Chases, escapes, and persuing people

I love chases, anyone who knows me can testify to this. I maintain without any sense of irony that every specialization in the game with ranks of shortcut are good specializations. I want to run better and more exciting chases and I want to adjudicate ways to resolve them better. I come to you seeking wisdom on this topic:

  1. My default method of resolving a chase still falls on "you need to escape beyond extreme (or sensor range), and I want your thoughts on how to handle things like “I hide in the trash cans after running into an alleyway”.
  2. How do I handle bad guys trying to pull the above on my players?
  3. How do you handle attempts to gain the scent again?

Ohhh, chases I feel are always hard to pull off. I found this homebrew rule supplement for Podracing that might help you think through a set of rules you could learn?:

Rules of Podracing (Draft 1.0).pdf - Google Drive

It basically explains thinking through the “track” as you go and setting up individual dice rolls that are inclusive of braking, agility, etc… and manipulating those based on the capability of your vehicle.

Those are more useful for a long term race, but I found that suplement to be clunky.

We use a house rule for chases, which I will tell you about here in case there is anything from it of use to you. Each round of a chase, both parties make three rolls: tactics, running, and resilience.

The first roll is each side’s tactic, what their approach is that round. They choose a relevant skill and it is opposed by a relevant skill of the other side. For example, Coordination for evasive maneuvers, Stealth for dodging behind stuff, Cool for trying to blend in, Skulduggery for hotwiring an escape vehicle. A success on this roll lets you upgrade the difficulty of the opponent’s running check (since you are making it harder for them).

The next roll is the running check (or piloting or swimming) with a difficulty set by the terrain and modified by the results of the tactic. The winner of the running check adjusts the range difference in their favor.

Finally, each side rolls Resilience, with the difficulty increasing each round of the chase. Failure here causes strain, and represents the toll the chase is taking on the participants. The chase ends either when the prey reaches a “safe” range (which varies based on what we’re doing), the predator reaches engaged (and we switch to combat), or one side crosses their Strain threshold. We do not let successes on this roll recover strain.

Why did we introduce this? We found that it created more exciting chases for us, because round by round we just move into different rooms or terrains without worrying about how many maneuvers it would take to do so in combat. And it made the narration of the chase more interesting because, generally speaking, we like to vary our tactics. We play with very few PCs, so our chases are often just one character being chased by one other. I’m not sure how I would vary this if I was dealing with a group of 4-5 PCs.


The end of chase can happen in more ways that just leaving range. Either person can choose to end the chase. If a person feels they have gained enough distance and wants to hide, then it would turn to a stealth versus vigilance check. I might add a difficulty to the roll for every range band they were ahead by, to represent the time to prepare.
If the person end the race case the got to a tactical advantage spot then it may end and jump right to initiative.

I would handle it the same for both way if it was NPCS or players trying it.

If they are not seen in the roll, then I would give them a little while to get away or plan something else before allowing a new check to be made by the other group. But I would then change to use perception or streetwise to the the other group, depending in their approach.

I hope this helps.

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The way I handle personal-scale chases is a competitive check. Whoever wins the check moves one movement farther away/closer. If one person succeeds and the other person fails, the winner moves two movements farther away/closer.
Personal-scale chases generally end in a “We got you!” or a “We lost them.” not so much a distance matter.

Each round of the chase is one check: I propose two different skills (and their difficulties) that could be used, and the skill/difficulty used by the opposition if they choose one or the other.
Each PC rolls their check, and we compare it to the results of the opponent as per usual.

Examples: Average Coordination to weave through the crowd, upgraded once since you’re being pursued by cops, with 1 Setback because of the density of the crowd. The cops will make Average Coercion to get the people to move out of their way.
Or, Average Cool to run through traffic, upgraded twice because of the risk of getting hit. The cops will have to make the same check to follow.

The simplest is always Athletics vs. Athletics, but that’s boring.

For Stealth, I make the check a competitive Stealth vs. Perception check. If you succeed and they fail, they lose you (but you aren’t out of it yet!). If you win the check, but they succeed, they lose track of you long enough for you to gain on them, but they catch sight of you again and keep following.
In this case, the difficulties will likely be inverted. So if it’s an Average check for Stealth, it’s Average for them. If it’s Easy for you, it’s Hard for them, and vice versa.
(Perception instead of Vigilance because they are actively watching you)

I’ve only tested this a couple times, but it worked quite well and was well-received both times.

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For the stealth and perception there’s also concealment to take into account, which I’m playing with these days.

Btw I really like your suggestions P. You mind if I call you P? I’ll call you P. :cowboy_hat_face: I’ll definitely use them - I should’ve used them a few sessions ago … Ah well.

Could a case also be made for Skulduggery? And/or Streetwise?


I prefer “P-47” if you don’t mind. :P

Yes, certainly. There’s a good case for almost any skill in the right situation. I once had the character use Knowledge (Education) to navigate the inside of a building.


Ok, P-47 it is. :cowboy_hat_face:

Do you call for a specific skill check, or do you allow the player choosing and narrating how it is relevant?

I will typically offer them a number of options (usually two), but am always open to suggestions, with appropriate justification.
Here’s a hypothetical example (that I’d likely allow): “May I use Melee to break open a fire hydrant?” It’d be competing against Athletics, and Threat/Advantage etc. could be spent in interesting ways for either party.

And here I thought I was the only one touchy about my username. Yeah, make sure it’s got a big D!.

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In The Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3ed (from FFG) they had a chase in the third chapter of the adventure. It is similar to Star Wars, and I though that chase scene worked well. WFRP uses similar dice mechanics and skills, so a chase scene in Star Wars could be handled similarily.

In short they had divided the chase into multiple parts that used multiple different skills. In the adventure they divided it into five stages. A failed check means you fall behind and get a black die on the next check. Two failed checks in a row equals looising sight of the person fleeing. Any character getting to part 5 and succeeding caught up with the fleeing person.

  1. Through an Alleyway (roll athletics 2d)
  • Just run after the person fleeing.
  1. Through busy streets (roll athletics 2d, or coordination 1d)
  • Athletics to just keep running or weave through the crowd with coordination.
  1. The Chicken crates (roll athletics 3d, or folklore 2d)
    The one fleeing person jumps over a pile of crates that block the way into an alley. Athletics to jump after, or folklore to know another way.

  2. The stinking slick of fish guts (roll athletics 3d, or coordination 3d)
    The one chased turns over a barrel of fish guts making the road slippery.

  3. Onto the water (roll athletics 3d, or coordination 3d)
    Jump onto docks, barges, etc to get over a canal.

So depending on how much planning goes into the chase scene it can be fun to plan and include different skills. And you could divide the chase into more or fewer parts depending on how long you want it.
I guess you could also make a table of with examples of different obstacles and what skills need to be rolled to get around them and just pick or roll on from that list whenever a chase scene starts.

In general, I like it when it’s not only athletics or coordination based, even if those skills make a lot of sense during a chase scene. It’s fun when players can use less obvious skills such as Leadership (get a crowd to disperse and let you through), Streetwise (anticipate the way a target might take) or Computers (to hack a door to get through a shortcut).