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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › Humans are Stories (Microscope)

Humans are Stories (Microscope)

A former member
Post #: 129
This was me (Brian), Sev, and Alex (for whom it was his second time palying, awesome job dude!) playing a spirited game of Microscope.

Big Picture; Before the dawn of time, mythical entities prepare the world for the coming of humans.

Yes; polytheism, tricksters, and reincarnation (a sort of way to skirt immortality).
No; humans, no recycled gods (couldn't use already established mythology), no post-inudstrial technology, no prime god (god of gods, or ruler).

**We really felt that the exclusion of mythology really forced us to create unbound characters and the exclusion of the prime god meant that any one god could be just as cool or 'in charge' as any other.**

<History, Part 1>
In the beginning there was nothing, then there was something. That something was known as Grows-Without-Limit; as its name implies, Grows-Without-Limit was everything that was and sought to always become more. For time immeasurable, Grows-Without-Limit did its thing until without warning, it split apart (the event eventually became known as the Great Schism), becoming fire, blood, water, and matter.

Fire was all consuming, it saw all around it that was different and wanted to make all in its image, water wanted to flow into every nook and cranny, into every place it could, blood was a shyer creature, but it saw itself in the other two; fire was energy, and water resembled itself. Water was drawn between being with blood and filling matter with itself, while fire was conflicted between consuming blood and consuming matter; both fire and water tended to stay away from each other as natural foils. Matter as the biggest remainder of Grows-Without-Limit only wanted everything to come back to be a part of it. Eventually the elements realized that they could each reach their goals if they worked together! Once back with matter, fire burned and destroyed, leaving cracks and caverns where water could flow while blood was drawn to the life of it all; the only question was, who would betray the rest in this complicated cycle?

In the blink of an eye, matter collapsed fire, water, and blood into the space of the head of a pin, subsequently exploding into space, creating the First Story (read as a proper noun)(the explanation of this transformation is that a story needs a medium to travel through (water), it also requires energy to be told (fire), and a good story always has heart (blood)). As the First Story escapes from the heart of matter, it expected an apology for matter's betrayal, yet received none.

**The next period is the peace of the storyteller, a light period. We didn't end up linking the above event with this part of the period, but I feel like making a quick explanation; something to know about the First Story is that it wasn't a physical entity, it was a story being told (without someone telling it), and the act of it being told created things. I think that the split between matter and the First Story telling things is what brought about the Peace of the Storyteller.**

While weaving its intricate tales of life, the First Story tells about Populace, thus creating it. Since Populace 'is', so is everyone else. When we had gods/entities made, their existence meant the existence of what they embodied While most of the audience are enraptured with the creation of the universe and the changes brought upon them by the First Story, Mischief (always the joker) annoys Mirth so much she flees crying from the story, angering the storyteller who abruptly stopped the story. Without the tale of creation, sadness descends upon the audience (Maybe this is somehow involving of Sad Frog?)

At least this is how it appears that the First Story ended; Mischief actually decided in a fit of whimsy to cut off two of his fingers and make children of his own. These children became two girls, Sleep and Dream. The sisters, borne of Mischief, took off to mess with the First Story. Introduced to daydreaming, the First Story just sort of stopped telling itself. At this point, the First Story did something marvelous; it chose to physically embody itself. Even more marvelous, this embodiment named itself Eldrei! Why did this matter? Until this point, no entity in the universe was properly named thus no entity was distinct against any other (physical attributes notwithstanding).

Upon naming herself, Eldrei learns of the one thing she never knew before; when matter betrayed its brethren and created the First Story, bits of blood flew off, escaping the transformation into the universe at large. As she learned this, Eldrei chose to search for the remainder of blood to fully encapsulate all that is. Before she left, Eldrei also told a story that had never been told before; a story about the past. Until now, the story only moved forward, always creating the things it told. A story about the past didn't change anything, it only explained what has happened. This first story about the past told the audience about Matter's betrayal and how it created the First Story. The audience is shocked, this story didn't cause them to change, it didn't make new things, it only explained things to them (We considered this dark since it was such a departure from reality until then)! In order to search for the lost blood, Eldrei forms the Wanderers, a group of creatures enamored by the first tale told by her and leave the focus of existence to do so.

Meanwhile, the plane of existence (which we considered as one earth-like object, not an entire universe) until now only was made up of the flat, featureless, rocky earth below, and the still, calm, clear air above, at least until the brothers Upsa and Downsa have their epic fight, creating the mountains and valleys (we settled more on a story that wasn't a fight in the next part). One day Upsa (who favored the light, cool air, and looked like a creature made of the clouds) and Downsa (who favored the rocky soil and earth beneath his feet, resembling an earth golem/titan) were walking along, good-naturedly arguing about which was better, earth or air when Downsa proposed a race between them. Upsa, always thinking, asked the question, "To where are we racing brother?" as he surveyed the infinite expanse before them. Downsa thought for a second, but being hard headed he took the opportunity to push Upsa to the ground and bolted off into the distance, feet pounding terrain with every lunging step. Recovering from the fall, Upsa up and rip ass tore off after Downsa.

Sensing a chance to make trouble, Mischief appeared before Upsa who demanded that he take action against his cheating brother. Meanwhile, Downsa, far ahead looked behind to blow a raspberry at his slower kin didn't notice Mischief's foot, stuck out directly in his path. With the speed and might of the earth, Downsa face planted, flying directly over the Sad Frog, who nobody had noticed til' then (poor Sad Frog)! in his flight to the ground, Downsa's foot brushed Sad Frog, forever cursing a part of him with sadness. As he hit the ground, Downsa's boulder flew off into the sky, much to Upsa's amusement as he strolled over to his earthly brother. Coming closer, Upsa picked up the poor creature who almost was crushed out of existence, also cursing his hand with sadness (we didn't get to explore the results of sadness in the brothers, but I think it would've been really cool!).
</History, Part 1>

A former member
Post #: 130
<History, Part 2>
As the brothers recovered from their competition, they looked around; the foot race they had left craters and depressions where Downsa stepped, and mountains and hills wherever Upsa stepped. The earth had finally become interesting, existence was no longer just a flat expanse.

Mischief, always with an eye on entertainment, saw Downsa's boulder fly further until it knocked Populace out of the sky! With a yelp of surprise, Populace (who resembled a being of liquid water) fell to the earth and hit with a resounding smack. While he formed back into himself, much of his body splashed all over creation; at first nothing happened, but then things began to happen. Moss appeared on the rocks, flowers sprung from the dirt, trees grew out of fertile soil, depths filled to become oceans, and surprisingly, the last of the drops became the rabbits (in this story, they are helpers or supernatural beings, and this also came after we established the rabbits, answering the question of how did they come into existence)!

While everybody at the scene watched in amazement as creation erupted around them, Downsa's boulder continued deep into the earth, bringing bits of Populace and Upsa with it where it travelled until they hit the Deep Thing, agitating it from sleep. All of existence, unaware of the Deep Thing, continued on, however the Deep Thing actually was the twisted shell of Mirth, still angered at Mischief for ruining the story! Mirth, originally of joy, happiness, and the love of life, now embodied all that opposed her former self; hatred, dislike, malice etc. Sensing a need on the surface above, Deep Thing awakened and ominously began to search for that need.

The next period was the Time of Looking Back, when the creatures of the earth realized that the world would change. We didn't link the two, but I propose the following; Mirth, by existing, allowed other creatures to be happy and prosperous, even if she become the Deep Thing, however once the Deep Thing awoke, its very existence meant that hatred and malice were released into the world, causing this pallor to come over the creatures of the world and forcing them to question was up until then, had always been.

The rabbits and creatures of earth at this point realize that they are a part of a story, however they don't know how it ends! To compound things, they have no idea where Eldrei is, so they can't even find her to have her tell them the story. Cast into a dark time, Mischief finally decided to act on a positive impulse and rouses the children of existence to action. I don't remember, but I think we said he helped them realize they could be the ones who wrote the ending to the story, which was super cool to the rabbits.

This led to the final period, the coming of the humans where we find the Youngest Rabbit; angered by the responsibility and work given to him by the other rabbits, finally breaks and runs off, shirking everything he was supposed to do. After a long period of travel, blindly into the wild, the Youngest Rabbit come upon the rock cavern of the humans. This we decided was where the knowledge and things that went into a human were to be recorded, so the youngest Rabbit decided to add the tale of the First Story (which by this point was a parable or a myth, not the actual way it went down) to the wall of human knowledge/experience.

We felt it was important, in a time of primal mythology to know what the Young Rabbit used to carve the tale into stone; not thinking in his anger, he grabbed a nearby bone from a pile of them, each petrified and turned to the hardest substance. Unfortunately, as the Youngest Rabbit came to his senses, in a fit of misguided youthful wisdom, chose to warn the humans against hate and division in the form of the story of the Great Schism (when Grows-Without-Limit divided). The problem with this (his biggest mistake was the question) was that until he wrote this down, the wall of human knowledge never knew of anger, malice, spite, etc! Recognizing that the completion of the story was bad, the Deep Thing arrives at the cave and is about to cast the Youngest Rabbit away from his words, blood realized that the Deep Thing was what it had been seeking (and the absence of the Deep Thing was what it was afraid of). Blood stops the Deep Thing and in their struggle over the Youngest Rabbit, they merge and fall onto the pile of bones.

For a second, nothing happened, then the bones began to form a skeleton and knit themselve together, followed by musculature, a nervous system, and finally, skin and features; thus the first human was born!

Small note, a neat thing that ran through the latter half of the game, was the fact that the First Story was made of fire, blood, and water. Mischief from earlier, representing chaos and uncertainity, was made of blood and fire (life and energy), and Mirth was water and fire (energy and nourishment (think bubbling water, how it's cheerful and stuff)). Since the Deep Thing was Mirth, blood wanted to combine with her (to once again become a story). Once we drew this connection, we realized that humans are thus stories as they're made of the same substance. Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty freakin' cool.

At the same time blood and the Deep Thing become one, the youngest Rabbit finishes the last punctuation on the human knowledge wall and the First Stories' story ends. There was some weird time hopping since we decided at two points that the same story ended. Go with it.

Thus the first human and the end of our game.
</History, Part 2>

Post Game:
We had 4 focii; The first story the storyteller told to her audience (sort of defining some characters), conflict between the creatures and gods (this allowed us to go all over time rather than one focused area (kudos Sev!)), the first schism (which let us do some neat things later (kudos Alex!), and in a fit of inspiration, the last focus was the First Stories' ending. I wanted to find a way to wrap up the game, so we used a focus that sort of made each player add their part of the ending to the game as a whole. It was unofficial, but we each helped wrap up the game. Consider this in the future as a way to end Microscope games, focus on how to end whatever part of the timeline your players want ended.

Sev also made a great point that helped our scenes alot; don't make a scene until you have a question in mind. Also, consider not knowing how that question is answered/don't assume the question proposer has an answer in mind.

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