The Fifth World

Roleplaying Game

Starting an Encounter

Begin by using the ritual phrase, “It happened at «place name».” If you know the name of the place, use that. If not, the descriptor on the card (like “a natural wonder” or “the monument”) will suffice.

The location of your character’s card indicates where we find her when your encounter begins. If we haven’t yet seen an encounter at this place in this game, answer the place’s introductory question.

Describe what we see, hear, smell, and feel here. Help us to see the Fifth World together. After we've spent a few moments placing ourselves there, decide who you will encounter here — the Other.

You can encounter anyone present at the place with you. Other person cards with yours in the column below the place card all represent possibilities. If the place has a face-down person card above it, you can draw it to have a random encounter.

Random Encounter

If you’d like to have a random encounter, draw the person card currently face-down above the place. Its suit and value will suggest something of this person’s character. First, answer:

Do you encounter a human person or an other-than-human person?

If you answer human, answer:

How does she relate to you?

This does not necessarily imply that you have a relationship. You could answer, “I’ve never seen her before in my life,” establishing that she relates to you as a stranger.

If you answered other-than-human, answer:

What form does she take?

Tell us what we see when this person comes into view. Do we see a bear, a tree, a mountain, or a storm? Or does she take a form that we can’t see — a story, an idea, or an absence, perhaps?

Assign Roles

Once you’ve established the identity of the Other, choose someone to play her. Players who have characters present at that place might get involved in what happens, so you’ll generally want to pick someone else to play the Other if you can. If you can’t, perhaps because you’ve all come together in the same place, the character of the person who plays the Other might still appear, but won’t play an important role in the encounter about to happen.

The player starting the encounter will play her own character. The encounter focuses on her and the Other. Everyone else might play their own characters as secondary characters if present, other secondary characters who might appear, or the audience. The player starting the encounter should make these roles clear at the beginning.