A steel familiar

The discussion in another thread (Steel as a Minor Focus) had me thinking if and how a magus with a Magical Focus in Steel could bind a familiar.

In my troupe, the player would suggest that his character is looking for one such familiar, and we'd have stories that have him hunt down, say, the mythical Wolf of Steel of the IronWood, or the secrets of Heron of Alexandria allowing him to craft and awaken an Eagle of Steel Anima.

But what about a duller solution?
Use the MuTe level 5 guideline "Change dirt into an animal", and enchant the (Steel) statue of e.g. a bear with such a (constant) effect (MuTe(An) 29: Base 5, +2 Metal, +2 Sun, +4 Levels Constant effect = environmental trigger + 2 uses/day). By analogy with what happens to a human changed into a bear by Hermetic Magic, the statue should be affected by Hermetic magic as if both a steel statue and an animal. Thus, a magus with a magical focus in Steel should be able to bind it as a familiar, while applying his focus.

Of course, it's not 100% clear what would happen if the MuTe(An) magic got suppressed or dispelled...

I feel this should spark a lot of controversy. Which, as a follower of Tytalus, I truly relish :slight_smile:

Could it be a type of Terram elemental? They tend to move very slow.

Otherwise it would be an automaton which could not be a familiar. Now if the automation was powered by a changed spirit... But that would not be a nice way to treat your friend.

Or a faerie familiar...

Note that I am not asking for suggestions about possible steel familiars!
I am asking if you think its feasible to Hermetically change a chunk of steel into animal, which then counts both as steel and as an animal for Hermetic purposes, and bind it as a familar benefiting from the Magical Focus in Steel."

Incidentally, Elementals are Magic Things, and as such can't be bound as familiars barring special Virtues etc.

I'd say no.
It's fundamentally stil just a piece of steel.
Though if you were at my local table, I'd certainly encourage you to try.
And possibly to come up with a novel piece of original research.

+1, agree with Tellus on this.

It is not essentially an animal nor a magical being, so I would not allow this as familiar.

Note that a person turned into an Animal by Hermetic magic can be subsequently affected by both Corpus and Animal (even though he remains "essentially" a person -- this is from HoH:MC).
It then stands to reason that a piece of steel turned into an Animal can be subsequently affected by both Terram and Animal.
Doesn't it follow that it can be bound as a familiar as if it really were an animal?

You could always invent a ritual to create a magical animal. It's not easy, mind you...

Its essential nature is still 'piece of steel'.

That doesn't sound like it can apply to something, that you can return to the state of 'piece of steel' any moment.

A magus with a few Virtues from Breakthroughs in AM p.75ff Heron of Alexandria's Legacy could bind a self-awakened simulacrum from steel, though.


Since a human turned into an animal via MuCo(An) cannot be bound as a familiar either, I don't really see why it would?
Unless I'm much mistaken, there's no indication that the Familiar Bond relies on the Art of Animal in any way, so I fail to see the logic.

Hmm, this is a good point. I'm convinced.

evil smile

I might allow it.

But I'd remind the character that when the Muto spell expires (and all Muto spells expire), the animal reverts to its true nature, which is not an animal at all. At which point, there is no familiar bond at all. All that time? All that vis? Lost. Feel free to try again....

Remember that (at least in the example I was giving) it's a constant effect produced by a magical device.
Sure, one could disenchant it. But it probably takes as much effort as killing the familiar in the first place.

Constant effects can also be disrupted, since they are based on Sun duration. Sure, there might be another charge, but the moment the effect lapses, the familiar is gone.

What if you made the effect constant through the Familiar bond?


Sort of like

a) Create initial Mu effect through an enchanted item or Ritual spell
b) Befriend and bind created animal, which is now your familiar
c) Create new Muto effect via familiar bond, that replicates the initial effect
d) Let initial effect expire

So we've now bootstrapped the familiar. Excellent.


  • The magus needs to concentrate at sunrise and sunset to maintain this new effect, iirc. An Int roll 2/day to remember. Stress, of course, because the stakes are high, especially if he's doing anything interesting that day, such as adventuring, reading a good book from the library, doing lab work.... With appropriate penalties as things get more interesting. Life truly sucks if a magus accidentally crosses to or from the Magic Realm, etc.

  • This effect can be disrupted exactly as for an item.

Finally, antagonists or just plain random entities will try to make this happen. The fundamental rule of drama is that people who live in glass houses attract throwers of stones. (AM5 has an entire supernatural realm dedicated to drama, to encourage reluctant GMs!)




And it would also be completely reasonable for a magus with a familiar of this kind to enjoy 1 Warping Point per season, for having such an intimate bond with something sustained only by magic.



As I said, I'm convinced that this can't work (Tellus did it), but for the sake of discussion:

Sure, someone who dispels your effect bypassing the familiar's resistance breaks the bond. But someone who can do that can probably kill a familiar anyway without taking this particularly perverse approach!

Whether a constant effect can be disrupted as if were "Sun", or if it's a truly constant effect that can only be temporarily suppressed, short of breaking the enchantment, is something that has been discussed at length elsewhere. I think the official position is the second, though I like the first better.

I think you can invest constant effects in the bond -- you are not limited to D:Conc + item maintains concentration. I may be wrong on this though, and I'm too lazy to check.

Ovarwa, you seem to have this sort of nasty cruelty streak that makes you suggest, whenever there's something you don't like, that tons of stress rolls should be made to see if something bad happens as a consequence. I'd hate it if I were a player! I'd never impose the Int stress roll to see if the magus remembers renewing the effect, any more than I'd impose it in a random situation to see if he remembered to renew his Parma.

I'm a nasty cruel person!

I would never do this without warning way up front. But if something is dubious but legal, it is totally proper to say, "hey, there are all kinds of issues with this approach,which is why it is not prevalent, so you are free to do it but be aware that it is likely to fail horribly, and you get no script immunity for this."