Hot Rods N' Hell Cats ICRPG Setting WIP



I’ve had the idea kicking around my head for a while of a setting that was somewhere between Ghost Mountain, Road Warrior and Six String Samurai; a sort of greaser death race across purgatory that could be done theater-of-the-mind style. I’d run it a bit like a point crawl arranged in a loop. Each point on the loop is a little haven in the wastes where characters can resupply and upgrade gear and vehicles. In between the way points, you push to get out of the badlands before succumbing to raiders, monsters, and obstacles, using a card deck to randomly determine the obstacles and opponents that you’ll encounter. At any point, players can leave the loop, and make a break for the Pearly Gates, which means outrunning the Devil and his horde - the drives between way points are longer, and the rest stops have less to offer.

That’s the basic outline of the game. I have some notes which I’m looking for on what card pulls mean what for determining each track. I need a good set of rules for the “races” themselves, that can be interacted with based on a hot rod’s “stats” - and hopefully something that reinforces the narrative. I also need rules for scrounging loot, and a lotta lingo and loot which fits the themes of the game. I’m looking for all the help I can get on this little project, so if you’ve got ideas, or even if you just think this sounds cool, let me know here.


Found some of my previous notes:

The Road

the road always has a base of 1 heart of effort

Draw X # of cards from think deck

some cards add effort and a type (or two)
some add enemies or allies; if reversed, they are in pursuit 1d6 effort away

  1. Revelation = alternate route, pull 2 cards to describe; roadblock; trap

  2. Long Range = straight and flat, add 10 effort; FAST vehicles roll ENERGY.

  3. Doorway = tunnel, bridge, hard turn - anything that narrows the lanes of travel, forcing travelers into a line, and causing sideswipes and/or ramming

  4. Allies = friends either ahead, ready to cover you as you pass, or reinforcements coming up from behind if card is reversed.

  5. Lesser Obstacle = Add 5 effort; terrain descriptor. Roll for: 1 straight and flat, 2 swurves and curves - vehicles that can corner roll ENERGY, 3 dunes or rocky ground - vehciles that are off-road roll ENERGY, 4 steep inclines - vehicles that can climb roll ENERGY, 5 water - vehicles that can float roll ENERGY, 6 jump - vehicles that can jump roll ENERGY

  6. lesser foe = weak enemies, ahead or behind, such as a swarm of bikes or dune buggies, a few gassers, a single assault truck

  7. role play foe = mechanical malfunction; enemy playing chicken; a problem that can’t be solved with driving or fighting; could also be foes using intimidation tactics and/or threats against prisoners or innocents

  8. trickster foe = stolen ally vehicles, hidden tire-spikes, grease slicks, chains, and tiger pits; in pursuit grapple cars with boarding parties

  9. supreme foe = plane or copter, battle-tractor, wolf pack of assault cars

  10. Greater Obstacle = Add 10 effort; Roll twice on the lesser obstacle description and combine; vehicles only roll ENERGGY if they can do both things listed.

  11. Deadly Peril = cliffs, pillars, mine field, artillery barrage, sandstorm, tornado; drive test to avoid. Results are deadly. Or add 1d10 effort to THE ROAD.

12.DOOM = encroaching firewall, the darkness of oblivion, the ravening armies of the damned; whatever it is, it’s invincible and it’s coming for you. Starts at the beginning of THE ROAD; rolls 1d6 effort every round; is not effected by obstacles. Don’t get caught!


This is a stream of consciousness post…probably won’t make sense.

Does each player play their own car? Or are they in a shared vehicle?

Cause if each has their own car…making the run for the pearly gates is kinda separate. And can lead to that player being out…or restarting…possibility there…it is purgatory.

This video for building a borough…seems like a concept for designing a track/route/loop.

But beyond that…the goal is to have a car to outrun/ beat the devil. You want to start with saying 5 car concepts. All variations on speed, armor, handling, and weapons, fuel storage, upgrade points.

Each settlement/town has perhaps one upgrade and 1or 2 repair types.

When a track/loop is laid out, towns are placed at random.
Each portion of track has a guardian set at the beginning of the game, but after the towns and the players choose their vehicles.

Every time a player leaves a town they roll/draw one obstacle. So if 3 are on the same stretch at the same time there is the Guardian, 3 obstacles, and each other to deal with. If 1 car is on that stretch it’s one guardian and one obstacle.

Guardians can be defeated but they respawn one at a time as Player characters die and restart at the starting line with their default car.

Instead of continuing on the track, each town leads to the pearly gates…track to the pearly gates is 3 points…no upgrades and one repair type per. The Devil always has the same Car…1 point lower on every stat than the best max of every car. So the best speed car maxed out might be 6 speed, devil has 5. Best armor might be 6 devil has 5 armor.

So if the best car has 4 fuel…devil has 3.

2 rounds in town to upgrade, 1 round to repair/refuel.

The way I imagine this is depending on the route, players might try an early run, or do a lap around first before the pearly gate run.

First player character to complete 3 rounds around the track without having to restart…gets an alternative upgrade that they can use in subsequent races regardless of car.

After a winner of the race is declared, new track.

Design goal make it 90% chance of death going against the Devil with a 0 win racer…down to 40% with a 5 win racer.

If multiple racers have multiple wins, the obstacles and guardians become weaker compared to the racers…

First one through the Pearly gates resets all players to 0.

So if a race takes 2.5 hours or so at the beginning stages and 1.5 hours or so at the end stages….8 or 9 races for a true winner…

Some depth there. Replayability, as the PCs will start targeting the leader as they get ready for a pearly gate run.

Dice pool vs Counter action would probably be the dynamic. My weapon vs opponents defense…

There are ways to make this simpler, or more complex…winning in certain cars give player access to certain racer upgrades. Like the best weapon vehicle might grant targeting system +2 dice on all weapon rolls or exploding dice (every 6 rolled adds another dice to that roll)

Or reserve exploding dice as an option for a situational win…win after car exploded at least once during race.

Scrounging rules might be…
Each town has a scrounge TN for items they don’t have. Roll your scrounge pool vs the TN that you get as many of that repair item as dice meets the TN.

Oh…let’s say each guardian has a set number of miles of track…if you have a car speed of 6 it means top speed is D20. Speed 2 is D6. Acceleration is how many gears you can go through in a round. Your obstacles are how many rounds you spend on that track of road…you use up handling and tires to offset obstacles. Breaks are used to drop gears by more than 1

So say a stretch is 50 miles, and you draw 4 obstacles you could shoot for the moon at d20,D20 break d10 and then figure out the rest.

Fuel is used each time you up shift more than once…D4 to D20 uses 4 fuel.

Vehicles on the same track can shoot at any other vehicle or the guardian.

1 point of Armor soaks one damage, or they are hitting fuel, tires, handling, ammo. Player getting hits choice.

Might be nostalgic but the song Thunder Kiss 65 is the feel I have for this.

Anyway a bunch of random ideas…would require cards for the towns and guardians, character sheets for driver and the car.
Action mechanics should probably be driving or shooting…can’t shift, hit nitro, or break if you shoot.
Nitro adds a D10 and burns a fuel…upgrade item.

Anyway stuff to think on.


Here is an idea basically stolen from Professor Dungeon Master since you are using playing cards (See this video):

  • When traveling between point A and point B, lay a deck of 52 cards in the middle of the table.

  • Decide the length of the road (Minimum of 2 cards, maximum of 12 cards). You could roll a d12 to determine the length if you like.

  • Draw that many cards and place them face down on the table.

  • Each suit represents a different type of encounter; Hearts = Friendly/Neutral. Diamonds = Chance for loot. Clubs = Neutral/Unfriendly Encounters. Spades = Hazards. Jokers (If using) are special encounters.

  • Give the road a difficulty number, with higher being harder. A road with a difficulty of 2 only has encounters on 2 cards, A road with a Difficulty of 5 has encounters on anything numbered 2-5. Face cards always have encounters and can be themed appropriately (Jack is a weaker encounter than King for example). Aces can be wild, count as the number 1, or count as a face card.

  • Players move along the cards, each one representing a stretch of road. As they move to the next card, flip it over and determine if there is an encounter.

Does that make sense to anyone else? I think it could be a neat little travel system.

Bonus Idea: Maybe a player Feat/Tag/Class or whatever is “The Gambler”. At the start of the session they draw five cards and keep them. They can replace any card in their hand for a card on the road but must do it without seeing what the road card is.

I want to play in this game BTW :slight_smile:


Thank you, Paxx. Seems like you may have slipped into making a little board game here, but you bring up a lot of good ideas. I think whether the party wants to pile into one rod, or have multiple vehicles is going to be up to them. Designing vehicle stats will be important - maybe each stat associated with a chunk? And developing rules and standards for settlements is important. I don’t think I’m going to worry about tracks in terms of hours or miles; I’m much more interested in narrative positioning and time. Great thinking though!


Was definitely using the deck for building the “track”, so I think a “card shark” special ability would be very much in keeping with the theme of the setting. I was thinking that the “length” of each track would be measured in EFFORT, and the type of die rolled is based on the qualities of the track. Rods that “can corner” would roll ENERGY on a swervey track/obstacle, whereas the rod that’s “fast” rolls energy on the straight-aways. I was thinking tracks would usually get 3 cards, and 1 additional card for every heart of effort. Haven’t figured out how or whether their should be a mechanic to determine route length.

Oh, I know you want to play. That’s why I’m posting this. I should probably make a google drive doc to make some rules.


Musically, I’m feeling like Mike Ness/Social Distortion, Stray Cats/Brian Setzer, The Blasters, Red Elvises, The Cramps, The Stooges. I have great boxed set called Rockin’ Bones which is a bunch of old Rock n’ Roll tunes from the '50s that ended up influencing punk and rockabilly scenes down the line. It’s possible that White Zombie is too new for me :sweat_smile:


Oh, you went very Punk/rockabilly in your music take, I’ll admit my driving music today is a lot of Jimmy Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin…and if a long drive a bit of anything Less Claypool or Jack White have been involved with.

But if trying to evoke the tape deck car era, when I wanted the power speed ratio to allow me to smoke my tires a tad when I was already doing 60 (I know I needed bigger rear tires), White Zombie, Rage against the machine, early Danzig and the Dead Kennedy’s ruled my tape deck…and ride the lightning tape…that was driving music…45 mile trips where done in 30 minutes if there was no traffic. But I admit I varied it a bit. Skunk N Nancy was a diversion. Suicidal Tendencies had that angst and mellowness for just after I ate.

I have a friend who strongly recommends The Cramps…fun, but they don’t click that drive hard and fast nostalgia for me. Probably a product of where and when we where at the time.


I feel like we’re making a deeply odd and totally awesome radio station. :metal:


I think the kids are calling em “Play Lists” today…but they don’t have the attention span to listen to an entire album more than once…
:man_judge: :rofl:


It’s gotta be all punk, rock-a-billy, psycho-billy, etc.

But you gotta be sure to put One Piece at a Time by Johnny Cash on that there playlist :slight_smile:


The devil’s car has three headlights - 2 on the left, one on the right, but so does an angel’s.