These are some races you can have in Rumble City.
You can roll one, choose one, or better yet, just make up your own with what you have.
They wander out of the dessert in rambling clouds. Army-Men. Mindless military homunculi with welded-on guns. These aren’t zombies. They are not quite machines. They look a bit like army people used to look, but can’t put down their guns. Or, in fact, shoot them at all. Their features are all wrong. No-one knows where they came from or why. It’s Rumble City, no-one cares. Some think there’s a crashed alien forge out there in the boiling sand. Maybe it’s trying to conquer us. Maybe it’s begging for help. Whatever it is must be automatic or dumb because it keep crapping out these rambling crowds of ineffectual animated army-drone-clones. We keep smashing them up. Then they come back.
Spread as many army-men or other figures in as many positions and places as possible. Try to make them look like a real army. Begin your cars at opposite sides. At the end of your turn you can move ten army men anywhere one inch. Whoever blasts or smashes the most army men wins.
2. Suicide Louise.
Can’t take it any more? FINE. Go out into the Terminal Hate Zones where every rock and tree loathes life. Even getting there is hard. Set a course through the crackling infra-tech. Make Bad-Credit-Cliff your finish line. But you better beat those other bipolar racers to the edge. Only the first successful crash from Bad Credit cliff earns entry to the afterlife. Everyone else mysteriously lives. And is banned from racing for life!
Make a long winding track with a cliff at the end. Make every piece of scenery dangerous. Name a particular crew-member whose race this is. Think of a really good reason they ‘JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE’. (Having to live in Rumble City is a ‘good reason’) They have to go over the edge. Other crew can try jumping off before the fall, of just not going to the race. If someone gets killed on the track, either by murder or accident, that doesn’t count. Only the first car counts. The jumper is world-famous and every baby born in rumble city that day will be named after them. Everyone else mysteriously survives whatever happened to them and is mocked in Rumble City for the rest of their lives. All Fanimals are lost.
Really tall buildings are dull. You can’t jump off them and there’s no ramp access to the upper floors. The racers of Rumble City have solved all that. They have built vast ramps that bridge the business-district scrapers twenty floors up. Elevators have been re-engineered to take up cars. Every accessible window on the non-racing floors above is full of cheering crowds. Just make sure you make the turn.
Make a series of large squares. These are the floors of the skyscrapers. Draw a ring track inside each square. Each car must circuit this once before it leaves. Link the building floors together in a ring with marked-out narrow bridges. Remember in Rumble City these bridges are twenty stories above the ground. Cars must enter each building, circuit the in-building track, then take the bridge to the next, building. First to finish wins. Don’t come off the track.
4. Oil-Tanker Escape Jump
Rumble City bay is full of huge decaying ships. When the world was going wrong everybody on earth bought all the gas they could right here. Now the big tankers drift slowly in the oily muck. Each one sized like multiple football fields, they form a shifting floor of steel above the oozing sea. Perfect for racing on! The only problem is, no bridges, so the racers have to jump from ship to ship. Decks have been flattened and ramps installed to make the jumps survivable. Probably.
Get as many big boxes (or equivalent) as will fit in the racing area. Give each box a tanker name. (i.e. the SS Salami) Draw the names on the sides of the box. Leave one to three inches between each tanker. Put tracks on each one and a ramp on the deck aimed at the closest ship. Make sure they link up (or don’t). A racer must circle each ship at least once to build up the momentum for the jump to the next ship. First racer to the last ship wins. (And is helicoptered home.) Other racers must find their own way off the tanker.
For extra strangeness, put ramps everywhere and have the tankers move randomly, one inch per turn.
5. Valley of the Dolls
It’s out there, beyond the atom-screens and the alien receivers in the sand. The cage of the murderous cyber-things called ‘dolls’. They are low on power now, it’s said, the light of slaughter glows dimly in their eyes. But everyone remembers the terror they caused in that last insane war before the end. Everyone holds the image of those beautiful, still features stained with blood. Only the bravest racers dare the valley where the dolls stand dully ranked like standing stones. Winning the race is notable but even living through it earns you cred.
Mark out a narrow, twisting valley with the finish line at the end. Fill it with as many ‘dolls’ as you can find. Rank them up like silent statues. Racers must slalom between the dolls to make it through. If any car touches a doll for any reason, it activated. They are looming cybernetic death machines that can tear cars apart with their bare hands and always seek to eat the crew one-by-one. They will chase any nearby car but will not leave the valley.
6. Midnight in Death Valley
As if Death Valley wasn’t dangerous enough! You want to race there at night?
Mark out a long, narrow valley course. Use no terrain. Inform players the track is dark so anything could be there. Obstacles may look up out of the blackness without warning. After their turn, each player must stand on the edge of the playing area and throw a piece of terrain onto the track. If the terrain hits a car that player that threw it loses a turn. If it damages a car, the thrower is disqualified.
7. The Atom Screens
Everyone in Rumble City can see the deranged flickering of the Atom Screens on the edge of town. They say the screens are why the city still exists. That, somehow, they protected Rumble City when things fell. Only the crazed, religious, or indifferent dare to race beneath the screens. They fear the faces of the alien gods that loom through from shattered realities. These tears in space and time exhibit impossible things and issue cryptic inarguable commands. It’s claimed the commands of the Atom Screens can speak the future of the racer they address. But if there is a system to it, no-one knows it now.
Mark out a simple track in front of, or beneath, a television at maximum volume. Turn off every other light in the room. On each players turn, change the channel randomly. The first coherent sentence from the screen must be treated by the racer as a direct order. If the player finishes their turn without a coherent sentence being heard, lucky them.
8. Slime Tank Slalom
Sometimes children go the glistening tanks of intelligent slime in rows. They gaze into the rippling ooze and watch ghost faces form inside. This fearsome liquidised entity must have been trapped in ranked crystal prisons for a good reason. No-one remembers what it was. Now the tanks are good mainly for extra-dangerous racing. Sometimes the tanks are cracked and slime escapes. Who cares? Call it parole.
Build a slalom race in which the poles are glasses or Perspex cups. Wine glasses are dangerous and fun. Half-fill the glasses with water or (with prep) jelly. Run the race as usual. If any car impacts or touches a glass, tip the glass over. Any pools remaining on the racing surface will cause a car to skid of touched. No cleaning up till someone wins.
9. Alien Transmissions.
Somewhere in the silent zones, tiled monoliths glow with a source-less inter-dimensional light. Each strange and luminous shard stands vertically facing another of its kind. The transmitters can be activated, but not used. No-one in Rumble City knows the code they speak. Though its effects are chilling, the means of its action unseen.
For this game, everyone will need a mobile phone. Arrange the phones around the edge of the playing area, facing inwards, as far from each other as possible. Place each players car before their phone. When a car impacts directly with an opposing players phone, the owner of the car must pick up the phone, bring up a random number and hand it to its owner. The owner of the phone must call that number and explain, truthfully, exactly why they have called. Any player too embarrassed to make the call is knocked out. Last player in the game wins.
10. The Towers of Change
Money in Rumble City is mainly symbolic (See prizes). There are no mints, but piles of giant sculpted disks erupt from the heart of playing fields and volcanic zones. The disks will soon sink back into the ground and disappear. The only way to catch them is to smash them down. At speed.
In racing cars. If this is not achieved the economy of Rumble City will collapse. So this is the race of a responsible citizen. It’s like a nine-to-five.
Get as much loose change as you can. Stack it in as many piles as possible. Make the piles high. Put them all over the playing area. When a car smashes into a change pile, the change is theirs. The spot where the pile was, is now a magmatic bog. There is a countdown to this game. 3d10 minutes. Then the piles collapse back into the volcanic zones. Whoever has the most money at the end wins.
11. Canyons of Crime.
No-one knows what a criminal is but from the films it looks like fun. The most important thing seems to be a chase. Every crime in Rumble City is built around the getaway. There are special places arranged for crimes to happen. The canyons are deep, dark and seemingly without end. If necessary, side-routes are walled off to prevent early escape. To be a cop in rumble city you need 1. A flashing light. 2. The ability to shout “police, stop!” 3. Possibly a badge.
The Canyons of Crime are inaccessible, you can play this one behind the couch. Or tip the bed over. The race starts at a building designated ‘bank’. One racer is designated criminal, they have the loot. They get a head start. The other half are cops. When the criminal is caught, they are knocked out. Whoever did it has the loot and is the new criminal. This continues until a time limit is reached or no cops are left.
12. Coat Mountain.
The crags of Coat Mountain can always be seen from the cracked windows of Rumble City. An ever-shifting ripple of waving stone. Looming from the desert plain, shifting its position, but always the same distance away. Still whenever seen but never the same shape from day to day. As if it were an animal stalking the town, waiting for it to blink Hiding in its folds, the only beings crazed enough to live there and survive. The Pocket People. Warped and transformed by long exposure to its woven tombs. Emerging one by one, babbling impossible tongues. Firing scratch-built jezzails at any who come close.
Drop your coat in a heap in the middle of the racing area. This is Coat Mountain. Your track will be one circuit of the edge. If longer tracks are needed, more coats may be used. Any car that touches Coat Mountain must roll damage. On every turn of combat, one of the following must take place. A Pocket Person may emerge. (They may only come out of the coat pockets where they live.) All Pocket Person may move. All Pocket People may fire at whatever they see. (Pocket People count as level one snipers.) At the end of their turn, a player decides which of the events will take place. The next player enacts that event before they being their turn.
13. Escape The Vault.
The hugeness of the Vault is beyond the comprehension of man. Some say it has its own weather systems. Some say the evils of lost ages are preserved there, far from the light of the sun. Some claim giants walk there underground, or strange beasts track across its level plains. A cyclopean cavern, city-sized, yet hidden like a sinkhole beneath the city streets. Its half-mile high arched ceiling holds up Rumble City. Just. One day everything will collapse into its dark embrace. Maybe tomorrow.
There’s only one thing to do. Built giant oil-drills, install racing cars in shielded nodules at their tips, burrow them into the Vault, release the cars and time them as they race back towards the surface.
In this race the Vault is the darkest, most cluttered, deepest and most disused room or cellar you have. Place the cars at the point furthest from the door. Add to the room whatever else you have that is strange. Race to the doorway or stairs.
14. Pages and Rages.
Out on the plains of Time, the jumbled words stretch on out of your sight. Mixed-up blockmarks of nonsensical phrases written in the strata of the desert stone. It looks as if they’ve always been there, embossed in the rock. But they change too quickly when no-one’s watching. And sometimes, the word-traps shut. Mounds of ancient earth peel over like a vice, crushing what’s within. These marks collapsed from a higher reality during the events at the end of the world. Ideo-shrapnel embedding itself in the skin of the world. Only constantly chanting the blockmarks of that zone will let you pass. The Book-Bedouin roam there, minds blitzed from the endless verbal static they must chant. But it’s a fun place for a race.
To race across the plains of Time, make a racetrack of open books, lying face-up on the ground. No-one can leave the surface of a book. Any car doing so will be considered destroyed. At the beginning of their turn, the player must look at the lines their car is upon. They must chant, without pause, all the lines connected to their car. If they do this, they are safe. If anyone fails to chant, the book will close, crushing the car. (Avoidance may be rolled.) Books will re-open in d4 turns and may be raced across freely in the meantime.
15. Playing Card Tar Sands
The sands of La Concorde ooze tar. Thick, black, vicious and a handy source of unrefined oil. The tar forms a crackling semi-permeable crust that sucks down anything heavy or slow. It’s nearly-impossible to race on. Nearly. But someone found a way. Huge rectangular plates of aluminium have been dumped in the tar sands. They can support the momentary weight of a car, if it travels at high speed. Over the years they have been graphitised by local youths.
Take a pack of playing cards and spread them over or around the track in the way that seems most interesting to you. But not too far apart. During the game, any car that finishes or ends its turn on a playing card is safe. If a car did not either finish or end its turn on a card, it starts to sink. The crew may still successfully abandon ship, if they are lucky.
16. Cryo-Slumber Hijack
The libraries of Rumble City are full of popsicle-frozen people. The ancients put a lot of useful people on ice. Probably hoping to thaw them out later. Or hoping they would wake up in a world more sane. No-one knows how the popsicle machines work anymore. Occasionally one looks like it’s about to defrost on its own. If the person inside looks like they might be fun to hang out with, racers gather in the huge library hall, revving their cars. A few minutes from de-thawing the race begins. Whoever ends up with the sleeper gets a new best friend.
Take a jelly baby, lego man or creature of equal dimensions. Put them in an ice tray, fill it up and freeze them in a cube. When fully frozen, place them in the centre of the game space. Arrange terrain and obstacles to suit. All cars start en equal distance from the sleeper. Crews can grab the sleeper on contact with the cube, simply place the cube on top of, or inside the car.
Enemy crews can grab the sleeper with a successful close attack. Whoever has the sleeper when the cube is fully melted wins, and gets a new, free crew member.
17. Fruit Convoy.
Rumble City is fed through the fortuitous use of mutant fruit. The surviving fruit farms of old California grow one gigantic monster fruit each. Guarding it over long summer months from the attacks of the hyper-crows. Fruit-Mercs with specialised weaponry stride the bananas watch after watch and snipers lock the approaches to every pear. Then, when the season rolls around, the convoys come from rumble city. The fruit are linked and loaded onto trolleys and anti-gravity skiffs. Then the vast arrays set off across the nightmare plains, heading for home. It’s murder. Every fruitpirate, bandito, mutant scav, biker gang or windriding sunjunkie flocks on the gigantic convoys as they rumble towards the city gates. The silhouettes of house-sized avocado’s flash blackly in the rattling muzzle flare against the lowering midnight sky. The wrecks of fortified pineapples hang in the dawn air like pencil-sketch gallows when the suns rise, bodies strewn and despoiled. Time to race.
Get all the monsters and enemy cars you can find. One player takes the role of the attacking hordes. Each other player runs one car. Get a bunch of fruit and a model truck. String up the convoy. One player may take on the role of convoy driver. Players may place crew members aboard the fruit at armoured positions if they wish. The fruit convoy goes at the speed of the slowest vehicle minus one. It can turn one segment per round. If it turns in the same direction for three consecutive rounds, roll for unstable fruit, they may become loose and escape. Game ends when the convoy crosses the city gates, whichever side has the most fruit wins.
18. Kaiju Rumble
Kaiju are a constant menace to Rumble City. It’s not really sure if they are monsters or normal things insanely sized. Perhaps they are simply lost wanderers in the desert of time who came back to find Rumble City shrunk to tiny size before them. Anyway, they are Kaiju now. You can only be so big in Rumble City! They are easily dealt with. Trip them up with monofilament wire tied round their legs, then drive up their bodies to shoot rockets into their eyes.
This race should be played with a friendly and patient human. Failing that, a pair of shoes and some chalk should do it. In the first part of the game the Kaiju (or person) walk very slowly across the playing space. They are trying to reach the outskirts of Rumble City. The players compete to be the first car to run a figure eight around the Kaiju’s feet. Once done, the Kaiju collapses in a random direction. (Cars beneath its fall may take evasive action.) The friendly human should lie down. Failing this, a chalk outline of a person should be made. Crosses should be added for the eyes. Cars must race up the monsters body, starting at the feet and fire once into each of its eyes. The first car to do this is the victor.
19 Tectonic Gold.
California still hasn’t fallen into the ocean. Maybe the Pacific doesn’t want it. The plates are cracking though, like a badly baked soufflé. It won’t be long now… Catastrophic tectonic activity can be a boon to any race. Rumble City bravoes often ride the San-Andreas plunge-mosaic-flats for fame and extra respect. A favoured tactic is to flock closely as the plates are crossed so as not to be disadvantaged by the shakes, then sprint for the end when it comes.
Arrange the course as normal, but draw it over as many tables as possible. Two is good, but four tables linked at the centre would be better. At any point during their turn, a player may shake one of the tables as hard as they like for up to three seconds. If any car is thrown off a table, the player doing the shaking is disqualified.
The Crash-o-Tron is the most revered and respected of Rumble City races. Somewhat old-fashioned, its true, and staid, but you know where you are with the crash-o-tron. JUST CRASH INTO EVERYTHING.
The finish line of the crash-o-tron can only be passed by a car that has deliberately crashed into every other car in the race. That means the crash took part on that cars turn. It’s common for no cars at all to finish the crash-o-tron.