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Topics - Jim Harbor

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Storytelling and Roleplaying / GS Microscope Thread
« on: July 22, 2016, 11:13:51 am »
What is microscope? Its a community rp game that may as well have been custom made for gs. Rather than mechanics or rolling, its a ga me built on collaborative world-building where every player is equal and you can do anything. Pulling a direct quote:

All of us participating in this game have equal creative power. At times we'll have different roles and authority, but we're all equal participants and authors.

To start a new game, we will follow the four steps outlined below to set some initial parameters:
Determine the big picture - a brief, one sentence overview of the history that we will create and experience.
Establish the bookends of history - the absolute start and absolute end of where we intend to explore
Define the palette of narrative ingredients: what should be in the game? What should be BANNED from the game?
Begin the first pass of Microscope!

With regards to SA for these rules

Explanation of Play

One we have finished the first four steps of setup, we'll be ready to start a proper session of play. Arriving at this point, we should already know more about our history than we did when we determined the big picture, and as we play we'll find out more and more.

The basic structure of the game is that we will keep going around in player order adding to the tableau of history, making either a Period, an Event, or a Scene. For each rotation, there will be one player called the LENS, and that player will pick the FOCUS that everything following players create must relate to.

Example: If the FOCUS is a city, each player (including the LENS) is going to get to add something that somehow relates to that specific city. It's a topic to keep us all on the same page.

If you make a Period or Event, just describe what happens as though we're seeing it from a bird's eye view. When it's your turn, you're in charge, and the rest of the players (and spectators!) will be eagerly waiting to see what you have to say.

Example: It is my turn, and the FOCUS is a specific city. I create a Period where the city is flourishing in an age of prosperity. However, the next player creates an Event within the new period I just made, which levels the city in a terrible calamity.

If you make a Scene, we all pick characters and play to find out what really happened during that moment of history. Scenes are special; they invite other players to come participate directly with you to answer a Question.

Example: On a player's turn, they raise a Scene that takes place during the aforementioned calamity. They pose a question to the group: "Was the calamity caused by people?" They then set the scene, and players act using characters to find out the answer to the Question.

Getting into the Microscope Mindset

History does not turn out the way a single person intended in Microscope; there will be things that people create that go nowhere, or events that nobody else likes. However, what other players add to the tableau of history may surprise you; likewise, your own additions will probably surprise them as well.

You may find that you do not have any ideas that seem particularly appealing, or end up fairly dry when it's your turn. This is fine; even though you may play something that you personally don't feel happy with, there is a good chance other players may see something in the idea and refine it through play that will ultimately validate your 'boring' idea.

Caveats about Microscope

You may find as a new player you have a lot of really great ideas and you can't wait to tell people about them. However, it's strongly encouraged to treat Microscope like poker - you want to keep your cool ideas close to your chest until you're ready to use them in actual play. If everybody else knows what you intend ahead of time, it takes out some of the mystique and maybe some of what makes the idea interesting in the first place.

Unlimited Power in Limited Context

Remember that when it's your turn, if you are playing an Event or Period, that is something you have complete control over. Nobody else can change that point of history, but they can ask for clarification. You also cannot ask for feedback from other players in any way - this is purely your creation. It may be shaped and informed from other player's work, or it may go in a new direction. Understanding your restrictions and working with maximum effect in that area is something new players will want to address and subsequently embrace.

Guidelines About Events and Periods

Try to avoid being vague. The gallery is allowed to ask for clarification when a player is describing something. This is not considered a veto; nobody is allowed to veto a creation unless it breaks the rules. However, it is important that everybody is able to clearly visualize what happens in the history, so people can build off of it later. If you're stuck, describe what someone would see from a bird's eye view of the action, like in a long panning shot or montage in a movie.
If you describe the start of a situation but not its conclusion, remember that this ties into the above - clearly define the conclusion.
Do not collaborate or make polls.
Do not allow other players to give you suggestions. Do not give other players suggestions.
When it is your turn, it's your turn, nobody else's. You make what you want to make with absolute authority.

Guidelines About Scenes

The primary purpose of a scene is to answer the Question posed when the scene has begun. As soon as the Question has been answered, play stops even if it is in the middle of action. If desired, the next person can use their turn to come up with a new Scene with a new Question that immediately follows the one that just ended.
In a five player environment sometimes it is more appropriate to have people pass on being in a scene, or to represent something in the background rather than a principal character. Someone can also choose to represent Time in the scene.
Limit things to your character's perspective, but reveal new details about the world through their eyes. Example: a guard may feel a tremor in the ground and think nothing of it, though this could be a moleman invasion preparing to attack. In this example, the player who represents the guard should only reveal the tremors and the guard's emotions surrounding it - they are unaware of a moleman attack.

To start a new game, we will follow the four steps outlined below to set some initial parameters:
>Determine the big picture - a brief, one sentence overview of the history that we will create and experience.
>Establish the bookends of history - the absolute start and absolute end of where we intend to explore
>Define the palette of narrative ingredients: what should be in the game? What should be BANNED from the game?
Begin the first pass of Microscope!

0.1 - The Big Picture

In any order, people can throw out ideas here that is one line. It should be a single sentence that summarizes what happens but leaves out all the details. It is okay to collaborate and find an idea that everybody is happy with. This will help to make sure you're on the same page about the kind of game everybody wants to play. Note, however, that this is one of the only times that it is okay to collaborate. Once we've settled on a big picture we can move on to the next step.

Some ideas I am throwing out

>The history of a world full of magic and many races and there factions and clashes

Something like Avatar, Tarkir, Westeros, Middle Earth, Narnia, Doom's Battleworld or the like with a bunch of different civilizations all bouncing off each others back , with Vampire barons in the North clashing with Goblin Khans

Or we could do an epic space opera tons of different alien races and cultures with a massive history

Perhaps zoom closer? The life and times of one nation or civilization as it shifts and turns through society?

Maybe a superhero universe, either original or based on other properties?

Or an epic myth tinged opera showing the trials and conflicts of the heroes and gods?

What about following the rise and fall of a legendary family? Or a reincarnating hero rising again and again to defend his realm?

A secret order running society from, behind the scenes? An epic cold war of spies and subterfuge? Humans endless conflict against monsters come to eliminate them? A realm were peopel collect monsters and robots and use them for competitions?

Really the possibilties are endless

Hope to have some fun with my long over due return to Gs roleplaying!


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