Idols Under a Microscope

Tonight we played Microscope by Ben Robbins and pulled from the lurking darkness oracle to find our premise: the spread of primitive artifacts conceal graven images. Our world was magical rather than technological, flat but two-sided, and characterized by levity more than madness. Our timeline began with the archeological dig at which the artifacts were uncovered and continued until humanity embraced their darkest desires. We focused first on Love, then the love idol itself, then the Flip Side of our flat world, then humanity’s darkest desires, and finally humanity’s noblest ideals. Here is the history we created.

Gaming table showing index cards laid out in a tableau and the Microscope quick guide.

At the archeological dig, one idol uncovered was an idol of love that no one had expected. Later, two workers at the site, Jamie and Alex, met and found love while vying for a spoon. Their love became a legend passed down through the ages. The first writings about the Inverse Land on the flip side of the world were also found by the archeologists. Soon after, a collection of artifacts toured the world . When the kindness idol went on display, compassion and goodwill spread across the city in waves of good feelings. But then the King and Queen of one land died while hosting the idol of love in their palace. Some time later, as each idol had developed a cult around itself, the war of the cults erupted across the lands. Romeo led his cult to seize the love idol from a rival cult leader thanks largely to the garbled communication of the messenger guild and general incompetence. The Idol Futures Exchange was first opened during the war because if you’re going to have a war, you ought to at least make money from it. Later, star-crossed lovers Romeo and Mercutio perfected a technique for flying to facilitate their secret rendezvous. When this method first spread through the world, a crime wave ensued and gang warfare gripped the lands.

Due to an unknown crisis, people formed caravans to rush to the edge of the world seeking to get to the flip side. This caused the world to tilt on its axis as the entire population collected at the same edge. While this was happening, Becky’s thirteenth birthday party and guests all disappeared into a portal to the other side, and the original Love Idol disappeared from our lands. After the near disaster of our world flipping over, people were more judicious in their exploration of the Inverse Lands but this lead to many mysteries and unsolved disappearances, despite these missions being undertaken in a spirit of curiosity and exploration. One group was turned back by Charles Irwin and his mole people, who treated them like an invading army by turning the Inverse Land’s mechanical horrors upon them.

This lead humanity to embrace our noblest ideals, guided by the examples of Jaime & Alex, and by the story of Becky and her sacrifice. But Becky’s brother Timothy and rival Other Becky became an item and returned from the Inverse Lands seeking a fortune. When they were discovered to be smuggling catnip and other animal intoxicants, we abandoned our noblest ideals and took the first steps toward our darkest desires. Later one cult’s head monk ordered the mass production of love idols out of bone and for them to be distributed to the entire population. This flooding of the market lead to the collapse of the entire Idol Futures market, and mass hysteria as brokers committed suicide to escape their losses. At this moment of crisis, one idol apostate wrote and distributed a manifesto that converted masses of dejected idol worshipers to a life guided only by desire. This unleashing of raw passion rapidly left only two people alive in our lands, but they managed to kill each other in a flying duel armed with a hatchet and a spoon and a fatal fall.