A downloadable game

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The curse snuck up on you, and now you can’t escape. You’re not sure how or when it began, but every waking moment, you feel the machine call to you.

Behind its words are music, beckoning you to build. The impossible notes echo in your mind, and you know what you must do. You can see it now, this manifold instrument.

You will complete this infernal machine or die trying.

A serial journal roleplaying game for as many players as you wish by Adira Slattery and Fen Slattery. Gameplay happens across days, weeks, or even months. Only one person plays this game at a time, but many people play it in sequence.

To play this game, you will need a small, lightweight notebook that is easy and inexpensive to mail. As part of play, you will mail this notebook and the pamphlet containing the game rules to the next player. You will also need a deck of standard playing cards; these are not passed between players.

This game is inspired by our love for Martin Molin and his Marble Machine X construction process. We recommend his visit to the Speelklok Museum for inspiration.

This game has themes of inevitable death, obsession, mental illness, physical and emotional self-harm, isolation, depression, fixation, and futility that might be difficult for some players.


Buy Now$5.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $5 USD. You will get access to the following files:

the machine.pdf 1 MB

Community Copy

Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Free Community Copy

Each copy of this game you buy donates a copy to someone else for free! If you are unable to purchase it at this time, please claim one of these free copies for the community. If no more community copies exist and you wish to claim one because you are experiencing hardship, please DM @adiraslattery on Twitter.


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I've started the journey into the machine.

I enjoy the new media, so instead of starting and passing on a notebook, I'm doing a mixed media version on Insta 😊

Available to whoever can decipher the handwriting at https://www.instagram.com/makingthemachine/

Great fun so far!

Excited to get started! 

Is there a subreddit for The Machine or something similar? I would love to actually trade a journal with someone but I'm the only person I know whose into creative writing like this

There isn't one, but you could consider making a thread on the tabletop games community forums here on itch!


Do you think this could work as a shared Google Doc or file on a USB or would that damage the feel or tone too much?  I only ask as my penmanship is so uttery dire (and a likely fellow player's is even worse) that, componded by my dislexia, people have had trouble telling that I wrote in English, no joke.

Needing to change the game for accessibility reasons is always okay. A file on a USB drive sounds lovely, or you could even print out pages and staple them together. Maybe with a typewriter font haha


Hey, I love this! Just a bit curious, what format would you recommend for the journal and the pamphlet? A5? A4?

A4 should work for the pamphlet, it was designed with American 8.5×11 in mind but that's the closest size. The size of the journal is based on how you plan to pass it from player to player, as a large one would make it hard to mail. A5 sounds great to me!


Thanks! It's what I ended up going with.

(1 edit)

Would you consider producing an A4 version of the pamphlet? The aspect ratio of 8.5×11 is slightly different, and I'd love to be able to print it without a margin so that I can fold it without taking scissors to the printout.


Hi! I hope you don't mind a couple of questions...

  • Is the machine supposed to be a musical instrument? There are lots of references to music and notes, but it's not 100% clear whether that's because the machine literally makes music, or instead whether the curse just sounds like music in your head.
  • Is each person supposed to be drawing pictures or diagrams with their entries?

Thanks! Can't wait to start!

- Histrion256

1. The machine definitely shares a lot of characteristics of musical instruments, but the machine could be a lot of things. If you decide not to make it a musical instrument that is AOK! What matters is that you build.

2. Diagrams are not required, but definitely on theme!!