White Line Daydreams

White Line Nightmare is currently a bunch of half-finished parts scattered around a chassis in a dingy garage, like in one of those automotive survival video games. I briefly went into what WLN’s about in an earlier post – this is more of a status report to keep me accountable.

Design Influences

Let’s face it – rpgs and games in general cross-pollinate and inform their descendants. Insomniacs is Fate + Blades in the Dark + PbtA, for example (how does that even work). White Line Nightmare’s no different.

  • Skills and Approaches (Fate) rated by dice size (Savage Worlds, Cortex Prime, 24XX, others)
  • Small pools of mixed dice where you read the highest die (Agon, Soft Horizon, others)
  • Player-facing rolls with thresholds for partial and full success (Blades in the Dark, Powered by the Apocalypse, Soft Horizon, others)
  • Rolls to mitigate or avoid consequences (Blades in the Dark)
  • Conditions that deny approaches and suggest future consequences (Fate, Torchbearer, others)
  • Minigames give permission to break from core systems when it suits the theme and purpose (Burning Empires, MOSAIC Strict)


When additional procedures can help generate and support the kinds of stories I want to play, I think a minigame warrants the increased complexity. On a less intellectual level, it’s fun to do different things!

Car Chases

I have often blogged about how the car chase is my ttrpg white whale. Because it’s nigh-impossible to replicate the speed and thrill of racing viscerally at the table, we look at where the decision points are in a car chase instead. The procedure for chasing someone focuses on risk vs. reward as you build a dice pool to stop your quarry. When you’re the runner, it shifts to a die drop table to generate choices about where to take the chase from moment to moment. Each potential avenue of escape favors certain vehicular approaches. Right now, the hunter’s side feels about 90% done with the runner’s portion sitting at around 50% perhaps.


My guiding star for firearm combat in ttrpgs is the final shootout from 2000’s The Way of the Gun. White Line Nightmare’s shootout minigame is player-facing and focuses on relative positioning and reactions. My roots are in miniatures gaming, I love the crafting and painting part of the hobby, and I want to have an excuse to use these little shooty bois on my shelves. The full shootout minigame is a map and minis thing, but it’s a design goal and my fervent wish to keep it fast and loose.

As much as I would love to innovate a way to imitate that satisfying John Wick choreography at the table, the strengths of maps-and-minis combat is positioning and tactics. That said, it feels about 60% at the moment, so there’s plenty of time for things to change.


“Vistas” is a very loose working name. This minigame supports the themes of camaraderie despite dystopia, and is maybe at 25%. I imagine it now as a call and response “downtime” sort of phase.

Thematic Influences

Even though the touchstones for White Line Nightmare run far and wide, from Fast & Furious to Vanishing Point to S.A. Cosby, it’s Knight Rider at the core. People on the outskirts of society travel from place to place, delivering justice where they can while following their overarching drives. It’s that kind of hook – you get caught up in doing the right thing in a dark world – that I’m hoping resonates with my IRL group, and they see that the dystopian setting elements are there to provide a target-rich environment.

A lone crusader in a dangerous world

Title image by Conner Baker on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s