Chase Mechanics in CORE

Tod's picture

In last night's CORE session, three reality-sliders tumbled through four scenarios:
- Resurrect Frankenstein's Monster & teach him love
- Camel race to save the baby Jesus
- National dance competition vs Evil
- Car chase thru 1972 farmers market to deliver Pulsing Tesseract to The Spindle

All these settings were mere justifications for me to playtest a few new subsystems, and the one I was most interested to see (because the least like standard CORE) was my new CHASE mechanic.

Typically when CORE breaks into Frames (action time), everybody rolls at once and resolution is cross-compared (sometimes in both directions). But the mechanics of vehicular chases require lots of small and effectively-random details outside of the drivers' control, and it's really the lead vehicle that determines where the chase is gonna go. The trailing vehicle plays a more reactive role: if the lead car leaps a barrier or dives into an alley and the pursuer wants to keep up pursuit, they have no choice but to perform the same maneuver themselves.

Not only that, but upon reflection it seems the drivers are not really rolling against each other. Instead, they are both rolling against the terrain while trying to stay in control of their vehicle. If you're making a sudden turn into an alleyway at 65MPH, it really doesn't matter whether you're being tailed or not. The DL is the DL.

So, ok, this is an exception to the "simultaneous rolls" method. That's fine.

I worked out a custom version of the AR Table for the lead driver and another for the trailing driver, and worked out some standard mods for various types of vehicular maneuvers. All seemed well until I remembered... what about other people in the cars? When do they move?

Hmm. In theory they could really move at any time, taking shots out the windows, etc. But their rolls are in no way related to the drivers' rolls, and don't need to be resolved against them. So I settled on this, which (at least if you know CORE), is really, really, weird:

1. Non-Drivers May Act
2. Leading Driver
3. Non-Drivers May Act
4. Trailing Driver
5. Non-Drivers May Act

You still only get one action per Frame, but if you're a non-driver there are 3 "windows of opportunity" and you can go off in whichever one you choose.

How did it work? Well, I'm happy to report that it all worked well, although Players felt the "step-step-step" thing more than usual; I don't think it can be avoided.

I may have set some of the maneuver DLs too low, but that was easy to adjust by simply throwing more stuff in the way, and this also made the chases more exciting -- so I created a GM-facing rule for myself:

0. GM quickly rolls some random stuff that wasn't there a minute ago

This procedure requires a lot of the GM. More than most interactions, for sure. And my "step 0" adds even more. Would be easier with a map, tbh (we were playing TotM). But it was very exciting and I'm calling it a win. Both scenes carried the uncertainty of the chase while supporting tropes familiar from movies and TV.

Sadly, the PCs were unable to beat their evil twins in the race to Baby Jesus, and thus it was Three Evil Wise Men, not three ACTUAL wise men, who bore unknowable gifts to the divine infant.