Car Wars – A Trip Down The Memory Fast Lane, (the lost) Part 9

frontier wars 728x90 KS

Remember that whole series from over a year ago?  Yeah, we missed one… ~

Michael Eckenfels, 18 April 2018

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The AADA Survival Guides, of which I believe there were seven, were essentially campaign game starter books that gave Car Wars-centric information for various regions of the United States. Or, at least, what was left of the United States. Further, it should be pointed out that these Guides are built to be used with the GURPS system (more specifically, the Autoduel GURPS rules).


This particular volume, The East Coast, contains information on the thirteen Northeastern states (Virginia up to Maine). My copy is pretty beat up, too, so please forgive the aesthetics.



I figured some GrogHeads forum dwellers would appreciate some of the information in here, given that they live in the area.

There’s a lot of generally interesting tidbits in here, though you have to read them through the lens of the late 1980s, when these were produced. Tidbits such as, reregistering your weapons permit through the mail (guess they didn’t foresee the Internet, but it doesn’t matter, because anyone running a campaign these days could easily update such minor things), and how irate drivers that start shooting tend to get ganged up on.

I won’t do a description of every single state, but will just show and talk about some locations I chose randomly.



Maine. Oh, Maine. That’s about all I can say because I’ve never been. I suppose if you’re from there (cough) you could, with great mirth and levity, describe your own experiences in the comments section.


It’s interesting that this notes the police are “courteous and friendly” and that there’s a “Carrie’s Prom” exhibit in Portland.



New York is apparently a little more uptight, as autoduelling is banned throughout the state (though you can possess vehicular and personal arms, with a permit). I’m guessing there aren’t any autoduel arenas and the description of lower New York State tends to be more urban, while upstate is more rural. Manhattan is a major location and is apparently in a low-key war with the rest of the state…go figure.



The military has a large presence in Rhode Island even in the Car Wars day and age, and it’s interesting how the Guide describes a portion of it:

Marines have that “Me Soldier – You Enemy” mentality. The last Marine here to take a bribe was shot for treason. Rumor has it that, to this day, the Marines go out of their way to spit on his grave.


Can’t imagine what they did to the ones offering the bribe…



Providence, Rhode Island. “Even the hookers are honest.”



While there’s plenty of information in this book to help jump start a creative GM into making up a campaign or single adventure, the Scenario Springboards chapter brings even more ideas to the table. Though, getting a “1987 Road Atlas” might be a little difficult.

The food ideas listed in the picture sound pretty good, actually.



Baltimore has a “Jousting Arena.” I thought I’d point this out because I’d never heard of a Jousting Arena until I saw this here. It’s an interesting idea but probably more suited for lighter vehicles (to amp up the mayhem, possibly).



EDSEL (the Eastern Driving Safety Enforcement League) is like the Guardian Angels in Mad Max form. There’s a ton of information on them to help drive ideas for game play, as they are pretty much major buttheads in the Car Wars universe. Consider that EDSEL’s goal is to disarm all vehicles across the United States, so they do that through what else but combat using their own heavily-armed vehicles. Nice.



There’s even rules for running player characters (PCs) as EDSEL members, or maybe AADA agents trying to infiltrate their ranks.



Additionally, this Guide has rules for using helicopters in GURPS. I don’t know if similar rules were ever published elsewhere, but given the proclivity of GURPS I’m guessing they exist in a more evolved form somewhere.



“The Role of Random Violence” and a crazy dude holding a hatchet (and labeled “Local Flavor,” to boot) makes the Guide even more interesting. This section is telling the GM to ensure that random violence does occur in the game, not because it is the nefarious plans of some evil (or good) organization that has the PCs number(s), but instead just because Car Wars is a wonderfully chaotic and dangerous place.



This “Escape From Poughkeepsie” struck me as funny, but I don’t live in Poughkeepsie, nor have I ever been there before. I was going to make some snide ‘art imitating life, possibly?’ comment, but decided against it. Unless I already did do it, in which case I mean, ‘just kidding.’



The 80s artwork that tries to portray the future is quite awesome.



Poughkeepsie apparently warranted a nuclear strike from the Soviets in 2012 because of the technology presence. The background information is interesting, stating how the town itself is pretty well cluttered with rubble, making driving difficult, and the area only has a few hundred people living around the Mid-Hudson Bridge and are organized enough to give cycle gangs a hard time.



If you’ve read through this entire review, congratulations – it is a product of many weeks’ worth of picture taking, organizing, writing, and otherwise passion for a game that I’ve not played in decades. It’s always fun to find an old game that you haven’t seen or thought about in a while; it’s almost like Christmas, actually.

Car Wars was an incredibly fun game, and in the time it’s taken me to put together 15,000-some-odd words on the subject, Steve Jackson Games’ web page still says there’s a 6thEdition “coming soon.” You CAN, however, order Car Wars Classic from their website for twenty USD, and supplement it with Car Wars Arenas (which adds more arena maps to the base game, though it says they originally appeared in the Car Wars Arena Book and L’Outrance (To The Utmost), so there’s nothing new here. There’s also the Car Wars Card Game, which is a pretty simplistic way of getting a Car Wars fix (though a fun one, to be honest).

If you’re into Car Wars, one can only hope that a 6thEdition is indeed coming out soon, and is not stuck in some development hole somewhere.


No really, we’re (pretty) sure this is it for the Car Wars series…  finally!

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