So everyone who reads this is probably going to write something about the D&D Wizard spell find familiar. That’s what I was planning too, but I want to write something different instead.
So instead let’s talk about the familiar and the uncanny.
Some of what I bring up here might tie in with other posts later in the series (Mystery is probably a good tie in!) but I thought I’d get this out there now.
The uncanny is simply the familiar in a new context, but the point is that it’s a context that makes us feel uncomfortable.
The best example I can think of was going to my first wake here in Ireland.
Open casket, a woman I’d worked with for years. She’d been sick the last time I saw her, and that was a weird feeling enough, but she was still having a conversation then.
Now she wasn’t.
This was… unsettling. And upsetting.
But the experience was part of a lovely send-off for her.
How do you throw this into a roleplaying game?
Alternate realities, strange dream sequences, distinctly alien cultures, even describing a strange feeling when experiencing something as commonplace (in RPGs) as telepathy.
Your internal monologue suddenly changes and starts using your friend’s voice, or your mother’s, or it’s still you but it sounds different. Can you imagine an echo to an internal monologue? A strain like it’s being forced to say other words?
(OK, I know that’s only how some people experience inner monologues, but it would freak me out!)
You’re in a heaving metropolis, it’s late and you’re looking for your lodgings but you’ve gotten lost. All the streets look the same.
You somehow find yourself in a marketplace, but you’re a lone Human among a throng of Elves.
This is a market, there are signs in a language you understand, for products you know. There are also other signs, and strange things in piles, and smells that somehow hurt the back of your eyes and make your ears itch when you get a strong whiff.
Everyone is staring at you. Some are smiling.
Some have fangs.
Everything is normal, everyday. You wake up, you eat, you go to work in the mine, you return exhausted and eat before going back to your bunk.
It’s always been like this.
But was it always like this yesterday? You’re not quite sure. Maybe?
The meal is always the same, but you don’t remember refilling the pot or stoking the hearth.
The work is always the same, and you always see the same faces around you. But can you actually remember the facial features? What do they look like? Do they even have names?
Even something as commonplace as stepping through a portal to a world where right is left and left is right, but otherwise the same.
Going to meet people you know exist, but who look subtly different; going home to find the door opens in the other direction and the room is laid out in the opposite way; finding you have to go and buy speciality right-handed scissors to do a simple task.
I might have to use a lot of these somewhere.