RPG Vehicles Decoded?
My mind is stronger for the rigours of game design…
I just figured a game design problem that’s been bothering me for about two years. It’s about creating vehicles, which is an area in which I’m severely ignorant. I don’t think about vehicles in my fantasy campaign. But Chimera RPG is multi-genre, so vehicles merit some thought.
Long story short, I created a function that determines a vehicle’s size and speed. Awesome, right?
But as a testament to my OCD, I swear it’s more complicated than that, and that this piece of game design really is important. See, size and speed don’t have a neat relationship, at all. Think about vehicles you know. Yes, a car can be 10′ long and go 110 miles per hour. In simple, math-by-the-seat-of-your-pants terms, that’s an average speed of 11 mph for every foot of vehicle, if you’re just limiting your scope to just size and speed.
But it’s never really math-by-the-seat-of-your-pants time in Game Design Land. Ask my wife. She knows (and understands). If you go by size-to-speed ratios, you’re missing the mark. For example, did you know that the Hindenburg was 803′ and had a top speed of 85 mph? That’s an average speed of 0.1 mph using the size-to-speed ratio. Yet the battleship Missouri was 890′ and could hit only 38 mph. That’s an average of 0.04 mph. There’s no consistency.
True, it would be almost infantile to expect a neat correlation between size and speed.
But as much as I dreamed that it could be, it turns out that there are many more variables than one would expect: engine strength, vehicle size, crew number, tech level, armour, even how the vehicle gets around—wheeled, tracked, flying, or hover? Many more questions persist: Is the vehicle powered by an engine or by muscle? If muscle, how do you incorporate the weight of the crew into the speed of the vehicle? This, it turns out, is a big issue.
All in all, it’s taken up a lot more hours than I would have liked (or even anticipated). But, the good news is that I figured out a way to create all these vehicles. Consistently. Or, at least, within the bounds of my OCD.
I’ll use this function for the vehicles in the Chimera RPG Core Rules. Hopefully, you’ll agree that I’ve cracked some code…