Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why 3:16?

After my recent post about 3:16 Carnage Amongst The Stars and how some of the polish had worn off the mechanics, I got an interesting question in the comments.

Lee 'Spikey' Nethersole wrote:
After having read all of your posts about this game/system i feel the need to ask exactly why you are playing it. ...I still wonder what you are getting out of it...

What am I getting out of it?

Well, honestly, it's fun.

It's not perfect, and I freely admit a large part of why it's so much fun is because I really like my current play group, but it's still fun.

The other big thing I'm getting out of it is a 3rd night of GMing each week, with a completely different feel and experience than the other two nights. That might not be feasible with a heavier system.

I'm currently running a twice-a-week Continuum game that takes a ton of GM prep. Continuum is a game where every PC can teleport and time-travel with very few restrictions. As a result, the GM has a lot to track, needing to know the rough whereabouts (and whenabouts) of about 60 NPCs every session, and keep thorough notes in case the PCs decide to spontaneously drop in at some previously unexplored corner of the setting, or revisit a scene you've previously run. I love GMing Continuum, but it's a lot of work.  I spend two to four times as many hours each week prepping for the sessions as I do running them. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.

In stark contrast to that weekly marathon, sometimes I'm looking for a chance to just flex my improvisational GMing muscles without having to sweat the details. 3:16 is great for that. My sessions have taken about 10 minutes prep each. Roll on 5 inspirational charts, think up one war movie trope I want to lean on, come up with the name of the officer of the week. Go.

3:16 is some sort of dehydrated adventure flakes. A better analogy might be frozen pizza, I suppose. Yeah, it wouldn't be smart to make frozen pizza the main staple of your diet in the long term, but when your stomach is your rumbling and you lack the time or energy to make a fancy meal, you'll gladly grab 3:16 out of the fridge and toss it in the oven. 15 minutes later, you've got a game.

Yesterday I was griping about some of the rules that weren't quite to my tastes, but upon further reflection, I'm going to resist the urge to start house-ruling. It's not perfect, but it's simple, and easy, and it works well enough for what it is.

A 3:16 campaign is not a fancy sit-down dinner. Neither is it the elaborate masterpiece work of art you slave over all day and wake up thinking about in the dead of night. Instead, it's more like the drinks and snacks you enjoy while you casually shoot the bull with your friends.  And every so often, that's exactly what I want.

1 comment:

tonybro001 said...

I played it at dragonmeet 2009 and it was a perfect con-game. Fast and frenetic, tongue in cheek, simple to learn. Everything you need when you've only just been introduced the DM and your fellow players. I loved it.