I decided recently to start a one on one tabletop roleplaying campaign with my wife and chose Scarlet Heroes as the system to use. Scarlet Heroes is an Old School roleplaying game designed specifically for one GM and one player. There is a premade setting that comes with the system, but I prefer to build something with my players, so we have a shared mutual vision of the world. Ariana and I sat down a couple weekends ago and used Ben Robbins’ Microscope to broadly build the world.
Microscope is a game that allows plays to collectively create the history of a world. You start by creating a concept for the world and starting and ending periods. From there, players rotate as the Lens, a role that allows a player to choose an aspect of the world and spend a round building it out through additional Periods, Events, or specific Scenes. Microscope is not about being comprehensive but about working at whatever level of detail you enjoy and interacting with a world that way.
Here are the results of our Microscope game.
The world we created is Muatera, a refuge for a large group of colonists from a world drained of its magic and left lifeless. Piling on board their planar shipwhales, around 350,000 refugees headed for a star that had been found by some of the last mages. They became lost on the way as the magic faded and found Muatera, a decently hospitable planet where a home could be made. Almost as soon as they landed, their shipwhales became stricken with a strange illness and the colonists realized they would be stuck here for the foreseeable
future. The races that made up the colonists were Humans, Elves, Halflings, and Orcs.
The Humans are pretty standard and hold many of the bureaucratic and political positions in the colony. Elves are more esoteric and alien and have developed their own technical magics, separate from the very elemental craft that drained and ruined the Old World. Halflings are the industrious agrarians doing the hard labor without seeking praise or reward beyond a good job done. Orcs are the roaming free spirits, moving in nomadic tribes and exploring Muatera in more detail that any other race.
After about a century, the ruins of the Remnants were discovered buried beneath Muatera. These were the piece of a lost civilization, the details of whom are yet to be fleshed out. Their writings did lead to a cure that helped boost the shipwhale herds and allowed the colonists to visit the three neighboring planets in the system. Three additional races were discovered: The Goliath Tieflings, Hypogeal Elves, and Psionic Dwarves. Relations with each is complex and distinct, but no major conflicts have sprung up…yet.
Ella Pips, Halfling Mage
Our campaign will take place 200 years after the colony began and Ariana decided she wanted to play as a Halfling came up with Estrella Pips, the daughter of a shipwhale rancher and the middle child of five. She has learned magic from some dusty tomes in her parents’ attic, and she uses her magic to midwife the shipwhales. We decided that once the shipwhales reach a certain size, possibly when they develop the capacity to hold their breath in the vacuum of space, they float up through the atmosphere and finish growing to their final massive ship size. Ariana established that Halflings are determined survivors who don’t think much of leisure time but are loyal to the death with their friends and allies. Estrella is the maturity equivalent of 15 human years in age and actually does like the idea of enjoying life and playing.
Some of the threads and hooks she gave me through my questions were:
- Shipwhales escaped, Milo (Estrella’s eldest brother) thinks they were stolen by some Orc bandits.
- Politicians from Kaphis, the capitol colony, wants to buy up or take land because of the Remnant ruins possibly buried beneath.
- The worldscar left by a battle between a Magus and Remnant golems is barren and has caused the fertile land to increase in value and be fought over more violently.
This will be my first major delve into OSR/Dungeon Crawling since 2008 when I ran the dismal (IMO) D&D 4th. I am very excited about this and the world, fed mostly by details from Ariana has me intrigued. I’ve even purchased a halfling wizard mini for her to use. The first actual session will be Saturday, December 17th so look for a write-up after that.