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I've got an idea that's not fully formed yet, kicking around in my head. I'm trying to set up a modern character who ends up stuck in a fantasy setting. Through plot-relevant forces, he was abducted from modern-day Earth and transported instantly to the game's setting, while in his car.

Having a car in a medieval world may sound awesome, but when you think about it, with no infrastructure--particularly, no paved roads and no gas stations--it's kind of useless. But then you think about it a little more, and there's probably all sorts of interesting things that you could do with one, with a bit of ingenuity. And more to the point, there's probably all sorts of things that the players could do with one, many of which would be horribly abusive and unbalancing.

So, a modern car in a magical fantasy setting. No modern infrastructure. No good-quality roads, by modern standards. Half a tank and no societal knowledge of petroleum refining. No other cars (or power grid) to get a jump from if the battery dies. Our fish out of water is reasonably smart, but he's no Connecticut Yankee.

What could be done with this car?

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closed as not a real question by LitheOhm, doppelgreener, Sardathrion, Brian Ballsun-Stanton Apr 29 '13 at 11:31

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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How does magic work in this world? What tech level, specifically, is the world at? Can we control what's in the car? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Apr 29 '13 at 5:01
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Why? Also, how does magic work? What is its source? Why provide a thing and then ad-hoc your way out of using the thing? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Apr 29 '13 at 5:45
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One thing I'd worry about for this is the question of group ownership-who has the car? I know for a fact that players can get into huge disagreements with what to do with a "gift from the gods", so giving an awesome amazing super duper thing (not that cars are necessarily this) without having enough for everyone can lead to tears. –  Kyle Willey Apr 29 '13 at 5:57
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This is a discussion fitting several criteria in the questions not to ask section of the faq, including that it is chatty and open ended. It's a brilliant discussion and sounds pretty great, but I don't think it fits the Q&A format. –  doppelgreener Apr 29 '13 at 6:24
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For inspiration, have a watch of Evil Dead: Army of Darkness, Ash ends up in medieval times with a car. Back to the Future part 3 also involves a car out of time. –  StuperUser Apr 29 '13 at 9:16

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Cars have a number of uses without infrastructure, but not all of them are as good as others.

  • For one, it is essentially the same as any other wheeled cart in terms of the fact that they can be drawn by horses (so long as the tires stay intact, and even then it wouldn't be impossible to replace the rubber with other things. The resulting vehicle would not be as ideal as a cart for most of the functions of medieval life, but it would serve as a decent "armored" vehicle. I'm not sure how exactly it compares to a horse-drawn cart in terms of load or such (I've seen video of a car being towed by a horse cart, so I know it's possible to lead one in this way). The smaller wheels (especially if the tires are ruined) make for a much more difficult ride over rugged terrain, but cars' suspension and design makes them much better than medieval carts.
  • While the gas/battery lasts it's possible to use the lights for illumination, or even play music through the vehicle. If magic exists in the setting, it could be possible to recharge the vehicle (this is perhaps scientifically dubious), and it's also possible potentially to work out an alternative fuel-you'll kill the engine really quick by running certain things through it, but if it's a question of a few more minutes of light it could be worth it.
  • Along the first point, cars are typically more massive than a horse-cart, so it's possible to use them as an improvised ram as well. Bonus points if you fill the cabin or fuel tank with something flammable and ignite it to add a little boom factor to the mix.
  • Metal is fun. Cars in any case serve as a great source of scrap metal; though this somewhat varies based on the design of the car and model; a military vehicle is made of much tougher stuff than a western consumer car which is made of much tougher stuff than a Trabant. See above; the nicer materials tend to be heavier, while the Trabant is a really light car (but plastic, so you have different uses for the materials). In addition, cars come with either upholstered or leather interiors, both of which are potentially valuable materials.
  • Airbags could be good for shock and awe, though they'd be difficult to remove without any knowledge of how to do so, especially without triggering them.
  • Say what you will about the setting, easily amused or impressed characters may find themselves in awe of the car. While I think the "venerate technology as a sacred relic" thing is a little overblown, there could certainly be people who see it and are just totally in awe.
  • The mechanisms of the car can be valuable; springs, pistons, and the like are not necessarily easily manufactured in a medieval fantasy setting.
  • A car is a nice sealed environment; while it's not as spacious as some medieval dwellings, it could be used as shelter against the elements, especially if parked in an area where it is not likely to suffer overly from the effects of weather.
  • Barring all else, cars make good ammunition for a catapult, if you find one strong enough to lift and launch the car in question. A really large trebuchet may be able to launch a car over a fortification, though it probably won't perform as well as a rock in terms of ballistics, if you fill it with something nasty it'll burst on impact as the windows shatter (and the airbags potentially deploy), allowing you to create a large patch of pitch to light on fire (or tangleroot or whatever your preferred splash attack is).
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Also, if the character is a chemist/engineer/pyromaniac like me, please note that the car is the source of quite a lot of stuff that can be used for making explosives, poisons (even inhaled ones), and such, and that being even when does not posses any laboratory equipment or external resources. –  kravaros Apr 29 '13 at 7:47
    
Love how you mentioned that recharging the car magically may perhaps be "scientifically dubious" :) –  Stockfisch Apr 29 '13 at 11:12
    
Naturally. I felt it was a clever touch. –  Kyle Willey Apr 29 '13 at 15:38

protected by mxyzplk Apr 29 '13 at 23:26

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