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:
- A Mess
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.