Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023

In the ConsOps game (which is just GURPS: Action!), we have a Wheelman and it occurred to me that a neat scenario could exist wherein the PC in question ends up being the driver in some big race (Grand Prix, of course.) Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find anything that really fits rules for this.
This led me to looking back to the past, specifically the High Stakes Gamble accessory for the old TSR Top Secret/S.I. game. Sadly, their rules for this are equally slim and specifically state:

the PC racer needs an antagonist more specific than “all the other drivers.”

This really doesn’t help me for this. So I figured I should do some further digging into that actual rules for a Grand Prix race. Things that immediately

  • Three practice sessions are held before the race; the first on Friday morning and the second on Friday afternoon. Both sessions last one and a half hours. The third session is held on Saturday morning and lasts an hour. A third driver is permitted to take part in the Friday free practice sessions in the place of a regular driver.
  • There are normally 20 cars in the race (as of 2017).
  • The race cannot exceed 2 hours.
The “cannot exceed 2 hours” thing is the most interesting bit to me. With that in mind, what I could do is split this up into 30-minute intervals for the Chase rounds (Action 2), so there would be four total checks (although GMs could change this to 15-minute intervals if he wants the race to last longer?) Since I’m presuming that only a single PC is the actual Driver here, I could then divide the number of cars into groups as well … let’s divide them by 4 for ease here, so each “group” would have 5 cars in it. This accomplishes two things: it gives the non-driving Players something to do during the race (using the Multi-Party Chases sidebar on Action 2, p34) or it gives the GM the “opponent” for the PC in the race (should, for example, the race taking place while the other characters are rushing off to do other whacky hijinks.) Using proper Grand Prix terminology, the groups would be:
  • Group 1: “The Leaders”
  • Group 2: “Mid-pack (Points)” – these are the non-leaders still in the hunt for actual points.
  • Group 3: “Mid-pack”
  • Group 4: “Back Markers” – these are the guys who are getting lapped by the leaders.
Further, using the Chase rules, the only appropriate Maneuvers are Emergency Action and Move. Pretty much all other maneuvers would get a driver penalized and/or ejected from the race. Escape is also potentially an option … I suppose that a successful “Escape” could indicate that the driver has shifted into the “next” group? Perhaps related to this, if a PC shifts range bands, he moves into a different group? So, for example, if the Driver begins in Short range and manages to shift it to Medium, the GM can declare that he’s moved into the next group and everything is reset to Short? I kind of like this better…
So, let’s hash out a quick scenario here. In this example, Adam Vega is a Wheelman PC with Driving/TL8 (Automobile) (A) DX+4 [2]-18, the following advantages: Daredevil, Enhanced Dodge (all Vehicles) and Higher Purpose (Deliver the Package) – the GM decides that the Higher Purpose is appropriate here. The very first thing we have to figure out is where does he actually start in terms of qualification. Since we’re presuming there are four “groups,” then logically, each group should have varying levels of skill. So, for example, the front group could have Driving/TL8 (Automobile)-19 (since they’re the top level talents like Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton.) Then, each group behind them has one point lower (so, group 2 has Driving (Automobile)-18, group 3 has Driving (Automobile)-17, and group 4 has Driving (Automobile)-16 … as professional race car drivers, 16 is absolutely the lowest they should probably have.) Presuming each “group” has an average roll of 10, this means that the PC needs to succeed by 9 to be placed in group 1, by 8 to be placed in group 2, by 7 for group 3, and by 6 for group 4. Anything less than this means they have a DNQ (Did Not Qualify) status which definitely makes things interesting.
I’m going to presume that Vega qualifies for group 4, just because. In this particular test, I’m also going to presume that the other Players are not making rolls because the GM is alternating what they’re doing with Vega’s race; this means there are two parties in this chase: Vega and Group 4.
  • We start at Close Range for his current group.
  • Vega is considered the Quarry for this chase.
  • Group 4 has skill of 16, then gets +10 for speed, and let’s say +4 for Handling (the Sports Car entry from Action 1 is the closest, but it is only a street version so the GM arbitrarily bumped this up to 4.) This gives them an effective skill of 30.
  • Vega’s effective skill for the chase roll contest will be 18 +1 (Daredevil) +1 (Higher Purpose) +10 (Speed) +4 (Handling) = 34.
  • Group 2 rolls a 9, so success by 21; Vega’s player rolls a 7, so that’s a success by 27. Vega has beaten them by 6, so he shifts the range by one band. Per the notion that a shift moves him up, the GM declares that, over the first 30 minutes, Vega advances from the back markers to the mid-pack, drawing a lot of attention.
  • We reset to Close Range, now that he’s in group 3 and their base skill improves to 17.
A couple of other things that occur to me that I haven’t quite worked out yet are:
  • Racing is physically strenuous. PC takes 1 FP for every 15-minute interval that elapses (so, will take 8 FP for the entire race)?
  • Formula One cars are fragile. At the end of each chase round, the player makes a HT check for the car (usually 9 or 10?); failure means that they take a cumulative -1 to all checks (including future HT checks) to reflect that something has gone wrong. A critical failure means that whatever goes wrong results in the car completely failing (e.g., the engine seizes up or a tire explodes, ruining the handling.)
  • Formula One cars are designed for safety. Any crash does less damage.
  • Allow the Stunt maneuver to reflect “driving really, really fast around corners.
  • Use better of the engineer’s Strategy or Sports check or the Pit crew’s Mechanic check for the Complementary skills.