Threeforged APs and Reviews Two

image from ArtBreeder

filed under actual play on 12 Oct 2017
tagged misc, threeforged, and 3F

Note: I am only critiquing these games in a very limited way! I’m looking at it from the perspective of a solo gamer and of a solo game designer looking for potentially useful tools for soloing.

Just one game this week, because I ended up playing it from start to finish. I didn’t do too badly, though I did lose the core mechanic a couple of times (tired!).

1511 Galactic Arena has an interesting frame; you’re part of the human team sent to prove we deserve to be full Galactic Council members by competing in a space tournament. This is the third or fourth game that’s had pieces I think are very applicable to soloing, but more about that later.

The adventure begins...

So this is definitely a team game, though it calls for a minimum of two players, one GM, one player.

I'm going to go with a "two players" approach; I'll pick one option, the computer the other.

So, first step is to give Humanity a special thing each.

[Defining Attribute] The actor is somewhat impaired at "everything".

The computer is cheating and tried to write down "Everything". Haha.

[Trait] "careful disrespectful"

Ok, much better. Mac (that's my computer's name, as of right now) writes down "Defiance".

I write down, hmm, Determination.

I'm using the diagram map panel as a makeshift table. I could use status or actors instead but this is fine.

Ok, time to define our aliens. Just two, since each player gets one.

I randomly generate "K'Riva".

Mac picks "Zrueth". And just for fun I'll add one more player and race, the GM, and the Osaurs.

We'll pick a third thing Humans are special for. They dream.

Ok, it looks like we're supposed to make sure every alien has something from each player, which means each will have two advantages and one disadvantage compare to humans.

The K'Riva are paragons of discipline (compared to humanity's defiance). +1 to Athletics. They are singularly unimaginative; -1 to Culture. They are Relentless; +1 to Politics because nobody wants to cross them.

The Zrueth are Subtle (opposed to Defiance); this gives them a +1 to Politics.

They are also Empaths (similar to Dreams but other people) which gives them a +1 to Politics.

They tend to be Fatalistic, though, and give up easily (opposite of Determination). -1 to Athletics.

This is really fun!

The Osaurs are Rough (they take Defiance to a whole new level, +1 Athletics), Tough (they take Determination to stupid extremes physically, +1 Athletics) and Hard-Headed (psychic stuff is for the weak, -1 Politics).

I can see a ton of potential here for creating things for games with a -1 to +3 paradigm.

Now I roll a d6 for each box and add or subtract the modifier. I'll do it in the order I created them.

Rolling 1d6 3 times.
[ 4 ] 4
[ 2 ] 2
[ 6 ] 6

Rolling 1d6 3 times.
[ 1 ] 1
[ 3 ] 3
[ 3 ] 3

Rolling 1d6 3 times.
[ 3 ] 3
[ 2 ] 2
[ 4 ] 4

Interesting; the political powerhouses are the K'Riva.

It doesn't say to do the humans so I guess we start at 0.

For a deck I'm going to do a "choose one" and just remove elements as directed.

Ok, now I need to make my "Arena Deck". Starts with Opening Ceremonies, ends with Closing Ceremonies.

One Arena card per alien species.

One event card per player; does that include the GM? I'll assume not.

[One Options] diplomatic summit, formal gala, bar crawl, media interview, art exhibition, trade fair, planetary safari

[Choice] diplomatic summit

Mac picks diplomatic summit.

I think I'll pick at random from the ones that interest me.

Definitely not interested in a trade fair or media interview!

[One Options] formal gala, bar crawl, art exhibition, planetary safari

[Choice] formal gala

Fair enough.

I'll pick one at random as I go.

Nice, my map saved and loaded okay. Trying to remember why I put that on its own save scheme. I think it was taking too much time to save as part of each game save.


Hmm, the next section asks for three players; good thing I added an extra.

Okay, I'll go first. Competition like chess.

Mac picks the qualifier.

[One Options] "except", "combined with", "using"

[Choice] "except"

Hmm, rules difference or special playing field? I'll pick for the GM; it's played in the dark, with flashing lights, in a gravity-anomalous room, with the competitors taking the roles of the pieces.

C Zero-Gee Chess

So, Mac's turn.

I pulled up a giant list of sports on the internet.

Now a random roll...

Rolling 1d66 1 times.
[ 30 ] 30

So Mac chooses Karate.

[One Options] "except", "combined with", "using"

[Choice] "using"

A strange piece of gear or protective equipment.

Karate using your imagination.

C Mind Karate

So now it's the GM's turn.

Rolling 1d50 1 times.
[ 13 ] 13

Hahaha. The GM picks "hunting".

[One Options] "except", "combined with", "using"

[Choice] "except"

the players are hunting each other!

... obviously it's not intended to be lethal but accidents happen.

C Gladiatorial Hunting

Whew, About two-thirds done with prep. Which has been a lot of fun.

Ok, time to create our heroes. Two of them.

Mine and Mac's.

They start with 0 Glory, 0 Wealth, 1 point in each of a zillion skills, and have a few points to allocate.

Lucas Harmon, Glory 0, Wealth 0, Brawn 2, Speed 2, Tactics 2, Humanities 1, Art 1, Science 1, Empathy 1, Presence 3, Game Theory 2

Cameron Brady, Glory 0, Wealthy 0, Brawn 1, Speed 1, Tactics 1, Humanities 1, Art 4, Science 1, Empathy 4, Presence 1, Game Theory 1

Oh, and a goal for each.

Rolling 1d6 1 times.
[ 6 ] 6

Rolling 1d6 1 times.
[ 6 ] 6

Okay, they both are determined to get Politics to be the highest.

Makes sense, they want to ensure humanity's future and all.

The actual play is a little fuzzy, but I think I can work with it.

Opening Ceremonies

The Zrueth are tall, lanky humanoids who wouldn't be too out of place on Earth except they have six fingers on each hand and wear chitinous scaled armor that might be part of them.

The Osaurs are dinosaurs. Obviously.

The K'Riva are green-skinned humans, at least visibly.

My humans are the quintessential clean-cut athletic hot shot pilot and a highly-regarded artist. Both were "collected" for this mission instead of being chosen.

This is a massive space station.

Ok, action for each player during the ceremony.

Harm shows off for the most attractive (by human standards) member of the K'Riva delegation.

Speed 2.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 6 2 ] 8

I'll keep the 6.

Let's use their Politics score. Hmm, wonder what I do if they have a 0, like the Zrueth ended up in Athletics.

Rolling 7d6 1 times.
[ 3 3 1 4 6 4 3 ] 24

6 also.

Hmm, there's no "tie" clause unless I missed it earlier.

These are essentially move results, but they're a bit flabby and the last one really seems like it's a. too broad and b. should be a defacto consequence you have to choose to avoid.

Like, "you take a hit to a score or stat. Choose one/two/three: blah, blah, blah, or you don't take a hit to a score or stat."

Ok, well, a tie. We each get one result or neither of us does. And the former is more interesting.

I boost humanity's Politics by +1; we're obviously not xenophobic.

And they add one to their pool for the next test they're part of, as they take our measure.

Cameron's going to use her observational skills to see if she can glean an advantage against the Osaurs.

Rolling 4d6 1 times.
[ 2 6 1 2 ] 11

6, nice!

Versus their Culture of 2.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 2 2 ] 4

A win by 4.

So, two. First, she spots that they're good at Athletics, but their Politics relies heavily on "nobody wants to pick a fight with them and they don't have anything worth fighting over".

And she'll get a +1 to the next team pool against them.

The RAW is "the next test" but I think this makes more sense.

Time for the first event. Next day.

I'm going to just do an actual event, so it doesn't end up being too many non-combats in a row.

The intermixed cards seems like it'd work really well with more than three players, but the chances of nonsense are too high with so few.

So... pick one.

[One Options] K'Riva, Zrueth, Osaurs

[Choice] Zrueth

This is where I think it'd make more sense if you had group events, with all races participating, or maybe a tournament structure... it seems unlikely to prove anything to have each species face off against one other in what might not be either's forte.

Well, anyway.

[One Options] Gladiatorial Hunting, Mind Karate, 0G Chess

[Choice] Gladiatorial Hunting

... yeah, that makes no sense. Why would a non-athletic empath race sign up for that? Unless they were forced into it, but even so, it's hardly a good test of humanity.

So, I think I'd assign each activity to a specific race. Zrueth do Mind Karate, K'Riva 0G Chess, and everyone in the free for all Hunt at the end.

Ok, so, first event is Cameron, attempting to play Mind Karate against a Zrueth.

It's a blank white room; whatever you imagine is vividly real here, but only to someone else who "buys into" the reality, ie, agrees to participate. Probably drugs involved.

Ok, higher Athletics is favored. Hmm, that doesn't make much sense. It's a tie anyway. Culture is better liked; okay, fair enough, that's the Zrueth. And with a high Politics the Zrueth are the ref's favorites too.

Each team rolls its totaled stats, treating anything under 0 as 0. I wonder if Humanity was supposed to roll a d6 per stat too. But it seems pretty clearly not.

So I have a 1. They have an 8.

Hmm. Being favored etc. doesn't seem to have any mechanical effect.

I'll use an action from Cameron; she'll use her vivid imagination to create a freezing and beautiful ice scape.

Rolling 4d6 1 times.
[ 3 4 4 6 ] 17

They have 3d6.

Rolling 3d6 1 times.
[ 1 1 2 ] 4

I'll boost my pool, then. I win by two, so just one. I put it to Athletics. Oh, wait, I can't -- has to be Politics or Culture.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 5 6 ] 11

Good time for that roll.

Rolling 8d6 1 times.
[ 1 4 2 1 6 1 2 6 ] 23

Tie. So they win on Politics.

Well, okay.

Next event.

[One Options] ARENA vs K'Riva, EVENT Diplomatic Summit, EVENT Formal Gala

[Choice] EVENT Formal Gala

Okay, formal gala. Harm continues to chat up the K'Riva; he's determined to seduce the member he impressed earlier.

Cameron seeks out the Zrueth she competed against and tries to figure out why he won when she obviously out imagined him.

Let's see, Harm is using Presence vs. Politics.

Rolling 3d6 1 times.
[ 2 5 2 ] 9

5, not bad.

Rolling 7d6 1 times.
[ 3 2 3 6 3 4 5 ] 26

Ouch, she wins.

So there are "complications" but it doesn't say what those are.

I think the last option on the list is kind of a catchall for that, but then isn't that the same as "pick one"?

Ok, so, the complication is that one of the K'Rivans is now dedicated to killing Harm at the earliest opportunity.

Cameron will roll Empathy vs. the Zrueth's Culture.

Rolling 4d6 1 times.
[ 6 3 3 5 ] 17

Rolling 3d6 1 times.
[ 4 1 2 ] 7

A win, by 2.

He explains that she won, but the Politics of the situation were against her -- and that it's important to always remember the politics of a situation.

So, I add a die to the human pool in general for the next test.

Ok, next test is the one with the K'Riva. Harm plays a sort of handball slash chess slash zero-gee ballet against the K'Riva he's been flirting with.

That's his... damn. Speed, Brawn, Game Theory all seem equally applicable. Oh, wait, it's not based on his score, it's the team score.

Well, 2d6 it is. Plus 1 for his bonus against them, plus 1 for the one Cameron just collected.

Rolling 4d6 1 times.
[ 6 1 4 5 ] 16

And the K'Rivans have Athletics 5d6.

Rolling 5d6 1 times.
[ 2 5 2 2 2 ] 13

Nice, won by one point! Even though they were favored, the audience liked them better, and the refs were biased. Since that has no real mechanical bearing.

I picture them darting around each other, occasional tackles; she's much better at this than he is, much more practiced, and knocks him around quite a bit before he -- watching carefully for the light flashes -- makes his move to send her ball through the goal and win it.

So, one point of Glory and one point of Athletics.

Diplomatic Summit time.

Cameron argues that the humans should be allowed into the council as full members.

She's opposed by the K'Riva delegate who hates Harm, and who despises humanity in general.

Empathy it is.

Rolling 4d6 1 times.
[ 4 1 5 5 ] 15

Not too bad.

They have a ridiculous Politics, though. I expect they make up the bulk of the Council.

Rolling 7d6 1 times.
[ 2 1 5 2 1 1 6 ] 18

A loss, then, by one point.

So she's not humiliated or anything, but stonewalled. It's decided things will be settled at the game the next day.

Harm is trying to seduce the K'Rivan. Of course. Or maybe she's trying to seduce him. Hard to tell.

Rolling 3d6 1 times.
[ 4 2 6 ] 12

And she'll use, hmm. Culture this time. She's come to respect him as an opponent.

Rolling 1d6 1 times.
[ 5 ] 5

So he wins by one.

I'll add +1 to my team's Athletic's pool (temporary) for the next round.

Final event; it's a free-for-all.

Cameron tricks the Osaur she's facing down in single combat.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 5 3 ] 8

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 5 1 ] 6


So no boost, but also no drawback.

Harm plays cat and mouse with the K'Rivan who really wants to kill him; the games aren't supposed to be lethal, but the K'Rivan plans to claim it was his bad, who knew humans only had one heart?

So, looking for the high ground, essentially.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 6 3 ] 9

Rolling 5d6 1 times.
[ 1 5 1 3 4 ] 14

Nice, an unexpected and unlikely win.

I'll take another +1 to Politics.

Okay, Cameron gets one more round, since this is the final one.

This time she uses Politics -- inspired by her earlier fight to be sneaky -- vs its Culture (dumbness).

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 1 1 ] 2


Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 6 3 ] 9

Okay, it injures her, fairly severely.

That has no mechanical impact, by the way.

I want Harm to help her out; I'll say she set up a trap for it using cunning but couldn't quite pull it off, and he's going to push the lever/bum rush it/finish it. Or at least try.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 2 2 ] 4

Good lord.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 4 5 ] 9

Complication, then. He's injured too, but he manages to get Cameron to a place of respite.

So, final check.

Man, the resolution is really unclear, now that I read it more closely.

"assigning one die from each pool to be its result". What does that mean? There's only one thing to resolve, who wins or not!

... I never resolved the last event, now that I look at it.

To be honest, this is a losing game. There's just no way to win with my score of 4 vs. their score of 13.

Rolling 4d6 1 times.
[ 1 4 5 1 ] 11

Rolling 13d6 1 times.
[ 2 5 2 3 5 2 6 2 5 6 4 3 5 ] 50

Oh, I think I understand now.

You're supposed to roll each pool separately and determine the results from that, but only Athletics really matters.

So Mind Chess would have been 3d6 vs. 1d6.

Rolling 3d6 1 times.
[ 2 1 6 ] 9

Rolling 1d6 1 times.
[ 5 ] 5

Same result.

Then 0G Chess would have been, um, something ridiculous. 0 vs. 5d6.

Well, that's only one die lower, ultimately, so I could drop my last die (a 5) and the result still stands.

So this round is my 1d6 vs their 5d6.

Rolling 5d6 1 times.
[ 5 3 4 5 5 ] 22

Oh, and I have a +1 from an earlier success.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 5 6 ] 11

Good time for a 6!!!

So the K'Rivans are ambushed by the enraged Osaur; the one who wants to kill Harm is wounded, the other is holding it off (she's a tough warrior) but it's a losing battle. Harm and Cameron, working together, close the trap and stop the Osaur.

For a point of Athletics and a point of Glory.

Okay, closing ceremonies.

Rolling 1d6 3 times.
[ 4 ] 4
[ 1 ] 1
[ 4 ] 4

So that's... a tie. Again not accounted for.

Rolling 1d6 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

Unfortunately, I think the game only works if you have more than the suggested minimum of two players.

I mean, even rolling as well as could be expected (some wins, some losses), I have a 2, 1, 2 as my Athletics, Culture, and Politics. I don't win on ANY of the tracks.

I might have been able to win on Culture if I only rolled against it and performed multiple actions per round towards that. I'm up against (highest in each category) 5, 3, 7.

I started at 0 in everything.

I think to solo successfully, you could go a few different ways. You could give a boost in each category like the aliens get at the beginning. Or you could count each action by a human as worth double or triple the points. Or you could spend a lot longer on each scene, allowing each human character to earn up to, say, ten bonuses per scene.

Anyway, Athletics is the most valued track, which means I need a 5 or better. I have 2.

If I added a d6 per Human starting score...

Rolling 1d6 3 times.
[ 4 ] 4
[ 1 ] 1
[ 1 ] 1

We'd win Athletics, and not be laughed at or enslaved, instead becoming mercenaries. We lose Culture and are considered barbarians, and low Politics means we end up staying as provisionary members of the council. There's also more neutral results but I don't see any way to get to them.

I mean, if you win the track, option A, or lose the track, Option B. If it's most important and you win, C, lose, D. There's no way to have it be anything else so the final somewhat neutral option doesn't seem achievable.

Maybe I'm just having a hard time following; the smoke here is making me kind of light-headed.

I'm also supposed to account for what we wanted most, but it has no mechanical bearing. So... we're bummed and strive harder next time.

Ultimately it was a fun character and world building exercise, and the mechanics would work if they were cleaned up, with clearer roll results.

To be honest, though, I think there's a wasted opportunity here -- you are literally building Tags throughout the creation process, and then they're just... not important.

Instead of nine stats, why not just use Tags? Let each Human have the base Human Tags, plus six more. Tags add +1 to a roll if you can explain how. Foes work in the same way; they get a base of their relevant species stat, plus one for each of their species tags that matters.

Anyway, fun game.