TOME OF SECRETS Preview #2: Chases


General Discussion (Prerelease)


The Tome of Secrets, now available for preorder from Adamant Entertainment, will be released on August 13th, 2009. In anticipation of the the release, we'll be posting previews every week until August 13th, giving a glimpse of what lies within the pages of the Tome. This preview takes a look at our Chase rules.

Chases are a staple of action and adventure, and Tome of Secrets provides a set of rules which give as much detail to chases as is usually reserved for combat, while at the same time keeping the system fast-paced and easy to run.

Let's take a look at an example of play, where the PCs are trying to escape in a carriage, pursued by two hobgoblins:

GM: Okay, guys, your carriage is hurtling along a cobblestone road through a rice paddy. Both hobgoblins are currently at Short range. The first hobgoblin has the highest Initiative, so he gets to go first. No obstacles for him this round, so he's going to attempt the Close/Lengthen maneuver to reduce the range to Point-Blank.

Davis: Uh-oh. Their horses are faster than this carriage, aren't they?

GM: They sure are. Close/Lengthen is an opposed maneuver, so you and the hobgoblin need to make opposed Ride checks. Remember, the hobgoblin has a Speed Factor of 1 against your carriage, so you take a -1 penalty on your check.

Davis: Okay, I get a... 12, plus my 6 for Ride, minus 1 for the Speed Factor penalty and another for the Speed Category... total of 16.

GM: Not bad, but the bad guy gets a 14, plus 5 for his Ride skill, and he gets the Speed Factor as a bonus on his roll, so that's an additional plus 1. Total of 20. So he closes in on your carriage, and is now at Point-Blank range.

Davis: Uh-oh.

Lacie: It's my turn now, right?

GM: Yep. You're a passenger on the carriage, so you can choose any Passenger maneuver.

Lacie: I've got my crossbow so I'm going to try and shoot this hobgoblin.

GM: You're choosing the Ranged Attack maneuver. He's at Point-Blank range, so you take no range penalty on your attack roll. However, the current Speed Category is Cautious, so that's a -1 on your roll.

Lacie: Okay. I roll a 15! My attack bonus is plus 7, so that's a 22, minus 1 for the Speed Category is 21.

GM: Pretty good. The hobgoblin's Armor Class would normally be 14, but at this speed he gets a dodge bonus of 2, so that's an 16. Too bad for him. You lean out the window and snap off a quick shot through the dust. Nice shooting.

Lacie: Right on. My damage is... 8.

GM: He curses as the bolt grazes his shoulder, but stays close. The horse's hooves are right alongside your carriage's rattling wheels. And the other rider is closing in, too. Your turn, Davis.

Davis: I'm going to force this guy into the rice paddy.

GM: Fair enough. That's the Crowd maneuver. But before you get to try that, I need to check for Obstacles. You're in Open Terrain, so the chance is 1 in 12. Nope, you're all clear. So now you need to make a Ride check. Remember to apply the carriage's maneuver modifier.

Davis: Sure thing. I get a 13, plus 6 for my Ride skill. The carriage has a modifier of... -3? Holy crap. Alright, so that's a 16.

GM: And the Speed Category applies another -1 on that, so that's a 15.

Davis: Do I succeed? Is he plowing into the muck?

GM: Hold on. He gets to make a reaction roll -- Crowd uses opposed Ride checks. He rolls a 17, and gets a plus 3 for his Ride skill, along with a total penalty of -3, for a result of 17. The carriage lurches to one side, swerving madly, but the hobgoblin yanks on his horse's reins and, cursing, just manages to stay on the road. He's still at Point-Blank range.

Davis: We never get any breaks. Iʼm tired of these guys being faster than me. I'm going to haul on the reins and plow through one of these fields along the road. See if they can go so fast through rice paddies.

GM: Cool. That's the Breakaway maneuver. You need to make a Ride check at DC 20 as the heavy carriage thunders off the road and into the field. You have to use the carriage's maneuver modifier of -4, remember. And you're currently traveling at the Cautious Speed Category, so that's another -1.

Davis: A 15? Okay, I'll try it. I got an 19! Plus 6 for my Ride skill and -5 for the carriage and the Speed Category, that's a 20. So it works?

GM: It sure does. The carriage lurches and roars off the hard-packed road into the soft mud of the rice paddy. Water surges up on all sides. You've just changed the Surface of the chase from Clear to Swampy, which means the Speed Category drops to Walk. Everybody has to go slower, and that negates your opponent's Speed Factor. The Terrain has also changed from Open to Close, which means you've got a better chance of running into something.

Davis: No problem. This big carriage can handle anything.

GM: Well, maybe, but first your pursuers have to try and follow. They both have to make that DC 15 Ride check. The first one gets a total of 16 and just barely manages to plunge off the shoulder, plowing into the paddy right behind you. He's still at Point-Blank
range. The second rider gets a total of... well, not enough. He does make his Crash check for the failed attempt, however, and so he's still barreling along the road. He's just out of the chase for now.

Your carriage is now plowing through a rice paddy with a mounted hobgoblin charging alongside. There's water spraying in all directions and the carriage is lurching from side to side as you plow through the muck. The hobgoblin wants to try and smash your carriage with his scimitar.

Davis: He's going to ride AND attack? How can he do that?

GM: He's attempting the One Hand on the Wheel maneuver, which lets him perform another maneuver while still riding. The DC for that is... 15. He rolls a total of 17 on his Ride check, so now he can choose a Passenger maneuver -- he chooses Melee Attack, and rolls a total of 21 on his attack roll, dealing 9 points of damage to your carriage. You hear the heavy thud of his blade against the wooden box of the carriage. Lacie, it's your turn.

Lacie: How close is the hobgoblin?

GM: He's at Point-Blank range, close enough for you to make a melee attack if you want.

Lacie: Hell with that -- I'm jumping onto his horse!

GM: Excellent! That's a Leap Aboard maneuver, with an Acrobatics DC of 30.

Lacie: Yikes. Okay, here goes. Uh-oh. I got a 27.

GM: Make a Reflex Save, quck, or you're taking a drink.

Lacie: A 23!

GM: Okay, you're clinging to the saddle strap as the horse gallops along. Next round you can make a Climb check to get aboard, but for now, you're hanging there, trying to keep your legs clear of the horse's thundering hooves!

....and we'll leave our heroes in that precarious position.

In a nutshell, here's what happens in a chase:

First, everybody rolls initiative. Participants take their actions according to the initiative, just like combat.

On each character's turn, that character choose a maneuver to attempt. The maneuver is resolved and its effects applied. Some maneuvers allow chase participants to close in on each
other, some try to avoid (or cause) collisions, and some allow desperadoes to leap from one moving vehicle to another.

If the maneuver caused the conditions of the chase to change, those changes affect everyone in the chase. For example, if you manage a tight turn off the main road onto a narrow alley filled with fruit stands, suddenly everyone in the chase needs to slow right down to negotiate the more difficult terrain (assuming they can follow you at all)...and then it's the next character's turn. And so on.

That's it. As you can see, chases aren't that much different from combats in The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but filled with a flavor all their own, which makes all the difference.

Next week, we'll take a look at another of the new classes appearing in the Tome of Secrets, when we meet Kellaine, the half-elven swashbuckler.

The Exchange

Awesome. Very cinematic descriptions and I love the hanging on needing to climb on board bit.

Dark Archive

This exactly the kind of stuff I'm looking for. I've been using a modified version of the Spycraft rules, this is much better. Thanks. Definitely looking forward to getting this.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Ok, this piqued my interest. Got to see how the budget goes (damned auto insurance).


I'm champing at the bit to see the Warlock - whatdya say, boss, can the Warlock be the next preview?!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

Interesting and, as previously mentioned, certainly better than the Spycraft rules for chases in the d20 System.

Unfortunately, according to the product description of Paizo's upcoming Gamemastery Guide, we're going to have official Pathfinder RPG rules for chases early next year, so one or the other of these chase mechanics is going to be redundant.


Heh Artificer is the one I desperately want to see.

IN a game temporarily on hold til the rules come out in which I am a level 1 cleric/level 11 Artificer. A dwarf who has found a new way to serve Moradin the creator.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Epic Meepo wrote:

Interesting and, as previously mentioned, certainly better than the Spycraft rules for chases in the d20 System.

Unfortunately, according to the product description of Paizo's upcoming Gamemastery Guide, we're going to have official Pathfinder RPG rules for chases early next year, so one or the other of these chase mechanics is going to be redundant.

It's nice to have alternatives. How a chase is handled seems to be a small enough issue that each group will find what works best for them anyway. As long as both sets of mechanics take into account the same statistics (such as speed, distance, etc.) how the chase is resolved can be dealt with a number of ways given the same basic facts. My group may have one way of handling it while yours has another, yet we played the same adventure. Hopefully both sets would have the same result, but there is a lot of swing room there once you throw randomness and probability into it.

Liberty's Edge

The return of Hot Pursuit.

I like the Chase Conflict rules in SC2.0 better myself, but then again it's no why I'm buying the book. :)


Now this looks neat. Unfortunately, my budget is in the red for the time being, and between gaming and college, college tends to take precedence...

... but I get paid soon sooo... maybe I'll just indulge a little more ;]


Krensky wrote:
The return of Hot Pursuit.

Indeed -- the chase rules are a Pathfinder-ized update of our original Hot Pursuit d20 product.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

yoda8myhead wrote:
It's nice to have alternatives.

Absolutely. I didn't mean to suggest that people should avoid exploring either of these sets of chase rules. Nor did I mean to imply that one or the other was somehow better than the other.

I just wanted to make sure folks are aware going in that both of these sets of chase rules are already in the pipeline, so we'll have to make peace with a certain amount of redundancy. The way I figure it, in the current Edition Wars climate, you can't be too careful about cautioning people not to fall into a narrow mindset that refuses to accept the existence of alternative - often radically different - rulesets.


Epic Meepo wrote:
yoda8myhead wrote:
It's nice to have alternatives.
Absolutely. I didn't mean to suggest that people should avoid exploring either of these sets of chase rules. Nor did I mean to imply that one or the other was somehow better than the other.

Although I don't seem to be able to find this other set on any of the PDF stores.

Sovereign Court

SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:
Epic Meepo wrote:
yoda8myhead wrote:
It's nice to have alternatives.
Absolutely. I didn't mean to suggest that people should avoid exploring either of these sets of chase rules. Nor did I mean to imply that one or the other was somehow better than the other.
Although I don't seem to be able to find this other set on any of the PDF stores.

Epic Meepo put a link up-thread about the Gamesmastery Guide (one set- out next year), this product has another (out in August), there's more elsewhere.


GeraintElberion wrote:
Epic Meepo put a link up-thread about the Gamesmastery Guide (one set- out next year), this product has another (out in August), there's more elsewhere.

Sorry, I'm talking about Hot Pursuit.


SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:
Sorry, I'm talking about Hot Pursuit.

No longer available -- it was released not just under the OGL, but under the d20 System Trademark License (with the logo, etc.), which was withdrawn by WotC.

The product was withdrawn at the end of the license term, with the intention of re-doing it for Pathfinder (which, in TOME OF SECRETS, we finally get to do!).

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