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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13298 Members Latest Member: - Nicholas Mizer Most online today: 50 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [3:16] On the South Coast... (at IndieCon)  (Read 5333 times)
Gregor Hutton
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« on: November 11, 2008, 09:16:01 AM »

I had a great time at IndieCon near Southampton from Thursday night through to Monday morning. The group of us there ended up playing in and running a lot of Indie games: Polaris, Poison'd, Hot War, Trollbabe, Spirit of the Century, Duty & Honour, 3:16, Contenders, Savage Empires (Cursed Empire using Savage Worlds) and Dead of Night, as well as playtests of A Taste For Murder (Graham Walmsley) and Ordinary Angels (Andrew Kenrick). We even had a small game of Iain McAllister's Revenge of the B-Movie card game.

Anyway, I ended up running 4 games of 3:16 Carnage Amongst The Stars rather than 2 due to player demand, which was great!

Each game was different in its own way.

Game 1. Two missions: A forest moon killing Ewoks and Skywalker, followed by a waterworld killing Psychic sharks. Playing up on the Star Wars parody a little and played lighter as it was during the morning. The abilities were "Ambush" and then "Lasting Wounds". No PC casualties although I screwed a few Strengths and Weaknesses out over the two missions. We also had a Corporal get promoted to Sergeant after the first mission then hit with Force Weakness on the second, followed by a swift demotion. The cynicism of the Commanding Officer pinning a second Crimson Sword on the once-again Corporal with the words "if you keep this up you could make Sergeant" was biting.

Game 2. One Mission: an "Iraq"-style planet (I even called it "Planet Iraq" on the sign-up sheet) of "Apes" (according to the briefing the aliens were "97% similar to Terran Apes") that ended up being about killing the Troopers of the 1:24 who had given up on slaughter (and were 100% similar to Terran Troopers). The ability was "Suicide" and the mood was harsh and militaristic (one of the players had been in the Navy and served in Iraq). Lots of banter and character play here, with inventive use of things to get +1s. The tragedy of the final encounter was increased when the players almost got an Ambush (ruined by a Trooper player unwittingly rolling a failure in the Dominance test). So rather than a safe ending the Troopers ended up in a bloody battle with suicide bombers on board their own ship. They won out in the end but used up handfuls of Strengths and Weaknesses.

Game 3: One Mission: a "Fantasy"-style planet (poking fun at Fantasy RPGs and their superdetailed maps and ridiculous PC creature types). The enemy ability was "Stop Technology". Lighter and in the morning again. This one actually ended with 2 out of the 4 PCs dead and a third only surviving because of a Weakness in the final encounter. Slightly ribald and with me rolling pretty well as the aliens.

Game 4: One Mission: a poisonous planet of Dogmen Troopers, mirror images of the 3:16, really. Darker again, as the other evening game was. The enemy ability was "Induce Weakness". Again the tone was very military and had surreal scenes such as the Sarge enforcing his dominance on one Trooper by pissing on him. The Trooper took it in his stride by using soap to have an impromptu shower, increasing the morale of the other Troopers considerably. Almost a TPK on an E-Vac (!) saved only by a Strength from a player. Chemical weapons, trench warfare and artillery shelling were the order of the day here. A corporal got a field promotion when it looked like the Sarge was dead (drowned,ironically, in his own piss...) but it ended with both Sarges surviving and putting each other up for demotion: both cases were not proven.

Generally the "light" games had very "gamey" or "typical RPG traits" for Strengths and Weaknesses. The "darker" games had what you normally tag as "positive" traits as Weaknesses and things like "Dog torturer" and "Serial poisoner" as Strengths (!). We had some PCs playing in more than one game (three PCs made it into two games, one of whom died in their second game having exhausted Flashbacks in the first... good!).

As ever I found it incredibly trivial for me to run 3:16 with no preparation and the players were excellent. The darker games, escpecially, found that place in the roleplaying where we were playing a game but also showning some of ourselves in play too. Thought provoking stuff at times, and macho murder at others.

Some of the players talk about the games here.
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Graham W
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2008, 04:38:44 PM »

I played in Game 1. It was pretty good: one thing I like about 3:16 is that it lets trad players and more enlightened indie players play side-by-side.

I wasn't into the parodic Star Wars jokes, though. I like 3:16 when it feels real.

Graham
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2008, 02:11:24 PM »

Isn't Corrupt Troopers + Suicide just the most amazing combo? I was so tickled to roll it in my game. Fantastic bit about the "apes," too.

Gregor, what kind of out-of-mission play did these games feature?

I ask for a lot of reasons, but it goes all the way back to GenCon, when John Harper blew my mind by devoting enormous amounts of play-time to on-ship shenanigans, mostly Catch-22 as if written by Hunter S. Thompson. I'd done a teeny bit of that already mainly by playing up both the Briefing and Medals, but he ... well, geez.

It may be that the con environment didn't really let you do this? Or did it? And if not, is that something you do much in your own non-convention games?

What I'm after is whether character interactions, conditions on board ship, military soap opera (for lack of a better word), and stuff like that form a larger fiction in which the missions are embedded. I mean, consequential interactions between non-mission and mission, such as a bureaucratic altercation that leads to someone getting fragged, that kind of thing.

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2008, 02:21:23 AM »

My suicide bombers were shouting "For Terra!" at the end. It was the "Snivelling" Sergeant's "Well connected" Strength that killed them off -- the Ministry of Peace did the dirty work and the Sergeant got the kill credits, a Crimson Sword and a meal of Roast Space Boar with a Lt Colonel out of it... you can imagine that no one cried when he was killed on a future mission... (by a Trooper using a smuggled TPK bomb that I let him have).

Oh, in Game 4 (the Dogmen one) there was a lot of stuff before they even got off the spaceship. One trooper (Felcher) complained that his bed was lumpy and was trying to snag a nice bunk by trying them all, which was (with a failed NFA roll) upsetting the whole squad. The Corporal got him to stay in one bunk on an opposed NFA check, pairing him up with the ever-questioning Rammer ("Please, sir, please, sir..."). The Sergeant hit the roof with Rammer's questioning and complaints about the food and drink, which ended up with Rammer being pissed on. He took it in his stride though and asked Sarge if he should move closer to make it easier given the Sarge's equipment. He turned it into a surreal shower with soap and a towel while the Sarge was showing him who was boss.

It did have the effect of lifting morale, though.

Then Sarge was briefed intensively for the planet (I make all the briefings start at 7 and end at 11, no senior officers appear for the first two weeks and then all the info is given in a rush at the end; maps are plain coloured circles with the southern hemisphere on the reverse, possibly of a slightly different shade) while Felcher was made to do all the beds and laundry for a month. Of course, Felcher decides to give all the other Troopers crabs, which he amazingly succeeded on, with only him and Rammer in the same bunk being mysteriously unaffected. This resulted in everyone being shaved and fumigated before planetfall. Rammer failed to convince a nurse to inspect him privately and personally, while he was snooping about the ship instead of doing actual work.

The last things before going off the ship were the Sarge putting the awkward Troopers with a pilot he knew to be crazy (from a previous mission) which gave them a -1 to NFA to avoid being sick on the way down. The Officers went with a better pilot who gave them a +1. And as it was a poisoned planet the troops were told that they couldn't open their visors dirtside at all. This caused moans and complaints and lots of "final" cancer sticks before the drop. This came back into the fiction when they found a bunker with a purified atmosphere on the planet (it was a Dogman command post) and the FIRST thing everyone did was flip up their visors for a cancer stick. They all asked for a +1 for their next roll at this and I said "sure!".

Sarge also made Rammer swap armour with him between encounters after he was targeted by the Dogmen because of his rank (they used Induce Weakness and the Sarge drowned in his own piss as his suit was sealed and the urine bottle was overfull). The Sarge stuck the aircon on HOT! and locked it before passing it on to Rammer, while Rammer made sure to leave his suit a filthy mess for Sarge. This was directly as a result of Sarge pissing on Rammer on the ship.

On the planet the majority of stuff between encounters came from their duplicity in talking to command. A Corporal got field-promoted because he told the bosses what they wanted to hear and Sarge was off disciplining Rammer (in Rammer's suit). This led to a heated set of Court Martials at mission end where both cases were "not proven" and the two Sergeants kept their ranks. (In fact, the Corporal would have made Lieutenant in one mission and been immune from a Court Martial if he'd made the Development Roll.)

Also between encounters they tried to tackle the enemy in smaller groups, doing fictional stuff to encourage me to only push a couple of Threat Tokens into an encounter rather than 4 or 5. Finally when they had reduced my pile in small increments they launched a full assault on an enemy position. Having softened up the rearguard over a couple of encounters I pushed in more Tokens for a final (bloody as it turned out) battle.

Certainly the between encounters stuff was mostly about "being in character" and using their imagined ranks and equipment to shout back and forth. Generally the Troopers being unhelpful and the NCOs trying to get everyone to follow the instructions from above, but finding the orders more unhelpful than the Troopers.

But, yes, just having encounters and nothing in between, or no context for the encounters, is much less satisfying. And the little things like avoiding getting Flight Lieutenant Steve Storm as your drop ship pilot becomes important (40% of the NPCs dropped on Storm's ship were gassed on landing by the poisonous atmosphere since their helmets were up because of the landing sickness).
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2008, 04:43:06 AM »

This thread and [3:16] Way too easy or just got the rules wrong? are closely related.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2008, 04:28:49 AM »

Oh, I knew I had something else to add here about these games. In one of them we had a planet ended by a Weakness, which is a rare but possible event (since use of  a Weakness removes a Threat Token from the encounter).

I can't remember exactly what the weakness was in that case -- but as far as I can recall the player didn't get any kills, though he was attributed with the destruction of an alien race and awarded a medal. I think the medal was viewed with disgust by everyone's PCs, since we all knew the aliens had killed themselves and this flawed character had been rewarded for their downfall. I think it was going to make him a marked man if the game had continued.
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