This year is the 100th anniversary of a number of key events, including the first outboard motor, the discovery of the South Pole, the first car race across the Texas desert, and an early balloon race. This convention also saw the 1000th convention game run by the HAWKs in the past 10 years. We decided, as a club project, to run a GASLIGHT-based race game.
The game involved four legs: a boat race in the Amazon involving pygmies, pirates, dinosaurs, and pirates; a dog sled race involving yetis, the Terror of the Yukon, polar bears, troublesome penguins, a VERY hungry walrus, and lots of action; an aerial race involving two-man zeppelins racing between mountain peaks; and a car race through the desert, involving a crazed hermit, the fountain of youth, and an archeological dig.
In the picture on the right, my daughter and I made the mountains from poster board and paper mache. The blue dots you see show the heights of the mountains, between 1 and 6. I think the look of the mountains and the cotton batting was an effective representation of a race through high mountains.
In each leg of the race, first place earned five points, second place earned three points, and third place earned one point. In addition, there were a number of additional objectives that were worth points. In the zeppelin game, for instance, rescuing one of the lost mountain climbers was worth a point. In my dog sled game, capturing the Terror of the Yukon was also worth a point. In this way, vehicles that got a late start could still earn points and stay competitive in the overall race.
Each round lasted 75 minutes. After each round, points were awarded — in the form of poker chips. The players carried their points with them as they rotated between tables with the different legs of the race. After the fourth round, after each leg was completed, the player with the highest total number of points was awarded a GASLIGHT Compendium T-shirt.
What’s not to like about pirates, motor boats, pygmies, dinosaurs, and alligators battling along a jungle river? This was Todd Harland-White’s scenario. This scenario involved a LOT of shooting. In iteration I had a chance to watch, the lone crew member of the lead boat was shot in the back by a long range rifle shot, just inches from the finish line. The players were racing to be the first to reach one of the waiting gunboats.
In my arctic dog sled race, the participants weren’t allow to shoot at each other until they got out of line of sight of the event judge. Once out of sight, the shooting began in earnest. In one of the iterations of the race, two sleds were damaged and rolled 20’s for results — the sleds fell apart and the dogs ran off. The racers continued on foot. In one case, two sleds bumped and were locked together three inches from the finish line. On the next card, the driver of one of the locked sleds sprinted across the finish line to win the race.
In the last iteration of this leg of the race, the winner was on foot. The second-to-last player knocked out was eaten by a polar bear. The third-to-last player knocked out was shot by the player on foot. It was quite bloody.
In all of the legs of the race, players were issued small cards with dirty tricks and other misfortunes they could play on the other players at any time. These included things like “your engine conks out,” “you are attacked by yetis,” or “desert tribesmen attack you.” There were also some “good” cards, like an extra burst of speed (an extra 1d6 of movement).
In GASLIGHT, maximum movement in a turn is a fixed amount, depending on the Speed attribute of the vehicle. For this race game, we borrowed a couple of ideas from Jamie Davis’ excellent Future Race game. We first made movement partially random. In the dog sled race, for instance, the base speed was 2 inches per remaining dog in the team.
To this, the players added the roll on zero, one, or two six-sided dice, at the player’s discretion. The player could choose how many dice to roll; however, once they decided, they had to move the full amount rolled. This often resulted in sleds crashing into cliff walls, trees, rocks, flocks of penguins, or each other.
In GASLIGHT, vehicles turn up to their Spin attribute and then travel in a straight line up to their Speed number of inches. For the race game, once the movement distance was determined, the players had move at least half their total movement allowance before turning up to 45 degrees. This too resulted in crashes and other mishaps.
Finally, when vehicles bumped into each other, they had to roll on a bump table to determine if either (or both) vehicles were damaged. Between the dirty tricks cards, many obstacles, and requirement to move up to half before turning, there were many bumps, crashes, flips, and other mishaps. This is what made the games so much fun.