If your group has been playing for several months in a Car Wars campaign in the setting outlined by the Compendium, chances are their vehicles are all armed as follows. Twin, pulse, infrared lasers, with laser guided, armor piercing, who knows how many dice of damage rockets, and laser reflective fire proof armor, rapped around the biggest gas engine that can be stuffed in the body. Even in campaigns where the GM is particular stingy (like my games), the players will eventually amass the cash to upgrade their vehicles. This is not the problem. The problem comes from the fact that any Joe-Bob-Jill can waltz into the local Uncle Albert’s, throw down his cash, and walk out with a B.F.G., or 2, or 3, or 10.
Some GM’s may not consider this a problem, but I like to make my players work for every scrap of ammo they get. I have covered two factors limiting item availability in past articles. The tech level of an item, and using connections to track down wanted items, instead of having an “I sell everything” shop next door. This article will explore the next step by adding a rarity system for all weapons and equipment.
I will not go through Uncle Albert’s catalog and list the rarity of each item. Instead I will provide a framework the GM can use to determine his own level of rarity in his campaign.
Item Rarity Level
When the GM begins a new campaign he will define a common level (level 0) for the most easily obtainable equipment available. The rarity level of other individual items will then be determined by this common level, using the guidelines below. When trying to locate an item, connections will have a -1 penalty per rarity level above common to find it. The players connection should have no chance of finding a level 3 item or higher, but could uncover information for the players on where the item might be (for a 1% fee of the items cost).
Level 0: This is the commonest level of equipment in the game. Any one can walk into the store and find this stuff sitting on the shelf.
Level 1: This level of equipment is uncommon. It will probably be available in large cities, but would have to be special ordered in small towns (taking 1 to 3 weeks to arrive). Items at this level cost an extra 10% over and above any other extra costs including such things as higher tech levels.
Level 2: This stuff is rare. It may be available in the big city, but the purchaser will have to look to find it. It costs 30% more than normal.
Level 3: Extremely rare items. These may be available from a specialty dealer in a big city, but the purchaser will have to look long and hard to find it. Items at this level cost 50% more over and above any other costs.
Level 4: Unique items. There are only a couple, or maybe just one around. Items of this rarity may not even be for sale, and if they are the GM should require the players to adventure just to find a person willing to sell it. Items at this level will cost at least 200% and maybe more.
Setting The Rarity Level Of The Campaign
It is up to the GM to set the over all rarity level in his campaign and then set the rarity level of each piece of equipment. Some example are provided here to help the GM determine his own settings. Note, these are my own interpretations, and opinions may vary.
The Car Wars universe as presented in the Compendium. The rarity level of all non-military items is 0. Everything is available from Uncle Al as long as you have the cash. Military items can be considered uncommon to rare (level 1 or 2) depending on how generous the GM wants to be.
The Car Wars universe Chassis and Crossbow. The rarity level of all civilian style hand weapons (rifles, pistols, shotguns etc. ..) is 0. Military hand weapons (LAWS, PFT’s, HLAWS, anti-vehicle rifles, etc. ..) are considered rare (level 2). Small bore vehicle weapons are rare, with a few exceptions. Large bore and laser weapons are very rare. Military vehicle weapons appear to be unique. Other high tech equipment appears to be very rare or unique.
My own universe. Hand weapons doing less than 1 die of damage to vehicles are common. Weapons that can do 1 die of damage are usually uncommon. I make most weapons that can do 2 or more dice of damage rare, and military items very rare. Laser weapons are unique. Equipment tends to be rare to unique depending on how complicated it is, and whether it existed before the year 2000. The tech level of an item can also play a part in determining it’s rarity. For each TL the item is above the base campaign tech level I increase the rarity level by one, but only if it is a really high powered device (such as ANDICE). The biggest difference is, there is no store to purchase things from. If a character doesn’t have a contact, scrounge the item from a ruin, or take it from an enemy, he can’t find it.
Players should be allowed to have all the high tech toys they can afford, but only after a long search, careful planning, and paying through the nose.