As I have occasionally mentioned, I am a geek of the age where my engeekening coincided with the rise of pencil & paper RPGs, so a good chunk of my formative years were spent compulsively reading, re-reading, and memorizing the many rule books for games like Dungeons & Dragons, Gamma World, Traveler… and, of course, Car Wars.
Car Wars is an alternate-future game, set in a world where a massive oil shock in 2000 leads to nuclear war in 2012, followed by general anarchy that lasts for several years and winds up with different regions of the US setting up very local governments with only a little bit of federal oversight and where slapping machine guns and rocket launchers onto the family vehicle is not only legal but an incredibly popular sport. It’s closer to a “miniatures game” than an RPG, but as the game became more popular, the folks at Steve Jackson Games tried to make it a little more about the person behind the wheel and not ENTIRELY about the car you were driving,
Even so, the real fun of the game came from designing an endless assortment of impressively-weaponized death wagons, keeping at all times within space, weight, and cost budgets.
They did publish source books with sample cars, of course, such as this one below, but that was always a little dull compared to making your own.
As an aside, Car Wars made me ridiculously good at math for my age range. I credit it with a lot of the advanced classes I got shoved into as a youth.
Anyway, part of the shtick of Car Wars was that it was always set 50 years in the future. So, for example, they published a Car Wars calendar in 1988 that was labeled “2038”, and they published a magazine – Autoduel Quarterly – whose cover dates were always likewise a half-century ahead. I own about six years’ worth of the magazine, so I can probably track the rough point where I stopped being super into RPGs by when I stopped buying it.
I have been on a bit of a scanning binge this year, as I’ve been converting papers and comic books and magazines into PDF files, and I finally dug my old ADQs out of a box in preparation for scanning.
Then I looked at the covers, and got socked in the gut by just how many years it’s been.
We’re 15 years away from actually catching up to these. Barring any health issues, I am likely to pass these fictional future dates by. This is a heck of a depressing thought for a Sunday evening.
(And I still cannot legally mount a flamethrower on my Mazda 3. So very sad.)