In The Fifth World tabletop roleplaying game, you and a handful of friends explore what happens to your descendants living beyond civilization. You'll see the familiar places of your life transformed by four centuries of change. You’ll trace the history of your family and learn the customs that helped them to survive and thrive, and then take on the roles of the members of that family as they struggle to balance the web of kinship all around them and find a path forward.
If you’ve never played a roleplaying game before and wonder what it involves, we not only answer those questions but help you get your first experience playing a roleplaying game with a short microgame.
If you have played other roleplaying games before, you may need to set aside some assumptions — The Fifth World differs from most games you’ve probably played in some significant ways. You might want to start with our explanation on what the Fifth World doesn’t include.
Why would you want to play The Fifth World? We play to…
To help us achieve that agenda together, we have some principles that we follow in play:
- Rewild the domesticated.
- Feed the story with what you know.
- Address the Fifth World.
- Reveal understandable motivations.
- Defer answers.
- Give every person life.
- Draw lines.
- Ask questions and build on the answers.
- Listen to the spirit of the place.
The Fifth World uses a deck of playing cards divided into a needs deck (the aces), a persons deck (the kings, queens, jacks, and jokers), and a places deck (the numbered cards).
Creating a Family
The family stands as the basic sovereign unit of life in the Fifth World, so we begin by creating one. We trace its history from the near future through four centuries of change to learn their customs, how they developed, and what they value. In long-term play, we’ll see several generations born, grow old, and die. The family and its ties to the land become the throughline of our saga.
Creating a Character
Once you’ve created a family, creating a character doesn’t take much time at all. Choose your name, which of your family’s customs you relate to and how, what virtue you hold most dear, and which card represents you.
Once you’ve created a family and characters to play in that family, you’ll have a few last steps to follow before you begin the game.
The game unfolds in a set number of rounds in which each player sets an encounter between her character and someone else. In these encounters you’ll use ritual phrases and spend moments of awareness to ask questions and discover the answers you need.
After a set number of rounds of encounters, the game ends. Did you meet your family’s needs? Did you learn the name of one of the places in your territory? What questions linger about our characters for next time?
If you’d like to return to the same family and characters regularly with a group of friends, you can play a series of games with an ongoing, intergenerational story — a saga. Sagas add milestones to the game, allowing you to unlock new bundles that expand the game.