The Fifth World

Roleplaying Game

Discovering a Place's Name

Every place tells a story. You can hear it if you pay attention. It tells its story in the way that things happen there, the way the light falls, the way the air moves, the way animals feel there, and the way plants grow. We sometimes have difficulty separating our own concerns from the story that a place tells through us. The true name of a place condenses that story down, like carbon condensed into diamond. It gestures to the whole story with just a few syllables. To those who know the place, the name evokes its spirit, its character, its essence. For many people in the Fifth World, these names evoke such power and presence that they might simply recite lists of names, and in reciting them walk the paths in their mind and feel themselves there, immersed in those stories. You don’t name places. They already have names. You discover them.

During family creation you learn the names of four places. At the end of the game you might have an opportunity to learn another place’s name, if you learned a lot about it during the game and you haven’t yet learned its name.

When you try to discover a place’s name, ask:

Finally, answer: What name evokes all of these stories? If you can answer that question, then you have discovered the place’s true name. Your family has become a little more rooted in their land. If not, don’t worry. Discovering a place’s true name takes a lot of subtlety and patience. Keep at it. You won’t learn your land in a single game or even a single generation, but the work goes ever on.