Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Familiars


Familiars are as ubiquitous to witches as are cauldrons, pointy hats and brooms.

Despite their outward appearances, familiars are not animals, but rather spirits in the shape of animals. They can talk and understand human speech but only their witch can understand them. This connection is a mental one, but it is often described as speech. This connection also allows the witch to communicate with animals of the same kind. With their familiar present they can talk to any animal and understand what is being said. Some familiars also have a chance to know another language, which the witch then will know.

A witch starts at 1st level with a familiar. This familiar will show up when she first becomes a witch. The nature and form of the familiar will often be dictated by the circumstances of her becoming a witch. She may add other familiars as she progresses in level. The maximum number of familiars a witch may have is equal to her number of Retainers based on CHA. She may also only call a new familiar once per year and a day (alternately this can be once per level). This is for an additional familiar or to replace one that had been killed (familiars do not die of old age like natural animals). So a witch with a CHA of 18 can have a max of 7 familiars at a time, but will take her a minimum of 7 years (or levels) and 7 days to obtain them all.

A familiar adds 1 spell level of a spell the witch can learn. So a witch with a familiar can learn an extra 1st level spell, a witch with three familiars can learn any combination of three spell levels, so 1 3rd level spell, 1 2nd and 1 1st level spell, or 3 1st level spells. If the familiar is killed then the witch looses those spells the familiar knows. If she has cast those spells already this day then she loses an equal numbers of levels.

As the witch gains level the familiar also grows in power by gaining 1 hit point per level the witch gains and their armor class improves by -1 per level.

Anytime a familiar is killed or if the witch releases it she much make a saving throw vs. death or lose a number of hit points equal to that of the familiar.
Summoning A Familiar
At 1st level the witch gains her first familiar automatically. Once she gains a level she can attempt to summon a new one.

Summoning a new familiar is not something that can be done lightly. The witch needs to spend a day in deep meditation and purification. The day must begin for sunrise with the witch participating in a ritual bath and cleansing that must be complete before the sun has clear the horizon. She will spend the morning preparing the area for a familiar to come; laying out small treats for the type of animal she wishes; cheese for a rat, cream for cat, meats for a dog or wolf, and so on. She then will spend time preparing items for each sense, something for touch, taste, smelling, hearing and seeing. Then she will also appeal to the four elements, plus the fifth element of magic, and for the mind, body and spirit. So in total the witch must procure 13 items that are outside of the treat for the familiar to appeal to magic. These items must have significance to the witch and will be unique for each casting and each witch. In total these materials will cost the witch up to 100 gp.

The witch has a base chance of obtaining a familiar equal to 65% + 3% per level up to 10th level. So even at 10th level the witch has 1% chance of there not being a familiar within the area.
Any roll of 100% (00) will result in a Special familiar.

Regardless of the result of the summoning, the witch will have spent the day in the ritual and will not have prepared any spells for that day. Any materials spent cannot be reused.

Special familiars are not in the shape of animals but are often creatures of the Faerie or even the other planes. Special familiars cans speak to anyone capable of understanding their language.

List of Familiars
(roll d%, this is not the same roll as discovering a familiar)
Rolls of 00 result in a Special Familiar.
Roll Familiar* Additional Powers to the Witch
1-3 Badger +2 to Constitution checks
4-6 Bat +2 to Dexterity checks
7-9 Beaver Double normal speed when swimming
10-12 Cat Night vision (night is treated like a light spell)
13-15 Coyote Surprised only on a roll of 1 on a d6
16-18 Crow +2 bonus to Magic Wand saves
19-21 Dog Surprised only on a roll of 1 on a d6
22-24 Eagle Improved vision
25-27 Ferret +1 to Dexterity checks, -1 to AC
28-30 Fox +1 to Intelligence and +1 to Wisdom checks
31-33 Frog +2 to Constitution checks,
34-36 Goat +2 to Constitution checks
37-39 Hawk Improved vision
40-42 Hyena +2 to Dexterity checks
43-45 Jackal +1 to Intelligence and +1 to Constitution checks
46-48 Lizard +1 to Intelligence and +1 to Dexterity checks
49-51 Lynx +2 to Dexterity checks
52-54 Mouse +2 to Dexterity checks
55-57 Owl +2 to Wisdom checks
58-60 Porcupine Improved AC, -2 bonus
61-63 Rabbit Surprised only on a roll of 1 on a d6
64-66 Raccoon Surprised only on a roll of 1 on a d6
67-69 Rat +2 bonus to Paralysis saves
70-72 Raven +2 bonus to Death saves, can speak to others
73-75 Scorpion +2 bonus to Poison saves
76-78 Snake +1 to Intelligence checks, +2 to Heal
79-81 Spider +2 bonus to Poison saves
82-84 Squirrel +2 to Dexterity checks
85-87 Swan +2 to Charisma checks
88-90 Toad Wide-angle vision, surprised only on a 1 on a d6
91-93 Turtle Improved AC -2 bonus
94-96 Weasel +2 bonus to Rods and Staff saves
97-99 Wolf +2 bonus to Spell saves

Special Familiars
Familiar Alignment Additional Powers to the Witch
Batling Lawful Improved hearing and +2 polymorph save bonus
Bear Neutral +2 to Strength to checks
Bendith ý mamau Neutral Improved hearing and a +2 wands save bonus
Blink dog Lawful Witch may dimension door once per day as the blink dog’s power.
Brownie Lawful +3 bonus to all Dexterity based rolls and effects
Butterfae Neutral +2 Wands saves and +2 to Spell saves
Cait Sidhe Neutral +4 to Wands saves
Celestial Animal Lawful Same as normal animal, +2 to Spell saves
Dire Animal Neutral Twice the bonus as a normal animal of it’s kind
Elemental, small Neutral Gain +5 to saves to the Elemental element
Fiendish Animal Chaos Same as normal animal, +2 to Poison saves
Imp Chaos Regenerate 1 hp per day
Mephit Chaos Gain +5 to saves to the Mephit’s element
Pseudodragon Lawful +3 to saves vs. Dragon Breath
Skitterwing Chaos Gain +5 to saves to charm and mind affecting magic
Sprite Lawful +2 bonus to all Dexterity based rolls (Reflex, AC)

Perform ritual. Roll d% to see if you summon a familiar, if yes roll a d% to see what you get.  A roll of 00 on either roll is an automatic special familiar.

More soon.
Section 15 Copyright Notice

Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

System Reference Document Copyright 2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Bruce R. Cordell, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Liber Mysterium: The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks is Copyright© 2003, Timothy S. Brannan and the Netbook of Witches Team.

Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Copyright © 2006-2008. Chris Gonnerman.

Labyrinth LordTM. Copyright © 2007, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.

"Witch's Familiars" Copyright ©2011, Timothy S. Brannan


Porky said...

Two great lists. The specials are most definitely special!

The Jovial Priest said...

Very impressive I have added to Links to Wisdom under clerics, witches and witch hunters.

Personally, I think the plus spell levels is too powerful, as the familiars give so many other cool advantages. Do you have a witch class write up?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

JP: Not all yet, but I am working on it.

Sylvia Ney said...

WOW - I only knew some of this. Thank you for sharing. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge.

Scoobyfan1 said...

Interesting Article; I wonder if a Great Dane would be or could be a familiar :)

Anonymous said...

So if you're 10th level, a 01 through 99 on the first roll is a regular familiar, but a 00 is a special familiar?