Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Racing RPG?

I’ve often thought about trying to combine my twin passion, IndyCar racing (May means the Indy 500, of course, at the most historical, wonderful, beautiful, and spiritually powerful track in the world), and roleplaying, into some form of a RPG. I can’t imagine many people in the world being interested at all in trying this, but I think it’d be fun to simulate a season of racing, with the players as drivers, getting into rivalries, trying to make it the entire season while picking up sponsorships, spectacular crashes, and someone just maybe bringing home the championship.


Above: Not bringing home the championship.

Assuming for a minute that someone in my two very niche hobbies there’s someone who would deign to play this campaign, my question would be what system to use? One of my first ideas was to go conmpletely freeform, but I think I’d want some way to quantify drivers and their respective abilities. Perhaps a bare-bones d6 system, just north of freeform? Could I combine it with the boardgame Formula De (not based on IndyCar, but could be modified)? What system to use for the races—I imagine I would have one turn represent so many laps, and so on. I could roll for obstacles, race events, weather, etc. You could have advantages/disadvantages like Poor Road Course Driver, Fast On Ovals, Inferior Car, Bad Teammate, Uncharismatic To Sponsors, or Sloppy Pit Crew.

Off the track, you’ve got young drivers trying to impress sponsors and car owners to find and keep a ride, and depending on your relationship with other drivers, they might block you on track, or eventually become a teammate. Of course, get too nasty a feud going, and you could be suspended by the league.

I think each campaign could be a season of racing. Eventually, racers could retire, and there’d be a protégé system, where younger drivers could move up to take their place. Hey, it could be Pendragon on Wheels!


Finding an awesome sponsor is just part of the fun. If they bring the cash, it could be Depends for all I care.


Yet another idea that probably won’t ever happen, but is still fun to think about.

Drivers & Downforce?

Crashes & Cars?

Generic Universal Racing Player Simulation?

Indy20?

Of course, it, too, could have an old-school movement:


22 comments:

David said...

I think what you want is a racing board game that allows you to customize your driver and car, and also provides for some between-the-races events and decisions. It might have already been done. I have something similar for chariot racing. It's an old Avalon Hill game, Circus Maximus.

Barking Alien said...

There was an old Japanese RPG magazine circa lates 80's or early 90's that featured a mecha/robot racing game that was very cool. It was called 'Mobile Racer Championship'.

Imagine a cross between Speed Racer and giant robots with each PC and their custom mech trying to reach the finish line first while shooting at or grappling with each other. The feet on the robots had skate-like wheels and the racing rules did indeed remind me a bit of Circus Maximus.

If I remember correctly, the game was actually a sort of mini-game set in the universe of the more popular cyberpunk space game 'MetalHead'.

clash bowley said...

I've always wanted to write a baseball RPG. A racing RPG would be cool too - my brother in law raced at Indy. maybe he has some pointers... :D

-clash

WV - Mulmamba: the angry spirit of a poisonous snake, which crawls into people's beds and kills them in their sleep.

clash bowley said...

I've always wanted to write a baseball RPG. A racing RPG would be cool too - my brother in law raced at Indy. maybe he has some pointers... :D

-clash

WV - Mulmamba: the angry spirit of a poisonous snake, which crawls into people's beds and kills them in their sleep.

clash bowley said...

I've always wanted to write a baseball RPG. A racing RPG would be cool too - my brother in law raced at Indy. maybe he has some pointers... :D

-clash

WV - Mulmamba: the angry spirit of a poisonous snake, which crawls into people's beds and kills them in their sleep.

clash bowley said...

I've always wanted to write a baseball RPG. A racing RPG would be cool too - my brother in law raced at Indy. maybe he has some pointers... :D

-clash

WV - Mulmamba: the angry spirit of a poisonous snake, which crawls into people's beds and kills them in their sleep.

mksiebler said...

The "old school" picture got a chuckle out of me...

Would this RPG be a cooperative one where each player plays a member of the team, and has "scenes" (sometimes independent, sometimes in conjunction with other team members)? Like the team's manager and crew chief meeting with racing officials to explain why the car failed the post-race inspection, the driver, PR rep, and manager meeting with sponsors, etc.

Or a competitive RPG, where each player plays a driver? Or go the fantasy league route, where each player plays the owner of a stable of teams, or the manager of a team. Or all three?

Greyaxe said...

It would need a LOT of crunch. Dozens of rules how to control your car, modify it repair it costs etc. I would use a cyberpunk point system with two "rounds" Standard out of race 3 second rounds and the 10 lap round for racing. You would need to factor fuel weight, tires and other stuff. It would also be like White Wolf games in the out of car, political maneuvering and social matrixes. You would also need to have a “reputation” attribute or system to ensure players are spending time cultivating image and grooming themselves to be sponsored. It could be cool but I would not go rules light. Real detail and crunch is needed for sustainability and to keep interest and challenge.

anarchist said...

Because it's focussed and the players presumably compete, it might be easier to do as a game-with-RPG-elements like GDW's En Garde, than as an RPG.

Anonymous said...

F1 racing has already been done: Top Secret/SI's High Stakes Gamble.

Jeramy Ware said...

You know - Car Wars has rules for characters and advancement... :)

I once ran an Autoduel game where the players were part of a "racing" team for the better part of a year. It was more fun than you might think.

Then again, we also got to shoot at biker gangs while traveling down highways ;)

Gleichman said...

I'm afraid that this would be a subject best done as a console or computer game. They may in fact already exist.

Unless the cars could shoot at either other, than it would work as an table-top rpg.

Or unless it was a sub-game in a larger rpg. "He's the hottest driver on the tracks, she's the hottest mechanic, they race, they fight crime"

Quim said...

"(May means the Indy 500, of course, at the most historical, wonderful, beautiful, and spiritually powerful track in the world)".

Well, ideed that with 24 h of Le Mans' permission :P

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24_Hours_of_Le_Mans

Quim said...

In a more on topic answer:

Car Wars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_Wars) from Steve Jackson Games could do the trick.

Dr-Rotwang said...

DUDE. Who's gotcher back?

Golly, Zach could use Formula Dé for the racing bits, with something like The Engle Matrix Game, which was designed right here in Indiana, for the role-playing-type-bits.

ROTWANG!'S GOTCHER BACK.

Pookie said...

A board or a race track is not needed. Go take a look at Contenders. It is an RPG about boxing that maps well onto other genres and manages to make boxing interesting.

Zachary The First said...

@Gleichman: That would be awesome! Two drivers, or a driver and crew chief, racing by day, solving murders by night.

Man, I miss 80's TV. It would so have a freezeframe ending.

@clash: A baseball game? I would need to manage the Royals--the baseball equivalent of a near-unplayable character.

@Greyaxe: I considered a reputation stat...

@Quim: LeMans is a fine old dame, and truly worthy of being part of the Triple Crown of Motorspots. Let's us not argue regarding two such masterpieces. :)

@DocRot: That...could work.

@All: Thanks for the suggestions! It's a lot to consider--there are so many ways you could go with it...

@Pookie: I'll have to look at it. I confess I am not well-acquainted with the game, though I've heard of it.

John Fiala said...

Hm. It's not rules-light, but you could dig up a copy of GURPS Autoduel and start with that. :)

Astronut said...

Sounds like a fun idea, although I wouldn't be much interested in the tech-heavy side of it.
It strikes me that you'd need to really look at the focus of the game: for a focus on the racing and technical side of things, look at something rules-heavy like GURPS or Hero (both of which have extensive movement rules); if you're after story, action and character interaction, pay more attention to lighter, action-oriented systems like d6 or Savage Worlds. There are some good chase rules for SW which you could adapt, but you wouldn't be able to go lap-by-lap.
For career advancement and rivalries you could take a look at the two pro-wrestling games that appeared in the Haiti bundle (Piledrivers and Powerslams, and The Squared Circle). I've not done more than glanced through either of them, but they should cover it.
Another idea is to try a troupe-style set up: each player represents a team and plays the manager, head mechanic and driver depending on the circumstance!

Andreas Davour said...

I saw that somebody beat me to it, Le Mans! :D

Bolt said...

You're getting too into the RPG aspect. What you need to do is focus more on the racing. The car itself would not be able to level up, that's what money and upgrades are for. The car, essentially, is your equipment. The driver would be able to level up and learn new abilities, like drafting, drifting, psyching out the opponent, night driving, that sort of thing. The races themselves would be exactly like every other driving game, apart from your characters abilities shining through and giving you an advantage.

I've actually had the same idea just yesterday, which is how I found this blog in the first place ^_^

Jeramy Ware said...

You know what just occurred to me, you could use a Cold War style trust mechanic for racing teams. Cash in to win the race and become a superstar, or work as part of a team and help everyone.