Get two or three players. One player is Nature. Nature draws an island. Do not name it. Other players are Castaways. Name them. Everyone adds a good thing, a bad thing, and a mixed blessing to the map. Take turns. Set expectations. Each Castaway gets one bottle of water and two cups. Castaways should have no other refreshment nearby. Nature sets scenes, asks questions. Castaways say what they do, think, have, want. Nature is harsh, indifferent, unfair, red in tooth and claw, black in night and storm. Castaways want to survive, improve, escape. Both: Change the map; Negotiate. When Castaways need to overcome an obstacle, they state a desired outcome and pour at least a finger measure of water into a cup. Nature states an alternate outcome and pours a different volume of water into the other cup. Here, Nature is fair, balanced, rational, but rarely obvious. The Castaway chooses an outcome by drinking one cup. Nature pours the unchosen cup back into the bottle. Castaways may drink from their bottle or offer to share at any time. When the bottle of water runs out, the Castaway has three days to live. Narrate an epilogue: Rescue, survival, death… something else?
I have to thank my various playtesters, but specifically my wife Catherine Krilov and my pal Garren McKelvey, both of whom were indispensable during the creation of this game. A serious tip-o-the-hat to Ryan Ó Laoithe’s All Fall Down, which directly influenced my idea to use water as a limited-resource mechanic.
Obviously, Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson are direct literary influences, as is The Martian. Let’s even shout out to Tom Hanks’ movie Cast Away. A high five goes to Avery McDaldno’s A Quiet Year for making me always think about changing maps in RPGs.
I’m really looking forward to writing the expanded edition/director’s commentary on this one. There’s a lot of space to explore here, and I feel the mechanics and theme are very strong and elegant. I’m extremely proud of this creation, and I hope you enjoy playing my game.
[NB: Please let me edit this before publication. - MDK]