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Vehicle Rules

Vehicle Combat

When you’re in a vehicle fleeing from enemies who are on foot, or you’re on foot yourselves trying to stop a vehicle, movement and combat are represented on a grid, such as a battle map. Different rules apply to chases between vehicles, since they involve much greater distances.

Vehicles are objects, so they don’t have actions or reactions of their own—they must be piloted by a character or an AI autopilot. However, they might still move when uncontrolled. In some cases, a vehicle’s item level affects the DC of the pilot’s or passengers’ skill checks or otherwise factors into how these rules work.

Vehicle Heading

Which direction creatures are facing on a grid is generally irrelevant, but vehicles aren’t as nimble, so you need to monitor a vehicle’s heading each time it moves. If you’re using miniatures, rotate the vehicle’s miniature to face the correct direction whenever its heading changes. The vehicle has to face toward one of the edges of its space, not toward a corner.

When a vehicle has to move at its current heading (such as during a race action or when uncontrolled), it has to move in a straight line. This line is measured from the center of the vehicle on its front edge, and it can be straight ahead or at an angle. The angle can’t be greater than 45 degrees diagonally from the heading.

Vehicle Heading and Movement Example
Left Forward Diagonally Forward Right Forward Diagonally
SHIP GRAPHIC

The exploration buggy in this diagram is facing forward, so its current heading is toward the top of the diagram. If its pilot takes the race action, the vehicle must move in a straight line at its current heading, allowing the vehicle to move forward or forward at an angle to the left or right, though the angle can be no more than 45 degrees from its heading. If the vehicle is uncontrolled, it must move forward (its most recent heading); it can’t move diagonally. In either case, the vehicle keeps the same heading it had before it moved.

If the pilot takes the drive action instead, the vehicle can move in any direction (not just its current heading) and turn as needed during the movement, allowing it to swerve and even zigzag. At the end of the movement, the pilot can set the vehicle’s heading toward any direction (or keep the same heading, if desired).

Piloting a Vehicle

When you’re piloting a vehicle during a combat on a grid, the vehicle moves on your initiative count and you have to spend your actions to pilot it. Creatures can take the following actions to drive or interact with vehicles, in addition to the normal combat actions.

Move Actions

It takes a move action to board, drive, start, abruptly stop, or take control of a vehicle, as detailed below.

Board or Disembark from a Vehicle

You can board or disembark from a vehicle as a move action. Doing so while the vehicle is in motion requires a successful Acrobatics or Athletics check; see Boarding.

Drive

You can pilot a vehicle at its drive speed, which is noted in the Speed entry of the vehicle’s statistics as a move action. You can turn as needed throughout that movement, and you set your heading at the end of the drive action.

Vehicles provoke attacks of opportunity while driving, and when you are in a vehicle that’s driving, you similarly provoke attacks of opportunity if you take any actions that would normally do so (including making ranged attacks) unless the vehicle provides total cover. You can’t use the drive action to move a vehicle through spaces occupied by creatures, even if they’re allies.

Start Vehicle

Firing the ignition of a vehicle is typically a move action, though more complicated vehicles might have a multistage startup sequence requiring multiple actions.

Stop Short

Stopping a vehicle after a race action (see Race below) requires a move action (stopping after a drive action doesn’t require an action; see Not an Action). Normally, a vehicle continues to move following a race action. You can attempt a Piloting check (see Pilot a Vehicle) to reduce the distance your vehicle moves before stopping after a race action by the result of your check, rounded down to the next 5-foot increment. For example, with a result of 17 you would reduce the distance moved by 15 feet (3 squares).

Take Control

You can take control of an uncontrolled vehicle as a move action. See Uncontrolled vehicles for more information about taking control of an uncontrolled vehicle.

Full Actions

Speed along in a straight line or attacking with the body of a vehicle takes a full action, as detailed below.

Race

When making a race action, you pilot a vehicle at full speed in a straight line at its current heading using a full action. You must succeed at a Piloting check (DC = 10 + your vehicle’s item level) to race. If your vehicle is starting from a dead stop (that is, it didn’t move last round), the DC of the check increases by 5.

If you fail this Piloting check, the vehicle’s behavior depends on the circumstances of the check and the surrounding terrain. If you were attempting to race from a dead stop, the vehicle stalls and doesn’t move at all. If the vehicle was already moving, its behavior depends on the terrain. Rough terrain slows the vehicle, causing it to move at half its full speed at its current heading. On flat terrain, the vehicle usually moves at full speed but goes significantly off course. In this case, the GM should take the 180-degree arc in front of the vehicle and divide it into four equal 45-degree arcs. Then the GM randomly determines which of these arcs the vehicle moves into.

A vehicle can’t safely race through difficult terrain or over obstacles unless outfitted with special gear, nor can it safely race to a destination you can’t see unless you’ve thoroughly scanned the destination. If you force a vehicle to race unsafely, you must attempt a Piloting check at a DC determined by the GM (usually 20 + the vehicle’s item level) when you encounter the difficult terrain or obstacle. If you fail or the vehicle is uncontrolled, the vehicle crashes or spins out, as determined by the GM.

After taking a race action, a vehicle doesn’t slow down immediately. On your next turn, you have four options: you can use another full action to continue to race at full speed, use a move action to drive at the vehicle’s drive speed, use a move action to stop short, or relinquish control of the vehicle as a swift action. If you take a swift or move action, you can also take a standard action during that turn. For instance, you could race one turn, then on your next turn, you could fire a weapon as a standard action and then drive as your move action.

A racing vehicle provokes attacks of opportunity, but it gets a +2 bonus to its AC against them due to its speed.

Many vehicles have extremely high full speeds compared to creatures’ speeds, so racing at full speed is often tantamount to exiting a battle entirely, unless other vehicles get involved.

Ram

As a full action, you can pilot a vehicle at up to its full speed in a straight line at its current heading and try to ram one creature or object at the end of the movement, dealing double the vehicle’s collision damage to the target and half the vehicle’s collision damage to your vehicle. A vehicle’s collision damage and collision DC are listed in the Attack (Collision) entry of its statistics.

Movement during a ram action has all the same restrictions as the race action and requires the same Piloting checks. If you fail any Piloting check during the movement, you fail to ram your target.

If the target of the ram action is a creature, it can attempt a Reflex saving throw against the vehicle’s collision DC to avoid being hit. If the target of the ram action is another vehicle, the pilot of the defending vehicle can attempt a Piloting check to avoid being hit, with a DC equal to the result of your Piloting check. The attacker wins ties.

Run Over

As a full action, you can pilot a vehicle at up to double its drive speed and run over any creatures at least two size categories smaller than the vehicle during this movement. Those creatures take bludgeoning damage equal to the vehicle’s collision damage, but can each attempt a Reflex save against the vehicle’s collision DC to take half damage. Roll the damage only once and apply it to each creature, rather than rolling separately for each. A vehicle’s collision damage and collision DC are listed in the Attack (Collision) entry of its statistics (see Vehicles).

When you take a run over action, the vehicle takes damage equal to half the damage rolled for each creature it runs over. If the vehicle becomes unable to proceed due to this damage, it ceases moving. You can still set the vehicle’s heading at the end of this movement as normal.

A vehicle taking the run over action can damage a creature no more than once per round, no matter how many times its movement takes it over a target creature. The vehicle can run over objects of the appropriate size with the same effects, though they don’t receive saving throws unless they are piloted or otherwise animate.

Swift Actions

It takes a swift action to engage or disengage a vehicle’s autocontrol or autopilot or to relinquish control of a vehicle, as detailed below.

Engage or Disengage Autocontrol

You can engage a vehicle’s autocontrol as a swift action after taking a drive or race action. You can disengage its autocontrol as a swift action anytime. See Autocontrol below for more.

Engage or Disengage Autopilot

You can engage a vehicle’s autopilot as a swift action (see Autopilot below).

Relinquish Control

You can voluntarily hand over control of a vehicle to another pilot as a swift action. If you relinquish control of a vehicle but another pilot does not take over control, the vehicle becomes uncontrolled (see Uncontrolled vehicles below).

Not an Action

The following does not require an action.

Stop

You can stop a vehicle after a drive action without Difficulty and without spending an action.

Uncontrolled Vehicles

If you are knocked out or cease actively piloting, your vehicle becomes uncontrolled. If you delay your action, the vehicle becomes uncontrolled and continues to act on the same initiative count as it did before. This separates your initiative count from that of the vehicle, and the vehicle continues to move (see below) at your previous initiative count until a pilot takes control of it or it crashes or otherwise is brought to a definitive halt.

Unless otherwise specified, an uncontrolled vehicle moves straight ahead at its most recent heading as if taking two drive actions on its turn. It slows down incrementally with each action taken (usually to three-quarters the speed of its last action) until it comes to a stop or crashes. At the GM’s discretion, it could slow down more if it’s on uneven terrain or an upward slope, or it could stay at the same speed or even accelerate if it’s in a zero-g environment or on a downward slope.

Taking Control

You can take control of an uncontrolled vehicle as a move action (see Take Control). During this move action, the vehicle doesn’t move any additional distance—you spend the whole action taking control. Once the action is taken, the vehicle resets to your initiative count, and you can spend any remaining actions piloting the vehicle.

Crashing

If an uncontrolled vehicle runs into an obstacle or another vehicle, it crashes. This deals double the vehicle’s collision damage to the uncontrolled vehicle and to the obstacle it ran into, and stops the uncontrolled vehicle’s progress. If the uncontrolled vehicle crashes into a controlled vehicle, the other pilot can attempt a Piloting check to avoid being hit as if it were being rammed (see Ram). If that pilot avoids being hit, the uncontrolled vehicle continues to move as detailed in Uncontrolled vehicles above.

Autocontrol

Some vehicles have autocontrol, which enables you to spend your actions on tasks other than piloting, but is far less capable than an autopilot. You can engage autocontrol as a swift action after taking a drive or race action, and it lasts until it is disengaged (also a swift action) or until the vehicle is no longer capable of moving. When you’re using autocontrol, the vehicle becomes uncontrolled, but each round it moves in a straight line for the same distance and at the same heading and speed as the last pilot action (moving as if taking two drive actions if drive was the last action the pilot took, or as a race action if that was the last action the pilot took). The autocontrol uses the result of the pilot’s most recent Piloting check as the result of its Piloting checks.

Autopilot

Some vehicles have an autopilot AI that can control the vehicle in place of an actual pilot. You can engage or disengage an autopilot as a swift action. You can input a destination into an autopilot as a move action, and the autopilot attempts to reach that location if doing so is possible (provided the autopilot isn’t locked by a passcode or otherwise programmed not to obey).

A vehicle is considered controlled when the autopilot is engaged. An autopilot’s actions are dictated by the GM, and an autopilot can take any of the actions to pilot the vehicle that an actual pilot can. However, autopilots tend to be cautious, rarely risking the integrity of the vehicle and never attempting to ram or run over a target unless specifically programmed as a war machine (indicated in its stat block).

The Systems entry in a vehicle’s statistics lists the autopilot’s modifier to the Piloting skill. For Piloting checks attempted for the Autopilot, apply this modifier first and then apply the vehicle’s modifier (listed in the vehicle’s Modifiers entry) to the Piloting checks.

Attacking from a Vehicle

Anyone attacking while on a vehicle takes that vehicle’s penalty to attack rolls, as listed in the Modifiers entry of the vehicle’s statistics. It’s especially difficult to attack from a vehicle that’s moving at high speed, so a vehicle might have a higher modifier on attacks (shown in parentheses) when traveling at full speed. The penalty for moving at full speed applies if the vehicle moved at full speed during the last round. The attack penalty doesn’t apply when the vehicle is stopped.

Firing Vehicle Weapons

Firing a weapon mounted on a vehicle works like firing a normal ranged weapon, but you must activate the vehicle’s weapons instead of ones you hold. The penalties to attack rolls in the vehicle’s Modifiers entry also apply to attacks made with a vehicle’s weapons.

Some vehicles have weapons bound to their steering devices or weapons that are operated from the same control panel. These can be fired when you are piloting, though you normally can’t fire the vehicle’s weapons on the same turn that you race (or on the same turn that you take another full action) because you don’t have enough available actions. Weapons mounted in other manners typically need to be fired by creatures on the vehicle that are dedicated gunners.

Drive-By Attacks

Because many vehicles have full speeds that might let them move across an entire battle map, the GM may need to make a judgment call when vehicles leave the map and want to return. The GM determines how long returning takes, but it normally takes at least 1 round to double back, since it takes a move action to drive and change heading.

In theory, creatures could pile on a vehicle, ready actions to shoot enemies as soon as they’re within 30 feet, race the vehicle across the map, and fire in passing. Such a maneuver might seem like a sure thing, but it comes with a few problems. First, the attackers take a big penalty to all their attacks, but enemies who ready actions to fire back don’t take those penalties. Second, enemies have time to prepare while the vehicle is off the map. They might take cover, set up obstacles to prevent the vehicle from racing through, or just leave. The GM might also rule that the attackers can’t keep a good watch on what’s happening while they’re off the map or that the vehicle breaks down after the stress of using such a tactic.

Escaping on a Vehicle

Because vehicles have a top speed that’s far faster than most creatures can run, creatures in a vehicle can usually escape from a battle with enemies who are on foot, if they want. The GM has final say on whether a vehicle can escape. Usually, once a vehicle is beyond the range that the enemies on foot can run, those enemies get one more volley of attacks, and then the vehicle and everyone on it escapes. However, if the enemies also board a vehicle, they can usually pursue and the battle transitions to a vehicle chase.

Table 8–3: Pilot Actions in a Vehicle Chase
Pilot Action Skill Check DC Result of Success
Break free Piloting 5 + enemy vehicle’s KAC End vehicle engagement (and move 1 zone forward in chase progress phase)
Double maneuver* Varies Special (each at a –4 penalty) Special (and vehicle moves 1 zone forward in chase progress phase)
Engage another Vehicle Piloting Enemy vehicle’s KAC Vehicle’s riders can attack one another or board another vehicle (and vehicle moves 1 zone forward in chase progress phase)
Evade Piloting 10 + vehicle‘s item level Vehicle gains a +2 bonus to its AC (and moves 1 zone forward in chase progress phase)
Keep pace Piloting 10 + vehicle‘s item level Vehicle moves 1 zone forward in chase progress phase
Slow down None None Vehicle doesn’t move forward in chase progress phase
Speed up Piloting 17 + vehicle‘s item level Move 1 zone forward immediately (and move 1 zone forward in chase progress phase)
Trick Varies 15 + vehicle‘s item level Pilots behind you take –2 penalty to Piloting checks for 1 round (and vehicle moves 1 zone forward in chase progress phase)

* A double maneuver is a full action that allows a pilot to take any two of the other actions listed in this table.

Vehicle Chases

The Tactical Vehicle rules in the previous section are meant for battles on a grid, with some creatures in vehicles and others on foot. But in a high-speed chase or race between competing vehicles, the pilots’ skill and the environment play the predominant role in victory or defeat. The system detailed below is a more narrative-based system that allows for greater flexibility and doesn’t require an enormous grid for play.

Relative Positioning

In a vehicle chase, you monitor only the relative positions of the vehicles. The easiest way to do this is by using a series of horizontal lines called zones. You can use a battle map for this and simply ignore the vertical lines.

As a default, vehicles in the same zone are considered to be about 50 feet apart. If they’re engaged (see Engage Another Vehicle), they are considered adjacent, but they normally don’t touch, leaving room for creatures trying to hop between them to fall. Vehicles one zone apart are about 200 feet apart.

Being Ahead

Being ahead of an opponent is advantageous. You get a +2 bonus to Piloting checks against enemies that are behind you, or you get a +2 bonus to all Piloting checks if you’re ahead of all your enemies. When attacking, you get a +2 bonus to attack rolls against enemies and vehicles that are behind you.

Phases of a Vehicle Chase

Chases happen in rounds with three Phases, which are described in more detail below. At the start of a chase, roll initiative checks (or use the same initiative order if a grid-based vehicle combat transitioned into a chase).

1. Pilot Actions: Each vehicle’s pilot selects her pilot actions and attempts any needed checks outside the normal character initiative count.

2. Chase Progress: The GM moves the vehicles to their new zones, based on the actions the pilots chose and whether they were successful. The GM also determines whether anyone is out of range of other vehicles, and therefore out of the chase.

3. Combat: Pilots (if they have any remaining actions) and passengers take their actions in initiative order as they normally would in a combat. Passengers and pilots can fire on other vehicles, depending on their range, and pilots might be able to slam their vehicles into those of their enemies.

Pilot Actions

During the pilot actions phase, the pilot of each vehicle selects any pilot actions she wants to use to drive her vehicle this round, and performs her piloting actions in initiative order during this phase. Most pilot actions require a move action; taking two pilot actions requires the double maneuver pilot action, which is a full action. Only the speed up action advances vehicles during this phase. For all other pilot actions, the GM advances vehicles as appropriate during the chase progress step. If the pilots have any actions remaining at the end of the pilot actions phase, they can take them in initiative order during the combat phase. Table 8–3 offers a quick reference for the pilot actions.

Break Free (Move)

You attempt a Piloting check (DC = 5 + the enemy vehicle’s KAC) to disengage from an engagement with other vehicles. If the engagement includes multiple enemy vehicles, the DC equals the highest KAC among the enemy vehicles + 5 per enemy vehicle beyond the first. If all parties are willing to end the engagement, no Piloting check is required to break free.

Engage Another Vehicle (Move)

You attempt a Piloting check (DC = the KAC of the enemy vehicle) to engage your vehicle with an enemy vehicle in the same zone. Two allied vehicles can engage freely; this is useful to allow people on one vehicle to board the other. In both cases, your vehicle then automatically becomes engaged with all other vehicles in the engagement. You can make melee attacks against those on another vehicle only if your vehicle is engaged with it; see the Engagement sidebar for more information.

Evade (Move)

You can attempt a Piloting check (DC = 10 + your vehicle’s item level) to grant your vehicle a +2 circumstance bonus to its AC for 1 round. If you evade twice, the bonuses aren’t cumulative.

Keep Pace (Move)

You attempt a Piloting check (DC = 10 + your vehicle’s item level) to stay in the same position in the chase. If you’re successful, your vehicle moves forward during the chase progress phase. If you fail, your vehicle falls back one zone during that phase. Many other pilot actions can also result in a vehicle moving forward one zone during the chase progress phase, but they have a higher DC, increasing the chance the pilot will fail.

Slow Down (Move)

Your vehicle doesn’t move during the chase progress phase. This pilot action doesn’t require a check.

Speed Up (Move)

You attempt a Piloting check (DC = 17 + your vehicle’s item level) to get ahead, moving forward one zone immediately on a success. If the vehicle encounters any hazards or similar effects that occur upon entering a zone, they trigger immediately. The vehicle later moves forward one additional zone in the chase progress phase, even on a failed check, unless you failed the check by 5 or more.

Trick (Move)

You can try a risky maneuver, use the terrain, or take an unconventional route to foil pursuers. You attempt a skill check (DC = 15 + your vehicle’s item level); this skill check could be a Piloting check if the ploy requires intricate maneuvering, but it might instead be a Bluff, Stealth, or other skill check at the GM’s discretion. If you succeed, the Piloting checks of all vehicles behind you take a –2 penalty for 1 round. You can attempt multiple Tricks with the double maneuver action, but the penalties imposed on the vehicles behind you aren’t cumulative. Penalties from multiple different pilots who are ahead and successfully perform Tricks, however, are cumulative.

Double Maneuver (Full)

You can take two of the aforementioned pilot actions, but take a –4 penalty to each Piloting check or other skill check. You take the pilot actions in succession, but can choose your second action after taking the first one and can take an action more than once. If you don’t want to use your second action, you forfeit it but still take the penalty to your first check. Unlike other pilot actions, a double maneuver takes your full action.

If your vehicle is significantly faster than the other vehicles in the chase, you have an advantage when performing a double maneuver. If your vehicle’s full speed is at least 50 feet faster than the fastest enemy vehicle, you take only a –2 penalty when performing a double maneuver.

Regardless of how many pilot actions you take as part of a double maneuver, you move forward at most one zone during the chase progress phase.

Chase Progress

In the chase progress phase, the GM advances vehicles (based on their pilots’ chosen actions and whether they succeeded at the required checks), then determines whether any participants have escaped or been left behind and whether the chase is over.

Advance Vehicles

The GM moves forward by one zone all vehicles whose pilots succeeded at a minimum of one required check. If a vehicle’s pilot deliberately slowed down or she failed all the Piloting checks attempted, her vehicle doesn’t move forward. If a pilot attempted to keep pace and failed, her vehicle instead moves back one zone. If a pilot attempted to speed up and failed by less than 5, her vehicle still moves forward one zone now. Because a pilot has to fail all checks to stay put, a pilot who tried to speed up twice would stay put only if she failed both checks by 5 or more. The slow down action supersedes the forward movement from other successful Piloting checks, so if the pilot succeeded at the evade and slow down actions, she’d get the bonus to her vehicle’s AC but wouldn’t move forward. Treat uncontrolled vehicles as if their pilots had failed all Piloting checks.

If a vehicle is engaged with another and fails all its checks, it still moves forward along with another engaged vehicle, provided that vehicle would be advanced by the GM. However, the opposing vehicle gains all bonuses from being a zone ahead (even though it’s in the same zone). If all the vehicles in an engagement fail all their checks, none move.

Hazards and other effects of moving into a zone trigger immediately (see Chase Environments for more information, since sometimes environments can prompt specific hazards in a relevant zone).

Escaping and Getting Left Behind

You leave a chase if you escape or get left behind. During the chase progress phase, you escape if you end up two zones ahead of all adversaries, and you get left behind if you end up two zones behind.

If you would escape from a chase but don’t want to do so, you can voluntarily move back to being only one zone ahead in the chase progress phase.

It’s possible for you to rejoin a chase if you’ve been left behind (or if you already escaped and want to later support allies with an ambush), but it requires Extraordinary circumstances and happens at the GM’s discretion.

Pilot Actions Phase

Vehicle Chase Example

Pilot Action: Speed Up

Pilot Action: Engage

In this example, the PCs are in a chase with two enemy vehicles, one a zone ahead, and the other a zone behind. The enemy pilots have taken their actions—now it’s the PC pilot’s turn.

The PC pilot takes a double maneuver to speed up and engage the enemy. She successfully speeds up…

…then successfully engages Enemy A. In the chase progress phase, Enemy B will be two zones behind and out of the chase.

Enemy B

Enemy B

Enemy B

Enemy A

Ahead of PC vehicle

+2 to all Piloting checks

+2 to attack rolls

PC vehicle

Ahead of Enemy B vehicle

+2 to Piloting checks vs. Enemy B

+2 to attack rolls vs. Enemy B

PC vehicle

Speed up PC vehicle

Engage Enemy A

Enemy A

As an example, suppose the PCs are in an exploration buggy fleeing from a police cruiser, and are one zone ahead of the pursuing police cruiser. During the pilot actions phase, the PC pilot succeeds at a Piloting check to speed up, immediately moving the buggy an additional zone ahead, which brings it two zones ahead of the police cruiser. The officer piloting the police cruiser tries to speed up and catch the PCs, but he fails his Piloting check, so the police cruiser remains in its zone. During the chase progress phase, both vehicles move forward one zone, but because the PCs are still two zones ahead, they escape and leave the chase.

In this example, the PCS escaping and the police getting left behind have the same end result. But what if there were two police cruisers, and one succeeded at its check to speed up but the other didn’t? the cruiser that succeeded would end up one zone behind the PCs, and the one that failed would be two zones behind. The second cruiser would leave the chase, but the PCs wouldn’t escape because their buggy isn’t two zones ahead of all pursuers.

The GM draws horizontal lines on a battle map to represent several zones and puts all the vehicles in the center zone.

The Redliners pull out of a side street on enercycles, furiously waving laser pistols. Roll initiative checks!

The players all roll initiative checks, and the GM rolls an initiative check for the ysoki. Sssazza gets an 18, Buddy gets a 16, Merris gets a 12, the ysoki get an 11, and Cha’lak gets a 6. Buddy is the PCs’ pilot, and the ysoki each pilot their basic enercycles. It’s Buddy’s turn to take his pilot actions for the exploration buggy.

All right, time for the pilot actions phase! Buddy, what actions would you like to take?

Buddy: I’m going to try to speed ahead of them and then duck down an alley. Maybe we can lose them.

Buddy uses his full action to make a double maneuver to first use the speed up action, requiring a Piloting check, and then to use the trick action to duck into an alley. The GM determines that this trick action requires a Piloting check, since maneuvering the buggy into the alley is tricky. Buddy takes a –4 penalty to both skill checks because of the double maneuver.

Buddy’s Piloting check to speed up has a DC of 18. Buddy has a Piloting skill bonus of +8. He rolls a d20 and gets an 18, for a total of 22. The buggy advances one zone immediately and then will advance another zone during the chase progress phase. The DC of the check for Buddy’s trick action is 16, but Buddy rolls a 5 for a total of 9, so he can’t quite zoom into the alleyway.

The ysoki also try to speed up to catch you!

Each of the ysoki attempts the speed up action, which requires them each to take a move action. The DC for their Piloting checks is 18 (17 + 1 for the enercycles’ item level), and they each have a +5 modifier to Piloting checks. Each ysoki also gains a +2 bonus to Piloting checks thanks to that vehicle’s modifiers.

One ysoki rolls a 12 and succeeds with a total result of 19. The ysoki moves forward one zone immediately and will move forward another zone during the chase progress phase. The other ysoki rolls a 2 and fails with a total result of 9. This is a failure by more than 5, so the ysoki doesn’t move forward and won’t move forward during the chase progress phase!

The second ysoki must have sludge in his engine. Anyway, now it’s time for the chase progress phase.

Ending a Chase

If either all enemies or you and your allies have escaped or been left behind, the chase is over. It’s possible for one group to escape by dropping back until it’s left behind, but it’s easy for the other chase participants to circle back and pick off the group while it’s a sitting duck.

Combat

The final phase of each round is combat. This happens in initiative order, and characters can take the usual actions they can in combat, with the following adjustments. Pilots can also act during the combat phase, as long as they have any actions remaining to spend. Because of the motion involved in a chase, all attacks take the penalty listed in the vehicle’s Modifiers entry. However, because the vehicles are all moving at high speed, the differences in speed cancel out somewhat, so combatants take the normal penalty instead of the higher penalty for full speed.

Ranged Attacks

Passengers on and pilots of vehicles can attempt ranged attacks against other vehicles or their passengers in the same zone or one zone away. Unless otherwise specified, these ranged attacks follow the normal rules for attacking from vehicles. To determine the range between two vehicles, see Relative Positioning.

As a passenger, you can attack with your ranged weapons or abilities. If you’re a gunner, you can attack with the vehicle’s mounted weapons, as described in Firing vehicle Weapons. As a pilot, you can attack only if you have a standard action left and can make a full attack only if you left the vehicle uncontrolled in the pilot actions phase.

Passengers can attack an enemy vehicle directly, but targeting riders or pilots can be difficult. vehicles (except for entirely open vehicles) usually grant their passengers some degree of cover.

Due to high speeds, wind, and other factors that may or may not be part of the environment (see Chase Environments), some weapons might not work effectively during a chase. For example, it’s nearly impossible to throw a grenade from one vehicle to another while moving at high speeds. The GM has final say on what can and can’t be used during a chase and the penalties incurred for difficult attacks.

Engagement

Vehicles in the same zone as one another can become engaged, meaning they’re neck-and-neck and within physical striking distance of one another. If two or more vehicles are engaged, move their miniatures or tokens next to one another. The vehicles’ passengers and pilots can make melee attacks against each other in the combat phase or attempt to board the other vehicle. An engaged vehicle can’t speed up, slow down, engage another enemy, or end the engagement unless it takes the break free action.

Melee Attacks

Anyone in a vehicle can make melee attacks against those on an enemy vehicle with which their own vehicle is engaged. You can make melee attacks against those in an enemy vehicle only with reach weapons, and such targets typically have some cover provided by their vehicle. Even when your vehicles are engaged and you’re using a reach weapon, you do not threaten any squares of the other vehicle.

Boarding

If two vehicles are engaged and you are a passenger, you can attempt to move from one vehicle to the other as a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity. This is like boarding a vehicle in normal combat, but it also requires a successful Acrobatics or Athletics check with a DC equal to 5 + the KAC of the vehicle you’re boarding. Failure by less than 5 means that you are unable to board the other vehicle and remain on your vehicle. If you fail by 5 or more, you fall from the vehicle and land prone. You take double the normal falling damage for the distance of your fall or 1d6 falling damage if you fall less than 10 feet. Once you have boarded an enemy vehicle, you take the attack penalty from that vehicle, not your former one.

Collisions

When piloting a vehicle, you can attempt a Piloting check (DC = the enemy vehicle’s KAC) as a standard action to smash into another vehicle you’re engaged with. If you’re successful, your vehicle deals its collision damage to the enemy vehicle, and takes half that much damage itself. A vehicle’s collision damage is listed in the Attack (Collision) entry of its statistics.

Chase Environments

Where a chase occurs can dramatically influence how it plays out. Heavy traffic, obstacles, and winding paths could all impede a chase or add strategic options for the vehicles involved. The GM decides the environment’s effects on the chase, and the sample chase environments can give the GM some ideas. The environment might affect the entire chase or only some zones—whatever makes the most sense for the scene.

Designating Environmental Zones

For environmental effects that affect only part of the chase, the GM should designate one or more zones as environmental zones that contain hazards. The GM should reveal an environmental zone once it comes into view of the foremost vehicle in the chase.

Types of Environments

Environments can affect vehicles in a chase in five main ways.

Active Hazards: Hazards can directly impede or damage the vehicles in a chase. They might be persistent or temporary. Some hazards make one attack against a vehicle when that vehicle enters the hazard’s zone. The hazard might trigger only once, or it might attack every vehicle that enters the zone. Decide whether a hazard deals damage, knocks a vehicle off course, or both. The hazard’s CR should be close to the item levels of the vehicles involved in the chase, and should use the corresponding attack bonus and damage amount (see Table 8–4: Hazard Attacks and Damage above). If a hazard knocks vehicles off course, the pilot of any vehicle it hits takes a –4 penalty to Piloting checks (in addition to its normal modifiers) for 1 round. If a hazard both deals damage and knocks the target off course, reduce the attack bonus by 2 and halve the damage.

Altered Attacks: Attacks might be more difficult due to bad weather or barriers that block lines of sight. Use the normal rules for concealment, cover, and line of sight when implementing environments that alter attacks. It’s rare for the environment to improve attacks, but if it somehow would, you can reduce the normal penalties for attacking during a chase.

Altered Movement: Some environments make it easier, more difficult, or more complicated to move. This might come up in a chase through a space station where some zones lack Artificial gravity or on a muddy plain where vehicles could get bogged down. Altered movement usually causes a +2 bonus or –2 penalty to skill checks attempted during pilot actions. The environment can work differently on different vehicle types; a wheeled transport might take a penalty when Artificial gravity goes out, while a hover vehicle wouldn’t, for example. Likewise, the effects can change how certain actions work. A massive downhill slope might make it easier to speed up but harder to keep pace, or it could even require a check to slow down.

New Tricks: Environments can provide new Tricks that pilots can use with the trick action during the pilot actions phase. These could include clipping precarious rocks in a canyon so they fall in your enemies’ paths or diverting oncoming traffic toward your enemies. These Tricks usually have a DC of 2 to 4 higher than the normal trick action, but their effects should also be more impressive. In terms of game rules, the effect might be a bigger penalty for enemies’ Piloting checks (–4 to –6), or the trick might create a new active hazard (see Active Hazards) in the zone directly behind the vehicle.

Split Routes: It’s possible for chase participants to take slightly different routes through a zone to gain some other Tactical advantage. A split route works much like having two parallel zones in a single zone, one of which has a different environment: usually altered movement (for a shortcut) or an active hazard (for a dangerous zone). The pilot decides which route to pursue when taking his pilot action. Even if two vehicles are in the same zone, they can’t interact with each other if they’re on different parts of a split route. A split route usually lasts for only one zone before converging.

If vehicles that are engaged pursue different routes, their engagement is automatically broken off. When the route converges again, any vehicles that had been engaged and are still in the same zone automatically become engaged again.

Table 8–4: Hazard Attacks and Damage
CR Attack Bonus Damage
1/4 +3 2d4
1/3 +4 2d4
1/2 +6 3d4
1 +8 4d4
2 +9 5d4
3 +10 5d4
4 +11 5d6
5 +12 5d8
6 +14 6d8
7 +15 6d10
8 +17 7d10
9 +19 8d10
10 +20 9d10
11 +21 10d10
12 +23 11d10
13 +24 12d10
14 +25 14d10
15 +26 15d10
16 +28 17d10
17 +29 18d10
18 +30 20d10
19 +31 23d10
20 +32 25d10

Sample Chase Environments

The following sample environments provide some details about those environments’ features as well as the appropriate accompanying modifiers.

GMs should feel free to use these sample environments and their modifiers whole cloth in their games, to create their own unique environments, and to choose environmental features that are most appropriate for the chases they wish to run.

Aquatic Environment

The following are sample features for an aquatic environment.

Active Hazards: Megashark attack (when a vehicle first enters its zone, a megashark attacks whichever vehicle is at the rear at the end of the chase progress phase and then moves along with the chase, attacking the rearmost vehicle each round), piranha swarms (attacks a random vehicle after the chase progress phase each round)

Altered Attacks: Frightened squid shoal or sudden squall (concealment), underwater debris (cover)

Altered Movement: Languid or opposing current (–2 to Piloting), swift current moving with you (+2 to Piloting)

New Tricks: Scatter whale pod (altered movement gives pursuers –4 to Piloting), spew mud (create concealment)

Split Routes: Coral reef (–2 to Piloting, or –2 to trick attempt), shipwreck (shortcut: +2 to Piloting to keep pace or speed up, or +2 to trick attempt)

Desert Environment

The following are sample features for a desert environment.

Active Hazards: Death worm attack (when a vehicle first enters its zone, a death worm attacks whichever vehicle is at the rear at the end of the chase progress phase and then moves along with the chase, attacking the rearmost vehicle each round), falling rocks (attacks the first vehicle that enters the zone)

Altered Attacks: Rock spires (cover), sandstorm (total concealment)

Altered Movement: Deep sand (–2 to Piloting), mud flat (–2 to Piloting)

New Tricks: Kick up dust clouds (create concealment), topple rocks (new active hazard)

Split Routes: Giant antlion sand pit (hazard if not avoided), narrow canyon (shortcut: +2 to Piloting to keep pace or speed up, or +2 to trick attempt)

Forest Environment

The following are sample features for a forest environment.

Active Hazards: Angry beasts (attack the vehicle at the rear at the end of each chase progress phase for 2 rounds), falling tree (attacks first vehicle to enter zone)

Altered Attacks: Obscuring trunks (concealment), ricocheting shots (10% chance a missed ranged attack ricochets and hits a vehicle adjacent to the original target, not including the attacking vehicle)

Altered Movement: Dense grove of narrow-trunked trees (–2 to Piloting), thick detritus (–2 to Piloting)

New Tricks: Bank your vehicle behind foliage (create concealment), topple brush to block path (altered movement gives pursuers –4 to Piloting)

Split Routes: Hidden cave (shortcut: +2 to Piloting to keep pace or speed up, or +2 to trick attempt), ramp off a cliff (+2 to Piloting to speed up, but –2 to Piloting for all other checks)

Highway Environment

The following are sample features for a highway.

Active Hazards: Oncoming traffic (attacks each vehicle to enter zone), police barricade (might add police to chase)

Altered Attacks: Series of pillars (cover), smoke clouds (concealment)

Altered Movement: Damaged road (–1 to Piloting), steep hill (+1 to Piloting going downhill, or –1 to Piloting going uphill)

New Tricks: Divert traffic toward enemies (new active hazard), hack traffic signals (altered movement gives pursuers –2 to Piloting)

Split Routes: Hypertube (+4 to Piloting to speed up, but –2 to Piloting for all other checks), surface street (–1 to Piloting compared to highway), tunnel (shortcut: +2 to Piloting to keep pace or speed up, or +2 to trick attempt)

Experience for vehicle Chases

PCs earn experience points for successfully completing a vehicle chase. To award XP, take the CRs of the creatures in enemy vehicles, plus the CRs of any active hazards encountered, and award the proper amount of XP for each CR as outlined on Table 11–3: Experience Point Awards. The PCs can earn XP for each creature only once; if a creature was defeated in combat during a successful chase, the PCs don’t gain experience for defeating the creature and for completing the chase.

At the GM’s discretion, when the PCs complete a chase in a particularly dangerous environment, the environment itself might increase the amount of experience the characters gain from the encounter.

Sample Vehicle Chase

Lissa the Game Master is guiding a group of four players as they flee the scene of a successful raid on the headquarters of the Akitonian Redliner gang to retrieve a piece of stolen technology. Joe is playing Buddy, an android technomancer; Crystal is playing Sssazza, a vesk Solarian with anger-management issues; Tonya is playing Cha’lak, a shirren mystic and student of the Akashic Record; and Mark is playing Merris, a korasha lashunta envoy whose sarcasm plagues his enemies.

As the heroes blast through the city streets on a stolen exploration buggy, they realize that two basic enercycles driven by two angry ysoki gangsters are hot on their tails. If the PCs can lose them, they might be able to hide out until the heat dies down. A vehicle chase ensues!

The buggy and one enercycle move ahead another zone, but the enercycle of the Redliner who failed badly doesn’t move forward. It is two zones behind everyone, so the chase leaves it behind!

You and the remaining ysoki cross a canal bridge just before it lifts. The slower Redliner is out of the chase!

Sssazza: Only one left! Let me at ’em!

It’s now the combat phase and you have the highest initiative, so go for it.

Sssazza: I shoot at his vehicle’s back tire.

Sssazza fires a shot from her azimuth laser pistol, adds her bonus to attacks with that weapon, and subtracts 2 due to the penalty to attacking from the buggy. She gets a total of 9. She compares this to the vehicle’s EAC of 10—the shot barely misses.

Sssazza: Blasted peashooter!

Oh, so close! Buddy, it’s your turn, but you spent your full action piloting the buggy. Merris, it’s your turn.

Merris: I’m also going for the bike’s tire.

Merris’s total is 15, so he hits. He rolls 1d4 and deals 2 damage.

The ysoki chitters with rage as his back tire billows smoke! It’s his turn, and he’s looking at you, Merris!

The ysoki uses his remaining standard action to shoot his flame pistol. Once accounting for the –1 penalty for shooting from his enercycle, the ysoki’s result is 11—not enough to hit Merris’s EAC.

Cha’lak, the ysoki’s enercycle isn’t in great shape. What do you do?

Cha’lak: Eat pavement, rat—I shoot the other tire!

Cha’lak rolls a natural 20 on her attack roll with her Tactical semi-auto pistol. It’s a critical hit! She rolls double her normal damage dice—in this case, 2d6—and gets 5. That reduces the ysoki’s enercycle to 0 Hit Points, meaning that it’s wrecked.

The enercycle spins out and the ysoki takes a dive!

Because the PCs have outrun one gang member and broken the other’s vehicle, the chase is over. The PCs are free to take their stolen exploration buggy and technology back to their base!

Vehicle Stat Blocks

Vehicles range from simple personal transports to massive airships and sea vessels. Starships are handled differently from vehicles. Statistics for specific vehicles are detailed below.

A vehicle stat block contains the following entries.

Name and Level: These list the vehicle’s name and item level.

Price: This entry lists the vehicle’s price in credits. The availability of some vehicles might be restricted, and a player must ask the GM what is available for purchase.

Size and Vehicle Type: This entry lists the vehicle’s size and whether the vehicle is built for land, water, atmospheric flight, or a combination thereof, followed by its dimensions.

Speed: The speed entry first lists the vehicle’s drive speed, followed by its full speed, and concludes with its speed in miles per hour for overland movement over the terrain type for which the vehicle was designed. If the speed entry doesn’t list a movement type, the vehicle can move only on the ground. If the speed entry lists only swim, the vehicle must move underwater, and if the speed entry lists only fly, the vehicle must fly (though most flying vehicles can also move on the ground). Some vehicles have hover speeds, which means they can move overland and over water but not underwater.

EAC and KAC: These entries indicate the Energy Armor Class and Kinetic Armor Class for the vehicle.

Cover: This entry indicates the type of cover the vehicle gives its pilot and passengers. This might vary based on circumstances—a passenger hanging out of a window to fire a weapon doesn’t get the full benefit of the vehicle’s cover.

HP: This entry lists the vehicle’s Hit Points. If the vehicle is reduced to or below the number of HP listed in parentheses, it’s broken. While broken, the vehicle takes a –2 penalty to its AC and collision DC, its Piloting modifier decreases by 2, and its full speed and mph speed are halved. If a vehicle is reduced to 0 HP, it’s wrecked. A wrecked vehicle can’t be piloted, and it might be difficult or impossible to repair. If the vehicle is in water when it is wrecked, it sinks; if it is flying, it falls.

Hardness: As an object, a vehicle has hardness. Any damage a vehicle takes is reduced by its hardness.

Attack: This entry indicates an attack the vehicle has, the damage it deals, and the DC to avoid it (if any). Most vehicles have only collision attacks, which deal bludgeoning damage. (See Vehicle Collision Damage and the ram and the run over action for more on collisions.)

Modifiers: The vehicle imposes these modifiers on the attack rolls and listed skill checks of its pilot and passengers. The attack roll penalty worsens at full speed, as indicated in parentheses.

Systems: The vehicle’s special systems, such as autocontrol, autopilot, or comm units, are listed here, if it has any.

Passengers: If the vehicle can carry extra passengers, this entry lists how many the vehicle can hold in addition to the pilot.

Special Abilities: Any abilities unique to the vehicle are described in full at the end of the stat block.

Sample Vehicles

Goblin Junkcycle Level 1

Price 425 Medium land Vehicle (5 ft. wide, 5 ft. long, 2 ft. high)

Speed 15 ft., full 250 ft., 28 mph

EAC 10; KAC 11; Cover none

HP 6 (5); Hardness 5

Attack (Collision) 2d4 (DC 9)

Modifiers –1 Piloting, -2 attack (–3 at full speed)

Systems unstable engine

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Unstable Engine (Ex) Once the junkcycle becomes broken, its engine explodes in 1d4 rounds (even if it’s been wrecked), dealing 3d6 fire damage to anyone riding the vehicle and 1d6 fire damage to anyone within 10 feet (Reflex DC 8 half).

Basic Enercycle Level 1

Price 700 Large land Vehicle (5 ft. wide, 10 ft. long, 3 ft. high)

Speed 20 ft., full 200 ft., 22 mph

EAC 10; KAC 12; Cover none

HP 7 (3); Hardness 5

Attack (Collision) 2d4 (DC 8)

Modifiers +2 Piloting, –1 attack (–3 at full speed)

Passengers 1

Exploration Buggy

Level 1 Price 1,000 Large land Vehicle (5 ft. wide, 10 ft. long, 4 ft. high)

Speed 15 ft., full 350 ft., 40 mph

EAC 12; KAC 14; Cover partial cover

HP 14 (7); Hardness 5

Attack (Collision) 4d4 (DC 10)

Modifiers +0 Piloting, –2 attack (–4 at full speed)

Passengers 3

Torpedo Minisub Level 1

Price 1,500 Large water Vehicle (5 ft. wide, 10 ft. long, 3 ft. high)

Speed 20 ft., full 200 ft., 22 mph (swim)

EAC 12; KAC 14; Cover total cover

HP 10 (5); Hardness 5

Attack (Collision) 4d4 (DC 10)

Modifiers +2 Piloting, –1 attack (–3 at full speed)

Passengers 1

Urban Cruiser Level 2

Price 2,210 Large land Vehicle (10 ft. wide, 10 ft. long, 4 ft. high)

Speed 20 ft., full 500 ft., 55 mph

EAC 14; KAC 15; Cover improved cover

HP 24 (12); Hardness 5

Attack (Collision) 5d4 (DC 11)

Modifiers +0 Piloting, –2 attack (–4 at full speed)

Systems autocontrol, planetary comm unit; Passengers 3

Police Cruiser Level 4

Price 6,195 Large land and air Vehicle (10 ft. wide, 10 ft. long, 5 ft. high)

Speed 25 ft., full 650 ft., 75 mph (ground and fly)

EAC 17; KAC 19; Cover improved cover

HP 50 (25); Hardness 7

Attack (Collision) 5d6 (DC 13)

Attack (Front) autodisabler (3d8 electricity, ammo 2)

Modifiers +2 Piloting, –2 attack (–4 at full speed)

Systems autopilot (Piloting +13), planetary comm unit; Passengers 1 plus 2 prisoners

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Autodisabler (Ex) the police cruiser’s autodisabler is programmed to damage only vehicles. On a critical hit with the autodisabler, the target vehicle malfunctions for 1d4 rounds. During this time, the affected vehicle’s pilot can’t spend more than one move action per round on controlling the vehicle.

All-Terrain Transport Level 6

Price 8,370 Huge land Vehicle (10 ft. wide, 20 ft. long, 7 ft. high)

Speed 10 ft., full 450 ft., 50 mph

EAC 13; KAC 16; Cover total cover

HP 90 (45); Hardness 8

Attack (Collision) 7d8 (DC 12)

Modifiers –4 Piloting, –3 attack (–6 at full speed)

Systems autopilot (Piloting +13), planetary comm unit; Passengers 7

Pump-Jet Sub Level 6

Price 13,150 Huge water Vehicle (10 ft. wide, 20 ft. long, 7 ft. high)

Speed 10 ft., full 450 ft., 50 mph (swim)

EAC 13; KAC 16; Cover total cover

HP 90 (45); Hardness 10

Attack (Collision) 7d8 (DC 12)

Modifiers –4 Piloting, –3 attack (–6 at full speed)

Systems autopilot (Piloting +13), planetary comm unit; Passengers 7

Hover Pod Level 7

Price 14,850 Large land and water Vehicle (10 ft. wide, 10 ft. long, 4 ft. high)

Speed 30 ft., full 550 ft., 65 mph (hover)

EAC 17; KAC 20; Cover cover

HP 80 (40); Hardness 4

Attack (Collision) 5d10 (DC 17)

Modifiers +3 Piloting, –2 attack (–4 at full speed)

Systems autocontrol, planetary comm unit; Passengers 3

Vehicle Collision Damage

A vehicle’s collision damage and the DC to avoid it are based on its item level and modified by its size (if other than Large), as shown in Table 7–32 below. Some systems can increase this damage. If the vehicle’s size reduces its collision damage to 0 dice, it deals 0 damage on a collision.

Table 7–32: Damage and Size
Item Level Damage DC
1/4 2d4 B 7
1/3 2d4 B 8
1/2 3d4 B 9
1 4d4 B 10
2 5d4 B 11
3 5d4 B 12
4 5d6 B 13
5 5d8 B 13
6 6d8 B 14
7 6d10 B 15
8 7d10 B 16
9 8d10 B 16
10 9d10 B 17
11 10d10 B 18
12 11d10 B 19
13 12d10 B 19
14 14d10 B 20
15 15d10 B 21
16 17d10 B 22
17 18d10 B 22
18 20d10 B 23
19 23d10 B 24
20 25d10 B 25
Vehicle Size Damage DC Modifier
Diminutive –4 dice +8
Tiny –3 dice +6
Small –2 dice +4
Medium –1 die +2
Large
Huge +1 die –2
Gargantuan +2 dice –4
Colossal +3 dice –6