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[3:16] Ronnies feedback

Started by Ron Edwards, October 23, 2005, 09:44:23 PM

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Ron Edwards


This one gets a full Ronny.

I'm taking a very different approach from Roger's [3:16] Roger's analysis and review thread, although it's a fine discussion. My take is emphatically not Gamist - as I see it, the kill-happy machismo in playing this game would be best regarded as fuel and set-up for some rather solid Narrativism. Please note, this is not disagreeing with Roger, it's an alternate preference on my part.

Toward this end, the rules only need one, small, crucial kick to the tires before the thing is ready to drive. This is a pretty serious suggestion, although at first you might not see why: randomize the level increase, rather than having it be just a 1:1 upward grind per scenario. The roll would be minor, perhaps a 1-3 range, although I also think a Total Kill modifier would be perfect. And yes, you'd get the full assortment of new Strength and Weakness slots for all the levels you just gained.

Does this mean people would hit level 20 faster? Sure, but not much faster. And it also means people would be hitting level 20 at different times, which I think is awesome. Pay strict attention to the nifty rules, too. "Hatred for Earth" is a weakness, which to be used (a) must be defined through flashback, and by then there's plenty of material to flash back to; and (b) must be a narration of how the character fails to achieve something. Now that's interesting. Especially when you consider that Strengths and Weaknesses, in this game, are not psychological strictures, dictating choices and role-playing. Nope - they're draw-on surprise justifications for a new development which you're narrating in to override the dice.

I hope you can see some amazing potential for inter-character alliances and conflicts once even one character has bulked up to level 20, as there's no reason why as soon as it's hit, the character just starts frothing at the mouth and does a 180 back toward Earth. No. The character do not "know" their levels. It only means that a crucial turnaround-revelation is coming ... soon.

Therefore, play after this point, and especially when and if several characters have hit final play, shouldn't be limited by the GM-driven "scenario" any more. Instead, just keep playing based on player input about the next situation - effectively, start using player-written Kickers to define scenarios, which at this point are going to be Earth-bound. And yeah, about now, the GM ought to start thinking about what it's like on Earth.

My final point: Gregor! Put player-character death in there, you utter wanker. If no one has a Strength or Weakness to stave off a roll when the stated opposition is "blow your slimy Earth head off," then too bad, you get your head blown off and you make up a new character. Geez, what is this, Kumbayah Space Marines? No! That's what Strengths and Weakness are for.


Frank T

I think I'll chime in here because I have some comments on what Ron said, but I'll also touch issues from the other thread. I just clicked the game for a quick glance and found myself reading every word of it. Gregor, I would play this game straight away. It really captures this Starship Troopers style carnage and bitterness theme. Maybe the rules need a little twisting here and there, but alltogether, this is astonishingly complete for a 24 h game. Plus, it's looking great.

Maybe you need to be a little more precise on the rules of conflict stakes vs. wounds. As I understand the rules, it always takes four enemy successes for a PC kill. So stakes of "does the alien kill you" would not be valid. The stakes are just color, the result is always a wound. Right? Also, who is the Acting Character / Reacting Character? All the little green men? Or each little green man (hardly)? What if you have two real mean badass critters? Would they still act and react "as a groop"? Maybe you need a sort of mook/real foe separation.

As for the endgame, I think "going back to earth" is perfect. You might want to consider making the last weakness a little more open, as in "must be something to make him go back to earth". If you have the PCs go back "home", however, I'll greatly support Ron's plead for kickers or something similar. Players should have a say in what's going to happen. Expanding on that: Why should the GM decide on all the missions? Why not let the players have a say in that, too? Alright, maybe you want a chance to surprise the players with the mean critters you've come up with. But on the other hand, if they come up with the mean stuff, you can add your own ideas to make it even meaner! How about that?

Also, two thumbs up on Ron's randomized level increase.

- Frank

Ben Lehman

Personally, I think that level should be strictly determined by Kill Count -- whoever kills the most people gets two levels, everyone else gets one.  Perhaps with a bonus for longer and harder planets.

What I really want to see is more in the way of scenario guidelies.  Mass combat slaughter is fine -- if you want to take out a town or a city.  But to take down a planet efficiently is much harder.  I want to see some divide and conquer (political and diplomatic maeuvering gives some room for non-combat checks), germ warfare, ecosystem destabilization, starting religious cults, etc.

I mean, you are a crew genocidal immortals hell-bent on wholesale slaughter of planets.  I imagine, if nothing else, that just blasting away would get boring after a while.

Likewise, I want more rules for social relationships within the group.  You're living with each other for centuries.  Maybe millenia.  I imagine you'd get on each other's nerves.  What about sex?  Do you even want to go there?

And I think that the only "bail out of death" rule should be that, even if the stakes are your death, you can bail yourself out with a weakness so long as you lose the fight.


Gregor Hutton

Thanks for the feedback. Great ideas, which I'll put in. So variable increase goes in and Hatred of Terra stays.

I was wondering if the increase could be 0-2 with a bonus for most kills and a Total Kill? Maybe something like a d10 roll: 1-3 (+2 levels), 4-9 (+1 level), 10 (+0 levels).

Some star systems that you'll come across will be teeming with life but possibly not in a humanoid way: virus clouds, intelligent silicates, societies of chemical soup, etc.

Regarding sex/relaionships: It's the bit in Aliens I think where Vazquez's buddy gets iced early and she has real issues with the boss after that. I think there could be deep social interactions in the group. And you wouldn't take kindly to the Sgt or Lt if they sent your closest bud/partner down some insect hole to their death?

Ben Lehman

So here's a question: War crimes?

I mean, given the premise, the 3:16s are regularly going to be performing acts which make My Lai look like an Amnesty International conference.  But the examples in the book are all geared towards, well, direct combat confrontations.

In one sense, this is fine.  "Blasting away" is the default mode of the Space Marine genre, and it is possible that you don't want to "go there" with regards to harder-core stuff, either in regard to torture, rape, cannibalism, and those sort of heinous personal acts or religious cults, death camps, disease warfare, diplomacy, or other such heinous social acts.  But I thought that I would bring the question up.

As for myself... well, I would introduce these things by putting them on the "weapons list."

Death Camps: 1d10x10,000 / month
Famine: 1d10 x 100,000 / month
Social Breakdown: 2d10 x 10,000 / month
Small Pox: 1d10 x 10,000 the first month, an extra 1d10 each additional month.


Gregor Hutton

Hi Ben

That's some heavy stuff, and if people want to play the game that way then they should. I would say that I can't think of a war where war crimes haven't been committed. Rape, genocide and all manners of utter depravity can absolutely happen (flipping open any history book would give a wealth of precedent). Whether a group wants to go into that while playing ... I don't know. I guess I wouldn't be comfortable with that myself, but on the other hand I'm pretty ambivalent about gunning down literally thousands of native creatures on their home planet without batting an eyelid.

The question might be whether the 3:16th would hang about long enough to take part in these practices, though?

I can see your take on it and the numbers are in the right ball park. Starving a planet from orbit (say, burning all their arrable land) and weakening the inhabitants in preparation of a ground assault could be a way to go. Creating tidal waves by dropping rocks from space into their oceans. Melting their ice caps. Stirring up powerful hurricanes in their upper atmosphere. Electrifying their atmosphere. Cloud seeding. Targeted strikes. Even hot hail!

But how much of the Universe is teeming with human/oid life though? And why would the Expeditionary Force want to politically destabilise a planet rather than take part in outright warfare (at least at first). And are there other human worlds out there? I guess there could be a message/social comment there about present-day world politics? Divide and conquer, meddling in foreign affairs, etc.

However, I more envisaged that Terra was the whole of humanity and the things out there are not human (though possibly humanoid). I figured that you would just get to carve your way through some wacky cosmos-inspired backdrops, happily (and hopefully, narratively) taking part in the machismo that Ron talked about.

One scenario could be a world where a previous expeditionary force has abandoned their mission and decided to populate a planet ... possibly having discovered how to induce fertility. Lots of pregnant women, human kids, ex-soldiers tending crops and governing themselves. And these guys are armed to the teeth so a softly, softly approach might be advisable at first? Do the PCs let them live? Or kill them all? What does either of those choices mean to the PCs and their mission?

Frank T

Aside: If they can blow up a whole planet, why would they risk their lives in close combat anyway? I'm just musing.

- Frank

Gregor Hutton

I figured that they only had a limited stock of planet- and star-killing missiles, so in most cases they prefer to do the job hands-on. Heavy duty bombardment still leaves vestiges of life on the planet too, so maybe the troopers have to go hunting through ruins and craters to find their victims.

Oh, and for sure the GM (or a PC using a weakness) should destroy the barge after a while, along with all the PK and SK missiles.