HD&D: Familiars

Okay, I lied. In order to present a fully functioning Sorcerer I first need some rules for Familiars. Fortunately, these rules are also equally useful for wizards so I’m killing two birds with one stone.

The fourth edition book, Arcane Power, presented elegant rules for familiars that works very well in the context of 4e. However, for HD&D I’m looking more closely at third edition and Pathfinder for my inspiration. As with much of the 4e material, the rules are solid but they aren’t grounded in the reality of the campaign. Verisimilitude trumps utility.

What is a Familiar?

A familiar, is a creature that is chosen by an arcane spellcaster to aid him in his study of magic. The spellcaster does this by selecting the Summon Familiar talent (you’ll see that talent in full when I publish the Sorcerer, but largely all it says is: you can have a familiar).

A familiar grants special abilities and benefits to its master. These vary depending on the selection of the familiar’s feats and talents. Normally, feats and talents that affect or augment familiars are selected by the familiar, and not the master. However, there are some additional talents and feats that improve familiars that are only available to the master. I’ll cover some of those in the post for the Sorcerer.

The most common types of familiars are 1st level creatures of the Animal or Vermin type. For the purposes of the upcoming playtest, these are the only familiars that will be available. This post specifically looks at the most common of these familiars: Bat, Cat, Hawk, Lizard, Monkey, Owl, Rat, Raven, Spider, Toad, Viper and Weasel.

The animal retains the Ability Scores as printed in the Monster Manual with the exception that its intelligence score is never less than 6. Skills and racial traits are unchanged. You may reassign its skill points, and also choose different feats and talents for the familiar if you wish. This allows you to select from the list of special talents and feats that are only available to familiars.

The familiar gains levels as you gain levels. It’s defences and hit points increase accordingly; it gains bonuses to ability scores and access to new feats, talents and skill points as it levels. The familiar is, to all intents and purposes, an additional player character. The difference is that most of a familiar’s feats and talents work to the benefit of the wizard, and not the familiar.

The familiar’s class skills are the same as the master’s class skills. The familiar cannot be trained in skills that are physically impossible for it to perform. Neither can be trained in skills that are not either on its list of racial skills, or are skills that the master is trained in. The familiar knows four languages or scripts that the master also knows. Any more must be purchased with the appropriate skills, but the familiar cannot know languages that the master does not.

Familiars do not have character classes. They cannot select class talents or feats. They are limited in their choice to either racial talents and feats, general talents and feats and the talents and feats that are specifically designed for familiars.

And if that all sounds a bit confusing, I explain it a little better below.

Note on more ‘Powerful’ Familiars: Other creatures such as homunculi, stirges, imps, mephits, quasits and pseudodragons can also be used as familiars; as can more powerful creatures such as wolves. However, because these creatures are higher than 1st level, they wouldn’t be readily available to 1st level characters. Of course, the GM could dial back a creature to 1st level. For example, a quasit is a third level creature but it could be generated as if it was first level (with less powers and less hit points). There’s more about this when we get onto Monsters.

In HD&D it is assumed that, at any given level, all races are equal. A 7th level wolf is considered the equal of a 7th level dragon. It’s just that a 7th level wolf would be an incredibly powerful example of its race, whereas a 7th level dragon is barely out of the egg. Therefore there’s no need for anything like an Improved Familiar talent. A wizard with a 10th level toad familiar, and a wizard with a 10th level homunculus should be on a par.

The same principles apply to the animal companions that druids and rangers hang about with. A 15th level druid with a 15th level badger companion, would find that badger every bit as useful as a 15th level dire bear companion. Even if the badger was getting on a bit, and had taken to dressing like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo.

On Monsters

I feel I need to pause here and offer some explanation of how monsters are constructed in HD&D. You are after all layering a familiar’s abilities on top of a set of monster stats, so knowing the background can only be helpful.

In the Hybrid game (as in third edition), monsters and characters are built in exactly the same way. A 1st level monster has its racial and starting bonuses to its defences, two racial traits, three talents, one feat, 12 class skills and 36 skill points just like player characters.

The talents and feats that monsters have access to will either be generic ones (like Improved Initiative) or they will be specific to the monster’s race. Thinking monsters such as trolls, giants, thri-kreen and so on can also have character classes in the same way as traditional character races. And also as with the traditional character races, they need to make a choice when balancing their class abilities and their racial abilities. For example, a generic Pit Fiend is a 20th level creature. It has 14 talents and 12 feats. Most of those will be racial talents and feats, although there’s always the option to dabble in the powers of a certain class.

A creature’s ability scores may not necessarily be obtainable using the point buy system of ability score creation. Basically HD&D offers two different systems of ability score creation: the tradition die roll (giving a result between 1-18) and the point buy system.

Player characters are generated using the point buy system. This balances ability scores between player characters: and that’s important. On the whole, NPCs (and monsters) have more variety in their stats. A player character of a monster race – such as a minotaur – still uses the point buy system. We’ll get into this later, but it’s all perfectly fair and above board (trust me on this).

What this does is illustrate the fact that NPCs (and by extension monsters) aren’t built in exactly the same way as PCs. They still adhere to the same rules, there is still parity between them. An HD&D NPC still looks and functions like an HD&D PC. There is none of the wild disparity we see in fourth edition. However, the NPC is sometimes little more than a shorthand PC.

Not all monsters necessarily have the requisite number of skill points, feats and talents. This isn’t because they don’t have them, or because they couldn’t have them – just that there’s little game-related point in assigning them. Let’s look at the common or garden bat: it has the Fly, Stealth, Perception and Unarmed Strike skills. What other skills does it need?

There’s no premium in slavishly adding many different abilities for the hell of it. Most monsters appear and die over the course of a few rounds. They may not need all the talents and feats a PC does. Some do of course, by many don’t. If it becomes important for creatures to have the full complement of abilities then they have them.

Monsters never have more talents and feats than a PC of the same level, though. That would be cheating! If I look at a monsters’ abilities and it seems that they need more talents and feats, then the right thing to do is increase their level.

There’s more to say on monsters, but I’ll leave it there as I should be talking about Familiars. What you need to remember is that the example familiars listed below are all 1st level creatures. As such they have the right to all the skills, talents and feats of any 1st level character. However, all these skills, talents and feats may not be assigned in the monster block.

As familiars, all those skills, talents and feats are definitely available. Familiars always have their full complement as they are effectively pseudo-PCs.

Example Familiars

Below are the HD&D stats for the twelve base creatures currently available as famiilars. This is the first time you’ve seen finished HD&D monster stats, so I hope you’re all suitably excited. But first, the traditional explanation:

Size: A creature’s size affects its Reflex Defence and its Mêlée and thrown attack rolls. These modifiers are included in the stat description, but see the recent post on Size and Combat for more details.

Ability Scores: The monster array is generated on a scale of 1-18 to allow for the possibility of many low ability scores. Any creature with an unusually high ability score (higher than 18 for a 1st level creature) will still need to pay for that advantage with a racial talent. Remember that if the listed intelligence is less than 6, then raise it to 6 when the creature becomes a familiar.

Hit Points: As with characters this is the creature’s Con score + 4 hit points per level (or less if they are smaller than Small size). Animals don’t get any bonus hit points from their racial talents.

Movement: The number of feet the creature can move in one Move action. Also lists additional modes of locomotion, such as flight.

Defences: Each defence starts with a Base Score of 10. One stat enjoys a +3 racial bonus. Then the creature has 6 discretionary points to apply to all three defences. You can have no more than +5 in any one defence before factoring in the creature’s ability score modifiers and size modifiers. This works just like player characters.

Racial Traits: At least two minor abilities that best sum up the race. These mirror the two racial traits that player character races have.

Talents: As with PCs. A 1st level creature should have three talents, although not all slots will necessarily be filled. As a familiar, you can delete any listed talents and replace them with any of the Familiar talents that the creature qualifies for.

Feats: This works in the same way as talents. A 1st level creature should only have one feat, but racial traits (or even talents) can be used to grant additional feats to some creatures. And yes, you can replace your familiar’s feat with anything else you choose – as long as the familiar qualifies for it.

Racial Skill Modifiers: All creatures get a +2 racial bonus to two skills: just like PCs.

Skills: The skills listed in the description are skills that are quintessential to the familiar. These are always Class Skills for the familiar. In addition, all of the master’s class skills are also the familiar’s class skills (as long as the familiar is physically capable of using that skill). A master doesn’t confer his class skill in Heavy Blades to his toad familiar, for example. The familiar starts with 36 skills points and gains an additional 12 skill points at each even numbered level – just like a player character.


Bat (Dimunitive Animal)
Level One

Str 1, Dex 15, Con 4, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 4

Hit Points: 5

Movement: 5 ft. or Fly 40 ft. (Good)

Defences: Fortitude 12, Reflex 19, Will 13
Saving Throws: Fortitude +2, Reflex +9, Will +3

Racial Traits: Low-Light Vision, Hidden by Darkness
Talents: Blindsight, Flight, Snatch
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Perception, +2 Stealth
Skills: Acrobatics +5, Fly +10, Perception +9, Stealth +7 (+12), Unarmed (bite) +9: 1d2-5 damage


Cat (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 7

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 30 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 13, Reflex 17, Will 14
Saving Throws: Fortitude +3, Reflex +7, Will +4

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Ambush Predator, Sure-footed
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Athletics, +2 Perception
Skills: Acrobatics +5 (+10), Athletics +7 (+12), Climb +10, Perception +8, Stealth +5 (+13), Unarmed (claws) +7: 1d2-4 damage


Hawk (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 6, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 10 ft. or Fly 60 ft. (Average)

Defences: Fortitude 12, Reflex 20, Will 14
Saving Throws: Fortitude +2, Reflex +10, Will +4

Racial Traits: Low-light vision
Talents: Dive, Flight, Superior Vision
Feats: Skill Focus (Fly)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Acrobatics, +2 Fly
Skills: Acrobatics +8, Fly +9, Perception +13, Unarmed (talons) +6: 1d4-2 damage


Lizard (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 20 ft. or Climb 20 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 15, Reflex 16, Will 13
Saving Throws: Fortitude +5, Reflex +6, Will +3

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Lizardine Regeneration, Sure-Footed
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Stealth, +2 Unarmed Strike
Skills: Athletics +5 (+10), Acrobatics +5 (+10), Climb +10, Perception +6, Stealth +7, Unarmed (bite) +9: 1d4-4 damage


Monkey (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 5

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 30 ft. or Climb 30 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 12, Reflex 19, Will 13
Saving Throws: Fortitude +2, Reflex +9, Will +3

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Sure-Footed, Taunt
Feat: Skill Focus (Acrobatics)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Escape Artist, +2 Stealth
Skills: Acrobatics +6 (+11), Athletics +5, Climb +10, Escape Artist +7, Stealth +7, Perception +4, Unarmed (bite) +7: 1d3-4 damage.


Owl (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 4, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 4

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 10 ft. or Fly 40 ft. (Average)

Defences: Fortitude 12, Reflex 20, Will 14
Saving Throws: Fortitude +2, Reflex +10, Will +4

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision
Talents: Dive, Flight, Gliding Kill
Feats: Skill Focus (Perception)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Fly, +2 Perception
Skills: Fly +8, Perception +8, Stealth +6 (+16), Unarmed (talons) +7: 1d4-3 damage.


Rat  (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 2, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 2

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 15 ft. or Climb 15 ft. or Swim 15 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 15, Reflex 18, Will 11
Saving Throws: Fortitude +5, Reflex +8, Will +1

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Swim Speed, Natural Sneak
Feats: Skill Focus (Stealth)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Climb, +2 Swim
Skills: Acrobatics +5, Athletics +5, Climb +7, Perception +4, Stealth +12, Swim +7, Unarmed (bite) +7: 1d4-3 damage


Raven (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 1, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 10 ft. or Fly 40 ft. (Average)

Defences: Fortitude 13, Reflex 18, Will 15
Saving Throws: Fortitude +3, Reflex +8, Will +5

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision
Talents: Flight
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Fly, +2 Insight
Skills: Fly +7, Insight +7, Perception +7, Unarmed (claws) +7: 1d2-5 damage


Spider (Tiny Vermin)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 1, Wis 10, Cha 2

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 20 ft. or Climb 10 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 15, Reflex 19, Will 10
Saving Throws: Fortitude +5, Reflex +9, Will +0

Racial Traits: Tremorsense, Webspinner or Jumping Spider
Talents: Ambush Predator, Climb Speed, Poison
Feats: Bonus Trait (Dextrous Athlete)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Athletics, +2 Perception
Skills: Athletics +1 (+8 Climbing, +16 Jumping Spider), Perception +5, Stealth +14, Unarmed (bite) +8: 1d3-4 damage, plus poison (DC 13).


Toad (Diminuitive Animal)
Level One

Str 1, Dex 12, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 14, Cha 4

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 5 ft. or Swim 15 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 13, Reflex 18, Will 15
Saving Throws: Fortitude +3, Reflex +8, Will +5

Racial Traits: Low-Light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Swim Speed, Amphibious
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Stealth, +2 Swim
Skills: Perception +6, Stealth +6, Swim +6, Unarmed +7


Viper (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 4, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2

Hit Points: 13

Movement: 15 ft. or Climb 15 ft. or Swim 15 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 13, Reflex 18, Will 14
Saving Throws: Fortitude +3, Reflex +8, Will +4

Racial Traits: Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Poison, Swim Speed and/or Scent
Feats: Improved Initiative

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Climb, +2 Stealth
Skills: Acrobatics +6, Climb +8, Stealth +8, Perception +4, Swim +6, Unarmed (bite) +7: 1d3-3 plus poison (DC 13)


Weasel (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 5

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 20 ft. or Climb 20 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 15, Reflex 17, Will 12
Saving Throw: Fortitude +5, Reflex +7, Will +2

Racial Traits: Low-Light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Scent, Sure-Footed
Feats: Skill Focus (Escape Artist)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Escape Artis, +2 Stealth
Skills: Acrobatics +5 (+10), Athletics +5, Climb +10, Escape Artist +8, Stealth +7, Perception +4, Unarmed (bite) +7: 1d3-4 damage.


The above twelve animals are the base creatures from which you create your familiar. I spoke of special Familiar feats and talents that can be taken instead of the talents and feats listed above. Here is a selection of them. Many of them should be familiar to third edition players.

Familiar Talents


Confer Alertness (Familiar Talent)
As long as your familiar is at hand, it’s extremely difficult to surprise you.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Area of Effect: Close Burst 5 ft. radius
Target: Familiar’s Master

Effect: As long as the familiar is within arm’s reach, the master gains the benefit of the Alertness feat. This grants a +2 inherent bonus to Perception checks, and prevents you from granting combat advantage to your enemies during surprise rounds. The effects of this talent do not stack with the Alertness feat.


Confer Competence (Familiar Talent)
The familiar is able to impart some of its innate skill to its master.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Bat, Cat, Hawk, Lizard, Monkey, Owl, Raven, Spider, Viper or Wolf familiar.
Duration: Permanent
Target: Familiar’s Master

Effect: After bonding with his familiar, the master enjoys an increasing competence in a skill in which the familiar excels. The master effectively gains the feat Skill Focus in the indicated skill. This bonus does not stack with the Skill Focus feat. For example, the master of a cat familiar couldn’t take Skill Focus (Stealth) to gain double the bonus to his Stealth checks. The bonus conferred by various familiars are follows:

  • Bat: Fly skill
  • Cat: Stealth skill
  • Hawk: Perception skill
  • Lizard: Climb skill
  • Monkey: Acrobatics skill
  • Owl: Insight skill
  • Raven: Profession (Assessor) skill
  • Spider: Intimidate skill
  • Viper: Bluff skill

Confer Resilience (Familiar Talent)
The familiar is able to impart some of its skill in avoiding harm to its master.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Rat or Weasel familiar
Duration: Permanent
Target: Familiar’s Master

Effect: After bonding with his familiar, the master enjoys an increasing resilience to one of his defences. The master effectively gains a defence bolstering feat: Iron Will, Great Fortitude or Lightning Reflexes) in the indicated defence. This bonus does not stack with the other feats. For example, the master of a rat familiar couldn’t take Great Fortitude to gain double the bonus to his Fortitude defence. The bonus conferred by various familiars are follows:

  • Rat: Fortitude Defence (Great Fortitude)
  • Weasel: Reflex Defence (Lightning Reflexes)

Confer Toughness (Familiar Talent)
The familiar is able to impart some of its ability to shrug off damage to its master.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite:
Toad familiar.
Duration: Permanent
Target: Familiar’s Master

Effect: After bonding with his familiar, the master enjoys an increasing number of hit points. The master effectively gains the Toughness feat. This bonus doesn’t stack with the Toughness feat itself: so the master couldn’t take the Toughness feat to gain twice as many hit points.


Deliver Touch Spells (Familiar Talent)
The master can direct his spells through his familiar instead of risking himself.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Duration:
Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Mêlée (touch)
Target: The familiar

Effect: If the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a spell with a range of “Mêlée (touch)”, he can designate the familiar to carry that spell for him. The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master would, except the spell would be discharged by a physical attack using the familiar’s Unarmed Strke skill. The familiar can only hold one such spell at any one time. The spell disappears if not used within 1 round per level of the caster.


Empathic Link (Familiar Talent)
The master can understand the fears and emtions of his familiar.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Area of Effect: Close Burst  1 mile
Target: The familiar

Effect: The master has an empathic link with his familiar to a one mile distance. The master can communicate empathically with the familiar, but cannot see through its eyes. It understands the familiar’s general emtions, but no other information is conveyed. The master has the same connection to an item or place that the familiar does.


One Step Ahead (Familiar Talent)
The familiar is better able to extricate itself from harm’s way than its master.
At-Will | Mundane
No Action
Trigger: The familiar is targeted by a close or far attack against its Reflex defence that causes half damage on a miss.
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: The familiar only takes half damage if the attack hits, and no damage at all if the attack misses. Otherwise, this ability functions in exactly the same manner as the Improved Evasion talent.


Scry via Familiar (Familiar Talent)
The most potent masters can take control of their familiar’s senses, and see what their familiar sees.
Recharge (Special) | Supernatural
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Empathic Link, Speak with Master, Telepathic Link, 13th level
Duration: 1 minute/level
Area of Effect: The familiar

Effect: Once per day, the master can seize control of his familiar’s senses. For the duration of this talent, he sees what his familiar sees, hears what his familiar hears and generally experiences the world through his familiar’s senses. Distance is not a factor in using this ability. The master establishes a Telepathic  and Empathic Link with the familiar for the duration of this power, even if it is outside the usual range of those talents.

While scrying via his familiar, the master grants Combat Advantage to his enemies. He experiences his familiar’s senses layered on top of his own. This can be quite distracting so most masters will want to close their eyes and retire to a quiet and private spot. The perception checks for a master with his eyes open are increased by +10 (as per ‘overwhelming background interference’).


Share Spells (Familiar Talent)
The master can share his most intimate magicks with his familiar.
At-Will | Magical
No Action
Area of Effect: Mêlée (touch)
Target: The familiar

Effect: The master may cast any spell with an Area of Effect of “Personal” on his familiar  instead of himself. This spell will function normally on the familiar, even if it does not normally affect creatures of the Familiar’s type.


Speak with Master (Familiar Talent)
The familiar can communicate with its master as if using a common language.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action

Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: The familiar can speak in a bizarre collection of chirps, whistles and growls that only its master can understand. A conversation between a master and his familiar is completely incomprehensible to outsiders. A full understanding of what the familiar is trying to say requires the empathic bond that master and familiar share. Therefore the common ‘language’ is impenetrable, even to spells such as Tongues and Comprehend Languages.


Speak with Creatures of its Kind (Familair Talent)
The familiar is positively loquacious around other creatures of its kind.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: The familiar can communicate with animals that are approximately of the same kind as itself – including dire varieities. So a cat could talk with felines; hawks, owls and ravens with other birds and so. The conversation between the two may be limited by the intelligence of the other creature


Supreme Sacrifice (Familiar Talent)
The familiar can throw itself in the way of an attack that was meant for its master.
At-Will | Mundane
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger: The master is hit by a Mêlée or Ranged attack that deals hit point damage
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Close burst 5 ft. radius

Effect: When the master is successfully hit with a mêlée or ranged attack, the familiar can instantly interpose himself between his master and the attacker. The damage is instead dealt to the familiar and the master escapes unharmed.

This talent grants the familiar no special ability to shrug off damage. If the attack kills the familiar, then the familiar is dead and can must be restored through conventional means. The player must opt to make use of this talent before the damage from the attack is rolled.


Telepathic Link (Familiar Talent)
The master and familiar can communicate telepathically.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
Free Action
Prerequisite:
Empathic Link talent, Speak with Master talent
Area of Effect: Line of Sight

Effect: As long as you can see your familiar, you can communicate with him telepathically.


Familiar Feats


Combat Familiar (Familiar Feat)
Your familiar is skilled in delivering attack spells against your foes. It fl its past their defenses to discharge its spell without leaving itself vulnerable to attack.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Deliver Touch Spells talent, must have touch spell cast upon it
Duration: As Deliver Touch Spells
Area of Effect: Mêlée (touch)
Target: Familiar

Effect: If your familiar holds the charge for a touch spell, it does not grant Combat Advantage to its enemies. Additionally, when it takes the Withdraw action it may move its Speed in feet without provoking attacks of opportunity.


Extended Telepathy (Familiar Feat)
The mental bond between master and familiar is stengthened, allowing telepathic communication over much greater distances.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Empathic Link talent, Telepathic Link talent
Area of Effect: Close Burst 1 mile

Effect: The range of the Telepathic Link between familiar and master increases from Line of Sight to 1 mile.


Inverted Bond (Familiar Feat)
The master is able to sacrtifice himself for the good of his familiar.
At-Will | Supernatural
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
The familiar is hit by a Mêlée or Ranged attack that deals hit point damage
Prerequisite: Supreme Sacrifice talent
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Close burst 5 ft. radius

Effect: When the familiar is successfully hit with a mêlée or ranged attack, the master can instantly interpose himself between his familiar and the attacker. The damage is instead dealt to the master and the familiar escapes unharmed.

This talent grants the master no special ability to shrug off damage. If the attack kills the master, then the master is dead and can must be restored through conventional means. The player must opt to make use of this feat before the damage from the attack is rolled.


Lurking Familiar (Familiar Feat)
Your familiar hides within the folds of your robe or takes cover behind you as your opponents close in. When it moves to attack, its sudden appearance might catch your foe by surprise.
At-Will | Mundane
Move Action
Prerequisite: Deliver Touch Spells talent, Combat Familiar feat
Duration: If appropriate
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: A familiar at least two size categories smaller than its master can hide itself on its master’s person. This gives the familiar total cover (they cannot be attacked). If an attack kills the master, when the familiar is hiding in this matter, then any excess damage is inflicted on the familiar. Thi s is likely to be the least of the familiar’s worries.

If a familiar with this feat fights side by side with its master, then it gains Cover: a +4 bonus to its Reflex defence against all attacks.


Which is about it. Have a mull over these Familiar rules, and see how they work in conjunction with the Sorcerer when details of the class are posted everso everso soon.

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5 thoughts on “HD&D: Familiars

  1. Neil says:

    I think you are making things unnecessarily complicated and your verisimilitude is out the window! Levels for creatures is wrong IMHO, animals have certain restrictions and natural advantages and disadvantages. Older animals may have slightly better kills but their abilities will not change until they get significantly old for their species and then rapidly decline (there is a reason Lions target the very young, the weak and the old). Perhaps an equivalent level is useful to know but that’s it. An old badger is as powerful (whatever that means) as a young dragon! Really? Levels don’t work for animals in general.

    How have you decided upon the scores for the abilities? A raven is weaker than a spider? A spider is as strong as a cat?! A hawk (since it is classed as tiny we are not talking eagles here) is twice as strong as either?! The con of most of the creatures is 10 or more? Isn’t 10 the average for a human? Are you really saying that a toad is slightly more physically resistant than an average human? Rats, cats, dogs, monkeys, pigs and some birds are pretty intelligent, maybe 3, but what makes them wise? AD&D seems to use wisdon as a “common sense” stat, how do animals have this? Dex wise most animals are going to be much much higher than even the top human. How did you derive the charisma stat? Again this seems to be used as a sort of catch all physical attractiveness/presence stat but physically attractive to what? Is it really necessary?

    All of this relates to animals in general, I understand that familiars should be treated differently but only in intelligence and the ability to learn skills, physical stats should be firmly based on the animal archetype. BTW why do animals have a base +4 HP per level? Also, what does damage: 1d2-4 actually mean? I’m messing around a bit now but what if two familiars have a fight (or indeed any two animals) with that damage they can’t hurt each other!

  2. Ah, Neil I can always rely on you for a different perspective! And even though I seldom agree with anything you say I do appreciate the opportunity to put my thoughts in order! My basic answer to your observation is: “It’s not as bad you think”. But I’ll elaborate on that a tad:

    Firstly, I should point out that animals and monsters have always had levels in D&D. In second and third edition they were called Hit Dice, but they were still used to calculate attacks, defences and skills. They were levels in every but name.

    Secondly, from a design point of view I want all races to work in the same way. That means that badgers, humans and dragons are all measured in power by their levels. This should mean that (technically) 1st level dragon, 1st level human and 1st level dragon are all reasonably on a par. But again, that doesn’t mean throwing verisimilitude out of the window.

    Animals vs Familiars

    I think there may be some confusion between animals and familiars. The animal stats in the above post are for the base animals before they become familiars. A cat is 1st level, and is unlikely to ever be anything other than 1st level. It is, after all, just a cat.

    Familiars use the same base stats as the animals they ressemble, but they are not animals. You say that the only difference between familiars and animals should be in their intelligence and their ability to learn skills, but I disagree with that. Familiars may look like animals, but they are arcane spirits in animal form. They are classed as magical beasts, and as magical beasts they can grow disproportionately powerful.

    That is why a familiar levels as the wizard or sorcerer levels. An 18th level wizard can have an 18th level cat familiar. And that 18th level cat familiar is a force to be reckoned with. But it is not a real cat. A real cat could never be that high a level. That would be ridiculous – relatively speaking, of course!

    To the badger example…. a badger is a 1st level animal, and is never likely to be more than a 1st level animal. Okay, maybe virile and canny badgers could be 2nd level… but generally they’d be first level. This is far less powerful than even an unhatched dragon.

    However, a badger who is also the animal companion of a druid uses special rules. Like familiars, animal companions can grow far beyond their normal limitations in skills, potentency and levels. And as Daniel’s druid has had a badger companion for the last ten years I thought it was worth mentioning here.

    Ability Scores for Animals

    All the ability scores for animals have come directly from the third edition game. You can see them all at the d20 srd to check I’m tellign the truth. If you think there is some discrepancy with the physical stats, then I’m happy to have a look at that – but to be honest, I was happy to let things lie.

    Although I will point out that the Spider in question is a about the same size as house cat. Still “Tiny” as far as the rules are concerned, but absolutely frickin’ enormous if you find it on your bathroom mat. That’s why its Strength is so high compared to other creatures. It’s not a money-spider we’re talking about!

    The Con of most animals is set at 10. This isn’t to say that the animal can take more punishment that a human (that’s what hit points are for) it’s a measure of stamina and general health more than anything. I didn’t think too much about it when I copied the stats across.

    In third edition (and by default in HD&D unless we have a compelling reason to change it) Intelligence 3 marks the beginning of human level intelligence. All creatures classified as animals have an Int of either 1 or 2 because of this fact.

    Wisdom does measure common sense, but in animals it can also means a creature’s instincts. I don’t think it’s entirely inappropriate. Charisma probably works less well but, as you say, it’s supposed to demonstrate presence and force of personality. It’s not about looks.

    Hit Points

    All creatures gain a number of hit points per level depending on their size. A miniscule or diminuitive animal gains 1 hit point per level, Tiny creatures gain 2 hit points per level level and Small creatures gain 4.

    Hit Points at 1st equal equals a creature’s Con score + these extra hit points. So a cat, a Tiny creature with Constitution 10, has a total of 12 hit points.

    Damage

    The damage ratings are also taken from the third edition game. The base damage (the die roll) depends on the size of the creatures claws or bite. For most of these creatures we’re talking 1d2, 1d3 or 1d4 damage. This is then modified by the creature’s Strength score – all of which are negatives.

    However, regardless of the rolled damage, you can never inflict less than 1 point of damage on a successful attack roll. So they can still hurt each other.

    However, you have raised an interesting point. In HD&D, 1st level characters and creatures have more hit points than in third edition. In third edition, a cat would only have 2 hit points, for example. This means that the ratio between the animal’s damage potential and its hit points is completely off-kilter.

    That is something I will have to look at when considering monsters and animals in general. I will either need to reduce the Con score of small creatures like this, or increase the damage they do. Probably the former.

  3. Neil says:

    I try I try!

    Okay, I accept that familiars are different but I think the thought of having some sort of uber powerful cat/rat/toad etc. is just ridiculous I much prefer the concept of having different classes of animal as you level up, but I guess that is personal preference.

    just because the rules for animals come from 3rd ed doesn’t make them good!

    You say that the con score is not the same as HP but it is a large proportion of HP at first level. Okay a first level human has greater HP than a rat but not that much more.

    Wisdom is a measurement of an animal’s instincts? Okay but animals have different instincts from one another and shouldn’t IMHO, be compared. Yes two bats, for example, could be compared but not a bat and a cat.

    Charisma is about presence and force of personality, okay but I would argue a spider the size of a cat has more presence than an actual cat, for example. It looks to me as those scores have been assigned based on human perception of appearance and the more nebulous “attractiveness” of an animal.

    Last point, if all damage is negative why not just say damage is 1?

  4. Well, uber-powerful isn’t entirely accurate.

    Yes, an 18th level familiar will have the same number of feats and talents as an 18th level character. But he won’t actually be that powerful in a stand-up fight. Most of the familiar’s talents will work to the benefit of the master, not the familiar itself.

    So an 18th level familar will have the hit points and skills of an 18th level character, but not the killing power. The only equality is in terms of number feats and talents.

    I think we can probably argue the merits of the applying the six ability scores to dumb animals. The fact is I have an unending stream of third edition books with all the stats for creatures worked out for me. I don’t want to start second guessing animals’ ability scores, as it will just quadrupel all the work I have to do with monsters. I’d rather just port them into HD&D as they stand. They’re close enough as far as I’m concerned.

    If you start saying that you can’t compare a bat’s wisdom and a cat’s wisdom, then the entire D&D system falls apart. I don’t think it’s really worth the hassle to dwell on things that closely. We’re saying that every creature has six ability scores, working out the stats accordingly and then moving on.

    The damage isn’t listed as one, as it’s important to know the base damage that a creature can inflict. A cat’s scratch does a base of 1d2 damage. It’s strength of 3 applies a -4 modifier. Total damage is 1d2-4. However, if the cat’s strength increases then the modifier changes. we need to know how the sum was derrived so we can taken into account of changes and modifiers accordingly.

  5. Sorry Neil. I just reread that comment, and it came across as rather terse and defensive. That wasn’t the intention, which only proves I shouldn’t reply to blog comments while trying to rush Toby out of the door for his swimming lesson.

    If you’re saying that we can’t compare the mental attributes of animals and humans (or even animals and animals) on the same scale, then I compeletely agree with you. How can we? There’s no scale that can adequately compare the Intelligence of a flea, a dog and a human. Intelligence doesn’t mean the same thing in any respect.

    But that’s in the real world. This is D&D. You may sigh that I’m trotting out the same argument again, but there are certain fundamentals that I can’t change in HD&D. Things like the core races, the character classes and the six ability scores are sacrosanct. Now because we couldn’t think of anything better, but because if we change them, the game stops being D&D and starts being something else.

    I see the illogical in giving a spider a Charisma stat at all. But, in this case, that’s the way D&D works. I’m prepared to let it lie because of my affection for the system, but also because there are plenty of other things that need changing.

    Maybe, I’ll look at some animal and monster stats and disagree so heartily that I make some changes. However, this has to be the exception rather than the rule, or I will be doing this until the end of my days (and bequeathing the task to my children’s children).

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