Day Seven of #RPGaDay2019: Familiar

Today’s #RPGaDay word prompt is FAMILIAR.

This was a hard one. I considered the obvious — actual familiars called forth from the ether to server a spellcaster; the only slightly less obvious — familiar tropes in tabletop games; and a little less obvious — the familiarity that comes from gaming with the same group of people for years (decades in some cases).

In the end, I have decided to go a different route. Being a writer, I stumble upon ‘motivational quotes’ all the time when I’m researching this or that, and one such that I have held onto seems appropriate today:

“The two most engaging powers
of an author
are to make
new things familiar,

familiar things new.”

While directed at novelists, William Makepeace Thackeray’s missive should be taken to heart by anyone sitting behind a DM screen.


It’s no easy task keeping a game fresh for players with years of experience. As a DM, I often create new threats, treasures, and spells for my players to engage. One thing I like to do is take something they are familiar with and put a new spin on it. Tweak it so that it is new, but enough of the original is there so that it’s somewhat intuitive and, yes, familiar.

When creating new worlds, I tie them to previous campaigns, making old games we enjoyed a part of the new campaign’s ancient history. This way, I get to explore new themes and settings, but there is an opportunity to engage the players with easter eggs and callbacks to sessions that were memorable.

Their old characters become legends.

— Bob Freeman

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