The Fifth World

Etic Voice

Etic refers to the outsider’s point of view — in this case, the way you or I as modern people would see the Fifth World. In gaming terms, you could call this the “out-of-character” perspective. Ironically enough, we write these articles in the first person, as a character living in the Fifth World: the Grand Arcanist.

The Grand Arcanist comes from our own time. He helped write the original artificial intelligence for the nanobots, and became the first (and only) example of their success in their intended purpose, to keep a human being alive indefinitely. Thanks to the nanobots, he has lived for over four hundred years and watched the world change, allowing him to offer a perspective that no one else can. He founded the Ordo Arcanum to help shepherd the nanobots, and became revered as the oldest and wisest of their number.

We write the etic articles in this character’s voice, trying to document this world for an unknown posterity. He knows that his approach might only provide him a personal indulgence, a throwback to a world that will never exist again, but one that he grew up in and sometimes feel nostalgic for. He does not know if anyone else will ever know or care about his encyclopedia. Perhaps it only provides him a way to wile away the centuries.

As he tries to keep his notes neat and orderly, he writes with an authoritative editorial voice. Each entry starts by stating its subject, bolded, as an encyclopedia entry would. However, knowing full well that no one else may ever read it, the Grand Arcanist sometimes lets his editorial voice slip and inserts personal observations and anecdotes to illustrate the subject. He would have lost his mind long ago if he did not have a particularly open one, as well as a fairly liberal attitude towards social change, though even for him, four centuries of such rapid change can pose a serious challenge.

Generally, though, the Grand Arcanist succeeds in keeping an up-to-date, comprehensive, and as-objective-as-possible encyclopedia documenting the Fifth World and its history which any modern person could read to understand how the Fifth World works and how it emerged.