Like fish in water, people in a culture swim in the virtually invisible medium of culturally sanctioned yet artificial states of mind.
Scenes are the variously sized and organized social or ethnic groups or alliances on Halcyon. Each scene has various sub-scenes.
In the Underworld, a scene is synonymous with a being's ethnic heritage and breed or racial background. In the Evening, scenes have nothing to do with race or ethnicity but have stratified around common practice and behavior. During adolescence and if someone is found to be different or to no longer belong, they go on a mirrordive or a Walk until they find people to which they feel they belong. This makes each Evener tribe both diverse and yet, through thousands of years of highbreeding, uniquely homogenous. For instance, the fyrie tribe was composed of pale-grey skinned, red-haired beings of extremely diverse features otherwise, every feature in common, such as heavy padding on the bottoms of their feet and subtly elfin ears, seemingly selected for their nomadic forest lifestyle.
A being's scene colors their assumptions and their social maneuverability more than their physical abilities. Most sentient beings on Halcyon are, from a genetic standpoint, elves, or their genetic cousins, such as the ebblin or centaurs. Among breeds of elf, although average height, weight, skin color, or ear shape may vary, there are more similarities than differences. Some traits can play major roles in the difficulty of learning a muscle memory or gig, but not in the possibility of them being learned. If a martial art is possible, it may be designed for someone of Aurean traits to pick up and perform, but this does not preclude a Human from learning some form of it. It will simply be harder and take more time for them to master, or perhaps need to be adapted to their frame. The same is true of an Aurean attempting to learn an art designed by or for ebblin. Similarly, Choromancy may come naturally to flexible people with longer limbs, with shapeslippers having an unfair advantage if used in tandem. But shapeslipping is both a Mystique and a Craft and so anyone can learn it and thus up their posture mojo considerably.
Effect on play
Scenes are cultural and ethnic backgrounds of your family, and possibly imply your breed of being. They are how you were raised and a lens through which you see the world. These cultural touchstones and practices provide a psychological cushion against the natural pressures of the world, but just like an upheld lens, also colors how others see you.
In play, scene challenges add the Identity Die, the D8, to the threshold pool for an action. Scenes are inflexible, but can be balanced or overcome with enough Awe. One may wish to avoid situations where your scene facets will come into play, unless you have accrued enough enough awe to compensate.
All scenes come with privileges (automatic successes) that help you and your squad. Mystiques can be used as often as you can succeed at them, Crafts are draining and can only be used once per encounter. Mercurials can only be used once per quick (day).
In Hel, non-Aureans and non-Hellions roll the Identity Die for any interactions with any Hellions, but add a +1, 2, 3, or 4 depending on your caste. If a non-Hellion, non-Aurean, you must roll the Identity Threshold even with other non-aureans, including of your own breed.
- Terrence McKenna, Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge--a Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution