Storytelling Games: Microscope

Lowell doesn't dress up to run games anymore, unfortunately.

I’ve started tabletop playing again, although it’s via Google Hangouts rather than in person. My brother (whose excellent gaming and storytelling blog, Age of Ravens, you should check out) running a Changeling: The Lost campaign and it’s a great way to spend a little time with both him and my sister-in-law, along with meeting some new fellow players. I really love what he’s doing, which is using a system called Microscope in order to collaboratively generate the setting for the game, and it’s making me wonder about the possibilities of it for generating a shared world setting.

We went around the “table” first generating some high level concepts, such as vampires being very rare in this world, the existence of neon elementals, and some rule-specific stuff that kinda flew past my head, but which I’m understanding more as I keep going through the rules. The game’s set in Las Vegas, but successive rounds helped define the specifics of the world and some of the NPCs, like Wayne Newton: Werewolf Hunter or the Count, a bitter, twisted man who runs The Society for the Preservation of Vampires. Lowell’s blogged with more complete details here.

I really love this sort of session, because it’s so much fun to take someone else’s addition and riff on it. After the first round, the person starting each one had to come up with what’s called in Microscope terms a “lens,” something that each addition that round must reference. Ours were: guides, corruption, and alien abduction, and if you look at Lowell’s write-up, you may be able to trace where some of those items came from.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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