Maga's Familiar experience gain

Ave Sodales,

In the core rulebook it is stated that a Maga's familiar earns the same amount of experience as its master. I understand that rule comes from the binding between their both spirits. But it seems a bit confusing in some cases.

Let assume the maga's name is Guynewere from Criamon and her pet is Percy the Magical Crow.

-What happens if Percy stays in Guynewere's covenant when she is going for an adventure for a whole season ? Does the familiar exactly earns same experience points as her mistress anyway ? Even in Abilities he never used ? Or may Percy read some books, do laboratory stuff or Vis gathering in the covenant's garden ?

-Guynewere teaches Percy what she knows about the Philosophiae ability. The rulebook says the student learns a certain amount of experience points in the teached ability, when the teacher may only earn exposure points in Teaching ability. How can it be solved ?

-Let's say Guynewere and Percy both venture to Calebais where the Maga investigates the many magical illusions. Let's say she earns 6 experience points in Art : Imaginem, at the end of the season. Of course Percy cannot do the same, as the poor bird knows nothing about Hermetic Arts (it has no Gift and therefore don't have its arts opened). Is Percy forced to choose for its experience points an illusion-related Ability (p.e. Awareness, Guile, Stealth...) or is it free to pick any ?

-Oh no ! Guynewere unfortunately fell to a (temporate) Twilight episode, trapped in a labyrinth of pure light. As a good Criamon maga, the clever lady understands the mysterious maze and earns 10 experience points (and a few Warping). Does Percy earns same amount ? I assume the answer is yes, though it never went itself in Twilight. Which is a pity, because percy likes to solve mazes.


All I know is

Otherwise it appears to gain its own xp - be that more or less than its master.


In the core rule book at the down of the page 166, in “Familiar in game” section, the first paragraph states that a Maga shares her knowledge and discoveries with her familiar as long as they are together. It may be juste lore description but I thank it was a rule.

You likely refer to

Yes, a magus familiar can learn together with its magus, reading the same books and attending the same lectures at the same time. This is not automatic, though: certainly not if familiar and magus learned from separate sources, or the Ability the magus acquired requires the Gift.


So it is a possibility for scholar activities (as a way to let a Familiar use its mistress' scores) but doesn't work for casual or purely hermetic activities.

I don't see that a familiar uses its mistress' scores in any case but languages.

Both may have gained the same amount of xp in an Ability together some time, but can have still different scores in that Ability.


Well if the characteristics, ability score or personality traits of the Maga play a part in that Maga's earned experience, it could be a bigger amount of experience than what could be earned by the Familiar.

That said, I'm not certain there are scholar activities where those statistics take a part in the earned points...

The maga could be an ArM5 p.40 Book Learner, but not the familiar.

More simply and typically, though, a familiar might already have Survival 3, while its mistress has none. If both practice Survival together for a season, they have still different scores in that Ability.


Doesn't the familiar's Might make it harder for it to learn, anyway?

That was ambiguous for a while (main book implied they could learn as normal, Realms of Power implied the Might made it harder), but has now been clarified in the RoP:M errata (

Thanks very much, Salutor!

Also note that it's technically possible for a familiar to study Hermetic Arts, but only if they have the Gift (Which I believe is available through RoP:M.) Although that would likely make them a Mythic Companion, rather than simply a familiar.

Mythic Companions can't have The Gift: see HoH:TL p.104 box. To make this stick, this is repeated in RoP:TI p.82, RoP:TD p.66 and RoP:F p.112. RoP:M p.88 just refers to HoH:TL for it.

The magic word here is allow. Allowing is done by your troupe, even if the Gifted individual gets the Magic Animal Virtue instead of Transformed Human.

Binding a Magic Animal with The Gift as a familiar and having it learn the Arts from its magus requires some house rules, because otherwise

So it is again the troupe allowing it.

But troupes, that like a Gifted raven familiar casting spells and having its own research projects can house rule one possible. Especially in a higher-powered campaign (player character magi out of gauntlet at least some 30 years) with experienced players I wouldn't expect problems.


I consider the core book a bit unclear here, but I believe the intention was for this bit of text to be flavor text rather than a rule. The Big List of House Rules over at Project Redcap has this to say:

I advocate doing what works for your saga: if you're into hand-waving the familiar, then just letting his Abilities match his master's, save for things like Survival, saves a lot of book-keeping. If you want to treat him like a minor character, letting him learn like any character (without impediment from Might) seems better. Or you can make his Might resist learning, to be more in-line with other creatures with Might and add a challenge for the player to work-around. Whatever works for you.

I have a feeling that there is a bit of legacy text in there, from a time when advancement rules were a little less standardised and generic, and the authors did not necessarily assume that players would want to track the familiar as a full-blown character.

If you choose to make a full character out of the familiar, any deviation from the standard advancement system for magi and companions add complications of absolutely no benefit.

IIRC ArM3 suggested to make the familiar a full-blown character as an option, but this would require inventing some custom rules. The default would be to keep it only partly described. In this context, the statement that its skills will converge towards those of its master makes sense. Not xp by xp, but slowly according to troupe judgement. If you want to track the familiar down to every xp, you do not need this rule.

OK. There is a philosophical question as to what the familiar is. Is it a close companion who does what its master does, enhancing his strengths? Or is it a complementary character, like Hugin and Munin - the ravens of Odin - who go places where he cannot, bringing back news? I think ArM assumes the former, and the familiar should develop the same abilities as the master. In the latter case, xp expenditure should be very different.


AM2 and AM3 allowed for familiar flaws that could help define the relationship between magus and familiar.

I think the 'right' way to do familiars will vary across sagas. For some people, the familiar is best as an independent character, for others as an accessory, and for others it will sometimes be one and sometimes the other.