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The Dragon: the Sacred Flame (Follow at Go Play NW, part 2)

On Sunday a bunch of the Go Play NW staff retreated to an undisclosed location to end the con with some gaming glee. True fact: con organizers are often too exhausted making fun for others to enjoy themselves and play all the games. It’s a crime but there it is. So when Brandon suggested we […]

Ben Robbins | August 14th, 2016 | , ,

Follow at Go Play NW: Rebels and Dragons and Truckers, Oh My!

Go Play oh glorious Go Play! How we miss thee! Yeah, it’s only been a few weeks, but around the country hearts are breaking because we are separated from our dear comrades in creative-arms. We weep, we sleep, and we weep again. I got to play some lovely sessions of Follow. I scheduled one for […]

Ben Robbins | August 9th, 2016 | , ,

The Blooded

Last weekend I had a chance to play Microscope for the first time with some of my gaming crew from way, way back. We’re talking veterans of Lorngard and my old AD&D campaign — that far back. We started our history with a pretty basic fantasy premise: magic was perilous, and a eldritch war had […]

Ben Robbins | August 7th, 2016 | ,

Boom, Stone Age

In Microscope, there’s always room in between, so long as it doesn’t contradict the history you’ve established. But how much room? Again, as much as makes sense. There was a suggestion on twitter about marking cards to show how much time passed between each Period. The problem is, our understanding of the history improves as […]

Ben Robbins | August 6th, 2016 | , | 3 comments

“I have never been so proud of her…”

I was on my way to make a surprise appearance on Strix’s Weekly Affirmations show on HyperRPG when it occurred to me that in the seven years I’ve been playing Microscope, I had never recorded a session I played. Ever. So if you’ve been curious to see how I play and teach Microscope (with occasional […]

Ben Robbins | July 5th, 2016 | , , , | 2 comments

A Good Week (for Betrayal!)

Obviously the question of people working together (or not) is a pretty fundamental one which I think makes it great material for examination. As a game designer, that’s something that interests me: looking at core issues or social dynamics that we all deal with. Cooperation is a universal issue. Where it isn’t, it should be. […]

Ben Robbins | July 3rd, 2016 | , | 2 comments

Hackers & Homework

or, “You can take down the corrupt corporate hegemony after you finish cleaning your room!” I tried out some rules tweaks for Follow at our Story Games Seattle playtest meetup Monday. We agreed on a Heist but decided to make it a cyberpunk-hacky thing. Pretty normal so far, right? Except half the characters turned out […]

Ben Robbins | June 30th, 2016 | , ,

Hide In Your Own Body

Playtesting Eden again. Baruch has troubles. He accidentally broke Hosanna’s precious dagger so she paid him back by luring him into webs of biting spiders. But it didn’t end there and now she’s just terrorizing him. Baruch is afraid and asks turtle what to do. Turtle (slowly) pulls his head and legs into his shell. […]

Ben Robbins | June 2nd, 2016 | ,

Eye of the Kraken

One of the nice things about the quest templates in Follow is that they get everyone on the same page about the kind of task we’re performing, but they’re flexible enough that you can easily change the flavor or setting. Want to steal the plans to the Death Star? Whip out the Heist quest. By […]

Ben Robbins | May 25th, 2016 | , | 2 comments

The owl knows better

Playing a lovely game of Eden at Story Games Seattle. Narwhals and bunnies try to explain reproduction to the innocent humans. Narwhals are convinced it is essential to sing together and have a magnificent horn, or else it won’t work. Poor humans have no magnificent horn or lovely songs, so they are doomed to failure. […]

Ben Robbins | May 13th, 2016 | , ,

Flight of the Madamas

“We created the Citizen Kane of spaceship stories…” –Timothy Young Sometimes the excellent games sneak up on you. They disguise themselves with trenchcoats and fake moustaches and then, when you least expect it, they pounce! I played two games of Microscope Chronicle at PAX last year. The first was the story of a mechwarrior-style mercenary […]

Ben Robbins | July 29th, 2015 | , , , , ,

Lights, Camera, Downfall!

We got together to film Caroline’s new game, Downfall, so you can watch the action in living color. Was there drinking? There might have been some drinking. I’ve been playtesting Downfall over the last two years and I have to say, it rocks. It’s on Kickstarter right now so check it out!

Ben Robbins | July 23rd, 2015 | , ,

Summer Is Coming

The Story Games Seattle crew delivers some stunningly good Kingdom games. This time we played a Kingdom in the style of Toy Story, if Toy Story walked in on Lord of the Flies going to third base with Animal Farm. Playtime Is Over (Kingdom) Is there an award for darkest story featuring toys? Because if […]

Ben Robbins | May 17th, 2015 | , ,

Dark Side of the Moon

The Earth was lost. The tide of Communism had spread to every corner of the globe. But on the Moon the last patriots remained steadfast, raining down showers of city-crushing debris from their lunar bunkers. Vengeful, destructive, but ultimately futile. It was a last hurrah for the West, but too late to turn the tide. […]

Ben Robbins | February 17th, 2015 | , , ,

By This Ring I Swear

Great game of Microscope Chronicle at Story Games Seattle. Rulers swore oaths on it (and broke them). Friends spirited it away and swore more oaths on it (and broke them). Later it was the wedding ring binding two houses in marriage (guess how that turned out?). By This Ring I Swear Doomed bromances and loveless […]

Ben Robbins | February 10th, 2015 | , , , ,

Microscope After School

I met Dylan at PAX. He asked me about using Microscope with kids and I made him promise to tell me how it went. Good to his word, Dylan gave me a full report and then kindly agreed to let me share it: I work as a Programmer and sometimes assistant at a after school […]

Ben Robbins | December 17th, 2014 | , ,

“I asked the other 13 yr old what he liked best? Freedom.”

If you guessed that I simply could not get enough tales of kids playing Microscope, you would be right. Here are Ryan and his friend Duncan rocking the Anipocalypse while Ryan’s sister schemes and watches… Having trouble visualizing Aquacology, the underwater city-state that the dolphins ultimately wipe out? No problem. Ryan has you covered: And […]

Ben Robbins | November 11th, 2014 | , , ,

Actual Play Roundup: The 53rd Focus

Tons of great Microscope game reports recently. I can’t even keep up. Here’s just a handful: “I’m involved in a months-long, remote-play, 2-person Microscope game (in its 53rd Focus).” Shadow of the Titan: Campaign Creation for 13th Age Parallel Lives Podcast: “The masses rejoice as the World Spell is completed” Invasions: Earth! A Microscope Supers […]

Ben Robbins | September 9th, 2014 | ,

For Neptune! For Freedom!

A blast from the past, because it’s awesome: “Yes, that’s interplanetary war. Can the ‘seidonians throw off the yoke of the invading Uranians, the cold war puppet satellite of the tyrannical Crimson Republic? Love, war and orbital death rays in the Outer Planets.” For Neptune! For Freedom! This is easily one of my favorite one-shot […]

Ben Robbins | August 19th, 2014 |

Actual Play Roundup: Unicorn vs Death (GPNW 2014)

Got to play two great games of Microscope Union at Go Play NW: Revolutionary Zero — Bringing down society as we know it. Let she who is without sin throw the first plague.? Oathbreaker — Magi, faerie courts and unicorns (well, one unicorn) fighting Death for the soul of a mortal.? Pat, Feiya and Tim […]

Ben Robbins | July 5th, 2014 | , ,

“My Dad, he’s full of stars!”

First playtest of Microscope Union was beautiful and bittersweet: Nathan grew up on the farm. As a young man he sees strange lights in the sky, a sight that fills him with quiet wonder. Belle comes from the big city. She hates the country, hates working on the farm, but eventually she and Nathan fall […]

Ben Robbins | June 20th, 2014 | , , , , | 3 comments

“How Weirdly Powerless”

How weirdly powerless Power is. There’s a built-in irony, caused by these limitations, by not allowing a character both perspective and power. And of course, that makes perfect real-world sense, doesn’t it? When you take power, you become something set apart from your peers, and can’t claim to properly represent them. You have, in fact, […]

Ben Robbins | February 11th, 2014 | ,

Actual Play Roundup: A Beetle Pushing the Sun

A few of the latest and greatest Kingdom games from around the world. Are they playing Kingdom in Korea? The answer is yes. Plains Tribes — “Originally I was a little bit worried about how the tribal roleplaying would turn out, whether it would descend into a stereotype-fest a la every Hollywood movie with Indians […]

Ben Robbins | February 5th, 2014 | , ,

The Temple Stands Empty

Playing A Thousand Years Under the Sun @ Story Games Seattle: The humble Temple of the Winds becomes of place serenity and wisdom, where the Gods speak to men. A thriving market grows around it, catering to the pilgrims and seekers who come from distant lands to visit it. In time, hawkers and charlatans in […]

Ben Robbins | December 13th, 2013 | ,