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Author Topic: [3:16] Ape Beasts on Planet Durer  (Read 1337 times)
Gregor Hutton
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« on: September 21, 2009, 09:07:18 AM »

So, the Edinburgh University gaming club has started up again for another year and they were needing GMs for Day One of term. So, I volunteered and took along 3:16. In the end we got a lot more GMs than the President had expected, so some games didn't run in the end (though there was a lot of people there -- great news!).

Anyway, I got a game of 3:16 going with 5 players, none of whom had played before, which is always good to see. I was using Postcards as character sheets. I got these done for GenCon Australia and sent 50 off to Nathan "Space Rat" Russell who is at the con out there. I kept 50 for myself and I totally recommend this idea -- why I hadn't done it before I don't know.

On one side is the cover image and it looks pretty slick in full colour. On the reverse it's just text but it's a character sheet in black/white. It'd be great for games like Trollbabe and so on. I got the postcards from Vistaprint, but there are loads of places that can do it. Anyway, it was a nice physical thing, a bit of an advert and easy for people to take their character away on at the end of the game.

We had Jenn playing Sergeant Rivera (xenophobe), Seamus was Corporal Tank (asshole), and Troopers Something, SomethingElse (I'll look up my notes at home) and Crow (honourable) played by Matt, Dave and Stuart.

My aliens we Planet Durer, Apes, Lasting Wounds, Forested Surface and Highest FA (which was 7). I gave it them pretty hard with Lasting Wounds and after a couple of encounters we had all at least a Mess, most Crippled and Armour wiped off. The nice thing was then people switching on to using Strengths, which as ever for a first mission will get you through it.

We did the mission in about 2 hrs 30 mins I think, and there was quite a bit of roleplaying (we'd all fled from the D&D game where the GM announced he was looking for players uninterested in the role-playing side but who were happy to crunch numbers for a few hours -- he got a good crowd, actually, who wanted exactly that). Anyway, 3:16 was good fun and easy to run for me and to play for the newbies. We could have done a second mission but given thta it would have been longer and we had to be finished by 5 pm, we decided to play a game of Guillotine instead, socialize and then get first in the queue for the free buffet instead.

Things that came up that were good to see for me. The real interest that Matt had in saving NPC Trooper Drake. He had Drake in his Flashback and from then on was determined to save Drake. This meant that I was putting Drake in fictional peril in encounters which was very satisfying. Drake ended up with no limbs, having been ripped asunder by a particularly vicious ape, but Matt's character had saved him, somehow. Sarge even managed to NFA him into an emergency cryo box at encounter end. "Never Leave A Man Behind" was the character's Strength.

We also had the final encounter where Trooper Crow cancelled to save everyone's skin in the penultimate round. He threw down his gun and beckoned the head Ape into one-on-one combat instead. So Crow failed to kill anyone that round and caused my apes to stop killing too. Next round as Crow and the Ape circled each other Dave used a strength to grenade the last apes from behind. The final words of the Durer Apes was "this ... is ... not .. fair". Crow was starting to move on a path that was going to put him at loggerheads with the xenophobic Sergeant and Dave's Trooper after that. For a longer game...

Players taking risks with trying to Ambush was good to see too. They set it up in the fiction and they would have got it but for a bad roll from me and the PCs. Such is war. I liked that in a  game where everyone is "agreeable" we'd have had an Ambush, but that the rules and the way the dice fell said "No! Everyone just stumbles into each other at Far."

At the end of the game the Corporal and Dave's Trooper Levelled up, while Matt became a Corporal and Corporal Tank (who'd bravely led a charge to re-unite the split party at one point) became a Sergeant with the only successful Development Rolls. The post-Mission stuff is crazy vital, even in a one-off, to let players see the bigger picture and the paths that they might want to take if they keep playing.

And as ever they all have characters that they can drop into anyone's game in the future. Seamus has the book, maybe he'll start a game of it up?
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2009, 03:18:15 AM »

Oh, found my notes and Matt was playing Trooper Cain, who Rep was "Heroic". He spent the first few encounters getting his ass saved by the Sergeant and generally running away from the enemy. He had a 5/5 split in FA/NFA and was picking fighting or not-fighting things to do based on what seemed to fit the fiction best. He tended to flub fighting rolls but make non-fighting rolls. (I guess people are usually steered towards one course of action or another because they have the best chance of success at one or the other based on their higher stat, this is less the case for 5/5 PCs -- that observation hadn't occurred to me before, that I can remember.) The sweet thing for me was that Cain then became very heroic in saving Drake. But what was so good for me was that he wasn't a cookie-cutter heroic always dive in character. He was sometimes heroic, and deserved his rep, and at other times he was genuinely fearful of his life and unwilling to risk it for things he didn't care about. Cain was a nicely realised character, for something just "off the cuff".

Dave was playing "Trooper Duke". He had smuggled a bunch of cigars into his bunk but the Corporal found them before planetfall (an opposed NFA test). The great thing was that in early play on the mission the Corporal was acting all hard ass and keeping the cigars from Duke. Once the shit hit the fan and Duke saved their bacon more than once with his Energy Rifle and Grenades the Corporal eased off and was giving cigars to Duke as reward after encounters. I liked that interatcion between Tank and Duke, especially how the relationship started out as one thing and the players let it change in play.

The other thing that I really liked is that most of the players were "trad" players, but at the end of the spectrum where they like playing characters rather than revelling in crunch. They found the game easy to play and the role-playing was pretty good and intuitive to them. They just played their characters, you know?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2009, 07:57:25 AM »

Hiya,

Did anyone get a medal, and what for? Because I really, really agree about the post-mission play step. Oh, and whether in this game or another, can you describe the scene of awarding medals?

My favorite so far is John Harper's "medal dispenser" which plays a crappy, tinny few bars of the military anthem and then a cheap medal goes "clunk" into the medal drawer, and you fish it out.

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2009, 10:55:03 AM »

Yes, medals!

Crow and Sarge didn't get anything other than the Campaign medal and Wound badge.
Duke got the Crimson Sword for blowing the last of the apes to shit. It was in his mail waiting for him one day. No fanfare. Nothing.
Cain saved Drake and got a Crimson Sword and citation for that. The Sarge put him up for the award and he got it Harper style... along with The Corporal, who got a Crimson Sword and bar in front of the squad in the mess. They also got the squad back up to full strength in time for this event. So it was something of a reward. Someone was close, but no cigar, to a Kill Badge (Corporal, I think). Though making them aware of it means they'd be looking out for the 100 in the next mission.

I did then make a point of having them all in full dress for their shitty Lieutenant getting a Crimson Skull though. I really like to make the Skull a step up from the Sword. The sort of thing you only get when you're a "real" soldier (i.e. Officer) that the higher ups give (somewhat of) a damn about. It felt like they had to stand all day to see this a-hole get a badge off their back.

At some point I like to look out for a higher up they like and reward them too. The brass sometimes do that. It's not all black and white. Anyway, for the moment they just don't like their superior so that's waiting in the wings (for someone using an E-VAC or something and I get to bring in a friendly Major or somesuch).
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2009, 11:43:07 AM »

Cool. As you've read in my threads, I've done the full-dress thing for the officers too.

There is a curious and often profound ambivalence in the medals as in-game features; they represent the value system of the military establishment, and sooner or later, the soldiers have to decide whether they really, personally buy into it. That can be a grey zone in the best way. I've seen characters who are practically frothing with rage at the military and their missions, even having fragged a superior officer or too, who still get all dewy over what medal might come their way next.

Best, Ron
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2009, 11:39:24 AM »

Quote
I've seen characters who are practically frothing with rage at the military and their missions, even having fragged a superior officer or too, who still get all dewy over what medal might come their way next.
Haven't got anything significant to add, but this has made me think for a few days so I just wanted to post that. That makes you think.

Oh, I guess I could note that I don't think I atleast have seen any novel or movie have something like that in it. It might come from the dynamic of people playing out characters without a direct aim toward story construction rather than a single author playing them out and perhaps trying to wrap up things into a package at the moment of doing so. Or not?
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
blodwin
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2009, 02:02:28 PM »

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