So, after thinking about The Fifth World as a game of awareness, I started thinking of it as a game of movement, but now I’ve started considering how it might work as a game of trust. Specifically, using the prisoner’s dilemma as a resolution mechanic.
For now, let’s say we use coins. I’ll probably come up with something more evocative later, but let’s stick with that for the moment. You have beads in your relationships, you have a pool of free beads, and you have a coin. You want to go hunting, since that seems like the archetypal challenge for a game like this. You pick a place to go hunting, and the player playing that place tells you if any animals reveal their tracks to you here. Let’s say a deer reveals her track there. You now face a resolution. The genius loci flips a coin and covers it without looking. You hide your coin under your hand, heads-up to indicate “Trust,” meaning you agree to share the deer meat with your whole community, and offer the proper rites of thanksgiving for the deer. If the deer also chose trust, your village will have venison for dinner tonight; if not, you’ll go home with nothing.
The deer has ten beads; you only have seven in your bowl, but then you also have six beads in your relationship with deer. “Okay,” you say, “I follow the tracks and start to get a feel for the deer’s health, weight, and age. Three beads in to gain the deer’s trust.”
But then the genius loci matches your bet, and raises you two beads; does that mean the deer chose “trust”? Or does he just want to compel you to trust, to screw you over? Have you offended Deer before? Might he want to punish you now?
No matter, you need to press on. You see the two beads, and raise him two more. “I keep on tracking, and find where she slept last night. Still a little warm; she must have slept late. Does she feel alright, or has she taken ill?”
The genius loci matches you again, and raises you two more! “I won’t burn beads from my relationship with deer,” you say. “You win.” You raise your hand. “I chose ‘trust’ anyway. You?”
The genius loci raises his hand. “Trust!” he calls out. “You enter the clearing, and there she stands. She sees you, and stands silent and still. You draw back your bow, and shoot. She falls to the ground. You offer the appropriate thanksgiving, and prepare to take her back to the village.”
Because you had an encounter with the deer (you both chose trust), you gain a bead to your relationship with Deer.
I’ve got a lot of things to still work out here. What happens to the beads you bet? How do offer the proper staggering to make betrayal lucrative? I think answering the first question will answer the second, though. How does this work with group effort? How does this work with multiple parties involved at once? Even so, I think this gets us farther than I’ve gotten so far, and I feel good about this–better than I’ve felt about most of these mechanics. What do you all think?