The Fifth World


Stay on the story’s trail.

This principle relates to the agenda, “Hunt the wild story.”

Sometimes the story might try to throw you off its trail by taking you through territory that seems boring, tense, uncomfortable, or even painful. Stay with it. Don’t give up on the story or your friends by zoning out or disengaging. See it through with them.

The “default” way to play The Fifth World operates under an agreement that Meguey Baker described as “I will not abandon you.” The game may go into tense, uncomfortable, or even painful territory. We agree to challenge one another and to remain present and engaged when we feel challenged. You can dial this down as appropriate for you and your friends, but make sure to make it clear from the beginning. Games can turn from fun to stressful and even painful if some players approach the game ready to challenge each other while others look for a more casual experience.

If the game does become too challenging, you can use the ritual phrase, “I don’t see it.” When someone at the table says this in response to something you just said, change it — slightly or radically, as you think the situation calls for. The other player (or someone else, even) could say “I don’t see it” again. Keep going until you find something that no one challenges. “I don’t see it” can help you and your friends find a good tone that satisfies everyone, so don’t feel shy about using it, especially in your early games.