I’ve written about my Scope System a little bit here and there, mostly avoiding the subject because I’ve been so busy working on the foundations of my game system that I didn’t want to bother getting into detail about something so liable to change.

Now I figure it’s time to talk about Scope.

Do you know what a tier is? Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons recognizes three tiers of play: Heroic, Paragon, and Epic. I guess those are okay, at least two of them are descriptive. Heroes being what most characters are (or aren’t, if they’re anti-heroes) and epic being something super-awesome. I don’t hear “paragon” too much.

What is a paragon anyway? I mean, I know what the word means, a paragon is someone who’s sort of at the top of their game, the head of their field, almost a representative of whatever it is that they do, but it isn’t a word in common parlance. Before Fourth Edition, most gamers I spoke with didn’t use the word.

Not that it’s a bad word. It just doesn’t carry a lot of meaning.

At this stage of development, Scope mostly references what can be effected by a character or organization of that Scope: Personal, Local, Regional, Global, Planar, and Cosmic. Most characters begin at “Personal” and move up from there. Most characters don’t make it past “Local,” but there’s a clear difference to be found.

Today I stumbled upon another d20 game project, called “Echelon d20.” It uses the term “tier,” much like Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons does, but divides characters into seven tiers that span four levels each, with admitted difficulty in defining the differences between tiers. It’s a project to watch. Find it here: Echelon d20.

I can’t rightly say that “Scope” is much better, except perhaps in definition. Scope refers to how widespread a character or effect might be, and I haven’t really identified how a character or effect crossed the invisible bridge between the two. I’ve separated the concept of Scope from “Scale,” which reflects character levels.

In other words, characters “scale” from one to thirty, and their “scope” increments from one to six. Your Scale increases as you take on more encounters, while your Scope hypothetically increases roughly every five levels. I think my point is they doesn’t have to, but if you want your actions to mean something, your Scope must increase.

Scale is something that might fluctuate on a given day of the week and I’m not entirely sure how it would operate – only that it’s less important in the grand scheme of things than say, Scope. A monster you encounter might be disadvantaged somehow and be at a lower Scale, whereas a “giant” will tend to have an undeniable Scope advantage.

One of the difficulties faced here will be in determining what precisely is determined by Scale, particularly if it tends to fluctuate, and what is defined by Scope.

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