OSR: Class: Speed Demon

Some people think devils turn up in cool cars. They are complete wrong. Cool cars create devils. 

It doesn't start immediately with the invention of the motorized carriage, or your setting's equivalent. Uncomfortable, slow, rattling machines simply won't do. They need to reach a certain level of development. The moment someone adds chrome to a car, or uses one to flee the scene of a crime, the gate opens, and the devils creep in.

They whisper in the dreams of city planners, saying "just one more lane" and "expressway." They smell of gasoline and expensive hair oil and an unsustainably exciting lifestyle. They're actually as cool as middle-aged balding dentists and pimply teenagers imagine they could be, in the right car.

They are young (always older than the local kids, always younger than the people in power). They are cool in a way that's vaguely threatening. They act like they will never grow old and never die, because they never will.


Devils want to tempt you into sin (allegedly). That's their job. But these devils, when they can be bothered to talk, claim they're not that sort of devil. They aren't allegorical. They just are.

And yet, when a car smashes into a lamppost, it's never a devil behind the wheel. Sure, the devil suggested the race.. or agreed to it... or at least gave you a significant look at the intersection... but that's just a coincidence. They didn't suggest you steal the car. They took that corner at the same speed as you; it's not their fault you lost control.

Next moment, hardly knowing how it came about, he found he had hold of the handle and was turning it. As the familiar sound broke forth, the old passion seized on Toad and completely mastered him, body and soul. As if in a dream he found himself, somehow, seated in the driver's seat; as if in a dream, he pulled the lever and swung the car round the yard and out through the archway; and, as if in a dream, all sense of right and wrong, all fear of obvious consequences, seemed temporarily suspended. He increased his pace, and as the car devoured the street and leapt forth on the high road through the open country, he was only conscious that he was Toad once more, Toad at his best and highest, Toad the terror, the traffic-queller, the Lord of the lone trail, before whom all must give way or be smitten into nothingness and everlasting night. He chanted as he flew, and the car responded with sonorous drone; the miles were eaten up under him as he sped he knew not whither, fulfilling his instincts, living his hour, reckless of what might come to him.
-The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame




Race: Motor Car Devil

You have horns, and your skin is a shade normally associated with fruit, stone, or silk. You do not have a past.

Reroll: DEX or CHA
Bonus: You take no damage from motor vehicle accidents. Your vehicle and passengers are still affected. You do not age.
Weakness: You must Save not to break a minor law (littering, smoking indoors, etc.) if the opportunity presents itself. You cannot harm the innocent (but you can allow them to come to harm). You cannot heal or rest on hallowed ground.

Class: Speed Demon

By your nature or by choice, you've cut a deal with otherworldly powers for mastery of the road.

Starting Skill: Lockpick, Drive
You gain +2 Save against mind-altering effects for each Speed Demon template you possess

A: The Car, Dangerous Aura
B: Lit Fuse, Guilty Bystander
C: Redline, Hotwire
D: Immortal Engine, The Mercy Seat

A: The Car

A sportier, sleeker, more dangerous version of the original vehicle. The exhaust makes a spectacular noise and, if you'd like, spits fire. The windows are tinted. You can turn any car into The Car by driving it at top speed. Ideally, you need to pass through a tunnel or shadowed area. A normal car goes in. The Car, lightly touched by the infernal powers, comes out (usually sideways, in a cloud of smoke).

The Car cannot be driven casually or safely. It has to push the limits of local traffic laws. Anyone can drive The Car, but it is clearly yours. You can only have one Car at a time. It's not mandatory to wreck the old one before you get a new one.

The Car doesn't run on gasoline, coal, warpstone, or magic. It runs on souls. Gain 1 soul when you:

  • Kill a sufficiently wicked person.
  • Tempt a person into wickedness just before they die.
  • Win a wager for a person's soul. Races are traditional. 

Spend 1 soul to instantly:

  • Fix a flat tire, broken belt, or other fault. 
  • Restore 25% of your The Car's HP.
  • Boost The Car's top speed by 10% for 30 minutes.

This ability works on motorcycles (of course) but not buses, vans, trains, or bicycles. It might work on helicopters and speedboats. It has to be cool.

You can, in theory, buy souls from your local necromancer or other grisly source. They never burn as cleanly though.

A: Dangerous Aura

You generate a vague aura that threatens relationships, makes people question their sexuality, and gets blamed for the decline of civilization.

If you maintain eye contact with a person, they must Save to remind you of a mundane duty (late rent, not smoking in the library, not walking on the grass). If they fail, they stutter and stop. This can get you out of a traffic ticket, but not off a murder charge.

B: Lit Fuse

You are immune to fire damage. You can snap your fingers to create a candle-sized flame. You can choose to have The Car deal fire damage.

B: Guilty Bystander

In the first round of combat, instead of rolling Initiative, you can choose to act last. If you do (after stubbing out a cigarette, removing your sunglasses, etc.) your first attack gets  +2 to hit and deals +2 damage.


C: Redline

Spend 1 soul to let The Car do something impossible. Make that corner. Drive through three lanes of bumper-to-bumper oncoming traffic. Smash through a concrete wall without cracking a headlamp.

C: Hotwire

Vehicles are never locked for you, and you can start them by connecting two convenient wires. This includes implausible vehicles, like bucketwheel excavators and UFOs.

D: Immortal Engine

The Car cannot be reduced below 1 HP as long as it is moving at a dangerous speed. It might be mostly smoke, sparks, and splinters, but it will keep going. Track excess damage. The moment it stops, all excess damage is applied to The Car (usually causing it to disintegrate). 

D: The Mercy Seat

If you can see The Car, Fatal Wounds do not knock you unconscious. If you are in the driver's seat of The Car, you can spend 1 soul to remove 1d3 Fatal Wounds, remove 3 negative HP, or heal 6 HP.

1954 Buick Wildcat

Mechanical Notes on the Speed Demon

Cavalier-type classes have trouble getting their horses into a dungeon. A car is even more difficult. But in an urban campaign, or a caravan crawl, having a class dedicated to the exuberance of velocity could be very useful. 

You don't start with a car (let alone The Car). 

Multiclassing into Dandy or Brawler could be interesting. Both this class and race suggest a certain kind of taciturn play style. If you want to rant and rave, play a sorcerer or a wizard.

I haven't included vehicle rules in this post. This class should work with whatever set of vehicle rules you're using. See also: UVG Vehicle Upgrades 1, 2. Mechanical upgrades to The Car still function. The Car isn't magic, it's just lightly possessed. If you turn a Citroën 2CV into The Car, it'll be a Citroën 2CV hot rod... which is more of a tepid rod. 


  1. By way of contrast...don't suppose you've read the R A Lafferty short story 'Interurban Queen'?

    1. I have not, but I have seen the 1981 film "The Last Chase". Cannot recommend.

    2. Just what I was thinking of!

      "I'd rather go to hell in an auto-mobile than to heaven in a trolly!"

  2. "Let the revels begin, let the cages be open
    Let the flags all be unfurled
    I'm just a blonde haired, blue eyed, black heart boy
    Killing time until the end of the world
    What's the meaning of life? What's the meaning of it all?
    You gotta learn to dance before you learn to crawl
    You gotta learn to dance before you learn to crawl!
    Every day, every night, I feel the fever grow
    (You know what it's like) All revved up with no place to go
    (You know what it's like) All revved up with no place to go"

    -Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, "All Revved Up/Wasted Youth"

  3. I absolutely love your description of the Guilty Bystander thing.

  4. There is a great old Disney public service cartoon featuring a city full of Goofy's who all turn into demonic entities when they get behind the wheel of a car.

  5. This is a wonderfully evocative class concept and I will definitely be playing one at the next opportunity!