Three Days Until Retirement
From: Dioxin Dump, LLC
Reviewed by: W. E. Mitchell
Three Days Until Retirement is a new RPG from Dioxin Dump, LLC.
If you find yourself unable to sleep unless you’ve kicked a few dirt bags down the precinct steps for peddling dope, then you’re probably in need of some counseling. Or you could save on psychologist fees and play Three Days Until Retirement. A new kick-started RPG from Dioxin Dump where one to four people can use the power of imagination to play out an over the top, tongue in cheek, buddy cop adventure. So comb out those mustachios and wipe that glaze off on your pants, it’s time to solve that one last case.
From the title page:
“A card based tabletop game about cops on the edge.”
This game is an RPG where one to four players follow clues, interrogate witnesses and rough up suspects all in attempt to solve one last case before retiring in three days. The Game Runner strings together a story of villainous mystery for the players to solve, netting a last minute promotion and a serious bump in pension benefits.
Time is a big core part of the game, since players only have three days to solve the case before they retire. Each day is made up of four scenes. Each scene is a narrative block where players must find a clue or take an action. Length and order of play is determined by the Game Runner (GR) who functions much like a traditional Dungeon Master, one part storyteller and one part referee.
There are no dice rolls in this game. Character creation, combat, investigation, and any risky behavior is done by use of regular playing cards, minus jokers. The GR has their own deck while the players share a second deck. Each card is valued at its number and face cards are valued thusly: Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13, Ace = 14. The suit has no effect on the card’s value, and any ties are resolved in the player’s favor. At the beginning of each day, a number of cards are dealt from the player’s deck to each player. These cards are then used to perform actions and resolve combat. At the end of each day, unused cards are turned in. This practice motivates players to use their cards, advancing the plot along and modulating the pacing of the game. The number of cards dealt are reduced each day.
This mechanic is used to resolve any skill attempt or combat and can be modified by luck tokens. These tokens are dispensed by the GR and are turned in at the end of each day. So if the players do not use them up they get lost. On the next day a smaller number of luck tokens are distributed. These tokens can be spent to activate one of the Lucky Break skills generated during character creation.
Resolving pulls, situations in which a player needs to pull a card, function one of two ways, random or chosen. In pulls where the player is trying to do something other than combat, the player chooses a card from their hand and add any relevant bonuses. The GR then either chooses a card from their own hand to play, or randomly pulls a card from their deck. A handy chart detailing which type of pull to do is on page 154. If the card of the player is greater than or equal to the GR’s after any bonuses or penalties, then the player wins the pull and the GR narrates what happens.
Combat is slightly different. The player’s hand is shuffled and the top card from the player’s hand and the top card of the GR’s deck is pulled and compared. Whoever has the higher valued card wins and the damage dealt is the difference in value, times ten if weapons are involved. That number is subtracted from the NPC’s or player’s hit points. Unarmed combat is slightly different. The GR and player continue to draw cards, doing damage to each other until a face card is dealt. The GR then narrates how the fisticuffs end. This stops a single unarmed combat from eating up game time and keeps things moving forward.
The only issue that came up with this mechanic is if any of the players were a member of a magic team in High School (cough, cough). Such skills would allow a player to easily set up a deck by controlling a desired card during false shuffles. However, the rules seem to be silent on any nimble finger rearrangements of the cards. Whereas in the case of the GR, everything is done from a separate deck and done by random pulls. It would be a lot harder for a GR to set the deck against the players.
From page 8:
“Though you had aspirations of making it big as an officer, you like getting your hands dirty and couldn’t stand to sit behind a desk.”
Character creation is completely random and take less then ten minutes to accomplish. This is a huge departure from RPG’s like Dungeon and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu and Pathfinder that require a large time investment in character creation. This game does not require plowing through dusty tomes of arcane knowledge to squeeze every ounce of splat capability out of the character. In Three Days, everyone gets the same department issued weapon, and all of the quirks, backgrounds, lucky breaks and any PTSD.
Players first choose a name and write down 100 hit points. The character sheet on page 153 can be used, but it’s so simple a blank piece of paper will serve just as well.
Each character has backstory quirks, intuition quirks, career quirks, and any possible forms of PTSD. To determine quirks, a player draws four cards, then three, then two and finally one card, for each of the four quirks respectively. Only face cards count toward getting a particular quirk. If none are drawn then the character has no quirks in that corresponding quirk. If a face card is drawn simply match it to the charts starting on page 12. These quirks give bonuses and disadvantages for doing certain activities.
Lucky Breaks are a little different. These are the abilities that can be activated by spending a luck token. Each player draws five cards and matches each card according to its value and suit to the chart on page 16.
This method of character creation quickly generates an interesting and quirky officer fit for hijinks and sweet sweet street justice. The only issue is if a maximum number of players are participating, it’s very possible to get repeated quirks, but it doesn’t impair play too much. Especially when the group is made up of people who like role playing and having a rip-roaring good time.
With characters generated, players can dive right into one of the three pre generated mysteries provided or use the handy adventure charts on page 135 to slap a random mystery together.
Everything about the construction of this excellent RPG is to facilitate prompt play with light hearted, face paced stories. A lot of the work of remembering stats and rules is eliminated by the clever use of the card system placing more emphasis on storytelling. Given its fast paced nature, its easy to get through an entire mystery in four to six hours of play. The light hearted tone emphasizes the goal of the game creators – for everyone to have fun, and this RPG provided it in spades.
There were a few issues, the combat mechanic was a little confusing and could be worded a little better. However, a handy quirk reference is provided on page 154 that makes things a little bit easier.
While it is entirely possible to cheat the by system by knowing just a few simple card manipulation tricks, it doesn’t impact play very much. The goal is to have fun pretending to be a rogue police officer in some over the top 80’s buddy cop movie and those guys get away with jumping into dumpsters full of dandelion fluff and passed out bums with smoking guns stuffed in their pockets. Those cops probably were palming cards.
For more details on Dioxin Dump, LLC and their new RPG “Three Days Until Retirement” check them out at their website http://dioxindump.com, and at all of your local game stores.
Codex Rating: 18
Three Days Until Retirement
From: Dioxin Dump, LLC
Type of Game: RPG
Written by: Stuart P. Keating
Game Design by: Stuart P. Keating
Edited by: Rebecca M. Schranz
Cover Art by: Nikki N. Burch
Additional Art by: Nikki N. Burch
Number of Pages: 155
Game Components Included: Game rules book and supplemental rules booklet
Game Components Not Included: Playing cards
Retail Price: $25.00(US)
Retail Price: $28.00 (Can)
Number of Players: 1-4
Player Ages: 12 – 99
Play Time: 6 – 8 hours
Contact: @DioxinDump (Twitter) 405-249-5145 (Phone)
Reviewed by: W. E. Mitchell
About the author
William Mitchell (William)
Aspiring autodidactic raconteur from the wilds of North Carolina in the former Democrat Republic of America. Survivor of mid-Western Winters, South West Summers and the Apocalypse of 2012.