Here's the product summary:
What is Microscope?
Humanity spreads to the stars and forges a galactic civilization...
Fledgling nations arise from the ruins of the empire...
An ancient line of dragon-kings dies out as magic fades from the realm...
These are all examples of Microscope games. Want to explore an epic history of your own creation, hundreds or thousands of years long, all in an afternoon? That's Microscope.
You won't play the game in chronological order. You can defy the limits of time and space, jumping backward or forward to explore the parts of the history that interest you. Want to leap a thousand years into 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 in Microscope.
You have vast power to create... and to destroy. Build beautiful, tranquil jewels of civilization and then consume them with nuclear fire. Zoom out to watch the majestic tide of history wash across empires, then zoom in and explore the lives of the people who endured it.
Mock chronological order.
Defy time and space.
Build worlds and destroy them.
A role-playing game for two to four players. No GM. No prep.As a compulsive world-builder, I read that description (and a bunch of design posts at Ars Ludi) and immediately bought the PDF. Microscope seems to be a distant cousin to Greg Christopher's Statecraft, albeit one with a very different perception of time and space (and storytelling, for that matter). This is what I very much wanted Aria: The Canticle of the Monomyth to be.
Without going into a full-fledged review, I would like to say that I think game is very well done and has tremendous potential for some very interesting play. More importantly, it looks like it would be a great tool for developing a shared campaign world. My only experience with collaborative world-building thus far has been when Professor Pope and Cthulhu's Librarian and I tried to come up with something for the great WotC setting search (the one that ultimately yielded Eberron). If we had had this game back then, I think our proposal would have bene much stronger. It also might have yielded a setting that we would have used in play.
- It might be possible (and potentially awesome) to take this game and use a more traditional gaming system for individual scenes. A system that can support near-instantaneous character generation (Risus, Over the Edge, old school D&D, Old School Hack) is a great candidate for an alternate scene resolution mechanic, where the lens player becomes a temporary GM. Of course, it goes without saying that any rules system could be used to run games set in the world that is created using this game.
- Even without rounding up other players, the game provides an interesting framework for world design that could guide a solo world-builder (with or without the help of the Mythic GME).
- Though it is specifically warned against in the rules, this is the first game that had given me an inkling of how to run an Immortals game (i.e. a flashback-heavy game of Highlanders, vampires, and assorted demigods). I've been chewing on that idea for well over a decade.
- This game would be perfect for extrapolating alternate histories.
- It would cool to use Microscope for a game based on familial legacies. The relationships between the characters of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon immediately comes to mind.
- I can totally see using this to create the history of a very particular place over the ages...like a megadungeon! (See How to Host a Dungeon).