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Father Earth Hates you! The Fifth Season TTRPG

I’m a book fiend on top of being a TTRPG nerd. When those two things intersect, it always catches my attention. ESPECIALLY when it’s a book or series that I love. Green Ronin Press recently announced that they’re working on a roleplaying game based on N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. It’s on BackerKit until February 28, and the project has utterly obliterated its fundraising goals. As of the time of this writing, nearly 2,000 people have pledged over $150,000 to bring this amazing project to fruition. I bookmarked this project as soon as I saw it first advertised pre-launch, and jumped right in for a physical copy when the Fifth Season went live.

What is The Fifth Season?

This isn’t supposed to be a book report, but I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who don’t know what I’m talking about. Or why I’m so excited. The Fifth Season is the first book in a series called The Broken Earth, by N.K. Jemisin. It’s set in an apocalyptic world called the Stillness, where geology and plate tectonics have gone haywire. Earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, and climate fluctuations are a constant threat and mankind has been pushed to the very limit of its ability to survive. Precious few areas on the planet remain that are habitable to humans. Only a very narrow band called The Equitorials is considered stable enough to be “safe.” Most people eke out their existence in the adjacent bands: the Nomidlats and Somidlats. That is, the northern middle latitudes and southern middle latitudes.

Cities and nations are all but gone. The heart of society is the Comm, a small to medium-sized settlement of people who have banded together for survival. Some Comms are old, but many are new. Disaster is always a heartbeat away in the Stillness, and stories of Comms being wiped out and later reformed are common.

So it’s an apocalyptic scifi game?

Not quite.

My favorite part of The Fifth Season is that it’s not strictly science fiction. There is a magical to the world of the Stillness, practiced by people known as Orogenes. These special individuals have a deep connection with the planet, and are able to sense even its smallest movements. They can predict and, with training, avert natural disasters. In the time of The Fifth Season, Orogenes are highly distrusted and even hated, and their magics are closely restricted. Young Orogenes are hunted down and captured, taken away to The Fulcrum for training. For the safety of all, or so they say. There are, of course, “feral” Orogenes. Those who have slipped under the radar and tried to learn their powers on their own. They hide within their Comms and live in constant fear of discovery. At at least at launch, ferals are the only sort of Orogene included.

Enough about the book, what about The Fifth Season TTRPG?

The Fifth Season TTRPG is based on the Green Ronin Adventure Game Engine, or AGE system. Veteran TTRPG players may have encountered it before in Blue Rose and The Expanse. For those not in the know, AGE uses 3d6 for most of its checks, or rather 2d6 and then a separate d6 called the “stunt” or “drama” die. Add up the three numbers, include any mods, and check it against the target number – basically the difficulty rating. Beat it and win. The drama die will tell you just how well or how badly you succeed or fail. Your drama die also gives you a certain number of stunt points that allow you to incorporate other things into your action. Want to reload your weapon or leave an obstacle behind you? Better have some stunt points.

Something unique to The Fifth Season, at least among AGE games, is the Fortune point. Players of Kids on Bikes will recognize Fortune points as something similar to adversity tokens. Fortune points represent how lucky your character is, or how finely honed their survival skills are, and can be spent to improve test results or mitigate damage. Unlike adversity tokens though, Fortune Points regenerate naturally with rest.

Adventures in The Fifth Season

Adventures set in the Stillness take many forms. Everything here is a test of skill, strength and wit. Conflict with other Comms over scarce resources, sudden earthquakes, droughts… A feral Orogene losing control and destroying the Comm’s stockpiles. Tables most comfortable with homebrew adventures have a LOT of possible scenarios to work with. For those more inclined to run prewritten modules, The Fifth Season’s core rulebook comes with a complete adventure called False Season. Thanks to stretch goals, the core book will ALSO include the adventure Miroq Festival. Additionally, the QuickStart guide has a two part scenario called Stress Fractures. Future books and modules are planned, according to Green Ronin, so more are sure to follow.

The Fifth Season TTRPG reached its funding goal in six hours on BackerKit. A slew of stretch goal rewards have been unlocked, including a poster map of the Stillness that will accompany every edition of the book. Also unlocked is the GM kit, which comes with yet another adventure along with a screen and tools to make the GM’s job a lot easier when the table gets started. Pledge options exist for both traditional print editions and PDF, and Roll20 integration is already in place.

Don’t miss out on your chance to back this great project and experience one of the coolest SFF worlds I’ve encountered in a very long time!

About the Author
Silver has been playing Magic: The Gathering and other trading card games off and on since 1999, and is a lifelong roleplayer. They believe in Rule 0 and The Rule of Cool, and that the gaming table should be a safe space for everyone.

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