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Author Topic: [3:16] Planet Monet and The Hounds  (Read 991 times)
Sleepy
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Posts: 3


« on: August 22, 2011, 01:54:16 PM »

I've never posted an Actual Play summary before, but feel strangely compelled to do so this time. Maybe because I'd just like to get some feedback on my game, my GM'ing, my players and just in general see what others think of it all.

First, some quick background. I am by no means an expert/veteran GM. I have mostly GMed games of the more traditional variety, typically D&D... but I often struggle with "winging it" and coming up with cool ideas/description on the spot. My experience with so-called "story games" is even more limited. I attempted to GM Beast Hunters once, and I have played in single sessions of 3:16, Fiasco, and Breaking the Ice.

I had played 3:16 Carnage Amongst The Stars at a con a few years ago and really enjoyed it. So I bought it in the hopes of running it one day. Last night, my 1e D&D group had some people that couldn't make it to a session so I talked the remainder of the group into letting me run 3:16 for them as an off-the-cuff replacement game.

I had never run 3:16 before and I was thoroughly unprepared to run it. I hadn't thought at all about characters, situations, etc. to use in the game, but decided I was going to try my hand at actually going no-prep for the first time ever when GMing an RPG session. I figured if nothing else it would be a good exercise for me.

CHARACTER/MISSION CREATION

So, I explained the basics of character creation to the players and while they were doing that I rolled on the planet creation tables. I got Planet Monet, Dog aliens, Ice covered planet, the Impair special ability, and AA=highest FA-2=5. I had 4 players so I pulled out 20 threat tokens. The 4 PCs were:

Sgt Sir
Reputation: Stoic
FA: 3, NFA: 7

Cpl Gordon
Reputation: Mad dog
FA: 7, NFA: 3

Tpr Lucky
Reputation: Lucky
FA: 6, NFA: 4

Tpr Colossal-Red-Dragon
Reputation: Infamous for stupid lines
FA: 5, NFA: 5

Yes, one PC actually wanted his last name to be "Colossal-Red-Dragon" I was really hoping for the mood of the game to be somewhat serious... perhaps over-the-top a bit, but certainly not silly. As you can probably guess from the above, I didn't get that from everyone. I didn't want to force the mood either, but in hindsight, maybe I should have.

I also created a few NPCs - Lt. Hicks (a hard-nosed no-nonsense officer in charge of the PCs squad), Tpr Ward (a wide-eyed kid absolutely thrilled to be able to kill some aliens), and Tpr Carson (a soldier who really doesn't want to be here anymore)

ACTUAL GAMEPLAY

I started off with Lt. Hicks giving the squad a briefing informing them that Alpha Team had recently been sent down to Monet to exterminate the alien threats there but that command had lost contact with Alpha Team a few days ago. Hicks was a bit condescending saying that they weren't well-trained enough to handle The Hounds, but that he has no other squads to send on this mission... so they get a chance to die today.

We moved straight into a drop ship scene and I got everyone to make their first roll of the game, an NFA check for nausea from the ride. Cpl Gordon failed and began puking all over the drop ship. Shortly after the drop ship landed and the back hatch opened revealing white as far as the eye could see creating an almost unbearable glare. Tpr Ward immediately went outside excited to get on with the mission before being called back in by his superior officers. Tpr Carson was frozen to his chair rocking back and forth in terror.

I got everyone to make another NFA check (not sure if that's appropriate) to hear some faint scrabbling sounds coming closer and closer. Moments later, the sounds were underneath the ship and they heard sharp cracks and felt the ship suddenly sink about a foot into the ground. This pressed everyone to vacate the ship and look around.

Soon after, they saw dozens of small fountains of snow and ice coming from the ground all around them. These fountains quickly widened into holes and horrible wolves with two sets of fangs (one inner, one outer) began digging their way out of them. Dozens of these snarling, snapping wolves closed in on the squad throwing us into our first combat.

ENCOUNTER 1: 3 tokens
This encounter was really not a challenge at all to the PCs. Tpr Carson had to be carried out of the drop ship and was thrown on the ground where he laid gibbering during the whole fight. They removed two tokens the first round, and finished the third off in the second round while I failed both AA rolls. All of the PCs made FA rolls both times with narration of the "I shoot them with my gun" variety. Except for Tpr Lucky who narrated using Tpr Carson as a springboard to jump off of and doing flying gunfire at the wolves. I was going to use the Impair ability right off the bat until they took out 2 tokens in the first round. Then I decided to save them for later. The remaining wolves all scattered and burrowed back underground.

Sgt Sir climbed up on a nearby boulder to try and get the lay of the land. He noticed a large cave mouth in the side of a distant mountain. He also noticed many of the wolf tracks heading back toward that mountain. So they set off in that direction. Shortly after they encountered the shredded body of one of the Alpha Team troopers. They grabbed the dog tags from the body.

Tpr Dragon decided to be silly (one of many times) and took one of the dead wolves and made a wolf-hide coat out of it and wore it. Cpl Gordon was disgusted by this and snatched the wolf coat and tore it to shreds. Tpr Dragon said that he felt like his trooper should have a -2 penalty to NFA after being berated by Cpl Gordon. Lt. Hicks called into Sgt Sir over the radio and said to tell Cpl Gordon good job at getting rid of that pansy wolf hide mess and that they are observing the squad via satellite cameras. Tpr Lucky said "I make an NFA roll to read my field manual... oh no! I failed to read my field manual"

They marched for several hours toward the cave before reaching a massive frozen lake. Sgt Sir ordered Tpr Lucky to test the lake to see if it would hold their weight. I had Tpr Lucky roll NFA (again, I don't know if that was appropriate). He failed, so I told him the lake has started to crack a bit. Then Tpr Dragon wanted to try, so he rolled NFA. He also failed so I told them that they were now both floating on a chunk of ice that had broken free from the rest of the ice. Sgt Sir made an NFA roll to pull Tpr Lucky back to shore at the same time that I began the 2nd encounter

ENCOUNTER 2: 4 tokens (+1 for special ability)
This time it was smaller, but still vicious, dogs and there were many more of them. I wanted to make sure that I actually got to use Impair this time so I did it immediately. I narrated that dozens of the dogs burrowed underneath the feet of the squad making the ground unstable, causing a -1 penalty to their FA/NFA.

This encounter turned out to be a little bit tougher, partially due to the PCs starting to use grenades and hurting each other. Several PCs had taken damage by the end of this one. But with the healing after each encounter, they weren't in bad shape and no one had used a Strength, Weakness, or Armor yet.

They decided to walk around the lake after the collapsing incident. Many hours later they reached the foot of the mountain. It was getting very dark by this time. I told them that the cave mouth was about 50 feet up a sheer cliff face. Sgt Sir called camp for the night. As they were preparing to camp I called for an NFA roll to notice some figures moving around a little further up the mountain above the cave. Sgt Sir called out to them with something like "Alpha Team is that you?" To which they heard a loud "Now", a lot of grunting, and saw several boulders start tumbling down the mountain toward them... starting Encounter 3.

ENCOUNTER 3: 5 tokens
The aliens actually won dominance this time which ended up changing the party tactics a bit. Tpr Lucky wanted to use a Strength immediately, but when I told him how rare they were he changed his mind. Instead, everyone decided to make NFA rolls for the first round. Sgt Sir made a successful NFA roll to throw a flare in the air. The flare revealed that up on the mountain were dozens of 8-foot tall werewolf like creatures walking upright on their hindlegs pushing boulders down onto the squad. The others made rolls to change into a better range for their weapon.

A few clever/cool ideas by the PCs ended up failing due to rolls. Sgt Sir tried to shoot the rocks above the werewolves to try and rain boulders down on them. Tpr Dragon tried to shove a grenade in a werewolf's mouth. Tpr Lucky said that he wanted to punch the boulders out of the way so they wouldn't hit the party. Against my instincts I told him yes and let him roll NFA. He succeeded and my AA roll failed anyway so I didn't have to worry about figuring out how those mechanics should interact. So I told him that that was exactly what he did. He punched boulders out of the way.

By this point Tpr Lucky had suggested and I had approved a few things in combat that I probably would've said no to in a D&D game. So, I think he was starting to push to see what his limits were. Next he asked if he could make an NFA roll to see if he could fly. He also asked if he could roll NFA to use his psychic abilities. Most of us looked at him with an "are you serious?" expression. I hate quashing creativity (especially in a game like this) but I felt like those two suggestions had crossed the line.

Instead Tpr Lucky ended up throwing a grenade at a boulder with an FA roll. He succeeded so I told him rock shards from the boulder explosion impaled some of the werewolves. Cpl Gordon narrated stabbing a flare into the eyes of one of the werewolves.

Eventually all the werewolves were dead and the party, especially Tpr Dragon were hurt pretty bad. Tpr Dragon had also used his armor. Tpr Dragon continued making bad jokes and inappropriate comments to his superior officers. Cpl Gordon's player said "I think my character really wants to kill your character... would you be mad if I did that?" Tpr Dragon's player kinda shrugged but it didn't go any further. Cpl Gordon decided to cut off the heads of all the werewolves and use them as fuel for a fire for the rest of the night.

In the morning they decided to climb the mountain. I decided to require NFA rolls. Cpl Gordon had very low NFA so they were trying to figure out another way to get him up. I allowed Sgt Sir to roll NFA for himself and then a second roll for him to help Cpl Gordon get up the mountain somehow. He succeeded at both, which was a relief, b/c I wasn't sure what I should do if he failed. Just a color narration? Actually give damage to Cpl Gordon?

Anyway, they got into the cave which turned out to be a vast network of tunnels. They used NFA to follow a powerful fecal order which led them into a huge cavern that was bigger than their little flares could light up. In one corner of the cavern was an alcove with a huge 6-foot tall pile of dung. In the dung they could see chunks of Mandelbrite armor. They walked further into the large cavern and saw what looked to be a massive furry hill about 20 feet from one end to end and about 8 feet high. The hill also seemed to be breathing. Tpr Lucky said he was going to throw a grenade at it, beginning Encounter 4.

ENCOUNTER 4: 5 tokens (+2 for special ability)
The hill stood up on all sixes (six legs) revealing it to be the biggest wolf any of them had ever seen. Standing underneath it were several werewolves suckling at its underbelly. I spent 2 final tokens to drop everyone's FA/NFA by 2. The giant wolf turned toward the squad, but before anything else could happen, Sgt Sir decided to activate a Strength. He narrated that back when he was a Tpr his Sgt was killed by this wolf queen and that he remembered then seeing a weak spot on the underside of its neck. So, back in the present day he narrated making incredibly quick shots into the weak spots and into the remaining werewolves finishing off the planet's threat tokens.

The squad attempted to radio Alpha Team but to no avail. After some arguing they finally ordered Tpr Lucky to dig through the dung pile. He failed an NFA roll and began puking. Tpr Dragon passed and found 4 sets of Mandelbrite armor. There had been 5 members of Alpha Team. Counting the shredded body found near the drop ship, this meant they were all dead. So the squad, packed up and headed back to base.

AFTERWORD
To my disappointment, all of them preferred D&D to 3:16. They didn't necessarily hate it, but they weren't raving about it being awesome either. They all complained that the combat system was shallow and too abstract. Tpr Lucky complained about feeling like he was useless and had no hope of competing with Cpl Gordon for Kills. Tpr Dragon said he wanted his character to die. Cpl Gordon did mention that he really enjoyed the military/space marine setting, but didn't like the system. He'd rather just play D&D but with using this setting.

I really liked the themes present in 3:16 of deciding how your PC feels about exterminating other life in the universe. I think this would be really cool, but I don't know that it's possible with this group of players. Do you guys think that 3:16 is not suited for this group? Or do I just need to run it differently?

I'd love to hear any and all feedback anyone has regarding this game session, my GM style, rulings, etc. I definitely want to improve and constructive criticism is absolutely welcome.

Thanks!
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 2775


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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2011, 10:46:07 PM »

Sounds like you gave it a solid shot, that's basically what the game is like. One might perhaps argue that it would have been better to play with much quicker pacing, breezing through a few missions instead of doing one long mission ("long" in the sense that it sounds like you played through quite a bit of color content in between the fights, making the mission take longer in real-time), as that allows the game to garner depth from post-mission scenes, and the players get to see how the mechanical advancement cycle functions. Might not make any difference for this crew, though; my impression from your description is that they're pretty hung up creatively on D&D - no doubt there are a mix of motivations there, ranging from simple creative preferences to cultural conditioning (not knowing nor wanting to know of any game not D&D), but in practical terms that's all the same: you're not going to get a successful game out of them if they don't want to play.

For what it's worth, I can say that the way your group approached the game sounds very typical of D&D players trying another game because they were shanghaied to it. Disrespecting the fiction in different ways and falling into a characterization cycle that makes you hate your own character, these are familiar behaviors to me, the sort that happen when people are participating in a game without being sold on it. This is a social issue, and a pretty common one in roleplaying; it's caused by the social nature of gaming, the fact that there's so much social overhead in gathering a group for play, for learning the rules, for thinking of yourself as a roleplayer and all that. This often leads us to situations where we feel compelled to sit down and play something without actually wanting to play it.

This last observation is totally not about your group, but about mine: my experience with long-running D&D campaigns is that when we are missing a part of the group, the odds are that the players who show up are the ones most narrowly and intently dedicated to D&D, while the ones more open to experimenting are the ones who couldn't make it. I guess that this is caused by session-missing mostly being a function of motivation; most adult people can get to agreed-upon meets if they really want to, so you can count on the one guy in the group for whom the D&D campaign is his main hobby to be there every week.

Yes, one PC actually wanted his last name to be "Colossal-Red-Dragon" I was really hoping for the mood of the game to be somewhat serious... perhaps over-the-top a bit, but certainly not silly. As you can probably guess from the above, I didn't get that from everyone. I didn't want to force the mood either, but in hindsight, maybe I should have.

My own experience with this type of attitude has been that sometimes I could make good with it by taking even the sillier stuff completely seriously. By playing with another player's contributions with complete seriousness I sometimes manage to draw the player into the game, which won't happen when I simply ignore the silliness. Depends on the facts on the ground, of course, but something like expanding upon backstory that explains how the Earth society has produced a family name like that might help; it occurs to me that "Colossal-Red-Dragon" might be a historical recreationist and a romantic, for instance, one who changed his name himself and joined the expeditionary forces out of misplacen romanticism for the heroic military life. Sometimes overlaying this sort of serious gloss on a player's unconstructive clamoring is useful, although it obviously won't help if the player is genuinely set on his ways.

Quote
In the morning they decided to climb the mountain. I decided to require NFA rolls. Cpl Gordon had very low NFA so they were trying to figure out another way to get him up. I allowed Sgt Sir to roll NFA for himself and then a second roll for him to help Cpl Gordon get up the mountain somehow. He succeeded at both, which was a relief, b/c I wasn't sure what I should do if he failed. Just a color narration? Actually give damage to Cpl Gordon?

I would myself declare that the unit has determined that it is not possible to get this guy up the hill at this time, and he needs to go around or wait at the base camp, splitting the party. Then run a small encounter for that player before giving the climax for the rest.
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Sleepy
Member

Posts: 3


« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2011, 06:15:59 AM »

Sounds like you gave it a solid shot, that's basically what the game is like. One might perhaps argue that it would have been better to play with much quicker pacing, breezing through a few missions instead of doing one long mission ("long" in the sense that it sounds like you played through quite a bit of color content in between the fights, making the mission take longer in real-time), as that allows the game to garner depth from post-mission scenes, and the players get to see how the mechanical advancement cycle functions.
Good point... I probably should've done that instead. We did advancement at the end, but since we didn't play another mission they didn't get to see how that advancement affects things.

Quote
Might not make any difference for this crew, though; my impression from your description is that they're pretty hung up creatively on D&D - no doubt there are a mix of motivations there, ranging from simple creative preferences to cultural conditioning (not knowing nor wanting to know of any game not D&D), but in practical terms that's all the same: you're not going to get a successful game out of them if they don't want to play.
The funny thing is that this crew hasn't had much time to get "hung up" on D&D. They're not old veterans or anything. In fact, I personally introduced all of them to the whole hobby of tabletop RPGs less than a year ago. The first session, I ran a dead simple system called Broadsword and since then I've run maybe 10 or so 1e D&D sessions at irregular intervals. They've also played in a few sessions of Trail of Cthulhu under another GM, but that's it. So they're not even used to all the fiddly mechanics of 3/4e D&D.

Quote
Yes, one PC actually wanted his last name to be "Colossal-Red-Dragon" I was really hoping for the mood of the game to be somewhat serious... perhaps over-the-top a bit, but certainly not silly. As you can probably guess from the above, I didn't get that from everyone. I didn't want to force the mood either, but in hindsight, maybe I should have.

My own experience with this type of attitude has been that sometimes I could make good with it by taking even the sillier stuff completely seriously. By playing with another player's contributions with complete seriousness I sometimes manage to draw the player into the game, which won't happen when I simply ignore the silliness. Depends on the facts on the ground, of course, but something like expanding upon backstory that explains how the Earth society has produced a family name like that might help; it occurs to me that "Colossal-Red-Dragon" might be a historical recreationist and a romantic, for instance, one who changed his name himself and joined the expeditionary forces out of misplacen romanticism for the heroic military life. Sometimes overlaying this sort of serious gloss on a player's unconstructive clamoring is useful, although it obviously won't help if the player is genuinely set on his ways.
Interesting tactic... I may have to try that. Thanks!
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2011, 10:30:02 PM »

It's possible that murder doesn't matter, really. Without it mattering, alot of stuff becomes two dimensional or simply absent. Alot of the themeof 3:16 as I see it is that your gunning down various sentient or nearly so lifeforms. Basically your the monster. If that doesn't click in their heads and also they find a sort of horrid disgusted fascination, it's going to seem like a very simple statistical exercise (that, worse, they can complete in their head even before play occurs).

From my observations, the capacity for the 3:16 system to kill your character isn't about some sort of challenge to survive, though it could be easily taken as such. It's more of a tempering of the monster idea - you can die, so there is some level of self defence. You can't just say the PC's are monsters and be done. Moral ambiguity.

D&D tends to break down to 'complete the fantasy cliche, while running statistical exercises and fretting about losing your accrued winnings'. So D&D becomes about the latter parts, because the fantasy cliches invite no creative or intellectual input from anyone (they just demand to delivered the same way every time, in perpetuity). Also, gamism just comes more readily to the majority of folk. They have played boardgames or video games before, haven't they?

You could try sticking the classic 'kobold children' scenario in a D&D session. Ie, they kill the kobolds, kick open the door to their 'treasure' room and find ... the kobolds children, huddled together.

The players who balk at slitting the kobold childrens throats or selling them as slaves, they could play 3:16 with you (just remind them with the funny phrase "Think of the kobold children..." to get them back into that mood). Those who feel nothing - atleast in this part of their life, they aren't really ready to play 3:16.
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