[3:16] First time play and questions for long play

Started by RPL, May 05, 2010, 02:38:49 PM

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Hey there,

I played 3:16 for the first time this past Sunday, to fill in for our regular D&D 4ed game. First time GMing with first time players (with this game).

We played the example planet Goya and followed roughly the encounters the book described. I added two additional encounters with the Big Bad Daddy Dinosaur and the nest of offspring he was protecting.

I liked this game, especially the procedures behind creating planets and missions and such. When I have that kind of solid structure to deal with the mechanics involved I can play with a story much more easily and without any need to pay so much attention to the technical details, they kind of get taken care of by them selves.

However some questions came up regarding how play would advance if we played the full 20 planets story arc.

1 – According to the promotion rules, you only get promoted if you played a strength in a mission and pass the Development Roll (DR).

Considering the highest rank a character can start with is 2, the only way a character can get to rank 7 is if he passed all the DRs of the missions were he used a strength, if he fails one he will never get there.

Every other character however can only do so thru field promotions (since the highest a trooper can get is rank 5).

So am I reading this right or being starting highest rank paints a big target on your back for anyone who wants to be promoted and makes it very difficult to ascend to highest ranks?

2 – What sort of actions can be included into NFA during an encounter, the book only describes moving and changing weapons but a player of mine asked if he could use it to 'give orders', things like moving another player or giving him his action or maybe a bonus for his next action.

So what is the latitude for giving allowing NFA to do more things in combat without 'breaking' the game (if that is even a valid concern)?

3 – Has you advance in rank do you still do planet missions? I mean, is it supposed, for instance, to see an LT Colonel fighting in the trenches side by side with a Trooper or a Corporal?

Or do the missions become of different sort all together. If so could you give some examples?

Thanks in advance.

All the best,


#1 -- It is difficult. And, yes, it does paint a target on your back. But it doesn't necessarily mean you have to kill another character. Your CO could be an NPC...

#2 – Anything and everything that isn't an FA roll is an NFA roll. Everything. Including giving bonuses for your own or someone else's next action. Which is actually all in the book.

#3 – I haven't gotten there yet as my players haven't been too interested in climbing the ranks. As I understand it, as you go up in rank, you start taking command of the battles, directing them even when you're in them, until eventually you're out of them entirely and directing the big stuff: deployment and objectives and so forth.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio

Gregor Hutton

Thanks for the post, D. I think I can answer those questions from my point of view.

(1) Yes, it is very difficult to get to the Higher Ranks and a key point is that since you have to use Strengths to get there, they are no longer available for use once you are at a Higher Rank.

And, yes, being a Higher Rank does increase the chances of a target being put on you. But it depends on how the players want to play it.

If you only ever want one PC and you're not going to take advantage of Field Promotions (and PC death) then the best you can do is 5 ranks up from where you started. I deliberately put the Brigadier one step up from that. So, if anyone wants to go there (and I think that will be a very small subset of players only) then they will have to look for having more than 1 PC and/or at least taking advantage of PC death (if not outright causing it). You could go from Sgt to Lt, then "allow" that PC to die, so putting someone else up to Lt while bringing in a new PC Sarge for yourself. You then wait for the new Lt to get up to Major before getting a Field Promotion somehow (*cough*). But even doing this means you are highly likely to be out of Available Strengths when you get higher up the tree (which is a key and often overlooked point by people focusing on the "prize" of being Brigadier). When you get there you will be vulnerable, often to the characters of players who haven't been as successful at levelling up till now.

On the other hand, it's not assured that you will have a target on your back. I have seen players being "good" sergeants and the Troopers underneath them valuing that, and more than a few times these Sergeants have refused promotion. They're happy where they are.

(2) Anything that isn't fighting is a NFA roll. It can be highly useful in an Encounter to say "I'm sneaking through the enemy bunker looking for the enemy's maps of the planet" (if you have a better NFA than FA). If on your NFA you roll higher than the GM then you won't get killed doing that stuff. Crucially you're not removing any Threat Tokens while rolling NFA, though, so the Threat remains. But as long as you're successful and roll higher than the GM then you're safe and can even leave the Encounter if you move out of "range" (and in the fiction that might even be moving deeper into enemy territory rather than retreating, right?).

(3) If they want to take higher rank my advice is as in the book. Let them do it. As GM you get to be their higher bosses and (even better in my opinion) useless underlings. Sure, from your ivory tower you order an assault on Bosch, but what if the Lts and Sgts are making a pig's ear of it? And just because you're up the ranks doesn't mean you're out of fighting on planets. Consider this from a news story in the UK at the end of April:

QuoteLieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, who commanded 1,000 Welsh Guards, was killed by a Taliban roadside bomb after volunteering to take the most dangerous position in an armoured vehicle to inspire his troops.
An inquest yesterday heard that only three weeks earlier the 39-year- old wrote a damning memo on the lack of helicopter support in Helmand.



Your answers have been highly elucidating, thank you both :)

I think I got the play style that can arise from the game in the long run, now I just need the time to play it out.

I'm still not clear on 2), the examples I've seen in the book and the ones you have just gave refer to actions that you either take before combat to give you an advantage for the first round or to do other things not immediately related to solving combat.

What I'm talking about is using NFA during combat for actions that are not changing weapons or change distance.

The way I see it there are about six things that you can mess about with NFA during a fight:
1) +1/-1 modifiers for your or another character (alien included) action;
2) Modify range;
3) Change weapon;
4) Passed or Failed rolls;
5) Taking action (giving, taking, changing order);
6) Emotional injury (although this one seems strange to me in combat against NPCs, because they can't remove threat tokens, right?).

(If you can think of something else, please let me know).

For instance could you use NFA to either give your fellow troopers a bonus for their next action or a minus for the aliens. Something that sounds pretty cool to me would be during a siege a player climbing up to high ground and direct fire for the company's heavy guns, and in doing so (on a successful NFA roll) he could either give a player another action, counteract a failed FA roll of another player, advance another player action up the "initiative" order, stuff like that, does this seem... errm... legal?

The reason I'm pressing this point is because I'm not always comfortable messing about the core mechanics of some games, particularly those that seem very tight and balanced like 3:16 or D&D.

Gregor, that quote posted about Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe... powerfull shit...


Aaron Baker

At the risk of revealing my day job, I would like to point out that field grade officers are in the trenches all the time.
Admirals and Generals visit the front lines to inspect, inspire, or just to look good to the civilians.  When they do this, there may be grousing about "babysitting," or there may be inspiration and improvements.  Sometimes when the star is there a young LT asks for something crucial and changes the war, other times a young LT asks for something dumb and makes a paperwork nightmare for 3 months...
I sometimes wonder if stars spend more time touring than working, which means that eagles pretty much have to determine course for the military, supported by oak leaves providing info and LT's providing coffee...
Don't get me wrong, grand direction stuff is flags and Civilians, but a lot of important decisions may be made at a lower level because flags are expected to be touring bases and units...  Which may not be a bad thing, leadership is about trust, and developing a staff you can trust is the best way to lead.  A flag who grooms the right eagles and then tours may be showing his trust in his folks, thereby providing better leadership and better future leaders for the military.
So yes, senior officers can and will be in the front lines if they want (aka if the GM and players want).

In an unrelated note, I am not familiar with the game system mentioned, but I wonder how your ranks match US or other service ranks?
Basic rank structure in US is two 9-11 step ranks.  Enlisted go from E-1 to E-9, with the E-9 Master Guns or Master Chief pretty much being the top of his career.  Officer ranks go from O-1 to O-11 (last O-11 was in world war 2 btw), but about half don't make O-6, and few eagles make star rank.
Complicating this is warrants, enlisted to officer programs, and LDO's.  Warrants are essentially enlisted who get to be officers in limited fashion, they have a separate rank ladder (WO1-5) Which is above the enlisted ranks and below the officer ranks.  My observation is that WO's are treated as senior enlisted in the Army and as junior officers in the Navy (WARRANT officers in the Army, warrant OFFICERS in the Navy).  Enlisted to Officer programs allow the best and brightest enlisted to get or finish a college degree and become Ensigns (O-1).  The LDO program lets a mid/senior enlisted E6-8 become a junior officer, which is pretty much a full conversion from enlisted to officer except that they cannot be in charge of troops outside their specialty, I think they all start at Ensign, but I could be wrong.  One limitation on LDO's is that since they have several years in when they convert, they frequently retire at LT or oak leaf rank.
I realize that you have game reasons to restrict this, but I thought having this run-down might be useful to folks designing military games.  If you have further questions, I am happy to provide info, as long as you understand that I do not represent the military and my opinions are just that.

Gregor Hutton

Hi Aaron, thanks for that input.

The ranks in 3:16 are:
Trooper, Corporal and Sergeant
Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel

The ranks match up with most armies from British, US, German, etc. The Insignia is pretty much UK with Crowns switched for Skulls.

At one point I was going to go with WO but I wanted the ranks to go up to Brigadier and it got squeezed out. As did Lance Corporal, 2nd Lt, and Private/Gefreiter (with 0 kills).