The Crushing Dark By
Madeline Ember

Instruments:Rocks, 1d6, Deck of Cards

Game Description 

You are traveling down, deep into the ocean below in only a small bathysphere. You knew you would never see the surface again once you stepped inside, and so you made your love for your partner known. How long until the darkness claims you?

Game Content Warnings 

These are content warnings that are from the game prompts and are present in all playthroughs.

Playthrough Content Warnings 

These are content warnings specific to this playthrough only.

Game Playthrough

Word Count:      Played: May 7-15, 2023

My partner, my idol, my beloved: Ugur Amato (He, Him)

Entry 1

From Game

My name is ------. It is currently 8am, depth 30 meters, on June 12th, 1951. I am the chief researcher and scientific theorist for this voyage into The Davey’s Grave Abyssal Cleft. This 42,000 ft descent to the bottom may kill me, but before I die, I will do all in my power to record my experience and discoveries. We live in an extraordinary age of wonder. This journey is the culmination of my life’s work. It will be...personal. And as I will have no cause to hide it further, I will be addressing these journal entries to my colleague, Dr. Amato. Because… I love him. There is no one better to further our work. Those who follow after me: hear my story and learn from it. Few pioneers are provided such a privilege to directly address those who come second.

Rocks: 6/6

Kings: 0/4

Entry 2

Roll: 3

9 of Clubs       You brought one book with you and it keeps changing and the characters keep doing horrible things
Queen of Hearts       A colossal squid embraces your bathysphere, it’s curious and non hostile
7 of Clubs       Your skin is itchy and almost scaly Place a stone

Journal entry: #2  Estimated time:9: 15am. Day: 1. Depth: 300 ft.

I took the book Dr Amato gave me with me on this trip. I remember him telling me about it, I’m not really one for poetry, but he spoke so fondly of the verses and I could see the smile in his eyes when he handed it to me. I read them once or twice, they… they were just as he said: full of life, beauty, nature. That’s what I remembered. Something about the verse seems so sinister now. There’s a creeping melancholy, and the meter seems to shift like a heart beat that's quickening and the underlying sorrow is… Maybe it’s because I can’t see anything like that around. 

I’m hardly any deep at all and already I miss the land. I’m trying not to worry about the depths of the drowning or the cold, but it makes my skin itch just thinking about it. I’ve become so nervous I’ve broken out into hives. Down here it could almost like scales in the light. They don’t call it ichthyosis for nothing I suppose… 

But there is beauty down here too! I saw one of the colossal squids! I thought it was going to crush me at first. Its tentacles wrapped around the sphere and it pulled me closer towards its massive body. I don’t know what it was doing so close to the surface, but I am more fortunate than ever it was gentle. 

It cradled the bell in its arms, peering in, almost as though it was looking for something. Like it knew I was in here.  It held on as I descended deeper into the waters before vanishing almost as quickly as it came. 

I was able to take one photo of it before it fled. I hope these will develop beautifully on the surface.

Rocks: 6/6

Kings: 0/4

Entry 3

Roll: 6

King of Hearts       A plesiosaur writhes in a net and you are far too close and it kicks the bathysphere downwards. Place a stone
2 of Clubs       You fidget with something. What is it and how does it keep you calm?
3 of Spades       You realize that an idea or a creature has returned, and you take a desperate action Place a stone

Journal entry: #3  Estimated time: 11: 15am. Day: 1. Depth: 500 ft.

I don’t know when it started. My hands keep creasing the pages, folding the corners, scratching along the edges. I’m going to wear  it thin, but it's all I can do to stop myself from thinking about the depths and the crushing weight of the ocean around me. It stops me from picking at my skin, which has started to bleed. Not from the dry scales or any of the other things, but from my own nails. 

I feel as though this book will not make it back to the surface even if I do. I keep thinking about him and what his face will look like if I do not return. How disappointed he will be. Is it more because I am gone or because my research has sunk with me? How will he sleep at night? How will he carry the guilt? How could he let me do this? Did he not care that I might die? How could he let me get into this contraption? How could he let me sink into the depths? How could he let me do this?  How could he let me do this? How could he? How dare he. 


I’ve torn off some of my own sink it seems. The ichthyosis scales are getting worse and an entire chunk came off of my arm. It feels hard between my fingers, like it could be from an actual fish. I was able to stop the bleeding but it still stings. 

The bathysphere is still holding up despite what happened. A…. creature which resembled a plesiosaur, the extinct, not-dinosaur, known only through its skeleton, attacked the sphere. It was caught in a fishing net, struggling, kicking, scared, alone, cold, far from any other creature.  

It was writhing and lashing out and the sphere was too close. It kicked, or thrashed, or hit the sphere with its tail, sending it deeper into the depths. I’m so lucky. So, so lucky that I am still connected to the air hose and to the cables that hold me. 

From what I can tell nothing has taken any damage, aside from what I have done to myself. I fear things are going to get much worse from here on out.

Rocks: 6/6

Kings: 1/4

Entry 4

Roll: 6

King of Spades       You realize being down here isn’t worth the life you could have had with them. Place a Stone
2 of Diamonds       You are able to turn on the cab light and you are aware of how small you really are.
5 of Diamonds       One of the lights goes out and short circuits and you are sinking helplessly. Place a stone.

Journal entry: #4  Estimated time: 5pm. Day: 1. Depth: 700 ft.

I have never seen true darkness until now. I have never felt so alone and so isolated from all that is around and above me. I do not know how much more of this… 

One of the lights went out on the outside. It fizzed then nearly exploded and shut off all of the lights in the terminal. That instant lasted for longer than any moment in my entire life.  I could hear my breath and my own heart beating. I was at the mercy of the cables and the tubes more than I had ever been before. 

I’m sorry Ugur. There’s nothing down here for us. I never should have volunteered. I regret every moment I’m down here. I regret the life we could have had together. I will never see the sun again. I will never be warm again. 

I did see another light though… When the terminal came back on I checked the wiring and turned on the small light at the top of the dome. I hadn’t realized that it had been out… I wish that it was still out. 

To look into this abyss is to see Nothing in its purest form, and I am nothing here too. Small, and vulnerable, and impossibly insignificant to these waters. 

I have traded myself and my future for this nothing. 

Rocks: 6/6

Kings: 2/4

Entry 5

(Author’s Note: I took a couple days break between playing and in the in between time I hit my desk and knocked over my rock tower and I was unable to stack it as high as the amount of rocks that I have without knocking it over, so I'm going to roll one more day and as soon as it says to place another stone I’ll consider that a tower fall. )

Roll: 6

Jack of Diamonds       Something is cracked and the sphere has been critically damaged. You cannot tell how deep you are. Place a Stone

Tower Fall: Game Over

Journal entry: #5  Estimated time: ?????. Day: ??? Depth: ??????

I am falling. There is nothing to save me. I am falling. I am falling. I do not know how deep or how fast or how I can withstand the pressure. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to believe it. I thought maybe that I would find a way out. Maybe they would bring me up. 

The cable has severed. I heard it snap while I was asleep and the sudden falling knocked my head against the ceiling. 

I’m still falling now and there is no end in sight. 

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”

The Tower before Falling

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