Marines!

Starship Troopers has marched (with machine-gun in tow) to the very pinnacle of tongue in cheek sci-fi’s that always seem to have a steady rotation on TV. Tremors is another long-running favorite of mine. These are the calibre of films that aren’t to be taken terribly seriously and thrive on good ole’ fashioned ass-kickin’ action. I love these movies for the same reason I love the zombie movies Peter Jackson has a hand in: these are films defined by a relentless and thrilling absurdity.

Rarely do I find an RPG these days that gets me as excited as 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars. 3:16 offers a refreshing space marine romp with a singular goal, eliminate all alien life. No, you aren’t really playing one of the good guys. Instead, you are playing a thrill-crazed warrior charging toward the flames of alien oblivion. I do not recommend getting overly attached to your character. Something I find very appealing in tabletop RPG’s is subtle competition between the participants. 3:16 is all about racking up as many alien-kills and medals as possible before the inevitable burnout.

This adds a certain bragging-rights appeal to the gaming experience which I find strangely comparable to console FPS’. The rules are are designed around the d6 and d10, and are perhaps the most impressive set of rules I’ve seen in years. The mechanics fit the tone of the game perfectly. The rules are fast, brutal, and easy to master. Character creation might take twenty seconds or so, certainly less than a minute (this is no exaggeration).

Photo found here.

This game is so appealing because the game allows character development and background to blossom during play. This is utilized in “flash-backs,” and is perhaps my favorite aspect of the game. There are also plenty of charts and tables to make things very simple for the GM. This game is marketed as low-prep, and it is (practically a Godsend for those busy GM’s and players who want to get right down to playing).

3:16 places a tremendous amount of control into the players hands. It is not the GM’s responsibility to narrate every minute detail, but instead players are encouraged to aid in the universe building to an extent rarely seen in most RPG’s. For example, when a player succeeds in an attack or action, they are encouraged to describe and embellish upon the specifics – not the GM!

The highest military rank the players can achieve in 3:16 allows them access to an item called “The Device.” It can only be used once (and I mean ever in a given campaign) because once used it ends the game. It destroys such a vast pocket of the universe that the players and even the entire army of the 3:16 are obliterated. Yes, players can voluntarily achieve “Game Over.” Why would anyone do this? Because they can, and it’s hilarious.

The writing is excellent, I love an RPG that can make me laugh. Gregor Hutton (the game designer) writes succinctly but with plenty of space marine “quotes” to get the GM’s right on target for the game’s feel. I should mention that the art also complements the game beautifully. At the risk of sounding art-ignorant (I am), the interior art reminds me a bit of Frank Miller if he lived in the Warhammer 40K universe. There’s ample use of negative space which I find to be highly dramatic and so very cool. Really it’s just top notch.

In summary, just go buy this game. If you like your sci-fi more than intense and the action humorously over the top, you will devour this game. I have. As I finish writing this I’m looking up other Gregor Hutton games, and I can’t wait to tear into those the next chance I get.

An aside: I have been writing on this blog far less than I would like to. Fear not – this blog isn’t dying. Hibernation is a natural occurrence,  and my blog is just going through a “bear-phase” right now (Really I’ve just been very distracted and busy). I will still be writing, just not as much as I have been able to in the past. My goal is to get back to the old pace, once life becomes a bit clearer for me.

Additionally, my oldest RPG pal and I have been talking about an RPG I want to design. Not only is he an excellent sounding board, he is also an excellent artist. The game will be sci-fi and thats all I want to say at this time. This is a project I’ve been mulling over for a very long time. My friend will be doing art for the project, and maybe a bit of writing if he has the inclination.

You will be seeing more about this project as it develops. Also, if there are any readers out there who dig the games I’ve reviewed or the things I’ve talked about, please contact me if you are interested in play-testing. That wont be for a long time, but I figure I might as well cast the line.

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