Our last Chase in 50 Fathoms was just too long. It's convinced me to deploy a more concrete Chase system over the very abstract Chase.
One concept that needs to be explained is Zones. Zones are a concept in FATE, but can easily be exported to Savage Worlds. There are six Range Increments that act as different Zones.
Escape Range: If a character or vehicle ends a Chase Round at Escape Range, they exit the Chase and escape as the pursuer has lost sight of their prey at this point.
Extreme Range: At Extreme Range, the character or vehicle can't be targeted or target opponents and are close to escaping. These ships can be noticed by spyglass at this distance so are still within sight range to try and chase them down.
Long Range: At Long Range, the character or vehicle is at -4 at ranged penalty versus others in the Chase.
Medium Range: At Medium Range, the character or vehicle is at -2 ranged penalty versus others in the Chase.
Short Range: At Short Range, the character or vehicle is at no ranged penalty versus others in the Chase.
Close Range: At Close Range, the character or vehicle is adjacent to another character or vehicle in the chase and melee attacks are possible if they board the other vessel. If both vessels end the turn at Close Range, move to normal ship-to-ship combat, the chase has ended and the battle has begun.
Starting Range: On a Raise on Notice, the character or vehicle starts at Long Range. On a success, they start at Medium Range. On a failure, they start at Short Range. On a critical failure on Notice, they start at Close Range. Use the best Notice roll result of the group for this. If the group takes a critical failure result, they all draw a Bennie. If a character has the Scout Edge and succeeds on the Scout Notice roll, they start one Range Increment further away (or one Range Increment closer if desired) than normal.
If the group is looking for trouble such as Privateers in 50 Fathoms, they can make a Boating roll as a Stealth roll for the ship opposed by their prey's Notice. On a Raise, they start at Close Range, On a Success, they start at Medium Range, On a Failure, they start at Long Range, and On a Critical Failure, their prey sees them and they get away before they can get close enough to start a chase.
Character or Vehicle Tests to begin the round: The Chase roll is made (foot, riding, or vehicle roll as normal) and you can spend each Success and Raise on this roll to get closer or get away from other characters and vehicles in the chase on their Action Card. On a Failure no progress is made. On a Critical Failure, the character or pilot of a vehicle gains a Bennie and then they move one Range Increment closer or farther away in the Chase as they fall behind (Game Master's choice depending on whether the forces he controls in the chase are pursuing or running away from the character or vehicle).
For example, a ship at Long Range versus another ship could move to Short Range or move to Escape Range depending on whether they are moving toward the other ship two Range Increments or away from the other ship two Range Increments if they gained a Raise and if they had the highest Action Card.
If the other ship merely got a Success acting on a lower Action Card, they could only move towards or away from the ship by one Range Increment.
For example, if the other ship moved to Escape Range, they could move towards it one Range Increment and get to Extreme Range or let the vessel Escape giving up the chase. If the other ship moved to Short Range, they could move towards it one Range Increment into Close Range or run away one Range Increment to Medium Range.
Action Cards with Clubs still cause complications in the Chase. Characters can give up a Success or Raise from the above Chase roll to gain another Action Card if they wish to avoid the complication; however it isn't a guarantee (24% chance of failure with 1/4 of the cards clubs on average) and slows them down in the Chase as they lose one Range Increment of movement that round per additional Action Card drawn off the Chase roll. Characters with Quick or Level Headed draw their additional Action Cards as normal if on foot or riding, and these edges apply if the pilot of a vehicle has those edges or if a passenger takes an action to help the pilot and succeeds at giving at least a +1 bonus to the Chase roll as an assist, as a bonus they can also apply their Quick or Level Headed Edge to the ship draw (maximum three Action Cards as per Improved Level Headed though from these sources).
Chase Combat rounds: No more Advantage or Disadvantage. Instead ships move on their Action Card a number of Range Increments and characters or vehicle passengers act on their Action Card and make attacks against other people in the chase at relative distances at the end of their or their vehicle's move.
For example, if the group moves into Close Range with one ship and is at Long Range relative to another ship in the chase, they can either make melee or ranged attacks at no penalty versus the adjacent ship or they can make a -4 ranged attack against the ship farther away, their choice.
This system works as a sliding scale with actors in the
chase either trying to run away or close in and fight. If one ship
grapples another ship and boards the other vessel, the chase ends and a
ship-to-ship normal combat begins. If a ship gets to the Escape Range,
they leave the Chase and the Chase ends once all the Player Characters
have escaped or been caught in a fight at Close Range. These are the two results we want to determine in the Chase, Escaped or Caught and I want them determined quicker than the current system is performing for my average two hour sessions. We'll see how it goes for the next 50 Fathoms if we get in a Chase.