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Author Topic: [3:16] Planet Bosch: Stop Picking At It  (Read 10705 times)

Posts: 155

« on: November 02, 2008, 05:15:08 PM »

I'd been eager to try out 3:16 Carnage Among the Stars, and when we had an unexpected GM-less session, I whipped up Planet Bosch and threw the players into it.

Planet Bosch rolled up as a forested world of dinosaurs, with the "End Encounter" ability.  I decided that the dinosaurs had, at once time, been an advanced civilization, but they'd nuked themselves back to the stone age.  Also, they had chameleon skin-changing abilities (hence the "end encounter" schtick).

Juli said she never played combat monster characters, so she took Fighting Ability 7 and Non-Fighting Ability 3.  Dave, not to be outdone, went for FA 8 and NFA 2, leaving Juli's character as the Sergeant and his as the Corporal.  She armed herself with a heavy MG, while he took an E-Cannon. 

Their C.O., Lieutennant Wang, irritably gave them their orders.

WANG: All right, there's some scaly bastards down on the planet and we think they were an advanced civilization once upon a time.  There are big patches of radioactive waste on the surface and they seem to be pretty primitive, but we're keeping an eye on 'em in case they figure out the lever and the block and tackle again.  Unfortunately, one of our satellites went into some kind of degraded orbit or some damn thing, crashed down right here in Black Fog Valley.  It's not responding or broadcasting.  We can't get a visual from orbit because of the black fog.  The whole planet's laced with metal, so detecting it that way is out, and because of the frequent and powerful electrical storms, radio's dicey too.  So instead we're sending down you maggots.  You're gonna drop on this hill here, head down into the valley, find the satellite and blow it up with grenades.  Should be a piece of cake, even for ignorant dopes like you.  Got it?  Go.

And they went, the two PCs and troopers Johnson, Dickson and Crumb.  I described the vertiginous drop pod descent, no windows, increasing heat, trying not to think about all the troopers they'd known who were reported MIA after heat shields on their pods failed, and then they felt the craft impact something solid, then careen off something less solid, and then impact and stop at about a 30 degree angle.  Slowly, the landing gear compensated and the pod opened like a flower, revealing their foggy, forested destination.

Remarkably, the Sergeant managed to operate the map and orient them towards the valley before the first dinos charged out of the undergrowth and made for Trooper Johnson.  I'd committed three Threat Tokens to this.  But Sarge had been alert, succeeded on yet another NFA roll (her NFA is THREE, remember, so she has a 30% success rate) and they got to pick their range.  They chose Near and the Corporal blazed away with his E-Cannon.

Cool battle-mat with figures!

A few dinos managed to get to close range, where the Sarge calmly dispatched six of them with her sidearm.  Having destroyed a fair number of trees, it was now much easier to walk to the edge of Black Fog Valley.

As an aside, I'd set the Alien Ability at "Average of highest FA and lowest NFA" which came out at 5, but after watching the dinos get their asses kicked, I spontaneously upped it to 7 for the second encounter.  This one was when they were looking for a descent into the valley, and were walking along the cliff edge with the deep fog below.  As they were walking, a big metal lump flew out of the undergrowth near them -- like an iron potato, only closer to the size of a small melon.

To my great surprise, the two PCs immediately started analyzing the rock to see if it might not be a part of the satellite.  They KNEW it'd been thrown, because they considered that the natives might have done their job for them.  Even more surprising, Sarge made another NFA to determine that, no, this was native slag.  She was unable to similarly analyze the next dozen rocks that began to bombard them.

This fight had just one token, but since everyone failed their NFA rolls the encounter started at Far range.  Neither PC had a weapon that did damage at Far, so they got pelted as they failed ANOTHER NFA roll to close in, and trooper Dickson got knocked off the cliff.   I gave him a very, very long "NOOOOOOOoooooooooooo...!" as he fell.

Both PCs got pelted, with the Corporal getting his armor's faceplate shattered, taking damage before they managed to close.  I decided that since I hadn't used the special ability before, and the encounter was just one token, I'd spend that token and have the dinos disappear.  I also adjusted Alien Ability down to 6.  So they burned down a bunch more forest but found no bones, no flesh, no nothin'.  They radioed in to the unsympathetic Lt. Wang, reporting that the enemy "Might be able to teleport."

WANG: So what, you want me to come down there and hold your hands?  You're troopers, you're supposed to be the toughest fighters in the cosmos, able to confront greater numbers of aliens with superior technology through sheer guts!  My first mission as a trooper, I was up against aliens that could teleport and they weren't just primitive caveman dinosaur pukes, they had ray guns and could shoot fire out of their EYES, and the fire, when it touched your skin, its fuel was poison and I've still got scars over 3/4 of my lower back from that fire poison fuel...

GM: He can go on like this for hours.

CORPORAL: I think more enemies are attacking!  Gotta go!

At that point, they heard Dickson's voice from below them.  "Hello?  Sarge?  Crumb?  Can... can someone come an' save me please?"

Somehow he'd survived the fall, and could see a path down the side of the cliff.  He fired a flare towards it and, with both PCs making NFA rolls (!) one could figure out where he was, and the other could figure out where the trailhead was.

The trail was narrow and scary, though thankfully the black fog kept them from seeing just how far down it was.  They could see dinosaur prints on the path, too.

They'd been descending a while before they heard Dickson start screaming, shooting and throwing grenades. 

CORPORAL: Well, so much for Dickson.
CRUMB: He's dead.
JOHNSON: I can still hear him screaming!
CRUMB: I said he's dead!

But the loyal Sergeant forced them on, and they came on Dickson being pinned down and jumped on by several dinos, who were picking apart his gear. 

Everyone failed NFA rolls for dominance again (and I got a laugh describing a dino blowing its own head off while looking down the barrel of Dickson's slug gun and shaking it).  At far range, the PCs had learned their lesson and kept trying to press closer.  This time, the aliens did too, leaving the Corporal at Near range and the Sergeant at Close.  Dickson, meanwhile, was randomly throwing grenades, which nearly missed his comrades.

CORPORAL: Duck, sir.
JOHNSON: I think they're trying to flank us from the trail!  I'll go guard the rear!

This was a two Token encounter, and both PCs rolled FA successes.  The corporal greased another batch of aliens (and Dickson) while one jumped on Sarge and tried to bite her head off.  But she calmly got her machinegun up into its belly and let it rip.

GM: It's actually kind of pretty, because when it spatters up into the air the chromo-cells on its skin go crazy, rotating through yellow and blue and green before falling to the soil in gray chunks.

As the smoke cleared -- and they did, at last, pierce the thick layer of black smoke, which formed a ceiling around them -- they found that the whole valley was filled with bones, like some kind of dinosaur graveyard.  They whipped out tri-corders and tried to figure out where the satellite had fallen.  The Corporal failed and I described how pretty his tri-corder teacher had been. 

GM: Yeah, you remember her saying something about the red icon that's popping up now, the one that looks like a capital M with an arrow coming out the top?  But you for sure have no idea what it meant, because she licked her lips right before she stared talking... aaaaand then there's a rumble and the ground splits open belching black smoke up to the sky and flinging bones for about thirty feet in every direction.  It's like Old Faithful, only with smoke.

So they just picked a direction and started walking.  Oh, and at some point I gave this little speech, in response (I think) to questions about their armor. 

GM: Yeah, they have night vision and spectrum scanning and all that built into the visors, along with a spotlight on the side of the helmet, but no one uses that light.  There's this crazy, baseless superstition that if you use the helmet light, someone will shoot your brains out. 

I think I also mentioned the Squad Urine Level Monitor.  (See page 87.)

After a long hike, they spotted a rise ahead.  Kicking up the magnification on their visors, they saw a crater, and part of the satellite sticking up above it!  But they also saw lizards dancing around the rim and drumming.

CORPORAL: Oh maaaan, did they make our dead satellite their god?

After some discussion of tactics, they just decided to go in shooting.  (The squad urine monitor jumped with THAT decision.)  This was the big four-token finale, and I'd adjusted AA down to 5 again.  (Yeah, next time I'm going to pick a number and stick with it, like the book says to do.)  They got to a pretty good range and opened up.  The lizards tried to charge, and found out that charging a heavy MG is not a good idea.  So then they retreated behind the rim of the crater and started throwing stones.  Sarge tried to angle her bullets up over the rim, the corporal just shot into the dirt, blasting and melting all over the place, while the two remaining troopers shot wildly. 

GM: You fire, empty your clips, reload, empty those clips and pause.  It's silent.  You think it over for a moment, reload, empty another set of clips, and then go in to check it out.  There's nothing left of them.

It also appeared that the satellite had crashed down onto a huge, giant dino.  They piled their grenades in (with Crumb asking for, and getting, permission to keep a few back) and then left the crater just in time to see a huge crowd of dinos closing in on them from every direction.  They had a moment in which to curse their fate, but then the satellite blew up and the crowd scattered.

DAVE: Why do we wind up killing a god in every game you run, Greg?
ME: That is kind of a leitmotif, isn't it?  Odd.

They got back to their ship, got medals, both leveled up, and had their performance reviewed once the footage from their gun cameras was downloaded.  After viewing the film, Wang came up to the corporal and said, "You do know this switch on your E-Cannon shifts it to far range mode, right?"  Seeing the corporal's blank look, he just said, "Well, practice with that a little, you did a good job down there on those dino bastards."  Then he went off to have raunchy sex with the tri-corder instructor.


edited by me to turn the image into a link - RE
« Last Edit: November 03, 2008, 04:40:48 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2775

« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2008, 06:07:41 PM »

Heh, that was pretty entertaining. Good job on those lizards.

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Posts: 99

« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2008, 11:29:54 AM »


I have never heard of this game. It appears to be an extremely close parallel of a game I’ve been kicking around for about a year.  After reading your AP post, the on-line review, and even some of the illustrations (!!) posted to the web site I think I’m going to have to trash all my notes and move onto another project.


Sounds like a fun game, though…I may have to purchase it.


Lance D. Allen

Posts: 1970

« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2008, 04:59:34 AM »

Purchase it, read it, play it.

Then consider trashing your progress, not before.

It may be that your game would have similar fiction, but handle it very differently, in a way that will be fun for different people and different reasons.

~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls

Posts: 99

« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2008, 07:39:48 AM »

Excellent advice…no, really, I already plan to do this.  I just wasn’t able to use my home internet last night or I would have already purchased the pdf!

Unfortunately, it’s not just the fiction/setting (which is actually more than a little different).  It’s the theme (over the top violence in space + dark humor) coupled with the mechanics…specifically the random planet-alien-power/ability opponent generation (got the same thing) and the single-double attribute (fighting ability + non-fighting ability) that are the same (mine was inspired by Trollbabe and AssassinX, by the way).
However, after reading the 24 hour version and all the Actual Play posts, Gregor’s game seems to be much more polished and refined with what he does…well, heck his game is finished!

I’m just amazed that parallel ideas get developed…and that I completely missed Forge postings on a game that’s been in circulation for at least 2 years!  I just never bothered to read AP posts with “3:16” in the title, I guess!

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 17707

« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2008, 07:55:32 AM »

Hey Jonathan,

Greg's account doesn't include the anti-militarist content and rather subversive character development mechanics which are the real meat of 3:16, in my view. I'm not saying it's not present in his game or won't develop over time, only that it's not in the post.

If your game prioritizes the fun of blow-shit-up and celebration of macho soldiery, then you can be sure that it and 3:16 are in different dimensions.

Best, Ron
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