Runequest Thursday #70 - The Master Sorcerer, Part Two!

Clint Staples

The Master Sorcerer, Part Two – The Master Sorcerer’s Familiar!

This is a continuation of last weeks post, Part One on the Master Sorcerer, the rank equivalent to Rune Level for Sorcery. Today, we are going to discuss a major facet of Mastery - the Familiar! See Sorcerers get to build one to order!

 

A master sorcerer’s familiar is a companion and faithful servant, even a friend in what can be a very lonely and dangerous existence. Before mastery, there are rituals that some sorcerers use to animate, create, summon or bind constructs, animals, elementals, even undead, to their will in imitation of the familiar. But the master’s familiar is another entity entirely.

A Master may create a familiar according to his specialty. He has a number of Familiar Creation Points equal to 20 plus his Specialty Skill percentage to spend on the base creature, its attributes and powers. So Demosthenes, who has only recently become an Enchanter and has an Enchantment Skill of 44%, could build a construct or item familiar with a budget of 64 Points. The demon familiar of the ancient wizard Kroaton, on the other hand,with a Wizardry skill of 112% is built with 132 points.

Creating a familiar represents a considerable investment of time and funds on the part of the creator, and some Masters cannot afford, or don’t bother, to create one. The process requires raw materials and ritual elements equal to Specialty Skill x 3d6 x10 in Silver.

Similarly, improving a familiar is also costly. Whenever the master’s specialty skill improves, the possibility of improvement to the familiar exists [increasing the points on which the familiar is built]. However, each improvement requires a number of Silver equal to # of Improvement Points x 50.

The ritual itself is lengthy and demanding, but so long as the time and preparations are done, is not fraught with peril or risk of failure. The procedure requires 1 day for each 1000 Silver spent in materials. During this time the sorcerer is occupied full time with little rites and observances, such that they can do no other work [including haring off on adventures].

When the materials and such are assembled, and the master devotes enough time to the ritual, the player should decide what sort of familiar she wants. The first choice is the base creature. Note that not all types are available to all masters, depending on specialty. The list below describes the base creature types, any cost in Familiar Creation Points to access that type, and their general abilities.

To create your familiar, spend Creation Points on a type available to the specialty, then spend the rest of the points giving the creature attributes and powers. If your type has access to special powers, you may purchase powers according to the restriction for that type. Figured characteristics such as movement, attack values, damage, etc, are based on the attributes and type you have chosen. Combat Actions (if used), Damage Bonus, Strike Ranks, Hit Points and Locations are determined as normal for Legend. Fractions are rounded up.

 

 

Familiar Types:

Animal [Free] Availability: All; a natural animal. An animal familiar may not be as powerful as a demon or Elemental, but it is innocuous in most circumstances, allowing the sorcerer to draw less unwanted attention. This is also the easiest familiar to create in terms of player choice. Simply choose a natural animal like a fox, cougar, or frog, then spend Creation Points to purchase its attributes to the extent that you can afford, remembering to save some for INT, and possibly POW. Your familiar is essentially an intelligent, devoted version of that animal. Ideal animal familiars for new masters are hawks, dogs, cats, etc. More experienced masters could manage boars, bears, or large felines. SIZ, STR, DEX, and CON are important if the familiar is to have a physical role, or you wish it to excel in combat. Because it is an animal you need not assign points to CHA.

  • Primary movement type = DEX. Others = DEX /10.
  • Armor Points CON/ 8.
  • Athletics: DEX x4; Perception: INT x3; Evade: DEX x4;
  • Attack – as Base creature, DEX+STR+INT+POW% to start.
  • Attack Damage – STR+SIZ 10 or less = 1d3; Over 10, 1d6 for every 30 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: Armor, Command Own Kind, Conjure/ Dismiss, Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Improved Damage, Improved Protection, Poison, Tracking.

Construct [10 Points] Availability: Enchanter; a created being of metal, wood, leather, and other materials. A Construct is durable and sturdy, but among the more expensive to create [multiply creation cost by 1.5]. You may choose the form of your construct and its appearance, and spend points freely based on your description, from the Powers list for Constructs.

  • Primary movement type = 1/2 DEX. Others = DEX /10.
  • Armor Points CON/ 4.
  • Athletics: DEX x2; Perception: INT x3; Evade: DEX x2;
  • Attack – as Base creature, STR+SIZ+POW% to start.
  • Attack Damage – STR+SIZ 10 or less = 1d4; Over 10, 1d6 for every 20 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: Armor, Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Improved Protection, Poison, Poison Cloud, Special Attack, Tracking.

Magical Beast [7 Points] Availability: Summoner; a creature of fixed intelligence, but unnatural in some way – examples include Magical beasts can offer abilities unavailable to mere animals. Many summoners also consider them a visible badge of their expertise in their craft. In the same way that a griffon is more than a mere combination of eagle and lion, magical beasts usually eclipse the ability of animals, even if they resemble them or share some aspects of theirs. Choose a magical beast on which to model your familiar, paying points for special powers from the Familiar Powers List; spend the rest on stats. New masters might hope for a . Senior Masters could opt for a basilisk, gargoyle, ghoul, even a manticore.

  • Primary movement type = DEX. Others = 2/3 DEX.
  • Armor Points CON/ 6.
  • Athletics: DEX x4; Perception: INT x3; Evade: DEX x3;
  • Attack – as Base creature, DEX+STR+INT+POW% to start.
  • Attack Damage – STR+SIZ 10 or less = 1d4; Over 10, 1d8 for every 30 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: Armor, Command Own Kind, Conjure/ Dismiss, Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Improved Damage, Improved Movement, Improved Protection, Poison, Shapeshift, Special Attack, Tracking.

 

Item [5 Points] Availability: Enchanter; Even less noticeable than an animal, an item has the potential advantage of being in the enchanter’s possession at all times. On the other hand, an item familiar cannot physically act of its own volition, and may only leave the sorcerer if removed by her and put down, where it becomes vulnerable. The benefit of an item familiar is that no Creation Points need be devoted to STR or DEX, allowing the item greater score in other attributes. If you want an desirable, or attractive item, spend points in CHA. Otherwise the item is rather lackluster in appearance.

  • Primary movement type N/A
  • Armor Points CON/ 4.
  • Hit Points = CON.
  • Perception: INT x3; Detect Magic POW x3. 
  • Attack: Possible through Powers.
  • Attack Damage: See Powers.
  • Possible Powers: Armor, Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Poison, Poison Cloud, Special Attack, Tracking,

Elemental [7 Points] Availability: Elementalist, Summoner; A showy, but demonstrably useful familiar, elementals also may be dismissed and summoned at will. This elemental is different from the standard elementals conjured by sorcery in that it has been given independent existence and intellect. The sorcerer may determine the appearance of the elemental as she wishes. Elementals are immune to damage of their type. Movement is based on the type of elemental. When interacting with other elementals on the Elemental Interaction table, Elemental Familiars are equal in Rank to their Master’s Manipulation Limit for that Element.

  • Primary movement type (Improved or Eldritch Movement as type) = DEXx2.
  • Armor Points CON/ 6.
  • Athletics: DEX or STR x4; Perception: INT x3; Evade: DEX x3; Elemental Lore INT x5.
  • Attack – by element, DEX+STR+INT+POW% to hit.
  • Attack Damage – Elemental 1d6 for every 20 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: , Armor, Command Own Kind, Conjure/ Dismiss, Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Heat Vision, Improved Protection, Special Attack – Elemental.

Demon [15 Points] Availability: Wizard; Similar to an elemental, a demon is a flashy familiar, with potentially powerful abilities, that may be dismissed and summoned at will. The Wizard may craft his demonic familiar according to his whim, and purchase powers as noted below.

  • Primary movement type = DEX. Others = DEX /10.
  • Armor Points CON/ 6. Silver counts as Piercing 3 against these AP.
  • Athletics: DEX x4; Perception: INT x3; Evade: DEX x3; one Lore Skill INT x5.
  • Attack – as Base creature, DEX+STR+INT+POW% to start.
  • Attack Damage – STR+SIZ 10 or less = 1d4; Over 10, 1d8 for every 30 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: Armor, Beguiling Visage, Conjure/ Dismiss, Dark Vision, Detect, Eldritch Movement, Far Vision, Improved Damage, Improved Movement, Improved Protection, Shapeshifting, Special Attack.

 

Undead [5 Points] Availability: Necromancer; For the necromancer, nothing demonstrates his mastery of the undead like an undead familiar. There are many potent types, and the necromancer can readily improve or replace his familiar’s body when the resources permit.

  • Primary movement type = 2/3 DEX. Others = ½, if applicable.
  • Armor Points CON /6. Death Rune weapons count as Trueblade against this creature.
  • Athletics: DEX x2; Perception: INT x3; Evade: DEX x2;
  • Attack – as Base creature, DEX+STR+INT+POW% to start.
  • Attack Damage – STR+SIZ 10 or less = 1d4; Over 10, 1d8 for every 30 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: Armor, Beguiling Visage Dark Vision, Detect, Eldritch Movement, Improved Damage, Improved Movement, Improved Protection, Life Drain, Shapeshifting, Special Attack.

 

 

Powers:

  • Armor – Each Point spent raises the Armor Points of the Creature by 1.
  • Beguiling Visage – The creature can adopt the illusory semblance of other creatures, though none of their powers, allowing it to approach, even beguile or seduce.  [CHA] [Cost – 5]
  • Command Own Kind – The creature can command and control others of its “kind”. Elemental familiars may only control elementals that share in their element. Animals may control creatures of their type (an alynx familiar could command or control lions, housecats, other alynxes, etc) Other creatures must choose a type of creature, and may add more types for 1 point per type. If the creatures to be commanded are hostile, a CHA vs. POW roll is required. [CHA] [Cost – 5]
  • Conjure/ Dismiss – You can conjure or dismiss the familiar at will as a normal action. When dismissed, you are still in metal contact, can access its INT or POW, but it has no corporeal form. [Cost – 1]
  • Dark Vision – the creature can see in darkness equally as well as a cat. [INT] [Cost 2]
  • Detect – The creature has the ability to detect a particular type of thing (examples include, enemies, life, magic, gold, etc;] in a radius equal to POW x3 Yards. The accuracy and detail is based on the success level of the roll [INT] [Cost – 2]
  • Eldritch Movement – some form of supernatural movement (Phasing through solid substances, traveling as mist or smoke, teleportation, interdimensional travel, etc), though more than one form may be taken, so long as each form is purchased separately. The cost is reduced by 1/3 if there is some significant limitation on it [teleport – only from or to fire, or phasing through stone, for example]; If others can be carried the cost is increased by 1/3 for each passenger increment (1,2,4,8, etc). [DEX] [Cost – 10]
  • Far Vision – The creature can see things that are 20 times as far away as if they were within a few yards. [INT] [Cost – 2]
  • Heat Vision – The creature can perceive the heat given off by objects and creatures. One benefit of this is that invisibility often does not mask heat. [INT] [Cost – 3]
  • Improved Damage – The creature’s damage with its primary attack form is particularly devastating (which should be represented by the description of the creature). Increase the die type of damage listed by 1 (d6 to d8, for example). [Cost – 2]
  • Improved Movement – The Creature movement ability is enhanced, either in terms of speed (x2 listed for primary, or equal to the attribute for one other). It is also possible that the improvement is qualitative, in which case Athletics or other checks for this movement form are at +50%. [DEX] [Cost – 2]
  • Improved Protection - The figured Armor Points rise by 1. For example: a Construct with Improved Protection 3 would gain CON/ 4 + 3 AP per location. With CON 20 this would be 5 + 3 or 8 AP. [CON] [Cost - 2]
  • Life Drain – The creature can drain the blood or life energy from a victim it touches, bites, etc. The creature may drain 1 Point of CON (Blood), or POW (Life Force) whenever it strikes in melee, or touches a willing victim. This stolen point raises the CON of the attacker immediately or automatically heal a point of damage currently suffered. The Attacker cannot go beyond twice its original CON in this way. In addition, the CON of the creature is reduced by 1 each day, eventually reaching 0 CON if it is not replenished, at which point the familiar is too frail to move, but remains aware and in pain unless destroyed somehow. Many necromancers who create wights or vampiric familiars resign themselves to feeding the things continually. The Drain damage inflicted may be increased by 1 point for each increment: 1d2, 1d3, 1d4, 1d6. [Cost 6]
  • Poison – The creature has a poisonous bite or sting, equal to 2/3 CON in Potency. If the attack does any hits of damage to a victim, the Poison does 1 point of damage to the victim’s attribute per round [chose the attribute when the power is purchased]. For +2 Points, the Potency = CON. For each extra point, the Damage goes up according to the following scale: 1d2, 1d3, 1d4, 1d6. Poison may also be used to represent a sleep sting (damage INT), paralysis (damage DEX), enslavement [damage POW], etc. Animals and magical beasts generally have poison in keeping with the type they represent, and must pay 1 extra point to affect INT or POW. [CON] [Cost 6]
  • Poison Cloud – Poison Cloud, as above, except the cloud issues from the familiars designated position, either as a radius around it, or a cone forward of it. Radius is equal to SIZ/6. [CON] [Cost – 10]
  • Shapeshifting – The Creature may shapeshift, exchanging STR, CON, SIZ and DEX points between the these attributes, and altering its appearance, even buying alternate movement forms, vision, etc. This is a complex power usually only held by demons. GMs should feel free to restrict or deny its availability. The creature may have a single alternate form  (worked out in advance) to and from which it may shift at will, or it may shapeshift to whatever form it can replicate and return to its original form once per day. Each extra point allows another shift per day. Additional physical Attribute points may be bpurchased for a shapeshifted form – 1 Creation Point will gain 5 Attribute points to add to a single form [either the base creature, or a single other chosen form].  [Cost – 10]
  • Special Attack – The creature possesses a ranged attack of some sort: spikes its hurls, a gout of fire it spits, a spear of ice it can create and throw. Range is Close 10/ Far 50, or a Cone that projects from the creature’s position a number of yards equal to SIZ /6. Damage is 1d6 per 20 STR+SIZ. Chance to hit begins at CON+DEX+INT+POW%. The creature can make this attack CON/ 5 times per day. Additional uses per day may be purchased for 1 point each. [Cost -10]
  • Tracking – The creature can track (as the Advanced Skill) using its INT x5 as a starting skill percentage. [Cost – 2]

 

Examples:

#1:

Sivastri, who has recently mastered sorcery and chosen to specialize in elementalism, wants a air elemental familiar that can carry her over long distances. Her Elementalism is at 50%, so she has 70 Creation Points. . She spends 7 points to gain an elemental familiar, leaving her 63 to spend on powers and attributes. Fortunately, elementals already have much of what she wants. She just needs to make sure it is robust enough to carry her overland. Here is what the Elemental gets as its base:

  • Primary movement type (Improved or Eldritch Movement as type) = DEXx2.
  • Armor Points CON/ 6.
  • Athletics: DEX or STR x4; Perception: INT x3; Evade: DEX x3; Elemental Lore INT x5.
  • Attack – by element, DEX+STR+INT+POW% to hit.
  • Attack Damage – Elemental 1d6 for every 20 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: Command Own Kind, Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Heat Vision, Special Attack – Elemental.

She gives her Elemental enough STR to carry her [10], sufficient CON to keep it going for a while [13], DEX to let it move quickly [13]. She gives it 10 SIZ to make it sufficiently large to carry her in comfort (and boost its Hit Points), and then scrimps a little on INT [7], and POW [10], intending to improve them as her skill in Elementalism rises. Her elemental is able to bear at a movement rate of 26 [Half again faster than a galloping horse, for 3 hours with ease. It is can store 7 INT of her spells, and provide her with 10 POW for spellcasting or other purposes. And she can still direct it to work and fight for her as any other air elemental, though it is a rather weak combatant. The elemental also has 2 Armor Points, but it will not make a good councilor on elemental matters until she can improve its INT. Finally, since Sivastri has a Manipulation limit of 5, the elemental is rank 5 for purposes of Elemental Interaction.

STR 10    CON 13     SIZ 10      INT 7      POW 10        DEX 13    

HP 12             Armor Points 2         SR 10

Move 26 [Fly]          Attack 40% to hit, 1d6 Damage - 1d2 Damage penalty

 

#2:

Machariades the Black, with 87% in Summoning (and 107 Creation Points), wishes to create a familiar in the form of a shadowcat, that can shapeshift into a horse when required. After putting together all the unguents and magical materials, he is set to create his familiar. He must take a Magical Beast [he is not a wizard, so he cannot summon a demon] as the type of creature. With 7 points spent for a magical Beast, he has 100 points to spend on the creature’s attributes and powers. Shapeshifting will cost 10 for the base ability, leaving 90 for other powers and attributes. Macharaides allots them as follows:

STR 10, CON 16, SIZ 10, INT 10, DEX 28, POW10 = 84 Creation Points, He adds Dark Vision for 2 Points.

HP 13             Armor Points 3         SR 19

Move 22 [Run]          Attack 54% to hit, 1d8 Damage - 1d2 Damage Penalty

Athletics: 112%; Perception: 30%; Evade: 84%;

All in all a tough Shadowcat: With 3 Armor points, extremely good DEX, large and strong for a shadowcat and adequate INT and POW for its role.

Machariades then works out the horse form: He has 64 points in STR, CON, SIZ and DEX to arrange. Macharaides decides to spend extra points on shapeshifting to increase his familiar’s physical attributes while shifted. 4 Points will get him 20 Points to add to any of STR, CON, SIZ or DEX in a single form. The cost for Shapeshifting goes up to 14 (Quick recap, 107 – 7 – 14 = 86 Creation Points for Attributes and powers other than shapeshifting.) But Machariades has 20 points to add to his horse form’s physical attributes, for a total of 84 in those four. He rearranges his familiar’s feline attributes, adds the extra 20, and comes up with this. He elects to drop the Dark Vision in horse form, and add Improved Movement to increase the horse’s speed to 24 overland (much faster than a normal horse). Improved Movement costs 2, the same as the Dark Vision.

STR 28     CON 16     SIZ 28      INT 10       DEX12        POW10

HP 22             Armor Points 3         SR 11

Move 24 [Run]          Attack 60% to hit, 2d8 Damage + 1d12 Damage Bonus

Athletics:48%; Perception: 30%; Evade: 36%;

  • Primary movement - land = DEX. Others = 2/3 DEX. Cat form 28 Yards, Horse 24 yards.
  • Armor Points CON/ 6. 3 AP as cat AP, 3 as horse,
  • Athletics: DEX x4; Perception: INT x3; Evade: DEX x3;
  • Attack – as Base creature, DEX+STR+INT+POW% to start.
  • Attack Damage – STR+SIZ 10 or less = 1d4; Over 10, 1d8 for every 30 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: Command Own Kind, Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Improved Damage, Improved Movement, Shapeshift, Tracking.

 

If he wished, Machariades could have saved the 14 points he spend on shapeshifting, added that to the Shadowcat’s INT and POW equally to have a single form as below:

STR 10, CON 16, SIZ 10, INT 17, DEX 28, POW17

Such a familiar, though not capable of acting as a riding beast, would  be much more useful for casting spells on its own, as an aid to memorizing spells, and as a source of POW.

 

#3:

Thrandulf the Bloody, chooses to create an animal familiar to help him hunt and survive his simple, rather brutal, lifestyle in the wastelands. His specialty skill, which we must make up based on his cabal - the Beast Lords - is called The Hunter's Path. Thrandulf, a relatively Beast Lord, has 56% in this skill, granting him 76 Familiar Creation Points. Thrandulf considers his ideal familiar, envisioning the Wolf personified in his own name (-ulf).

  • Primary movement type = DEX. Others = DEX /10.
  • Armor Points CON/ 8.
  • Athletics: DEX x4; Perception: INT+POW x3; Evade: DEX x4;
  • Attack – as Base creature, DEX+STR+INT+POW% to start.
  • Attack Damage – STR+SIZ 10 or less = 1d3; Over 10, 1d6 for every 30 STR+SIZ. 
  • Possible Powers: Command Own Kind, Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Improved Damage, Tracking.

 

STR 13, CON 14, SIZ 13, INT 6, DEX 14, POW 10 = 70 Creation Points.

HP 13             Armor Points 2         SR 10

Move 28 [Run]          Attack 43% to hit, 1d8 Damage +1d2 Damage bonus

Athletics: 58%; Perception: Tracking 48%; Evade: 58%;

With his remaining 6 Creation Points, Thrandulf gives his wolf Improved Movement, Improved Damage, and Tracking (the profile above reflects these powers). He would like to include Command Own Kind, but decides that he needs a companion and aide more. He vows to give his familiar that power when he can.

 

#4:

Demosthenes the Enchanter (our exemplar from the stat of this post) with Enchantment at 44%, has only just attained Mastery. he requires an item familiar to aid in his work and decides on a ring that will be with him at all times, and is unlikely to be misplaced (a failing in Demosthenes is that he has a habit of leaving things lying around). he also need devote only a single Creation Point ot SIZ, since a ring is so small, saving more for INT and POW, where he intends to place most of his 64 Creation Points. Creating a ring familiar costs 5 Points, plus 1 for the SIZ 1, and he has spent 6 so far.

He allots 21 to CON, making the ring fairly tough, but by no means indestructible. Because Demosthenes is not a showy individual, he cares not for a showy item, and devotes no CHA to the plain iron ring of his mastery. Before dividing the remainder between INT and POW, he decides that Detect Magic would be a useful addition in his line of work. After an instant dreaming about shooting blasts of fire from the ring, he comes to his senses. Detect Magic costs 2 Creation Points, leaving him 37 to place in INT and POW. Demosthenes possesses a keen intellect, and requires the same of his familiar as he envisions long talks about esoteric enchanting problems. And with 20 POW, he will have much more available for his work and the ring itself will be a potent defensive aid and spell caster.

  • Primary movement type N/A
  • Armor Points CON/ 4.
  • Hit Points = CON.
  • Perception: INT x3; Detect Magic POW x3. 
  • Attack: Possible through Powers.
  • Attack Damage: See Powers.
  • Possible Powers: Dark Vision, Detect, Far Vision, Poison, Poison Cloud, Special Attack, Tracking,

STR 0      CON 21      SIZ 1       INT 17        POW 20     DEX 0

HP 21                    Armor 5            SR 0

Move 0          Attack - may cast spells it or Demosthenes has memorized

Athletics: 0%; Perception: Detect Magic 51%; Evade: 0%;

 

Next time – More on Familiars, and The Master-Familiar Bond!