Microscope floods GPNW, citizens seek high ground

My original plan for GoPlayNW 2009 went something like this: “hmm, I guess I’ll schedule a session of Microscope for Friday night in case anyone wants to try it out. Once that’s out of the way I suppose for the rest of the con I’ll just roam around and try out some new games.”*

Oh, foolish youth! Because I only had three sign-ups for the slot I put up in advance, I was entirely clueless about the number of people interested in Microscope. By the time the dust settled there were five separate sessions of Microscope, with 17 new people jumping in and trying it out. Holy crap!

Ping deserves lots of the credit since she facilitated two of the five slots. By the end of Saturday we were neck-and-neck with two slots each, but I pulled ahead Sunday with a third slot for the win (victory is mine!).

I know what you’re thinking: you played Microscope every day at the con? Isn’t that a little much? Oh my god no. It was pretty fantastic actually. I followed my personal rule of letting the new players pick the starting premise and once again I was surprised at ideas I wouldn’t have thought of but which turned out great. Like the very first session of the con: religion drives settlers to the new world (think European colonization of the Americas) to forget the old gods, except the natives of the new world are primitive but intelligent tool-using animals…

Would I come up with that game idea? Not in a million years. But was it fantastic as a Microscope game? Oh yes. Same goes for the shrunken city hurtling through the cosmos after its world is destroyed (a la Krypton/Kandor), and the ancient continent spanning mega-city of Lemuria. It’s one of the things I really like about Microscope: you’re making it, but it’s surprising you at the same time.

Oh, and one other interesting data point: I gamed all weekend, but I never rolled a single die. Seriously.

* like some fantastic Saturday night jeepform mania. More on that later.

    Ben Robbins | June 30th, 2009 | , | hide comments
  1. #3 Frost says:

    That idea has indeed come up a few times. I think it could be a cool idea with some caveats. Of course you may or may not have a “detailed world” exactly, but you will have a solid history and something that may be a good framework for a ‘traditional’ system. Because in Microscope you are not really exploring the world, you are exploring the history. Possibly a subtle difference, but for example from our Stellar Empire game I may know about the legendary fleet Admiral’s revolt against the mad priest-emperor and when it occured relative to other events in the history, but I don’t know what system that occured in or a lot of other details that might be considered important if you were then planning on running a traditional game around that event.
    Even so I think it could give you an interesting, and I think more ‘natural-feeling’ history due to the organic creation from microscope.

    You could then choose to play during a particular period/event in the history created in the microscope game, or you could have the traditional game take place after the history you developed.

    Another problem is that this would mean that you’d have to stop playing Microscope and switch to the other game. :)

  2. #2 Steve says:

    Just a thought – I’m not sure exactly how Microscope works but it sounds really interesting. The gist I get from it is that at the end of a session you more or less have a detailed world that you’re exploring. Have you thought of using this as a group world-building tool for a more traditional system where players are characters? For instance, the same group that built a particular world turns around and plays a game as characters within their own creation. It has the benefit of never needing to overwhelm players with background fluff or memorization of history right out of the gate, since everyone at the table participated in the world’s creation.

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