This coming Saturday, I’m expecting a “Race” during the Traveller session, with the PCs aboard a “borrowed” System Defense Boat trying to reach a Jump Shuttle before a much faster (4G accel vs 6G accel) gig that holds the station commander who did very bad things to their comrade, Abe. This led me to considering how exactly to play this out and, while discussing with one of the players, I think I’ve sort of figured it out while using the Chase rules from Action 2.
In a normal chase, you have Quarry and Pursuer, with the objective being obvious: the quarry wants to put more distance between the pursuer, who wants to close that distance. Range bands are used to indicate how close the pursuer is to his quarry, which is nominally the case here is well but since the goal of the race is not to catch the quarry, but rather to beat them, they are used slightly differently. The initial presumption is that the two racing parties begin at at around the same point in the range band (e.g., “Close.”) If one party in this race has a head start of some sort, not only do they automatically begin in a different range band but they are also assumed to be the Quarry.
A race is also going to last only a specific amount of time – for example, “We’ve got to beat those guys to the MacGuffin!” or “26 laps” – which amounts to an arbitrary number of rounds as determined by the GM at the start. If both parties (presuming there are just two, which might not always be the case!) start at the same point – e.g., a foot race – then the party with the fastest basic speed should automatically be classified as the Quarry; if this race consists of vehicles, the one with the greater acceleration should be classified as such. In vehicle ties, smaller SM take the Quarry roll, but, in an individual race, do a roll-off.
During a race, it is presumed that the parties are going to be jockeying for position and, unlike a normal Chase, the roles of pursuer and quarry may reverse should the former overtake the latter. For example, let us say that the quarry is one range band ahead of the pursuer, but thanks to some lucky dice, the pursuer’s chase rolls allows him to shift the range band by two steps. This turns the pursuer into the quarry, and vice versa.
The winner of the race is always going to be the Quarry (whoever that may be at the conclusion) … presuming that he or she is at least one range band ahead of the pursuer. If both are in the same range band at the conclusion of the race, then it is a “photo finish,” a tie or something equally appropriate (both reach the same target simultaneously.)
Most Chase Maneuvers are used as written, although Mobility Escape and Stunt Escape are invalid for these purposes since they effectively remove someone from the race.
Hmm. I may have the basis for a Pyramid article!