Sunday, 11 October 2015

Pimp Your Ride

The more Machinas I play, the more I find myself tinkering with the rules. Partially this is because I just like tinkering with rules, but partially because I can't help thinking that Machinas was rushed into production with insufficient editing and playtesting, and bits of it need tweaking.

One area I've not been happy with is the costs and weights of equipment you can fit to vehicles. Some items seem to be good value compared to others - Spiked Wheels, for example, are not as powerful in use as the Spiked Ram, but the latter is far heavier and more expensive to buy; more so than the increase in effectiveness justifies. Now, the game bypasses this to some extent by having layers build their cars from random draws from a deck of equipment and features, but it's nice to put together vehicle designs of your own choice, and for that you need a system where points and especially weight/space requirements make sense.

Originally I started tweaking the costs and weights of the items in the game. then I realised that I was trying to fix lots of individual things and was on the road to madness. So I decided on a new approach; rewrite the whole equipment thing.

The following is a very provisional set of rules for arming and armouring vehicles. It covers most items which should take up space in a vehicle. I'm still working on features such as Power Steering and Streamlining, as well as the driver's Signatures. Despite what I have stated above I haven't worked out the points values yet; I want to test the balance of each item before I do that.

The system assumes that you're using my alternative rules for vehicle size, which you can find HERE.

A vehicle has a number of spaces equal to its size. Each piece of equipment takes up one space.

Equipment is as follows. Rather than the specific items of the original rules I have used more generic terms and then the player can assign a description as appropriate. So a Passive Passing Defence coild be oil or spikes, whilst a Gun could be machine-guns, harpoons or a rocket-launcher, depending on how you define them. Items can be bought multiple times and the bonuses then accumulate, unless otherwise stated:

Bigger Engine - For each space you put this in, gain +1 Speed. Yes, a truck can have a massive +6 Speed, but since it also has a -3D6 when passing a lot of that will be cancelled out.

Bashing - +1D6 on Bashing attempts takes one space. This can be changed to +1 auto-success when Bashing, but in that case it only applies when the vehicle has won a pass and initiates a Bash attempt; it does not apply if the vehicle is the target of a bash.

Armour (Shooting) - Each space you causes someone Shooting at you to take -1D6

Armour (Bashing) - Each space you fill reduces the number of successes a vehicle scores against you when Bashing by 1, but only if they initially score more successes than you do, and never below 0.

Passing Defence (Passive) - A vehicle trying to pass you in an adjacent lane gets -1 success for each space you assign.

Passing Defence (Active) - For one space you can force a vehicle that fails to pass you by a margin of two or more successes to make an out of control roll. For each additional space you spend on this they take -1D6 on this roll.

Gun - Vehicles cannot normally shoot. A vehicle can buy the ability to shoot normally at a cost I haven't determined yet. This takes no space. This may be upgraded to +1 D6 when shooting if it takes a space. Each further +1D6 costs points and a space as normal. A Gun may be purchased as a tail-gun, but cannot then shoot normally. For one space a Gun may be fitted into a turret, which means that it can fire either normally or as a tail-gun, but not both in the same turn.

Guns can be upgraded or given limits, which allows you to create more specific weapons. Again I am still working on the points costs for these, but my current view is that an upgrade costs the same as buying +1D6. Upgrades do not take up space. Unless otherwise stated a Gun upgrade is applied to the whole gun, not just to 1D6.

Rapid Fire - when firing this gun you may reroll two of the dice.

Armour-Piercing - Upgrade a +1D6 to 1 auto-success. This upgrade is bought per dice.

Deadly - If you win a Shooting attempt with this gun and score 2 or more successes than the other vehicle then that vehicle must make an out of control roll.

Missiles/Rockets - This Gun gets -2 successes when shooting into normal, legal positions, either as tail-gun or otherwise. However it may target other vehicles to or from a wide pass, taking a -1 success.

Slow Load - This gun must spend a turn (a track section) being reloaded between shots. This has a negative cost.

Limited Shots - After a shooting attempt with this gun roll a die. If the score is greater than the number of laps the race is due to be run then the weapon is out of ammunition and cannot be used again for the rest of the game. A roll of 5+ always causes the gun to run out of ammo. A road-chase as described in the rules is assumed to be 2 laps for the purpose of this limit. This has a negative cost.

It all sounds more complicated than it actually is. Here's some examples; I will assume all things cost 2pts:

A bike (1 space) with a pillion passenger with a hand-gun. The Gun has +0D6, so has a base cost (say 2 pts), but takes no space. But the rider acts as a turret, allowing the weapon to be used normally or as a tail-gun. This costs 2 pts and takes up a space. So the bike costs 4pts and can shoot, with no modifiers, normally or as a tail-gun.

A car (3 spaces) with machine-guns and some armour - -1D6 Defence (Gun) takes one space and costs 2pts. +2D6 Gun firing normally take 2 spaces and cost 4 pts. For an extra 2pts the Gun can be made Rapid-Fire.

A truck with an excavator on the back (6 spaces) - The excavator gives +3 successes when Bashing, which costs 6pts and takes 3 spaces. Its weight gives the vehicle +1D6 when Bashing as well, which takes 1 space and costs 2pts. The arm can be used to prevent vehicles passing, so for 1 space and 2pts the truck has one Passing Defence (Passive) forcing another car to take -1 success. Finally for one space and 2pts the vehicle has one level of Bashing Defence because of its weight. So:

+3 Successes when Bashing as the active vehicle
+1 D6 in all Bashing attempts
-1 Success to any vehicle which wins a Bashing attempt against you.
-1 Success to any vehicle attempting to pass you

A vehicle may choose to not fill all spaces. These can be considered to be empty, or have extra fuel-tanks or non-specific useful equipment in them. To this end, at the start of the race/chase roll 2D6 for each empty space. Each score of 1 gives the vehicle 2 additional Bonus Dice. Each score of 2 or 3 gives the vehicle 1 additional Bonus Dice.

As I sad, these ideas are still very provisional - the Gun rules still need some work - but I think they make sense and shouldn't unbalance one style of vehicle over another.


  1. Have you tried Axles & Alloys 2? A fairly simple game where you can easily customise your vehicles. Oh, and the rules are a free download.

    1. In terms of a car combat game it looks to be one of the best, but Machinas offers an excellent method of resolving chases and races with very little setup. However it requires a particular approach towards how vehicles are equipped, and that's really what I'm trying to achieve. There's a set I have found on the 'net recently called 'Road Wolf' which seems to cover the chase type game quite well, however, so I may look at that. Indeed a lot of this post is inspired by a first read-through of it.

  2. I tried to reply on the HOTT FAQ page but without success. On Strongholds there is a comment that only aesthetics or lunacy would lead to a long, narrow Stronghold. I disagree, if your Army has hordes or other troops that can return from the dead (zombies as hordes?) small strongholds may make it impractical to return very many at once as they need to touch the stronghold and each other and not be within 200 paces of an enemy. Long strongholds increase the numbers of dead that high pip rolls can accommodate. And makes it somewhat more likely that part of the stronghold is more than 200 paces from enemy forces. Yours for not being a Lunatic, Baron of Ideas.


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