Wednesday, June 30, 2010


While a few of my PCs own vehicles in this campaign, they're effectively multi-passes but cooler. The rigger has a souped up car, while two others own off the rack bikes. They'll all drive separately when they're performing legwork, but any time they expect trouble, everyone packs into the car. So, much like hacking rules, vehicle rules are really designed to meet the needs and desires of the one player in the campaign who uses them.

Quick note, my rigger hates drones. He thinks they're boring. Thus, they're not part of this ruleset for moment because there's no call for them.

Vehicular combat has always been a popular thing in theory. Who doesn't love a good car chase with explosions and heavy weapons thrown in for good measure? But, as always, complex resolution has slowed our vehicle scenes down to a crawl. Going into this, I wanted to preserve the ability to customize a vehicle in multiple ways, but I wanted a resolution system that remained quick and simple, preferably one that hewed close to the character resolution mechanic, since that would flatten learning curve.

First and foremost, to use the same resolution mechanic, I need to plug the methods into vehicular knacks. It seems simple at first, but on second glance a good number of the methods seem inapplicable, while others carry too much of the burden. After much back and forth with our resident rigger and some work on my own, this is the breakdown as it currently stands. 
  •  Razor - Since this is the default combat method, this is what you use when using your vehicle as a weapon, i.e. ramming or running over an enemy.
  • Fixer - As always, Fixer is the method used when someone else is doing something on your behalf. Thus, if a contact is doing something in a car, this is the method used, regardless of maneuver or action.
  • Data Rat - This method covers more than knowing the specs of the car, though it covers that too. This is the general use method, making it the go-to method in all sorts of situations. Many stunts and maneuvers use this, including positioning and dodge checks in vehicular combat.
  • Face - This method means more than talking about vehicles, though it can be that. This is the method used when trying to falsify markings, plates, etc., in short, getting the vehicle to lie. 
  • Sleaze - This is the method used when trying to avoid detection from enemy sensors or security systems, or eyes. Tailing someone, flying nape of the Earth, etc., all of these activities use Sleaze.

With that out of the way, we need stats for the vehicles themselves. While Feng Shui's vehicle statblock has a definite appeal (speed and armor), I want a few more than that so that there's more on the vehicle to modify mechanically. Still, too many attributes makes using a vehicle complicated and the system itself involved. So there must be a happy medium. After some back and forth, I've got a small list of 4:
  • Size - this is a rough representation of how large the vehicle is. An old Shadowrun book once noted that vehicles are resilient not because of their structural integrity but because of the amount of open space that exists within them. A bullet might punch straight into a car's cabin, but a shattered window and some ripped upholstery won't degrade its performance. This stat represents the basic damage resistance of the vehicle, but it's not armor. Instead, a vehicle's size rating reduces the attacker's method (almost certainly Razor). Any dice that come up normal hits but don't meet the reduced method hit, but don't count toward increasing the damage.
         For example, a character with a 5(3) die pool shoots at a car, which is size 2. He rolls 5, 3, 2, 2, 1. This would normally be 4 hits, since everything but the 5 is under his method. However, the car's size reduces his method to 1, meaning only the 1 can stage up damage. The other hits count toward successfully shooting the car, however, meaning that if the driver puts some yin dice into dodging the attack, he still needs to generate 4 yin in order to completely dodge the incoming fire. Only the 1 increases the damage, however.
         In order to represent the destructive power of heavy ordinance, I'll probably assign a size rating to weapons as well. Most personal weapons are size 0, but the big guns would have higher values. A weapon's size rating works in the opposite way from vehicular size. The method of a roll applies normally, but you can apply extra dice to your damage, if not your attack. For example, a character with a 5(3) pool and a size 2 weapon rolls 5, 3, 2, 2, 1, he could use everything but the 5 to negate his target's yin dice, but if he does hit, he can use the 5 to stage up damage.
  • Maneuverability - In Shadowrun 4, this is a number that runs from +3 to -3, with 0 being average, and it represents how responsive the vehicle is. I'm going to invert the value (making the positives negative and vice versa), and use this as the shot cost modification for vehicular actions. By my reasoning, a more responsive vehicle means less time executing a maneuver and fighting the thing into place.
  • Speed - Shadowrun 4 lists this as kph. I see no reason not to keep it exactly as is. I don't see myself attaching any special mechanics to it, but it's a good stat to have. Usually, you get in a vehicle to go fast, so it's good to know how fast you can go.
  • Durability - Vehicles in Shadowrun 4 have a Body stat. For ease of conversion I'm going to take that stat and use that as the highest ranked wound box the vehicle has, then break the remaining track into L/M/S/D brackets as seems appropriate. For example, if a vehicle has a body of 10, it'll have the same exact damage track as a PC. If it has a body of 16, there's going to be 16 boxes on that track. I don't have any hard rule for how to break the boxes into levels, only that light should have the most, moderate the second highest, etc. 
  • Armor - I throw this in here only because most vehicles have some kind of inherent armor listed. I'm going to convert this exactly as I do personal armor: cut it to 1/3 and use a healthy amount of rounding and judgment calls.

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