So a week or so ago I ran a game of 3:16 at the store. If you don’t know anything about 3:16, it’s basically Starship Troopers the RPG with a real stripped down rules system. Here are my thoughts on the game:
1) It was super fun. 3:16 is a really streamlined system designed to create an ass-kicking good time.
2) I ran a one-shot, but it’s definitely designed for campaign play. The flashback mechanic simply can’t work in a one-shot, and the boards on the website aren’t particularly helpful in that regard (the advice is basically not to run a one-shot). I basically stripped down the flashback rules so that they did a lot less. I wasn’t thrilled about this, but without doing that, they could have just used a strength per combat and ran straight through the mission.
Having said that, it’s kind of sad, because the game makes a GREAT one-shot. Character generation is quick, easy, and fun. GM planet generation is quick, easy, and fun. There’s not specific mechanics to do a lot of things. The mechanics exist predominantly to kill aliens. This, to me, means that the mechanics run out of steam for lots of things, unless you want to be clever.
Generally, I do want to be clever. However, given that the only stat for doing things which aren’t killing is “NFA” or “Non-Fighting Ability,” you are entirely reliant on your imagination for what your character can do, and have one basic stat to cover all of it.
There’s a way that this is cool- you can do anything, all with one stat. Neat.
There’s a way that this is crazy- so are driving, first-aid, cooking, speaking other languages, singing, and philosophizing all the same stat? Answer: yes.
Mechanically, it seems like this is designed to be a sort of dungeon crawl in space: here are monsters, if you kill them all, you get experience. Ta-da.
It occurred to me, though, that the simple mechanics could also be useful for a really interesting story campaign, where you spent a lot of time with the characters RPing the difficulties of being a soldier out in space, away from home, having relationships with other people in your squad, etc. More BSG than Starship Troopers.
It seems like the flexibility of the system, therefore, can either be a limitation because of how little it enables you to do, or an enhancement based on how little it stops you from doing, depending on how crunchy your group is and how much they need mechanics to drive them towards how they interact with the game world and each other. Plenty of story games have slim mechanics. Now most people wouldn’t consider 3:16 a story game (I certainly wouldn’t), but the mechanic actually leaves a lot of room for storytelling.
3) I used a lot of music and sound effects in the game. I had jungle sound effects for when they were sneaking around (they were on a jungle island on a mostly water planet). I also had some cool instrumental metal queued up for the fight scenes. I actually thought it went pretty well. It was a little scary to put it out there, but I think I’m going to try to do that for more games I run now. I felt like it enhanced what I was trying to create fairly well. I kept it pretty quiet and unobtrusive, but the jungle sounds definitely helped for some of the creeping around not knowing when aliens were going to jump out.
So to sum up:
-3:16 is fun.
-It’s good for one shot play, with some mods.
-It’s good for campaign play if you have a group who just wants to blow stuff up or who is really good at exploring characters in a difficult circumstance.