Sunday, July 31, 2016

Chases in James Bond 007

Art by Dan Spiegle

The James Bond 007 rules treat chases in an abstract manner:  “...these rules are played out without worrying about environments and terrains (such as city streets, countryside, mountains and the like) to complicate play.”  The GM is exhorted:
Since all the action in a chase will take place solely in the players' imaginations, you must be prepared at all times to have detailed descriptions of what is taking place.  If there is something the player wishes to try that is not specifically can use the James Bond movies as guidelines for resolving the action.
Chases require characters to use one or more skills:
Boating – “under or on top of water in a vehicle”
Diving – “underwater without a vehicle”
Driving – “driving any land vehicle”
Evasion – “on foot”
Piloting – “in the air”
Riding – “using a horse or other animal”
It is possible that different participants in the same chase will use different skills:  “For example, in the famous helicopter chase sequence in From Russia With Love, Bond uses his Evasion skill since he is on foot, while the helicopter pilot uses Piloting.”

The relative distance between participants in a chase can be indicated in terms of the following ranges:  Close, Medium, Long, Distant, and various degrees of Extreme.  At the beginning of a chase, the GM determines the range – perhaps randomly.  (Chases cannot begin with an Extreme range between participants.)

Like combat, chases transpire in a sequence of Action Rounds.  Each Action Round has eight steps which are resolved in order.  In the first step, the range between the participants is determined.  As stated above, the GM determines the range in the initial Action Round.  In subsequent rounds, maneuvers from the prior round will affect the distance.

In the second step, beginning with the players, each side in the chase “bids” for the opportunity to choose when to act.  Much like Name That Tune, “Bidding starts at Ease Factor 7, and the bid moves down.”  Bidding alternates among the participants.  The final bid values represent the Ease Factor with which the bidder will attempt the maneuver roll.  The GM bids for NPCs as a group; they perform the same maneuver, but the GM rolls for each NPC individually.  In the third step, the winner of the bidding contest “declares which side goes first.”

The rules describe five maneuvers:  Pursue/Flee, Force, Quick Turn, Double Back, and TrickPursue/Flee can be used to decrease/increase the distance between participants; the change in range is inverse to the Quality Rating of the result (e.g., a Quality Rating of 1 indicates 4 range steps and a Quality Rating of 4 represents 1 range step).  Pursue/Flee cannot be performed when “a character's maximum speed is less than his rival's cruising speed.”  When participants are in Close range with regard to one another, a Force maneuver may be attempted.  When a Force is successful, “the side being forced makes a Safety roll to avoid a mishap...”  (When characters are on foot, a successful Force attempt means the characters “are now engaged in Hand-to-Hand Combat.”  When a character being chased is at Long or Extreme range, he or she may attempt a Quick Turn.  If the successful, the pursuer attempts a Perception roll.  Failure means the chase is over; success means “the pursuer has anticipated the maneuver, and the range is now Close.”  When a character being chased is at Close or Medium range, he or she may attempt to Double Back.  If successful, pursuers may immediately attempt a Force or may Double Back themselves.  Regardless of the maneuver, if the pursuers fail, the distance becomes Extreme.  Trick is a catch-all maneuver including “virtually everything else a character might attempt during a chase – jumping a wide ditch, tilting the car onto two wheels, skiing at top speed through a dense thicket, grabbing someone else's parachute off him in mid-fall, etc.”  Also, “Another way to use the Trick maneuver is to interpose obstacles which the characters must overcome to continue the chase.”  Situations such as “rain” and “night” can modify Ease Factors for chase-related rolls.

Each maneuver has a “Safety Ease Factor.”  If a character fails a maneuver attempt, then he or she must roll against the appropriate Safety Ease Factor to avoid a mishap.  In the event of a mishap, the vehicle suffers damage – as do any characters therein.  The amount of damage is found on the Mishap Damage Chart, which indexes the failed maneuver against the Ease Factor that the character bid.  Thus, when bidding, the value of the opportunity to act first must be weighed against the possibility of failing one's maneuver and – if failed – the amount of damage caused by a mishap.

We are told that if the GM has not determined chase-related Primary Chances for NPCs at the onset of a chase, the applicable Primary Chance can be determined by rolling 3D6 (adding 5 if the player characters are of “Agent” rank or adding 10 if they are of “00” rank).

Anyway, in the fourth step in a chase Action Round, “the side going first declares which maneuver will be attempted.”  In the fifth step, that “maneuver is resolved” and if “...successful, the results are applied immediately...”  In the sixth step, “The first side any weapons it has.”  In the seventh step, “The side going second” announces the maneuver it wants to attempt and said maneuver is resolved.  Finally, in the eighth step, “The second side its weapons.”  Chase Action Rounds proceed one after another – “The GM will decide when the chase is completed.”

Naturally, James Bond 007 describes a variety of vehicles in game terms.  Vehicles have their own attributes.  Some of these attributes include Cruising Speed, Maximum Speed, Range, and Cost.  There are other attributes.  Performance Modifier is the number “applied to the Ease Factor when attempting maneuvers and...the Safety Check.”  Values range from 0 to +2.  Redline represents “the lowest Ease Factor that may be bid by the operator without incurring an automatic mishap roll; if the operator bids lower than the Redline, he must automatically make a mishap roll at the end of the Action Round in addition to any other mishap roll.”  Values range from 2 to 6.  Force Rating refers to “the vehicle's overall mass.”  A vehicle adds its Force Rating to the Ease Factor of Force maneuvers it attempts, but subtracts its Force Rating from attempts to Force it.

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