BOW: A Solarpunk Card Game

BOW: A Solarpunk Card Game

Take to the seas and dive for ancient relics in this card game for one or two players.
£6,534 🎉
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Diver discovering a relic by WillowsQuest
The Shoaling Festival is held once a year, where the strongest divers take to the Gasillica Ocean in search of relics from a sunken civilization. Their voyage is arduous and many fail to even make it beyond the harbour. If they do reach the open ocean, unpredictable weather, dangerous sea life, and even rival competitors can leave a boat in pieces along with the dream of returning to a hero's welcome.

BOW is a solo or duet solarpunk tabletop card game using the Carta system by Peach Garden Games. You play competitors in the annual Shoaling Festival, freediving for Old-World relics on your way to victory. Make it to four markers before your rivals to be crowned the winner and secure trade for your community for the year ahead.

As with Dragon Dowser - our first journaling card game - BOW evokes Studio Ghibli's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1985) and the beautiful indie video game, ABZU by Giant Squid. Though you'll face many challenges during your voyage across the Gasillica ocean, the overall tone is of an optimistic future.

Mockups of rulebook & cards

The race will challenge you in four distinct ways, each associated with a different playing card suit. The suits also represent rival competitors who will do all they can to finish the race ahead of you.

Associated with the people  of the archipelago. Associated with the sea life  of the Gasillica Ocean. Associated with the relics of  an ancient civilisation. Associated with ocean and  weather conditions.

The Carta system involves traversing a spread of 24 playing cards (6x4 grid) answering journaling prompts as you go. Your aim is to uncover four markers (Aces) and finish with more Old-World relics than your rivals. Journaling will have you answer a series of questions to describe a story of your voyage.

You begin the game with 10 seafaring tokens, which will be increased or reduced depending on the cards you reveal. The lower the number on the playing card, the greater the drain on your tokens—revealing a 2 of any suit can prove calamitous, whilst a King is the ultimate boon!

The fate of your rivals also depends on the route you take across the spread. When you lose tokens, they gain them, so races will always feel closely fought. However, you have the added advantage of boosting your tokens whenever you discover a marker.

As with Dragon Dowser, to truly embrace the game as a creative writing tool, we're encouraging players to expand their storytelling between card reveals and prompts. For more on this, see Adam Eason's Dungeonator blog in the media section.

Sessions can be played as a single race or over multiple legs, and players can alternate between journaling and tracking tokens.

Once you reach the final marker, if crowned the victor, you will add one final journal entry. You could write about the reaction from the crowd, your sponsor gloating or even your family’s pride.

The beauty of journaling games is in the sheer variety of potential stories. With 48 cards, each displaying open-ended questions, every play through will feel unique and every experience distinctly personal. For example, in one session, a pod of dolphins could lead you to a relic. Whilst in another, the same pod might fend off pirates while you’re underwater. Whatever your answers to the prompts, BOW is certain to ignite the imagination!

Diver designs by WillowsQuest

To ensure BOW reaches as many people as possible, we have decided to crowdfund through Backerkit. This is our first time using the platform so we’re keeping our fingers crossed. The project is 90% complete, but we still need to cover the final interior illustrations, professional editing and layout, and of course the printing. Because we wish to get the project to you as swiftly as possible, we have decided not to push for Stretch Goals. We estimate a fulfilment date of November 2024.

Sea Creatures sticker set by WillowsQuest

The game is the spiritual successor to CRiT Awards nominated Dragon Dowser and set in the same world of Praelar. You don’t need to have played the first game to enjoy BOW, but if you decide to pick up both, we have offered a reduction in the price.

We also have a top tier which includes a beautiful custom d6 by artisan dice maker, RuneFable. It can be used as your player token, but also glows in the dark to represent the bioluminescence of the deep ocean.

Note: All physical tiers include the rulebook and custom card deck.

Scroll down for shipping estimates based on our previous crowdfunds. We’ve decided to use Standart Impressa in Lithuanian for our printing. They have a great reputation and are used by Free League Publishing and some trusted peers in the industry.

PDF BOW Softcover BOW PDFs BOW & Dragon Dowser Softcovers BOW & Dragon Dowser Softcovers BOW & Dowser + Dice

Dragon Dowser Mock-ups

Custom artisan d6 by RuneFable

UK   EU - friendly US  Australia/NZ  Rest of World

IMPORTANT: We are currently unable to ship to the following countries: Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Brazil - we apologise to potential backers in these locations.

This project is a collaboration with TTRPGkids as part of BackerKit's Cross Collab program! We've launched our projects on the same day, and if you back both of our games at the physical pledge tier or higher, you'll get a set of free digital game copies from some of our other works! This includes Solar Mech Squad, Critter Mech Squad, and Ranger Mech Squad from TTRPGkids and Dragon Dowser from us! After backing here, if you back A Construct's Nature, we'll be notified by BackerKit that you've supported both and will be added to our bonus rewards list.


Dicebreaker's Best Solo RPGs of 2023

Dicebreaker preview BOW
review Dragon Dowser
Wintry D&D video review & playthrough
Almost Bedtime Theatre podcast review & actual play Dragon Dowser
Cosy Cauldron review Dragon Dowser
The Dungeonator fiction blog for Dragon Dowser

Rich Oxenham (he/him) is the founder and designer at Hatchlings Games. He earned a creative writing MA and went on to try the life of a novelist. Rich, however, is a born extrovert and before long was craving collaboration. With games like this, he has the opportunity to work with creatives he admires and fulfil a dream of making something his daughters would be proud of.

Kathryn Oxenham (she/her) got lured into Dungeons & Dragons by Rich and has never looked back. A born geek, she attended theatre school as a child and found it helped with extreme shyness. When she's not acting as referee to their young daughters, she provides writing and admin for Hatchlings.

Ashley 'WillowsQuest' Grace (she/her) is an illustrator, character designer, and lover of all things fantasy and fairytale. She has worked with indie game devs we deeply admire and her work has proved indispensable to our projects. Ashley was the art lead for Dragon Dowser and has provided the cover and interior designs for BOW.

Alex Connolly (he/him) is an Australian designer and illustrator with a penchant for hard surfaces, weird worlds and black coffee. He is married with three kids, one dog and lives next to a volcano in Southern Japan. Alex has provided the art for our custom card deck.

Emily Entner (she/her) is a graphic designer who finds layout especially satisfying. Her other creative endeavours include bookbinding, collage, and illustration. Find her work at her website.

RuneFable are artisan dice makers run by Myles Garstang (he/him). Myles has always loved bringing stories to life and now gets to live his passion crafting beautiful handmade dice to represent your characters and worlds. Find his products here.

If you believe that this project is not in compliance with BackerKit’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Service, you can file a report by sending a message via this link: Report this project
Cross Collab Project

Backing this project and its cross collab will unlock free rewards.