Backfire

Converted to HTML by Lonnie Foster


I would like to comment on Paul May's letter in ADQ 3/3. I see no reason why his designs for hovercraft and tracked vehicles should not be published, if they are good enough. Variety is the spice of life. Also, I think you have already gotten into "off-beat conveyances" when you published the designs for trikes. Three-wheelers are not exactly common. You also mentioned in your answer that you did not think you would be getting into boats, while, in "The Driver's Seat" of the same issue, plans for a "Boat Wars" supplement are mentioned. If this supplement comes together, hovercraft would be needed as a means of amphibious transportation.

Finally, Paul May mentions that fusion motors would be a good idea for Car Wars, and that a researcher claims he will have a working fusion motor in a car in eight years. This is ridiculous. Scientists have yet to achieve a controlled fusion reaction which puts out more energy than it requires. These tests occur in reactors which are the size of small buildings, not car motors. If such a motor were ever put in a car, the slightest damage could damage the reactor enough to cause an explosion that has the power of a hydrogen bomb, because it would be a hydrogen bomb. And you thought internal-combustion engines were explosive! From now on, let's try to keep Car Wars at least nearly technically feasible. Please?
- Scott Drellishak, San Marino, CA

Three-wheelers are off-beat, I admit it. But they use the same power plant-to-tires drive system as cars and motorcycles, so movement rules are simple to derive. Not so with hovercraft. Boat Wars, by the way, has been shelved as a separate release, but there is much lobbying in the office to run it here in ADQ. But I disagree that hovercraft would be "needed" in an amphibious combat game; mankind's sailed the seas for millenia without them, so we could probably survive without them a little longer.
- SDH

I have a helpful hint for GMs that you might be able to stick somewhere in "Backfire."

Instead of using tape to hold down maps, movement charts, etc., use the sticky gum stuff that is used to hang up posters and things. You can buy it almost anywhere. I also put it on the botto of vehicle markers. It makes the "deadly sneeze" not so deadly. And the best thing about it is that when you take it off you don't take half the paper with it.

Also, I'd like to say I would not like to see any boats, planes, hot-air balloons, space shuttles, shopping carts, lunar landers, surfboards, trolley cars, windsurfers, rocket carts, windboards, windbuggies, unicycles, or skateboards into the game. Well, maybe skateboards (but only if they are armored properly). Your game is excellent as it is. More vehicles would just make it complicated.
- Matt Hurtgen, Miami, FL

Being an Anarchist myself - a real one, thanks - I take exception to your article in "Newswatch" (ADQ 4/1). Except for the entry under 2016, not a word you printed about me and mine is true. Wassamatter, did you think there were none of us around to complain?

For one thing, the last time Anarchists seriously tried any form of terrorism was in the big labor wars of the 1880s. We gave it up for the best of reasons; it didn't work. Organizing and teaching independence work one helluva lot better.

In point of fact, most Anarchists were also pacifists until at least 2025, when "pacifist" became synonymous with "corpse."

For another thing, Anarchists actually winning enough elections to start abolishing offices is the biggest gain we've made in over 100 years. None of us were "frustrated" at that, thank you! We've always known that before we can get to the national level, we first have to sweep the local and state offices. We were doing very well at that, well enough that the state and federal governments grew seriously alarmed and took steps to stop us. It's plain that you don't know what those steps were.

First the federal government tried counter-propaganda and heavy backing of non-Anarchist candidates, with the usual dirty tricks. That didn't work, since most people have enough sense to distrust politicians. Next, it tried harassing and arresting our candidates. That didn't work, either, since we're all pretty good shots and had been expecting this kind of thing for some time. Then they tried infiltration and provocation - at which they were halfway successful.

The Anarchist Relief Front wasn't invented by us. It was the creation of federal agents who got into the Anarchy Party's national convention of 2021. We all recognized what they were and what they were up to when they tried to form the ARF there. The reason you don't hear anything about the ARF until 2027 is that the rest of us chased those SOBs out of the convention hall, held a lot of stand-up duels right there, and more duels further down the road. I don't think any of the original agents survived the convention by more than a week.

Not to be outdone, the federal government collected more agents and founded the ARF anyway. They spent the next few years recruiting and training members - from the army, the federal spy agencies, and a couple of outlaw biker gangs who didn't care crap about politics but liked the fun, drugs, and money. This bunch proceeded to attack civilians, particularly in heavy Anarchist-voting areas - never government targets. That's the real giveaway. Their original purpose was to discredit the Anarchist movement and scare voters away from the Anarchy Party.

After a while, the ARF evolved a third purpose: To get Senator Wesley elected president.

Look at the facts. Who was the defeated candidate in the first election that an Anarchist won? Who was the chief backer of the first Senate bill to curtail the Anarchy Party? Who has campaigned for his Senate seat every year on the platform of "getting rid of the Anarchist menace?" Who was on the Senate Internal Security Committee when the infiltration started and the ARF was formed? Check it out. He's trying to climb into the White House on us . . .

Now anybody can say he's an Anarchist - it's an easy word to pronounce - but people who really believe in the idea try to live by it. If you believe that man-made laws and governments bite the big, hairy banana, then you give up all the protections thereof. That means that your life is in your own hands, your reputation means a helluva lot to you, and you never expect other people to do your fighting for you.

This means that stupid Anarchists don't live long.

So, do you really think we'd be stupid enough to terrorize our own voters? Discourage our own supporters? Close off the roads that we ourselves made? Come off it!

The truth is that we've been hunting down the ARFs for the past several years. We've founded the self-protective militias of the towns we live in and have voters in. That's why we still have voters, and supporters, and still get elected to local offices - and abolish the same - every year. That's why so many towns still "Drop out of sight," slip off the government records, get reputations as ghost towns or gang hideouts - every year. That's where a lot of the runaways from the cities are. The newspapers and politicians can lie all they want to, but the citizens we deal with know the score.

In evidence, I enclose the following account, from a neutral observer, of what really happened on the Midwest Passage. Bon appetit!
- Leslie Fish, Berkeley, CA

Leslie's very interesting account of the events of Senator Wesley's trek to St. Paul is much too long to include here, but we hope to publish it in its entirety in a later issue.
- SDH

In response to John Walker's letter in ADQ 4/2, I must agree with him. He is absolutely correct in pointing out that attempts to support or deny the viability of Car Wars are a waste of time, and have nothing to do with the game system. Trying to perform reality checks on Car Wars is a useless gesture, since the entire system, future history, and future additions are purest fantasy.

CAR WARS IS FANTASY. Reality stops once you get past the scale of 1" = 15' and 10 mph velocity = 1". Can you take a three-ton car and pull it 180 degrees at 30 mph without rolling it? Or a 3 1/2 ton pickup with off-road suspension, for that matter! In Car Wars you can. And that's one of the simple examples of the system's unreality/fantasy. But the fact that it's fantasy makes no difference: Car Wars is still a lot of fun, it's playable, and makes sense within itself - the marks of a good game system.

Therefore be it resolved that Car Wars is fantasy, principally adjudicated by Scott Haring (and adjudicated second-hand by game-masters across the country and beyond), and reality is not to be applied as a tool to dispute the sytem, since reality only applies when the adjudicator(s) wants to. And it saves time and argument that way. So, if you want teeth-gritting, slow-moving (but very accurate) realism, play Air War. Otherwise, stick with smooth-running, playable Car Wars, and save reality for the Six O'Clock News.
- Craig Sheeley, Springfield, MO

Bill Jeg does raise a few good questions, but the bottom line is this: The year is 2036, and it would have been better if he had just killed that driver and gone on. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there and there is no such thing as Robin Hood and his merry men (it's more like Butch Legbreaker and his merry cutthroats!). He and his gang better get used to killing or be killed themselves.
- Timothy D. Jacques, Bellevue, NE

I am very upset by your failure to answer Bill Jeg's letter in ADQ 4/2. Suggesting an attitude that might help with the "to kill or not to kill" problem will not solve it.

You see, I also run a small cycle gang and often run into the same problem when we destroy a small vehicle's back armor before it can return fire, and the driver surrenders. If he got out and fired hand weapons at us, we could kill him easily enough, but I can't bring myself to order a half-dozen well-armed men to shoot an unarmed man in cold blood.

If anyone has a workable solution to the problem, send it in.

In closing, I would like to commend the staff at ADQ for an excellent magazine.
- David Sherohman, Chaska, MN

Gee, I didn't know this crisis of conscience was so widespread among the outlaws of North America. My rather flip answer last issue has a real solution hidden within it: if killing bothers you, don't get into the crime business. Anyone with a more creative solution than that is encouraged to share it with the rest of us.
- SDH

In "The Driver's Seat," you are always talking about how many submissions you are getting. I get the impression that several people are sending in (mostly) carefully thought out and well-designed devices and vehicles. And from what you have printed of reader submissions, some of them seem to be very nice.

Yet, looking through ADQ, you have so many of your designs. Many of them are just your average vehicle, but with some item that is new to this issue. And I know that we'll all make mistakes, but the Shocker (ADQ 4/1) just goes to show how careless you can be occasionally. Please, try to publish some more of the reader submissions in departments other than fiction and "ADQ&A." Don't get me wrong - some of your designs are very nice. It's just that I would like to see some more of the reader's designs in the next issue.
- Josh "Pan Am" Goldfoot, Madison, WI

I don't know if "careless" is the right word, Josh. I prefer "dunderheaded" or "brain dead." You're right - I do a lot of the car designs myself, because one of the ideas of the car ads (and you spoiled this one, too) is to illustrate how brand-new gadgets would fit into a vehicle design efficiently. I've been saving the outside vehicle submissions I've been getting for The AADA Vehicle Guide II (which I've already got too many of, as it is). But you make a good point. In upcoming issues, watch for more designs from our readers and fewer from me.
- SDH

One aspect of autoduelling that many of its fans seem to be woefully ignorant of is the nature of modern, ablative armor. Most have the misconception that armor is just hunks of high-density plastic. The armor, as it comes from suppliers, is a very thin, pliable sheet of plastic. When it is to be applied, the side of the vehicle is sprayed with a transparent primer, and the plastic sheet is spread over the area and cut to fit. Then electrodes are attached around the perimeter and a DC current passed through the armor which "sets" it. When the armor is set, there is a great deal of tension in it. This provides the armor with a great deal of strength. If, however, the surface of the armor is broken, the entire sheet disentegrates into powder. Fireproof armor merely uses a non-flammable (but considerably more expensive) type of plastic. Laser-reflective armor uses a primer containing very fine metal particles.
- Rob Robotham, Ottawa, Ontario

Table of contents for ADQ 4/3