Hard Roads
A Risus Adaptation of Car Wars by Hank Harwell
Version 1.0 3/7/05

Introduction: In 1981, a small Texas game company released a game using a Post-apocalyptic SciFi setting to simulate combat between vehicles. The game quickly took off, and on the strength of Car Wars and many other releases, Steve Jackson Games is now one of the largest game companies in the business.

Throughout the years, Car Wars has developed a loyal following and many regional tournaments all over the . Not long after its introduction, some players would string together scenarios, forming a very simple, extremely rules-lite role-playing game.
Capitalizing on these variants, SJG release Autoduel as one of the first worldbooks for its revolutionary new rpg, GURPS.

In the early 1990's, a former writer for SJG (and former president of the American Autoduel Association (AADA))S. John Ross, released a rules-lite rpg that is flexible enough to be played in any genre, Risus. Risus, too has developed a loyal fan base of folks who have adapted many genres to play.

Risus uses clichés to describe player characters. These clichés describe a variety of skills, motivations, experience levels and many other themes.

It is long past time for these two great systems to be combined into the document you now see before you: Hard Roads.

Inspirations: The most obvious inspirations for Car Wars are the Mad Max movies (Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). The Mad Max films are loaded with Risus-worthy clichés. Look at the list of sample clichés below and see how many you can identify as characters from any of the Mad Max films.

In addition, Roger Corman's film Death Race 2000, and Roger Zelazny's story Damnation Alley contribute also to the themes.

Sample PC Clichés:

Cliché What It’s Good For
Burly TruckerWearing sweat-stained t-shirts and “gimme” caps, driving big rigs, talking on the CB, living on little sleep and caffeine, driving in convoys
Cocky Arena DuellistPlaying to the crowd, wearing flashy colors, shooting cars, driving cars, taking chances
Cold-hearted Mercenary Selling combat skills to highest bidder, knowing about weapons, using weapons
Crackerjack Mechanic Tinkering with engines, fixing engines, improving engines
Geeky Computer Hacker Wearing glasses, never having a date, breaking into computer networks, building computer equipment
Law Enforcement Officer Arresting people, giving people tickets, chasing people, shooting people
Merciless Bounty HunterHunting criminals, capturing criminals, shooting criminals
Miracle-working Medic Saving lives, administering first aid, giving drugs
Outlaw BikerWearing leather, riding motorcycle, terrorizing women and children, hijacking lone vehicles
Punk Anarchist Wearing orange hair, having piercings, advocating the overthrow of the government, planting bombs
Repo Man Breaking into vehicles, driving vehicles, getting shot at
Road DuellistDriving cars, shooting cars on highway, taking license plates
Scavenger Looking for wrecks, picking over wrecks, salvaging items from wrecks, selling salvage
Trustworthy Courier Delivering packages, taking tips
Vehicle Gunner Riding “shotgun”, shooting other cars
Vehicles: The real stars of Car Wars are, well, the cars. In Car Wars, vehicles are even more highly detailed than the drivers! In Risus, players purchase vehicles as per "Sidekicks and Shieldmates" rules from the Risus Companion. The GM may rule that certain vehicles must be purchased at “double-pump” values. In other words, the cost will be two dice for a four-dice vehicle, but at least one cliché must be double-pumped. All equipment and weapons must be detailed in the character, er, vehicle description. Weapons will be considered "tools of the trade" for any combat-oriented clichés. If the item is not listed on the description, it cannot be used.

Sample Vehicle Cliches

Cliché What It’s Good For
Lightly-armed Subcompact Driving fast, carrying courier packages
Machine-gun-equipped Compact“Hit and run” fighting, Drive-by shooting
Rocket-Launching Mid-Sized Arena Autoduelling
Marauding Big Rig TruckCarrying heavy loads cross country, running roadblocks
Assault VanTransporting SWAT Team members, carrying sophisticated equipment
Heavy Police CruiserCar chasing, carrying “perps”

Vehicular Combat: The mechanic for this uses the Teaming Up rules from page 3 of the standard ruleset with the following variations: PC's and their vehicles are considered a "Team". The Vehicle is the Team Leader and the PC will add his "sixes" to dice rolls where appropriate. In a combat, only the vehicle takes "damage," i.e., loses dice upon losing a combat round. There is no “noble sacrifice and vengeance” rule in effect. When the vehicle is reduced to zero, the team is Disbanded, and the PC takes the one-die loss to his driving (or autoduelling) cliché.

Where more than one vehicle wants to form a team, then standard Teaming Up rules apply; only the vehicles form teams (not vehicles plus their drivers), and when the team loses a combat round, the "noble sacrifice and vengeance" rules apply. When the Lead Vehicle is reduced to zero, then the team disbands and all remaining vehicles lose one die of "damage."

Additional Notes:There are some elements of cyberpunk in Car Wars. However, these will be minimal. The vast World Wide Web was severely compromised in the collapse of society. Some of the major metropolitan areas still maintain extensive computer networks, but these will be minimal.

Go to an Adventure Writeup by StrongBif

Disclaimer: material presented here is an adaptation of the Car Wars/GURPS Autoduel system from Steve Jackson Games for Risus: The Anything RPG by S. John Ross. This material is not official and is not endoresed by Steve Jackson Games nor by S. John Ross/Cumberland Games and Diversions.