Making Planes Playable
I had this weird thought while I was thinking about Scope and making it relate-able to players. Then I tried to “map out” what exactly each Scope represented, just in terms of people. At first I thought the difference between each Scope would be about two orders of magnitude larger than the last (one hundred times larger).
Problems on a Personal Scope effect roughly three to five people (usually including yourself, but not always). Local problems effect between three to five hundred people, which means that anything that threatens the livelihood of a community like a small town, village, a nomadic tribe, or clan is a “Local problem.”
Personal (3-5 people) adventuring party
Local (300-500 people) village, tribe
Regional (30k-50k people)
Global (3-5 million) most big cities
Planar (300-500 million) the US -low end
Cosmic (30-50 billion) multiple earths
Once I got to the regional and global scale though, I ran into a bit of a snag. If I was going to suggest that a “region” was represented by some thirty to fifty thousand people, I was going to have to consider what most players would consider a “region.” What constitutes a region in the popular consciousness?
The city I grew up in had a population of some two hundred thousand people, and if the outlying areas are considered, the city I live in now has a population of two million people. But how many of those people am I really aware of? How much do my daily actions impact them? How much do I really relate to the people around me?
There are some three hundred million-odd people living in the United States. I figure that many players (at least those who live here in the USA) could conceptualize something as large as the USA mobilizing its forces and doing something. Between three and five hundred million people. That’s what I figure constitutes a “Plane.”
China and India would then each represent something between two to three planes (they’d likely be a couple coterminous planes apiece). But then picture a “global manhunt” and how even an enormous country would have difficulty picking out a single person from among the numerous nations and peoples. Blows the mind.
Compare the military of each of these major countries, and their reach. See if you can imagine an apocalyptic plane-spanning conflict like the Blood War in those terms. Lol, imagine commanding an army across multiple planes of existence. That’d be a trip, for sure. That’s an enormous undertaking, and it’s in terms we might understand.
Have you thought about how other planes like the Elemental Chaos, Feywild, or Shadowfell might have “bases” on the Material Plane, much as countries have bases and embassies around the globe? What about mobile military forces?
Once you get to “Cosmic Scope,” you’re talking about thirty to fifty billion people, or between five and nine times the population of the earth. Five to ten earths. Consider the logistical nightmare of trying to mobilize the forces of an entire planet. Now it seems easier to relate to some of those differences in Scope.