A downloadable game

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A solo  roleplaying game exploring violence, woe, and dissociation | Part I of the Western Cantos, a poetry RPG cycle

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Play a ghostly Bandit
in the grim supplement, DARK HIGHWAY

Play Part II of the Western Cantos
Moonblind , a poetry RPG for 2 players

Play Part III of the Western Cantos
The Swallowtail, a Western love poetry RPG for 3

Play Gentleman Pirate
A gay seafaring hack, inspired by Our Flag Means Death

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They call you the Gentleman Bandit, because no one knows your name. They call you a monster, a villain, a dealer of death. 

But they don’t know you.

Not your Heart, your Poet’s Heart filled with rage or filth or the expansiveness of True Love; not your Grieving Heart loosed over a chasm, making a sound like the sorrow of wolves as it plummets toward wet river stones, cracked bones left to bleach.

In this writing-focused RPG, you personify the eponymous Gentleman Bandit to write a 13-line poem you'll leave for the dead — and the ones who discover them. Card draws guide the content of each line; optional dice rolls add poetic devices to further shape the experience and ratchet the difficulty. 

Rules for multiplayer versions — inspired by the Exquisite Corpse style of group poetry writing — are included for both in-room and online settings. 

A Poker Play ruleset supports replayability with recommended fictional positions for your Bandit, each corresponding to the poker hand(s) you hold at the end of a round.

Your Tools

  • Writing implements of your choice
  • A well-shuffled deck of 54 playing cards, Jokers intact
  • One six-sided die (optional)

Mobile and print PDFs included. Layout and graphic design by John Harper, creator of Lasers & Feelings, Blades in the Dark, and AGON.

CategoryPhysical game
Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars
(52 total ratings)
Authorallison arth
GenreRole Playing
TagsFirst-Person, Gothic, journaling, lyric, Narrative, poetry, Singleplayer, Western, writing


Buy Now$7.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $7 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Gentleman Bandit by Allison Arth | Mobile (PDF) 3 MB
Gentleman Bandit by Allison Arth | Print Layout (PDF) 829 kB


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I'd never written a poem before.

Yet now I have one of a brother's betrayal of his family and subsequent death at the hands of his brother and soon to be gentleman thief. Who despite a gunshot wound could stagger over to his drawing table to quickly write out a cheesy rhyming eulogy to leave on his brother's body.

I think I rather like this game.


oh I love this, thank you for sharing! Happy writing 💙


got this in the racial justice bundle but only recently am looking into little rpgs like this. im having a quiet night and wanted to check this one out. im so so glad i did. the rules are very simple but boy do they pack a punch. i found myself cursing out loud several times at the implications of some of the cards i drew (and my rolls on the diction list mode) and how well they all went together to flesh out the character i was writing about. i run a wild west campaign and wrote from the pov of one of the "evil gods". it made me realize things about the character i never would have thought about otherwise. i was shocked how cohesive the final poem ended up being. absolutely recommend this, my brain is very happy now. lots of fun and very well put together!!


What a treat to read this. So glad you found GB helpful in exploring your character. Enjoy & happy versifying 🤠


Got this in a bundle and stopped playing games for a long while. I regret that it took me so long to play this.

I'm a big fan of writing poetry and have a nonzero amount of history knowledge on this setting. I actively seek a challenge when I play, and I get that challenge. It's a freaking blast. 

Modes are great challenges, but they are just that: challenges. The game already demands your brain power, and a new poet or player could really struggle with it. It's like an "Advanced Mode" toggle. I would suggest newer poets go easy on themselves and not feel bad if they don't know jack about meter. 

As opposed to starting a new round fresh, I use Poker Play to make the next round a continuation of the previous. Craft an ongoing story, in a way, across multiple different poems. Another way to add yet more depth to the experience of an already rich and flavorful game. 

I plan on trying this with others in the future, but for now, the solo play is great. I'm having a wonderful time. 


Thank you! So glad you're having a blast! <3


This is delightful. I got this through a bundle, and it took me a long time to really look at it, because "western" is not one of my normal genres. But it works so well! 

It's short, but it packs a lot into a few pages. And it would be a delightful supplement to a standard western-setting TTRPG, something for players to do in between game sessions. 

I like flexible game materials, and this one works great as a standalone, would be easy to fold into a normal group game, and would also work as the core setting for another game - either with a single Gentleman Bandit character, or a group of them. (Potentially, leaving messages to each other through poetry that they know will be published in a newspaper.)

For newer players: If you don't have much practice with poetry, I recommend skipping the "Mode" option where you randomly select a poetic device in advance. It's hard enough to write a line about "Freedom, addressing the question What is your darkest truth?" without also trying to either make it rhyme with what you already have or making sure it connects properly to the lines you haven't written yet.


Thank you for this kind review; I love the idea of various Bandit's leaving messages to one another via a local newspaper. <3

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I bought this 2 years ago, finally played it tonight.


Played blind back-and-forth with 2 people. Expected interleaved “poems in parallel”. Got surprising synergies and juxtapositions.

Pure. Effing. Magic.


So pleased to hear this account, thank you! ✨


Will there be community copies? I wish I could afford this.


I found this game to be the perfect balance between the vague looseness that allows for freedom of creativity and the strict form that creates a true poetic challenge! I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity afforded by such a simple set of rules. The designers have set the tone beautifully, giving just the right amount of inspiration in the poetic pre-game blurb, and then leaving the rest to Lady Luck. As a lover of poetry and the Western genre, I am hooked!

Thank you! So glad you enjoyed ... may your versifying continue apace!


This game is beautifully made and a lot of fun to play! For a first foray into solo games for me, as well as poetry games (though I love writing poetry), I adored it.

So glad you enjoyed it!


Dense and flavorful, this is a game about composing a poem for a person you have just killed on the road. And also you are the kind of highwayman that people romanticize in poetry.

It's very cleanly designed, the layout is excellent, and the illustrations fit in perfectly with the subject and tone.

The bulk of the game is just writing lines of poetry, and there's an optional challenge mode that allows you to randomize restrictions like rhyme scheme and meter, but at the end of the day if you really don't want to write poetry, playing this game is probably not for you.

Reading it, however, might still be. The game is clear and direct with its rules, but whenever it gets the chance to do fluff, it unleashes with some extremely genre appropriate not-quite-verse-but-I'd-struggle-to-figure-out-what-else-to-call-it.

Gentleman Bandit is a joy to read, and also viable as a party game (although admittedly it's the kind of party where someone writes the first draft of Frankenstein.)

If you write poetry or have who friends do, or if you want some material to get you in character for your next weird west or hellfire western game, I'd encourage picking this up.


Thank you for this review! The Frankenstein reference is gold. 😁 


I love that you have a mobile layout for this! What a great idea, especially for portable solo games!

Thanks so much! Huge credit to John Harper, who did the layout. Glad you're enjoying it. :)