Order of Operations / Accelerate!

2008 Apr 21

On Blacktop, the order of operations goes like this:

1. Shooting: The Shotgun describes what any previously established pursuers are doing and declares their own violent intentions. Then, they roll for both themselves and the pursuers, to see what damage is inflicted on each side. Rolls for shooting are affected by the current speed and condition of your car and the cars of your pursuers.

2. Maneuvering: Next, the Backseat Driver describes the approaching terrain and any obstacles or problems it might contain. Then, they roll to try to overcome them, taking into account any damage the car sustained during the shooting phase. If there is a total failure to maneuver properly, i.e. a crash, that changes the nature of the next two operations — because the car is likely tumbling off the edge of the highway and about to land on some other part of Blacktop — but they still occur as normal, in order.

3. Shifting: Next, the Shifter can attempt to manipulate the Godstick in one of a number of ways: they can attempt to shift the car into a higher or lower gear, to make it easier to accelerate up or down; they can attempt a re-roll of either shooting or maneuvering, thanks to some crazy Godstick-assisted stunt; or they can attempt to ascend to the level immediately above them (Blacktop’s topside, if you are currently on Route 66, or up into the sky — winning the game — if you are currently on Blacktop).

4. Acceleration: Finally, the Driver can choose whether to press harder on the gas, slam on the brakes, or do nothing. Just like in a real car, maintaining the same speed involves giving it some gas; otherwise the car will gradually slow down (unless you’re on Route 66). Whatever the Driver ultimately decides to do, their roll is directly affected by the relative success and failure of all previous operations. It is very difficult for the Driver to accelerate effectively if the car is rolling over and catching fire from poor shooting and maneuvering rolls.


To determine the initial speed of your car, the Driver rolls two 4-sided dice of different colors. One die is the tens digit and the other die is the ones digit. So if a Driver rolled a 2 and a 1, the initial speed would be 21 mph.

On every subsequent acceleration roll, the Driver can choose to raise or lower the die representing the ones digit, from d4 to d6 to d8 to d10 to d12. Whatever the Driver chooses, they can re-roll one or both dice and your car accelerates up or down to the resulting speed. For example, if the Driver eventually rolls a 3 (d4) and an 11 (d12), the resulting speed is 41 mph. They might then choose to keep the 11 and re-roll the d4, hoping for a 4 that would give them 51 mph.

The only way the Driver can increase the tens digit die is if the Shifter manages to shift gears. When gears are shifted, the tens digit die goes up or down — from d4 to d6 to d8 — and the ones digit die returns to being a d4.

In order to break 88 mph and leave the surface of Blacktop, then, the car must be shifted into Third Gear (d8) and the Driver must succeed in at least three acceleration rolls to move from d8d4 to d8d6 to d8d8. Even then, the chance is not nearly as great as if the Driver can accelerate further to d8d10 or, best of all, d8d12.

If the Driver chooses to roll neither die in the acceleration phase, the tens digit die is manually lowered one step, and the car drops by 10 mph. Maintaining speed is best mimicked by re-rolling just the ones die.

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