Siliman is a ghost from the Ghostbusters RPG's Tobin's Spirit Guide (RPG).
"Laugh, and the world laughs with you," writes poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox. A century before she penned that line, Friedrich von Schiller observed that "The joke loses everything when the joker laughs hirnself." Those two bits of philosophy opposed as bits of philosophy often are-illustrate the range of mortal reaction to the irrepressible sprite known as Siliman.
The spirit is, believed to have originated in India, possibly as the result of the Black Hole of Calcutta tragedy. Records indicate that one of those that perished on the night of June 20th, 1756 was Johannes Siljermann, a jovial Dutch merchant. The survivors tell that Siljermann tried, even to the last, to cheer his fellow prisoners in their cramped, subterranean cell, telling puns and riddles and repeating bawdy rhymes.
The similarity of moniker and the description of this brave man's personality leads me to conjecture that it is his spirit that travels the ether, trying to bring good cheer and laughter to the darkest moments of mankind.
Certainly, not all men and women respond to laughter in the same way. Many folk find themselves joining in with a merry chuckle even if the conversation is not their own-when they hear laughter, they cannot help but laugh themselves.
On the other extreme, some few individuals of grim mien find mirth beneath their dignity in even the most informal situations. It is this indifferent response that seems to goad the spirit into inducing laughter without care for the consequences-and results in those infrequent sorry tales we have recorded in Siliman's name.
Siliman was not easily discouraged (a trait, it must be noted, that is shared by every would-be humorist this writer knows of), but even the spirit's impressibility had its limits, and the Indian continent cannot have been the most comfortable place for a spirit of mirth and humor.
It is virtually certain that Siliman left India in April of 1875, bound for Portsmouth aboard the H.M.S. Vawdevil. Siliman must have been greatly gratified at the reception it got aboard the Vawdevil, notwithstanding the fact that the crew comprised a captive audience. Buoyed by its newfound success, the spirit went merrily on its way and found the Western world to be truly a land of opportunity.
When we hear a laugh, we instinctively assume that it came from a person-even if we can't see anyone who could have made the sound. From all the accounts written by and about persons who have been visited by Siliman, one intriguing fact becomes clear: the spirit can be audible to one person in a group, or several, but not necessarily all of them. From this fact, we deduce that Siliman's laughter is not sound per se, but rather some form of impulse that affects the brain directly without passing through the ear. In this respect Siliman is quite different from other spirits that do emit actual sound ( see" Noises From Nowhere" else where in this work). The concept of "soundless sound' is admittedly only a theory-but a theory that, in light of the available information, seems to have some validity.
Rather than dismissing it out of hand, I urge you not to be constrained by ordinary concepts of what is real and what is not. If you remain firm in your resolve, then I am quite confident that you will have the last laugh... whether it comes from you, or from some other source.