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I'm interested in playing Microscope online and was wondering if anyone knows what tools exist that might support this?

Microscope differs from many RPGs in that it is primarily playing using blank index cards, which you fill in as you play and arrange in a timeline. Features such as battle-maps and dice rolling therefore are not much use.

I've used MapTool in the past, but i'm not sure that it supports the edit-on-the-fly card functionality that would be required.

Any suggestions?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 12 down vote accepted

What you may want is (Now known as NoteApp.) It's a virtual shared corkboard that everyone can place, move, and edit virtual sticky notes on. We used it to coordinate with a remote player for our recently-concluded Alternity Star*Drive campaign. For a fill out and arrange card metaphor it's right on point. It's free and there's not even a login; security is by carefully sharing your special corkboard URL, so it may not be a good choice if you want to publicly share the results.

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Holy cow, that's awesome. Thank you for sharing that. –  Jadasc Nov 23 '11 at 15:35
@Jadasc - You may also want to look at spaaze which is a similar corkboard site. –  gomad Nov 23 '11 at 18:22
Looks like something has changed - NoteApp still hosts a free version, but it's limited to two users on the board at any one time. This is a bit constrained for Microscope. –  Nathan Mar 13 at 1:08

Trello might also be a good choice.

It's by the same company that makes stackexchange and stackoverflow. It is relatively new but free, they plan on down the road looking at ways of commoditizing it from the 5% of users that will pay for things like integrations into other products and such.

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I haven't played Microscope before but this seems like something Google Docs would handle incredibly well.

They are designed to be collaboratively edited in real time. You can have everyone join your campaign document and start working.

UPDATE: Brian recently hosted a game and we played it using google docs. We used outline levels to delineate period/event/scene and text highlighting to depict light or dark. It worked quite well in conjunction with voice chat.

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I agree that Google Docs is your answer. A high-level of stability and the data is easy for everyone to access make it prime choice. The collaboration is unmatched. –  Josh Nov 23 '11 at 14:50
As I mentioned in the question, I was really looking for a solution that used the card-based mechanism common to the table-top game. Google docs would give me a word-processor document, which is not really what i'm after. –  Frater Nov 23 '11 at 23:40
No, docs isn't the answer. Having participated extensively in the beta-test of microscope, an outline provides for an excellent documentation, but very poor real-time representation. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Nov 25 '11 at 4:13
Actually, Google Docs can give you a drawing or a presentation document in which you can throw as many different colored text rectangles as you would like. But, you may be right, it may not fit what you are looking for. –  Josh Nov 26 '11 at 19:29
There's also Fusion Tables, which is a table-drive database. While it doesn't support carriage returns in text cells... but it could be used (with careful numbering) to do a card-based bit. –  aramis Nov 27 '11 at 3:09

I've always thought Mind Mapping software would be good for this kind of thing. is online and collaborative, though not free if you want multiple collaborators. It allows you to add icons which would be good for showing light/dark indicators on the nodes, and you can also distinguish between Periods, Events, and Scenes in a similar manner.

I've also seen, but never tried it, but it looks about the same as mindmeister.

The only downside is you have to have a single top level node, but that can just as easily be the name of your current game.

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I used mindmeister to hold information about my Dresden Files campaign. But I found that at some point, my map was overwhelming. It was hard to find information, hard to navigate. I went to Scrivener and was very happy. –  gomad Nov 23 '11 at 18:19
Mind mapping would definately fit the bill. Mindmeister looked good but i'm not keen on paying a subscription on something I will only use occasionally. Wisemapping certainly sounds interesting, though do you know if it supports simultaneous collaboration? I can't find any indication on the site. Gomad - I also love Scrivener for that sort of work :) –  Frater Nov 23 '11 at 23:45

I recently used Roll20 to run a game of Psi*Run, a game that uses index cards to create a location map as the players proceed through a desperate chase. Two of my players were local and three at a remote location.

It was simple and easy to draw rectangles as cards and add some text on them. My memory of Microscope is fuzzy, but I don't think it required much more than that and marking with a color - which is easy in Roll20. I used some colored circles as tokens -- you could easily drop colored circles on cards and group them together, or change the fill or border color of the rectangles, or even just use letters or numbers in place of the color mark.

I was even thinking of using Roll20 for Microscope after this experience - having never run Microscope at all.

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If the mindmapping approach is what you're interested in you could try It's free and very flexible :)

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Have you used this for microscope before? Does it work? –  wax eagle Jun 11 '13 at 20:32
Mind maps have a central node. Microscope timelines do not have a central node, so -1 for that. –  SevenSidedDie Jun 11 '13 at 20:58

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