Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › The Blight (Microscope)

The Blight (Microscope)

sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
Post #: 29
Players: Anders, Ben, sev

Palette:
Yes: slavery, religion, genocide
No: nonhumans, magic/gods, post-industrial technology

Start: Blight ravages the old world
End: Former colonies now independent nations

Foci:
1) Abandonment of Florante

Florante was an early colony in the new world, whose residents decided to torch their town and walk out into the wilderness. We never did really establish why they did that, but we did explore the religious divisions that prevented them from attempting an alternative cooperative solution. Later settlers found a confession from a town elder that he *could* have reconciled with their neighbors and saved the town, but instead he pridefully insisted that Florente maintain religious autonomy.

2) Return journey of the Queen Beverly survivors

The Queen Beverly was a ship that participated in the mass migration to the new world, but it was blown off course and beached on a deserted landmass. The survivors wandered for a long time and eventually settled. Their town was named after Krosa, the woman who led them through the wilderness -- who was treacherously murdered by the very men who'd supported her leadership.

I found the tightly-spaced events in this period interesting -- the ship beaching, the survivors wandering, and then the survivors settling were all three different events.


3) Sarika Nesat, religious artist

We didn't end up looking at her actual life at *all* -- the earliest she shows up is the event, "Sarika Nesat dies a beggar." But after her death, undiscovered works are found, forgeries are made, and the woman is sainted which contributes to a general air of religious schism in that period. This, I believe, is a testament to the power of the Lens, since after creating Sarika I created a whole period that contained her posthumous sainting, and then punted on actually deciding when she lived.

Legacies: Zeny, of Florante (sev); Hidden colony of Krosa, from the Queen Beverly (Ben); Sarika's stash of previously-undiscovered work (Anders).

---

Ben observed I was having a "posthumously..." evening -- it's true, I find it especially yummy when the ramifications of somebody's life crosses into other periods. Poor Sarika and Zeny and Queen Beverly survivors, I just couldn't let them rest in peace. Even though I *could* have revisited their lifetimes for my events, instead I went and had people meddle with their legacies after they were long-dead.

We kept having scenes that made me go "Huh?" as they were framed, but then turned out to be much richer than I expected. That confession from Florante's elder? Came of a scene which asked the question, "what confession did Zeny leave behind?" and then we had a surprisingly *long* scene before someone actually just *read* the letter. Instead of starting with a general sense of what the letter said and then fleshing it out, because Microscope's scenes end when the question is answered, we all contributed details and then Anders had to stitch them together when the character he played finally read the damn thing (which Anders did with aplomb, Ben and I having dumped that responsibility in his lap).

Similarly, the scene just after the Queen Beverly beached asked "Will the survivors trust the captain to be their leader?" but then didn't have any civilians present -- it was the captain, his XO, and a lowly swabbie. But the difficulty of answering that question with that ensemble was exactly what made the XO such an interesting character -- one we returned to twice after that (once while wandering through the wilderness, and then he murdered Krosa so they could stop wandering.)

Yet another game of Microscope which left me wanting more -- there's all this chewy stuff we just didn't have time to look at. What's up with that secondary outbreak of blight in the new world, and how was it controlled? How *did* the old world react when it became clear that the Blight was going to forever change their land? What was the motivation for Florente to torch their own town? And did they survive? What was the religious postscript on Zeny's confession? What was the motivation of the artist who created the counterfeit Sarika Nesat paintings?

And looking at the palette, it appears that all the religion and murder was so fun we never got around to exploring slavery or genocide. (incidentally, this was the second game of Microscope I've played at Gamma Ray this winter with 'genocide' on the Yes side.)
Anders
user 8278228
Seattle, WA
Post #: 1
Great writeup, sev! it's pretty cool to see the history presented a coherent format. At the beginning of the game, I was naturally most interested in the 'what' of the bookends — specifically, the composition & effects of the blight in the old world, and any presumed genocide(s) during the founding of the new. I'm guessing it's a testament to game design that it wasn't until a good while after the session that I remembered that I'd initially been most enthusiastic about genocidal underpinnings, and really wanted to know more what happened there. I'm not sure how the game system would support it, but I'd be really interested in somehow exploring different ideological perspectives on the history — making two different foci aimed at different things somehow associated w/ the church schism, say, and make different sides of the conflict sympathetic in different tellings. Or maybe even better, make different sides unsympathetic.

As a completely new player, it was interesting that both you & Ben seemed to find the role-playing scenes the most fun, where I found them a little stressful & difficult. Not that I didn't (mostly) enjoy those segments a whole lot ... I just found them demanding, where the event creation felt like an easier sort of uncomplicated fun. I suspect that a lot of this response has to do with experience, and if I get more comfortable with the role-play segments, the parts I enjoy the most could switch places. I think a lot of what got me stuck was that in many scenes, the characters motivations were revealed over the course of the scenes, rather than being known beforehand as impetus for the scenes, which was initially pretty unintuitive. By the end of the game I had a somewhat better idea how those portions worked, and was less worried about doing it 'wrong'; I expect future tries will be at least a little smoother.
sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
Post #: 30
As a completely new player, it was interesting that both you & Ben seemed to find the role-playing scenes the most fun, where I found them a little stressful & difficult. Not that I didn't (mostly) enjoy those segments a whole lot ... I just found them demanding, where the event creation felt like an easier sort of uncomplicated fun.

I recall Ben saying something enthusiastic and positive about the role of scenes in the game, but ... if I recall correctly, I framed *no* scenes. (I'd been planning on framing one, but by the time it was time to do so it was past ten, and I was tired enough that I didn't want to anymore.) I wouldn't say that the scenes are the most-fun for me. They're important, and they're one of the places where synergy leads strongly to unexpected outcomes, and for that I value them. But if I were to pick a favorite out of period/event/scene, for me it'd be Events -- because that's where you can see long-term ramifications, which is something I've always treasured getting to do, but got to do so much more rarely in traditional RPGs.
Anders
user 8278228
Seattle, WA
Post #: 2
Ah, my mistake then. The Scenes are definitely more demanding, and I can definitely envision instances where the higher demand results in a well enacted scene feeling more rewarding; at the same time, if we'd skipped one of the longer Scenes, there might have been time to create a half dozen (or more) Events, which is a trade I'd happily make.
Jered
user 12062613
Seattle, WA
Post #: 7
Sounds like an awesome game! I when you become so involved in the world-creation process that you're left with unanswered questions that you hadn't even considered before.

Regarding scenes, in Microscope I like to do dictated or narrated scenes when I have a fairly specific idea of where I'd like the scene to end up. But roleplayed scenes are fantastic because you literally never know where it might end up. When it organically unfolds into something nobody expected, driven by independent ideas that build and enhance each other, and that no one person could possibly have come up with - that's when you get the shivers.
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