Sunday 22 April 2012

Rhialto the Microscope

Having finished reading Jack Vance's The Murthe, I moved on to "Fader's Waft", the next story in "Rhialto the Marvelous".  In it, Rhialto and his peers use magical means to travel through space and time.  This gave me an idea.

The Problem

One of the members of my gaming group told me that the game Microscope can be used in conjunction with other RPGs in the following manner:
  1. Players use Microscope is used to create a game world together
  2. The players then take turns DMing scenarios in the game world using DnD, Cyberpunk, etc.
This sounded like an interesting idea to me, except for the problem of overhead.  This arrangement would require that a new set of PCs be rolled-up each session, depending on the scenario being played that session.  This would eliminate a lot of actual "play time".  It would also require each DM to prepare for each session, which could be quite time-consuming.

The Solution

A partial solution could be achieved by adopting the premise of Fader's Waft's: that the PCs have a magical means of travel through time and space.  Each session, the PCs go off on an adventure in a different location while the current DM's character stays behind to "mind the Chrono-Vortex".  In short, a Dr. Who sort of arrangement.

The problem still remains of how to generate hugely divergent content for each game session on-the-fly.  I'd like to actually try this out to see how much of a issue that would be.  Maybe a skilled DM could provide enough detail without extensive preparation.

Or maybe this setup is just way too gonzo...


  1. Why use different systems to play in the world? Why not create a world with Microscope and then take turns playing with the same system? One of the most successful games that I have participated in used a similar model (though this was before Microscope, so we just made the world up piecemeal as our referee turns came up). We each had several characters, and every session was supposed to begin and end at the characters' house, so we called this a "house" game (I think we borrowed the term from other local gamers).

    If you're curious, you can read more about that game here:

  2. I guess the main issue is that Microscope allows you to create a large timeline. So one session you might want to play out an assassination attempt in the a quasi-medieval setting. The next game you might want to play the discovery of an alien civilization during interstellar travel.

    So you could choose a system and stick with it, and maybe that's the most practical approach. But it's certainly tempting to pick a game system for each session that 'fits' the scenario.

    1. That makes sense. I hadn't thought really about the multiple time periods angle. If it were me, I would probably use hacked D&D even for the sci-fi stuff, but I can see why others might want to use something else.