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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › Who Keeps the Aztecs Under Wraps? We Do (Microscope)

Who Keeps the Aztecs Under Wraps? We Do (Microscope)

Jasmine J.
Seattle, WA
Post #: 1
Two alternate titles: "You're wearing that?" or "The Chronicles of Cloudfeather"

Players: Jasmine, Will, Alex, and Marc.

This is my first time doing a write-up and was my first time playing Microscope, so here it goes!

The time span took us from the colonization of the New World all the way to a long nuclear winter and boy did we manage to fill the time well! The big picture was the rise and fall of a secret society. We allowed for an alternate history, pagan magic, and heavy influence of Aztec culture. We decided that nowhere in this world would there ever exist a democracy.

Droves of free-thinkers and other rogues from Europe fled to the Americas to live a life free of persecution, but the Aztecs had other plans. They sent their Sun Warriors, a fierce Jaguar God-worshipping army able to channel the power of blood sacrifice to morph into jaguar-like creatures, to dispatch these pale-faced invaders. What they hadn't bargained on was a small group of hedge witches and mages who had formed a secret society called. . . The Secret Society! As the last white settlement fell, Mary the witch managed to escape with a handful of other believers, clutching the Tome to her chest. After years of scavenging and eating squirrels, the Society members were found out by a small outlying village of Jaguar-worshipping Aztecs. Wanting peace between them, the Society and the Jaguar Clan found common ground in their belief of sacrifice (human/goat/spiritual). It was there that Friar Bartholomew, student of Mary the witch, first laid eyes on Cloudfeather, a Jaguar priestess acolyte. But their romance is for another story. . .

As the years wore on, the Aztec priest queens rose in power and soon expanded their rule from the tip of Chile to the arctic circle. But the Society had not forgotten. Through a complicated ritual involving lightning, blood, cat and eagle-morphing, and a decorative mirror, Friar Bartholomew and Cloudfeather's son, Daniel Feather Bartson, sacrificed his life in order to meld with the Jaguar God, forever corrupting the god in the name of the Secret Society.

Europe, noticing that the Aztec priest queens were indeed very powerful, started setting up intercontinental marriages. The wedding of Princess Jaguar Claw of America to Prince Alfonso of Italy was most of note. While the princess's father was a Jaguar worshipper, her mother was an Eagle worshipper, which led to a saucy tet-a-tet regarding ceremonial headdress (and unfortunately included the disintegration of a slave who was too slow with the tea). The marriage went on as planned, though we never specified which headdress, Jaguar or Eagle, she wore. In either case, it didn't turn out well for the married couple. Their daughter, Francesca Featherclaw, a spoiled heartless little thing, murdered her parents and became the Monarch of the Mediterranean Empire.

After a bitter civil war between the Jaguar (by this time known as the Featherclaw clan) and Eagle clans, the rest of the Aztecs grew sick of the squabbling and eventually exiled the Feathearclaws and the Eagle clans to China. (Big shoutout to Will for brilliantly placing this particular Period and Event. It really melded the whole story together, pretty damn perfect). Despite this set-back, the Society, still enmeshed in the Featherclaw Clan, fostered rapid technological development, leading eventually to China conquering Europe. Thus began an Age of Eugenics, where the Chinese government kept very close tabs on who was having children and how pure their Chinese blood was. As it happened, a prominent scientist Hsein-Cat opened a fertility clinic called Make It Yours, where parents (especially those with Society ties and Jaguar bloodlines) could get a free pass to have as many children as they wanted. Hsein-Cat was also a master of bribery and hoodwinkery.

Eventually Eurochina and the Americas went to war. The Society managed to install an agent as a Chinese high general. As a horrific firestorm rained down across the globe, the people were told that the Crane God and the Ocelot God were at war, sending down nuclear fire. (did I explain this right, fellow players?) The Tome managed to survive these many centuries and found itself in the bunker of an old Ocelot church. While the church and its cowering inhabitants were annihilated in the nuclear holocaust, miraculously the Tome, protected by the great many hexes, survived. During the long nuclear winter, survivors found the Tome and its teachings became the focus of a new, non-theist philosophy. Nearby, a small vial with pure Sun Warrior DNA was found and the first Aztec test tube baby was born.


I might have gone overboard with the description, but it was a pretty fascinating game! I think we as a group did a great job of balancing humor, but also respecting these people and what was important to them. We had some really fun scenes that seemed silly on the surface (like a mother and daughter arguing over what she’s wearing on her wedding day) that ended up having great resonance for the rest of the game. Anyone else want to add?
Ben R.
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 340
Nice! Marc was telling us how much fun you guys had. "Two words: Aztec everything."
Olympia, WA
Post #: 45
Excellent writeup. Thank you Jasmine!

I had a great time with this game. It's been a while since I played Microscope in the "rise and fall of a society" genre. I forgot how much fun it is to do so :)

One strategy that I tend to employ is to try and create very memorable characters. I feel that Microscope--for me--works best when I have a clear idea of who at least one person is in each scene. Scenes that open with four random characters are often a struggle for me to role-play, so I'll try to make my character very unique and interesting (if it seems appropriate to the story) so that we have fodder for later scenes. This is how Princess Francesca and Priestess Cloudfeather both emerged: I wanted someone we could latch onto.
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