Angels & Offspring

Me: Welcome to Microscope! What kind of history should we make?

“Emergence of magic!” “Angels!” “The extinction of mankind!”

Me: Cool. What if we combine all three?

Birthrates in our modern world dwindle, which (we discover in play) is because angels have walked unseen among us and judged that humanity’s time should come to an end.

As our science and technology fail to save us, there is a desperate turn towards the supernatural. Sorcery (we find out) isn’t like wizards shooting fireballs. It’s about bending the fabric of reality to your will. Masses of disciples work together, organized and controlled by the powers-that-be, integrated into the hierarchy of government and society. It’s a little like being a nuclear power — it’s there behind the scenes and you know it, but it’s not something you see as you walk down the street.

But it’s the same old story: the elite keep tight control and use sorcery to maintain their own status, while the masses have little say. There’s a popular uprising that fails. The powerful pull the strings and maintain their own selfish power, all while humanity dwindles. Eventually the elite discover the existence of angels and use sorcery to try to wrest dominion from them — and fail — but that’s later on. In the meantime we’re focused on the plight of ordinary people as fewer and fewer children are born.

Which brings us to a very dark chapter of our history.

What better way for the elite to secure their position as the world’s saviors and placate the masses than to cure the barrenness afflicting humanity? They undertake a great sorcerous endeavor, bending the fabric of reality to save mankind.

And it works. People around the world start having children again. Millions of new parents are overcome with joy. The relief is incalculable, as humanity steps back from extinction.

But… this Period is Dark. Because these children are not real. They are creations of magic: dreams, imitations, fictions of children. They are not people. They laugh and cry and play but really only imitate laughing and crying and playing. They grow and act like children, but something is missing, and as years go by and they should become more and more their own people, that lack is harder and harder to ignore.

And when the parents begin to doubt, when the parents stop believing, the children begin to fade, until they are mere ghosts haunting their parents’ house… and then gone forever.

A whole generation of children, given and then taken away.

And of course we learn that the elite had an inkling that the children wouldn’t be “real”, but went forward with the project anyway. They thought people wouldn’t know the difference.

We have a particularly brutal scene with the question “is it worse to lose a real child or a false child?” A lawyer is helping a family settle the estate of a false child who faded, but at the same time he’s ignoring his own real son who is terminally ill, playing in the next room. When a faint noise interrupts the meeting, the lawyer storms into the other room and berates his child. It’s terrible. And we think “okay, no, parents are not cherishing their (rare) real kids”.

But nope, it’s the other way around. The lawyer is so torn up about his kid dying he can’t even deal with it. It’s making him a monster, lashing out at his son in misplaced grief. He’d rather his son was a fiction, a phantom, so he didn’t have to care about him.

Happy story games, everybody!

    Ben Robbins | January 22nd, 2020 | , | show 2 comments