Big Sky Liberation Front
Low-Tech Campaign Notes
by Dave Miner
The blue car continued to gain on the truck. The passenger
frantically reloading his pistol to resume his attack on the truck.
The passenger in the bed of the truck took the lull in fire to kick
down the tail gate. The gunner on the tripod machine gun took this
moment to let his weapon speak. The blue car's windshield
disintegrated under the hail of 7.62mm rounds. Driver and passenger
crumpled as the car shot sharply off the road, flipped and exploded.
That would teach him not to tailgate.
I have tried to remember all of my Chassis and Crossbow campaigns
from what must be 8-10 years ago, so forgive the rambling
unconnected structure of this file.
1) Hand weapons rule. Many hand weapons still did half damage to
vehicular components and I feel this still to be acceptable.
2) Well, before the official Alternate Encumbrance Rules for
personal gear in CWC 2.5, UACFH and Classic Car Wars, I had made my
own encumbrance rules just for Chassis and Crossbow. So, I used this
for encumbrance instead of GEs. Now, I would just go with the CWC
3) I know the cost for the engines was far less than
what it is in Car Wars. I cannot remember if that was my idea or
4) Body armor. I had 1-point and 2-point BA. I think the 2-point
version may have restricted movement like IBA does today. I think an
ADQ had some 1-DP non-ablative BA which I modified. (I did not like
the ADQ description of it).
5) Mechanic Skill is your friend. I don't think I had a player
whose characters didn't at least have Mechanic at base level, logic
being that you would not take to the roads without knowing how to
fix your vehicle yourself.
6) No studded leather. Mad Max lived in Australia, not the
Inland Empire (Eastern Washington State, Northern Idaho and Western
7) Ram Prow. This gadget is similar to the modern bumper
spikes (but I thought up of mine first). Ram prows added 2d6 damage
on a ram and were destroyed when the front armor was destroyed. Cost
and weight were based on 2 points of metal armor (or some
The best Chassis and Crossbow campaign I ran started in the rugged
mountains of northwest Montana in the scrappy town of Libby. Lincoln
County had been largely purchased by Mitsui for all the lumber and
mineral resources. Libby, the county seat, had become the regional
office for Mitsui and once again a "company town." Most of the
residents grudgingly took the takeover well. Some did not.
In a secluded booth in the Past Time bar, hushed voices met with an
outsider from Helena. They spoke of resistance and rebellion. The
spoke of vandalism and terrorism. And when the outsider left to
return to Helena, the Lincoln County Chapter of the BSLF had been
born. (For information on the Big Sky Liberation Front see The AADA
Road Atlas and Survival Guide Volume Seven: The U.S. Mountain West).
Over the course of the campaign, the players built up their
resources and reserves. Raids and counter-raids between Mitsui
Corporation and the BSLF was the normal scenario of the week. The
BSLF slowly grew in power and formed an uneasy truce with Green Fist
(a pro-environment terrorist group; see The AADA Road Atlas Survival
Guide Volume Three: The U.S. Southeast) who also wanted Mitsui out.
The alliance ultimately broke between the two groups in a rather
bloody conflict. There was also a Chassis and Crossbow Boat Wars
combat between our heroes (the BSLF) and the RCMP on Lake Koocanusa
over international fishing rights. Note: This had been put in just
to play with boats in Chassis and Crossbow and was later dismissed
as being part of the campaign since most of PCs drowned. Oops.
All vehicles, characters, etc. were developed prior to the first
game to make sure everything balanced out as I didn't just give out
a dollar value and tell everyone to go.
As I was playing with only three (sometimes four) people, everyone
had two Main Characters (i.e. Drivers) and whatever other Cannon
Fodder needed to crew their rigs. The Main Characters were built on
70 points (no more than 30 in any one skill) and Cannon Fodder
started with 30 points.
I did not base starting vehicles and equipment off of a true dollar
figure. Instead used what I call "Car Wars Classifieds." I took a
local newspaper and went to the auto section of the classifieds. I
gave the players a 4-sided die and a 20-sided die. The 4-sided gave
me the column and the 20-sided told how far to go down the column.
This procedure then gave the player a vehicle to begin with. Since
each player had two vehicles, I let them roll three times and take
his pick of the three. (Occasionally, we'd give even a fourth roll
if there was no real "winner" vehicles.)
An alternative to the Car Wars Classifieds was to peruse the
classifieds ahead of time and assign numbers to "good" vehicles and
roll based off the assigned numbers. The advertisements were then
translated as best as possible. Any extras noted in the ad were
converted. Older cars would usually given pre-damaged engines, lower
top speed, etc. Usually base suspension and chassis were used, but
sport cars would get better suspension. Trucks may have heavy or
extra-heavy chassis. If the ad specified a certain engine, we'd use
that otherwise we'd give it a good guess or look it up.
Modifying the base vehicle. Here's where things get interesting. I
would have a table similar to this:
|Common Equipment only
|One piece of Uncommon Equipmen
|One piece of Rare Equipment or Two Uncommon
|One piece Very Rare Equipment or Two Rare
This was based off the Dueltrack's idea of how common weapons were.
Not having any of that in front of me, I will not even try to begin
to breakdown how I had classified weapons and other related stuff.
Each Driver would roll to see what (if any) exotic equipment they
could have . . . and then came the kicker . . . They would have
to have a legitimate reason why they have such a piece of
equipment. The more rounded the character, the better the
story behind how they got the weapon, the more I would allow.
Once the base vehicle and exotic equipment was established . . .
then came equalizing . . . This is where the referee (me) came into
play . . . If Joe Player ended up with a Yugo with nothing Special
and a Van with an Uncommon, I would give him more money than Bob
Player who got the F-250 and the Mustang each with a Rare. Since
everyone was on the same side, each player did not have to
equal each other, but it worked better if they were all reasonably
peers. The money then went to everything their little hearts desired
and could reasonably explain. Personal gear (for both Driver and
Cannon Fodder), vehicular gear, engine add-on's (J.C. Whitney
catalogs became priceless), etc. The only exception was vehicular
armor. Anyone could buy as much armor as they could afford and could
carry on their cars, although I never really explained where in a
small backwoods town someone could acquire armor grade steel to slap
on there Volvo and make it into a APC. Oh, well.
So. We got the vehicles. The people and all I had to do was make an
encounter that was reasonably balanced. This is where the SWAG
(Swinging Wild A** Guess) Factor comes into play. I had a few
"stock" Chassis and Crossbow vehicles designed and in this campaign
I had my basic Mitsui Corporate Soldiers and used what I needed
throwing in reinforcements if I had to, but usually I could make a
fairly even battle.
After combat came the quick and dirty business of salvage. This was
what will make a successful campaign in Chassis and Crossbow. You
need salvage to rebuild, to modify, to survive. Additional money for
repairs and such would come from looting, selling stuff, character
backgrounds (occasionally) and even loyal (albeit gun-shy) BSLF
What I can remember of the player's vehicles . . . Most of those
vehicles were not how they started the game, but after a few
encounters and became unique in my mind . . .
- Station wagon with a ring-mounted MG and armor. This
thing was unstoppable. (Chassis and Crossbow -- Where a
station wagon is legitimate dueling vehicle).
- Pickup with OR suspension and a pintle-mounted pair of rifles.
Creativity was ultimately the players' best friend. If they could
explain how to do something, I would probably allow it, up to and
including a trailer-mounted catapult one character would bring into
battle and launch a burning napalm-like substance into an enemy
encampment. This amounted to a very bulky, inaccurate one-shot
weapon as reloading took too long, but if it hit . . . Wow!
- Longnose tractor. Gypo Logger's Rig. Chainsaw carried in the
cab. After the first couple of battles, this became relegated to
hauling off scrap after the players acquired a flatbed and
equipping it with a winch.
Enough rambling for now.
-- Dave Miner
daivzhavue AT yahoo.com