Chase Cards 2 Reviewed; the Ideal Gaming Accessory
Phil Nicholls blogs at Tales of a GM, where he writes about narrative gaming, faster prep and more story. He is currently running a HeroQuest Glorantha campaign in a home-brew setting. Phil has written for Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips newsletter and has a selection of self-published pdfs.
This essay is taken from the archives at Tales of a GM.
Chase Cards 2: Hot Pursuit is produced by Paizo as part of their Pathfinder Cards line. The pack contains 51 unique cards, 17 each for urban, forest and dungeon environments. In addition, there are two cards of rules, a copyright card and an advert card. These Pathfinder Chase Cards are also billed as 3.5/OGL compatible. The supplied rules are flexible enough to be used with just about any roleplaying game.
The cards feature full-colour art. The obstacle is depicted in the top half of each card. Each card also offers two possible ways to avoid or overcome the obstacle on the lower half. These options are accompanied by the name of a relevant Pathfinder skill, and the Difficulty Check value to overcome.
The cards are colour-coded for the three categories of chase, but the backs are all the same so they could be intermixed if desired. Overall the art is good, if a little stylized in places. These are simple images, but convey a good sense of the obstacle being described.
As to be expected from the title, these cards enable the GM to run chase sequences. The chase can be set up with the pursued a number of cards ahead. Essentially, participants need to overcome the obstacle shown on the card to progress with their pursuit, or flight. If the pursued can achieve a large enough lead, then they escape. Or the pursuers can catch their quarry by closing the starting gap, and thus end the chase.
Chase Cards 2 adds two special rules. Some cards offer the possibility of a short cut, enabling the participant to skip ahead 1d4 cards. Another additional rule is the chance to escape the chase, available on a few cards. Both of these rules add more variety to the chases.
I do, however, have a couple of concerns with the Chase Cards. Specifically for this set, the backs of the cards label them as part of the Hot Pursuit expansion. This means they will not intermix quite so well with the original set of Chase Cards. Paizo could easily have printed them without this label, as the front of the card makes it clear which set they are from.
Thus, the only way to seamlessly mix together the two sets is to make use of the many sets of CCG card sleeves you have lying around. Or is that just me?
My second concern with the Chase Cards revolves around the options for each obstacle listed on the card. These are useful to prod the Players to think of ways to overcome the obstacle. The listed options are often interesting choices, and the numerical values can be a useful guide for the GM, even if you do not play with D&D-style rules.
The concern with these prompts, however, is when Players think these are the only choices available. I want the Players to think of creative ways to continue the chase, not debate which of the two options to take. Perhaps if the cards were to include the text “Or something else” at the bottom of each card, then this would encourage more lateral thinking.
The best thing about these cards is the way they facilitate the creation of a fast chase narrative. Each card is a small, simple encounter requiring a single roll to overcome. The GM then deals another card from the Chase Deck, and the pursuit moves on to the next challenge. This is a fast, exciting process that recreates the feel of so many film chases.
Chase Cards can be used for both chases, where the Heroes are trying to catch a fleeing GMC, or for pursuits, where it is the Heroes being chased. The quarry could be an animal, making the forest cards excellent for hunting sequences. Finally, the cards and rules could simply be used as a method for running a race, notably through a city or woodland.
Widening the Chase
I have made good use of the first set of Chase Cards in my game. Firstly I sleeved each deck in a separate set of card sleeves. Along with protecting the cards, and distinguishing the decks, it also gave me a few options for expanding the chases.
Initially, I just photocopied a few of the more common obstacles, to tinker with the balance of each chase deck a little. Then, I made some custom obstacles to add to each deck, to increase the range of problems that the Players would have to face. These custom cards were little more than a line image sourced from Google and a title. I tended to avoid adding the extra text for the reasons outlined above.
Next I created some custom cards that linked together two of the decks. For example, the “Park Gates” card in the urban deck would immediately take the chase into a forest environment. Such a transition card is the cue to switch decks, and continue the pursuit using the another deck. In the case of the “Park Gates”, it means switching from the urban deck to the forest deck. I like the unpredictability this brings to a chase.
Finally, I took the plunge and created custom decks of my own. Thus, I can now run chases in a sewer, at sea or in the air. Creating a custom deck does mean a lot of custom cards, but a few of the dungeon and urban cards were copied to make the sewer deck.
A little imagination, and some time on Google Images, and you should be able to make a chase deck to suit any environment for your game. A modern urban chase would be a good option, perhaps differentiating between foot chases and car chases. Likewise a space chase deck would also be possible.
The Chase Cards are such a simple, yet effective accessory. They are the perfect tool to add an exciting, cinematic contest to a game that does not focus upon killing. I have found them easy to use and the Players love taking part in a chase sequence.
Chase Cards 2: Hot Pursuit is highly recommended.
How have you ran chases in your game? Share your experiences in the comments.
For more essays from Phil, and updates about his latest campaign, visit Tales of a GM.