are great for a simple chase or dogfight, but not detailed enough to be the main event of the session. So, I looked into various RPGs, wargames, board games and even some video games to find the best system to emulate those Fury Road scenes. There are some good ideas in there, but usually on the more crunchy side. Nothing I found suited me better, than the Savage Worlds Deluxe chase rules, but even those were somehow lackluster. Not all is lost though, I found some good bits on my travels through post apocalyptic car games. I think, that with some extra rules, the deluxe chase rules can be as nail-biting, as a good combat encounter. 

I have a feeling, that this topic will span few posts. I want to make the expanded rules first and then add more info about customizing cars within this sub-system and maybe even adding few Edges. It would also be nice if I could compile it all into a nice pdf, fingers crossed for life not getting in the way of that. Ok, enough pondering, now to the rules.

Before we start: 

Read the Savage Worlds Deluxe chase rules and the Vehicles section from the core book (there aren't many changes between Explorer's and Deluxe editions, any of them is fine), especially the stuff about collisions and vehicle damage. There will be some changes to those systems, so make sure you are familiar with them. The aim of this ruleset is not to be a replacement for the generic system found in the corebook, but to emulate a specific type of chase. One where you mostly shoot and ram your way out of the problem. Think more Mad Max and Death Race, than James Bond. Going at full speed, throwing molotovs at the guy behind you so he won't board your war rig. Ready? Then let's check out the track you will be chasing on.


Photo by David O Miller
There is one big addition to the chase system - the track. It is a simple 6x1 grid (I will make some half-decent graphic in the near future). It is an abstracted representation of where the cars are, relative to one another, not an actual road. Use some counters to represent where the cars are. The car in front is always in the first space on the grid (so if it gains more ground against the opponents, they are just pushed back on the track, in a similar manner how the original chase rules worked) and other cars are placed accordingly. Where you are on the track dictates in what range you are to the other cars. So if you are on the same spot, you are bumper-to-bumper with the other cars on this spot (melee range). One spot away, you are in close range, Two - medium and three - long.
Any more than that, and you can only see the guy, but not do anything about it, unless you get closer. If a car ever goes beyond sixth spot and won't manage to come back to the track on their next turn, they are out of the chase. The track is a small step away from the standard Savage Worlds formula, but I think it is a good addition. I will spend another post talking about it. If, however, you don't want to use a physical track and counters, you can just give each player (and group of NPCs) a d6 to track their current position.

Turn by Turn:

Narrative will dictate how the beginning of the chase looks like. Is everybody starting from the same position (like a race)? Did one side had a head start (and the others are chasing them)? It will also dictate the win conditions: reaching the finish line, stopping a certain car, surviving X amount of turns to reach safety, etc. Setup the placement on the Track according to the narrative and roll your driving dice.
Initiative works the same way as in the deluxe rules. You get a card for each success and raise on your Driving (or other applicable) skill. Just like in the original rules, cards give the driver the advantage (so the driver can only attack the cars with equal or lower Initiative) and an obstacle on drawing Clubs. Unlike the original rules, the card does not decide on your range/position in the chase (this is handled by the track). Card's value dictates how many spaces on the track you can move. Number cards allow you to move up to one, face cards up to two, ace and joker up to three. You don't need to move all the spaces you were given, sometimes, it might be more beneficial to stay where you are, so you have a better access to the enemy. If you don't move any spaces, you are still driving at high speed - everyone is, you are just keeping up. 
After you "moved", you can...


Any person in the vehicle can make an attack on any target that they have advantage (the driver had maneuvered) against. The driver (any anyone who aided him in the driving roll ) suffers a standard multi-action penalty (-2) if he wants to attack with a weapon. Additionally, when on the same spot on the track, the driver can attempt to ram his opponent (as per Vehicle rules) without the multi-action penalty (in the narrative, it would be a continuation of his driving). Any passengers, act on the driver's card. Shooting is done with the range modifier based on your position on the Track (I don't use the unstable platform penalty, in my opinion cars are big enough to give you a bonus that would negate that. I would still give the penalty if they want to shoot something human sized). While on the same track spot, melee attacks can be performed (given the characters have suitable weapon) or the enemy car can be boarded (with a successful Dexterity check). Damage works in the same way as in the Savage Worlds Vehicle rules (custom "Out of Control" and "Critical Hit" tables coming soon). 

Winning the Chase:

The terms of winning depend mostly on the narrative, but there is a one sure way that can make you win any chase - disabling or loosing all of your enemies. The former is self-explanatory: deal enough damage to the enemy cars that they can no longer drive. The later, requires the use of Track. If any car starts their turn behind the track (beyond the sixth spot, mostly because other cars got the lead and pushed the remaining participants back on the track), he needs to get card high enough to come back to the sixth spot (which sometimes means moving more than one spot forward). If he fails to do so, he is out of the chase. They are either lost, or left so behind, that they can't catch up any time soon.  

What's Next?

Special tables for car damage that will reference this system. A more in-depth look on the track, and the areas you chase through. Different types of chases (especially goals and winning conditions) and finally extra rules for customizing your car. All of those will spice up this system even more, so stay tuned!

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