Saturday, April 25, 2015

Riding the Atomic Highway

In honor of the impending new Mad Max movie, our regular gaming group played Colin Chapman's Atomic Highway this evening AND HAD A GREAT TIME!


Atomic Highway uses Radioactive Ape Design's V6 Engine system. The V6 Engine utilizes sets of 7 attributes and 20 skills. When a die roll is called for (and they make a point of saying, 'only when necessary'), you choose the appropriate attribute and skill that apply. You roll a number of six-sided dice equal to your attribute, with the goal of rolling sixes. Each six counts as one success and you can spend your skill level to boost lesser dice results into successful sixes as well. Also, natural sixes explode, allowing you to roll them again. R.A.D.'s website has an example of this elegantly simple system.

Character creation is a matter of using a point-buy for attributes and assigning skill points based on your character's background. Start by spending 18 points, one-for-one, across 7 attributes, three of which – Muscle, Tenacity, and Toughness – determine your Health. Next, determine how your character was raised and what life path they have chosen. Each Rearing and Pursuit provides a set series of skill levels, clothing, and gear. You get some extra skill points to fill in any gaps, name your character, and go!

We ended up with:
IDK - A Bartertown Outrider with her own motorcycle with sidecar.
Kalvin - A Remnant Scavenger - Think a vault dweller from Fallout.
Kel - A Nomad Beastmaster with dog Rex and horse Pal.
• We also whipped up a Feral Pit Fighter as a spare.

We jump in with both feet as Kel is tracking down the people who killed and absconded with the rest of his nomad clan when he comes across IDK and Kalvin scavenging some ruins. A short conversation is had just before being interrupted by the sound of a car engine and hardcore hip hop. They scatter to the shadows, Kel taking the high-ground. As the car turns the corner, Kel sees the occupants are marked up in clown makeup – he knows these are members of the raiding group that took his family away from him. He lines up his rifle on the driver and takes the shot...

With the called shot and cover from the car frame, Kel needed three successes and I only rolled one of them. Fortunately, the V6 Engine includes a nice little feature: Fortune Points! Like Bennies or Fate Points in other systems, they give you a little extra oomph. Each character starts with 5 Fortune Points and they can be spent on things like free successes, tweaking the plot, damage mitigation, etc. Since I wanted this opening shot to have some narrative weight to it, I burned a couple of Fortune Points, got my three successes, took out the driver, and sent the buggy crashing into a building.

A few more of the hip-hop-listening, clown-makeup-wearing raiders show up, but IDK, Kalvin, and Kel (and Rex!) make quick work of them. An interesting night camping, blowing up a building, and a game of chicken later, we wrapped the game for the night.

We decided we really like the system. Combat (particularly with vehicles!) can be deadly, but not as bad as some systems. Characters feel competent as the Fortune Points allow you to save your bacon if you need to and accomplish some amazing feats if you want to. This is all wrapped up in a slightly campy package that really captures the feel of renegades out on the post-apocalyptic open road. I look forward to playing it again.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I would say the key 'differentiators' between Atomic Highway and Mutant Year Zero are hope and agency. With AH the world may be an awful place, but you have the power to change it, with Mutant you are going to get beaten to death with a bike chain...