players: Jerome, Dave, Morgan, Ben
We picked "secret societies influence civilization" from the history seed list. We thought about just doing a Medieval / Renaissance setting but in the end we decided to do the big sweep and go all the way from monks in cloisters to interstellar empires -- our secret society (the Order of the Raven) would be there all along, the invisible guiding hand across thousands of years. Bold for a one-shot game? Oh yeah.
Our two main focuses were 1) the embittered general, Athena Blackwing, architect of one the bloodiest slaughters in military history, a terrible victory that united the war-torn star systems… but at what cost? And 2) cyber-brains, the Order's struggle to escape mortality and turn their greatest minds into immortal artificial intelligences (which we know they do at the end of the history, because it's a bookend, even if centuries earlier they suppress and resist the dehumanizing technology).
As we played, a pretty complex relationship emerged between the Order of the Raven and their rivals, the Pendulum. Like most Microscope games, the more we added the more questions it opened up. Was the Pendulum an offshoot of the Order? We saw that across the centuries, descendants of the Blackwing bloodline (Aile-Noire in Medieval times) were prominent in both camps, so clearly they are closely intertwined.
As always in Microscope, none of this was planned: Jerome added "eugenics" to the Palette, I added "important bloodlines", Dave made up Athena Blackwing and made her the Focus, and during a scene Morgan asked why she was chosen to sign the peace treaty between the Order and the Pendulum controlled forces even though she was lower rank than others around her: mix it all together and suddenly we see that the Aile-Noire bloodline straddles the divide and runs through both societies, so she's an essential figurehead to heal the breach. And a valuable political pawn…
This is definitely the kind of history I could see digging into for multiple sessions. We only got a taste of Medieval intrigue. There's a ton more we could explore.