Drive Skill

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Drive Skill
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This skill is not required to operate an automobile. The Drive Skill represents the ability to operate an automotive vehicle under difficult conditions or to perform stunts. Specializations are required for operating non-standard (not under California Class C License) vehicles without penalty. Some vehicles utilize the Athletics Skill or Survival Skill when making rolls instead of the Drive Skill.


The Drive Skill allows your character to operate a vehicle under difficult or dangerous conditions. Characters don't need this Skill simply to drive a car. It's safe to assume in a modern society that most individuals are familiar with automobiles and the rules of the road. Rather, this trait covers the training or experience necessary to operate at high speeds, to tackle hazardous road conditions and to push a vehicle to the limits of its performance. Drive is the difference between a typical suburban parent with a minivan and a police officer, car thief or racecar driver. (See Vehicles for dice-pool equipment modifiers for various vehicles.)


The Skill also applies to piloting and controlling boats; your character's Drive dots are applied equally to handling boats. In order for your character to be able to pilot a plane, he needs a Pilot Specialty in the Skill. With that, efforts to control a plane call for a Drive-based roll, plus one die for your character's Pilot Specialty. A character with the Drive Skill who does not possess a Pilot Specialty cannot effectively operate a plane. His efforts to fly are based on Attribute alone, at a -1 untrained penalty. Helicopters require a separate Helicopter Specialty in the Drive Skill to fly one with the full dice pool, even if the character has a Pilot Specialty. Note that dots in Drive do not apply to manually fixing or building vehicles, only to operating them. Construction and repair is the province of the Crafts Skill.

General Roll Results

Vehicle Pursuit

Dice Pool: Dexterity + Drive + vehicle Handling versus Dexterity + Drive + vehicle Handling
Action: Extended and contested (each roll represents one turn of driving)
Suggested Equipment: For a list of sample vehicles, see p. 146 (+1 for every three points difference between Acceleration traits)
Possible Penalties: Bad weather (-1 to -3), slippery conditions (-2), obstacles (-1 to -3), vehicle damage.

Pursuing a fleeing vehicle is a test of both sharp reflexes and steel nerves as the escaping driver attempts to increase the distance between himself and his pursuer. Roll Dexterity + Drive + Handling for each driver. Each roll represents one turn's time. This is not quite the conventional extended and contested task, however. Rolls are made for each participant in each turn, but the quarry has a different goal than the pursuer. The number of successes that must be acquired for the quarry equals the pursuing vehicle's Acceleration. So, if the pursuer's vehicle has an Acceleration of 15, successes accumulated for the quarry must reach 15 for him to get away.

The pursuer, however, does not seek to get away. His goal is much more specific: to stop the quarry from escaping. The number of successes that the pursuer needs is therefore different. He seeks to tally a number that equals or exceeds the quarry's current total of successes at any point in the chase. If the pursuer gets that number, he catches up.

The relative speed of vehicles is also a factor in determining who is likely to get away or be caught. An 18- wheeler isn't likely to catch a sports car, for example, but a sports car could probably catch an 18-wheeler. For every three points of difference between competitors' Acceleration traits, the faster one gets a +1 bonus on pursuit rolls. Remainders are rounded down. So, if a pursuer has an Acceleration of 22 and a quarry has an Acceleration of 13, rolls made for the pursuer get a +3 bonus. If a pursuer has an Acceleration of 15 and a quarry has an Acceleration of 13, neither party gets a bonus (the difference between Acceleration traits is less than three and is rounded down).

Example: Asa Clarke seeks to elude mobsters who are out for his blood. He has 3 Dexterity and 2 Drive, and a compact car with a Handling of 3 and Acceleration of 15. The pursuing driver has 2 Dexterity and 4 Drive, and a sedan with a Handling of 2 and an Acceleration of 14. The difference between their Acceleration traits is not sufficient to give either a bonus (it's less than three, so is rounded down to zero). Eight dice are rolled for Asa (3+2+3), and a total of 14 successes must be accumulated for him to get away. Eight dice are also rolled for the pursuer (2+4+2), but he need only accumulate a number of successes that equals or exceeds what Asa has in any turn. Thus, if Asa gets three successes in the first turn and the mobsters get three or more, they catch him right away. If by the fifth turn Asa has eight successes and the mobsters have five, and the mobsters' total successes from turn to turn have never equaled or exceeded Asa's total, he has always maintained the lead. If by the ninth turn Asa has 14 successes and his pursuers have 10, Asa gets away. Maybe he turns a corner and the mobsters can't keep up, or Asa narrowly avoids a vehicle that blocks the pursuers completely.

If the quarry of a pursuit has a head start, he gets a number of automatic successes at the beginning of the chase. Any successes rolled for him throughout the extended and contested task are added to that number from turn to turn, giving the quarry an advantage throughout. As a rule of thumb, a full 20-yard head start is worth one automatic success.

So, if Asa were 40 yards away from the mobsters when the pursuit broke out, he would have a foundation of two free successes on which to add his own throughout the chase. That bonus would make it all the harder for his pursuers to accumulate an equal or greater number than he has in any given turn.

Negative modifiers to rolls due to hazardous terrain or dangerous conditions apply equally to opposing participants. A desperate escapee can intentionally incur a negative modifier (driving into oncoming traffic, going over a median, navigating a trash-strewn alley) to force the pursuer to cope with the same conditions. A driver's actions must be dedicated to conducting a pursuit. If a driver performs a different action in any turn, such as firing a gun, his Dexterity + Drive + Handling roll for that turn is forfeit. The pursuit still continues, but the character accumulates no successes. (The Storyteller also makes a chance roll on the driver's behalf to see if he retains control of the vehicle, as explained on p. 125.) Only a driver who possesses a supernatural power or the Stunt Driver Merit can maintain a pursuit and be able to perform a separate action in a turn.

Passengers in either vehicle can perform other actions, however. Most likely they shoot back and forth at each other. If combat between pursuing vehicles breaks out, roll Initiative for all combatants. Regardless of whether drivers contribute to the fight, their Dexterity + Drive + Handling rolls are made at the beginning of each turn. Actual combatants' places in the Initiative roster are then addressed in order until the next turn gets underway and new Dexterity + Drive + Handling rolls are made. The Vehicle rules in Chapter 6 of the World of Darkness Sourcebook help you handle combat between cars. Important to that process is the range between quarry and pursuer at any point in the chase. That distance is based on the difference of total successes achieved thus far between vehicles. Each success is worth about 20 yards.

So, if Asa has eight successes and the mobsters have four, Asa is 80 yards ahead. Of course, the Storyteller can set another standard for what that difference measures. If opponents race through rush hour traffic, each success between them could represent only 10 yards. Or, if the pursuit occurs across a prairie, each success between subjects could represent 30 yards.

The distance between quarry and pursuer must be compared to the ranges of firearms used in a 'shooting pursuit'.

If a pursuer's total successes ever equal or exceed a quarry's in any given turn, the pursuer catches up. The race comes to an end. The pursuing driver (and only the driver) is allowed one free action against the quarry, such as ramming the other vehicle. The quarry is fully aware of the threat and is not surprised. Otherwise, if Initiative has not yet been rolled in the pursuit, it is now. If it has been rolled previously in the scene, rolls are now made for the vehicle drivers and they're added to the existing roster. On their actions in each turn, drivers can now try to ram each other or perform other maneuvers as outlined under 'Vehicles', p. 141 of the World of Darkness Sourcebook.

Note that a simple drag race in which opposing drivers seek to be the first to cross a finish line is handled like a conventional extended and contested task. Successes for each participant are accumulated and all seek the same total number. The first one to get that total is the winner.

Roll Results

Vehicle Tailing

Dice Pool: Wits + Drive + vehicle Handling (tail) versus Wits + Composure + equipment (subject)
Action: Contested
Suggested Equipment: Handling of the tailing car; see above for the obviousness of the tailing car; binoculars (+1), second tail car (+3)
Possible Penalties: Cracked (-1) or missing (-3) rearview mirrors, intervening traffic (-1 to -3), bad weather (- 1 to -3), twisting roads (-2)

Tailing is a stealthy form of pursuit in which the pursuer attempts to follow a subject without being detected. Rather than depending on fast reflexes to stay close, the pursuer engages in a game of alertness with his unsuspecting opponent, hanging back just far enough to keep the subject in sight while blending in with surrounding traffic. When your character attempts to tail a vehicle, make a Wits + Drive + equipment roll. In this case, 'equipment' is equal to the vehicle's Handling as your character speeds up, slows down or makes turns to avoid being spotted.

Tailing is a contested action. A Wits + Composure roll is made for the subject. His equipment modifier is not based on the maneuverability of his own vehicle, but on the ostentation or obviousness of the pursuer's vehicle. If the tail drives a blue sedan, the subject probably gets no bonus because the pursuing car blends in with all the other vehicles on the road. A tailing motorcycle offers a +1 bonus, a tailing sports car offers a +3, and a tailing 18-wheeler or Porsche offers a +4 or +5 bonus. A tailing vehicle as subtle as an airplane flying overhead probably eludes a subject altogether or imposes a -5 penalty to recognize the aerial shadow.

The contested roll is made when the tail begins. If the subject wins he notices he's being followed and can attempt to escape (in which case it becomes a pursuit; see the above task). If the tail wins, he follows the subject without being detected. If this is a short drive, one roll may be sufficient. For longer rides, the Storyteller may call for a roll every 10 miles or so.

Roll Results


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