Thursday, October 1, 2015

Vehicles in Cypher System, Part 2: Vehicles

In many genres vehicles are important characters themselves, especially in games inspired by Japanese Anime, but often in other stories certain vehicles take on a role almost as significant as the characters themselves, like a certain starship and it's 5-year mission.

Links for Vehicles in Cypher System series: 
Part 1: A Matter of Scale
Part 2: Vehicles
Part 3: Vehicles and Special Abilities
Part 4: Vehicle Combat

   Related Posts:
Firearms in Cypher System
More Modern Weapon Distinctions


Every vehicle should have a Size, Level and Armor, these stats are covered in this post and represent the bare minimum detail any vehicle should have. Some vehicles may have their own Special Abilities and Weapons, which will be discussed in separate posts.

Size is discussed in Vehicles in Cypher System, Part 1: A Matter of Scale. Most 'Dogfight' combats will be taking place between vehicles of the same size so Scale effects will cancel out and the vehicles will function as though they were two human-scale combatants (albeit with significantly more feet in their Immediate, Short and Long range bands.)


Every vehicle has a Level rating from 1 to 10. This is the overall quality of the vehicle and determines it's maneuverability and toughness.

Level 1:   Calling it a "Bucket of Rust" would be insulting the bucket.
Level 2:   A vehicle in very poor shape. It runs, but some critical parts may 
                only have a spiritual connection to the rest of the vehicle.
Level 3:   A used car, not necessarily in bad shape, but the owner has probably 
                missed a few oil changes here and there.
Level 4:   A brand new vehicle, an older vehicle that has been extensively 
                restored or one that has been taken very good care of.
Level 5:   Luxury vehicle.
Level 6:   Competition-grade performance vehicle.
Level 7+: Unique or limited production special purpose vehicles.

Military vehicles are typically of levels 4 and up depending on the design. A mass produced current-generation front-line armored vehicle is Level 6, Artillery, scout vehicles or other combat support vehicles are Level 5, and supply transports are Level 4.

Surplus earlier-generation mechanized armor are one level lower than current generation, Prototypes are one or more levels higher. (In a future post I will address handing earlier generation and prototype equipment) 

Ground and Sea vehicles have Hit Points equal to their Quality times 6. Fixed Wing aircraft have Hit Points equal to their level times 4. Rotary Wing aircraft (helicopters) have Hit Points equal to their Quality times 2.

(Aircraft have more range of motion, but they pay for that with lighter structure for their size. Helicopters have even further increased mobility options, but have both lighter structures and more vulnerable drivetrains as a result). 

When a PC is driving a vehicle the HP are split between Might and Speed pools. While the GM has final say over the pool spread, most civilian vehicles split HP between pools equally, where tougher vehicles like tanks favor Might to Speed at a 2-1 ratio (so a Level 6 main battle tank would have 24 Might, 12 Speed), and high-performance racing vehicles would reverse that ratio. PC's draw from these pools when using effort on physical tasks while driving/piloting. Intellect tasks are drawn from the PC's personal Intellect pool.

Vehicles Effort and Edge:

Vehicles do not have an Effort or Edge score. When a PC uses effort and/or a special ability of the vehicle they use their personal Effort and Edge scores even if the pool their action draws from is the Might or Speed pool of the vehicle.

Optional Rule: Cinematic Vehicle Hit Points.

As a cinematic option some vehicles are simply mass-produced and piloted by faceless grunts, or as they might be called in a movie "Extras". These vehicles only get Level*1 HP and have a nasty tendency to explode inflicting their level in damage (remember to include the Size class modifier) in immediate range when they reach 0 HP. Massed formations of these cannon-fodder machines tend to chain-react. Mass produced mecha in many Japanese Anime tend to suffer from this.

Other vehicles are your major stars of the show and while they take a pounding their loss is a major event in the story. These vehicles have normal HP, and even once they've been reduced to 0 HP can be repaired. These vehicles are often the iconic home base of the PCs or the major villains of the story and even when they suffer a catastrophic defeat either manage to limp back or get towed to base, or in the most extreme cases their destruction gets a dramatic treatment suitable for a central character.


Every vehicle will have an armor rating of some kind from 0 to 3:

Armor 0: Essentially no protection whatsoever, this is typical of high-end sports and racing cars where lightweight but fragile shells are selected to enhance performance rather than protect the occupants. This is also typical of light civilian aircraft with fabric or fiberglass hulls, and vehicles that are little more than a framework to hold their components together.

Armor 1: This is typical of most vehicles from wooden horse-carts to most modern automobiles. Air combat vehicles designed for speed, like interceptor jets may also be Armor 1 vehicles.

Armor 2: Ground Attack aircraft, armored scout vehicles and most armored cars that are designed to not look armored. Construction equipment may also have this level of Armor.

Armor 3: Main battle tanks, battleships, any front-line ground vehicle.