As readers already know, the Broken Earth novels tell an in-depth story of their main characters and their story has significant effects on the world and its future. Therefore, the decision was made to set the Fifth Season RPG sometime prior to the key events of the first novel, The Fifth Season, although it’s entirely possible to set your Fifth Season campaign during the events of the novels, looking at how your comm deals with all that unfolds during them, if you wish.
The RPG looks at things on a much more local level than the novels, although you can decide to take the future of the world in an entirely different direction, if you want. One of the great things about roleplaying games is they place imaginary worlds into the hands of your game group, to spin out your own stories however you want. They also allow us to explore different aspects of a fictional setting in ways the source fiction did not, or only touched upon.
One aspect of this for Fifth Season is the concept of “deadcivs,” long-dead civilizations and the ruins they have left behind. The history of the Stillness is tens of thousands of years, significantly longer than the entirety of recorded human history in our modern world. There have been many Seasons over that time, and untold numbers of comms and entire civilizations have come and gone, to say nothing of what may have existed in the time before stonelore was first recorded, in the lost annals of human history.
While most deadciv ruins have been buried, crushed, or otherwise destroyed by the churning, shaking, and thrashing of Father Earth, the potential for artifacts, remnants, or even some surviving locations of those lost civilizations is a rich field for Fifth Season Game Moderators. They can offer unusual places for characters to explore, filled with their own hazards. Unique items may intrigue and fascinate Innovators in the comm, while deadciv artifacts can be treasures to make a comm thrive — or lead other comms to covet what they have. With “sufficiently advanced technology” most deadciv artifacts can serve as the equivalent of “magic items” in a Fifth Season setting, although far more rare and more easily misunderstood than their fantasy RPG equivalents.