What is Microscope?

Mankind spreads to the stars and founds a galactic civilization. A brilliant general conquers the world and dies young, leaving behind a fractured empire. An ancient line of dragon-kings die out as magic fades from the realm.

Those are all examples of Microscope games.

Microscope is a roleplaying game, but you don’t have your own character. You don’t play in chronological order. You know how things end before you know why they really happened. Yeah, it’s a bit experimental.

You start with the big picture, the grand scheme of your history, then zoom in and explore all the nooks and crannies. The more you play, the more complex the history becomes. Your once simple summary becomes a detailed tapestry, full of meaning and surprises.

It’s fractal gaming.

Want to leap a thousand years in the future and see how an institution shaped society? Want to jump back to the childhood of the king you just saw assassinated and find out what made him such a hated ruler? That’s normal play in Microscope. You have the freedom to move around and examine whatever you want, defying limits of time and space.

Want to do a game spanning centuries or thousands of years, like the Silmarillion, the Foundation books, or the entire Dune series? Microscope says yes.

What’s the next step? More playtesting of course. We’ve played it a lot in the last six weeks, but to be honest the games haven’t felt like playtesting at all, just good gaming. How cool is that?

    Ben Robbins | April 28th, 2009 | microscope | show 19 comments