Box cars. Does it make a difference?

I can understand the fumble rule, as it exists in almost all roleplaying systems, but what kind of effect will a successful box cars roll have (double sixes)? What kind of right has a rule to exist when it has less then 3 % chance to happen. Especially if we already have Outcome to measure how good a successful the roll is.

To be honest, the most trouble I'm having with this rule is that it's not very well described. What does the book mean with "...something unusual happens"? How should I discribe the rule to my players?

My solution? Remove the rule about box cars effects. Then you will have one less thing to think about.

[color=darkblue]Yeah, it is very vague that "something unusual happens".

I use the boxcars rule, but I simplify the "good" part... if a PC rolls boxcars, then succeeds on the check, I just give them a +1 to the Outcome. Everyone seems to like that, and the trade-off is that I can still use boxcars followed by failure to indicate jammed guns, magical miscasts, healing errors, computer hacking attempts that set off security alarms, good stuff like that that keeps life interesting.

If someone gets rid of the boxcars rule, you'd just need another rule for backlashes and Way Awful Failures, such as failing by a certain negative Outcome causes backlah. (For example, if you don't succeed in casting a spell, maybe Backlash damage is the number you missed the Difficulty by.)

If you're playing a more loose game, where you don't want to bother with gun jams and stuff like that, then sure, toss the boxcars.

I've never found the boxcar rules to be very burdensome. Generally speaking, if a boxcar roll ends up successful there is either some strictly mechanical benefit for the plaey or they pull a stunt they hadn't really intended. For example:

-Going after 4 goons, a player rolls boxcars and the final roll ends up high enough to hit but the outcome is too low for the mooks to be put down. Technically it's a success, since he hit, so in that case the boxcars allow him to put them down in spite of the low Outcome.

-Firing a lightning blast at a named character, a player rolls a boxcars hit. As a result the target only reduces damage by half their Toughness. Or if the player rolled multiple boxcars, then the damage goes unreduced.

-Firing on two mooks with a shotgun. Without boxcars, the player fires off two shells, but with the double-sixes, they put the shot-blast between them so that both are felled with just one shot.

-Trying to put down a single mook, a player rolls the boxcars. Instead of just dropping the one, that mook dives for cover behind a pile of heavy metal pipe. The straps holding the pile together are severed by a bullet and it collapses taking out the three other goons taking cover behind it.

By the same token of course, a fumble generally results in a similarly spectacular failure. In short "something unexpected" is another excuse for GM fiat. And if nothing else, it's just another opportunity to have something blow up.


I use boxcars for 'cinematically bad' or 'cinematically awesome'.

Cinematically awesome has, in the past, included:

An unexpected woodchipper claiming the mook you attacked.

Summoning a stream of merchandise from 'Bill's Anvil and Bowling Ball Emporium' across the road with your Movement attack.

Successfully landing the Lear jet at HK airport, despite the lack of fuel, but smashing the tails off a string of jumbo jets in the process.

Basically, the instant the first roll is boxcars, my mind says 'set piece stunt' and I wait to see whether it's good or bad. Often, there is little actual benefit from boxcars, but the description gets kicked up a gear.

Hmm, I now see what kind of problem I have with successful box cars rolls. The thing is that I often let the players describe their successful rolls and this rule takes away the previlege to do that, because I can't find an easy way to point out direction of the boxcars rule. I liked Queex' way to handle it and when I talked to a feng shuiing friend he told me the same thing, givning an example of kicking a mook through the roof.

The "bad side of this" is that I already allow that kind of action with mooks when the player rolls a 5+ roll. Hmm, and I forgot the backlash rule, but I don't use sorcery or arcanowave devices anyway. Perhaps I should let the boxcars rule become a "instant gib" sort of effect, no matter if it's a named or unnamed character.

By the way; have you used this rule if the player spends a fortune and rolls a double 6 on both the positive dices?

I was going to create a new thread about boxcars but there's already this one. I hope it's okay to resurrect old threads in this context.

Ok, so as I was just saying in the kickstarter comments, my players are dissatisfied with how boxcars are handled (it's a new group, not my original players from ten years ago with FS1). it's too vague for them, especially in a fight, where mechanics have more importance than the occasional skill check during a roleplay scene.

In the past two sessions, I houseruled that the first positive 6 counts (rather than being cancelled by the negative 6), but I feel it's not enough. I mean, it's a +6 to the outcome, but that's only one more than if they'd rolled -1 and +6 ; there's hardly any Oomph in rolling boxcars if the result is that close to a normal, if optimal, outcome.

I though I'd rather do something like doubling the weapon damage (or adding half the weapon damage, because doubling sounds a bit much), or auto-disarming the Foe (but there are Schticks to do that so it steals their thunder).

Just now, I devised this.

it's not that big mechanically (especially if the first 6 doesn't count), but wouldn't it feel big to the player to think "woah, my hit is so perfect I negate his Toughness" ?

Do you think that's balanced ? Should I count the first 6 AND ignore the Toughness ?

I'm curious as to how you'd handle this yourselves (or as to how you're already handling this).