APAGear II Archives Volume 5, Number 2 April, 2003


Grid lock: Roleplaying Traffic Problems

Janne Kemppi

Traffic is a continual part of lives of those people living in a modern society. People and material just do not move without transportation systems. Different societies can control actual traffic patterns by guiding and supporting infrastructures to wanted directions. For example some societies may support mass transit systems while others may build their transportation around privately owned and run passenger vehicles. Historical background, growth of population and economic and social needs further mutate the system.

Heavily urbanized zones like Rangstadt in Sol or Cat's Eye in Caprice are the epitome of modern, heavily congested city but there can be traffic problems in sparsely populated Terra Nova as well. This is especially true if road network is badly designed or supported. Traffic accidents can cause even a well planned and resoursed system halt. In practice this can be major accident in important intersection, a closed bridge or junction.

A trip with a car seems to take (no matter how far or close one actually tries to drive) roughly one hour in any large city. GM can use this one hour long trip rule to avoid headaches of thinking road trip times when taking into account time of day, distance and plain luck. However, there are also times then one is travelling through the city and knowing when one reaching the destination is absolutely essential. These kinds of situations are usually meetings, rendezvous or something similar. Fighting against a merciless clock can give GM further possibilities (such as expand a detour from a traffic jam into a mini-adventure).

Following table can be used to put to introduce some randomness to travelling in these cases. Roll 2d6:

2-3: Road is almost empty. You can drive as quickly as you dare. [Characters arrive to their destination in no time (in 15 minutes).]

4-5: Road has only light traffic and it goes forwards well. This is looking good. Characters arrive to their destination quickly (in 30 minutes).]

6-8: Normal Traffic jams and occasionally line actually goes forwards. Looks like just another day. [Characters arrive to their destination normally (in 60 minutes).]

9-10: Heavy traffic seems to clog up roads. This is not looking good. [Characters arrive to their destination slowly ((roll 1D6): 1-2 in 90 minutes; 3-4 in 120 minutes; 5-6 in 150 minutes).]

11-12: Traffic jam prevents all traffic. Entire line will stand for hours. This looks like a good day for a road rage. [Characters arrive to their destination way too late (in D6+2 hours).]

Note! Characters who know the city should have a good idea of traffic patterns and side roads that let them bypass worst traffic jams. Whether character knows it should be perhaps decided by their background -living all one's life in a particular city give plenty of experience of traffic patterns there.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 5, Number 2 April, 2003