%% date:: [[2023-12-26]] parent:: %% # [[Microscope (RPG) rules cheat sheet]] ## Prepping for a new game ### Step 1: Craft an overview. Collaboratively decide on a one-sentence/phrase summary of the type of game you want to play, including the genre. Prompts: - *Three nations are united as a single empire* - What kind of nations are they? Feudal kingdoms, primitive tribes, modern superpowers, stellar clusters, or colonies on an alien world? - Do the people of these nations share the same culture? Are they even the same race? - *Refugees carve out a new life in a distant land* - *A new force changes society, wiping away the old values* Ask and minimally answer some questions about the summary, and then rephrase it for clarity. ### Step 2: Bookend history. Create two periods (large chunks of time of decades or centuries each), a start and an end: - Agree on a short description for each period (a few sentences to a paragraph). - Decide whether each period is "light" (add an empty circle to its card) or "dark" (add a filled circle). ### Step 3: (Palette) Add or ban ingredients. Create two columns, "Yes" and "No", and take turns filling them out (if you want to): - Put something in "Yes" if you think others wouldn't expect it to be in the game but you'd like to include it. - Put something in "No" if you think others *would* expect it to be in the game, but you'd like to exclude it. Everyone should agree. This is the last time you're going to be actually building something by consensus. ### Step 4. Do the first pass. In turn order, create either a period or an event. - Add periods within the bookend periods, and determine whether they are light or dark. - Add an event under a specific period (above or below other events already there, if any), and say if its tone is light or dark. ## Playing the game Take turns being the *Lens*, the active player, and usually the one that's teaching the others. Play then proceeds to the left. On each turn, each Lens does the following: - *[[Microscope (RPG) rules cheat sheet#Declaring the focus|Declare the focus]]* (part of history you're exploring now). - *[[Microscope (RPG) rules cheat sheet#Making history|Make history]]* (create a period, event, or scene related to the focus), starting with the Lens. The Lens alone can add two things on their turn (nested inside each other). Go around the table doing this. - *Lens finishes the Focus.* The Lens goes again after everyone has gone, and adds another period, event, or scene (or two nested things) - *Choose a new [[Microscope (RPG) rules cheat sheet#Legacies|Legacy]].* The player to the right of the Lens chooses something to make a legacy (elements to explore later). - *Explore a legacy.* The same player creates an event or scene that relates to one of the legacies in play. - *New Lens.* The person to the left of the lens becomes the new Lens, and the whole process starts again. ### Declaring the focus A focus is a unifying theme that ties the story together, at least until the next Lens picks a new one. It can be: - a person - a place - a thing - an institution - an event - a period - a concept It can be something that's already in play, or something that the Lens makes up on the spot. Examples: - "The new Focus is going to be the ‘sinking of the Gabriel Dora.’ It’s a luxury liner that goes down mysteriously, so first I’m making a new Event where the ship sinks in the North Atlantic, with no known survivors…" - The old Focus was President Galveston, patriarch of the Lone Star Republic. During play we found out he died in office, eaten away by illness. The new Lens wants to explore that, so she makes the new Focus 'the last days of Galveston’s presidency'. ### Making history You can create one (two nested ones if you're the Lens) of the following: - A *[[Microscope (RPG) rules cheat sheet#Making Periods|Period]]*: big picture, broad sweep of history - An *Event*: specific incidents within a Period - A *Scene*: what happens moment-by-moment within an Event - You can also choose to [[Microscope (RPG) rules cheat sheet#Playing Scenes|play a Scene]] instead. The only limits to any of these are: - Don't contradict anything that's been said. - Add something that relates to the current Focus. - Don't use anything from the No column of the Palette. - Only the current player gets to contribute. Others can ask for clarification as to how it relates to the Focus, but they should not make suggestions. - Paint a picture verbally, even if you only write down a small section of it on the card. - Declare the outcome. No cliffhangers! #### Making Periods - Decide when it is: Place it between two periods. - Describe the Period - Say whether it is light or dark. #### Making Events - Decide when it is: Place it within an existing Period. - Describe the Event. - Say whether it is light or dark. Event cards should be oriented in landscape, rather than portrait, mode. Each Event can have multiple Scenes inside it. #### Making Scenes - *State the question* (something you want to find out about the history). The goal of the Scene is to answer that question. (Ex: "Why did the king betray his country?") - You can also optionally choose to dictate the Scene instead, if you want to answer the question yourself instead of letting others do it. - *Set the stage*. - When does the Scene happen? - Review established facts. - Where does it take place? Why? What just happened? What's next? - *Choose characters.* (go in turn order) - The person making the Scene can require/ban one or two characters each. (You can even ban seemingly essential characters, or groups of characters.) - Each person, starting from the person to the right of the Scene creator, picks a character and describes them. - Players can choose to pick minor characters that stay in the background of the Scene, but they should let everyone know that. - Players can also choose Time as a character, which can be forces or factions that push the situation to some conclusion and add pressure. - *Reveal thoughts.* (go in turn order) - Don't reveal thoughts that answer the Scene question yet. Then you can [[Microscope (RPG) rules cheat sheet#Playing Scenes|play the Scene]]. #### Playing Scenes During a Scene, everyone should be trying to answer the Scene question. The Scene ends when the players know the answer to the question. Roleplay the Scene as the characters you've chosen. - Shape the world by describing your character perceiving it. - You can say what your character is thinking as a way to establish a fact without stating it out loud. - Secondary characters can be played by anyone. - Players can Push to challenge something someone has said. - Let players decide what happens to their characters. At the end of the Scene (when the question has been answered), everyone must decide whether it was light or dark in tone. ##### Pushing Pushing means proposing a change to something someone just said. - Proposal: State your alternative simply and concisely. - Ask for alternative proposals: See if others want to add proposals too. - Vote: Everyone votes on what they want to have happen. - Determine the winner. - Play the results. A Push can be: - an alternative to something someone just said - a suggestion for someone else's character to perceive something - something none of the characters can see - a suggestion that one of the characters already knew something that was just revealed all along #### Dictating Scenes Instead of [[Microscope (RPG) rules cheat sheet#Playing Scenes|playing a Scene]], you can instead dictate a Scene: - State the question. - Decide where to put the Scene in history and review what we know. - Narrate what happens to answer that question. - All players decide whether the dictated Scene is light or dark in tone. When dictating a Scene, there is no roleplay, and it must be short and to the point. ### Legacies A legacy is a common thread that stretches through time and influences history. It can be: - an object - a person - a place - a bloodline - an organisation - a philosophical ideal Legacies are not restricted by the current Focus, so you can explore something broader that interests you. A Legacy is chosen by the person to the right of the Lens. *It has to be something that appeared in play this round.* A Legacy card is created, and it's folded so that it stands up. There can only be as many Legacies as there are players. Players can choose to keep an existing Legacy instead of creating their own. The same player that chose the Legacy makes an Event or dictated Scene about it (not a Period or played Scene). ## Ending the game There's no defined end to a game of Microscope. End when you want to, but it's recommended to discuss at the start of a round (before the Lens creates a Focus) that it's going to be the last, so that everyone collaborates on a satisfying conclusion.