Now that our Big Picture is

How the Cold War didn’t end in 1989.

Let’s choose some Bookends (where the history begins and ends):

Our history begins in 1945, after the fall of the Nazis.

And since I’m going all out for an alternative history, let’s end it in the future, say, 2045, after the mutual collapse of the USA and USSR.

Oh, and I have to assign “moods” to the book-ends – light or dark – which are symbolized by light and dark circles (0 or •)

Since it’s the Cold War, I’m going to say the fall of the Nazis gave birth to something arguably MORE rotten, and so I’m making 1945 a dark time (•).  2045, on the other hand, will be a point of hope (o).

Last night, I played a game of Ben Robbins’ excellent RPG Microscope, in which you play out epic histories with your friends.  I liked it so much, that – inspired by our recent RPG Solitaire contest – I’m going to play a game by myself, on my blog, for 10 minutes a day.

Consider it a writing exercise during all my frantic writing projects.

Microscope allows you to generate full-fledged historical dramas that leap back and forward in time, drawing you further and further into an immersive world.

To start, one needs to come up with a Big Picture for the history and world.  Now, it doesn’t have to be anything complicated, so I’m going to K.I.S.S.:

How the Cold War didn’t end in 1989.

Next Post: Bookends (where the history begins and ends)

Figurative Destruction – A Role-Playing Game for One

by Evan Torner

(Submitted as a contest entry for the “Living in the Future” category of the RPG Solitaire Challenge, Jan. 1-11, 2011; see also The Robber’s Tale in this webring)

Tagline: War kills, power corrupts, evil spreads — and that, friend, is only the beginning.

Fictional Synopsis: Suffering under a tyrannical and inhumane empire, two friends assemble a plucky cell of resistance and miraculously overcome the odds to defeat the source of their troubles.  Yet philosophical and practical dilemmas lay before them, dilemmas that prove insurmountably divisive.  Slowly their fellow resistance fighters begin to choose sides between them, until their infant society is polarized, forcing their respective armies to confront each other in a painful final showdown.

Design Premise: Upon returning home to Iowa, I discovered a vast treasure trove of RPG books, assorted characters from two decades of gaming, and a closet full of action figures.  What to do with all this ephemera?  Design a game around it, of course:  a game that would also replicate a frequently repeated war storyline in my own imaginary play of my youth.  Personal design goals include the expropriation of a large quantity of trademarked action figures and personal campaign-bound characters alike (i.e., their names, identities and powers will be fiddled with at will), their incorporation into a storyline that both showcases their formidable strengths and fatal vulnerabilities pitted against one another, and this storyline’s service to both the player and others as a cautionary tale.  I also want to include a system that uses both audio and digital images to document the role-playing while not kowtowing to the genres of podcasts, video or webcomics.  The point, I think, is to have the game mechanics add adult pathos, nuance and ambiguity to the otherwise Manichean battlefields of the cartoons many of us grew up with.

I leave you with a video about Sectaur: