Tuesday, 23 May 2017

FLEE!!! Snakes & Ladders chase mechanics

Some time ago I posted that Snakes & Ladders is the superior way of conducting a chase sequence in D&D.
Some time later, I was at an OSR game day and people agreed!

And so David Black made this doozy of a thing -

So much improvement! Find it here.

This is, of course, the tits. Some slightly different rules for my game though, as follows.


- Pursuers go last.
- Each group rolls 1d6+Speed Die of the slowest member of the group and moves that many spaces.
- Movement can be forwards or backwards.
- Distance is abstract, after each roll the DM will yell a choice at the Pursued. If they don’t answer before the Pursuer’s dice hit the table, they choose a route at random.
- Groups can split up into smaller groups at will. Doing so must be decided before the group's pursuit roll, and groups cannot rejoin until the chase is over.

Speed Dice
- Speed Dice are based on encumbrance:
  - Unencumbered - 1d10
  - Lightly Encumbered - 1d8
  - Heavily Encumbered - 1d6
  - Severely Encumbered - 1d4
  - Over Encumbered - 0

- If Pursuers catch up to the Pursued or get to the end, the chase is over and the Pursuers automatically win initiative.
- If the Pursued get to the end, they've lost their pursuers!

My alterations are pretty ghetto, but laminated to the back of the Marching Order sheet so you can flip it!

Additional Notes:

It's pretty much perfect.
Easily grasped, unpredictable, exciting, it's everything you need a chase to be.
Plus it's abstract, so you can use it for anything from dungeon chases to horseback races.

In my game, this is basically the only thing that encumbrance really matters for. I tend to just eyeball encounter roll frequency, and combat movement speeds are boooooring as fuuuuuck.
Armour is a tradeoff between protection and escape speed. Treasure is a tradeoff between money/exp earnings and escape speed. Having lots of stuff just-in-case is a tradeoff between preparedness and escape speed.
It all boils down to whether you'll be able to run away.

Ending each roll with a LEFT OR RIGHT?! or STRAIGHT OR DOOR?! is fun because it means the party's likely to get lost if they're not used to the place.
I have them flip their maps when a chase begins to make it harder. Keep up the pressure.
I mark which choice they took on a secret sheet, that way after the chase ends I can go through the dungeon map and see where they ended up. Hopefully in the lair of another monster!
The thing with splitting into smaller units means fast guys can leave slow guys behind if they want. If you've got one guy loaded up with Plate and Shield and Greatsword, you can leave him behind to fight off the monsters while everyone else escapes!
Groups can't reform until the chase is over, so if you run off on your own you've got a better chance of escaping but you'll be alone if you end up getting caught.
This is also good for when people have to flee in two different directions. Good luck finding each other now, kids!

Oh and finally, squares 20 and 21 on the table are "Quickly!" and "Slow going!".
I have these change the base d6 pursuit die to d8 and d4 respectively.


  1. This is great! Would you consider writing a dungeon/wilderness/City specific table with fun random events for the chase, or is that against the whole mantra of simplicity?

    1. That's a neat idea! It does go against simplicity a bit, but not in a bad way.
      I think 5e's got some random chase happenings tables, you could probably use those.

  2. Do the choices correlate to the map, as in do you yell LEFT or RIGHT if the next intersection presents those alternatives, or are the choices random? And what do you do if the charachters pass through a room with an encounter? I mean, even if the hobos are running from the pack of angered half-goblins, they would probably notice if the ran through a cyberdragons enourmous hoard, with easily startled dragon present?

    1. Yea they correlate to the map, so if the hobos are running down a corridor that ends in a T-intersection, you yell RIGHT OR LEFT!? and they have to decide.

      This is all pretty loosey-goosey and abstract, so do what feels right.

      Personally if they ran through a room with an encounter, I'd probably say "there's a fucking cyberdragon on an enormous hoard here! Do you want to keep running?!"
      If they stop running, their pursuers catch up in the cyberdragon room. Otherwise you might have to add the cyberdragon as another pursuing group!

  3. Love the system! It seems even better with your take on the rules. I'm looking forward to try it out at my next game!

    I have edited the pdf with your alternate rules (reworded a bit to make them as compact as possible) See link below, if you'd like to replace the hand-written one.

    1. Dude I'm so sorry this comment got lost in the comments! This is amazing!