Transmission for Them
A solo journaling game about lovers lost in space, playable with a standard deck of 52 playing cards.
Six years have passed since
your lover left Earth.
Six years you’ve spent on a
ship in the quiet of Space,
trying to find them.
You sit at the edges of the Universe,
reserves low, watching life go on.
With no way home, all you can do is
send your last transmission...
Transmission for Them is a solo journaling game about reflecting on your odyssey across the stars, the people you met, the places you went, the obstacles you faced and, of course: the reason you went, them.
Transmission is A5, printed on uncoated paper and staple bound, and numbers 38 pages.
Transmission for Them was brought to life by me, Eryk Sawicki, proprietor of Peregrine Coast Press. I also created Filmmakers Without Cameras, a film and games magazine you might have seen knocking about your favourite indie retailer. I've handled layout and art direction for Transmission.
Returning writers are Samuel T. McNally and Joshua Luke Cable, both of whose work was featured through Filmmakers Without Cameras. They're filmmakers by trade, with a few awards under their belts too. Their words are what makes this project shine.
Illustrated by Charlie Freer. Charlie is likewise a returning artist from Filmmakers Without Cameras, and is also part of Slut Punch, an arts collective from Leeds, UK.
Transmission will be delivered to your door by Hugh Wells of [swag/ship/hack]. Hugh delivered both issues of Filmmakers and has tons of experience in fulfilment of events, cons, and other high-profile Kickstarters like Lost in Cult's Lock-on gaming journal.
To play Transmission for Them you need a standard deck of playing cards and something to write with. To make the most of this game, you’ll need to put in just enough emotional elbow grease to feel some ownership over the story. This your journey; we’re just providing you the map. Name your character, your lover, and your ship too.
Take your deck and remove the Jokers, then split the deck into 4 stacks, based on suits. Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs. Shuffle these 4, and keep them separate. Each suit represents a type of ‘reflection’ you have about your journey.
Hearts: You, your Lover and life back on Earth.
Spades: The people you met.
Diamonds: The places and things you saw.
Clubs: The trials and tribulations you faced.
Each number within a suit corresponds to one of the 52 specific prompts detailed in the zine. You’ll be pulling a certain number of cards from each suit, in a certain order. On any single playthrough you will encounter ¼ of the total prompts, and how you interpret them is up to you. With each new odyssey you begin, your journey, and your destination will change.
Before you hit that ignition switch and start flipping cards and filling out your past adventure, you need to know how you got here, read the opening text explaining why you’re adrift in the astral sea...
Each prompt requires you to journal how your character responded, in the form of a transmission. Collect your thoughts, remember what happened, and regale it to your Lover in a message beamed across the great divide. How that goes is up to you. Just keep in mind why you’re doing this: you’re doing it for Them, aren’t you?
Remember, when writing your journals, you want to be doing it in first person, using the pronoun ‘I,’ and doing so in the past tense.
Example “The signal was a trap. I pulled so hard on the yoke, it damn near broke off in my hands. But it worked, I put the Red Hawk through so many hard-G manoeuvres it would even make you blush. You always were the better pilot. It turns out, if you’ve got no idea where you’re flying, the bad guys don’t know where to shoot at you. Even so the beams were close, too close. I almost evacuated my bowels right into this second-hand vac suit. I traded my last flavour capsules for this suit... I think I’m gaining on you now. If you can still hear me, I ... Hell, even if you can't, I still love you.”
When all your allotted cards are pulled, you return to where you started. Almost at the end of your long journey, but with all the knowledge of how you got there, and maybe with an inkling on how to proceed. For more, you’ll have to read the zine yourself.
We encourage your character to take something from each prompt, and allow it to spill over for future use, whether that’s an insight, a piece of tech, a helpful ally, or even a consequence of your previous actions. Allow your prompts and improvisation to compound, to create something utterly unique for your game. Unlike real life, you’re not trying to evade drama here.
If friction begins to occur between your story, and our prompts, make it make sense, we believe in you. Ultimately your journal is the only record of your story that matters!
Your own transmission:
Whether you use a pen and paper, a computer, or anything in-between, it’s important to record it.
You have to remember what you did, in order for you to later create the rewards and consequences of your actions, or inaction. By the end of the game, at journey's end, you will have a rich, tumultuous, star spanning story, crafted by you, and unique to you. We’d love for you to share your own story with us, and the community, in whatever format you wish. Just imagine how great your own audio recordings could be!
Setting the mood:
Get everything you need together, clear a few free hours in your schedule, get comfy, dim the lights and find some good ambient music. Perhaps the tried-and-true synth score, or perhaps you could boldly go with the theremin. An acoustic guitar may suit you fine as well. We pulled from many inspirations for this game. From Sci-Fi to Shakespeare, from Westerns, to Homer’s Odyssey. Make the process your own, as long as it helps you get in the headspace of star-crossed lover, willing to traverse the cold dark of space.
We’d recommend completing the game in as few sittings as possible for you. It's best to keep the momentum and mood going, with as few interruptions as possible. Don’t let the journaling bring your game to a crawling pace, use our prompts and write freely, and from the heart.
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