A downloadable game

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The Mariner is a solo RPG played with a deck of cards, a tumbling block tower, paper and a pen.

“Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink

You don’t know what possessed you to shoot that bird. Perhaps you believed the old sailor’s tales of bad omens, of spectral birds with the power to bring bad weather and seas upon helpless ships. Maybe you wanted to prove to the crew that as the captain you weren’t afraid of superstition, or perhaps you were just tired of watching the albatross endlessly circle above you, round and round, for hour upon hour.

Whatever your reasoning, your crossbow shot didn’t miss. The bird fell from the sky like a stone, crashed into the ocean and for a time you thought nothing further of it. Then the winds dropped and the sea lay still. Hours became days with your sails lying slack. Without wind or current your vessel drifted, a prisoner upon a flat glass ocean.

Provisions grow fewer by the day and the men are restless and impatient. As the captain of the ship, your responsibility is to keep the men in line and morale high, but as days pass, you begin to hear more and more whispers. You killed the bird. You brought this fate upon the ship.

How long will the winds not blow? How long will your men wait without food, without fresh water and without hope?

This game is based on The Wretched by Chris Bissette and was created for Wretched Jam

Thanks to @litzabronwyn for providing the template and @pangalactic for his work on the Wretched & Alone system.

The Mariner is loosely inspired by 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

The Mariner.pdf 397 kB


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"a tumbling block tower" Please, indicate that this part is optional.

A beautiful and harrowing experience.

I played without a tower (because I don't have one), and by coincidence the final card in the deck was the fourth King so I ended up experiencing every scenario. It was such a strange and heavy moment when I turned over that final card, knowing what it would be, knowing I'd failed. 

I filled many pages with this over the course of an afternoon and it was time very well spent.

My favourite moments were 8D, 9D, 4C, and 7S. I was so excited to pull the Ace of Hearts, I managed to convince myself I might even win for a brief moment.

Really nicely done, I'll remember this experience for a while.


Thanks so much for your comments. I'm so pleased to see people are still playing and getting something out of this.