Anything Particularly Wrong with These Familiar HRs?

I was going to try being the Alpha SG for the first time at some point in the near future, and was considering a few house rules pertaining to Familiars that I wanted to get opinions on.

The first one (which also involves axing a redundant Merinita Mystery and several other formerly-unique mechanics) is simply allowing any creature with Might to be eligible as a Familiar, regardless of the source of their Might. So it would include Magic, Faerie, Divine, and Infernal beings, as well as even Transformed (Being)s if you can get your hands on a willing one. That also means the creature wouldn't necessarily have to count as an animal, though most still would be simply because animals are generally the most abundant low-Might creatures by a large margin.

That really only adds Faeries to the mix realistically, as Infernal creatures hate and envy everyone and Divine creatures have extremely pressing responsibilities that would keep them from sticking around.

The other house rule I wanted to implement was much more simple; I don't like penalizing players too heavily for trying to work with higher-Might creatures, so I was going to allow that after you've done four seasons of actual lab work with the Familiar present, your Familiar gets a Magic Theory score of 1 for free.

How do these seem? Anything too saga-breaking about either that I might not be catching straight away? And would it hurt too much to also change the Familiar requirements? One of my potential players loves any and all things Infernal and I think he'd be pleasantly surprised if he got the opportunity to take an Imp as a Familiar, but that would need some kind of respect-related condition rather than love and affection (or a really weird Imp).

Getting rid of special cases for Faerie Familiars, Demonic Familiars and both Spirit Familiars from TMRE seems ok. The big issue is Cunning becomes Int-3, while already intelligent creatures might get Int+2.

Not really, the Guardian Angel Virtue might become a "familiar" for a True Faith magus. And demons love to corrupt souls, if you have RoP:I.

Well, 4 seasons at Exposure should be 8 xp. Are you going with the RoP:M need to consume vis? And will you follow the Magic Might limit from p34? Both have been discussed here before, and there are no consensus on how to resolve them.

I don't see a problem with this. In-character there will presumably still be some social pressure about what is appropriate as a familiar. Merinita magi will still favour faerie ones, and most other magi will probably think that a bit weird. And if a character has an infernal familiar, he will want to keep the existence (or at least realm affiliation) of that familiar secret; as otherwise he will be marched as an infernalist.

ArM5 (page 103) says that "Familiars can learn Abilities in the same way as humans." The canon reading is that this over-rides the rules in RoP:Magic about the learning rates of magic creatures. So, a magic creature, bound as a familiar, serving as a Lab assistant is eligible to earn exposure XP in Magic Theory. So after three seasons will have 6 XP; i.e. a Magic Theory Ability Score of 1(1).

Ah. I was misreading the canon rules for that second thing. Gotcha. That actually makes being a Familiar a pretty good business for creatures with obstructive Might scores. Anyway, glad that's cleared up. (Wait, so I was getting totally screwed over in my last saga! ... Ah, whatever)

I usually read that as one of the implicit reasons a creature with magic might would WANT to become a familiar: for a time, they understand the temporal, changing nature of the mortal world, and thus can determine how to change themselves.

Plenty of people (apparently) do house rule the other way --- that the RoP:Magic rules supercede the familiar rules in the corebook. There's no problem with that either; you just might not have realised it was in fact a house rule.

Typically, specific rules override general rules, and newer rules override older ones. RoP: Magic makes the (strong) case that magical critters are resistant to change, thus the difficulties they face learning new stuff. This actually offers a reason to have a weak familiar over one as strong as you can manage, something with Might 5-10 can still learn from a teacher or a decent book. Take a familiar with Might 30, and they're not much help in the lab, but have awesome powers. Seems like a fair trade to me.

Nah, the basic books should stay true, anything later may refine that truth for special cases. It should never run contrary to the basic rule without clearly stating it is a replacement and not a supplement.

Take Covenant's books as an example: they are a refinement of ArM5 books but still follow the same path.

From a meta POV, you don't want ArM5 to lose its value because all the rules got superceded by supplements.

Of course, they then die at the end of that period.

They give up immortality to be a familiar, and in giving up immortality they lose the block-on-learning that all immortals seem to have (Angels are already perfect, Demons are too proud to bother learning, Magical immortals are stuck in their ways, and Fae Immortals don't even actually know anything to begin with, they just pretend to :p)

Some magic creatures do age (Susceptible to Deprivation + Age Quickly flaws), but the familiar bond frees them from Acclimation, which is pretty significant, especially for creatures with Might20+. Also, being immune to age isn't the same thing as being immortal; creatures with weak magic might are easy prey for many other beings. How long does a Might 5-10 magic rabbit survive in the wild before a mundane wolf eats it? That rabbit will live a century or more as a familiar, probably 100x its life expectancy in the wild.

With two Rabbit Superpowers: LongTwitchy Bunny Ears (hear those predators really well) and The Ginormous Jump of the Itty Bitty Bunny (similar to one of various ReCo teleportation spells)

(A Might 50 bunny is truly scary, as we all know from those classic Warner documentaries...)


I see no problem with giving a familiar a few xps per year. exposure xp will break nothing.

But, if a rule is wanted: Every point of binding total beyond that needed to bind the familiar cancels one point of its Might for the purposes of learning. If a magus' scores goes up, he needs to spend a season updating the bond for the familiar to take advantage, as usual.

Also, for high-magic might familiars, it's conceivably the other way around: they have a human who might unfortunately die early, and they'll be sad about it, but it won't kill them.

EDIT - I read an article once about non-agingfrom the perspective of insurance acturary tables; one of the points was that, assuming you don't die of age-related illnesses (cancer, basically), the average American would live to be around 900 or so - and they'd probably die due to being hit by a bus or in an auto accident of some sort.

So, if you are somehow magically immune to all the things that usually kill people, you will eventually die by one of the things that rarely kill people? Also, how is an American going to get hit by a bus in 900 years time; are these methuselah's all going to be killed in a tragic accident during an old-folks visit to a poorly maintained transport-museum?

I think that the lesson here is that insurance actuary tables are rubbish if you apply them to a population different from the one they were gathered from, like all relationships based on statistical analysis of a population.

Pretty much. Although I think that, depending on where you lived, there was a slight statistical blip for being randomly shot; but yeah, "traffic accidents" was going to be the likely killer of a non-ager.

I don't believe it was "oh, I turn 900 today! WHAM!" Rather, 900 years was the statistical average; the hypothetical methuselah could be killed by a traffic accident at any point in their life, but if you assumed the same general risks of living in 21st century America, the bell curve of their lifespan would be centered around 900 years.

And yes, I do understand that 900 years in the future will probably have different issues (hopefully traffic safety technology will have improved by then, at the least.)

So many ideas!
My fifty cents...
I also allow Familiars to learn without much restriction. As a nod to RoP-Magic, I rule that the Familiar is unrestricted in learning when it involves their magus; being taught, lab exposure, adventuring together, exposure hanging around the magus while he does other things like study, etc. I disallow independent study, though I might be convinced to let the familiar read a book their magus wrote.
Familiars of different Realms, I am not so keen on that. But whatever works for you. I wouldn't do it because it alienates certain mysteries and concepts from the Realms books. And the concept of a Divine Familiar is alien to my way of thinking. ut maybe for a holy magus? Eh?
Not all Familiars need to have a Might score, as long as there is something that qualifies as Inherit Magic. This could be a Virtue, a Flaw, or some Warping.
As far as the immortal magic creature after their magus dies, I figure it is best to have them "drift away"and not nail down an explaination.
And for the 900 year old guy hit by a bus on his birthday, I think this is a humorously ironic way for a guy born in 1014 to meet his end. Presuming this is fictional of course.

It's interesting to note that in RAW having a Might is optional. You only need an animal with inherent magic which apparently doesn't always mean a might score. And faerie familiars seem to be even more lossely defined. In game terms what is a person with no faerie might score but has "become fay by close association with the Faerie Realm"? To me that sounds like a character with Faerie Blood or even just Faerie Affinity traits. But that seems like a low and abusable place to set the bar.

Personally I've always liked keeping familiars in the small magical helper category over sticking to the RAW rules and special Virtues. I like letting a ReIg specialist have a small earth elemental as a Familiar without requiring a special virtue because it's cool and thematic. And I don't really care to see characters binding the biggest most powerful famlier their scores allow simply because they can.

Personally I'm all for house rules that support more thematic choices.

I think I read that one. A vanishingly small amount of people survived into 10,000 years of age. Remember that, in general, young people take more risks and there's no reason to thing that perpetually young people wouldn't do the same. Old age is nature's way of telling you to slow down, after all. But of course the study couldn't account for future medical technologies and the like. Check out the RPG Eclipse Phase for a society with functional immortality (copy and download your brain into new bodies), where final death is usually caused by insanity brought upon by rapid, repeated deaths or other brain-bending events (integrating brain copies, living in strange bodies).

Just wanted to throw my 2 cents behind Marko.
He's pretty spot on my my money.

I'd tend to agree, but if the player wants the special bond qualities of the Spirit Familiar, obviously that virtue is necessary.

It's been talked about, usually by a flambeau who wanted a battle companion and not just a pet.
We haven't had one in saga yet though.

Well, there was the one Flambeau magus of the School of Ramius, who wanted to bind a dragon. He had the notion that his covenant fellow with Mythic Blood and the power to change shape to a small dragon was actually a dragon able to take the shape of a man and not the other way around.