Actual Play – Damascus Falls at GPNW (6/29/2013)

Apocalypse GalacticaGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Jeremy Tidwell, Morgan Stinson, Nels Anderson, Andrew Carbonetto
System: Apocalypse World
Hack: Apocalypse Galactica

I was very inspired by Go Play even before I got there. Once I had arrive, and especially once I had played Monsterhearts, I was even more so. I’m very glad I brought my Apocalypse Galactica get up. Uniform. Check. Playbooks. Check. Tokens from the game. Check. Game on!

Under the gun – A 3 hour slot

What I hadn’t realized, however, when I signed up to run, was that I was signing up for a three hour slot. It was right there in front of me (Saturday 9AM-Noon) but my math failed, or maybe I just assumed all slots were four hours, but yeah, there it was. I got to run my still in development game that I had never run in fewer than four hours, in three.

And I’m so stoked that I did. We had an hour of character creation and then two hours of game, where SO FRAKING MUCH HAPPENED! Games are fluid, and like fluid, fit into whatever space they are given.

Characters

Nels – Played an Activist that was a former Colonial sergeant, and then a former union man, and finally a protestor for the equal rights and opportunities for all 12 colonies.

Morgan – Played a cool headed president that wanted to restore order to the fleet and power to the quorum by any means necessary.

Jerry – Played a tough as nails CAG callsign Titan, who didn’t think the Commander was the right person for the job.

Andrew – Played the Admiral in charge of the fleet. An exceedingly practical man, with a terrible sense of the big picture, or rather of the value of human lives.

The Play is the Thing

Character creation, including the fleet, Hx, Love Letters, and all that jazz took exactly and hour, which left me two hours to run a game from FTL jump to Ka-Boom. Lords of Kobol guide us, somehow we did it.

Here are just a few highlights of the game.

We started off with some awesome bit of insubordination. Upon landing the the hangar bay Titan was immediately summoned to Admiral Raptis’ personal quarters. Where she totally didn’t go. Instead she made her way to the Condor, where she had heard that Karina Halphen had been put under house arrest by the Admiral and was not going quietly into the night.

Meanwhile, on Colonial One,  the activist and the president were having a pow-wow. How could they collectively get the Commander to back down. And boy howdy how they conspired against him. Though who was being treasonous would really depend on who you though was the rightful authority.

As play progressed

we saw some awesome badassery all over the place like…

… when Titan shot the Captain of the Condor (her ally) in the head, took her keys to the cargo bay that the Marines and Civilians were trapped in the middle of standoff in, and the told everyone to calm the frak down, completely diffusing the situation, or…

… The activist ordered his men to take over ships they were on and face the wrath of a Battlestar to declare their independence from the tyrannous rule of the Admiral under the presidents explicit orders, or….

… when the president jammed the commander’s signal to the fleet with wide spectrum electromagnetic interference, which caused so much noise it was picked up by a long distance cylon raider, or …

… when Admiral Raptis ordered a Marine to evacuate the Miya San (which had a radiological alarm go off on it) rather than use civilian technicians capable of diffusing the threat, because he didn’t trust anyone outside of his command, or …

… when the Activist realized the president was a Cylon and nearly got shot down trying to get to the Battlestar to tell the Admiral. And then, when they, two previous foes, saw eye to eye against a common enemy, or…

… when the President, calm, cool and collected told everyone that things would be just fine as she contacted the Cylon Basestar and called in an ambush on the fleet. Or …

… The admiral use the point defense turrets to drive the Basestar back just far enough that Titan could, with a nuke strapped to her Viper’s underbelly, suicide bomb the Cylon Basestar and give the fleet time to jump…

… followed by another nuclear explosion as the Miya San, because of the Activist’s plea that the Miya San was lost and this way she could at least take out a Cylon with her…

SO SAY WE ALL!

Thoughts on the game

I need to add to my list of names, as list of ship names. That keeps coming up.

Character creation reliably takes an hour. I think there are lot’s of fiddly bits on every playbook. Selecting name and look, stats and moves, and invariably some other gear/follower/beliefs options. Then we have love letters as well, which take time to read and then selection options from. Somewhere in there I have them select Fleet and Battlestar options. They are all fun things, but it’s a lot of choices. Jeremy told me later that the time it was taking made him anxious, we still had a good time, but an hour for character creation is a long time.

I think one approach to speed this up would be to drop some of my setup. Encourage people to play people without command (i.e. not the President, Commander, Activist, or CAG, which we had all of), leave out the love letters, and play without the Fleet/Battlestar playbook. I bet that could trim at least 15 minute off the setup time. Jeremy also suggested that instead of choosing lots of options for the Fleet and Battlestar, that juts one option is picked and it cascades down to fill out the others. I’m going to see what I can do with that on the next revision.

Morgan has a long period at the end of the game, after revealing that his character was a cylon where there wasn’t anything for her to do. I kept trying to find ways to put the spotlight back on her, but it never quite stuck. Morgan was a champ though and said he really enjoyed watching the chaos unfold through the fleet. One of his finest lines at the end was asking the pilot of Colonial One if he could escape the oncoming Miya San. We had previously defined Colonial One as a giant shit with a huge observatory dome, excellent for broadcasting to the fleet, but very awkward to maneuver. When the pilot respond (panicked, mind you) that they couldn’t, he final words were “The let me tell you how to pray”. It was awesome.

Most tragic moment of the game… probably when the yet unspoken to, but plenty spoken about rookie pilot Lunchbox got his launch sequence just a bit off and turned his viper around in the launch tube, causing it to turn end over end and explode inside the tube. Beeper and Titan died. But they died avenging Lunchbox!

The characters spent most of game able to communicate with each other over coms, but not in physical proximity. That’s something I want to work on, excuses to get them all in the same space. This game had a lot of NPCs acting as intermediaries between the characters, which did create PC – NPC – PC relationships, but I’d like to see more PCs in each others faces. That is good stuff.

Oh, this was the only game ever, perhaps because of time, where nobody wanted to find out what happened to the Damascus. To much other crap going on!

Titan was scary. If she hadn’t died killing Cylons I think she might have taken command of the Battlestar herself. Frak yeah!