Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tommy's Take on Trucker - Open Road Adventures

When I saw Trucker, the concept jumped out at me as being incredibly, incredibly awesome: It's truckers, on the road, doing jobs...and having to deal with all manner of evil monstrosities along the way.

The cover image is a trucker, in a truck, with a freaky monster on top of it, presumably trying to get in. The trade dress on the book harkens to the classic sci-fi game Traveller (which I have no prior experience with, but I recognize the imagery).

Trucker is only $3.49, but does require two decks of cards, several coins, 100 poker chips (red and black, specifically) and twenty red and black 10-sided dice. Basically, if you think Savage Worlds is a bit fiddly or gimmicky, you might want to stay away from Trucker.

To their credit, not only is the 40 page book indexed, but it also has imbedded page references all over the book...if a term pops up that you're not sure of, it is almost guaranteed that there is a page reference RIGHT THERE.

One interesting bit is that the game is apparently playable solo, as well as with a group. I'm not 100% sure it falls under the classic "role-playing game" category, but I'm honestly not concerned with that part.

You don't have "character creation", you "set-up the truckers", with the dealer being the person with the biggest key chain. Every player winds up with four cards, one from each suit and one each ranked Ace through 4. These are used for the Truckers' abilities: Grace, might, sense and will. Diamonds and hearts combine to make up "Pluck", while clubs and spades make "Luck".

With the essentials in place, you flesh out the Trucker with things like their CB Handle, base, route, carge, trucking line, etc.

Once the truckers are set, the Dealer sets up the contract by rolling a d10 and dealing out that many cards, setting the length of the contract. Players get cards called "tires" that they use along with the "wheel" (which is each leg of the contract, flipped over at the beginning of each round) to make Threats and Snags, and everybody has to toss coins from their starting funds into the center of the table to "ante up".

Everyone essentially makes their own challenges, with the caveat that stronger challenges equal greater payouts.

Threats and Snags are handled completely differently, from set-up to resolution. Threats are made by combining cards of multiple suits (at least one from each), adding the two highest together for a total and rolling 1d10 and adding your relevant abilities to it to beat the score. Snags are made from a single suit and you use your ability as a die pool, trying to beat the snag total. If you lose, you lose coins to the "Lockbox" in the center of the table...if you have no coins, you lose your chips. If you have no chips, you're out.

Once everyone has taken a turn, the Truckers play a hand of cards, with the winner getting cards to use as "spare tires" to give them more options for making threats and snags with in the next round.

Once the contract deck has been completed, the job is over and people can trade in their completed threats and snags for coins.

Once everyone has decided that a whole stretch has been completed (kind of like a story arc versus an adventure), the players can get "promotions", increasing their Abilities or Starting Funds.

A big list of trucker lingo is present, as well as Ten-Codes (like 10-4 "message received and understood").

The book also includes about 15 sample threats and about a dozen snags.

Some of the threats include aliens, werewolves, vampires, boogeymen and goblins. The all also have four levels of "fx", which are special abilities that you can kick in to make them scarier/more dangerous.

Snags include mechanical failures, road hazards and illness, with fx effects as well. Generally, snags are mundane stuff and threats are supernatural. A character sheet is included, as well as an index (as mentioned).


Man...that concept sounds great, doesn't it?

In practice...I don't know. There's so much game specific terminology that I'm not used to with an RPG, that it makes the rulebook hard to read and comprehend. The threat encounters don't even require defeating the threats...just a round of combat and then it's the next player's turn to deal with their threat or snag...and then everyone's at the roadhouse playing poker.

I could see it being a fun board/card-ish game for a break from the regular RPG game, and it could be pretty amusing once you get the hang of all of the little rules and stuff. Given the blank pages in the PDF, a full on rules summary (in plain english and not posted on a dart board) would have been extremely welcome.

Be aware: This is not a typical roleplaying game, by any stretch, but it does have potential for some humorous fun, especially with the right soundtrack on in the background.

Recommended if you dig the non-traditional indie games, as the potential is there, and the price isn't exactly prohibitive.