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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

Golden Rules

  • 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 contradictions

  • No setting surprises after the Palette

  • Talk about your idea before you write

  • Always explain Light & Dark

  • Enforce the rules

  • Listen charitably

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.

Formatting Guidelines

  • First, use # for Period headings, ## for event headings, ### for scene headings. This way exporting to html/markdown/etc makes for nice vertical reading. This needs to be followed by a space, otherwise the website will interpret the last # as part of a hashtag.

  • Secondly, label the card with your name using a hashtag (i.e. #Amy or #Ryan). This makes it easier to search for the cards that you added to the timeline using the search bar in the top-right.

  • 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.

Initial Setup

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
  • Wars
  • Genocide
  • Freedom fighters
  • Skilled non-supers
  • Power and control are inversely proportional


  • Invulnerability
  • Extended lifespans

In Game

Open this card to view the timeline

Our 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

#Ryan (3-1) 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

General Xin Zhao hired assassins from the Revenant clan to assassinate Annalise, exploiting their fear of the increasingly militant Phoenix clan under her rule.

#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 Revenant and Akarui clans, forcing them to adapt to survive.

#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 Phoenix Queen Annalise, the Phoenix clan became unstable, and was on the verge of collapse, old rivalries started to kindle between members and the possibility of civil war loomed. General Xin Zhao, with a reputation as a strong military and political leader, quickly gained support among the people, mainly through their anger against the revenent. His opposition either could not compete with his popularity or were silenced by other means, making him the only apparently suitable candidate for regent

#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

Xin Zhao betrayed the Phoenix Clan and secretly unlocked the gates for the assassins, as part of his plan to consolidate the clan’s power within his own family.

#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 Revenant bloodline during the war, the children of the infamous General Xin Zhao persuaded the clan that they had the experience and natural talent to carry the future of the clan on their shoulders.

#Ryan (4-4) 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

The Revenent clan takes the opportunity granted by Xin Zhao to attempt to overthrow the Phoenix bloodline, now weakened by the suicide bombings. Xin Zhao notices this betrayal of trust by the Revenent and meets the Revenent’s main fighting force head on, his four children supporting him.

#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 Akarui have extremely strong powers, with the elders of the village the only people to have mastered their powers, this allows them to deceive people into thinking there is noting more than a mountain in place of their village

#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 Akarui had consolidated their control over the Phoenix clan dynasty, Solaire deemed it time to eradicate Annalise‘s legacy for the devastation she caused to their homeland.

#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

Solaire Zhao promised to restore the common homelands of the Akarui people (now the Ashen Wastes) once the civil war had ended and they could spare resources to recover.

#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

#Amy (6-4) 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

#Nathan (6-3) 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

#Ben (6-5)The 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

#Ben (3-4) 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


  • 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

  • Revenant Bloodline

    • New clan

  • Xolas Bloodline

    • Isolated clan in the southern regions that refuses to be assimilated by the Phoenix Bloodline

  • Akarui 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)
  • Revenant Bloodline

    • None yet (these guys really need some screentime)


  • Central Highlands

  • Ashen Wastes

  • Ho Chi Minh

  • Ecumene Forest

Current Legacies

  • The Southern war (Ben, 6-X)

Current Focus:

  • 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)


Old Legacies:

  • Dominant bloodline slaughtering settlements with a dominant presence of opposing bloodlines (Nathan) (1-6)

  • Defiance of the Akarui clan (Amy) (2-6) (3-6)

Old Focuses:

  • 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)

CSS Coding

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