Car Wars Classic – played with The Landshut Rules

MY 200th POST!

This is slightly modified repost of an article I wrote last year – before I had written down the rules we;ve been using for many, many years in our games – the Landshut Rules.

Before you continue, please do yourself a favor and download the digital edition of Car Wars Classic from the official publisher here:

1981, Steve Jackson published their seminal game, Car Wars. I bought the pocket edition about six years later, and we loved playing it. The one thing that slipped through our fingers was the content presented in chapter 4, simply titled “Characters”.

CW was a conflict simulation game, and the chapter on characters had one focus: to answer the question, ‘what happens when a vehicle is destroyed, but the driver survives?’ When the game was written in the late 1970s, it had never been the intention to write an rpg.

But still, players being players – they turned CW chapter 4 into a full roleplaying game. There were many groups in the 1980s who used the rules for roleplaying.

To quote the Car Wars book, page 48:

When a player wants to try something that isn’t covered by any of the skills in use in that campaign, the GM should fall back on “roll 2 dice and pray ” In other words: Require the player to roll 2 dice. The higher the roll, the better the result.

This is exactly the same method Arneson and the other Twin Cities grognards used.

How does the Car Wars Classic rpg work?

  1. A character has 3 “damage points” – “the first hit wounds, the second knocks unconscious, and the third kills. They can wear body armor, which adds DP”. Body armor adds 3 DP, Improved body armor adds 6.
    Again, this is exactly the way most Twin Cities games handled armor.
  2. Starting characters get 30 points to buy skills; one skill at base level costs 10 points. Using a skill at base level means rolling 2d6 and shooting for at least a 7. Every point beyond base level adds +1 to the roll and costs another 10 points. If a character does not possess a skill, the player rolls 2d6-4 for the skill check.
  3. Skill checks: 2d6+skill =7 or more
  4. Pistols inflict 1 to 2 damage, smgs 1d6 damage, rifles 3 damage, shotguns 2 damage – you get the idea.
  5. Skill contests are opposed 2d6+skill rolls; whoever scores 7+ AND is 5 points higher than their opponent, wins the contest.
  6. Hand-to-hand combat is needlessly complicated and thus not relevant for our purposes.

How would I tweak the system to work with the Landshut Rules?

  1. Three hits, and you’re out. That’s exactly how Landshut works, as well. So, no change there.
  2. Pick 3 skills from the list. Numbers are not important. You either have the skill or you don’t.
  3. That’s it. THAT’S IT!

So, let’s create a Car Wars character.

  1. A name: Greasemonkey Jones
  2. I pick 3 skills: Driver, Mechanic, Luck
  3. I choose 2d6 regular items: 4 – Light Pistol, Battle Vest, Backpack, Mini-Mechanic.
  4. Now, I lose 1d6 of them: 3 – I roll 1d4 to see what I’m losing: Mini-Mechanic, Backpack, Light Pistol are gone. All Greasemonkey Jones starts with is a Battle Vest.
  5. Now, I pick two powers: Look into the Maelstrom of the World for Answers, and the second one: Roll with the punches.
And I’m finished.
Greasemonkey Jones
Skills: Driver, Mechanic, Luck
Gear: Battle Vest
Powers: Look into the Maelstrom of the World for Answers; Roll with the punches.

That’s the Car Wars Classic rpg. Enjoy.

Recommended reading:

Buy it on Drivethru Fiction

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