Tag Results

Flight of the Hornet

We sit down to play Battlestations, a space combat RPG, last night. I’ve had it for a while but this is the first time we’ve tried it out. We plan to spend the evening blasting ships and taking names. I tell the players they’re fresh-faced cadets, straight out of the Union academy. They’re eager to […]

Ben Robbins | February 7th, 2013 |

“We reject Kings, Princes, Santas and other Tyrants…”

She looked me dead in the eye and uttered two words: “Santa. Kingdom.” A lot of the time we play serious, challenging games; dramatic examinations of life, society and the human condition. But sometimes you know you need a break and some surefire ace-in-the-hole fun. And in a situation like that you might just decide […]

Ben Robbins | December 20th, 2012 | , , | 1 comment

Actual Play Roundup: Is anything more epic than a psionic scream heard across the stars?

There are more great Microscope game write-ups out there than I can keep up with, but these are a few of my recent favorites: Psionic scream heard across the stars — Easily the most epic Microscope play report I’ve seen in quite a while. After the first session the story continues with the Retreat, the […]

Ben Robbins | November 26th, 2012 | ,

Moments in the Cold War

Microscope. A Cold War history. Lots of serious drama that left us craving even more Cold War Microscope. Mockingbird The British agents on operation “Mockingbird” are set up in a flat in a ghetto of emigrants who got out of the Eastern bloc and came to the West. The agents have been hunkered there for […]

Ben Robbins | November 7th, 2012 | , , , | 4 comments


Sneak peak from a Kingdom playset I’m working on: Starfall, weapons-smith to the galaxy. A hidden world-clave of scientists and technocrats, Starfall is the ultimate arms dealer to the planets. Humble and discrete, they are both corporation and independent nation-state, the kingmakers of all interplanetary affairs. Starfall’s weapons have no equal in known space. They […]

Ben Robbins | August 27th, 2012 | , | 1 comment

I ♥ Unicorns

The best Microscope game ever might have happened at GeekGirlCon this weekend. I wasn’t even in the game. Didn’t even see it. But from what I’ve heard it’s now my favorite session ever. Two sessions, actually. A very small and very brave girl came up to our table. One of our expert facilitators leaned down […]

Ben Robbins | August 15th, 2012 | , , | 4 comments

Actual Play Roundup: Something Fractal in the State of Denmark

One of the marvelous things about the modern world is that when you publish a game electronically, people around the world can buy and download it instantly. Microscope games have popped up all over the globe, but now Denmark seems to be the latest nation to get the fractal history bug… Utopia The Second Coming […]

Ben Robbins | June 26th, 2012 | , , | 4 comments

“You’re the only one who’s ready.”

Kingdom playtest. Sanctuary of Arcadia, game 2. The elders want to revive the old tradition and send Heralds out into the world to do good works in the name of the sequestered wizards of Arcadia. Karadin comes from the outside world and knows it isn’t the idyllic haven the Arcadians are used to. It’s a […]

Ben Robbins | May 25th, 2012 | ,

Once and Future Zombie

It’s Emerald City Comic Con, late Friday night at the indie RPG tables, and I sit down with some awesome new folks (Hi, Daniel! Hi, Gabi!) to play some Microscope. “What kind of history should we make?” “Let’s do a zombie apocalypse!” “Cool, zombies! Well wait, do we want to do modern times or something […]

Ben Robbins | April 12th, 2012 | , , ,

Actual Play Roundup: Day in the Live(s)

Remember how I said we played a mess of birthday Microscope at Story Games Seattle, all without realizing it was Microscope’s birthday? Here they are, plus a few more stragglers from the weeks before and after. Beware: several of these are experimental “short form” Microscope, where the whole history is actually a very short period […]

Ben Robbins | March 4th, 2012 | , ,

Fugit Omnis

“…and they flee to the colonies to escape oppression.” “This family is always fleeing things. That should be their family crest: Fugit Omnis!” I think because you have so much freedom to create in Microscope, there’s an initial urge to invent really far-out settings. Personally I think the real payoff comes when you zoom in […]

Ben Robbins | February 9th, 2012 | , ,

A Good Year for Gaming, Examined

So as I already posted, I had an epic year of gaming. Sixty percent more games than any year for the last decade. We’re talking raw college-levels of gaming. How did this magical thing happen? For one, 2011 was the year of the West Coast game tour, with convention and gaming events large and small, […]

Ben Robbins | January 5th, 2012 | , , | 2 comments

A Good Year for Gaming

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? That’s how many times I gamed each year for the past decade. I know it’s quality not quantity that matters, but 2011 was a fiery ball of gaming win. So next time you’re wondering why I haven’t posted on Ars Ludi in a while, there’s your answer: […]

Ben Robbins | January 2nd, 2012 | | 8 comments

Second Class Clones: PAX Microscope

Late Saturday night at PAX, some folks drifted into the Indie Games On Demand room and were checking out all the books on the display table. Like a good host, I pitched a couple of games but they didn’t seem terribly interested. I asked what kind of games they were used to. Party adventure stuff? […]

Ben Robbins | December 6th, 2011 | , , | 2 comments

Actual Play Roundup: PvP (Plant-versus-Plant)

You probably thought I was kidding when I said there was a Microscope game with nothing but plant-on-plant action. I never bluff when it comes to Microscope. Or plants. Plants of Arbre — The long-awaited plant history (thanks, Dominic!). Yep, plants. Just plants. Star Wars Rebooted — Using Microscope to re-write canon the way it […]

Ben Robbins | August 8th, 2011 | , , ,

Quake-pocalypse: That’s no moon! Oh wait, it is.

After six games, we’ve drawn our Quake-pocalypse Microscope history to an epic close. It wasn’t all easy. After game 4, it looked like we were going to have a hard time explaining how it all fit together. But in game 5, we jumped back and revealed that even before the first UFO was shot down, […]

Ben Robbins | July 6th, 2011 | ,

Polaris: Freedom of the Press

We’ve done a whole slew of Polaris setting hacks recently. Aztecs, Fall of the Roman Republic, 1920s Empire City cops and Battlestar Galactica (twice). The key ingredients of a satisfying Polaris analog are pretty simple: 1) a grand society on the verge of collapse because of some doom it has brought upon itself (a Mistake-analog), […]

Ben Robbins | June 24th, 2011 | ,

Quake-pocalypse: But A Very Dignified Squeal

Quake-pocalypse, game 4. The survivors of the shattered Earth escape to a new world, but it’s not what they expect. There’s a welcoming committee. From Earth! But not human. It gets a little complicated. In other news, the so-called scientists of the post-Quake golden age are accused being little more than “junkyard scavengers,” not inventors. […]

Ben Robbins | June 21st, 2011 | ,

Actual Play Roundup: You Banned Humans?

A flurry of game designers put Microscope to the test, sparked by the RPG Book Club. Will they enjoy themselves or burn Microscope at the stake like the witch it is? Let’s see… War of the Beast-Men! — Jason Morningstar’s posse sets the bar: “You can’t call me a Nazi just because I refuse to […]

Ben Robbins | June 15th, 2011 | , | 2 comments

Quake-pocalypse: Don’t Mess With Gravity

Sometimes coming up with Questions in Microscope can be harder than you expect. But a lot of the time there are perfectly good Questions — critical Questions — staring you right in the face. Questions you never consciously considered, but once they hit you they’re blindingly central to understanding your history. Case in point: Quake-pocalypse, […]

Ben Robbins | June 1st, 2011 | , | 1 comment

Quake-pocalypse: Techno-priests & Infinity Boxes

Game two of our Quake-pocalypse Microscope history. Science is the big theme of this session, but as everybody knows, there’s good science and there’s bad science. Yay, Science! It brings us the wondrous Infinity Box, capable of preserving something indefinitely (one could even say infinitely). We play a scene with the Question: What does humanity […]

Ben Robbins | May 22nd, 2011 | ,

Quake-pocalypse: A Flower for Ulysses

Some of the awesome folks from our weekly pickup games had never gotten the chance to play a multi-session Microscope history. Which is a crime, because multi-session games let you really dig into your history. So we assembled a crack squad (there’s still some debate whether it’s Team Boomstick, Team Thunderbunny, or Team Something Else […]

Ben Robbins | May 9th, 2011 | ,

Actual Play Roundup: We don’t need no stinkin’ capes!

Why is it never a good thing when superheroes take over the world? Don’t ask why, ask Weillach (yes, the Supers take over) The Fleet Departs: A Microscope RPG Campaign Set-Up In other news, Microscope has landed on the beaches of Europe. Books are sitting on the shelves of Leisure Games in the UK, right […]

Ben Robbins | April 26th, 2011 | , ,

Actual Play Roundup: Microscope Online

New challengers enter! I’ve never tried playing Microscope online, but during the playtest there were some fairly massive Wave games. Now that Microscope is out, some brave souls are trying out different tools to play online and graphically represent their histories: Magical Apocalypse — overview of the game, plus a post-it style history graphic using […]

Ben Robbins | April 5th, 2011 | , | 3 comments