Microscope is a game in which two to six players make history—literally, literarily, and fictionally. You start with a big picture, chosen by the group.

An ancient empire rises and falls

Then you pick two historical periods to book end your history. In this case, you might pick

The Invasion of the Toad Snatchers

as your starting period, the Toad Snatchers being the folk who will found the empire, and

The Beginning of the Dark Age

as your ending period, the Dark Age coming because the empire has fallen.

You pick a palette of things that should and should not appear in your fictional world:

  • Do include magic
  • Don’t include technology
  • Do include multiple races
  • Don’t include elves, dwarves, or dragons

And then you starting add period and events in those periods. Each player makes stuff up, on their turn; and the improvisational “Yes” rule applies. You can complain if they do something that contradicts the palette, or history that’s already been made; you can’t complain because the other player has made history that doesn’t fit with what you were planning.

It can be a lot of fun with the right group of people.

Last December four of us experimented with playing Microscope on-line. We had a brief Zoom meeting to kick things off; then we played on Discord, and I kept the records about the history we created. We didn’t get nearly as far as I would have liked; but even as far as we got it’s an interesting setting.

If it sounds like fun, you can find the details of how to play Microscope at the Microscope home page.

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