Principles of Microscope
Microscope is built around ‘fractal world building’ - starting with a simple timeline and building an infinitely detailed history by adding simple details over and over again.
The timeline that you construct together does not have to be created in chronological order. For example, you can create a new Period about the Fall of Atlantis (a previously unmentioned city), then later go back in the timeline to discuss the creation and history of Atlantis.
Players don’t have to focus on the same points in the timeline, either. If Player A creates the magnificent King Arthur and Player B later has that character assassinated, Player A continues to discuss reign of King Arthur before he was assassinated while Player B simultaneously describes the chaos and civil wars that followed King Arthur’s assassination.
In Microscope, each player has equal power and there are three actions that each player can take:
Creating a new Period, reflecting a broad category of the timeline (i.e. Reign of the Tudors, The Cold War, The Civil Rights Movement, etc).
Creating a new Event inside a Period, reflecting a specific event that occurred within that Period (Coronation of Henry VIII, Assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Invasion of the Normandy Beaches, etc.)
Creating a new Scene inside an Event, using characters’ experiences to showcase the world around them (a panicking German lieutenant shows how the Normandy invasion caught the Germans off-guard, a whispered conspiracy between bishops shows the church’s opinion of Henry VIII, etc).
Guide to Playing Microscope
Make your ideas clear and complete
Zoom in - make people and name things
No collaboration (don’t add your ideas in someone else’s turn)
No setting surprises after the Palette
Talk about your idea before you write
Always explain Light & Dark
Enforce the rules
Don’t Know What to Make?
Pick something from recent turns and ask yourself which parts of its story haven’t been fully described yet.
Birth: The creation, origin or starting point
Victory: A moment of triumph, even if we know they fail later
Failure: A moment of defeat or doubt, even if we know they succeed later
End: Their death or destruction
Make the part that hasn’t been made yet. Want more options? Try these:
Foreshadow: The situation that leads to their origin
Fulfillment: The moment when they become the thing that we know them as (the king is crowned, the city becomes a metropolis, etc).
Legacy: Memories or repercussions of them after they are gone.
Order of Play (4 Players, A to D)
Within each turn cycle, Player A chooses a Focus - the topic of conversation that each player will be discussing until the end of that turn cycle. Player A is allowed to create two cards within each other (Period-Event or Event-Scene) to kick-start the Focus, as well as another pair of cards inside each other to round off the Focus.
The turn order within each Focus is as follows: AA (X-1) - B (X-2) - C (X-3) - D (X-4) - AA (X-5)
Afterwards, Player D may choose to update their Legacy - something that happened within that Focus which they’d like to continue writing about, regardless of the current Focus. Once they’ve chosen whether or not to update their Legacy, they always places a card corresponding to one of any players’ current Legacies (X-6).
Then everyone passes around their position in the turn cycle (Player A becomes Player B, etc) and the new Player A creates a new Focus.
Thirdly, label the card with the Focus in which it was placed and the turn within the Focus (i.e. 1-4 or 2-3). This makes it easier to search for cards placed during a particular Focus, as well as allowing you to read the timeline in the order that it was created (by searching for 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, etc).
Finally, end your card with the tone using a dash, then the tone in italics (e.g. - *Light*). This defines the overall mood of the Period, Event or Scene that you created - explain your reasons for choosing that to the group.
Big Picture for Our Microscope
Who watches the watchmen..? The existence of superhumans disrupts society forever.
- Superhumans are worshiped in some regions of the world and treated as witches/devil-worshipers in other regions.
- Superhumans are rare and powerful.
- Bloodline of superhumans that can be diluted, but only gets awoken through a trigger event.
- Superhumans can ‘will their powers,’ voluntarily killing themselves to grant their full powers to another individual (inside or outside the bloodline). That person then carries on the bloodline as though they always had that power.
- The decline of superhuman warlords controlling mankind
- Freedom fighters
- Skilled non-supers
- Power and control are inversely proportional
- Extended lifespans
Open this card to view the timeline
(0-0) A New Bloodline is Born - Dark
#Amy (6-6) A woman attempts to will her power to her stillborn child,
Tantalus Swain, in order to save his life - Tantalus is born as an orphan with the full power of the new Revenant bloodline - Dark
#Amy (0-1) The ancient
Phoenix Bloodline begins conducting wholesale slaughters to eliminate any villages that may carry the new bloodline - Dark
#Ben (2-1) The search for a lost Tribe - Light
#Ben (2-1) In all history books it has been said there is a lost tribe in these
central highlands, many search parties have tried and failed to find them, However this has changed with with an expedition lead by General Malzahar of the Xolas clan - Light
#Ryan (2-2) The
Xolas clan attempt to keep the emergence of the lost tribe ( Akarui) under wraps, to utilise their power for themselves - Light
#Nathan (2-3) Tensions rise between the tribe’s chieftain,
Yamamoto Wilson, and General Malzahar, when a small group of the Revenent clan, also looking for the Akurui, came into the tribe’s village and was executed by members of the Xolas clan - Dark
#Ben (3-6) The
Akurui infiltration of the clans - Dark
#Ben (4-3) Brother
Desmond Zhao of the Akarui northern temple has finally been gifted the ability to roam the lands and join another clan, after completing his training .
#Ryan (3-1) The
Phoenix Clan Ready for War - Dark
Annalise defeats all other potential successors for the throne in single combat, as per Phoenix clan tradition, and displays the bodies of her executed rivals in her new throne room - Dark
#Nathan (3-2) Under
Annalise‘s rule, the Phoenix clan become more militaristic, constructing fortified settlements along their borders and continuously raiding nearby settlements, raising concerns from the neighboring clans - Dark
#Amy (3-3) When assassins from the
Revenant clan successfully deal a fatal blow to Phoenix Queen Annalise, she wills her full power to the three-year old daughter of the Revenant clan leader, resulting in the entire Revenant compound being leveled from the inside-out in a colossal explosion of plasma as the child is unable to contain the Phoenix Queen’s might - Dark
#Amy (4-2) Why do the Revenant clan attempt to assassinate the Phoenix Queen? - Dark
#Ryan (3-5) The explosion from
Annalise‘s death throes splits the earth apart, vibrations causing a nearby volcano to erupt violently - Dark
#Ryan (3-5) What happened in the wake of the eruption? - Dark
A large portion of the island became desolate and barren as the smoke and ash choked the lands of the
#Ryan (0-2) Conflict between the Bloodlines becomes fierce - Dark
#Nathan (0-4) The
Phoenix Clan and the Revenant Bloodline begin skirmishes in attempts to assert dominance in settlements they both have a foothold in. the first conflict resulted in a decisive victory for the Revenant - Light
#Ben (1-2) The
Xolas Clan refuses to assimilate with the Phoenix clan in the southern states, and continues to dilute their blood with that of the (non-believers) - Light
#Nathan (4-1) In wake of
Queen Annalise‘s untimely demise, General Xin Zhao declares himself regent of the Phoenix Clan and begins plans for a bloody campaign against the remnants of the Revenent clan - Dark
#Nathan (4-1) How did Xin Zhao successfully become regent in the first place? - Dark
Following the death of
#Ryan (1-3) The head of the
Phoenix clan brings it’s full wrath down upon the Xolas, using them as an example to all who would defy their rule - Dark
#Amy (1-5) Several survivors of the
Revenant clan infiltrate the Phoenix clan fortress in a suicide bombing attack, eliminating huge swathes of Phoenix clan members and permanently reducing their available magical power - Light
#Amy (1-5) How did they gain access to the compound? - Dark
#Ben (0-3) The
Revenant Bloodline Goes in Hiding - Dark
#Amy (1-1) The ruling caste of the
Phoenix bloodline consolidate their rule into the Zhao Siblings, willing the power of a dozen parents and grandparents into four tyrannical siblings - Dark
#Amy (1-1) Why were these four children selected to carry the power of several generations? - Light
After the atrocities committed by the
Xin Zhao leads the Zhao Siblings in a charge upon the Revenant clan, pushing them to the brink of extinction. Upon his dying breath, he transfers his power into one of his sons, Ryouko Zhao, who proceeds to lead his forces - Dark
#Nathan (4-5) What led to Xin Zhao’s violent outburst against the Revenent clan? - Dark
#Ben (2-5) With the Knowledge of the
Akurui tribes location now public, the Phoenix clan are now hunting them, to use thir powers, through the use of their powers of deception and stealth, effectively hiding themselves from other exploration parties - Dark
#Ben (2-5) How do the Akurui survive the ruthless searches from the Phoenix clan? - Light
Through years of keeping their blood line clean, the
#Ryan (4-6) A mob of unpowered citizens - led by the
Daughters of Deliquesce, the three children of Annalise - swarm and capture Akarui tribe members and force them to transfer power - Light
#Nathan (1-4) Civil War within the phoenix bloodline, two new sub-bloodlines form (a nation divided)- Dark
#Amy (5-1) The Sunborn Shogun of the
Phoenix Clan, Solaire Zhao, declares that the bloodline will be scourged of the descendants of the traitor queen Annalise - Dark
#Amy (5-1) What motivated Solaire to conduct a scourge of the bloodline? - Light
After the ancestors of the
#Nathan (1-6) The bloodline declaring itself as the true phoenix clan (
Sunborn) begins raiding settlements under the rule of the new splinter bloodline (known as the Crimson Dawn) - Dark
#Ryan (5-3) The
Daughters of Deliquesce, who flowed power into one singular daughter, Sophya the Flaring Feather, proceeds to defy the rule of Solaire Zhao, openly branding him a lunatic and charlatan. Her forces move to join up with the Crimson Dawn in their ‘Holy War’ against the Sunborn for disgracing her ancestor’s name - Light
#Nathan (5-4) In the battle of the
Wilsonian hills, the Crimson Dawn suffer a major defeat, with only Sophya barely escaping with her life - Dark
#Amy (2-6) The
Crimson Dawn chieftain adopts the family of the infamous rebel leader, Kotomine Wilson, after Wilson’s guerrilla fighters rescue a Crimson Dawn fortress from a Sunborn siege with a barrage of lighting and plasma - Light
#Amy (5-5) In traditional
Akarui fashion, Kotomine Wilson opens to the gates of the Crimson Dawn at night, breaking the drawn-out siege of the Crimson Dawn‘s last bastion - Dark
#Amy (5-5) How was Kotomine Wilson rewarded for the two-stage betrayal? - Light
#Nathan (5-6) After numerous attempts to break
Sophya into surrendering her power, the Revenant are ultimately unsuccessful, resulting in Sophya’s escape, amongst the chaos of a siege led by the Xolas in an attempt to take her power for themselves - Light
#Ben (6-1) The War For the south - Dark
Gherman Zhao constructs the fortress city Ho Chi Minh in the centre of the Southern plane and invites the Akarui civilians to migrate from the Ashen Wastes to their new homeland - Light
#Ben (6-1) the assimilation of the
Sunborn into the Xolas and the crimson Dawn into the Revenant caused huge border disputes between these once peaceful tribes with
The Revenant now laying siege to the Xolas captial of
Ho Chi Minh - Dark
#Ryan (6-2) After
Akarui sleeper agents within the Revenant lure the besieging forces into launching a sneak attack on Ho Chi Minh, Xolas warriors deal a catastrophic blow resulting in the loss of various key figures in the Revenant chain of command - Dark
Xolas forces pursue the retreating Revenent army, broken by their lack of leadership. The Revenent retreat to the Ecumene forest , resorting to guerrilla tactics to fend off the advancing Xolas - Dark
Ecumene Forest is raised by the retreating Revenant forces slowing the assault by the Xolas - Dark
(0-0) The Bloodlines are Diluted Across the General Public - Light
#Amy (2-4) A memorial is built in the
Central Highlands to commemorate the horrifying slaughters that occurred there and the heroes that lost their lives during the war - Light
Annalise, Flaring feather, Mother of the Phoenix clan and first born of her name, is worshiped worldwide as a religious idol and a martyr. her action during the war are said to have reduced the the numbers of people killed. - Light
Factions Phoenix Bloodline
Old clan (have previously assimilated many other clans and gained their power) that holds dominance initially
Later splinters into the Sunborn and the Crimson Dawn clans
Isolated clan in the southern regions that refuses to be assimilated by the Phoenix Bloodline
Isolated tribe of stubborn Australians, located in the highlands
Named Individuals Phoenix Bloodline Unified Clan General Xin Zhao(descendant of the Akarui; political bastard and chronic backstabber) Zhao Siblings(children of Xin Zhao) Ryoukou Zhao(Xin Zhao’s eldest son) Solaire Zhao(ancestor of Ryoukou Zhao - son/grandson/great-grandson, etc.)
Phoenix Queen Annalise(powerful conqueror) Daughters of Deliquesce(Annalise’s children)
Sunborn splinter clan
- None yet
Crimson Dawn splinter clan Kotomine Wilson(adopted)
Xolas Bloodline General Malzahar
Akarui Bloodline Yamamoto Wilson(chieftain during the first encounter) Desmond Zhao(Infiltrated the Phoenix clan; Xin Zhao’s ancestor) Kotomine Wilson(infamous rebel leader)
- None yet (these guys really need some screentime)
Ho Chi Minh
The Southern war (Ben, 6-X)
Elimination of figureheads by the Revenant (Nathan)
Tragedy of the Revant bloodline (Amy)
Annalise’s Fall from grace (Ben)
Daughters of Deliquesce (Ryan) (4-6)
Dominant bloodline slaughtering settlements with a dominant presence of opposing bloodlines (Nathan) (1-6)
Defiance of the Akarui clan (Amy) (2-6) (3-6)
Setting up Microscope initially (0-X)
Purification of the Bloodlines (Amy, 1-X)
The Central highlands (Ben, 2-X)
Annalise, Queen of Flaring Feathers (Ryan, 3-X)
Xin Zhao, rise and fall (Nathan, 4-X)
Civil war within the Phoenix Clan (Amy, 5-X)