Runequest Thursday #71 - The Master Sorcerer, Part Three!

Clint Staples

Continuing on from Part One, where we discuss attaining Mastery and what it confers - the Specialty Skill and a Familiar, and Part Two, in which we learn how to create a familiar. In Part Three, we will look at the powers and properties common to all familiars, the Bond between the Master and his familiar, and dip into a couple of familiar-related Feat of Arms.


The Powers and Properties of the Familiar

The familiar is a master sorcerer’s constant companion, at your beck or in you presence at all times, unless you command it to be elsewhere (or you give it the Conjure / Dismiss power). It will do your bidding to the best of its ability, including fighting and casting spells to protect you. If well treated, it can be incredibly loyal as well. Beyond these general traits, a familiar has the following abilities:

  • Speech in whatever language the master chooses when the familiar is created. The familiar may study and learn languages as it may any skill (see Learning).
  • Personality – the familiar will develop its own personality, often sharing or amplifying certain personality traits of its master. The older the familiar, the more pronounced these become.
  • Untiring – Does not require sleep or rest, except under the most exceptional circumstances.
  • Self-Sustaining – Does not need to eat or drink. It may still do so to disguise its nature, or out of enjoyment. A familiar heals at the same rate as a living character, but does not need to eat, rest, etc, to do so.
  • Learning – May learn or improve skills, including Sorcery and Spells, through experience or teaching.  
  • Memorize your spells – you can use the familiar’s INT in the same way as your own for purposes of spell rank memorization. So long as the familiar is within your POW/3 miles you, you can draw on that knowledge.
  • Use of POW – subject to the distance restriction for INT above, you may draw upon your Familiar’s POW for spellcasting or other purposes.
  • Action – the familiar can act as another character under your control, including fighting, casting spells that it has in mind, that it knows or those you have memorized, at your Sorcery Skill percentage, using your POW or its own, and whichever is lower of your or its Manipulation Limit. If it is convenient to do so, the familiar acts on your initiative. If the familiar is distant (beyond your POW/3 miles), the familiar is limited to its own POW, INT and spells stored in its INT.
  • Independence – You may send your familiar on errands or quests. Distance, even interdimensional distance, is not a factor. The Bond between you and your familiar must be maintained, however, so time is significant. If the familiar is away from you for longer than your POW in days, it begins to lose 1 Characteristic point per day until it is destroyed or returns to you (See The Bond, for more information). 


The Bond

The mistress and her familiar are bound each to the other. This is demonstrated in a number of ways:

  • Regardless of distance, each has at least some idea of the condition of the other, and its general circumstance. If necessary a POW check may be used to determine the degree of information known. POW x5 grants basics like level of injury and general condition, direction and distance. Each POW increment lower than x5 grants more details. 
  • Within the master’s POW in yards, the effects of spells the master casts on himself may be shared with the familiar.
  • If the familiar is gravely wounded (brought below 2 HP, but not slain), the master will feel the pain of the injury irrespective of distance. If the master is doing something requiring of concentration or similar, he may make a Sorcery check to continue through the pain.
  • If the familiar is slain, the master instantly loses all access to any of the familiar’s abilities, as well as its POW for spellcasting. He loses access to any spell ranks stored in the familiar’s INT until he can access them in some other way (from a grimoire, etc). he also immediately loses 1d6 Permanent POW. 


Death of a Familiar

As seen above (The Bond), a master and his familiar share a unique and intimate link. This link goes beyond the boundaries of life. Indeed, it is debatable whether familiars are truly alive, or simply a physical manifestation of their mage’s own will and life force. Thus, when a familiar ‘dies’ it might be better to say that it has ben destroyed. And since the sorcerer created it once, it can be re-created again.

The process of re-creating a familiar is identical to creating one in the first place. The sorcerer may use his current specialty skill percentage, and may, if he wishes, create the familiar in a different form, even a different base creature type, so long as it is one that is allowed to his specialty.

The re-embodied familiar has all the memories, skills, even spells that it knew previously. It will not gain the skills listed for its base creature type, but the master may give it powers according to its new type. The master does not regain the POW lost when the familiar was destroyed, and must pay the cost in time and materials, just as for creating a new familiar.

It is also possible to create a wholly new familiar to replace one that has been destroyed. Few sorcerers would chose this path, but to do so, simply go through the creation procedure again.


Familiar-Related Feats of Arms

It is entirely likely that sorcerers will expend time and energy exploring ways to enhance or expand the Bond or their familiar’s capabilities. Note however, that a familiar cannot learn feats of arms, only its master may do so. Here are two, but there will undoubtedly be others out there (also, check back to see more as they are dreamt of).

Note: Familiar Feats usually will require knowledge of a spell to be taken. In addition, you (not the familiar) must have that spell, and any ranks listed, memorized to access the feat. Thus, if you want to make use of the Life Link feat of arms, you must have Heal/Wound 2 or higher memorized.


Life Link – POW 18, Heal/ Wound 2

Cost: 5 Hero Points, and the sorcerer’s familiar must have existed for at least one game year.

You may cast Heal/ Wound upon, or through, your familiar, regardless of the distance between you. Your familiar may do the same in return.

Mental Link – POW 18, Speak to Mind

Cost: 5 Hero Points, and the sorcerer’s familiar must have and INT of 5 or higher.

You can cast Speak to Mind at the rank you have memorized, irrespective of the distance to your familiar.


Next time - Some Specialty Spells!