[Post-Apocalyptic] Furious Roads - Ness's Story
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Furious Roads is a PWYW minimald6 roleplaying game by Marcus Burggraf inspired by the latest Mad Max adventure.  It does not so much as file off the serial numbers so much as it scratches them a little.  This is fine by me.

The core of the game are its terrific random tables, which  ensure every game is different.  And since I'm all about stuff like that, this is a natural fit.  And we'll even use some randomizers during play to make things even more unpredictable.  So let's start!

We need a hero(ine) about whom to tell a story.  Is this character a man?

(2[d10]) No

Okay, the character is a woman.  She'll need a name, so I'll pop over to Behind the Name and scare something up.  One sec.

Got it.  The generator there gave me five options and I picked Ness.  Short for Vanessa, according to the site.  Is can also be a variation on Neas or Neasa, which come from Irish mythology.  These things didn't influence my decision, but they're kind of cool regardless.

So what's Ness's thing?  The game begins with attributes, which can be generated or you can just assign a predetermined set of values.  We'll do that because the hard work is already done for me.

That gives us the following:

• Brawn -- 2
• Deftness -- 5
• Cunning -- 3
• Grit -- 4
• Allure -- 3
• Stuff -- 1

These seem like good numbers.  Ness is quick and resourceful, but not strong or gear-heavy.  When you think about it, Max Rockatansky is much the same way.  Outside of his car, what does he have?  Not a whole heckuva lot.  In The Road Warrior he doesn't even have shells for his shotgun.

Furious Roads calls its characters "crazies," and every crazie starts at level two with a "type," which is sort of a loose class.  Let's see what type Ness is.

7 = 4[d6]+3[d6]

It seems Ness is a Scamp.  Scamps are described as, "Raised by no one, barely human survivor from the wild."  Clearly we're talking about The Feral Kid sort of thing, but I'm not interested in playing that.  I'll take a different approach, which can be reflected in the Traits and Gear the character gets.

• vicious fighter
• in the right place

• bag of nasty tricks

Right now I'm seeing a character kind of like Molly Ringwald's Niki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone.  Except, you know, not quite as whiny.  She's not big and brawny, as we saw earlier, so she relies on traps and tricks to keep herself alive.  But get her in a corner...

Every piece of gear has a breaking point, determined by the roll of a single die.  Let's check on that bag of tricks.

1 = 1[d6]

That's actually the best you can get.  Whenever you use a piece of gear as part of a task, if the roll is equal to or lower than the breaking point value, that value increases by one.  So we're looking good, Ness.

And so it begins.  Where is Ness?  What is going on?  Who's there?  Let's find out with those awesome tables.

A threat...

6 = 3[d6]+3[d6]

Determined slavers!  Always bad news.  And they want to...

6 = 2[d6]+4[d6]

Eat Ness.  Oh, dear.

So what if we say these slavers sell the best stock and eat the rest?  If they can't be sold, a person can at least be dinner.

The slavers wear...

7 = 5[d6]+2[d6]

Bondage armor.  A classic.

And they're...

3 = 2[d6]+1[d6]

Eating grub.

Okay, I'm not sure what this means in the context of the game.  I'm going to guess this is what they're doing as we join the action, but it's possible Burggraf means something else.  We'll go with it.

Where is all this happening?  We get an initial location and a detail about that location.  The first part is determined by 2d6 and the second by 1d6.  I'll roll them all together.

12 = 1[d6]+6[d6]+5[d6]

We begin in an area of wandering dunes.  And according to the tables, "there is a lot of good stuff here to scavenge!"  Which makes sense if this is a slaver encampment.  Maybe that's how Ness ended up here in the first place, watching the cannibal slavers consume their "grub."

CAN SHE ESCAPE!?  We already have a central dramatic question, I guess.

But we need a supporting cast of survivors to liven things up.  Burggraf suggests rolling three times on the appropriate tables.  Like locations, these are determined by three dice.  I'll roll the whole set together.

13 = 5[d6]+2[d6]+6[d6]

14 = 5[d6]+5[d6]+4[d6]

14 = 4[d6]+5[d6]+5[d6]

So this gives us the following:
• Polecat -- Weak: They are not cut out to survive this hellish place
• Tyrant -- Bad Guy: They have an unclear but very nefarious agenda of their own
• Waster -- Wounded: They are wounded and in desperate need for help

I think we just got our central villain and a sidekick.  A "polecat" in Furious Roads is like those insane "witness me!" guys from Fury Road.  So imagine that for the time being.  A lithe, nimble alternative to Rictus Erectus.

The waster is a fellow prisoner, you think?  And if they're wounded, they're certain to become dinner.  Which makes me wonder if Ness is one of those characters with a heart of gold, like Max himself.

But the tables don't stop there!  We get names for these characters!

5 = 2[d6]+3[d6]

6 = 2[d6]+4[d6]

8 = 6[d6]+2[d6]

11 = 6[d6]+5[d6]

4 = 3[d6]+1[d6]

2 = 1[d6]+1[d6]

• Sprog Fury
• Count Eater
• Imperator Chain

Heck, I don't think we could have done much better here.  Count Eater (perfect for a cannibal) and his sidekick, Imperator Chain.  And the wounded companion survivor/prisoner, Sprog.

Oh, and we know something about these characters, too, especially Chain.  We know he's weak, but he's clearly physically strong.  That makes his weakness internal.  Maybe he's not as vicious as Count Eater would like.  Some tension there, whether visible or invisible.

And lastly the gang of slavers needs a name.  One more roll!

6 = 4[d6]+2[d6]

Slicing Crew?  I dig it.

And there we have it.  Furious Roads is underway with a small cast of characters, some initial drama and the stage set for action.  Catch you next time.
So here we are.  Ness is in deep trouble.  The Slicing Crew has her in one of their cages, and they're pulling out the weak or wounded to have for their grub.  It's a bad scene.

Separated from her bag of nasty tricks — because they'd never let her keep such a thing — she has only her wits and natural quickness to help her get out of this mess.  But I guess before we decide what she needs to do next, we ought to find out exactly what she's dealing with here.

Is she caged alone?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

Is this a bad "and"?

(1[d10]) No, and...

... it could work to her advantage.  Being isolated from the others as she is, there's no one to witness her escape attempt.

I think in the future I'm going to determine my own "and" and "but" results, though it seemed like a good idea to ask again at the time.  Anyway, moving on.

I wonder if there's anything in or around the cage she might use to affect an escape.  Hmm?

(5[d10]) No

That's no good.  So she's going to have to do this on her own.  Picking the lock is out of the question if she doesn't have anything to pick with, and she's not brawny enough to just bend the bars, so maybe she might squeeze between them?  She's a teenaged girl, after all, and not an adult male who'd have a harder time of it.

(5[d10]) No

Darn.  She's really in a quandary.  So if she can't get out on her own, she's going to need help.  And that's going to involve turning on the charm.  Though there's no telling if the Slicing Crew is interested in conversation, especially at mealtime.

In the next cage over, the injured Sprog is on the menu.  As one of the Slicers comes to fetch her out for preparation, Ness catches his attention.  Hey, she says, they don't want to eat Sprog.  And why not?  Because Sprog's got an infection due to her wound, and eating her meat might get everybody sick.  Sprog's going to need medicine or something if she's going to be safe to eat.

Does he buy this?  Here's where I'm a little unclear on how to engage with the rules.  You see, Furious Roads contends that the only time to roll dice is "when the outcome is possible, uncertain and a certain risk is involved."  Can we consider it risky for Ness to attempt this maneuver, since she's not the one in direct peril?  Or do we extend the peril to others, since if Ness blows this, Sprog is likely to be eaten?

I'm going to err on the side of the dice, largely because I can't determine a likelihood on the "get answer" table without some guidance.  Otherwise I'd just be guessing a probability.

So here we go.  In minimald6 one rolls 2d6 and looks for fives or sixes.  If there are any advantages or disadvantages conveyed by traits or gear, there are modifiers.  In addition, a Fortune Die is rolled to add a second layer of randomness.  We'll roll that separately and watch for a one or six.

8 = 4[d6]+4[d6]

3 = 3[d6]

Okay, that's not fantastic.  No love from the Fortune Die, either.

And I'm going to add some rules commentary here.  Stats, according to the rules as written (RAW), only affect rolls if they're especially high or especially low.  The problem here is that while an attribute of three, like Ness's Cunning, would have no impact, it's harder to judge if a two or four would be considered high since they're slightly below and above average, respectively.  One wonders if it's better to roll against the stat in question.  In that case I'd have looked for three or less on either of the dice to determine success.

Whatever the case, Ness just failed, and the cannibal slaver drags Sprog from her(?) cage.  Guess we should find out more about Sprog.

Is Sprog female?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... she's a teenager like Ness.  They were traveling together, and during the capture, when the Slicer Crew hit the caravan, Sprog caught a crossbow bolt.  Now it looks like she's going to meet her end if Ness doesn't do something.

And do something she does.  She goes in full-on wild-woman mode, howling and shrieking and generally carrying on.  Her intention is to disrupt the "grub" process.  What she can do then, well... she hasn't thought that far ahead.

Time for a roll.

3 = 2[d6]+1[d6]

1 = 1[d6]

Oh, crud.  Not only did she fail her attempt, but something REALLY bad just happened because the Fortune Die came up with a one.  I think we can kiss Sprog goodbye.

(5[d10]) Yes, but...

The sound of Sprog being butchered is something we won't dwell upon here.  Suffice to say it's ugly stuff, and not how I expected our other survivor to bite it.  But Ness's histrionics have gained Imperator Chain's interest, and he approaches.  It's logical to assume he has keys to everything around here, but it's also entirely possible he has Ness's bag of nasty tricks, too.  It's the sort of thing a cannibalistic maniac like him would want.  So let's find out.

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... he's carrying it in such a way that Ness might be able to get hold of it, provided he gets close enough.  And he is getting close enough, even if only to find out what she's carrying on about.  Her friend is dead, sure, but she has nothing to worry about.  She's young and reasonably good-looking — still going with that Molly Ringwald thing in my head — so she's much more valuable as a slave than as stew-meat.  When they get to the next settlement, they'll have no trouble finding an owner for her.

Ness hawks a big glob of spit at the man, which makes him angry enough to miss being robbed, assuming we make our roll here.  Fingers crossed.

8 = 5[d6]+3[d6]

6 = 6[d6]

Oh, wow!  We not only got a success, but we got an OUTSTANDING success, so Ness succeeded beyond her expectations.  Chain reaches through the bars and grabs hold of Ness, slamming her against her confinement.  It hurts, but not so much that she can't lift her bag from him.  And something else, too.  Maybe a weapon?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... it's something more.  A sharpened screwdriver that we know, and she doesn't, will start one of the slavers' vehicles.  Kind of a weapon/key.  She could even stab Chain with it right now, but it's better to bide her time.

And here's the thing: Chain is all bark and no bite.  He's weak, so he makes a show of bullying and cruelty, but it's only to cover up for what he's feeling inside.  So his "torture" doesn't last long, only long enough to satisfy his weakness.  Convinced he's established dominance, he leaves Ness to her inner suffering.  There's some long pig to butcher, after all.

Once he's gone, Ness has the opportunity she needs to jimmy the lock and get the heck out of there.  It's likely she could pull something like this off, given she's clearly got mechanical skills (that bag of tricks), so I'm going to forgo a formal roll and just consult the oracle.

(5[d10]) Yes, but...

One of the slavers happens to look in her direction while she's working, and spots what she's trying to do.  He raises the alarm!  Ness only has seconds!

She leaps from the cage the moment she gets the door open, and makes a mad dash for the slavers' vehicles, which are scattered near the campsite.  She wants something fast and she wants it right now.  Not even pausing to get the door open, she goes through the window — the glass was lost long ago — and into the ratty remains of a once-luxurious bucket seat.

I figure these vehicles are so old, and have changed hands so many times, that none of them have anything like a formal lock.  I mean, they're using screwdrivers to start the engines.  So we don't need to roll for that, and remember: she's "in the right place."  And that means when there's a question like this one, she's going to have a lucky break.  The engine roars!  The slavers are closing in!  Does she know how to drive!?

If we go with Ringwald in Spacehunter as our model, Ness is fifteen years old.  She probably wasn't alive for the Big Boom.  So... can she drive this thing?

(6[d10]) No, but...

...she can sure give it a shot.  With everything on the line, she can learn quickly.

Gears squeal as she jams the stick into position.  Luckily she doesn't stall the engine when she pops the clutch.  Rear-wheel drive kicks up a plume of choking dust, saturating the oncoming slavers, and then she's moving.  This car is like her: caged one second, and moving at top speed the next.

This is a race where the stakes are life or death.
You know, this whole time I've been assuming it's night, with firelight flickering and illuminating the horrible events of the story thus far.  But I guess I should have asked beforehand.  So... is it night?

(8[d10]) Yes

Well, there you have it.  So Ness has torn off with the slavers in hot pursuit.  A desperate race by headlights, because if the cars don't have lights we wouldn't be able to see what's going on.  Maybe not all the vehicles here have lights, but enough to make up the difference.  I don't know why it's bothering me enough to belabor the point.  There's light enough to see, okay?

Moving on.  We have the unskilled driver, Ness, behind the wheel of a slaver vehicle.  We don't know much about it, so we should figure that out now.  Like, for example, is this one of the slavers' interceptors, which attack helpless victims like hounds setting on a fox?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

It's their BEST interceptor.  As we've noted before, Ness is "in the right place."  The rightest place is in the top-performing car.  Whether this offsets the disadvantage of being an unskilled driver, we'll see.  Right now she's going flat out like a lizard drinking, jamming the accelerator and grinding through the gears to upshift.  She's seen it done, but she's never done it herself.  Sometimes that and fear are enough.

And there is much to fear, because the Slicing Crew is on her tail, as we mentioned.  But how many vehicles are we talking about?  Two?

(7[d10]) Yes


(7[d10]) Yes, but...

The third vehicle isn't really set up for pursuit.  It's the one that hauls the mobile slave cage, so it's not going to catch up to Ness's car any time soon.  However, if she were to slip up and that truck — because it'd have to be a truck, wouldn't it? — slammed into her, it's game over.  Inertia is a helluva thing.

I figure at least one slaver to a vehicle, but because some might have two, we'll use 1.5 as the multiplier.  But first we have to see if there are four vehicles following Ness.  We never did establish how large this slaver gang is, so this is critical information.  Show me four vehicles, oracle!

(1[d10]) No, and...

With an abrupt suddenness, the slavers are short a car.  I see this taking place in that trackless flatland where the classic George Miller films take place, so there's not a whole lot to wrap your car around, but driving fast at night is never a good idea even in the best of conditions, so an ill-timed dip in the road, combined with some slipshod handling and one of the pursuit cars spins out, leaving Ness with only two vehicles with which to contend.  This is objectively good, but she's a long way from safe.  The chase is on, and these guys are a lot better at running down prey than Ness is at avoiding capture.

The brawn of these vehicles is probably not too different, and mechanically Furious Roads draws no distinction between cars, trucks or anything in between.  Two traits for a vehicle need to pull from a provided example list, or one could come up with something original.  I'll pull from the list for expediency's sake.

So Ness is driving an interceptor, which we established.  Actually, that can count as a trait, don't you think?  And it has tire armor, sheets of metal welded over the wheel wells to protect against sharp objects wielded with bad intentions.  So at least the Slicing Crew won't be taking out her tires during this chase, unless they get lucky.

It doesn't take much imagination to see the vehicles Count Eater and Imperator Chain are using.  I see Count Eater on the prison hauler, raging at the escaping girl.  Meanwhile, Chain pursues in a sidecar-equipped bike, a great wobbling attack pole like one of those old whip antennas you'd see on cars back in the day.  Powerful machines well-suited to their roles as slaver tools.  They're fast, but we've established that Ness is driving their best car.  The question is: can she take advantage of what she's got?

Ness uses all the cunning she can muster in an attempt to outrun and outmaneuver her captors.  Engine roaring, dust spraying through metal mesh where the windshield used to be.  Chains howls, audible even over the gasoline-fueled racket.

8 = 2[d6]+6[d6]

6 = 6[d6]

Incredible luck.  Ness couldn't save Sprog, but she may very well succeed in saving herself.  A success, and a six on the Fortune Die, indicating another phenomenal achievement.

Ness doesn't just get an edge, she gets AWAY.  The engine under that hood is a powerful beast, and it car outpaces anything else the slavers have.  Clinging to the wheel like it's a life-preserver, Ness grits her teeth and squints her eyes and shouts to the RPM accompaniment.  Fast, faster and, ultimately, fastest.  She tears away from them and plunges into the night.  When she figures out how to douse the headlights, she is even more of a ghost.

Now she needs to know where to go and what to do.  She's a wanderer, and it's not like there are any go-to destinations anymore.  Did Ness have something in mind before the slavers wrecked the caravan of which she and Sprog were a part?

(1[d10]) No, and...

... what's more there are some places that really wouldn't want to see Ness again.  She's a thieving soul who fights dirty and doles out nasty surprises from that bag of tricks she carries.  No wonder no one wants her around.  So her options are limited by her past experiences.

So let's generate three potential spots and see which strikes our fancy.

7 = 6[d6]+1[d6]

4 = 1[d6]+3[d6]

4 = 2[d6]+2[d6]

• a cracked mountain
• a smoking fort
• a ruined factory

None of these sound particularly appealing, but a ruined factory might prove to be the right kind of hiding place.  Getting her bearings by moonlight and starlight, Ness heads for this safe haven, hoping that's what it'll be when she gets there.

Is it?

(4[d10]) No

Uh-oh.  So let's see what she has to contend with here.

6 = 1[d6]+5[d6]

9 = 4[d6]+5[d6]

9 = 3[d6]+6[d6]

9 = 3[d6]+6[d6]

Disfigured nomads who want to butcher people!  They wear filthy robes and they're making weapons.

And Ness is driving right into their lair.
Ness has had a friend murdered, stolen a vehicle and fled from cannibal slavers.  Now, unbeknownst to her, she's headed for more trouble than any teenaged girl ought to have to contend with.

She approaches a ruined factory, unaware of the violent, disfigured nomads making weapons inside.  The question is: did they hear the sound of her engine?  Especially since she has a tendency to grind gears frequently and loudly.

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

... she could get the drop on them if she knew they were there.  Seems she's caught them sleeping, and they don't have a watcher posted.  Sloppy.

Though she doesn't know what awaits her, Ness isn't stupid.  She takes a moment or two to stop, look and listen.  It's quiet.  I won't say TOO quiet, but quiet.  Because they're not looking out for her, there's not much for her to see.

(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

And so she doesn't see anything.

What then?  Concealing the vehicle — it's probably generous to call transportation in this world by the name "car" or "truck," given the piecemeal nature of mechanics — is job one.  There's plenty of wreckage and junk strewn around, so that makes for effective hiding.  Right?

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

... she's able to find a spot that'll provide for a quick escape if/when the time comes.  Once again, her Trait of "in the right place" works to her advantage.

With the vehicle concealed, she creeps into the factory to find a hiding place for herself.  Hopefully she'll be able to sleep once she finds a good spot.  But there's a high probability that she'll run into the nomads, because they'll have occupied those spaces themselves.

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

... they get the drop on her.  Leaping from the shadows, wielding a piece of sharpened metal as a makeshift knife, its "handle" wrapped in old rags, a nomad tries to gut her with a surprise blow.

9 = 6[d6]+3[d6]

Aargh!  A success for the nomad!  Though this is a situation where Furious Roads' abstract nature works in Ness's favor.  Every time someone scores a success in combat, it applies a point of Stress, so a reasonably strong character isn't going to die from a single blow.  Ness, for example, has a Stress of 6, so she takes the cut along the arm.  The metal rips through the sleeve of her jacket, drawing blood and a cry of panic.

Ness's Stress is now 1/6.  Do more nomads join the fray?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

More than one?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes +Twist: Physical event / Hinders the hero

Two more nomads surge from the broken shadows of the factory wielding their own handmade weapons.  Ness turns to flee, loses her footing, and pitches into what at first seems like a large divot taken from the floor, but what is actually a hole leading to an underground level!  The impact takes the wind right out of her lungs (Stress 1), and the sudden impenetrable darkness is a terrifying hindrance.

Are we done adding nomads?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

... in fact there are MORE than I initially figured.  I was thinking a half-dozen total, but the dice have spoken.  I wonder how bad this is going to get.  Are we talking about more than two additional nomads?

(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

... it seems the entire nest of them has been riled up by her arrival.  I'm going to put the cap at ten because we're talking about one girl who's not exactly a combat monster.  I can be a harsh GM, but there are limits.  Unwinnable situations aren't fun.

So we have a swarm of these nomads, men and women, scrambling to pursue Ness.  Some drop through the hole in the floor.  Others seek for the staircase leading downward.  Ness, for her part, feels frantically for a place to hide or a way to flee.  But the dark.  The DARK.

(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

... she runs directly into the very first nomad she encountered.  And this is when she finally remembers she's carrying the "key" she stole!  It's better than nothing, and she has "vicious fighter" as a Trait, so here we go!  In the spooky darkness, she lashes out.

Normally I'd give her an advantage die, since she has an applicable Trait, but the darkness is a hindrance, so that subtracts a die.  It's a wash, basically.  And here we go.

6 = 3[d6]+3[d6]

Ness lashes out, trying to connect, but it's too dark and the nomad too quick.  He strikes back.

7 = 1[d6]+6[d6]

Not another success!  This isn't going well.  If we count the Stress taken from her fall, Ness is now at 3/6 and bleeding from two wounds.  The nomads are closing in.  Is she surrounded yet?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

She could keep fighting, but it's hopeless.  There's too many and they're too well-armed for even a vicious fighter to defeat them all.  The question is: since their goal is to butcher their prey/enemies, is that what comes next?  Should I leave it up to the readers to decide?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Choose well.
Yeesh! Give Ness a chance, GM!  Angel 
The nomads were asleep when she showed up, I think they must've had a decent meal lately and are somewhat lethargic. Maybe they capture her to do some dangerous task they themselves are loathe to do. Some ideas:

- Maybe they found something of value that requires a bomb defusal or something, and since she's light fingered, and if it does go off, they'd still have her bits to eat.
- Maybe there's some kind tech they seek in a ruined rumor-haunted sand-blasted city, and every attempt they've made to enter before has ended in mysterious death and destruction. While they might be loathe to lose a bite to eat, Ness is small and quiet and certainly has the skills to succeed where they've failed. They could tag Ness with some kind of tracking device and send her to do it. If she succeeds, the treasure is worth more, and she'll be rewarded from lunch to slave duty. 
- Maybe something else entirely. The MAG button might help with that.

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All good suggestions! I'm going to steal one of them, and let Ness live another day.

I'm never sure what to do when this happens because, on the one hand, I want the character to survive long enough to do cool things but, on the other hand, I don't want to make the mechanics meaningless and give them impenetrable plot armor. It's a tough call sometimes.
Thumbs Down 
On paper, Ness would be dead right about now.  In practice, she lives.


Just when it seems as though Ness isn't going to make it, and these violent nomads will take her literally apart, they stay their hands.  A cry rings out from one of them in a language Ness doesn't know.  Above her, dimly lit in the ragged circle of the hole in the ceiling, another nomad stands with his hands raised.  He's clearly telling the others not to kill her, but why?

At this point, fellow user Jingo has some suggestions.  I'm going to lift one of them and proceed from there.

The nomads round her up, confiscating the sharp screwdriver/key.  Heedless of her bleeding wound, they drag her upstairs and throw her in a corner, where dark-faced nomads keep watch.  Then nothing happens.  At all.  For hours.

Ness can't bring herself to sleep, because she's sure they'll kill her if she closes her eyes for even a second.  But exhaustion does set in.  Despite everything, she slips away, and when she opens her eyes again, it's dawn.  She's better able to see the rotting and rusting interior of the factory chamber where she's held.  And she also has an opportunity to observe the nomads, men and women, who wear their filthy rags around their bodies so securely that even their faces are shrouded.  No wonder Ness couldn't make out the features of the leader.

After a time, one of them brings Ness a hubcap with some charred meat on it.  Thankfully it's not HUMAN meat.  She can tell because there's still bits of skin and fur attached to the slender cut.  This might turn us off today, but this is the world of Furious Roads, and people eat whatever they can eat just as fast as they can eat it.  Though some are clearly more diverse in their tastes than others.

A while passes before she sees the leader again.  He comes to her and crouches in front of her, watching her with glittering eyes from behind the masking cloth.

What is this guy's name?

3 = 1[d6]+2[d6]

"Lord Colossus," the leader says, pointing at himself.  He doesn't seem especially colossal, but who knows where the name came from?


She learns that Colossus leads what he calls a "troop," like they're chimps, or something.  They wander from place to place seeking salvage, but they've settled here in a more permanent way in order to... what?  He doesn't say.  What he DOES say is that he wants Ness to do something for him.  If she does it, she'll go on breathing and could even have a place among them.  If she doesn't, they can have the desert take her bones.  They don't eat people, but cannibalism isn't uncommon, as we've learned.

Ness thinks working with them seems like a great idea.

Colossus takes her with him.  No, he's definitely not colossal.  With a torch, they descend into the same impenetrable darkness which swallowed her the night before, only now they have the grease flame to see by.  Eventually they come to a collapsed area and Colossus beckons her to come closer and peer through gaps in the broken concrete and twisted rebar.

What she sees is what looks like a pair of huge steel snails, though much of the rest of the area is shrouded in shadow.  Colossus explains that these things are called "turbines," and they were used to make lights and other conveniences.  They're long dead, though, just like the world in which Ness lives.  However, Colossus says, they're loaded with copper and the nomads want it.  Clearing the debris is too much of a task, and doing so might collapse the lower level still further.  Ness, however, can fit through the tighter gaps and get what they need.  So long as the copper keeps coming, so does food.  And so does safety.

How can she refuse a deal like that?  Free food and shelter?  She may be the captive of bloodthirsty nomads, but that doesn't mean the situation is all bad.  And so she becomes a new "employee," if not a member of the troop.  Not yet, anyway.  Though she wonders if she'd have to wear the same unwashed robes as the rest of them because, seriously, they smell bad.


Work starts quickly.  They're wasting no time.  Ness gets the feeling that they don't like being here, or maybe it's because they're used to moving around and no amount of stationary living appeals to them.  Whatever the case, they give her primitive iron tools to disassemble the turbines and get at their guts, then send her in.  She can barely get through the broken pieces blocking the way, and the whole time she's squirming through, she's thinking the slightest collapse would crush her.

The job itself isn't that complicated, as she discovers.  The turbines have a hard steel shell, but much of the copper wiring is exposed as part of the design, so she can use the cutters they gave her to start chewing through the required metal.  As things go on, it'll grow harder, but for now it's a straightforward task.

Does anything untoward happen on the first day?

(9[d10]) Yes

Is it related to what she went through before getting in this predicament?

(9[d10]) Yes +Twist: PC / Alters the location

She doesn't even hear the engines approaching, but when the explosion comes, there's no way to miss it.  Distant echoes of screaming and shouting.  Then... silence.  Hiding in this chamber with only a torch for company, Ness gets the impression that she is very much alone.  The nomads are gone, just like that.

This is what it means to live on the furious roads, folks.  Death comes swiftly, and life isn't fair.  If anything, it's downright sadistic.

She hears the voices of men and women calling to each other.  One rings through even at this remove: Count Eater.  The cannibal slavers have found her.  Maybe they tracked the interceptor she drove to get here, or maybe they ran across the factory on their own, but it's clear they've stormed the place and wiped out the nomads or driven them away.  Ness needs to get out here and somewhere new in a hurry.

But it's too late for that.  A cry sounds, and Ness realizes she's been spotted through the collapsed passageway.  She's safe on this side for the time being, but the cannibals tracked her even here.

She has to get out.  But where?  How?

Is there a way out of here besides going back the way she came?

(5[d10]) No

That's no good.  Though it takes long enough to search for Ness's torch to dwindle, and for the cannibals to begin dismantling the wreckage between her and them.  They don't give a hoot about whether the passage will collapse.  They want her, and they're going to get her even if they have to bring the whole place down.  Count Eater must be some kind of angry.

Do they get through before Ness's torch runs out?

(2[d10]) No

Light fades as the torch begins its final minutes of life.  The cannibal slavers continue their singleminded effort to get through to Ness.  They are ANGRY, and it's not much surprise, given what she did.  Slavers don't take kindly to losing merchandise, and especially when said merchandise runs off with one of their prized machines.  Ness imagines the terrible fate ahead of her.  As bad as Sprog's?  Maybe.

Does the passageway collapse?

(1[d10]) No, and...

The cannibals make it through faster than expected.  Ness's torch has barely gone out when they break through.  Hollering, they surge into the space where the turbines lay, their own torches casting evil shadows.

Ness has a chance here.  There's so much junk in the place, hiding spots abound, and the darkness increases the chance of successfully concealing herself.  On the other hand, there are only so many places to hide, and the cannibal slavers know she's in there.  Hiding is only going to buy time.  Of course, NOT hiding means they're going to find her for certain, and right away.

Taking into account the advantages of hiding in the almost total darkness, and Ness's quite useful trait of "in the right place," she's going to look for cover.  Does she do so?

(9[d10]) Yes

She finds a spot between two fallen struts, which form a sort of tiny cave.  There she makes herself as small as she can, hiding away as the cannibal slavers begin their search.  The recognizes Imperator Chain's voice commanding the others.  So many noble titles among these vermin of the wastelands.

These are men very used to looking for hiding prey.  But the skill with which Ness has found her spot makes it less likely they'll find her.

11 = 6[d6]+5[d6]

But they find her.  Boy, do they find her.  Dragged kicking and screaming from her concealment, she's tied with rope before she even gets a chance to fight back.  Not that there's much left for her to do.

The slavers drag her back into the light, where Chain crows about the victory against the nomads, and the retrieval of the runaway Ness.

Have they found usable specimens among the nomads?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... among them is "Lord" Colossus.  Now stripped of their filthy robes, the nomads look less intimidating than they did previously, though they are scarred and tough denizens of the wastes.  Ness is younger than most, but she's well on her way to becoming like them.  This world toughens when it doesn't break and, even then, the breaking comes inevitably.

Loaded onto vehicles, including the one stolen by Ness, and one stolen from the nomads, the cannibal slavers fetch Ness and the other captives back to their encampment.  Once there, Chain takes particular pleasure in locking Ness into the same cage from which she escaped the night before.
A day passes.  Ness and the other prisoners are treated like animals, tossed slop to eat in their food trays.  Chain takes particular pleasure in tormenting Ness, down to literally poking her with a stick in her cage.  It's clear he's had his ego bruised by her escape, and little men turn into bullies when they're insecure.

Ness decides then and there that she'll kill him if she gets the chance.

We know some of the nomads were taken, so we need to find out how many.  I tend to break amounts into "a couple," "a few," or "a bunch."  In practical terms, that's two of whatever, three to four of whatever, and five-plus of whatever.  Seeing as how that's the case, are we dealing with a couple?

(6[d10]) Yes, but...

... there are more on the way.  The slavers have to pry the nomads loose of their hiding spots, and that takes time.  They're dug into that old facility like ticks.

This gives Ness time to figure out a course of action.  As long as the cannibal slavers are concerned with grabbing more merchandise, they can't turn their full attention to Ness and the others.  Let's grab some quick info about those nomads.  Male/female, young/old, that sort of thing.  We'll split ten-siders for each question.  And for both of the ones already in the encampment.

3 = 3[d10]

5 = 5[d10]

6 = 6[d10]

3 = 3[d10]

So we have a young male and a young female.  We'll figure out names later, assuming they survive this ordeal.  Given what happened to Sprog, there's no guarantee of survival.  Except maybe for Ness, and only for the time being.  Chain wants her alive for torture now, but eventually he's going to tire of the game and Ness will become dinner.

The key thing now is escape.  Without a way out, Ness is stuck waiting for death.  So let's run through her options: picking the lock, presuming she finds a way to do so, squeezing through the bars, or trying to use her wits.  So basically the same as last time, except she's unlikely to be so lucky.

Does she have any way to pick the lock?

(2[d10]) No

Can she squeeze between the bars?  She's slim, after all.

(6[d10]) No, but...

... she can get far enough between them to reach the thick rope securing the cage in place.  That rope is attached to a spike embedded in the ground, and with a decent-sized, durable spike she could conceivably pry the bars wide enough so she CAN escape.  It's a solid plan, presuming she can pull it off.

Normally I wouldn't roll for something as basic as pulling a spike out of the ground, but the rules specify dice ought to be rolled "when the outcome is possible, uncertain and a certain risk is involved."  This fits all three criteria.  She can do it if she's strong enough and fate is with her, failure is still possible, and if she doesn't pull this off, eventually she's destined for the dinner plate.

So let's roll.  Ness grabs the rope in both hands and...

7 = 6[d6]+1[d6]

A success!  Remember we're looking for fives or sixes.

It takes a few hard tugs, but she's able to dislodge the spike.  It's long enough to get the job done, provided more luck and enough leverage.  Hand over hand, she reels in the spike until she has it in her hands.  Crude and iron and solid, it's almost the length of her forearm.  This will do nicely.

She doesn't have the upper-body strength to use this thing like a pry-bar, but she can get it wedged into place and then push with both legs.  This is what she does.

7 = 4[d6]+3[d6]

Try as she might, she can't get the bars to budge.

Do the other prisoners notice what she's doing?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... one of them has a suggestion.  The sides of the cage are going to be the best-reinforced of the whole construction, but the top and bottom are less likely to be made as sturdy.  No one expects somebody to try to break through the TOP of a cage, right?  They're always going to try for the sides.  Whatever the case, it's worth a shot.

7 = 3[d6]+4[d6]

Dang it!  Ness can't catch a break in this game.  Does she attract the attention of the slavers?

(9[d10]) Yes +Twist: Emotional event / Changes the goal

Of course they notice.  This is that kind of session, when nothing goes right.  And maybe it's that kind of game, because even Max couldn't escape the War Boys right away in Fury Road.

One of the slavers sees what Ness is doing and notifies Imperator Chain.  He comes running, enraged at Ness's second escape attempt.  But this time he's got her, because she's not going anywhere.  However he's smart enough to know she's going to keep trying to break out so long as she has breath in her body.  Bars alone will not hold her.  So he's going to use psychological bonds.

He knows Sprog was a friend of hers, based on her distress at Sprog's death and consumption.  So he also knows Ness has a soft heart for a crazie.  Consequently, he drags one of the nomads from their cage.  Is he going to kill and eat this one, too!?

(1[d10]) No, and...

... his plan is far more sinister.  He's going to keep this nomad close.  Actually, let's find out which one it is.  As before, we'll split a ten-sided die as male/female and see how it goes.

5 = 5[d10]

It's the guy.  Let's give him a name:

6 = 3[d6]+3[d6]

9 = 3[d6]+6[d6]

Thankfully we don't have another lofty title to contend with and just have a weird name: Smoke Foot.  So called because his feet are permanently stained black from some encounter with a wasteland hazard.

Anyway, Chain is going to take very good care of Smoke Foot.  In fact, Smoke Foot is going to become Chain's best friend in the whole world.  And if Ness so much as THINKS about trying to escape, it's Smoke Foot who'll suffer.  He won't be Chain's friend anymore.

And people don't want to be on Chain's bad side.
I'm rooting for Ness's second escape, but I don't envy her chances. Thanks for striking the proper tone for this kind of tale. It's dark, and darkly humorous in places, but it's not gore-splattered horror.

(Enjoying my content? Want to show your support? Consider joining my Patreon at Roll, Ponder, and Play!)

Glad you're enjoying it. I'm letting the dice pretty much dictate where things go and how they develop, rather than making all the decisions. Keeps me on my toes, though occasionally it does (as we've seen) lead to no-win scenarios for our heroine.

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