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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 21 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [3:16] one player play  (Read 2913 times)
Marshall Burns
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Posts: 573

American Wizard


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« on: February 10, 2009, 03:26:42 PM »

Yesterday, I GMed some 3:16 for my cousin James.  We were actually slated to play some Dread, but the GM (Steven, from all of my previous APs) was sick.  James came from out of town to play, so, bygoddammit, we were gonna play something.

I handed him a stack of books that I figured we might be able to play with just the two of us, and told him to pick one and we'd try our damnedest.  He picked 3:16.  He also asked me if I had any appropriate music to play in the background.  I dug through my CDs and found one that I picked up from the pawnshop (where I often go to buy music I've never heard of, as it's only a $3 risk), Scorched Earth by a band called Wardog.  It's heavy metal, and the instrumentation ain't bad, but MAN are the lyrics cheesy ("Dying like a hero / Living from the soul / Left alone...").  And it was absolutely perfect.  We immediately decided that it was Shorty's favorite album, and could easily picture him blaring it in the barracks and headbanging, much to the chagrin of everyone else.

I told him to make two PCs, because 5 Threat for a planet was gonna make for some really really short missions.  As it turned out, 10 Threat was also shorter than I would have liked.  Also, two PCs for one player doesn't work all that great for 3:16, because one's a corporal, one's a sergeant, and no PCs are troopers.  His PCs were the cool and tactical Sergeant Tex (who wasn't from Texas), and gung-ho Corporal Shorty (who wasn't short).  Shorty turned out to be not so much gung-ho as psychotic, but he also saved the squad's bacon numerous times, and came out of the third mission with over 150 total kills.

Since we were playing at the drop of a hat, I didn't have time to build any good NPCs.  It takes me time to do; otherwise, my NPCs end up shallow and barely any different from each other.

Due to the single player and lack of good NPCs, there was not much meat for conflict in the game.  Luckily, the absolute coolness of the encounter system and the planet generation covered this up, and we had a decent amount of fun anyway.  We ended up playing three missions, one per planet.  My favorite was the last one:  AA 7, electrical storms, plants, exploding bodies.  I decided it was an investigative mission:  although scans of the planet had shown no signs of animal life, something was killing bases that were set up to harness the electrical storms.  It turned out to be the trees.  Acting as capacitors, they stored (and could discharge) lightning from the storms.  This is also why they exploded.

That's a perfect example of why I love the generators.  The way it gives you some stuff, and you decide how it makes sense, and it all works -- it just comes out beautiful and fun.

The mechanics also turned out to be significantly more intricate than I thought they were, which was a pleasant surprise.  I also flubbed the rules a few times, but about half of these flubs made things easier and half made them harder, so it was okay.  I'm really looking forward to playing this with a larger number of players.

-Marshall
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Daniel B
Member

Posts: 196

Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2009, 12:32:24 AM »

I don't know anything about 3:16 but what I've read on the Forge (.. it sounds like a wicked game), although as an often-GM I'm always interested in methods of quick content generation. Willing to tell more about the planet generation system?

Dan
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Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
Marshall Burns
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Posts: 573

American Wizard


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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 07:22:51 AM »

Oh, it's dead simple, man.  You have 5 rolling charts of 20 options each, so you can just pick or you can roll 5d20.  First one sets the Alien Ability (AA) relative to the PCs' stats.  AA is what the aliens roll on whenever they're trying to do stuff -- so, some planets end up with tougher aliens, some with weaker, and this relative strength/weakness is actually a tool for the GM to make things interesting.  Like, AA 2 can be made interesting when the aliens are cute little fuzzy-wuzzy Ewoks or something.

The second table tells you the planet's name.  They're all names of artists, which is great.

The third tells you the planet's general description; arid, ice-covered, electrical storms, etc.

The fourth tells you the aliens' basic form; plants, fish, shadowbeasts, dinosaurs, etc.

The fifth tells you what special ability the aliens get; regeneration, suicide, lasting wounds, etc.  They're all nasty.

Then, as GM, you take all this stuff and decide how it makes sense.  E.g. how do your dinosaurs inflict Lasting Wounds?  How do your shadowbeasts End Encounter?  How are these aliens tied to the world?

It's fun all by itself.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2009, 10:58:16 AM »

Thanks for posting this Mashall.

I figure that when GMing with one or two players the GM should be mindful to bring the best AA that he can. The players are going to level up, the question is: with this character or another?

One thing is that you'll reach Hatred For Home quicker, but how many Flashbacks will you have spent to get there? One of the advantages of being in a group is letting other players use Flashbacks to save everyone. In a smaller group you can only rely on a much more limited number, and 50% of them will only be saving the user. One way to get more Strengths in to the group is to let a character die. I incentivized that process. As a player, is it worth it? And when is it worth it?

In a two-player game I ran one PC bugged out of the encounter on the first turn. Leaving 3 or 4 Threat Tokens to face off against a single PC. That's harsh! 3 Tokens sounds hardly any, but when you can only remove one a Round it can get nasty, fast.
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Marshall Burns
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Posts: 573

American Wizard


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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2009, 11:08:49 AM »

Hi, Greg!

I figure that when GMing with one or two players the GM should be mindful to bring the best AA that he can. The players are going to level up, the question is: with this character or another?

This is exactly what I did on the third planet.  I picked it instead of rolling for it.  James was like, "Hey!" and I was like, "Dude, Tex just got promoted to Lieutenant, so now you've got a drop pod and shit; let's see if you're worth to have it."

Hey, while you're here, I got a rules question.

So, I succeed on AA.  So the book says that I do a Kill to everyone who failed or had a worse success, and I can change ranges one step on at the end of my turn.  I can only change ranges on PCs who rolled worse than me, right? 
Also, for all PCs that I move, must I move them in the same direction?
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2009, 12:04:38 PM »

Hey Marshall

So, I succeed on AA.  So the book says that I do a Kill to everyone who failed or had a worse success, and I can change ranges one step on at the end of my turn. I can only change ranges on PCs who rolled worse than me, right?

Yes. That's right. On your turn, you kill and then you can move PCs if they rolled worse (not the same or better) than you.

Also, for all PCs that I move, must I move them in the same direction?

No. You can move some closer, and describe how aliens swarm towards them in the fiction, while moving others further away, and describe how the enemy gets to a longer range relative to that PC. You can even "boot" PCs beyond Far Range if you wish, before they get to remove a Threat Token on their Turn.

My answer to players who bleat at the aliens doing this? Roll better.
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Marshall Burns
Member

Posts: 573

American Wizard


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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2009, 12:34:10 PM »

Ah, fantastic, 'cause that what I was doing:  moving Shorty far away where his MG wasn't any use, and moving Tex up close where his slug rifle wasn't any use, and describing how the bugs swept in and divided the troops, and so on.
(Of course, my lightning trees moved everyone they could to Close, so that they could use Exploding Bodies.  Which became a matter of the trees' slow but relentless advance.  They were fun.)

Except for the Beyond Far.  I missed that rule until a re-read last night!

Thanks, Greg!
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