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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › Between Empires (Microscope)

Between Empires (Microscope)

sev (.
Seattle, WA
Post #: 27
Players: Pat, Rob, sev

Seed: A galactic empire falls, and another rises in its place. Because apparently we needed a little break from the rise and fall of a single empire. Two is better than one, right?

Yes: cloning (we cross-pollinated with the next table over, I think), FTL travel
No: non-human intelligences, energy weapons


1. The Ghost Fleet. We got nearly all the way through the round before I felt like I understood *what* the ghost fleet was, which I found neat.

2. Legacies and Lineages of the Old Empire. Maybe we were destined to have a game about family as soon as the period "Rise of the Merchant Families" got placed during setup. But if not, this focus certainly cemented it. I believe this is *also* where we started flirting with bending the recommendation that we "beware immortality". Was Commander Nuri an obscenely long-lived military man, or was he just the scion of a whole branch of his family who'd dedicated themselves to the military? And if it was the same guy, how'd he go from a shining star to that total jerk? I don't think we ever answered but we did make it very clear there were questions. (well, maybe we decided that Nuri was transplanting his personality into a series of clones … or maybe his lifespan was artificially extended by a strange side-effect of his spaceship's drive … or … )

3. The Kulad Family. This was our favorite merchant family (okay, I think it's the only merchant family that got a name. But it was our favorite family of any kind). We just kept going back for further adventures of Kilo and Novi Kulad, watching them grow from plucky kids into canny politicians, eventually wheeling and dealing their way into their own ship, despite resistance from their arch-enemy Commander Nuri. There's a whole story untold about what great-great-granddad Kulad was fleeing when he set up his outpost on the Fringe.

4. Commerce and 5. Science! Well, we did have merchant families. And spurred by these last two foci, suddenly we had a gene trade, a much deeper explanation of cloning, a window into the invention of the FTL drive, and a whole age of guerrilla scientists.

Legacies: (I failed to keep track of which of these were replaced by others -- we had a couple of incidents of preferring each other's legacies when the time came to replace them, which I always find especially interesting.)

• The final Loyalist fleet/the Ghost Fleet
• Star death (there *were* stars winking out, in the end-age. Possibly due to the fancy spaceship drives.)
• Flight from the core (great-great-grandad-Kulad's flight, I think?)
• Merchant protection agreement (as negotiated by Noki and Kilo)
• The merchant fleet

I can't put my finger on why, but it felt like this game was less cohesive than other games of Microscope I've played. The story of Kilo & Noki's generation of the Kulad family was fun and interesting, but the rest of it hung off to either side a bit awkwardly. (or perhaps the game was fine but my error of insufficient supper that evening was interfering with my comprehension; it's kind of hard to tell from the inside.)

I think Pat tried to explain this to me while we were putting the palette together, but it appears I had to experience it for myself: I probably won't be putting FTL travel on the 'yes' list very often in the future. With travel-times all dilated down to less-than-a-lifetime, there's not much difference between the story we told and that of civilization spreading into the wild west. (Except that your horse doesn't significantly change your rate of aging, I guess.) Yet another example of how some of the things I find less-interesting in a novel get way more exciting in a game.

Thank you, Pat & Rob, for indulging my enthusiasm for spaceships!
Ben R.
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 257
Those last two Foci seem really broad, Sev. How'd they work out? Was that when the game got less cohesive?
sev (.
Seattle, WA
Post #: 28
more like, that's when it failed to get more cohesive, I think. Two really general foci in a row meant we weren't well-incented to fold anything back in (beyond the aforementioned obsession with those two merchant cousins). If we'd had time for a sixth round I was leaning toward focusing on a single city in hopes of finding something to tie all those loose ends to.

lesson learned (again): specific is good.

(I do seem to learn this over and over. Maybe this time it'll stick!)
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