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 2.5 statistics.

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 Dueltrack's.

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 Montana).

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 such nonsense).

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.

Design Notes
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:

Roll 2d6
Common Equipment only
One piece of Uncommon Equipmen
One piece of Rare Equipment or Two Uncommon Items
One piece Very Rare Equipment or Two Rare Items

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 supporters.
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 . . . 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!

Enough rambling for now.
-- Dave Miner
daivzhavue AT
May 1998