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Making Chariot Racing in the Hippodrome more fun

by Håvard

I'm not sure if Dawn of the Emperors even mentions Chariot Racing, but because it was a popular sport in the Roman Empire, I would assume they have this in Thyatis as well. There are actually rules for Chariot Racing, but these are found in HWR3 - The Milenian Empire. Maybe other cultures on Mystara has Chariot races as well?

Anyway, this seems like another of this activities that exist in the setting, but that players really have very little incentive to participate in. I could see players getting involved in two ways:
1) Spectator activities ( betting on horses etc)
2) participating in the horse races.

I don't really like it too much when gambling is involved in RPGs. It is usually just an excuse for players to get some cash without any real risk. Still, betting on one of the racing teams does seem like something some players might want to get involved with. Perhaps even more so if other PCs are participating in the actual race and their fellow PCs think they might make some money off that. I could see a lot of other social roleplaying also happening among the spectators, especially if the PCs are looking to participate in Chariot racing as part of an adventure storyline.

I said HWR3 has rules for Chariot Racing, but it is fairly bare bones with two skills: Chariot Racing (DEX) and Chariot Combat (DEX) as well some additional rules for War Chariots. I could see Racing Chariot being fitted with the kind of blades normally used for War Chariots (DMG 4d6 to opponents on foot), but I am not sure most Hippodrome Competitions would allow that. There are also spikes and blades designed to damage an opponents Chariot.

If we assume that each competition consists of 3 laps, then we can require checks for two lengths and two turns for each lap equalling 12 "rounds". Or if you want to speed things up, just have one roll for each lap or even one roll for the whole race, depending on how important you want to make the race within your gaming session. I think just making a series of skill rolls with the same skill is a bit boring though.

How to make things more interesting that just keeping your speed and making quick turns?
1) Attacking other Chariots. Unsportsmanlike, but in some cases the only way to win, or avoid being attacked yourself. I would allow normal attack rolls for this, but such attacks might cost you speed. If you are hit by another attacker, then I'd have the player make a saving throw vs. Paralysis not to get knocked off his Chariot. Knocked off characters may return to their Chariot, but may also be attacked on foot.
2) Avoiding obstacles: Obstacles can be permanent parts of the track like spinae (statues) or crashed chariots or even spectators, guards or other chariot racers on foot. Assuming you dont want to hit any of these, make the players roll wisdom checks or saving throws vs wand to avoid.
3) slippery ground may cause the driver to loose control. Increase difficulty of Chariot Racing skill check that round.
4) Other crazy features like fire bombs being trown on the track ala Assasins Creed Origins.

What are other ideas for making a Chariot Race a fun part of a gaming session?