Magical Familiars and learning

(Contextual caveat: I well understand that story guide and troupe agreement trump anything discussed in a thread here. This question is for future reference for default assumptions, not to cause any change in any saga I am participating in.)

I have been reading RoP:M and various threads here (I did some archaeology, but the comments I could find seem to predate a critical errata. And did not quite answer the questions.)

As far as I can tell, the errata to RoP:M means that familiars can learn without taking a penalty to their SQ based on magical might. Does this apply to all learning, just to learning with their Magus, or something else?
Related to that, the errata uses the phrasing "learn in the same way as humans". One could reasonably conclude for balance that the penalty removal does not apply to practicing magical qualities.

This in turn leads to two other more general questions about Magical Creatures.
Can a magical creature (assuming it can get an SQ which exceeds its magical might) use experience to gain more (net) magical qualities that its base magical might?
Is there any procedure for raising magical might? There is one described loosely for magical things, but I did not see anything for the other kinds of magical beings.

Humans can have might, too (Magic Humans). So, as a clarification that particular erratum, doesn't necessarily say that familiars learn without penalties imposed by might. But I might be splitting the hair a bit too fine. There is something of a concern that creatures with high might who can also learn, become these supercharged entities that are strong in and out of the lab.

The subsequent section on Transformation for Magical characters covers what you want, see the last paragraph which I'm posting in part, below.

Improved might is a magical quality. I wouldn't allow improving might for magical creatures in any way other than taking improved might.

My interpretation of familiars and learning is that they can learn anything that the magus knows and is willing to teach them or pick up via exposure ( basically with XP). Learning something their Magus does not know costs vis.

Also the creature can reduce the penalty to exp by eating vis. 2 xp for every pawn of vis. Depending on the aura strength and the creatures tolerance for risk that can be the better option since they can always engage in practice. Nothing like a cat learning how to fly by jumping until it floats off.

yes annoyingly, this is an erratum that does not clarify one way or the other.

I would dearly like an explicit statement like

Familiars, even if they have might, suffer none of the penalties of might when learning from any source


Familiars, even if they have might, suffer none of the penalties of might when being taught by their Master, but continue to suffer as a normal creature when learnign from all other sources.

Or Familiars, learn as humans do, and since a human with might suffers penalties to XP, so do Familiars, to the same degree.

Or are these still too ambiguous?

Bob Dillon

This has never been errataed (check ). And already in ArM5 familiars have Might.
If a troupe wishes to have ArM5 replaced by RoP:M here, as this book gives many new options to familiars, that is their decision - but otherwise an unequivocal, explicit rule in ArM5 is not overridden by a later book.


EDIT: The erratum for RoP:M p.52 just refers back to ArM5 p.105 and explicitly re-establishes the priority of ArM5 here.

Humans =/= Magic Humans. Entirely different category of being, with unalike Essential Natures. The only things they have in common are basic shape and corresponding vulnerability to Corpus.

The part of my brain that processes world lore is still in an asylum over the fact that mortal Magic creatures (the ones who suffer and die from Aging) have to deal with the xp penalty, which is based (sometimes directly, sometimes implicitly, depending on which book you're reading) on the nature of immortality, which resists not just Aging but change in general. Despite the fact that the books have sort of failed to keep up the logic there, I generally use it as a motivator for some Magic animals to become Familiars; they trade their immortality away in exchange for the ability to change, gaining xp normally since they've tied their lifespan to their magus.

(This has, on occasion, required some house ruling on my part, along the line of Familiars losing this benefit should the magus achieve immortality, which implies I'm probably stepping from "interpretation" into "house rule" already, but I think it's the most sensible way to treat it on account of the setting.)

And animals are different than humans. The point being that familiars, being animals, learn as humans do. That is, once the familiar is literate, it can learn from books, practice and isn't bound to a very limited set of abilities that animals of the specific species would be limited to learning. The RAW doesn't really indicate how animals learn, or if they can learn, but the statement can be read that whatever you think regarding animals and learning, familiars advance as humans do.

Magic humans and humans advance in the same way, except that their advancement is slowed by their might.

I find it somewhat ironic, whether you are in the camp that believes that RAW from RoP:Magic allows familiars to advance without the might penalty or the camp that house rules it away, that A HR about familiar mortality isn't contemplated. I know that the RAW says that familiars will not die of old age so long as the magus lives, and it suggests that the familiar and the magus die around the same time, but I'm not convinced that it is applicable to all creatures. It makes sense for a bee as a familiar, but it doesn't seem quite a fair trade for a tortoise, or other long lived creature (including all mystical creatures who exist in their realm's auras). In a world setting sense, it isn't much of a bargain to give up mortality to be able to advance some skills, especially when those skills are probably ones that benefit the magus, first and foremost. If the familiar is played by a player, and he gets a say in how he advances, it's a totally different proposition. If the familiar is controlled by the magus's player, and is little more than extension of the magus (which is perfectly fine from a story perspective), then there's very real benefit for the creature to become a familiar. I like to put myself in the position of the potential familiar, the deal for becoming a familiar only makes sense if I can keep the immortality after the magus spins off the mortal coil. I'll have gained some interesting experiences, maybe learned a bit, in exchange for a few years (to an immortal).

What I like about forcing the XP penalty for familiars is the trade-off between a kick a$$ familiar who has a lot of powers and high might, and one who is better suited as functioning as an assistant, both in and out of the lab. There are two fundamental choices, in my way of thinking that determine the might level of the familiar. The reason you pick a low or no might creature is that the familiar will be better able to work as an assistant across a broad range of categories, can learn on its own, independent of the magus. The reason you pick a high might familiar is because you admire its current skill set above and beyond what might be learned. If all familiars don't have a learning penalty, then you will likely have high might familiars for all of your PC magi.

Yes. And since there are no 'Magic Humans' with special RoP:M rules for advancement in ArM5, it's p.105 "Familiars can learn abilities in the same way as humans." could not even surreptitiously allude to them. So a familiar by ArM5 learns like a normal - and especially Might-less - human.


The other angle on this is that familars do not have to have might- so it seems perfectly reasonable to expect that a familiar without might would learn as a human without might and a familiar with might would learn as a human with might.

No. There are no advancement rules for humans with Might in the ArM5 book. So this book cannot reference them on p.105.


There are no advancement rules for animals in the core, book.
I think this is one of those areas that you'll find many people disagreeing on the meaning of the text.

Who would need such rules? Not a familiar.


In this case, One Shot is 100% correct.

They do not. Their rules differ.
Meaning that familiars 'advancing as humans' advance as humans, not magical humans, who advance as 'magical creatures', since sentient magical creatures can take advantage of all the fancy ways of collecting XPs that are available to humans (books, teaching etc)

[quote="Jonathan.Link")except that their advancement is slowed by their might.[/quote]
[size=50]link intentionally broken.[/size]

I believe they are in Grogs. And completely irrelevant for the discussion.

Dogs handled by the Master of Kennels?

Again, as I said to One Shot, this is one of those areas where I think people will just disagree. The original text wasn't written in contemplation of the rules in Realms of Power: Magic altering the rules for advancement for creatures with might, they didn't exist yet. Nor did the rules in Grogs, which are basically da rulez generally.

And they are identical to the advancement rules for humans.

And this is basically why I tried to make the distinction between human and Magic Human earlier, because I don't think the equivalence works. Though even then, my logic regarding mortal/immortal creatures would stay the same. shrug

Though you do bring up an interesting point with the Might-less Familiar. The concept has only shown up in my games once, coincidentally exactly as often as I've seen a magus give a grog relationship advice, and both things happened to work out about equally well.

I don't much mind the lack of difference between low- and high-Might Familiars in-play, once they've put the effort in to get the high-Might creature. I mean, there are easier ways to get combat companions than bonding a strong Familiar, and if that's the reward they'll jump through hoops for, that's their call, and I'll be happy to have some story material they've invested themselves into enough to play through a couple of times. (To date, the majority of my PC magi haven't been willing to take that much time away for something they aren't sure will bear fruit each time.)

What effort? Effort at bonding? You mean getting the lab total sufficient to bind the familiar, or do you mean befriending the familiar?
I'm not speaking to combat, either. I can stuff a bunch of powers into a Might 20 bee, and none of those combat related and still make use of a familiar in other contexts than the lab. That's kind of my point.

I refer to the befriending. As your target Might increases, applicable creatures get exponentially rarer and harder to find, while simultaneously becoming less and less likely to consider a potential magus their superior, or their equal, or even significant enough to consider affording attention at the high end of the spectrum.

(And to be fair, if you're just talking about utility Powers to help outside the Lab, you'll probably have more luck sifting through the significantly more common Might 10> options until you find ones with lots of helpful out-of-lab abilities than you would searching out the one applicable Might 30 Familiar within a hundred leagues and hoping their power will breed utility on its own.)

That's a very subjective approach. I've been in games where finding a high might familiar was as easy as snapping your fingers, and in other games it required a story (maybe multiple sessions). A lot of it depends upon the SG and the stories he is interested in telling. So maybe you find it in a season and befriend it in the same season and next season you bind it. Your comment about the familiar possibly thinking his magus is superior is telling, this is to be the start of a friendship.

In response to your parenthetical comment, why does someone want a high might familiar, if not for a bunch of powers? It doesn't affect the bonding, except to make it more difficult, which means higher lab totals at the initial binding. But a magus can bind any creature, so long as his lab total is sufficient. And it's the binding total which determines cord strength, so the might of the creature is largely irrelevant to the familiar in practice.

Well, the SGs in those games clearly have a different view than I do about how common high-Might creatures are, and about the effects on a Magic creature's personality from it most likely being in the Winter stage. This isn't a bad thing, though I have to admit I find positions that ignore these things somewhat confusing. Now, granted, the counterpoint to this is that many troupes, as have been mentioned, treat Familiars as extensions of the magus. I can more easily understand handwaving Familiar acquisition if the Familiar is meant to basically be a tool for the magus... But as you said yourself, this is a friendship or something very close to it, and it feels off to me that what amounts to the only friend of many magi would be treated as a mechanical consideration rather than a character.

As for your comment about "this is a friendship," I would argue that not all magus-familiar relationships are necessarily friendships in the normal sense, since the requirements are a close emotional bond, the familiar respecting the magus, and the magus adoring the Familiar; this could take the form of a mentor-student relationship, a parent-child relationship, or a (small) number of other close bonds that nonetheless have one considering the other superior in some sense. Though it's true that most familiar-magus relationships will be the standard friends, who would consider each other equals, so your point still stands most of the time.

Well, the most common desire I've seen is that people want a familiar who can help their character out in fights, since a high-Might creature, while almost certainly not magically superior to any magus that could bind them, usually have physical or general combat capabilities far outstripping their magus and his grogs. Now, a high-Might creature with utility Powers will almost certainly have stronger abilities, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'd be more versatile (or even more numerous; plenty of high-Might creatures will have relatively few Powers).

Now, that's in the normal world. If you want me to be perfectly honest, I like my players, so if they're going for a high-Might creature specifically for utility, the one that they eventually form a bond with will probably have that. But that's just sort of part of giving the PCs a little extra lucky nudge.

(While we're on the subject, that ties into the reason my players also tend towards low-Might Familiars; as I mentioned, I make even finding high-Might creatures fairly difficult, and whether they'll form a relationship with one isn't really knowable until they start interacting with it, so it's sort of a "you take what you can get" business. With low-Might creatures, there are quite a few more of them, allowing magi to be more picky, which I represent by letting the player have a hand in designing the creature.)