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I've done a few vehicle sequences in our campaign so far, where I drop my party into a situation that requires one of them to pilot a vehicle and react to environmental challenges thrown at him as a result of his piloting abilities. I've used Dex checks to accommodate overcoming this, but I'm curious if anyone's aware of an established or widely used methodology that I can adopt to make this more challenging/interesting?

The meat of the next session is going to involve a high-speed pursuit through the avenues of a city in lockdown, and I want the party to feel like they're doing more than just on rails.

To summarise;

  • Is there an established approach to handling vehicle handling/chases?
  • Should I give my passengers any specific advantages or disadvantages if they attempt to attack pursuing vehicles?
  • How should I measure the length of the chase? (I was thinking I'll throw 10 to 20 'milestone' challenges at the pilot, and if he succeeds, they reach intact, if not, the pursuit comes to an end)
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    \$\begingroup\$ What is the purpose of this scene? \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jul 6 at 9:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ They're currently under pursuit and need to traverse a large area of the city to reach a station which will allow them to progress on to the final chapter of the campaign. An escape sequence essentially. \$\endgroup\$ – mrc85 Jul 6 at 9:56
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Chases

Check Chapter 8 of the DMG, the Chases section.

This set of rules can make chases more exciting by introducing random elements.

It defines how to begin and end a chase, as well as random complications for both elements. You can easily adapt the urban complications to your setting.

The tables presented here don't work for all possible environments. A chase through the sewers of Baldur's Gate or through the spiderweb-filled alleys of Menzoberranzan might inspire you to create your own table.

If needed, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus have tables with Chase Complications, where you can take ideas from.

Vehicle Proficiency

Reward players with Vehicle Proficiency, a skill that is (from my experience) rarely useful, and should be emphasized here.

If you have proficiency with a certain kind of vehicle (land or water), you can add your Proficiency Bonus to any check you make to control that kind of vehicle in difficult circumstances.

Use speeds based on your vehicle

The Mounts table in Mounts & Vehicles has speeds for different animals pulling your vehicles. Use these to track distances between quarry and pursuers, based on the Chase rules.

The Mounts and Other Animals table shows each animal’s speed and base carrying Capacity.

Combat

If one of your players is busy handling the vehicle, the others can use their turns to assist him somehow (Gust of Wind on the ship's sails) or to hinder pursuers (Entangle the road behind). I would adjudicate based on their suggestions that vehicles have a small boost/delay, are easier/harder to control, or have more/less complications per round.

The Ghosts of Saltmarsh subreddit has some good threads on ship combat, which you can adapt.

Ships are creatures! And some of their actions require crewmembers to use their actions and the various parts of the ship have their own HP

Appendix A of the Ghosts of Saltmarsh module has ship statistics, I'm now sure how adaptable they would be to your setting. Appendix B of Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus contains land vehicle statistics.

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Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus has vehicle rules in Appendix B, with the following tables:

  • Mishaps (p 220)
  • Chase Complications (p 222)

There are also rules for crashing on page 221.

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Dungeon Master's Guide page 252-255 gives a detailed rules about running a chase without vehicle.

These are what change if you ride vehicle:

  1. Optionally, ignore the dashing exhaustion rule. You don't get exhausted. Your vehicle do.
    You can give the vehicle a constitution stat for chase encounter, old car might have lower constitution than newer ones.
  2. Use the vehicle speed stat, not yours.

How to do the chase:

  1. Roll initiative, then start the chase as if in combat. Participants can attack, cast spell, dash, etc. as in normal combat.
  2. Determine the distance between the quarry (you) and the chaser.
  3. The participants take turns.
  4. At the end of each round, the quarry makes a stealth check against the chaser's passive perception. On success, the chase ends and the quarry escapes successfully. On failure, the chase continues, go to 2. Keep track whether the distance increases or decreases.

A chase ends when one side or the other stops, when the quarry escapes, or when the pursuers are close enough to their quarry to catch it.

How close is close enough? The DM decides. It could be 30 ft, or 60 ft. Alternatively, the chase might end when you reached your destination, you successfully escape, or you forcefully stop the chaser (vehicle), maybe by shooting the tire or killing the driver.

The rule also includes optional complications and situations which can be used by DM to give advantage/disadvantage to either side. This also includes attacking while in chase: if you deem the chase makes it hard to attack the target, give disadvantage to the attacker. Otherwise, leave it to normal attack roll.

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The rules for Chases are in the DMG. The rules for vehicles are in Appendix A of Ghosts of Saltmarsh.

Simply put, the rules for Chases are on p. 252-255 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. They discuss the processes for Beginning the Chase, Running the Chase, and Ending the Chase, as well as a table of random complications that might arise during a chase scene. While these rules are primarily focused on foot chases, it should be possible for them to be adapted for a vehicular chase, perhaps by allowing a Dexterity (Land Vehicles) roll instead of a Dexterity (Stealth) roll to evade pursuers, and limit the number of All Ahead Full actions its driver can take instead of its Dash actions.

The rules for vehicles are found in Ghost of Saltmarsh's Appendix A: Of Ships and the Sea, comprising the majority of the material that chapter. While the rules primarily focus on medieval ships, it should be possible to adapt them relatively easily for modern road vehicles, though you'd need to invent their statistics. A car's movement systems would be its wheels and engine, its control would be its steering wheel, and so on. Perhaps the All Ahead Full action the captain of the ship might take might be renamed something like "Pedal to the Metal".

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