CWIN Vol. 1, No. 5
Arena Watch
Urban Assault Arena
New York City, New York

Written by Michael Drennon

Web Posted July 06, 1998
Updated August 05, 2000

Welcome autoduel fans from far and wide! You've managed to make it this far, braving rampaging busnoughts, maniacal taxi drivers, and lightning fast cycle gangs . . . all that just trying to cross the street from your hotel! If you like in-town dueling, the Urban Assault Arena is for you. Home of the Taxicab Nationals annual competition, and the reigning Taxicab champs in four Divisions, this arena is much more than a converted parking lot with some flimsy barriers and ramps put in to make things interesting.

Originating as a few square blocks demolished in the riots, the local teamsters union walled the area off and began training their new drivers here. Cabbies learned to spot potentially dangerous fares, how to power-slide to the curb just in front of the rival cab in order to grab a promising looking fare, and the art of downtown dueling (taking effective potshots without being caught by the authorities). Truckers and bus drivers learned to maneuver their rigs and fight . . . ahem . . . defend themselves and their cargoes within the restricting confines of a downtown area.

Naturally, as time passed, competitions between drivers began to take place. Some were good-natured while others were downright deadly. As union dues poured in from drivers who hit the roads and remained alive due to their training with the teamsters, improvements and additions were made to the arena. Visiting union representatives were impressed by the training grounds, and were interested in creating competition between individual companies and unions to enhance the abilities of their own drivers.

Eventually the arena was granted AADA status when management opened the arena to standard Divisional duels in addition to the special events held here.

Arena Events

Arena Gates. Technically there are no arena gates. The area is walled off from the surrounding city by several feet of reinforced concrete topped with several rolls of razor wire (consider the outer walls to be indestructible). Vehicles enter via an underground garage where all pit operations are completed. When ready for the arena floor, vehicles drive onto special elevators that will take them to the waiting spotlights and adoring fans. As they are rising, each elevator rotates. This means that once the elevator reaches the floor, the direction the car is actually facing is randomly determined. It is entirely possible for a vehicle to begin the night facing the outer wall or a building, and then the driver will have to spend valuable seconds re-orienting his or her vehicle. Oversized vehicles may enter through special gates (actually moving walls) located in the sunken areas of the arena if their presence is desired in a particular event.

Buildings. Buildings are no longer the inhabitable dwellings they once were. Each side has a bolt-hole for fleeing peds. Each building is two stories (2") high, and contains observation and broadcast equipment for covering the arena events. Nothing escapes the eye of the camera at this arena! The buildings also serve to provide placement for advertisements from the arena sponsors. The most notable of which is the "six pack" of towers in the northeastern corner of the arena. These towers have no boltholes or curbs, but they are usually decorated and painted to appear as two story tall beer cans of the latest sponsor. All buildings have been specially reinforced as to be indestructible (from collisions and rams), so multiple collisions do not destroy buildings (a very costly repair bill for the arena). Two buildings have ramps leading up to them to enable rooftop access for vehicles. Drivers assailing the ramps need to time their jumps perfectly so that they land on the building with enough time to decelerate their vehicle before going back over the edge. Yes, there is room for the sidewalk between the ramp and the building, so vehicles must be traveling at least 10 mph in order to clear the sidewalk below and drive down the ramp when travelling from rooftop to ramp. Curbs and sidewalks (D3 hazard) surround each building. There is room for a cycle to pass between buildings and the adjacent ramps, but not for anything bigger. Cyclists also need to keep in mind the effects of burst-effect weapons in a confined space when attempting this maneuver!  The southeast corner could provide a temporary safe (?) haven for a troubled cyclist. There are four buildings boasting tripod weapon emplacements. The types of weapons installed are up to the referee or duelmaster, but there will always be one full load in the weapon, and two spare magazines of ammo next to the weapon. The weapon will also have a 10-point gunshield as well.  Pedestrians cannot move the weapon to another building or to another location on the roof. The pedestrian can cover the sidewalks immediately adjacent to their position, as well as any other rooftop within range. Any pedestrian using these weapons is subject to return fire from other arena participants as long as the vehicle can trace an arc of fire that high. (Do you have a universal turret?)

Sunken Levels. There are five sunken areas to this arena. Connecting all of them to each other are several tunnels. The pits are 1" below the main arena surface, and are open to above. There are ramps to allow access to and from the main level. If a vehicle drives into the pit without slowing for the ramp (watch your speed here kiddies, these are not rounded off to prevent flight), or leaves the edge where there is not a down ramp, follow the jumping and falling rules to determine how the vehicle makes contact with the floor. If it is travelling fast enough to avoid nosing into the floor, great! But watch out for the walls, as the pits are a tight place to be travelling at speed. The tunnels are tall enough to allow oversized vehicles to pass through.

Ramps. All ramps in the arena are at a 45-degree angle and are indestructible. There is only one recorded instance of an oversized vehicle completing a "Superman." An enraged mini-bus driver was attempting to ram a taxi into component parts and followed the hapless cab driver up and over the building. The cab driver was so surprised that he stopped by the north wall after coming down the ramp to see if the mini-bus would make it. It did and the taxi didn't have the acceleration to get out of the way. Dust one taxi.

A word of caution about the ramps, drivers need to be careful of their speed. Driving too fast has on several occasions led to vehicles exiting the arena over the outer wall, through the razor wire (especially painful if you are on a cycle), and down two stories to the streets below. You know how mean the streets can be; just imagine falling onto someone's car outside the arena . . . You just may wish for unconsciousness before they get through your armor to you! Have a nice duel!

Arena Events

AADA Divisional Dueling. Standard Divisions (5 through 100) are held. All AADA rules and restrictions apply. Events can be run in elimination or checkpoint format. Dropped weapons are allowed, except within 2" of checkpoints, and within 1" of ramp entrances or exits. Standard scoring rules apply for elimination duels. Extra points can be earned for completing a "Superman" (leaping tall buildings in a single bound . . . ) off the ramps in the northwest corner. For the maneuver to count, the vehicle must jump from ramp to ramp without touching the building or crashing into another wall or building after descending ramp. Some prefer the "Touch and Go" maneuver where the vehicle must touch the rooftop before descending the other side. This can be done on either ramp accessible building, but must be one complete move. The driver may not stop to drop off passengers, fire at rooftop snipers, or pause vehicle on rooftop for any reason. (If the driver wishes to try hitting a pedestrian sized target while leaping through the air 30-40 feet from the ground . . . Let him try but the modifiers would be hellish.) Point award is up to the referee or duelmaster.

Clubbing. These events are held at night, in sparse lighting conditions. Inspired by a teamster's wild ride home one night from a NYC nightclub, "clubbing" pits contestants in a race against the clock and a duel against a torqued cycle gang. You and your friends have just finished last call at a nightclub. Being the responsible one, you are the designated driver. Outside the club, one of your friends answers a different call, that of nature, and is seen by the owner of the now decidedly moist motorcycle. You all pile into your vehicle and take off, with several cycles in hot pursuit. You now try to safely deliver your inebriated friends to their homes, and return to yours before caught by the gang.

Vehicles compete in a divisional format, however vehicle must have space for three passengers (or two plus a gunner). Drivers must drive to three points in the arena, and then return to the rooftop in the southwest corner of the arena. These points and the "club" location are predetermined before the competition begins, and are the same for all contestants. The cyclists start from the same point three turns later.  Divisional limits do include the cost of any equipment (hand weapons) that the passengers may want to utilize. Keep in mind that all passengers (or gunner and pass.) are inebriated from a long night out, have -2 to their target numbers, and will probably shoot at anything that moves (including squad cars). When drivers stop at each point (they must be immobile for at least one turn), one passenger must leave the vehicle, and is now out of play. The final winner is the driver who takes the least number of turns to return his or her friends to their home, and to return to their "parking garage." Advanced duelists, or those competing in higher divisions, may face additional hazards from squad cars, trigger happy taxis taking pot shots at them, or a slow moving bus that won't move out of the way (and will most certainly return fire if fired upon).  Police vehicles will attempt to apprehend any vehicle seen going over 30 mph or engaging in direct-fire combat. The police vehicle has an equal chance of going after the cyclists or the clubber's vehicle unless it is fired upon. When fired upon it will then go after the offending party, and call for backup in the form of a modified Garhawk from CWC2 (carries HRs in place of the SAMs) to assist with capture. The helicopter will arrive within five turns from a random direction. Both police vehicles are under the control of the Duelmaster or referee, and the squad will be waiting in an alley (predetermined by Duelmaster or referee, and only revealed once the contestants gain LOS on the squad car, along one of the wider streets, looking for speeders or drunks). Bystanders, future contestants, or the Duelmaster may control the cycles. The cycles must follow the same divisional limitations as the clubber's vehicle, and are limited in number only to that dollar limit.

Racing. New York City is also trying to get a piece of the International Grand Prix style racing action. The Urban Assault Arena runs a special event once or twice a year.  The streets are repaired and swept to allow racing slicks and the low slung racing bodies used in Formula One and Can-Am races. Currently the Taxicab Nationals and AADA Divisional Dueling grab the highest ratings, but every year the race ticket sales are up from the last. Essentially, a road circuit is traced among the twists and turns of the arena, incorporating at least the main floor and the sunken level. Sometimes race officials require a "Superman" section in the course, and things get downright messy. Referees and duelmasters are encouraged to get a little wild planning the course, but there should be a chicane or two, a couple of high speed straightaways, and plenty of twists, turns and hairpins. If you get bored with a layout, change it! See what develops.

Taxi Derby and Taxicab Nationals. The Taxi Derby involves twelve taxis racing through the arena, picking up various fares, and delivering them to random points within the arena.  While doing this, they are dodging trigger happy rooftop snipers, rival taxis, and the occasional mugger masquerading as a legit fare.  The pedestrian positions on the rooftops are manned, and the type of tripod weapon will vary according to Divisional level.  No one said driving a cab in New York was easy!

The contestants will begin at one of the twelve arena elevators, where they will pick up their first passenger.  From that point, the passenger will instruct the driver where to go . . . one of the other arena elevators.  This can be predetermined by the duelmaster / referee, or randomly chosen by die roll.  (C'mon, I know you have some old AD&D dice somewhere…D12!).  Alternatively, have the contestants draw starting assignments from numbered pieces of paper in a hat or similar container.  It will probably be a good idea to let the contestants know secretly (show them a number on small piece of paper) to discourage unscrupulous play.  The contestant will then endeavor to deliver his fare to the address given.  Once the cab arrives and stops, the fare will exit vehicle (one turn).  The driver can then head for the next nearest elevator where a new fare will be waiting. In order to score points for delivering the passenger:

1. must be alive.

2. must be delivered to the correct address/elevator.  Cab must come to complete stop for one turn with some portion of the vehicle covering the marked elevator area.

3. muggers, psychos, and bombers will earn some credit if returned to "police station" predetermined before play and clearly identified.  Point award for delivery will be double the standard credit if they are still alive. (These individuals are arena employees! Well, usually.)

Dead passengers are worth no points, but must be dropped off at the police station as well; or else no more passengers will enter the cab.  Wounded / unconscious passengers are worth 1/2 of standard score.  If a cab is immobilized, that passenger will leave the cab (no points earned), and look for the closest cab (usually the one who immobilized the first cab!).  This passenger will go to where ever the other person is going, presumably just to get off the street and into something safer like a bus!  Yes, this means double points for successful delivery of those passengers.  This is also the only way a cab could get more than one fare at a time.

Point Awards and Penalties

+4 for each successful / non injured delivery
+4 for each rival vehicle incapacitated (mobility kill)
-4 if fare killed (issued to both drivers involved)
 -2 for killing bomber / mugger / psycho
+8 for delivery of live but not necessarily conscious bomber / mugger / psycho

Muggers, Psychos, Bombers and Other Daily Hazards. Whenever the player accepts a new fare, roll 1d6.  If the result is a "one," roll again and consult the following. A 1 or 2 means a mugger has entered the vehicle, usually with some sort of anti vehicular weapon, and is demanding money. A 3, 4, or 5 will indicate someone who is deeply disturbed, but essentially harmless (?). Rolling a 6 means a bomber has entered the cab. Each hazard will be explained below. When making this check, I find it amusing to roll several times after the initial check, even if it is a normal fare . . . okay, so maybe I played too many games of Paranoia, but it will keep the players guessing! When a driver has one of the following fares in his cab, no "normal" fare will enter his cab, even if he somehow manages to disable a rival taxi. (Sorry, no 12-point runs for anyone here.)

Muggers. If the player ends up with a mugger in his cab, he or she has one turn to activate any countermeasures installed. After that, the mugger will open fire, pull pin on grenade, etc. Weapon choice is left up to Duelmaster or referee, but explosives are generally a bad idea (large explosion in small, confined and armored spot equals chunky salsa for all involved). There is not a great return on blowing yourself up. SMGs and assault rifles are nice for concealment and they do some vehicular damage. Not that I personally would wish to fire 9mm slugs or 7.62 NATO rounds into armor glass six inches from me, but I guess I'm not that desperate either.  Play then continues with the poor contestant otherwise engaged until his back seat threat is neutralized. Unfortunate, but it has to be said: no other passengers will enter a cab with a mugging in progress. Possible penalties to handling and targeting for the unfortunate driver may be in order. If the threat is neutralized, the penalties cease. Also, the player gets to keep the hand weapon if so desired (comes in handy after you get your turret blown off by a lucky shot from two blocks away!).

Psychos. Don't you just hate it when . . . It happens to the best of us. Approximately one to two turns after pickup the passenger goes bananas and  begins to get under the skin of the unfortunate driver. The only real game result is that the player has a -2 to HC and targeting while they have this person in their cab. Alternatively, you could have a bystander or onlooker come over and sit on the players lap, take his vehicle record sheet and look at it (where the player cannot see the sheet of course), or something else equally annoying, but essentially harmless . . . This is supposed to be fun, not nasty. Penalties are negated when psycho is dropped off at police station (it is assumed that there are some officers present when the player's cab arrives to assist the fare out of the vehicle). If the player has any onboard measures that will incapacitate the hapless fare (without killing them), the handling and targeting penalties can be avoided. Ganging up and eliminating these preoccupied drivers occurs frequently and is expected . . . never let them see you sweat! Who would waste the opportunity of snatching a sure eight points from their opponents? If you want to keep things fair, the duelmaster or referee may want to inform the unfortunate player in a more discrete fashion. Let the others keep guessing!

Bombers. These guys are really nasty. They act just like a regular fare, until they leave the cab. When they leave, there could be one, two, possibly three limpet mines attached to the armor glass in the cab. The bomber will detonate them after three turns. Motivations? Elimination of rival cabs, car thieves looking for an easy (but messy) score, or even just some one very disturbed and dangerous. If a bomber can be captured (pursued and incapacitated . . . use your imagination), then the player can earn the double point award for delivery to police.

Other Daily Hazards. As if there is not enough to deal with, four points in the arena have tripod weapon emplacements complete with 10-point gunshields. These weapons are free for anyone who reaches them to use (even bombers!). At this arena, just because your vehicle has had it does not mean your night is over.  If you are lucky enough to get trashed near one of the four buildings supporting these weapons, and you are fleet of foot to dance between the slugs to the bolthole, you can climb up there and start dishing out double spoonfuls of payback! There are two extra magazines besides the one loaded next to each tripod weapon.

Taxicab Design Specifications

In addition to the usual AADA guidelines (aside from that whole no passenger thing), there are some unique specifications vehicles must have in order to compete in the Taxicab Derby. Space and weight for at least two passengers are required. Also, some form of non-lethal anti-personnel device to protect the cabby would be advisable. Non-lethal because the baddies in this arena are employees. Keep in mind that a derringer, although technically lethal, will generally render an unarmored pedestrian unconscious at a minimum of cost, weight, and space in the dueling vehicle. Use your imagination while designing these vehicles. These do not have to be specialty vehicles, as many of the taxicabs participating are street legal (in NYC anyway).

Sample Vehicles

Masher Arena Taxi. As the reigning Division 20 champs, Checkered™ cabs is proud to display their fully-street legal ram cab. Originally designed to cut down on collateral damage costs caused by caffeine laced and trigger-happy drivers, the Masher Arena Taxi provides safe and reliable transportation across town. If an airport run is needed, an armed escort can be radioed to rendezvous with the ram cab on the way, at a fraction of the cost of other company's upgrades… without the hassle of changing cabs!

The ram cab and the escort accompany you to the airport gate. The arena version mounts dischargers and several "Don't Touch!" ™ bumper triggers. This additional weight means there is none left for cargo (but who needs it . . . this is for the arena . . . usually!). The civilian version has two different power sources. The arena version and the souped-up street version have a VP turbocharger strapped under the hood, while the standard version runs tubular headers instead of the turbo.

Why expensive gasoline? Checkered™ cabs prides itself on the safe and expedient delivery of their clients. When you need to reach 60 mph in under a block to catch the ferry, or push through (literally) rush hour traffic, nothing compares to the torque delivered by an ICE. That torque coupled with a metal ramplate ensures you will get to where you are going . . . no matter what is in your way!

Masher Arena Taxi -- Mid-size, x-hvy chassis, hvy suspension, 150 ci ICE (with VP turbocharger, 4-gallon dueling fuel tank and overdrive), 4 solid tires, driver in safety seat, two passengers, SS (with tear gas; can also feed into passenger compartment) back, 3 IcDs (1R, 1L, 1B), 2 ODs (1R, 1L), SnD front, 2 CnDs top,  2 links (right IcD and right OD, left IcD and left OD), 4 bumper triggers (front and SND; right, right IcD and right OD, left, left IcD and left OD, back and back IcD), roll cage, personal equipment (see below). Sloped metal/plastic armor: F7/30 (ramplate), L5/26 (bumper spikes), R5/26, B5/25, T0/20, U0/15 (22 points / 142 points), two 10-pt. plastic AWHs front, 10-pts. plastic WGs back, 10-pts. plastic CA protecting ICE and fuel tank together, 10-pts. plastic CA around driver. Acceleration 10 (5 with overdrive), Top speed 70 (90 with overdrive), Cruising speed 40 mph, DM 1, HC 3; 5,670 lbs., $19,943.

Masher Arena Taxi Personal Equipment -- SMG with folding stock, 2 foam grenades, 2 explosive grenades, body armor.

Galleria Taxi 2048. Galleria, the name in taxi manufacture for years, now unveils its latest edition of fine automobiles. Developed exclusively for the Taxicab Nationals here in NYC, the Galleria Taxi 2048 is sure to take the Division 15 dueling class by storm. A turreted rocket launcher combined with a low cost single weapon computer gives you the accuracy of the old recoilless rifle, but saves you valuable weight that has been put to use reinforcing the safety barrier between driver and passenger, and providing much needed wheel protection that was seriously lacking in earlier models. The flexible weapons package also allows for some surprises out on the street or in the arena due to the large number of rocket options available, as well as the ability to personalize the discharger package to your particular needs (model shown here has the anti-ram / anti-personnel option package).

Galleria Taxi 2048 -- Mid-size, x-hvy chassis, hvy suspension, super power plant, 4 PR tires, driver, two passengers, RL in 2-space, SS (with tear gas; can also feed into passenger compartment) back, CnD inside passenger compartment, 2 CnDs top, 2 IcDs (1R, 1L), 2 ODs (1R, 1L), SWC (driver and RL), 2 links (right IcD and right OD, left IcD and left OD, 2 bumper triggers (right, right IcD and right OD, left, left IcD and left OD), HD brakes, personal equipment (see below). Plastic armor: F36, L36, R36, B36, T33, U20 (193 points), 5-pt. frame armor safety shield between driver and passenger compartment, four 10-pt. plastic AWHs, two 10-pt. plastic WGs back. Acceleration 10, Top speed 110, Cruise speed 65, DM 1, HC 3; 5,753 lbs., $14,958.

Galleria Taxi 2048 Personal Equipment -- Rifle (with HP ammo), 4 foam grenades, flak jacket.