Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Campaign Design - Base Classes: Familiars

Gaining a Familiar
An arcane engineer, generalist wizard, hexblade, shadowsworn, or sorcerer can obtain a familiar. Doing so takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 shillings. A familiar is a magical beast that resembles a small animal and is unusually tough and intelligent. The creature serves as a companion or servant. The sorcerer or wizard chooses the kind of familiar he gets. As the sorcerer or wizard advances in level, his familiar also increases in power.

If the familiar dies or is dismissed by its master, the master must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per sorcerer or wizard level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, the master's experience total can never go below 0 as a result of a familiar's demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and a day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs.

A character with more than one class that gains a familiar may only have one familiar at a time. Class levels in classes that grant a familiar stack for determining the powers of the familiar that depend upon the master's level.

Familiars are magically linked to their masters. In some sense, the familiar and the master are practically one being. Unless otherwise augmented, a familiar is a normal animal that gains new powers and becomes a magical beast when summoned to service by an arcane spellcaster. It retains the appearance, Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, skills, and feats of the normal animal it once was, but it is treated as a magical beast instead of an animal for the purpose of any effect that depends on its type. Normally, only a normal, unmodified animal may become a familiar, meaning a druid/sorcerer could not normally use her animal companion as a familiar. Consult the list of basic familiars to determine what kind of base creature the familiar is. Alternatively, a caster with the Improved Familiar feat who meets all of the other prerequisites may select a familiar from the list of improved familiars.

A familiar also grants special abilities to its master, as given on the table below. These special abilities apply only when the master and familiar are within 1 mile of each other.

Familiar Basics: Use the base statistics for a creature of the familiar's kind as presented here, but make the following changes:
  • Hit Dice: For the purpose of effects related to the number of Hit Dice, use the master's character level or the familiar's normal Hit Dice total, whichever is higher.
  • Hit Points: The familiar has one-half the master's total hit points (not including temporary hit points), rounded down, regardless of its actual Hit Dice.
  • Attacks: Use the master's base attack bonus, as calculated from all his classes. Use the familiar's Strength or Dexterity modifier, whichever is greater, to get the familiar's melee attack bonus with natural weapons. Damage equals that of a normal creature of the familiar's kind.
  • Saving Throws: For each saving throw, use either the familiar's base save bonus or the master's (as calculated from all his classes), whichever is better. The familiar uses its own ability modifiers for saves, and it does not share any of the other bonuses that the master might have on saves (from magic items or feats, for example).
  • Skills: For each skill in which either the master or the familiar has ranks, use the normal skill ranks for an animal of that type or the master's skill ranks, whichever are better. In either case, the familiar uses its own ability modifiers. Regardless of a familiar's total skill modifiers, some skills (such as Craft) may remain beyond the familiar's ability to use.
Familiar Abilities: All familiars have special abilities (or impart abilities to their masters) depending on the master's combined level in classes that grant familiars, as shown on the table below. The abilities given on the table are cumulative.
Master Class Level
Natural Armor Adjustment
Skill Augmentation (Listen and Spot), improved evasion, share spells, empathic link
Deliver touch spells
Speak with master
Speak with animals of its kind
Spell resistance
Scry on familiar

Familiar Ability Descriptions: The abilities listed on the familiar ability table have the following effects:
  • Natural Armor Adjustment: The number noted here is an improvement to the familiar's existing natural armor bonus. It represents the preternatural toughness of a spell-caster's familiar.
  • Intelligence: The familiar's Intelligence score. Familiars are as smart as people, though not necessarily as smart as smart people.
  • Skill Augmentation (Listen and Spot) (Ex): The presence of the familiar sharpens its master's senses. When the familiar is within arm's reach, the master gains the Skill Augmentation (Listen and Spot) feat.
  • Improved Evasion (Ex): When subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex save for half damage, a familiar takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw, and half damage even if the saving throw fails.
  • Share Spells: At the master's option, he may have any spell (but not any spell-like ability) he casts on himself also affect his familiar. The familiar must be within five feet at the time of casting to receive the benefit. If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the familiar if it moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the familiar again even if it returns to the master before the duration expires. Additionally, the master may cast a spell with a target of "You" on his familiar (as a touch range spell) instead of on himself. A master and his familiar can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the familiar's type.
  • Empathic Link (Su): The master has an empathic link with his familiar out to a distance of 1 mile. The master cannot see through the familiar's eyes, but they can communicate empathically. Because of the nature of the link, only general emotional content (such as fear, hunger, happiness, or curiosity) can be communicated. Not that the low Intelligence of a low-level master's familiar limits what the creature is able to communicate or understand, and even intelligent familiars see the world differently from humans, so misunderstandings are always possible. Because of this empathic link, the master has the same connection to an item or place that his familiar does.
  • Deliver Touch Spells (Su): If the master is 3rd level or higher, a familiar can deliver touch spells for him. if the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a touch spell, he can designate his familiar as the "toucher". The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master could. If the master casts another spell before the touch is delivered, the touch spell dissipates.
  • Speak with Master (Ex): If the master is 5th level or higher, a familiar and the master can communicate verbally as if they were using a common language. Other creatures do not understand the communication without magical help.
  • Speak With Animals of Its Kind (Ex): If the master is 7th level or higher, a familiar can communicate with animals of approximately the same kind as itself (including dire varieties): Bats with bats, dogs with dogs and wolves, rats and mice with rodents, cats with felines, hawks, owls, and ravens with birds, lizards and snakes with reptiles, toads with amphibians, weasels with similar creatures of the family Mustelidae, and so on. Such communication is limited by the intelligence of the conversing creatures.
  • Spell Resistance (Ex): If the master is 11th level or higher, a familiar gains spell resistance equal to the master's level + 5. To affect the familiar with a spell, another spell-caster must get a result on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) that equals or exceeds the familiar's spell resistance.
  • Scry on Familiar (Sp): If the master is 13th level or higher, he may scry on his familiar (as if casting the scrying spell) once per day.
Familiar Feats
Arcane casters can acquire a number of feats relating to their familiars. These feats generally improve the abilities of the familiar, making it more useful to its master, but unless otherwise noted they are usually only available to a spellcaster with a familiar.

Familiar Growth
Familiars normally develop powers and abilities as their masters grow in strength. The mystical bond between familiar and master strengthens with time and proximity. While this connection is more than enough for many sorcerers and wizards who would rather devote their time and energy to personal development, some grow to value their familiars as companions and friends. Some mages merely come to understand their familiar's utility and seek to further increase the abilities of this valuable asset. In either case, it is possible for a character to channel some of his life energy into his familiar, giving it extraordinary powers and abilities.

A familiar always grows through its master's gifts and does not gain experience on its own. The master chooses how much experience goes to the familiar, and when. The familiar's master must perform a ritual requiring magical materials costing 100 shillings per 1,000 experience points to be transferred. The master cannot take back experience given to a familiar, nor can a master give so much experience that it would cause him to lose a level. If the mage chooses to give his familiar fewer experience points than necessary for the desired effect, those experience points will reside within the familiar until the transfer is complete. There is no limit to the amount of time between rituals. if the familiar or his master dies, the unspent experience points are lost, even if the master is brought back to life.

Some granted abilities allow a familiar to grant a bonus to its master. Others aid the familiar itself. To provide its master with a bonus, the familiar must be within 5 feet of the master. These bonuses do not stack. In all special power descriptions, the term "master level" refers to the arcane class level of the familiar's master. All abilities are supernatural unless otherwise noted.
  • Alternate Form: The familiar has a single alternate form, which can be any object of the same size as the creature. The form must be chosen when the ability is granted. The familiar can hold this form as long as it wants. Changing into an object negates any other bonuses usually given to the master even if it is within 5 feet. Experience Point Cost: 300.
  • Blindsight: The familiar gains blindsight to a range of 30 feet. Experience Point Cost: 500.
  • Blink: The familiar can blink in and out of the ethereal plane as per the blink spell. The familiar can use this ability three times per day, and each use lasts for 1 round per master level. Experience Point Cost: 720.
  • Breath Weapon: The familiar has a breath weapon of any type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic) that causes 3d6 points of damage (Reflex save DC 14 for half damage). The breath weapon may be used three times per day. The master must decide what type of damage and the shape of the attack (15 foot cone or 30 foot line) at the time it is bestowed. If the familiar is of an elemental type, the breath weapon must be of an energy type associated with their element (acid for earth, cold for ice or water, electricity or sonic for air, and fire for fire). Experience Point Cost: 750.
  • Breathe Air: The familiar can breathe air in addition to its normal respiration. Experience Point Cost: 720.
  • Breathe Water: The familiar can breathe in water in addition to its normal respiration. Experience Point Cost: 720.
  • Burrow: The familiar can dig and burrow through the ground, gaining a movement rate of burrow 15 feet. This is an extraordinary ability. Experience Point Cost: 100.
  • Constrict: On a successful grapple check, the familiar can crush an opponent of its size category or smaller, dealing twice its normal unarmed damage. This is an extraordinary ability. Experience Point Cost: 100.
  • Corporeal: The familiar may become corporeal twice per day for up to one minute at a time. The familiar must be naturally incorporeal to gain this ability. Experience Point Cost: 250.
  • Cute: The familiar has an otherworldly beauty about it that make it seem adorable. This mild Enchantment effect gives it a +2 bonus on its NPC reaction rolls. Any creature with hostile intentions towards the familiar must roll a Will save (DC 10) to attack it. Experience Point Cost: 250.
  • Damage Reduction: The familiar gains damage reduction 5/+1. Experience Point Cost: 300.
  • Darkvision: The familiar gains darkvision up to 60 feet. If the familiar is within 5 feet of its master, its master also gains this benefit. Experience Point Cost: 400.
  • Disease: The familiar carries a viral infection that is transmitted through its primary attack. The disease has a one minute incubation period and causes 1d4 temporary Constitution damage. The Fortitude save to resist the infection is DC 12. Experience Point Cost: 200.
  • Displacement: The familiar gains the ability to appear as if under the effect of a displacement spell. It may activate this ability at will as a move-equivalent action. Experience Point Cost: 1,200.
  • Energy Drain: The familiar's primary attack inflicts one negative level in addition to normal damage. The Fortitude save to remove the negative level is DC 12. Experience Point Cost: 500.
  • Energy Resistance: The familiar gains energy resistance 20 against one energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). This ability may be taken more than once. Each time it applies to a different kind of energy. If the familiar is within 5 feet of its master, its master also gains this benefit. Experience Point Cost: 750.
  • Etherealness: The familiar can enter the ethereal plane for up to 1 minute per day. The time may be divided into non-consecutive rounds, and the familiar may move back and forth as a standard action. Experience Point Cost: 750.
  • Fast Healing: The familiar gains fast healing 1 as an extraordinary ability. If the familiar is within 5 feet of its master, its master also gains this benefit. Experience Point Cost: 1,000.
  • Flying (Winged): The familiar gains a new movement rate of fly 50 feet (average) in addition to its normal movement. This is an extraordinary ability. Experience Point Cost: 250.
  • Flying (Wingless): The familiar gains a new movement rate of fly 90 feet (perfect) in addition to its normal movement. Experience Point Cost: 500.
  • Gaseous Form: Three times per day, the familiar can change itself into a gaseous form, as per the spell. It can hold this form for up to 1 minute and cannot perform any actions other than movement during this time. Experience Point Cost: 600.
  • Glow: The familiar can shed light similar to a torch. Activating this ability is a free action and does not hinder the creature in any way. Experience Point Cost: 125.
  • Immunity: The familiar gains immunity to one type of energy (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). This ability may be taken more than once. Each time it applies to a different kind of energy. If the familiar is within 5 feet of its master, its master also gains this benefit. Experience Point Cost: 1,500.
  • Improved Grab: If the familiar hits with a normal attack, it can perform a grapple check as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. This works exactly like the ability outlined in the Monster Manual. Experience Point Cost: 250.
  • Incorporeal: The familiar may become incorporeal for up to 1 minute at a time, three times per day. The familiar must be naturally corporeal to gain this ability. Experience Point Cost: 500.
  • Invisibility: The familiar may turn invisible as a free action for a number of minutes per day equal to its master's level. The familiar may use this ability as may times as it likes as long as the total duration of invisibility does not exceed the maximum. This ability functions just like the invisibility spell in all other respects. Experience Point Cost: 300.
  • Low-Light Vision: The familiar gains low-light vision. If the familiar is within 5 feet of its master, its master also gains this benefit. Experience Point Cost: 250.
  • Poison: The familiar's primary attack can deliver a deadly poison in addition to normal damage. The poison deals 1d4 temporary Strength initial and secondary damage. The Fortitude save DC to resist this effect is DC 14. This ability is usable three times per day. Experience Point Cost: 500.
  • Rage: The familiar can enter a bloodthirsty rage three times per day. During the rage the familiar gains +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, and a +1 morale bonus to Will saves, but suffers a -2 penalty to its Armor Class. The rage ability lasts for 5 rounds. This is an extraordinary ability. A construct familiar cannot gain this benefit. Experience Point Cost: 750.
  • Regeneration: The familiar gains regeneration 1 as an extraordinary ability. Fire, acid, and magical effects all deal normal damage to the familiar. Experience Point Cost: 2,000.
  • Scary: The familiar has an unsettling aura surrounding it at all times. This works as a mild fear effect and gives the familiar a -2 on any NPC reaction rolls. Any creature with hostile intentions toward the creature must make a successful DC 15 Will save or furiously attack the object of its fear, suffering a -4 penalty on all attack and damage rolls against the familiar. Experience Point Cost: 250.
  • Scent: The familiar gains the Scent ability as described in the Monster Manual. This ability is an extraordinary ability. If the familiar is within 5 feet of its master, its master also gains this benefit. Experience Point Cost: 250.
  • See Invisibility: A familiar with this power can see invisible at will. If the familiar is within 5 feet of its master, its master also gains this benefit. Experience Point Cost: 400.
  • Size Increase: The familiar grows one size category, gaining all the benefits and disadvantages of the new size. Experience Point Cost: 1,000.
  • Smite: Once per day, the familiar may attempt a smite attack against creatures of a particular alignment. The spellcaster chooses the alignment that this ability targets upon granting his familiar this power and he may not choose to target creatures with an aspect of his alignment or the familiar's alignment. This attack works exactly like a paladin's smite evil ability. Experience Point Cost: 300.
  • Speak Language: The familiar can speak one language known by the master. The level of conversation is still based on the intelligence of the familiar. This ability may be taken multiple times. each time the familiar learns a new language spoken by the master. Experience Point Cost: 100.
  • Spell-Like Ability: The familiar gains the ability to cast one spell three times per day, as a spell-like ability. The caster level of the spell is always the minimum necessary, and the saving throw is 12 + the spell level. Experience Point Cost: Spell level squared x 100.
  • Trip: A familiar that hits with its primary attack mat attempt to trip any opponent of its size or smaller as a free action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. if the attempt fails, the opponent may not react to trip the familiar. Experience Point Cost: 100.
  • Turn Resistance: The familiar gains +2 turn resistance. This ability is only available to undead familiars. Experience Point Cost: 250.
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