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52 Pick Up: A new game very week

EPISODE 5: Dungeons & Dragsters

Gareth-Michael Skarka
March 8, 2001
Five of Spades

This week's game is part board game and part wargame, inspired by the title (courtesy of Sean Jaffe...who suggested it as an ad slogan for another product--which might still see fruition, so I'll keep mum on it), and the recent death of Dale Earnheart.  Well, not the death itself, per se, but the sudden omnipresence of all things NASCAR on the news.   I'll admit....I'm not the biggest fan of the whole racing thing...but the genre still struck me as a fun thing, so here it is.

Basically, what we've got here is a tabletop NASCAR race, using Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars, mixed with whatever Fantasy Game miniatures you've got lying around (whether for D&D, or Mage Knight, or Warhammer...whatever).   Burning rubber, the smell of oil and gas, twisted metal, magic and monsters.

Kick ass.


Well, obviously, first you need some cars.  You'll need a Matchbox car or a Hot Wheels or what-have-you for each player (more, if you choose to run some non-player cars to make things even more interesting).  Then you'll need some monsters.  I'd recommend giant monsters:  Dragons, ogres, giant spiders....hell, you could even use Japanese giant monsters, if you're lucky enough to have some of the little figures (for example, there's a great shop on St. Marks in New York City's East Village that sells imported kaiju figures that are perfect for this sort of thing).

Then you'll need a track.  Just use the whole table space...the bigger the better.  Make the track with cardboard, or looseleaf sheets, or whatever.  Make the width of the track at least 6 inches (to give the cars room to maneuver), and obviously, make it a connected oval, just like the real thing.  Mark small areas (roughly the length of one of the cars, multiplied by 3 or 4) on the inside of the track....these will be the pit areas, where cars can go in for repair during the race.

Then, all you need is a bunch of six-sided dice, and you're good to go.


For the purposes of this game, all cars are identical (I am positive that some of you out there are more than capable of coming up with methods to individualize the vehicles...but hey, whaddaya want: this is free, and I'm cranking out one per week).  They have 100 structure points (SP), and a maximum speed of 5.


The monsters should be individualized based upon the miniatures that you possess.  Monsters are rated via their speed, their structure points, and their special abilities.

In general, monsters that are the same size of a car or smaller should have 100 SPs.  Larger monsters should have higher points totals.  These are the "hit points" of the creature: how much damage they can take before they die---if you want the monsters to be tougher, give them higher SP totals.

Monsters should have speeds ranging from 1 to 6.  Creatures that walk about on two legs should generally have speeds of 1 or 2; multi-legged creatures should have speeds of 3 or 4.  Flying creatures, or creatures noted for their speed should have speeds of 5 or 6.

Special Abilities are a....special case (sue me, I couldn't think of another word).  They need to be developed on an individual basis before the race.   Examples:

Weapon: Hits on a 3 or less on d6; does 1d6x10 points of damage..
Fire Breath: Range 1 foot, hits on a 3 or less on d6; does 2d6x10 points of damage, spread equally in a 3" circle.
Web: Can block a path trailing behind the monster equal to their speed, reduces the speed of any car passing through by 3d6 for 1d6 turns
Big Friggin Claws, Horns or Teeth: Hits on a 4 or less on d6; does 1d6x5points of damage.
Range Weapon: Range 1 foot, Hits on a 3 or less on d6; does 1d6x10 points of damage.
Etc. etc. etc.


The game is centered around the speed roll.  Cars set their speed at any point up to their maximum.  They can only accelerate/decelerate by 2 steps, however (1 on first turn, 3 on second, etc.).  For every point of speed, the car's player rolls 1d6.  The total result is the number of inches the car moves.  When traveling around a curve, the car will move outward (drift) toward the wall 1 inch for every 6 inches of forward movement.

However, every time the dice roll doubles, a mishap may occur.  Roll 3d6 on the table below:

3-4Tire Blows!  Take 10 points of damage and reduce max speed by 1.
5-6Spin Out!  Car instead moves 1/3 of the distance toward nearest wall; 2/3 in intended direction.
7-8Burnt Rubber!  Take 5 points of damage
9-12Nothing happens.  Breathe a sigh of relief and keep driving.
13-14Burnt Rubber!  Take 5 points of damage
15-16Spin Out!  Car instead moves 1/2 of the distance toward nearest wall; 1/2 in intended direction.
17Overheating!  Take 10 points of damage, then 5 per turn until repaired.
18Blown Engine!  Kerrr-unch.  Yer outta there.

Movement of the cars is as simultaneous as possible...use common judgment in questions of timing.  The cars travel around the track for as many laps as previously agreed upon by the players, first one over the finish line is the winner.  Monsters are moved by a non-car-playing gamemaster after all cars have completed their turns.  Monsters movement is not subject to mishaps as listed above, and after movement, the monsters can attempt to attack.

Collisions:  If a car strikes another object (whether a monster, wall or another car), damage is figured as follows:  Take the structure of the opposing object (Walls are considered to have 200 SP), plus the relative speed (added together if moving towards each other, the difference if traveling the same direction, etc.).  A head-on or cross collision will deliver that damage to both cars.  A glancing blow (where the two cars just happen to brush each other, or a car slides out to the wall) does 1/3 of that damage to both cars.  Colliding with a monster is considered a head-on to the monster, but a glancing blow to the car.  (Zzzzzooooom  *splat* )

Example 1:  A car with 100 SP, traveling at a speed of 21 this turn, strikes the wall on a spin out.  The wall is 200 SP, and the relative speed is 21...the collision is head on.  The wall takes (100+21) 121 points of damage...but the car takes 221.  Smash.

Example 2:  Two cars both with 100 SP, brush against each other.  Car A is traveling 16 this turn, Car B is traveling 8.  They are traveling in approximately the same direction.  Car A's relative speed to B is 8, Car B's relative speed to A is -8.  Car A takes (100 minus 8 divided by 3=)  31 points of damage, and Car B takes (100 plus 8 divided by 3=) 36 points of damage.

Example 3:  A car (100 SP, speed 15) runs over a troll (100 SP, speed 4).  The car takes (100+19/3) 40 points of damage.  The Troll, however, takes (100+19) 119 points.  Speedbump.

Damaged Cars can enter into their pit stop area and repair 1d6 x 5 points of damage per turn.

So...suit up and strap on your safety belt.  The evil wizard Bonneville has summoned forth monsters from the Wastes to confound the efforts of the NASCAR warriors.  You've got a race to win.

Don't look at me like that.  I told ya these things were going to be weird.

5 down, 47 to go.

See ya in 7.

Gareth-Michael Skarka

Gareth-Michael Skarka is the Operations Manager for Synister Creative Systems.  He has written and edited for games including Star Trek, Deadlands Hell on Earth, and GURPS.  He is the designer of several RPG systems, including UnderWorld and Hong Kong Action Theatre!. TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

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Reshuffled: 52 Pick Up, edited by Chris Czerniak

52 Pick Up original run, by Gareth-Michael Skarka

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