Familiars

Adapted from the Familiars supplement Release 2

Getting Your Familiar

Cast the Spell

The primary way one acquires a familiar is through the use of a spell, simply called Familiar. The basic spell is listed below. The Familiar spell is never freely available to any spell caster. It must either be found by a character or researched independently.

Familiar
-
level 1 spell
Range: 5 feet
Duration: special

By the casting of Familiar, a spell caster forms a bond with an animal or creature (or sometimes an item). The caster may attempt to summon an appropriate subject from the nearby region, or he may bond with an appropriate subject already in close proximity. Casting the spell requires special materials including censer and rare incense (at least 100gp per casting). The ritual takes 12 hours of meditation and concentration to build the bond. At the end of the casting period, the caster must make an Ability Check modified by his Charisma bonus (p.141); if successful the bond has been established, but if failed the caster cannot bond with the creature in question ever (even with subsequent castings of the spell).

Typically, normal animals are so bonded with. If a subject creature has not been identified by the caster, the Game Master may, at his discretion, bring forth one of the desired species of regular animals, choose another appropriate animal, or roll randomly. Of summoned animals, only those naturally residing within the immediate area will be called forth. A caster desiring a specific breed or type of animal would need to travel to an appropriate habitat where such are found. In addition, there are special types of creatures that are also appropriate and readily bonded with such as pseudodragons, homunculus, or others. Such special familiars are never simply summoned by the spell, and must be sought out by the caster during game play. However, the creature must be a willing participant in the process, and one generally still requires the casting of this spell to properly build the bond with the creature.

The creature to be bonded with is limited by hit dice appropriate to the caster’s level (see table). Most normal animals having less than one HD are generally appropriate for any level caster, but higher level casters may desire more durable companions. When looking at a creature’s hit dice, anything more than +3 is counted as 1 die higher, and the Game Master may declare certain special abilities, despite the actual HD of the creature, are treated as higher HD. Special Familiars do not always follow the hit dice limitation and generally have other types of requirements. As the caster’s level increases, his familiar gets benefits such as additional Hit Points (though not counted in the limits listed above), increased Armor Class and Save bonuses. The familiar gains additional hp equivalent to the level of the caster forming the bond, and this quantity increases as the caster acquires additional levels. The familiar attacks according to its own hit dice or as equivalent to the spell caster, whichever is greater. The familiar may have access to one or more spells determined by its master (see the appropriate section below).

Level Maximum HD AC Bonus Save Bonus Familiar’s Caster Level
1 – 2 1/2 hd + 1 - n/a
3-5 1hd + 1 + 1 1
6-8 2hd + 2 + 1 2
9-11 3hd + 2 + 2 3
12 – 14 4hd + 3 + 2 4
15 – 17 5hd + 3 + 3 5
18 – 20 6hd + 4 + 3 6

Note that the Familiar spell is available to any arcane spell caster, though they may need to research it for themselves as it does not appear on any class list of spells (very much on purpose).

A spell caster will not typically have more than one such familiar at a time. Breaking the bond of a familiar, generally by death, is very detrimental to the survivor. Specific damages and detriments are covered below.

Benefits of the Bond

Both the master and the animal/creature familiar gain benefits from this symbiotic arrangement. They each receive a level of satisfaction, completeness, and sense of well being from their connection with the other.

The spell caster and the familiar share a special bond, having an empathic sort of knowledge of the well being and emotional state of each other. If the spell caster concentrates on the task, he can “see” through the senses of his familiar animal, though the “sight” granted is foggy, indistinct, and tinny, rather like a “tunnel vision effect” even with respect to sound, smell, taste, and touch. The spell caster cannot do anything else during this concentration, and both must be upon the same plane of existence (or dimension, realm, or similar state of being). The familiar itself does not have this “sight” ability in reverse with respect to its master, but otherwise has the basic emotional bond.

For the Spell Caster

The spell caster who acquires an animal or creature familiar gets a +1 on Surprise checks due to the additional and generally enhanced senses of his familiar. This increased awareness is empathic and conveyed between them so long as the master and familiar are in close proximity of each other.

So long as the familiar is within 10 feet of its master, all spells that are cast upon oneself or personally affect the caster are cast at +1 effective caster level with respect to range, duration, or similar features dependent upon level (this does not grant any other level related factors such as additional spells per level). This includes spells that can target others, but are instead applied to oneself (such as invisibility, cure spells, etc.). Spells that affect areas, or multiple people are not so increased.

The familiar acts as somewhat like a “ring of spell storing”. The spells “stored” by the familiar are chosen by the caster during the time when he prepares his own spells. The quantity of spells so be held as if the familiar has 1/3 of the caster’s level rounded down. For instance, a 3rd level magic- user’s familiar has the spell assortment of a 1st level MU, and when the MU reaches 6th level the familiar would be able to hold spells as a 2nd level MU. When the familiar is in contact the master (spell caster) can call upon the spells as bonus spells (using his own caster level).

For the Familiar

Familiars gain a great deal from the symbiosis. All such familiars gain substantially in their intelligence and understanding of the world. They generally take on a demeanor that makes them appear as atypical members of their species (unless they act in a “dumbed down” manner specifically to seem unassuming). They may even develop unique markings, colors, or other features that set them apart from the normal members of their species. These subtle changes often mirror distinctive aspects of their master.

As stated in the spell description, the familiar gets a bonus to its Armor Class and Saves according to its master’s level (see table above in spell description). The familiar also gets bonus hit points equal to the level of the master. These bonus hit points do not factor into any other functions of hit dice. In addition, the familiar attacks according to it own hit dice or with the same attack bonus base as its master, whichever is better.

While the familiar is in direct contact with its master, it receives the benefit of any spells cast by its master that are personal affecting (as mentioned above). The spell effect is independent at that point and the familiar may subsequently leave its master and move about with the effect intact.

The familiar holds “stored” spells chosen by the master. While in physical contact, these spells are available to the master as bonus spells. Alternatively, the familiar itself may call upon the magics directly, but such spells are cast at the familiar’s level of ability (ie. 1/3 that of the Master). Obviously spells cast by the familiar are not bound by exactly the same rules as the master when it comes to ‘hands free’ and speech; the familiar can produce most spells as if it was akin to an innate ability. If a spell stored by the familiar requires a special ingredient, material component, or special action that cannot be produced by the animal, then the spell can only be held for the master to utilize as mentioned above with the familiar being unable to cast it on their own accord.

Breaking the Bond

The bond with a familiar is effectively permanent and exclusive to one pairing at a time. A caster may not have more than one familiar (of any kind) at any given time. The bond is stronger than that of a mere pet. They are part of each other. One could not get rid of one’s familiar any more than considering discarding one of your arms.

Separation of the pair by planar, dimensional, temporal, or similar forms of travel will cause panic and despair feelings. The spell caster is penalized -2 on any Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma based ability checks. This can only be negated by the pair being reunited.
Death of the familiar is more catastrophic. The caster will immediately suffer damage equal to the full hit points of the familiar. A character that dies from the damage may be raised normally. In addition, the spell caster will lose Intelligence and Wisdom points, depending on the level of the caster (higher level means stronger bond with familiar). For 1st to 5th level the caster loses 1d3 points (rolled separately for Intelligence and Wisdom). All but one point of this ability damage may be healed (1 point per day akin to constitution loss p.51). The last point is permanent loss, though it may be restored via restoration spell. For 6th to 10th level the loss is 1d6 point each; 11th to 15th use 1d8; and for 16th to 20th use 1d10 for the ability damage rolls. Any spell caster whose prime requisite ability score drops below class minimum cannot cast or prepare spells until healed sufficiently. Under normal circumstances, a familiar cannot be raised or brought back to life. The spell caster cannot form a new bond with another familiar for 1 year after such trauma.

For the familiar that loses it master, the result is nearly always death, as it suffers in exactly the same manner. The hit points loss is equivalent to the caster’s full hit point allotment (and ability score loss if such is measurable or applicable). If the spell caster is brought back to life, the familiar will remain dead (and generally cannot be raised or restored short of a wish). As above, the spell caster cannot form a new bond with another familiar for 1 year.

Familiar Types

Normal animal types listed in the core rules (or Field Guide) are all possible familiars. Often stats for one animal may be utilized for similar animals of the same general type. Certain other creatures (monsters) may also be possible as familiars: Blink Dog, Hell Hounds, Nixie, Pixie, Shadow, Sprite.

The Field Guide of Monsters has several creatures specifically tailored to be familiars: Brownie, Cu-Sidhe, Flederkatze, Homunculus, Imp, Quasit, and Pseudodragon.

Caveat

As with anything else in the game, the GM has the final say … both for and against player ideas. If you’d like a specific type of unique familiar, let me know and we’ll discuss it. Might be a good adventure hook.

Summary

  • Empathic Bond, Concentrate for “sight” through Familiar.
  • +1 Bonus on Surprise rolls
  • +1 Caster Level on Personal Effecting Spells (within 10’)
  • Bonus Spells as if 1/3 caster level (in contact)
  • Familiar gains bonus to HP (MU level), AC, Saves,
  • Attacking ability, and becomes more intelligent.
  • Receives effect of beneficial spells cast upon MU (in contact)
  • Familiar has ability to independently utilize “stored” bonus spells

Familiars

Karameikos and Beyond Haronniin