Welcome back to the post-apocalypse! It’s like the end of the world, all over again. But this time we have fast cars, desperados and speed baby, lots of speed.
While most post-apocalyptic RPGs focus on a survival genre of play, scrounging for ancient artifacts and possibly rebuilding society, Redline from Fantasy Flight Games’ extinct Horizon series focuses on the classic post apocalyptic fast-cars and road-warriors movies like the Road Warrior, the New Barbarians, Survival Zone, Wheels of Fire and books like Damnation Alley. But really, all you need to see is the Road Warrior from that list. Most of the others (except Damnation Alley) are cheap knock-offs.
The Horizon series from FFG was a set of one-book d20-based RPGs in a nice, compact 64-page package. They weren’t technically full games, as they required the PHB to make characters and for most of the main rules, but each one changed the settings and rules enough that they were an awesome addition to any collection.
So, if I was going to throw down a character for a Mad Max style game, who would I want to make? The lone gunman / driver concept has been done to death because it is the theme of just about every western novel and movie and thus for most post-apocalyptic movies. And the other good guys seem to exist purely for saving. So lets look on the other side of the fence and make one of those goons who runs around in a combination of sporting gear, police uniforms and bondage hardware.
One of the bad guys.
First step is to pick a background – basically a race in any other d20 game. The options are Bornagain, Bygone, Drifter, Feral, Reject and Savant. While the Bornagain and Bygone appeal (religious nut and old-timer nut) the Drifter is probably the classic choice for such a goon, and it gives him a Constitution boost as well as some gun skills. (Drifter: +2 Con, +2 Scrounge & Survival checks, Knowledge (lay of the land) and Knowledge (folks) as class skills, Advanced Firearm Proficiency Feat, Longwalker Feat).
In homage to the first Mad Max movie, I’ll call him “the ToeCutter”.
For class, the Marauder gets my attention first, but it is really hand-to-hand oriented, and I like the idea of either being a driver or a leader of men, or something other than a brawler. The other classes are Redliner, Rigger, Trader and Walker. At higher levels, the walker gets nice shooting bonuses AND sneak attack. That appeals a lot. But I’m going to go with Redliner, because that starts him off with a car. And wheels are badass.
Redliners have d8 for hit dice (so I start with 8+Con bonus hit points), 4 skill points per level, and a pretty skimpy skill list. As a level 1 redliner ToeCutter gets his choice of Born to the Turret or Combat Driving feats. Since I don’t seem to have anyone else around to drive the car while I shoot, I’m grabbing Combat Driving. I also learn Simple Archaic Weapon Proficiency, Simple Firearms Proficiency, and All Vehicle Weapons Proficiency, as well as Proficiency in Light and Medium armor.
At this point, I should stop and generate his ability scores. I’ll run with the standard array of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8. Dexterity is the key ability of the Redliner, and Constitution is a key ability for anyone to survive (but I get a Con bonus). I think I’ll put Charisma high up there too, so he can become a leader among wastelanders. Int goes average, and Strength ends up being his dump stat. Good thing he’s good with a gun and can hide inside his car.
ToeCutter gets 16 skill points to spend – with the class skill list of Build/Repair (simple), Clamber, Concentration, Drive, Heal, Intimidate, Listen, Scrounge and Spot. One thing I notice when hunting through the skills chapter is that the number of skills in the game is a LOT lower than in the standard d20 games – so this small class skills list isn’t actually as small as I thought. I’ll throw max ranks into Drive, Scrounge, Spot and Intimidate. But that leaves me nothing left to take advantage of his relatively high Charisma. So I dump 2 points out of Intimidate to put 1 point into Chatter. I also drop Scrounge and Spot each by 1 to get 1 point in each of Knowledge (lay of the land) and Knowledge (folks), his bonus class skills from being a Drifter.
As a level 1 character, ToeCutter gets one feat of his choice. Instead of specializing in his driving more, I’m grabbing Point Blank Shot so he is a more deadly shot at close range.
As a redliner, ToeCutter starts with an Interceptor (sweeeeeet), 450 Resource Units of vehicular upgrades & armament, and 30 Resource Units of personal hardware. For personal hardware, 30 RU is not a lot of cash. Light Plastic Armor (a combination in his case of a bit of football padding and some rubber from old tires) sets him back 5 RU and has an armor bonus of +2 (and is really the minimum of style required to look like a road warrior villain – unless he runs around in just bondage gear and assless chaps). He can’t afford any of the advanced firearms he’s proficient in, so a sawed-off shotgun just squeaks into his budget at 22 RU, leaving him with 3 RU for ammo and goods. The gun comes with 10 rounds, but another 10 rounds will cost another 22 RU or so (ouch).
The car… Again named for the original Mad Max movie, this Interceptor is called “Night Rider’s Redemption”. It’s a high-powered v8 interceptor – a real piece of work. But when I get it off the rack, it lacks a few key components to make it work (an engine, control system and fuel system), and has no accessories. I’m immediately going to throw in a sweet control system (top end steering wheel with all-leather cow covering, hot-rod stick shift, and all the goodies) for 50 RU. To go for that road warrior look, I’ll bolt on some extra metal plating on the body and the door from a jail cell on the windshield (+10 HP, 20 RU). Standard Fuel System gives it two gas tanks instead of one, and the ability to switch between them – but the discount minimal fuel system is all I need, a single tank and a prayer for 10 RU. A mounted machine gun sets me back another 250 RU, but puts some real firepower on the Redemption. That leasves me with 120 RU for the engine and other accessories. A decent engine is 250 RU, so a minimal engine is all I can get (it can’t even handle real fuel without burning out – biosoy is all I can take) for 50 RU. Headlights and a clock set me back another 5 RU. An offensive ramming guard (RAMPLATE!) is another 50, so I have 15 RU left. That picks up a basic sound system (I can play CDs!) and basic Air Conditioning.
And we’re ready to hit the bad roads of the post-apocalypse with Dyson ToeCutter and the Night Rider’s Redemption!
Strength: 8 (-1)
Dexterity: 15 (+2)
Constitution: 15 (+2)
Wisdom: 12 (+1)
Charisma: 14 (+2)
Hit Points: 10
Armor Class: 14
Base Attack Bonus: +0
Fort Save: +4
Ref Save: +2
Will Save: +1
Sawed Off Shotgun – +2 to hit, 2d8 dmg, 19-20/x20 crit, 10 ft range
Chatter  +3
Drive  +6
Intimidate  +4
Knowledge (lay of the land)  +1
Knowledge (folks)  +1
Scrounge  +5
Spot  +4
Survival  +3
Class & Background Abilities
+2 Scrounge Checks
+2 Survival Checks
Knowledge (lay of the land) is a class skill
Knowledge (folks) is a class skill
Archaic Weapon Proficiency – Simple
Armor Proficiency – Light
Armor Proficiency – Medium
Combat Driving (+2 on Concentration checks while driving, twice per round can make a Drive check to avoid damage, effectively replacing the vehicle’s AC with the drive check)Firearms Proficiency – Simple
Firearms Proficiency – Advanced
Longwalker (half normal food & water needs. +5′ to speed. +4 on long-term skill checks. +6 on checks vs fatigue)
Point Blank Shot (+1 to hit and damage within 30′ with ranged weapons)
Vehicle Weapons Proficiency – All
Night Rider’s Redemption
Vehicle Type: Interceptor
Size: Large – 10′ x 15′
Top Speed: 24
Passenger Vulnerability: 19-20
Communication System: Minimal (plays CDs and tapes)
Control System: Premium (+4 Drive Checks)
Engine: Minimal (minimal quality fuels only)
Environmental System: Minimal (basic climate control & AC – +2 on Fort saves vs environmental hazards)
Fuel System: Minimal (one gas tank)
Sensors: Minimal (headlights and clock)
Ramming Guard: Offensive (+2d6 damage)
Slamming Guard: None
Armor: 10 HP
Weapons: Machine Gun – 3d6 damage, x3 Crit, 100 ft range