Though this thought originally came up in the context of The Ascalon Horror, it occurred to me that it might be a more universal concept than I previously considered. A cool, Indiana Jones-style adventure story provides the principle character with a variety of contacts, allies, friends, lovers, and enemies.

But where do they all come from, and how do you define them?

My mind flitted back and forth between incarnations of contacts, companions, hirelings, and various ways of calling in favors from non-player characters in Dungeons & Dragons, the ally cards from Arkham Horror, and quite a few other potential sources of inspiration from across the gaming spectrum.

Guild Wars offers beast companions, henchmen, and hero companion-type allies, including temporary allies throughout quests and missions, not to mention other players. Guild Wars 2 is intended to include a “sidekick” system that will adjust a character’s level to match the content of an area, and/or the level of other players.

Level then, may be more an indication of personal mastery than necessarily the relative power of a character. Leveling up in Guild Wars 2 provides more character attribute manipulation, as opposed to a more direct “my kung fu is greater than your kung fu” scale for comparison you find in other games.

So, what about characters who don’t really buy into all that? Maybe they’re player characters, maybe they’re NPCs, but they just don’t do that. This neutral third party presumably makes up roughly seventy percent of all characters. Maybe they don’t care enough to better themselves, or otherwise don’t know how.

There ought to be a way of measuring character involvement, and I think that’s actually where my idea for measuring a character’s scope comes into play. I determined scope to be exponential in nature, so a character with a scope of one (personal) mostly only cares about themselves and those people in their life.

Most characters, player or otherwise, have a scope of one. They care about the people around them, and are pretty much limited to that. Maybe they don’t intend to stay forever, but they might well stay there anyway. Only if they accept some kind of contract (willing or otherwise) can they break free of the mold and grow.

I’m currently working with an understanding that a persona always adventures at a disadvantage. You must first lose something to be willing to adventure. You risk injury to body, mind, and soul by leaving the safety of normality, and that takes a kind of craziness that comes with profound personal loss (real or imagined).

Maybe that loss was innocence.