Scopes

This is the stuff I can’t talk about.

All I can say is that…it’s like living in every dystopian novel you’ve ever- Jeez, OK. The movies where there’s computer security everywhere and they can track you flawlessly by a fingerprint? That, except you can’t get away from it by going “off the grid.” The grid isn’t made of wires and nodes anymore. It’s made of shadows. Anywhere you are, your body gives Him the window He needs to hear you, just by blocking light.

And, yes, the chances against Him listening in at any given time are pretty high. But when you think about how many people disappear every week, and the fact that He makes no attempt at all to hide what He’s doing, you’re left with two possibilities.

First, He might not be able to keep tabs on the whole world. That would make sense, right? Too much space, too many people, and He’s got to sleep sometime, doesn’t He? He might just grab people when He finds them (or they get reported – that’s the other thing, it’s not like He doesn’t have followers), and takes enough people to make anyone thinking about resisting think twice.

The second possibility is scarier, but we have to consider it. He might actually be able to monitor the entire world somehow. He’s already demonstrated that He can do things most Openers can’t – direct two-way gates, controlling Them, expanding gates once they’re open, and so on. Maybe He can listen to millions of people at once and sort through what they’re saying for what He wants to hear. If so, that makes Him a savant and it makes Him even more terrifying, but honestly, my gut tells me this is what’s really happening.

I say that because it’s in keeping with how He’s always behaved. He’s never shown any desire to kill people. He’s only ever killed to make a point, and He’s going gone whole-hog at the very beginning, when He needed to make sure we all knew He wasn’t fucking around. Since then, there haven’t been any attacks on the scale of Jerusalem, and only a few on the scale of Cheyenne Mountain or Saint Peter’s. He hasn’t spoken to the world since the address he gave from Riyadh. Hell, to my knowledge He hasn’t spoken since then.

The resistance, from what I’ve heard…hang on.

OK. Quick, now. From what I hear, most people who consider themselves “resistance” just want to be free to be religious again. It’s a good, easy source of outrage, but it faces two big problems. First of all, it’s dying out. Religion only works if people teach it to the kids, and teaching your kids about God is dangerous not only to you, but to the kids. Since there are no Churches anymore, urging you to send kids to Sunday school and give money, there’s no community based on belief anymore, which is what He wanted in the first place, I think.

Second, the different religious factions still hate each other. They don’t actively fight – radical Islam learned pretty quickly that any real violent activity against the West or the Jews was going to result in shadows opening up and a quick visit from Them, and so did the fundamentalist folks in the US clamoring on about the Raputure – but they don’t mingle and they don’t help each other, either. And, in a show of bone-headedness that makes me want to sit down and cry, they blame each other for all of this.

They still. Blame. Each other.

If you read yesterday’s posts, you saw how Character Challenges work and the four main Attributes that characters have. You might be wondering, then, how one expresses a character’s training, hobbies, aptitudes and so on. The answer is through Scopes.

A character can have a maximum of five Scopes, and they’re basically just fields of knowledge or expertise that inform what a character knows how to do. For instance, let’s say we’re playing a game of curse the darkness and the characters find a survivor (maybe a new PC) who just popped through the Between and fell onto some debris, breaking his leg. Setting the bone is a Focus action, and it’s a Character Challenge because even if I fail, my character stands no real chance of leaving the game over it. My character, Jack, moves forward and sets the bone, taking the Action.

Now — why does Jack know how to do this? It’s a good question. I might already have a Scope that answers it, since I get to set Scopes during character creation, but let’s say I haven’t. The GM sets a difficulty and I play a card. Roleplaying this out:

“How the hell do you know how to set a bone, Jack?” one of the other PCs asks.

“Well,” says Jack, “Dad took us off the grid right after Jerusalem. We lived up in the mountains in Tennessee, and Dad taught my sister and I all kinds of stuff like this. Setting bones, what plants are edible, building fires, trapping.”

“Cool,” says the other character. “How’d your Dad know all that stuff? He in the Army?”

Jack shrugs. “Actually, I don’t know how he knew. Dad wasn’t the kind of guy who talked about himself.”

I jot down “survivalist training” as a Scope. Later on in the story, if Jack is called upon to do the same thing in similar circumstances, the GM won’t bother making me play a card to do it unless there is an additional element of drama involved (enemies pursuing us, the victim is resisting, that sort of thing). Likewise, I get the benefit of having a Scope – namely, I don’t have to lose the card that I played, but I can keep it (which is handy if it’s a high card that I might want around for future Focus Challenges).

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7 responses to “Scopes

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