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Fifth Season RPG brings NK Jemisin’s fantasy novel trilogy to the tabletop

Start with the end of the world, then tell your own story.

Artwork from the quickstart rules for the Fifth Season RPG.
Image credit: Green Ronin

The Fifth Season Roleplaying Game will translate the world and magic of NK Jemisin’s celebrated and award-winning Broken Earth trilogy of novels into an upcoming tabletop RPG focused on communities banding together against a vengeful, deadly world.

Green Ronin, the publisher behind Mutants & Masterminds and the tabletop RPG adaptations of both The Expanse and Dragon Age, is currently crowdfunding the project on Backerkit. All of the history, culture and geography of The Stillness, the poetic name for what’s left of Earth’s continents, will be contained within a single book for players and a facilitator to power their storytelling.

Rather than retelling Jemisin’s story of one woman who returned to an old life and older magic in search of a lost child, the Fifth Season RPG instead frames its narratives around the scattered pockets of humanity called comms that have learned to survive through massive, recurring ecological blights - the titular Fifth Seasons.

The Fifth Season RPG offers a different kind of fantasy than D&D, like many of the entries on Wheels list in the video above.Watch on YouTube

Groups will start their campaigns by first creating a comm, the shared home that ties the characters together, regardless of their individual ambitions. Comms will have their own sheet and change throughout sessions, dynamically growing in prosperity or shrinking through hardships depending on the season but also the players’ choices. Green Ronin says the comms take advantage of a new “major addition” to the publisher’s AGE system, a rule set using three six-sided dice - along with a Drama Die for audacious stunts.

Characters will have levels but not classes in the traditional sense. Instead, Fifth Season RPG inhabitants rely on their use-caste to dictate much of their abilities and traits. Use-castes are a sociological necessity of the world - when nature turns violent, everyone must know their role and do their part to protect the comm.

Orogeny and sessing, the earth-based magic system of this world, will be present but remain rare and distrusted - the same as in Jemisin’s books. Orogenes are pariahs when they aren’t hunted and collared by the powers-that-be, and it seems as though the Fifth Season RPG wants to heavily dissuade teams of super-powered rock movers cavorting throughout the Somidlats.

Artwork from the quickstart rules for the Fifth Season RPG.
Image credit: Green Ronin

The core rulebook will contain sections covering all the known regions and cultures of the Stillness, along with stonelore, orogeny and what humanity has managed to maintain throughout the Seasons. Speaking of, there will be a whole chapter dedicated to the nature of Fifth Seasons, a history of those that have already passed and guidelines on creating new devastations.

One full adventure, The False Season, will be included alongside a chapter for facilitators looking to create their own tales. Green Ronin says on the campaign page that the RPG’s text is currently with Jemisin for review and won’t be published without her approval. The creative team includes Joseph Carriker, Hiromi Cota, Samantha Day, Tanya DePass, Steve Kenson, Monte Lin, Nell Raban, Alice Rendell, Eugenio Vargas, Kiara Vincent and LaShawn M. Wanak.

The Fifth Season RPG Backerkit campaign will run through February 23rd and is offering both a digital and physical edition of its core rulebook. Digital files are currently expected to be ready by June of this year, while physical book will begin shipping to backers in September.

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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