CWIN Vol. 1, No. 6
Arena Watch
Elemental Fury Arena
Port Angeles, Washington State

Written by Michael Drennon

Web Posted August 03, 1998
Updated August 05, 2000

In ancient times, places of awe and worship were constructed to appease the all-consuming fury of Mother Nature in her many forms. Air, Water, Fire, the Earth itself were her weapons of destruction. Through regular and often bloody sacrifices, humans sought to ease the potential fury inherent in Nature.

Times have changed, and the ancient and powerful places of worship are almost totally gone from the face of the earth. Mother Nature still wields her mighty weapons, and time has not dulled their edge or weakened her arm. Duelists often forget that an opponent they can never hope to best is present in every battle they fight. They cannot fry it with a laser, or ventilate it with a machine gun. Sometimes they can outrun it for a short while, but Nature is eternally patient. It is the wind that saps the energy from the long haul trucker and swats planes effortlessly from the sky, the squall that swallows mighty ships without leaving a trace, the fire that races through a forest outpost, the earthquake that fells a mighty city to its knees. She will be here long after we as a species are gone. How she treats us in the meantime will depend a lot on our respect for her.

It is along this line of thought that the Elemental Fury Arena was constructed. Believed by many to be a modern day version of those ancient places of worship, the Elemental Fury Arena serves as a potent reminder as to who is really in charge . . . and it is not us measly humans. The arena consists of three different levels and many difficult challenges. There are the four Elemental Pits, one for each corner of the arena, which contain the checkpoints duelists need to collect before they may open fire on other opponents. Representing the many faces of Mother Earth that duelists must traverse in the course of battle are several types of terrain. Finally there are many different opportunities for points to be scored by flying through the air. One can attempt the leap through the Eternal Flame if one feels they have the timing down, or one could traverse the icy slopes and try to complete a circuit of the third level, leaping like a mountain goat from one ice patch to another.  Whatever the tactic, whatever the dueling style, this is not an easy arena. Rare is the vehicle that leaves the floor unscathed, and the bloody sacrifices made here are fairly regular.

Arena Notes

Elemental Pits. In each of the four corners of the arena is a sunken pit, each 15' (1") below the surface of the main arena floor. Accessible by two ramps, these pits contain the checkpoint markers each duelist must make contact with in order to be allowed to fire upon other opponents. Each pit has its own unique hazard.

Element of Fire. In the northwest corner of the arena is the pit representing the Element of Fire. Two things make this pit an especially dangerous one to visit.   First, a nearly-constant flame cloud burns here. Aside from the obvious fire damage, this reduces visibility to zero. After a player enters the pit, have them turn away from the board and dictate their movements without looking at the board. In order to "find" the checkpoint, each turn the player has their vehicle in the pit, roll 1d6. On a one or two, the player has run over the proper checkpoint location, and may attempt to leave the pit. When the front of the player's vehicle is clear of the clouds, then they may turn around to observe the board once again.  Not surprisingly, this is perhaps the most difficult requirement of the arena to fulfill, and many save it until last. If players are having a difficult time getting out of the pit, referees and duelmasters may want to consider allowing for a lull in the flames to enable the hapless victim a glance at his position on the board. This allows the player to re-orient to his or her actual position before visibility reduces to zero once again. Note that IR systems will not provide any benefit, as everything will appear the same . . . very hot! Vehicles suffer the usual effects of being exposed to a normal flame cloud, including Fire Modifiers (ouch!). Lasers cannot fire into or out of these clouds due to the smoke generated.

Element of Earth. In the northeastern corner of the arena is perhaps the easiest section of the arena to fulfill. Representing the Element of Earth is mud, and lots of it. Vehicles entering the pit suffer an added D3 to any hazard or maneuver due to the slippery mud. Subtract four from any Crash Table roll as well. Vehicle acceleration is limited to 2.5 mph (5 mph for OR tires) until the vehicle reaches 25 mph, at which the vehicle may accelerate normally. In addition, should a vehicle come to a stop or try to reverse direction for any reason while all wheels are in the mud, there is a chance the vehicle will get stuck. Roll 2d6. Any result less than seven means the vehicle is stuck. Drivers may add their driving skill bonus to the roll, cycles add one more, and any vehicle with OR tires on all four corners can add one, OR tires and OR suspension get to add two to the roll. A vehicle will get stuck if the player rolls snake eyes no matter what the equipment or skill. Don't even bother if the vehicle has racing slicks, as it will be stuck as soon as all the wheels leave the entrance ramp. Players may attempt to free their vehicle every three turns. After three consecutive failed attempts at freedom, the vehicle is to be considered bogged, and is now out of contention. Jump jets combined with rocket boosters, while messy, would work nicely in this situation as long as the vehicle is not going to be thrust in the direction of a nearby wall. Otherwise, the management strongly suggests surrender to the nearest opponent with a fire clearance from arena control. The checkpoint marker for this pit is located in the southwest corner of the pit, 15' (1") from the corner wall junction. If a vehicle becomes bogged over the checkpoint, the vehicle will be removed via crane within 10 turns (roll 2d6 and subtract two). For waiting duelists, they will have to come back when it is clear. For the checkpoint to count, the vehicle must enter via the ramps provided. No, a vehicle may not drive off the edge, over the marker, and then out of the pit gaining a checkpoint. The whole point is to force some tricky maneuvering for the drivers. If a vehicle enters the pit without using the ramps, the vehicle must exit the pit. Once the vehicle has cleared the ramp it may turn around or back down the ramp and try for the checkpoint marker again.

Element of Water. In the southeastern pit is a seemingly harmless body of water. In fact it is only 6" deep, a mere 5 mph subtraction to current speed per turn.  Now comes the tricky part. Under the 6" of water is an ice slick. There is only one thing slicker than ice and that is wet ice. Vehicles entering have an additional D5 added to any hazard or maneuver. I liked the AVRO Web site's ruling that all skids and fishtails are doubled in length while a vehicle is on ice, and so I am applying them here as well. Also, halve the deceleration by Crash Tables or uncontrolled vehicles, and reduce tire damage from maneuvers, skids, spins and deceleration by two points per instance. Re-roll any Crash Table results involving rolls or vaults due to the surface is extremely slippery (unless a Crash Table roll is due to vehicle striking the wall or another vehicle).

To calculate acceleration while on ice, use the rules from the Pale Horse Arena featured in ADQ 5/3. "With regular tires, A vehicle may only accelerate at 2.5 per turn until they reach 25 mph, after which they accelerate at the normal rate.  Snowtire-equipped vehicles accelerate at no greater than 5 mph, regardless of the power of the engine or power plant. Only Icetire-equipped vehicles accelerate at whatever rate their plants allow." All types of tires are allowed, including Spiked Tires from the ARVO Equipment Locker, Tire Chains and Snow Tires from Uncle Albert's Catalog From Hell, and Ice-Racing Tires from the Pale Horse Ice Dueling Arena. However, the referee or duelmaster needs to remember the penalties for using specialized tires on surfaces other than ice. Tires specially designed for ice provide no benefits in the mud or on concrete. In fact, the opposite is generally true. Ice racing suspension may be used, however it can only function properly on the icy sections of the arena. It will not act like off-road suspension in the mud, and it will give an HC of 2 on the hardtop surfaces. Vehicular skates are not to even be considered. Similar to the Earth Pit, the checkpoint marker is 15' (1") from the junction of the walls in the northwest corner. The same rules apply for checkpoint scoring as for the checkpoint in the Earth Pit. Vehicles do not need to be under the control of the driver in order to score the checkpoint but must enter the pit via one of the ramps (i.e. the vehicle may suffer a lucky skid or spin into the marker's position, and now the player only has to be concerned with getting out of the pit).

Element of Air. The final pit is dedicated to the Element of Air. Dense mists enshroud this pit reducing the visibility much like the flame clouds in the Fire pit. No-paint windows allow for duelists to "find" the checkpoint marker on 1-3 on 1d6. IR systems allow for sighted navigation, however the checkpoint marker will not be visible, and these players will have to roll just like everyone else to "find" the marker. They just have the ability to see where they are going, and may target normally once the driver has received fire clearance. Otherwise, in all respects this pit is like the Fire pit, but without the fire damage and Fire Modifiers.

The Eternal Flame. Located in the center of the arena, surrounded by a 7 1/2' (1/2") tall concrete platform is the Eternal Flame. This combustion source is actually a surplus military flamethrower imbedded into a concrete platform. This flamethrower fires once every turn. The smoke cloud created will block LOS if a vehicle tries to trace a line of fire through it to another vehicle. If a vehicle is jumping the platform and is over the red dot when it is time for the flame to fire, the vehicle takes 3d6 damage and the appropriate Fire Modifier and Burn Duration to the underbody and tires. Don't forget about the additional D3 hazard if the vehicle should land in the mud rather than a landing ramp.

Editor's Note: Both Car Wars Tanks and Uncle Albert's Catalog From Hell do not specify the FM or the BD of the MFT. Using the FMs and BDs of the other FTs, CWIN extrapolated a Fire Modifier of 6 and Burn Duration of 5 for the MFT.

Points earned for successfully jumping the flame depend on the approach used. Even though the jump is longer, using the large ramps from the N, S, E, or W directions is generally worth fewer points than those completed on a diagonal path using the smaller ramps attached to the central platform. This is due to the more difficult nature of maneuvering in the mud to get at these approaches, versus the easier approach offered by the larger jumps. Vehicle must cross the red dot for points to be scored. Points are generally scored even if the vehicle gets scorched in the process. Simply driving over the dot is worth nothing, and may earn the offending driver an unscheduled hotfoot!

Mountain Ranges. Four elevated sections of the arena known as the Mountain Ranges surround the Cleansing Flame. These sections are 15' (1") from the main arena floor, and are covered with skating-rink-quality ice. Access to this slippery plateau is via ramps. The areas shaded in green are not vehicle accessible at all. These sloped sections actually count as hitting a wall due to the larger degree of slope. Driving down one is perfectly fine until the vehicle reaches the bottom, where the front armor will take damage as if it had stuck a "wall" of earth (infinite DP). If the vehicle has off road suspension and a power plant still left after the collision damage has been applied, allow the driver to drive on, starting at speed 0 mph.  Otherwise the vehicle is stuck, and is now affectionately treated like a piņata . . . everyone takes a swing! Surrender is advised at this point.

Simply driving onto the ice surface is a D2 hazard to most vehicles. Jumping onto it is terrifying! This surface is not as slippery as the "wet" ice in the Water Elemental Pit, and there are only the standard penalties for driving on ice (D4 to all hazards and maneuvers). Lengthened fishtails and skids, halved deceleration from skids and rolls, and decreased tire damage from skids all apply to vehicles traversing this surface. Should a vehicle leave the ice while spinning or sliding sideways, there is a very good chance the vehicle will begin to roll once it makes contact again with the earth. This judgement call I leave to the referees and duelmasters to determine, however I feel any vehicle going over 30 mph when it leaves the ice in said awkward orientation is subject to a roll. Give the driver one chance to regain control. Use the same system for regaining control during a spin. Should the driver be successful, assume he or she managed to get the steering wheels positioned properly to allow vehicle to keep spinning once the vehicle hits the pavement or mud. Note this does not give the driver regained control as he or she is still spinning, but at least they are right-side up and may have some tires left after everything calms down. If you like it, use it. If you don't, come up with your own method and let me know how you did it!

Why would anyone in their right mind want to face the many hazards of falling and sliding off the platform? Any kills earned while attempting a circuit  (the attempt must be declared by the player, prior to reaching the upper level, and the attempt must be genuine) will earn a two-point bonus. Vehicles stopping to "snipe" at other vehicles will be warned once, and then their fire clearance will be revoked. In order to re-activate it, the dastardly duelist must re-visit the four Elemental Pits and collect the checkpoints once again (it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature!). If a vehicle manages to complete one circuit of all four "ranges" by jumping consecutively from one "range" to another without leaving the elevated area, their next three kills (mobility or firepower) have a x2 multiplier. This is not easy, as other vehicles tend to fire upon these "mountain goats" with total abandon knowing that enough hazards added to the unfortunate goat will likely toss it over the side sooner or later. Something to keep in mind is that the ramps themselves are not coated in ice. If the driver can time the jump so that his or her vehicle lands on the landing ramp, the driver does not have to contend with an additional D4 hazard upon landing. There is still the D2 from hitting the icy surface after driving down the ramp, but no one said this was a cakewalk.

The Valley. The "Valley" is the area encompassed by the "Mountain Ranges", and its most notable feature is the mud. Not as deep as the Earth Elemental Pit, but just as slippery. The same hazards and acceleration penalties apply here as for the Earth Elemental Pit. The mud is not quite as deep here, so vehicles may stop, turn, burn, flip, roll, whatever; without fear of becoming stuck in the mud. Isn't that nice to know?

Ramps. All ramps are angled at 45 degrees, constructed of concrete, and are extremely difficult to destroy.

Gates. There are four gates, one by each Elemental Pit. Duelists enter here from the pits, however after making a parade lap around the Mountain Ranges; officials direct them into the Valley, where they are lined up with their backs to the Cleansing Flame platform facing out in every direction. Between the gates on each wall, there is a dividing wall forcing vehicles traveling from pit to pit either around the wall or over it via the ramps provided. If desired for some strange reason, yes, a duelist may drive out onto the wall. The top is 15' (1") from the arena floor.

Arena Defenses. Two surplus AFV turrets, affectionately named "Thunder" and "Lightning" are installed on towers in the southwest and northeast corners.  "Thunder's" turret contains a pair of linked RFTGs, and "Lightning's" turret bristles with quad GGs. As if this was not enough, each turret has coaxial paired FGs aside the main guns. These latter additions are used primarily for crowd control to avoid expensive collateral damage from the main guns. Between the two turrets they can cover just about every point in the arena. The turrets are universal as well, in case of an aerial assault on the open-air arena. It does not pay to be a problem child within this arena.

Arena Events

The Elemental Fury Arena runs only two types of events: AADA Divisional Dueling, and a ram event called "Bump and Jump."

AADA Divisional Dueling. Vehicles are lined up around the central platform, facing out. On the command from Arena Control, duelists fire their engines and tear off into the arena. Before the players are allowed to fire upon each other or score points from negotiating obstacles, they need to collect four checkpoints. These checkpoints are located in the four Elemental Pits at the corners of the arena. By "paying homage" to Mother Nature's Elemental forces, the duelists earn the right to engage in weapons fire upon any and all participants within her domain. Those who have fire clearance will have a small strobe activated on the top of their vehicle by Arena Control. This strobe does not affect targeting in any way, nor does it allow a vehicle to be seen or targeted through smoke. If a player deliberately completes an offensive action without first paying due homage and receiving a fire clearance, the player will lose all checkpoints earned, and will have to go back and collect all of them over again. If the vehicle has no checkpoints earned, the arena officials will double the points awarded for eliminating the offending vehicle until that vehicle collects all four checkpoints. At that point, the point award for eliminating that vehicle returns to normal, unless the driver tries something else equally moronic and earns another penalty. For flagrant or repeated infractions, officials will grant clearance to all active vehicles on the arena floor to fire, but only upon the offending vehicle (which will be identified for ease of targeting). Those who have already been granted fire clearance are allowed to continue to fire at anyone they desire. If this does not solve the problem within a turn or two, arena defenses will annihilate the offending vehicle, and all fire statuses return to what they were prior to the infraction. An offensive action includes weapons fire (vehicular and hand-held) and deliberate ramming or vehicular contact. Weapons discharged by bumper trigger (for defending against or discouraging from ram tactics) are allowed as long as the bumper trigger sets them off while involved in an accidental collision, and not a driver, gunner, etc. Vehicular contact is frequent and not unexpected within the Earth and Water Pits, and is fine as long as it is the result of a fishtail, skid, or similar loss of control. Determination of  the flagrancy of an offense can be left up to the audience if so desired.

Mobility Kill or Firepower Kill: 4 points
Own vehicle Mobility-Killed or Firepower-Killed: -8 points
Kill scored while aggressor attempting circuit of ranges: +2 points
Next three kills for vehicle that completes a circuit: x2 award
Long jump over Eternal Flame: +1 point
Short jump over Eternal Flame: +2 points

Bump and Jump. This is a ram-only event which is similar to the last century's demolition derbies, but with a twist. Weapons are allowed, however they must be linked to bumper triggers and are not to be fired by any other means. Bumper triggers may be turned on and off depending on duelist preference. Vehicles start from the middle of the arena like AADA Divisional Duels. After paying homage to the Elements and collecting the checkpoints, drivers have ten turns to ram another driver or jump a ramp. Failure to do so within the time limit disqualifies a driver from competition. Active vehicles trying to stay in contention cannot ram vehicles that have been disqualified or disabled. Well, okay they can, but it does not count toward the "one ram/jump within ten turns rule." The ten-second clock is reset after each ram / jump for each separate vehicle. Drivers face the same penalties as armed vehicles for deliberate ramming or contact that can be construed as an offensive action before receiving clearance from Arena Control. For a ram to count for a vehicle trying to remain in contention, it must be done with the front or back of the vehicle. Rams involving head-to-head, head-to-rear, or rear-to-rear collisions count toward the one ram / jump per ten turns for both vehicles. T-bones are counted toward the vehicle using its front (or rear) end in the collision. T-boning is the favored approach to use, as it interrupts the victim's momentum and makes them spend valuable time trying to regain control. The other poor sap that gets hit in the side better hope he stops spinning before his time is up! Combat continues until there is only one vehicle in operable condition, or one of the last vehicles does not meet the ten-second requirement. This is a survivor event.

Arena Tactics

There are many different ways to look at this arena. Technically this is not an off-road arena. A vehicle does not need off-road suspension to be competitive here. Off-road suspension assists in only a couple spots on this battlefield and ice equipment does about the same. The question in this arena is how do you want to earn your points? Mountain goats will have some ice equipment, as good handling as possible, and a turreted, high-capacity, high- accuracy weapon. Jumpers will most likely have heavy or active suspension, off-road tires to compete with the mud, and heavier top armor than usual to foil the mountain goats. Vultures circling the arena looking to shoot goats off the mountainside or catch a mud freak in mid-leap will look more like standard dueling cars with heavy weapons and heavy armor to defend against other vultures. Sand rails, properly equipped, tend to do well in this arena if they can keep going fast enough to keep everyone from shooting through their notoriously thin armor. One hit though and they are generally recycled for use as strainers.

Experiment; see what you feel comfortable with, what suits your dueling style. This is a points-style arena, but the quickest way to score points is to eliminate your opponents quickly, so the arena quickly develops a survivor type flavor. The thing to keep in mind when designing a vehicle is that no matter what the "specialty" or favored tactic, it must be able to cope with the Elements before any scoring can begin.  Fire-fighting equipment like foam grenades, foam dischargers, FEs (personal and vehicular), metal armor, and the like are a good idea in the lower divisions where FP armor is an expensive option. Unlike many other arenas, prestige tends to diminish as the Divisional level increases.  The more money you have to spend, the more bells, whistles and doo-dads a duelist can outfit his vehicle with in order to ease the obstacles of this arena. The media and fans are more impressed by drivers who do not have all the extras, and are battling the elements and each other on more even terms. There is no Amateur Night at this arena due to the difficulty, however Division 5 and Division 10 vehicles will receive additional prestige simply for participating in an arena combat here, no matter how they actually place.