Age of Heroes
Chariots are an important part of battle in the ancient world. They are particularly crucial to the Egyptian method of waging war. An Egyptian chariot was usually a mobile missile platform, carrying an archer and a shield bearer to defend him; these made great swooping attacks that allowed the chariots to come within range of the enemy, slow down to increase accuracy, shower them with missiles and then depart before any counter-attack was possible, repeating this move again and again and thus whittling down the enemy’s ranks. The Assyrians seem to have used a very similar approach. Only the Greeks have no clear tradition of chariot combat, as the mountainous territory and uneven lands of Hellas were far less suited to it than the flat sandy plains of Egypt. Thus, in Greece the phalanx held sway as the decisive method of combat, with its wall-like structure taking advantage of the limited fighting space to corner, separate and destroy enemy forces. The Greek chariot is seen more as a method of transport than as a war vehicle. Depictions from Ancient
Greece show chariots taking generals to the field, but do not depict anyone fighting from them.
There are three basic designs of chariot in Age of Heroes, namely the light chariot, the heavy chariot and the Assyrian war chariot. A light chariot is a quicker, less robust model that can achieve higher speeds. An Assyrian war chariot is more heavily built and incorporates a more sturdy barrier that provides cover to the lower parts of the occupants’ bodies. This is especially necessary if one of the occupants is an archer and cannot defend himself with a shield. An Assyrian war chariot is built with large wheels (with eight rather than six spokes) and has enough room for a driver, an archer and two shield-bearers.
This is the number of horses required to pull the chariot.
Chariots are basically simple three-sided carts with space for two or more passengers. This lists how many people may ride in a chariot.
This is the base speed of the chariot when pulled by the maximum number of horses. As horses are lost through combat or other means, the chariot’s base speed moves to the next number on this line, thus gradually slowing down.
This is how much damage the chariot ignores if it should be attacked. An attack must be made directly at the chariot in order to damage it. Attacks aimed at the chariot’s occupants that strike the chariot’s covering wall are not counted.
Every chariot has a number of hit points. When these are reduced to 0, the chariot is destroyed.
The lighter a chariot is, the faster its driver can get it to turn at speed. The first number here is the turn a chariot can make, in degrees, when moving at normal speed. The second number lists how much it can turn when making a double move. No chariot can turn at running speed.
All chariots may carry cargo instead of or in addition to any passengers. This amount is listed in this section. However, a chariot will always require a driver to control its movement.
This is the base damage caused by the chariot when performing an overrun attack. Base costs and weights of chariots are provided in the Equipment chapter.
Persian Scythed Chariots
During the reign of Cyrus the Great, iron scythe blades were fitted to the wheels of the Persian chariots. These sliced through the bodies of warriors to either side, causing terrible carnage. Fitting these to the side of a chariot cost 600 sd.
Chariots move in initiative order in the same way as any mounted combatant. There are however some important differences. A chariot may turn once at any point in its move, up to the amount listed as its turn rate. Any chariot may make this turn while making a normal or double move but none can normally turn while running. In addition, chariots may ‘drift’ up to ten feet left or right for every full thirty feet they move forwards. This is performed as a free action and in no way impedes any other movement the chariot may perform. A chariot driver may choose to whip his horses harder as a full round action. If he succeeds at a Handle Animal check at DC 10, he may increase his base speed by ten feet for that round only.
The driver may also attempt to get his chariot to make a much tighter turn than is entirely safe. A driver may choose to make two turns in a round instead of just one, though these must be made at the beginning and end of the move – they may not be made halfway through as a normal turn may. This is a full round action and requires the driver to make a Handle Animal check at DC 12 if he is moving at base speed and DC 15 at double speed. A single turn may be made at running speed, again with a successful Handle Animal check, this time at DC 25. If these checks are failed, the chariot will automatically overturn at the start of the next turn, as covered below in Collisions and Overturning.
All passengers on board a chariot may make their normal attacks as if they were mounted. (The Mounted Combat feat does not help here but the Chariot Combat feat does.) The chariot driver, however, must always dedicate at least one hand to controlling the horses and so may only fully utilise singlehanded weaponry. Any passenger may make an attack at any point in their move; such is the speed of the chariot. This in no way affects the number of actions they may perform each round. All chariots, no matter what their size, are assumed to take up a space five feet wide and ten feet long, with the horses directly ahead. Passengers, horses or the chariot itself may be targeted by an attack if within reach or range, though passengers will receive the benefit of cover (+4 to Passive Defence; see the Cover section above) for attacks to the front or sides of their chariot. This is from a low wood-and-leather barrier running round the sides and front of the chariot. Passengers receive no benefit for attacks originating from the rear of their chariot. A shield bearer may ride in a war chariot and make Shield Defence checks to protect other passengers. This was standard practice in the ancient world. See the section on Shields.
If any horse is slain whilst pulling a chariot, it must be cut free within one round, as described under Collisions and Overturning or the chariot will automatically overturn.
Any chariot driving moving his vehicle alongside another chariot may choose to sideswipe it as a full round action. The drivers of both chariots must make an opposing Handle Animal check. The winner will cause damage upon the loser’s chariot, as listed below:
Against Warriors on Foot
The passengers of a chariot may attack any warrior on foot as if they were mounted. Those on foot may fight back as if the warriors on the chariot were mounted. However, the driver of a chariot may either overrun his enemies or make scythe attacks against them if the chariot is fitted with blades. Overrun attacks are detailed above. If successful, such an attack will cause an additional amount of damage to the target equal to the Overrun score of the chariot, as covered above. Scythe attacks are made as a chariot moves adjacent to any suitable target and count as a melee attack action. The driver must make a Handle Animal check opposed by the target’s Reflex saving throw. If the target succeeds, he manages to dodge the attack. If the chariot driver wins, the scythes cut through the target, with devastating results. Use the scythe damage listed above, doubling the damage if the chariot is making a double move or faster.
Collisions and Overturning
One of the most impressive sights on the battlefield is that of a chariot moving at full speed then, for whatever reason, overturning. Wood, warriors and horses all tumble and break apart as the entire mess is veiled by a cloud of dust and blood. Few ever survive such accidents and it is often only the skill of the charioteer that can avoid such tragedy. The charioteer must make Handle Animal checks to control his chariot whenever he attempts an extreme action or when a collision looms up ahead. The DCs of such checks are listed below;
There is a +5 bonus to this check if the chariot is moving at base speed or slower and a –5 penalty if it is moving at running speed. If the Handle Animal check is successful, the chariot neatly avoids the obstacle or swerves at the last moment. In the case of avoiding the arena wall, the chariot is placed alongside the wall, its driver having brought his horses up short at the last possible moment.
Games Masters are encouraged to use the above examples as a base should their players ever attempt an action not listed here. If the driver passes his check, he succeeds in the action he was attempting or manages to avoid tragedy, as appropriate. If he fails the check by 5 points or less, the chariot must move in a completely straight line for the next round. No turns or drifts may be attempted. If the chariot cannot move straight ahead for whatever reason (an immovable object being directly in front of it for example), then the chariot will automatically overturn. If he fails by more than 5 points, the chariot will overturn.
If a chariot overturns, the chariot itself, along with all passengers and horses, take an amount of damage equal to the Overrun score of the chariot. Passengers may make a Reflex saving throw at DC 20 to halve this damage. An overturned chariot, if it survives intact, takes 1d6 minutes to put right and re-hitch any living horses. As battles frequently last several hours, with brief rests between engagements, this is quite commonly done on the battlefield. The combined Strength required is equal to the original hit points of the chariot.