Last night was another great Microscope game session. We played a variant called Micro-Microscope (perhaps we should call it Nanoscope) where we focus pretty tightly on a subject, characters and events.
The players: Terry, Jerome, Dion.
The seed: A Murder Investigation.
Jerome mentioned at the end of this game that it was a lot like a Shock game, we dealt with issues of gender and how they relate to social roles in a hard-core sci-fi context.
This was Dion's first Microscope game, I was expecting a low key murder investigation, but right off the bat we went to unexpected and interesting places because of Dion's exuberance.
At first we didn't know much about the victim, just that the murder was a light event. So that means that the person that got killed wasn't missed.
As we laid down cards, we discovered a strange world of four genders, each with very strong roles in society. A gender was earned as opposed to being born one. Genders were also re-assignable. And finally the fourth gender was a terminal situation - the Breeder makes the ultimate sacrifice by bearing the young and dying in the birthing process. The Breeder also may not be the genetic parent of those children.
We also discover that this society, over time, had developed stronger gender roles and thus had become static and unchanging. Each gender having a strong interest in the status quo. The alphas were the deciders, the betas the actuators, the pre-assigned tools for alphas and betas, and the breeders the doomed free-thinkers.
Breeders because of their condition are able to step outside of the conditions of their gender. For a certain amount of time, they are to able think without constraint of role. This traditional role of the free thinker has become less tolerated over time.
First we focused on the investigation team. They are a task force made of pre-assigned members of the society. Pre-assigned have no status in society, but they are able to think more independently unlike alphas and betas. So it is up to them to discover the murderer. During the focus we find out how they are treated, how difficult it is for them to get information and so on. We find out that there is a conspiracy to hide the facts.
Then we focus on the victim, we learn more about this person, that it was a free thinker, and that it promoted freedom for alphas, in this world the linch pin that constrains their world. We learn that alphas are bound to their role and though they may seem like the rules they are also bound to their role. We found out that murder of a breeder is a crime not only because of theft of personhood but it was also a precedent, that may become a pattern, that of killing the future generation.
Then we focused on the breeding protocol - this where we found out more and more about our four way gender society. We found that gender doesn't equal sex. The alphas and betas were not necessarily male or female. We deepened our understanding of the society we were building. We discover that things haven't always been like this - that gender roles over time have been sharpened and honed.
At last we focused on the murderer. In this focus we discover the cause of the sharpening of gender roles, a worm that enhances the breeders, causing them to make more babies, but also the alphas and the betas making them more sexualized. This created a society of unequals where the few capable of breeding had many children, more then they could sustain. We discover that our society had fallen into a pattern, that at first was fair, but then seems like it help serve the top level alphas and betas. The top level Synod (the collection of departmental officials) now controlled who would get a gender, who would become a breeder, and who could have children. We see a world of excess stuck in its way and the victim and other freethinkers had realized that this was happening - but were cut short before they could act on it.
In the end the magistrate that started the investigation as a show to appease the crowd, ended up being the one that killed the breeder to shut it up. The lead investigator and the magistrate face off in an ancient temple where the proof lies before everyone's eyes. The magistrate sets the building on fire, the lead investigator escapes with enough proof to convince people of what is happening.
As an epilogue (the legacy for the last focus), we see our lead investigator not using his new found knowledge to free society, but he gets his promised gender assignment and status quo is kept.
Edited by Terry Franguiadakis on Mar 30, 2012 12:55 PM