Actual Play – Damascus Falls (4/12/2012)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Matthew Klein, Dale Horstman, Mac Hume, and Steve Locke
System: Apocalypse World
Hack: Apocalypse Galactica

This was my second “private” run of Apocalypse Galactica. I have to say I’m delighted that there is enough interest in this game that people are asking me to run it in private sessions. I love running it and people enjoy playing it. Awesome.

Roll call

As usual I asked for someone to play either the Commander and/or the President and to my delight, both were picked!

Matt – The lovely Linda Rosen, once upon a time beauty pageant winner, now President of the the Twelve Colonies. Nicknamed “Lulu” by the Commander.

Dale – Shona, a small woman whose eyes saw light through the darkness. Her faith was grounded in the “The Trial, The Payment”. Visionary.

Mac – Deke Bailey, callsign Werewolf was the CAG by sudden proxy. After he landed in the hanger deck, a helmet was thrown is his lap. “Old CAG is dead. You’re the new CAG now!” A wildly unprepared man in an unforgiving role.

Steve – Commander Cain Harish. A take no prisoners kind of commander. He instituted martial law with no qualms at all. Known through the decks of the Argonaut as “Commander Harsh”. Nicknamed “Cici” by the president.


It turns out the Commander and the President used to be and item, but now held each other in little regard.

Shona believed it was the commander that was going to bring the fleet to salvation, and as interested as she was in him, he was totally perplexed by her.

Deke, a pilot, now CAG, way out of his league was not only a fervent support of the president, but also tangled up with the Quorum. His loyalties would be tested!

No Cylons

Though this game did include a hull breach in the Argonaut, and Colonial One nearly being blown to bits with every single player character on it, there were no Cylons in this game. No players revealing and none appearing. Why? The tension between the characters was so hot and so human, they were never necessary. This was a killer game.


Though we didn’t have any actual Cylons, the paranoia around them was killer. Deke was constantly trying to stifle rumors that there were Cylons in the fleet, and eventually was accused of being one himself. This ended in an explosion. As it should!

The Decision

The highlight of the game for me was in the last 30 minutes. The commander was put in a deliciously difficult predicament. There was a threat to the fleet, a woman with explosives strapped all over her. Her would-be suicide bombing, however, was identified by the president as the bi-product of the commander’s actions. By ruling through force, he had turned is opposition into radical enemies, willing to die (and kill hundreds) just to prove their point.

So, here was the choice presented to him. Shoot her now and eliminate the threat, but destroy the last remnants of good will between himself and the president (and for that matter the people) or take a leap of faith that she would surrender, if given the chance.

Man this was a very tough call. So much so that it took nearly twenty minutes (of real time) for Steve to choose. And those were twenty delicious minutes of agony. I presented to him that he rolled a 10+ on go agro against the self-destructy woman and she chose to suck it up and take the pain. This meant she wasn’t gong to take of the vest and he could just kill her now. Or, he could make a “leap of faith” (the Faith basic move) to try and talk her down.

We went back and forth for a while, in character, out of character and finally commander Harish decided to take a chance. He turned to Shona (the quiet visionary) and asked for her guidance. This made me even happier because up till this point, there was incredible tension between the commander and the president, but by deferring to the visionary for guidance, she suddenly became important, in fact so important that she would determine if they all died or night. And with a roll of 10+ on faith she said something very creepy “All of us will end in darkness, that is the only path, but it is a path we must walk on our own”. What a nihilistic nut job, but that nut saved the fleet.

Thoughts on this game

I was really happy how human this game was. People were afraid to be vulnerable, so they built up walls around themselves, but those same walls prevented them from getting what they needed. When to let someone through those walls is a very hard decision we all have to make in our lives, and so did these characters.

I absolutely adored Shona. Not only was she both innocent and terrifying, but Dale did a remarkable job of giving convincing reasons for why people of immense power (Commander, President, and CAG) would heed her advice. Awesome visionary.

Werewolf was hilarious. He was so unprepared for the role that when he did have to step up and try to be a good leader, every success (no matter how small) he had was a giant victory. Mac also rolled a lot of 6- (misses) and so he was often the cause of horrible, horrible things happening.

The game ending was very satisfactory, but left just enough loose ends open that we all thought it would be killer to play another session of it. We might yet!

Last but not least. We had TABLE TENTS!


  1. Dale Horstman

    I just wanted to say a quick thanks, as I really enjoyed the session! Looking forward to more.

    That thanks isn’t just limited to our MC, it goes out to everyone for bringing teh awzum!

  2. Matthew Klein

    I’ve been carrying that final scene around with me for days. How did we pull that off?? Hall of Fame session, Sean. ANOTHER one. As satisfying as Deadwood and that’s high praise.

  3. Stephen Locke

    Thanks again, Sean. It was great fun!

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