3:16 Carnage Among Friends: Part 1, Sarge’s Review

Sarge?

Sir yes sir!

At ease. I want you to explain to these Twits what  we’re about in the 3:16.  You think you can manage that?

I’m sure I’ll manage not to botch it up beyond your abilities to salvage it sir!

You’re too clever for your own good Sarge, now get that tongue out of my ass and just do your job!

Sir yes sir!

In space, only 2 skills are needed, and textin’ ain’t one of them.

All right you lillies, 3:16 Carnage Among the Stars is a rules-light, hyper-focused, indie-as-hell roleplaying game.  All players are space marines fighting in the 16th battalion of the 3rd army.  Their sole mission in life? Drop on planets with scores of other troopers and officers to kill absolutely all life in the name of protecting the Terran home world.

What, you need a deeper reason?  Do you want to have a quiet talk with Treason my trusted .45?  I didn’t think so shit for brains…

You all got that?  Even you Jersey?  Ya did?  Good! Now stop grinning like the moron you are and give me twenty.

Where was I? Oh yes, each session is a series of encounters on one of various planets where you all get to exterminate disgusting, deadly aliens.

Now, unless I wasn’t clear up until now, the game is about killing bugs,  lots and lots of them. In fact, the surviving grunt who kills the most gets a shiny medal at the end of the session. Ain’t that grand?

The game is skill-based and features an impressive list of TWO skills: Fighting Ability and, wait for it, NON-fighting ability.Fighting lets you shoot, gun-butt-to-death, shoot, stab, shoot, dropkick, shoot and generally try to brutally put an end to an alien’s existence. The other skill is for everything else. From changing your weapons during combat, moving around or licking your superior’s boots to obtain a favor.

Guess which one I suck at?

Damn it Roberts! You just stepped in what’s left of Jenkins… again.

Supporting this colossal tribute to RPG design thoroughness is the wounds system where our Marines can suffer any of of the following delightful progression toward gory oblivion:

  • Healthy
  • A Mess
  • Crippled
  • Dead

See the painfully messy logic here? It’s a damn work of art if you ask me! It would bring tears to my eyes if I hadn’t lost my glands back on Tau-R6.

Weapons do not deal damage per say but rather kill a certain number of bugs per attack, depending on the weapon used and the range.  To hit, you need to roll a d10 under one of the two skills I mentioned before.

Hey Jersey, try to guess which one! Yeah?  I thought so. Gimme another twenty you clueless idiot.  You’ll make Brigadier someday, mark my words.

Oh yeah…  About range… The image  here is what ALL battlemaps look like.  PCs are  little blips in one of the 3 ‘range spaces’ and all aliens are abstractly represented by threat tokens which don’t translate to fixed numbers. All successful attacks by Marines, on top of killing from one to a gazillion bugs, removes one threat token.

When there are no more threat tokens, there are no more bugs to kill, the encounter ends and we move on to the next scene.

Confused? Good! Grunts aren’t expected to think.

Oh yeah… when the aliens hit during combat (they have only one skill: Alien Ability which governs everything they can do), all marines take a ‘kill’ and move down that sublime slide of delayed putrescence.  A trooper’s power armor can absorb one “kill” per game session, saving the lucky sumbitch from going all Campbell on us by negating a hit by an alien.

Oh you used your armor already? Well you better stand away from me, I just had mine buffed.

In the Trenches, your thoughts are your only friends.

Finally the last core mechanics of the game focuses on actually building the character’s personality through play.  Ya see, all dumbass grunts start as a clean slate. No one cares about who they are or what they did before starting the first mission. Apart from a name, a one-liner description (Slack Jawed Yokel, Cliched Iceman, Hyperactive Hispanic, etc) and a rank, all PCs are pretty much empty shells with guns.

Get it? No? (Sigh) You’re all morons!

Where players start building their PC’s background is when they invoke one of two encounter-breaking elements:  Strength and Weakness Flashbacks.  In each case, the player creates and describes a memory from the past that explains how the PC would destroy all remaining aliens (a Strength) or lose an encounter on his/her own terms (a Weakness, usually used to prevent certain death).

Such game-breakers are limited in numbers and can’t be used again until a new free memory slot opens up when the character “levels up” later in the campaign. Said level ups also bring upgrades to gear, rank and weapon efficiency.

And don’t any of you asswipes try to force me to use my weaknesses or I swear I’ll have you suck my Hand Flamer like it was the tit of the goddess of lite beer

So who’s behind all this?

Sorry grunt, you don’t have clearance. Just trust your Sarge when he says that you’ll never have to worry about finding fresh planets and new bugs to kill.  Rest assured that a marine’s life will get more complex and that there may be a deeper meaning to all this… but for now, the rules are simple:  You point that shiny toy toward everything that doesn’t look human and you shoot till they stop moving.

And no, regulations force me to say that you can’t shoot Jersey either.

At least, not when I’m looking.

However, what you are encouraged to do is to show initiative. All grunts, corporals and sergeants PCs are expected to participate in creating each scene.  The game is not driven by some godlike Grand Masturbator hiding behind some fleece curtains trying not to get caught.  Flavor, plot and narrative control, much like the Andromedan clap after R&R, is shared by the whole squad.

The only things you don’t get to decide is where you’ll land, what your mission after landing will be and what the bugs will look like.

That’s about it… You got enough? I don’t care, I’m done. Dismissed!

Oh, I’m sorry… you expected a real review? Do I look like a damn writer? Now get your gear and haul ass before I stick my foot so high in it you’ll cough up tonsils.

Finding the Game

Up next: A real play report, being master RPG thespians while killing BEMs in a suburban backyard.

Comments

  1. Hehe 🙂 Pretty good summary of what the game’s about, sir – laughed all the way through it 😛

  2. Awesome review, Philippe!

  3. I’m looking to order it now.

    Now shut the hell up and give me twenty!

    -Tourq

  4. @Eric: No one said you could laugh soldier! On our next mission YOU are going to leave the dropship first into the nest of bugs!

    @Stargazer: Thanks, it was a ton of fun to write… I may have gone to bed too late last night but it was soooo worth it.

    @Tourq: Wow… you remind me that I should stick a link to the actual game in there.

  5. awesome!!!

  6. Jersey.. Jersey?! After our special night in Cancoon together and I’m just Jersey to you.. Oh sob.. Oh cry 😉

    Thanks for the love.. I think:) Game looks good. I’m reading up on it right now.. Sounds like quite a bit o’ fun.

  7. @Wrath: Goddamn Jersey! You’re so dumb that you can’t even spell Cancun correctly! Man, good thing I was there or you’d still be walking the street after that Pimp-chimp got its paws on you. Good times. Now go wash the squad’s APC again!

    🙂

    The game IS exceedingly simplistic in parts classic gamers would not expect it to be. It needs a lot of creative input from all participants to catch fire and it totally did in our case… at least for the first half. Stay tuned.

  8. @Chatty: Who’re you calling soldier, sarge? Have I been demoted without my knowledge again?

    @Wrath: The game is extremely simple yet, some depth wants to emerge through the role playing.

  9. Doh.. I realized it was the wrong spelling as soon as I hit submit.. Oh well.. Iive in the armpit of the USA.. All that processed oil pollution, raw sewage, and high crime rates must o’ gone to my head, uck uck…

  10. Thank you Sergeant Chatty, sir! 3:16 is a blast to play, glad to see it getting some attention out here on the interwebs.

  11. @Wrath: There there Jersey, one day you’ll notice the ‘edit comment’ plugin and decipher its use. 🙂

    Seriously man, thanks for being such a good sport, this was heavily satirized. You know that as a Montrealer and Habs fan I’m required by law to hate all things Neo-Jerseyian. Nothing personal.

    🙂

    @Mike: Thanks for reading man. The game got a lot of good press on forums and from Indie designers (Ron Edwards among others) when it came out, I just thought that it was a great easily accessible game for new full-spectrum gamers. 🙂

  12. Hilarious description! Now when’s the next session? 🙂

    I’m willing to sacrifice my sanity one more time fighting bugs, zombies, aliens and even an army of Chuck Norris’ clones! (OMG, did I really say that?! I might need to use a Weakness to get out of this one…)

  13. I agree with the other commenters. 3:16 is a blast to play.

    We ran a one-shot of it during an interlude in our D&D campaign and had a ball. It’s not intended for deep roleplaying, I suspect, but it is the perfect game for some beer-and-pretzels collaberative storytelling fun.

  14. Ismael_DM says:

    Heading over to DrivethruRPG to pick up a copy. Thanks for the review!

  15. Ryan Schipper says:

    All the reasons I bought this in december. Of course, were in the middle of a campaign using the Dragon Age system (AGE) from green ronin, so well have to wait for some break or another.

    A warning to those interested in purchasing from ipr, the international shipping fees ended up costing more than the book.

  16. “And don’t any of you asswipes try to force me to use my weaknesses or I swear I’ll have you suck my Hand Flamer like it was the tit of the goddess of lite beer”
    Best. Line. Ever.

  17. @Ryan: The PDF is small enough and printer-friendly enough to make buying it over the hardcopy a good choice.

    @ryon: Thanks, you made my day!

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