Last night, after three years of work, I finished the rough draft of my game, the Fifth World. It's gone through some major revisions, and the current form doesn't bear much resemblance at all to the versions I brought to GASPcon and Dreamation last year. This version I can run around a campfire, or over Skype.
I need to begin some initial playtesting. I plan to make it public soon, but I need to run a lot of playtests before that to work out any major problems. Ideally, I'd like to run playtests as often as daily up to its public debut at GASPcon 10 in two weeks, so I very much need volunteers.About the Setting
Four hundred years from now, civilization has collapsed, and humanity thrives in feral tribes. Humans survived by recognizing their place in a more-than-human world. That requires constant renegotiation of the human place in the world, as the process of creation begins each day.About the Game
We play the game by reading a poem. The poem also provides the instructions for playing. We take places that we know (yes, this point may well require some compromise over Skype), imagine how those places will change over the next four hundred years as the world goes feral, and then figure out what story that place tries to tell. Then, we make characters rooted in that place, bound in that same story; we find out what they want, and then we follow the story to see what happens.
Who Might Like It
- It uses fluency play to learn the game by playing
- It uses ritual phrases
- The main game economy focuses on Debt
- Character creation happens in play, rather than before play.
- You can get an edge in Challenges by introducing Memories set in that place
- GM-less; the person who introduced the place where the scene happens, called the Spirit of the Place, plays the NPC's in that scene
Though technically post-apocalyptic, the Fifth World doesn't really deal with that kind of vision. It presents a bright, hopeful vision of the future. But, unlike what usually passes for bright, hopeful visions of the future, it doesn't say that technology will get us there. I've often called it the deep ecological answer to Star Trek
. So, if you enjoy ecotopian fiction or the work of Ursula K. LeGuin; or, if you have an interest in ecology, bioregionalism, or native traditions, you'll probably enjoy this game. If you enjoy games driven by ritual phrases with very light rules, you might enjoy this game. If you like to pick up a game and immediately start playing—without so much as having to make a character first, much less learn the rules—then you might like this game.InspirationsAfterculture
, The World Without Us
, Ursula K. LeGuin, ecotopian fiction, Graham Harvey
, Tim Ingold
, Derrick Jensen
, Calvin Luther Martin
, et al. In terms of game design: my initial misunderstanding of the term "roleplaying poem," Ganakagok
(from which I flagrantly stole the rule to make people sit in order of character age; Bill White has provided enormously helpful support and guidance since I met him at Dreamation last year, for which I feel incredibly grateful), Polaris
, and flashbacks from 3:16