[Microscope] Can you play small scale stories with it?

edited May 2012 in Story Games
Hi there,

I had this idea. Microscope (I havent played it yet, hope I get to it soon) looks like it is made for
huge stories about realms, civilizations, mankind ... and this is all fine.

But I wonder if you could use the exact same rules to play out very small scale stories.
Lets make an example to see what I'm thinking off.

Big picture: After a long day Mr. Miller comes home and shoots his wife dead.
  • A very ordinary morning (Start)
  • Mr. Miller is at work.
    • A suspicious guy asks for him.
      • Scene: Did Mr. Miller know this guy?
  • Mr. Miller drives home.
    • The observation team reports, that they lost his trail.
  • The day ends and Mr. Millers wife is dead. (end)
I guess it could be a bit fiddly to choose periods in a way, that you can always fit another period in between. Also you have to keep an eye on not making periods that are more like events - i think. But right now thats the only trouble I can think off.

What do you think? Has anyone tried something like this yet?


  • edited May 2012
    Mike Sugarbaker's been saying since forever that he wants to play a Microscope game where the starting and ending periods are "they meet" and "they break up." I'd love to try it.

    The only pitfall I can foresee is that you have to pay much more attention to making sure everything hangs together and maintains continuity. When the characters in each era overlap, you lose the ability to tell distinct vignettes that are connected but separate: the Supreme High Chancellor and her Consort can appear in their own Period and never have to cross over with the Runelord and his brother in a later Period, so it's ok if the tone is different and the continuity is a bit tenuous. Playing the same characters across all "periods" brings a more intense need for consistency, I'm guessing.
  • I always though Microscope could do Citizen Kane. Think about it...

    the opening lays out Kane's life, and important events.

    Then the reporter talks to these individuals, who tell stories about Charles Foster Kane.

    I've been wanting to do that for awhile myself.
  • OOh, biopic reporting and journalistic interviews are a GREAT conceit to justify Microscope's procedures!
  • The clever folks at Story Games Seattle have been pushing the boundaries of "short form" Microscope:

    An Unwanted Investigation


    A day in the life of Alphred

    "Day in the life of Alphred" is particularly freak-tastic, since the (possibly crazy) main character seems to be an unreliable witness to events around him. Different Scenes contradict each other, could not all have possibly happened, etc.

    And Citizen Kane is a perfect fit. Doing a single lifespan is easy-peasy.
  • Thanks Ben. That a good read. I am really looking forward to try it myself.

    And cool to see that your game is so robust.
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