“There is another experience worth mentioning; jamais vu. Its the opposite of deja vu. Instead of feeling extra familiar, thing seem totally unfamiliar. In this case there is too little connection between long-term memory and perceptions from the present. When a person is in this state, nothing they experience seems to have anything to do with the past. They might be talking to a person they know well and suddenly they person seems totally unfamiliar. Their sense of knowing the person, and knowing how to relate to them simply vanishes. A room in which they spend a lot of time suddenly becomes totally novel; everything seems new. Details they will have seen a thousand times suddenly become engaging.”
— from “Deja Vu in Spiritual and Scientific Views”
The stain of death or of a complete and literal breaking of one’s immortal soul ripples through the pond of existence, touching everything for miles and miles. The waves might eventually disappear, leaving the surface looking like it has never been touched by anything before, but the fact remains that something was disturbed.
Cards who have Returned to the universe feel… off, and there’s absolutely no good reason for it. Most times, everything is normal. They went to bed one night and woke up the very next day, like always. Sure, some Cards literally lose time – but upon their Return, they won’t actually be able to tell. They’ll always think that they fell asleep on the 29th of the month and woke up on the 30th when they had actually died on the 25th. No one around them, especially if they’re Sleepers, will be able to tell if anything’s amiss.
The strange will start, perhaps, with auditory or visual hallucinations, as flashes of the truth of things will assert themselves over the Card’s vision. Maybe they’ll hear what people are really thinking rather than what they’re saying. Maybe they’ll see monsters walking among men, or within another man’s shadow. Maybe they’ll feel weird or sick to their stomachs when they’re walking through a place that they, in actuality, lay bleeding out in. Maybe certain words or turns of phrase will invoke memories of their death.
It could get worse than all of that too. They could wake up in the Dark Hour without any idea of what the Dark Hour is. They could meet their Persona in a dream, but be unable to understand what it’s trying to tell them – and eventually meet not their Persona in a dream, but their Persona turned Umbra, out to devour them completely.
We can’t say it enough: no two Cards have the same Pilgrimage. A few steps, however, are same throughout every journey:
- Cards need to remember that they died. Cards usually do this by seeking out the sources of the strange phenomenon around them, and poking at the anomalies in their life until they inevitably come apart.
- Cards must acknowledge that their Persona is a real thing, not simply a disembodied voice. Consistently dismissing one’s Persona as a hallucination during one’s Pilgrimage invites Apathy.
- Cards need to find their real corpse, or what’s left of it. For reasons unknown even to the strongest of Cards, the “original” body of Card isn’t destroyed until the Card recovers it, or until the Card’s Persona goes amok and absorbs her.
A more systematic approach to Pilgrimages together with story hooks and systems that STs can make use of will have its own dedicated section.