Human Familiars Possible?

So, Mages of Hermes shows us an easy and hard way to "bend" the rules. So your example is not sovereign.

You are kind of arguing my point here. "So, if you're starting your research by trying to bind a human as a familiar, that discovery, in my opinion, might allow you to invest vis into a human, somehow, someway, with unexpected and possibly undesirable results.". So the Mage has an OR project to "make a human familiar", and three Discoveries in, does something (he doesn't quite understand, what, he hasn't Stabilized it) that allows him to invest vis into a human. And he stops. Turns out that was why he wanted a human familiar and this is good enough. He's gotten what he wanted and has no Breakthrough points accumulated. Do you rewrite the story, make "investing vis into a human" the endgoal of the OR, and not allow the player to use it until he's gotten enough Breakthrough points? Really? This is what I am talking about. Some projects are trivial. Tree Talisman. Magic Human Familiar. Not allowed by the Rules, but just cool flavor. Gwidion's story is not his Talisman, it's saving his forest. A Magic Human Familiar is cool, but what does it do that a vanilla Magic Cat Familiar (one that changes into a human, canon example of things to do to Familiars) doesn't? Let those players roll the Discovery crapshoot until you think they have spent enough effort to get what they want. It's far less open to abuse then many other things in game. Discoveries are singular, until you have enough Breakthrough points, any variation in the effect requires a new Discovery (Which, again, is as random as you want it to be......).

Yes, Original Research is wonderful. But everyone seems to have a problem with scale. Yes, some projects need 60 Breakthrough points. But nothing in the rules says that one is not enough for a smaller project. Like, for example to get a Magic Human Familiar. This is a trivial project, does nothing the Familiar rules don't already allow, and you only get one Familiar, so it's a dead end project anyway.

Manamar, the sticking points are making a mundane Familiar, making more then one, and, perhaps, the rule of True Devotion. That is a big project. Yes, for that I would make the player crawl through the mud for decades.......

One more thought. The virtues for Faerie Familiars and Spirit Familiars both give "extra" cord effects. What would the "extra" cord effects be for someone who had successfully researched a virtue for binding mundane humans?

No Magi of Hermes is not an example of bending the rules. Magi of Hermes is the rules. It's a supplement published by the makers of the game we are all talking about. When it when it shows living plants being enchanted without any special breakthrough or virtue that makes it a fact in the Game world. Whether there was any hint of that in any previous publication or not. No Magus would find it odd and barring flaws all Hermetics can do it if they want to and have always been able to.

No that is not the way OR works. For each separate experiment you choose an effect that is related thematically to the end goal, but is otherwise something the mage is already capable of creating. Do you understand that you create the effect when you finish the individual experiment whether you roll a discovery or not? All a discovery result does is give you points toward finishing the breakthrough, and then only once it's stabilized. If you have a reference that defines a discovery otherwise please share it.

All I can say is that your understanding of Original Research is utterly incorrect. A Discovery dies not mean you have your final goal, or even something close to it. It means you have discovered something and you have the opportunity to stabilize the potential discovery into a final discovery and move to accumulate progress towards the ultimate breakthrough. If you, as an SG want to award something for the discovery roll as a bonus, sure, go for it, but that is outside the bounds of the OR rules. Heck, if you want to disagree with me and say that you can bind a human from the beginning, go right ahead. But let's not confuse the fact that if an SG requires his players to go through OR to figure out to bind a human as a familiar that the first discover during OR automatically makes it so. That simply isn't the case.

Well, Maine75man, I refer you to Mr. Link, who I believe is better rated then the both of us, who's example of a Discover was "investing vis in a human", which is not "something the mage is already capable of creating". So not as clear as you might hope. Neither is Mages of Hermes, which Mr. Link also had problems with.

I got that Mr. Link. I do understand the OR rules. Certainly a project to make a human Familiar would take a lot of time and effort. What I am saying is that it works quite well if you "metagame" the process for small things not worth the complete process. Again, we go with your example of trying to make a human Familiar, and getting a Discovery that allows one to invest vis in a human. Out of game, that was what was desired, or close enough. In game, the mage finds the process too much and stops. Either way, the Discovery is not lost if we stop at that point. So if a player wants to to something trivial, like binding a Magic Human Familiar, the SG and him would get together and spend a few seasons, risking himself and his lab, trying for a Discovery that will get him the effect he wants without spending years of his life.

Simply incorrect characterization of what I've said, or what the OP wanted.
I give up.

Indeed. I didn't want it to devolve into a feud or flame war. :frowning:

I appreciate all the comments and will be looking towards OR/integration as the way to go with my player. I suspect the thought of that much research will put him off doing the work... but being a Tytalus, he'll probably persuade the resident Bonisagus to do it for him!


Them there's fighting words. Only a true Tytalus can see Original Research through to its logical conclusion. The rest of the Houses of the Order of Hermes have lost their will to push the limits. It is up to me, as a Tytalus, to blaze the trail. :laughing:

Anyone can bully a Bonisagus into figuring something out. :laughing:

Why don't you let Mr. Link speak for himself if he chooses. I asked you if you could back up assert ions regarding how individual experiments work. I still think your confusing the process with Integration Research.

While you can't really do that with OR that is exactly what you can do with Integration Research the SG has total control of what inspirations are provided. So you need their cooperation to succeed. If your only studying Rune magic to get a magic sword that isn't stopped by Pama then if that's the first project you given you'll stop there.

This happens to me as well. Often I just can't explain to another player that, "Yes, I know the process is going to fail. Yes, I know it is not allowed by Ars rules. And Yes, I STILL want to have my character do it even though they will fail... it's called roleplaying."

When I am the ST myself I will often allow some forgiveness in the rules if it means making a better story for that player, but I also will talk it over with the player OOC about how they feel about failing. Sometimes failing in a story is more interesting than succeeding in a story.

I will say that, if everyone at my table, or in my online virtual table disagreed with me in my decision, I would reverse. But what one player thinks is story, another player might easily see as being advantage. Whether true or not, you play in a collective. And in a troupe system, I feel that the ASG gets the right to veto, but that veto can be over-ruled by the concurrence of the table.

Gaming table consensus comes into play here.


An intriguing possibility is the following. We know that a character in Heartbeast form is indistinguishable from a "normal" animal by hermetic magic. Then, it should be possible to bind such a character as a familiar.

We know from HoH:MC that in theory even the Ungifted could be initiated into the mystery of the Heartbeast (in fact, a rogue Bjornaer doing so is one of the story hooks of the Bjornaer chapter); and we also know from GotF that the Heartbeast is one of the secrets taught by the Forest. Then your Tytalus magus need only trick/bully/convince the would-be-familiar into communing with the Forest to (re)discover the path of the Heartbeast ... or trick/bully/convince a magus of Bjornaer into initiating the would-be-familiar into the sacred Mystery his House!

Oh my. And there's a militant Bjornaer in the covenant too. I think my troupe is going to detonate! Just as we'll there's an Apromor Flambeau in the wings to calm things down. Wait......


The dead are calm. The undead or walking dead, are not.

I say a clear YES on wether it´s possible. But how difficult it is, depends on how hard you want it to be.
In some earlier edition product (i think) there was a magi doing this by creating an alternative set of Cords.
Or make it a rare but not too hard to find mystery.

I would advise against your mentioned downsides, they just don´t look good or "realistic".

I like the notion that you can 'bind' a human in a Familiar-like ritual. This is hardly an unusual idea in fantasy. Just off the top of my head, I can think of the Aes Sedai-Warder bond in the Wheel of Time series, as well as the various 'connections' that Harry Potter has with Voldemort, and several others, over the course of that series.

Assuming for the moment that this is possible, here are some initial ideas:

  • The human in question would need to be touched by magic somehow. This can be anything from having the Gift, being a Mythic Companion, possess one or more Supernatural Virtues, or have the Magical Human or the Transformed Human virtue (from RoP:M). On re-reading the Familiar section in the main book, it notes that the magical animal may have a Magic Might score, not that it must. I took this to mean that the creature only needed to be touched by magic, however lightly, to be suitable as a familiar.
  • This would take Original Research (as mentioned above), but I can see arguments on its difficulty. (Personally, I'd go for Minor Breakthrough):
    [*] Minor Breakthrough: This form of Familiar bonding is just a minor variant on the existing Familiar ritual, which is standard in Hermetic Theory. This assumes nothing else changes other than the the fact that the subject is human
  • Major Breakthrough: "A Major Breakthrough can also allow you to adapt a standard application of a Hermetic idea in a variable way." (HoH:TL p. 27) Under this interpretation, modifying the Familiar ritual to accept humans is not simply a matter of swapping out the subject, but requires a more fundamental change in Hermetic practices (whatever that might be)
  • Hermetic Breakthrough: Perhaps the reason Hermetic magic can't bind to humans is that it runs up against the Limit of the Soul (or some other Limit), and in order to get this to work, a major rethinking of Hermetic Theory is needed.
    ] All other aspects remains the same. A magus may only have 1 bonded familiar, human or animal; the Three Cords are forged; the Cords may be strengthened or enchanted, etc.[/*:m][/list:u]

I think the fallout would be more in the political/social arena. Would this be acceptable to Hermetic society at large? For instance, familiars are allowed at Tribunals being clearly an extension of the magus. Would a bonded human be extended the same courtesy? Would it be considered scrying if you sent your human familiar to spy on a rival even if he or she only used mundane senses? Lots of potential for this development to disrupt Hermetic society and force a number of issues at Tribunal.

This is also something that my magus is interested in. His wife has strong faerie blood and they both have the True Love flaw. She has the greater and he has the minor version.
He knows that he is going to live a long time, and he wants her along for all of it.
As she is classed as "superatural" she can gain the full benefit from a longevity ritual, she also gains a +3 bonus from her faerie blood.
However, my magus is looking at immortality through alchemy and wants her to be with him forever.

As they both have True Love, I thought it would only take several adventures over a period of years to accomplish this task - this thread has opened my eyes a little.

Keep in mind as well that a tribunal may require sacrifice of a familiar as a way to punish a magus- this takes on a whole new dimension if the familiar is human.