Actual Play – Apocalypse Galactica (1/28/2012)

Apocalypse GalacticaGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Meilin, Sean, Kristin, Ezra
System: Apocalypse World
Hack: Apocalypse Galactica

I should really start calling this scenario something besides “Apocalypse Galactica”. I mean, I intended to name the first game after the hack itself, like some bands name their first album after then band, but you know, it just causes some unnecessary confusion.

Carl Rigney says I should run this game until the number of play hours exceeds the time spent to create it. Well, if you’re interested in playing the game, good news. By following Carl’s logic I have to run it at least another 28 times to catch up. Still, I’m awfully proud of this game.  It works very, very well.

Last time I ran this scenario was at the October Minicon.  Since then I’ve cleaned up Hx a lot, tightened up the playbooks, created more (total of 13 now), worked on the layout and typography, and added another love letter (the Activist has joined the game).  I also reviewed the love letters and tried to tighten them down by removing extraneous NPCs and trying to point the PCs at each other’s throats more.

Overall I think the scenario still has WAY too much going on. It was meant to simulate the feeling of never ending disasters that the show presents (and Apocalypse World normally has) but I always forget how much crazy fallout comes out of play. The fact of the matter is that Apocalypse World works too well at creating trouble, and I’m still overcompensating by loading up the love letters.

In two runs though, I’ve definitely seen which scenarios are really hot and which ones are avoided or just don’t come up much in play. My thought is right now the game just has too much, so rather than create more, I’m going to leave in the winners and trim out the duds. We’ll see how it plays after that and keep honing away. I’m prepared to run this at least three more times (two for private parties that have asked me to run it for their group and once more at a minicon, or Good Omens Con).

The game had a minor snag in that one player wasn’t able to make it on time. Thankfully we left the seat open. The Commander (in this case Admiral) playerbook wasn’t chosen, but so many people had connections to him, that he immediately became a hotly contested figure. All three of the PCs present had a bone to pick with him. Some the moment the last player sat down it was a total no-brainer. I handed over the commander, picked a few of the things that had been established (name, look, and rank) and then let my hapless newcomer dive into the myriad of troubles plaguing Admiral Noah Sethrin.

That ended up working out so much better than I ever could have hoped for. Because the player hadn’t been there to defend the Admiral’s actions at first, the character started off as kind of a despicable figure and was made more human through play.

I don’t want to go over the details of the game too much, since I plan to keep running it, but suffice to say my players were made of a thousand kinds of awesome. More on them below.

Thoughts on the game

First off, what is it with awesome gamer couples named Sean/Shaun and Kristin? Holy crap! I mean I love gaming with Shaun Hayworth and Kristin Hayworth, who would have thought I’d meet a second Sean and Kristin, and have them both be great gamers? Power to the gamer couples!

Ezra killed. I mean just killed. He was this hardcore activist that would do anything… anything for his cause. This including shooting one of his own people in the head, a teenager that was hardly a man no less, because he crossed him. Poor Micah, all he wanted was for people to be able to decide for themselves. The same thing Omid (Ezra’s character) wanted, he just wanted them to decide the RIGHT way. I loved how hard core he was. He took over Colonial One and was one roll away from ramming it into the Battlestar. Man I wish he had made that roll. It was awesome the way it went down, the CAG looked good, the president looked insane, the admiral looked like an uncaring soldier, but man, if he had hit that cool roll, legends would have been made.

The cylon reveals were epic. So far 7 out of 7 cylons have made perfect sense when the reveal. That systems works well.

Meilin was an incredible trouper. She sat down and had this villain of a character thrust in her hands and then rocked it. She was hard, she was tough, but she was also human. She did for the Noah Sethrin what I would have never been able to do if I was playing him as an MC character. She made the other PCs wonder, should I trust him?

The player vs. player conflicts in this game were really hot. The CAG and he Commander were constantly at each other’s throats. The Activist wasn’t happy with anybody. And the president, previously the intelligence secretary, in a wheelchair that she pushed by hand, she was like Admiral Caine in a blouse. She was bad ass, and she got in everyone’s faces.

No special (read: sex) moves happened. It just wasn’t the game for that; there was never time for someone to get busy with anyone. Too bad, the Commander’s special is so awesome, I really want to see someone use it one day.

For next time: Take out the obvious scapegoat and make sure all love letter entries are actionable.