五德 – The Five Powers is a narrative, story-driven Role-Play-Game. It is based on the East-Asian philosophy of Yin & Yang and the 5 elements – Wood 木 (mù), Fire 火 (huǒ), Earth 土 (tǔ), Metal 金 (jīn) and Water 水 (shuǐ).
五德 is pronounced wǔ dé. 五- wǔ is easily translated from Chinese and stands for the number 5.Wu De Rulebook
德 – dé (/də/) is much more complex. Scholars have discussed its correct translation into English within the works of Daoist’s like Laozi or Zhuangzi.
Peter A. Boodberg called it the most significant character besides dào 道 and Arthur Waley suggest the translation ‘power’ instead of the commonly used ‘virtue’ to highlight the Yin & Yang nature of this character.
De also stands for the individual phases or aspects of East-Asian Philosophy and its manifestations in the five elements. This very meaning is used as basis for this game.
五德 – The Five Powers is all about developing a common story cooperatively. The game is fit into a narrative frame that helps to develop the story further and advances the scenes forward to the stories conclusion. Wu De is set up to be played without a Game Master (GM), giving the players control over their story. The rules, however, also work in a set-up with a GM – something novice players should consider getting used to the system and the creative possibilities.
The Element Dice System is based on the balancing nature of Yin & Yang and how they are represented within the 5 Powers. This System propels the story through rolls on players actions and decisions and it shows consequences the players have to resolve in their shared narrative.
The best way to understand Wu De is to play it!