The Fifth World

Stay on the story’s trail.

Stories in the Fifth World often follow deeply personal, philosophical, and emotional trails. It may lead you through tense, boring, or uncomfortable territory. To hunt the wild story, we need to stay on its trail.

You can use the ritual phraseI don’t see it” at any time, even when creating your community or your character. You can use it to cancel anything that strikes you as too silly, or too dark, or too outlandish, or too unbelievable, but you can also use it to pull back from something too uncomfortable, too painful, or too personal. If you want to pull away from something for a personal reason, “I don’t see it” lets you do so without getting into what personal reasons you might have. For all your friends know, you might object simply because you find the development unbelievable, or simply don’t like the tone of it. You can choose to explain or not.

While “I don’t see it” gives you a tool to pull back when you need to, this principle asks you to see the story through when it becomes difficult. If it becomes too difficult, then by all means use “I don’t see it” to pull back. We can also see it as a sort of pressure valve that can offer us the confidence to follow the story further than we might otherwise.

Under no circumstance should anyone at the table deliberately try to make the story darker, or more grim, or more traumatic. First and foremost, cruelty, abuse, and harassment like that has no legitimate place anywhere. It also happens to violate one of our agendas, to hunt the wild story. Trying to make the story darker or grittier means domesticating it every bit as much as trying to steer it towards a particular outcome. But left to its own devices, the story might wander into challenging territory. If you find that you cannot follow, you have “I don’t see it” at your disposal. If you can, though, the story may lead you beyond that territory to something profound and beautiful.

Just as often, or perhaps even more often, the story won’t challenge us with uncomfortable or painful things, but with boredom that tempts us to skip past to something more exciting. Try to stick with this, too. Dig deeper. Ask more questions. It, too, might lead you to something profound and beautiful, if you can stay on its trail.