Last night I had the pleasure of playing another game of Microscope. We were originally going to play a game of Microscope: Chronicle (and even started out that way) but our facilitator wasn’t sure about a few of the finer points of this version, so we audibled to good ol’ Microscope. There were 3 of us.
We started out wanting to tell the story of a Forum. We were thinking of retelling the story and changes of to a town square as this planet gets colonized by a more powerful imperialist space regime. After we laid our bookends, palette, and first pass, we kind of realized we really wanted to tell the story of the entire planet anyways and switched to original Microscope. This only required a rewrite of our Concept.
We were looking at some sort of tidally locked planet with dinosaur-like megafauna. We originally were going to go primitive culture, but instead went for the Sci-Fi approach. What we ended up with was basically Dune with Dinosaurs. Oh and outright War was off the table thanks to the palette.
Like almost every game of microscope I’ve ever played, the game doesn’t cohere together until about the second lens. This game was no exception as we all were on board with some serious social commentary.
You know what they say—History is written by the victors -- so without further ado…
We fade into a sterile futuristic classroom. A grizzled, uniformed professor stands before an auditorium shuffling some notes around, sipping some steamy beverage, and checking her watch. After a quick beep from her watch, the imperial classroom’s holoprojector lights up displaying an Earth sized planet with a bold label [TESSA] hanging above. The label stands as still and motionless as the tidally locked planet does.
The hololight from the planet display illuminates the vast ocean of expressionless students all neat, proper, and in monochromatic slate uniforms watching the Professor. “Attention class-- Today we will be talking about the planet Tessa and the history of her people. Now if you would please get out your holobooks and turn to page 336….”
Now I wish I could write up the entire fiction like a series of lectures post-facto, but the long and the short of the game was how the game came together and found it’s serious tone based on a single scene. The question being framed was “How did this space power station get destroyed?”
We were the bigwigs following up on the evidence from an imperial hall of justice far, far away from Tessa. It was here we learned that our land of space colony and dinosaurs harbored a very proud, oppressed people and were willing to do whatever it takes in the name of their religion and beliefs--- including suicide bombing. We ended with the revelation that the energy space station was destroyed by TIN (Tessan Independent Nationalist) suicide bombers.
It was very much a game of strong cultural identity and religious symbolism being rediscovered for this defeated people that figuratively and literally were the seeds of their own destruction. It became a tale of this Sisyphean pursuit of independence.
Our game was pretty brief, but also very hearty.
This game of Microscope went tall instead of wide. Following our tales of nationalism, we looked more into Imperialism and the dominance of the empire! What a great juxtaposition and I really wanted to thank the player who chose that as a focus. Brilliant!
It was during this time we examined a few case studies that mirror modern times. The imperialists have banned climate science, but the religious Tessans refuse to carry out Cease and Desist orders to the scientists because, supposedly, climatology is a big part of their religion! We had some Atticus Finch level defense speeches that ended up having the person on trial get acquitted! We also saw that following the destruction of the power plant, a massive crackdown on Tessan culture and the establishment of the Department of Freedom. How very 1984! Lastly we examined the economic might of the imperialists as they subsumed and monopolized the prosperous market of Dinobladders ensuring the vast majority of the wealth went back to the Imperium.
The very last thing we focused on was religion. We learned that the Tessans have a sort of Yggdrasil world tree that they revere and is a big part of their religion. We also learned that the desperate Tessans, currently broken into gangs and factions, united under a new Yggdrasil plant messiah. Too bad their desperation and need for religious answers blinded them to the real truth: This messiah was false and a weed which killed the old Yggdrasil!
Their culture, collective will, and religion slowly began to unescapably rot away.
I hide in a cubicle all day until the night time where I play RPGs and other games and stuff.