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All Rules in Vehicle Chases

Chase Environments

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 285
Where a chase occurs can dramatically influence how it plays out. Heavy traffic, obstacles, and winding paths could all impede a chase or add strategic options for the vehicles involved. The GM decides the environment’s effects on the chase, and the sample chase environments (see page 286) can give the GM some ideas. The environment might affect the entire chase or only some zones—whatever makes the most sense for the scene.

Designating Environmental Zones

For environmental effects that affect only part of the chase, the GM should designate one or more zones as environmental zones that contain hazards. The GM should reveal an environmental zone once it comes into view of the foremost vehicle in the chase.

Types of Environments

Environments can affect vehicles in a chase in five main ways.
  • Active Hazards: Hazards can directly impede or damage the vehicles in a chase. They might be persistent or temporary. Some hazards make one attack against a vehicle when that vehicle enters the hazard’s zone. The hazard might trigger only once, or it might attack every vehicle that enters the zone. Decide whether a hazard deals damage, knocks a vehicle off course, or both. The hazard’s CR should be close to the item levels of the vehicles involved in the chase, and should use the corresponding attack bonus and damage amount (see the below table). If a hazard knocks vehicles off course, the pilot of any vehicle it hits takes a –4 penalty to Piloting checks (in addition to its normal modifiers) for 1 round. If a hazard both deals damage and knocks the target off course, reduce the attack bonus by 2 and halve the damage.
  • Altered Attacks: Attacks might be more difficult due to bad weather or barriers that block lines of sight. Use the normal rules for concealment, cover, and line of sight when implementing environments that alter attacks. It’s rare for the environment to improve attacks, but if it somehow would, you can reduce the normal penalties for attacking during a chase.
  • Altered Movement: Some environments make it easier, more difficult, or more complicated to move. This might come up in a chase through a space station where some zones lack artificial gravity or on a muddy plain where vehicles could get bogged down. Altered movement usually causes a +2 bonus or –2 penalty to skill checks attempted during pilot actions. The environment can work differently on different vehicle types; a wheeled transport might take a penalty when artificial gravity goes out, while a hover vehicle wouldn’t, for example. Likewise, the effects can change how certain actions work. A massive downhill slope might make it easier to speed up but harder to keep pace, or it could even require a check to slow down.
  • New Tricks: Environments can provide new tricks that pilots can use with the trick action during the pilot actions phase. These could include clipping precarious rocks in a canyon so they fall in your enemies’ paths or diverting oncoming traffic toward your enemies. These tricks usually have a DC of 2 to 4 higher than the normal trick action, but their effects should also be more impressive. In terms of game rules, the effect might be a bigger penalty for enemies’ Piloting checks (–4 to –6), or the trick might create a new active hazard (see Active Hazards on page 285) in the zone directly behind the vehicle.
  • Split Routes: It’s possible for chase participants to take slightly different routes through a zone to gain some other tactical advantage. A split route works much like having two parallel zones in a single zone, one of which has a different environment: usually altered movement (for a shortcut) or an active hazard (for a dangerous zone). The pilot decides which route to pursue when taking his pilot action. Even if two vehicles are in the same zone, they can’t interact with each other if they’re on different parts of a split route. A split route usually lasts for only one zone before converging.

    If vehicles that are engaged pursue different routes, their engagement is automatically broken off. When the route converges again, any vehicles that had been engaged and are still in the same zone automatically become engaged again.

Hazard Attacks and Damage

CRAttack BonusDamage
1/4+32d4
1/3+42d4
1/2+63d4
1+84d4
2+95d4
3+105d4
4+115d6
5+125d8
6+146d8
7+156d10
8+177d10
9+198d10
10+209d10
11+2110d10
12+2311d10
13+2412d10
14+2514d10
15+2615d10
16+2817d10
17+2918d10
18+3020d10
19+3123d10
20+3225d10

Sample Chase Environments

The following sample environments provide some details about those environments’ features as well as the appropriate accompanying modifiers.

GMs should feel free to use these sample environments and their modifiers whole cloth in their games, to create their own unique environments, and to choose environmental features that are most appropriate for the chases they wish to run.

Aquatic Environment

The following are sample features for an aquatic environment.
  • Active Hazards: Megashark attack (when a vehicle first enters its zone, a megashark attacks whichever vehicle is at the rear at the end of the chase progress phase and then moves along with the chase, attacking the rearmost vehicle each round), piranha swarms (attacks a random vehicle after the chase progress phase each round)
  • Altered Attacks: Frightened squid shoal or sudden squall (concealment), underwater debris (cover)
  • Altered Movement: Languid or opposing current (–2 to Piloting), swift current moving with you (+2 to Piloting)
  • New Tricks: Scatter whale pod (altered movement gives pursuers –4 to Piloting), spew mud (create concealment)
  • Split Routes: Coral reef (–2 to Piloting, or –2 to trick attempt), shipwreck (shortcut: +2 to Piloting to keep pace or speed up, or +2 to trick attempt)

Desert Environment

The following are sample features for a desert environment.
  • Active Hazards: Death worm attack (when a vehicle first enters its zone, a death worm attacks whichever vehicle is at the rear at the end of the chase progress phase and then moves along with the chase, attacking the rearmost vehicle each round), falling rocks (attacks the first vehicle that enters the zone)
  • Altered Attacks: Rock spires (cover), sandstorm (total concealment)
  • Altered Movement: Deep sand (–2 to Piloting), mud flat (–2 to Piloting)
  • New Tricks: Kick up dust clouds (create concealment), topple rocks (new active hazard)
  • Split Routes: Giant antlion sand pit (hazard if not avoided), narrow canyon (shortcut: +2 to Piloting to keep pace or speed up, or +2 to trick attempt)

Forest Environment

The following are sample features for a forest environment.
  • Active Hazards: Angry beasts (attack the vehicle at the rear at the end of each chase progress phase for 2 rounds), falling tree (attacks first vehicle to enter zone)
  • Altered Attacks: Obscuring trunks (concealment), ricocheting shots (10% chance a missed ranged attack ricochets and hits a vehicle adjacent to the original target, not including the attacking vehicle)
  • Altered Movement: Dense grove of narrow-trunked trees (–2 to Piloting), thick detritus (–2 to Piloting)
  • New Tricks: Bank your vehicle behind foliage (create concealment), topple brush to block path (altered movement gives pursuers –4 to Piloting)
  • Split Routes: Hidden cave (shortcut: +2 to Piloting to keep pace or speed up, or +2 to trick attempt), ramp off a cliff (+2 to Piloting to speed up, but –2 to Piloting for all other checks)

Highway Environment

The following are sample features for a highway.
  • Active Hazards: Oncoming traffic (attacks each vehicle to enter zone), police barricade (might add police to chase)
  • Altered Attacks: Series of pillars (cover), smoke clouds (concealment)
  • Altered Movement: Damaged road (–1 to Piloting), steep hill (+1 to Piloting going downhill, or –1 to Piloting going uphill)
  • New Tricks: Divert traffic toward enemies (new active hazard), hack traffic signals (altered movement gives pursuers –2 to Piloting)
  • Split Routes: Hypertube (+4 to Piloting to speed up, but –2 to Piloting for all other checks), surface street (–1 to Piloting compared to highway), tunnel (shortcut: +2 to Piloting to keep pace or speed up, or +2 to trick attempt)