I’m having such a good time right now playtesting a journaling game I designed. It’s called Dandelion Puff. It’s about you as your approximate self living between two realities while they’re in near conjunction. I wrote it for Laurie Burkett’s Bohemian Oracle deck, which she’s currently Kickstarting.
You turn cards from the deck and interpret them as happenings in one or the other of the two realities and interactions with characters in them. At times you might have to choose between rewriting events you wrote for prior cards, changing what happened, or refusing to make a change, but when you refuse it indicates an attachment to that reality that determines which of the two you end up in when the conjunction ends.
As a game played as your approximate self it features a lot of bleed in and crossover of characters from other games you’ve played, like I wrote in The Ink That Bleeds. But when I’ve shared examples with people, even ones who’ve read The Ink That Bleeds, they’re sometimes surprised at just how porous your unconscious mind’s reality actually is in a game. So here’s some of my most recent play of Dandelion Puff.
In a prior game I designed, Where the Realms Kiss (which I’ve playtested but haven’t published yet), I met a woman artist from a parallel reality. The game is about meeting someone from a parallel reality who knows a version of you from there and who tells you things about yourself and what you can and should be doing with yourself, and also about the things you tell them about themself. We were very drawn to each other, but the game’s conjunction of worlds ends quickly. Later I met her ghost in another game (Pilgrimage of the Sun Guard, by Amanda P.), decades after she’d died, and she encouraged me to find a way to go back in time to her reality and be with her. And then in still another game I figured out a way, but it only lasted for two days. Since then I’ve mostly thought we wouldn’t be together, and I’ve done lots of other things and had other relationships.
One of them is with a woman named Lindsley. I met her at a local park among a grouping of rocks on a hill where I’d gone to write in my journal when she’d just exited there a world of her own making, exhausted and hungry. At the time, I’d tried to play a series of different journaling games and hadn’t managed to get swept up in any of them and I couldn’t figure out why. We talked as she ate my lunch, and she offered to take me to her world she’d made, which she was frustrated with, and I accepted.
Her world was definitely a disaster. She’d made it as a fantasy escape for herself, with a group of friends she could hang out with and have adventures. But the world was plagued by wizards who’d entered it from outside and were oppressing everyone. And she didn’t feel very connected to the group of friends she’d made for herself in it.
She’s probably more like me than anyone I’ve met in any game. I’ve met artists, but she’s a worlder. Her desire for relationships, her intentionality about her mental health, and in other ways she’s so much like me. We were drawn to each other, but ended up going different ways. Her primary concern was feeling she might be responsible for all the atrocities the wizards were committing in her world, that she had made the wizards as the maker of the world. But on her path to figure herself out she’s killed by the natural world (in Everything That Happens Before You Die Alone In the Wilderness, by Rhiannon N. Daly). Though then she travels with Charon in the underworld reflecting on things (in The Ferryman, by Armanda H.), and exits the underworld confident she’s not responsible for the actions of the wizards. She’s exhilirated by that, renewed, having survived death, and feels very self-possessed. And when she does exit the underworld it’s at the same park we first met, at a time when I’m again there writing in my journal. And it’s from then we start spending time together.
So in Dandelion Puff currently, in an otherworld, I met another woman artist named Carla. We had a nice date. We talked about art, tarot, life, games, witchcraft, traveling between worlds when they’re in conjunction, and past lovers, including the first artist woman I’d had the romance with who was now in the underworld. And I wrote about Carla and me having sex, in more detail than I’ve written about any prior sex playing a journaling game.
But for various reasons I’m not sure I can handle being with her. She has a profound, life affecting disability, and lots of emotional trauma, and oppressive night visions. She’s awesome and talented and I like her. I don’t know. Her aspirations are also very small town, and Lindsley’s are more grandiose like mine.
Well, anyway, I turn the card for my next turn, and it puts me out of Carla’s reality and back in my own. Though it was just a day for me with Carla, three weeks have passed for Lindsley. She has a guy staying with her now, helping her work on the guidebook she’s writing for her sister’s AI art tarot deck, so when I show up I end up on the couch. And I’m frustrated that I probably missed my chance with Lindsley. But also this guy is an ass, and Lindsley is self-possessed and smart about herself enough not to put up with it for long, so maybe Lindsley and I will figure out a path together. I really want to.
And then I turn the next card and write to find out what it represents. And what I write is how in Carla’s world I’m gone, and she decides she needs to not have me in her head. She needs to do something to fully get beyond any thoughts and feelings she has for me, because she’s certain, even beyond the fact I’m gone in another world, that like all the other guys before, I’m not going to choose her. So she takes a big upright piece of plywood in the alley behind her studio, paints a doorway on it, and enters the underworld, and finds the woman artist I’d told her about.
“Do you know Paul, who travels worlds?” she asks.
“Yes! You know him? He’s not here.”
“I know he’s not. Yes, I know him. What would you do if I could get you out of here? Would you try to be with him?”
“Okay. I think I can get you out. Let’s go.”
“Wait. You came to get me out if I would try to be with him?”
“Yes. I lit a penis candle and it summoned him to my world. And it made me like him and we had sex and I need to get him out of my head. I think if I get you out it’ll break the spell for me.”
“The candle made you like him and sleep with him? I never lit a candle and I liked him and slept with him.”
“We’ll see. Let’s go.”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
“I’m a huge fan of you by the way.”
“Ha ha. You’re an artist?”
“I want to see your stuff.”
“I’ll show you.”
And then when they’re out they squirt lighter fluid on the doorway and burn it in the alley.
Holy crap what a disaster for me.