The Fifth World

Roleplaying Game

Playing the Audience

Sometimes you won’t have any characters in an encounter. Nonetheless, you’ll play an important part in it — as the audience.

When you play the audience, your goal lies in making the story interesting. People playing their own characters can change the story by telling us what they say and do. People playing other characters can influence the story by how they portray those characters, but ultimately those characters will not make any meaningful decisions unless we spend awareness to ask a question or we make an appeal. As the audience, you have a means of introducing new elements much more easily: by asking a leading question.

As audience, you can ask any question at any time. Here you really have an opportunity to focus on asking questions and building on the answers, and those questions can establish new elements in the encounter. If you ask, “How did you lose your footing?” the fact that the main character lost her footing becomes established, and she gets to tell us how it happened, and then what she does next.

Don’t simply tell us about things that happen as the audience, though. By asking a question, even a leading one, you take authorship of one part of the event but leave the other part for the other players in the encounter. This split plays a key role in keeping the story wild.

You should keep the agenda and principles in mind throughout the game, but they become especially important when you play the audience. Ask questions that further the agenda and to follow the principles.