Marooned on an Archipelago in Archipelago

Tonight we played Archipelago by Matthijs Holter as a group of people who wash up on an archipelago of small islands, many having mysteriously appeared on, above, or near the islands from somewhere quite distant. Our cast starts with Siobhan Donaghy, a magical researcher and minor internet celebrity who has come to our island believing it to be someplace else. She is joined by Flora Madison who swam to the island after the cruise ship where she was the racket pro sank nearby. One day while swimming in the surf, she rescues Captain Mitch Leonard whose small passenger boat also sank as it neared the island.

Mitch is grieving for his lost crew and boat and only beginning to acclimate to the island when his cousin Fisher Walker, a former clown-in-training falls from the sky. He’d been skydiving over Arizona before he landed outside the slapdash Tiki bar the group had set up on the island. They decide that they must explore the island more including the inactive volcano they jokingly refer to as Machu Pichu.

Map of two islands connected by a sand bar and surrounded by Archipelago cards and phrases.

Siobhan and Fisher explore the foot of the volcano using her magical research equipment including a scanning device. Mysteriously, in Fisher’s hands, the device allows him to digitally capture whatever he points it at. He manages to digitize mangoes, a magically crafted rhubarb, and flaming lava lizards at Pichu. He starts calling the device his PokeDex and begins randomly capturing things wherever he goes.

When Jay Moscowicz, a tech entrepreneur whose web platform specializing in reaction videos——made him billions, cruised up to the island on his yacht to survey his most recent acquisition, the group think they might be saved. But when Jay, Mitch, and Flora try to motor away in his boat, things start to disappear including the helm used to steer the ship. Rather than blunder forward blindly, they return crestfallen to the island, which according to readings they took before abandoning the ship appears to be in a different location than what they had thought, a location called 47-G12.

One day a sand bar appears on one end of the island and Fisher, Flora, and Mitch cross it to find a smaller island and the ruins of an outdoor theater with the words “47 sons and 12 daughters” written on the side in Spanish. Fisher keeps putting more things into his PokeDex and reveals some of what he’s captured so far, including a wrecked ship and a ship’s helm wheel. But inside the theater, they find a giant rooster that turns on Flora when she tries to tame it, chasing her to the top of the ruins. Suddenly, a traffic helicopter crashes nearby and Fisher captures their camera having already snagged the chopper’s stabilizing rotor.

Back at the main island, Jay explores and marvels at its beauty and splendor; he begins to wonder if leaving is so important. On cliffs overlooking a beautiful cove, he finds a trickle of fresh water coming through the rocks. Later he goes with Siobhan to the volcano, where he learns that his assistant has disappeared. She convinces him that the volcano is the center of the magical nexus that is key to reconnecting them to the real world and getting them all home.

While Flora sits trapped atop the theater wall, Fisher is catching and releasing so many things in such rapid succession from his PokeDex, that the device’s sounds cascade into a musical crescendo unlike anything any of them have ever heard. Mitch is beginning to understand the ways of the island, and after he speaks of it with reverence and gratitude, a pillar of sand rises up to rescue Flora from her perch. “The Island provides” becomes his mantra.

When the crew reunite, Flora sends Siobhan into the theater to touch the rooster, saying it will be the best workout of her life. And Jay gets help from Fisher and his PokeDex to dig out the trickle into a sustained fountain of fresh water that perhaps they can tap to survive for longer on the island. In the climax, Siobhan takes them all into the well of Machu Pichu, draws a glyph into the dirt, lines the team around it with incense, and chants an incantation. At first it seems her ritual has failed, but then the glyph sinks into the ground and the lava begins to flow into the markings. As the rest of the well begins to fill with lava, everyone runs to safety outside the volcano, but each must now come to terms with the prospect of a lengthy stay on these islands.