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The supplement book Arcane Power introduced familiars to the fourth edition of the D&D game.  Starting on page 137, an entire section of the book is dedicated to how familiars work, the feat needed in order to have a familiar, as well as feats that augment both familiars and your arcane caster.  But, honestly… I hate parts of it as well as love parts of it.

First off, it shouldn’t be a damn feat; it should be a ritual.  Yup, you heard me correctly: it should be a ritual.  As such, I give you the Find Familiar ritual:

Find Familiar

With the last words chanted into the wafting smoke of the incense and components consumed in the brazier, you clap your hands loudly.  There, in the circle you prepared ahead of time appears a small figure: your servant.

 Level: 1                                 Component Cost: Varies; see below

Category: Creation          Market Price: 150 gp

Time: 8 hours                     Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: Permanent

 Prerequisite: Must belong to either an Arcane class, or by multi-classed into an Arcane class to perform this ritual.

Once completed, this ritual binds to the caster a small spirit in the form of an animal or monster.  Familiars are the companion creatures to arcane practitioners, both as friends in their journeys, and as repositories of arcane knowledge and insight.  No two familiars are exactly the same, and none are actually creatures of the type they appear to be.  They are, in truth, those arcane spirits bound into a form they find most beneficial to the caster.

At the Heroic tier of play, it costs 50 gp to perform this ritual; at the Paragon tier, it costs 500 gp; and at Epic tier, it costs 5000 gp to perform the ritual.  At any time, an arcane character may dismiss their familiar.  Doing so costs them one healing surge until they take an extended rest, as they use their own life force to break the bond with the spirit.  Unbound familiars crumble to dust instantaneously.

The player may choose which familiar form they wish their character to receive.  Some DMs may require that the player instead roll on a random table, or they may dictate which familiar the character receives.

Voila, the feat is now a ritual.  Not too difficult.  But, I am not done yet.

I like all of the rules listed for familiars, as far as things like defenses and hit points with the following changes:

Hit Points: Equal to ½ of your Healing Surge value, rounded down.

Destruction of a Familiar: When a familiar is reduced to 0hp, the character no longer gains any benefit from the familiar, and the familiar does not regenerate until after the character’s next rest.  If, for some reason, the familiar is ever reduced to a negative hit point value equal to the familiar’s hp total, it is completely destroyed, and the ritual must be performed again to gain a new familiar.  Either way, the familiar’s master to suffer a -1 penalty to all d20-based rolls until it regenerates in passive mode after the next rest the PC takes. This penalty is cumulative with ALL OTHER PENALTIES, regardless of source.

Objects: The familiar may only pick up Tiny-sized objects or smaller, unless there is a special circumstance as decided by your DM.

DMs may wish to make this ritual available to other mystical power sources such as the Divine, Primal, Psionic, or Shadow sources.  When doing so, the overall flavor of the familiar, i.e. its appearance, should be altered as well.

Primal: The familiar appears more feral, perhaps appearing as a Tiny version of a dire animal, or just with a more savage aura.

Psionic: Psionic familiars tend to appear more crystalline and give off auras and indications of their nature just as their master does.

Divine: Divine familiars tend to either evidence a metallic (gold, platinum, silver, etc.) appearance, or have a glowing aura depending on their master.  Divine familiars are often seen as emissaries of the PCs god, wishing to keep an eye on the character.

Shadow: Shadow familiars appear darker and slightly more sinister than their usual counterparts.

I myself would never allow this, but then again, I am a bit of a strict person about some thematic elements.  I like my arcane casters a bit classic, and it is very infrequent that any other class has a relationship with familiars they way arcane casters do.

That being said… look within the next couple days for a new Druid option: The Animal Companion Druid!

What do you think?

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