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Title: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: gsoylent on October 28, 2008, 04:35:55 PM
Ran my first game of 3:16.  There were two players besides me, none of us had played this game before and only I had read the rules.

My planet involved mineral life forms on a gas planet. I added a few details of my own.  AA was 6 (highest NFA), Alien Special was Suicide.

The fights were very easy for the players, no challenge at all. They players never got worse hurt than A Mess (which meant that they started each encounter at full health), never had to use a Flashback or called for an Evac, though used his a Combat Stim once. Based on the advice in the game, I never committed more than PCx2 Threat Tokens to an Encounter.  But the way the dice fell, the aliens were always dispatched before they could do any serious damage, so I was left wondering if I had done something wrong.

I did not get to use the Alien Special – sacrificing a token just to get a kill did not seem like good value and by the time I realised this was getting to be too easy for the players I was running short on Tokens anyway. Then again I was working on the assumption that using the Special replaced the Aliens FA roll .  I am wondering now if use of the Alien Special is meant to be in addition to the normal Alien FA attack as that could tip the scale. Anyone know for sure?

Ironically, re-reading the rules afterwards I realised that I had been cheating in favour of the aliens – counting a Kill for them even when the PCs had rolled higher (and passed their FA roll).  So actually it would have been even easier on the players.

On the positive side, the players absolutely loved the “After the mission” bit with the levelling up and upgrading the weapons in ways I just never expected. I guess the competition for getting the most kills obviously caught their fancy, but you could see the genuine excitement as the pondered what weapon to upgrade and considered how much damage they eventually might be able to do.   

Afterwards I asked the players how they felt about the balance between combat encounters and story scenes that glued them together. Opinion was divided. One player seemed to like the story scenes well enough as it gave the encounters a context, though he would not advise expanding on them further. The other saw them as irrelevant and would have probably been just as happy going from encounter to encounter. I should add that I did not really do a brilliant job with the story scenes, so that might account for it too.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Per Fischer on October 29, 2008, 04:23:45 AM
IIRC player characters don't heal between encounters, only between missions (planets), unless it's emotional damage - I think, don't have the book beside me. I don't know how often Gregor frequents this site, but if you ask the question over at Story Games, there will be a lot of people there with 3:16 experience, incuding Gregor himself.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 29, 2008, 07:27:45 AM

That's not correct, Per. I know because I thought that too, and then, playing the game last night, was surprised to discover that all player-characters do heal one wound-level (of any type of damage) between Encounters. Oh!

Another point, for gsoylent,* the Suicide ability allows the automatic delivery of a kill to every player-character in addition to the normal roll which might yield kills of its own. Again, this happened to be the Alien Ability that showed up in our second mission last night.

Regarding damage done by aliens, I am under the impression that if the AA roll is successful, and there are still Threat Tokens remaining in the encounter on the aliens' turn, then the troopers take damage. Doesn't matter if the troopers made their FA(s) or not, or when. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I'll post about our game in this thread, because I'm concerned with a number of the same issues. You might be interested in the older threads [3:16] Another damned Bambi! Shoot it, shoot it! AK-K-K-K-K! ( and especially [3:16] Spades and Chalk on Planet Dürer (

Best, Ron

* I'm pretty sure I learned your name at one point or another but can't remember it - help?

edited to add the more relevant link - RE

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Per Fischer on October 29, 2008, 09:48:54 AM
*wince* My bad. Apologies for misleading. Characters heal 1 Kill and all E wounds between encounters. Doh.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 02, 2008, 07:05:43 AM

Our new game of 3:15 is very similar to yours, most significantly just two players besides me, Tim K and Chris (although we're gaining a third), and a certain look-it-up hassle going on in play at times. I'll discuss our game in this thread because I think we can use our similar concerns but also differences as a way to address your questions.

I'm curious to know more about how you introduced the game to the others. I have followed pretty much the same presentation-profile for over 15 years now: I explain the most important color (visuals, "feel") and then focus on the reward mechanic, as it relates to "why we play." Everything else,  most especially the tactics of character creation, falls out from those two and can be handled as such.

For example, Chris asked the right question: what about look and feel and tone, and I read from the Theme section, and also the Trooper Shit section - and he soon smiled, and went "Ahhhhh."

Tim K created Sergeant Gunther, jumpy, FA 5 and NFA 5. He discovered how unpredictable his character's middle-of-the-road numbers could be during the first mission, and picked up the Strength "Berserker" in the second mission. Chris created Corporal Deet, tactless, FA 8 and NFA 2. By contrast, he discovered the limits of being maxed at one end of the spectrum, and although his kill-count is pretty insane at this point, he's especially feeling his character's lack of maneuverability. He picked up the Strength "Resourceful through callousness," in the first mission, which sounds clunky it actually did come out of his Flashback as a single concept.

It occurs to me that I might have missed rules about rank when there are less than three players. Oh well - it's not relevant to this post.

One thing I did in my earlier 3:16 session, and which apparently John Harper took to the extreme in his GenCon sessions, was to spend more time in what might be called the "role-playing matrix" that encloses missions, and inside missions, encloses encounters. I think you might be losing some of the game's potential without it. The most obvious points for such play are the Briefing and the advancement + receipt of medals, but you can even go a bit further than that.

Mission one: Dürer

Again, you and I had some funny coincidences between our games, including the planet's name. I rolled it up as a Pleasure planet, with Advanced humanoids, who had Boost. Unfortunately my roll for AA yielded only 5, which is pretty wimpy. And with only 10 Tokens, that's not much room for using the ability without burning out of Challenge Tokens.

I thought about it and decided this planet was obviously a walkover, so the idea would be that there weren't even security drones, and the aliens "fighting back" would be not much more than their pleasure-programming. I know it's important that the aliens not be 100% passive or benign, but I decided to play that concept as close to its edge as possible.

So what about this "play matrix" I'm talking about? Well, in the first briefing, the horrid Lt. Frinks (starched, sausage-tight pants, prissy) was not impressed with Deet's abominable pronunciation of the planet's name. Ultimately this led to Frinks drilling the squad on proper umlaut pronunciation for ten minutes. Amusingly, this ended because Deet deliberatedly tried to goad the L.T. by continuing to mispronounce it, failed that roll, and thus accidentally pronounced it perfectly, thus satisfying Frinks and irking Deet no end.

I described the briefing room as long past its overhaul date, with a crappy pull-down slide screen. There wasn't even a makeshift projector any more; Frinks actually taped paper to it as he went, including a satellite photo of an alien that had obviously been Photoshopped to look all toothy and vicious. They also were supposed to be able to infect your mind with "bug ideology" and Frinks briefly mentioned something about post-mission quarantine.

Their mission was bring one back dead but whole alien, which as it happened, they brought back alive but apparently dead. I plan to have some fun with that later. What I'm driving at is that these player-characters' situation is so past pointless and barbaric that no one is really even pretending any more - and the officers who believe the most fervently in the mission are climbers, petty sadists, fools, and martinets.

The key point during the mission came from a botched communication with Frinks, who overreacted to a failure of code-phrases by directing missiles at their location. I have no doubt that this event led to bringing back the not-dead alien as a "fuck you, sir," since that event resulted directly from a player's Flashback narration in the last Challenge.

Regarding the post-mission bits, this time I borrowed a page from John Harper's account of his GenCon games: the troops get their medals at a kind of candy-machine thing next to the cafeteria, passing their bar-code tattoo over the little sensor, and enduring the crappy recorded "3:16 Battle Hymn" for a few seconds, then the medals drop down (clunk clunk) into the battered drawer.

Whereas (riffing off John's idea to my own) getting the medals for officers is a long, beautiful, boring affair for the troopers, and quite galling, as when Lt. Frinks, who'd done nothing but almost kill the squad during the mission and was now convinced they'd been psionically brainwashed, got a Crimson Skull for bravery and was promoted to Captain.

The previously-mentioned quarantine was enforced; they had to sit behind plexiglass screens all the time, get probed and scrubbed, and their shower-water smelled funny for a while. I also used more inspiration from John in my own way by introducing the military intelligence guys, who in this case interrogated the bejeezus out of the player-characters, which Gunther failed and Deet succeeded. So they gave Gunther a pretty certificate of loyalty, while telling Deet to keep an eye on Gunther for signs of disloyalty or alien ideological infection, and promising him that he'd get a Crimson Sword medal (but couldn't show it to anyone) if he "did what had to be done" if and when such signs appeared.

Does any of this help, or make sense? As you can see, I barely described the mission at all above, although you can be sure it was full of crazed fighting, maneuvering, and all manner of the fog of war. That stuff was great, but more importantly, it was layered onto the spine of (a) the briefing, (b) communication and mis-communications with the ship during the mission, and (c) the aftermath. I basically combine Joseph Heller's Catch-22 with Harry Harrison's Planet Story with Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. There is literally no depth to which military inconvenience, hypocrisy, and callousness cannot sink, and you have a whole science-fiction military battleship to do it in.

Mission two: Matisse

This time I rolled up an AA = 7, and then ... ahh, the dice produced the finest, most beautiful, most desired combination I could ever hope for: Temperate, Corrupt troopers, Suicide. Oh my.

This time the briefing was carried out by a new guy, Lt. Hussein, who was geeky, friendly, and careless. He eventually even closed the door and de-classified the "secret" part of the mission, to kill one of the bugs named Callahan, and to show his picture - which is of course a Terran military-issue ID photo just like all of theirs. They had orbital-photo imagery that led them to believe the bug HQ "might" look like a Terran cruiser, and provided a schematic that was obviously from a Terran military manual.

The mission itself was dramatic and actually quite horrid, as I played the AWOL guys as determined, competent, and scary as hell. They knew how to jimmy the Mandelbrite faceplates, for instance, and would swarm the troopers, hold them down, pop the faceplates, and stab them to death. Plus those Suicide moments were fantastic - although I'd given away the "secret" of the bugs really being troopers in the briefing, it was only to set up the shock of the first Suicide use, and Chris and Tim visibly recoiled at both the tactical effectiveness and their real-world knowledge of how logical it was for these particular foes to be using that particular tactic. Oh yeah, and I played the Ability as based on trooper knowledge too, as I narrated that the guys turned themselves into human bombs by overloading their own Mandelbrite power-packs, for an armor-suit that was too far past its prime to be useful any more. Although both Gunther and Deet were fully aware they were fighting fellow humans and military guys, the players didn't have their characters make a joke out of calling them "bugs" or talking about how "look, they stole some Terran armor" - such phrasing was a combination of defense mechanism and knowledge that if they disobeyed orders, they obviously would be called bugs too.

The worst moment came during the really hard-core encounter at the troopers' derelict cruiser ship, when one of the NPC troopers on the players' side recognized his father among the foes - and Deet closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and shot them both.

There was a bit of fun mixed in there too. I enjoyed playing Lt. Hussein's shocked, hurt silence when he called too frequently (thus alerting the AWOL troopers who monitored the right frequencies) and was told to wait to be called next time. Deet, of all people, felt so bad about it that he had to break into the call and tell the L.T. he was "doing a great job."

The aftermath of this mission brought big changes. In terms of advancement, Deet is staying at his rank and beefing up his weapons something awful; Gunther is ranking up fast. They each now have an available Strength and available Weakness. They also almost came to combat; you could see them thinking about it. If I'd been able to find the right section in the rules (which I found the next day, easily), they might have done it. Chris even mentioned that he'd be happier to see Gunther at a fine high(er) rank before offing him

Do you see how all the mechanics and steps are now embedded in a more general shared fiction? Advancement isn't just making your character more powerful, it's creating a cross-rank relationship based on influence, suspicion, grudging loyalty, and pure cynicism regarding the military life and overall mission.

Here are some other points of similarity between our games that I thought deserved some contemplation.

With only two players, everyone levels up. There's no man out for gaining a level, and generally, a two-way dynamic is less exciting than a three-cornered combination of attitudes. Also, with just two players, the math for some of the AA calculations becomes a little boring and uniform. Finally, I am feeling that 10 Tokens just isn't enough to really bust-out the possible vicissitudes of the encounters. I tried to get myself into the head-space of being willing to kill player-characters, but that's sort of hard to do during a first session of play, at least for me. I suppose I should have run a 2-8 combo, and I would do that next time, but Tim A will be joining us then. Still, nothing wrong with a 2-13 combo if I feel like it, right?

I happen to think the recovery rules are quite generous. In a previous thread, Gregor said that encounters become vastly nastier as the players level up, and I'm looking forward to that.

Let me know what works for you in this account. I really want to focus on that sense of ongoing play in which the mission is embedded.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: gsoylent on November 02, 2008, 09:44:10 AM
I am still looking forward to opportunity to run it again, so I don't have any new input just yet. My friends are hungry for more 3:16 in a way I've not seen in a while, so that can't be bad.

A few thoughts.

Shared fiction vs. mechanics balance: We've talked a bit about the game, the interest seems to be more towards the encounter scenes than the story glue in between them. The "in between" scenes I decribed, like the briefing, were pretty terrible. The in between scenes the players came for themsleves worked a lot better.

But as a result, there was some suggestion that maybe this a game we can play without GM, taking turn setting the scenes and drawing Threat Tokens with some random method. But I think we'll play it normally a bit longer before experimenting with variants.

There was one particularly effective in between scene in which one of players came up the idea of checking, Star Trek style, the captain's video log at the abadoned outpost. I rewarded this idea by revleaing in my description the alien ability, which it had not come into play yet. Seemed a good way to make the in between scene have a real impact on the encounter scenes. Would have been even better if I'd actually used the AA, but that is besides the point.

Despicable NPCs: I am going to have to try that. If nothing else it sounds like fun.

Levelling with two players: They way the rules explain this is a little vague but I was very mean about my interpretation. I had both players roll for levelling up. The guy with the most kills was going to level up regardless (and only once), but the other player had to beat him on the roll to level up too. As it were the they both got to level, but I think that added a little tension.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Gregor Hutton on November 11, 2008, 10:27:07 AM
Oh, sorry for only getting to this now. I had a spookily similar game at IndieCon to Ron's "suicide" one. We had a desert world rather than temperate, but it was similar fictionally. The "enemy" has Mandel suits and Brite Corp rifles, which were earlier versions of their modern MandelBrite equivalents. Beneath the killing there was a vein of morality being mined.

I really think that a GM ought to throw the special ability out in the first encounter (don't think!, just do it!). Holding off waiting for a "good time" to use it means it almost never gets used. I got a couple of PCs rolling 1s in a combat and got to kill them on my roll of 5 then again on a 1 by spending a Threat Token from the two in the encounter (leaving them dicing off over the now one remaining threat token ... ho ho ho). Suicide's gig is that you can kill twice in one round and they can only heal up once between encounters and the kill on a 1 is automatic. I always hold off spending the token in case a PC cancels on a higher number than 1.

Also, place PCs at Far Range if you can and on your turn aggressively boot some out of the encounter (Beyond Far) which radically shifts the ratio of Threat Tokens to PCs for the rest of the encounter. So, if someone rolls well and moves to Near then kick their unlucky fellow Troopers out of combat after causing a kill.

Regarding when Aliens kill, the rule is that the aliens kill anyone who either "failed or rolled equal to or less than" the aliens. If the aliens beat the Troopers' rolls then they can move the Troopers as they like. Pulling some in closer and pushing others further out.

Once someone gets to Major then Lt Colonel (which will happen more commonly in a two-player game) then you'll get more Threat Tokens as the GM. Nuclear Grenades also cause friction between PCs too. I had a half-TPK this weekend because of a TPK bomb getting let off.

I also used Induce Weakness on a mission at the weekend. I used it in the first encounter on the Sergeant (successfully) and it pretty much forced Strengths out of everyone for the next few encounters as everyone tried to end the encounter before my turn.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 12, 2008, 06:46:43 AM
Oohh! Those are some good suggestions, Gregor. I'm a notoriously bad tactical adversary player, a sorry state for someone who loves villains as much as I do, so I greatly appreciate it. For example, it never occurred to me that one could shove player-characters out of the fight using the movement rules, even though it's patently clear that one can do it in the text.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 12, 2008, 02:33:41 PM

I wanted to follow up on the primary issues that I'm beginning to figure out, or think I am, with your main question. If I'm correct, then the degree of danger and death in the game is a secondary concern, not the main thing at all. But since it's not trivial, let's talk about some mechanics first. You wrote,

Levelling with two players: They way the rules explain this is a little vague but I was very mean about my interpretation. I had both players roll for levelling up. The guy with the most kills was going to level up regardless (and only once), but the other player had to beat him on the roll to level up too. As it were the they both got to level, but I think that added a little tension.

I like that very much and may well use it next time we only had two players. As it happens, in this last session, both characters failed their Development rolls, which had not yet occurred.

... one of players came up the idea of checking, Star Trek style, the captain's video log at the abadoned outpost. I rewarded this idea by revleaing in my description the alien ability, which it had not come into play yet. Seemed a good way to make the in between scene have a real impact on the encounter scenes. Would have been even better if I'd actually used the AA, but that is besides the point.

It still happened during the mission, on the planet, right? Pretty much a tactical "investigation roll" and nothing to do with the concept of a meaningful SIS inside which the whole missions occur. Or to put it differently, when you call this scene "particularly effective," what do you mean? As far as I can, it wasn't effective at all if what we're talking about is that larger-scale imagined-stuff. It seems like an effective NFA roll in the course of a mission based on a player's good idea, which is cool (I agree about that) but not about much more.

Now for the primary issue that I was talking about. This next bit is a guess, because I'm not sure what you mean by "Shared fiction vs. mechanics balance." My guess is that you're talking about playing such that a story-about-stuff emerges right there in play, vs. playing such that strategizing to win (presumably character survival or advancement) becomes a fun competition. Is that right? If not, correct me, but if so, then yes, you're right - that is indeed the question. I would phrase it, what are you playing for?

For instance, I know why we (my group) play it. We love it as a rules-set for making a story with a powerful theme, especially when we don't pre-plan what happens (beyond normal prep, I mean) or what that theme will be. I'll talk about what that means, to illustrate, but please don't get the idea that I'm saying you must do this as well in order to "play right." I'm describing it so you can see what I mean by "playing on purpose," and perhaps how finding your group's purpose can help you decide how to use the rules, or change them if you want.

So, in our second session, Chris couldn't make it but Tim A could, in addition to Tim K. Hence in the story, Deet wasn't there, so I had our new LT Gunther in command of one of the other squads under him; this one includes Trooper Kowalski, cheerfully described by his player, Tim A, as a Lazy Fuck. I also returned the hapless LT Hussein, an NPC, into the story; he begged to go on the mission because he never got the chance and people made fun of him in the shower for it.

I rolled up Monet, AA = 6, Cloud/gas planet, Plants, Ignore Armor (holy shit, it costs no Tokens, even). With two players I had 10 Tokens, which I decided to divide up 2-3-5. (I was determined to get Strengths and Weaknesses into play, dammit).

Rather than narrate the session bit by bit, here are some of the things we did that led to the mission being a decisive piece of that "make theme" purpose in play. First, Gunther had to receive his higher briefing before he briefed the troopers; that's when he got to see the sorority-girls, ping-pong games, and full-screen TV in the had to get higher briefing, then brief the men. He also had it confirmed to him that he was considered a unique security risk (remember the failed MI NFA roll last time). He also learned that the brass wanted him to sacrifice a significant number of the squad to test out a new tactic. Second, the situation in the mission, involving many floating jet-rafts and lots of room for disastrous NFA results, required constant leadership - and more importantly, it became extremely obvious to the soldiers that the LT was trying to get them killed.

So basically, the mission itself is a fun and dangerous vehicle for more general conflicts among the levels of command, especially disregard for the troops (who when all is said and done are fully capable of fragging you). As a GM I left it totally open to Tim K to see whether Gunther would act to protect the men (in defiance of his secret orders) or not. After all, one skill 3:16 players seem to develop quickly is how to mislead the reportage of a mission, both during and afterwards. It was also totally open to Tim A to see whether Kowalski was going to put up with this (did you notice the rule that fragging your commanding officer and covering it up actually gets you his rank? see page 30), especially as he figured out pretty fast that Gunther kept putting the men at risk.

As the mission progresses, you never know when these issues will come to a head, or how. In our case, it turned out to hinge on poor LT Hussein. As they prepared to descend into the next layer of cloud to confront the final-encounter, huge, monster-flower thing, he gave the first and only entirely competent, strategic command of his whole life. His instructions on deploying the rafts would have protected the men very well in the fight, but that wasn't going to get LT Gunther his recognition for fulfilling the mission (i.e. massacring the men). So he pushed the poor guy off the raft, killing him.

Although the fights themselves were lots of fun, and Kowalski was especially hilariously competent in the way that only a totally lazy fuck who just wants to get out of the action can be, this type of moment was really the climax, or the point, of play for us. It was nicely punctuated by the fact that Tim A used a Flashback (Strength) for Kowalski to beat the last encounter, and narrated it as the squad surviving anyway! In other words, "inadvertently," Kowalski totally made Gunther fail his secret mission. So that means Hussein was murdered for absolutely nothing. Such play is what we're all about.

Like I said, my point is not that you must play like that or will be "wrong" if you do. If you want to focus on strategic matters and getting through missions in the spirit of fun competition against danger, sort of like a good challenging video game, you can, although some of the rules mechanics are going to seem irrelevant, and it's not exactly clear whether any of them can be interpreted as "rewards." High rank pretty much targets you for assassination; continued play brings Hatred for Earth into the picture, which is a recipe for mutiny. I guess the GM could custom-make Terra as a special Big Bad opponent for a grand finale. Or something like that. You'll have to decide what rules either get de-emphasized or excised if that's what you and the others want. So for me, the multi-GMing thing is a horrible idea, as given our purpose, it would make the process into a wind-up toy rather than a developing fiction. Whereas it might be OK for you, depending on what you want to play for.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 13, 2008, 04:42:41 AM
This thread and [3:16] On the South Coast ... ( are closely related.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: gsoylent on November 13, 2008, 10:59:36 AM
I referred to the "Star Trek log" scene as particularly effective because it seemed like the perfect marriage between story fluff - those things the contribute towards atmosphere, that allow characters to express their individuality and that help scratch the creative itch - and the game proper in which the things players do materially contribute towards a final victory (or defeat).

Now one could just as easily play Space Hulk, and I guess it's a fine game, but it doesn't really do the story stuff fluff. Or you could play something like Call of Cthulhu which is rich on story fluff but in which, at least the times I played it, most of the stuff the characters do turns out to be just filler, just a way of passing time until the big final ritual which you traditional disrupt with tons of dynamite anyway.

3:16 interests me because it seems as to me as an attempt to bring the two strands together. If I've read it right, you can stage in 3:16 as crazy and colourful a scene you want but because in the end it boils down to a finite number of Threat Tokens, these scenes are not just filler, never just coolness for coolness sake.  The Strength and Weakness also would appear to work on this same principle - character defining moments underpinned by a game altering move. That is how I hope it will work (still only played in once so far).

The worse case scenario for me is if 3:16 ends up working like Japanese video game, with a mixture of arcade action sequences followed by a long cut scenes which have no bearing on anything and drive the player to frantically hit the Escape key in the hope skipping past it quickly.

As for the PvP and military satire aspects you describe as being central of the game, honestly, I didn't really get that. I am not saying it isn't there, but all I registered was a healthy dose of black humour.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Lance D. Allen on November 13, 2008, 11:27:29 PM
PvP isn't necessary. Neither is Military Satire.

Both are options that are encouraged by the game.

The games I've run have all been for soldiers. I've played military satire. They've played it straight. In some ways, I think that will begin to tell in time. The satire will become closer to home, less fantastical Gulliver's Travels-style satire, and more of the darker side of what we see every day.

Eventually if your group allows the game to grow serious, the humor will get blacker, and the player characters will begin to turn on each other. My second group did it in all three sessions we've played. No players have killed each other yet, but it's come down to it. The scariest part is that I didn't prompt it at ALL. I try to go into 3:16 with relatively blind players, so that anything that happens is emergent, not based on stories of what has happened in previous games.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 20, 2008, 08:06:26 AM
Hey Lance,

That post reads to me as if you're saying "either way works," but as I see it, its content agrees with my point. The game itself is structured such that black humor arises, especially directed toward the military as such. Playing it as a kind of level-up kill-bugs video game opens a door to that more central effect; I'm pretty sure that if the video-funsy approach stayed central, various rules and procedures would probably get shifted to accomodate it.

I don't want to mis-read your post, so check me on this: I think you're also distinguishing between over-the-top, in-your-face, GM-directed satire vs. the lurking, emergent, perhaps ultimately more gut-punching satire. If so, then I totally agree. I'm thinking that in my next game, I'll probably start with less overt/surreal satire on my part, as there's little need to front-load it.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Lance D. Allen on November 20, 2008, 02:42:23 PM
It's been a week of long nights since I wrote that, but yes I think I was basically thinking what you're saying. More to the point, nothing you've just said disagrees with anything I've observed about the game.

I do think the GM has the responsibility to play the game the way his players are. If the players are consistently playing it as meaningless shoot-em-up fun, then he shouldn't try to force theme on them. Let it happen. I was playing up the satire on ship, but I'd started to make it more serious. I figure, why can't the officer be a good officer? Once SGT Horton's character made LT, The old officer got moved away, and he met the CO. The CO is a mid-level functionary who doesn't question what happens to the soldiers because at least it's not him. He'll try to get LT Sam into the good-ol'-boy club, but I think Sam may play his own game. On the flip-side, he did order his troopers to wipe out the corrupted troopers even after he realized that they were troopers just like him, rather than possessed corpses. They were 'corrupt' because they didn't kill off the peaceful alien life. I think that may end up becoming telling, one way or the other, if we get a chance to continue.

So, in short: Don't force it. Play it straight. It'll happen if the group is capable of making it happen.

Title: Re: [3:16] Way Too Easy Or Just Got the Rules Wrong?
Post by: Gregor Hutton on November 21, 2008, 10:55:05 AM
Thanks for that Lance and Ron. I'm in total agreement.

I remember when I did the 24-hour version and Roger panned me ( for "...[making] (in my opinion) the classic error of Narrative games.  It answers the Premise.  It tells you what conclusion to reach." I don't think it does that at all.

It does make you have to answer it yourself at some point if you engage with your characters and the game, and it's not as simple as the GM forcing it out there. It builds. And that, in my book, is a good thing.

For me, I'm not sure I know the answer but I want to find out.