Legacies are Mini-Focuses
A lot of people look at Legacies in Microscope and ask: what’s the point? What purpose do they serve? Couldn’t we just skip that step?
Here’s an excerpt from Microscope Explorer, where I talk about that very thing:
Legacies perform a vital function, but it is a fairly subtle one. At its heart, a Legacy is really just a tiny Focus, except it serves the exact opposite purpose. The Focus gets us all on the same page and keeps us making things that relate to the same facet of the history, preventing us from spinning off into totally unrelated stories. But when you pick a Focus, you commit everyone to that subject matter for a whole loop around the table. You are deciding an important chunk of the game.
Enter the Legacy. It’s a break from the constraint of a big Focus. It lets you roam farther a field and flesh something out without committing everyone to exploring it for a full rotation. It lets you build on loose ends or add interesting (and possibly unrelated) wrinkles to your history.
In a longer game, the Legacy also does exactly what you might expect it to do: it provides call-backs to early elements. In a short game, it has an added social value because it lets the person to the right of the first Lens contribute early on, which is good because they will be the last person who has a chance to make a Focus.
So don’t skip the Legacy phase. It helps round out your history and provides a valuable social function at the table.