It’s time, once again for RPGaDay and as always I’ll be releasing a short post each day inspired by the prompt from the table below. For the most part these are going to be off the top of my head, zero edit posts so I have no idea how much sense they’ll make or where each prompt will take me.
6th August: Chase
I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a chase mechanic that really feels like it works in play and I think part of the problem is the way that mechanics typically take an overly literal approach of how far away from the target are you. Tracking how close you are is, on one hand, a fairly reasonable assumption. If you are chasing a person you either need to catch them or fall behind so much that they get away but in reality it never feels interesting during play as you end up rolling the same thing over and over. It’s also all too possible to get into an endless loop where you never catch up to them but they never get away, something that doesn’t make for much fun at the table.
Because it’s boring.
The games that do it best tend to be the ones that use a challenge based approach, so you need to overcome 3 out of 5 challenges to catch them. Why do I think that works best? Simple, it’s more cinematic. Think about how chases are presented on screen – it’s rarely about the actual distances involved but overcoming challenges such as dodging other traffic, finding shortcuts or knocking things into the path of the chasers. Ultimately though it all comes down to the final total where the chaser either catches up or loses their prey but only after all the hijinks involved in chasing them. A good GM using that sort of approach will think about 3-5 thematically interesting challenges that might get in your way and allow for a wider range of approaches than repeatedly rolling whatever skill you use for running.