A Car Wars Variant

by Craig Sheeley and Scott Haring

HTML conversion by Tim C. and Odette Morrison, June 1997

Gold Cross is an insurance agency (hence the play on the old medical insurance agency, Blue Cross). You are betting Gold Cross that you'll be killed in the future if you subscribe to their policy, and you pay them to prepare for that. And you pay quite a lot: $44,000 for the first year, plus the need to reprogram the clone every month. Or $25,000 to store your old memories and wait until your estate wants to pay for a clone body. Or, if you're the last-minute type, $25,000 to have your memories recorded from your dying body and another $10,000 to have a clone grown to receive them. Gold Cross costs as much as a good car every year (at least!).

 And the new clone doesn't spring magically into full competence, either. Athletes have long been famliar with the concept of "muscle memory" -- where through intense training and practice, the body executes a move perfectly without thought, whether it's a gymnastic flip, a golf swing, or a snap turret shot. Muscle memory does not transfer over to a new clone. A baby-soft, out-of-the-vat clone takes some time to; the muscles are not toned up, there are no callouses on the hands and feet, and even sunburn is a problem. Even though the perfectly-transferred mind knows what it wants to do, it usually takes a good deal of intensive work to get the new body into fighting trim.

To simulate this, try the following rule variant. A newly-cloned character suffers these penalties: -2 to the reflex roll made at the beginning of combat; -1 to Gunner and Handgunner skill (except when that skill is at base level, in which case there is no penalty); -2 to Martial Arts skill (if this drops the skill below base level, then the skill is temporarily lost); -2 to Stealth skill (Stealth is described in ADQ 4/2; like Martial Arts, if this penalty drops the skill below base level, then the skill is temporarily lost); and running speed is reduced to the base speed on 12.5 mph.

All these penalties are temporary, except the reduction in Running skill -- it is permannent. If a character decides to simply resume his or her normal life, climb right back into the car and go back out on the road, the penalties will go away in three months. Any skill bonuses earned in those three months take effect normally. Example: Sue, a Gunner +1, comes out second-best in a road duel and Gold Cross activiates her clone. The clone will per form at the base level Gunner skill (because of the -1 penalty) for three months. Two months after coming back, though, Sue has racked up enough kills for a +1 Gunner bonus. That bonus takes effect immediately. Then, in another month, the "new clone" penalty is also lifted, and Sue becomes a Gunner +2.

If you don't feel like running around with an inferior clone, and can afford the time away from the well-paying arena battles and road combats, a character can work off these penalties in a gym or other training facility. This kind of intense workout, which includes physical fitness as well as gunnery and driving practice, casts about $2,500 (in addition to your regular living expenses), but only takes one month to complete. At the end of the month, all penalties (except the drop in Running skill) are lifted. This training cannot be interrupted for more than a day or two, or you'll have to start over. Suitable facilities are readily available just about everywhere.

The Alternative

For those who can't afford cloning, or just don't like it, there is an alternative: the old-fashioned hospital. Generally, if you can be gotten to the proper facilities in time, you can be pieced back together. And all but the most severe injuries are capable of being overcome, with cloned organ and limb transplants. While the process may take longer than cloning, it is usually much cheaper.

Unless you are hit in a) the heart, b) the spine below the head, or c) the brain, proper medical attention can preserve your life until you can be transferred to major medical care. When wounded below 0 DP, roll two dice; a roll of 5 or more means that you are still alive, but fading fast. (Of course, at -10 DP or worse, there's not enough of you left to work with.) If a paramedic can get to you in 20 seconds, an attempt can be made to keep you alive.

The paramedic's roll to keep you alive is 8 or more on two dice, modified as follows: -1 per negative DP. +1 per level of Paramedic skill, and bonuses for equipment (described below). If the roll fails, the injured character dies. If the roll is made, the life-saving process continues.

The injured character must be gotten to a major medical facility within one hour of the fatal injury. At 15 minutes and 30 minutes, the Paramedic must roll to continue sustaining the injured character's life (once the injured character reaches the medical facility, these rolls are no longer necessary.) These rolls are the same as the initial life-saving roll. The roll must be made again at the 45 minute mark if the patient is not yet to the hospital, but the modifier for negative DP is doubled to -2 (the patient is fading fast . . . ). Note that this doubled DP penalty means that the most severely injured characters (-6 DP or worse) will not live past the 45-minute mark. If the hour is up without the injured character getting to a hospital, then the character dies.

Once at the hospital, one more roll is made to determine the fate of the injured character. Two dice must be rolled with me total exceeding the number of negative DP for the injured character to recover fully. A roll equaling the number of negative DP indicates that the character is crippled in some way. A failed roll kills the character. A roll of 2 kills the character, regardless of negative DP.

Once the character gets into the hospital and that one final survival roll is made, the character's life is saved. He still must stay in the hospital to recover. Recovery from injury takes 1 week hospitalization per negative DP, plus one. (Example: If a character was shot down to -8 DP, and somehow survived to the hospital, he would have to stay in the hospital for 9 weeks.) Upon discharge from the hospital, the character has 1 DP. The remaining DP can be recovered at home, at the usual rate (one week per DP) -- but at much less cost. Full recovery leaves the character good as new. If a crippling injury was indicated, the character must be permanently harmed in some way. Possible results can range from the annoying (a limp which reduces running speed, but does not affect combat ability) to the completely debilitating (blindness, or loss of both arms). It is up to the GM to determine the exact nature of the injury and its game effects. Crippling injuries can be cured by cloning operations; the affected limb or organ is cloned, and grafted on to the body. Growing the necessary parts costs $5,000 per limb or organ and takes 6 weeks; the operation itself costs $10,000. After the operation, a month's bed-rest is required while the nerves knit.

Hospitalization generally costs anywhere from $3,000 a week (for basic treatment) to $15,000 a week for high-luxury, private-room treatment. This is quite expensive, but not as expensive as Gold Cross.

Example: Sam the duellist has just been shot down to -4 DP. Gonzo the paramedic (a Paramedic +2) reaches Sam in 15 seconds. First, Sam rolls to see if he was killed instantly. He needs to roll a 5 or better, and the dice come up 6. Sam's lucky . . . so far. Next, Gonzo must roll to keep Sam alive. The base roll is 8, with the following modifiers: 4 for Sam's 4 DP; +2 for Gonzo's Paramedic skill bonus; and +3 for the arena's well-equipped aid station (see below). That comes out to a 7 -- Gonzo rolls a 10, and Sam's still with us.

The arena medical crew bundles Sam in a medichopper (which also has an aid station, and Gonzo comes along for the ride. The trip takes 20 minutes; at the 15-minute mark, Gonzo must make another roll to keep Sam alive. The roll is the same as the first one (a 7, remember?), and Gonzo rolls a 9 -- he's doing a great job!

Sam is rushed into surgery. Time for one last roll -- Sam needs to roll a four (for his 4 DP) or better to make it, without any modifiers. He rolls a five -- narrowly averting a crippling injury. He'll be out on the road again in 5 weeks -- $15,000 poorer, but alive.


First Aid Kit: Adds 1 to Paramedic's life-saving roll. 2 grenade-equivalents, $5000.

Medikit: Adds 2 to Paramedic's life-saving roll. 4 grenade-equivalents, $1,500.

Aid Station: Adds 3 to Paramedic's life-saving roll. 4 spaces (plus 2 per stretcher), 200 lbs; $5,000.

ADQ Vol. 4, No. 4 Index

Car Wars*Steve Jackson Games*ADQ Index