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 complicated clockwork of all kind, such as Martin Molin's 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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Hey! We did a play-and-pass with this for the Halloween episode of our podcast. We got 6 people together for it and had a blast!




Hi! I saw reviews of this on the clock app and while I would love to send a message on the app that used to tweet, I refuse to use it because evil overlord ownership and end stage capitalism etc. If you add community copies at some point, I’d like to play this. It seems like a fun journaling game. :)


My email address is Sharyna at gmail dot com, if so. 

yeah we've been trying to figure out a new platform for people to DM me when community copies are out, mostly because i don't wanna put my email since itd be buried. I'll shoot you one tho!

Understandable. Maybe a google drive signup or something. 


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Hi adira! i've seen reviews from the machine all over the place :o, but i have no experience in this type of games. is it possible to get some community copies? sorry to bother you 🙏

Feel free to email me or send me a DM on Twitter


Hello, Adira! Firstly, congratulations on being mentioned in the 5 best solo RPGs you can play by yourself by Dicebreaker! Hopefully this will lead to more sales and so, perhaps, a refresh of the Community Copies, as I have a friend in need who I am trying to get into solo TTRPGS. Thanking you in advance!

Thanks for letting us know about the article! Fen and I have just refreshed the community copies!

Not a problem! Thank you for the refresh. I have let my friend know. Much appreciated!


Is there a chance to get some Community copies? I tried to DM on twitter but I can't, and I don't know why. I sent you an email, but I don't know if you read it! 

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oh lemme check my email! and if anybody else is reading this don't hesitate to email me for a free copy of the game for any reason

I've been hearing wonders about this game and would love to play, but finances are tight at present... Any chance I could snag a community copy in the near future?

yep! send me a DM on Twitter and I can provide one

Oh sheesh, it's been awhile since I logged into that... But sure, I'll hit you up over there. Thank you in advance!


This is such a fascinating concept for a game! I'm currently falling down the rabbit-hole of solo (or solo-adjacent, anyways!) games, and I'm definitely going to try and grab a copy when I'm more financially capable. Leaving a comment just for easier remembrance!


I just bought the game and am gathering the first people to play with - however I do not understand how to fold the paper :D The Machine seems to be the frontal page but the "You should know" page is next to that and called "the back page" elsewhere in the sheet. Am I missing something, is it a paper folding question or should I cut the pieces up and staple them together? 

If you print it double sided and then fold into a 3 sided pamphlet, with title page on the front, it should match up AOK


Really like the game so far! Quick question, would it be possible to get a printable version for DIN A4 format? US-Legal/Letter size is kind of a pain to print outside of the US :)

Mainly because I want to have it being printed on some nice thick paper by a professional. Also I am going to share some pics of our notebook once I got everything prepared!


Most professionals should be able to cut the paper to size no problem, but Fen and I are considering doing an extra layout for Standard euro sizes when we have the time. Excited to see your pictures!


Bought it and love the idea! I've started my journey today, and I already have the next 2 players lined up. Can't wait to see what this will turn into.


Hi adira I bought this game earlier today and really like it, 1 question: what happens if I draw a joker? 


Oh! Fen and I assumed people would remove Jokers since most card games don't use them unless specifically called out. Like there's no jokers in most Poker hands? So i guess... do whatever you want haha


Hello! I love the idea of this game, particularly in these hard to get a group together times. Is there a limit to the number of players or is it a free flowing and endless cycle of despair?

No limit! Play with as few or as many as your heart desires


I really loved the game <3 i just bought it and translated it to portuguese so i can play with my friends here in Brazil, and i would like to donate the translated version to support the game, so you can sell it for portuguese speakers too. And it's good translation. Not google translation. hahahaha. How can i send it to you?

I'm from Brazil, too! Been considering buying this game for a few weeks now

awesome! i think that really worth it. se comprar, me manda uma comprovação, que eu compartilho contigo a tradução que fiz. ;-)

Wow, good work! I'm from Brazil too and waiting anxiously for a community copy to drop by here xD

I just put up more copies from the last bit of sales! Grab one!


I hope this game makes a huge success, it's really one of a kind! You did a magnificent work!

Love for us all,
stay safe!

Oh thanks! I appreciate the donation but am unsure if we can put it up for sales. Game translation can be a tricky business.

i understand. but can i share with the people that bought (or got for free) a original copy? I can see some brazilians poping up around xD

yeah of course!

Sweet! :-)

If you want someone to do a revision for you, just for checking things out, I can! Just send me, someway.

I'm not an expert, but I'm certified by the MET Test and I also try to be a writer for some time now, if it helps. xD


great! e-mail me at robson.ebert@gmail.com


I'm totally in love with this game, I'm a fountain pen lover and every morning during breakfast I draw a card and write some story. I've got a question: after the third ace or face card the downfall occours in this event or the event is completed and the next one will be my downfall? (it's a mere curiosity, I'm a "follow-the-rules" fan :))

Glad you're enjoying it!!

Rules as written it would happen with the next entry to give you a little time to set it up, but there's no reason that you couldn't do it in that same entry. That is now an official "alternate rule" :P


Great, thanks for the answer!! I've always ended up on the "event after the third skull event" but with the actual story I will do a sudden ending!! Thanks a lot! :D

Hey Adria and Fen, 

I'm really excited to play this with my brother!  I have two questions before we start. 

1) Do you think a Tarot deck would work instead of a deck of playing cards? I wanted to make sure there is no game mechanic that I'm overlooking before trying this idea. Keep in mind a deck of cards has 52 vs the 78 in a traditional tarot deck. 

I'm thinking of using the themes outline in each minor arcana card instead of the suit themes listed in the rules. They are also accompanied by a number, ace, and face card so it can keep in line with the mechanic of what  type of event happens. I think the only issue is with the major arcana (The Fool, Death, the Tower, etc) as they don't follow the playing card deck layout. Perhaps those can be ignored or maybe those can be an unrelated entry of the person's life instead of the machine.  

2) Is the physical characteristics of the machine different on each handoff? I imagine there are details left in the journal of what the machine looks like from the previous player but do we need to keep that continuity? 

Thanks in advance!


1. Yeah, you could probably hack it to make a Tarot deck work sure!

2. That is up to whoever is writing the entry! Some games have had the machine be very similar each time, with one person building on the work of the previous, and others have had a variety of machines but all still coming from the central obsession that the game revolves around.


Hi there Adira! I recently bought The Machine and am currently preparing to play it with some of my friends, but we have a question that I feel needs to be answered; is it possible for any of the characters to finish the machine, or would that ruin the premise of it? 

So when Fen and I were writing the game, the continual downfall and failure was incredibly important to us. If you decide together with your friends to tell a different story though please let us know how it goes!! Someone finishing the machine is a wildly different game for that player in particular.


I found this game via a mention on youtube from the folks on Dicebreaker. They supplied alink and I came on over and purchased a copy.

I also found a random card generator on line and sat down and gave the game a whirl. I am reporting...LOVED IT! Thanks for such a creative way to get the imagination going. 

I have passed on the journal to a friend of mine as I drew three face cards in the first 8 days! Yeah crazy bad luck...

Glad you had fun!!


Is this a game that one could play alone? Or is it something that has to be passed on? I don't know anyone who does creative writing, but I love this idea and think it would make a fantastic writing prompt/series sort of thing to get my muse going. I just want to make sure it's something I could actually use before scraping the money up for it.


Yeah you could definitely play it alone! You can "pass" the journal to a new character, making it a series just with yourself


Awesome! thank you so much! I'll def start saving what i can then, this looks like a fantastic spiral into madness that can really get the muse a churning. :D 


Found out about this last night, and was immediately drawn into it!

Similar to someone else, I have decided to start a post thread about my story! Rather than passing the journal along, I am going to create new characters for each pass time.

I have created a quick site that will document the journal of the Machine! Check it here

I also have a twitter I plan to use to promote and any help would be greatly appreciated!  Machine Twitter

I'd be interested for you to continue!


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!

This awesome!!! Mind if I share it on Twitter?


Thanks 😊

Please do!

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!

Would you be fine with someone creating a subreddit for The Machine?


Yeah go right ahead!

Cool, thank you for your permission! Here is a link to it for anyone interested


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.

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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!!