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Author Topic: [Three Sixteen] The First Session (Character Creation and Flashback)  (Read 2288 times)
Gregor Hutton
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« on: January 14, 2007, 06:07:22 PM »

OK, today I went through the character creation part of my Three Sixteen playtest with Shevaun and Shannon, here in Edinburgh. They gave me good feedback and going through the process with a couple of players was very useful. (It would have been good with more but as this was the first day back not everyone was there.)

For Three Sixteen info see its page.

It was a Ronny Award winner in October 2005, and I'm aiming for it to be out this summer. (General Ronnies master thread3:16 feedback)

I started off by going over the Setting, which was pretty much the summary from the 24-hour version. I kept it brief, after all I'm hoping we'll establish "our" Universe in play.

So, First Session usually will be: creating characters together, go through a Flashback scene each, and then play through the game to learn the procedures of play and rules. For this First Session we just did the first two.

The process of character creation went as follows:
- Name. Pick one now or some time before play begins.
- Abilities. Allocate 9 points between Fighting Ability and Non-fighting Ability. (1 is lowest, 10 is highest, each must be at least 1)
- Flashbacks. You initially have 2 Strengths and 2 Weaknesses.
- Rank. Choose to be promoted, or not. To get stripes use a Strength. To stay where you are use a Weakness.
- Reputation. What sort of a human, or not, are you?
- Reason. The 'kicker'. Why did you join? This is the thematic question that you'll try to resolve in play. Why did your life change and you joined 3:16 rather than staying on the idyllic Terra?
- Finishing off. Write down gear based on your Rank.

A few things I picked up on were that I think Rank, Reputation and Reason might well be better served coming before Abilities and Flashbacks.

People might also want to know the "advantages" of being promoted before they choose. For what it's worth that wasn't a concern for either player. Shevaun was sold on a "Sarge" (she preferred it to the Lieutenant though she could have been either) and Shannon was happy to play a grunt.

So Shevaun and Shannon went through allocating points, choosing whether to be promoted and filling in the initial character details.

Play then begins with a Flashback scene where promotion, or not, is shown through either the Strength or Weakness and the Reason is outlined. Shevaun went first.

"Chichi"
Flashback: Strength: Cold Logic
Shevaun framed the scene describing Trooper Alvida's life as a tech on board a troop ship. Working hard and doing the job as best she could. She had joined to prove who she was but had to watch the elite troopers march past while she did her necessary and unglamourous work unnoticed. But this day the ship she was on was crashing through an asteroid belt around a planet. They were all surely doomed. The Gunnery Sergeant posted nearby was attempting to fire a harpoon at one of the asteroids to hold the ship fast and stop its freefall into the atmosphere. Disaster! Trooper Charlie, attempting to help, becomes entangled in the folds of wire attached to the harpoon and the Sarge cannot bring himself to fire the gun. Amid the shouting to get Trooper Charlie free it becomes clear that there is no time. Alvida pushes the Gunner from the harpoon and fires the shot. It hits the asteroid, and the ship swings around changing trajectory. The troopers are all saved. Except Charlie. He lies shredded where the coiling wire tore through him on its way out after the harpoon. For her courageous action Alvida is promoted and assigned to an infantry unit, where her coldly logical approach will serve her well. The troopers under her have, of course, all heard the story. Sarge is a mean bitch, who will leave a man behind for sure. Anything to prove herself.

Then Shannon went.

Dog
Flashback: Weakness: Sociopathy
Shannon framed a scene from Dog's first days at school. Aged five the young Dog (and at this point it's not been established if this is the character's name or nickname, or what. That's fine. That stuff will come out in play and other Flashbacks) is frustrated when another child takes the last building block from a toy he's playing with. On Terra children are valued highly, and permits are not easily handed out. Violence is also unheard of, no crime and so on. Dog attacks the other child who took the block in a sickening assault and Dog's parents are called to take him away. Turbulent schooling follows and Dog's parents resolve that they cannot bear to see their child die, yet they cannot live with him. So at the first opportunity 16-year old Dog is enlisted in the Expeditionary Force. Even without the Combat Drugs he shows a talent for violence and a disregard for others. His sociopathy is clear, yet there is some need for this on missions. Still, the black mark from school is on his record and he finds himself almost permanently held down at Trooper level. The enforced enlistment is Dog's reason and his squad knows why.

-----
Name: Dog
Rank: Trooper
Reputation: Psycho
Reason: Sort of forced recruitment

FA: 8
NA: 1

Initial Kills: 54

Strengths: 2 available
-
-
Weaknesses: 1 used, 1 available
- Total Sociopath (first flagged as a 5-year old at school)
-

Kit: Plated Armour, Rounded Helmet, Personal Medipack, Hydration Tablets, Backpack, Food Packs, Utensils, Flares, Combat Drugs, Field Manual, Entrenching Tools

Weapons/Training:
-Energy Rifle
-Knife
-Grenades
-Hand-to-Hand Training

-----
Name: "Chichi" Alvida
Rank: Sergeant
Reputation: Mean Bitch
Reason: Proving Herself ('Cause she'd be the best for the job')

FA: 5
NA: 4

Initial Kills: 42

Strengths: 1 used, 1 available
- Coldly logical (shown she can leave a man behind)
-
Weaknesses: 2 available
-
-

Kit: Plated Armour, Rounded Helmet, Large Medipack, Binoculars, Homing Beacon, Hydration Tablets, Backpack, Food Packs, Utensils, Flares, Combat Drugs, Field Manual, Entrenching Tools

Weapons/Training:
-Sidearm
-Rifle
-Knife
-Grenades
-Martial Arts Training

-----

I think it went very well and the fiction was easily created. The spend a Strength or Weakness and establish the character worked. So that was all good. Caught a few glitches in my outline for character creation (not important) that I'll tidy up and fix for my playtest document.

As a GM I like that I've got a few NPCs here already, quite unwittingly from the players. The Gunnery Sergeant for Chichi and the kid from school for Dog.

We also have Dog's parents (and maybe they had another child to make up for Dog?), and I wonder why Chichi has to prove herself? Shevaun mentioned Chichi's dad in passing that might come out more in future play.

And they both have good Reasons, ready for play to begin.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2007, 08:56:44 PM »

Hi Gregor,

I might be mistaken, but it's possible that my comment about a Kicker-like situation for the character isn't being read as I'd intended it. What I had in mind did not apply to character creation, but rather to the scenes and situations after a character hits level 20. In other word, substantially along the course of play.

The idea is that before that point, most scenarios are probably initiated with a kind of Captain's Log type dialogue concerning the planet's statistics and the nature of the mission to be carried out. But after that point, scenarios arise primarily from players' proactive direction of their characters' actions, especially in managing and working with their Weakness "Hatred of Earth" and deciding when and how to apply it to override dice outcomes.

Did that get jumbled somewhere between notes and revisions? 'Cause as I see it, a Sorcerer-style true Kicker, which is to say the real meat of scenario creation at the outset of play, doesn't fit really well with 3:16. I'd like to see my jarheads fight, die, make decisions in the heat of combat, develop their Strengths and Weaknesses via play itself, and only later - at level 20, if they live that long - will play transform into more of a Kicker-like prep mechanism.

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2007, 05:22:35 AM »

Hi Ron

Thanks for the comments. I'll try and explain what I see as the arc of the story and I'd appreciate if you could say if it's just wank (which it could well be!) or whether it seems OK.

It was when I was reading My War by Colby Buzzell that I was struck with the "Reason". Buzzell says something like "we all have a reason we join", I think his was that it sounded like he would be crazy not to join (and his Reason was resolved when he found that his image of what it was going to be like didn't match up with reality). And sure enough, I asked myself "why are you in 3:16?" Maybe that's not a big issue, but I thought it was and I wanted it in there in character creation.

So, my thinking is as follows.

You start with a Reason you joined. This is some issue that you had that jolted you from being any other Joe to being in the story. Now you go up in Levels using Strengths and Weaknesses and establish what sort of character you are in your Flashbacks.

Along the way some of you will die. I'm hesistant over this, which means I'm probably dancing around on what I know should be the case. So I guess I should be clear about this and say that it's more than likely to happen to some of the troopers.

If you die then you can drop in with a new character, if you wish, with a Level up to the one your last character finished on. The new character starts with a weakness used up to describe why they're a Trooper. All their other Flashbacks are crossed of unused except the one Flashback available at their current level (so it might be a Strength or Weakness).

So, anyway, you might go through a few Troopers or only one. At some point though someone hits the Hatred For Home, which is the last Flashback they spend.

Now the game changes. That character resolves their Reason for joining, and authors a new Reason why they have the Hatred For Home (it comes out of the Flashback where they used it). That's now the issue that they need to have resolved.

I'm thinking that all their previously used Flashbacks are now available again to help them (including the Hatred For Home weakness). Of course, now they can't author new Strengths or Weaknesses they have to use the ones that they've established on the way up through the levels.

Or is this just overcomplicated rubbish?
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 05:24:30 AM »

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Initial Kills were just created by rolling a d10 for every point of FA. Both of them rolled high.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2007, 05:39:58 AM »

Hiya,

Only playtesting will tell for sure.

My judgment at this time, though, is that it is, indeed, overcomplicated rubbish. I think all the stuff you describe about the reason for joining is already there, in the game, in the form of flashbacks during play rather than beforehand. In fact, if I had to make up anything about my trooper beyond the stuff in the original 24-hour version, I'd see it as robbing my ability to make up flashbacks that were immediately relevant and interesting to the situation my trooper was in (and in which I wanted very badly to override the dice outcome).

I see the game as discovery of who a character is, rather than setting down a fairly-solid character on a sheet and "playing him" in a thespian sense.

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2007, 06:10:16 AM »

Thanks Ron, much appreciated. The fact that I'm sensing it possibly is overcomplication, means that it probably is. And I find myself nodding at your last post.

Now, how do we decide who is the Sergeant or Lieutenant? Just by agreement? (I've done that once before and it went OK.) Or is the spend a Flashback OK? (Which I quite like the idea of as it's a choice for a player to make.)

The number of Strengths and Weaknesses available can be changed too (e.g. on the playtest sheet it's 10, not including the one used in character creation, rather then the 20 in the 24 hour version) and you now start with 3 slots available to use at the start (and not the 10 from the earlier version). So the "Flashback" lost in promotion, or staying as a trooper, has already been accounted for.

OK, and we still need a Kicker coming out of the top level, right? That's what's going to jolt them from being another trooper into something else.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2007, 05:23:45 AM »

Hi Gregor,

About rank, I don't know. If it hasn't been problem in playtesting, then don't fix it. As an armchair comment, I do think I'd prefer to know my Trooper's rank at the outset of play, rather than leaving that to Flashbacks.

I'm now sorry I ever used the word Kicker in any reference at all to this game. I said, in the original comments, Kicker-like, and unfortunately the word Kicker seems to have lodged deep in your brain and you're seeking all over the place to find where to insert a Kicker into the rules. Please forget it. I think the point I was trying to make is important, but it concerned an emergent property of play as I anticipated it by the existing (and sufficient) rules, not a rule or a mechanic that needed to be added.

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007, 10:07:27 AM »

Gotcha. Thanks for the knock on the head, Ron.
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